The Friday Morning Listen: Charlie Haden/ Pat Metheny – Beyond The Missouri Sky (1997)

Vacation Part 3.

OK, so I didn’t win the lottery. I didn’t buy a big house on the Maine coast. There was no affair with the real estate agent. But you could have probably guessed all of that. What came to pass did seem something like a fantasy but somehow … it always does. Two weeks go by in what seems like one long afternoon. How does that happen? And why am I always surprised when it does?

My intent was to catch up on some things. There was a big stack of magazines (New Yorker, The Sun, Poets & Writers) as well as some books. The weather cooperated, and by that I mean that it was cloudy, foggy, and rainy for the whole first week. To be honest, this was probably a good thing as I truly needed some time to decompress. So mornings were filled with words and words and Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny. We do tend to listen to Beyond The Missouri Sky on Saturday mornings and hey, every morning on vacation feels like a Saturday.

When I got to the books, one in particular was to set up some writing. Meghan O’Rourke’s fine memoir The Long Goodbye, about the death of her mother, was to be the catalyst for me working on some an essay about my own experience with family matters, that being the passing of my mother, sister, and father all in a nine-month timespan. But O’Rourke’s book, as good as it was, was not enough to overcome my recent inertia of thought. Instead, I wrote a review of the latest Greg Brown record, and moved on to a handful of other books.

Yes, that inertia is stubborn. Late one evening at the beginning of this week, I finally cracked open the seal on a new Moleskin notebook (this one dedicated to creative ideas as opposed to general thoughts, complaints, bitching). Got my pencil sharpened, stared down the first page … and then went into the other room to watch a couple hours of Deadliest Catch.

Perhaps the most profound thing that has happened down here (not including the discovery of the store that sells nothing but olive oils and balsamic vinegars … oh dear) is the odd sense of not belonging: in my “normal” world. I come here and feel like I’m home. I’ll go “home” and something doesn’t doesn’t quite fit. I see a guy working on some sort of inventory list at the local Whole Foods store and I think, yeah, I could do that. I’d love to do that.

And why don’t I? Well, you know, the usual responsibilities: the house, the car, etc. This circles me back around to my unwritten essay, the main idea being that there are no set rules for many situations and that it’s often difficult to determine the “right” thing to do. We can look back at the aftermath of our decisions and see how things could have been different. I did that after my family chaos and am now doing it with some other things. Is it possible to make a correction this “late” in the game? We shall see.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski