Throwing Muses
Kristin Hersh
Get Involved!

"I Got My License To Sparkle" by Kristin Hersh, November 26 2008 (originally published on

I got my license to sparkle this week.

Jet lag’s a bitch goddess. One of the minor deities that isn’t a drug, yet can still make you feel like a super hero at three in the morning (see: love, music, TV, etc.). I buzz around, getting “things” done. I think vivid, clear, big picture thoughts. I am efficient and sparkling. And I feel a vague sense of pity for the rest of humanity as they lie in bed, useless, unable to sparkle even the wee-est bit.

Of course, I made dinner at three o’clock yesterday afternoon (that’s the bitch part). The children squinted at me, then ate it politely. “I’m not as hungry as you’d think,” said Wyatt gently. “I ate lunch, um…a minute ago.”

By five o’clock, I start to seriously dumben. I wonder how people do what they do. “Wow, they just keep…walking around! It’s amazing. They’re all like, standing up and talking and stuff.” I have ceased to sparkle. The bulb is dim. I am no longer the sharpest can on the tree. My thoughts are extremely small picture: “My fingernails hurt. Can a fingernail hurt? No nerve endings. What the hell is a fingernail, anyway? That’s just weird. Armor for the back of your finger’s head. It’s messed up. And then they grow. Whadda they do that for? ‘Cause then you can’t dial a phone. Dial a phone? Dial? Holy shit, we don’t dial phones any more! Oh my god, that’s so sad. Or roll down windows. My children will never roll down a window. That’s heartbreaking. Do we really need high tech phones and windows? Who are we, anyway? Just buttons, everything’s gotta be goddamn buttons. My fingernails hurt. Remember that guy who grew his fingernails really, really, really, really long? I think somebody married him. Geez. Gross.”

So, basically, I got up at three a.m. to try and sparkle at you before the dumbening kicks in, though I’m not making myself look very smart.

I have a friend who works at Mattel who told me that there is a Barbie product called “license to sparkle,” which is a good name for what jet lag gives me. A few hours after my license is issued, though, jet lag reaches down and takes a firm hold of the rug my brain is standing on, then pulls hard. Before that happens, I’ll tell you about the tour I just did:

The west coast: a big, fat, barrel of motherluvin’ monkey fun. The “Muddy Circle” session at Mudrock’s studio in LA was a cozy, musical cocktail party in the sweet room where 50FOOTWAVE recorded the soon-to-be released “Power+Light”.

The next day, I recorded with the brilliant and beautiful Lauren Shera in Santa Cruz, her heartbreaking songs playing in my head for days (“I can’t sing,” I told her engineer and he laughed. “No, really. Like, can’t,” and he stopped laughing). Lauren put me up in a roadhouse by the ocean, near a lavender farm. Whoa.

Then we crashed with Bernie for the Seattle Shady Circle (ow ow ow I miss 50FOOTWAVE) and woke up to  the perfection of silver sun on Bodhi’s birthday. The next day, Portland wined and dined the birthday boy and hurt our feelings with gorgeous autumn weather and fancy friends.

Then we booked home (17 straight hours) to the desert for a homestyle Bo Birthday Party, then flew to Amsterdam, land of the great and powerful Dutch.

A tough, honest people, the Dutch. You might say honest to a fault; “dismayingly blunt” is maybe a better term. My self esteem is never boosted in Holland. And tough, my god…we call a massage in Holland a “Dutch Pounding.” Performed “Paradoxical Undressing” at a literary festival (“That was long,” commented the Dutch). Best signage in Holland: “Lambs Pizza” and “High Tech Internet Spui.”

Then I flew to London to play Shady Circle and greatest “hits” sets at the packed, teeny Borderline and saw this most wonderful thing on TV while I was there: a budgie circus. A budgie circus. I’m sorry, but your life sucks unless you have seen: a budgie circus. They ride ferris wheels, drive cars, pull carts in tiny harnesses and mess with their human overlord…er, ringmaster.

Budgie circus.

I really want a budgie now. A team of budgies to do my bidding, to be more precise. I can’t see buying ‘em, so I’d have to catch them. They tend not to congregate in the Mojave, though. We only have that one parrot who thinks it’s a crow and I can’t seem to catch him. I could wrangle a few hummingbirds maybe, but they don’t seem inclined to do anyone’s bidding. Hummingbirds’re bitchy.

Best signage in London: “Warning: Handbag Snatchery About.”

Budgie circus.