9am to 9pm with Karima Walker

By Karima Walker

This past year, “a day in the life” has never looked so stagnant. What was once routine has become standstill; we’ve lost the little rituals we used to take for granted. To find them again, we have to look at life a little differently. We created our ongoing series 9am to 9pm to get a glimpse into where artists find creative inspiration in their daily lives.

In this edition, Tucson singer-songwriter, Karima Walker, shows us around her home and walks us through her day, sharing the times she feels most grounded, finds relief, and the more existential moments that arise in our pandemic reality.

7:15 a.m. Arizona is opening back up, more and more people are getting the vaccine. Work is starting to open back up too. In a few weeks even, I may start running sound again for small outdoor shows. Until then though, my days are still fluid. In a turn of events, surprising to me the most of all, I’ve started waking earlier. I put the coffee maker in the bedroom, and I roll out of bed at around 7 am. I am sitting on the floor next to my bed, still half asleep. I hit the button on the machine and wow I don’t even have to get up to drink coffee. To me, this is the height of luxury. My partner and I decided, whoever gets out of bed last has to make the bed, and they also have to whisper to the earlier riser, “so you think you’re better than me?” That’s the rule. 

Here we can go one of several ways. I need you to understand first though, that some days are filled with trap doors. I heard a medium say once that we all pass several death doors throughout our lives, like fixed exit points in an otherwise elastic river of time. Some days I spend the next sleepy 30+ minutes checking social media and email. Sometimes I try to answer emails while half asleep. I think I’m trying to help my future self out when I do this, have I done this to you? Other days, I check in with my body, do neck rolls, some lazy yoga, let out the chickens literally and figuratively.

Some days are really anxious, where I lose track of what I’m doing, feel tired, lost, and paralyzingly existential. Skip ahead to 2:00 pm below. Some days I journal and read, or practice piano, or take my coffee outside and watch the birds. See 9:00 am.

9:00 a.m. You can’t see her, but in this tree, a mourning dove has constructed a very flimsy nest. Remarkably sparse and exposed. I’m hoping her egg survives windy springtime. I’m reading Susan Briante’s book, Defacing the Monument. You can see some of the cover here. If her book was a nest, there would be no trapdoors, only lacy latticed thresholds into unfolding rooms. She’s a poet, undoing the myth of giving a voice to the voiceless

9 a.m – 2 p.m. Here is where I work, currently. You can see a sprawling to-do list in the bottom left corner. You can tell what kind of day I’m having, based on what I put on that list. Some days I put brush teeth on the list. Or I’ll put the new things I did instead of doing things already on the list. 

I get a real sense of accomplishment when I work through this list. It also crushes me when I don’t feel like doing anything. Skip ahead to 5:00 pm I’ll scan the things still left undone, re-reading tasks. I still haven’t emailed Val back, I still haven’t finished the lesson plans for my next Deep Listening study group take a nap and skip ahead to 5:00 pm but I did send the meditation, deliver the merch, and research podcast platforms. Just telling you about it brings me relief. 

2:00 p.m. Today I fell through. It was a rough one. I could point to the news, the suffering of friends, my own. But well here we are. And here is my dog Walter. Walks bring me back to my body, by way of his nose. It’s called a sniff walk and the rules are he gets to lead me through the park and sniff whatever he wants, for as long as he wants. One way to recover from falling through a trapdoor day is to go outside, to remember your body, or to see someone else remembering their body. He brings a lot of love to his sniffing.

5:00 p.m. The afternoon is a scatter of errands, emails, and things that are more tangential to making music and art than actually making music and art… I might have taken a nap…We live at the bottom of a mountain, and to get to the mountain you have to pass through this door. We call it, affectionately, our door in the mountain which is the title of my favorite poems by Jean Valentine. Not a trap door!

On the other side of this door is a roadside memorial for someone named Gabriel. And then beyond that, a busy road. I pretend the road is a big river I have to carefully wade across. If I didn’t think of it this way I would get really depressed knowing such a busy road separates me from this mountain. But once you cross it, you’re on a trail that immediately takes you up and away from the road. The sounds fall away and the path winds up and up.

7:00 p.m. Here we are on the mountain, the road river behind us, the trap doors behind us, everything is getting those deep earthy colors after the bleached out midday. Tomorrow, my friend will bring over a slice of pie and we’ll sit far away from each other and talk about going camping together.

Order and listen to Karima Walker’s latest LP, ‘Waking the Dreaming Body’ out now via Keeled Scales / Ordinal Records: