Monday, May 31, 2010


What a perfect show.

I think I could just post their play list and it would be enough to make everyone who has reached a certain age sigh in happy reminiscence. These are the songs that become tangled up in our very existence; rendering themselves inseparable from the memories of times past. I sat next to a long-lost/new-found friend who leaned over to me at one point and whispered, eyes shining, clearly retrieving a memory she hadn't dusted off in years, "A friend wrote that lyric in my high school yearbook."

You've got to wake up every morning with a smile on your face, and show the world all the love in your heart. ~ Carole King, Beautiful

I reached over to hold my husband's hand. I reached across him with my other hand to hold my daughter's hand. I leaned my head into my friend's shoulder. Tom thought I was being a little silly, I could tell, but it was a wonderful moment.

Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel. ~ James Taylor, Shower the People

My best friend in the middle school years and I listened to her Tapestry album so many times I'm surprised we didn't wear it out. We sang every song, word for word; note for note, over and over and over. We hadn't experienced many of the complexities of life yet, but Ms. King paved the path for us. That friend was taken from this world in a most untimely manner a few years back, making those memories even more poignant for me.

It doesn't help to know that you're so far away. ~ Carole King, So Far Away

They closed the second set, as I'd suspected they would, with You've Got a Friend. They performed it as a beautiful duet, sitting side by side, their long and loving friendship obvious in their body language. Tom and I played that song to introduce the bridal party at our wedding.

Close your eyes and think of me, and soon I will be there - to brighten up even your darkest night. ~ Carole King, You've Got a Friend

It was an amazing show, performed on a revolving stage to make every seat in the house a good seat. Carole King is gorgeous. I don't mean gorgeous for her age (68, according to the ever reliable Wikipedia), I mean flat out gorgeous. It would be tempting to say that she seemed most comfortable seated behind the piano, because that certainly was a natural placement for her, but she seemed equally at ease strapping on a guitar for one or two songs - indulging in guitar hero poses that delighted me to my core. When she was not seated behind the piano, she owned the stage - dancing, engaging the audience, and smiling - always smiling - her beautiful, wide, easy, real smile - all in ridiculously high and skinny heels. Well, you just go on and GO, girl!

Now I'm no longer doubtful, of what I'm living for, and if I make you happy I don't need to do more ~ Carole King, Natural Woman

James Taylor's voice has not changed a bit. He presents as humble, in a manner that is charming, sweet, real and - dare I say it? - sexy as hell. He looks a little older, but still younger than his 62 years (again, per Wikipedia) would indicate appropriate. But his voice? - virtually unchanged. I kept thinking that if I closed my eyes, it would be pretty easy to melt years - decades - away. I didn't, though. Not for longer than the time it took to blink. I didn't want to miss a thing.

So close your eyes, you can close your eyes; it's all right. I don't know no love songs, and I can't sing the blues anymore, but I can sing this song, and you can sing this song when I'm gone. ~ James Taylor, You Can Close Your Eyes

I thought You've Got a Friend would be the end. When you're Carole King and James Taylor, where do you go from there? How could there be a more perfect ending for this show? They left the stage to thunderous applause and I did not anticipate an encore. Except - the house lights didn't come up. And that means...

Up on the roof we went. I was pretty emotional at this point. These two amazing and prolific talents had stirred up quite a lot of memories. I tried to subtly wipe a tear from my eye without being noticed. In doing so, my head turned slightly to the left, and there was my friend rubbing both eyes with her fists. I threw subtlety to the wind. It's highly overrated anyway. We went ahead and openly wept. It had been quite a ride.

When this old world starts getting me down, and people are just too much for me to face, I'll climb right up to the top of the stairs, and all my cares just drift right into space. ~ James Taylor, Up On The Roof

I'm not a huge fan of live albums, but I may buy this one. And I'm going to listen to it with my eyes closed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I went to college a mere 45 minute drive from my home, so my parents visited often. My mom did my laundry. (Yes, I was one of those kids.) Once a week she would drop off the clean and pick up the dirty. Her thought process was that it was cheaper for her than giving me quarters for the laundromat. (Again, yes, one of those kids.) These visits usually involved taking me and often a roommate or friend out to lunch. During my senior year - the year I was 21 and therefore of legal drinking age - if that visit occurred on a Friday, I would ask them to drop me off after lunch not at my house, but at the bar where I knew at least a few of my friends would already be getting their happy hour on.

Happy hour, in 1983/1984 at this particular bar, meant dime a draft or dollar a (generously poured) well drink. God, I miss the 80's.

So they - my parents - the teetotalers - would pull up in front of the bar - slip me a $5 - kiss me - and say, "Don't drink." I would exit the car in my high-waisted pegged jeans and cheap pumps that matched my top with enough money in my fist to get pretty darn drunk and still leave a tip. Oh Daddy dear, you know you're still number one - but girls - they wanna have fu-un.

Flash forward to the present.

My parents came to visit my sister and I this week. While they didn't do our laundry, they did take both of our families out to eat. At some point during the meal, my sister asked if I'd be interested in going out for a beer after dinner. Guess what I said. Go on, guess. So my mother slipped us a $20 and asked if we needed a ride to the bar. Oh Mother dear, we're not the fortunate ones - but girls (still) just wanna have fu-un.

Now $20 wasn't enough to get us drunk, or even decently buzzed. But it was enough.

And they played a lot of good 80's music.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Iggy and Patti and Me

I imagine every adopted person out there has, at one time or another, worked up a romantic fantasy about their origin. I've had a few - my strongest and most persistent theory is that I was fathered by Iggy Pop. Don't laugh. You don't know what you'd come up with if you had to invent a fantasy bio-dad. This one occurred to me because a few years ago - must've been his birthday or something - I heard his age and decided that that was just about the right age to have sired me. I liked the idea of some little groupie fan (pre-Stooges, but only by a little bit) turning up pregnant in the days before Roe v Wade and carrying to term her (unrequited) love child, giving it - me - up because she knew she could never raise me properly alone. Or maybe just because the Rolling Stones were getting together around that time and following them would be a lot easier unencumbered by a kid. Who knows? Anyway. All fantasy and conjecture, of course. Don't want Mr. Pop coming after me for slander. Ah, you see that? He even has Pop right in his name. You can SEE how a girl's thoughts might turn...

I am in the process of reading Patti Smith's autobiographical Just Kids. Ms. Smith, by the way, is such a beautiful writer that I think a new word needs to be invented for what the rest of us do, because it's just not fair to use the same word to describe this and that. Her writing exists on a completely separate plane. But I've digressed. In the opening chapters she talks about giving a baby up for adoption when she was nineteen. Do you know what a sentence like that DOES to a person who was adopted in the 60's? I love my Poppa Iggy, but Patti Smith? And with the added legitimacy of her actually having given up a child in the same era? I went positively weak in the knees. I didn't even need to work up a fantasy, she'd written it all out - and in words that read like art. I nearly wept. It was all too much.

I looked it up. Come on. You would've, too. Her child was a boy and he was born in 1965. I'm, um, a girl, and I was born in 1962. It was fun for a second or two, though.

Good news, Iggy. You're back in.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Me, Myself and I

A friend of mine on Facebook (waves frantically - hi Pam!) posted the following thoughts in rapid succession this morning. The first was the popular Eleanor Roosevelt quote:

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

The second was this picture:

(I know. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by how ridiculously cool and thought provoking my friends are.) My response to the first was quick. I like to talk about all of those things. I suppose that means that my mind is not entirely great, but it's not entirely small, either. I think I can live with that. If I spend too much time concentrating on just one of those things, it becomes tedious. If I spend too much time with people who seem intent on just conversing on one of those levels, they soon become tedious to me as well. So, while it's not, perhaps, the most flattering conclusion to come to about the state of my mind, I'm pretty comfortable with it.

I was considerably less comfortable with the next question she posed. I think, based on the above paragraph, that I can be at least safe in saying that I wouldn't find myself tedious. I also know for sure that I would find myself to be funny. I know this because I crack myself up ALL the time. My track record with folks outside the social circle of me, myself and I is a little less solid. I hit and miss. But with myself? Shoot. I am the Queen. I am hiLARious. (Although - given other, less attractive attributes of my personality - it's entirely possible that, upon encountering myself, I would respond, "She's not NEARLY as funny as she thinks she is...")

I like attention. This is a trait that I do not like in other people, so I have a feeling that if I saw myself from the outside I would not like it in myself, either. I also like to be right. I am not above going out of my way to prove that I am right. I am fully aware of how obnoxious that is. But it's better than being wr-wr-wr- (Me and The Fonze. A ridiculous sense of cool isn't ALL we have in common) wrong. The Spin Doctors never formally thanked me for inspiring their 1991 hit Little Miss Can't Be Wrong, but I knew who they meant. Holla.

Oh! And I hate the phone. So maintaining a friendship with me can feel sort of one-sided sometimes. I probably wouldn't like that. I never pick up the phone. Ask anyone who knows me in real life. I'm sweating a little bit just sitting here thinking about it. Hate it. Couldn't tell you why, so don't ask. Just do. I also wait for other people to ask me to do things. I'm not big on initiating. I do know the meaning behind that one. It's a deep seeded fear of rejection. I don't respond well to it, so I don't set myself up for it. If I were trying to be friends with me, this little obstacle might be practically insurmountable. Neither me, myself nor I would make the call or suggest the plan.

But then I was thinking... (all aboard the thought train! chugga chugga chugga chugga WHOO WHOO!) I thought back to the original Eleanor Roosevelt quote. When I find myself with people who are all about the lowest common denominator, and all of the conversation revolves around who did what to whom (and how many times and where and who knew about it and ...) that is when I find myself quickly scrambling for the higher ground. I don't think that that is an attempt to give myself an opportunity to do the superior dance - I get uncomfortable - wondering if I have enough to contribute. I need the topic to CHANGE. On the other hand, when I find myself in the middle of a higher level, meeting of the minds sort of conversation I get equally nervous and try to bring things back to a 'let's keep it real' sort of place. (I was never very good at the superior dance, anyway...) Again - I don't do this because I can't keep up with a conversation based entirely on ideas (well, sometimes I do), but more because the thought of engaging in an entire evening of dialogue at that level, well, it exhausts me. It's tedious. It's only a wee tiny part of who I am.

I think this may be why I love facebook. I can be simultaneously immersed in conversations wherein I am discussing the meaning of life, planning my upcoming class reunion (I won't make you guess. It's the big 3-0), and exchanging double (and sometimes single) entendres more intellectually suited to my twelve year old. Often with the same people. Ah. There it is. We're all multi-faceted.

Given that - I think I would like myself - in small doses. I'd definitely buy myself a shot or seven. I'd totally friend myself on Facebook. If I got too intense (or too shallow) for myself, I could always change the subject. So, while I wouldn't necessarily want a steady diet of me, and I'm not sure I'd want me as a BFF, I think I'd like myself ok.

And getting all of my own pop culture references without a hint would be a total bonus.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Way I See It

I read a book once a long time ago - I have no recollection of the title or the plot, but I very clearly remember the underlying theme and how it was presented. It was about a young girl - a teenager - probably involving some sort of coming of age business. She wanted to express her perceived adulthood through her bedroom decor. She was taking home ec at school and was just learning to sew. She had purchased yards and yards of fabric with her babysitting money and had pinned it in place over bedspreads, curtains, pillows - if it could be covered with fabric, she covered it. She brought home paint swatches from the paint store and tacked those to the walls and furniture to indicate what colors she intended for them to eventually be. She cut pieces of butcher paper to fit around her lampshades and chairs, intending to cut them to size and use them for patterns so that she could eventually cover those items with fabric as well. She wanted to find a fabric that would coordinate with what she'd already bought. She knew exactly what it would look like.

She was really proud of her potential room.

The enthusiasm for redecorating was pushed aside by whatever plot the book actually had, but it didn't matter, because in her mind's eye it was already done. In her mind's eye it was a beautiful room - fully realized.

The book closed with her seeing this room - after months of fabric and paper and swatches being pinned to every surface - as it actually was. To make it what she imagined it to be would take some work. Our last image was one of her unpinning the paper and fabric and neatly folding it and putting it away. Reality. I remember wishing that it would've ended with her at the sewing machine, or with a paint brush - actually putting the work in to make this room realize it's potential. But that's not how it ended. And in retrospect, I think the author probably made the right choice.

I doubt that it would have stuck with me the way it did if she'd gone that route.

Sometimes we have to fold up our dreams and pack them away.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Better With Age

Tom and I took out daughters and our niece to see Paramore at an outdoor show last night. They ended up hooking up with friends so - even though they were all around us, we were still essentially alone.

It was a very young, predominately female crowd. I won't bother to describe what that sounded or looked like - what you're imagining is probably right on target.

Tom to me: "I don't think we're the oldest people here."

Me to Tom: "You might be right. But if we're not, we're certainly in their peer group."

At one point, shortly after nightfall, we decided to take advantage of the fact that all the girls were standing so we had the blanket to ourselves. It was a beautiful night to be outdoors. We laid back and looked up at the stars.

Tom said to me, "Do you suppose those are airplanes?"

I saw right away what he meant. The stars weren't behaving like proper stars. They were blinking in and out in a way that was much more pronounced than a subtle twinkle (which is, as everyone knows, what proper little stars do). And one - no - more than one of them had tails.

"What the - is that a shooting star? I've never seen a shooting star before!"

"It can't be - I think they move faster - but it's something..."

We mused on the stars for a few moments, wondering why none of the kids were noticing the fabulous display going on right before their eyes. In years past, I may have attributed it to a contact buzz, but the smoking ban has pretty much obliterated that possibility.

And then it hit us.

We were getting this private show because when we laid down and looked up through our bifocals it distorted the images.

After we figured it out, we didn't stop. At least not right away. We were getting to trip for free AND the drive home and the morning after would be completely symptom free.

Getting old. Wearing bifocals. Bonus.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nothing Compares 2U

So many of my reflections begin: So I was at Kroger and I heard __________ on the muzak (which I know isn't called muzak anymore, but it's such a good word...). Well, this one does not begin that way.

Just kidding, it totally does.

So I was at Kroger and I heard Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares 2U on the muzak. Now I'm usually able to appreciate that different things move different people and everyone doesn't like the same thing and different strokes for different folks and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby, but I swear - if this song doesn't reach through your chest cavity and squeeze you by the heart, I'm not sure you have one. It squeezes my heart and does a little number on the rest of my innards, too. It is just so unrelenting and beautiful.

It is not the sort of music to which one should grocery shop. It is music for slow dancing - real slow - almost painfully slow. It is a painful song, after all. It is a song for crying, even if you're happy, because you remember ONCE you were that sad - that empty - that raw - and if you weren't, then you know somebody who is or once was. And yet - and yet - there is so much beauty in the pain that you couldn't stop listening if you tried. I know I never can.

When this song was in heavy rotation, I always felt sorry for the DJs and VJs who had to follow it - where do you go from there? (In case you were wondering, the muzak went straight to Billy Joel's Angry Young Man - a song which I also love, but it made for a pretty seriously jarring transition. Sheesh.) During that time, I was dating a boy, but he wasn't anything special. I mean, I'm sure he was, like, to his mom and stuff - and he's probably found a girl who he's the world to by now - but for me, then, he wasn't anything special. The girls I worked with never understood that - they thought he was possibly out of my league good looking - but he just didn't do it for me. Scooby dooby dooby.

But I've digressed.

We would go out dancing - he in his short jacket (Who the hell ever thought short jackets on men were a good idea?) and me in my high waisted dress shorts (Who the hell ever thought high waisted dress shorts were a good idea?) and a fabulous hat (Which is, was, and ever more shall be a good idea. Great even. Anyway.) This song would come on and we would dance. We - who were the very definition of casual dating - would dance - foreheads touching (hats permitting) - swaying slowly - feeling her pain - remembering our own - sharing these painful, intimate feelings that we didn't necessarily have for each other, but that we both knew how to have. It was almost surreal.

THAT is what THAT song does.

It does not encourage me to impulse buy. It encourages me to want to sit on the floor in the produce department and weep - maybe while clinging desperately to a stranger, just for human contact. Is that the sort of behavior that you want to encourage, Kroger? Really?

I'm going to have to start grocery shopping with an iPod.

(Couldn't get it to embed, but I'll give you a link - in case you feel like sitting on the floor with me, forehead to forehead, in delicious shared despair.)