We got good news from Mom’s doctor today, which sort of overshadows all the crap going on in the world for me right now. Her tumor is gone! As we Ubered home, the driver had a classic rock station playing. The first song I heard was Billy Joel’s “Still Rock & Roll to Me,” which I will probably always associate with good things from now on. But the next song was even more appropriate.
There’s a sunniness to this song that’s kind of hard to deny. Yeah, it’s about a hardworking busker, probably in the London Underground since Dire Straits are an English band, “down in the tunnels trying to make it pay” and probably not succeeding all that well. Let’s face it, if Johnny were a real dude, he’d probably be one step from homeless and living on Top Ramen, even if “he got the action, he got the motion, yeah, the boy can play.” But there he is, day after day, playing awesome oldies for bored commuters and students. Getting run off by the cops every so often because there’s probably no way this guy could pay for any kind of permits to play on the streets. (I have no idea if that’s even a necessity; I know virtually nothing about being a street musician.) He plays because he loves the music, because he wants music to be his life no matter what. He might not be winning yet, but you know someday he’s gonna get his shot.
The video has always been kind of perfect, too. Now, I’m almost positive that no one in Dire Straits actually gives a flip about American sports. The choice to intersperse clips of athletes failing pretty spectacularly at their jobs in between clips of the band playing was probably made by some nameless exec in some anonymous record company office. But it works. It’s a song about trying to succeed and I for one enjoy watching a good blooper reel. Especially at the end when they show the good plays, the home runs and touchdowns and dunks. It might be a rough life, but eventually you’re gonna get it right.
That’s why this song made me smile today. It’s been a hard few months; Mom’s treatment was pretty brutal. And we’re not entirely out of the woods yet; we still have more scans and a lot more waiting for the final verdict. But I think maybe there’s a light at the end of this particular tunnel, and that makes me feel good. (I’ll bet it makes Mom feel a million times better.) And even if things get bad again, this song is a good reminder that maybe, just maybe things will get better again. “And after all the violence and double talk, there’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife. You do the walk, yeah, you do the walk of life.”
I memorialize a lot of musicians and other pop culture figures here. I do it because I think it’s important to note their passing into the next plane. I also do it because, like most living people, death scares me. It’s a natural fear, although one uniquely human. I’m pretty sure mole rats don’t sit around in their burrows obsessing over the inevitability of their deaths; they’re probably too busy hunting for food or making baby mole rats. It makes me wonder if our big brains and the commensurate level of self-awareness are really worth it.
What this boils down to is that I take death pretty seriously. I hurt a little for everyone who is left behind when someone they love passes. (The person who died is actually okay at that point; whatever fear, pain, or suffering they experienced while alive is gone.) I grieve along with them. I also grieve for all those I’ve loved who are no longer here, people and animals alike. (We lost a beloved kitty just a few days ago, and I can’t tell you how much Mom and I miss her.) It all adds up to a lot of heartache. Sometimes it is easier, sometimes it’s better, but it never really leaves you. But suffering over that pain is a choice. And while I feel that pain and grief, I don’t wish it gone. I don’t revel in it, but I try to accept those emotions and feel them. It’s okay to hurt; just don’t make it the only thing you feel.
Which leads me back to today’s song. My extended family recently became a little smaller in number and a lot less fun. My mother’s cousin, Mike Foster, died several weeks ago. It is still a raw wound, but I know that he’s not really gone from the Universe. (Mike and his family are Christian, but I don’t think my beliefs conflict too much with their vision of heaven.) He’s not here physically and that’s what hurts, but his energy is still part of everything else. Mike was generous and open and loving with everyone. And, like my much missed Daddy, he never met a corny joke he didn’t tell to everyone within hearing distance. Mike had a wonderful sense of humor, even if it did make you groan occasionally. For whatever reason, his passing made me think of this wonderful old John Prine song. (I know I’ve probably posted this one before, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now.) I know Mike wouldn’t want people to be sad about his death. He’d want them to celebrate his life and have a good laugh in his honor. And for people like me who take death a little too seriously, this is a great antidote for that.
Have fun in the next plane, Mike. Love you.
Sorry I went quiet again for a while there. Nothing actually interesting has been going on–which is a good thing–but what has been happening caused me to retreat a little.
On my birthday, the place where I get my mammogram called and wanted me to come back for another mammogram and an ultrasound. It’s just my damn cysts again, and I logically knew that, but lizard brain had to pitch a fit. This has happened every single blessed time I’ve had a mammogram, and it’s really frickin’ annoying. And my birthday was ruined, as was the weekend after; I had everything done the following Tuesday, and like I said, it was nothing but my damn cysts (I even got a piece of paper with “normal and benign” checked off).
I also saw some termites in the laundry room again, and I’ve been dancing around trying to get the termite people to come back and spray some more. They’re insisting on doing an inspection again, and it’s been just the tiniest bit frustrating. (It’s really hard to be zen about some things.) I am relieved that the dozen or so I saw seem to be the only ones, but I still want it checked out. Their earliest seems to be next Monday. *sigh*
I got my eyes checked (between phone call and follow-up mammo), and my prescription didn’t change much, but I got some new spectacles anyway, along with my regular haircut. (Not in the same place; I’m almost positive Lenscrafters does not include hairdressing as part of their services.) And I’ve been getting back into the swing of the semester. One of my online classmates is local (like within ten miles of me), and he works for the Long Beach Historical Society, so I might be doing some volunteering there soon (I’ll keep y’all posted on that). Mom’s okay. The cats are okay, although I did have to get Sasha another set of stairs recently so she could climb up on the couch with me. Everything else seems to be status quo.
Sheesh. This is a pretty long time to go without posting any music. And the song I chose for today isn’t really related to anything else. Heck, it’s barely even a song. But Presidents Day is coming up, and I’ve always wanted to try to learn the exact order of all the presidents. I know Washington was first, Jefferson was third, and Lincoln was sixteenth. I can name everybody from Teddy Roosevelt on out, although for some reason I always forget Harding. But there’s all those guys in the nineteenth century that get kind of bungled up in my mind. So here’s some presumably adorable children singing the names of all the U.S. presidents in order. Just in case you wanted to learn them all, too.
Well, the work on the house continues bit by bit. Today, we got some electrical work done. Nothing fancy–just some fixtures installed and repaired. But I am quite pleased with the results. They managed to fix an outlet in the dining room that hadn’t worked for I don’t know how long, and put a new one in the bathroom (right by the light switch. . . but my blue canary night light is staying in the other plug by the medicine cabinet). And all the kitchen lights have been updated/repaired so that they all work. It’s nice to be able to cook dinner without walking to the other end of the room to read a recipe because the light’s better down there.
The only bad part is that I forgot to get candelabra bulbs for my new chandelier, so I can’t see how pretty it looks. It’s in my bedroom because why not? It goes well with my style, which is just the tiniest bit eclectic. The other light in the room is a small accent lamp that’s also a lava light, because, again, why not? Don’t judge me. It’s not like you have to sleep there.
I’m not dead. I was sick, but I got better. As I posted some time ago (quite a long time in the blogosphere), I’ve been busy. And I’m still busy, probably until next week. I just wanted to throw this out there just in case anyone actually cared.
I will return. Just like MacArthur, but without all the killing and the tremendous ego. (Really, I’m surprised no one ever tossed that son of a bitch through a plate glass window.) Hold on just a little longer. And please leave your name, number, and a short message after the beep.
I wish I had more time than stuff to do right now, but such is not the case. School is going to be hectic for the next couple of weeks, so postings here at the jukebox are going to continue to be spotty. Sorry, but I’m still getting back into the swing of things academically and I’ve got papers due in the next couple of weeks.
Of course, my ulterior motive for complaining about not having enough time is that I get to post this cheesetastic video by Styx. I can pretty much take or leave the song; I don’t love it, but I won’t immediately change the station if it comes on the radio. But the video is awesome in that early 80s, budding art form sort of way. Styx were one of the few late 70s-early 80s bands that had some concept of what music videos could do for them, and they took advantage of it. There’s no plot, mind you, and the special effects look like something I could do on my computer (in fact, I think I have used some of those effects in class assignments using computers). But at least they tried to match the visuals and the lyrics, and had some awareness that they were performing in front of cameras (check out all the emoting in the “concert” footage). And, hey, they were wearing costumes! Unless drummer Joe Panozzo’s usual attire consisted of dressing like Gopher from The Love Boat.
Anything’s possible, I suppose. It was the 80s, after all.
Sorry I’ve been so erratic about posting lately. There’s been a lot of stuff happening, and I tend to have less to say when I’ve got to worry about the real world. The things? Mom aggravated her back injury, but didn’t do any serious damage. And I’ve got registration coming up for my first semester back in school, so I’ve been fretting over things like financial aid and textbooks. I’ll be registering tomorrow, so hopefully that will all be cleared up soon.
It is, of course, graduation time, and this terrific speech John Waters made at the Rhode Island School of Design’s commencement reminded me of how much fun and how sensible some of these speeches are. (Robert DeNiro also made a great commencement speech recently, but I can’t remember what school it was for. Look it up.) It also reminded me of a previous post I made for the . . . er, song, I guess, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).” It was based on a commencement speech made by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune. It’s still good advice (really, you should wear sunscreen). The video accompanying the Baz Luhrmann track is still silly. But it’s also still worth the time.
And watch the entire John Waters speech. That’s more than worth it. Go out and fuck up the world beautifully.
I got a call from the partner of one of my Dad’s oldest friends over the weekend. Eddie drifted out of Dad’s life a few years before he died. It seems he got kind of weird and cut himself off from all his friends. Daddy always kind of thought Eddie went back to the reservation (he’s Native American, although I can’t remember what tribe). We hadn’t heard from him in so long, I kind of thought Eddie was already gone by the time Daddy died, and I wasn’t sure how to get a hold of him anyway. Well, Eddie’s still around, but his partner (can’t remember if they got married) says he’s probably not long for this world. He was asking for my dad. And I wish to whatever god might be listening that I could deliver him.
The Indian was a hard-drinking, hard living son of a bitch. He rode a motorcycle until he wiped out and messed up his leg; always walked with a limp after that. He told even taller tales than my old man did–that’s why they called him True Story, because he’d always claim it was a “true story” no matter how ridiculous it was. One of Dad’s favorite stories about him was how they went into a local bar that turned out to be a cop bar, and Eddie got into a fight with a few of the cops and got them banned. But he was funny and generous; Eddie would give you the shirt off his back and never ask for anything in return. Eddie was one of a kind, and it breaks my heart to know that he’s dying without the one friend he was asking for.
The news about Eddie has got me thinking about Dad a lot. I sent a message out into the universe for him to go see Eddie, and I hope he listens. And I hope when Eddie gets there, they go out drinking and lie to the waitresses and get into a couple of fights.
Mom injured her back about a week and a half ago, and she’s not taking care of herself. Which means I am obsessing over everything. That also makes me unable to concentrate long enough to even think of a song I want to post. So until I’m more comfortable with her health, I’ll be taking some time off from the Jukebox. Hopefully, I’m just being paranoid (a distinct possibility), and it will be smooth sailing real soon.
So I’ve got some news I’ve been sitting on for a while, partly because I’ve been busy with life and partly because I had some other things to post. But here it is, faithful Jukebox listeners. . .
I’m going back to school!
I got accepted to an online Master’s program at San Jose State University, which means I probably won’t be having any “hot for teacher” problems. It also means I don’t have to leave home or put on decent clothes to go to class (which is a shame since I just bought some new shoes). I’m looking forward to getting back to it, but I’m not looking forward to figuring out how to pay for it. (If anyone has any suggestions besides filling out the FAFSA form and student loans, I’m open to them.) Classes don’t begin until Fall, so I have a little time to pull it together.
I plan to keep up the Jukebox, in case anyone was wondering, but there might be times when I go off the grid for a week or two. This place is kind of a haven for me where I get to opine about life and music and other stuff pretty much at will, so I’m not going anywhere. I like having my own little soapbox to stand on.