Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I'm Sorry It Didn't Work Out Between Us

Inspired by the lack of inspiring activities in my life and an NPR "All Songs Considered" podcast I listened to on my afternoon run (in the SUN, no less!!!  The sun.  O, the sun.) I visit my neglected public musings venue.

The podcast focused on breakups.  The breakups we have with favorite bands who, for various reasons, have disappointed us, let us down, changed or even stayed exactly the same while we changed.  The first song played was from U2's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, "Stuck in the Middle," the album that caused the hosts, along with many folks who responded to their original blog post, to call it quits.  I actually really liked that record and stuck with them through the Elevation tour.  Didn't go, but would have had I the opportunity.  ("Opportunity" did not include breaking down and paying what I considered too much money to sit in shite nosebleed seats at Key Arena.  "Opportunity" would have meant being given a ticket. I have limits, even for bands I love.)  It was the next record, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that I couldn't get behind.  Even though I bought it.  Did I even listen to it the whole way through?  Maybe once.  Maybe.  And, fine, I admit it, I even bought their last album and am pretty certain that I have yet to listen to it.  I wanted it to be good and I knew, instinctively, that it wasn't.  I've had a long, steady and what I thought to be true, relationship with U2 since I was a wee thing trying to record "With or Without You" on a barely held together tape player at 2 am, because the DJ had been promising for hours that the song was coming up, soon.  Ok, and maybe I had a mild case of insomnia back then and it wasn't really hours, but I distinctly recall keeping my fingers over the "play" and "record" buttons in tense readiness so that I could hit them that crucial second before the song started.  (I would be lying if I said I'd been with them since Boy--I was only 13, tops, when "With or Without You" was on the radio and just coming into my own, musically.)

Well, it's time I came clean: U2 and I have broken up.  Truthfully, we haven't been getting along together for several years now, and I have to say it was inevitable.  I can still listen, with great fondness and enthusiasm, to their catalog up to a point--the one that includes I Do Not Want...  I think that's completely likable, though certainly no culmination of years of honing talents of Joshua Tree or the freshness and driving energy of Boy, but it beats the pants off of all that has followed.  By comparison, it's brilliant.  Though a dull brilliance, I guess.

Along with U2, among others I agreed with, Sting was mentioned on the podcast, and I had to silently acknowledge that it was over between us, as well.  I mean, I still like the first three solo albums (don't I?) but, geez louise, he got to be sooooo... soooo... adult contemporary.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I have recently listened to Dream of the Blue Turtles--I bought the LP when I saw it at the Goodwill, last year--and "Do the Russians Love their Children, Too" takes me right back to the mysterious world of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the Cold War and fear of atomic annihilation.  Ah, memories... But no way do I want to listen to him play a lute and sing jazzy madrigal chants.  (I don't really know what he's doing nowadays, but somehow this is the picture of  him, musically, that I have.) But if he walked into my yoga studio to take class, or even guest teach, I'd faint dead away.  I broke up with musician, not the man.

Death Cab for Cutie and I just drifted apart, I guess.  I still fondly recall the good times we had, and retain a mild curiosity about their goings on, but I'm not excited about the new record and have no compulsion to buy it.  This is what probably happens more often than not, the drifting apart.  Going our separate ways; sometimes it's because I simply cannot keep up.  Music is, for me, similar to books.  There is so much out there and so much to catch up on that doesn't even include all of the new stuff being produced.  Besides being unaffordable to stay current while also embracing the past, there aren't enough hours in a day to listen to everything.  And the older I get the more genres I encounter that I'd been closed to as a willful, narrowly focused (I don't want to say narrow minded, because I don't think that's fair.  I was a kid, for cryin' out loud.) teenager that I want and need to explore.  Unlike books, which can be borrowed for free from the library and then returned once consumed, I want to posses the music I discover and like.  (Yes, music can be borrowed from the library but technically it should be returned without transfer of ownership... if you catch my meaning.)  The financial aspect of music consumption is insurmountable and so must be more carefully considered--something that can freeze the decision making process.

Wow, life is rough, huh?

Other aspects of the band breakup that can be discussed at a later date were the This Artist Can Do No Wrong Even When They Do, What Was I Thinking/I Can't Believe We Ever Dated, It Ended Too Soon, I Wish You Were My Boyfriend, I'm Willing To Give it Another Chance.

I didn't really give this a ton of thought, didn't go through my CDs, records or iTunes to really look at who I don't listen to anymore or who I really, really need to have move out.  I, sadly or no, clicked so much with what the NPR hosts were listing--holy cow, I feel the same way about so and so!  I just fixated on those bands.

Some things to think about for next time...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Helpful Advice

Student Loan Customer Service Rep: What was your degree in?

Me: Library and Information Science.

SLCSR: You should really get a library job, like at a school, or something.

Me: Yeah.  Thanks.  That's a good idea.

He meant to be encouraging, I think, but I question his knowledge of current events, you know, like the whole recession thing?  

Besides not wanting to be a School Media Specialist (as they're called because school librarians need to be multi-useful to justify such a position and an education degree is also required) budget cuts have forced schools all over the country to eliminate these jobs, entirely.  After all, what does a librarian do, anyway?   They just check out books, right?  If I worked as a librarian for a nonprofit, or in a school or a public library, after 10 years of loan repayment, as long as I've been in good standing, the remainder of my loans would be forgiven.  While I was in school they added librarians to the list of Public/Community Service Jobs That Don't Pay A Lot So We'll Give You a Break On Your Loans professions.  Of course, you have to be working in the field, not just be working, to qualify.  

That's alright.  My standard response to the question When are You Going to Be a Librarian has been to assure enquiring minds that I'm alright not being one; it also now includes, Hey!  I have a masters, which is pretty cool, huh?  (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.  Look over here at my diploma, not my current employment status.)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Current Obsession

I know I am late to discover him, but better now than never.  
Josh Ritter.

(And it's not just because he's from my home state.)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Good Riddance, 2010!

Favorite Live Shows, in no particular order:

The Walkmen/Helio Sequence
The National/Okkervil River
Built to Spill
Black Mountain (they opened for Black Angels, and though I liked the Black Angels, have seen them before, Black Mountain blew them to smithereens, in my book.)
Bonnie "Prince" Billy and the Cairo Gang

Favorite Albums that I can think of at this moment; there were a lot of good ones...:

Teen Dream, Beach House
Odd Blood, Yeasayer
Gorilla Manor, Local Natives
Total Life Forever, Foals
Lisbon, The Walkmen
High Violet, The National (this one really grew on me the more and more I listened.  I mean, I liked it but now i love it.)
The Monitor, Titus Andronicus
The Archandroid, Janelle Monae (O MY GOSH!  Sooooooooooo good.)
Broken Bells, Broken Bells.
The Suburbs, Arcade Fire

Wow.  I'm pretty sure I could add some more to this list but I think I'll leave it at that, for now.

Proud Accomplishments:

I graduated from grad school!!!
I started dating.
I can pay all of my bills and still afford yoga every month.
Weekend Silent Yoga retreat.  (Mostly mediation and light yoga.  I loved not having to talk to people.  I didn't necessarily love having to deal with my own head, but it wasn't bad.)

What Kept Me Up at Night, Stressed Me Out, Ruined my Appetite and Gave Me the Blues or Sent Me into a General Malaise:

I graduated from grad school.
I started dating.

Weird Struggles

Reading an entire book--heck, even starting a book was hard.
     Kinda still is, but getting better.  The first book I finished after graduating was The Women, by T. C. Boyle.  It took me about two months to read.  Two.  Months.  Then I just stuck to my newspaper and tidbits from The New Yorker.  It wasn't even like I was surfing the web, or playing boggle online or even playing the XBox.  I don't know what I was doing.  Listening to music and staring off into the distance, I guess.

Watching a movie.
     Somehow, committing to a full length feature film was really, really hard.  I wonder(ed) if it had more to do with being reminded that after Shawn moved to La La Land I watched a lot of movies just for something to do.  Once school was done, and I didn't have papers and studying as a distraction, there it was.  The break up of Linnet and Shawn.  For real.  And the weather was so awful.  And I was just blue.  Watching a movie somehow magnified all of the grey and loneliness and my state of lost.  I should have cancelled my Netflix, but I found that I could digest television programs, because they were short, 45 minutes, tops.  I took advantage of the streaming and watched both seasons of Dead Like Me and the really horrible two hour movie special made a couple of years after the show ended.  Also, lots of 30 Rock.  Truly one of the most exceptional comedies.

The Weather
     This is the first year that I can honestly say the Seattle grey/wet got to me.  (See above for clues why this might have been.)  Spring was cold, damp, grey.  Summer, with the exception of a few weeks that were hot, sunny and even fun, was similar to spring.  Fall stank, too.  I have high hopes for winter.  High hopes.

Super Cool Stuff:

I went to Florida, last January, to visit with Holly and her family.  Got to spend time with two great nephews, my sister and her husband.  In Florida.  Where it was mostly sunny and definitely warmer than Seattle.

Blumenthal family reunion, 2010.  Lots and lots of nieces and nephews.  Siblings.  Food.  Dishes.  Love.  The Blumenthals of Delware were sorely missed.

I'm employed.  Work too much between two jobs, certainly, but better than not working enough.  (See "I can afford yoga every month" accomplishment.)

My mother came to visit me in October.  I was very happy to have her here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Stay Tuned... It's Almost 2011

(This image in no way is meant to reflect 2010, even if sometimes I felt like it could easily be its mascot, as far as my world was concerned, that is.  OK.  Maybe I mean it just a teensy, weensy bit.)

I'm about to hit the hay, but I feel compelled to announce that I fully intend to write up a little something about this past year.  Not a top 10, or anything--or even bottom 10, though this has been the kind of year where I'm pretty certain I could easily come up with one--but just some important turning points.  It's been a doozy.

Oooooo... such a tease...

Friday, October 22, 2010


My dear mother is visiting me this week.  Except for today, I have been or will be working everyday that she's here, which is unfortunate.  Thursday morning, while working the day job, my phone rings and I answer it when I see it's Mommy calling.  (Typically, the ringer is off on my phone while I'm working but because she's visiting and she may have--will have--various geographical or household questions, I left it on.)  Anyhoo.  The phone rings.  It's Mommy.

"Hi.  I was just wondering if you have any raisins?"
Considering a reply.
"Are you seriously asking me this question?"
"Oh, yeah, that's right.  I guess you wouldn't have any.  I just wanted some raisins to go in my hot cereal."
"Uh-huh.  Well, I still don't like 'em so I'm not going to have them around, but if you want I can stop at the store and buy some for you."
"No, that's alright."

This was all done with good natured chuckling though I really was taken aback that she actually thought I would have those disgusting, shriveled little bug parts in my home when I have never liked them and studioulsy picked them out of many an oatmeal cookie and steaming bowls of cream of wheat, oatmeal and malt-o-meal.  Blech.

I love my mother.  And I love her even more because she called to ask such an innocent question.  Really.

Do I have any raisins.  Sheesh.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cocoa and Boingo


Still here; I know it's hard to believe.  Still navigating the post-graduation is this really where I'm headed and is it alright that I'm not bothered by it windy road.  (Also, enjoying one of my favorite fall/winter dinners lacking much nutritional value... hot cocoa and buttered toast.  Oat bran gazillion grain toast, at least.)  But that's boring.  Not the toast.  That's delicious, dunked in the not too sweet cocoa--a pinch of salt really is a must to bring out the fullness of the chocolate.  Boring is the I've gotten that higher higher education and am essentially where I was before, career-wise topic.  Therefore, at least for the time being, I'll leave that off the discussion board.  Yawn.

Instead, let's talk about how funny it is to be sitting at your favorite coffee shop, drinking an Americano, reading a New Yorker and a record you used to listen to all of the time and haven't heard in, quite possibly, 15 years or more is put on and it's as though you never took it out of rotation.  Everything about it is so familiar and ingrained in your brain that you know exactly what song comes next, all of the words and even when side 1 ends and side 2 begins.  I don't even own a copy, in any format, of this album anymore, though I might need to remedy that.  (Oingo Boingo, Deadman's Party, by the way.)

On the rare occasions that I hear something of Boingo's, I always think about the time my friends and I went to see them at, of all places, the Maricopa County Fair (was that what it was called?).  A mosh pit had formed and I was trying to get out of the fray but managed to get knocked down anyway, and as one of my friends was attempting to help me up he was thrown out by a security guard who mistakenly assumed that he was the one who shoved me.  No protestations from either him or me could convince the guard otherwise and Dave (what was his last name?) had to miss the bulk of the show.  I suppose we were seeing Boingo at the end of their career but we were still so excited.  The band was as relevant to me--us--then as they had been when I was given a copy of Good for Your Soul  while at the U. of Utah's Theatre School For Youth in 1985.

Nostalgia can be sweet.