Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Feed my Play List ..... Please!

What is it about a new song that makes me want to listen to it over and over and over again. I have been doing this since I was a kid with my first record player. I had a red record player that had a lid on it and it actually ran on batteries. The first album I shelled out my hard-earned babysitting money for was Herman's Hermits - There's A Kind of Hush All Over The World. I bet I wore out a dozen batteries playing that song over and over again. My next question is what happens to make you reach the saturation point with a song? Is it because you just get bored with it? Or is it because a new hit comes along to replace it? And depending on the song, sometimes it gets to a point where if you have to listen to it one more time you think you'll scream. Other times, you just lose interest and stop pressing the play button on your I Pod and hit the forward arrow to find something you haven't heard in a while that get your mojo going. Right now I can't get enough of Rolling in the Deep by Adele. How long before I am sick of it? Any one's guess really. But at a certain point I will get tired of it and I will only listen to it occasionally instead of constantly. It's kind of like sex in a new relationship (I do remember what that was like). You can't get enough of each other - you're all over each other every day - several times a day, and then eventually, you are not. I do see a very interesting parallel here. It's not unlike addiction in a way. You hear it. You start to seek it out. You buy the song. You listen to it over and over. But eventually, you start to crave something new, something that will give you a fresh charge. And on it goes. At least with music, it is harmless and won't land you in the hospital or in a gutter or suffering with an STD. And what happens next? You stop listening to the song so intently. You no longer turn it up when it comes on the car radio. You keep it on your play list, but you sometimes skip it when it comes on. Once in a while you listen to it again all the way through, but not every time. Then it gets relegated to the "has been" list. You hardly ever play it at all. Time passes. Months. Years sometimes. Then oddly, one day you happen to hear it again and it sounds fresh again for some reason. You find yourself cranking it up again, singing along because your brain has filed away the lyrics and you know every word. You feel that same feeling again you had when it was new again. But it doesn't last. Over the next few days you might play it a few times, but it's only a brief encounter with the past joy it brought you. However, there are many songs that you will always love - and no matter when they reappear on the radio, or at a party, or in a movie, or being covered by a new and younger singer or band (never appreciated) and you have this little space in your heart for those songs because they are part of your history now and they often can make you recall a moment in time, a place, a person, an event - a song can transport me back in time so accurately it is almost scary. Sometimes I am actually amazed that I can be continually stimulated by new music - and I really notice when nothing has come along to pique my interest for awhile. And what is it that makes you like a new song? How many times do you need to hear it before it captures you? For me, it varies. It can happen the first time I hear a song, but that is rare. I usually need to hear it at least twice or three times before it sets into my brain like slow firming jello. Not unlike dating - sometimes you're into him on the first one, sometimes it takes 2 or 3 before something clicks and of course there are the songs/dates that never do it for you. Since, I started writing this blog, I have played Rolling in the Deep about 8 times. Not sick of it yet, still grooving to it, still moving to it, still memorizing the lyrics, it is still making me want to dance and turn it up. This one will have some staying power I suspect, but I say that about all of them at first. Am I alone here? Am I like a "love em and leave em" Casanova when it comes to music? Maybe I am. Maybe there is a 12 step program for people like me. If there is, I don't want to be cured. I refuse to join. Just keep giving me more hits. I'll keep listening. Feed my play list. Yum.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pass me a Sombrero - it's Nap Time

There is a rarity to this moment. It is 5:00 pm, on a late Saturday afternoon. The rain is falling steadily. I went to an early matinee with my daughter and when we got home we threw a nice pesto pasta primavera together, a late lunch/early dinner and now she is napping on the sofa behind me, a grey sky peering in at us from outside, nothing but the sound of this keyboard and the softly falling rain on the metal roof of this family room. Not a typical Saturday. Normally, we would be busy "doing". But instead, I am feeling quite mellow from the nice glass of Shiraz I drank with my pasta and there is a contented peacefulness surrounding me, her gentle breathing mixed with the sound of the rain, like a mantra were I meditating. Afternoon naps, not a common activity in this house, but for some reason today, completely appropo. There is a decadence associated with an afternoon nap. Some countries have it right - but not here. Not in North America. In Canada, we are a little more relaxed than our neighbours to the south, but generally speaking, we still place too many demands on our time - all self-inflicted. If you read my previous blog, you will learn I was up in the middle of the night writing it, so for all intents and purposes, I should be napping now too. Hmmmm, I think I just decided I would. See ya later. I'm off. I'll tell you about the movie later.

Did Sinatra lie awake too?

When the sun is high In the afternoon sky You can always find something to do But from dusk til dawn As the clock ticks on Something happens to you In the wee small hours of the morning While the whole wide world is fast asleep You lie awake and think about.......
It's 2:18 am. I'm awake. Women my age are cursed with this problem. We wake up and all the details of our day and the details of what we need to do the next day swirl around in our brains until we eventually fall back to sleep. Some nights are worse than others. Nights like this. Nights where I give in. Nights when no amount of counting sheep or "relaxing my body from head to toe," one body part at a time will lull me back to the land of nod. So I turn on the light. Sometimes I read, sometimes I get up and go to the kitchen and eat a bowl of cereal as it is sometimes hunger pangs that have awakened me. Tonight the sound of car tires on the wet roads, their whooshing monotony repeating again and again do not comfort, they annoy me. So here I am, alone at my desk, one small light glowing, the silence of the night surrounding me, the distant whooshing, less annoying now that I am not trying to fall back to sleep. I sometimes wonder if city living is what contributes to my nocturnal disruptions. The constant white noise of traffic, the odd siren, the occasional group of inebriated revelers passing by with their boisterous voices - is that what wakes me? I dream of sleeping somewhere night after night where it is completely quiet. Oddly enough, when I sometimes do, the silence seems strange and it can make falling and staying asleep just as difficult. I recall once staying at a friend's farm, the crickets early on in the night, followed by the low moan of distant cows, not all that peaceful really. There is one sound I like, the sound of rain falling on a roof, or skylight. That can act as a sedative. Maybe I am at a point where I need to look into sedatives, but I have such an aversion to any kind of drug or unnatural method, that gets ruled out. I wonder if we are waking for a reason? It can produce some of my more creative solutions; this time in the night when the world is at rest. There is a peacefulness about it that can be lovely really. Uninterrupted time. No ringing phones, no voices, no voice in my own head reminding me of things I should be doing. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure almost. Time that is all mine. Time I don't have to share with anyone. My mother says she suffers from this more and more as she ages. I think she lies awake reviewing her life now, wondering about the path she took and what she might have done differently. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe she just thinks about grocery lists and the changes she will make in her garden the next day, but something tells me her thoughts go deeper than that. Maybe she lies there next to my father, listening to him breath like she has for 53 years and wonders how she has managed to last the better part of her life with one man. Is there a comfort to that, or does she say - "what the hell was I thinking?" Hard to say. Does she ever wonder what might have been? Does she ever think about her destiny in this lifetime and whether or not it has been fulfilled? That is something I think about lately. All the time in fact. The fulfillment of my own destiny. I used to be content with motherhood. That seemed like a decent "destiny defining" role. But something happens when they grow up. What gave you a sense of purpose for many years, no longer needs you or feeds you in the same way. It's something all mothers face eventually I am sure. Some never stop, never really let go, but that's not me. I would be one of those mother birds that nudges her little ones out of the nest a bit early, forcing them to flap and fly, or fall. Maybe because I was an early out of the nest bird myself - that seems natural to me. No point trying to stay in the nest when there is a whole wide world out there to discover. I don't get these kids that stay home into their 30's these days. It's beyond me. Maybe our destiny is broken up into phases and I am in between phases, so this middle of the night waking is more of a "wake-up call". A time of clear-headed thinking that is necessary to soldier on to the next phase. In our busy lives, it is almost impossible to carve out the time during the day for this kind of thinking. It would be good now though if I could just move on to this next phase with a little more sleep being banked each night. I sense it is coming soon. I hope.

Friday, May 6, 2011

To Bloom or not to Bloom.......

And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. - Anais Nin
I love this quote. It has been following me around for the last couple of years, appearing regularly here and there. It was in the forward of a book I read, it was sent to me by my astrologer, it echoed in my memory as I bought myself a silver ring in the shape of a fully blossoming rose last summer. A few years ago, when I lived in Vancouver, I purchased a couple of botanical prints at a yard sale. I was not familiar with the flowers that had been masterfully painted by an artist named L. Noble. I would later learn she was quite famous for her botanical art and that had they been originals, I would have hit pay dirt, however, they were prints and I just liked them. One was the Pink Fawn Lily and the other was a yellow Trout Lily. I had never seen either of these at the time in real life, but when I moved to Toronto, lo and behold, there were some Trout Lilies growing in the little woodland garden in my own back yard. I was surprised how small they were, how delicate, how perfect. They come and go early in the spring here, so if you are not observant, you will miss them. They grow like weeds on the forest floor and they are in full bloom right now all along the Humber River trail that I walk at least a couple times per week. As I walked the trail earlier today, I took such joy at the many carpets of them that I saw along the way on the forested parts of the trail. I took an especially close look at them today and it occurred to me that not every plant produced a flower. Not unlike humans I thought. There they all were - masses of them, all reaching for the sun before the tree leaves arrive and block the light for the summer. It made me wonder why some were able to blossom while others could not. They all had the same environment. The soil feeding them was the same. The moisture levels were identical. And yet, only some were reaching their full potential. Only some were fulfilling their destiny, their purpose in life. How like humans indeed. And then I took it a step further and wondered if the non-bloomers were content with their lot in life, or like humans, were they frustrated that they could not bloom? Did they wonder what life might hold for them outside the forest floor? Did they seek answers for their inability to flourish? Or was it enough for them to just survive? Was living there amongst the bloomers OK with them? Were they envious of the beautiful blooms around them? Did they wish they could be more like them? Or, did they just sit back and accept their position amongst the bloomers? Perhaps the safety and security of just being alive in the crowd was enough to satisfy them. So it would seem. The truth is, the frail Trout Lily would not survive outside the cool and shady forest floor. They are in the forest for a reason. That is their home, the only place they can grow. Which begs the question, if humans were to allow nature to take its course, allow their destiny to unfold as it should, would we be more content? Would it create an inner peace inside us? Would we stop struggling, stop trying to swim upstream, slow down, stop beating ourselves up, stop trying so hard to reach that level of perfection? Just be the plant. Or, if you're lucky, the flower. Ahhhh, if it were only that simple. I envy those who are content to be the plant. The non-blooming Trout Lily that dares to try and grow outside the forest takes a huge risk. I imagine few even try. And it would surely be next to impossible to thrive elsewhere without the helping hand of a human. That would make it possible. The correct environment could be re-created, the soil conditions duplicated, the careful monitoring of moisture - all of it could be provided. But it's not natural. It takes work. It takes commitment. It takes desire. Only brave and courageous Trout Lilies could make it. Frightened or cowardly plants would stay behind in the forest. Which plant are you?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Day Without Music........well it just ain't gonna happen!

"Mom, it's like you're the teenager and I am the adult!" My 16 year old has said this to me more than once. Mostly she is referring to my taste in music. When she gets in my car, she immediately changes the radio station - from Virgin Radio 99.9 that I listen to mainly to Vinyl 95.3 (hits from the 60's 70's and 80's). Is there something wrong with this picture? She thinks so. I like pop music. She hates it. We do agree on the odd song. We both like Lady GaGa. She just came in here and asked what I was listening to. I told her Let's Play by Kristina Maria. She had no idea who I was talking about. It's my current fave song. It's dancey, kinda kinky and "oh so pop!" Oddly enough, she loves Earth, Wind and Fire - good thing, cause if she didn't - I might have to disown her. They were (and are) old faves of mine. I think she humours me a bit with some of the old disco music, but at least she does not switch the car radio when it comes on - tossing mom a bone perhaps. I have always liked the chart toppers - ever since I started listening to my first transistor radio in bed at night to lull me to sleep. It was one of those little hand held jobs - red - with a wrist strap. I loved that radio. I went through a lot of 6 volt batteries. I listened faithfully to CHUM AM for years. Static and all. I graduated to a larger red radio with a carry handle that ran on both battery power or electricity after that - I was about 11. It also had an FM band, so now I could expand my horizons a bit, but I still liked CHUM AM for a long time. In my later teen years, it was CHUM FM, Q107 or CFNY. I flipped around between those three until I found a song I liked - CONSTANTLY! I was never NOT on top of whatever new song was being aired. And now here she is, essentially listening to all that stuff I used to listen to for years. She is also into "alternative music". She is very selective. She hates rap and pop. I think she is probably more evolved musically than I am - although we both do enjoy some classical music too. She has Tchaikovsky on her I POD and I have some Vivaldi on mine. There are times when that is all that will soothe our souls. I could not live without music - at least I would not want to anyway. She is the same way. I'm glad she loves music. I don't care what kind of music. I'm just glad she finds solace and joy in it - the same way I do. Given the choice, I'd take listening to music over TV any day. And we both like it loud. We had a Musical Scrabble night on the weekend. She has a bit of a weakness for show tunes as well - and her Glee soundtracks cover a lot of that, so we invented Scrabble words and musical lyrics together - the perfect mother-daughter evening. Won't be long before she can join me on nights like this with a glass of wine as well. Simple pleasures. The best kind. Always accompanied by music.