Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Norway, and a messed-up world

So I'm sitting here at lunch and I see a Facebook post about Amy Winehouse being found dead. I shouldn't be surprised but at the same time, yes, I was. You hope that people get their stuff together and have happy lives, but some people just can't. I cannot imagine what kind of pain she must have felt in life that it was bad enough for her to digest the level of substances she did, but also as often. I spent a few minutes pondering why some people have tremendous amounts of pain in their lives -- from abusive homes to childhood traumas or horrid disabilities, anything that is out of the norm -- and have little trouble making their way through life, and usually with the best attitude ever. And other people can have such difficulty coping with things that most of us would either shrug off or eventually just get over...... Some people are like the Black Knight: chop off their arms and to them, just a flesh wound. Others, you can show them a safety pin at 30 paces, and they are stabbed in the heart for life. There's sensitive and then there's "really, child, toughen up!" just as much as there is "you went through all that, and you're okay? really? Wow."

Then I had another friend post an opinion about the horrific tragedy in Norway, for which there just are no words. Her thought was on what sort of odd combination of environment and genetics could possibly produce a killer like that..... and there are no answers. Here's someone who felt such deep emotion about something that this was his answer to his personal pain..... it is a massively (blank)ed-up answer to 99.99999% of the rest of the world, but his mind would not see that.

Violence.... one full of rage and took it out on 100 people who had no connection to his pain at all. One full of self-hatred and took it out on herself. Both deprived the world of something. Who knows if Amy Winehouse's talent could have blossomed and given us all lots more to enjoy in her music? Who knows what those 100 people in Norway (especially the teens) could have gone on to do and be? We mourn most what might have been...... in both instances.

And sadly, this week, a part of my childhood has gone away too..... No new program for NASA. The space shuttle program has, after 30 years, ended, with nothing substantial to replace it. NASA was something cool from my childhood -- being an astronaut? YEAH! Even as a girl, it would have been super cool! I remember watching launches on the evening news, and we all held our breaths when the very first shuttle went up and came home. I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news of the Challenger explosion .... and my teacher's reaction has never been forgotten in 25 years. (Wow. 25 years? Seriously? Oh geeez......) In fact, we used the whole Challenger explosion and investigation as a case study in my Public Administration class. And now it seems that we have other fish to fry. Too many different things wanting a piece of the pie, and oh well, this quaint relic from another time, well..... sorry NASA. You're expendable.

Really? How many of the technological advances that we enjoy today had a genesis or a further development from the space program? What if all that had never happened? Damn those Commies for capitulating .... they took our competitive drive away. (/sarcasm) The one remnant of the Space Race Age that I'll hang onto are some great pieces of ambient music..... or music steeped in remembrance of such a time (e.g., Donald Fagen's glorious The Nightfly, and especially "New Frontier").


Guess today, I haz a sad. All over.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday (7/22/11)

1. One of my happiest moments ever was This one will sound really strange, but the day I quit a job that just didn't work for me anymore. Things had happened that made my work go from good-crazy to horrific-insane. What I realized I was grown-up and it was time I took my life back into my hands. Made my decision to quit and slept like the dead that night.

2. Summer is wedding season and weddings are usually, very beautiful events.....

3. This summer (to quote Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer channeling Walter Cronkite) has been hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut.

4. My summer food of choice has been blueberries and grape tomatoes. Not together mind you, but yeah.....

5. My summer uniform has been more or less my regular clothes...... slacks of some sort, short-sleeved top of some sort, and shoes. It's hotter than Hades outside, freezing cold inside.... so trying to hit the middle.

6. If I could spend the entire summer in one location I would choose wherever the sand is white, the water is blue, and the men don't speak much English

7. My summer anthem is the entire "Bat out of Hell" album...... it just reminds me of some really good summers in my life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Something fun for me!

I did something last week that I haven't done in forever: audition for a theatre production.

Good news: I AM IN THE CAST!
Better news: It's Godspell!!!

I love this musical. Last year, I got the bright idea to finally download the soundtrack from iTunes and am SO very glad I did. Not sure why but I decided I had to have it and by golly... I had joked with a friend from choir who is involved with local theatre that they needed to do this. So by this spring, it became, "Hey guess what? We are trying to get the rights for Godspell. You will HAVE to audition."

They did. And I did. I wasn't sure I could. Right now, I'm on a campaign to be gentler with myself. But by the same token, I'm badly in need of some stress relief. So between treating myself to a monthly massage and trying to get better quality sleep, I also figured it couldn't hurt to do something fun for myself, something I hadn't done since God was a boy.

By the time I get on stage, it will be just short of 21 and a half years since my last time in a production. It will not be 21 years to my next one (at least I hope!). Even in just a few days, I am finding myself really enjoying it. Maybe one audition each year? We'll see........

And while I am not doing "Turn Back Oh Man" (my very favorite tune from the show), I am doing "By Your Side" (my 2nd favorite song). And a small solo in "Light of the World" ... you know, there's not a bad song in the bunch. :)

See ya in lights!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday

Shamelessly stolen from Amanda

1. I am a (morning, evening, middle of the day person)
I am a evening person. Not a night owl, mind you (those days are LONG gone), but I do really good between 5-10 PM.

2. My favorite Pandora stations are
my own "blender" and jazz classics.

3. 3 of my "must-have" songs for a road trip playlist are
See, I can't answer this: it will all depend on what mood I'm in, where I'm going, who's going with me or am I going solo, etc. If i'm solo, it's all good and up for grabs. I will say this: it's not particular songs, it's which CD's, in which order, etc.

4. My favorite pattern is
I don't have a favorite but I can tell you stripes in any direction other than vertical do not work for me. It's just me.

5. My favorite perfume is
Anais Anais. Love it and have since 1986.

6. Rules are
Yep. They are. No, really, I love structure to a point, but there are times some rules just stink. And are worth breaking. And worth the punishment. Others, not so much.

7. My most overused phrase or punctuation is
Exclamation points- because I'm just really generally excited about everything! And the (...) because I'm lazy with grammar and it's easier to write in the way I think and hope people just follow along. (Dang, Amanda, me too -- so I stole your answer too!!!)

Your turn......

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Love at First Listen

It was 21 years ago that I first discovered bossa nova -- okay, bossa nova music other than "The Girl from Ipanema" -- thanks to my exchange brother. Marcio was from Sao Paulo, Brazil. To help him have a little bit of home while he was in the States, his father had made a not-quite-mix-tape for him. One side was all bossa nova (mostly Gilberto/Jobim) and the other was samba. Samba was great, but bossa nova.... ah! I fell in love. (Of course, every time I hear "Ipanema" I can't help but see John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in my mind's eyes....)

I actually fell in love when he left the tape behind. Somehow the tape ended up in my portable case. I think my parents thought it was mine and when I returned to school, in it went. One night, as I was nursing a hellacious migraine, I needed just some soft music as I attempted to fall asleep. I'm odd in that sound doesn't bother my headache, as long as it's low and not annoying; think "quiet storm" type of music. Light - oh God, the darker the better during a headache. Anyway, I hit play on my huge ol' boombox and out poured beautiful rhythms of the Brazilian coast. Ipanema made its way to Charleston that night and it's been a happy marriage ever since.

I can't describe why I like it. The music has an energy that I can't describe. It is not the frenetic energy of the samba or other Latin rhythms. It is more like a mambo than anything else but still, not quite. There's an easy flow, a soothing sweetness, an undercurrent of sensuality, and something about hearing music sung in Brazilian Portugese.... mm.

For about 15 of the last 21 years, I got my fix from that little tape until..... yes, you know it's coming.... yes, my Ford Escort's tape deck ate it. I mean, had it for lunch with a second helping and extra dessert. I cried. Yes. I did. Big ol' salty tears. I have searched in vain since then for the exact album that Mr. Guilherme lovingly prepared for his son, but to no avail. The closest I have found is Herbie Mann's album with Getz and Gilberto and Jobim, but even that isn't exact. And no luck at all in finding the samba music; I never knew the artist.

So the other day I had stopped in Starbucks -- which is an event that happens along the same cycle as the Ice Age. I'm just not a Starbucks person, at least not on a regular basis. But I had a gift card left over from my birthday, and I'd used it ... maybe 3 times since October? And mostly for the regular coffee and gum. Yeah, big spender. Anyway, I saw it and HAD to have it. I mean, HAD to: a compilation CD, called "In A Bossa Nova Mood." Quicker than a jackrabbit on a first date, I grabbed it, and ended up paying a whopping 16c over what my card had left. Yeah bay-bay!!!!

Had it in my CD player(s) for three days straight now. Wishing I were in Ipanema ........ Completely wonderful!

Monday, July 04, 2011

My America

My earliest known ancestor came to these shores in the 1600s, settling in Virginia. I had other ancestors who came -- some to Pennsylvania, some to South Carolina, some to Maryland, most to Virginia. And south they went, along the Wagon Trail toward Texas. They stopped. Some of theirs went on, and so I have distant relatives who share some of those family names all over the country, if not the world. But mine stopped here. I can drive to any number of cemeteries within a 75-mile radius and find ancestors and other relatives (their siblings or descendants).

My last immigrant ancestor -- at least of which I am aware -- probably arrived sometime around 1820 or so from Ireland. Her grave, within 5 miles of my home, simply states born in Ireland in 1801 and died here in 1870 (if I recall). That's it. Nothing else. I have no idea where in Ireland she came from, how she came, why she came, anything. I often wonder if she bought a ticket, if she stowed away, if she came through New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Philly, or where?

At least as far as I have found, they all came from elsewhere. I keep hoping for some Native ancestry to mix in with the very Anglo-Scots-Irish mix that spawned my particular family -- not even a smidgen of German mixed in, surprising given the number of German immigrants to our area. They all came for a reason. Whether for land, marriage, a better opportunity or just freedom, they all came to the Eastern shores of the US.

And my life is forever better because of that choice.