Wednesday, March 23, 2011

she's a good hearted woman in love with a good timing man

I love me some "old" country. I use the term "old" loosley, as I mean "old" as even up to the nineties - before country became the top 40 popular, trendy genre it's becoming now. I mean, I saw Faith Hill at the 4H fair in about 1996 long before Faith Hill was known for much of anything. And that's not to say I don't occasionally hear a new song that I like, it's just that tunes such as "Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk" or "She Thinks my Tractor's Sexy" just don't pull on me the way a little Hank Williams, sr. or jr., can or the way Crystal Gayle singing "Don't it Make my Brown Eyes Blue" does.

As a kid my dad used to listen to country music when he'd make us lunch. This was when I was really young. My dad made this sandwich called a "veggie special" in which he took a piece of whole wheat bread, spread some pizza or spaghetti sauce on it, put a little wheat germ on top of that, added some frozen mixed vegetables and then topped it off with a slice of American cheese. Into that new contraption called a microwave it went, and yum yum.

My parents were newly divored and though my dad was definitely the more health conscious of my two parents (hence the wheat germ. We also ate carob, weren't allowed gum with sacchirine in it and visited the Mekong Market where he bought little glass vials of ginseng which he called "Kra-teen Daaang" (sp)), he wasn't as much of a chef as my mother. As we sat at the table and waited for him to make the veggie specials, he would turn the little radio on in the kitchen to an AM country station. I can still hear him singing "Texas weh-eh-men" in a low baritone.

My dad introduced me to a lot of different types of music and for that I am really grateful. He did his Master's thesis on music ethnography in which he wrote about the blues. I assume thisa was when his vast study of music really started. The music of my childhood ranged from the reggae beats of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, or Burning Spear to the wailing guitars of the Kings: B.B., Freddie, and Albert. Some days it was the jazzy sounds of Gato Barbieri, Wes Montgomery, or Miles Davis. I heard the bizarre sounds of Sun Ra and the melodic Augustus Pablo (I wanted to name my daughter Augustus or August if she was a boy and call her Gus. Augustus was influenced by melodian player Augustus Pablo and August was influenced by the Grateful dead song "Wharf Rat": "My name is August West and I love my pearly baker best more than my wine")).

My dad was a big Beatles fan so there was no shortage of them or the Rolling Stones or Cream and other music of the sixties and seventies. Other names that come to mind are Bloomfield Cooper and Savoy Brown, Leon Russell, Santana, Howlin' Wolf, and Charlie Parker. I remember on Friday nights we would go to dinner and then rent a movie (the VCR was also a new thing at this time). We watched Movies like "Bird" and "Crossroads." Clearly, my childhood musical education did not suffer. My dad was making mixed tapes from his record player waay back in the day. And so, in the afternoon we'd listen to country music.

When I met my husband he introduced me to a new subculture, one I had not really been privvy to in my middle class (maybe even upper middle class? I'm not sure where the class lines divide, really) upbringing: that of the "working man."

My father was an academic, my mother in social work, and my step mother a physician. My grandfather was Vice President of an Insurance company on one side and the other worked for a short time as a Foreign relations represenative for a local company that made materials used in WW II. That grandfather was from a small farm community rife with Amish called Nappanee. So for all our "worldliness" (my grandmother was the daughter of a diamiond cutter and grew up in South Africa) there was always that tinge of good old farm folk within us. Still, I knew relatively nothing about the world of the skilled trades and construction. My knowledge of construction was basically the stereotypical guy eating his lunch from a metal box sitting up high on the beam of developing building and whistling at women as they passed the site. G showed me that most of what I sterotyped wasn't true and I found great comfort and happiness with his friends and family. It was an easy integration of lifestyles and we found enjoyment on both ends of our spectrum.

G came from a family of brick layers. His grandfather, father, and both brothers were in the trade. G branched out and chose plumbing/pipefitting rather than bricklaying and much of this was due to the training he recived when he was in the Navy. His maternal grandfather had also been a Navy man though I don't know what career he had after that.

When I met my G I wasn't just introduced to this "blue collar" world, but along with that some new music. I started listening to Waylon and George Jones, Hank jr., Lynrd Skynrd, The Allman Brothers and The Marshall Tucker Band: Outlaw country and Southern Rock. It wasn't that i didn't know who most of those musicians were, only that I hadn't really listened to them. My dad had once forced me as a teenager to go and hear The Charlie Daniels Band one year when they came to the county fair. "It's Charlie Daniels, man!" he exclaimed. "You can't miss an opportunity to hear Charlie Daniels. I went reluctantly, but groused the whole time.

By the time I'd met my husband at age twenty three I'd formed my own musical taste, influenced by my upbringing and incorporated with my own preferred styles: folky rock, alt-country, and folky punk.

On one of our first dates my (not yet) husband and I went to a concert to hear Deep Purple, Ted Nugent, and Skynrd. Though not much of a fan of Nugent and Deep Purple, I really enjoyed hearing Skynrd. It wasn't the original band, but at that time there were still three of the original members. I'd been listening to quite a bit of classic rock in the time before I'd met my husband and had taken quite a liking to the Eagles and Bob Seger. My husband had a motorcycle when we met and Seger especially seemed to go hand in hand with this new guy: my pipe fitting Harley riding (soon-to-be) husband and this very exciting new romance.

After a few years together and my husband and I getting an ipod, I really took to the outlaw country. He had a lot of CDs I had never even heard until they were downloaded into the itunes. These songs were of hard working, hard drinking men and their tough and loyal wives. I felt as if G and I fit right into the mold of the stories told in those songs. Especially after out daughter was born and I was no longer spending as much time outlawing it with him as I was home with our baby. I truly felt I was becoming the like the women who sang and were in the songs.

The sad thing is, as much as I enjoyed it, I can't really listen to that music much any more. It has become too painful. I don't want to be married to an Outlaw and I don't want to be a woman who is singing about fighting for her man. It's funny that Hank Williams jr.'s song "Women I've Never Had" used to make me smile. Now it sort of makes me sick. "Jackson" makes me angry. Hearing "Whiskey Bent and Hellbound" is liable to give put the urge on me to put my fist through something much like Loretta's, "Fist City," though I can't listen to that one much either. Willie's songs still pull on my heart strings but they hurt too. I don't want to be the good hearted woman any longer.

I've been searching for songs that speak to who I am and where I am right now. As a teenager I used to play a game where someone would give me a word and I would come up with a song lyrics to go with it. I always said "life is a medley." Nowadays my motto has been more "music is god" and I've taken to letting the shuffle on the ipod teach me whatever lesson I am supposed to learn for the day. I'm trying to believe that things happen as they should and that I can only control so far as the end of my nose. That's left me adrift in the musical world. Despite all the music I've been introduced to in my life, I can't find a fit right now. I don't quite see myself heading into the Chritian rock arena though I suppose a song called "In His Hands" could work for me if it was perhaps renamed to something like "Wrapped up in the Energy of the Universe." and I bet that song exists somewhere too, though it's probably being chanted by a bald New Yorker who dropped out of Julliard to live in a Indian Ashram while his grandmother paid off his student loans for him.

My point about the music may have been lost, but what I'm trying ot say is that I am adrift right now and I am looking for an anchor or an identity. The previous nine weeks have made me reevaluate who I am, what I believe, and how I see myself. I can't find a song to identify with right now.

I am starting to believe that there is purpose in life that isn't always obvious as events are unfolding (maybe I always believed that, but it seems really obvious to me now). I'd like to think that my days spent as the faithful Outlaw wife had meaning and that the catastrophe that unfolded around me two months ago might just have been the answer to my prayers (and how fucked up is that anyway? if everything happens for a reason then the universe is one ironic fuck up of a place). If this is true, then I hope at some point I can listen to Waylon and Jessi singing "I ain't the one" again without breaking down. that I might once again enjoy crooning along with Hank about my wild friends that have settled down because I will be one of them. I may not identify in the same way with the music, but I won't have to shut it or certain parts of my life out of my mind because of all the hurt.

I'd like to imagine the broken pieces of my life settling into a compact pile of debris that's busy making diamonds under the pressure. If life happens as it should, and I can imagine a celestial hand holding me gently through it all, then I know every time things seem the most dire I will be eable to unearth one of those diamonds and find the beauty that comes from disaster.

If it happens as it's supposed to, then I can still hang on to Willie crooning, "If you had not fallen then I would not have found you, Angel flying too close to the ground." and all will not be lost with who I was but only that more is to be gained with who I am in the now.

(I totally apologize if this isn't all that coherent. I've worked on it off and on all day amid interuption after interuption and I just want to be done with it - so off to the internets it goes!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

I heard the news today oh boy

Yesterday my husband and I did a "Day in the Life." Well, mostly I did it, but he was in on the gig. I noticed a few main things while looking at the pics I was going to use:

1) my son is missing from all pictures. I think this is mostly because he left for school before I got up, he came home after school and immeciately went to play with his friends, and then when he was here hanging out, I was busy grading papers and the like. Anyway, sorry mijo.

2) I had clinic today which I took no pictures of. I felt wierd going in to my clinic and snapping pics. I was going to take a pic of the outside of the bulding and a few inside the exam room, like of my sputum cup or something, but I forgot. So I snapped a picture of my PFT print out when I got home. (FEV1 was 72 and I hadn't even done a treatment yet that day, so that's great (though 25/75 was 26, so clearly there is a big discrepancy there and that's where the treatments are really making the difference (the highest I've seen that in years is 39 and I think that was post IVs)).

3) I went out and had a cocktail with a friend and didn't snap any pics there either. It would have been proof I actually do have IRL friends! I'm not the cyber loner I come across as. :) I'm just a picture loser. But she doesn't know I have this blog and I wasn't ready to explain it yet (she does know I have CF though), so just enjoyed my "pom peche" martini and let the camera rest.

Point being: lots of holes in this DITL, so I guess in a way, it isn't represenative of my life fully at all. C'est la vie, n'est pas?

oh, and 4)I might have a broken nose. The baby I sit for head butted me last week. You can see the line where my glasses hit against my face and my nose is pretty swollen near the bridge. It's ooogly. I surely wasn't thinking this was going to be my most beautiful day when I decided to do this DITL!

Gregg is up and getting ready to start the day's project while I take Miss M to school: tamales!

Miss M busted trying to feed the dog cheerios.

This is how I look in the morning. With a busted face. sca-wee!

Off to school!

Picking up cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and some candy (not for the tamales, for mah belleh).

corn husks a-soakin'

cerdo tirado!

We had to set the tamale makin' mood

sneaking a pic of my man lathering up

picking up Miss M from school. I think my car needs a wash.

Nothing sweeter than seeing the preschoolers coming out of the school doors. Melts my heart everytime.

cleaning up puppy pee. When will he be trained??

My girl

Posing with my tamales before devouring more than I want to admit to

Hot tamale baby! Who knew food would be such an important part of this day?


Gregg and his pup

The pup. Gregg took this pic. He is a far better photographer than I am, but I can't get the camera into his hands enough.

Trying to get Slugger to wake Marls from her siesta

"I don't wanna get up!"

The dog says, "Why do you people always make me do the dirty work?"

Back to sleep for a bit.

I told Gregg to take a picture of me that captured his love for me

This is it: the picture of love.

My chores. Laundry. I don't mind putting it in the washer, I don't mind taking it out. I HATE folding it, and I ABHOR putting it away. Give me a toilet brush any day, seriously.

Getting ready to have a cocktail with a friend Hair down?

Or up?

The meeting place for the alcoholic debauchery.

I came home and Gregg and his friend were watching youtube videos. The friend pulled up some beheading clip. I told G not to watch it. I told him. He watched anyway and was disturbed and upset for the rest of the night. Sometimes I have to say it: I told you so. I did not watch nor listen to such a video. Just thinking about it makes me ill.

Face washed, contacts out. Back-to-normal Shan.

Trying to get a pic of nekkid G. Undies are close enough. He might kill me for posting this. It may disappear.

good night moon. good night dog.

scrub a dub dub

Gregg and I taking a nighty night pic

I told him we should make out in front of the camera

we were laughing about this and I started to cough when he went to take the pic so I covered my mouth - partly out of polite habit, partly because I didn't want an ugly red faced coughing pic on here.

I told Gregg to kiss me. This was his reaction.

Got him to smooch me anyway. <3