Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Words: Wisdom

"I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music." --George Eliot

Saturday, August 17, 2013

10 Things

10 Things: also known as random things that might not be complete ideas enough for an entire post, but I still want to throw at you, in cyberspace terms, which I hear hurts way less than if I throw a baseball at your head.

1. OK, this first thing does merit a CAPS LOCK post on it's own and will get one after I practice my scat a little more. I had a friend visit a little while ago, a very musically inclined friend, so I thought a trip down to the Kansas City 18 & Vine Jazz District was in order. The last time I was down there, years ago, the area was still in pretty bad urban decay. I am happy to report that this gem of not only Kansas City history, but of American music history is currently been restored and revitalized. Since visiting that little cool as ice area and the Jazz Museum, all I have wanted to do is listen to jazz music. This is not a bad thing. Can I borrow your time machine and go back to my childhood and become a trumpet player? Wow, thanks!

2. Well, maybe I haven't been listening to only, only jazz (I am so full of LIES), but really the only exception is this little Ben Fold Five + Fraggle Rock number. The video is almost a year old, but is still the cure for a bad day, or a boring day, a holy cow what am I doing with my life day, or man, I really need some lemonade day : DO IT ANYWAY (be sure to watch the video to the very end if you want to get the Fraggle Rock theme stuck in your head for dayz. This is not a bad thing.)

3. Still in music news (I'm trying to flow here, people), but on a sadder note, Cover Lay Down's tribute to Matt Ryd, the Chicago musician that passed away earlier this month, is touching and thought provoking. The author of the piece not only plays tribute to a great voice that the world has now lost, but also brings up some very interesting discussion about health care including mental heath care, for those that have unconventional careers. I know health care, or I guess I should qualify that as health care policy, can carry a differing of opinions. In different times in my life I have forgone needed (but not immediately life threatening) health care because I didn't have insurance and I couldn't pay out of pocket, even in times of being employed, so I have lots of opinions. However,  I don't have a lot of answers, but every now and then I think it is fitting to question and ponder how we define the quality and value of life.

4. I really can't find a witty transition after that, so let's just jump right into my next thought: I loved hosting dinner parties when I lived in DC. Although I have tried, I really haven't found the dinner party groove back in here in Missouri. But I believe that dinner parties and the breaking of bread together have the potential to build and keep strong friendships more than any other just hanging out episodes. I also believe (Brothers and sisters! Hear me preach!)  super strongly in being a good party host as well as a good guest. This article on how to be a good dinner party guest, pretty much summarizes every single one of my pet peeves. So I'm warning you now, DON'T BE THAT GUY. But on the flip side, take to heart those fine rules in the linked post and you will have your calendar filled with dinner party invites and  your stomach filled with some home cooking.  The only thing that I would add to the list would be to turn off your phone for the duration of the dinner. Seriously, Facebook, Twitter and yes, I am even admitting that Instagram will be just fine without your constant attention for an hour or so. 

5. Speaking of pet peeves: How is it that on The Big Bang Theory, Penny, as a waitress, can afford her own apartment (in LA!), while Sheldon and Leonard, both salaried physicists have to share? In a related note, why do I tend to over think television shows?

6. This week I had an at length conversation trying to convince someone that Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings are not written by the same person (Kind sir, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Tolkien). True story. Sometimes I think aliens should just invade our planet now and get it over with, clearly our civilization is in it's downfall.

7.  But you know what can still save our civilization? We can find the answer in some wise street art in California:
via my sister in LA, California.

8. Can we go back to talking about television? Good. I am pretty sure that I have seen every single American crime drama, so now I have moved on to British ones. And the talk of the British television world these days is the crime drama Broadchurch. The plot revolves around the death of a young boy in a small charming seaside town. It stars David Tennant (!), not as Doctor Who, but as a gruff detective with a beard. A BEARD?! I don't know if I am feeling the beard. I just don't know. I am however feeling the show, so far it has a little bit of a Twin Peaks vibe, and makes me totally antsy watching it, but in a good-- omg what is happening?--way. Adding to this new little tv watching tradition, I've been making this Double Chocolate Carmel Mug Brownie when I watch each week. You guys, it has flax seed in it, it's practically healthy. 

9. Except for that mug brownie, I've had what it seems like too many cooking failures in the kitchen lately. Fine (huff), whatever (puff), I will just eat microwave popcorn for the rest of my life, I just don't care anymore. But then my globe trotting friend Becky had to go and start posting some of recipes from that one time she lived in Korea. And now, I am pushing the popcorn further back in the pantry and digging out the sesame oil.  I can do this. That is what friends are for;  telling you that man was not made to live on microwavable food (totally in the Bible, look it up). 

10. In garden news, I started to dig up our potatoes this week. It was my first time growing potatoes so there was a lot of crossing fingers and shrugging of shoulders (I think this is right?). But it worked, we have starchy little taters! Which also means that all week I have been reenacting that one scene from The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings)  movie where Samwise Gamgee is all like: PO-TA-TOES. If you have no idea what I am taking about, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Tolkien, kind sir or madame. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Song of the Week: Jim James

So, it's not Tuesday and Tuesday is usually when I post the Song of the Week. Usually.  Today is Saturday (look at me, I know my days of the week = college education at work) and I am only now forcing a lovely song on you.

I have been a little liberal in general with posting here. Usually when this occurs it is because, honestly, there isn't a lot going on worthy of a blog post. Even with tambourines and jazz hands, laundry and mowing the lawn and plain old daily life isn't that exciting and the need for documentation isn't that compelling. It feels so unauthentic to try to force life just to have something to blog about it. And I have been living a lot in my head lately, which is a little harder to explain that just, "blah, my life is boorrring."

When I came back to Missouri it was to help my family and myself in the aftermath of the death of my father. Overall it has been a good experience. And now I am at the point where I am starting to think about what comes next, where and how I can now make my life matter. The last little while, I've been thinking about two specific and different ways I can focus my life, which I will be annoyingly vague about. I know that some of you see all this wondering and wandering  as my normal state of mind and the constant in my life, and that is why I am so darn charming. Both paths are towards good things, it is not like I am choosing between jumping off a cliff or eating ice cream. So they are good, but different. As far as I can see, they don't cross, I can't walk both.

I don't subscribe to the idea that there is only one true path in life. We can potentially do good and be good in so many different ways. To quote of my favorite books (Spy friend you may want to look away, 'cause it's Steinbeck) East of Eden“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open." 

So while I do believe that both paths potentially can lead to a level of happiness and satistifaction, it doesn't making choosing any easier. Somedays I feel   100% that I should take one of the paths and start marching in that direction then some little thing or thought with trip me up and I'll think maybe the other choice might be better. Deep, deep, sigh. 

So my head (and sometimes my toes) has been spinning and swirling with thoughts of paths and choices and dreams and reality. This morning I woke up with "A New Life" by Jim James, stuck in my head. It is such a sweet little song. Did it personally give me answers to all my questions or step by step instructions for my life? No. But it-- the song and it's video, did remind me that starting over is a part of life, and that actually walking through a door is just as important as merely opening it, and a new life or a new part of your old life can be *just* as exciting as a dancing buffalo.

"A New Life" can be found on Jim James' (of My Morning Jacket fame) debut solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God.