Tag Archives: music soothes me

Ninety-Five — Conversations

This morning I walked the kids to school and then dropped by the office to fill out a volunteer form so I could accompany Eli’s kindergarten class to the grocery store for a field trip. The office secretary was giving out late slips and it was lovely to hear her greet each late child by name. There is a sadness inherent in chronic tardiness, isn’t there? Then I get over that sadness. It’s elementary school, not a Canadian dysfunctional novel. All is probably well.

One girl came in and the secretary said she looked tired.
“Oh yes,” the girl said. “I was up until ONE AM.”
“My,” said the secretary.
“I have so many things on the weekends,” said the girl. “Dance, soccer, Bulgarian school…”

Her eyes were wide. She didn’t look tired to me. I wasn’t buying it. Some kids like having lots of activities. Some kids can’t tell time. Some kids just like people to feel sorry for them.

The walk to the grocery store was illuminating. The little girl walking in front of me told me all about her visiting grandparents, her younger sibling, and that she was sick actually. Right then. Today.

“I am so sick,” she said.
“Oh that’s too bad,” I said. To be polite, I asked, “Do you have a cough, or a stuffy nose?”
“I’m just sick sick sick,” she went on. “But still I have to come to school. And now [sibling A] and [sibling B] will get sick.”
“The more kids you have in your house, the sicker everyone will be,” I agreed.

We left it at that.

The grocery store field trip was a nutrition teaching expedition. Nutritionists took the children in two groups through the store and explained the Canada Food Guide and its rainbow of suggested food servings.

Mostly the kids were fascinated by the demonstration glass of milk. They all tapped it and marvelled that you could turn it over and nothing happened. It didn’t spill. MAGIC.

In the cereal aisle the children sat on the floor and learned how much fibre is needed in a serving of cereal to make it healthy (5g or more) and how much sugar (7g or less). A man who was going to shop down that aisle stopped short and asked me what was going on. He had a baguette tucked under his arm.

“They’re a kindergarten class,” I said, “learning about how to eat good food.”
“In the CEREAL aisle?” he scoffed.
“Um, yeah, they’re talking about breakfast,” I said.
“Sure, I get it,” he said and walked away.

You get it? What? Big Froot Loop rides again? Innocent children being brainwashed into thinking breakfast cereal might be an option as a food item? Way to stick it to The Man, baguette-eater.

Some days uptown New Westminster just has a lot more going on. Today was one of those days. Each corner of 6th & 6th had a strange looking person standing on it, someone grey-faced or slouching, someone with a hand shoved at a strange angle inside a jacket pocket. Someone with slightly outside-the-lines lipstick. A woman with a toddler-aged grandchild in a stroller was cooing, “Some-one is all poooopy..” while she waited for the light to change. A man with an artificial-looking beard asked me for change.

In the Most Depressing Mall in the Universe, where I went to buy lip balm at the drug store, a man followed me down the hall from the bathroom, his feet sounding alarmingly quick behind me. He wanted to ask how tall I was.

“Five foot ten,” I said. “Goodbye.”

Later, the kids had a friend over and they watched a video on youtube. Then another, and another. It was “American Girl,” at some point, a new pop song. I watched them closely as they watched, and I heard the following conversation:

(after a closeup of the three women in the video from behind)

“The camera just totally zoomed in on their BUTTS! Why did it DO that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Hey, that’s a nice car.”
“I like that guy’s tattoo. That’s really cool.”
“I think it’s a Mustang…”
“Hey she’s stealing his car!”
“She’s totally stealing it!”
“I don’t want to watch this anymore.”

I heard this song by J. Roddy Walston and the Business in the car this evening and had to wait until it was done to turn off the engine. This love is subject to revision.

Ninety-One — Variety

It started with food; my kids are picky eaters and we are constantly changing the way we ‘do’ dinner to try to unlock their magic eating powers. I tried the ‘here is an assortment of fine foods, please enjoy any/all of them!’ approach for a while and they ate peanut butter sandwiches or the closest thing to that on the table, so now I am trying the ‘eat a bite before you get anything else’ approach and they are eating a bite and THEN eating peanut butter sandwiches so I declare the Hunger Games OVER because peanut butter.

Wait! Except Eli. Eli refuses to eat anything but the things he wants to eat. So on butter chicken night, he ate nothing for dinner. And on omelette night, he ate apple. On the bright side, he is eating a MUCH more robust breakfast these days because by 7 am he is sta-r-fuck-ving.

I know. It doesn’t scan, but I needed to put the word fuck in there because fuck. It is hard to make your children embrace variety. They fear what they don’t know. It’s a self-preservation thing.

In some respects, it’s not so hard. Music, for example. Since they were wee/born/fetal, they have enjoyed all the music I have to offer, all the music SA has to offer, all the music off the radio, some kids’ stuff, etc. In the car I stab at the radio buttons madly to find a song I don’t hate and then I leave it there for a while. Arlo loves SONIC HITS NOW which plays, well, all the hits, and Eli likes SONIC HITS NOW too but also ROCK AND ROLL and sometimes THE CBC / THE NEWS. Sometimes I override them, because I am driving and I get to choose.

They pick their own clothes. They pick their friends. They pick their own books at the library. I don’t like all of it, and they don’t like all the things I like, but variety. I am starting to think that the key to life is variety; understanding it, embracing it. Seeing, or even better, assuming that all the people you meet have different ideas of what is THE BEST EVER and it’s okay. It’s even great! It’s okay to not love Star Wars (that’s me) or not like Joni Mitchell (both kids) or hate sauces in general (Eli) or not be fond of carrots, because it’s a big world and just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you get to tell other people to like it or not.

Sometimes social media acts like that kid who tells you what’s cool, what t-shirt you should be wearing, how you’re never going to have friends because you don’t like Lego Star Wars or you don’t like it the right way. If you only hang out there, you can forget what you actually think. Sometimes I get so wrapped up reading what other people have written on the Internet, I don’t get around to writing my own stuff.

Twitter is a wonderful thing sometimes; it is full of people who might get you, people you get. It is funny and sympathetic and sometimes exactly what you need. At the beginning, after a year of Twitter I thought it was cutting into my productivity. I was right! But the solution in these modern times is not to quit The Internet. The solution is to moderate one’s own intake. The solution is variety.

Luckily there are books and notebooks and real-life conversations with people. There is always something to clean or throw away in this house. There is always meal preparation and the fitting of my tongue with a steel sleeve so that when I have to bite it during dinnertime while the kids pick pick pick at their delicious food I don’t bleed all over my plate. There is always something else I could be doing, other than following a trail of links to the bottom of an internet pile-on. The world is big and wonderful and full of things.


Seventy-Five — Summer Runnin’

When I go out for runs, I take a music player but I have not, traditionally, been able to listen to music while I run. For one, I speed up when the music is fast and I am just not a good enough runner to have that happen. My pacing goes all wonky and I collapse by the side of the road, waving my arms weakly and moaning. How embarrassing.

For two, with music on I can’t hear what’s coming up behind me and I’m self-conscious about saying ‘hi’ to people and dogs if I can’t hear my own voice. HI! HI! HELLO! I AM RUNNING AND LISTENING TO THE BEASTIE BOYS! NO I AM NOT DYING, I JUST GET REALLY RED FACED WHEN I EXERCISE!

Usually I listen to music to warm up while I walk and then just listen to the sound of my own breathing while I actually run. Or I listen to podcasts or the CBC because those don’t make me speed up or slow down.

Yesterday I made up this awesome little song and sang it to myself for some of my thirty minute workout in the very hot afternoon sun, was that wise, no it was not, however I felt better after.

(Tune of: Summer Lovin’ from Grease)

Summer running / saw me some dogs
summer running / stepped on some wasps
summer running / makes me perspire
summer running / I might expire!
summer runs / are better than none
bu-ut oh how I prefer the rain
(wella wella wella huh!)

That’s it, because the “tell me more” part doesn’t work and I can’t sing a duet with myself. While running. In the heat.

Today’s much cooler temperatures and pissing rain signal not only the beginning of the school year but the beginning of the best time to run (until the colds and flu set in): FALL. Oh Fall, or Autumn if you prefer. Misty and moisty, dark and gloomy, the best time for those running endorphins to kick in because then? You really need them. In August, who needs them? In July, who needs them? Not me. In November? * I need them.

* not that I am eager for November. I am not.

Sixty — Music

I’m writing this while I watching / listening to Lollapalooza on Youtube. I went to Lollapalooza once, in 1992, and it was truly one of my favourite concert-going experiences, but tonight I am at home, waiting for leftover pasta to heat in the toaster oven. Saint Aardvark has taken his telescope to the top of a mountain in the hopes of seeing the southern horizon.

The kids went to bed with a bit of fuss; I was letting them pick videos to watch on my laptop and then it was 7:43, fifteen minutes past lights out so I hurried them and they don’t like that.

They are fans of a band called Imagine Dragons. I only became aware of this band when Eli developed a fondness (read: obsession) with their much-played-on-the-radio song Radioactive. One day we watched the video together and I realized that I am fickle because I had been very lukewarm about the song but the video was funny and then I liked the song more. THAT is how they get you.

The Imagine Dragons video Arlo wanted to see tonight was for a more recent single called Demons so I looked it up and it was that kind of video — until I started having to explain them, I had no idea how hard it is for a kid to sort out just what the hell is going on in your average music video — where the band is playing a show and there is also a story element. A number of audience members were zoomed in on, we saw their story, their reason for being at the show, their own internal interpretation of the song. All the explaining I was doing (yes, I think that man did break a beer bottle over the head of the other man. I guess he was angry) took us to the end of the song, when the band dedicated the video to a young man who died of cancer this year at age 18. There was a grainy home-video quality clip of the band singing with the young man, his ecstatic face howling “radioactive” into the mic.

“Who’s that guy? What’s this part about?” asked Arlo.

OK, turn off the Internet. You guys are just going to listen to Raffi over and over and over. Until when? Until I say you can stop.

But no, I can’t do that now, I have to explain sickness, cancer, death, youth, the Make a Wish foundation. Take a breath and look at their sweet, dirty faces and be so glad they have to have it explained to them, that they don’t know about any of that dark matter first hand. With the out-breath, send some light to the world and then say yes guys, really, up to bed while their favourite songs are still spinning around in their heads.

Fifty-Eight — Repetition is Comedy. Or Not.

I went looking for something in my old blog last night and found a post I wrote three years ago on the same topic as a post I wrote just a few weeks ago. This unsettled me. It felt like I might be a boring old show pony with only three tricks. Neigh! It can’t be avoided, though, the concept of repetition, since I like to worry things until there is only the smallest chunk of bone left. I’ve apologized to my biographers several times in the past few years about how repetitive my journals are.

In other news, this evening 5 asked us to play some screamy music so I put on a System of a Down song he used to run around the house to last year. I followed it up with Ministry. I also took some video, and this is that. As you can see, Arlo got a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from the library today. Also he’s not such a huge fan of screamy music.

I Will Try To Keep This Amusing

My head is clogged and my mood is foul. We had a long day inside with conflicting emotions and agendas. At one point I actually told my kids off for being mean to me when I was sick. Mature! They just stared at me.

But listen, long ago this morning I had hope for this day. The children were watching their morning tv program. I was listening to my music player because this year I got wise to the fact that I don’t need to be subjected to the theme song and then very terrible dialogue of whatever show they are watching. Just in time, as recently it has been rather a lot of Power Rangers and that, friends, is some bullshit.

I was writing in my morning journal so I didn’t need anything distracting like morning radio. I put my music player on shuffle and I heard a few songs that were pretty good. Suddenly I got the one-two shot of snap-out-of-it: OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass and then Mr. Blue Sky by the Electric Light Orchestra.

This Too Shall Pass has been one of my parenting anthems since the day I took a fretful and refusing to nap baby or toddler Fresco for a walk in the orange stroller, the only place he would fall asleep during the day. I listened to the whole OK Go album over and over again, but stuck on that song because it made me weep because yes. When the morning comes. There is sadness, and there is hope through the sadness, and you can’t keep letting it get you down.

And then, there is Mr. Blue Sky, this wild, 1970s extravaganza of sound and jauntiness and whenever I hear it I just want to stand up and snap my fingers. Yes, even when I have four millions pounds of snot in my head preventing me from breathing. Especially this morning, because the sun was unexpectedly shining and the world was bright.

The video adds an especial level of wonder, because of the clothing and that hair. My god! Imagine cleaning the bathtub drains of ELO!

Now it is the end of my day and I have moved through many moods, including shouty metal and accusatory hip hop,to arrive at a sort of Morrissey/Radiohead place, where everything is repetitive and gun-metal coloured. Hey. There is always tomorrow.