I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

Sorry about the title.  The song lyrics don’t apply; I just picked it because of the title (and because the devil made me do it).

It’s the end of the year (or the world as we know it . . . sorry).  I don’t have any profound musings, so you can move along if you’re looking for those.  All I have are my now-customary non-resolutions:  as in, I’m not going to have any New Years’ resolutions.  I’m not going to start anything I can’t finish.


 

An anecdote:  the first book I didn’t finish was Little Women.  I can’t remember how old I was, but I was pretty young– so young that I didn’t realize it wasn’t okay not to finish a book.  I remember getting to some part about a glove (I think?) and being utterly fed up with every single person in the book.  I somehow knew that Beth died (probably the back of the book mentioned it), and I flipped ahead to that, hoping for something really good and gory (being a bloodthirsty monster, like so many children).  I haven’t picked up that book since, but I remember it being terrifically dull and involving the valley of the shadow of death.

I finally asked my mother if I could stop reading the book; I think she was probably surprised that I didn’t realize it was an option.  It’s only been in the past year or so, though, that I’ve really started to stick to the rule of fifty and just drop a book if I don’t like it.


 

Quitting everything doesn’t improve your quality of life.  However, quitting things that make your life really miserable does.


 

I could make some resolutions about Life Improvement at the New Year, but I don’t have any concrete ideas.  I’ve done some small things all during the past year, none of which I’d planned on as of January 1st:  they were all unexpected.

January 1st is a moment, but there’s also a year full of moments.  You can decide what to do, to be, or to change in any one of them.

Have a happy new year, or a succession of happy new moments.

IMG_4675

Alice is ready to ring in the New Year but more than a little ticked that this is ginger ale.

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If You Have Any Questions or Concerns

Several medical practices now do their pre-recorded appointment confirmations in the evening, meaning my phone blasted at me at 7:32 PM to let me know I have an appointment Tuesday.  The voice cheerfully added that I could call during normal office hours if I had any “questions or concerns.”  You know, I have a ton of those at the moment– but I’m not sure the doctor can really help.


I don’t like fall and winter; they’re bleak, cold, and confining (physically and mentally, at least for me).  The weather is taking a turn for the worse (or what I call worse, I suppose) at just the time that I’m trying to turn a corner for the better– but, seriously, “turning a corner for the better” turns out to be more complex than an Escher drawing.

How do you actually get to better, what does better look like, and how long is this going to take?

Those are the questions to STOP asking, I think.


As I was getting out of the car today, an old New Year’s Eve concert was playing on the radio.  When I parked, it was only a few minutes to midnight, so I just sat it out to hear the New Year ’76 come in.  The band played right up to midnight, with Springsteen (of course) counting down the seconds.  I expected that to be the end of the concert: it was the New Year, so that’s the natural end, right?  Wrong.  Applause, yells, and they go into the the next song.  It’s a new year, but the concert goes on.

And that’s pretty much what you have to do when anything big or small occurs:  acknowledge it, celebrate it if it’s called for, play through it, and keep going.  You can’t just stop.

Yet another Vacation Failure (undated):  a sand Sisyphus.  WHAT?

Yet another Vacation Failure (undated): a sand Sisyphus. WHAT?


I’ve been getting the “celebrate your successes” talk a lot lately, which is a prepackaged deal with the “don’t compare” one.  My plan (cough) is usually to head A–>Z and to skip the intervening letters; I somehow always fail to notice that this really doesn’t work.  However, stopping and working through all the letters in between is frustrating in the extreme at times.

Not built in a day.  (Yes, I did just unearth some very, very old pictures.)

Not built in a day. (Yes, I did just unearth some very, very old pictures.)

One of my more frequent tantrums/complaints/refrains involves how aware I am of what the other people living around me are doing:  heading out to work, coming home, going out.  I also wonder what they must think of me:  after all, I look just fine (and nailing medical information to my front door à la Wittenberg is neither smart nor necessary).  I did lie to at least two people I can think of last week (not people who live here), that I can think of immediately, about having a job; it’s easier than trying to tell any sanitized version of the truth, not to mention a whole lot less embarrassing.


Forcing myself to slow down and say that something is “good” while I’m muttering in my head “not really” is migraine-inducing.  I end up writing this out daily, which turns out not to be a bad exercise:  if it’s the only way you can see your own context and therefore get an appropriate perspective, give it a try.

Every time you do compare your “bad” day to someone else’s perceived day (at your apartment, on social media), you’re building up a context that may or may not be real and really is probably largely you filling in the blanks based on a snapshot.  Everyone’s high tide and low tide marks are different (and I’m sure I’m telling you things you know, but I’m also journaling-as-therapy here).


Now is not where I want to be forever, and it’s hard to sit with “now” at the moment– a lot of the time.  There’s also not much point in making now completely insufferable, because it increases the chances that I’ll just draw this process out longer.  Things I’m doing now may seem like pointless distractions or silly things that just pass the time, but they’re filling in cracks that have been building up for years.  Until I fill those cracks, I can’t build anything else up.

If you’re working through something at the moment, or even just sitting inside being driven batty by dreary rain, now might be a good time to take a micro view of any cracks that need attending to.  Keep playing the concert through the winter; don’t hang it up now, don’t call it quits.


So I’m trying (not always successfully; the beginning of this week was rocky) to stop questioning when I’m going to turn this magic corner and to stop being so concerned with how whatever I’m doing measures up.  I can either do what works for me right now, or I can fall flat on my face.  Only one of these is a good option.  I can make this moment miserable by agonizing over what I could/should be doing, or I can sit with what I’ve got and can do and try to at least be at peace (or perhaps I should call it a truce).  Only one of these is a good option.

Happy fall, everyone.

Time:  it's a lava lamp, not a sandglass.

Time: it’s a lava lamp, not an hourglass.

There Ain’t No Storybook Story / There’s No Never-Ending Song

Title:  here (an astonishingly complete site if I ever saw one).  Image, some serious bucket list material.  [reverent silence]

I normally get annoyed by the mysterious “here’s a video . . . guess what I’m thinking!” posts.  It’s almost fall.  I’m thinking about beginnings, but I don’t have anything beginning (surprises?  anyone?).  That pretty much leaves endings, past, present, and future/projected.

So there’s removing the guesswork.  I’m not adding any additional commentary, though.  I know what each of these calls to my mind.  Listen or don’t, and free-associate amongst yourselves.

In other words:  the starting point is self-referential, but I’m not doing this to suggest you read my mind.  Actually, really, seriously, don’t.  Listen to a song or two and see if anything comes to you is more the point.

*I minimized heartbreak-type songs and went for the more general.  No real reason; it just ruled out a lot of things that came to mind first.  Much of Motown, for instance.  At any rate, I was going for more general, less specific.


AV without Commentary

Spotify for the Whole Dang Thing:


Various Mama and Papas Preaching, Just Not The Mamas and The Papas

Roseanne Cash, “Runaway Train”

Gram Parsons, “In My Hour of Darkness”

J. Geils Band, “Where Did Our Love Go?”

Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee”

“Buffalo River Home,” John Hiatt

Kim Richey, “I Know”

“All the World Has Gone By,” Mimi Fariña

“I Wish I Was the Moon,” Neko Case

“A Rainy Night in Soho,” The Pouges (eh, tough call)

“I Wish It Would Rain,” The Temptations


My Personal Winners’ Circle, No Order Implied or Intended

If music can make you cry . . . well, I warned you.  And I’m REALLY warning you about “Mercy Now.”  

Johnny Cash, “Hurt”

Mary Gauthier, “Mercy Now”

Lucinda Williams, “The Night’s Too Long”

“I’m So Lonesone I Could Cry,” Hurray for the Riff Raff

“Bromptom Oratory,” Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (more tough calls)

“Christmas Lullaby,” Shane McGowan (not the album version/edit, FYI)

“Anna,” Arthur Alexander

“In Dreams,” Roy Orbison

“Wild Horses,” Flying Burrito Brothers

“Red Dirt Girl,” Emmylou Harris


In Conclusion:  Top Three

“I Shall Be Released” (fragment), Flying Burrito Brothers

“Angel from Montgomery,” John Prine

“Paradise,” John Prine


. . . Eventually, I Shut Up.  Incidentally, It’s 2:56 AM

Don’t mistake a list of “sad” songs as a cry for help, sadness, depression, or cynicism.  Darkness (or some loose approximation thereof) is not always the dark night of the soul.  Nor is it moodiness, artistic flair, and I’m running out of stereotypical associations here.

Topical free association can be fun.  And it probably won’t kill you.

From the greatest age of wisdom.

From the greatest age of wisdom.


But I’m Not Going to Leave You There, Anyway

This is one of my favorites for radio tarot.

“Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” Bruce Springsteen

Still cool, after all these years.

Still cool, after all these years.  Also still listening to a lot of the same music– you may have gathered.