Thursday, October 27, 2011

You shall not pass!

W. C. Fields once said, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it." In other words, I didn't win the writing contest. Actually, scratch that. In the spirit of full disclosure, I epically failed it. Of the four judges who reviewed my submission, the kindest comment was, "The best part of your entry was your cover letter." And while I wanted to reply, "Be fruitful and multiple" (but not in those words), I went to a local cemetery instead and cried. Because, let's be honest, where else can you weep and no one thinks it's odd?

Now… at this part of the story, you need to know two things before we can continue. One, this cemetery is very old. And two, the part of it that I love the most is quite secluded. It has sprawling family plots with magnificent Oak trees and the occasional bench. The good news is that it’s the perfect place for a pity party. The bad news is that this perfect place is full of “loops.” In other words, the roads to these family plots all have semi-private circular driveways. Which normally isn’t a problem, unless you’re sitting in your car… crying… and a funeral party arrives… and blocks you in.

Yes. You read that correctly. I was sitting… in my car… crying… when a hearse and several limousines showed up and blocked the driveway’s entrance and exit. You see, when I pulled in, I was so lost in thought that I hadn’t noticed the SIX FOOT HOLE IN THE GROUND that was immediately to the left of my car door. In fact, I hadn’t noticed much of anything until it was too late. At which point, approximately twenty-five people were standing there staring at me and wondering who the hell I was. And, while I don’t know the protocol for said event, I’m pretty sure what was going through my head wasn’t it:
  • Silently join them and let them wonder if I was the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
  • Stay in my car and let them wonder if I was the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
  • Get out of my car and explain that I wasn’t the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
You know... they say that “People's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Therefore, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy….” unless you’re a funeral crasher. That must be, by far, the worst of the three options.

At any rate, as I sat there, refusing to dignify my presence to strangers, simultaneously facing my mortality and my failure, I remembered Tolkien again. Only this time, I didn’t hear Gandalf. I heard Gimli, “Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?” I guess another writing contest, but who knows. When I told my mother that night, she only said, “Everyone fails, but not everyone keeps going. Make a choice.” I think I’m still deciding. Til then, talk to you later.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Headbangers Ball... The Home Edition

Sorry I haven't written in a while. Over the last few weeks, I've had major Bronchitis and a mild concussion... and, believe it or not - the two are actually related. However, first things first. You may be wondering about this blog post's title and why a middle-aged woman knows anything about a Metal show on MTV. Well, to answer your question, it's because Headbangers Ball aired for the first time in 1987, when I was a sophomore in high school, and yes - I used to watch it. That said, as old as that makes me feel... and it does, it's not even the reason I believe I'm so utterly ancient right now. That honor goes to the fact that the infant on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album turned twenty this year. TWENTY.

In other words, I could almost legally buy my cassette tape a beer.

Yes, you read that correctly. I didn't download it from iTunes or even own it as a CD. I bought it in 1991 ON CASSETTE. At any rate, to mark this musical milestone, I pulled out my tape, dusted it off, then cranked it. And as I drove around town listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit, I remembered the first time I'd ever heard Nirvana and wondered how many hours of my life were spent copying their songs (and others) onto mixed tapes for friends (instead of studying for exams). Who knows? Maybe Frank Zappa was right. Maybe "You go to college to party. You go to a library for an education." But I digress. The point is that I miss making and getting mixed tapes.

Now... I realize that some of you have no idea what a cassette tape is let alone a mixed tape, but I honestly don't know how to explain the whole concept without loosely quoting John Cusack, "Making a good compilation tape is a subtle art with lots of do's and don'ts. Think of it like breaking up - it's hard to do and takes way longer than it might seem." Anyway, with Christmas right around the corner, I began wondering if I should get old-school this year and make a mixed tape for DB. And, if so, what should I put on it? That's when I had a blinding flash of brilliance. DB loves JJ Grey and Mofro. I could make a mixed tape of their songs and get tickets for us to see them in concert.

The good news is that it's a GREAT idea. The bad news is that the blinding flash I saw was actually ME giving MYSELF a concussion. Yup. I rounded a corner in our beautiful new home... sneezed... and smacked my forehead... on a wall. It's true, and as I lay on the floor, trying to focus, I didn't just hear ringing in my ears. I also heard JJ Grey's funk-filled backwoods wisdom in my head. Too bad the only thing that came to mind was his song, Dirt Floor Cracker.

Once DB got me off the floor and onto the couch, he turned on Palladia - a music television station for adults. Ironically enough, they were airing Back and Forth - a documentary about the Foo Fighters, which actually isn't that ironic if you know that the front man for the Foo used to be Nirvana's drummer. And while I knew that, I had no idea that their seventh (and best) album, Wasting Light, was recorded in Dave Grohl's garage using analog tape instead of digital technology.

That's right. I'm not the only one who misses mixed tapes. Dave Grohl does, too... and he's cool. As for the JJ Grey and Mofro concert, thank God they play blues instead of rock because clearly, at forty, the only headbanging I'm meant to do is at home against a load-bearing wall.