Photo: This month’s book club choice is Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I am the facilitator of book club, so I try to be one month ahead of everyone else so I can stay on track. This month, however, I’m going to be showing up to our meeting having only just finished. This is my first Zadie Smith novel and I’m enjoying it as the very fine wine that it is. I’m so enamored by Zadie’s style, engrossed in the tale, loving the narrating character (loving her so much I want to take her by the shoulders and shake her. Shake some sense into her). This is literary fiction at its peak. I’m inspired and awed. Someday, someday, I hope I can master the craft in such a way as this.
The day that Keith Flint died, Firestarter was added to my regular playlist. It’s one of those songs that I love and have always loved and simply hadn’t heard in years. During school drop-off the next morning, I put the song on for the boys and enjoyed glancing back into the rearview mirror to see their reaction. They were, as you can imagine, utterly mystified. I’ve got a lot of stuff on my playlist. All sorts of different stuff. But Prodigy is Prodigy. There is nothing else that sounds like that.
It took 3 or 4 tries (over the course of the last two weeks) for the boys to figure out that this love the song. I don’t know what the process was like for them. I just know that those perplexed looks quickly turned into appropriate headbanging before long. Mission accomplished.
And for you suburban moms out there: Firestarter is the perfect song to listen to just before a: parent-teacher conference, PTSO meeting, annoying drinks with people you don’t like, etc etc. Basically, if you are in the mood to start some shit, rev up your minivan and press play.
Anyway, music has become front and center in our lives again. Since joining choir at church, Ursa Major has been taking singing way more seriously. He has been listening more closely to the lyrics and paying more attention to the music we’re listening to. I know this because one evening last week I happened to be folding laundry and listening to music when one of my favorite Whitney Houston songs came on. Step by Step, an over-looked number from the soundtrack for The Preacher’s Wife is one of those songs I listen to when I am feeling heartbroken or need a boost. It’s usually a song the boys tune out if we’re in the car together and I don’t change the track. Well here comes Ursa Major, singing right along with Whitney, word for word.
“Say what? What you know ’bout some Whitney Houston?” I said to my son.
Major was dancing and enjoying myself. “I know ’bout this song,” he answered, imitating my tone.
Thus began a one-hour dance/singing party and an introduction to a bunch of artists he hadn’t really heard before (Whitney, Mariah, Brandy, Toni) and the addition of a whole bunch of beloved music onto the playlist. Major was riveted. I reveled in nostalgic glee over songs I loved and lost, now returned to be belted out anew. Major asked me what a boy band is this morning and I am all too excited to introduce him to some old Backstreet Boys and N’Sync numbers. Fairly sure my husband is in for an annoying weekend. 🙂
Motherhood is full of really pleasant surprises. I don’t think I have appreciated how much I love music and how meaningful my personal soundtrack has been to me until I started sharing it with my boys. Suddenly, there is essential music that they must hear. Music that takes me back to listening to WHUR in the back of my mom’s car as we drove from home to wherever. My Quiet Thoughts are about the joy that comes from the deep remembering and the happy sharing. There are few things better than getting to experience discovery for a second time…when an awesome song hits little ears and the goosebumps are visible or a little face lights up. There is joy in seeing where your tastes and their tastes intersect and diverge. The moments when they are listening to their father’s music and enjoying themselves (and I roll my eyes) are just as exciting as the moments when they grab onto a completely different sound and surprise us all.
I think my Quiet Thoughts are on the idea that we are all thoughtfully made and fully human, and our humanity manifests in breathtaking ways. By nurturing others, we illuminate a little part of ourselves. I don’t think you have to be a mother to enjoy this experience. I think that if you choose to open yourself, be vulnerable, and share, you can have the experience under any circumstance and in any relationship. Take care in the how and the who you choose, of course. But do choose, Dear Reader. Then be transformed.
It’s a windy night. The trees are still plenty naked, so the air moves with a sharpness that rattles the windows and whistles into this old house. Snow still covers portions of the ground here, though it loses a bit of itself every day. Tomorrow, we start the seeds for this year’s garden. Inside, of course. Can you think of anything more hopeful than those precious green shoots of new plants for the garden?
It’s the first Friday in Spring. Congratulations, you made it! It’s probably not warm where you are, but there is promise of warmth. Inevitability of warmth! That really matters! It should make you feel good, you know? Nevertheless, the first wish I have for you is for warmth, because it’s still needed. I wish you warmth so the world will start to green around you. I wish you warmth so your garden can start to grow. I wish you warmth so you can get outside and get fresh air. I wish you warmth so you can open your windows and let some of that fresh air inside. Warmth unlocks a lot of wonderful things. Let it come and come in earnest! I wish you something creative this weekend: a little knitting, a little cooking, a little painting… anything. Something that brings something tangible and beautiful into the world. Then I wish you a sincere compliment on it because compliments are awesome. I wish you a phone call from a person who loves you. May it be filled with laughter and care and good advice. I wish you time with a good book. Maybe even a trip to a local independent bookstore or your favorite library! I wish you a squeeze of a hand, a kiss on your cheek, and a whispered “I love you” in your ear. These little intimacies can do so much to heal the soul.
There is a lot going on in the world. It’s mean. It’s full of mean things and people. If you have been carrying a heavy heart or an anxious gut or a cloudy head, I want to remind you that you are profoundly loved. If the your light is dim right now, I want to remind you to look up and be inspired by so many other beautiful lights shining all around you. Let those other lights do the work of holding back the darkness so that you can feel better. If you are using all of your energy chasing all of the fires burning in the world, I remind you to stop and focus. Fight the one fire you care most about. Trust that others are fighting the others. There are too many fires and not enough water. Use yours wisely.
You are loved. What you do in this world matters. If you know nothing at all, please simply know this.
Until Monday, Dear Reader, take care.