Parenting

Something Soon

Car Seat Headrest – Something Soon

I know there’s a later version of this song and a different video but this was the one I saw/heard first and it says awkward and vulnerable teenager so much more effectively than the “official” version.

It has been a tiring weekend, it’s getting late, and I still have one clock I need to fix before going to bed. Note to self, get a lottery ticket when you stop for gas in the morning.

You Don’t Want This

Pip Blom – You Don’t Want This

I met up with a friend after work today. I was nervous about going out to eat but we went to an Indian restaurant that was completely empty when we arrived (it was on the early side of dinner) so it seemed ok.

We hadn’t seen each other since the summer and there was a lot to catch up on. For many years her life was really difficult and I used to feel like I really had no business griping about any of my challenges to her but these days we are more evenly matched. It’s not like we’re trying to outdo each other for title of pity queen or anything but it is nice to be able to commiserate with someone who will just agree that yeah, that sucks! It’s nice to not feel like you should censor yourself.

And with that I’m going to get under the covers and hope to sleep in.

How Can I Make It Ok?

Wolf Alice – How Can I Make It Ok?

I was listening to the newest Wolf Alice album on my way to work and got stuck on this song. This video wasn’t what I was expecting but I think it expands on the song’s message from a deeply personal one to something universal.

While I was driving I was thinking about my kids and how the past two years have been so difficult for everyone, but of course my focus is on trying to make their lives better. How can I make it ok? Honestly the world sucks so bad and what is there for them to look forward to in a country teetering on the brink of fascism. Climate change, racism, crippling debt, homophobia; how do I sell them the world? I’m also keenly aware of how their lives right now, in the present, are so far removed from what any of us imagined their high school and college years would be like. It’s a pointless exercise to consider what could have been had things not been upended by a pandemic but I think most parents do have hopes for what their kids will do as they grow up and it’s hard to watch the things you envisioned for them disintegrate. I just want them to be happy. Nothing else is as important as that to me. It’s why I drove 300 miles on Monday to take my daughter to her show.

In looking for a video* I watched a number of live performances and thought about how great their show was that I went to a couple of years ago. They’re touring now and it seemed like there were still tickets for the Boston show next week. I had them in my cart but then remembered a potential conflict I need to check into, plus I am still catching up on sleep from the trip up to Boston earlier this week (which already feels longer than just three days ago!). This is going to be one of those ones I leave up to the fates. If there are still tickets next week, who knows, I may decide it’s worth it.

*I was looking for a video with the lyrics because they’re kind of critical to what I’m talking about here, but the only ones I found were either crappy quality or actually got the lyrics wrong. You had one job!

Begin Again

Adam Melchor – Begin Again

Even though yesterday was Halloween and you would think that would tip me off that today is November 1st, it still snuck up on me. This morning when I was driving to work, yes driving to the office again, my year and a half of working remotely is unfortunately over, I was kind of zoning out looking at the landscape, the trees were not vibrant colors anymore, and I thought well, it is November. Then I thought, fuck! It’s November!?!

Back in the summer my daughter bought concert tickets for a couple of shows. She had a friend who wanted to go with her and they figured plenty of time to figure it out later but in the months in between, her friend got busy and decided they weren’t able to go to the show tonight in Boston. I don’t mind going to Boston for a show, it’s not that far, but of course I had to first drive an hour up to work and then drive an hour from work to my daughter’s college and then drive an hour from her college to Boston and then repeat the reverse Boston to her college to home.

So I did not have time to think about some kind of appropriate post for kicking off yet another NaBloPoMo. To be honest I don’t think I gave much thought at all to whether or not I was even going to do it. I feel like at this point, simply because I’ve got a streak going, it feels wrong to not even try. Does anybody else still do it? I have no idea.

I’m grabbing the video to the song that was the encore tonight and doing the speech to text while I’m driving home. I’ll clean up the post when I get home and call it good enough.

Can’t Hardly Wait

The Replacements – Can’t Hardly Wait

Now that my son is into having physical copies of the music he likes, he gave us a list of things he wants for Christmas that is all records or CDs. I managed to get out by myself for a bit today and went down to our local record store to pick up one or two things.

I was hoping to find something used that wasn’t too much money to go along with the new (reissued) album I grabbed for him. Something he wouldn’t know to ask for but that he might like anyway. Then I spied the small section of cassettes and since he has that Walkman, I thought maybe I could find a stocking stuffer. Much to my surprise, there was a cassette of R.E.M.’s Document and The Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me. All cassettes were $2 a piece or 6 for $10. I didn’t see six that I wanted so I just went with those two.

I brought them up to the counter and told the owner that I was getting the cassettes for my son’s stocking and he said, “oh, I’ll just throw those in for free. He’s a great kid, smart. He’s been down here checking out all the things he’s interested in, took pictures so he could make a list, it’s great to see kids still getting into it.” I’ve got to say, that really made my day. Parenting these days is a real challenge and I’ll take any signs that the kids are alright.

No Time for Love Like Now

Michael Stipe & Big Red Machine – No Time for Love Like Now

When this song came out back in the spring, there were a couple of different performances, varying only slightly by where did Michael seem to be? What was he wearing? Glasses or no glasses? There were interviews where he said, yes, it fits this moment really well but I actually wrote it back in the fall before we had an inkling of the pandemic to come.

The couple of songs he had released prior to this one didn’t really do it for me. I listened/watched the videos, but they weren’t going to be songs I put in my regular rotation. No Time for Love Like Now was different. I’m sure being cooped up in our houses, working from home, doing school from home, afraid to go anywhere, definitely contributed to my feelings about it. Here was Michael, just Michael, singing directly to me. Like a private little concert from his home to my living room. In the middle of a pandemic, in lockdown, in the midst of political turmoil, he was reaching out with a song that felt like a steady hand. Calm reassurance. And yet, at the same time, the power to completely destroy me. We were so fragile. I was trying so hard to hold it together, be strong for the kids and try not to let the worry show (I don’t think I succeeded well at that at all, btw). When his voice has that particular Michaelness about it, which not all the songs do, he still has the ability to just cut right to the very center of my being, exposing all those things I normally keep buried deep beneath the surface.

So now it’s November. We’re heading into winter, which you all know is my hardest season in the best of circumstances. Though we know more about the virus now, it’s still just as random who suffers greatly from it, who dies, and who doesn’t even know they have it. My worry about the pandemic is less panicky but my concerns about our ability to get through this winter, in round two (or whatever number it is) of COVID-19, are weighing on me. I don’t want a repeat of those first couple months from the spring. Everyone is weary after nearly 9 months of just holding on and nerves are frayed, tempers are short. I think this song will be even more important to me for the next few months than it was when it first came out.

Everything in Its Right Place

Radiohead – Everything in Its Right Place

Sometime during this never-ending quarantine life we find ourselves in, my son got really into music. He had been expanding what he listened to over the past year, as one tends to do when you enter high school, but something about not being able to go out and do other things, or maybe it was burnout from too much screen time, kicked it up a level. One day he told me that he’d begun listening to whole albums, start to finish. Previously he’d just listen to songs in a playlist on shuffle.

While he certainly knew that I would go to see bands fairly often, I didn’t play a lot of music around the house. I would usually listen to my music during my commute because once I got home there was dinner to fix and eat, things to oversee that the kids were doing, picking kids up from this or that activity, etc. Generally not the kind of atmosphere that I like for listening to music. I do like having music on in the background while I’m doing things, but what I don’t like, really don’t like, is having my listening be interrupted. I don’t want to be asked a lot of questions, I don’t want to miss a chunk of a song because I have to use some noisy appliance, I want to listen (and maybe dance/sing along).

So I think it came as a real surprise to my son one day when he proudly announced, “I found an album that’s an hour and a half long and it’s only got four songs!” and I replied, “oh, is it by Godspeed You! Black Emperor?” His mouth fell open and he got a look on his face of shock and confusion. It was, in fact, their album, “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven” and he sure did not expect that his mother would know anything about it. It was a door creaking open in his mind to a view of his mother that he hadn’t really seen before.

We got him a Walkman for his birthday in the summer, something he’d been asking about since he came across a box of my cassettes when helping his sister look for some things she wanted to take back to college with her. The Guardians of the Galaxy movie had put the idea in his head, though he had expressed an interest in making tapes all the way back when I first got a used car that had a tape deck. I took him down to our local record store and he bought his first album. He found my stereo setup to be too uncomfortable so he took the money he received from his grandparents for his birthday and got a turntable he could have in his bedroom. Now he has about eight or nine records, plus I dug out my old CD Walkman and let him have that as well so he can listen to music in any format.

We get into the chats about bands he is excited about. I suggest some others he might like to check out, he gets jealous when I say, yeah, I saw them last year. He now understands that I am someone who will get this newly found importance of music in his life. The other day he asked me about Radiohead. He’d heard of them, knew they had this reputation for being a hugely influential band, but wasn’t sure where to start. Ah, my son, I have just the thing for you. Remember when I did that make-a-CD-of-this-band-like-your-house-was-on-fire challenge from a friend? I did one for Radiohead and I thought this would be the perfect introduction for him, rather than just listening to one of the Spotify playlists with all the big hits. It took me a few days to find it and today he got to listen to it. Here’s the playlist:

Radiohead – House on Fire CD

Stop Whispering – Pablo Honey
High and Dry – The Bends
Street Spirit (Fade Out) – The Bends
Airbag – OK Computer
Paranoid Android – OK Computer
Subterranean Homesick Alien – OK Computer
Let Down – OK Computer
Everything in Its Right Place – Kid A
The National Anthem – Kid A
Pyramid Song – Amnesiac
Knives Out – Amnesiac
2+2=5 – Hail to the Thief
Where I End and You – Begin Hail to the Thief
Bodysnatchers In Rainbows
Reckoner – In Rainbows
Morning Mr. Magpie – King of Limbs
Codex – King of Limbs

(this was made before Moon Shaped Pool came out)

He’s definitely going to do a deep dive into their discography now, like binge-watching a show on Netflix. Based on the CD I made, he thinks Kid A is going to be his favorite but I said, you can’t start with Kid A! You have to have some base knowledge of the band first. I allowed as how he could circle back to Pablo Honey some other time, so he started in on The Bends. He’s really looking forward to Kid A though, and I have to say, this is a great first track to get it started.

What the World is Waiting For

Stone Roses – What the World is Waiting For

Our internet is still out so this morning, after briefly checking the news, I was trying to help my son get in touch with his teachers to explain why he wouldn’t be able to turn in assignments or even take a scheduled test. I figured I could delve into the minutiae of the House and Senate races later. I had a meeting at 10:30 so I moved the laptop into my office corner to get ready and that’s when I realized … my mobile data wasn’t working.

It’s one thing to be without the wifi for a day and a half but when I was actually cut off from the internet completely, I started getting pretty anxious. I could still send and receive texts but nothing else. Now is not the time to be unable to immediately bring up whatever news story I want from whatever source. And I couldn’t even do any work to take my mind off things because I had no mobile data and therefore, no hotspot!

So I got outside and went for a walk. It was warm compared to yesterday and the sun was out, everyone’s Biden signs were still out. It felt like we still have a few days to get through before the final tally and no one wanted to jeopardize our chances by removing their sign. As I’m writing this we seem to be just 6 votes shy of winning enough electoral college seats to clinch it. I am keeping my fingers crossed and going to bed. This waiting is a killer.

The National Anthem

Radiohead – The National Anthem

Since I want to believe that the absentee ballots won’t all be counted tonight, and that means we will not have answers for a while, I am not investing my emotional strength in watching the returns. I’ve glanced at social media a bit for our local info but I don’t think it will help me to sleep if I just sit here doomscrolling all night. I did my shift outside the polling place this morning, holding up the signs for the Democratic candidates and I went to the grocery store, liquor store, and pharmacy, made ratatouille in the Crock-Pot, and then pasta sauce later in the afternoon, all an attempt to keep myself occupied and not fixating on the results.

I looked at my son after dinner and I could see the dread washing over him. With our internet down he can’t even get online to play games with his friends to distract himself. Luckily we got some blank CDs in the mail today so I told him we could burn some of his recently purchased albums for the car.

It is getting harder and harder to maintain the older formats, new cars don’t come with CD players anymore and even new laptops tend not to have a disc drive. Our oldest laptop was the only computer in the house that I could wrangle into performing this task. Were it not for the goal of keeping his mind off election results, I might have gotten frustrated with all the failed attempts and waiting for it to finish, but we killed a good two hours, maybe more. We also managed to rig up my phone to the printer with an old cable and a little USB-C to USB converter so we could print out album covers. I’m so glad I never fell prey to the internet of things because what happens when all of your appliances and your door locks or whatever, are dependent on the internet working? It sucks to be without internet, don’t get me wrong. Maybe having it out isn’t all bad, though. I successfully steered my son back from the edge with this little project. We’re holding on, hope you are too.