Archive for music

The Artist

Dan,

I grew up in a house filled with music and voices discussing said music. I grew up in a house filled with laughter and doors opening and closing as my family wandered in and out of our vast backyard. I grew up in a house that smelled like coffee percolating and vegetables being sautéed. And I grew up in a house where the walls were never bare, a house filled with art that remains vibrant in my memory

I can play piano (not particularly well anymore but still), I can write a story or a poem with some ease and I can even break into song on occasion. But I have zero skill when it comes to the visual arts. This fact bothers me because I love art; I have a decent collection of original pieces for a 28 year old even.

I would love to draw the images I see in my head, capturing the essence of how a view inspires me or leaves me with my jaw dropped. Unfortunately I can only admire the work of others or attempt to capture the image with my words. Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to poetry, it allows me to paint a picture of a moment using the most beautiful words my vocabulary has to offer. This doesn’t quench the thirst I have some days to sketch a face though.

I’m lucky to have artists in my life, people who make my photos into oil paintings or take instruction so I’m able to have a unique image on wall. People who don’t see sketching as complicated and messy, but as second nature. I cling to those people in the hopes to have the pictures in my head eventually put down on paper so I can share them with the world.

Yes I could probably take classes to develop a basic skill, but I would never capture things as beautifully as I see them in my head. I would end up disappointed. So instead I will leave the visual arts to the skilled people who can make simple things beautiful and I will do my best to create a masterpiece with my words.

Typing along,

Adair

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Adair,

If there is one thing I know about myself, it’s what I can’t do. The list is long and includes welding, drawing, tailoring, Russian folk dancing, and writing jokes in Braille. I’m not great at making lists either, but it seems odd to mention that now.

I’m accomplished in a very finite definition of the word. I excel at using grandiose words to describe my leviathan-esque inferiority complex, but I have trouble spelling my own name. I’m okay with these facts, because I have done many of the things I want to do in life, and I’m working towards others.

But for all my attempts at humor and striving towards some sort of excellence, I know I do lack certain skills. Some, like cooking, I’ve managed to pick up and become competent. But there are some skills that either age, inclination, time commitment, or another excuse have kept me from pursuing. And one such unobtained skill haunts me above all others.

I wish I could play piano.

I sing like I’m trying, I read music like a toddler, but I still perform a fair amount. But I have never had the patience or the diligence to acquire any real level of piano proficiency. This is much to the chagrin of my various piano teachers over the years. Oh yes, it is not opportunity or specialist training I lack, but the wherewithal to focus in an academic setting to master a skill. Because who likes practicing, am I right?

I am reminded of another hack, Kanye West. The man cannot sing, but he still wanted to make music. I can’t play, but I want to make music. If bands still had “front men” I might be in luck. And if I never compared myself to Kanye again, I might actually get ahead in life. But here I sit, barely able to hit the right keys on a laptop, and counting black keys when I find a key signature in a song.

If I could, I’d play the entire Billy Joel catalog. And if I get my life together, over the next 50 years I could get there. But I had a couple shots at gaining skill at piano playing, and I wasted them. This is par for the course of my life, but something I am actively trying to correct as we speak.

Some day, I may play Root Beer Rag with the greatest of ease, but it is not today or tomorrow or five years from now. The truth is I should be a piano player and I am not. But someday I might be better, I might push harder, I may even play a song I love and sing along as if I had been doing it for years. Today, I hunt and peck around middle C and sing songs nice and loud.

Plunking out his part,

-Dan

Spirits

I spent a lot of nights on the run
And I think oh, like I’m lost and can’t be found
I’m just waiting for my day to come
And I think oh, I don’t wanna let you down
Cause something inside has changed

Dan,

How often have we discussed our futures on this blog? This unknowable future seems to be a favorite topic, whether we are considering how we wish to grow or where we want to be. Optimism for what’s to come is in our hearts, as much as we would scoff at anyone telling us that to our faces.

In the last decade your belief in better things seems to have grown, I’m sure we have your wife to thank largely for that. For me, it comes and goes and I would most likely blame the things I’ve lost for helping falter my hope but often I only have myself to blame. Because of this, the reality of my own eventual death hasn’t fazed me much in the last few years.

I assumed I would have a stroke in my later life and there would be an Irish wake of sorts, I always liked that the Irish mourned with whiskey and music. Since my divorce my assumption has been that I will die alone but would be remembered happily by friends and extended family, your liver will have given out a year prior so there is no obligation to give a moving speech.

None of this is to say that I looked forward to my death; I’ve just been practical as people who think too much often are. I have never been the most important person in someone’s life, and that has been fine with me. I know I’ve played a very key role in many lives and I have been very content in that for almost three decades. I think when you’re alone you accept things as they are; death is just included in that. It’s not morbid, just a natural conclusion.

Things are changing though and I am making optimistic and possibly foolhardy plans, and this terrifies me. I am a person who has been cautious in her choices, I debate pros and cons until seasons change and I don’t often jump into things with reckless abandon. But right now I am planning a future and the scariest thing about this is that I am planning it with another person.

I am no longer envisioning a life on my own, and I am becoming that important person in someone’s life. This is a very weird feeling, and writing all this down means I can’t take back everything that I’m experiencing. I’m acknowledging how true this feeling is, as much as I want to underplay what is happening.

All of this is to say, I don’t want to think about my own demise. I don’t want to discuss how it’s all inevitable; I want to focus on the things that I can still create. And maybe I want to think less on the future and more on what is happening right now.

In the moment,

Adair

Hound Dog

Adair,

We both know the unbridled joy that comes from having a pet. I say “having” because “owning” a family member only happens when they play me at cribbage. The furry friends we take into our homes take root in our hearts and we wonder how we got by without them.

But like all of life’s joys, our time with these companions is fleeting. We share a part of our lives with our dogs, our cats, and our domesticated cave spiders. And a part of our lives is gone when they leave us (not a literal way, my dead dogs were not my Horcrux). But thinking back on our time with these fuzz balls offers a sort of beautiful pain in my chest. And in remembering them they live again.

When I think of Buster, I still cry. Maybe it’s because he only died 18 months ago, or because he was “my dog,” or maybe it’s guilt for feeling like I didn’t give him a very good life. Thinking about the morning we buried him in the backyard is worse than remembering David Tennant’s regeneration scene. We put Buster in one of my old t-shirts, because he would always steal them when I was away and sleep with them until I got back. It was the first grave I ever dug, and as long as Clark stops sending me “House Music” mixtapes I think it will be the last one.

It’s hard to think past the end. The final days of a dog who waited until his whole family was home to mourn him together were heartbreaking. I knew when I saw him this would be his last Christmas. But he waited all the same and that kind of makes me think he was smarter than his dumb beagle face would have you believe.

But there were thirteen Christmases before that one. Thirteen years of running up the Rims, chasing rabbits, rolling in roadkill, and licking the tears off your face. Through high school and college I was a shit owner, and he became much more of my mother’s dog. And they had each other as the kids slowly left town.

That dog loved popcorn and chewing up underwear and shoes. He ate more elastic and leather than kibbles ‘n bits. But the thing I will always remember about Buster has his singing voice. Because that Beagle could belt.

Buster loved to howl. If you’d howl, he’d howl. He would bray for minutes on end. But there was no time he howled louder or with my passion than when we played the piano and sang. If you were playing a song that got much higher than C4, Buster would try to harmonize. But like me, he was shit at harmony and ended up just being loud. But he sang along with “Ave Maria” and “Zero to Hero” alike. He rounded out our family of singers.

Maybe in a few years I’ll be able to think about Buster without crying like I just watched a Pixar marathon, but today I’m having a hard time reading my screen to type this. But even when the thought of my dog no longer makes me burst into tears, he’ll still be with me. To quote a musical because this is my post and I can, “you’ll be with me, like a hand print on my heart.”

Remembering my the seventh singer in my family,

-Dan