Sunday’s Theme Music

Today’s song, “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls (1998) is about a pregnant girl and her situation, slide always means, I gotta go. We consistently used it in the military during my career. It was a throwaway: “Hey, I gotta slide, see you later.”

Don’t know why it came up today, though. Just started up in my head, “Why don’t you slide.” Just one of those free-association memory things, I guess. Or maybe it was a subconscious desire to go somewhere and do something under the kind of sunlit blue skies

Saturday’s Theme Music

Today’s song came out in 1994. IBM had just purchased the company who employed me; that company had purchased the start-up that I’d been working for. So my employment record was like Russian dolls (which originated in Japan, BTW).

We were living in Half Moon Bay, CA, and had a comfortable life. But I had an uncomfortable feeling it was going in the wrong direction. We started making plans about where we could move. Texas? North Carolina? Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Washington…we roamed the net, searching for answers.

I’d just sold a few short stories, so I as feeling good about that. This song came out. Catching me by surprise on the radio, the repeated chorus, “What you waiting for”, seemed expressed directly at me. I listened to see who it was, but the radio didn’t say.

I hunted it down on the net, learning it was Gwen Stefani, “What You Waiting For?” Later, I read that she’d written the song in response to having writer’s block. That resonated with me.

All of that is background. Today, it was about the cats. Our air is at 52. Don’t even smell smoke any more (which reminds me, check on the fires up north and down south). The cats had been released when we hit moderate on the AQI scale, much to their joy. Today, I had the door open to let in Tucker.

He paused to sniff the air before entering, then sat down. Looking up, he intently regarded me. To which I said (yeah, you know), “What you waiting for?”

It’s a good song for today. What are you waiting for? November? Clean skies and better weather? An end to the pandemic? A sign of God.

Get busy.

Where

People were already out of work due to COVID-19. Without revenue coming in, they were going through their savings, cutting corners where they could, selling things as necessary, going to friends or the governments for help.

Then the fires struck. In a day, everything except that which they had when they fled was gone.

Time to rebuild, but where are they going to go? The costs of housing and living is discussed, politics, and the chance for employment. Gazing across the American landscape, from the fires on the west coast to the hurricanes in the southeast and the cost of living and politics everywhere, options seem bleak.

Thursday’s Theme Music

Ah, today began with a groggy morning. Some nocturnal critter was busy under the house. So we were up addressing it by stomping on the floor to chase them out. (What else do you do at four AM in that situation?) Dominos fell, and the cats got busy (yeah, not humping, not busy in that way).

Out of the flotsam left behind were some lyrics from Blur’s “Song 2” (1997).

I got my head done
When I was young
It’s not my problem
It’s not my problem

Woo-hoo.

Yeah.

The Car

Monday, I was settling back into my writing routine. Had my coffee, had surfed the news and fed the cats. The cats were now asleep. I was ready to write.

Well, first, one quick computer game. I’d just begun when the phone rang. Churlishly, I checked the incoming number. If it wasn’t someone looking for me that I wanted to talk to, I was going to let voice mail answer.

It was my wife’s cell phone. She was out making food deliveries to shut-ins, something she does once a month with Food and Friends.

I answered (of course). (No, there wasn’t even hesitation.) “K’s answering service. She’s not home right now. May I take a message.”

“My car died.”

“Died?”

“I’m trying to start it. It won’t make any sound.”

“Are there any lights?”

“Just one that looks like the little teapot.”

“Where are you?”

“Corner of Terra and Siskiyou.”

“I’m on my way.”

I was dressed and just needed shoes and mask before I was on the way. I figured, battery, but was surprised. I’d bought her a new battery two years before. She doesn’t drive it much. Other thoughts: alternator, maybe solenoid switch or starter (didn’t sound like it, though). I had cables, and would try jump-starting it.

But first — “I have to finish the route,” she said, transferring the food to my car. “Then we’ll worry about the car. I just have two stops. Then I’m supposed to pick up money from Judy. She and a friend want to donate to help some Y employees who lost everything. I’m taking up a collection so I can buy gift cards.”

I already know all of this but it’s part of her process to go through her own checklist aloud. She’s not actually talking to me.

We complete all that and get back to the car. Because of where it’s parked, my cables are too short to reach it. I head back home because I have a longer set, and return.

The car won’t take a charge. Although the radio comes on, the engine won’t turn and the starter makes a tinny clattering noise. I know the sound: it’s definitely a flat battery. But it’s a five year battery that’s two years old.

Probably the alternator. I can’t change it myself with the arm I have. I’ve swapped out three generators or alternators in my lifetime (also replaced a starter before). That was decades ago, when I was younger. Besides, that Ford’s engine compartment is too packed. The traversely mounted engine is festooned with wires. There’s not a spot of daylight in it. The cars’ engine compartments of my youth had room to work, less wires, and simpler belts.

I’m also annoyed. I’ve been after my wife to replace her car for about fifteen years. We’ve had it for seventeen years. Since the beginning, my wife has complained about its squeaky brakes. Its auto transmission also does some odd clunking. Then there was the seat fabric; it’d worn through, so I’d put some custom seat covers over them. It looks great, but it all points to a cheap car.

That’s not a surprise. When we bought the car, one of her requirements is that it use regular gas and it costs less than fifteen thousand dollars because she insists on paying cash for cars. The woman does not like having debt.

My annoyance has been growing because I’ve been telling her that parts will start failing. “But I don’t use it much,” she answers. “I just drive it around town. And we keep it in the garage.”

“They’ll start failing from age and fatigue.”

“But it only has a hundred and five thousand miles on it.”

“That has nothing to do with it. It’s still a 2003 car in 2020. Driving it less is actually worse for it in many ways.”

She’s not listening. A tow truck is arranged. The car is taken in for testing. “You need a new alternator,” they tell me.

I nod. “Yeah. I know.”

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Some rhyming lyrics popped into my head this morning.

She’s been a bad girl, she’s like a chemical
Though you try to stop it, she’s like a narcotic
You wanna torture her, you wanna talk to her
All the things you bought for her, could not get a temperature

h/t to Genius.com

The rest of the song swam in, leaving me dancing around the kitchen as coffee was brewed. I thought, that’s a faux peppy song suitable for these days. I think that because so many want to pretend that everything is normal, especially the telly people setting up broadcast schedules, the sports people who want to pursue their championships, and the POTUS. “Everything is fine, look at the stock market.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. west coast is on fire and Hurricane Sally is beating down Alabama and other southern states. Unemployment is at an ugly number, food prices are rising, and food insecurity is spreading. On top of these disasters, we have the cherry on top that is the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s the death number in the U.S.? Two hundred thousand? Whatever, time for some football! Woo-hoo.

So, here is “Pump It Up” by Elvis Costello, another 1978 memory.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I found myself remembering some Bob Dylan lines this morning.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull, I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow

[Refrain]
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

h/t to Genius.com

This song, “My Back Pages”, is by Bob Dylan. I was more familiar with the Byrds’ version which came out in 1967. It struck me as I was moving toward my teens and getting my footing in the music that moved me. I’ve always thought it was about learning and changing, which fit my evolving philosophy.

So I sought the song today, thinking it fit these times, and found this version. Featuring Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Roger McGuinn, Neil Young, George Harrison, people I think are pretty good musicians, it’s the 1992 Bob Dylan tribute concert from 1992.

A Year of Change

That smell of wet, burnt wood from a large fire bristles in my memories.

1971. I was fourteen. Dad had just returned from an overseas military assignment and took me in, a refugee from an unhappy time with Mom and her husband then. We lived in Dayton, Ohio, first in an apartment, and then in Wright-Patterson AFB base housing, in a place called Page Manor. We lived there from the beginning of July to the end of August. Then, an opportunity came up. He retired from the military to start a new chapter to his life.

He and I moved to West Virginia and he began his new job. Housing was limited so Dad bought a mobile home. A space was found for it in a trailer park. School started. A month later, the trailer burned up. Days were spent trying to recover what we could from the trailer. I carried a smoky odor around my clothes for months.

Dad’s co-worker let us crash at their place, but it was crowded, and the co-worker had a young wife and a new baby. Goaded by her disenchantment to be rid of us — nothing personal, and I understand it — we found a new place to live within a month.

Coincidentally, that was the same time that I met the girl who would become the woman who would become my wife. We married in 1975, less than four years after meeting. We’ve been together since then, although we’ve had separations and struggles. Amazing to think that I’ve known her since 1971 and have been married to her since 1975. It seems like a lot longer… Bet it seems even longer to her.

It’s all sharp in the head, strong in the memories, that period, a time of destruction, change, and beginning. I can’t say that I don’t look back; I’m always looking back, then turning around and looking forward, re-establishing where I’m at, and moving on.

Or trying to.

Monday’s Theme Music

Remembering 2001 and thinking about the current crises — yeah, there’s a lot going on in parallel — brought 2001 Train song, “Drops of Jupiter”, to mind. The words appeal to my maudlin side and lift me.

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And did you miss me while you were
Looking for yourself out there?

h/t to Genius.com

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