Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nobody Sings About My Life on the Good Stations

Nobody Sings About My Life on the Good Stations

by Pamela Victor

For some reason I’ve been drawn even more to music lately, and I’ve been listening carefully to lyrics. I noticed that the vast majority of songs are about – yes, you knew this already – love and loss. It’s all so heartfelt and tragic. Extreme. Exciting. Emotional. Full of nerves and sexuality and rapidly beating hearts. Longing looks. Regret. Sadness and heartbreak.

This morning, I was listening to my favorite local station, WRSI, in particularly noticing the lyrics. This is Tracy Grammer’s “Disappearing Man,”

at the end of the year when the cliffs rise up behind you

and the stream runs in circles from the chasm to the core

and the sun comes in tears 'cause the gardener did not find you

will you bloom bright and fierce,

will you know you don't need him anymore

It’s lovely, right? Touching and beautiful.

However, I must note that there is nothing in those lyrics that represents my average day. Although I walk daily along a stream, I am accompanied by a snorting pug, and I’ve never noticed the stream running in circles to the core. (The pug, however, does have occasion to run in circles in a vain attempt to catch his curly tail. I’m thinking that’s not what Tracy is getting at though.)

Here is another great song. I thought since it was called “Old Brown Shoe” The Beatles might be singing about something routine, something more representative of my usual, feeding-fixing-and-futzing daily life.

You know you pick me up from where some try to drag me down

And when I see your smile replace every thoughtless frown

Got me escaping from this zoo, baby, I'm in love with you

I'm so glad you came here, it won't be the same now when I'm with you

For some reason, I’m thinking that they’re not talking about a shoe. Needless to say, that song also doesn’t speak to my typical day. Although there is picking up in my day, it’s usually me picking up socks from behind the couch. So far, nobody has come in to pick me up. Now I’m left wondering: Why don’t they sing about my life on the good stations?

Because life is mundane. And mundane is boring. Nobody wants to listen to a boring song. I don’t care how great the beat is, but these lyrics just wouldn’t sell:

Woke up to dirty dishes in the sink,

I think I’ll have cereal for breakfast.

Then I’ll drive to Montague to pick up my daughter.

Shit, the cat puked on the carpet.

Gotta clean that up.

Nobody else is going to clean that up.

Better do it before it hardens.

Somebody is calling my name.

The dog just ate a fly.

Did I remember to rinse the conditioner out of my hair?

Booooring. Most of the time, life is tedious, dull, and repetitive. (Maybe it’s just me? I’m betting not though.) Sure, there are those high moments when something exciting happens, or low moments when something bad occurs. Certainly, I’m just boo-hooing in a bed of flowers. I am blessed with great joy, and I make an effort to feel gratitude for all that is good in my life. Please don’t think I’m taking that for granted. I’m a lucky dog. Still, I look around and see everybody stuck in the tracks of the day-to-day. Most of the time, we’re just chugging along on automatic. Same shit, different day.

Is mundane a bad thing? I have a dear friend who is going through a hard time in life right now. She says she would kill for “boring” right now. I get that, and perhaps the monotonous routine of my life is a gift. But when I listen to music, I can’t help wondering what it would be like to enjoy days of which great lyrics are made.

There comes a point in one’s life, smack in the middle when you’re knee-deep in caretaking, careering and catering, when entire months and years go by in a blink. There is nothing much to write home about, except that you are successfully raising great kids and doing a good job at work, neither of which anybody wants to hear more than a sentence about. The majority of the time, my life tends to be a cocktail party conversation snoozer.

“What do you do?”

“I’m a stay-at-home-mom.”

“Wow. That’s great. What a hard job.”


(Significant pause.)

“Have you tried the bean dip? It’s great. I’m going to go get more.”

As much as I would never in a wadzillion years be a teenager again, there is something enticing about the passion of those days. It was so wonderawful. I loved my friends and hated my friends. Everything was “the worst ever!” or “the best ever!” We were badly behaved, we questioned authority, we thought deep thoughts, we mistook it all for real life.

You pull my pin and you trip my wire

You come in and set my heart on fire

You knock me out, you rock me off my axis

You and me are gasoline and matches

(From Buddy and Julie Miller’s “Gasoline and Matches”)

By the same token, although I am happy to be two decades off the dating circuit, still sometimes I contemplate what it would be like to feel the first-date butterflies. Or, even better, the third-date butterflies, when you know there is a connection, and your head is all full of “Is this the one?!” And there is nothing the other person can do that is wrong. It’s all laughter and eyeball-to-eyeball and kissing with your whole body. Just weeks after meeting the man who was to be my husband, I remember taking an absurd amount of delight in running my finger over the books on his shelves. Each book represented a different façade to his personality, and I took deep joy in them all. Even “Discrete Mathematics and Applied Modern Algebra” made me smile and swoon. (I have a serious weakness for geeks.) These are the waters that fill the well where lyrics pour forth.

The Rascal Flatts sing about it in Long Slow Beautiful Dance,”

A deep breath and baby steps

That's how the whole thing starts

It's a long slow beautiful dance

To the beat of a heart

I am starting to understand why some people create drama where ever they go. That style has never worked for me. The bottom line truth is that I find predictability to be comforting, but now at least I get it. I understand why people my age get their noses pierced or buy big ticket items or have affairs or keep having babies. That all keeps the waters swirling at least. For still waters folks like me, instead of representing the present, maybe music is supposed to be for remembering and imagining? Maybe.

Me? I shall endeavor to relish the mundane. Although drama gets the creative juices flowing, in the end it is just too taxing. Feh. Who has the energy? Let’s just eat a slice of cake, watch a movie, and go to bed early. Sure, it’s not an evening rife with lyrical possibilities, but at least it’s cozy, pleasant, and provides a good night’s sleep. Somebody should write a song about that.

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