Monday, January 22, 2007

Any Given Sunday

Written at karaoke, Sunday, January 21, 2007

There is a couple at the Chalet tonight I've never seen before but already I hope they return. They are mature adults, sitting close to the stage, and they are enhusiastic about karaoke. The woman is graying but not letting her youth slip away without a fight. Streaks of bright red peak out of her bob. The man reads a local paper as she sings, "Oh, What a Night!" in his direction. When she is done, he smiles and applauds before it is his turn to sing. The time comes when neither are on the stage but they sit holding hands, politley listening to each singer and encouraging other patrons. In thirty minutes and with no conversation between their table and ours, I know these are decent people.

Anthony, a regular who we both gave nary a second glance until he sang, has arrived with a group of twenty-somethings, giving proof that there is hope for the world that there are courteous and fun-loving youth out there that do not just exist to cause trouble.

It is a nice offset for the group in the corner. Amanda is there with two others, a woman who is sitting prim and proper with a man who is not the ROCK ON guy. Mary is also here at a table with some non-interested blonde. Mary is, well, almost annoying. She is nice enough, but aggressive. Alcohol does not help her demeanor. With the arrival of Amanda and Mary, it is even money on whether or not Stubes will show. And, as if on cue, the door opens and he is here. Amanda starts singing, Mary and Stubes start talking and instantly the bar is no longer quaint, but bursting with loud, obnoixious yelling. Where, oh where, can my Advil be?

I uncover my purse (hidden by my coat) to find the small bottle of headache relief and my eyes manage to spy another couple at the bar. The problem with being observant is the fact you see what you don't want to observe. This couple is a foot apart and their tongues are alreadying hanging out of their mouths like dogs on a hot summer day. As they lean in, they start French kissing, which in their case resembles tigers devouring a fresh kill. Class starts emulating from the building.

Anthony sings, DM and I both hope for, "Like a Stone," and he strays towards country. I never realized that "Two of a Kind," by Garth Brooks could be so hot.

Bryan calls up the next singer, reading the thoughts of most of the bar. "Oh, no! Stubes." He manages, "Honky-Tonk-Ba-Donka-I-Don't-Even-Care-If-This-Is-Close-To-Accurate-Titling-Of-This-Country-Equivalent-Of-Objectifying-Women-Based-On-The-Size-Of-Their-Ass," as always, with zero emotion. At least no women got up to shake their backsides in his direction this time. Thank God for small favors.

Oh my! What in the world is Ms. Prim-and-Proper not wearing? In a moment's notice costume change, she has transformed into a courtesan on leave from the bordello. While eye catching, the skin tight hot pink pants are not the scary bit of her outfit. It is coupled with a black corset. But she's got religion. The cross on the leather strap seems foreign with the outfit. We all get the sight of this ensemble as she joins Amanda on the stage for a rendition of some country song that the high notes feel like a saw scraping our spines.

The evening is moving along and we are surprised by James and Liz arriving. As they wave and get their beers, I make the decision to put away my notebook, ready for conversation rather than observation. Yes, just another night at the Chalet.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Under Your Skin I'm Playing in Your Head"

As a man gathers his belongings to go home for the evening, I see him meticulously put his iPod into his shirt pocket, lace the earbuds cord up through his collar, put on his jacket, dig for his keys in one pocket while getting his gloves out of the other, and then grab his lunch bag. Little gestures and movements, routine at the end of a long work day, and these motions are performed without thought. He is just getting ready to go home. He is most likely thinking of his drive, hoping traffic is not bad, or thinking of his family. The man is probably planning, or reviewing existing plans, for the evening. He doesn't know that in an instant, he reminded me of an entire evening out from eight and a half years ago.

This happens to me often. A small thing will trigger a memory long put away. I do not say forgotten, because it is there, but put away as if it were a file in an office building designed to store data. It wasn't needed at the time and so it is resting neatly in its cabinet, waiting to be referenced again.

It was a summer evening when my parents had the idea to take our guests and me to a piano concert. Our family had never attended a piano concert before, besides the recital I had to perform in when I thought learning to play sounded like a good idea. The pianists in this concert were much better players than I was, no pecking out the melody to "Beauty and the Beast," for them. The pianists were twin Russian women and they played depressing melodies and harmonies together on stage for about an hour. What I remember the most about their performance is the fact that at least one of them rocked back and forth on her bench and I waiting for the moment when she swayed hard enough to fall off the seat onto the hardwood floor. The urge to giggle was suppressed because the woman looked mentally challenged and I would be appalled with myself to laugh at the sight of a disabled person getting hurt, but this woman was not disabled. She just flailed wildly at a piano while her fingers played parts of the most miserable and gloomy pieces of music ever written. Her actions seemed so out of place with the tune that I filed this detail away.

At this point, you may wonder why a man leaving work at the end of a long day reminded me of this experience. Without someone connecting the dots, I would see the two events as unrelated as they truly are. The man getting ready to leave was not Russian. He didn't play piano. The twins didn't wear jackets or gloves; it was June in Minnesota. He picked up keys and they played keys, but that is not the connection.

No, it was how he pulled his earbuds cord through his jacket. As I mentioned, there were others at the concert with my parents and myself. One of those others was Andriy. If you've been paying attention to my life through this blog enough over the past few months, you'll know he's never far from being the center of my thoughts.

During Andriy's stay, he was lent my portable CD player. This came in handy to him during rides to his internship on the city bus, during his hospital stay, and during this particular piano recital. As the women pounded notes out on the keys, he sat slightly slouched to the right, resting his head on his hand. To the causal observer, he was enthralled by the music coming from the small stage.

In the inside pocket of his sports coat, the CD-player spun. He had laced the cord up through his sleeve and listened to rock and roll, much to my envy. Each time he saw the boredom on my face from this concert, he would smile mischievously and his eyes shone.

A filed memory, one not recalled at just the thought of him, but one that surfaced through a simple observation was able to let me remember the feeling of being there beside him. I miss him terribly. I read somewhere recently that missing someone has nothing to do with possession but with wanting to share experiences with that person. I miss him and wish each day that he could be here (or me there) to share more moments together. One month was not enough.

*Post-note: The title of this post caused me quite a bit of trouble. Titles should be created at the end of writing, not the beginning. At least that is my opinion. The title should describe the writing or song without giving away the story. I finally resorted to using a search engine (Google - but of course!) to find lyrics to a song. The song that came to mind was an odd one by an equally odd artist. There is a song called, "Headphones," by Bjork that I heard and it stuck in my head. It scared me. But headphones seemed an apt topic for the title. With a bit of help from Google, I found the lyrics to that song. They didn't fit the post at all. The lyrics, "Under your skin I'm playing in your head," are from a song I've never heard. It is by LeAnn Rimes and the song is called, "Headphones." The lyrics are actually kind of cute and I also enjoyed the line, "I wanna be that song comin' through your headphones." Well, enjoyed to the point that I could with the word, "Wanna," in there. Don't even get me started on, "Comin'."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Back to Haloscan!

Checking in with Haloscan, I see they have finally been able to update the program to be compatible with the new Blogger. So, I'm back to Haloscan comments!

I'm awake way earlier than normal today. Well, I just got out of bed right away today. The caretaker of the building was shoveling the street outside my window. This is pointless considering that the snow has pretty much all but melted and he wasn't really doing anything. The man scares me. He walks around without a shirt sometimes and he has man-boobies. It's scary.

I'm off to put the comments from the few posts that were done with Blogger into the original posts! Have a great day! Tonight is karaoke!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

iPod, iPod in My Hand, I Hope the New Year is Not Bland

As the old man turned in and the world welcomed the New Year's baby, DM and I got together to watch the clock turn to tomorrow and celebrated the passing of 2006 and looked forward to 2007. Instead of karaoke, we decided to spend the evening with our cameras and relaxing at one of our old hangouts. The sky opened on Sunday, bringing the longed for "White Christmas" a week late. Snow flurries fell all day long, changing the brown lawns into winter wonderlands, dusting the treetops, and creating halos around streetlamps. There is something about snow that is magical and truly beautiful.

Before treking out in the snow, I spent the afternoon at my dad's. The view from his front lawn was charming, no people on the street and just a few rooms lit up in houses along the way. Beacons telling stories of families gathered together. That's what I imagine at least.

Snow in the Neighborhood

My father and I enjoyed a spicy spaghetti meal while watching "Rear Window." I had never seen the show before and was impressed with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly's performances. Truly a classic. Suspense, humor, and stunning cinematography really did make this film quite stunning.

By the time I went to pick up DM, there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. This would make most places shut down, but not in the Twin Cities. I would not be surprised if readers in Wisconsin understand the minor inconvenience that snow causes. I say, "Minor," because I do mean, "Minor." In states where snow is common, the plows are ready and waiting. The cities spend millions of dollars each year to have the proper equipment on hand to clear the roads efficiently. The three inches of snow on the ground only slowed the traffic down about 10 miles an hour on the freeways. You learn to drive carefully, but you still drive. That's what it was like picking DM up. Give yourself plenty of room on the road, stay alert, drive passively, be careful, and don't hurry to where you're going are good ways to handle driving in snow. I was impressed, not surprised, by how quickly the streets were cleared. Since the driving conditions were not too bad, DM and I ended up driving through some city streets (which were not as plowed but you drive much, much slower) to take some night photographs of the scenery.

Song for a winter's night

Snowy Scene

Snow Tree

After a few pictures, we headed to Perkins for our third New Year's Eve in a row (which sounds a bit lame, but is safe, fun, and relaxing) and as we pulled up, we saw the flag flying at half-mast to honor President Gerald Ford, the man whose death affected most Americans current lives by shutting down mail service for another day and becoming bigger news than the execution of Sadam Hussein. With the wind whipping our iconic of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness around, I had to take another picture or two. I liked this one.

In Honor

Once inside the restaurant, DM and I turned to another tradition which we named the previous year as, "Ask the iPod." It is a bit silly and only proves our guillible natures, but we have made a game of asking questions about life to the device and using the song titles to give meaning to the questions. We managed to never actually post the answers the iPod gave us last year, but a few from this year we ones we found mentionable. Truth or fiction, you decide. Personally, it is fun, but I do not take too much stock in the responses. It is good, clean fun. Well, not always clean.

Some of the highlights are listed below. The questions have a B or D in front of them, designating if I asked the question or if it was the Queen of the Universe herself. You'll notice themes in our questions (can you imagine the men who are on our minds?). The iPod's responses are in italics (and italicizing the word italics is just silly but I enjoyed it).

D: Will I fall in love with someone else in 2007 (after questions leading her to believe there is a different person)? Maybe Katie

D: Am I going to become a lesbian? Whenever, Whereever

B: iPod, are you saying DM is going to date women? Testing 1, 2, 3

B: (After a question leading us to believe zombies are going to arise from the dead) Why are zombies going to arise in 2007? Addicted to Love (which is the best reason to come back to life)

D: Will I finish my Portugal scrapbook(s) this year? Laughable

D: Is Beth going to make a travel book to make money? Wish You Were Here (which sounds like a good title)

B: What should I do wild and crazy this year? Truth of the Heart

D: Will Beth ever appreciate the comic stylings of Adam Sandler? Too Little Too Late (by the way, I hate him. He irritates every bit of my soul. It offends me that he has made money by being an idiot and that there are people out there who pay for the immature humor - this type of humor annoyed me when I was 5 and it still does.)

B: When (and if) I see Andriy, what will happen? Moody's Mood for Love

B: What song should always remind me of Andriy? The Weakness of Me

D: What song should always remind me of James? Dying to Live (which, by the way, is a great song by Jonny Lang - "Are you living to die or dying to live?")

D: What song should remind us of Sarah? Just the Way You Are (which is sweet)

D: Will I have wonderful sex this year? Dance Without Sleeping

B: Is Andriy the one for me? Everyone is Waiting

D: What is my song fr 2007? Lovers in a Dangerous Time

B: What is my song for 2007? Learning to Fly

D: Who is the one? Do I know the one? I'm Afraid of Americans

D: Is my one male? It's Not Unusual and Piece of My Heart clarify: Mr. Jones

We did have some fun and asked silly questions and got worked up over concidental answers. All-in-all, I got to ring in the new year with my best friend and had a great time.

CarpeDM said: Hey! You forgot the corresponding answer to "I'm afraid of Americans "which was an Englishman in New York, leading us to believe we'll have to take a road trip to New York this year so I can meet an Englishman (or you know, an English woman since iPod hates me and thinks I'm a lesbian). I had so much fun with you. As always. Dude. You so rock. zsqrkw - when I try to say this in my head it sounds oddly like kurka. Dang it.

Frustrated Writer said: Great pictures, great post, and I love the answers the Ipod gave. Glad you were with each other on NYE and I am inspired by your wonderful friendship with each other.

Teri said: I hate Adam Sandler, too...

Mother of Invention said: Finally! Took me 3 tries to get this box to open! I'm envious of your snow! Send a few flakes our way! You had such a great NY's Eve...sounds perfect! And some of those i-pod answers seem unwittingly prophetic! (I've never seen an i-pod close up so I have no clue what you're doing with it!) Cool pics! If we EVER get snow, I'll post some!