Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When the lights go down in the city

Until last week, I'll bet most of you were willing to admit that you were a Journey fan before you admitted you were a Michael Jackson fan. But if you look at the timing of their biggest stuff, it was about the same time. "Off the Wall": 1979; "Infinity": 1978. And "Thriller": 1982; "Escape": 1982. And, for me, the music of Journey was a bigger deal than Michael Jackson.

Sure, Steve Perry: not a face for video. In fact, I would argue that MTV killed Journey. MTV was made for Duran Duran, who sounded good but looked  so pretty. Steve Perry, not only not-so-pretty, he had that twitchy way of singing. Yeah, that's not a video you need to see over and over. They almost got it with "Faithfully" where they didn't show much of him actually singing, but no one can do the videos like MJ. 

Go through that Journey catalog. If you're about my age, you'll be singing more of those songs than Michael's. "Pretty Young Thing"? "She's Out of my Life"? Even "Thriller"? Please. If I'm in the car and "Open Arms" or "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" comes on, I am singing at the top of my lungs. And I'll bet you know more words to "Don't Stop Believing" than "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." 

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'll stand before the Lord of Song

I wish I would have written this before Friday, but, seriously, I've always felt Michael Jackson was overrated. I'm not saying he wasn't a star; sure, absolutely, he was a star. But was he really this great influence on music that the media and others are claiming he is? Maybe he influenced dance, maybe he influenced folks on how to be a completely whacked-out celebrity head case, but his influence on music? Not so much.

Do you have any Michael Jackson music on your ipod? Okay, maybe you do, but do you have any music because you genuinely feel it's great music or do you have it because "Beat It" reminds you of high school? I love pop music but I have exactly one song with MJ ("ABC"). That means I have as many songs by Hanson as I do Michael Jackson. Yes, he sold a ton of albums,but that doesn't mean I need to hear any of it again. It feels, well, dated to me. Yeah, the videos were awesome, but we're not doing those much anymore. And how many of those albums did he sell because of the videos? I think we all forget how much MTV ruled the world in the mid-80s.

He was a celebrity. He was a media event and played that as much as he could. He clearly did not have a normal life. He was obviously out of his mind and may or may not have committed various crimes. He was interesting to the media, but not because of his music (unless it was because he couldn't make or sell albums at the same rate these days.) The media was there because most stories about him involved the phrase, "oh, you're not going to believe this one." 

I go back to, yes, he was an influence on dance and mixing the dance with the pop music. He set the bar high for the number of records sold, but, no, not an influence on music. 

As I walked to work this morning, Leonard Cohen sang "Hallelujah" to me, and I thought that if I had to choose between all of MJ's music (yes, including the Jackson 5) and this one song, this one song wins, every day of the week. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leaving Pennsylvania

Yesterday the house was packed up and I left Pennsylvania. After over 20 years, I am no longer a resident of the Keystone State. Moving is always hard, but this was especially bad because it's not just leaving a house, it's leaving a whole part of my life. It's leaving so many parts of my life: my early adulthood, my marriage, my grad school, my first job as a scientist, as a writer. 

I spent a lot of time yesterday, just walking around the house as it was emptied. I remembered when we were making plans for the house, picking out paint colors, all those little things. I remember being happy. I remember laughing a lot. I remember wondering what went wrong, when it happened. I was thinking about how we were so close and now we are separate. I walked around the house, and it was so real, knowing that it is all over. This chapter of my life is done.

When the house was empty, I did one last walk through each room. I cried. I felt like there should be something more I should do, but I couldn't think of anything. I put my keys in a drawer, got into my car, and left Pennsylvania.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Packing it up

Today the house gets packed up. Well, the stuff that is mine -- the former Mr. HP has already moved his things out. The house is both empty-feeling and cluttered. When I arrived, I walked around, just looking at what was left. Yes, I did cry. I don't think there was anything that specifically made me cry, but seeing only half of our things (well, I guess it's now my things and his things), well, I couldn't help it.

Most of yesterday was spent dividing up the little things with TFMrHP. It was amazingly civil. We joked around. ("Take a muffin pan." "Will I ever make muffins?" "Maybe not, but I don't want you saying, 'That bitch didn't even give me a muffin pan.'" "Well, that would be worth it.") (He later found some muffin mix and decided that, yes, he should have a muffin pan.) He had too much stuff for his car, so he packed up my car as well, and we went to his new house. It was definitely odd to see the furniture in a new setting. To see his new life. While I was there I took one of the sprinklers.

I'm still crying on and off, but not too much. Little things trigger it. Last night it occurred to me that he has very few pictures of me. I was always that one taking the pictures (or my mom). The wedding photos are in a small pile in the family room. I should give him some of those pictures, but which ones? Does he want a picture of me? So, yes, I am crying.

I wonder what he thinks about all of this. I guess that's the problem. I can predict his behavior but I have no idea as to what he is thinking, what his emotions about all of this are. Is he sad, is he relieved, is he moving on? I look at his house, and, yes, it is exactly what I would have predicted. It's not the house I would have wanted. (But, it occurs to me, that I would have yielded to what he wanted. If we would have found that house in Maryland, I would have said okay.) I want him to be happy but I don't know if he knows how to do that.

Oh, this is just rambling. It's time to sign off for now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The beginning of the end

In a few minutes, I am heading up to Pennsylvania for what should be the last time for a while. The last time as a resident, at any rate. I am putting it off, but it needs to be done, that last trip. 

I have lived most of my life (hard to believe sometimes -- I do think of myself as an Ohio girl) in the Philadelphia area, and it's hard for me to believe that I won't have a place up there anymore. The next time I visit, I will truly be a visitor.

I really do love the Philadelphia area. Sure, there are things I don't like so much (the people could be friendlier, the refusal to put up street signs), but it's really become a part of me and a part of my life. I know I will be crying plenty the next few days. And, believe me, it will be over stupid stuff ("oh, an Acme! sniff!")

I am dreading seeing the half-empty house. I am already braced for what that will be like. (At least I think I'm ready, but I know the reality will be much more upsetting.) This may be why I am doing this now: can't blog and drive, so this will put it off just a bit more.

No, it is time to go. Time to face it and say good-bye. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Sound, Just Fury

My temper, in case you were wondering: not good. It's generally not under control and goes off, just like that. I try, God knows, I really do, to keep it in check. Unfortunately for those close to me, I spend so much energy keeping it under control at work and in other social situations, I tend to let it fly when I'm at home.

I see myself doing it, losing control, and I hate it so much. I hate that I can't keep that monster in. That I would say those things. Such awful things. Who does this to the people they care about? Well, I do, apparently. And I wish  could just pull that part of myself out and destroy it.

No, it doesn't come to any good. No, it doesn't help "clear the air" or reach an understanding. It hurts other people. And, of course, I can really hurt the people I'm closest to. Sure, I know exactly what to say to make it cut deep. And, unfortunately, when I can't control my temper, those awful things come out.

What I would do to take back some of those things I've said. I wish, I wish I could just be the better version of myself. I really didn't mean it. But I have no idea how to stop myself from doing it again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

With their voices soft as thunder

At night, I worry. I can't help it. If you talk to me at 3 in the afternoon, all is well; I have it under control. Catch me at 10 at night, my life is falling apart. I can't help it. It seems to be when it all crashes in (although 3 a.m. can also be a good time for a freak out as well.) 

I worry about everything. The thought pattern can be something like this: I wonder if I'll ever find a house. Maybe I'll never find a house. Maybe I'll find a house and someone will outbid me. Maybe I'll move into this great house, but the roof will cave in and since I've been mortgaged to the edge, I can't afford to fix it. Ever. Maybe I forgot to pay my Visa bill and my credit rating will be shot, so I won't get the house to begin with. Maybe someone has stolen my Visa number. Maybe someone has stolen my car. Did I see my car today? Did I leave the windows open -- that sounds like rain outside. Maybe it's not rain; maybe the pipes are leaking. Maybe that ceiling fan (yes, the one that has been there for 4 years) will suddenly come loose and gut me in my sleep. 

Yes, all very rational.

I can't seem to not worry. Sometimes I can hold it off for a bit, but then it just shows up a bit later. Sometimes the best solution is to give it to it, not sleep, then crash a few days later. But those can be rough days, the ones with little sleep.

I know there are people who can not worry. I envy them. My old boss Big Red was one of those people. I'd go to him, all up in arms about something, he'd shrug, "What are you gonna do? These things happen. Let's get lunch." So jealous. He probably sleeps like death at night.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Silver Lake

Mr. Higgy-Piggie and I used to walk almost every night. It was a walk through the neighborhood, sometimes varied slightly, but we always went to Silver Lake Park. Silver Lake Park is a very tiny park on the edge of Newtown, at the end of the Newtown trail. It's so tiny and insignificant that when I called the Newtown Parks and Rec Department, they didn't know it existed. ("I don't think there is such a park," she told me. I wondered if perhaps my imagination is better than I thought.)

The park is really just a bridge over a creek, a couple of fields (no picnic tables or anything; just field), and a very short path to a small body of water that someone very generously called Silver Lake. It's a small, stagnant pond which we just called "Goose Poo Pond" as, well, lots of geese without a lot of water movement. They installed a fountain which ran for one year, and it actually seemed to help, but the next year, no more fountain, so we figured the funding must have run out.

For a small park, there was a pretty good diversity of animals. Geese, obviously, the occasional duck, one swan who would give us the stink-eye as if we were invading his space (who we referred to as "Belligerent Swan"). We would occasionally see beavers, who, one night, gnawed down all the little trees, then seemed to disappear. Big bull frogs, who always scared the hell out of me. Bunnies, squirrel, deer, that sort of thing. We could stand on the bridge and see the fish and turtles.

The last walk we took was the day we had our "big talk." We needed air, to get out of the house, so we did our usual walk, ending at Silver Lake Park. As we walked down the path, almost to the lake, I saw something in the path. It was some animal that had been dead a short while; I have no idea what it was. But it was awful. Other animals had clearly gotten to it. This horrible thing, there in the path. 

We quickly turned around. That was the last walk to Silver Lake.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Nothing else matters here

Today GM declared bankruptcy, which is a shame for a lot of people. They're closing a bunch of plants, which just adds to the number of folks who have already lost their jobs. I'm reading about where these plants are located: Ypsilanti, Columbus, Pontiac. It really is sad. 

But there was also this this article in the New York Times about car dealerships closing. Which, I'm sorry, I just don't have the sympathy for the car salesmen that are out of jobs. I'm sure there are some perfectly nice guys (and women, but, really, mostly guys) that are car salesmen. But, you know, most of them: pain in the ass. 

I'm okay at the haggling thing, but the idea of it is just annoying. I hate that you might get one price one day, another price a different day. That if you crack too soon, maybe you're out some cash. I hate, hate, hate, the little tricks: "this would be your monthly payment" (but how much is the car, exactly?) "this is the price of the car (minus your trade-in)." Of course, what I hate the most is the way they treat you. I've had salesmen question what I could afford, wonder why I'd want a stick shift, and get annoyed at me because the color of the car wasn't the most important thing to me ("but you're a girl!" I swear to God, that's what he said.)

I feel bad when anyone is out of a job, but car salesguy, not as much.