quiet guitar, a little flute, an oboe line weaving in and out.
i know – without a doubt – that they are trying to keep me calm while on hold. having just gotten off the phone with a billing department, it is not a far reach for me to imagine one falling fast asleep during this interminable period of time. the age of technology and customer service have taken a turn to the worse if they are programming music specifically to slow down our rapidly-beating hearts and blood pressure when we call.
from a personal standpoint, were i to be accessing this music – this particular track – through a mindful practice app or a guided imagery site, it would be pretty helpful. but the use of background music on loop – a composer’s nightmare – to soothe my billingbrain is trying.
and then there was this moment i had on hold one day when i called an insurance company. paperwork strewn in front of me, pencil and notebook at the ready, a list of questions in my head, i was ready to take them on. i was instantly put on hold the moment i selected “speak to a representative”.
the music started.
piano, strings, a cello line weaving in and out…
it did take my mind off the insurance debacle.
instead, i just kept wondering if they were paying royalties.
the first time i walked by i was a misunderstander, a glancer, a critic.
i thought – and spoke aloud – that it seemed elementary to display canvasses with the primary colors…large canvasses at that, lots of wall space, valuable real estate for an art museum.
it only seems right that ellsworth kelly, in a conversation with john cage (i mean, who gets to talk to john cage!!) said, “i am not interested in painting as it has been accepted for so long – to hang on the walls of houses as pictures. To hell with pictures – they should be the wall.” and so, ellsworth created big multiple panel paintings – murals – to cover walls. they are stunning and i have been enlightened – by sheer experience of his work. you need just stand there a few extra moments and it hits you. his “austin” temple of light is on our list of places to visit. minimalism. color. breath.
we visited the milwaukee art museum and the two of us, ellsworth, richard diebenkorn and mark rothko all hung out together. their notoriety far surpasses anything we could dream of – yes, yes – by miles and miles. but they love hanging out with people who get it and we were happy for their company.
we talked about art and music and simplicity and air and light. we talked about the ocean park series and rectangular color fields and bigness. we talked about communicating basic human emotions in our work. we talked about journeys and life and times of passage, evolution. we rued the difficulty of transitions and obstacles. and then, though sans museum ticket but clearly listening in, john cage stopped by and reminded us, once again, to “begin anywhere.”
and then it was time for us to leave, to go sip wine at the public market and to talk about the magic of getting it.
i can still locate my 1985-ish glasses. they are huge tortoise shell frames – bigger than my face – that sit way above my eyebrows and way down on my cheeks. i have no idea what i was thinking, but i suppose they were all the rage at the time.
well, guess what?
they are again.
giant frames, wide frames, frames that cover all expanse of your visage. yikes!
i look – decidedly – like a bug wearing any of these. like a fly – with big eyes – or an ant or – adding to my list of lookalikes – a meerkat or a spectral tarsier.
these are not good looks for me, i have decided. it didn’t even take pondering. it’s quite obvious.
so, re-using the 1985 glasses doesn’t work. i can’t find my glasses from the mid-90s but i know – i remember distinctly – that those do not sit low enough on my cheeks to cover the sometimes-dark-circles i have inherited from my poppo. somewhere in there i sort of remember a pair of big clear glasses. fortunately, they have gone the way of one of the charities that collects eyeglasses. i, in addition to ordering new lenses, was stuck having to look for a new frame.
but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
mostly, the experience of deciding what kind of lenses – lenses! – you want is complex.
i am a contact lens wearer and only need glasses when my eyes are tired at night and maybe we’re driving and i’m behind the wheel. in that case, i want the lenses that specifically deal with darkness and oncoming headlights and the possibility of rainy wet streets and glare off puddles and asphalt, orange barrels that populate every road in our vicinity and on every highway we choose to travel, equipped with deer-alerting alarms.
so – the anti-dark, anti-glare, anti-highbeam, anti-barrel, anti-deer, anti-sleepy lenses, please.
it’s a recurring theme. and variations. sleep. no sleep. partial sleep. disturbed sleep. sleep with snoring. sleep sans snoring.
i don’t remember having this problem earlier in my life. it’s not like i wasn’t worrying about things then, so i don’t know what the difference is. other than menopause. and hormones. and…ummm…aging. a fun trilogy.
we try to have good conversation in the wee hours. we generally have a banana (somewhere we read that bananas are sleep-inducing plus they are easy snacks in the middle of the night.) if we are still starving, we have been known to get up and make pancakes. having mid-night pancakes always sounds better than actually making pancakes in the middle of the night – tired and a little ornery from not sleeping. but once they are made, it’s pretty dreamy to indulge in a few maple-syrup laden pancakes at 3am.
david doesn’t really have trouble sleeping. his troubles come from my trouble. he is a generous sleep-giver-upper on those nights, for which i am grateful. he mustn’t have the trilogy, the whole trilogy and nothing but the trilogy. plus, somehow or other, he places all angsting to the side when he lays his head down. he just goes to sleep.
i wouldn’t say it’s completely autobiographical. but one has to get one’s idea nuggets from somewhere. and – since our lives together have some really ordinary moments – truly ordinarily-ordinary with a smidge of extra as frosting here and there – they are somewhat easy to pull from.
day-to-day living has enough funny stuff. really. stuff happens. big stuff. little stuff. silly stuff. stupid stuff. hard stuff. poignant stuff. goobery stuff. one just has to notice, to pay attention.
and then – in the case of of a sort-of-autobiographical-sort-of-construed-sort-of-vulnerable-sort-of-stand-up cartoon – one has to be willing to share.
the perils and the summits of middle age. there are plenty.
there’s no telling. no way to know. really anything. any. thing.
the mystery of the new year is enormous. giant arcing things will happen, life-changing. tiny morsels of moments will happen, life-changing. we have no way to truly predict. there is no artificial intelligence that can tell us the spectrum of life that we will experience in the new year. it is hidden in holiday wrap, too much scotch tape, gift tags that have become mixed up, like luggage on southwest airlines right now.
to greet it without a hint of anticipation, without a breath of celebration, without acknowledgement of the brevity of time, is to maybe miss it.
stardust falls on our shoulders as we walk into the turn of the year under the big, big sky.
so, neither of us has any trouble with going on and on and on. nope, this is not new news to you (as you read, vehemently nodding your head in agreement, thinking that this is not rocket science.)
each day – now – suddenly – when we open our blogsites, there is a prompt at the top….as if we can’t think of anything to talk about. they are not profound prompts, existential questions, deeply probing and inventive. no…these prompts are kind of remedial…like today’s “tell us about your first day at something – school, work, as a parent, etc.”. seriously? the first one was “how do you feel about eating meat?” and there were others: “who do you envy?” and “what’s your favorite cartoon?”.
we wrote to wordpress – really expressing our dissatisfaction with these newly ever-present prompts. we pay for these sites and really just want blank space to blog. good grief. staaahhhhp it. but it was to no avail. they show up every day on the top of our screen. yada yada.
we – clearly – don’t need wordpress’ prompts to write. we seem to have plenty of words milling about in our minds and bodies, just waiting to surface and barrel out onto the page.
and then…there are the words that don’t make it to the page…that just flit about in the air. because we both tend to be thinkers, we are both often mulling things over in our heads…for me, that tends to be details and for him, well, it’s more a concepts sort of thing.
it is not unusual for one of us – or the other – to just start blahblah-ing about all that goobledegook going on – babble, folly, a few valid points thrown in for good measure. more on the verbose side of the coin than the succinct side. we are together a lot – and we love to share – so this is not a rarity. it is an accoutrement of our relationship, like a scarf in cold weather.
and, though we usually hold good discussions, have good conversation, compare viewpoints and learn tidbits from each other, there are those moments when one of us will just reach maximum input, one word over the line, just a smidge too much – like when you are filling the sink soap dispenser and reach the top and the dawn dishwashing liquid just starts spilling everywhere, which, incidentally, is not easy to clean up, though i suspect you already know that – and that one of us (more commonly me, but most definitely him too) just sort of shuts down. all hearing stops – and it kind of looks like staring into space…but it’s really just being boggled. completely and utterly boggled. time stands still for a few minutes and then, catapulting through space on the planet while standing there – frozen and boggled – it catches back up, listening resumes and the boggle un-boggles.
and we continue on our merry way, laughing at the temporary word-absorption-lull.
(to the tune of “the old gray mare”) sing: a good night’s sleep just ain’t what it used to be, ain’t what it used to be, ain’t what it used to be. a good night’s sleep just ain’t what it used to be…many long years ago.”
yiiiikes. no kidding. a whole night of sleeping – like from late evening when you lay your head down on your sweet pillow all the way through the wee hours of the night to sunny morning when you wake blissfully rested and dreaming of a hot mug of coffee in your hand and zero aches and pains – is elusive. how utterly annoying. and a repeated pattern. over and over.
middle age, hormones (or the lack thereof), medications, angsts, the world, too little water, too much water, d snoring, me snoring, leg cramps, foot cramps, shoulder twinges, a pillow too flat, a pillow too puffy like one that makes you feel like your head is on top of the empire state building and your body is in the lobby, a full moon, the neighbor’s motion light, the wind, a skunk somewhere out the window in the ‘hood, sirens, the trains idling on the tracks for hours on end, wishing for midnight pancakes…the list is endless…reasons to be awake.