Spring and David Bowie

As I begin writing this post snow showers are gently working their way across a crisp blue sky.  But it is March 20th, also known as the vernal equinox or the first day of spring.  I would venture the first, more scientific title, is more appropriate as temperatures haven’t topped 25 degrees F today and ice is still securely crunching underfoot.

At any other time in my life thus far, this would not be a source of mild irritation to me. In fact, contrary to most people,  it would have been a source of enjoyment for me. But that seems to have changed now; somewhat to my chagrin, as my love of winter has always been something that fed my soul and was an odd source of pride for me.

As with many of my other posts, I am inspired to distill my thoughts onto the page by my interactions with friends or the activities in my life, and this post is no different.  The sentiments above were very succinctly penned by my friends at Modest Plans, and though the reasoning was different (the anticipation of the gardening season for a burgeoning green thumb), the feelings could literally have been plucked straight from my brain.  And that was immensely comforting and allowed me to assess my own feelings more fairly.

My frustration stems from my new life and the joys and struggles it now encompasses.  Much to my delight and relief, my daughter does love playing in the snow and does not seem to care a bit about a slightly runny nose and cold fingers.  Yet the process we go through to engage in this outdoor time is an arduous one which often results in mother chasing daughter around the house in order to don the variety of layers needed to make said outdoor time pleasant at 20 degrees F.

The occasional March snowstorm used to draw this reaction:Photo 52and now draws this weary one: Photo 56That bothered me, and it still does…but just a little. You see, another voice of inspiration pervades my soundtrack these days and that’s Mr. Bowie and his timeless classic, Changes, which has never been more pertinent to my life than now.  And not just in my seasonal ennui.

A few short years ago (and I mean SHORT), I led  a very migratory life, in which each day was different and generously populated with friends, co-workers and new faces.  To an extent, I had the freedom to do and go where I wanted, when I wanted. I saw my close friends and family on a regular basis. I had experience and confidence in my job and even had someone cooking all my meals for me.  I am now a homeowner and moderately insecure mother, living a somewhat lonely – at least for adult interaction – life in a foreign city. Apparently, I can now add the loss (hopefully temporary) of one of my most reliable characteristics to my list of ch-ch-ch-changes.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I love my family beyond words and there is no doubt that the rewards of this new life certainly outweigh the challenges. But that doesn’t mean those challenges aren’t met with at least a little bit of consternation.  I have learned so many things already from my daughter and this new life, patience being chief among them.

And so we will wait for spring, both of us fit out in our fleece and woolies, and turn to our faraway friends and cultural tapestry to comfort and guide us until we can venture out with the chirping birds in jeans and a sweatshirt.

(Turn and face the strain)
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
(Turn and face the strain)
Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time


Throwing Caution to the Walkman

I have said before that sometimes the most wonderful things happen in the course of our normal daily activities.  I have also spoken of music as being a gift, and one of the most important gifts we can receive (if we are willing to accept it) is that of freedom.  Not in the bigger political sphere – though music has been and continues to be a powerful tool in that regard – but in the personal sphere.

It starts out with a simple walk…like we do almost everyday, a walk with the dog through our little neighborhood.  On this particular day we encountered a young fellow doing the same, only he was having just a little more fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love tossing Amelia up on my back and heading out with Betsy, but this boy, who looked to be somewhere between the age of 11 and 14, had something I didn’t.  He had a massive pair of headphones and a walkman (ok, it was probably an Ipod), and whatever music was being pumped through that system, he was happily and unabashedly rocking out to it as he jigged and sauntered down the sidewalk, utterly unconcerned with how he might appear to any passers by.


Alas, my tried and true cassette walkman is long gone.

He did look a little goofy, but he clearly didn’t care, something all the more extraordinary given the fact that this slightly geeky looking kid (and I use that term affectionately) was likely heading into what might be considered one of the tougher phases in life – teenagerhood.  A phase that could potentially be more difficult for kids who unabashedly boogie down in public to music no one else can hear.

It was a beautiful thing to see, partly on it’s own merit and partly because, not only can I relate to that kid, I kind of AM that kid (or chick, or woman or Mom, pick your label).  I am that girl getting down in the driver’s seat of her car at the red light, clapping and chair dancing along with Hall & Oates’ “Private Eyes” (yeah, that just happened) or The Police’s “Every Little She Does is Magic“.

And in case you think it’s just the oldies that get me going, think again.  All it takes is the right combination of beat, melody and maybe a catchy hook.  Indeed, the dog walkers at the beach got an eyeful just last week when I had a rare trip down, with the dog and without the child. Like my young comrade, I brought my very own Ipod – a notable occurrence as it is something I can’t do with Amelia along for the ride since toddlers and headphones don’t mix well, at least not if you want functioning headphones at the end of the day.  The dreary day was instantly transformed as my Ipod randomly shuffled onto Phoenix’s “Lisztomania” and this 40-something girl started bouncing down the beach. Betsy thought my behavior meant we were wrestling and I have no idea what the dog walkers thought, but the point of all this is that I didn’t care anymore than that boy on the sidewalk.

Some songs just stop me right in my tracks, like Toots & the Maytals’ “Bam Bam”  (especially the version with Shaggy).  I have that tune on a playlist I made for running (she writes nostalgically), and when it comes on, I  just dance in place right there on the sidewalk as if I was at the club (assuming I could remember what the inside of a dance club actually looked like).

When we allow the alchemy between rhythm, melody, brain and body to relieve us of our inhibitions, something wonderful happens.  Luckily for me, the result isn’t akin to Elaine on Seinfeld, though I like to think that even if it was I still wouldn’t care.  I’m sure that a scientist could talk about hormones and endorphins, but all I know is that when the right song comes on, allowing yourself to cut loose and rock out regardless of who’s watching feels great.  The freedom that comes from letting go of that judgement – by others and by ourselves – is powerful and joyful and I will work hard and play hard and boogie hard to pass that on to my daughter.