Dancin’ in the dark

The past two weeks have been a bit blurry… not any particular thing, just a lot of everything.  The good stuff and the “i’ll take a rain check, thanks” stuff, swirled in a turgid* life-slurry.  Marginal amounts of sleep, list-making during meetings, frantic stops at the grocery for necessities, napping on airplanes. 

Late nights, laughing and drinking and emoting with good friends.  Watching my mother eat like a human termite.  Getting a ‘disconnection’ notice on my sewer and water for failure to pay (HUH? i’ve paid it monthly? What the fuck?) and not having time this week to call to get it sorted.

Plunging through a massive bureaucratic butt-plug and finally getting a start date for a new assignment.  Eventually convincing my boss that the best thing for the organization is for me to go away… Taking my first cartload of ancient reports and files to the shredder bins.  Shuffling my feet in a happy dance to the music in my head as i pushed the empty cart back to my office.

Having visitors for seven straight days.  Four days with Mom – tense at first, but unexpectedly pleasant.  Three days with a great friend who was in town – warmth, late nights and the traditional “groping of the breastages”….

Friday night – finally!   My plans for the evening disintegrated – a calenderically-challenged DJ / dance buddy had gotten the date wrong for a performance event.  That’d be for tomorrow night… oops.

Home.  Alone.  Quiet.  Munching over my options…

Hopped in the jeep and dragged my mutt to the dog park for some butt sniffing (him), ball chasing (also him) and mindless drooling (both of us…).  Gorgeous night.  Painfully blue skies.  Yips and squeals of the kids on the playground punctuating the start of summer.  On the drive home, being splattered with dog spit as Mr. Pickles recovered in the breeze, i decided that a ‘down night’ was in order.

Settling in to catch up on work e-mail, i queued up the audio tracks**.  Decided to try a different channel… something new.   Found one with a rather stupid name “AM Radio Hits”.  Thinking that i was susceptible to a slide back into the dark places i’ve been scouting lately, this seemed an upbeat, mindless soundtrack to have rolling in the background.

First song?  “Get Up Offa That Thing“***, James Brown.  As i wandered into the kitchen, shakin’ my ass as if my life depended on it, i decided that it would be perfectly ok to finish half a bottle of wine while eating cinnamon bagels for dinner.  My toaster was toasting away, cinammony goodness wafting into my brain and the next song began: “I Think I Love You“, Partridge Family.  ISHITYOUNOT.  Partridge.  Fucking. Family.

Within seconds i reverted to the socially retarded 10 year old girl with a drool-festooned crush on David Cassidy.  i’m dancing in the kitchen.  Show-choir style.  Jazz hands, bitches!  Checking my form in the reflection of the microwave oven.  “I’m afraid that i’m not sure of, a love there is no cure for……” [screaming while striking a pose] “I THINK I LOVE YOU!”

From there?  “Joy To The World“, Three Dog Night, “I Second That Emotion“, The Miracles and “Low Rider“, War.   But then this happened.  Within seconds, i was literally jumping on my furniture, sproinging merrily around my living room.  “Bright Side of The Road“, Van Morrison. 

Joy.  Experienced with the person i’m going to spend the rest of my life with… She’s ok sometimes.  She doesn’t dance nearly as well as she thinks she does, and her voice is a bit strained at the high end.  But she’s a good fucking time…

My dog?  Thinks i’m batshit…

* “turgid” is my favorite word in the english language.  especially when paired with “loins”….

** Rhapsody.  Streaming on-line digital audio for about $12/month.  Anything i want.  Whenever i want it…  About a bazillion channels, with names like “Acoustic Dawn”, “Big Classic Rock” and “Alternative Hits”… i also make up mood/activity driven playlists.  Like a big-ass iPod, wired throughout the Barbie Dream Condo.  Sometimes it makes me so happy to have a soundtrack anywhere i am at home that i just want to pee my pants.

*** If you do not at least do a little head boppin’ when listening to this song?  You are dead.  Seriously fucking dead…. or seriously fucking white….

“If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is…”

“And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’

“So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’ ”

     – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., A Man Without A Country 

Maybe 12 years old when i read my first Vonnegut novel, Cat’s Cradle.  Read everything he wrote along the way after that… i thought he was “funny”, “cosmic”, and very “hip”.  It wasn’t until i was in my late 30’s and started re-reading his early works, and reading his current essays that it hit me how deeply his words resonated – articulating much of my own view of the world. 

On the surface one can see the cynicism, the darkness, the bleak portrait he paints of the human condition.  Much like me.  But it has always been his words of hope that touched me most deeply.  Such as the passage above…  Since his death in 2007, i’ve taken to saying the words out loud when something felt nice.

This weekend?  Nothing in particular going on… relieved that i’d passed that damn test on Friday.  Knowing that my children were both “in good places” in their respective situations.  Mom – doing well and  entertained in The Park – with my sister, T, in town for her high-school reunion. 

Spent Friday evening with friends at the Celtic festival, drinking, dancing, and drinking-and-dancing** to one of the best Irish jam bands, ever!  A beautiful summer Saturday afternoon – riding my bike for transport, not just recreation – to volunteer to help some well intentioned local political activists get the word out**.  Listening a favorite bit of music on the iPod from the night before… Excited about the new digs, and feeling overwhelmed at my good fortune for being in a position to make such a move…

…and i started to cry.  Not one of those sobbing, snot-running down your face things.  Just a few tears.  All was well with my insignificant corner of the world for that one moment in time.  i’m not even sure if there was anyone nearby to hear me say “if this isn’t nice, then i don’t know what is…”

This one’s for you, Uncle Alex.  And God Bless you, Mr. Vonnegut…

* Gaelic Storm.  They are fabulous…  ended up seeing them Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.  They got started as the “Steerage” band in the movie Titanic.  Despite the fact that the movie blew and the boat sank, the band was delicious!

** i’ve lost my voice, ears are still ringing, and can barely walk from the dancing.  Last night, my friend and i were probably older than anyone else in the mosh pit – by 20 years.  But hey, we got invited to the “after party” because we were cool old dudes…

*** and later being completely annoyed that the task they’d asked me to help with had been postponed due to technical difficulties, and my 10 mile ride out there had been for recreation after all… no phone call to the volunteers signed up to work.  no wonder these tree-hugging boneheads can’t elect anyone…