Goodbye, Ziggy

Right.  Well, here we are.  Somehow we are all still alive and David Bowie is dead.  I’m not going to go on and pretend that David Bowie was one of my very favorite musicians, but I did love his music.  I spent many hundreds of hours listening to it.  So as a person who loves music perhaps more than a casual fan, I consider him whatever that level is below favorites.  Having said that, for my husband, he was a Favorite with a capital “F.”  The first movie he ever insisted I watch with him at his place was “Labyrinth.”  He felt it was too big a cultural gap for me to go on missing it in my life.  (He was right.  It’s amazing.)  Even if in my late teenage years, I felt like acting in a children’s movie could never be as cool as the music Bowie had made and I already loved, it gave me insight into this person who I would later marry.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Bowie’s death today.  I’m touched a lot more than I imagined I would be — actually, I never imagined I would be touched because it never occurred to me that he would one day die.  So one of the things that makes the pain so sharp is the fact that he continued LIVING right up to the end.  His death came as a complete shock — apparently few people knew he was sick.  He just released a new album, “Blackstar,” on Friday.  What makes the story more heartbreaking to me is that he apparently knew this was the end, and he made the album as a goodbye to his fans/the world. In my mind and having watched people close to me die, I know that sometimes they hold on for something when they know the end is near.  I don’t presume to know that he was holding on to release this goodbye album and see what the world thought of his last great work, but it somehow makes it more poignant to me, so that’s my ephemeral thought at the edge of my brain that I’ve now committed to words.

What kind of person keeps on living — really living– right up until the very end?  (Someone who was too busy/uninterested to appear and accept accolades, someone who eschewed knighthood because “who cares?”, who refused to tour when he could have done 10 shows an album and charged absolutely any price he wanted to name.)  A David Bowie person, apparently.  Someone who had courage his entire life — courage to be different, to be sexual in ways that made people uncomfortable, to be pretty, to just be whomever he needed and wanted to be to tell his story.  His reinventions made him a new type of artist and a new type of person.  And apparently he had the courage to accept (or maybe not accept?) death, which is the scariest, most unknowable mystery.  He had been secretly battling death for a year and a half. Now we have to accept that this is apparently how he wanted it — for no one to know until he was gone.

But it’s hard for those of us still here because he invented so much of the culture that we have today.  Without him, there is no Madonna.  There is no Lady Gaga.  And not to compare them to him, because they aren’t the same.  They didn’t invent what they are.   He invented it.  And he did it better than anyone.  They say that every artist steals from all of their influences, which on some level is true.  But I think what makes someone a REAL dream, a REAL icon is taking those influences and making them something completely, truly yours.  99.9% of people, even people who are professionally paid to be original, can’t do that.

Essentially, I feel like no one this culturally significant has died in my lifetime.  It feels like the world should have called off sick today.  It feels like one of the Beatles has died.  I imagine that this is much how the world felt when John Lennon was murdered (understandably there was a lot more anger to direct at a particular person then so not an exact echo of those feelings, but) — that the entire world stopped breathing for ten long seconds, and that something was gone that we can never get back, someone is gone to whom we can never properly say goodbye.

But he had 28 albums of magic that he gave to us, so you can pretend as long as you want that he is still here.

Thebombdotcom

It’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve had a spare moment AND the mental energy to say hello.  You know you have been too busy when you walk back into your house about 30 minutes after you normally leave (because you forgot something) and your dog starts acting like you are have brought her a lottery ticket for a lifetime supply of free and unlimited refrigerated dog treats (they’re the best).  But I guess everything’s free to her.  She doesn’t understand the concept of money. Pfft, dog.

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The concept of financial stressors or student loans are so foreign to you.  I’m going to start asking her if she wants to go for student loan in the morning when I get her leash out of the drawer.  If I ask it in my super excited voice, she will still want to do it.

I guarantee it.

So, what have I been up to these last few months?  Well, scant recreation, I will tell you.  BUT…  BUT!  I did manage to sneak in a few trips to Athens to see (author) David Sedaris and (musician extraordinaire) Ingrid Michaelson.  I asked David Sedaris a question during the Q&A, and he answered me in front several hundred people.  For the life of me I cannot remember what it was right now.  But let me tell you — at the time, it was MEANINGFUL AND LIFE-CHANGING.  Or maybe that was the pizza…

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I went to Avalanche pizza for the first time during one of these Athens excursions.

And you might say, “Pizza?  Big whoop.  My three-year-old can make pizza.  It’s dough, sauce, and cheese.  Stick it in the oven for 10 minutes and you are in Italy.”

And to that I would say, “Good day!”, turn on my heel and walk away briskly.

But then I would come back and say you have no idea what you are talking about because Avalanche Pizza is the bomb.com.  Bombdotcom.  Yes, btw, we had a social experiment last week where we bought my dad a smartphone and gave him an email address.  He was spelling out the “dot” in .com when we were trying to tell him what his email was.  Yes, really.  I know.  What do you do?

So anyway, Avalanche Pizza.  I got Crouching Kimchi, Hidden Chicken.  I will never be satisfied with Giovanni’s again (was I ever?).  Thanks for breaking my pizza spirit, Avalanche.  I love you so much I hate you.

But anyway —- Ingrid Michaelson!   She is the best.

The. Best.

My husband and I saw her in Cincinnati  about 5 years (before she was cool, hur hur, street cred).  But really.  We did.  It was like some garage somewhere and there were approximately 100 people there.  There weren’t seats.  It wasn’t an auditorium.  It was like a garage, and not even a very nice one.  I think our tickets were $12.

So I basically talked about that concert for years anytime anyone would mention her.  That she was amazing and her voice is impeccable and I could have sworn that she had recorded it somewhere, except she was weaving jokes in and out all the while. That’s really the best thing about her — she is very clever and funny.

At the encore, she just crouched behind the drums with her band and put a blanket over themselves because she said there wasn’t any backstage for her to hide (like I said, it was someone’s garage).

And I knew when we went to go see her in Athens a few weeks ago that it was going to be different — she’s bigger, she’s on iTunes being heavily promoted, she’s making a name.  She’s had commercial success.

But uh…. no, she’s still hilarious and amazing and her voice sounds like an angel of pop music.

And her music also sounds like winter, so if you don’t know her, get to know her.  Listen to her while you decorate cookies and wrap things.  Just be happy and full of love.

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Merry Xmas, Happy Hanukkah!  xoxo

Also, Go Herd!

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Photos from the Commonwealth

West Virginia and Pennsylvania share very similar geography and industries.  But there are way more people, and camps, and just things in PA.  Some towns we drove through today were founded before the Declaration of Independence was signed.  West Virginia split off from Virginia in 1863 for those of you who aren’t familiar with our history (and there are a lot of you, still today, ask anyone from West Virginia).  We moved the state capitol several times  — actually from Wheeling to Charleston to Wheeling and back to Charleston.  We just generally didn’t get our stuff together as early as our Commonwealth neighbor to the north. But anyway, anytime I go to Pennsylvania, I don’t really feel like it’s much different from West Virginia, aside from the large cities that are sprinkled throughout.  We have the same trees, the same hills, the same winding roads:

Like these beautiful cows
Like these dotty cows and the clouds above them
And these tall, tall trees
And these tall, tall trees

One of the highlights (and the actual purpose) of our trip was to go to a Nine Inch Nails concert in State College, Pennsylvania.

They rocked the house +
They rocked the house

One of the other highlights of our trip was stopping at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater (“The Most Famous Home in America”).

It is worth the trip if you’re in that area — and when you think it was built 75 years ago, it truly is a testament to the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright:

The iconic shot of the house hanging over the falls
The iconic shot of the house hanging over the falls
My loving husband took this shot of me on the bridge leading to Fallingwater
My loving husband took this shot of me on the bridge leading to Fallingwater

One of the best parts of our trip, however, was something we didn’t plan.  As were driving between State College and Mill Run, where Fallingwater is located, we saw the sign for the 9/11 Memorial of hijacked Flight 93.  We made a split-second decision to go view the site.  Right now, there really isn’t much there.  A beautiful walkway and wall commemorating that day with the names of those who died, and a boulder that sits over the impact site.  You can only view the impact site from afar, which makes sense when you recognize the layout of the land.  It is a large, open field.  The park ranger said that the plane came in at over 500 mph and flipped onto its top.

It was a solemn visit, like many national monuments.  But something about the 9/11 monuments are different to me, probably because I remember that day so well.  Most of the monuments and museums I’ve traveled to in my life memorialize things that happened long before I was born.  And as my husband pointed out as we made our way along the walking path, there were young kids there who were not even alive when 9/11 happened.  To them, 9/11 will be like the Vietnam War — something horrific that their parents lived through.

I didn’t really feel much like taking pictures at the memorial, but I did take one:

The woolly caterpillar
The woolly caterpillar

When I was growing up, my grandma would always say to count the number of black rings the woolly caterpillar has on his back and that will tell you how long our winter will be.  This guy only had a couple black rings, which means a short winter.

Here’s hoping.  I’m already ready for summer again.

What did you do this weekend?  What’s an Old Wives’ Tale you remember your grandparents telling you?