(I started writing a bunch of these fragments lately and planned to answer any of those asks with them. I’m not sure what the fragments are adding up to, but I’ve enjoyed writing them so far.)
imathers said: chiffon, brick, motorcade
It took me years to figure out that my mom had misquoted the Judds in the diary she kept before she died. For most of my life it never occurred to me that the Judds in question—Naomi and Winona—were the Judds; I assumed Mom was referring to neighbors I never knew. She wrote:
“Every ending is a new beginning.” —The Judds
What the Judds actually said, in what, as best as I can tell, is the song Mom was referencing, “River of Time,” was this:
“We’re all driven by the winds of change
Seems like nothing ever stays the same
It’s fate that guides me around the bend
Life’s forever beginning, beginning again.”
When I took my deep dive into pop music—not the unconscious dive that is by now a prerequisite rite of a media-saturated childhood and adolescence, but my elective second dive, as an adult—I could never really get into the Judds. Too sappy.
I was revisiting my mom’s diary for a movie, which I completed in fits and starts over the course of two film degrees. Before scrapping the idea altogether, I imagined following the Judds on their own 1991 journey as a parallel to the last year I spent with my mother.
That didn’t pan out. (Still too sappy.) But I think the reason I was so obsessed with the idea, briefly, was that recognizing a Judds paraphrase was the closest I’d ever gotten to understanding my mother as a regular person, listening to the radio, being moved in the middle of a Judds song but not enough to memorize the lyrics, yet still transcribing the gist of them into what, she knew pretty well at the time, would be the last handful of words she’d ever write.
I thought about what sort of epigram I might use to introduce a “final words” diary for my own children. I thought of Ashlee Simpson:
“The sky is falling and it’s early in the morning, but it’s OK somehow.”
In Mom’s diary, the first “scene” (after the Judds quote) is me, at six years old, rushing into the room at the crack of dawn to tell her that when I turn 30, I’m going to wake up earlier and earlier so that I can do more. “Such insight for such a little person!”
When I turned 30, I did wake up earlier and earlier, but not by choice. I had my first child, a boy, two months after my 30th birthday, around the same time my mom had her first child, a girl, my older sister.
With every year I get closer to the age at which she died, at 41, I feel like I understand my mom better as a person, even without knowing—or even really caring to know—all that much about the biographical details of her life. My dad never regaled me with the story of how he met my mother, for instance, aside from a perfunctory detail: Fort Meade. Not that I ever asked him for more, which I’m sure he would share quite openly. He’s open, just not forthright, and I don’t have the forthrightness myself to ask him.
I prefer to discover her in more serendipitous, personal ways: noticing that my overuse of exclamation points has a genetic basis in her own writing; a sense of restlessness and searching that manifests itself in a fitful and cobbled-together part-time career not unlike her own (my dad and sister are both more driven in their work and less prone to distraction); a tendency to respond to things with an earnest “neat!”
ask meme: put three things in my askbox that look like they could be part of an ask meme, but in truth are just a string of barely-related words/letters. i will answer them somehow.
- abacus, marigold, january
- 37, mint chip, periwinkle
- tesseract, tin can, bulb
i’m writing but if/when i get stuck i’m gonna come do these to clean out my brain
Haven’t done this in a while, but this looks awesome so please ask them!!
They’ve been working on a third album for a very long time — they had a comeback track (“Lolita”) that was ultimately a false start and now their actual comeback track (“You Ruin Me”) is #1 in Australia. It’s got a piano on it. But before that they hadn’t really done anything since like 2007!
Rainbow Road -
The first time I ever had a panic attack, it turns out (or at least, it seems to turn out, as best as I can tell as an adult) was when I was about four. That I remember so few moments from this period of my life tells me that what I felt was stronger than usual, and it’s only with a lot of…
Not sure if y’all knew I had an anxiety blog (which I update in fits and starts) but this is it. You may relate to this one if you have a bridge phobia.
praise for babe pig in the city
this is my favorite post
the best anti-capitalism film ever made
Not only did Ebert praise it; Gene Siskel called it the best film of 1998. (It was #7 on Ebert’s list.) (Also LOL I forgot how much they both loved Pleasantville.)
Coming soon to Netflix. ADDS TO QUEUE.
Q: The most popular types of characters in comedy these days seem to be adults unwilling to grow up. This is common in Hollywood, as well as literature. The eternal teen. But your characters tend to be real adults who are doing their best to live, struggling mightily. There’s no Peter Pan Syndrome at work.
A: I think I had a little advantage in this, in that I didn’t really get started until I already had a regular life — a job, a wife, two kids — so the idea of eternal youth had flown. And it had flown for good reason, by which I mean: I was totally on board with it having flown. I didn’t feel reduced or compromised by having a job and family. The whole 1970s idea of “selling out” had been rendered anachronistic and even gross by the extent of my love for my wife and kids. Beatniking was not an option anymore. So then I had to learn that the things that were actually bothering me or challenging me during the day were valid subjects for literature. Mostly, at that time, what was bothering me was 1) not having enough money to provide for my family in the way they deserved, and 2) having a job that required me to spend basically my whole day doing things that I didn’t want to do and were simultaneously hard and boring but that were, at the time, the only antidote to (1). So I suppose that’s a fundamentally adult conundrum: no place to run, because the trap you’re in is made of love. Love plus material paucity. — George Saunders in Mike Sacks’s Poking a Dead Frog, indirectly responding to the one-paragraph version of A.O. Scott’s #deathofadulthood.