Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yay, Life!

This blog post has a soundtrack.  I highly recommend you listen to some Yma Sumac while you read it.  If you don't have any, just open this playlist in another tab and let it play while you read: Yma Sumac playlist on youtube.  More about Yma Sumac in a minute.

Sunday I had a deliciously creatively inspiring evening.  Which is important for me, because I've realized I don't get those anywhere near often enough, and it's a big part of me feeling like ME, an individual, a real person.  As opposed to somebody's mom or wife or friend or whatever.

I love movies.  A lot.  It's taken me a long time as an adult to really understand and embrace how much I love movies, but I really do love them.  Movies have the ability to really transport me and affect me, more so than books, I think largely because I'm such a visual person.

When I got my drivers license at 16, the first place I drove myself was to a movie (Casablanca at River Oaks Theatre in Houston).  At a couple different points in my life, I would weekly go to the movies by myself.  It still feels like such a ME activity.

So Sunday evening the Husband gave me a few hours to myself, and I decided to go to the movies, which I hadn't done alone in a really long time.  Being a big Wes Anderson fan, I decided to go see Moonrise Kingdom.

While not my favorite of his, I really loved it.  It just felt so delightful and precious, and it really did that big affecting thing movies can do to me.  I felt like it showed a certain side of childhood I haven't often seen portrayed.

It's hard for me to find the words, but it's kind of the horror and wonder of being 12 years old.  I think most of us feel kind isolated and alien at 12, and as this film shows, making a real connection with another person is so very important and life-changing.  These are things I've been thinking about a lot lately already, so it felt like good timing for me.

I walked out of the theatre, feeling so full of life and mystery, and there was the almost full moon with a bright halo around it, and I just had to talk to someone.  So I called my dear friend Marie, in large part because she's such a big Wes Anderson fan, I knew she'd seen the movie already.

We chatted about the movie a little, and then she started telling about moving her Nonnie to Austin that weekend.  Marie had found a cassette tape that turned out to have a recording of her grandparents and parents singing a hymn.  Marie remembered how they'd have dinners where they'd just spontaneously start singing and making music.

This made me think of John Philip Sousa. A few months ago, my 6-year-old son had to research a composer for school, and he chose Sousa (because he did the Monty Python theme song).  Something interesting I learned about Sousa is that he had a strong dislike of recorded music and the phonograph.  To quote:

These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day.

Of course even today people still make music in their homes, like Marie's family, but now it seems like magic.  I imagined that other world where making music in your living room with your family was the norm.  Something has definitely been lost.  

Then Marie told me about taking Nonnie to what will be her new church that morning, a delightful neighborhood Methodist church.  The people were so welcoming to her, and between the church and Marie, I imagined Nonnie being enveloped with love and delicately placed into her new life.  And it made me tear up.

After I got off the phone with Marie, I put on the Yma Sumac CD I'd recently acquired from Half Price books.  The song that came on was Chuncho, and it pretty much made everything perfect.  I have been wondering, how have I gone this long in my life without being exposed to Yma Sumac?  It just seems like a big oversight on the Universe's part.

Listening to her wonderful crazy voice (the CD calls her "The Peruvian Bird"), driving along with the moon following me as my companion, everything felt so good in the world.

I love that about this life, the way so many small details come together to make a moment.  I love all the connections happening, like connections between old friends, new people connecting for the first time, connecting new information to my own experience, and the odd connections my brain makes when it remembers things like John Philip Sousa.

I drove to Walgreen's and bought a spiral notebook with leaves on it and a fancy pen.  In the store I had a heightened sense of awareness and compassion, and everyone and everything around me seemed so special and interesting.

I took my new notebook and pen to Quack's 43rd Street Bakery, and I sat down among beautiful paintings of flowers with the most delicious chai (made with almond milk, no less), and I spewed all these words out on paper so that I wouldn't forget it.

Which seems like such a writerly thing to do, I think this was the first time I truly ever felt like a writer.  And now I share it with you.  Thanks for reading.

And I hope you've enjoyed the Yma Sumac.  If you haven't heard it yet, I encourage you to listen to what is probably her most famous song, Gopher Mambo.