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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

We sat just six rows back from the orchestra at the Schermerhorn, and waved at the Pumpkin’s classmate in a box seat nearby. He asked if there would be sound when we saw the gigantic movie screen, if we would hear the actors? I said no, it would probably just be the music of Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back. He seemed to take that in stride, then a whole family in Star Wars costumes sat down in front of us and the theatre darkened. https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/4386

Bob and I bought tickets ages ago, not knowing if another variant might strike, or immunizations for children would be approved. There had been no Nutcracker for two years, no pictures of points in time, like the yearly Big Apple Circus pictures and posters that once littered our home. First from the Berkshires, where I was standing with the Bride at a concession stand holding a pink cloud of cotton candy, just moments away from giving birth to her brother. And later from Lincoln Center, surrounded by friends and family.

Yesterday we stopped for lunch at Fifth and Broad. As we walked past the honky-tonks to the symphony center the Rocker looked up at me… no, wait, it wasn’t the Rocker it was my L’il Pumpkin.

“I know why they call this The Music City,” he said without a bit of irony.

It was only a two block walk, but we had to swerve onto Broadway just to avoid a crooner who was leaning out of a bar window, serenading a bride-to-be in white hot pants, boots and veil. Then we hopped back onto the sidewalk to avoid a pedal tavern full of tourists drinking and singing. I wondered what an alien might think of our civilization if he/she/it managed to land in our town.

Science fiction holds a special place in our family history. Bob and I first started dating in high school, and Star Trek was the weekly highlight in our developing saga. The Bride’s first real movie, in fact was Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back in 1980. She was six months old and slept through the whole thing on my lap.

But the Rocker’s obsession with Star Wars started even earlier. He cut his baby teeth on the Lucas Film space opera. He created stop-action films in our garage of its characters. Little did we know that later, after years of touring in his rock band, he would move to California and start composing Star Wars music for the trailer industry; that he would develop a company to archive cinematic sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQmIi6D38Rg

When we visited Disneyland this year, I wasn’t so sure who was more excited – my son or my grandson?

The Pumpkin’s eyes were transfixed, his energy barely contained by the seat. The Nashville Symphony musicians had tuned their instruments and were about to begin – “In a galaxy far far away” scrolled up the screen. We could hear the actors’ dialogue amidst a swelling wave of John Williams’ music. We leaned back in our seats ready for action and adventure.

I thought about bringing the toddler Rocker to his first Broadway show in NYC. We were in the front row, on top of the orchestra pit. I wasn’t so sure my little boy, my perpetual motion machine, would last through the whole play of Into the Woods. But he too was mesmerized, standing and looking at the musicians, almost willing them to engage him.

Later, in middle school, we’d won the warm-up dance contest on stage before another NYC show. We came with Grandma Ada to see Lucy Lawless, the actor who played Zena, Princess Warrior, in her Broadway debut of Grease. I was exhilarated and he was only slightly embarrassed. We both won tee shirts! He was starting his first band back then, they would play at his Bar Mitzvah.

While we Ubered home to our shared neighborhood, I asked the Grands what instrument they would love to learn to play. Their piano lessons had been on hold since the pandemic started. The Love Bug immediately said she’d like to learn how to play the guitar; thank you Taylor Swift. And the Pumpkin thought for a full minute, and then said the drums. Lucky for him, the Groom’s band keeps a set of drums in the garage apartment!

Maybe my daughter and son-in-law will host a teenage band in their garage someday too.

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You’ve heard of the expression, “Hurry up and wait?”

Well, our old house renovation had been at a standstill for awhile. We were waiting for the electrician, waiting for the custom island, waiting for our sinks to be shipped… Then, just when we landed in the Golden State, everything started up at once – the painters were stepping all over the plumber installing the tankless water heater, and naturally a piece was missing from our custom island.

Well, it’s not actually missing. Turns out, they sent us the wrong piece.

There we were, standing in another line at Disneyland, when Bob’s phone would ring with another construction problem or question. But this wasn’t like our 1980s Disney anymore! Everything is online. If you want to make a droid at the Star Wars exhibit, you’d better make a reservation. And thankfully, Uncle Dave and Aunt Kiki purchased Lightning Lane passes, so time spent waiting for rides was minimal.

It was the trip of a lifetime! To see the pure joy on our Pumpkin’s face was reason enough to go to LA, but seeing how much his Uncle enjoyed exploring “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” with him was the icing on the cake of our California adventure.

I remember the Rocker filming stop-action videos with tiny Star Wars characters in our garage when he was about the same age. He could barely balance the huge Camcorder on his shoulder. And now, my son’s company is composing music for Disney trailers. It’s Kismet.

Last night, we returned to a chilly, rainy Nashville. No more hummingbirds, no more heated pool and jasmine-lined cabana. Booking a patio table for eight is a fond memory; all eight of us together was magical, plus we spent a delightful day visiting with California cousins!

Today it’s back to reality and renovation, just the two of us, and our old dog, Bean. I’ve yet to get caught up on the news, but I’ll always fight with the Resistance.

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While Bob was gone fetching the Grands, my ears picked up a new word. Yesterday was Day Three of Grandparenting while my daughter works in her ER that is once again filled with Covid. Her shifts coincide with the Groom’s stretch of 24/7 Medical ICU coverage. Our system is that one of us drives to their house at daybreak, and returns mid-morning with the children and a certain puppy. Then the fun begins. We are committed to not making plans, and eating as much chocolate as we like.

But first, over coffee and the CBS Sunday Morning show, I heard a piece about the John Denver song, “Country Road.” The man who wrote the song was actually from Massachusetts, but he thought West Virginia fit the lyrics better. It starts out “Almost Heaven” and is universally loved because it’s about a longing for home, a kind of homesickness that is tinged with sadness – aka the Welsh word Hiraeth.

“One attempt to describe hiraeth in English says that it is “a longing to be where your spirit lives.” This description makes some sense out of the combination of words that describe this feeling. The place where your spirit feels most at home may be a physical location that you can return to at any time, or it may be more nostalgic of a home, not attached to a place, but a time from the past that you can only return to by revisiting old memories. Maybe your spirits home could even be neither of the above, one from which you are not only separated by space.”

https://www.felinfach.com/blogs/blog/hiraeth

There is no other word for Hiraeth in any language except ancient Cornish and Breton. It seems the Celts have a deep understanding of loss, one that transcends time. My immediate thought was that I’d like to be able to hug people again, to shake hands and maybe even give and get a peck on the cheek. I’d like to not wonder if I’ll need to wear a mask before I walk out the door. I’d like to return to a place where a virus wasn’t ruining running my life!

But just then the kids arrived. Could they check out the snack drawer? Who wants to play Mancala? And I swiftly returned to the present holiday/nana/camp routine. After all, we’d collected some fairy bark, moss and feathers and had to start building a fairy house. We even found a gold shell casing from a gun on our Christmas hike. I smiled when the Pumpkin turned it into a vase for some tiny flowers. He was enthralled with Bob’s Dremel tool as they carved notches into sticks.

The Bride’s hospital had so many nurses call out sick, with Covid, they had to merge the fast track into the main ER. The Groom’s ICU is expected to open another unit soon. When will the waves of illness and death stop? What will the next variant bring? I know which neighbor’s child is not vaccinated. We shake our heads and tell the Grands that some people just don’t believe in science. So we have to hang tight, to stay within our pod, again.

Today is Day Four. I don’t know how our “little doctors” (Ada’s term) do this, putting on their N95s and doing battle with a disease of the mind and body. Every day, without glory this time. No pans are banging on rooftops, no dinners are being delivered, not even on Christmas. Still, I believe we will return home someday and the secret route isn’t in memory. Hiraeth is a harmony of the soul and the spirit. Despite all the construction on our street, I can envision myself in our new/old house. We’ve already picked out the plumbing!

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It’s been a quiet, cold weekend and I’ve been noticing that Ms Bean doesn’t like to leave my side.

My rescue dog is almost 14 and doesn’t see or hear very well anymore. Besides fireworks and the usual bombs demolition going off in the neighborhood, she will only react when I sneeze. For some reason, sneezing makes her get up slowly, and walk into another room. The Vet tells us she’s doing fine for her age, but going up the stairs is an effort and her daily walks are getting shorter – like the days.

Still, when I have a little “song and dance” party by myself, Bean will rally. We were watching the CBS Adele concert last night, and she was hopping along with me to the music. The only other time she hops is just before I set down her dinner.

I loved the interruptions of the Oprah interview with Adele throughout the concert at the Griffith. Watching the sunset over Hollywood, then switching to the green and white setting in Oprah’s California rose garden was magical. It felt intimate, just two divas catching up. I had some idea Adele had been married, but no idea she was now divorced with a son. Losing 100 pounds by training and lifting weights? Not really, pretty sure I just thought she looked great. Her album “30” is like every other album title – it’s her age when she wrote the songs.

“It was exhausting, trying to keep going with it. You know, the process, the process of a divorce, the process of being a single parent, the process of not seeing your child every single day wasn’t really a plan that I had when I became a mum. The process of arriving for yourself every single day, turning up for yourself every single day, and still running a business… I felt like not doing it anymore.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-59291000

We’ve all felt like this at times in our lives. You start to wonder about your purpose, you look around at your life and you wonder how in the heck you got here. This was not THE plan you had, like Adele not planning to disrupt her child’s life with a divorce. Because her father had been an abusive, absent alcoholic, her plan was to keep a nice, cozy nuclear family humming along. But that effort was killing the British Grammy winner, and she needed to break free.

Let’s take our American Songstress Nashville version of superstardom, Taylor Swift, who also released an album this week.

Tay Tay is 32, only one year younger than Adele. Of course, I still think of Swift as a twenty-something in cowgirl boots. The Love Bug is positively in love with her! Her trajectory from country starlet to pop sensation was rather bumpy. But I remember when the news hit, about losing all her master recordings to some private equity firm – they sold for 300 Million last November.

Having raised a musician who weathered the sea change at the same time in the music business, I could empathize with Swift’s loss. It wasn’t just the money, it was about control. It was about mastering your own life, like Adele who thought that a marriage would bring her happiness. Both singers write deeply personal, emotional lyrics. Only Swift was bullied and shortchanged not by a husband, but by Scooter Braun, a music tycoon who bought her previous label and sold the rights to her last six albums.

“Swift is a calculating business owner who already recorded two albums during the lockdown simply because it was fun and she didn’t have to spend two years in Lover album promotion cycle. Why wouldn’t Swift take time to re-record her material? Imagine a private equity firm not doing enough due diligence on one of the world’s most surveilled super stars to think Swift wouldn’t take advantage of the time inside to maintain her artistic integrity. The woman once wrote a song about Katy Perry poaching employees!

One hedge fund manager who was approached to buy the catalog told FT: “To extract maximum value from music assets you absolutely need, if not co-operation from the artist, you at least need them to not be actively angry.”

https://jezebel.com/imagine-thinking-taylor-swift-wouldnt-re-record-her-son-1848043235

The artist must not be actively angry so you can commodify them. But anger can be a very good thing. Taylor took time during the lockdown to produce RED (Taylor’s Version), and I may have to run out to Target to buy a CD, if there are any left! This album is breaking Spotify records, as Braun’s hedge fund is declining. Good on you girl.

Adele is an outlier. She signed a 90 Million Euro (130M dollars) deal with Sony/Columbia a few years back and she can write her own ticket. Almost seven years ago, she waited to release her “25” album on streaming services until as many CDs as possible could be sold. This time her album “30” was simultaneously released on vinyl, CD and streaming. Despite not owning her masters, Adele has skyrocketed to super stardom. She took a more traditional musical route, and transformed it into her own.

I still remember the first time the Bride played “Rolling in the Deep” for me. “We could have had it all.” Her voice is simply devastatingly beautiful. Adele appeals to almost every age, she is a more mature Taylor. We are all learning to “process” a new normal these days; as Grandma Ada would say, we are all in transition.

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Daddy Jim could play the spoons. We’d be standing in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner, and he’d break out in a big smile while jockeying spoons like a pro! I’m not sure if anyone does that anymore, but most dads have some entertaining trick up their sleeve. Bob can pick up a guitar, start playing Puff the Magic Dragon, and even today the Bride will tear up.

But today’s dad has to compete with screens for a child’s attention. I always knew the Groom had a wicked sense of humor, I didn’t know it could be inherited. So far, he and the L’il Pumpkin like this one:

“What does the janitor say when he jumps out of the closet?”

“SUPPLIES!”

Along with helping to steer Vandy’s Covid ICU response this past year, the Groom also commandeered his whole family outside to ride bikes, he makes up silly songs with the kiddos and plays them on the piano or his guitar, and he is solely responsible for the newest member of their family of pets, a small lizard named Fred has joined forces with three canines!

In fact, the Groom is an expert fly catcher, almost Obama level, when it comes to delivering fresh food to Fred.

But what makes a dad star quality?

Time: Taking the time to listen to a child, to play, to just talk without criticism or distractions.

Creativity: Helping a child develop their artistic sense – gardening/cooking/building and painting together.

Humor: Buffering life’s ups and downs with a positively funny outlook – sometimes known as

THE DAD JOKE!

But if there’s one feature that can immediately categorize a joke as a “dad joke,” it’s wordplay, especially of the unsophisticated variety. Examples: “Hey, do you know what time my dentist appointment is? Tooth-hurty.” “You know why they always build fences around cemeteries? Because people are dying to get in.” The purposeful confusion of “smart feller” and “fart smeller.” This famous exchange: “I’m hungry.” “Hi, Hungry. I’m Dad.” 

“Most jokes rely on some semantic ambiguity or grammatical ambiguity,” Dubinsky says. “The things people call ‘dad jokes’ are the ones where the ambiguity is crushingly obvious.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/09/deconstructing-the-dad-joke/571174/

I mean, we all manage to embarrass our children, but who doesn’t love getting an eye-roll from a pre-teen. Dads like to remind their children that in fact they were once young too, and suffered from “… a combination of exhaustion and your kids laughing at anything when they’re very young, which creates a perverse incentive system and endows you with false confidence….Then you spend the rest of your life doubling down on dad jokes.”

So in effect, dads pass down their particular sense of humor in a funny, feedback-loop. Their children learn resilience, it’s hard to worry about things when your dad says, “Someday we’ll laugh at this…”

Like when the Love Bug told me her stuffed manatee’s name is “Hugh.” Get it?!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

 

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Is there some food you seem to be craving more during this pandemic lockdown? For me it’s bacon. I never used to buy bacon – even in the old days I’d buy turkey bacon, which wasn’t fooling my family at all. Now you will always find maple flavored or honey smoked bourbon bacon or just plain ole bacon bacon in my refrigerator.

In fact, we just had BLTs for lunch.

We celebrated the Rocker’s Leo birthday by sending him a Postmates gift card. Guess what he’s craving? Sushi! Then while he and Aunt Kiki were on a Left Coast dog beach, we Zoomed with the whole family, from Nashville to LA via a quarantined garage apartment. Remind me to buy the Groom a plant for his real Zoom background, or maybe he could find a good virtual background?

Celebrations can be strange in the Time of Coronavirus. Appropriately enough, I posted a picture to the Rocker’s Facebook timeline for his birthday that shows him sitting on top of Chicago. Literally. He and KiKi are seemingly floating on the Ledge of Willis Tower. I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly how I’m feeling… like I’m floating in time and space..

Like that time we went up over Charlottesville in a hot air ballon and I found out the pilot had no idea where we would land! Drifting up towards the treetops was exhilarating at first, then it quickly turned terrifying. No one had bothered to tell me that this was normal, that our landing was dependent on the wind and the nearest farmer’s field.

So I thought I would listen to another Martha Beck Insta-something this morning. She reeled me in with this topic: “The Secret to Feeling Better;” who doesn’t want to feel better??

Beck tells us that, “What we resist, persists.” Maybe this is why I can’t stop buying bacon? She is talking about emotional trauma, or the muscle pain of some new exercise. Go with the flow y’all. Now anybody who ever dropped into a yoga class has heard that one, but did you know the opposite is true?

When good things happen, and we try to grasp and hold onto them for dear life, they slip away. But more and more good things will happen if we can just detach from that overwhelming feeling of joy. We are supposed to simply meditate and find that calm center, between the extremes, because good and bad things happen all the time.

So when we resist the bad things they stay, and when we embrace the good things they leave? Beck is insisting that we get stuck when we hold on too tight. Well sorry Martha, but I’m holding onto the good things right now.

Tomorrow the Bride and the Grands will be tested for the virus, and I’m sure they will test negative. After all, they have excellent immune systems! I’m baking banana bread with chocolate chips, because I can’t let Bob win the bread-baking championship. And yesterday I did some online shopping for Great Grandma Ada, and I accept my addiction to Amazon.

While I’m grasping for good news, I’m proud to call myself a RESISTER. The Flapper always described herself as a REBEL, so it must be in my genes. I resist our plodding towards autocracy, and I resist the Trumpers who feel as if WE are the tyrants for wanting them to wear masks. The sheer audacity of their selfish, insipid belief system is staggering.

Yes, I’m supremely attached to my children and grandchildren, I admit it! Why try to detach or deny my overwhelming love for these people? I know they don’t really need me anymore; they are all tax-paying adults, who know how to order by InstaCart and cook. But do they put bacon on their turkey meatloaf?

This is me holding onto the Rocker’s Cleo for his work on Dunkirk a few years ago.

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Passing time isn’t quite like passing the salt. It’s a phrase that invokes prison, “doing time,” except in this case the whole world is on “house arrest.” We’ve all felt this way at one time or another. For Bob it was a prolonged period of treatment with interferon. For me, it was a year of trying to get pregnant again when the Bride was 3 years old, having 3 miscarriages back to back.

It’s the uncertainty, the randomness, the sheer terror of knowing we are actually NOT in control.

If you are one of those people with a strong faith, lucky you. I’ve been reading a lot on social media about God’s plan, the joy of this pandemic, and I honestly don’t get it. I mean did God really want to take out that whole young family with a tornado, then a week later come back and say: “Guess what everybody else, you need to stay right where you are because a plague is coming?” It can make even the devout have questions.

We’ve weathered our first week in isolation, and I’ve found that I’m built for something like this. I encouraged Bob to help me bake muffins. One night a friend dropped off a warm loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, it was like getting a hug! I swapped books with a friend on my porch. We listen to classical radio and play Scrabble. We walk Ms Bean when it’s not raining and wave to all the exceedingly happy dogs in the neighborhood. There will come a day, mark my words, when our fur babies will be giving us all the side-eye, as if to say;

“Aren’t you guys ever going somewhere so I can take a rest from guarding you?”

Techno-wise we’ve signed up with Marco Polo and can now send video texts. We’ve Facetimed with the Rocker and Aunt KiKi AND the Bride’s family split-screen, all at the same time. We call and Facetime Great Grandma Ada who is taking this whole thing better than any of us! Bob can visit with them through a vestibule window.

Cooking-wise, I’m sticking with comfort food. I can order from Whole Foods online and they deliver via Amazon Prime… it’s a 2 day wait but that’s fine. We order take-out from a local restaurant – 3 meals a week – and they deliver. We feel like it’s a small way to help their staff stay afloat. And I was running out of my Charlottesville granola, so Hudson Henry delivered in no time! https://www.hudsonhenrybakingco.com/

I keep having to remind Bob, “We’re in no rush.” We are all being asked to slow down – He is out there weeding, and I’m putting some pearls together to start stringing again. One of our local boutiques started carrying my necklaces; it was open for a few days after the tornado. But I feel no obligation to produce something during the quarantine, to knit a sweater say, or write a sonnet. “A Sonnet of Isolation.” Maybe next week I’ll clean out a closet? Be kind to yourself first, and the kindness is conveyed to others.

I’m the original slow-walker, slow-cooker. Bob is the original let’s jump right in and get this done NOW kinda guy.

That’s why he’s volunteered to help Vanderbilt when the tsunami hits us; he is being credentialed by the hospital to help with emergency medical care by telemedicine. This actually scares me, not because of possible exposure – he may do this from home – but because he might have to confront, serious life-and-death, ethical decisions. That’s what wartime triage is all about, who lives and who dies, and that’s a heavy burden.

I feel bad for hourly wage earners with rent checks coming due – if you know someone, why not Venmo them some cash? Every little bit helps. Know any musicians whose tours are cancelled? Pre-order Nicole Atkin’s next album “Italian Ice.” She’s an amazing singer and old friend of the Rocker and the Parlor Mob. https://www.nicoleatkins.com/  I just ordered the vinyl bundle with a tee shirt!

We were never binge TV watchers, but I’m seeing lots of requests from friends about “what to watch.” With streaming, the sky’s the limit but this is our list, and believe me we only occasionally watch ONE episode before heading to bed! Mrs. Maisel, Little Fires Everywhere, and Valhalla Murders. The whole Love is Blind thing is beyond ridiculous to me!

The other day I read a story to the Grands on Facetime….”Before They Were Authors, Famous Writers as Kids,” by Elizabeth Haidle. It was about Dr Seuss, did you know he wanted to become a professor? Here are our banana bran muffins!

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When I wrote an essay about Prepping, it was almost tongue in cheek. We did order more dog food and got ahead on prescriptions. We picked up some things at the grocery store, including Spam, and my freezer was soooo full. Then the tornado hit – my freezer is now empty.

Oh, and I didn’t buy toilet paper!

Now this tsunami of a pandemic is about to hit us all, and since Bob and I are 71 we’re at risk. We’re both pretty healthy but a virus will not discriminate. We figure it’s best to stay home for the most part, and keep a distance of 6′ if we need to venture out to a store or when walking Ms Bean. In fact, this morning we went to our local Kroger and it was pretty empty of people. Lo and behold, their shelves were stocked, except for toilet paper.

Everyone must think they are still closed because of the tornado!

So, what to do with ourselves while we are stuck at home? I’ve been seeing lots of posts online about parents wondering what to do with their children now that schools have closed for the foreseeable future. Most teachers have sent workbooks home, and there are plenty of online learning opportunities, like this free Scholastic site: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/15/us/scholastic-coronavirus-students-trnd/

But let’s not forget FUN! My suggestions are: 1) Subscribe to Disney Plus, at least you’ll know you can still take a shower; 2) Plan a scavenger hunt around the house; 3) Play games, our favorite card game right now is “Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza!” you can find it on Amazon Prime for $9.99; 4) Recycle all the cardboard boxes you get by turning them into art projects; 5) I love the book “Stitch + String Lab for Kids, 40 creative projects to sew…” by Cassie Stephens. The L’il Pumpkin made an excellent pizza pillow; 6) Involve the kiddos in cooking and baking and they will reward you by actually eating; and finally check out Pinterest!

Now what about us? How are we supposed to stay sane while everybody is avoiding us cause we’re over 60? Since I was raised an only child, I feel as if I have an advantage; after all I love stringing necklaces, reading and writing and cooking – all mostly solitary activities. So I plan on digging out my almost finished novel and maybe actually finishing it! Bob bought a small lawn mower, and planted our raised bed – it may not be 14 acres, but he’s happier with his hands in the dirt.

We’ve got a few streaming sites we need to catch up with – we just started the 3rd season of Mrs Maisel, and I’m loving The Hunters on Amazon Prime. Can’t wait to watch Hillary on Hulu too! And don’t forget The Crown! There’s almost too much content out there now. Some nights we play Scrabble, or just talk and listen to music. I feel sorry for people living alone, so check up on your neighbors.

IN NYC, a woman in my sister Kay’s building called to say her daughter was home from college and could go grocery shopping for her. It’s those random acts of kindness that will keep our society whole, like Italians singing on their balconies.

Here ‘s how I see it. We raised our family in the Berkshires where a good Nor’easter could take out power for a long time – we had a wood stove and snow to play and ski in….We lived on the Jersey Shore where a flood took our cars and old kitchen appliances right out of the garage – we got a generator and moved right back in… With a little common sense and social distancing (and maybe some toilet paper and hand sanitizer which I CANNOT find anywhere) we will all be just fine.

Remember to breathe and try to stay in the present. And limit your news consumption, your mind will thank you. Lotsa love and virtual hugs from Nashville, where the Broadway bars have closed and we have 17  cases of confirmed Coronavirus so far. Here are the Grands shipping themselves back to Hawaii!

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Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

What was it about the Nashville Symphony on Sunday night? Steve Hackman, a young conductor from LA, walked out to the podium with his long arms and long curly hair and faced the audience, telling us how he came to compose “The Times They Are A-Changin: The Words and Music of Bob Dylan.” He introduced the first violin; behind the orchestra sat row upon row of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, over a hundred voices strong.

As Hackman raised his baton to conduct one of the first pieces, “Tangled Up in Blue,” I could feel the knot in my throat constricting. Admittedly, I was already feeling blue – from the never-ending rain and the political parody of the last few years – from a week-long insult to our collective intelligence that was playing itself out on the Hill. I was feeling discouraged, resigned to a president who was like a demagogue, with an attorney general guarding his flank, and a lapdog/senator, who did his bidding.

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wondering if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red

As the music swelled and the chorus of voices swept through the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, Bob and I looked at each other. This evening would turn out to be a metaphor for our lives together, for the 60s and the 70s; tender yet explosive at times. We somehow knew, through war and divorce, we would find our way back to each other. We would meet again “…someday on the avenue.” Next came “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

And it ain’t no use in turning on your light, babe
The light I never knowed
And it ain’t no use in turning on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road

I forgot what it was like to be immersed in a musical experience, to close my eyes and allow the strings and chords to penetrate my soul. This wasn’t an Italian opera, the words were in English and they defined my generation. Tears were slowly rolling down my cheeks by the time the chorus began “I Shall Be Released.” Is this a plea for death to come, to cover us like a well-worn blanket? The last phrase is about standing in a lonely crowd, next to a man who swears he’s not to blame…”Crying out that he was framed.”

Any. Day. Now. Any day now, we shall hear what our senators are willing to do to keep their seats, to retain their power. Will they continue to cover-up his perfect phone call? To pretend our president wasn’t granting favors to other authoritarian leaders around the world?

In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, for having created “New poetic expressions within the great American Song tradition.” He put off traveling to Stockholm to receive his medal, finally giving a reluctant speech about his influences in literature from grade school:  “Moby DickAll Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.”  Songs, he tells us, are unlike literature, they’re meant to be sung, not read.”

Finally, Dylan quoted The Odyssey: “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story.”

In this New Chinese New Year, have I become just another Cassandra, writing prophesy that no one will believe, warning my readers that our democracy is at a tipping point. That we are doomed to repeat the past if we simply stand by and do nothing. Nixon knew enough to leave, and Clinton knew enough to apologize for lying. This lying, malicious president knows nothing, which is far worse.

Today is T’ai Chi Tuesday, a form of mindful meditation. I will find my center, and try to balance the dark with the light. I will keep calling my senators, will you?

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My Nashville family has returned home from New Zealand and Australia. They Ubered straight from the airport to their home, just a few hours after we’d tucked the Grands into bed. Bob and I were happy no bones had been broken during our tenure. Well, just my left thumb, when a basketball landed straight on it in the Sound Waves pool. This was ostensibly the highlight of their week with us, the biggest water park in the world!! (maybe) at the Grand Ole Opry; but for me it was always those tender bedtime talks.

I found out that the L’il Pumpkin loves school. He really loves learning, and can now count by tens! He also plays alphabet Go Fish with aplomb, proving he’s ready to read. And the Love Bug is so sweet she offered to finish singing my Yiddish lullabies because my Fall cold was having its most severe effect on my throat. In fact, my croaking voice wasn’t relaxing at all, it only made them giggle.

Pop Bob had fun fixing little things around their house. Like any good pilot, he had his checklist of things to do – new batteries for the dogs’ invisible fence collars, fix master bathroom door, replace the silverware holder in the dishwasher. I texted my daughter in the middle of their trip, asking her if they might mind all this fixing-up? Great Grandma Ada had once warned me about stepping on the toes of in-laws.

The Bride replied, “You are welcome to fix as much as you’d like!”

After all, they are a busy professional couple. The Groom was accepting an award for his Vanderbilt research in Melbourne, at the World Congress of Intensive Care in collaboration with Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS). As much as we’d like to think the world is flat and connected by technology, there is still something to be said for actually meeting up, face to face, with others around the globe doing research in your field.

Still, we could Facetime with them after meeting a koala! And I could pull out my smart phone at Sound Waves and slo-mo video the Love Bug under a waterfall!

I was reminiscing with Bob about his primitive use of early video cameras, the kind you hoisted on your shoulder in the 80s. Just then the Rocker texted us – did we happen to have that stop-action film he made in our NJ garage with his Star Wars action figures? He was just about the Bug’s age when he and a friend would spend hours recording Luke Skywalker’s adventures in minute detail. If the weather wasn’t conducive for a trip to the beach, creativity ensued on that cement floor.

The L’il Pumpkin and Pop Bob assembled an incredible Star Wars battle station in Legos while I drove the Love Bug to basketball practice one night last week. And just like that, this morning, my son and his new company Totem has released another amazing Star Wars trailer, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

All those years ago, in our garage with his imagination, and later with his bandmates. Music was always playing in his mind and through his fingers. I am trying to convince the Bride that we should all be Star Wars characters for Halloween because,  “The Story Lives Forever.” Here are our little Jedi Knights at the museum.

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