Thursday, May 26, 2011

Conway Twitty: "Goodbye Time"

I might have a baby soon, and so I want to leave this video with you until I'm back. It's not a song I knew before finding this video, and it's kind of an 80s style recording, but I love the emotional performance. That's one of the things I love about Conway—how much he puts himself into his voice. And it's always kind of comforting. Like when I hear a Conway song, it feels as though I've come home. Weird, because I only became a fan a few years ago after buying a record on a whim.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Families, Lies, and Cicadas...What?

I feel as though I've stumbled on a a kernel of wisdom and that it's my duty to share it. It's not much, really, only that the great lie I bought into earlier in my life is really just that: a lie.

I guess there might be caveats, and I'll get to them in a minute, but the lie is this: your job is to grow up, get your degree (or your professional training or whatever it is), and move away from home, to strike out on your own and become rich or successful....far away from mom and dad.

For some people maybe this formula works. I guess, if you have a family you can hardly stand or you really think your career is you, that YOU, are not made up of a long line of ancestors who sacrificed their all to bring you into the world (I don't know, maybe they sucked or something), and you really don't NEED familial support. Maybe it works. Maybe the thing I'm calling a lie or a fallacy is your truth.

But I tend to think that universally, humans require each other. And the each other we have been designed into, is a family unit. So we're lucky in that sense—that automatically if all goes well, we're born into a network that's interested in our survival and willing to make sacrifices on our behalf. We grow up and are bonded to them not just through blood, but through the recognition that no one else on this earth cares more about us than our family.

Of course, I do speak of the best case scenario. There are people who truly do have families that struggle, that can't get it right, that are not enlightened enough to recognize the value of these things. Hopefully that will change, for them.

Mainly I'm talking about myself, anyway, because I'm tired of living far away from my family. It was fun at first and I learned a lot about myself and it made my relationship with Stoker really strong. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

But we've been gone for a while now, and our siblings have had kids and their kids are growing up fast and reaching milestones in their lives and the rest of our family will gather for things and be together and make the next generation of our family feel loved and supported—which is so important, I believe—and I'm not there.

Yes, when I was growing up, my siblings bugged the crap out of me. We fought and got irritated with each other, but sometimes we got along. That was pretty rare, I'm sure. The only thing I wanted was to get out on my own and not feel them breathing down my neck, telling me what to do (somehow, in my family, I fell into the role of being the One Who Needed to Be Bossed Around the Most...seriously. I got no respect, and I'm not even the youngest!).

But now that we're adults, they're the people I love the most out of everyone in the world, and I admire them the most and best of all, and even with how stupid and annoying I am (from time to time, on rare occasions), they still love me and want to be around me.

Problem is, now we all live in different states and I live the furthest away.

BUT, maybe I'd never appreciate my family as much as I do without having been (essentially) living in exile out here in this jungle. Right now I can hear the 13-year cicadas (Magicicada, Brood XIX) going crazy in the trees through the closed windows and WITH the air conditioner running, and I'm dying to be back in the arid desert of Utah. Yes, yes, it was voluntary that I came here and so it's unfair of me to call it exile. However, I've been trying to get back out there for years now (one way or another).

Also, I have to say that I appreciate the climate of Utah much better now than I ever did before. I found out, living here, that I have the desert and mountains in me and I'm out of place in a humid subtropical region.

I'll feel out of place until I can be back out there permanently, where my internal geography matches up with my surroundings. Some people move away and love it better than what they left behind. Others of us move away and feel homesick.

In any case. The big lie is that family holds you back. That every kid should grow up and strike out on their own, far away from home. The only thing that does is make you feel disconnected. What connects us to the human family is the family we're given at birth. If you have a crappy family, of course, that sucks, but you can build your own. That's the beauty of it—we're all given the power to create. Individuals with unhappy, dysfunctional families can build their own. Hopefully one that's not unhappy and dysfunctional.....

Family remembers who you are. And is it really necessary to leave that behind to succeed in the world? If so, I don't like that kind of success.

And so, without further ado, here are some pictures of the cicadas outside making an electrical mating sound almost as loud as a jet engine. I kid you not. And if the pictures aren't very good, take it up with my Motorola Droid :). It's his fault.

Empty exoskeletons on the underside of leaves. These are on the crepe myrtle in my yard.

The discarded exoskeletons surrounding the same crepe myrtle. 

Close-up of one of the exoskeletons.

An adult cicada of the Magicicada genus.

My neighbor just started mowing his lawn. Guess who's louder? That's right. Cicadas: 1, Mower: 0.

In case you're wondering, I'm pretty sure there are NO cicadas in Utah. Hmmmm. Welp. Maybe there are and I simply never noticed them before.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Conway Twitty: "Easy Loving"

This is one of my favorite songs.

It's getting harder to find live recordings of the great old country songs, especially with embedding enabled. If you ask me, and I know you wonder what I think, this is a really stupid move for the labels. How do they think music spreads these days? Youtube. Sharing. Embedding. When I hear a great song from a video, what do I do? I go buy it. It's not rocket science.

I posted a song by the Civil Wars recently, but I only bought the album because I could hear the entire song from the bands' YouTube video. The small sample provided by wasn't enough to make me feel like buying it. So what I'm saying is that Universal and Arista and whoever owns the rights to all the live TV recordings done by the legends of country music, should be drudging up the videos from their archives and posting them on YouTube for younger audiences to find. And they will find it. And they will end up buying it.

Duh. It's like I have to hold their hands or something. They have no idea what's going on. I guess that's why all the studios in Nashville are closing down—because, like all the industries that are currently becoming obsolete, we have dinosaurs running things.

Anyway, I love Loretta and Conway together. Not all the songs, mind you—admittedly some of them are um, crappy. But the good ones are really, really good. I almost posted a 1980s live recording of Conway at the CMAs, just because it's awesome despite being so 1980s country. But I know my audience loves the old southern suits and polyester styles worn by country artists prior to the 80s. And deep down, EVERYONE is secretly in love with Conway. Women and men.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not Being "the Best" and Contemplating a Possible Move. Plus Some Stuff About Vaccines.

So the past couple weeks I've been getting bigger and more miserable. That's why I've disappeared, sort of. It'll happen.

Plus I had company for a few days and then I was recuperating from having people stay at our house, and things just keep spiraling out of control. Did I mention that I was also undergoing a rigorous re-interview process to keep my job? Yes, that was fun too. I had to take a couple personality tests and editorial tests and just a bunch of crap.

And then I found out I'm apparently not one of "the best." Because the company wanted to assemble "the best team possible moving forward." Or some nonsense like that. So in January, I'll be asked to leave. January. But to get a severance, I must continue to come to work and do a "satisfactory job." Until January. I'm glad it's just "satisfactory," because that's obviously the best I can do. You know, not being "the best" and all that.

Anyway, I came to work today and the two lights above my desk have completely burned out. They were going slowly. There are like three or four lights in each fixture, but today they've all burned out. I'm in darkness here. I feel a little bit like Milton, from Office Space. I think that's his name. Tomorrow I'll show up and won't have a desk. Or it will be in the tiny store-room where people go to spray crap on artwork.

See, I've been really honorable, I like to think. I've worked here for almost five years and during that time, though the temptation has been extremely profound, I've never stooped to writing about the workplace. By writing about it, I mean really making fun of everyone and everything here.

And what has my honor gotten me? What does honor EVER get anyone? Usually nothing.

I guess the point of honor is to just be honorable. There's not really a reward, except the reward of an eternally clean conscience. I do like having that.

But I also wish I'd thrown caution to the wind and done more writing about the ridiculous. I love the ridiculous. And there's loads of it here. This place is ripe for parody. Even better than "The Office." The problem is that I tend to suffocate anything that I consider a base desire. And sarcasm and humor at the expense of others has always seemed base to me.

Yet, do I care now? I work in the publishing industry and it's crumbling. I only started working here four and a half years ago and since then, the only thing this company has done is lay people off. I'm actually surprised I lasted this long. So, really, while they've been paying me to come to work every day, they've also really instilled this crazy sense of instability into all their employees. "At any minute, YOU TOO could lose your job. So don't ____ with us."

Welp. At least I'll have my benefits long enough to have the baby. Right? Silver lining.

One thing that's been really consuming me, now that I have enough outfits for a newborn, is diapers. It's weird. I'm not exactly Misses eco-friendly or anything, but the thought of throwing away a trillion disposable diapers disgusts me. Especially after living through the late eighties and seeing the piles of disposable diapers in the landfills. Remember that? I think we got to see them in a the Scholastic Weekly Reader. They were brainwashing us early, those environmentalists.

So my younger sister got me on the cloth diaper thing. And of course I keep realizing I need more diapers. So then I spend several hours researching which wool diaper cover I want or what fitted cloth diaper will be good for the nighttime. And I read forums. Like Diaper Swappers. (I apologize for the abrupt change of pace, going from discussing my job to cloth diapers, but I really wanted to address something that's been bugging me since I read it.)

The other day I was researching nighttime cloth diapering solutions for newborns and I stumbled across a thread where one forum-poster listed herself as being the wife of so-and-so, the mother of so-and-so, and other neat facts about herself and her family, one of them being "non-vax."

You heard me. Yes, she's bragging about endangering the rest of her community. Unless, of course, she lives out in the woods alone, or something.

Bragging about endangering the children of other parents. I mean, that's something else, really. Baffling. It's not enlightenment. It's sheer stupidity and selfishness. This is particularly important to me right now because there have been several cases of outbreaks in Utah, where I'm from, of diseases that should be gone, and the numbers of people who are not vaccinated seem to be growing. And of course, those diseases are spread by the people who have consciously chosen to not vaccinate their children.

Recently there was a measles outbreak, spread by an unvaccinated family who went to Poland. There have also been several cases of pertussis (which requires a booster shot for adults to not spread it to babies and children). Now that I'm about to have a family of my own, we've been hoping to move back to Utah. Why stay here now, right? I haven't been selected as "one of the best" to be on the team "of the best." It's like the choice made itself.

So anyway. Do I want to go back to that apparent hotbed of unvaccinated deep-thinkers? It's the LDS crowd who are doing it, I think (not to insult them. I'm LDS myself).  People on the outside—especially ex-LDS members—love to call Mormons sheep. But actually, in many ways they're extremely thoughtful. To the point of blaming vaccines for things that are not the fault of vaccines. And thus we have this high population of unvaccinated individuals spreading disease. And bragging about being non-vax. And going abroad to parts of the world where extremely contagious diseases still run rampant. Like Poland.

I propose isolating all conscientious vaccine-objectors in the Pacific Northwest where they can hang out together and die together of measles, mumps, and rubella, in addition to pertussis and polio (it's totally going to make a comeback). Who better to surround yourself with?

The problem I have with them not isolating themselves in an area with others like them is that they benefit from the willingness of everyone else to become vaccinated by mingling in regular communities of people who blindly (to the objector's mind) submit to vaccination. Without all those other people taking precautions (and, in their minds anyway, taking the vaccine risk), the unvaccinated would be in more danger. And it will sound callous, but they deserve to be in danger because they made a choice.

Yes, the children had nothing to do with the choice. It's the parents gambling on their child's life and it's sad that they don't value it more.

The problem is partly that there are specific vaccines infants can't get until they're older. But the diseases don't wait to strike until the baby has been vaccinated. A three week old baby can die from pertussis, who can't get the vaccine until six months. And yes, babies do die from pertussis.

All this to say that, to me, at least, bragging about being a conscientious objector to vaccines is tantamount to bragging about speeding through a school zone when school's just let out. You're endangering a community and you don't give a crap. It's all about you and your individual choice, made at the expense of a community that needs herd immunity to protect itself from the ravages of deadly diseases. So, good job. You're really awesome and smart and waaaaaaaay more enlightened than the jerks who just let the doctors vaccinate them like mindless beasts in a feed yard. Yep. The rest of us are just cattle. Moo!