Saturday, September 01, 2007

Late Night Listening VI

Tonight's selection, "Down at the Twist and Shout" by Mary Chapin Carpenter, is apropos on several levels.

I heard this tribute to Zydeco a few days ago on the X-Country channel (XM-12, Americana/alt country). It just so happened to coincide with the day that the headlines brought news of the observance of the second anniversary for the devistation that Hurricane Katrina visited upon the Gulf Coast. The song's lyrical passage:
A gulf storm blowing into town tonight
Living on the delta's quite a show
They got hurricane parties every time it blows

seems hauntingly ironic some seventeen years after its release.

The fall of 2005 was a precursor to the story chronicled in this blog. I was moving into the closing days of my employment at Tungsten Technology of the Silicon Prairie. I was unhappy with my job. I was unhappy with my wife. We were in month 15 of what would be an 18 month drought wherein she offered quarterly mercy fucks. By the time that she made her offer in October, I turned her down.

The idea of divorce had crossed my mind, but I couldn't bring myself to talk about it. It was for the better because I still had a lot of issues of my own to deal with, and I had no idea of just how much her spending had compromised our financial position.

In a way, the fall of 2005 was something of a double witching hour on my life. I was 36 at the time. It was the 24th anniversary of my parents separation. In essence, I had tripled my age since that horrid milestone. It also hit me that I had doubled my age since entering college, even though didn't seem all that long ago. With a marriage and a career seemingly adrift, I felt like a total failure.

There aren't many songs where I remember the first time I heard the recording. For "Down at the Twist and Shout", I do for some reason. I was shopping at the Target up at the Princess City in the fall of 1991, and the video for the song was playing on some of the demo TVs. I had just started my studies in graduate school in the Land of Touchdown Jesus.

At that stage in my life, I mostly loathed country music. My dad was into classic rock. My mother was into R&B. My paternal grandparents were fans of Big Band and Standards. I acquired a taste for alternative from a closeted friend in high school. I had picked up a love of both classical music and blues from friends at college. I looked upon the rise of pop Country in the early 90s as a form of white flight from the top 40.

Yet, I liked this song. I had never really been exposed to music from the Bayou Country, so this song had a refreshing feel to it. It also was one of the first of many instances where I began to realize that there were some beautiful harmonies to be found in Country, if you knew where to look for them. Nowadays, I enjoy Alt Country, Bluegrass, Folk, and Zydeco (XM-12 has a weekly show for it), all thanks to the wonders of satellite radio.

Finally, this song's is relevant in another more timely way. I mentioned earlier this week how I learned that the stresses of my life are starting to take a physical toll.

I vented about this to a very faithful blog reader a few days ago, and the reader suggested, and then demanded (grinning as I type this), that I start doing some nice things for myself, like spending some time out of the house seeing live music or reading a good book.

Something as simple as this has been difficult for me to do. I've had a really hard time winding down mentally the past couple weeks. Between the stresses of the standards body work and preparing for upcoming job interviews, it was tough to avoid an entropic consciousness. Shifting gears into fun mode in times like this is like taking your car out of fourth gear and throwing it immediately into reverse.

Then there are the remnants of Nice Guy Syndrome, the part of me that guilts me out of asserting myself. It plays itself out in statements like, "You're going to be leaving your wife eventually, don't you think it's a bit selfish not to want to spend time with the kids or at least help out with the house?" Or, even better, "You don't have enough money in the bank to go out and spend money on a cover charge and some adult beverages!"

Then there's the check-mate, "You know your wife will get all bent out of shape if you say you're going out for a drink by yourself. She's either going to worry about you drunk driving because you have a sissy's tolerance for alcohol, or she'll think you're going out to meet someone else."

Don't worry, I'm getting ready to put the smackdown on Mr. Nice Guy. He doesn't take into account that my wife has been able to get out of the house quite a bit lately, both for errands and for fun. She's not really done much with respect to housework, and has cooked only on average a couple times a week for the past month. This is not an overworked woman.

I did manage to make it to the library this afternoon, and I picked up something with a plot no less. I'm reading Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, a satire on intergenerational warfare between the Baby Boomers and Generation X.

I've also been scoping out the local alternative newspaper's website for where to find live music. Once this coming hell week is passed, I'm treating myself to either a night at a local famous blues bar or one of a couple of venues for live jazz.

On Friday, I had lunch with a reader/blogger who is local to the area. To the best of my knowledge, that person is only the second such person to have met me in real life. The company was quite enjoyable, and it was a nice break from the isolation of my otherwise empty office.

I am taking some vacation time this coming week to do traveling interviews. I am heading out to the West Coast twice. I'm up in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday, interviewing with Broadshoulder Broadsides. On Friday, I'm in the Bay Area (sans flowers in hair) to interview with Pack-the-Pipe. The night before, I am planning on making a social call at the Drunken-Sober residence, which should be quite a pleasant change of scenery. I hear that there's one member of the residence who's quite fond of XM-12, no less.
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