Friday, April 21, 2006

Disco Delicious

This really is a terrific compilation of creamy and delicious disco goodness. Even great to hear Situation again from that cassette bargain-bin classic, Upstairs at Erics. And other then Once In A Lifetime it's all sparkling new to me. Springtime is Larry Levan time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wildfire Virus

According to this article in the Tribune, Chicago has recently been experiencing an outbreak of the Norovirus. According to the spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health, “[I]t's really such an easy virus to spread. It really takes off like wildfire.” That’s for sure.

It’s been way too long since I offered up such a hearty abundance of foodstuffs to the porcelain god and I liked it that way. Vomiting—its nauseating encroachment, attempts to avoid and the final elemental heaving—well, it’s fucking awful, isn’t it? The spadmodic inefficiency of it all. 11:00 pm. 2:00 am. 4:30 am. The primal contractions and acid tinged expulsions. And when the Norovirus is done with the stomach it sets to work on the intestines. I’ll spare you those details.

When Cathy called our pediatrician to find out what this meant for Abby (if you’re showing symptoms, stay away, otherwise wash hands thoroughly before handling the wiggliest and cutest baby in the world), the nurse who answered said that half of all calls coming in that day were regarding “stomach flu.” Folks at Cathy’s office were absent because of it. It visited me for a few days. But I’m much better now.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Out On The Wiley, Windy Moors

One of last years most welcome and pleasant surprises was Kate Bush’s lovely and heartfelt Aerial album. Over the last 20 years Bush’s music has managed to carve out a very specific and cherished niche in my music listening universe. Albums like The Kick Inside,The Dreaming, Hounds of Love, the best-of The Whole Story and The Sensual World all managed to swooningly fill that niche. I think one of the most endearing and enduring qualities about these albums is their fierce romanticism, the murmuring undercurrent of something vaguely misty and mythological-- a fairytale whiff of unicorns, witches and rainbows. All is forgiven when you hear what she's done with this. Kate Bush was and continues to be the coolest lady at your local Renaissance Faire-- she knows a little about the black arts and she plays a mean harpsichord. And she won't be handing out Elephant Ears, golden and delightfully doughy though they may be.

When her debut album, The Kick Inside, was released in 1978 she was just a wee 17 years old. Its first single, Wuthering Heights, was a big hit on the International charts, another way of saying it didn’t make much of splash in the U.S. Still, the Germans and various other European countries were hungry for expressive dance in soft focus, so Kate made a video for it.

Now, I honestly adore the video. Really, you should too. Did you check it out? You honestly should. You don’t have to watch it all, just try to make it through first minute to the chorus when things call for a few cartwheels. There’s a Talent Show histrionics about it that I find incredibly charming. There’s also a sweetness and light in witnessing a dreamy teenager bursting onto the scene with a song as odd and rich as Wuthering Heights. It moves her this way.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Own Private Hanami

This article from last week’s Economist caught my eye. I really liked this:

When the saura (cherry blossoms) bloom, Japanese people sit in parks getting raucously sloshed and contemplating the transience of life, as symbolized by those briefly spectacular flowers. Everybody agrees that alcohol heightens the experience.

It’s 75 degrees out. I have the windows open in the living room for the first time this year and dappled sunlight is giving everything a becalming golden luminescence. Since grandma has Abby for the day the incredible Remikks Potpourri is enjoying some highly audible time (“a little bit of drums, a little bit of bass!”) on the stereo. And I’m drinking a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, “alcohol 5.6% by volume.” Everybody in Japan agrees it heightens the experience. I’ll probably have another.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Viva Sweet Spring

Abby is a constant. She’s there in the woozy minutes before dawn, nestled in the cradle of my arms while my head is still thick and confused with sleep. We shuffle down the hall and up the stairs and are comforted by the first outlines of blue creeping through the blinds. She’s smiling up at me. I stop to look down at her and she’s looking right back, her eyes wide and stunned with prospects.

She talks to the fan. What must it be like, to have spent nine months, as our pediatrician told us, “in a liquid environment,” where all your insatiable nascent needs were met and encompassed by the fine tuning of one of evolutions most exquisitely calibrated vessels, only to arrive into a world where you’re suddenly dependent on two people of good intentions who are unable, however much they fumble and attempt, to fully understand the outburst of your newfound desires? Only the fan knows. We walk into each room and turn them on their lowest settings, the better to make out the contours of their solacing blades and becalming revolve. Afternoons we’ve lounged on our backs side by side watching them turn while we waved our arms in delight at their rotary charms. I don’t pretend to be learning some secret lesson from the innocence of her untainted infant wisdom—the fan is as dumb an inanimate object as our lamps and toaster, but I am prepared to indulge her for the joy it offers, the solace it provides…all the laughter it sends rippling from her and washing over me.

There are many cries. They vary in duration, intensity, emotional affect and histrionics. They roughly translate as, “I’m hungry,” “I’m tired,” “I’m bored,” “I’m sitting in a deluge of my own uncontrollable making and it truly sucks,” “I’m overwhelmed,” “I’m frightened and so very sad to find that I just woke up in my car seat alone in this dank room and I’m terribly sad—why, oh why did you see fit to abandon me this way like some unoffending gypsy cast asunder and destitute?” While each elicits a pacifying response on our part, it’s that last cry that gets me the most. It’s how when I open the door and allow the hallway light to slant in and brush aside the shadows and crouch down to where my face hovers just a few inches from her own and I see the fullest manifestation of a doleful expression I’ve ever witnessed. It’s how it reverberates and tugs and sends precision pangs tumbling through me. It’s how I pick her up and she curls into me with her legs tucked up and her head warm and pressed against my neck.

A while back I wrote about how having a baby was one of life’s great quotidian events, simultaneously mundane and irresistibly astonishing. We recognize that our own aura of astonishment naturally advances as far as the grandparents, the grandmas in particular, who share and cheer along with the minutia of our excited reports on the latest Abby astonishments. There’s also an abundance of mundane here too. It took us a while to admit that it’s okay for parenthood to occasionally have fits of dullness. There are the doldrums, for example, of Abby asleep in my lap while I sit unable to stir myself to read another line of whatever book or magazine lies before me and a fog settles along my brain. This is when we praise the genius of the iPod shuffle setting. These waves of the mundane are minor struggles and tundra soon gives way to blossom.

Abby has been with us for a little more then three months. Born fast, furious and spindly while most everybody else slept that early December morning, I remember how I first walked over to where the pediatrician and nurse were tending to her with my hands held tentatively behind my back. I remember she was awake, as most newborns are for the first couple of hours, her face turned away from me, and how when I spoke to her she turned her head, her eyes blinking against the heat lamps, and looked right at me. I remember how much I hoped she recognized my voice from all the nights and mornings I had talked to her. "Hello, my little girl," I told her, "I'm so happy to see you. I'm so glad you're finally here."