Friday, October 1, 2010

The Times They Are October'n

Ah, October, my favorite month.

This morning I drove Annabelle to her Strings class. She is learning to play "America" on her viola. On Fridays the Strings students meet at 7:00 am at Corinth School, then they are bussed back to Tomahawk. On the way to Corinth, she asked me if it was October. "Yes, it's October 1st!" I said gaily. She said she liked October. "What do you like about it?" I asked. She replied, "Tornadoes are rare."

Upon my prompting, she added that she also liked the way October smelled--it smelled like fall--and there was Halloween to look forward to.

After dropping her off, I continued on to a coffee shop. I take advantage of the ungodly hour of Friday morning Strings to hole up somewhere and write. The barista this morning is friendly, and reveals himself to be a kindred soul. You just never know where these people are going to turn up. He's going to Chicago soon to study literature. I asked him what type of literature he liked. He mentioned several things, including Dostoevsky, which I've never read, but probably should. He recommended "The Idiot." But he also said he liked contemporary philosophers. Who they? I asked. Who counts as a contemporary philosopher? He said you had to look for them, because most renowned philosophers of the past weren't really recognized until after they were dead. THEN he said he liked a lot of the Beatnik stuff. Well, I about died. He said he's obsessed with that and Bob Dylan. Well, shut my mouth. He is very young, and it's good to know someone born after 1980 can dig such 20th century relics.

He was in control of the coffee shop's soundtrack this morning, and it was Bob Dylan all the way. All manner and types of Bob Dylan, from scruffy folk tunes like "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" to the electrified wailing of "Idiot Wind," to his more wizened stuff of late.

What a fantastic way to start off October! It reminds me, I must download more Bob Dylan on my little Nokia music phone.

Now that brings me to another subject. Last week Roger showed me that I could plug my music phone into his external Ipod speakers--a big step up from my phone's speakers, which are the size of a stub of pencil lead. I was like, "This is great! This is awesome!" He pointed out how strange it is that now we are excited if we can play our little digital music files on something besides an ear bud. Yet 20 years ago, we were listening to our music on big-ass speakers. And I thought, "That is messed up." With all the advances in technology, what have we really gained? Yes, we have incredible access to hundreds of songs at the touch of a button, and we can take our music anywhere. But---we're listening to it through these little tinny speakers. WTF. Someday, so help me, when we have more living space, I am going to go vinyl. I am going to listen to albums again on big-ass speakers. We have our old stereo and turntable, but it's tucked away in the bedroom, and there is no place to put my old lps, except in the hot upstairs area. All those Bob Dylan albums, warping. Sigh.

Blood on the Tracks was the 2nd record album I ever bought. The first was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I had heard Sgt. Pepper's at Michele's, through headphones, and was mesmerized, especially by "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite". I bought Blood on the Tracks because I had heard so much about Bob Dylan, and was determined to discover what all the fuss was about. The first few listens didn't enlighten me. Then, with each rotation, I started hearing more and more things I liked--the unique character of Dylan's voice, the excellent guitar-harmonica-organ instrumentals. And finally, I got it.

I still remember those first two albums, Blood and Sgt. Pepper's, the pioneers in my collection, and how lonely they looked, leaning against the wall in my upstairs bedroom. I didn't even have a stereo on which to play them. Laura still occupied the downstairs bedroom, and wasn't keen on me going down there to use the record player. Ha! She wasn't keen --that's putting it mildly! She thrashed me senseless when she discovered I'd snuck down there while she was out partying with her friends. That record player was old and outdated anyway, so I knew I had to find the money somehow, to buy a stereo. But how? Where? There was only one place in town I knew of, and even though both Michele and Laura had warned me against it, I trotted down to the Dairy Bar one fall day and asked Frances G. for a job. And that was how I earned the $200 I needed to buy the cheap Sound Design stereo set that I took to college with me. Music has always been a great motivator for me.

By the time I left for KU, I had amassed a substantial collection of lps, both 60's/70's stuff, like the Beatles and Dylan, and new wave bands, like Split Enz and Squeeze. When mom protested about how many albums I wanted to transport to Lawrence, via the back seat of the car, I cried, "These are my life!" Maybe a little dramatic, but I felt they absolutely were the thing that sustained me.

So here I am now, a middle-aged woman, content, or maybe resigned, to listening to music through a speaker the size of a tin can. Too busy to download music onto my phone, too preoccupied to discover new bands. That's okay I guess --I probably don't need music filling my head constantly, like I did when I was a teenager. I'm listening to other things now --the voices of my kids, Garrison Keillor, and what is sometimes the most blissful of all --the sound of silence.

But hearing all that Bob Dylan this morning was a very happy thing --a sign that October has already started working its magic! That and the lack of tornadoes.


  1. OMG I didn't know you worked in the Dairy Bar!!! I thought you and Laura had the cushy library jobs.

  2. Ohhhhhh yes, I put my time in at the Dairy Bar. My sophomore year of high school. It so totally sucked. And I nearly had to work there for Old Settler's of 1980---which would have sucked even harder. But Mary Daniels rescued me, by offering me a job in the library. Laura had worked there, yes, which I guess helped her to think of me when it came time for her to fill the position again. Plus the fact that I was so awesome and a regular homie at the library. So I started that summer, right before Old Settler's --Frances was hopping mad --and worked there my junior and senior year of high school. It was a good gig, the start of my library career!

    But I PAID my DUES at the Dairy Bar. I was there for PHEASANT HUNTING season!

  3. um..excuse me... what poetic license...what fantasy: thrashed you senseless?? NEVER HAPPENED!!

  4. Wow, the Dairy Bar seems to have been a rite of passage for my sisters. I'm kinda glad I missed out on that one.

  5. i never worked it. my hell was ricketts theaters. drive in and indoor. but...i have heard the horror stories about the dairy bar. i think mich was the first. lots of grease, and hard work, with not much pay,,along with a really REALLY bitchy boss. least, that's what i heard. hey...i got stories about mr. ricketts...the cheap sob.

  6. Yeah, Frances, was a SUPER bitch. She called me a space case. I'd go home smelling like french fry grease and Clorox. She would go across the street to their gas station, and tell me to call her if it got busy. But I didn't want her to come back, so I wouldn't call her, and the orders would pile up....HELL. I think she had a big dark mole on her forehead.

  7. yes! i do remember a mole!! i remember mich coming home smelling like grease. if ever a place of business needed an expose,,the dairy bar did! there was no happiness there.