Thursday, August 31, 2006

This is how it happens

One of the results of not going to work and being in an office environment, is that you quickly lose touch with pop culture. I miss those bonding sessions of peering over a coworker's shoulder to see the latest website or video. I feel like I am the last one to the party. When Jon Stewart finally mentions snakes on a plane I rush to the computer to google it.

Somehow, when you drop out of the workforce, you become invisible. I wonder if people assume that you no longer check your email, or that you no longer get a kick out of OK go videos. Since I am last to the party on these and other internet phenomena, I can only assume that I just didn't get the invite for so many other jokes and stories. I rely exclusively on the radio for my knowledge of music, as nobody I know tells me about their favorite new musical discoveries.

I fear that this is how one becomes tragically unhip, and that I am well on my way. Almost makes me want to go back to work!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Me, so far from cool

This morning in the car on my way to Trader Joe's with the Munch in the back seat, a song came on the radio and I took one of those trips in the way-back machine inside my head. It was David Bowie's "Oh, You Pretty Things." It happens that this song comes off of one of my all-time favorite albums.

I bought the Hunky Dory cassette in a massive grocery store in a massive mall in Madrid when I was 16. I bought it because it was David Bowie, and I LOVED David Bowie. Still do. I was having a hard time and I needed new music to make me feel better. It was a splurge - I think I probably spent about $12. When I got back to my room and popped it into my Sony Walkman, I was perplexed. There was not much to like about this album. It was amateurish. The songs wandered all over the place, pulling at this piece of imagery and that, with no regard for logic, sophistication, musical norms. I kept listening. After about 10 or 12 trips through the tape, it clicked with me. To this day, Hunky Dory remains one of my favorite albums. I love how naive it is. Not even a tipping of the hat to commercial viability. The album is a tribute to what you can do when you don't have one of those little guys in your head telling you "you can't do that." And there, between the strangely brit-country "Eight Line Poem" and the charming "Kooks" you have the hauntingly wonderful "Life on Mars?" I wonder, now, how to shush my little nay-sayer so that I can find my own "Life on Mars?"

Music has a way of pulling you back into earlier times of your life. I have now completed my transformation to suburban housewife. Yet, when I hear a song, I find that all of those previous mes- the 16-year-old with the new driver's license and the black Tercel (with an orange stripe), the 20-year-old on a Spanish train with my huge bag of cassettes, the twenty-something workaholic urban dweller who lived in chunky heels - I find that these earlier versions are still there within me. I always thought when you got older these earlier versions of yourself were replaced - but now I find that they are still very much alive, just kind of sleepy at times.