Have you ever felt like a fool? The image I came up with is the court jester: colorful hat full of bells. If every fool wore the bell hat, it is the only music we would hear. Mine would be the loudest of all. Things have just been out of kilter lately. I know you out there have had those days. For me it has been weeks, and the hat still fits me just right until…
At nine forty-five or so last night, everything was done for the day, and since everyone was busy I stole away to my piano. All my life, I have been infused with gospel music, and this is what I love to play. My neurons can do nothing else. For some unknown reason, though, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog crying all the time,” kept singing in my ears. My ever twirling blond mind was working over time. I could visualize Elvis with his microphone, the early years, and belting out the hound dog blues. So, I started to play. I apologize to Elvis because it ended up having a slow gospel feel that was colored by a “Bridge over troubled water” feel. Before long, I was playing the tune, “This little light of mine,” and I remembered such pure happiness. Such as when being late for Sunday School was the biggest problem in life. I don’t think the neighbors, if we had any close by, would think of the word happiness. I was so scrambled from the fierce horrible combination of genres that I couldn’t visualize Elvis anymore, and ended up on a saxophone driven blues side of, “…and I’m going to let it shine.” For some eternally strange reason I am stuck on, “…little light of mine,” and all of the improvisations that work through my fingers. I ended up laughing which is just what I needed! So long to my visualization abilities I spoke of in another post. I think the fool’s hat fell off somewhere in between the hound dog and little light. I stopped the music when my Dad was gone; he wouldn’t have approved. Let the music roll on.
With my sweet Dad being such a wonderful force in my life, I can’t complain about my childhood. The only thing I would change is the ability to take piano lessons early, and from someone who actually knew what they were doing. Since, I have mostly been my own teacher all the sound blame is mine. But the piano is an escape. It takes you to another world, and everything else falls away. Perhaps I can explain with my helpless use of the English language lately, I will try. It is a world that lets you feel life deeply, and then it is a world that helps you let things go. It is Brando standing on the stoop calling passionately to Stella. It is Rocky running up and down the steps, and counting them as a measure to his dream. It is that moment in Lord of the Rings when the king is crowned, his true love steps through the crowd, and peace finally rules the earth. And it is the tragedy of a broken family in Warrior as evidenced by the scene of a relapsed drunken father leaning on an unforgiving son…who does forgive. It is joy, faith, love, sorrow, life turned upside down and inside out expressed with a musical scale. That can’t happen on a keyboard you say? But that is how it feels to feel the music, and love it back. The music takes over, and you, the true instrument, are just not important at all. The music plays you; maybe you know what I mean. Perhaps, you could tell me what it means to you!
Now, all of this talk of music leads me to Vivien. She lived next door. Here in Boondockville that can mean 20 acres away. She was born in Po-dunk-ville then moved to her metropolitan dream, worked at a job where she met, and socialized with influential people. In her seventies, she was still attractive, tall, had gorgeous blue eyes and a shock of red hair that couldn’t be missed. I could just imagine her at 25. Talking was her life. She was smart, energetic, and her attitude was vivacious. She and my Dad would happily argue over God and life. They both felt victorious! She knew so many famous people that I got a tad suspicious. Especially when she told me that she wanted her cremated body buried in a mayonnaise jar. I am not betraying a confidence, believe me, Vivien would tell you more, and then some, without a doubt. But years later, she showed me “evidence” that someone was working on a book, and wanted her help via facts and photos. It was true! Really it wasn’t too unbelievable knowing her fiery talk-to-me personality, and beauty days. I didn’t really care who she knew! I liked her just as Vivien. Later, she unraveled more of her life. Her husband was killed driving down the highway almost home from a guitar gig, and almost to the Thanksgiving meal she was preparing with his Mom. She talked about what a wonderful musician he was, and his songs. They were too young for such nonsensical tragedy. All tragedy is nonsense.
Yes, her husband played guitar as back up to Elvis before the world fell in love with the mania of Elvis. She said she griped Elvis out once yelling that he better not be late again. He was late for a show. She said that he was just as sweet as could be calling her “maam”, and telling her that he and the boys just stopped for burgers. When she was telling me the story her hands were waving; she was still mad about it. I can see her telling him off! This is the same woman who was told by the ambulance driver that she couldn’t get in the back of the ambulance. Vivien’s mother had a brain tumor, and needed to be driven three hours away for surgery. Vivien pushed the door open wider, and stayed. He had no choice! I miss Vivien! I gave her a painting when she left. She said this town wasn’t big enough for her. I agreed!
I hope you aren’t asleep by now. The mayo jar concept should have kept you awake….maybe!! Thanks for reading fellow bloggers. What are words if there is no one to read them?
I know they are pretty and glossy under that glass, and just the slightest touch turns the page….such effortless love. But I just can’t fall in love with E books. The frumpiness of a used book calls me from my bookcase to remember good times. There is, The Best Loved Poems of the American People, with notes and stars in the margin. My Dad leant it to me many times, and after he was gone I found a note for me on the inside cover, ”Final owner by decree of the Higher Power, JWO.” He thought it was funny. There was a smile across my heart.
I remember seeing at least a hundred books on theology resting in our homemade bookcase, but my interest at six was Disney. Those spines of yellow, green, red and blue were bright, and I wondered how they got all those pages to stick into that backbone, the spine. There was a small amount of Disney doctrine on one page that said, “God only helps those that help themselves.” At six, I was in distress. what if someone couldn’t help themselves? Does God abandon them? It was horrible because at six, face it, I couldn’t help myself. Maybe that would be me? My Dad said not to worry about it. I figured he was smarter than Disney on these matters. Only two of those beloved books remained after a move, but I found the complete set at an antique shop. For twenty years I had wanted, and longed for all four olive-green beauties. There they sat bound by one blue yarn on a bench in an antique shop, elation! The slight mildew didn’t bother me at all. I could hug them to my soul unlike beautiful E. All mine for a few dollars. Just imagine, they will never need to be charged!
All of this post got started in my ever twirling blonde mind, when I found a book my Dad had obviously read from cover to cover. What was the title of this fascinating 589 plus page book, The Nature and Properties of Soils, Barnes. He had notes and scribbles that were red-inked on what he felt was important. J.W.O. was written on the inside cover, 1989. This is something spectacular that E is incapable of producing: red ink written in the margin, and a name signed for ownership. Just one more reason, that E can’t steal my heart!
I downloaded a free sample once, but never a book. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was. After a few sentences, I was gone. It was written for profit not for quality. True love is never easy. However, if it were Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte, I might have to relent my icicle heart past the glass, unleash my power of concentration into the sleekness, and feed my soul the lines of literary goodness. But I would still cherish even more those same books, on a nightstand waiting by lamplight. Just long-lost friends waiting for a fine talk on living. Perhaps I will travel to Europe in, All our Worldly Goods, by Irene Nemirovsky, slip into the night with the poem, Said the Rose, by George B. Miles, or battle the darkness of Hitler in, Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas.
I see frayed edges, multi-colored bindings, and dust on my shelves. True rat packers can’t belong to the E world. There is nothing to clean; nothing to measure the times, seasons of life. I see art books, history, psychology, Pischna, hymnals, Dr. Seuss, baby names, “The Fascinating Girl” (Helen Andelin) read with the idealism of my seventeen year old girl-self who thought that a strong will, shooting for the stars, and giving all of your heart meant that life would hug you back in return. Life doesn”t hug easily. Stars have a way of shooting out all the giving as the dreams fall airless on the floor. That airless fall is one of the most exquisite things that Life can do for a person, essential. Broken dreams can become sturdy roadblocks that keep paths out of the bog. What does your timeline look like E?
I like the sound of turning pages such as in the book, Churchmouse Stories, by Margot Austin. What about bookmarks? The genuine items are a pink heart of construction paper dividing ethereal pages, the photo of a smiling two toothed child, a love poem on putty paper, a tear-stained purple polyester rectangle with scriptures printed in gold ink, and poetry sublime squiggled on torn paper stuck on page 81, because you just can’t forget that place, that place in time. I don’t care how gorgeous you are “E”. My heart belongs to paper world, and the fragrance of old and new books.
Don’t get discouraged. It’s al right! There will always be someone to love you. You will live forever in wireless world. You will survive. There is a whole generation that have never held a mildewed book, and pressed it into their elated heart. They will always turn to you first, but if they ever find out the wonder of the “real book world” you are in trouble my friend. Maybe one day I will buy you E. Maybe, I will give you a hug, but for now my arms are full of mildew.