August, 2010

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On my tempestuous relationship with a certain Crowded House song.

I am willing to bet cold hard cash that nobody has stronger feelings about Crowded House’s not-that-controversial song “Don’t Stop Now” than I do. As are most things, I suppose, it was a matter of timing.

When the album TIME ON EARTH came out, we had recently moved to the other side of Los Angeles – just south of Pasadena, actually. That part of the world is lovely, particularly if you’re fond of Craftsman bungalows and lush foliage. (I’m about 75% on that, being allergic to trees.)

However, I do not understand who lives there. Owls? Bats? Voles? Because here’s the thing: The minute it starts to get dark, you can’t see a goddamn thing. The streetlights are, to say the least, minimal. The aforementioned lush foliage casts formidable shadows on the street signs, which themselves tend more toward the subtle and tasteful than the more appropriate glow-in-the-dark. Combined with my genetic lack of sense of direction, this meant trouble.

Before I basically stopped leaving the house after dusk (unless it was a straight shot to the freeway and outta there), I spent a tremendous amount of time driving around trying to find my own house. And crying. If you’re thinking, “Really? That’s worth crying over?” I assume you haven’t experienced the specific and profound humiliation of being regularly incapable of finding your home.

Also, you should know that we’re not talking about doubling back a block or two. Once I went to a store that Google Maps informed me was 1.7 miles away. By the time I made it there and back, I had racked up more than 32 miles on the odometer. We are talking LOST.

That was when I bought TIME ON EARTH. The opening track struck an immediate chord with me and, I learned from reading the press, was inspired by the Finn family having moved to a new town – in which Mrs. Finn was unable to find her way home.

Another pleasant day in the countryside
Has ended up in tears on a stormy night
Cause you can’t follow my directions home
But don’t stop now

God knows where the satellite’s taking us
I can’t tell what’s right in front of us
But I hang on every word
But don’t stop now
No, don’t stop now

This song clearly understood me. Everyone else thinks I’m an idiot – but here is proof that this has happened to at least one other person. It’s a small comfort, but I’ll take it.

And then this happens.

Give me something I can write about

I’m sorry. Give you something you can WRITE about?

You could write her some better directions. How’s THAT?

(Clearly, I’m projecting a little bit.)

Now I live in a proper city neighborhood, in a majestic and well-lit building that I can locate with ease from all four directions. But when I saw Crowded House play Club Nokia on Friday night, damned if my love/hate reactions to that song were not every bit as strong.

I guess it just goes to show that you’re never too old to have a formative experience.

And it came in such a tiny box, too.

Dear lovely people:

Tonight my life was vastly improved in multiple ways.

A gift arrived via FedEx. It was one of those newfangled iPads all the kids are talking about.

You’ve surely heard about all the things they can do. I’m just going to list a few things it’s done for me specifically.

My hands started on their lifelong path of being totally hosed when I broke my arm as a little kid, somehow resulting in calcium deposits in my right wrist that limit my use of that hand. Over the years, I’ve added to the problem, also developing (in both arms) tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and cubital tunnel syndrome (yeah, I’d never heard of that one either). Two years ago, I topped the whole mess off by developing something half-diagnosed as neurological tremor. Means my hands are real shaky.

There’s a parallel decrease in the things I can do. I went from reading constantly to being able to read only books in paperback, usually only mass-market, with wide margins toward the center so I could hold it open enough to read. Typing accurately is an enormous challenge, and often painful. I can’t play computer solitaire without serious pain – which doesn’t seem like that big a loss, but I eventually realized it had been my only successful relaxation technique. We won’t even talk about my violin playing.

(Because I don’t play violin. I can’t even play ukulele – and I’ve tried and tried!)

So here’s what this little device brought me.

First and most excitingly, I can read books on it. Any books I want. I don’t have to plot my reading list out by weight anymore.

Second, in my keyboard-heavy existence, it has the only one I can type in a fairly error-free fashion on – and it doesn’t hurt.

Also not painful: Games. Not only can I resume my Spider habit, but I have the freedom to become a Plants vs Zombies or Angry Birds junkie like everyone else, if I so choose.

This is less dramatic than the others because it’s just fixing a failing of my current computer rather than my person, but I’m also pretty stoked that Netflix streaming works on it. One step closer to freeing ourselves of the hilariously incompetent Time-Warner corporation!

I can’t think of another time my life was this affected by a material object. Nice one, Apple.