i am a visitor here, i am not permanent

My good friend Sean passed away two weeks ago.

I got the news - via facebook message - while I was helping two of my friends practice for their first dance at their wedding the following day. I cried after they left and tried hard not to think about it. And except for it creeping up on me when I least expected it a few times in the last week, I've done a pretty good job not thinking about it. Which meant that I had not prepared myself for his memorial service today as well as I might have liked.

What was so nice about the service was how much emphasis was placed on Seany's music, and how much he loved it and loved sharing it. The gigs and gigs of music I have saved on my hard drive are due, almost entirely, to him. We didn't have exactly the same taste, but had much in common; he was responsible for a huge amount of my development as a music listener, and he grew to know my taste better than anyone. He would nearly pounce on me as soon as he'd found a new album he thought I'd love, and he was always right.

Sean was always, always a good friend. He was always ready to listen whenever anyone needed it. He was a genuinely open and caring guy.

We'd drifted apart the last few years - both busy with our jobs, I think, and not spending as much time chatting online (as we did all through college). I'd been meaning to text him for at least two weeks before he died, and was just too distracted to follow through. We'd planned to hang out when I was on spring break, and he was dead before that happened.

At least he went while he was with friends. At least it was just as simple as falling asleep listening to Coldplay, one of his very favorite bands.

I went back through emails we'd exchanged, and found a paper he'd written for a music course and sent me back in 2006: a list of his favorite albums of the moment - some of which are still my favorite albums, and ones I most associate with him, because he shared them with me - and an accompanying short analysis and his favorite bits. I thought, in the spirit of his musical generosity, that I'd share his list with you; especially if there are ones you are unfamiliar with, I'd strongly recommend you listen and lose yourself in some music for awhile.

I love you lots, Seany. I miss you terribly, and I'm so sad we didn't hang out more the last few years.


on weddings

We're getting married, and I'm super excited.

We've already arranged how it's going to happen - we're running off to Jamaica this summer, just the two of us, and getting married on a beach as close to sunset as we're legally allowed, and combining that with the honeymoon itself. And we'll have some sort of party when we come back to celebrate. I have my dress - from here - and pretty much the only thing we have left to do is buy the plane tickets.

What weirds me out about the whole process is all the strange social constructs people have built up around weddings. We've inadvertently broken the mold - we're getting married entirely, proudly by ourselves, but we're telling everyone about it first. Apparently no one does this. Even on the "alternative wedding" websites, the most subversive thing you can do is elope. (What we're doing doesn't count as an elopement, since it's not at all secret.)

But there's very little about a "traditional" wedding that appeals to me. For one, we've never been ones to stick to tradition - we've been living and raising a child together for years, now - but most wedding traditions seem particularly ludicrous to me, especially as so many of them are fed by centuries-old religion or misogyny (or, often, religious misogyny). No one really requires seeing bloody sheets any more - at least not in mainstream America - but how far off is the garter removal, really?

And then there's the entire economy built around wedding planning - huge, overpriced, overblown, insane trappings that are different only in the minutiae that harried brides spend months obsessing about. Why do we get favors like we're attending a kid's birthday party? Why are there only round tables and two kinds of chairs used at receptions? Why do people pay $75 a plate when you can buy better entrees at Chili's for $15? Why in the world is every wedding dress for the past ten years strapless with a big skirt (and often thousands of dollars despite being made of polyester)? Just to be clear, I'm not judging people who have or enjoy these things - I'm judging our society for demanding that they are necessary.

I'm fully convinced that most people have a very, very hard time enjoying their weddings, and definitely don't enjoy the months leading up to them. I've watched enough of my friends go through the process to know how exhausting and unrewarding it can be.

Instead, I spent a week and a half figuring out my dress, what hotel we'd stay at, and what wedding planner we'd pay to take care of the entire thing (photography included), and now I'm done. When we get back, I get to throw together a party without any pressure at all (since it's not tied to the wedding itself, there's no need for everything to be any more perfect or stressful than our usual fĂȘtes).

And no, we're not having a sit-down reception. The details are sketchy as of yet, but it'll probably be in the vineyard, and there will be good wine and twinkle lights and hopefully a bonfire, and my biggest goal is to get everyone to have a good time, not just a good time for a wedding.

Until then, I get to dream of beaches and happiness.


on the eve of my twenty-ninth birthday

"That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it."

and this:
“I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”

both, Joan Didon


the thankfulness post

I hate what feel like cliched, false thank yous. I have gone so far as to "hide all posts from user" for people who are doing that awful "30 days of thankfulness" bit on facebook.

That said, I am thankful, and moreso for the less-than-obvious things. So you're getting a list in a blog post.

I am thankful for:

  • Pillsbury's Roan Red. It is my favorite, favorite wine. 
  • Joley being a creative child, even though I spend not nearly enough time with her, and lord knows I need more patience, but she gave an impromptu concert on her guitar at school today, and she wore flowered leggings under a tutu, and she just wrote a story in which she accidentally hitched a ride on a bald eagle when she was trying to hug the ceiling of her house. 
  • people listening when I talk about my program. I don't know how or why, but they listen, and I am grateful. 
  • Colin's good taste in music. Not my taste, exactly, which I am also thankful for, but good taste.
  • the thank you I got from a student today.
  • unexpected houseguests.
  • turtleneck sweaters, especially in green.