Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Longest Day

Thanks to work, I'm getting accustomed to the drive between Maryland and New Jersey. The path starts on the Washington DC beltway, follows I-95 north past Baltimore and into Delaware, crosses over the Delaware River Bridge and into New Jersey. Follow the New Jersey Turnpike for an interminable stretch of flat, redundant miles, until looping around onto I-287 and up into central New Jersey. 3.5-4 hours door-to-door, not including idle time imposed by a police officer issuing a bogus speeding ticket. But I digres...

My wandering thought was spurred from late-night brain drain after a long day that turned deep into the night, followed by this automatic drive that is becoming oh-so-familiar into another long day that drags into the night again. Jumbled entry, to be sure, but the longest day will do that to you. Thank goodness that the weekend is tantalizingly close to take me out of this frame of reference and into a more enjoyable realm with my wife and little dog. So close and yet so far away!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adjusting to Mr. Mom

I've been working more from home recently. Generally, I find this a good thing; it saves dry cleaning bills and gas money, is better for the environment, and gives me back the commute time for a little extra sleep and a lot more time to get things done. All in all, it is a good thing - except for the "Mr. Mom" adjustment.

My wife is amazing around the house and seems to whip through chores like speed racer; I am more plodding and get distracted easily. This is probably why we are a good team, but now my skills are being put to the test as she has started a new project in downtown DC that requires a lot more hours. Which means that household activities are falling more on me.

Don't get me wrong - I am not averse to pulling my own weight; however, it is an adjustment for a reformed bachelor who only recently was able to handle more than one pan on the stove at one time. So, I am learning to wake early to care for Rosie and her "special needs" (she just lost one of her last two teeth - poor old dog - and thus requires more mushing of her food), get the mail during the afternoon, and sometimes get dinner ready for both my girls before the wife gets home. Most times, I move too slow, which can lead to some impatient moments on all sides. But I return to my theme of adjustments and taking greater responsibility, prompting the learning curve that I am still ascending to buy myself some more time for further improvements that are coming.

Then again, I view this as good practice, this adjusting to Mr. Mom stuff. Because at the end of the day, this new world of equality demands equal sharing of all sorts of things that were once relegated to one party or another. Perhaps we shall also start to introduce Mrs. Dad into the lexicon to demonstrate this notion?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Buddy Holly and Taxes

I started the day by learning about two anniversaries that strangely coincide on February 3rd:
1) 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death via plane crash, along with Ritchie Valens and the "Big Bopper" (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.)

2) 96th anniversary of Federal Income Taxes, courtesy of the 16th amendment to the US Constitution

Upon hearing these anniversaries on National Public Radio, my mind instantly raced to the common expression uttered by Americans: "The only things of which you can be certain in life are death and taxes." Of which, only one of these things was wholly certain before 1913. But thanks to the IRS, that second thing is now nearly a certainty, unless of course you happen to be a prominent Democrat appointed to a Presidential cabinet position. But I digress...

What really caught my attention was the subsequent NPR profile of Buddy Holly. His music is but a quaint flicker for today's generation of hip-hop fans and electronica junkies, but he was the original rock & roll legend, taking staid "white" music out of the suburban dance parlors and into the grittier realm of rhythm & blues; he garned an African-American following when whites and blacks did not formally mix their musical tastes. As musicians of the day often did, he trouped with a fellow bunch of burgeoning rock & rollers across the country, hoofing it from one high school gymnasium to the next thumping this strange music, befuddling elders and inciting young people to move their hips and sing along in polite protest to the surrounding authority figures.
On an early February night outside a small town in Iowa, Buddy Holly boarded a 4-seat propellor plane to hop over to the next small town after finishing another ripping set. No doubt his wife was strangely thinking about him back in Texas, newly pregnant and wondering what would become of her traveling music man. Amidst a light snowfall and swirling winds, Buddy Holly's plane went down in that dark night and took with it the greatest early lights of the Rock & Roll Revolution; the event was little noticed at the time thanks to an even greater plane crash on the same night in New York City but eventually struck a chord through the famous memorialization that Don Mclean provided to "the day the music died" with his famous 1971 song "American Pie".

Buddy Holly was only 22 in 1959, already a prolific recording artist but with so much left to say at his young age. The Beatles were greatly influenced by him, even taking their name in veiled deference to The Crickets, the name of Buddy's band. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon - so many called Buddy Holly a musical influence that his music has inevitably become ingrained into our pop culture, an intrinsic aspect of our shared rhythm and rock & roll. Even those hip-hop stars of today have some sort of homage to give to Buddy Holly, a trailblazer that finds a strange new audience even 50 years later.

My rumination and following research led me to listen again to Don McLean's song and to shiver as he laid down one of the song's final lines: "...in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed but not a word was spoken..." I care not to wander into thoughts on my own mortality on a snowy winter evening in a New Jersey hotel room - not much different than the final night of Buddy Holly's life - but I do wonder what might have become of Buddy in what would have been his 72nd year.

May Buddy Holly rest in peace and may we all allow the familiar notes of Buddy's famous songs ("That'll Be the Day", "Peggy Sue") carry us for another 50 years, or as long as fate gives us to cherish our own living moments - including those life-affirming taxes!