Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Vibrant-colored Day

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

"Go Blue!" Colors Out My Window

Right now, the maple tree-leaves in our front yard are mostly bright-yellow and the sky behind it, bright, cloudless blue -- reminds me of my alma mater's school colors. I'm also reminded "Joy and Pain" by Maze with Frankie Beverly. I've written about this song a number of times because it's so like life. And then there's also Rob Base's sampling version.

Today, I'm still thinking about my colleague's/friend's loss of her new baby, which I first wrote about yesterday, and am marveling at how I could be aware of such a sad event, and then wake up to such a glorious day today.

Earlier, those Colors, and Others, Surrounded Us

We went for a walk, rather than swimming this morning, and our neighbor was finishing a stroll with her Great Dane, Jack. Jack has tiger-stripes and looks like this, but much bigger.

Jack had a different coat of fur than the Great Dane I remembered whose fur was a shiny, charcoal-gray. "Oh, last November, I came home and found him paralyzed from the waist down and we had to put him down. I think he had a stroke," she explained.

We were living in India then. More joy and pain. Their other dog was an affectionate sweetie, but this dog charmed me, too, and all the more so, since now, we're pet parents ourselves. I couldn't get over his mini tiger-stripes.

A dog like that is so captivating, it's hard to focus on the owner, but finally, I looked up and saw that she was wearing a long, tan, down-filled coat, which featured kids' pictures all over it.

"You let your daughter draw on your coat. How great!"

"Oh, it was any of the kids in the neighborhood, with magic markers." Our neighbor is a clothing designer and this was a fantastic piece.

We talked about our cats, and their nails, and how we're not de-clawing them; our neighbor offered a scratching post that their cats had rejected. This was the same neighbor to whom we gave extra iris bulbs, and who gave us a spare azalea shrub.

Hope, Delivered

The walk began that way and was golden throughout, including the funny, post-Halloween scenes we saw in people's yards, including the five pumpkins lined up side-by-side near Valley Road on Alexander, each of which featured one letter and spelled O B A M A. Montclair, where we live is predominately an enclave of Democrats.

People's senses of humor in how they decorated for the holiday plus the gorgeous fall weather plus the extra hour we gained with changing the clocks back pre-sleep last night plus even our experience at the grocery store after our walk made me feel hopeful.

The woman in front of us spent $338 -- two cartsful(!) -- but also saved $71 in coupons! Pretty neat to save a nearly quarter of her shopping-bill. Her secret, compared to our coupon collection, was that she had printed out a bunch of coupons from the web.

Further Joy and Pain

Even as I'm smiling about how the day has gone so far, thinking of my friend's loss reminds me of some of the saddest songs I've ever heard, too. The songs I know of Neil Young, for instance, are included among them, and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," and also Tom Waits' The Piano Has Been Drinking, Not Me." The saddest song I've ever heard, though, is this one.

It struck me that all of these sad songs were composed and performed by men, and then I recalled Janis Ian's, "At Seventeen" and IBM alumna, Sandra Grace's, "Stay With Me..." and Barbra Streisand's "Cry Me a River" and "Papa, Can You Hear Me?"

All are songs that when I hear them, whether or not the melodies are sad, which most are, make me feel sad. And here are a few more: "Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red, one of my favorite groups/artists, "Sarah, Sarah" by Jonathan Butler, Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas" and "Running Up That Hill..." by Kate Bush.

Another friend just called and I told her about my colleague and friend's baby, and how I'd been listening to sad songs this afternoon. She said, "You need to listen to some happy songs."

"That's what I always listen to," I said, "I'm always surprised when friends tell me they don't like dramatic plays because I love a good drama, but when it comes to music, most often, I listen to happy stuff. I just wanted to listen to the sad ones because of the baby."

When there's a death of an immediate family member in Jewish tradition, we're not supposed to hear any music for a year. After my dad died, I came back to my public high school, and I've written before that an ad for an upcoming dance played over the PA system my first morning back; a snippet of one of that time's biggest hits, Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," played, and I burst into tears, hearing it.

Here's one for the friend who called me: The Girl from Ipanema....Actually, this one, despite the upbeat tempo, makes me sad, too. How can I do anything other than honor my colleague and friend with sad music today? Here's a little poem, the best I can do:

"Life Lost and Found"

Baby, baby, baby,
why, why, why?

My friend, you have
lost him, but his soul did not die

He just went beyond your field of vision,
and your shocked eyes cry

Ultimately, he will make you the
strongest family alive, no lie.


Allan said...

Loved reading this blog, thanks for your continued creativity. Why DO we generally listen to sad songs when we're sad? Do we secretly wish to commiserate with the artist, share the pain, so that we don't have to bear the brunt of the load alone? We find solace in the like. Also, I have vivid physical and emotional memories of that Vince Guaraldi tune - cozying up in front of the TV with my pajamas, hot cocoa and watching that "cold" scene of Linus and Charlie Brown walking through the snow and winter air in search of the "perfect" tree. Joy and pain, indeed.

Sarah Siegel said...

I'm listening to "It's OK It's Alright" as I respond. I love it! Kind of like, the guitar has sobered up, and boy, is it angry and lucid now! (As opposed to Tom Waits' "The Piano Has Been Drinking....") Thanks for your kind feedback on my blog.

Yeah, I know that the Vince Guaraldi tune is supposed to make me feel wintery and cozy, perhaps, but particularly in its instrumental version it just breaks my heart every time, and never conjures happy images.