(Further proof that Music Mondays have the power to
change the course of events, to change the weather, to change the world!This Monday, on a perfectly beautiful autumnal afternoon, I wrote about Christmas songs. And SHAZAM. Snow! You're welcome.)
Few moments bring me back to childhood as quickly and as thrillingly as the first snowfall of the season. After a cold cold get-out-of-bed-at-four-a.m.-to-put-on-a-sweater kind of sleep last night, I opened my blinds to this...a quiet and white and lacy kind of morning.
Today is the sort of day for reading poems in bed.
Today is the sort of day for eating steaming soup from a big red bowl.
Today is the sort of day for wearing cableknit stockings and cableknit sweaters.
Today is the sort of day for starting your Christmas wishlist.
And so I shall.
Wish #1: That Sufjan Stevens (the featured artist on this week's Music Monday) will make a quick stop in the Great Salt Lake (City) on his Christmas tour.
And here's why: His Christmas tour (officially titled "The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Disaster") is rumored to go something like this (from his label's website):
“All Grinches be forewarned: The show will consist entirely of Christmas
music, inviting audience participation. Be prepared to sing along with
bawdy bravura! Song sheets will be provided. There should be plenty of
low-production props and gags, dollar-store giveaways, inflatable
unicorns, cheap confetti, make-shift costumes, and Gloria in excelsis
Let's break it down:
consists entirely of Christmas music
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
I'm sorry, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better party to kick off the season.
Plus it's Sufjan Stevens. The man who thus far has produced ten (TEN!) Christmas volumes (plus his new Silver and Gold album to be released in November), all of similar Yuletide joy.
Anyways, the point of all this is that this magical Christmas tour makes many stops, but Utah is not one of them. So me and a couple of friends are trying to change that. We've decided to start a movement: the Bring Sufjan to SLC Movement.
BringSufjantoSLC = us sending him all the Christmas love and wishes we can muster.
One girl had her entire school class make Christmas cards for him. One grown-up boy is recording a Christmas song about how Sufjan made him see Christmas like a kid again, complete with Christmas letter and all. I am making him holiday postcards and possibly holiday cookies, and otherwise tweeting my little #BRINGSUFJANTOSLC heart out.
All told, it's been a ball so far. A Christmas ball.
Now, if you are still reading, you either really like me, really like my blog, really like Sufjan Stevens, really like Christmas, or are in bed with your laptop trying to put off braving the snow and the homework that exists outside of your bedroom. If any of the above reasons are true, will you please join us in the fun?
You can tweet @asthmatickitty with #BRINGSUFJANTOSLC.
You can share this post on facebook.
You can email me a letter to Sufjan, and me & the crew will snail-mail it for you (short letters are just as good as long ones!).
You can join the group on facebook to get more deets.
Best of all, you can leave a comment down south about why a SLC-Sufjan-Christmas would make your holiday season merry and bright!
If you do any of these things, I shall send you a Christmas card with my love.
I want frosted windowpanes, I want a winter wonderland, I want to deck the halls and sing fa-la-la-la-la with those I love! Come, Sufjan, come!
Remember how a few weeks ago I dreamt that Ryan Gosling and I fell in love? Well last night I dreamt it was Marcus Mumford. You know, the man responsible for this:
Well I dreamt we fell in love. Correction: I dreamt he fell in love with me, and I totally played it cool. I was practicing a song on a rickety upright piano for an upcoming concert, and when he asked me what song I'd chosen to play, I was so embarrassed that it was one of his, that I switched and told him I was playing "Loch Lomond." I knew this was a smart choice because 1) I could already play it like a boss and 2) I figured he'd appreciate my love for Scotland.
So naturally I asked him to come sit on the piano bench with me and help me with some chords.
*STAR STRUCK* (but still playing it cool).
He was totally into it.
Anyways, in some grand mixup, he suddenly disappeared (thanks a lot, dream). But don't worry, by dream's end I'd fallen in love again...
Sometimes writing a thesis is going down a slide,
or eating a pan of brownies,
or watching every episode of Little Dorrit in one night,
or a conversation with the person you love love love,
or driving through the canyon in the fall,
or taking pictures of the pigeons and lampposts in Venice,
or reading Harry Potter late into the night, back when Sorceror's Stone first came out:
You get sucked in and don't ever want to get pulled out.
So I watched the debates. And I get that Obama doesn't understand Romney's financial plan. I get that Romney has a five point attack strategy for any question thrown his way. I get that Obama has talked to individual people all over the country who has an emotional story about the car industry, losing jobs, or the education system.
But I gathered all that in the first thirty minutes of the debate. The FIRST debate. The one three weeks ago. Since then, everything's been variations on a theme. Sometimes not even variations.
You wanna know what would have really spiced up this last debate? You wanna know what would have secured maybe a few more of those proverbial (and probably fictional) "undecided" voters?
How bout a recorder solo from Obama to express his views about trade relations with China?
How bout if Romney spontaneously broke out in French and then apologized--"I'm so sorry, sometimes I do that."
Or what about a necktie-tying contest?
A round of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?
A debate-off between Romney's grandchild and Obama's daughter?
And you know what would have really taken the cake?
A closing statement delivered entirely in rhymed couplets.
(Either that or a question where the two candidates had to work together to come up with the best solution for the country--one where they were forced to cooperate. That may be the most telling interrogation of all.)
Last night, I went home for Sunday dinner. Let me tell you what that entailed: four younger sisters, a brother and his beautiful wife, my parents and my sweet sweet grandma, a roast, potatoes and carrots, homemade rolls and homemade jam, lively dinner discussion, picking apples off the apple tree in the back, playing 500 in the yard while the sun went down, playing Rummikub on the carpet once it finally had, pumpkin autumn cream-cheese frosted cake with mini-leaf sprinkles, hugging, warmness, love.
And best of all, Sunday night included discussion of Thanksgiving break...meaning what pies we're going to make and more wonderful still, how we were going to decorate our gingerbread houses.
Which meant we also may have sung a few Christmas songs while we were picking those apples out back.
Now, I've been listening to Christmas music since July. (Last year I started in August, which means by the time I'm in my thirties and have children, they will be listening to Christmas music starting in January. Consider yourself warned, future husband.) I just figure that Jesus Christ's birth is something that we can celebrate all year round. Why not! And also, I have found that I appreciate Christmas music more--Ifeel the wonder of it more--if I'm listening to it in July, or October, reminiscing about past Christmases, anticipating (like a little kid again) the joys of the holiday season.
I started Music Mondays to share the songs I've been listening to during the week--the great finds, the favorites, the ones I can't get out of my head. So I've gotta be honest here: I have no non-Christmas songs to share this week because all I've been listening to is how there's no place like home for the holidays. Lots of fa-la-laing around here.
But hold up, all those of you who have a no-carols-before-Thanksgiving-let-alone-Halloween rule: Before you tune out, just give it a little chance. Do you like Christmas? Do you like presents? Candy canes? Snowflakes? How bout happiness? I promise that these are not your typical Christmas songs. They won't ruin the season for you. They won't jinx you. They will only and completely make you happy.
So, in part one* of this week's music post, I present 3 songs from one of my favorite artists. They are technically Christmas songs, but I think they should be enjoyed any day of the year (especially on October 22nds).
1. "I Saw Three Ships" (Sufjan Stevens)
2. "The Friendly Beasts" (Sufjan Stevens)
3. "Once in Royal David's City" (Sufjan Stevens)
*And yes, I am plotting a part two to this little post, and part two will ask you to do something important and wonderful, so clear your schedules and get ready! (Just kidding about clearing your schedules--it will require minimal but delightful effort on your part.)
I saw a man with a cane at the grocery store. I used to see him quite regularly, but that was before the summer, before he used a cane. And now I can't quite place where it was that I always saw him. But I remember the suede jacket, and I remember he was always alone. I don't remember the swoop of hair brooding over his left eyebrow.
He looked so tired.
I wanted to go with him, tell him I'd push the cart at least.
He looked like an entire universe in one body,
an entire universe of sorrow.
But of course I didn't push the cart,
of course I just said, "Excuse me" and squeezed behind him looking through the spices
(what was he looking for?)
I wonder sometimes why I play by these rules I play by.
I wonder sometimes why I can't say,
"I can never find the cardamom..."
(They're alphabetized, you know.)
"Let's be friends.
I'll push your cart.
What happened to your leg?"
("Stormy Landscape with Pyramus and Thisbe" by Nicolas Poussin, via)
She drew back shuddering, ...like the sea that is ruffled when a slight breeze skims across its surface. But after a pause when she had recognized her love, she struck her blameless arms with a loud blow, tore at her hair, embraced the body that she loved, filled his wounds with tears and mixed her weeping with his blood.
(from "Pyramus and Thisbe"
in Ovid's Metamorphoses
trans. D.E. Hill)
[Addendum: You know you're doing what you love when, four hours ago, you told yourself you could stop working at 8pm, but now it's 8:30 and you have no intention of stopping.
Thesis. Library. Books. Latin. Love. Love. Love.]
My bedroom this year is bottom heavy. Everything that comes in sinks to the ground with curious familiarity, with curious magnetism, as if the air is quicksand. Clothes congregate in stolid piles on the chair, on the carpet, on the accordion cases in the corner. A soldier-row of books lines the west baseboard perimeter. Papers fall like dead birds from my hands or my bags or my bed straight to the ground. The blinds resist me so much that even my body weight does little to move their stubborn, parallel little pieces. Even my body feels the effects of the floor's pull: my bed is only two feet off the ground and my cold and train-wrecked limbs are sand-heavy every morning.
Here, everything sinks to the bottom and settles.
I feel like Alice: so big in this tiny dwarf room where everything ends up on the floor, so nestled in this mountainous room where books and papers and sweaters become walls of warmth and familiarity.
In a way, it's kind of like scuba diving. In a way, it's realizing the person you like is actually the person you love.
Some days, when I quiet my anxieties long enough to get myself to the
library, I remember why I got into this gig in the first place. I'm
buried in Latin dictionaries and seven different translations of Ovid,
and all I want to do is sit here for the rest of the day (let the football game and the rain and the hoards of Saturday students not studying march on!) and think about the words and
about what they mean and about why that makes any bit of difference in
this big wide world.
It's silly, but in moments like this, sometimes I could cry I'm so happy that words and books and stories exist.
"Men come tamely home at night only from the next field or street, where their household echoes haunt, and their life pines because it breathes its own breath over again; their shadows morning and evening reach farther than their daily steps. We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experiences and character."
There are not many more things I'd like than you explaining why, me explaining how,
while we wait for the crash of the flagrant surreptitiousness of it all.
There are not many more things that exist
than those days in autumn and the empty hours ahead.
I'd punch my heart into paper with these words again and again:
And you with all your guarded curiosity would let loose the words,
And your eyes so small could see all the world.
1. "Mighty" (Lord Huron)
2. "Old Pine" (Ben Howard)
3. "Wrecking Ball Heart" (Jack's Mannequin) This is the last song Jack's Mannequin is releasing. Done. They're done. So soak it in and love every bit of it and hope there is another Andrew McMahon project soon. (You can download the song for free here.)
I've had some awkward moments as a teacher. Like the day after lover-boy and I broke-up and my students found out and more or less tried to console me. (Tender.) Like the day I wore the bright red paisley shirt, and when I asked if any students had questions, one of them raised his hand and said, "No offense, but when you got dressed this morning, what were you thinking?!" (Rude but awesome.)
But today took the cake.
Today I passed out.
Yep, in front of all of them.
Passing out is no foreign land to me--I practically have a summer home there. So when I was walking down the stairs from my office to my classroom and everything started getting blotchy and tingly, I knew it wasn't going to be good. But I made it to the teacher chair at the podium, sat down, and tried to ward off students until I could recover. No bueno. These students of mine are inquisitive and apparently love nothing more than to talk to me before class starts (which thing I love).
Thus, on the brink of a major fainting spell, I decided to just cancel class, if I could just ... stay ... coherent ... long ... enough to ... tell themmmmm ...
[BLACKNESS & HAPPINESS]
Next thing I know, Student 1 is holding my arm and Student 2 is asking if I've eaten anything that day and Student 3 is saying, "Carolyn, what can I do for you. Tell me what you need." and Student 4 is looking seriously freaked out of her mind.
I look around, realize what's just happened, and start laughing. I couldn't help myself, the whole thing was so ridiculous and so pathetic and so so funny. Then everyone started laughing.
They said I was just sitting there, slumped over at the podium, eyes open, not responding to anything. They said they thought at first that it was going to be an object lesson that they'd have to rhetorically analyze (so proud of them). Nope, just me and my fainting! They were such troopers and so kind to me.
And so then I taught the class! Ha, funny how your body can just reset itself like that--how a little black-time and a little clammy-sweat and suddenly you feel great!
And it's a good thing I did go on with the lesson because it produced this gem of a sentence (written by Student 1), with which we practiced comma usage:
"Carolyn really enjoys teaching her Writing 150 class, but sometimes class is so boring, even she falls asleep."
("--Before class even starts!" I chime in. To which they all good-heartedly laughed.)
Every weekend lately has felt like the best weekend of my life. How this is possible, I have absolutely no idea, but somehow each one trumps the one before. This results in me living in a constant state of utter content.
Oh, and by "weekend," I mean Friday through Tuesday. Incredible.
1 Another photo-drive up the canyon with Andrea early early Friday morning. The fog was nestled down in the valley.
2 A Friday night football game...which means I definitely made other plans--other plans which included playing my accordion, practicing French, reading a really delightful book about French culture, and otherwise sitting in my bed and doing exactly what I wanted to do. Lame, you say? Perfect I say.
3 Saturday morning adventures--first a breakfast of buckwheat pancakes with cinnamon syrup (!) followed by berrypicking and a good chat with a farmer and a friend. On the way home we had an impromptu flea market raid, where I found a lovely little ring that fits my finger perfectly and that might be fake but that I have a sneaky suspicion actually isn't.
4 Getting a new hard drive so my computer runs licketysplit instead of sloooowwwwwww
6 The post office lady calling to let me know the latest volume of Kinfolk has come for me and she'd like to know where to deliver it (such service!)
7 Monday night dinner group was tacos. There doesn't exist a faster way to make me happy than tacos.
8 And then we did what we we've been doing every Monday night as of late--bundled in our blankets, laid under the big tree, and listened to "This American Life."
As if all this wasn't enough, today is Tuesday, aka: heaven day. I have no classes, no appointments, no nothing. So I sleep till I wake, go to yoga, then spend the day getting organized...like studying up to be a missionary and getting my car registered and making sure everything's square in the budget department and buying four boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios on sale for $1.88 each and eating them all day long.
Life's happy here.
(Oh one more thing: I dreamt this weekend that Ryan Gosling and I fell in love. In my dream, he was the kindest boyfriend in the entire world. I take this as a sign that Operation Get Carolyn a Date with Ryan might actually work and that we need to put it into effect ASAP. And no, I'm not kidding. It's real, people. And we're going to make it happen.)