Tuesday, November 11, 2008

sing along

I love to sing. Unfortunately, I am not very good at it. I am so bad at it, in fact, that when I was a kid, my mother asked me to please not sing around her as my off-key singing hurt her ears. Now, as a mother myself, I can't really imagine that. When Tom and Julie were small, one of my greatest joys was to hear their little voices singing in that sweet, un-self conscious way that children sing. I couldn't tell (and didn't care) if they were off-key or not. As they got older, they became more self conscious and wouldn't sing around me anymore, although they still sang with each other. This made me more sad than I could ever tell them.

I have already mentioned my trip to New York City when I met up with Tom and Kristy in Chinatown. That night we went to a Japanese karaoke restaurant where we had a private room for several hours. I was delighted to hear Tom sing for the first time in probably twenty years. It was the highlight of my evening.

When Julie was home last month, she tried to entice us (well, mostly she tried to entice Ben - I am always up for a road trip) to drive to a bar in Aurora for a beer and a bucket of sliders. "Come on," she said. "We'll all sing in the car." Ben could not be persuaded, but in short order Julie and I were on the road. "I believe I was promised some singing," I told her. She dug the Neil tape - now safely transferred to CD - out of her glove box, and soon his plaintive whine filled the car.

I think I have mentioned the Neil tape before - it is my all-time favorite mix tape that Ben made for me. It is Julie's favorite, as well, I believe, and as we headed north in her car, we sang every song along with Neil. I heard Julie sing and sing and sing. We sang "Powderfinger". We sang "Southern Man", which we used to sing softly together as we wandered up and down the aisles of countless flea markets. We sang "King", which always reminds me of Bobo, and always brings a lump to my throat. We ate sliders and drank beer, then sang all the way home. I tried not to let Julie know how much it meant to me for fear I would somehow spoil the moment, but I am telling her now.

What an unexpected gift that outing was. Thanks, Jules. Let's do it again soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

post-election day musings

I decided to watch the election returns on MSNBC last night. It is my understanding that is the cable news network that conservatives hate the most - just right for me. The mood among the commentators and pundits there was barely contained jubilation, I thought. I wanted to share their optimism, but was just afraid of experiencing that same anger and disappointment that overwhelmed me when the last two presidential elections were stolen by the Republican Party. I just couldn't be confident that it wouldn't happen again.

Every time the television cameras panned the huge crowds filling Grant Park in Chicago, I looked for Tom and Kristy. I didn't even know if they were there or someplace else with a group of like-minded friends, but I looked for them anyway. I couldn't help it. I looked for my brother, as well, although I have not seen him in twenty years now. It just seemed like the kind of night he might be out and celebrating, watching history in the making.

Here in Ohio it was 11:00 p.m. when the polls finally closed on the west coast. Almost in the same breath, the closing of the polls was announced, along with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. I surprised myself very much by starting to sob as his name was announced. I hadn't wanted to care that much, but I did. I do.

Today is a bright, shiny, new day for the United States of America. Today I stand tall and face the global community as a proud American. It feels damn good.