Archive | June 2014

An Old Familiar Place

It is an old idea, but an easy one to forget, and even harder to apply. Holding a grudge rarely hurts the other person, but it does lasting harm to the one hanging on to the anger.

It was a good moment-Yesterday, after family dinner, relatives visiting from out of town were over for ice cream and conversation. The talk turns to stories about family. I’m puttering about my kitchen, cleaning up random messes, much like my grandmother would have. I smile thinking of that, share it with those around me. Somehow a particular relative gets brought up, and we tell horror stories. It’s funny, mostly…we all laugh and shake our heads. I tell one awful story about something this person has done to me and terrible thing I said in response. I feel justified. I begin to pontificate on the sadness of one person holding on to a grudge for nearly 55 years, and how it has consumed them. In my mind, I think of other recent conversations where I pretend I am enlightened, somehow beyond such petty things. I encourage, almost plead, “let this go. It only hurts you.”

I am such a hypocrite.

This morning, I sat down in front of this computer, a hot coffee on one side, the new record by Boris spinning on the turntable, and I see yesterday, that one moment, in the light and brilliance of a new day. I cannot talk about someone else holding on to five decades plus of anger while I continue to tell the same hateful story over and over. I am the one holding on to useless anger. I am the one who is obviously not over some perceived slight. Looking around the room, I see many things-books, coffee mugs filled with coins, pens, coffee. The stack of CD’s I have yet to listen to. The dog sleeps in the corner by the bookshelf. She hates taking her new pills and most of the time, I have to force her to eat them. The guitars rest in their stands, waiting to be played. And, I see myself, sitting in an all too familiar place. These lessons in forgiveness, I never seem to really learn them.

Or maybe, that is the point, and learning to forgive is a continual process, and over and over, failing and climbing out again and again. I like how that sounds. I will forgive myself for falling into old traps. I will get up, dust  myself off, mark the dangerous place in my mind, and keep going.

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Better than Christmas Morning

My adult musical tastes have leaned towards more independent bands and record labels. I still buy my fair share of mainstream music by large record companies, and I enjoy that music almost as much as anything I buy from smaller labels, but the majority of the bands I really respect and adore make music in  near obscurity.

It is no secret, I love finding different and new (to me) bands. I love music that challenges me, that inspires and moves me emotionally. I enjoy my fair share of silly stuff, mindless stuff, thoughtless stuff, but the music I really hang on to tends to be a bit more serious in nature. I refuse to get stuck in any one genre, any decade or movement, any one style of music. Too much great stuff would get ignored if I limited myself that way. I try to stay open to all sorts of things and welcome suggestions.

I have written about Sargent House records before, and suggest that anyone looking for new and innovative bands to listen to almost any and every band they represent. Examples-Marriages, Emma Ruth Rundle, Helms Alee, Indian Handcrafts, Mylets, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, Russian Circles. It is a diverse catalog and worthy of your efforts. Cathy Pellow (owner of Sargent House)  runs a great twitter feed as well. No one loves and promotes their bands better than she does.

hydraheadAnother fantastic  label is Hydra Head. Sadly, they are in the final efforts of their long career of putting out great music. A benefit for fans like me-they offered an unbelievable deal on compact discs recently. I picked up a grab bag of 30 discs for 40 dollars, postage paid!

I love several bands on this label-Jodis, Knut, Cave In, Jesu, Cavity, Split Cranium. Sadly, I have not spent as much time as I should have exploring the incredible bands this label has to offer. Buying 30 discs in one shot was one way to get a good sample, but it was risky. I could easily end up with 30 copies of music I already have and enjoy. I was lucky. Only five were records I already own.

When I got the box in the mail, it was just like Christmas morning. So much to open, and so many bands I wanted to listen to instantly. There is no doubt what I will be doing for the next few weeks.

Also, I’m looking for good homes for four of the five discs that are duplicates. Check out Jesu and Kayo Dot. If anyone has interest, let me know.

Other Motivations

Why did I choose to get married?

The simple answer is I fell in love with someone who I wanted to be with more than anyone else. I no longer wanted to live a life where she wasn’t an intimate part of it. I felt less than complete without her.

The more complex answer is one that I keep to myself. It’s too personal, sappy and only relevant to me and Sheryl. I was way too young, as was she. We were excited, scared, confused, and a little bit naive. Imagining a time we were married five years seemed impossible to comprehend. Somehow we have made it to almost 21.

I am grateful that Sheryl and I were able to make that commitment.

I don’t think we were much different than the thousands of other couples that meet, fall in love, and want to start their lives together. We had faulty expectations, lived through our own misguided assumptions about each other and what being married was actually like. We’ve grown stronger together than we ever would have apart. We’ve worked hard and been lucky.

The reasons people marry are as varied as the people who decide to share their lives together. I refuse to believe any one of them is a better or worse reason than mine. While it is my experience that all of us want to love and be loved, our motivations, our hopes and desires rarely conform to a set standard.

In my state, the battle continues between those who are seeking to preserve what has been called “traditional marriage” and those who want marriage to include couples of these same gender. Part of the debate has focused on the reasons marriage exists in the first place. Some argue that the entire purpose for marriage is child rearing, and that any conversation about the adults involved is rooted in selfishness.

Strange, I don’t remember that condition being part of what I agreed to when I married Sheryl. I promised to do a great many things. Never did I promise to have children. I understand the perceived assumption, I just don’t agree with it as premise.

Even if I allow that marriage is about raising children, I believe that anyone who loves and cares for children can and should be allowed to raise them. A gay or straight couple can (and already do) equally love and raise healthy, well adjusted, productive children. Equally, they can also (and often do)  raise lousy ones. People are good and bad regardless.

That said, I cant agree that culturally, marriage is somehow at its core only about offspring. Marriage is about love and companionship, an agreement between people that transcends a simple romantic relationship. Children can be a vital, amazing element in that agreement, but they are not always the entire focus, nor are they necessary. Love should be based in selflessness, whether it be directed at a spouse or a child. Degrading the level of commitment of same sex couples, as well as the assumption that their relationships must somehow be selfishly childless is as cowardly as it is inaccurate.

I can say with certainty that while raising my boys has become very important to me, having children didn’t enter into my original motivation for marrying. We didn’t have children for 14 years. Our reasons are our own and I won’t share them, but there was a time when I was reasonably sure I never wanted to have any. I don’t think our marriage was invalid because of its lack of offspring. It certainly is not more important now that we have children. Certainly it is different, but at the core, it is what it always has been-our marriage, our relationship. Our affections for each other are as important as those towards our children. We protect our boys, teach them, love them, but our personal relationship transcends parenthood. It is the way I like it. That personal relationship is the basis of our love.  It is why we married, why we stay married.