Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Squirrels, heartbreak and friggin' Natalie Portman

First off, happy Valentine's Day eve. No, that's not a holiday I normally celebrate, but the journalist in me appreciates timely posts and I needed a good intro for the latest squirrel update:

As Minnie Mouse would say, they're Bow-utiful. 

Moving on, while checking out the show schedule at my local theater, I was excited to find out that Josh Ritter is coming back to town in May. I sat in the front row when he came through town in 2011 in support of his album "So Runs the World Away" -- the show was fantastic. 

It was such a pleasure to watch a performer who was so totally in his element and took so much joy from the music he played. It was infectious. And he was so gracious to the audience -- even donning a York Revolution jersey at the end of the show as seen here (in miniature):

(Here's an easier-to-understand version of the song)

I'm generally not one to fawn over musicians*, but he was adorable. I thought we could be friends. In fact, while I'm thinking about it, I think I'd add him to my list of people I'd want to go on a celebrity cruise** with (the only other people on the list right now are Tina Fey and Terry Gross -- it's a very selective cruise). And it's not just his stage presence. He's a wonderful songwriter, too. 

In a note on his website about his new album "The Beast in its Tracks" (due out March 5), Ritter writes: 

"I wrote and recorded this record in the 18 months after my marriage had fallen apart. All heartbreak is awful – my broken heart wasn’t unique. But writing these songs was helping me get through the night and I didn’t have the strength to care or question.
It felt like a different record from the start. Far from the grand, sweeping feel of the songs on So Runs the World Away, these new ones felt like rocks in the shoe, hard little nuggets of whatever they were, be it spite, remorse, or happiness. I told all this to Sam Kassirer, my producer and friend. If we recorded these songs, which felt so personal, their starkness needed a corresponding simplicity of production.
I hadn’t composed this stuff, I’d scrawled it down, just trying to keep ahead of the heartbreak, and they needed to be recorded like that."
Even in writing about writing his songs, he's a poet. I love the description of his songs as rocks in his shoe, but what stuck out to me the most was this line:

"I hadn’t composed this stuff, I’d scrawled it down, just trying to keep ahead of the heartbreak..."

Heartbreak comes in so many forms and of course it's been the driver for my novel. I would love to keep ahead of it. There are times when I hear it all flooding out in my head, the words to my racing heartbeats tumbling over each other begging to be written down, but I'm not a responsible writer. I don't always have a pen and paper or a laptop handy. In fact most of these moments happen when I'm out walking or in the thick of various family crises (Jovie's screaming for dinner, Lily wants chocolate milk, the dog is staring mournfully at his empty bowl) -- not ideal times to drop everything and get it out.  

Even today, I can recall the where I was walking or what I was doing when the muses were speaking, but for the life of me, I can't remember what they were saying. I know the sentiments, but the magic of the moment is lost. 

So what's a mom/wannabe novelist to do? How do I keep all those moments from slipping away while staying in tune to the needs of my family? I laugh as I re-read that sentence. When your family is playing in the key of "I NEED 9 BILLION THINGS AND I NEED THEM ALL RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!" it's clear where the priorities are. 

I know it sounds bitter and silly to mourn the loss of a few sentences when I have the gift of these two marvelous little people who, despite their endless demands, can cancel out all the world's suffering with a smile. I know this.

But damn. I almost had it.

* Well. This might not be entirely true. I have been known to engage on some minor fawning over Bob Crawford, the bass player for the Avett Brothers. I have a slight weakness for bass players.*** 

** I've never had any interest on going on a cruise. But I haven't seen any celebrity mountain retreats or celebrity beach vacays offered ... so cruise it is.

*** Also, I don't feel the slightest bit guilty sharing this. Especially because in the course of writing this post a Dior commercial featuring Natalie Portman came on and Brad let me know she's on his short list and that she deserved to flop into piles of flowers and skip about town in super-fancy dresses and pose in front of gigantic bottles of perfume. Friggin' Natalie Portman.

(More reasons to love Josh Ritter: Listen the sweetest breakup song you'll ever hear: "Joy to You Baby"

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