Monday, November 18, 2013

Blog 7: What's on me mind?

Blog 7: What's on my mind/Shelley Williams/Engl 3840

"Everybody's talkin' at me . . . [something, something?] I don't hear the words they're saying. . . I just hear the echoes in my mind. . . ." Okay, so thems not the actual lyrics verbatim from a song I heard on the Lawrence Welk re-runs I saw in passing when I visited briefly with my parents during Sunday dinner (and the TV is always on because it's my mom's visual candy next to murder mysteries she devours like Lay's potato chips and which my dad can scarcely keep up with from trips to the library for her since she no longer drives).

It reminded me of a book I had read that a friend gave me called Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire by Poe Ballentine. Prior to that, I had read something(s) else of his, I believe dealing with occupation (not to the degree Studs Terkel does, but . . . ). Anywho, I liked the book, and that's what came to mind when I read the prompt about what's on my mind. In other words, my mind drifted directly to the words "on my mind" from those song lyrics. I associate this to that, that to this, in direct word fashion, always trying to build meaning as I go. Sometimes there's fair little, but it doesn't keep me from trying.

What this brings also to my mind is that I may have responded completely differently to this prompt if I had actually done it on time, but I suspect I'd still have weighed in on what was meaningful and associative for me at the time with the prompt itself, which is the point--an immediate reponse or a response of immediacy to the written prompt of the moment. 

Back to my earlier stream of consciousness, I was actually happy to see my parents can get stuck in a time warp via that show (Lawrence Welk) because, really, the world as it is now is pretty damn topsy turvy.  I thought it was sweet when I asked what the name of the black tap dancer that was tapping on the program to the song "Mr. Bogangles." They couldn't remember but said he was on every week, like he's a regular, as if he were still alive.  I unthinkingly burst their bubble to remind them that he probably wasn't alive anymore. They acquiesced to that.

My parents, my mother and stepdad, met back in the days when people knew how to dance as part of social etiquette. In fact, I got to see the old Salt Lake Terrace Ballroom that had those Big Band panels each musician sat behind before it went the way of entropy and decay (is that redundant?). That reminds me the first I learned of entropy, surprisingly in a book called Grammatical Man, that I think was required or recommended reading for one of my graduate courses. Anyway, the moral decline of the world is on my mind a lot lately. I never used to consider myself conservative, but if someone doesn't retain/maintain that which is good from the past, how does it not pass into the annals of history or MeTV (which used to be called Nickelodon, I think; see, "me" is the new god of choice). I digress. I just wish we could hold onto the good things without technology and the new and supposed "progress" displacing all that.

As former ballroom dancers, the closest my folks can get in the present (via TV land/surrogate life) is archived Lawrence Welk shows, or, Monday-night "Dancing With the Stars," which can actually get pretty raunchy by the benign standards of the 70's and early 80's when the Welk show was still on. Back then, "Staying Alive" was actually considered a pretty heady "real life" (a.k.a. gritty) look at the popular disco dancing of the day. What was once considered edgy is now blasé. And so the beat goes on.

Before I re-enrolled in school, yet again for another make-over of myself, I interviewed for positions at charter schools, (the only public schools that sort of gave me a cursory "look-see" but ultimately in favor of what felt like back-pocket candidates based on the questions they did and did not ask me). A few of those schools were implementing social dance as part of their curriculum.  These culminated in "cotillions" at some of the junior highs, which I thought was cool, and I really wanted to work at this one near Draper. But alas, I was nearly promised the job, but must have really botched something or been displaced by a really stellar individual they interviewed. The bottom line is that I don't get to be a part of that as yet, if ever. Time will tell. And with it, hell cometh at us with great fury.

As an atheist professor I knew used to say, "Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?" I thought it was exceptionally funny, and somewhat clever, especially if he coined that himself. But upon closer inspection, there's a bittersweet irony (and maybe therein lies its most potent humor factor), in the fact that an atheist doesn't draw attention to hell because he doesn't believe it exists anymore than heaven. But, perhaps he was drawing attention to the language we use to describe our language use--the poking fun of that hell and handbasket cliché. Either way, I liked the saying. What can I say? I like language. Words can be our friends, our lovers, our deceivers. And, of course, the all-important "all of the above."


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