Tag Archives: Counting Crows

August and Everything After

10 Aug

CountingCrowsAugustandEverythingAfter

It’s August. How did that happen? This summer seems to have flown by. What do I have to show for it? A faded sunburn. An outdoor theatre experience. A few trips out to the boroughs, where it’s much more pleasant to dine al fresco. A writing intensive that resulted in a couple more chapters of my memoir written. But have I lived a life worthy of a new memoir?

Have I seized the day? Have I made it to the Met to see the rooftop installation? Have I stuck my toes into the cold waters of the Atlantic? Have I rode the Wonder Wheel? Have I packed my bags and jetted off to an exotic location? No. It feels like most days I have been bogged down with freelance work. Bogged down with obligations. Bogged down with emotions. Bogged down with rain.

It’s so easy to lose track of time. The older I get, the faster time flies.

In 1993 Counting Crows put out August and Everything After. The album is perhaps the most influential album on my life. My friend lent me the album, and I played it on my walkman over and over and over and over. I remember sitting in the car while my family shopped at a gardening store and just listening to the album on repeat. The melancholy lyrics spoke to my teenaged self. The album got me into the literature of Saul Bellow, who became one of my favorite authors. Years later, a friend in college and I bonded over our adoration of the album. Sometime later, another friend and I went to see the Counting Crows in concert with the Goo Goo Dolls. Years after that, a boyfriend put one of the songs on a mixtape for me. Then years after that, another boyfriend also liked Counting Crows. The years pile up. More memories get made.

And now it’s August and I’m wondering what the “Everything After” is….

 

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The Quote that Stuck with Me

19 Dec

dangling

On Tuesday I posted about the 10 Books That Have Stuck with Me. From those books, there is one quote that’s stuck with me the most. It’s from Saul Bellow’s The Dangling Man. The truth is, I don’t even remember the book all that well, but this quote spoke to me when I was sixteen and living in the suburbs of New Jersey, my daily life a boring routine:

It may be that I am tired of having to identify a day as “the day I asked for a second cup of coffee,” or “the day the waitress refused to take back the burned toast,” and so want to blaze it more sharply, regardless of the consequences. Perhaps, eager for consequences.

I wasn’t the type of person back then who would even send back a piece of burned toast. …I’m still not. I was terribly fearful of consequences. Too fearful to even act most of the time. I tried to be invisible, to blend into the background, to not be seen by my teachers or my peers. I was too afraid. Too afraid of attention. Too afraid at failing. Too afraid at even succeeding (no one likes a know-it-all overachiever).

I had actually gotten turned on to Saul Bellow from The Counting Crows. (Hey, I’m not the only one!) In The Counting Crows song “Rain King,” inspired by Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King, Duritz sings:

I belong anywhere but in between

I loved the passion of Bellow’s and Duritz’s characters, but they were not me. I related more to another line from Duritz’s most famous song, “Mr. Jones“:

Grey is my favorite color

I wasn’t a black-or-white person. I didn’t like extremes. I liked the grey, the in between–the safe.

But I was bored. So bored. I could relate to Bellow’s character who wanted a life that consisted of more than just a mild aberration of the routine.

I don’t blame New Jersey or suburban life. Though it was really hard to have a life when you go to school for eight hours a day and then come home to several more hours of homework each night, I can’t even just blame that because I can’t say that I did anything extraordinary in the free time that I did have. I went to the mall. I went to the library. I went to Blockbusters and rented videos with my friends.

It really wasn’t until I left and moved out to California and began taking chances that my life changed. I began to feel more fulfilled as I reached for the things that truly made me happy. I began doing more, choosing more.

All these years later, living in “the city that never sleeps,” I worry I don’t embrace New York City enough. I worry that because I work late hours in the office or find myself at the grocery store instead of at the latest hotspot that I’m not living life to the fullest. That my life is defined by the day there was zucchini bread in the office kitchen or the day the lights eerily went out in the subway for a thirty seconds. And yet sometimes I’m at my happiest when I decide to read a book  instead of going out.

I’m not so afraid of living life anymore, but sometimes I still like the grey, the in between, the routine of toast and coffee.

 

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!