I backed my car into a cop car the other day. Well he just drove off. Sometimes life’s ok. I ran my mouth off a bit too much. Oh what did I say? Well, you just laughed it off. It was all ok. A fake Jamaican took every last dime with that scam. It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand. Bad news comes. Don’t you worry even when it lands. Good news will work its way to all them plans. We both got fired on the exactly the same day. Well we’ll float on. Good news is on the way. –Modest Mouse, “Float On”
“I think I just fell off the deep end.”
A text I received today from a distraught friend. After discussing her situation, I too concluded that she had in fact, fallen off the deep end. The good news is that nobody has to stay there. Very few things in life are actually permanent aside from death. As much as we feel stuck and lost, we can always change our minds. We can always change our path.
We can always change our mind.
I have been housesitting for Mr. Elwood and Mama Bear while they’re on a birthday fishing trip for Mama Bear’s Nth birthday. My days have been spent alternately throwing a tennis ball for a wiener dog with unlimited energy and driving. Throwing a tennis ball for a wiener dog with unlimited energy because I adore him and it makes me happy to see him so happy and driving so much because Mr. Elwood and Mama Bear live out in the middle of nowhere, a million miles from the nearest semblance of civilization (that’s not even an exaggeration). So to get to Sarah Mac Band practice or the grocery, you have to drive until your next birthday.
Luckily, I have one speaker left in my 12 year old car. It proudly pumps out (with moderate consistency) whichever cd I fancy at the moment in tinny, whiny, distorted, bursts of joy. These last three days, for all of my driving (which has been quite a bit more than normal because of my remote location), I’ve been listening to one song, on one cd, on repeat. Over and over and over and over. (For some reason, it’s not annoying to me like the incessant complaints of a wiener dog’s squeaky toy.)
“Why,” you might ask, “would a grown woman, a musician especially, choose to listen to the same song on repeat for three days?”
The answer is simple. It makes me feel really happy. Like, bubbling up from depths that I didn’t know that my body was big enough to encompass happy. Like, finding a little local shop that’s beautifully decorated and staffed by people who are clean and wear quaint, kitschy, handmade aprons while they serve you vegan ice cream that tastes like caramel and schnozberries and passion fruit (“Schnozberries? Who ever heard of a schnozberry?”) and still has the right texture happy. Like, when you wake up in the morning after a deep, full night of sleep, and your body just wants to hug you all over for giving it such a gift happy. Like, when you see your wiener dog doing flips because he’s so proud of himself for catching the tennis ball in midair before it even bounced on the ground once happy.
As I was reading my texts from the friend-off-the-deep-end (at a stop light of course because I walked through the room as Charlie’s wife, Jaye, was watching the cliffhanger episode of Glee where the snobby blonde girl got into a car accident because she was texting while driving to her frenemy’s wedding to her ex-boyfriend and I thoroughly understand the dangers— seriously, I do), I laughed a little. Not because I think anything less of the direness of her situation, but rather because I recognized that right now it seems like the world’s biggest, most pressing, unsolvable problem, and then one day, we’ll all look back on it and laugh… or at least, have a different perspective on it than we all do right now, when we’re swimming in the emotional wreckage of it.
We can always change our mind.
When Modest Mouse released their album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News in April of 2004, I did not love the album. In fact, I really didn’t like it at all. Little Tommy, Charlie’s young son, who was probably tweenaged at the time, had just come into a musical awakening. It was so fun for me because for the first time in a long time, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit with whom I could discuss music in a way that would probably remind people of Lincoln from Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. For the most part, we shared new music we had discovered and sat together, listening, dissecting, and discussing. Throughout those discussions, which eventually ceased as Tommy discovered video games and girls (in that order), we kept coming back to one bitter disagreement: Good News for People Who Love Bad News. He thought that it was a great album. Maybe not epic (as we agreed that Portishead was), but definitely solid. I thought that it was harsh and difficult to listen to, and I just didn’t like it.
For the record, Charlie says that I am hard to decipher when I talk about why I do or don’t like something… mainly, I think because he is a “narrator” and wants to walk you through all of the mental steps in his thought process that got him to the point where he felt like he could justify feeling a certain way about whatever thing it is. I, on the other hand, usually have an instantaneous, very strong emotional response, “I love it and it makes me happy,” or “It’s kind of yucky and it makes me think of mucus.”
Using the word mucus to describe your dislike of something is one of Charlie’s pet peeves. I most likely used that word when explaining to Tommy why I was not keen on having another go at listening through the Good News for People Who Love Bad News album. He most likely didn’t understand the deep meaning behind such an explanation (itis the kind of adjective that can only be understood by deeply intellectual types).
Interestingly, in the past month or so, while snooping through a box in Charlie and Jaye’s den that was soon to be donated to Goodwill, I found (now grown up) Tommy’s scratched up, long deserted copy of Good News for People Who Love Bad News. I thought that it was worth another listen to see if my mind had changed any in the past eight years and surprisingly, it has.
I was shocked that a second listen deemed the album to be good. Maybe not epic (as I believe Portishead to be), but definitely solid. I like the album. A lot. So much so that as I re-assess it now, I can’t really remember what it was that eight years ago, led me to dig my heels in and so staunchly insist that it was like mucus. So much so that one of the singles, “Float On,” is the song that I’ve been listening to on repeat like Diane Court probably will years later when she finds herself in an unhappy marriage and wants to relive what it feels like to be wanted.
I changed my mind.
It took me a long time to get here. But, I’m glad that I made it, because I’ve been driving around Tallahassee these past few days (likely) high enough to get a DUI solely from the serotonin and dopamine and other forms of good mojo that are intensely infused into my soul through my eardrums from that song.
The Sarah Mac Band is playing a concert on Friday, June 22 (tomorrow, or tonight… it’s kind of late as I write this) in Tallahassee. It’s our last concert in our hometown until the release party for our upcoming new album. We posted a contest on our Facebook site for our Tallahassee fans. The first person to guess the new cover that we’ll be debuting at this show can get in free with a guest to the show. As soon as the contest went up, the guesses started pouring in. Some were quite amusing, like the guess that I received via text from Baby Bear:
“On snap, y’all are playing my song on Friday!!”
To which, I responded, “Which song?”
“Whitney Houston!!!!!!!! I’m so excited.” (This is in reference to “The Greatest Love of All” which I sang for my fifth grade graduation. Scars from which Baby Bear still holds, but regards fondly due to Stockholm Syndrome.)
I broke it to her gently, “Naw girl. It’s not Whitney. Sorry. But it’s still fun. I think you’ll like it.”
“Damn… Black Velvet?” (This seemingly random second guess is in reference to the 1990 song by Canadian artist Alannah Myles which won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance. Not random though, because nary a month passes without Baby Bear finding some way to tie me to that song with her strange, twisted, “I was in the marching band in high school” musical logic.)
“Naw girl. I hate that song. I know you think I love it, but it irritates me.” (At this point, I consider telling her that it makes me think of mucus, but I think that the reference will be lost one her, which will cause her to make fun of me for being weird.)
“You used to sing it ALL the time. Don’t even lie.”
“Hmmm… guess I grew out of that phase when I grew out of a c-cup.”
We can always change our mind.
All of these amount to my words (of wisdom?) for my dear friend who fell off the deep end today. You don’t have to stay there. Maybe you want to swim around in it for a little while, because it’s a nice change. Everyone likes the weightlessness that comes from being in water. But, when you’re ready to get out, there’s room for that, too.
You can always change your mind.
And we’ll all float on alright. Already, we’ll all float on alright. Don’t worry even if things end up a bit too heavy, we’ll all float on alright. Already, we’ll all float on alright. Already we’ll all float on. Ok, don’t worry we’ll all float on. Even if things get heavy we’ll all float on. –Modest Mouse, “Float On”