Songs That Stab Me in the Heart: “Not Alone” by Patty Griffin

I first heard Patty Griffin on KCRW when I moved to the Los Angeles area from Connecticut in 1995.  I was 24 years old and adventurous and stupid and thank God, because at 41 I know all about the things that can go wrong, and if I tried to do something like that all by myself I would surely chicken out now.

I moved into a two bedroom apartment in Pasadena with Lisa.  The building was named Hampshire House, except that the second H was broken, so it looked like Hampshire Louse.  The manager lived on site.  His name was Jay, and he was a camera man, and he was kind enough to let me into my apartment on the few times I locked myself out.

Lisa was in medical school and kept very long hours.  I worked a 9-to-5 job at an insurance company.  I called myself Blue Suit Girl.  I made some other friends but at first I spent almost every Friday night home alone.  I turned this into a ritual that involved dark beer, The X-Files, and assembling Ikea furniture.

One on fine misty day I drove up into the San Gabriel mountains looking for a trailhead, because my favorite exercise in those days was hiking, and I was foolish enough (see above) to go hiking alone on many occasions.  Patty Griffin came on the radio, and I had to pull over to listen.  Her voice cut straight through the mist to my heart.  I sobbed with loneliness and frustration and the relief that coes from being known, even by a songwriter I’d never met.

Griffin’s music has been used to illustrate pop culture enough that you might recognize this song, but before I even listened to the story, the lines soothed me while they made me cry.  Now, of course, it’s exactly the kind of song that stabs me right there.

You are not alone
Laying in the light
Put out the fire in your head
And lay with me tonight

I was talking to a friend earlier today and we were discussing mementos. Sentimental items. Little gifts that have meaning. I said they can remind you of a time when you felt a certain way. And that even if that time and that person is long gone, you can remember that once you held her, or him, and you loved each other, and that happened, and that matters. It’s part of you. You’re not really alone, because one time, somewhere, that love was true.

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Wordless Wednesday: Perry the Platypus Pajamas

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A Month of Reading – Day 25, Catching Up

I haven’t updated this series since December 17!

On December 16 I caught Kyle’s sickness.  The next day, Stewart got it too.  By then Kyle had recovered and Brady seemed to have missed it altogether.  That means in a two-parent home there were two sick parents and two healthy kids.  You know what that means – a sickness that would have taken maybe two days in bed to recover from is still upon us.  With both parents down, neither of us could shoulder the family burden and give the other a 100% break.  We’ve been limping through the days, doing our best to show up for the kids’ holiday stuff, to decorate and wrap presents, bake and frolic.

There was one day, though, when I went to bed early and couldn’t sleep so I read most of an entire book.  Somebody Else’s Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage.  My mother had sent it it to me in a box of gifts, not as a gift itself but as a pay it forward type of thing.  I do that, too. Books I like but don’t need to keep, I give to someone who I think would enjoy it.

Everything I read is so full of violence lately.  Ugh.  But this novel started out more gently, with very vivid character descriptions that I enjoyed.  It turned into a finely-spun web of small-town deceit, but since the genesis of the story was an event borne of love, I had high hopes for the tale to have a happy ending.  Which it does, sort of.  There were gaps in the characters’ actions where I felt that Brundage set up these people in such a way that they veered off in directions that were not exactly believable.  Overall, however, it was a page-turner, full of the kind of descriptive prose that I love, and it was perfect for a sick day in bed.

A few days ago I started reading J.K. Rowling’s latest, A Casual Vacancy, which is our next book club selection.  It starts with somebody dying.  It’s not terrible, but I think I need to read some Nancy Drew because I just can’t take any more gruesome or sad books right now.

I’ve read other stuff in the last week or so, but I can’t remember it.  My head is still full of snot.

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Change Can Be Good: Oral B ProfessionalCare 1000 Electric Toothbrush

Years ago, after I would I get my teeth cleaned at the dentist’s office, I would go across the street and treat myself to a salted bagel, toasted, with strawberry cream cheese.  That’s because there was an awesome bagel shop there, and I used to have to drive 30 minutes to get to my dentist’s office.

That was kind of dumb, because there’s nothing better than the way your teeth feel after a good cleaning by a dental hygienist.

Moving to our new town 2.5 years ago cured me of this ruinous habit, because now we live only 5 minutes away from the dentist office, and there’s really no novelty to going to that bagel shop anymore, now that I can go anytime I want to.  So now I get to relish that squeaky-clean feeling on my teeth after my appointments.

But just this morning I noticed that I have that feeling right now, even though it’s been a little while since I went in for a teeth cleaning.   It’s because I’ve been using an electric spinny toothbrush that is just like the one the hygienist uses.

After I went to O You! 2012 as a guest of Oral B, the company sent me an oral health care package that included the Oral B ProfessionalCare 1000 electric toothbrush, a box of Crest White Strips, and flossers, toothbrushes, and toothpaste for both of my kids.  That way I could experience the kind of at-home self-care they were promoting to guests at the O You! event at their booth.

Stewart, my husband, has used an electric toothbrush for years now, and recently he even added a WaterPik device to his arsenal of dental care devices.  But I’m rather resistant to change, and I’ve been happy with my regular old manual toothbrush and regular flossing. I may not have tried this electric toothbrush had it not been sent to me as a PR gift.

So here’s what I think about it:

During the first few days of using the Oral B ProfessionalCare 1000, (which retails around $40, plus extra for replacement heads) I drooled like a teething 1-year-old as I brushed my teeth.  Without the dental hygienists sucking device to whisk away the extra saliva, that’s just what happened.  I’ve learned to angle my head differently, but it took some getting used to.

The process is a lot less labor intensive than using a manual toothbrush, and as such it doesn’t feel like I’m putting in the work to get my teeth clean.  That’s just it – the rotating brush does all the work for you.  This week it’s been extra helpful because I’ve been sick and I need conserve my energy anyway.

I can’t ignore the clean feeling – I never got that with my old toothbrush.  It is so worth it.  I am looking forward to hearing what my hygienist says when I go back to the dentist for my next cleaning.  Ever the good student, I always want to get an A in teeth, and I’m sure this handy electric toothbrush is helping.

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