If there is one thing many of us have in common this past year of staying home, it’s the new hobbies. It goes without saying that this has been a tough year for so many, but one thing that has helped me personally is to take an interest in what others are doing, in terms of new hobbies they have picked up, or perhaps made new commitments to. I’ve been doing this mostly in a more passive sense, as opposed to joining in or leaving comments and so on. It reminds me a bit of how I’ve always liked looking at décor, even if I’m not in the market for it in my own home. I love to see the different things people can come up with, stylish and cozy ways in which to create a retreat away from the world, to decorate a space of their own that reflects their personalities, interests or passions.
As for myself, I have a few projects going, but the one I love best doesn’t provide tangible results. This is because it involves the sharing of conversation with my teenage son, who has for years been a very devoted film aficionado, and recently had begun to invest in television. I’ve always said he is an old soul, and he continues to prove it with his love for shows such as Friends, Cobra Kai and Stranger Things—and that this last one’s Blu Ray case is designed to look like a VHS tape. Our shared watching experiences have provided absolutely endless conversation on too many topics for a small blog entry such as this, so suffice to say, to aim us in one direction: storytelling.
One of the stories I’m in the midst of seeing is within the visual pages of a show called Mad Men, which I never heard of until about a month ago. I agreed to give it a shot—Turtle didn’t think I’d get into it and, to be quite frank, neither did I—but there was something about it that intrigued me. Perhaps because it is set in the 1960s, an alien world of people who drink way too much and dress in a manner I wish we still did today. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the time, but I was also a little curious about getting a glimpse into the ordinary: not just the famous music festivals, protests or political shenanigans. Ordinary. What people wore; how they interacted with one another in everyday lives, not only specific occasions; products they owned or wanted to; what was perceived as good or not so good; how much things cost and so on.
Naturally, this linked to many conversations between Turtle and myself, specifically about music and people’s media for owning it: records. He’d gifted me two for the Christmas last, as a matter of fact, even though I didn’t own a record player. At the time I determined I would need to buy one—I’d been thinking about it anyway—and so last week I did just that. It came so very quickly and I sort of surprised myself at how excited I was. I did a little re-arranging of furniture to accommodate how I wanted it to be set up, and was off. Man, I remember thinking playfully as I plugged it in, the only requirement, apart from pressing the power button, to operate the thing. People in the ‘60s had it made. You plug it in and that’s it! I laughed out loud and joked to my son that they might want to have another few drinks after setting up some of our electronics, what with all the cables and syncing and one device talking to another required for most of it.
Once I got down to listening, I thought about how I used to do this: have music on as I did things around the house. I haven’t actually for a couple of years because my current computer doesn’t have a disk drive, and that’s how I listened to music before. I did have some music loaded onto my computer but for some reason, once I had to stop loading into my iTunes and burning disks, it fell off my radar. This was likely facilitated by my attitude toward owning electronic only, which is not entirely positive. The companies in charge of it can get a bit too grabby for my taste, or sometimes they go away, and your collection might be at their mercy. So I turned back to what we call our boom boom box (after the same name applied to the device by a character in the TV series No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency); the problem with it and the several we owned subsequently is that eventually every CD just started skipping, no matter how new any given one was. After a while I just started turning movies on for the company, and of course life moves on. For better or worse, you forget about Pompeii.
So I stood, transfixed, watching the disk spin on the turntable, listening to the same record about twenty times. And it was glorious. I laugh now because it also has cassette and disk drives, though it never occurred to me that night to retrieve any of mine. Perhaps I was focused on the experience of enjoying music as people in the 60s would have, though I didn’t dare (yet) try to place the needle in the middle of the record—getting it just right on the edge was a satisfactory start. And the records and sleeves smell so wonderful!
Thinking about this as I listened brought me back to my more active poetry-writing days, which also entailed quite a lot of music. This doesn’t surprise me, given the mathematical nature of both, and the manner in which engaging in both creates, at least in my experience, greater drive to engage, to create. The more you do, the more you do. I happened to glance across the room and see my son’s typewriter, which in turn brought me back to those who created in the 1960s. As I sat staring at it and the rhythm of Adele’s voice filled the room, I thought of the stories lived in that era, through times good and bad, and what passions and pursuits filled their tales. With this, I suppose I’m still looking at what other people are doing, but also into their souls. Will I connect with anyone from there? Will some story arise from the conduit of my record player, music and (hopefully inspired) contemplations?
Will our stories be at all alike?
Stay tuned for my first ever product review ~ on the
Victrola 6-in-1 Turntable Entertainment Center