Saturday, July 25, 2009

This lovely woman, this lovely book

It seems that everyone I know is reading Vicki Forman's newly-released memoir This Lovely Life. Actually, it seems that everyone I know has already read This Lovely Life. I keep hearing, from person after person, that Vicki's writing is so forcefully engaging that once they started the book, they were unable to put it down. It is that good.

This Lovely Life has had the opposite effect on me. Every time I pick it up and start reading, Vicki's writing is so forcefully engaging that it literally takes my breath away, and I need to put it down - sometimes after several pages and sometimes after just a few paragraphs.

It is that good.

In This Lovely Life, Vicki writes about giving birth to extremely premature twins, Ellie and Evan, about Ellie's death just days later, and about Evan's life with profound disabilities, which started in the NICU and ended after eight years, a year ago yesterday.

Vicki's journey and her story are entirely different from mine, but - I realize as I read - there is significant overlap in emotion, in response, in moments etched in time and impossible to reclaim. My journey to and through parenthood has involved loss and struggle, but I don't write about it much on the pages of this blog - or, frankly, anywhere else. I have neither the talent nor the courage to give words to those emotions or to that history - to give it shape - to make it real - to offer it up to the world at large and say, "See?"

But Vicki has both extraordinary talent and unshakable bravery, and This Lovely Life is infused with both. It is remarkable writing from a remarkable woman, and it is not to be missed.

I usually wait until I've finished reading a book to endorse it, but This Lovely Life is a book that I will be reading for a long time, as I build up the courage to continue, and give myself time and space to be ready to move on. If you have grieved - especially if you have grieved the loss of a child - you may be startled to find that Vicki describes with extraordinary precision emotions and reactions you thought were uniquely your own and, even, emotions and reactions you weren't aware you had until you found yourself breathless with recognition and needing to put the book down.

And if you haven't suffered that kind of loss - and I truly hope you haven't - then go out right now and get This Lovely Life, and then clear your calendar for a couple of days.

You won't be able to put it down.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My country, 'tis of thee

Well, this is a treat.

This one is for all of my fellow left-wing friends who like to tease me about my affinity for country music by suggesting that it's a sign that I might be defecting to the right.

This evening, Michelle Obama (now, I'm afraid, forever Mother of the Year in the eyes of my son) hosted the White House Music Series: A Country Music Celebration, which featured Allison Krauss and Union Station, Charley Pride, and Brad Paisley, and at which -

wait for it -

Barack Obama quoted Dierks Bentley.

And speaking of country music and my fellow left-wing friends, I invite you to click here and listen to Brad Paisley's latest, "Welcome to the Future." Listen to the whole song, and as he gets to the final verse, think about how you felt on November 4, 2008 and January 20, 2009, and try not to get choked up.

I bet you can't do it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Career options

You know, I've gotta say, if the whole Rolf Saxon thing doesn't work out, I think Bud has a future as an A&R man for a record label. Seriously.

Remember back in February when Dierks Bentley's incredible new album, Feel That Fire, was released? Bud went on record at the time with his call for the album's best tracks: "Feel That Fire," "Sideways," "I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes," and "Here She Comes."

Let's review what has happened since then.

"Feel That Fire," the album's first single, went to number one.

A short time later, the album's second single, "Sideways," was released. It, too, went to number one.

And now, Dierks is releasing his third single to country radio: "I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes." For those keeping score at home, that makes Bud three for three.

Of course, from my Bud-centric perspective, I'm not sure how I feel about Dierks' new choice of single. Don't get me wrong - I love the song. I'm just thinking ahead to the video, which is certain to feature steamy footage that could potentially make the sizzling video for "Come A Little Closer" look tame. (You may recall that as Bud watched that one, he gave the play by play: "They're having a nap. They're hugging. They're... having a pajama party?")

Bud actually has a different vision for "I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes." Last week as he was getting ready for bed, we were talking about songs and the emotions they convey. (I've found that this is an especially useful tool to help my little music fan try to adopt another person's perspective to sort out how that person feels and why s/he might feel that way.) We were making our way through Feel That Fire tracks ("Life on the Run" is angry and maybe afraid... "Sideways" is happy, but the "HEY! now" in the lyric might be a little surprised...) when Bud asked "And what kind of song is 'I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes?'"

"Well," I said, "It's a love song."

"No," Bud replied. "It's a lullaby."

"A lullaby?"

"Yes," he said. "Dierks sings it to Evie when she needs to go to sleep."

I reviewed the lyrics in my head - the ones that, up until that moment, could only be about one thing - and suddenly I could see how, when taken from Bud's perspective, they could also be describing a daddy getting his baby ready for bed:

Girl I've been waiting on this long hard day to get over
So I can rest my head right here on your shoulder
I just wanna lay here and feel your breathe
Listen to the rhythm of your heartbeat...
We're wide awake, but girl I wanna make you close your eyes,

and how even the most overtly suggestive lyric could simply be about helping the baby with her pajamas:

And if you need a little bit of help from me,
Babe, there's not a button that I can't reach.

My heart just about melted on the spot.

So, okay, maybe Bud's not quite ready to be in charge of a video shoot; I still think he'd be a great A&R guy.

Just a very, very sweet one.

09/09/09 - Edited to add:
Hurray for Dierks and his new Bud-appropriate video! Check it out!