I know it doesn't seem like it, since I have not written much in the last three weeks, but this journal has been on my mind a lot. I have a lot of things that I want to write about, from my trip to Europe, the Cubs, how ridiulous the Senate race here in Illinois has become, and other stuff, but I've been busy and have had neither the time nor inspiration to write. I'll get to that stuff eventually.
I'm on a home improvement deadline here; there's a big social event happening this Sunday, and I promised waaaaaaaay back in April that I would paint the family room sometime this summer. The room needs to be done before the weekend. I am an excellent painter (my humble opinion, of course) but the problem is I am also a very slow painter. I want to do it right, so I take my time. Bottom line is when I am done, it looks great, but it takes me forever to do it. Thus, I will never do this for a living. I've painted six rooms in two different homes this summer and have spent a long time doing it. But it looks great.
Something happened to me today that has made me think about fate, whether it exists (I think it does) and whether it is random or does it intentionally mess with me. I was driving someplace today when Manfred Mann's "I Came For You" played on the radio station I was listening to. I remember that song when it was released sometime in the late 70's and how much I liked it, and as I heard it today, it occurred to me that it had probably been at least fifteen years since I had last heard it.
I also recalled that Bruce Springsteen had recorded a version of that song first that I wasn't as fond of, and that it had been about twenty years since I had heard that particular song.
About two hours later, when I was painting with the radio on in the background set to a different station than what I was listening to in the car earlier, I heard the Springsteen "I Came For You."
So two versions of the same song that I had not heard for a cumulative 35 years (estimated) play within 120 minutes on the same day. Coincidence? Probably, but there is a part of me that thinks that fate knew my reaction to hearing the first song and decided to have a little fun with me by making sure I heard the other version today as well. When you have hours to yourself immersed in a project, you can't help but think about things like that.
This isn't the first time I have experienced something like this. It's happened a lot. The two I think of the most are these:
(And yes, I realize that I have told these stories a lot (not in this blog though) so if you are one of the many people I am repeating this to again, just humor me, OK? You know who you are.)
1. About ten years ago I went shopping for CD's and bought 2-"Duran Duran" by (surprisingly) Duran Duran (it was their first album in a while, the one with "Ordinary World" on it) and "The Best of the Velvet Underground" by (surprise) The Velvet Underground (I had a Lou Reed phase going then). I like to listen to CDs on random shuffle, six at a time, so I never know what song I am going to hear or by who. The first time I listened to these two CDs, I did just that, played them with four others in the stereo. The very first song played was "Femme Fatale" from the Duran Duran CD, not a great song, a little long winded and gloomy, but not bad. That song ended and I heard the player skip over to another CD, and soon the next song began, which was..."Femme Fatale" by The Velvet Underground. I had never heard that particular song before (and more than one person has asked me how I could be considered a fan of The VU and never heard it, but it's true) and obviously when I heard Duran Duran sing it first I thought it was an original of theirs, but it turns out they remade the Velvet Underground version instead.
Again, coincidence? Probably, but think how random all that was. I chose to buy that particular Duran Duran CD, then that VU CD, and then out of six discs with seventy or so total songs on them, those two, the same songs are played first, back to back. It's hard for me not to believe that fate, seeing that I had that Duran Duran CD in my hand to buy, decided to have a little fun with me and drove me to buy the Velvet Underground that day as well.
2. When I was in college we used to frequent a bar called The Deadwood. It was a smokey and dark hangout, and odds were always in your favor of hearing the Grateful Dead on the jukebox there. It was an out of place bar for Iowa City, but that's a different story. The men's room at this place was full of graffiti. One night during the spring I was in the bar with a group of friends when I went into the restroom. While standing at thecommode attending to my business I felt a sneeze coming on, and for some reason I turned my head to the right to do so. I am a violent sneezer, and I jerked my head down a bit during this sneeze. When I opened my eyes, I was facing the wall and directly in front of me someone had wrote very small, in pencil, "God Bless you Jim." And I can tell you that of the thousand or so times I have sneezed in my life, that is probably the only one I remember anything about. So is that fate knowing that is written there, and messing with me again? How could it not be?
I love stories like these because they reaffirm to me how mysterious everything about life is, how none of us can ever be sure just what the hell is really going on, and how every day can and will bring something new to you that you never knew before. We wind up answering questions with questions, and it keeps going and going, if we let it.
It beats watching paint dry.