I won’t talk about unpacking anymore (after this)

We are now down to unpacking the dining room. We have no pressing urge to unpack the dining room. And the guest bedroom. That will need some actual attention.

Today, some things got put on some walls. This is always an interesting exercise. New house, same decor. On the one hand, this is very comforting. The bedroom — aside from a wacky paint decision and, for the first time ever, having windows at the head of the bed — is starting to feel like a familiar place. Those picture frames are an important part of that. But then you might think, Oh this one again, eh?

And then you feel bad about that. Because you love that souvenir print, or the photo you took or the gift you received.

I wonder if people on makeover shows feel this way too.

This looks great, but why did you leave my freckles on my face?

These are the things that help make us who we are, though, and you do love that print, that photo and that sign you got a few Christmases ago.

Yesterday I unpacked my audio equipment. Now I just need to deaden the sound in my home office-studio. That’ll take forever to agonize over.

Today I unpacked my half of the library. The joy, the challenge, of unpacking your library is putting things back on shelves thinking, “I should read this again. And I should read that again. And I should read … ”

I alternated between thoughts of kicking myself, in the haste and hustle of packing ourselves, I did not think about it at the time, but maybe I should have photographed how I had my books displayed in their book cases. On the other hand, this is kind of freeing and I can make this a new start, with my old books. And also my new ones.

(At least I photographed how we’d built the cat trees, they were reassembled easily, and before most everything else for some reason.)

So, of course The Gloms are in chronological order here in my office. The other two bookshelves in my office, which hold the Books To Read have been loosely arranged in order of interest and priority. But in the library downstairs, there were boxes to open and shelves to fill today. How to do that?

I’m not going to say it took longer than it should, because these are books and this is important — and no I do not use the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress Classification system and, no, I am not a librarian, why do you ask? It took as long as it should, because I reworked the shelves a few times.

Memoirs and autobiographies got two shelves. Cycling books got a shelf. Textbooks and the like got a bottom shelf. (I still have two bins of actual textbooks that are awaiting their eventual fate. They will stay packed up at least through the summer.) Pretty much an entire bookcase is devoted to history. And there’s a pile of things over on a chair that I’m going to donate, or put in a little library. And there are some biographies that are somehow missing … maybe they’re with the kitchen knife and the good scissors.

It is strange what goes missing when you pack in haste.

This evening, we had a lap swim. The Yankee easily outpaced the ducky.

For my part, I swam a half-mile, 832 yards. Not bad for my third lap swim of the last week, which was also my third lap swim since 2015. Oddly enough it felt … good? Is that the word I want there? Was that because the water was hot-in-July? Every time The Yankee finished a (much more impressive) set she’d break the surface and say, “Uuuugh,” in a non-ironic way. Swimmers like the pool to be colder. Helps with the speed. Goosebumps are hydrodynamic it turns out.

That’s not the case, at all, actually.

Anyway, I feel like I’m close to a technique breakthrough, or at least a conscious-brain understanding of something. It will have nothing to do with kicking, of course, but there’s a progression to be made. And I wasn’t even especially sore or tired. Because I only swam 832 yards. Let’s see what happens this weekend when I add on a few more laps. And, also, if I can raise my arms above my head tomorrow. Let’s see what happens there, first.

OK, this is the penultimate performance I’ll share from the Indigo Girls concert we saw last month, which also happened to be simultaneously both yesterday and 18 months ago.

This is a song from the 2004 album “All That We Let In,” and, while it isn’t a song for everyone, and it is a bit of a divergence from the band’s brand, it puts Amy Ray’s power squarely on display. And here’s the thing I learned about lifetime activists playing near their metaphorical backyard in these trying times — and during Pride, no less — they didn’t make a big deal of much of anything in this concert, though they certainly had the receptive audience. I’m sure they know what works for them and their fans by now. And I’m certain that people who do real community work, as Ray and Saliers have since the 1980s, know something said into a microphone is minuscule compared to raising money and using elbow grease. But in these moments, where showing one’s support is a sort of social capital, this is understated. Four words, right there in Nashville, right before one of the more straightforward socially driven protest songs in their catalog, and that was all. That’s all she needed.

Speaking of Ray’s power. Tomorrow we’re closing this little feature with the best song of the night. It was a moment, and I can’t wait to watch it again.

Back to the Re-Listening project, and we have a lot of catching up to do from the long car ride. Let’s chip away, shall we? (I’m still a dozen discs behind.) Remember, I am listening to all of my old CDs, in the order in which I acquired them, and trying to think of something to write about them here, while I embed videos from YouTube.

Fiona Apple’s “When the Pawn…” was released in November 1999, the second studio album for the young phenom. She won a Grammy for a debut record in 1997, which came out when she was 20. The followup got two more Grammy nominations. Spin magazine called it the the 106th greatest of the last quarter century in 2010. For Slant Magazine it was listed as the 79th best album of the 1990s. No less than Rolling Stone ranked “When the Pawn…” at number 108 on its 2020 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. It finally went platinum that same year.

To me, her debut, “Tidal” is an incredible record. And more than a quarter of a century later it still feels fresh and raw, sure, but also accomplished and something which demands attention. “When the Pawn …,” however, easy to have on in the background without notice. I don’t write the Re-Listening project entries as reviews, of course, but usually try to associate them with some silly memory or odd bit of personal trivia. But I can’t think of a single thing that goes along with this record. I can’t even recall hearing it in the car this time around, though I know I was in Ohio at the time, and that was just two weeks ago. (To be fair, I was very tired, and probably distracted.)

The next thing on the playlist was another sophomore release, Filter’s “Title of Record.” They got good alt radio airplay, and even MTV spun their video, and so they moved more than 800,000 copies between August 1999 and early 2001. Sometime after, they went platinum.

Three singles, but I only bought it for one, a good belt-out track. I was apparently not alone in that. This song climbed into the top-20 on nine different international charts. Domestically, “Take A Picture” reached number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100, topped the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and peaked at number four on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and landed at third on the Modern Rock Tracks chart at number three. It also settled at number seven on the Adult Top 40, and number 15 on the Mainstream Top 40 at number 15. The year 2000 was a good year for Filter, one hopes.

I was in a grocery store parking lot, a Meijer, in Middletown, Ohio when that sixth track came on. (Their next show, in August, is at a festival in Ohio.) It’s always been a car track to me, and so this was appropriate, even if I was riding at a parking lot speed as opposed to the usual interstate speed.

Funny how I think of almost every car song as being heard on only really fast roads. High(er) speeds just go with music, and most of the commutes of my life.

Let’s do one more CD, just to get it out of the way. After Filter there was Third Eye Blind’s “Blue.” Didn’t care for it when it came out — if I know how much airplay they were going to get I would have not purchased it — and I don’t care for it now.

That was quick. But not interstate quick.

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