I’m an agnostic, but hopeful polytheist. I don’t know if there are any gods, but I hope so. I hope the world is full of mysteries, seen and unseen. I hope, when my ancestors hung their enemies on the big tree in front of the great temple in Uppsala to please the Old Man, that it did. I hope, when my dad heard a voice in an empty church telling him to be a minister, that it was really his God and not my uncle trying to get him out of the house.
One of the reasons I remain hopeful is that the world is filled with bizarre coincidences that make you wonder if things aren’t deliberately organized in an aesthetically delightful way.
Take musical coincidences. On Saturday morning, I was in the shower singing “I’ve Got Spurs that Jingle, Jangle, Jingle” and making up words to the verses, because, though I love the chorus, I can’t ever remember if it’s Mary Ann or Betty Sue or who that I’m leaving behind or why, so I just leave all the people I can think of for all the inane reasons I can come up with.
But really, when was the last time you heard that song?
So, there we are at dinner that night at Ted’s Big Game Grill, eating our bison and oxen and giant squid, when what song starts playing in the background?
Then, yesterday, I’ve got some old tape from Elias playing in the car (labeled helpfully, “JR told me to make this for you.”) and listening over and over to Ry Cooder singing “Going to Brownsville” which has this awesome verse that goes, “The girl I love, she’s got great long curly hair” and this kind of drunken swagger of a guitar line, like how a jar of moonshine means you only get four well-paced steps between reels. “No (step), I’ve (step) got (step) it (step), oh wait, no I don’t (stumble all around).”
So, the song has all these layers, this kind of low steady stomp at the bottom, this crazy, drunken guitar part, and Cooder over top singing about a woman with great long curly hair. It’s enough to make a curly-haired woman want to grow it out.
But I go back again last night to listen to Wil Haygood and Robert Gordon read some from their work, and Robert Gordon has this video clip of Furry Lewis playing guitar in his living room (Furry’s not Robert’s) and Lewis is mumbling and plucking and not really playing much of anything and then he starts into “Going to Brownsville, take that right hand road” and I was like, “what the fuck? No.” but then he’s singing, “the girl I love, she’s got great long, curly hair.”
Maybe it’s the new office, responsible for all the mystical things. As I’ve bitched about before, I don’t have a window, so I went to great lengths to try to make the room a happy place to live, even without an outside view. I made this sun catcher out of old beach glass, chunks of stained glass and floral wire, and I was going to hang it on the wall.
But I couldn’t find a place in the office where it fit and looked good. So, the Professor came over and helped me take it apart, and she climbed up on a footstool on top of a chair and I handed her up chunks of my sun catcher and she hung them from the ceiling.
It looks awesome.
The other day, a guy poked his head in, looked up at my ceiling, and said, “Wow, this is really beautiful. I can tell this has some sacred significance for you. What does it mean?”
It doesn’t mean anything, except that I choose to accept and foster aesthetic delight. But it tickles me that someone would think it had sacred significance.