#179: The Rolling Stones, Now! by The Rolling Stones


The Rolling Stones, Now! by The Rolling Stones (1965)

Favorite Tracks: "Mona (I Need You Baby)" and "Down the Road Apiece"

Thoughts: Is this really only our 4th Rolling Stones album? It feels like there's been at least 8. This album was their 3rd American album.

During the cover of Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" I felt like I was hearing lyrics from the Beatles' "Come Together"!  I looked it up and Chuck Berry's music publisher sued John Lennon for copyright infringement!  Apparently it was settled out of court. Do you see how it's impossible for me to review a Stones album without bringing up The Beatles? Totally impossible.

"Down the Road Apiece" was fun--I could easily picture people dancing wildly to it. Other than that, it was a decent Stones album. It's pretty hard for me to dislike anything from 1965, but to say it belongs at #179? Puh-LEEZE. Far too forgettable for that ranking, in my opinion.

Is This Better Than Fleetwood Mac?:

Fabric Button Kits: One Of Crafting's Greatest Secrets*


*Or I'm Crafting's Greatest Ignorami. One of the two.

I haven't been super inspired to blog anything but poetry lately, and I apologize for that. Not only do they tend to be pretty sad, they are also probably violating various copyright laws that I will pay for later in fines and/or jail.

I've still been making stuff, I've just felt less keen about sharing it. I feel the same about what I'm doing around my house. I don't know why. I'm sure it's just a phase.

I can't remember if I've said so before, but now I cut my own hair. And I like it SHORT. Like, Judi Dench short. Wearing long, dangly earrings with short hair feels too fancy, so I prefer studs. In college I bought fabric covered button earrings from Anthropologie and thought they were the coolest ever. I'm sure I paid at least $10 or $12 for them, not realizing how simple they were to make.

Now I'm a button earring fiend.

Careful, they're addictive. I will soon have a pair for every day of the year. 

still we go on pretending stories like ours have happy endings


I got a call today that I expected but was still sad to receive. A month or so ago I applied through my employer for Long Term Care insurance. It's something I'd never thought of until my last two grandparents passed away, both in need of medical care and assisted living. Once I realized I could apply for LTC insurance through my employer, I became a bit obsessed. I'm in a place right now where I'm looking to my future, and what it might look like if nothing changed too drastically from how it is today. I know that seems ridiculous--I'm still in my 20s, how could I possibly think life won't change? But I own my place and like my job and love my cats, so short of something really unexpected, there's reason to believe I might continue down my current path--which would be great! I'm happier than I've been in a very long time.

So when I look to the years when I'll be elderly, I want to be prepared to take care of myself. I'm the youngest in my immediate family, so there's no guarantee anyone will be around or be able to take care of me or provide the help I may or may not need when the times comes. I've tried talking about this with some friends, and a few of them have had very strong reactions. They asked why on EARTH would I be worrying about this already? What a downer! The short answer is in two parts: 1) I'm terrible at saving money, and 2) I don't want to have to worry about how I'll pay for medical bills or hospice or a wheelchair or whatever when I'm retired. Maybe it's partially to do with the fact that I've been hospitalized and paid big bills and needed physical therapy aids like a walker and a shower chair. I've seen a glimpse of that life, and while I can't know that's what I'll need when I'm old, I don't want to worry about it. God knows if I will need lots of medical care when I'm old, and it's even half as hard to live through at 75 as it was as a 25, money concerns should not have to be on my mind.

LTC insurance would make sure I have a little nest-egg of money ready for me when the time comes, money I'll have invested in making sure the last season of my life isn't one spent stressed about health-related funds and taking care of myself. I've even looked up nursing homes to compare rates! I felt so much security and satisfaction in knowing 28 year old Maryann was looking out for 70 or 80 year old Maryann. My dad always reminds me to be my own best advocate, and this felt like a manageable and mature way to do that.

I was completely honest on my work's LTC insurance application, somehow confident that my employee status would make it virtually impossible for them to refuse me. So when a letter arrived last week saying I'd been declined coverage, I was pretty shocked. I thought they'd at least offer me a plan with higher premiums before denying me outright. But no. Their reasons for declining coverage: my spina bifida and depression. I was surprised that these two issues would be such major factors, since they are both under control and successfully treated.

I'm doing so well with both of them that I had the foolhardy confidence to think they wouldn't keep me from something as standard and everyday as LTC insurance. I mean, the chances of me a) living to old age and b) needing medical help/assisted living are fairly chance-y to begin with! Plus, I'm offering to give them money every month for the next 50 some years--would my spina bifida and depression cause issues in my old age all that different from the most common elderly needs? Apparently. Never mind that I could easily die in a car crash or a have a middle-age heart attack or trip over a cat and die on the floor of my bathroom and they would get to keep all that cash and not have to give me any of it back.

Shortly after the letter arrived so did an e-mail from my employer's insurance consultants with good news: I had only been denied by one company! They could send a generic form to all their other partner companies that offer LTC insurance. So with "cautious optimism and guarded hope" I submitted another application. Today I got a phone call from the consultant saying no companies would offer me a quote due to my spina bifida. "I told them you were back at work and in full recovery, but they still decided to decline." I could hear the sympathy in this sweet woman's voice, and with a giant lump in my throat I thanked her "for fighting for me."

Even though this isn't the end of the world, I'm feeling discouraged and disappointed. I wanted to try to prepare for the future and make a sacrifice that could help me take care of myself so I wouldn't be a burden on anyone else (or have to feel like one). So I could be confident in the knowledge that if even if I grow old without a family of my own, I'd be taken care of by younger past self who wanted old Maryann to spend her retirement savings on a tour of Venice or a bright purple couch instead of an oxygen tank or memory care.

If nothing else happens first, dying of old age is inevitable, and I just wanted to do something to make it even a little less scary to face, especially alone. How fitting, I suppose, that a birth defect (and the depression worsened by it) would be the thing to keep me from trying to prepare  for my death.

I've been soaking up a lot of Ellen Bass poetry lately, and this poem is one I'll be sitting with this weekend.

If You Knew

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say Thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

- Ellen Bass, from The Human Line

#180: Natty Dread by Bob Marley & the Wailers


Natty Dread by Bob Marley & the Wailers (1974)

Favorite Tracks: "Lively Up Yourself" and "No Woman, No Cry" and "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" and "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)" and "So Jah Seh" and "Natty Dread" and "Bend Down Low" and "Talkin' Blues" and "Revolution"

Thoughts: Bob Marley and the Wailers! Huzzah! We saw The Wailers back at #315, but this is our first with Bob as headliner. Since the majority of my Marley exposure has been through greatest hits compilations, I'm glad I'm taking the time to listen to the individual albums.

This album was perfect for a hot sunny day like today, bringing the warmth into my air-conditioned workplace. I was really only familiar with the first two tracks, "Lively Up Yourself" and "No Woman, No Cry" though I have the more popular live version of the latter. The studio version was very sweet and pleasant, but lacks the power of the live performance.  Ok, confession time: I thought the sentiment of the title lyrics was if you have no woman, then you won't cry. Like, no woman, no worries! Which is ridiculous because all the other lyrics are about comforting a crying woman. So I'm not only hearing new music, I'm realizing obvious things too!

The rest of the album did not disappoint, as you can see from my favorite tracks. I know reggae isn't for everyone, but I feel like it creates a relaxing, peaceful, summer-y mood, and I love it. I think Bob writes the most groove-worthy protest songs, too. From "Revolution":

Never make a politician grant you a favour;
they will always want to control you forever, eh!

Is This Better Than Fleetwood Mac?: Just as good: super excellent. I would say that Fleetwood Mac had less songs I like, but the ones I do like I LOVE, whereas I only really love 2 songs off Natty Dread, but I like the whole album. Does that make sense? Bottom line: totally worthy of its ranking.

Goodbye Esther


Since I've been enjoying my evening swims so much I decided to buy a book I'd wanted for a while called Swim: Why We Love the Water by Lynn Sherr, published last year. It arrived today at work, and I took it over to my coworker Johanna to show it to her (and deliver a package she'd received). "It's even recommended by Esther Williams on the back--I can't believe she's still alive!"

"No, she died. Today, I think," Johanna informed me. I didn't believe her until she pulled up the news page. I JINXED ESTHER WILLIAMS. But since she was 91, I bet she was pretty to ready to go anyway. It's so depressing when golden era movie/musical stars die. It makes me feel old, which is ridiculous since I was born in the 80s. But most of the stars from the 50s were still kicking when I was kid and watched them in That's Entertainment (along with all their movies). I started her autobiography back in 2008, and still need to finish it, but my favorite sum up of her career will always be this one by Donald O'Connor:

RIP, lovely Esther.

Against Cinderella


I can't believe it.
Whoever made it up is pulling my foot
so it'll fit that shoe.
I'll go along with martyrdom:
she swept and wept; she mended, stoked the fire,
slaved while her three stepsisters,
who just happened to oblige their meanness
by being ugly, dressed themselves.
I'll swallow that there was a Singer godmother,
who magically could sew a pattern up
and hem it in an hour,
that Cinderella got to be a debutante
and lost her head and later lost her shoe.
But there I stop.
I can't believe
that no one but one woman in that town
had that size foot, could fit into that shoe.
I've felt enough of lost and found
to know that if you lose your heart
to anyone you've crowned into a prince,
you might not get it back;
that the old kerchief trick,
whether you drop a shoe, your clothes, your life,
doesn't do much but litter up the world.
That when the knock at last comes to your door,
you might not be home or willing.
That some of us have learned to go barefoot
knowing the mate to one foot is the other.

- Julia Alvarez (buy her books!)