Sunday, January 04, 2009

good fortune

while i might post a reflective post about the last year sometime soon, i think that it's more important now that i tell a few tales, stories that can be read as stories of luck, of the holiday spirit, of minnesota nice, of holy presence, or of karma. choose your favorite narrative framework.

story #1. this took place last night, with the main characters being myself, my brother mark, and our friend adam. it's really a simple story. we had just finished eating at himalaya, a nepalese restaurant in my neighborhood that serves excellent food (i highly recommend it), and we were on our way to the nba basketball game between the golden state warriors and the timberwolves. the game was unspectacular, but fun--the highlight was the fact that starbury was in attendance watching his cousin, and therefore the highest paid basketball player in the building was not a member of either team, likely did not check the score of his team's game, but still managed to have an effect on the game by giving stephen jackson an energy drink at half-time.

the cool part of the game was that we were able to attend without paying for a single ticket--a friend gave us two tickets, so we figured we'd have to buy one ticket. i went up to the ticket booth, and when i said that i wanted one ticket, the cashier asked me whether i was going by myself, and i said yes, and then that my friends already had tickets. she then convinced me not to buy a ticket and instead take one that had just been left at the counter, worth $35 plus a free wristband good for all you can eat concessions. while we never ended up using the free concessions (being full from excellent nepalese food), it was nice that the kindness of friends and strangers gave us a cheap night of entertainment for my brother's last night in town.

story #2. on new year's eve (just a couple days ago), my brother, our friend hanna, and i were driving from our hometown in south dakota to the twin cities (where i live, from where my brother was flying back to canada, and where hanna was going to visit friends and family). the drive was especially anxious for me because the previous trip--from the twin cities to our hometown--was quite easily the worst drive of my life--mark and i drove home through white out conditions with drifts across the two-lane highway, making it on luck, awareness, resolve, and a healthy dose of stupidity or stubbornness, not to mention a semi/truck that we followed much of the way, using its tracks for the broken drifts. to put it mildly, the trip was awful, and while the new year's eve trip back was rather tame weather-wise, i was still a little paranoid because my front left tire had been losing air even though i had taken it into the shop at thanksgiving to get the tire repaired.

though i pumped up the tire just before getting on the road, the tire wasn't done deflating yet. after about eighty miles on the road, the steering wheel started feeling a little bit wobbly, and though i thought it could be snow/slush disrupting the wheel balance (which had been a factor on the previous trip), i got out and checked as we were pulling through the small town of vesta (population 300-350), pulling over on the side of the road.

the tire was done. i could have probably driven on it a little longer, but it was dead or dying quickly. the temperature was in the single digits with a wind chill below zero. and i had forgotten my winter gloves back in south dakota, so i pulled on a pair of thin gloves from trunk. i knew i'd have to put the spare on, so we unloaded a very packed trunk on the side of the road when a voice called from a building just off the road: "hey, why don't you bring the car over here, put it in the garage to change the tire?" i looked over and saw a guy waving at me, so i got in the car, drove it--flat tire and all--into the garage, a warm shop with a nice jack, an impact wrench, and three friendly guys, each helpful and nice. the guy in charge gave mark and hanna a beer each and joked enough to keep my stress levels low, and when i had the tire changed, they let us out and told us to stop by again.

we drove away feeling like the experience was angelic, that we'd drive by vesta again in a few weeks, and there would be no friendly guys, no shop, no building. one of the other two said that between the three of us, we must have saved up a large dose of luck over the last year to use it up on the last day.

i still haven't gotten the tire fixed--i will sometime this coming week once i'm safely in northfield (where i'll spend the next month), but if i had a wish for the new year, it would be that everyone who traveled highway 19 through minnesota would stop in vesta at the r.r.s. building and give the guys who work there cookies or pies or any other kind of karma-return, or just as importantly, do something like that for someone else, wherever it is you are, and do that sort of thing often. it doesn't have to be cliche like the silly commercials on tv, but i'd love to live in a world where it was normal for people to be as good and kind as those guys in the shop in vesta.

though i have a couple things to say about radiohead below, and though i think you should listen to in rainbows if you haven't yet, i'd actually prefer that you took a few minutes and listened to a few songs on my friend david's page. i really like his music, and if you think about your relative impact, it's certainly much more meaningful to listen to his music than to thom yorke's--just by the numbers. but more importantly, for any of the people who read this who know me, know about my life in college and after, or are from minneapolis, you'll have close connections to the artist--he's a friend and mentor, and he's also an excellent musician.

i'm mentioning this song because unlike most people like me who will probably consider radiohead the best band of their generation, i waited a year before really listening to the new album a bunch and really only got into it during the last week (and yes, i was one of the people who pre-ordered the most expensive box set even though i could have downloaded the music for free--and unlike with the radiohead bears that i still consider one of the best iconic symbols of the last twenty years, i didn't really get much out of the art work this time). yet for some unknown reason, i waited until now to really listen and really like in rainbows. it will probably take me another 20+ listens to start listening to the words, but i like the music. on this song for instance, i know the music almost perfectly, but had to try quite hard for a while to figure out the words, which don't really speak to me at all, but tracks three thru five have great sounds.

nude by radiohead

don't get any big ideas
they're not gonna happen

you paint yourself white
and fill up with noise
but there'll be something missing

now that you've found it, it's gone
now that you feel it, you don't
you've gone off the rails

so don't get any big ideas
they're not gonna happen

you'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking


Blogger Nesson! said...

Not sure why the song speaks to me, but I'm the same with never actually hearing the words. When I had a lonely semester in Germany (lonely with a capital L), I wrote out all the words to The Bends in a notebook. First time I actually tried to figure out what they all were.

And the next time I actually learned all the words to a Radiohead song was this song exactly. The leader of my jug band wanted me to sing it. So there I am in a little beer bar in Queens, singing a slight degree of hopelessness like Thom Yorke. With my buddy Emily somehow managing to lay in a calm accordion back.

Now this song means quite a lot to me.

And I've grown accepting of the idea that I don't know most of the time the particular words my favorite band is saying. They're still my favorite band.

3:49 PM  

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