Elton John--Revisited

I'm actually still listening to "Tiny Dancer." And, as lyrics from the song dances through my ears, the memory of the concert I attended with my brother is revisited.

Two years ago, in October, my brother took the liberty to purchase two tickets to an Elton John concert. As Elton is one of the musical idols worshiped in our family, Keith and I were thrilled to learn that he would be performing in Omaha. The tickets, bought from an acquaintance in our small town, placed us in floor seating, about mid-way back.

During the actual concert--which was, simply put, fantastic--the person from whom Keith purchased the tickets came back to our seats and grabbed our hands, dragging us up to her seat. Six rows back the front of the stage, Keith and I stood agape in the aisle, snapping photos of Elton John as he crooned to the audience. I remember glancing at my brother's face, seeing his mouth agape in sheer joy of being in such close proximity to his piano idol.
Oh. My. God. "That's Elton!" I remember squeaking to him, my voice inaudible above the acoustics.

I can remember "Crocodile Rock," as well, and how the entire stadium screamed, "LAaaaaa, LA LA LA LA LAaaaaa, la la la la laaaaa, la la la la laaaaa!" in place of Elton John's own voice. Despite how obnoxious he or she originally thought the song was, everyone was up; dancing, singing, screaming, sloshing his or her cup of beer onto my feet...it was one of the happiest times of my life, and I am eternally grateful that I was able to share that experience with my brother.

One of the most vivid memories I have from that night
is when "Tiny Dancer" was performed. When it came time for the song's climax, I looked up at Keith's face, watched him lean back and belt out the chorus with his eyes closed. "HOLD ME CLOSER TINY DANCER! COUNT THE HEADLIGHTS ON THE HIGHWAY......"

I, of course, joined in. "LAY ME DOWN IN SHEETS OF LINEN," I sang-screamed with sixty-thousand other concert goers.

Weeks later, I was filling out an intense scholarship application that required me to supply a personal essay, personal statement, and three descriptive paragraphs. One such question required me to describe how an artistic element plays to my senses. I, of course, turned immediately to Elton, using the concert experience as material.

The hard-drive on my computer slowly whirs to life as it reads the thin black disc. I bring my eyes back to the monitor and see that Windows Media Player has popped up and asked if I want to play the CD. “Yes,” I say aloud to myself, turning the volume up on my speakers. My computer stops whirring, I minimize the window, and I let out a deep breath, listening closely for the music. There is a moment of silence, and then, slowly, quietly, I hear the piano. It is soft, peaceful, a slow duple meter. After a few bars, an acoustic guitar plays a simple chord, and the music hangs, if only for a second…“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside…” I am immediately transported back to a memory that is still so fresh that I can taste the excitement that my brother and I felt as we settled into our seats. “I can’t believe that in five minutes, we’re going to see Elton John!” I would squeak out. This elation of seeing such a piano god in person continued through the night, through his two-song encore, and even the next week. I still smile when I hear his melodic voice sing the chorus of “Your Song,” and am constantly swept up into his superb piano playing. When I visualize the sheet music, I can see notes and chords and rests and breaths and bar after bar of swimming, twirling, colorful music; something so beautiful that I absolutely, positively, have to close my eyes and sing along; drowning myself in what I believe is every girl’s wish: this song was written for me.

Growing Up Sober

I'm not the hugest fan of school newspapers; not in the least. Though I do enjoy reading newspapers in general, I tire of skimming through articles that complain about tuition spikes and local instances of violence. Furthermore, guest columns typically annoy me as well; one featured in today's issue of The Daily Iowan talks about the necessity to rename a professional football team. Others that have written in have addressed the "Pick One" program at the University of Iowa, the drawn-out debate over "fan cans," and city parking (which, yes, is a problem; however, it is common knowledge that need not be discussed in ten paragraphs).

When at Purdue, I looked forward to (if that is what you want to call it) grabbing a newspaper in the morning. I could shove it into my backpack and flip through it later, filling out the crossword puzzle inattentively in class. Over the course of the day, I typically read every article (with the exception of sports-related items), finally throwing it in the recycling bin once I had defeated A. in a sudoku race. (Granted, he did beat me the first time; I'll give him that. He's also better at the cryptograms, which is a skill I will have to rebuild next semester, as The Daily Iowan lacks these.)

However, the lack of critically puzzling entertainment isn't the only thing that The Daily Iowan promotes. In fact, whether or not it is done intentionally...the paper really tends to send off a particular vibe...

...towards underage drinking.

Out of all the papers I have read during my four weeks here, I have seen, only twice, the phrase "I/We do not encourage underage drinking." One was in a guest column that addressed the themed "fan cans." The other was included in Andrew Juhl's column "The Ledge," which is typically bawdy, rude, and distasteful anyway. (That day's article--the theme being "Drinking"--was printed the first week of school, in a series called "Freshman Advice Week.") One piece of advice in said column stated that "Four Excedrin Migraine caplets will end every hangover. But 40 will end every hangover."

I suppose you could consider that valuable advice, considering it's contained within a fragment.

In today's Daily Iowan, however, Juhl's article concerns itself with "Twenty movies [he] might have thought were porno flicks, based solely on their titles." (In case you're curious, some of the names included are The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Elephant Man, Holes, and The Nun's Story, which happens to be a film that earned Audrey Hepburn--an icon of mine--her third Academy Award nomination.)

However, it wasn't Juhl's "humor" that aggravated me the most. Rather, it was the first page. The front page story--"Tailgating lucrative." Seriously? They couldn't find any better story to write about? They went for the "the roommates [who] stood in the back of the house, sipping on black-and-gold Budweiser "fan cans" and red plastic cups?"

Oh, wait...I forgot. This is Iowa City. Of course that is what The Daily Iowan is going to report. Heck, on the bottom of the second page are a lovely little chart and a clearly explained bar graph that illustrates the arrests, citations, OWIs, PAULAs, and other offenses that have occurred in Iowa City during the two home football games. (And that's including about only half of the fifty-two entries in today's "Police Blotter.")

My favorite piece included in today's issue, however, has to be on the opinions page...yes, that dreaded one-page spread of rampant thoughts. Titled "Quintessential Iowa tradition," the author, Michael Dale-Stein, begins his article by reliving the hangover he experienced on Sunday. Backtracking to his morning, he states that "from the first sip of tapped Keystone to the hazy, chant-infused walk to the stadium, nothing's better." He goes on to say that "Iowa tailgating is...a lifestyle which we can all attest to being a defining part of college life."


My further aggravations with this article include:
  • "There's something comforting about parents joining their children in bouts of binge drinking."
  • His play-by-play account of two girls from the "shame train" making out...twice.
  • His play-by-play account of early-morning, public-urination. (He also writes of "the neighbor girl" who is notorious for photographing the pee-ers, and subsequently sending the images to the authorities.)
  • He mentions a fight that has with a man tattooed with the Star of David...twice.
  • The article is concluded with this: "...I realize what tailgating is all about: Quite simply, it's an anarchy-laden weekend when we can...enjoy the fall weather while sharing the commonality of our love for this great school."

My response? *Sigh* Binge drinkers are always trying to find an excuse, even if it is as lame as "common love for school." Right; most people here do not LOVE the school, they love the downtown atmosphere, and the amount of drinking that goes along with it. (Even as I write this, the boys who live below me are tossing empty cans of Keystone out of their window and onto the cars below.) *Sigh* I do not love the University of Iowa, nor have I ever. I knew in March, when I came to visit, that I did not want to come here. To me, this place is just a mediocre state-university that hosts more drinking than I can handle. Why I didn't really concentrate on the fact that it is one of the country's biggest drinking schools, I don't know. *Sigh* The Daily Iowan upsets me because hardly ever are the words "I/We do NOT encourage underage drinking" are included. Two times have I seen that phrase--twice, out of the near-month of printed papers I have read.

Then again, why would anyone (besides me, it seems), in this city go against drinking? I guess because no one wants to be accused by Juhl, who wrote that "not supporting our downtown businesses is reprehensibly un-American."

In Iowa City, then--a place that doesn't bother to discourage binge drinking, that seems to find humor in the amount of PAULAs issued, and results in a few dozen alcohol related rapes per year--I guess I'm not American.

Spelunking at Maquoketa

Yes, yes, I'm late in putting this up; I know. Yes, I am fully aware that I am three days late, and I feel terrible about it. However, given that my entire weekend was devoted to the company of A., I knew that I wasn't going to get around it. Furthermore, with the amount of homework I have been doing, it just wasn't possible. As such, I am currently sitting in the second-floor conference room in the Main Library, hurriedly posting pictures of our adventures as Maquoketa Caves State Park on Saturday. (Which was amazing, by the way.)

However, my pictures are not so amazing. I literally would whip my camera out of my pocket and snap a picture as I was walking (not my usual style, but that's okay). As a result, I have a lot of seemingly-random shots of trees and rocks and a stream named Raccoon Creek. (I live in Iowa; don't judge.) Furthermore, my pictures do not and
cannot capture the beauty of the caves. Neither could A.'s camera, and neither could anybody else's. The cave system, creek valleys, and limestone cliffs are just something you have to see in person.

Raccoon Creek


Some giant crack in the limestone next to Dug Out Cave.


Just as we (meaning A. and I) have a habit of violating statues and fountains, we also made a point--along with the rest of our group--to violate this fallen tree.

Don't worry, though--we left everything just the way we found it...


These are a few of the rocks that I climbed. They were a few feet away from the NO ROCK CLIMBING sign.

It was worth it.


This may or may not be the Natural Bridge. I cannot remember. Either way, it was a cool rock formation. On the backside of it, there is an alcove in the rock. Our friends decided to crawl over and into the crevice, resulting in a scolding from the Park Staff and several tense moments of "I can't get back!"


Just a staircase; there are many around the park. This happened to lead up and over the hill next to the formations in the above picture.


I believe this was the entrance to the Dancehall Cave (the one that is around 1000 feet long). I think this was the Upper Entrance, but don't quote me on that. All the entrances were magnificent; pictures cannot capture the shrouded stones, sunlight beams, and greenness of the moss. They couldn't capture the squelch of mud underneath my shoes, nor record the gentle drip drip of the water from the cave walls.


Balanced Rock


This was taken from the platform where Balanced Rock was.


....I had to include this awkwardly amusing photo. It just looks semi-wrong, and implies the ambigious meaning of "spelunking." Kudos to A. for taking it and "allowing" me to use it.
*wink wink*

It's Been Seven Months

So I didn't hug/tackle him. A., that is. Rather, I just (casually) walked up to him and threw my arms around his neck.

Once arriving in Iowa City, he had planned to surprise me at my dorm. Of course, I managed to ruin his surprise by not being where I was supposed to be...

Eager to see him, I had gone downstairs about half an hour before A. actually arrived, hoping to see him drive in. Though I had brought some homework down with me, I was distracted by the consistent traffic that passed the dorm. What seemed like an hour later, I thought I spotted A.'s car. I looked closer. Yes, that had to be it...
It is! I cried to myself. It had Indiana plates!

Somehow, however, A. managed to sneak through the lobby, up the elevator, and down the hallway to the room...without me noticing. It took a text saying "You aren't in your room" and a phone call asking "Where are you?" for me to realize that A. was, in fact, waiting right outside my door.

Embarrassed by the fact that I had, once again, spoiled A.'s plan, I hurriedly took the stairs up to the fourth floor. Rounding the corner, I saw his figure standing at the opposite end of the hall in a yellow shirt and the shorts I bought him for his birthday.

"I'm behind you," I said into the phone.

I could have ran the entire length of the hallway despite the fact that I was in flip-flops and others had spilled out of their dorms and held conversations in the narrow path. I could have; I could have sprinted (to the best of my ability) through obnoxious freshman and sprung up into the arms of A., hug/tackling him.

Once inside, we stood in the middle of my room and held each other, speechless. What was there to say? We were with each other again; that was all that mattered. My face was nestled on his shoulder, my lips against his neck. I didn't say a thing; I didn't try to kiss him. I just stood there, buried in A., feeling his arms around me and listening to him breathe. When we finally shared our first kiss, it was gentle; comparable to the soft caresses we lavished upon each other's faces.

I was so elated at that moment; had I completely given myself over to my emotions, I probably could have shed a few "happy tears."

That exhilaration lasted the entire weekend: through dinner at the dining court, spelunking in Maquoketa, church with friends, Indian food, testing out my "new" bike, and even spending time in my dorm cooking, sleeping, or Googling the world's oldest mother. (She's seventy, by the way.)

I was with him, and that was all I could think about.

That and the butterflies.

It's been several months since I have met A., a few since we've been dating (in fact, Friday was our four month-versary). Granted, in the overall scheme of things, these past months aren't a long time; not even compared to our last relationships. However, what my last relationship was missing was the euphoria; the jitters in my stomach, the quickening palpitations of my heart. These feelings--simple but genuine--are easily generated with a kiss on my neck, a whisper in my ear, the brushing of my hair from my face. Even a look from A. can make me smile and sheepiishly turn from him, unable to explain my elation for the compliments or small tokens of affection he bestows upon me.

I'm lucky, I tell myself every day, and there's only one "person" to thank for that...



I just took a deep breath; sighed an enormous sigh. I hate saying goodbye.

Just a few hours ago, A. left me, a purple bike he bought and fixed for my use, and Iowa City behind. In fact, I'm awaiting him again; this time for a phone call to let me know that he made it back okay. (
I would like YOU to know, dear, that I'm just as worried about you driving as you are about me going anywhere--whether it be via bus, bike, or personal watercraft.)

Overall, this weekend was amazing; I could not have asked for more. We have many more jokes, secrets, and memories to reminisce about. We shared our thoughts, a toothbrush holder, and burnt tortillas.

I know that the time before I see you again will be hard, but I know that I will--most likely--dream of you tonight. I also want you to know that I relish the last image I have of you here: you, in your car, yelling "I love you!" across half an acre of the park, not caring if anyone else hears your proclamation. I didn't shy away this time; I shouted it back, fully aware of those little "flutterbies" you once again gave me...

A.A.A.



As my Facebook status declares: "[I] am dripping with eager anticipation. That's right; [I'm] down-right giddy."

Why, do you ask?

Because I'm Awaiting the Arrival of A. I'm joyful that my lovely he will soon be here, after a five-hour drive to the University of Iowa (hopefully without a blow-out this time).

In fact, I am so happy that I cannot find much else to say; I thought I would just share my exhilaration with all of you (since many of you--especially the readers that are new--have only seen *part* of my critical dark side).

And, to answer another question you might have: Yes, I do intend plan to hug-tackle A. when I first see him, as somewhat depicted in the picture above. (I don't think I'll immediately plaster myself to him, but I guess we'll see. I'm sure he'll be happy either way--
Right honey?)

So, if you don't mind, I must get back on track: cleaning, grocery shopping, and homework. I want to enjoy every second that I have with A. this weekend, starting with the initial "squeeze you hard-bury my face into your shoulder-resent letting go" hug.

Sporadics

I am distracted.

Utterly and irrevocably distracted.

I can't do homework. I can't focus on any one thing. I keep reverting to the Internet: to recipes, to blog entries. I turn my eyes to the Red Sox game on TV. I text A. I dance to MGMT's "Kids"; mind you, the music is only playing in my head.

Earlier, I had an entire blog entry about today written out in my head; a beautifully eloquent recollection of all the day's occurrences. A cornucopia, have you. Now, however, I barely remember any of the details I so thoroughly recognized today, such as my apple.

I don't know what type of apple I had; it wasn't Red Delicious, and it certainly wasn't Granny Smith. Rather, it was one of those yellow and red ones; the sweeter ones that leave "apple froth" on your lips.

Early this morning, I pranced down the front steps of my dorm, my velvet flats hitting the ground hard. My backpack was slung over my shoulder, and I repeatedly tossed the apple into the air as I boarded the bus. As I sat down, I noticed young man across from me. He watched my engagement with the apple intently; apparently my admiration of the apple's shininess was more entertaining than the drowsy Japanese men that flanked me.

After all had boarded, we departed the dorm and headed into the traffic that creeps ever so slowly downriver and into campus. Growing bored of playing with my apple, I peered over my shoulder and out the window.
Hmm. Ducks. I watched them strenuously try to swim upriver, occasionally diving into the water. QUACK, I wanted to say.

It wasn't a bad morning; it was peaceful. In fact, to be exacter, I find most all mornings beautiful. The sun is just rising; the reds and yellows of the eastern sky were as blended as the skin on the apple, shiny and deliciously appealing, that I still held in my left hand. Ah, anticipation.
That apple is going to be damn good.

I got off the bus a few stops early in order to enjoy walking the rest of the way to class. I reverted back to tossing my apple back and forth. Finally, as I walked past Calvin Hall, I bit into it; my teeth broke the skin, and juice dribbled down my chin.

It tasted okay.

Other random things from today that I remember:

The desks in the room where my British Literature and Culture class meets; they were graffiti-coated. The girl who sat next to me spent part of class drawing a lovely pattern of ivy on her desk. I satisfied myself by reading all of the 'posts' on mine. First, it was dotted with initials: "DNH + AEK," "AEM + JRL," and even just a simple "MPD." Personally, it kind of makes me want to know what these people's names are. For instance, does Desdemona Nellie Humphrey want to add herself to Aaronius Ethan Keymaster? Does Ace Elmor Millard love Jemima Rolena Luster? Who knows. Maybe even the last acronym stands for "Major Po-Dunk." However, the initials weren't the only fascinating things: there were snakes, snails (no puppy dog tails), advice about life and love, a drawing of a band-aid, one depiction of the male genitalia, and the sentences "Turn off your brain," and--my favorite--"I'm very aroused." (Though it did make me feel a bit dirty to sit in that chair after reading that...)

After class, I headed to the library, where computers are placed in clusters throughout the gigantic room. While searching for scholarly analysis concerning Toni Cade Bambara's "The Lesson," I took notice of the person across from me. They resembled this:

I'm mean; I know this. But when I looked at the person's face; I nearly bust out laughing. Eyes nearly closed, they leaned in towards the computer screen with their teeth barred.

Lunch, surprisingly, was acceptable. I had the pleasure of feasting on spinach salad, some semi-spicy Empress chicken, fruit cocktail, cottage cheese, and even a fortune cookie. (One that so boringly declared that I "will always have good luck in [my] person affairs."

Another simple beauty of the day: as I walking towards the north bridge on my way to the Theatre Building, a butterfly landed on my shoulder. Smiling, I stared at it for a few seconds before shrugging it off. It flew away for a moment, returning to land on my face.

I took pictures of ducks while I was crossing the bridge. They were still attempting to swim upstream, five hours later.

When class was over and I was making my way back to the bus stop, I joined in on a spontaneous game of Frisbee, grabbing my first catch with keys and camera in hand.

"Sweet!" the guys yelled in response. "That even involved some jumping!"

"What can I say?" I shouted back. "I'm skilled."

Yes, I'm skilled; but perhaps at only spontaneous plastic-disc catching, because I certainly am not talented in other areas, such as time-management, stress governance, and emotional breakdown.

So, to end abruptly and informally (and to avoid further contemplation as to how I can make this blog conclude to what I think is "proper") I will leave you with pictures of desks and ducks.



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