Early morning thoughts

Mason & Anna

Here is a picture of a very happy day a few weeks ago. My grandson, Mason, and his delightful bride, Anna. Despite the small number of socially distanced people, it made me feel like we may be moving beyond the worst of the pandemic.

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What do you do when you wake up at 2:30 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep? Well, this morning I started thinking about another mixtape I might do for Anju’s blog, This Labyrinth I Roam, and title the mixtape Songs of ’65. After I mentally jotted down a few songs that I could use and what I would say about them, I started thinking about the ones that I’ve already done. It isn’t surprising that in many cases those songs have brought back memories, some of which I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Also not surprising is the fact that often those memories involved women I dated long before I met Cindy. Hey! I was past 40 when we got married. I had plenty of time to date. There were, in fact, some women who were quite memorable. Without naming names, and in no particular order, I thought of the woman who almost broke my heart, the judge’s daughter, the woman with great legs, the college student, the other college student, the married woman (no, I’m not proud), the older woman, and the woman who did break my heart. Oh, and there was my landlady, though we never dated.

I was thinking of those women and trying to tag them with a particular song so that I could do a mixtape about them. I could only pin a song on three of them. They must not have been as memorable as I thought. But I could think of a story or two for each of them. And those are memorable stories. Cindy has heard most of the stories, so I might write about them one day. Now that I think of it, I did write about one of them a few years ago. That was the woman who almost broke my heart. I wrote about her the first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. As I told a friend, the one who read it, that story was about 85% true. I should probably go back and do some heavy editing. I might be able to turn it into a short story.

Another thing that the mixtapes I’ve done for Anju did for me was bring back some emotions. One emotion in particular that swept over me was elation. My mind conjured up the feeling of elation I felt walking hand-in-hand with a girl with whom I was infatuated. I can think of nothing like that feeling. It is not the same as love, and certainly not the same as lust. It is more a feeling of happiness mixed with personal connection and even a bit of pride. I think it is a feeling felt only by the lucky young. And then I remembered the nervousness that comes with trying to decide if a first kiss is appropriate on a first date. It is different with each first date, just as every first kiss is different with every woman.

Back to sleeplessness: When 4:30 rolled around and I was sill awake, I got out of bed and started writing this post. It is about 9:45 now, I am finishing this post, and I still haven’t been able to get back to sleep. Maybe this afternoon.

Norm Houseman: Bargain Bin Bonanza

Here we go again…

This Labyrinth I Roam

Some of my happiest times were spent in record stores going through the bargain bins that were filled with records that were on sale. Some were by artists that most people had never heard of like Geoff Muldaur, and also The Tailgators. Some were by famous artists like The Serendipity Singers, who were no longer making hits. And a few were on sale because the store was going out of business; it’s where I found my first Ahmad Jamal and Dr. John albums. All were worth a look if not a listen. Oh, and I should mention that not all of my purchases were vinyl; some were on cd.

My first Geoff Muldaur album was found in a bargain bin. It was a wonderful find. I picked up the album because I knew Muldaur from Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band. Reading the back of the album cover I found out that…

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Norm Houseman: Post-Army, Pre-Auburn Music

Once more I dip into my barrel of nostalgia and share some musical memories. Thanks again, my friend.

This Labyrinth I Roam

As I mentioned in the write up for a previous mixtape I was Released from Active Duty (REFRAD) from the army in August of 1971. From the time I returned home from Germany until the time I moved to Auburn for my first job with the State of Indiana, I listened to the radio, watched television variety shows, and listened to what my friends were following. I was especially intrigued with the music I heard coming out of Chicago. There was Steve Goodman, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, and others who are hard to find on Spotify. Top Forty radio was also a source for good pop and rock music. And, of course there was a great variety of FM stations and formats to listen to. Did I mention searching bins in record stores? I should probably do a mixtape made up of songs that I found flipping…

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Reflections on Books

I haven’t written a post about a 2021 Reading Challenge or a non-Challenge yet this year. The reason is that I haven’t been reading much this year. I have yet to finish ten books and it is already May. This doesn’t bode well. It isn’t that I don’t want to read, it is just because I can’t seem to focus my attention, there are too many distractions. I have actually been worrying about this. And then this morning I saw this cartoon on Instagram.

I follow Harry Bliss on Instagram because his sense of humor matches mine. I forwarded the cartoon to a few people whom I knew would appreciate it. My friend, Anju, sent a response asking me which twenty-five I would choose. That’s a tough question. How could anyone limit themselves that way? I suppose it is an exercise in focusing your mind and deciding on what is truly important.

Of course, my first thought was to list the books I had already decided to read, or finish reading this year. But if I could only choose twenty-five, would those be on my list? I might keep Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, William Styron’s My Generation: Collected Nonfiction, and perhaps Lawrence Durrell’s Clea because I want to complete rereading his Alexandrian quartet. That would leave only twenty-two books to read. Should I fill those slots with feel good fiction, some of the “Great Books,” political polemics, or spiritual writings? It is a quandary.

I’ll tell you right now that I shan’t be reading anything spiritual if it has been written by any of today’s mega-church pastor’s or television preachers. They seem so shallow to me. And, I doubt if they have anything new to say.

The chances are that I wouldn’t add any graphic novels to my list even if I like reading them. There are too many longer forms that I would hate to miss out on. I have a copy of John Updike’s first three Rabbit Angstrom novels collected in one volume; would that count as one book or three? If I reread that book I would feel compelled to read the fourth novel. I have to think about that.

I’m going to put together a list of 25 books to read before I die, but since I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, I’ll go ahead and read other things as well. After all, I have a bookcase full of books that I plan to read. Some of the books I mentioned might end up on my list of twenty-five.

I only know for sure one book that will be on my list of twenty-five, so here goes: 1. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. I shall post more titles in the future as I add them to my list.

Do you have a list of books that you feel you should read before you die? If so, I would love to see it. You might give me ideas for my list. Send me comment, or if you’re shy, send me an email. I can be reached at houseman@comcast.net.

Thanks for reading. Please stay safe.