When I was in high school, I became aware that there were people walking among me known as “Deadheads.” These devoted fans of the Grateful Dead, easy to spot (when they weren’t wandering off to get high) with their tie-dyed shirts and long hair, included some friends of mine, but I tried not to hold that against them. To me they represented a kind of sheep mentality, since they followed music that clearly had to suck because so many people liked it (I thought this self-righteously as my radical self played Beatles and Led Zeppelin albums over and over again). I would occasionally hear Deadheads talk about “Jerry” and “bootlegs” and I would wonder why this band had such a hold on anyone. I had never even heard the Dead, but I was certain that I couldn’t possibly like their music.
Then one day I was going through my mother’s record collection and I found the album “American Beauty.” Whoa, who knew we were harboring Dead albums right there in our very own living room! Curious, I decided to put the album on, having absolutely no idea what they might sound like. Let me be clear: they could have sounded like Johnny Cash or A Flock of Seagulls. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.
Yet the minute I heard the first guitar strums of the first song a feeling of shock washed over me. This was a song I had been hearing since I was a little girl. It was a record my mother used to play all the time. Not only did I know the Grateful Dead but I liked them. I had liked them for years and years. I stood there and let the knowledge of this sink in. Everything I thought I knew I was totally, utterly wrong. My young mind was completely blown. Since that moment I have tried to avoid mistakes of this kind, but I can’t say that I’ve been successful.
Here are some things about me that may or may not be relevant to this blog:
1. I was born and raised in New York City and lived there until I was 30 years old, at which point I suddenly and unexpectedly could not live there for another second. And so, 14 years ago, I moved up to Columbia County (note: with a calculator you could at this point figure out my age) and have lived there ever since. I have not really looked back, though I do wish that when I ask for “a plain slice” local pizza counter people did not smirk and say, “You mean a cheese slice?” People, come on.
2. I have a literary crush on J.D. Salinger, which is almost entirely due to his brilliant use of italics.
3. I am a freelance writer (SEE THE LINKS??) and I also work in an actual office part-time as a copy editor, essentially adding or deleting commas as necessary. This is important work.
4. When I was a kid, I once rode on the shoulders of a clown while he was riding a unicycle.
6. I have two daughters, ages 11 and 14, and my secret selfish goal is to have one or both of them grow up to be graphic novelists.
I love and appreciate all comments, even snarky ones. Maybe those the most.
Go easy, step lightly, stay free.