British Invasion

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I was looking for Jack White’s CD Blunderbuss at Wal-Mart the other day. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it — but I had already made up my mind to buy some new music. I can only fit a limited number of CDs inside the armrest console in my car and I’m tired of listening to most of them. And good radio stations are becoming more and more scarce.

After pacing back and forth in front of the shelf, digging through all the CDs that weren’t in alphabetical order, I discovered Mod Hits: 60s British Invasion.

I grew up listening to “oldies” music (mostly British Invasion and Motown, I recall) on a station called Q 102 in Rome, Georgia. The station still exists, but it specializes in Top 40 songs now. It recently occurred to me that there are no oldies stations anymore. (Not in the area where I live, anyway.) Somewhere along the way, the “oldies” stations evolved into “classic rock” stations, playing a lot of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, along with 80s hair bands and a light sprinkling of 90s grunge. I love and respect all of that music. Please don’t think I’m trashing any of it. But I’ve found myself missing the “older oldies” lately, if I can coin such a silly phrase. There’s something more innocent about that music.

When I popped the Mod Hits CD into my dashboard in the Wal-Mart parking lot, it was like sitting down and chatting with an old friend. A warm feeling came over me. My heart fluttered. My eyes twinkled. I nearly crashed into a stray buggy.

There’s a version of Always Something There to Remind Me on the CD, recorded by Sandie Shaw. That one surprised me. All my life, I’ve heard the version Naked Eyes recorded in the early 80s. I had no idea it was a cover. I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that Sandie Shaw’s version isn’t even the first one — but it’s my favorite.

You can click here to order my novels, Citizens of Purgatory and Under the Electric Sun, from Amazon.

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So long, Granny

February 27, 2013

This afternoon, I went to my grandmother’s funeral. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around the fact that she’s gone. The past few days have felt like a dream. Sometimes events don’t seem real while they’re actually happening — but after time goes by, and those events sink into the past, they DO seem real.

Granny was 80 years old. She suffered a series of strokes a few months ago and she wasn’t quite the same afterward. One of the last times I saw her, she was at my parents’ house. It was a sunny, pleasant day in early November. My mother was at work. My German friend, Jochen, had been staying with my parents that week. He was on his way to the airport to catch his plane back home. My dad and I helped him carry his luggage outside, where his rental car was parked in the driveway.

My dad had given me $20 for gas earlier in the week. After Jochen drove away, and we were standing in the living room again, I sheepishly tried to pay Daddy back. He told me not to worry about the money. He seemed surprised that I had even brought it up.

I said, “But I’m a grown man! I shouldn’t take money from my parents!”

Granny, who was sitting on the couch, suddenly shouted, “You’re his child, Matthew! He would give you his last dime if he could, to help you!”

She said it with so much emotion. I didn’t even know she had been following our conversation. I felt shocked, humbled, and grateful all at the same time. I can’t fully explain the way I felt in that moment, but I wished I could hang onto that feeling forever.

Then Daddy, Granny, and I sat on the couch together, eating some little rectangular cookies Jochen had left with us. I don’t remember what we talked about, but we joked with each other and laughed for several minutes. There was something magical about our chemistry. Daddy and Granny were like a couple of old friends of mine, rather than my father and my grandmother. I wish I could remember what our conversation was about, but it has slipped away now.

When it was time for me to go, and I was about to step out the front door, Granny laughed and said, “Have a good day … and have a good week … and have a good rest of your life!”

I shuddered a little bit when she said that last part. I felt like she was saying “goodbye” to me on more than one level. She had been around for the first 33 years of my life — coming to all my birthday parties, watching me graduate from high school, slipping me five bucks whenever she showed up at my house — but now things were going to change. She was about to leave this world. She was getting ready to go off to Heaven. She wouldn’t be here to see the rest of my life. And she was telling me, “I hope everything goes alright for you down here on Earth.”

I have to stop thinking about it or I’ll cry all over my keyboard.

Not long ago, I drew a picture of Granny and gave it to her. The original photo was taken in 2010 — on Christmas, I think. Here is my drawing…

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Plane

Early this morning, I dreamed I was sitting on a plane, waiting for it to take off. I was about to go to Germany. There was a stewardess and a few other passengers hanging around inside the plane with me, making small talk and pacing around. The atmosphere was extremely casual. Ridiculous, actually. I hadn’t even bought a ticket yet, but they were still letting me sit there.

Then I pulled out my wallet and counted my money. I didn’t have as much as I had thought, but I did notice a couple of twenty dollar bills, wadded up and crammed in one end of the wallet.

I asked the stewardess how much it cost to ride the plane. I don’t remember what she told me, but the amount she asked for was more than I had. So I got up and shuffled off the plane, feeling embarrassed and bummed out.

In the next scene, I was walking quietly through Kroger with my mother, watching her place items in her buggy. I still felt disappointed.

I need to mention that I went on a school trip to Germany in 1998 and spent three weeks there. I stayed with a family there for two of those weeks. They’re wonderful people. I still keep in touch with them. In my dream, I was excited about visiting them again and seeing all the castles, cathedrals, villages, trains, and ice cream shops.

I’m not sure what the dream meant. But I thought I would write about it here so I can remember it later.

Also, I’m sorry for the sloppiness of these blogs. I used to write for a newspaper, and I was pretty good at writing in a hurry. But that was a long time ago. I still write on a regular basis, but I mostly do fiction now. I believe in the importance of a strong work ethic, but I’m not used to popping out little nuggets like this every day. I generally write something … and then I dilligently re-write it … and re-write it … and re-write it. So I feel embarrassed about the quality of these posts. I’m afraid I’ve been churning out crap for the last three days.

Perspective

I spent most of the weekend in a nearby town called Rome (that’s Rome, Georgia … not Rome, Italy) because my grandmother passed away in a hospital on Saturday afternoon. I’m sad that she’s gone, but I don’t feel comfortable about grieving right here on my computer screen. I do want to mention one strange thing I noticed this weekend, though.

Over the past couple of days, I whiled away many hours in my cousin’s basement, sitting with him and his wife on a worn-out sofa in front of an old gas heater. We told stories and remembered our grandmother while we watched the orange and blue flames dance. My cousin lives in a house that his father built 28 years ago. I remember playing in the house when all the paint was still fresh and leftover pieces of lumber and sheetrock were scattered on the porch. That was a long, long time ago — back when Ronald Reagan was president and “Alf” came on NBC every Monday night.

When I was young (and the HOUSE was young) that basement seemed so much bigger. It was the size of a stadium, I thought. It was so vast. Today, the basement still has the same old concrete walls and the same old wooden staircase in the middle, leading into a passageway lined with pink insulation up above. But it seems so SMALL compared to the way I remember it.

I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in other places too. The cafeteria at Johnson Elementary School, for example, was enormous when I was 10. When I went back to that same cafeteria as a teenager (when my little sister’s class was having a fall festival there) I realized how tiny it really was.

Reality is not what you think it is. Your persception of the world is skewed in ways you don’t even realize. This is something I think about a lot.

I will write more about this tomorrow. I have to go to the store now and find some clothes to wear to the funeral.

Welcome to the Chia Pet Circus….

ImageHello. Thank you for reading. I’m going to keep this first post pretty short because the wi-fi isn’t working very well at my apartment and I was forced to come to Starbucks to get on the internet. I’m not eavesdropping, but I can’t help but hear what the people at the nearby tables are talking about. A few feet away, a couple of girls are talking about flu shots. There’s also a passionate conversation going on in the corner, involving the words “social security” and “taxes.” In addition to the chatter, Paul Simon’s voice is coming from the speakers in the ceiling and someone in the “employees only” room is attacking an ice machine. So … it’s difficult to concentrate …. especially since I can barely concentrate anyway, even when I’m all alone in sweet silence.

My name is Matthew Curry and I’m 33 years old. I live with my cat, Frances, in a dimly-lit apartment in the northwestern corner of Georgia. I have a second shift job in an old textile mill where all the trash cans smell like used chewing tobacco. 

I love to write and draw. I recently finished writing and illustrating a science fiction novel, which will be uploaded to Kindle in the near future. My friend Judy Brooks gave me a lot of fantastic suggestions as I was working on the book and then edited it for me when I was finished. (Well, technically, the book is really NOT finished yet. We’re still fine-tuning it.) Judy also suggested that I start writing a blog to help promote the book.

And here it is.

I do most of my art in colored pencil. I prefer Crayola. I feel like I should work with PAINT instead, because there’s something more serious and respectable about paint, but I don’t feel comfortable about using brushes. They’re not exact enough. So I just stick with colored pencils.

I’m including one of my pictures with this post. This one is called “Clockwork 1.” It’s the first drawing in a series of four. In Clockwork 1, babies are growing on a tree. A robot with a clock for a head is standing under the tree, reaching for one, trying to pick it. The robot and the child appear in each of the Clockwork pictures … but the “child” is a teenager in the second drawing. And he’s a middle-aged man in the third picture. And he’s an elderly man in the fourth. In every drawing, the robot is stalking him.

I have to get out of here now. My nerves are shot.