Thursday, January 03, 2008

you've got to find your big gigantic drum kit

I don't watch much television. In our current place the television is set up in our basement. It's a very nice basement, just as underground and wood-paneled as any, but dry and carpeted and surprisingly spacious. We actually spend a lot of time down there, in active play, in creative attempts. It's a good space and tipped the balance, for sure, when we first viewed this house and considered it for purchase. But the television is out of the way, downstairs, and not so convenient for spontaneous watching. Which works out great, because over the years we've gotten out of the habit of watching current television and the basement-teevee set-up works just fine.

And really, this isn't about my basement at all. Maybe some day I'll take you on a photo tour and you can see the whole underground half of my house, but this is about not watching television so much.

So we don't watch a lot of current televisin, but the husband and I do enjoy watching old television on dvd. The low time commitment (half an hour or an hour, versus two+ for a movie) seems more accessible. Even though we often burn through several episodes at a time, we could always stop (after just one more). It seems more immediately gratifying somehow than starting a whole full length film. He works too much and falls asleep too inadvertently to be the best movie watching companion. Shows on dvd are much more our speed right now.

One perk for not watching much when it aired the first time around is that there's plenty to choose from when looking for old shows. Almost everything is new to me. I try to stick to shows recommended to me from those whose opinions I trust. I don't think I'll be settling into a CSI marathon anytime soon (or ever). I like quirky comedies or witty dramas, though, or occasionally really popular things like ALIAS and LOST.

Our library is small. I've rectified my confessoin from a few months ago and not only have I finally set foot inside, but we go regularly now. We're library people, so this isn't surprising, but I'm a slow warmer-upper and it's taken me a while to feel comfortable there. As far as libraries go, I've been in worse, but it has a smaller selection that I'd prefer. (stay tuned for another trite adventure of City Mouse moves to the Small Town). The movie selection is particularly lacking. I've only seen a few television series at all, so when I see one, I grab it.

The other day I got the complete series of Freaks and Geeks. We watched the first two episodes last night. I might be the latest arrival yet to this party, since the show premiered in 1999, but if you haven't seen it yet, I'd give it a tentative thumbs up. I'll make my final judgement after I've seen the whole thing. I don't normally like a high school drama. I didn't go to high school, so it's not a case of my personal experience not being reflected on screen (because that's a given); I find myself watching shows in a high school setting with the same derision I also reserve for people who talk about their teenaged years as the Best Time of Their Lives. No thanks. I mean, for one, how depressing to blow your whole happy wad at seventeen. I like to think that maybe next year will be my happiest.

But Freaks and Geeks blew me away. It's clever and sharp and would appeal, I'd assume, to a wider audience than only those currently attending high school. I mean, what do I know about what people currently attending high school would be interested in watching? My finger is not on the pulse of current trends, it is not. I mean, it appealed to me, so maybe that makes it less clever to the masses, who knows? It just rang true, not of what my high school years were like (oh ho, no. But that's not likely a tale I'm willing to tell here. this is my quiet, neutral public space and that's a loaded, private story) but what my life is like, uh, now. Take away the parents and the pop quizzes and I've got a lot of similar what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-myself angst. I told a friend recently that hitting my thirties has rivaled adolescence for angst. I know everyone says you'll have it all figured out by the time you hit thirty, I know the expectation is that the path will be clear and questions will be fewer. I am a little more comfortable in my own skin than I was a decade or so ago, but without the buffer of immortal optimism built in anymore (that thick coating of endless future so common in one's twenties), my thirties are feeling a little like it's time to shit-or-get-off-the-pot. The time is nigh. The time for what though? See, that's the question and that's why I found myself last night totally enjoying a long cancelled high school drama more than I expected I would.

There is this scene in the first episode where the main character and one of her new ruffian friends skip school; he takes her back to his house to show her something "amazing". And what do they see? His drum set. Snares and cymbals and one giant bass after another filling up the whole of his garage. And he's thrilled and excited and she is blank faced and confused and he tells her how lost he was before he discovered how much he loved drums. He tells her that she needs to find the thing that she's passionate about.

What am I passionate about?

I have passing interest in lots of things but I don't have one driving motivator shoveling coal in the boiler room, one powerful skill or talent or belief that fuels the rest of what I do. I think having that keeps a person moving along at a steadier clip.

(although moving slowly allows for a lot of tea drinking and bird watching)

I can be passionate about making wild speculations about the sordid, secret lives of my neighbors (I do this everywhere I live. I can't help it. My apologies if you live next door. But I think I know what you're up to. . .); I will animatedly describe my latest thrift store finds with emotion one might categorize as "passion"; I have not made certain lifestyle decisions lightly and can intelligently discuss the finer points of my ideas surrounding birth and learning and particular health nuances with intensity, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm really super passionate about any of that stuff.

Right now, I'm passionate about keeping the boy awake for the rest of the afternoon. Our mornings have gotten off to a late start, increasingly later day by day, late starts lead to late naps which lead to late late bedtimes and the cycle repeats. If I jolly him through without a nap today, we can attempt to nip the cycle with an early bedtime. And he can get to sleep early enough for me to watch the rest of the Freaks and Geeks episodes in one sitting tonight. I can get behind that.


lynnie/ivy said...

I've only heard about it recently. I'm interested partly because it's set in the same time period as my own highschool years (I graduated in 1981). A boy in my neighborhood even took me to his house to show me his drum kit! Then he told me about this great new band called The Knack and asked if I liked New Wave music. I had no idea what he was talking about.

I didn't know you didn't go to highschool. I hope you write about it sometime.

susie s. said...

that show is one of the best ever, i was so sad when they canceled it!


triple p said...

I loved Freaks and Geeks and we only discovered it about 6 months ago.

Angelina said...

I may have to rent it now. I've seen it at the rental place but here's the thing: if it's anything like Rushmore, I will hate it. Is it at all like Rushmore?

april. said...

angelina, it's been too long since i've seen rushmore, so i might not be recalling correctly, but i sure don't think they're similar. freaks and geeks is very simple and doesn't try to hit you over the head with its symbolic wittiness. i generally find bill murray tedious, so i think that negatively colored my take on Rushmore (likewise, lost in translation, but i *did* like The Life Aquatic, go figure.)

april. said...

lynnie. . . i thought you knew i didn't go to high school! i always think it's of those stories i've told so many times no one wants to hear anymore. i'll consider approaching the subject anew.