2017.01.11 The Year of the Dog (it’s actually next year)


We have had the same wallpaper in our entryway since soon after we bought our house in 1985. You could call me lazy for not ever changing it; I prefer to think I’m just loyal to a pattern I love.

It’s likely that the wallpaper didn’t actually go up until early 1986, making it almost 31 years old. I didn’t do it myself; it was a tricky affair involving stairs, high ceilings and not very nice walls, and I was really pregnant with Rosie. The name of the woman who papered the room escapes me at the moment, but she was really excellent at wallpapering.

Knowing us, the wallpaper was some cheap brand, but she applied it amazingly well and it has served us well. There are a couple spots that haven’t weathered the special abuse grandkids inflict (the kind that happens when there are many adults around, all thinking that someone else is watching the kids, coupled by David’s and my relaxed attitude about wallpaper abuse inflicted by grandchildren: it just doesn’t matter.)

I don’t quite know what’s happened to me over the years. It used to drive me nuts when my kids got marker on the carpet or swung a door so hard the knob made a dent in the wall. Now when coming upon the aftermath, I’m more apt to respond, “Well, she’s just making a memory,” when my granddaughter Caroline rummages through her Aunt Sarah’s suitcase, finds and opens a bottle of hair oil and in the process of examining the mystery contents, spills a large amount on what I consider the only pretty carpet in the house, a lush, deep maroon in Rosie’s old room. A memory on the maroon.

It’s just another example of what happens when a child escapes adult supervision. There was also the incident of the-powdered-makeup-on-the-bedspread, but I digress. I double-digress; this column is really about loyalty. Loyalty to wallpaper, loyalty to songs.

I realized recently that I am a serial musicologist. I don’t really know what a musicologist is and I’m sure I’m not using the term correctly, but I noticed that I fully embrace and singularly listen to one song at a time. Over and over, when I come upon one I really like, I play the same song. 

For a long time it was the Old Crow Medicine Show’s version of “Wagon Wheel.” When driving alone up north for a library conference a few years ago, I played and sang along to that song the entire way up and all the way back. It was on a CD one of the kids created and I probably couldn’t even find it now, but that song carried me for quite some time. “Rock me mama like a wagon wheel, rock me mama any way you feel”—I don’t think about what the lyrics might mean; I just really like them combined with the music and the crackly voice of the lead singer. 

Now it’s “Jangar” that has me in its grip. It’s one of the songs AnDa Union, the group from Inner Mongolia, played when they visited the library back in October. For months, I have played that as my morning wake-up, pre-shower song. We have their CD in both vehicles and I never tire of that particular arrangement of sounds, the fast, upbeat, other-worldly music, the unique “swoosh” interjected in several spots.

“Uptown Funk” is another—I was first introduced to it by Caroline (of carpet killing fame) a couple years ago; the clean version was the finale song at her dance recital and she sang the opening lyrics often. In my “Uptown Funk” era I used to listen to the 100 Dance Scene Mashup version from Youtube on my phone. Those little dance clips in sync with the music—it just adds even more to the daily experience. 

As my Chinese Zodiac insists, I am loyal like dog.

It says so right there on the Internet: “Dogs are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Due to having a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, Dogs will do everything for the person who they think is most important.” Like ignore big oil stains on a maroon carpet.