How far you travel

I grew up in a place like this one.

I grew up in a village in Yorkshire, back in England. English readers may have an idea about the sort of place it might be. A little bit rural, it’s nearest towns old industrial towns, with many deserted mills, remnants of the fallen industries like cloth and textile production. In fact the village I grew up in had many of these, and had a canal passing through it, the original way to move goods from one place to another before the roads took over. Many of these factories have now been converted to modern flats (apartments), so at least all the old buildings are not totally lost. These buildings were still empty when I lived there.

Growing up there, visiting a place like Hollywood seemed a million miles away. Even travelling to London in those days seemed far. There was much of a small town mentality there. As it turned out, once I hit 16 and finished my GCSEs, my parents and I moved south (of London), so going to London became less of a big deal, although still fun. I continued with my education, moved again for university, before settling back in the south east of England. Over the years it was easier to view that village mentality from the outside. Everything seems so far away. I had seen more of the world, met many people from around the world, and seen many different perspectives. These days, air travel is much more common, and the internet has brought things closer together so imagine it would be different growing up there now. Although I had a nice childhood growing up there, I’m thankful that I moved away when I did.

Preceded by a few lean years, in the past six years, I met my wife, proposed and got married, moved country, and had a son. I’m not sure how it all came about, and worked out this way, well I do know, so you’ll have to take my meaning, but either way, I’m certainly not complaining. I now live in Southern California, a long long way from where I grew up. Myself I’m not interested in celebrities and celebrity (I hesitate to call it) culture, I just respect or look up to an artists work. It’s kind of cool being able to drive into Hollywood, but not that special to me. To many where I grew up, living in California, close to this, not too far from beaches or mountains, the warm climate, is “living the dream”. It is nice, I like it a lot here, I like the people, don’t get me wrong, but balanced off against the dream is the reality. The somewhat barbaric medical system, education cuts, and a seemingly inability to tax the rich folks a bit more, when they certainly can afford to contribute a bit more. The UK sure isn’t perfect, but if nothing else, it has a medical system where you do not have to consider the cost and then debt. There is no cost. With any place there are upsides and downsides, thankfully more of the former.

A few months back when driving into Hollywood to visit Amoeba records, with my son sat in the back seat of the car, this all struck me. I was driving into Hollywood on a saturday morning. The young me would have thought this one of the best things ever (the young me knew nothing of LA traffic, but that is another story). I wondered how a lad from Yorkshire finds himself in this position. My son, assuming we continue to live in Orange County as he grows up, will have a completely different upbringing to me. Totally different environment. He will know next to nothing of Yorkshire, how those old communities worked. How people dressed (especially the older generations). What the history of the place was. Even something small like blackberry picking along the banks of the canal. He will live in an area where Disneyland is not a once in a couple of years trip, it is a short drive away. Where we can get to the beach easy, or drive out into the desert easy, and get stuck in traffic often. He will have all the technological advances we have now and more. Will this transform schools? Even if it doesn’t, the American schooling system is different to the English one, even down to how the students form cliques. He will (hopefully) learn much from me but in many ways, his upbringing will be thousands of miles from mine.

How did I get to a place that I never imagined I would growing up, yet it not be a big deal, and it be normal. I imagine the “not a big deal” is because it has become normal. When I first visited America, I had a week around Orange County / LA for various trips (beaches, Disneyland, Universal studios, a wedding), met my wife, travelled to Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Francisco a drove the pacific coast highway through Big Sur back down to Orange County. It was an amazing trip and in many ways led to where I am now. I visited several more times before ending up living here. And now I have had a child here. It isn’t a road I could have planned, but it is the road I travelled.

When I think about how much my life has travelled, moved and changed since that move at 16 years old, I realise that I have been on a journey, or many journeys, depending on how you want to break it up. This is that substance that writers and storytellers are after. I realise that however unlikely it might have seemed when I was younger, that I would end up here, at this point in my life (hopefully with still a lot of life to live), that it is what happened. I can join the dots and see how I got here. This is what to bring to characters, stories, or both. The journey might seem unbelievable, but if you provide the the dots and “true” ways to join them, then the journey will feel a real one. Now I come to think of it, that is how you would devise a plot in a crime drama or mystery. But if you get stuck, look back at your own life, look at how far you travelled, and transfer a little of that mystery, or at least the spirit of it, to this thing that you are creating.

Lexicon word of the day: pabulum.


Monday Haiku and what I learned this weekend – 23 April 2012

The view from Amoeba music in Hollywood on saturday (click on the picture for their blog):

So this weeks weekend relevant prompts, for Monday Haiku are:

  1. Heat Wave – After last weeks heavy rain, the hot weather put in an appearance from last thursday. I’m not sure whether it was technically a heat wave, but it is near enough as prompts go.
  2. Amoeba – Saturday was Record shop day. This, a day of exclusive limited edition releases, released only in independent shops. Record shop day as you might be able to guess, is in support of independent music stores. I went to Amoeba in Hollywood. You can read yesterdays post for a quick report on that.
  3. Crowds  -Yep, people were queueing round the blog at Amoeba this saturday.

So here we go:

Dripping down my back

sweating, heat throttling me

I like, I complain

Eagle eyed readers may spot I used the first line on the first poem last week when writing about the rain. I’m not being lazy here, I just found it interesting to use the same line to mean two different things.

Love to feel you out

music albums in the racks 

the great Amoeba

I do love browsing in music shops, and Amoeba is one of the best.

What? a block or two?

heated crowd, record store day

No new buy for me

And bonus Haiku? Ok, I could just call it Monday’s fourth Haiku, but it’s a bonus one so be quiet at the back. This week is squats. My boy keeps doing cute, and funny, little squats (we need to get him some mini weights!):

Careful, stop, balance

squat down, smile, stand right back up

funny exercise

Things I learned this weekend:

  • Pushing myself too far at the gym was not a good thing off the back of a week off, due to a cold, and it not being 100% off my throat. Well that and adding 10 pounds to the weight I was doing sit-ups with. (I was a tiny bit sick).
  • Amoeba, great store that it is, is not the place to go on record store day unless you get there really early.
  • Technically this was thursday but anyway – Taking my 16 month old son to the beach for the first time since he started walking was just the best thing. He loved the sea getting his feet the first time so much, he took off chasing after it laughing. He loved digging in the sand too, and wandering, and wandering.
  • This one applies to my wife as much as me, but re: above point, we must remember that putting suncream on, not only applies to our son. I now have a nice “red neck” tan. We both a pair of plunkers. In my head, I cannot get sunburnt at the beach, even though I always do.
  • Liverpool Football club can dominate a game, create loads of chances, hit both the crossbar and the post, and still loose 1 nil after one defensive mistake. Oh well, at least the league position does not matter too much now.
  • I mentioned last week that the posts about spam get more spam than ever, and that anything else does. Here is one that I liked this weekend “here  is a superb Blog You might Obtain Intriguing that we Encourage You” – indeed.
Have a fun week.

Lexicon word of the day: galumph.

Record shop day and Amoeba records

Yesterday was Record store day, a day to support independent music stores, for the music fan anyway. I suspect most people don’t care too much. That might be a shame considering how many music stores are disappearing in favour of a few online stores. I’m well aware of downloads being the current and mostly future of music (for most people anyway), but I love the physical aspect of vinyl or CDs. Plus the quality. Online downloadable music is not fully up to scratch yet. I did a post about that once. Also as much fun as it can be looking online for music, and it is, I really do enjoy flicking through the racks of a music store. I love the posters, artwork, the smell and feel of a store.

In support of record store day, many artists have been releasing limited edition singles, EPs, or even albums. These are strictly limited number pressings available only through participating independent stores. This year there were a lot of releases, and to some extent it looked like there was a bunch of artists jumping on the bandwagon, just so they will have something out on the day. I might be being cynical, but that is the way it seems. Still there is plenty of cool stuff in there, including a big release by the Flaming Lips (and friends), singles by Jack White, and a good single by Best Coast. However that barely even gives a flavour. A full list of releases yesterday can be viewed at the link at the top of this post.

Having a small child, I’m not really in a position this year to get in line with the music geeks and queue up, making sure I could get a record or two. I kind of like the look of the Flaming Lips release but I figured I was unlikely to get to somewhere before it sold out. That said, whilst I wasn’t desperate to get hold of anything, I figured a trip to Amoeba in Hollywood, was in order (a sort of wedding anniversary gift from my lovely wife). A chance to check out the vibes, and see how different from a normal day it is.

We usually head to Amoeba for when it opens, to get decent parking, but as anyone who has lived around LA can tell you, also to avoid some of the worst traffic. When we arrived, there was an enormous queue of people outside, a couple of blocks long. It was soon revealed as a line for those wanting to try to buy releases for record store day. Otherwise you could head straight in. Good luck to them I say, as previously mentioned, I was not in a position to queue in the hot sun, and I figured I was so far back I would not get what I wanted anyway. So a little disappointed that I might not be able to get the Flaming Lips release, I went for plan B. I was at Amoeba, might as well just browse the store and pick up a few things.

So that I did. It was pretty busy (which is good really, even if not the best for browsing), And I didn’t spend a lot, but I picked up the following:

  • Wilco – “Kicking Television – Live in Chicago” (Wilco are a really good band live, and I have never heard this).
  • Pavement – “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” (deluxe edition)
  • Graham Coxon – “Love travels at illegal speeds” (I already had this, but it came from the time when there was stupid copy protection on the disk and I could not even import it into iTunes, I always wanted to pick it up again with a “clean” disk).
  • Pete Townsend – “Lifehouse elements”
  • The Verve – “Forth” (I thought this might be a bit average, but it was cheap so worth a go).

See, I’m a music fan who has a lot of albums, and a lot that I like. Sure there is always something to discover, but sometimes my music browsing is often to pick up a few things round the edges that I haven’t got yet. Actually I have a list of some things I want to pick up. Many were not there today, but that is ok. I got others, I supported an independent store a little. In terms of record store day releases it was a washout for me, but maybe next year if there is something I want, I will get up nice and early. Amoeba is always good for a look, for something new, or for something to add to the collection.

I think Amoeba had a successful day. You can read their store blog about it here.

Lexicon word of the day: gallimaufry.