Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Cold water wash

I don't want to complain, but I'm battling a spring cold, which is only a shade less unnatural than a summer cold.

Periodically bursting into lopsided nasal showers, I do the relay up and down the stairs to the laundry room. Sharing machines with the thirty-four other units in the building is something I haven't had to do for years. Doing it with a cold is even less fun.

Young daughter is rehearsing this song for her spring recital. I find myself tearing up a little as I listen, partly because I'm sick, partly because it's a song sung by a girl with her arm in a sling because her boyfriend beats her and she's dreaming of a life with a kind man, and partly because -- dammit -- I miss having my own washer and dryer.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Staring at my hands

I played this for younger daughter in preparation for seeing a local production of Working. I've loved this song by James Taylor for years.

Now, my grandfather was a sailor
He blew in off the water.
My father was a farmer
and I his only daughter.

Took up with a no-good
mill-working man from Massachusetts
who dies from too much whiskey,
and leaves me these three faces to feed.

Mill-work ain't easy.
Mill-work ain't hard.
Mill-work, it ain't nothing
but an awful humdrum boring job.

I'm waiting for a daydream
to take me through the morning,
and put me in my coffee break
where I can have a sandwich
and remember...

Then it's me and my machine
for the rest of the morning,
for the rest of the afternoon,
and the rest of my life.

Now my mind begins to wander
to the days back on the farm.
I can see my father smiling at me,
swinging on his arm.
I can hear my grandad's stories
of the storms out on Lake Erie,
where vessels and cargos and fortunes
and sailors' lives were lost.

Yes, but it's my life has been wasted,
and I have been a fool
to let this manufacturer
use my body for a tool.

I ride home in the evening
staring at my hands,
swearing by my sorrows
that a young girl ought to
stand a better chance.

So may I work the mills,
just as long as I am able,
and never ever meet the man
whose name is on the label.