Saturday, July 30, 2011

Grooves, Alien, & Conversation

Grooves form when we revisit places. Before meeting my husband I generally saw a movie once- Star Wars being the exception but all of those viewings took place in a movie theater. I rarely watched reruns or even read the same book twice. Songs would get stuck in my head and so I would listen to them over and over, but stories were not revisited. He, however, watches anything he likes again and again. At first I resisted, but if he likes something- makes him laugh or entertains him in some way- it is a keeper and eventually it is played again. I came to think of this as a groove. Surprisingly, if a story is funny or scary or thrilling or sweet, the first time, it remains so upon many viewings or readings. History or other information rich stories reveal new insights with continued interaction. Listening to the same music is relaxing and eventually I think about the lyrics or something different. In childhood I was fond of eating the same foods again and again, but I had never applied it to stories.

My husband began watching the original Star Trek series in childhood. Those afternoon viewings were a way to unwind. Over the last thirty years, with the luxury of reruns, videos, DVDs, and downloadable files, he continues to relax from time to time with these same stories. He knows them well, and this intimacy is comforting and pleasurable. He often sees connections in science fiction movies that either were inspired by or inspired an episode of the show. From time to time, he pulls out films from the past. Recently we revisited Alien, the first one, and Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart. It reminded me yet again, a good story is worth repeating.

Some mama friends were over this week for a leisurely afternoon lunch- with six children playing in the house leisurely may be a stretch- but it was pleasurable and unrushed. Revelations related to a broken rice cooker and a Japanese husband's dislike of microwaved rice stuck with me and made me think of the pleasures of revisiting grooves.

In Japan, mothers often lay down with their young children to help them go to sleep. This practice seems fairly widespread amongst Japanese friends I have, Americans refer to this idea as co-sleeping. Mothers are also usually the first ones up to prepare breakfast and make obento lunches so when they lie down in a dark quiet place, sleep descends upon them. The younger the children, the sleepier the mother. Many mothers mention that they mean to get up from these early bedtimes when their husband come home from work- somewhere between nine to eleven o'clock at night, but many concede that sometimes the sleep through the night. This can go on through yochien preschool and the kindergarten years and into the start of elementary school.

My mama friend's revelation was that instead of falling asleep with her children, she is now able to stay up and spend time with her husband when he arrives home. In my mind's eye, I see her sitting at a table, watching her husband eat his dinner, squirming a bit as they navigate conversation anew in the evenings. Mamas do not always want to talk about children, but it is what they do all day. Dadas do no always want to talk about work- enough time was spent there already. Finding pleasurable conversation at day's end that is not limited to children and work is an admirable aim.

Finding mutually pleasurable conversation in many long term relationships while navigating new interests and daily developments means sometimes one party has a greater interest in a topic than another. Friendships formed in youth may stem from a shared passion with a sport or experience. Parental relationships form through home and school life.

Grooves such a favorite movie, a dish from one's past, or a beloved song, can connect an old pleasure to the joy of sharing something anew. A line of dialogue, a queue of old tunes, or a favorite recipe is a simple way to get to an enjoyable place without reinventing the wheel. Once upon a time, I rolled my eyes at the repetition of stories told around the table or movies being played again, but their value is in the comfort and happiness they bring to all even when introducing something new. Not that all conversation should be safe and happy, but who wants discord at day's end in one's domicile?

I don't want to talk about politics with anyone anymore mostly because it is pointless and unpleasant. American media spins political issues with discord and sides. Most political conversations are about sharing sides or maligning the other side. American politics is divided over political issues that are irrelevant to the actual person spewing them- the working man protests taxes which in reality are about corporations and the rich. At the end of my day, it changes no thoughts. Occasionally, there is a segue into a thought that challenges my thinking but it often comes from a more complex story as in Dead Man Walking and not the belabored fireside chat.

Religion and spiritual life are fettered with labels and meanings that make sharing thoughts and experiences tricky. The live and let live philosophy though often said is rarely walked. Money? Sex? Same things- too much judgment and personal experience involved. Regurgitated day? The blow by blow of one's day often does pass for conversation. Perhaps an offshoot or thought will result, but this is more monologue than conversation.

Watching Alien again, I recalled seeing it the first time- with my dad; he rushed me out shortly after the "alien" came out of the guy's stomach. He also told me about his first horror film, King Kong which even as a kid I did not consider it a horror film. He explained he hid behind the couch trying to watch it as a child as the ape terrorized the town and his imagination. For my husband and I Alien brought up a new conversation about the timelessness of the workers' grumblings and the dialogue reflecting the tension between the corporation, compensation shares, and personal interests.

A known enjoyment is a nice starting point for mutually pleasurable conversation. We can skip along on the surface of interests that don't draw us in or go deeper into things that do. There is always more to mine.