Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bumping the Needle

Show of hands, right now:  How many of you have no idea what my post title means? 

Gaah!  Put 'em down, put 'em down! 

Sheesh.

All right, if you're going to get anything out of what follows, I guess I'll have to give you a history lesson.  Back in the olden days, iPods were called "record players".  And record players - stay with me, now - played records.

Records were flat, black plasticky circles that looked like what you'd get if you subjected a CD to a couple of hours under a rolling pin.  And the way you made the magic sounds come out of them was, you secured the record on the turntable, and put a "needle" in the "arm" of the record player, which sounds vaguely drug-abuse-esque but really wasn't.  And then you carefully placed the needle in the grooves of the record, turned on the machine, et voila!  The Bay City Rollers were telling you all about their plans for the weekend, specifically "S-A-TUR-DAY...NIGHT!"

Sometimes the records would get scratched, like if you disturbed too many air molecules or said the word 'scratch' while the record was playing. 

And if the record got scratched, then the needle would get stuck in one of the grooves, causing the Bay City Rollers to screech "S-S-S-Saturday Ni-YIGHT" over and over again, although in this case that was just how the song was written.  But with other records, in order to get things moving again, you had to give a little 'tap' to the arm of the player, thereby 'bumping the needle' to a spot that wasn't currently scratched.  This of course always resulted in further scratching of the record, something which surprised and enraged the needle-bumper every single time despite the fundamental principles of cause and effect that were so obviously at work. 

It wouldn't be until the 1990's, a decade that was every bit as stupid as the 1980's no matter what you young sprats have to say on the subject, that disc jockeys would begin using the needles to deliberately scratch their records in strategically artistic ways.  But that's a horror story for another night.

I'm not one for moralizing; I've always found that a bit tedious in others and besides, I assume you're intelligent enough to figure out what I'm getting at.

If I was a nightclub act, this would be the part where the piano music got soft and a single spotlight played on my earnest face as I took the mic from the stand and sat on a stool and said, "I'd like to take the room down a bit."

(What's that?  They don't use mic stands any more?  Since when?  Damn.  I really am old.)

And then I'd share some stuff with you that I don't normally tell my audiences.  But it would seem like the right moment, because we'd been having such a great time together up until then, and I would trust you with this glimpse into my soul, hoping that it wouldn't be such a bummer you'd be Tweeting "Next time we're in Vegas we're skipping this buzzkill and heading straight to Barry Manilow."

I'd say, "I'm not going to talk any more about past hurts that should just be dropped."  And I would also say, "I really do believe that most people are trying to do mostly good things most of the time."  And I'd probably add, "But we need to be careful with each other, because it's a lot harder to improve yourself if your only incentive is that maybe folks will finally stop yelling at you."

And then I'd tell you that it isn't normal to cry every day.  And that there's such a thing as empty, even in the deepest wells, and you really, really don't want to get there.  But, I would continue, if you do hit a dry patch, it's all right to ask people to stop lowering their buckets for a while, until you've got something down there worth bringing up. 

And I would encourage you to find good and positive ways to keep busy while you wait for your well to fill.  And I would assure you that people - angels, really - who get it because they've been there, will show up in the most unexpected places, offering encouragement and kindness, and laughter and light, until everything is all right again.

And then, because I'm me, I'd turn to the band and holler, "Enough of this maudlin nonsense!  Fire up 'Copacabana'!"  And I would put on a hat made of fruit and grab a couple of maracas and show you just how much fun music used to be.

Because if I were going to lose my audience to anyone, I'd want it to be Barry Manilow.

31 comments:

Hel said...

If there's one thing my mum taught me, it was all about how NOT to bump the needle, but to pick it up and gently place it down over the scratch.

We grew up on Beatles and show tunes all on vinyl.

And maybe someone just needs to be picked up gently (hugged a little) and carefully placed back down over the scratch. Because I completely agree with you that we need to be careful with each other. Hugs from not so far away now.

Sharon said...

Old enough here to most definitely remember flat records, mike stands and the 80s and 90s.

Thank you, especially, for "It's a lot harder to improve yourself if your only incentive is that maybe folks will finally stop yelling at you." Wish I didn't know what that was all about.

Beauty, lightness, humor, celebrating each other, and dancing like crazy -- and having the fun we used to have. Yeah, more of that!

Aunt LoLo said...

And where, exactly, do you come up with the courage and energy to explain to people that your well is empty, and needs some down-time??

Momza said...

Hel and I are singing the same tune on this...pick up the needle and carefully put it back down.
What you're describing is what I call, "Circling the Wagons"...I pull inward, take inventory of what's going on in my life, block out unnecessary "noise", come up with a plan, pray about it, and then carefully open the wagons again and keep going. And hey, I'm not even a pioneer descendant...I just think they had some really good ideas.
Sending good thoughts your way.

Becca said...

You need a good rainfall to fill up your well? So you stop getting bonked with other people's empty buckets? Come on up. Waterworks about around here. It's not rain, exactly... And who says it's not normal to cry every day? Normality is highly overrated.

Also, I love you. You know, in the totally correct, non-freaky ways.

Kristina P. said...

If my line of work, bumping the needle means something else entirely. And you will then get stabbed.

Instead of angels, I look for unicorns.

Love you, my friend!

DeNae said...

Aunt LoLo, admitting that I needed a break has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done. You're right; it does take a certain amount of courage. For me, it came down to a choice: Stop functioning and don't tell anyone, or stop functioning and at least let others know why so they can carry on without you for a while. I've never been very good at just "bailing", so I chose option 2.

Mikki said...

DeNae, take as long as you need. I hope your well will be running over soon!
(not that you needed my permission or anything).

LKP said...

you've got to know that the whole reason i opened this post today was BECAUSE of your post title.

i've had a love affair with vinyl records & record players my whole life. if you ever had the blues, screw the cassette deck or cd player, out came the vinyl. so much much of a love affair that i went into radio over it, AND named one of my favorite dogs ever 'Vinyl'. so i totally got where you were going...

(plus, you're right, the 90's WERE stupid. equal to the 80's for sure.)

...so to get back to where i was going with this comment, hope your hiatus brings great peace & fills your well thoroughly. you're a fabulous woman. one i really appreciate, even if i'm somewhat silent about it. you always brighten my day. (stupid selfish comment there, but it wasn't intended that way.) hang in there, the light will come....

and in the meantime, barry & the copa will do JUST FINE! ;)

LKP said...

p.s.
you'd probably be shocked at just how much vinyl i still own, even though my last player bit the dust several years back. lol. happy saturday, sweets.

Brooke said...

Hey, you could be psychotic like me and when you're feeling like your needle is stuck in a rut and you need to do something to fill up your well and shake up your life (and at the same time give yourself the perfect excuse to just hole up in your house for awhile and avoid public interaction) - you HAVE ANOTHER BABY!

Yeah, well it seemed like a good idea at the time. :-P

erin said...

You brightened my dark day once a bit ago and I can't say that reading this will do the same for you now that it did for me then but it is worth a try! Although I have never met you, you make me smile. I like that you are human and write about it. I am not at that place so I am glad someone is. I love your analogies because they hit the nail on the head so often. While I will miss your writing, know you will be thought of during your "refueling". Good luck and hugs!

DeNae said...

I'm not going far, Erin! You know what I'm mostly doing? Taking a giant step back - in all areas of my life - and catching my breath a little before heading back into the game. Blogging, church, music stuff - I'm going to make my first attempt ever at "moderation". Not sure if I'll be any good at it, but I'm giving it 150%!

Er...I mean, I'll just, you know, see how it goes...

Annette Lyon said...

Best night act ever.

"It's a lot harder to improve yourself if your only incentive is that maybe folks will finally stop yelling at you."

Amen.

Circe said...

You're seriously funny. Thanks! I love it. Don't stay away too long...

wendy said...

YOU..in a fruit hat...well, you do live in Vegas, It'd work!!!

I still have some 45's kicking around. And, hubby I am married to now, gave me a Diana Ross and the Supremes LP for my 17th birthday..oh, yeah.

Anna said...

I hope you find a trickle, that turns into a steady stream, and fills you back up. You've got guts DeNae, I believe you'll find a way through. :-)

Kazzy said...

Oh My Gosh, I am totally craving the mp3 of The Bay City Rollers now! Wasn't their hair incredible??

I like the way you talked about the lowering of the bucket. I am sorry your well is empty. Take a break from everything you can and rejuice.

Love you.

L.T. Elliot said...

One of the first posts I read of yours was when you compared yourself to a well. *hugs* I love you even more, today.

I understand the need for a break. Thank heaven you're better at explaining it than I was. I'm proud of you for knowing what you need and being brave enough to choose it.

In the meantime, if you ever need me, I'll be happy to share some water with you. Between the two of us, we could cry up a couple of bucketfuls for sure. *hugs and loves*

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Love you, DeNae. Sorry you're feeling empty and that other people keep stepping on your bucket. If there's any way drops can be sent via email or something, let me know.

seashmore said...

FYI: I'm 25 and know what it means to "bump the needle." Which I'm aware is abnormal. As is going 2 weeks (well 13/14 days) crying daily. As is crying while you're sleeping.

Too bad we can't combine our wells.

(Oh and my word verification: colob. What a homonym!)

AS Amber said...

Hey sister! I don't know what to say other than I love you and I hope you feel better. Only 19 more days til girls weekend! We missed you this weekend again. Just not the same or complete without you.

Xo

David Tieck said...

I miss record players and I never even had one! You can just tell things were better that way.

Wait, now that I think about it I was using one in my dream last night, why I have no idea, but yay :)

Melanie Jacobson said...

I wish I lived close enough to just come to your house and bring you chocolate and watch a marathon of something on TV that would in no way improve our minds. But I'll say . . . I like you. I hope all is well. I'm glad you blogged today. Let me know if there's something I can help you with in your novel.

Christine Macdonald said...

I Really think we were separated at birth. This is me, loving you.

*Whapack* That's a high five. I roll old school.

JoeinVegas said...

Are you upset because the Liberace museum is closing?

DeNae said...

Joe, I know, right? What the heck is that all about?? Goodman can campaign for a museum dedicated to the mob but can't find a way to keep alive the memory of the glitziest performer ever to grace a Vegas stage? I'm telling you, the world has just gone mad.

{As for the other posts, don't worry about being lost. Most of these commenters are really just voices inside my own head. :)}

Lara said...

I was *this* close to clicking "mark all as read" in my reader when I kept going, and came upon your post.

Wow. Did I ever need that little night club act.

And, I'm so glad that you took the courage to step back. Good luck with the moderation. I'm terrible at moderation, so I completely understand how difficult this must be for you. But I'm glad your'e doing it. Hugs.

PS My husband refuses to use his mp3 player. He practically refuses to use his CD player. He loves nothing more than hanging out at a thrift store looking for old 32's of little known orchestra performances by great conductors and great symphonies.

Debbie said...

Wasn't it the worst when you were having a really good slumber party with all your girlfriends and you'd be dancing and singing and carrying on and someone would bump the darn needle! Aargh. The pain and agony.
Wasn't Barry dreamy back then?

Uptown Girl said...

When I started reading, I thought this was a post about knitting.
Sorry, we had tapes when I was a kid (technically we had a record player, but switched to tapes when I was about 7 years old. So I dont count that).
THank you for always teaching me so much.

annie valentine said...

Glad to see you sounding like you. By the way, thanks for bumping my needle when I need it. You're such a kindred friend, it's like knowing Dear Abbey in person. (And I'm okay if sometimes it scratches a bit.)