I recently had the womens' suffrage song from the film Mary Poppins in my head for half an hour for no particular reason. It just wandered in, and my head was full of "cast off the shackles of yesterday" through whatever I happened to be doing: getting gas, doing laundry, working on complicated research problems: it was like a one-size-fits-all soundtrack to my day. Well, 2% of my day at least, until my brain moved on to "We Will Rock You," another well-known womens' suffrage song.
Songs get stuck in my head a lot, which is entirely normal for media-saturated modern Americans. Perhaps it was the same for our cave-dwelling ancestors ("Don't you hate it when you're trying to ground plants into paste and Urgh's hunting drums get stuck in your head?")--who knows?
Songs aren't all that gets stuck in my head, of course. Passages of scripture, memories, worries, my brain itself has been stuck in my head for years (although it seems to wander a surprising amount for being so securely fastened).
Questions. They get stuck in my head, too.
My daughter-to-be (daughterée?), for example, has asked me if I'm "part of India" at least a dozen times out loud, but the question, and her voice with it, have just sort of moved in over the past few weeks, which is funny, since half the time she phrases it as a statement: "You're part of India." So it's not like I'm looking for an answer.
Another voice in my head lately is that of my grandpa Art, who has been posthumously wandering through random scraps of his philosophies for my edification and benefit:
"I don't like to be an expert on anything; it's better to have a little knowledge in a wide range of areas. That's the genius of the thirty-second sound bite."
"So, in conclusion, Western civilization is doomed, democracy is falling apart. I love you; have a great day."
"A lot of people just throw it down the drain, but I get a lot of extra sustenance drinking the syrup from canned peaches. The taste is excellent; it's very filling and nutritious; they're a wonderful bargain."
I can see him, in his apartment (cleaned when he moved in the during the late 1950s or early 1960s and again in December 2005, just after he died) hunched over the phone talking to me. I have so many impossible memories, recalling things I cannot have seen. It's nice, though, to talk, impossible as it may be, with Art.
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