Personal Essay

Starman

The following essay is something I wrote on the night that I found out David Bowie died. Originally posted to Facebook because at the time I didn't have the website.


The first song I ever remember hearing was Space Oddity.

My uncle used to give my dad mix tapes whose cases were decorated in comic and newspaper collage clippings my uncle pasted together.  One of the cassette tapes was a collection of David Bowie singles and my dad played it often.  I loved it so much that after a while I think I just unofficially inherited it.  It was one of my favorite tapes.  I used to fall asleep to music, and this tape was usually what was playing in the stereo as I drifted off.  Through this tape I was introduced to the sonic worlds of John I’m Only Dancing, Changes, Golden Years and of course Ziggy Stardust, the greatest song ever written.

Those songs stirred my imagination and fascinated me in an important way.  Who was the Jean Genie?  What are Diamond Dogs?  Closing my eyes made me feel like I was floating in space with Major Tom.  I’m not sure why this exact image came into my mind when I heard it, but whenever I listened to Let’s Dance, I always pictured skeletons dancing in a graveyard.

From that moment on, David Bowie became a hero of mine, and forever will be.  Even though it scared me too much the first time, Labyrinth eventually became one of my favorite movies.  When my friends and I made a fake TV Talk Show with a miniDV video camera, I was David Bowie as the musical guest.  I lip-synched Ziggy Stardust.  In a high school Spanish project, I used the song Fashion as background music.  I got points taken off for using a song with English lyrics but I didn’t care because I’d found an excuse to shoehorn such a great song into a school project.  I remember my mind getting blown when my dad pointed out to me that Aladdin Sane was actually A Lad Insane.

David Bowie is a patron saint of the weirdos and the outcasts, the freaks and the rebels, the ones who never quite felt like they fit in.  He took his weirdness and wore it on his sleeves and turned himself into a living embodiment of eccentric cool.  His music spans and sometimes completely defies genre.  He’s been a capitalist alien, a vampire, Pontius Pilate, the Goblin King, a walk-off mediator for fashion models, Nikolas Tesla, and now he’s immortal.

My thoughts, prayers, good vibes, et cetera go out to his family and close friends during these next few days.

Goodbye Mr. Bowie, and thank you for all the good dreams.

Spinning Blades

I have a strong affinity for old family photographs, particularly from times when I wasn't around or when I was too young to remember anything anyway.  One frozen moment says a thousand different things.  My particular favorite is a photograph of my mother holding me while I was still barely a year old.  We're both looking up at something just out of right-hand side of the frame.  Both of our faces are plastered with the most excited, joyful, wondrous smiles that light up the rest of the photograph.

We're staring at the living room fan, slowly spinning around and around, distributing a lazy, cool breeze around the room.  My mom says I would stare at that fan for hours, hypnotized.  She loved to hold me under the fan, watch my face, and rock back and forth while she sang "Horses" by Rickie Lee Jones.

I've thought about that picture and about that fan for most of my life.  Tonight, I've come to the conclusion that this picture is a definitive representation of the strength, love, and natural dedication that my mother has shown in the twenty five years that she's been there for me.  Of the countless times that I looked up at that fan, spinning in circles again and again, she never failed to match my enthusiasm and excitement for something others might consider so banal.  She greeted that fan with the same wonder that my little baby brain did.

She has shown that same devotion and wonder and love in every other part of my life.  Anytime I seek out a new goal, a new dream, a new chapter in life, she is standing there beside me, sometimes literally, sometimes spiritually, looking on in purely genuine wonder, excitement, and optimism, encouraging me to go on and push further.  Life has gotten a lot more uncertain and dark since the days of watching spinning fan blades.  A lot of times the idea of throwing in the towel is the most appealing thing I can think of, but my mother's unending encouragement keeps me going.  Pure and completely real positivity is hard to find in this world.  On this day, and in every day, I am utterly grateful for my mother keeping that ideal alive and shining bright.

Happy Mother's Day and here is to more years of spinning fan blades that never lose their allure.