This post has been a long time in the making. Honestly, I’ve had it written a few different ways, it’s just always been one of those things as to whether I wanted to hit the Publish button or not.
Summer was not idyllic around here, and, frankly, fall hasn’t exactly been much better. Unrelenting sunshine and heat, sickness we haven’t been able to kick, sleep that was consistent and then became very inconsistent and now is back to maybe being consistent, the early arrival of cold, snowy weather in the middle of my favorite season. It’s all been happening. But so has good stuff. We found out we are having another child, which is as exciting and daunting as the first time around (perhaps moreso, as I was tremendously depressed when we found out we were pregnant with our first, so it’s more exciting this time around, but also this time around I know what we are signing up for and all the work involved, which feels slightly more daunting in that I know instead of am just going in blind/oblivious/unable to comprehend because I don’t have the vocabulary for that kind of life). And now we’ve moved, as we knew we would need to at some point (a toddler has a way of making a house feel very tiny, no mater how small a peanut they seem to be), and we lucked into a beautiful new place that already feels like home despite us only being here a week or so.
All of that’s to say: I’ve been thinking a lot about a line from the title track to the new Cataldo album for the last month and a half, which seems to pretty perfectly outline what’s been on my mind through the ups and downs from the dog days of summer to these no-longer-golden days of fall.
The line goes ‘thought I’d feel different in early-middle age.’
It could be taken as a negative, and certainly it has at times, like the last month in our old place, when my wife or me had to sleep on the couch or bed next to our daughter’s crib because she had suddenly figured out that her amazing little body could pretty easily get up and over the side.
But mainly I’ve been thinking about the line with regard to how ill-equipped I’ve felt to process so much of life as I’ve grown into my mid-30s and parenthood and the marriage I’m in and the life I’m living and the family I continue to stay close to and the friendships I’m lucky enough to have.
It all feels so much better and more complex and like more work than we were lead to believe as we grew up. And that’s fine. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s a thing. It takes work and mindfulness and effort to keep everything in balance, and if you don’t put in all three consistently life starts to spiral and get out of whack, and that’s when it starts to get to be even harder and more work. It takes work- hard work- to be even passingly good at all the different roles you have to fill in your life at any given moment, and if you don’t try someone’s gonna know, whether it’s your partner, your 2 year-old or your mom.
I wasn’t expecting that work. I wasn’t expecting the constant vigilance that’s necessary to keep the train on the tracks in a healthy relationship, or how deep you have to dig in your reserves of energy and patience to show up for your child each day and help ensure they are becoming the best little human they can be (even if that might not include sleeping, at times), or how mindful you have to be to make sure you stay connected with your family and friends in spite of all the work you’re putting in elsewhere.
But I also wasn’t expecting the payoff of it all. I wasn’t aware of the deep joy that can come from watching as your child makes up her first song about something as mundane as taking gummies before bed (and how she keeps making up songs each day about all the other mundane things she does), or the humbling shame that can overtake you when you aren’t your best self in front of them. I wasn’t expecting to continue to be so infatuated and engrossed with the woman I married 6 years on, to the point that all I want to do is hang out with her and make dumb jokes and make her food that she tells me gives her goosebumps. And I wasn’t prepared for how much more deeply I respect the work my parents did to keep me alive/thriving for all those years when, as I’m learning now, it’s a constant battle to do so (and how my sisters have managed to do the same with their kids). And I didn’t know I could find new levels of friendship and respect and comfort with friends as I cross the mid-point of my 30s, but such is finding out the power of uncomfortable vulnerability and openness that runs both ways, it seems.
So, that’s what life has been like as summer has given way to autumn. It’s been good, on the whole, but it’s been work and, for a good bit of it, wholly all-consuming and overwhelming. Such is life, as I’ve found out and continue to be reminded of.
Below are the songs, via a good number of playlists, that have gotten me from the butt-end of summer into the thick of fall. I hope some of at least a few of them resonate with you. Enjoy.
what I liked best in September 2019 and what I liked best in October 2019
A whole mess of very good music came out these last two months, and the two playlists below have everything I liked best, from a new Hiss Golden Messenger song with one of my favorite opening verses of 2019, to that aforementioned Cataldo track, to a Whitney Houston cover from Illuminati Hotties that is ::::chef’s kiss::::, to a new track from Bonny Light Horsemen that’s one of the most beautiful I’ve heard this year, to a lushly sparse new Haim track (I swear, it’s a thing), to the best cover of 2019, courtesy of Joseph. It was a very solid two months of new music, I’d say.
And now, a collection of golden-tinged tunes for a season that never seems to stay golden long enough. I’ve been leaning heavy on these songs, and lines from these songs, as summer gave way to fall and fall is seemingly already starting to give way to winter. Still a month and a half left of this season, somehow, so more to come with this playlist, obviously.
10 years of fall
My very favorite tunes from the last 10 years of fall mixes I’ve been putting together. A whole lot of perfect songs on this here playlist.
the last decade
As we approach the end of the 2010s, it’s worth taking stock of what exactly one listened to during the decade. So, here’s what I’ve put together so far. Haven’t gotten to adding any songs from 2019 just yet, and the other years are all still works in progress, but I love every one of these songs on here. Only rule I used was one song per album (though I stretched that a bit here and there because sometimes there was a single and then a long time and WHATEVER I MAKE MY OWN RULES). Anyhow, a decade is forever, at least 2 or 3 lifetimes, and nothing shows you that quite like revisiting the music that soundtracked it all. I’ll keep tinkering with and adding to/subtracting from this through the rest of the year (and probably early next year, honestly).
Given that we got a total of more than a foot of snow before the calendar even turned to October, gonna just go ahead and share the winter playlist a bit early because maybe it’s winter where you are, or maybe you just need some cozy tunes. Whatever the case, it feels like maybe this winter is gonna be a long one, so I’m starting in early on this one- only spare songs for those short, cold days ahead.