“Send it off in a letter to yourself”

In the morning my eyes were puffy and my hair askance, and I went to Starbucks like that for a cold brew. I said skip the ice, I just need the caffeine — the woodpecker woke me up again. And then I went by the store for hard-boiled eggs and onwards, up Cougar Mountain.

On the ride I remembered the early Saturdays when I was in the Mountaineers club, meeting at the Park and Ride to carpool with others like me, who all seemed a bit off. That time up Mt. Forgotten one of the guys fell and hit his head on the rocks, and we all had to test him, was he concussed? And the time we went up Mt. Stuart in a day, which you can do in the mid-summer with all the light — that time I sang Robert Plant the last few miles out, probably concussed.

Up Cougar Mountain I went through the forest, the sound of woodpeckers better on trees than gutters. And I thought about my client at work, the irony that she’s having trouble making time to prepare a speech about work-life balance. I recalled the rest step technique, which I learned in the Mountaineers, and the guy who taught it to us Ed Martinez, watching him demonstrate it in the snow…how with each step climbing up, you roll your leg back so your thigh’s not flexed the whole time, it can relax a bit. He said do that, and you can go on forever. And he sure looked like he could, rest step or not.

But the analogy didn’t hold for a tech conference. And the idea of balance sets you up for the likelihood you’ll fail. No one can hold a pose for more than half a minute, I learned that in yoga. The concept is right, the phrasing is wrong.

I ended the week well, and got a text from Dawn as I was leaving the office: both kids were sleeping over at different places, and she was on her way to Seattle to see some friends. I had the night to myself, and got in the car to hurry out, unsure what to do, or where to go. And part of me felt sad and selfish, I felt like I should be with them.

I stopped by the bar for a drink and a meal, and then home to feed the animals. I pulled the chair up the lawn and sat with the dog and cat, waiting for the moon to come out. And I decided I’d go inside on the recliner and fall asleep as it got dark, and play Steely Dan until I heard that song I wanted, to get it out of my head by hearing it out loud.

Post title from the Steely Dan song, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, 1974.

Categories: hiking, humor, identity, Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , ,

27 replies

  1. First. Huzzah.

    This will probably irritate you but I love the sound of woodpecker. I always try to find them but usually fail. That knocking slays me. They’re smashing their tiny heads against a tree.

    I dyslexicaly thought you *saw* Robert Plant. Now, THAT’D be a post.

    I get those free night once in a while when I’m not needed anywhere or by anyone. I feel a guilt-free liberation.

    ‘Rikki…’ not one of their best efforts but what an album!


    • You probably won’t believe this but I was actually going to dedicate this post to you, because I remember how vehemently you’ve bad-talked Steely Dan. I intended to do that and then forgot, but remembered when I saw you posted this AM, and then there you are again, with Robert Plant. You know “Rikki” is aping a Jazz tune, the bass line…I’m not sure which one, but it’s Dexter Gordon or something. I heard that jazz song and then had to hear the Steely Dan, this is the twisted logic of yoga pretzels and so on.


      • Sir! I LOVE Steely Dan! I saw a concert last year that was a poor showing but I’m a big, big fan. Know all the lyrics on all the albums. Even the obscure ones and the solo efforts. But I still don’t like Rikki. Saw a documentary on the recording of Aja that was pretty interesting. They sound like a couple of perfectionist, brutal taskmasters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my god my brain is failing. I could have sworn it was SD you had a thing about. Now I have to reset and go back and scan for more detail. Damn. Yes, some wankery in them I can fully appreciate and aspire towards myself.


      • Bad concert last summer might’ve given you that impression. But otherwise…


      • Ok, thanks. There’s still some major band disconnect with you and me and I can’t place it, but I will. I’m going and putting Rikki on now.


      • Yoga pretzels for Pretzel Logic, hee hee.
        Won’t surprise you to hear that I’m also a Dan fan of the first order. Seen ’em three times (the first time in Frankfurt; wrote about that one at Vinyl Connection) and would probably go to see Donald without Walter. Maybe.
        Anyway, for the record, it’s Horace Silver:

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha, yes on the pretzels. I like that I got schooled on Horace Silver (and I actually know the song, just couldn’t associate the two). See, I deserve that. Yes I read that VC I think; that was a good one. They all kind of run together too, like good jazz tunes you can’t get out of your head.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Are they smashing their heads? I guess. It’s similar to the teenagers this time of year driving around with their bass up and the windows down, same maneuver….look at me, look at me!


  2. I love the Can’t Buy a Thrill album, but mostly because it reminds me of my childhood. My mom would play it over and over, along with a 45 of Tull’s Bungle in the Jungle. Between that and my grandpa teaching me everything Big Band (he used to make tapes where he’d DJ all the songs), I was destined to never be cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would be my favorite too, if not for the cover. Hi Michelle! Here’s to not-cool, the new cool.


      • I was waiting for my daughter’s sax lesson and there was someone playing old songbook favorites on the piano. I thought how strange it was that I knew all the words (King of the Road, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Days of Wine and Roses…). What important information has been displaced for me to retain those? And I was wondering if I’m going to give up learning any new music, like maybe my library is full.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m of the mind it’s okay to have a full library (provided your library is good). Me, I’m done taking new patients.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I often get “My Old School” stuck in my head, which is OK because I like it. “California/tumbles into the sea!”

    Rikki never bothered me, but now in my dotage I know the jazz reference is Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father.” Check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I get a song stuck in my head, there’s nothing I can do to get it out, it’s in there until it’s done with me. Today it’s Afternoon Delight, not the original but the Little Hurricane cover from the Taco Bell commercial.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The band The Circle Jerks covered that song too, in a medley called “golden shower of hits,” if I’m remembering that right. “Gonna grab my baby, gonna hold her tight—“

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just listened to it. I see they squeezed in The Carpenters and Captain & Tennile, too, which is fantastic. Thanks for turning me on to that on the same day I treated myself to a seventies shower on the dog walk that included Love Will Keep Us Together and ABBA, among others. Good capper!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amazing, not only that my memory was accurate but that you indulged in it too! Ha! That’s some good social media right there, boss.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Every time I play Scrabble, and the letters align just so, “I’m singing ‘No I’m never gonna do it without the fez on…” for hours.
    Steely Dan has hijacked this comments section.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, stopped by and it’s Marrakesh Express to the ’70’s. I’ve enjoyed reading the post and the comment stream. I know what a fez is, from watching Casablanca/Shriners at the Philly Mummer’s Parade/They Might Be Giants – -listened to the SD song, and am now going to go erase that, Rikki, please lose that number.

    Liked by 1 person

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