By Tracy Kiely
Before I tackle today’s topic – the soundtrack of my life – let me just say that, like a lot of other Anglophile’s, I have of late submerged myself into the posh world of Downton Abbey. (For those of you unfamiliar with this latest Masterpiece series, it follows the Crawley household during the waning days of the Edwardian Era. Or, as the Washington Post stated, “it is lifestyle porn for Anglophiles.”) The scenery is lush, the clothes are gorgeous, and the dialog – especially Dame Maggie Smith’s – is perfect and biting. More than that, though, the portrayal of the unhurried lifestyle of the Edwardian gentry beckons to me from my modern-day world of chaos. So much so, that after a happy visit with the Crawley clan, I have blinked in confusion at the mess strewn around me and begun to call out for Mr. Carson or Mrs. Hughes to set it right.
(And before you start yelling at me that it is in many ways an unrealistic portrayal, and that women, servants, and the lower classes were viewed and many times treated like second class citizens, and that that there were a host of social injustices perpetrated with casual indifference, let me assure you that I know all that. But dammit, it looks pretty and I like to pretend, so let’s move on, shall we?)
Anyway. I mention all of this so you will understand that I would love for my life’s soundtrack to be something sophisticated and elegant, but of course, with a hint of whimsy. The soundtrack to Pride and Prejudice would do nicely, as would just about any period drama from that era.
However, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that my soundtrack would be something like the Flight of the Bumblebee, and the version I would have would stick and skip.
I have three lovely children who are all displaying age appropriate behavior. My fifteen-year-old son has embraced the eye-rolling condescension of that age with a gusto normally reserved for violent video games. He does not understand what a laundry hamper or dishwasher is for. My twelve-year-old daughter is channeling the drama channel and learning to flounce off in a huff with the best of them. Unlike her brother, she understands what a laundry hamper is for; it is the thing in which you throw all the clothes that slide off of the closet hangers – and is the reason why a winter coat ends up in the laundry room in the middle of August. My third is a nine-year-old boy who can never find his shoes, casually mentions that he’s been brushing his teeth for several days without toothpaste because he couldn’t find any (despite there being three tubes on the sink), and refuses to wear anything other than sports jerseys. My dog likes to retrieve various items, such as the TV remote, and then play hide and seek with it. My cat normally stares at me with the cool indifference typical of his breed, but lately has been following me about and curling up with me. This, of course, only made me remember that story about the cat in the nursing home who could sense death and stayed close to those patients about to die. I have been on high alert all week.
Add to all this, a book that needs editing, a proposal that needs writing, and a marketing plan that needs marketing, and perhaps you will see why I long for Edwardian calm in the midst of my bumblebee flight.