Once More With Feeling

20 May

In making my best effort to let special people know who I am, I present to you my autobiography as told in music.  You can play along here if you’d like a soundtrack:

I’ve left out #somany important and good songs.  Sometimes one’s life is not best described in their ability to wave their musical taste wang about to show everyone its size and girth.  So I’ll just remind that it’s not ladylike to disclose such things to you.

I’ll warn you, I’m trying to keep it brief but we’ll see.  I’m not sorry at all though, song has been my story for my whole life.  I’ve been making mixes since I was 10, and so this makes sense.  I hope it does to you too.

Dyslexic Heart – Paul Westerberg 

This song is one of a few from the Singles soundtrack.  I can’t reiterate how my becoming actual me that exists today me started with this soundtrack.  I used to spend a lot of time hoping someone would read my mind.  (Okay still trying to fight this problem.) I laughed when I first heard this song because it’s the other side of the story.  This is the first of three straight up autobiographical songs about my adulthood found on that soundtrack.  By the way – it is my strong opinion that too many people my age spend too much time trying to play the rules of dating as lined out in the movie Swingers and not enough from the movie Singles.

I Love a Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt

Are there cooler songs to flex my “I grew up on Classic Country” muscles?  Yes definitely.  Are there lamer songs found in my mom’s stack of vinyl rather than my dad’s?  A quick survey of Paul Anka, the Carpenters, The Gaither Family Trio, and Olivia Newton John should answer that for you.  I pretty much wore the track out on my dad’s album for this song.  I would sing it to myself when I ran water for a bath, and when I was scared of a thunderstorm or tornado warning.  It’s also illustrative of what I require 50% of my music to be: upbeat, peppy, and wonderful.  And illustrative of how much joy the seeming “downer” things in life bring me.

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me – Culture Club

At the age of 10, I received my very first clock radio and the ability to listen to the rock and or roll music.  Consequently, I also bought my first pre-teen mag with free posters in it.  Boy George was one such poster on my wall.  I wanted to BE Boy George when I was 10.  (I didn’t understand gender or sexuality.  I did, however understand wanting colorful hair and the ability to wear makeup.)  So I would clip Pixie Tails into my hair and sing this song into my mirror.

When Doves Cry – Prince

It’s likely the grinding guitar line in this song that makes it on my pantheon list of all time favorites.  Don’t ask why 10 year-old me loved the story in it, I obviously didn’t get the gist of the story.  But yes, here it is, the reason why being given a radio at 10 years old would change my life.

I Want Your Sex – George Michael 

I’m not sure who I loved more when I was 10 years old: George Michael or Jonathan from NKOTB.  Have I mentioned I’ve never had much of an ability to sense if a man would be attracted to me?  (Hey at least George I had a chance with.) So this song defines my life because mom heard it playing while I was in my room reading and almost tore the radio out of the wall.  She banned me from current day music on the radio.  Even though I tried to convince her there was a church song on the radio:

Faith – George Michael 

It didn’t work.  And I was banished to the local oldies radio station.  (Let’s not forget that the 50s, 60s, and 70s yielded us some of the most sexual innuendo and drug reference ripe music in history.)  Like:

I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James & the Shondells

There’s nothing better than still being able to hear that song by Tiffany even though you’re banned from hearing it.  You know, about a secret tryst far away from the prying eyes of society.  I’m actually thankful for my forced listening to the rock & roll music that neither of my parents seemed to have attached to in their youth.  Without this time, I would probably have had a harder time attaching to it when I had more autonomy in my music choices later in life.

Thy Word – Amy Grant

My Grandma would send me Christian singers’ tapes for holidays and let me take them home when we visited her.  For the most part they were has been or locally popular artists.  (Did you know that Aileen Quinn, the movie Annie, became a Christian chanteuse in her teen years?)  I was especially attracted to female artists who became popular when they were teenagers.  At the same time began my indoctrination into conservative Evangelical Christianity via church camp.  This was a campfire song.  I actually still love Amy Grant because she describes her blazing a path into “crossover” music with “tits to the wind like a lady on a ship.”  There’s a certain amount of mad respect in my feminist heart for a woman who bore the brunt of accusation for ruining her first marriage when her ex remarried faster than she did.  (Implying to me that Vince Gill wasn’t the only other person in that relationship.)  Amy Grant and Sandi Patty getting divorced spurred my first questions against the conservative dogma with which I was raised.  (This is also one of the piano songs I can remember how to play to this day.)

Luv is a Verb – DC Talk 

I think it’s easiest to say that a good part of middle school is best described as a “parallel lifestyle.”  Nashville started churning out Christian groups with the right message to go along with that hip music.  DC Talk, graduates of Falwell’s Liberty University, proved themselves versatile to many styles of music.  This was during their rap/hip-hop phase.  They then had a grunge phase and a singer songwriter phase.  Because in Christian music the message is more important than the medium.  This song makes me giggle, and I apparently still know all of the words.

Beyond Belief – Petra

There were several hair bands in the Christian realm.  Petra was one of them.  I’m including them here because between Dc Talk and Petra, that’s 2/3 of my very first concert ever at Red Rocks.   (PS I was sad that they were only playing their praise and worship music and not any of their earlier actual rock.) There was good metal in the Christian musicverse, but I didn’t really find it or like it until later.  (Ooooh feel the foreshadowing!)

If I Ever Fall in Love – Shai 

I started having crushes on boys when I was in 4th grade.  By and large everything remained unrequited until I turned 19.  There are so many countless songs about someone not knowing you’re in love with them, or are about someone falling in love with their friend, and et cetera and so on.  This is one particular one that I would hum pretty often under my breath during the dramatic 6th-8th grade years.  And thus we march on into High School.

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

My life faced a significant shift in perspective and knowledge that started in late 8th grade and continues until now.  My family relocated to Durango, Co.  One of the important things to note about this geographic movement is that I now had more neighbors than just 1 close to my age.  And of my two closest girlfriends in high school, neither was very religious like my other friends were.   Both of them were/are Metallica fans.  I include this song because it’s the only love song that the boys sing, and also because my move to Durango signifies an opening of my mind that wouldn’t have happened had we stayed put in Longmont.

Black – Pearl Jam

One of the best things about discovering the Ten album is that I discovered this song.  It is the best song to split a list in  half.  I’m hoping this is halfway.  It’s one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs.  It should be known that one of the best uses for the perfect mix tape is for driving music.  And being 16 was a blast. (Except when you include Jackyll.  Please notice they are not included. Yes that’s an inside joke only understood by one person.  No I don’t care if that’s not you.)

I’m Going Slightly Mad – Queen

I was a theatre kid.  Theatre significantly split my mind wide open to new ideas and to very good people.  In high school, our theatre friends who were GLBT were very firmly closeted.  Most came out the year after they graduated. I still believed at this time that being gay was a sin and possibly a psychological condition.  I’m not proud of this strange view I had of people who I love very dearly, but it was there and took about 2 years into college to see scientific and relational evidence that what I had been taught was not true.

Farenheit – Five Iron Frenzy

Ska was a thing in the mid 90s.  The guys and girl in Five Iron are very dear to me. Though this isn’t my favorite song of theirs (see prior blogs), it definitely symbolizes my steps in the direction of true acceptance of all of my friends.  University in general was about teaching me how to be real and authentic in my relationships with people and also with my deity.

Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns – Mother Love Bone

At 19 years-old, I discovered grunge music more fully.  I also had my first honest to goodness real boyfriend.  And first kiss.  I’m pretty sure I was Chloe heading into that relationship and the narrator in the song walking away when it got scary.  It’s the kind that moves on, it’s the kind that leaves me alone. This song comes pretty close to best favorite song ever.

Flying Dutchman – Tori Amos

Directly after the above events, I met a very cool friend online.  We communicated with one another through mix tapes and he introduced me to Tori (which lead to me finding Neil Gaiman among other things) and to the Young Ones.  Among other things.  He’s still dear to me and I owe a lot of wonderful things to the Great Hoodoo.  I know this is probably blasphemy for him to think I’d say this, but if he left the Milky Way would indeed be dressed in black.

Stein’s Theme – Project 86

I promised metal earlier but none of it fit or made sense to where this thing seems to be leading.  I’ve just realized a lot of the music in this list has been brought to me through friendships with new and different people.  Project is no different.  Of course now in retrospect listening to one of my favorite songs by this band, I can see how it needed to fit very specifically into a life where I needed to scream (this band) and growl (other bands not listed here) and yell because it was the only way I was allowing myself to feel anything at the time.

Faded Away – Fatal Blast Whip

And be slightly creeped out by my music.  It should be noted that I wanted to list the song Mirror by lVl, but he unfortunately only exists on Spotify as a remixed ghost of himself.  So I guess I’ll just tap the bridge of my hip dark rimmed glasses and say you probably haven’t heard of him.  Fatal Blast Whip falls into the category of plonky electronic music that I really adore and that I will do just about any kind of work to.  If you read any of my blogs, they’re usually created with something crunchy like this.

All My Favorite People – Over the Rhine

In the same space of time that I needed to scream and growl and yell, I also needed a voice and music that would wrap me in a warm blanket and remind me that we’ll figure things out and make them alright.  There is not another band or songwriter out there writing exactly how I experience life other than this one. Linford and Karen regularly script exactly the things I was thinking.  And if I ever could take lessons to make my singing voice sound like someone’s it would be hers.

In a Sweater Poorly Knit – mewithoutyou

In the hot midwestern summer I once drove a car halfway across the country with one of my now dearest friends.  And we thought philosophically how modern and wonderful we were to listen to Aaron and his band.  She is now one of my closest and dearest friends and mewithoutyou will always be a band that I catch live as often as I can.

Secret of the Easy Yoke – Pedro the Lion

This song, though it belongs timelinewise up with Project 86, belongs here.  If I ever wrote a Dear John letter to organized in a building church, this would be it.  There was a moment when I realized I just didn’t want to go anymore.  And I’m still not sure what that means.

When I’m Small – Phantogram

This is the newest song on my list.  There are several bands introduced to me by various exes.  Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing left after a relationship is that you got the appreciation of a new band out of it.

High Low Middle – My Brightest Diamond

There was a time in my life when I had everything I ever wanted and had less than I’d ever had.  It was truly the best of times and the worst of times and this song embodies that.  (And also features one of my fave musical-type performers in the music video.)

Seasons – Chris Cornell

Likely I framed this little autobiography in this soundtrack because of recent events.  So be it.  But if there ever was a voice that moved me in crazy primal ways it was his.  And if there ever were lyrics describing a more perfect person for me than this:

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away

Then I’ve not heard them.  So there you have it.  Me.  In 25 songs that have been important to me in one way or another in the past 39 or so years.

Author’s Note: Man, am I glad I didn’t make this a Facebook post.  Copy/paste that meme.  Haha.  

Author’s additional script: It really is fascinating to me that these songs really do represent different people being introduced into, and thus changing my life.  I’m sure there’s an entire book in the idea that I’ve not actually grown on my own whatsoever.  

 

 

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Divide

30 Jan

There are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. But young folks can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation.                                                Wynton Marsalis

Do a quick search of “Criticism of the Women’s March” real fast.  Just do that favor from me.  I will wait here until you’re back.  Okay, good to have you back now.  Did you notice anything about the criticisms of the women’s marches that happened all over the world one week ago?  If you answered that most of them are penned by women themselves you are definitely starting out with your finger on something that has probably been the largest barricade for women in the fight for equal rights: other women.

We’ve got women of color talking (rightly so) about the many ways that this protest has been treated in the media differently than recent peaceful Black Rights Matter marches. We’ve trans women talking (rightly so) about how feminism is not owned by body parts and the underlying “womanhood is for those of us with biological vaginas only” message that the knitted pink hats seemed to say to them. And it seems we’ve come full circle in the critical mass. Because now we have white cis-women being critical of other white cis-women for participating in a march which was apparently not “intersectional” enough for these white cis-women.  

It is to these women that I heartily give a great big shut the ever loving up.  Because you are the one of these things is not like the other.  You’ve managed to take a term used to describe the acknowledgement of the latent racism in feminism and turn it into some kind of righteousness that is only held by a small (white) few of you.  No longer can our feminism be about the business of granting women equal status and rights under the law, (with a hearty acknowledgement that that equality comes at more effort for some feminists than others) it must now raise to some standard that you, a white cis-woman, have determined it must be.  No longer is any effort toward feminism a good starting place or jumping off point.  No, now you must feel extra special and decry millions of women for not being as smart as you with your college word.

If we truly mean to be a group of women who show up in both word and deed, then why must I meet some sort of definition of a word before my deeds can mean anything to you?

I was told recently that my feminism was not intersectional enough for the two of us to be engaged in any “sort of productive conversation.”  A quick moment for my own self righteousness yielded that this person’s friends list was even less diverse than my meager attempt at diversity in mine.  And when I came to my senses, I realized, “Why does this even matter?”  It matters because we are human and we always want to be the more special one in the group.  It is not enough that we showed up with millions of other people united behind a singular cause.  No, that singular cause apparently wasn’t good enough and we must quickly establish ourselves as the ruling class of feminism.  We’ve had a ruling class of feminism from the beginning.  It has been white, predominantly middle class, and has certainly stepped on the equality rights of others in order to achieve its prize.  And why shouldn’t there be more of that in this day and age?  We always need and have always needed the best feminists to tell the rest of us what our feminism should really mean.

Feminism is this crazy idea that women should be viewed and treated as equals here on the playing field.  And that means treating other women as equals as well.  Not just women of color, or of different genders and sex parts, but also women that somehow fall short of the feminist ideal that you’ve painted for yourself in your head.  It is this type of divisiveness that does no good.  It is this divisiveness that was preyed upon in the 70s and used by opponents to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.  And we must do something differently if we are to do something more than just show up for the “white people march.”

We must encourage other women to not just say something about what they believe in, but to show up in spirit and body for these causes that we all believe in.  That is not done by demeaning someone and saying that their feminism isn’t good enough for your feminism.  It’s done by saying, “Hey, thanks for showing up.  Here are other ways to show up.”  Let’s quit devouring one another and actually figure out how best to move on down the road together.  Because surely our numbers are there, even if our ideologies don’t match.

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Photo taken at Civic Center Park, Denver, CO

Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

29 Jan

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  This next song comes originally from my high school years, but came to exert a lot more influence in my life in college and beyond.  

This song started as a running joke between myself and one of my closest friends in high school about water skiing.  It became an anthem for getting out of bed in the two early winter mornings of bus catching.  To say I attended high school in a town with a strong cannabis heritage is probably the nice way to put that I had a lot of classmates who fashioned themselves rastafarian inasmuch as it allowed them to not bathe and to smoke a lot of the good ganja.  Mon.

It was also the era of In Living Color, and the Jamaican family with many jobs.  We watched that show and laughed.  Mon.

And then I started studying Africana Studies in college.  And began to learn about reggae as resistance.  Its storied roots and successes in several colonial uprisings in Africa and the West Indies.  Let us not forget that it wasn’t just John and Yoko preaching about One Love, Bob was doing it too.  And let us not ever forget that religion, particularly Christianity, was one preached to peoples of color, brought here to this hemisphere to be enslaved by their white, Christian owners.  And now we see the light and won’t give up the fight.

Yesterday the United States issued its strongest anti-refugee and anti-Muslim message that it has ever done.  I know the history of my country.  I will stand on the correct side of history.  And it will not be the side that allows fear and anti-religious sentiment take control of how we behave.  Nor will I allow all that glitters to be seen as gold.  More a shade of orange that’s quite unbecoming.

Tonight I go to see the Wailers perform in my new home town.  With as much joking as I make about what is bound to accompany such a show, I also hope it reminds us that we do have the choice, daily, to make our lives heaven or hell right here in this lifetime.  Don’t let them control you.  See the light.  And stand up for your rights.

Whiner

27 Jan

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A friend recently shared this meme on his Facebook page.  By recently, I mean on January 14, 2017.  182 days after Bernie Sanders conceded his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States of America.

This is not a blog about Bernie or Bust.  Nor is this a blog about whether or not the DNC rigged their 2016 primary election for the presidency.  Nor is it a blog really addressing whether or not this alleged rigging is what lost the DNC the presidency.

This is a blog about your feelings.  Because you are essentially still not doing anything to improve or change the way we do things by posting this.  You are simply wallowing.  And then justifying that wallowing by saying, “Look at who got elected!  I’ve got a right to my feelings and I’m going to feel them.”

This is not a blog about your feelings.  Yes, you have every right to your feelings.  Just understand that your feelings are like tears in a bucket.  (Google that phrase for the ending, you won’t believe your eyes!)

This is a blog about how political change cannot be about feelings.  And if you allow your feelings to encumber you in such a way that 182 days after your feelings got hurt you are still slinging memes out into your echo chamber, you might actually be making things worse, not better.

Imagine how your feelings would feel if you were set upon by police dogs.  If your fellow Bernie supporters were lynched.  If you and your fellow supporters were sprayed by fire hoses.  If you were imprisoned without any proper heating or food for many days.  How are your feelings doing when the police show up to a peaceful protest in riot gear or tear gas bomb a crowd because it might get out of control?  This is a blog about how political change has nothing to do with how its proponents feel.  In fact, one could say it’s more about how those feel that are against that change that needs to be made.

Senator Sanders is betwixt his second term in the United States Senate, and with his previous 16 years of service in the House of Representatives makes him the longest serving Independent member of Congress.(Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/about)

There is something you need to understand about Bernie’s political career.  It wasn’t something that just started happening on May 26, 2015.  It signified a whole career spent working toward the exact goals and beliefs he espoused on his platform for the presidency.  Nor did his concession speech mean that the movement dies.  If one does share Sanders’ goals for how we are citizens in the United States, then really, that was the beginning.  Just as he laid out on his website.  There are ways to build this movement, to see it be fostered and grown at the local level.  Because change does not come from the top down, but when those of us at the bottom punch up.

There are numerous places you can go to start getting something done.  Pick a thing and do it.  Go march.  Go protest.  Go call your representatives and senators and tell them that they should be representing you, not private interests.  Go read more about those you want to be a voice for.  But do not say that you cannot.  Because you cannot means you’ll just sit at home and post your little memes into the echo chamber.

When Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” he never meant that change was staying home and crying about how the world won’t change.

When Malcolm X talked about “any possible means,” he did not mean his Facebook page.

However, if I may, perhaps you did heed the words of Frederick Douglass when he said, “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. ”

Because take heed – Social media is silence.  And silence is acceptance.

If you want to be heard loud, please consider some of these websites resources.  Pick a thing and fight for it.  Fight for it outside of the internet.  Because as of right now the world takes place in the real world, not online.

If you are a member of the DNC, it is your voice, and your fight to change how they do business if you don’t like it.  There are also resources for protest and learning more about the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders has launched an organization called Our Revolution.  This website shows you how to organize, run for government positions, and just in general network to become part of the change.

Believe that Black Lives Matter but you’re not sure exactly how that came about?  Here is the Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves:

The Indivisible Guide has practical things to do for just about every issue.

Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice gives you a practical way to help daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.  Great resource for someone who wants to learn how to start small and build from there.

 

 

Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

20 Jan

 

Author’s Note: I had something more militant to post today, Inauguration Day.  I felt awful posting something that challenges many who have much bigger things to face today.  

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  This next song comes from the College Years. 

It was fall of 1996.  A band came and played in my college town as a fundraiser for one of their bandmates’ relatives.  They identified themselves as a group of Christians who came together to create awesome music with a message in line with their beliefs.  They lived in Denver, Co, and were involved in the community there.  They started as a straight up ska band, (check your music history, the ska resurgence of the mid 90s was right up my alley) and then morphed into a rock band with a horn section.  They were (and continue to be, on occasion) Five Iron Frenzy.  Soon I was going to all of their shows.  A few of those shows, I crammed myself into the back seat of my friend’s Geo Metro to fly down the highway to places like the Ogden, the Gothic, and the Fillmore.  The above video is from their last show as a regularly gigging band back in 2003.  I’ve actually not caught them live since then performing as Five Iron.

I am an entirely different person than that 19 year old spending all of her not very much college kid money on shows.  She and I viewed the world through entirely different lenses.  She was still concerned that she should be listening to music with a good message, while now I listen to music because I enjoy music.

The reaction that I have emotionally and intellectually to this song is the same as the first time I listened to it. 

It connects viscerally to a 13 year-old girl who challenged God to prove He was there and heard the words, “It will all be okay,” in a voice not her own.  It connects to a young woman who wasn’t very sure of herself but knew that she had come to college for a reason that would make itself clear.  It connects to a young woman out of school and in her 20s who finds her atheist friend wanting to put his hands up and be up front for this song because, “I dunno, it’s just a good song okay.”  To that 25 year-old who had just lost her dad.  And now to the 39 year-old who stares down the world and her view of it with more uncertainty than even those early days of college.

The story that Reese, the lead singer of the band, tells about this song is that it was a gift to them.  They were rushing to meet a deadline, sat down, and it basically wrote itself.  Of course that’s an apocryphal story, but I heard him tell it a million times.  He would link the “conflict bridge” to the writings of CS Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov, and other science fiction greats.  And I never thought the battle was against robots.

I don’t know anything else really to say except that I hope that reading the lyrics and listening to this song would also reach you today.  It will all be okay.  It might be a bumpy ride to get to okay, but it will.  It’s really the only certainty I’ve left and that I afford myself.

Every New Day 

(Lyrics by Reese Roper, music by Scott Kerr and Dennis Culp)

When I was young, the smallest trick of light,
Could catch my eye,
Then life was new and every new day,
I thought that I could fly.
I believed in what I hoped for,
And I hoped for things unseen,
I had wings and dreams could soar,
I just don’t feel like flying anymore.
When the stars threw down their spears,
Watered Heaven with their tears,
Before words were spoken,
Before eternity.
Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.
When I was small, the furthest I could reach,
Was not so high,
Then I thought the world was so much smaller,
Feeling that I could fly.
Through distant deeps and skies,
Behind infinity,
Below the face of Heaven,
He stoops to create me.
Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

*Live Version*

You are not alone,
You are not alone,
You are not alone,
You were never alone.  *end live version*
Man versus himself.
Man versus machine.
Man versus the world.
Mankind versus me.
The struggles go on,
The wisdom I lack,
The burdens keep pilling
Up on my back.
So hard to breathe,
To take the next step.
The mountain is high,
I wait in the depths.
Yearning for grace,
And hoping for peace.
Dear God…
Increase.
Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again.
Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts
forever.
Freedom means love without condition, without a beginning or an end.
Here’s my heart, let it be forever Your’s,
Only You can make every new day seem so new.

Skip a Latte Wednesday

18 Jan

We’re coming back to my series that I did a whole ONE of so many years ago!  It really is exciting to give you information on organizations that could use your $5.00 more than the coffee shop on your Wednesday morning.  planned-parenthood

This week is an organization that provided most of my health care while I was not covered by insurance.  That organization is Planned Parenthood.  They helped me find discounted lady’s wellness visits, cure my strep throat, educated me on new forms of birth control that existed since I’d initially learned about it in high school, and just generally helped me to remember the maxim that you should never, ever Google your symptoms when most appointments with their nurse practitioners can be acquired on the same day.

I am a woman who has never found herself in reproductive crisis.  I am a woman who has found herself in financial situations where I’m certain I would’ve let continue longer than they did had I not had a place where I could go that asked me, “what can you afford to pay for your visit today?”

Planned Parenthood is an important, established people’s health clinic.  Giving money via their website here will ensure it gets distributed nationwide.  To give to your local branch, simply go into the office and ask them if you can make a donation.  Minimum one time or monthly gift is $5.00.  Consider doing so and skipping that overpriced coffee today!

Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

16 Jan

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  The first one does actually come from high school.  

Mother Love Bone – Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorn– 1990 (1994)

Please note there are two dates listed for the songs I will share with you.  The first date will be when the song (or version if it’s a cover) was released.  The second date, in parenthesis, will be as close as I can get to the date that I first heard that song.

This song is the song that I always share as a one favorite song.  Sure I have many favorite songs, but this is the song that has gotten the most traction under my skin and into my psyche.  It’s a breakup song but more than that song.  It’s the voice of a guy who lived pretty roughly and who wasn’t around for a long time because his life was pretty rough.  It’s the end of one band, but the beginnings of another.  It’s also on one of my most favorite movie soundtracks, Singles, and happens to be one of the few songs I have purchased on cassette tape, CD, and online.

How did it take so long to get to me?  I lived in a town in the mountains during my late middle school and high school years.  This was before the Internet told us what to listen to, but MTV was doing that a good bit to my friends whose parents had that cable package.  That year, 1994, was the year that Kurt Cobain offed himself, and a guy on the yearbook committee swapped a photo of Cobain for his photo in the school yearbook.  (And got into a heap of trouble for it.  By the way, Cobain was still alive when the deadline for school pictures happened.)

I, fortunately, happened to focus my attention on said person for one of my many unrequited crushes in high school.  So of course the best way to get someone to hopefully requite that love, you learn about the things they like and see if you enjoy them too.  Thus brings Seattle and its new style of music into my life.  I rediscovered Say Anything and it’s soundtrack framed around a famous Seattle DJ’s radio show.  And I discovered the movie Singles (same director), which had cute boys with long hair in it.  That movie has since become my  best way of describing to people who Generation X is and how we love one another and see things.

But the song.  “This is my kind of love, the kind that moves on, the kind that leaves me alone…”  seemed the perfect description to me of my string of unrequited crushes, and how I simply just had to move on because they dated someone else, or it became painfully obvious in some other way that my first kiss was not coming from them.  Ah, my melodramatic youth.

But then it was, “But I’m proud to say, and I won’t forget the times spent laying by her side,” as I found that first kiss, and was a couple years younger, and it was harder to make me laugh or smile then.  I didn’t know who I was, but I did know this was certainly nice. My first car was named Chloe a few years later.  There’s not any coincidence in that.

Then we march into adulthood, my life as “Mr Faded Glory,” or at least dating him.  Learning about riding high horses and falling from them.  Being tied to the ceiling more times than I would like to remember, but not that many times that I don’t still view myself as a bit “lessons never learned” anyway.

And really that’s where we find me with this song, with suddenly the words “and if you make it death well then rest your soul away,” taking on newer meaning as friends, family, and people I know continue to shuffle off this mortal coil.

It will always be one of the first songs I play when there’s change in the air.  One of the first I play when Colorado indulges me with some Seattle weather.  One of the first when I begin the task of removing physical evidence of someone who is no longer in my life.  It is.  Solely.  My favorite song.

Bereavement

15 Jan

“How did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Start the fire?”

There is a scene in the recently released Series of Unfortunate Events that played on me like a swift blow to the stomach.  The Baudelaire asoue_101_unit_7996_r_cropchildren, recently orphaned, are taken to Mr. Poe’s (their parent’s banker) house and meet his family.  This family gives the banker 2 sons that the Baudelaires share a bedroom with overnight.  As the young orphans try to share a single bed between the three of them, one of the Poe offspring (I’m uncertain if it’s Albert or Edgar) asks, “How did you do it?” The Baudelaires sit up, “Do what?”  “Start the fire?”

Of course, in true Snicket fashion, there is just a tight shot on their faces, and that’s the scene.  Really the Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of how people don’t really know how to deal with others who are grieving.  And so they act in what they feel is a good or kind way, which ends up with some pretty dismaying consequences every time it happens.

Beyond this just being a misstep by preadolescent boys who are obsessed with fire, I think this also touches on our need to try and place blame on the cataclysmic event that our friends now face.  Somehow if we can press blame somewhere onto a cause, wouldn’t that then make all involved feel better?  Most of us who grieve aren’t asked if we started the fire that killed our parents, but here are some laying of blame phrases I’ve heard while actually grieving that people seem to think were appropriate to say to me or around me so that I could overhear them:

“Well, you know he was a bigger man, so a heart attack was likely.”  (Overheard)

“It must be so hard for you to watch someone not care for themself properly.”  (Said to my mother.  At the funeral.)

“Well, I’m sure you had an inkling because of how he lived.”  (Said to me.  At the funeral.)

“It’s to be expected, really.”  (Overheard no less than 4 times by myself.  At the funeral.)

A quick moment of truthiness here – my father, who passed away when I was 25, did not die of a heart attack.  He actually died of a burst aortic aneurysm.  So as people performed chest compressions on his already strong heart, (which was still beating, by the way, not sure how these folks thought performing CPR was a good idea) his strong heart pumped all of his blood into his body.  And thus he died.  His autopsy actually showed him to be in strong, hearty health, and it was his proximity from the hospital that signed his death warrant.  (Unlike Ron Jeremy, who suffered from the same situation and was able to have a life saving surgery performed. This, of course, illustrates a Universe who deems one sticks around and one dies in a seemingly strange fashion.)

But I’m not so sure that the truth or facts in this case would really assist in what is obviously a very mislead attempt to make myself and my grieving family feel better.  Framing my father’s death in a way that it made it his fault, and ours for not talking sense into him about his diet, was certainly not a healing balm for our grieving souls.

Sure, you might be curious about the fire, but should you really ask Violet, Klaus, and Sunny if they instrumented the fire that killed their parents? Or is this really where that term “morbid curiosity” found its foothold in our society?  Are we simply so curious about morbidity (A human condition really) that it matters more that our curiosity be satiated than those left behind to grieve be comforted?

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“It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus and Sunny felt in the time that followed.  If you have ever lost somebody very important to you, then you already know how it feels; if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine.”

 

Isn’t it interesting, that sometimes when we are looking for the right thing to say to a grieving friend, the exact opposite happens?  We very literally say the worst possible thing that anybody could say to them.  Then we excuse ourselves saying, “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say.”  (Then, weirdly, we look away and to the right.)  Take a look at that sentence for a moment.  Here, I’ll put by itself to help:

I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say.

Please notice that when you say this phrase, it is not at all intended for the listener.  It is intended for yourself, to make you feel better for whatever it was you were led to say.  I think this is why we look away and to the right after saying it.  In hopes that we’ve said enough words to now avoid that this horrible thing is not at all happening right now.

Is it really so important that how you feel about someone passing that you feel the need to explain your lack of disregard for those who are directly affected by it?

Here are a few suggestions I have, based upon the people who “did it right” with their grieving friend or acquaintance:

  • Share a short story about why that person is special to you.  If  you are friends enough with the person to know that a humorous story that they might not have known will go over well, share it.  It’s okay to make your friends laugh when they are grieving.
  • If you are curious about how that person died, see if it is shared in the obituary or hinted toward in the “in lieu of flowers please donate to” portion of the obituary.  There is ABSOLUTELY ZERO NEED for you to bring this up to the bereaved.  Is it really so important for you to point out if a death is more tragic if it is self inflicted, or sudden, or from a long disease, or from a tragic accident?  No.  None of that matters.  If they offer details, that is appropriate, but otherwise keep your big damned mouth shut.
  • Actually, keep your big damned mouth shut really works best.  So you don’t know what to say because you know nothing you say will make it better?  Then don’t say anything.  I know for some of us who are good with words it’s super hard to sit in that moment and be quiet; but if my experience is universal, and I expect it might be, your silence will be long remembered.  (This year it will have been 14 years, and I still love my silent friends the most dearly.)
  • Be willing to be that person who just brings a semblance of normalcy to your grieving friend’s life.  Sometimes we want to take a shower, get dressed up, go to a concert and not even talk about what’s happening.  To remember that we are those who live on and that is the best memory of the person we lost.  Be that friend, the one who can go out for a drink and not talk about how it’s so sad what you’re going through.  (Which is, again, selfish, because you’re curious about that that feels like and you want to know.  This is not asked in the guise of any sort of healing for your friend.)
  • If you are, in fact, an acquaintance to the deceased, acknowledge that to the bereaved.  And do not feel like you are allowed somehow to claim this tragedy as your own sad story to tell. (That includes on social media, by the way.  Imagine if you had to hear YOUR parent died via a tagged Facebook post that just pops into your feed?  Again, this is not about you.  It just isn’t.)  Here are some good words.  “I didn’t know him well, but the short time I did makes me realize that your loss is very great, and I am sorry for that.”

I am a firm believer that it is how we continue on living that brings us healing and peace.  It is also a testimony to the memories of our loved ones how we live today.  But the point is they lived, and created amazing people around them who are incredibly clever, smart, or just good at biting like little Sunny.

 

 

No Matter

14 Dec

No matter.  Today. Right now.  And for a long while.  There has been war .  It is not your fault,  but it is someone’s. And yesterday people posted to the Internet their very.  Last .  Post. 

Right now?  In Aleppo? The place in the world where we made jokes . JOKES.  WE LAUGHED.  About a United Statesian Presidential candidate not knowing. 

There is.  There was.  There is.  A fight for Aleppo .  It is not humorous.  It is happening .  It is.  

Kyrie eleison. How have we been so self affixiated, to not see you.  The refugee.  In a war torn world . 

Peace and Noel

12 Dec

I put up my tree tonight.  There are two words in silver that I hang on it every year (mostly) first.  They are “peace,” and “noel.”  And may your Noel find some peace.