Sunday, February 21, 2010

Life's Soundtrack: Part Two

As I was saying....

I do believe that our Baby Boomer generation may be the first who really have their own soundtrack.  Not that our parents didn't enjoy music, but theirs just wasn't as portable and as personal as ours.  We were the first with small transistor radios and earplugs (No, Apple didn't invent the tiny earplug, children.)

I spent the 80's raising two daughters and still listened to music as much as I could, but I was BUSY.  My daughters' soundtracks became mine in some ways.  At first we listened to my musical choices.  I was really pleased that they enjoyed listening to oldies from the 60's.  Then they got old enough to request "their" radio stations. (What?  You don't want to listen to Oldies with Mom?)  I grit my teeth and tried to like Duran Duran, Aerosmith, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice.  We all liked Richard Marx, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson, but I didn't like Duran Duran, Pearl Jam and Madonna.

As they gained more independence in the 90's, so did I.  I spent the 90's detangling myself from my marriage, and dealing with all the feelings divorce and loss brought to my life.  I dealt with my anger by listening to Sinead O'Connor and singing her bitter and angry lyrics over and over in the kitchen while cooking or cleaning.  I saw the  movie Thelma and Louise  in the spring of 1991 (four times!) and purchased the soundtrack immediately.  The soundtrack included the haunting "Ballad of Lucy Jordan" by Marianne Faithfull which had reached out and touched me in the movie.  Listening to it strengthened my resolve and kept me grounded.

My sister introduced me to the Indigo Girls around this time and I fell in love with their harmonies and their lyrics.  I had been an avid fan of Simon and Garfunkle and not felt or heard anything comparable since they had broken up.  The Indigo Girls sang about learning to judge yourself and not letting others judge you ("Closer to Fine"),  the pain of indecision ("Watershed"), and the healing that  hard work can bring ("Hammer and a Nail").    As I ricocheted between denial, anger, depression, acceptance, and back again,  I listened and sang Amy and Emily's lyrics and felt understood.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

10 Positive Effects of this Freakin' Cold Weather and Rain

1.  I had fun shopping for rain boots with my granddaughter.  I bought her bright yellow boots with a picture of a monkey on them.  I purchased pink ones (monkeyless) for myself.  Of course, we had to borrow scissors from the cashier to cut off the tags and strings, so we could both put on our boots (YOU TOO, GRENAH!) right there in front of God and everybody at Target.  Then, out in the freezing cold again, Kinsey spies a nice puddle and jumps in.  Yes, our feet stay dry.  Can't say that for my pants.
2.  Another cold Saturday is a good excuse to wear my Christmas snowflake earrings.  Oh, no.  I packed away all my Christmas stuff already.  Of course I did.  It's February in Florida.  Why would I keep out snowflake earrings?  duh!
3.  The local vegetation is getting watered.  Well, what's left of it.  So much has been killed off by the freezing cold temperatures that NE Florida is going to look like Death Valley this summer.
4.  Snowbirds are here and business is good.  But, even our snowbirds are getting cranky.  After all, they travel all the way here from Michigan and Ohio and Canada to get away from bad weather.   Saying a bright "Good morning!" in the library or Publix parking lot to someone with out of state plates can get you run over.
5.  Isn't it wonderful to spread joy and laughter?  That's what happened today when I asked various salespeople if they had any gloves left.  They laughed and laughed.  So glad I could brighten their day.
5.  The local wildlife which enjoys terrorizing me has not been spotted in a while - no tree frogs, no armadillos, no snakes.  No, they are all safe and warm in their burrows having lots of sex so they can have millions of babies when spring does arrive.

There are no more positive effects.  It's either cold and wet...or cold and sunny.  It sucks.
49 out of 50 states had snow yesterday.   Stupid Hawaii.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life's Soundtrack: Part One

I believe that we are the first generation (Baby Boomers) who live with a soundtrack in our heads. 

Our parents were born in the 1920's and grew up in the Depression.  They listened to radio programs, went to movies, and marveled at TVs invading their homes in the 1950's.  Music was important to their generation; they sang and danced to the jazz and big band styles that were popular.  Rosemary Clooney, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and the Dorsey Brothers defined 1940's music and provided a lot of the soundtrack to our parents' generation especially during WWII.  After the war our parents settled down, raised families, and music often took a backseat to the TV in the home. 

Most of us Boomers don't remember the days before TV.  Most of us grew up with Saturday morning double features.  I think I can say, though, that we are the generation where music became our constant.  The first of the Baby Boomers embraced the rockabilly sounds of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard.  Hank Williams brought country and western music to a national audience.  And then there was Elvis.  A lot of parents and people in authority didn't like Elvis's music and dancing, and that just made him all the more appealing to the younger generation. 

Middle Boomers thrilled to the emergence of Rock'n'Roll and the British invasion. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and other artists contributed to the restlessness of the younger population unhappy with the war in Viet Nam, corporate and government corruption, and the status quo. The Civil Rights Movement would not have been the same without its own soundtrack of We Shall Overcome, Oh Freedom, and Blowin in the Wind.

What set both Black and White Boomers apart from their parents, I believe, was the transistor radio.  We were the first to carry around a small radio with an earplug so we could listen to "our" music any time we wanted.  We could listen by ourselves or share with our friends.  We carried radios to the beach, to picnics, and family barbeques. 

In addition to my transistor radio I had a record player and later a small stereo in my bedroom, and that's where I spent all of my spare time.  I danced and sang to all my favorite artists.  I inserted their lyrics and their songs into my life as my soundtrack.  When I left home for college the most important piece of equipment I took with me was my stereo.  It didn't matter that my roommate had one, too.  We sampled each other's favorite artists (on 8-track tapes by then) and found our horizons expanding.  We went to sleep to her radio every night.

This love of music and having it around all the time has continued throughout my life, except when I was first married.  I got married in 1973 and had my first child in 1976.  I don't really remember a lot of music during those years, but when I go back and research those days, I see the popularity of The Who and the Rolling Stones, neither of which were my favorites.  The Beatles had broken up and I was not fond of John Lennon at that time.  I liked some Chicago songs and bought one of their albums, but it never was a favorite.  Disco?  Uh, no.  No wonder there was a gap.  And remember, in those ancient days before CDs, iPods, MP3s, and the Internet, there was just the radio for music.  And not a lot of choices there. 

Certain songs bring back times of my life so vividly that I can see, smell, and almost touch those days. 

The Name Game written and recorded by Shirley Ellis (1964): After school - late afternoon -playing outside and hearing that song for the first time  - wow, what was that?  Play it again!

Elton John's Crocodile Rock and Carly Simon's You're So Vain (1973): Winter quarter at Reinhardt College, first time living away from home, having a boyfriend and being in love.

Billy Joel's I Love You Just the Way You Are (1977):  Driving my baby to the babysitter's house before work, and picking her up after work, and singing that song to her at the top of my voice. 

Jimmy Buffet's Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (1977) Dancing around my living room with my baby girl.

What about you?  What songs evoke vivid memories for you?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Venturing Out....Back in the Saddle Again

I am searching for writing support and it has been a slow, gradual process. I attended a book festival back in September, then attended a meeting of the Ancient City Writers in October.  November and December screamed by with family visits and the holidays.  In January I missed the first class of a Creative Writing Class by one day. I consoled myself with the thought that it was really an "Introduction" to Creative Writing Class and I hoped I was beyond the "Introduction" part of writing.  I also determined I would not let any more opportunities pass me by!

I found a Sisters in Crime group meeting in Jacksonville the first Saturday of the month, so I made plans to attend the February meeting.  Since my granddaughter Kinsey was spending the night Friday night (her parents' wedding anniversary) I knew I would have to be razor sharp Saturday morning to get us both up, dressed, fed, and out the door in time to make my meeting more than 40 miles away.  My plan included a list of errands, a quick bite to eat, a quick trip to Publix, and then playtime at home before bedtime.  Friday evening clicked by right on schedule and Grenah and granddaughter were both in bed by 9:00pm and asleep by 9:30!

Harley helped out by jumping on the bed and waking us both up at 2:00am to be let out!  *FLB!!!!  He has never done that before!  I woke up enough to leash him up, take him out (with Kinsey holding my hand - "It's DARK, Grenah!"), bring us all back inside, and get Kinsey and myself settled back into bed.  She went back to sleep immediately.  I tossed and turned and finally dropped off after 2:30am. 

Saturday morning dawned foggy and damp and chilly.  I showered while Kinsey watched Milo and Otis in my bedroom.   We had a quick breakfast and took the *FLB (AKA Kinsey's "BEST FRIEND HAHRY") for his morning walk.  We packed up her things and I dropped her at her mom's house about 15 minutes behind schedule.  I tore up US1 to Jacksonville and only made one wrong turn before I found the SE Branch of the Jacksonville Library. 

The presentation had already begun, but the secretary Pam was gracious and signed me up as a new member and took down my information.  I found a seat - not too hard, there were only about 10 people in attendance.  The speaker was a traffic accident reconstructionist who also investigated crime scenes.  He had brought a slide presentation of an actual case and he demonstrated step by step how he started with the evidence at a crime scene and then worked backwards to see how each piece of the scene ended up where it did.  Among other things he had to determine where the shooters were standing, how they were standing (upright? crouched?), where the victim was standing, how he was standing, the path of the bullets from starting point to ending point, etc.  The main differences between real life and the CSI shows seem to be: 1. CSI's don't solve crimes in real life, and 2. what happens in less than an hour on TV can take weeks in real life.  He logged 178 hours on just this one case in Alabama.

After the talk I met a couple of the members and found out about their book club, too.  Networking, it's all about the networking.  One of their future speakers teaches a Creative Writing class - great!  I received a great boost from attending this meeting and getting "out of my comfort zone". 

I ran an errand and treated myself to lunch, then drove home on A1A with the ocean on my left, sun shining brightly through my windshield, and my windows down to catch the breeze.