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I’ve Carried the World on my Back with no More to Obtain

For the last 3 years, my New Year’s resolution has been to buy a new bracelet that holds meaning. The past 5 years have been, hands down, the hardest years of my life. 20+ pounds have been lost, gained, lost again, and well, gained. It’s been fun. Or painful. These amulets have held so much of me, when I haven’t had the strength to say them aloud.

First came Fearless, when I had to look behind me every step of the year, making sure things weren’t being recorded, no joke, or pulled out of context. I became scared of my shadow. Next came the lotus, which in Buddhist symbolism, represents what floats to the top after negative energy sinks to the bottom. I became worried I’d, too, sink to the bottom. This was followed this year by a new bracelet with Alis Volat Propiis, “She who has wings must fly”. As a woman, this year, I found my voice. No matter how much a chauvinist male at school might mansplain things to me that I already knew, I could fly. I became strong, fearless, and refusing to sink to that bottom, rising up like a lotus. This Christmas was an infinity symbol from my goddaugher. Symbolism isn’t lost on this old fool. She thinks of me as a unicorn, or maybe as a female figure in her life, I hope she does. The final is from my 40th birthday celebration this summer with my 11 girls. I bought them all a bracelet stamped “Badass”.

This last bracelet was cheap, and fell off my arm most of this summer and fall. I’d find it a few days later, feeling like I’d gained some badassery along the way. I had the green patina war stains up my forearm from its poorly crafted copper casing as proof.

But after Thanksgiving, I lost one that was stalwart–Fearless. The original amulet that held my fears, hopes, all, from those 5 years. I figured it fell off, wrangling my huge purse in and out of my car, or sadly, slipped silently from my arm .

I moved on, and realized it had its own path. The past 2 months have been far from easy, but a cakewalk compared to the rest. I regained my department head position. I made tough work and life decisions. I lost people I cared for. All during this tiny window. And I remained fearless, floating on the surface like a badass unicorn with wings. I hope I’ve remained this way perhaps.

I tell my students that they don’t need their notes on a test–they’re a distraction, a deterrent. They should trust what they know. When they take this advice, they’re sometimes more successful than when books and notes are used–they over analyze and second guess themselves. They know all the information without a crutch.

I was looking for a pair of earrings this morning, in an organized spot on my vanity, And low and behold, Fearless was waiting patiently in a little dish, where I had purposely placed it. I hadn’t lost it–it was there all along, Had it been my crutch?

I put it on for work, secretly feeling it’s energy. But I’ve realized, these bracelets are not amulets. They’re baubles that make me feel good. Their power lives inside me. They repeat what I already know.

What should have happened last May, when I let go of the rope, happened in the past few weeks. I’m a unicorn badass, rising to the surface through the muck in my wings. And you can bet your ass I’m more fearless than ever. Thank you, she who shall not be named. You convinced me you stripped it all away, but it was always there. And it will always be. In a little dish, waiting for me to see.

——

You and I –Wilco

Calvary– Mandolin Orange

L.A. Freeway–Jerry Jeff Walker

I’ll Be Missing You–Diddy

River–Leon Bridges

Where the Streets Have No Name–U2

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Haven’t Had a Dream in a Long Time

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I just realized that I began this blog on Friday the 13th, in April of 2012. More than 5 years ago. In the past 10 months, I, my friends, have discovered Spotify. So no longer is my iTunes the place where I search my music. Because iTunes is out of date. How I will reconcile this on my blog, 6 Songs a Day, I am not sure. But it’s here, and I am embracing it. Plus, I don’t think I have purchased a new song on iTunes in about 3 years. Spoify is my new Oyster, Here we go, 6 Songs a Day. It’s a new year.

So is this school year. We are more than a full week in, and my last post painted things a bit desperate. It didn’t come even remotely close to reality. We FINALLY, after a lot of work on our part, received a new principal. And in the “transition”, I lost my department position, was forced to move rooms at he last minute, and my schedule for this new year was jacked. But, honestly, I wouldn’t change it. I am overwhelmed by my true happiness. And at work, I have not been able to say this for 4 years. So here’s to great starts and new school years!

News on me–I celebrated turning 40 multiple times, despite D-Day being mid-September. But I spent a weekend in Colorado on a dude ranch with my sorority sisters, for all of our 40ths, and while I might have not been in my pique condition, I got there. Followed by the most amazing 12 days in France with my amazing mom. Trip. Of. A. Lifetime. My summer ended with a week camping trip with family, a big reunion, a few goodbyes from SF, and a lot of time soaking up sun, being able to read whatever I want, and not giving a damn about my job. For once in what–24 years of having a job? It was worth it. I did. Nothing.

What I learned: That my mom and I have the relationship I always hoped for. I just needed to let her in. That 5 nephews, 1 niece, 1 god-daughter, and 1 niece-once-removed are hilarious, and that I still, despite objections, will always be the biggest badass of an Auntie Mo on the planet. That my colleagues were successful in what we wanted, asked for it. and gracefully moved forward. That Willie Nelson still is a God. That pink wine is crucial in summer. That weight gain sucks, but exercise, even if it doesn’t cause immediate results, feels good. That time to write a novel is, in fact, available. That shit, my life is Badass.

When I went to Colorado, I brought the gift of copper bracelets stamped with the word Badass. I forgot this year what being a Badass felt like. And it took all the days of my summer to find this feeling, to bring this mantra back again.

Sorry friends. I am back. I have less than a month to said D-Day, and I intend to embrace it. My kids, who are not strangers to me as a resource teacher, pretended they didn’t miss me, but each told me how happy they are to work with me again this year, their final year. Yes, many came back taller than me, and I, at 5’9, am no slouch. But I am grateful that they like my new room, think 8th grade is awesome, and still stomach me 🙂 God, kids are great. If they only knew what we went to fight for them…But they never will. That’s not my way.

As a September baby, the first day of school typically was after Labor Day, a week before my birthday, and I usually received a new set of clothes, backpack and lunchbox. These were replicated by me for the first 16 years of my teaching career. This year, I shifted. I didn’t buy much of anything, with the exception of 2 new pairs of pants. I think this was for 2 reasons: I am so grateful for the changes in my new administration, that because it is all so fresh and new, why replace the trivial things? Also, shit. I am so broke from France, what’s a girl to do? French orange leather loafers, or a new lunchbox? Shoes, please.

So away we go. New songs. New administration. New year. New playlist. New decade for me. New outlook on life, even in those dark moments when I might not be as optimistic as I hope. Dude. It’s gonna be a great year. A Badass year.


Here Comes a New Day–The Kinks

Please, Please, Me, Let Me Get What What I Want–The Smiths

Breakfast at Tiffany’s–Deep Blue Something

Josh Ritter–Showboat

You and I–Wilco

Allison–Elvis Costello

 

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And a Struggle Never Wins

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I woke up early this morning thinking about Tug of War. Yes, the game with two teams of people, sometimes person against person, where the objective is to pull the rope from a ribboned center to a team’s specific side. Then you win.

Tug of War is interesting. Perhaps you sign up for it on Field Day, or it’s the way to award a winner, like arm wrestling. Fairly barbaric and out of date, I presume. I’ve seen it in movies done on a muddy field, which with deep consideration, feels pretty dirty. No pun intended.

Now, I am one to always take on a challenge–any challenge–and meet it face on. I’m not Continue reading

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We’re Grabbing at the Fray for Something

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You may remember the John Cusack movie, “Better off Dead” from the 80s. There’s a particularly hilarious scene where the main character, Lane, suffers heartache after his girlfriend breaks up with him for someone else, and his radio mocks him. Love song after love song destroys him, and he finally rips the radio out of the car and chucks it into the street. This was Wednesday morning for me.

I woke up needing music more than anything. This year, in general, has been more difficult than easy. With a post-election hangover (and a real one thanks to too much wine), I was bleary eyed, praying that the coffee I made would be strong enough. As I entered the freeway, with more traffic than expected for a city that stayed up to the wee-hours to watch election coverage, song after song pained my heart. Like Lane, I felt as if the radio DJs were digging deep into the chasm of deep female loss. And I took it personally, as someone who voted for Hillary.

It was all too much for me. I cried most of the drive. I think the different DJs on XM Radio were making their own silent protests supporting Hillary, and asking what the hell happened. When Blondie came on, I heard her mantra of “The tide is high, but I’m holding on”.  This resonated with me, so I took it to work.

My first class, a 7th grade social studies class, was subdued. A few kids wore American pride garb, sporting stars and stripes, as well as signs that read “I Wish I was Canadian”, Continue reading

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We’re Made For Bending

David Bowie is gone. So is Prince. And Merle. So much beauty created by these three is eclipsed by so much clutter–the election, work, life. 

True to the origins of this blog, I began writing when the first song came on. I’m astounded and pleased that Merle showed up in my music feed tonight! Merle, Willie, Waylon, The Beach Boys, and the Beatles have been a constant in my life since I can remember back to my first experiences with my parents’ hi-if.

My best friend and I a few weeks ago had one of our occasional “Best Friend Days”, which is code for her husband is out of town, and we want to drink red wine and have a dance party until 3am in one of our living rooms. So no problem. Enter my house, a lot of wine, and my record player. 
My best friend and I, for the record, met 21 (sweet Jesus!) years ago as freshman year “potluck” roommates. After all those years, we live mere blocks apart, text each other daily, and talk like we haven’t seen each other for decades. We will be those old women in quasi funny birthday cards, 50 years from now, who joke about sagging boobs and skin like a Sharpei’s backside. I’d be lost without her. No joke. 

We ended up my at my house for various reasons, but I’m the only one with a record player. 

My most frequent LP in circulation is Pet Sounds, just because it’s so damn good. But we went through a bunch, including Willie & Merle’s newest, which she hadn’t heard and is brilliant. We played The Smiths, Elvis Costello, and Rod Stewart from the early 70s. And then I came across an unopened record of David Bowie’s greatest hits. How did this happen?!

It’s a double LP I bought off of Amazon this fall, and, well, my life intercepted, and I forgot about it. It’s hit after hit after hit. On bottle of wine #2 and side 3, my best friend said, “What the hell compilation is this?!” It was NOT the Columbia House special from 1993 for $29.99. 

We inspected the cover, which was of course, gorgeous. It’s called “Nothing Has Changed” and was released in 2014. There are 2 images in the liner: both are Bowie looking into a mirror. The first is early, the second, maybe late 80s? Hard to say. But the only writing inside the media of the double album is “Everything Has Changed”, coupled with the back, which is a recent picture of Bowie and his reflection. 

We were floored. 

It could have been the wine, it could have been Prince’s early death that week, and youth’s naive gaze at eternity, but we both felt like he had, back in 2014, sent the listeners a hint about how sick he was. We suddenly were superfans again.

I have to say, regardless of my eclectic taste, I know my music. My best friend and I bonded one day over Rush. Yeah. The Canadian band. 1, neither of us knew the other had Canadian roots. 2, when I walked into our room the day I knew we would be best friends forever, I busted her for vacuuming to my Rush Chronicles CD. Turns out, it was hers.

Music is a distraction. For me, it’s like Carver or Twain or Danticat–a really off-the-charts distraction. I joke that my memory is an audio Rolodex. I wish it weren’t so, but I can remember every slow dance song (and believe it or not, there were a lot), background music during tough conversations, loved ones singing unabashedly the bridge to Simon and Garfunkel, break up words, passionate words, my own words, world crises, etc.

In spite of all the clutter in my life, especially today, music conquers all. It’s Merle, Willie and Ray. It’s Bowie. It’s Rush. It levels the playing field between two acquaintances but unlikely friends from 21 years ago in the form of Rush. It energizes, it soothes. It helps ground me and remind me to write already, goddammit. 

I’ve always said that when a song comes on, someone is trying to say hi or be remembered. Funny how that rang so true tonight. Lyrics and words on a string, floating by to say that nothing and everything has changed. How lovely.

Another Saturday Night–Sam Cooke

Ain’t Talkin’ About Love–Van Halen

My Life’s Been a Pleasure–Wilkie Nelson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard

Barbecue–Robert Earl Keen

Your Embrace–Shakira

Bend Down the Branches–Tom Waits