Filed under: My Life
I was insulted by a peer at work this week. This person questioned my ability to do my job. To be honest, I didn’t even get angry. I was too stunned by the words that were coming out of his mouth. I did tell him how I felt about what he said. My response was very calm and matter of fact which surprised me. Usually my emotions get the best of me in an adversarial situation. Maybe I’ve reached a new level of maturity. No, what I really think is I remained calm because that person’s opinion means pretty much nothing to me. So why waste energy getting bent out of shape? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And I didn’t give that guy my permission. Hmmm, maybe I’m a grownup after all.
Filed under: My Life
I’m driving home late at night with ColdPlay so loud in the speakers that I couldn’t hear the siren of a state trooper if he was attached to my back bumper. The lyrics are echoing around in my head…..”when the truth is I miss you….yeah, the truth is that I miss you so…..” Suddenly I’m short of breath. My stomach is in that oh, so familiar clinch. And my heart…..hurts. And the person I’m thinking of with such familiarity….with such clarity that I can feel him, smell him, taste him…..is someone I haven’t laid eyes on in twenty-five years. Does it never end? That crazy, insane first love? I’m drowning in the mess we made of our life together. I’m lost in memories, both the good and the bad, as I’m flying down the highway with the ghost of Mick sitting next to me. Where is he? I don’t know. Somewhere. With a different wife and some kids. Do I really care where he is? No, but I’m so into the here and now of what I’m feeling. Familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. I loved him, but I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t save us. I did save myself. Sometimes that’s all a person can do. That and remember.
I love teaching music. There is something so intrinsically satisfying about coaxing the perfect sound from a group of young singers. It’s magical. Otherworldly. Eternal. Made all the better when their faces light up with the recognition that they are creating something beautiful and intensely personal with each other. A precious gift for anyone who is fortunate enough to be listening. A gift for themselves that will stay with them long after their tenure in choir is over.
I have sixty-two singers in my senior high choir this semester. By far the largest high school choir I’ve ever worked with. And they are an excellent group. Not perfect, but really good kids that I enjoy working with so much. Six of them will be auditioning for membership in the Arkansas All State Choir on February 6. What a joy if all of them make it!
Filed under: My Life
My friend Tiggerlane will tell you that it is difficult to believe I was once entangled in an abusive relationship. Tigger and I first crossed paths some nine years after the demise of my first marriage which was a nightmare of violence, manipulation and emotional blackmail. Even now, twenty-four years later, the repercussions still echo through my life. I am a different woman, but the past is not something easily erased.
Three years after my divorce I was living in Salisbury, Maryland. I was no longer seeing a therapist, but was still involved in a battered spouse support group which met in a church in Ocean City.
It was a lovely evening after an intensely emotional meeting of the support group. I was feeling cleansed and very up beat as I got into my car for the drive back to Salisbury. I popped a cassette into the tape deck and pulled up to the edge of the parking lot which opened onto a one-way street. My blinker was on for the anticipated right hand turn. I checked to the left for on-coming traffic and was accelerating to ease into the street when there was a sickening thud as a young man on a bicycle bounced off the front of my car. It was a moment of absolute terror. I had hit a human being with my car.
The young man was on his feet and yelling at me by the time I opened my car door. His bicycle lay mangled and crushed on the pavement. The two other young male bicyclists who were with the man I hit were talking and gesturing wildly. Support group members were out of their cars and chattering directly behind me in the parking lot. In the midst of the cacophony, I noticed that the young man was bleeding from scrapes on his knees and one elbow. The police arrived.
I never saw the young man barreling down the side of the street on his bicycle. He was going the wrong way on a one-way street. The support group witnesses who were behind me in the parking lot told the police that the young man was on the bicycle with both arms raised in the air shouting, “Hit me! Hit me!” I didn’t hear him. After some blustering argument during which the young man threatened us all with the fact that his father was a lawyer, the young man and his companions admitted that the eyewitness accounts were accurate. The police issued a citation to the young man whose primary concern seemed to be making me pay for his ruined bicycle. One of the officers told him he could certainly file an insurance claim, but the policeman emphasized that I was not at fault in the accident.
All in all it was a harrowing experience that could have been so much worse than it actually was. I was horrified with the thought of what might have been. But on the drive back home I laughed with the pure joy of relief and a bit of amusement. Like one of my fellow abused spouse witnesses told the police, “He was moving fast against traffic on a one-way street. His hands weren’t even on the handlebars and he was yelling ‘Hit me! Hit me!’ He asked for it.”
Tonight I watched 13 Going on 30 which somehow seemed a wildly appropriate movie to view after spending most of my day on a choir trip with a busload of teenagers.
As you may or may not know, the movie features many hit songs from the 80’s one of which is Pat Benatar’s rendition of “Love Is A Battlefield.” I love the scene with Jenna Rink, the 13-year old with the 30-year old body, talking to her 13-year old neighbor. Jenna says, “Just remember love is a battlefield,” and the neighbor girl replies, “Wow! That’s deep.” Later in the movie, Jenna hosts a pajama party with a pack of 13-year olds in attendance and they sing most of Pat Benatar’s tune while jumping around on a bed. Which, in turn, reminded me of a scene from my life in the 80’s.
I was a newlywed. My husband was in the Navy stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We lived in a townhouse about three blocks from the beach. Which sounds great, but the townhouses were very cheaply constructed with the thinnest walls imaginable and no carpet on the floors to help absorb sound. Our neighbors in the adjoining townhouse were Pat Benatar fans. In fact, the man’s wife thought she really was Pat Benatar. They had a band which rehearsed in their livingroom at all hours of the day and night.
My husband was on early watch for a month requiring him to get up at 3AM and be at his post on base at 4AM. After the second night of being awakened around midnight to Mrs. Pat Benatar Wannabe singing “Love Is A Battlefield” accompanied by electric guitars and drums, my husband decided to have a talk with the neighbors. His talk did absolutely no good whatsoever. We were awakened at 1AM the following morning by the rock band in full swing next door. So my husband did what any sleep-deprived, grouchy sailor would do; he called the cops.
The situation deteriorated even more from that point. An apartment at a better location became available so my husband and I just moved. My marriage didn’t last, but my aversion to Pat Benatar’s music survived for many years.
“We are young. Heartache to heartache we stand. No promises, no demands. Love is a battlefield.” Wow! That’s deep.
Filed under: My Life
Well, the day finally arrived. Songbird is officially fifty! Mom organized a ‘family only’ party to celebrate the big event.
My nieces love to make my birthdays extra special. H., in the front, is twelve and her sister, M., in the back, is fourteen. H. told Grandma that she would make my birthday cake. H. wanted to make the cake in the shape of Jasper, but after much thought, she decided her mom didn’t have a pan or platter large enough for a Dachshund-shaped cake. So she thumbed through magazines and cook books for ideas and found a three-tiered wedding cake that she just knew would be special enough for her aunt.
H. cooked and created this cake all by herself! The bottom tier is frosted with chocolate icing because that is H.’s favorite. The middle tier is iced with vanilla frosting because that is my favorite and the top is left plain because M. prefers no icing at all. H. just had to include a tribute to Jasper!
several hours only a few moments to light all the candles.
Voila! The fabulous blazing birthday cake!
And here I am. The over the hill birthday girl!
Filed under: My Life
Yeah, the Songbird has been hearing the F-word quite a bit lately. Really kind of sad. My friends, Mom, brother, sister, even my nieces have been using the F-word. What?!!! Oh, get your minds out of the gutter….I’m not talking about that F-word. FIFTY. Yep, that’s the F-word in my life and it’s there…..just waiting around the corner. Hard to believe in just a few days the Songbird will be FIFTY.
I didn’t have problems with either thirty or forty, but fifty just seems….well, like mature. I keep thinking about my decision in 1990 to move back to Arkansas. One of the main reasons for the move was that my parents were getting older and I didn’t want to live 1200 miles away from them anymore. My parents were getting older. Yeah, right. My mom was 51 and my dad was 53. My perspective has changed a lot in the 18 years I’ve been back home. Amazing how aged 50 seemed from the viewpoint of thirty-two as compared to how it’s looking from forty-nine.
I’ve also had the thought that probably half my life is over. Heck, more than half my life could be over. I mean, who really knows? Thank goodness my positive Pollyanna nature is way stronger than my darker side. I still see my cup as half full rather than half empty most of the time. It helps that I have some pretty good celebrity companions that are also hearing the F-word this year. Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jamie Lee Curtis are all the same age as me. But, honestly, some of my friends aren’t helping one little bit as evidenced by this email I received.
Uh, thanks…..I really needed this. F-word.