I imagined you as out-of-touch with the real needs of impoverished and middle-class Americans, and I was wrong. I’m sorry. I believed you untrustworthy, and in league with those who feed your coffers – the Wall Street ilk – and how you’re indebted to them, at the 98%’s expense, and I hope I am wrong about that too.
You don’t struggle over what food you can buy, or how to pay a medical bill, or afford living, but I think you’ve witnessed enough of life’s misery to understand those challenges without experiencing them.
I believe you have compassion, and strength, and wisdom.
Watching you in the first debate with Mr. Trump, I was so impressed with your composure against his bullying, lies, and abusiveness, and I appreciate your ideas to help guide our country.
You won me over with your competence, regardless of your flaws and missteps, and I know you’ll make a stellar President.
I believe you’ll fight for justice, for all of us, as much as you can – and I understand that the Presidency is beholden to the Congress – so we need a Congress that will uphold its Constitutional duty, and work together on our many serious problems, domestic and foreign.
You’re faced with economic and social injustice and unrest, and I don’t envy you in trying to create harmony and peace in our nation, while also attending to good relations in the world, and trying to right the injustices we’ve helped create abroad.
I hope my faith in you and your leadership won’t leave me wanting.
Thank you for your lifetime of public service, and please keep defining why we should vote for your Presidency, and not focus on your opposition as a horror show we know he is.
If you think about it, we’re self-animated, or actuated, puppets. We’re going to die, and if you’ve ever seen a loved one’s dead body, you know how they are utterly gone. Their body seems like some strange putty – some facsimile of who they were, and somewhat recognizable – but definitely not ‘them’.
We are not our bodies – we control our bodies with who we really are.
You reach for an object, not even realizing that you commanded your body to act, rather than being your body – which could or would act autonomously of your desire. Outside of blood, breath, temperature, neurology & cellular replication, our body, unless compromised by disease or disorder, is controlled by our thoughts.
Hungry: eat. Tired: sleep, or fight sleep when you need to stay awake. Scared: hide, or run, or freeze. Happy: smile, dance, laugh.
There is so, so much we don’t understand, all around us. Some suggest that there’s an invisible (to most of humanity) world going on as closely as anything we can observe or know.
Why are some people psychic, or able to observe what others cannot, if they’re not charlatans?
Why am I sensitive to things my friends aren’t? I know when I’m in an occupied space, or perhaps a super occupied space. I lived in a ‘haunted’ apartment for two years, constantly questioning my sanity and perception, but when I moved to another apartment that was not haunted, I could sleep with the light off, and not be afraid to walk to the bathroom during the night.
I have experienced intense energy, or whatever it was, that others seem not to – and I am nothing special.
So what? – right? It matters because even if we don’t know where we’re going from here, it means we are not our bodies, our physical matter. That’s pretty cool. Maybe our brain is the only part of us that matters most, outside of other vital organs, but even those who think our brain is the limit – that everything begins and ends between our ears – that doesn’t account for anything outside our understanding that we experience.
I feel hopeful thinking that my existence doesn’t end here, and I’m as rightfully here as anyone else, and my continuation, while unknown, is as certain as knowing that death is only of my body, but not of my essence.
Occupying the middle part of my life is odd. I’m noticing my body changing in unfamiliar and distressing ways. I think I have arthritis (!) in my hands. I’m learning guitar, but when I curl my fingers they snap at me like I’m trying to bend them in ways they shouldn’t be bent. Idiots.
I drove through a town I lived and had friends in from ages eleven through thirteen, remembering the home of a friend whose birthday fell around Halloween so her parents had created a haunted house for several twelve-year-old girls. I wonder if she ever remembers that? What she, or her parents, couldn’t know is how abnormal that was for me. I was living in a commune/cult where everyday was somewhat surreal, and definitely un-nuclear family-ish. She and the other school girls there, along with her parents, and attending a typical family party were an oasis in the desert of my life. Sure, I grew up learning how to deal with a few hundred adults, and a gaggle of children daily, but I craved closeness and structure.
The commune/cult was diffuse and casually neglectful. Most of them weren’t malicious, but there was so much going on all the time that people naturally found their cliques – circled their wagons, so to speak – only they didn’t realize that exposed the most vulnerable to predation and harmful neglect.
I see advertisements now and don’t recognize anyone I can relate to, not that I ever really could, but at least I was in the same age bracket. The only relatable ads I see are for fiber products, or erectile dysfunction, neither of which do I care about, or apply. Well, fiber is good at any age – we all need to poop.
A sea change is needed, but what do I do? Do I leave my relationship to head out for parts unknown? And what if parts unknown end up on a heating grate in some city, trying to keep warm and guard my few belongings from being stolen – again?
Maybe things could work out, but my life has always been just managing, and never actually living. Do I have the courage? And if I have the courage, can I manage it? I have boxes of books but nothing, except my son’s childhood art and other keepsakes, keeping me from packing it all up, ditching my books at some lucky bookstore, and setting out.
I know there are soup kitchens across the nation, and I suppose my big worry is where I can safely sleep, but otherwise, what have I got to lose? I lose my boyfriend, and that would suck, but I’m failing, and don’t have other ideas to help myself.
My vague plan is heading out to California again and doing my best to get into television or films there – the acting mecca – but it’s also the land of bitter disappointment and ruin.
If I had the money, I’d pay a reputable psychic to help guide me – but if I had the money, I wouldn’t need the guidance…
Mental health is stopping the ruminating or trying to change my outsides to sooth my insides. I’ve been here before, I recognize that tree!
This cycle comes around every few months, when I get the bright idea to pick up spiritual texts thinking I’ll come off better for it. I clearly never have. I come out swinging every time – so maybe I’m a minion. Except, I wish ill on no one except the deserved. Who are the deserved? Rapists, child molesters, murderers, deceivers – those who knowingly take advantage of others.
Liars don’t bother me, unless it has to do with the above unforgivable acts. Murder isn’t nuanced here. Some people would consider killing in self-defense murder. I don’t. To me, murder is killing for pleasure.
Spiritual texts often say that good works without faith or belief in god are worthless. They’re not worthless to those they help. If an atheist helps me it’s worthless? How ridiculous is that?!
If that atheist helps me for their own gain, that’s unfortunate, but I still got help, so why should I care about their agenda – unless they try to hold that over me somehow.
I consciously chose to live several years ago. I knew I was on that precipice, and after I chose living, my life improved greatly once I started eating well, exercising daily, and doing what I could to quell my negative voices.
Unfortunately I’ve lost sight of that in the last few years, but I remembered again. Maybe I won’t always live my best, but if I can let go of a punishing god, I’ll do better again.
My atheist friends tell me the bible, and all spiritual works, are fairy tales meant to control the population, but I’ve remained agnostic because I fear retribution for not believing – so the control aspect has partially worked on me.
I just need to walk away from those damaging beliefs and live my best life.
Kindness, love, help, care, and concern are important to me, but so is holding people accountable for their actions. That’s why we have laws, judges, and juries. I’m not alone in that belief. But I also believe in mercy.
I wouldn’t be a judge because I’d worry that I’d be convinced to be merciful only to have the exonerated person commit the same crime again, or worse, as has happened many times.
We live in a harsh world. We follow base desires rather than adhering to our nobility. Spiritual works call us to our highest selves, but all too often we turn it into a game of whose version of god is best, and ironically condemn and kill each other over it.
For me, finding peace means keeping what works and dumping the rest – and then trusting that I’m not damned for that.
I’m angry at the Universe, at being here, at the way. life. is., at being human, and because I either have to kill myself, or heavily drug myself not to care, I start to take my anger out on those around me. I’m sneaky though because I’m passive aggressive, and I don’t even really know I’m in attack mode except everything starts to bother me, and acrimony is just below the surface.
I’m starting to recognize this as I start disliking my significant other, and wanting to leave, and be left alone by everyone. Only perfection would be good enough for me because my true fight is against the bully in the sky telling me how unworthy I am at every turn, and if I’d only let It micro-manage my life, then – maybe – I’ll be accepted by It and allowed into some perverse kingdom that only judgmental assholes will be going to. If I accept the son of this bully, then I get out of jail free – no matter what I’ve done or do, as long as I’m truly repentant – and, oh, btw, I have to forgive everyone no matter what they’ve done & no matter what harm their actions caused, or continue to cause.
So, yeah, I’m a little touchy today.
I just wanted to be a light in a dark world. I didn’t want to have to jump through hoops, and I never asked to be allowed in It’s shitty kingdom. Will I rend my invisible garments and gnash my non-existent teeth? Yeah, it’s a metaphor, I know, but if god doesn’t see what a shitty idea free will was, then It’s not really a god, because It would fix Its mistake, wouldn’t It? We clearly cannot rise to our noble nature, and after seeing the eons of horror – humanity’s inhumanity – and continuing to let us exist doesn’t speak of a good god, or a just god: it speaks of an impotent god. Because innocents are harmed every. day. But the convenient excuse is that It’s a mystery – as though that’s a valid answer – and that we’re born into sin, so there are no innocents. If you’re here, you’re guilty as fuck, and so whatever happens to you or your brethren is warranted and self-caused.
If I signed up for this, can I renege? Can I desert my post? Can I be destroyed – just utterly destroyed? I don’t want to exist beyond here knowing that none of it mattered, and yet it was impossible for me to detach, and it sure feels like it matters while living it.
God is no comfort to me, nor am I a comfort to god, I’m sure.
Summer’s constant buzz and song fills my house. Crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, and a myriad of other bugs and birds create a constant background hum – either that – or I have horrible tinnitus.
These muggy August nights feature crickets’ constant ‘chee, chee, chee, chee’, while tree frogs sound their ‘bdrrrrr, bdrrrrr’ calls echoing around our hill, quieting close to sunrise, continued by the crickets until long after sunrise when other insects and birds take up the daytime chorus.
The oppressive, humid air makes sleep nearly impossible, even with the fan on high, but I rarely need moisturizer this time of year!
Wisps of hair curl up near my temples and forehead, and a cool shower takes down some of the night’s heat.
A long ago Key West morning suffuses my memory. I’m stepping into a slightly chilled saltwater pool at our motel in Islamorada. The surrounding air, so much like this morning, makes me long for the palm tree setting, while nostalgia’s softening gaze helps me forget any of the stress or conflict of that trip as I feel myself cutting through the cooling water of the pool on that lovely morning.
That memory is a happy place I will call to mind as I attend to today’s stress, work and monotonous chores.
I’ve had a tough time writing lately. Maybe depression has set in – apathy leading the way. Nothing feels interesting or worth investing in. I could look happy and present, but whether or not I am, it shifts quickly.
Is living for the young? Should twenty to forty be the only important part of life? After forty the pain began. It has only increased since. Different issues, more work & time to address it – the ‘free ride’ over.
The problem is the lack of appreciation for a body that feels good & functions well. It’s inspiring when people born without limbs, or other horrific problems, live high-functioning lives. It shames me & I’m so tired of living shame.
Even the love of my life can’t breach the gap. It’s not his path, even if he loves me with all he has.
In my wildest imagination I am alone: succeeding, happy, fulfilled. I’ve never seen it with someone else – just me. Maybe that’s due to trauma – neglect & abuse – I don’t know. I decided that no one, NO ONE, will take anything else from me. I lived that life and I’m not able to continue helping someone else do well at my expense. I mean emotionally. If I had billions I could give most away without issue, but I’m tired of people who want to take my soul.
That’s where I am today. I’m sure it’ll change tomorrow. Cheers.
You are a savvy politician, and I believe you were sincere for much of your career, but I also believe you became jaded through personal and public betrayals, and I think you lost sight of regular humans once you became a political success, as First Lady, as a Senator, and Secretary of State, and now as our nominee for President of the United States – a position that had meaning before the self-aggrandizing buffoon, Donald Trump, became a nominee as well.
I supported Bernie Sanders because I feel he actually cares about middle and poor America. I know he’s insulated from the realities of life, realities which you and Bernie, and Donald, and every other politician at your level no longer understands, or never understood, that life is ridiculously tough. Money is sparse, and real decisions over life impacting choices are not something any of you face. Feed your child, or pay a health care bill. Of course you will choose feeding your child, but not paying a bill means bad credit, and bad credit means a hard time having ANYTHING.
Do you actually give a fuck about me? Do you? You don’t know me. I’m just an ant in the mounds of ants below you. You have the nicest clothes, the best food, the best doctors, private jets. You are so insulated from actual life from the majority of those you presume to represent. How are you going to lead so that the monied elite – such as yourself – will do anything for the poor, and the mostly vanished middle class? You think those who make money off of humanity’s misery will do anything to upset their status quo – and now yours – because you accept their money, and don’t insult my intelligence by telling me there is no quid pro quo. I’m poor, not stupid.
So, I will vote for you because Bernie Sanders, a true fighter for people like me, is out of contention. What a relief for you.
I do hope you’re our next President. I do think it’s time for a woman guiding our country. I’m just not under any illusion that anything will change for me, and those like me. I will vote for you because you are a better choice, but how sad that I don’t feel like you’re the best choice.
Drinking makes me feel different, and better – if I don’t drink too much. I’ll be giddy, and happy, and in love with the world, and if I step over that razor’s edge line, I’m in hell, but it’s the insanity alcohol abstention programs talk about, the thought that I won’t drink too much this time, or that third drink won’t effect me so much. It’s what drinking does rather than how much I drink, because I don’t normally drink a lot, and I stop if I get near the vomit line, but trouble starts before that.
I know I’ve crossed the line when my thoughts turn dark and I tell my S.O. we’re through, that I just want to move to a cave somewhere and finish out my days without the stress of human contact.
In other words, I’m certifiable when I drink that next half a drink? quarter of a drink? more than two. Wine makes me reach the terrible place sooner – but there’s more alcohol per volume than beer or mixed drinks, which are more diluted and I drink them slower because I associate liquor with danger more quickly.
I’ve also found that three drinks causes inflammation, and my back and joints are in agony the next day. I could take turmeric, and other less, or non-toxic inflammation cures, but then I’m just putting band-aids on the problem which is over-drinking, or probably, any drinking.
But I love alcohol. I adore drinking culture – those false promises of an easy life for those few hours with friends and frenemies alike – all having a wonderful time until the hangover hits, or the ride on the vomit comet that one of my friends experiences every time she over-drinks, and the ultimate realization that most of your drinking buddies are just that, and they’ll fall away if you alter the terms of engagement.
My goal is quitting the booze for good, and I haven’t made my goal, which makes me think I’m in trouble. I’m a functioning drunk, if I’m a drunk. ‘Problem drinker’ sounds less horrible than ‘a drunk’. But the word ‘problem’ is a clue that my drinking issue needs solving.
For my first week of nephalism, I’m going to write ‘enjoy the insomnia and inflammation’, and stick that on the door so I see it on my night out with my girls, or even with my S. O..
Of course, I’ll probably use the other door to leave – but I’ll still know it’s there.
I wish I could smoke weed. It gives me panic attacks though. Not just some vague anxiety but OH-GOD-I’M-DYING terror coupled with the need to get out of my body, which I can’t do without the actual dying part, or if got knocked out, which is why I have Klonopin, that I haven’t had to use for panic for a long time, thankfully.
Panic attacks used to be a daily thing in my twenties and thirties. That really sucked. I don’t remember when they stopped, I’m just glad they did, and if I ever need a reminder of panic’s scourge, I can just have a toke or two, and it’ll all come back to me.
AA is useful, and I’m glad it’s there, but I dislike the cultish feel, and having grown up in a commune/cult, I tend to eschew groups.
Alcohol helps me feel freer, and happy – even if it’s fleeting – and that’s what I chase. I like escaping myself when I can, but it comes with a price – to myself, and worse – to those close to me.
A new definition of freedom and happiness is needed, and the only will power I need is against picking up that first drink.
So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.
Are you happy? Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?
If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life. Balance is key. Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.
I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear. Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.
My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you. For sure, ‘love’ is a big word. It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.
Life is learning. That never stops, so I’m still learning too. My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.
Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.
In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.
Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.
I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.
But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.
So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.
You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.
This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.
Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.
At writing group tonight I listened to a friend read her piece about her birthday today and how being sixty was kind of amazing, and it made me feel like I can do this. I can get to sixty someday soon, and maybe it won’t be so bad.
She is a strong, beautiful woman, and I might not have seen that at twenty, or even thirty, but time shapes us whether we want it or not. I am not in control. No matter how much I try to determine my destiny, I am foiled by this great unknown we’re all in.
We are all in. Once in a while, some of us break out and try controlling the show, life events, or life’s trajectory, but they are quelled by others or by their own mortality. We came into the world by chance or by design, and maybe we’re supposed to cause an effect, or maybe just witness this incredible moment, because it is really only a moment – especially as I get older and see how damn fast it all goes.
I have no idea where I’m going from here, or if there’s somewhere from here, and maybe religion is right, or maybe it’s all a crock – all people just whistling in the dark – but I’ve found love, and friendship, kinship, beauty, terror, and horror, along with inexplicable help and guidance.
What I’ve found true is following my heart. I might be wrong, but whenever I’ve tried to follow someone or something else’s idea of how to navigate this world, it’s caused deeper pain than just muddling through.
I can’t believe in a punishing ‘god’. It makes no sense to me. Maybe I’ll pay for that, but I’ll take my chances. God is love, or it is nothing. I cannot be better than ‘god’. So, if there is such a thing, It loves and accepts me.
If there’s nothing, then this has been an interesting manifestation of life replicating itself. I hope I’ve left more good than bad, and if my son has a child, or children, then our line continues, and if not, then we die out with his generation. So be it.
Maybe we’ll colonize other worlds, or maybe humanity will perish with this one, but life on earth has abundant time left for whatever will happen.
And though I have no say, I’d like us to have mattered – to be the reason for existence – but that might be ego rather than reality.
Because that’s how I see you. Not really a boy, though. More like a young adult. Emphasis on young.
How would I treat you if I weren’t your mother? I’d still be concerned, and I know that because that’s me. I care for everyone I love – and my problem is being too attached – and I know all the ‘how to live a happy (er) life’ teachers, guides, gurus, masters, etc. say that attachment is the source of my pain. Stop being attached. Just stop.
It’s possible, but it’s not like turning off a switch. And if it is, then I don’t want to know you because you’re probably psychotic.
Little by little I am letting go. Issue by issue. If my job was to keep you safe – and let you take risks – I was a successful failure. I did let you fall off your bike. I did watch as I knew you might scratch your knees when you were running so fast downhill and took a header – and I was grateful that was the worst of it – but I did not let you run out into traffic and face those natural consequences. In fact, I smacked your ass and told you in no uncertain terms that you will never do that again.
Yeah, yeah, violence is never the answer, but it wasn’t violence I was going for. It was reaction from unadulterated fear – from my not being everywhere at once – from what felt like my failure, at the time. As far as that toddler you were, I was god(dess).
The next terrible two incident was finding you surrounded by unsheathed freshly sharpened knives in Beth’s kitchen. You had to open the drawer that was over your head, and take out the knives one by one. You were like every other toddler on the planet – curious and non-stop. And you didn’t have one scratch on you. There is a god(dess)! – but it’s not me…
It was exhausting, and I was in the midst of newly single parenting, and trying to find work, and our own apartment, and was doing the best I could to be present and available for you. You were such a lovely being. Your ‘up, Mama up,’ from your crib in the morning was so precious. How could I not get my ass out of bed for that, no matter how tired I was?
When you were three, and we were living in our South Portland apartment, and I had just been Momzilla about some stupid shit, and I was sitting on the floor crying, you took my face in your sweet little hands and said: “the anger blocks the love, mama”.
That was your way of grabbing my full attention. If I was distracted and you had something. to. say. you’d grab my face in your hands and force my presence. Thankfully that wasn’t a constant occurrence, but more, that you were resourceful, even as a toddler.
I watched you deal with disappointment in your grade school years, watched as every kid in your class got a party invitation but you, and we ended up going to the public river swimming area that day. I was livid, but I hugged you and dealt with your hurt, and called those parents later, saying that they could have at least invited you for the cake once they knew you were there. I got it, not everyone is going to like you, but when the whole class was there? I started wondering if you had ADHD or something, but really, you were just already your own person, and at that age, conformity was king. You faced social challenges early on, and I did the best I could to support the great kid I knew you were – as well as try to get you to conform some – for your ease, not mine.
It wasn’t until junior high, at Four Rivers Charter Public School, that you found your posse. It was a great fit for you, and I watched you blossom there. You were pulling away from me, as life dictates, and I told you that you were changing but I wasn’t, and I’d always be here.
I feel like I need to say that again. I’m always here. Same as it ever was – to borrow a Talking Heads phrase. Maybe I’ve changed a lot too, but it doesn’t feel that way. I love you and like you and want you in my life as much – or even more now – as I always have.
But, to the point of letting go: it’s for my benefit that I release my bond to you.
You know where to find me, and my love is unchanging.
I don’t know who coined that phrase, but hearing it changed my life. I bring me with me – moving away never solved my problems, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Looking back to my 20’s and 30’s, I’m surprised I survived. Even if I had tried to off myself, I would likely have been unsuccessful, and then maimed for life. So life would still suck, and I’d be scarred, or worse. Great.
Getting over self-preservation is no small undertaking. No one makes it out of here alive, so there’s that reasoning, but what we might do here goes beyond us.
A therapist told me that if I kill myself, I give my son permission to end his life too. I fluffed that off, but since I know 3 people who were successful in the last few years, it’s been working on me in whispers at vulnerable times.
‘You’ll never get out of debt, loser girl.’ That’s one of the lovely names my inner asshole has for me. The ‘girl’ is a nice touch – colloquial and derogatory at once. ‘You’re worth more dead than alive’ – true – as long as I can keep paying the insurance, which looks less likely each time the payment’s due. ‘You’re aging now and you’re losing the little looks you had, and you’re worth less and less.’ ‘You’ve failed everything you’ve tried, and it’s too late to make it anywhere.’ ‘You can’t even get a regular job! Not one interview, and no prospects.’
The most significant, however, is the voice that tells me that I’ll end my pain. No more suffering. No more challenges. No more heartache.
Except, wherever I go, there I am.
Maybe I’ll have a consciousness, maybe I won’t. I’ve never died before. I’ve read lots of books and studies on people who have died and been revived, and they usually talk about bright light, and seeing loved ones who’ve passed on, or of spirits – ghosts – that seem to be stuck in the thoughts and feelings they had when they died.
Finding work I can do has been the bane of my existence. Clearly, I have to get entrepreneurial, but figuring that out is the rub.
The positives of staying alive are seeing the beautiful land where I live, hearing birds trilling, and flying around, watching the fireflies this time of year, and listening to tree frogs and crickets. Cats and dogs don’t care what I look like as long as I can scratch behind their ears and feed them. They aren’t body-based, or judgmental, but humans sure are.
And when depression’s shroud descends, none of that matters in my messed up head. I don’t care about anyone, and that disconnection is bizarre to witness.
Grandma Moses said: ‘Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.’ She began painting her quaint village scenes in her 80’s, and she lived another 20 years, so not only do I have those phrases to shore me up, but Yogi Berra‘s: ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over’, is another adage to hang onto.
So, wherever I’m headed, I can’t escape myself – and I prefer self-love over self-loathing, but there I am – whatever it is.
From musicals like Porgy & Bess, and Grease, topop songs through every decade, summer songs create, or re-create feelings of freedom, ease, love – especially young love with all that angst and yearning – and even if the heat and humidity are hard to take in the moment, I look back fondly to sticky summer nights spent hanging out with my group of friends, skinny-dipping in the river, or pool-hopping around the neighborhood, with or without permission…
Songs heard in my youth stir me more deeply than newer summer-themed tunes, or even old ones newly discovered. Those tunes center me in time and place unlike most anything else in my life.
The following links worked at this posting, but you can always search the song names yourself if any links become broken. Perhaps a few are already in your play list!
George Gershwin’s, Summertime, an aria in 1935’s, Porgy and Bess, evokes a haunting sweetness of that which is hoped for, however unattainable, for the impoverished Bess singing to her baby.
Another “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, from 1991, breathes summer’s relative freedom, and speaks to slowing down and enjoying summer’s romantic possibilities.
Eddie Cochran told us there’s no cure for the “Summertime Blues” in his 1958 rockabilly number, referring to his having to work and not getting to be with his girlfriend or friends all out having fun.
The Drifters’ trill about their relaxing seaside summer in 1964’s: Under The Boardwalk. You can feel summer’s heat, smells, sights, and sounds, while taking a chance at falling in love near the surf, away from the boardwalk’s crowds.
1966’s, Summer in the City, by The Lovin’ Spoonful, brings you into the city’s grit and grime from the first guitar strains just as Under The Boardwalk conveys a carnival feel from the start. And while the city heat shimmers off the asphalt, a cooler breeze and romance prevail at night.
Juxtapose that with, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry, 1970’s bubble-gum ditty, where finding a date was summer’s full-time pursuit – and dig the mutton chops, man!:
The late 1960’s and early 1970’s released several songs intoning summer’s graces and privileges for young and old alike. Several appeared in the summer of 1972.
Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze, is more folk than pop, and makes me want to lie under my favorite maple watching the leaves sway and hush each other in the warm breezes.
Saturday in the Park, Chicago’s ode to summer, also invokes a festival atmosphere, celebrating old-time holiday conviviality with street vendors and singers.
Alice Cooper’s, School’s Out, brought harder rock and attitude to summer’s opening, and remains one of my top summer songs:
Hot Fun In the Summertime, 1969’s summer hit by Sly and The Family Stone, also speaks to freedom from school in a mellow blues style, just as memorable for its ease and friendliness as Alice Cooper’s is for its ‘screw you’ ethos.
Flash forward to 1977 and The Ramones punking out with Rockaway Beach, another of their non-stop, driving beats insistent on another popular summer pursuit, days at the beach.
I don’t think Sandy Olsson from, Grease, would have been as attracted to one of the Ramones as much as she was to Danny Zuko, because meeting him on the beach was more like a Beach Boys’ dream song than the tough guy he portrayed in front of his friends, confusing poor Sandy. But, oh, what fun they had in those Summer Nights:
Sandy Olsson could have used Bananarama’s pop tune, Cruel Summer, to console her, but 1983 was too far in the future for the 1950’s character, and besides, it wouldn’t have been broody enough for our melancholy Sandy. Many of us with broken hearts related to their pop ballad while we danced away our sad summer nights.
A year later, in 1984, Don Henley rocked out smoothly with The Boys of Summer, crooning his heart out about the girl who got away – while those mean girls kept walking – pushing their Wayfarers a bit further up on their pretty little noses.
While this list isn’t in any particular order, excepting its mostly chronological look at summer songs, no list would be complete without Bryan Adams’, Summer of ’69, the youth rockers ode and anthem – finding belonging, following a passion – both in love and artful expression, and the sweet remembrance of summers past.
Make sure you add your favorite summer songs and why you like them in the comments!
Today is Flag Day. We learn about and honor what our flag represents in our country, and how to respect our flag. I was raised a patriot – a lover of America: ‘Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave.’ I believed in the Grand ole’ Flag, and the pledge of allegiance. America the Beautiful and our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, still mist up my eyes with every hearing. Yankee Doodle Dandy was one of my favorite songs as a child, and I even changed the lyrics to reflect being a girl. I would sing: ‘…a real, live, niece’ – rather than nephew – ‘of my Uncle Sam’, as well as my ‘Yankee Doodle Sweetheart’ being ‘my pal’ to the end where ‘I am that Yankee Doodle gal’. I never realized it was just a boat-load of propaganda designed to stir up nationalistic fervor and xenophobia. Every nation on earth does it to lesser or greater extents.
A high wind is blowing all around as I write this out on the summer porch. Whistling through the windows, I smell cut grass, honeysuckle, roses, and plowed earth on its way through – the scents of early summer.
Although the solstice is over a week away, Memorial Day has always signaled the start of summer for me. Even though calendars declare that ‘Summer Begins’ with the June solstice, farmers and others close to nature’s cycles know that it’s really the half-way point of the season. After that, daylight decreases daily with our orbit towards autumn.
But I’m not to think about that now. Being here now is my goal as time tends to bunch up the older I get. I want to have my younger self’s sense of time. A leisure summer day could seem like a weekend then, but my adult life’s demands and concerns are often greater, along with the broader view of time that age affords.
My child is grown and gone. He’s 25, and living large in the city, and yet, I have trouble not interfering. I want to say, ‘please listen to my advice because I never listened to those wiser than me, and I totally screwed up my life as a result.’ But, I know it wouldn’t do any good. That was me, not him.
I try to remember that I survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. He had a pretty solid upbringing, regardless of my Momzilla-ness. I was present and available. I provided structure, love, and guidance.
Did he have cotton in his ears the whole time? I warned him about my DNA, about his father’s DNA – that the likelihood of him becoming alcoholic is stronger than it was for me, and for his father – but I think he took that as a challenge. He can defy history. He can out-drink his DNA.
It’s painful, and I know he’s young, and he’ll probably survive – but he also might not.
And there’s nothing I can do.
I don’t want to badger, advise, attempt management, or control. It’s not my job anymore. Maybe I fucked up so bad that drinking is his way of getting through life, but that doesn’t make sense. I know I did a mostly good job, and he appreciates my influence in his life.
Letting go and letting him figure it out is what I need to do, I know, but it’s proving very difficult.
I subscribe to four magazines, and I’m not sure how that happened. Three months worth of Home and Garden sit on the table, gathering dust, while Women’s Health, InStyle, and Popular Science are only a month behind – hey, I like to feel a little healthy, smart, and at least appear like a fashionista.
Fine, I fail on almost all counts.
At least a decade ago I subscribed to three family oriented magazines, and rarely read any of them through. I chalked it up to the demands of single-parenting, and stopped subscribing after a couple of years because I read more when I went to doctor’s appointments than I ever did at home – at least feeling productive with all that waiting time.
The parenting magazines only helped me feel inadequate, and mostly envious of all the energy those interviewed parents had to make those incredible birthday cakes from scratch, plan a beautiful, even if simple, party, and have happy party guests go home with clever little gift bags (hey, it was my kid’s birthday – why should the other kids go home with gifts?).
I would have been a hit on ‘cake-fail’ sites, and the parenting magazine was the first to go, even though, yes, I did read them at my son’s doctor appointments. At least I wasn’t paying for the guilt and inadequacy anymore.
The daycare I worked at a few years before I became a mother gave me good skills I actually practiced. I think I only yelled ‘shut-up!’ once as a parent. ‘Use your inside voice’ was my go-to phrase.
One skill I learned after my son was well past the incessant questioning age, and was never addressed in those parenting ‘zines – and I can save you months of pain and suffering by revealing – is this simple phrase: ‘why do you think that is?’.
We have to go inside now.
Because it’s nearly time for lunch.
Because food keeps us all happier, and healthier.
Because food breaks down into vitamins and nutrients that give us energy.
‘Why do you think that is?’
The above example would have gone on for close to ten minutes with my son, whom I was patient and tolerant with, and I would try to keep answering until he was out of questions – especially because I was not allowed to ask questions when I was growing up. One time the ‘whys’ ended tearfully when I said ‘because I’m stupid, that’s why’! (My tears, not my sons.)
My father’s standard answer to asking ‘why’ was: ‘because y is a crooked letter’ – when he was in a good mood… I had no idea what his answer meant, especially as I wasn’t clever enough to realize he was talking about the letter rather than the word, but it did signal no more questions, as getting beat was likely as not to happen next.
The parenting magazines often showed fabulous ‘easy’ home-made costumes for Halloween, and the best (and only, really) home-made costume for my son was when he was twelve or thirteen, and very into the Final Fantasy video game, he wanted to be a blackmage for Halloween.
I am not a seamstress. I have sewed hems, badly, and patches and repaired rips, equally badly, but my son, really, really, wanted this home. made. I guess it would give him street cred, or whatever the video-gamer equivalent is, and so help me god, I heard ‘OK’ come out of my mouth.
OK?! What the hell was I thinking? That sweet boy face – that kid who was already starting to pull away from me and acting like I was the very epitome of ineptitude – was asking me to make him a costume!?
Well, when I put it that way, we can all see why I said OK.
Mind you, the internet was still fairly new in 2002, and all I could afford was dial-up internet anyway, and I wasn’t very internet savvy. Hell, the internet wasn’t very internet savvy then.
I saw what the black mage looked like from a poster my son had, and I went to work: measuring, and figuring out how to make a wizard’s hat, shirt, and cloak – something that would make him proud, and maybe be nicer to me? (Ha!)
I found the right material for the cape – on sale!, and buttons for the shirt that were fantastic, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be making the shirt and cloak, but I nearly went insane (fine, insane-er) when I was making the hat.
I made it out of heavy felt, and found a pattern for a similar hat, but it needed tweaking, so I expanded on the pattern the best I could, and while I began the project in late September, it was a few days before Halloween when I was ready to give up and just let the ‘I hate my idiot Mom’ campaign begin in earnest. But persevere I did, and the hat got made, and it came out beautiful.
Best of all, his friends thought he looked amazing.
Ironically, I never thought to write-up and submit that experience for an article because I found the experience abysmal, and didn’t think any parents out there would relate. Now, of course, I know that at least a few others out there might have sighed in relief knowing that the ‘good-parent’ bar was set just a bit too high in those magazines…
These days I can read magazines without feeling (as) inadequate, but there’s no reason to re-subscribe if all they’re doing is collecting dust.
It’s there in the morning, when I’m most vulnerable, stirring back to consciousness – especially if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. It follows me to the bathroom where I splash cold water on my face & say ‘good morning beautiful’ to the sad face in the mirror. Why does it surprise me that a compliment – a talisman, really – slightly boosts my spirits?
My actions happen under duress as I lay out my yoga mat and lay down to stretch. The thing is fierce now – practically yelling at me, telling me to give up, just go back to bed; sit down and do nothing. Why bother?
Hate’s litany joins in, and I battle this every. day. I manage to get some exercises in, but don’t complete my whole routine. My new task is rewarding myself for progress, not focusing on how much I think I suck.
Today’s epiphany isn’t new, but newly remembered: I worked myself out of a job when my son grew up and left. It’s wonderful that I managed to foster a productive, beautiful, kind human. He’s bright and independent – and I am empty.
I wouldn’t change how things are except to be alright. I failed to take care of me by solely taking care of him. I was it. A single parent – who had lots of help – but my child was my everything. I showed up for him when my constant demons told me it was too much, and I soldiered on. I cried through making meals sometimes, or house-cleaning, or the myriad unending tasks – but I did them, and I can’t seem to muster the same resolve for myself. I don’t matter as much as my child did, but my work is changing that.
Perhaps getting out of bed, splashing water on my face, doing my PT exercises, getting dressed, and brushing my teeth are as much as I did for my child, even if minute in comparison?
Whether or not I’m doing the best I can, I’m still failing to fully show up for my life – for what’s left of it.
Raising my child is still the best thing I’ve ever done, and while admirable, it’s not my whole life. He grew up, and so did the other children I watched for several years, but childcare is not my passion, even if I’m good at it.
Childcare is thankless and lonely. If you do a good job, who cares – it’s what you were supposed to do. There is no recognition ceremony, no severance package, no pension. Transferable skills are laughed at – even though there are many.
Grief moves to the side when something rewarding and motivating takes up more space, and though I engage in singing, writing, and acting, I’m not making a living through those passions. Friends have gotten book deals, national singing gigs, or paid and recognized acting jobs, and I’ve got to make a new choice because those passions are a dry well for me.
There is an answer, but whatever it is has to happen soon, and must move my grief so I’m not pushing through it every day – so that every day doesn’t look the same.
It’s your day, Earth. We set one day aside to honor you – kind of like Mother’s, or Father’s, Day. I can only speak for mothers, but I know most of us work hard all year, but it’s one day for special notice.
And like the aforementioned days for recognition, you’re pretty much taken for granted the rest of the year, Earth. We trust there’ll be breathable air, livable land, and drinkable water every day – no matter what we do to you.
But more people, who wouldn’t call themselves tree-huggers or hippies, are waking up to the Earth’s needs – regardless of motivation.
Lots of trees were planted today, and many people cleaned up road and river ways in your honor, Earth. Children danced and sang, wrote stories and poems, painted pictures, and marched in parades.
But what happens tomorrow? Making every day Earth day is a significant challenge, and I am as bad as anyone because I drive, and use electricity, and eat, and breathe, and use unsustainable goods.
How do I change – impoverished me, who can’t go buy a hybrid vehicle, build a ‘green’ home, has no regular public transportation, and deals with chronic pain among other issues, making biking or walking everywhere unrealistic?
I suppose my carbon footprint is less by virtue of my poverty, but if I were wealthy, would I care? I hope so, but I absolutely would do more if I gain wealth in my life.
I’m grateful for others’ creativity – those addressing problems of our industrialized world: industrial and agricultural pollution, rubbish, mindless consumerism, etc.
Cows are one of the major methane producers, and I wonder if an enzyme could be put into their feed to reduce their gas emissions, much like Bean-o does for humans. There has to be solutions to help us and Earth without going back to being hunter/gatherers. I have no interest in beating my clothes against a rock in the local brook to clean them. I don’t think life has to get harder to get better for all of us.
Maybe oil-based materials and products will use new substances, known, or as yet undiscovered, that won’t require oil, coal, tar, or other noxious materials to create or operate. ‘Plastic’ can be made from plant fibers, for instance, that will degrade without as much damage to the world as current plastics are.
There are many smart, driven, compassionate, and caring people who can tackle these issues, but government needs to provide funds for success much like it did with the space program – a program now focused on getting humanity off this polluted world rather than solving pollution issues.
Maybe humanity screwed up other planets in the solar system a long time ago, and luckily found a livable planet here, but pretty much directly started destroying it…
My father thought we were the scourge of the universe and ours is a penitentiary planet – keeping us from serious interstellar harm. I think we’re an immature species, smart enough to get ourselves in real trouble, but not insightful enough to stop ourselves. So, until that happy day when we’re mature, we suffer the consequences of our actions rather than celebrate how far we’ve come.
Who knows how long I’ll live, but I could reasonably live another forty or fifty years – and I’d like to use whatever time left giving back to this beautiful blue interstellar marble, and do my best to decrease my destructive tendencies and do more good than harm.
Regardless, I wish all a beautiful Earth day, and hope it will carry all through the year.
One of my first experiences of body appreciation was by reading Peanuts. That’s right, my philosophical beginning came through a comic strip. Not to diminish Mr. Schultz’s worldly observations, but I was a 5 or 6-year-old reading Snoopy’s exploits, or maybe it was Charlie Brown’s? – giving his legs and feet a pep talk, something like: ‘feet don’t fail me now’, as though they had brains of their own. It was revelatory for me to think about my legs and feet as maybe failing me, or that they deserved recognition for their constant work on my behalf.
Flash forward more decades than I wish, reluctantly wearing reading (in this case, writing…) glasses, experiencing appreciation for what was. I was going to eradicate aging though, merely by believing I could. Hey, the cultists told me we only age because we think we’re going to – that it’s all attitude and belief. That I’ve aged merely indicates my lack of faith…
One of my sisters needed glasses her whole life, so I guess she was spiritually lacking from the get-go. Idiocy aside, aging means diminished ability – no matter how well we eat, or how many vitamins and minerals we take to slow the process. The only way to stop aging is to die. That’s it. Plastic surgery doesn’t stop bodily degeneration, unless we start implanting baby organs, and stem cells to replenish our damaged cells. And there’s a bodily cost for those ‘interventions’: getting surgically sliced and diced causes damage too.
Fighting the inevitable – outside of being my Native American, or, First People, name – is exhausting. Acceptance feels like giving up. I know it’s not, but my emotional self says: ‘Screw you! – you’ll never take me alive’. And my body replies: ‘Well, that’s the intention…’.
So I extend my gratitude backwards. My body served me well, and still does.
It’s March Fourth today, and in honor of that exhortation, what do I need to do that? I’ve heard the ‘get a job, any job’ mantra, and while necessary to live, those of us with chronic pain and major depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, sometimes don’t fare well in the ‘any job is a good job’ category.
I’m an unpaid writer trying to find a living-wage writing. I’m a singer who gets occasional gigs, usually amounting to gas money, but it does strengthen my will to live, so I’ll keep doing that. Acting is much the same when you’re not getting anything but extra work, which basically makes me a paid prop. ‘Stand here and smile.’ or ‘Stand here and look horrified.’ or ‘Stand there’ – and then, ‘sit over there’. Still, it’s work I want to do – but with a speaking role – but not the kind of work that keeps a roof over my head.
So, there are other jobs to do outside of my dreams, like office work, and light house-keeping, but of all the resumes I’ve submitted in the last few months, I’ve gotten zero responses.
Not one interview.
That has added to my despair as much as anything else. There are fewer jobs with more people applying for them, I get that, and perhaps I’m under-qualified or over-qualified, but I think the real issue is creative void.
I need to stoke my imagination, maybe get entrepreneurial, but with something that has a hope of a living-wage attached to it.
Having supportive friends and allies helps, but I worry about wearing thin on them. I don’t wish to hold the friend-in-trouble-heavyweight-title anymore.
Marching forth is apt, but instructions on doing that, that work for me, would be stellar.
There’s a new series on TV called, Younger, starring Sutton Foster, that is so fun. The concept is of a newly divorced mother trying to re-enter the work force at 40, and being turned down due to her age by interviewers in their 20’s. While ridiculous on its face, there are truths, or at least issues, I can relate to.
Not a fan of aging, or of people complaining about being old, or how old they are, and blah, blah, blah, I so relate to this character.
The ideas of youthful freedom are as tantamount as the inexperience and relative irresponsibility of being young. So while I complain about those who complain about being old, I see the bounty of perspective. I see how each and every day led to me to where I am, and I wouldn’t care to repeat much of that time.
I learned about betrayal, heartache, false friends, misguided trust, and self-reliance. Being my own best friend was hard-gained, and learning that being alone was alright took several years.
It was miserable when I saw younger people see me as older. It was truly fucking awful, but what could I do? I couldn’t afford surgery to try to stay perpetually 20, and even if I could, why would I want to? I was there! So, my twenties sucked – a lot of it. I also had a lot of fun. My thirties came quicker than I expected, but there ya go – it happened, and so did my forties…
Acceptance is a bitch sometimes. If I could disguise myself and be seen as young, and get a do-over, what a different time it would be. It’s universal: the desire to be young and yet have a wise perspective. Twenty-somethings might never feel that way, but wait until they hit forty. The difference is like looking out, or down, from a high cliff rather than ground level. Whether you know what to do with that vantage point is dependent on many factors, but the lucky few who understand their worth and their abilities get to make a pretty good life for themselves and their loved ones.
It’s not a magic formula, I know. There are those who are confident and capable and life is a douche-bag to them anyway, but usually, perseverance can lead them through the rough patches.
And there will be rough patches. I don’t care how gilded a life is, it isn’t exempt from some form of hell. Perhaps I’d gladly exchange my hell for theirs, but hell it is.
So, unless I can radically change my life, it would be wiser for me to accept where I am.
I guess I can accept it, but I don’t approve of it.