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Memories by Music

New Kids on the Block. Takes me back to the rec room in my mom’s house… it was a huge room over the garage that had sofas, beds, exercise equipment, and most importantly a TV and VCR. Leslee, Steph, Dawn Marie, and I spent a bajillion hours in that room watching NKOTB videos. That is where we made the posters we took to the front row of their concert at Carowinds. Yes, we actually did that. When hurricane Hugo hit, we were out of school longer than we were out of power, so we really put in some quality time with the boy band from Boston while the adults were clearing fallen trees.

Who do you need? Who do you love? When you come undone?” 1993 riding in the back of a friend’s Amigo down Ocean Blvd. at Myrtle Beach, going to eat seafood. High school graduation trip. One of the few moments I spent with my boyfriend that week. Duran Duran had a comeback CD and it reminds me of that early summer. Love. Rejection. Anger. Sadness. I can smell the salt air when I hear that song.

James Taylor – You’ve Got A Friend. Riding around in “Scooby”, the name of my friend’s car. He was my best guy friend in high school and we would spend hours driving around the back roads and talking. We always listened to music and it was often James Taylor. He was there to listen when there was no one else. That friendship will always mean a great deal to me and this song will always make me think of those evenings riding around NC, with a friend. 

Myrtle Beach the year after graduation, Candlebox played the entire week. I shared a rental with 5 other girls. Some of the girls partied the entire week, staying intoxicated around the clock. Some focused on finding cute boys. Some of us partied part of the time, spent time on the beach, and just hung out with friends. My best friend sliced her finger open at 3am while trying to make spaghettios, after she stole my bed and put me on the sofa, and I took her to the rental office in search of a first aid kit. I was not happy. She was too drunk to take care of herself. “Now maybe. I didn’t mean to treat you bad. But I did it anyway.”

Blind Melon – No Rain. Riding around with Kerri in my black 92 Celica, talking about our on-again-off-again boyfriends and looking for the next party. We were 18. “All I can say is that my life is pretty plain. ya don’t like my point of view. ya think I’m insane…”

 

Aerosmith – Get A Grip. Concert with 3 of my girl friends and my boyfriend. My friends were drinking beer from the concession stand, and they placed them under their chairs to dance and scream to the music. The next time my girl reached down to grab her plastic cup, it was gone. The next I know, all 110 lbs. of her is screaming at the group of very large Harley Davidson riders standing behind us. She was underage, purchased the beer at the arena illegally, and was now making a scene and loudly announcing that she wanted her MoFo beer replaced RIGHT NOW! My boyfriend was not a wussy guy. I had seen him get in fights with guys our own age, but he was not about to jump in the middle against 5 huge motorcycle dudes twice his age. We asked her to shut up and just get another beer. She was pissed that we were not verbally jumping the bearded dudes with her. Hearing that Aerosmith CD takes me back to the mighty beer confrontation of feisty K. It also reminds me that Steven Tyler plucked a ~15 year old girl from the audience to mack on , ewwwwwwww!

Prince – When Doves Cry.  At a comedy club in Charlotte. I was 18 and I was out with my boyfriend, sister and her boyfriend. My sis and my boyfriend were too shy to get up on the stage, didn’t want to look like idiots. My sister’s boyfriend and I put our names on the list, didn’t so much care about looking like idiots. We waited and waited, as it seemed sis and bf were the only shy peeps in the crowd. This was a small place and every person there was having a great time and beginning to act like they had known the strangers around for years. We took our spot on the stage, and we began to sing… “Dig if u will the picture…”   Well, a couple of other girls got impatient and jumped onstage to join in on our karaoke. As they began to sing, my sis’ bf got pissed! He wanted no part whatsoever in sharing our mics with these party girls we didn’t know. They hijacked his song and so he bailed, literally jumping from the stage in a hissy man fit. Hahaha!

Limp BizkitBreak Stuff. This is the song I would play on the way home from work, when I worked at an animal intake shelter and dealt with dog fighters, seeing abused and neglected animals day in and day out, and tolerated people threatening me, which at times involved physical outbursts. No matter how crazy it got, I had to remain calm and work on behalf of the animals’ best interest, regardless of how much it pissed off the people associated with those animals. It was cathartic to blast this song on the way home and blow off some steam…                         

“It’s just one of those days
Feelin’ like a freight train
First one to complain
Leaves with a blood stain
Damn right I’m a maniac
You better watch your back
Cuz I’m fuckin’ up your program”

Leona Lewis. My current relationship. There are many songs that are connected to where I am now… but there is one in particular that represents the beginning. I hear Bleeding Love and it takes me back to driving to meet my boyfriend for a date. It may sound cheesy, but the lyrics describe what I was feeling… I had decided to just do without men because of icky past relationships, and then I fell in love by accident. Many warned me that our relationship was moving too fast and that I was falling for someone who would not stay with me for more than a minute.

All of the lyrics fit.

I was going to post the video, but I just watched it, and well… it’s really stupid.

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Flurries

Bundled up in my warmest clothes and wrapped in my yellow blankee with bunnies. My first big snow. I am not 100% sure of the year, but it must have been 1979 or 1980. Snow stacked at least to the knee of a tall adult. We lived at the bottom of a hill and my grandparents situated at the peak. My father carried me while my mom toted my little sis to trek up the hill to grandma and grandpa’s house. My first memory of snow.

The biggest snow of my life thus far fell when I was around 11 years old.  My sister and I were living in Charlotte with my mom and we knew that wasn’t the place to take advantage of the winter wonderland. We convinced my mom to drive us to our Aunt Tammie’s house so we could do some serious sledding. Within a few miles of Tammie’s home was a place called “The Tickle Hills”… which was in fact a long dirt road with crazy steep hills! There was woods on either side of the road with gulleys between. During the day, we went with the family, including grandparents and cousins, to take on the hills. Someone had the bright idea of placing my grandma on a saucer sled! Having no way to steer, she didn’t make it but a few feet down the hill before shooting off the road, launching airborne, and jumping the ditch. I remember the moment of “Uh-oh, there goes grandma!” The saucer slid up part of a tree trunk before coming to a halt and dumping my grandma out upside down. We couldn’t breathe! She wasn’t injured. We laughed until we cried!  She was done. No more rides for grandma. We kind of lost her trust in the activity.

After dark, my sis and I returned to the sledding site with my aunt and her husband. He parked the trucks at the bottom of the hill with the headlights beaming up and 80’s music blaring from the speakers. The light did not reach the top, so we started off in the dark. My aunt would lie on the flyer and I would lie on top of her. This made for less stability and probably contributed to the many times we wrecked. We couldn’t make it all the way to the bottom… we would get shaky, lose control, spin out, and go flying in different directions, screaming and laughing through the icy air. Then it happened. We bolted down the hill at top speed, quickly approaching the trucks at the bottom. I don’t think it had occurred to us that we may get that far, and we did not have a plan for stopping or what to do when about to collide with the vehicles. The trucks were parked closely together, it was a narrow road afterall. Tammie kept screaming, “Just hold on, don’t wobble!” She steadied the sled, kept on a straight path, and we sailed in between the trucks at top speed! Scary! Great rush and FUN!

1995 – The first snow for Precious, Black Mountain, NC. She was about 5 months old. We rented a private cabin and was snowed in for days. The most fun was watching Precious run around the side of the mountain, kicking up snow, eating snow, spinning,  jumping, and  prancing around like she was a furry ice princess. Her tags became coated with snow and she ended up wearing a frozen snow ball around her neck. I had to make her go inside. She just couldn’t get enough!

The first snow for Sebastian when he was a puppy. He was between 4-5 months old. It snowed at our house and he didn’t know how he should walk in it. He kept leaping in and out of it, much like a deer. I wish I had a video. He loved that it was cold, would move, could be kicked and eaten!

The last snow for Sebastian, 2009. Last year it snowed several inches near the end of January. Sebastian had not been as active in the months leading up to the snow. He had turned 9 the previous August and his joints wouldn’t allow him to be as playful and bouncy as in his younger days. Well, when he walked out the door into the snow, the puppy was back! He immediately started shoveling it into his big mouth, and then ran down the stairs from the deck into the yard and started kicking up his feet and bouncing around like a bunny or deer like he had when he was a pup. His eyes were wide and googly with excitement! I went out in the yard and began throwing snow up in the air. He was ecstatic! He would jump up and to catch the flakes in his mouth, and then he would patiently sit and quietly request that I do it again. When he really wanted something, he could have amazing manners (or rather offer a polite way of being bossy). He ran around the yard with me, my other dog (his plutonic girlfriend) Mica, and tried to find every way he could to use the snow, enjoy the snow, play with the snow… and he was the happiest dog. A short 6 weeks later, his legs couldn’t carry him anymore and I had to say goodbye. I am so thankful he had those last moments of celebrating life!

The Music in Me

Inspired by Waiting for the Click and Why Is Daddy Crying?

I divided this into 2 posts because it ended up quite lengthy.

The first memories of music I have is from my father. He died when I was 6 years old. He loved music! He played in a band during his teen years and while I was young, he had amps set up in the garage through which he would  play his electric guitar. I remember pulling in the long driveway to our house after a trip to the  grocery store with my mom, and my dad would be rockin’ out in the garage, singing songs through a microphone and jamming on his guitar. He had the presence of a rock star! He would play his albums in the downstairs den and loved to watch my sister and I dance around and bounce like jumping beans to the tunes of Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers Band, Grand Funk Railroad, and of course The Grateful Dead. I remember being so energized by the music, I could only see my blonde hair whipping around in front of my face and could hear my dad’s laughter through the fast guitar and heavy drums. One of my happiest memories of my entire life.

(I wish I had a photo of my father to include, but my sister borrowed my photo album and has not returned it. I will scan each and every photo as soon as I get it back!)

Michael Jackson – Thriller. My grandma. We had a Friday tradition of going to town to the steak house and then to the mall. My grandparents allowed me to select the first album I would own, and they purchased it for me. We returned home and played it on the turntable in the huge wooden cabinet. (I tried to find a picture but I couldn’t find one nearly as huge as the one in my grandparents’ home.) My grandma danced with me and it was all kinds of fun! I was 7. It’s the first memory I have of seeing my grandma be totally joyful and have fun since my dad had died the previous year.

Country music two-stepped in. My mother’s favorite was country and the next guy she dated after my father died was a DJ on the top country station in Charlotte. She was always going to concerts and coming home with pictures with the artists. Alabama was my first concert. I was 7 or 8 years old and I fell asleep. Their music still comforts me. I have not been a country music fan in my adult life. I never listen to country radio stations, but there are songs of that genre from the early 80’s that are so nostalgic. One summer at Myrtle Beach, it wouldn’t stop raining. Stuck in the house for a couple of days, we listened to Alabama over and over. Dixieland Delight, Mountain Music, Feels So Right. I now have some of them on my iPod and my favorite is “The Closer You Get”. I remember sitting in the white plastic swivel chair in the living room and helping my mom put a puzzle together while the rain loudly poured outside. I’m sure the puzzle was a picture of horses… or maybe puppies.

A lot of the music from the 70’s reminds me of my Aunt Tammie. She introduced me to Foreigner, 38 Special, Heart, Blondie, Parliament-Funkadelic, and The Sugarhill Gang, just to name a few. She admired Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart because they played their own instruments… didn’t need men for rock guitar. We dressed up in costumes, make-up, heels, and danced around to choreographed routines. Laughing and giggling to the wee hours of the morning.

And then there was Bon Jovi. My obsession. I was such a dedicated fan that I owned a band t-shirt for each day of the week, and in the 6th grade, my entire wardrobe consisted of blue jeans, high top Converse sneakers, and Bon Jovi t-shirts. I didn’t care how nerdy anyone thought me to be. It was about the music. It mattered more. And who are we kidding? I had a mad crush on Jon Bon Jovi. To this day, you listen to the old songs and realize why women love them so much. We all want a man to think of us and love us the way he describes in those songs. No matter how cheesy anyone thinks the music is, one should be so lucky to have another love them so passionately. “I’ll be there till the stars don’t shine Till the heavens burst and words don’t rhyme And I know when I die you’ll be on my mind
And I’ll love you always

I loved the movie Pretty in Pink. I had the soundtrack on cassette tape and played it on a Walkman. I used to spend all of my weekends at my grandparents’ home. I would spend hours driving the go-cart around their property, around the pond, the dog pens, the orchard, the gardens with my headphones blaring the soundtrack over and over, thinking about how I couldn’t wait to become a teenager and have a boyfriend. “If you leave, don’t leave now. Please don’t take my heart away…”

Speaking of boyfriends, a highschool boyfriend used to sing to me as long as I couldn’t see him. He would hold me close and sing in my ear, “Shameless” by Garth Brooks. “Well I’m shameless when it comes to loving you
I’ll do anything you want me to… I’ll do anything at all
.”
Every Boys II Men song reminds me of those days too and of that relationship. One moment in particular was on a hot summer night. The song was playing on a girl’s boombox by the pool. Swimming at night is the best, especially with someone who is playful and sings you Boys II Men.

If you are interested in genetics, evolution, nature vs. nurture, or just how your lifestyle choices may affect your children, read on. All of this is quite interesting to me, as I spent years studying evolution and genetic markers while pursuing a Zoology degree. Not to mention that “nature vs. nurture” was often a topic of discussion throughout my years working at the SPCA, as related to the behavior and history of domesticated pets.

I just read an article on a “new science” called epigenetics at Time.com (link to article is at the bottom of this post). “At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation.” This is beyond nature and nurture!

The studies began to look at how conditions in the womb may not only affect the health of a fetus but affect health into adulthood. Then, the researcher took it beyond that and took a look at how lifestyle and health of parents prior to a pregnancy could affect their children. “We all know that you can truncate your own life if you smoke or overeat, but it’s becoming clear that those same bad behaviors can also predispose your kids — before they are even conceived — to disease and early death. ”

This certainly gives more food for thought for those of us who knowingly partake in unhealthy habits but promise to cut it out before deciding to procreate.

Darwin wrote that it takes many generations, even millions of years for evolutionary change to take place. Data from multiple scientists collected separately over the past 20 years indicates that environmental factors can influence genes in just ONE generation…  “powerful environmental conditions (near death from starvation, for instance) can somehow leave an imprint on the genetic material in eggs and sperm.” Genes can switch on or off depending on stress and diet, etc.

On the other hand, since scientists are figuring out what causes these changes, they are also developing drugs to alter the genes from turning on or off, depending on which are “good” or “bad” genes.

Click here for the full article: Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny

We have come so far… and then not really. I never, ever, ever thought I would be a single woman closing in on the mid-thirty mark. I was married and the plan was for that to be forever. In this age, forever is a smidge shorter than it used to be for many of us. I got married way too young! You always hear people say that, and well I know what it means. And, what it doesn’t mean. It does NOT mean, oh I changed my mind or that I didn’t take the commitment seriously. Rather I didn’t know the warning signs to look out for, have high enough standards, or know how to protect myself… I wasn’t old enough, didn’t have enough life experience to know how. I certainly didn’t have guidance and support to help me in that area either.

So, here I am. On my next birthday I turn 35. That dreaded number. The one that we read about in my genetics course. Biological age, reproductive age, OLD eggs, genetic mutations, fetuses aborting themselves because they were not developing normally, increase of chromosomal disorders, etc. I never thought I would be someone who thinks about the cliché of my clock ticking. Well, tick, tick tick! It’s something you do not and can not understand until it happens to you. It brings on thoughts and emotions that I had only assigned other women capable of thinking and feeling. Oh, I’m not gonna be one of those! Well shit, never say never applies once again. I won’t go into my evolution of thought on the subject of having children and how it has changed and swayed over the years. This is more about the differences between men and women… the differences in expectations and judgments, and the straight up differences that feed double standards in today’s society and relationships.

I have been with my current boyfriend, which by the by sounds like a ridiculous label at this age, for 2+ years. He is 40. We originally met 10 years ago, so we had a good base of understanding of one another when we started dating. Well, according to everyone who talks to me, we have been together too long to just be dating, at this age. I hear this, ALL OF THE TIME. I get the questions. Do you think he’s getting you a ring? Are y’all living together yet? Has he talked about marriage? Does he want children? The questions really started full speed ahead when we hit our one year mark. So you can deduce that I have heard this broken record of questioning for more than a year now. And what’s it like for him? Is he tired of the constant questions? NOOOOO… because HE is never the receiver, the target, the victim of inquisition! Why? Why does he not get the same questions about our relationship? I mean, he’s older than I am. Plus, he is the one who has never been married. Most of the people who ask me these questions are HIS people. I met them through him and now they want to keep tabs on us without asking him.

If people generally think that men are the ones in charge of progression of a relationship, by traditional standards, then why do the women get all the questions, pressure, da da da, da da? More often than not, the man does the proposing. But, no pressure. Don’t talk about it with your friends, that way they can just ask me for an update on a monthly (and sometimes) weekly basis.

This does come back around to what I rambled about up top. We get the questions and the pressure because we are the ones with the limitations. The expire dates. Oh, how lovely that sounds. People assume we’re ticking and anxious and find the need to remind us of our age. Like we f*cking forgot! Do you often randomly forget your age? Apart from an actual memory impairment, as in permanent brain damage, I’m certain you are well aware of the exact amount of time you have spent on earth.

The absolute best is when someone has assumed I am younger than I am, and after bringing up such subjects of my relationship progression, reassure me with, “Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time sweetie… how old are you anyway?” After I respond, I get just an “OH!”

Well, I feel better.

I have a love-hate relationship with make-up. It began at a very early age. Well, the love part came about early, and now the hate pops up on random days. The women we grow up with in our families leave a heavy mark on us. Some of us may be successful in debunking those influences if we consciously oppose them and want to reach a comfort zone free from such opinions and routines. Most of us end up with an imprint, influence from the women who raised us up, rather we like it or not.

My mother wore make-up. My paternal grandmother wore make-up, always. (My maternal grandmother died while I was a baby.) I remember that my mother seemed to get self-esteem, the motivation to socialize through her make-up. She did the full-face… foundation to dark creamy eye shadow, to lipstick, and always lots of mascara. She never told me that I needed to wear it… my grandma is a different story. My grandmother always had on make-up and her hair was always perfectly coifed. She had a huge mirror mounted on the wall of her hallway that had two sides on hinges that would swing out so she could examine her hair from all angles, to be sure all was smoothed, no holes, no awkward pieces sticking out or up. Perfect. Now I don’t know exactly how big her contribution was to the thinning of the ozone, but before CFC’s were taken out of aerosol hairspray, I’m sure she socked it her share of damage.

Appearance was of moderate to high concern and we were coached, assisted, and reminded of this on a regular basis. The biggest beauty production of all occurred each Sunday, getting ready for church. The process began on Saturday evening. My grandmother would wash my hair, let it dry in front of the fireplace, and then she would roll it in big, squishy, pink rollers, and/or socks for me to sleep in. We had to style our hair, we had to wear stockings, we had heels on our shoes from a young age, and of course, we had to wear make-up.

My grandmother had a very passive-aggressive way about her. I remember visiting her once in my twenties and she made breakfast for me like she always did (she loved to cook for everybody and often and as much as possible.), so I got myself presentable enough to visit the breakfast table, or so I thought. No one else was visiting at the time or stopping by to join us for breakfast. I think my grandpa was out hunting or mowing the lawn.

I brushed my teeth, brushed my hair (which is about the most I do to my straight hair anyway), got dressed, and put on make-up. I walked down the hall and through the living room, reached my seat and began chit-chatting with MaMa as she prepared the food. The first thing she asked was if I was feeling okay. She said that I looked a little peaked (read: code word for Southern women which really means, “You look like shit darling!”), probably because I didn’t have my face on yet. Remember, I had on full make-up sans lipstick. After pointing that out, she said that putting on some lip color should perk me up. Oy vey.

I purposely did not put anything on my lips because I was going to be eating immediately AND the only person to see me was my dear, sweet grandmother. Alas, I still wasn’t pulled together enough for the occasion.

A few years ago, what the hell was she called? A motivational speaker maybe? She wasn’t. A lot of it turned out to be a joke, but she provided a free workshop for the staff where I worked. It was just ever so difficult for her audience to take her seriously, due to the fact that much of her spiel was focused on nutrition, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight… meanwhile we were all staring at – not a chubby woman – but a significantly overweight woman in poor physical shape. Back to why this is related to make-up. In the midst of discussing how we can feel better at work, she mentioned make-up. She was actually talking about being observant of your co-workers and recognizing when they may be getting depressed, in a rut with work, burned out, etc. Basically letting themselves go. What she said created a lot of upset among many of the women on staff. It was interesting to learn how differently some of us interpreted what she was saying. A few of the women were ranting and pissed. Yes, I have always been taught that putting on make-up is part of preparing to go out into the world, but I totally get it when women find that insulting. Here’s the thing, she wasn’t suggesting for women who never wear make-up to suddenly start wearing it. She was encouraging us all to pay attention to changes from the norm for a person. So if a co-worker who usually wears make-up and styles her hair a certain way, begins showing up for work with a naked face and hair pulled back in a messy bun, then something may be going on with that person… because it’s not typical for that person. No matter how I tried to explain that rationale, my co-workers were pissed!

I started wearing make-up way too young. I had on full make-up in my 5th grade school photo! It starts out fun. But then you feel like you need it… making one feel self-conscious without it… and that kind of sucks. No, it really sucks! I didn’t even need make-up when I was young. I always had great skin overall, no acne, no uneven coloration, but I thought I needed to paint on it. The real bummer is that right when I stopped enjoying putting on make-up and just got down right sick of the whole routine, I actually need it now. I mean, I don’t think I would stop breathing or anything, but I am aging and dealing with dark under eye circles and the other little not-so-cute things that happen. If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t want it to feel like an expectation of her, and I would not want her to build her self-esteem based on such at any age. I am actually envious of women who feel most comfortable naked-faced. The sick truth of it is, I still get all giddy shopping for make-up and trying out new products. Call me shallow, but it is ingrained in my brain… blame it on grandma!