Uneducated Poetry

The ONE time I don’t toss my Nook into my bag is the one time the WiFi on my flight isn’t working. Oh well, these flights are always full. I can use the 3 hours to chat with the person next to me. But the ONE time I want to chat, the flight isn’t full. Far from it. There’s no one in the seat next to me. There’s no one in my row. Or the row across from me. Okay, I will use this time to sleep. I always feel awkward falling asleep so close to other people. But now that I have the chance, the typically bumpy flight that will lull me to dreamland is smooth as silk. And I’m wide awake.

I have my laptop. And suddenly, the millions of excuses I have for not writing have evaporated. It’s just me and a keyboard.

I SO want a drink. I’ve been on board for over an hour, and there’s no sign of a flight attendant. I take a sip of my bottled water and glance back down at the screen.


I slip my headset on and start my favorite playlist. The first song is by The Cure. I love how eclectic my list is. Unless I’m craving something specific, I let my playlist dictate my mood.

The songs that make this particular playlist are all special for some reason. Some are songs I’ve heard bits and pieces of during a movie, television show or commercial. (Shazam is one of the best apps ever invented). Many times, the bit or piece that I heard is the best part of the song. Most of the other songs are nostalgic. They remind me of people, places, and very specific times in my life.

I have actually had to remove songs because they remind me of people or times I don’t want to be reminded of any more. And I hate when that happens to songs I (used to) love. There are some songs that I still love, but they make me cry every single time. Unfortunately, I’ve had to remove those as well. Sobbing on a plane brings unwanted attention.

The flight attendant just dropped off some crackers and pretzels. Not peanuts, because as of August 1st (they said), the airline is no longer serving peanuts in order to accommodate passengers with allergies. Now, I don’t want to nitpick, but I’m allergic to stupid people, and yet they keep letting those idiots on the plane. I also may be allergic to bad smells, and would love to see that get addressed. But peanuts? I’m kind of a fan. I like them in and out of the shell. Salted, unsalted and honey roasted. In butter form (with and without chunks). In sauce form. On my sandwiches… alone, or with jelly, honey, bananas or bacon (yes, bacon). Or right off the spoon. Or my finger. Whatever. Peanuts are good. So maybe what the airline could do is have epi pens drop down from the overhead compartments like oxygen masks when needed? Or stow them under the seat cushions in the event of an emergency? Just throwing out ideas here…

Also, still no drinks. And the crackers were pretty dry. And salty. BUT… we started getting turbulence. Like, really BAD turbulence. I personally don’t mind it, but I can tell some people are getting nervous. The captain told the flight attendants to take a seat, so it doesn’t look like drinks will be happening soon. And it’s extremely difficult to type. And the turbulence is making me sleepy. Damn it man…

I was all about writing what music does to me. How it is a time machine. If I haven’t written that before, I’m certain I’ve said it. Probably many times. But that’s because it’s true. I can close my eyes and actually slip down that musical vortex (have you ever been to one of those indoor water parks that has the giant water slide that looks like a toilet bowl? If not, you totally should. But that’s the exact way I feel about certain songs.)

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I can’t listen to music in the background anymore. I know I used to be able to, and I’m not sure when it changed. But it has. Let me give you some examples.

If I’m shopping and the ceiling starts to play any Top 40 song from the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s, I literally can’t concentrate on groceries any more. And there is no way I would be able to text or talk on the phone. And it’s all I can do to keep from singing (and dancing) in the aisles. Just ask my kids. The grocery store closest to my house knows their audience. Apparently, people my age do most of their shopping at about the same time of day, and that’s when they play our songs. Genius! But also distracting.

And then there’s driving. If anyone is in the vehicle with me, or if I’m on the phone, I can’t play music at any level. Once I’ve heard the song, that’s all I can focus on. I can’t have music on if I’m trying to pay attention to GPS. So basically, I like to just drive to places I know and crank up the stereo.

Work is the same way. It’s a choice. Work… or music. I would prefer music. Too bad work doesn’t do itself.

I put music on at the house when I’m cleaning. When I’m in the shower. When I’m alone and want to nap or sleep. But never if anyone else is there. Never if I’m reading. And never if I’m writing.

That brings me to what’s going on right now. There are only two things I can do right now. Write, or listen to music. And I really want to do both. So I find myself toggling between the two. And this can’t be good for my writing. I say that like it’s a big fat maybe. No. It’s NOT good for my writing. For exactly the reasons I just wrote about. I would like to say I’m not as dumb as I seem. But at this moment, all evidence to the contrary.

I want so badly to express the dreamlike state where music takes me. Ozzy sings a line, “Swallowing the colors of the sounds I hear” and everyone assumes it’s drug-related. Okay, there’s a more than decent chance it is. But I can relate to that line without drugs. There is a texture to music. There are shapes. Colors.

You know that ridiculous game in which someone asks if you were on a deserted island, and could only take one album, which one would it be? Sometimes the gameshow host is more generous and offers up 3 or 5 albums. Either way… stupid stupid game. There’s no right answer. At least not for me. It’s the equivalent of someone asking, “Okay, you are only allowed to breathe for one hour each day. Which hour would it be?”

I’m sure I’ve admitted on here before (and maybe many times, so forgive me?) that I have never taken a single writing class. No formal education to speak of that would help me get my thoughts across. I want to be eloquent and precise in my description of all the facets of music that make me happy. THERE… right there. “Happy”. What a completely sad, useless little word. I want to use big, 7-syllable words to describe how my cells are dancing. How my skin is vibrating. How the insides of my bones feel like they are doing some therapeutic yoga-type stretching. My lungs expand. My internal organs are warm. My blood feels like honey. And my heart… I can feel it trying to match the beat.

I can’t tell you if it’s a specific instrument or voice or riff or arrangement. Sometimes it’s the entire song. Sometimes it’s a very tiny piece. There are songs sung by certain artists that don’t do a thing for me, but then someone else covers them and I’m a goner.

I was in love with Johnny Carson. He was probably my first crush (celebrity or otherwise). And Bette Midler was the last guest on his final show. It’s no secret that I’m also in love with her. She is me, only WAY more famous. She perched on the corner of his desk and sang “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).” There she was… a professional. A seasoned artist. But she felt the words as they passed from her lungs through her lips. They connected with her heart. And with Johnny’s heart. You could see it happen. The world saw it happen. And he began to cry. And then so did she. I have the recording. Just the audio. It begins with Johnny’s voice introducing Bette, and then she talks while the music starts . That’s usually as far as I get. I loved him. I love her. I loved the show. I adore the song. And yet, I cannot bring myself to listen to it. It is so sweet and painful, that even while typing this paragraph, I am crying.

Side bar: A couple weeks ago, Bette did an interview on one of the morning shows. I had just seen her (again) in “Hello Dolly”, and was excited to tune in. She was amazing, of course, but then mentioned the song, “Stardust”, and a specific lyric that really got her in the feels. She choked up badly while trying to explain. I understood as if she had spoken to me telepathically (no, I’m really not crazy), and the morning show host just moved along to the next subject. I knew the song. And I knew the version. A portion of it was featured in the movie, “Sleepless In Seattle”. It’s funny sometimes how emotions can come full circle without you even paying attention.

Here’s another example. When I was pregnant with Doofenshmirtz, I used to sing “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls at the top of my lungs. I was super emotional (pregnant, duh) and would typically cry while singing it. Later, while feeding her in her high chair, I began to sing it to her. Her face immediately puckered, and she began to cry. I assumed it was because my singing was so bad. After a while, I started to sing “Winnie The Pooh”, and she was fine. So I switched back to “Iris”, and she began to cry again. I changed to another kid song, and no tears. It was ONLY when I sang “Iris” that she welled up. I got the camcorder out and took a video of it. To this day, she still gets super emotional during portions of certain songs.

She recently texted me and asked if I could guess what her first song/memories were. I guessed five of them correctly. Iris, Slide, Strawberry Letter 23, Stairway to Heaven, and California Dreaming. These were the songs I sang to her at bedtime for the first 10 years of her life.

When Skotchdopole was growing up, we used to ride around in my Volkswagen VW Beetle and sing “California Dreaming”. We still think of each other every time that song comes on, as well as “Sweet Child Of Mine”.

I could connect countless dots of musical connections between me and friends.  So it makes me wonder, in a very “I wish I could articulate this better” kind of way… could music be our souls? I am sad that Tom Petty is gone, yet I listened to him sing just last week. His voice and music moved me in exactly the same way as before he left the earth. Actually, maybe (probably) more so. I can still tune in to Tom, Chris, Chester, Prince, David, Glenn, Michael, Aretha. They may have left, but their music remains. And it still has the same power it always did.

Oh, we hit a smooth patch and the flight attendants got all crazy and ran everyone’s drink to them. I am happy to discover that my whiskey and ginger is MOSTLY whiskey. I’m sure that’s because A) they don’t want to make another drink, because they assume they will be put in airplane time-out again, and/or B) they think it will help take the edge off all the nervous fliers. In any case, it seems to be working. I know *I* am a happier camper. And it gives me something to do when it’s just too bumpy to type (this is really insane turbulence. And not a cloud in the sky!).

So what was I saying? See? This is my problem.


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