Life Is But A Song

GettyImages-183850483-1--58b072ef3df78cdcd886ad57“The problem with reality is the lack of background music.”  Anon

Okay, maybe the title overstates it a wee bit, but let me ask a question. When you hear a song from the past, does it take you down memory lane? Can you picture exactly where you were or what you were doing when you first heard it? I thought so. That’s why, whether you rewind or forward, whether a song is happy or sad, music is the soundtrack of life. And life is what I need to focus on this week.

This weekend marks the 2nd anniversary of my music man’s death, and it would be all too easy to sing the blues. But knowing how adamant he was about not dwelling on the past or the negative, I’ll try to change the tune — without rewriting the song.

I can still hear my high school friend, Patty, and I loudly singing “He’s so fine, wish he was mine . . . doo lang, doo lang, doo lang” for whichever awkward heartthrob we pined for at the moment. My single days saw me rocking with gusto and gal pals to my fave, Don Henley’s song “All She wants to do is Dance”. Through the years there were many “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” and though I wasn’t “Desperado” to jump into marriage again, someone snuck in who loved music as much as I do. And though I was more the lyrics fanatic, and he was more the singer of them, we both had music in the blood and we blissfully sung our hearts out. Maybe that’s why we never saw the train coming, but that was just as well. From opening night on, our bittersweet musical needed all the harmony we could muster.

“Once there was a time, like no other time before, hope was still an open door”  Jekyll & Hyde

Hearing music in everything is what helps get you through all the times of your life, no matter how the rhythm changes. It can calm anxiety, help lull you to sleep, express feelings and fuel creativity. Like music, life is a series of high and low notes and it needs both to be complete. Song reflects the times of your life and give them context. The songs that have touched me most, the music that made me dance, cry and sing, they are the playlist of my life.

Didn’t we come together, didn’t we live together
Didn’t we cry together
Didn’t we play together, didn’t we love together
And together we lit up the world
Now and Forever – Carole King

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Across the GREAT Divide

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History is a funny thing. Depending on the glasses it’s viewed with, the past is either chock full of not so great things or colored with a romantically soft blur. Me? I think it’s a little of both. History is life, with all its ups and downs, no matter how we’d like to retouch it. Graphic designers like me are cool with that kind of artistic license but history needs no retouched brand marketing. It is what it is.

The words ‘great again’ in relation to America have now become part of our daily lexicon. They are heard nearly every day and are pretty much guaranteed to echo through the next few years whether with hope or huh?  They are meant to be a bold yet nostalgic rallying cry. Each time I hear the phrase I find myself scratching my head. I can’t seem to nail down the period in history when our American lives were perfect enough, great enough for an encore.

If a handy time machine could transport us to the past, where exactly would we land? What era would our GPS point to? Would we be whisked back to the time we helped our entitled selves to the land of the true Native Americans, elbowing them out of the way? Or when we bought, sold, traded slaves to build a spanking new country where WE could be free? Maybe it was those scary days when we were kids and the Cold War sent us scurrying beneath our desks. Those good ol’ days also included ‘colored’ drinking fountains, gays who were forced to remain in the closet – and women in the kitchen.

I’m in advertising. I know snappy taglines sell things but I’m just having a problem wrapping my head around a ‘great again’ marketing slogan. I can’t seem to pinpoint the glorious golden age when all, regardless of color or gender were peaceful and happy.  Is our country truly great? You bet. But in a country of more than 318 million people of every diversity, having ups and downs, even in a single day, is part of the deal. It doesn’t make us less great; it makes great more fluid.

I’m old enough (not ancient, mind you) to have lived through several wars, from Vietnam and the Gulf War to Iran and Iraq. Living in a different time and different skin, I never experienced Jim Crow laws that brutalized a whole portion of our fellow Americans. They were the citizens sent to the back of the bus, and denied use of the same restrooms and drinking fountains as their white neighbors. As a woman, I was lucky enough not to have lived in a time when I couldn’t vote because of my ‘weaker’ sex. I was a young mom by the time Roe vs Wade signaled the end of back-alley abortions and same sex relations were taken off the list of criminal offenses. Our land of opportunity didn’t always gift those opportunities to everyone. For many — it still doesn’t. Continue reading

#reality check

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Once upon a time, I was a flirty, social butterfly. Yeah, I can hardly picture it either. But back in the day, Saturday nights rarely found me at home. In that seemingly ancient time, I was post-nesting mama of three — and pre-married again. Happy wanderlust and a dancing queen persona was the fallout of sudden singlehood and ended when a really neat guy succeeded in, once again, getting me to the altar. When your nearly perfect match shows up with love as a big as an ocean liner, you say yes – and never look back.

But in a way, I was back – into the world of couple dinners, grandparental team babysitting nights, movies for four and parties for many and I was more than happy. I never really was the blithe divorcee anyway. (‘blithe’…seriously?) I had returned to where I began, peacefully curled up with hubby at home. And I was content.

That’s not to say I didn’t yearn for a night alone sometimes. Oh, there were dinners with a girlfriend or an adult ed class but I admit I did look forward to the occasional business trip that left me solo for a night or two. Having our own business, I could probably count on one hand when that actually happened. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my guy madly and when he was AWOL for a night, I missed him next to me. Still, those few nights I was a loner I ate what he hated, coveted the remote and happily watched chick flicks. Now every night is single night and whatever enthusiasm it used to hold, left the building when he did. They always say, ‘be careful what you pray for….’ Duh. Continue reading