Interstate and iTunes: A Memory Resurfaces

 

I made the switch from Droid to iPhone with my last contract upgrade, and have been an overly enthusiastic johnny-come-lately to the world of itunes. Ok, who am I kidding? I’m overly enthusiastic about most things. This itunes thing, though. WHOA! How cool is THIS? I can download song after song, and share it on all my apple devices! My favorite feature, by far, is the iTunes radio—specifically the Disney radio channel. Those who know me (or have read me) know that I have a love for Disney musicals that is rivaled only slightly by my love for Christmas music. Wow. That sentence just up the ante on my nerd value. Despite the increased nerd wattage, I’ve been listening to the Disney Radio Station with my kids (and maybe without them.) We’ve rocked car dance parties and after school sing-a-longs to some of my favorite childhood memories and new Disney soundtrack favorites. “Supercalifragilisticegspealidocious,” “Bear Necessities,” “Whistle While you Work,” “You Ain’t Never had a Friend Like Me,” “Be Our Guest,” “Hakuna Matata,” “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” and countless others. We love them all.

OK, so not all of them. I skip all the High School Musical/Camp Rock/Phineas and Ferb nonsense. Just give me the Disney movie musicals, please and thank you.

Today, while I was Nashville bound on I-24 with my little boy in tow, a funny thing happened to me . He and I had just finished a rousing dance party number “When Can I See You Again?” from Wreck it Ralph, when the next song brought to surface for me a memory I had all but forgotten.

Many years earlier, I was traveling down the same stretch of interstate on a big, yellow school bus. We were on a field trip to see the Sam Davis Home, and I was feeling a self-imposed loneliness and artistic melancholy—think Aly Sheedy’s Breakfast club character, only in 4th grade. I remember feeling the cool glass of the rectangle shaped window on my forehead as I lay pitifully against it. I was a total drama queen before being a drama queen was cool. Lost in my own thoughts, I began singing a low, mournful song. “So this is Love” from Cinderella. I know, I know, not exactly a dark, emotionally cutting tune, true—but it has these swooping “Mmmmmm’s” all through it that I was really feeling, you know? I sang it through maybe twice before another fourth grade body plopped itself down beside me.

“What’cha singing?”

Hello? Didn’t you hear me?

“So this is love”

“Don’t know it.”

Yeah, I wouldn’t expect you to. It’s from a musical!

“It’s from Cinderella.

“The band?”

“Band? What band? No…it’s… a movie.”

“Oh! Cinderella! HA! HA! Like the cartoon?”

I was red-faced with embarrassment and anger. Not only had I been called out for watching cartoons, but my favorite one had just been disparaged by a little girl in a Guns-N-Roses tee-shirt!

“You sing pretty, though.”

Well, at least her musical ear wasn’t that bad.

“Thanks.”

“You know any other songs?”

To this day, I can’t tell you why I said what I said next. Although, I’m sure something about my own superiority feeling threatened by a little girl wearing Axle Rose’s face on her chest had a thing or two to do with it.

“I write my own songs too.”

What? Why did I say that?

She lit up. “You do?! Sing me one!”

Crap.

Judging her (in more ways than one) by her shirt, I assessed quickly that she had zero knowledge of Tiffany’s album. You remember Tiffany, don’t you? The red-headed-mall-singer? “I think we’re alone now…” Yeah, her. I had the entire cassette tape memorized, so I began singing a bit of one of the deep tracks on it—one I was certain she had never heard.

“...and what do I do now with all this time?” I crooned “That’s all I’ve got so far.” I lied.

“That’s really good! Have you written any more?”

Again, I have no idea why I felt so against the commandment about bearing false witness, but another lying fit seized me before I could stop it. “I’ve actually been thinking about a few lines earlier. Man!” I lamented, “I wish I had a pencil and paper.”

She stood up abruptly and asked everyone on the bus, “ANYONE GOT A PENCIL AND PAPER? SHARON’S GONNA WRITE US A SONG!”

Oh, Jesus! Crap, that’s two commandments in one day. Here’s hoping I don’t see my neighbor’s ass.

She procured a pencil and a few torn pages of paper ripped, no doubt, from a unicorn covered Lisa Frank spiral notebook; then handed both to me while smiling widely. “Here ya go! Now, write!”

I took them and told her seriously and with adult-like weight, “I’ll need a minute.”

She went back to her original seat, and left me to my creative devices. The trouble was, I didn’t have any creative devices! I quickly thought of all the songs that I knew that she certainly didn’t—and not just her, she was telling the entire 4th grade that I was a songwriter! I quickly pieced together some Karen Carpenter, Mama’s and Papas, 40’s big band, and southern gospel lyrics in a cross-genre Frankenstein of a song. I even included some of those “Mmmmmms” I loved so much in the Cinderella tune.

“We’re almost back at school, you got it wrote yet?”

“Some of it.”

“Good. I asked the teachers if you could sing it for us when we get back in the classroom! Yay!”

Kill me. Kill me now.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I mean I’m really private about my music.” God help me, I think I may have even flipped my hair over my shoulder when I said this.

“Oh..ok..that’s cool. Well, Just sing it to me then?”

I cleared my throat and picked another Tiffany tune to stick the patch-worked lyrics to and sold it as best as I could with many closed-eyed-head-sways to the music.

“You’re gonna grow up and be famous, you know that?” She brightened. “Hey, can I have this? You could sign it, and I’ll keep it—someday it’ll be worth something.”

I happily obliged and signed my very first autograph. (three more followed in my illustrious vocal career.)

I had a good laugh at myself today when that memory came flooding back to me—in technicolor–with Disney music playing on top of my interstate view. I can’t believe I was ever that sophomoric and high and mighty. I feel bad about this, but I can’t help but wonder how long she kept that craptastic song I “wrote.” I wish I could see it again—hell, I could even record it and sell it on itunes. I just wonder what genre channel it would go on.

 

 

Thirty (gulp!) Five!!!

I’m slightly freaked out.

Ok, so it’s more like I’m freaked out in an overreaction that presents itself in a melodramatic show of: wailing and gnashing of teeth, listening to sad music for emotional cutting purposes, and gorging myself on chocolate, cookie dough ice cream, and copious amounts of homemade wine.

I’m (gasp!) turning 35 in just over a month.

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiiillllllll!!!

To be stereotypical as possible– How did this happen? How am I this old?

I burst into tears today while doing laundry; grieving over the passing of my youth, I imagine.

I’ve got crow’s feet and white hair.

My cheek isn’t as high as it used to be.

My tits certainly aren’t where they used to be.

My ass never really has been what I wanted it to be.

Bottom line, I can tell that my looks are fading, and I’m taking the loss of them terribly hard.

This shock and sadness over my appearance solidifies what I’ve been adamantly denying for years. Admitting it is the first step, so here we go, folks…

I’m superficial and vain.

That song IS about me.

Although I’ve never been what some would call a “real beauty,” like Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Aniston, or Ingrid Bergman; with the right makeup, lighting, and Instagram filter, I can hold my own.

I was a late bloomer though. In high school, I was a dorky girl with a flannel shirt ’round my waist and wild Alanis Morissette hair–because middle-of-nowhere-Tennessee is exactly the place for the 90’s grunge look, right?
Wild hair coupled with an outrageous wardrobe that was equal parts thrift store and hand me downs pretty much nailed down my role as the token teenage misanthrope. I never felt pretty in high school, not even at my prom.

So naturally I tried to reinvent myself in college as a pretty and preppy sorority girl.
There were two problems, though: 1. The sorority I joined was full of rabble rousing girls who cared more about having good times than being the cutest group of girls on campus. (and boy, did we had some good times, folks…whew!) And 2. It was the late 90’s when wearing baggy overalls and an Old Navy tee was considered being “cute.”

Thank God for Sex and the City and In Style magazine! I suddenly became aware of haute couture, dressing for my body type, how to tame my Alanis mane, and the right way to apply make up.

I was 20, and feeling pretty for the first time!

I felt pretty confident most of the time during my early 20’s–especially when walking arm-in-arm with my two girlfriends who were taller than my own 5’9″ frame. We’d wear four inch stilettos and own any bar we walked into. Ah, those glorious 20’s! With all the cat calls and wolf whistles, I’d forgotten there was ever a time when I felt less than beautiful.

I rode this wave of beauty for more than a decade; navigating two pregnancies and the coinciding yo-yo weight with clothing savvy to minimize the flaws in my appearance.

Stacey and Clinton would’ve been so proud.

This upcoming birthday, though is messing with my head like a philosophy professor.
I’m actually seeing the bloom fading before my eyes…

Waaaaaaaaaiiiiillllll again!!!!!!

I decided to do something daring, adventurous, and Sex and the City inspired.

I had boudoir and nudie pictures taken.

Oh yes, I did.

Now, dear readers, there is photographic evidence that I once was pretty.

I know that real beauty is on the inside. It’s in the way mothers love their children. It’s in the way girlfriends are always there for one another. It’s in the tears you cry when you’re moved with overwhelming compassion for a stranger. It’s the sweat on your brow as you prepare a big Sunday afternoon feast for your family. It’s the light in your eyes when you laugh.

I know all of these things.

But that doesn’t make the onset of middle age any easier.

This does.

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Photo by: Emily Ann Hill Photography.