Category Archives: Relationships

2016: A Spaced Elegy

So many low points.

So many illnesses, deaths, heartaches, heartbreaks and stabs to my soul. So many slaps across the face, tears in their wake, shouts thrown into the night. A few bad decisions, a few good ones that turned out to be bad, and a few too many days alone… that was 2016.

Eff off, 2016.

Eff off, 2016.

But I don’t want to talk about those, as I’m not even close to alone on that. Most people appear to have had a shite 2016. Most people were so glad that the calendar turned to 2017 that they expected some sort of magic moment on Jan. 1, like they’d turn on their phones and all the pains and woes of the world would have been eradicated by Prince and David Bowie, who came back to fix the world aboard the Resurrectium Falcon piloted by Carrie Fisher with Leon Russell riding shotgun.

They expected Donald Trump to tweet something benevolent on New Year’s Day. WRONG.

They expected all 25 pounds they’ve gained to just magically shake off Sunday morning.

They expected their wishes — people to grow a soul and do the right thing – would come true.

Reminds me of that horrible phrase my stepdad used (may he rest in peace… thanks 2016) – “wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up fastest.”

So yeah, let’s leave the wishes in the dust. Let’s leave 2016 in the dust too, but first, the miracles of 2016… yes, they were there, just fewer and far between.

mountaopI climbed this mountain this year. My heart was broken, wrung out, on the 60-day DL for repeated fractures. I wanted to see Dr. James Andrews and have him put me on the exempt list. (Sports humor, y’all…)

It was the first warmish day of an incredibly long, warm , beautiful Connecticut summer, and I climbed this mountain. Me, who used to weigh 315 pounds. Me, who had never shown much interest in hiking before… me, who found that it was life-saving.

Me, who a few months before was in “the best relationship of my life” only to have it disappear in a few short months. Me, who had it “all together.” I was not OK on that mountain that day, not on the inside.

But I was much better when I left. After I had gotten to the top, laid down and spaced out for an hour or so, listening to the world teach me lesson after lesson, dripping with the time-honed wisdom of the trees and breeze.

I had a staredown with a buck, keeping my quiet while he and a fawn behind him traipsed through low underbrush.

buckstaredownI watched as tender new June leaves danced in the intense mountaintop wind, and as the sun beat down on glittering quartz-filled rocks. I heard crows everywhere – Connecticut is home to enormous, beautiful crows – and the warblers were out at every treetop. Mountain laurel was blooming and the forest floor carpeted with moss and new grass. But the higher I got up the mountain, the quieter it got and the flora and fauna more scarce. It also got more peaceful. A peace I’d never really felt.

I lay on that mountainside and felt the elements underneath me and around me. I felt the heat of the rocks below me. I gazed into the abyss and realized how close I could be to violent death should I amble too far and tumble off. I nearly fell asleep in the peace, though my heart was racing. I looked up at the brilliant sky and I cried out at the top of my lungs, saying aloud to everything that could hear: “THANK YOU.” I meant it. I still do.

ontopofoldsmokyThe mountaintop brings gratefulness. I had to climb it to find that out. And though I’m not anywhere near fitness perfection, I’ve climbed two mountains in my short hiking career, and multiple trails have welcomed me for their miles of glory. I have come to find solace and strength in the quiet brilliance of a mountain trail, and I don’t question anymore why that is – especially after that day.

I was broken. Broken by a man who I still don’t understand, and probably never will. Broken by life and its many foibles. Broken by death, grief and misunderstanding. I was fixed when I came down the mountain. I’d be dinged again later, but at that moment, I was OK. I spent the weekend camping and the rest of the summer planning to do what would make me happy.

Maddie. My heart.

Maddie. My heart.

Part of that happiness, I didn’t realize, would be adding to my family in the form of Maddie, my senior citizen Golden Retriever who makes me so very happy. Going to get her was an adventure – a first date (and there would be no second) in the car to gather her up from Maryland. Once she was in the car, it’s like the guy didn’t exist. Kevin Durant left the Thunder the next day and all I could think about was the joyful red girl lying on my living room floor. She’s been about the best thing to happen to me in a long time. And her owners wanted her to be put down. How lucky can I be?

So a few months later, I moved to a place that’s not far from the mountain I hiked that day – Washington, Ct. – to be closer to nature and the people who appreciate it. I am a mile from hiking now, living in a tiny village with real people who do real things and make real memories.  There are family farms out here that are 300 years old. There are places I can walk in, pick up fresh produce and leave cash in an “honesty basket” without ever seeing the farmers. There are memories to be made here by the boatload, and I will make them, I can tell. It was a whim that I moved here, but it was rooted in a need to be where the peace is. I felt something, and I don’t think I’ll be leaving here anytime soon.

I went to LA to hang with Renae for her 40th birthday. We also went to the first Rams preseason game... or should I say, the first DAK PRESCOTT GAME!

I went to LA to hang with Renae for her 40th birthday. We also went to the first Rams preseason game… or should I say, the first DAK PRESCOTT GAME!

I traveled a ton this year as well… and realized that city life is just what I have to tolerate when I travel. I spent a few days in Nashville (sick) to cover the SEC Tournament in March, and then spent several at Disney World (sick) with people I love. I took two trips to Oklahoma and Texas (sick), went to Los Angeles (healthy, but exhausted) to celebrate my BFF’s birthday, and finally moved out to where I really wanted to be (and got sick almost immediately. For two weeks.) Since I’ve moved out here, traveling is about the last thing I want to do. Long weekends at home are spent, with me hardly ever leaving, and not feeling like I’ve missed out.

I spent quality time with family and friends, and have already had my parental figures, one sister and one brother over to the new house. Considering I live far away from everyone, that’s a big thing. This year, I’ll spend more time with friends, if I can pull myself away from my haven out here.

Oh, and I should mention — my career, bracing for all the change of the coming wave of technology — is ever-changing, as usual,but still one of the most important things ever for me. I’m just glad that I now have something that can shut off the work voice on my way home — my new scenery. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still count my lucky stars and pinch myself every now and again. FIVE YEARS AT ESPN. What the hell.

So yeah, the year that started off beautifully quickly landed in a heap on the ground — wings broken off, smoke and ash blocking the fresh air and taking hunks of my humanity with it. But I rebounded. I made some mistakes along the way, I said some things I shouldn’t have, and I spent a few months in a dark place. But it went away. And now there is light. There may be no answers for why it went the way it did, but I’m not going to worry about that anymore. Not everything has a reason. Sometimes, life is just bullshit.

But you gotta find a trail to get over the mountain of bullshit to get to the mountain of peace. It’s there. Just look.

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Filed under Birds!, Connecticut, Hiking, Kevin Durant, Love, Moving, NBA, Personal musings, Politics?, Relationships, Sports, Thunder, Women

Watching the birds (and wheels): John Lennon’s lessons are alive and well

Ringo may be my favorite Beatle – but only because he’s an underdog, and I always support underdogs.

But let’s be honest here… John is really, truly my favorite.

That’s because I’ve always wanted to be like Mr. Lennon. Our birthdays are a few days (and 30 or so years) apart, and that may have something to do with it.

Lennon’s vision of peace, love, understanding and doing what you want with your life has always emboldened me, made me feel like I wasn’t alone for being this big ol’ sap with a bit of a revolutionary bent and a romantic heart the size of the Harlequin library.

In times like our current political climate, I wish John was here. I wish he could put into beautiful words and music what we’re all going through – and urge us to give peace a chance. Because, let’s face it – that’s what we should be after. We should be encouraging that in all walking facets of life, not just looking for our side to win.

But politics is not why I decided to write today.

It’s another John Lennon song that has my attention today, and it’s helped me get through some stuff in the past:

I feel like I’ve reached this point in my life. As I sit here on a fairly gorgeous fall day in my little mountain town, I’m thoroughly happy watching the birds at my feeder. All different types have made my backyard home, with a few more babies coming each day. Tiny tufted titmice, charming little chickadees, bodacious blue jays, charismatic cardinals and nutty nuthatch (they eat upside down from the feeder and kind of bob-and-weave when they fly. They’re hilarious.) New to the party are the glorious goldfinch (wearing fall brown), brown-headed cowbirds, a Carolina wren who lives in the pocket of a huge maple, and the various and sundry sparrows that dot this canvas. Oh, and of course the ever-present mourning doves, who strut around looking for seed on the ground (I wrote a short song with that exact line in it a few months ago. I’m weird, OK?)

I have other things I should be doing, but I don’t. I agonize over that. That’s a point John makes in this song –

“People say I’m lazy

Dreaming my life away

Well they give me all kinds of advice

Designed to enlighten me

When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall

“Don’t you miss the big time boy, you’re no longer on the ball?”

That passage could be applied to many parts of my life. Don’t you miss the city? Don’t you miss the easy commute? Don’t you miss dating and grocery stores that stay open past 6 p.m.?

Not yet. (Maybe never on the dating, but alas.) But again, I’m still getting used to it, and I find myself wondering WHY I don’t miss those things. Is there something wrong with me? How can such a social person enjoy hermitude so much?

Well, how could John Lennon give everything up for Yoko? How could he walk away from the most famous band of all time?

I’m sure he agonized, just like me, and I’m sure writing “Watching The Wheels” was kind of a protest of that agony. But I know – because he’s a self-doubting, balancing-act Libra – that he did agonize.

I enjoy loud craziness. I enjoy people. But in my home, I could sit for hours just looking out a window, alone, not really thinking about anything at all.

But then the chores pile up and I call myself names.

Why?

Because I’m not listening to THIS LINE enough:

“I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round

I really love to watch them roll

No longer riding on the merry-go-round

I just had to let it go…”

I hereby would like this to serve as an attempt at “letting it go.” I would really rather not brutalize myself for enjoying my life instead of folding clothes. And as a Libra (I don’t know how much I believe in all this stuff, but I am a textbook Libra) I must balance. I must make time for folding clothes or else I will feel like a failure.

But not when there are five birds at the feeder, taking turns eating the high-quality seed I put out for them. Order. Kindness. Patience. All on winged display.

They’re so beautiful. Most of them don’t fight with each other, though I did just watch a male and female cardinal chase each other around. They just exist. I NEED to see this.

We all should. Why am I kicking myself for being lost in a moment?

John wouldn’t let me, that’s for sure.

“People asking questions lost in confusion

Well I tell them there’s no problem

Only solutions

Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind

I tell them there’s no hurry…

I’m just sitting here doing time…”

Doing time. Balancing. Watching the nutty nuthatch scamper upside-down down that same tree where the wren lives. Wondering how he keeps his balance. Wondering where they nest. Hoping I see it someday, but not feeling like a failure if I don’t.

From my little writing/birdwatching nook (some folks call it a dining room, but not me!) I am decompressing. Learning, though in a different way. This is what I came out here for.

I am done agonizing over why I enjoy it.

So back to the beginning – literally. The first verse of the song would have been enough:

“People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing

Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin

When I say that I’m o.k. they look at me kind of strange

Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game…”

 

Thank you, John. I’m no longer riding on the merry-go-round. At least for today. Balance and all…

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This one goes to 11: Songs that got me through an honest-to-God rough patch

Stop me if you’ve heard this, but I went through a breakup recently. It was the first one in many years, and it was an intense relationship, so I wasn’t prepared for the emotional folly that followed. Let’s just say that it didn’t end well, and, truth be told, I never actually HEARD from my ex – he just sort of disappeared, but left me with the blame. Yay! Nothing like wading into the waters and meeting a cowardly ghost-shark first thing.

No big deal, really – I should be thankful it’s over. And despite his sharkness, I’m not afraid of the water. But it took me a lot longer to get over than I expected. I think it’s mostly because A) I’m a  journalist, and if you leave me with a thousand questions, I almost can’t recover; and B) I’m an ENFP personality type, and leaving one of us in the lurch with no closure or comeuppance is almost life-threatening.

20160228_142849

On a recent hike I took… I’m fine now, I swear. Hiking was also huge in getting over a lot of shite.

Couple that breakup with several rounds of sickness, the death of my stepfather and lots of traveling, and you have kind of a delayed response to “just getting the hell over it.” But the breakup – that was the biggest bee in my bonnet. It hurt. Like hell. Still does. Just less sharp, more dull now. Much easier to tolerate.

And as usual, my friends and family came through for me. As usual, my team of sisters and one brother, my parental units, my BFFs, co-worker BFFs, my cats, my backyard birds and the voice of my mother got me through it. As usual, I chose the wrong person – but hopefully there’s an end to that someday. Lord knows I haven’t been in a big hurry to return to the dating world. Not that I haven’t had offers, but every time I think I want to accept, I just haven’t. Not because I want The Jerk back, but because I don’t want to pick The Jerk again, ya know? “We won’t get fooled again” or something.

Anyway— I am especially thankful for another group of friends who helped me through one of the more awful periods of my life – my musical BFFs. In these last few months, my tastes have been all over the place. I didn’t listen to any love songs at all for the first two months — just hardcore rap, smooth hip-hop and “why don’t you just go ahead and get eaten by a bear” songs. This is a departure for a hardcore optimist like me. I kind of hated it, but I also knew it was necessary.

Some true winners emerged from that dark time, and I want to address them here.

  1. Beast, “Mr. Hurricane.”

I heard this song one morning right after the breakup. I was walking into work, sunglasses on to hide my sleepless eyes, trying to look happy and optimistic. Faking it. Completely and totally faking it – because inside I was so confused, hurt and angry, and wanted to run away from it all. I wanted answers, but my pride (and the voice of my mom from beyond the grave, not to mention all my family/friends) stopped me from calling him to get the answers, which probably wouldn’t have helped my anyway.

I was so overcome by the lyrics, I went back to my car and listened to the song on full volume. I cried. I screamed. Security was NOT called (thankfully). But, just like everyone going through a breakup or new love situation, you think the lyrics are written FOR YOU. It spoke to me. It was a big first step to healing.

“I stopped bein’ the victim

But you weren’t there to see

I never felt bitter

Till you crippled me

I felt like a refugee from the pain

I had to wear that shroud with no shame

Deceit and lies

Were your crying game

I never fell in love so deeply in vain

So I stay a while

Knife in my side

While I slowly died

Defeat from the inside

Now I scream ’til the end of the day

Never again, Mr. Hurricane”

2. Personality Crisis, New York Dolls

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. There was something magical that happened the day this song came on. It was like a life raft. It was music to my hears. (Yes, that was on purpose). Punk music in all its iterations is usually very “fuck you”-centric, and this one is no exception. And since I’m convinced that a personality crisis led to some of homeboy’s issues, it was perfect. I have since listened to this about 3 billion times. One day it’s all I listened to – over and over and over again. Perfection. Yes, I kinda lost my mind there for a bit. I don’t think most people would blame me.

“And you’re a prima ballerina on a spring afternoon

Change on into the wolfman, howlin’ at the moon, hooowww

All about that personality crisis you got it while it was hot

But now frustration and heartache is what you got…”

3. Bad Blood, Taylor Swift

Points if you knew Tay-Tay would be on this list… she was made for breakups. I get that now. Immediately after it happened, I had to go to Oklahoma for my stepdad’s funeral. (Of course it all happened at the same time!) So I downloaded a bunch of Taylor that I could listen to on the plane and try to make sense of what the hell had just happened to me. It helped, this song especially. I wanted to have one of those scenes like from a movie – I wanted to get up and sing it to the rest of the passengers, and have them sing the chorus and chant “HE’S AN ASSHOLE (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)… I wanted an audience to feel what I’d been through — me and Taylor – and it was somehow very soothing. I love you, Ms. Swift. Forever. Thank you for writing what we all feel. (And of COURSE “Shake it Off” was listened to on repeat. The whole 1989 album, really – just this one, I feel like I finally GOT, ya know?)

“Did you have to do this? I was thinking that you could be trusted

Did you have to ruin what was shiny? Now it’s all rusted

Did you have to hit me, where I’m weak? Baby, I couldn’t breathe

And rub it in so deep, salt in the wound like you’re laughing right at me…”

4. No Chump Love Sucker, Red Hot Chili Peppers

A song of immense pride mixed with a healthy dose of hurt. Written from a male perspective, of course, but just perfect when you’re FURIOUS. I heard this one day and basically trashed my office jumping around, throwing things (like boxes of Kleenex, nothing damaging) and scaring my cats. Looking back, I wish I’d videotaped that. Good times.

“I’m through with your bluefish

I’m through with your gash

I’m through being screwed with

By you and your whack attack

5. Eazy-Duz-It, Eazy-E

This unfortunate time coincided with me watching “Straight Outta Compton,” which was also kind of a rebellion, as he didn’t see the need to watch the movie because “he lived it.” OK. I think you missed the point of biopics and are just attempting to sound like a tough guy, but whatevs.

So after watching the movie, I was like “THIS IS WHAT I NEED.” Angry music that has nothing to do with love. Angry political music. Real people music. It led to my mind being kind of steered back to more important things, and I immersed myself in old-school rap of all sorts afterward.

Who knew Slick Rick, NWA, Public Enemy and the like could be so soothing.

“Rolling through the hood, cold tearing shit up

Stick my head out the window and I say what’s up

To the (omitted) on the corner cold bumping the box

But you know that’s an alibi for slanging the rocks…”

  1. Beyonce, “Sorry.”

This is a more recent addition, and damn I wish I’d heard it sooner. It would have been No. 1 on this list. It could have been so good for me. But I got it a few weeks ago, and it still works. I don’t care if this whole Bey-Jay thing is fake beef or not. It’s powerful, and it’s meaningful, and most people can relate. Most women, for sure. When I listened to the lyrics to this song, I felt BETTER. And I do every time I hear it. Thank you, Beyonce, for being strong. Even if it’s not real. Also, I want to be Serena when I grow up and I so wish I was on this bus with these beautiful women. They look like they’re having fun and I NEED FUN! 🙂

“Middle fingers up, put them hands high

Wave it in his face, tell him, BOY, BYE

Tell him, boy, bye, middle fingers up

I ain’t thinking ’bout you…”

  1. Fuel My Fire, The Prodigy

This one has gotten me through a few breakups. This one was no different. Pure bitterness with a great beat. Also an awesome song to take with you on the elliptical machine, when you’re running on pure fury and pain. And yes, L7 wrote it—but this version is better, I think.

“I’ve got a word of thanks

that I’d like to say

for the way that I feel today.

Got stacks, got stacks

stacks of chips on my shoulder

in everything I do cuz I made, I made

I made the mistake … the mistake of trusting you

Yeah, people like you just fuel my fire

Yeah, people like you just do

You liar… You liaaaaar”

  1. For the Time Being, Edie Brickell

After a dressing-down I received at the hands of a friend of the ex – to which I never responded, because it was all lies and bullshit anyway, and why engage? – I heard this randomly. I’ve liked the song since I saw the movie “The Way Way Back.” But it fit the moment well. And still makes me laugh when I hear it. The impassioned response I got was, looking back, pretty hilarious. (But again, I never heard from him, just her.) There’s so much more to this story, but I learned my lesson about blogging unhinged.

“It must be nice to be full of good advice to say

It must be sweet, but I’ll call you if I need it

I’m doing alright for the time,

Fine for the time being

I’ll need professional help if it does get any worse than this

I’ll be out on a ledge if it does get any worse than this

I’m doing alright for the time,

Fine for the time being

You think you know me well

You think you know me well

But you don’t know me at all.”

9. Bulletproof Soul, Sade

Ms. Adu has been a part of my life since I was a wee tot. The album “Love Deluxe” is still in my top 10. This song developed new meaning for me, 25 years or so after I’d first heard it. I was still really hurting and listening to a lot of mopey stuff. This came on one day and it was like that beautiful woman was sitting next to me, patting my hair, singing soft words of encouragement. I love you, Sade, you brilliant badass beauty. And I DID leave like a lion, TYVM!

“You were trigger happy baby

You never warned me let me free

It’s not that complicated

But you’re going to need a bullet proof soul

Think you got it but you got all the trouble you need

I came in like a lamb

But I intend to leave like a lion.”

10. Electric Relaxation, A Tribe Called Quest

Coinciding with this terrible time in my life were the deaths of some of my favorite musicians – David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Merle Haggard, and of course, Prince. But Tribe was there for me during all this. Well before the breakup, I’d been on a huge Tribe kick. For the last year or so, it’s been on a regular rotation. The smooth, relaxing beats were medicine to me during the hard times. Dawg’s death just led me to listen to them more. It took my mind off the bitterness and gave it room to explore. It gave my brain a reprieve. And the joy – the pure, simple, melodic joy that is this song – was the best thing for me. I thank Tribe so much for this. Tribe made me chill the fuck out. Tribe led to peace. RIP, Phife.

“Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down

Stretch out your legs, let me make you bawl

Drive you insane, drive you up the wall

Staring at your dome-piece, very strong

Stronger than pride, stronger than Teflon…”

  1. 28,000 Days, Alicia Keys

I heard this in a commercial or something while I was working the SEC Tournament in Nashville. I fell in love instantaneously. It was like a lifeline. Like Alicia was shouting “HEY STUPID, GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER!”

I had a one-day hotel stay at the airport in Orlando after the tournament, then I would meet my Best Good Friend Renae and her son Oliver for our trip to Disney World. This was after a nine-day stretch of SEC tournament basketball and travel… a few weeks after all this mess.

That night, sick as a dog but somehow OK, I felt like myself again for the first time. I was excited about seeing my people, happy with how things had gone at the tournament, and not thinking about Mr. Hurricane. I danced around my hotel room, playing this song on my little iPad speakers, acting it out, flailing, being an idiot. I realized that life is, indeed, too short to just throw it away. I’ll leave that to him. He can be self-destructive as long as he wants. Thank God he didn’t pull me down with him. I swear to God this song fell into my lap at the exact right moment. God works in mysterious ways, huh?

“Back from hell with my angel wings

Ain’t no fear in my voice

Cause I’m making a choice

The devil ain’t no friend of me

And that clock on the wall is telling me

There’s only 28 thousand days

Who would you love? Where would you go?

What would you celebrate?

I’m telling you that life’s too short to just throw it away

So have the time of your life, so have the time of your life…”

And that’s what I intend to do from now on, Ms. Keys. Thank you.

 

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My ‘Seven Bridges Road’ weekend

‘Sometimes, there’s a part of me…
has to turn from here and go’ 

It was a dark time in my life on all fronts – love, friends, money, comfort – all of it seemingly gone. It was 2008-2010. Those years blend together for me as the worst of my life.

I lost friends, had no money, hadn’t found my strength yet – my job was tiring and thankless, my future dark and agonizing. I was a few years removed from my mother’s death, and still not OK with it (probably never will be). Friends I’d had for more than 20 years were falling by the wayside. Everyone I knew was getting married or in committed relationships, including my roommate, who moved out amid all this. He owed me tons of money, money I desperately needed to keep my house from being foreclosed on and my car from getting repossessed. I often wrote one check on payday to Reasor’s, the big grocery store chain in Oklahoma, writing the check as much over for cash as they’d allow. That way, I had food and a little bit of cash for whatever. I’d pay my bills after that, and usually, my money for those next two weeks would be gone.

I didn’t have money for going out much. Fortunately, I had a cool job that let me go to concerts for free sometimes. Or I’d get tickets to something through the newspaper or friends. Looking back, I got by on the kindness of strangers many times.

Near the beginning of my dark period, a messy relationship had ended, much to my angst and chagrin, and I just kind of gave up on everything. It’s like I went into hibernation for three years, only emerging to go to work or a Drillers baseball game (tickets were around $6 – good, cheap entertainment and usually cheap beer too… there was healing at those games too, but that’s another blog.)

But one weekend, after feeling like all I wanted to do was run away and join a band of itinerant welders, I had a bit of free cash and some credit left on plastic. So I rented a small travel-trailer in Tahlequah, my exodus spot for the last 25 years. I went alone and told no one I was going except my brother, who still lived in Tahlequah, should I need reinforcements or a bear-trapper. I made a CD, packed a notebook and books, and drove to Tahlequah for a secluded weekend – it was pre-summer, so no one was at the lodge where I stayed. I was hopeless, which was a new feeling for me.

But then I drove to Tahlequah.

I’m not going to say it was like some elixir that magically cured what ailed me. That took time. But that day – that trip down Highway 10, a sacred place in my heart – will stay with me forever. Now I know it was a trip filled with magic, one I reflect back on often.

That CD I’d burned was full of wistful, melodic masterpieces to make me think. I didn’t even know at that time what those songs would become in my heart – a lot of Jimmy Buffett, Beck, Jackie Wilson and one surprise song that I still believe has healing powers: “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles.

As I topped a big hill along Highway 10, the CD player in my Corolla ticked to that song. (I’m not a huge Eagles fan, but had realized I liked that song and included it on that mix for some reason.) It starts slowly: “There are stars in the southern sky…southward as you go.” Then that speedy acoustic guitar kicks in, and then Don Henley starts singing.

The money line for me is “Sometimes there’s a part of me… has to turn from here and go… Running like a child from these warm stars, down the Seven Bridges Road.”

That line played as I crested a final hill before Arrowhead Resort in Cherokee County. And it felt like God was patting me on the back. It felt like all the forces in the world were saying, “Welcome to the country. We’ve been waiting for you. Leave your sorrows on the shore and don’t bother to pick them up when you leave.”

That weekend, I listened to that song about 300 times. I stayed in my little travel-trailer and wrote hot garbage that I wouldn’t try to publish even if it meant $1 million guaranteed. (I hate my emo-laden writing. I feel like a wuss after I read it.) I cried, ate a lot, wallowed, rectified, rationalized, drank a lot, slept a lot – and listened to a ton of music, all looking for meaning.

I got over my pain and suffering on that Sunday. I left my BS on the shore, where it belonged. I returned to work on Monday, not completely healed, but wrung out. I felt stripped down, but ready to start building again.

It was the hardest three years of my life. And 2011 wasn’t that great either, but it was the year I finally got angry enough at my situation to look for something else. It was the year ESPN hired me and I loaded up the truck and moved to Bristol-eeeee…

But every time I hear that song now, like I did first thing this morning, I’m back in my Toyota, cresting that hill, listening to “Seven Bridges Road” like it was going to save my life.

I think, in a way, it did.

It will always be a favorite song. And that weekend, though I spent it alone and sad, was a time of great independence and healing – condensed to one weekend, of course. I don’t know why I need to go to the hills when my heart is lonely, but that Julie Andrews was on to something.

I’ve got other places here in Connecticut that fill the void of my nirvana in Cherokee County. The Farmington Trails are glorious, and even paved so I can ride my bike. But nothing can top that weekend in the boggy banks of the pre-summer Illinois River. I think my weekend alone was the beginning of my fearlessness period, one I hope I never exit.

Oh, and one more thing – I still hate “Hotel California.”

 

 

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Part 4: Hart Songs, The Revolutionary and The Sexy

Yeah, so the next part took some time to post. But I hope it’s worth the wait. I’d like to tell you I was out on adventures and that why I didn’t just post all this, but truthfully, I was just watching  lot of sports. And subsequently being very sad about sports. Still, Thunder Up, etc., Enjoy The Social Commentary and The Sexy, the final chapter of my emo blog series.

THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY

“Romeo Had Juliette,” Lou Reed

In what is a sort of love sonnet and social criticism of New York, Lou Reed’s album – aptly named “New York” – is a snapshot of a seedy side of the city, one that gets all the glamour headlines but whose dark side is ultimately more interesting and celebrated… there are several songs on this album that reflect the pre-9/11 New York, pre-Guiliani, pre-cleanup phase. It’s gorgeous… so much dirt and grime, shots and crime, all wrapped in a hairnet and spat out by one of the coolest people on the planet, Lou Reed. This song is revolutionary to me in a lot of ways because it’s a big Fuck You to The Man, but at its roots it’s  a love song… but just one that makes you want to fight.

I can’t pick out just one verse, so here they all are:

Caught between the twisted stars
the plotted lines the faulty map
that brought Columbus to New York
Betwixt between the East and West
he calls on her wearing a leather vest
the earth squeals and shudders to a halt
A diamond crucifix in his ear
is used to help ward off the fear
that he has left his soul in someone’s rented car
Inside his pants he hides a mop
to clean the mess that he has dropped
into the life of lithesome Juliette Bell
 
And Romeo wanted Juliette
and Juliette wanted Romeo
And Romeo wanted Juliette
and Juliette wanted Romeo
 
Romeo Rodriguez squares
his shoulders and curses Jesus
runs a comb through his black pony-tail
He’s thinking of his lonely room
the sink that by his bed gives off a stink
then smells her perfume in his eyes
And her voice was like a bell
 
Outside the street were steaming the crack
dealers were dreaming
of an Uzi someone had just scored
I betcha I could hit that light
with my one good arm behind my back
says little Joey Diaz
Brother give me another tote
those downtown hoods are no damn good
those Italians need a lesson to be taught
This cop who died in Harlem
you think they’d get the warnin’
I was dancing when his brains run out on the street
 
And Romeo had Juliette
and Juliette had her Romeo
And Romeo had Juliette
and Juliette had her Romeo
 
I’ll take Manhattan in a garbage bag
with Latin written on it that says
“it’s hard to give a shit these days”
Manhattan’s sinking like a rock
into the filthy Hudson what a shock
they wrote a book about it
they said it was like ancient Rome
 
The perfume burned his eyes
holding tightly to her thighs
And something flickered for a minute
and then it vanished and was gone
 

Black Gold,” Soul Asylum

This is not one of Soul Asylum’s hits, though they did have a video for it. And believe it or not, SA had a lot of good song before that horrible “Runaway Train” song that played relentlessly throughout most of the early 90s. For Pete’s sake – Dave Pirner is mentioned in a Liz Phair song, so you know they have to have some sort of coolness about them. “Black Gold” is a song that has a lot of meanings depending on who’s listening. Pirner said it was anti-war, Black Gold in this case meaning oil, but I take it differently. I love when a song can transcend it original meaning. The lyrics remind me of Muskogee, Oklahoma, where I grew up and experienced first-hand what racial violence can do to a town. So much hatred, so many fights and riots, so much stupid fear. I left Muskogee because of that shit.

Two boys on a playground
Tryin’ to push each other down
See the crowd gather ’round
Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowdBlack gold in a white plight
Won’t you fill up the tank, let’s go for a ride
I don’t care ’bout no wheelchair
I’ve got so much left to do with my life

Moving backwards through time
Never learn, never mind
That side’s yours, this side’s mine
Brother you ain’t my kind

You’re a black soldier, white fight
Won’t you fill up the tank, let’s go for a ride
Sure like to feel some pride
But this place just makes me feel sad inside

Mother, do you know where your kids are tonight?

Keeps the kids off the streets
Gives ’em something to do, something to eat
This spot was a playground
This flat land used to be a town

Black gold in a white plight
Won’t you fill up the tank, let’s go for a ride
Sure like to feel some pride
But this place just makes me feel sad inside

Black gold in a white plight
Won’t you fill up the tank, let’s go for a ride
I don’t care ’bout no wheelchair
I’ve got so much left to do with my life.”

 

Gets me every time – sadness for my hometown, revolutionary “We can make this world better” feelings, my civil rights gene… all activated and on high alert.

THE SEXY

To remain somewhat modest, I won’t go into a lot of detail here. These are the … ummm… loin-stirrers? Now I’m embarrassed. But you get it.

“Slow and Easy,” Whitesnake

There is not a sexier sound in the world than David Coverdale saying “To the Bone.”

“Nasty Girl,” Vanity

Before she went uber-Christian, Vanity wrote a dirty lil’ ditty that is just … good n’ sexy.

“Naughty Girl,” Beyonce

… And Beyonce, uber-sexy just singing “Happy Birthday,” countered Vanity with a modern version.

Love Interruption,” Jack White

Jack White, he of the tortured sexiness, nails it (wow) in this one. He makes the list with a lot of other songs (“Ball and a Biscuit,” “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” ) but this one is just pure sexiness. And I’m not sure why I find him so attractive. I think it’s his talent.

“All Night Thing,” Temple of the Dog

I had some impure thoughts about Chris Cornell. Then someone told me I looked like him. That kinda broke my mind.

“Say Goodbye,” Dave Matthews

Listen to the lyrics of this song. And if you haven’t lived this moment, you don’t get it. If you have, you want to call up that person and demand a repeat performance. Sheesh.

“Love Trilogy,” Red Hot Chili Peppers

I loathe new RHCP. LOATHE it. But their first three-ish albums were just great, and this little sexy gem is off “Uplift Mofo Party Plan.” The meter of the song is why it’s sexy – and the lyrics, of course – but the – ahem – climax – of the song really explain its meaning.

“The Right Thing,” Simply Red

I had no idea this song was so perverse until I read the lyrics. I’ve always loved it, but wow – it’s kinda dirty. In a good way.

OK, that’s it, until I have another day of emo or crazy emotion. Thanks for reading, and share what y0ur emotional songs are with me and why. That shit fascinates me.

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Hart Songs: Part 3, Soul-Stirring

I vowed yesterday — no more sadness. So here we go, no sad tears, only thoughtful reflections (I don’t mean to sound like a crazy new-age hippie. I eat meat and go to Target and love shopping and technology, so you know that ain’t me.) But because I’m a writer first, I’m always extrapolating concepts from songs, TV, movies, everyday conversation, looking for meaning, even when it’s not there. OK, a lot of when it’s not there. It’s a strange kind of narcissism, I guess, to try to insert yourself into everything. But alas, I can’t do anything about it but accept it. And say thanks for the songs that really GRAB me. There are many — a lot of which I can’t explain, like the entire Tripping Daisy album “I Am An Elastic Firecracker.” But here are three that come to mind…

Oh, and to recap, this is part 3 of a blog series about songs that elicit emotion. Blah blah blah.

THE SOUL-STIRRING

 “This Is It (Your Soul), Hothouse Flowers

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjw5x2_this-is-it-your-soul_music

I don’t think the auto-play thing on here is gonna work. Click it. It’s worth it.

This is one of those songs I missed in the 90s, and probably wouldn’t have appreciated either way, because the message is more mature, more for the world-weary life traveler. I, like all of y’all, have had a tough time here or there, and that’s what’s made me who I am now. I’m finally – FINALLY – understanding what the hell life is about, and it’s not about worry, fear and strife, not about making yourself anything it’s not meant to be. One night a few months ago I was downloading music – Echo and the Bunnymen, I think – and Hothouse Flowers was suggested. I remembered hearing about them back in the day, so I sampled one of the songs, and somehow found this one. From the first verse, I was inspired. This song is pure magic, and it’s pure genius too. And not to go all softy-Sarah-Feelgood on you, but it’s good for your soul to listen to this kind of stuff every now and then. It’s not cheesy. It’s just … happy.

 You’ve been disturbed from your sleep
You’ve been laid down on the floor
You’ve been looking around for your family
Now your body’s tired and sore
Well there’s rest that’s in the water
And there’s an answer on the streets
And if you take the time to listen
There’s a chance you will meet
Your soul
This is it… This is your soul”
 “And they’re talking at you not with you
And you’re bored with what’s around
And you’ve tried all the quacks, all the doctors and all you really need
And all you really need is a healing sound
 But just listen to the waters
Find the answer on the street
Because now it’s time to listen, now it’s time to meet
Your soul, now this is it
It’s time to meet your soul
Your crying soul
This is your soul
Set free your soul”
 

 Southern Cross,” Crosby, Still and Nash

Not only does this have the dubious honor of making my emotional list, it’s my all-time favorite song – I think. It’s about sailing. It’s about love. It’s about breakups. It’s about love of music. It’s about ME. Every lyric of this song is beautiful, and I got back and forth as to what my favorite is. I think the perennial favorite is this:

 “So we cheated and we lied
And we tested
And we never failed to fail
It was the easiest thing to do.
You will survive being bested.
Somebody fine
Will come along
Make me forget about loving you.
At the Southern Cross.”

 So much majesty. Damn I love this song. It was among  my mother’s favorites too. Back in the day when I still had a clock radio, this song would often be on the station I set the radio to, 103.3 in Tulsa. Those mornings, I would roll over in bed and just absorb the song. It probably doesn’t hurt that I have a romantic notion of living on a boat someday…

 

 Rain King,” Counting Crows

While a great deal of CC’s songs could end up on the Sad Song List (“High Life” and “Sullivan Street” come to mind), this song is just downright uplifting. It makes me want to run really fast down a hill, flailing my arms. To me, it’s a reminder to, you know, live your life to the fullest and shit.

 “When I think of heaven (Deliver me in a black-winged bird)
I think of dying Lay me down in a field of flame and heather
Render up my body into the burning heart of God in the belly of a black-winged bird
Don’t try to bleed me
I’ve been here before and I deserve a little more
 I belong in the service of the Queen
I belong anywhere but in between
She’s been dying
I been drinking and I am the Rain King.”
 

 OK, tomorrow we’ll deal with social commentary songs — the revolution-starters…

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Hart Songs: Part 2, The Sad

As I said, the sad songs say so much… Here’s part 2, and I promise the next parts won’t be gut-wrenching like this one (0r maybe that’s just me.) To recap, I had an emo day the other day that prompted me to think about all the songs that always elicit an emotional response. So here goes, Part 2.

THE SAD

To Make You Feel My Love,”
written by Bob Dylan, but Garth Brooks’ version

One weekend in Weleetka, Oklahoma, when my mom was still alive and had just bought Garth’s complete collection on CD, she forced me to stand with her in the laundry room and listen to the words to this song. “This is how I feel about you and Nick (my brother)” she told me. I’m crying just thinking about this… It’s a love song, but the fact that my mom thought of her children when she heard it makes it so much more special to me, and since her death, sad. My mom always told me she’d die young. She was right. But she left me with a lifetime of memories, and I never doubted her love.

 “I know you haven’t made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I’ve known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong.
 I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawlin’ down the avenue
No, there’s nothin’ that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love.
 There ain’t nothing that I wouldn’t do.
Go to the ends of the earth for you.
Make you happy; make your dreams come true.
To make you feel my love.”

 Garth’s version is the one I like best, because of that moment. Doesn’t take away the fact that the greatest songwriter in history wrote it. Thanks, Bob, once again for the lyrics, and thanks, Garth, for the moment.

 “You’re the Reason God Make Oklahoma,”
David Frizzell and Shelly West

It’s pretty obvious why this song would make me sad, if you know me just a little bit. It made me love Oklahoma and tear up even when I lived there. Alas, I had to leave to stake out my fortunes elsewhere. But it’s where my home and heart remains, where my people are buried, and where I will probably be buried too. I heard this song during an hourlong stint in Dallas traffic when I was in my mid-20s and living in the DFW area. I was back in Oklahoma within a month.

The fact that the song centers on the best part of Oklahoma is probably not on purpose, but Northeastern Oklahoma gets all the love — with good reason. From the opening guitar, I’m a puddle.

This Woman’s Work,” Kate Bush

This is the song that I heard the morning after my emo night, prompting this blog series. It is a relatively new entry in the Make Sarah Cry files. Geez that woman can sing. When you know that the song was written for the movie “She’s Having a Baby,” and is used in the scene where Kevin Bacon is learning that his wife and child are in danger during childbirth, it pulls those ol’ heartstrings but good. Maxwell also did a version, but Kate’s sweet, innocent voice adds the drama.

 “Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman’s work,
This woman’s world.
Ooh, it’s hard on the man,
Now his part is over.
Now starts the craft of the father.
 
I know you’ve got a little life in you yet.
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left.
I know you’ve got a little life in you yet.
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left.
 I should be crying, but I just can’t let it go.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking
 Of all the things I should’ve said,
That I never said.
All the things we should’ve done,
Though we never did.
All the things I should’ve given,
But I didn’t.
 Oh, darling, make it go,
Make it go away.”

 Waaaaah.

And let’s go for a happier subject, shall we?

 

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