For Addye: Musical Marriage Advice

This weekend my friend A’Driane is getting married. When I heard the news, I was instantly happy for her even though I’ve never met her beloved, Bert. Okay, I’ve never met her in person either. But I know her. I adore her. I admire her. I respect her. A’Driane and Bert work at their relationship. They are meaningful in their actions toward each other. They take care of each other. I predict a lifetime of love and laughter. Even though I know these two crazy kids already know a lot about love and how to stay knee-deep in it, I still want to offer some wisdom on the topic. And in my experience, the best love advice comes from country music, specifically 80’s country.

Islands In The Stream-Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

If you go by Pandora’s rotation, 80’s country begins and ends with this song. And who can argue?

“Baby when I met you there was peace unknown.

I set out to get you with a fine tooth comb.

I was soft inside; there was something going on.”

When you’ve found the right person, your soul is calm and you finely comb your hair? And your insides got something going on. Yep. That’s love baby.

When You Say Nothing At All-Keith Whitley

Not to get all mushy, but this song makes me think of my husband. Thank God he doesn’t read my blog, or he’d be embarrassed I told you that.

“The smile on your face let’s me know that you need me.

There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me.

A touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall.

Yeah, you say it best when you say nothing at all.”

Trust in what you know about your spouse and how they express their love. Also, never underestimate the power of The Look. No, not the sexy times one, the Dude, Seriously? one.

Forever And Ever, Amen-Randy Travis

Lots of love songs make promises, but this one seals it with an “Amen.” A promise that’s a prayer is what marriage means to me.

“Oh, baby! I’m gonna love you forever, forever and ever, Amen!

As long as old men sit n’ talk about the weather, as long as old women sit n’ talk about old men

If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful, I’ll be happy to tell you again.

I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, Amen!”

Now that’s a promise! Forever and ever. The end. The only problem is I can’t hear this song without picturing Randy’s mug shot.

Photo Courtesy GRAYSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Meet In the Middle-Diamond Rio

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: marriage requires compromise. When I’m feeling like I’m at an impasse with Michael over something, I ask myself, “Do you want to spend time with him being angry or being happy?” And then I answer myself because I have lots of voices in my head.

“I’d start walking your way.
You’d start walking mine.
We’d meet in the middle
‘Neath that old Georgia pine.
We’d gain a lot of ground
‘Cause we’d both give a little.
And their ain’t no road too long
When you meet in the middle.”

If all else fails, take a long walk and get your priorities in line. Make sure you have your cell phone so you can call for a ride home when you realize you’ve crossed state lines.

Close Enough To Perfect-Alabama

Bert, this song’s for you. I mean, it’s for you to live up to. This is how you should treat my girl.

“She kisses me each morning,
And smiles her sleepy smile
And she don’t have to say it;
I can see it in her eyes.
Don’t you worry about my woman
Or what you think she ought to be,
‘Cause she’s close enough to perfect for me.

Well sometimes she gets down and starts to cry,
But then again a lady has a right.
She’s everything I ever wanted; she’s all I’ll ever need.
She’s close enough to perfect for me.”

Did you know Alabama released an album every year in the 80’s? I have no idea what that has to do with marriage, but I’m sure you can think of some way to apply it.

So, turn up the volume and dance a little Texas two-step my friends! Here’s to marriage and to A’Driane and Bert!

Joe Elliott And I Go Back A Long Way

I hadn’t planned to write this week or next. We are moving. Moving! And my brain is not to be trusted or used for anything more difficult then figuring out how to heat up frozen pizza. But last night it became clear that I need to share an important part of me. If you can’t handle it, then I guess we can’t be friends.

You see, I love Def Leppard, and I strongly believed for the longest time I would marry Joe Elliott.

It all started with being the new kid. We had just moved to Concord, California, from Carrollton, Texas, and it was a tough one. I was headed into fourth grade, which, as we all know, is the time that lifelong friendships and cool statuses are made. I spent the entire summer with my brother Robert who was 16 at the time.

What he loved, I loved. This included his taste in music and shoes (Vans) but not the smell of Polo cologne. We rocked to bands like Krokus (with their eight-year-old-girl-friendly hit, “Eat The Rich”), Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard.

When school started in the fall, I knew it was time to spread my wings and make some friends my own age. I was ready for my place at the cool table. My surefire method of showing my savvy? Wearing my Def Leppard bandana and pin every Friday. (Look, my brother had the Union Jack shorts like Rick Allen; it was the 80s, don’t judge us.)

One Friday Todd started mocking my awesome fan attire. He said, “Oh yeah, I bet you really know all about Def Leppard.” I hadn’t quite developed my smack talk yet so my response did not hit the mark. I said, “I do! I have all their albums!” To which he replied, “Yeah? All two of them?”

Crap.

Anyway, my love of Def Leppard was rock solid and could not be lessened by Todd and his back-pocket-comb. The obsession was fueled by MTV. I can pretty much give you a frame-by-frame synopsis of the “Photograph” video, and I do a fantastic impression of Joe Elliott’s snarl from “Rock of Ages.”

I could get all deep and sentimental and lay some line on you about how Def Leppard reminds me of my closeness with my brother and the struggles faced when having to move. But also? They rock. And they had great rockstar hair. I’m sorry; they have great rock star hair.

See? Rockstar hair. And an earring. And dear Lord has he gotten puffy.

We moved again just before I entered seventh grade. My brothers did not come with us, so I was left to fend for myself in the identity-creation department. I went with wearing all black and being snarky. It felt right. Then, the summer before eighth grade, Def Leppard released a new album. (And yes, their drummer was down to one arm. Ha ha. Very mature thing to laugh at.) Again, the power of MTV brought the rock gods to me every day. I was sure I would one day be discovered by Joe and asked to be in a video.

My friends were kind and bought me the VHS Historia movie. They tried not to laugh at my notebook covered in fan pics of Joe Elliott in those famous ripped jeans.

THIS. This picture was on my notebook and graced the wall in my bedroom.

Hold on. I need a moment.

Anyway, the Hysteria album cemented my love forever. Though I would go on to see them in concert three times, I seemed to stop adding their new music in the 90s. It’s possible that my brain was just too full to add any more awesome. Or maybe those early albums are just tied to memories too big to expand upon. Those hair band albums of the 80s just make me happy. I sing into my hairbrush and dance like a video queen. I have attitude and spunk. And cleaning the toilets is much cooler.

So, that’s it. Now you know. If my hair band love with heavy emphasis on Def Leppard makes you think less of me, so be it. I don’t need your approval. I just need to rock.

Polish Words-Koniec

A weekly service where I teach you some Polish.

koniec–[konyech];noun, end, finish

Example Sentence: To jest koniec. (This is the end.)

Notes: Well my friends, I did it. I had my final Polish lesson last night. I earned my certificate which proclaims me to be at level A2, and I’m guessing the highest you can get is Z100 because that’s about how far I am from being fluent. My teacher gave me a gift; it was a flashdrive with a song that reminded her of her mother who passed. It is in both English and Polish. Why would she give me a sad song? She had read my blog about my brother passing and how I grieve, and she thought I would like to hear it. How sweet is that? She really was a great teacher and is a kind person. I’m glad I was here to meet her. For my final lesson, we listened to “Silent Night” in Polish and translated it. It was so beautiful. I couldn’t find the version we listened to, but I found one that is nice which I hope you enjoy.

Wesołych Świąt. (Merry Christmas.)

 

It’s A Great Day To Be Alive

Welcome again to Tuesday Tunes! It’s that thing I made up a couple of months ago and then abandoned like my roller blades. (Not a good mode of transportation for someone so clumsy and bruisey.)

My original post was inspired by my friend Addye and her move to Austin. She made it, but she’s struggling now, and I have her in my heart again. Then a song came on and again spoke to my heart and made me want to share it with her and you.

When we lost our son Carter in March of 2006, many songs became connected to him and our grief. He has a song that a friend played at his funeral, “Godspeed” by Radney Foster. I will never forget laying in bed trying not to think of the awful thing that just happened and hearing my husband play this song on his computer in the office. The next day he asked if that was the song we could play at Carter’s funeral.

The day we made arrangements at the funeral home was a bright, sunny spring day. It was still a bit chilly, but the sky was perfect. It was one of those times when the weather was not matching my mood or the circumstances. I felt I deserved rain and gloom for a day at the cemetery picking out a plot for my son. We did the best we could, and we were treated well by the staff. The grandparents graciously picked out the coffin as Michael and I could not do that one task. (We never looked at it nor did we attend the gravesite service to lower it into the ground. It was just the one thing we couldn’t handle.)

After taking care of all the paperwork and decisions, we were hungry and stopped for lunch at Saltgrass Steakhouse. The grandparents were with us, but I felt the need to zone out a bit. It was all just too much. As I was retreating into my own mind, a song came on the restaurant speakers. It was late for lunch, and the restaurant was fairly empty, so it was quiet enough to hear the song well. The song was, “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” by Travis Tritt.

And it's a great day to be alive
I know the sun's still shinin' when I close my eyes
There's some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can't every day be just this good?

And suddenly, I knew that to be true. The sun was still shining, not to mock me, but to remind me that these were just hard times that would not last. I felt God’s love and power. I knew that He created the beauty around me, and I believed many more good days would come. That turned out to be the day I came up with calling cloudless days ‘Carter Days’ because Cloudless was the name of the paint I had picked out for his room the day before we found out he had passed.

A ‘Cloudless’ March day in Poland. God creates beautiful things here too.

The beat of the song was good for me too. It’s very simple and allows you to focus on the lyrics. And there’s this strong beat after he says ‘great’ that really makes you want to believe that it is true. For some reason it uplifts me and has me playing air drums instead of turning me sad or introspective as so many other songs connected to this time do.

I hope that my dear friend can find some uplifting tunes today. I’m sure if she starts with some Prince, she’s bound to land on a good one.

Please feel free to share some songs that uplift you on hard days. We did this in our #ppdchat yesterday, and it felt good just talking about them. It never hurts to have a new song to try!

Big Girls Don’t Cry

Welcome to Tuesday Tunes!

Which is a thing I just made up. See, I heard a song that the Apple Genius super being put on my playlist, and it made me think of when and why I loved that song. There were also some Prince songs on the list which reminded me of my friend Addye. That also reminded me that she digs music, and I think I saw her have a conversation with another Twitter friend of ours about lyrics and inspiration and what-not. Or, it was a blog post. Or a dream I had recently.

Anyway, I thought in honor of Addye moving to Texas tomorrow, we, well, me, I mean I of course, could tell you about the song that made me think of that time. Then maybe you could tell me a song you have that also goes with a time. Then we’d know stuff about each other.

Like right now you know exactly how my brain does brain thinking. Pretty cool, huh? Cool, weird, whatever.

The song is “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie, and it was even my ringtone. (Don’t judge me. It was popular. The video had that guy who played Jess on Gilmore Girls in it. God, I miss Gilmore Girls.)

It was the summer of 2007, and I was pregnant with the twins. We were very excited, but we were also nervous. Having lost our sweet Carter in March 2006 was a devastating experience. I was trying hard to enjoy the twin pregnancy and not fear the worst. If you know me even a little bit, not worrying is sort of impossible, but I gave it my best shot.

I really liked the part of the song that talked about clarity, peace, and serenity. I sort of used it like a meditation. (Except that when I sang along with it, I always mixed up the order of those three words. Every time.) I felt like the song was a note to our Carter. It was me telling him I had to leave the sadness behind and enjoy these new babies. I missed him, but I needed to get on with being happy.

I hope you know, I hope you know
That this has nothing to do with you
It’s personal, myself and I
We’ve got some straightenin’ out to do
And I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket
But I’ve got to get a move on with my life
It’s time to be a big girl now
And big girls don’t cry
Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry(Copied from MetroLyrics.com)
 

It’s kind of weird since it’s a song about a person letting their lover go, but parts of it just resonated with me, and it became my theme song that summer. (Plus, I sing badly, and Fergie ain’t no Adele, so I could keep up.) It was me singing to my baby, my sweet baby who was going to be a big brother soon.

And that’s my Tuesday Tune from the way-back machine. Do you have one you’d like to share? Can you also do me a favor and wish my friend Addye good luck on her big move? She’s doin’ some straightenin’ out herself, and I’m excited for her.

Grammys? A lot of Grandmothers?

So, the Grammy Awards happened.  I didn’t see it on account of the seven hour time difference here in Poland.  And also on account of my music brain being full of Def Leppard and generally stuck in a music rut.

Why yes this picture was taped inside my Trapper Keeper, why do you ask?

It’s not just new pop music and rock stars who get no love from me.  I got nothing in my head for country either, a former love of mine. That space is entirely reserved for Garth Brooks (pre-Chris Gaines obviously) and 80’s classics like Alabama and Dolly Parton.  Also any country music liked by Troy Aikman such as Toby Keith before he became all, “America is so kick ass I will kill your mother if you say a bad thing about it!”  I never had a lot of interest in other music except for show tunes from a small group of musicals loved by my brother: A Chorus Line, Cats, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera.

I know Adele won a bunch of awards, and I actually own her album “21” because it speaks to 16 year-old stalker, emo me.  I’m happy to see the Foo Fighters won, but I can’t tell you one song from their most recent album.  I love that Lady Antebellum song about drunk dialing because well, obviously, that speaks to college me (Let’s pretend I started drinking then.)  I hate Chris Brown, and the word on the street is he performed and generally douched it up because he has no idea how to show remorse.

In other words, I have no real opinion on the awards or their recipients and have not had one in some time.  I love the pop culture aspects of the show but don’t give any damns about the music.  I’m going to go ahead and put it out there.  I am a new music failure and don’t see any reason to change since iTunes insures that I will have my beloved hits of the 80’s for all time.  I plan on rocking to Hysteria in the nursing home and reminiscing about the time I danced to Prince’s “1999” on New Year’s Eve 1999.

In Poland it seems the radio stations are constitutionally obligated (Does Poland operate under a constitution? How the hell do I know? I’m American for God’s sake.) to play a song from Dirty Dancing once a week-specifically “She’s Like the Wind” or “Hungry Eyes.”  There is also an odd amount of Tina Turner played.  It is therefore easy to bury my head in the musical sand while here and stick to some tried and true favorites.

*  Dixie Chicks-Songs I Can Sing Like I Know How to Sing (Not the name of any album but should be)–These ladies may have some PR issues and what not, but they know from heartache y’all.  They know how to sing from the heart about the heart.  When I play the Dixie Chicks it is with the sole intent of singing into my hairbrush.  Or for the adoring audience on the freeway watching me in my car.

*  Radney Foster’s See What You Want To See–I luuurve this album and have seen him live a couple of times.  This song has deep associations with my marriage and is just all kinds of awesome.  Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

* A Chorus Line–This album is not only sung at the top of my lungs but includes dancing.  I only play this while alone.  Or in the car at night.  I won’t even tell you which parts become ear worms, but they are totally inappropriate and hard to get rid of.

* Taylor Swift “Love Story” “Today Was A Fairytale” “Mine” and “You Belong to Me”–Thanks to the genius of iTunes I can just buy the songs I like.  For some reason these songs get played while I do dishes.  These songs make me think I can sing well.  Taylor has the same delusions.

Taylor Swift…Joe Elliott…Worlds colliding….brain hurt…

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  I am not hip to the music scene.  Or whatever phrase is a more hip way to describe my affliction.

I love music that reminds me of an event or a season.  I love songs that I can belt out whilst doing chores or trying to get super excited about a Polish lesson I have not prepared for.  Music does speak to my heart and make me happy.  I’m just all full at the moment and have no room for more.  I’ll try to make some room by forgetting maybe Cinderella or Queensrÿche or maybe even a Madonna dance song or two.  But don’t you dare ask me to give up any Def Leppard.