Music is good for the heart

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I was sitting at home on Tuesday night listening to Barry Manilow songs. Yes, you read that correctly, Barry Manilow songs. My aunt will be thrilled when she reads this post. I think she is one of Barry’s biggest fans and we were certainly caught in the vortex of her Barry mania back in the day.

There was one particular song of Barry’s my mother absolutely loved and I forgot I had downloaded that song on my iTunes. When I decided to shuffle all of my songs while making dinner, this song came on and, in a few seconds, I was back in the living room of my childhood home singing this song with my mom at the top of our lungs. My mom could hit a few notes here and there but her enthusiasm certainly made up for her lack of musical ability.

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The song is called his VSM or Very Strange Medley. It consists of several television commercial jingles Barry wrote and he was sure his audience had no idea he had any part of writing. I was a teenager again dancing around my kitchen as Barry went through his advertising repertoire and, in my mind, I could see my mother ramping up for the big finale.

The McDonald’s tune started and, for whatever reason, I started dancing in my kitchen like I was on stage with Barry himself. My arms were keeping time with his Doo doo doo doo doo’s and when the song reached its crescendo I threw my arms in the air as my mom always did and I started to cry. They were such happy tears remembering how much fun we used to have singing that song together and I must have listened to the song another five times, throwing my hands in the air like bad seventies jazz hands each time because my mom could not listen to that song without doing the same thing.

The Musical Daily says music is good for the mind, body and soul but they forgot the most important thing. Music is good for the heart. After I stopped listening to the VSM and wiped my eyes for the last time, I asked my Alexa to shuffle more Barry Manilow tunes and I enjoyed my teleportation back to a time when everything was right in my world.

I ended my Tuesday night with a head full of music and a heart full of memories.

 

There has to be some fun in rejection

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Although my quest continues to find a literary agent for my first novel, rejections can be extremely disheartening. I am not giving up, by any means, but merely trying to maintain a sense of humor through a very lengthy process.  Please feel free to read the post below to the tune of The Sounds of Silence.

~~

The Sound of Querying

Hello rejection, my old friend

I’ve come to tolerate you again

Because revisions softly creeping

Left their seeds while I was sleeping

And the edit that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the bounds of rewrites

~

In restless dreams my plot was formed

All my characters were transformed

Into people I would love to know

Except the serial killer, he can go

The words came  to me in the wee hours of the night

I couldn’t write

I hoped my phone was recording

~

And in the morning light I heard

Two or three hundred added words

Words I don’t remember speaking at all

I’m glad my smart phone has voice recall

I was recording things while I was practically asleep

My thoughts were deep

I knew I had to query

~

Fool, said I, you do not know,

Agents like the answer NO

Without reading your full manuscript

The whole story, they completely skipped

And my words, were never fully read, but instead

They landed on the bottom of the slush pile

~

Beta readers said it’s great

Into a movie it should be made

But you’re not allowed to tell agents that

You can only hope they want to chat

And the sad thing, although I was told my writing was outstanding

It still means nothing

It just echoes in the sounds of querying

The symphony of my life

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I was trying to come up with an idea for a post tonight – clearing the cobwebs in my brain that had been woven during my work day.  I like to write about things that have meaning for me, that strike a chord deep within me and light the passion that only words can fuel until it becomes a mellifluous production.

The image of my family crept into my thoughts and the music of their presence in my life began like a slow starting symphony.   The opus of this particular operatic was my divorce, my escape from a life that was not mine to live.  Single notes, soft but relevant, could be heard over the din in my head and the notes began to permeate my thoughts.  The movement of their music was intoxicating and I began to sway with the rhythm.

symphony

Each section of the orchestra sounded the cries of their instrument, but the blend of those voices, the song that was created, was harmonious, and like all symphonies, it had a story to tell.  The beginning of the sounds were light, easing me into the fable with their hypnotic sound.  Somehow the music spoke to me and I knew there was beauty far beyond what I was living.  I could feel it in the music that penetrated my skin, the octaves that dove into the reaches of my mind and brought me back to a reality where I was happy.  The notes blended to create a comforting strain, the dulcet tones began to rise in volume and the crescendo was an emotional outpouring of support.  The fat lady had sung, the show was over and so was my marriage.

There is always a deep, emotional story behind any operatic performance.  There is pleasure, there is pain and there is death.  I experienced some of the pleasure, my fair share of emotional pain and the death of a relationship.  But as any opera heroine does at the end of the performance, I lifted my head, nodded to the orchestra, and prepared for the next show.

Brothers will be brothers, and then they make you cry

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I wrote this post last year about a very emotional moment created by my nephew during our 2014 Christmas festivities.  Well, that emotional little apple did not fall far from the paternal tree.

Last year (2014) was the first Christmas without my mother so it was a very emotional time for all of us.  This past Christmas, I vowed I would get my shit together and celebrate the holiday the way my mom would have wanted us to – with happiness and joy and time with family.  And although it was filled with all of those things, my brother threw in a bit of overwhelming sentiment and my tears flowed freely once again on the eve of our Christmas Day celebration.

As I have for every Christmas Eve since 1976, with the exception of the one year I lived in Halifax, I donned my gear and headed out to gather, en masse, at the end of a family driveway to watch Santa Claus go by on the Fire Truck.  The weather was comparatively balmy and Santa was much more jovial than he was two years ago when he was braving the minus 30 C temperatures.  After the truck had disappeared, we went inside and my brother handed me a Christmas gift bag.  I was instructed to wait until I got home to open it and my first question was “do I require Kleenex”.   That question was remarkably redundant.

When I got home, I carefully opened the box and found myself holding what looked like a jewelry box with the words “Dear Daughter” embossed on top.  I thought about what a lovely gesture it was and then I lifted the lid and realized it was a music box.  Somewhat reluctantly, I turned the dial and the song, unrecognizable at first, began to play.

As soon as the familiar strain was recalled by my memory, the first tear slid slowly down my cheek.  It was immediately followed by a torrent of emotion and I was in a full-blown ‘ugly cry’.  The song was Edelweiss.  It was a song I had known since I was a child.  And it was a song that my mother and I would sing together as we continued our holiday ritual by watching “The Sound of Music” together every Christmas Eve.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch it in 2014, but this past year I vowed I would, and I did.  And each time Edelweiss played in the movie, I found myself lost in a sea of tears once again, but they were happy tears.

My brother not only picked the perfect gift but he held onto that gift for a year because he knew I wouldn’t have been ready to receive it a year earlier.  I have remembered a lot of gifts I received during the holidays but this gift, this truly touching gift, is the one I will always cherish the most.  Not only did it come from the heart of someone I love and will fiercely defend, it represents the heart of the person who created us both.   I cannot think of a better gift.

 

Comfortably caged

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She sits in her cage,

singing because she finds joy,

she finds happiness in her solitude.

There is peace in her time alone.

Alone will never mean lonely,

and song is her companion.

She sings the notes

as they fill her heart.

~~

gargle164

Written for the Gargleblaster Challenge:

And so we turn to this week’s ultimate question. There are a million reasons a caged bird might sing, both literally and figuratively. Maya Angelou gave us one in her beloved poem. That leaves at least 999,999 for everyone else to explore. Tell us:

Why does the caged bird sing?

Give us your answer in 42 words, but be creative. Don’t go where we expect you to. Don’t write down the first thing that comes to mind. Think, craft, edit, and craft some more. Give us your very best.

A little music was all it took

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I have been purposely not posting over the last few days because, as I look back, my last few posts encompass the overwhelming, undulating emotions one goes through after a loss.  Although it has been slightly cathartic, it also made me realize I need to snap out of this feeling of wallowing and focus on all of the positive feelings I experience when thinking about my mom.

Last  night was a very healing night for me.  While working on the scrapbook and decorations for  her celebration I began to make a playlist of many of her favorite songs to listen to during the reception after the service.  That music took me on a journey I never anticipated and I got to experience my relationship with my mom all over again.

The road trip of memories lay stretched before me and I hit the gas, negotiating the turns and rolling into my early youth.  Music was always playing in our house and, as I recalled the many nights of games and puzzles as a family, the sounds of the 70’s classics drifted back into my mind.  I could see and smell the old family cottage in my memory as if I had just walked through the door.  The strains of music lifted my spirits and helped me float back to a place I hold so dear.

Music_tattoo_9

This song is just one of many.

I made a brief stop in my young adult life, remembering how I used to sing the songs from Annie ad nauseam and my mom never tired of listening.  I secretly wished I had red, curly hair and freckles and I’m sure my mom knew that about me but the songs, to her, sounded just as sweet coming from a child with brown hair and green eyes.

We grew together through music and, although my mom admittedly had trouble carrying a tune, we shared a love of old musicals.  The clock raced forward and those old musicals would come back, time and time again, to play an important part in our relationship.  After my dad passed, my Christmas Eve was spent with my mom watching The Sound of Music, every year.

Those songs last night, those happy memories hidden within those soundtrack scores, were all I needed to be lifted above the fog that has been weighing so heavily on my heart.  A few well placed notes on a page and suddenly I feel like it’s okay to be happy when I think about her.  I don’t have to be sad all the time, nor would she want me to be, and that is the message she sent to me through song.

I’ll never stop being sad, but those precious moments of being able to smile again are worth every tear I’ve shed.

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