Friday, January 30, 2015

Sing to Me

There are two--no, three--categories of pop songs currently on the radio stations I listen to.*

1. Songs I Still Like
2. Songs I Used to Like But Don't Anymore Because They're ALWAYS ON
3. Songs I've Never Liked

In Category #1, I would currently place:

  • "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off"by Taylor Swift. I love T-Swift. I think she is the greatest mind of her generation. I like these songs. But I'm about to move them to Category #2 pretty soon. However, she'll probably have another single released by then. Side note: when I drove my daughter and her friends to the mall, they sang along to "Blank Space" at top volume. It's pretty funny to hear a bunch of twelve-year-olds singing that they have "a long list of ex-lovers." I turned the music up and sang along.
  • "Lips Are Moving" by Meghan Trainor. I like this even better than "All About That Base." Such a strong female persona. "You're full of something, but it ain't love." Heh.
  • "I'm Not the Only One" by Sam Smith. He has such a great voice.
  • "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. LOVE, especially when I need to wake up for the drive to work.
  • "Don't" by Ed Sheeran. I'm a bit of a hypocrite here because I don't play this with my kids in the car. They don't need to be hearing about "don't f*** with my love" even with the F-word bleeped out; besides, it talks about the faithless girl having sex with a random dude. But it's inventive and catchy and I like that he emphasizes that he isn't just looking for a girl to hook up with.
  • "I Lived" by One Republic. Even though it's pretty much the same idea as "I Hope You Dance."

Category #2:
  • "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. It's an adorable song, but seriously, give it a rest. The other day it was on two out of three stations.
  • Anything by Maroon 5 (Unless it's in Category #3 already)
  • "The Hanging Tree" by Jennifer Lawrence

Category #3:

  • "Jealous" by Nick Jonas. No, Mr. Jonas, it is not your "right to be hellish" because you get jealous. I realize it's probably only in the song because it sort of rhymes with "jealous" but no. I don't want my daughter thinking a jealous boyfriend is a good thing.
  • "Take Me to Church" by Hozier. Wow, I just looked at the lyrics and they're even more sacrilegious than I thought. I don't let my kids listen to this song because we only worship at actual church, not "in the bedroom" as the song says.
I am really getting old, because I find myself compelled to talk back to singers and tell them things like, "You need to run, girl" and "That is just not healthy AT ALL." My 12 yo daughter tells me, "It's just a song, Mom" but I have hopes that my statements might counter the dysfunctional attitudes toward relationships that exist in pop music.

The more time I spend in the car, the more likely I am to skip commercial radio altogether and listen to the satellite radio that came free for 3 months when we got our car. It's helped me discover some new songs, including
  • "Geronimo" by Sheppard
  • "It's Okay" by Oh Honey
  • "Between the Raindrops" by Lifehouse

 The free trial will be expiring soon, and I can't bring myself to pay for it, since I have Pandora which I can stream through my phone's Bluetooth through my stereo system. 

My current Pandora stations are:
  • 80s 
  • 90s 
  • 2000s 
  • The Beatles 
  • Michael Buble
  • Harry Connick, Jr.
  • Frank Sinatra--can you tell I like crooners and big bands?
  • Motown
  • Disney
  • Journey--this leads to a lot of sappy '80s love songs and power ballads which I can't help loving
  • Classical
  • Hillsong United and Praise & Worship--because sometimes I feel churchy
  • Showtunes--so far this mostly plays "A Year In the Life" from Rent and every song from Grease
  • Love Songs
  • Glee Cast--I know. But they're fun arrangements!
Do you have any suggestions for music to try/stations to add to Pandora? 

*I should say that I have deplorable musical taste. When I was a teenager I owned albums by New Kids on the Block and Michael Bolton while completely missing out on Nirvana et al. Right now I listen to stations that play "the 90s, 2000s, and TODAY" because my older kid wants to hear current stuff and because they don't play anything really offensive.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering the Fearful Years

I wrote this last night when I should have been sleeping. I was just trying to get in my 750 words (I'm using to write more, and it's working) but I got into it and wrote about 1500. Here's what I was remembering...

It sounds like L and his buddy have stopped talking. Little boys have no volume control--no matter how many times you say, "Whisper!" I remember a comedian saying that boys and girls go to sleep differently, and that's certainly true with my two. Little girls get their lovies all arranged just so and get a drink and another story, Mommy, and curl up like little kitty cats until they drift off. Little boys are like, "HEY MOM, GUESS WHAT? WE PLAYED FOOT--ZZZZZ." L is not one to insist he's not tired, though. He's always been one that likes sleep. Which is why I'm not surprised that he and his friend have dropped off.
C, now...that child never wanted to sleep more than she absolutely had to, even as a baby. I know I should be grateful that she did go through spells where she took decent naps of an hour or more and slept through the night--and I WAS grateful. The problem was that these spells never lasted all that long without interruptions. Anything could disrupt her sleeping pattern--teething, sickness, travel, Venus retrograde in the house of name it, it would cause C to start waking up around 2 AM. She was chipper as long as you held her all night long. And a snack wouldn't go amiss, either. PAR-TAAAYYY IN MY ROOM, Y'ALL!
Anyway, we got through the baby and toddler years and then there were the Fearful Years. Mostly during preschool, but we had issues from time to time up until third grade or so. Something would trigger her fear, and she would come out after we followed the bedtime ritual to the letter (including tucking in her 576 stuffed animals--I kid you not, they were piled three-deep along the side of her bed, from the head to the foot). She was always a sobbing wreck when she came out, five minutes or less after we'd tucked her in, when she'd seemed perfectly fine. I would be just sitting down with my chocolate from my secret stash, about to congratulate myself on finishing another day of Keeping the Children Alive and (Mostly) Unharmed, and here would come this small person.
"Mom? Dad? I'm scared because I heard that the SUN IS GOING TO BLOW UP AND NO ONE WILL BE ALIVE ON EARTH ANYMORE." That was an actual conversation we had when she was six. Damn you, Educational Scienc-y Channel! I remember saying, "IF that happens, it will be in about 500 million years!" and trying to convince her that if it were going to happen any time soon, didn't she think it would be on the news? Logic: such a great idea to try to use it on a terrified second-grader. Eventually my persuasion worked--that time. Most of the time I didn't have any logical response. Mainly because her anxiety triggered a very primal response in me. I don't remember having a lot of these types of fears, but maybe I had more than I realize. I certainly am more anxious and fearful that the average bear NOW, so maybe I was then, too. Anyway, I remember my mom coming to lie in bed with me when I had nightmares because my dad wasn't so good at waking up and also because he wouldn't try to couldn't sleep with kids in their bed. (This may have been why we always had full or queen-sized beds.) If my night terrors happened before my dad went to sleep, he would come in and talk to me logically and pray with me, and that worked pretty well. So that's what we did with C. One of us would take her back to bed, and talk a little about it--what was real, what wasn't--and then pray for her, and quote, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind--say that with me, Chloe, now breathe in, breathe out" (this was my idea, but I think it helped her keep from having full-on panic attacks. And I would scratch and/or stroke her back for a while.
The hard part was that she was never, ever ready for me to leave when I was desperate to leave. She does not fall asleep quickly, even now when she doesn't have night terrors. She would get still and I'd ease up off the bed (chocolate, I'm coming for you!) and her big wet eyes would open. "Mama?"
I wish I could say I always stayed, that I was always a fountain of consolation. But as she got older and these periods of fearfulness would reoccur, Justin felt that she had to learn some self-soothing skills. And I was so tired and ready to eat my dang chocolate and watch mindless TV.
I also knew that I wanted her to learn that she was working herself into a frenzy and that she alone held the key to her mental prison. As much as I wanted to, I could not banish her fear for her. We had given her some self-soothing techniques. Now it was time for her to learn to use them for herself.
It was REALLY hard for me to send my sobbing child back to her dark room--it felt like I was being heartless, no doubt because I felt like I was abandoning my own small self. I had to tell myself that what she wanted--curling up between us on the couch and watching TV--was not really going to help her. She was going to have to learn to go to sleep by herself anyway, and staying up late would only exhaust her for the next day. It was basically "cry it out" all over again, including the minimal soothing to let the child know they aren't being abandoned but not enough attention to make them feel it's worth staying awake for.
She'd come out crying, we'd hug her and pray for her, remind her to quote her Scripture verse and "think happy thoughts" (she was probably thinking, "You try that, Mom, when you're worried about supernovas!") to replace the scary ones. Interestingly, the scary thoughts only came to mind at bedtime. Things that didn't seem to bother her at all at the time--a mildly intense scene of an action movie, or a trailer for a horror film (I hate those--aired on prime-time "family" shows!) could send her into hysterics later that night. But we had to remind her that with Jesus's help, she COULD conquer her fears.
It worked. At twelve, she falls asleep every night  without assistance (I do let her read a little while past her official bedtime if her brain just won't turn off), and I eat my chocolate without interruption. Of course, she's an adolescent, so she's sometimes not sleepy at bedtime, but she's not fearful even when reading a YA dystopian novel. (She also never wants to wake up at 6:15, either. Thanks, teenage hormones!) Tonight we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I am willing to bet there will be no nightmares. I hope she doesn't struggle with anxiety like I have in my life, but if she does, I will try to help her learn to manage her own fears, because some things I can't do for my children, as much as I'd like to.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Shake It Off: 2014 in Review

I got this questionnaire from Temerity Jane's blog, and jumped on it.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you've never done before?

I was given the assignment to teach English I and co-teach English I, which meant being responsible for the English I End-of-Course exam, which students in Texas must pass to graduate from a Texas public school. Also, your school's rating is dependent on the kids' scores, and every sub-group, including recent immigrants, low-income students, and students with learning disabilities, have to pass. I was also made the English I level lead, despite having no experience teaching that grade. No pressure!

The only other new thing I can think of was starting the Couch-to-5K running program when I hadn't run in 20 years (and was never good at it back then). I discovered that I still don't like running but I do enjoy STOPPING. I got insanely busy when school started and didn't run the 5K I had signed up for.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I haven't made New Years' Resolutions for several years now because I don't need that kind of negativity in my life. I did write a post about my word for 2015 being "Abundance" and I do think I made progress in embracing the concept especially since I realized my job was NOT the only way we could be provided for (more about that later.)

I don't have a specific word in mind this year. I want to get back to exercising and continue writing on (I'm up to a streak of 4 days! Woo-hoo!) and on my blog. I also set a goal of reading 55 books this year, which is hardly a stretch since I read almost as many last year when I was "too busy to read." I'd like to stretch my reading horizons a little and read some more challenging nonfiction and classics now that my brain won't be mashed into pulp by grading papers every weekend.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No,  but my sister-in-law is due any minute with their first baby! If she doesn't go into labor by Monday, the doctor will induce her by Tuesday. We're all excited to meet Hutson Owen (Owen was my maternal grandfather's middle name).

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What other countries did you visit?

Sadly, none.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Time to relax and enjoy family and do things around the house.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched in your memory?

The day I realized I HAD to quit my job if I wanted to stay sane and that I could do it; the day I realized my daughter is closing in on her teen years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I took a big leap of faith by quitting. It was the right thing to do to take care of myself and my family.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I spent a lot of time tying myself in knots over grading and sobbing in the shower, so I was not very emotionally available to my family. They say they have forgiven me. :-)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My mental illness became a significant factor again. I realized that it's okay to take care of myself instead of "soldiering on."

11. What was the best thing you bought?

We bought a new car--a 2015 Honda Pilot that I love, especially because it has Bluetooth for my phone and heated seat warmers (or as C calls them, "butt warmers"). It seemed scary to me to buy a car when I was quitting, but since I will be driving a lot more, my husband wanted me to have something safe. The other car was starting to have some problems so it was a good time, and the new one is expensed through our company, so win!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I'm copying Temerity Jane's answer on this one and the next: "The Internet (parts of it) has really stepped up for a lot of people this year, and that was great."

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

"You know what, I’m going to stick with the Internet for my answer for this one, too."

14. Where did most of your money go?

The usual things--house payments, car payments, FOOD. My kids either subside on air molecules or they scavenge everything in sight.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?

Hmmm. I keep talking about quitting, but that made me really, really happy.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? I think about the same.
c) richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading with my kids. Date nights. Writing of any kind. Exercising.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Crying. Caring what people think about me. Procrastinating.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home on Christmas morning, opening presents, then over to my mom and dad's house for lunch and more presents. This year my brother and SIL were there as well as her family, since she was too pregnant to travel. It was fun!

21. What was your favorite TV show?

Well, OF COURSE Doctor Who. I agreed to get U-verse again just so I could have BBC America to meet the Twelfth Doctor. C also got into Psych and went way past where I had stopped. She asks me about allusions Shawn and Gus make and then says, "Ohhhh, THAT makes sense" when I explain.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate at this time last year?

Only random people on the Internet who were extremely annoying and horrible. Then I mercifully forgot them.

23. What was the best book you read?

Checking on Goodreads... The only book I gave five stars to was Longbourn by Jo Baker, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a focus on the servants which forever changed the way I will view Jane Austen's novels.

Honorable mentions:
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, based on the lives of two abolitionist sisters;
Fangirl and Landline by Rainbow Rowell, both of which sucked me in immediately;
Various Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, which are perfect to read when you want something light and funny but decidedly NOT mindless. And there are so many of them!

However, I will say that the only book I got up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and finished was Who Is the Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who: The New Series by Graeme Burke. Make of that what you will.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Nobody new. I am incredibly uninteresting in my musical taste.

25. What did you want and get by year’s end?

FREEDOM! (In a Braveheart voice.)

26. What did you want and not get by year’s end?

I can't think of anything. How blessed am I?

27. What was your favorite film of the year?

I quite liked The Fault in Our Stars. I went by myself and sobbed into my popcorn.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I actually don't remember. Oh! I don't remember where, but we went out to eat with my family and then we had a cake made of meringue and chocolate shavings from the Swiss Pastry Shoppe which will forever and ever be my birthday cake of choice from now on.

29. What do you think would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A million dollars.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Whatever didn't have to be ironed.

31. What kept you sane?

My husband, friends, and kids, who made me laugh in spite of myself.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

David Tennant. I've told my husband that if the Tenth Doctor every shows up at our door and asks me to run away with him, I'm going. My husband, knowing the odds of this are less likely than being struck by lightning, agreed to this deal.

33. Who did you miss?

My late father-in-law was one of the best men I ever knew. He's been gone nine years and I still miss him.

I also missed the juniors I taught the year before, even the ones I thought were stinkers because they were WONDERFUL compared to the freshmen.

34. Who was the best new person you met?

A new teacher who moved here from El Paso, who delighted me with his intrepid sarcasm.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Do what you gotta do and don't feel bad about it.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up the year.

"I'm just gonna shake it off, shake it off!"