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I think I must have always been a writer. I think it’s something you’re born with. Part of you that is lying in wait. Patiently, quietly, waiting. Eventually, it awakens, stretching it’s arms and looking around, bleary eyed… blinking in confusion before the realization settles in… I am home.

I was in the third grade. Her name was Ms. Abraham. She was the anti-teacher. She was a rebel in a school of proper, southern, cardigan-wearing teachers. She was statuesque in front of the green chalkboard. Gum popping between her red painted lips. She was loud. Brash. She would roll her eyes and tease us while still commanding our respect. I felt more at home in her classroom than in any other. Her unique brand of sarcasm and affection and high expectations were both exhilarating and comforting to my eight year old brain.

She introduced me to writing. Creative writing was a staple in her lesson plans. The rules were simple. Use correct spelling and grammar. Other than that? Write about whatever you want. We would cut pictures out of magazines and use them for inspiration for a story. The lack of rules was confusing at first. The freedom to do whatever we wanted was unsettling. It was perfect.

My writing soul was born in that classroom.

I didn’t keep extensive journals or write a novel on the rainy summer days of my youth. I spent my free time reading, listening to music and running around the neighborhood with my friends. But I was writing, constantly writing in my mind.

I would lay on the floor of my room and daydream for hours while I listened to my favorite albums. I would concoct stories inspired by the songs. I could spend an entire day like that. Lost in my own mind.

I would rest a dog eared book on my stomach after devouring it and replay words and phrases over in my mind. Marveling at the sequences that rolled off the page and became a part of my thoughts, seeds of future inspiration.

I would lay in bed at night, never able to fall asleep at a decent hour. I would stare at the streetlight that filtered through my metal blinds and replay events of the day, editing and re-phrasing conversations, scripting and narrating.

I had scribbled notes and half stories and partially filled notebooks. But most of my writing took place in my head. Permanence was not a concern. It was the exercise that I was seeking, not documentation.

In college I slid between majors looking for my place. I dabbled in Biology and Journalism before finally settling on an English Major. My desire to indulge in classes that involved reading and writing drowning ideas of practicality. I told myself I’d get a job writing after college. I pictured myself working in a busy magazine office, surrounded by people who loved words as much as I did.

What I found was that getting paid to write usually involves paltry freelance fees that wouldn’t support a broke post graduate.

My desire to write became a notion. A luxury that would have to be set aside while I paid the rent and student loan bills and tried to avoid eviction from my apartment.

But it was still there. I was still narrating in my mind. I was still daydreaming and imagining how I would “write” whatever was happening in my life. I would relish road trips. Hours to drive with nothing but music and the wind and my thoughts.

Then life started moving fast. There was no time to actually write. There was work and marriage and then children. I thought less and less about my dreams of writing and focused fully on raising my children. Instead of listening to music for hours, I consumed parenting books and studied learning techniques and tried to create a warm home for my family. I could have made time to write. But for the first time since third grade I had little desire.

That all changed a few years ago.

I was driving by myself, I had the windows down and the music turned up. My music was on shuffle when the song shifted. An abrupt shift in tempo had me reaching to skip the song, but I paused.

Slow streams of music filled the car, begging me to listen. I slipped into a warm bath of words and sounds. I was transported.

I was back in third grade, running through neighbors’ back yards. I was back in my bedroom laying on the floor with my headphones on listening to music. I was back in the woods lounging in a makeshift fort telling stories with my friends, making plans for mischief.

The lyrics broke through the veneer of mom and wife and carpool driver. I listened to poetry playing out in haunting melody, the words swirling through the air like blue smoke, the tendrils finding their way to me. I breathed in the words and felt my eyes burn. Tears started spilling over, trickling down my cheeks. I laughed as I wiped away the tears. I hit repeat and took the long way home, not ready to let the feeling go yet. The song… the words… they stirred me. They opened up a part of me that I had filed away for future use.

My writing soul had been gently nudged awake.

I needed to have words in my life again. I needed to write. I needed to take the voice that had been accompanying me all these years and put it on paper.

I started writing. I wrote chapters that I had been composing in my head for years. I started writing for an audience and terrified myself with the thoughts of eyes reading my words. I started fretting over cliches and phrases and obsessing over what to write about. I felt nauseous the first time I hit Publish.

I still do. I feel nerves and fear and extreme vulnerability every time I publish.

But I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep listening to music that inspires me. Music that is written with pain and passion and longing. Artists that turn phrases that have my head spinning in admiration and envy.

The more I write, the more I find myself returning to what always sustained me. I will lay on the floor after my evening workout with my headphones on, lost in a song. I’ll brush off the thoughts of dishes piled in the sink waiting for me. I’ll take the long way home to feel the wind on my face and absorb the music. I’ll brush off my to do list for a few more moments of nourishment. I sit at my laptop and shuffle through my music until a song plays that has me feeling… something.

Music has always been my compass. It’s guided me through pain, through heartbreak, through grief. It’s been the salve for open wounds and the outlet for seething anger. It’s been the inspiration I was seeking.

It woke me from a long sleep. It reminded me of who I am. Of where I belong.

I am home.

 

 

 

 

Pull back the curtains and took a look into your eyes, my tongue has now become a platform for your lies

-Cage the Elephant, Back Against the Wall

I am posting all the lyrics for this one. Because there is no singling out of the best line. It is all pretty genius. And if you have the chance to see Cage the Elephant live… well, you must. It’s a crazy blend of energy and mayhem and pure adrenaline. We saw them on a one night trip to Vegas. They were opening up for The Black Keys. My husband (Joe) and I rode up in the elevator of the hotel with the band before the show. Joe chatted it up with them while I sat there with a stoopid grin on my face. The called me “Ma’am”….  A’hem, anyways…  They put on an insane show. Matt (lead singer) crowd surfed out of the building. The lyrics to this song read like a poetry slam and it rocks. Enjoy.

Back Against The Wall

Tonight I’ll have a look
And try to find my face again
Buried beneath this house
My spirit screams and dies again
Out back a monster wears a cloak of Persian leather
Behind the TV screen I’ve fallen to my knees
 I said you got me where you want me again
And I can’t turn away
I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool
I’m stuck here in between the shadows of my yesterday
I want to get away, I need to get away
Blanket of silence makes me want to sink my teeth in deep
Burn all the evidence of fabricated disbelief  
Pull back the curtains, took a look into your eyes
My tongue has now become a platform for your lies  
I said you got me where you want me again
And I can’t turn away
I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool
I’m stuck here in between
The shadows of my yesterday
I want to get away, I need to get away
Now you know, Yeah you got my back against the wall
Oh god I ain’t got no other place to hide, Chained down
Like a sitting duck just waiting for the fall
You know, yeah you got my back against the wall…
Deep in the jungle
Camouflaged by all the fallen leaves
A hand holds up the sky while shamefully I make my plea
The altar’s callin’ but my legs won’t seem to stand
Guess I’m a coward, scared to face the man I am
I said you got me where you want me again
And I can’t turn away
I’m hanging by a thread and I’m feeling like a fool
I’m stuck here in between the shadows of my yesterday
I want to get away, I need to get away
Now you know, Yeah you got my back against the wall
Oh god
I ain’t got no other place to hide
Chained down, like a sitting duck just waiting for the fall
You know, yeah you got my back against the wall

Now, you know, yeah you got my back against the wall,
Oh God, I ain’t got no other place to hide,
Chained down, like a sitting duck just waiting for the fall,
You know, yeah you got my back against the wall.

“So put me on a highway, and show me a sign.  And take it to the limit, one more time.”

-The Eagles, Take It To The Limit

I’ve been doing this thing, this whole blogging thing for a few months now.  I love it.  I didn’t know how much I’d love it.   That has been a welcome surprise.  I’ve always had two loves, writing and music.  One I can kinda do.  The other  not at all.  I have no musical talent.  But I love it and I live and breathe it and it inspires me.  Poetry is beautiful, but poetry set to music, in sync with music, is pure bliss.  I am in awe of people who can meld the two and create something from it.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that I start every single blog post with a song lyric.  There is a song, a lyric, a phrase, that encapsulates every thing I may ever want to write about.  And since I view life as a Jonathan Hughes or Cameron Crowe movie, I link lyrics to life events.  I have found that I actually think in song lyrics….   maybe that’s weird, but it’s the truth.   Something big or consequential happens and a line from a song pops in to my head and plays over and over.  I also narrate my life, inside my head, as if it is a book.  Think the voice over from Wonder Years or Arrested Development.  Not only do I narrate, but I try to make it sound lyrical, worthy of writing down.

I’ve had years of not putting one word down on paper.  Then I’ll hear a song.  And it affects me and I have to write.  What I write will in no way measure up to what inspires me, but it compels me to express myself and I think that has to be a good thing.  Some of these songs give me something to aspire to.  I love books, I have always loved to read, I read every day.  That definitely infuences the voice that I use, but it’s music that truly inspires me.  That, that is why I’m here.  I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember and I finally decided to put it in a paper trail.

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