Don’t Get Me Started

It’s too late. I’ve started. Upcoming rants and raves have started brewing in my head. I’m a slow writer – it can take me hours to do a post. Things that keep me up at 3:00 – the fretting hour:

  • Freelancing and Contractors – fear and loathing in the music world. No, I’m not going to rewrite Blair’s Book but I’ve got a few thoughts about this.
  • When is it time to get out of the way of the “hot, young players”? (and when did I get so old?)
  • How do you figure out when you’re wearing too many hats and starting to not look good in any of them? Focusing on a career instead of being jack of all trades, master of none.
  • Is the pencil mightier than the computer? When a fascination with technology gets in the way of creativity and productivity.
  • Floods of memories about places and people not thought of in years when an old friend finds you on the net.

OK. I’ve dared myself. Stay tuned. But time is scarce so don’t hold your breath. Give me a year or so.

Bad Memories

From time to time I get sudden flashbacks to some bad or embarrassing scene from the past. They make me shudder or exhale or sometimes even mutter something to try and make the thought pass on. They are nothing big and I don’t know why they plague me decades later but they live on in my body somewhere. One of the most frequent visitors is from college days – freshmen orientation, to be exact. It was the only time in my life I asked a total, absolute stranger for a date. We’d hardly had 20 words together before I asked her out. She declined, of course, but it was the gaping moment of silence that preceded that jabs me in the gut every now and then. I doubt she was stunned. I think she just wanted to see me squirm for a bit before she replied – give me time to regret. It worked.

But the memory that caught me off guard this morning is one that I’d forgotten for many years. It was third grade. Spring. The teacher told us to write a poem about Spring. I wrote the first thing that came to mind which was a song we’d learned to sing in second grade. It went like this:

“Robin, Robin, singing in the rain
Robin, Robin, Spring has come again”

and finished with something like:

“Pretty little Robin in the apple tree”

The teacher liked it so much (perhaps it had that familiar ring to it) that she sent it off to a children’s literary magazine who published it. I knew none of this until it was printed. My parents had signed a waiver to allow the publication, I might have even received some money, I don’t remember. I just remember being horrified that I would be found out – I had stolen this poem from our second grade sing-a-long book. I seem to remember trying to tell my mom that I hadn’t written this poem but I don’t remember her reaction or if she even understood what I was telling her.

I guess this all came back because it’s Spring – the robins are here. I can’t remember the third line of the song (and there were other verses but I only used the first one). If you know the rest or where it comes from let me know. The tune (on cello) is below if you want to listen.

UPDATE:

Thanks to the wonders of the internet – a total stranger found this post and sent me the song:

“Robin, Robin, singing in the rain,
  Robin, Robin, Spring has come again,
  Robin, Robin, sing a song for me,
  Pretty little robin in the apple tree.”
(sung at P.S.193, Brooklyn NY in the 1940’s) 

Many thanks to Linda Kelso!

 

And Sally writes:

“I have a good memory of my brother, now 59, singing the song about the robin. It has been in my head these past few days and I Googled what I remembered of the lyrics and came upon your post. My sister and I remember it as happy rather than pretty robin! Shared these memories and your post with a friend named Robin whose birthday is today. Thanks for sharing your memory of this song.

I am from Indiana. I think my grandmother, who was from Northern Indiana, or my aunt, who was a first grade teacher, also in Northern Indiana, taught my brother the song. He is now almost 59, so would have learned it in the late ’50s or early ’60s. He also remembers as happy/rather than pretty robin, and singing in the tree/rather than rain.”

 

And here’s the tune as I remember it:

Food for Thought

Back when life was crazier – on the road a lot and not taking time to take care of myself – I used to eat a lot of fast food, especially on the way to gigs. A good quick meal was a cheese burger and a small fries and a cup of really awful coffee. I don’t remember exactly at what point “small” fries disappeared from the burger chain menus but I just never could remember to order anything different and was always surprised to be reminded “we only have medium and large fries.” Why they couldn’t just give me medium fries when I asked for small I don’t know – I mean, it’s the smallest that they have. But no, I’d have to be reprimanded for asking for this non-existent item. I never figured out what was so uncool about small fries but in the burger world they were taboo. Well, after years of eating right I got a hankering for some grease the other day and being out and about decided to drop in on Mickey D – the old golden arches up in Hillsborough. Something odd caught my eye on the drive-through menu. Small Fries. 99 cents. Wow. I fell for it. But it was a trap. “Honey, are you sure you really want the small fries? The medium ones are just a penny more.” I was caught. What American could resist up-sizing for just a penny more. OK. I’ll take the medium ones. I had to stop in the middle of the parking lot just to make sure I really got my cheeseburger. It was buried under the largest pile of fries I had ever seen. My reward for making the right choice. I think I see what is happening here. Enough people complained about not having the option of getting only a small portion of grease and salt. The burger people listened. These are dangerous times for the fast food world. But that prejudice – whatever it is – against small fries is still strong and the marketing people have set out to prove that no one really wants small fries. They know you can’t resist up-sizing to the medium for just a penny more. For now it’s back to tempeh for me.

Now I get it

It’s dawning on me why this is so hard. I mean, I used to love to write – journals, poetry, long letters, music. It’s the tools that get in the way. Writing with pen and paper makes it easy to express subtle meanings – the shape and size of the script, extra strokes that add meaning. Many of these things are unconscious and maybe even reveal too much. But I’m fascinated with the possiblities of writing on the web and love looking at all the creative ways people use to get beyond mere typed text. Links and pictures and even music make it easy to go beyond the words. I especially love the hyperlinks that become more like additional information included in a footnote or in parentheses. Some posts contain so much extra optional information it’s easy to get lost in an endless series of links but it’s fun, too, like following random trails through the woods. Oh, let’s see where this one goes. But the tools aren’t under my fingers and that’s where things go wrong. I get bogged down in trying to do something simple like add a link or make something bold or italic and can’t even think about even more expressive tools and then I lose that train of thought – the flow. Yes, I’m still waiting for the day when there will be a direct hook-up to my brain and the music I hear will appear on the screen for some final touchup editing and the words that I think will instantly appear without the filter of my fumbling fingers. Sigh – not in this lifetime. So in my 50’s I continue to struggle to be able to just get a few things happening without too much thought and calculation and let the ideas flow. In my whole life I’ve only had two pieces of music come to me whole and complete enough to be able to hold onto them long enough to transcibe. Everything else is like vapor. I enjoy it while it’s here but it’s so quickly gone. Still beats listening to the radio, though. Speaking of the radio – well – I am listening to a sort of radio at the moment. One of the random plays at Magnatune brought me to this artist: Shira Kammen. Check out Music of Waters.