Tuesday, June 28, 2016

for Freckles

This is not enough, but it will have to do somehow. My first roommate and bestie, the reason I hesitate to say any friend is "like a sister to me" (few friendships are as complex as sisterhood is) is turning 50 today, and after a month of humming and hawing and "shoot we should have planned something," this is what she gets. 

Freckles and I shared a room from when I was born until we were 12 and 14. I'm sure she must have hated it more than I did. I don't remember hating it. I remember being purposefully annoying (as little sisters are), and being relieved she was there when I was frightened (which was often, especially when night terrors came), and laughing hilariously at very stupid things. And her feeble attempts to uproot me from the top bunk when I just wouldn't shut up. 

I also remember being lost when she suddenly left at 14 to go live with our aunt and uncle in Bel Air. Okay, it wasn't Bel Air, but c'mon ... I was sad and confused and lonely - and jealous that she got to leave the going-nowhere town I despised. I can only imagine how she felt. 

Freckles was also the person, when she came back home 2 years later, who introduced me to Motown and Michael Jackson. R&B and Soul are still my two favourite kinds of music, thanks to her. If she hadn't been so world-wise lord knows what awful music I'd claim as my own. 

Freckles and I are about as alike as we look. She's petite and brunette and, well, freckled. HA. I was 18 months and she was 3 when I surpassed her in height, but she's always been able to whip me back in line. She's also introverted and plain speaking to my extroverted circumlocution. If I had a dollar for every time she quietly poked and I loud-mouthedly reacted and got in trouble, well, maybe she'd be getting more than a blog post for her birthday. She makes me laugh like crazy - which is generally a good thing, but less so in church. Sigh. 

I sometimes don't ask Freckles for advice on things as I know she'll be honest with me and I know I don't want the honest answer. But when I do want the truth, no matter how sharp an edge it may have on it, I know she'll give it with the best intentions for me and deep insight into who I really am. When I was in Jamaica, very drunk on rum punch and sobbing alone in my hotel room on my first weekend excursion, it was Freckles who knew best what I needed to hear. I forgot (ignored) what she said for a while since coming home, but it was/is powerful and keeps me facing forward. Sometimes - like last week - her truth comes straight out of nowhere and hits a mark I didn't know what even up. She believes in me in a way I have never been able to believe in myself. Sometimes someone else's belief is enough, at least to get you started.

Freckles, I wish I was with you today, laughing too loudly and embarrassing you with garish celebrations. Better yet, I wish we were off somewhere exotic drinking out of pineapples and toasting your golden birthday. But I'm here and you're there and once more the thought will have to count. 

I love you. 
Mexico 2013, in which I learn that sometimes it is better to travel with someone else. :) 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

that pesky green frog

A mini-post to share two aphorisms with you that I just can't get out of my head lately. The first is a drop of folk wisdom I remember from grad school. The second is the coaching of a dear friend during some dark relationship moments of a decade ago.

A green frog doesn't have to tell you it's green.


When someone tells you who they are, be skeptical; when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

the playlist

My darling and brilliant friend Erin used to write a weekly music review in the Guardian online. It generally focused on music from the Caribbean (reggae, dancehall and soca) with insights into society and culture. She intelligently assessed pop culture to both entertained and informed. This is not that. 

I've had two weeks of chrysalis bursting, resulting in the need for a really fantastic "I am woman hear me kick my own ass and bust some serious moves" playlist. I put out a call for song suggestions to one of my favourite groups of powerful women, and the variety of responses was interesting. A bit Lilith Fair singer-songwriter angsty and/or hipster way too cool for me, but also some great "oh ya I love that song" moments.

Since crowd-sourcing was a bit of a miss, I decided to do some digging on my own. A week later, I think I've got a starting point. HA! Two insights I've had falling down my youtube rabbit hole of female power pop: 
  1. It is a na├»ve surprise to me that almost all songs that purport to be female empowerment songs are really about getting a man, keeping a man, getting over a man, showing a man what he lost, etc. Perhaps it's time to come up with a Bechdel test for music - it can't be about the boxes his stuff is in, or what you're going to do to his truck, or, really, about him at all. The songs that pass the SCWink pop music test are just about how awesome it is to be a woman. How powerful we can be. How resourceful, and creative, and loving (as mothers, daughters, friends, and THEN lovers). A part of what I love about being a woman is the alchemy that happens with some men, but that is not the totality of who I am, and until now it has not been the part that designs and creates an awesome life full of adventure. In short, the SCWink pop music test looks for songs that speak to the 93% of a woman that isn't her vagina.
  2. In the end, I had to embrace the fact that I am not one of the music elite. I love pop music. If I could only listen to one genre of music the rest of my life it would be R&B. I have a secret corner of my heart that only certain country songs speak to. There's little room for bitter irony on my list. We're wearing hot pink sundresses for this one, not slouchy hats and worn out flannel. 
This is not a list about cheating lovers or lowered expectations. This is not a playlist about him, or them, or I'll show you. It might be my running list as I train for the first race I've competed in since high school. It might be what plays as I apply the defibrillator pads to my writing intentions. Heck, it might just be what pours out my car windows as I roll out on a random adventure. It is, as I am, a work in progress. It's 100% ALRIGHTY - HERE WE GO! It makes me tap my fingers, throw my hands in the air, sing and dance. 

Wanna know what 20 songs currently make the "SCWink Unlimited" cut?

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