Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Archive for March, 2009

The Soundtrack of My Life

My life has many soundtracks.  Sesame Street and Walt Disney songs are my earliest recollections.  I had a kid’s record player and still have singles like “There Are Five People in My Family,” “It’s Not That Easy Being Green,” “The Alphabet Song.”  I was also a big fan of the Mickey Mouse Club.  Old time-y church hymns also remind me of my childhood.  (I’m Lutheran; we sing – lots!) Not so many weeks ago, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” in church brought tears to my eyes and the ghostly sound of Grandma Wilt’s strong singing voice right to my mental ear.

I remember the raging musical debates over Shaun Cassidy and some other pop star (maybe Andy Gibb?) at the time when I was in 3rd grade.  I remember not caring much about either one as a singer, except that Shaun Cassidy was one of the Hardy Boys on TV, so I put myself into his camp.  I did have a Shaun Cassidy album I found at a garage sale.  It skipped during “Da Doo Run Run“.

My dad was a HUGE Beach Boys fan.  We’d listen to “Endless Summer” on 8-track in the sky-blue 1970 Chrysler convertible while cruising home from wherever.  That album is still THE summer album of choice and must never EVER be played in the winter unless you are in Florida.  I think the Beach Boys were the first group I saw in concert at Blossom Music Center – with my parents.  It didn’t even feel weird.

My mom liked lots of music, but the Lettermen stand out in my mind.  We saw them live at the Front Row in Cleveland.  The seating was circular, around the stage which itself turned.  It was a neat place.  My mom also liked show tunes, though I don’t remember having tapes or albums of anything but “Annie.”

I think I got my first walkman when I was 12.  The whole world was amazed at the thought of carrying your music with you in your pocket (pockets were LARGE back then).  The first tapes that I personally owed were Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  I have no idea why I received those – I know I didn’t ask for them, but they were “hot” at the time, I guess.

Jesus Loves Me was sung at my 8 year old sister’s funeral when I was 12; my kids don’t get why that one makes me cry in church sometimes but one day maybe they’ll understand.

I went to high school in the 1980’s, so those are the “oldies but goodies” for me.  Certain songs conjure very specific memories of school dances, but nothing I can recall specifically at the moment.

When I started dating, every boyfriend of significance left his own musical mark on my life.  My first serious boyfriend was – and still is – a Mannheim Steamroller fan.   The next long-term boyfriend was a serious Rush fan.  Tom Sawyer is my favorite Rush song.  The Beatles will always make me think of  John. And John Denver, too. I sang the Steven Curtis Chapman song “I Will Be Here” for John at our reception.  Still don’t know how I pulled it off without crying.  I was the only one NOT teary.

Some music crosses life stages. The “Jesus Christ, Superstar” album always comes out this time of year.  I have vivid recollections of my younger self flopped on the rainbow-colored shag carpet on the floor in front of the  entertainment center in our “New Room” trying to follow along with the lyrics inside the album and figure out their meaning.

The several hours of Christmas music my dad taped from the radio some year became THE Petersen Christmas tape, the one we always decorated the tree to.  I still have the original tape with his handwriting listing the songs and singers.  One of John’s most thoughtful Christmas gifts to me was splicing that tape back together when it broke and digitizing it so I would have it forever.  I wouldn’t let him edit it, though.  The skips in the “on, on they send; on without end” part of “Carol of the Bells” still give me chills.

The Sound of Music meant staying up late to watch the whole movie as a kid, then going to the real places in Europe on the oh-so-cheesy but fun “Sound of Music” tour.  We using the wedding processional from the movie in our wedding (sans the ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria’ motif, though that might have been apt foreshadowing!) and later went on the same Sound of Music tour together and stood in the church where that wedding scene was filmed.

When we had kids, we knew each one needed to have a special song and a special mix CD.  Emily’s song was “Baby Mine” from Dumbo and her CD is called Schinklet Songs (because “Schinklet” was what we called her before she was born!).  We used “Borning Cry” at her baptism (and for the seating of the moms at our wedding.  I cannot even hear the first few notes without tearing up!)

Megan’s song is “La La Lu,” the lullaby from Lady and the Tramp.  Her CD is called Toddler Tunes because we like alliteration – and also had a toddler running around by then.  “You Are a Masterpiece” was the song sung at Meg’s baptism.  I have the sheet music saved in case she grows up and has never heard it.  It’s a gorgeous song.

James Keelaghan‘s music has been a large part of our family life.  We discovered and heard him live before we had kids; several of his songs are on our kids’ mix CD’s; and we’ve heard him in concert every few years for a while now (when he can make it down from Canada).  A few years back, we took the kids to hear him live in Kent and this coming May, he’s going to be in Columbus so we are all going down to hear him again.

There are probably more songs in my life’s soundtrack, but this post is long enough for now.  HUGE hat tip to Bonnie at Crib Chronicles for the inspiration for this post!

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All’s Well That Doesn’t End

Part of my most recent blogging hiatus can be blamed on Plurk, a social microblogging site I discovered in December of 2008.  Though I haven’t stayed up ’til all hours  – or even all night – chatting like I did when I discovered my first online community in college in 1990, I have met many neat people from literally around the world.

Two of my Plurk friends – one from Vancouver, Canada and one from York, England – are poised to meet face-to-face next week, and they are both a bit nervous about it.  This post about one of my earliest face-to-face encounters with an online friend is largely for their benefit.

How I viewed the VAX in those days!

Back in the old days of the internet (1989-1990), this whole online chatting-connecting-texting phenomenon was in its infancy.  I came home from Europe, fell out of a three-year romantic relationship I’d had since high school, and found respite in a strange new digital world, albeit one basically restricted to the campus on which I was attending college.  I fell in love with VMS Phone, a comparatively primitive messaging system through which you could actually talk by typing in real time to people who were simultaneously online on campus.  Radical!  It was neat to watch each letter appear as the other person typed (there was no “instant” in instant messaging in those days!).

I spent hours glued to either my own computer or to a computer in one of the campus labs, unless it was time for class, studying, or a broomball game (my favorite sport, but that’s for another post).  I even joined MCUG (Miami Computer Users Group) so I could meet face to face the people I was “meeting” online.

In addition to VMS Phone, our school network had installed CoSy, a bulletin board system.  With this software, anyone on campus could create a profile, basically an info page about themselves.  If there was no one online with whom to chat on VMS Phone, I’d sometimes go browse the profiles on CoSy.  Mostly, I just read the profiles, but every so often, I’d find someone who looked interesting and I’d email them a message.

On March 27th, 1990 (or so I’m told), I sent one such message to someone who I thought, from his profile, might have gone to school with some girls who transferred into my high school.  He didn’t know them, but we got to talking about lots of other things via email.  Frequently. Long-windedly.

Eventually, there was a MCUG meeting coming up and I invited him to come so we could meet face-to-face.  He begged off, saying he had too much Calc II homework.  I went anyway and did what people always did at MCUG meetings: plopped down at a computer, logged on, and chatted with people all over the room via computer.  Pretty soon, I saw that HE was online.  I promptly chastised him for saying he had too much work when he clearly had time to be online.  He asked how I knew he WASN’T there.

Well, THAT got my attention!  So I ripped my eyes away from the screen and looked around the room, only to find a guilty looking, grinning guy sitting DIRECTLY BEHIND me.  He had been there the whole time!  Apparently, the plan was to scope me out and make sure I wasn’t hideous before he admitted to being in the room.  This was easy to do, since I was one of only two women in MCUG at the time.

To make a long story short(er), our 15 year wedding anniversary comes up October 22, 2009!

So I don’t worry about meeting online friends face to face.  It’s always turned out ok for me.

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