Thursday, October 19, 2006

How did I get THAT song stuck in my head?

What makes a song get in your head?

I often wonder this as I walk around with a song stuck in my head [I should note that it's usually broken-record-style in that it's one particular part of a song that plays over and over again. I rarely get through a whole song when it's stuck in my head.]

This week, I've had such a random assortment of songs running through my head at any given time, including (but by no means is this an exhaustive list): Buttons by the Pussycat Dolls, about 5 different Christmas songs, World I Know by Collective Soul, Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, and an assortment of Les Miz songs.

Some of them I know why I have in my head. For example: I went shopping today and one of the stores I was in was playing Buttons and poof! in my head. Fine. Easy to explain.

But why do I have Christmas songs in my head? Like The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Let It Snow, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), and a couple of others. It's so random!!!

And why Les Miz songs? Perhaps this means I need to make a trip to NYC to see the play. I remember getting Phantom of the Opera songs in my head before I went to see it on Broadway last spring with my mom. But then, I knew I was going, so that's probably the reason those songs were in my head. Why I start humming On My Own in the shower or feel the need to put Bring Him Home and One Day More on my "random songs" playlist in iTunes...I can't explain it.

It's so odd to me, and whenever I'm hit with a random tune I'm completely fascinated with the idea of how the song suddenly started playing on the record player in my brain. [Or it could be a CD-player. It turns out I don't actually know what musical playback device my brain employs to play songs through my mind.]

Loosen up my buttons, baby (uh-huh)
But you keep frontin'
Sayin' what you gon' do to me (uh-huh)
But I ain't seen nothin'...

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle-belling
And everyone telling you
Be of good cheer...

I love him, but when the night is over
He is gone, the river's just a river
Without him, the world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers...

And so I offer you this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you...

Oh man. I believe I've posted in the past about the idea of life having its own soundtrack played by the songs running through your head. I wonder what the assortment of songs in my head this week does for the overall theme of my current life soundtrack (i.e. the one playing as I type). It would definitely be one of the most random albums you could buy if you picked it up off the shelf at a music store one day, that's for sure...

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Looking into the future of the little girl I once was...

When I was a young girl I was obsessed with the thought of what I would be like when I was older.
[I'm sure I was not alone. Every girl, every boy I'm sure, every body wonders this at some point in their childhood. It's a natural thing to wonder.]

I'm not talking obsessed as in that's all I thought about day and night. Nor am I saying I tried to be older than I was. I was, am, and always will be proud of my youth and my youthful outlook on life. Perhaps fascinated is a better word.

Because I was. Fascinated. I was fascinated with what I would look like, how I would act, what would change about me, what I didn't want to change about me, what I would do with myself, who my friends would be, what my job would be, where I would live. I used to think about the whole package and wonder with all my little might who and what I would someday become.

I'd look in the mirror and wonder what parts of my face would change as it matured into a woman's face. I knew well enough that I'd always look like "me," but I also knew that certain parts would look older, would mature with time, would take on a more adult-like appearance. I'd examine my features in the mirror and try to imagine them shifted into an older person's face. Sort of like my imagination's version of the computer aging models that police stations use when trying to find a suspect or a long lost child or something.

I'd try to imagine what I'd wear as a woman in the work-world. What would my job be? Would I like it? Of course it'd be a job where I made lots of money, but I truly hoped it would be a job that I loved. (And really, I my little brain pretty much decided at the time that it would have to be a job I loved or I wouldn't dream of taking that job.)

I'd spend hours wondering who my husband would be. I'd try to imagine his face. Try to think of what he would say to me. What would his job be like? What would our children look like? What would our house be like, and where would we live? And let me tell you, I got pretty detailed in my imaginings. It changed day-by-day, year-by-year, but I could have drawn the blueprints of my house. I could have sketched portraits of my husband and children (granted, I'm not a portrait-artist, so they wouldn't have looked nearly as good as they did in my head). I could have written transcripts of imagined conversations we'd have. But I knew that those were all in my imagination. I wanted to know what the real stuff would be like.

As I became more aware of the world full of adults of varying ages, styles, cultures, customs, and stations in life, I began to wonder where I'd eventually fit in to that world.

It's funny - now I'm actually the adult I've always wondered about. I have the yet youthful, but definitely matured adult features in my face (down to a few tiny wrinkles forming under my eyes). I have a job. I have a life of my own. I have my friends. I have my habits and my hobbies. I have become the person I always wanted to know so much about when I was little. And as I was trying to fall asleep tonight, I was struck by this thought. I've reached a checkpoint on the road of my life as defined by the little girl I once was. I'm a young woman, living an adult life, in an adult world, fending for herself and living independently. I'm creating the reality I'd always tried to imagine in my girlish daydreams of old.

I can't help but wonder what that little girl would think if she knew that she'd someday be the woman I am now. Would she be excited to be living my life? Would she like who she saw staring back at her in the mirror? Would she be happy with what I've accomplished at this point in my life? Would she be sad that I'm not married with children on the way? Would she be proud of the person she was destined to become?

I feel certain she would indeed be excited to become the person I am today. I think she'd be proud of the life I've defined for myself thus far. Perhaps she'd lament the fact that there's yet no man of consequence in my life yet, but I believe she'd genuinely look forward to her future self. And I guess my only basis I have for this certainty is simply that when I look back on my life 10-15-20 years ago, I'm happy about the decisions I've made. I'm proud of the way I've handled myself - through tough situations and past mistakes. I do admit that I feel the lack of a man in my life, and that I want so badly to have someone to share my life with. But I'm sincerely happy that that want doesn't dictate how my current life is lived. I'm convinced that, though I'm far from perfect and though I may not have everything I hoped I'd have at this age, I always try to do the best I can with the hand I'm dealt. [And really, let's be honest, the part of me that wondered what my husband and children would be like hasn't left yet. It still is filled with wonder and anticipation about who that man will be and when I will meet him and how I will meet him, etc, etc, etc. And I'm kinda glad that sense of wonder hasn't left me.]

Certainly my little mind from my childhood days would not analyze quite much in depth. She'd see things in a simpler light. But I like to think that she'd smile at knowing she'd one day be me. That she'd think I was pretty, that she'd love that she would someday be a dancer, that she'd get excited about my plans for my career. I like to think that my small little self, wondering about her future, would take comfort in knowing that she'd grow up to be a successful, ambitious, caring, beautiful (inside and outside), and well-liked woman. I think she'd like my Beacon Hill sunsets, too.

[Note: this could potentially read as a way to toot my own horn and talk myself up. If so, then that's the reader's prerogative, of course. But, the way I see it, everyone needs to remind themselves what they like about themselves, and what they need to remember to see about themselves. This is, I guess, my way of reminding me that I feel like I'm on the right track and that I am indeed proud of who I've become. Because, in the end, if I'm not proud of who I am, what's the point in doing anything?]

This song just played as I wrote my last post, and it fits my mood all too perfectly!

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do

I believe that beauty magazines promote low self-esteem
I believe that i am loved when i'm completely by myself alone

I believe in karma: what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love till you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important then monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold

I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in karma: what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love till you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye


I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death until eternity

I believe in karma: what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love till you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The perfect day: what that means to me

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation and the only explanation I can find... the warmth of companionship when I'm with my friends and the buzz of the city as it strolls through the autumn days on its way to another winter.

I had a truly beautiful Saturday. Really. Full of life, a perfect fall day, lots to do, and the hours crept by slowly but pleasantly--allowing me to savor each moment as it passed. I caught up with a friend at our volunteer job that we do every Saturday (but lately either she's been gone or I've been gone, so we haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks). And after a relaxed lunch at home, reading one of my favorite books of all time (Emma, by Jane Austin), a friend called to say he was in the neighborhood, so I spent a few hours walking the downtown area with him and his mom (who was in town for the weekend to visit). Then, 2 newer friends (whom I met this past summer) came to see my new apartment, meet my new roommates, and spend the evening with me. We cooked dinner together, watched a movie together, and had a grand time the whole way through.

I guess the point of this post isn't so much to create a mini-synopsis of my day. [Completely random side-note: I love the word synopsis . There's something so charming about the mixture of its spelling and its definition, isn't there?]

The point is to make the observation that I'm a very lucky person. I have a world of friends with whom I enjoyed spending time. On the phone with old friends from school or my wonderful family. Out for a walk with friends I've gotten to know during my now two year tenure in Boston. Dinner and a movie with new friends with whom I'm getting better acquainted. A night out on the town with friends I made last year who enjoy livin' it up in the night life of the city.

I have friends to spend time with doing all of the things I love doing. Friends to compliment every side of the person I've come to define as me. I am such a social creature. I love being around people. I find them fascinating to watch, to interact with, to talk to. People are so fun because their all, as individuals, so very different. And because of my love of people and social interaction, I also find myself often a part of many different social circles. To find such amazing people in each of these circles I belong to - people I have the privilege of calling my friends - makes me a truly lucky person.

It's also fun to have days like these, you know? You don't always get to enjoy such an exquisitely perfect Saturday. I like to savor the joy I get in having one of these perfect days while the memory of it is so fresh. It renews my sense of beauty in the world. It renews my happiness with life and all it brings to me. It renews my sense of wonder at how life is so intricately sewn together to create the complexities, obstacles, joys, sorrows, and true happiness that we all bump into as we jostle our way through the crowds of other beings that are written into the novel of our existence.

Hmh. There's just nothing left to say except that I love this life that I live! :)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Feed your whole self

"Food for the body, food for the mind, food for the heart, and food for the soul."

I was just getting ready to settle down for the night and watch a movie, when that sentence popped into my head with such a strong force that I had to write it down. It sort of fits with the sentiment/mood/motion of life that I'm in right now.

And I like it a whole lot.

Food for the body
My goal for this year [note: I still measure "a year" in terms of the school calendar. A year starts in September, and thus ends in August.] is to learn how to cook. And I don't mean just mom's meatballs or grandma's hotdish [read: casserole for all you New Englanders out there]. I mean really learn how to cook. Learn what spices will add which flavors. Learn what works best when putting foods together. Learn to bake more complicated things.

But, as I've been starting this process of learning to cook, I've found myself paying much closer attention to eating healthily as well. I try to put together balanced meals when I'm trying out a new recipe. And I've been consciously not eating as much junk food because I know I have good-tasting stuff at home that's much more healthy.

I also have become a lot more active in the last few years. I dance like crazy. I walk almost everywhere in Boston. I'm starting some new dance classes. And I've started to do pilates and stretching regularly on a regular basis. I feels wonderful. I find I sleep better, which in turn rejuvenates my body so it's ready for a new day each morning when I wake up. I'm feeding my body wholesome, good things to satisfy it's natural hunger.

Food for the mind
I read a lot more than I have been used to in the past. I write more (here and other places). I've found people who like to discuss matters. People I can have engaging conversations with and from whom I can learn new things. My new job is teaching me new skills. I allow myself time to ponder questions that pop into my head at random times throughout my days and weeks and months.

I'm also beginning to think about actually going back to school for a graduate degree. It's always been a goal, but an untouchable one. I'm starting to be able to focus on a tangible reality that includes school. It's very exciting. And as I think about this, I consider taking extension courses just to start exercising my brain a little more than it's been used to over the past few years. All of these things feed my mind with the stuff it craves--active brain usage and exploration.

Food for the heart
I've made some amazing friends over the past year. People I really care about and people who truly care about me, instead of people who are there as companions but have little else to tie me to them. These friends have taught me the value in laughing and sharing joys and sorrows. They've shown me what true kindness is. They've taught me to open my world up to allow people to love me.

And that's not to say that I am consciously completely opposed to love. I'm not. I love love. (haha--that sounds funny) But I've always shied away from showing it or allowing someone to show it to me. And I'm also not speaking about romantic love, but friendly love. There have been very few people in my life that I allow to get that close to me, close enough to see everything about me and have the chance to truly love me for who I am. It's a very vulnerable state that I tend to lock up so securely that no one can get in.

Now, these friends are new, they haven't made it all the way in. But they're showing me what it means to earn a person's trust enough for that person to open themselves up fully without feeling that, in that vulnerable state, others will attack. These people aren't doing this consciously with a lesson plan in hand mind you, but merely through their actions and interactions with me and with each other. It's an amazing experience. They are providing the food for my heart, allowing it to fill up with the stuff it desires and deserves.

Food for the soul
I have been searching for quite sometime now. Searching for my beliefs, my faith. Do I fit into a religion? Do I believe in God, like I was brought up to believe? Do I consider myself Christian, as I was brought up to be? Searching, laying to rest and trying to forget, picking back up and searching again...for not quite ten years now. 8 perhaps. That's a long time. And my soul has felt empty since I first began to question and stray from the religious path laid out for me.

Quite recently, I have discovered a group of amazing people who have helped me understand more clearly what I was searching for, and in some cases, they've actually helped me find the answers to some of the questions I've had in my head for 8 years or more. Through them, I have been able to calm my world down enough to ponder my beliefs. With their help, I've discovered that I do believe in God, but that I do not believe God "belongs" to one religion. God does not actually belong to any religion, but is the God of all of us. And we all know God in our own way. Different religions talk about God in different ways. Some have a different word/name for God. Some name many forms of the Ultimate Being. And then there are some people who don't place themselves in any religion. Who believe they are completely secular. But they too speak of God in their own language.

I don't mean to preach here. I simply wish to impart this amazing revelation that I have recently stumbled across. A revelation that has brought me to a sense of peace. A revelation that is very new to me, and that I continue to explore and consider everyday. I am finding ways to fill the void that my soul has been in for so long, and feed my soul with the richness of faith that it yearns to embrace.

Healthy eating and living, education and reflection, true friends and people to care about, growing in my faith with each passing day.

Food for the body, food for the mind, food for the heart, food for the soul.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A toast to the fall

It's starting to get cold...

...which means I get to break out my store of coats...

...and my store of scarves, hats, mittens, gloves...

...and winter is coming!!!

I must say, however, that although I adore wintertime, there is something magical about the fall. And I think I've come to appreciate this season so much more since I moved to Boston. Minnesota has fall, sure, for about a week between summer and winter. [Okay, perhaps I exaggerate a might actually be 2 weeks...haha!]

But New England really knows this season well. I must say it gets a one-up over Minnesota for the fall season. The leaves gradually change their color; they lazily fade out of their green summer color, and then one day burst into brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows for one last hurrah before the winter hits. The air gets cooler. Not cold, but crisp. I don't think one can truly appreciate the description of a "crisp" day until they've experienced a New England day in the fall. Crisp. Mm, love it. The wind blows in a certain way that's very distinct to fall. It whistles a bit more, and tousles your hair in a playful, hap-hazard way. It carries the scent of fall with it everywhere it goes. And that's the thing...the wind is everywhere with you during the fall. Anywhere I go, the wind is right there beside me...seemingly skipping along beside me and giggling to itself as it pretends to ignore me over and over again.

People wear scarves in the fall, too. That I love! I love that look of a light fall coat with a scarf wrapped around the neck. There's something so cozy about that look on a person. It makes me think of sipping apple cider with a cinnamon stick in it in front of a fireplace, watching the wind whip around in its playful way out of the window.

And really, that's what fall is. It's apple picking and cider sipping. It's pumpkin carving and pie making. It's scarf donning and pleasant evening walks in the crisp cool air right before dusk. It's colored leaves riding the wind and birds flying south in preparation for the coming winter. It's knitting a sweater or scarf or hat with mug of warm soup beside you. It's the smell of a fireplace and the scent of cinnamon and other yummy spices wafting from open windows.

I constantly feel the need to breathe in deeply to take in the fall air and then let out a big sigh of contentment (heh, just did). There's a beauty to the fall that no other season can claim. A beauty, a magical element, a sense of tranquility and thoughtfulness that the other seasons can't quite give.

So, raise your mug of steaming apple cider, hold the cinnamon stick to the side, and take big sip. Here's to the fall!

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