Top Albums I Listened to While Growing Up

We Listen To The Same Music Now…

Sexy Boys

I started listening to my older sister’s music: The Mama’s and the Papa’s and Chad and Jeremy (does anyone else remember them?) When I was in high school I listened to John Denver, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens. I still listen to all of them with the exception of Chad and Jeremy, but I am going to listen to them now, because whatever was old can still be new. Enjoy.

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Dedicated to my sister, Emma

Someone I Wish I Were Closer To

Two Sisters

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*”She Rides In The Front Seat, She’s My Older Sister”

* song by Carly Simon

I didn’t have to think long for an answer; the question was already answered in my mind and in my heart before I stopped reading the prompt. Who would I pick?  My sister. We look nothing alike but many people say we sound exactly alike, especially on the phone. Sounding identical on the phone came in very handy for practical jokes when she grew tired of talking to a guy or a girlfriend and handed the receiver over to me; I joyfully took over. No one ever knew, we laughed about that a lot, it is still a funny memory. We tricked our dad all the time he could never tell us apart on the phone, tricking mom was a challenge but we even got her once or twice.

We may be connected by blood but we don’t really have a lot in common. Our mother and father used to call us Day and Night, probably not a good thing to encourage a warm, trusting, sibling relationship but they were right. You probably could not find two more dissimilar sisters if you tried.

We are opposite in most everything. If I love a movie (Ferris Bueller) she will hate it. If she recommends a Doctor (she did) I hated him on sight. We have no preconceived notions it’s just that are tastes are so different. When she picks out a present for someone she buys what she would love to have; when I buy a present I think of what the person will like based on who they are.

Our hearts must be wired differently as well as our personalities. I’m trying so hard, so deliberately NOT to push buttons or start a fight. We have the same issues for each other yet with different circumstances. I feel like I walk on eggshells when I talk to her and she feels the same way about me. There are dangerous, hidden explosive mines that should probably all be detonated by now but I’m afraid they are not. They explode a few times a year and I’m being conservative.

I always wanted a Hallmark sister, I longed to buy one of those cards that said “To My Sister And Best Friend” but I couldn’t. I wanted us to be the two sisters in the photograph above, loving, sweet, bound by an indescribable connection. I wanted an older sister to play with me, someone I could rely on for support and warmth. Someone that would teach me things about boys and make-up but our five and a half-year difference and our different styles made it hard if not impossible. She probably wanted another person like herself, more adventurous and wild but we can’t seem to meet half way on anything.

I love my sister, I wish we weren’t that different but we are. Understanding each other will never happen; now we are trying for acceptance but that’s really hard too. I wish my sister was my friend, I wish she was my best friend but she isn’t. I wish we didn’t have the complicated emotional history we have; we’re the Yankees vs the Red Sox, the chocolate to vanilla, our pet names for each other were “stupid” and “ugly” and that just sounds so wrong. But, we were also “tuna fish” as we said good-night to each other through a fake wall partition and “peanut butter,” and that exchange usually lasted a good ten or fifteen minutes or more. Until one of us started to get tired and then we would ask good-naturedly “What time is it?” just to prolong our simple game.

My most favorite memories when we were older and our parents would still be sleeping but she and I would wake up and gather around the kitchen’s white formica table and sip coffee together and talk. In the end, she is my only sibling and when our mother dies we will have our history and memories to link us together. Maybe then, we will be able to put away our differences and cling to what we have left: each other.

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“What Music Do You Work Out To?”

Simon and Garfunkel Mrs Robinson UK EP

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Non-Work Out Music?  Sure.

Oh, be serious, not EVERYONE works out. I am not speaking just for myself but on behalf of some friends of mine…..well, we don’t work out at all. We walk. I can’t honestly say this is a work-out though it is well-intentioned but speed walkers we are not. We stroll, we talk, we share and we don’t listen to music but to each other. It’s our time to be with each other, when the wind is a gentle breeze, when the sun is not intense and when it is not cold out. Are we particular when we want to walk outside? You bet! Besides, I am the most particular since I have a chronic pain disease called Fibromyalgia and usually I have to conquer my aches and pains to even get out the door. It isn’t easy.

If I was to walk alone or use the treadmill ( LOL) the songs I would listen to would be “Story” by Sarah Ramirez (from Grey’s Anatomy), a 1980′s song by the group, Red, whose name I have forgotten entirely and possibly anything upbeat from the Beatles, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Simon and Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I am stuck in the 1970′s with my taste in music and when CD’s were not born yet and I listened to records, over and over again. Unfortunately, my chubby body is still stuck in the seventies as well! The best thing about being in your fifties, is image matters less and quality of life matters much, much more. Enjoy your life, whether you work out or not.

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I Have AlwaysImagined Myself As A SINGER

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at concert, Augus...

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In my own fantasy, I am already a great singer. I love to sing, out loud, off-key and happily. It doesn’t matter to me that I can’t carry a tune or that I am practically tone deaf. Singing can lure me out of a bad mood to a good one (ok, not always, I admit.) I am singing the music from the last Gray’s Anatomy musical show, I sing the songs from Glee, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Carly Simon and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I have been living in the seventies for a long time “Helplessly Hoping” that I will always enjoy these songs and that I will always be able to sing with a smile on my face and a nod to the past.

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Ferris Bueller ROCKS!

Carly Simon wrote a song called “My Older Sister” the first line being: “She rides in the front seat, she’s my older sister..she knows her power over me.” That has been the anthem of my life but it took me years not only to appreciate that I have an older sister but to embrace it. I am the 53-year-old “baby” of the family and I have an older sister who is 59.  For siblings, that’s a HUGE difference in age, it’s like we were born two separate, only, children.

When I was born she had no use for me and especially as she got older, I was just in the way. A nagging little sister who wanted someone to play with her. When we sang together she sang vocals, and I sang back-up.  Always. I became the little sister to one of her friends, who loved me and played with me. “I wish Mickey was my sister” was said by me more than a few times. She didn’t seem to care. To this day, I am closer to Mickey (Michal) than she is, that bond never broke.

When my sister and I were growing up our parents referred to us as night and day, sun and moon. There are no two siblings that were more different than us. Even our appearances are completely different, I have a very pale complexion (known in the family as cream cheese) and she is robust and ruddy, as if she is sunburned all year round, white vs red.  The only thing that we have in common is our voice, we sound exactly alike on the phone and often used to fool people  by pretending to be each other. When my sister was bored talking to one of her friends she would ask me to take over and I would,  them being none the wiser. We still laugh about it. We could always fool our father, that was easy, but taking mom down was much tougher; I think in all the years we tried she only fell for it once or twice. She prides herself on that.

That which separated us before, brings us together now, with humor. When my sister loves a certain Dr. and swears up and down that I will love him, I will go but sure enough I will see him and hate him. I did that two months ago, I hated his cold, brusque demeanor, his rapid (and painful) examination, the smirk on his face.  After her exuberant description, when he walked into the room I thought it was another Dr. that had just borrowed his white coat. That’s how strongly I felt against him; this is my sister’s favorite Dr;. she looks forward to seeing him. Different people, different siblings.

Restaurants are tricky too, the Asian -Fusion place I adore, she thinks is only mediocre, if that. We do agree on the delicious tuna sandwiches at the Thornwood Diner and the sandwiches at Lange’s Deli.  The book I have loved, the tv show I hated, all opposite opinions. It’s so unpredictable that it is indeed predictable. It’s the bond of opposites.

Movies were the first thing that showed us how different we really were; that truly separated us. When I saw the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” I called her excitedly and told her it was the best movie I had ever seen. It was witty and sharp, cute and funny; to this day I love that movie. She saw the movie and called the next day asking if I was “on drugs and questioning my sanity?”  She absolutely HATED the movie, every second of it; she may have even walked out. Game on.

What used to divide us, now brings us closer together. Now she calls me plum and I call her sugar; she calls me Ferris and I call her Bueller. For years before we went to bed we would say good-night to each other through the fake wall divider and say: “Goodnight  peanut butter, Goodnight tuna. Goodnight shrimp, goodnight applesauce. The Waltons had nothing on us! It was a vast improvement of our early names for each other which were “stupid” and “ugly.” And, when all was said and done and we tried to settle into sleep, I would inevitably ask “what time is it?” and she would always fall for it and tell me and then we continued to laugh.

If WE could find a middle ground, anyone can. After many years, two extremely different people,  have somehow settled on this newly paved path of love, understanding, friendship and respect. Our mother always said “the most important thing is that you have each other” and it is true. We are each others piece of history, without which we would be very much alone. If we were dark vs light before, we’ve arrived at a long overdue acceptance, a mixture of colors, bright red, muted yellows, lilac and florescent green; bold and subtle, and very, very warm.

dedicated to my sister, Emma.

Music Therapy (aka as cheaper than the other kind)

Ever since my  friend Linda and I were eliminated from singing in the chorus in seventh grade (with mean Mr. Patterson) I haven’t been the same and still  think he was totally wrong (not that I hold a grudge).   I have moved on and his mistake did not stop me from singing out loud and enjoying it but even being placed in the chorus?  How bad were we?  I love to sing and while I may not have the BEST singing voice I’m not horrific. I think I can carry a tune fairly well, I don’t shriek or scream, doesn’t that count for something? People don’t look askew when I sing or give me dirty looks. I have said before I enjoy it no end; the world needs people who love to sing.   Music makes me feel better and since I can’t afford therapy as much as I would like or need,  I have relied on this blog ( which has gotten me into serious trouble with some family members) and music. Music, trust me, is much, much safer.

I know I am dating myself and calling myself a nerd at the same time but in the early seventies, John Denver could take me out of any vile mood and make me smile and sing along. No, I was not “passing the pipe around” as he sang but he could always make me feel better. Always. Until he divorced Annie and then when he died. My best friend Paula and I were devastated. After not being in touch for months, we called each other that day. How could John Denver die?  We barely had forgiven him for divorcing Annie. She “filled up his senses,” he named the song after her, they adopted children ( oh wait, am I confusing him with Tom Cruise again?) Apparently  after the divorce from Annie, who we felt we all knew I think he remarried.  I mean, really.  Then there were viscous rumors, a lot of rumors about his excessive drinking, cavorting and doing major drugs.  Allegedly. That was when the John Denver fan club ended.

But dying?  That was a whole new and last chapter and one that was really sad and unbelievable to us. How could he have died in an airplane? What was he thinking? It seemed too horrible to think about; after all he was our first musical crush and the first ever concert we went to.

It took a long time after his death to play his music again. First it made me sad and angry and then with time, like everything else, I began to remember the John Denver that made me happy when Paula and I were in High School filled with some type of drama. Now I can still play his music  (and yes, I do still play his music) and feel the happiness I felt when  I was 15; kind of.  It’s not  really the same, of course, but now it’s better and soothing and I know every word to every song he ever made. RIP.

My latest choice of songs to make me forget my troubles and to smile is a song by The Kinks called “Better Day” which I have been playing every day since my friend Scott posted it. It is going to be my theme song for 2010. It’s upbeat and it makes one feel happy and hopeful like no other song.   For variety, my happy mood music always includes Bruce Springsteen( that’s for you Claudine).  I have different music for different moods; there is Josh Groban, Neil Young,  CSN&Y and of course The Beatles. There’s also time when you just need girl music: Sarah Mclaughlan, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna, The Corrs, Carole King and Carly Simon, Madonna and yes, Barbra Streisand.

Of course this is all biased but we should never, ever forget Simon and Garfunkel whose songs I think should follow the National Anthem o or at least played in the Smithsonian.  They sing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline at Red Sox games, there should be a place for Simon and Garfunkel, somewhere.

There aren’t many people I would see in concert again. Saw James Taylor and he was rude and sarcastic, saw Crosby, Stills and Nash and their voices were….umm…different.  There is/was  Peter, Paul and Mary who I could not enjoy since another legend, Mary, died.

I would see Simon and Garfunkel again (perfection)in concert and maybe Carole King. I leave the Rap bands to my 2 teenagers, I know they like it but they also like that we hate it. Works every time.  It would give my husband and I a headache to go to a Rap concert, but it might be worth it to totally embarrass our kids!

So next time, before you head for the Xanax container or your favorite cocktail or 5, take a deep breath, turn on the music and listen. Listen until you find the song that makes you feel good, or if you want to cry, try a sad song. Therapy is very expensive and it is worth it bu give music therapy a try first.  Music therapy, the first step for intervention, give it a try. Because even though it helps to have someone nod his or her head at something you said, music is relatively cheap, it’s always available and you never get charged for an appointment if you don’t cancel 24 hours before the session. Try it because the beat of music, really does go on and on….

For Paula, Scott and Claudine