a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Universe Controls My iPod

The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers

For some reason, if I get a string of good songs on my iPod when it is set to “shuffle,” I take it as a sign that the universe is on my side.  No matter that I am the one who chose all of these songs in the first place.

Perhaps today the universe is trying to pay me back for that hour of sleep it stole.  If that is the case, I accept this string of songs as payment in full:

“Bottle It Up” by Sara Bareilles

“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

“Here I Go Again” by Audra Mae (Yep, it’s a remake of that old Whitesnake song—I discovered it when it was used on an episode of The Good Wife, and I am now obsessed with this song.)

“Passionate Kisses” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

“Dover Beach” by The Bangles (Wasn’t I surprised to find all the literary connections to Bangles songs when I was in college!  My professor must have thought I was a freak, always saying, “There is a Bangles song about this poem…” This song references “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.)

It only takes the first few notes of “Here Comes Your Man” to transport me back in time.  I am thirteen again, getting ready for school, listening to my sister’s stereo through the wall of her bedroom that backed up to the bathroom we shared. 

The feeling of complete and utter awe at how cool she is comes flooding back and I want to be her.

Now I am sixteen.  I see my sister singing these very lyrics, one hand on the steering wheel, the other loosely folded around the ends of her hair, her hand a human scrunchie to stop the hair from flying in her face as we drive towards the Indiana Dunes with the windows rolled down. 

Man, I wished someday I would be half as cool as she is.  Just a quarter as beautiful would’ve been nice too.

If I really stop and think about it, it saddens me to think that more people do not see my sister through my eyes.  It saddens me that my sister, especially, doesn’t see herself through my eyes.  My heart aches for the loss of the friendship we used to have. 

So, I decide NOT to stop and think about it.  I decide to stay right inside those moments from so many years ago, until the song ends and I am propelled back through time to my own car on a Sunday afternoon when the spring weather is reminding me that summer is just around the corner.  Maybe I will roll down my windows, hold my hair back from the wind, and sing a song of my own.


  1. We even have similar tastes in music--Love Jason Mraz and Sarah Bareilles and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Have them all on my ipod. I'm sorry about the loss of friendship with your sister...it's hard when we all grow up. But sometimes, like you did today, you have to stay in the moment and just enjoy the memories.

  2. I love the description of her hand as a human scrunchie! Just love that!

  3. I really enjoyed the ending. I had the previous image of your sister driving in my mind and then I saw you doing that as well. It felt like the scene of a movie in my head.

  4. I definitely connected with that feeling of looking up to your big sister so much when you're younger... and maybe wishing things were different now. Maybe the universe was just wanting to remind you of these lovely moments with your sis...

  5. Love this post--and the songs. There are a couple I don't know (yet) though, so have to check them out!

  6. There's so much *cool* that you did in this narrative -- weaving through music and time --- and not to mention that reflection at the end. Very well written, Christy.

    But what I CAN'T WAIT to say in this comment is...


    Walk like an Egyptian, friend,

  7. I love that superstition you mention about the Ipod list ruling the universe. And I do like your voice in this very much, Christy. It has a nostalgic flair to it this time, kind of swinging along with the songs & in to the memories. There are many lines where like the way you wrote them. This "her hand a human scrunchie to stop the hair from flying in her face" is one. And "If I really stop and think about it" brought me to a stop because I didn't predict this at all. I'm sorry things didn't end up as expected for you & your sister. But I love that you can swing back to happy times.

  8. Yes, I know that feeling. I love how songs take us back in time to another moment in our lives.

  9. Weaving the songs and the memories. A touch of sadness in it. Moving on. That's life.

  10. Songs and photographs are probably the two best things to ignite special memories for me. I love hearing songs that make me reminisce about the most hilarious events in my life... and the events that I regret, too! My sister and I shared a room growing up and when we couldn't sleep, we'd sing Church songs that we were forced to learn in Catholic school. The only "cool" song we sang was "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles, and we would sing it in rounds. Classic.

    Thanks for the memories, Christy!

  11. Isn't it amazing how a song can propel us into a different time and space. Thanks for sharing your ride.

  12. I love your last line - roll down your window and sing a song of my own.