An off way to Netflix and chill

I was thinking of some of the things I’ve written and wanted to drop an excerpt here from a semi written story.  I’m probably half way to two-thirds finished with it.  I keep telling myself I’ll jump back into it but every time I try I stare at the page and nothing comes to me.  I did lose the muse who was the inspiration for it so that’s probably got my head in knots.

Anyways, this is towards the beginning.  The two main characters, the narrator and the object of his affection, are on a phone date.  They work together but through different companies in the same town.  They’ve never met but she’s decided to save him from a night alone on New Year’s Eve watching the movie New Year’s Eve.


The movie restarted and we both hit play at the same time.  I could hear her making the Netflix sound as if she were hitting her own set of drums.  We were going on as if we had known each other for years and we had never even met.

The pizza came to the door with the cute girl.  I didn’t even put the phone down. I gave her the just-a-minute finger and pulled out a $20 and closed the door without saying a thing to her as I was listening to Annie go off about how Bon Jovi should not be in movies and how he should rarely be allowed to sing.  Which I then broke into a rendition of Livin’ On A Prayer, or at least the chorus because it was the only part of the song that I knew.

The movie ran on and neither of us stopped it.  She set the phone done to run off for two minutes and thirty-four seconds which I assume was to use the bathroom but she wouldn’t confess.

“A lady never tells,” she proclaimed in a Queen Elizabeth voice.

By the time the credits rolled we had completely stopped paying attention to the movie for at least half an hour.  We were talking about random things in our lives and making them seem as ridiculous as possible.

She was talking about her cat and how she was hoping to end up a cat lady one day.  There was a reference to how she’s already got some long-term plans set up by walking up and down the halls of the building calling a cats name that doesn’t exist.  She also said that for two weeks straight she went out and bought large bags of cat litter and carried them through the lobby making sure she was seen every day by someone.  I laughed and called her full of shit.

“You did not!”

“Are you questioning the all mighty cat lady?  My goal is to one day have my body found in my apartment four days after I’ve died and my multitude of cats slowly peeling the flesh from my bones as they eat me.  I’ll have left a note declaring that I will be reborn as Cat-woman and have a saucy leather piece laid out neatly on the couch. You’ll see someday. You’ll all see.”

I would interject, “this is one of the rare cases where sexism isn’t fair to men.  If I were to say something similar to that you would have hung up and probably asked to be transferred positions at work or at least warn the police about me.  But you do it and it’s adorable.”

I could hear her shriek in protest, “adorable?!  You obviously have no experience with crazy women, Evan.  Crazy ex-girlfriends. Run of the mill stalker types. Give me a few weeks and I’ll be hiding outside in your bushes to make sure you’re not talking with your female neighbors.  Just you wait.”

The conversation ran on like that with both of us offering ridiculous statements based on some truths.  We would have talked even longer if both of us weren’t startled and yelled out at the same time, “what the hell?”  

I looked through my window and saw the sky lit up with pink and blue lights.  For a second I didn’t realize what it was and it dawned on me, we had talked right through New Year’s.  The soft popping of fireworks could be heard through the window and the lights continued to brighten the dark sky.  Annie was silent on her end of the phone, most likely doing the same thing I was. We watched the sky together from our own part of the city and sat in silence until she said softly on the other line.

“Happy New Year, Evan.”

“Happy New Year, Annie,” I said back in a smile.

“This was fun,” she said back.

“We’ll have to do it again some time.  Maybe next time we might be in the same room.”

I laughed, “why ruin a good thing?  We get along so well on the phone. It’ll be a long distance thing.”

She laughed back, “yeah.  Good point. If it ain’t broke, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well,” she said, “we made it into next year.  I guess I’ll talk with you in a day or so.”

“Unless you’re bored and want to watch a movie again,” I said half jokingly but mostly seriously.  I could hear her smile on the other end.

“Goodnight Evan.”

“‘Night Annie.”

If I Were To Write

If I were to write a book it would be amazing.  My words would sing and swim along the page, the margins bright and blazing.  The font, it would be stoic with a great and solid strength.   The page numbers on the corners would whisper you its length.  Each flip of flimsy paper would take you hundreds of words deeper.  The word count with each turn would increase, getting dangerously steeper.

My book, it would have chapters.  They would be broken up by scene.  The characters would have adventures and romances, from careful to obscene.  The protagonist of my story would be a boy who meets a girl.  That is really all there is to life, there’s no other story in this world.

At first they would fall madly in love and everything would be grand.  You would almost be sick of how happy they seemed as they kissed or held each others hand.   But as with every story there would have to be some strife.  No one can have eternal happiness, that’s just not allowed in a literary life.

The boy would go off to war, or the girl’s father would not consent.  Their love would face a challenge or an egregious dissent.  All their friends, the townsfolk too, would gladly cheer their love.  But the father of the damsel had an opinion that would not budge.  The boy bound by duty would have to serve his country at war.  The girl left on the docks with tears as the ship grew further from the shore.

The girl missed him deeply and plunged into a depressed state.  Her only thing worth living for was letters delivered to her gate.  They came frequently at first, as much as he could write.  But as the fighting worsened the volume became light.  She thought the worst had happened when she hadn’t heard for months.  Other suitors began lining up, such as vultures after the hunt.

Or the father would banish the boy who loved his daughter’s heart.  The boy wouldn’t be good enough, an opinion made from the start.  The overbearing father’s rage would promise her to another.  She would threaten tragedy to herself and plead reprieve from her mother.  None of this would work so the boy and girl hatched a plan.  The would run away together and live a life on the lamb.

The boy at war would fight for survival and the girl would fight for love.  The armies and her father did not hold a chance to what their hearts could overcome.  The boy would make it home and take the girl back in his arms.   The girl would ignore her father’s demands and escape with the boy, free from harm.  Each pair the same and living in a life filled with laughter.  They stayed the course and true to their love were rewarded happily ever after.

My book would be completed, both front cover and the back.  The pages white, the acknowledgements short and the words all typed in black.  One day I’d see my novel on shelves in a book store.  They would be next to best-selling authors like Rowling, King and many more.  I’d be so proud of myself for accomplishing this dream.  One I’ve had since high school when I didn’t realize how much it would mean.  I’ll keep on trying to complete this fervent fantasy of mine.  The ideas are here, the writings started, now all I’m competing with is time.

Secret Santa

“I don’t accept things that were bought with money.  I only want it if you made it, grew it or stole it.”

These were the kind of things she said.  These were the kind of things that made her enigmatic personality burn into my skin so it tingled whenever she was near.  Then, when she left, the hairs on my arms felt singed.  Being near her was like walking through a forest on fire, scary yet beautiful.

“You want me to steal something for you?”  I was surprised I could think clearly enough to respond in a coherent sentence.  

I pulled my hand back and clutched the small wrapped gift a little tighter.  I wasn’t afraid it was going to fall out of my hand or someone was going to take it, but my mind tried to cope with the rejection she just swatted my way.  It wasn’t that she said no thank you, it was the ambiguity in which she declined my gift.

“Or make it or grow it,” her tone was even.  She either practiced sounding like a pretentious bitch or it came naturally.  I hated how that made me want her even more.

“I’m sorry,” I fumbled the words out and looked away as if I offended her.  Jesus Christ, I’m pathetic.
“I didn’t know there were rules to this Secret Santa thing.  There was a dollar amount I think but other than that,” I trailed off.  Not because I didn’t know what to say but because the look she was giving me made me feel as if I was speaking a different language.  It was that or she just didn’t care.

“I know the rules.  I would have announced during the draw my further limitations but I was at a protest.  Tear gas.  Police in riot gear.  Arrests were made.  Sorry to inconvenience you after the fact.”

I’ve always hated roller-coasters, the thrills were too much for me.  Moving from lusting after her to hating her within a short conversation is more than a teenager’s fragile emotional state can handle.  

Why does she keep staring through me like that?  

“No.  It’s okay.  I mean.  Never mind.  Was it fun?  Shit, I mean, did you- are you good now?”

Good.  Fucking.  Lord.  Did I just ask her if she had fun at a protest that turned into a riot?

“No, I’m not.  They’re using chemical weapons on children at the border.  I am most definitely not good now.”

Make it stop.  Someone please, make it stop.  Is there nobody that can come interrupt this conversation?  Why is she still talking to me?  Help.  Please.  Anyone.

“I guess I could get you something else.  Although you know who your Santa is now so I don’t know if that means I’ve ruined it.  If you don’t mind I guess.  I’ll take into consideration your rules in excess of the others though.”

I wasn’t even making eye contact anymore.  I couldn’t look at her.  She made me weak.  Most girls did but somehow she was worse.  I only decided to participate in this Secret Santa thing because I knew she was in it.  The chance at pulling her name was slim but I managed it. 
I was ecstatic and barely able to keep my composure when I unfolded the piece of paper with her name written across it in her hand writing.  Block letters she wrote in.  There were no girlish swoops in cursive or hearts over her i’s.  They lines were straight and cold as if they were written by someone at the bank writing out a loan document.

“If you want.  No money though.  I don’t support capitalist ideals.  Don’t whore yourself out to Wall Street,” she said as she was dressed in her True Religion jeans, Guess shirt and Hollister hoodie.  

The present clutched in my hand behind my back made me angry now, as if it were at fault for what just happened.  It had lured me into the mall and down the halls of crowded shoppers.  The store it took refuge in was practically blinking red and drawing me in.  Each item I picked up and looked at in consideration must have had a foul stench attached so I wouldn’t consider it until I finally made my way to the back and picked up the present to be.  
The small intricate horse pulsated and when I picked it up it vibrated in my hand.  It must have.  It’s the only explanation as to why I purchased it.  Not that she used to love horses and wrote a book report on them in the 3rd grade.  Not that she used to have a horse sweater she would wear every day to school in the 6th grade.  Not even that time in the 10th grade I overheard her tell a friend her favorite movie of all time was Flicka.  

The horse was returned to the store and put back on the shelf.  The wrapping paper and the box were tossed in the garbage and I was left with nothing and no idea what I could get her that wasn’t purchased that would get anything more than an, “oh, thanks.”

Nobody listens to mixed tapes.  I took drama instead of wood shop because the idea of spending an hour a day with the wood shop boys made me cringe worse than having to preform stupid skits in front of artsy kids.  I was desperate and leaning towards picking a flower from the neighbors garden and hoping it didn’t seem to lame.  It was hopeless.

The worst part of it though was that the horse was perfect.  She still loved horses.  We had a few classes together and I’ve overheard her telling friends about going riding on the weekends.  I think it would have made her lips break into a smile.  Teenage lust is such an annoying disease to suffer from.

“Make it, grow it or steal it,” I muttered to myself in an annoyed tone.  
People who say things like that never mean it.  They just don’t want to be bothered with finding something unique for someone else.  

I often resorted to resentment when struggling with my Jekyll and Hyde dilemma.  Love her for who she is or hate her because those same qualities make her difficult.  People have such a hard time accepting things for what they are and try to reason them until they fit inside a box that makes it easier to understand.  While reasoning they cut off corners and shave down edges until it fits just right but lose important parts along the way.  I tried to make it a point to not do that, although it was really fucking hard sometimes.

I looked over at the wrapping paper and box that were sitting in the garbage can and pulled my vision back out of focus.  The trouble with reasoning something into a box that makes sense is that you don’t have anywhere else you can go with it.  It is what it is and nothing else.

The next day, before school I caught her attention again.  With somewhat of a found sense of confidence I handed her my Secret Santa gift, “I hope you like it.”

She looked at it then back at me.  The thing with her that was the hardest to figure out was that she didn’t give an expression either way.  She rarely smiled but she also never rolled her eyes or sighed from annoyance.  I could never tell if she hated me, tolerated me or cared that I existed.

The gift unwrapped fairly quickly and she pulled the top off of the small box then looked at me, “I said I didn’t accept anything that was paid for with money.”

“It wasn’t,” I quickly replied while a smile was held back from spreading into a grin.

“You didn’t make this,” she picked up the same small intricately detailed horse that I had originally bought for her.

I shook my head no, “I didn’t.”

She stared at me halfway between confused and aggravated. 
I caught her building vexation, “I followed your rules.  I didn’t buy it.”


“I stole it.”

She was surprised by the answer.  I could tell by the way her face dropped its defenses and softened.  Her head tilted in curiosity, “you did?”

I nodded, “I did.  Well I did buy it first.  It’s the same gift I tried to offer you the other day but when you said you didn’t want anything paid for with money I returned it.  After trying to reason what to give you I came to the conclusion that it was the perfect gift so I went back to the store during the busiest time of day and swiped it.  I’ve never had an adrenaline rush so high as I did in those few minutes of entering the store and leaving it with hot merch.”

It felt so strange to have the upper hand that I was rambling.  She was taken off guard by my forwardness, as if she had only said for me to steal something as a protest of society and didn’t actually expect it to happen.  The feeling wouldn’t last long though.  Eventually I would remember who I am and who she is and clam up.  She would do the same and build the wall around her again, but for those few moments I felt as if I had just won the Secret Santa gift giving.  I felt as if I had won Christmas.  For a day I felt as if I wasn’t a bumbling teenager trying to talk to a pretty girl, but just a boy telling a girl how much I liked her.


I got an outline.  I got an outline.  I got an outline.

That was supposed to be done in a kind of a dancey, singing way for those of you who don’t know.

I was supposed to write today.  Get another 6,000 words and then be caught up.  I did other stuff instead because of course I did.  But what I did was invaluable.  I outline the entire freaking thing!  Woo hoo!

I made it to 16 chapters (averaging around 5,000 words a chapter) with a proper progression and climax, I think anyways.  I’m kind of happy how it all worked itself out because I had a wonderful ending in mind.  I changed it around to be something similar yet completely different.  I struggled with this for a week or so thinking I was messing up something I had planned for so long but I think I really like the way its going.  It gives it a bit of a more realistic yet “whoa” ending.

So yeah!  I haven’t done it and probably impeded myself from finishing the 50K unless, now that I have the plan, I can kick out more during the middle of the week than originally I had been able to.  But, beyond that, I think I solved the problem that I was fearing before: how the hell do I finish this?

Another idea I had was to get a piece of paper or something and do a kind of timeline on it.  Draw a horizontal line and make little tic marks along the line when events happen in the story.  With this story there is a bit of a time jump back and forth.  It’s being told from two separate generations and is a bit historical in nature and I don’t want to goof up any of the timing of what happens when.  This would be a great thing to have to reference.  It’d be even better if I had my own little writing space where I could put it on the wall to look at to keep my mind in the story.  But I still feel like a bit of a fraud at this point so saying “oh yeah I need to take up this corner for writing purposes” feels stupid.

My inner monologue is kind of mean.

Anyways.  I’m a little juiced right now.  I have a direction.  I have a map.  Now I just need some gas.  No…not…what are you?  Fuel.  Fine.  I need some fuel.  Geez.

Happy writing!

I Knew This Would Happen

Tuesday.  God damn you Tuesday.
Don’t look so smug over there yourself Thursday.
And I see you as well Friday.
Saturday, shut it.

These are my challenge days.  The days I have no silence, as I do right now but instead of writing I’m complaining about not having time and quiet to write.  MAKES SENSE RIGHT?!

But I don’t work good in short intervals.  30 minutes to write down and keep my word count up doesn’t work for me.  I need time to stretch and tilt my head back and forth a few times trying to find the best angle for these words to shoot out through.  I’m one of those annoying artists who need everything just right for the picture to form.  I’m also terrible with analogies.

I ended up at 7000 words.  About 1300 short of where I needed to be to end yesterday but I still think it ended up a quality number.  I could have been stuck at less than 5000 and felt like punching myself in the face for even saying I was going to try this.  That’s good, right?

By the end of today it will be 6 days.  According to wonderful averages writing 1667 words a day for 30 days makes it approximately 10,000 words every 6 days.  I’m nearly there.  Which seems kind of cool.  An accomplishment of sorts that I was able to whip this out of nothing and have enough direction that I came up with nearly a fifth of the requirement.

So yay, right?

A problem with writing what I’m writing, a period romance story (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) is that it requires knowing so much of the history.  I feel like sometimes I might as well just staple a bunch of printed out wikipedia pages and say “LOOK I MADE A STORY!”  But I mean, obviously there’s a little more to it than that.  Thankfully.
But there is one part I wrote trying to connect things that felt like a history lesson and not part of a story.  I know the point of this whole WriMo thing is to just get it down and then go back afterwards and polish it up, but its so hard to go against my natural inclination to do the fixing while I’m writing.  Of course, that is why I never finish anything because I’m constantly trying to make it perfect and I lose steam.

So, I’m writing.  I need 3000 more to hit my goal.  I’m going to do this or die trying.  Well not die just…want to blink myself into a wall.  But yeah no this is fun.  THIS IS FUN!

Yay, I’m Behind!

Because who really thought I would be able to write about 1700 words a day and focus on something?  If you did then you’re lying and stop lying you lying liar.

So its Sunday.  The day that if I’m going to do this shit I need to do it today.  I should have approximately 6800 words by the end of the day.  Yeah.  Yeah.  I think I can do that.


-insert facepalm emoji here-
Or…you know what?  Ryan Reynolds says it better:


You know what the most intimidating thing about getting started is?  A blank screen.

A blank screen looks so daunting.  It’s mocking you.  I’m thinking to myself, “there’s nothing fucking there!  How the hell am I supposed to put something there.  I’ve got like, not even a little bit of something there.  It’s completely blank!”

There are so many other screens you can go look at with stuff on it.  And the stuff that’s on it is already finished!  Why am I going to go try and start something that isn’t even thought of yet when there is all of this finished content that I can just nibble on.  It totally makes sense.  I should be doing anything to get away from that blank screen.

Because you know what’s going to happen on that blank screen right?  Even if I do attempt to make the screen less blank its going to become blank again.  I’ll just delete and erase something and it’ll be blank and at the end of the day I won’t have anything.  The time will be wasted.  So what’s the point?  Totally.  Screw you blank screen.  You’re not going to fuck with my brain today.  I’m onto you!

So what am I going to do about that god damned blank screen.  Close it or ignore it for another 4 hours or attempt to beat it into submission with a pile of words?

I guess we’ll find out.

Live update:  The screen is no longer blank!  6 words but hey, its something!

Alright, I think I have something going.  It’s not exactly aimless but I think I’m building it to something.  Just a little taste:

Jack wanted thieves.  He wanted unscrupulous individuals that wouldn’t think twice when thinking twice took too much time.  
But he wanted gullible thieves.  They needed to be green. Quick hands and slow wit.  A couple of kids from a few towns over. A couple of desperate, local folks who had a less than shining reputation.  Four or five should do it. All it took was one to pin it on and he was scot free. The treasure would be all his and the code written on the backs of cloths used to wipe the corner of his mouth as he was being fed the finest meals a king’s ransom could buy.  

From nothing to nearly 300 words and all it took was about 20 minutes.  Enough live blogging my writing.  I think I should try and rip out some words and stick them on the wall for a bit longer and see what I can end the day with.  By the end of tomorrow I’ll need nearly 10,000 words.  Jesus, what the hell am I going to do?


Francesca hated piano lessons as a child.  As a seven-year-old they were the bane of her existence.  Every day after school she finished her homework as quickly as she could.  There wasn’t much time between homework and piano lessons.  Occasionally she could finish in time to run outdoors and enjoy a lap around the house or two, but most often she was made to sit at the table and watch the clock tick by until four-thirty.

“Time to leave, Franny,” her mother would say as she stood in the doorway.

“Ma-ma, do I have to?  I don’t like the piano.  It’s no fun and Ms. Schmidt isn’t very nice to me,” she whined nearly every Monday.

“Now Franny!  Ms. Schmidt is teaching you the piano, a beautiful gift to have.  You will respect that poor woman and do as she says.  Won’t you?”

“Yes Ma-ma.”

She sulked in a slow walk to the car and climbed in the seat next to her mother.  Francesca stared longingly out of the car window at all of her friends playing together.  They looked so gleeful and happy as they ran and laughed and skipped rope.  It was even worse when they would drive by the Warner house and smelly Amy Warner would make faces and tease Francesca through as they drove by.

“Can’t we go the other way, Ma-ma?  I hate going by Amy’s house.  She’s mean and makes fun of me.”

“Ignore her, darling.  She doesn’t have much and her parents can’t afford to put her in music lessons.  She doesn’t know how to show it so she teases.  You will make beautiful music one day, that is all the answer you need to give her when she says her mean words.”

Francesca didn’t care about one day.  She was going to stop playing as soon as she had a right to do so.  Amy Warner could take her place for all she cared.  She was too young to understand anything beyond the immediate lack of joy she was experiencing and slumped in her seat until the car stopped in front of Ms. Schmidt house on Ryland Street, twenty minutes away.

Her mother walked her up to the door, greeted Ms Schmidt and left Francesca in her care as she ran off to take care of some errands.


Francesca found out years later that the errands her mother was running lived two blocks over.  A man named Jerome Hawlet lived there.  He and her mother were having an affair.  Every day after school Francesca’s mother would leave from Ms. Schmidt’s house and head down the street to Mr Hawlet’s and disappear into his house.  She would spend the entire hour there and lay kisses all over his body as his hands explored hers.

Francesca never took much notice of her mother’s disheveled appearance upon picking her up ,but Ms. Schmidt did and often left a sly remark.

“Errands were rough today, Mrs. Yawbeck?”

Mrs. Yawbeck smiled through the shame.  She didn’t care really what an old woman thought anyways.  The lessons were the perfect cover and she rarely had to spend much time talking with the old woman.

“They were, Ms. Schmidt.  But worth it.”

Ms Schmidt didn’t approve of Francesca’s mother’s tawdry actions or comments but she enjoyed having Francesca to teach.  The sound of the piano was soothing and the dance of her fingertips across the keys was therapy.  She cherished the chance to give that blessing to another generation, even if the little girl didn’t appreciate it at the moment.

“You don’t like the piano, Francesca, but you will.”

“I won’t,” the little girl said in a huff.

“Okay then, you won’t.  Would you rather help me fold laundry instead?”

Francesca chewed her lip for a moment.  The piano was the bane of her existence but folding laundry was hell.  At least with the piano she was able to bang on some keys.

“I guess I can try some more.  At least for a little while.”

“Good,” Ms Schmidt said, “because the piano makes quite a beautiful sound.  If you learn to play it well enough you can close your eyes and your fingers will find their way to the right tune.”

Ms Schmidt closed her eyes as she sat next to Francesca and spread her fingers across the piano’s keys.  She pressed into them and a hollow tune bellowed.  Her fingers glided and her body swayed.  The music poured into the air, sweet and melodic.

Francesca looked at Ms Schmidt’s face and studied it.  She had the same look on her face as her Mother had when they got home after piano lessons.  Her mother would sit at the table and relax in various positions, typically ending up leaning forward with her chin resting in her palms with her eyes closed.  There was usually a smile on her face as well and whenever Francesca would ask what she was so happy about her Mother would answer the same way.

“Oh nothing, Franny.  Sometimes a woman likes to hold onto little things that help her make it through her day and think back on them so she can remember it all isn’t so bad.”

This was well beyond Francesca’s level of understanding so a follow up was never pursued to clarify.  When her Father arrived home the smile was long gone and her Mother was a different person.  But that smile she had was the same one that was creeping out of the corners of Ms Schmidt’s mouth.

“Ms Schmidt,” Francesca interrupted her teacher’s trance.


“Are you remembering too?”

Ms Schmidt turned to the little girl sitting next to her and gave a puzzled expression.  How could a small child have any idea what she might be thinking?

“Too?”  Ms Schmidt replied.

Francesca nodded, “yes, like Ma-ma.  She remembers like you were just then.  When we get home after lessons, before Pa-pa gets home.  That is when she does all of her remembering.”

Ms Schmidt smiled at the little girl and gave her a pat on the head and looked out of the window at the car pulling up with Mrs. Yawbeck getting out.

“Ah, your mother’s here.  Time to go.”

“Were you remembering?”

Ms Schmidt nodded and tried to hide a tear creeping up to the lid of her eyes.

“I was, yes.  The piano helps me remember.  The music holds my favorite moments when there were no pictures.”

“Maybe I’ll learn then.  Maybe I’ll play.  If it helps Ma-ma remember too.”

They went to the door and Francesca opened it and bounded out, “I think I’ll like piano, I guess, Ma-ma.”

Mrs. Yawbeck smiled and looked up at Ms Schmidt in a bewildered state.  She was unsure if she should expect a scalding remark or not but all Ms Schmidt gave her was a friendly smile and a compliment.

“You look lovely today, Mrs. Yawbeck.  I look forward to having you and your daughter as often as you’d like to come.”

“Well, thank you.  I think we’d like to continue as long as it takes.”

Mrs. Yawbeck looked down at her daughter and then back at the elderly piano teacher and smiled wide before turning back to the car.

Francesca continued going every week.  She got better with every month that passed and continued going even after it seemed that she couldn’t learn anything else from Ms Schmidt.  It turned into a time for the teacher, the student and the student’s mother sometimes to sit and talk and enjoy each other’s company along with the singing of the piano.

Francesca played through high school.  She played through her Mother and Father getting a divorce.  She played at her graduation.  Even though she majored in English at University she would make daily trips to the music school and play the piano to stay sharp.

And one overcast, fall day after she was finished with University and in a different city she made arrangements to go back home.  She was asked to play at Ms Schmidt’s funeral.  A request in her will that the little girl she had been teaching since grade school play her beautifully into the next world, and she did.  There was only one set of eyes that were dry in the entire room and it was Francesca’s.  They were closed.  They were remembering.

The Day The Music Died

February 3rd, 1959.  That’s the day the music died, according to Don McLean in the song “American Pie.”
There are a number of fascinating details of that fateful flight, but maybe I’ll save that for a different post, maybe on the actual day.  This is more for just me to gush about my favorite song.

When I was growing up my parents had the car radio tuned to the oldies station about fifty percent of the time.  Forty percent of the time it was right wing talk radio like Rush Limbaugh or Mike Savage.  The other ten percent was a smattering of sports radio or, god forbid, new music.
Due to the constant flow of the golden oldies on KFRC 99.7 I ended up with a real attachment to that era of music.  I still love it.

My Girl, Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay, Chantilly Lace, Lean On Me, Hard Days Night, Light My Fire, Under The Boardwalk, I Think Were Alone Now, Turn Turn Turn, Crimson and Clover, and many more had me singing in the car along with my Mom (nobody else in the family sang, my Dad always said “I’d rather listen to the song.”  Tons of fun they were).
For the longest time (whoa whoa whoa) my favorite song was Doh Wah Diddy.  It was catchy, short and repetitive.  It was easy to memorize for a kid.  Plus, the opening of the song was so much fun to burst out with:

There she was just a-walkin down the street singin doh wah diddy diddy dum diddy do.

I still love that song and enjoy yell singing it from time to time, but as I got older my tastes changed a little.  I enjoyed songs that were a bit longer and, I think, the storyteller in me started to appreciate songs that told a story with the lyrics.  This led me to a new favorite song, one that stays with me to this day; American Pie.

There are so many things I love about this song, but the first thing that stands out to me is the length of it.  At its full run time its over eight and a half minutes long.  I think it says something about my personality that when I love something I can never get enough of it.  More, more, more.  It was one of the first things that led me to a love for writing.  I always wanted to continue the story from things that I enjoyed.  So, naturally, if I enjoy a song I want it to go well beyond the crisp three minute mark that most of the oldies seemed to hold themselves to.

The song tells a story too, which I’ll get to in a minute but while it tells that story it changes its pacing dramatically.  Starting off slow and somber it introduces you to the main character, the narrator.  There’s a melancholy in his voice as he’s remembering his past and childhood.  A saudade state of a time he believes is long gone as he quickly arrives at the crux of his story, the day the music died and how it killed a generation’s innocence.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

But the sad state quickly picks up after the chorus and puts life in us again.  McLean sings of songs he loved and feelings he remembers fondly.  He tells us about how music is attached to his inner being and all of the good things in life like love and happiness.  The song has us moving and is catchy.
The song stays up through more verses.  It makes us forget about the sadness and pulls us through the evolution at a constant high note.  The change is slow but eventually we turn the high energy good feeling into rage.
As I got older I noted how perfectly you could feel his anger when he sang how his hands were, “clenched in fists of rage.”  He had taken the good feelings throughout the song to this point and flipped them on us as everything was changing.  Everything we knew was going away and it couldn’t go back.  He lashed out in the only way most people know how to when their lives are never going to be the same, with rage.
The song ends as it started, in sadness.  In even more death.  In everything gone and how it can’t come back because, “the man there said the music wouldn’t play.”  The chorus then repeated but picking up at the last turn to leave us in that wistful remembering that we often are left with when dancing with nostalgia.

There is a slight, funny lining up of this song and my reaction when Madonna covered it in 2000.  I was Don McLean looking up at Mick Jagger with my hands clenched in fists of rage.  I was appalled that she would cover my favorite song.  It was outlandish that she would try and turn it into a new age dance mix.  I wanted her off my lawn and I was only 20 years old.  How dare she!

I know all the words.  I’ve known them for years and no matter how long it goes between moments of singing or hearing the song I can still recite it at about ninety-eight percent accuracy.

I find the idea of a favorite song kind of funny.  My wife doesn’t have one.  My sixteen year old doesn’t either.  They are more of the type to have a current favorite song but if you ask them what their favorite of all time is they can’t tell you.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but there is something to be said to having an answer when someone asks, “if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?”  To have an answer to a question like this says you’ve got something about yourself figured out.  You know yourself so well that you can predict what you’d like hearing now as well as thirty years from now.  Not many people know themselves that well.

American Pie is my everything song.  I can sing to it.  I can listen to it and get lost.  I can get offended when someone butchers it.  I can talk about its different angles and meaning.
It is, in a microcosm, everything I love.  It has depth and substance.  It’s romantic and painful.  It has hurt and sadness.  It’s about something and takes you on a trip while entertaining you along the way.  It’s my favorite song and I had never put into words exactly why until now.  I figured it was about time.