Singing: The Ultimate Detox

Image courtesy of thehoopla.com.au

Image courtesy of thehoopla.com.au

Perhaps it is because I’ll be singing karaoke in January or maybe I just need to howl at the moon—whatever the case, I’ve recently found myself singing loudly, well, everywhere. I do most of my singing on my commute to any one of the three colleges I teach at, but I also sing at home and while running errands.

A while back, I wrote a post on the link between grief and song, but my current penchant for belting out various tunes has me wondering what other connections there might be between singing and everyday life. Here’s a short list of possibilities I’ve come up with:

  • I just like the feeling of being loud
  • Singing acts like a catharsis, a release of frustration (I am a teacher, after all) and, as previously mentioned, grief (I recorded a podcast about my very recent journey with grief after the sudden death of a family member.)
  • I’m super serious about prepping for karaoke
  • One of my not-so-secret wishes is to be a rockstar, and singing loudly helps me live out this dream, even if only for a pretend audience

Whatever the reason (and the list above is by no means exhaustive), I find I always feel refreshed after indulging in some screamo or holding an extra long note. I’m not super into regular “cleanses” that involve only drinking juices or other dietary restrictions, so maybe singing is my detox and way of giving voice (no pun intended) to all that is not language within me yet.

Your turn: Do you like to sing? If so, what are your reasons? Is it for fun or might there be another purpose?

If We Were Having Coffee…Wedding Edition!

Not sure what this feature is all about? Check out the first post here!

Blowing on my hot apple cider!

Blowing on my hot apple cider!

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that the wedding went so well! Yes, I was stressed at the start of the day, but once we were underway, it was magic!

I nearly cried during the vows.

Vows

All wedding photos by Suzy Rahn

My goodness, the food was delicious!

Om nom nom!

Om nom nom!

The dancing was so fun!

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And I got to spend time with many of the people I care most about!

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Some of my closest friends. I couldn’t get everyone in one shot, alas.

Me and my husband with my side of the family

Me and my husband with my side of the family.

Oh yeah, and I get to spend the rest of my life with the man I love most 🙂

Dip Kiss

Ooh la la!

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that the honeymoon was so lovely. My husband (still getting used to the title!) and I went on a cruise.

The weather wasn’t ideal, but we had some shining moments.

View from the room on the first full day.

Morning view from the room on the first full day.

View on the last full day.

Sunset on the last full day.

And we met some incredible people!

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This post would not be complete without a solo of "baby face" George.

This post would not be complete without a selfie of “baby face” George.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that coming back to reality after such an incredible week is difficult. But having great people to come back to (yes, even my students) is lovely.

I’d ask you what you think the hardest part of coming back from a vacation is.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that while I enjoy teaching, I’m looking forward to the end of the semester and the holiday season.

I’d ask you what your favorite part of December is.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you I’m behind on my Christmas shopping :-/

I’d ask you how the crazy holiday season is shaping up for you.

Now it’s your turn! What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

One Second Every Day – January

Photo courtesy of 1secondeveryday.com

Photo courtesy of 1secondeveryday.com

When watching a documentary or reading a snippet about the life of someone famous or someone who’s done something noteworthy, I often wonder what happened in the life of that person during the silences. By silences, I mean when the announcer says, “This person got a job, and then six years later, they had their big break.” I always wonder what happened in those six years, months, days, minutes. What was their routine? What did they read? Who was their best friend? Who did they talk to when they cried?

The answers to the above questions are pieces of life that history doesn’t see fit to record. They are moments that history often forgets, and history shouldn’t. We shouldn’t because it is routine that is the lifeblood of, well, life, even if it’s not as exciting as our biggest victories or lowest valleys. Most of what happens to us is mundane, but in those routines, we have small variations that surprise us and, whether or not we like to admit it, we are delighted.

In that vein, I’ve embarked on this ironically app-inspired journey that I hope to continue throughout the year and beyond. I’m doing the 1 Second Every Day project (I found out about it via the Storyline blog). It entails recording a second of every single day with the intention of splicing those second together to make a sort of movie narrative.

I want to do this so that I have a record of how I spend my spare time and have a memory for each day that I live, no matter how small. Of course these days and months will be punctuated by excitement, but more than that, the reason I’m doing this is because I want to remember. I don’t want certain things to get old, like my finace kissing my hand, like my roommate doing something zazzy (a word of his own making). I don’t want to forget my drives to school or the work that I do (yes, that includes grading). I want to remember what I put my time towards. I think that’s important. I don’t know that I can articulate why, but I think it is.

I found out about this project a few days into January, so this month’s video is a bit abridged. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you’ll consider embarking on a similar journey of recording your seemingly mundane days. I think you’ll find there is always something noteworthy to record 🙂

(The song in the video is “Pictures of You” by The Last Goodnight.)

Beautiful Sadness: A Review of “The Middlesteins” by Jami Attenberg

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

In Goodreads, I have a category called “This might depress you, but it’s worth it” because  I tend to read depressing books. Maybe I’m crazy, but I find depth in sadness.  I feel like joy is only fully realized when darkness has precluded it.  And not necessarily right before, but at least I’ve found that when times are really good, I appreciate it all the more because I know what it’s like to not be so happy.  

“The Middlesteins” by Jami Attenberg fits nicely into this Goodreads category.  The book details the journey of a family that includes Edie, a wife, mother, and grandmother who is diabetic and overweight. Despite her conditions, she continues to gorge and not watch her eating habits or blood sugar.  Her family wants to help her, but every attempt fails.

This book asks an important question: What do you do when someone you love is in trouble, but he/she does not want help?  There are attempts to get Edie to eat healthier and to remind her that she should be healthy so she can enjoy her life. But these attempts and pleas go unconsidered. Edie continues to go to her favorite Chinese food joint.

Perhaps other reviews may focus on the obsession with food depicted in this story as a commentary on American culture. That aspect is certainly present, however, along with asking that important question, what stuck out to me the most was the very realistic portrayal of the family members’ reactions. Whether you hate or love a character in this book, you must give them room to react in their own way since everyone deals with grief, even pre-grief, differently. One is militant in her resolve to get Edie on a strict food and exercise regimen. One is somewhat indifferent. Edie’s grandchildren are a bit too young to fully understand, yet Attenberg captures their naivete and subsequent realization of the gravity of the situation so deftly.  Her ability to weave in humor, and even the mundane tasks of real life, in such a way that makes them seem important is truly stunning. It takes hard work to make everyday life resonate.

In addition, I found the book totally quotable. I kept writing in my journal as I read.  One quote that I still think about today (perhaps because diabetes runs in my family) occurred when one of the grandchildren muses on her grandmother’s illness. The family is Jewish, and Biblical imagery is sprinkled throughout the text.  The granddaughter thinks about the plagues and how that kind of widespread destruction is the definition of biblical to her since it is so grand. After seeing the negative effects Edie’s uncontrolled diabetes has wreaked on her family, the girl thinks, “Diabetes felt biblical.” This, to me, is wonderful writing: nuanced and grounded in the characters’ world.

Attenberg’s writing style is very reminiscent of William Faulkner. The book is arranged in sections, each chapter written to follow a different member of the family.  I appreciated the different perspectives because it mirrored the situation so well: Dealing with an ailing family member (and one who’s in denial of her illness) is such a multifaceted situation, and the author captured this effectively through the novel’s structure. Additionally, the writing style of “The Middlesteins” is probably among the best I’ve encountered in a while. It’s accessible, funny (sometimes darkly humorous), and always rings true to life.  I’m excited to read more from her.

I highly recommend this book to all readers looking for some well-thought out characters with emotional depth, all of which wrestle with some tough life choices. Also, it’s a good read if you’re willing to delve into some depressing, yet important, subject matter.