Life Soundtracks

Music and Memories – 

Music, the soundtrack. The life soundtrack. Your youth, your middle years, your now years. Have your music tastes changed? Are they still the same as far back as you can remember? Is anything different? 

Music has such an impact on lives, I can’t believe there are people who never listen to music. I mean, seriously, how can you not? How can you drive in the car and all of a sudden not be singing along to a song or tapping your fingers on the steering wheel? 

My days usually start and end with music. At the studio, during my clients’ workouts, music is always playing. Some days it is hard to find a playlist. Just because I am sometimes searching for something a little different, or something I haven’t heard in a while, but it usually always comes back to what I know. It just does. 

The Prospect House – the middle room, I guess it would be a pretty formal dining room. We kind of used it as just a room. It had the stereo/record player in it. The old ones, in the cabinet. We listened to music all the time. The Carpenters, the brown jacketed album. The one I wanted to break in half because it was apparently the only album Sherry knew how to play. I hated it then. I love it now. 

Black Sabbath and Deep Purple – Wendy’s favorites. I really never got into that music. But, I remember it, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, bbbboom, smoke on the water. I was never really an Ozzy fan either, I, I, I. 

I clearly remember listening to Madonna’s very first album. Madonna. She was so new and so different. Her voice really is amazing. Like her or hate her. Every song on that album was good. Holiday. Lucky Star, Borderline, to name a few. 

My favorite part of albums was reading the lyrics. I would study them for hours. I used to follow along to every song. It was such a routine with me. Every album I got, I was so happy when it included the lyrics. 

I remember when Katie Jahraus turned 16. A bunch of us piled into her family’s station wagon and cruised Euclid. Unrestricted driver license status. I remember The Cars song, Good Times Roll, playing on the radio and Billy Joel, Only The Good Die Young. Whenever I hear that Cars song I think of that time and whenever I hear Only The Good Die Young I always think of Hattie Whitney. The Cars album has to be one of the best all time. THE songs Good Times Roll, My Best Friend’s Girl, Just What I Needed, You’re All I’ve Got Tonight, and Bye Bye Love. So many good songs, that when you hear them today, it takes you right back. They never get old. Never. 

Fleetwood Mac Rumors album – sweating for hours and hours of my life at gymnastics practice. Wendy Buechler introduced me to that album. Thank you Wendy! It has never gotten old, nor have the memories. 

AC/DC Back in Black because who does not know that song? That is still a classic and always will be. 

I think it was later during my sophomore year I was introduced to Prince. The cover of the album had a blue background and prince had long hair and was shirtless. His voice was so high and so amazing. You could just feel in your bones that he was going to do special things and that he was going to make his mark in the world. Thanks Angel Oscarson. You always had great taste in music and I loved it. I also remember you listening to Smokey Robinson. 

Next up, is my boyfriend, you know who I’m talking about, don’t you? I can remember being parked at the causeway and standing outside the car with my real boyfriend and some other friends. And then John Mellencamp’s, Ain’t Even Done With The Night played. I was hooked. Never looked back. He has always been my favorite. In fact, I will be seeing him tomorrow night (April 18th) for a concert in Rapid City. I’m dragging Tayler. She needs to appreciate him. I love mother/daughter memories. I hope she loves him as much as I. 

I’ve been priming this week for the concert. Spotify did me a solid. I have been listening to John Mellencamp Radio all week. I got a good blend of him, The Eagles, Hootie and the Blowfish, Steve Miller Band, Styx, Night Ranger and Tom Petty. It’s a great channel. 

Whatever music means to you, I can bet that when you hear certain songs you are taken right back to where you were. Right back to the time you first heard it or the 100th time you heard it. I hope your memories are happy memories. I hope your life has a good soundtrack. 

He was nice like that…

He always let me pick first. He was nice like that. No matter how much he wanted the one I picked, he let me pick first. Always.

It was the Euclid House. Probably second grade. I played with him every day. He lived a weird kind of kitty corner across the street. Our house wasn’t on the corner, so technically it wasn’t kitty corner. He had blond hair and we were about the same size, it seemed. His house was on the corner. It was a nice house that his family built. Behind it was a big hole in the ground. That’s where we played. 

We climbed up and down into the pit. We played and played and played. Hours on end. It was always so hot out. Summer. Summer fun. Summer friends. I always had boy friends. I always got along with the boys. They were fun. I was a lot like them. I was a tom boy. I was strong like the boys and I could do anything they could. 

After we had played for what seemed like hours and we could hear the hunger calling, we went into his house to get them. We were so hot we needed something to refresh us, something to replenish our energy so we could get back out there and play. I mean really, what else are two second graders going to do all day. 

It was decision time. Popsicle time. My favorite time. Every single time I hoped my favorite was there. I hoped the root beer one was there. I had to pick, yellow or brown. Banana or root beer. Sometimes red or orange, but I always hoped for brown. I hated the banana ones. Maybe he knew that. Maybe he knew I liked root beer better. Maybe that’s why he always let me pick first. He was nice like that. 

We trudged back out into the heat and sat on the edge of the pit while we ate our popsicles. We contemplated our next move. We talked about things second grade kids talked about. We talked about playing and we talked about eating popsicles. Life was simple. Life was fun. The Euclid house was fun and Rikky was fun. 

Another Update for Frugal February

The shopping ban is going well. I have not felt that tempted at all to buy new things. I even stashed away some money this last week. Winning!

The rules were pretty clear and concise. How did I do?

No new clothes – CHECK

No new shoes – CHECK

No new workout clothes – CHECK – UGH!!! This one was hard. Peloton had a sale on their boutique items. These items are normally ridiculously expensive and if I want any, they have to be on sale. They are that expensive. It’s dumb. Notice how I said WANT and not need. I told myself I was not missing out, to cool my jets and just move on. You guys, FOMO is alive and well on the internet. There will always be sales, always. Resist. You can. I did. CHECK

Groceries – of course. I haven’t stopped eating. I have noticed that I ask myself if I really want the food I am buying or if I need it. That is a whole new perspective. Try it. Nobody really needs a bag of chips now, do they?

Shampoo, makeup, etc. – I did buy face wash. I was out. A girl has to wash her face and with my aging skin I needed some good shit.

No new notebooks, etc. – CHECK

No new books – this is another hard one. Audible keeps telling me about book sales. So far, so good, but like I said, this one is hard. CHECK

I am still unsubscribing to emails. This is crazy. These companies are sneaky too. I bet I have unsubscribed at least 6 times to the same one. Did they not get the damn memo. Leave me alone. I don’t want to buy all your amazing stuff!

That’s it. This week I have felt pretty confident with my spending or should I say spending resistance. Ha.

I will be back soon with another update. Thanks for reading.



Frugal February – UPDATE

Well, my shopping ban is in full force. I am one week in and feel pretty good about it. I have opened the extra savings account and have unsubscribed from and deleted a crap ton of emails. They seriously are tempting and can cause some serious FOMO issues. Because, really I might need that product. It’s 25 percent off. Whatever, all marketing tactics. I am sure when I want to buy that product two or three months from now, there will be another sale. There always is. 

Let’s see how I have adhered to my rules: 

  1. No new clothes – CHECK
  2. No new shoes – CHECK
  3. No new workout clothes – CHECK
  4. Can only buy things as they run out, for example deodorant or shampoo. How many of you have a shit ton of shampoos and conditioners? Haven’t had to buy anything yet. 
  5. Can buy groceries of course. A girl’s gotta eat. – Yep – I gotta eat. 
  6. No new notebooks, notecards, pens, etc. – CHECK  – this one is hard!!
  7. No new books, except for my business. February purchase was Pat Flynn’s book. I also purchased a kettlebell program from him and Aleks Salkin. I support my friends. It was important to me.
  8. I will unsubscribe to emails that are trying to persuade me to buy their stuff. Believe me, that is a lot of subscriptions. – CHECK
  9. I can buy gifts, if needed – CHECK – a friend’s mom passed away and I contributed towards flowers for her visitation. RIP Bonnie. 
  10. This is the last rule, but the most important rule. When I buy something, I will be asking myself if I really need it or if I just want it. This goes for everything I will be buying. THIS, is the most important rule. 

I have used the last rule. A lot! I am good about asking myself every time I pick something up if I want it or need it. A few days in, I was al Walmart buying groceries and I noticed how easy it is just to grab stuff. There were several items I put back because I really didn’t need them. I just wanted them. It’s nice to be able to tell the difference. 

Thanks for reading – will be back with another update in about a week.

Frugal February – Money-Saving March

Frugal February anyone? Money-Saving March anyone? I’m doing it. I am imposing a shopping ban on myself for the months of February and March. Have you ever done that–imposed a shopping ban on yourself? I really never have. I don’t go overboard with spending, but I want to change a few things and form some better habits when it comes to money.

If there was one positive that came out of the most recent government shut down, it taught me how to get by with less, way less. I’m still in less mode. I’m still in the basics of basics mode. Why not continue? 

There are many unanswered questions. Can I go that long? What can I buy? What can’t I buy? Can I really do this? Do I really want to do this?

I have made myself some rules. If you are on my email list, you might remember a book I read about a shopping ban. It was called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. The timing of that could not have been more perfect and really, maybe it was a sign. A sign to get my shit together and just quit spending money. A sign to start saving more. A sign. 

Like I said, I don’t go overboard but there are definitely some places I can cut back and not feel like I am being deprived. 

So, here are my rules, if you will, or my I can buy this, but not that list:

  1. No new clothes
  2. No new shoes
  3. No new workout clothes
  4. Can only buy things as they run out, for example deodorant or shampoo. How many of you have a shit ton of shampoos and conditioners? I bet a lot of you. Same with makeup.
  5. Can buy groceries of course. A girl’s gotta eat.
  6. No new notebooks, notecards, pens, etc. I am a notebook whore. Not even kidding. I love journals and notebooks and notecards. Any size, all sizes. I want them all. This one will be tough for me.
  7. No new books, except for my business and then I will limit that to one per month! I have enough. I really do. I love books. I love reading them, I love listening to them, but I have enough!
  8. I will unsubscribe to emails that are trying to persuade me to buy their stuff. Believe me, that is a lot of subscriptions. 
  9. I can buy gifts, if needed.
  10. This is the last rule, but the most important rule. When I buy something, I will be asking myself if I really need it or if I just want it. This goes for everything I will be buying. THIS, is the most important rule. 

I think this is a great place to start. I also plan on opening a separate savings account and stashing as much money as I can in there every month. 

I have decluttered my closet and bathroom already and I have a few more things to declutter. I am ready to just get rid of crap.

If anyone wants to join, I would love the company and the accountability. 

I will be checking in and updating at least once a week, and possibly more. I will let you know when it gets hard. I will let you know when it feels easy. I will let you know. 

…off to unsubscribe to a crap ton of email lists. Later. 

My review of Pat Flynn’s book–

I read Pat Flynn’s new book – “How To Be Better At (Almost) Everything,” because it has Pat Flynn’s name on it. If something comes from Pat Flynn I pay attention. Because I care about you as well, I wanted to give you a quick (maybe) review. 

By way of background, I have known Pat Flynn for several years. He was my coach, when I was training for my first RKC (kettlebell certification). It’s been a minute. I think that was in 2011. I had my HKC and was now moving on to the next level. He made the difference for me. I have kept in touch with Pat since then. I am a member of his inner circle and Strong On and follow him on all social media platforms. 

I’ve never done a book review post before, so I am not sure if there is a proper format or if I get to just say what I want. Is it like grade school, like a book report? You know, where you explain the main characters and the plot and all that jazz. I’m not sure. So, you know, I will just say what I want. 

This book is a refreshing punch in the face. Is that even possible? Yes, I think it is. It will be a wake up call to a lot of people. 

Pat’s subject is generalism. What does that even mean? “Generalism isn’t about learning every skill or technique in the world ‘just because.’ It’s about being better at just the right number of things and then combining those things to form a competitive and creative advantage.” So, figure out what skills you want to learn and then the practices within them.” 

Generalism is being great at many things, but not the best at any one. I compare it to kids “these days.” If you specialize in a sport, say football, say grade school, middle school, high school and college, think of how you are taking it to a point where it can destroy your health. Kids especially should try different sports. I think in the long run this will save their bodies. 

Pat says, “The problem with specializing is that you can actually take fitness to the point where it destroys your health.” It means that you don’t specialize. You don’t become so damn good at one thing that you sacrifice. It is kind of common sense really, and why wouldn’t someone want to be good at several things? I think it’s brilliant.

Pat breaks down the process of generalism and introduces the reader (you) to skill stacking. We have been led to believe, since a young age, that specializing is what we should do. This book puts an end to that, an end to the goal of specializing. Pat breaks down his theory and tells the reader how to become a generalist. He lays out the five key principles and goes through them step-by-step. 

Pat is funny. Like really funny. Like a super dry sense of humor that some people may not get. There are some good one liners in here. 

I have several favorite parts. I’m not sure why these spoke to me and I’m not sure why I picked out these parts. Sometimes you just have to listen and hear. 

The first one: In Pat’s house, in his attic, he keeps a picture of himself, around third grade. Pat was a fat kid. He will tell you so. He was not athletic and hated to exercise. He doesn’t keep the picture to be motivated or to feel bad about himself, rather, he uses the picture to remind himself that he doesn’t want to be JUST successful or JUST good at things. He wants to do what’s important. He wants to do what matters. He wants his life to have meaning. He wants to make a difference. I would say he has made a difference in many, many lives. I think he accomplished that one. 

The second one: This part of the book is probably my favorite. Pat talked about how he was frustrated and annoyed and needed a break. He decided he would go to a local church. The next several pages, along with the spiritual practice plan, are worth the price alone. It’s touching. It’s heart-wrenching, and it means everything! To me, it did anyway. He articulates why there is suffering and wrongdoing and injustice in this world. I loved it. Read the book just for that.

The third one: He talks about his grandfather and it so meaningful. His grandfather aspired to everything because he aspired to love people and to be a man of faith. His grandfather taught him that faith was not just believing but also trying really hard to make good on those beliefs, no matter how many times you fail or don’t live up to your own expectations. 

Ultimately, we want to be happy. 

This book has everything, diet, exercise, religion, meditation with a little bit of sex, drugs, and rock and roll sprinkled in. 

There are so many great one liners. Here are just a few:

“Don’t make things harder without making them relevant.”

“Goddamnit, Judy!”

“If you want to do something, you’re going to find time to do it.” 

“Faith will stop you from taking shortcuts.”

“Training to failure is often training to fail.”

“Get the basics down. Stick to the fundamentals.”

This book is great. I loved it. I think you will too. Pat Flynn is a great teacher. He is authentic and trustworthy. And, he’s really funny! I have so much respect for him. AND, I get to meet him in person in March. I am really looking forward to that. 

You can get the book on Amazon and it’s on sale.

You can find Pat everywhere on social media. Facebook: chroniclesofstrength/ Instagram: chroniclesofstrength. He can also be found on YouTube: supmuhhumbruh and he has an amazing podcast: The Pat Flynn Show. Check him out. 

Cash Money

The other night, John and I were watching American Pickers. We rarely watch that show. For some reason there was a marathon of them leading up to the Season Premiere. In this particular episode, Mike and Frank were somewhere in a giant building going through crap looking for treasures. Same as pretty much every single episode. Mike found the most awesome tin sign. It was green and white. It was probably 2×3 feet. It looked to be in great shape. It was an S&H Green Stamps advertising sign. Remember those? Remember green stamps? 

The History: 

copied from the web:

“S&H Green Stamps were the first trading stamps popular across the U.S. and Europe, although the company did have competitors. “S&H” stands for the Sperry & Hutchinson Co, which was founded by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchison in 1896. 

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the company’s reward programs became popular nationwide, and the little green stamps were distributed by various retailers as rewards for shoppers. The stamps could be collected into booklets – the backs had an adhesive like that on postage stamps that had to be wet to adhere – then the booklets were redeemed for “rewards” ordered from S&H catalogs, or picked up at one of several S&H centers across Alabama. The centers, found in Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville and most larger cities, were like department stores, offering everything from linens to china to furniture to sporting equipment.”

S&H green stamps, small for a dime and large for a dollar. Sooper Dooper gave them out when customers spent money on groceries. A lot of them. We had a green stamp machine, kind of like a rotary dial phone. People would get mad if we, as checkers, forgot to give them their green stamps. And, if a person was really lucky the person in front of them, who didn’t collect them, would offer them to the person behind them. Score. They were a premium item. 

Who cares about green stamps, you might be asking? Well, we did. Sherry and I did. They used to have a green stamp store here in town, way down on Pierre Street, next to the funeral home. Anyone could go in there and turn in their stamp books for a discount on all kinds of products. You had to fill them in first. Lick and stick. But, the most important thing, THE MOST important thing was that a person could cash in the books for money. Cash money. And when I say person, I mean me. I also mean Sherry. I am not sure how we found out about this great program. Who knew? Winning! 

Prospect House. Mom kept the green stamps in a drawer. It may have been a basket. The memory is fuzzy. We had a ton of the empty stamp books, so we, as in Sherry and I, would lick and stick and fill up the books. We had to be careful though. We didn’t want it to look like we were taking the stamps and using them for our own purposes. I realize taking is kind of a weak word here. Okay, okay, I was stealing. Again! I think this is the last time though. Seriously. Anyway we had to be strategic. We couldn’t just fill up all the books and then go cash them in. I mean, really, we had to be better thieves than that. 

We would head down to the stamp store. We were there for no other purpose than the cash. Cold hard cash. It was good money too. The store itself always kind of creeped me out. It always seemed dark and it smelled weird. The lady who worked there was meticulous. She had dark puffy hair and glasses and wore a smock. A store smock. She was tall and skinny. I never saw her without lipstick. She always gave us the look when we walked in the door. The look of non-trust. The look of the brats are here again. Like I said, she was meticulous with these books. She made sure every single page was filled and every stamp was in its place, licking her finger and then separating the pages, making sure, page by page. Ken and Egghead from The Cottage must have told her the pop bottle story. The word may have gotten out about our lying and stealing ways. This was a small town after all. She reluctantly handed over the cash, after asking every single time if we were redeeming the stamp books for something such as luggage, or a toaster. Ummm, cash please. 

Cold hard cash. Score. I have no idea why we needed the money. It wasn’t like we were supporting a drug or alcohol habit. It could have been a candy habit though.

Most people saved the stamps and put them in books.

Most people saved the stamps to buy products at a discount.

Most people did the right thing.

Sherry and I weren’t most people. 

 I swear stealing has ceased in my life. I grew out of it. I developed a conscience. 

Tis The Season

If you don’t know me, you may think I am intimidating, bitchy, even intense. However, if you do know me, you know I am nothing like that. You know I have a big heart and love to help people. 

You may also know that my partner, Chris Schreiber, and I, own The Underground Private Training Studio. It’s private. It’s a training studio. It’s by appointment only. We love it. 

This year, we wanted to give back. We wanted to help more people or help make Christmas special for people. My heart will always be with the Veterans, but this year I thought we would do something different. 

I contacted Maryhouse. Maryhouse is a nursing home here in Pierre. I was in contact with their Coordinator, Leticia Brewer.  I told her what we wanted to do. She said absolutely. She was kind enough to put together a list of the residents, along with a few things they would like for Christmas. Us and our clients picked names on the list to buy presents.

Their wants were simple. Almost child-like. Candy, chocolate, salty snacks. There was a common theme. Several of the residents wanted warm socks and blankets or robes. Some wanted crossword puzzles, books or drawing supplies.  It was so cute. Reading the list was so touching. One lady wanted ribbon candy. How absolutely adorable, yet heartbreaking at the same time. It really made me sad. 

They loved the attention. It was easy to see they loved having company. One gentleman’s wife was in his room with him when we walked in. She was combing his hair. She was not a patient, but she spent a lot of time with him there. His room was comfortable. It had a woman’s touch. We stayed in his room for at least ten minutes. We watched him open his presents. At one point his wife scurried to get her camera. She told him to look up and smile. It was absolutely adorable. He gave a cute little smile and she took the picture. She was worried that his hair wasn’t quite right. He got candy. He opened the next present. Both of them were touched. It was a beautiful sweater and a pair of really nice socks. He loved it. She had us sign his book. It was heartwarming. I’m glad he had her company. I’m glad she was taking such good care of him. She was so patient. They were a team. 

There was a handful of husband and wife residents/patients. They were together in one room. Living just as if they were in their own home or apartment, except the reality was they needed assistance. The reality was they needed help to care of themselves. The reality was they were there for each other as best they could. The reality was they loved each other and took their vows seriously. They were together until the end. Until they became parted by death. Touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. 

Chris and I laughed that day. We laughed a lot. We also cried. So many emotions. Many times that day I felt sadness bubbling at the surface, tears about ready to burst through. It was hard a few times to hold it together.

We walked into her room. It was spotless. It was immaculate. It was a grandma’s room, or in this case, her home. Her bed had a beautiful bright colored quilt, I think it was yellow. She had her windowsill decorated for Christmas. Snowmen. She was sitting in her chair. She was wearing gray slacks and a navy blue sweater. She was beautiful. Dainty and dignified. One look at her and you wanted to hug her. She was beautiful. We told her who we were and that we wanted to bring her a Christmas present. I put the present in her lap. She looked up and was saying something to us, but we couldn’t really hear or understand. Then she started crying. She was so touched and so grateful. She kept wondering why we were bringing a present to her. She was beautiful. She kept hugging us and holding Chris’ hands. She would have held our hands all day. And if we could have, we would have held hers all day. She was beautiful. 

It was so cute to be able to watch some of them open their presents. Another beautiful little lady, got a collapsible clothes hamper. It was so touching when she said, “Oh, how nice. I really needed one of these.” Of course they never remembered what they had asked for. The surprised looks on their faces said it all. She hugged us too. She gave big squishy hugs. She was adorable. 

Every single one of them said thank you. Many of them wondered why we were doing it. A few weren’t too sure about where we came from, “The Underground, sounds illegal,” they would tell us. We just laughed and laughed. 

Those nurses and aides and Leticia are absolutely amazing. Those residents are in good hands. God bless them. 

That day was so special. That day we will never forget. I have not stopped thinking about those people. 

But why wait until “tis the season?” How about any time? Those people are the forgotten generations. The ones who are done. The ones who need us. The ones who need some attention. We need to give it to them. 

Sing, sing a song…

The big day. The big production. The Spring Concert. Lincoln School, fourth grade. We lived at the Prospect house. It was about a block from the school. Very close. It was convenient. 

We worked all year for this. It was a big deal. Everyone dressed up. We were expected to look nice. Girls usually wore dresses. Not this girl. My idea of dressing up was not jeans, so some weird dress pants and a sweater, usually a long-sleeved shirt with a sweater vest over it. Very classy and dressy looking. For me, it was. 

We practiced forever. Our music teacher was Mrs. Newman. She looked so young. Like she did her whole life. May she continue to rest in peace. Pretty sure it was her first teaching job. I can’t imagine being a music teacher. Maybe because I can’t imagine myself being able to learn music. I love it. I wish I could read it, or even know what a note is. I can’t. I don’t. I’m going to work on that this next year. I’m going to learn. 

I liked music class. Singing was fun. I remember one assignment we had to find a song with a certain count or beat or whatever it’s called. We had to bring in the 45 record, remember those? We had to show her and have the class listen to the song and find that beat or count or whatever. I brought in the 45 Lorelei by Styx. It’s a good song, but I don’t think I got the assignment quite right. It was a good song though. 

The reminder was yesterday. I was training one of my clients and the song Country Roads by John Denver came on the Spotify playlist. At the time I changed the song because I didn’t want to listen to it. It was such an old song after all. I told my client my fourth grade class had to sing that song at our spring concert. We laughed and talked about those concerts for a minute and then moved on. 

Fourth grade Peggie went right back to the concert. The concerts were held at Riggs High School in the gymnasium. Each class had a designated place on the bleachers. We were told not to be disruptive and to listen to Mrs. Newman. Of course we were and of course we didn’t. Fidgeting was going on big time. As much as being a kid is fun, there was a lot of nervous energy flowing around, anxiety if you will. We were all nervous. Well, maybe not everybody. I was. The gym was filled with parents and relatives and other spectators. The time was now. Singing time. Everything we learned time. Mrs. Newman time. 

I remember clearly we sang Country Roads by John Denver, and the song Sing, by The Carpenters. It was fun. I liked to sing. When our class performed Sing, we got fancy, some of the kids sang a different part of the song, while other kids sang another part of the song. Harmonies, perhaps? I told you I don’t know music. We sang the songs and I was devastated. I wanted it to be over. I wanted it to be done. I made a mistake singing Sing. I was embarrassed. Maybe nobody could tell. 

The next week in class, we got to listen to the recording of the concert. The click of the recorder playback button made me sweat. It seemed extra loud for some reason. The song started. Sing. The la, la, la, la, la part, is pretty prominent in that song. The recording kept playing and in that one part of the la, la, la, la, la part, plain as day, clear as a bell, there was an extra la. It was me. The extra la was me. I wanted to crawl under my desk. I wondered if anyone knew it was me? Obviously whoever was standing beside me during the concert had to have known. I was embarrassed. I felt like an idiot. That mess up, that screw up, was recorded forever on that tape. Why me? 

Things happen, kids make mistakes. Fourth grade mistakes feel like the end of the world mistakes. I recovered. Life went on and school went on. Music went on, but I learned from my mistake. I learned a really important lesson. I learned to never sing out loud at concerts again. La. 

The Familiar

They came in a tube. They were green and smelled like pine trees. The kind of smell that made a person relax and unwind. The kind of smell that made a person forget. The kind of smell that made a person realize life was going to be okay. The stress melted away.

The smell was familiar. As soon as I opened the bottle of “Holiday Peace” essential oil, I felt myself back there. I could see myself back there. Back at the Euclid house. In the bathroom. The water was running in the tub. I put one in the water. One of the oil balls. It was kind of soft and a little squishy. I knew I wasn’t supposed to. They weren’t mine. They smelled so good. Always taking things that weren’t mine.

The heat of the water melted the rubbery sphere and released the oil. The blend of oils was amazing. The scent filled the bathroom with pine and fir and frankincense. I hated baths. I hated taking them. Taking a bath…sounds weird. Anyway, it wasn’t my favorite thing. I preferred showers. I never understood how someone could just sit in the tub forever, but I did it. Those oil-filled bath balls drew me in. I couldn’t help it.

We begged to use them. She always said no. Always. I think they were expensive. Maybe that was why. As I look back now I could see why she was selfish with them. I could see why she hoarded them. I could understand a little bit. I could. 

When I opened the bottle of essential oil, it was as if I could see the memories flooding out of it, like it was a waft of smoke curling up out of the bottle. I could feel the memories as if they were yesterday. The smells, the sounds, the house, the tub, all of it was there. The smell was vintage. The smell was almost a cold smell. It’s hard to explain, but I can smell a chill. It’s strange. It must be the pine smell and cold air smell combined. I love it.

There may have been others scents, but I always remember the green, the pine, the smell, the feeling, the familiar.