Thursday, December 8, 2011


Recently, while I dug through the old folders at the bottom of a closet for my divorce paperwork (who knew Balthazar/The Kid's college applications would ask for the exact month and year in which I broke the ties that bound me? Not I.), I came across an old notebook in which I'd done some fictional scribbling (that is to say, I scribbled some fiction, not that I'm lying about having scribbled in it). I pulled the notebook out from the rubble and leafed through it, sort of smiling as I read my notes, and remembered how dreadful things were at that point in my life.

At the time, Balthazar's dad and I had long since split up and The Kid and I were sharing the bedroom I'd once shared with my sister when we were kids, at my parents' place. Space was tight and money was tighter. I'd completed a gig by mid-June of that year, worked part-time for a while, you know how it is. (I'm reminded by Grandpa's words in the movie The Lost Boys, "Lucy, you're the only woman I ever knew that didn't improve her situation by getting divorced.") (Word.)

Anyway, I'd become involved in a Long Distance Romance (LDR) with a European dude I'd "met" online (we were both avid X-Philes). At some point I got a crappy full-time job, which eased some of my financial concerns but didn't get me any closer to Mr. Wonderful. (And anyway, our romance was doomed, as I couldn't see myself taking little Balthy that far away from his dad, and Mr. Wonderful, it turned out, wasn't prepared to pull up stakes to be with me.)

Our star-crossed LDR dragged on till the following summer/early fall, when it finally imploded in a flurry of pissy e-mails. A month after that, I was laid off from the crappy job. (Oh, snap!) I can sort of grimace about it all now, but at the time, it was le major suck. But damned if I didn't rally - I began writing. Perhaps I did it to escape from the God-awfulness I lived (in fact, I'm sure of it). Thinking back to the ruined-me-of-the-past, I get all onion-eyed for her suffering, but I'm also just so damned proud of her pluck. Wallowing in my misery would've been prodigiously easy (and I definitely did, a bit; I'm a good littler wallower), but I also pushed through the ick and applied myself toward a productive end. Yay, me!

But back to the notebook: along with my scribblings, I'd made a list of songs I'd listened to in heavy rotation as I wrote. At the top of the list was a song I haven't heard in ages - "Good to be Alive" by this groovy She-jay (female deejay) who goes by the moniker DJ Rap. As my mind chugged through its memory cache in search of the lyrics, my eyes misted over again. Chanting along with the song (which frequently made no sense to me) somehow got me through those dark days, and I found myself singing the tune repeatedly in the days following my rediscovery.

In the song, DJ Rap sings, "...sometimes I wonder how I survived..." I wonder that about myself. How do we keep going in the face of adversity, suffering, repeated failure, and heartache? Maybe it's stubbornness. Maybe it's naïveté. And maybe it's just...pluck.

Any of youse guys got a tune that kept you from jumping off your own personal ledge in the Before Times? Tell us about it in the Comments field, yo.


  1. Compulsion by ML Gore was a great one for me. It really did make me remember that it was time to "put one foot in front of the other"! In fact, 18 years later, it's still on my playlist.

  2. "Got to move on sometime..." Yes, indeed. Excellent tune.

  3. I listenend to "See you on the other side," by Ozzie Osbourne, repeatedly after my dad passed away.

  4. Right now, whenever I think about recent events in my life, I find just one line from a song going through my head. On its appearance, I groan and rummage through my brain for a different earworm to replace it. "I will survive." Kill me now. (Actually it's a very appropriate song to pop up in my head; I just groan for the era, end of the '70s for you youngsters out there.)

  5. I think I've answered this before. "Just when I thought I'd seen the last of you...You come here scratchin' at my door...Your pain and anger's in the howling dark...of every corridor I walk..." The album Brave by Marillion.

  6. Again, I wish each comment had a "Like" button so I could like all of these!

    Sara Leigh, since it's in your head anyway:

  7. Well hon you know my story, I thought I'd hit the black girl lotto when I married an NBA player. Well that makes it sound a lot more fantastical than it actually was. We met in college dated a bit right before he was drafted. Not only was he handsome and tall (6ft 5h), but he was funny and sweet too. Of course I fell in love having had a crush on him my whole college life. I ended up being the chosen one and was whisked off to lovely Indiana. We were married just 7months after our first date. Not only were there furs and cars there was affection and adoration on his part. He loved me endlessly it seemed. But it all fell apart once I became pregnant. What should have been the thing that completed us tore us apart. He went cold and distant. Everything stopped, everything. It seemed like he resented me. He stopped coming home and started late night calls in rooms downstairs or in the garage. I fell victim to the oldest cliche in the book. I was cheated on by a professional athlete (gasp...NO!). Yep, not once but twice. The first was during my pregnancy. Once the baby was born, we tried to give it another shot. He was traded to Philly. We figured new town, new beginning. But nope, same ole same ole. Luckily I was closer to home. So I went back. I went from a 3000 square foot home to an 11 by 14 foot bedroom in my parents house. It was awful. Add to it that he was now playing overseas so it meant constantly explaining to my toddler that daddy can't come today. But somehow, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, put on a brave face and started again. My father said to me " you're young (25 ). You're smart, you. Don't depend on this man's money cause then he can treat you anyway he wants. Get a job, take care of yourself and be independent. ". And that's what I did. I didn't take a dime in alimony. We set up a trust for my sons child support. I have worked ever since. Can't say I love it per se but I can say that I love that when we had to submit tax info for my son's college apps, it was good to see I make almost double of what he brings home yearly.

  8. Oh yeah my tune was " ordinary world" by Duran. And as try to make my way . In the Ordinary World. I will learn to survive.

  9. "Ordinary World" tends to choke me up every time I hear it. Pretty nervy of it, really. :-)


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