Monday, November 23, 2009

How Did I Turn Into the Person I am Today?

Obviously I can't answer that question in one post; it would take a book to put all the pieces together that make me tick. And even then one book probably wouldn't do it. I'd be one of those people who feels compelled to release a new memoir every ten years. What was the name of that recent autobiography or album retrospective? The Best So Far? (Yeah, that would be me and my tremendous ego suitably referencing a Robbie Williams album.)

Or I'd have a blog to share it all as it happened. Oh, wait....

So, anyway, here is a little piece of what the Bitchin' Wife was like in the old days and maybe a teensy bit of insight into how I got to the person I am today.

Remember this thing?

The world's first iPod, er, I mean Walkman! I had some other lamer version before the one pictured, but it wasn't half as sweet as this bright-yellow, size of large-ish pocket dictionary, clip to my belt, water-proof tape player.

I went through at least two, maybe three of these puppies before giving up going out in public with it (damn the too expensive DiscMan for making my yellow box o' boogie passé!!)

One of the best things (and worst, too) about growing up on a farm is the solitude. I was the youngest by four years, so by the time I reached 7th grade I was essentially an only child. Because my mom went back to school about that time and was gone a lot, it was really just me and my dad most of the time. My dad, despite his many fantastic qualities, is not super chatty and at the obnoxious age of 14, I certainly didn't want to hang out with him any more that he wanted to hang out with me. So, when my dad was milking the cows and shielded from any aural input beyond the ticking of sucking of the milkers and the roar of the vacuum system that transfered the milk from the parlour to the tank, I could be as loud as I wanted to be without a sould to hear me.

I wore my Walkman everywhere, singing my heart out as I went. I hayed the fields, singing over the whir of the tedder machine and the grinding of gears. I fed the calves, crooning my way down the line of fuzzy little babies in hutches. I put on my barn boots and waded through the springs in the hollows, all while singing and daydreaming about the day that I would be off the farm and leading a glamorous life of fame and wealth, surrounded by friends and lackies all the time. I really was convinced that somehow I was destined for stardom. (This led to a particularly egregious essay titled "I'm a Star" that I used as part of my package to apply to college. Lordy, I am so happy that I do NOT have a copy of that lying around... *cringe*)

Of course, those plans never came to fruition. Which is fine. I mean, I'm only 37, I still have years to pull this off, right?

One thing that makes me sad now, though, is the fact that having people around all the time totally complicates the ability to sing everywhere one goes! I mean, certainly I can still cut loose in the car and in the house... but what about those Snow White moments in the garden? What about singin' it the hills that are alive with music??

I still miss being able to sing outside at the top of my lungs. Every time I walk across the cow pasture to pick up the kids from school I give a look all around, making sure there aren't any other moms walking nearby, and will sing a bit. But never as loud as I can. Or as loud as I want to.

One of the main reasons I stopped using my Walkman in college and still rarely listen to my iPod when out and about is because it is just too difficult to walk around with songs in my ears, filling up my heart (hey, laugh if you will, but those music lovers out there know what I mean), and then welling up in my throat. Not being able to express that feeling in any way save changing the rhythm of my walk is just too difficult; I just can't keep that kind of thing in. (And I think we've all seen that crazy person who sings along with their iPod, totally out loud, and they don't even realize they are doing it.... and you may completely understand how someone might make that mistake, but that does not make it any less cringe-worthy.)

Now imagine a chunky farm girl with a terrible haircut (I had one foray into 80's poufy hair and 1986 was the year, my mother did not take one picture of me during that hideous time, so I have no photograph to help you out visually), dressed in a giant scrubby old coat of her dad's, black rubber barn boots, and a burning desire to turn into a skinny Whitney Houston, strutting across a stage in a skimpy, sparkly gown in front of an adoring audience.... (Or imagine me today, trying to sing this 80's treacle-fest without sounding as sheepish as I feel. If you want to hear exactly why i never pursued that career in singing, you can go here. The high note at the end killed me! That, and the interruption by Animal to build him a marble maze.)


  1. Bossy is still waiting to be discovered too. Here, in her house. (Waves arms frantically.)

  2. OMG. I am just going to have to send you a pic of my super duper awesome Sony yellow boombox that sits in our bathroom right now-splashproof, uhn huhn, that's right, and proud of it...that and the fact that my bestest present of under 13dom is still kickin' for showers and prep time...although, sadly the other day I noted one of the speakers shorting out and my poor T-hub about had to put up with a blithering wisp of a 12yr old whose best friend was leaving forever!!...& I'm so with you on the alone of the things I appreciate most about our new country life? Shouting it out like the musical loving lady I am ;) p.s. On a dairy note, our local dairy farmer friends just down the road gave us a tour the other day of the whole operation...was part? Da babies :)

  3. Should keep on singing as much as you can, it keeps the blues away!


  4. Well there IS always X-Factor. You'd be the first American on there - could give you an angle, irrespective of whether you have some handy tragedy to help connect you to the audience.

    I remember the Walkman. I used to walk around with it all the time too. And mix tapes.

    Secret- I also sing all the time - around the house, walking around town, despite the fact that I can't sing. (There's nothing like having a professionally singing father to make your own vocal shortcomings stark).

  5. "imagine a chunky farm girl with a terrible haircut"


    "burning desire to turn into a skinny Whitney Houston"

    *grapples with imagination*

  6. I'm totally that person you see singing too loudly and way off key. And when people stare at me, I'm all "What?! Can't you hear the genius in me?"

    I accidentally, and by accident I mean I told my friend to cut all of my hair off when I was 6, so I don't have any poofy stories, just almost bald ones. For a long time...

  7. I, too, have a songstress in my heart dying to get out. Poor girl doesn't realize she's tone deaf. In her mind, she's Christina Aguilera. When she was young, she was Aretha Franklin. Go ahead and sing, girlfriend!

  8. Keep singing girl! Oh how I miss my 80's foghorn leghorn hair !!

  9. Now we know that all that solitude probably made you the . . .er. . . "chatty" person that you are today too!

  10. Is that the waterproof walkman? So handy, you know, when you're swimming laps. to have an anchor.

    Anyway. I sang Greatest Love of All for my seventh grade voice recital. And you know where that catapulted me.


  11. I've heard worse on American Idol.At least you can carry the tune.

    You've got the hat going for you, after all. Go with a theme and get it all remixed so no one can hear when you're off key.

  12. I had that Walkman.

    Oh, I wanna dance with somebody...

  13. My Walkman like that is somewhere in my Mom's house to this day! Oh, honey, from the bad 80s hair to the yellow Walkman, I was that girl, too. The difference is, where you can sing, I can't. Sadly, my neighbors could attest to this today. Being the house on the curve of the cul-de-sac where others live very close by makes those first few open window Spring days a wee bit scary for them while I'm busting out whatever tune pops up while the iPod is on shuffle mode!

  14. I'm that weirdo who sings in public. My new thing is to sing while I'm biking through town, I've zipped past by the time people notice.

    Also, I'm in Italy and just like you'd imagine, there are people singing operas in the streets all the time. So the only weird thing about me is that it's in English.

  15. This explains SO much. ;)

    (also, hi. Come home.)

  16. Thank you for this.

    The problem with the email feed is I don't get over here often enough to say how much I enjoy your post. But this post is special. I like knowing where people come from.

  17. My brother caught me belting out the Greatest Love of All, and when I picture that scene in my mind, I still die a little on the inside.

    I love your yellow Hummer, I mean, Walkman.

  18. Somethin' like "those were the days my friend...." la la la la la la la!!

  19. You just totally described my 5 year old. She walks this farm singing her tunes and flailing her rubber boots around in the dirt. She has yet to discover the head sets, and ear bugs, just kickin her heels to her own beat!
    SO DAMN CUTE!!!!

    Now if I can only get them to do those dang farm chores this spring!!


Thoughts appreciated. Advice welcome. Douche-baggery scoffed at then deleted.