I Was Country, When Country Wasn’t Cool

I grew up in a very rural area on a farm in Indiana. I’ve stated that before (numerous times), but something I’ve not discussed is how my upbringing influenced my very eclectic musical tastes.  

Being born in the Seventies, and growing up in the Eighties and Nineties, it was a time before YouTube, video on demand, iTunes, or any other instance of the conveniences we have at our fingertips today to hear what we want. We had eight track tapes, vinyl records, cassettes, and later cds. We had the radio, we had MTV (which at the time actually played music videos). If we wanted to hear a specific song, we either spent the money to buy the album (or single), or we would sit by the radio and tried to hit record on our tape recorders when our song came on. If a song meant that much to you, you had to work for it.

My musical influences came at me from different, overlapping angles. My mom listened to country music mostly with a bit of religious music thrown in. My dad listened to the “oldies” station, which at that time wasn’t all that old. My friends listened to the “pop” music stations and that was kind of a mix between rock, pop, and R&B. My best friend growing up was in dance classes (she now teaches dance), so I got a lot of music from her…pop, country line dance, etc. I had options to listen to, but looking back, I’d say that I pretty much listened to other people’s choices and absorbed from that. 

I spent a lot of time with my mom growing up, and with my best friend’s family, who listened mostly to country music. By the time I was in high school, I was a big fan of the country music of the time. Not that I didn’t listen to other things, but mostly country. Artists like Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, John Michael Montgomery, Lorrie Morgan, and Bryan White were some of the favorites I had at the time (and still listen to today).  In fact the first concert I ever attended was Reba. It was the most amazing experience. 

My mom listened to a lot of more classic country, like Dolly Parton, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, etc. and I enjoyed that too.  My dad introduced me to a lot of music that was from before I was born, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and various other “classic rock” bands.  My friends (especially in middle and high school) were listening to Guns -N- Roses, Def Leppard, Whitney Houston, New Kids On The Block, and Bon Jovi. 

I took in all the influences I could. But I have to admit, it was high school before I started making my own musical decisions. I jumped on the country bandwagon. In fact, as a freshman, we had to write a letter to ourselves ten years in the future. I wrote myself that I hoped I had become as big of a country music star as Garth Brooks.  I enjoyed the music so much then that I wanted to be a part of that world myself.  

It has now been 25 years since I wrote that letter to myself.  I’ve jumped back off of that coutry music bandwagon.  I still enjoy the music I grew up with, but I am not a fan of this newer coutry music at all.  Maybe it was the people I was around after high school through my twenties and early thirties, but country music kind of fell off the radar. Rock, R&B, (and later) Rap, and Pop music was the mainstream. Which is a pretty eclectic mix in itself. 

Nowadays, country is making a comeback (mainstream wise). Artists Like Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Florida-Georgia Line are bringing the genre back to the forefront of today’s pop culture. And with Blake Shelton recently being named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”.  Though I am not a personal fan of some of this newer country (I can’t stand Taylor Swift…her catchy songs make me want to pull my hair out even though I don’t have any). But I have spent a lot of time lately listening to the (now classic) country I grew up with.  

The resurgance of country music is heartwarming.  There are a lot of great songs in the genre that I am glad are getting the recognition they deserve. Amongst the people I know though, a lot of them are just getting into country, both the newer stuff and rediscovering some older songs that I’ve known about for years. I think it’s great that people are getting back into the music of my youth, but (in the words or Barbara Mandrell) I was country, when country wasn’t cool. 

 

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You Make My Dreams

Though arguably the best Hall & Oates song, I’m just stealing the title today. Everyone has dreams. Things they wish to happen in the future. Some dream of unrealistic things like winning the lottery or living a life where they live beyond their means and don’t work, but some of us have dreams that we can acheive.  

This can go by different “titles”….dreams, goals, hopes, wishes….But they are all the same in the instance of which I am writing.  I have a lot of dreams for my life.  To excel at work, to continue to rebuild my credit, to eventually regain my license and a car.  All of these are acheivable.But the one thing that keeps seeming to elude me is love.  I want to be loved, I think everyone does. I had a love once that accepted me unconditionally, and I have a dream that I will find another.

For the past three weeks, I have been talking to someone that may fill that bill. Though we have not officially met (he lives 100 miles away), we have been texting and have talked on Skype. He seems to be the perfect person to heal my lonely heart. We have things in common, enough differences to keep it interesting, we seem to be compatible both sexually and in our beliefs, and he is absolutely adorable. 

We’ve talked several times about the future, what we want and don’t want, where we hope this goes, and all those other little conversations that a new couple has. We seem to be on the same page about a lot of things and that’s great. But we’ve not had an in depth conversation about our dreams of a perfect relationship.I’m sure we will, but it’s still new and we’ve not gotten there yet.  As I gave him a link to my blog, he can now read mine, as I am going to spell it out below. 

I dream of loving someone that loves me back. An unconditional kind of love that can weather anything that life may throw our way.  I’d like to have a house that we can afford, bills paid, food in the fridge, and not have to need anything.  I’d like to be able to be proud to have him by my side, have the desire to show him off and think “WOW, He’s mine”.  I would hope they felt the same about me. Someone who can be my best friend as well as my lover. Someone I want to be around all the time, but I can miss when he is gone. Someone to laugh at my dumb dad jokes, and that makes me laugh as well. 

I have a lot of Dreams for my future, but I think that the best part of talking to (Name hidden for privacy) is that he makes me dream in the first place.  He makes me want to be better and he makes me want to strive for all of the feelings I described earlier. He makes me want to dream of happiness and a life of love. For that I thank him (and I actually did in a text this morning). 

Like the song says, “you make my dreams come true”. and I dream that continues to happen.  

I’ll Stand By You

‚ÄčOh, why you look so sad, the tears are in your eyes,

Come on and come to me now, and don’t be ashamed to cry,

Let me see you through, ’cause I’ve seen the dark side too.

When the night falls on you, you don’t know what to do,
Nothing you confess could make me love you less,

I’ll stand by you,
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you

So if you’re mad, get mad, don’t hold it all inside,
Come on and talk to me now.
Hey there, what you got to hide?
I get angry too, well, I’m alive like you.
When you’re standing at the cross roads,
And don’t know which path to choose,
Let me come along, ’cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you,
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you.
Baby, even to your darkest hour, and I’ll never desert you,
I’ll stand by you.
And when, when the night falls on you baby,
You’re feeling all a lone, you’re wandering on your own,
I’ll stand by you.

I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you, baby even to your darkest hour,
And I’ll never desert you,
I’ll stand by you,

I’ll stand by you.
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you, baby even to your darkest hour,
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you


This is probably one of the best songs describing how a relationship SHOULD be. It’s about sticking together, through the hard times and being there to support your love regardless of what may befall them. 

No relationship is going to be happy and upbeat all the time. It’s inevitable that some bad times will be come to any relationship that’s worth a damn.  People lose loved ones, lose jobs, have accidents, etc.  The hope is that these things don’t happen, but the truth is that they do.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people. The right thing to do is to stand by your loved one when they are having a hard time. 

I have failed at this in the past. My husband was a drug addict and I chose to run away and as a consequence, he died.  But I have learned from that instance. If you care about someone, you do everything you can to help them, support them, and lift them out of their hard time.  It’s what you do in a relationship. You may not be able to “fix” or “solve” the problem at all times, but if nothing else, you help carry the burden with you. Let them know they are not alone and they are cared for. 

I chose this particular topic today because, as I said, it’s something I failed to do in the past.  Also, I am in the beginning stages of a relationship with a new guy and I want it to be known that should hard times fall upon us in the future (if it goes well and we have a future) I will be there. I have learned that giving up is not the answer. 

I’m a “fix it” kind of guy, but I know that I cannot fix every problem.  I’m limited to what I can do. but I am not limited about the support I can give.  The line of the song “Baby, Even in your darkest hour, I’ll never desert you” is the epitome of how it should be.  Don’t run, don’t try to sweep the problem under the rug, don’t give up….just fix it if you can and help carry the burden if you can’t. 

That’s why this song is so important to me. It reminds me of hwo things should be, how I haven’t responded in the past, and advises me for the future.  

A Change (Would Do You Good)

This is one of my favorite songs by Sheryl Crow, though this blog has nothing to do with the song itself, except that the title is very true.  

As I’ve stated before, I am an extreme creature of habit. I enjoy routines, and could probably tell you what I am going to be doing at any given time at a future date.  There are things I do at the same time every day every week, every month, etc. 

In my youth, I was very spontaneous. I rarely knew what I’d be doing in five minutes, let alone making long term plans for the future. Sometimes people would mention someplace and I’d drop what I was doing and go.  But I was also a lot younger, and a drug addict.  It was after being sober that I started to get into routines.  It really was an important tool for my sobriety actually.  Focus on what’s next and after that, and after that rather than thinking about wanting my next fix.  It really helped.  

However, it is now 18 years later.  I’ve been sober for 18 long years (as of November 6th, I sobered up on my 22nd birthday) and the routines of my daily life have changed very little. I still get up two hours before having to be somewhere to allow coffee time, I still have the same morning routine in the bathroom every morning, I still have to have my things set just so around me when I sit down to dinner.  Part of this is definitely behavior indicitive of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) though I’ve downplayed that throughout the years, I will admit it is true. The symptoms of OCD which I display are not crippling as they are for some people. I do have to physically touch the locks on my doors to ensure they are locked before laying down to sleep. I have to always have to have my glass and silverware on the left side of my plate at dinner, even in a restaurant (I’m left handed). When I sit down to read or write, everything I could possibly need has to be within reach of me and I don’t do well with interruptions.  

I’ve recently, in the last year and a half or so, realized that my dependence on routines has gotten a bit out of hand. It started when Tim and I separated. I fell into a daily routine living alone very quickly just to keep my sanity from not having such an important part of my life not be there anymore.  But within a month of living alone, I made the conscious decision to stop that madness.  It was kind of nice NOT knowing what the day was going to hold. Since then, I have switched up little things here and there.  Ive found that it has been good for my fitness also by not spending certain hours doing certain things or to be be utterly prepared to not get up for hours at a time as I used to be. 

I’ve took some chances lately that I probably wouldn’t have taken before. I took a promotion at work in July, switching my schedule to four 10 hour days instead of five 8 hour days. I’ve switched up my routine of cleaning and laundry on Sundays to whenever I get to it on my days off now. Little things along those lines, but I think they’ve been good for me.  I also took a chance to start dating again. This was a major step for me.  I’m learning about a whole new person and their life. I’m having to switch things up drastically to accomodate the schedule of not only myself, but another person. Also, the dynamic of the relationship is one that definitely isn’t something I was used to (but that is a whole other blog topic). 

Change is unavoidable in life.  We can fight it or accept it.  Some things are easier to change, others require an effort. Sometimes it is sudden, other times a gradual thing.  But one thing is for sure. Sometimes, A Change Would Do You Good. 

New Blogs

On Monday, November 6th, I turned 40 years old. While some of you think “DAMN he’s old”, and some of you are thinking “aww, what a young guy”, and even a few that say “age is just a number”.  But regardless, it was a milestone birthday for me, as it is for most people.  

I made a promise to myself on Monday that I would get back to my writing.  I worked ten hours on Monday however, and didn’t get around to it that day.  Yesterday, on Tuesday, I sat down here on my couch after having a major panic attack that morning.  I had my keyboard in front of me, I turned on soothing music (as I often do while I write), I had my tea, and a short list of topics I had been compiling.  

However as I sat here, I couldn’t even type a coherent sentence. It was the worst feeling after the panic attack earlier in the morning.  I thought and struggled hard to say something….anything…..but came up short.  I decided to give it a break and put away the keyboard.  

This morning, however, I awoke to a million ideas swarming through my brain. I am going to do a series of blogs titled by song titles that mean something to me, they may or may not have to do with the actual song, though I suspect most might.  I would like to do another “best of” blog as I did with the Beatles, though after some feedback, I’ll keep it shorter and contained to one blog post. I also have some relationship advice that I’d like to share, some insight I realized too late after my husband was dead, but knowleedge that will help others and myself in the future. 

I’ll also be (finally) posting a few stories on my creative writing page. I am excited about that, and I warn you now that some of them will be NSFW, though I’ll say so if they fall into that category. 

But for now, happy reading! 

Things That Start With ‘S’

I thought long and hard of of how to tie things I wanted to discuss into one blog, as none of them felt like they were enough to stand on their own. Then it hit me, they all start with the letter S! (Or I’m going to make them). 

SCORPIO

It’s Scorpio season, kids. Halloween, November, fall has hit us, and most importantly, my birthday is coming up. Scorpios kind of have the reputation of being the bad boys of the astrological signs. We are opinionated (hence the title of my blog), sometimes harsh with our truths, we aren’t known to sugar coat things, and we are (according to popular opinion) freakishly fun in bed.  But it’s not just the sign itself that excites me, it this time of year in general. Not just because of my birthday, though that is a plus, but this is a wonderful time of year. Halloween is the best holiday in my opinion, I love the fall colors in the trees and seeing all the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns warms my soul. 

SCARY STUFF

As I said earlier, Halloween is the best! I love all the scary movies and shows. I like seeing the shows about the great lengths people go to to decorate for the holiday, and the attractions people come up with. Plus I am fascinated by “actual” haunted houses, and this is the best time of year to catch shows about them. I love seeing old houses that have a story. Secret passages, grand staircases, odd things people built into their homes decades or centuries ago…it’s fascinating. But I’m kind of an architecture nut. 

SKINNY JEANS

A couple years ago, when I had lost my first significant amount of weight, my husband bought me a pair of black corduroy skinny jeans. I know he meant well, but all they did was accentuate all the work I had left to do. I had to lay flat across the bed to get them buttoned, and they gave me a horrible muffin top look. He told me they looked great, but I know he was only trying to be helpful. But recently, I found them in the closet and tried them on again. Not only do they fit, there is room to spare! They are comfortable, and I can hold the waistband away from me. For a former fatty, that’s a huge deal! My only complaint is the pockets are shallow, I guess skinny people don’t need to carry much around with them. 

SLEEP

Since leaving Tim in May of 2016, I’ve slept on a futon that killed me, then I bought an air mattress that popped a seam making me roll out of bed. Then I slept on my couch for over a year, but as couches inevitably do, it started to get very uncomfortable and caused me a lot of back pain. I finally broke down and bought a bed. I got the mattress first, then the frame came about a week later. But now that it’s in place and I have an actual bed….WOW. I’ve slept great, no back pain when I get up, and quite frankly, I don’t want to get out of it. I’m laying across the bed as I type this. It’s just that great. 

SMITTEN

On Tuesday, I started talking with someone. He is wonderful, we have a lot in common, but not so much that it’s annoying. I have not actually met him yet, it’s been all texting, but I see great potential. I may be fooling myself, but this smitten feeling is wonderful. I’m trying hard not to read more into it than may actually be there, but it’s the first time I’ve felt like this in a long time. Maybe I am craving for love again, or maybe I’m just a bit infatuated, but either way I like it. 

These are my thoughts for my week. Maybe in the future I can try to tie other letters together, it was fun! 

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

…But sometimes you get what you need.  This is more than a catchy Rolling Stones song, it’s become a reality for many folks, like myself, that think their dreams are being shattered on the daily. 

When I was much younger, I wanted a lot of things.  As a small child, I wanted to be “normal” and not the odd child I was.  As a preteen, I wanted to fit in and not be a part of the outcasts I was friends with in middle school…be one of the “cool kids” you know?  As a teenager, I had embraced my “odd-ness” but I wanted to be able to openly be who I was.  As a young adult, I was comfortable in my own skin, was open about myself, but was a drug addict though I wanted to be better than I was.  By my mid-twenties, I was sober, had a job, my own place, but lacked the love I wanted in my life. Constant heartbreak had made me a jaded asshole when it came to relationships.  

I wanted to be with Tim, in fact I talked to him for two years prior to meeting him. I begged him to go out with me for a very long time before he finally relented and we were together for 11 years after that. But though that time I got what I wanted, it didn’t turn out the way I expected.  13 years of my life culminated in the death of someone I both loved unconditionally and had grown to hate a little.  But I’m not here to talk about that.

The progression of how my life has went has been on course.  Meaning I always wanted something, but I always got what I needed instead.  Had I been more popular, or normal, or less odd, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  Had I got exactly what I wanted as a child, I’d probably be married to some girl from high school with three kids I can’t afford, stuck in a job I hate, and living within a few miles of where I grew up (if not on the actual farm itself).  I’d be miserable.  By getting what I wanted, I learned it wasn’t exactly what I needed. I wanted a love. I got that, but also got some issues I may never get over completely. 

There is a difference between wants and needs.  You need food, water, shelter.  You want expensive things, money, and personal desires. I have never been homeless, I have never gone hungry or thirsty, my needs have been met.  I have wanted numerous things in my life, material things, emotional things, and desires. But not getting what we want is the key to happiness.  We think we need what we want, only to find the things we want aren’t what we need. 

I needed to be a bit of an outcast as a child to prepare me for the discrimination I’d face as an adult. I needed to be a bit odd when I was younger in order to accept the fact that life isn’t always happy as it seems on the outside.  I would even say that I needed to be a drug addict so I could learn that goals are acheivable and they take a lot of work rather than to just be handed to us. I needed to have my heart broken so I could learn to love.   Sometimes we even have to get what we want to see that it isn’t what we need.  

Life teaches us many lessons.  It starts when we are young and never stops until we die.  The best thing you can do is learn from life and let it help you make better choices in the future.  Regret is the worst thing you can do, everything happens for a reason.  And sadly, sometimes things don’t work out i your favor.The moral of the story, kids, is be careful what you wish for.