When she sang the blues

Scintilla prompt # 3: Talk about a memory triggered by a particular song.

Dozens and dozens of songs make me remember. They bring to mind those unforgettable experiences, cause my lips to smile or my eyes to water, or maybe just make me sigh. The other day I heard a song playing on the radio, and it brought me back instantly to a time when I felt terribly insecure, and incredibly loved, and incomprehensibly confident when I sang along with a desperately talented soul.

Janis Joplin’s Bobby McGee makes me remember when my best friends and I used to go out around 9 pm and come home after the bar closed at 2 am. In between, we drank pitchers of cheap beer, scanning the smoky scene that surrounded us.  We were regulars at a dive bar located outside of Georgetown in Washington D.C. We were 21 or so (or perhaps a little younger — I once got in to this joint using my college library card).

Janis died before I was born, but the legacy she left in her music remains. Something about her unrefined voice and seventies style character is powerful and genuine. We played this song at full volume on our way home with the windows rolled down, and our hair whipped around in the wind.

Our eyes were bright.

My conscience was wide open for all of life’s gifts, joys, marvels and disappointments to begin to shape my future and the present day.

The three of us were the choir for young Janis’s bluesy hymn.

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train
And I’s feeling nearly as faded as my jeans.
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained,
It rode us all the way to New Orleans.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna,
I was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues.
Windshield wipers slapping time, I was holding Bobby’s hand in mine,
We sang every song that driver knew.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, now now.
And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun,
Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul.
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done,
Hey Bobby baby? kept me from the cold.

One day up near Salinas, I let him slip away,
He’s looking for that home and I hope he finds it,
But I’d trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday
To be holding Bobby’s body next to mine.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing, that’s all that Bobby left me, yeah,
But feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
Hey, feeling good was good enough for me, hmm hmm,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

My upbringing was laid back Catholic, and so I don’t recall Shrove Tuesday ever being a really big deal. I opted to give up something relatively benign during the season from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, and I remember my weekly catechism teacher telling us that we were supposed to pray more during Lent.

My ambivalent attitude toward the season of penance changed the year I moved to New Orleans. There I learned that Mardi Gras isn’t just an evening of costumed mayhem and bedlam. It’s actually an entire month designed for revelry leading up to a period of sobriety.

My Mardi Gras experience was shimmering gold, brilliant green and royal purple. It was feathered masks and jumbo beads and sweet drinks laced with trouble in between periods of study and structure. It was a time to play when the rest of the country sat tucked inside, mid-winter, wishing for signs of spring. It was marching bands and elaborate floats and flirtation with krewe members who tempted my friends and me with their pretty throws, shiny colored beads, trinkets and plastic doubloons. It was simply fabulous.

Granted, the debauchery of the fraternities that pile into caravans and literally spill and tumble and dance down Bourbon Street in the Crescent City wasn’t so fabulous. The crowds on that particular avenue cause those of us who are petite to search for a hand to hold to avoid getting lost in the madding crowd, because it’s impossible to see what’s going on, and even the most mild mannered among us contemplated tossing off her top. It was a little scary to be in the midst of this scene.

It’s a scene that could get kind of ugly.

But in other parts of the city, I witnessed small children and wise centenarians experience sheer delight as they reached out to catch endless strands of colorful beads being tossed from floats. Costumes dazzled and parades entertained. Pitchers of Bloody Marys, splashed liberally with hot sauce and spiked with celery, were freshly made in the morning. We emptied our glasses by noon before breaking to anticipate even greater spectacle as the krewes marching through our neighborhood became ever more enthusiastic. We were addicted to parades.

The festivities didn’t end till sun up the next day.

I was a graduate student the year I lived in New Orleans. I lived with two other students in a tumble down, non-air conditioned (except bedrooms, or we would have melted in our sleep), low rent apartment in an old house in the Garden District. We lived just down the street from the writer Anne Rice’s Greek Revival style home. I never went inside, but often ran curiously by its stone façade, envisioning antique galleries and imagining dark coffins placed in neat shadowy corners.

As the sun rose, street cleaners scrubbed away the evidence of the day before, and I opened my eyes to invite in the sobering dawn of Ash Wednesday.

Linking up today with Just Write.

snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

If you read the title of my post and immediately began humming Julie AndrewsMy Favorite Things, then we have that in common.

If you didn’t, add The Sound of Music to your Netflix queue without delay.

It’s Friday, I left work early, and before picking up the boys, I ran four miles in the rain. It was great.

There are a whole lot of things going on right now that aren’t so great. Some close family members are struggling with their health and well being. Financially things are tight, and I’m seriously counting down till we no longer have to pay for full time childcare. It’s grey outside (as usual). We don’t want to live on our street anymore. And a small group of men are attempting to make powerful and life-altering decisions about critical reproductive services on behalf of – yes – the women for whom they are most relevant.

Frankly, it’s quite discouraging.

But the weekend is upon us, and since I took a mini-holiday this afternoon, I’m delighted to share a few of my favorite things with you in my journey to finding joy. There is one rule to finding joy today, however. I am not permitting myself to indulge in highlighting those things that are not within my reach right now (i.e. margaritas on a warm, sandy beach; trips to New Orleans, 90 minute hot stone massage). Instead, I walked around my house and yard looking for what brings me pleasure.

Here is what I found:

A mug of steaming Stumptown Coffee is an excellent way to begin the day, and my husband is a wonderful barista.

One of my dearest friends gave me these boots last year. They are quickly becoming indispensable and I always think of her when I put them on.

It makes me feel good to feed the birds.

Last night I started reading my eldest son his very first chapter book!

Post-Valentine heart balloons still provide a burst of cheer in the living room.

Red potatoes with homegrown rosemary will taste good tonight.

My runnning shoes served me quite well this afternoon.

My son made an awesome map this week.

There are signs of spring in our backyard!

Linking up with finding joy today!

friday favorite things | finding joy