Things You Think in an MRI

Does this sound more like a jackhammer, or a hangover?

Good thing I’m not claustrophobic or I’d be totally freaking out in here.

Hmm. If I did completely freak, how would I get out? Like, there’s not even enough room to bend my knees to skootch myself down the tube.

Is this more, or less, room than I would have in a coffin?

Ooh, bad thought. Better not think about coffins. Better close my eyes and pretend like I’m in final savasana at the end of Bikram class. Savasana. . . translates to Dead Body Pose. Dammit!

If I have glitter on me anywhere, is it going to ignite? 

I wonder if my feet are sticking out of the tube. I can’t tell how far out they are.

This headphone cable is cutting into my carotid artery. I think it’s doing it on purpose. Maybe my headphones are possessed. They remind me of the headphones in the language lab in high school. We always made a mad dash to claim  the least disgusting set of headphones. The ones without Dippity Do or Jheri Curl all over them. Wow. I totally just dated myself there.

Oh no, not Freebird. Wasn’t I hearing Alicia Keys a minute ago? Did they change the station? God I hope so. Otherwise I’ve completely lost it.

I haven’t listened to Freebird in its entirety in so freaking long. Nobody ever sits through this entire song on purpose. I can remember exactly two times in my life I have listened to this whole song.

There was that time in our driveway in Bloomington, me and K out of our minds and for some reason sitting in the car listening to the radio. We could have gotten out any time we wanted to, but by then we were thinking how good a song it was. Stockholm Syndrome. This song is long enough to give that to you.

You know what? MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is kind of misleading. It’s very accurate in terms of the test itself and the visual aspect, but in my world “resonance” has a somewhat pleasant connotation and very specifically refers to sounds. Nowhere in the name of this test is implied the sound of a jackhammer, and really, it should be stated outright.

The other time I heard all of Freebird was working the Laughlin River Run with Milk and Genevieve when the new Skynyrd was headlining. We had a morning free so Genevieve and I went shopping at the flea market in the parking lot and picked up leather biker chick halter tops. I had to have Milk alter mine by shortening the halter a couple of inches with a piece of tie-line because it was made for someone with much bigger. . .attitude than me. We wore them for the gig and when we did the band changeover Genevieve and I got applause, which was sort of embarrassing, but sort of cool. Though I don’t remember hearing all of Freebird then either. I think I may have gone to the bathroom when they played it. Which is probably what the DJ is doing right now.

You always need a bathroom song when you’re a DJ, the song you can put on and have time to run down the hall to the bathroom and come back before it’s over. I worked on the high school radio station for two years. Our bathroom song was Metallica’s One (seven minutes, twenty-four seconds).

Why do I keep thinking about high school?

This is quite possibly the longest guitar solo ever in the history of guitar solos. This song has been playing for the majority of the time I have been in this jackhammer tube. Tapping? How did I not ever know there’s a tapping section in this solo? Oh right, because I never listen to this song all the way through. Because nobody listens to this song all the way through. I don’t have anything against the band. Given the choice, I could easily have picked three Syknyrd songs that I like in place of this one.

Three songs that would be over by now.

If I ever get out of here, I’m going to ask everyone if they’ve ever listened to this entire song on purpose. All the way through. I’m going to ask everybody if they understand that there’s a tapping section in the guitar solo. I bet nobody will believe me.

I hope I’ve been holding still enough.

I wonder what they’re going to find.

I wonder if I ever get buried alive, if I’m gonna have Freebird stuck in my head because of this. If I have a choice, I’m gonna pick something else. Like maybe all of 2112. 

When is the last time you listened to Freebird all the way through?

If you got to choose, what song would you pick to have stuck in your head if you got buried alive?

Hummingbird by beccapuglisi via WANA commons, Flickr
Hummingbird by beccapuglisi via WANA commons, Flickr

One Waitress Sunday

#3 got a job today. She officially starts training next week as a waitress.

#1 is already a waitress.

#2 has a job interview tomorrow for a potentially waitress-related position.

I used to be a waitress. Before I started pushing boxes and wrapping cables and making people louder, I served pancakes and eggs, meatloaf and midwestern spaghetti, and later, margaritas and fried ice cream. Waiting tables is hard work. Mainly because there are people involved.

I used to have these drowning waitress dreams. In my dreams, I would already be rushing around with five tables, and then the hostess would seat me a 20-top, a 7-top and an 11-top all at once. There weren’t enough menus. One of the tables would be upside down on the ceiling and I would have to climb a spiderweb to get up to it while pirates tried to unhook my fingers and kept trying to flip my tray. Each time someone ordered something I would go back to the kitchen only to find out we were out of it. Everyone needed separate checks at the last minute and there were six birthdays at six different tables, each one requiring that I make a labor-intensive free dessert with a complete absence of kitchen utensils, and then gather of as many coworkers as possible to sing the made-up Mexican birthday song.

I would wake from these dreams feeling like I worked all night instead of sleeping. I’d chase my hangover with a cigarette, the cigarette with a cup of double-strength coffee; I’d find a clean uniform shirt, spot-clean my apron, and put my SAS shoes on for another go-round.

There isn’t a single thing about this past life that I miss.

Every so often, even today, nearly twenty years later, I will still have a drowning waitress dream. Except now I will realize in my dream that this isn’t my job any more, and I untie my apron and walk out.

So given all the waitressing that is happening and is about to happen in my house, I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a useful piece of advice for the girls, and I think I finally have one:

Smile often, and pay attention to your tray.

Because at some point your tray WILL betray you. You are going to drop stuff. If you’re lucky, you’re only going to drop that entrée on the floor, the one that your customer has been waiting on for half an hour; if you’re unlucky you’re going to drop it ON your customer. A smile is your only defense at that point.

At the mexican place we served beer in these 23-ounce Pilsner glasses. I had a table of four who each ordered one. I served the first one to the lady, at which point the tray tipped and dumped all over her. Every. Ounce. That’s 69 ounces of beer, for those of you who are counting.

Will you believe me when I tell you that she had just come from the gym and had a change of clothes with her in a bag at the table, a bag that miraculously escaped the Beer Deluge? And that my manager comped them and they stayed and drank all night and left me a big tip?

I figured that was my allotment of waitress grace, and I should get out while I could. I quit shortly after that.

How about you- got any drowning ex-occupation stories? Any good waitress stories?

Here’s your picture: My mom’s entry for my Pi Day Pie contest. She didn’t win a damn thing.

My mom used to cook. She gave it up for Lent when I was 13.
My mom used to cook. She gave it up for Lent when I was 13.

Here are your links:

Continuing on with our waitress & other jobs theme, I first got introduced to the Ziggens when I worked a Glenn Campbell show. Glenn Campbell’s sound guy is the drummer for the punk-ish Ziggens and gave me a disc. I played it and fell in love, particularly with this song, which made such an impression on me that I never ask anyone in my family if they want scrambled or fried; I sing “How do you like yo’ eggs?“. Later I got to do monitors when the Ziggens opened up for Dick Dale, which ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite gigs. The Ziggens: The Waitress Song

What makes you ridiculously happy? Worth it for the mutant animal sculpture alone. 5 Bizarre Things…on Ironic Mom

I loved this one just from the title, but then there’s also this awesome sort of walking dead chicken picture. . .    I Spatchcocked A Rooster Eunuch on The Food and Wine Hedonist.

I’m lucky like this too: Doing Life Together and the Division of Labor on Scattered Smothered and Covered

Do you greet your loved ones when they come home? It matters. The Homecoming Dance on Spectator.

Happy Sunday.




The Things They Listened To

DSCF6934For opening night of my first paid musical theater gig, my sound designer gave me a pile of CD’s. Some of them I had heard him play over the system during tech rehearsals, some I had never heard of. Every one of them was amazing and none of them would I have ever found on my own. Cassandra Wilson, Duncan Sheik, John Zorn, Holly Cole. Coltrane, Fiona Apple, Elvis Costello, Jonathon Richman. Loudon Wainwright, Tom Waits.

I was in Arizona at the time, home of the greatest used music store on the planet. For the run of the show, and for the rest of the time that I lived there, I would go to Zia’s every Monday (my dark day) and spend a couple of hours digging around the bins. My classic rock and heavy metal roots branched out to classical, punk, minimalist, new age, cowpunk, classic country, and the downright strange.

Which is half the story of how I later found myself, at age 28, to own over four hundred CD’s and no bed. The other half of the story I’m not telling.

CC and I had a moment recently where we realized  our kids don’t have the experience of finding music that way. When CD’s first came out there used to be one store in the city that sold them, and he’d go in every day off and buy whatever came out that week. They were so new, so expensive, and there was so little available. It’s how he ended up with Israeli dance music in his collection.

Our kids don’t buy CD’s. There’s no store to go to anymore to find gems– you know, the things you missed when they were new and you were listening to something else. Our kids Spotify and listen to what their friends listen to. Fine for finding new popular music. But where do they go for unpopular music?

I haven’t Spotified yet. I play Pandora on the TV when I’m allowed control of the remote. But I love iTunes DJ on my laptop. It has an irony filter. Let’s face it, I’ve got a lot of music that I’m not going to actively seek out to listen to all the time. Before we left for Indiana on our Thanksgiving road trip, this was the playlist it selected for me:


It inspired me to set up the whole there & back’s worth of discs for our trip.

We started off at 5am with Jethro Tull’s Songs From The Wood. Went on to Chet Atkins, Gin Blossoms, My Chemical Romance, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Act I of Carmen. Right about there is when the kids could hold it in no longer. (It’s also when they were fully awake and out of donuts that hadn’t been squished).


Me: Carmen! Isn’t it awesome?


Me: Maybe you’ll like the other two discs better.

Them: OH GOD!

Me: Wait wait wait, the hook is coming up, hang on.

At which point they all started doing bad kid opera impressions and attempted to get the puggles involved.

I was unfazed. We finished the disc.

Next up was Prince (they knew Let’s Go Crazy and didn’t even notice Darling Nikki), Jonathon Richman (which #1 tried to skip over), Kiss (only #4 liked it), Public Enemy (“Oh My God, what IS this horrible music?”).

When I drove up from Indy to Chicago by myself to retrieve CC for Thanksgiving, I listened to Carmen in its entirety. I cranked it. I sang along, only slightly more in tune than the kids had been. It finished just as I hit full-on holiday rush hour on the loop and segued into Nevermind The Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Perfect timing.

On the way home from Indy to New Jersey, I made excellent time before the sun rose and they slept through Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9,  Elvis The Number One Hits, and Kate Bush’s Aerial– quite possibly the only album that might make you get fired up about doing housework. When they finally woke up, the complaining about my taste in music began again. Styx drew another “what IS this horrible music” from #4.

Shortly after we got home she came up to me excitedly, wanting to play a song for me that she just bought because she’d heard it on Guitar Hero. It was Renegade.

Me: Oh, I love that song! I have that album.

#4: You mean I just paid money to download a song that we already own?

Me: Yep. I played you the album when we went to Indiana and you were all, ‘what IS this horrible music?’, remember?

#4: I hate my life.

I’ve been working on getting all of the CD’s loaded onto the home computer so that we can have the shelf space back for books. I’m not even a quarter of the way done with it and I’m still having second thoughts about it. I haven’t actually gotten rid of anything yet, but stacked them in bins in the garage.

And I’ve discovered where my kids go to find their gems. Because in my house, nothing stays where you put it.

I got in the car that #1 uses last week and Heart’s Dreamboat Annie was blasting at a respectable volume for ten-year-old stock Mitsubishi speakers. Doing laundry, I heard the unmistakable sounds of Live’s Songs From Black Mountain coming through the walls of the music room. #2 has chosen their The Distance to Here as her driving soundtrack. I found a pile of discs that had migrated from the garage: Randy and the Bloody Lovelies, the Fratellis, Queensryche, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Guns N Roses. Not that long ago I heard Rush cranking in the bathroom.

Apparently, I’ve become the used record store for the next generation.