Category Archives: Ponderings

How Young Is Too Young? And Am I Setting My Kids Up For Social Suicide?

A friend shared with me her shock and dismay that her niece had an Instagram account. First of all, her niece was constantly on her phone, fingers in motion. Second, the child’s mother spent the weekend saying things like “Ohhh, such a cute shot. You should send that out!” and “Six more followers! Good job!” Third, my friend’s daughter was now begging for an account because all the cool kids had one.

And last, her niece is 10 years old.

Ten.

As in, one and a zero.

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So, I ask. Why does a 10 year old need a phone? Why is her mother so concerned about the number of followers her daughter has? And are my kids uncool because they don’t even have a phone yet?

Social media is difficult enough for an adult to navigate, and I’m talking about the emotional aspects, not the mechanics. Cyber bullying is now addressed in high schools and middle schools. Must we address it in elementary schools, as well?

Of course we must. But that doesn’t mean I want to.

I don’t see the need for my child to have a phone just yet. Knowing what I know about the dangers of the world and how close our technology can connect my child to these dangers is not appealing. Call me a worrywart. Call me over-protective. I don’t care.

My children are at an age when I am having to address this issue and I don’t want to. I want to keep my kids young and innocent and pure. I want their phone conversations to be supervised by a long cord tethered to the phone in the middle of a common area, oh say, like a kitchen. I want to know who is calling and at what time. You know, like it was when we were kids.

I’m struggling.

How young is too young?

Am I setting my kids up for social suicide because I want to prolong their innocence?

What do you think? And how are you handling this tricky, yet common, new century conundrum?

 

10 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Motherhood, parenting, Ponderings

The Weather Channel. Or The Guys Who Cry Wolf. Weekly.

The Weather Channel is responsible for my anxiety and I’m ticked.

The Storm of the Century of the Week.

I can’t take it anymore. And it’s only January.

I live in the part of the country where snowfall is occasional. Once or twice a year. Ice storms are more probable. When the weather calls for rain during freezing temps everyone is set into a panic. Hence, the picture I posted a few years ago:

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They sent us into a panic last week. They did it again last night. And this time, they closed schools for today.

Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying this impromptu “snow” day with my kids. Games, cookie baking and even out to lunch with friends. Because as it stands, we’ve yet to see any of the Storm of the Century of the Week.

What I don’t enjoy are the stern-faced-alarming-voiced-weatherpeople breaking into my favorite television program showing us the latest radar map with predictions that rarely come true. I’m learning that weather is unpredictable and man cannot control the outcome no matter how hard our meteorologists try.

Oh sure, they’d love to see us covered in ice, trucks swirling off the roads into ditches, icicles dripping off trees and power lines. It all makes for great television. It’s what they live for.

What they really need to do is swallow a chill pill and take the wait and see approach.

But instead, it’s another Storm of the Century of the Week.

Which is named, Winter Storm Khan.

Yes. You heard right. They are now naming winter storms.

Hurricanes, I get. Even tropical storms.

But snow? We’re going to start naming a bunch of snowflakes and ice?

What’s next? Naming every bout of rainfall and thunderstorm that we have?

Hurricanes are devastating and cruel. They wreck havoc like no other. And I admit, so can snow and ice storms. But typically, not in the same way. With a hurricane comes devastating flooding, water damage that takes months to fix. The vast majority of areas that are attacked by snow storms like Khan are prepared. They have snow plows and salt trucks, snow tires and hot chocolate aplenty.

So what’s up with naming a little snow storm? Are meteorologists that bored with their jobs? Do they feel put out when the main newscasters steal their thunder, reporting on the storm before their paltry little 5 minutes at the end of the news hour? Or is The Weather Channel striving to be relevant by pumping up a storm and it’s potential for damage?

Pretty soon, we’re going to be calling The Weather Channel the guys who cry wolf. Weekly.

And when we need to race to the store to clear the shelves of milk and bread?

We won’t be listening.

On a side note, I must admit, Khan is an awfully great name for a snow storm. But won’t they be sorry when this storm passes and they wasted “Khan” when they could have saved it for when Storm Nemo comes along?

Poor Nemo. That cute little guy doesn’t look menacing at all. 

finding-nemo-wallpaper-036-1024

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Filed under I'm Baffled (And Because I Love The Word Baffled), Ponderings

I Want To Live In A Fairy Tale World. A World Where People Won’t Steal My Flip Flops.

Have you seen my flops?

My favorite pair of knock-around flip flops went missing.

I’d like to think I misplaced them. (Nope.)

Or that some husband mistakenly grabbed the wrong pair for his wife. (Doubtful.)

Or maybe the call of the surf was too powerful and my beloved pair of Nike flip-flops just had to test the waters. (I may live in a fairy tale world but even I know that flops don’t walk off by themselves.)

…..

We were eager to get on the beach. It was early in the morning on our very first day. The boys were hopping like jumping beans.

“Let’s go take a walk on the beach! Can we? Can we put on our suits? Please?”

We shoveled breakfast down. We threw on our suits. I grabbed a couple towels and we started downstairs. On the wooden path, over the dunes, other early morning beach-goers had left their sandals.

“Should we just leave our shoes here?” my husband said, doubtfully.

“Sure,” I said, “They’ll be fine. And if anyone needs our shoes that badly. Fine. They can have ‘em.”

Of course I was kidding. We were staying at a fancy condo. Cars nicer than ours in every other parking spot. Security in the lobby. Gated entry. Anyone that could afford a condo here could afford a pair of flip flops.

We frolicked in the surf. We played in the sand. Everyone wanted to stay for the day. We rented a couple beach loungers and a sturdy umbrella and I headed upstairs to pack us lunch.

Back to the wooden sidewalk. Slip on my flops. Up to the condo. Pack sandwiches, grapes, Chex Mix, drinks. Back downstairs. To the wooden sidewalk. Slip off flops. Head to our shady oasis.

“Mom? Did you pack cherries?” and “Honey, I need to reapply sunscreen.” and “Mom, I have to pee.”

So, back to the wooden sidewalk. #2son and I slip on flops. Up to the condo. Pee. Grab cherries, sunscreen, more water and cookies. Back downstairs. To the wooden sidewalk. Slip off flops. Head to our shady oasis.

Enjoy the sun, the sand and the surf for a blissful 2 more hours. But now, we’re a bit tired. And showers must be had before dinner.

So, back to the wooden sidewalk. Slip on flops.

Wait. One pair. Two pair. Three pair….

“Where are my flops?”

Gone. Conspicuously absent. All other flops are coupled with their families. Our family is the only one with an empty spot. My spot. My beloved pair of Nike flops are gone.

I pouted. I acknowledged the irony. And I tried to get over it.

That night, shopping for souvenirs after dinner my husband said, “Don’t you really like this brand?” and he pointed to this adorable pair….

“Yes, I love my other pair.” (Sanuk yoga mat flip flops. If you haven’t tried them you are missing the ultimate in summer comfort!)

“Well, why don’t you get them? They’re brown just like the pair that went missing.”  (I love this man!)

So, I did. I replaced the stolen pair with a worthy substitute.

But I was still sad. Still melancholy. And I wondered why.

It wasn’t because I was so attached to the Nike pair. I liked them, sure. But I was over it.

I was sad because it was that icky moment when you realize you live in a world with people who don’t share your same values. Logically, I get it. But this time, I felt it.

And I was wondering how another person could walk up to the row of sandals, glance down and spy a pair they liked, slip them on even though they belonged to someone else and then walk away. Oh yeah, and then sleep like a baby that night. And every night after that.

How?

I don’t want to live with people like that.

I want to live in a place where I can leave my lovingly worn sandals on the wooden boardwalk while I play in the waves and then find them when I need to wear them back up to the condo.

A  fairy tale world?

Sigh.

I guess so.

8 Comments

Filed under Lessons Learned, Ponderings

To You, Dear Readers. Thanks For Helping Me Deal.

Your outpouring of support for my last post (The Life And Times of Six-Year-Old Jane) has touched me so. Especially when I’ve been such a horrible reciprocating blogger of late. I’m going through some (not serious) health issues that have me pre-occupied. All is well. I will be ok. Just extra distracted, scattered and annoyed with the struggles.

I’m great at putting emotions or moments I’d rather forget in a drawer and never thinking about them again. Or, brushing things aside and saying, “I’ll get to that later.” When my husband and I have had an argument and much later he says, “Remember when we disagreed about….” I can actually feel the memory of that uncomfortable moment start to show his (because bad memories are always male, right?) ugly head. I’ll stop my husband in mid-sentence and say, “No! I don’t want to remember. Let’s just move on.” Yes, I’m the one with her fingers in her ears singing “La, la, la, la,la,  la!”  

But I’m learning that you can’t truly move on unless you’ve dealt with it head on.

When Dawn and Tori inspired me to write a post, tongue-in-cheek, about a 6-year-old memoir, I thought, “Ooooo. This will be fun.”

It wasn’t.

It reminded me of things I had stuffed.  Things I hadn’t dealt with. Things I’d rather forget. And I chose not to write about the heavy, heavy stuff. Too painful.

I cried a bit, writing what little I wrote. I miss that little girl. She was cute and always smiling. She loved music and listening to baseball games on her stuffed Tiger with the transistor radio tucked inside.(Remember those?) And she just wanted hugs, approval and love.

Don’t get me wrong. My parents did the best they could with what parenting talents God gave them. And I have many happy memories. But most of those happy memories don’t involve my parents. I think that’s why I am so hell-bent on creating happy memories with my own children.

I have a soft-spot for children who are ignored or forgotten. I suppose we all do. But I have always gravitated toward charities, causes, and professions that could help those children. When I dabbled in foster care and had those two beautiful girls in my home it was the most rewarding and emotionally draining year of my life. I’ve thought about becoming a child advocate volunteer many times. But I always stop short, knowing that I may have to open a cupboard or two and deal with a few of my own demons.

And at for-sen-sumpin years old, I’m still not ready.

Baby steps.

Tiny baby steps.

Thanks for pushing me along.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Observations, Ponderings

69 Is The Title Of My Commencement Address

(To celebrate her high school graduation, my daughter and I are on a little hiatus together. A mother/daughter hiatus. I will be posting some of my favorite posts in the interim. Enjoy!)

Sixty-nine.

Are you giggling? Are you shifting in your seat uncomfortably? Are you looking around, wondering why some of your fellow graduates are twittering?

A private, or not-so-private joke. In the classroom, whenever I’d say “Turn to page 69″ or “The answer is 69″ giggles always erupted. I’d nod, or smile feebly and say, with a twinge of sarcasm, “Yes, that’s a new one on me! You got me there!”

But that didn’t matter. You still thought you were the first class to laugh. You still thought you were the first to get the joke. You still thought I had no idea what you were giggling about.

And here we are, on your graduation day.

Giggling about sixty-nine.

Why is the Year of the Four Emperors so funny? 69 AD. The year that Galba, Otho, Vitellius and finally Vespasian ruled the Roman Empire after Nero’s suicide. A time of great turmoil, anarchy and unrest.

Sixty-nine. The atomic number of Thulium. A rare metal. Used for radiation.

Psalm 69. “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait.” How many of you felt waiting for exam grades to be posted.

Jared Allen. Jersey number 69. Defensive End for the Minnesota Vikings.

69%. Just under a passing grade at many schools.

Rotate this amazing number 180 degrees and it’s still 69.

So many ways to view a simple number. A year. A jersey number. A prayer.

My view. Your view. The person-next-to-you’s view. As individual and unique as a fingerprint.

You were all taught the same material. You all studied the same things. But you each took away from it something that is unique to you and your experiences. After learning it, you each applied it in different ways. Some created advantage with the material. Some disregarded it. And others let it get the best of them.

You will leave this institution and go on to do other things. Notice that I didn’t say “better” things. Because some of you won’t. Some of you will choose not to use the tools provided. You will rest on your laurels and wonder why the guy next to you has it so good. You will sit back and view life in a limited way.

The choice is yours. You can choose to do great things. You can choose to better yourself and your surroundings. You can choose to view things differently. You can choose to create good in your life.

It’s all in the way you look at things.

If you take away one thing from your educational experience let it be the ability to look at things in a new way. A better way. A more enlightened way.

A glyph for the zodiac sign of Cancer. A percentage. ’69 – The year of Woodstock.

Now when you hear the number 69 it will have more than one definition for you. You will be reminded to view things from a different angle. You might challenge yourself to discover more definitions for the number 69.

And you might giggle. Because you know something the next guy doesn’t.

It can be our private joke.

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Filed under Ponderings

And Then There’s The Television Series That Goes Down In Flames

I have many guilty pleasures. Many. Television is one of them.

Before you criticize my viewing habits, please know that I read. Real books. And not of the Harlequin romance variety. I enjoy the opera and the theater, too. I dabble in writing. I swim. I practice yoga. So you could say I’m comfortably well-rounded.

On the telly, I watch a little bit of everything. Drama, comedy, reality. The History Channel. The Weather Channel (but who doesn’t?).

And yes, I watch (don’t laugh) Big Love.

It’s the final season of the series. So the writers are pulling out all the stops. With every single unimaginable scenario imaginable.

I hate that.

But, I watch. Reluctantly. Because I’m hooked on the characters and I want to see the directions they take. But it gets to the point that I don’t care anymore. And I’m almost glad that I’m going to get an hour of my life back each week.

Yep.

I think the writers do it on purpose so you don’t miss the show too much when it’s finally gone.

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Filed under Ponderings, television

Money Makes The World Go ‘Round

Money makes the world go ’round. Or does it? And if it does, why can’t we talk about it?

My parents, when times were tough, were horrible with money. I found out, only recently, that they almost lost their home – not once, but twice – when I was a small child.

When I was very young we lived very simply, very frugally. I remember sharing a bedroom with my three other sisters and my parents sleeping on the pull-out couch in the den. We ate every kind of noodle and rice casserole to stretch the dollar. We walked instead of starting up the car. (But then, we lived in a neighborhood where we could actually walk to the market and drugstore.)

My father worked hard at a job that he loved. He worked hard at a job that he hated once new management took over. Bottom line, he worked very hard for the things that we had. And by the time I was a middle school student, we were doing very well. Really well. Designer clothes, high-end restaurant meals, a large beautiful home decorated by professionals, new cars. Money was flowing and my parents were no longer poor money managers.

Me? I’m the exact opposite. My chosen profession was education. I loved teaching. I loved it so much that I passed up the opportunity to earn a higher salary in the public school system where I felt my creativity would be squashed. I taught for a much lower salary at a small private school.

With my low salary and as a single parent, I was just above the poverty line. In fact, if the car I drove was a few years older, I would have qualified for food stamps. But I was happy. I had minimal debt. I was a good money manager. We were getting by.

Life circumstances changed and now there is more money to manage. Unlike my parents, when the money is flowing, I am a terrible money manager. I allow myself to get lulled into a false sense of security. Because I know the money is flowing, I use the credit card more often. I buy things I don’t need. I spend before I think.

Anything I’ve learned about money I’ve had to read in books or listen to money experts on TV or radio. What they talk about is so foreign to me. Putting into practice what they preach is difficult.

My parental model has flaws. My parents never spoke about money with me. They bought. They spent. And I never saw the consequences. When I was 16 they gave me a department store credit card. In my name. I’ll never forget when the first bill came and I freaked out because I couldn’t pay the balance. They laughed at my distress and told me they’d cover it. I cut up the card and told them I didn’t want it anymore. I couldn’t handle the responsibility.

I also vowed I would teach my kids about money. With my daughter, I’m not sure I did any better than my parents. I’ve tried one theory and the next, but she’s a spender. A generous, kind, loving spender. When money is flowing, she buys for herself and for the ones she loves. She had her first real job this past year and at Christmas she was so excited to be able to buy “real gifts” (her words) for her family and friends.

But she’s had the job for 5 months now and has yet to save a dime.

How can I stop this cycle with my sons? Which money theory is the best one? Some say you shouldn’t pay your kids to do household chores. They are part of a family and chores are part of being a family member. Others say if your child doesn’t do their chores, they don’t get paid. Just like the real world. But both theories make sense to me. What’s a poor money manager to do?

I wish my parents had been more open about their mistakes and their successes. I have no idea how my parents became “successful” with their money decisions. They just did. One day we were poor, the next day we were very, very comfortable. (See? I can’t even say the word wealthy.)

Ugh.

My money issues are just too big for this blog.

So I’ll do what I do best. I’ll bury my head in the sand and distract myself with a little humor.

You can, too, if you’d like. Just press play.

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Filed under children, Growing Up, parenting, Ponderings

Coffee Talk With Jane: Proposition 19. Should Every State Consider Legalizing Marijuana?

Never one to shy away from controversial topics I’m suggesting we talk about Proposition 19. Next week, the voters in California will be sharing their view on whether or not marijuana should be legalized. I’m curious how you feel about the topic.

Me? I’m conflicted. For one thing, I’ve never tried pot. Ever. It’s not a moral thing for me. Just the thought of smoking anything makes my chest feel heavy and sends a cough to my throat.

I’m also afraid of anything that might alter my conscious state.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a pina colada on the beach once in a while. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had too much to drink (of alcohol, that is). It frightened me all three times. I’ve witnessed too much addiction in my life to take a chance with my own inadequacies in that department.

That said, I have no issues with anyone who wants to imbibe. Alcohol or marijuana. As long as it doesn’t affect me – drunk driving, puking on my rug, eating the last bag of Lay’s Potato Chips – go ahead, enjoy! Just don’t get behind the wheel of a car. Wait to get sick in your own home. Pay for your own groceries.

But my brother-in-law (a member of Federal Law Enforcement who has worked with Customs and DEA) is vehemently against legalizing marijuana in any form. He views marijuana as a gateway drug.

The former police chief in San Jose, Joseph McNamara, disagrees.

After 35 years in law enforcement, he feels our focus on criminalizing the use of pot is misguided. He likens it to the days of prohibition, when Al Capone ruled the black market. Once alcohol was legalized, Al Capone was put out of business.

The Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, has been outspoken in his stance against legalizing pot in the United States. He feels Proposition 19 “shows hypocrisy in U.S. drug policy.” The U.S. is asking him to crack down on drug cartels, meanwhile we’re legalizing the very drug he is trying to stop production and distribution.

I’m confused. Conflicted.

I’m getting all verklempt.

I’ve already given you the topic.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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Filed under Coffee Talk, Ponderings, Soapbox

To Flu Shot Or Not To Flu Shot – THAT is the Question

I go through this. Every. Single. Year.

To the point that my friends start hiding from me and won’t return my phone calls from October to January. This year, advertisements for the flu shots started popping up in August. I recognized my friend’s weary glances right away.

But you, dear readers, have never been exposed to my paranoia around this time of year. You are a fresh new audience.

Welcome.

First, let’s say I am cautious about vaccines. I get them. I have my children get them. But we spread them out. Way out. During my children’s first years of life, we were in the doctor’s office about every other month just getting vaccines. I appreciate the value of a vaccines but I don’t want to overwhelm a body’s delicate system.

There are some vaccines I skip. When the chicken pox vaccine first came out I let my daughter get those delightful, itchy spots the good old-fashioned way. But my boys? Too many people were getting the vaccine by then. I was risking that without the vaccine they may contract chicken pox in adulthood when it is far more dangerous. So they received the chicken pox vaccine.

Then comes H1N1. Oh. My. God. I had no friends during that time. Not during flu season, anyway. I bored them ad nauseum with facts. I deliberated. I asked strangers on the street what they thought.

Last year, my kids each got the first dose of the vaccine and then #1son had a horrible reaction. Or, so we thought. (Later, the CDC – or whatever lab they sent the results to – deemed that it was a coincidental reaction to something unknown) The kids never received the subsequent doses and we were fine last season.

Except for last year, we never get the vaccine. We’re a typical, healthy family who enjoy the typical amount of colds each season. I’d venture to say a little less than the typical amount.

But every single year I worry that I’ve made the wrong decision.

My husband, who practices Chinese Medicine, is absolutely no help at all. Chinese Medicine believes in letting the body build its own immunities. When we first had kids, he was adamantly against any vaccine. I was adamantly for. We battled. It came to such a head that I planned on sneaking the kids to the doctor and never telling him. Luckily, we came to an agreement we both could live with after a wonderful talk with our amazing Western Medicine pediatrician who values my husband’s expertise.

But during flu season? He’s no help. He laughs at me whenever I ask a question, reminding me of what he thinks of the flu shot industry. Every time we pass a sign advertising flu shots (at a drug store, grocery store, the library, in the airport – God, they’re everywhere!) he gives me a sideways glance, just waiting for my barrage of questions.

In an advertisement for flu shots on the radio this morning they reminded all of us fearful listeners out there that the CDC has recommended that everyone should receive the flu shot this season.

Everyone.

Is this advertising? Is this a twist of a study just to create fear and make money for the store/pharmaceutical companies? Or should every typically healthy person out there get the flu shot?

I hate this time of year.

Hate it.

And I know what I’ll do. I’ll choose to skip the vaccine for all of us. And then sit on pins and needles until spring, worrying that I made the wrong decision.

Sigh.

So I’ll just take this opportunity to say goodbye to all my dear friends here in the real world. See you next spring.

Blog friends?

Anyone?

Will you keep me company until then?

33 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Moms, Motherhood, parenting, Ponderings

Elevatin’ To Another Level – Not Higher, Just Different

I always wanted to be the party girl.

No. Scratch that.

I always wanted to be included.

But I wasn’t.

In high school, the guy I had a major crush on, and who I thought had a major crush on me, went to see Rush perform at the local university without me. I was disappointed and I asked him about it. He said, “I didn’t think you were the type.”

What type is that? Sure, I didn’t smoke pot. Yes, I was the one nursing a beer all night long, pouring sips down the sink when no one was looking so it would look like I was finishing my drink at an appropriate pace. I suppose he and his friends didn’t want me tagging along, judging their smoking and drinking and having a good time. But I didn’t judge. Not really. It just wasn’t for me. I still enjoyed their company. I still wanted to be included. And while we did a lot of things together, I still didn’t feel like I belonged.

That group I so desperately wanted to feel a part of was brilliant. I mean it. All were in Advanced Placement classes. One (my crush) went to MIT on full scholarship (but then got kicked out for dealing drugs.) One went to Berklee and his girlfriend went to Juilliard (she dropped out to become a psychologist.)  Another was in med school when he died of a brain aneurysm. His dad was a surgeon who demanded an explanation and rumor has it, a full autopsy revealed that it was from prior drug use. How they determined this, I don’t know – it is rumor, after all. Maybe it was to scare us straight. Maybe the family wanted to cling to something because Tony had been clean for years.

They were bright. They were funny. They were wild.

And I wasn’t.

Enter college, and I was married by the time I was 21. Still finishing college. But now I was an old married lady. Fellow students wanted to go out and celebrate after a big test but I had a husband to get home to. Pull an all-nighter with a co-ed study group? Too awkward with my husband at home who had work in the morning. With all the detours in my life – changing majors, schools, getting married – it took a little longer for me to finish college. My peers were only a little younger than me but they looked up to me, like some wise sage. Oh, the difference a few years makes when you’re young.

They were bright. They were fun. They were free.

And I wasn’t.

I had my first child when I was 29. Two more when I turned 40. That ten-year span puts me at odds again. The parents of my daughter’s friends are exploring new hobbies, going on more vacations, spending more time out with friends, experiencing freedom again. But we still have two small boys at home. Having a blast with them (with less energy than their friend’s parents) we’re a little more tied to the home front, still acutely aware of how much raising children costs, getting to bed early even on the weekends. The parents of our boys’ friends are the ages of my former high school students. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but there is something to be said for those 10 years of life experiences.

They’re still interesting. They share in parenting joys and frustrations. But every once in a while, a comment will reveal that they’re still green.

And I’m not.

The paths I have chosen have always kept me out of the loop. I’ve never quite felt as if I belonged anywhere, really. And those choices have kept me from being included in things. Parties. Concerts. Study sessions. Play groups.

The odd one out.

Most of the time, I’m OK with that. Most of the time.

But some days, it’s lonely.

I’d like to think that, all my life, I’ve just been on a different plane, a different level.

Not higher, just different.

And some days, it sure would be nice to be dancing with everyone else – at the same concert, at the same party, on the same level.

28 Comments

Filed under Music, Ponderings