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Tag Archives: Five Minute Fridays

Five Minute Friday: We “belong”, we belong together

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

Go.

I write about music, among other entertainment, for a living, so these “Five Minute Friday” prompts often shake off some automatic lyrical connection in my brain (and believe me, there are a lot of ridiculous ’80s songs living there among the cobwebs).

So this week’s, “belong,” immediately made the Pandora in my brain start singing Pat Benatar’s “We Belong,” a now 30-year-old song that featured a children’s choir in white, shot in a gauzy light, as Pat sang about spiritual, physical and emotional connectedness while wearing a white head wrap and gloves with little holes in them. (Holes=spiritual openness.)

At 13, I imagined that was the ultimate love song, about connecting in ways you haven’t even considered, as if the whole rhythm of the earth and sky had prescribed your meeting, as if you existed in accordance with the beating of the clock. That was something I was looking for, I know. It was also very melodramatic, and 13-year-olds bathe in that stuff.

I always wanted to believe that existed, even in college, when a paranoid and sweetly misguided guy in my Christian fellowship group told me that he’d loved the song until he’d really examined the lyrics and decided it was New Agey and demonic and asked you to belong to the thunder.

He meant well, but that’s not what Pat was talking about. Actually, if I could go back to college I’d tell Steven (I think that was his name) that the song could actually be very Christian – We believe God created the night, the thunder and all the elements Pat sings about, as well as our desire to connect to Him and to each other. He gave us the desire to want to be with other people, as friends and lovers, in a way that echoes the way that he loves us, that’s so natural that it’s like the sound of the thunder.

I am glad to say I’ve found that with my husband person. Pat would be proud.

Stop.


Five Minute Friday: And then a “hero” comes along….

by SweetMidlife


Leslie here!

Go…

Years ago, in the midst of a fit of silliness, my sister and a friend half-composed a fake song called “The Smile In The Eyes Of A Child,” which was a likely Coldstone Creamery and caffeine-fueled parody of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and its cliched middle-school graduation/weepy puppy montage string-together of overwrought emotion and randomly rhyming or almost rhyming cliches – “When a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on/and you cast your fears aside/and you know you can survive…” ….sorry, Mariah, I fell asleep. What was that, again?

Anyway, sometimes I bring that up to people and they either laugh hysterically out of recognition of the forced importance, or they say, very quietly, “I really like that song. That was my graduation song/song I danced to my father with at my wedding/what my child was born to” and then I feel like a complete jerk and go “Umm..but it is pretty!” because there’s no way to get out of the giant foot in my mouth.

In moments like that I have to remember that there is no universal opinion about ANYTHING, and that in my cynicism, which in this case really was based in years of listening to bad writing that passes as sincerity and wanting to barf. you can miss the cues that are telling you that the people you’re talking to are entitled to like what they like, even when you don’t understand. And are appalled. I’ve had conversations about things that I really like, like “Parenthood” or Bryan Adams ballads from movies, that more serious people roll their eyes at or deem my “guilty” pleasures. Boo on that – I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because if I like something I’m gonna tell you. I don’t feel the need to qualify it through the filter of your snobbery. Life’s too short.

So go ahead and love that overwrought power ballad. If it moves you, then it’s done its job. And in a weird way, I’m glad it does even if it makes me roll my eyes, because that’s what art is: subjective. Your masterpiece is my cringe moment.

Love ya, Mariah!

Stop.


Five Minute Friday: Visiting home, and having home visit

by SweetMidlife

I no longer feel like a visitor in my own home.

Leslie here! Our word for the day is “Visit.” Here goes!

Go.

I am a transplant in South Florida, a place that is often said to have no natives, which is dumb and arrogant on the part of the transplants, because somebody’s getting born in those hospitals. Anyway, I’m often asked “Where are you from?” with the assumption that I am originally from somewhere else. And I am a native Baltimorean by way of Pennsylvania. For years that was my identity, to the point where even though my mail was delivered here, I still referred to Baltimore as “home,” though I hadn’t lived there since 1992. I felt lighter there, more comfortable. I felt like I was at home on my visits, and visiting in Florida, which was technically my home.

But a funny thing happened about five years ago – I fell in love with a man who was from home, from my high school, who also felt like a visitor in the state where he’d lived off and on for a decade. But we found more than a person to kiss and share a mortgage with. We found our home. And suddenly, this place where we were living felt like home. Our friends and family were secretly hoping that, having fallen in love, we would move back to Maryland and finally be home. The weird thing was – we each fell in love with a Baltimorean and finally felt like Floridians. We were no longer visiting in this space. We belonged.

I still don’t get how Floridians drive. But I guess I am one now, no longer a visitor in my home. So it’s sort of OK.

Stop.


Five Minute Fridays: “See”ing through rain, princely husbands and the kindness of karaoke-singing strangers

by SweetMidlife

 

Leslie here!

This is a story about seeing, or not being able to. It’s a story about frightening pop-up storms, flash flooding and the very real fear that you might not be able to get home through them. It is also a story about friendly ports in a storm, the kindness of karaoke-singing strangers, the comfort that is Steve Perry and the lengths a husband will go to to make sure his wife gets home safe.

It’s about last night, when a girl’s night out with a friend was interrupted by a call from the Husband, saying that the scary unseasonable rains that had drenched the Florida afternoon were returning. So I hopped in the car and headed home for what should have been a 20 minute drive. Ha ha. Should’ve been. The skies opened up, not just with rain, but with wind, the kind that blows buckets of wetness vertical, across your windshield faster than your wipers can brush them away. And then the rain settled into a roiling funnel on flooded streets. At night. I couldn’t see past my windshield wipers, and I was briefly very nervous about making it home soon – or, for one hideous moment – at all.

“Encourage my soul, and let us journey on, though the night is dark and I am far from home,” I sang, trying to be louder than my pounding heart, pulling over first in a sketchy gas station parking lot, then at a 24-hour Walgreens lot for about 45 minutes, texting my husband as I went. Then, a block later, as traffic lights ahead blinked mournfully, I gave up and pulled over into what I hoped was a real space at a local haunt we like – BECAUSE I COULDN’T SEE THE GROUND.

So I sat there for ten minutes, waiting for a let-up in the rain that never came. Oh, God…what to do? And then through the deluge I could just make out…a karaoke singer! Wait, it’s Thursday! Karaoke night! I hopped out, running slo-mo through ankle-deep waters that soaked my long skirt, and just kinda stood there happy to be dry. And 30 seconds later I heard my name, because Alex the karaoke guy could tell I was stranded and really needed to sing some Journey.

And as I waited for another two hours for a way home, for the crazy squall to stop, for maybe a lift from a kindly patron, I saw not only an increasingly relentless storm outside but a community of equally stranded, in some cases a little drinkard skunkard, folks inside trying to pass the time out of the wetness, to share a song and a smile. A few even offered to drive me home, as soon as they could, you know, drive. And then, my husband called to say that he was coming to get me, even though he was home asleep safe and dry, because “You’re my wife! What was I do? Leave you there?” And it took him 35 minutes to drive a couple of miles, and he lost visibility a few times. But he came to get me, because he’s awesome that way.

And for the first time that night I saw through the storm. And it was beautiful.


Five Minute Friday: Fly

by SweetMidlife


Leslie here!

Go!

“Ain’t no talking to this man

He’s been trying to tell me so”

About 12 years ago I sat at a Denny’s and repeated those lines from Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly” to the man who had been trying to, at first subtly, and then with yawning silence, that he didn’t want to see me anymore. It wasn’t so much of a breakup as an acknowledgement that he had mentally and emotionally packed up and moved to Timbuktu. I has summoned him to the aforementioned Denny’s to make him tell me that in person. Maybe I thought he owed it to me, that this thing that I had made to be more in my mind, and that he, realizing that, had allowed to grow in a half-life of simultaneous encouragement and silence, because he didn’t want to be the bad guy.

When I look back though, I know that it’s my fault, too, because as a certified owner of the big girl pants, I should have known. I shouldn’t have needed the words. I mean, they’re nice. But I should have been adult enough to accept what wasn’t there, to let him and this idea that this, at last, was my happy ever after, fly.

How many other things in my life – in your life – are just waiting to fly away, to be let go and released, except you’re holding them to you for whatever reason? There’s that novel I need to finish. That weight I need to lose. My fear of what happens when the newspaper industry keeps chewing away at itself? What’s stopping me? Here’s what Patty has to say about it

“Took a while to understand

the beauty of just letting go

It would take an acrobat

And I’ve already tried all that

So I’m gonna let him fly.”

Let it go. Let it fly. You can’t fly yourself if you’re busy stopping the inevitable. There’s something better your wings were made for.

Stop.


Five minute Fridays: Together

by SweetMidlife


Leslie here! Go…

“Let’s get together, yeah, yeah, yeah/why don’t you and me com-bi-ine?”

“The Parent Trap,” from which that groovy, if lyrically uncomplicated lyric is taken, has a love/hate place in my heart, as I’m sure it might for many twins of a certain age – and I’m referring to the 1961 original and not the 1990s Lohan remake, which was cute but not what I’m talking about.

The story of a set of identical twins separated at birth by their divorcing parents, spending their lives unaware of each other’s existence until accidentally meeting at summer camp, might be cuter to those who think of twins as some mythical pixie plot point. I could never be that casual about it – my twin, best friend and blogging partner is a part of my soul, and the idea that these parents were so selfish and cruel that they split these girls like a set of luggage made me insane. Who does that? I mean, people do. But I don’t like these people. This isn’t a heart-warming family movie. It’s a trip to family therapy.

What I do like is the scene with that silly little song, where the twins are spliced together in a scene meant to suspend disbelief in the obvious fact that actress Hayley Mills was playing both .of them – ’60s movies magic was adorable. I like the idea that these girls, who had no idea that they had a sister, let alone a twin, wanted to get their family together, not just their estranged parents,  but themselves. They were jamming on being reunited, on finally knowing themselves – their whole selves. The parents didn’t get my sympathy much. But the girls sure did.

To-ge-ther!!

Stop.


Five minute Fridays: Worship

by SweetMidlife


 

Leslie here!

Go:

“I will give you all my worship/I will give you all my days/You alone I long to worship/You alone are worthy of my praise”

I used to be on a worship team, both in York, Pa, where I used to live a decade ago, and briefly for some young adult ministry stuff here in Florida. It’s been a while. I miss it, but I just got out of it after a while. But the lyrics above are a song we used to sing.

Anyway, I love to sing, and I loved singing about my faith. I did not like the part of it that became a chore – the scheduling, the having to be “on” all the time, the aspect that took it from my own personal expression to a performance for other people.

Lynne, my sister, and I have had discussions about how she, as a former staff member of a church, had to fight against giving all of her time to working at the church and not being there to worship, to be fed spiritually. Worship doesn’t just come on a team, or on stage, or on a pulpit. It also comes sitting in the pews, catching the spirit, waving your hands, even listening to praise music in your car and raising your palms when you are at a light.

The quiet moments are the ones where I really feel like I am at worship, even more than when I was under the lights on the stage. I had many pure moments of praise there as well, don’t worry. But sometimes by myself, when it’s just me and God…those are the moments where the whisper becomes a shout, back and forth between us.

Stop.


Five Minute Fridays: Story

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

Go:

Here’s the story of a girl named Leslie, who was doing some probably naughty thing

As a punishment she stood in the corner

To then reflect on things

Here’s the story of some old wallpaper

with forests, trees and paths that led away

Leslie stared at them and then made up stories

That wiled the time away

Until one day that small girl became a writer

and she knew that it was much more than a clue

That the seeds had started in that corner

Ain’t it funny what imagination do?

Don’t pay a bunch

but buys her lunch

Sometimes whole careers can come through in a crunch

Stop


Five Minute Friday on a Saturday: Belong

by SweetMidlife

This is our weekly entry into 5-Minute Friday, an online writing community where you are given a one-word prompt, then write on it for 5 minutes without stopping or editing. Below is my thoughts on the word “belong”. Note that I do allude to sex. But I hope that’s okay. Rock on – Lynne

The morning after my wedding, I looked at my husband, and I felt this strong sense of peace. I had waited until my wedding night to lose my virginity, so I, until the day before, had been the 39 year-old virgin. Waking up with a dude next to me was a new experience. Giddy. Kinda funny. But peaceful. Not weird or disconcerting. But peaceful. Like I was in the right place. Which was good, because we had reservations at that Bed and Breakfast for like 5 days. But anyway, I felt like I had never belonged anywhere else more than my life. I knew that I had, God willing, many more nights ahead of me of waking up next to this man, and I knew that some of those mornings were going to be after days of happiness and harmony, while some of them were going to be after nights of annoyance and disagreement, and of days when we kinda just put up with each other. But that doesn’t make the mornings any less sweet, as mornings bring new chances, new horizons, new reasons to remember why you are together in the first place. To remember why you belong together. 


Five Minute Fridays: Listen

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

Go…

When the “Dreamgirls” movie was released, it included a new song by Beyonce called “Listen.” At first I kind of rolled my eyes at it because I could just hear a whole generation of tiny “American Idol” and pageant children trying to recreate Queen B’s attitude, but without either talent or an understanding of what they’re singing about other than “Listen…to the song at the top of my lungs.”

Lynne and I often watch singing shows together and notice that the singers clearly have no idea what the lyrics they’re singing mean. Our motto is “Words mean things” which signals that you shouldn’t be smiling while you’re singing a sad song, or look like the bronze winner in the Diva Vamping Olympics when you’re singing a sweet love song. And that’s annoying. And “Listen” has lyrics worth, well, listening to. It’s a declaration of independence, of waking up and realizing that the person you are with has taken away your voice, your comfort within yourself, and that you are taking it back. It is not a song for a little girl, or a puppet, as Deena, the character Beyonce played in the movie was seen by her husband, the evil Curtis (Jamie Foxx.)

It’s the kind of song you can only sing when you’ve gone through something and come out, surprised, scarred but alive and resolute, on the other side. It’s a song about not only telling the other person to listen to you, and to recognize, but about learning to listen to yourself.

And to own what you’re hearing.

That’s worth singing about.

Stop.


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