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I've posted a lot lately because times they are a changing here.  I've accepted a new position, and I will be giving up my self-employed dad on the run gig for a very large salary, benefits and the like..    I've had it both ways in my life.  And I've enjoyed every minute of both.

We've had some real pie wars here, but after a few diaries this morning, I realized that part of what's going on is that there isn't enough singing and dancing.   There's far too much pissing and moaning.   We worry about STEM Jobs and how much money we're making.. and we aren't worrying enough about how much we're getting out of life.

Stop and smell the roses people!   These songs played key moments in my life - how about you?

Jr High/High School

I was afraid of going to school on a daily basis.   I sat at home and cried one day.   Teachers were happy to let me work from home, my grades and scores were too important to really "run me off".   But I needed a change of scenery.   My parents - who to me are two of the greatest heroes I have ever known in my life - took me out for a day.    My mother and father - huge music fans, and yes, religious and conservative - pulled me aside and said: we're going to change everything.

We sat at home that day and baked our brains out (And for Clarification, I mean Candy & Cake.. my mother was an amazing cook, and we made at least 3 cakes, a set of brownies and homemade peanut butter fudge) - and when American Tune came on, my mother belted it out like meant it.. "And I dreamed I was flying..."    

The next day, we filed paperwork to allow me to attend a school 22 miles away, out of district, and my parents offered me a car to make the drive.  


When it was time to get ready for university life, it was pretty daunting.   Even with great test scores, tons of acceptance letters.. moving from a population 700 community to a city was at times, scary.  

It was the chance to change things.. I wasn't the first in my family to go off to university life.   But it was a chance to move away from home and figure it all out.

University Life

I've often avoided outing myself personally here; but several people may know exactly who I am from this.   Jr. Year of College; I was involved in a nearly fatal mugging.   I had been a serious Tori Amos fan before.   But nothing like I was after.   My recovery was long.. and pretty hard.   Months of back and forth between Rehab and trying to get back into the swing of things.  

I found it frustrating, confusing.. my memory was a soup; some big memories I didn't have.. entire swaths of my life were "gone" I couldn't remember them at all.  I had went from a student working on a BS with a strong math mind to someone who couldn't do math to save his life.  

Tori Amos became my "walking music".   I woke up from the first coma to "Flying Dutchman".    A religious group sent me notices that their prayers woke me up.   I had been a very religious person before.  After it, for some reason, I never was again.   I went from someone who supposedly considered the priesthood to someone who definitely had different ideas.   I wrote a letter to a paper denouncing those who claimed "the power of prayer" had saved my life, commended my team of doctors and therapists, and praised Tori for how much of an impact her music had on my recovery.

Over the next several years, I went to more then 30 concerts, driving all over the country.   I bought backstage passes, plane tickets.. if it was possible for me to go, I went.   Opening concert in Sunshine Florida?  I was there!  Rent a car and race ahead to be in North Carolina a few days later?  Why the hell not!

Because of that, I was grateful to just be alive; I devoted time and effort working for a battered women's shelter, and I learned more about what makes a "good person" then I think I grasped out of any text book.

And yes, I have almost every album in album form, every single, and most anything else she's ever released.  Sue me.

Meeting My Wife

Don't tell me desire is evil and that love isn't real.   I met my wife through our love of Tori.   But we had one of those instant connections that still baffles me how absolutely insanely right it was.    We knew very quickly that this was the direction we were headed.       Within 10 months, we were engaged.   2 Years, and we were expecting Son #1.   15 years in the books together, married/engaged/attached.   Still, the hottest women I know.  Period.  

And then came along Son #1

We weren't really sure why things were the way they were with Son #1.   He had issues sleeping.   He didn't want to talk.   He would yell and shriek and he rarely slept.   A (rather mean spirited) nurse laid a lot of blame on my wife.   We couldn't find something that would work for Son #1.. he didn't seem to enjoy anything.    

Because he wouldn't sleep, we developed the "car pool" trick.  I would take him and we'd drive all over Kansas until exhaustion got him; just enough time to get my wife some sleep and time to herself so she wouldn't have a nervous breakdown.

Then, one night, rotating through the songs on my MP3 player (yes, this was before iPods, so I had an I believe Creative Zen) and we stumbled across my collection of They Might Be Giants.   For the first time since he was born, Son #1 started laughing hysterically.   I don't know what it was about TMBG, but boys, it saved my sanity.

And then, Son #2.

Son #2 was so different from #1 it was like night and day.   He was shy, quiet, but a real hugger.  He always wanted to be with us.   He'd curl up in bed with us and make up games about what kind of hugs there were in the world.   As much as we love Son #1, Son #2 gave my wife that assurance that it didn't always have to be that hard.

At night, before he'd go to bed, I'd sing him some of my favorite numbers.  He always loved this one.   And I'm sorry to all those who think differently, but I love -all- music, and some of the greatest song lyrics in my collection are from Sesame Street.   No matter what age I am, I can't put a tag on greatness that dismisses something as just for kids.  

I think about camping out side, under the stars in a tent and looking up at the sky and singing to my three year old his favorites.

Son #1 Finds an All-Star

As Son #1 grew older, challenges became more difficult, and real hardships were on us due to his condition, a teacher - a miracle worker, frankly, came to me and said "It's not easy - but it's worth it".   Let me explain something: that teacher is Babe Ruth.   I have raved about how incredible some people are, for my son, her classroom was like playing Yankee's Stadium.   Every day in that room was so full of WIN that he would race out of the classroom and was excited to tell us what had happened.  He didn't just talk, he WANTED to talk.

At 8 years old, for the first time I remember, I picked him up from a classroom to have him hug his teacher, his para and then me.  Not prompted or poked, he did it on his own.

It wasn't easy being him.   It was hard.   He wasn't like the other kids.   But he's still my son, "My Favorite First Son" I tell him, and that year - it was total vindication.

This year, he's old enough and life has changed that I'm going back to work "for the man".   It's big pay, nice benefits, and my kids are old enough and things have changed for him.

I've never in my life judged my success in life by how much money I had in the bank, whether I had a "big job", by how much tax I was saving or paying.

Nobody does.   I've been there.  I've seen how bad it can get.    I've been bankrupted by medical bills I couldn't afford; I've been heartsick over things that didn't work out.  

But I never said to myself "Wow, it's all because STEM training is bad" or "It's a failure of schools"

Nope.   I've remembered everything in my life by the songs that I sang to my kids; the moments I had with my parents.

I'm going to go back to the first moment I knew that even if I couldn't sing so well, Music would be a part of my life.

I was in elementary school when Mrs. Brown, our art teacher walked into the classroom in tears;   She turned the record player on and asked for the room to sit silent.   She sat in front of the classroom, with her back to us and cried.

Watching the Wheels played.   She composed herself, and turned to a classroom of kids and said: "As long as there is a song in your heart, everything has a chance to be OK"

I have always believed this to be true.   Nothing changes how we feel or expresses our mood like music.

Even when you're writing a diary or firing off a comment.

Maybe you're fighting for a good cause.

Maybe you're fighting off trolls who are pissing you off.

Or maybe you're the troll who thinks you ARE Kos.

Whatever the theme song in your head is, I'm betting it's at the tip of your tongue as you read this.

I have always hoped Mrs. Brown was right.    I'll go home and sing as loud as I want in my car and race home to see my kid make an effort to learn violin (or banjo, he's torn).  If someone wants to laugh or yell at me singing TMBG, Beatles, Tori, Sinatra, Simon & Garfunkel or Jay-Z, they are welcome to do so.   Sorry, not ashamed to belt it out in my own car, folks.. as my kids.

Or maybe I'll just get home dance it out.  

Because trust me, I may be a geeky white guy, but nothing improves your mood at a cheaper cost then cutting a rug with a 10 year old to his favorite music.   Even if it's this.

So, what gets your toes tapping?

Originally posted to tmservo433 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 03:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by An Ear for Music, Protest Music, and Community Spotlight.

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