“make sure you don’t forget me…” pop music, memory, and becoming a grown-up

grow up

So I was helping out for a lovely event yesterday in one of the fine museums here that was all about music, memory, and the things we collect & keep throughout our lives. It started (too) early in the morning with an active retirement group who brought in objects they have kept over the years to do with music, ranging from an array of 7″s and LP’s, to birthday cards signed by Tony Bennett, Al Jolson wrist-watches, and wonderful stories of pianos being brought outside for sing-song street parties after the war. I really loved the morning group. The facilitators had to bring along objects too, and so I brought the only music related item (non-CD/vinyl) that I have moved over here – a little notebook that had found its way here by being stuck between some academic rabble.

Inside the notebook was all the songs I’ve ever written, from unused lyrics, to unheard melodies, some hastily scribbled letters & numbers on the back of envelopes, clothes-tags, stickers… It has become a kind of silenced diary, filled with sounds that are yearning to be made out loud but that will probably never happen. But then there are a few songs that have been heard, and heard in some strange places. I haven’t listened to or heard these songs in such a long time, and yesterday got me thinking about why that might be. The lyrics for one song were written on a payslip for a job I had many moons ago, complete with my name and my national insurance number, but what is even stranger about this is that it’s not my handwriting. And so I’m instantly transported & can suddenly remember exactly where I was, the time of day, who was there, how it was written…

Then there’s the fact that the actual date of writing is printed and documented on the payslip – May 18th, near four years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago now. Little did I know then, that sunny afternoon sitting in the back yard, that days like that were oh so very rare. And even rarer still, that a chance date later that night would result in the kind of first kiss fairy tales are made of, leading to a hiatus in South-East Asia sometime later, developing a terribly sweet-tooth, and a marriage proposal (of sorts)…

All this change in only four little years.

So anyway. Here’s some of the words from one of the songs that I revisited from yesterday. Funny how lyrics can carry such different meaning with even a little bit of distance. Originally called ‘Paul Simon (I Love You)’, it was decided that we all felt more love for Chevy Chase instead. If you want to, you can hear the song here.

You say what you want to always… 

This is our one and only chance to make something out of ourselves

But still we’re trying to pretend that this was worth it in the end

As the sound of my voice rings in your ears make sure you don’t forget me

This is all I ever want for you

This is all I have ’til you refuse

Everything that once went through my head

The letters that you wrote…. we will…

This is all I know to make this true, this is what you said you understood

Things like this they happen all the time so let’s just do our best

To move on

mkl xx


Today was for the most part, completely forgettable…

Ever have those completely ‘meh’ days?

Nothing went terribly wrong. Equally, nothing went spectacularly right either. Just a pretty uneventful day, surrounded by a strange sense of sadness.

I was given a hand-me-down old 1970s Raleigh bicycle a few months ago, & finally, thanks to some lovely friends help, I took her on her maiden voyage today. I made it into the city in one piece. But realized, as I cycled home & the daylight was rapidly descending, that I hadn’t got around to getting lights for the bike. Or a fluorescent jacket thing. Or even a helmet. & then I got a puncture. So I walked alongside my old bike on the sidewalk several miles to my flat. Meh.

Upon my return, the postman been & gone, & delivered a little package with my name on it. My LDL had (mistakenly) told me to anticipate the post, & when there was nothing but a bank statement for me yesterday, well, lest to say, I was a tad disappointed. Opening the envelope, most excitedly, I hate to admit it, but it was another rather ‘meh’ moment. Lovely card, actually really really lovely card. That was it… Not that I was expecting anything else. In fact, I’m glad there wasn’t a present just for the sake of giving/getting a present & then it ends up being a really shite ‘I-bought-this-in-a-panic’ present. So that is not what the ‘meh’ feeling is about. Today just is one of those days that a week-old kitten could land on my lap & I’d still be not bothered in the slightest. & I do love kittens.  This is pretty bad really.

I think where I’m going with all this, dear reader, is that I’m beginning to worry that these kinds of days are on the increase for me. My days are blurring into weeks of complete meh-ness. When I look back to January just gone, already I can’t recall a single really amazing or interesting thing I did/read/heard over the entire month. Is it really possible to lose an entire month like that? Should I be worried? Or should I stop expecting each day/week/month to hold some life-changing, deep, all-encompassing truth or meaning? Have I become so overwhelmed already that I’m tired just remembering the basics?

Perhaps that’s partially why I’m writing here. I’ve always had trouble with my memory; we’ve had some pretty major trust issues. Much of my childhood & young adulthood has passed in a total blur, & I don’t mean metaphorically. I genuinely can only recall a handful of memories from my life under 18. Photographs help for sure, but even then I get confused quite easily, trying to allocate which memories are truly mine versus which have been attributed to me due to photos, family anecdotes, et al.

I guess I worry really because I wonder if I’ve learned anything from my life so far?  Seems unlikely.  If I can’t remember much of it, will I continue to make the same rookie mistakes over & over & over?  Old, past relationships in particular, I often wonder what they were like. I have some fleeting memories that seem quite abstract & surreal now that they are so far removed from their original context. Like the words this one boy whispered to me many moons ago while lying on a bed we mistook for a cloud…

“We should get a cottage deep in the woods, just you & I…  & I would chop wood for the fire & we’d play music into the night, wifey…”

What’s a girl to do with these kinds of memories?  Total rubbish I know now, but even still.  & how they creep up on you when you least expect it??  Is it possible to put them all in a shoebox & file said box away for a rainy day?

Maybe that’s where all my memories have gone by mistake. & on grey & slightly rainy days like today they drop out one by one in no particular order, drip drop, drip drop. It does rain an awful lot here. So maybe this is to blame for the overarching feeling of sheer ambivalence & total nothingness I feel about pretty much everything in my life at the moment.

Here’s a video that leaked from said shoebox, way back when. Tis the shins – ‘pink bullet’. I remember liking the song, but falling for the video… What’cha think? Sums up how I’m feeling about now for sure.

Neither a good nor bad thing really. Like I said, today has been pretty ‘meh’.

mkl x

First Posting: A bird with no song(?)

I don’t sing anymore.

Or so it seems.  I used to sing all the time.

I was always humming while walking down the street, whistling as I did the washing-up, la-ing to myself at just about every (quiet & not-so-quiet) moment. On rare occasions I have been known to sing out loud; (bad) karaoke at parties, various tinklings in musical experiments. I especially got a great kick out of belting out hymns at church services when I was little. It has recently come to my attention that it’s been the longest time since my voice has made a musical utterance of any kind. Not since I’ve moved over here – to a new college, new city, new country. And that worries me slightly…

So. I’ve wanted to write a blog for a long time. I’ve kept journals since I was little, & I do love to write. As much as I love to read, cook, dance, eat… But they are all things I don’t do quite so much of theses days, depressingly so (except for the eating part alas). I’m determined to use my time better, fuller, more creatively, & to overcome the silly fears that keep me from being the person I could be. [I realise this reads terribly like some kinda oath to join the girl guides or something… not my intention!]  I think writing in this private (yet public) way will help me keep track of my life & help me not want to run & jump when I get overwhelmed by the newness/sadness/lonesomeness of it all.

I know I’m over a month late on starting new years resolutions (I’ve never been very good at making deadlines). I’m not even really sure how this whole blog world works. But if you want to read on, I will be sharing with you some thoughts on trying to call England home,  the joys of returning (my poor brain) to education, figuring out the logistics of long-distance love & eventual wedding-planning, & most importantly, a little light music…

To help me get my voice back, here’s PS22 Chorus summing up how I feel right about now:

“Home is where I want to be/ Pick me up & turn me round/ I feel numb/Born with a weak heart/I guess I must be having fun”

Til next time,

mkl xx

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