All posts by Dana Huff

Wife, mother, indie writer, reader, book and education blogger, Technology Integration Specialist, and English teacher.  Fangirl.

A Little Adventure

worcester photo
Photo by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

After I got the kids off the bus this afternoon, we drove up to the car dealership. Our sales associate had called to let me know the registration for our new car was ready, and I could come down and get the sticker inspection.

I haven’t driven a lot around Worcester because I detested driving our old car. It was gripping-the-steering-wheel-anxious-hoping-not-to-be-stuck-on-the-side-of-the-road-again kind of hatred. As a result, despite the fact that I’ve lived in Worcester for almost four years, I don’t know my way around all that well. I managed to get to the dealership just fine with our GPS navigator. However, driving back, I got off on the wrong exit and continually found myself turning the wrong way and getting confused. I eventually found myself near my school. I can’t say I was ever really lost, just not able to get going in the right direction. Dylan was in the backseat telling me, “You’re going the wrong way!” We managed to get home fine despite my inability to follow the GPS directions, but it was a little adventure.

My new car has Bluetooth, so I can connect it to my iPhone. I love this feature. I have been listening to my iTunes music in the car. I was playing my U2 playlist on this trip. U2 is one of my all-time favorite bands. “Where the Streets Have No Name” came on, and lo and behold, my fifteen-year-old daughter Maggie was singing along! Who knew she was familiar with that song. Of course, she does tend to like 80’s music, which is as “vintage” to her, I guess, as 60’s music was to me. So it comes full circle.

We had a fun little adventure on the ride home, and quite possibly were in the car long enough to hear this song together when we might have arrived home before it came up on my playlist. Not quite driving around where the streets have no name, but we managed to get a little bit lost and found anyway. I’m looking forward to more adventures in the new car.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Don’t Go to Jail

My husband is currently on a train to New York to participate in some publicity around his book, which will be released on April 5. Don’t Go to Jail is a tie-in to the TV show Better Call Saul, itself a spinoff of Breaking Bad.

I watched Steve write this book. If you had seen Steve’s start as a professional writer, like I did, you might not necessarily have expected a book like this to be his first. I often thought he would write a true crime book first. He was friends with Ann Rule, who was one of the most famous true crime writers before she passed away. Steve used to write about true crime stories online in various places, some for pay and others not. I have to confess to not being able to follow much of what he wrote because it was too disturbing to me to think about the most horrific parts of human nature. I don’t know how he did it. However, the things he learned writing about true crime did come in handy when he wrote this book.

Steve also became a true fan of the show. He watches it every time it’s on and streamed all the last season as he prepared to write the book. I usually try to watch it with him. It’s a really good show. I don’t watch much TV. I often have it on in the background, but the only shows I make an effort to try to catch are quite few indeed, and most of them have short seasons (Downton Abbey before it ended, Outlander, Doctor Who). I guess I just don’t find much on TV that I like anymore, for whatever reason, and I really do like this show.

I watched him write this book in the space of about a month while he was also doing a permalance (more or less permanent freelance) writing assignment for Maxim online. He has now been writing for Maxim since last September or October. He was writing pretty much nonstop from the time he awoke to the time he slept. It wasn’t easy, but we all understood he needed to get the work done.

Watching Steve build his career as a freelance writer has not always been easy. It’s feast or famine, seems like. However, last year, with this book, it felt like he turned a corner. He has his foot firmly in the door, as they say. It’s not easy to get started as a writer, and I understand why many writers never get to a place where they can make it a full-time job.

I just want to say how proud I am of my husband. He had a dream, and he worked hard to achieve it. There were times I wished myself that he would give up, but I have had so many reasons to be grateful he stuck with it. I will miss him tonight as he is enjoying his time in New York, but I couldn’t be happier for him.

P. S. If you enjoy the TV show Better Call Saul, you might enjoy his book.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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New Car

The last time I purchased a brand new car was probably 1998 or 1999. It was a Saturn. I loved the fact that I was first person to own that car.

Friends who have been reading this blog for a while might recall I have had a car for many years that was just about on its last legs. Driving it or even riding in it for longer than a few minutes’ commute made me very anxious—to the point that if any alerts went off, and mysterious alerts often did—I would have a full-blown panic attack. It was scary and embarrassing. It affected everything. We weren’t able to go places, at least not places that were very far.

The car had a host of mechanical issues, or possibly electrical issues, that we were never really able to diagnose and fix. For instance, some years ago when we drove it to Salem, MA, for a vacation, it broke down in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. We were sidelined for five hours, spending money we didn’t have to spend on repairs. The car simply overheated. After that, for years, the heat gauge would mysteriously rise if we sat in traffic. Then it stopped doing that, but other issues arose. For instance, the flashing oil light when it had been driven a bit more than average. It would only flash while we were stopped. Lately, the airbag light has been coming on.

Well, I’m so excited because today, I BOUGHT A NEW CAR!

My new carIt’s a 2016 Toyota RAV4, which is just what I wanted.
And look at the odometer.

RAV 4 Odometer, 3/22/16Even my brand new Saturn all those years ago had at least 30 miles on it before I owned it. How exciting is this?

My New CarDon’t mind my hair sticking up there. I had to take the obligatory new car picture.

New Car SelfieI tried to take a selfie, but it turned out terrible, so you get this strange picture my husband Steve took of me taking my new car selfie.

I am not naive enough to assume that my anxiety will vanish now that one of its triggers is gone from my life. That’s not how anxiety works. However, I can now at least get in the car without a lot of drama and drive farther than five miles or so. It’s a great feeling.

Of course, the first thing I did was make a mental list of all the places I want to go. Because now, I can.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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I’m Happy You’re Here

Today’s post is inspired by a tweet from Science Leadership Academy Principal Chris Lehmann:

Another good question: do you tell the students how much you enjoy having them in your school?

Students at my school are polite. They often hold doors, offer to help, and greet people politely when they meet others campus. One thing they often do as they pack up their things and leave class is say “Thank you.”

And I say “thank you,” too.

It’s important that students know that they are the reason you are there. And it’s important that parents feel you are happy their children are in school.

I worry sometimes that we send a different message. I know we have all had teachers or known teachers who inspire the question “Why are you teaching?” They seem to dislike students. They seem to dislike their colleagues. They don’t want to do the work of teaching. All of us have bad days, but I’m talking about people who spend years like this.

I will never forget this one guy I worked with in my first year. He taught history. We earned one sick/personal day per month, and he took his as soon as he earned it, like clockwork. He hated the school, he hated the kids, and he hated many of the people he worked with. I’m not sure why he was putting himself (and everyone else) through such a miserable experience.

If we are in a teaching situation in which we genuinely feel that level of unhappiness, we owe it to ourselves and to the students to get out and find something else. It may just be the school. I speak from the experience of having stayed in teaching jobs in which I was unhappy. There was always something I could find to enjoy about each of these jobs, but ultimately, if you are not happy, you won’t be able to make the students feel like you’re happy they’re in your class or your school.

Maya Angelou

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Places

colo iowa photo
Photo by cwwycoff1

I lived in Winder, Georgia in 1996-1997 when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree. I was married, and my daughter was a toddler. There was a house on Center Street in Winder that was blue with red trim, and it had a porch I fell in love with. I was one of those large Victorians with great big shady wraparound porches. I have a goal of living in a house like that, some day. I think if I could find a place like that, with a nice swing, I could really be at home.

Moving around was hard. It was not easy being the new kid, especially since I was what we called shy. Now it’s considered more or less normal, and we call it introverted. I have lived in a lot of places, but it’s hard to call most of them “home.” That’s not to say that I have not liked and even loved some of the places I’ve lived. They just didn’t stir some deep place inside of me that felt like home.

One place that did feel like home was Athens, Georgia. When I went away to college—and I should write a post this month about how I chose my college—at the University of Georgia, I lived on campus. I felt so at home in Athens. There was a spot on North Campus with a small fountain. It didn’t get a lot of foot traffic. I used to love to walk over there and sit on a wrought iron bench and read or study. One of my fondest memories is hearing the trains at night. I have always loved living where I can hear the trains at night. I also used to love to wander as far as I could go up Prince Avenue. It’s hard to explain the pull that Athens had on me, particularly some places in Athens. It is a college town, and a pretty typical one. The first night we drove around downtown when my parents were dropping me off to school, it was like I fell in love. Some time later, I discovered that my family used to live near Athens. As much as it was not the same Athens that existed when they might have ridden into town to do one thing or another, it was there, and some parts of it would have been familiar to them—the parts I loved best, anyway.

Another place I fell in love with at first sight was Gambier, Ohio, where Kenyon College is. I have said that it’s a shame I didn’t know about that place when I was trying to figure out where to go to school. I would have loved it there. Alas, I’m not sure that I could have afforded it, even if I had managed to get in. Still, the place felt familiar and right. One night as I was walking back to the dorms where I was staying during my workshop, I could hear frogs, and there were fireflies flitting through the trees. I remember thinking, “Oh stop it; no place is this idyllic.” Before I even arrived on campus, I remember as our driver was taking me from the airport in Columbus up to Gambier, we passed through Licking County, which is where my father’s family lived for a while in the nineteenth century before moving to Story County, Iowa. Why did this landscape, just one county over from where my ancestors lived, speak to me?

So then I started wondering, given how much I fell in love with Gambier, do we carry our family’s rootedness and love for a place somewhere? A recent study has shown that we do inherit trauma through our DNA. If that is possible, is it also possible for positive environmental experiences to impact our DNA in the same way? Logically, I admit it doesn’t really make a lot of scientific sense. It’s hard to say what it is that produces the feeling of falling in love with a place. I have been other places where my family lived for some time and not felt a thing one way or the other.

On the other hand, what both of these places have in common is that they are college towns, and both are fairly dependent on the college for their existence. I suspect that I would be equally drawn to many other college towns, recognizing in those places a mix of old and new, interesting architecture, and a focus on academia. Perhaps, after all, that is what I’m really in love with: college. I have said many times to students that when they go to college, yes, they should study, but they should have fun, too. My one regret about college is that I wish I had just done more and had more fun. I can’t get that time back.

Still, I wonder what it is about these two special places, Athens and Gambier, so far apart from each other, but each places near where my family once lived—places they, too, may have visited. What, exactly, is it that makes a place feel like home?

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Traveling

travel photo
Photo by Moyan_Brenn

I was thinking of traveling today because I have been doing family history research all day, and one feature of the software I’m using allows me to attach geocode tags with longitute and latitude for places that crop up in various family events. It was interesting to see the westward movement of some members of my family. Others remained more or less within the confines of a small area their entire lives. Nowadays, that kind of movement is so much more rapid and frequent. In the 1800’s, when our ancestors traveled west in covered wagons, that was it. You were staying, and you were not going to be able to go back for visits. It takes a matter of hours for me to cover the same ground, and if pressed, I can go there and back in less than a day.

It’s strange, but one of my fondest travel memories is driving from Cape Fear, North Carolina, where I was living at the time, to Aurora, Colorado with my then husband and young daughter to visit my grandparents. We didn’t plan very well and assumed (you know what happens when you do that) we should be able to stop the first night in Tennessee. I think we had planned to stop in Nashville. No room at the inn in the first place we tried. We kept going. No room. We kept going. Finally, I decided to keep going while my husband slept, and then we could trade off. I felt somehow like I was all alone. There were no other cars. The family was sleeping. I was cruising down I-24. My husband woke up when I got on I-57; he felt the vehicle slow down. I think he might have volunteered to drive. We made it through St. Louis in the wee hours and stopped at a rest area on the western side of the city to nap for a little while. I remember crouching in the floor of the car and resting my head on the seat. There’s no way I could sleep like that now. After a little while, we got back on the road and drove across Missouri and Kansas, finally stopping in Goodland, Kansas, not far from the Colorado border. It was probably only 5:00 P. M. Or maybe not even that late, but we were exhausted, and the weather looked threatening. I’m pretty sure it could have produced a tornado if it had wanted to. We drove into Aurora the next day. It was probably only about four or five hours before we were there. It’s funny how indelible and strangely happy that memory is to me now, that feeling of being alone with just my road trip music on in the car, the whole road wide open to me. I couldn’t do it now. I had so much more energy in my 20’s.

Even going 1,800 miles across the country was something I could do, at least when I was in my 20’s, in two days. I know we take this miracle of travel for granted. Certainly, I do. As long as we have a little money for gas and food, we can go virtually anywhere, and we can come back when we’re ready.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Re-Reading

books travel photo

For some reason, Emily Dickinson’s line, “There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away” is running through my mind after re-reading Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours. My AP Lit students read and studied Mrs. Dalloway before spring break, and I asked them to read Cunningham’s book over the break. Since it had been quite some time since I read it, a re-read was in order for me, too. I remember it didn’t quite land for me when I first read it. I recognized it was well written, but I couldn’t have foreseen I’d read it again. Because I really love the idea of intertextuality, and also because I borrowed my AP book list largely from a friend and colleague, I decided I’d do Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours together.

My students empathized with Septimus Warren Smith, and they really wanted to talk about him in our discussions, though they also marveled at Virginia Woolf’s writing and tried to connect to Mrs. Dalloway as a character, too. I think they did good work. I will be curious to see how they appreciated The Hours after having read Mrs. Dalloway first, because my first reading of The Hours was years before my first reading of Mrs. Dalloway, and I believe I appreciated The Hours more after understanding how it is in dialogue with Mrs. Dalloway.

What I have really been thinking about today, however, is re-reading. I often tell students that we bring everything we are, everything we’ve read, and everything we’ve done to each book. When we re-read with a gap of time, we often find we respond differently to a book the second time because we are not the same people we were the first time we’ve read, we’ve read more books, and we’ve lived more. In the case of The Hours, my response was entirely different. I connected deeply to the characters in a way I couldn’t when I first read the book 13 years ago.

I remember having the same reaction to re-reading The Catcher in the Rye. I read it as a teenager and despised Holden. Who cares about some ungrateful, annoying preppie teenager roaming New York? How horrified I was when a high school friend once told me he thought all teenage boys were Holden Caulfield. Years later, I saw Holden entirely differently, but it took becoming a mother and a teacher for me to empathize with Holden. Now I love that book and count it among my favorites.

While I know that there is a popular movement in English teaching today to throw out the whole-class novel study, I do still see value in it. I know for a fact that some of the books I am asking my students to read won’t land for them, not yet. I have told them so. And yet there is still value in reading and thinking about these books, letting them rattle around in our brains, and returning to them (if we want to) years later when perhaps we are ready for them to land. At the same time, I do think students need to learn what they like to read in order to become readers, and we should offer opportunities for students to choose what they read as well. The tricky part is not ruin a book so that students have no desire ever to return to it again. Of course, I never really know if students do return to books unless they make a point of telling me, and often they are living their lives, reading other books, and doing other things, so I never know for sure if they pick up a book we studied together, look at it again with their more experienced eyes, and connect to a book in a way they didn’t when they were in my class. But they do at least have the book, somewhere in their minds, and later, perhaps the book might just take them lands away.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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St. Patrick’s Day

four leaf clover photo
Photo by forestfolks

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I have always had a special connection to St. Patrick’s Day. It’s my half-birthday, which may seem like a silly thing for a woman my age to pay attention to, but you remember when you were a kid, and the distinction “and a half” was important? Even though that distinction is no longer important to me, and about 87% of the time I can’t even remember how old I am, never mind the half, I still feel like St. Patrick’s Day is a special day. Not just because I’m about half Irish, really, because the importance of the holiday in Ireland is somewhat lost given how long ago it was that most of my ancestors immigrated to America and also given its diluted nature in the States. We might lift a pint of Guinness and wear green. We might even go to a parade, depending on the concentration of Irish descent in our neck of the woods. But it’s really not a holiday in America the way it is in Ireland. My Irish ancestry is so far removed at this point that I actually don’t feel all that Irish.

Except… In some ways I do. When I took Celtic Literature in college, I really responded to the Irish and Welsh myths that we studied in ways I didn’t, necessarily, to Greek and Roman myths. I also respond in a visceral way to Celtic music—fiddles, whistles, Uillean pipes, and bodhráns speak to some part of me that goes deeper than my general love for music. Same with bluegrass or Appalachian music. I don’t always count it my favorite kinds of music to listen to, but if I hear it, it stirs something deeper inside me than even some of my favorite music does. It’s one of the reasons why Sharyn McCrumb’s novel Songcatcher was so moving to me. I responded to the idea of music traveling through DNA.

But there are no recipes that have been passed down, at least not traditionally Irish ones. There are no stories about family in the “old country.” I’ve tried to trace my family to Ireland using a paper trail, but it’s nearly impossible. Or I should say it has been up until now. I was actually surprised that a DNA test confirmed I had such a high percentage of Irish ethnicity. I expected to be quite English, and I was a tiny, tiny bit English, and that was all.

Tomorrow I’ll be putting a different DNA test from a different company in the mail. This company allows you to do a bit more with your results than the other test I had. It also has a larger user base, so I can potentially find more relatives as well as learn more about my genetic history than the first test I took will tell me. I wish you could just port your test results over from one place to another, but I guess it doesn’t work like that. I will be interested to see how the results from each test compare, since they focus on different aspects. I’ve been watching a lot of back episodes of Henry Louis Gates’s show, Finding Your Roots. Gates has Irish ancestry, just like I do. I learned watching an episode last night that about 1 in 10 Americans do. Gates tests the DNA of all of the guests on his show and compares them. Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly were shocked (and I think mortified) to discover they’re related. One thing you learn about watching shows like this, however, is that we all are related and woven into this great tapestry of humanity. And we all have stories. If more people realized what connected us rather than focused on what separated us, it might be more beautiful world.

On this day when everyone’s Irish, may the luck of the (half) Irish smile on you.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Granna’s Sewing Room

Granna Sewing on Papa's Stripes
Granna Sewing on Papa’s Stripes

“When did you first realize that room was unique? That not many houses had one?”

I was in a session at NCTE and had written about a special place on the direction of the presenters. All of us participants were asked to share our special places with others, and this woman and I were the only ones in in the front right corner of the room. We exchanged those glances that said “Do you want to be my partner?”

I read her a little something I had written up, and she asked me those questions. I had never thought about it, but she was right. That room was unique. I didn’t know anyone else who had a sewing room in their house. My grandmother was, as she always described herself, a seamstress. When I was a child, I used to go to her house every day after school until my mother’s workday ended. I usually sat at her coffee table and did my homework. All the time, the burr of her sewing machine could be heard in the background, and there was usually a visit from a customer or two. She did everything from alterations to wedding dresses.

When I was at Kenyon last summer, we did a wonderful place exercise in which I wrote about that room, and ever since that writing activity, that room has been a deep well of inspiration for me. I wrote a zuihitsu poem about it, which I won’t share here because I would like to try to publish it—rules about prior publication are pretty strictly defined to include personal blogs. I have returned to that to room many times. I can see it so vividly.

Granna had several sewing machines, but the ones I remember being set up when I was a child were a metallic green Rex, a newer Bernina, and a Juki serger. She also had a complicated-looking ironing apparatus. The iron was always hot and was attached to a large steam bottle that looked like an overlarge IV. She had a large table in the corner. It was covered with fabric. I don’t think I ever saw its surface. She had stacks and boxes of old patterns. Many of the patterns featured on the McCalls Pattern Behavior Tumblr wouldn’t have been out of place in her collection. There was an area to the right of her Rex, which was her main sewing machine at the time. A small table nestled between her sewing table and the large fabric-laden table against the wall; here Granna kept spools of thread and trays with bobbins, pins, needles, sewing machine feet, buttons, and every kind of sewing notion you can think of. In second grade, I had made her a memo board with woodgrain contact paper and my picture—grown out perm and overlarge permanent teeth coming in—framed in pieces of lace. It still hangs there, next to her machine. I could usually find stale pieces of Freedent gum on that table, too. The floor in that room was black tile, pitted with scars from the wheels on my grandmother’s chairs as she whipped around the room from machine to machine.

It is probably the place I associate most with my grandmother because it was where she spent most of her time when I was a child. I used to go back and visit her in the room. Often she would be humming. When asked her what she was humming, she always said she didn’t know. She usually had two or three straight pins sticking out of her mouth for safekeeping.

Granna
This is the image I most associate with my grandmother

She could fix a tear or a hem in nothing flat. In the years she was still actively sewing, you could turn anything she made inside out, and it would be lined and the seams would be straight, rough edges serged and neat. There was no flaw in anything she made. I only came to appreciate the craftsmanship and learning her skills took when I tried to learn to sew myself and put one of my pockets in backwards in the shorts I made and sewed my top too tight to wear. I do remember going through a period when I wanted store-bought clothes because I was desperate to fit in and wear the same kinds of jeans and jackets as the other kids wore. By the time I was an adult, I appreciated the love that went into the clothes my grandmother made. She used to sew little tags into the back of anything she made for me:

Made Especially for You by
Granna

When I last visited my grandparents, I was able to interview my grandmother about her career and hobby as a seamstress. I hope you enjoy the digital story I made.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Music is Life

Music is Life

Not a lot of people who read this blog know this about me, but I’ve been a musician most of my life. I never pursued it in any serious way, aside from playing in band in school and learning how to play the guitar. I also noodled around on several other instruments, including my sister’s clarinet, a neighbor’s violin, and the French horn owned by my middle school. Recently, I completed an online Introduction to Guitar course offered by Berklee College of Music through Coursera. I was rusty and thought I’d benefit from going back to the beginning, and I did. The instruction was excellent, and I learned things about music theory that I didn’t know. I received an electric guitar for Christmas. It was the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had since high school. At the time, they seemed so expensive and so outside the realm of anything I would ever be able to obtain that I gave up.

My Guitar
My Guitar

You could say that music runs in my DNA. My father played drums in school, and my uncle still does. He’s been a lifelong professional musician, in fact. My grandfather played the trombone. My great-great-grandfather played the fiddle. My great-great-grandmother and her mother played the organ. Many generations back, I have an ancestor, a rifle-maker tired of paying high prices for gun locks from New York, who supposedly charmed a gun lock manufacturer out of his secrets by playing the violin. In times gone by, if you wanted music, especially on the American frontier, you needed to make it yourself. Willa Cather’s short story “A Wagner Matinee” has long been a favorite because I connect to it so deeply.

I was, of course, lucky enough to grow up in a time when access to music was ubiquitous—through the radio, through music stores, through mixtapes made for friends. It wasn’t quite like today with access to new music on various streaming sites and YouTube, but it wasn’t hard to hear about new music. I can remember trying to make requests on the radio (they were ignored). I can remember taping music off the radio. I nearly wore out my copy of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet when I was 15—until I discovered Led Zeppelin and left Bon Jovi in the dust. There was a period of time in the mid-1990’s when I listened to The Joshua Tree on a loop in my car. Around 2005, I think, I discovered Jeff Buckley. A few years later, Jack White. I can’t say I stay as current as I did when I was young, but I love discovering new artists, and still try to listen to new music. There was a time in my 30’s when I felt like I didn’t know anything about current music, and I admit it was a bit of a panic. I suddenly felt old.

I was in college when grunge was popular. Nirvana broke my sophomore year. Pearl Jam even came to my university and gave a free or cheap concert (I can’t remember now). I didn’t go. Can you believe that? Big regret of mine. At the time, I didn’t think I liked them, really. In fact, if I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t go see as much live music as I should have. I saw some; I just didn’t take advantage of opportunities I had to see more. There really isn’t anything quite like seeing music live. I listened to so much music in high school and college that there are certain songs and albums I can hear that will take me right back to that time. I listened to a lot of things—hard rock, classical, big band swing, blues. Later on, I developed a fondness for old school country.

One of my friends recently posted this question on Facebook: “Imagine you’ve met someone who has been severely cut off from the world, and you get to introduce this person to music. What would be the first recorded song you would play?”

This is a fraught question for me. I like music so much that picking a favorite song is difficult, and I’m not sure I could do it. I also feel like this is one of those questions that says a lot about a person. Even picking one song that represents each genre I like would be too hard. It’s the kind of question that stops me cold in a quandary over how to answer. With all those caveats in mind, including the one that no such list could ever possibly be comprehensive or representative, I would suggest this person check out the following:

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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