Here’s something you might not know about me:
I’m a music lover.
You shouldn’t be, I’ve said it a million times.
See, when my father moved into this town he started a few bands and one of them took off. They were a Rhythm and Blues cover band doing classics by Stevie Wonder, James Brown, E.c.t. So that’s the music I grew up around. I was the only little girl in the clubs at night sitting with my mom who got special meals and treats because I was the Drummer/Vocalist’s daughter. In my early teen years one dude in his late twenties asked me to dance because he thought I was older and I said no and was too afraid to go back to that club after a while. People walking up and talking to me was not part of the deal.
I’m not that tall, I’m about 5’7, almost 5’8. I was the tallest kid in middle school always fighting for the top spot with this one boy. We were always the same height until middle school when he sky rocketed to almost six feet and my growth steadied itself. So I guess in the dark I looked older than I really was.
Anyway, my father’s band did a lot of weddings too. Those were the big bucks. Three, four, five grand maybe more. I went to some extravagant ones in the mountains where they had huge stone pools and clear water and great food and bubbles and although I wasn’t a social child I had my adventures in the pools with the other kids. I mostly liked the little bubbles containers though. I constantly had one in my hand so I could blow them into the air at any moment. I think I still have some.
The band broke up before I started high school. He solidified his identity in his music and I think that was a breaking point. He was already drinking and into drugs and it spiraled out of control. The last straw was when we’d been kicked out of our apartment (due to a gossiping drunk of a manager who lied to our landlords about us) and we were living on the street and he had to sell his Slingerland drum set. He’d had it since he was a child and it still had that vintage wood with the exception of a large black mark from when his mother threw it out of his bedroom window as a child because she had eight kids and couldn’t stand anymore noise or disobedience.
Contrary to what you might think, I wasn’t a huge oldies fan. I think it was pounded in my ears all hours of the day that I fucking got over it. As a socially anxious, tall, mixed race, acne covered child, the last thing I needed was to listen to music other kids couldn’t relate to. I discovered a local battle of the bands CD and fell down a dark chute into hell where all the metal bands sat around a table sipping tea, snorting coke, and tuning their guitars. My parents called me a demon child and I gladly embraced that title. I loved the chains on my clothes, the black hair, the thick eyeliner, the band shirts, the chokers with the spikes, the wristbands with “fuck you, dick” on them or whatever.
Then I had a lot of friends. I actually had about five close friends, ten or eleven all together, and I was mostly comfortable around them. I went to their houses, I stayed the night, and all their parents loved me for some reason. Probably because I was the quiet one until someone did something fucking stupid and I got in their face about it.
Two of my friends enjoyed making fun of this girl who was obviously slow and one day I got sick of it and shoved them backwards in the middle of the school yard and told them I was going to fucking break their nose with the basketball in my hand if they didn’t back off. They thought I was kidding until I got closer and said “fucking try me”. They asked why I was so mad and I stared at them like they were the mentally challenged ones. I told them to stop being dumbasses and launched the ball at them and walked with the slow girl to the fence where she waited for her mother on the bike. I told her not to listen to people like my friends. She followed me around (literally, she followed me) through high school until my senior year when she finally got a group of friends.
She’d turned bitter by then, though.
I was never made fun of. Okay, maybe once or twice in high school, but it was never hounded in my face. I wasn’t bullied or even really talked about because I kept to myself. I had my earphones in my ear and people didn’t mess with me. I wasn’t an easy target. The whole of my sophomore class saw me almost yank out the piercings of this one girl’s face (former friend) because she kept walking past my friend and I and muttering “whore” to her. I was very open about the fact that I am always willing to beat someone’s ass. I’m the quiet aggressive. If they couldn’t get that, they’d hear it in my “Cryin like a bitch” by Godsmack screaming from my earphones. I was known for smacking shit out of people’s hands and shoving them down or cutting an argument short with persuasive yelling. You didn’t win with me.
So people left me alone.
I wasn’t a bully. It was people who were fucking ignorant I targeted, and they were more often my friends.
In my family, the words that come out of your mouth are important. If you say something “stupid”, you will get fucking corrected very fast. Do I believe that’s how you should raise children? Not entirely. I don’t think screaming in their face and threatening them or hitting them with belts gets them to understand . . . but it was how I was raised and in high school it’s how I was with others. If you said something ignorant, like arguing with me over whether or not a broken arm can heal in two weeks, you’re going to get smacked and taught a lesson. The parents of many of my friends were still in their late twenties, early thirties. They’d had children in their teens. My parents were already in their fifties and had traditional values they followed. My parents weren’t strict but they weren’t loose with me like their parents were with them.
Who the fuck lets their thirteen year old walk out the door with shorts barely covering their asscheeks? That’s the type of shit I’m talking about. Are you kidding me? I would have got my ass beat! Honestly, if I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble I would have beat their ass myself.
I was an angry child, I think. I didn’t see it then but I see it now. And now much of that childhood anger has morphed into . . . well, I still have a temper. But it’s simmered considerably. What does music have to do with any of this? It has everything to do with it. When I was angry, disgruntled, depressed, anxious, happy, music was the one thing that never let me down. There was a song for everything. And I listened to anything I could get my hands on, from American classics and oldies to Beijing Theater songs. Today when I wander into a store and hum the tune to every song they play, my boyfriend is baffled. He claims I know every song ever. I know I don’t, but I have heard a lot and the best thing about it is that it never gets old. People get old, people leave, people hurt you–music never does, it never will, and it never can. It’s forever solidified in whichever emotional state it was originally recorded in and therefore it caters to your need without complaint.
I have a guitar, a bass, a clarinet, a keyboard, all of which I’ve lost my magic touch with really, but could pick up and lose myself for hours relearning what I’ve forgotten and learning what I still don’t know. I have an emotional connection with music I don’t think I’ll ever have with people. And I’m okay with that.
I still mourn the death of MTV.
And for the record, I don’t know if you’ve all had your ear to your local “hip hop” or “pop” station lately but . . . what the fuck is the world coming to? I listen to a lot of culture’s music, everything holds a story. These people today are disgracing the sacred bond humans have with song. I don’t give a fuck if you like to fuck your girlfriend in your mansion or that you spent two million dollars on the chain around your neck. God, these people are a disgrace. And the R&B stations? That is not R&B. I grew up with R&B.
USHER IS NOT RHYTHM AND BLUES.
If you want to label him and any of those people with R&B, then announce the acronym to mean something else. Just take away the R and label it B for Bullshit.