Records My Parents Played

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about music. Specifically, the music you had while growing up and how it influenced you. This is going to sound bizarre, but I was raised with an eclectic mix of R & B, soul, pop, disco, rock, easy listening, and show tunes. No, seriously. My parents had wildly different tastes in music – probably not a factor in their divorce when I was two – so I got to hear something new depending on who was watching me. Neither were around much, but they gave me full access to their record and cassette collections. My mother’s vinyl library was small, but it had some of the greats. She used to sing along to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Vanessa Williams, and Dionne Warwick. Looking back, it makes a lot of sense; my mother was part of a church choir growing up, so it’s no wonder she loved listening to those powerful voices. I’m pretty sure she considered I Will Survive her personal theme song. She was also an avid Michael Jackson fan, and had at least a couple of Earth, Wind & Fire albums. She also had a great love for more traditional singers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. She had a cassette of oldies that stayed in her car for well over a decade.

I didn’t spend nearly as much time with my father (every other weekend at most) but I could tell he was more a straightforward rock fan. Not the stuff from the 80s onward, but mostly songs from the 60s and 70s. He got me hooked on Elton John, The Beatles, The Eagles, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, and several others. I’ve always been kind of curious about learning the guitar, and I think it’s because I listened to Hotel California and Fire And Rain so many times as a kid. He also made sure I listened to classical music as well; I’m pretty sure I was the only sixth grader in my class who knew O Fortuna and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by name. It probably helped that I asked about the Looney Tunes background music countless times…Dad was also a big theater geek, so he had me listen to the entire Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, specifically the one with Sarah Brightman as Christine. He even took me to see the play when I was in the 8th grade. He also had the taped version of the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert, complete with the legendary 17 Valjean encore!

Wow, I’m actually geeking out over all this.

Needless to say, such variety had a huge influence over my musical tastes. Even to this day, I prefer songs with guitars, pianos, or strings. Santana, Hendrix, and Clapton are mainstays on my playlists. The genre doesn’t matter, though; I can rock out to DiDuLa’s Arabica, Seals and Crofts’s Summer Breeze, and Oasis’s Champagne Supernova depending on my mood. A considerable portion of my library is dedicated to older rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, and many others; I’ve listened to Kashmir and Under Pressure more times than I’d care to admit. I’ve got a soft spot for somber ballads, too; Andy Duguid’s Don’t Belong, Simply Red’s Home, and Fastball’s Out Of My Head are practically essential for my evening commutes. Wichita Lineman is still the loneliest song I’ve ever heard. Mel Torme’s version of Stardust comes pretty close, though. I wonder if my liking those songs is a reflection of musical taste, or just an emotional state.

Oh, and fun fact: I may have all these songs completely memorized in my head, but I can’t sing them. My voice is too soft. How’s that for irony?

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Daily Prompt: Quirk of Habit

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about quirks and habits. Specifically, the ones you either love or hate in yourself or others. I know that I’m always the weird one, so I’m all too aware of the little crazy (and probably annoying) things I do every day. I sometimes think out loud when I’m trying to puzzle out a problem, but I do so quietly. Sometimes I even get tongue-tied. Everyone around me either thinks I’m muttering something to them, or that I’ve dived straight into the deep end of schizophrenia. I don’t hear voices; occasionally I just think better if I give myself a little mental dialogue. But of course everyone thinks I’m just crazy like that.

It doesn’t help that I’ve got a thing about eye contact, too. Is it just me, or do people just not appreciate the importance of eye contact anymore? Is it because everyone is too busy staring at their smart phones and tablets? Is it just because we apparently need an excuse to not acknowledge the other individuals in our vicinities? I don’t know. But whenever I talk to people, I look them steadily in the eye. I had to train myself to do it, simply because I still find conversations unnerving. Eye contact is unspoken understanding that yes, I see and regard you as a person. Yes, I am listening to you. Yes, I am interested in what you have to say. You’d be surprised how much more polite and kind people act when they know you’re paying attention. However, I occasionally do it too much; a few extra uncomfortable seconds makes the difference between, say, Omar Borkan Al Gala and Tommy Wiseau.

Gotta strike a balance somewhere.

I also have a occasional tendency to rush. It’s a remnant of my college days, when commuting was literally down to the second. I’ve gotten much better at dealing with it – I haven’t angrily frothed at missed train in years – but it still shows up whenever I’m trying to get stuff done. However, I’m also very fixated on accuracy and procedure. I don’t cut corners, but I make it efficient as I can. It’s like a Point A-to-Point B thought process that gets kicked up to Mach 10. Need to have the office shut down? I’ve not only memorized the checklist, I can have everything finished perfectly in a quarter of the time it’d take my coworkers. All because I just want to get out of the office and getting help from the others would just slow me down. Why sit around waiting for them to make mistakes that I’ll have to waste even more time fixing? The same goes with bringing in groceries, cleaning the house etc. Once the momentum gets going, I just can’t stop.

And yes, I’m well aware that it makes me sound like a terrible, bossy, self-centered, arrogant person. It is a part of me, and I hate that. I’m not a big fan of it in other people, either. Bossy people and I do not get along, usually because I refuse to play into their politics. I’m shy and quiet, but anyone who assumes I’m a doormat is in for a big surprise. Age and title aren’t nearly as important as actual experience and skill, and I don’t respond well to those who try pulling little schemes to inflate their egos. People who underestimate me often end up asking for my advice and leadership, and I’m not sure why. I’ve got a tendency towards snarky insights and straightforward, honest conversations. If people have to work together, everyone should help each other to best of their ability, not descend into petty in-fighting.

…Sigh. No wonder they got rid of me.

Oh, and one last thing: I get random songs stuck in my head for days. Sometimes I sing them silently in the shower. I know more about Wichita Lineman and Under Pressure than I’ll ever want.