Track 2: Flow My Tears

Flow my tears

Claire Miller Skriletz

Flow my tears, fall from your springs…

How nice it must be to be able to cry at the right times, instead of sobbing for no apparent reason when life is going well. Or to be able to cry when someone close dies.

Exiled, forever, let me mourn.

Is self-imposed exile the same as being exiled? Claire pondered this as she considered how her relationships with friends and family had changed since she moved two thousand miles across the country four years earlier. She reminded herself again that no matter how hard it had been, it was the right decision. She had grown tired of her life before; even if life since had been hard emotionally, it was still worth it. The most recent visit to her friends and family had been the most difficult yet – her two closest friends didn’t seem so familiar anymore, despite her efforts to keep in touch. For the first time in their friendship, she and her friend Val had spent several hours together with long, uncomfortable pauses in conversation. (more…)

Track 1: Music Saves

Music Saves

Sean McCloud

The album’s cover alone signaled that this was definitely not going to be like Rupert Holmes singing about Pina Coladas or Rod Stewart gauging how sexy I thought he was.
The album’s cover alone signaled that this was definitely not going to be like Rupert Holmes singing about Pina Coladas or Rod Stewart gauging how sexy I thought he was.

For some people, Jesus saves. For me, music saves. It always has and still does.

Coming from a shitty little poor town in rural northern Indiana, I was trapped by geography, class, and the limited mass and social media technologies of the 1970s and 1980s.

I grew up wanting to escape, but feeling confined by my surroundings and unsure of how I could ever get out (I mean, come on, a family “vacation” for my grandparents and me was a forty mile drive down state road 421/43 to the city of Lafayette to get groceries at Pay-Less and have dinner in the McDonald’s parking lot).  

In my early to mid-teens—and especially after my grandma died a few days before my fourteenth birthday—music solidified as something that I could bury myself in, get my frustrations out through, and learn from. It was something affective that made me feel things with my body and brain. The music and lyrics to my favorite songs, albums, and bands put words to things that I vaguely felt but had no language for. Music helped me imagine a life outside of my hometown. Music taught me to question assumptions.  And Gang of Four’s Entertainment!—perhaps more than any other album—initially pushed me to question things in such ways that continue to influence who I am and how I think today. (more…)

Long Day: An Introduction to Albums

Long Day

Kelly J. Baker

 

It was a Saturday in mid-April. The kids were off to Grandma’s house. Chris was working in his office upstairs, listening to music with his headphones on. The rhythmic thump of his foot on the floor above me suggested that he was probably listening to Miranda Lambert or Kacey Musgraves, the current favorite artists of all four Bakers. And I was waiting on him to finish work, so the two of us could spend the day together.

I picked up a broom to sweep and kill time.

My half-hearted attempt at cleaning required a soundtrack, so I pulled up the Amazon Music app on our television and scrolled through the library of music we’ve accumulated in fourteen years of marriage. I passed by Jimmy Eat World, P!nk, the Pitch Perfect 1 and 2 soundtracks, Musgraves, Miranda, Taylor Swift’s 1989, Maroon 5, Kansas, Rachel Platten, Reba, Fall Out Boy, and Journey. None of these artists or albums interested me. I didn’t want to listen to any of them. I searched on. (more…)

Kin Keeping and Emotional Labor

Before I read Katie McLaughlin’s essay, “The Invisible Burden That Leaves Moms Drained,” I hadn’t given much thought to kin keeping. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what kin keeping was.

Her essay appeared on my Facebook feed on a day, in which I was sick and sequestered to bed with nothing more to do than read Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, tweet, and scour Facebook for entertainment. As I read McLaughlin’s essay, I had an epiphany: I’m the kin keeper in our family, and this invisible labor leaves me emotionally spent and, frankly, exhausted.

Kin keeping requires tasks that build and foster relationships as well as encourage solidarity not only in your immediate family, but also in your extended family. McLaughlin notes that kin keeping includes what seems to be small or even trivial tasks: remembering birthdays and sending cards or presents; planning and organizing family events, vacations, and parties; picking out and wrapping holiday presents; sending thank you cards; keeping in touch with relatives who live out of town by phone, email, or video-conferencing; organizing the family’s schedule and planning vacations; and remembering who gave your child/children or partner which gift.

What might seem like small task on its own becomes more of a burden as the tasks pile up day in and out.

Kin keeping as (home)work

For example, while researching and writing this essay, I’ve bought a birthday gift for one of my daughter’s classmates; scheduled a play date; stuffed folders in her classroom, which I do every Friday; volunteered to do registration for Grandparents day for two days rather than the one I signed up for because they needed extra volunteers; rescheduled one of my appointments to attend a volunteer luncheon at her elementary school; designed, purchased and mailed invitations to my youngest sister’s bridal shower; organized catering for the shower and the forthcoming wedding; noticed that I still have to find decorations and made a note that I should have called my other sister about this yesterday (argh); drove an hour and 15 minutes see my two week-old nephew and back home; took both kids to Target to pick out Valentine’s Day cards for their classes and scrounged up time to write out the cards for the two-year old. (more…)

Feminist Resolutions

I know it’s June. (Related, how is it already June?) Six months into the year seems an unlikely time for New Year’s resolutions. (You make resolutions in January, not June, Kelly!) But maybe now is the time to re-up those resolutions about making yourself a kinder human being and to forget any resolution that only makes you hate yourself. Here are my suggestions of a few quality feminist resolutions. This essay first appeared in Women in Higher Education’s February 2016 issue. I’m returning to these five goals now to remind myself to be a better person than I often am. I hope you enjoy. Also, never forget to act like mediocre white men when you need that extra shot of confidence.

It’s February, but I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions. The start of the new year is a moment to review the year before, decide what you want to accomplish for the next year, and figure out what bad habits to drop. It is time for fresh starts and new beginnings. Anything seems possible at the beginning of the year.

Every year passed without a new me, who equated happiness and success with my weight and how much academic work I completed. At the start of 2016, I decided I’m over that noise.

New year…same resolutions

For years, my own resolutions revolved around weight, goals, feelings, and career. On January 1st, I would resolve to lose 10 or 20 lbs, find a tenure-track job, or finally be happy.

After the satisfied glow of resolving wore off, I felt worse about myself than I had before. When judging myself by society’s vision of success, I felt like a failure. I critiqued my body and mind, and found myself wanting a different body, brain, and life. (more…)