THIS POST IS FROM ANNE E.'S NEWSLETTER DATED MARCH 20, 2019...
Good evening and happy happy first day of Spring!
Welcome all new AED Newsletter VIPs. I’m glad you're here. Enjoy your free download of my song, “Dance with Me”, co-written with Cleveland favorite and super-gifted artist/writer, Chris Allen.
If you care to cut to the chase, a link to my most recent tour can be found below. Just click on the wink emoji below to see the list.
If you'd like a story, here's, "Better Than My Parents?"....
Have you heard the talk about doing "better" than your parents? It's a conversation about this or that generation doing or not doing "better than their parents”? Economists are measuring how much $$$, and thus comfort or slice of the "American Dream", is being realized from generation to generation and in comparison with one's parents' generation. Apparently, we should all, occasionally, pay attention to the chatter and be concerned with doing better than our moms and dads....I've got to beat those two! I'm going to tell you a story because it involves a moment in my life that first made me aware of the whole idea of having more and how I was going to deal with it. I return to this moment when I hear the return of these concerned and earnest voices.
I was in my mid 20's, living in Lakewood Ohio. I was a teacher at Reasons and Rhymes Day Care Center in Cleveland, Ohio as well as an artist just beginning my career in music. Suffice to say, I was not rich, or financially stable or lots of things our culture defines as successful. Some years, come my birthday month, I couldn't afford to get a new registration for my car so I'd cover my expired license plate sticker with, what I called, a "protective leaf" or "protective snow". That way, the police couldn't see my expired sticker and I wouldn't get a ticket I could not afford. When eventually, tips at gigs were good enough and I could afford registration for my Buick Skyhawk (hell yes!) the protective leaf or snow would be replaced by the legal sticker. It wasn't always easy, finagling of this sort. But one thing I was, overall, was happy. I loved being with children. I was good for them and they were so very good for me. I also loved my life in music. All good.
Then things changed. I moved in with my first after-college girlfriend. She had bought me that Skyhawk while we were dating. What a nice thing she did for me! She was financially stable, successful in terms of our cultural definition, and enjoying the benefits of a family who started her on good footing. She was educated, smart, driven, and on track to take over her father's business. She loved her work as much as I loved mine. To represent her accurately, I tell you that she absolutely worked her ass off for what and with what was given her. And she was a great example of what it is to engage in running a company with a moral compass intact.
As for me, I was enjoying the financial perks of our relationship (I enjoyed much more about this relationship and lovely person but that's another story). It included a nice home, my first car (the Skyhawk, turned into a Jeep Cherokee...money, fairy dust).
and, among other things, trips to Tower City Center, at that time, "the", high-end mall in Cleveland, to shop, eat and be merry. I learned about nice shoes, good food, a "quality" watch and Calvin Klein cologne. I was also informed that it was a good idea to always "keep $10 in the car in case of an emergency". The last was a new one on me because, shoot, if I had $10 extra laying around, that would be awesome! In defense of myself, I did maintain my independence in many ways. I worked 2 jobs and pursued my music career. I also resisted taking that extra $10 for granted.
But, the fact was that I had been gifted with financial security and the many things money can buy. Here's my recollection of what happened at Tower City.
My generous girlfriend had taken me out one day on a shopping spree. The clothes in those shops were really something else. They were more sophisticated, more expensive and better made than those in my wardrobe. At first I was really excited about shopping for it all and admit that I enjoyed the feeling of being "rich". Outfit after outfit I tried on; Calvin Klein Long and Lean jeans, jackets with names I'd never heard of, lined wool slacks, Cole Hahn shoes and on and on. All these fashionable, well-made, garments being presented to me made me feel like flower-girl Eliza Doolittle on her way to being My Fair Lady. I was all in. Then something happened.
I was in a dressing room, trying on the umpteenth outfit of the day, when I got a feeling in my throat and chest. It was uncomfortable. It was the feeling that what was happening was not right, that all of what was at my fingertips was too much. The feeling overwhelmed me. The walls of the dressing room seemed to move in and the Pygmalion scenario fell apart.
You might hear this and think I was suffering from not feeling worthy of this showering. You might hear this and think, damn right you spoiled brat, that's guilt. But I don't see either. My feeling was a gift. It was a check on me; the sound of my wiser self saying, "you have enough". And I did. I quickly undressed, put back on my own clothes and walked out of the dressing room saying something to the effect of, "I'm done. Thank you but I don't want to shop anymore".
I often think about that moment when I'm buying or being gifted something and as I sit here considering the talk talk talk about doing "better than my parents". I'm grateful for the experience of that moment in the dressing room (and for moments in other dressing rooms...just kidding.)
Now, when I hear sound bites like, "this is the first generation to not do better than it's parents' ", I mostly think, who cares? That said, I hope if doing better than your parents means getting your basic needs met, that you ARE. As for me, I DO NOT need to do better than my mom and dad. They did great! I was a happy kid and I'm a happy adult, and I think it's thanks to to them, their commitment to their children, a modest way of living and the middle class sense in which I grew.
Modest living. I admire it. It never mattered to me that my brother and sister and I shared an attic room. We got to talk to each other, yell at each other, laugh at our parents together. It didn't bother me that one year all four of us got matching Kelly green winter jackets. I was warm on my way to the school bus and I liked it ok. I mean, I might have chosen a blue coat, but blue probably wasn't on sale. Wearing a school uniform was nothing at all to think about. I never had to stress about what to wear each weekday and choosing my socks was enough fashion self-expression for me. I didn't even know what competition dressing was 'till much later in my growing years. Thank goodness.
St. Joseph school uniform. Rock it girls!
I distinctly remember my mother coming home one day, standing in the backyard under our clothesline and exclaiming that we had "enough", enough money saved for all of us to go on our first trip on an airplane. My father and she had worked and saved for every dollar that took us out west for our first look at the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and the taste of authentic Mexican food. We had all waited for that trip which made it all the more sweet.
We hardly wait for anything any more. If we want salmon in July, we have it, a tomato in December, we have it, an immediate answer from a friend, we have it. If we don't get what we want when we want it, our entitled arms are up in the air. There's something valuable in waiting for something isn't there? Something to working for something and something to looking around and seeing what you do have and being happy about it.
I can't tell you how much I don't care about whether or not Kim Kardashian has the right outfit for her sister's fundraiser, who is the richest woman or man in America, who's driving what or how many square feet your house is. What is it that drives our culture to insist that more and more and more is better? Stockholders need their stocks to go up and keep going up infinitum, diamond rings are measured by their size and not the love that put it on the hand, food is marketed on the basis of how much you get not what you get, people line up, even sleep on a sidewalk over night, in order to get the latest phone, that costs $700 and will have to be replaced by the next latest phone in a couple years. I see lots of people suffering for lack of basic things and others suffering even though they lack for nothing material. What's going on? I'm wondering where all of this is leading us. I don't think it's making us happier. The entire construct is closing in, collapsing on us just like my Pygmalion dressing room. Don't you?
All of this leads me to another memory. I once saw some sculptures at a garden shop in "The Short North" area of Columbus Ohio. They scared me. They were sort of, Jabba the Hutt looking heads and they represented the 7 deadly sins, the transgressions which are fatal to spiritual progress:
The skilled and knowing hands that formed these heads, knew exactly what they were doing. I understood each of the sins, simply by looking at the sculpted faces. Gross and fantastic!
Today I'm reminded that I don't need to "do better" than my mom and dad. I hope to do as well as them with regard to restraint born of love. I have learned so much from the way I was brought up whether due to choice, circumstance or a little of both. I'm grateful.
My hope is to grow in love: love for oneself, love for others and love for the beautiful and miraculous Earth given us. I'd like to continue asking myself whether or not I really need something I'm about to purchase and whether or not it's good for the whole of everything. I'm not great at it but I'm trying.
Click on the emoji above for a list of my shows in March and April. The band and I are really excited for all of them. One is actually AT Tower City!!!! We have wonderful music to share. We are DIY artists/musicians, doing our best at what we were born to do! We need you. We appreciate you. So please choose a show, get your tickets and come see us this fine spring!
See you soon,
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WARNING: EXPLICIT LYRICS ON "25"