I’ll be watching you

SEA

Today’s blog (though greatly delayed) is inspired by the Daily Prompt:

Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?

Being the dreamer I am, I’ve often thought about what it would be like to have a Time Machine so I could pick any era, step in, experience the culture, and talk to my literary heroes of days gone by. Here’s how I think it would go, meeting the Father of the Modern Detective Story, the master of bloody horror, the man of constant sorrow, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar, buddy, what’s the deal with your fixation on beautiful dead women? You’re a rock star, man. Live it! The ladies swoon when you recite your verses. Take a look around. There are a lot of living, breathing women here who would love to be the object of your affection, poetry, and prose. But no, you bust your rhymes about that crazy ghost chick Lenore. And what’s up with hearts hidden under floorboards and big-eyed men, draped in gossamer gowns? Dude, if my man Shemar (Derrick Morgan on Criminal Minds) profiled you, he’d peg you as a serial killer. You aren’t…are you? Hey, stay away from the sewer rats. They aren’t kittens, and I hear they’ll give you rabies.

Hmmm. I fear I’ve traveled back to 1990s rap while talking to an 1840s writer. Whatever.

Let’s get back to the prompt. I hold the record for the high school student who has been retained the longest number of years. Yep. I put on my cap and gown in the 80’s, turned my tassel, but still haven’t walked out these high school doors. It’s like permanent detention, Groundhog Day style. I wake up and live it again. Same places, different faces. I delight in kids but bear great disdain for being controlled by the State. Let me teach, let me teach, let me teach, Mr. Grinch. You’re a mean one, rotten to the “Core.”

If I can’t beat ’em, I’ll daydream them to death. An Anywhere Door would do the trick. Where would I go? What would I do?

Right now, I think I would like to go to the beach. I’m ready for a slow down. There is little to do at the beach other than to hang out with Mother Nature. Most people dig the sunlight My fair skin isn’t a fan, so I prefer the moonlight and the stars over the ocean. My Anywhere Door would take me to a place where all my five senses (maybe six) could kick in and kick back. Ah, the sweet sensation of a nautical getaway…

I want to watch the sun paint ribbons in the sky
Hear lap, lap swishes and the seagull’s cry
Sink my toes in the sand, be blanketed by sun
Taste fresh key lime pie, be tempted by rum
Smell briney mud and sea-salted air
And know without knowing answers to my prayers

People always tell me, girl, you live in the past. Embrace the moment. Stop wishing your life away. Bloom where you are planted. Okay, maybe I need to re-think my decisions.

What if the Time Machine breaks and I get stuck in the past? I don’t want to go back. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. What if the Anywhere Door leaves me stranded and I can’t put my feet on familiar ground? There are some good things about right now I don’t want to lose. Bad choices, bad choices, what’s a girl to do?

All I have left is the Invisibility Helmet. I can’t re-live the past or skip to my future. I need to focus on right now. I just need a little help seeing. If only I had better eyes, ones that could see everything I’m missing, then I would know whom I could really trust.

Don’t you think our eyes are opened when others don’t think we’re watching.

If I had an Invisibility Helmet, I could walk into your circle of friends and hear what you say about me when I’m not around. I could truly be like the Teacher with Eyes in the Back of Her Head. I could see who is cheating and who is not.

On a lighter note, I could walk into a Starbucks and walk away with all the Frappacinos. I could drive my car 160 mpg and never get a ticket. I could plant dreams in people’s minds by whispering in their ears as they fall asleep. I could spy on my cat and see what he really does when I’m not in the room.

So, I’ll take the Invisibility Helmet. I’m always watching, always. You may not realize it, but I’m watching you. Right now. I’m taking notes, just like Harriet the Spy. These notes, I’m sure, will make a great book. Someday.

I’m always looking for answers, always. Even if they’re right under my nose, I keep looking for what I want to see. The problem is I don’t see what I don’t want to see. Heck, maybe I’m already wearing the Invisibility Helmet. Instead of hiding me, it hides what I don’t want to acknowledge.

Everybody knows there are no calories in chocolate when you’re stressed out and on vacation. There are no dirty dishes or dirt on the floor when the sun begs you to leave the house. And then there are those other things we choose not to see….

Time Machine, Anywhere Door, or Invisibility Helmet? Choose your choice. What would it be?

 

 

 

 

 

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Normal is just a setting on the washing machine

shoes

My journalism students start their staff meetings with a staff “check up” to see how everybody is doing. The emotion meter runs the spectrum. High. Low. Explosive. You name it. Typically, one wants to punch something, another is holding back tears, somebody is always hungry. The lone freshman enters the room in shock. Her innocence has once again put through the test. One week she witnessed the first kid her age sporting a beard. Another week she saw a kid her age who’s pregnant– not the same kid, by the way. She was dismayed.

We may be an odd bunch, but we’re TRYING to work together as a team. We’re not perfect. We’re small in number and big on learning respect and tolerance–at least that’s the goal. And not one of us is “right.” (You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard from them–and they’re heard from me.) We are so DIFFERENT!

One of my guys summed up our cozy little staff by quoting one of his mom’s favorite sayings: Normal is just a setting on the washing machine.

Ya know, wouldn’t that make a cool title for a book?

And so apropros. I’m sure if you’ve been to this blog at all you’re sick of hearing about my writing whoas, but I am on a quest for publication. I have been for years. I was sidetracked after the death of both of my parents, and I haven’t been able to get rolling again, but I will. My published writer friends tell me to be patient. I’m trying.

Maybe I’ll run into Little Richard. I have a character based on him in one of my books. Maybe he’ll read it. Maybe he’ll like it. Maybe he’ll like it a lot. Maybe he’ll introduce me to an editor who can’t wait to publish it. And my chances of that happening? Ummm hmmmm. Again, I’m not what you’d call “right.”

I’m doing a bit of “remodeling” at my home. While moving things around, I discovered a Beth Moore book I bought quite some time ago, but the timing of me finding it was perfect, serendipitous, if you will. It’s all about insecurity.

I snuggled under a blanket and read, read, read, soaking up all of her wisdom. Wow. Beth Moore feels insecure too? Maybe I’m not so different after all. (And, hey, Friend Who Sent Me a Message Last Night Confessing Your Bout with Insecurity, again the timing is right. I will let you read the book. But you aren’t so different. If fact, you’re pretty normal. We all feel like a fish out of water sometimes.)

I think a lot of us feel insecure with our appearance, our social status, our job performance, our relationships, etc. The list goes on and on.

I love, love, love people, but they terrify me. I’ve interviewed a terrorist, a child prodigy, and millionaires and celebrities. No problem. I feel 85% comfortable doing what I do. I get a tad bit nervous before we talk, but once I get caught up in the conversation, I’m relaxed. I figure it’s a gift to be able to hear another person’s story firsthand.

But when I have to interact with people I know, I come unglued, adults particularly. I’m more relaxed around my students–if I think they like me. But if I think they don’t, I walk on eggshells. Bad.

Adults are scary people. That’s why I think I’ll just stay a kid for the rest of my life.

When I’m in charge (i.e. in teacher mode). I’m a great observer. Like the Crocodile Hunter, I can read the signs of the child creatures. I know when they’re slipping into fight or flight mode. I can USUALLY tell if they like me or don’t.

Not so much with adults. Adult beasts have learned the fine art of wearing a façade. They schmooze, butter up, slap on sarcasm, tell inside jokes, manipulate, seduce, etc. Thank goodness, most of my young students have little experience with these techniques. As a result, we get along pretty well. I am not very good at those “techniques,” so in the great card game of adult human interaction, I never know what card to play with the hand I’ve been dealt.

Nevertheless, I’m still intrigued by people. I watched Midnight in Paris for the 20th time last week, and once again I made a new revelation. The lead character Gil steps back in time to mingle with his literary and art heroes–the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Picasso. Quite interestingly, the movie depicts all of these greats as having their own vulnerabilities, well protected, but present nevertheless. We ALL have them.

I wish I could sit down with a few of these famous faces and just talk–minus the facades, minus the manipulation, minus the arrogance and haughty presentation. I want to understand the real THEM.

If you could pick TEN people to TALK to, who would they be? Why?

I have my ten. Some people might criticize me for not choosing all the great theologians, but you won’t find many “religious” people on this list. I can predict standard religious answers from people who appear perfect but who  hide their flaws, and the most genuine of saints, in my opinion, people like Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, are crystal clear.

My list includes people who are like muddy water. It’s hard to see through these people. My list includes some spiritual people, some eccentrics, and a few prodigals. People like you. People like me. People with flaws. People with potential. People with epiphanies. People with pain.

People are people. Everybody has a story.

Here we go:

Zelda Fitzgerald — She was such a free spirit, but F. Scott kept her roped in (at least that’s what the biographies say). She spent her the last years of her life in an asylum. Why? What drove her to such anguish?

Edgar Allan Poe — Never has a man ever seen so much misery. I want to know about the last days leading up to his death. Did he really have a relationship with God as I’ve read, or did he abandon the faith?

C.S. Lewis — I’d like to know what he thinks about J.K. Rowling, whom so many Christians deem devil-inspired.

Marilyn Monroe — I want to know whom she really loved, if she really loved, and who was responsible for her death.

Little Richard — It seems everyone in my town has met him but me. He seems to have such a kind heart. I want to see if it’s true. I want to tell him about my book!

Steven Tyler — He is maximum drive creativity wrapped in the appearance of  new-found sober sincerity, hopefully not faux. I want to know why he does what he does and what he really believes.

Benjamin Franklin — I could spend weeks talking to him about his rock star life during the colonial period. How did he invent? And where did he get those ideas? I think I know. Did he really lead a dark life in various secret societies?

Stevie Ray Vaughan — I hope to talk to him in heaven. Otherwise, I have a dozen questions about Jimi Hendrix, his guitar heroes, his guitars, and the helicopter crash.

Elvis Presley — I want to ask him about Memphis and his mama.

Rick Bragg — I’ve heard him speak, read all of his books. Maybe he could give me some real advice.

There she is. Now it’s your turn.

WORDS OF WISDOM
It’s wonderful when you can bring sparkle into people’s lives without fading away from your own true color. Keep the hue in you. ~ Dodinsky

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.  ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Never apologize for showing feeling.  When you do so, you apologize for the truth.  ~ Benjamin Disraeli

MUSIC NOTES
You with the sad eyes / Don’t be discouraged / Oh I realize / Its hard to take courage / In a world full of people / You can lose sight of it all / And the darkness inside you / Can make you feel so small / But I see your true colors / Shining through / I see your true colors / And that’s why I love you / So don’t be afraid to let them show / Your true colors / True colors are beautiful, / Like a rainbow

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn0KFlbqX8v=J7CPgxNSpwk/

FINAL THOUGHTS

seuss

Part 2 — My Top Ten List of Mysterious Writing Adventures

Fall is almost here, and I can’t wait to go exploring! For me, fall is my favorite time of year and my favorite time to write. I think Edgar Allan Poe and I would have been kindred spirits. Although he is a bit more melancholy and macabre than I, we both share a liking for the beauty of the mysterious, the twilight hour, the chills and the thrills. Poor Edgar was so heartbroken that he wrote only of the dark side. I tend to find the light the dark tries to hide. Most of the time, I discover it through laughter. Most of my weird adventures have hilarious resolutions. But for now, let’s get our imagines primed for a great season of writing. Let’s take a look at few more fun places to visit, physically or mentally.

So here goes: Part 2—My Top Ten List of Mysterious Writing Adventures

6. Memphis, Memphis, Memphis
I could write an entire blog on the mysterious places of Memphis, starting with Voodoo Village. But I’ve already talked about that one too many times. How about starting with the Phantom of the Orpheum. Supposedly, a ghost haunts the grand Orpheum Theater. Witnesses say they have spotted a little girl named Mary skipping about the mezzanine in a white dress and stocking feet. History reports state that a little girl the age of the apparition was struck down by a street car and later died in the theater lobby, where she was carried after the accident. Of course, the story is legend, the subject of one of several walking history tours. But it is an interesting story.

Everybody knows Elvis has left the building—and this dimension. I believe he is in heaven. But did you know that ten days after his death several men tried to steal his body and hold it for ransom? However, they were soon caught. The “explosives” the men had planned to blow up the mausoleum turned out to be fireworks, and the charge was dropped to trespassing. I do know for a fact that if you look hard enough you will find Elvis (or one of his clone tribute artists) in many places in Tennessee, for starters either on Beale Street or downtown Nashville. There is an Elvis “fortune teller” machine in one of the souvenir shops near Legends. Ask Elvis a question, and, hey there, pretty mama, he’ll tell you your fortune. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Speaking of Elvis, did you know he really liked the rollercoaster called Zippin Pippin at the now abandoned Libertyland theme park in Memphis. Sometimes he would rent the entire park so that he and his friends could play without being bombarded by fans. A week before his death, he lost the buckle off the belt of one of his famous jump suits while on that ride. The roller coaster was sold, and where it is now, who knows?

And while we’re on the subject of Memphis, ever heard of the Dark Day of Memphis, when for no reason the entire city was blanketed by darkness? The event happened December 2, 1904, and lasted for 15 minutes. Weirdings!

7. Voodoo Hill in Rutherford County
According to legend, there is a shooting range in Rutherford County called Big Springs Target Sports, a place that has lured celebrities as famous as Charlton Heston. But that’s not the weird part. About ten miles from this spot is a mysterious spot that has skeleton heads in trees, monstrous guard dogs chained to a tree, a myriad of bats, and coyotes roaming the place. Anybody who knows me well knows I’ll be the first to suggest exploring the scariest of places. Bring it on. But this place? From what I’ve read, the people at this place are even more strange than the animals. I’ve heard the place is scary at night, but even scarier in the daytime. As adventurous as I am, I’m doubtful about checking out this place. It would be a great setting for a story, but I would like to live to write about it.

8. Booger Swamp
Here’s a story for all the recent grads who are going to Tennessee Tech this fall. According to legend, there is a place on Dry Valley Road, about a half mile north of the intersection with Black Mountain Road, where lies an old swamp that is said to be haunted by an apparition with a pure white body. On a personal note, I do not suggest going for a romantic ride in the country in this area. You might bring home an unwelcome hitch hiker.

9. Giant Bones of Williamson County
Back in 1821, when explorers found giant bones in graves, rumors of an “oversize race of monstrous humanoids soon swept across the region.” Where the bones those of giants? Probably. Where they human? Probably not, at least according to scholars, who claim the bones belonged to mammoths or mastodons that had been buried by Ice Age hunters. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see them. I wonder where they are now.

10. Egyptian artifacts in Nashville?
Wouldn’t it be great to be Indiana Jones for a day? When I was young, my mom filled my authentic canteen with Kool-Aid, and I set off on my banana seat bike to discover new adventures. I came back with all sorts of cool junk that I imagined to be long lost artifacts. But in the early 1890s, a man named George Wood found more than what he bargained for. He was turning up the ground on his farm and unearthed a stone box that contained a skeleton holding a small disk inscribed with what appeared to be Egyptian markings—at least that’s what Harvard zoologist Barry Fell believed after examining it. It was also his belief that the ancient Egyptians had taught the people of the New World how to build pyramids, “passing along the mythology of the ancients.” What do the symbols say? Fell believed the symbols were an IOU. I wonder who owed whom what. If you want to see if for yourself, you can find it in a very safe spot—the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

Want to read more Weird Tennessee? Check out the book by Roger Manley. If you like adventure that’s just a few miles down the road, then this book can take you on a wild ride close to home.

http://www.weirdus.com/states/tennessee/index.php

http://www.amazon.com/Weird-Tennessee-Tennessees-Legends-Secrets/dp/1402754655

Sometimes they listen

I often ask myself, “What the heck am I doing here?” I’m an incredibly sensitive, self-conscious mouse that suffers a complete meltdown in the face of rejection.

I’m a teacher. Every day I face a hundred or so human beings telling me to my face that what I value is irrelevant. Kind of a blow to the old ego.

Every day I have to put on my happy face and smile when I hear, “You teach English? I hated English.” And that’s from the adults.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a lit freak. I like reading. I like writing. I like tearing down sentences the way some of my students like rebuilding engines. I like exploring stories that are challenging, ones with many levels of meaning. I’m kind of like an Indiana Jones of the written word.

My Motlow college students taunt me. “But Mrs. L., does everything have to have a hidden meaning? Why can’t a writer just write? Why do we have to analyze everything? Can’t we just read for fun?”

Well, yeah, kiddos, of course, you can. But don’t you get chills when you find the hidden gem in a poem? Don’t you dance to the cadence of well-written prose?

Never mind. I know the answers.

But occasionally, one or two students will approach me after class and say, “I get it. This stuff is really cool.” Of course, they wait until everyone else has left the room. It’s just not cool to like what some old dead guy wrote decades ago.

Several years ago, when I was working as a freelance music journalist, I met the Smalltown Poets, an Atlanta-based band, whose members were inspired by their creative writing class.

I guess that’s why I’ve always wanted to teach creative writing. I like being a bridge that links people to their dreams.

I did a little research and found a quote from Michael Johnston, Smalltown Poets band member, who explained how his teacher’s words inspired him.

“Our teacher said, ‘the best writing is honest writing.’ If you’re being vulnerable about who you are and let that come across in your writing, then that’s going to move people.”

Yes! That’s it. I envy Michael’s creative writing teacher. I wish I my words could move people. I wish I could make my students FEEL something when they read.

Yesterday one of my journalism students and I were discussing classic novels. He brought up 1984, Brave New World, and Animal Farm, which he has yet to read.

“Oh, yes,” I said. “Animal Farm, you have to read that one.”

And then our roles reversed. My student became the teacher.

“Hey, Mrs. L, did you know Pink Floyd’s album Animals was based on Animal Farm?” An avid Pink Floyd fan, my student spouted off a brief history.

Huh? You mean Roger Walters actually paid attention to his English teacher? He “got it”? Wow.

Our conversation inspired me to do a little digging to discover other music, inspired by lessons in literature.

  • Both David Bowie and Warren Zevon were inspired by the works of Lord Byron.
  • The Beatles included an image of Edgar Allan Poe on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and John Lennon referred to Poe in “I Am the Walrus.”
  • Both Tool and Brittany Spears referred to Poe’s “dream within a dream” in their works.
  • Christian ska band Five Iron Frenzy includes several quotes from “The Raven” in “That’s How the Story Ends,” and members of the Christian heavy metal / thrash band Tourniquet wrote “Tell-Tale Heart” as a tribute to Poe.
  • Sheryl Crow’s song “All I Wanna Do” was inspired by the poem “Fun” by Wyn Cooper.
  • “All along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan (and also recorded by Jimi Hendrix) was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The song also makes references to the Book of Isaiah.
  • Guns N Roses recorded the song “Catcher in the Rye,” inspired by J. D. Salinger’s novel by the same title.
  • Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was born from Albert Camus’s The Stranger.

Wayne Kirkpatrick has penned and co-penned numerous songs for artists of many genres—Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Little Big Town, Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, and many more, including Eric Clapton, who recorded a Grammy Song of the Year, “Change the World.”

I was talking to Wayne during an interview several years ago. Nay, I was gushing during the interview—I really admire him. I asked Wayne about songs from album The Maple Room, particularly “That’s Not New Age.”

Even today I’m intrigued by the song because, one, it responds to the religious critics who questioned his relationship with Christ just because of his art, and, two, it includes the following line: “This won’t be another Salem/That was inexcusible/You won’t be my Cotton Mather/And I won’t be your crucible.”

Wayne Kirkpatrick, thank you for reminding us we aren’t God and we can’t judge another because we can’t see into anyone else’s heart. Thank you for following your convictions. Thank you for listening to your English teacher. Thank you for appreciating literature.

So what’s the take away from this rant?

I can’t make my students like or even appreciate literature. But sometimes they do. It just may take them a while to digest what the writer has to say.

I’m not a famous or important anything, but I am somebody who benefitted from lovers of literature and writing.

Thank you, Charles K. Wolfe, for publishing my first work and inspiring me to write about music.

Thank you, Pat St. Clair, for inspiring my voracious appetite for grammar. Because of you, I’m confident I can write ANYTHING. My college professors told me so.

Thank you, Joyce McCullough, for Friday vocabulary tests that made me fall in love with words and for the little red journal in which I wrote all my thoughts. You wrote back to me. You were the first person to read my thoughts and to make me realize I might have something interesting to say.

Polyrhythmic ramblings

Polyrhythmic.

I love that word. I can’t do what the definition suggests, at least not musically, but I like the idea.

Polyrhythm refers to multiple beats or two or more independent rhythms sounding at one time.

I’m not a math person (though I went to a few math contests and took a few courses until I surrendered and they carried me out of analytical geometry on a stretcher.) But the more I get into looking at the creative side of math, the more appreciative I am of the discipline. Kudos to our math teachers. I think your love for numbers is much like the English teacher’s love for words.

Anyway, I am a writer, not a mathematician, but I’m also a fledgling guitar player. Sometimes the wires get crossed in my brain, and I think…differently. I have a “mash up” of my passions, and the result is a blog like this.

For me, creating a polyrhythm on guitar is difficult. But it sounds great. Beautiful. The two rhythms add texture to the song, make it more interesting, and communicate a deeper message, perhaps even on a subconscious level. (Research has shown that listening to music affects blood pressure, emotions, creativity, etc. Look it up. It’s fascinating to discover the creativity God has woven in math through patterns and equations.)

But anyway…on to my analogy and the new phrase I’ve coined. Polyrhythmic writing.

Actually there’s nothing new about it at all. (But if you ever hear that phrase again, tell them I thunk it up. I Googled it and found no reference to what I’m talking about.) Writers have added layers to their writing since the beginning. We comprehend on deeper levels that we realize.

 Jesus spoke in parables.

Shakespeare was the master of penning puns. (Another little nifty thing Shakespeare does in his writing is to switch from verse to prose. When? Why? Usually when the commoners spoke, Shakespeare wrote their words in prose. He save the more eloquent verse for his heroes.)

Edgar Allan Poe created his tour de force, “The Bells,” by layering alliteration, onomatopoeia, and tempo over metaphor and message.

I love writing. I love the rhythm of life that echoes through the words of a poem, a short story, a novel, and the lyrics of a song. But what I really love is polyrhythm in writing—the beautiful creation that occurs when a writer creates two or more distinct rhythms in one piece of writing.

I don’t think most writers set out to do it. I think it just happens. Kind of serendipitiously. God inspired, God driven, God designed. Perhaps.

I’ve heard writers say that after they’ve gone back later to re-read something they had written, only to discover a hidden message or a metaphor that had slipped in. Cool, isn’t it. I think so.

I do a lot of celebrity interviews. What makes my writing a little different is that I weave their story around the theme. It’s as if there are two stories, two rhythms, happening at once.

When I read a novel or watch my favorite show, I’m hooked by realistic characters with whom I can identify. I’ll keep reading if the plot is intriguing. But my overall reading experience can be compared to the way I might enjoy a meal—eating a Raider Rib in my high school cafeteria as opposed to sitting at the Blues City Café on Beale Street, listening to authentic blues and kissing my fingers after downing a half rack of real ribs.

You know what I’m talking about.

When writers play with their words, create texture, layer it with metaphors, or spice it up with subtext—just the right amount of each, too much overwhelms—then the reader can savor all the flavors, not wash it down with a carton of milk that’s pushing the date that’s stamped on the outside. There’s more going on that one simple beat. The mind picks up on the underlying rhythm.

Ever watch Castle? I love the twinkle in his eye when he delivers his one liners that are layered with double meaning. Two messages. Two rhythms occurring at the same time. Adds flavor. Yum.

I’m not sure how I got here–howI jumped from polyrhythms in music to polyrhythmic writing.

It wall started when I was trying to find the words to a song I wanted to write. When I can’t put my feelings into words, I usually put them into song. But I can’t always find the words. Especially if the feelings run too deep. In the words of Sugarland, they’re like “melodies stuck up in [my] head.” (I kind of dig that reggae-rap thing Jennifer Nettles does—kind of catchy.)

The next thing  I knew I was thinking about math. Then I was thinking about polyrhythms. Then I found myself on the Internet, Googling polyrhythms. And then I found Steve Vai’s article.

You remember Steve Vai, right? He’s the great guitar player who was in the 1986 Crossroads movie with Ralph Macchio. He was the devil’s guitar player.

Thinking about the movie made me think about the great blues player Robert Johnson. As the story goes, he made a deal with the devil at the crossroads.

And when I thought about the devil at the crossroads, I thought about teaching English to my eleventh grade students last year. We were studying “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving. I wanted to relate the story to something they could understand. I had a guitar player in my class, so I cpmpared the story to the movie Crossroads. “Scratch” was the name of the devil both in the story and the movie. We also compared the story to Charlie Daniel’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

And thinking about school made me think about what I’m doing right now. Sitting here with a guitar plugged into an amp waiting for me to pick it up and practice again. But the song that I can’t write keeps tugging at my heart. Arggg!

Life can be complicated. Underlying sadness topped with happiness here and there. Dreams mingled with reality. Yearning competing with responsibility. All of it wrapped in joy, though the joy may be tangled and hard to find at times.

Life is complicated. It doesn’t always make sense. But there is a rhythm to it, even if one beat is stacked atop another.

I guess that’s what makes life interesting.