Tag Archives: music

Memories: The Impact 89 FM @ 30


I may have only ever broadcast on The Fix, but my short stint as a DJ during my senior year at Michigan State left a lasting impression.  My only regret:  I didn’t get involved earlier (as in as soon as I hit MSU’s campus as a freshman).  I came across this video created for The Impact’s 30th anniversary, and it brought back all kinds of wonderful memories.

The Fix is the online training radio station for The Impact 89 FM:  MSU’s student radio station.

As soon as I watched the video, I thought of how much fun I had playing Modest Mouse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes, My Chemical Romance, the White Stripes – among so many others.  I thought of all the late nights and early mornings I put in just for pure fun.  Count me among the many misfits that just loved music.  They give us a shout out in the video.  How did I forget how much I love alternative?  This list sums up some of my favorites from high school and college.

 

The Day I Became a Teacher

At this point, I’ve logged hundreds of hours in the classroom due to fieldwork, student teaching, and substitute teaching. As a sub, there isn’t much I haven’t done K-12. Yes, I’ve even subbed kindergarten, although I now avoid if I can. It isn’t that I don’t like young students. I do, and some of the best days I’ve spent subbing have been in 1st grade. I can understand why my great-aunt loved teaching 1st grade so much. The problem is that many kindergartners don’t quite get school yet. The whole idea of a substitute teacher throws them off, and it can become a nightmare if you don’t do things in exactly the same way as their regular classroom teacher. One would think that by now I would feel like a teacher, especially after completing student teaching. Well, I didn’t fully realize that I didn’t until Friday, March 10th, 2017 – the day I became a teacher.

There is some background I can’t get into, but it is enough to know that on that particular Friday, I headed to Oscoda High School to support a student performing with the Pinconning High School Band. They were competing against several other local high school bands. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction of some of my former students (from my experience student teaching at Pinconning Middle School/High School). As most of the classes I had during student teaching involved 8th graders, I hadn’t expected to see many of my former students that day. I was wrong. I saw several of my former students, and one look on their faces made me realize how much they appreciated the fact that I came to watch them perform. One student even caught up with me in the parking lot as I was leaving. He just wanted to thank me for coming out to support them. The funny thing is that I hadn’t even thought about that when I had decided to go. I am glad that I had the opportunity to support them though. They certainly deserve it.

What I call the public part of teaching always takes me by surprise. It really shouldn’t. My mom taught all throughout my childhood, and due to the fact that she knew so many people in our small town (not only did she spend most of her teaching career at the same elementary school, she had grown up in the same town as well), it always took us much longer to do the grocery shopping after school. I dreaded having to run errands with her as she always ended up talking with someone when all I wanted to do is go home. It didn’t take long for the same thing to happen to me. It took me by surprise then, and it takes me by surprise now. For whatever reason, that experience at Oscoda High School will stay with me. When I finished my student teaching, many of my students were sad to see me go. I reassured them that I would be back as a substitute teacher, and yet, this semester it hasn’t worked out (yet) for me to sub at Pinconning Middle School/High School. At least I had the opportunity to see a few of them that day. I will always consider March 10th, 2017 the day I truly became a teacher. It reminded me of why I decided to become a teacher after all these years:  The students.

“The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets” By Eva Rice

Book Review:  “The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets” By Eva Rice – Write Meg!

Lost Art

Even though I read The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice several years ago now, it never really left the back of my mind.  On the surface, it is dishy and a guilty pleasure in the best sense of the term.  As easy as it is to write off as a beach read, there has to be something more there in order for it to stick with me for so long.  That is partly why it stuck with me:  I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is about this book that fascinates me.  I finally think I have it figured out.  The book itself is set in post-war, 1950s London.  While there are still vivid memories of World War II and the Blitz, there is a contagious sense of renewal, hope, and general optimism throughout the book.

That atmosphere, used effectively as a backdrop for an interesting group of teenage characters (Penelope and Inigo Wallace, Charlotte Ferris and her cousin Harry), allows them to shine and adds to the excitement of early rock and roll in London.  So much of the novel revolves around the music!  Inigo is obsessed with Elvis, while Penelope and Charlotte adore Johnnie Ray.  In fact, one of the pivotal events in the novel involves a Johnnie Ray concert at the London Palladium.  I can just imagine the excitement and what it meant to be a teenage girl waiting to see your rock and roll idol in concert.

I think that is why I love this novel so much.  It takes place during a period of time that influenced the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and countless others.  The music I know and love simply wouldn’t exist without the likes of Elvis, Little Richard, or Johnnie Ray.  Knowing the history of rock and roll and what takes place in the late 1950s and early 1960s makes this book that much sweeter.  I definitely need to reread it.

London Palladium, 1950

London Palladium, 1950

Personal Heroes

Little Richard

We all have personal heroes, whether we want to admit it or not.  Personally, most of mine are people I know well in real life, but there are exceptions.  One huge exception for me is the Beatles, Paul McCartney in particular.  There are bands and musicians I like, and then there are the Beatles.  I bring this up because a friend of mine just lost one of hers on Monday:  David Bowie.  In fact, she wrote a moving piece on what his music, and more importantly, his persona, meant to her on Facebook.  I get it; I truly do.

The thing is, until he passed away, I never thought of David Bowie or his music that much, although my friend’s enthusiasm for his music is contagious.  Now that I have a better understanding of what his music represented and the risks he took with his career, not to mention the generations of artists he inspired, I can say that David Bowie belongs alongside people like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and yes, the Beatles, in a category all their own.  All of those artists broke barriers, created – or helped to create – new genres of music.  They also crossed genres and inspired new generations of musicians.

So why do we care so much about people we’ve never met?  I think that is part of the mystery of art, music in particular.  We feel as though we know the artists when we’ve spent decades listening, discussing, and analyzing their work.  We invest so much time and energy in the things we love – art, books, music, TV, films, etc. – that when their creator dies, a part of the magic is gone.  For example, in my life, there was never the possibility of a Beatles reunion.  John Lennon died ten days before I was born.  My generation will always wonder what Kurt Cobain would have accomplished musically with or without Nirvana had he lived.  Instead of wondering what an artist will do next, after his or her death, fans are left with a finite catalog of music, writing, films, paintings, etc.  There is nothing new to discover, only memories of what it felt like to await a new release.

Refining My Creative Process

art love

Cultivating the Creative Process – Ellen Vrana

If you happen to be a writer, you are missing out if you are not reading Ellen Vrana’s blog.  It is simply beautiful, and yet relatable.  In other words, it makes me want to run off to London.  In this particular post, she addresses an issue that I’ve thought about quite a bit lately:  How place affects the creative process.  After Christmas, I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of my local writer friends for lunch.  Our conversation made me realize that I am in a place where I need to seek out new places to write.  One’s surroundings affect the writing process, and I need to do something new.

As a student, I seemed to naturally seek out places to study that both feed my creativity and allow me to focus on the tasks at hand.  As an undergrad at Michigan State, I absolutely had the best of both worlds.  When I needed creativity and wanted to dream, I could head over to the women’s resource room in the MSU Union.  It is simply a large, beautiful room set aside for women to study in silence.  Occupying one corner of the Union building, its windows overlook the approach to Beaumont Tower and some of the most beautiful parts of MSU’s gorgeous campus.  Best of all, if I needed a change, the energy of the rest of the building was just outside the door, the type of energy that can only be found on a bustling college campus.  If I needed to concentrate on simply getting a project completed, there was always the business library.  No distracting beautiful views, just a quiet cubicle that allowed me to shut out the rest of the world while I worked, without all of the social aspects of MSU’s main library.

Today, as I finish up my second experience as an undergraduate student, I find myself doing the same thing.  There are places on both SVSU and Delta College’s campuses, their libraries, where I know I can go when I need to concentrate wholeheartedly on the task at hand.  What is lacking is a writing space where I can feed off of the energy.  This is precisely why I would feel right at home living near a college or university.  Instead, I live in the smallest city in Michigan.  There are no true coffee shops where I could spend an afternoon just watching people and maybe write a word or two.  There are no places to really just spend time alone in public.  In my quest to find such a space, I’ve tried two small local libraries.  Unfortunately, they are too quiet for my taste, and they are not particularly comfortable.  If I want that much silence, I might as well be comfortable at home.

As I spend this year concentrating on the very idea of home, developing my own creative writing process is just as much part of my concept of home as my bedroom.  If I am ever going to succeed as a writer, I need to explore my creative process and how physical space affects it.  Given that I live in such a rural area, I may have to get creative.  Without internet access, such a task would become much more difficult.  Fortunately, I also draw a lot of my inspiration from music as well.  I would be lost without my playlists.

What Ellen does so well in her blog post is explain the difference between inspiration as a writer and the actual physical task of writing.  Maybe it is because of our shared heritage (her father and my mother are first cousins), but I can imagine her writing process working well for me too.  I can relate to drawing inspiration from experiences in the city and writing in the country.  This is why I renewed my passport this summer even though I have no plans to travel at the moment.  Much of my inspiration has always been drawn from the very idea of travel, of being able to reinvent oneself and start over.  The idea of having my passport handy is enough.  Throughout all of my study abroad experiences at Michigan State, I wanted desperately to capture it all in writing.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as I planned, although there were a few exceptions during my time in Spain.  Quite simply, there was too much to take in, too much going on to capture it well.  Now that I have the desire, time, and space to write, the inspiration isn’t as immediate.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find what works for me in 2016. untold story