Monday, April 25, 2022

The World's Worst Earworm

Summer must be very near because the Mister Softee trucks patrol the neighborhood.  At least there is one of them wandering around here.  It makes its presence known by broadcasting the world’s worst earworm:  the Mister Softee Ice Cream Truck Song.

That little tinkly tune goes into your ears, heads for your brain, winds its way around and then loses its way out.  In other words, it won’t leave, and it plays itself again and again in a maddening loop.

Singing it out loud doesn’t help, and doing that simply makes the tune dig deeper into your brain.  Singing another melody to yourself gives temporary relief, but once you stop singing the new song, the Mister Softee song comes back stronger than ever.  Either that, or the latest song becomes a new earworm, and everything is as wrong as ever.  In other words, don’t bother trying this remedy.  You’ll drive yourself crazy.

Another option is to try to forget about the song by getting busy doing something that has nothing to do with ice cream, trucks, or music.  Don’t bother.  The jingle will continue to sing itself in your brain even while you are doing dishes, playing on the computer, or doing whatever task you can think of. 

All things must end, and the Mister Softee song will eventually die in your brain – until the truck comes lilting by again.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Growing Up Minicozzi: School Days

WARNING:  This is going to be another serious essay.  Please don’t say I didn’t tell you.

It has taken me a lifetime of spiritual and psychological growth to overcome the mental and emotional problems I had as a kid.  I was a pathologically shy, homely, unpopular child who couldn’t stop daydreaming.  It was an attention deficit without hyperactivity.  I would check out mentally, like Walter Mitty in the famous short story by James Thurber.  As you can imagine, this caused problems and sometimes embarrassment when I missed something going on around me because my mind had been twenty million miles away.  In addition, I was so shy that I was afraid to approach other kids.  The result was that other kids ignored me and found me weird.  I was not invited to parties.  I never went to a dance.  I never had a date.  My self-esteem was so bad that it never occurred to me that any boy would find me attractive.

With one exception, I was never bullied, for which I am thankful.  That exception occurred in the Seventh Grade when a mischievous kid named Jim was seated behind me in the last seat in our row.  Across from Jim sat Tim, who, unfortunately, provided an audience for Jim when he was tormenting me.  Jim’s favorite trick was to poke me in the ribs and make me twitch, feeding him and his buddy with loads of silent hilarity across the aisle.  My Mom always told me to ignore people who were bothering me because they would stop if I didn’t give them any attention.  I believed her.  I never responded to Jim or confronted him.  It didn’t work.  My lack of response only made the hilarity stronger.  Eventually, the teacher took pity on me and moved Jim to another seat in front of the room, where she could keep an eye on him.  He never bothered me again after that.

I went through elementary school as a class outcast, but I managed to make friends with a couple of other girls who were also outside the school hierarchy, and they became my best friends.  When I was in the Seventh Grade, my singing voice was discovered when I was asked to sing a phrase in class.  My Seventh Grade teacher reported this discovery to my piano teacher, who arranged for me to be accepted as a voice student in a local music school with a partial scholarship.  Music was my savior.  Here was something I could do, a talent that only a couple of the other kids had.  It was something on which I could focus and on which I could attach some ambition and dreams.  It started my journey toward becoming an opera singer, which would be my life’s vocation.  That is a subject of another essay for another time.

High school was no different from elementary school.  My shyness was beginning to lift a little, but not enough, and a lifetime of being cut off from other kids had created habits of isolation that were hard to break.  In addition, life at home with an alcoholic father could be hellish at times.  My friendships with my two friends continued, and so did my singing lessons.  These two things probably saved me from ending up in a mental hospital.  Something happened at the end of my junior year, though, which caused me a lot of hurt, to the point where I switched in my senior year and attended a different high school.

It was a tradition in our school for the outgoing senior class to “will” things to the junior class.  These would not be anything really tangible; they would be nostalgic, funny, or sentimental.  I was the only member of the junior class who was left out.  Nobody “willed” me anything.  I sat in the gymnasium, where the assembly was, waiting to hear my name called.  I waited in vain.  I cried on the bus all the way home, trying to hide my tears from the other riders.

In the high school to which I transferred in my senior year, I was not any more popular, but there were theatrical and musical activities that kept me busy enough.

We often wish we could go back to our younger days, knowing what we know now.  I wish I could show my younger self what I have now become and get her to believe that she was beautiful, valuable, capable, and, yes, likable.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Growing Up Minicozzi

WARNING:  This is one of my serious essays.  It isn't funny.  You are welcome to read on, however.

You’d never know it to look at me now, but I was a shy, awkward, and unpopular child.  I got off to a bad start with the other kids and stayed that way throughout school and beyond.  I was never actively hated.  Nobody bullied me, at least most of the time.  But I was studiously ignored by the other kids and sometimes ridiculed.  I wasn’t invited to parties.  I never attended a dance, including proms.  I never had a date.  It never occurred to me that any boy would find me attractive.

I had no self-esteem whatsoever, some of which was due to my father’s verbal abuse, which was considerable.  He was an alcoholic, and when he had been drinking, he could get very mean with us.  To his friends, he was the life of the party.  He was verbally abusive to those of us he was supposed to love.  I thank God he never hit any of us.  He stuck to words, but he might as well have beat us because his words hurt, and they left emotional scars, some of which I am still trying to deal with at age 76.  He was a good man when he was sober, but he was a mean drunk as far as his family was concerned.

(No, Dad, I never played tackle for the 49ers.  I have always been a big girl and a big lady, but I was a GIRL, and I became a WOMAN.  Attacking my femininity because of my size was not cool.)

In my Dad’s defense, I have some good memories of him.  He would sometimes sit at the piano with me, and we would sing popular songs together.  He had a pleasant baritone voice, and it was fun to sing with him.  It was a good way of bonding.  We even had some nice talks sometimes.  So yes, there were good times, too.

My Dad passed away in his 50s from what started as lung cancer.  When he was in the hospital dying, I traveled back across the country to see him for one last time.  Cancer and chemotherapy had reduced him to skin and bones, and the full head of hair he always had was gone.  I would not have recognized him if I had not known who it was lying there in that bed.  At one point, I took his hand and held it.  I was never sure if he recognized me.  But I think he was waiting for me.  When I got back to my home in Boston, I was told he had passed on.  I couldn’t travel back across the country for his funeral, so I missed it.  But I’m glad I got to visit him in his last days, hold his hand, and maybe be recognized by him.

This started out to be about my school days, but I digressed.  That can happen sometimes.  Maybe my next essay will be about my school days.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Master Class

My senior center offered me a year’s membership to the Master Class website free of charge.  Of course, I took advantage of this offer.  The site offers a cornucopia of courses taught by famous, highly successful people.  As a would-be writer, I found this too tempting to pass up.  Where else could I get classes taught by the likes of David Sedaris and Joyce Carol Oates?  I lept at the chance.

In my defense, I have taken the complete course offered by David Sedaris.  I found it very informative and David Sedaris very captivating.  I have also begun to take Joyce Carol Oates’ class.  However, I have that one on “pause” right now.  Instead, I went through a course in comedy by Steve Martin.  I have no ambition to become a standup comedian.  The idea of standing in front of an audience trying to be funny gives me royal conniptions.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love performing.  I have spent most of my adult life as a professional opera and concert singer.  I just don’t like the kind of performing where you have to talk extemporaneously instead of singing and where people can talk back to you if they don’t like you.  So why did I go all the way through a course by Steve Martin?  If you know the answer to that question, please tell me.

I am now going through a course in Country Music taught by Reba McEntire.  I don’t sing country music.  I like it, but I don’t sing it.  I have an operatic voice, and any attempt by me to sing in country style sounds ridiculous.  So why do I find this course fascinating while Joyce Carol Oates’ class is still on hold?  Again, please don’t ask me.  You’ll just get a silly answer.

I think my next class will be on writing or something related to it.  After all, my year’s subscription to the site will expire, and I will have to decide if I want to pay their yearly price and continue.  I’d better get all the writing instruction I can before the decision-making time comes if I choose to be frugal for a change.

In the meantime, Reba McEntire will still tell me how to sing country music, whether I plan to do it or not.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Winter in Spring, 2022

Our weather has gone crazy.  Blame global warming for this, I guess.  Something is screwy.  Here it is, late March, and we have had two days of winter weather, complete with snow flurries, after experiencing the beginning of spring.  What the ....  What is up?

Sitting in my apartment, I am wearing a lightweight muumuu barefoot because it is so warm here with the heat on that bundling up is not an option.  If I wanted to deal with my stuck windows, I could open them and get some fresh, cool air.  I long for the usual winter draft through my back door, except it is not coming through there right now.  Winter drafts are like police officers because they’re never around when you need one.

Of course, this means that I can’t go outside for a walk or even a few minutes of fresh air unless I want to bundle up in a coat and socks, which I am reluctant to do to step outside the apartment for a few minutes on a day when it should be spring.


In addition, our building has re-instated a mask directive.  This means that I have to remember to put a mask on my face, even if all I am doing is going to the lobby on my floor to check my mail.

I guess I’ll stay inside here and moan.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The World According to Harmony the Cat

In any dispute with the human(s) of the house, the opinions and desires of the cat take precedence.  The cat is the undisputed ruler of the premises, otherwise known as the territory.  There are no exceptions to this.

The house or apartment, and everything in it, belong to the cat.  The cat allows the human(s) to live there and use the furniture and other items because humans are useful.  They have opposable thumbs, capable of opening cans of food and performing other tasks for which cats are not designed.

The cat is permitted to hog the bed and any comfortable chair.  Again, there are no exceptions to this.  The cat is also allowed to hop onto tables and any other surfaces, as long as the cat is capable of jumping high enough.

The cat may stick her nose into anything that excites her curiosity, including purses, bags, and cardboard boxes.  Any cardboard box or paper packing material is for the use of the cat until she tires of it.

Humans make perfect pillows, and it is essential to use them.  The cat must pin the human down so they cannot move until the cat is good and ready to get up.  Alternatively, the cat may lie on top of the human’s head, although this isn’t as soft as other parts.

The cat is entitled to treats whenever she wants them.  If the human(s) is(are) unwilling to dispense unlimited amounts of goodies, the cat is allowed to use blackmail to obtain them.  This includes threatening to run out the door when the human opens it and refusing to move from a human’s favorite chair unless the human brings out the treat container and gives some to the cat.

As seen from all the above examples, the cat must train the human(s) to live in harmony with them.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Journal Entry for March 27, 2022

Well, I’m tired.  I should be exhausted.  I sang two Masses in church this morning, after which I attended a meeting in another church building, then walked home.  I fed Harmony the Cat, changed into something comfortable, ate some lunch, and had a phone conversation with my friend Joan, who wanted to know about the meeting.  Then I collapsed on my bed and fell asleep while watching “Gone With the Wind” on TV.  Now I am awake and writing this.  Under normal circumstances, my Sundays are not so busy, but today was an exception.

Watching “Gone With the Wind” for the umpteenth time, I can’t help but wonder what would possess that silly bitch Scarlett O’Hara to moon and long over Ashley Wilkes when she had Rhett Butler to lust after.  If I were her, I would have considered Ashley’s marriage to Melanie a sign I should ditch him, especially with Rhett Butler hanging around just waiting to be grabbed.  Someone should have taken Scarlett and shaken some sense into her.  But then there wouldn’t have been such a good story.  Oh well.  You take the bad with the good.  Thank you, Margaret Mitchell.

The April edition of The Corlear Gardens Newsletter, of which I am the editor and head of the newsletter committee, is ready to be printed and distributed.  This is after I pestered two of my contributors to get their work in on time.  Then, when I emailed the “final” version to all contributors, some of them wanted corrections.  I had to go into the original several times, make the corrections, turn the document into a PDF so that everyone could open and read it, and send it out to everyone once again.  By now, it seems that everyone is happy.  I will send the final version tomorrow to be printed and distributed to the people in this building.  After that, my work will be done until the time for the May edition.

Now that I have written this, I can officially collapse.

The World's Worst Earworm

Summer must be very near because the Mister Softee trucks patrol the neighborhood.   At least there is one of them wandering around here.   ...