My Song

This is not  a song for you.

I sing for you all the time.

Praises. Silly phrases.

Anything in rhyme.


But this verse has no purpose,

no reason to be.

This is not a lullaby.

I just wrote it for me.


This is not a chant for justice.

This is not a call for peace.

No demands, or reprimands.

Tonight nothing has to cease.


Tonight I am the only one,

who needs to hear the song.

This is not a chant for justice.

You don’t have to sing a along.


This is not a love song.

You know I love you so.

Heart’s desire, lit my fire

so many years ago.


Maybe I’l let you hear the tune.

But the words belong to me.

This is not a love song.

And this is not a chant for justice.

Oh and this is not a lullaby.

I just wrote it for me.









He sings

Little brother can’t get a word in edgewise.
Big sister is a talker, a performer, a deep thinker, a sly joker, a tantrum thrower.
His words are still mumbled, all jumbled, and soft.
When he wants something he whispers, “I wan dat one. Please.”

But if you ask him to, he sings.
He sings about pumpkins and apples and sheep.
He sings abcd (but gets lost in lmnop).
He sings happy birthday, he sings little star.
He sings if you let him, if there’s space,
if there’s silence to fill.
He sings words he can’t say yet.

He sings
and the words matter less
than the feeling inside them,
than the message they send,
than the stories they tell.
He sings.

I am the Child of Music

“Sing. Sing a song.  Sing out loud. Sing out strong.  Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.  Just sing. Sing a song. “ – Sesame Street

I am the Music Hour Lady.  One hour of the day, one day a month, for the last two years I have led babies, toddlers, and other stay at home moms in song.  “Stomp your feet. Clap your hands. Everybody ready for a barnyard dance.” I talk to the children in a cheerful sing song voice.  I belt out nonsense lyrics at the top of my voice, with my son tucked on my hip. “I like to oat, oat, oat, opples and banonos.” I row my pretend boat around the room, going faster, and faster, and faster. I feel like I am 6 years old again, older than the babies, but still little enough to truly love this moment. But I am not 6 years old.  I am the Music Hour Lady.

I am the Hot Guitar Playing Indian Chick.  I sit in the stairwell of my dorm with my guitar.  I am learning to play my favorites – Dar Williams, Indigo Girls, Patty Griffin.  Sometimes I sing at the open mic night on campus.  I know I am not the best singer or guitar player.  My friends who play are serious and I’m pretty sure that they will keep Doing Music for the rest of their lives. My songs are for me.  “I fell in love with the man in the moon. And that man can ride a dragon.”    They are there for me when I need them.  I write songs when the mood strikes. “Turn around and your standing there, stalking me.”  but I forget to write them down. “Grandma wears bangles. Gold on paper skin.” They are just for now, just for here. 

I am the Drum Major.  “We’re not #5, not #4, #3, #2.  We’re #1. CHS!”   The football team is not doing so well this season, but it doesn’t matter.  The band will be there to cheer them on. I raise my arms up in the air. “Horns up!” Let’s give the crowd something to cheer about.  At halftime we march onto the field.  I step up on the podium.  I feel the eyes of a hundred musicians on me.  When I move, the dance begins. Bodies swirl across the field, and music pours into the stadium.  We are the screensaver for the game. We maintain the energy and enthusiasm of the fans until the second half.  We are the Concord high school marching band.

I am the Child of Music. It is late at night, but I am still awake. It is the summer after 1st grade. I am in an apartment in Madras in India. The air is heavy like a thick wet blanket. The room is open with very little furniture.  My head is resting on my mother’s lap. My father sits on the floor across from us, a guitar in his hands. There are a dozen or so others in the room,  women in colorful saris and salwar kameez, men in pants and short sleeve button down shirts.  Everyone’s feet are bare. Everyone sits on the floor. Some clutch knees to their bodies. Others legs splay out at their sides. Some sit cross legged and upright.  I am sleepy.  The room has been filled with music all night. My father finished singing and playing a moment ago. “I am just a poor boy though my story is seldom told. ”  Now it is my mother’s turn.  She clears her throat first like she always does.  She rubs my head gently. She closes her eyes as she sings.  “Mere ghar aye ek naan paare.”  It is a lullabye of sorts, my favorite. She sings of a beautiful fairy who appears at her window.  Everyone around her sighs.  I nestle my head into the space between her waist and her thigh and fall asleep. The night of music has just begun.

My secret identities

When you see me on the street alone I am: woman, 30 something, brown-skinned, able-bodied, cis-gendered, middle-class.  If I am with my husband and kids you may also see: mother, heterosexual, and married. Hear me speak you may think: American. These categories have meaning as I walk through the world, it’s true. But I have some secret identities too. The ones that tell you who the “I” inside is.  Here they are in random order:

1. Singer of Songs: If there were still bards, I would be one. I spend one morning a month leading a Music Hour for one year olds. I can sing every word of every song in Mary Poppins, and will do so without provocation. I am the annoying person who sings along to every song on the radio, even the ones I don’t know.  I learned to play guitar just well enough to accompany myself when I sing. Song is in every cell of my body.  I am song and song is me.

2. Meddler Extraordinaire:  My favorite character on How I Met Your Mother is Lily because she cannot stop meddling AND she’s awesome at it.  Tell me your troubles and I will try to find a way to fix them. If I can’t fix them, I will find someone who can.  If you don’t know what you’re troubles are, I will tell you in the sweetest, kindest, most condescending way possible.  What can I say? I am just cool like that.

3. Accessory Navicular Survivor:  Why do museums make me sleepy before I’ve even gotten in the door? Why does shopping make me want to throw a tantrum? Why do I always say, “Is there a rabid dog chasing me? Then I’m not running.”   I always thought I was just too lazy to run, or too stupid for museums, or too unfashionable to care about shopping. Turns out, I have this extra bone in my foot that causes intermittent foot pain. I’ve had this recurring foot pain all my life. It sucked and still does, but at least now I know what it’s all about. True story.

My secret identities  are much better predictors of what I will do in a given situation (i.e. sing “The Rose” in the middle of the playground, ask about your relationship with your mother, sit on a bench at the Van Gogh exhibit) than any of those other things.  What are your secret identites?