My life is a song
A partial autobiography by
Amber Marie Smyth Alexander
Like most people in my life, any major event or moment can be defined in a song. When I was a baby it was “Tiny Bubbles” that would calm me. When I was older I remember dancing in the kitchen and living room with my Dad to “Man in the Mirror” or Aerosmith or Journey. My favorite road trip game, or car game in general, was a song we played called “Let’s find a song Amber DOESN’T know.” In High School the defining songs for my teenage angst were songs like “Numb” by Linkin Park or “Perfect” by Simple Plan. Aside from that my High School years were spent in the poppy bubble of groups like the Backstreet Boys, *NSync, 98* and the like. When my Great Grandma died my Sophomore year I listened to the same Hanson song on repeat for days. “With You In Your Dreams” helped me get through the loss of someone important to me. Then again my mood would change, and the music would change with it. Classic Rock, Eminem, Meatloaf, or whatever my Dad recommended from his vast music collection, like Ian Anderson, Megadeth, or Trick Pony.
My life played out in music. When I went to Boot Camp after High School music went with me. It was mostly locked in my head for 10 weeks, but “Anchors Aweigh” was sung with gusto and “God Bless The USA” got yet another meaning for me. At Pass-In-Review they played a song that I can’t remember who the artist is, but I remember every word of the lyrics. Even now, 12 years after my High School Graduation and my Navy Pass-In-Review I remember the lyrics to songs I’ve long since forgotten the names of. I’m almost 30 now, but sometimes I remember songs and the attached memories. Some are long forgotten, some are more recent, but every moment is earmarked by music.
- “How Can We Be Lovers?” ~ dancing in the backyard with my brother and my best friend Staci
- “Objects In The Rearview Mirror (May Appear Closer Than They Are)” ~ following my Mom in a record store, at age 8, and begging for Bat Out of Hell 2. Scandalizing my Grandmother when she asked what I wanted for Christmas that year and proudly announcing the name of the Meatloaf CD I’d asked my Mother for.
- “Long December” ~ The first CD I ever got from a radio station. Followed that weekend by Elton John and Garth Brooks from my Great Grandma.
- “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” ~ Feeling my heart stutter as I had my first celebrity crush on someone with brown eyes. (and I still LOVE AJ McLean…le sigh)
- “No Strings Attached” ~ reconnecting with the sister I hadn’t seen in 4 years and writing a truly horrible excuse for fan fiction after a dream she had.
- “No One Else Comes Close” ~ Inspired a truly wonderful piece of Fan Fiction that made me realize that I wanted to be a writer.
- “I Will Remember You” ~ High School Graduation and when I thought I’d met the love of my life.
- “The Reason” ~ The song that helped me get over that relationship
- “Get Low” ~ “A” School in Chicago, long bus rides, and having fun
- “Me and Emily” ~ the birth of my beautiful baby girl
- “Sex in the Kitchen” ~ Long days in the galley aboard the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and my fellow cooks.
- “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” ~ Field daying said galley after a 14 hour shift….I hate deployment
- “What’s Left of Me” ~ The entire relationship with the Marine who is my son’s father
- “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” ~ moving back to Michigan after I got out of the Navy
- “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” ~ The song I sang to my son at night
- “You Can Let Go Now Daddy” ~ When my Grandpa died. I miss the Old Man.
- “Echo” ~ the song that got me through my parents divorce and all of the bad blood that existed at the time
- “Misguided Ghosts” ~ my song when I knew my gypsy soul was ready to move on.
- “King of Anything” ~ finally letting myself make decisions for me and my kids, not the decisions I thought my parents wanted me to make.
- “Amazing Grace” ~ when my Grandma died a few weeks after I moved across the country.
- “Don’t Stop Believing” ~ the night I met the man who would become my husband.
- “Over The Rainbow” ~ When my favorite teacher at the Business Technology Center died suddenly just after Spring Break
- “Never Gone” ~ The song I sang at the funeral of my hero. My Great Grandmother was everything.
- “Simple Man” ~ the song I played on repeat when my Uncle died and I couldn’t go home and be with the cousins who are closer to being a little sister and brother.
- “We Are Gonna Be Friends” ~ the first Ludi Appolinaris and the dance I did with my Parabati.
- “It’s Fine By Me” ~ the song I danced to with my husband at our wedding
- “Carry On My Wayward Son” ~ Supernatural binges with friends
- “The Christians and the Pagans” ~ Bonfires in my Backyard
- “Cotton Eye Joe” ~ Samhain 2014 and the Circle’s 1 year anniversary!
- “Sincerely Yours”~ The song I listened to to make me feel better after my Grandpa died and I felt oddly disconnected because we hadn’t spoken in years because he didn’t know who I was anymore
- “Rock On” ~ helping my little sister get ready to move across the country, and helping her be strong in the face of negativity.
- “When It Rains It Pours” ~ what I listen to when I think about my Dad and the fact that he’s been in the hospital for months and who knows if he’ll come home.
- “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of” ~ My 6 Beautiful Children.
- “Et Al” ~ Writing motivation and memories of why I started this story to begin with. Thanks Hookerabati.
- “Pass Me A Smoke” ~ Writing inspiration for the sad stuff
- “Plead the Fifth” ~ the song I’m listening to as I write this.
Recently music is my motivation for everything. Especially since sometimes my life feels like it’s falling apart. There is always a song. When I”m worried about my Dad, who’s been in the hospital since Thanksgiving, or my Stepmom, who is just getting worse health wise and won’t quit smoking and tries to use my little sister as a pawn. It’s especially hard because I’m all the way across the country and can’t protect my little brother and sister from watching their respective parents waste away towards death. Hell, even if I was there I couldn’t stop it and there isn’t much I could do anyway. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by that, I listen to “A Single Man Tear” from the 200th episode of Supernatural because I know the feeling and I relate. I call it my Dean Winchester Syndrome.
Then there are days like today where Jayden gets suspended, again (#4), and gets another citation (#15 since November) and I feel like I’m losing my mind trying to figure out how to help this kid and I just have to take a breath and listen to “Roll WIth It”
Mostly I get overwhelmed by my powerlessness. My inability to do anything. Days when everything piles up. Like school suspensions, Dad’s impending surgery (another one), the fact that my Great Grandma got a literal broken back for her 94th birthday, the house needs to be cleaned, the kids need dinner, and I just need a hug from my husband who has been at work all day. And a conversation that doesn’t revolve around hospitals, or homework, or ADHD and ODD, or the upcoming talent show, or chores, or clean clothes, or new shoes, or that we need a new mop. But when my husband gets home those are the conversations we’ll have before he goes to play video games with the kids, since he’s gone all day for most of the week, and I’ll go smoke and read with my $30 Supernatural headphones on and my 200+ music playlist that is a little bit of it all. After the kids go to be, I’ll stay up with my husband and read while he does homework, or plays video games because that’s our life. Then we’ll go to bed, curl up together, and sleep under seperate blankets because he’s too hot and I’m too cold. Then we’ll get up tomorrow and do it all again. Well C’est la vie. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m just glad there’s music to get me through. So for now, “Do Your Thing”