Where Have All The Summer Songs Gone?

Where Have All The Summer Songs Gone?

Sorry ya’ll, this one is rough. The writer’s block struggle is real. Just work through this with me and we’ll get through it together!

Though it may not feel like it when it comes to the weather (30 degrees in May, WTF is this place?) but summer is coming. The school semester is almost over and when I lived in Florida, this was the time I started to put together the perfect tanning playlist with all the songs that reminded me of summer, and all the songs that were supposed to be big “summer” songs. Even though the Ithaca weather has not been cooperating, I’m still trying to get in that summer mood and look for songs that have that summer vibe.

Have you looked on iTunes right now though? All the new songs are SLOW. Summer songs need to be upbeat, fun, and occasionally have the word summer in them somewhere. Slow songs are for January and February, when everyone is cold and depressed.

Summer songs are the ones you blast when you can open the windows for the first time in months. When I lived at home my room was in the basement, and I remember turning my boombox radio on and Nsync’s  “Pop” was playing so loud, I would open the window and that fresh air smell would come in, I would take a deep breath of it, wet dirt and budding flowers, the breeze was like a warm hug. It was the time of year where I’d clean every inch of my room. I had a vanity filled perfumes and lotions that I barely used, but I’d use this one lavender hand lotion when the weather was just right, my hands would smell like spring. As I get older, whenever I smell lavender I think of pigtails and roll on glitter and jean overalls, the strum of Incubus “Drive”.

My first year in college, driving down country roads with the windows down, I’d listen to Justin Timberlake’s Future/Sex Love Sounds album, the volume so loud my heart beat changed to the beat of the songs. “Love Stoned/I Think She Knows” was the best when the sun was the highest in the sky, my elbow resting on the door. Seriously that transition between songs is AMAZING.

One summer after we moved to our second apartment in Florida, we got annual passes to Universal Studios and on the weekends when Marc was working I would walk to the park on the weekends and go to the summer concerts. I would craft the perfect playlist, depending on who the performer was that weekend, walking down Kirkman Road with my headphones in and the sweat sliding down my back, the sun burning my shoulders and my face. The sidewalk was my runway, Flo Rida’s “Low” would be blasting and I’d hear Tyra Banks cheering me on, “Smize!” “Do the booty tooch!” I’d pretend Miss Jay was critiquing my runway walk, I was in a fashion show for one, wearing hot pink basketball shorts, beat up tennis shoes, a harry potter t-shirt and a white baseball hat. My hair would be sticking to the sides of my face, I’d look at my reflection in the windows of the McDonald’s, lip synching to “Blurred Lines”.

Maybe it’s a little early for me to be looking for good summer songs, but I’ve been checking iTunes every Friday and so far nothing but slow songs. Harry Styles? Slow song. Katy Perry’s new songs? Um no. New Linkin Park? BORING. Where is the next “Shake it Off” or “Cool for the Summer”?! Am I going to be dragging the Chain Smokers “Closer” from LAST YEAR all the way to this summer? Because I don’t know if I can handle it anymore. We could use “Paris” but that’s still a little slow. It’s missing that summer sound. I’ve been using “Can’t Stop The Feeling” as my alarm song since it came out last year. Marc HATES 5:30 AM because he can’t take JT anymore.

Ya know, I love Adele, but I blame her. She makes millions off of slow depressing music. She is such a sweet person and I love listening to her talk and she’s so FUNNY. Like my girl Kelly Clarkson (who has SO MANY SUMMER WORTHY SONGS I can’t list them all, but we can start with “Miss Independent” OR anything from From Justin to Kelly, that movie oozes of summer with a hint of failed careers (I’m looking at you Mr. Guarini), but anyway, Adele, girl, you made everyone want to write sad songs to win Grammys even though no one can do that but you cause you are so talented no one can reach you. So tell everyone to go back to singing their bubble gum pop. Everyone is so miserable with life right now; music doesn’t need to be miserable too.

You know what I think has great potential for being a summer hit? “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber. I know, Bieber is a tool, but I LOVE that kid’s music. I just keep giving him my money to be a jerk and make good music. I am part of that problem, I accept it. I also think “Stay” by Zedd and Alessia Cara has summer possibilities, maybe “Hey Ma” by Pitbull with my girl former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. I have high hopes for her, but that performance on the MTV Movie awards last night just was not strong enough. She looked fab though.

Maybe it’s just too early and I’m so desperate for warm weather that I’m expecting my summer songs in May when they are waiting until June. What do you think? Please share your fave summer songs with me!

Nugs Not Drugs

Nugs Not Drugs

I’ve been thinking about Higgins Lake a lot lately. I think it’s because Ithaca reminds me of it. Also, Facebook’s On This Day thing brought up a status the other day from like 10 years ago where I was like “misses Higgins Lake.” I was so intense back then.

Marc and I sometimes walk to Cayuga Lake and I’ll be standing there with the breeze tangling itself in my hair and the waves gulping up rocks and spitting up sticks and I feel like I’m a freshman in high school, terrified of getting lost in the woods.

The first year we went I didn’t get it. We were traveling two hours to the wilderness (I say wilderness, but it was a state park. You know how much I love being over dramatic though.) and we’d stay at a conference center for a few days and we were told when we got there that we should get lost in the woods and write about something. Anything.

It sounded like an awful idea.

My Language Arts class was made up of kids from every grade and I was scared of all of them. They were way better at writing than me and were also way cooler. Everything I said sounded stupid.

So the first year I went, we got to the MacMullan Conference Center and were given a notebook, a folder filled with prompts and journaling ideas and a map of the area. We were told not to stay in our rooms and to walk away from the cabins. We were told to be one with nature.

I remember thinking I had to be in some kind of nightmare.

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You bet I still have all of these.

I struggled most of my freshman year with trying to be concrete with my language and my descriptions in my writing. I’d think I’d written some deep shit and then get my poem back with notes like, “But what did that look like or sound like or smell like?” Hell if I knew. I’d spent the last 5 years writing Nsync fanfiction. Those readers didn’t care how things smelled or sounded, they just loved dramatic stories about girls falling in love with Justin Timberlake. They loved phrases like ‘silent tears’ and ‘cotton candy clouds’. That was as descriptive as I got at the time.

Now I was supposed to climb a tree and write about it. I hated it all.

Some of the people I socialized with went off hiking on one of the trails. I decided to stay behind. I didn’t really have “friends” in that class my freshman year. I had people I spoke with occasionally to guarantee partners during group work. We didn’t like hang out after school or anything.

I remember it was raining and I had no sense of direction. I’ve seen horror movies before and I wasn’t going anywhere more than 10 feet from cabin. I sat on the porch under the awning with my blank notebook and listened to the rain. The air smelled like Christmas trees and the rain sounded like pop rocks on your tongue. It was 11:00 AM and felt like 9:00 PM, but I didn’t write any of that down. I was too busy worrying about sharing a bathroom with other people.

I was uncomfortable and I wanted to leave.

Did I mention that we couldn’t really get away with not writing anything? Because in the evening we’d all come together as a group and share with everyone something we’d written. I’d previously been able to hide my lack of writing talent. Not anymore. Torture is a real thing in high school.

I don’t remember how long I sat there panicking, but eventually I was able to scribble enough down for the evening’s gathering.

That evening we all sat together in a circle in a conference room. The other kids shared stories of falling in mud pits and not bringing enough socks. I’m pretty sure I was the last to share (I never volunteered first or at all for anything). I read my poem meekly with no confidence, and stumbled through it like a drunk.

You’ll be happy to know I didn’t die. Once I was finished, my teacher smiled and said it was a good start, a big improvement from what I’d previously been doing. Take that MrSTiMbErLaKeLuVeR4EVER who was going to have the most popular fanfiction website NOW?

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Yikes. That’s right, still have this too. First Higgins Lake poem.

I started to get it then. Sort of. I still had a lot of work to do, but the trip to the deep dark wilderness was a success and like I said, I didn’t die.

I was in that class for the remainder of high school and we went on that trip every year. Sophomore year changed everything because there was this sweet bubbly girl named Aimee, with frizzy curly blonde hair who wore tiny white tennis shoes who came up to me one day, saw the empty desk next to me where I’d purposely placed my combined Lord of the Rings trilogy book (that thing was a HUGE) so that no one would sit next to me because I was anti-social and she asked if she could sit there.

A wonderful friendship was born.

Because you know what makes going to the deadly wilderness great? Having a friend. It’s a bonus when they have great navigational skills.

I ventured beyond the cabin with Aimee, climbed the roots of fallen trees, found a swing set and an abandoned camp (it wasn’t really abandoned but it was fun to think it was) and sat on the wooden ledge next to the lake with our shoes covered in dirt and we’d write and laugh and talk about drama that only matters in high school. One morning a bunch of us got up super early and stood on the dock blowing bubbles. The air was so cold that they fell straight down to the wood, leaving dark circles around our feet.

My senior year the trip fell right around Spring Break and I was having writer’s block. I was focused on college and graduating and life. I’d run out of things to say about the trees, the ants, the leaves.

Instead, Aimee and I went to the swings in the woods and we swung for hours, sometimes talking, sometimes in silence. Aimee was a year younger than me and wouldn’t graduate until next year. It was weird to me to think that I wouldn’t see her every day, or wouldn’t go on adventures with her at Higgins Lake at the same time every year.

I wrote one good poem that trip, about how we were doing all these things for the last time. I shared it at the final sharing class, and our teacher who had retired 2 years prior showed up and smiled as I read. I had a voice now and I was so excited for her to hear. It was her who taught me how to write what I saw and smelled and heard.

I thought I would be fine without going to Higgins Lake after I graduated, but it was harder than I thought. There’s something about running away to some remote place to write now that’s so appealing.

When we first moved to Ithaca and came to the lake, I stood near the edge with my toes in the water, wishing I had something to write with. Marc and I go to the lake a lot now, but he has a hard time staying in one place for a long period of time. So we usually just walk along the edge until he gets antsy and we move on. One day though when we went, and the sun was out for the first time in days, we stayed in the same spot for an hour. He skipped rocks and I just stood next to the water in my rain boots, breathing in the smell of fish and tangy sand, listening to the rocks smacking quickly, one, two, three times before sinking to the bottom as Marc threw them.

Which leads me to being here today, curled up on a bench facing the lake, bugs playing tag by my face and just landing and dying bloody deaths on my notebook pages. No Higgins Lake notebook came back bug-gut free if you were doing the trip right.

There are some men on the dock fishing, laughing in between casting, followed by a splash. The ripples on the water are small today. The clouds are blue and swelling with rain, the air is heavy and wet.

I ventured away from the house today on my own, brought my notebook and my pen. I’m surrounded by dandelions and chunks of slate and cigarette butts. But if I close my eyes I’m at Higgins Lake, sitting on the cement outside that cabin for the first time, my knees tucked up to my chin, watching the rain drops hit the leaves, trying to figure out who I am and what I’m doing here.