My favorite time of year, music-wise, is always when Spotify Wrapped comes out. I’m rarely surprised by the songs that are on my list, but I’m always excited to see what I’ve listened to the most. This year, I decided to make my 2022 Wrapped Playlist into a regular installment on my blog by listing my top 100 songs, ten at a time, and explaining why I like them and what memories I associate with them (reasons that often overlap, since music, to me, is always a nostalgic medium).
Today is an extra good day to write about my favorite songs**, because I’ve been home sick for three days now, and will probably be out for at least two more after today. I rarely get physical illnesses, so I hardly know what it’s like to get the flu, or something like it. But the past few days, my eyes have been constantly secreting disgusting substances, I’ve had a fever, and my throat has been incredibly painful, even after taking Ibuprofen.
Nobody likes to be sick. On the flip side, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had five days to myself to quarantine inside my house and decide how to divide my time all day.*** It’s resulted in a lot of organizing, when I have energy, and some intermittent sessions of online Monopoly with my friend Asma and her two oldest kids, who live out of town. And it’s also resulting in this…another blog post. Last time I posted (a couple weeks ago) I vowed to do so more regularly, and now I can fulfill that goal by talking about one of my favorite things on this planet, music. So, here are my 91st – 100th favorite songs from last year, in order from 100 to 91.
I don’t remember how many horror movies I’d seen when Scream first came out in theaters, but I’d probably watched at least Kubrick’s The Shining and Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the first two horror movies I recall seeing – in the tiny t.v. room of my family’s old house on East Gore Road before settling down in the theater to see Wes Craven’s post-modern masterpiece. The original Scream came out in 1996, when I was twelve years old. I don’t remember the “build-up” to the film the way I remember the anticipation preceding, say, the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project (and my concomitant let-down when I was less than scared by the film), but I definitely remember the general reaction to the shockingly grotesque introduction that the film provides.
I didn’t grow up fat.
I was a hefty baby—a 9-pounder, to be precise—and at different points in
my childhood, a chubbier, sometimes stockier kid, but never fat, per se, and for the first half of
my 20’s, I was 5’3” and 125 lbs, give or take – a frame that we offhandedly
consider average in our society, but that is actually well below the average female
frame. And while I’ve heard that it’s
fairly “normal” to be a size 16-18, four years after gaining most of my weight,
my emergence into a larger body is still a sometimes strange, uncomfortable, jarring
experience, and I’ve only recently started to identify as “fat.” Once I realized that I officially qualified
(it’s kind of like realizing you’re an alcoholic, which I discovered so many years
ago—suddenly, you just know), I wasn’t too
hesitant to call myself what I felt I was, on twitter, and now on my blog. It can be intimidating to try to appropriate,
to try to re-claim a term that’s been used for years to oppress larger women and
shame overweight people, but it’s also liberating to say “this is me—not the
whole of who I am, but part of how I identify, nevertheless.”
When I ponder my love of horror, I trace it back to this crazy fear of death I’ve had since I was a child. Perhaps most of us are somewhat afraid to die, but for me, at points in my life, the fear has been quite stark. I wrote a little essay-type piece about it, since I’m trying to memoir more about my love of horror. The piece below is a little dark, and a little personal, but I was in the mood to write at 3:30 a.m. before going to sleep, so here it is.
The overcast, early December day had lapsed into an opaque blue sky arching over a frigid winter night in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. The lights shining out the window of the warm apartment in Indiana PA sliced through the tranquil darkness, penetrated the night. Inside the apartment, I reclined on a plush, brick-red chair while drinking tiny cup after tiny cup of Arabic coffee and conversing with a friend, and a friend of a friend I’d just met. The conversation, initially engaging to me, started to lapse in and out of English,veering off into a tongue that I could not understand, much less speak myself. As I listened to the melodic cadence of words, beautifully spoken but beyond my grasp, I instinctively did what any good,self-centered American would do; I reached for my phone, and started doing “taktaga,” which is an Arabic phrase (and some of the little Arabic I know) for the act of busying oneself on one’s smartphone. I planned on ejecting myself from the conversation for only a short moment or two, but as this story will demonstrate, the best laid plans are often not those that come to fruition.
Having not blogged in a long time, a week ago I put up a post about my top five most listened to songs of 2017, according to Spotify. And I’ll be honest: I really enjoyed writing the post. I will always love horror, but sometimes it’s an exciting sort of relief to blog about music, and the moments that add meaning to certain songs. I enjoyed writing the piece so much, in fact, that I decided to do another installment. Instead of writing about the top five most listened to songs of 2017, I’ll write about the next set of songs – my sixth through my tenth most listened to songs of that year. Music is one vehicle through which I create memoir, and I’m just self-centered enough to fathom that there are a few people who might care what songs I was listening to last year. More horror posts hang on the horizon; they will be posted eventually. But right now, I want to talk a little more about music. So, here they are, my sixth through tenth most listened to songs of 2017, and the memories that accompany those songs.
This summer I posted a list of thirteen songs that make me think of my early twenties. But time passes, and while I’m not exactly nearing the end of my thirties, I think it’s safe to say that I’m nearing the end of my early thirties. I thought, because I’ve been struggling with writing lately, that l would throw up another Friday Night Video post, this time about music I listen to right now – music of my early thirties, to parallel the post about music from my early twenties.
On my blog, Just Dread-Full, I’m adamantly open and enthusiastic about my love for all things (or most things) horror. Indeed, this passion is foregrounded so much that it often eclipses my other loves in life – a reason why I started another blog a few years ago, one I didn’t have time to follow through with and for which I ultimately stopped writing. One of those passions that I don’t frequently share on the horror-centered Just Dread-full is my love for music – and my interest in what I would consider a wide variety of music.
I can’t say I read many books about the writing process these days. To be sure, I have no vendetta against them – especially not when they’re written by accomplished authors. I remember, years ago, reading Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, in which she talks about taking life, and taking writing, step by step, the way her brother had to take a science project “bird by bird” when he stayed up to do it at the last minute. And in my early 20’s, I was obsessed with Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World. Pipher is the author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, and along with formulating the renowned theory that our society is taking something away from its girls during the transition from childhood to adulthood, she also sought to give people advice on how to write – especially on how to write in a way that would change things, that would make a difference. That was a fair undertaking, because Reviving Ophelia had made waves, and its theory still has resonance today, years later. Continue reading “Reading About Writing: Stephen King’s “On Writing””→
True to the title of my piece, this is not a horror story. Although, what I see now that I didn’t see when things like this happened was just how much my friend and I wanted it to be a horror story, how much we enacted the things that we read in our Fear Street books and our horror movies, and made the world of horror come alive, if, simultaneously, to our delight and our chagrin. Again, this is not a horror story. This is a childhood memory – a childhood memory I share on an overcast day in early November, when my frenetic, two-and-a-half-month mania has dwindled and I’ve suddenly fallen into this shifting state that fluctuates between focused, positive energy and complete depression and self-loathing. This is not a horror story—at least, I hadn’t intended it to be so. But, maybe it will turn out that way as I keep writing. One never can predict the end of the story, after all—or, at least, I can’t—when one’s merely writing the beginning. Continue reading “The Blue Man – Or, This is Not a Horror Story”→