So I just finished proofing the galleys for my upcoming book, and as I looked over the chapter list, I realize I named a lot of chapters after song titles — e.g. the chapter on arriving in Saudi Arabia as a pre-teen is called “Xanadu: A place Nobody Dared to Go” — for narrative reasons, but also after Olivia Newton John, who i idolized as a girl.
This could be really fun when it comes time to record the audio book, ‘cause maybe I can add the music in to complement… so stay tuned for that.
…But more importantly, it’s kind of a Mix Tape. For myself. And my life.
Maybe you’re old enough to remember making a mix tape for someone. Or receiving one. It was cool huh? Nowadays, people make digital playlists — which are nice, but not the same. There was something about the act of laying down songs in a linear fashion and in real time, which spoke to the dedication that person had to you and your future love affair… which let’s be real, being that it was high school and college — never lasted beyond one semester. But you had that mix tape forever! … or at least until it melted from being left under the dashboard of your ’89 Mazda hatchback.
Music and songs help us express ourselves when what we need to express can’t be put into words. Or when we can’t find our words. Music is everything. And I can categorize my life based on the songs which I played over and over during certain periods of time.
So I got to thinking, if I were making myself a mixtape, a mixtape of my life, what songs would I include?
Here’s what I came up with:
This one is the soundtrack to my family’s early days in America. My family came to this country from Iraq when I was 4 years old. It was Columbus, Ohio in the dead of winter and it was weird. This song helped me and my younger brother assimilate. It always made us happy when we heard it. It made us feel not so isolated. And it’s catchy, to boot.
This one I played until the tape broke when I was a pre-teen girl living in Saudi Arabia. I wanted to BE Olivia Newton John. Or at least be her best friend.
I remember the first time I fell in love in high school. I remember the innocence and lack of baggage. This sense of “We’ll be together forever!” It’s a glorious feeling and one that I relive whenever I hear this song.
This one got me through hours and hours and HOURS of high school angst — so much so that I performed it during my high school talent show.
Because Pat Benatar is one BADASS lady. She was my inspiration when I thought I wanted to be a singer (before I realized I didn’t have the talent.) She remains one of my female idols.
In film school I met my first real love. And this was our anthem.
Then when that relationship ended, I discovered this song while watching the movie HIGH FIDELITY. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard it until that moment. The song resonated with me in such a powerful way and continues to give me ‘the feels’ to this day.
In my early ’30s I had ‘the Lady Blues’ — basically I got really bad depression related to my periods. Eventually I sought help and the blues went away. But during that time, this song saved me. And it’s simply exquisite — musically, lyrically and emotionally.
While we’re at it, this one also when I’m having a moment.
In my ’30s I met my second real love, a guy who changed my life in so many good ways and still remains a friend.
This one because I always envied anyone who liked the concept of dating as I absolutely loathe it and prefer to meet people in daily life — which of course, is near impossible anymore…
And this one because ARETHA FUCKING FRANKLIN, YA’LL.
This one broke my streak of writers block a couple years back and remains on repeat on my car cd player.
.Because no mix tape is complete without Adele.
But before I leave you, you’re probably wondering about the Guy of the Moment — ‘cause come on - there’s always a guy of the moment (or there should be ‘cause life is more fun when you one.…but that’s another post for a ANOTHER time)
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what the song would be for the most recent ‘Guy of the Moment’ and I’m not quite sure. Because it’s never truly about THE GUY, is it? It’s about the feelings the guy inspires. And even when the feelings about the guy fade, you’re left with the emotions from the song that reminds you of the guy. And that feeling remains in a beautiful suspension of time and place.
That’s often the best part of any mix tape.
So if I had to pick one song maybe this one:
Suffice to say, I’m a big advocate for making a mix tape. Not for someone to know how you feel about THEM but rather how you feel about YOU, because after all you’re inviting THEM into YOUR life. They might as well get a preview of coming attractions so to speak.
Mix tapes are the movie trailers of our life.
So here’s to making our own mix tapes!
Drop me a line and share with me what you would put on yours.