Dan reminded me about this terrible story from Miami last week.  I get that public transportation has to have rules and regulations to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers.  I get that they don’t want to encourage any activity that can be viewed as disruptive or illegal.  I use public transportation, so I understand and make every attempt to abide by the rules.  And I also understand that there are laws governing street musicians, and so on.  But who in the hell thinks it’s okay to yank an old lady off the train just because she was singing hymns?  She wasn’t busking for loose change; she wasn’t being offensive.  She was just singing and tapping some object in time to the song.  It might be against the rules, but I figure the rules can be bent a little to accommodate an 82-year-old woman.  Seriously.

Dan’s post also reminded me of this little ditty from the glory days of Sesame Street.  It’s a simple song, about a simple pleasure.  Singing is something common to virtually every culture in the world.  It’s the most portable form of music, and the easiest to participate in–all you need is some air and a voice.  Not everyone is blessed with a professional voice, but so what?  These days, half the professionals don’t even have professional voices.  I, for one, like singing along with my music.  I often find myself randomly humming or singing songs all day long.  (Whenever I file things, I have the urge to sing “Strangers in the Night.”  I have absolutely no idea why.)  Now, when I’m on the bus, wearing the iPod, I’ll just mouth the words like I’m trying out for a lip-synching competition.  But I’m singing in my head.

So today I’m going to encourage everyone to engage in a little act of civil disobedience and add a little beauty to the world: sing out loud in public somewhere.  Sing on the bus.  Sing at the grocery store.  Sing while standing in line at the bank.  Or the DMV.  Emma Anderson refused to stop singing, so let’s all join in.



“It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green”


A special thanks goes out to Dan for inspiring this post.  His musings and ponderings and lessons always seem to coincide with whatever I happen to be struggling with at the moment.  And it’s always nice to have a fellow traveler on the road of life.

I’m not alone in this world when I say that there are things I don’t always like about myself.  At some point, we all wish for something we don’t have–or less of something we have too much of.  We might want to be taller, or skinnier, or have more money.  We might wonder why [insert deity here] has burdened us with poor health or personal problems.  We’re all occasionally ashamed of how we behave.  Sometimes, we’re all the last person we want to be around.

These feelings are only a problem if we let them control our lives.  Because with certain exceptions, most of the things we don’t like about ourselves can be changed. And if they can’t be changed, our attitude towards these perceived imperfections can be.  I have been blessed with good health, a roof over my head, and the luxury of cable television and Internet access.  There are many more things I’m grateful for, and that I know I’m lucky to have.  And when I’m really down on myself, sometimes it helps to remember those things.  But there are always times when I can’t pull myself out of the mental abyss, when my fear and worry and insecurity get the better of me.  Times when it feels like nothing will ever change no matter what I do, so I might as well give up.

That’s when I get myself a little shot of green.

I’ve known this song since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, but it didn’t really make sense until I was an adult.  Kermit’s theme song is about finding the beauty in who you are, whatever that is, even though “it seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.”  The hardest thing any of us ever have to accept is ourselves, warts and all.  But accepting yourself is the first step to . . . everything.  It gives you the strength to overcome and handle whatever life throws at you.  Love yourself.  Know yourself.  And for goodness sakes, stop being so hard on yourself.

“When green is all there is to be, it could make you wonder why, but why wonder.  Why wonder?  I’m green, and it’ll do fine.  It’s beautiful, and I think it’s what I want to be.”

Jerry Nelson


I’ve already established here that I grew up on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and that I adore the music created for both shows (check out posts here and here for further proof).  In general, I find a lot to value in children’s music, in spite of the fact that a lot of it makes me kind of sentimental and weepy.  Any song that says you are valuable for who you are is a good song, and this is the most important lesson we can teach children.

Jerry Nelson was the voice of many muppets, including The Count, Herry Monster, and Robin the Frog.  He passed away yesterday at 78.  Although he’d retired as a muppeteer, his passing is a huge loss for the world of entertainment.  I’ll be honest, I’m having a little trouble writing this without crying.  Because the muppets were such an important part of my childhood, because I learned so much more than numbers and letters from them.  I learned about sharing and kindness and self-esteem.  I learned how to be silly and how to sing.  I learned that kids voices matter, too, maybe more than anyone else.

This is a nice tribute I found on YouTube (thanks to wileyk209zback for creating and posting it).  The song is “Halfway Down the Stairs” written by A.A. Milne (a powerhouse in children’s literature).  Thanks, Jerry.  I’ll miss you more than you know.  Say hi to Jim and Mr. Hooper for me.

“Somebody Come and Play”


This is a bit of an experiment in writing about whatever happens to come up on my computer.  Granted, this didn’t “just come up”; I selected it because I recently purchased it from itunes but hadn’t listened yet.  I also downloaded “Bein’ Green,” “Sing,” and Bert and Ernie’s Sing-a-Long.  Sue me.

First things first.  I am 43.  Sesame Street and I were born the same year, so obviously, I grew up watching it on PBS (Channel 28 when I was a kid).  I will freely admit to anyone who asks that I have a probably unhealthy attachment to things I remember fondly from my childhood.  Sesame Street, Jim Henson, muppets, and the music from the show are among those things I am still attached to like a baby spider monkey clinging to its mother.

“Somebody Come and Play” is one of those songs I know I must have heard repeatedly while watching muppets and humans teach each other the alphabet and tolerance, but I don’t really remember it from then.  I rediscovered it as an adult, and I was transported back to the blissfully ignorant innocence of childhood.  Nothing bad or wrong ever happened, everyone was nice, and the only thing you had to worry about was getting a flavor of candy you didn’t like (red was the universally good flavor; green was generally bad).

But there is a loneliness in the song that I think children miss.  After all, the entire song is about a child imploring for someone, anyone, to come and play “before it gets to late to begin.”  There’s a version with Big Bird, but I prefer the one sung by The Kids (presumably the group of children hired for the show).  It’s sweet, charming, and off-key.  I don’t sing so well, either, so I identify with that part.  It’s also a little heartbreaking.  Anyone whose heart doesn’t hurt a little after hearing a child sing “somebody come and be my friend” is a sociopath.  There’s a joyous freedom here, too.  The idea that you can just “watch the sun till it rains again” and “see the pleasure in the wind” is kind of remarkable.  The world is a playground and the summer afternoon is gonna last forever.  After all, children shouldn’t have any other responsibilities besides playing with their friends (parents really should let their children goof off more, but that’s a rant for another time).  There’s joy also in how the single voice at the beginning is joined by other voices.  Somebody came out to play after all.