Thursday, March 26, 2015

’90s Kid: A Poem For Throwback Thursday

You'll know you're a '90s kid if you can name this TV show. 

’90s Kid

By Rachel E. Watson

I am asked to sing at a ’90s throwback party.
The guests will wear acid wash jeans, unbuttoned
flannel shirts, crop tops, high tops and flat tops,
scrunchies securing towering side ponytails.

I search YouTube for a suitable set list:
perhaps Destiny’s Child or Spice Girls,
Britney or TLC, Smash Mouth, Barenaked Ladies,
'N Sync, Boyz II Men or Backstreet Boys.

I don Hammer pants and a windbreaker,
and try to relax as memories of how very,
very uncool I was then sweep past me
like one of the fast kids at the roller rink.

I cling to one important thing as I ring
the hostess’ doorbell and walk into a
living room that looks like the Huxtables’:
I lived through this once. I can do it again.

Copyright © Perception 2015.

Read more of my poetry blog posts here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Prayer for You, with Love from Me and Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

This week, I at last worked up the emotional fortitude to listen to a mix CD a former co-worker made me as a goodbye gift when I left my last job. 

I'm so glad I listened to it. It was full of beautiful songs about the pursuit of right living and kindness to others, about the winding road of life and the troubles we face along the way.

The final song was the slow version of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young." I read that he wrote this song in Tucson, Arizona, in 1973, while thinking of his young son.

I'm not thinking of my son when I listen to it, because I don't have a son. I'm thinking about the words I give birth to on this blog and how they might affect each of you readers. I'm thinking about how life is short — too short to waste time getting stuck in regrets and missing out on the light and beauty around me.

I'm holding onto this song, and I'm going to keep singing my own song. I hope you do, too. And I hope your heart stays young while you build that ladder to the stars.

"Forever Young"

By Bob Dylan, 1973

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Read more posts in the Groovy Tuesday series here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Collecting Churches in My Walkable Neighborhood

I collected a dozen churches on my 65-minute walk last Sunday afternoon.

I did it for health reasons, really. After a full weekend of reading and writing, I felt like I'd been sitting still so long I was practically growing sprouts, like a potato left in the pantry too long.

So, with a mighty heave, I yanked my taproot off the couch and stumbled out into the 45-degree sunshine — a welcome warmup after a winter of polar vortices.

Dressed all in black, from jacket to flats, I soaked up the relative heat and set off on a stroll through my Heritage Hill neighborhood and all around the east and southeast parts of downtown Grand Rapids. 

There were so many church spires piercing the gray-blue sky, and it was Sunday, the Christian day of worship, so I decided to collect as many churches on my walk as I could find in an hour.

Unexpectedly, the experience began to feel like an act of worship the longer I walked and the more denominations I found. The sidewalk converted to a sanctuary, and the churches were my vicars, pointing me to their true purpose.

Here's a little map-and-key I made showing the churches on my route. 

I found myself thinking I could launch a quest to visit these churches' worship services (except the one that's an apartment building now) so I could tell you — and me — what makes them all different. It would be like an adventure in religious journalism. And what a better place to worship than in my own neighborhood?

Hmm. I think my bucket list just got a little longer.

Read more posts in the Storytelling Sunday series here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Social Media Blues: A Poem About Distraction

Social Media Blues

By Rachel Watson

I’ve got a deadline. A project due in less than a week.
I open my blank document, start typing titular details,
left-aligned, top of the page and single-spaced.

Then I see a little red “1” on my phone screen, so I go
check that. It’s just a status update from someone I starred.
She was sharing a Buzzfeed quiz.

But oh, wait, I haven’t seen this quiz. Maybe I really need
to know whether I’m a mountain or beach vacation.
It will only take a minute. Promise.

Great. Quiz done. It’s time to focus. Shoot. I just remembered
that last night I finished reading a Neil Gaiman novel
and totally forgot to update Goodreads.

So I go do that, moving it from “reading” to my “read”
bookshelf. While I’m here, though, I might as well check
to see if anyone’s left me a recommendation.

What! How did I not know Anne Lamott had another
book out? Time to hop over to Amazon and order
that bad boy. Omg, I’m getting free shipping on this.

I’ve got to tell my Twitter followers it’s out, that I liked
the Gaiman book, that I’m a mountain vacation
(in the Alps, no less), and see what’s trending.

How did it get to be lunchtime? Where has the day
gone? And then I hear the whooshing
sound of a new text message.

Rabbit trail re-entered. Shuffle and repeat.

Copyright © Perception 2015.

Read more of my poetry blog posts here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Celebrating the Debut of .Ara. Music

Today, I'm celebrating with a friend and former roommate, singer-songwriter Sarah Lamb, who last week released her debut EP, "Waiting," under the name .ara.

The music is a pleasant, sometimes haunting mixture of pop and R&B, and it fully exercises the beauty of Sarah's vocal range. 

The songwriting unveils honest yearnings for artistic success, romantic love and a deeper faith connection to God.

Album cover art by Kaitlin Jean Photography.

Sarah, who is originally from New London, Wisconsin, studied Spanish and music at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

While at Cornerstone, she sang and played keyboard as a member of the school's Sunday night Evensong worship band, and she also sang in the eight-part a capella Credo choir. 

After graduation — during the time we were roommates — Sarah spent a few years managing bookings and tours for West Michigan bands and singing background vocals for other acts, as well as working full- and part-time day jobs.

Then, she moved to Nashville a few years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a recording artist in her own right.

I'm so happy to see Sarah realizing another step toward her lifelong goals. I hope you'll join me in supporting her music.

Buy the EP

To buy the EP "Waiting," by .ara., visit her website or buy it directly from iTunes. To receive updates, "Like" her Facebook page, ARA.-Music.

Read more posts in the Groovy Tuesday series here.