Day 583: What a _____ About Me

Here it is, more than a year and a half since I’ve started blogging, and I’ve yet to include a song from one of my favorite bands, Steely Dan.

No shame about that, though.

As I’ve oft written here, shame — the feeling/belief that there is something fundamentally wrong about oneself —  is toxic. Yes, shame gets in the way of growth, healing, and moving on.  So, rather than shame myself for my inaction in the past, I shall now include a Steely Dan song, in today’s post.

Which Steely Dan tune shall I pick, out of all their great songs?   I’m choosing the very one that was playing yesterday, as I walked to work:  What a Shame About Me.

Here’s a version of that, posted on YouTube:

Steely Dan songs are often little stories, narrated by a protagonist who is rather unsavory and unreliable.  In that way, they remind me of the poet Robert Browning‘s dramatic monologues, of all things.

Can you tell, at this point, that I was an English major in college? (I have no shame about that, either.)

My English-major-analysis skills tell me that What a Shame About Me is a tale told by somebody who has not done as well, in life, as some other people in his college class.

What do your analysis skills tell you, about the meaning of that song? To help with that, here are all the lyrics to What a Shame About Me:

I was grinding through my day gig
Stackin’ cutouts at the Strand
When in walks Franny from NYU
We were quite an item back then
We talked about her films and shows and CDs
And I don’t know what else
She said, “Yeah, Hollywood’s been good to me
But tell me – how about yourself”

I’m still working on that novel
But I’m just about to quit
I’m worrying about the future now
Or maybe this is it
It’s not all that I thought it would be
What a shame about me

She said, “Talk to me, do you ever see
Anybody else from our old crew
Bobby Dakine won the Bunsen Prize
Now he’s coming out with something new
Alan owns a chain of Steamer Heavens
And Barry is the software king
And somebody told me in the early 80’s
You were gonna be the Next Big Thing.”

Well now that was just a rumor
But I guess I’m doin’ fine
Three weeks out of the rehab
Living one day at a time
Sneaking up on the new century
What a shame about me

What a shame about me

I’m thinking of a major Jane Street sunrise
And the goddess on the fire escape was you

We both ran out of small talk
The connection seemed to go dead
I was about to say, hey, have a nice life
When she touched my hand and said:
“I just had this great idea
This could be very cool
Why don’t we grab a cab to my hotel
And make believe we’re back at our old school”

I said babe you look delicious
And you’re standing very close
But this is Lower Broadway
And you’re talking to a ghost
Take a good look it’s easy to see
What a shame about me
What a shame about me


Guess what?  I have a college reunion coming up next month. And, because of the fancy-shmancy, hoity-toity college I attended, I could very easily compare myself to my most distinguished, renowned, and admired classmates, and find myself wanting.

But that’s just an automatic, unhelpful cognitive distortion (see Comparisons, in this list).

When I go to my college reunion in September, I resolve  NOT to compare myself to others there. Certainly, I will  NOT say this:

“What a shame about me.”

If I do choose to declare something about myself at my college reunion, what word could I use in place of  “shame” in that sentence? Perhaps I could use a word for the opposite of shame, instead. But, what IS the opposite of shame? Is it pride? Acceptance? Peace? Comfort?

Hmmm. None of those words fit, as an easy replacement. I mean, people don’t say, “What a Pride (or acceptance, peace, or comfort) About Me.”

Maybe I need a different sentence.

In any case, here are some things that HAVE been about me, lately:


IMG_7619 IMG_7641 IMG_7653 IMG_7671 IMG_7675 IMG_7687

IMG_7690 IMG_7693


photofromM1 photo2fromm IMG_7709


What a world about me, don’t you think?

Thanks to my boyfriend Michael (who was responsible for the last three images), to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, to Robert Browning, to my college classmates, to people who are doing their best to let go of shame (and other unhelpful things), and to you — for whatever words, feelings, thoughts, etc. are about you, today.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “Day 583: What a _____ About Me

  1. happierheathen

    Good choice of bands! I’ve been a Steely Dan fan for as long as they’ve been recording music… I can’t say that I always dig the viewpoint of the protagonists in their lyrics, but gawd are Fagan and Becker capable of seriously tight music.

    • That band is THE TIGHTEST (in terms of music, lyrics, and production). Many thanks for this seriously complimentary and tight comment (with that imbedded video).

  2. After my conversation with my eldest daughter yesterday — this song is perfect. At 28, she’s worried her life is almost over and she hasn’t accomplished anything! 🙂

    I went to the Bruno Mars concert here last night — very entertaining and love his music too. A shame it was so late though…. this morning I’m a wee bit tired! 🙂

    • I love Bruno Mars, this comment, and you, Louise. And I’m sure I’d love your daughter too, if I met her. What great people are around you! Thanks for commenting, even after your long night.

  3. What a wonderful post! You’ve taken a toxic emotion and flipped it on it’s side.
    Oh- I suppose shame, guilt’s flashy cousin, has it’s place. But my oh my, we humans take it to a level never intended for mere mortals.
    Best of luck with your college reunion. With your attitude and self confidence- you’ve got it all locked up.
    I enjoyed this immensely!

    • What a wonderful way to join in here, Pam! I am already feeling lucky, with your immensely kind and helpful comment.

  4. amusez798387

    You light up every room you walk into with your smile and great energy. You are a great therapist and I have seen your wonderful work up close.You are a success in your life and work and love.

  5. I enjoyed cruising through your post today to this great laid back song by Steely Dan.
    Laid back and shame are an odd combination … when we’re laid back and in the groove its hard to feel it…
    You have your own groove Ann. You show it every day here.
    Maybe the opposite of shame is grooving?
    Val x

    • Thank you for these groovy AND grooving words, Val. I feel the opposite of shame, after reading your comment.
      Ann x

  6. Please don’t find yourself wanting, Ann. You are so amazing. You have a wonderful family and a meaningful job that helps people. It’s an interesting one, too You’ve got this great blog and you’re going on a very cool holiday soon. You’re smart and observant and compassionate. If you find yourself wanting, how can the rest of us not find ourselves wanting, too?

    I am sure that people at your reunion will smile at you, be happy for you, and in many cases, feel affection for you. You might find yourself with a line-up of accomplished people unloading their secret traumas, problems and self-doubts because you are so compassionate, and because success doesn’t protect people from disease, divorce, death, anxiety, depression or even a sense of failure.

    • I will do my best to not find myself wanting, for you (and for myself, too). Thank you, as always, for the ways you see me, and for your beautiful insights. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you never find yourself wanting, too.

  7. Oh ignoramous me – I had no idea there was such a thing as a college reunion.
    Remind me NOT to go to mine. LOL

  8. Miranda Stone

    Shame is a theme that figures heavily in a lot of my writing. It is certainly a debilitating emotion, and I’m glad you’re leaving no room for it in your life.

    • I love what you wrote here. I will remember your words: “I’m glad you’re leaving no room for it in your life.” That will help me continue to learn and move forward, away from that debilitating place.

  9. Oh, what a marvelous post for me to read with my eggroll and wonton soup, Ann. Yes, Becker/Fagan were kings of the lament into the 90s, and I loved the way he still’s never metaphorically going back to his old school. Thank you for the Steely Dan genious.

    Now, you. Oh, friend, be proud at that September reunion. You’ve had not one grand career, but several! And so different. Now you and your special heart have settled into your grand role as a spreader of smart everyday thoughts to bring comfort and happiness.

    As I read the Ann post I need no prompt to think, What a Blessing About You.

    Thank you. A million times over.

    • Eggroll and wonton soup sounds delicious to me, Mark, but not as delicious as the rest of this scrumptious and nutritious comment.

      You are always welcome, a kashmillion times.

      And thanks for your Steely Dan-dy thoughts, too.

  10. Ann, how about: What a stroke of luck that I’m so comfortable in my skin!
    Diana xo
    p.s. love Steely Dan!

  11. I think you should totally change the sentence – time to find one to fit your personal truth for today! 🙂

    • I always try to follow your advice. I find it very inspiring.

      How about this for my calm, thoughtful, careful-not-to-take-up-too-much-room, personal truth for today:










  12. !!!!!!!! Walter Becker and Donald Fagen !!!!!!!!!!!!
    wow– what a cool surprise to see this piece posted —

    have you heard Donald Fagen’s new album “Sunken Condos”?
    There’s a song on there you might really enjoy called “Weather in My Head”.

    Thanks for this !!!!

    • Hey!!!! Thank you for your enthusiasm. And, yes, I have heard “Sunken Condos.” “Weather in My Head” is GREAT! And I LOVE ‘Miss Marlene”!!!!

      Always a cool pleasure to see you here.

  13. “…the feeling/belief that there is something fundamentally wrong about oneself…”
    I wonder why so many of us feel that way? Even those – like you – who deserve to feel good about themselves.

  14. Mmmm…this lyric hit a bit hard today. But it pinpoints the ‘What are you doing” or “What have you done” questions which really should be ‘What are you being?” Kind? Loving? Wonderful? A blessing as someone else suggested.

  15. I don’t think there is one thing that could be called a ‘shame’ about you! Instead of ‘what a shame about me’ it’s what an awesome thing that IS me.
    : )

  16. I remember My Last Duchess so well and we took it apart in school – scary poem. Like the poster for the real face of mental illness.

    • I’m glad you commented on My Last Duchess. That poem made a huge impression on me when I first encountered it in college.

      The narrator is such a chilling depiction of a controlling jealous guy who has all the power. Yikes.

  17. Pingback: Day 612: Not the only one | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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