Posts Tagged With: telling stories

Day 996: What’s the story?

What’s the story?

What’s WHAT story?

One story at a time. On my way to work, yesterday, I saw this …

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… and I wondered,  “What’s the story?”

Whenever a story has parts unknown to us, we make up stories to understand, make meaning, and move on. When I saw those abandoned baby shoes lined up neatly outside of Boston’s Fenway Park, I thought

What’s the story I would make up about that? And what stories would other people make up about it?

For the rest of the day, I thought about stories.

What’s the story with that?

Well, since I’m

  • a psychotherapist,
  • an English major, and
  • somebody who loves to read and write

… stories are very important to me. No mystery, there.

What’s the story, with these other photos I took yesterday?

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What’s the story you might create, about any of those images?

What’s the story with today’s music?

What’s the story with “Aja” by Steely Dan?

I chose “Aja” today because

  1. I heard it on my walk home, when I was looking at some of the above images,
  2. I’ve never included it in a blog post before, and
  3. people tell lots of different stories about that song, including these (from this web page):

The song is pronounced “Asia,” and was inspired by the continent. Steely Dan have several songs with a Far East influence, since Donald Fagen believes it is a symbol of sensuality. He told Rolling Stone magazine that the title came from a high school friend whose brother was in the army and came back with a Korean wife named Aja, although he wasn’t sure how she spelled it.

I thought it very obvious that the song is about a fictional Bordello on the California coast, perhaps San Francisco area. That’s why you hear the police whistle. The part with Wayne Shorter’s is where the police raid the place.

Yet another subtle drug reference in their music: “Break out the hardware, let’s do it right.” Hardware is another name for the needle, spoon, flame used for shooting up, mainly heroin.

When they refer to the folks up on the hill how they don’t give a damn. It’s CAPITOL HILL….. duh?

Louis Armstrong called jazz “Chinese music”, you can guess along with me why (my guess – that jazz is not rational and western, it’s intuitive yet has its own definite yet different kind of logic). So this song is about playing jazz for people who often don’t get it or don’t care.

Since I live near San Francisco, I interpret “up on the hill” to be wealthy bored people on Nob Hill. Coincidentally, someone wrote that Kid Charlemagne” also had a reference to “up on the hill”, and that song was about Owsley Stanley, the guy who (among other things) synthesized acid for the acid tests in SF.

The story goes that Steve Gadd walked into the studio in NYC – put on the cans – and 8 minutes later – he was finished – one take ! Had the privilege of seeing him in Johannesburg with Joe Sample and Randy Crawford. AJA is the perfect number !

The lyrics of Aja paint a picture of a man, perhaps a heroin addict or drug dealer whose only salavation day after a day is running home to the arms of Aja…which lends credence to the lyric of “when all my dime dancing is through, I run to you”

While Donald Fagan wrote the song about a friend’s South Korean wife, named Aja, you cannot help but think that the courtship began as a man knowing where to get his ultimate fix.

The model on the cover of the album “Aja” is not Korean but Japanese. Her name is Sayoko Yamaguchi, whom Newsweek chose her one of the top six models in the world in 1977. She passed away on August 14, 2007.

i was named after this song, and i have great appreciation for its perfection and character, but my middle name is Victoria, and 8 out of ten people ask if that is a porno name…

What’s the story with that?  SO many stories, about just one song, from just one website. And, I’ve told stories to myself about that song, for years, that are different from each one of those stories above.

What’s the story you might create about “Aja”?   Please listen to it, if only to experience the story of its brilliance.

Finally, what’s the story with all the various stories in this post?

Here’s my story. I believe that

  1. being as much as possible in the present moment,
  2. being present with all your senses,
  3. letting go of fears about the future and regrets about the past, and
  4. telling the story of your life, in new and illuminating ways

… can help us all heal, learn, and grow.

Gotta go hear some more stories at work, dear readers.

Thanks to all the people, places, and stories that helped me create this storytelling post and thanks to you — of course! — for reading all the stories here, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Day 397: Everybody loves you

I am going to start this post with a quote from my boyfriend, Michael.  Actually, I am going to start this post by retiring Michael’s title of “boyfriend,” in honor of my feisty friend Sarah, who used to work with me and who gave me a hard time every time I used that term.

What are you two,  fifteen years old?

Sarah would say.  And since I am about to turn sixty-one years young1 tomorrow, maybe it’s time to heed Sarah’s advice, and stop using the term “boyfriend.”

But how else should I refer to Michael?  Here are some possibilities:

Partner

Old man

Main squeeze

Significant other

None of those sound great to me, for various reasons. I’m not sure why “boyfriend” has always seemed like the best choice, so far. Perhaps, the terms we hear when we are young are difficult to shake.

A logical replacement for “boyfriend” would be …. “manfriend.” But nobody says that. If I did use that term, that would be too distracting.  That would derail people from any story I wanted to tell about Michael.

Like now.

One more thing, before I get back on track. I supposed I could just refer to Michael by name, with no identifying title.  That always seems self-centered and unhelpful, though. Why should I expect anybody to remember the name of my boyfriend/partner/old man/main squeeze/significant other/manfriend … without a helpful hint? Or remember my name, for that matter?

Maybe people should remember, though!  Maybe we’re important enough to be remembered, without any identifying information, dammit!

Anyway, let me start this post over.

This post is about a phrase that Michael says to me, quite often. It’s kind of a joke, a running gag, between us.

Picture this, if you will. I come home from work, walk up the stairs, and enter through the back door, into the kitchen.  I am often pretty tired, and I immediately sit down at the same table where I write this blog.

Let me set the scene, with a photo of that table:

Image

That’s not a great photo, actually, to give you an accurate picture, since there are other distracting elements in that shot. I’ll check my photo stash and see if I can do a better job …

…. Nope.  Can’t find a better photo, right now.

I suppose I could take a new photo of the table, but the light isn’t correct (it’s the wrong time of day). Also, I’d have to find my friggin’ phone to take it.

Maybe, just maybe, setting the scene accurately isn’t quite as important as I sometimes think. In any case, back to the story.

So, after I return home from work, I sit down at the table where I write this blog. Michael is usually in the kitchen, making dinner. If not, he comes into the kitchen. He greets me:

How was your day, babe?

or words to that effect.   I then tell him what’s foremost on my mind from my day at work (of course, leaving out any details as dictated by confidentiality). When I’m finished talking, Michael will usually respond, with our running gag, like so:

Everybody loves you, Ann.

And I smile. Or laugh. It never gets old.

Why?

Well, even though Michael has said this many, many times, there’s always some element of surprise.

I am rarely — if ever — feeling universally lovable, as I’m telling my work-a-day stories.   I’m sharing what has lingered from the day and — as I’ve often written about here — the negative sticks. So, my stories are often tinged with regret, worry, concern, or at least a wish to learn from mistakes I’ve made.

So Michael’s response, no matter how often I’ve heard it, surprises me, on some level. And, as many Humor Experts 2 have opined:  When we laugh, it’s an expression of the unexpected.

Sometimes, when I return home after work, I’m feeling great —  very much in touch with pride in my work and with my gratitude for doing work I value and enjoy.  In those cases, when Michael says

Everybody loves, you, Ann

my laugh expresses joy (or celebration, which I wrote about recently).

And, no matter how I’m feeling after work, I can always appreciate the absurd in Michael’s response. No matter how worthy and lovable we are, no matter how much I may yearn for Michael’s statement to be true … not everybody is going to love us.  It’s impossible.

And that’s okay.  We can still survive, thrive, and keep on going.

Okay! I’ve got to end this post, because I’ve got an appointment with Mia 3, very soon.

Thanks to Sarah, Michael, Mia, my old4 student Chris Delyani (whose book is in the photo above), everybody I love, people who love me, and everybody who has ever loved or been loved by anybody.  And, more thanks to you, for visiting and reading today.


  1. I hear Mel Brooks‘s voice in my head as I say this, thanks to his 2000 Year Old Man albums. Thanks, Mel!

  2. Despite any expectations on your part, there are no helpful details about humor experts in this footnote.  (This gag never gets old for me, either.)

  3. Mia is the woman who cuts my hair.  Just as I have trouble finding a good title for Michael, I never know what to call Mia, either. My hairdresser?  No, that’s my mother’s term.  My stylist?  Too pretentious and not accurate, since I don’t experience myself as being “styled” in any way.  Also, I feel uncomfortable using the possessive term “my” about people in my life.  Feel free to make suggestions about what I might call Mia (or Michael, too, I suppose).

  4. I never know what word to use in this situation, either, since “old” has such negative connotations. Chris isn’t old; I just met him a long time ago, when I was teaching a class at Boston University. Feel free to make suggestions about what word to use here, also.

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

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