My Go-To Tunes: Remembering George

As a teenager, I loved the pop group Wham! Their posters served as wallpaper in my bedroom. Their songs were the soundtrack to my life. I had to buy another copy of the Make it Big cassette, even though I had the record, because the first tape broke. And when CDs came on the market, I bought it on CD too. My best friend Stephanie had the VCR tape of Wham! in China. We watched it so often I can still quote sections of it verbatim. We knew all the dances from the music videos, and performed them in our living rooms when the songs came on the radio. I performed George Michael’s parts and sang while Stephanie took over Andrew Ridgeley’s moves.

When Wham! broke up, Stephanie and I cried. We were 13 and brokenhearted. It was the end of the world as we knew it. George and Andy were moving on to other ventures. We were devastated. Our moms shook their heads. My dad muttered something like, “Boy crazy girls,” while making a face showing his lack of understanding. Clearly this was the worst thing that could happen in a young girl’s life!

Thirty years later, Stephanie and I were devastated once again when we learned of George Michael’s death on Christmas 2016. We sat on the phone that night in stunned disbelief while listening to “Last Christmas” on repeat and reminiscing about our teenage antics.

This past Christmas, Stephanie and I went to the movies together for the first time in more than twenty years. It took George to get us back there. We went to see Last Christmas, the film inspired by George’s song of the same name. That’s right – the woman who mostly shuns romantic comedies willingly sat through an hour and a half of saccharine schmaltz with her best friend because of George Micheal and Wham! It’s far from the most illogical thing I’ve ever done because of a boy. And the popcorn was AMAZING!

Since watching the movie, I’ve been listening to George’s music while driving. I’ve rediscovered songs I always loved but haven’t heard recently. This morning the song “Praying for Time” came on as I took the exit for my job. I sat listening, really listening, to the lyrics and realized this song is just as timely now as it was when it was first released on Listen Without Prejudice in 1990. If you haven’t listened to it recently, and even if you have, give it another listen. I was particularly struck by the bridge, which seems appropriate in today’s political climate.

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much, much too late
Well, maybe we should all be praying for time

Praying for Time

Lyrics and Music by George Michael

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers
 
This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses
 
The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we’ll take our chances
‘Cause God’s stopped keeping score
 
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God’s children
Crept out the back door
 
And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much, much too late
Well, maybe we should all be praying for time
 
These are the days of the empty hand
Oh, you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year
This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here
 
So you scream from behind your door
Say, “What’s mine is mine and not yours”
I may have too much but I’ll take my chances
‘Cause God’s stopped keeping score
 
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can’t come back
‘Cause he has no children to come back for
 
It’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time
 
 
A live version, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, London on the Symphonica Tour, is also worth watching in my opinion.
 
 
 

30 Days of Thanks Day 13: Pizza with a Good Friend

A couple of weeks ago my friend Crystal sent me an email asking if I had plans for November 13th. She was going to be passing through my city. Would I be able to meet for dinner and/or breakfast?

Of course I said yes before I checked my calendar. Thankfully when I did check, I didn’t have anything else planned.

This is my second visit from Crystal in as many months – a real treat since we don’t live in the same country. Granted, the Canadian border is only about three hours away. But when you haven’t really driven in almost  two years, even a three hour drive can seem like the other side of the world.

Tonight Crystal and I shared a pizza in my new apartment. We laughed, we expressed anger and frustration, we hugged. In other words, it was a fantastic visit.

Tonight I am grateful for good friends like Crystal who are willing to share pizza at my cluttered dining room table.

Photo of a statue of a man sitting on the back of a park bench, typing on an open laptop computer. Next to him is an open bag from McDonald's with fries and a burger. While he is absorbed in his computer, a squirrel is climbing up the back of the bench with the a hamburger bun in his mouth. Two women are seated near the statue. A woman in a pink dress sits in a wheelchair in front of the bench. Seated next to the statue on the back of the bench is a blond woman wearing a black and white polka dot shirt.
My friend Crystal and I visiting Montreal a couple of years ago.

30 Days of Thanks Day 8: People of STAR

Since I have been riding my local paratransit busses regularly again for the past year, I have had the chance to meet and observe some interesting people. About two months ago, I jokingly made a comment that I should start a “Humans of Paratransit” column modelled after Humans of New York.

While I don’t have the time to write those essays just yet, today I am grateful for the relationships formed on the bus, and for the daily reminder of the need to continue to advocate for equality and access.

My morning started after exercise with a bus pick up at the pool. “Hannah” (she asked that I not use her real name) was my driver. Hannah makes everyone smile. She has something positive to say about everyone she interacts with, and I have never seen her in a bad mood. She is one of my favorites. Starting the day with her gives me a boost of energy.

Tonight I got to ride with a friend I have not seen in a few weeks. We chatted for twenty minutes as we drove from her pick up to my final destination at home. This morning I rode with a young man I know through work. We chatted about election day results and our plans to become more engaged with our local ADAPT chapter.

I complain about paratransit as much as everyone else. The system is far from perfect. I would love to see better use of technology to increase efficiency and communication.

But I am grateful for the personal connections I have made riding the bus regularly this last year. These almost make the reality of paratransit (the waiting, the late pick ups, the 2 hour rides to go 15 miles, etc.) bearable. Paratransit deserves its own post and maybe someday I’ll write it. For now, I’ll be grateful for human connection instead.

30 Days of Thanks Day 4: Proctors

Eight years ago, my friends Stacey, Eric, and I bought subscriptions to Proctors Theater for their Broadway Series. Proctors is located in Schenectady, just fifteen miles from my town. Going to see touring Broadway shows is easier and (usually) less expensive than going to New York City. A few years ago my friend Ronda joined us.

The four of us have seen some amazing shows and performances. That tradition continued today when we went to see Fun Home, the play based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. If you get the chance to see this show when it comes to your town, you should go. The cast is talented and you’ll find yourself singing the “Fun Home” commercial all the way home. At least, that’s what happened to me.

Today I am grateful again for the opportunity to celebrate musical theater with good friends. I appreciate the opportunity to attend live performances in a beautiful, historic building close to home. I’m already looking forward to the next show!

Photo of a Playbill cover with the logo for the play "Fun Home."

30 Days of Thanks Day 2: My Partner In Cute

My best friend Stephanie is more like my sixth sister than a friend. I often tell people she’s the sister I got to pick for myself. God gave me 5, and then let me have one more. Stephanie is that one.

She is the reason for most of my laughter and happiness this past week. Let’s be honest – I don’t laugh as much with anyone else. She always says others must feel like they are watching a cartoon when they watch the two of us.

Ten years ago we created SADWIN (Stephanie and Denise Wicked in New York). Ten years and ten New York City shows later, and we don’t have plans to stop anytime soon!

Stephanie was responsible for our SADWIN shirts this year. She did a fantastic job incorporating all ten shows with creativity and fun.