My Winter Song

I am not a genius.
Despite my New Year's resolution to avoid snarky observations (well, at least public ones), I am on the cusp of sharing a sarcastic rant about Apple's surreptitious appropriation of the term "Genius." But don't worry, Apple (especially if you're reading this, Steve Jobs): all's well that ends well.

Last June, I was sitting at the so-called Genius Bar in the SoHo Apple store with a friend of mine. My friend's hard drive was doing suspicious things, which caused her much emotional pain and psychological damage. Apple products, after all, are made for ease of use by the lowest common denominator, right? I mean, my seven year old can navigate our iPad better than I can. So why the need to sanction a twentysomething hipster with a title of superiority to aid us less fortunate beings with disposable income?

After hours of waiting on some uncomfortable yet stylish post modern stool, our assigned Genius crinkled his brow and announced "you need to get a new computer." I saw in my friend's eyes the arc of her emotions in those few seconds before she was able to speak coherently again: surprise, helplessness, self-pity, and, finally, anger. I thought she would punch our Genius, and I had the urge to grab our Genius by the shoulders and shake him 'til he rattled. But instead, we did what any sane person would do when faced with adversity of this level: we hightailed it out of there and headed to the nearest dive bar. I bought the first round of several we had that night. Genius my ass.

So when the anonymous Genius on my iTunes suggests songs for me to purchase or mixes a playlist based on what's already in my music library, I usually ignore it. That evening in the SoHo Apple store revealed the irony behind the whole Genius label. And purchasing one Poison song certainly does not merit owning a whole album by Cutting Crew. (Apparently, iTune Geniuses are not familiar with sarcastic, nostalgic impulse buys.) But today I was intrigued by the title "Winter Song" and decided to hear a sample of it. Yeah, I wound up buying it and thus contributing to the whole Apple Genius notion, but take a listen and I'll explain more later.

Winter Song/Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

I guess you can say that my month of December 2010 was the worst I've ever experienced. For anyone that's followed my 100 Days of Norma, you already know my story. My Mom died six months ago and since then I've been questioning many things in my life. Turning the microscope on oneself is extremely painful, especially when you discover deep holes in your being that you thought were just minor abrasions. It's one thing to know that someone you loved will never show up for another birthday or holiday. It's another to realize you were never equipped with the means to deal with such a grave and sudden loss.

So this song, provided by an unlikely source on a day fraught with reflection of the past year and expectation of the next twelve months, resonated in my heart (as corny as that may sound). Today I sat on my bed and played it over and over again until my kids couldn't stand it anymore. I played it over and over again until I could hear it without crying.

Because of this song, I finally have a goal for the new year, but for me the year ends on Father's Day, the day my Mom died. I need to find a place for the love I still have for my Mom. I still stubbornly carry it because it's all I have left. And it displaces all my other feelings and concerns. The questions of who do I love and do I still love and when can I love again are unanswered ones. And before I can answer them, I need to let go.

So this is my winter song, and I'll sing it with resolve.