Slithering Home from Songwriting Class

Tonight I had my first songwriting class. Our homework assignment: write for 10 minutes a day about whatever comes to mind. “Try to be free,” our teacher Steve said. As y’all know, I’ve been doing this assignment for the past 8 months already, though the daily part has been difficult.

He’s a big fan of writing with a pen in a notebook. I find my longhand just can’t keep up with my thoughts as fast as my fingertips on a keyboard. So I’m rebelling and doing it my way.

We have 8 people in our class — all gals, except one guy named Michael. No one really has songwriting experience, and I have to be honest, I don’t have much faith that anyone has any talent. So at least I won’t be too embarrased when I have to sing and play something I’ve written in front of them two weeks from tonight. (Yikes.)

Teacher Steve gave us a few thought starters for our daily journals:

  • Write down “I remember…” and see where it takes you.
  • Think of a color, then go for a walk and notice everything that’s that color.
  • Describe a place that you love.

Then he told us about verses, refrains, choruses and bridges. And to prove his point, he played a song for us on CD. That song had a line in it describing a place as having the “smell of snakes.”

So guess what I’ve been thinking about the whole ride home. Snakes.

I hate snakes. Seeing pictures of them makes my heart stop. I hate them more than hominy, cooked spinach and horror movies. Give me a rat to sleep with any day, or spiders crawling on my sheets.

But at least this topic gives me a few different stories that begin with “I remember.”

I remember this bare spot by the brick porch at the house where I grew up. It was a snake wallowing spot. I’d peek over the edge of the porch to see if a snake was there before I’d go get the mail, then run out to the mailbox across the dead buffalo grass right before the men would come in for lunch on a hot July day. Sometimes I would go in my underwear, just to prove the point that you can do things like that in the country and no one will see you.

The incident that led to this fear of the bare spot was seemingly minor. I was in the house, and Mom called inside to say Dad had killed a snake. He came walking in front of the house with the snake hanging over his gun barrel and a big smile on his face. Whether it was true or not, I always assumed he killed the snake in the bare spot.

(And I’m glad he had better aim at that thing than he did with skunks — he usually got the dog’s water bowl instead.)

Another hot day a couple years later, Trish and I were down at the creek (pronounced “crick”) tooling around underneath the bridge. There wasn’t much of a creek, and the grass on the bank was tall and itchy. We saw a black snake with a red stripe down it’s back. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough! We trotted back to the parsonage, where we found Matt on his BMX, and he set out to hunt it down.

[Editor’s note: When I just read through this, it said “black snack” instead of “black snake.” Perhaps a Freudian slip?]

And finally, I remember going to the hayshed one fall morning — must have been a Saturday — and Dad and Grandpa were stacking hay bales. I don’t remember if I was actually helping or rather doing gymnastics on top of one of the stacks, but pretty soon something came flying through the air at me. It was a snake. It was cold. Dad had thrown it up there. And I never got down from anywhere so fast.

So there you have it. My extreme fear of snakes. And for all you hot single guys out there reading my blog, just remember that pet snakes are dealbreakers. No exceptions.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Gayle said,

    YUK, snakes–When I was little grandpa Nelson killed a snake in the front yard. It wasn’t long after that I went to look at the snake. Wouldn’t you know, it was gone!! Now that snake had come to life and slithered away. (The dog probably drug it off) To this day I can’t stand snakes!!! I am with you, I can handle spiders, rats, mice or anything but snakes. Know the movie “Snakes on the Plane” or “Anaconda”? Couldn’t pay me enough to go see either show. I hide my eyes if there is a snake in a movie. Why do they have to put snakes in a movie slithering around? Why not a mouse?!?!

    Love you


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