Copyright

Copyright: (n) the exclusive right to make copies in music

I had just turned nineteen years of age when I was sitting in the back area of my mother and father’s loan company which they had opened in our small town, and for some inexplicable reason, there was a piano situated in one of the corners.

I don’t know how it got in there. I don’t know whether someone was unable to pay their loan and offered their piano as penance—but it was there.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I was also present—with my new wife, whom I had only been married to for about seven months, but we already had a first son. (You do the math.)

Long story apparently being made longer, I decided to walk over to that piano and write a song. I had sung songs for years. I had done my karaoke versions of popular tunes long before the “Kary” came from “Okie.”

I don’t know what gave me the idea that I could write a song. Maybe it was because I was nineteen and pretty convinced I could do anything. Somewhere in the expanse of the next hundred and eighteen minutes, I wrote two songs. I had no idea if anybody would think they were good—I was so damn impressed with them that the notion of seeking another opinion seemed redundant.

I did not know if I would ever write another song, so I immediately wanted to make sure these two songs were not only recorded, but copyrighted—to make sure that no less-talented individuals would steal them, attaining great notice and gain.

There were two ways to copyright my songs. I could make original copies of the lead sheet and words, and mail them to myself, and never open that envelope because it would have the stamped date on the outside from the official Post Office.

This did not sound dramatic enough to me.

So instead, I pursued the other avenue, which was to contact the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C, and receive innumerable forms, which I filled out, paying a small price for each composition. From that point on, once it was cleared that my songs were indeed original, I would have a copyright for all time.

My God. Who could resist such majestic red tape?

I went through the entire process, and even today, somewhere buried deep in a box in one of my closets, is a certificate informing the whole world that my two songs made a visit to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and returned home again—sanctified.


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Commute

Commute: (v) to travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis.

Sitting around the room at a party last night with a bunch of friends and family, a young man piped up and said, “I evaluate people on whether they voted for this President. If they did I know they’re stupid.”

Well, truthfully, this article could be read forty years from now and it would still apply to someone who felt that way because “their” person did not make the White House.

I did not condemn the young man for his judgmental attitude. I didn’t try to convince him that he was wrong.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I did explain to him that he didn’t understand the mindset, simplicity and utter joy of small-town people all over America–who don’t have to commute an hour-and-a-half to go to work.

If they want a loaf of bread, they climb into their truck, drive down to the local market, where they spend much more time jabbering with their neighbors than getting their purchase. The trip back home takes no more than two minutes. There are no frayed nerves from traffic jams. There are no attitudes that the human race is full of assholes because they got cut off at the one stoplight in town.

It is much easier for them to be genteel.

But it’s also easier for them to be suspicious of the “big city ideas” trying to come in and take over.

When you live in a city where there’s a commute, you, yourself, develop a different pathway to sanity.

You may be more defensive.

You may be more interested in the government taking over matters of social order, since you don’t grow your own corn and soybeans.

You are not worse than the man or woman who lives in Iowa and only needs five minutes to get to their job or their barn.

You’re just different. Your perspective varies from theirs.

Wise is the soul who understands the simplicity of the village folk, and the struggle of those who commute.

 

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Census

Census: (n) an official count or survey of a population

Every census is shortly thereafter followed by a tax. This began with Caesar Augustus in the Christmas story and continues today.

We want to find out how many people there are so we have some idea on how we should divide up the horrific amount of expense that’s involved in the process of us being people.

It’s a fussy way of reminding small towns that they’re shrinking and becoming less important.

The government can also determine where to send its money, and where the census tells them there aren’t as many voters, so no need to be nice.

It begins at an early age, when you plan a party at your house. The following Monday morning, after the party, the normal question is, how many people showed up?

Did you do a head count? Was the party successful because people had nothing else to do so they came to it?

No one asks if the chip dip turned out tasty. What flavors of pizza did you select? Was the discussion lively?

No. It all has to do with numbers.

We are a society obsessed with proving the value of our concept by collecting statistics on how many people are aware that we had a concept in the first place. We fear obscurity.

Yet no one enters the tomb with a companion–no census in the grave.

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Brook

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Brook: (n) a small stream

About two miles outside of our little town, my dad bought a piece of land, where he hoped his growing children would be able to escape and get a sense of “farm” and fresh air.Dictionary B

It wasn’t large, and because it wasn’t tended well, it was usually overgrown.

But every once in a while I got an itch to go out and walk through the tall grass to a clearing where there was a high bank surrounding a brook.

The stream was not very impressive–probably about seven feet across at its widest place, and no more than a foot-and-a-half deep.

But it was usually clear–see right to the bottom.

One day I told my dad I was going to go fishing in the brook. He laughed at me, and explained that our little waterway would not sustain fish because there was no place for them to go.

After soaking my worm in the water for about an hour–to no avail–I realized he was right. I was about to give up when I sensed some movement in some nearby rocks.

It was a little fish.

I don’t know how he got there (or if he was a she). But he was obviously trapped, not knowing which way to go. Every time he swam forward he hit a rock, and every time he swam the other way, he bumped his nose on a stone.

He was literally caught between a rock and a hard place.

So for the next hour, I threw my hook and worm near him, hoping to draw the little fishie onto my rod and reel, so I could go back proudly and tell my dad he was wrong.

When the worm didn’t draw the fish’s attention, I attempted to reach in and grab him. He was very athletic and eluded my grasp.

I finally gave up.

I went to tell my dad to come and see the fish that was in our brook. He waited, puttered around, and finally made his way out to view my discovery.

The fish was gone.

I have no idea how that little blue gill figured out a way to escape his prison. But Nature always comes up with a plan.

Fish are not like us.

They don’t get frustrated, mad … and decide to hide out in their room.

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Bouquet

Bouquet: (n) an attractively arranged bunch of flowers

When you live in a small town, there is usually only one of everything:Dictionary B

  • One drugstore
  • One grocery outlet
  • And one florist

When I was a young boy beginning to dabble in the witchery of romance, I decided, on the arrival of my third date with a young lady, to purchase some flowers. My parents, in an attempt to be supportive, told me I could charge them down at the Bellgrade Floral Shop.

So I walked in, a complete novice, intimidated, and fell victim to a helpful clerk.

She pitied me. She thought it was cute that I was going to buy flowers for my girlfriend. She immediately began to make suggestions. Not wanting to discourage her or come across as a rube, I nodded and agreed to each one of her many considerations.

When she was done, adding in all the baby’s breath (which she explained to me) I had a huge bouquet of flowers. It was impressive.

She asked the question. “How would you like to pay for this?”

Obedient son that I was, I told her that it was to go on my parents’ account. I was thrilled, and my girlfriend was over the moon about her array of garden beauties.

Two weeks later I was called in to my mother and father’s presence because they had received the bill from the Bellgrade Floral Shop.

Fifty-three dollars.

And keep in mind, this was in an era when my dad made seventy-five dollars a week. So he was red with rage and my mother could barely breathe. They asked me, “Why did you spend so much money on those flowers?”

I had no real answer.

I did not know how to explain how the combination of the fragrant greenhouse, the happiness of my girlfriend and the salesmanship of the lady … had swept me away.

 

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Biddy

Biddy: (n) a woman, usually an elderly one regarded as annoying or interfering.

Dictionary BIn the midst of a haze of delusion about my own intelligence, this morning, I once again discovered that a word that I have spelled “b-i-t-t-y” is actually “b-i-d-d-y.”

And believe you me, I have used the word.

Growing up in a small town, I was surrounded by biddies.

Even though I thought they were spelled with “t’s,” the definition held true.

There is some sickness in aging human beings that causes them to forget the total awkwardness involved in learning how things work.

  • No one is born with manners.
  • No one comes out of the womb with an understanding of how to balance a checkbook.
  • No citizen of Earth is hatched with any idea on how to handle his or her genitalia.

Mistakes are needful, obvious and prevalent.

It doesn’t take you long to silence a biddy. All you have to do is look into her past and find the times when she was irresponsible, irreverent or promiscuous.

(It’s not like any human being actually follows the Ten Commandments. We often view them, at best, as suggestions, and more often than not, as annoyances.)

So the best thing you can do as you get older is to develop a great sense of humor and realize there is no short cut to maturity.

It is a painful and clumsy walk through the thorny bramble bushes of confusion.

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Became

Became: (v) past tense of begin to beDictionary B

5:52 A. M.

Groggy, but awake.

In no particular hurry to start the day nor motivated to grab my pillow and embrace additional slumber.

So I think.

I think about what I became.

Because if we don’t stop every once in a while and review the journey, we will fail to acknowledge the value of the miles.

There was never anything special about me. Growing up in a very small town, quality was measured in tiny increments so as to give everybody a chance to be honored.

But especially when I found myself moving into larger villages and then cities, my talent was often weighed in the balances and found wanting.

At that point I had a choice: I could give up, or I could give out.

Giving up was finding a perch suitably small enough to make my offering seem valuable.

Giving out, on the other hand, was admitting lack and trying to find how much grit and mortar I had inside, to build a better possibility.

On those mornings when I awake early, without need of leaping into action, I like to look at what I became:

  • Overweight
  • Under-educated
  • Moderately attractive
  • And sufficiently disguised

Still, I have mustered a life complete with family, fundamentals and a future.

It’s pretty remarkable.

So if any young person would ask me what the key is to success, I would reply very simply, “Stop looking for it. Start doing a daily evaluation … and celebrate what you became.”

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