The American Way

“My Life” as written by Marshall B. III Mathers, Adam Levine, Larry Darnell Jr. Griffin, Curtis James Jackson and Herbert Louis Rooney

Got a call from an old friend we used to be real close
Said he couldn’t go on the American way
Closed the shop, sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast
Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A.

I don’t need you to worry for me cause I’m alright
I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone

I never said you had to offer me a second chance
I never said I was a victim of circumstance
I still belong
Don’t get me wrong
And you can speak your mind
But not on my time

They will tell you you can’t sleep alone in a strange place
Then they’ll tell you can’t sleep with somebody else
Ah but sooner or later you sleep in your own space
Either way it’s okay you wake up with yourself

The inspiration for the name of this blog came from a Billy Joel song.

When I was a little girl my dad would drive my two older sisters and me to his house in Warner Robins, Georgia, which was about thirty minutes or so from where we lived with Mom in Macon. Daddy had a few staple albums, or tapes, I should say, that he listened to in the car, one of them being Billy Joel’s greatest hits, which included Piano Man, Only the Good Die Young, Big Shot, and of course, My Life. All the sock-it-to-you, take-that, I’ve-had-it-up-to-here songs, and Daddy would pound his fist on the steering wheel for emphasis as he sang along to the songs. Looking back on it I have often imagined he may have been thinking about Mom and the divorce, although this was years after their divorce, and he could very well have been thinking about life in general, and all of the rules society forces on you when you got your 18-year-old girlfriend pregnant and now here you are, ten or so years later with an ex-wife, three girls, a mortgage, and a job working at the air force base. Which isn’t so bad, or may not have been so bad to him anyway, and is really just me imposing my own ideas about what that may be like, which is basically that it’s depressing. But it’s a fact of life for a lot of people, and I doubt they’re all wallowing in a mire of self-pity over it.

One of the comments that a reader posted on about this song was that the opening is about Billy Joel himself and his choice to chuck “the American way” and do his own thing in L.A. I wanted my blog URL to be because it was, in a way, ironic, or satirical, or middle-fingeresque, because I’m saying, Eff the American way, I’m doing my own thing. I certainly don’t have the white picket fence life, nor do I want it, but at the same time, I’m another worker bee trying to make it like thousands of other people in this country. So I pretty much am living the American way whether I want to or not; it’s not like I’m living off the grid.

And I liked because I like the phrase, This is MY life. This is my LIFE. THIS is my life. This IS my life. No matter what word you emphasize, there’s no denying that this sentence is full of meaning, it carries weight, it’s about making a decision to live my life for myself for a change and no one else, no apologies, final answer.

But both and were taken, so I settled for, which I like better, because it’s closer to the truth for me, for this blog. It’s like the saying “wherever you go, there you are.” Yes, we can go our own way and take a geographical cure and leave for another town, but when I wake up in the morning, I’ll still be me. Taking this phrase out of context from the song changes the meaning of what the writer probably intended, but I don’t care. I like the idea of waking up, waking up with yourself, and the idea of figuring out your identity. Nothing matters and it will all be okay because when I wake up, if I’m lucky enough to wake up from this trance, if you want to get all Buddhist about it, then I’ll find who I truly am.


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