The Angry Earworm

Snow tires off but memories on

The snow tires came off the car yesterday because April is coming. I used them earlier this month to drive a path toward personal enlightenment. But since I’m dense, it took some repetition and a lot of annoyance before I finally got the message.

Great plans!

I’d arranged to drive 130 miles south from my home north of Portland Oregon to Eugene to see a couple of grandkids and my aunt. I’m not a natural event planner, so after multiple texts and phone calls that taxed my skills, I quietly celebrated arranging times and events with all three people.

There were winter storm warnings, but those had often fizzled in prior weeks, and since my thumbs were already weary with texting, I didn’t want to reschedule again. Besides, when I was in college, my family lived on a mountain called Bald Peak where they got a lot of snow, and I know that I can drive in winter weather.

I woke up to snow flurries on my travel morning, but I was headed south to where I assumed it would be warmer. I didn’t bother to look at the weather in Eugene because I just wanted to beat the notorious Portland early morning rush hour. I threw in a “go kit” with emergency supplies in case I got stranded, and then I headed south.

When visits to see grandkids are on the line, it is easy to convince myself that I should make any trip.

A phone call

About 40 miles from Eugene I took a break for a hot drink. My granddaughter, Emily, called to let me know her university just shut down, and that snow was building up in Eugene. My grandson doesn’t have cell reception where he lives in the country, but she was sure he would not be able to leave home to meet me. I thought about my Aunt Jenny, and since she lives on a highway north of Eugene where there is a lot of construction, I assumed I could get to see her.

As I thought about whether or not to continue, I didn’t know that 40 miles south of me, Eugene was getting 11 inches of snow at the airport and an Amtrak train was already stuck.

Sometimes ignorance is a good thing.

I knew that if I turned around, there was a 100% chance of regret from being so close and yet missing family. Thinking about the odds, I also knew there would be lots of people on the road, and only a small percentage of them would get stuck. Besides I was prepared.

I texted Emily to say I was coming.


As I continued my journey, snow was building up on the freeway, and I made it the last 40 miles to Eugene following the same semi the whole way. Eyes on the road. However, I did see an SUV that passed us spin off the freeway in the distance. Probably not an old driver, I thought.

Before I reached Eugene, the big flashing signboards said that traction devices would be necessary to continue south. But, I had them, and I was continuing.

The Beltline was a mess. I smiled and told myself to, “Keep it fun, not frantic!” as I kept up speed to drive around stalled cars on an offramp.

Then, as I drove down Delta Highway in the tracks of a couple of other vehicles, I realized that I couldn’t identify Jenny’s driveway and I knew that I would never see her that day. Eugene isn’t used to this much snow, and the contractors, as well as some police rigs, were grounded.


Emily and I managed to connect and find an independent coffee shop that was open near the small private college she attends. This is Emily’s third year, and she will be graduating this spring. She went to college with an athletic scholarship, so in prior years she has been focused and time-stressed as she juggled practice, travel, school, and a campus job. But this year she gave up the scholarship to focus on studies and graduate early. With her unexpected snow day, I was happy to enjoy some of her free time.

Emily is a humanitarian with a spiritual core, and it is good for my heart to listen to her talk about possibilities for service in her future. As we visited, occasionally I noticed a song in the intergeneration mix that played in the background, but the tunes quickly escaped my head as I listened to Emily discuss her insights and dreams.

As we departed, I knew that even if I got stuck in the snow before I got home, I would sit in my car with gratitude for every moment I’d had with Emily.

The unwelcome earworm

As I drove from Eugene, one of the songs I heard in the coffee shop crawled up from under a pile of snow to start playing in my head. I get those little revolving tunes a lot. I often don’t know all the words, can’t sing the melody out loud, and maybe don’t even know the artist. But that doesn’t stop the neverending earworm from circling in my brain.

In this case, I knew the song was from Loggins and Messina, and I knew most of the words. Back in 1973, Angry Eyes was one of two rock albums left behind after we felt we needed to evict an adopted young adult from our home. He gave me permission to play his music after I sent him away, so in heartache and worry, I spun the tunes as I stumbled through my chores.

Now as I drove home in the snow, I tried to bury the disdainful earworm with other music and deprive it of air. But the next day the angry bugger crawled up and remained in my head when all I longed for was silence.

It was a few days of this every-playing annoyance before I realized that having angry eyes might have helped me back when I first listened to that album. I nodded to myself and hoped that with that awareness, the earworm would crawl away.

But instead, the worm just got stronger and kept creeping out my head.

Does the universe use earworms to communicate?

About another week went by before I realized that in addition to the past, anger may help me now as I try to reconcile my life. Not to accuse, but to own feelings that I should have expressed or acted on throughout the years.

I’ve forgiven everyone else in my story, so to unearth what I have forgiven seems somehow wrong. Not forgiving. Not helpful.

But then as Angry Eyes kept roaring in my head, I disconnected forgiveness from heartache; I realized that I need to excavate and own the thoughts I should have felt decades ago. It may help me grow up, or mature, own my voice, or whatever it is I’m trying to do now. I grasped that perhaps anger will allow me to see into my soul and move on in one piece.

As then as I thought about uncoupling forgiveness from honest awareness,  Angry Eyes stopped playing in my head, and I knew it was time to start writing about Dad.

One thought to “The Angry Earworm”

  1. Thanks for a good morning read. Your writing is seemingly so light but with such subtle depth.
    I look forward to the next posting.

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