Jann Arden is a musical talent quite unlike any other songstress in Canada or the world for that matter. She is an award winning songwriter who sings about heartache with lyrics born from melancholy musings. The interesting thing that sets Jann apart from other balladeers is her indomitable sense of humour. Her keen sense of irony comes through in her witty and wise words but her silly side really shines through her public persona.
"Humour is the only way to get through life. I chose to be happy." - Jann Arden
If you've ever witnessed any of Jann's interviews then you will know what I'm referring to. To view a sample of this candid, comical woman's witty ways check out the Random House Canada interview outtakes video. I recommend you keep some tissue handy in case you laugh so hard you end up crying as in my case!
I can tell you, and Jann if she happens to stumble upon my blog, that's it's about time she shares her stories in a memoir. In Falling Backwards Jann shares memories of teachers who inspired her and recalls her fear of the contents of her baby blue thermos. Jann tells tales of teen angst and dreams, from her first kiss to her first perm that still haunts her today. Jann recollects the dynamics of her close family unit - photos included - and reflects on the early signs that her younger brother was headed down a troubled road. Jann relays stories of her coming of age as a musician and harkens back to a time when she would fall asleep with her father's transistor radio under her pillow. So, without further ado, I'm pleased to share an excerpt from Falling Backwards. Enjoy!
Excerpt From FALLING BACKWARDS:
I was reluctant, to say the least, to get here. My mother tells the story on pretty much every birthday I have ever had. She most often smiles—a laugh lurking inside of her little bird–like chest—and says, “When you were born, I said, ‘Let me die, let me die.’” She really isn’t kidding.
For some reason, that line always made me laugh too. Not that it was a prelude to a happy tale, but it was a funny one nonetheless. She’d go on to say that the doctor just let her suffer through two long days of pushing and pushing and pushing to no avail. I guess I was backwards or feet first or probably just refusing to come out of her at all. Why would I want to fly out into the abyss without really knowing what in God’s name I was getting myself into? I’d still be in there now if I’d had my way.
One thing about being born: it’s hard for everybody involved. You learn within a few seconds that it’s not going to be easy being a person. That first breath must really be something. I am kind of glad I don’t remember it. The human body is an extraordinary thing. What it is capable of doing is, quite simply, miraculous.
I can’t even begin to figure out how an eight– or nine– or, God forbid, twelve–pound body inches its way out of something that seems to be smaller than the slot in a slot machine. And never mind that, after the twelve–pound body has fought its way out of the womb, the whole bloody layer–upon–layer works suddenly just folds itself back together like a book with a few ripped–up pages. Like nothing ever happened. Kind of like a Slinky.
My mother would disagree with me, I’m sure, as something did indeed happen. I am in pain just thinking about childbirth. In fact, I suddenly have to fold my legs together and hum “Happy Birthday.” My poor mother; all that suffering, and for what?
Oh yeah, me.
My mom said that back in those days they didn’t just give women C–sections like they do now. I mean, now women pick the day they’d like to have their baby.
“Ah yes, Doctor, I have March 27th open after 4 p.m. after my pedicure.” I can just picture that in my head. In 1962, they made you push until you thought you couldn’t push anymore. Epidurals weren’t even that common. It was natural childbirth or bust. She almost did bust.
“I thought it was either going to be you or me,” she’ll often say. I tell mom that I am really very glad that it wasn’t either of us.
I always ask the same questions. Where was dad? Wasn’t he in the room? Didn’t they let men in the birthing room?
“He didn’t want to come in,” she says. “He went home and went to bed while I was lying there thinking I would die.”
My mom was apparently just about to throw in the towel on the both of us when the doctor appeared. They were finally, after two days, going to do a C–section. They had to call him at home to come in to do the operation and, according to my mother, he took his sweet time getting there. You’d think they could maybe have found another doctor who was in the hospital? To top things off, I think he got caught in a snowstorm. Yes, a snowstorm in March, which is fairly typical for Alberta. It can snow in Calgary in July.
Fortunately for my mother and for me, we didn’t end up needing him after all—not for a C–section, anyway—because I decided to come out into this complicated world all on my own. I think all the doctor ended up doing was grabbing my legs and turning me around. I mean, turning a person around? In a womb? My dear mother said it was nothing short of agony. I have given her the odd sympathy card on my birthday. It seems fitting, somehow. The card simply reads, “I am sorry about your vagina. Love, Jann.”
Excerpted from Falling Backwards by Jann Arden Copyright © 2011 by Jann Arden. Excerpted by permission of Random House of Canada.
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