When The Shop Is Dark And Closed [Who Is Harry Chapin Anyway?]

A Hobbyist At Best

Although I did go to college, I’m not formally educated in writing, graphics or web design. I didn’t write much at all until after my husband left and I started journaling for self-therapy. As such, I don’t  profess to be any kind of real ‘writer’ or professional blogger

I’m a hobbyist, at best. Think of me as more along the lines of a feral blogger, playing somewhere in the wild, hiding out from all the folks who do consider themselves ‘real’ writers. LOL. Hide? Yes, I said hide. Hide, lest the grammar nazi’s find me and flog me publicly. I have this thing with embarrassment.

Lord only knows how many participles I’ve left dangling and scattered along the way. Hopefully some kind soul has come along and built an orphanage or two for all the infinitives I’ve split and left to fend for themselves alone in the blogosphere. I’m definitely a person who needs an editor.

Nah, I’m simply a closet creative whose hobby has now has become a passion.

ADHD In the Closet

I write like I think—and therein lies the problem. My writing probably is not in approved format most of the time. Hey, it took me decades to even find my ‘voice’, so grandma here has to get it typed out as quickly as she can before it evaporates and is reabsorbed into the recesses of the steel trap that is known as my mind. Eye roll.

Admittedly, there are a few co-morbidities that affect my writing. First, I’m blessed [cursed?] with a wicked sense of humor and I’m constantly having to swat it back on a constant basis to stick to any kind of story line. Second, I also love graphics and visual layout just much as I love to write. And then there’s that music thing; I can find a song for every occasion or topic. Don’t even get me started on that one.

I said all that to say this: I have a hard time staying on one path.

I get inspired. I start writing furiously, and then [squirrel!], I get another idea and I have to stop and find just the right graphic—or at least write it down—lest I forget. Often, before I’m finished with that task, then [squirrel!], I notice that my paragraphs are looking all blocky and text-intensive, so [squirrel], I start messing around with paragraph division, headlines, and pull quotes.

Not For Prime Time But Who Really Cares?

Dialing this runaway dialogue back over to the serious setting again until the end of this post, I think I’m a lot like the character ‘Mr. Tanner’ that Harry Chapin sang about back in 1973. I doubt that too many folks today’s have even heard of Harry Chapin or that song.

The song [aptly entitled ‘Mr. Tanner’] tells the story of a man from Dayton, Ohio, my hometown, coincidentally. He is a dry cleaner by trade, yet music and singing was his life’s passion.

The lyrics artfully paint the mental imagery of him happily singing to himself while cleaning clothes during the day, and then singing with all his heart after the shop is closed for the night. His friends and neighbors encourage him to expand his singing into more than just something he enjoyed; they encouraged him to try to make it his livelihood. Finally, he caves to their insistence and decides to try making music his full time career. Sadly, he is less than well received by his Hall Of Critics.

After his anti-climatic debut, he placidly returns to where he started: back to being just a lowly dry cleaner, content with the fact that whether anyone else applauds or  not, he enjoys his passion for music.

The Mr. Tanner Connection

How this relates to me is that I write, if that’s what you want to call it. I make videos. I play with graphics. Since my husband cleaned out the bank and left me with the debts when he ghosted, I lost my home after I lost my job and could no longer work.

I now live with a dear friend and her family. Being retired, I clean their home, do all the laundry, and run daily errands for them in return for my keep. Then at night, after my contributions to the household are completed [‘when the shop is dark and closed’], I steal away by myself and write and do my graphics.

I do it because I love it. And whether anyone see it, reads it, likes it or not, I’m like Mr. Tanner. All I know is that it just makes me whole.



He did not know how well he sang, he only heard the flaws …

But the critics were concise, it only took four lines.
And no one could accuse them of being over kind.

[spoken] “Mr. Martin Tanner, a Baritone, of Dayton, Ohio made his Town Hall debut last night. He came well prepared, but unfortunately His presentation was not up to contemporary professional standards.
His voice lacks the range and tonal color necessary to make it consistently interesting. Full time consideration of another endeavor might be in order.”

He came home to Dayton and was questioned by his friends.
But he smiled and just said nothing and he never sang again,
Excepting very late at night when the shop was dark and closed.
He sang softly to himself as he sorted through the clothes.

Music was his life, it was not his livelihood,
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole. “

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