A New Record Player



It is my 9th birthday and we have moved out of Pacoima to a seemingly better town. I still don’t trust this process so I keep my frown in place. Besides, my new teeth are taking too much time growing in and I look like a gargantuan when I smile.

My lack of excitement distresses mom and she knows no other way to convey her wounded emotion than to yell at me for being so ungrateful.  She did put a lot of effort into this little family party after all. There is just no way to communicate to her that I am doing this for the whole family’s safety. If I avoid happiness, nothing bad will happen again.

The best gift she had given me up to this age, however, was sitting nicely in the corner of the room I share with my cousin. A brand new record player! All white and black and able to play 45’s and 33’s. Alongside it is the new 45” I had asked for, my favorite song “Boogie-Oogie-Oogie”, by A Taste of Honey.

My mom did good this time. She seemed to hear what I had said I wanted for my birthday. I had recently asked her for a pet Boa Constrictor and instead, she bought me a couple of hamsters. They would have made hearty meals for the snake but instead, I now had a cage to clean, and those rodents stunk. But they were cute…so there’s that.

A New Record Planer (1)

I wanted badly to tell my mom how happy this made me. My new record player and record. I knew that going forward, when we took our monthly family trip to Tower Records I would be able to pick out a new 45” for myself just like my brothers. A true rite of passage this was. I recognized that. I just didn’t say anything.

I also knew that as everything else in our home, the record player was not just mine. I owned nothing, none of us did. We shared everything with everyone. The player would soon be broken by someone else who did not have the same respect I had for it. That’s just how it is when you have so many people with their kids moving in and out of your home. We couldn’t so much as eat a candy bar to ourselves. Everyone had to get a bite.

I don’t have regrets for that part of life. I learned how to share. Also how to avoid attachments to people and things. Perhaps too much. For I have had an ability to move on without looking back in such a way that I would give others abandonment issues. Loved ones, whom I would someday have to make amends. Thank God for a new day, a new life!

My life has taken a magnificent turn! I rarely cry and I am no longer afraid to smile. Unlike my younger years when I associated happiness with the precursor to frightening events. Events that might take my parents away again. At the age of 9, it felt a lot safer to keep my head low.

But at that moment, I was all alone in my room and I proceeded to flip that little piece of wax onto the player like I had seen my step-dad do so many times. Then I dropped the needle the record and listened to the sweet sound emanating from the little speakers attached.


Since I was all alone for the moment and no one would be able to see, I let out a small, closed-mouthed smile…

I hope this writing will bring a sweet smile to someone as well. It’s not enough for me to have joy, I want to share it with everyone I come in contact. Stay Blissful my Friends – E


Does Music Soothe A Savage Beast?


Curious to this often misquoted text, which actually is written as follows “Musick has Charms to sooth a savage BREAST” I wonder if William Congreve mis-spelled the words. Because, I do believe that music does indeed tame or soothe the savage BEAST.

And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. – 1Samuel 16:23

With this thought, I am reminded of one of my not so better moments in life. A bus ride to Sybil Brand Institute for Women back in 1990.  Having not paid a fine, I was sentenced to 10 days at this facility. Oh joy. How I have managed to chose the hard lessons in life.

This was to be quite a long day, being booked in the Van Nuys, CA courthouse then off to holding for several hours with a diverse group of women who had a lot to talk about, shout about and fight about. Now I am known to have a mouth of a sailor but even I could not compete with the vicious expletives being tossed around. Everyone was smoking, cursing, yelling, spitting and just being genuinely obnoxious.

We all had our own histories of traumas, drug use and such. I don’t believe I was better or worse than any other woman there. I was just…well a little bit quieter. That says a lot about where I was at the time. Because quiet is not a word often used to describe Elysia. But on this day, I was observing.

The young girl, who could not have been much older than 18 told us about how she was ready to give up her child to the system for good, though she was pretty sure that  she was done with drugs for good this time. When we got to SIW, she would find out they were kicking her loose and made sure to let us all know she would be thinking of us while she “sparked up that first rock”.

There was the woman who was arrested for child endangerment because of the amount of guns her husband had in the home. She was informed by another woman of the inevitability of getting jumped and then put into protective custody.

Oh and this one homeless girl who had been busted for using and was wearing an upside-down sweatshirt for pants. She was a bit off in her humor I might add, using her attire as part of her jokes…

The girl I was to be handcuffed to on the bus was a heroin addict and in the beginning stages of “kicking”. She would soon be sick and get an uncontrollable bloody nose. The girl sitting behind us would soon get a bloody nose as well, but not from that kind of kicking. She would be getting her ass kicked by a couple of guards due to her belligerent manner.

Even during all this, I held no judgment for any of these women. I understood the reality of their lives – our lives. If only they could be, well a little bit quieter…

Finally the moment arrived for us to get on the bus. I thought it was nice that the driver had KOST 103.5 playing on the radio. Though it was difficult to hear the music behind all the loud voices of my co-passengers. “Biiiitch! I been looking for you!” and “That’s the hoe that has my old man’s kid”!

Then it happened. Daryl Hall and John Oat’s “One on One” began to play. A collective sigh moved amongst us. And everyone knew the lyrics! A beautifully soft chorus sang out. It was truly sweet indeed!

I’m tired of playing on the team
Ooh-It seems I don’t get time out anymore – Whoa-oh-oh (yes they sang that part too)
What a change if we set the pace face to face
No one even trying to score – Whoa-oh-oh (yes they sang that part too)
Oh oh I can feel the magic of your touch
And when you move in close a little bit means so much
Ooh yeah, you’ve got to understand baby
Time out is what I’m here for 

One on one I wanna play that game tonight
One on one I know I wanna play that
One on one I wanna play that game tonight
One on one so slow”

I laughed a little, definitely smiled…as I sang alongside these savage beasts who were women just like me. We were making poor choices with our lives. Some choices because we didn’t know any better and some because well, we didn’t care enough about ourselves to do otherwise.

My life is much different these days. I am happy to say that was the last bus ride to jail I have ever taken. Though, I will always smile when that song is played on the radio. Reflecting on a moment that was instantly changed from humiliating to soothing. Music indeed had tamed our savageness, for at least a few minutes.

Enjoy the music and stay blissful my friends! – E