So I’m strolling down the hotel hall* in my new black flipflops, and as I round a corner it occurs to me that I’m humming “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from the musical Annie (which, by the way, I haven’t seen since elementary school). Suddenly I’m searching the area for a crowbar, a jackhammer, a radio – anything that will pry, pound, or flush the bubbly tune from my cranium. Nothing. I’m stuck. Only hurrying with my ice refill, slapping back down the hall, and throwing myself at my exhausted iPod or the hotel room’s tiny clock radio will do the trick. Until I find out my husband has Phil Collins’ “One More Night” in his head. Goodbye, show tune. Hello sweet, sappy ’80s ballad.

Most of the time it seems like my life is accompanied by a soundtrack not of my own choosing. In college, I once underwent three months in Mexico singing either “Celito Lindo” or the original version of “Macarena” in my off hours. A couple years ago, I spent a weekend rafting on the San Juan River doing everything in time with the decidedly uncatchy “Amie” by Pure Prairie League. Infectious melodies regularly add to my insomniac misery as I sigh through hours of wakefulness with songs ranging from Jack Johnson’s “Good People” to Beck’s “Hell Yes” running an endless loop in the background. And I can never think of the musical West Side Story without suffering a deluge of show tunes, most especially “America”. It’s amazing how often that Romeo and Juliet adaptation comes to mind simply because I try to resist all thoughts of it.

My brother recently proved to me that the best way to lodge a song in someone’s head is to sing only part of it, stopping midway through – preferably in the middle of a word. This way the person’s brain is forced to continue the melody, starting over and over, until it finds a satisfactory ending. Like Sisyphus and the rock, a satisfying climax never occurs. No wonder it’s death to my peaceful mind when I switch stations partway through “The Milkshake Song”. I assure you, however, that I haven’t listened to “It’s a Hard Knock Life”, either in whole or in part, since a friend last subjected me to her cheerful off-key rendition months ago. So what brought it up?

I’m sick of my usual “ear worms” as they’ve come to be called, and am hereby suggesting a trade. I tell you what I have in my head, and you tell me what you’re singing. (Chances are, it’s now one of the songs I’ve mentioned above. I’m so sorry. Truly.) Or are you one of those lucky people who isn’t subjected to fourteen straight hours of “It’s a Small World After All” just because a coworker finishes a story of running into an old classmate in the deli section of her grocery store with a cheerful, “It really is a small world, isn’t it?” If so, not only are you part of the lucky 2%, but you’re really missing out. I mean, you actually have to turn on a radio to hear a little music. Really, I feel so much pity for you.

*Yes, we’re already on vacation, and have been for a while, which is why I haven’t been haunting the blogosphere as much as usual. Expect more of the same over the next several weeks. Not that blogging’s been totally off my mind, of course. Hubs and I already stayed several nights with the delightful, talented Robin, and I’ll meet up with a few others at the RWA conference next week. If you’re going, too, maybe I’ll see you there! (In the meantime, though, be sure to check out Pam’s posts on preparing for Nationals.) So, really, you are far from forgotten, even when I myself am far from a good network connection.