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Looking in My Mirror…Took Me By Surprise

Wow…ok…this blog post was unexpected, and will probably end up being very random. It was inspired by the #oldheadshotday hashtag that I saw on Twitter Moments last night, then mentioned again by a friend of mine on Facebook.

I decided to get in on the action.

Little known fact about me: in my pre-Sarahdateechur days, I was SarahdawannabeCookieLyon.

Music, itself, was my Lucious. Our romance went a little something like this.

Pre-1981: Dad plays accordion, Mom plays piano, and Mike (brother) dabbles in drums.

1981: Sarah joins the party.

1984ish: Mom teaches Sarah how to play Chopsticks on the piano. Sarah starts noticing Mike’s turntables and relentlessly stalks him, listening to him play Fat Boys, KRS-1, and occasionally Michael Jackson (if memory serves correct).

September 1984: Sarah gets a toy guitar for her third birthday, makes up some song on the spot (in toddler-talk), and performs it for the family.

1985ish: Sarah’s public debut. On a family trip to Puerto Rico, she sporadically bursts into a rendition of Beat It at the airport, one that Mom reminds her of for many years to come (lol Mom :-D).

1986: Kindergarten! Around this time, Mike starts DJing, and buys a drum machine. Sarah goes into his room when he’s not home and plays with it at every opportunity. She also tries scratching on her parents’ record collection. Luckily, no records are permanently damaged.

1990ish: Inspired by Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, and Queen Latifah, Sarah retires the Bobby Brown talent show dance routine, and decides to reinvent herself as a rapper: MC Who. Other kids think this name is hysterical, so she again reinvents herself as Ujima, after the third principle of Kwanzaa. Nobody knows what this means, so they leave it alone.

1992ish: By this time, Sarah has joined the chorus, the orchestra, and gotten better at piano. She also has written her first song, It’s NOT Just an Adult Thang, about how difficult dating can be when you are 10 years old.

Edit: To be clear, I did not cheat on, nor date, anybody in fifth grade. This was all based on observation and conjecture. I did leave anonymous love notes for some dude named Billy in his desk. #notcreepyatall #poorbilly

A classmate tells Sarah that his cousin works for a record label, and to record a demo and give it to him to pass on, which she does (if you can call singing into a tape recorder “recording a demo”). Instead of giving it to his cousin, he passes it around to classmates. When Sarah finds out, she expects people to laugh at her and tease her, but classmates only say, “yeah, I heard it,” which is a major win in sixth grade.

1994: Sarah has a dream of playing an electric guitar on stage, and saves up nearly a years’ worth of allowance to buy her first guitar and amp for $94 (plus tax). The dream is later realized in a high school talent show, where Sarah and a friend sing…some random song she can’t remember 24 years later.

June 1996: The end of freshman year. Sarah has had a successful year in chorus, gaining a spot on the select all-girl choir for SY 1996–1997. She gets her first solo ever at the end of year chorus show, and her parents agree to voice and piano lessons when they see her onstage. Grandma also contributes and encourages.

Fall 1998: Now beginning senior year, Sarah is all about that chorus and drama life. Her classes include Select All-Girl Choir, Select Coed Choir, AP Music Theory, as well as AP French, AP Statistics, AP English, and AP Government (later switched to Government). She successfully auditions for VA Honors Choir, and spends every day at lunch in the practice room, with sheet music she buys from her whopping $5/hr salary working at Gold’s Gym. Let’s not even talk about Drama. That’s another blog post entirely.

Fall 1999: Sarah enrolls at Howard University as a Radio-TV-Film major, French Minor, Vocal Studies Third Subject, but eventually drops the latter. She also starts working at Kemp Mill Music, being promoted to Assistant Manager within a month. Perks include free CDs, free concert tickets, and invitations to industry events. Additional perks, as Sarah discovers, include access to music industry personnel and behind-the-scenes glimpses of industry life. She also visits a cousin in Miami, and sees a recording studio for the first time in real life.

This is getting long…let’s speed it up.

September 2000: Sarah’s 19th birthday. (This will be important later.)

Fall 2001: Sarah becomes Production Manager at the campus radio station, where she has been active since freshman year. This comes with an internship to WHUR, a local big radio station, which Sarah pretty much blows off to do other, much less important, stuff like watching soap operas (reaches backwards and smacks 2001 Sarah upside the head).

June 2002: Sarah must now find another internship, which she does during the summer at Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA). WALA had helped Sarah dodge a bad music distribution deal she received from some stranger dangers she met at the mall in 2000. Even better, they helped for free, because Sarah is a broke college student. This experience inspires her to consider nonprofit entertainment law as a career choice. One day while filing papers, she comes across an outline for a workshop on how to begin a record label.

August 2002: Sarah assembles musical friends from high school, Kemp Mill, and one she happened to meet working last summer as a camp counselor (who had the SAME voice and piano teacher, although they never crossed paths). Together, they establish Royal-T Records (a play on the word “royalties,” i.e. money earned for album sales, as well as standing for Sarah Thomas…Sarah meaning “princess,” and T standing for Thomas).

For college kids, the broke life is real, but eventually they join forces with other local artists and do some really cool stuff.

Fast forward to present day.

After three bands, one album, and countless open mic nights, music is still my first love, but education has taken that top spot for me. I still jam every now and then, and also DJ to get my music fix. Anyone who knows me well is very much aware that I am all about #thatkaraokelife.

This blog post was inspired by me Googling myself to find my old headshots. Here is what I could muster…again, I was living that broke college life, so they were not exactly headshots. I guess more accurately, they were cropped photographs and selfies (before selfies were even a thing).

Looking back, I even found my old blog. It was very short-lived. I joked on Facebook that this was back when I took Kanye West seriously.

After this stroll down memory lane, I decided to finish watching Empire (how appropriate) and get ready for the day. Our EduMatch board meeting last night ended pretty late, so I decided to stay over at my parents’ house. This morning I was in my old room, and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

2018. This is what 36 looks like.

I stopped and stared for a second at my reflection, and thought back to the last time I had done this…it was on my 19th birthday, almost 18 years ago.

This is what 19 looks like.

Back then, it looked grown up, even though now I chuckle at that. I’m still not a grown-up, by my own definition, and probably never will be.

It looked different. It looked “adult.”

Today looks different. It still looks adult, but not quite the same. I’ll file this snapshot into my mental album, until the next time. Now back to Empire.



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Sarah Thomas, PhD

Educator/Regional Tech Coordinator. Passionate about using social media to connect w/ educators around the world. We all have a story. What's yours? #EduMatch