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February 19, 2020

“Isn’t it Ironic?”

Isn’t it ironic” that Jagged Little Pill was released 25 years ago and yet I continue to be quite obsessed with it?

Or is it? I’m still not sure how to specifically define ironic even after seeing the new Broadway musical based on the album this past weekend with my 15 year old niece, but in a real life way, I’m beginning to be ok with not being able to define it and enjoying the mystery and curiosity the word instills for me! And for a nerd noteaholic, that’s not easy to admit!

When you look up the word IRONIC in the dictionary, it’s defined as “happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this”

Wry amusement makes me laugh out loud. I guess I should write LOL, but forgive me as I’m stuck back in the 90’s while writing this, which I thibj might be the whole point. I was quite a bit (ok a lot) older than my niece when the album came out in 1995, but my memory is still good and it’s songs are ingrained in my head from repeated listens and singings on my part. This album was the symbol of the beginning of adulthood for me, way after it should have been. It was my first year of med school and although I was in my mid 20’s in chronological age, I was way behind emotionally, socially and relationship wise – probably more like somewhere in my mid to late teens, and this music, more than any other, helped me fast forward closer to my true age.

I would say it’s ICONIC for me, rather than IRONIC!

I do remember listening to it ALL the time and that was before we really could listen to it all the time. I dragged my CD Walkman with me everywhere so I could listen to Alanis belt the words out, singing along at the top of my lungs whenever and wherever I could, going over and over the lyrics from morning to night and probably in my dreams as well.

I listened to it while studying, while walking to class, while waking up at 3am, while trying to sleep on call and while hanging out with friends. I compulsively prayed for the songs to be played on the car radio when I was driving and danced my ass off to them when they played during my far and few between social gatherings, most of which happened on SHIT nights (so happy it’s Thursday) at the medical school!  Respectfully I held back from listening to it during anatomy dissection class, but looking back, I wish I could have – I believe the music would have helped us get through the rigors and demands and dehumanization of the cadaver dissections.

Overall, the songs on this iconic album were my little piece of joy and fun, as well as the little sliver of rebellion throughout a tough and demanding part of my life. They helped me and my friends through the intensity and difficulty of the lectures during the first two years of med school and through the exhausting, crippling  80+ hour weeks of the last two years – through the ups and downs and the joys and sorrows of learning to be doctors as well as through the heartbreaks of early adulthood life, including several relationships ending because of my own immaturity and the overwhelming demands.

“Isn’t it Ironic?” was of course my favorite of all the songs and visualizing all the lyrics as it played and as I sung it was a big part of how it kept me sane during that time! I could imagine rain on my wedding day and in fact, 5 years later, it did rain buckets on my wedding day.

So when I heard they were making a musical based on the album, I couldn’t wait to get tickets to see it and at my first opportunity, I did, and brought my beautiful 15 year old niece along with me for the ride.

And what a ride it was! Hearing all those songs 25 years later synthesized into a beautiful story of love is love and #metoo and a troubled marriage and a son going off to college soon, and so much more, emphasized to me the iconic-ness of the album and all it’s songs and clarified to me how timely and universal the messages were for all of us.  It was beautiful and stunning,  ironic and iconic and seeing it through my 25 years older eyes AND especially through the eyes of my 15 year old niece made it even more special, because it reminded me that life is often exactly what we don’t expect and while that can be extremely difficult sometimes, often times it’s for the best!

It was almost eerie how much the storyline of the musical paralleled my life and communal life for a lot of us over these past  25 years – so much so that I’ve been signing one specific line from “isn’t it ironic” since we saw it, one that encapsulates it all for me.

That line is “It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take”- but that’s a whole other story!

To be continued….

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