Bizarre Love Triangle

Me, You and the Music I’m Putting You Through
~by Sheila Squillante

“The Prayer of Kala Rupa”
Monks of the Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery in Dharmasala, India

“Twice in my life I had the same vision, I was suspended in the center of a sphere that was not a sphere, every point of it converged at my head and my feet like the poles of a magnet. I felt the weight of the Universe through my spine, it was not harmful but overwhelming. And I heard a sound, deafening, the whole Universe’s vibration. This is the closest to that sound.”–YouTube user, solnegrolunaroja


I was pregnant with my first child. I was woozy and large, overheated under late July sun, under the heat of generation. I sought refuge in the cool dark of a theater with my husband. On the screen, a movie star, a family drama, an alien invasion. From the screen, a sound, a single, reverberating note to score the extermination of humanity. I was the center of a sphere that was not a sphere, and I was not even the center, but my child was. I felt the weight of him, suspended there. Invasion. The sound emanating from the screen chaos, the expunging, fields of blood, bodies, my body, my body, through the filmic fear. It reached through the dark and found me, converged at my head and my feet, vibrated up through our two, tuned spines. It plucked me away from safety. It felt harmful and overwhelming. Continue reading

Bizarre Love Triangle

Me, You and the Music I’m Putting You Through

–by Sheila Squillante

For three years in my late twenties, after my divorce, I dated a man who almost never said my name. And it wasn’t as if he was simply subbing my given name for a series of affectionate nicknames. I wasn’t “baby,” or “sweetie” or “pookums.” I was simply the recipient of his speech, or a pronomial referent. I was “you” or “she,” or even “hey,” but never Sheila. I’m not sure at what point in our obviously quite doomed relationship I realized it, but once I did, I listened for it constantly. I began to obsess about it, telling my friends, “He never says my name.” It wasn’t his only withholding, but it hurt me in a strange, primal way. More than wanting him to suddenly become publicly affectionate, or to actually book his plane ticket to see me on his own, without my prodding for once, I wanted him to say my name.

I have, it seems, a pretty uncommon name for someone my age. I’ve never been in school with another Sheila, and in my whole life, the only other Sheilas I’ve met (with the exception of just last year, when I heard a mom on the playground call out to her “little Sheila”—which is how my family always referred to me) were either my aunt, after whom I was named, or women of her generation, 20 years older. Sheila is not a classic American name. It was a trend in the 1950s, and only ever reached #62 on those baby name charts would-be parents consult while nesting. I’ve always liked that. I like being a little unusual. I like my name, and it feels good to hear it spoken. Continue reading

Bizarre Love Triangle

Me, You & the Music I’m Putting You Through
~by Sheila Squillante


“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”

Music & Lyrics by Tommie Connor
Recorded by Jimmy Boyd


Santa Claus died on Easter Sunday, 1975 or ‘76.

I remember the thin spring sunlight coming through my morning window and the thrill of that first moment of wakefulness that sprung me out of bed and down the hallway to the living room to see.

Yes! It had come!

There, on the coffee table, two pastel plastic baskets wrapped in cellophane and heaped with jellybeans and sugared treats. A giant chocolate bunny towering above.

My sister and I, delighted, dug in. Our mother, equally delighted, gestured at the stairs coming from the front door, “Look, girls! Look what The Bunny left!”

On each step, a powdery paw print, whiter than the off-white carpeting, beautiful as brocade.

Wait just a minute…

It’s April in Lexington, KY. There is no snow on the ground and bunnies do not, unless they are suffering from some kind of horrible holiday alopecia, leave clumps of fur in perfectly tailored paw-shapes.

Thus did I, at five or six years old, call bullshit on this whole Easter Bunny Thing.

And then, in the next moment, the Tooth Fairy, leprechauns and, finally, Santa, all went POOF as well.

My mother saw the veil fall away and whisked me into the bedroom before I could spill my protest to my little sister. “Please,” she said, “help us pretend.” Continue reading

Bizarre Love Triangle

Me,  You and the Music I’m Putting You Through

~by Sheila Squillante


Led Zeppelin IV

“Stairway to Heaven”
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin IV
Atlantic Records, 1971

Suite: Stairway to Heaven, New Fairfield High School, 1984

You love Stairway to Heaven because of its slow, sumptuous melody. You love the lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold because you know her troubled optimism.  You love Stairway to Heaven because you know if you wait long enough—until the penultimate song at your high school mixer—the cool, smart boy you adore will finally consent to dance. He will lead you on to the gym floor in front of his cool, smart friends, wrap his thin, muscled forearms around your waist and lock his confident hands into the small of your back—a hard knot of promise for what could come later, at the boat launch, on Ball Pond, in the dark. Continue reading

Bizarre Love Triangle

 Me, You and the Music I’m Putting You Through.

~by Sheila Squillante

“Bizarre Love Triangle”
New Order
Factory Records, 1986


Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It’s no problem of mine
But it’s a problem I find
Living a life that I can’t leave behind

The first thing I need you to know is that I am no audiophile. I did not grow up obsessing about album drop dates or scanning the racks at local record stores for bootleg copies or rare imports. I did not camp out to get tickets to big arena shows and I rarely attended small club venues. I don’t like crowds. The swell and crush of them. The everywhere of them. I’m short and can’t see over them. In 1987, I had to balance on the back of the chair in front of me at the Hartford Civic Center, with my arms wrapped around a Very Tall Friend’s neck so I wouldn’t fall, just to catch a glimpse of the top of Bonos’ big, swaying head. With some very specific exceptions, I am not someone who cares all that much about the sound quality of vinyl versus digital.

What I’m saying is that I have almost no musical cred.

And yet I’m compelled to write about what this song does to me just as I’m compelled to drop my head to my chest and move my shoulders back and forth and back and forth as as I sit here at my dining room table strewn with my children’s art project detritus, dirty spoons and coffee mugs, while the stereo speakers crackle and thump with 80s New Wave.

Continue reading