"I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet..."

As I tried to focus my willpower into editing my resume and rewriting my cover letters today, I came across an old song that used to be among my most played: Frank Sinatra's "That's Life."

In my middle school, one of the first assignments for the 8th grade was the Wax Museum. The students would select an important historical or cultural figure (typically deceased, though not necessarily), write up a monologue in the figure's voice, and then embody and perform as the figure. The Wax Museum was among my school's best traditions--students as young as the kindergartners and as old as the high school seniors would come to visit. The entirety of the old gymnasium was filled with 8th graders wearing wigs and toting props, representing scientists, athletes, kings, presidents--all sorts of people.

I decided on Frank Sinatra. Even though he was a guy, I wanted to be Frank Sinatra for the D-E Wax Museum.

Were I to do something like this today, I would want to do Aretha Franklin, though I wasn't a terribly confident singer in middle and high school, largely because of the favoritism that pervaded the choirs and a cappella--needless to say, I was not a favorite. But given how I saw myself, and, more importantly in middle school, how people saw me, I couldn't have pulled off someone as dynamic as Aretha. Well, come my 5-year high school reunion, a change is gonna come, dearest lovers and haters!

But Frank was a perfect choice for me in the 8th grade. And still is now, to a certain extent. We shared a birthplace in New Jersey, blue eyes, and the uncanny ability to work a look with a fedora. And a love of singing--no--performing. He was conventional and yet extraordinary, a desirable combination of characteristics, for an 8th grader as much as an 80-year-old.

I remember singing "My Way" to an unamused headmaster, who proceeded to give me a crap grade because singing that particular song put my monologue a minute over the time limit. I also remember trying to settle a personal matter with Elvis (the person who dressed as him, though Elvis and Sinatra have an amusing history). Aside from these things, I don't remember terribly much from the Wax Museum. It's more the preparing for it that I remember: learning to appreciate my dad's love for the Rat Pack, memorizing the lyrics, trying to master the smooth, supported vocal style of the iconic Frank.

And once I got beyond the staples, "Fly Me to the Moon," "Witchcraft," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "The Way You Look Tonight," and the like, I discovered some Sinatra tracks that really moved me. Or at least had a little more connection to me than simply being heard over the speakers at Starbucks.

"Learnin' the Blues" was one, "Send in the Clowns" from 'A Little Night Music' was another, especially since it was among the songs that I practiced often in the intermittent voice lessons I've taken over the years. "That's Life" topped the list. I liked "My Way," too. They lyrics of both are solid, and the messages of unwillingness to be defeated, living without regrets, and whatnot are common to both songs, but "That's Life" has a beat and overall feel that are much less morbid. One way to think of it: "My Way" is the song that the singer of "That's Life" would sing when he is 50 years older.

That said, in my job search, I can't help but ironically sing the concluding words of "That's Life":

"But if there's nothing shakin' come this here July

I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die. My, my!"