How I Learned to Stop Worrying (and Love the Pop)

I didn’t mean to become a hipster [I know, I know, that’s just what a hipster would say]. But it’s true. It happened so gradually, I hardly noticed. Part of it is being a Nashville Native. When every third friend of yours is in a Band You’ve Probably Never Heard of, but Omigod, They’re Seriously Amazing, then that’s the kind of music you listen to most. When you don’t have cable because it’s too expensive, you don’t watch cable. When your friends work at the local radio station, you listen to the locals. Never mind the fact that there really are scarves made to be worn when it’s not cold out, and that skinny jeans actually flatter your [chicken-y] legs. It’s too late: your friends already think you smoke locally grown tobacco out of a corn cob pipe and drink only from Mason Jars.

how-many-hipsters-does-it-take-to-screw-in-a-lightbulb-probably-some-obscure-number-youve-never-hear

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being seen as out-of-touch-in-the-cool-and-mysterious-way most of the time, but there was one time that being hip was a big mistake.

Several years ago, Justin Timberlake, the Dapper Dan of Pop, came to our fair city to promote his astronomically popular Futuresex/Lovesound album [Sorry, Mom. That’s just what it’s called. I can’t help that]. And I didn’t go. Not because I was busy. Not because I didn’t love the album [I both owned it and knew all the words to the Three-Six Mafia guest track]. I didn’t go because I decided JT was pop. And since I listened to NPR, ate granola, owned a record player, and shopped at thrift stores, pop wasn’t my thing.

Though I felt a pang of guilt every time I listened to “Sexyback” after that, it has taken me years to realize why: not going to a pop concert didn’t mean I was cool. It meant I was insecure. It meant I was a stick in the mud. It meant I didn’t get to see Justin Timberlake [worst part. I mean, hello?!]. And it meant I was being a giant doofus.

images

This? I could have seen this? Yeah. I’m an idiot.

This year, Justin has released two albums with the help of his band, The Tennessee Kids. They are ubiquitous, unapologetic, dance-y, pop masterpieces. They have each been in my CD player since I bought them, and I all but sing into a hairbrush in front of a mirror when they play.

So, when Mr. T [can I call him that?] announced his triumphant return to the Music City, I was among the elated throng who immediately bought a ticket. Yes, it cost about as much as my whole life, but it will be oh-so worth it.

It’ll be worth it because it will be more fun than I or anyone else can shake a stick at, because I know JT will be happy to see me [obviously], and because I like the music. I listen to a lot of music that makes me feel and think. But sometimes, you just need to dance now, think later.

I’ve realized that for me, pop music is dessert. It’s candy. It’s a day off. Too much dessert without anything substantial does tend to make one a little woozy. But sometimes, at the end of a long, terrible week, you inhale a chocolate bar thinking it will make things better. And in some small way, it does.

I still buy organic sugar for my locally roasted coffee, and I’m still planning my Halloween costume around my favorite Wes Anderson movie. I’m just happier now.  I’m not worried if some American-Spirit-smoker at the 5 Spot will think I’m cool anymore. I’m only hip when I want to be, and that’s the way I like it.

i am a terrible blogger.

I have a confession to make, you guys. Well, two.

The first is that I cannot stop listening to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis album [the Heist], and I don’t care who knows it. Seriously. I listen to it once a day right now. Not only is Sir Macklemore  excellent at the hip-hoppery, he is smart. And I love a smarty.

The only better pop album to come out recently is Justin Timberlake’s opus of smooth, the 20/20 Experience [obviously, i mean, who are we kidding?]. Do yourself a favor and get both of those albums right now and listen to them. Yes, they’re commercially popular, but so is food, and everybody’s gotta eat. 

Image

My other confession is. . . I am a terrible blogger. I started off the year like the over-achieving boyfriend in an 80s teen romantic comedy. I had grand plans: wooing you all with flowers, rides in my convertible, and promises of weekly posts. But I’ve only managed to let you down over and over again with [maybe] monthly offerings [if you’re lucky].  

I love writing, and I think there is something beautiful about the ease with which I can share my writing in this format. I also want you all to know what’s going on, and I want to share the love through my writing whenever I can.

I like giving pause, making people think, and reminding them they are loved. I know that when I’m not writing, it is harder for me to help others in those ways. That’s really why I’m a blogger in the first place. But without blogging, I can’t accomplish any of that- at least not in a way I can see easily.

So, I’m sorry I’m a terrible blogger. 

ImageI’m sorry. But I’m not.

With working, teaching ESL twice a week, and taking an ESL certification class 3 weekends in a row, I have been slammed this month. I have spent the better part of the last 4 weeks exhausted, cranky, and probably one step above hallucinating a hot dog riding a unicorn across a rainbow bridge on the Delirium Scale.

On top of the physical and emotional demands of that schedule, I was forced to miss Church for most of July due to the fact that the Sunday classes were all-day, so I did not have my normal solace of receiving Communion and praying with my friends on Sundays.

It has not been easy. And I haven’t been writing a word.

But I have been learning. I’ve been learning how to be a human: how to be tired, how to lean on others for support, how to ask for help and prayers, how to make mistakes and learn from them; how to bite off more than I can chew, and what to do when that happens. I’ve been so focused on being a living, breathing, surviving, regular, normal human being. I just haven’t had time to be a proper blogger.

It’s been fantastic. Not because I didn’t write, or because it was fun and carefree. It’s been fantastic because- through God’s mercy and the love of my Someone and the people in my life- I’ve made it. 

Now that I know I can be an employee, a friend, a girlfriend, a student, a teacher, and a human all at the same time, maybe I can get back to being a blogger, too.

Maybe.

GalileON with your bad self.

You guys remember Galileo, right?

Back in the day, the Catholic Church [Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!] put him under house arrest. Galileo preferred his theory of heliocentrism to theirs: geocentrism. In other words, he was all like, “Whatever, guys. The heavenly bodies revolve around the SUN. Not the Earth. Duh.” And they didn’t like the cut of his jib. So he spent the rest of his life in confinement over something we wouldn’t hesitate to affirm today.

It gets me wondering. Because I am a deep thinker and an intense feeler. Despite my apparent extroversion, it is very easy for me to internalize things that I think and feel about myself, and I tend to get lost in my own thoughts. And the stronger a feeling is, the easier it is for me to accept it. But just because I believe something very strongly does not make it true. In fact, when it comes to believing something super negative about myself, my life, or how I relate to others, the opposite is almost always true.

Galileo wouldn’t stand for that kind of thing.

I like to imagine his staunch rebuttal of untruth whenever my self-esteem is down to critical levels.

Image

Me: Oh, man. This is hard. No one except for me has ever been through this, and I will never survive.

Galileo: Wow. Um. First of all, calm down. Secondly, you’re not an anomaly. While there is a great deal of variance in human life, many circumstances are common to us all. And you’re probably not going to die. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU’LL MAKE IT. I REFUSE TO BACK DOWN.

[or . . .]

Me: Man. I am a difficult person to deal with, and my friends are just around me because they’re nicer than average.

Galileo: It’s cute that you think that. But it’s WRONG. It is a FALSEHOOD. Your friends hang around you because everyone needs friends. Including your friends. 

[or. . .]

Me: I will never be able to handle the ever-increasing number of responsibilities in my uncomfortably grown-up life. I am starting to regret this job/apartment/career/major life decision, and am going to commence an uncomfortable-for-everyone self-loathing session.

Galileo: Seriously? This is getting ridiculous. Obviously, you wouldn’t be in this situation if you didn’t have the ways and means to get here. Things will work themselves out with time. And you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s another part of the human experience. I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS. GIVE ME ONE OF THOSE OBNOXIOUS ANKLE MONITORS IF YOU HAVE TO. I STICK TO MY GUNS. I’M GALILEO.

Image

See how easy that is? The next time you have a pressing thought that’s obviously bringing you down, ask yourself: is this true? If it is true, keep calm, eat some ice cream, say a few prayers, and revisit the whole thing later. If it isn’t true, [which is probably the case] go all Galileo on it.

Tell yourself the truth of the matter and stick to it. No matter what.

Make old GG proud.

People v. Muppets

It’s gloomy out today. I can admit that-on days like this-I need a little good news. So, naturally, I was excited to see the Muppets in the headlines again.

I assumed it was another great review of their hilarious new movie. After all, it has gotten a stellar reception, and has had myself and many of my peers laughing till we cried.

But then, I have always been stupidly optimistic.

Of course, this article wasn’t about how Kermit and friends have, yet again, made a new generation of people fall in love with their goofy humor, sense of friendship to everyone,  and zany songs.

Why would it be about something like that? Who would read such illogical spouting? Who could support such fallacies?

It was about something much more grave. Much more serious. Much more pressing.

Yep, you guessed it: the Muppets are Communists.

Wait a second. Sharing. Swedish Chef. You sure they're not Socialists?

Fox News commentators were up in arms about the Muppets last week, because they’re picking on Oil. That’s right, the claim was that-since the villain in the movie is an oil baron whose name happens to be Tex Richman [snicker, snicker]- the Muppets are sending kids the wrong messages. The kind that are “anti-corporate”, or worse, “attacking the oil industry”.

I’m sorry. I had no idea kids wanted or needed pro-oil, pro-corporate messages. Since they’re children, I thought they would be begging to go to the new Muppet movie so they can see Kermit sing and dance and play and have fun with his friends. But they’re kids. So they obviously don’t know what they’re missing.

And if the writers of this movie threw in a few little jokes, that is to be expected. This movie is, after all, a comedy. It is not an instructional video, a newscast, or-as the Fox crowd seems to think- a license to suspend  basic common sense and reasoning skills.

I think  it’s clear that Eric Bolling and Dan Gainor just need a giant, corporate-sized, oil-filled hug.

I mean, let’s face it: when watching the Muppets’ new movie, the average kid is going to say “Fart shoes! Awesome!” not “Sorry, Mom and Dad. I just figured out you’re the 1%. I’m pitching a tent in the yard from here on out.”

Like any well-written family comedy, the jokes in The Muppets that are written to entertain the adults will be there until the kids in the audience get old enough to appreciate them [or, as the case may be, freak out about them in completely irrational ways on a national news broadcast].

Although you could agree that the Muppets’ insistence on sharing the spotlight, celebrating differences, and being full of joy and exuberance might be decidedly anti-corporate, no one declares any such sentiment in this film. In fact, Kermit lives in a huge house in Hollywood, and Miss Piggy works for Vogue in Paris. Gonzo also runs his own very successful plumbing business.

As far as I can see, the Muppets have spent their time apart taking as much advantage as they can of social and economic opportunities, just like every other hard-working American.

And no one in the movie bashes oil. Get a grip, Fox News. Besides, everybody knows the Muppets have driven cars since 1979, when Kermit ditched his bike for Fozzie’s Studebaker for their cross-country jaunt in the Muppet Movie. Add in the Electric Mayhem’s bus, and the huge car they share in their current film, and it’s clear the gang is doing their part to show that massive, faceless oil conglomerates are people, too.

The folks at Fox are right about one thing, though. Kermit and the Muppets have been successfully sending messages to children for years. Messages like “Keep believing, keep pretending” and “It’s not easy being green. . . [but] I’m green, it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful and I think it’s what I want to be”.

Use your imagination, be faithful and hopeful, and be happy with you as you are. You read that right. These are the kinds of subversive messages I heard from the Kermit and the Muppets throughout my entire childhood. And as recent as  a couple of weeks ago, when I strolled out of the theatre humming along with a giant grin on my face, gladder to be alive than I had been in weeks, I knew it. Those adorable, loving Muppets had gotten me again.

They had sent me another message!

Life’s a happy song?! I don’t believe this.

What’s wrong with you people-er-creatures?

I can’t believe you actually expect me to take that with me through life. But let’s leave me and my desperate need for basic reassurance out of this.

You’re telling me that you want to wave that kind of message around in the faces of children? You want them to hear over and over that everything will be okay, you can do it, and you’re not alone?!

Be my guest.

besides world peace

I have never done a formal Wish List Blog before. At least not in Recent Memory- which, if you’re me, only accounts for the past three days or so. It seems like kind of an 8-year-old thing to do, and that is about 1/3 of my looming chronological age. So, if it weirds you out to read it, or if reading it makes you think Judgmental Things about me, just ask me for my opinion about a non-incendiary topic like religion or politics

All right, let’s get down to brass tacks.

1. Money & Gift Cards

"I'm funny *and* creepy."Some people are worried that giving cash or a gift card is impersonal and that it will not be appreciated. I can assure you that is only true if the recipient is someone who doesn’t like to Go Places or Do Things, in which case they would have no need for money or a gift card. Places and things are both personal favorites of mine, and such options would give me the chance to enjoy plenty of them. I would be most grateful.

Especially effective applications for Money or Gift Cards: Fido, Pangaea, Rose Pepper Cantina, Flying Saucer, Boscos, any other local cafe or coffeehouse, bookstore, music venue, salon, Target

Cost: However much you want it to be, that’s the beauty of this option.

2. Clue: the Office Edition

This is amazing. And one of the few concrete items I can clearly admit that I want. I’ll spare you the details of the pieces, the rooms, and the characters for the sake of not completely geeking out on you. But I will tell you that one of the weapons is a George Foreman grill. Oh, and you should know that if I have a birthday party and someone gives me this, I will want to play it immediately. Can’t decide if that helps my case or not.

Oh, and my guess? Michael killed Toby in the break room. With a Dundee.

Cost: $25-35 [Amazon has it, but I’m sure other places do, too.]

3. Music (Live)

I love a good show. There are a couple coming to Nashville in late winter that I am particularly excited about. First, these guys.

CAKE will be at the Ryman Auditorium- I think the 20th of January (or around there). Tickets can be bought directly from the Ryman box office during regular business hours- or through Ticketmaster.

Then there’s this guy.

I love Josh Radin, his beautiful voice, and his brilliant songwriting. I have been so ready for him to play a small venue once he gets here- and I got my wish, at least that part of my wish.

He is playing Cannery Ballroom on Feb 4. Tickets can be bought here.

Cost: $17 (advance)

4. Disregard Everything I Suggest and Just Be You

osnap

You know I heard somewhere something about giving and receiving. And we all know one is clearly better than the other. That being said, I am 100% serious that I make wish lists because they are fun. I enjoy wishing for things and making non-essential lists, so it is the perfect arrangement for me.

It is not a mandate, not even a suggestion, or a formal request. My best gifts over the years have been found in the company and the experiences themselves. [Remember that Miss America interview- practice, practice, practice.] I have also received fabulous handmade gifts and creative spins on common gifts [personalized coupons rather than gift cards, the favorite book of the gift-giver, mix CDs, etc].

By the way, it has been an odd time of year for me personally and fiscally, but if I tell you your gift is forthcoming, I mean that. And you can hold me to it.

All in all, I have left front teeth, true love and diplomatic understanding for later, I simply beseech you all: have a great, peaceful season of receiving blessing and giving thanks.

aBc

i have been spending the evening chipping away at  a chapter for the Messengers that is proving particularly bothersome to work through. rather than let writer’s block completely overtake me, i have decided to indulge my whimsy. here are some things i like. in alphabetical order. or alphabethical order, if you please. in order to trick you into reading all the way through it, i have placed what i am pretty sure is the Most Adorable Video Ever Made at the bottom of this post. but don’t scroll down and cheat. cheaters aren’t as pretty as honest folks. there are studies.

a is for animaniacs: my favorite cartoon

b is for buttered popcorn: yes, i would like extra.

c is for coloring: with crayons, preferably

d is for dogs: i know that is not entirely original, but it is entirely true. i love dogs.

e is for elizabeth bennett: the jane austen character that i (wish i was the) most like

f is for friendly jugglers: specifically the one in london who paid my bus fare

g is for giraffe: my favorite animal, an animal whose kick happens to be able to DECAPITATE A LION

h is for high fives: watch the other person’s elbow, you’ll never miss one again.

i is for ice cream: plain chocolate is my favorite. perhaps that makes me a purist. but not a plainist.

j is for jeepers: because i use that and other retro words in common speech

k is for kaleidoscopes: oooh, mesmerizing.

l is for lowercase letters: they are friendlier than capitals.

m is for mustaches: not just for absolute and total creepers anymore.

n is for noodly entrees: particularly ones covered in alfredo or other creamy sauces.

o is for o: damien rice’s first album; listen to it right now. you truly do not have anything better to do.

p is for pacifists: they are foxy.

q is for queueing: my favorite way to refer to one of my least favorite activities.

r is for restless: because i’m an insomniac who wants to know where to go in life. double whammy.

s is for silly goose: i am one. that is a metaphor.

t is for tennessee: where my heart is. that is also a metaphor. and a truth.

u is for uncooked fish: + seaweed+ rice = delicious

v is for very hungry caterpillar: i am not one. however, it is the first book i can remember being my favorite.

w is for wilde: if only he had been alive a century later (and had liked girls)

x is for xylophone: my niece plays the little-kid version like a punk rock drummer. hecks yes.

y is for you: you are a dandy.

z is for zip: a character in my first full length children’s story. he also happens to be a robot.

check, please! (dot com)

I have once again been absent from blogging of late. You can thank a freakishly long data entry project, a recent surge of self-improvement efforts, and the propensity of spring weather to drive me from the confines of my social cocoon for not having much to read from the likes of me recently.

While the earlier part of the year saw a lot of success for my writing, enthusiasm seems to have waned with the appearance of the Sun and lime-flavored, limited-release cheap domestics. I took a look at my stats page today- and I’m pretty sure Jonas Brothers fan-fiction has better online readership than I.  While politics, religion, tragedy, and social justice all have their place in web-based amateur journalism, I owe you something a little bit more entertaining to read while you’re trying to justify wearing Bermuda shorts. Something juicy.

About a year ago, I signed up for an online dating site. The one whose commercials feature overplayed 60s pop songs over montages of its successful couples while a little old psychologist guy explains how things work to prospective site users. Though the majority of people it has matched me with were not quite right for me, I have had some significant success with the site, and would recommend it to people considering the system.

But this post does bear a warning. That’s right. I’m breaking out the juicer. And bringing you a list of 5 of my biggest Dating Site Profile Pet Peeves.

1. Not Knowing How to Use Your Words: When filling out a dating site profile, remember to pay attention to 5 things: grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and vocabulary. We have the language of Shakespeare, Dickinson, and Dylan at our disposal. Its elements could be our greatest ally when attempting to woo a prospect and impress him or her with our clever means of self-expression.

But like Tolkien’s Rings, these things can be sinister when misused- or worse- disregarded completely. Don’t get me wrong, I know colloquialisms have their place: song lyrics, jokes and lighthearted stories, or Beverly Hillbillies scriptwriting sessions, for example. But telling me your interests are “huntin fishin” and “muddin in my truckk” are not going to get you anywhere- except the Archive pile.

2. Posting Pictures with People, Things, or Animals in Them Who are Not You: I have spoken to people of both sexes who use dating sites, and this seems to be a problem across the board. Post pictures of yourself. That’s who your matches are interested in seeing. Not your cousin Mikey, your F-150, or your ex from 3 relationships ago. Also, not having any pictures is not modest. It is not giving me an opportunity to use my imagination. It’s creepy. It makes me think you’re one of those email spammers with the fake names. Simmers P Quiqleymax: DENIED.

3.  “I don’t really read lol” and Like Statements: Don’t give me that. Of course you read. Even if you’re not much for books and prefer magazines, the paper, or the back of cereal boxes, tell me that. Don’t tell me you don’t read. The same with movies, music, or any other area of interest. Make some effort to make yourself look well-versed. Literacy makes your eyes prettier. There are studies.

4. Being a Little Too Televangelist-y: Because my faith is very important to me, my settings for the site are such that faith and involvement with a place of worship should be very important to those with whom I am matched. This is a great thing in that it takes the guesswork out of it for both parties and offers important common ground for the building of a healthy relationship. However, there is a difference in being devoted and being- well- kind of weird, really.

You don’t have to overstate  things. If your faith is important to you, state that. If it is important in the person you’re looking for, state that. If you are interested in theological books or religious music, list them in the appropriate places. But don’t feel compelled to turn your “Favorite Movies” field into a Statement of Faith or the answer to “Do You Have Any Pets?” into a sermon. Your faith and its place in your life will be obvious as a natural consequence of normal conversation. Be approachable and present yourself as a person of faith, of interests, and of quirks. That’s the way He made you anyway.

5. Tooting Your Own Horn: This one is simple. Tell me you like to exercise, not how many grams of wheat germ you ingest daily in your protein shakes. Tell me about your job, not how successful you are at it. Tell me what your favorite team is, not how far you can throw a pass. Tell me about what kind of music you like, not about how your agent said your band was going to be the next Nickelback. In fact, tell no one that.

It’s simple, folks. A dating site profile is an introduction. It’s not a Master’s thesis or a note you are passing to your crush on the playground. It falls somewhere in between. While you shouldn’t agonize over every minutia, make sure you dot your Is and cross your Ts in a series of well placed words- whose sum total gives a full, clear representation of who you are and why you deserve to be taken out on the town.

Good luck. Remember to always do two things: put your napkin in your lap, and use spell check.