Surrender

For pretty much my whole life, I have worn every hurt and sadness I’ve felt as an invisible strand of pearls around my neck.  I didn’t realize this, of course, until I was an adult, and by that time I was quite bedazzled.  We’re not talking major trauma here;  I’m just a very sensitive bunny and tend to take everything to heart. By the time I learned how to let go, I had the emotional equivalent of Lupita N’yongo’s Oscar dress.  As David Foster Wallace said, “everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”

Around the same time that I began realizing I could remove some of those strands of pearls, I noticed my sweet, graceful friend Amanda’s tattoo on her foot. All it said was “surrender.”  I tried not to stare. I gushed about her tattoo, and asked her what it meant.  I stumbled over my words as I often do. (I express myself much better in writing, as I am able to backspace right on over all the “ums” and “you knows”.) Sweet Amanda was very patient and said that if I liked it that much, then I already knew what it meant. I definitely had no idea what it meant. But then I started to ask myself why I thought I didn’t know. And though I wasn’t quite sure yet, I started to think of it as as my personal motto.


In March 2013 I walked into Jinx Proof in Georgetown and with a nervous hand signed my name on a consent form.  I acknowledged that I was over 18 (heh) that I had eaten within the past four hours, that I wasn’t drunk and that I knew what I was getting into.  I had known for almost ten years.

My gals Paula and Megan went with me. Megan was getting her nose pierced (which I did, too in a real-quick-do-all-these-things-before-I-chicken-out kinda way).  Paula was just along for the ride, mostly for moral support, but I think also she never really thought I’d do it, what with the decade of mulling over she’d witnessed.

“I really want to get another tattoo, too!  If I don’t get one at least once a year, I get antsy,”  Paula said. She got her first at 18. She mulled nothing over. “I think I wanna get feet with the toes slightly pointed in, like they’re in tadasana.”  She’s a yoga teacher.

“I love that idea!” I said.  I thought we could Google-images it at dinner.

I was led back to the tattoo area, handed the tattoo artist the crumpled paper from my purse on which I had written the word surrender about twenty-five times. He made a stencil, and I plopped my foot up on the table, inadvertently knocking over some sterile bandages the artist had laid out.

“Oops!  Sorry. I’m kind of nervous.  It’s my first tattoo and I’ve been thinking about this for almost a decade!  It’s got a very special meaning to me and my friend Amanda…”

Suddenly I heard crazy giggling coming from the tattoo station next to me, and  Paula’s excitable voice saying, “I JUST THOUGHT OF THIS TATTOO TODAY!!!”


And that is the difference between me and Paula, an Aquarius and a Virgo, someone who trusts the universe and someone who is often delayed by planning and perfection, and ten years versus ten minutes.

I emailed Amanda to show her my new tattoo….She said, “Hope it becomes the great reminder to you that it has been to me.  Just wait for the good things to come your way!”

It is, I am, and they are.

Black Velvet

There’s currently an orange juice commercial that I hear at least 110% of the time I turn on the tv.  At first, I found it kind of enlivening — especially in the morning.  It was perky and full of sunshine.  Then somewhere around the sixty-third time I heard it, that perk changed to evil.  Now it makes me want to punch someone’s neck meat. Turns out, it’s a song from Singing in the Rain, by  Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Gene Freakin’ Kelly. I feel like a real jerk.

That got me thinking, though. There are a few songs that fill me with a rage so immense that I have almost wrecked my car trying to change the radio station. So I made a list.

Top 10 Songs That Make Me Want to Light My Hair On Fire

10. Nickelback, “Photograph”

I’m not a fan of Chad Kroeger’s voice, nose or hair. It has sold more than 1.4 million downloads and made it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. “What the hell is on Joey’s head?” I don’t care. Please shut it.

9. The Cranberries, “Linger”

I love Dolores O’Riordon’s voice, and while I can’t say this of Nickelback, I have enjoyed a Cranberries tune on occasion. But one time my brother made a joke about a fart lingering, and now that’s all I can think of when I hear this song. Next!

8. Train, “Drops of Jupiter”

There are many a Train song that could have made this list, but in the end, it came down to lyrical annoyance. No one can check out Mozart while simultaneously doing tae-bo. Have you ever done tae-bo, Patrick Monahan?  What makes a romance “freeze dried”? And the line about the “best soy latte that you ever had” should be punishable by law.  Maybe I’ll call the Arkansas State Congress…the seem to pass all kinds of bullshit laws lately.

7. Aqua, “The Barbie Song”

Please listen to this once and tell me you’re not compelled to drive your car into a wall.

6. Ylvis, “What Does The Fox Say”

I’m completely nonplussed that this became such a hit. The chorus sounds like a 100cc motorcycle engine revving.

5. KT Tunstall, “Black Horse & a Cherry Tree”

I just…no. She’s such a cute woman, but her voice has that raspy weirdness to it, kind of like Alannah Myles, which I’ll get to in a sec.

4. Rednex, “Cotton Eyed Joe”

Ah, 1994. Reminds me of being drunk and dancing at Crazy Zacks (rest in peace) at beach week in Myrtle. This song is a terrible mashup of techno, country music and Sweden.

3. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”

Lord, this song was everything in 2011. I loved it at first, but like many a catchy tune, it suffered death by overplaying. I always thought it was a little incongruent with the times, though. It’s not crazy to give someone your number that you’ve just met. That’s actually much safer than taking off your shirt, which I think is how dating works these days.

2. Fine Young Cannibals, “She Drives me Crazy”

She drives you crazy? Well this SONG drives me crazy.  It’s 99% Roland Gift’s voice, but this song and video have problems. The video has the guys with weird shorts hopscotching, and another guy with a TV on his head.  Or least, that’s what I remember of it, and I refuse to look it up on YouTube because of all the hate.

And finally, drum roll…..

1. “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles.

There are so, so many things about this song that I hate. So many metaphors! The first verse is chock full of bad poetry. Example “The sun is settin’ like molasses in the sky”…Scratch that — the whole song is a bad poem. “A new religion that’ll bring ya to your knees, Black velvet if you please.”  But what is it?  WHAT IS BLACK VELVET? Nevermind, I don’t want to know.  Just make it stop.


So, there you have it. I promised myself I’d keep this blog positive. I once saw Adam Lambert in Georgetown and tweeted that I thought he was probably buying guyliner. Someone tweeted back and said something mean about him. It made me pause because as silly as it sounds, I didn’t think anyone would hear me my little tweet in the vast space of the Internet. But someone did and I felt bad.  So, my direct apologies to all the people I’ve mentioned here if anything is hurtful. It’s meant to be in good fun. I applaud your artistry and would trip Kanye if he tried to take one of your awards away and give it to Beyonce…Just please don’t make me listen to your songs, k?

My (mostly) unedited thoughts on #Oscars2015

More than four people asked me to do this, so I’ve acquiesced.  Here are my moment-to-moment thoughts while watching the red carpet nonsense and then the Oscar telecast.  I promise nothing, and deliver only slightly more.  I will be updating periodically. Refresh, gurrl.

******

6:46:  I text Jayme that “I’m pretty sure Guiliana Rancic is wearing the dress Miss Indiana wore in the 1992 Miss America pageant.”

6:49:  I plagiarize my own joke for Facebook.

7:06:  Ansel Elgort is wearing the #1 trend in men’s fashion of the night — blue tux jackets.  All this black and blue make the men on the red carpet look like handsome bruises.

7:08:  Lupita Nyong’o is breathtaking.  She’s got a dress made out of pearls and between her and Faith Hill, I really want to cut off my hair. (Spoiler alert — I won’t.)

7:16: Julianne Moore will win the Oscar.  I haven’t seen “Still Alice” yet but she will win.  She’s amazing and looks gorgeous.

7:18:  I can’t believe this sentence is about to come out of my mouth:  Khloe K just schooled Guiliana about how to wear a red dress. And now she’s throwing shade at Anna Kendrick, which I am not okay with.

7:22:  I wonder if this type of blog post with bulleted points minute by minute is tired.  I don’t really care. It’s my blog, I’ll do what I want.

7:29: Cate Blanchette with that gorgeous turquoise necklace.  About seven or eight years ago, she came into Clyde’s for lunch while I happened to be downstairs for something (probably to get more diet coke).  No makeup, hair in a bun, wearing jeans, and I was stopped in my tracks by her beauty.  I happened to be at the host podium when she walked in, so I lead her and her two sons to her table.  I handed her a lunch menu and a child’s menu, which she promptly gave back to me and told me her kids would have salmon.

7:43:  The hens of E! have been clucking for over 18 minutes. Give me more Ryan, please.

7:54:  I don’t get why we’re hearing all this dumb commentary and no interviews with Ryan.  Did he fall down or something? Reese Witherspoon is so gorgeous.

7:55:  I switch to ABC’s coverage because I can’t stand all the fashion critique. I love fashion just as much as the next gal but I’m mostly interested in the Oscars because I love movies.  More actors talking about their work, or maybe actors fangirling about other actors.

8:03:  Robin Roberts schools me that ABC is the only live show on the red carpet.  I’m now super pissed that I haven’t been watching this all along.

8:07:  Taya Kyle shows us that not only famous actors can own the red carpet.  That green dress is amazing and she speaks like she’s been on live TV a million times. My “American Sniper” plans were cancelled last night because of the snow in DC but I will see it soon.

8:13:  Bradley Cooper! I gotta admit — on the SNL40 he looked a little…puffy or something. I was worried that he had relapsed.  But he looks amazing and his eyes are bright and shiny. I’d hit that.

8:16:  I see a brief glimpse of Lady Gaga, and I’m concerned she’s wearing dish gloves. I need more information.

8:18:  Oh, here she is! This is a perfect Gaga dress.  It’s over-the-top and crazy and those gloves are absurd, but the dress itself is amazing and her face is perfection.  How cute is she talking about her new fiance?

8:23:  Taking a moment to give love to Robin Roberts (mostly because this pre-show bullshit is boooorrrrring).  She’s gorgeous.  After she had cancer and then came out as gay on her show so she could publicly thank her wife (partner?), my coworker was so sad b/c she didn’t know she was gay. (Um, I was as surprised as you.)  She said, “I guess I’m not really that surprised, but I’ve watched her every morning and I was sad that she never told me.” This proves that  the people we see on screen, we think are our friends. I totally get it.

THE OSCARS BEGIN.

8:30:  NPH!!!!!!! Crazy digital backdrop. ANNA! Oh snap, here comes Jack Black.  I’m loving this crazy musical opening and I live for Jack Black right now.

8:36:  “Moving pictures shape who we are!”  Yes —  I might have to fill this in a little fuller, “flesh it out” if you will.  But the whole point of this, and the only reason I put up with all the pretense of fake American pageantry is because I never go a day without quoting some movie. It’s part of my life.  Yes, I’ll put this in the parking lot for now and refresh it later, hopefully with a paradigm shit. Someone send me recap notes and next steps.

8:41: Lupita is presenting “Best Supporting Actor”. My prediction: JK Simmons.  Although I’d love to see Mark Ruffalo.  Haven’t seen either of these movies. I just go on my gut.  Aaaaaand I’m right.  I loved him in Juno. And those State Farm commercials, honey!

8:47: NPH makes a State Farm joke.  It’s like we’re the same person and that we share the same comedic brain.

8:53:  My Dad texted me and said he’s “so over [Dakota Johnson]”. Uh, join the club, son. I missed the whole thing, but apparently she argued with Melanie G on the red carpet, causing  my mom to say she was acting like a “spoiled brat”. Although she didn’t say brat, she said another B word. Snap!

9:00:  Reese!  I love you. Some won’t like your dress.  (Don’t get Dad started on JLo’s gown). But I love it.  Simple and elegant.  She’s presenting Makeup.  It goes to Grand Budapest Hotel.  It’s winning a lot.  I have no commentary b/c I didn’t see it.

9:05:  Should I have another glass of wine?  I mean, I probably will, but I don’t think I’ll be able to stay up past 10:30.  And that’s not necessarily b/c of the wine but also because I am old.  I predict this post will be top heavy with the commentary and my last few posts will be “oh sparkly statue OMG I love that actor from that movie that I loved!”

9:09:  Nicole Kidman’s dress is perfection.  I don’t really care about Foreign Language Film. I wish Chiwetel had spoken with an Australian accent and Nicole had spoken with a British accent to follow NPH’s bit. Maybe they actually did. Who can know?

9:12:  Shirley McLean comes out to the Terms of Endearment song and I tear up. THAT’S HOW SAD AND IMPACTFUL THAT MOVIE WAS ON MY TEENAGE PSYCHE.  Also, wine.

9:17: Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island. Did Adam Sandburg ever think he would fake rap on the Oscars? But whatever, it’s awesome.  See what I did there?

9:24:  Oh hellooooo Jason Bateman. Teen Wolf 2 is still one of your best roles. “Crikey! These buggers are heavy!” British people are so adorable.

9:28: Crisis Hotline is a film I must watch.  I have strong feelings about how war can affect families and I will talk about this someday. Dana thanked her son Evan, and I am flooded with memories of one of her first documentaries, “About A Boy” which told the story of her son who committed suicide at 15. It was a beautiful and heartbreaking story.  I will always remember this line (and I’m unfairly paraphrasing, but I will update later with links), “Evan was like everyone else, and felt the same things everyone else did, but he just felt them a million times more deeply.”

9:43: I got to the bathroom and when I return, NPH is in his undies. While I love this, I’m afraid that the set up to this bit is not even worth it.

9:52: Best Supporting Actress! How is Laura Dern playing Reese’s mother? Doesn’t matter. Keira has an Adam’s apple. I really want Emma Stone to win!!! But Patricia Arquette wins and I’m legit happy.  Everyone is on their feet, they love her. She uses her podium to demand equal pay for women and I’m so full of emotion. THANK YOU.

10:00:  Here’s the PETA that won’t throw blood on you.  Hahaha I get it. Josh Hutcherson introduces Rita Ora, who sings quite beautifully. But, I don’t really get her or anything about her. She’s beautiful, but so am, so….

10:03:  Hey look! Chloe’s dress has pockets?  Is she also hiding dueling erections in her pockets? She’s got to be holding her hands in a weird way in her skirt. Interstellar wins for Visual Effects.

10:06: Anna Kendrick finally looks tall! She and Kevin Hart are adorable. Don’t care about Animated Short.

10:09: I am reminded of a dream I had last night in which The Rock and I were friends, but I called him Dwayne but he didn’t like that and although I tried to explain that saying, “Hey The Rock, pass the salt” didn’t really work, he was still mad.  There is applause over Big Hero 6! This is probably the third award that has gone to a group of people, one of which says, “we’d like to thank our wives.” I’m looking forward to the day there is a group of women on stage who can thank their wives. (Or husbands.)

10:20:  For my money, Christ Pratt can do no wrong. And I know everyone hates Felicity Jones’s dress, but I like it.  Production Design goes to Grand Budapest Hotel, which isn’t surprising b/c Wes Anderson ain’t no fool as a boss.

10:24:  I swear to God, Jessica Chastain’s dress without the sparkles is the bridesmaid dress I wore in Heather’s wedding in 1999. I didn’t look like that good in it, but it was satin and navy and had a drapey thing happen in the back. Cinematography was the award.

10:30: Meryl Streep sets up the In Memoriam piece with a Joan Didion piece and I need to read “The Year of Magical Thinking.” I’m prolly gonna cry watching this.  I will say right now, if Robin Williams isn’t magically highlighted, I will flip.  He wasn’t. But when I saw Misty Upham, I thought, why does one life need to take longer on a screen than someone else’s? I am guilty of judging unqualified. Thankfully Jennifer Hudson is here to diva me back to reality.

10:44: I’ve been loving NPH, but I feel like this show has been kind of boring?

10:36: Terrence Howard apparently always does sound like a cartoon. I think something is happening with his mic and his telepromptor.  I need to see Whiplash.

10:39: Jennifer Anniston yesssssssss. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for almost four hours but I hadn’t seen her yet. She’s amazing. CitizenFour wins for Best Documentary. It’s great, I bet, but Edward Snowden can go suck a lemon.

10:58: John Legend and Common. The Pettus Bridge. “That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up.” I’m on my feet! Amazing.

11:02: Tears streaming down David Oyelowo’s face.

11:07: Common is first and foremost a poet. Thank you to Common and John Legend for bringing up race on this huge podium you have. To be honest, I’m so afraid that, like a wave recedes, when Obama leaves office we are going to slide back into the ocean of rampant and ignorant racism.

11:14: Sound of Music tribute? I’m not sure…

11:21: GAGA REMINDS US WHY. Why she’s everything. Damn. Amazing.

11:30: I’m starting to fade, but I’m hopeful I can stay awake.

11:33: EDDIE MURPHY.  I hope this (combined with his appearance on SNL40) reminds everyone how much Eddie has been missed.

11:36: Oprah’s hair looks great. “Stay weird, stay different and then when it’s your turn and you’re standing on this stage, please pass this along.”

11:41: BEN. Best Director: Alejandro! Birdman. A joke about Michael Keaton underwear.

I NEED TO GO TO BED SO BAD, YOU GUYS!!

11:48:  Best Actor. I have no idea who will win.  Eddie Redmayne! Yeah, sure. OMG he’s giving his speech to ALS.  Let’s go you guys…I gotta sleep….

11:53:  Best Actress. I’m pretty sure I predicted this… It’s the ONLY prediction I made. I love her so much!

It’s midnight. I can’t do this for a lot longer. I really have to go to bed.

12:03: Best Picture:  Sean Penn, let’s do this.  BIRDMAN!

And now I sleep.  I will have edits tomorrow….

Ghosting

Oh, Valentine’s Day! It’s definitely not my favorite day of the year, but it’s not my least favorite either.  Sure, I’m 39 and single, and everyone assumes I should be bitter and angry. But I’m not!  I LOVE love, and I especially love the beginning of love. I love being in a new relationship. I love feeling giddy and stupid over a guy. I love the butterflies, the electricity of holding hands, the first kiss…

And while I love love, online dating can suck it. Online dating is the WORST.  It’s worse than oversleeping, war, or having your cat attack your feet under the sheets in the middle of the night. It’s much, much worse than Miley Cyrus doing Paul Simon on the SNL reunion.

There are several reasons why online dating can S my D, but mostly because of the ghosting. Apparently it’s completely acceptable — once you’ve had enough of someone — to just cease all communication.  One day, you’re texting and flirting, and you’re talking about when to meet up.  The next day you don’t hear from him.  You send a cute message with no response. Silence the next day.  Gurl, you been ghosted. The struggle is real and it sucks and it messes with your emotions.

Here are clowns who have ghosted me, all of whom I never met in person.  It was the dreaded pre-date slow fade.

DC Fella:  His profile picture was absolutely adorable.  Seersucker suit, bow tie and fedora. We talked for about a month via text.  We kept talking about meeting up, but he never answered my invites. He told me his actual name, and when I found out we had a mutual friend in common on Facebook, I asked her what she thought.  She said he was awesome, I told him so, and he told me that was some “serious recon shit” and then ghosted me.  A few weeks later, really late at night, he sent me a picture of his pants and asked me if I was awake.  I was not.

Dr. Leo Marvin:  On his profile under “last book you read”, he put “Baby Steps” by Dr. Leo Marvin.  You either get the What About Bob reference right away and fall in love, or you don’t.  I did; it caused me to LOL, so I messaged him.  We texted for a few months. (Yes, I said months.)  He presented me a wide assortment of random facts including that his dog died and that he had been in a polyamorous relationship.  When he told me his name was Adam instead of Rich, I realized he had been lying to me all along.  What a horrible person to lie about a dead dog!! When I asked him why he said his name was both Rich and Adam, I never heard from him again. Until a few weeks later, when he texted at 3:12am and asked what I was doing.  I deleted him from my phone the next morning.

Shittsburg Joel: This one is the one that is the most sad for me, because I really liked this guy.  Let me say this:  if I could only date men in a one or two mile radius, I would.  My opinion is that the Virginia suburbs is where fun goes to die, and don’t even get me started about Maryland.  Obviously Pittsburg is way outside of my available date radius, but his profile was funny and smart, for which I am a sucker. We talked for about six weeks at the end of the summer, including two video chats. We texted several times a day.  And then one day lead to two days and then all of a sudden, I realized I had been ghosted. In December, he texted me out of the blue saying he had had a “difficult autumn.” I was not that jazzed about hearing from him, but we texted a bit more.  After a few days of not hearing from him, I called him out — did I just get ghosted twice?  “I thought you weren’t interested.”  We talked some more, and then I got ghosted FOR THE THIRD TIME BY THE SAME GUY.  See for yourself:

Joel

Sane and Well Adjusted Evan:  His profile indicated he was an intelligent, mildly funny “consultant” who tried to separate himself from the rest of the knuckleheads by saying he was “sane and well-adjusted”. I fell for it.  He was a Wharton boy.  We chatted for a few weeks before he started crossing over into sexting, and then just evaporated.

Englishman Rich:  You know I love an accent, and since my bestie’s husband is a proper Englishman American citizen with an awesome accent, I had all these fantasies about us ending up with handsome British dudes.  Englishman Rich and I texted and emailed a few weeks before I got ghosted. And then a few weeks later, I got a text from him, “Hey, we forgot to go out!”  No, we didn’t. You’re a D.

Bad Hair Brandon: This was the closest I came to actually going on a date.  That Tuesday, I had to be in Dupont Circle at 7:30.  Around 3 that day, I suggested we meet at 6 the coffee shop of his choice in Dupont.  At 5:45, I still had heard nothing.  I actually never heard anything from him until three weeks later when he asked me if I wanted to go get coffee.  Stood up and ghosted — the rope-a-dope of Match.com.

So yeah, I know online dating is amazing and that there are a million couples who can credit this for bringing them together. I want it to work for me, which is why I keep signing up.  But for the next few months, I’m taking a break from online dating.  And when I sign up again, I’m gonna need less texting, more dating, and maybe more Jake Gyllenhaal.

What it’s like to have the flu*

*as explained by animated gifs.

At the beginning of last week, I was feeling great.  I had just had an awesome weekend in Richmond visiting my brother and sis-in-law, seeing my niece in her very first ballet recital, and helping my nephew build a dinosaur.

Rawr!

My week was going well!  I had a couple of good hair days in a row and I was making things happen on this big project at work.

Truth.

On Wednesday, I started to feel like I was getting a cold.  I just felt a bit…off.  I didn’t give it too much thought.  Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Um.

On Thursday at work, I finally had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel good.  I thought, I’ve got no time for your bullshit, Cold. But my head felt weird and that coughing made my throat hurt.  I went from denial to just NO.

No.

Not today, Satan.

I went home and went straight to bed at 6:45.  It was still dusk.  I planned on working from home on Friday, but when I woke up, I felt like a truck had hit me. I did take one call, and it did not go well.

Who do we have on the call?

Who do we have on the call?

A few friends texted to see how I was doing, and I responded the same way each time: “praying for the sweet release of death.”

Jenny!

Dad checked in and I told him I was too sick to go to the minute clinic.  The idea of walking to the car and driving two blocks to the CVS felt like it would take as much energy as climbing a mountain or delivering a baby, neither of which I have ever done. After 30 minutes of talking myself into it, I put on shoes and a bra and headed out.

Ron

Ron Swanson.

When I arrived at the minute clinic, there were no other people waiting!  I saw the adorable gay nurse practitioner, let him swab my nose. I really wanted to take a quick nap there in the exam room, but I kept thinking about Tamilflu like a miraculous, pharmaceutical dangling carrot and I stared at him until he told me I tested positive for Influenza A and wrote me that ‘script for Sweet Sweet Tami*.

Not Tamiflu.

After three days of being cooped up inside, afraid to go out and infect others with my deadly germs, I started to feel better.  By the time I went back to work on Tuesday, I had completely recovered and could actually feel a little spring in my step.

Poundcake.

The answer is yes.  Yes, I got a flu shot  in the fall.  At the time, I didn’t know it was only 27% effective this year.  But the way I see it is this: It was free, it didn’t hurt and if that’s what it takes to prevent me from feeling like a microwaved corpse, then yes, I will get the flu shot every year.

No gif collection would be complete without Queen B, so with this, I say Fin.

#flawless

*(No one else calls it that.)

Hip Hop Hooray!

A conversation with one of my oldest friends, whom I love very very much, in the car last week.

Him: “So Chris Rock was being interviewed and was asked to rank his top five rappers.  Do you know who he chose as #1?  Jay Z!  Can you believe that??”

Me: “Sure.  I could see that.”

“What??  Jay Z??”  Incredulity. Shock. Disbelief.

“He’s amazing.  At the top of his game. He’s changed the face of hip hop.”

More incredulity, shock and disbelief. “Are you kidding? Jay Z?”

At this point, I realize he is completely talking out of his ass.  “Who would you put in the top 5?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Not Jay Z. But surely someone from the 80s or something. Like an original.”

I’m setting him up now. “Ok, so name one.  Like whom?” No answer.  “I can see if you’d want some of the originals to be in there, like Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow, DMC…I could even see someone like Slick Rick being a contender.”

I look over and he’s looking at me as if I’ve started speaking Mandarin.  “La Di  Da di, we like to party, we don’t cause trouble and we don’t bother nobody…”

Finally, a spark of faint recognition, “I thought that was Snoop Doggy Dog.”

Sigh. As the exasperated kids are saying these days, I can’t even.  I have ceased being able to even with his dumb ass.

I look up Chris Rock’s top five.  Jay Z, Nas, Scarface, Rakim, Biggie and  LL Cool J.  I have zero problems with this list.  “Wait!  Old school hip hop is all over his top five. Rakim! And Scarface is on this list. He’s old school. From the Geto Boys.  You know, with Bushwick Bill.  The little person with the eye patch? My mind is playing tricks on me?”

Silence.

I continue, “I’m not sure I’d put Nas on the list, but that’s just me.  I don’t really know his whole catalog, only that song with Lauryn Hill.”

He clearly has no idea who Nas or Rakim are.  I start laughing and start to let him off the hook.

“You’re not a fan of hip hop, so I have no idea why you’d be so outraged over Jay Z being on the top of Chris Rock’s list.”

———

Then we parked and got out of the car, which leaves me now with no lovely summary to this post, other than the conclusion that my brain retains a LOT of useless information. I have always contended that were I able to use this information storage for good, useful information, rather than pop culture and 80s/90s song lyrics, I could be president.

You’re welcome to sigh.

2015…Let’s DO this.

A blog post every 15 months?  Now that’s a content schedule I think I can keep! Whatever.  Obviously, I didn’t exactly commit to blogging — this engine of personal expression, if you will — as well as I expected.  But hey! It’s a new year and there are resolutions and the proof is in the pudding. I want to write. I like to write. Ergo. I shall write.

Now, onto the post.

I have a friend who used to answer these questions on her blog each January. I wrote my responses every year, and I think even posted them once? Who can remember.  This year she posted a selection of quotes, her own personal words to live by.  Here’s one that spoke to me, too.

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”

― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar


What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Got laid off.

Technically not true since I was laid off just weeks shy of 2014, but I spent most of my laid off period of panic, insecurity and worry in 2014. I got through it just fine, I’ll have you know.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No resolutions last year, other than find gainful employment, which I did. I’ve got a list of 10 for this year, and I’d be happy to share most of them.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin Chris and his love Teresa had two huge fat twins. They weren’t huge and fat then, but they are now and I want to chomp their thighs. And sweet Evie came into the world to live in the LRJB Farmhouse.

Did anyone close to you die?
No. A coworker died a few weeks ago, and even though I didn’t know her well, her absence makes our workplace different. She was lovely.

What countries did you visit?
None. NONE. What a shame.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
This one’s easy — A tall, strapping gentleman. Online dating is like whoa. I’ve got unwritten blog posts 10 deep about how horrible online dating is. But I’ll just keep doing it, or doing something, because I am ready to have someone.

I want someone else run out to get Drano when I need it, clean up dishes after I deglaze something, and also provide me with unconditional love and affection. I’m not asking for much. Right?

What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Getting my second tattoo. An arrow on my right wrist that matches the one Paula got that same day. Story to come.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a J-O-B. When you say “getting a job”, it must be accompanied by the “ooh OOH” sound Amy Pohler makes in the scene in Baby Mama when she’s in the birthing class and she’s asked if she wants delivery drugs. That particular noise is all that is me getting a job in 2014.

What was your biggest failure?
Letting myself get out of shape.  Oooh, and staying stateside. Why the hell didn’t I travel somewhere? Why did I sit cross-armed and jealous when my friends did? No one’s fault but my own.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yep. I took a hip hop dance class and reenacted a delightful scene out of a Kwame video: jumped up, landed crazy, and ripped a tendon. Can’t wait to tell you that story.

What was the best thing you bought?
I’m going to pretend this question is, “What was the best thing you got?” And in that case, it’s my new mattress.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Ferguson Library.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Besides terrorists? There were a few people in my life who bummed me out, but nothing major, and certainly not worth making note here.

Where did most of your money go?
The usual – food, shelter, etc. Stuff I need not covered by medical insurance. (Blarg.)

What did you get really excited about?
Getting that second tattoo.

What song will always remind you of 2014?
Anything by Sam Smith. “Stay with Me” was errything this year.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier!
– thinner or fatter? Fatter!
– richer or poorer? Samesies!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Traveled!

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry. Goddamnit. At the beginning of 2014, I had no job and a tiny bank account, and an even tinier check from unemployment. I’m a gal who likes her life as a city girl with discretionary income. I tightened up the finances immediately, and also got a job before my money ran out, but Oh My Lands! the worry that came along with that. Everything turned out just fine.

How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents in Arkansas, missing my brother, sis-in-law and the two most amazing kids on the planet.

Did you fall in love in 2014?
Not with a man. I did, however, continue a quest for self love. I know that’s terribly cheesy, but if you’ve lived your adult life either at best mildly tolerating yourself, or at worst hating everything about yourself, then discovering a nugget of self love is a game changer.

What was your favorite TV program?
I continue to have at least 35 reruns of Law & Order SVU on my DVR. Olivia Benson is my spirit animal. Other shows I love include: New Girl, Brooklyn 99, Mindy, Parks & Rec…..

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a tricky word, but even if I change it to dislike, I think the answer is still no. I met a lot of awesome people in 2014.

What was the best book you read?
Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn is a great writer, and can weave a plot and develop very real characters at the same time. My goal for 2015 is to read at least 24 books.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
That little Meghan Trainor seems to be very promising! She can write a catchy tune.

What did you want and get?
I wanted a new job and I got it!

What did you want and not get?
Romantic love, partnership, lots of sexy time.

What was your favorite film of this year?
The Fault in Our Stars. I had read the book. I knew the plot. It’s not a spoiler to say that it’s a sad story. But once I started crying, I couldn’t stop. At the end of the movie, as we walked out of the theater laughing, I turned to Paula as I was wiping wetness off my face and said, “I can’t make this stop.”

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
39!!!! Celebrated with my girls.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Romantic love, partnership, lots of sexy time.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
BELK FTW!

What kept you sane?
My girls. Self-care. Otis.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Barack & Michelle. Beyonce & Jay Z.

What political issue stirred you the most?
There seemed to be a lot of “failure to indict” moments happening in 2015. I’m deeply concerned about the fissure of the unrealistic facade of a post-Obama race-free America that a lot of people seemed to believe in (but was not true, IMHO).

Who did you miss?
I’m learning to give up the ghost.

Who was the best new person you met?
Willie, the office’s police officer. He welcomes me by name every morning. It’s a nice thing, to be greeted with such cheer.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Life is about making changes as you go. Don’t postpone a single moment of happiness because you think you’re not ready yet. You have to mend the sail while you’re at sea. (Truth is, I have to learn this lesson every year.)

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
At this point in my life,
I’d like to live as if only love mattered
As if redemption was in sight
As if the search to live honestly
Is all that anyone needs
No matter if you find it

Happy New Year

Oh, September.  I love you, I hate you, I love you.

In September, the heat finally takes a backseat to the humidity-free, cooler temperatures that I love.  In September, I’m reminded of childhood me, when I was excited about the new school year.

I loved from an early age the rush of excitement from a blank page, both the paper kind and the figurative kind.  What could I put on that page that was totally original?  The new school year meant an opportunity for me to be authentic, even though I never knew how, until very recently.

Most people feel a sense of new beginnings in January.  They ring in the new year and start anew.  Not me. My personal clock resets in September, and I use that feeling of hope and renewal between my birthday and Thanksgiving to get me to the first week in January.  I can only claim this of December: I survive it. So by the time the new year rolls around, I’m just trying to maintain upright mobility.  Maybe I should celebrate all holidays in October.

But September!  I love September!  And then comes my birthday, which I certainly hate.  The older I get, the more maudlin I become around my actual birthday, and not because of the dumb old reasons about getting older.  I can acknowledge that age is just a number and that I am as young as I feel, blah blah etc etc.

But still… I do have a some dreams and an timid background buzzing of restlessness.  I want to travel to the world, have a family, write a book and finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  And every year that I celebrate the awesome person I’ve become, I’m reminded of how little time is left to get the stuff I really want. It’s all a cosmic crap shoot of destiny and personal responsibility and Katherine Heigl rom-coms.

September reminds me there’s hope, and more importantly, still time. I doubt I’m going to figure it out before I fall alseep, so I can sip a glass of wine here with the windows open and the cars honking on Wisconsin Ave, and think about how tomorrow is the first day of the new year.

I will ride that euphoric high of cooler temperatures as long as I can.  And I will remember that no matter what month or day it is, I can always start anew; I can set out with fresh eyes and a blank page.

I think that might be enough, for tonight anyway.  Happy 38, self.

My (Mostly Unedited) Thoughts on the 2013 VMAs

PRE-SHOW:

8:22:  Am intrigued by Sway. And Sway’s hat.

8:32:  I get it, Jared Leto.  Wear all the leather palazzo pants you want, but you’ll still be Jordan Catalano to me.

8:43:  Pharrel arrives on his bike!  And his bike friends hop around like bunnies.  Adorable.

8:57:  Taylor Swift is very tall. Her dress is amazing.  Hate her hair, and all of the talking coming out of her mouth.

SHOW:

9:00:  Lady Gaga opens the show by wearing normal makeup and singing like Ethel Merman, but then scaring us to death with her scary homemaker face.   I hung in there for a long time with Gags, but this is meh.

9:09:  Best Pop Video:  Selena Gomez, Come and Get It.  I wanna get a drink with her now that she’s 21.

9:16:  Vanessa Bayer becomes my hero.

9:17:  Sticking out tongues and twerking.

9:21:  Miley ruins everything.

9:22: 2 Chainz restores order.

9:23:  My brother Matt just wins everything by texting me: “Backstage, Robin just said to Miley, ‘You’re ain’t the hottest bitch in this place!'”

9:24:  Lil Kim.  Um.  No.

9:35:  I post on Facebook that this show kind of sucks so far.  I feel old.

9:37:  Hey!  It’s Jared Leto’s palazzo pants again!!!

9:38:  Kanye should call this performance “AutoTune Silhouette.”  I had loved him since his Through the Fire song but I’m lukewarm about this.

9:47:  Nile Rogers, it’s totally cool that you’re here.  Except that no one knows you because they’re too busy buying Austin Mahone t-shirts online.

9:49:  Best Female goes to Taylor Swift.  I’m so over Taylor writing songs about her past relationships!  She says that this award goes to the person it was written about it and that person “knows EXACTLY who he is.”  Gross.  All of us who went to high school and had the luxury of having that high school drama be private is begging you not to say shit like that ever again.  You’re old enough to know better…  I turn angry for a bit.

9:51:  Ryan Lewis & Macklemore win something for “Same Love”.  I’m immediately not angry and filled with love.  Thanks for being real artists, y’all.  I have never seen Mary Lambert before, but if I were gay, I’d want all up on that ass. Dayum.

10:00:  JUSTIN SQEEEEEEEEEEE.  I remember to breathe deeply while this pre-roll is happening.  Preparing not to hyperventilate.

10:01:  IS THAT A BALD RYAN GOSSLING as backup dancer????

10:02:  Take Back The Night is not an song about rape prevention, FYIsises.

10:03:  Justin reminds us what a pop star is supposed to sound and dance like. “I STILL RUN THIS B*TCH.”

10:04:  My heart beats a little faster b/c I think he’s going in reverse songbook chronology and hope the NYSNC rumors are true.

10:06:  Not sure if that is Ryan Gossling.  But I want it to be.

10:07:  This look.  Damn.

justin

10:08:  It feels like something’s coming up.

10:09:  Yeah, am pretty sure that’s not a bald Ryan Gossling backup dancer.  Cut to Taylor Swift who is performing in her seat like she’s part of the show, and I want to punch her in the face.   I immediately feel bad about this.

10:10:  Crying.  NSYNC reunion and it’s just as good as it always was. I wish I were a teenager again.

10:12:  JC Chasez reminds us all he’s crazy talented.  “Baby baby baby!”

10:14:  Suit & Tie. You’re just rubbing it in now, Justin.

10:16:  Mirrors, which is not my fave, but I realize he has now been performing for 17 minutes.  No one else could have commanded this much attention in this day and age. Twas a mini-concert.

10:18:  I love Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s (authentic and adorable) friendship.  Y’all remember when Michael Jackson won the Video Vanguard award and it was hella awkward?

10:21:  “Half of the Moon Men I ever won were with those four guys right there.  We can keep it at my house, but I’m gonna share it with them.”  You better stop. Right. Now.

10:33:  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis:  “Same Love”  I think this is the best song of the summer, even thought “Blurred Lines” was my summer jam.  This song, performed live, in front of the world is a blessing, plain and simple. “If you preach hate at the pulpit, your words aren’t anointed.”

10:36:  Jennifer Hudson agrees.  I’m not crying on Sunday. YAY GAYS!!!

10:40:  Emile Sonde is British? Wha!  Actually, that makes sense.

10:44:  Still laughing over Matt’s text.

10:45:  T-Boz and Chili introduce Drake, and they’re drunk, I guess.  I miss Left Eye.

10:48:  I have sad feelings about my sexual attraction to Drake.  I’m confused, mostly.

10:56: Best Male Video:  goes to Bruno!  I am a total Bruno fan.  I’m excited, even though he has a Forest Service hat on.  (Or maybe because he has that hat on, I love him.)

11:06:  Speaking of Bruno, I believe that the world is watching Bruno Mars become a huge pop star. Finally. Hopefully.

11:14:  Video of the Year!!  Justin Timberlake.  It’s a tribute to his grandparents.  “I hope my grandmother is watching, this is for you Granny!”  Of course.  Granny.

11:18: Allison Williams introduces the final performer, KATY PERRY!!

11:20:  Louder than a lion, ‘cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!  Louder!!

11:21 I still feel really old.  This show went 21 minutes over.

THE END.

I Am Cherry Alive!

My love for literature goes way, way back. I remember my parents reading to me as a young child, and I was truly mesmerized.  I listened to their breath change as they spoke the words on the pages.  I knew then that The Written Word and I would always be pals.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher left in the middle of the school year to take a job with a non-profit educational foundation.  His last day in the classroom was emotional, but it was particularly memorable for me because I saw a grown man cry freely over something that wasn’t sad.

You see, my friend Joelle’s tribute to him was reading this poem aloud, and it was the first time I was truly breathless over the power of literature. It winded me, just as sure as I had been sacked by a linebacker.  I saw Mr. C’s feelings crescendo as she spoke, and as his tears fell when she stopped speaking, all he said was, “thank you.”

Yet it’s surprising now, even after all these years, and as many times as I have read this poem, that it can still catch my breath. But then again, not such a surprise at all. And that’s the whole point.

————

‘I am cherry alive,” the little girl sang,
“Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be someone new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be someone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too,
And I put it in along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing : It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit,
The pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong
When I sing my song,
But I don’t tell the grown-ups, because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up
And forgot what they knew
And they are sure
I will forget it some day too.
They are wrong. They are wrong.
When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold,
I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me,
I will always be new!”

“I am Cherry Alive,” by Delmore Schwartz