It's Hard Growing Up Easy
I have somewhat diverse taste in music. Although there are many musical genres I’d like to know better (Help Wanted: Woman seeks musical sherpa to teach her the ways of classical, jazz, indie rock, and Tom Waits), my favorite artists are varied and always changing. Led Zeppelin, Nina Simone, Nirvana, Beck, Tribe Called Quest, and Public Enemy all spend equal time in my stereo. But I am here to tell you that it was a hard, long road that brought me to this day in my musical life.
I was raised on Easy Listening.
As a youngster in the 70’s, my earliest musical memories, after the Sesame Street records, are from 106.9 WSWT, Peoria’s Home of Easy Listening. I was weaned on Bread, Gordon Lightfoot, and Lou Rawls. While most of my peers have fond memories of an older sibling or parent introducing them to The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, or Heart, I have no such Almost Famous moment in my childhood. I wasn’t introduced to those bands until well into the 80’s, when their musical output was not at its peak. I thought Mick Jagger was a freak with terrifying lips, that Stevie Wonder was the King of Velveeta, that Heart’s career began (and ended) with All I Want to Do is Make Love to You.
I had no one in my life to tell me otherwise. In those first few years when the realm of my existence was my home and the family car, my parents made sure the radio dial never left 106.9. They would occasionally slip in a Ray Conniff Singers 8-track, and it was years before my ears were treated to anything beyond Engelbert Humperdink or America. Eventually television played its part in my musical rearing, but even then my exposure was limited to Donnie and Marie Osmond and Sonny and Cher.
Immediately upon watching my first episode of The Partridge Family, something inside me changed. With David Cassidy at the mike, music was suddenly sexy. Two of the first words I ever learned to spell were “Keith” and “Partridge.” I brought art projects home from pre-school that consisted of a tree, a sun, a stick figure, and the crayon scrawlings “Keith Partridge.” I taped each one to my bedroom door until it you could no longer see the door for the “art”. When I finally pulled the drawings down, the tape removed the paint from in a million little places on the wood. While my father furiously sanded the door in his workshop, I felt a hint of shame. My crush had gotten out of control, and personal property had been destroyed. It was my first taste of music’s dark side, and it was hardly my last. During playtime in kindergarten, I danced in a mad frenzy to the Village People’s YMCA. My kindergarten teacher reprimanded me during one such performance for getting too “aggressive” with the boys. I had worked myself into too much of a sweat for her comfort level, and had to spend the next playtime sitting on a bean bag while my fellow five year-olds boogied down.
In 1979 I started first grade, and rode a bus to school for the first time. Although I was forbidden from (and frightened of) the back seats of the vehicle due to my young age, I could still hear Queen reverberating from the boom boxes of the eighth graders twelve rows behind me. Although I sometimes misinterpreted the lyrics (it was years before I realized they weren't saying, “We are the Chestnuts”), the dramatic rock-opera beats seduced my ears. It was my first true exposure, other than Elvis, to rock and roll. My life would never be the same.
By the time the 80’s hit my parents no longer had full control of the radio. In order to maintain cafeteria credibility, I moved the dial of the hi-fi from 106.9 to 93.3. Anne Murray and Captain and Tennille were soon sharing the airwaves with Madonna and Michael Jackson. KZ93 was the contemporary rock station, although their playlist is now nothing more than the soundtrack to 80’s night at Alphabet Lounge. I don't think the term "pop" music existed back then, but that's certainly what we were listening to. Still, a precedent had been set in the Perino home. The new generation had voiced its opinion and been heard- WSWT had to rotate with KZ93.
At age eleven I joined Columbia House Record Club and was receiving monthly deliveries from artists ranging from Eddie Grant to Pat Benetar. Even my mom started getting into my music – she had joined an aerobics class and was memorizing dance moves to Huey Lewis tunes. Eventually MTV became a household fixture and once again I was able to picture the faces, big hair, and sparkled jewelry of the artists behind the music. By the time my brother had been kicked out of Catholic school and was bringing home Beastie Boys cassettes borrowed from his public school friends, WSWT was a distant memory, only played in the waiting room of my Dad’s psychology practice.
Still, I was missing a huge piece of music history that had transpired in the years before my birth. Thanks to an ex-nun music teacher named Mrs. Harmon, not only did I get to hear songs like Blowing in the Wind and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but I also got to sing them. In the car ride home from what must have been a torturous three-hour school musical performance, my Dad grumbled about the song Mrs. Harmon had taught my sixth grade class that year.
“When the hippies were singing Aquarius,” he said, “some of us were off fighting a war.”
Soon it all made sense. In the tumultuous sixties, my parents were yanked from their American lives and shipped off to Tokyo. My father was drafted as an officer in the Army and was forced to delay his PhD. By the time he and my mother returned stateside, the damage was done. They hummed along to GI Blues, not Give Peace a Chance. Although now I understand, back then it meant I had to find some of the best music produced in recent years on my own.
This is where my neighbors Nina and Kara Koplas stepped in. Their Dad worked for IBM and their mother was an editor for a high-profile art magazine. Mr. and Mrs. Koplas had a loom in their basement and made their own ketchup. They sported ERA buttons and voted for Anderson in the 1980 Presidential election. Their daughters, both older than me, showed me the Growing Up and Liking It sex ed book a year we were taught it in school (interestingly, that also fell under Mrs. Harmon's job description.) Nina and Kara taught me adult words and told tales of public school lore. They also introduced me to Joan Baez and Cat Stevens. Although the Koplas album collection had its disappointments (they owned the Broadway version of the Grease Soundtrack, not the Olivia Newton-John one, for example), it was different enough from my own to be educational. I am grateful to Nina and Kara for many things, but mostly I’m grateful that they helped fill some of the musical voids that transpired between man walking on the moon and Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.
My high school boyfriend picked up where they left off. Chris not only showed the telltale signs of an easy listening childhood (he often quoted Gordon Lightfoot and took me to the America concert at Steamboat Days), but he also had Too Short and Johnny Cash albums. When I first realized I was falling for him, Pink Floyd’s Time was playing in his stereo. Chris had the most eclectic musical taste of anyone I knew – and most importantly, when he left for a week-long family vacation, he left his entire Led Zeppelin collection in my charge. It was the greatest gift anyone had given me. Thanks to you I’m much obliged... such a pleasant stay.
Throughout the years I’ve met many wonderful people who have influenced my musical taste. Many of the artists I love today were introduced to me by a special person at a special time, and although the music itself is the primary reason I still listen, I confess to sometimes listening just to remember. Now I enjoy much of the same music my friends do, but I have never forgotten my roots. We all love The Beatles and The Stones, but I'm the only one in the crew who got to experience WSWT. In those rare moments when Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree or Baby I’m A Want You play, I’m the one who’s singing the loudest.
Even if that means I’m the only one singing.
Posted by GxxP at 10:37 AM
I just returned from the Chase bank on Varick Street, where I deposited my five-day-late-out-of-state-won't-have-the-money-for-days commission check (thanks, Corporate America!) As I approached the door to the bank, I noticed the following sign on the window:
No Dogs Allowed.
Seeing Eye Dogs Only.
Now I could be missing something here, but who is that sign for?
Posted by GxxP at 10:56 AM
We attended a Stevie Wonder concert last night. Well...actually, let me rephrase that. We were supposed to attend a Stevie Wonder concert last night.
A few weeks ago Gina IM'd me with some wonderful news. "STEVIE WONDER IS PLAYING AT THE BEACON!" she excitedly yelled at me in capital letters. "YOU'RE KIDDING ME!" I screamed back. Sure enough, Stevie Wonder and friends were playing on October 28th. Tickets were purchased, and my expectations were high. The lineup of acts included Stevie (of course), Faith Evans, Roberta Flack, and DMX...not too shabby. I had visions of Stevie sitting regally behind his piano, singing his heart out all the classics that I love. I pictured his "friends" joining in occasionally, mixing things up with interesting arrangements of "Sir Duke" and "Superstition;" DMX throwing down raps, giving props to the King himself. Unfortunately, upon our arrival at the Beacon, I realized that perhaps my expectations were too high.
As we walked up the stairs to the balcony, I spied a poster telling us that not only were the aforementioned performers going on last night, but we were also to be treated to performances by Montel Jordan and Naughty by Nature. I expressed to my fellow concertgoers a concern: Since there were so many acts on the bill, I was worried that there were only two possibilities. Either each performer would get only about 20 minutes for their set, or we would be there till about 4am waiting to see the (alleged) headliner, Stevie Wonder.
We sat down in our seats to the strains of Montel Jordan singing "This is how we do it." (A nice little blast from the past, but not exactly one of my absolute favorites.) Montel, clad in a tight sleeveless shirt and sporting a single spandex glove, bid us adieu, and the emcee ran onstage.
Rather than immediately introducing the first act, he treated us to the first of many diatribes regarding the coalition that had been the catalyst for last night's performance, the AEC (The Artists Empowerment Coalition). From what I gather from the countless lengthy speeches that were given throughout the night, the AEC is a group of musicians brought together to champion the causes of other musicians. I'm sure it's much more involved than that, but to be honest, largely due to the fact that I was so excited to see Stevie, the whole thing was completely lost on me. Finally the emcee stopped his speech and introduced the next act, Naughty by Nature.
Now don't get me wrong, ain't nothin' wrong with a little "OPP" or "Hip Hop Hooray" to get a party going, but for the life of me I could not recall any other hits that they could possibly dazzle us with. Sure enough, Naughty came out rapping "OPP," followed that up with about 10 minutes of filler, and closed (shirtless) with "Hip Hop Hooray." No surprises there.
We were then treated to another emcee (possibly a politician) extolling the virtues of the AEC, and finally Roberta Flack was announced. I thought..."Okay, finally, here we go." Unfortunately for Roberta (and may I emphasize, NOT her fault), her performance was pretty bad. I don't know who or what to blame more. The faulty sound system? Definitely. The fact that her band was likely provided by the theater and had quite possibly never rehearsed with any of the performers? Of course. How about the fact that Roberta's back up singers were chatting amongst themselves throughout the entire performance? Roberta looked great, and could still belt it out, but unfortunately the feedback from the microphone was so horrible that it seemed to be causing her visible pain. The sound was so bad that she basically threw in the towel for "Killing Me Softly," leaving the audience to sing the majority of the song. I don't blame her one bit, we probably sounded quite good considering the fact that we didn't have the faulty sound system and half-assed back up singers to contend with. While we half-heartedly applauded as she left the stage, I felt bad for Roberta, but mostly just hoped that they could get their act together before Stevie went on.
When the next emcee was finished with his speech about the AEC, the next act was finally announced. I expected DMX or Faith Evans to follow, and was quite surprised when it became clear that Stevie Wonder was the performer he was hyping us up for. Stevie was led on stage to his keyboard and (after a quick little snippet about the AEC), began to play. On a positive note, he sounded as good as ever, and looked great. Mostly, I was awed that I was actually in the same room as him. Sadly, the positives ended there. The sound problems that occurred during Roberta's performance were largely fixed, but the performance itself was so disorganized that I found it difficult to even look at the stage. The main problem was that there were no fewer than 143 people joining him for his performance. It appeared that everyone, from the back up singers to the clean up staff, had somehow ended up on stage with Stevie. I like to think that Stevie gave them all permission to join him in his performance, but Gina wisely stated that it was entirely possible that they were only up there with him due to the fact that he couldn't actually see that they were up there with him. I felt as if Stevie had been taken advantage of. I had no doubt in my mind that all the backup singers and musicians (and Beacon Theater ushers) that had snuck on stage would all be going around bragging that they had performed with Stevie Wonder. Fortunately for the audience, an intelligent sound technician had sensibly turned off (or turned down) all the backup singer's microphones, so we thankfully could not hear what I'm sure was a horrendous cacophony of 143 voices singing along in unison. His performance was short, a couple of songs, and then a quick medley of some of his biggest hits. As he walked on stage I felt incredibly disappointed. There was a whole hell of a lot of buildup for just 15 minutes of Stevie Wonder. What was most disappointing was the the realization that came to me a few moments later when we saw that the concert was not over, and were floored to find out that Stevie Wonder was not the headlining act.
Faith Evans performed next, and she was fine, though the feedback problem seemed to have returned.... I wasn't really paying attention. I actually left during the middle of her performance and completely missed DMX. I just couldn't get over the shock that Faith Evans and DMX received better billing than Stevie Wonder. I wonder if perhaps this is the beginning of the end? Are eventually all the great performers going to be relegated to being sandwiched between a semi-washed up Hip Hop act and a gangster rapper? Who will be the next one to fall? Is Stevie's next stop going to be playing carnivals? I'd like to think that this is not so, and that perhaps Stevie was simply doing his duty as a musician by lending his well respected name to a cause that he felt strongly about. For the sake of all the great musical artists, I hope that it's the latter not the former. I have high hopes, but I did just hear some disturbing news from my mother after relaying this story to her. Apparently The Beach Boys recently performed at the Lynden County (population 8000) Fair this summer. Ouch.
Posted by Jen at 09:19 AM
I just bid goodbye to my mother, father, brother, and sister in law, who spent an action-packed weekend in New York with me. Their souvenirs are rolls of photos, Carnegie Hall and Blue Man Group ticket stubs, and Big Apple tchotchkes. Mine are a bloated tummy, bags unders my eyes, and a pearl of wisdom from my sister in law.
My sister in law Beau lives with my brother in the wilderness of Wyoming. Our warp-speed tour of Manhattan must have left her with the same dazed feeling I felt when I visited her a few months ago on their ranch. Our lifestyles could not be further from each other, yet we enjoy our visits, always leaving with a smile -- fueled by both the experience and the relief of returning to the familiar. Beau is a sweet, soft-spoken woman a few months my senior whose commentary is sometimes shared only with my brother. At Pipa last night, I witnessed her tugging on my brother’s sleeve and whispering in his ear, and decided to get in on the secret.
“What’s up?” I asked her, hoping she would share her comment with the dinner table.
She looked at me hesitantly, then turned to my brother for guidance.
“She’s asking a… cultural question,” my brother explained.
Since Pipa was a tapas restaurant, and judging by my family’s reaction to the cryptic menu (“Um, order whatever you think we’d like, Gina,”), I offered to be of some help.
“Well…" Beau said, finally mustering the courage, “are all of the men in New York such… girly men?”
It was hardly the question I was expecting, but a legitimate one nonetheless. We were in the sixth restaurant of the weekend in which we were served by a flamboyantly gay man. I was as comfortable in that environment as any, but I quickly realized that Beau, shadowed by my brother’s 6’2” hulking frame, was as perplexed as I had been in the Cody saddle and rifle shop.
When I explained that many of my friends were gay, Beau elaborated. “I don’t just mean gay, I just mean, everyone is so… small.”
She had a point. The small-statured nature of New York men has been the topic of many discussions between my friends and I. At 5’7”, I hardly qualified as tall in the midwest, but once I moved to New York, I found myself my eye to eye with my male companions. Add a pair of two inch heels to the equation, and I’m hovering over them.
My friends and I resolved that although New York is home to people from all over the world, historically there has been a large draw from European countries where men may be a little on the short side. Spanish, Italian, French… these men are not known for their vertical prowess. But when I apply that line of thinking to the west coast, where Asian cultures have immigrated, I am left perplexed. Men in California are just bigger than men in New York. My theory suddenly sounds like a bunch of bullshit.
I suppose that Americans are as a rule large people. A little known fact that we learned on our Circle Line tour yesterday was that when Yankee Stadium recently renovated, they eliminated about 9,000 seats. Why would they do that?, our tourguide asked us. Because over the past 50 years, Americans have become 3 inches wider, on average. Yankee Stadium is now built to accommodate couch potato ass.
This proves that there are still large people, men and women alike, in New York City. If time had allowed, I would have escorted Beau to the Upper East Side to show her an ample display of meathead men. But her point is not lost on me. The fact remains that men in the wild wild west are bigger than their New York counterparts, at least the New York men that I spend most of my time with. Whereas Beau found herself a 280-pound man who can mend a fence and tame a horse, body mass has never been a prerequisite for my ideal man. I admit it, I’m a sucker for the intellects. It doesn’t require much upper body strength to lift a book to one’s nose, and that’s about my only requirement for a male companion. Well, not just being well-read, but funny, well-traveled, passionate about music, and impeccably dressed. Aw hell. I should just face it. The best man for me is a girly man. What that makes me, I have no idea.
Single, I suppose.
Posted by GxxP at 09:29 AM
We have a dry-wiper in our office. The women here have dubbed a certain
woman the dry-wiper because after she uses the bathroom she doesn’t
wash her hands. Instead, she vigorously cranks out some paper towels
and wipes her hands with them. She does this at all times of the month,
I might add. Dry-wiping is usually preceded by her touching her face
and checking her makeup and running her hands through her hair.
It’s one thing to not wash your hands after using the bathroom. I’m not
saying I condone not washing your hands (certainly not!) but what is
the point of dry-wiping?!? Why not skip the whole act altogether? A
friend of mine has a theory that she uses her hands to wipe herself and
that explains the need for the paper wiping (gross)!
Is it any wonder the amount of colds circulating the office?!
In the past year or so, I, and several of my closest friends, have finally cracked into a segment of society that at one time seemed impossible that I'd ever be a part of.... New Yorkers Who Can Afford Apartments Without the Financial Aid of a Roommate. I suppose it was the next logical step as our careers slowly advanced us into higher income brackets, but until it actually happened to me, I was convinced that I would spend the rest of my life sharing a bathroom with a person that I didn't really even like.
As I got settled into my new apartment, it became more and more apparent how lucky I was to live alone. Simple pleasures like walking around naked, and being able to store food in your refrigerator without fearing it be eaten by a roommate with the munchies, were just some of the things I excitedly shared with my friends regarding my new found freedom. These discussions of the benefits of living alone naturally led to talk of some of the nonsense that we had to deal with in some of our former living situations. After my departure from my parent's comfortable abode, I lived with a series of roommates, one crazier than the next. The insecure lesbian whose girlfriend would get mad at ME if I took too long in my own bathroom and the houseful of rowdy college boys who would habitually hold 3am skateboard competitions in the room immediately above my bedroom, were just a couple of the many wackos with whom I've shared a common space. No one however holds a candle to my most infamous roommate of all...Norma.
I had been living in New York for about 3 months when my alcoholic law student of a roommate decided to take a job with a small law firm in Kansas. Left with an apartment that was no longer rent controlled (and a salary that didn't allow for a 300% increase in rent), I was forced to find an alternate living situation. I couldn't have picked a worse time go on an apartment hunt in the city of New York. The internet age was in full swing, and decent apartments were as equally as rare as they were expensive. When placing a call to a number plucked from what was hailed as a "brand new ad," it was not uncommon to hear the words.."I'm sorry, 125 people have already called about the room. We're not taking any more applicants." I looked at "rooms" in converted studios, which were really just glorified closets separated from the rest of the apartment with a flimsy sheet. I saw one bedroom apartments where six 20-somethings shared a 400 square foot living space. (My share of the rent would have been $1100.) It was truly frightening. The market was booming and I was seriously panicking. I finally ran across an ad that sounded promising. In fact, it sounded too good to be true. Someone named Norma was looking for a female non-smoking roommate to share her big two bedroom apartment on West End Avenue in the 80's for a mere $450 per month.
When I rang the buzzer at the front door of a beautiful pre-war building, I hoped for the best, but expected the worst. When Norma answered the door, I was pleasantly surprised. She was a stout woman; approximate 70 years old, with a nice smile and a seemingly pleasant demeanor. She conducted the interview in a large (and immaculately clean) living room. She asked me some standard questions, showed me the nice (and big!) room that was for rent, and sat me down to tell me a bit about the rules of the house.
1. No boys were to enter the apartment. Ever.
2. Strict levels of cleanliness were to be met at all times.
3. No food outside of the kitchen.
4. No visitors unless prior approval had been given by Norma.
Strict? Yes, but I was desperate. At that point I was left with about four days to find a new home. I had this horrible vision in my head that involved me sitting on the curb outside my soon-to-be ex-apartment, surrounded by my paltry possessions. Out of sheer desperation, I decided take the apartment. After all, the neighborhood was great and the price was definitely right. I figured, what the hell, I can put up with anything for $450 an month.
I have never been so wrong in my life.
I arrived on moving day laden with my belongings and knocked on the door to my new home. I heard someone unlocking about 75 deadbolts and chains, and when the door finally opened was surprised to see a very odd looking stranger standing before me. After a double and triple take, I realized that the stranger in question was in fact Norma, my new roommate. Gone was the stout, friendly 70 year old, and in her place was a bald, fat, grouchy, old freak. A surgeon's mask covered a large portion of her face, but her bald head was in clear view. A housecoat circa 1964 covered her plump body; blue velvet slippers adorned her liver spotted feet.
"Take of your shoes!!" she screeched at me through the mask.
Scared as hell, I followed her command, and stepped into my new apartment. It was much as I remembered, save for the path of garbage bags that ran from the front door of the apartment to the door of my room. She informed me that she was worried that my boxes would scratch her floor, and asked that I stay ON the plastic path at all times. I wondered if the garbage bags were going to be a permanent feature.
After I settled in, she called me into the living room to re-discuss the rules of the house. I was more than a bit shocked when she handed me her hand-written, photocopied, 20-page booklet of rules and regulations. Inside the booklet were not only rules, but also detailed instructions regarding how I was to go about cleaning up after myself. I had to scour the bath after each and every use, I had to spray Lysol in the toilet every time I used the restroom, and any pot that was used not only had to be scrubbed with precision, but had to be scrubbed with the correct sponge (All the pots had their own specific scrubbers or sponges). Unfortunately, this was just the tip of the iceberg. There were instructions about how I was to open and close the front door, information regarding the exact placement of all the dishes in the cupboards, and rules about how I was to tear off the sheets of paper towels.
Suffice it to say, life with Norma was NOT easy. I spent the majority of my time in the apartment hiding in my room and avoiding her. This was fortunately not difficult, as she kept very odd hours. She slept until early afternoon every day, and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning. She liked to watch a lot of television, and would tape programs during the day while she slept so she could enjoy them at night. Her biggest passion however was professional figure skating. She taped all the events, and took detailed notes while watching the competitions. I tried to steal glances at the yellow legal pad which she used for her notetaking...I was never certain but I'm pretty sure she pretended to be a judge, scoring the competitors as they performed their routines.
I would try to slip in and out of the apartment as quickly and as quietly as possible, for if I was to wake her, or encounter her at all, I would be treated to a lecture about how she found a grain of rice on a pot that I had scrubbed incorrectly (...and oh by the way I used the wrong sponge!!). I would lie still in my bed pretending to sleep as she pounded on my bedroom door shouting about how I had forgotten to wipe down the mirror after brushing my teeth. (When I would finally leave my room, I would find that she had taped to my door the "how to clean the bathroom mirror" page from her handbook.) As I stayed with her longer, I quickly began to realize how crazy she actually was. If she hadn't been so annoying and cruel, I would have probably begun to feel sorry for her.
I began to spend as little time as possible in the apartment. This wasn't a difficult task during the week since I worked during the day, but the weekends were a bit more of a challenge. Fortunately for me, a coworker of mine found himself in a similarly horrific living situation, and the bonds of our friendship were cemented over many a beer while complaining about our respective roommates. (The problem with his roommate was a combination of her horrific smell and the fact that he was pretty sure that she was a prostitute.) The Gin Mill on 83rd & Amsterdam offered a 12n-6p all you can drink special on Saturdays and Sundays, and J. and I spent many-a-day there avoiding our problems at home. The beer made it easier to deal with Norma, and I would stumble home following these drunken outings and fall blissfully asleep to the sound of her wild cheering for whatever ice skating competition happened to be on that day.
It wasn't until I began breaking all her rules that our relationship became particularly strained. I didn't make the conscious decision to rebel, it just sort of happened. After a particularly nasty lecture in which she accused me of moving her porcelain horse figurines (I actually DID move them, I wanted to see if she would notice...she did), I stormed out of the apartment to purchase some dinner. In an act of total and utter rebellion, I hid my slice of pizza in my purse and squirreled it away to my room. While eating pizza in my room that night, I tasted freedom, and I began to revolt. I started breaking rules left and right. I had a friend over without getting her presence in the apartment pre-approved through Norma. I intentionally put pots back in the wrong places, and I sometimes put my food on Norma's side of the refrigerator. I once even left a hair on the sink. My biggest offense was when I snuck my boyfriend into my bedroom for some forbidden lovin.' For that mistake, I was forced to listen to an hour-long lecture about how the man that I let into the apartment could have KILLED her. "Killed her dead," she explained to me with very serious look on her face. This talk was followed by an even longer lecture about sex, the nature of which was so disturbing that I find it difficult to speak about to this day.
After I snuck the boy into my room, I figured I should probably cut my losses and begin looking for a new apartment. I naturally couldn't find anything as cheap as Norma's, but figured the money I'd save by not having to spend entire weekends in bars would pretty much make up the difference. A former co-worker of mine was losing his current roommate, and I quickly jumped at the chance to take her spot. Fort Greene was a far cry from the fancy Upper West Side, but at the time it seemed like an oasis in a desert of crazy. I was really nervous when I arrived at the apartment on the day I was going to tell Norma about my imminent departure. Though she was a complete nut, I still didn't want to leave her in the lurch, and I felt a bit bad. Fortunately, the scene that I met with upon opening the door alleviated all my hesitations.
I entered the apartment, and was hit with what can only be described as gale force winds. For a reason that was to be explained to me shortly, she had turned about 10 fans on at full blast and had pointed them directly at the wall that separated her apartment with that of the next door neighbor. She pressed her ear to the wall and whispered, "They're trying to poison us with noxious gases. The fans," she said, "they keep out the fumes."
"Come again?" I asked.
"The neighbors. Can't you smell it?" She sniffed the air and glanced furtively around the room. "They are poisoning us through the wall with an unknown gas. Here...put this on." She handed me a surgeon's mask.
I sniffed the air once, and said..."Norma...we need to talk."
About 20 minutes later I stepped out of the apartment and heard Norma yelling behind me, "How can you do this to me now! I'm in danger!! We're being poisoned I tell you!! POISONED!!" I ignored her, and continued out the door. I was a free woman once again.
As I entered the hallway, the next-door neighbor's door opened. A strong scent of incense wafted out of her apartment. Noxious fumes...nah...more like Nag Champa. I smiled, and left to go meet J. a the Gin Mill to tell him my exciting news.
Posted by Jen at 12:42 PM
Wurd of the Day
ParEnoia - The fear that no one is getting your emails, nor are you receiving anyone else's. In the most severe cases, manifestations of said condition include concocting conspiracy theories involving the government, your IT department, and/or enemies of the state.
Anything to avoid admitting to yourself that your friends aren't writing back to you.
Posted by GxxP at 10:12 AM
Confessions of a Serial NONogamist
For a long time I’ve been convinced that man is not monogamous by nature. I believe that monogamy is a social construction, that religious and government organizations have imposed the one-man-one-woman-till-death-do-us-part dogma on which the majority of people base their lifestyles in order to keep us subdued and obedient. I’ve chuckled at recent scientific discoveries that most of the animals and birds that we have been taught are monogamous really aren’t. DNA paternity testing of several species of birds have found that the mommies aren’t staying as close to the nest as we have thought. I know a woman in a healthy, functional polyamorous marriage and a man whose life-partner and he are open and accepting of one another’s lovers. On paper, or in the lives of others, it all makes sense. But reality is a far cry from the ideal.
As much as I believe in open relationships and freeing ourselves from the bonds of monogamy, I am a monogamist. I’m a big, doofy, self-tortured monogamist. I think one way but act another. I think the whole world should be about free love and honesty (people wouldn’t feel like such big losers when their relationships take a turn of infidelity if they realized that it’s only natural), yet I cannot even have a crush on two different people at once. I’ve only cheated on one boyfriend, and that was in college, and we hadn’t been sleeping together for over a month when I strayed (a month hiatus from the bedroom? In college? Something was clearly wrong.) I ended that relationship as soon as I could not remain faithful. Now I’m back to the shackles of monogamy, and I’m not even in a relationship. Before my relationships even start, monogamy gets in the way.
Here’s my deal. I’m very picky. When you’re very picky, the universe of men who you are interested in giving your time to is small. When you’re only considering one of them at a time, that makes it even smaller. Add to that the fact that the people I am most attracted to seem to be the least attainable, and I'm going to be monogamously single (nonogamous?) forever. Does he live four blocks away and call me a few times a week? I’ll tire of him in a matter of days. Does he live a few thousand miles away, never calls, and returns emails once every month or so? Is he in the Peace Corps, going through a divorce, or gay? Sounds great! Sign me up! I think I’m in love!
Clearly something has to change. The life of the nonogamist is precariously balanced between self-doubt (should I lower my standards?) and despair (screw 'em all!). Thankfully, I have lots of wonderful friends to keep me company while I mull this over. It makes the lapses between unrequited crushes a little easier to bear.
Posted by GxxP at 10:18 AM
I'm beginning to worry about myself. For the third time in less than that many years, a man has told me a story about his high school sex life, and I've had sex with him as a result. Allow me to break it down for you.
High School Sex Story #1
The first time this happened was a few years ago when a co-worker told me the tale of the first time he had sex. He and his high school girlfriend were virgins, and they patiently waited until they were both ready to consummate the relationship. They carefully selected her father's boat for the occasion and my co-worker threw the condom overboard when they finished. The next day, the girlfriend's dad brought his friends on the boat and was shocked to find the used condom hanging from the railing. Needless to say, the dad was not pleased, and now, over ten years later, he and my co-worker are nemeses in an annual Connecticut regatta.
Not only did I end up having sex with this man, but I dated him for nearly a year.
High School Sex Story #2
Earlier this year, a 2-night stand of mine told my friends and I a story of how he got caught having couch sex with his high school girlfriend by her father. Nearly caught I should say -- the dad didn't know what they were up to because they were under the covers, pretending to be watching tv. Apparently my flame continued to thrust at her (insert physical demonstration here) while the dad chatted away with them, oblivious to what was going on under the sheets.
This story led to my 3-peat with the flame, that very night. It turned Jerry on too.
High School Sex Story #3
Last night an old friend told the tale of how he and his high school girlfriend, virgins at 15 and 14, waited an entire year before they had sex. After a mere two unions, the girlfriend's mother found a note in her daughter's purse in which she talked about having sex with my friend. Not only did the mother confront my friend about this by saying, "Sex is a dangerous thing and you're too young to be doing it", but the father, while driving my friend home (he wasn't old enough to drive yet and was relegated to the back seat), glared into the rear view mirror and growled, "We have heard some very disturbing news..." The mother piped up from the passenger's seat and pleaded with her husband to drop it. They carried on the remainder of the journey in silence, and upon arriving at his house, my friend ran out of the van. He never went to her house again and the relationship ended because of extreme parental disapproval.
Even though that one was upsetting, within hours of hearing this story, I had sex with him.
There are numerous reasons why we have sex with people - physical attraction, intellectual flirtation, love, alcohol. But in all of these cases, the mere tales of high school lust set my loins afire. I think it's because I had an unrelenting boyfriend in high school and sex was our favorite pastime. Perhaps high school sex lore, to this day, still fills me with the primal urges I felt back then, when sex was new, addictive, and most of all fun. A large part of being young is about having fun -- perhaps in my old age I am merely trying to hold onto a little fun.
It's working so far.
Posted by GxxP at 02:18 PM
It's Time for Another Useless Holiday
No, I'm not talking about Columbus Day (that's another topic altogether). On the radio this morning it was announced that today marks the beginning of Pet Peeve Week.
How these absurd "holidays" come into existance is beyond me. I heard that it's someone's job to determine what color the lights of Empire State building will be every day. I've often wondered how she/he delicately chooses on those difficult days when two second-rate holidays are vying for the spotlight. January 14, for example, is Clean Off Your Desk Day and Coming of Age Day. Which do you choose?
This week, there are all sorts of decisions to be made. Not only is it Pet Peeve Week, but it's also Pharmacy Week, Teen Read Week, and Wolf Awareness Week. I'm not making this shit up. You can see it for yourself at Blue Mountain Arts.
Since Pet Peeve Week is the first one I heard about, I am going to limit my celebration today to that holiday (sorry Columbus, you get nothin'.) Perhaps tomorrow I will quietly observe the stoicism of the wolf, leaving Wednesday for National Boss Day, Thursday for Teen Read Week, Friday for Pharmacy Week (no better day to celebrate drugs than Friday), and wrapping things up with Sweetest Day on Saturday.
So in honor of Pet Peeve Week, here are some pet peeves'o'mine. Not that I encourage the celebration of these useless holidays, but what the hell, it's Monday and I feel like complaining.
10) I.T. professionals who respond to your complaints with the statement, "I hate computers." (This happens at my company. A lot.)
7) Companies whose customer support consists of a F.A.Q. page and an email address that takes 3 days to reply to your query, usually directing you back to the F.A.Q. page (read: ebay!)
6) People who call you but don't leave a message. Here's a news flash, folks - there is such a thing as caller ID. We know who you are and the exact time of your cowardly call.
5) Not meaning to sound like a behind-the-times comedian, but everything about air travel irks me. Airplanes have become buses with wings. 'Nuff said.
4) Britney Spears.
3) People who eat the last morsel of food and leave the empty container. I once broke up with someone because they did this. Well, there were other reasons too, but this particular habit of his really got on my nerves.
1) Made up holidays that symbolize nothing of meaning. Contenders include Answer Your Cat's Question Day (January 22), California Poppy Day (April 20), No Socks Day (May 8), Bad Poetry Day (August 18), Be Late for Something Day (September 5), Blame Someone Else Day (September 13), Sandwich Day (November 3), and Bathtub Party Day (December 5).
Someone must stop the madness!
Posted by GxxP at 09:46 AM
I was on my way to Hooters to meet Jerry and Gina for some wings, beer, and football when I made a startling observation:
Hipsters in the rain are a big ole' mess.
As I headed to the G train, I ran across a group of four or five hipsters. They were skulking through the October rain, looking absolutely ridiculous...their once perfectly coiffed hair soaked to their skulls, their nonsensically logoed t-shirts clinging to their skinny frames, their stylish shoes incompatible with the slippery sidewalks and oil-slicked puddles. None of them even carried an umbrella - an accessory likely too practical to be considered hip.
I wonder if they passed us commoners and felt even the slightest twinges of jealousy. Perhaps they coveted our simple lives and wished at that moment they too could walk comfortably through the rain in jeans and sneakers, their hair pulled back in ponytails or covered with worn baseball caps...umbrellas sensibly shielding them from the elements.
I would have felt sorry for the group had they not voluntarily chosen their lot in life. Sometimes though, it must be hard being a hipster.
Posted by Jen at 03:10 PM
Men Who Can't Handle our Pussies
About two years ago I was conned into adopting two cats. I am not a cat person. I have never liked cats and even now, being an owner of two of them, I am not sure that I am compatible with the feline species. To this day I'm still a bit foggy as to how I ended up being the proud owner of Max and Senin; two wayward brothers.
It all happened really fast. I was traipsing around Union Square one gorgeous spring afternoon, when I happened upon the Wal Mart of pet stores...PetCo. In the window were tiny little cats of all colors, all of whom were squirming around and looking irresistible. I was lured into the store by these creatures, as if I had no mind of my own. One second I was poking my finger in a cage, gesturing at two kittens, and the next moment I was as the cash register paying for a ton of cat supplies and holding in my hand a kennel containing the aforementioned two little cats. The events that occurred between the petting and the purchase included a small but rather important incident in which a shelter volunteer told me that they would be "terminating the animals" if I didn't adopt them. (Yes...I am a sucker.)
The cats caused me all sorts of trouble, including (but not limited to), the destruction of my couch, the ruination of several curtains, and the peeing on of numerous pillows...but regardless of the thousands of dollars worth of damage that the cats caused me, I began to actually enjoy their company. In a city like New York, what better pets to have than those that can sustain themselves for days with out having to be walked or petted? The lifestyle that I led sometimes caused me to be away from home for days (or only home for hours while I slept), and they supported that lifestyle marvelously. We lived in relative peace and harmony for some time, and I had actually gotten to a point where their naughty behaviour became somewhat charming...that is until I realized yet another reason why having cats can be a detriment to your life.
Cats can prevent you from getting laid.
I never really realized just how many people are allergic to cats. In the past year, at least three times, Max and Senin have prevented me from enjoying a pleasurable evening with a nice young man. On these occasions, my cats (damn them) have turned these romantic encounters into horribly embarrassing and often dangerous situations. In one particularly disastrous incident, the gentleman in question's allergy was so great that when he finally put himself into a cab, he almost directed the cab driver to the nearest hospital in fear that his throat would constrict and cause imminent death. Other times the allergy simply caused discomfort and sneezing, but was no doubt just as frustrating as a constricting throat.
Can you imagine having to give up the opportunity for a sexual encounter simply because you can't handle your date's pussy?
Posted by Jen at 04:00 PM
I have done it!! I have solved one of the biggest mysteries of all time!! ( Or at least one of the biggest mysteries at my place of employment.) For as long as I have worked at my company, someone has been stealing my milk out of the refrigerator in the kitchenette.
Our company is too cheap to purchase milk for their employees, and unless you are a fan of that faux milk product, Parmalat, if you want to enjoy your coffee "on the light side" you are forced to bring your own milk to work. Since any dairy product that does not have to be refrigerated (be it fake or otherwise) scares me to death, I am one of many who purchases milk and stores it in shared refrigerator at work. It is from this shared refrigerator that my milk is being stolen on a regular basis.
I know, I know...it's just milk. I shouldn't be so stingy. It's really the principal of the thing. Hell, I don't even really care if people use use my milk, but please, for the love of god, if you use the last bit of it, at least have the courtesy to purchase a new carton. There is nothing worse than pouring yourself a cup of coffee and then realizing with horror that your recently purchased (and recently full) carton of milk is empty, courtesy of the office dairy theif. I quickly found out that this milk theivery is not unique to me. It seems that everyone who keeps their milk in the fridge has had it stolen at some point. This has happened so much, that I have even gone so far as to tape a scathing note to the fridge demanding that the theif replace my empty carton with a full one, no questions asked. This of course never happened, and I dejectedly removed my note. (I was however applauded by my fellow milk-robbery victims for my efforts to solve the problem.) For over two years I have dreamed of catching the milk-napper in the act, and for those two years this theif has managed to remain at large....that is, until today.
I was in the kitchenette fixing a salad when one of my coworkers entered the room. As I sliced up vegetables and mixed my salad dressing, I noticed that she was puttering around and taking an unnecessarily long time to make her tea. Though I wondered about her odd behavior, my hunger overcame my curiousity and I picked up my lunch and left the room. As I walked out, I realized that I'd forgotten a fork, and returned to the kitchenette. Imagine my surprise when I saw her pouring MY milk into HER tea as if she didn't have a care in the world. I didn't say anything immediately, and instead quietly poured a cup of coffee. As she was returning the stolen goods back into the refrigerator, I innocently asked if she could "pass me my milk." She handed it over and glanced at me in horror as I poured a generous amount into my coffee. I smiled victoriously as she scampered, red faced, out of the room. Of course, I'm not going to confront her further about this, I think I made my point loud and clear. I have however told about 5 people that she's the dairy theif, I think that will suffice for now. Hopefully she's learned her lesson, and we can all now refrigerate our milk without fear.
Posted by Jen at 03:15 PM
My Ex-Boyfriend, the School Mascot
In Glenda’s recent blog, she was called out on her frequent mentionings of ex-boyfriends, and has accepted the challenge to not write about them for an entire month. To fill the void, I present to you a tale from the annals of high school, the story of my ex-boyfriend the school mascot.
The year was 1990, and I was coocoo for cocoa puffs over a younger man in my physical education class. His name was Chris and at first glance we didn’t have much in common – he was a C-student, I was on the honor roll; he didn’t play sports, I was a cheerleader. But every afternoon we suited up in blue polyester shorts and red t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Peoria Physical Education”, and our differences quickly disappeared. Amidst the frustrations of state-mandated school athletics, Chris found fun and humor. It was springtime, and we flirted shamelessly during relay racing and outdoor softball games. He was a complete goofball, but he made me laugh, and by fall, he was my boyfriend.
Chris spoiled me by being my first love. He called me the prettiest girl in school and we stole kisses between classes under the staircase in junior hall (he was a junior; I, the older woman, a senior.) He sent me flowers and scrawled messages all over my notebooks (“Chris Hearts Gina”, “Gina and Chris 4eva”, etc.) Even my mother said she lived vicariously through our little romance, often ogling my roses while my father was around to witness her envy. The first few months of dating Chris were as blissful as any I’ve witnessed since.
But as I’ve said before, bliss does not forever last. In this case, the threat to the peace and love of my relationship came from a simple football game. At my high school there was great pomp and ceremony surrounding the Friday night football games. A large percentage of the student body, along with parents, alums, and P-town locals, warmed the bleachers of the stadium and watched as the Knights made gridiron magic. Each week the cheerleaders painstakingly created a giant paper shield through which our meaty football players would leap onto the field, accompanied by the school mascot the Knight, a junior named Dave who lumbered around in a green velvet suit with faux chain mail atop. On this particular night, however, Dave was out of town, and was replaced by his best friend, Chris.
I was excited about the prospect of being so close to Chris during the game – usually I had to watch him in the stands from the sidelines below. Our hormones raged unrequitedly as the games plodded on, each advancement down the field bringing us that much closer to pawing each other at game’s end. But the night that Chris suited up and joined us on the sidelines did not evoke the rapture I had hoped for. Unlike Dave, who stood quietly by our side with his face covered with the Knight helmet, occasionally waving his sword in the air and jumping up and down to celebrate a touchdown, Chris took Knighting to a new level. Within the first five minutes of the game the helmet was off, and Chris was rivaling the entire cheerleading squad by leading the fans in a cheer. Except it wasn’t a real cheer, not like the cheers my squadmates and I spent hours practicing after school three days a week. Noooo, it was one of those made up cheers, more appropriate for an elementary school playground than a Class A high school football game:
Firecracker, firecracker, Sis Boom Bah
Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny, Rah Rah Rah!
As he punctuated his performance with a sharp plunging of his sword into the air, I was mortified for Chris and awaited the boos and jeers from the crowd. Except that didn’t happen. They loved it and screamed for more, which fueled the fire for his next masterpiece:
Gimme a T! (… “T!”)
Gimme an E! (…”E!”)
Gimme an N! (…”N!”)
Gimme a D! (…”D!”)
Six letters of the alphabet later Chris had lured the fans out of their seats with an enthusiastic and dramatic spelling of the word, “TENDERLOIN”. He was such a smash that by the following Friday, when Dave had returned to town, Chris was still filling in as the mascot. In fact, Chris was picking up gigs at the basketball games too. He may have been solely responsible for the increase in sporting event attendance that season. Whereas fans usually cheered for the team, or at the very least the cheerleaders, they were now turning out in droves to see the mascot.
You’d think I would have been happy to see people turn out to watch the games, that if I was a true cheerleader at heart I would have appreciated school spirit no matter where it came from. But the sad truth is I was pissed, because I was 17, and I worked really hard on my stupid cheers, and no one seemed to pay any attention to the cheerleaders with Chris around. Even my dutiful father, who videotaped several games that season, was guilty of Chris-idolatry. When I got home to watch the videotape after one of the games, I saw that Dad’s lens was often focused on Chris’s antics: Chris drawing his sword from an imaginary sheath and dueling with an imaginary opponent, Chris leading the adoring crowd in a three-part round of "Row, Row, Row your Boat." Now I realize how hilarious he was, but at the time I waged my own protest and beseeched the faculty member in charge of school events to put Dave back on the mascot beat.
“I can’t put Dave back on, everyone wants Chris,” she explained.
“But nobody’s paying attention to the cheerleaders!,” I whined.
“I suggest you talk to your boyfriend about that.”
Eventually Chris got the message and turned in his Knight’s helmet for other pursuits that year. I don’t know what acted as the stronger driver towards his retirement – protecting my jealous feelings or wanting his Friday and Saturday nights free so he could hang out with his friends. I do know that the mascot fiasco was not the last of Chris’s stunts. The following school year, after we had broken up and I had moved away to college, my parents received phone calls at their office pertaining to this little piece of news:
It was a harmless prank, but yet again I found myself embarrassed by Chris’s antics. In a post-break up attempt to see a movie together that summer, Chris and I were greeted at the theater by high fives and “Hey, Naked Man! Yeah, right on!” Even as the lights dimmed, our fellow moviegoers, upon seeing Chris in the audience, made their appreciation of his “naked surprise” abundantly clear. It was the last movie I ever saw with him.
To this day, I’ve never dated anyone quite like him. He’s no longer alive, but I hope this little memoir serves as a small tribute to a very large life. Chris made me jealous, he made me mad, but he also made me laugh. Now, eleven years later, I finally get the joke.
Posted by GxxP at 04:18 PM
This incident occured on the night of my fabulous Roller Skating birthday party at Roxy. After the party, instead of going home like a sensible birthday girl, I instead chose to meet a friend and former fling who had just gotten off work. Earlier in the evening this friend had flirted shamelessly with me AND given my some very pretty red roses. What occured in this cab ride home was most unfortunate, and a horrible way to end an otherwise perfect evening. The name has been changed to protect the innocent...or in this case, the not-so innocent.)
(Enter scene. Make-out session in cab with Mr. X )
Mr. X: I can't do this!! I have a girlfriend.
Jen: Okay....Sure. (Said with respect, as Mr. X appears to be trying to do the "right thing")
Mr. X: I mean...I'm sorry that I can't give you the birthday sex that I know you're looking for here.
Jen: (Chuckles, remembering the tiny....uh...problem from their prior tryst)
Mr. X: I mean...seriously. I'm really sorry. I know you wanted to have sex with me.
Jen: Yeah. Okay.
Mr. X: At least you got to make out with me. That flight attendant at the bar wanted me...and she didn't even get to make out with me. She was really hot.
Jen: Sure. Okay.
Mr. X: I mean she was hot. Not like you. You're just....you know....Jen. You do realize that I could of had that Swedish Flight attendant don't you. Instead I'm in the cab with you.
Jen: Stop talking now.
Mr. X: No seriously. I could have been in her hotel room. Instead I'm with you instead of that hot girl.
Jen: Seriously...stop talking.
Mr. X: You're lucky though. You at least got to make out with me. The flight attendant didn't even get that. She was so hot.
Jen: Now you've hurt my feelings.
Mr. X: You didn't think that I was going home with you did you? I have a girlfriend you know...I'm sorry we can't have sex.
Mr. X: She was really hot. Thanks for giving me a reason not to cheat on my girlfriend with her. I told her I had to make sure you got home okay. I told her I felt sorry for you.
Jen: Shut up now. You do realize that she was with her boyfriend don't you?
Mr. X: I do feel bad though...I know you wanted to have sex with me. You know, I was attracted to you once, I even risked my cat allergy for you at one point!
Jen: How much do I owe you? (To cab driver)
Jen: (Gives flowers back to Mr. X) You are a GIANT asshole! Take these...I don't even want them.
Mr. X: No, no...I want you to have them, it's the least that I can do
Jen: Okay. Fine (Gets out of cab, starts to walk across street, throws flowers down on curb, gives Mr. X the finger, goes inside)
5 minutes later, on the cell phone.
Mr. X: I'm really sorry, sometimes I can be very self centered and dramatic.
Jen: You really hurt my feelings.
Mr. X: I mean...I was just trying to let you know that I could have been with someone really hot, and instead I was in the cab with you..that should make you happy.
Jen: What is wrong with you?
Mr. X: What are you talking about. I'm calling to apologize for not being able to have sex with you.
Jen. (My response here could have been scathing, rude, and downright embarassing for Mr. X. However, I did not stoop to his level, and just replied with:) Just know that you really hurt my feelings on the night of my birthday party and now I'm likely going to cry myself to sleep. Click.
GET OVER YOURSELF DUDE. My God.
On a lighter note....a big shout out to all those who made my birthday so wonderful! I'm seriously considering joining the FIRS. I wanna be a STAR!!!!
Posted by Jen at 04:07 PM
Last night was Jen's birthday party at the Roxy, which she brilliantly planned on rollerskating night. We and several of our closest friends laced up orange-wheeled brown skates and whirled around the rink for approximately four hours. In between laps we took turns sitting in a big cushy booth, where we licked the frosting off Magnolia cupcakes, smoked cigarettes (wink wink), and quenched our rollerthirst with water and cocktails. I spent as little time in the booth as possible. Rollerskating is a lot like sex – once you start, you just can't stop.
While I whooshed around the rink to the hip hop and disco beats, I realized that the experience was a metaphor for life. As the tempo of the music changed I adjusted my skating accordingly – I had my speed demon moments, but I also took some leisurely laps when the DJ spun the slow stuff. The throng of fellow skaters multiplied during the best songs, making navigation on the tiny rink difficult, but at the same time exciting. You had to be constantly aware of those around and careful not to misstep. The seasoned skaters looked out for the novices – those who lost their balance were held steady by the arms of strangers; those who fell were quickly helped up. As the evening wore on the crowd dissipated, giving us who remained more room to freestyle. I tried some new moves and cornered with confidence, less conscientious of those around me and happy in my solitude.
As the landscape of the night morphed around me, and my participation within it (fast then slow, ecstatic then cautious), one thing remained the same. I was going around in a circle the whole time. It felt like I skated for miles, and maybe I did. But everything transpired in a very small space – again, and again, and again. Every time I passed the birthday booth, I was happy to see my friends there. They changed throughout the night (some moved about the club, some joined me on the rink) – but there was always someone there. And as much as I enjoyed the skating, and as much as I enjoyed skating alone – they were the reason I was there. Even if I was going around in a big circle, my skating was improving, and I had people I loved by my side.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but maybe that's all life really is. We exist in a very small part of it – not just in terms of space but in terms of time. The cities and towns that are the realm of our existence are specs on the map of the known universe. Our lifetimes, which to us seem so long, are merely a hiccup in history. We go to school, go to work, go on trips, go to birthday parties… but we’re still on this little patch of space and time that we’ll never transcend in one lifetime. If you have wonderful people – loved ones, as well as strangers – to share the experience with, they have a way of making you feel as if your roller rink is the size of the Indianapolis Speedway. That your life is something bigger than a couple of coordinates on the map of space and time.
And if that’s all life is, I think it's worth every minute, every precious lap around the rink.
Posted by GxxP at 11:15 AM
Last night I had the good fortune of seeing Jason Mraz perform at Mercury Lounge. In addition to being Stevie's good friend, Jason is a very talented entertainer. Stevie had played Jason's music for me before, but my appreciation for it exploded upon seeing him live. His stage props are limited -- one guitar, one back up singer/djembe player (a curious character named Toca who sports a waist-long mane of black hair and wears sunglasses at night). These, and a perfect honey-sweet voice, are the only tools Jason needs to create a mosaic sound of folk-scat-pop.
Jason's songs are beautifully simple. His voice is gentle yet strong; his lyrics are poetic yet humorous. His "less is more" performance is replete with anecdotes between songs and playful bantering with Toca. With his red baseball cap atop his head and his Grand Old Opry t-shirt on his back, Jason looks a bit like the goofy kid that everyone loved in high school. And, according to Stevie, he was. Hopefully his label Elektra won't file him under "boy sensation"; with John Mayer and an enthusiastic gaggle of female devotees in attendance at Monday's show, one can see how easily it can happen. But Jason is so much more than a one-man-boy-band. He's an exceptionally talented artist who doesn't take himself as seriously as he takes his music -- important ingredients for a successful career, which Jason seems just on the verge of realizing.
Jason is touring across America now, and his studio album is scheduled for release on October 15. If you’re near a destination city on their itinerary, you are one of the fortunates who can experience both Jasons – the album Jason and the on-stage personality. Make sure you do both if you can.
Posted by GxxP at 06:31 PM
Wurd of the Day
Hang Mail: An email exchange in which two parties are rapidly and/or intensely sending missives to one another, until one party completely abandons the conversation, not to be heard from again. The phenomenon is also known as not-so-instant messenger when manifested in a real-time web conversation.
Posted by GxxP at 10:00 AM