Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Cracks in the Darkness

I know this is going to sound like one of those cheesy email forwards (or something people keep sharing incessantly on facebook even though it has questionable authenticity), but I swear to God this just happened.

I was on my way home from the park in which I go running (I've been running, guys - but that's another post for another day) and I passed the shelter house/gazebo thing, where a bunch of college guys were having a grillout. A pack of them were playing a game of wiffle ball or something. A family riding their bikes was passing by, and they let the little boy take a turn at bat. They kept overthrowing and fumbling and mishandling the ball so that the boy was able to get a home run. They all cheered and clapped for him when he crossed home plate. The kid was so adorable, running like mad, still wearing his bike helmet. I couldn't see his face but I'm sure he had a huge grin on it.

Sometimes, people don't suck.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Only Light, Only Love

The world is changing every day, and it never seems so apparent as it does after weeks like the one we just went through. 

I've been slowly giving up on humanity, and perhaps it's because I spend too much time hovering around the Internet, which magnifies the degree of ignorance and hateful comments and rudeness and entitlement and shallowness that seems to be so prevalent these days. When news from Boston began to trickle in, it was all I could do not to just throw my hands in the air and quit the human race. 

But something else happened. The light shone more brightly that day, too, driving back all of the awful and showing the strength and compassion that we are capable of. The message was clear, and the echoes resounded loudly: love always wins. The sheer volume of love last week brought tears to my eyes. Despite all of the bad things that seem to happen more and more, I don't quite remember such a loud message of love and determination before. Not after 9/11, not after Newtown, not after Steubenville. Something feels different this time. It feels like the good guys finally all stood up at once and said "enough." 

We have let the demons play too long. We have gotten into petty arguments and political interests and argued over cause and blame. Today, we go deeper, to the very heart of it - Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. It feels like it has finally sunk in, and I hope it sticks. 

Something else happened last week that has completely changed my life and my heart forever. My little nephew was born on Wednesday morning, and I've never been so attached to another person as I was to him. Babies have a way of making us realize what's important, I think. They start so innocent, and the world has the capacity to break them down and make them hard and bitter, as it has done to so many of us. But I can't help but wonder what he will be like when he grows up, if he and his peers will pick up the torch and put an end to this destructive, devisive behavior that we're engaged in. I hope he doesn't have to. I hope we can do it ourselves - our generation is still young. We're still "on deck" - our parents and grandparents are still in charge, and they hold tight to a status quo that is rapidly becoming obsolete. We have the power to change things, guys. If not now, then soon. I think we are on just the right side of jaded, where our disillusionment is fueling our fire to be something more, be something better. And maybe that simply means being better people, being better to each other. 

Having a new baby in the family is such a powerful source of light and love, and it's been hard to reconcile this feeling of joy against all of the bad that's been showing up all over my screen. I could not process anything happening in the news, because my heart was so full from holding that baby, and the conflict of emotions was like whiplash. I didn't want to let go of that warm, happy feeling in order to be properly outraged, and I was angry at the world for introducing such awfulness into my happy bubble. The dissonance was overpowering and I felt almost suspended in a state of empty emotion - how could I allow myself to be so content and joyful when so many people are suffering and scared?

But then it occurred to me: by allowing that light in, love wins. It doesn't take away from the grieving families, but it's a little love bullet against a faceless hate. Lean into the love, and it fuels you. Our weapons are not bombs and guns - they are hands and arms, reaching out to help or to hug. They are acts of kindness and displays of courage, hope, and love. This is what makes our side stronger: hope cannot be killed. Our cities can be terrorized and broken and destroyed, but our spirit cannot. We are more. We are love.

Monday, April 8, 2013

so, this is a thing that happened.

A few weeks ago, I was minding my own business, going on one of my sporadic Twitter outbursts sprees, when I got this unusual direct message from none other than Target. I didn't even know Target was allowed to direct message people. They were all YO WE LIKE YOUR TWEETZ, YOU SHOULD OPT INTO THIS CONTEST THINGY SO WE CAN USE THEM.

I was like, que? and clicked the link and I don't remember any of it other than if I gave them permission to use my tweets then I could win a gift card if it was chosen to be featured on some event thingy whatever. And I'm like, whatever, it's a tweet about yogurt, you can feature it anywhere you want, especially if you send me a gift card. I like gift cards. Especially to Target. I can not emphasize enough the "whatever" aspect of this whole thing.

Then I promptly forgot about it.

Then I got tweeted at on Wednesday and they were like YO WE MADE THIS WEIRD VIDEO ABOUT YOUR TWEET.

Which led me to a weird little YouTube video with a voiceover guy that sounded like William Shatner who provided an interesting interpretation of the pronunciation of my Twitter handle, and it was weird.

Like, I don't even know what just happened.

And then there were conspiracy theories, and then I crowned myself the Queen of Yogurt.

I meant to make a FaceShop photo for this but I have not done it yet and this post is collecting cobwebs so if I do it before I actually post this, you won't see this sentence, but if I don't, well. My intentions were pure.

And finally I tweeted at Target being all WHAT DOES IT MEAAAAAAAAAAAAAN and they're like, "if we pick your tweet to feature in our Runway Event tomorrow, you get a gift card!


So then the next day they did tweet at me being all YO WE FEATURED YOUR TWEET and I was like WHEEE but then I clicked at it but then it was a different tweet that I didn't get a weird video for and I was momentarily confused because I didn't even know that tweet was a finalist.

No, I lied. It did get a weird video. IT GOT THE WEIRDEST VIDEO EVER

And then I got tweeted AGAIN saying they featured my tweet about the Yogurt.


Like, look at that model's bitchface. I DID THAT. I MADE THAT HAPPEN.

So I'm like, DID I WIN? TWICE?

Why yes. YES I DID.

They made good on their word, too.

Moral of the story: sometimes, just sometimes, the Internet will give you free stuff just for being awesome.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Clever Radio Presents: ZZ Ward

Cleaning out my drafts folder as part of my overall "spring cleaning" endeavors - not quite the same as having eight garbage bags full of old clothes to donate, but, y'know. Every little bit of closure and organization helps, yes? Also, this post was from December, if that tells you anything about how far behind on absolutely everything I am. I figured this would be mildly relevant since I posted something music-related yesterday. The straws, I am grasping for them.

Friends, let me tell you about a new album that I am currently mildly obsessed with. (No, not Grace Potter. We talked about that one already. I was actually in the middle of this post when I posted that one. Attention span FOR THE FAIL!) 

Let me also tell you how long it has been since I've been this excited by an album. Rare, also, is the album I can listen to on repeat and not get sick of within a day or so. I mean, okay, this album and I, we're still in the honeymoon period, but you need to mark my words (MARK THEM!) this girl is going to be huge.

[available for purchase here for the low low price of $5 through the month of December]

I randomly stumbled across this album in the Amazon $5 MP3 section. I'm not sure what made me click on it, but I am IN LOVE. I only made it through half of the preview tracks before I was all BUY BUY BUY and very antsy to just purchase the damn thing. (I waited for the previews to finish anyway, because I am polite, I guess?) The last time I was this impressed by an album after the first listen, it was Adele's 21. Y'know, before she was overplayed to death on the radio.

I've always been terrible at describing music and why I like it. It's... hmm. Her voice is intense and you can tell she's talented (listen this cover of an Etta James song. I want her to cover all the songs ever.). Her songs are sassy and have a dirty bluesy sound to them, a hint of hip-hop, a predominance of guitar and piano, but carried mostly by vocals. It's the kind of music you'd expect to hear in a dimly-lit, smoky venue. I feel like I should be drinking whiskey or something while listening to it. 

I think the best way I can describe it: the love child of hip-hop and blues. (I think? I am terrible at this game.)

The lyrics are more sophisticated than a lot of other songs I've heard lately. Like the majority of music out there, a lot of them circle the subject of love in its various aspects, but they're anything but cheesy. They are by turns lustful, heartbroken, aloof, cocky, mischevious, and soulful.

My top tracks, to narrow it down, Til The Casket Drops (the title track), Blue Eyes Blind, If I Could Be Her. I'm hard-pressed to explain why, but they just are. She has also created what are now my favorite breakup songs (if there is such a thing)... a grownup breakup song that's truly heartbreaking in Last Love Song and a bad-ass "I'm throwing your shit out the window, asshole" song called 365 Days. 

Also, she wears a fedora. Which makes us kindred spirits. 

[via Amazon]

I... I kind of hope the radio never gets hold of this album. It's not that I don't want her to succeed; it's that I don't want this album to be ruined for me. Because I'm selfish, and kind of a hipster, sometimes, ish. I mean, not that I really listen to the radio... I haven't been overly keen on "today's music" (that makes me feel so crotchety, yeesh) and for all I know the radio consists entirely of Katy Perry and One Direction and whatever else is popular right now, like I said, I don't really listen to it much. I get annoyed with it easily. Mostly it's the commercials, I think? I hate radio commercials. I JUST WANT TO LISTEN TO MY MUSIC, OKAY? NOT YOUR CHEESY AD PITCH. But ZZ Ward doesn't strike me as being a radio-ready pop starlet. (Could be because they'd have to probably censor out some of her lyrics a bit, heh.) I don't think that was the intention behind this album. It doesn't sound like a radio album. Which is refreshing. Some artists make music specifically based on what will sell, what is popular right now. I'm at a loss as to compare this to anything else right now. The closest match to her voice would probably be Amy Winehouse, and I suppose you could make a case to compare her to Adele, but I think she stands out enough on her own without comparisons. This whole paragraph is what happens when I write stuff late at night. 

I'm bummed that she's not touring anywhere near here* on the next go-round. The closest Midwest dates hit right around when I'm shipping off to Denver for a trade show. Go figure. Fingers crossed for the next round.

*Okay, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Chicago are fairly close. But I like it when things end up right in my backyard.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

All But Four Words

This post is part of the Scintilla Project, a two-week storytelling extravaganza that encourages bloggers to share stories based on a shared set of prompts. Click the link to visit the site and find out more, or to sign up! Visit the blogroll to find other blogs that are participating and to read their stories, too.

[I'm picking up the pieces of this project and just grabbing random prompts and answering them as I am able. The project is technically over at this point and this was the prompt from Day 9 or something in the middle like that. I told myself I'd give it my best effort, though, so I'm going to try to crank out at least a few more prompts so I don't feel like a total failure.]

Prompt: What is the longest thing you know by heart (for example, a prayer, speech, commercial jingle, etc.)? Why did you learn it?


I have a knack for learning song lyrics - I like to sing along to the radio when no one else is around, and my perfectionist tendencies make sure that I am using the right words. It's rarely a conscious thing, absorbing the words set to a melody, but once they're in, they stay there for several years. The music helps - I don't memorize things as well as I once did, my brain is far too preoccupied these days to learn a speech or any sort of prose, but the rules don't apply once there's a tune I can follow.

The list is endless, I suppose. Things I could remember, things I used to know, little snippets of sonnets or songs we used to sing in elementary school music class. Christmas songs and nursery rhymes, the key sequence for playing a scale on my flute - something I haven't touched in ten years. I was on our flag corps for two years, I could probably still do the routine to our school song if you gave me a flag-like stick to wield. The first few lines of the Gettysburg Address or the US Constitution. All of the states in geographical order and all of their capitol cities. Bits of dialogue from movies. Things I remember without even knowing that I remember them. The sheer volume of stuff that's buried in my brain is impressive, if not bordering on ridiculous.

I'd probably be an ace at karaoke, if I could carry a tune. Song lyrics are one of those things I do well. I listen to them, try to wrench out their meaning, analyze them. My BF is the complete opposite, he tunes out the words and only listens to the music. I have never been able to listen to songs this way, because I've always been obsessed with words and how they work and how they can sound lovely or angry or any emotion in between. They give a voice to what's in your heart, what's on your mind. A song is oftentimes a poem set to music, but I guess that makes it easier to remember. Music always wins.


And I'd give up forever to touch you, 
'cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be, 
and I don't want to go home right now

All I can taste is this moment*, 
all I can breathe is your life
When sooner or later it's over, 
I just don't want to go home tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that aren't coming, 
or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies, 
yeah you bleed just to know you're alive

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am

[I sat and typed this out straight through the best I could remember. The asterisk denotes the bit that for some reason I was stuck on and couldn't remember and had to look up, but not bad for a song that's, what, fifteen years old? Forgetting only four words is still somewhat impressive, I think.]

I don't remember what it was about this song that struck me so much when it came out. I fell in love with it immediately, and despite the incredibly cheesy nature of it - being a late 90s rock ballad of sorts - I still consider it one of my favorites. There was something about it that stuck with me for years and years. It was beautiful, to me, full of the romantic angst that I longed for as a teenager, this soul-altering type of bond with another person, breathless, pleading, resigned. 

It was written for the movie City of Angels, which I finally saw some years later, and absolutely hated because the ending is so completely heart-shattering and awful and it was really mean of the writers to take such an otherwise lovely movie and leave me so depressed afterward. I was actually angry at the movie, and I am still stuck with my $5 Walmart-bin copy that I have refused to watch again. I don't know. Maybe I will. It's been a while. I doubt that I will ever forgive that movie for its ending, though.

Regardless of my feelings toward the movie, the song still stands alone. I mean, if you don't count the music video where Johnny Rzeznik is rolling around being all creepy with like six thousand telescopes spying on Meg Ryan. 

Man, I miss the 90s sometimes. I mean, for real. My two favorite Pandora stations are Florence + The Machine and 90s Alternative. NOSTALGIA.

Ten points to me for spelling "Rzeznik" right on the first try.

I always pass this song off as one of my guilty secrets, as one of those things I pretend to like ironically, when, truthfully, I just plain like it. I KNOW THE WORDS BY HEART, FOR GOD'S SAKE. I'm not fooling anybody. And that's probably okay.

What about you all? What songs do you know by heart? What's your favorite "guilty secret" song?

Might as well confess. Johnny's watching you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Living Out Loud

[Source: Lisa Congdon via Pinterest]

I found this on Pinterest and it really spoke to me. I've currently got it tacked up at my desk at work. I want with every fiber of my being to live out loud. I want to make it all count. I don't want to wake up one day and wonder what happened. I'd rather wake up and wonder what I should take on next.

I was not meant to lie down and let life pass me by. I was not meant to be caged. I was not meant to conform. I am meant for more than a black-and-white life - I need the full rainbow of colors. I have this inexplicable sense of defiance that burns down in my very core.I fought it when I was young, I tried to blend in... but I was meant to stand out. There is something, somewhere, in this world that I was meant to do, and meant to be great at. And, dammit, I will not rest until I find it. I owe it to myself.

It sounds like a cliche, but I feel on fire with possibility right now. I'm done wandering. It's time to start doing. I'm tired of waiting for the right time, or for this to happen, or this. I want to go. Wherever it is I am supposed to go, that is where I want to be. I'm the queen of excuses but I need to get out of my own way, or I'm going to tread water for the rest of my life. This is now, this is all we have. 

Truth? I'm scared. I'm always very uneasy about change. I like being comfortable, I like knowing what comes next. But there's plenty of time for complacency when I am old; I feel like I'm wasting what's left of my youth. I think I need to start chasing those dreams before they end up being hollow memories. If I want something more, I need to hunt it down myself. It's clearly not coming to me. I'm still not even sure what that means, what it is I'm after, but I know I won't find it with what I'm doing now.

These are the things that are occupying my mind these days. What's next? What do I do with myself? What is it, exactly, that I want? Maybe answering those questions is the first step. Or maybe I just need to hit the ground running and see where I end up.