MC Baby DJ

My daughter loves music. She jubilantly shouts requests at me from the backseat of the car, or the tub, or her crib –

– “Jumpin’!” = See How I’m Jumping Jumping Jumping (A fave from her music class)

– “Come!” = She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

– “Be Back!” = Bring Back My Bonny to Me

She’s literally never once asked me what I feel like listening to. Unbelievable.

BabyMusicImage from http://www.3rtherapies.co.uk/music.htm

It brings me an incredible amount of joy to hear her sing, see her smile and bop…but guys, I’m living in a black hole of kid’s music. I didn’t fully realize this until this past week. I found an artist that I love. Someone I hadn’t listened to before, and whose songs are not familiar to me. His lyrics are dark and hopeful and human and twisty. Songs about sex and religion and longing and sweetness and desperation. They took root in my soul and inspired me.

It was kind of a revelation: “Oh my god, I love music.”

I realized that most of what I read, watch, and listen to right now all speaks to the “Mom” piece of my identity. I LOVE that piece of my identity. It’s awesome and bright and strong – but it’s not the whole thing. I actually lived a bunch of years before having a kid and those years were filled with really compelling music and poetry and books and movies.

It got me thinking about making space for the other stuff, and how I should go about doing that. It’s important for me to be as whole a person as I can be, and I think feeding the creative soul is a piece of that.

Lately I’ve been reading a few articles about people who are at war with the term “Mommy”. I agree that it’s jarring to be so completely categorized all the time – but on the other hand, being a mom is a huge deal that’s awesome and takes over your life. I don’t mind it at all. I’m such a mom. All that, in my opinion, is great as long as you nurture the whole person – it’s not an either or as far as I can tell.

I’m going to try (try is all I can do) to make the time to put on headphones and read books that feature story elements other than the alphabet and puppies – at least sometimes.

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Triple Toe Loop of Passion

This Valentine’s Day I want to talk about love. Russian love. The kind that glides and twizzles and poses.  I want to talk about the most mysterious, fringed couple I’ve observed in pop culture in a long, long time: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.

volsozhar_trankov2_psga6iw5_qrld5w6mWhat are you LOOKING at, Maxim, you graceful devil?

I haven’t caught much Olympic coverage this time around, but last night I was able to catch up on the pairs figure skating finals and NBC did a profile of these two snow bunnies. Before you go to IMDB, Tatiana did not star on The Office as Angela Martin, and incredibly, they aren’t even related.

Here are just a few things I learned between viewing the profile, and doing a little background research:

– She is from Kiev

-He moved to St. Petersburg at 15 and lived in an ice rink because he didn’t have anywhere else to go

-They have a dog together

-He categorizes their relationship as “romantic” AND “platonic”

-They spend all their free time together

And, come on.

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There’s something fascinating about the whole pairs figure skating dynamic. There’s so much intimacy and sensuality involved in a lot of the routines, but it’s not like they’re all couples! Some are probably gay. Also, I mean, these guys are brother and sister:

Chris+Reed+ISU+Grand+Prix+Figure+Skating+2013+ajLrRyXpgUulThe Reeds from Japan. Brother and sister. Come on, mom, what were you trying to do here?

I enjoyed watching the Russians’ routine, as nightmarish as it was (Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack and their final pose was, yup, a cross). They have a beautiful, exciting-weird chemistry. You guys, they bought a dog and they are having sex with each other through intense gazes constantly.

Remember how he used to be a homeless 15 year old with ice skates? Now he has a gold medal, a funky ponytail thing, and his best girl to throw in the air.

Oh love, oh costuming choices, oh twizzles!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Faves 2013

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and also BOOOOKS!

Here are some of my favorite things I enjoyed in 2013.

Music:

Volcano Choir, Repave: I was filled with sad when I listened to Volcano Choir’s first album last year because I kind of hated it. I really want to love any project that Justin Vernon is involved with. My expectations for their second release, Repave, were low. But, VOILA! Vernon is back in business with sweeping, gorgeous, heart-wrenching soundscapes. It’s cinematic. It’s enveloping. Listen.

Sarah Jarosz, Build Me Up from Bones: When someone born in the 90’s is this talented and accomplished it is a little obnoxious. But that aside, if you enjoy singer/songwriterly brilliance with a relaxed, bluegrass inspired feeling – pick her up.

Books:

Ocean at the End of the Lane I listened to the audiobook read by Gaiman and it hogged a huge amount of space in my mind for weeks after. I asked for the hardcover for Christmas so I can re-read it over and over again. This sometimes terrifying story uses magic to uncover the most truthful depiction of childhood emotion and memory I’ve ever read. I was dumbstruck.

The Expeditioners: – Pubbed in 2012, this book is middle grade adventure done really well. Beautiful art. Exciting world. Yeah!

Movies:

Catching Fire: Catching Fire was not my favorite of the three books by Suzanne Collins, but holy guac, it’s my favorite movie so far. This particular piece of Katniss’ journey was really enhanced by the movie treatment. I think because it happens less in her mind than the first part of the trilogy – so I didn’t miss the first person intimacy the way I did in the first movie. It was big and flashy, but really well acted and adapted. I can’t even wait for Mockingjay.

A Place Beyond the Pines: What a weird movie! I loved it. One of my friends called this film “Shakespearean” and I kind of get that. I love that it followed a non-linear path and maintained all its humanity. It was also the first movie date that my husband and I had after baby was born, full disclosure.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug: Obviously.

Miscellany:

The Hobbit, Special Features (on the extended edition blu-ray. Yeah, we bought the extended edition even though the movie was seven hours long. That’s the kind of household we are.):

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PETER JACKSON IS A GENIUS AND ALL THOSE KIWIS SOUND SO COOL AND OMG. Seriously though, the creative process that went into the creation of this film is a fascinating study. Artists would routinely spend days creating a costume, or an animation, and then it would be used just for inspiration, or thrown out all together. But they didn’t care, because the only thing that mattered was making the best possible movie. It made me think about the precious, silly way I can be about my words and paragraphs. Going to try to take lessons from the amazing folks at WETA in 2014.

But this year, one release exceeded all expectations. At once gorgeous, hilarious, brilliant, and SQUISHY – the best of the best of 2013 is:

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 1.38.54 PM

Emmeline the incredible! Honestly, I’m so grateful for this little bean. She made 2013 a year I will never ever ever forget.

Happy New Year!!

Haircut: I am not a sexy space bandit from the future.

Who Wears Short Shorts?

Not me.

Anyway, I’m thinking about cutting my hair. When I was pregnant I got the luxurious lioness’ mane because, you know, hormones and crap. It’s nice. But then I gave birth to baby and those hormones stopped hormoning.

The result? Lots of my hair is falling out. Even though I was forewarned about this, it continues to shock me. I mean, it’s dramatic.

The fact that I haven’t had a haircut since 2011* helps not at all. I’m a grown woman, for goodness sake. On a good day I look like a happy earth mama from the early 70’s.  On a bad day, the aunt with a severe expression in a family portrait taken in the 1800’s.

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Lots of articles I’m reading suggest that new moms whose hair is falling out get a cute, short haircut. To this I respond, “help.” When Googling “cute, short haircuts” I come up with this kind of business over and over again:

michelle-williams_glamour_10apr13_rexfeatures_b_592x888

Just FYI, I’m neither super thin, nor coy, nor a person who has time to put on makeup most days. Also, I’ve literally never robbed a bank in the future.

So, I’m freaking out. I need this business off my head, but it feels like an emotional decision, which is nuts. As my hair grows I get to feel like Linus with his security blanket. Even though I know it looks terrible, it’s easy to hide behind. I think we equate long hair with femininity and it becomes an identity issue.

But it’s bravery time. My shower drain can’t take much more abuse and I read about “hair tourniquets” which is apparently a thing where your hair can wrap tightly around baby’s arm and cause a lot of discomfort and pain so YEAH I GET IT HAIRCUT TIME.

Ugh.

Why are all the cool people getting dystopian pixie cuts? Any alternate looks to  Sexy Space Bandit you want to recommend?

*A note: I wrote “2011”  as ha ha hyperbole and then realized that it is actutally true. So, things are dire.

Flow: Improv, Laundry, Writing and Ditching the R.O.U.S

According to the uncompromising accuracy of Wikipedia, the psychological definition of “Flow” is:

The mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

Doesn’t that sound like the best? Ugh, I want to eat that for lunch.

I mean, I’ve felt it before, I think most people have. The times that come to mind have to do with writing, improv, washing the bathroom, folding clothes, and drawing Ariel from The Little Mermaid over and over again in my room growing up.

Writers spend lifetimes trying to create the perfect atmospheric soil for flow to grow and thrive. We have routines, special pens, a white noise machine, maybe some coffee…whatever it takes to coax her out of her shell.

In improv, flow is everything. It’s hard to talk about this without sounding a wee bit new agey, but it’s important. If an improviser is lucky he or she has moments on stage when brain, body, voice, and team come together to create something magical without effort – that’s got to be flow.

For me it feels like a buzzing, taut energy that is off the charts wild, but still laser focused. There are three key factors that are always there when I’ve experienced this incredible feeling: Trust, Risk, and Action.

First though, the obvious: To feel dumb is easy. For me, it’s pretty much a total cake walk. But anyone who’s ever read an inspirational quote-a-day calendar knows that self doubt achieves nothing. It is a staid, boring, lethargic force.

JANUARY 4th

Self doubt is dreaming of making a delicious meal, but first you just have to bury all your pots and pans in the backyard real quick.

I’m drawn to improv because there’s no TIME for that bull. You are on stage with people you enjoy and by doing so you have entered into a sacred agreement with your team to be kind, supportive, and to lift each other up. What results, when done right, is great art. What results when the sacred agreement is undermined? The worst crap you’ve ever seen.  Just really bad, gotta wash it off in a hot shower yuckiness. I’ve been lucky to have great teams.

Writing is harder because you’re on your own. No team. No applause. One woman show. But, I’m positing that it can be done and these are NOTES TO MYSELF.

 

TRUST: Yourself. Don’t delete that thing just keep writing. Get there.

 

RISK: You aren’t working in an ER. No one dies if your idea isn’t perfect. Great things may lie beyond your imperfect idea, but you have to go through them like the Fire Swamps to get to the other side. Don’t deny your maybe-brilliant idea just because you are afraid you’re going to get eaten by an R.O.U.S.

 

ACTION: Literally, write words. A bunch of them. All strung together.

rous

 

Another technique: clean my damn bathroom.

Probably just going to sketch Ariel again.

The Voice of Thrones…or Game of The Voice. Whatever.

Yeah. This is happening.

This summer I’ve been following two shows closely. They are miles apart in terms of genre, style, quality…pretty much everything. But I’m going to go ahead and draw connections anyway. Presenting:

The Voice/Game of Thrones CHARACTER COUNTERPARTS.

BLAKECOACH: Blake Shelton

Robert-Baratheon-game-of-thrones-20187351-1280-720King Robert Baratheon

I love watching Blake relax into his perpetual state of happy-drunk as he gives loving guidance and praise to his team. Much like the good King Robert, though, he could use to stiffen up and pay attention sometime. Just because you won the throne (or you know, the vocal competition) last year DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE SAFE.

Adam+Levine+2011+Logie+Awards+Arrivals+QHjsS-Os5ADxCOACH: Adam Levine

renlybaratheon Renly Baratheon

I don’t think it requires a whole lot of imagination to envision Adam having someone make a super fancy crown for him. The mild arrogance, style obsession, and (perhaps misguided) confidence links these two dandy fellows. Also, there’s a sibling rivalry between Adam and Blake that’s similar but just a little more jovial of that between Robert and Renly.

MTV Video Music AwardsCOACH: Shakira

DANIDaenerys Targaryen

DUH. Right? I mean, duh. They even dress the same. I don’t think Khaleesi’s hips lie either, sooo…

usher_black_tshirt_silver_chaCOACH: Usher

aqen_H'gharJaqen H’ghar

Usher is a man of few words, like our faceless friend. He just kind of gets the job done. Usher kills it on stage and Jaqen H’ghar kills people like it’s his job. ‘Cause I think it is. Both of them are super cool.

THE CONTESTANTS

sasha-allenSEMI-FINALIST: Sasha Allen

stark-sansa-1x04-01_FULLSansa Stark

Both super beauties a little lacking in the personality department – a coincidence? I dunno.

Michelle+Chamuel+u6hl1gcd6t4mSEMI-FINALIST: Michelle Chamuel

Arya-arya-stark-31112801-500-650Arya Stark

You didn’t see either one of these firecrackers coming. Arya has turned into (in my opinion) the most interesting character on GoT, and Michelle is way way waaaayyy more interesting than anyone else on The Voice. Both are initially awkward fits to their given circumstances, rising up and kicking so much ass.

Amber-Carrington-Im-Gonna-Love-You-Through-It-The-Voice-4-622x349SEMI-FINALIST: Amber Carrington

Jorah-Mormont-house-targaryen-29560158-800-450Jorah Mormont
Okay, this one might be a stretch, but hear me out. Jorah does a great job. I haven’t read the books, but so far he seems like a good guy (though you never know with this ridiculous show). He’s served Khaleesi well and is so obviously in love with her. He’s got all the skills. But guess what? I don’t think he’s going to win. It’s just not in the cards. That’s how I feel about Amber. She’s great! But I’d bet my hat, my big dumb hat, that she’s going home tonight.

danielleliveplayoffsSEMI-FINALIST: Danielle Bradbury

Margaery-TyrellMargaery Tyrell

I think both of these smart chicks are playing a perfect role. Danielle is the lovable, cute, talented Texan lass who is fresh as a daisy and can’t help how naturally gifted she is. She just popped out of the womb with a Crest white smile and baby doe eyes. Margaery’s got King Joffrey wrapped around her little finger, playing coy and silly when it’s right, and making smart, canny moves when no one is looking. I think she could win this whole game. OF THRONES. Ditto for D. Bradbury.

And you’re like, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SWON BROTHERS?? That’s what you’re like when you’re reading this. I know. Well, I thought long and hard. I thought about maybe Jaime and Ceresi Lannister. Or maybe the brothers of the Night’s Watch. But no.

NUP_152770_0221_620x350SEMI-FINALIST: The Swon Brothers

C_Merry_02Merry and Pippin

Because some people don’t belong in Westeros. Some people belong in the Shire. I think the Swon Brothers would have a really good run at The Prancing Pony.

The Ledge of Despair and Exultation: I love YA

In 1999 I was a senior in high school and MTV published Stephen Chbosky’s YA novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I just loved it. Like, loved it till I hurt. Last year I went to see the movie adaptation and despite my ridiculously high expectations, I left happily heartsick. That’s why on my commute yesterday morning I found myself getting emotionally invested in a song that came on the radio. It was “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons – the same song that played over almost all the previews for the film. Weird, right? But let me break it down.

When you’re in high school, there’s are a bunch of things in play, but here are the major two that come to mind:

  1. Heart health. If you’re getting your heart broken, it’s probably the first time. Know what’s terrifying about that? When it’s the first time you get your heart broken, you have no frame of reference. You have no real life experience that let’s you know that it gets better. The second time, the third time, you can reference back and know that healing happens, but that first time, holy crap.
  1. The pressure of limitlessness. If your family has cleared a bit of a path for you, now it’s up to you. This is not a time in life in which you settle out of fear. You reach or you run. When you are knocked down a peg, you feel like you are falling off of a mountain. When you are validated, you feel like maybe, just maybe you can do anything in the world.

So, back to the song. There’s something there that crystallized a realization about YA for me. It’s the chorus. The way the lyrics kind of rush over each other like a current, like the singer can almost not keep up with the ideas. Like he’s straining and  running to convey this kind of abstract sentiment.

It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit
I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am

It’s proud and kind of dumb, and sincere and urgent. This is why I’m drawn to these stories and driven to create them. When else in life is drama so naturally ingrained into life? And it’s not bull – those feelings are legitimate.

Being a teenager is, if you’ll pardon the timely parallel, filled with all kinds of green lights across the water. Just like Gatsby idealization of his love, and keeping her right out of his reach, teenagers idealize a future filled with possibilities. Close enough to throw a rock at, but impossible because it’s not here yet.

When I was in high school and imagined a life in New York, I filled in the concrete blanks with delicious abstractions. I filled in the spaces with gorgeous, gritty, daring things I mentally pasted together from movies or books or TV. It was and wasn’t reality.  In my twenties, when I moved there, there was a reckoning to be had. I’d stand in the same spot that I’d envisioned, and be uncomfortably cold because I wore the wrong coat. And I was pissed off at myself because I blew eight dollars on a drink, and I didn’t have that kind of money. And the people I was with weren’t auto-bffs fighting the good fight with me, they were just other lonely people. The cigarettes on the sidewalk didn’t look like art, they looked gross. I missed my parents.

But that stuff is for the twenties. Given a take it or leave it option, I will leave those twenties. No thank you.

Your teenage years are for green lights, and life-or-death-in-love situations. For me, that’s really the good stuff. It’s emotionally pure and unfettered by rent or a disappointing job hunt that leaves you feeling desperate and …well, disappointed. I just love those stories.

Spring Things.

On Saturday, my mom insisted that I get a manicure with her because she loves me and my nails look like crap. Mostly because she loves me, but you shouldn’t underestimate how bad I allow my nails to look.

I relaxed and chatted while the manicurist painted my nails bright pink. The shade was “watermelon” to be specific. I’m not a bright pink kind of girl, but it just felt like a watermelon kind of day.

Driving home, the sun was extra sunshine-y and I turned on the radio.  Pop music isn’t usually my thing. I’ve been living in an evening-colored Bon Iver soundscape for a year or so, and I do like it there. But on Saturday, a Timberlake-Rhianna-Bruno Mars combo made me feel awesome. I took the long route home, all along the beach, windows down. The water looked really blue. Like, a very un-Massachusetts shade of blue. A non-cynical, non-grayish, unapologetically blue-blue.

On relating this all to my husband he looked at me sideways and said, “Where’s my wife?”

Here!

It’s been a “holy crap” year. An amazing year, but in a heavy duty way. You know, giving birth and all that. Now Miss Petti is getting a little older, a little laugh-ier, and spring is coming. *

I’m geared up to make time to start jogging, to make time to start reading and writing. It’s time to set goals and feel new.

These have been good days to take long breathes of almost-warm air and feel thankful for a lot of things. Things like baby girls, Justin Timberlake and blue-blue water.

 

*I didn’t make a Game of Thrones joke, guys. I didn’t do it.

The Walking, Talking, Dorky Dead

I’ve been following The Walking Dead since it came on the air, and at first we had a hate/love/hate/hate relationship.  I watched in disgust, squinting through my fingers, as Rick dodged gurgling flesh monsters, and everyone learned how to stab corpses in the eye sockets. It was just too gross. There’s really no better word for it. Gross. The episode would end and I’d physically feel like I just chugged a glass of expired soy milk.

But the next day, or maybe a few days later, I’d be sitting at my desk when the urge would strike me – “I have to see the next episode.”  Inexplicable, but undeniable.

Years later, here we are. I’m still hooked. I’ve definitely become desensitized to the blood, the rotten flesh, and even Carl’s insistence upon wearing a hat that is WAY TOO BIG FOR HIS BABY HEAD.

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The baby head is bigger this season, but still not big enough. Maybe next year, baby head.

Recently though, my viewing has been augmented by the bite-size geek treat that follows The Talking Dead. This show is hosted by Chris Hardwick, who has come a long long way from Singled Out (I am old).

This show has got me thinking about the way people enjoy things. The program is born out of the fact that there are so many people for which The Walking Dead is a pop cultural obsession. I love watching Chris, the guests, and callers dissect the characters’ intentions and puzzle over the twists and turns that may be on the way.  The very best thing is the sincerity of enthusiasm. These guys are 110% into it! There is a crazy amount of joy that has been brought to bear because of a hopeless fictional world in which everything, literally everything, is the absolute worst.

What is going to happen to Andrea?! What’s the deal with Milton?! Who do you think gets to kill The Governor, and why?!  

I like a lot of things that people love, but I love to observe a group of people enjoying something so hard. I think I used to feel like that about Ann Rice books when I was a lot younger, but that was before the internet could connect fanatics with such ease. I love Lord of the Rings, but my devotion pales in comparison to that of my husband who is never not scheduling a time for us to watch The Hobbit again (I hope he doesn’t resent our 5 week old daughter for interrupting the 3 hour long movie so much).

I’ll preface this next bit by saying I have no idea what I’m talking about really, but…here’s my hypothesis: It seems like there is a correlation between video games and comics. Also, it seems that there is a correlation between comics and fanaticism. Therefore, perhaps my lack of hand-eye coordination and resulting resentment of Super Mario Brothers has precluded me from a life of pop culture devotion and the resulting kind of joy.

Either way, I’m grateful that The Talking Dead allows me to be a tourist in that world. And I’m grateful that they cast the guy from The Wire as Tyrese. He’s awesome.