Sunday, March 20, 2011

sxsw 2011 and why my grandma is awesome sauce

Uh yeah. I haven't blogged in months. This isn't because I haven't been writing. I've got several standing documents on my computer where I chronicle my thoughts in blog-fashion. But when I come to blog online I come because I'm sharing information I think would be useful/enjoyable to other people. I guess this means I've had nothing useful/enjoyable to share since January. Until now.
SXSWSXSWSXSW! South by Southwest, or South by, or SX always takes over my life. Every March, on some mid-month Wednesday to Saturday time block I board public transport and head downtown like some kind of music zombie. This year was no different. Here's what tickled my tickler.

Darwin Deez from NYC:
Do you like Pavement? Ben Folds? The Incredible Moses Leroy? You'll like this band. I did. Here's a piece-

Bodega Girls from Boston:
Do you like to dance? Do you like to jam some LCD Soundsystem or Prince when you're feeling funky? Maybe some Black Keys? Here's a piece of one of the best live shows I saw (no live element in the video...just music)-

Okay. That's all I've got for now. I saw dozens of bands, but I want to move on to more important matters. Why my grandma is awesome sauce:

If you know me really, really well you know I adore my Grandma Weiner. She and my Grandpa moved to STL when I was little and my dad was sick. She proved to be an inspirational figure for me very early on. She's one of those adults that treated me with respect from day one. She's also the hippest lady over 70 that you'll ever meet. She regularly watches The Daily Show and MSNBC. She will proudly talk about her socialist father. Her hero is Margaret Sanger. When I was a pre-teen and playing Duke Nukem and Heretic on my computer so was she. Before her hands started shaking too bad she used to be president of the local "older residents" computer club in her neighborhood (over 50 members!). She made a dvd for me of photos when I graduated college set to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." She never went to college but has done more to independently further her education than anyone I have ever known. She is funny and friendly and brilliant. When I'm feeling any of these traits I feel certain that they are stemming from her influence. So a few days ago I emailed her this sentiment. Let her know that I'm happy, that I have more good people in my life right now than I could have ever hoped for, and that I think much of my success has come from her mentoring. This is her response:

That is probably the loveliest thing ANYONE has ever said to me. I'm going to save it close to me (possibly in my bra) forever.
You were so easy to converse with even as a toddler. I can't wait to see you. I wish you lived in my pocket!

Seriously, right? Awesome. Sauce.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

what's mine

See the left half of that little pink house? That's mine. Well sort of. I pay rent to live in it. Being an adult seems to be a lot about owning things...or sort of owning them. It's those "sort of" situations that make me feel like I'll never really feel grown-up. I have a car "sort of." I mean it's mine, but it was my parents first and they gave it to me (it's a 99 ford escort, i'm spoiled, but not THAT much). I have a masters degree "sort of." I mean it's mine, but I'm still paying off the loans and I'm pretty sure if you don't pay they take those things back. Right? Right?! Why else would anybody pay them?!

My job is mine. That's one thing I feel pretty proud about. For years, pretty much from 2004 on, I've felt like I've been perpetually searching for something salaried, with benefits, that I liked doing. And I have it now. It's fantastic. As stressful as it can be sometimes (thank you 11-hour work day yesterday), I am so grateful for it. So it's hard not to define myself by it. If I took it away, tried to wipe it from my head for a minute, and think how I would identify myself it begins to get tricky. This is being an adult. People always seem to take what they do as an adjective about who they are. When you're 13 it's all about what you like. At 13, if some other 13 year old asked me to describe myself (probably in a chatroom), I would have said, "I like R.E.M., thrift store clothes, thinking I'm funny, talking on the phone, and trying to keep things from my parents. Oh and pretending I'm older than 13 whenever possible."

So now these type of things have been replaced by "hobbies." Because for adults owning things also now means owning things about themselves and what they're passionate about. And you have to decide those things in a way that sometimes feels similar to deciding to like R.E.M.

I always feel like I'm scrambling for hobbies. Because of this I've learned how to knit, to cook, to rock climb, and to exercise. There are a lot of young adults I know that do social sports like kick ball or take yoga. I wonder if any of this really works for them, because I feel like it only "sort of" works for me. I do the things, I like them, but I don't feel like I can own them. I never became a knitter or a rock climber; I learned how to do those things and thought, "okay, what next?"

From age 4-17 I took dance classes and loved them. Once a week I would put on tap shoes and/or ballet shoes and think, "I like dance. It is a thing I like to do. It is part of me." I've thought about taking dance classes again, sad adult dance classes with other people trying to find a hobby, but I feel like I'd only be trying to recapture that certainty that I had when I was younger.

I'm pretty sure everybody *needs* to have something that they can latch on to when they try to adjectivize (deal with it) themselves. It makes me think of those acrostic poems everybody wrote with their names when they were kids. What would mine be now?

R- sort of rock climber
A- sort of artistic
C- sort of cook
H- sort of hot (couldn't resist that)
E- sort of educated
L- sort of literate

I guess maybe it's about just hopping that sort-of hurdle and totally owning things whether you really 100% do or not. I'm 60% sure of that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I'm sitting in my yard right now on a folding chair with my feet up on another folding chair. It's December and it's 63 degrees. I'm right next to a little stand up fire pit that I used for a fire with friends on Friday night. The neighbor's cat has crossed into my half of the yard and is under my tree sunning herself. My wifi works out in the yard so I can write this blog right now. I'm listening to Polyphonic Spree. Things are good.

I moved just over two weeks ago. Today has officially busted into the beginning of my third week. It's a little unreal. I have to keep reminding myself that I get to stay here as long as I want. This 63 degree day has me thinking of summer time, having people over to play croquet (oh, i'm getting croquet) in my backyard. Or on July days, when I'm feeling lazy, just stretching out on a towel with some sangria. I feel incredibly lucky to have found this little perfect house in this little perfect neighborhood. It was all so serendipitous. I went to lunch at this vegetarian restaurant on a work day and parked right in front of the house. I opened my car door and saw the For Lease sign. It was magical. And now, only weeks later, I get to sit here.

(I'm facing the house right now. Thats the chair for my feet.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

what it means to be an adult---austin style

Two thoughts for today:

1)In your 20s you can live in an apartment with amenities that are likely to be nicer than you'll be able to afford in your 40s. University of Texas has over 50,000 students. These students need places to live. This makes competition fierce among apartment complexes. It is not unusual to walk into a duplex/apartment and see stainless steel appliances, marble countertops, and wood floors. It's a little humbling to know that your switch from "poor" twenty-something apartment dwelling to home ownership is likely to be a huge downgrade.

2)I've realized recently that my conversations now aren't that different than my teen years. Just replace the topic of boys with the topic of food.
I think Tom is great and it seems like he likes me. He's always around and trying to make me feel really good, but Rick is cuter.
I think breakfast tacos are great and it seems like they really like me. They're always around and trying to make me feel really good, but cereal is healthier.
I talk about food every day at least half a dozen times. And these aren't just "I'm hungry" conversations, these are lengthy, emotional discussions about things that are tasty and why.

Monday, November 1, 2010

remembering my spirit

So the title of this comes from something Oprah said a few years ago and now, more than remembering anything else about Oprah episodes I watched, I remember the "spirit journal" and the fact that Oprah urged everyone to take time to "remember" their "spirit." And, like many things on that show, I thought the presentation was cheezy but the general-well-"spirit" behind it was worthwhile.

Its a weird feeling when you forget your spirit. And I'm not being facetious (I had to look that up for the 50th time. I never trust I'm using that word right). I really can identify times that I've lost touch with who I am and what I want. Its those nights where you go home and you're like, "wait. what was THAT?" or something comes out of your mouth that you felt was true when you were saying it but as soon as you're done feels totally wrong.

Maybe most people let this stuff go, but I can't. I'm aggressive about authenticity. I want to make sure at any moment I'm being exactly who I want to be. And maybe, to a greater extent, who I'm perceived to be. This is energy that is well-spent when you're writing a paper, exhausting when you're trying to have a friendship. Sometimes I get off the phone/get out of an email/leave a conversation and think "Aah! What was that? I have to call/write/tell them that's not what I meant! They're going to think that's who I am and it's not!"

So back to the spirit. So when I do connect with someone on a level that feels spiritual and I think I'm being understood I feel like that is happening because I am being authentic and they are being authentic. This is a tricky area, because it sets me up for this deep sense of betrayal when I find out this isn't the case or, to a lesser extent, if I hit a point where suddenly it becomes clear that the connection isn't cosmic but instead based on my projection. I wanted the feeling of absolute belonging with this person so much that I invented it.

You know what I would hate if I were you reading this right now? I'd be like, "GAH! Why doesn't she just tell me who/what she's talking about?!" Okay. So I'm not talking about anything or anyone in particular. I'm talking about this general feeling I've been having. That I'm missing the forest for the trees. I've become addicted to this spiritual connection I'm talking about and it's ultimately leaving me lonely. For example, I'll meet people and discover they used to watch "Murder, She Wrote" too when they were little, I'm like "OMG! Me too!" and suddenly I'm picturing us having 17,000 things in common. We all like Eight O'Clock coffee, love wearing scarves, and hate laundromats. He/she wanted to be an art teacher when he/she was eight. We enjoy dark beer and can't stand those Real Housewives shows. So, when my new spiritual twin reveals that he/she in fact loves Real Housewives I want to start to cry. Because I feel like this ruins everything. If we were *really* connecting spiritually he/she would have followed this narrative I put together.

Interestingly enough, when I become obsessed with this diversion I feel like I'm totally forgetting *my* spirit. I'm focusing on the mundane and not trusting a connection and appreciating it for just that. Yes, we both felt moved by The Lorax, but you can think Quentin Tarantino is a genius and I can disagree and we can still have The Lorax. And that's amazing in itself because that is a rad book. Because there are lines in there that meant something to me that also meant something to that person. And having that is an awesome thing. And finding someone that cares about what you care about, even if its only a couple things, is what life is about. Thats what having a spirit is about in the first place, right? Not every friendship has to be about twinship. If I spend a lot of energy projecting myself I won't ever really know someone and furthermore they won't feel comfortable letting me really know them. I have to leave room for them getting me to care about what they care about and being open to that. I can't merge my spirit or make theirs less or reduce/enlarge them into something that they're not for my own needs. It assumes that people are only what they like and the best thing about many of my friends isn't that we like all the same things, but that we like each other and we care enough to want what they want for them. And to abruptly stop and quote The Lorax:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Austin City Limits 2010

Normally I would talk about the three days of the festival and the amazing bands I saw there (p.s. check out GIVERS as my top up and coming band pick) and talk about how fantastic Muse, LCD Soundsystem, Pete Yorn, Flaming Lips, Foals, etc. were and how rad it was to be there for free as a volunteer.
But instead I want to talk about what today was like after three days straight of ten hour outdoor days. My coworkers were both amused by my red sunburned nose and confused by my stamina. They all assured me they were too old for a three day festival. And for the first time in my 5 straight years of 3-day or more festivals (Lollapalooza, ACL, SXSW, etc), I thought maybe I was too. On Saturday night during Muse I noticed that somewhere during the day I hadn't only gotten a sunburn but a throat ache too. On Sunday I packed DayQuil and Kleenex in my bag with me just in case. I found myself that night, during The National, just feeling sleepy. It was 8 o'clock.
Today I went to work with sore legs and a deep concern that I might soon "age out" of festivals. I find myself more ornery at the teenagers I see at these things. On Sunday, while waiting for Yeasayer to start, one of them spilled water all the way down my back. I shoved him in a rare display of pure aggression. He said, "my friend made me do it!" Nice, bro. Nice.
That said, I still LOVE L.O.V.E. music festivals. I'm sure that as long as I physically can I will continue to go. It's like a little utopian city where high fives are free and it's acceptable to wander barefoot with a beer at 1 in the afternoon. A place where you can just stumble between genres, from Broken Bells to The xx to Monsters of Folk, without walking even a half mile. I want to live there. I just want all the kids to leave and for there to be nap villas. Make it happen, science.

Friday, September 3, 2010

coaching in luxury

I need help. Someone has to show me how to spoil myself. Seriously. I have this painfully midwestern sense of farm wife practicality. Observe.

Things I have never done:

1) gotten a manicure
2) gotten a pedicure
3) gotten a massage
4) gotten a facial/spa treatment of any kind
5) had my hair professionally dyed or highlighted
6) had anything professionally waxed
7) ordered lobster or duck or steak in a restaurant
8) owned a car less than five years old (my current is over 10)
9) paid for a music festival (i always volunteer so i can go for free)
10) bought anything I couldn't pay for all at once

Yes. This may be fiscally responsible. I imagine my parents would read this and feel proud that they had raised such a practical daughter. I have savings. I shop carefully and consciously. It's all very reasonable. And boring.
Lately, I've been thinking about how I'm getting older and this window for frivolousness is closing. There is a certain class of things that you can discount as foolishness that comes with your "twenties." It's not uncommon to hear older people say, "oh yeah when I was in my twenties..." as if that was the time when anything was excusable. I'm not saying I haven't done my share of careless things, but I am saying I haven't done enough. And I need help. Soon.