Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Mix Tapes: It's Now or Never

"I feel different today. I don't know what else to say."

I listened to this song on the train this morning. And then I listened to it again. And then I listened to it one more time.

Once, someone taught me how to hear the poetry in hip hop. I was mad that I hadn't heard it for myself. But now I'm only mad that I was too scared just to listen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Never Over, R.E.M. (And I Feel Fine!)

Somewhere, my 12-year-old self is weeping. Michael Stipe and friends have announced that the party is over.

R.E.M. is breaking up.

From the band's site:
"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." R.E.M.
They've been making music for 31 years together. 31! I haven't even been alive that long. I'm not really sad. What's there to be sad about, anyway? I think it was probably time. And obviously, I know best.

But seriously, you might recall my love for R.E.M. Oh, what? You haven't read the entire archive of this blog? Shame on you! Yeah. I loved—love— R.E.M. Read about that right here.

So, seeing as how I've already said too much, and I haven't said enough, let's listen to some R.E.M.!

Perhaps, at their most beautiful?

And where would I be without the Automatic for the People album?


 "I want you to remember..."

Okay, let's all put on some flannel, some Doc Martens, listen to "Strange Currencies", and talk about our feelings!

"I'd be foolish not to say":

Don't worry,  R.E.M.; it's never gonna be over between us. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Morning Walk

I turned my heel walking to work this morning. I'm wearing these new boots, and they don't even have a high heel—just a slight one. But they're slightly loose around the ankle, and as I was walking too fast, my heel turned, and I lost my balance.

I didn't fall; I wasn't hurt; no one saw. Still, my face flushed with embarrassment and my heart sank a little bit. It's so ridiculous. It wasn't a big deal at all.

But to me, it just felt like another small example of how I fail at all these simple things so many other adults seem to intuitively grasp. You know, like walking. Why am I so hard on myself? I regained my balance, took a deep, slightly shaky breath, and grabbed the railing as I walked up the stairs.

The season is changing, and the air has that crisp, cool feel once again. It's my favorite time of year, but it also makes me feel homesick as well. Not even homesick, exactly, but more like longing for something lost, a place that no longer really exists.

This morning, before I turned my heel, and before I let my confidence shatter over something so small and so silly, I sat on the train next to this woman reading The New York Times. She held the paper, and even her head, exactly the way my mother did when she read the paper at the kitchen table. I had my New Yorker out to read, but I just let it sit on my lap, strangely contented by this complete stranger who looked nothing like my mother, but read the paper in the exact same way.

I felt a little sad as I got off at Clark and Lake and started walking to the office. There's a small part of me that keeps telling myself, "Someday, you won't miss her so much," but there's another part that holds on to the feeling, tight, because it's all I have of her now. I clutched my phone in my hands and wished away the desperate part of me that so badly wanted to call my mother, and that's when, lost in my thoughts, I turned my heel and almost fell down.

I know I won't stop missing her. It's constant, and expected, like the inevitable turn of the season. Today, I guess, it's just like that crisp, cool feel of the beginnings of fall—you feel a chill that you haven't in some time, but it's not entirely unpleasant. And just as I start to feel like I'm a little too cold, I turn the corner, the sun hits my face, and I'm warm again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Farewell, Old Friend: My Tribute to Borders

The last two Fridays, I’ve attempted to go to Borders. Both times, I’ve walked in, walked in one, big circle, and walked right out. Each time, as I’ve stepped out the door and back onto State Street, I’ve felt vaguely guilty, like I’ve shoplifted without getting caught. (I’ve also gone to the Jamba Juice next door both times, but that’s probably irrelevant.)

Borders is closing
. Large signs are everywhere:

“EVERYTHING MUST GO!” “80% Off Mysteries!” “90% Off Science Fiction!” “ENTIRE STORE UP TO 90% OFF”

At the Chicago State Street Borders, the one I’ve attempted to visit the last two Fridays, the checkout line weaved all the way to the back of the store on the first floor. Where I once navigated the tables stacked with new fiction, bestsellers, and my personal favorite, the one piled with books marked, “buy one, get the second half off,” I now was mumbling “excuse me’” and navigating around bored-looking customers clutching handfuls of books.

It was too hot in there. All the beautiful books, once in orderly, organized sections, were now in chaos. There was Manga in the African American section! MANGA! Things weren’t alphabetized! SAT guide books were in the mystery section!

I couldn’t even bear to see what was happening in the poetry section.

90% off? I’m a sucker for a book on sale, but forgetaboutit.

The thing is, I’m devastated. Bookstores (and Borders in particular, and in particular this Borders) have always been my “happy” place. Let me put it this way: You know when you see those little kids trailing behind their mom at the mall, dragging their feet and looking like someone just killed their puppy, and then all of a sudden she exclaims, “We’re going to the TOY STORE next!” and BAM! They have now just won a golden fucking ticket! They are the chosen ones! They’re going to see Willy Wonka!

Yeah. I was not one of those kids. My “toy store” was … the bookstore. It didn’t matter how long mom had made us follow her around the borrrrrrring department stores all afternoon. Nothing mattered, because we had now stepped into the happy place. The bookstore. Mom would leave me alone while I perused the magical worlds of Roald Dahl, or sometimes Sweet Valley, or the Green Gables, wherever. Usually, she’d return with her own stack of books in her hand, and if there was ever a perfect time to con her into buying something, it’d be talking her into letting me get one more book than she had originally said.

I’d take the books out of the bag immediately once we got to the car. Nothing, and I mean nothing, felt more glorious than holding a new book in my hands.

This is probably the part where you call me out on being a huge geek. That’s fine. I am a huge geek.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

No One Can Get to You Here

Hey Rainbow Groupies! It's a beautiful, sunny Sunday in Chi city, and seeing as how it's Labor Day weekend, and Obama's talking to us about jobs (or the lack thereof), I thought it was a good time to take another blast from the past.

I wrote this essay a little more than a year ago, right after moving back home to my dad's house. Nothing will kill a lady's self-esteem (and bank account) like not being able to find a job, and at the time when I wrote this, I was feeling pretty damn defeated. But at the same time, I was still clutching the last strings of hope. Barely, just barely. I also laid awake at night in my childhood bedroom, heart racing, worrying that I'd still be there when I was 40.

Maybe I'm still struggling to really be a "grownup," but I made it back to Chicago, and drove a new car here. I felt like total, complete shit when I got rejected from that job (and countless others). But the thing is, if I had gotten that job, I'd never have made it back to Chicago. Who knows what might have happened?

It's tough out there. But if I can do it, YOU can do it. uggh, that was cheesy, but whatever. I meant it from the bottom of my little heart.

So! Read this essay! (After the jump.)