Thursday, June 24, 2010

- Gooberific

I'm a bit behind in writing about this, but Trevor - the baby of the family and as I like to call him, "Poopie" - graduated on June 12th. And with that one moment behind us - all of the kids are grown up. Well, sort of...in our own way.

I mean I've graduated 2 times since highschool and I've yet to hit a stage where I feel like an adult. I'm probably about 98% financially independent and take care of most of my bills. In general I feel like I'm mature and act responsibility. I am a "mom" to Emma. I take care of her and pay exorbitant amounts of money towards her well being. Which I can usually afford thanks to babysitting. Which also shows how responsible I am. People don't keep calling you for 6 years if you're doing something wrong or they don't feel safe leaving their kids with you.

But when my brothers and I are all in the same place - all of that adultness I might have amassed goes right out the window. Aside from being a "fecally focused farting family of five" on my last trip home for Trevor's graduation he tickled me to the point of losing my breath and we wrestled around on the floor plus threw in some good gut wrenches for the fun of it. These were not isolated events, but instead the norm for how we usually act around each other. And Aaron is best described by "gooberific" as the gooberishly silly things that only he can say will keep me laughing all day.

So my point is, at 27, 24, and 18 we are clearly not grown ups. But, our childhood is firmly behind us - which is probably a good thing. Things were rocky for Aaron and I, and for Trevor and Aaron growing up. Trevor and I had it the easiest probably because we were so far apart in age. But now we've settled into something great with the three of us that stems from finally truly enjoying each other's company. Or being silly in each other's company. Which makes me wonder, when we finally do "grow up", whatever that means, does it mean that we will lose this vibe that we have and that I love? Or will we always get along like this, along with our future wives and husband and kids? I hope it only gets better, because I really do love the time I spend with my fellow goobers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

- Going to California

Well I'm not going to California, because I've already been and come back. But for some reason every time I think about that trip I sing that little snippet of a Led Zeppelin song in my head about how I'm "going to California with that achin' in my heart".

Sidenote: I once had this awesome Led Zeppelin tee shirt that I wore with bell bottom jeans and platform wedge sandals - plus this vintage belt with a wooden buckle. That was clearly during my senior year when Dazed and Confused changed my life. Sometimes it is so obvious that I was born in the wrong decade.

Anyways, I wasn't really going to California with an achin' in my heart - but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a bit of trepidation about finally making my way to UC Davis. See, this whole "grad school" thing kind of fell in my lap. I never thought I was going to be a "grad student". Or get a Master's degree, much less a Ph.D. My senior year of undergrad I basically decided to stay on for a whole fifth year for one communication credit and to spend a semester studying abroad in Australia. But then I was offered a research assistantship and the whole thing just felt so cosmically destined that I couldn't turn it down. So in a month I filled out my application to the Graduate School at NC State, took the GRE (I swear by my method of using "The GRE for Dummies" and only studying the night before) and finished up that communication class. All of the sudden I was a "grad student".

And I had no idea what that meant. Or what I was supposed to be doing. From the acceptance of that position I made it very clear that I was just getting my Master's. There would be no staying around for a Ph.D. for this girl. I mean six years of higher education is enough people! But after a year of settling into my new role as a grad student and hearing Dr. Truong call me "Doctor Laurie" I started to play Devil's advocate and wonder what it would be like to have a Ph.D. I spent a lot of time thinking about if that was something I wanted. If it opened enough doors to be worth more school. When I started to tell a few people that I was thinking about it - I didn't say that I was thinking about doing it at NC State...no, I was always thinking about somewhere like UC Davis.

See the first year of my Master's I finally took a spring break trip. Although it wasn't anywhere typical like somewhere warm and beach like. No, instead I flew out to Lake Tahoe which was buried in more snow than I'd ever seen in my life to visit my friend Emily. It took about 10 seconds for me to realize that Lake Tahoe = love. This was only strengthened by the quick trip we took to San Francisco. I was barely in California for any reasonable amount of time, but something just clicked. So hearing through the grapevine that UC Davis had an awesome program, and knowing that they had an awesome location it seemed like a good fit. Or a perfect fit.

But at that point in my grad student career I wasn't the student that I am now. I had become more comfortable with my role, but I had by no means settled into it. Or become confident in my intelligence, abilities, or potential. So when it came down to applying somewhere, which opened the door for scrutiny that could lead to rejection, or taking a Ph.D. position that I was already selected and wanted for - I took the easy road instead of the one less traveled.

Much like the Robert Frost poem, I can honestly say that it made all the difference. Let me back up for a second...the trepidation I felt about visiting UC Davis was because I did NOT want to regret my decision to continue on at NC State. I didn't want to see how awesome it was there and feel, or know within my heart of hearts, that I made a mistake and let myself down. I mean regrets in general are so not fun, one of this magnitude would be completely unpleasant, and one of those things that you can't easily shake.

But lo, it was awesome. Utterly awesome. My first day there I rented a car and drove through downtown and campus to make sure I had my bearings. Then I hit I-80 and headed for wine country. In Sonoma I saw tons of vineyards and found their historic area. Then I made my way back towards Napa and found the riverfront section where I took myself out on a wonderful date that included artichoke bisque, duck that was cooked perfectly, and banana gratin that was so blissful I'm pretty sure I heard angels sing.

The next morning I dropped off the rental car and walked from North Davis all the way back down to my hotel. Davis was so cute - everyone that I passed verbally greeted me and I was charmed. The conference was all consuming, but I did manage to grab sushi and a drink Thursday night. On the last day I snagged a guy, Dave, who rode up on a bike (tell tale sign of a UC Davis grad student) and asked him to show me and my conference friend, Ashley, around. We got to the Food Science building right as his lab mate was coming out of passing her Orals - so off we went to celebrate. Afterwards we walked through the quad to the bookstore where I bought myself more UC Davis stuff than an NC State student needs - proving that I should not be allowed to shop when I am buzzed because I tend to be very indecisive and end up buying everything I like. We walked back through the arboretum and then Dave gave us a tour of Food Science and I could wax poetic for days, but instead I'll just say: Those buildings were designed to make everyone else jealous. And they did. At this point I felt pretty un-confident in my decision.

That night I met Dave and some of his UC Davis friends out for dinner. Since I was leaving the next morning I decided to go on one last walk. An hour and a half later I was back at the hotel, but had basically walked on every street downtown and zig-zagged all the way from A to G and up from First to Fourteenth. And everything I saw - every place, every person (especially the older hippie woman that told me how beautiful I looked walking down the street with the wind blowing in my hair), everything made me think "This is what my life could have been like". And, it made me a bit sad that it isn't what my life is like.

I headed to the airport at 4:30AM the next morning wearing one of my new UC Davis tee shirts. I slept most of the way back, as a way to escape any conflicting feelings that were popping up. But, as we began the "final descent" into RDU I felt something totally different in my heart of hearts - joy. This innate sense of returning home to the place that made me who I am, with a distinct guiltiness mixed in for doubting that I belong any where else. Yes, I could have gone to Davis - or even Rutgers, U of M, or heck BYU - but if I had, there's a strong chance I wouldn't be the person that I am today. And I like how much I've grown into myself. It might have been the "easy way out" but it was not easy. I struggled, so much so that it literally made me sick at times - but that has made all of the successes so much sweeter. The last 5 years have shaken me to my core and caused me to lose myself more times than I felt like I knew who I was. But now I know. And because I do, I also know that I made the right decision for me and that sometimes things end up exactly as they should.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

- Fahtar's Day

I have always been a "Daddy's Girl". I've written about how tumultuous my relationship was with my mom growing up - but with my dad it has always been simple. And steady. He's not much of a phone talker - so when I'm not home, we don't talk regularly. But that doesn't matter because my dad is always like he has been when I see him: supportive and loving.

When I was born, mom worked nights. My dad drove me to the hospital so that I could breast feed during her breaks - in the maid's closet. He has always been a hand's on dad like that. When I was growing up and in school, if one of the kid's was sick it was usually Dad that picked us up and took us home. And Dad always fixed my breakfast - waffles, toaster strudels, cheerios - it was always Dad that made sure we were eating in the morning. Dad changed diapers. Went to soccer practice or horse shows or lacrosse. I will probably never be able to express how incredibly awesome it is that I didn't have one of those dad's that wasn't around - "too busy" to be there for his kids. We always knew that we were the priority.

Dad has always had a beard, except for two times that I can remember. Once when I was a baby he shaved it off, and I'm told that I wouldn't smile at him...probably because I didn't recognize him. When I was about 15 he shaved it off again in the summer, probably because he was hot and thought it would be nice. He came to the front door (we had a glass door) and knocked on it to be let in. I thought a stranger was trying to break in and screamed and almost ran away until he said "Laurie - it's me." I remember feeling very angry about the whole beard being gone, especially without me being consulted. He grew it back. When I was home for Trevor's graduation Aaron confessed that he was nervous he wouldn't be able to grow a beard like Dad - but he got there.

My dad taught me how to drive. Mom was just too nervous to handle it - and I do remember driving with her - but it was Dad that woke up early in the summer to let me drive him to the barn on days that I was riding. We would go at some ridiculous hour, like 7AM to avoid most of the traffic (plus it was hot and if I waited too late to ride I ran the risk of fainting). We did loops around the neighborhood. And the mall. Anywhere with lots of stop signs so I could practice the hardest part about driving a stick shift: not choking out or "riding the bucking bronco" as he would say - not in a mean way, always with a little laugh. Dad was always cool and collected. Granted I think I've always been a pretty good driver, so there weren't a lot of close calls. Plus as he would say: "an inch is as good as a mile".

One of the worst things you could say growing up in our household was to tell someone to "shut up". Dad simply did not tolerate that expression and it always led to an explosion of sorts. And I will say that I don't remember Dad being mad a lot - but when he was he could yell and put the fear back in all of us. In fact, Dad yelled at me quite a bit when I was going through all that fighting with mom - and it was mostly about how I was being a spoiled little hormonal brat and he couldn't believe how badly I was treating my mom. It wasn't the tone, or the loudness of his voice that got me - it was that I always knew he was right. I was a jerk and my dad has NEVER been afraid to call me out on it.

Dad also couldn't handle a spilled drink. I was babysitting recently and the parents hadn't left yet when the little boy spilled his drink and the Dad flipped out. This just must be one of those things that Dad's can't handle. It was always a disaster. Followed by an apology that usually was something like "I'm sorry I yelled, but dammit pay attention". It's funny, it's one of those things that I cried about then, but now it makes me smile and laugh.

Some of my favorite Dad quotes include "You're so full of shit your eyes are brown". Since mine are hazel that was saying something. I say this now. To people who are completely unsuspecting and unfamiliar with it. Or when I asked a lot of questions I would get as a response: "What are you doing, writing a book? Well leave that chapter out!" And recently he told Trevor that he wasn't too old to get his ass kicked. You just have to appreciate the perspective - and being put back in your place.

Because of my dad (and his dad) our family does crossword puzzles together. It is nearly a daily dinnertime activity, always made more fun by the entire family being home. We also jumble a lot. And I believe it was my dad who taught me the great game of Spades: I seem to remember this happening at Mamaw and Bawpaw's house. We haven't really played since the great Spades Debacle of 2008 which we will not discuss at this point in time, but let's just say it took me a year to try to go "nil" again.

My senior year (or maybe junior year) I started listening to his American Beauty CD. When I told him about it he asked if it sounded familiar and I said that it did. He said it was because when I was 4 we used to listen to it and I knew all of the words. Sharing new music with my dad, talking about the "greats", or having him tell me about someone I would like (such as Fleetwood Mac or Carole King) has always been something special we've shared. And yes - he even stood by me through the Hanson years - driving me to 3 concerts in 4 days, the last of which was at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach which we went straight to from the previous concert because it was general admission and I wanted to get as close to the front of the line as possible. Neither of us slept much and I got mono from the whole thing (or it was the straw that broke the camel's back, per se) but I was one of the only girls I saw there with their dad.

Dad drives half way to Raleigh every time I need my parents to take care of Emma. He has never once said he couldn't meet me, even when I've called the day before asking.

My dad is the one that handed me the Hobbit in the 5th grade and told me he thought I would enjoy the Lord of the Rings. It is because of him that the whole family loves it - although I think Aaron mimics his appreciation (and might even beat it) the most. I cannot even tell you how many family conversations have revolved around those books and the events written within. Or how much I've enjoyed them.

One time I failed a drug test at a waitressing job*. When I called my dad it wasn't about disappointment, or disapproving of me - it was merely "If I need to come get you I will". It has always been that undertone of "I love you no matter what" and I will help you fix what you've done wrong in any way. It isn't about what my dad has said to me over the years, but what he's done. Every day of my life I have felt lucky that I ended up with him as my father. It is because of him that I've always been sad that some day I will have to shed the name Steed. I know he is proud of me - but I hope he's sees the profound effect having him as a father has had on me. How there are so many parts of me that are there because of him - and that I recognize and love all of them.
*My mom is concerned about future employers finding my blog and holding this against me. I am not because I don't think they'll find me as I'm pretty sure my mom is one of my few readers. If by some crazy small chance you ARE a future employer - I would like to clarify that this happened in the summer of 2004 after I returned from Bonnaroo. If you know anything about Bonnaroo you know that merely attending will guarantee that you fail any sort of drug test. I did NOT lose my job over this drug test because I was the best darn waitress they had and was never under the influence of anything more than a horrific hangover while at work. In fact, I was even invited to return to the job the following summer. That job is not included on my list of references and I have successfully passed every drug test since, including one for General Mills. So that is my disclaimer to prevent any premature judgement on my capabilities.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

- Happy Bonnaroo

I've mentioned before on here that I went to Bonnaroo. Four years in a row. Each year was a unique and an amazingly special experience on it's own.

My first year was eye opening. I had no idea that music festivals like this existed. I danced in an afternoon rain shower. Saw David Byrne and have loved the Talking Heads ever since. Saw the Dead. Listened to Bob Weir and Phil Lesh sing songs that I've been singing since I was 4 years old. I stood outside in a terrible storm to be by the stage ready for them when they wanted to go on. I have rarely been so mesmerized by music. Hiked out late at night to hear a new band play. Washed my feet with baby wipes. Learned that you have to keep your valuables in plastic bags so they don't get soaked when it rains. I keep a picture of that first one framed at all times, so I never forget what an eye opening experience it was.
The second year I literally drove down in an ambulance. With a sleeper sofa in the back. I saw Jack Johnson perform and watched people climb the trees by "which stage". It was insane. I was talking with my hands (per usual) when a beautiful monarch butterfly landed on my hand. How trippy. Someone wished me "happy Bonnaroo". Bought tee shirts for my friends.

My third year finally brought out Jaclyn and Matt and it was completely magical to have people out with me that truly loved the experience as much as I did. We saw Nickel Creek cover Britney Spears. Joined in on a drum circle. Watched Tom Petty bring out Stevie Nicks and sing "Stop dragging my heart around". Never have I been so star struck in one place at one time. Ate blooming onions and drank Sweetwater Blue. Danced through mist tents to Bela Fleck on the main stage. We were genuinely sad to go home.
Our last year we did things with no abandon. Danced in the grass like little kids. Wore sunscreen like adults. Rode the ferris wheel. Passed out in the grass. Laughed in the tent together. Played in the fountain. Took a deep breath every time we walked under the big Bonnaroo arch - thankful that we were there. Heard the police sing - Roxanne and all of the other big hits. Slept in the grass to My Morning Jacket. Some things you will never forget...
The last two years we went, we were there on Wednesday night to make sure that we didn't miss any of the experience. Which means that people are well into, at least, their first day of Bonnaroo. It is with bitersweet memories that I acknowledge that this awesome thing is happening and that I'm not there. That my life has moved on to a place where it is not feasible to pick up every year and journey 10 hours to be on a 700 acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. It is perhaps the closest my generation will ever come to knowing what Woodstock was really like. A completely isolated peaceful environment like no other that you will experience. There is rarely a day that I don't remember how happy I was there, for those few days.

Every year I think about the people that are having their first experience and I hope that it's a happy, safe one that they will always cherish. For the people on their 8th year I hope they find something new to smile about when they get home. I think about the people that can't believe how dirty they are. Wonder if they have to wade through the mud or battle the dust. Hope everyone stays hydrated. Can't believe I'm missing Conan in the comedy tent.

But overall: I miss it. I miss the magic of seeing the sun set behind the tree line. I miss the feel of a mist tent or a rain shower on my hot sun soaked skin. I miss looking down and seeing my feet caked in dirt and just not caring. I miss waking up in a tent and watching the people in our campground mill around. I miss knowing that I'm surrounded by an amazing cultural experience. One that helped shape who I am today. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And my time at Bonnaroo is over, perhaps forever. Every summer since 2007 I have tried to come to terms with that. Accept that it's happening, and it's okay that I'm not there. That it's okay to miss it. And that it's important to remember it.

So, Happy Bonnaroo to those that are there. I hope that you appreciate the magic of it all and hold it in your heart like I do.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

- LOL

A lot of times you type/send LOL when you aren't really "laughing out loud". You probably just smiled in reality. And you're rarely LMAO. I don't know what was up with today, but I saw the most random things that literally made me laugh out loud - to myself.

Thing #1: I was driving behind this guy in a Chrysler 300 - which sidenote: I still think that's a HOT car and kind of want one - and he is JAMMING out. I mean he is stopped at a red light, and his whole car is shaking because he's rocking to the beat so much. Sometimes I'm really feeling the music too, but I don't know if my car has ever bounced like that. He was really slamming his back into the car seat.

Thing #2: A guy walking down the sidewalk with his (wait for it) unicycle. Does he normally ride a unicycle instead of a bicycle? And if he has a unicycle, and is walking with it down the street, doesn't he know how to ride it? So why is he pushing it? And what kind of person decides that they're going to rock a unicycle? It's really just so special. It was one of those moments where I felt like I couldn't be the only one that saw that and appreciated how insane it was. But no one else was laughing in their car.

Thing #3: So I was driving down Hillsboro St. headed to my fave music store - and Hillsboro St. is just a disaster due to to all the construction and the pavement is ridiculously uneven. So there's one of those big orange signs that says "BUMP" to warn you of how uneven it is. And someone came in and grafitti-ed under it 'n grind - so the sign reads "bump n' grind". Now I know that makes me sound like an immature teenager - but I thought that was hilarious! That was one of the best R. Kelly songs EVER.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My earliest memories from when I was a kid were around age 4. I don't exactly remember where I watched it, but I remember a lot about Sesame Street. I remember all the regulars like Big Bird and Elmo and Oscar, but I also remember the Count and my all time favorite: Mr. Snuffleupagus! I remember when Maria got married, I mean that was a big deal for the whole family, and like a movie event. And let's face it, I'm probably a lot smarter because of what I learned from watching that show. Not to mention I've always played well with others and I'm awesome at sharing.

What I also remember is that after Sesame Street Mr. Rogers came on. He would walk in the door and take off his coat and shoes and switch into a sweater and some tennis shoes. All while singing about being his neighbor. Then we would go off to Make Believe Land on that little trolley which was my favorite part and I loved those little puppets and the castle. I'm going to have to get that on DVD for my kids.

But my point in all this is that lately I've been thinking a lot about Mr. Rogers, because we have had some "beautiful days in the neighborhood". Sunday night it rained and Monday morning the humidity was gone. Highs in the high 80's. Gorgeous breezes. The kind of June that makes everyone jealous. I don't know how long it will last, and I'm guessing not long. But I would go through a whole week of awful stickiness just for a few days of this.

What I wouldn't give to do some porch sitting right now...

Monday, June 7, 2010

- Facebook: Good? Bad. Mostly Ugly

I have been spending entirely too much time on Facebook. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

When I first signed up for Facebook, like a million years ago, I had a vague profile and my quote was "I don't do Facebook". And I didn't. I was rarely there. Early on I edited preferences so that I was never emailed about anything and that was the way I liked it. "Get out of my face, Facebook. I'll be there when I have the time. Which is never, because let's face it, I'm so much better than Facebook."

But slowly, Facebook crept in. Some people I really genuinely used to like found me - Highschool friends I'd lost touch with but still loved dearly. Then it became a situation like "I'm bored, I'll check out what's happening". I became friends with what I refer to as "heavy users". As in, they are always updating their status, uploading pictures, doing stuff. I started checking in on them. When that was tiring, then I'd stalk around. Look at friends of friends. Look at people on my friends list that I wasn't really friends with and never talked to. "Wow they got married? Woah they have 5 kids! Eesh they gained weight..." Before I knew it, I was a "heavy user".

For the last month I've been saying "I need to get this Facebook thing under control" because it has mushroomed out of control. What's really funny is that I compared the whole Cable/DVR thing to people who smoke. And I used to smoke. Recreationally. Usually when drinking. Although sometimes I enjoyed doing it while driving. Sometimes I liked sitting out on the porch of the sorority house with the "smokers" in rocking chairs. I had my own, but went through a pack so slowly that it was a bit ridiculous. I can honestly say that I was never addicted. I literally just didn't buy a pack one day and then never did again. And I didn't miss it or struggle with it. I have had 2 cigarettes post that, and both have made me so sick to my stomach that I can just imagine what my mouth will taste like and never want to do it again.

So smoking = Not Real Addiction. But Facebook = Most Definitely Real Addiction. For the last week, I haven't been writing here, because I've been glued to my home page. My day is like this: check mail, check Facebook, do something for 15 minutes, and repeat! And then "What? Nothing is new? No one is doing anything? Ugh." 15 minutes later, another check. "Jeez I need to do something with my life, close the window." Struggle through an hour and log back on. "YAY someone posted pictures!" 20 minutes later - "I wonder if there's anything new?"

How did this happen? How did I get like this? AND WHY? Why do I all of the sudden care about what all of these people are doing. I mean I know what the people I really like are doing. And if I don't, I can call them. And really communicate with them. So I'm playing my own interventionist. I'm shipping myself out to a rehab facility. In Arizona, with horse therapy and group sessions. I will reclaim my life!

Okay not really. But I am going to find something better to do with the majority of my time. I'm going to quit checking as much. I'm going to quit caring mostly. I have to, because at the very baseline it is killing me that I let Facebook in, and it's taken over like kudzu. Obviously I'm not talking about going cold turkey, because let's not get crazy. But much like with Cable sort of - we all saw how that worked out I'm going to have to wean myself down.

While writing this post I am happy to report that I did not log on to Facebook once. See - progress!

- An Ode to Cable & DVR

I was doing really well with posting regularly, then last week happened. I'm going to explain that, but first I feel the need to share something I wrote back in the fall about moving into my new apartment and saying goodbye to Cable and DVR - because I could no longer afford them.

“What you don’t have DVR? How do you function without DVR?” I said that not too long ago. I got up on my high horse and judged someone for not having DVR – I mean anyone who’s anybody has DVR…that way the TV schedule doesn’t rule your life! You have the power to watch what you want, when you want to! EXCEPT, towards the end of my cable days I realized that I watched SO much more TV, just because I could. I could DVR anything I might ever want to watch, even if it was on while I was watching something that I really wanted to watch, and then watch it when there was nothing on that I wanted to watch. The end result of all this watching, was that I watched a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally. My TV consumption was probably a minimum of 2 hours a day.

I realized my problem shortly before the move: I really do love watching TV. I love it like people talk about how they love to smoke. My pack of cigarettes is a Bones or CSI marathon. Which, by the way, come on daily on TNT and Spike, respectively. I love an episode of a crime drama like people love a smoke break. On really stressful, un-fun days at work I wouldn’t anticipate that first puff in the car with my windows rolled down, but what it would be like to get home, see Emma, and turn on the TV so I could watch at least one or two episodes. And just like those smokers, I said that I didn’t “need cable, I can quit any time…but why now?”

But in reality, I couldn’t fathom life without cable. I mean I’d be missing out on too much – What if they start another season of the Real World/Road Rules challenge? What about the Real Housewives of Atlanta? And to make excuses for this addiction I said “But I have a 42” plasma – it can’t just sit there gathering dust!” Like all addicts though, there comes a moment of clarity. I didn’t need to be facedown in a ditch, or at the center of an intervention circle…no, I just needed my handy dandy financial excel spreadsheet which showed that my expenses exceeded my income. There it was in black and white. I will spend the next 12 months battling a deficit of funds. Yes there is babysitting. Yes there are savings bonds to make up the difference, but do I really want to cut into my nest egg, which could potentially fund some amazing travel before joining the workforce…all for the sake of watching a re-run of Criminal Minds? Yes! NO! But it’s so fascinating! It’s so not worth it! Unlike other moves, I did not call Time Warner Cable and schedule an installation. I decided to think about it.

I spent a whole week immersed in the move. I didn’t even have the time or the energy to turn my tv on. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so hard. I don’t need that tv!” But after all the boxes were unpacked and broken down and recycled…there sat my beautiful 42” plasma giving me puppy dog eyes. Or maybe those were just Emma’s eyes being reflected because for a long time the tv sat on the floor where Emma could see her reflection and boy, was she mesmerized! It was like Harry Potter and the Mirror or Erised. She would sit there forever if I let her, leaving her little nose prints all over the screen as she tried to get to closer to what she saw moving “in there”.

I faltered when it was finally time for it to sit back up on its dresser. I cleaned the nose prints off the screen with the special screen cleaner I have. As soon it was up there I felt a wave of guilt for neglecting it so. It always has looked so nice above that dresser, which was practically made for it. In this moment of weakness I contemplated a relapse. How could I not have cable? How could I not watch? I came up with a plan to pit the two cable companies that service my complex against each other and get a great deal, hopefully for ~$30 a month. That was affordable right?

But again, I never called. I think deep down I knew that cable wasn’t the answer. That it wouldn’t really make me happy, there would always be that voice in the back of my head reminding me of the financial sacrifice. Plus, something else happened during this time, something magical. I’d been hearing people say I could at least plug in a cable in and pick up the network channels. I thought that might not be so bad, I mean I love a lot of shows on the network channels. I attached the cable, but got nothing but static. I played with some settings. Still nothing. Then Greg was over one night and decided to put his engineering background to use and see if he could rig something with the antenna from my stereo. I was doubtful. I really thought it was cable or nothing. I thought if he got lucky I might have 3 channels.

Then, all of the sudden, he had 18 channels – seriously a whopping 18 channels! Hallelujah! I couldn’t believe how happy 18 channels made me! This was so amazing; I was one step closer to getting back together with him. Some of those 18 channels were in HD! I swear that HD looked glorious on that plasma, even better than before. There was a weather channel! Not the real weather channel with Local on the 8’s, but I was never expecting to pick up a channel devoted to the weather with a mere antenna. A tiny voice in the back of my mind said “Yeah, but no DVR” but a much louder voice yelled “IT’S ALL FREE!!!”

And that's how I kicked MY habit. I probably couldn’t have done it cold turkey, but I feel like I’m on the patch and down to the lowest dose. Maybe now I'll get around to reading all those books I'd like to read, or making those pillows, or listening to some CD's I haven't listened to in years. Whatever happens, it's going to happen without cable or DVR, and I'm okay with that.

Fast forward to present day

I still feel like I watch too much TV, most of the time. Having all those network channels, means I could still watch all the shows I like...shows like Castle, Bones, Criminal minds, The Office, Private Practice, 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, America's Next Top Model. Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune with dinner. I mean that is a LONG list. And sadly I'm probably more tuned into the world since I watch the news a bit more being so reliant on network only TV. If I miss something, no big deal. It's on the internet the next day. Which is where I also keep caught up with my favorite HBO and Showtime shows - like True Blood, the US of Tara and in the future Weeds and Californication.

But I will say that I do not schedule around these shows. I catch them when I can and if I can't I don't usually think about it. In the last week and a half I've turned my TV on maybe twice. That probably sounds more admirable than it is, since all of the shows are over for the season, and I've never been a fan of re-runs.

So what have I been doing?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

- Listen to This

I have always loved music. I used to be so in the scene, checking out all the new stuff, going to concerts all the time, always jamming out. And I don't really know what happened, but for like 3 years I just kind of coasted on what I already had and already knew.

Then I went to a My Morning Jacket concert at the end of April. My Morning Jacket is not new to me. In fact, the first time I heard them was in 2004 and the 4 years after that since they've played every Bonnaroo I've ever been to. But before I went to my last Bonnaroo, in 2007, I bought some of their CD's and really fell in love with them. I was so excited to see them play that year. But their set was from 12-3 AM, and sometimes no matter how excited you are to see a band play, when you've been out in the sun and heat ALL DAY drinking and partying, you just have to lay down and pass out in the grass. I did wake up periodically to a song I recognized and it would hit me how great of a show I was missing, with all the lights and the people under the tent having the time of their lives with all the balls and glow sticks being thrown around. But then I would let the sound of Jim James' voice serenade me back to sleep.

So that show was kind of a wash. But this time I saw them at Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, which is an amazing venue. It's small. There are trees everywhere. The bathrooms are clean. The acoustics are awesome. Plus the show was from 7-10:30ish, so I wasn't too tired. AND it was AMAZING. Because of that show I have done nothing but listen to MMJ all day every day. I've even stopped watching TV, just to play the CD's on my stereo and listen instead.

After the show I went and bought the Evil Urges CD and an online live CD that was only $4.99. Throw that in rotation with the 3 other CD's of theirs I have and that's enough to keep me going for some time. As an added bonus, in the parking lot this awesomely hippy painted trailer was blaring something I was really digging. So I asked who it was and they told me that it was the Heartless Bastards. I bought that CD at the same time as the MMJ one and if I'm not listening to one then I'm listening to the other.

I am totally smitten with Heartless Bastards.

I've also been doing a lot more research and so I've pulled out my old school iPod shuffle. It only holds like 200 songs and it's full of MMJ and Heartless Bastards but some other standbys. Like Ray Lamontagne. Oh how I love that man. And Iron & Wine which just makes me smile and not hate that my RNA extraction is not working perfectly a little less. And Feist.

Last week I saw the new Jack Johnson video. Then today I was reading People and it got a pretty good review. I checked it out on iTunes and liked all of the snippets but decided to pick up the CD at Target. Which brings me to a digression - I may be one of the few people left, but I swear I'd rather have 3 CD's than a million mP3's. I do not buy into this whole digital music thing. Sure, I listen to my iPod but only because it's no longer cool to strap a portable CD player to your body. But if that comes back I still have one that is fully functional. I don't know what I'll do when CD's are done away with, but I bet it will look something like the hippies from the 60's who still play their vinyl. I just refuse to let go.

What's funny is that somewhere in those 3 years of "coasting" on what I had, I forgot how powerful finding something new to listen to can be. How certain songs that I discover now will forever be associated with this point that I'm at in life - with my last summer of grad school, my first summer of being single in a long time, and the summer where I finally realized that I'm not that old and I should stop acting like I am. I forgot how much a bad day can melt away by blaring my favorite song with the windows down - or turning on the stereo while sitting on my deck with a glass of wine on one of the few nights where there's no humidity and it cools down to the low 70's. How if someone pisses me off, I can sing it away. How I'll smile more when I hear one of my many new favorites - or how I'm just smiling more in general.

I hope this summer reminds me not to forget - because it's a lot more fun to remember.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

- Lesbian Sour Fruit

I love 30 Rock. That is all.

If you haven't seen it, you must watch it. From the beginning. It's available on Netflix watch it now, and trust me when I say that your life will be greatly enriched by doing so.

Tina Fey is one of my favorite people ever.