Starting Off On The Right Foot.

Wouldn’t it be great if every morning could be like this?

There’s nothing particularly special about this morning, except for the incredibly zen state I’m in. So I guess that’s pretty special. Some mornings are hellish. The alarm clock rings like nails on a chalkboard. Your body aches and you wonder if you’ve been pro-wrestling in your sleep. It feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the night ever.

But some mornings are just right. I rolled over in bed and smiled at my husband who was smiling right back. Saying “I love you” in the mornings is definitely a great way to begin a day. I had a dream in the early AM about giving birth. I told JB about it and how I know I need to begin getting serious about preparing for the big event. “It’s like preparing for a marathon,” I said. And it’s true. This is going to be the single most exhausting and challenging physical experience of my life. I like being able to tell JB my dreams.

“I have to get ready for work,” he said, shortly after the alarm rang. I kissed him and nodded. Off he went to let Hobbes (the cat) in and into the shower next. My aching back told me I should do a little stretching. Some cat cow stretches and a few minutes in child’s pose got the blood circulating. Hunger pangs got me out of the room and I served myself some cereal and milk while Hobbes darted in between my legs, vying for my attention. Spoiled little brat. Pet, pet, pet.

And then, I wound up here. Like I said – nothing special. Except that i’m writing, and even if it’s not life altering prose, it’s still something. Sometimes writers get caught up in perfection, in wanting to produce this grand and epic work because everything else seems so mundane. But we forget that sometimes it’s just about working out. You don’t need to run the marathon every day, and you most certainly don’t need to win it each time. Before you ever get there, you just need to stretch, to move around, and get started off on the right foot.

Good morning to you all.

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Some Advice for the First Day of School

Ah, school. It’s been about 2 years since I last had a “first day of,” and while I miss shopping for supplies and getting my things ready (and reading my syllabi over and over – in my college years), I can safely say that I’m pretty happy to be skipping out on this one. I can still remember the anxiety deep in the pit of my stomach as I got ready the previous night for what would be the longest day of the yea, never knowing quite what to expect on a first day.

My first day of kindergarten I went in blindly, and naively, as I had been dying to start school already. My mother took me to school that first morning at Charles R. Hadley Elementary School and dropped me off inside of Mrs. Santamaria’s class. I had a book bag and a lunch box full of home made goodies and a combined feeling of excitement and nerves that I would grow to loathe far past adolescence. When my mom told me she was leaving, I think I started to cry. But then I calmed down and she left and I sat at this enormous round table, silently waiting to see what would happen next. I remember a little boy with straight black hair wound up sitting at the table with me. He became my first male friend ever – Briegle Leiva, and his mom and my mom would end up being friends for many years after. Mrs. Santamaria was a large, pale woman with black hair and glasses not unlike those my grandmother wore – thick and squared. She had a serious face, and from what I recall, she was a very serious kindergarten teacher. I wish then that I had known how quickly time would pass, so I wouldn’t have been such a nervous little wreck.

Fast forward to my first day of high school, where I spent half of my lunch period wandering around looking for ANY friendly face, and the 2nd half hiding in a bathroom stall thinking “Why the hell am I here?!”, and I wish then that i’d known that the first day truly does not always dictate how the rest of your time in this new school will go. And when I think back to my first day of college, where I was completely enamored by the ability to select (at least a few) classes I sincerely had an interest in, and where I was actually feeling engaged for once in classroom discussions, all I wish I could tell myself is – hold on to that feeling! Hold on to it, or you’ll really fuck up after a while and slacking won’t get you anywhere.

So much learning goes on in that first day, but it’s rarely about what you’ll be learning the rest of the year. The first day of school prepares you for the first day of everything else in your life: first day of camp, first day on the job, first dates, first day of being a parent (at least I hope that last one is right – i’ll be finding out myself come early next year!) Here’s what two decades of “first days of school” have taught me:

Try and get a good night’s sleep, or at least mentally prepare yourself for being utterly exhausted. You’ll need this energy (or imagined energy) to make it through your whole day because it will very likely feel eternal. You don’t want to look like shit on your first day (you never know who you might meet and you want to make a decent first impression), and more importantly – you want to be on point. This means being prepared to answer questions when asked, even if you have to pull an answer out of your ass. This means being prepared to problem solve: did you forget lunch money and are wondering how you’ll be eating today? Or maybe you tore your jeans somehow and have to figure out how to hide it from the world? Did you lose your schedule and have no idea where to go next? Making sure your brain is at least mildly alert will air in your ability to figure this stuff out and simplify your life. Plus, you don’t want to be the kid passed out on their desk waking up covered in drool. Never a pretty sight.

Be prepared! It’s never good to leave your house without your books, without paper and pencil (or pen, as you get older). Make sure to copy your schedule down onto another place in case you misplace the first copy. Have your P.E. uniform if you’re going to need it so you don’t get stuck doing laps in a skirt on a windy day. Bring some cash with you for anything and everything. Charge all your batteries (cellphone, laptop – for those in higher learning) so you’re not battling 3 other people for the seats closest to the wall jack. Bring a sweater or jacket (in case you get cold easily). Bring a snack (you never know when hunger will strike and your grumbling stomach will catch the attention of those around you). Bring whatever you think will ease your way into the day. Always a good rule of thumb.

Pick a spot, or two, or three – and never too far from the action. For whatever reason, humans are definitely creatures of habit. You want to make sure you pick spots to sit in, eat at, and hang out at that you’re going to enjoy. Some prefer sitting at the front of the class, others like to blend in, and then others prefer the back. Honestly, don’t sit at the back of the class. Even if you think you have incredible discipline, you’re going to miss out on things. You won’t hear as well or see as well and you’ll be more prone to distraction. Worse still, you’ll be in the company of others who want to constantly be distracted, and they’ll take you down with them. If you really want to learn, and even if you think you already know everything, you’ll do better if you’re in the thick of it. Class is much more boring when you don’t participate. Save the back of the class of a special occasion – you have a terrible headache that day and can’t focus or your significant other broke your heart and you need a day off from the world. That’s completely fine. Just don’t make it a habit, because it’s a hard one to break. Additionally, try to pick social areas to eat lunch at and hang out in. You never know what friendships might form over time. Sitting all alone in a corner might get you piece of mind, but it will make life much lonelier and in this world, it often boils down to “who you know” to get ahead. But don’t fret if you don’t find your spot on the first day, sometimes it takes a couple of tries before an area sticks.

Push yourself to be social. The first day is the absolute best day to meet people. You think you’re freaked out and nervous? Think about how everyone else around you must feel! Even when people exude a calm and collected demeanor, oftentimes it just means they’re better at hiding their anxieties. The first day, many people are just looking for someone friendly to talk to. Most of my friendships throughout school were formed  on the first day. It’s the best time to just make general chit chat: What do you think of this class so far? What other classes are you taking? Are you new to this school? Hell, sometimes it’s even good to lie: Do you have a pen I can borrow? can always lead to more sentences being exchanged, and perhaps eventually a smile, and an exchange of names. (But of course, since you remembered to Be Prepared, you probably don’t really need that pen. On the flip side, being prepared might lead to someone else asking you and you’ll get to be the supplier and hero of the first day!) And like I said before, much of your life will be dictated by “who you know,” so use your best judgement and get to socializing!

Be positive. Maybe that sounds a little hokey, but sometimes all you need is to reassure yourself that all will be well. No matter what happens, try to look on the bright side. Keeping a positive attitude under even the worst circumstances will speed up the time at least a little bit, and you might even rub off on those around you. Smiling (as long as you’re not being overly creepy about it) is always a good start.

Jot down notes throughout the day. Keep a little notebook or piece of paper on hand with important info that might save you for the rest of the year. In this day and age, maybe just “text it to yourself” works just as well. Maybe it’s knowing which lunch line always has the best cookies. Or writing down the name of the kid that let you borrow a sheet of paper (you can always return the favor later). Or maybe it’s the name of a book your professor mentioned might be helpful with the midterm (of course they tell you it’s not required reading, but every little bit helps!) If you’re bad with directions, remember to write down landmarks to help you get to your class (it’s in the building next to the library!), or write yourself a note reminding yourself to get a campus map. Anything that will help you later down the road is worth noting.

And finally – relax. It’s just the first day. Some of us get easy first days and others of us are bombarded with shit that makes us want to run for the hills never to want to return. But we still have to go back the next day. While the first day may dictate how some things will go for the rest of the year, it won’t really dictate all of it. Some of you will change classes. Others will make different friends down the line, working on group projects, or meeting friends of other friends. You might start off intimidated by the course load and later surprise yourself at how you rose to the challenge. Maybe you get lost on the first day but end up a tour guide for your campus to help out the newbs that come after you. The thing is – things change. They always do. So while you want to make the absolute best of your first day, don’t sweat it if you hit a couple of snags. It’s normal. Eventually you’ll reach a point where the first day just seems like a far and distant memory. You’ll graduate. You’ll move on. And maybe someday, you’ll write a list just like this one for the next generation.

 
Good luck to those of you battling it out in the trenches of the First Day of School! Learn lots and have fun!

10 Minute Moments: You Need To Want More

Sometimes we simply get stuck. We find ourselves in these routines. Wake up. Shower. Get ready for the grind. Work like a dog and pass out to wake up and start over again. Or maybe it’s nothing like that. Maybe instead it’s wake up past noon or later. Have a beer or two. Pass out. Drink some more. Or maybe smoke. Maybe it’s neither. You might wake up to your kids vying for your attention. Then trying to work and being unable. Not enough time. Not enough room. And those kids, they don’t stop asking for you. It’s so easy to get stuck. To conform and be satisfied with all of this.

It’s so easy to let yourself get dissuaded from what you really want, from what you’ve always wanted deep down. You’ll make excuses for yourself just like everyone will make excuses. “You’re jut growing up,” “You have priorities now,” “This is reality,” and it’s all one and the same bullshit.

But every writer writes about this. Every person thinks this. Why is it any more special coming from one voice than another? Does it even matter? I thought we were talking about something important here – beyond the medium – the message itself.

This is just a reminder to myself that I don’t feel too fantastic this morning. I went out with a friend of mine last night and proceeded to treat my liver to some Glenlivet and my lungs to a couple of Camel Crushes and now I’m in pain. Less pain about my body, more pain about not having gotten any writing done yesterday, and realizing how easily I could get sucked and suckered in to this life. Working to get paid and blowing it all on a few moments in between the work week. And there’s nothing wrong with this now and again. Never anything wrong with working hard, trying to get by. Something completely wrong with allowing that to be the only thing you want.

Remember what you want.

Because you want so much more.

And when you get exactly what you want (and you will if you keep at it in some way or other), always remember that you NEED to WANT MORE.

10 Minute Moments: You Can’t Win Em All

Writing is tricky business. Especially when you tend to mostly write about your life, your experiences, the people around you. I’ve always been envious of fiction writers. They can invent entire worlds out of nothing, creating the people they wish existed, painting imaginary landscapes with whatever words they choose to use. Even in my fiction writing, there’s a lot of honesty behind it. Or maybe honesty is the wrong word. Just, reality I suppose. My fiction is basically life with a few names, places, details changed around. Sometimes I add my own spin on how I wish things would have ended rather than how they did. Hell, it’s my story, right? No one told Hemingway to downplay his perspective. (I think.)

My biggest challenge has always been in trying to soften the blow of what actually happened for the sake of whoever was involved and for the sake of whoever might be reading. It’s hard to be okay with the judgement you’re sure to receive for your work. I’ve always tried to be a people pleaser, so when someone doesn’t like me or what I’m doing, i’ve frequently taken it to heart. It’s only recently that i’ve started to buck up and understand that you simply CAN NOT win everyone over.

Some of the most influential, creative, interesting, successful individuals were disliked by some. Usually, they were disliked by many. I often wonder how many writers wound up alienating everyone around them because of the things they wrote. I should find out where their support group meets… If I ever make it that far, anyway.

Any writers out there have advice on how to develop thicker skin? Anyone have any stories on how your writing got you into trouble in the past? I’m sure i’m not the only one.

Here’s a fantastically terrible song about this problem. Seriously. This song is the best thing to come out of this short blog post.

Apparently the song is about football (of the soccer variety). I don’t know either.

Reasons Why Your OKCupid Messages Go Unanswered

Pris Killingly: Serial Online Dater, at your service.

A few posts ago, I gave some advice on how to meet people from the internet and came out of the online dating closet. I’ve been a practicing OKCupider for a bit over a year now and have received a ridiculous amount of messages throughout the past few months. Some messages have been awesome and intrigued me right away. Some were a bit more bland and got lost in the shuffle. And then of course, a few stood out because of how absurd or ridiculous they were. When I first got on the site, I did my best to answer each and every message, even if I had absolutely no interest in the sender. Basically, I thought it was just bad manners to allow a letter to go unanswered. But time passed and the more messages I received, the harder it got to answer them all. Eventually, I began only selecting the more interesting messages from people I might potentially want to date or hang out with, leaving the rest to collect virtual dust until I got that message again: Your mailbox (incoming+sent) is almost full. Soon you’ll stop getting messages! That’s when I know it’s time to let the bygones be bygones and off they go into the trash.

I still feel kinda bad about letting so many of these messages go unanswered. There are many reasons why this happens. It’s not always one simple answer and truth be told, while I can be a bitch as much as the next person in my regular life, i’m actually a pretty nice person on the whole and i’d like to think I make for a decent online dater. (If you don’t believe me, i’ve got references!) So for those who are upset that I didn’t answer back, for those that don’t give a shit, or for others of you who are just now getting into the online dating game, here’s a few reasons why your letters might go unanswered. Advice on how to avoid letter rejectionitis included within each explanation.

Please don't be as creepy as Conebone69! (If you get the reference, congratulations. You're awesome.)

1. Your username creeps me out. This is essentially the first impression you’re making on me. When I get an e-mail from OKC, the first thing i’ll see if your username. Make sure it’s something not too over the top. If you reference body parts (e.g. bigblackcock*, ballsdeepstud, etc) or how “hot” you are (e.g. sexypapi69 or something to that effect), I probably won’t want to talk to you. If your username is something too specifically geared toward something that doesn’t interest me at all but is obviously a passion of yours (e.g. dragonwzrdking, gonefishing, anothergoodxtian, etc), I might also not answer. Maybe this is too judgemental of me. Maybe “RonPaulFanboy” has other qualities aside from wanting to constantly fellate his favored presidential candidate**. However, my distaste for RP is too great to get over and as I do need some way to filter out the messages I get, RonPaulFanboy will likely get deleted in favor of someone else.

2. You have absolutely no pictures. This is a no-brainer. Online dating sites allow you, nay, encourage you to post several pictures of yourself in order to give your potential date an idea of what they’re getting themselves in to. I use the allotted 10 image limit that OKCupid gives me to provide others with a good idea of what I look like. Even if you’re just looking to be friends, I still want to know what you look like. If I wanted to hang out with someone whose face I can’t see, i’d call over the gimp.

Huh? What? Sorry, wasn't listening.

3. You have nothing interesting to say. Alright, this isn’t necessarily fair. Maybe you just didn’t know what to say or how to say what you wanted to say without sounding creepy, weird, desperate, or some combination of those things. However, just saying “hey” or “sup?” or “hi cutie” or whatever makes the receiver of the message (me, in this example) feel like a. you’re not very creative and b. you don’t like to put in much effort. And if there’s one thing I highly value, it’s someone who puts forth effort. Make a casual mention about something on my profile and/or in one of my pictures. Or come up with a funny icebreaker. Make it so that i’d feel a bit like a jerk if I didn’t somehow respond, even if i’m not necessarily fully interested. There’s always a chance I might become more interested as a result.

4. You lay it on TOO thick. From time to time, I respond to someone who compliments me on my looks via message. But if that’s the only thing you’ve got to say to me (e.g. “Damn honey, you look good!”), my attention span might not last. Some people also just go a little too overboard with their approach. “You with all those curves and me with no breaks!” is just one of several lines that, while appreciated (this shit makes me laugh always), won’t necessarily work on me, and therefore might not work on many others. Also, people claiming they want to sweep me off my feet and show me everything i’ve been missing need not apply. I like my feet firmly planted on the ground. I’m usually looking for an equal to run around with instead. But I guess some people might go for that stuff.

5. I wanted to answer, but couldn’t come up with a clever response in a timely manner. Basically, I read your message and you seemed pretty cool, but then I had to rush to work and decided i’d respond later. Except then I got home and realized I needed to get groceries, so I told myself i’d write when I got home. But then I forgot I didn’t have any clean laundry, so I went to do that, and when I got back online, Facebook and Twitter began vying for my attention and I completely forgot to write to you. And then, a few days passed, maybe weeks, even months, and then I remembered I wanted to write to you but possibly felt embarassed to do so now, after so much time. This is a rare occurrence but it HAS happened. In fact, I just wrote to someone today who seemed like a fun person to hang out with that i’d exchange messages with last May but then completely forgot to follow up with. We’ll see if he responds.

Why must you insist on making me facepalm so much?

6. You picked a fight with me for absolutely no reason. This has happened. I once had a guy message me to let me know how much he hated Charles Bukowski (after seeing “Ham on Rye” listed as what I was currently reading). He went on to talk about how drunk writers are all overrated hacks (he obviously didn’t know who he was writing to). I entertained his messages for a couple of minutes and then finally got bored and stopped responding. He continued to message me, eventually asking if I was interested in him at all. My jaw dropped to the floor and as I picked it back up, my finger hit the ‘delete’ button.

7. I’m kinda-sorta seeing someone. Kinda. I don’t really date monogamously at the moment. Truth be told, I haven’t really found anyone that i’d want to take such a step with (for various reasons). However, there have been moments here and there, very rare and short-lived ones, where I wanted to see where something might go with someone. And so, I might’ve felt a bit strange answering your message at such a time. Obviously I’m still single and none of those situations quite worked out, so the chances that this is the reason your message went unanswered are slim to nil, but it might be true again in the future. You never know.

Take a lesson from the Fonz. Heyooo!

8. You have absolutely no confidence in yourself. I know this probably sounds mean, but if you don’t think you’re anything special, why should I? No, but seriously, if your first message is loaded with phrases like “I’m really shitty at this”, “I know I don’t have a chance”, or “I’m probably not your type,” well, for one, it’ll make me kinda sad because I’m sure you’re probably a very nice person but are lacking in the self-esteem department. I’m not here to be anyone’s cheerleader though. It’s hard enough to keep my own esteem relatively up (while working against ever becoming too much of an egomaniac) without having to try and let you know how special I think you are. My job is not to massage egos. Figure your shit out, learn your best qualities, embrace who you are, and then get back to me.

9. All your pictures are inconsistent and/or terrible. Some people look different in all of their images. This bothers me to no end. Which one do you REALLY look like? I might still talk to you, but this is always going to bug me to no end. Also, if you’re taking low angle shots of yourself… please… for the love of the gods… STOP! It’s not flattering for anyone. Not anyone.*** I’ve actually been considering lending out my services to people (especially gentlemen) by advising people on which pictures to use in their online dating profiles. Hell, i’ll even take em for you, so long as you quit it with the low angle. Shirtless pics should also be avoided unless it’s a pic of you at the beach/pool/other large body of water and you’re very comfortable/confident in your body (not necessarily that you’re super fit, but that you carry yourself well). Also, pictures of you looking like absolute shit with captions like “Looking like shit after a long night out” or “Exhausted, cranky, looking terrible” should be avoided. Why the fuck do people post bad pictures of themselves? We all have a good side, a perfect angle that captures what we look like and still puts us in the best light. Go with what works. PS. I don’t want to see pics of you in more than one Halloween/theme party costume (unless they’re amazing costumes – dressing in drag isn’t amazing unless you’re actually in the biz of being a drag king/queen FYI). Goofy fact pics should also be kept to a minimum. We might think that’s what you actually normally look like and then we’ll never take you seriously.

Arrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhh!

10. You are rude. “I wanna fuck u” is not a good icebreaker – unless maybe you’re Ryan Gosling. Also, harassing me by sending constant messages after I failed to respond to the first one is a quick way to get me to completely ignore you. Sometimes I take a while to respond because I want to figure out the right thing to say, or maybe i’ve just been busy, or I might be seeing someone at the time and don’t want to try to date anyone else. Or maybe i’m just not interested. (It’s probably that.) Whatever the case, it’s fine if you send me another message a few days/weeks down the line as a friendly reminder that you messaged me before. Make your intentions known. If you’re writing to ask me out on a date and I didn’t respond and I still don’t, take the hint. If you’re writing because you honestly just want to hang out and don’t expect anything, and you tell me this, I might be more inclined to meet you. Or maybe I will want to go on that date. You really never know. All I do know is that there’s few things that irritate me more about online dating than assholes who want to call me names because I wasn’t interested in them. Get over it, psychos. It’s not cool. I should make a Tumblr reporting you all so no one dates you.****

11. The answers to your questions freak me out. Some people don’t take the question portion too seriously and give a lot of bullshit answers while others try to be as honest and consistent as possible. I don’t always read through people’s questions because, well, I don’t usually have the time or attention span for it. However, sometimes I like to give it a once over. Some red flag answers for me that might cause me to NOT answer you back? Anything that indicates you’re anti-choice/pro-life, extremely religious/religion-oriented (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, whatever – it just doesn’t interest me and will likely cause major conflicts down the line), you don’t believe in evolution, you’re Republican or agree with the Tea Party in any way, you’re racist, you’re sexist… Need I go on? Everyone’s got their hot-button issues and these are mine. Don’t like em? I don’t want to date you.

12. I’m just not interested. Sometimes people just aren’t interested. I’ve sent out messages that went unanswered and lived to tell the tale. They either had one of the above reasons for not answering, had a different reason, or, the main reason – they just weren’t interested. And that’s okay. We’re not always physically, mentally, and/or emotionally attracted to everyone, no matter how nice and good looking and pleasant they might be or appear to others. It happens.

Hope that shed some light into this potentially perplexing problem. Now get out there and date some strangers! I swear it’s good for you.

 

 

*I’m not using any actual usernames i’ve seen to protect the quasi-innocent.

**Just joking about this. Kinda. I really don’t like Ron Paul or the kool-aid drinking following he’s got, but i’ll save that for a different post.

***Alright, maybe some porn stars can get away with it, but this is because we’re looking at other body parts most likely and forgot to check out the face.

****Future project? Maybe that’s a little too mean…

10 Minute Moments: Adjusting

Woke up with a stuffy nose, and I know it’s because my room is a mess and because I keep forgetting to take my allergy medicine. The sun isn’t even up and I’m not sure how I’m still awake. Or rather, how I woke up at all. It’s the end of February, and the only thing that makes me realize is that time simply refuses to sit still.

I think i’m going to try to do a little free write like this whenever I can. Too often, I jot down ideas of what I want to write about, I open drafts that I never publish, I write but I stop myself because it’s not perfect. Except that writing is never perfect. Art in every form is constantly changing, morphing from one thing to the next. Or maybe that’s just the kind of thing you think when you’ve slept maybe 10 hours tops in 3 days. Who knows.

I started a new job on Monday. I’d been waiting to hear back from them for about a month now. So far, it’s going alright save for the whole waking up before dawn part. Living out in the suburbs certainly doesn’t help the situation.

Other random thoughts as of late?

– Sandwiches are fantastic. I got hooked on Po’ Boys this month after celebrating Mardi Gras the only way I knew how (with food, although we had some Abita too. Did a little Boozin Betties write up on it here.).

– I don’t mind driving far distances as long as the traffic isn’t so bad. And yet, I live in Miami, where traffic is king.

– I’m still stuck between trying to figure out if I should try to TEFL abroad next year, or just move to New York, or apply to grad schools and see where they take me, or pack up all my stuff and move to California, land of milk and honey and lax laws about some favored personal items. Or maybe become a rubbertramp, pack my stuff in my car, and travel around. Except my car is unreliable. You see where I’m going with this…

And on that note, time for work. My 10 minutes are up.

Music Monday: Radiohead Songs, Radiohead Stories

A few weeks before my high school graduation, I found out that Radiohead would be performing at a brand new outdoor camping music festival up in New York by the name of Field Day Fest*. My friends and I were huge fans of theirs (plus the rest of the line-up: Beck, the Beastie Boys, Thursday, Bright Eyes, Sigur Ros, Blur, etc.) and it seemed like the perfect way for me to spend the last few days of my senior year. Sadly, as my friends Eddie and Jon** and I were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale Airport, I got a phone call from Ticketmaster informing me that the concert had been changed. Rather than being a multi-day camping extravaganza in Long Island, it would now be a one day concert happening at Giants Stadium …in New Jersey.

Suffice to say, we were pissed.

We left our camping gear with our friend and proceeded to hunt down a hotel to stay at for the duration of the trip (this was before the days of rampant smartphone use). The festival itself was basically a catastrophe. Aside from being screwed out of a lot of bands we wanted to see, it basically rained the ENTIRE TIME we were there. Sometimes it would be a light drizzle. Othertimes, full on thunder storm. And it didn’t help to be in a stadium with metal seats, feeling like the concert would turn in to a human BBQ any minute now. Still, we trudged on. And then we waited impatiently for Beck to play (I actually missed out on my only chance to ever see Elliott Smith perform on the outside stage – I am still kicking myself about that one), but he never showed. Turns out he got injured backstage and so the Beastie Boys came on and put on a good show. And then, after 10 hours of perpetual moisture, it was finally time for the main event.

Thom York stepped on to the stage, and the rain…. stopped.

It was magic.

You probably couldn’t measure the amount of joy I felt watching Radiohead play for the first time. Not only watching them play, but being in that moment, soaked to the bone from head to toe, shivering in the makeshift ponchos we finally bought for $20 a piece that were essentially just garbage bags with holes, starving after a day of being unable to eat anything more than disgusting, overly salted, giant pretzels, still semi-soggy from the rain. Utterly exhausted. But then, like I said. It stopped raining. And Thom began to sing. And the band played on. And they played for a good two hours, bringing me practically to tears at certain points. Goosebumps for hours. It’s still one of my favorite concert experiences of all time.

I think it was that experience that really made me realize just how much I love Radiohead.

I know a lot of people out there think they’re over rated. It’s true that they are essentially a pop band, a popular band, a band that almost everyone enjoys, even if they don’t normally like rock or electronic music. And honestly, the reason for this is that they’re just really fucking good.

Since then, i’ve had the opportunity to see Radiohead perform again twice, both times here in South Florida. They were amazing shows, but they still haven’t topped that first one. Now tonight, they’ll be playing Florida again and this will be the first time I miss them in almost a decade. I’m jealous, to say the least, of everyone that’s going. I have a lot of friends that will be attending for the first time, and I’m excited for them, but it doesn’t mean i’m not still sad about the whole thing. So i’ve decided to share some of my favorite Radiohead songs here for you. While I wanted to include amazing tracks like I Might Be Wrong and Exit Music (For a Film), I opted to go mostly with some tracks you might’ve never heard off different EP’s and singles. Enjoy!:

 

Gagging Order (COM LAG 2Plus2Is5Five EP)

This song is a rainy drive through a field full of flowers in bloom, a hug from someone you’d missed for far too long that’s aged more than expected, a night of insomnia in a hotel room far from anyone that knows your name, a kiss on the forehead at just the right moment from the right person. In short, it does things to a person.

 

Talk Show Host (Street Spirit (Fade Out) single; Romeo & Juliet soundtrack)

This is probably the most popular song out of this list and I don’t think i’ve ever met anyone that didn’t love this song, even if they weren’t big fans of the band. There’s just something about it. At the very least, it conjures up images of Leo DiCaprio back when I was 14 and found him extra swoon worthy. But really, it’s just a good song.

 

Permanent Daylight (My Iron Lung EP)

This song evokes such a feel for the 1990’s, it kills me. I didn’t actually discover this one until the advent of Pandora radio. It came on once and I said to myself that it sounded like Radiohead but unlike anything i’d ever heard from Radiohead (save maybe slightly reminiscent of Pablo Honey, but even then). Just a fun song.

 

True Love Waits (I Might Be Wrong – Live Recordings)

When people say they’re “moved” by a song, I generally feel that they should be talking about this song. I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s a goddamn fucking beautiful song. My vocabulary won’t allow me to go beyond that with this one. The feeling in my chest when I hear it can’t really be replicated. Because regardless of how we feel in our lives, we all just really want what this song says to be true.

 

Codex (King of Limbs)

In case you haven’t listened to their last album, King of Limbs, here’s one to reel you in. Words like ethereal come to mind, but I know that’s just trite. Take it for what it is. Let it breathe in to you.

 

Trans Atlantic Drawl (Amnesiac single)

How. Awesome. Is. This. Song. !? No, really. That’s all I can say about it.

 

Fog (again) (COM LAG 2Plus2IsFive)

This song is running around as a child, dirt on your knees, imagining the world. This one is being in the middle of the ocean, where the stars are their brightest, feeling cool night air, unaffected by the rest of the world. It just is.

 

How I Made My Millions (No Surprises single)

This is my last one. I actually just discovered it while hunting down fantastic songs by Radiohead. Listen and you’ll get it.

 

I have too many other songs that I would love to include in this, but you’ll have to do some Radiohead research yourself to find what your favorites are. To those hitting the show tonight, have a blast! I’ll spend tonight reminiscing about all the wonderful moments shared with their music, til next time.

 

*If you really want a good review of how this day went down, read that article. Nail on head.

**Names changed as usual.

Compare and Contrast #4: Love Will Tear Us Apart

It’s been a while since I last did one of these compare and contrast segments, but I know it’s time to bring it back. Today, we’re comparing and contrasting one of my favorite songs of all time by one of my favorite bands of all time. The band? Joy Division. The song? Love Will Tear Us Apart.

A little bit about the tune (as yanked from Wikipedia): It was written by Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis between the summer and fall of 1979 and debuted at a show with the Buzzcocks shortly thereafter. It’s said to have been a play on the name of another popular song of the time, Love Will Keep Us Together (Captain & Tenille), and to have come from the depths of Curtis’ crumbling marriage. Sadly, just one month after the release of the song, Ian Curtis hung himself, committing suicide in May of 1980 at the age of 23. It became the band’s first real chart hit, reaching the #13 spot – something Curtis would never get to find out.

I don’t remember exactly when it was that I first heard this song, but I do know that it was one of those songs that just hit me immediately. For the longest time, it became one of my favorite songs to dance to. A 15-year-old version of myself would blast this in her bedroom and dance around in her PJs, arms flailing about. The music itself is easy to lose yourself in and the beat is much too cheerful for what the song is about, but somehow it all works.

It’s only when you read the words that you begin to understand what Curtis must have been feeling at the time when he wrote it. The lyrics knock you out with the brutal truth that hits everyone that’s ever been in a failed relationship. When routine bites hard, and ambitions are low. And resentment runs high, and emotions won’t grow. Curtis doesn’t get overly poetic with this piece. There’s nothing there that is difficult for anyone to understand. There are no hidden meanings, nothing to dig for. He’s describing, word for word, what it’s like to have loved someone, to still care for them, and to be completely and hopelessly stuck. Or perhaps to still love them in some way, but then there’s that point that is so frequently reached, when it’s faded from your significant others’ eyes, when you can tell they’ve just stopped trying, when you both go to bed exhausted from fighting, exhausted from crying, exhausted from ignoring each other, exhausted from being alive. The song is sad. The words are sad. But in their sadness, there’s a bewildering bravery to be found. Externalizing those kinds of emotions must have been terrifying.

The song means many different things to me nowadays. After going through a number of breakups and heartaches, I still sometimes ask myself the same question Curtis does in the song: Why is it something so good just can’t function no more? It’s the kind of question we always ask ourselves when we’re reaching the end of something we were convinced would go on forever, or at least for a long while. It’s a question that no one will ever have a real answer to, but at least we have this song:

 

 

And now, for the covers…

Here’s a little bossa nova style cover of the tune by Nouvelle Vague. It brings a new whimsy to the song that you wouldn’t really guess could happen with such a dark piece. You can hear what sounds like the waves crashing and happy beach goers very faintly in the background. It’s the first (and probably only) time i’ve ever wanted to hear this song while sipping a daiquiri.

 

The Jose Gonzalez cover is simply guitar and vocals. It’s beautiful and I feel it stays true to the original sentiment of the song. There’s no getting fancy here, and that’s a good thing.

 

Simple Minds (of Breakfast Club anthem “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” fame) created this extra dance-y cover of the song. While it loses the original intent of the song, it still holds holds its own. I’ll let you decide.

 

This last cover is by the band Broken Social Scene, and they’ve truly made the song their own. It’s got a whole new, different kind of desperation about it. Slow, rough around the edges, like a bad hangover after a worse breakup. This one almost hits too close to home.

 

Have you heard any other covers of this great song you’d like to share? Which covers do you feel worked better than others? Should the song have just been left alone out of respect for Curtis? Let me know what you think! For now, keep enjoying the music.