Thursday, December 15, 2011


My love for Lady Gaga was a long time coming. I mean, "Poker Face" is catchy, and I will sing it at karaoke/while playing rock band any time because I always want to yell, "I'M BLUFFIN' WITH MY MUFFIN," but, after hearing her first two albums, I wasn't thrilled, and I felt like the largeness of her character didn't match the trendy, dancey pop tunes she kept releasing. That and she just seemed to take herself so seriously. But even though she wasn't my fave, my darling Heather's love for Gaga kept me tuned in to her goings on. I saw her in concert last July, and she was pretty incredible. I mean, that woman can sing, and she can dance. And the spectacle of it all... it really was breathtaking.

Then she released "Born this Way" as a single, which I still cannot listen to without smiling like an idiot. I bought the album for 99 cents on amazon the day it was released, but, due to my devotion to indie rock music, didn't really listen to it much. I think I was on a Black Keys kick when the album came out and was feeling particularly devoted to the grunting of Dan Auerbach. 

Then she made a guest appearance on SNL in the Justin Timberlake and Andy Sambourg video, "It's not Gay if it's a Three-Way," and she, finally and forever, won me over.

Well that and the fact that, though she is actually quite a tiny woman, with the help of some big hats, huge shoes, frequent nudity, colorful wigs, overtly sexual dance moves and, apparently, a sense of humor, she is, in the truest sense of the phrase, larger than life. 

When I was in college I decided to be an opera singer because I thought I was too fat to sing on Broadway, and the opera world was (at the time) kinder to the fat folk. Opera is huge in every way. Your lover doesn't love you? Sing as loud and high as you can. Your lover loves someone else? Kill him. You and your lover can't be together? Kill yourself. The grandness, the melodrama--it fit me to a T. We all know I have lots of Feelings, duh. But sometimes I wonder if my jokes about the sheer immensity of my feelings undermine how serious they feel in my body. Like when I want a man (like REALLY want him) it feels like my whole body is caught up in the wanting: the flush in my cheeks and chest, the sleeplessness. It's like there isn't anything else in the world but the wanting. It's terrifying and kind of wonderful. Or when I think about my parents dying: my breath stops. Tears spring to my eyes instantly and I think, "How can I live if they aren't in the world?" It's almost humorous. I mean, how can anyone really function having those types of feelings right on the surface? But that's why we have opera, and that's why we have Lady Gaga.

I saw her on the cover of Vanity Fair today while in CVS, and all I could think was, "I want that hat." 

I mean, come on. That hat is AMAZING. The hugeness, the wave of the fabric, the boldness of the red. It takes my breath away a little. I look at it and I think, "I am that hat." And as I write this I am crying. I am crying about Lady Gaga's red fucking hat. 

My whole life I felt loud and huge and ridiculous. I just wanted to be smaller, quieter. I wanted to take up less space in the world. I wanted to be the kind of girl boys wanted to date, the girl who was a shell into which a man would insert his desire (*SNAP*). 

Last night I had a dream about a man I loved once. He was a quiet man; he drove a shiny car and shopped at J. Crew. He drank beer and went to a gym and had a crush on a girl at a coffee shop we used to frequent who was sweet and quiet and tiny. During the time I loved him, and he did not love me, I always felt so angry at my body for being too big, at my voice for being too loud, at my feelings for being too complicated. I thought that because I was not the kind of woman he wanted no man would ever want me. I share this because, as a result of the dream, all day I felt like my heart, my debt, my needs... it was all just too much. 

And then I saw that picture, and I thought, "I am that huge, fucking ridiculous, fucking awesome red hat."

And then I may or may not have put my paws up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kickin' It Old School

I awakened in a VERY bad mood this morning, but now feel overwhelmed by things to love. I would like to credit the amazing Sociology Holiday Party playlist I made yesterday for my mood booster as it is 3 hours of my favoritest upbeat songs, each of which makes me want to dance and laugh and cry with joy.

So here goes...

1) Do you Realize?? by the Flaming Lips.

When Elizabeth and I bought tickets for the Flaming lips earlier this year, I really had no clue who they were, but, as Elizabeth is my music twin, I knew I would love them. Which I do. But this song in particular. And when they played it at the concert every time it modulated these two confetti cannons they had on either side of the stage would shoot a crap ton of colored confetti into the audience and the rainbow light thing on the stage would light up with every color in the world and I had a contact high from the guy smoking weed the row in front of us and I was with one of my dearest friends who had bought me a canned 40 of hard lemonade (because she remembered beer hurt my tumtums) and so of course I cried for joy!!!

2) Oatmeal made with milk and honey.

I eat this for breakfast almost everyday. And it is delicious EVERY DAY.

3) Elizabeth Bowler's face.

4) My chunky belts.

Last week I was having a most difficult day, so everytime I would get sad I would remember the beautiful chunky belts I had at home. Here is a collage displaying their awesome.

When I was a child I didn't know what a collage was. And they talked about collages all the time in my Babysitter's Club books. Apparently the key to being a good babysitter is collages. Anywho, whenever I would see the word "collage" I would read it as "college" and would be very, very confused. She's going to make a college with the kids she babysits what?

5) The Beach Boys.

Who doesn't love the Beach Boys? Hitler probably. 

6) Zumba with Travis.

Actually just Travis in general. Although I really enjoy our Zumba classes. Like A LOT. 

7) Corn Tortillas.

My brother taught me how to heat up Corn Tortillas on my gas stove pretty easily, and, though they make the kitchen smell like burning, they are pretty delicious with Hummus. Or with cheese. Or with pretty much anything. 

8) The Boston Pops Version of Sleigh Ride.


I particularly love the middle part where they BREAK IT DOWN.

And that's that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Some Thoughts on my Long-Term Debts

Last night after a lovely dinner and dessert with friend Eryk and a phone conversation with my dearest Nicole Shirley, I decided I should log-in to my Sallie Mae online account. For days I'd been meaning to check it to make sure I was set with my forbearance through February and that my first full payment would be due March 14, as planned. I had to click on about 15 different links to get to the one I wanted (since the Sallie Mae website for some reason confuses me more than any other) and was finally given an outline of my current payment plan until my final month of payment in 2041. 

That's right, friends. As of right now, I will not have my student loans paid off until I am 59 years old. In addition for 14 of the 20 years I'm paying the required monthly amount, my payments will be incrementally less than I pay to rent my current apartment. 

Earlier this year I went to my nephew Matt's wedding in Colorado, and since my niece Madison is nearing college age, my family and I got into a conversation about student loan debt. It ended in me screaming at everyone and then weeping in the bathroom in the dark. 

Fifty-Nine years old. Because I wanted a Masters Degree in Voice. 

My senior year of college at the University of Redlands was one of the most terrifying years of my life. I loved that school. I loved the people there. I knew pretty much everyone in the music department and had developed some really fulfilling friendships in the philosophy department with a teacher of mine and one of her long time favorite students (I'm talking to you, Ellie Jones). The idea that I would have to leave that place was heartbreaking. My parents never forced me to move out of their house but that's what it felt like: Redlands was forcing me out into the world and I had no idea what to do. I had a Bachelor's Degree in Voice. I wanted to be an opera singer, but I suffered from debilitating stage fright and audition anxiety. I started having panic attacks at night. So I decided to go to grad school. I didn't really know how to be an opera singer, but I knew how to be a student. I wanted to live in Boston. So I auditioned for the Boston Conservatory. Because I didn't know there were other programs in Boston. Stupid, now that I think about it, but we all know thinking isn't my forte. I got into BoCo. I got my "financial aid" package, which was loans. So I took them out. And then I debated going back my second year. My brother and parents warned me about the cost, but I was too afraid to do anything else. So I took out a second year's worth of loans. I passed my orals. I had a recital. I graduated. I walked. And by this time I was so sick of singing even singing along to the radio was a chore. Maybe this isn't true. I was just so sick of listening to and critiquing my own singing voice, of trying to sound like an opera singer, of trying to teach my body good technique. I didn't want to be a singer. I just wanted to sing. Sadly it took me 6 years and $100,000 to realize this.

And here we are.

This morning, as I thought about writing this blog, I wondered why I feel compelled to share such personal things in such a public forum. I think it is because I want my life to make sense. I want to be able to write a piece and at the end have some kind of conclusion that brings me a modicum of comfort, and the writing and editing helps me to do that. But I already know where this particular blog will end. It will end with the knowledge that there isn't anything I can do but pay off the debt. Nothing. There is no one to help me pay this debt. It is just me. I borrowed that money without knowing what it would mean for my life, and now I have to pay it back. I've been graduated from the Boston Conservatory for a little over 5 years now, and I am paying for that reprieve from adulthood with my adulthood right now. Because I wanted to live in the Back Bay, because I wanted to eat at the Cheesecake Factory, and drink till I was drunk at various dive bars, I now have to budget to buy new shoes. I have to eat before I go to restaurants. I have to cancel plans with people. I have stress about birthday celebrations. This makes it sound like I have no money at all, but I do. It's just that I have to be so careful with it. And I am not good at being careful. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, truly I don't. This is something I did to myself with my own youthful thoughtlessness.

So, to quote Evita, "Where do we go from here?"

Well, when I feel sad, when I feel regret, I will just feel those things (for example the crying I am doing right now). I will allow myself to feel afraid that my past mistakes will disable me from buying a car or a house, or going back to school, or saving for retirement.

And then I will crunch numbers and I will, as I always do, make it work. I will cancel plans if I have to, I will be honest with the people I love about my struggles, and I will try over and over and over again to forgive myself.

There are things we can't take back. Things I've done and said that can never be reversed. I am a human being. I make mistakes. And I am learning to care for myself while still carrying the baggage of my past, because this is, sadly and joyfully, what every human being has to do.

So I will look at those numbers, at the physical manifestation of my melancholy, fearful, and compulsive nature, and I will make another payment. And another. And another. 

Until I'm 59. Because there isn't anything else to do.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I am not a fast reader by any means. I am actually one of the slowest readers I know. I don't read avidly and, in fact, have trouble committing to books beyond 300 pages as my attention starts to wane around page 150. I haven't read many classics. I haven't heard of many authors. In short, I am not "well read."

But I have a love affair with books. I always prefer paperback to hardback because you can break the spine and because the cover shows wear. I prefer books that fit in my jacket pocket. I love the smell of new books and the smell of old ones. You can tell how much I've loved a book by how water damaged it is. And by the dog-eared pages. I love pages. My most recent book love (Gilead) was dog-eared on almost every page and, looking at it through weepy eyes, I felt so satisfied remembering how I had loved it. I love words. I love reading quotes I've loved to people I love. I love the way words look on a page. I love the weight of books. I love the way they look in homes and on shelves. I love that when people come to my house they can look at the books on my shelves and know something about me.

I was on the bus this morning and saw so many people with e-readers. I understand they are lighter and easier to hold and read while standing up on an insanely full bus. I understand that it is cheaper to buy books on an e-reader.

But I am a tactile person. I want to sit close and hug and touch everything and everyone I love (except EQ, for whom I show love by only giving a fist bump (except for the Bachelorettes Party, about which I am still sorry)). I want to be able to spill water on my books and mark the pages, and I want them worn and broken and present. Sometimes I think about the future of the publishing industry and about the consolidation of all things human, and I feel a little lost.

I want books on my shelves. I want clutter. I want broken spines and water stains and dogeared pages and physical memories. And I hope that, if/when I have children, they will have ready access to those things as well.