Top Five on Friday: New

Top 5 songs that come to mind when you see the word “New”

 First, a reminder that all musical “Top 5 on Fridays” come from The Music Memoirs.
1. “Settle Down” by No Doubt Because it’s their new single from their new album. It’s a fun little single but a boring album. As Meredith put it, this song didn’t “wow” her.
2. “Finally Found You” be Enrique Iglesias Also a new song. And of all the late ’90s/early millennium musicians to make comebacks of sorts, Enrique is my favorite.
3. “The Killing Type” by Amanda Palmer Also a new song from a new album–Theatre Is Evil–that, unlike No Doubt’s, isn’t boring. It’s actually amazing and her best.
4. “New Zealand” by Amanda Palmer Not new, but it’s about New Zealand and is featured on Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under. It’s a cute little song on a ukulele dedicated to, obviously, New Zealand. It was written after someone mentioned “Map of Tasmania” and wanted to know where New Zealand’s song was. So, here it is.
5. “Ceremony” by New Order Well, any New Order, really. “Ceremony” is just especially badass and very fitting for a Saturday afternoon in December, don’t you think?

Friday Five: Bookish

  1. What’s your favorite book you’ve had read to you? I don’t know about whole books, but I’ve been to some lovely poetry readings. Stacy Waite is among the best at readings I’ve ever seen. Lori Jakiela, Jan Beatty, and Gerald Locklin all also come to mind.
  2. What book (or series of books) would you like to see turned into a film? Love Is a Mixtape even though it’s so sad I’ll probably throw up.
  3. We often complain about movies not being as good as the books upon which they are based, but what’s a movie that was as good as (or better than) its book? The only one I can think of is A Walk to Remember. They’re very different, but I remember liking the way the movie did the romance better.
  4. Songs often take us back to specific times in our lives, or remind us of specific people. What book does that for you, and what’s the explanation? The fifth and seventh Harry Potter remind me of the summers I read them, especially with the group trip to buy Deathly Hallows. The T. S. Eliot book I have reminds me of the massive book-buying spree Paul and I went on right after New Years’. We both wanted it and decided to share custody. A lot of books remind me of when I bought them with him at Webster’s in State College. All the ones he ever letter me borrow will probably remind me of him. Jakiela’s books will always remind me of her, obviously, and college.
  5. What book do you know well enough to quote from once in a while? Harry Potter! And A Christmas Carol.

Friday Five: Where to Go

  1. Where do you go for a great cup of coffee or tea? I’m a Starbucks fan until I explore around my apartment or even Pittsburgh more. I’ve spotted lots of neat little tea rooms I’d like to try. In the meantime, anyone who can make a nice chai is good for me.
  2. Where do you go for a great doughnut? Krispy Kreme or Sheetz, who is making their own donuts there and had this amazing orange creamsicle donut that blew my mind.
  3. Where do you go for a great sandwich? Sheetz. MTO! I’m not huge on sandwiches. I like them, but I’m no expert on who has the best. However, Primanti Bros. is a local staple. In fact, Emma Watson and Jimmy Fallon recently discussed it.
  4. Where do you go for a great bowl of soup? Nguyen’s in Uniontown! I’m in love with thier miso soup. Also, though, Coakley’s out in New Cumberland has some amazing cream of potato. For a more generic and likely not homemade soup, Olive Garden does a good wedding.
  5. Where do you go for a great post-midnight snack? Taco Bell.

Friday Five: Strong

I fell behind, but I want to go ahead and tackle my overdue weekly memes. They’re good for the brain.

  1. Who is physically the strongest person you know? Probably my dad. He’s big and was in the army.
  2. What unpleasantly strong aroma have you recently experienced? Farts.
  3. Many over-the-counter medications come in “extra strength” varieties. What’s something in your life that doesn’t but should? Every food I eat for lunch so I stay full longer and am not already hungry for dinner before 3 PM…after I ate between 11 and 12.
  4. When times are rough, what’s most effective at boosting your inner strength? Paul and Terra. I think I take it for granted sometimes, especially if I’m upset with him over something, but Paul is probably the most supportive person I have in my life. It’s not that other people aren’t–it’s just that he’s my personal cheerleader. He tells me all the time, whether I need to hear it or not, that I’m smart and pretty and wonderful. He’s there for me, and without him, I might be in a legitimate depression right now. He believes in me when no one else does, and he gets excited over things like promotions and publications on a level matched only by my mother. Terra provides a more friend-like version of that support, plus she’s there if things are hard with Paul, even if her only pick-me-up is listening to me bitch.
  5. What’s your favorite song whose title or lyrics contains the word strong“Don’t Dream It, Be It” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Remember when Dr. Scott says “I’ve got to be strong/And try to hang on”? That’s a generic line, but we can all relate to it. Besides, “Don’t dream it, be it” has got to be some of the best life advice that’s applicable to everyone.

Top Five on Friday: Beach

Top 5 Songs that come to mind when you see this picture

You know, I made whole playlists for my trip to Delaware with Paul and his family and never listened to any of them. Story of my life. I think I just liked the comfort of knowing I had family-friendly playlists that were (mostly) beach-related.

1. “I Get Wet” by Andrew WK Sexual implications aside, it’s a huge wave, dude. Besides, this is a great, aggressive party song–as are most of Andrew WK’s songs. Sadly, I left it out of my vacation playlist.

2. “Summer” by MMOTHS “Summer” isn’t aggressive at all, and this image to me is aggressive, but it also makes me think of summer. “Summer” is a light, summery song–dark lyrics aside (“You make me feel nothing”). I think MMOTHS went to the Morrissey School of Songwriting.

3. “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure Those riffs are pretty epic (they also completely changed my life–ask my mom how many times I insisted on playing her Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me cassette in her car and she’ll probably tell you it’s her only regret about getting me to fall in love with The Cure). It’s also a pretty summery song, plus all the water imagery: “twisting through the water,” “alone above a raging sea/That stole the only girl I loved/Drowned her deep inside of me.”

4. “The Tide Is High” by Blondie Sorry I’m such a cliche, guys. Aside from the obvious, though, those tropical beats! The steel drums! The overall Balearic sound!

5. “At the Bottom of Everything” by Bright Eyes The intro is a whole narrated story about a plane crashing over the ocean. The video shows the most fun ocean plane crash ever. Still, it’s a nice song (and it’s got some great lines and themes of challenging norms and being free and all that fun free spirit shit).

Friday Five: Uncanny

  1. Who has an uncanny knack for knowing what you’re thinking? Paul and Terra. Naturally, being my boyfriend and the man I have spoken to every single day for two years, Paul knows me better than an anyone. I often feel misunderstood (this came up again very recently and don’t worry, I’m gonna talk about it at length later), but he’s the closest I’ve come to someone completely getting me. The only misfires are when he thinks I’m mad at him, which is complicated by me actually meaning it when I say, “I’m fine.” Terra’s pretty close, too, but just a tiny bit off sometimes. She does get what makes me tick and why and can often relate.
  2. Who has the uncanny ability to show up at exactly the wrong time? Fortunately, I can’t think of anyone.
  3. Who has an uncanny understanding of (or sensitivity toward) people upon first meeting them? I kind of do. If I listened to some of my first impressions from the start, it would save me lots of trouble.
  4. Who has an uncanny sense of what to do in a difficult situation? I guess my mom, being a mom and all.
  5. Who has an uncanny awareness of what’s going on in everyone else’s life? Terra and Marion seem to always be able to find out a lot, I think because people tell them both a lot.

Superiority

Criticism is strange. We all face it, and we all give it. Apparently, my statement about good writers vs. smart-sounding people on Twitter reeked of superiority, and as a lover of art (but not as a writer, I guess), I should understand the work that goes into these things.

I do understand the amount of time and work people put into their various projects. My comment wasn’t undermining that, and it wasn’t implying that I’m an amazing writer, either. It wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig at anyone. It was simply a statement I consider to be a universal truth–a term that was then hurled back mockingly at me–about the quality and purpose of writing.

The amount of time and passion someone puts into something isn’t the same as the quality of the end product, and time and passion don’t give anyone a free pass from criticism. Shit, we’ve built an entire culture around criticism. One tweet on the world wide web is nothing compared to entire websites dedicated to criticizing Twilight alone, and I’m sure others exist for 50 Shades of Grey. The writers of both series put a lot of time and work into their books and I’m sure even on a minuscule level the criticism they get does hurt. Poor quality and problematic themes shouldn’t be ignored because someone put a lot of time in something. If I spend a long time captioning or transcribing a show at work but the quality was terrible, my bosses wouldn’t say, “Oh, well, this isn’t acceptable to air on television, but you put a lot of time and hard work into it so that’s okay.” I’d receive a list of things I did wrong, how to correct them, and expectations to do better.

The same applies to everything–music, movies, TV, maybe even small-scale Tweets and Facebook statuses. Nearly everything takes time and effort, but this isn’t an “A for effort” world. Just in the past few weeks, the internet has shamed a little old lady who tried to restore a painting and “botched” it instead (point one: I feel bad for her! Point two: Some people like the new version better. I don’t, but hey!). We’ve even managed to make criticism personal with people like Perez Hilton dissecting celebrities and telling people who’s cool and who’s not. TV shows and magazines are dedicated to discussing what people (read: women) wear and whether or not it looked good on them (insert rant on the bullshit of the fashion industry here). Clothes take time and effort to make. Are fashion critics exhibiting some form of superiority, then, when saying things look like trash? As lovers of fashion, they should understand the time and work that went into those clothes.

Reality TV is, in a sense, built on this premise. We have Project Runway, Craft Wars, all those cooking competitions and other shows whose names I don’t know because I do not now and will not anytime soon have cable–willingly.

What about the superiority laden in jokes about my own writing? If my Tweet is full of superiority, then so is every joke about me being a writer–“Here, you write this list of songs we want played at karaoke. You’re the writer.” “Oh, that’s right, you know so much about music because you write for that music blog.” “You’ll never get a job with that degree.”

The problem doesn’t seem to be criticism itself–it’s selective criticism, a realm of acceptable criticism. Naturally, hypocrisy is a big part of this (“you can dish it out, but you can’t take it”). One generic comment about pretentious writers? Bad. All these other things I’ve mentioned–the websites, the TV shows, the professional critics? Good, or at least okay.

The Beginning

I’m gonna try to write this in 20 minutes. I’ll consider it a challenge in brevity and skill. GO!

We need to go back to the beginning. The beginning is not Nemacolin. The beginning is not approximately a month prior, when I was frustrated and tweeted that no one cared about my college graduation. The beginning is last May.

Nolan went to China for a few weeks to study abroad. Things were so rosy then that Brett wanted to come in from his hometown a few hours away (between home and State College, actually) just to hang out, even while Nolan was gone. Somehow, likely due to class and work schedules, Marissa and I ended up being the only two to go out with him. We met at my parents’ house and Marissa drove to Pittsburgh, where we had a nice dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and went to some local hipster bars. We started at the Brillobox, which ended up being closed, and made our way to Shadowlounge, which I really liked. Throw in some silly encounters with cab drivers in between and we were having a good time.

A few days before I left for graduation and vacation with Paul, I tweeted, “Some people are good writers. Some people are good at stringing words together that sound smart.” It’s a general thought, and I think people do both–I think good writers get pretentious and try to sound intelligent to impress, and I think people who sound (and really are) intelligent are capable of producing quality writing. Brett interpreted the statement as a passive-aggressive insult to his new blog about living in California (why does Twitter keep getting me in trouble? At least I’m not being a complete racist), despite me saying otherwise, and used it as an opportunity to attack me for everything I’ve said and done–and apparently not said and done–not just from this May on but from last May at Shadowlounge, perhaps earlier. In retrospect, I think he was gradually getting more and more angry and saw an opportunity to snap, whether he was looking for it or not. Only then in texts was I told exactly what I’ve done.

Allegedly, the night we went to Shadowlounge, I referred to him as “the boy in the bed.” If I really did, this was super shitty of me. However, I have no memory of this. It happened over a year ago now–getting close to the year-and-a-half mark–and we were both drinking. I apologized to him anyway but explained that I didn’t remember. In retrospect, I think my faulty memory in this and other incidents is interpreted as denial.

But in retrospect, I’m also not convinced I actually said that. I believe that’s what was heard, but I don’t believe that’s what I said. When he quoted the statement back to me, I was immediately shocked and didn’t blame him for being upset about it this whole time. “That doesn’t sound like something I’d say,” I thought. And then I kept thinking that–“That doesn’t sound like something I’d say.” If this was heard in Shadowlounge, it was a loud, crowded bar after we’d had a few drinks and spoke to a slam poet, who I do remember as being a bit brazen herself. Maybe I was misheard. Maybe I repeated something the slam poet said.

Allegedly, I’ve also mentioned ex-boyfriends. I do remember doing this on occasion but only in passing and never as an extended story or conversation. In fact, I try to avoid the subject of ex-boyfriends because I know it’s dicey (yet my past escapades, which are admittedly tame, are okay, as are references to when he first lost his “mouth virginity,” as is asking Paul on every encounter, “Did she blow you yet?”) This is apparently what damaged their relationship. Again, I apologized anyway. I was initially told my apologies were truly appreciated and things were looking good for a resolution, but somehow they degraded to the point where I was told I hadn’t apologized and we cut ties.

I don’t like the amount of blame placed on me (who would?). Maybe I said things I shouldn’t have several months to a year ago, but ignoring them only to bring them up now and use them as leverage against me by saying the things said and done to me in May were brought on by long-held grudges is unfair. “Hey, Janelle, could you please stop bringing that up?” would’ve sufficed from the start (yet I’m the one criticized for not speaking up when I got hurt). Furthermore, my words are only part of the problem. We choose how we react to things. I don’t know what happened, but I know what it looks like–the past is too much to handle and brief mentions of names led to arguments. If something I say reflects poorly on someone, as shitty as I may be for that, those words still trace back to others’ actions or statements that reflect just as poorly. I guess my point is “don’t shoot the messenger.” Let’s say Terra, for example, finds out Paul had many ex-girlfriends he cheated on, she tells me, I get uncomfortable and wonder if I can trust him, and it causes a fight. Naturally, Terra’s statements are definitely part of the problem, but everything would’ve been fine if Paul was never a cheating bastard in the first place.

A lot more was said about a lot of other things. In short: I’m playing the victim, I’m being childish, I treat my non-heterosexual friends as props, my writing tweet was full of superiority, all groups of friends have favorites and being bothered by it is a sign of self-conciousness, the statements I’ve been hurt by were just jokes and thus I shouldn’t be hurt by them, I actually was never happy for any of my friends who graduated this year, and I just want attention. I think that about sums it up, but I’ve past my 20-minute limit and have failed my own challenges. I’ll have more to say on the subject tomorrow but hopefully less than I had to say on this one.

Final State College

I got one last visit to State College in before graduation–one last weekend I could spend there with Paul, since the trip for graduation included his whole family (and he has five siblings). Except not really because the guy taking his room had already moved in thanks to pesky ending leases.

I did my usual drive up right after work, get Paul’s keys from him at work, hang out at the apartment until I had to pick him up from work. I tried to keep the visit a surprise. My original plan was to do a full surprise for his birthday, as in show up completely unannounced, but I ended up having to move the weekend of his birthday. With new roommate, Ugo, moving in, I had to do some actual coordinating to make sure he (and current roommate Ryun) were okay with me visiting, especially since Paul’s stuff, including his bed, was in the middle of the living room. All of it.

By the way, Ugo is a rapper. I like him–both musically and as a person. I didn’t talk to him much and he is a walking State College stereotype, but he’s cool. He came home in the middle of the night drunk, ate some cereal, woke up late for work the following afternoon, and left wearing sunglasses still inside on what was likely an overcast day. I overheard him reciting Kanye: “Sunglasses and Advil/Last night was mad real.”

Like the rest of my weekends the past few months, this one blurs together and, aside from dealing with sleeping in the middle of the living room, having zero privacy, and Ugo, was unremarkable. I was nearly broke from having just moved, so outings were minimal. We went back to the Waffle Shop and tried some awesome little fast-food Japanese place we discovered because I really, really wanted some cucumber rolls and miso soup. Lately, we’ve just kind of been hanging out, and I like that. It’s kind of like when we were first dating and he was saving his money for the semester and I was freelancing, so neither of us had spending money–we almost ever went out and stuck mostly at someone’s house watching movies or even just talking, and it was nice. We learned from the start not to base everything around food or spending money, one of the advantages being then when we finally could go out, it was like, “Oh, my God, we’re on a date!” We’re reaching that stage again.

Then I got to go home and get ready for his graduation and vacation, plus a little sideshow where the shit with Brett hit the fan, which shall (unfortunately) likely be a tale in many parts. A lot happened, a lot was said, and I have a lot to say about it. Not to mention that unless something else comes up, whenever I finish talking about it is the end of talking about it. I need to sit down and write about it to sort my head out and deal, but after that, in the words of Terra and Dom, NO MO.

Friday Five: Uncreative

  1. What was in yesterday’s mail? I haven’t gotten any mail since Thursday. Then it was a bill from management, an electric bill, and the internet bill. I’m an adult now! When I went to my parents’ place for the weekend, I got a bunch of junk mail.
  2. What are the most fun and least fun items on your to-do list for the weekend? Most fun would’ve been Run for Your Lives and facetime with Paul. Least fun was the weekly InYourSpeakers staff call.
  3. What are you running out of? Food! Mostly yogurt, quick boxed dinners, milk, and microwave dinners for my lunch at work.
  4. What gives you peace? Relaxing with Paul and coming home to my own apartment. And writing.
  5. What are the best and worst things about YouTube? Best–the creativity and connectedness it promotes. Worst–the extreme negativity in some of the comments.