Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I believe in music again

One of my random concerns about life is that my generation doesn't have anything to be remembered by. We're not WWII vets, we're not hippies fighting the system, we didn't invent disco. We're the fat generation that worries about people in turbans. We don't even have a defining musical genre. (Trust me ... I went to a 90s party once and the musical/costume planning was actually hard. I grew up in the 90s!) So I've been hopefully waiting for something to turn our generation around.

In my pensive, needless worrying, it was a shocking and pleasant surprise to fall head-over-heels for my newest girl crush. Meet Florence:

Her videos are interesting. She's different. She's immensely catchy. She's beautiful. She's my age. (So not only is she hope for my generation ... I want to be her.) She's incredibly talented. I mean i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y talented. I can appreciate all kinds of music as long as you can tell the musicians are completely into their work, but Florence is a different story.

She's even good, uncut, raw, in the park.

I'm obviously, unhealthily obsessed with her, but she gives me hope that music for my age is not completely dead. My mom thinks she sounds like a mix of women from the generations of yore. I mean she is reminiscent of 10,000 Maniacs, The Cranberries, Fiona Apple, etc. but all music is influenced by past music. Whoever Florence is channeling, she's doing it right.

And although I sometimes worry about that fact that I'm now in my mid-20s and I'm getting older, I'm going to ride the coattails of this generation if we're associated with this kind of music.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why shopping before noon is never a good idea (... and why I'm the worst blogger ever)

This morning I woke up at 6:45 as usual. I groggily started the coffee, jumped in the shower and was getting ready to leave for work when my phone rang. The kid I work one-on-one with was not going to be at school today. Score! A bonus, bonus day off from work. (We had a snow day yesterday.) Well, I was already up and the coffee was already flowing through my veins, so no going back to bed for me.

After another cup of joe, the news cycle on TV was starting to repeat itself so I decided I should probably get out of the house and get my usual afternoon errands done. Bad. Idea.

My first clue should have been the radio. Every station I would normally listen to was only airing music that was popular the year I was born. Listen, there was very little good 80s music, there's no need to relive it now simply because time has technically made it retro. No more "classics" please!

I could live with the crappy music, but my second mistake was entering the super Wal-Mart. (I know ... never a good idea anyway.) I just needed a few toiletries and some Christmas cards, but as usual, it's impossible to get out of the store in a timely manner. I was quick to pick up some face wash and shaving cream, but then I had to enter the daunting special Christmas section.

First of all, it takes forever to get from one side of the mega-mart  to the other, but lets add in all the senior citizens doing their shopping. The aisles of Wal-Mart are huge. Three normal sized people should be able to walk side-by-side. Of course, that never happens. But lets talk about the fact that I got stuck behind two slow-moving women who could have been my great-grandmother. As I slowed down my pace, I looked around. EVERYONE IN THE STORE WAS THEIR AGE! Not a person my age in sight. Not a middle-aged person in sight. Only the fogies.

(Don't think I hate old people. I just hate getting stuck behind them - walking, driving, you name it. I'm on a mission. I'm not interested in spending more time than I have to in Wal-Mart.)

So after being stuck behind the snails, I finally made it to the Christmas section. Now don't let these aisles fool you. They're brightly colored and festive in the plastic way, but inside they are a black hole of everything wrong with Christmas. People bumping into each other, hovering over shoulders, piles of shit falling over.

Now, I am very picky about cards and I will take my time choosing the perfect one. I think they say a lot about you. But when there is an obese 90-year-old woman behind you, beeping in her scooter, it's hard to make the perfect pick. So if you get a Christmas card from me this year and you don't like it, blame the fat-ass in the Hover-Round.

(By the way ... if you haven't ever peeked at People of Wal-Mart, do yourself a favor. You can't help but laugh ... and wonder where the hell these people come from.)

I finally make a choice on the cards, run to the nearest checkout and what do I find? I'm stuck behind a stay-at-home mom stocking up on Christmas presents and trying to understand how to use the debit card machine. UGH! WHY? WHY? WHY?

Well if that wasn't enough, I made the mistake of going to Target to search for one more thing I couldn't find. It was just the same. Old people and moms standing in my way. I was done. It was time to come home.

So what have I learned here? Don't shop before noon. Most people who like to get in and out of the caverns of super-stores are at work or school. On that next rare occasion I am not working or sleeping in, I will certainly just stay home.

*On a side note, I have obviously been slacking on keeping up with my blog. I'm hoping this will hold me over for a few days, but inspire me to stay more on top of it. It is the Christmas season, I'm sure I will have plenty more to bitch about and hopefully a great deal more to be thankful about.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why you should stop hatin' on country music

Growing up in Maine, I've been exposed to country music for as long as I can remember. I'm sure most people are ... I'm just saying, I heard it A LOT. Being groomed for life in a hippie shack filled with folk music and incense, that ole country music was always a no-no in my canon. But the more I heard it, the more I secretly enjoyed it.

And at the ripe old age of 23, I'm admitting it: I like country music. Just like all other genres, it's not all great. But it has its merits.

First of all, it's catchy. You can't help but remember Conway Twitty crooning "Hello Darlin" or The Dixie Chicks wailing "Not Ready to Make Nice". There really is a variety of country music, despite the old "my dog died and my wife left me" adage.

And here is where I'd like to take a moment to address the folk-rock hipsters of the world. If you like Old Crowe Medicine Show, if you were "influenced" by Johnny Cash, if you cover Bob Dylan in an espresso cafe, if you just can't get enough Bluegrass ... you should really stop shitting on country music. It's all the same influence: it's the same rhythms, the same tone, the same tempo. Swing your cowboy boots off your high-horse and embrace the fact that you and the hometown redneck can relate to some music.

Beyond being relatable to hipster music, country music is relatable to life in general. I enjoy making it rain when Weezy tells me to "clap your hands if you got a bank roll" just as much as anybody else, but come on. I don't really have a bank roll. Lets do a quick comparison of lyrics.

The shit on pop radio:

"Girl I keep it gangsta, poppin bottles at the crib
This is how we live, every single night
Take that bottle to the head, and let me see you fly."

- 'Like a G6' Far East Movement

The shit on country radio:

"I know I said I wouldn't miss you
But now I'm saying I'm a fool
You're on the feel good side of leaving
And I'm the backside of a mule."

- 'Come Back Song' Darius Rucker 

I'll say this much. I just found out what a G6 is and I don't pop bottles at the crib, but I know what ole Darius is talking about.

And even if you're still not convinced it's not so bad, let me remind you of this: embracing country music expands your radio options 10 fold, especially if you live in Central Maine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Tuesdays are the worst

I've heard plenty of bitching about why Monday sucks (and it does a little) but lets get real: Tuesday is the day to hate on. No more "case of the Mondays" crap. Tuesday is the worst day ever. Let me break it down for you:

Monday: OK, so your weekend's over. Lame. But you know what? At least it's the start of something. Although Monday usually means no sleeping in, no late-night drinking, and an end to some personal time, at least it's a fresh start to a new week. Rise and shine: It's Monday!

Ha! I wish.
Wednesday: Wednesday, or "hump day," actually has quite a few redeeming qualities. Many of them are to my personal benefit, but this blog is about what I think, right? First of all, I only work at the pre-school Monday -Thursday, so Wednesday means I've almost made it through the week. (As for a regular person's week, it's at least a halfway marker.) Plus, I may be the only person in America to get paid on Wednesdays, so that's also a plus. 

But beyond work and money, Wednesday has some redeeming social qualities as well. Before I worked at 7:45 a.m., Wednesday was my favorite night at the bar - especially if Woodman's was having a good open mic night. Not to mention my favorite TV show ever airs on Wednesdays. If you haven't seen 'Modern Family', do yourself a favor and watch an episode or two. Or the whole season, really. 

Thursday: Obvious advantages to Thursday. 1: It's almost Friday. 2: It's the ultimate socially-acceptable weekday to have a few beers. "Thirsty Thursday?" Yes, please.

Friday: Come on. It's Friday. It's time for a little happy dance as you leave work or school. I just started waiting tables at a restaurant in Bangor and I have to work Friday and Saturday, but I still get a little excited knowing it's Friday.

Saturday: The most superior day of the week. You have the whole day to enjoy, whether it's travel, much-needed house cleaning, visits with friends and family, or nothing at all. The best part of Saturday is knowing you have another whole day to relax after whatever shenanigans you decide upon.

Sunday: I have to admit that Sunday is not my favorite day of the week, but at least it's not Tuesday. I do enjoy the absolute do-nothing Sundays and it is my only full day off in the week. Sunday is fun, but there's always that nagging feeling of the weekend being over. However, if you live with my roommates, which I do, you can understand some other perks of Sunday. Like NFL, for example. Oh, and NFL.

I still don't really understand how football works, but I'm learning. The extent of my football knowledge is that Randy Moss is a pompous jerk and I love him. He used to play for the patriots, he went to the Vikings, they said "buh-bye!" and now he plays for the Titans, which I didn't even know was a team.

So what have we learned here? Tuesday has absolutely no redeeming qualities. None. No relaxing. No drinking. No start fresh attitude. It didn't even appear on my list. Why? Because Tuesday is the worst. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I love canning food

I feel as I get older, I find myself doing "old people" things. Who blows off going to the bar to do a crossword puzzle, make dinner and go to bed at 9 o'clock? Oh wait I do that now. (Only on weekdays, though. I'm not that lame ... yet.)

Either way, this evening I was reminded of an "old person" hobby I have - canning food. I had totally forgot about my stash of fruit and veggies hiding away in the kitchen cabinet until I had a craving for something sweet and spotted my homemade canned peaches. I hadn't tried that batch yet and I was pleasantly surprised with myself when I did.

Andrew gorging on peaches. You can tell how happy he is to pose for me.
This summer, I finally had the room and time to have a garden. I shared duties with one of my roommates, so I won't take all the credit for making it grow, but it GREW. By July we were pulling 5 to 6 cucumbers a day. We had pounds of green beans and zucchini and squash big enough for the state fair. Needless to say, we had more vegetables than we knew what to do with.

My solution: buying a canner.

Living with three boys who worked a regular 9-5 all summer, and working all night shifts myself, I had plenty of time during the day to try out my canning skills. I canned squash and blackberries. I tried my hand at jam. I made pickles, dilly beans, and spiced peaches. Some of it was awesome (the peaches) some of it was not so hot (the jam). Overall though, great success!

An array from the canned goods shelf.
The whole time I pickled cucumbers, I hummed Greg Brown's song "Canned Goods" - a favorite of my mother's and begrudgingly, now one of my own. Although I didn't quite feel like a grandma, I understood where ole Greggers was coming from when he sang:

"Ah she's got magic in her - you know what I mean
She puts the sun and the rain in with her green beans ...

You can taste a little of the summer
My grandma put it all in jars ...

What with the snow and the economy and everything
I think I'll just stay down here and eat 'til spring."

There's something extremely satisfying about eating the food you grew and preserved yourself. There's a pride in my mason jars that makes my food taste that much better because 1. I'm surprised I did it well and 2. It's totally mine.

Although I'm not really a grandma, and I didn't can nearly enough to fill a root cellar, I feel that sense of doing something traditional; something with roots; something to pass on. I'll be sure to save at least one can of dilly beans to eat this spring when the world is ready to produce again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why dressing like a slut doesn't count as a Halloween costume

Tis the season ...

Halloween is one of my favorite "holidays" on the calendar. The fall colors are in full bloom, jack 'o' lanterns dot the streets, and there's a general sense of excitement in the air. Obviously a huge part of the holiday is choosing a costume. The feeling of choosing a costume can be overwhelming. You want to be eye-catching and original, but you only have one night to make an impact. With a million choices on hand, here's what NOT to do:

Don't dress like a slut.

Wearing your bra and some angel wings doesn't count as a costume. You are not a Victoria Secret's model for a reason. I don't care how hot you are.

Wearing a skin-tight body suit with a police hat does not make you a cop. I'll give you props for actually wearing a full uniform though.

Wearing cat ears and something black and skimpy does not make you a cat. You're not kidding anyone.

Let's be real, Halloween is really meant for children. The only reason we "adults" still dress up is for an excuse to throw a party. You don't see children dressed as models or "sexy" flight attendents or playboy bunnies. If they are, their parents are not right in the head.

I've heard the excuse "it's my one night to dress slutty" a million times. Guess what? If you're dressing super slutty on Halloween, you're probably not the most conservative dresser to begin with and most of your costume probably came from your existing wardrobe. If you're dressing for the attention from a roomful of drunk guys, are you really going to want to walk-of-shame it in your underwear and some fairy wings Nov. 1? Fail. And the guy you hooked up with is probably still covered in bits and pieces of his costume as well. I can't imagine it would be that cool to wake up to a stranger still wearing his Flava Flav clock or his Jersey Shore blowout.

Choosing an adult costume should be about creativity. If you dress like a slut, you are not very creative. Take a look around the party. You're not the only one dressed as a firefighter whore.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why waitressing is actually the greatest occupation

Let me just start by saying I hate waitressing.

With that aside, let me divulge into why I shouldn't ...

I started waiting tables the summer after my senior year in high school, in a shit-hole tourist trap on the bay in Belfast, Maine. It didn't take me long to figure out I was pretty good at it. I love talking to people, I'm a superior multi-tasker, and more importantly I love having a plethora of cash in my pocket (even if none of it makes it to my savings account.) Five summers later I have some epic waitress skills spread across New England.

So here I am, approaching 23 years old and I'm in the market to wait some more tables. I just took a part-time job at a pre-school and almost cried when I got my first paycheck today. I won't tell you how small it was, but let's just say a good night in a busy restaurant would have covered it. Which is exactly why as much as I don't want to wait tables anymore ... I kind of do.

Let me break down the benefits for you:
  1. The earliest I've ever had to be at work is 10:30 a.m. - that's plenty of time to get my hungover ass together - and you're usually out by the time it's socially acceptable to show up at the bar.
  2. I get to work with a gangle of servers my age who are (for the most part) working for a bigger picture. I've made some lifelong friends this way, mostly thanks to Giordano's on Martha's Vineyard.
  3. Waiting tables is pretty much recession-proof. Trust me, I've diligently been reading the classifieds.
  4. Once you've waitressed (and you're not a total idiot) you can do it anywhere.
  5. Sometimes, if you're lucky and you work in sweet locales, you get to meet famous people. My list includes Steve Carrell, Joan Rivers, and Conan O'Brien.
  6. You. Make. Money. On a busy summer night in MV or Connecticut, it wasn't unusual for me to make $200 or more in 5 or 6 hours. You might be exhausted, annoyed with every customer in the restaurant, and need a drink like never before, but let's be real - you made close to $40 an hour.
I could go on an on about the annoying parts of waitressing (rude customers, shitty tips, screaming children, stupid uniforms, etc.) but it looks like I need to make my way back into the restaurant business.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I love thrift shopping

Don't get me wrong, I love a new addition to my wardrobe as much as anyone else, but when it comes to an exciting shopping trip there is nothing that compares to thrift-shopping. It's basically a hit-or-miss visit, but when you hit, you hit it hahd. (That's 'hard' in a Maine accent. It makes more of an impact when you say it.)

I guess I'm loving-up on second-hand so much right now because I just made the most epic Goodwill purchase. Take a glance at my new bike:

From what I can tell from my internet research and bike enthusiast friends, it's a mid-1970s Columbia road bike in perfect condition. 50 bucks. Not a scratch on her. Even the tires are original and in fairly good shape. (I put a little air in them today and was set to go.) So thanks to my good friend Mike Powers, who convinced me to buy it or he would, I now have what he has deemed "the hippest bike in Orono." Hipsters of Maine, turn your heads as I ride by your skinny-jeaned asses.

Beeming over my newest investment, I started to think about what else I've snatched up from second-hand stores.

Here's my coffee maker I bought for a quarter at the Orono Thrift Shop:

She's no beaut, but she works. And seriously ... it cost a quarter.

Here's my giant cast-iron pot I bought at the same thrift store for 50 cents:

It's currently filled with delicious corn chowder - my favorite.

As I look around my house I can see a handful of other second-hand purchases just within armsreach. I actually have a whole bookshelf filled with used books priced between 50 cents and 4 dollars I got at an ongoing library fundraising sale this summer. I have a framed photo on my wall from Salvation Army, my endtables came used, my roommates and I will eventually start our unopened puzzle from Goodwill, and my favorite necklace in the world was rounded up at a vintage clothing store called (appropriately enough) 'Rhiannon's Vintage Clothing'.

Now I'm not saying any of this stuff is particuarlly nice. (Although some of it you'd never be able to tell it was used.) But it all has a few things in common:
1. It works
2. It was insanely cheap and
3. I like it.

I mean there's something about buying items so cheap that makes you proud. It feels like an accomplishment to tell someone "Oh, I actually bought that at Goodwill," when they mention the object in question. Not to mention, there's some kind of thrill to finding something you need/want in a store full of someone else's discards. You may look through a pile of junk all day until your gem seems to find you. Plus it just feels good to step away from the "consumerism" of the mall sometimes.

And let's be real, on a lazy Sunday afternoon (just like yesterday's inspiration to browse Goodwill), it's just fun to look.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

But why a blog?

Well mainly because I've been fighting them for so long. That and I never thought anyone would want to read the shit I ramble about anyway.

But I've given in, so read it and like it ...

Firstly, this blog is inspired by my dear friend Stephanie. I've known Stephanie for a few years now. We met while working at a restaurant in Martha's Vineyard three summers ago and it was love. I always knew Steph kept a blog, but I'm horrible at following. When I came back to the island for a few weeks this September, I started playing closer attention. Steph was an English major in college and I majored in journalism. Being the smart girl that she is, she kept reminding me ... even if you're not writing for a job yet (and I do hope I am someday) ... you need to keep writing. I'm hoping this blog keeps me doing just that. You can follow her here.

Secondly, I have a lot to bitch about. End of story.

And last but not least, the reason I've chosen 'But why?' as my blog name: I've recently begun working at a pre-school for children with behavioral issues. (Besides wanting to be a hardass journalist, my other goal is to be a teacher.) Although they need constant redirection, they still like to ask you why. But then again, most three- to five-year olds do. Since I hear it a million times a day, I thought I would use it for inspiration.