Friday, January 30, 2009

Break-up songs

Today, as I was doing laundry I was listening to an episode of This American Life called "Break-up" (This American Life is my favorite NPR show. If you don't listen to it, I highly recommend it. My favorite story ever is on this show. Fast forward to 40:15. You won't regret it.)

Anyway, one segment was about what makes a good tragic love song. One woman, Starly Kine, talks about how, after her boyfriend dumped her (isn't dumped such a terrible word?) , she decided to write a break-up song. She wanted to do it right so she consulted Phil Collins and some other pop song writers. During the segment she plays parts of popular love songs and then talks about them. One of the key ingredients for a good song, she says, is extreme corniness. This is because "there's nothing strained or subtle about being crushed by the person you care most about in the world. it's big and gawdy. And it only makes sense that the songs about it are too." Phil Collins says his lyrics aren't intellectual or really very poetic as much as they are blunt. He says you go wrong if you try to too hard. It's supposed to be sort of raw and unmanageable. Don't think too hard about the words, he says, just write what you feel.

For example, there was a guy who got drunk and shot up his girlfriend's car. After he was sentenced the judge asked him if he learned anything from his experience and the guy said yeah, "You can't make a woman love you if she don't." A songwriter read about it in the paper and that's where this song came from(fastforward to 1:15). Perfect break-up song line. I never really liked this song, but now I feel it is significant and, somehow, valuable.

Because things are corny they are often dismissed as cheap. This is not true. Things are corny because they are common; people break up every day. Just because it happens so often does not mean it loses value with the repetition. Or at least, it shouldn't.

Kine cited "Against All Odds," which I have courteously embedded in this blog for you, as her ultimate break up song. It is corny. But I have to say, that I have been singing it to Soapy all day long. Because, even though I never actually had a bad break up, I imagine that if I had, this song would have been my anthem. In fact, I was imagining what I would listen to if Chris ever left me for a fancy touring bike half my age, and I am pretty sure I would listen to this song a lot--right after I torched all his clothes.

I hereby embrace all corniness. Feel free to confess your own favorite tragic love songs.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gift giving: The dilemma of January 27th

I love giving presents. Love love love it. Going shopping for myself for long periods of time gives me a headache (don't get me wrong I love having STUFF I just hate the process); however, if I am shopping for other people I can spend days examining every item in every store in every local mall. It makes me happy. Some day, when I have super amounts of money I will make that a hobby. I will just give gifts to every one.

There are three problems with this love of giving though. I will list them for you:

1. I tend to over-spend on gifts in ways I would NEVER over-spend on other things. (For example, I never buy single serving yogurt cups more expensive than 33 cents each. It is a rule I haven't broken for the last three years. But I will easily buy you a snow globe for fifteen dollars. This brings us to the second problem...)

2. I am really bad at picking out gifts. My family has a history of doing this. It's not the regular problem buying things for people that I would like to receive---the problem is I buy novelties for people-- stuff no one likes. I don't know why. I think what goes through my head is something like "Oh, a USB beverage chiller! Becky would never buy that for herself! I better get it for her!" In my own defense, I would like to say that I have never bought anyone a snow globe and I am getting a lot better at choosing gifts. Let's remember the present I picked out for Alison that she liked enough to read twice (thanks to Bridget for recommending it on her blog).

3. The last problem is it is really hard to give a person a present when he or she expects it and it is supposed to somehow quantify my love for the him or her. For example, Father's Day is a hard one for me. I am supposed to pick out some sort of gift for my father that expresses how grateful I am for him giving me life, providing for me, making endless sacrifices for me, being as sad as I was when I didn't make the basketball team, and teaching me how to be polite and friendly even when you don't like someone... How is a tie considered appropriate for Father's Day? It seems more insulting than anything else. There is no good Father's Day gift! Mother's Day is the same. Billy Collins explains it pretty well here. Just don't let his introduction throw you off.

So here is why this is important now: Chris's birthday is next Tuesday, January 27th.

He's only my favorite person in the world (that's a lie, he's in a contest with Soapy but she was so whiny today that he has temporarily drawn ahead). I am supposed to be celebrating his birth and somehow I need to find a gift that shows him how much he means to me. Also, I am doing this on a law student family budget, or in other words-- something hand made. AND Valentine's Day is less than a month away!

I have one pretty okay idea...but if you have any good ones feel free to let me know.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Blog Must Go On

Well---we are back from vacation, the house is clean, Chris is sleeping, and the baby is contentedly chewing on some trash so it is time to blog.

I could write about how fun it was to see family,the joys of traveling with a teething infant, the Lewises' new house, Chris chopping wood, all the sweet loot we brought home, my Mom's greenhouse, Bryan and Katie's awesome home-made presents, the countless sightings of Nathan's underarmour, visiting Matt and Laura and getting creamed at Wii, Erik's wedding plans, my awesome new haircut, or a million other things.

But instead, this is what I want to write about: The Red Carpet Club Lounge.

Chris's father got us tickets on United for Christmas. Not only was this the best Christmas present ever, but he also got us access to the Red Carpet Club Lounge.

The Red Carpet Club is the Tasty Life. It is like not being in an airport, except you still are in an airport. We meandered into one in the Chicago Airport and we never wanted to leave.

First I must confess though, there is no red carpet. That is my one disappointment. It was gray. Still there were tons of soft leather chairs--some filled with wealthy looking people in expensive clothes. There were no lines or annoyed looking people. No one yelling in my ear to not leave my bags unattended. They had a bar, which I coolly patronized for all-I-could-drink cranberry juice. AND There were so many little treats. AND you could have as many of them as you wanted. Not just trail mix either. No, we are talking Ghiradelli chocolates, brownies, fun little cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, and an endless fountain of KitKats. (note: KitKats are an interesting choice. It was the only cheap thing there. You would think this would diminish the experience---like a kazoo thrown into a philharmonic orchestra. However, I think it just shows the enduring wisdom of the Lounge Creator. KitKats are the best candy bar ever. My favorite. Also, the wrappers are red. Perhaps this is to make up for the lack of red carpet. Who knows?)

I went to the bathroom to change Soapy and other mothers commented on her awesomeness and related their own motherhood stories. This always happens, but unlike the stories that I usually hear in places like ordinary airport bathrooms, their stories went something like this: "Oh yes, I remember when I took little Leslie on his first trip to Paris" or "Little Veronica had a terrible time traveling, that is why I always bring two nurses to take care of her" or "Oh, little Maximus just started teething too. He has a teething ring he just can't do without. By the way, it's made out of diamonds." This is a new and wonderful world.

Here is an actual photograph of the Red Carpet Lounge.

Anyway, all I can say is, I love you, United Red Carpet Club Lounge. Never Change. Have a great Summer.