The Art of a Car Ride, Pop Music + a Plea for a Celebrity Scandal

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Day 666 of quarantine. Reality is setting in. The days cascade through gratefulness, fear, empathy and what is that? Anger, I think. Healthcare workers, grocery store employees and to-go servers are heroes and offer me a rare glimpse of human interaction beyond my four walls.

Quarantine makes me nostalgic for my teen years when freedom arrived in the form of a car. The anticipation of getting my license was so severe that I failed my driver’s test twice. TWICE. I attribute the failures more to anxiety than poor driving skills, but I finally nailed it on my 3rd time and took to the roads with a Chevrolet something.

Much like right now, driving through the windy roads of a small town, with pop music blaring, was all there was to do. It’s what I’m doing every afternoon now and here’s what I’ve noticed.

“Hot Girl Bummer” is Perfection

After years of silly resistance, I now embrace weird rap. What I dig is the honesty, lack of pretense and its boasts of illegal and poor behavior. I’ve had enough of the phony positivity of Lizzo and Lovato and prefer to listen to fairy tales of promiscuity, excessive partying and girl fights. “This that throw up in your Birkin bag, hook up with someone random.” Smells like teen spirit to me.

Speaking of teen spirit, the song’s tone reminds me of Nirvana. It’s angry and funny, with a keen eye on youth’s beauty and ugliness. “F#$k you and you, and you. I hate your friends and they hate me too.” Thank you, Mr. Blackbear, now please cool it with the facial tattoos.

Kurt Cobain + My Numbers Problem

I’m bad at numbers. I have to REALLY think before I can answer the years my children were born. My oldest is easiest, it’s 2001. But every year around the beginning of April I remember that it’s Kurt Cobain’s death anniversary. The hint of spring jolts me with a whiff of alertness and I recall that spring feeling with news that Cobain died. I tend to live in the past, in my head, and the quarantine escalates my dwelling.

Driving around with nowhere to go while trying to figure out the meaning of life is exactly what I’m doing these days, exactly what I was doing when “Nevermind” was released, and what I was doing around the time Cobain died. As the April 5 anniversary came and went without much news, I realized how much has changed but how little we change. Like 1994, I’m savoring car rides, writing and awaiting a new Fiona Apple album.

Fiona Apple Reemerges

Sensing Gen Xers’ malaise, Fiona Apple sweeps in and will release her first album in eight years on April 17. To share that I’m excited is as immense an understatement as “Meghan Markle’s dull” or “Britney Spears is strange.” I count down the days until I can listen to her new album and I’m sure I’ll keep it in my car’s outdated CD player until her next album is released during my retirement.

No Celebrity News Isn’t Good News

Perhaps Beyonce, Jay Z and Solange can get into another elevator.

I’m watching the news throughout the day and so saddened, but I feel like something’s missing: the universe needs something frivolous to focus on.

Consider this a personal plea to the Gwyneths, Madonnas, Brads and Britneys to mess shite up with a scandal hot enough to avert our attention for a day or two. Divorce, a secret marriage or a disastrous elevator ride will do.  Heck, I’ll settle for a cheating scandal, rehab or an unplanned pregnancy.

A juicy celebrity scandal should be a part of their agent’s contract. Come on, they owe us one. Brad Pitt, the epitome of coolness, could take one for the team and have an Instagram live wedding to some unheard-of environmentalist. Or maybe he and Jennifer Aniston could pretend to get back together again ­– just to entertain us now that we’ve finished “Tiger King”, “Ozark” and the entire “Madmen” series for a 3rd time.

Hollywood, think about it and feel free to contact me for guidance. I will be sitting right here, unless I’m driving around thinking of alternative music.

xo

I was a strange kid.

Mascara, Food and H20: Quarantine Necessities

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This quarantine feels like a supernova pharmaceutical speedball of sedatives, uppers, and Midol. I’m jumpy from the lack of activities, then drowsy by how overwhelming it all is – often while battling a small headache. I waver between relishing being home and panicking that if this continues, I won’t have a home.

It’s not the solitude, I’m at home with five people, it’s the freaky germ awareness. I’m a messy person and I’m now cleaning with no real purpose or mission. I don’t know how to clean. I think cleaning is something you’re taught, and I never got around to that lesson in childhood, I was too busy writing love notes to Prince. Sure I can clean surfaces but scrubbing floors and toilets has always been for a biweekly housekeeper. Now it’s my job and I’m remarkably bad at it.

But hey, on the verge of the apocalypse, who cares how clean or dirty my house has been? This is the first time I’ve been home and not working in over a decade. It’s refreshing and foreign. It’s also given me a lot of time to obsess over a few thangs.

Out, damn spot.

Mascara is a Dear Friend

The world can take away the restaurants, libraries, and malls but I will stab someone with my L’Oreal wand before they take away my extra-black mascara. As my deodorant application becomes infrequent and my eyeliner has disappeared from my droopy eyelids, my mascara is applied with a heavy hand!

Perhaps I’m a thinker, not a doer.

All this time has given me so many ideas! Register for an online course, brush up on my Spanish, explore Scientology. But what I truly want to do is watch “Little Fires Everywhere,” every episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Mindhunter.” I’ve polished off more books than I can remember and haven’t gotten to that online course yet.

Fancy Frocks Get You Nowhere

Feel low? Buy a dress. Celebrating a milestone? Fetch a froufrou frock.

Dress adornment has gotten me through the highs and lows of life but wowza, all those dresses are of no use to me right now. My knowledge of chiffon, silk blends and how to iron linen is useless. You know what I need more of? Sweatpants! I’ve been alternating between two pairs for weeks.

Things I don’t Care about Anymore

The fight nobody cares about. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

I’m DESPERATE for a celebrity scandal but not the day-old donuts Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift reignited rift. Yawn. Who still cares what zonked-out Kanye West said in a 2016 rap song NOBODY heard?

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are having a baby. Who cares? Their parents and that’s about it.

Remember the college admissions scandal? It feels pretty silly to whine about the wealthy getting their kids into college while we can now complain about the privileged getting coronavirus tests WAY before the peons. Disappointing? Sure, but surprising? Come on.

Gal Godot embarrassed herself and all her celebrity pals with this literally tone-deaf “Imagine” cover. I haven’t watched anything this bad since I slogged through the first four minutes of this season’s “This Is Us.” Gadot should fire her inner voice and her celebrity pals should just fire her.

When in doubt, go to Beck.

COVID-19, Shopping, and an Inability to Act in a Crisis

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I’m extra twitchy.

Sure, I do dwell in a perpetual state of anxiety and weirdness but be forewarned, I’m acting much crazier than usual. COVID-19, coupled with my total inability to handle a crisis, has me shopping like Celine Dion and sweating like Amanda Bynes’s parents on visitor’s day.

My list of neurosis is as robust as my closet and hovering close to the top is a whammy: In a catastrophe, I’m immobilized by fear and can’t do anything other than shop, obsess and read.

White ceilings, bright overhead lights. Finally, I’m home.

Since my completely-sober Corona blackout, I’ve purchased a new wardrobe and polished off a book every other day. I don’t even know what the books have been about, I just read them until I can sleep.

Want to know what I haven’t done? Stocked up on necessities, contacted my doctor about doubling prescriptions, or sanitized my house. I’ve burrowed myself deep into a K-hole of inactivity and dealt with my fear by analyzing every word of The Weeknd’s creepy new masterpiece, shielding my eyes while watching HBO’s “The Outsider”, and wondering what Fiona Apple is doing. It’s all I know how to do.

Does Beck have a pre-existing condition? Will he be okay?

This behavior goes way back. Fresh from college, I drove across country with a male pal to move to Portland, Oregon. I had no reason to do this, no plan when I got there, and no thoughts on returning. My parents were on my back about getting a job with insurance and I just wanted to party, stalk Elliott Smith and get away from a pretentious manchild I’d been obsessing over for years.

So, to prepare for this ridiculous journey, I slept. I slept like I’d never slept before. I slept right until it was time to say my “goodbyes” and climbed into a car to travel 3,000 miles to party and stalk a new manchild. I can’t remember if I ever even wanted to go to Portland, I just didn’t know how to get out of it.

Portland-bound without a plan.

You know that part in a movie, right before someone delivers horrible news and they say, “Do you want to sit down?” That question is for people like me. People who get woozy at bad news and faint in times of turmoil. Don’t count on me in an emergency.

Some may blame it one laziness, but I think not. I’m not lazy, just crazy. I can’t even deal with this coronavirus stress by overeating because my inability to act landed me right into obesity and now I’m intermittent fasting like a millennial.

Can’t Kit-Kat may way out of this one.

For years I lived without a scale and with a false sense of comfort that I wasn’t THAT fat. Heck, I’d had three kids and could still wear all my ethereal tent dresses —how chubby could I be?

Because I also have a deep fear of doctors, I rarely had to step on a scale, and I enjoyed my make-believe land of thinness and health. But a nasty sickness landed me in the emergency room with a DEMAND that I get a doctor and lose weight. Yup, I knew I was getting fat, but I combated the problem by never stepping on a scale or going to a doctor. PERFECTO!

So, I’m going to fight Corona with everything I have: impressive clothing, an expert’s knowledge on The Weeknd, and a hunger for food after 6 p.m.

See you in the bunker! I’ll be the really well dressed hungry woman.

The 2010s + the Onset of Middle Age

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Cheers to the freaking 2010s, a decade of reality show saturation and political devastation. Ten years that left me wondering where all the poorly behaved celebrities have gone and if there are any original ideas anymore. It was a decade of sequels, reboots and trilogies that left me longing for the pantyless brouhaha of Lindsay Lohan’s youth.

Everything I know, I learned from Housewives of NYC

Thanks, TV. I’ll never leave my house again.

Who needs to leave one’s home when programs as delightful as “Mad Men,” “Veep,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and the “Housewives of NYC” are playing in your cluttered living room? The 2010s provided me with more streaming services than job changes and that’s saying A LOT. Ten years of silly superhero movies left my bloated middle-age belly full yet unsatisfied, but my TV was the coolest movie screen in town.

Adele + Anything = Coma < Facial Tattoos + Youth = Cool

Billboard’s best performing singles of the decade commenced with Kesha’s “Tik Tok” and sauntered to an end with 2019’s “Old Town Road,” both sonic gems. And while Adele wowed everyone for most of the decade, she lulled me into a coma where I was surrounded by other drips like Maroon 5, the Chainsmokers, and Shawn Mendes.

The Weeknd, Post Malone, Billie Eilish and SoundCloud freaks thrilled me with their youth, resplendent with danger, beauty and sexiness. No, I didn’t buy much of their music but respect that it’s the new alternative. I mean if I’m digging 6ix9ine, something’s gone wrong in the land of rebellion and teenage wasteland.

And really all I need is my Lana Del Rey, the best worst singer of all time. I absolutely love her.

The Royal Family: A Joke With No Punchline

Kate and Meghan: Even more boring than your in-laws.

Kate Middleton; her bearded brother; Meghan “monochrome” Markle; her yoga-teaching mother; her overweight father on the cusp of a heart attack — what do they ALL have in common? I have no idea why I even know who they are and I’m begging the world to harass a new family. I dunno, the Trumps of the Beckhams will do. Please.

I don’t care what Kate or Meghan are wearing. Here’s a spoiler for those of you who do care: Meghan’s wearing solid colors with high heels and Kate is sporting a printed dress in a chiffon-like fabric. And their faces are adorned with the pained smile that belongs to those who have sold their souls.

I don’t give one crumpet if William and Harry duke it out over high tea at Windsor Castle or what happens at any of their royal engagements. Gosh, I’m SO sick of the royal family that I actually tried and couldn’t finish watching “The Crown” because, yeah, you guessed it: I DON’T Care.

Celebrities Behaving… Well?

2010 started off just right with Lindsay Lohan doing a little time for violating probation but the rest of the decade took a depressing turn with celebrities acting okay and when they acted poorly, it was just pathetic.

Sure, Demi Lovato’s been onto the path of recovery more times than I’ve polished my resume, but that’s not newsworthy anymore. Same goes for Selena Gomez. Poor thing’s crazy, I get it, but she’s no Britney Spears coo-coo crazy, she’s snooze crazy. Wake me up when it gets bad.

What’s more boring than this pairing? YAWN.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret love child was definitely better than Chris Pratt marrying his yawner of a daughter, but still not spicy enough for me.

The college admissions scandal that shocked everyone and no one.

And while Ariana Grande’s donut lick seen around the world was sexier than her engagement to Pete Davidson, it still lacked the oomph of the ’00s. Even the worldwide outrage of the college admissions scandal left me confused, we all knew that this was happening all along, right? Did America think that every celebrity spawn was bright enough to get into NYU? Come on, this is called life and I don’t understand the outrage or surprise.

My Nuggets of Wisdom

Youth is pretty.

The 2010s firmly cemented me into middle age with a newfound understanding of humanity with all its beautiful flaws. I’ve learned some powerful lessons along the way and here are a few:

  • If someone is starting a conversation with “I don’t judge, but,” they’re ready to judge. For sure.
  • No, Jennifer Aniston doesn’t look better now than she did 20 years ago. Nobody really does and anyone who tells you that is probably lying.
  • The sequel is never better than the original.
  • There’s not one thing wrong with Adam Driver. Not. One. Damn. Thing.
  • People with facial tattoos probably hate their mother.
  • Our youth was rarely as dangerous as we paint it to be.
  • Nobody wants to listen to you explain your dreams; I wish they did, but they just don’t.
  • Married couples are often content and rarely happy. And that’s okay.
  • A bad therapist is worse than no therapist.
  • We should all go out and party more.
  • It’s always a good time to put your freaking phone DOWN.
  • “I don’t know how you do it all,” feels more like a gut punch than a warm compliment.
  • I didn’t know how much I was going to miss Lena Dunham until she went away.
  • When people don’t like you, you usually know.
  • We all need to stop peppering our conversations with the word, “honestly.” Honestly, we do.

Happy New Year, y’all!

‘You can do anything for one year’ and other fibs we tell ourselves.

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Think about it, has anyone advised you, in the midst of a damaging relationship, to just give it a year? It’s the silliest advice I’ve swallowed since I convinced myself I could learn to become attracted to an actuary named Gregor JUST because his name was Gregor, or when I assured myself I had the physical and psychological strength to zipline. Gregor, the zipline and I all had disastrous outcomes but I did make it EXACTLY to 365 days at work and welcomed the day with a resignation letter and a new job I’m going to adore.

So there’s a new me now and I’m thrilled. Soon, I start a fresh job at a social services agency doing what I do. And I’ve had a little time off between jobs to digest some cool pop-culture and here are three things I dig.

  1. Hulu’s Shrill

Shrill is a hysterical Hulu series about Annie, a confident overweight writer, living a full life. What I enjoy about the show is that it doesn’t spend gobs of time focusing on Annie’s weight or pursuit for thinness; it’s about the trials and tribulations of an apartment-dwelling funny girl  making it in the hipster world of Portland, Oregon. SNL’s Aidy Bryant is a gem and the show is refreshing, honest and filled with cool music and surprising cameos.

2. Lana Del Rey’s Normal F$%^ing Rockwell!

Don’t listen to Lana Del Rey’s 5th album if you’re looking for the next Summertime Sadness, this is a quietly mesmerizing and haunting library of songs about loss, heartache and the Trump era’s crushing of the American dream. It’s also clever in a sly, understated way.

3. Kieran Culkin in HBO’s Succession
I found a new favorite actor and he’s Kieran Culkin in HBO’s Succession. Watching him every week is a marvel at the audacity of the English language and the sheer potential for ultimate cruelty that simple words strung together can produce. His character, Roman Roy, is ruthless and humane, all in one pint-sized man body. More Culkins in everything, please!

Dolores O’Riordan: A Study Abroad Love Story

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What is it about these rock stars’ deaths that shakes me so? It seems that each one has its own personal connection to my formative years. I grieve for them as I lament my youth slipping away. Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries always seemed so much older than me, but really, we were peers. Contemporaries. If she were a male rock star, I’d be way too old to be her lover.

Dolores O’Riordan’s death at age 46 sends me back to my senior year in college when I studied abroad in Ireland. I went alone, opting not be part of a large group of Americans trekking over to Europe together and ended up surrounded by a bunch of cool Irish girls at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth.

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21-years old in Ireland.

I was nursing a broken heart and an increasingly-nasty designer-drug habit, but nobody there knew that.  My family and friends certainly didn’t know that I was envisioning this pilgrimage as a kind of cleaning out process, a rehab with college credits. Surely, I wasn’t going to hang out with the same crowd in Ireland that I was in America.

I was right. I cleaned myself right up, quickly gained 20 pounds and enjoyed every drunken second of the endless, yet wholesome party. I put away the tweezers, paused the black eyeliner fascination and started eating meat. I can’t tell you why I decided to stop eating meat as a teenager, but after one day in Ireland, I was wolfing down cheeseburgers like I was used to sucking down Camels.

Really, I’d never looked better.

Some fresh Irish country air: Better than rehab.
My own private Ireland.

This was before the time when music lovers had an arsenal of tunes at their fingertips. I didn’t lug any music with me in my overstuffed luggage; how was I going to pack Nirvana cds when I had so many corduroys and Doc Martens to bring? But, this was Ireland and The Cranberries provided the new lush soundtrack to my life. “Linger” was my battle cry, an answer to my lovesickness for a boy that I hated so much I was convinced it was pure love.

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Sometimes you have to leave home to realize how screwed up it really is.

In Ireland, I learned that my adolescent obsession with Sinead O’Conner was respected, but that The Cranberries and Dolores’s piercing voice were truly the sound of Ireland. Perhaps it was because I was no longer home that I relinquished myself to this fresh sonic love. I shed my Nirvana obsession and enjoyed some moody, Irish pop music.

Rest in peace, Dolores and thanks for all that beautiful noise.

Coffee, Booze, ‘Housewives’ + Uber: Thanks for everything.

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It’s the most phony time of the year! Oh, the holidays. Everyone gets sappy and thankful for a few days before gouging each other’s eyes out for a sales item on Black Friday. It’s the time of year when I pretend that I’ve dutifully received my flu shot while those that know me pretend not to judge every time I cough.

Ho, ho ho. Cough, cough, cough.

Here’s an honest look at what I’m thankful for:

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‘Twin Peaks’ & coffee, I thank you!

Coffee

Because without it, you’d never see me leave my house.

I ran out of coffee once last year and I verbally abused my housemates until someone fled the scene to purchase my elixir.  Some might say I’m addicted, but it’s more like I’m alive. I’m fond of the taste, the buzz and even the bitter aftertaste. I like to challenge myself and my insomnia to the limits of decency and somehow, I feel like a winner.

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JLaw, don’t change a thing. Thanks for ‘Mother!”

Alcohol

Beer, white wine, gin or vodka- I have no prejudice. I’m super appreciative of alcohol because without it I wouldn’t socialize nearly as much as I do. And, if I cease socializing, I’ll miss out on the one hobby I have that doesn’t involve being entertained or purchasing clothes. So, this rounds on me, but please do order a cheap one.

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While I’m at it, JLo and David Duchovny, I thank you both, too.

Dresses

I’m a creature of habit and exclusively wear dresses or pajama pants. It’s not JUST that I want to be fancy, which I do, but it’s more that I’m lazy. A dress is a dress and voila, you’re dressed. Throw on some tights or run a jagged razor over your legs and that’s it. The whole pants and top thing gets so tiresome. Like, do I tuck in or tuck out? Do I really have to suck in my gut all damned day or can I unbutton at my desk?

Courtney Love & Courtney Barnett

I’ve got a thang for Courtneys and these are two C’s are the coolest people on the planet. From Courtneys Love’s 2005 all-telling warning to Hollywood starlets about Harvey Weinstein to Courtney Barnett’s recent collaboration with Kurt Vile, I just want a Courtney baby from these two.

Perhaps a duo is in their future?

Uber

Oh Uber, where were you when I needed you most (ages 22-32)?

What’s not to love about cruising into town with somebody else driving? I’m sorry to all the city taxi drivers out there, but in suburbia, a night out with anyone is not complete without an Uber, an awkward conversation with the driver and road sodas.

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Luanne never disappoints & I thank her for that.

The ‘Bravo Housewives’ Franchise

I’ve had to shed many of the “Housewives” seasons in an effort to sound more intelligent at alcohol-fueled parties, but I just can’t quite quit the Beverly Hills or New York City shows. This season, John Cougar Mellencamp’s daughter joins the BH posse to partake in catfights, drinking sessions and shaming her father. I’d better set my DVR now!

For pure laughs and shocking behavior performed by pretty people, you just can’t beat the “Housewives.” Add in some D-grade celebrity spottings and it’s pure television magic. It’s a cocktail of cocktails, plastic surgery, multiple marriages, supermodel children with home-school educations and lavish vacations spent fighting.

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‘Home for the Holidays’ Best Thanksgiving movie. I thank you.

So here’s to you and your turkey this Thanksgiving! Let’s all be thankful for honesty and try not to wallow in self-righteous babble.

I’ll give it the ol’ college try if you will!