Monthly Archives: January 2015

CrazySexyCool

In all my excitement over the latest New Kids News of a 2015 summer tour, I almost forgot that on this tour I’ll finally be getting the chance to see some of my earliest role models perform. TLC, even before the Spice Girls, helped to shape the sassy, independent and sometimes crass woman I would become. And now, after all these years, I get to see them live. Well, 2/3 of them. But Lisa Lopes will be there in spirit. I’m sure of it. Or I would be if I believed in that sort of thing.

#TheMainEvent is a bucket list show

#TheMainEvent is a bucket list show

As a little girl, not too long after falling head over heels in love with those “five bad boys from the beantown land”, I discovered an album called, “Oooooooh…On the TLC Tip”, and songs like, “What About Your Friends” helped me work through some really tough 3rd grade drama. Was I a bit too young to listen to these three brash beauties? You bet. But I already knew all the words to “Baby Got Back”, so it was much too late for me anyway. I was never going to be a member of the D.A.R. or have a coming out party. In a white gloves and waltz kind of way. Not a double vagina kind of way. Once “CrazySexyCool” came out, my friends and I would spend every afternoon blasting the album and “playing TLC”. As in, we each pretended to be a member of the group and performed the album in our bedrooms, from top to bottom. Even the strange interludes. And we always fought over who got to be Left Eye. Because she had the super-cool raps. You can’t say, “I seen a rainbow yesterday…” and stop there. You know how it goes. And I bet you get mad when “Waterfalls” comes on the radio and that part is gone. I know your life.

TLC wasn’t just important to me and my elementary school clique, it was arguably the most important “girl group” of our time. I’m going to say of all time. Because this is my blog. They were at the very least the first all girl group to have a diamond-classified album in “CrazySexyCool”. And they did it all while flexing their socially aware, feminist muscles and while living just like the regular people who bought their record. They each made less than $50,000 a year even at their most successful. They were poster women for my (and most of my artist friends’) current “starving artist” plight and had to eventually declare bankruptcy after being unable to re-negotiate their ridiculously unfair contracts. I’m getting retroactively mad right now. In your face, LaFace! You misogynist bullies.

The bright early 90s fashion of the "...TLC Tip" days.

The bright early 90s fashion of the “…TLC Tip” days.

Lack of funds didn’t stop TLC from banging out hit after hit and forcing the pop-culture swilling public to swallow some hard truths about safe sex (by covering themselves in day-glo condoms in their early music videos and effectively un-tabooing the prophylactic for young fans), female sexuality (by demanding satisfaction in “Red Light Special” and again, by covering themselves in day-glo condoms and proving that women can take protection into their own hands, and over their own left eyes), HIV and dangerous drug culture (by making “Waterfalls” their biggest hit of all time while crooning that “three letters took him to his final resting place”) and by being fierce females in general. Their music videos flipped the sexuality script on popular mid-nineties chart-toppers, bringing strong, sexually confident women into the living rooms of suburban-subdued kids in subconscious search of role models. “Red Light Special” still brings a blush to my cheek in the way only an early-life learning experience can.

The soundtrack of my formative years.

The soundtrack of my formative years.

Their third album, “FanMail” came in 1999 at the cusp of my adolescence. I was in the 8th grade and really celebrating crushed velvet tops, tattoo-inspired choker necklaces and bright blue roll-on glitter. “No Scrubs” hit the airwaves and puffed out the chests of myself and my ragtag group of precocious friends. We didn’t want no scrubs, either, when the time came for that to be an option. We were ready to make choices that proved we valued ourselves and our worth and only sort of giggled if someone “holla’d at us from the passenger side of their best friend’s ride”. Because, I mean, we were 14 and it was a car. The second single from that album was a game changer in the music industry of the end of the 20th Century. “Unpretty” brought harsh realities about body image into mainstream media and was delivered into the ears of self-conscious girls via Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins’ signature low-and-slow voice. The video featured scenes of thinspiration-fueled purging and followed Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, who has spoken about being teased as a teen about her flat chest, through her struggle with deciding against getting breast augmentation surgery at the insistent request of her boyfriend. It gave us the other side of the beauty machine and we were ready for it.

Beautiful and Strong as ever in the "Unpretty" video.

Beautiful and Strong as ever in the “Unpretty” video.

Just a couple short years after FanMail was released, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was killed in a car accident and my 17-year old self was devastated. She had felt like a friend. My history with the ladies of TLC runs deep. From condoms and baggy jeans, through House Party cameos (Sex As A Weapon was no joke) and on to admissions of creeping and the resistance of Scrubs, I was a fan. I’m expecting a lot of memories and emotion when the ladies take the stage, and I’m hoping that if not spirit, Left Eye will be there in hologram. We have the technology. Let’s let her speak about that rainbow she saw yesterday. I ain’t 2 proud 2 beg. Yep. I did it. I ended the blog in a song lyric. Sort of.

Stressmotionings

Emotions make me uneasy. I try to avoid having them if I can. Sometimes, avoiding them for too long results in a perfect storm of meltdown when nothing in particular has happened. Last year, my “stressmotionings”, which is a combination of stress, emotion and odds-and-ends-feelings, manifested in a shower tantrum that nearly cost me my life at the hands of the concave bottom of my clawfoot tub. This time, they fell out of my eyeballs on the way home from work as I was sitting at a red light on the corner of 28th and the East Beltline. Which is a delightful intersection, if you’re not familiar.

I was stopped at the light, crying (a lot) and making it really obvious that I was crying by producing facial expressions and sob-noises that would make the writers of Degrassi uncomfortable. Even though it goes there. I self-consciously looked to my right and left to be sure nobody was watching, but of course they were. I would. The man to my right was really visually unappealing. All of him. His whole thing. He was wearing transition lenses, and we all know how I feel about those. His car was old. The kind of old that looks like rust is eating it from the inside out, like the gross way to eat a Twinkie. His hair was messy, but not intentionally and he wasn’t attractive. He looked like he had some life issues. But he also looked like he was taking some pity on me. His brow was knit with concern (or maybe his lenses hadn’t transitioned enough yet) and he looked like he wanted to reach out to me. This probably should have made me feel better. The kindness of a stranger and all. But it didn’t. It made me scrunch and sob harder because this not-at-all-together person was feeling sorry for me. I scrunched, even harder, to squeeze the tears that had formed a shield outside of my eyeballs. You know, to avoid dying in a fiery car crash and really giving myself something to cry about. Like dads used to say. Or so I’ve heard.

I continued the outburst of tears and deep, desperate gulps of air for the duration of my drive home, which was in the middle of rush hour and full of way too many hurried drivers to be ideal. Not that sobbing hideously is ever ideal. Possibly the most frustrating part is that I’m not sure why I was crying. I’ve been trying to pinpoint my ridiculousness and I’ve realized in the short hour since this went down that I’m simply restless and generally dissatisfied with myself. I’m nowhere I wanted to be. Geographically. Professionally. Socially. Intellectually. Romantically, and every other possible “lly”.

So, why today, you ask? What tipped me over the proverbial edge?

As far as I can tell, it was a combination of things.

I’m 30, which used to mean adult, through and through. People often tell me they’d never guess I was 30, which at first sounds great. But when you think about it, means my actions and the way I carry myself aren’t quite there yet. They don’t say, “I’m a grownup who has her life together”. They say, “I still try to shop at Forever 21 sometimes, watch hours of teen dramas on Netflix, spend crazy time and money on a particular boyband and I live with two roommates because I am incapable of saving money and/or budgeting life on my own.” That takes too long, so people just say I look young. I get it.

Not feeling 30 means that I feel like my life is still loading. I’ve been buffering for too long and now the internet is down. I should have started earlier. My friends are doing great things or have plans and actions to get to their own great things and I just write this blog, complaining instead of trying to do my great things. I feel like I’m not doing a good job at work, which is especially unsavory since I have a non-career that isn’t supposed to fulfill me, it’s supposed to pay for my passion. So I should at least be good at it, right? Or trying to make my passion into something real? (I’m sorry I said passion twice. Now three times. Now that I’m looking at it it’s grossing me out. Like the word “lover”).

What is that pash-uh…dream of mine? Writing, of course. But you knew that part. More specifically, I want to have interesting experiences and write about them so you can have them too. But, I mean…have them as I had them. Not as you. The thing about interesting experiences is that you have to go out and find them. I’m not great at that. Most of the experiences I’d like to have come in the form of expenses. Which is the game-stopper. I recently went off on a complaint-tangent about that very thing via Facebook messenger to a not-that-close friend. She never knew what hit her. And now I’m embarrassed. The root of that tangent was my inability to afford the crazy VIP packages at the upcoming NKOTB, TLC and Nelly extravaganza in GR. “Nobody wants to read my ramblings about sitting in nosebleeds and watching a band I’ve seen ten times already”, I said. “They want to read about me asking Nelly if I can scoop him like a baby.” I need ways to get to Nelly. To the collective Nelly. All of the Nelly’s in my life. How do I get to them?!

There are things in my life that remind me of my age, of course. It’s hard for me to shed pounds, my hair is going silver in a very non-Stacy London kind of way, I look up way too many words on Urban Dictionary and I get hungover easier and for longer. And, Ariana Grande makes me angry. When she comes on the radio I get physically, tangibly angry. I feel it in my body and don’t know what to do with it. She should stop. Or at least use her tongue when she sings her mushed up words.

I needed a scapegoat for my stressmotionings so I’m pinning it on Ariana for now. At least if she retaliates I won’t be able to understand what she’s saying.

Pretty Pedestals & Sexy Soapboxes

Rather than watching a Youtube tutorial on how to build a soapbox, then watching a Youtube tutorial on going to the hardware store to purchase tools and blocking out time to actually go there, and constructing a soapbox on which to stand and deliver this diatribe, I thought I’d just write it down. You know, so you all can access it at your convenience. And because I’m not much of a builder. The only tool I own is a combination hammer/screwdriver and it has flowers on it. It came that way. So for me, soapboxes will always be metaphorical. That way, I’m less likely to fall off.

Someone sent me an article entitled: “6 Reasons Why Beautiful Women are Also Insecure Women”. This person wondered what my thoughts were and she got an earful. Now it’s your turn. Aside from the fact that this article was written by an objectively “beautiful woman” yet speaks about them as an outsider (and superfluously uses the word, “why” in the title), it was the shoddy construction and overall whiny tone that irritated me and left me feeling compelled to lash out. At anyone. The article opens with the writer shaming herself for assuming “hot girls” are happy. She then goes on to explain that if a woman is beautiful, she’s constantly looking over her shoulder in fear of that beauty somehow being snatched from her. Perhaps by old age, perhaps by an unfortunate acid-throwing incident. She doesn’t specify. What she does is complain for several paragraphs that society judges based on looks and beautiful women are judged more harshly because they possess that beauty for which we all long. Basically, this writer suggests that beautiful women are more insecure because they have more to lose. Asinine.

The article is based on the idea that the general (and decidedly plain) public assume all beautiful people are problem free and happy at all times. I can’t speak for the public (although I frequently do) but in my humble and not-that-attractive opinion, attractive people have an easier time in this world, just like those rich with other attributes have it easier than those who are lacking in the same. People react more kindly to attractive strangers. If an ogre hobbles up to me on the street and asks for spare change, I’m likely going to shrug him off and mumble something about only having plastic. If this hobbler is even marginally attractive, I’ll at least look him in the sparkling eye while I tell him to fuck off. Now isn’t the time to sit up straight with righteous indignation, readers. You know you’ve played the “not the uggo” game while sitting next to an empty seat on any public transportation. Sitting, judging, watching uggo after uggo slime their way down the aisle until finally a surface-dweller pauses in your row and smiles sweetly while asking you to move the hell over. If one of the uggos had said the same, surely you’d have scoffed and rolled your eyes. But this person is good looking so you laugh and move over, silently hoping they think you’re cute enough to sit next to as well.

The writer of the article takes issue with the word “and”. Calling someone “pretty and smart” or “pretty and funny” has the power to reduce that woman to a puddle of adorable mud. I’d love to be two things. Wouldn’t you? “And” is certainly better than “but”. “She’s not that easy on the eyes,  but she has a winning personality!” What a groan-inducer. Of course, the idea behind the “and” problem is that we shouldn’t have to mention looks at all. Social standing should be based on merit alone. Well that’s just stupid. It’s a biological reaction. Darwinian. Evolutionary. However you’d like to swallow it. And you’re more likely to swallow if it’s coming from a hottie, am I right? Good looks are like a golden ticket. Your sexy mug will get you in the door to the chocolate factory but if that’s all you’ve got, you’ll be a rolly polly blueberry before the day is through. You need the pizazz of that poor, ugly kid. You need the “and”. And frankly, that’s up to you. If you rest on your beauty-queen laurels instead of becoming a decent human with complex layers, that’s on you. That’s not on the world for telling you you’re pretty.

Insecurities are a human condition. It’s unfortunate but it’s real. Claiming that beauty is the thing that secures you a mate is maybe true if you’re in middle school.  Or if you just suck as a person. For me, however, physical appearance becomes less and less important as I age. Maybe it’s the reality that my own has deteriorated substantially over the years or maybe I’m just getting smarter. Granted, I’m not lining up to date the Steve Buscemis of the world, but if he was funny enough, nice enough and didn’t make me want to puke right in his face after everything he said, I’d give it a whirl. In the end, I do believe that beautiful women are insecure. What I don’t buy is that they have it any worse than the rest of us living outside the sexy-bubble.

In short, cry me a river, hot girls. Let’s ask them if they’d rather be ugly. And if they say yes, we’ll know they’re really pretty and dirty, dirty liars.