Monday, September 28, 2009

You Can't Always Get What You Want

As I write this, my daughter is watching Yo Gabba Gabba, her first and only true love. She adores this show, and I don't mind the episode she's watching because Jack Black is on it, and he totally cracks me up. Another reason I like this episode is because of the song that's on now. It's a show aimed at preschool kids, and here are the lyrics:
You can't always get what you want
(no, no, no, no you can't)
(no, no, no, no you can't)
You can't always get what you want
(no, no, no, no)
It won't help if you keep on asking!
(la, la, la)
It won't help if you whine!
(la, la, la)
It won't help to complain!
Repeat repeatedly.

As a mother, it's a message I appreciate being passed on to my kid. Nothing drives me crazy faster than whining. As a human being with a sense of humor, I find the song hilarious in and of itself. Of course, Sam is only a year and a half, so thus far the message has fallen on deaf ears, but someday...she'll get it. I hope.
Hearing this song quite a bit (we watch this episode A LOT), brings two things to mind. First of all, I wish it wasn't quite so true. It is though--gospel truth. You can't always get what you want, no matter how much you ask or whine. I have yet to whine myself into a size 6, and let me assure you, it's not for lack of trying. As it turns out, I have to work for the things I want, and even then, there's no guarantee.
Secondly, why are they marketing this song to preschoolers only? From looking around the world we live in, it seems to me it should be required listening for everybody everywhere. After all, where to we think our kids picked up the whining and complaining? All too often, I see people going crazy about other people's choices. Usually, that person is me. So, I'm adopting this mantra--I can't always get what I want, it won't help to whine or complain. Sometimes when you are dying for justice, you see mercy, and the reverse is true too. Sometimes I am hoping against hope for mercy only to feel the swift kick of justice squarely in my behind. And although I've given whining more than ample time to work out in my favor, it hasn't panned out. There are truly things in this world that you just can't control, I can think of nearly 7 billion of them off the top of my head. It just took a slightly creepy kids show to remind me. So thanks to you, Yo Gabba Gabba--they should play this song on every radio station, every morning. Spread the knowledge around a bit, you know!

By the way, for the record and the continuation of this blog, pointing out injustice is not the same as complaining about it. As much as I am trying to let things go, no amount of singing will turn me into a lie down and take it kind of person. I still am what I am, but now I will focus on attitudes I do have a shot at changing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Let's do the Timewarp

Today I was driving in the car for an appointment with the Optometrist, and the song "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind came on the radio. Suddenly, from the words "I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend..." I felt exactly like I was transported right back to Jr. High. I can't explain it, but it was almost an out of body experience--all the emotions of that time came flooding back as if they were happening right then. I was in Jr. High again (shudder)--forget the fact that I was driving, with my daughter in the backseat no less, and she was trying to poke me with the crocs she had removed from her feet against my protests yet again, while wearing a paper Krispy Kreme hat.
*May I just interject here to admit to one thing--no, we hadn't been to Krispy Kreme that day. My car is officially what my husband would consider "disgusting." On the plus side, we went yesterday, and what my husband considers "disgusting" when it comes to car cleanliness is probably what most people would call "perfectly acceptable." I maintain the fact that no matter how long it's been since you went to the donut store, one paper Krispy Kreme hat on the backseat does not a "pigsty" make. *
Back to the task at hand, for one moment I forgot that I was older, fatter, and considering my errand, even blinder than I was then--I felt 14 again. In a word, it was bizarre.
Now, it's no anomaly for me to hear songs from my Jr. High or High School days on the radio. I exclusively listen to the radio stations for people who don't quite qualify for the oldies station yet, but crave the familiar while lying to themselves that they have some semblance of relevance today. The truth is, I find Lady Gaga's appearance unbelievably frightening, and know nothing more of Rihanna than the fact that her ex-boyfriend is a scumbag and the repeated syllable "ella...ella...ella." Listening to stations that mainly play songs I recognize while throwing in the occasional Taylor Swift number (take that, Kanye!) or even the rare "Just Dance" is as modern as I get, musically speaking. A song has to be pretty far ingrained in the mainstream before it reaches my ears these days. Sheesh, just writing that makes me feel like a geezer.
The point is, every song I hear from my formative years does not have that effect on me. This experience got me thinking about the songs that I hear rarely enough that they give me a instant trip down memory lane to Jr. High or High School. You might be confused by the fact that a lot of these songs came out in all different years, thinking I don't even know my own age, but these songs didn't necessarily come out when I was in this age group, but it was in my formative years that I discovered them, listened to them ad nauseum, and cemented them in my memory. If the timeline confuses you, well, deal with it.
Here is what I came up with:

"MMMMmmmbop" by Hanson. Am I proud that this song is in my age group's legacy? Heck, no! Every time I hear it (which is thankfully rarely), does it totally take me back? You bet! (Also in this category, but still too soon to talk about is the "Macarena." I have very embarrassing memories of my only Jewish friend's bat mitvah I'm still not ready to dredge up.)

"I Want You" by Savage Garden. Anyone else for a Chicken Cherry Cola? By the way, if you are thinking about telling me that I am wrong and feel the need to inform me of the actual lyrics, you are years too late. I know it's probably not correct, but Chicken Cherry Cola is a part of me now.

"Leaving on a Jet Plane" originally by John Denver. Yeah, it's a classic, and from way before my time, but I didn't fall in love with the John Denver version. I fell in love with Ben Affleck singing it to Liv Tyler in Armageddon, which is still one of my favorite movies. Discovering the song was just a bonus.

"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day. Yes, this one came out just before my senior year and was therefore used in every video montage documenting this time in my life or anyone else I knew. Every. Last. One. Oddly enough, I still like it.

"Stay" by Lisa Loeb. Actually, pretty much anything by Lisa Loeb takes me back instantly, because I listened to her stuff constantly, but they don't play it on the radio much anymore--not even on my "still want to be hip, but only listen to songs from at least a decade ago" channels. That makes me kind of sad.

So there you go. You now know just how out of touch I am with music. If you've been paying attention, that means I have recently done posts about my lack of fashion sense, mentioned my embarrassing TV habits, and this just in, copped to listening to "a shade shy of geezer" music. You will have to conclude from the evidence that I am just not cool. In fact, I am starting to have a sneaking suspicion that I will soon surpass my mother--who used to time her work by cleaning the entire bathroom during one play of "MacArthur Park"--by journeying into uncharted areas of uncoolness. Speaking of which, some Journey would really cheer me up right now...
Yes, I just upped the uncool factor again, what of it?

Stick around, this could be epic.

Friday, September 4, 2009

An Overdue Thank You Note

Although I have told them this individually several times, it is about time the rest of the world knew how I feel. I would like to send a virtual thank you note to my parents. Not a thank you for driving me to school and activities, or keeping me in clothing, food and shelter throughout my life, although I appreciate all those things!

The very best thing my parents ever did for me was pointing it out when my head seemed to be inserted into a very different body part and telling me to knock it off. They called me on it when I was being a jerk to someone else. At the time, I most certainly did not appreciate it, but as I look back now, I am insanely grateful to have had a trusty barometer. My parents always supported me, but never led me to believe I was perfect or above reproach. My mom and dad understand the vital truth that it is better to watch your children trip a little than to make them feel invincible and watch them fall completely flat the remainder of their lives. It is always better to scrape a few knees now and again, than to end up in traction.

I remember doing something as a teenager that perfectly illustrated this point. I don't remember what I said about someone else, but I do remember that it was extremely self-centered and rude--like I said, I was a teenager. My mother just looked right at me and said, "Carly, the other six billion people on this planet are not just here to cushion your fall. You. Shape. Up." This hit right on target as my mother is usually more the sweet, touchy-feely type than the straightforward-don't-make-me-come-up-there type.
Did it hurt to be checked like that? Yes. Did it teach me the value of others in a way I will never forget as long as I live? Abso-freakin-loutely. And finally, was she right? Painfully so. The rest of the planet is not here to make me feel better about myself, to serve me, or to honor me. If anything, I am here to serve others and make the world a better place. Lesson learned.

I feel the need to thank them for this now, as recent events I've encountered have forced me to come in contact with more and more people who clearly were never told, not once in their formative years, that they are less than perfect. No, not even perfect, they must have been told that they are what perfection aspires to be. So, operating under the untempered delusion that all should worship at their feet, they go through life demanding, rude, and selfish. They are driving everyone around them, even the people they love, absolutely nuts (although no one in their inner circle will ever call them on it). Everyone meets one of these people, eventually--they are the people that show up late because "the party won't start without them any way. How could it?" They make Narcissus look like Mother Theresa. When they need something, they tell, they don't ask. Frankly they don't ask because they consider you lending them a car to be a favor to you, not from you.

My brother encountered one such person recently. I happened to be on the phone with my parents when he came in the door and said, "Mom, Dad, I just want to say a big thanks for doing everything in your power to keep me from being a total selfish jerk!!!" My dad had to laugh and say "yeah, that's what your sister says when she runs into one." Now I am so far from perfect, the highway milage signs only read as far as "suitable." I do not, however, for one minute, feel like I am more important that other people just because of who I am. I do not think my views are better because I am better, I am most certainly not better. I do not think that everyone in a room with me should count their blessings just to be near me. Ever.

So, I just wanted to say thanks again, mom and dad. Thanks for being parents, not just mindless cheerleaders. Thanks for understanding that a dose of self-esteem without the ability to back it up, is simply off-putting ego. Thanks for telling me that the other six billion people on the planet matter too. Thank you for knowing that me thinking you are my cool best friends pales in comparision to your responsibility to make me into a decent person. I didn't realize how rare parents like you really are. As an added bonus, I do think you are both cool and my best friends, so it worked out on your end too.