Tag Archives: music

The Saddest Reason To Buy Taylor Swift's RED

It was supposed to be for boot socks. Wool ones in fun, speckled colors. A two-pack of knee highs for eight dollars. But that isn’t what happened. That was never the plan. Not really.

On the way over, before I even so much as saw the red neon sign, Anna Nalick lied to me. She said I could just wait it out, this temporary storm, and wake up in a couple thousand days.

It was my own voice that cracked beneath that promise, my car idling at a red light. Anna was wrong. I knew that. I knew there was no hide-and-seek for 20somethings. There would be no hiding for the girl who doesn’t come home to someone else’s muddy boots.

How nice it would’ve been to turn the bronze key, unload my belongings, and catch the smell of something on the stove or a candle flickering on the countertop or the washing machine sloshing a load of whites.

True Confession: Some nights, I turn the dishwasher one and head back to the cold air. When I return, half an hour or forty-five minutes later, it is like my apartment has lived without me: moving and bustling emptily. This is, arguably, the most relieving and undermining feeling in the world.

So I chose HEATED DRY and found myself halfway to broken. There’s nothing you can do when you find cracks in your day that you cannot fill with someone else’s sorry days, someone else’s needs.

The boot socks didn’t have flecks. They were black and grey and white and I needed a little dab of color, even if no one else would ever see them. That’s how I ended up in ELECTRONICS.

And it’s the saddest reason, really, I’ve ever bought a CD: I needed to know that those of us on the cusp of 23 were broken not because we were weak, but because we gave slices of ourselves, limb by fragile limb, to the whipping wind and the turquoise sky and tornado warnings scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen. We gave ourselves to the kids who died too young and the ones who forgot how to love us.

I needed to know that not every story ends with Should’ve Know or Nice Try.

I needed to know that there was a spectrum of alternatives not printed on fortune cookie inserts or shaken to the surface of a Magic 8 Ball.

I needed to know that I wasn’t just a blue-eyed girl with frayed jeans and hopes that would always be too high.

I started thinking about the way we see ourselves and the way others perceive us. And I wondered if the cashier would look at me and see a broken girl with a broken budget and a conveyer belt full of all the words she wanted someone else to tell her. I wondered if my eyes were tired, if my feet were dragging across the tile floor, if I had stood long enough in front of that display and debated whether or not I needed a confidante who wouldn’t even bother to call me for coffee.

I decided that I did.

It’s the saddest decision, when you are alone and so desperately waiting for someone to listen, to get it, even if that someone has never so much as tried your name on her lips. Even if that someone has too many heartbreaks to worry about yours.

Target and Taylor have never let me down. But man, I wonder how I would’ve felt to say I didn’t need that, just could use some socks to keep my feet warm, just some socks please. Would it have felt better?

A Mix CD for the Broken-Hearted

I’m not yet ready to let go of you.

Give me five more minutes, God, with the girl crying on her bedroom floor. Knock again in half an hour when I’ve begun to lose the feeling in my arms from holding on and healing invisible wounds.

kid looking at records

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Hands looped around heaving shoulder. Fingers interlocked and absorbed all the bad poison.

Give me four more years to memorize our Sunday afternoon football routine and make sure I know all the penalty rules before I go jetting off to another state forever and always. Maybe then, I can ease my grasp from around her chest.

I am not so graceful in the art of letting go, if you haven’t noticed. I’m not so great at saying the right thing or knowing when to back off, but I make a killer mix CD for the days when raindrops become permanent fixtures on windshields.

A mix CD for the broken-hearted.

“Pop this sucker into the boom box perched on your sorrowful shoulders and let the melody carry you away,” I’d say.

I’m picturing someone like a young John Cusack, sliding through summer nights on a hope and a prayer.

Here’s what made my list:

1. When Your Heart Stops Beating – +44
2. Tomorrow and the Sun – Adam Pascal
3. Bleed – Anna Nalick
4. Go – Boys Like Girls
5. Play On – Carrie Underwood
6. Life After You – Daughtry
7. Molly Smiles – Jesse Spencer
8. With A Little Help From My Friends – Jim Sturgess (or The Beatles)
9. Little Emily – Kari Kimmel
10. The War – Melee
11. Pearl – Katy Perry
12. Dear John – Taylor Swift

What’s on your mix CD for the broken-hearted? 

I would take love lessons from Weezy any day.

The words blend together and slur from one to the next like kids pushing and shoving to get to the front of an ice cream truck. Each of them wants the first choice before all the good ones are taken. I turn the volume up on my car stereo and roll up my window, sure I’m not hearing correctly.

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A song by a rapper that’s not about sex, drugs and violence? What is this world coming to?

The chorus starts up and I hear it again, the way a man I’ve never met pins me down with a few words and forces me to admit where I’m at in this life.

For a second, I think he’s equating seduction with stealing. Crooks stealing hearts. Not jewelry or cold hard cash, but the single-most important organ in the human body.

You know, the one that keeps you alive and all. No big deal.

If breaking hearts is a crime, the world has more criminals than it can possibly hold in its many county jails and state penitentiaries.

I wonder if we’d come to identify certain levels of indiscretions, starting first with the girl in kindergarten who shakes her head and speeds off when the boy asks to hold her hand as they cross a street. Second up: the boy who won’t go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with the girl he likes because he was supposed to be the one to ask—not her. Third: the girl who slept around with the boy who gave everything he had to her. Fourth: the man who married a woman out of fear of being alone and left her because he was afraid he’d never be free again.

Would the crimes build and build until each situation was dissected by a judge, both parties sentenced to individual sentences? Would that stop heartbreak, drying it out at the source so every handhold held meaning far beyond the act of safety?

You deserve the best, he says. You’re beautiful.

Would we listen to a man with teardrops tattooed on his cheeks and believe that he was just as beautiful? Would we consider that maybe he needs to hear those same words and believe them just as much, or is beautiful a word reserved for a woman on her wedding day, when the rest of us know that she spent hundreds of dollars to cover up whatever it is she doesn’t want to remember about herself?

She walks down the aisle in a sheet of white and every head turns. The bridesmaids whisper the same thing. She’s beautiful.

But isn’t she beautiful in thirty years when she’s washing dishes in front of the kitchen sink? Wasn’t she beautiful when she was just a kid with skinned knees and a cherry popsicle stain rimmed around her lips?

Can’t have a man stare at you for five seconds without you feeling insecure, he says.

Believe it or not, there lies within us the ability to balance: spending all day thinking about someone naked versus holing up inside and cutting off our fingers one by one, repenting for sins we haven’t yet given ourselves a chance to commit.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of emotions and thoughts that pass through someone’s head besides these two things, these two extremes, yet our hearts and minds jump right to the first option.

How to love. It starts with something simple: you’re not ordinary, you’re not trapped, you’re not always someone else’s eye candy.

You can be more. You have to expect more. You have to give more.

No one ever fell in love by scooting into a corner and pulling their knees to their chest. Love is a jump. A leap. A belief that something good is left in this life. That someone good is left.

It's OK to chuck the GPS out the window.

GPS garmin

“We’re off-roading,” my sister shrieks from the passenger seat.

We coast toward another red light on JFK Boulevard—somewhere in Center City Philadelphia. We’re searching for the discounted parking garage like it’s a winning lottery ticket.

She’s playing DJ and navigator, balancing an assortment of backlit tech devices in her lap like she’s Best Buy’s Customer of the Month. The GPS keeps losing a signal and then regaining it too late for us to make the correct turn.

“Just tell me what road we’re looking for,” I tell her. “And which way I’m turning.”

“I don’t know,” she says. She points to the little car icon on the screen. “We’re in the middle of the road.”

I shake my head and point at the directions at the top of the screen.

“Make a left in point two miles.”

The GPS barks at us again. What have we done wrong this time? I want to pick it up, unplug it from the charger, and see how that goes over.

“How do you like that?” I’d ask it. “Hmm? Being told that you’re doing it all wrong, no matter how hard you’re trying?”

Because there is more than one way to get where you’re going. Sure there will always be the most direct route:

The high school senior who wants to be a doctor attends undergrad, grad school, med school and does residency. The future teacher opts for the five-year Master’s program.

But then there are the occupations that make an old friend in the grocery store frown over her cart. She hasn’t seen you in four years, but weren’t you getting your degree in something else entirely? Something a little more practical, she might add if she may be so bold.

You look around for a second, trying to figure out how to respond to that. A toddler kicks all the cereal boxes off the shelf at the end of the aisle, and you wonder if, in ten years, you’ll be yelling, “Clean up in Aisle 3!”

In ten years, will you still be making wrong turns in the game of life?

Nathan Bransford wrote an excellent post about the categories of responses people get when they tell someone they’re a writer. But aren’t we all? We write grocery lists, utility checks, reminders on the back of receipts, don’t we?

Yet the writer stands in the grocery store next to the future teacher, defenseless when she’s chewed out for her potential “lack of stability.”

I went to undergrad for a degree in film production. I haven’t taken a production class in two semesters. It’s just not where my heart’s at anymore. And some people are preprogrammed not to understand that.

That’s OK. It’s OK to want to chuck the GPS out the window in the middle of Broad Street.

There’s nothing wrong with my beaten path, the scenic route to the Real World.

Because at the end of the night, when my sister and I handed the keys to the parking attendant and made a left—then, after reexamining the Google Maps application on my phone, a right—to the Hard Rock Café, we knew what we wanted: a night out with some good, live music and each other’s company.

Shouldn’t every decision feel like that?