Love that Soundtrack.

Everyone has a soundtrack to life; whether it be a very particular genre of music that filters through your Apple ear buds on the regular, the reverberation of family bellowing from all corners of the house, or maybe the clicky sound the keyboard makes as you record the daily happenings of your weird world to publish online.  Either way, soundtracks don’t just exist in the movies, we all have one in some form or another.

For many of us, there is a very specific soundtrack for very specific occasions or feelings.  You know what I’m saying. We all have that song that we rock out to when we’re so overwhelmingly happy; or that sad song that we listen to in the dark while pathetically and quite dramatically singing along between sobs (oh come on, we’ve ALL done it).  Maybe you have a drunk song.  I do.  Dating back to my freshman year of college, regardless of where I am or what I’m drinking, when Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing comes on, I will undoubtedly yell This is my jam! and obnoxiously scream the lyrics to the rest of the song.  If/when drinking in another state and this song begins to play, I will make a point of telling everyone that I’m from Detroit. Even though good ol’ suburban Northville doesn’t exactly count as Detroit…when in that drunky pants state of mind, I refuse to stop believing that there’s any difference at all.

There are also those songs that, when listened to, instantly jolt you back to different times in your life; the soundtrack of an era, if you will.  For example, every time I hear Billy Joel, I think of New York City.  The first time I ever visited that glorious metropolis, I was about 14 years old and my Dad got our family front row, center tickets to see “Movin’ Out”. When I hear Sarah Bareilles, I’m jolted back to how innocently happy I was in college.  The Beatles fill almost every memory I have of the house I grew up in.  Oh, and when I hear pretty much any Britney Spears song, I think of the time my 3 best girlfriends and I made a “Lucky” music video back in middle school. (Let it be known that we made 4 identical versions of the video, each of us portraying Britney once, of course, to be fair.)

Music has always had a strong presence in my life.  That’s probably why I’ve always been a dancing fool.  I certainly won’t allow any of that to change. No-sir-ee-bub.

One day, I believe I will look back at this particular time in my life (I’ll call it The Time I was in my Mid-Twenties and I Kinda Starting Getting my Sheeet Together and Doing Cool Stuff Like Writing Blogs and Being a Functional Not-Exactly-Starving-Anymore Artist); and I believe I will recognize the soundtrack of this era to be fantastically eclectic. However, I’m also pretty sure that one artist will stand out among the rest.

And that artist is Beyonce.

Over the past year, she, well, her creative persona (yeah, I said it) has been an oddly tenacious force in my life.  It’s true.  I love her.  Oh so much.  Honestly, people, think about it.  Homegirl is beautiful and an uncommonly talented dancer and diva vocalist.  Her videos rock the casbah, her songs make you want to shake your tail feather; and on top of everything, she is a successful, strong woman, unafraid to preach some feminist ideals through her art.  I simply love her.

I have, on more than one occasion, been caught dancing when I thought no one was looking.  Recently, in fact, a customer at the juice bar caught me throwing my hands up to the line “so throw your hands up” in Beyonce’s Single Ladies.  And let’s just say that I certainly committed to the move.  I even threw my head back and sang along.  I was in the back of the house, but in clear view of the counter from the doorway that separates the front from the back.  His only response was a chuckle and an I saw that.

I listen to Beyonce and something takes over me.  I know my love for B got me lookin’ so crazy right now, but I absolutely cannot listen to her music without singing and dancing and diva-ing along.  I suddenly become completely unaware of any audience I may have and I get back in touch with my strong, fearlessly feminine side.  Her work helps trigger a sense of security from within.  Oh yes, my friends, this is true.

I had new headshots taken by the fabulous Kellyn Uhl sometime mid-summer.  Kellyn went to theatre school with my sister and she was (is) a captivating performer in addition to being a very talented photographer .  Needless to say, I had (have) a mega-professional crush on her; and this, in turn, made me quite nervous to have her take my picture over and over for a couple hours out in the middle of downtown Royal Oak.  You know, a place with lots of people waltzing about the town, what seems like all the time.  Oy, the insecurities. So to counteract my lacking confidence, I carefully applied a hearty coat of candy apple red lipstick and turned the dial to 11 on Beyonce’s 4 while driving over.

I was about half way through a driving performance of her song Countdown (a performance which I was fully committed to), when I stopped for a red light.  I continued dancing around, mouthing along, flirting with the imaginary camera following my every move for a moment. Then I looked up at the van I was parked behind.  A group of what I can only assume were convicts in orange jumpsuits had their faces pressed against the back windows, pointing and laughing and applauding me.  My complexion instantly matched the color of my lipstick.  I froze for a moment, but then I started laughing along with them.  Ah well, they already saw me, might as well go on with the show!  I continued shoulder dancing, flipping my hair about and singing along.  I let the confidence live on.  It was worth it.

Sometimes it seems a bit silly that I love her as much as I do.  She’s a pop star after all. But as soon as I start to judge the admiration, I just stop.  What’s really silly is to second-guess a source of self-confidence. And at this Mid-Twenties and I’ve Kinda Started Getting my Sheeet Together and I’m Doing Cool Stuff Like Writing Blogs and Being a Functional Not-Exactly-Starving-Anymore Artist time in my life, I’m embracing my quirks, and drawing inspiration from just about anywhere because I recognize how important it is to do so. And how much I owe it to myself.

Beyonce will forever be the soundtrack for the time I found success in my individuality.  And I’d like to think that, eventually, I’ll harness this feeling so it becomes an every day, all the time kind of feeling.  A force in my life, really.  And, right about then, I’ll realize the soundtrack will have changed to capture the next step along the journey.

I can only guess how the song will go.  But you can bet I’ll be dancing along.

 

Forward.

By now you’ve read the title of this entry (if not, just, uh, look above this sentence. It’s in bold print); and perhaps you think you’ve got the content all figured out. What up, President Obama?! Thanks for getting re-elected. Now I don’t have to move to Canada!

Yeah, well, it’s not going to be anything quite so dramatic, or partisan for that matter. Even though I am quite pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s election, that little detail is neither here nor there.

Instead I would like to discuss how I’ve been feeling this week; in light of this election; as a result of the fascinating array of topics thrown around by countless politicians–Democrat, Republican and otherwise–countless journalists, talk-show hosts, my friends and family, especially my Dad (he always carries around his political soap box, just in case).

This is the second Presidential election wherein I have been of age to exercise my constitutional right of voting. During the first one, to be completely honest, I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have to consider myself an informed voter. I jumped on the Obama train because, frankly, I was in my senior year at the University of Michigan (an extremely liberal campus for those of you who may not know); and, let’s face it, Obama was a rockstar. I knew I disliked Bush. I knew I wanted “change” (exactly how, I wasn’t sure). That’s about all I knew or paid attention to. So once I decided that I was voting for Obama (early, early on), I checked out of the rest of the election all together and waited patiently to see if my horse would win the race. Sure enough, he did. We Wolverines high-fived and played a celebratory game of beer pong.

This time around, however, regarding this particular election, I was very aware of the political warfare happening all around. And it ignited something within me.

I do want change. I want fundamental change. And by golly, I think I’m finally beginning to understand what I stand for.

I would like to say that during the past year or so, I took it upon myself to be more receptive. I knew that I was a liberal-minded person, feeling strongly about Women’s rights and Gay rights, but I also realized that I had (have) a lot to learn about economic policy, taxes, foreign policy, and plenty more; so I tried listening. I tried considering.  And frankly, I’m still willing to consider and to mull over those endless ideas revolving around the economy, and the war, and oil, and terrorism; because I’m really unsure that there is a right answer, a quick fix.  And I believe we have a future riddled with ups and downs. But when it comes to compassion, equality, acceptance, tolerance, and the issues challenging what those words truly mean, well, I get worked up because I feel that there is a simple right facing a mighty strong wrong.  It’s night and day.

Now, before you say “geeze louise, I thought this was supposed be a FUN blog, about funny, silly, nonsensical adventures.  Not yet another arena for politically active, extreme left wing hippie nut balls to preach through,” bear with me.  It still is.  But risking sounding like that hippie nut ball, I will draw your attention now to the title of this blog (it’s above the bold title of the entry, in the colorful crazy logo next to the I’m laughing like a happy fool in the sunshine picture of my face): Love and ADD.  And this week, in the midst of some potentially big change, I would like to pay homage to the first beautiful word in that title. Love. That complex, confusing, elating, irritating and fantastically present word with all of its meanings and its uses.

It’s struggling out there.  We’re honestly struggling, don’t ya think?

Okay, yeah, I do sound like a hippie. But maybe those granola eatin’, tree huggin’, sing-a-long leadin’ folks got it right.  This election made me realize that I stand for something.  With freedom comes a responsibility to respect and accept one another, and frankly, to look out for one other, on the sheer basis that we are sharing time on Mother Earth’s good green residence.

And so, the day after the election I caught as much of the highlighted footage from the night before as I could (of course, I was unable to view it in real time as I fell asleep at 10pm like an old lady). I listened carefully to the President’s acceptance speech. He didn’t shy from stressing the importance of that responsibility I believe we share as a people. And, whether manufactured as a political strategy or not (though I choose not to be that skeptical), I became hopeful for tomorrow. It’s time to start playing my part and practicing what I preach.

I plan to start small. I purchased a journal at my favorite Bohemian shop in Ann Arbor.  It’s pink and happy looking. I plan to write in it every day, but I only plan to write of positive happenings. It’s a place to capture positive energy. A place to record moments of grace and good deeds, wishes and whimsies, dreams and plans. Across its cover is written,

All the flowers
of all the tomorrows
are in the seeds
of today.

If we don’t practice compassion, equality, acceptance and tolerance now—if we don’t nurture the love—will the flowers bloom down the road tomorrow? Start small and speak up.  Practice compassion, equality, acceptance and tolerance.

Stand for something.

Alright, I am putting the soap box away (it’s on loan from Dad, anyway). Promise. My hippie sermon has come to an end.

It’s simply time to move forward.