TBT: Veruca Salt

It was 1998, and I was 13-years-old, when I bought Eight Arms to Hold You. The album came out in 1997, but it took a few repetitions of songs like “Shutterbug” and “Volcano Girls” on 107.3 WAAF before I caved in and bought the album. In those days, saving pennies to buy a CD was a big deal. I never wanted to waste $15.00 on just anyone.

I was not into female singers, either. I thought it was more about sex appeal than talent, and so I resented many of the female singers I knew. There were a few exceptions (Courtney Love, Alanis Morrisette, Tracy Bonham), but they were few and far between.

Veruca Salt just had the sound. There was something that drew me to them. And as I obsessively listened to Eight Arms to Hold You during the summer between eighth and ninth grade, I decided I desperately wanted their lives.

For one thing – and of course it always comes back to sex appeal – they were amazingly gorgeous. For another, they were so cool. What’s cooler than two rocker chicks fronting a band? I hate to say it, but I completely ignored the two guys in the band. Guys are in bands all the time, so who cares about them?

The gorgeous Louise Post and Nina Gordon

The gorgeous Louise Post and Nina Gordon

The story I began writing at that age, Cynical Laughter, is still heavily influenced by Veruca Salt. I imagined sexual tension in the band and that was the birth of the story. I imagined one woman being jealous of the other. I also imagined them putting their differences aside and still making it together.

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And of course, then there was “Earthcrosser,” the last song on the album and one that gets me crying every single time I hear it. How I desperately wanted to be in a band after hearing that song! Too bad I’m not musically talented.

Veruca Salt opened a lot of doors for me. I discovered that female singers, songwriters, recording artists could be cool too. And I also discovered it must be hard to be a woman in the recording industry, just like it’s hard to be a female in the business world. A big part of my short story became about the belittlement of women. A huge part of that was my boyfriend at the time, who made fun of Nina and Louise because “the men in the band write all the songs and play all the guitar solos,” i.e., women can’t possibly have any musical talent whatsoever – they’re just there to look good.

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Maybe I just got so mad because I had owned that preconception myself not so long before.

Anyway, cheers to the band – all of them, women and men! They’ve recently released a new album and reunited for a tour (of course they’re not coming to Denver, no one ever does). Thank you for bringing me one of the most pivotal soundtracks to my angst-ridden youth.

Updated Running Playlist

I’ve been trying to sprinkle some tempo playlists into my running occasionally (hoping to get my beats per minute [BPM] higher without using a metronome), but it’s hard to be really enthused about running when I’m not in love with the music. I do notice an improvement when I’m using them, so I’ve been trying to just add some more high tempo songs into my playlist. Now, not all of these are high tempo – some are just songs I love and refuse to give up on. Anyway, here’s my latest and greatest running playlist for your enjoyment!

Still (Lovingly) Titled “Run JR Run” on Spotify

“I Know What Girls Like” – JAY Z, Diddy, Lil’ Kim
(Note on this song: my favorite part of the whole song is Lil’ Kim’s piece, and it really gets me going when she says, “You can call me a slut/Who gives a fuck?/That’s fine n****/Shit, I’m good wit mine”)
“Blazin” – Nicki Minaj
“Aura” – Lady Gaga
“Fireball” – Pitbull, John Ryan
“Black Widow” – Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora
“Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” – Stevie Wonder
“Starships” (Nicki Minaj
(Note: every time I hear this I want to be at a pool)
“Things That U Do” – JAY Z, Mariah Carey
“Marry The Night” – Lady Gaga
(Note: Good gracious this song gets me running, and it gets me crying! “I’m gonna marry the night/I won’t give up on my life/I’m a warrior queen, live passionately tonight/I’m gonna marry the dark/Gonna make love to the stark/I’m a soldier to my own emptiness, I’m a winner…” Gets me every time.)
“Government Hooker” – Lady Gaga
“Wild Ones (feat. Sia)” – Flo Rida, Sia
“Good Feeling” – Flo Rida
“Young Black Male” – 2Pac
“Trapped” – 2Pac
“The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” – Missy Elliott
“Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon
“Move Your Feet” – Junior Senior
“Grindin’ – Main” – Clipse
“Lose Yourself” – Eminem
(Note: this is another one that gets me pumped and gives me chills.)
“Down ’71 (The Getaway)” – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
“Jewels N’ Drugs” – Lady Gaga, T.I., Too $hort, Twista
“Gypsy” – Lady Gaga
“Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)” – Lady Gaga
(Note: need I say it? I’m thinking the key to my running strong is songs that make me emotional.)
“Mr. N****” – Mos Def, Q-Tip
(Note: not running related but… I think Mos Def was really clever to write such a catchy song that uses the N-word. Listen to it some time and you’ll see what I mean.)
“Hey Ya!” – OutKast
“One of These Days” – Pink Floyd
“Violet” – Hole
“[I’m Not Your] Steppin’ Stone” – The Monkees
“Pleasant Valley Sunday” – The Monkees
“Star Collector” – The Monkees
“Goin’ Down” – The Monkees
“Always Be My Sunshine” – JAY Z, Babyface, Foxy Brown
“Volcano Girls” – Veruca Salt
“Shutterbug” – Veruca Salt
“Sound of the Bell” – Veruca Salt

Dear derziriff

Dd: I’m Done Feeling Things!

Each week, I’ll answer your burning questions with useful, common sense advice. Ask me anything: I know a little about a lot.

Dear derziriff,

I just got dumped and I’ve been feeling pretty rough. I just want to move on with my life and forget about it all. What can I do to get past this?

Don’t Want to Deal

Dear DWD,

I’m sorry about your loss. I’m also sorry to tell you that there’s no easy way to get through this and get on with your life. The way out is through, and you have to mire through all of the terrible emotions in order to move on. You have two choices:

  1. Move through your feelings quickly but then deal with them for the rest of your life; or
  2. Allow yourself to grieve and eventually have peace in your heart.

I know both options blow. No one likes to be dumped, and then to add insult to injury, you’re expected to deal with the grief! You’ll often hear people tell you to “get over it,” but I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. For starters, everyone handles loss differently. Some people sit in the anger stage for years, burning rubber. Others seem to fly through the five stages of grief because without realizing it, they were grieving before the loss actually happened.

Also, not only do people handle grief differently, some people are more sensitive than others. Telling a highly sensitive person to “get over it” will just make them think something’s wrong with them because they feel the way they do. Trust me, I know. This is the last thing you want to say to someone who’s just been dumped, because whoever dumped them probably has them feeling less-than-great as it is.

Let’s break this down stage by stage.

Denial
You’re in shock. That didn’t just happen. Sure, they broke up with you, but they didn’t really mean it. They’ll come back around. They just need time to cool off. They’ll realize how much they miss you and they’ll be back.

Sound familiar? This is denial. There’s no better word for it than shock. You might feel numb or flighty. This is denial:

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In my experience (and again, the best I can be is me), this stage doesn’t last very long. A few days, maybe a couple of weeks. You feel like there’s still hope, but in the back of your mind there’s a niggling doubt that maybe you’re wrong.

So what do I do? Well, you have to let yourself get through this stage, but here’s where I find it most helpful to surround yourself with people and activities that you love. Distraction is a wonderful tool. Take a little comfort in the denial stage, because the next one is worse.

Anger
You’re seething with rage. They’ve got it all wrong, and you’re gonna set them straight. How dare they say those things about you?! After all you’ve done for them?! [stream of obscenities]

Ah, anger. Anger is uncomfortable for a lot of people, but if you examine it in its most basic form, it’s meant to alert you that something is wrong. It’s crucial that you feel your anger, and it’s crucial you have good people on your side to help you through this. You may become a grumpy son of a bitch for a really long time. Try not to take it out on other people, though.

Here’s where you think about all the things you could have said. Here’s where you become a ruthless comedy writer. Here’s where you turn into a bad bitch:

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You may find yourself recalling celebrity feuds, listening to “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift and laughing about Trent Reznor calling Marilyn Manson “a dopey clown.” I always take comfort in knowing I’m not the first person to go through something, and I won’t be the last. It also helps to use your anger for good. Write! Draw! Exercise! Find an outlet and let your anger guide you through it. I find that when I’m angry, repeating a mantra as simple as, “Fuck you, [person’s name],” helps immensely.

So what do I do? Don’t skip this stage. Don’t gloss over it. You’ll find your anger cropping up forever, over and over again, if you skip it. Make sure it’s all out. It may take a long time. When a good friend and I broke up several years ago, I was angry for probably two years. It depends on how angry of a person you are and how severely wronged you feel. I think I carried anger toward my high school boyfriend all through college. The stronger the love, the stronger the anger. This is a great time to eradicate the person from your life. Get rid of photos (if you don’t want to delete, put them on a thumb drive and hide it), objects, clothing – anything that reminds you of them. Try to channel your anger into something worthwhile and know that someday, you will feel better.

Bargaining
You’re going over the relationship with a fine-tooth comb. Every sentence you utter begins with, “If only…” or “Why didn’t I…?” You should have just kept your mouth shut. You should have just let him go to the party. Why did you have to make such a big deal out of things?

Welcome to bargaining. Welcome to dwelling on why things went wrong, and wishing they didn’t. Welcome to more false hope – sort of what you dealt with in denial, but a little different. “Maybe if I become a different person, they’ll accept me!” I think the difference between denial and bargaining is that bargaining feels more frantic and panicky. Bargaining is when you find yourself feeling desperate.

So what do I do? I’ll sound like a broken record by the end of this, but you need some solid people around you during this process, and maybe now more than ever. You need people who will listen to your foolish, illogical thoughts and remind you of the truth. You need people who are firm in their convictions (which are really your convictions, but you’ve forgotten them temporarily). I urge you to reach out to your dearest friends at this point. Don’t take matters into your own hands because you’re liable to make a mistake, reach back out to the person who hurt you and make yourself look ridiculous, crazy or worse.

Depression
You can’t believe it’s over. You can’t believe you’ll never see this person again. You can’t go on. You feel hollow. You won’t ever feel good again. You hear a sad song in True Value Hardware and tear up. The stupidest things make you sad.

Besides anger, this is probably the worst stage. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” You might find yourself just feeling wrong – a general sadness, or a sense of unease, or even impending doom. You might wonder if you’ll ever feel happy again. The face of the person who dumped you will haunt your dreams, asleep and awake. You’ll feel like you can’t go on without them. You might cry a whole lot.

So what do I do? Let yourself feel. Don’t hold in your tears. I still feel extremely sad sometimes about the aforementioned friendship that ended several years ago. Like with anger, you have to remind yourself that this too shall pass. I have another thought I keep with me that makes me feel better. I find myself mourning the fact that I won’t be a part of someone’s life anymore, and then I remind myself: “That’s true, but they don’t get to be part of yours, either.” Remind yourself of all the great things you have going for you: the loving friends and family surrounding you, the talents that are uniquely yours, the little things in life that make you happiest. And when you feel like everything is broken, reach out to those people who care. Don’t retreat into yourself.

Acceptance
What’s done is done. You can’t change it. You can now think back on the past and it doesn’t feel like lead is sitting on your chest. You’ve got this. It’s their loss.

Ah, acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean you’re happy with the situation, but it does mean you’re finally ready to face reality and move forward. No more dwelling on the past, no more wishing things were different. It is what it is, and you know you’ll be OK. It truly is not about forgetting what happened, or feeling like sunshine and roses. It really is more about knowing:

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So what do I do? Call on this journey whenever you need to. When bad things happen in your life, or people don’t treat you the way you deserve, remember that you’re strong enough to make it through. I like to remind myself, “You’ve done this before, and you can do it again.” Keeping positive is important. And it’s also important to remember that things work out or don’t work out for a reason.

Do YOU have a question for me? Give me your questions and I’ll give you my answers! Send it to me and I’ll share my infinite wisdom.

Week 30

I know I’ve said this before, but I can’t believe I’ve been at this for 30 weeks!

Anyway, I seem to have created a somewhat bad pattern during the month of July. During the first week, I missed a day. The second week, it was two days. The third and fourth weeks, three days. My goal for this coming week will be to complete everything again.

When I was good and completed my planks and push-ups, I did them at 2:55 and two sets of 11 reps, respectively. Even without doing all of my planks and push-ups, it was a good week: work has calmed down considerably, so I was able to run and go to boot camp. It felt good to be back in a group ex class again!

On Saturday, I did a virtual 5k. For those who don’t know, a virtual race just means you run your own race wherever you are. This one was in memory of a little boy who lost his life. Their goal was to have someone run in all 50 states – I think at last tally they ended up with 35 states and 10 different countries. It was a slow run for me (11:24/miles) but it was very enjoyable. I tried to go early to avoid the heat, but I had been to the Mountain Tiki Bar the night before and had not one but two Confusions. They sort of did a number on me, so I was proud I made it out at all.

I’ve noticed I’m much happier concentrating on mileage rather than speed. Sure, I’d love to be faster, but whatevs. Completing my training mileage and knowing I’m working my way up to 13.1 is giving me a great sense of accomplishment.

TBT: Twenty-Four

Twenty-four was a pivotal age for me, with many love lessons learned. The year was 2009, and it began in Hubbardston, like a lot of other things in my life. I was living with my parents, working at The Gardner News, Inc. and seriously dating the only boyfriend my family has ever liked.

Only trouble was, I couldn’t stand him.

When we met, I was gaga for him. I was going to drop everything – quit my job, leave my home – and move to Marblehead to be with him. Luckily for me, several months into the relationship I found out he had been using drugs behind my back. He lost his job and home in Marblehead and moved back in with his parents. He made every attempt to be an upstanding citizen, but I could never shake the betrayal of having been lied to.

Anyway, in the beginning of 2009 we were right around the 18-month mark of our relationship. I found myself full of resentment and bitterness. I decided it was time to break up after talking to my then-friend and tattoo artist, who wisely pointed out that it was cruel to stay with someone simply because Valentine’s Day was approaching. “How would you feel if he was sitting there, wanting to break up with you but not doing it because of a holiday?” she asked me one night. I realized she was right and ended it later that week by moving my stuff out of his apartment (he had since moved to Holden) and delivering this straight-up movie-perfect line:

“This is my not so subtle way of saying it’s over.”

Lesson Learned: It’s better to let go than continually work on a relationship you’re already over.

I breathed a sigh of relief, single for the first time in years. That’s when I fell head-over-heels for a local musician that my sister introduced me to.

Not only was he exceptionally talented musically, he was the portrait of perfection: tall, lanky, electric blue eyes, jet black hair. He was also the most stereotypical Libra I’ve ever met: extremely flirtatious one week, downright cool the next. I brought several trusted friends to his shows and some weeks, one would say, “Holy shit, he is so into you!” The next week, a different friend would say, “Mm… sorry, but no.”

Enter my confusion, obsessive tendencies and romantic personality. I lost a lot of sleep, a lot of weight and a lot of time on this one. I followed him around to shows for seven months until one night I saw him interacting with an alleged prostitute, and then I was done. Thank God for my friend Emily, who listened to me yammer on about him week after week. When I finally came to work that fateful Monday in October and reported that it was over (whatever “it” was), she said something along the lines of: “Well if you ask me, he’s a damn fool.” She’s a good friend.

Lesson Learned: Never change who you are for a love interest. I covered my tattoos, acted quiet, stopped drinking, was always a perfect lady – essentially all the things that I’m not – because I thought that’s what he wanted. Then he went for an alcoholic lady of the night instead. If I had been myself, maybe I would have had a chance (not that I’m a lady of the night, but you get the idea).

By this point in the year, I had finally moved out of my parents’ house and into an apartment in Ayer with one of my closest friends at the time. I was safe from the scrutiny of my parents for the first time since college. Of course I felt the freedom to move onto the next guy without their watchful eyes and snippy criticism on me.

He was another musician in the Worcester scene who had tried to flirt with me while I was still tied up with Mister J. I knew where to find him, so I did. And he was just as cute and flirtatious as I remembered – for a whole week. The following week when I went to find him again, he was dancing with a pretty young thing and dodged me like the plague. Some friends of mine noticed and asked, “Do you like [shit, I honestly can’t remember his name]?” I nodded and they all screamed, “Oh no, stay away!!!” Apparently he was involved with a serious girlfriend, had a son and hit on anything that walked. They had all been hit on by him before and made it clear that I was a nice girl and they didn’t want anything bad to happen to me. I appreciated their honesty but felt like a damn fool. Luckily for me, I hadn’t really pursued anything: just a few texts here and there.

Lesson Learned: None (the lesson was not learned here, as you’ll see in the next story).

October ended and November began, and soon enough my former friend the tattoo artist was trying to set me up with a 20-year-old guy. “He can’t even go to a bar!” I lamented. She got the last laugh when he came to the shop and the three of us made plans to go to the Korean restaurant on the other side of town. As we got ready to leave she went, “Oh, I’ll meet you guys there. I just need to take care of something first.” Of course she never showed up. Essentially I was tricked into going on a date!

Actually, he was really nice and we hit if off immediately. I liked him a lot. We moved at the same pace: met each other’s parents a couple weeks in, went on lots of dates, had a lot of fun. Then shortly after Thanksgiving, he ghosted me.

I was inconsolable. My friends assured me that these things happen all the time. “They don’t happen to me!” I cried, my pride and my heart more than a little hurt. I’ve never experienced heartbreak like this. I literally cried myself to [broken] sleep for two weeks straight. When I did sleep – which wasn’t often – I had nightmares and pleasant dreams about him. I’ve never seen someone pull off such a disappearing act.

I haunted the tattoo shop, hoping to see him. I looked for him around town. I obsessively asked everyone I knew about him – and that’s when Erik entered my life.

Lesson Learned: If you’re not interested in a person when they flirt with you, don’t fall back on them when you’re in a vulnerable place. Clearly there’s a reason you aren’t interested in them in the first place, so don’t put yourself out there later. It doesn’t end well.

One Fishbowl of Wine, Please

I shall go home and drink a fishbowl of wine. That’s right, a whole fishbowl full of wine. If I had a fishbowl, that’s what I would do. I might just drink a glass instead.

I’m not a weeknight drinker – not since college, anyway. And work has been great. And things have been great, mostly. But here’s to another month gone, another tiny death. And here’s to the end of malicious manipulation. And here’s to knowing it’s still OK to drink wine. And here’s to wondering why I ever tried so hard to like you, because looking back, I never really liked you at all. We were thrown together by circumstance and nothing more.

When I think of you, I remember the Key & Peele sketch: “I said, ‘Biiitch…’” I’ve felt spineless, but no more. No more whispering, “Biiitch…” Now I’ll scream it from the rooftops.

Anyway, tonight’s fishbowl – glass – of wine

Courteney Cox with a huge glass of wine, amen.

Courteney Cox with a huge glass of wine, amen.

is a toast to July. I shall enjoy it.

Dear derziriff

Dd: I Can’t Let Go!

Each week, I’ll answer your burning questions with useful, common sense advice. Ask me anything: I know a little about a lot.

Dear derziriff,

I’m a control freak. I’m afraid that if I don’t do things myself they won’t get done or they’ll be wrong. How can I learn to let go without losing my sanity?

White Knuckle Grip

Dear WKG,

Welcome to the club. We control freaks are a miserable breed. On one hand, our perfectionist tendencies ensure a job well done. On the other hand, these tendencies drive other people up the wall and cost us our well-being.

In fact, that can be an easy way to learn how to delegate: ask yourself, “Is this particular task worth my well-being?” Most likely the answer is no, so why not hand it off to someone else?

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. You’re probably not quite there yet. As with many things in life, it’s best to start with baby steps. Last year, when I finally decided to learn to delegate, I started with things that I knew couldn’t be screwed up too badly. In my case, it was nametags for a dinner my organization hosted. It was a tedious task, one that would take time I didn’t have, and I decided I could let it go. After all, how hard is it to make sure everyone has a nametag?

I delegated the nametags to our summer intern, but it was hard for me to do. In the end, the nametags were done, on time, without mistakes. Were they as “pretty” as they would have been if I had done them? No, but what did it matter?

Letting go of one small task helped me to learn to let go of more medium-level tasks, and now, I can let go of bigger things, too. It didn’t happen overnight. It still isn’t completely comfortable. But I’ve learned. And if you’re trying to learn, I want you to know that you can!

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Know who to delegate to. Don’t give tasks to the office idiot. Don’t give tasks to people you don’t trust. You want to set yourself up for a positive experience, so use your best judgment.
  2. Know that you’re not perfect. I know you think you are, and you want everything to be perfect all the time, but you won’t be able to delegate until you admit that your way is not the only way. You have to be willing to accept that other people will accomplish tasks in their own way, and they’re not wrong.
  3. Know when to ask for help. Are you drowning? Can’t sleep at night? Papers piled everywhere, and to-do list reaching toilet paper roll proportions? You’re no good to anyone if you’re a ball of stress. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. People who admire and respect you want to help. Give them a chance.
  4. Know when to throw in the towel. If you’re really having trouble delegating, and you just can’t seem to let anything go (and this includes those of you who insist on working every day of the week!), do yourself a huge favor and ask your supervisor for recommendations on delegating. She is there to help you grow in your professionalism. If she doesn’t know how to help, there is a conference or workshop somewhere in the world just waiting to advise you on delegation.

I’ll reiterate: it’s not easy to learn how to delegate, but as with most difficult tasks in life, it gets easier the more you practice and the more success you have under your belt. Nothing worth having comes easy. Learn to delegate and ask for help and your health (and probably your family) will thank you.

And really, does it matter who makes all the nametags? Not as long as it gets done.

Do YOU have a question for me? Give me your questions and I’ll give you my answers! Send it to me and I’ll share my infinite wisdom.