Friday, June 23, 2017

My Shot...

I listen to the soundtrack for Hamilton every single day.

I'm pretty sure I drive my co-workers crazy, because not only do I listen to it every day, but I also tend to play it on a loop.

Of all my celebrity crushes, my biggest is on Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I loved him long before Hamilton.

I, as you know, am a musical theatre geek, and I first fell in love with Lin when I watched a PBS special about his first Broadway musical, In the Heights. The documentary was basically a behind the scenes look at someone making their first musical, the vast amount of work that goes into a show that could close in a week, but in the case of In the Heights go on to win the Tony award for best musical in 2008.

What I took from this documentary and carried with me for all of these years was that this man, this Lin-Manuel, who is one year younger than me, was never going to be able to live up to this billing. I adored him-I found him to be so well spoken and charming and fascinating-but I knew, in my wizened age, that lightning doesn't strike twice. Producing one amazing musical, one book of such importance-nothing that this man ever did could live up to this "coming out," as the documentary put it.

Enter Hamilton.

So, what goes through my mind every day when I listen to the amazing feats of a founding father that I knew was important to banking but, like everyone, I didn't realize his true importance until Lin wrote 46 songs that explained it all to me-what goes through my mind is, why was I so certain that this was impossible? What happened to me that made me believe that dreams need to end upon your first success, and if they don't, if you dare fly toward that sun again, you will surely get burned?

I'm not sure. I know that the birth of Betsy was the culmination of all of my dreams, and the birth of Felicity was the icing on top of the cake. That I could have one daughter was a miracle. Me, the girl who dreamed so hard of having a family, who talked about her imaginary children like they were real for as long as anyone remembers, and the girl who never had a boyfriend, ever-that girl somehow managed to have all of her dreams come true.

Dreaming beyond that seems impossible. What dreams I harbor now are for my girls to be contented and free and blessed. Growing up with them, which make no doubt is exactly what I'm doing, is fun and my favorite part of my life. I exasperate my family and most of my friends because, as I have grown fond of saying, "I want to be invited to the party but I don't want to go." I want to be seen. I even want to be heard. But beyond that, I can't function. And I can't even find proper words to express that. Words have never failed me before, but when it comes to what my future is supposed to look like outside of my girls, I am at a total loss.

Enter Hamilton. Again.

Pick up the pieces. Keep moving forward. Write and write and write.

And someday, this will all make sense.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Back to the Future...

All 80s, all the time summer.

It's such fun.

How did all 80s, all the time summer come into being? Well, I claimed it for myself a few years ago and what I mainly meant was that Nick and I watched 80s movies all summer. It was fun.

Then, of course, summer 2015 happened.

Last year was better, but the girls and I were still adjusting to how summer works in this new family that we have created from broken pieces of the old family. At this particular juncture in life, summer means that the girls are with Nick during the week and with me on the weekends. So, you know, backwards and inside out from normal.

But this year all 80s, all the time summer is making a comeback. And it's even better than before because sharing movies with my girls is so much fun. I dread the day that they outgrow watching movies with their mom, eating popcorn and junk food and just basically living the slumber party part of being a house full of girls that makes my life as it exists now a delight.

So, anyway, all 80s, all the time does take a slight bit of planning. Because, after all, I am me and I'm pretty type A. But I try not to overthink it or it becomes a chore, one more thing I have to do. And that is most definitely not what the 80s was about- the 80s was about fun and glamour and Molly Ringwald.

All 80s, all the time summer involves things other than just the movies. It involves all 80s music in the car, and 80s board games for game nights. For me personally, it involves rereading my favorite books (Sweet Valley, Baby-sitter's Club, and some classic Lois Duncan) and also trying to catch up with some that I missed (I am currently trying to read all the Madeleine L'Engle that I somehow sadly neglected as a young adult).

Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick is one of my most favorite books of all time. I love reading about what other people love reading and this particular collection is so wonderful because it is completely full of books from the late 1970s and 1980s that just sound delicious. I'm not quite sure why I love reading what other people think of things so much, but I definitely do, and hearing about your favorite 80s novel that you treasured in junior high just thrills me-all the more if you are just slightly older than me, and so can speak with a sort of wisdom that I'm always stretching toward but never quite manage. I'm never going to be as cool as I find people to be who were born in the early 1970s, it's just a fact of life.

Shelf Discovery is a great collection of somewhat more serious young adult lit. There isn't much discussion of the luscious Wakefield twins and other books of their ilk, so if you are into that sort of thing, let me point you toward the Cliquey Pizza website. There are actually 3 of these websites for some reason, and all feature stacks of books that I would love to get my hands on from the 1980s. The reviews that she has are great, but the vision was clearly grander than the reality. I have an idea in the back of my head to someday have a blog devoted solely to these guilty pleasure reads, just to create what it is that I'm searching for, but for the time being, that is just going to have to live in my head.

Retro Hell is also a cool book devoted to both 1970s and 1980s pop culture. It's meant to be read more like a dictionary but I always start on page one and read all the way through. I'm a nerd.

But, of course, all 80s all the time summer is mostly about the movies. According to the girls, that's the fun part. My go to reference guide to all 80s movies is Pretty in Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies by Jonathan Bernstein. I bought this book by chance at WaldenBooks way back when I was 16 and I loved it so much that I bought two more copies to give my best friends, Michelle and Tanya. We all three adored 80s movies and mostly spent our Saturday nights at the Cinema Shop watching as many as we could find. Bernstein takes to task these movies, and he loves some that I'm iffy on, and vice versa, but it's just mostly just a delight.

So, what is my 80s watch list? I will tell you. But I do have some caveats. I can't chose anything that is very scary because I have a highly sensitive child who feels permanently scarred by my insistence on watching Hocus Pocus every October. Additionally, I try to not choose anything that I think is too blue. I do let them watch some stuff that is more raunchy than I probably should (Vacation has a lot of bad language and sex, but who am I to deny them the pleasure of watching John Candy be forced to ride roller coasters at BB gun point?) And this list is in no particular order other than when a movie popped into my head making this list.

1. Footloose
2. Fame
3. Summer School
4. Mystic Pizza
5. The Princess Bride
6. Pretty In Pink
7. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
8. Weird Science
9. The Breakfast Club
10. Pretty in Pink
11. Can't Buy Me Love
12. The Karate Kid
13. The Outsiders
14. Xanadu
15. Adventures in Babysitting
16. Back to the Future
17. Caddyshack
18. The Lost Boys
19. Dream a Little Dream
20. E.T.
21. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
22. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
23. Ghostbusters
24. The Goonies
25. Just One of the Guys
26. License To Drive
27. Vacation
28. European Vacation
29. Say Anything...
30. War Games
31. St. Elmo's Fire
32. Dirty Dancing
33. Mannequin
34. Maid to Order
35. Happy Together

I could go on and on. I was trying to keep it to 24, because that would be two movies every weekend. But I just had to get a few more in there. I'm learning to be okay if we don't get to everything. It's part of my learning to be an adult.

Anyway, this post is likely not that interesting to most people. But I hope that there are at least a couple of other 80s lovers in my orbit. I know in my head that my poor college professor who told me that no good music was made past 1975 simply lived in a different era- she wasn't a child looking up to super cool high schoolers with big hair and shoulder pads, dreaming of the day she would join their ranks. Of course, by the time I got to high school all of that 80s glitz had dissipated into 90s grunge. Which I love in its own way. But that is another blog post for another day.

For this summer, I'll stick with my most beloved John Hughes and Debbie Gibson and try to pretend that I will ever be as cool as someone born about eight years earlier than me.