Monday, July 21, 2008

Lost in a crowd

I was barely able to squeeze my way onto the T this morning. I spent my entire 30-minute commute pressed up against the subway doors, standing uncomfortably close to a mob of people. I could feel someone's arm hair brush against my shoulder. Someone else's bag kept knocking into my hip. Another person kept inadvertently tickling my arm with the metro. With no grab bar within reach, it was a struggle to remain on two feet. Every time the T operator pressed on the gas or the breaks, I jerked forward and back. Luckily, we were so jam packed that everyone's body help support each other, preventing anyone from falling.

The ride was miserable. But, as I stood there surrounded by countless strangers, it got me thinking. I generally like being a part of a crowd of people (as long as an easy escape route is always within reach). When I'm in a big group of people I feel small. I feel like I'm a part of something that is so much bigger than me, and it helps puts things in perspective. I realize that so many decisions I may have been stressing over are really quite trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Music memories

It's an understatement to say that my taste in music is eclectic - it's all over the place. I can honestly say my playlists aren't limited to particular artists or genres.

Sometimes I like a song because of the mood it elicits, and sometimes I just really connect with the lyrics. Once I like a song, I listen to often. And if I hear a song enough, I start to associate it with a particular memory or time in my life.

There are some songs I would normally hate, but because of the memory that's linked to them, I absolutely love them. Other times, I might hate a song purely because it takes me back to an awful memory or time in my life.

For this entry, I'm only focusing on some of my favorite songs and their associated memories (in no particular order), as cheesey as some of them may be.

Dude looks like a lady (Aerosmith). Every time I hear this song, I practically laugh out loud. When I was in middle school, I went on a summer vacation to Martha's Vineyard with my BFF Rach. One day, we were at the beach, and I was listening to Aerosmith on my sister's yellow, Tweety Bird walkman. To top it off, I was wearing my dad's enormous studio headphones that were way too big for my tiny head. At the time, Aerosmith was my favorite band, and when "Dude Looks Like a Lady" came on, I started singing out loud. I knew I looked ridiculous, and I didn't care that the couple next to us were cracking up. Now, every time this song comes on, this memory plays vividly in my mind, and it makes me reminisce about one of my favorite family vacations.

We Dance Alone (Beck). One of the first albums I bought when I moved to California was The Information. We Dance Alone makes me think about running through the small side streets of Pasadena, taking in the vibrant flowers and foliage that bloomed year round.

My Heart Will go on (Celine Dion). Another funny memory from a very long time ago. My first slow dance with a huge crush. At the time, it was the highlight of my freshman year. After the prom, I played the song over and over again, recreating the dance in my mind. Now, when I hear it, it makes me laugh. It's really amazing how some inconsequential events can seem so monumental when you're younger.

The entire Pulp Fiction album.
I think that I, along with maybe three or four other people, might hold the record for listening to this album the most number of times. When I hear this, I think Keystone Light (yuck), beer pong and goofing around with great friends.

Strangers in the Night (Frank Sinatra). My grandfather loves Frank Sinatra. When Sinatra is playing in the background, he does "the old-man shuffle" (much like Bill Cosby). Wearing his old suede slippers, he sings along to the music as he points and smiles at everyone.

I will always love you (Whitney Houston).Way back when, my little eight-year-old sister was arguably Whitney's number-one fan. My grandparents played into it, and always put on The Bodyguard CD when we came over. As soon as it came on, my sister jumped to the center of the room, grabbed the nearest microphone-like prop and belted out "I will always love you" at the top of her lungs. Within seconds, she was in the spotlight and everyone stopped what they were doing to watch.

You are so beautiful (Joe Cocker). Unconditional, uninhibited love is all I have to say about this song.

Lochloosa (Mofro). Although this song is about a small country town in Florida, it reminds me of Hollywood - where I saw my first Mofro concert. One of my favorite songs, I've come to associate it with warm summer nights, sandy beaches, palm trees and strawberry-banana smoothies.

Skating (Vince Guaraldi). Obviously, this song reminds me of Christmas. But, after spending my first Christmas away from family, it's even more sentimental to me. It makes me think about decorating our tree with all the old, homemade ornaments from our childhood. It also reminds me of other family traditions - like reading the Polar Express and watching Rudolph on Christmas Eve.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Random, fun facts about Jen

Whether you know me or not, I bet you didn't know these things about me.
  • I just might be the best hula hooper you ever met.
  • I'm a sucker for memoirs.
  • I scratch my nose when I'm trying not to cry.
  • I think you're never too old to enjoy the swings.
  • I'm irrationally terrified of squirrels, pigeons and geese.
  • I talk to my dog as if she was a person.
  • I'm a little bit in love with JJ Grey.
  • I think cheese and kielbasa are the two greatest foods ever created.
  • I can relate practically every real-life situation to a Seinfeld episode.
  • When I was little, I wanted to be a housekeeper when I grew up because it was the only profession I could think of that didn't require a college education. (At that age, the idea of moving out of my house and going away to school was unthinkable.)
  • I don't understand people's infatuation with cars. I am completely uninterested.
  • I think Anderson Cooper is dreamy.
  • I prefer my trips, vacations and adventures to be completely spontaneous.
  • I like to wear heels - no matter how much I tower over everyone.
  • I don't like to be called Jennifer.
  • When I smell fresh cut grass, I want to eat flavor ice and run through the sprinkler until my tongue is purple and my feet are green.
  • I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but I do believe in bucket lists.
  • I want to have my very own peach and apple trees one day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Love, loss and happiness

For the first time in a very long time, the idea of losing someone I care about is a very real possibility. To be honest, the idea is absolutely terrifying. How will I cope with the emptiness that's left behind? Will I let the sadness grow until it swallows me? Or will I fill up the space in my heart with happy memories?

Death has always felt very far away from me. Maybe it's because I always push thoughts of death and dying far to the back of my mind - locked away so I feel safe; so I don't have to deal with the unavoidable, unpredictable reality of loss.

It's hard for death to feel real when I've never lost anyone close to me. I attended a handful of funerals when I was little, but I always felt removed from the event - like I was there as an observer rather than a participant. Although I could feel the pain of everyone around me, it wasn't my own sadness or grief. My eyes were dry and my heart was still in one piece.

Maybe that's why death has been on my mind so much lately. It's almost like I'm trying to prepare myself for what's to come. If I can imagine it to the point where it almost feels real, maybe it will soften the blow. Maybe then I won't crumble under the weight of my sorrow.

For me, it's equally as difficult to see others going through the same experience. When you see panic and heartache behind eyes of your family's matriarch, you feel powerless. For the first time, this strong, gregarious woman looks tired and fragile - as if she might shatter in my arms.

But all this thinking about death also makes me reflect on life and all of the amazing, interesting and lovable people who fill it. I think, no matter how hard it is, we should try to focus on the laughs, hugs and funny stories people leave behind instead of letting sadness eat away at our hearts and souls.