Intrepid Girl Reporter

Saturday, 5/29: the graduation of Little Broseph
May 29, 2010, 10:48 pm
Filed under: cultural theorizing, IGR Recommends, life progress, music

First of all, I am completely obsessed with this video, which I found thanks to the ever-knowledgeable Rachel.

It’s entirely possible that Janelle Monae might bring back saddle shoes single-handedly. Apparently she played the 9:30 Club this weekend, but unfortunately, I am not in DC right now, so I had to miss the Cindi Mayweather dance.

In reading about Monae, I also discovered Afrofuturism, which I had never heard of before but which is AWESOME. And I find Mark Dery’s explanation of it fairly compelling, inasmuch as I can comprehend it at this hour – it might be a bit late for cultural criticism, but the idea behind the movement makes sense (and could conceivably, with a bit of tweaking, be applied to other ethnic groups as well, should they move into the realm of science fiction). Also, fun fact: LeVar Burton’s real name is Levardis. Because that sounds like some kind of blood pressure medication, I’d probably go with LeVar too.

I’m home because Miguk Little Brother made it through high school – yes, the same high school that sells shirts that read “Topper Nation: Where Only the Strong Belong.” Which I maintain suggests, at the very least, eugenics. So I suppose I should be grateful that he made it through without being killed for weakness, or something. It wasn’t particularly emotional, probably because this is graduation #3 and we still have two college graduations, a graduate school graduation, and probably two more grad school graduations after that to get through. I guess after the first one the rite of passage doesn’t seem quite as shocking. La Sister gave him a sombrero, a whoopie cushion, and Groucho Marx glasses. I gave him a ramen spoon. I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s ready for the world.


Friday, 1/1: I and love and you
January 2, 2010, 1:29 am
Filed under: life progress, music

The line between therapeutic and self-indulgent is often fuzzy. For example: I got the new Chuck Klosterman book for Christmas (ostensibly from my little brother, although I suspect he’d be hard-pressed to tell me the title), which is neurotic enough to make me feel not alone and not crazy, but at the same time prevents me from moving on to higher planes of thinking. I.e., not gazing at my own or someone else’s navel. By the same token: even if the Avett Brothers express exactly the sort of cranky anguish that I have returned to, intermittently, for the past few months and longer, is it really necessary for me to listen to such music when introspection might be the last thing I need? Shouldn’t I be listening to, I don’t know, Os Mutantes or something?

Unbelievably, it appears that I have failed to write on this blog about my favorite New Year’s song ever, Dan Wilson’s “What a Year for a New Year”; I feel like I have, so what probably happened is that I wrote about it on my old/current secret blog, likely multiple times. Yes, Dan Wilson is the guy from Semisonic (hi Brendan). I’ve been listening to it on or around December 31 since, I don’t know, probably high school – the Maybe This Christmas compilation came out in 2002, so that would be about right. Every year it feels more applicable than ever before, even if that’s not true. It probably was true, last year, which was spent more or less in a holding pattern. This year it probably feels like it fits solely because of the last two or three months, but to be fair, I have changed houses and jobs multiple times and gotten into and out of the realest relationship I’ve ever had, as well as, you know, paid bills and stuff. So maybe it qualifies.

I made a mind map and subsequent chart (using Curio, natch) of my resolutions and goals for the year. It’s a big chart, mostly because I have broken them into obstacles, solutions, next steps, etc. This both does and does not represent progress for me: the use of productivity tools shows that I am both wanting to and getting a better grasp on my life, but the extensiveness of what I’ve done shows that I retain the false belief that anything can be done with a plan, no matter how impossible it actually is. The summary of it all is that it’s probably going to be another year of changes; God willing, I’ll be going back to school, probably moving, definitely not getting married (unlike most of my high school and college classmates), etc. Having to shift from adult paradigm to student paradigm – which, in some ways, it feels like I’ve never left anyway. I guess the most important takeaway is how necessary it is for me to start being okay on my own: which means a) maintaining the relationships that contribute so greatly to my life, and b) doing things that make me happy – in which “happy” is not to be conflated with “I am depressed and this habit makes me feel less bad.” That is how people stay in bed until it is time to get ready for work. Which is fine, as long as your work doesn’t start at 11 AM, like mine does. Dwelling on the past essentially has the same effect as doing that – it feels okay for a while, but you’re not getting anything done, and it’s getting things done that makes you feel good. Where “you” is “me.”

I guess, in that sense, listening on repeat to Dan Wilson qualifies as self-indulgence, at least a little bit. It would be better for me to find something new, to quit dwelling on the idea that this new year has to be better PLEASE GOD and not giving thanks, because that’s the same idea I’ve had for the better part of this past decade. And yet I keep returning to him. I guess this is part of the human condition, this perpetual trying and having mixed feelings about it all?

What a year for a new year
We need it like we needed life I guess
Last one left us lying in a mess
What a year for a new year

What a night for a sunrise
And we thought the dark would never end
Reaching out to try to find a friend
What a night for a sunrise

What a day for new day
And our star shines like a miracle
And our world is almost beautiful again
What a day for a new day
New day

What a year for a new year

What a night for a sunrise
And we thought the dark would never end
Reaching out to try to find a friend
What a night for a sunrise

Soon we’ll be lying in our beds
And new dreams will fill our heads
And the old ones will be ended
Hope we’ll forget about this place
Let it go without a trace
Wipe the teardrops from our faces
Oh! What a year for a new year!

Monday, 12/15: like you and me
December 16, 2008, 1:20 am
Filed under: history, I am not cool, IGR Recommends, life progress, meta, music | Tags: ,

I thought I only had one thing to write about, but actually I was wrong.

1. You probably have (not) noticed that my avatar has changed. Tricia Takanawa seems to fit me, since we’re both essentially Connie Chung 2.0. Given the fact that I do have a job that will be starting soon, I need to make a much stronger effort towards anonymity. I’m also going to try to sort of consolidate my internet identity in the new year, because I have so many damn projects going on. I need to make sure that everything is identifiably me, where “me” is “anonymous” (unless you already know me). At least that’s what I’m thinking right now.

2. I lost my watch. I really hate losing things, which is strange, because I do it so often that one would think I would have established some sort of fail-safe by now. I know it’s in my room somewhere, and what I’m inclined to think happened is that I probably left it out on my dresser and the cleaning people MM hired to come every couple weeks put it somewhere I can’t find. (I don’t think they took it, because there are a lot of other nicer things they could have taken.) At any rate, I am usually okay with trying to find things over the course of time, but occasionally I lapse back into my old panic mode, which usually involves me blowing the whole thing out of proportion (i.e.: this means that I am forever irresponsible, that I have no appreciation for the nice things my parents have provided for me, therefore that I am a bad daughter, etc., etc.). All of which means that although I sound calm, I am secretly freaking out. I am reminded of a story I never liked about my father: when he was little his grandfather gave him a piastre and he lost it and went ballistic, so much so that his grandfather tried to give him another. “No,” he said. “I want THAT ONE.” I hated it for two reasons that should be fairly obvious: 1) even as a child I was concerned with the prospect of buying love and wanted my parents to know that I would never be so materialistic that I would care what they got me (yes, I was the most neurotic six-year-old on the planet); 2) I totally sympathized with my dad and knew that he never got that stupid coin back.

3. I will hopefully write a series of entries re: my favorite Christmas CDs, and I would like to start by discussing a set we listen to with some frequency every year:

We actually have 1 and 5 as well, but they never get as much play. It should be unsurprising that as a middle/high school student, I was far more taken with traditional songs covered in a way that could be construed as “edgy” (well, if you’re thirteen) than anything else. Also that I’m a big fan of what was considered cool in the mid-1990s. NONETHELESS: AVSC2 has an absolutely incredible cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Believe in You,” by Sinead O’Connor, as well as an awesome jazzy version of “What Child is This” by Vanessa Williams (yes, that Vanessa Williams). Meanwhile, 3 features the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Christmastime,” which makes wonderful use of that joyous thing the Pumpkins do so well when they want to, as well as “The Christmas Song,” one of my favorite Dave Matthews songs. SHUT UP. Also “Christmas is Now Drawing Near At Hand,” which is probably the best and weirdest thing that Steve Winwood (!!!) ever recorded.

4. I went to look at house shares in DC this weekend, which was for real almost as difficult as trying to get a job. Demand > supply. Fortunately, I managed to meet a lot of really cool people whom I would like to see again, even if I don’t live with them. Still, though, I got to experience the open house, which is basically like a co-ed Greek rush in which everyone is desperately trying to convince the current tenants that:

  1. they are the most fun person there, except
  2. that they are totally cool and already have friends and thus are not doing the housemate thing to make friends at all and that it doesn’t matter if the housemates want to hang out with them or not, and
  3. that in addition to being fun they are also responsible and employed and
  4. will simultaneously be really clean and not care at all if anyone else is dirty.

FUN STUFF. I will have housing updates by tomorrow at the latest.

We stopped at a Vietnamese place in Arlington on the way out, and it had canh chua tom, which is probably one of my favorite Vietnamese soups ever and is often absent from restaurant menus. I think it’s kind of a pain to make. The walls were lined with pictures of American military officials, all of whom had written notes for the owner. During the meal, I think I asked MA who used to cook for the family when he was a kid, and he started telling us about the nannies and the cook and the chauffeur/bouncer (“He was like a cool uncle”), none of whose whereabouts are currently known. At least not by us. Later he said, “The owner probably knows my mom.”

“Why?” I asked.

There’s a large Vietnamese community in NoVa, and apparently it’s full of ex-military officials and high-ups – which makes sense when one considers its location. Which is the circle my family would have been in. “You should ask to see him,” I said, and he shook his head.

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about that man a lot, and how young my father was when he lost all of that – a loss for which most people probably wouldn’t have much sympathy. No one has any love for the bougie.

Friday, 11/7: new favorite
November 8, 2008, 5:19 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, music

I have the Johnny Cash version too. I heard Bob Edwards (whom I love) interviewing James Taylor (whom I do not) and they were talking about his cover of this song, which I had never heard before. What’s weird is that to me, this sort of sounds like an REM song anyway, not a cover. I remember when Michael Stipe came out and everyone was like, “Did he think he was fooling anyone?” I wish he could get married in California, or anywhere else he wanted.

Saturday, 9/27: dorkus maximus
September 28, 2008, 4:38 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, life progress, media, music

I would like to tell the media, all of them, that I am a little disappointed in them for not devoting more serious mockery to Joe Biden, a man who, by all appearances, is the very definition of a crazy old coot. I just watched another Tina Fey skit re: Sarah Palin, and it’s not that Tina isn’t terrific or that there’s not a lot of absurdity in the Palin situation, but come on. Joe Biden told an audience that when the stock market crashed in 1929, FDR got on TV to comfort the American people. This is a man who has the potential to be the next Dan Quayle! And yet the media, with the exception of the mostly-reliable (and ever-dreamy) Jon Stewart, seems to be leaving him largely alone. When media bias starts depriving us of cheap shots, it’s time to draw the line.

Yesterday I saw Ghost Town, which I recommend in the same vein as Definitely Maybe – it’s not going to blow your mind open, but as a romantic comedy, it was just really well done, every aspect, and Ricky Gervais is awesome (duh). There was a song playing in the credits and I was like, that’s a beautiful song, who sings it? They sound familiar. It was John Mayer, of course. Some force in the universe is driving me back hardcore to the music of my past, maybe because it feels like my ego needs to be taken down a few notches. (Evidently months of unemployment hasn’t done it yet.) I’m never going to leave adolescence, evidently, especially not considering that listening to “Heart of Life” actually made me feel a little bit better than I have lately, a little less sour and stale. Look, I need to hear that it’s okay that all my plans are sort of derailed and I feel directionless, okay? Even if it’s from the singer of “Your Body is a Wonderland.” And for the record, I met him once at EarXTacy in Louisville when I was sixteen and he was totally cool, even given the fact that I spewed nonsense about how I sang one of his songs at my high school talent show.

Oh man Kenan Thompson is starring in this next skit. I am so glad he is on SNL. This is the most context-appropriate, and perfect, child-star result I can imagine.

you know it’s nothing new
bad news never had good timing
but then the circle of your friends
will defend the silver lining

pain throws your heart to the ground
love turns the whole thing around
no it won’t all go the way it should
but i know the heart of life is good

I made siu mai with my mother tonight. When she paints the lines of egg along the wrappers they have this almost Mondrian precision. Mine, on a good day, are best compared to Jackson Pollock. But I’m learning.

Sunday, 9/21: diamonds on the inside
September 22, 2008, 3:55 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, music

Here’s another secret about me: I love Ben Harper. This is just another indicator that despite my bespectacled and intellectualed exterior, a little bit of my heart still lives in my sophomore dormitory and in the KKG house. In other words, part of me will always remain deeply fratty. I was listening to Diamonds on the Inside on my way home from Lexington, an album whose first song Soccer once proclaimed “too horrible to listen to.” Let’s not pretend that Mr. Harper is a subtle lyricist in any way. That having been said, if you’re willing to overlook that sort of thing, this album is so feel-good. Especially “Blessed to Be A Witness.” If I had to make a top-5 list of songs I actually enjoy that are rooted in Christianity, it would be composed entirely of Ben Harper and Sufjan Stevens songs, probably because they are the only ones whose music falls under that category. (Note: the folder link doesn’t contain all of the songs on the album, because I don’t have them all. You’ll live.)

The days I spent with Rooms and Rooms this weekend were marked by consumption, specifically: a torta, Graeter’s ice cream OM NOM NOM, fried pickles, and delicious Caribbean food at Atomic Cafe. The Festival Latino was filled with incredible dancing and about five too many country shout-outs, although I’m sure that the two people present from Uruguay did appreciate the announcer’s repeated acknowledgement of their presence. Last night we went out to Molly Brooke’s and then McCarthy’s, where we found ourselves in a very interesting political discussion with some German dudes who were studying mechanical engineering. After which we made our way back to R&R’s apartment, and I fell asleep and dreamed that I was raising from a hatchling a baby pelican named Vernon.

With the help of Rooms and Rooms, I also came up with the best idea ever: the anti-wedding playlist. The genesis of this came when I told Rooms that I wanted her to perform a duet at my wedding in which I would accompany her while we sang “Losing My Religion.” After Rooms drily suggested adding “Everybody Hurts” and “My Heart Will Go On” to the roster, I decided that the theme of my rehearsal dinner is going to be Inappropriate Wedding Music, with the centerpiece songs being U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and Squeeze’s “Tempted by the Fruit of Another.” Other potential inclusions:

  • “Wicked Game” – Chris Isaak
  • “Glycerine” – Bush
  • “My Best Friend’s Girl” – The Cars
  • “Lola” – The Kinks
  • “Creep” – Radiohead
  • “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” – the Smiths

Of course, at the moment I have a million bridesmaids and no groom, but this list, I believe, will stand the test of time. Other suggestions, O Best Beloved?

Here are a few shots of the weekend. I’m still trying to learn the night aspects of the new point-and-shoot. (I couldn’t bring the big fat camera for obvious reasons.)

Rooms and her sister didn't like this picture, but I did

Rooms and her sister didn't like this picture but I did

Ale-81s are not only delicious, they are also .49 at the Kroger on Romany

Ale-81s are not only delicious, they are also .49 at the Kroger on Romany

Rooms eats black raspberry chip

Rooms eats black raspberry chip

I eat toffee chip with homemade butterscotch. Did you know that Graeter's pours their chocolate in during the churning process, resulting in large and awesome chips?

I eat toffee chip with homemade butterscotch. Did you know that Graeter's pours their chocolate in during the churning process, resulting in large and delectable chips?

Lexington by night...look closely and you'll see Rooms

Lexington by night...look closely and you can see Rooms

we're pretty sure that this woman Photoshopped herself into this Fayette Mall advertisement

Monday, 9/8: in which IGR tries to determine her evil superpower
September 9, 2008, 4:22 am
Filed under: blogz, books, IGR Recommends, music, poetry

It took being housebound for me to finally start using Google Reader. Despite all the junk food I consume off the internets, I never set up any sort of blog browsing tool, in part because half the blogs I read actually belong to other people I know who don’t know that I read their blog. You heard it here first: IGR is a blog creeper. (Oh, you probably are too.) I suppose that by failing to actually organize these blogs, I allowed myself to deny that I wasted so much time on such things.

Today, however, I have been more or less unable to leave the house. As it turns out, your trusty reporter is more allergic than not to a fairly large class of antibiotics, a fact unknown until, oh, yesterday. When I woke up Sunday morning I mostly looked spotty, but today I resemble a villain in a community-theater production of Batman. Rather than subject others to the sight of me glaring at my arms and willing them to stop itching, I finally learned to stop worrying and love the blogroll. Actually, it seems to save me time, since I’m not constantly trying to remember what I want to read and when I last read it.

All of which leads me to my new favorite blog, This Recording. Note the juxtapositions of verse and baseball! Note the fact that they reminded me that I really wanted to download Cloud Cult (which I inexplicably keep typing as “Cloud Clut”)! Note the breadth of the coverage and the carefully chosen mp3s that go along with each entry! There’s a variety of topics presented here on a regular basis, all interesting and entertaining. A winner.

One last thing: I am still ostensibly on South Beach (ha), but yesterday I received The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook as a gift from Miguk Apa on a trip to the bookstore. (I was also the recipient of a very nice external hard drive. It was a good thing I wasn’t too inflamed to leave the house.) So excited. The cheese bacon grits alone look like they’re worth the price of the book. I wonder if I should even pretend like I’m ever going to diet again.


Mary Oliver

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them —

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided —
and that one wears an orange blight —
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away —
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.