Not that I want to keep moving around the country like a nomad, but it's really interesting to me to be able to observe the differences (and similarities) between different areas. I went from Millersport (a small, one stop light town) to Columbus (a diverse and artsy city with great suburbs), to Nashville (touristy, VERY southern, and a terrifying place to drive), back to Columbus, and now to Port Isabel/South Padre Island, Texas.
A few differences I've noticed:
1) It is the "land of mañana." I did not make up this phrase, just to be clear. I have heard this from SO many people since we've moved down here, it's ridiculous. Granted, I noticed it myself pretty quickly, but it was nice to know that it's not just me and my impatient Northern ways. But that's the thing.......everything is so "go, go, go" where I come from that it's easy to forget how to slow down. In a lot of ways it's nice to be in the "land of mañana" -- less stress. Not everything is super important and some things can wait.
However, when it comes to people scheduling things in advance, businesses keeping normal hours, and information on websites being correct -- just to name a few -- good lord........the Northerner in me wants to break things.
2) No one cares about copyright -- no one -- especially the island area. It's incredible. They name things whatever the hell they want, use trademarked images, and use songs in ways that would get them major fines if we weren't so freakin' far south that no one cares. And that's their rationale -- no one cares because we're basically in our own little island bubble. They're not wrong, but still!
Let me give you an example........there used to be a restaurant called PadreRitaVille.........but Jimmy Buffett said hell no and they had to change it. That's probably the only time anyone here has gotten caught, but they also messed with the wrong guy. Jimmy owns everything island and kitschy.
3) Wine is infinitely cheaper down here. It's fantastic. Granted, not ALL bottles are, but I've noticed a pretty significant difference in several kinds that I've bought in the past. When I was in Tennessee for grad school I was pretty broke, so in order to satiate my wine craving I would buy the double bottles of Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon. Don't judge -- it's one of the best cheap ones out there. To put it into perspective, the regular 750ml bottle in Ohio is generally $7-8. Well, a double bottle in Tennessee was $9.99. Oh yes...........And guess what? I'm in the South again, so it's $9.99 here too! Also, I found Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc for $7.99 at a nearby Target the other day. I was so excited at the register with my two bottles of wine (for less than the price of one in Ohio), that I'm fairly certain I had the kind of smile on my face my niece has when she sees chocolate. Southern state wine prices are awesome. AWESOME.
4) The weather, but that's a given. It's still in the 90s here. Beyond exercising, I have exclusively worn flip flops since we moved here back in July. I have a feeling I may be able to wear them year-round, or pretty close to it. Granted, this also means it's possible to get a sunburn around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it also means year-round outdoor pool.................so that's cool.
A few similarities I've noticed:
1) It's a small town, so there are several similarities to my old stomping grounds.
2) Columbus will forever have a special place in my heart, and one of the main reasons is because of the people. There are so many wonderful and interesting people from all over -- many Columbus residents are not originally from the area (or even Ohio). One of my favorite things about this part of Texas is that there are a ton of transplants. Every chance I get I try to find out where people are from and why they're here. I've met a few Northerners, but the main reaction I get when people find out where I'm from is, "Wow. Big move. Is it too hot for you down here?" Then I have to explain that Ohio does in fact get sun -- we just have more drastic seasons than an area like this. Maybe they think Ohio is in Canada...........who knows...........
3) Our family and friends. Turns out, that even from over 1,500 miles away, that you're still awesome. Thank you -- all of you -- for being there during this transition. I'm super excited about future visits to Ohio, but I'm even more excited for you to come and visit us. We want you to see just how beautiful and special this place is. Hell, you may never want to leave. I mean, I wouldn't hate it if you moved........
Regardless of the differences and similarities, this is where we're at now. It's an adventure, it's beautiful, and who knows.......maybe it will officially become home. Or maybe not. We'll see. :)
Earlier this year I reflected on how I've ended up doing pretty much everything I said I'd never do. I've learned not to say such things (I think), but the other factor in those things happening is that very little in life goes according to plan. I've lost count of how many times I've re-calibrated my "plan" for my life. And every single time I do this, I somehow forget that I do not have that kind of control. Life doesn't work that way. But I'm sure each time I make those plans, there is some evil karmic being thinking, "This will be fun........"
At an event I was working recently, a very sweet lady asked me if I was a student at the university I work at.
Me: "Why thank you for thinking I still look that young, but no. I did go here for my undergrad, but I graduated 6 years ago."
(6 years? Ugh. I'm just gonna pretend like that's not a thing...............)
So that lead to her asking what my degree is in and what I'm doing now, which then raised the question, "Why grants?," accompanied by a slightly puzzled look.
Good question. I'm still asking myself the same thing.
Me: "Well, you see...................(*word vomit*)..................something about music being unstable and deciding it was a good idea to get my MBA so I could have some stability, but still pursue my musical passions on the side."
Nice Lady: "Oh, that's very smart. Good for you."
Me: (Is it though? I wracked up a ton of student loan debt and am making about the same money as I did piecing together music stuff. The only difference is that I have benefits and have to get up earlier. So is it smart? Really???? Meh.......................)
Why grants? Because it's where I freaking landed, that's why. Don't get me wrong, I actually do like what I do for the most part, but it wasn't "in my plan." At this point I don't even know what my plan was...........I just know it wasn't to be working in grants at my alma mater. And let's be honest, very few people have a clear career path that actually comes to fruition. For most of us there will inevitably be pit stops along the way. And sometimes you end up miles away from where you initially set out to be, for good or for bad. That's life.
College educated Gen. Y people, like myself, struggle to find jobs that fit what they went to school for. We're either overqualified, don't have enough "experience," or the pay is insultingly low, among many other things.
Yes, I said Gen. Y. I'm not a freaking Millennial. Give me my original title back, thank you very much. People born in the 80s/early 90s versus the late 90s/2000s are a TOTALLY different group of people. We had music with actual instruments and didn't slap auto-tune on everything. We would've killed and eaten people like Nicki Minaj!!!
On second thought, eating a disease ridden (insert colorful word of choice) would not be wise. I'm fairly certain she has gonasyphaherpalaids.
Regardless, our lives start much later than that of our parents' generation. Many of us can't have kids young because we can't find jobs that make it financially possibly to support them. We can't save anything because we're living paycheck to paycheck due to student loan debt. Buying a house and taking legitimate vacations are laughable ideas right now. That's some kind of alternate universe sh*t right there. Had I planned to be doing many of those things by this point in my life? Absolutely. Apparently those things don't fall into the 10% or less of my life that goes "according to plan."
Why the generational tangent? Life is uncertain for everyone. You never know what craziness will fall out the sky and change the course of your life, for good or for bad. Unfortunately, I do think people my age are victim to even more uncertainty in life. I want future kids to be college educated, but there's part of me that's thinking, "No! Learn a trade of some sort. The world doesn't need anymore over-educated, artsy people who are all competing for the same jobs. You'll never make any money, and I really don't want you living in my basement. That's where Mommy and Daddy's music studio is. NO TOUCHING!"
I can work really hard and be awesome at what I do for a living, but nothing is guaranteed. Pay freezes happen, cutbacks happen, political decisions are made, etc. Sometimes you have to uproot your life to make things work. I have before, and chances are I'll have to again at some point. Is that a reality I'm ready to face yet? Absolutely not. Change bad!!! But if/when the time comes, I'll have to face it, regardless of how I feel about it.
There are a lot of things in my life right now that make it very difficult to plan for the future. There I go trying to plan again.........................
I think I like being under the illusion that I can at least plan certain parts of my life.
Granted, not everything is entirely out of my control, but it sure as hell feels like it sometimes. I can control my weight, and I have. I can control my musical ability by practicing and seeking out new challenges. I can control my happiness, in a way, by living each day to the fullest and surrounding myself by people I love.
What really sucks is that I am incredibly organized and am really good at planning. Like REALLY good!!! So I can't even put this skill to use for my own life, because karma will start laughing at me again and go, "Gurrrl.....ain't nobody care about your plans!"
I'm not sure why I turned karma into a sassy black woman, but it kind of seems fitting.
Gurrrl.....you right, you right. Ain't nobody care.
Bottom line is that life doesn't go according to plan. The reality is that you have to take what life gives you and try your best to kick ass in that situation, whatever it may be. It's yet another part of adulting that I'm slowing learning. I'll figure it out some day -- it just won't be according to my plan. And maybe that's okay.
I've decided it's an epidemic. Everyone is having babies. There are babies all over social media. Old classmates, high school and college, seem to be multiplying like rabbits.
WHAT IS HAPPENING???!!!
In reality, I'm at that age where this all makes perfect sense. But I don't think I'm quite ready to face that yet......
In my mind I'm nowhere near the right age to have a baby.........mostly because the thought of having a baby right now makes me want to drown myself in bourbon while simultaneously punching myself in the uterus.
DON'T HATE ME!!!! I would NEVER actually do those things.
I actually love kids, and I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have 2 (soon to be 3) beautiful nieces that I'm crazy about. I'm just not personally ready to have children. Someday. But today is not that day. Nor is tomorrow that day.
Being an aunt is enough for me right now, and it's awesome.
I'll be 28 at the end of May, which is terrifying to me. I don't think it's a vanity thing necessarily, it's more so that I'm wondering how the hell that many years have gone by already. I know all of you that are older than me will want to slap me, but it's coming up on six years since I graduated college. SIX YEARS!!! I can't even process that. I've been out of college longer than I was actually in college. It doesn't seem real.
Those of you that were in my class in college, just let that sink in for a minute............
Six. Freakin'. Years. And yet I STILL don't truly feel like an adult.
I was stuck at 23 for awhile.............Probably because it's the last year I vividly remember, which would explain why I was stuck there. I finally got used to 26 and now all of the sudden I'm going to be 28? I used to think it was ridiculous when adults would say that time goes faster as you get older.
What an insane concept. There are always 24 hours in a day. How can it go faster?
I really hate that they were right...............
The past 5 years have flown by. A lot has happened -- good and bad. Within that time I've transcribed for Tony Monaco, worked at two churches, had a traveling music studio, gigged quite a bit, gained a bunch of weight, moved to Tennessee and back, earned my MBA, lost a bunch of weight, and landed my first "big girl job." On top of that, four of my closest friends got married, another one had a baby, my dad survived cancer, my baby sister is finishing her freshman year of college, and my brother is about to have his third daughter. That's a lot of sh*t in 5 years.
During that time I also met Will. That's another story for another blog post..............
I went from my longest relationship being a little under two years, to all the sudden I've been with Will for almost 5 years. WTF?! How is this possible???!!!
"Grab the wheel, Jamie. You're swerving."
I guess my point is that the same things and the same timing aren't right for everyone. I need more time to figure my own stuff out before I can bring a kid into this world. Hell, I'm even nervous about the responsibility that comes with having a dog, let alone a baby! That kind of responsibility is terrifying to me.
I am absolutely thrilled for those of you that have children, whether you felt like you were truly "ready" or not. Clearly things don't always go according to plan, and sometimes the results are what we really needed anyway. I think I'm absolutely capable of being a parent, and hopefully a good one, but damn is that thought really scary right now.........
Regardless, there is one fact that I've had to face, which is why I know I am nowhere near ready to have a child: I'm too selfish.
I would like to think that I'm a very compassionate and considerate person, but that doesn't mean that I'm not selfish. I'm not ready for my life to be turned upside down by a tiny human that depends on me to survive. Small children are basically tiny drunks anyway -- they act just as dumb and need just as much assistance.
When I become a parent I want to do it right, and for me that means waiting probably 4-5 years.
Yes..........that means I'll be 32-33 years old. Look at you doing math.........you're so smart!!! ;)
And again, that's not the right thing for everyone. Some people are ready WAY before someone like me, and that's great! I just know know that I would be doing my kid a disservice if I didn't wait until I can start being more selfless. I'm not there yet.
Bottom line.........I know myself. All y'all can keep on poppin' out babies, but nothing will be inhabiting my uterus for quite some time. Although, the way time is starting to fly, I suppose that will be sooner than I think. Sh*t.
There will be a time........when no one will be able to tell me........I should go on American Idol.
Why? Because my prayers have been answered and the show is on its final season.
Although there have been rumblings that it may not be the final season after all..........which would royally piss me off. Put it out of its misery already!!!
As I've said before, I really do appreciate everyone who believes in me enough to think that I could make it. You just don't understand how it really works. But that's okay! That means the producers of the show have successfully done their job. Their job is to create the illusion that the competition is based on talent. So it makes sense why you would push people you think are talented to audition. In that sense, it's truly flattering.
Regardless, the show is unfortunately completely fabricated.
In the words of Elf, the creators of American Idol sit on a throne of lies.
Let's break this down, shall we?
There is a screening process before any of the contestants even see the judges. The first part involves small groups of people standing in front of a "scout" together, taking turns singing maybe 8 bars of their song. Maybe. Some of them are chosen because they are "good" and some of them are chosen because they are "bad." No joke.
Be honest..........if they only chose truly good people, you wouldn't watch the show. It'd be boring. "Pants on the Ground" is WAY more entertaining.
The second part of the screening process is for the chosen people to sing in front of a "producer." This is where they see if you "have what it takes to be on TV." Looks and talent play a small part in this, but a VERY small part. They don't want people who have trained for years and studied music in college. They want someone who maybe owns a guitar and sang at their grandma's church once.
It also helps quite a bit if you have a sob story for them to dramatize. For real.
If you are chosen, only THEN do you actually go in front of the celebrity judges.
When Harry Connick Jr. had to explain pentatonics to Jennifer Lopez I about lost my shit. Unfortunately she was not acting. She's just that dumb. You have no business judging music if you don't know basic music terminology.
And no, I don't mean "Pentatonix" the goup. Ick.
I could go on and on, but to be clear..............this is a reality TV show.
(Pssst.........I hate to break it to you, but The Voice isn't much better. Their "cattle calls" are to fill the holes that haven't been pre-cast.)
I'd also like to point out that Nicki Minaj has been a judge on American Idol.
NICKI MINAJ WAS ON A SHOW ABOUT SINGING!!!!
Nothing about that makes sense. That alone makes the show a bunch of hooey.
Hooey I tell you!!!
I digress.............I actually have auditioned for American Idol, just not in the traditional sense. Let me explain................
5+ years ago
My mom had been trying to talk me into auditioning for American Idol for awhile. We went on a family vacation to Disney World in 2011, and at the time there was still an American Idol "simulation," if you will. The deal was that they did one "competition" per day, and the winner would get a "fast pass" ticket to the front of the "real" American Idol audition line. Mom kept pushing the issue and talking about how much fun it would be.
Fun is a strong word................
I really did not want to audition for the show, let alone a fake version of an already fake show.
I'm putting the word real in quotations to emphasize that the "real" show is super fake in itself, on the off chance that my hostility towards the show wasn't glaring enough.
Now, Mom had good intentions. She believed in me and truly thought I had a shot.
A couple fruity drinks later at the hotel pool bar........she somehow talked me into doing it.
She clearly waited until the perfect moment to strike............damn mai tais..............
The deal was that I would do the "simulation" of American Idol, ONLY if she'd stop bugging me about auditioning for the "real" thing. Her caveat was that she'd stop bugging me if I didn't win. But if I won and got that "golden ticket," I had to audition for the "real" thing.
And so it begins........
They only took so many people per day, and the "studio" was a decent hike from the entrance of the park. I've never seen my mom walk so fast -- we were among the first people to get there. The first line of defense, the "scout," listened to me sing a little bit of Bill Withers' "Use Me," and sent me onto the next stage.
Mom was pleased.
They sat me down with a weird looking mp3 player, head phones, and a list of songs --
I was supposed to pick two songs from the list. I was holding what was practically a portable karaoke machine.
I ended up picking "I Feel the Earth Move" and "Midnight Train to Georgia" as my two songs. I sang both of them in front of a "producer," who kept telling me that my interpretation of the songs needed to be more dramatic. I remember staring at him and thinking, "Look dude, this is not Broadway. Calm your sh*t."
Both songs are about being in love with some dude -- one just happens to be more sexually charged than the other. And of course that's the one we decided on. What was I supposed to do? Pelvic thrust while I sing?
Regardless of how he felt about my acting skills, he sent me onto the next stage.
Mom was very pleased.
I can't remember how many people were chosen total, but there were 4 separate preliminary shows with somewhere between 4 and 6 contestants each. The winners of those shows would move on to the finale that night. So if you ended up winning a preliminary show this was an all day event. All. Day.
The Preliminary Show
We each had a 15-minute rehearsal with some dude, in a small room, with a karaoke machine and a keyboard. I'm still not sure why there was a keyboard. It's not like anyone was playing an actual instrument for this thing, and it wasn't a freaking voice lesson. We just rehearsed with the damn karaoke track.
I sang through "I Feel the Earth Move" twice, mostly so he could teach me the weird ending that cut the song short. Every song choice had a really awkward ending. You could tell that they cared more about how long the song was as opposed to it making sense. Whoever got paid to edit the songs seemed to just arbitrarily cut and paste.
Hopefully they did it for free, because woof.
We were done "rehearsing" in about 5 minutes. Since we had 10 minutes left we started talking, and before I knew it he had me playing and singing one of my original tunes on the keyboard. I was also transcribing for Tony Monaco at the time, and he apparently was a big fan, so he geeked out about it hard core. Not gonna lie, it was pretty cool.
We went to "makeup," and were sent out on stage to practice entrances, where we were supposed to stand, the order we were in, etc. Shortly after, the preliminary rounds started, and I was in the first round. They had 3 actors pretending to be some semblance of the original American Idol judges (so you had a Simon, of course). I ended up winning, which was kind of cool, but it also meant the rest of my day was shot. The finale wasn't going to start for another...........oh...........5 hours or so?
Mom was VERY pleased. She had such a smug look on her face...............she knew what she had done. Not cool, Mom. Not cool.
You know how the contestants of the "real" show come running out to meet their families............hugging them and jumping up and down like a crazy person because they made it onto the show? Well they made me fake that. They even rounded up my family while I was still back stage and told them where to stand when I came out.
Then they dragged me into a nearby coffee shop and made me sing in front of all these poor people, who really just wanted to enjoy their coffee, not listen to some random girl from Ohio sing Carole King acapella. This was all so they could put together a video promo for the finale. SUPER cheezy.
Trust me coffee shop people..........it was WAY weirder for me than it was for you.
I walked around all day with a dumb lanyard around my neck saying, "Vote for me!," and I kept getting yelled at by people who had either sat in the audience or watched my preliminary round on the big screen outside.
"Hey, you're that girl that won!!!"
Congratulations, you were able to spot my crazy, curly red hair. It's SO hard to do.
Or, "I voted for you!!!" Or "You have such a cool voice!!!"
Okay............thanks.............that's actually very nice of you.
I'd be lying if I said that parts of it weren't kind of fun, but the whole thing was so manufactured that it was difficult to truly enjoy it. But I guess that's how the "real" thing is.
It came down to 4 of us: some girl I can't remember, a school teacher that sang "I'm Proud to be an American," a guy that sang "Pretty Young Thing" (and could dance like Michael Jackson), and me. The place was packed, and the people in the audience were so enthusiastic you would've thought we were on the "real" show. I sang my song, and the judges started gushing about my "sultry voice," and how I sound like a jazz singer (duh), yaddah, yaddah...........
The one judge who was playing the role of Simon, however, got a little frisky. He got REALLY excited. Beyond talking about my voice, he said I looked like a "pixie amazon." Uh............what did you call me?
He then said, and I quote, "Knock me out and drag me back to your cave!"
My response was, "My parents are out in the audience you know.,,,,,,,,"
The Michael Jackson guy and I were the last ones standing. They had told us not to look up when the winner was announced, because these giant pieces of confetti would be falling right onto our faces. Part of me wanted to win, because I'm competitive. But the other part of me thought, "Oh hell, if I win, I have to go do the 'real' thing. I promised Mom. Dammit.............this isn't good."
They announced that I was second, and I felt a HUGE wave of relief wash over me. I hugged the guy and started thanking him profusely. Then at the same moment we both said to each other, "Don't look up! Confetti!!!!!" They were not playing around with that stuff.................There was SO much of it.
As we were leaving the building, people attacked both of us, wanting pictures and autographs. It's amazing how nutty people can get if they think you "might be famous someday." I just kept laughing as I was signing random pieces of paper (even those character autograph books), thinking, "This is one of the dumbest things that has ever happened to me."
So I got second, which was the best thing that could've happened, in my opinion anyway.
I did as well as I possibly could have, without actually winning and having to truly audition. I think Mom was a little disappointed, but she can't say that I didn't try. It's not like I threw the competition. Boy had charisma and could dance like Michael Jackson!
I can't compete with that sh*t!!!
All in all I'm glad I can say that I had the experience. It was goofy and "fake," and essentially glorified karaoke, but it was fun and actually kind of a confidence booster.
Especially since I was the favorite with high school and college boys in the audience. ;)
And apparently that one judge.........................ew.
If nothing else, it's a story, and one that includes my loving family -- my biggest fans.
Love you, Mom. Even though now you've "not so jokingly" moved on to wanting me to do The Voice.
I'm an "adult," or so I've been told. I do "adult" things, I have an "adult" job, I pay bills, and I drink bourbon and wine. I have great friends and family, an amazing husband, and generally a pretty good life. I have achieved many things, yet so little at the same time. I'm 30, yet I feel more clueless than when I graduated college. This is how I "adult."