Friday, September 30, 2011

Like a child

I felt like a child this morning. A child.
I'm sitting at my desk, minding my own business, listening to Katy Perry sing about hummingbirds and he fire alarm goes off. It was a fire drill in the building.
Now, I haven't been a part of a fire drill since I was in high school, but all I could think about were the fire drills in elementary school, when we'd have to line up, go outside as the alarms echoed down the halls and stand in our lines as we waited. We'd have to cover our ears as we'd walk by the alarms because they were so obnoxiously loud. I bet the alarms aren't that loud anymore these days because somewhere, some idiot parent made a big deal about how the decibel of the alarm was causing her baby child to have hearing problems. Parents these days are out of their minds, naming their children after geographical features and fruit that grows on trees. Ridiculous.
But anyway, I was back in elementary school, except this time I had a smart phone and the ability to go to the new 7-11 on the corner to buy gum.
It's kinda fun to have those childhood flashbacks. I think it reminds you that you didn't just appear as the person you are today. I know we know that about ourselves, but it's moments like that when we remember, 'yeah, I went to that little school and spent time on the playground and summers felt like they were ages long.' It snaps things into perspective and for me, I don't look back on them and wish they were still around. It makes me feel like I've gotten pretty far from those days and seen some of my dreams come true. I think it also reminds me that I certainly have not arrived yet by any means. I've got quite a ways to go to accomplish the dreams I've got. I mean, Britney and I aren't even friends yet.
So I felt like a child today. It was nice to be reminded that the simple things in life are still as relevant today as they were when I was eight years old.
(The photo is actually of my elementary school)

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?
What is pictured here is none other than a structure built for the purpose of watching television. In The Netherlands, they are trying to break the world record of the longest a person can go watching television with no break and all of these people are there, vying for the title. I've never been more jealous of anyone in my life.
The world record stands at something like 86 hours or something. That's less than four days. Am I the only one that thinks this is totally possible? I mean, if you put me in a room and we watched every single episode of Friends and every episode of say, Will and Grace and we'd have the record broken. I don't think that's asking a lot.
Someone told me recently that they don't watch anything on television. I'm not ashamed to say that I don't think I can look at them the same anymore. How do you know what's going on in culture if not through television. Sure, you can look at the websites, but that doesn't fill in any of the cultural gaps that television does. Plus, where do you find enrichment in your life? Certainly not through other people.
So I'm jealous of people who are Dutch and who are spending the next however many days sitting in their little cell watching television.It would be unbelievably epic to be a part of something so wildly ridiculous and so ultimately gratifying. One day, dear friends, I will break that record, and from the heap on the floor that I emerge from afterward, you all will cheer for me. It will be like at the end of Titanic when they cheer for the Kate and Leo, except I'll be alive and I actually will have 'never let go' of my true love...television.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music of my heart

So many times, people ask me, "Ryan, what are your favorite songs that people wouldn't think are you favorite songs?" Okay, that might not have ever happened before, but I knew it was because you're just too shy to ask.
It's no secret that my two favorite songs are "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler and "Unbreak My Heart" by Toni Braxton. Have been for years. But there are some other songs that I can listen to on repeat for an entire afternoon and feel positively fulfilled with my life. I will pay homage to them today.

Power of Goodbye (Madonna) - I don't know exactly where I picked up loving this song, but at some point I did and let me tell you, there's something about it that can take me from 60 to zero in the span on three minutes. It's like this lullaby for the digital age.

As I Lay Me Down (Sophie Hawkins) - I know exactly where I picked up this song. I was in sixth grade and a girl danced to this song at a talent show. Well, I've been hooked on it since. It was actually almost four years before I heard the song again, but it stuck with me in such a profound way that I would sing it to myself. (this was pre-iTunes people. Actually, this was pre-Napster and pre-internet song shopping. It wasn't until I ordered a compilation CD that I realized the song was on there) Recently, I heard it at a bar and I'm not afraid to say that I stopped conversation with my friend because I needed to just sit and listen to it. There's a possibility that it makes me happier than any song (just as Love Actually makes me happier than any film).

Good is Good (Sheryl Crow) - This wasn't a hit for Sheryl, but it's stuck with me. There's something sweeping about it, something that makes me feel like persevering. I don't know if that's what she meant when she wrote it, but it's how it makes me feel. (I think I should also mention that this is the only Sheryl Crow song I own)

Someday (The Peas) - This is perhaps the newest song on the list, but it's important because of the time of my life when it was released. I had just moved to Manhattan and was trying to find my way through this city. There's just a hope attached to this song that I grabbed hold of. The Peas are important to me for a myriad of reasons, but this song specifically encapsulated that moment of my life, a moment that I still feel like I'm living in sometimes.

One Moment In Time (Whitney Houston) - This was a toss up between "I Believe in You and Me" but this song won out, mostly because there is something so big about it. It's such a big song, it was connected to the Olympics, and the ending of her performance is flawless. It's that sappy song that's too inspirational for it's own good but for some reason, resonates. Did I mention the Olympic tie-in?

Hazy Shade of Winter (The Bangles) - This is a funny story actually. I was driving from Dallas to get to school and was just listening to whatever was on the radio. This song came on and I was really digging the harmonies and of course, I recognized Susanna Hoffs' voice so I knew it was the Bangles. The funny thing is that I was driving over this bridge when the song was playing, so every time I would drive over that bridge, I would feel the need to listen to the song again. Every single time. I've even had friends text me and tell me they are driving over my "song bridge." That's pretty cool.

Suspicious Minds (Elvis) - It's flawless. 

You Found Me (Kelly Clarkson) - While her entire Breakaway album is flawless, there's something about this song that has always gotten to me. In the last couple choruses, she drops out and her backup singers are singing the most wonderful little harmony. I remember when I was driving and I caught it for the first time - I kept rewinding over and over again because I was smitten with this 7 seconds of perfection. 

Everlasting (Kate Earl) - You might not even know who Kate Earl is, but I stumbled upon this song and her album and have been hooked ever since. I just think it's such an honest, hopeful song that has this quality to it that makes me want to get up and spin around like I'm at the end of a movie and I found the love of my life.

Again (Janet Jackson) - It's such a simple song right? It's just her and some music. There aren't a bunch of dance beats, no fancy backup vocals, no techno overlay, just Janet, singing. It's like you're in a cloud when you're listening to it. Is it a rain cloud, is it a white cloud? Depends on the day. But it's one of the most played songs in the history of my iTunes.

Chinese (Lily Allen) - There is something really wonderful about a song that perfectly spells out your existence with someone and this song does that. We would/still do 'get a Chinese and watch TV.' I have this song in ring-tones, in children's choral versions, and on every electronic device I own because it instantly takes me there. It doesn't make me miss anyone, but it takes me to that moment driving down I-35, singing and smelling Chinese food in the car.

I think the moral of this story is that the simple things in life are still the most important. I don't claim that all of these songs are brilliant, but there's something that connects me to them still. There are plenty more obviously, but these are the songs that have become a part of my inner-programing. We all have them. And now you know mine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thank God

As I was lying in bed last night, I thanked God so a great many things in my life, and while I don't feel like I need to tell the world about everything that God and I talk about, the frequency of our spiritual coffee-talks or the duration of said chats, we are entering the fall season and that starts getting me thinking about the things I'm thankful for.
I'm thankful that I wake up everyday in the city I love. I don't have to question why I'm here, I don't have to wish I lived somewhere else. I am exactly where I've wanted to be for so many years. To me, that's awesome.
I'm thankful that my family is always available. No, we don't live in the same place any longer, but I don't feel any further away from them today as I did when I was in college. Which leads me to thanking God for the technology to be able to communicate with them.
I'm thankful that no matter what's going on, how we disagree or how busy we are, I have my people. Time and distance really put a heavy weight on a friendship and the longer that strain is there, the more you realize how strongly bonded you are or how loosely fastened you were. Turns out, we're a pretty strong bunch.
I'm thankful for the people in my life that speak fluent Muppet.
I'm thankful for BLEEP Magazine. I realize that it's my creation and all, but as it's gotten bigger and bigger, I've become more and more thankful for it. It's given me a new creative lease on life, it's expanded my horizons more than you can believe and it's been amazing to see other people catch the vision and start running with it. It's become this creative hub and while I may only be the facilitator for that hub, watching people be so creative and have that outlet is truly amazing.
I'm thankful for songs I can listen to on repeat for an entire afternoon.
I'm thankful for new people entering my life and becoming important.
But really, I thank God for the fact that He's got me in a place where I'm happy. Truly happy. All of the above mentioned things stew together to create the place I'm at and it's the right place. No, I don't have enough money, sure there are things that aren't as perfect as they could be. But being truly happy trumps any of those things.
So yeah, this is sappy but being happy can sometimes be sappy. Oh, and on that note, I'm thankful for Slappy...the Squirrel. But God knows that so I don't have to tell Him.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Watch what happened

 It's fall people. Time for fall-flavored coffees.

 Not having ever been inside the fortress that is the Empire State Building, I will admit that I felt like I was in Mission Impossible.

 So there's this "art" installation in the park in my neighborhood that involves mirrors and the history of Hamilton Heights. It's a bit strange.

 Sister Act was kinda wonderful for a myriad of reasons.

 The view from the stage afterward.

 Puppies in the dog park!

 Cobu - this Japanese drum performance that was kinda rad.

 A little gourmet grilled cheese for lunch after the show.

Guys night - passing by a restaurant that has the leg lamp in the window!!!

 Because my Baylor Bears are on a winning streak!

A pretty little community garden in my neighborhood.

Judy fail.

Did you know that Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is from the Judy Garland film "Meet Me in St. Louis?" It is. I love finding out little tidbits of information that don't really matter but are fun to pull out of nowhere when the time comes. It makes you seem smart and lets face it, who doesn't like seeming smart?
I can also report that I did not like this film.
At all.
I was in a boredom coma until she started singing that song, but really, that's where things picked up the pace. Cut to deranged child running outside into the show, attacking large snow people with a stick while ugly crying. Really folks, that's what happens.
Sometimes, we watch old films because we have to. We feel like if we don't, we won't understand the culture that we came from or something. I think that's fair for some films but really, this one, however doted upon it may be, really just wasn't good. Just because it's an old film that Judy Garland is in doesn't mean we need to fawn over it right?
I mean, one day, will we fawn over every film that Jennifer Lopez made? Doubtful.

So the Sunday afternoon of old movies didn't so much turn out the way I thought it was going to. Mostly because the movie was bad. Yes. A Judy Garland movie is bad and I'm saying it publicly.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Had enough of silly love songs?

I really like love songs and I've written about them fairly recently here, but today, as I'm at work listening to music, I have to ask the question: Where did all the love songs go?
Taylor Swift sings about crushes, GaGa sings about Judas, Britney sings about Criminals but where are the love songs?
Travel back with me, if you will, to a not-so-distant past. A time when Whitney, Mariah and Celine were the only women in music that mattered. The world was full of love songs then. Full to overflowing. Mariah was singing about giving her 'All' for one more night, Celine was singing about the 'Power of Love' and Whitney was 'Always' loving you. I mean, really, it was a love-song-power-hour all the time. Where are the love songs now?
Lady Antebellum sang about 'Need'ing you now but really, that's just a song about drunk dialing, not love. Gaga sang about a 'Bad Romance' but that's the opposite of a love song. Mainstream music is no longer singing about love. We sing about dancing 'Til The World Ends' and being on the 'Edge of Glory," we sing about saying "Bye bye bye" (throwback alert!) or about being "Fergalicious" but not so much about love.
That's sad to me kinda. Maybe we've exhausted what there is to sing about loving someone? I hope not, that doesn't give me much hope for the future. I'd like to continue to believe that humanity has a shred of hope in it.
I mean, my favorite songs are love songs. When Toni Braxton sings to 'Unbreak' her heart or when Bonnie Tyler sings about the 'Total Eclipse' of her heart (I'm big on heart songs apparently) - there's something of substance there. They aren't throw-away songs (I'm talking to you Rihanna singles. Yes, every single one of you).
So I question where the mainstream love songs have gone. There are plenty of B-list music artists that sing love songs, but maybe that's why they remain B-list or stuck in country music? They aren't singing about their humps, disco sticks, or getting the party started. But then again, more people watch the nonsense that is Jersey Shore than watch Community, the best comedy on television. So, since we as a culture are already catering to the lowest common denominator, perhaps the reason we don't have any love songs is because the Jersey Shore crowd isn't able to process a real love song. Though, if the music video starred Snooki, maybe people would watch it. Un-break my heart indeed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I do it because I have to

I have a confession to make. Though I live in a wildly carb-reduced reality these days, I am currently sitting at my desk eating candy corn.
And it's bad.
I mean it. It's not good.
Have you ever had candy corn before? Of course you have, we all have. And I am here to tell you that no one, not a single one of you, likes the taste of candy corn. You don't. If you'll just dig deep and find that place of inner-honesty, you'll realize that you don't.
We don't eat candy corn because it tastes good. The fact of the matter is, we eat candy corn because it reminds us of the fall season and it reminds us of when we were kids. When you were a kid, you'd eat pretty much any kind of candy. We aren't so discriminatory when it comes to candy when we're young. Sure, our tastes develop, but what's there not to like in candy corn? It's bright yellow and orange, it tastes like pure adrenaline and is the perfect consistency of firm and soft. It's not a gummy bear but it's not Werthers either. Having said that, both gummy bears and Werthers actually have distinct tastes. Candy corn just tastes like...well, candy corn I guess.
But here I sit, eating it, loving every minute of it. Every single minute. There will not be a single piece of candy corn left in this little baggy when I'm done. It could only be worse if it were the candy corn pumpkins. Then we might as well shut the afternoon down because I'm through. It would just be me and my candy corn pumpkins. But again, not because they taste good, because they don't. I'd much rather be eating one of those flavored-tootsie rolls or a small box of Dots. But those can be had year-round right? So we eat candy corn because it serves as the perfect garnish to the fall-feeling. But if you'll think about it, garnishes are rarely meant to be eaten. If You've Got Mail, the perfect fall film, has taught us nothing, it's that eating a garnish is not always appropriate.
So as I finish this mini-bag of candy corn, I'm wondering if this moderately chalky, somewhat nondescript sugar that's crumbling down my throat was worth it. But yeah, it was. It's fall now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Think, think, think

A commercial on television just told me we have 3000 thoughts a day. 
I thought that was a really high number and then when I started thinking about it, I thought, well, I'm currently thinking about thinking and now I'm thinking about how this sounds like an Ellen monologue, which has segued in to me thinking that maybe 3000 thoughts a day is a low number.
But what if you are thinking about one thing consistently? Does that count as more than one thought? Does duration matter? What if I think about something else and then return to my original thought? Does thinking about something twice constitute an addition to my daily thought count? I'm not sure.
Having said all of that, I've been thinking a lot lately. There's quite a lot to think about I'd say. Do you ever have times like that? I think those are scary times. 
When we have time to really sit and think, we have time to over-analyze and make a big deal of things that probably aren't. That's never a good thing. We're taught when we're younger that we should stop and think things through, but when we get older, those rules don't always apply really. Sometimes, we just need go with our gut. Thinking isn't always the wisest decision.
So while we may think something like 3000 thoughts a day, I personally am going to try to think less. Now I'm thinking about thinking less, which is interesting because that's adding to my thought count for the day, which has been abnormally high anyways. Strange really. Now I'm thinking about how strange that is. 
This entire blog was counterproductive to thinking not being the wisest decision. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm a 'Broadway Baby'

Last night, I got to go to the opening of Follies on Broadway, my first Broadway opening night. To say that it was a dream come true is kinda an understatment.

First, if you've never been to an opening night of something before, there's just an energy there that isn't present other nights. It's this really cool fusion of anticipation and excitement that creates this really cool stew in the air.
We got there in time to see the red carpet arrivals which is fun because if proves to you who looks like they look on TV right? It also proves that Barry Manilow isn't claymation. He is, in fact, a real person.
We get to our seats and we are fourth row center balcony, literally, the best possible place to be sitting. I had better seats than Barry Manilow to see Follies last night. I was sitting in the Spider-man block of tickets so Green Goblin was sitting next to me. Don't worry, everyone made it out of the theater alive. I kept wanting to lean over and ask him how this compared to the show he does 8 times a week, not in a snarkey way, but they are just completely different shows. I mean, there is of course the fact that Follies was superb and Spider-Man was...uh...
Anyway - it was a fantastic show. Getting to see all of these Broadway legends on the same stage singing their faces off was really something else. It was one of those Broadway nights I will  remember, mostly because of the coupling effect. It was my first opening and as someone who loves people watching more than actually interacting with people, that was thrilling. All the old producers' wives and original Follies cast members were dressed up like this was the biggest night of their lives and I loved it. I think that older women getting all dressed up like they are going to their prom circa 1954 is one of the most adorable things on earth. I wish I had taken my actual camera to capture it.
Lastly, I loved it because the crowd was so enthusiastic that the applause just went on and on. There was such a spirit of camaraderie in the room, with everyone rooting for this show to be great, which it was.And who doesn't love clapping in large groups?
I never really forget a theatre experience anyway, but to be able to be there on opening night was really something I never thought I'd get to do. That may seem silly, but to a boy from Texas who never made it to New York until he was 22, it was just something that once again showed me that following your dreams and your heart can take you places you never thought they could. Well, that and it was the night I found out Barry Manilow wasn't claymation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not working for the weekend, LIVING for the weekend

 The weekend started with being bad...

 This is why we walk in New York. Because we could end up walking behind a small man with a flamenco outfit in tow.

 When I was a small child, I was scared of people dressed up as characters. Because of this smurf, I am again.

 Random trip to a theater opening - but I was more interested in the lights inside the space.

 At Lincoln Center, a giant LED wall that was doing all sorts of animated goodness. Probably just a big advertisement for IBM, but still cool.

 Free pants at Fashion Week!

 One of the amazing things about this city. A block from Fashion Week is Farmer Fashion Week.

 Jersey can be pretty at night...kinda.

 The path down from my neighborhood to the water. Kinda awesome.

 Brunch with the gang to celebrate our biggest magazine issue ever.

 And then yes, we were bad again. As Jack Donaghy said, "we're off cupcakes and back to donuts."

I think this picture best encompasses why I love New York. Because you can walk through Columbus Circle and see a ballerina in a costume that lights up, dancing with a domestic and there be no real rhyme or reason for it.
I love New York.

The Tenth 11th.

Ten years ago, I was living in Dallas. I'd graduated from high school about three months prior and I was attending a community college with no real outlook on what I wanted out of life.
I walked into my Psychology class, the professor turned on the TV and the world was different.

Four years later, I visited New York for the first time and spent the summer falling in love with the city. I realized then that I'd end up there.

It would be another five years before I'd move to New York.

It's been ten years now since the world changed. All over the internet and TV, there are stories about the anniversary and how the world is a different place, so there's not a need to expound on all that. What I can write about is how different I am.
Ten years ago, I was starting college with no vision. I had no concept of what I wanted to do with my life. I hadn't even been to New York before. Today, I spent the day walking around New York, the city I love more than any place in the world, my home now for over a year. I'm happy, fulfilled, content for the first time in a long time and know I have a purpose. I'm on the right track and while I'm not there yet, I know I'm on the right track.
There's an episode of 30 Rock where Jack tells Kenneth how great it is that he still has his sense of wonder and finds joy in the simple things. I think, more than anything that's changed about me, I think that's it. I've learned to find sheer, undefinable and unmitigated joy in the simple things in life and I'm not afraid to say that as I've gotten older, my sense of wonder has heightened. It's amazing actually, the concept of not allowing yourself to become jaded. Life is full of teachable moments and while we have to learn from them, we don't have to allow ourselves to become jaded by them. Life is too special, too important and too wonderful to live a life of jaded and boxed-up individual.

So today, as our country reflects and remembers, I do the same. I love New York and the longer I'm here, the more perspective I get on that day. I find that I learn more each day I'm here. I fell in love with a post-9/11 New York City and I celebrate the freedom that we Americans have on a daily basis. We live in a country where anyone has the opportunity to make their dreams come true and that's why I'm proud to be an American.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cheerocracy and the power of positivie possibility

I'm sexy.
I'm cute.
I'm popular to boot.

That's right, I'm a cheerleader. It's something I've stumbled upon later in life, but as I grew older and moved further away from the normal age of a cheerleader, I've become one myself.
I don't have pom-poms or a fun little outfit or anything, and I'm not planning on making any sort of campaign for there to be male cheerleaders in the NFL, but I've realized that being a cheerleader is one of my strong suits.
Something I've learned from doing BLEEP is that I really believe in people who are going for their dreams. It's something that I've always been a fan of but just recently started figuring out how to articulate it in a productive manner. It's one thing to believe in people, it's a completely different ballgame to inform them about it.
Sometimes, all we need is a push right? We just need someone to believe in us and I love being that person. I love being the person that cheers you on and knows you can achieve your dreams. And then it's so fulfilling to see those dreams come true. More than anything, I've realized how happy it makes me to see other people happy. It's like this crazy, almost euphoric, positive energy is out there in the world, just needing to be harnessed and funneled in the right direction. It's like there's a power in positive possibility. And I will be that possibility funnel. It feels good to funnel. (that sounds ridiculously raunchy huh? It's not)
This all sounds so wildly optimistic of me and I have to say, that's just how I am these days. And why shouldn't I be? There are too many great things going on. For instance, I found out that I will have an additional 50 dollars a month to play with. That might not seem like a lot, but just think of all I could do with that. That's two shows, or three trips to my favorite restaurant, or five movies, or turkey for three weeks of lunches, or ten pairs of sunglasses from H&M, or two pair of jeans from Old Navy, or 8 plain v-necks, or 25 Orangeades, or 10 pumpkin spice lattes, or 3 ties from TJ Maxx, or 24 coffees from McDonalds, or 100 individually wrapped string cheeses, or half a block of Velveeta. The possibilities are endless really. It's the power of the positive possibility.

I'm strong and I'm loud
I'm gonna make you proud.

And I will.