It’s been a long time. Get back on the horse, Stephanie.

So, let’s say you and your brain have a bit of an adversarial relationship. And let’s say your brain has decreed your blog a dead zone. And you do a drive by and notice that it’s been two months since you’ve posted. TWO MONTHS! What do you do? Well, what you do is post a little video of some people having fun floating on the river. That’s what you do, people.
Enjoy.

Is anybody alive in here? Is anybody at all in here? Nobody but us in here. Nobody but me. 

I don’t receive butt dials (or unintentionally-placed calls) often, but when I do, I ultimately react in a very strange manner. I answer the phone normally. And by normally, I mean that I start talking to whoever it is without the customary and polite greeting, as is my way. When the person doesn’t respond, I begin a verbal assault of “Hellos” which start at a normal volume but proceed to a volume that can be heard from miles away, so I can alert the caller that I’m available and ready to get the party started. I’m always amazed that my faint voice can’t be heard by the person, and perhaps it can be, and they are thinking to themselves, “Why on earth do I think I hear Stephanie’s voice right now? Am I having a stroke? Also, why do I have to hear her annoying voice when the stroke hits? That seems terribly unfair.”

I think my terror-filled reaction to these butt dials stems from the thought that I could unknowingly be placing my own calls. Because I’m doing some strange shit when I think I’m alone. I’m singing about 50% of the time. 25% of the time I’m talking to my dog; people in neighboring vehicles (YIKES!); or worse; an inanimate object. And I’d say another 25% of the time, I’m holding conversations with myself. Yeah, it’s probably almost that often. I enjoy hearing what I have to say about things. It’s not always what I expect. I like to give myself room for spontaneity. I mean, mostly, I know what I’m going to say, but every now and then I surprise myself. Pleasantly. Good point, Stephanie. So, the thought that I’ve got some unknown and unseen witness to my crazy is quite unsettling. 

I’d like to know why the butt dials I receive are so yawn-inducing. The most entertaining part of them is my shouting “Hello” in the expectation that the call was placed purposefully. It takes me far too long to ascertain that the person placed the call unwittingly. I did receive one decently funny one. The person on the other end was snacking so aggressively that I assumed it was a great attempt at being humorously annoying. So, I did my “Hello” bit to no avail per uzh and finally settled in for just a bit to see how much snacking we were going to be doing. I ascertained that we were diving into a bowl of chips. I’m not sure if we were viewing a tv program or just staring into space enjoying our salty snack and contemplating the banality of life. There appeared to be no beverage consumption to help wash down our chips. Maybe we were out of our favorite beer? I finally realized I was pathetic and silently dropped the call. I’m still waiting for the one. That glorious butt dial that is wildly entertaining and makes life worth living again.

I claim to take ping pong seriously, but this video proves I’m a liar.

I don’t come off well in this. First, because I haven’t played in months, and so my game is quite sucky. Second, it’s clear that I’m a complete fool, and I’m prone to celebrating at even the most pathetic of winning shots in a most obnoxious manner. Real adult-like. But Sebastian has a cameo in here, and that makes it worth a little something.

[Ed. Note: I should mention that I didn’t wear the togs in preparation for ping pong. I had just returned from a bike ride. Yesterday, I played in a t-shirt and sweats. Hmmmm, yesterday I played even worse than I did today. Maybe I should keep that in mind. Although yesterday I played without shoes. Bare feet don’t have the same type of traction. Something to keep in mind for next time. Wait, maybe I do take ping pong seriously….]

Prince. Of course. But it’s not the post I had originally written.

I wrote a Prince post 7 months ago. It wasn’t ready for publishing. Some things happened that interrupted the posting of it. Private revelations. So, I put it on hold then, and it’s been waiting in my drafts for a certain album anniversary so I could post it. To post it now though would seem even more self-indulgent, and “Hey, look at me. I’m suffering.” than this one does. His family and friends are suffering. The rest of us are feeling the loss of an inspirational musician. We’re not feeling what those who were close to him are feeling. It’s really grotesque to assume that we are. Anyway, I’m not writing great literature on this blog, so I’m obviously not mourning the loss of a ridiculous blog post. But it was an earnest one: extremely rare for me. Prince was an incredibly large influence in my life when I was young, and when I was not so young. His loss cannot and should not be minimized because he was beautiful and deliciously controversial. He was a genius: full stop. Sure, I lusted after him. I was young enough that I wasn’t even quite sure what to do with all of that. I thought Prince was unbearably hot. Like everyone else. Because he was. And then there was his music. The music that he created with so little input from others that to have the chance to work with him in even the most limited-capacity (which, let’s face it, a limited capacity was the only real option with all that he brought to the table) must have been awe-inspiring. Prince’s music checks off every single box. [Ed. Note: Yes, she knows.] So, yesterday was the day for me that Michael Jackson fans experienced when they heard about Jackson’s death. That’s how I felt upon hearing that Prince had died. And, I mean no disrespect. Michael Jackson was certainly ridiculously influential. But I felt a personal loss when Prince died. Michael Jackson was my crush. Prince was my lover.

So yesterday sucked. It started out badly. I had two interactions with “All Good” guy at work before I had a chance to enter a caffeinated state. Trust me, that’s intolerable. There was a third “All Good” assault, and after I successfully negotiated my departure from that, I learned that Prince had died. After that, my perspective shifted. If I’d seen “All Good” guy after that, I doubt I’d have even registered his presence.

The good news? This is how I ended my day.

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My kid is in the front row on the far left.

And this is how they sounded.

So, “All good” guy? Go ahead and say it. “IT’S ALL GOOD!” Yes, people. He speaks in all caps. Trust. And while I can’t agree that it’s all good, I can agree that honoring and celebrating His Purple Majesty is better than getting lost in gratuitous grieving.

The Randomizer

Time for another one of those posts full of the random. Join me, won’t you?

  • I’ve been desperately searching for a place to ride my bike that’s close enough to my house that I can jump on my ride and risk my life to get to it. And by that I mean that where I live is surrounded by roads that are traveled by people in a hurry. And people on bikes aren’t really viewed with love. But two days ago I found a magical place. Nirvana. I expect to spot a unicorn on one of my forays. It’s a neighborhood that reminds me of my childhood one (only better!) full of untouched spaces (creeks, you guys!), and is accessible by traveling only one short stretch of road where I don the “target with bulls-eye” attire and pedal as fast as my legs will take me while stealing panicked glances behind me to check and see if I’m going to make it to safety. But when I make that turn into the neighborhood, I can’t keep the grin off of my face. I breathe in deep to enjoy the smells: pine tags! leaves! dirt! I’m a kid again and I’m riding my bike enjoying my freedom, snacking on bugs because they have unimpeded entry into my laughing mouth. I’m certain the one or two people that have seen me have seriously considered a call to the police because I just look far happier than the occasion dictates. But it’s all good. Arrest me, officers. Just get me released in time for my next ride.
  • The youngest and I were talking about how much fun it would be to have a conversation with someone and just drop a random word in from time to time. To keep the other person on their toes? Word choice would greatly depend upon how long you’d want the other person to think they’d misheard you before really knowing you were working them over. For example, you could use something like lair and they’d be internally scratching their head for a bit before finally calling you out on the bullshit. Use sandwich and it’s not going to take them long before they’re giving you the “Cut that shit out” look. And use smorgasbord and you’re getting an instantaneous reaction. So, yeah, don’t use smorgasbord. Use something like rinse. Or swill. Actually, come up with your own. You know you can do better. Report back.
  • I was talking to my friend, and she said that her hands are always sweaty and people pull theirs away in disgust. I told her my hands are always cold, and I get the same reaction. I usually try to give them a warning before the hand shake, just so they aren’t as alarmed as they would be without that alert. Even still, their faces make me aware that the warning was not nearly enough to prepare them for the icy embrace of my hand. “Are you awake? You are now. You’re welcome.” I guess people are dying to ask me if I’m a corpse. Which, you know, no. [Ed. Note: Heh. Dying. Nice.] Not yet. And hopefully, not for a while. Because life will be far less fun when I become one of those guys.
  • Anna said it’s a saying that you can’t say bubbles angrily and immediately I was bizarrely angry. And proved her wrong by saying bubbles angrily a billion times. Because I was so oddly put off by it. Then, I argued that it totally wasn’t a saying. And I’m still trying to figure out what fool is trying to make it a thing. Is this like fetch from Mean Girls? Now, chicken baby? You can’t say that angrily. Let’s make that a thing if there needs to be such a saying. Hey, why in the world does there need to be such a saying? People?! Get a hobby. Yes. I should also work on getting a hobby. Touché. 
  • I’m going to dump a band recommendation in here, because, why not? You know how you find a band that fits your taste so well that you love every (ok, nearly every) song they release? The Kills were and still are that band for me. They have always fit right in my sweet spot. Give them a try.

Ok, everyone. Have a great week.

    The Day the Music Died. Alternate Title: Karaoke Is Hard, You Guys.

    I had to do it. I did wait an acceptable amount of time, so I could blame any inaccuracies, missing moments, or outright falsifications on my spotty memory. I got to hang with these three awesome women, and we tried to put a reasonable amount of hurt on a Tuesday night in RVA. I wouldn’t call it a beatdown, but I’m proud of what we accomplished. And now I have to tell you guys about it, so the gelatinous monster will leave me alone for one tiny second. She’s seriously upset that I screwed up the karaoke experience, and made my friends share in my humiliation. I sing ALL THE TIME. Why was I so inept?! She will not let it go.

    IMG_4664brightWe look harmless, right? But we closed down each of the 3 bars we visited.

    [Ed. Note: Names have been altered to protect the innocent.]

    Recently, Lissa, Marta and I decided that we should get together on the semi-regular and try to destroy local bars as an unscheduled and, if I’m honest, unrequested disaster testing exercise to make sure they’ve done their disaster planning adequately. This is a strategic and helpful service that we’re happy to provide for our local biz owners, and we’re not even charging for it. We’re pretty awesome that way. We heard that Emcee’s in da house was coming to town and insisted that she join us for one of our Tuesday Teardown Events, and she agreed. The four of us had a blast. We talked about old times. We talked about our families, and we talked about things that are above your clearance level, unless one of you in the picture is reading this, and you know what we talked about. (Relax, Emcee’s in da house, Lissa, and Marta — alpha order so nobody gets aggro on me — I’m not going to spill the deets on anything except the events of the night in question. So, don’t spill any dirt on me. Remember we took that oath? I know, I know, we didn’t. We should have, but we didn’t.)

    Anyway, I want to talk about the karaoke, because I just didn’t know. All my life. In the dark. And my life has been a nearly constant training session for a karaoke extravaganza that people would talk about in reverent and glowing terms for weeks afterward. In my head. Where reality has no business holding court.

    [Ed. Note: Speaking of reality and such: Emcee, Lissa, and Marta, hit me up with any corrections and additions, right? I’m not exaggerating intentionally. This time.]

    Things I didn’t know about karaoke:

    • People take it really seriously. Like really fucking seriously. I’m exaggerating, you say? I am not. I have proof. For our first song, Emcee’s in da house selected ‘We Are Family’ and, while I was not sure about it at first, I calmed myself down as I remembered that the lyrics are supplied for you. I’m chuckling and shaking my head even now as I remember that this was my only concern then. We all got up to sing. I may have strutted up to the front. I’m extremely shy, but I assumed the ridiculous number of years I’ve spent on this fine planet engaged in exuberant singing meant I would rock at karaoke. Emcee grabbed one microphone for the two of us. I think Lissa grabbed the other. I’m not convinced that Marta EVER planned on singing as she was sober. SOBER, PEOPLE. Yes. Give her a hand. That woman accompanied us to karaoke night with no alcohol on board. I’m reasonably certain the constant refrain in her head was, “Fuck this noise. Fuck this noise. Fuck this noise.” But I could be projecting. I stood next to Emcee preparing for my debut. The lyrics began to scroll. And…….we missed our cue. Somehow. I think it was at this point that Emcee and I exchanged the look of “Whuh? This doesn’t work exactly as expected. Wait, we might be drunk. This is probably best attempted buzzed and not drunk. Nah. We’ve got this.” Then, she looked away and began to give it a go. But my look changed back to something of the nature of “No. I don’t have this. I don’t really know this song at all. Is this a different version of this song? I’ve certainly never practiced this song. I may have only really sung this song once over the entire course of my lifetime. That’s insufficient. Abort. Abort. Abort. No. Better plan. Giggle. Giggle loudly and with abandon because this is really fucking funny. Wait. Look at those faces. People are fierce mad, yo. Wait. Are you laughing harder? Yes. You’re laughing harder. Now, you’re doubled over and clutching your stomach. Stop that. Don’t laugh harder. That’s making them angrier.” I’m certain that Lissa abandoned us long before we got 3 lines deep into the lyrics and just looked at us like, “WTF, women?” But with a humorous and patient kind of look. She’s a seasoned pro. There was nothing for her to do but watch the trainwreck and help with the carnage when the smoke cleared. Emcee really did us proud. She might have faltered at the beginning with me, but she finished strong. Then, she and Lissa danced like it was no big thing while we waited to see if we would be booted from the bar for being a bane to the existence of karaoke fans across the land.
    • If you catch someone late to the party who hasn’t witnessed your epic failure, you will get a second chance to party. Marta and I sat and talked and tried to make sense of the crazy that is a karaoke bar on a Tuesday night. Some dude decided to sit on my lap. I’m still unsure what makes me look like a chair, but I’ll concede that the guy had partaken of a fair share of adult brews. Yes, kids DO have brewskis. Of the root variety. Anyway, somewhere in here (I, unlike Marta, was experiencing the sensation of blood combined with my glorious friend, Tito’s) a guy comes over and asks if we know Love Shack. I don’t need Marta to confirm that I lit up like I’d just been plugged in a socket. I think I said, “Of course!” I meant, “Duh, you giant jackass, and thank you for not being here earlier to witness our epic failure. We will not let you down. You can be certain I have rocked the SHIT out of that song so many times I cannot count them. Let’s get this thing on the books.”

    Dear Emcee, I must out you here and alert the readers (all one of them) that you tried to shut this shit down. I forgive you, because we delivered a performance that still brings tears to my eyes. We were spot on. My drunk self is certain of this. I will not ask Marta to confirm as the truth is sure to disappoint me. Love, Steph

    • A karaoke bar can yield some really dramatic situations. For example, Emcee and I met this woman who was pining for her friend at the bar with her boyfriend. A classic triangle. This poor woman had reached a standard of overserved that I haven’t seen in a while. I was a bit afraid for her as the night progressed. I was heartily rooting for her to boot by the time we all left the bar because, at a certain point, you just have to get that poison out. But at any rate, Emcee and I were enlisted to help her win her friend over with the song ‘Push It’ which is another one that has enjoyed a decent rotation in my playlists over the years. So, I assured this woman that we would do right by her. [This song came after Lissa selected a country song that she shooed us up to accompany her on. I think I was the sole idiot that made it all the way to the stage area. Which was tragic for Lissa as she killed it, and my presence up there did nothing but distract from the awesome. I believe my ratio of correct words to incorrect was 1:1,000,000. Nailed it! Still sorry, Lissa!] For ‘Push It’ we were sadly relegated to backup dancer status. Which we worked like “In Living Color” extras. Again, how successful my performance was might be a figment of my imagination. You decide. Emcee took a run at backup singer, but the woman was having none of that. So, we did our thing, but it wasn’t enough. Her friend left with the guy. Sad, but we tried. I think the song was at fault. Bad song.

    It was a great night. With some great people. Marta, you’re a rock star. No alcohol at a karaoke bar. Still impressed. Emcee, this town isn’t quite complete without you. Lissa, you brighten whatever place you inhabit. I’m ready for the next time!!

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