ME! By Taylor Swift (feat. Brendan Urie) – Top 5 Inspiring Moments

Much has been said, written and shared about this already, but the internet is forever and so is music, plus I prefer to let the storm die down a little (not that it really ever does in the case of the undeniable powerhouse that is Taylor Swift), and then pop out (no pun intended) my own musings after what might have been dozens of repeated perusals of whatever content is occupying my brain at the moment. And after all, to quote ME!…

I promise that nobody’s gonna love you like me

Yes, it’s poppy, catchy, colorful, possibly campy, easy to sing along to and does everything a successful pop song should, without sounding manufactured. It also echoes my support of spelling being fun. So among the many moments we can single out and scrutinize to our heart’s content, which 5 would I pick as especially inspiring? Well…

1. Taylor Swift is the mistress of transformation and she just goes for it, doing whatever she wants in expressing her creative ideas. Speak French in a totally unexpected acting scene at the beginning of the video? Mais oui! Insert some laugh-out-loud, disarmingly dorky comedy? Sure!

2. All that psychedelic, glittering dance glamour, bring it on.

3. Over-the-top theatrical romance that concludes with gifting a kitten (of course).

4. Strutting along in a pretty gown on your way to an epic musical flash mob in the street is always a good idea.

5. And of course staging the color-soaked twilight ending of your mini-musical extravaganza with huge splatters of paint raining down from the sky as you and another lovely gown become works of art.

As of right now the music video for ME! has over 164 million views, having broken the VEVO record for speediest leap to 100 million. The thoughtfully composed lyric video (for us written word and stationery geeks) is worth a look as well, currently standing at an also impressive 4.5 million views.

 

Advertisements

Kate and William Wedding Nostalgia

Yeah, yeah, I’m one of those people. Deal with it.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently celebrated 8 years since they got married and seeing all the predictable photo galleries being pulled up online sent me on my own small trip down memory lane.

At the time I was I was doing an internship at an online women’s magazine which proved to be educational in many ways, and also provided valuable interactions with supervisors that I still remember clearly, and fondly. It was a special, formative time for me, and while I knew that when it ended, I would be facing most likely several months of looking for my first post-graduation job, I enjoyed my internship to the fullest.

April rolled around and everyone was excited about “the big day”. While I was definitely not a lazy intern, I won’t lie that I was more than pleased when I was told I was allowed to watch the Royal Wedding right there in the office. Basically all day long. My supervisors and colleagues had to work – tweeting, writing, editing photos, you name it. Meanwhile, I sat back and watched Kate Middleton arrive at Westminster Abbey, hoping all the while that our internet connection wouldn’t break.

When she exited the car and turned around, smiling, to wave in that first amazing moment, the whole office collectively sighed. I was sitting right opposite my boss and as I emitted my own “Ohhh”, searching for words, she quietly said, “Yes, she’s beautiful.”

Besides the excitement of watching an event I knew was being followed internationally, I suppose it also offered some natural respite from whatever sad things were going on in the world at that time, and of those there are always more than plenty. Aside from the pomp, the glamour, the jewels, the staggering media coverage all over the world, I think the refreshing part was that there were plenty of moments watching the bride in particular (and as a woman, I guess I looked  more at her than at anyone else at that wedding) that were relatable. I had been to several lovely weddings and seen my own sisters become brides, looked at various wedding pictures from my family – regardless of circumstances, that special bridal glow was the same everywhere.

I can’t not quote something about the Duchess of Cambridge’s unforgettable wedding gown, and Megan Hess said it especially well in her beautiful book The Dress. 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion: “Kate’s wedding dress was always going to have an impact on style history – seared into our minds and inspiring thousands of knock-offs. Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen designed the chosen gown, which, with its full skirt and long sleeves, was inevitably traditional.” Additionally, one commentator from this clip of the BBC coverage of Kate Middleton’s arrival expresses it accurately too: “I am beside myself, this is such a fashion moment, I can’t tell you <…> It’s exquisite. She…” Trailing off, she stops for a while, leaving us to fill in the blanks ourselves, and then she simply concludes with “That is a fabulous dress.” True!

 

 

 

You’ve Got The Power, Agathe Bauer

“There are whole websites devoted to what people heard wrongly in a song,” was what I started to say during a routine German workday lunch, when one of my buddies interjected, “Yes! Do you know Agathe Bauer?”

I was confused at first, because what I thought she said, in a mix of German and English, was “I got a Bauer”, which translates as “I got a farmer”.  The irony is that “Agathe Bauer” is apparently what scores of Germans heard instead of “I got the power” in the 1989 hit The Power by Snap! The cycle continues! Predictably, the gif inserted at this point of my post is…

After  I learned this piece of information, I couldn’t stop imagining what the fictitious Agathe Bauer would look like and making up what she did in life. I think she’s a sturdy German woman who lives on a farm with her three grown sons, and she wants them all to get married. But most likely none of the candidates the sons brought home would be good enough for her, my friend added firmly, and I felt like agreeing. I think that besides investing her thoughts and emotions in her sons’ future, Agathe would be great at making jam and would be very hands-on at the farm.

Nationally songs where people heard something wrong are affectionately referred to as Agathe Bauer songs and the interpretations are endless.  I would still like to add, though, that while I still have plenty to contribute myself, I never joined the Starbucks lovers team. One thing in life I can be certain of.

 

Chapters: My Growth as a Writer by Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan is one of my favourite writers and I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned her on my blog yet! It’s time.

Last year I was fired up and researching whether writers I loved had written autobiographies or memoirs, hoping very much that they had, because one is curious about the person behind the magic pages that pulled you in, about their insights on writing and life, the experiences that shaped them, and you’re expecting their memoirs to be as engaging as their fiction. I don’t rush with this, because I’m usually involved in some extensive reading first, especially if the writer has been around a while and achieved a lengthy bibliography. Then there’s some digesting and thinking time after finishing a novel. It’s almost like I need to sit with the characters I met for a while before I move on to words directly from the life of the person who created them.

Chapters: My Growth as a Writer is a gem for many reasons. One of them is that between Lois Duncan’s memories and accounts of her writing, which are all absorbing in their own right, the book is basically an anthology of her riveting short stories (none of which I had read before!). She uses them to illustrate her growth and career, and while each point she makes comes across loud and clear, the stories themselves are a fantastic read, showcasing the incredible talent evident since Lois Duncan’s early years. They contain that unique suspense building up from the everyday experiences we can all relate to that is characteristic of her novels. What will happen? Will it be something bad? are the questions we keep asking ourselves when we read.

Visions of a woman’s life in a 1950s-60s America emerge, as a teenager, a young woman, a wife, a mother. The expectations, the preconceived societal ideas, the sexism, the condescension, the inevitable revolt against attempts, however small, to diminish a creative identity – unfortunately, some of it still exists today. One scene in which Lois Duncan describes her statement that she is a self-employed professional writer, while her conversation partner firmly insists it’s a hobby and not a “real” job is simply priceless.

Just like her novels, this memoir is a reminder that Lois Duncan was so much more than, as often mentioned in news headlines, the author of I Know What You Did Last Summer. She was a gifted writer, an attentive and precise observer and an amazing, engaging storyteller. She drew on and never disregarded her own experiences, more than proving the “Write what you  know” maxim, and she worked hard. She knew how to tap into that which scared us, young and old, what made us laugh in-between and how to grasp a life-changing moment, whether big or small, then put all this into written words.

13 Going on 30 Nostalgia

It’s 15 years old?!

“Thirty, flirty and thriving!” Great mild tongue twister and English class exercise, by the way. This heartwarming movie is, to this day, a wonderful story about not forgetting what your childhood and youth bring to your life for years to come, and what it means to be not just grown up, but mature.

But this fifteenth birthday has me feeling sentimental, so I’m reeling off my favourite things about 13 Going on 30.

Listening to Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar will forever be linked to Jenna’s slumber party dance-off.

Sometimes the truth needs to be said in no uncertain terms, without any embellishment, like kids tend to do.

One of the best tear-jerking mom wisdom moments ever.

Bitches are forever, and just because you’ve moved on doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!

Sure we’re crying because we’re happy!

Here’s to the next 15 years!

My Life as a Doormat by Rene Gutteridge

It was a hard thing to shake. Edward thought I needed help with conflict. This was just another sign that this relationship was not what it should be.

Leah Townsend, a playwright and the protagonist of the novel, is right, but not for the reasons she thinks. Her boyfriend (gaslighter!), Edward, is also right, but not for the reasons he thinks.

I learned about this book because of the TV movie it was based on (incidentally, in retrospect, Holly Marie Combs did an amazing job portaying Lea) and read it afterwards. It’s a layered, psychologically insightful novel in which the experiences and feelings of the main heroine are sometime so relatable, so visceral in their descriptions that I had to lay the book aside to process. It’s also scary to realize how there will always be plenty of people ready to pounce on you as soon as you become that thing, a doormat.

Leah is a woman who has everything in her to be who she wants to be. In fact, she might already be that woman, only she got lost along the way due to ever-deepening habits of not wanting to disappoint people and destructive contributions from her boyfriend (gaslighter!). The number of times I was shouting to myself “No! That’s not what you should have done! Don’t give in! Do the thing, do the thing, aaaahhhh…” One consolation on the journey to finish the novel is that, ironically, precisely because of Leah’s submissiveness she has developed an inner voice in the form of her play’s main character, Jodie, a creative alter ego that lives in Leah’s head as Leah’s actual life becomes more complicated. But the complications are ultimately caused by Leah trying to get out of unhealthy patterns, and I was reading as fast as I could to find out if she would.

The conflict resolution class Leah gets signed up for by Edward (gaslighter!) proves to be a turning point for her in more ways than one. There are no hard-and-fast, magical solutions presented in the book. This is not a romantic comedy, though it has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments (actually did that on the subway one day while reading) that look as if someone took note of the absurd experiences in your own life.

This is one of the most engaging books I’ve ever read and it leaves you thinking after you’re done, because Leah, in my opinion, has been nicer to the people walking over her than necessary even after her breakthroughs (like to some gaslighters, but I might be thinking that because I was reading a book about gaslighting parallel to the novel), and there might still be some things in her attitudes to wrap up, BUT all of this contributes to a rare effect and the mark of a good novel: you may have finished the book, yet you know the character still has everything ahead of her.

 

New York Through a Fashion Eye by Megan Hess

I spent part of my childhood in New York City and I would love to go again one day. I don’t know if it will happen in quite the style pictured and described in New York Through a Fashion Eye by the amazing Megan Hess. But this is another box-of-chocolates book that I loved perusing. The sense of fun and excitement hopefully anyone has when visiting New York leaps off the pages and the book is essentially a result of what most of us would do (albeit with a different budget and other goals) when going on a trip: make an itinerary.

There are plenty of fantastic places mentioned I’m itching to see myself: the New York Public Library (memories), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, High Line. And if I do receive a sudden cash windfall that makes me curious about all the designer shops listed in the book, at least I’m prepared. Until then, I’ll enjoy the fun illustrations and reminisce about some happy years.