Candidly Concerting #3: lovelytheband

“Hey, Ma, I think this year the band made it.” Those were the last words that the frontman of lovelytheband, Mitchy Collins, managed to say before he turned his back on a cheering audience with a reddening face to wipe his eyes. His bandmates, Jordan Greenwald and Sam Price, both stepped away from their instruments and went to celebrate and comfort him. After all, they had just shared with the crowd that the sold out Irving Plaza in New York City in three days, a stage the members themselves had been to see Billboard greats like FallOut Boy, Ed Sheeran, and Macklemore. Now it was their turn.

I remember the first time I heard lovelytheband’s hit “broken” on the segment “Ear Poppin’ New Music” on SiriusXM’s Hits 1. I was driving to Ocean City, New Jersey with my mom, freshly returned from my first year in grad school in London and finding myself surprisingly at a loss with what to listen to on American radio while, as I like to call it, “driving with Wendy” thanks to my increasingly eclectic Spotify tastes. But if there’s one thing I can never resist, it’s the opportunity to hear new music. I did not, however, expect for my tastes to shift into high gear. I don’t even think the song ended before “broken” was added to my Spotify summer playlist. And when the album was released, it was added to my saved catalog.

It’s now been a year since that highway listen. The band has received decent notoriety, and well-deserved. Their sound is widely appealing, with an audience on Monday night’s concert ranging from families with musically woke middle schoolers to late thirties groups of music enthusiasts. Personally, I went alone, wanting to fully dance and geek out when they played “pity party” (I did) and nearly cry at the end of “maybe I’m afraid” (there were witnesses). And while the opening acts were decent (Jagwar Twin and Flora Cash), if at times muddy, there was no chance of anyone stealing lovelytheband’s thunder that weekday night at Irving Plaza. They owned that stage and fully earned the Live Nation backing that they’re receiving for their finding it hard to smile tour.

I am a certified, cemented, rock-solid fan.

Candidly Reading #1: Recommitting Myself to My Inner Bookworm

Candidly Reading #1: Recommitting Myself to My Inner Bookworm

One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.

Cassandra Clare

To acquire the habit of reading is the construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.

W. Somerset Maugham

I am the daughter of two generous and inspiring bibliophiles.

My father frequently recounts opening the door to my bedroom an hour after my mother would usher my four year old self into the coverlet only to discover she was still sitting on the seams of the mattress, picture book in hand, a pile of previous reads at her feet, an enraptured child perched at her side. There was certainly no sleep, and no foreseeable end.

But my father got his own turn at bestowing the magic when it came to chapter books, which we would alternate reading pages out of when it came to my grade school years. And, when it came time for me to read on my own, we would “parallel” read, choosing the same texts and conversing about our progresses.

My mother, meanwhile, continued to stoke the fire of my voraciousness. From an early age, I would go to the library with a small rolling suitcase and be encouraged to take all I could fit. By middle school, my mother was facilitating the Scholastic catalog distribution to not only my grade but my brother’s and occasionally those of our teachers she felt a certain bond with even after our matriculation from their classrooms. This filled my home once a month with the inventory of a small bookstore. Speaking of, to this day, if I even remotely suggest a Barnes & Noble road trip, I can rely on little reluctance when I show up at the cashier counter with not one but two (or three) novels.

I started academically pursuing literature fervently in high school. My electives were commonly literary — notably, my seven-person class of Shakespeare in Senior year which earned me the Distinction in English award at graduation — and I even willingly and enthusiastically attended an academic camp where, yes, again I studied Shakespeare.

This all considered, I was reluctant to pursue my Bachelor’s in English. I know — contradictory! But I felt it was the easy choice, the given, the expected. I realized, however, that as soon as I took my first English elective — “Medieval Romances: Knights, Ladies, Etc” — there was no course of action other than to give into where my heart belonged. And in my heart, I have always been a true and chronic reader.  

And while professionally I do plan on returning to the Publishing world, this time in a recruitment capacity to best shape the futures of those hopefuls that I was once a member, until an hour ago I was jaded. I could hardly pick up a book without thinking of the ones I would binge in preparation for publisher interviews so I would be informed about a certain genre or house catalog.

But in the meantime, I need to pick up a damn book.

I’m thrilled to say I made the first commitment to myself today by subscribing to Book of the Month club and ordering not one but two of their offerings. I’ll be checking back in with reviews when I complete the reads, a book club of one, just to say hello and give thoughts, and undoubtedly a quote.

I am ready to be the bookworm daughter again who was read countless picture books, who read alternate pages, who sat and shared progress over breakfast, who packaged classmates’ books with care. I am ready to be me.  

On the rise of standards and decline of romantic action

On the rise of standards and decline of romantic action

…there is nothing romantic about love. Only the most naïve believe it will save them. Only the hardiest of us will survive it. And yet. And yet! We believe in love because we want to believe in it. Because really what else is there, amid all our glorious follies and urges and weaknesses and stumbles? The magic, the hope, the gorgeous idea of it. Because, when the lights go out and we sit waiting in the dark, what do our fingers seek? Who do we reach for?

The Last Romantics, Tara Conklin

If you were to put a gun to my head and force me to open that hidden folder on my phone, you would learn that I am an active user of five dating apps. You read that correctly: five. How many dates have I been on in the last month? A whopping zero. And yet, every night before bed I sit on my phone and swipe — left, left, right, left — until the profiles blend into one undeterminable blur. Am I too picky? Probably? But is that a bad thing? Or is it just something ingrained in the population when it comes to selecting a “life partner” — a phrase that I have actually come to hate instinctively?

Of course, there’s the obvious option of meeting someone in real life. “Rose, just go out and meet people,” you may say. That, reader, is easier said than done. And it offers the same outcomes as dating apps (in my case, a lot of ghosting). At least with the apps, you have the dependable knowledge of what exactly the other person is looking for: no guessing, no head games.

In late 2018, Match.com released its annual Singles in America study, this year helmed by anthropologist Helen Fisher, with the mildly shocking discovery that Millennials as a whole are actually having less sex than their predecessors, despite all the movements towards “no strings attached” language and norms (see all the data in an article in The Atlantic). I say mildly shocking because this decline has actually been on the data forefront for years among wealthy first world countries for several reasons: shifting attitudes towards in-person approaches (is it creepy or is it flirtatious?); the rise of access to a wide selection of pornography; Millennial discomfort with nakedness (I’m not kidding), etc.

I have been very, very open about my romantic searches and endeavors on The Mindful Millennial. Perhaps too open — sorry Mom & Dad. But growing up spawned (quite literally) from their example, a marriage that never once fractured towards divorce in the thirty years of adoration, continued respect, and puppy love infatuation…well, it sets a standard that makes it hard to not wish for that level of intimacy with a partner.

My trial and errors have led me to a point in my life that often results in sitting on my friend Rebecca’s couch with a heavy pour of cheap white whine in a plastic long-stem wine glass with heavier complaints of falling too deep in infatuation with men who reciprocate less than half of the effort. And yet, she listens and contributes her own mirrored behaviors of her own amorous challenges, leaving us quite honestly fulfilling the cliché of the blind leading the blind.

When we heard of Vanessa Valerio and Anita Flores’ Party of Two monthly comedy show having a spring edition for (cheap cheap tickets) Saturday, we quickly hopped onboard with the tagline:

“If you’ve ever watched You’ve Got Mail, Maid In Manhattan, Kate and Leopold, Serendipity, Hitch (F*CK THAT MOVIE, SERIOUSLY), or any rom-com that takes place in NYC and thought “dating in New York isn’t NEARLY this fun and sexy,” then PARTY OF TWO will be your new favorite monthly show! Hosts Vanessa Valerio and Anita Flores are bringing some of New York City’s best storytellers and comedians together to recount their absurd experiences about dating in the modern world.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/party-of-two-spring-edition-tickets-59145844814#

Perhaps it sounds too much like a “get rich quick” scheme, but for dating. Perhaps it sounds too much like a loosely thought through knock-off Love Actually (first of all, how dare you). But what it turned out to be was truly a reminder that there are people who will gather in the basement of a sex toy shop (I’m not kidding) to commiserate in the fact that singledom and dating are equally brutal but the realities of dating a person ill-suited for you are far more debilitating, although humorous when presented properly. From comedienne Tracy Soren’s honest confessions on why — and I’m not making this up — “getting my ass eaten is my nightmare” to storyteller Susan Kent recounting her two great loves and how she finally, finally moved on, it was a night of humor and depth.

Better yet, when hosts Vanessa and Anita asked people to raise their hands if they’re single, almost everyone in the room obliged and lifted. A shock to this Maryland girl whose parents were at a wedding for a — get this — 22 year old that afternoon (nothing to make you feel like a 25 year old spinster than a fresh faced bride).

In all fairness, at the end of the night, I was back on Bumble, hitting my rhythm of swipes with the same frequency as the nights before. Because there’s still that hope that Conklin talked about. And one day, I’ll have that person to reach for in the darkness. But for the meantime, I’ll have wine on Rebecca’s couch and friendship.

That doesn’t sound too bad, to be honest.

On my new “vivarium”

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Stuff your eyes with wonder…live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

In order to take AP Human Geography my Sophomore year of high school, I had to make the concession of starting Honors Latin instead of French. Little did I know that would take me on the journey through Honors Latin V to President of the Latin Honor Society — I know, I was a nerd — and eventually able to translate fairly well even into my mid-twenties.

So imagine my pleasure at discovering the word vivarium during the final quarter of Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists. Vivarium means “place of life,” and while it is frequently used in laboratory environments constructing homes for plants and animals, it carries a beautiful weight to it as well. To me, it echoes with the simple question — where do you create your own vivarium?

For the greater part of the last four years, I have not had a central place of life. I have been transient, nomadic at best. I was spreading my time during the end of my Senior year of Villanova between Annapolis, Maryland and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Upon completion of my degree and finding a harsh job market, I boarded a plane and literally jetted across the Atlantic to Dublin, Ireland to establish a Gap Year (really, 8 months) where I temped and traveled. From there I moved across the channel to London for my Master’s in Publishing at London College of Communication.

And now — as of 54 hours ago — I am a certified New Yorker.

This time with no end in sight.

Unless I reach a point of complete and utter failure, I risk nothing but permanence in this new move — a concept completely foreign to me. I’ve had somewhere new on the horizon for as long as my short-term and not-so-short-but-not-so-long-term memory can recall. But for the first time in my adulthood, my only option is to put down roots in this new city and begin constructing something of more concrete substance.

I find myself building my own vivarium. The weekend was spent decorating my shoebox room in my apartment I can barely afford on the Upper West Side. I invested myself in decor that meant something to me, brought me “joy” to quote Marie Kondo. I’m finally investing myself in a career path rather than diverting to “fun side-hustles” or working to make ends meet only. Hell, for the first time in three years, I’m buying cookware so I actually make myself meals rather than eat microwavable ones, sandwiches, or resort to ordering in.

I find myself reflecting on this quote from Fahrenheit 451 because it is one that has driven me for the past few years. It took me from country to country. It took me away from all I had ever known three times and then back again. It made me thirst for a world I had never seen — and yet, now it’s the very thing that’s making me hunger for a world of my own just four hours north of Annapolis.

It may not be the most thrilling adventure on paper that I’ve ever begun, but I think it has the potential to be the most rewarding one yet.