Hanging Onto My Italian Heritage

Once a week I make pasta for my family. It’s a tradition that goes back to my childhood. Every Sunday, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and I would all gather at Nonna’s house for macaroni. I’ve been eating pasta once a week for pretty much…ever since.

pasta

Every good Italian has a handful of these wooden spoons.

I don’t have time these days for the full authentic sauce and homemade meatballs every week, but I try to mix it up. Sometimes it’s simply penne with frozen turkey meatballs, other times it’s bowtie pasta with leeks and pancetta, other (rare) times it’s the real-deal pasta carbonara.  Whether it’s ghetto bottled sauce with packaged chicken sausage or the more gourmet preparation, I always look forward to pasta nights.

Problem is, my family seems to be losing interest.

First it started when Alex decided he wasn’t really into the turkey meatballs (even though Lucas and I enjoyed them both for their taste and their simplicity). Then all of a sudden Lucas started pushing his macaroni around his plate, picking out only the meat bits. One day I packed pasta for lunch for Lucas, as I typically do when we have leftovers. Pre-school sent him home with the thermos—full. They said he wouldn’t touch it.

Lately, when I tell Alex I’m making pasta for dinner, I can hear him sigh in resignation. In a last-ditch effort to peak his interest, I went all out this week and cooked rigatoni with a bolognese sauce made from ground grass-fed angus beef and lamb. As Alex and Lucas tucked in, I looked on anxiously, hopefully…

The apathy was palpable. They just don’t care about pasta anymore.

Guys…I need to have pasta in my life. I can’t NOT have it. I finally worked up the courage to ask my husband, “Do you just not…like it?” And with great trepidation (because he knows how I feel about Italian food), he answered that he liked it, but just felt I made it too much.

Not going to lie. This hurts in my green, white, and red-striped bleeding heart. I’ve tried hard to hang onto my Italian heritage, but when you live 3,000 miles away from your Italian relatives, and the best slice of pizza in your community comes from a Round Table chain, well, it’s easy to find it slipping away.

Italian pantryThere are little things in my kitchen that are definitively Italian. I’ve only got the best olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. I have a pepper mill. My pantry is full of peperoncinis and olives. I have a wine rack that needs weekly refilling. But if you open up my fridge, you’d hardly know an Italian gal is in charge of its contents. Tortillas, lentils, beans, albondigas (all thanks to my mother-in-law sending home tons of leftovers). Maybe sometimes there’s a handful of fresh parsley and basil. More often it’s cilantro.

My boys have Mexican taste buds. And my poor Italian tummy, while appreciative of the deliciousness of Mexican cuisine, just craves those macaroni Sundays the way a crack addict craves the rock.

How do I reconcile this? How do I keep my little family happy at dinnertime without sacrificing my weekly pasta? Do I change up the recipes? Do I (gulp) just make it every other week? Or do I tell them to suck it up and eat the damn pasta?

You know what my Italian heritage tells me to do? It tells me to Mangia! Mangia! and just fuggetaboutit.

Just My Luck

Well, I mentioned there might be some drama with my epidural steroid injection shot last week. Annnnnnd I was right. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. Next time I make a prediction on this blog, I’m going to call that I come into a huge sum of money and get a book deal. Just watch.

Anywho, the injection itself went off without a hitch, though it wasn’t exactly pleasant. I was pretty sore for the first day or two afterwards, but was otherwise functional. But the next day after the shot at work, something funky began to happen. It felt as though I had a raging fever. My skin was on fire. My cheeks began to flush and I felt woozy. I tried to stick it out at work for the full day, but soon realized I needed to get myself home…fast.

By the time I got home, my face, neck, and chest were the color of a cherry bomb and I was running to the bathroom every five minutes. Nice visual, right? One panicked call to the doctor later and I discover:

I had a freaking allergic reaction to the shot.

flushed face

This is me today. Much improved, but still slightly flushed.

Beautiful! Beautiful! Seriously, brava! I’m giving my luck a sarcastic standing ovation right now, since this was the one procedure I was counting on that could maybe maybe provide a little pain relief for my back. Instead, it confined me to my home for four days while I hugged the toilet and pressed a cold facecloth to my head.

I am thankful, of course, that in the grand scheme of allergic reactions, this one was not so bad. No hospital visit required, no shortness of breath, no swelling. Just a need to ship my child off to the in-laws for the second weekend in a row and to hole up in my living room with Netflix on a constant loop. Not that I minded the rest THAT much, but I miss my kid, I miss my office, and I miss wearing not pajamas.

The worst part of all of this is that I’m still feeling pain in my back. I’m supposed to give the medicine a full week to kick in, but I’ve only got two more days and all I can say is that so far it has taken the average daily pain from a 4 to a 3. It’s an improvement, but is it worth the days of hot cheeks…both on my face and elsewhere? The good money says naaaaah, not so much.

Sorry, steroids. You and me just don’t get along.

So where do I go from here? The old me might have collapsed into a downward spiral of shame and self-pity. The new me is going full The Secret. Good things will come. But it’s not about sitting and waiting for them to come to you. Good things come when you set out for them to happen. And if it doesn’t work, you just move on to try the next good thing.

So it’s onward in the search for better pain management! I think it’s time I go full hippy homeopathic, which my East Coast brain knows is a crock of shit, but my science brain recognizes that the mind is a powerful thing. If I just BELIEVE these things can help, then maybe, just maybe, they will.

But if they’re going to make me look like I fell asleep in the tropical sun for 12 hours with no sunscreen then….pass.

I Got Nothing!

Confession: when I’m happy and/or simply content, I have jack-ass shit to write about.

The boy is being precious. I had a lovely anniversary weekend. Work is going swimmingly. I have absolutely nothing to complain about…except the regular stuff everyone has to complain about. And how interesting is that?!

tailgating

Look! This is me having fun! Very enjoyable weekend = very bland blog.

Oh! I’m super tired because I had an awesome time going out for dinner, tailgating, and watching the Giants get destroyed at AT&T park this weekend! I’m sure you all feel really bad for me.

Oh! My kid is obsessed with watching this one terrible Hulk cartoon on Netflix. Yeah, let’s write a blog about that.

Oh! I’m getting an epidural steroid shot on Wednesday. I’m a little nervous! That’s about all I can say on that topic.

This is the danger of running a personal blog. Sometimes you just don’t have a whole lot interesting going on, but it’s important to update your page with something, anything, so people don’t forget about you. And oh how quickly they forget. On the Internet, you’re only as good as your last post. And even if your last post went viral, your next post better not be a stinker, otherwise people are moving on.

But here I am. Writing away. And I got nothing.

I got nothing

There’s only one other time you might find me tongue-tied on this here blog, and that’s when there’s stuff going on that crosses my hey, this will be on the Internet forever so maybe I don’t want to write about it boundary. And since I’ve written about miscarriage, morbid fantasies, the death of my cousin, and awkward office sex talk, you know it’s pretty juicy if I’m not sharing it here. Sometimes it’s just not my secret to tell. Other times it is mine, but it’s in my or my family’s best interest to keep it to myself.

So what do you do when you’re either content or carrying around a secret you can’t share? You sit back and let the other people around you do the talking. You listen. You smile. You send up a little thanks to the universe for easing up on you for a bit. And you hold your breath because Lord knows the next big thing might be just around the corner.

…and if all else fails, I’m sure that epidural shot will yield SOME drama worth writing about! You all know my luck with doctors. If this shot actually helps with my pain, it will be a goddamned miracle. Which means I may have to start posting Italian recipes on this blog or some shit.

How I Met Your Dad

wedding pictureOkay, Lucas. You’re too young to roll your eyes at me or even sit still for a conversation longer than one minute, so for now I’ll just write this down for you to (maybe) read at a later date. One day you might ask me, “Mom, how did you and Dad meet?” and I’m going to stumble a little, as I always do when I tell people this story. Because the thing is, Lucas, your father and I met…in Las Vegas.

I’m not sure what people will think about Vegas when you become a teenager, but in 2006 when I went to there for a business trip, Vegas was a party place where people went to hook up with strangers, drink, gamble, and maybe take in a show. I was sent there for a full week by myself to review dance shows and competitions for the magazine that I worked for in New York. Your dad was dragged along with his friends, even though he wasn’t much of a drinker, didn’t gamble, and he counted playing Command and Conquer into the wee hours of the night as a really wild time.

For the week that I was in Vegas, most of my work took place during the night, which left my mornings and afternoons wide open. I can’t tell you how bizarre it was to be alone in Las Vegas not getting afternoon drunk on cocktails served by banana-hammock-clad pool boys. Time had a strange way of both zooming by and flowing like molasses. I was equal parts geared up and ridiculously bored. So the only natural thing for me to do was to eat Alaskan king crab legs from the buffet at 9am, and then head down to the pool.

…Which is where I saw him.

Your dad was sitting by the pool with his friends when he turned around and flashed me his killer smile. I know, I know. You’re probably like ew. Stop. But it’s too late now—you asked. Be grateful I didn’t sit you down for eight seasons and tell you about all the dudes I banged before I met your dad (hint: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less than Ted Moseby).

I smiled back at him. He turned back to his friends and I returned to sunbathing. Glanced over again. Smiled. Blushed. Smiled back. Looked away. Pretended to be fully absorbed in fixing the strings on my bikini. Glanced over. He was looking again. Smiled. He still wasn’t coming over. I thought Should I do something? I shouldn’t do anything. Glanced over. Yup, he was smiling again.

Clearly, I was going to have to do something. I decided to up the stakes and jumped into the pool. Nothing is more awkward than swimming around in a pool by yourself attempting to look sexy while doing the doggie paddle. It was the middle of July in Vegas and I was getting hot, so I decided to dunk my head. Then I went for it—the Full Ariel.

This time I didn’t look back over at your dad because as soon as I launched myself out of the water and threw my hair back, I realized that 1. he would probably never, ever talk to me after that and 2. I was in too deep. Still, after swimming over to the fountain and attempting to hide my shame behind it, I realized there was no turning back. I chanced a look.

Still smiling. Still not coming to talk to me.

Phase three: I just swam over to him, pulled myself out of the pool, sat down beside him and said “hi.” Your Tio Eric’s sister was there, and she yelled out to your dad, “Buy her a drink, for God’s sake!” If I wasn’t embarrassed before, I surely was now. Thankfully, your dad didn’t seem to mind the fact that I circled him like a shark. We hit it off, chatting in the pool for so long that I got sunburned on only the left side of my body. We met for a burger before I had to go review a show, then we had a drink when I came back.

The next day, your dad left to go back to California. A couple days after that, I returned to New York. You would think, okay, you went on one date in Las Vegas, where nothing is normal. That should have been it! If you know anything about us, you know we are both pretty practical people, neither of us prone to impulsive behavior. But for some reason, we just kept going. We called. We talked. We discovered we missed each other. We fell in love with each other. We trekked across the country a few times to visit each other. And after only a few months, I moved out to California to be with him, leaving everything and everybody I knew behind.

A year after we met, we were engaged. A year after that, we got married. And then we had you, the best thing that has ever happened to either of us. Do you believe that if we hadn’t both gone to Vegas that week, hadn’t both stayed at the same hotel, hadn’t followed through after that smile, hadn’t called each other every day, hadn’t moved across the country and uprooted our lives—you wouldn’t be here?! Think about all the things that had to fall into place for you to become a person. And yet, you are here. And that just proves to me what I had a hunch about all along:

Meeting your father was magic.

happy couple on beach

Happy six-year anniversary, Alex :).

A Week of Anniversaries: A Wedding, a Miscarriage, and 9/11

This week is a tricky one for me. On the one hand, it marks the six-year anniversary of my wedding to Alex—one of the happiest moments of my life, next to the birth of my son and the 2004 Red Sox World Series win. (Not even kidding about that Red Sox business. No sports fan could ask for a more epic win.) I know Alex is not a fan of the gushing public declarations of love, so I will only say this: expect a totally gushy blog later in the week. Sorry not sorry.

weddingpic

On the other hand, it represents the one-year anniversary of my first miscarriage. I’m not sure what else I can say about it that I haven’t already said in this xoJane piece about speaking up after dealing with loss. As much as I have moved on, and as much as I am growing more and more fond of our tight little family unit of three, I’m always going to think about it every year at this time. Someone recently told me that grieving is a lifelong process. You never truly get over a loss, you just find a way to deal with it.

Which brings me to my third anniversary of the week: 9/11. No matter how many years pass and how much I feel I might have grown immune to the event, I always get sucked into the media sensationalism, and I always find myself frozen in a sadomasochistic cycle of reliving the trauma. I do it to myself, I can’t even lie.

I’m told by some that the healthy thing to do is to avoid thinking about it at all costs. Others find talking about it cathartic. Just as I felt that I needed to talk about miscarriage after my second pregnancy failed, I feel like I need to watch the footage, I need to reach out to my New York friends and remind them how much I love them. And I need to tell you all my story.

I wrote this on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’s every bit as true today as it was then.

******************

Every year around early September, I become an insufferable grump. I’m irritable, angry, and a bit oversensitive. While usually a social person, I withdraw into myself, preferring the company of wine or TV. Every year I wonder what the heck is going on—until the inevitable documentaries start running on National Geographic. And then it snaps into place.

Oh right, it’s 9/11. And I still can’t believe I was there.

Even just admitting that makes me feel ashamed. I shouldn’t be this affected by it, I tell myself. I survived. Everyone I knew survived. I wasn’t inside the building, like my cousin was. I wasn’t left homeless like many of my college friends were. I just watched it out my window. I was safe in the confines of my lower Manhattan dorm room, and I watched, helpless, as the towers burned and collapsed upon themselves. I viewed it all through this strangely detached lens…one eyeball on the TV, with frenzied journalists attempting the play-by-play, one eyeball out my 14th floor window.

Bits and pieces of the day stand out like the jagged remains of the WTC infrastructure, poking up from a smoldering pile of my memories. But I push them down because I feel unworthy of this level of horror. Like I’m not allowed to feel it. But it happened, regardless of the shame.

The strange part is I’ve told my story probably a hundred times, but if I’m to be completely honest, I can’t even recall if the details are the absolute truth or if they’re just what I’ve told myself is true. Entire chunks of time are missing, and in hearing other people’s stories, those who were with me at the time, I’ve attempted to fill in the blanks.

Why can’t I truly remember on my own? Maybe my brain is trying to protect itself. Whatever it’s attempting to do, it’s not working. Because as each year passes by, I only feel the fear and shame more pronounced. Because I can’t remember. Because I should have reacted with more strength of character. Because I wasn’t a hero, like so many New Yorkers were. Because I didn’t suffer enough.

A week before 9/11, my NYU roommates and I rejoiced in our luck. We had drawn the number one spot for our entire dorm, which meant we could pick any room we wanted. We zoomed up to the top floor and headed to a corner suite. When we opened the door, we smiled and said, “This is the one!” Our view was of the lower part of 3rd Avenue, punctuated by the two largest buildings in Manhattan.

People stopped in just to marvel at the smooth, rectangular behemoths. We toasted to what we thought would be an amazing senior year.

My first class was at 11am, so the plan was to sleep in. But, a little before 9am, I heard a scream and I ran out into our common room. Deep black smoke billowed out from the World Trade Centers. We didn’t know what had happened. Was it a fire in one building or was it two? Wait…there was a plane crash?!

How does a plane crash into a building in New York? One of my roommates had just gotten out of the shower. She had a towel twisted around her hair and she stood next to me watching. Neither of us moved for quite some time.

Despite the thick black smoke, my roommates still left to go to class. I think, at the time, we believed it was just a terrible accident. Did I see the second plane fly into the building? I always remember it that way, though a part of my brain also says no, both buildings were already in flames. All I know is, to this day, when planes fly low near my office (since we are right next to an airport, lucky me), I have intense body-seizing episodes of fear. The angles are too familiar. The sound is too…

The next thing I remember is scrambling. Scrambling to find my friends. Were they in class? Were they in their dorms? So many of my friends lived only a block or two away from the Twin Towers. A couple of them worked in or right next to them. Were they at the office that morning?

Many people started gathering in my room, the room with the view. Our phones were all out, but somehow word go out that girls from my dance team—my best friends—were making their way to us from downtown, attempting to convene at my place.

I remember one friend told us she was instructed to stay inside one of the buildings of the World Trade Center. She said she had a terrible feeling and ran past the guards who were trying to herd the crowds back into the lobby. She got on one of the last subways to leave the financial district and made her way up to us.

Security at the dorms was starting to tighten. They wouldn’t let anyone who wasn’t a resident into the complex. We begged and pleaded and eventually snuck in the girls who had no place to go.

Things started to calm down a bit. Some people went back to their rooms. One roommate came back from class and said that a bunch of people were just standing around in the streets looking up. We did the same, though our view was straight ahead. We just watched and waited.

Through all of this, I felt a strange calm, as though expecting to wake up from a dream. Panic didn’t set in, for some reason, until I heard the terrorists had flown a plane into the Pentagon. Then it was real. Then we were under attack. What building would come next?

As my anxiety built to a fever pitch, I noticed the slightest of shifts in the South Tower building and thought oh no, not possible but before the thought could even fully form, down came the building, pancaking upon itself and taking with it thousands of souls. At that point in time, I knew that my cousin was in the building. Many of our downtown friends had still not been located. Our friend Andy had called only minutes before to say he had been taking pictures. In a flash I thought: they’re all dead.

More time passed. Another building came down. I finally got through to my parents to let them know I was alright. I don’t remember what I said to them, or what they said to me. I have no idea what happened between the hours of 11am and 5pm.

I do know that in the early evening, we realized we had accounted for most of our friends. As each one came up into the room, tears came down our faces. The tears said, You are alive. I can stop mourning you now. But there were still a few more people we couldn’t find. As time wore on, we believed the likelihood of them being alive was pretty slim.

Then…a glimmer of hope.

Word came down (Where the hell did this word come from? With the WTC cell tower down, no one had service. And land lines were clogged.) that a make-shift shelter was being set up at our gym in SoHo for displaced downtown students. So out the door we flew. We ran the mile there in a blink, rushing against the exodus from downtown, breathing in the smoke and the ash, praying, praying that our friends Betsy and Andy were there. I wondered, too, about my ex-boyfriend, whom I last heard had to evacuate his dorm in his pajamas. He brought with him only his keys and his wallet.

We found them. We found them all. Covered in ash. Covered in blood (some not their own). Safe but shaken, severely shaken. My last memory of the day is running across the gym to hug my ex, who was volunteering to help distribute blankets and pillows to students. It may have been 6 or 7pm at that time.

What happened to the rest of the day? Couldn’t say. All I know is I somehow ended up back at my dorm, but this time, I refused to go back to my room with the view. I “slept” in a room with 15 other girls and guys in a huddle of blankets. Someone kicked the remote off the bed and it landed with a crack. We all woke up and cried. Young women and men in their early 20s—we cried when a TV remote hit the floor.

So that’s what I think about on the anniversary of 9/11. In the weeks and months that followed, I lived in a world of missing persons posters, tanks, the constant smell of fire, and a stubborn black dust that always covered my computer screen. If someone mentions 9/11 today, I’ll nod and listen to their story. Then, when they find out I was there, they lean in, expecting drama.

I have none to offer them, and I almost feel sorry. That’s when the shame takes over. I bore witness to a singular event in history, and not only do I feel sorry for, what, not being dead?—I can’t even properly remember it. Instead, I shoved it way down deep in my psyche so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. And now, every year, it rears its head up at me regardless.

It says, here’s a memory: Remember the time you saw people jump 100 stories to their death? Oh, you don’t remember that? Okay, well maybe you really didn’t see it. Maybe you only watched it on TV.

******************

I wrote that account so I could try to retain what memories I had. Re-reading it, I know I couldn’t have told it in such detail if I tried to write it today, only three years later. Our brains are incredible, mystical organs. Sometimes they shine in moments of brilliance. Other times they utterly fail you.

Every year, in this week of anniversaries, I will honor 9/11 by allowing myself to feel the complex emotions it and the other milestones represent. After all, anniversaries are not just about celebration. They are about weathering the storm. And I wouldn’t be who I am today without all three of them.

10 Reasons I Love My Kid

No, this is not a braggy “my kid is better than your kid” post. I just realized that I do a lot of complaining about the challenges of parenthood on this here blog, and it would be a nice change of pace to tell you all what makes Lucas such a dynamite little boy.

Mom and sonAdjusting to being a parent, even three-and-a-half years later, has been the transition of my life, but throughout those difficult times—the sleepless nights and the potty training and the whining and the refusing to listen—there have been moments when my son has just astounded me, just simply floored me. I never did the baby book thing—my memories of Lucas as a baby and toddler are encapsulated in random journals and photos. And I know it’s trite, but I wanted a space for those moments to have their moment on the Internet, too (even if it’s only for me to look back on one day and go, “Oh my God, Lucas, remember when you used to do that?” And for him to go, “MAAAAAAA. STOP!”)

I realize that this blog officially makes me an Overbearing Italian Mother™, but I’m here to tell you 10 reasons why I love my kid (in no particular order). And don’t you stop me, Smee, don’t you dare try to stop me.

1. His beautiful long lashes that close around his eyes like Venus fly traps.

2. His gravelly little laugh he’s had since he first started chuckling at the stupid things we do. (Apologies for the portrait-style filming. This was before I knew better.)

3. When he mixes up his sentence structure by saying things like “I want balloon red one” (I want the red balloon) or “I want something want” (I want something else).

4. His incredible compassion. Even at such a young age, if he sees a friend get hurt, he runs over to make sure he’s okay. And when my back is acting up, he comes over and in a soft voice says, “You got ow-y on your back, Mama? Awwww. It’s okay.” And I feel like I must be doing something right.

5. His complete obsession with the randomest of toys. Some kids like cars and trains. My child plays with fans and lights and rocks and marbles and plastic containers and yes, I said fans. Any kind will do: ceiling fan, portable fan, window fan…if it turns on and whirls, he’s set for days. Possibly years.

6. When he pops into the kitchen when I’m cooking and says, “What’re you doin’, Mama?” And when I tell him, he acts all excited (no matter what I say), and replies, “Oooooooooooh! That’s cool!”

7. The fact that he cheers for the Red Sox, even though they are TERRIBLE. Just awful.

Red Sox fan

8. When he sings along to 80s tunes and makes me get up and dance with him in the living room. Kid’s got moves. Also, pretty decent taste in music. (Except for Katy Perry. WHY, LUCAS, WHY?!)

9. He’s got this incredible natural athletic talent. Him and Alex kick the soccer ball back and forth, and he loves to play catch, and I swear to God, if my child ends up playing soccer or baseball in any capacity, I will be that crazy mom in the stands (Overbearing Italian Mother™!) no matter how hard I try to play it cool.

10. Shit, I’m already here at number 10. He gives me a reason to live and breathe every day, no matter what kind of day I’ve had, no matter what frustration or grief or pain I’ve experienced. It’s him. It was me for 30 years, but it’s been him for the last three-and-a-half, and for the rest of my life, it will always be him.

How Many Movies Did My Son Watch This Weekend?

Not counting the ones he watched more than once, there was:

Finding Nemo
My Neighbor Totoro
How to Train Your Dragon
Despicable Me
Kung Fu Panda
Iron Man and Hulk (some random cartoon on Netflix)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’d like to just go ahead and nominate myself for mother of the year. We did do a few things besides park ourselves in front of the TV, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that we didn’t have many plans this weekend besides chores around the house, so we let the movies fill in the blanks.

Two months ago, this special parenting technique would not have worked. Lucas never paid attention to the TV for more than 15 minutes. But all of a sudden he’s taking interest, and to be honest, it’s sort of magical to start showing him all our favorites. Especially when he makes a face like this:

happy face

A weekend full of movies normally wouldn’t bother me, especially now that my son will cuddle up and sit still for a bit. But it stands in stark contrast to so many other Facebook fancy Labor Day weekends: trips to Martha’s Vineyard, that one last beach day, camping in Big Sur, and cookouts in the backyard with your whole damn East Coast family. I can’t help but feel a little wistful for a weekend like this, instead of having spent two hours in the closet clearing out old baby clothes:

family cookout

My Italian family sent me this picture in an effort to make me feel included. Instead, I cried because I wanted a slice of Auntie Lisa’s pizza so bad.

Still, it’s not as though our weekend was a total wash. We had a great play date with Lucas’ best friend from school. We went for a couple walks around the neighborhood, played in the park a few times, and got Lucas a REAL big boy bed that seems completely enormous. It’s maybe possible we put it together wrong—yay for two completely useless handy folk in the house! Check it:

big boy bed

My mom loves to guilt me when we don’t do a lot of exciting things for Lucas on the weekends, but sometimes this is just the way things work out. We may not have the funds, our friends and family may be busy, or we may just have a bunch of stuff to do to keep our house clean and our backyard weeded, and our closets from overflowing with stuff we don’t need to hang onto any longer. Sometimes a weekend is just a weekend. We may not always have an amazing experience lined up for Lucas. But when we don’t, we’ve got the movies to make him smile, and bring a little magic right into our boring little lives.

Why Dirty Dancing is the Best Dance Movie Ever

Dirty-dancing 2This perfect movie starts out with the perfect soundtrack that perfectly meshes two seemingly disparate, but upon closer look, rather parallel generations. Something about the late 80s meeting the early 60s feels so right. Both were precursors to major cultural upheavals. Both featured peppy, upbeat music. But one’s fashion sense was waaaaay better than the other’s. And throughout this movie, 80s fashion sensibility can’t help but sneak its way in. Case in point: the film starts with a classic 1960s car driving down a winding rural road in upstate New York while credits roll in a hot pink pizzazz font.

“That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me Baby and it didn’t occur to me to mind.”

Baby: not conventionally attractive by Hollywood standards, but still beautiful in her own right. She has a slightly larger nose, unruly hair, and a somewhat homely fashion sense…she’s me. Awkward, gangly, fond of the chunky mom sweater. You wouldn’t see Jennifer Grey (as she was in 1987, pre-nose job) in a lead role in a movie today.

The owner of Kellerman’s gives a really sleazy speech to the staff about showing the female guests a good time, “even the dogs.” He tells the waitstaff to romance the girls, but warns the dancers “no funny business and keep your hands off!” I’m curious, why the distinction? Like, why is it cool for the waitstaff to fuck the girls, but the entertainment has to stay away? Is it because you put the waiters in white tuxes, but the dancers wear muscle tees? Are all the waiters going to Yale medical school? As a side note, I’d also like to resurrect “put your pickle on everybody’s plate” as a euphemism for being slutty.

Let’s all take a moment to reflect on how ridiculously hot Patrick Swayze is in this movie. The first five times I saw Dirty Dancing, I didn’t even notice the fantastic dancing or interesting plot. I just saw Patrick Swayze, my husband.

Patrick Swayze

Baby takes a walk with a tiny penis of a man. “Are you going to major in English?” he asks. This is a dick 1960s assumption about chicks in college by the dick grandson of the dick Kellerman’s owner. “No, economics of underdeveloped countries,” she answers. BAM, BITCH.

All of a sudden, a gorgeous blonde does a backbend to end all backbends and starts dancing the mambo with Johnny (Patrick Swayze). “Oh them? They’re here to keep the guests happy,” says dickface, rolling his eyes. You kidding? (Penny, the blonde, high kicks behind her head.) Penny and Johnny are insanely good dancers. People would pay good money to watch people this talented perform. These are not your background dancers who pump up the crowd at batmitvahs. (Penny throws her leg over Johnny’s shoulder and he drags her across the room in a split.) Later on, when I was 16 years old in the local theater production of Guys and Dolls, the choreographer made all of us dancers do this move in the Havana scene, and I cursed Dirty Dancing a little for making this a thing.

Baby walks into a sweaty den of dance-grinding and her world is turned upside down. I’m really curious: did people actually dance-fuck each other in the 1960s? I know all the dudes in the 90s/2000s tried to press their junk against me in the clubs, and even then it felt pretty ick. Maybe I’m just underestimating how sexually repressed people were in the early 60s, but I’m thinking if everyone flipped out over the Beatles daring to have bangs in 1964, then dry humping each other on the dance floor in 1963 might be a bit much.

Johnny and Penny are still dancing together, but they’re all “we’re just friends” even though they’ve got more sexual energy between them than anyone in the room. Also, they used to be a couple. But God help anyone who assumes they are still an item in this movie.

Baby then sees Johnny and says what any female coming face-to-face with that much hotness would say: “I carried a watermelon.” Yup. IN MY PANTS.

Baby and Johnny dance. She has no idea what she’s doing, but he’s patient and a good teacher and she starts to semi get the hang of it by the end and you can just tell that MAN he would be amazing in bed.

Cut to Baby and her sister trying on wigs. Baby walks up to Penny to give her a compliment on her beautiful dancing. Penny responds with an attitude-infused backstory about her mom kicking her out when she was 16 because no one asked. Then she rudely walks away. Oooooookay.

Sir Dickface McDickerson hounds Johnny about Penny’s whereabouts, because he obviously knows where she is every second of every day. Then, when Johnny says she’s taking a break, dick replies, “As long as it’s not an all-night break.” You mean, like sleeping? The entertainment staff is not allowed to sleep at Kellerman’s? Oh, and then he delivers an unbelievably patronizing speech to Baby and I keep wondering why she hasn’t punched him in his dickhole yet.

So Baby sees Penny curled up on the floor crying and after being treated like shit by her, she runs off and finds Penny’s friends to help. Baby is a way better person than me. I would have been “sucks to be you” and left it alone. Once Baby informs Johnny and his random cousin about Penny, instead of being all, “thanks, we’ll take it from here,” Johnny’s cousin just casually lets slip that Penny is knocked up. Guess who’s never telling Johnny’s cousin any of her secrets? This gal.

When Baby asks “what’s [Johnny] gonna do about it?” Johnny gets super defensive because she assumed, after seeing them dance together like a couple and knowing they used to be a couple, that it was possible they were sleeping together. Dude…take it easy. I think it’s a pretty natural conclusion to draw.

This next scene is what elevates Dirty Dancing from great dance movie to great movie, period. It was, and frankly still is, revolutionary. Penny is pregnant and instead of completely avoiding abortion as an option like they would in any movie in 2014, they discuss trying to find the funds to obtain an illegal abortion while Penny drinks a glass of whiskey. I’d just like to bring that point home once more. In 1987, nearly 30 years ago, we could include a scene like this in a major motion picture. We could have a woman chose to have an abortion, even an illegal one, and not have her wrack herself with guilt and regret and not have the world heap mountains of judgment on her. It was the move that was right for her. Period. And since Fox News wasn’t around then, no one flipped out about it. It was just part of the backstory.

Unfortunately, revolutionary act aside, Penny is still a raging bitch to Baby for no reason. She tells her to go back to her playpen when Baby tries to offer encouragement. At this point, I would TOTALLY have written this woman off and let her deal with her problems herself. But instead, Baby confronts Robbie, the rich baby daddy who won’t pony up the cash for the abortion. “You make me sick. Stay away from me, stay away from my sister, or I’ll have you fired.” Then she pours water on his crotch. This is the move she should have pulled on King Dickwad the Third.

Then, because Baby is trying to solve the problems of the world one abortion at a time, she asks her dad for the money (but won’t tell him why she needs it). This dude thinks his daughter is so great that he just hands over $250 (a very large sum in 1963) no questions asked. I promise you, as much as I will love and trust my son in the future, I will never hand over a huge chunk of money without knowing what it’s for. That’s just irresponsible parenting right there.

Now we come to the least believable storyline of the movie, which is unfortunately the entire impetus for, basically, the rest of the plot. Penny now has the money but can’t make the appointment for her abortion. I guess they can only do it on a Thursday, which is the night they do their act at the Sheldrick hotel, and if they cancel, they’d lose the entire season’s salary and next season’s gig. So, say someone came down with the flu…that’s it, you’re fired? Not just fired, but you lose the whole season’s salary and any future gigs? Not to say that it’s completely unbelievable, because I’ve read some horror stories about the ways in which hotel staff are horribly abused, but that seems a bit much, especially considering what awesome dancers they are.

So okay fine, they can’t cancel, but Johnny can still dance. Johnny and Penny run down this laundry list about how the other staff is working and they don’t have time to learn the routine, and this is where they get the brilliant idea to teach the girl who has zero dance experience the number. I’m just going to lay this plothole out there and let you do with it what you will: If the rest of the staff—who are trained dancers and could probably learn and practice this routine in far less time than someone with zero training and very little natural talent could—don’t have the time to learn the routine, HOW DOES JOHNNY HAVE THE TIME TO TEACH IT? That’s all I’m going to say.

Still, I’m not complaining, because watching Baby learn to dance and grow ever more confident in herself and her womanhood is the best part of this movie. I will take any excuse to watch Patrick Swayze dance, even if it’s from the knees down and I have to stare at terrible white Keds. And then this line happens:

“The steps aren’t enough. You have to feeeeeel the music. It’s a feeling, a heartbeat. Gah-gong. Gah-gong.” This scene still gives me butterflies.

Dirty Dancing sceneNext we have more gratuitous dance montages featuring more unfortunate 80s dancewear. Sorry Penny, your leotard is too high cut and your thick leopard print belt is a fashion era fail. Johnny doesn’t care. He makes Penny and Baby sexy dance together while he watches. Then we all get to witness Patrick Swayze shirtless and twisting, his pecs and abs and delts and spine and ribs all flexing and bulging and shifting, and he runs his hand down Baby’s side boob and the ladies of the 80s all do a collective shudder.

This whole time Baby is busting her tail, Johnny is giving her shit. Finally, she serves him up a little realness and tells him she’s doing all this to save his ass, and they go dance in the rain. But not before Johnny discovers he’s locked his keys in the car, so instead of calling Triple A (was there roadside assistance in the 60s?) or using a hanger to jimmy the lock or any other less destructive method to get the keys, he takes a tree stump and busts a hole in his car window (because he can afford to fix that no problem). Then Baby goes “you’re wild…you’re WILD!” And they go do a little barefoot soft-shoeing and ankle-rolling on a log.

Now it’s the night of the big performance and Baby’s hair and makeup make her look middle-aged (though the dress and heels are fabulous). I sort of love that they don’t nail the number. She screws up a couple times and doesn’t do the lift, but it’s not a total disaster. This is pretty realistic. Even as hard as they’ve been practicing, she’s never performed before and she is not a dancer, and she learned a fairly difficult routine in what, a week? Which begs the question: Why wouldn’t Johnny just change the choreography to make it easier? Why include moves she clearly couldn’t pull off (at least not just yet)? It’s not like the Sheldrick could fire him for taking out the lift.

We return to Kellerman’s to discover that Penny’s abortion has gone wrong. My 7-year-old self had no idea what was happening in these scenes, only that some doctor screwed up. Baby gets her dad, even though she knows she’ll be in deep trouble. Also, when Baby’s dad goes “who is responsible for this girl?” I sort of want to say, what do you mean by responsible? And when Johnny answers that he is, I sort of want to go, why would you say that? You flipped out on Baby for assuming you were the father, but then you tell the doctor  dad you’re the sleaze who got her pregnant and sent her to a quack? Or are you just saying you’re her caretaker in general? Confusing moment for me still, as an adult.

And then the first time Baby and Johnny Do It happens. This was THE sex scene of the 80s. Moms everywhere were fast-forwarding this part (even though we just watched a doctor treat a patient after a botched abortion), and when we finally sneak-watched it in the basement when mom was out, it made us feel adult feelings. Now I watch it and I’m like…we don’t see boob, we don’t see ass, we don’t see sex-like movements or hear sex-like grunting. It’s so very tame but still so very hot. Take note, Hollywood. Sometimes less is more.

There are so many good scenes in this movie…this blog is getting LONG. I haven’t even talked about the “Sylvia? Yes, Mickey!” scene where Dickliest Dickfart comes in to tell Johnny that this year he will dance the pachanga OR ELSE. Baby tells Johnny to fight the man, but right in the middle of her argument, she sees her dad walking by and makes Johnny duck and hide. Oh yes, girl. You’re a hypocrite.

After tapping some of that virgin ass some more, Johnny decides he’s all set with old vagina and turns down rich lady Vivian with the side banana clip hairdo (another 80s slip up). This will come back to bite him in his sweet, sweet ass. Even though rich side-pony lady goes and bangs Robbie later than night, she sees Baby exiting Johnny’s room and gets super jealous. As she balls up her nylons and puts them in her purse, she plots her revenge by casually accusing Johnny of stealing wallets from the guests.

Baby then has to awkwardly provide alibi for Johnny when he is falsely accused by Vivian by admitting she was sleeping with him in front of her dad. Dad is more angry about this than he was about his daughter taking $250 of his money so she could pay for another woman’s illegal abortion.

After all this goes down, Baby and her dad’s relationship is severely damaged. They have a heartbreaking talk (or rather, Baby talks while her father pretends to ignore her).

I’m sorry I lied to you. But you lied, too. You told me everyone was alike and deserved a fair break. But you meant everyone who was like you. You told me you wanted me to change the world, make it better. But you meant by becoming a lawyer or an economist and marrying someone from Harvard. I’m not proud of myself, but I’m in this family too, and you can’t keep giving me the silent treatment. There are a lot of things about me that aren’t what you thought, but if you love me, you have to love all the things about me. And I love you. And I’m sorry I let you down. I’m so sorry, Daddy. But you let me down, too.

Then you see the dad crumble.

After all the drama, they find out it’s the old couple the Schumachers who are guilty of stealing wallets. But Johnny gets fired anyway for banging a rich girl. Baby gets a taste of adulthood by losing a bit of her idealism. “You can’t win no matter what you do.” This lesson helps her hop off her white savior horse. But what’s beautiful about this movie is that it’s not just working class hero teaches rich girl about reality. It’s also smart, caring woman teaches a hardened dancer “from the streets” to have a little faith in humanity. No one is saving anyone. They are just helping each other grow up.

Final dance scene: Dad finally realizes what a douche Robbie is, Johnny gets redemption and…

NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER.

nobody puts baby in the corner

Baby just happens to be wearing the perfect footwear and dress for an impromptu dance number. And now she and Johnny execute the routine perfectly because it’s not just the steps, it’s the feeling! And then my favorite thing happens that musicals and dance movies are infamous for: random people get up and join in on the intricate choreography, stepping into perfect formation and nailing the movements in perfect synchronization. Nevermind that NO ONE AT KELLERMAN’S HAD TIME TO LEARN THIS ROUTINE, REMEMBER?!?! I don’t care, because Patrick Swayze does this incredible tuck jump off the stage, slides on his knees, throws his hair around a little, and grinds his hips before totally nailing the lift with Baby. Now all the problems at Kellerman’s are fixed! People can dirty dance in public! Douchebags get their comeuppance! Dads accept that their college-bound daughters are in love with guys making minimum wage! The entertainment staff is finally allowed to bang the guests!

But shhhhhh…because we have to have one more swoon-worthy moment with Patrick Swayze. As the music slows, he adorably mouths the words to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” and crinkles his nose as he emphasizes “I owe it all to you!” No, Patrick Swayze. It is us who owe it all to you.

Two Moms and a Coworker: Our Wild and Crazy Night

Ten years ago in New York City, my typical Saturday night might look a little something like this: 9pm dinner at some swanky establishment with a name like food. (no capitals, period at the end of the title), post-dinner drinks at a neo-lounge while a DJ spins trip-hop (still on vinyl), post-drinks drinks and dancing at a Cuban restaurant with an underground salsa club, followed by even more drinks at a sawdust-on-the-ground Irish pub where the bartender has a legit Irish accent. The whole evening is capped off by the best damn slice of pizza you’ve ever had at 4am.

Ten years later, my weekends are a little different. I’m pretty psyched when I don’t have to cook on Fridays and we go to Chipotle instead. There’s always at least one trip to Safeway. And our fun consists mostly of playdates, hanging out with family, and exposing our son to superhero movies he’s way too young to be watching.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my family life. But the contrast is STARK. So when I get a chance to let loose and hang out with friends sans child, there’s a part of me that yearns for that old city adventure. Unfortunately, the other part of me that’s firmly ensconced in my 30s pulls a Danny Glover and goes, “I’m too old for this shit.”

Still, there are many other ways to have fun other than being a perky 20-something-year old running around in a tiny tank top while banker types buy you free drinks. In fact, I’ll submit that the fun you have in your 30s is a deeper, genuine kind of fun—mostly because it’s so infrequent that you cherish it, but also because you find joy in the little things.

Exhibit A: this past Saturday night I had a spontaneous good time after movie plans with friends fell through. We started the night at 6pm and were home by 10:30pm with plenty of time left to do my new favorite thing in life—lay on my couch in my boner-killing sweatpants and binge-watch crappy TV on Netflix.

The plans were with two of my coworkers, one of whom is a fabulous, laid-back fellow mom and the other of whom is an adventurous ginger comfortable enough in his manhood to join two moms for a viewing of Step Up All In. Since two of us are parents, we made the plans two months in advance.

Will (ginger) and I carpooled up to Santa Cruz to meet up with Carrie (fellow mom) and blasted mediocre 90s rock the whole way up. We headbanged to Silverchair’s “Tomorrow” and rattled off Blues Traveler lyrics like machine-gun fire. When we were five minutes away from Carrie’s house, she texted us, “So apparently, none of the three theaters in Santa Cruz are playing Step Up anymore! I’m so pissed!”

Movie fail.

We briefly considered hanging out at Hot Topic and Spencer Gifts (in keeping with our 90s theme) but then remembered that Santa Cruz doesn’t suck like Salinas does, and there are actual things to do there on a Saturday night.

We started at this bar/lounge place for appetizers and beverages and Carrie and I made our British waiter tell us the specials five times. Food and drink were average; playlist was killer. It was as if this entire evening was an homage to my teenage years, only this time we hit on my classic rock phase, with Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors on heavy rotation.

Will ordered fries and the waiter brought over a meager handful of potato slices in a fancy dish. Waiter explained that the fry appetizer is typically just one potato, but he was going to bring over another order because he wasn’t sure Will was going to make it through the winter on a single tiny tater. Carrie’s tomato and cucumber salad was way more plate than salad, and my $6 deviled eggs were sad and dry. My martini was too much vermouth and not enough olive juice, and Will’s beer was way more fruity than tart. In my New York days, I would have turned up my nose and let it sour my evening. Now? The amount of shits I gave were inversely proportional to the amount of shits I cleaned out of my son’s diaper for the first year of his life.

After finishing up drinks and appetizers by 7pm in the evening, what were three approaching middle-age friends supposed to do? Walk into a sex shop, that’s what.

I’ve talked before about how deeply uncomfortable I am discussing sex with family and/or coworkers, although there are a few exceptions. Turns out, these two are the exceptions. As we headed to the back of the store (where we all know they keep the good stuff), Will and I bopped around turning on and off various super high-tech vibrators, banging on the devices like Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller in Zoolander all “the files are IN the computer?!” We then stumbled onto the book How to Live With a Huge Penis, which I offered to purchase for Will if he felt too embarrassed to admit it, and a selection of condoms in clear plastic toy capsules that looked like poo.

However, there’s only so long you can spend in a sex shop with your coworkers before shit gets awkward. It was time to move on.leather jacket

Next we walked into a little boutique where I tried on a leather jacket so sexy it made me cry. Look at it. Just look at it. It’s $480. I’m thinking about starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund my “I need this jacket” project. If that dude can earn $55,000 for potato salad, anything is possible.

This whole time, Carrie had been JONESING for some candy. So into the shoppe we went, where she found this popple-wannabe Giants toy and snuggled it so adorably I just had to take a picture. Also, she demanded that I take a picture. “Take my picture!” she pointed her finger at my phone. Then she resumed her adorable snuggle pose. As we walk out of the store, Carrie said, “I’m obsessed with that Giants ball!” and Will and I degenerated into snickers because it could so easily have been, “I’m obsessed with these giant balls!” I’m telling you, guys, your 30s: pure joy.

Giants ballAt the second candy shoppe of the night, we found a whoopee cushion and concocted an evil plan to place it on the chair of an unsuspecting coworker at the beginning of a team meeting. I refuse to say who, so anyone at Evan-Moor: watch your asses.

We ended the evening at an Irish pub where I ordered a White Russian and the bartender was impressed. He immediately referenced The Big Lebowski and told me I could take any rug in the place.

Me: As long as it’s not one that really ties the room together, amirite?

Bartender: HA! Now all you need is a robe.

Me, glancing down at my totally-appropriate-for-a-night-on-the-town mom sweater: Well, this seems robe-ish enough.

Bartender: Agree.

Will, Carrie, and I then watched a YouTube video of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon theme song and argued over why we won’t go see the new movie. (Carrie saw it and liked it…told us Raphael is the leader…Will, the bartender, and I reeled back in horror. EVERYONE KNOWS LEONARDO IS THE LEADER.)

At 9:30pm, one person in our group yawned and that was it. The yawn contagion began, and we agreed it was time to head out. Will offered to pay for the whole tab and the bartender closed him out, only charging him for two drinks. We’re not sure if he meant to do that, or if he thought Will was only paying for himself. I’d like to think it’s because the dude abides.

So three coworkers spent their Saturday night eating and drinking overpriced, mediocre appetizers and drinks, listening to mediocre 90s music, browsing toys in sex and candy shops (but not buying them), coveting amazing leather jackets in local boutiques (but not buying them), and watching YouTube videos at an Irish bar.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you have a wicked good time when you’re in your 30s.

Taylor Swift’s New Video Reminds Me Why I Hate Her

Through no real fault of her own, Taylor Swift has always been one of those people who I have hated HARD. This is not, I realize, a healthy sentiment for an adult human being to have for another less-than-adult human being. Lord knows she’s accomplished way more than I have in my life, so she can Hater’s Gonna Hate at me all day, and I can only Kanye shrug back. I acknowledge that I myself am a pretty shitty person for having such venom for a person because why…she seems obnoxious? All these people claim she’s got such crazy talent and I just don’t see it? That doesn’t really justify HATING someone, but I do. I’m sorry.

Taylor Swift Jimmy Fallon ewStill, in recent months my icy Taylor Swift hate had begun to thaw. She did a pretty funny EW skit with Jimmy Fallon. She does cross-stitching. She’s pals with Ed Sheeran, who’s one of my favorite favorite Brits right now, right behind Sam Smith. She took an awesome girls-only vacation to Big Sur and posted tons of pictures of them dancing around in the trees like wood nymphs. I started to wonder if my Taylor Swift hate was a bit misplaced. (Though, trust me, I still very much dislike all of her music. There is not a single thing I like about any one of her songs. They are all terrible.)

But then she had to go and release this video and remind me why, oh yeah, I really can’t stand this girl.

First of all, kudos to Swift for using real professional dancers in her video. Also props for representing several different styles of dance, from ballet to hip hop to contemporary. (Though she’s got this super outdated Martha Graham version of what modern dance looks like, but okay, we’ll take it.) The thing is, I’m not sure I understand her point in using the dancers.

The prevailing lyric of “Shake It Off” is “the players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Okay. First of all, I can see why people call her a brilliant songwriter. Second of all, who are the dancers supposed to be? The haters?The popular people? Taylor Swift dresses herself up in dance attire and awkwardly attempts each of the styles. It (purposefully) does not go well. In doing so, she is essentially parodying the real dancers. Her tired “I’m awkward, like you!” schtick falls flat here because, by and large, dancers are a fairly misunderstood group while she, a pop star, is mostly revered.

Take, for example, the twerkers, who white pop stars just LOVE to use as props. At least Swift elevated twerking as a legitimate style by including it alongside the other dance genres. But then she had to go and crawl underneath the twerkers and gawk at their gyrating asses while wearing “ghetto gold.” Considering what’s going on in Ferguson right now, this seems more than a little insensitive.

Swift ends her video by bopping around with all her other awkwardly white (except for one token black!) friends like they’re at a pre-teen sleepover. Is this supposed to be Taylor Swift, the pop star, showing us how much she relates to us, the outsider plebs? Is this her “take down” of the professional dancers/haters?

And this is where I realized what really grinds my gears about Taylor Swift. For her entire career she’s been going, “Oh, I’m an outsider! I’m so misunderstood!”, but I’m not buying it. She was commercially successful at an age when most people were crying in the bathroom stall because their classmate pointed out their hideous zit was oozing in class. What makes you so unaccepted, Taylor? You’ve been one of the top-selling pop artists since you were 17 years old! Yes, you get a lot of hate thrown your way, and that has to be tough to take—especially as a young person. But don’t package it up as “I’m the awkward girl in the bleachers no one likes.” NOPE! You are not that girl. You are totally the fucking cheerleader who the boys all drool over.

And here’s another thing—it does not make you charming or endearing to don a tutu and pointe shoes, or (and God, the racial tone-deafness here is just frightening) hold a boom box and wear a trucker hat to show us that you can’t do what professional dancers train hard to do for decades. That just makes you NOT A PROFESSIONAL DANCER. And I’m all for having an awkward dance-off—me and my best friend practice giant pas de bourrees and jazz runs across our living rooms on the regular. But the context here is not just having a little fun—it’s showing us that it’s “cool” to be awkward by shitting on the people who are not.

Before people get all snippy at me (because this happened before with Free People Gate, and everyone was like…seriously, there are waaaaaay more important things to be mad about in the world), I am not really angry at this video. At the end of the day, it’s a piece of fluff and I’m SURE Swift didn’t think something this bubblegum would piss anyone off. But it’s annoying as shit, and it’s adding fuel to my already hotly-burning hatred for Taylor Swift.

Let me just end this by saying that I don’t think it’s very nice to say that you hate a person you’ve never met. I imagine being Taylor Swift and having monkeys like me flinging poo at her all day long, and it can’t be fun. I bet Taylor Swift the person is completely lovely. But Taylor Swift the pop star entity is grating on a level that leaves me seething. Her fake modesty act is such bullshit. “Oh my gosh, I won another award?! I can’t even believe it!” [insert Taylor Swift surprise face] Yes, yes you can, Taylor Swift. You won 16 other awards this year, and this is your fourth of the night.

How about you knock off the fake modesty, cut it out with the pretend-awkwardness, stop posturing that you are so misunderstood and just sing? The more you call attention to the haters, the more we’re going to just keep on hating. You be you, Taylor Swift. Stop feeding the trolls.