Jinx, You Owe Me A Concert

I’ve never attended a concert. I mean, not a real one, anyway. I’ve been to live shows that were standing room only, but that was mostly because they were being held in a venue so small that one could fit three in Kim Kardashian’s closet. As far as jumping around in a mosh pit while a recognizable band plays its songs from the radio, I have only my friends’ fuzzy Instagram videos and Snapchat stories to cite as experience.

It’s not like I’m not trying. I’ve bought tickets for a number of shows, but something always happens to thwart my being there or everyone’s being there. I’ve had a string of bad luck, and I’m beginning to think that the bad luck might be me, considering I am the common denominator, and that, right when I purchase a ticket, the band’s bassist usually gets a blood clot in his brain that forces the cancellation of the tour or something. And that’s not just an outlandish example I pulled out of my imagination–it actually happened. Here’s a list of my almost concert experiences:

Disclaimer for concert enthusiasts: I know that most (probably all) of these bands play at concerts with names other than their band names, but I don’t pay attention to that stuff, so I’ll just identify the concerts by the band I remember best that played there.

 

Fun:  My dad and I were going to go see Fun in Kansas City somewhere, but then my friend did a random drawing for whom she would take on her family vacation with her, and my name got pulled out of the hat. Going to the Outer Banks with one of my best friends trumped whatever fun I would have had watching Fun, I’m sure. My dad ended up going with my uncle and some of my uncle’s friends, so he wasn’t lonely.  Partway into the main event, it began pouring. The concertgoers in the outdoor venue scrambled for cover. My uncle and his friends took refuge in a string of port-a-potties. My dad did not. He saw a white tent in the distance and ran toward it like a moth to the light. When he arrived, he noticed a table, laden plates of barbeque, with several guys sitting around it. He did not notice that these several guys were the band members of Fun. He had a 15 minute conversation with the lead singer, Nate Ruess, before he put the pieces together. That has nothing to do with this post, but I like to mention that my dad had a one-on-one conversation with Nate Ruess whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

Imagine Dragons: I was deadset on attending this concert, but up until two weeks before, I didn’t realize that the date of the concert coincided with a day I would be in a different state on the other side of the country. Missing that one wasn’t as much bad luck as just poor planning on my end. Even though I wasn’t there physically, I still saw most of the concert on Snapchat from the comfort of a hotel room. And, for the record, my hotel room was much cooler temperature-wise than Starlight Theatre.

 

Mumford and Sons: Mumford and Sons’ music was my jam for the longest time. If one were to ask me in June 2013 what band I wished to see at my first concert, Mumford and Sons would be the instant, borderline-shouting response. Unfortunately, a few weeks before the concert, doctors found a blood clot in the bassist’s brain that required immediate attention and the subsequent cancellation of the tour.

 

The Jonas Brothers: The Jonas Brothers were going to have a reunion tour last year, and they were going to be in Kansas City on Halloween night. My friends and I decided that this would be the best option for me as far as first concerts go because most of them had attended their first concert when the band had been touring the first time around, so I would have the opportunity to relive the childhood I almost had with those who actually had it. We had Disney-themed costumes coordinated, tickets purchased and expectations set sky-high. Then, due to a “deep rift within the band,” the brothers canceled the tour and (thankfully) refunded our money. But they could not refund our crushed dreams and deflated spirits.

 

Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend is my band. Usually, when I decide I like a band, I listen to its albums on repeat for a couple weeks and then move on. I’ve been listening to Vampire Weekend on repeat since January. My good friends had an extra ticket, which they were willing to sell me at the original price, even though the concert was about two weeks away. Since it was too late for me to put in a formal request off work, I waited until Thursday afternoon to see if my work schedule would ruin everything. For the first time, I was scheduled to work until midnight. On the day of the concert. I went in and talked to my supervisor. I said the reason I needed off was “very important,” but I didn’t let on that I just really wanted to go to a concert. My supervisor straight-up told me that “no one is going to take your shift.” But I did not give up hope. I left a note by the time clock with my contact info, Facebook messaged some friendly coworkers, spent some time in prayer–the whole nine yards. My friends even started a Twitter campaign.

 

But, despite our best efforts, I ended up spending the night standing in a nearly empty grocery store, watching people walk past my line to the self-checkout to pay for their late night donut runs. On the bright side, I not only saved $50 bucks, but also made about that much more.

Ed Sheeran: I wanted to experience for myself the angelic voice that silenced a sold-out Madison Square Gardens. But, on the day tickets went on sale, my friend faced a small delimma. Tickets could only be purchased in groups of four, and my group had six. I honestly could say that I wouldn’t know what I was missing out on, so I conceded my spot, out of the goodness of my heart. Also, maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of spending my hard-earned cash on anything besides food, but I was already slightly reluctant to part with the $70 needed to secure my spot. So, there’s that, too.

 

 

 

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Uninspired

Charles Schulz once said, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

And that’s cute. And so are all the other little inspirational quotes people vomit onto my Facebook feed and my Twitter timeline. But I strongly dislike it. I strongly dislike all of them.

If one Googles “blog ideas,” one is led to various websites outlining the different forms and shapes in which blog posts can come: lists, reviews, personal essays, etc. A key bullet point in nearly all of these ideas is to make sure that one does not rant. “No one is interested in reading about a person’s personal vendettas,” the websites say. “Make sure everyone leaves your site laughing or smiling or feeling emotion,” say the websites. “Use your blog as an opportunity to voice your opinions and feelings, as long as those opinions and feelings are not obnoxious or angry,” the websites remind. For 41 other blog entries, I have adhered to the protocol of the all-knowing blog websites. Today, I will rebel against these well-meaning online resources. Today, I will rant.

Inspirational quoters would probably have what they perceive to be calming words of encouragement ready to post on my Facebook wall if they knew I was writing an abusive post about their favorite mind-numbing baloney circulating the inter-web. And yet, I proceed.

Here are the reasons (rant-y they may be) that inspirational quotes lead my mouse to the “unfollow” and “unfriend” buttons quicker than any posts about home-cooked meals ever have:

Context: Writing can inspire. I have read novels that have brought me to tears, essays that have motivated me to alter the way I perceive life itself. But these moments most often happen when I’m curled up in my pjs, sipping hot chocolate and focusing on the words on the pages in my hand. I’m not moved by little motivators that my thumb scrolls by on my iPhone when I have a few minutes of downtime before class or work. Taking one superior sentence from an essay and pasting it in front of a stock photo of a sunset does not inspire me without context.

Stupidity: Some (not all) of the supposedly inspirational quotes I’ve seen fail because they unintentionally decrease the intelligence quotient of their readers. A poster captioned with “Just hang in there,” accompanied by a kitten hanging from a tree doesn’t make me feel better prepared to tackle the obstacles of my day. It just makes me feel bad for the kitten. I don’t want an adorable baby animal to be forced to pose in different pathetic positions on the off-chance that its image will make a person feel better about his quote-fueled existence. And yet, it happens.

Underlying Assumption: Inspirational quotes are spewed across the internet with the underlying assumption that their words apply to everyone. That everyone can relate to the deep, meaningful nonsense Ghandi may or may not have said. The creators of the inspirational quote photos just come up with a sentence detailing a bit of common sense, then slap a famous person’s name on the end, hoping no one will fact check and everyone will repost.

To be fair, I suppose that if the goal of inspirational quotes is to invoke emotion, they have succeeded. I feel a strong emotion: irritation. But, I think as humans, we can do better than this. Call me naive, but I like to believe that we don’t need a cheesy poster or a cliche to achieve our goals or to find our place in life. Inspiration isn’t an app.

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My Biggest Fan

Pink and silver streamers on my Barbie bicycle handles flow in the wind as I peddle hard on the uneven pavement, trying to see how long I can keep the slightly elevated training wheels from touching the concrete below. Behind me, my dad maintains a light jog, and we keep on that way until we reach our special place: The Dream Meadow.photo 1

The day I was born, my mother was supposed to be taking finals for law school. That’s a little difficult to do when you’re in labor. She missed two exams while having me, and her study group met later that day at the hospital. Somehow she made it through that semester and the next several, passing the bar exam and receiving a well-deserved degree. To say I’m impressed is an understatement–law school is hard enough without a baby.

Also the day I was born, my father was an anxious mess. He went down to the cafeteria at the hospital to get some juice, and when he came back, I was just beginning to come out into the world. He was caught off-guard, so he did what any young new father would do upon walking in on his wife giving birth–he fainted. My mother’s and the doctors’ attention shifted from the task at hand to the unconscious guy on the chair in the corner of the room. My parents’ differing reactions to my new existence still pretty well summarize our respective relationships.

Because my mother juggled classes and me during the day, my dad got to deal with me before and after work and on the weekends while my mom studied. He was a 22 year old X-Ray Technician, also taking a few classes. As a new father, he had no idea what he was doing. But that didn’t stop him from trying.

On Saturday mornings, my dad would painstakingly gather as much of my towheaded wisps into a hair-tie on the top of my head. After helping me into a bright pink outfit of some sort (in my later toddler years, this would be replaced by blue denim overalls), he would take me out. Money was tight, and he was creative. The pet store became my zoo, public parks my swing set. And after a long walk in the evenings, my dad would read to me. And read to me. And read to me. We went to the library almost daily because I memorized the books quickly. Usually on the third go-around, my dad would just turn the pages as I recited its contents. That’s where the Dream Meadow comes into play.

I was about three when, in the continual desperate search for more books with which to lull me to sleep, my father purchased a $1 box of quality children’s literature from a garage sale. One of the books in the box was about an old guy and his dog. I think both of them ended up dying. There was a meadow involved (not in their deaths–just in the story). Since an overgrown field was located near our house, I named it after the meadow in the book. My dad and I used to go to our Dream Meadow and throw rocks at a fence. Fond memories.

I can't find a decent photo of just my dad and me from the last five years. Mostly because the two yahoos next to me in this family photo keep interrupting.

I can’t find a decent photo of just my dad and me from the last five years. Mostly because the two yahoos next to me in this family photo keep interrupting.

After we could read no more books, I would sit on my father’s lap and watch baseball. The man loves his Kansas City Royals. He secretly ensured that my first name would start with “K” and my middle with “C” so I could go by K.C. Haas if I ever felt the desire. (I actually went by K.C. briefly during the summer after fifth grade, but people always thought it was spelled “Caysi,” which got old pretty quick.) It was during one of our late night baseball marathons that my dad had what he still will refer to as his crowning moment as a parent.  I was two-years-old, snuggled up against him, watching the Royals lose to (insert MLB team here). He told me it was time to go to bed. I said, “One more inning, Daddy.” My dad let me watch the next inning, and when he tells that story, his chest swells with pride that his two-year-old daughter not only knew what baseball innings were, but also requested to watch another.

Seventeen years and two more children later, my dad has come a long way from the nervous fainting 22-year-old who thought of his favorite baseball team while naming his newborn. He is much more mature and sophisticated now. Among other things, I credit him for my love of Monty Python, fart jokes and Dumb and Dumber. He’s the man behind much of who I am, from my love of reading to my sense of humor.

My Life as an (Almost) Athlete

I started my life as an (almost) athlete dancing. And crying. One stemming out of the other, a chain reaction caused by hating the awkward reflection in the mirror, tapping shiny shoes asynchronously to a Nickelodeon TV show theme song montage. My mom always wanted a girly-girl. She got me instead. She got over it.

The last time my parents made me tap dance.

The last time my parents made me tap dance.

After dance, I gave basketball the old pre-K try. My parents were less than enthused as they watched the money they invested in the Parks and Rec program waste away with every cartwheel I turned on the court during practice and games. I got in trouble a couple times for trash-talking the other team. I was compensating for a lack of skill–I’ll admit that now.

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Ball is life

Searching for a sport with a potential to improve my hand-eye coordination, my parents signed me up for tennis. I missed numerous practices because the supposedly sports proof sunscreen burned my eyes. Around the same time, I got a beta fish. I named it after my tennis instructor. After the fish died, I got another one and named it after her, too. Crappy sunscreen and two fish named Nikki are all that I remember from that time in my life.

Before the sunscreen

Before the sunscreen

Then there was swimming. At first, we were hopeful. I aced levels 1 and 2 with flying colors. I got 9/10 of the way through level 3 with no problems whatsoever. I could do the backstroke. I could sort of do the crawl. My butterfly was coming along nicely. But then, diving happened. To pass level 3, I would have to get down on one knee, as if proposing to the banners that hung high above the glassy water, and, with arms outstretched, catapult face-first into the freezing deep end. I wasn’t afraid during my first attempt. I sent up a prayer to Poseidon (as felt appropriate) and secured my goggles, not knowing that the next few moments would ruin water for me forever.

As my toes pressed off the edge, my arms led the rest of myself down, deep into the water. Then, they kept leading me in an underwater circle, peeling off right before they crashed back into the concrete side of the pool. My head did that instead. I failed level 3 three times because of that traumatic moment. I still can’t dive, and I’m not interested in trying again.

After I outgrew all of my swimming classmates by at least six inches and two grade levels, I threw my swimsuit in a dark corner of my closet and laced up some soccer cleats. After a few games, I figured out something fantastic: goalies don’t have to run. Upon having this realization, I became a full-time goalie, much to my parents’ dismay. For some reason, they were not fans of sitting in the 103 degree summer sun to watch their daughter stand motionless on the far end of a soccer field clad in gloves and a yellow penny for two hours every Saturday. My soccer career ended soon after.

Next, after a short stint as a competitive cheerleader, I took some time off. Kim Possible was on Disney Channel everyday from 3:30-4 p.m., and sports practices really cut into that special time. Eventually, however, I decided to turn off my TV and embark on another athletic endeavor. My lack of coordination and strength somehow made gymnastics a prime candidate.

The girl in this picture with me is now a cheer captain at our high school.

The girl in this picture with me is now a cheer captain at our high school.

“Well, you outwork everybody. That’s good.”

“Work ethic is more important than results sometimes, right?”

“Hard work beats talent when talent hardly works, I think.”

Despite the encouragement, I knew pretty quickly that gymnastics was not my calling. I got to Level 4, which is the level right before back flips and balance beam cartwheels. When the team would split up to work on events, the girl with Down’s Syndrome and I would go to one part of the gym, and the rest of the group would go elsewhere. A fractured shoulder from a tragic dive roll accident gave me a gracious out, and I decided to try basketball again and leave the coach-assisted back-handsprings behind.

I really did try

I really did try

My second attempt at basketball was about as successful as my first, initially. I started playing year round at the beginning of fourth grade, and I didn’t win a game until second semester of sixth. I would say I learned what it meant to be a good sport,  but really, I just learned to completely ignore the scoreboard at all times to avoid the possibility of crying in public.

In sixth grade, I also tried volleyball, track and cheerleading (again). Two of the three were humbling experiences. I annoyed the older cheerleaders at practice by using it as a daily hour-and-a-half basketball shoot around. As a result, my during game cheering was incredibly sub par. In track, I was a distance runner/shot putter. Not because I was good at either of those things. I just wasn’t good at anything else.

Shot put was an enjoyable, if not embarrassing.

Shot put was an enjoyable, if not embarrassing experience.

I continued to play basketball until tryouts of my junior year of high school. I still remember, with painful clarity, scrolling through the online posting of the Junior Varsity team roster the night after the last day of tryouts. I checked and rechecked the list, searching for the name that wasn’t there. Its absence ended my attempt at athleticism.

I wish writing were a sport.

 

The Free Press at the most recent KSPA competition. Proof that writing is (almost) a sport.

The Free Press at the most recent KSPA competition. Proof that writing is (almost) a sport.

 

 

 

 

 

7 Reasons Social Media Sucks Sometimes

In 2002, when I was six years old, computers were bulky, ugly machines specifically designed for me to play my Barbie Pet Rescue CD-Rom and give my parents some peace and quiet for 45 minutes (15 minutes longer than I was supposedly allowed). In 2003, while high schoolers checked out the new MySpace, I ventured onto websites like Disney.com to play Kim Possible-themed arcade games. Fast forward to the end of sixth grade, and I remember slightly altering my birth year in order to obtain a hip new Facebook. Fast forward again to the summer after eighth grade, and I entered the Twittersphere so I would have something to do during my downtime while selling shaved ice. I am part of a generation that hardly remembers life before social media.

Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, SnapChat–I have them all, and most of the time, I’m glad I do. Social media can be informative and hilarious and great for shameless self-promotion (e.g. this blog).  But social media also sucks sometimes, and here’s why:

1. Selfies: Instagram’s #SelfieSunday isn’t innately bad. One or two pictures of oneself every couple of weeks does not mean one has Selfitis–that happens when that number exceeds four or five a day. I don’t know why people think they live in a world where others want to see twenty nearly identical photos of someone’s face taken in a public restroom.

2. Creepers: I’m all for maintaining a respectable follower-following ratio, but I’ve felt the need to block quite a few creepers on all of my social media accounts (except for my Tumblr because I’ve accepted that everyone on that platform is a little creepy from the get-go). The unfortunate aspect of blocking someone is that it doesn’t really protect one from the creeper viewing the profile from a different account or by way of a proxy. Anything posted on the web is public, regardless of private settings.  If someone really wants to read your statuses, watch your vines or peruse your Instagram photos, having a private profile isn’t definitely going to prevent him from doing so, which is sort of a bummer.

3. Obligatory Follow/Friend: “Hey, why don’t you follow me on Twitter?” People have straight up asked me this, usually in a public setting, surrounded by mutual friends. In such a situation, I can’t just explain that I don’t want to read about them having the worst job ever or the best mommy in the whole wide world or three yummy meals a day. Instead, I must force a laugh, smile and say, “Oh, golly! I don’t follow you? What! I swear I did. Crazy.” Then, in front of god and everybody, I must slowly tap the “Follow” button on the person’s profile. Twitter and Facebook both have a form of a mute button that keeps certain people’s tweets or status updates off one’s feed, which leads me to believe I’m not the only one dealing with this issue.

4. TMI: I shouldn’t know every intimate detail of someone’s life simply because he friended me on Facebook or I glanced at his Twitter.  Before I post something, I ask myself, “Will anyone care/Is this important enough to share with the world?” Usually the answer is no. Does that mean I always don’t post the status/tweet/photo/video in question? No, not necessarily, but discretion is cool, and more people should try using it.

5. Fights: Not sure why people feel the need to hash it out where everyone can see. With Facebook Messenger, Twitter’s Direct Messaging, texting and good old-fashioned email, there is absolutely no need to get into it in the comments or mentions, but people do anyway.

6. The “Send All Drafts” Button on Twitter: Why. Why does this exist? I can’t think of anyone who would want to send out 20+ unfinished thoughts to the universe all at once.

7. Trolling: The illusion of anonymity on sites like Whisper and Ask.fm, as well as on more mainstream social medias opens the door for people to say all sorts of things they wouldn’t even mutter under their breath face-to-face. And, the biggest issue with the bathroom wall of the internet is that it isn’t easily painted over.