Battle of the Bands: Little Brother vs. One Direction

This morning was a good morning. Hal returned to the land of the living – he had been ill and was asleep when I got home last night and never stirred from the couch all evening – despite all the bustle of activity around him. At one point, he heard my voice and reached for a hug but was back asleep in no time. He slept all night too. But this morning, he bounded in, full of energy. We told him to take a shower and eat some breakfast.

It was a good morning for Jane too. Today was the release day for the new One Direction album that she had pre-ordered months ago. She had the music on her iPhone and was trying to devour all the songs as she prepared for school.

And that’s where the collision occurred.

The happy, energetic, feeling-better seven-year-old was singing heartily in the shower. The happy, excited teenager was trying to listen to her new music while applying make-up and fixing her hair in the same bathroom.

“Hal! Can you please stop singing?”

{More singing of nonsense words.}

“Hal! Please! I’m trying to listen to my new music!”

{Singing continues.}

“HAL! I asked nicely!”

I called to Jane. She called back in an irritated voice.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“I’m trying to listen to my new music but Hal keeps singing.”

“Singing in the shower,” I said, “is an intrinsic right. You can’t deny someone their right to sing in the shower.”

“Well! I didn’t want to turn the music up loud and bother people!”

“But you can’t tell him not to sing in the shower. It’s a primal need. You’ll have to go get ready in your room or wait to listen to your music or just put up with him.”

She groaned.

“Jane?” I called out.

She’d had enough. In her most tortured, irritated teenagery voice, she yelled back, “ARE YOU STILL TALKING TO ME?!”

“Yes. I just wanted to tell you that I’m glad the One Direction album came in. I’m glad you are getting to enjoy it. I’m happy for you.”

“Oh. Thank you.”

“You handled that well,” my husband whispered.

“It’s what I really planned to say all along. Really.”

But I will hold the “ARE YOU STILL TALKING TO ME?!” line in my head all day. As my mother-in-law loves to say on Facebook, it was my first laugh of the day.

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Obsessive Fandom

I think Jane’s 1D experience deserves a bit more attention than I gave it in my nutshell post last week. {For you less experienced and less knowledgeable types, 1D is short for One Direction.}

There are two reasons for this. The first is that there’s a level of humor in what happened that was glossed over in last week’s post. The second is that there’s a lesson for all of us in it, I think. So let’s get to it.

I learned the earth-shattering-if-you-are-of-a-certain-age-and-female news via a quick glance at Google News around 1:00 last Wednesday afternoon. Having recently been the person to break the news to her  of his departure from their tour, I wanted a similar position of honor this time around.

I took out my phone and shot her a quick text.

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And then I immediately put my phone away. So I missed her desperate attempts to interact with me on the subject:

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As you can see, I wasn’t the first person. No, that honor goes to some girl at school. From what I’ve been able to tell, Jane’s practically the only One Directioner in her school so there wasn’t a loud wailing and gnashing of teeth as has been reported from other locations.

Jane confidently corrected the girl that he was only taking a break from the tour. The friend insisted he had quit the band. Jane checked Twitter. Jane excused herself to the bathroom. Jane cried. Jane texted her Daddy:

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He responded (to her surprise) that he was on his way, no questions asked. It was sometime in here that I sent my text. My husband, not prone to just pick the kids up willy-nilly from school did so without question this time for two reasons. First, she hadn’t been feeling well that morning. Second, he trusted her good judgment to not request removal from school unless it was important.

She waited in silence as he signed her out. He could tell she was very upset about something. And then they left the building. As they walked down the steps toward the road, he asked, “So. What’s going on?”

She took a deep breath and then croaked, “Zain* left. He left One Direction.”

He stopped walking. He stepped away from her to get a clearer look. “Are you being serious right now?”

And, no, he wasn’t expressing shock that Zain had made that decision. All parents everywhere should be laughing at this scene. Of this father so blindsided by his irrational teenaged daughter. She burst into tears and just nodded.

“Please, Daddy, please… can we just go? Please don’t make me go back in there. Can we please just go home?”

“I hope you know this is never gonna happen again.”

“I know, Daddy.”

And with that, they left. She didn’t get the previously promised after-school treat though.

Before you judge, do me a favor and go to YouTube. Pull up a video of some teenaged girls getting to see The Beatles for the first time. For One Directioners, it’s that. You may not think 1D measures up to The Beatles, but I can assure you that their fan base is every bit as intense.

Which brings me to the lesson. Jane took comfort in Tweets about not judging other people’s emotional reactions to events that affect the things they love. And one of them had a good comparison.

Think about the reaction from adult men when a favorite player leaves a favorite team. Think about how the entire city of Cleveland reacted when Lebron James went to the Miami Heat.

Do they go running to the bathroom and cry? Do they beg their bosses to let them go home from work early? No, of course not. They are men, not teenaged girls.

But they sure do whine like little babies on Facebook. They angrily declare their disgust at the disloyalty of the player. They rid themselves of that treasured jersey with that now-despised number. They boo when that player returns on an opposing team.

In short, they react the same. Maybe even worse, since the One Directioners are sad but not particularly angry at the deserter.

Nerds have long complained about how people ridicule their obsessions with Pokemon, comic books, video games, and similar pursuits that non-nerds seem to think we should all grow out of by adulthood. But no one bats an eye at adult obsession with sports. (Ironically, I know some adults nerds who would ridicule Jane’s obsession with 1D).

I think it’s perhaps time that we all step back and give each other some room to breathe. And grieve. We’ve all got our obsessions. And if we are rational, we can admit that those obsessions are irrational. And if we aren’t, our spouses or close friends can whisper it in our ears during a calm moment.

And sometimes, something or someone upsets our obsessed-over apple cart. And we momentarily feel like we can’t go on because of it. People who don’t get it should take a minute to realize they have their own apple carts. And then just wait. We’ll get over it.

I’ll worry if she’s still wound up a week from now. She’s already doing better. She’s righted her cart and she’s picking up her apples. And she’s a bit stronger and a bit more aware of her feelings now than she was before. And that’s an important part of growing up.

 

*A note on spelling. When I asked Jane to read this to make sure she was ok with me telling the story, she commented that I misspelled his name (Zayne – as can be seen in the text I sent her). Since I got that spelling from news sources, the problem is apparently widespread. I asked her how to spell it and her response made me sad. She said, “It’s Z-A-Y-N. Unless you want to spell it the way he really spells it and then it’s Z-A-I-N. But their publicists decided that was too ethnic so they changed the ‘I’ to a ‘Y’.” Too ethnic? She had to clarify that he is of Arabic descent. This is probably another post entirely but I think it’s sad that we can’t let people be who they really are. Afraid they wouldn’t be a success if we aren’t all fooled into thinking they are “white”? Shame.

Channeling MacGyver

I went redneck with my lunch yesterday. Or maybe it’d be cooler to say I went MacGyver.

Yeah, that’s it. I totally went MacGyver.

We had fixed Taco Salad for the church youth group Sunday and still had leftovers come Wednesday evening. The nice thing about salad is that, as long as you don’t overdo the dressing or, in the case of taco salad, load up on chips, it’s a fairly low calorie and healthy meal choice. For that reason, I had one for dinner both Monday and Wednesday evenings.

I had nothing planned for lunch the next day and thought, Hey! Taco salad sure would be nice. Problem is that my one little bowl at work isn’t big enough for the mound of lettuce involved. Last time I tried this, I mixed everything in the salad mix bag. That worked ok but those bags are fragile and tend to tear down the side while you are attacking the contents with a fork.

As I was contemplating my bowl-at-work options, it occurred to me that we had purchased one of those big rectangular plastic boxes of 50/50 spinach/spring mix things since we had been buying for a group. There was still some lettuce in it.

Score! I opened the new bag of lettuce and added some to the box. Then I added onions and shredded cheese. The ziploc bag of remaining taco meat was just right for one serving, so I scooted the lettuce/onion/cheese over a bit and placed the bag of meat inside, to be heated up at work. Then I poured some green salsa in a small plastic container, added the Italian dressing to it, placed the lid, and nestled the container into the lettuce. That’s when I noticed that the bag of tortilla chips also held a very meager supply of already-crushed chips. So I rolled the bag up, ignored any concerns about whether the outside of the chip bag was actually clean, and laid it carefully on top of the salad before closing the lid.

Voila! All the ingredients contained inside the box, which I could then eat out of the next day before throwing away. And it’s a testament to how my week has gone that this event caused me as much joy as it did. Sometimes it’s the little things in life.

Maybe all my daughter needs to come out of her One Direction mourning is to eat salad out of a bumpy, flimsy plastic box. Or maybe not. Not everyone can be MacGyver.

In A Nutshell…

I haven’t had much time to blog lately and I don’t see that changing for awhile now. I’ve had a lot of ideas on things to write about but then things get in the way. Things like working overtime, my husband hogging the computer to work on our taxes, being too tired. Always too tired.

I planned to blog about our nearly-disastrous, certainly not-as-planned two-day Spring Break. The one that had us sit immobile on the interstate for nearly an hour because of downed power lines. And then we finally got to our destination to find it hopelessly overcrowded with no place to park. So we headed to Central Market. Yes, the Great Spring Break of 2015’s highlight was a trip to a grocery store.

But, you see, it was BaconFest! This cracked my husband and me up since Pandora had been ruthlessly advertising BaconFest during our morning workouts for weeks. We gave each kid a certain amount of money to spend and everyone had the time of their lives buying bagels, tortillas with bacon chunks in them, stinky cheese, fruit.

The next day, we traveled to another town 2 hours away just so Jane could see a couple of friends. Only one of them bailed. And the communication with the other wasn’t great. They still had a great time, although Daddy spent all his time unexpectedly ferrying people about. I played “Lunar Golf” (mini golf with glow-in-the-dark elements under black lights) with the two boys, who fought in such a ridiculous way that I was exhausted.

Trust me, the telling of their interaction was going to be so funny! Weeks ago, that is. Why bother now?

We drove from there to a town roughly halfway home so I could buy some wine from my new favorite winery. But they wouldn’t let me sample without sitting at a table and ordering a flight. Eight quickly consumed ounces of wine later (on an empty stomach), I was swaying at the counter buying 9 bottles of wine and joining their wine club.

And then we headed back home to some friends’ house, where we ate great food and drank more wine. All in all, a reasonably good but not-as-planned and way-too-short Spring Break. But all it gets is a light brush stroke because it’s simply not current.

Then there’s Daryl, who broke his right thumb last week. He’s the only kid in our family that is right handed. So now he’s in a splint and the school has to have a special meeting to secure permission for him to take his standardized tests without filling in the bubbles. He’ll read off his answers to a teacher who will fill in the bubbles for him. Assuming it’s all approved.

The tale of how he broke it (playing dodge ball at school) was a riveting tale as he shared it with me. I planned to share it with you. But the energy seems to have gone out of the moment and I no longer think I could do it justice.

Then there’s the ongoing Tooth Fairy near failures. Both Daryl and Hal lost teeth last week. I think Hal now has more holes than he does teeth. Some friends, some semi-local, some from two states away, came over Saturday night. I remarked at the beginning of the evening that I had to remember to perform my Tooth Fairy role for Hal.

Well… by the time everyone was loading up to go about 1:30 Sunday morning… yeah, I know… bad idea… anyway… by then, I had completely forgotten about the tooth. And in a lucky, saved-my-butt-but-also-demonstrated-what-a-lame-tooth-fairy-I-am move, one of the guests reminded me. Yes, one of the guests. In my defense, he was the only one who hadn’t been drinking. But still. He’s not even a parent!

Maybe that’s why he still has brain cells.

Then we get to today. When the big news was not who was announcing a run for the Presidency, not that voice recordings had been successfully removed from the black box in that horrific airline crash, not that Earth exists because Jupiter was a giant planet-eating monster back in the day.

No, the big news of the day was that Zayne Malik left One Direction. And my daughter’s world stopped spinning. It’s not the proudest moment of her life. She knows it’s silly and even stupid. Still, it is very raw and real to her.

She called her dad to leave school early. He wasn’t happy when he learned the reason. She cried and cried and cried. She threw away her teen magazines. She took the poster down from her wall – the one covered in lipsticky kisses. She can’t stand to see them now. She regrets not going to their concert last year. One Direction just isn’t One Direction without Zayne.

Some of her friends are supportive. Some are dismissive.

And it’s all so ridiculous. But it’s where she is. And it’s real. And I will do my best to not belittle her but to help her through it. Because, believe it or not, I can’t bring myself to dismiss her pain. Even if it is “just” over a boy band.

So there’s my last several weeks in a nutshell.

We shall see how long it takes me to crack the next nut.

Until then, take care.

When Logic Meets Fandom

“How was school today?” I ask Jane after picking her up from a friend’s house one recent school evening.

“Fine.  Clara sang Steal My Girl in Yearbook today.”

“Umm.  Okaaay…?”

“I didn’t expect her to know it.”

“Why wouldn’t she know it?”

“Because it just came out two weeks ago.”

“But you obviously know it so why wouldn’t she?”

“It’s a One Direction song.”

“So?”

“So it’s a new One Direction song.”

“Maybe she’s a fan.”

“No, she’s not.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because most people think One Direction is just a silly boy band.  And I looked at her following list on Instagram.”

“So?  Just because she’s not following them on Instagram doesn’t mean she’s not a fan.”

“Um.  Yes, mom.  It does.  Instagram and Twitter are how you find out when new albums are coming out.”  (This is said in that “you just don’t get it” teenagery tone).

“Ok.”

“So that’s good that she knows it.”

“Why?  Why is it important to you that Clara likes the song?”

“Because that means they are good.”

“No it doesn’t.  It means Clara was exposed to it and she liked it.  That’s all it means.”

“No, it means it’s being played on the radio.”  (She’s starting to sound irritated).

“Not necessarily.  She might know someone who is a fan and she was listening to it with them or she found it on YouTube or something.”

“No.  She heard it on the radio.”

“Ok.  And that makes you happy why?”

“Because that means they are good.”

“No.  It means their song got played on the radio.  They are One Direction.  It’s reasonable to expect their songs to get played on the radio.  But it doesn’t mean that they are ‘good’.”

“Yes, it does mom.  They don’t play bad songs on the radio.”  (Now we are dangerously close to an explosion).

“Ok.”

You see, we were having two different conversations.  I was having one about logical deduction, trying to get her to see what counts as proof and what doesn’t.  I was trying to get her to think scientifically.  To consider what minimum information can be gleaned from the evidence gathered.  To look for other explanations for the data.

She was trying to build a case about why her favorite band is this generation’s Beatles rather than New Kids On The Block.  And, in her mind, I was tearing that down – trying to prove her wrong.  So she was getting frustrated.  Having recently learned my lesson, I chose to acquiesce rather than continue the one-sided logical analysis I was attempting.  I mean, I may indeed think that One Direction is more like NKOTB than the Beatles, but that truly wasn’t the point I was trying to make.