When I Grow Up, I Don’t Want to Be Like Taylor Swift

Standard

I’ve always been a little bit weird. Not the cute, quirky, endearing weird, but the kind of weird that makes people eye you warily as they slowly back away.

I used to give rocks to people as presents when I was a little kid.

Plain, gravel rocks.

Not polished, pretty ones.

Just gray rocks.

I thought it was cool. I had no idea it was weird until someone said, “Why would I want this rock? It’s not even pretty,” and then threw it. I watched it sail through the air and bounce off into the grass and I realized that giving rocks to people was, in fact, weird. I stopped doing so.

As I grew older, I learned to possess and maintain a sense of self-confidence that allowed me to ignore what other people thought of me. It’s worked pretty well; I graduated with my BA in English with a concentration in professional writing in April. I recently got accepted to University of Michigan for grad school. I’m working hard, paying my bills, and saving for the future. Usually, I’m too busy pursuing my goals to worry about the fact that society believes I should be out clubbing with my girlfriends and trying to find a boyfriend and returning home wasted to my own apartment. I actually forget that the way I choose to live my life isn’t normal. I talk about my Saturday night spent reading a book or watching cartoons with my little sister. And people stare at me and I’m just like:

Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 10.58.11 AM

(Except minus the glass of wine. I don’t drink. *insert horrified look here*)

Sometimes, though, someone comes along and shatters my view of my life.

“What do you mean you don’t want to come to the bar with me tonight?”

“We’ll find you a boyfriend. Don’t worry.”

“Still living with the ‘rents, huh?”

“Doesn’t it bother you that you _________?” (Fill in the blank with any of the aspects of my life that go against society’s expectations….so, pretty much all of them.)

And I feel the need to defend myself and my choices.

Wild Side

Scrabble

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 5.58.53 PM

….which usually has the opposite effect that I wanted it to. It’s a mess.

So it leads to me thinking, which leads to me writing, which occasionally leads to me blogging about it.

When I picked up my little brother and sister from skating with their friends the other day, “Let it Go” from Frozen was playing when I walked in. I knew my sister would be happy about that and would most likely sing it all the way home. As we got in the car, however, my sister said to me, “They played that Taylor Swift song.”

“Which one?” I asked.

“‘Trouble.’ Does she only sing about her ex-boyfriends?”

“Basically,” I answered, glad that she chooses to listen to artists like Beckah Shae rather than Tswift.

“I was cracking up the whole time,” my little brother interjected from the back seat. “She sounds like a hurt goat when she sings, ‘OHHHHH!'”

“It’s dumb,” my sister said. “She should write stuff that can influence the girls who listen to her all day.”

“She should,” I agreed. “A friend of mine rewrote one of her songs once when I said that same thing.”

“Can we hear it?”

So I handed over my phone and they pulled up the YouTube video right then and there.

When I turned 22, everyone sang lyrics from that Taylor Swift song at me. Catchy tune aside, I couldn’t relate to any of it. My little brother so kindly pointed out to me, “I don’t think you’ve ever dressed up like a hipster and made fun of your exes.”

When I complained about Taylor Swift’s childish view of life at the time, my wonderful friend (who recently started a blog on here; follow her on Monsters of Mine) promised me that she would rewrite the song for me as a birthday present. I present: “22: A Song Taylor Swift Would Write if She Had Normal Priorities.”

By the way: the rock story I told you about? My uncle passed away recently. I was at my aunt’s house last week when I heard my Grandma question, “What’s this?” and picked up a (particularly) big, gray rock from the bookcase.

My aunt gave a teary smile and said, “I found that in his closet. Katie must have given it to him; it was in a little box marked ‘My Katie rock, 1995.’ He kept it all these 20 years because it was a present from his niece.”

Yeah.

Take that, person who made me feel like an idiot when I was five years old.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of society’s lies. It’s tempting to change ourselves so that we’re socially acceptable. It’s hard to remember that the way we are is enough.

But we are.

Besides, I don’t know about you, (haha, see what I did there?) but I like the above version of Tswift’s song much better.

Keep living your life the way you are, guys, even if (and maybe even especially if!) it goes against society’s norms. #WOGO: We Only Get One. (It’s my version of YOLO.)

Life is a Dance

Standard

I generally don’t dance. Not at weddings, not at parties, not anywhere. It used to be my absolute rule. Dancing is awkward. You don’t know where to put your hands or what exactly to do with your feet. You can make a fool of yourself. Avoid it. It’s a good rule…except for when people tried to change your mind.

Our long time family friend has a hoedown every fall on his several acre farm. There are enormous tire swings made from tractor tires and a bonfire that once reached a record height of 33 feet high and food and laughing and square dancing and a hayride through the property and if you show up without a cowboy hat one will be provided for you at the door.

Square dancing.

I take pictures.

But one year, I was listening to the caller, who was barely understandable with his fake southern accent, and enjoying my hot apple cider when a voice interrupted me.

“Would you like to dance with me?”

I jumped, sloshing my cider over the rim of my cup and onto the hay-covered barn floor dangerously close to his feet. Normally I laughed invitations off kindly or flat out refused. But this time, for whatever reason, I said, “Sure.”

It was the worst dance of my life.

It was awkward and jumbled and I didn’t know what to do or where to go and at one point I jabbed him in the stomach with my elbow. I was completely out of my comfort zone.

It was the best dance of my life.

Dancing is a lot like love and life. You don’t know what to do and sometimes you make mortifying mistakes for the whole world to see and sometimes it clicks and something beautiful is born.

It all depends on your partner. Choose wisely.

The Solitary Creeper: Wordsworth From a Woman’s Perspective

Standard

I can’t help but wonder what Wordsworth’s poem The Solitary Reaper would look like if it had been written by the woman’s perspective. (Click here for the original poem first if you’re not familiar with it. Or else, you know, this won’t be funny and you’ll just think I’m crazy.)

The Solitary Creeper

I stand here, single in the field,

A solitary Highland Lass!

Reaping and singing by myself;

I spot him in the grass.

Alone he sneaks—oh girls, beware—

And gives a melancholy stare.

O listen! Pining on on the ground,

The field overflows with sound

No nightingale did ever chaunt

More noisy notes to present tense

He believes that I don’t see him haunt

Poor soul. He’s so very dense.

A voice so grating ne’er was heard

From the peacock to the magpie bird

Breaking the quiet of the day

By stalking me. Oh, happy day.

Will he not tell me what he wills?

Perhaps he’s playing hide and seek

Or seeking something in the hills?

Get me far from this geek.

Why should he stand there, stare at me?

It takes self-restraint not to flee.

Maybe he’s lonely, or wants a wife?

Dude—no. You need to get a life.

What’er the cause, this maiden knows

Dating creepers means tragic endings

So I continue at my work,

Hope it’s bad signals that I’m sending

And breathe a sigh of sweet relief

When he slinks away like a thief.

But the creeped-out feeling I still bore

Long after he was seen no more.

Call of the Wild

Standard

I don’t always write depressing stuff; I promise. In fact, I love to write humor….especially when it pokes fun at myself.

I’m sitting in the library innocently working on my homework when it happens again. The quiet atmosphere of the peaceful valley is turned into a jungle as a girl waltzes by and the boys instantly straighten up. It’s like watching something from Animal Planet; the males preen themselves, trying to impress the female, who spreads out her feathers while pretending not to notice.

“Hey hey, what’s goin’ on?” One of the hopefuls asks smoothly.

Her lower lip sticks out in a cute pout. “I forgot my credit card, and I have no cash, and I’m starving!” She leans on his shoulder as she clutches her stomach to emphasize this point.

The peacocks turn into lions, fighting to see who will come out on top. The lion who brandishes his credit card like a flag wins. “Getcha self whatever ya want, babe,” he croons.

“You’re adorable!” She pecks his cheek and accepts his card. He gloats over the rest of the pack. He’s the Alpha dog now.

I shake my head in wonderment. I’ve tried to learn this little flirting game all my life with no success. I always end up embarrassing both myself and the poor victim who attempted to play the game with me. The preening and seducing is too much for me, and I pack up my stuff. I have to go grocery shopping anyway.

As I drive, Cosette and Marius sing together, “For this isn’t a dream; not a dream, after all.” How did she learn this art, while I’m left floundering? She was raised in isolation by an ex-convict, for Pete’s sake.

I’m in the checkout with my milk and eggs and a bouquet of roses catches my eye. February 13th. I decide to buy them for my Mom; my Dad is great, but he doesn’t really care about Valentine’s Day.

My items are being rung up, and I dig through my wallet for cash. Where’s Mr. Alpha Dog when you need him?

“What’s this, now?” The cashier holds up the bouquet.

I blink at him, wondering if I’m being Punk’d. “Roses?”

“No, no.” He looks at them and frowns sadly. “A pretty girl like you should never have to buy flowers for herself.”

That’s my cue, I know. It’s time for me to say something witty and cute in response. For a wild moment, I consider hopping up onto the conveyor belt and planting a kiss on his cheek. I’ve got nothing else.

He’s waiting for a response from me so he can deliver the next line in this script everyone but me seems to have memorized, and I finally unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth. “Well, I’m not buying them for myself. They’re for my Mom.”

“Oh.” I’ve done it again. The mood is killed. I’m like the Ancient Mariner, only my actions are always unintentional and I don’t have a beard. Nevertheless, I’ve clumsily shot the preening peacock and turned him into a limping bird. “Well, I….hope she enjoys them.”

I take my bags and retreat in shame. I’m pretty sure I had my nose stuck in a book when God was passing out flirtation skills.