Friday, August 31, 2012

It's never enough.

My ex-husband used to tell me I was never content with what I had, that I always wanted more, that it was never enough.

At the time I argued with him, but now, almost two decades later, I can see he was right. (He's gonna love hearing that.)

Here's the thing.

When you grow up in a world filled with constant chaos, the thing you long for more than anything else is stability. The problem I struggled with inside my twenty-something mind, was assuming that stability meant boredom and monotony. Why would I think that? Why would I link those things with stability? Well, because that's what he convinced me. What his family convinced me...that a woman who had children couldn't have her own life, couldn't be her own person, couldn't have interests of her own that weren't directly related to her family. God forbid she pursue things that took her away from her children or husband.

I still deal with these closed-minded views from my ex-mother-in-law. My travel, my hobbies, my interests, even my taste in music is questioned and, at times, has made me wonder if I was doing something wrong.

I'm not, of course, but for the briefest moment, I contemplated it. For a split-second, I doubted that what I was doing wasn't what was best for me or my family. I hate that I second-guessed myself. I hate that I let someone who doesn't know me influence what I do. It wasn't until the next moment that I realized I just didn't give a shit anymore.

The truth is what I have is not enough. It never will be. And I'm happy that it won't be. Because for as long as I don't have everything I want, I will actively pursue it. I will travel and I will work hard for what I want. I will fight for it. I'll ignore failure. I'll brush the dust off my knees when I fall and get back up again. I will ask for what I want. I will expect it. I will never be content with what I have.

I was once taught that was a bad thing...that my children would grow up spoiled and ungrateful ("just like their mother," says the old voice in my head from Ghosts of Marriage past). But here's the thing, if I roll over and accept my lot in life, I'm teaching my children that it's okay to settle for less than what they deserve.

And that is not okay.

By constantly chasing my dreams, I'm teaching my children to do the same. My teenaged children are coming to that point in their lives where they're trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Some of their dreams are lofty and some aren't. But the point is, I've taught them to dream. I've taught them that nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough and are willing to work at it. My kids won't settle into a life they don't want because I've taught them not to.

They've learned through me that if one path doesn't work out, they're not stuck...that there is always another path if they look around. The other day, my son and I were talking about what he wants to do when he graduates and I told him it's okay if he doesn't know what he wants yet...that I'm thirty-eight and I am just now figuring it out. Just because I'm his mom doesn't mean I have to act like I've got my shit together when I don't. I think it's important for my kids to know we're constantly growing and learning. It makes them feel safer in making mistakes when they know I've made some, too.

While stability is important in a child's life, so is dreaming. I'd much rather my kids flit from job to job while pursuing what makes them happy than be stuck in a job they hate just for the sake of "stability."

As long as I have breath left in my chest, I won't settle for "enough." If that disappoints some of you, I feel sorry for you. Happy beats content any day. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why I adore Midnight R≡d

(Midnight Red serenading a little girl with an a capella version of "Boyfriend"
at the Mall of America - Aug 18th, 2012.)

It's no secret to anyone in my Twitter or Facebook timelines how much I love Midnight Red. Unfortunately, many of you are under the wrong impressions as to why, so I want to clear things up.

I joke about being a cougar, but the fact is, I'm not. These guys are young enough to be my children. There's absolutely nothing sexual there for me when it comes to them. They're adorable and they've got great moves, but that's where it stops. For me, it's about their music.

When they opened up for New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys last summer, it was all over for me. Some friends of mine got to see them at their very first opener in Vegas and told me to check them out on YouTube, so I did. And I saw something in them that I hadn't seen in 20+ years: passion for music.

I immediately started following them on Twitter (@ItsMidnightRed) and began conversing with members of the group (@ThomasAugusto, @JoeyDiggs, @AnthonyLadeo, @EricSecharia & @ColtonRudloff).

When we drove to Kansas City to see them, we didn't get the chance to meet (although, it wasn't without effort on my part - ahem, FOUR pans of homemade cinnamon rolls went missing - care to explain, Rob Lewis? ;) ), but the first song they sang caught my attention and I was done. I've always been a lover of good music, especially that which gets me moving because I love to dance. Midnight Red did that. Songs like "One Club at a Time" and "Rockstar Lover" were catchy and I found myself singing their music in the car on the way home. (Ask my bestie, she'll tell you!)

Later in the summer, I drove to Columbus and Indianapolis, too. Finally, in Indy, I ran into Anthony and Joey at the mall downtown and got to spend some time talking with them. And they're awesome. Very sweet, super respectful and I could tell instantly how humble they were about the opportunity to open up for the two biggest boy bands to ever hit the stage. They were generous and posed for pictures with me and I cemented my fandom that day.

My bestie and I drove to Minneapolis last weekend when Midnight Red was performing at the Mall of America. That's right, we drove eight hours round trip for a 45 minute show and meet-and-greet with them. And they were worth every minute.

Keep in mind, I haven't spoken with any of them since last summer (except via Twitter), but each one of them recognized me and were excited to see me there. Hugs, high-fives and kisses abounded. Thomas even broke the rules and posed for a picture with me (Thanks, Tommy!). Joey refers to me as "CinnaBun" (Again, with the cinnamon rolls, Rob Lewis?!) and he immediately remembered where he and Anthony met me for the first time.

It's things like that that determine the greatness of a band. You can have amazing music and super stage presence, but if you don't interact with your fans, you've got nothing. These guys do all of that and more.

There are artists out there today who have been given opportunities left and right or have practically landed in the right hands right from the beginning. They don't understand what it means to walk the walk or talk the talk. They don't know what hard work is. They act entitled or, at the very least, act like everybody will love them because they're hot.

The guys of Midnight Red aren't those artists. They filling clubs, they're connecting with fans, they're busting their asses and they're not afraid of hard work to get them where they want to be. They're talented, both individually and as a group and they're going to be big...soon.

To me? They're big now. I'm not some sixteen-year-old-girl who wants to do bad things with them (I'm more like the hot older sister, yeah?), but I do support them and I keep them and their music close to my heart always because I recognize their passion for music.

On September 21st, they headline their very first show in New York City at the Gramercy Theater. Tickets go on sale this Friday (only $12 or $30 VIP -incl tix, early entry, M&G and poster). Do yourself a favor and go see them. They're worth it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You really wonder?

I try not to make my blogs about highly-debatable topics because my goal is to keep this page fun, or at least entertaining. But here's the thing. Life isn't always fun and entertaining. Sometimes life is hard work.

Take parenting for instance.

I'm the mother of two teenaged kids, a seventeen-year-old son and a fifteen-year-old daughter. I love my kids and I've spent my life being a strict parent because of it. I want them to learn the value of honesty, commitment and kindness. I've always believed in treating kids like young people instead of like babies. I didn't baby-talk to my kids and I absolutely abhor those who do. We have had fun and have spent our lives laughing and enjoying what this world has to offer (something I also think is important when it comes to raising kids). I've also instilled a strong sense of responsibility in my kids.

My children have had chores since they were five-years-old: setting the table, picking up their toys...vacuuming a carpet, making a bed...learning how to do laundry, wash dishes and make dinner. I don't put the majority of household chores on them, but they do have responsibilities because I want them to understand the importance of following through with those things when they're adults.

I've also been extremely pro-active when it comes to teaching my children about sex and the responsibilities and consequences of having it. We have an open-door policy at our house and no topic is off-limits, but especially when it comes to sex. I am not naive enough to think that my kids will wait until marriage. We have talked frankly and openly about sex since they first learned about periods and wet-dreams in elementary school. I don't make it a taboo topic at our house. I'm not afraid of buying my children condoms because I believe they should be educated and prepared for whatever situations may run into.

"Oh my God! You buy your kids condoms?"

Yes, I'm that mom and if my TV Guide is to be believed, it looks like I'm the only one.

I'm sick and tired of networks like TLC and MTV giving attention to pregnant teens. When I was growing up, our teen heroes were Doogie Howser and Alex P. Keaton. Girls who got pregnant while still in high school got whispered about behind their backs, not asked for their autographs. Who do our kids have these days to look up to? Jenelle Evans and Jennifer Del Rio.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Do we really wonder why our kids have such a sense of entitlement? C'mon! There are girls who are purposely getting pregnant JUST so they can get on MTV! They're being REWARDED for being IRRESPONSIBLE! The parents may act outraged, but here's the thing - their kids are doing this because they lack the knowledge, motivation and self-respect to not do it.

Parents need to spend less time buying their kids things (like smart phones and Flip cams) and more time teaching them things (like how to prevent pregnancy and disease). Or how to write a killer essay so they get into a good college. Or how to balance a checkbook. Or how to ace a job interview.

When are we going to stop rewarding bad behavior and start rewarding good behavior? I'd much rather see a reality show about the hard work Shawn Johnson put into her gymnastics career than who Jordynellifer got knocked up by this season. Give my kids someone to look up to rather than someone who is too lazy/stupid to unroll a condom before she bangs her boyfriend in her parents' basement.

Think about it. Why would our daughters want to go through the hard work of getting a Bachelor's degree when they can just skip their dose of Ortho-TriCyclen and pocket $60k a year?

We, as parents, have to put our foot down.

And while I'm on the subject of reality tv -- Honey Boo Boo? Fucking really?

I was one of those "someones" who was too stupid/lazy to unroll the condom before I banged my boyfriend in my parents' basement. I was that kid whose parents didn't have the right conversations with her. I was that kid who sought attention for the wrong reasons. I was that girl who could've fucked up the next eighteen years of two lives had things worked out differently. However, I had the good sense not to flaunt my mistakes on cable TV or let my indiscretions define me in tabloid magazines, which is why you're reading this as a disclaimer on a small potatoes blog instead of the front cover of People magazine.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back in the Saddle

New computer updated? Check.
Old files transferred? Check.
iTunes reloaded? Check.
iPod synced without losing anything? Check.
Microsoft Office repurchased? Check.
Old HD turned into a new external one? Check.
Significant chaos overcome without resorting to a bottle? Check.

I'd call that a success, kids.

In the grand scheme, it was a fairly smooth transition. I probably lost a few songs here or there. And I did have a brief freak-out when I couldn't find my manuscript with my newest edits on it. But with a little sleuthing, the file was found and all's right with the world again.

Back to work!