“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on. ” Carl Sandburg
On weekend mornings, I make coffee and sit at my desk for a leisurely perusal of news and facebook. Inevitably, a post will catch my eye, and I’ll write some long-winded-but-well-thought-out response to someone’s throwaway comment that I might not have noticed later in the day. This morning, the post I took on belonged to my daughter. She’d listed ten things she thought would make the world end in 2012:
- Rebecca Black
- Lady Gaga
- Country Singers
- Desperate Housewives
- The iPad
- Ugg Boots
- Nicki Minaj
- Vin Diesel
We could argue with the merits of the list, but I’m sure my daughter doesn’t believe the world will end or that Vin Diesel will be the cause of it. Frankly, if it does end, all those things will have contributed, just like taking one’s first breath contributes to the taking of the last. But a facebook post doesn’t call for that sort of existential philosophy.
As you can imagine, a provocative opinion (especially on a place like facebook, especially when one’s friends are users of the items in said opinion) causes some to take umbrage. Is it necessary to hate on Gaga? Whoa, Watch the Nicki Minaj stuff! Come on—what’s wrong with Walmart?
My kid has a good mind, and I’m sure she can articulate why these items and people could contribute to the end of the world—or at least the downfall of Western Civilization. But something she said struck me because it’s something I expect from other facebook users, not my daughter. “I copied these things from my best friend’s status—that doesn’t necessarily mean I believe they’re all bad.”
So I’m copying my letter to her right here. It’s my letter to you, too, and to your kids. The funny thing is that I don’t feel unqualified to give the advice, even though I don’t exactly fit the measure of success in this world. My house is so small that when the six band members come upstairs from the basement, I feel like I will explode. Yesterday, I spent $60 I didn’t have on dinner and a museum admission, and I’m feeling panicky this morning. I have two inches of roots that I can’t afford to make match to the rest of my hair. My weight loss breaks for Berger’s cookies. And my eleven-year-old SUV is rust held together with bird shit.
Still, I make things with my hands, my heart, and my brain. I am fulfilled by my experiences. I try new things, eat delicious foods, go interesting places. I don’t have the added stress of a job I loathe and a boss I hate or clients who treat me like a slave. I’m surrounded by beauty and by friends who make me laugh and animals that lick my face. And I suppose this is why.
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Here are some worthwhile tips about life.
- Never JUST copy anything. Always make it your own. Look at Ted Brodysseus Merrill. He can play like the record, but he plays the song with his hair, too, and in pink clothing. Or like Brett Diamond, who plays leads by deadening notes on the neck.
- If you don’t like something, be open to changing your mind. I’m open to changing my mind about Nikki Minaj and Lady Gaga. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m open to it.
- Don’t let anyone bully you into changing your mind. See their point that yes, Gaga sings and plays well, but no, she’s not your (or my) cup of tea. (Or, thankfully, soy latte. Blech.)
- Spend your dollars at the places you think best represent your interests (i.e. not Walmart). Spend more to buy in your neighborhood, so stores stay open, and your house stays valuable. Doing so amounts to more dollars in your pocket eventually, when store owners tell others what a good person you are and help you get gigs and work, not where you are just an invisible nit not worthy of a clean restroom.
- Never wear Ugg boots. You’ll find plenty of cool boots that don’t look like anyone else’s hideous (Ugg–short for uggggggly) footwear. (See my beautiful turquoise cowboy boots with Frida Kahlo hearts on them, for example.)
- The iPad is stupid, but it won’t make the world end. Windows-based programs will do that.
- Finally, while it’s cool to dis Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black (and Ke$ha and Taylor $wift and all those mediocre-to-lousy YouTube stars), fight the genre by being the best you can be, practicing regularly, being prepared, and enjoying the hell out of all you do—whether it’s saxophone, drums, guitar, vocals, writing, drawing, reading, school.
Stop the world from ending by being the reason for it to go on. I know you are mine.
The Crazy-Ass Bitch Who Buys You Shit and Cooks You Stuff and Drives Your Ass All Over Town
P.S. Country singers are STILL writing the best songs. Ignoring that fact will be of no help where numbers 1 and 7 are concerned.
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photos of a few things I love, top to bottom: new puppy, Jett; three of my Kims; Ted Merrill’s awesome guitarring; Serena, the reason.