Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Would an Adult Do?

Over the weekend I spent time in Myrtle Beach with two of my oldest, dearest friends and their children. We drank frozen cocktails by the pool and enjoyed each other's company after not having it for a few years - that is, until this obnoxious deejay started playing club music and telling everyone to get up and dance. I happened to raise myself from my beach chair at that moment to collect napkins from the pool bar after Haylee, their almost-six-year-old, spilled strawberry drink everywhere.

"Are you about to get out there and dance?" teased my friend when he saw me standing up.

"No," I replied, with more than a gentle curl of my lip.

"Are you old now?" he asked.

"Yes," I said, without missing a beat.

Then, yesterday I was wasting time on the Internet when I saw that NPR wanted to know "how readers' tastes in music had changed since they aged." Had they simply turned the volume knob, or something more drastic, like changing from psychedelic rock to Kenny G? Now, I know I'm not quite old enough (I don't think) to have changed my taste in tunes yet and I know NPR wasn't talking to my age group. But it's still interesting, especially because my own mother still listens to all the ribcage-rattling rock n roll she can -- and brags her taste hasn't changed at all. Still, the fact that she's noted herself how her taste hasn't changed means most people in her age group do tone it down.

What are the expectations when it comes to adult behavior? I ask myself this quite a bit. I don't have a husband (or even a boyfriend or even a plus-one at the moment) nor do I have children, but i still suspect that people are expected to act a certain way and hold certain tastes after ...30? Would Kevin and Natalie have wrinkled their brows at me if I had ordered a shot of liquor in midday, jumped up on my lounge chair and shaken my ass like I was 19 years old? Probably.

Some changes, you aren't even conscious of. For example, I hated being around small children when I was 18, 19 years old. An old friend I had in college was the mother of a toddler at the time and I was a notoriously terrible, impatient babysitter. Nowadays, I love my friends' children, and they love me back. Is this a result of age? What if I still hated children -- would that be a sign I wasn't maturing properly?

Normally, when I write a blog post, I have some neat little way to tie it up at the end. But this question hasn't been fully answered for me. I wrote in my journal (the private one, on paper) yesterday that "as I get older, my place in the world seems to get smaller and triumphs seem to get smaller because I'm pickier about them."

Perhaps this process of "weeding the garden" to create the adult life we personally want is a lengthier process than I imagined. So far, I know that I won't be making a scene in my swimsuit by the pool. But as for loving a good guitar riff, I'll take my mother's cue and blare it in my car. I'm working on a lot of the other stuff, but that's a good start, right?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Magazine Covers: The Good, the Bad and the Freaking Hideous.

It amuses me to see the comments that a magazine's "fans" write about the cover images when they're unveiled to the public. For example, witness the new Vogue cover for May:

VOGUE May 2013
Of course, some people like it, but most of the people who remarked on this cover image said stuff about how the lipstick is "too dark for the actress' lips" and how "she isn't smiling" and how weird the color scheme is. (I kind of like it, personally.)

As a magazine addict, subscriber and - ta da! - editor, I now understand how much work and stress goes into creating the perfect cover. And, more importantly, how even after that seemingly perfect cover is created and the team members are buzzing about how great it is, you never know what the street cred is going to be.

My own most hated cover of all time was a Marie Claire cover featuring Eva Mendes. I thought it was so horrible that I taped a page from the inside of the magazine over it. Ha. But now, as an editor, I appreciate the idea that someone, somehow, thought it was good enough.

Marie Claire March 2012

And, though I'm not a fan of her music, my favorite cover as of recently is this one from Elle.

Elle March 2013 
As the managing editor of Mount Pleasant Magazine, I get excited when I think my team has pulled together a great cover. I also realize that, even if I don't love the cover on the national magazine that shows up in my mailbox, the blood, sweat and tears of other editors has gone into its creation.

And I salute them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anyone? Someone Other Than Google?

This morning I woke up, checked Facebook over coffee and saw that my friend Jim Lundy had posted something like "Richie Havens! What terrible news to wake up to."

Now, I took the Context Clues lessons in elementary school so I at least got enough from this post to realize that ole Richie had probably died. But I also do not know who Richie Havens is. Just as I was getting ready to type "Who's that?" as a comment on Jim's post (and he would have heartily answered me, no doubt) it occurred to me that I could just look it up myself on my little search engine bar, located in the upper right hand of my Internet browser.

It got me thinking about whether it's now considered silly to ask anyone the answer to anything, in this great world of looking things up on Google. Really, what's the point of being in a classroom if the kid can just find out what he or she needs on an iPad? NOT that I am saying this is true (someone needs to assist in comprehension and clarification) but I can see why some people - especially kids - would feel like they don't need to ask a human being anymore.

I've said this before a bunch of times, but I'm so glad I grew up in an old-school house, without a computer. Sure, i might have missed out on playing fun computer games and fast-forwarding my paper writing process, but oh well. Sometimes, the round-about way is better when it comes to learning.

Sure, Google is great for a lot of stuff (finding out whether the cramp in your foot means you're going to die, for example) but nothing replaces the art of human conversation. If I ever end up having kids of my own, I'll strive to get this point across to them, even though I probably won't escape having a home full of technology.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pondering the "Bad Apple" Theory.

I've spent practically all day today hanging out at the bridge run expo for the magazine, encouraging folks who walked by our booth to grab free issues, sign up for free subscriptions and enjoy our product.

Betwixt all my greeting and promoting, my phone died. (Surprise.) But since I carry my phone charger around with me at ALL times, I was prepared -- that is, until I realized how hard it is to find a plug inside the event hall of the Convention Center. I finally decided to hook my phone up in the bathroom. Then, I left it there.

"Where'd you plug your phone in?" inquired Cullen, one of my esteemed freelancers, who was helping me man the booth. When I told him, he was shocked I'd be so careless with my phone. In fact, he made me so paranoid that I went back and got my phone out of the bathroom.

"'Scuse me," I said to a few of the neighboring vendors, who were doling out bite-sized cookies, "but if you saw a phone charging in the restroom, would you steal it?"

"No, I wouldn't steal it," mused one girl thoughtfully. "But I wouldn't leave my phone in a bathroom either."

"So you think there's someone in this building -- i gestured around to the dorky-looking dads toting diaper bags, the moms in ponytails and the kids licking ice cream -- who would steal it?"

They nodded.

I asked a few other vendors, just for good measure. (And, because, as y'all know, I freaking love talking to strangers.) They all said pretty much the same thing.

"So, you don't think there's a chance we're in this building with nothing but good people?" I kept asking.

"No," they would all say. "There's always one bad person."

I find this information both interesting and disappointing. Perhaps, as a culture, we've been faced with too many tragedies to trust giant buildings full of people -- but if that is the case, why would we even be inside the Convention Center? Are our phones more valuable than our lives?

"I'm having quite the philosophical adventure," I told Cullen a while later, when I got back to our booth and explained to him what I'd just learned through the vendor grapevine.

He just shook his head at me. He's used to my antics. But it's like I said to the guy in the booth next to us: Writing is a dangerous profession. 90% of my inspiration comes from people. And you never know how people are going to interact with you.

Most of the time, I'm delighted at the kindness of strangers. Often enough, I suppose, that I'd consider leaving my phone unattended.

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