#FBF Life Lesson: How To Tango Solo

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Recently I’ve had the pleasure (read agony) of dissolving a creative partnership. There are two ways I could go about approaching this very rocky time in my life. I could  A.) Sweep the situation under the plush Persian rug and go on in a very Stepford Wife manner as I leave with nothing but the sound of my heels clicking in retreat through the back gate, or B.) I could address it as a grown arse woman and stand up for myself while approaching the situation with the upmost integrity (think the poignant tact of Condolisa Rice and the sharp whit of Amal Aziz-Clooney). I chose neither option, but rather I wish to address this subject as Leslie Knope, with a Pawnee sized dose of humor, waffles and self deprication.

I have found the old saying, “Nice guys finish last”, to be utterly false. The truth is, nice guys never enter the competition in the first place. We’re too busy organizing the main event. We’re the cheerleaders, mascots, yearbook photographers and prom committee members. We take it upon ourselves to make sure the members of our society have freshly baked cupcakes at club meetings and glittery signs boasting their name at the finish line. We are the hype girls, and god forbid a hype girl forgets her place. We belong in the background, lifting others up not sharing in the spotlight, because the moment we are discovered we become a threat. PEOPLE OF AMERICA: THIS MUST CHANGE, LIKE YESTERDAY!

Elementary school was my first introduction to the hype girl turned fifteen minutes of fame scenario. It was the 3rd grade and I was fresh off the seclusion of a two year stint on the mission field in Mexico with my quirky do-gooding family. I was formerly the only blonde girl in my entire village, I was completely unfamiliar with the competition and constant comparison that flourished amongst the society of traditional elementary school. I was completely unaware of the need to stand out because, frankly, I was so busy just trying to figure out what the heck and where the heck I was. I had learned to embrace the fact that I was different without flaunting it. My complex was less of a need to be popular as it was a need to just become a part of the culture. That was, until I returned to my hometown.

My welcome back to the states was one for the books. On the first day of third grade I was thrilled. On the second day I was in full blown culture shock. Other kids weren’t interested in my homeschool-free-study inspired pre-flood theories of the garden of Eden. Nay, they were more interested in the plot of latest Rugrats episode, Jack’s death in Titanic, and the impending outcome of their MASH games. I was doomed. DOOMED, I Tell You! I wasn’t allowed to watch Rugrats because of their ‘rebellious spirits’ (due to the fact that they were constantly escaping the safety of the playpen by jigging things open with Tommy’s diaper screwdriver). Titanic, FORGET IT! As for MASH, I had been taught that such fortune telling was ‘witchcraft’ and should be avoided like the plague. I was overwhelmed, how-ever was I going to fit in?

By October I had figured out the system of the American elementary culture via a series of covert operations. 1.) I would sneak in to the living room after school and just as my grandpa fell asleep I would turn the volume down to a low humm and flip the channel to Nickelodeon, catching every Rugrats episode sans parental guidance. 2.) My cousin and I discovered that HBO alowed us to continually replay not ONLY Jack’s death but also Kate Winslet’s iconic portrait sesh. We became tata experts in no time. 3.) I grilled my mother on the occult, dark magic and witchcraft relentlessly until I finally decided MASH was nowhere near the witchcrafti-ness of the ouiji board or the post-cafetiria “Bloody Mary” mirror games. I caved and learned a bit of entry level origami in the process.

A few weeks into my American education I was set for a semester of success. That was, until our 3rd grade play auditions.

One fine day in music class, our teacher announced that the 3rd grade would be conducting the Autumn portion of the school wide ‘Play of Season’s’. She described our portion of the play and split us up in to pairs by height. Once we were seated in little couples, she played ‘The Turkey Tango”; a very catchy song about a Turkey named Fred, from Durango who liked to tango. We were then given red paper roses, to hold in our tiny 3rd grade mouths, as we learned the Spanish Tango. This all sounds pretty hilarious to me now, but to a child in culture shock it was no laughing matter.

My tango was less of a dance and more of a foot squashing session. No matter how hard my poor teacher tried, I just refused to be led by my partner. I mean, why did HE get to lead just because he was a boy? Why, I was a much better dancer and I had a much greater affinity for the Spanish culture. Red hot tears began to stream down my face as my entire American dream began to crash down around me. I threw my red rose on the ground in protest and sat huffing in my grimy mave plastic chair. I will never know what lead my teacher to her final decision,  but I can only guess it was my sudden flair for the dramatic and unintentional-feminist ideals. She pulled me aside and told me her plan. I was a little unsure, but I knew it was a whole lot better than a months worth of toe crushing tango routines.

On the day of the school play I was horrified. I looked down at my wobbly little yellow stockinged chicken legs through the peep holes of my costume and gulped down my pride in defeat. The floor was full of Spanish Señoritas and dapper Spanish Gentlemen. I stood by the gymnasium doors, wobbling beneath a cardboard refrigerator box turned turkey costume. I panned the audience and stopped on the third row. There it was staring straight back at me, my aunts camcorder. The one device that could immortalize this moment for all eternity. The song started, a streak of fear ran through my wobbly little yellow chicken knees and I took the floor. I tango-ed to the right, I tango-ed to the left and I made that floor mine. Solo American turkey on a dance floor full of  happy ‘Spanish’ children. It seems I couldn’t escape may past, no matter how hard I tried.

On Monday, I dreaded facing my peers. Sure, I received praises and accolades from my adoring family on my expert tango-ing skills. Yes, I felt a little turkey sized rush of adrenaline surge in to my neon turkey limbs. But this was the 3rd grade lunch room, where pizza was as square as my comrades. We didn’t dance to the beat of our own drum, we didn’t even dance (aside from the tango); and then I go and light up the floor like a turkey in a fryer. As I approached my lunch table I contemplated dropping my tray off at the dish counter and making a quick exit to the nurses office. Right before I could make my move I heard a whisper. “Turkey Girl.” I froze, the blood running to my tiny cheeks. “Turkey Girl!” This time it was louder. “TURKEY GIRL!” By now it was a full blown chant and just before the tears filled my tiny little eyes something wonderful happened. The table burst into applause. I was met with high fives and smiles of acceptance. I was the “Turkey Girl”.

It turns out, I learned A LOT in 3rd Grade.

#1- The Rugrats were rebellious, but so was I.

#2- Kate Winslet’s tatas weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Also, Jacks death made no sense (there was a whole door, ONE ENTIRE LIFESAVING ISLAND OF WOOD!)

#3- MASH was not an accurate form of fortune telling, but “Bloody Mary” was true witchcraft and my cousin Laura had the scratches to prove it.

#4- You don’t need a partner. You can tango alone.

Some of us weren’t meant to be lead by partners, and we weren’t meant to be chorus girls either. Some of us were meant to be soloists, learning how first to lead ourselves before teaching others how to dance the solo tango. Some of us are just neon stocking-ed soloists. Sure, sometimes you’ll  partner up, but if you rely on the support of a partner or thrive on their accolades you’ll never find your limelight.

From now on, I tango solo.

P.S. Incase you are questioning the validity of this story, I have done some googling and have come up with the ORIGINAL ‘Turkey Tango’. You’re welcome…

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The (Not So Social) World of Social Media

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As a Social Media freelancer, blogger, stylist and all around annoyingly A.D.D.  creative person; I find myself having a hard time toting the line between social and ‘Social’. 

Sometimes, I just want to grab a flaffel gyro from a food truck on the grimy snow covered streets of NYC and enjoy it as the ‘unplugged acoustic-cover version’, sans photos or status updates. Sometimes, I want to put my phone down for an entire day, gasp, and listen to my grandma tell stories of her childhood without breaking eye contact to look at a tech screen. Sometimes I want to read a hardbound book with authentic musty paper pages and listen to music on vinyl while my homemade chili simmers on the stove, all without sharing this dreamy scene on any social media outlets. Sometimes I want to go a whole week without ‘sharing, ‘liking’, ‘tweeting’, ‘swiping’, ‘snapping’ or ‘double tapping’. Sometimes, I want to be present in the present. I want to feel fully engaged without a screen to engage me. I want to enjoy moments of social engagement, rather than feeling the need to be ‘Socially’ engaged.

Does this make me ‘Socially’ inept? Should I even be in this business at all? Should I just unplug from the world and live in a tiny house in the backwoods of some north-western state, living off of the fruits of my organic compost pile and seasonally harvested garden!? Should I just give it all up, or should I just give in?

What if Facebook, Instagram and Twitter did away with the ability to ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘follow? Would we keep posting the same snapshots, articles, selfies, food porn, tweets, status updates and general ‘Social’ updates to our accounts; even though there was no way to gage the popularity of our posts? If the answer is “yes”, our content is most likely 100% genuine. If the answer is “no”, then why the heck are we posting it in the first place?

What is the inspiration behind our ‘Social’ engagement? When Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Monet picked up a paintbrush, sketch book or chisel; what if their inspirations had been based on social media trends alone? We would be left with a surplus of ceilings decked out in designer hand bags and high end label heels. Portraits of inanimate objects and soul-less smiles.

True artistry portrays sincerity. Sharing political thought, religious intent, and personal experience by immortalizing moments in time; capturing the soul of a subject and the following the pursuit of beauty for beauties’ sake. These noble intentions are at the heart of the world’s most redeemed works of art. So what has art become in the modern world?

When Andy Warhol first dabbled in the world of popular culture, did he have any idea what affect his work would have on the modern art society? Would he be proud to know that now everyone, even stuffy art critics, are creating masterpieces out of  their campbell’s dinner vignettes? Would he love what we have become, or would he shy away from the world of pop art all together?

I find myself wavering in and out of love with the demand of the ‘Social’ game. You see, I am a very genuine person. What you see is 100% (or at least 99.5%) what you get, so I find myself continually disheartened and discouraged by this alternate realm of the universe that social media has created. It’s like a black hole in to which so many have ventured, a place where labels reign supreme and the Queen of Hearts (much like in Alice’s adventures) holds court where a true heart has no place. I feel, often times, alone in this thought; especially in a professional field where numbers talk and the quantity of ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and ‘followers’ is a direct reflection on your personal success.

But then, the world of social media is full wonders. A constant stream of creative inspiration. A feast for the eyes and a good belly laugh when you need one most. Some of my greatest inspirations have come from perusing the social web.

The creative prowess of Bri Emery and Design Love Fest, a one woman creative power house who makes me want to flip off everyone who has ever told me that I want to do too many things with my life or that I have “too much going on”.

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Jen Gotch of Ban.do who has created an insta world of glittery pink self deprivation where vintage mumu’s are socially and ‘Socially’ acceptable work attire.

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Joy Cho of Oh Joy who shows me that it IS possible to be a #girlboss and have a nursery full of Asian babies and a Target deal.

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Emily Henderson, a fellow (although far supreme) style goddess blogger whom shares my vintage brass hoarding tendencies and is the ultimate ex-HGTV-pat turned lifestyle guru turned mother turned one day first female President of The United States of America (I mean look at what that gal could do to the Oval Office, brass it UP baby!).

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I find that I am most happy when I am ‘Socially’ connected, but not ‘Socially’ attached. I do not need social media. I do not need to be told what shoes to wear, what to eat, what color of lipstick to apply or what brand of coffee to drink. I do not need likes, shares, re-tweets, tags or social media followers. I do not need to be told what to do, but sometimes I want to be told what to do (not a 50 shades reference). I do not need ‘Social’ engagement, however I do need to be socially engaged. I do not need affirmation, but I do need a creative outlet. I do not need to ‘Share’ my every thought, opinion and feeling; but I do need to share a genuine connection with the world around me. And sometimes, that may just mean that I need to take a selfie, in my car, in the parking lot of the hair salon (post bad a$$ blowout).