I could be wrong about this, but I feel like Janet Jackson is one of the most under-appreciated feminists in pop music. This song, off of her “Rhythm Nation 1814” album, proceeded her musical “coming out” of sorts, her album “Control,” which announced her emancipation from her father and manager. That record was such a success that she was counseled to make a kind of “Control 2.” Instead, she made an album whose focal point was social injustice, racism, sexism, and the state of the world. Proving wrong those who said that such a heavy topic would tank , “Rhythm Nation 1814” generated seven Top Five singles – a record-breaking number at the time – and the record as whole ended up going sextuple platinum.
Oh man – when the song fully kicks in at 1:55, I just can’t help myself. I wish I knew Pulaar so I could sing along. Maal, who is a genius musician and composer from Senegal, writes some of my favorite west African music of all time. This is one of my favorite tracks of his. This is guaranteed to turn any day into a good one.
Maal worked on this album with Winston Marshall, of Mumford & Sons, and Johan Hugo, of The Very Best. Appropriately, this is what Maal said is the main message of the album: “Life is travel. You are born, you come to the world, and you are traveling until the end. You never know what you’re going to get. When you travel you see that the world is quite interesting—all the different faces, all the different cultures, all the different food, all the different types of music. But it’s all human beings, and it’s all connected.”
The Feds shut down at noon today, which put everyone on the road and on the Metro at the same time, which went totally fine by the way thanks for asking (oh how it hurts to lie). But now we are ensconced in our homes, or in the homes of our friends in my case, watching the rising snow drifts and the synchronous diminution of city activity. So crank that bass up and let’s get down to business.
Your fearless heroine had a, shall we say, “wet” December. The gauntlet that shoots one from Thanksgiving to New Years turned into a slip-n-slide of festive parties. The moon rose on events and the sun rose on headaches. It was a lot of fun. Until it stopped being fun and started being kind of stupid. There came a moment, around December 31st, when I woke up just felt generally unpleasant, like a washcloth that had been used too many times before being cleaned out. So Mr. Yankette and I decided that we would have a “dry” January. This means I haven’t had a single one of these drinks at all this month:
Or the following drinks made by the best cocktail bar in the city, The Gibson:
A Blue Blood
Literally anything else (no that’s not the name of a cocktail)
I also haven’t had any of these, which are of course in the liquor shelf in our kitchen:
Oban Little Bay
John Myer rye
I’m not here to preach the gospel of dryness. Of course I feel great. Obviously I feel great. I am as clean and unblemished as a brand new window pane. I’m squeaky and practically translucent. And, this feeling is certainly nice enough to skip over what people who attempt this generally do after their dry month, which is plunge head first into a booze pool in February. I’ll go back to my pre-holiday moderation, no problem.
But. As a working professional in a busy, high-maintenance city, where networking happens around happy hours and drinks lubricate the awkward few minutes of conversation, I hadn’t fully grasped the extent to which drinking punctuates daily life. It’s the lingua franca of collegial complaints (“what a terrible meeting – is 11am too early to drink?”), and the liquid that forms the social cement (“We should get drinks sometime!”). Substitute almost anything else in that sentence and you sound batty: “We should play tennis sometime!” “We should paint landscapes sometime!” “We should take a walk sometime!” (That last one sounds suspiciously like a date.) What to do?
Well the obvious answer, the best answer, is, order ginger ale at the bar when you meet your friends. It’s not rocket science. But that won’t protect you from good-natured ribbing, which is a curious phenomenon. There is something of a wall between my friends and me that I didn’t notice until this month, and it’s entirely unexpected. Friends feel very slightly awkward drinking around me. They ask if I mind (I don’t). They ask why I’m doing it (I say I felt gross and needed a break). They consider this. Time lumbers on. It’s weird. So I can’t deny that, once February comes around, I’ll feel a little more connected.
I also can’t deny that, while watching the GOP debate last night, I didn’t long for a dirty martini (or a hammer to the head, whichever is fastest). A fun new parlor game is considering what my first drink will be on February 1st. But a habit can turn into an identity, if left unchecked, and I’d much rather be more deliberative about drinking. So my New Year’s Resolution is to only drink exquisitely delicious things, and to take my time about it, and savor it. Chin-chin, y’all.
• 4 oz. can of tuna
• ½ carrot, diced
• ½ celery stalk, diced
• 2 tbs. red onion, diced
• 1 tsp. curry powder
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 2 slices bread
• ½ avocado
Place bread in toaster.
Toss tuna with curry power, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Scoop avocado out of its skin, and spread on toast, using a fork to mash into the bread.
Place tuna (or egg) mixture on the avocado toast bread.
Delicately season with salt and pepper again, to taste.
Serve open face.
…What? So what this isn’t about the music, or a funny story, or whatever? I just gave you the recipe for a delicious sandwich. Get your own blog.
One more week. One more week on the road. One more week of living out of a suitcase. One more week of hotels and hotel food and hotel smells and hotel lamps that are inexplicably hard to figure out how to turn on and hotel bathtubs that are pointlessly shallow. Gotta get the blood up. Can’t start flagging now.
This morning, I was so spacey that I stepped off the wrong train (the yellow) to wait for the right train (…the yellow) because I thought I was on the wrong train (the green) and as such I’d need to change at Mt. Vernon Square for the right train (the yellow). And then the yellow came, again, but I couldn’t get on because only the front half of the train doors opened, and I was at the back half, so the train just…left.
Then I finally, miraculously, got to work, and was in line to purchase my bagel and cream cheese, and the guy in front of me had just gotten his change, when another employee said “I can take you over here,” and “over here” was in the absolute back of the store. Ohhhhkay.
Yesterday I absolutely killed it in a presentation to one of my directors and got a bushel of kudos, after a few weeks of crazy stressing that I was going to bite it, and months of anxiety before that thinking I wasn’t making any progress. But I was. …Huh.
My point? Nothing is static. Everything changes. Just keep breathing. And maybe get a trombone. That seems to help, too.
Today, for reasons not yet disclosable, I feel like a total badass. Also, by a wonderful turn of serendipity, many good friends of mine are also feeling like total badasses – buying houses, getting selected for incredible jobs, sticking it to the man, etc. We be boomin’. Have a rad Friday, Tune-Up fans.