expanding my horizons

I like to pretend that I am “totally cool” and also “with it,” as the kids say, but that is a lie. And one small piece of proof that I offer you is this: I am not kidding when I say that my recent purchase of the Twilight soundtrack and my inability to stop listening to it, over and over in the car as if I have lost my mind and all sense of irony totally and completely, is the greatest exposure I’ve had to new music in a very long time. I am moved to maybe consider thinking about looking up further musical experiments from the likes of Muse and those adorable little Black Ghost fellows.

The idea kind of terrifies me, though. Experimenting! With music!  But what if I don’t like it? What if it is weird and does not speak to me and I am not thoroughly charmed and delighted? That means that I have wasted my money, and wasted my time, and also that I am not cool. That I am exactly as not cool as I know I am yet secretly hope I actually am not.  It tells me that I am terrified of the unfamiliar in very sad and deep-down kinds of ways.

Sometimes when I am feeling good about who I am and the path I’ve taken to get to the places I’ve been, I think of myself, with a smidge of pride, as an adventurer. Someone who goes out there all willy-nilly like a crazy person and does the scary things, takes the risks, goes full-bore and  -speed ahead. I’m a crazy wackster! Watch out! And that’s often been true of me—that I’ve done the large and possibly stupid things, so far with good results. For instance, I’ve never moved small—from Pennsylvania to New York, from New York to Jersey, from Jersey clear across to San Francisco and then back a little ways to Utah. Each has been a little nuts, has meant giving up a lot, has taken a lot of guts and hope and chutzpah.

Somehow, though, it’s easy to do the big scary things than the little scary things. It’s easy to pack up my entire life, not so easy to make myself walk into a bikram yoga class. Easy to quit a job and say it’s the freelancing life for me! Ridiculously difficult to talk to the cool-looking girl I see every day in the coffee shop, or write an email and say hi, I think I would be very good at a job writing for you, or try to organize my finances, call about my student loans before I end up in debtor’s prison, or buy a CD I might not like or one that is not cool and for which the clerk or the loved ones who ride in my car will judge me.

I think I’m afraid, at every step, that my ignorance will be exposed, that I will look stupid, that I will screw up at something small and therefore be that much more ridiculous. If moving across the country doesn’t work out—well, it was a huge risk anyway. If I look stupid trying to make small talk with someone I would like to be friends with—well, that’s kind of sad. The size of the failure is small, but somehow concentrated.

I keep saying that I’m not going to make new year’s resolutions, but it’s clear that there are things I want to switch up, to change up. That there’s a way I want to be, and that it all starts from the same place—I want to stop being afraid. I want to live my life loudly and brashly and fearlessly. I want to be okay with the possibility that the next step could end with me plummeting off a cliff (or just a curb). I want to fling myself off the cliff, the curb, I want to skin my knees, get up, break back into a run. To stop worrying about being “totally cool.” To be totally awesome.

photo by OneEighteen

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  9 comments for “expanding my horizons

  1. perreys
    January 5, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    do it. buy some Muse. the 20-something clerks at the megastore don’t know what’s really cool anyway, and, on that note, you can always always always go back to the Cure.

  2. January 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I feel like strapping on a harness and going for a rock climb.

    There is nothing better, or sexier, than scratched up knees and sore shins. Try rollerblading. Just make sure you wear protection, especially wrist guards.

    Go for the music.

  3. M.
    January 5, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    There’re always the bands’ myspace pages where you can listen to more music (for free!) before you commit…?

  4. renee from ga
    January 6, 2009 at 4:19 am

    You know me not from Adam (huh?) though we may have exchanged a few emails in years past about a entry from your old site about Crushes that haunts me to this day with the memory of its universal truth and current unavailability (as well as my crushes current unavailability, though that is neither here not there).

    I just had to de-lurk to say that Full Moon is the best new song I have heard in a long time, very shortly followed by the Black Hole track, and I’ll virtually pinky swear to go buy a Muse cd if you buy a Muse cd.

    Also, I discovered at the gym the other day that listening to this soundtrack loudly while… elipticalling full bore transforms the normal going to the gym and exercising like a timid woodland creature experience into EFFING OWNING THE GYM.

    I’m sure I will have comment overshare regret as soon as I click Add, but just felt compelled to say, as un-briefly as possible, WORD to this post.

  5. emily
    January 6, 2009 at 5:59 am

    I just have to ask (because i’m contemplating doing it myself soon) what prompted you to up and move away? How did it work? weren’t you scared when you got there because you didnt know anyone? did you freak out trying to find a place to live? I realize I sound like a complete teenager but i’ve lived in teh same state my whole life and i’m contemplating moving across the country for some further education and it scares the crap out me! i’m impressed that you did it, can you tell me was it worth it?

  6. January 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    My favorite way to discover new music that’s free: create a Yahoo radio station. Spend the time to tell it what you like and what you hate. It will play things you like, interspersed with things you MIGHT like. And actually, the things you might like generally tend to be pretty decent.

    http://music.yahoo.com/launchcast/station.asp?u=1257953075&edit=1

    Also, check out the websites for your favorite bands and see if they’re touring – even if you can’t go, see who is opening for them. There are a couple of bands/artists I really love now that I discovered from opening acts….most memorably, Girlyman, who opened for the Indigo Girls. (It’s sort of folk-ish, if you like that sort of thing.)

  7. January 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    It’s funny about those little failures, no? Starting my own business was no big deal but striking up that first conversation with someone I think might be a kindred spirit has me quaking with some sort of unparalleled terror.

  8. January 8, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Renee, you were reading me all the way back then? That is absolutely crazy, and so totally cool. I’ve moved websites so often I am actually shocked that anyone’s ever kept up with me. I’m kind of stunned by how much I really actually love Supermassive Black Hole, and I might have to take you up on that pinky swear.

    Emily, the first time I moved across the country was for grad school and it was absolutely the best thing I ever did for myself. It was terrifying and bowel-wracking and almost killed me, but it was so worth it in the end. I arranged for a sublet for a month so I’d have a place to live while I looked for something more permanent. You could also stay in a hostel (cheap) or your school may have student housing, even for grad students, that you could temporarily live in. Go for it, lady. That is my advice. And very very good luck.

    Goingloopy, I never would have thought of the opening acts thing–that’s pretty brilliant.

    And thanks everyone for the ideas. I will be relevant yet.

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