U2 at MSG or How Bono and FOMO don’t mix

Monday, I decided to get last-minute tickets to see U2 at Madison Square Garden. They’re my favorite rock band (unless Bruce and the E Street Band count) and I’ve seen them live many times. I wanted to get tickets when they went on sale months ago– and even put an alarm in my phone– but on that day some domestic distraction prevented me from getting on the phone or computer at the right time and by the time I did, decent seats were sold out.

I was disappointed and mad at myself so I did what I often do (and wish I didn’t) I avoided the problem until too late, because it was too painful to deal.

U2 2015 tour poster

Then our own personal Ticketmaster– Wilson’s brother, Jon– got four free tickets in a box for a Saturday night two weeks ago. I was thrilled.

Until I realized it conflicted with my BlogHer plans. I couldn’t ditch my out-of- town guest and all the fun of BlogHerpalooza so I gave my ticket up and Wilson went with his cousin.

But you may remember that a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law got tickets an hour before the Taylor Swift concert, and got great seats. So I decided I would be fun and spontaneous and try to score tickets the day of the concert. I was already in the city for work and had to pass MSG to get to Penn Station for my train home so it seemed like a low-risk, high-excitment endeavor.

I solicited my friend, Karen, to go and she enthusiastically returned my text: “OMG that would be so much fun!” she replied encouragingly.

Buoyed by Karen’s whimsy and dreams of getting a wink from the Edge from my last-minute floor seat, I checked StubHub for tickets. The cheapest seats started at $180 and they were behind the stage. Not good.

Wilson told me the show featured a giant screen that ran the length of the venue so if we were behind the stage we would miss all the action and visuals. Although it was a Monday night and they were playing like 8 shows in NYC, there were barely any seats available and they ranged from $350-850. Each! 

I was feeling impulsive and crazy, but not that crazy.

I downloaded the StubHub app to my phone and began obsessively checking for seats. I went to the StubHub office in midtown, hoping I could charm someone there into state secrets on how to get last-minute seats that didn’t cost as much as a pair of Bono’s custom sunglasses.

MSG seating grid on carpoolcandy.com

I looked at the MSG seating chart about 100x in 12 hours.

It’s really kind of insane how much you have to fork over to see live music these days. Like cuckoo.

But I digress.

So Karen and I show up at MSG and stand in a line for people without tickets hoping to get last-minute releases. We knew that line of at least 20 people was not bearing fruit, but that line is how scalpers know you are in need.

We surveyed the situation and were approached by at least three scalpers. The first had only three teeth and very dirty shoes– no joke– and seemed pissed off. We didn’t engage him.

Another seemed sketchy and only talked out of the side of his mouth, while darting his eyes around, probably scanning for cops, who were lingering close by. We weren’t sure if we could get arrested for buying tickets from a scalper or if only the scalpers were at risk.

Did I mention Karen is a lawyer and very practical? Between that and my fear of making a bad choice that would put us out up to $500, we were not terrific scalper customers.

But we found one guy– let’s call him Joe Tickets, cuz that’s the name he gave me when I got his cell phone later– whom I trusted. He looked me in the eye, he was funny and he seemed to have a more honest face than the others. He said he would give us a ticket for one of us to go inside and find the seats to ensure they were legit. Then the other person would give him the cash for both tickets and get the other ticket. Seemed foolproof.

U2 MSG 2015

He had two tickets in a decent section for $250 each. $50 more than we wanted to pay, but it was now 8:10pm and the show was starting in 10 minutes so we began to feel desperate.

But that desperate feeling also made us doubt ourselves. We saw a couple buy the tickets from Joe and the husband disappeared while the wife waited outside for the call. She eventually wandered away so Joe’s tickets seemed to be the real thing (just like the U2 song.)

We hesitated….and just like that… the tickets were gone.  Joe whispered into several other dudes’ ears, but all the seats were taken and the music had already started.

So much for spontaneity.

disappointed fans on carpoolcandy.com

We walked into Penn Station (no place to lick your wounds) in a daze. We kind of couldn’t believe we really weren’t seeing U2. This isn’t how we pictured the story ending.

I attribute much of my initial excitement and subsequent disappointment to my acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out.) I get an idea in my head that I want to do something– it can be a pop culture event like this, or a party, or even a family activity– and I start to get anxious if I have a conflict and can’t make it happen.

I missed the “last” Grateful Dead shows in my home town a few weeks ago….U2 for BlogHer…I went to Taylor Swift and didn’t get to see The Wailers playing at Maplewoodstock….Wilson had only 4 tickets to the Met game and didn’t have enough tickets for me.

First world problems, I know. Woe is lucky me. But I can get my panties in a twist over missing stuff, and I cant figure out why. It happens with events, but also TV shows, movies, vacation spots. What personality defect does this reflect?

You know what doesn’t help my FOMO issues? Fucking Facebook.

FOMO graphic

As Karen and I sheepishly boarded our train home, we chatted a bit before checking our phones. I went onto Facebook to retrieve a message. As I scrolled through, I saw at least three friends posting photos from inside the show I was missing at that exact moment.

Photos, videos, and excited bursts of concert joy rattled and hummed on my feed. I hated them all.

We still hadn’t found what we’re looking for.

By the next day, the feelings of disappointment and regret had subsided and I realized that, of course, there will be other concerts. Karen and I had fun and impromptu dinner and drinks that never would have happened.

That’s the lesson I’m still striving to learn. To be present and satisfied with the moment I’m in. Cuz most of them are pretty great.

What gives you FOMO? Tell me in the comments.

#BlogHer15: Connecting on many levels

You may wonder why we bloggers do what we do. Why do we toil in the wee hours of morning and night to match just the right photo to carefully chosen words? Why do we share some of our most intimate and/or humiliating moments? Why put ourselves out there to be judged, or worse, ignored?

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Chew, Smiles, and Candy taking time to smell the roses.

I spent last weekend attending BlogHer15— the world’s largest conference for women content creators on social media — and was reminded why we blog.

Only a few of the thousands of bloggers in attendance have hit it big. Winning the blogging lottery can mean different things: building a brand, monetizing with ads, scoring a book deal… but all any of us really want is to be heard.

We want more people to read and engage in our passion subjects.

That’s my takeaway from an amazing weekend of listening to inspiring speakers, meeting real and virtual friends, and taking notes at professional breakout sessions.

The blog is not the thing. Connecting is the thing.

This was my third time at BlogHer and it certainly was the charm. Year one in NYC, I was a clueless rookie, obsessively consulting my session schedule and terrified of missing any events, speakers, or blogging advice. I was all business and just a little fun and I knew like two gals.

Year 2 was in Chicago. I went alone and tried to soak in the experience, but found it difficult to meet people (I’m more shy than you’d think in enormous crowds) and spent evenings with high school friends instead of bloggers.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

We got lots of free stuff at the Expo this year. Here we are trying new Coke Life with Stevia. (I liked it!)

But this year, I had a writer posse and it made all the difference. I convinced my virtual friend Christine of the popular and perfectly seasoned food blog ChewNibbleNosh.com to hop on a plane from Indianapolis to be my partner in crime for the weekend.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Much deserved late night snacks at Eataly with the gals

I also strongly encouraged my local friend Jesse, who writes beautifully about family life with a special child at SmilesandDuctTape.com to take the plunge at her first blogging conference. At BlogHer13 in Chicago, I made only two new friends: the always honest and funny Amy of AMyNameisAmy.com–who writes about parenting, divorce, pop culture and being a bossassbitch— and Emily who makes food and her kids sound equally delicious on Em-i-Lis.com. Both those ladies were back for more in NYC this year, and Amy’s hotel roommate, Stacey, who’s OneFunnyMotha was kind enough to put up with us too.

Whether newbies or veterans, we were all a bit wary, wondering what the energy of the conference would be like, and whether it was worth the hassle it requires to leave your family, jobs, and responsibilities back home for several days.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Blogger friends for life bonding at dinner

But over several glasses of wine at dinner Saturday night, we agreed it was the best decision we’d made in a long while.

It’s intimidating to walk into an enormous ballroom and find a place at the table– as it were. I’ve found that no matter how many page views you have, everyone wonders if they belong.

BlogHer15 NYC on carpoolcandy.com

But the nurturing environment helped us get comfortable and when we weren’t focused on speakers or mechanics, we laughed a lot. It’s funny how close you can get to people in such a short time when you share this kind of intense experience.

Soledad OBrien at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Journalist Soledad O’Brien kicked off the event, talking about her Starfish Foundation, which chooses dozens of girls (who could not otherwise afford college) to financially, emotionally and professionally support through school and career building.

We were inspired to act, to dream, to push ourselves and those around us.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers and the ultimate success story, Jen Mann of PeopleIWanttoPunchintheThroat.com

There’s something kind of magical about being in a safe space with creative women peers. And with some, you know their online voices so there’s an immediate familiarity.

Gwyneth Paltrow at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

So safe in fact, that the embattled Gwyneth Paltrow could wow the crowd during her lunchtime talk. Looking tan and svelte and appropriately fashionable, the actress and goop.com founder talked about everything from building a brand to raising kids in the midst of a high-profile divorce.

Paltrow has been under fire for several comments in the media that made her sound entitled and out of touch with regular folk. She addressed her bad press in an evolved, thoughtful way and came across as relaxed,, intelligent and even funny– quieting many of the haters in the crowd.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

“If I read something that stings it’s usually because I’ve held that judgment against myself. So I unpack that and work through it,” she told the attentive audience.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

I went to a few amazing breakout sessions to learn more tricks of the trade. I took notes like I was back in college about humor writing, building a brand on social media, and time management. Each session provided at least one nugget of wisdom or spark.

Here are a few I gathered:

–“We women are so hard on ourselves. Make realistic goals. Don’t should all over yourself,” Danielle Faust on time management

–“Ideas aren’t unique, your voice is,”  Sarah Maizes on humor writing.

–“Readers don’t want to know the most recent thing you said, they want to know the best thing you said,”–Jessica Woodbury on best SEO practices and setting up a blog home page.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Breakout session on SEO

The last two speakers on Saturday evening had great impact on the thousands of attendees. First up was media executive and motivational speaker Tenishia Jackson-Warner who encouraged us to stretch ourselves. “Don’t just follow your dreams, chase them!” she told the eager crowd. Get out of your comfort zone, do things that scare you, be persistent, defy rejection, and don’t give up. Her words made my heart leap into my throat and lingered in my head for days.

I have one particular project I’ve been avoiding out of fear so here words hit a nerve.

Ava DuVernay at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Duvernay’s eloquence and confidence were infectious.

“Selma” director Ava Duvernay had us on the edge our seats as she spoke about diversity in filmmaking and empowering women in all fields.

“Women have been trained to ask for what we want instead of taking it. We’ve been indoctrinated in a culture of permission. It’s true for women and it’s true for people of color. But that time has passed,” she said about defining this moment in time with boldness.

The weekend was about connecting–to each other, to our industry, to the larger world– and going after what we want.

You don’t have to be a blogger to appreciate that.

Help me connect with more readers by sharing posts you like and signing up to receive my blog via email. Just scroll to the top of the page and click on “Follow” on the right side. See, now you’re stretching too! Thanks!

 

 

Those days you wish for a parenting do-over

The last few weeks have been very busy in my part of the world. All three boys are playing travel baseball and going to various camps so it’s been hard to keep any kind of schedule. I constantly feel like I’m behind, forgetting something or someone, and generally exhausted.

So read on with a little sympathy and understanding if you would, please, cuz it ain’t pretty.

Not a bad mom graphic

After a weekend of baseball, entertaining family, and attending our town’s two-day jam fest– Maplewoodstock– and the Taylor Swift concert, I wasn’t exactly on my game to prepare for the week. On Monday, I left early and had plans to meet friends after work, before accompanying Wilson to a work dinner in Manhattan.

It wasn’t until we were on the train home at 11pm when I realized Eli had a camp overnight the following night. I had not signed the permission slip or packed for him. Thank goodness for email, I was able to get the slip and the packing list at that late hour.

As I ran around Tuesday morning trying to find a flashlight and make breakfast for my other boys, Eli disappeared. I was just putting $10 in a ziploc bag for him to buy treats at the water park when Aden started screaming from upstairs…

Aden: “MOM! Eli just stole $20 from your drawer!”

Eli: “No I didn’t!!” (angry)

This exact exchange happens three more times, and Eli’s indignance escalates each time he denies taking the cash.

Me: (still patient) “Did you take money from my drawer?”

Eli: (on verge of tears) “I didn’t!!!”

Me: “Ok, then you won’t have a problem with me checking your pockets.”

He stands there with a look I’ve seen too many times before. You may recall that Eli has history of stealing and lying about it. We’ve had several discussions– within the last month– about respecting the belongings of others and telling the truth.

Childhood phase or gateway to life of crime?

Childhood phase or gateway to life of crime?

I found the $20 in his pocket and flew into a rage. I don’t love that he took it– and now I’m worried he’s been using that drawer as his personal bank for god knows how long.

But staring me straight in the face and denying it sent me over the edge. I yelled at him (a lot) until he cried, and then the camp bus pulled up.  I gave him a lame hug and sent him off for 36 hours, with my harsh words stinging in his ears and the pain of guilt weighing heavily on my heart.

In a moment of insanity, I signed Aden up for a 5 week writing class this summer. I feel strongly that my boys should have interests outside of sports, and Aden has a lot of unstructured time so we agreed he would take a class on writing about books. I put the class time in my phone on Wednesdays, instead of Tuesdays, so we missed the first class.

Mom Fail.

My apologetic email to the teacher was returned with an assignment to buy a book and assure Aden reads 150 pages of it before the next class. I reminded him several times during the week to read and as he ignored me I silently cursed myself for thinking the class was a good idea.

I already mentioned our insanely busy weekend so on Sunday night I realized he had not read one page of said book. I told him when he got home from camp Monday there would be no TV or video games until he read a lot of that book.  As we were out Monday night, I had my sitter remind him to read the book. On Tuesday morning I asked Aden if he read any of it and he triumphantly told me he read all 150 pages!

I was thrilled. Until we realized he read 150 pages of the wrong book! He “didn’t remember” me telling him which book to read, and it didn’t occur to me to be specific with my sitter.

Epic Mom fail.

And on top of that,  I was rushing to get him out of basketball camp early to get him to another town for this class and I forgot to bring him a journal he needed for the class too.

Feeling better about your parenting skills now, aren’t you?

Despite the knots in my stomach as I offered lame excuses to the teacher, it all worked out and he actually enjoyed the class, even without having read a single page. To reward him for his positive attitude, I took him for a frappucino at Starbucks. A little redemption.

But alas, our detour made us late getting home and we had to rush to get him dressed for his baseball game that night. Then he couldn’t find his game jersey. Anywhere.

Little League baseball on carpoolcandy.com

The jersey in question

We turned the house upside down and as the minutes ticked away…. he was 10, then 20, then 25 minutes late for warm ups. He started yelling at me and refused to answer every time I asked him to retrace his steps on the last time he wore it. I started to get angry (again) and we argued until he finally found it in the bottom of the car trunk. Grrrr.

As I dropped him a full 30 minutes late for warm ups, he slammed the door of the car and didn’t even look at me.

Another banner day of parenting.

Every time I thought of Eli at camp I felt sad, and I couldn’t shake my bad behavior with Aden for the rest of the night. If I had been less tired, more patient, more organized, more focused, I could have handled each situation better, with a less unpleasant outcome.

So far, my boys seem to be forgiving (or perhaps just completely indifferent) when I have a bad parenting day.  But I’ve realized in my 15+ years of this mom gig, that while it feels really crappy when you screw up, you always have another chance to make it right.

You have no choice but to wake up and try again.

Make me feel better by sharing one of your low parenting moments in the comments.

Why I’m glad my 12-year-old son saw Taylor Swift live

Taylor Swift 1989 poster on carpoolcandy.com

I can’t get the “Bad Blood” tune out of my head after seeing Taylor Swift live at MetLife Stadium last night. A lot of the show stuck with me today and I’m hoping will stick with my 9 and 12-year-old sons who also sang, danced and waved hands late into the night.

Aden asked for a ticket to the show for his 12th birthday in May so the grandparents contributed to the (very expensive) ticket fund. Eli got treated to the concert by his Aunt Beth and Uncle Jon for an early birthday (and Hanukkah, and probably 8th grade graduation– those tickets are $$$!) present.

boys at Taylor Swift concert on carpoolcandy.com

Some were surprised to hear my boys wanted to go because Swift’s fan base is largely girls. But I’m proud to say my boys are pretty evolved, and care more about good music and pop culture icons than stereotypes. Can’t imagine where they learned that.

There were not many boys in the audience, true. The sold out show was primarily tens of thousands of screaming, devoted girls and women. The age span went from 7 to 40-something, if you include the accompanying moms who seemed to like her as much as their daughters.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen concert fans go all out like this. There were thousands of girls dressed up– it was Justice meets Halloween.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

The girls seemed to be clumped in groups, marked by their own unique spin of Taylor-fashion: colored tutus, matching jerseys, giant sunglasses, light up jewelry, cut and beaded tank tops, and of course, Taylor concert t-shirts.

These girls were dressed as Grammys!

These girls were dressed as Grammys!

She’s gotta be making a fortune on merchandising. Even before the concert started they were sold out of most sizes.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Oh and the signs—such creative, labor-intensive signs these girls brought.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Giant letters that spelled out song titles, accessorized with LED lights to be seen in the dark, and hot pink poster boards with messages to their idol. Adorable!

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Taylor gave the love right back. She opened with “Welcome to New York,” which made the crowd go wild…

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

… and sang many hits from 1989 and some favorites from past albums, including an acoustic version of “You Belong to Me” and a slowed down version of “Love Story.

Although I don’t have girls, I was a girl once and remember listening to my favorite songs over and over to memorize every word. I remember belting out lyrics into my hairbrush and making up dances. We may be living in a digital age of disengagement but loving music in that way hasn’t changed a bit.

The fans sang every word all night long and with such passion and gusto, you couldn’t help getting swept up in the moment.

As expected, there were at least 7 or 8 costume changes– all accentuating her impossibly long legs and svelte figure. I loved all the costumes– the black leather badass rock star getup for “Bad Blood” was my fav– and although she doesn’t do choreographed dance much, she has perfected the hair flip, runway strut, and over-the-shoulder flirty look.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Everyone got a white plastic bracelet when they entered the stadium, which had special lights inside that lit up on command. It was so cool when they changed colors according to the song, or the floor seats lit up a different color than the stands. When it got dark, she said “lift up your lights so I can see every one of you!” and the whole stadium lit up like the Rockefeller tree.

Taylor seemed extra jazzed about the crowd Saturday night and promised special guests. Friday night she brought out a bunch of gorgeous models, Lena Dunham, and the Women’s U.S. Soccer team. Saturday night, more gorgeous models (I would name them but didn’t really know who they were besides Gigi Hadid,) and the actress who plays “Crazy Eyes” in Orange in the New Black Uzo Aduba (random!)

We also got a bonus song that made the girls crazy when Nick Jonas came out and sang “Jealous” with Taylor.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Beth and Eli. It was his first concert ever!

She talked a lot about friendship– there were also videos between songs with her gaggle of gal pals, who all seem famous. Love the positive, relatable themes about being a good, supportive friend, but her circle seems extremely unattainable!

What I love about Taylor is that she really appreciates the fans and seems to take in the significance of the moment. At one point, she said she spaced out for a second because she was looking around and soaking up the feeling of 60,000 people traveling from all over to spend their Saturday night singing all the words to her songs.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

She talked a lot during the show and I loved her message of empowerment and inclusion. She reached out to those who may be going through a hard time, overwhelmed by life’s choices and feeling left out sometimes. Don’t let anyone hurt you and or make you feel bad about yourself, she warned.

You be you.

Taylor has an enormous platform and she’s using it for good. I wish I’d had someone like her to idolize when I was growing up and feeling awkward and insecure, when I was fighting with my girlfriends, and didn’t understand boys. I loved Madonna, but back then she wasn’t exactly about loving yourself for who you are.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Cool fireworks show during the “Shake it Off” finale

That’s why I’m so happy my boys were there to hear her words and feel the girl power in the stadium. Taylor’s message is as important for them to hear as the females– maybe even more so.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

That girl oozes with poise and talent. She can sing, write, connect with fans and hold the attention of thousands, But what I loved most was the joy she exudes onstage. When you watch someone successful and truly happy in their element, it makes everyone feel like anything is possible.

 

Getting old is not for the weak

bette davis on carpoolcandy.com

Bette Davis once said “Old age is no place for sissies,” and man, was she right.

bette davis

This week, I had to renew my passport so I was up early to avoid the lines at the post office. I was in workout clothes and not vain enough to put on a full face of makeup so early in the morning for the photo, so I just dabbed some eyeliner and lip gloss on before running out the door.

When I went to get my passport photo taken at CVS, I stood in front of the white screen and started primping my hair. The CVS lady– who seemed friendly enough– gave me the passport photo rules: I couldn’t smile and had to have both ears showing — which made my hair flat and mousey looking.

That was the least of my problems.

She took two shots, downloaded them and showed them to me on a computer monitor. Horrifying. I looked like someone had beat the crap out of me. I looked VERY tired and one eye was a lot bigger than the other. Like a cyclops.

“Oh no!” I shrieked. The CVS lady looked at the screen and then to me.

“Yeah, we should take that again,” she said with a pained look. I was both relieved to have a second chance, and annoyed that she so quickly confirmed the picture was ghastly.

I stood again against the white background and tried to pinch my cheeks and smooth out all the lines on my face that had glared at me from the screen. We tried SIX more times. Each time, CVS lady looked at me with a wincing expression and shook her head.

Here I was, thinking I looked ok when I left the house. I glanced in the mirror in the dim light of my bedroom, but I guess not close enough. Sure, I was up til one-am watching Orange is the New Black and reading my book club book, but I didn’t feel as tired as I looked.

“I don’t think it’s going to get better than that,” she said flatly after the 6th attempt. (She seemed less friendly to me now.)

” I guess I should have worn more make up,” I said sheepishly as she printed the photos.

“Yeah, you need a lot of makeup,” CVS lady said. Maybe she didn’t say exactly that, but that’s what I heard at the moment.

passport photo on carpoolcandy.com

This was the BEST of the 6 photos, after she photoshopped it to boost color and diminish lines!

For so many years, I could just get up and greet the day with little effort and still feel like I was putting my best face forward. Not anymore.

Aging has taken its toll.

I had heard that after 40, our bodies start deteriorating at a more rapid rate. I noticed it first when it was taking me too long to read books. I had always had 20/20 vision so it didn’t occur to me for months that I was squinting and having to reread sentences because my eyesight was weakening.

I now have prescription reading glasses that I only wear when reading and sitting at the computer because I’m still self-conscious about them. I can no longer read any writing on medicine bottles, they’re just printing it too damn small.

reading glasses photo on carpoolcandy.com

There are further indignities I’ve observed as birthdays come and go. Despite lots of exercise and walking my whole life, my feet hurt on a regular basis. Food gets stuck in my teeth, forcing me to suck on them like a grandpa. My bedtime routine requires so many steps, I often can’t make it through them all: wash face, brush teeth, floss, slather night cream, apply eye cream, moisturize hands, adjust pillows to avoid lower back pain.

And I’m a healthy person!!

My 42-year-old athletic cousin just discovered he has a hernia and can’t figure out for the life of him what he might have done to get it. Lifting a suitcase? Weird stretching at the gym?

An exasperated friend just told me she can’t find the right bra size because her boobs have become completely lopsided. One has humiliatingly descended at a more alarming rate than the other.

getting old vitamins on carpoolcandy.com

The over 40 self-help shelf. From Flintstones vitamins to this.

I know we should consider ourselves lucky if these are our worst complaints. And I do appreciate my good health. But don’t underestimate the damaging effect physical aging has on our fragile egos.

Who wants to admit we have weaknesses, exactly at the time when we’re finally becoming comfortable with who we are?

Alas, I only have to look at that passport photo for the next 10 years. I guess the bright side is, in 10 years, I’ll look at that photo and think I look young!

 

If you’re not listening to podcasts, you’re missing out

In the last few months, I’ve become slightly (and my family will tell you alarmingly) obsessed with listening to podcasts on my phone. When I try to talk to my contemporaries about them, most give me a puzzled look and wonder how I find the time.

The best part about listening to podcasts is that you don’t have to find time, they help you pass the time.podcast icon on carpoolcandy.com

I listen when walking the dog, walking home from the train station, and cleaning up the house. I used to get so irritable when faced with unloading the dishwasher (the most banal, odious house tasks of all) or weeding ill-fitting clothes from my kids’ closets — but now I attack such chores with glee because I’m learning something while I work.

Most people in the pop-culture-know have heard of the smash podcast hit Serial on PBS. I listened to that crime story with my family on a few road trips and was fascinated, but there’s so much more out there. serial itunes logo on carpoolcandy.comWhat I like about the podcasts I’ve been listening to is they’re an uninterrupted hour-plus with a person or story that interests me and teaches me something. Whether it’s the common emotional experience I recognize in a story on The Moth, or Dustin Hoffman talking to Alec Baldwin about what it was like to film The Graduate, it’s all thought-provoking and often inspiring.

the moth podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

If you liked Serial, or you’re just intrigued by people and why they do the things they do, you’ll like the tales told on The Moth and This American Life. They run the gamut of topics and experiences, and hearing people’s voices whispering stories into your ears creates a compelling, intimate feeling.

This American Life podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

Then, my friend, Julie, recommended I listen to my writing hero Lena Dunham on actor/comedian Jeff Garlin’s podcast, By the Way, In Conversation. It sounds melodramatic to say it was life changing, right? Let’s just say I’ve been listening to an average of 3-4 podcasts a week ever since.

Discovering Garlin’s podcast was, perhaps, like anything amazing you try for the first time– salted caramel ice cream, riding a perfect wave in the ocean, sleeping at a fancy hotel– it’s so good, nothing else quite compares. I find Garlin extremely entertaining. He’s smart, irreverent, and curious about everything from life’s big questions (“Are you scared of death?”) to the mundane (“How many times a week do you do pilates?’)by the way podcast graphic on carpool candy.com

But he doesn’t suffer fools, and he’s not into promoting crap, so he only brings on guests he likes, either personally or respects professionally. He’s been in comedy for decades, from standup to TV, to movies so listening to him talk to his buddies like Conan O’Brien or Bob Odenkirk about the old days is like a master class in comedy. (Other great episodes include Larry DavidWill Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Judd Apatow.)

I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to every single By the Way available, and sadly Garlin stopped recording them to star in his TV comedy, The Goldbergs, so I had to move on. One great episode of BTW featured comedian and fellow podcaster, Marc Maron. Unofficially the grandaddy of podcasters, Maron’s WTF (yes, it stands for what you think) started back in 2009 in his garage.

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Maron still often broadcasts from his garage, hosting many comedians but also musicians, actors, and newsmakers. I started binge listening to WTF but found Maron a mixed bag.  He gets groovy guests (his podcast made news last week when President Obama spoke frankly about racism on his show, ) he’s naturally curious and asks digging questions. His disarming, self-deprecating nature allows guests to go deep.

But he’s extremely neurotic, sometimes seems to do very little research on his guests, and often spends the first 20 minutes on a personal rant about things not usually of interest to me. BUT, there have been several fascinating hours of conversation so if he has a guest I like, it’s usually a good listen. Slate named Maron’s two-part episode with his friend Louis CK the best podcast ever and I highly recommend it. The two used to be friends but jealousy and uneven success tangled their relationship over many years. It’s like being a fly on the wall in a really funny session of couple’s therapy.  For other great Maron episodes click here.

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After picking through Maron’s list, I heard about Alec Baldwin’s online interviews on WNYC’s Here’s the Thing. Baldwin’s podcast has quickly become my favorite (after exhausting all the BTWs) because he’s an excellent interviewer and gets an impressive potpourri of guests, most of whom I’d love to interview myself. He’s an active listener, asks great follow ups, and he’s funny and deferential– not a side of him seen often in public.

Great gets like David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, and Dick Cavett tell Baldwin stories I haven’t heard before on every practiced talk show appearance. It’s interesting to hear two actors talking about their craft, but Baldwin also gets notables from the world of sports, politics, books, and media. I highly recommend his chats with Billy Joel,  John McEnroe, Sarah Jessica Parker, and  Jerry Seinfeld.  koppelman the moment podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

As a writer, I love hearing about how other writers and artists create. I’ve been on a recent bender soaking up Brian Koppleman’s The Moment podcasts, which focus on people who’ve done incredible things in their respective fields, and the time in their lives when everything changed and led to their ultimate success.

Koppelman– a successful screenwriter and producer– seems to be friends with everyone who’s anyone in movies, music, comedy, books, media, and even food on both coasts. He lures them in to his confessional recording booth to reflect on the dark moments that came before the spotlight, or the epiphany that drove them to achieve. While Koppelman has an exuberant tendency to talk over his guests, he hosts a richly diverse cast of characters who come ready to talk, no matter where he pushes them to go. I recommend his lively chats with Amy Schumer, Killer Mike, and Ellen Barkin.  

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I’ve tried a few other podcasts, but none have kept my attention as much as the ones above. A few people recommended Bill Simmons’ BS Report on Grantland but now that he lost his deal with ESPN, his podcast has no home. If you like sports, you can still go back and listen to past guests. Simmons is a sharp guy and I enjoyed some of his interviews with celebrities. I’ll even admit getting sucked into a few episodes about the NBA– despite my lack of knowledge and interest– because he’s that good at what he does. I’m sure he’ll end up somewhere soon.

I’m presently hooked on all the above, but there’s always room for more, so please send suggestions my way in the comments. Happy listening!

Nice day to start again, nice day for a white wedding

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My friend, Lisa, got married last night and I’m still smiling about it. She’s been divorced for nearly 10 years and it took her a while to find the right guy, but if you listened to the speeches and saw the love and light in their eyes, you’d know Mitch was worth the wait.

I felt badly for the happy couple as the rain poured down on our drive to Bouman Stickney Farms in rural Lebanon, New Jersey. But the deluge couldn’t put a damper on the celebration.

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In fact, the steady raindrops made the affair seem even more intimate as the 100 or so guests clinked glasses under a tent and in a beautifully decorated barn, under twinkling lights.

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The ceremony included their families and friends reading passages under a white linen chuppah sewn by Lisa’s great-grandmother. They read vows they had written to each other and giggled as the wind blew the barn door open behind them, with a beautiful backdrop of grass and trees.

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A second wedding is an opportunity to say what’s really important in your vows and to your family and friends, because you’ve had enough life experience to know the significance of your words.

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You actually know what it feels like to take care of a partner in sickness and in health, you’re intimately familiar with the challenges of weathering hard times, and you appreciate the joy of friendship and laughing easily.

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Mother of the bride (right) taking it all in.

Getting married as a more mature couple also means you can plan the party exactly the way you want it– without any input from parents or in-laws– to reflect your taste.

And Lisa has amazing taste.

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The beaming bride

I knew it would be special, with Lisa’s shabby chic, ethereal feel.

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She loves bringing nature into her home (rocks, seashells, driftwood) so the setting was a perfect combination of raw nature and elegance and one of the most gorgeous parties I’ve ever attended.

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From the white roses and pink peonies under the chuppah and in the bouquets, to the wildflowers in Mason jars and metal buckets on the tables….

From the Oriental rugs on grass, and distressed furniture for seating and food display…

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Lisa loves inspirational quotes and this one was perfect for the rainy night

….to the amazing details like ribbon streamers to wave at the ceremony, matchbooks saying “A Match Made in Heaven” and linen pillows with the couple’s initials on settees around the tent.

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They asked all the guests to wear white which somehow added sophistication to the farm setting– very Out of Africa…..

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The food was healthy and delicious and served on mismatched Grandma’s china plates. My watermelon vodka drink came in a beveled goblet with a  colored paper straw.

A three-piece country band and a DJ played all night and the barn turned into a dance floor after dinner.

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I loved every detail, but more importantly the night was filled with love between and for the new couple.

There were lovely speeches and toasts….

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Lisa looked overwhelmed as her kids made a speech.

and the bride and groom were beaming and dancing all night.

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Congrats to Lisa and Mitch!

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You’ve inspired Wilson and me to renew our vows someday. Keep the barn door open!