like the corners of my mind

I’ve always thought of Facebook a digital scrapbook for the crafting-intolerant. I once had this amazing idea to create a product where you could make a personalized bound book of all your posts, pictures, pages while somehow preserving the layout of Facebook at the time you posted it. The interface hasn’t changed much lately, but these are significant cultural timestamps for my generation. People really lost their shit when The Wall first appeared as a prominent feature. At one point, you could select which six friends you wanted to feature as permanent fixtures on your profile. Every time there was a change in the organization of the News Feed, mine was flooded with posts threatening to deactivate their accounts (“oh no, please don’t,” said no one.). I used to save screenshots of my page at pivotal stages of my college life so that I would always have this culturally relevant image of WHO I WAS/how I chose to present myself at the time. I’m sure I’ve since lost them in one of my hard-drive crashes, which are tragic in nature and number.

Our lives move quickly in the reflections of the screens where these highlights appear — we don’t post all the awful feelings and anxious thoughts (well, I don’t) and I certainly don’t believe anyone really expects our digital lives to be perfect iterations of what is happening IRL. But when I look through my old tweets or Instagram posts that I thought might improve my mood by showcasing all the fun it looked like I was having, I remember writing those words and experiencing a large range of emotions that will not show up in a Facebook memory, but remain and remind still.

All that being said, I like this feature (which is called On This Day– similar to TimeHop), which shows me a photo or post from this day in a previous year. I never share them, but I appreciate that we’re leaning into this utility of a product whose many functions I frequently bemoan. Ultimately, I would like to see a larger percentage of Facebook users approach the colossal amount of time we spend on this website as an effort in preservation, rather than a platform for dispensing nonsense or playing a part or keeping up with the Joneses. We write, we take photos, and (to some extent) we exist on these social media platforms in order to remember.

Today’s memory/photo made me feel sad, but it invited me to feel grateful for life well lived and then I decided to look at others from October 28ths past. And, in doing so, I stumbled upon a truly delightful glimpse of that day I skipped a class in graduate school to go meet Hanson at the Vanderbilt bookstore. I wrote about it on my old blog, at whit’s end, as #24 in an end-of-year countdown where I highlighted my personal top “29 of 2009”. Thank you, Internet, for giving me a space to keep my memories and for helping me to remember the fullness of my big and beautiful life, both on and off screen.

in october, i caught word that hanson was going to be performing a brief acoustic concert in the vanderbilt bookstore, followed by a meet-and-greet. naturally, i had to follow my instincts and plan my entire tuesday around being present at this blessed event. i owed it to 10 year old whitney to be there, screaming and crying, since my love for hanson was a strong contributor to the awkward individuality that stood between me and a social life back in 6th grade (you may be pondering to yourself – 6th grade? let’s see, that was about 1997. yes. the year that “mmmbop” was popular. you are correct. i just jumped on the mmmbandwagon too late and thus, the ostracizing for my delayed obsession).

needless to say, this was an epic event and i was happy to mark something off a former list of life goals: to meet isaac, taylor, and zac. (also, surprise appearances by my loves lauren turner and nina myers made it all the better.) the meet-and-greet was NOT smooth. instead of saying something charming and witty, like “i’ve seen your home video tulsa, tokyo, and the middle of nowhere about 18 times and i think we should get married”, i said “thanks for being here” like i was standing in the receiving line at a funeral.

actually, it went more like this:

me: hi!
taylor hanson: hey! (starts signing my cd)
me: …..
tay: thanks for coming out!
me: thank… YOU for… being…. thanks. (slumps away shamefully)

i guess we’ll never know if our love could have blossomed. plus, i’m pretty sure he’s married. meh. next time i meet a lifelong celebrity crush i’ll try to bring my A-game. look out matthew thiessen.

*note: Matthew Thiessen is also now married. I know this because I sat across from him and his wife at dinner while they were celebrating their anniversary. And I didn’t say a damn thing.

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i <3 zack morris

One of my earliest TV obsessions that I deemed worthy of countless re-watches (mostly due to incredibly limited channels in my house — my parents upgraded from antenna to satellite dish about ten seconds after I got my driver’s license) was the quintessentially 90s teen comedy Saved by the Bell. In the mornings, I would sit on the edge of my bed in a towel, half-asleep with dripping wet hair, as I predicted punchlines and mouthed them along with the gang at The Max. For years, I thought “preppy” meant blonde and I was terrified that one day I would become so stressed about geometry that I, too, would develop an addiction to caffeine pills. I pined for a high school experience as gnarly and tubular as the one everyone seemed to be having at Bayside High. More than I wanted the dramatic irony of a kooky mixup at a masquerade dance or to save ducks from oil spills, the thing at Bayside that I really wanted was Zack Morris.

zack morris phone

Saved-by-the-Bell-Zack-Morris

I pulled all three of these pictures from an online dictionary entry for “smarmy”. Zack Morris was incredibly selfish and would do anything or betray any one of his strangely loyal friends to get what he wanted, but OH BOY, is he cute or what?

A couple of years ago, we introduced this cultural phenomenon as charter bus entertainment for the helpless 55 teenagers on the WPC youth ski trip. They pretended to hate it. They begged us to turn it off. They even stole the DVD box set from a chaperone’s bag while we were stopped at Chick Fil A so that they wouldn’t have to watch another second of it. I later serenaded them with an a capella version (including a vocalized guitar solo) of the SBTB theme song over the bus mic. Kids these days groan and yell when they love stuff– isn’t that fun?

As I watched hours of SBTB on the bus that weekend, suggesting pivotal episodes for the queue (which only further confused the kids– “WHY DO THEY ALL RANDOMLY HAVE JOBS AT THE BEACH NOW?” “WHO IS THAT GIRL ON THE MOTORCYCLE?” These are incredibly valid questions.), my lingering affection for the fun nature of the show itself and all the teenage antics to which I once aspired was not as strong as I expected. Maybe, on the other side of high school, I’m sad that I didn’t get the full Bayside experience and that life has passed me by. Maybe I just have a slightly more sophisticated sense of humor than I did from ages 9-17. Maybe I never actually paid attention to the show at all, but was so enamored of Zack Morris that I fell victim to his charm, his wit, and his super cool cellular phone.

That’s not the only time that my affections for Mark-Paul Gosselaar have taken the wheel from my sense of reason. I took the LSAT a second time after becoming enthralled with his role as a NYC public defender on TNT’s Raising the Bar. To be fair, that was the dream long before I ever saw the show, but this definitely pulled it off the back burner. Zack Morris as a PD? Cut to hours and hours in the architectural wonder that is the Seattle Public Library, practicing logic games and listening to Vampire Weekend and envisioning myself working alongside MPG to provide legal counsel to all the accused. My return to the law school plan didn’t stray too far from the first attempt and a career in public defense remains a missing chapter in my story, despite my motivational daydreams.

So, this morning, when I was getting ready for work, I got out of the shower, sat on my bed, wrapped in a towel, and turned on Hulu ONLY TO FIND that there is a new NBC sitcom starring none other than the bodacious MPG.

And it’s not great. I watched the pilot of Truth Be Told and things do not look good. Pilots are tough and I never bail after a single episode (except with Lost, but that’s because it scared me). MPG plays the white guy in a pair of couple-friends and, while the writing seeks to brave difficult ideas about race, I think Mashable’s Hillary Busis really nails it with her review entitled Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s ‘Truth Be Told’ is the edgiest comedy of 1985. I appreciate NBC’s stab at diversity, but the gratuitous emphasis on the struggle of being the white guy in a group of non-white-guys (asking what words he can and can’t say, for instance) doesn’t excite or challenge me. Neither does worrying that if a white man has both a wife and a babysitter who are both of blended Asian ethnicity, that people will think he has “a thing”. I can hear conversations around me that echo this fear of talking about race and understanding one another and maybe seeing adult Zack Morris exemplify a lot of those fears in one thirty-minute block is just disappointing because this is where we are. This is what network TV writers think will resonate with America’s Friday night primetime viewers: laughable insecurity with otherness and a clumsy attempt to express tolerance. I thought we were a little further along than this, and maybe next week’s episode will turn back toward a fun comedy about friends who happen to make up a racially diverse group, rather than a caricature of how hard it is to be white and not subsequently racist.

But yeah, I’m going to keep watching. Unless… is Franklin and Bash on Netflix?

whitney booth’s day off

Yesterday, two of my co-workers left town on separate vacations to destinations of varying degrees of exoticness. Most of the kids with whom we work are also on fall break from school, so this is an easy time to use vacation time without much risk of falling severely behind or missing lots of super fun meetings. Due to my latest stint (can I call it a stint if it’s eternal in both directions?) of big living and what I lovingly refer to as “hemorrhaging money” on #FOMO in any of its charming forms, I opted for the fall break stay-cation. It wasn’t an opting as much as a stumbling into a weekend at home while everyone is away. Why take vacation days when I can very easily go to work? I’d much rather save those up for times when I literally can’t bide my time in the office making playlists or searching for standard poodles who are waiting on me, their perfect forever human mom, to bring them home. Today would be easy. There’s not that much to do because we don’t have any programs this weekend. I could look ahead and do some planning, but I can also just proceed as I normally do: creating a schedule so loose that I don’t even feel comfortable sharing it with anyone, lest someone hold me to it, and then going week-to-week because who has time to plan?  No need for that. Gotta leave room for the Spirit, am I right? 

Lots of need—turns out—for hours of talking and drinking coffee with my friend on her birthday, employing the autumnal two-hand-mug-grip as the morning light moved through my living room in a way I hadn’t witnessed in quite a while. Lots of need to spend one of my two hours in the office today downstairs celebrating a ridiculous excuse for cake known as Boss’s Day. I interrupted another co-worker who was actually doing things to talk about what’s new. That was important and good. I really need a new door because my basement door broke last week and is not secure and I really needed to take care of that because it is a safety issue and because I am an adult and when things are broken, I am obligated to pay a lot of money so that they can be fixed by someone who knows how to fix things. I couldn’t actually pay for the slab of wood that will eventually replace the broken door because I really needed to leave Home Depot in order to get to my movie that was starting at 4:20. Upon my timely arrival, I needed to get some popcorn and a beer because all I’d eaten that day was a handful of Wheat Thins for breakfast and that slice of Patriarchy Awareness Day carrot cake. And I think it’s really important that I sit here at one of my favorite restaurants sipping another beer and observing the pedestrian traffic passing right beyond my laptop screen while I tap on the keys and remember another time when I sat in this exact spot and wept as I wrote true words that may or may not have been an appropriate response to the assignment. I see myself in the reflection of the window and my hair is wild and I love my new earrings and I found that tube of lip gloss that I thought had been swallowed up by a crevice in my car and I am beautiful and glad to be here– glad to be out in the world and doing things that are grand, and glad that I won’t be reprimanded for seizing a day off from all the things I was being paid to do today.* Really, really glad. 

*Okay, so I’ll probably mark it down as a half day.

it happened.

I remember quite vividly my first excursion to the Limited Too with my mom to buy a back to school outfit for my first day of fifth grade. The goal, of course, was to look as much like Cher Horowitz as possible while still abiding by the Jefferson Elementary School dress code. As I tried on several combinations of bright. bold plaids with stripes that decidedly matched, my mom regaled me with her astonishment that this style that she had worn as a teenager had been resurrected. She, of course, didn’t keep any of her clothes from high school– plus, I’m pretty sure the Limited Too tag in my velour shirt was just as valuable as the look itself. But I remember being so astonished that fashion behaved this way — that clothes could remain unchanged, but morph from radical, to the thing everyone has to have, to so-last-season, to Goodwill piles, and then somehow return to the spotlight decades later. Who calls the shots? Who decides this? And if we know the cycles exist, then why do we ever throw anything away? I racked my brain to imagine which trends I attributed to my own generation would ever make a comeback. I couldn’t even decide which styles were ours — everything seemed recycled all of a sudden. I didn’t mind this, of course, because I had a new royal blue plaid mini skirt and a velour green and blue and black striped shirt and lime green knee socks to wear with my clunky pilgrim-esque Steve Madden shoes and I was on top of the damn world. As if.

My current wardrobe, while expansive due to a mild problem with online flash sales, is not terribly trendy. I lean toward more classic pieces– lots of basics. I do practice a halfhearted routine of getting rid of things I don’t want or the semi-trendy items that have cycled out. I’m not intentionally holding onto iconic 2010s couture  (ha, like I even know what that is) to pass on to my hypothetical child. I do not anticipate the resurrection of anything from my closet.

But it happened. And after a quick google search to confirm what I already suspected due the time at work that I spend with high school girls (and these are high school girls who simply don’t experience the physical awkwardness that I understood to be mandatorily linked to this age), it’s true. Birkenstocks are back. Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.17.24 AM

These bad boys are actually my second pair of this exact style of Birks. I burned through one pair of the Jesus sandals in high school and replaced them, but didn’t wear them much after the first pair wore out. I think I probably moved onto the trendier Rainbow flip flop (currently on pair #3 of those too). Because they were fairly new though, and because shoes are not often part of the purge, I kept them. So this morning, I went to my closet, spotted these long-neglected, patient friends, and slid my feet into them. And I could be totally off about this, and I might look like Joan Baez, but I am gonna rock the hell out of these cork and leather creations today because sometimes things fade out of view and come back around and we’re ready for them and this is one of those times. IMG_6234