Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our Next Journey Begins

Jealousy in the eyes of the one who stayed behind
 I am feeling kind of overwhemlmed. The five of us leave tomorrow for the UK. A twelve hour plane journey awaits us and there is still so much to do before 2 PM tomorrow when we leave for LAX. I won't bore you with my To Do list, but let's just say that I like to come home to a clean house and we will  be gone for a month.

Today is Father's Day as well. That just adds to the overwhelming feeling. The pressure of gift giving combined with getting ready to travel can add to the anxiety.

Bonnie the Cat
I am also kind of concerned for Bonnie the Cat. She is going to miss us. Some people think that cats are easy because you can do things like go on long trips and they are easily cared for. Its true. You can easily feed and water a cat, but they too get lonely. Just like a dog, cats sense your impending trip as they sniff luggage and suspiciously peer behind stacks of clothes and shoes.

Bonnie further concerns me because she has not taken to her new automatic self-cleaning kitty box. We thought it would be more appealing for someone to look after her if they did not have to clean a cat box out every single day. I think it has kind of worked. My sisters and mom are going to take care of Bonnie.Its great someone will be there to feed her but she will get lonely.

Another thing on my mind is that my dad is not well. He has had a rough year with medical problems and he has been in the hospital since he had some problems with a pacemaker. I was going to visit him this week but he knew he would not be feeling well so he suggested that we get together when we get back from our trip.

I felt badly today because I forgot to take Oliver to his violin lesson with his awesome teacher, Miguel. We had rescheduled the lesson and I told everyone to remind me but everyone forgot. I remembered at 4:23 and his lesson was at 4. I just hate to miss appointments. No lessons for a month and a half as Miguel is going to the Philippines for vacation. Oliver has to take his violin to the UK to practice!

Needless to say, I feel pretty yucky.  Roland thinks its just pre-holiday sludge. Maybe it is. I am sure it is. I like to get everything right and nothing that concerns me has any certainty.

Now, as I have purged myself in this confessional blog, I feel much better suddenly.Overwhelmingness, be damned! How can I not have a great time with three excited kids who can't wait to have adventures?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Enrique's Turn

Lady Gaga, Morrissey, Justin Tranter

Let me introduce you to Enrique. He is an incredibly talented, motivated and intelligent fourteen year old who has survived some indescribably unimaginable circumstances which brought him and his younger brother Miguel into our home nearly six months ago.

This last week, for one of his classes, he was required to write an essay about himself and to describe an incident that has a lasting effect on who he has become. He chose to write about Lady Gaga and how her songs have helped him deal with bullying when he first came here (U.S.). I have never seen him so eager to communicate his ideas. He was actually excited about the topic because it truly interested him. However, his teacher did not agree with the topic since she felt it did not answer the prompt.

I was reminded of an interview with Morrissey in which he spoke about his school experience. One time a teacher asked the class to write about the most influential book and he decided to write about the dictionary. His teacher did not like it and put up a big fuss.

I am not meaning to say that his teacher is anything like Morrissey's. But I will say that format isn't everything. Content is far more important. As an English teacher,  I can tell you with honesty that it is easy to forget what is most important for students to gain from a lesson or assignment.

From what I have observed, he has gained a love of writing and expressing emotions, some confidence and empowerment. Not to mention the value of self expression. Clearly this exceeds the objectives of the assignment!

I am including his essay in my blog since the way Enrique identifies with Lady Gaga is so similar to how many fans identify with Morrissy and his music.

Despite his seemingly angelic attributes, I am sure that Enrique will only be happy once he has killed his brother Miguel!

Lady GaGa and Me
When I first got here to the U.S. I was a joyful six grader just looking for friends. But it did not work that way. I was bullied, physically, and mentally everyday during P.E. and internalized my fear. Mother Monster’s (Lady GaGa) lyrics have value for me to uproar to bullies, and Lady GaGa went through the same hell as me. She has made me feel that I was not alone in this incident. Lady GaGa and I have so much in common, we both like to express ourselves in ways that people, just like us, don't understand. I, just like her, know who Judas is, I, just like her will be Bloody Mary, I, just like her love my Hair, and we were Born This Way. The essence of Lady GaGa and I are so much alike in ways that encourage both of us to finally be ourselves in the alienated world around us. And since both of us have been bullied, we really want to put a stop to it. That is why I choose to write about us.
What does not kill you makes you stronger. Lady GaGa has taught me that by facing my fears it will make me stronger and persevere. And that is what Judas is all about. Judas is an allusion for the Judas Iscariot in the Bible. He symbolizes betrayal, and fear. In her song Judas Lady GaGa says,” When he comes to me, I am ready” her message is to accept the fear and try to dominate it. Therefore my life relates so much with these lyrics that not even my atheist god can help me understand how Lady GaGa is "the one I cling to". And "I've learned love is like a brick, you can build a house or sink a dead body" there are so many ways to understand this, but my interpretation is that it is necessary to experience new things, and give them a positive perspective, rather than a negative perspective. Judas will always find his ways to betray Jesus, when "Judas kiss[es] me if offensed, Or wear[s] ear condom next time," it is necessary to block all the negative comments in life, which encourages me to be who I want to be, without Judas.
From Lady GaGa I have learned that once I have conquered my fears they are insignificant to look at them. And as these fears come along we see that they will always bring judgment with them."[I'll] dance, dance, dance With my hands, hands/Hands above my head/Dance together/Forgive him before he's dead/Because I won't cry for you I won't crucify the things you do" let fears see that they don't affect us in our lives. No matter how much fears hurt they are insignificant, but always with us, and this is why Bloody Mary, the song means so much in my life. In Bloody Mary the lyrics start by saying that Mary loves her fiancĂ©, but by the end Mary says she is not in love with him. This "love" that we think is for us, might not be for us, because love is just like a mirror -- fix it if it is broken, but the crack in that reflection is still perceptible. The sculptor Michelangelo is mentioned in Bloody Mary because, "We are not just art for Michelangelo to carve. He can't rewrite the agro of my furied/Heart." For sculptors it is hard to avoid mistakes, as it is for us the mistakes come as commonly as the sculptors’ mistakes, but just try to live with joy, and be one with yourself.
Mothers teach their young to be strong, but Mother Monster has shown me how to physically stand up for myself. So many people like to look glamorous, and to express themselves with a hair style. In her song Hair, Mother Monster explains to her Little Monsters that we need to “…die as free as [our] hair”. There are so many judicious people out there that we want to show them that they are judgmental, and that they need to allow differences. "I’ve had enough/This is my prayer/That I’ll die living just as free as my hair I’ve had enough I’m not a freak I must keep fighting to stay cool on the streets" this phrase truly relates to me. I have been judged and bullied-and I just want to make an uproar to the bullies saying let karma do its job!! I remember when I had no friends at all and "Sometimes I want[ed] to rock on some highlights/Just because I want my friend[s] to think that I am dynamite. . ./I just want to be free, I just want to be me, And I want lots of friends that invite me to their parties" with boundless freedom to finally trust myself and have fun, with no prejudice. And this song is leading me to express my life by giving my hair some life -- some color -- and be myself.
Even though changing my hair color will not stop the bullies, it will help me gain confidence to stand up for myself. And no matter how I try to stop these bullies I will not be able to because they are cowards; they do not care how much agony they cause to so many individuals. I stand up for anyone, "No matter gay, straight or bi Lesbian, transgendered life I'm on the right track, baby I was born to survive/No matter black, white or beige/Chola or orient made I'm on the right track, baby I was born to be brave" this is why every person is Born This Way, because nobody should be offended by the actions and comments of others, because "god makes no mistakes". Lady GaGa tells us to "[Not] hide yourself in regret, Just love yourself and you're set" this is an exemplary example to not believe what others say, this also is another excellent example to be ourselves. The lyrics have so much influence on me that I believe in Her, Mother Monster, Lady GaGa. Shame does not terrorize me anymore.

Enrique and Miguel

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Morrissey Music Minion Out of the Peer Closet

Oliver, my little minion

 My name is Andrea Willoughby-Jones and I am not only a music Nazi but also a Morrissey music minion.

This week on True to You (a Morrissey fan website) Morrissey wrote a short blog about a band he obviously finds exemplary called Young the Giant. Now, I have heard of them but had not heard any tunes by them. I listened to a song called "Apartment'" which I absolutely LOVED! I was proud also that they are from my area of the world-Newport Beach/Irvine, California. Its amazing that anything even slightly original can come from Orange County-especially Newport Beach-the land of boob jobs and cookie cutter blonde bimbos. On the other hand, when you find a real person they are like gold in a sea of lead. Young the Giant shines even more because of this, in my eyes.

I was eager to hear more and then I went to the Facebook page the link was posted to and  Moz fans  had posted comments basically declaring that Morrissey has bad taste in music and that this group was okay.

It was shocking that anyone could listen to Sameer's voice and the harmonies of this band and not at least recognize the beauty in that. And then I began to feel somewhat ashamed and nerdy that I would like something that Morrissey likes for fear of looking like some lame Morrissey minion. I became refamiliarized with peer pressure at that moment. Scared that I might not fit in.Frightened that I may have become a mindless follower-forgetting my own musical tastes.

Then, I considered the fact that it shouldn't be shocking that I would like music that Morrissey likes-after all, I like The Smiths and in all liklihood I might like some of the music that influenced my pop hero. Is it odd that I like many of the bands that have opened for him-even though I have never seen them live? Yet. (Ever?)

Two other bands I like that have opened for Morrissey are Doll and the Kicks who sang such a beautiful version of Throwing My Arms Around Paris, I almost prefer it to the original and The Heartbreaks are another talented band as well.They are opening for Morrissey in some of the gigs "Up North."

In writing this blog, despite how it may appear, I have spent quite some time reading different Morrissey web sites and blogs and have come to the conclusion that the Moz fans who made the comments about Morrissey's musical tastes perhaps want for Morrissey to like a band that sounds much like the Smiths or like him. But when you think about it, why would he do that? Its been done! It was/is still amazing but if you are looking for something new it isn't going to come from the 1980s.

I thereby give myself and anyone else permission to like music that Morrissey likes. He has my permission to be a musical leader.

I leave you with "Apartment" by Young the Giant. They are the kind of band that I fantasize about being when playing guitar and singing with a group of friends (which happens not so often). Why can't pop stars be born at the age of forty-six?

By the way, they are opening at the Hollywood Bowl in October for Incubus.I am not an Incubus fan but Roland would probably dig it. I mean, it is the Hollywood Bowl. I may never see Morrissey but Young the Giant is a possibility.