My Letterman

There seems to be a lot of endings this year. Mad Men. The Colbert Report. Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show. Perhaps the saddest and most melancholy for me is the end of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Dave was on the air for 33 years. I heard about him first from my parents, but I only saw one of the “old” shows – Late Night with David Letterman – on NBC. It was when They Might Be Giants were on and I recorded the episode to see them. The show was bizarre. Dave made a phone call to a woman in an office building across from his and talked to her for a while. I loved it.

When Dave moved to the 11:30 slot on CBS on August 30th, 1993 – the eve of my 15th birthday – I watched the inaugural episode and was delighted by a reference in the opening monologue to Ringo Starr. I didn’t get to be a regular viewer of the show in high school though. I was quite the insomniac, but 11:30 was still pretty late when I had to be up at 6 in the morning.

My Late Show Hoodie which doesn't fit very well anymore. I wear it in the morning sometimes.

My Late Show Hoodie which doesn’t fit very well anymore. I wear it in the morning sometimes.

By the time I got to college, I never missed the show. Never. I had a streak that lasted probably 7, maybe 10 years. I was really upset that when I went to study abroad in England that I would miss three months of shows. But he was on there too, just a day behind and an hour earlier (or maybe later). The night I arrived in town, Paul Simon was the guest.

Sarcasm has always been my kind of humor. I’d say I knew that by middle school, well before most of my peers had caught on. And some people never catch on to sarcasm, but for me, Dave was my guy. Self-deprecating, sharp, and assured. I saw Larry King interview Dave and he talked about not going to parties. Here’s the transcript:

KING: You don’t go to parties. You shy away from parties.

LETTERMAN: I never went to parties, even when I was in school.

KING: I know, but why?

LETTERMAN: I don’t know. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to go to parties. I’m my own party, Larry.

KING: Do you like aloneness?

LETTERMAN: No, not necessarily. I’m very happy with the way my life is. I’m just not driven, drawn, motivated to go to parties. I’m in show business, you’re in show business; let’s go out and buy socks.

As a college student who had no interest – and I mean zero – in going to parties, I loved that someone as famous and smart as Dave shared the same mindset. He didn’t just provide my kind of humor, he seemed like my kind of guy. I really was quite the insomniac for a very long time, and I used to joke that whether I saw the show or not, I couldn’t fall asleep until 12:35. It was one of those funny but true bits.

I got this postcard on "The Ave" in college, when the winter Olympics were on CBS. I can't remember if I bought it or if it was free.

I got this postcard on “The Ave” in college, when the winter Olympics were on CBS. I can’t remember if I bought it or if it was free.

Over the past several years, the diligence of my watching went down. With a small child and sometimes work, it wasn’t something that fit my schedule. That pesky insomnia went away and if I did tune in, I was usually out before the monologue was finished. Perhaps most importantly, times changed, as they are wont to do, and broadcast television is something that I’ve almost completely eradicated from my life. Dave wasn’t easy to watch online. The Colbert Report, at a half an hour and offered up with a few hour delay on Hulu, was. (By the way, I am so excited that Colbert will be taking over this spot, and I think he’s the right man for the job, but it is sad that in so many ways the new show will be less accessible to me than the old one on cable.)

I fought back sleep to watch Dave’s final episode and lamented that my dream to see him in person vanished without my consent. Dave truly was an integral part of my life for a very long time, and I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through college or the early days of having an infant without him. Even though I was not watching him as much as I used to, I’m kinda mad and pretty sad he won’t be there anymore. It’s change. And Dave and I, we don’t like change.

My "Late Show" mug, the same kind that was on Dave's desk.

My “Late Show” mug, the same kind that was on Dave’s desk.

“Any enormous, uprooting change in my life has petrified me. Really petrified me. But once I’ve come through the other side, the reward has been unimaginable.” – David Letterman


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My Three-and-a-Half Year Old

With a whopping three of them already behind me, I think of the -and-a-half  updates as the slowest time of the year, what with the last three months being the dead of winter. And yet, as always, a lot of stuff happened this quarter.

Long shadows on a short winter day.

Long shadows on a short winter day.

Continue reading

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My Annual Oscar Post – 2014 Edition

All right, y’all know the deal by now – I have only a passing interest in movies anymore, and the Oscars are nearly unwatchable. Blah, blah, blah, cranky old lady, get off my lawn! So I decided rather than ranting, I’d tell you about my favorite Oscar tradition. The one I always carry out whether I get to watch the Oscars, or whether my three-year-old is screaming at the top of her lungs to please, please, please let her watch anything else at all. Honestly, I had to agree with her. We settled on YouTube videos of Simon’s Cat.

So instead of an Oscar recap, I bring you pizza! I’ve been making my own pizza on Oscar night since I was a teenager, and as time has gone on, the pizza recipe has only improved. Our latest, most favorite incarnation is a recipe from Cook’s Country. Nothing out there compares. It takes advance planning, because the dough is required to rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours, but it’s worth it. It also makes a complete and total mess of the kitchen, but again, it’s worth it.

We divide the dough into three balls so we each get our own pizza.

We divide the dough into three balls so we each get our own pizza.

The beginnings of sauce

The beginnings of sauce

The endings of sauce. No stove top required.

The endings of sauce. No stove top required.

Dough rolled out and placed on pizza paddle.

Dough rolled out and placed on pizza paddle.

Pizza decorated and ready to go into the oven.

Pizza decorated and ready to go into the oven.

Pizza going into the oven.

Pizza going into the oven.

Pizza on the pizza stone.

Pizza on the pizza stone.

The piece de resistance.

The piece de resistance.

I hope you enjoyed your Oscar night as much as I enjoyed my pizza.

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My Writer

My favorite author Nick Hornby was recently in town promoting his new book, Funny Girl. You probably already know that I’m a massive Hornby fan, but if you need a primer on why, I turn you to my post from the last time he was in town promoting Juliet, Naked.

I hadn’t finished Juliet, Naked when I wrote that last piece six years ago. It is a beautiful novel. It is at the top of my Hornby list, and that is a very high position to occupy. I’d have to read them back to back, but Juliet might even beat out High Fidelity as my favorite Hornby work. Or, it might not be discernible. High Fidelity is about obsession and music in youth (20s). I was young when I read it. Juliet is about obsession and music as an adult (30s-40s), and I was an adult when I read it. High Fidelity introduced me Hornby. Juliet made me cry.

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My 2015 New Year’s Reflections

New Year’s resolutions seem to be just another thing that I don’t have the time or energy for any more. I know, generally, what I want to be like and what I want to get done, and I’ll get to it when I can.

So I wan’t interested in doing a resolution post this year, but I am sort-of interested in taking stock, in a totally non-crunchy way. This was one of those ‘learning’ years. Years in which a bunch of stuff blindsides you and you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take stock of what was broken and what wasn’t, and move on.

I made one big decision and had one big realization this year. The decision was to start teaching as a career, and to be clear, that came first. I’ve thought about teaching lots of times, and it was why I entered into a Master’s program in the first place, though I lost track of that goal very early on. When I took a short gig scoring standardized tests, there were a lot of things about that weird job that felt very right. The first thing you have to do before scoring the tests (I was scoring a 10th grade writing assessment) is learn the material on which the students were being tested. This couldn’t have made me feel more at home, for it was a lot like school. Then you had to learn how to internalize a rubric to score all the tests by the same criteria. This was more challenging than I thought it would be, and though I don’t think any rubric, especially one for a standardized test, is flawless, it was a worthy challenge. Finally, I had the chance to read really good papers, middle-of-the-road-papers, and bad papers, and in each case, I was sorry I couldn’t offer feedback to the kids. So this very short, very bizarre experience sent me walking back down the career education path.

The realization came much later. You could call it an epiphany, if you really wanted. After Shaun was laid off, we both sent out a flurry of resumes. I figured I’d be the first one to land a job, because I have a resume that lends itself to different fields and I talk a good talk in an interview. Plus, I didn’t need a career-type job the way he did, I just needed to earn some cash. I knew the job I found wasn’t a forever job and I knew that it was a somewhat boring job. I didn’t know I was walking into a complete and total disaster. I’ve had a few disaster jobs throughout my career, ones I hated and that didn’t last long. In each case, the job was very different than advertised, and the company was batshit insane. These dread-inducing jobs – I thought I’d seen the last of those. I thought they were a vestige of my younger, more vulnerable days. How on Earth did I get here, I wondered. Did I miss the warning signs out of fear of the flophouse, or was the employer that dishonest? A little fear, a lot of dishonesty. However, that’s when it occurred to me that there does not exist a job within the private sector that I would like. I’m not built for business. I’m an academic. I always have been and I always will be. And since I can’t afford to stay in school forever, that really leaves me one other option. Teaching.

And so I begin 2015 happily unemployed and returning to school, briefly, to obtain an ESL (English as a Second Language) certificate. That plus my Master’s degree should land me a job in community college. When I was looking for a teaching job this summer, without any actual teaching experience, I had several people suggest getting certified in ESL, and I sort of half-listened. But the more the idea bounced around in my head, the more it started to make sense. Hey, you know what you’re really good at, self? English. Hey, you know what you really enjoyed in college (outside of music), self? Learning a foreign language and linguistics. So I like the idea as a foray into teaching, that can then be leveraged into teaching other subjects, if I so choose.

The reflection part comes in that I don’t know if I would’ve come to this conclusion so quickly, and acted so quickly, if I wasn’t so miserable. I thought, after the gig this summer, that I would leisurely look for a teaching job and find just the right thing. Obviously that idea flew out the window and all of the unhappiness led to some fast and furious introspection. Misery is a breeding ground for introspection, which is why artists are so frequently miserable. Not that I wouldn’t like to be a great artist, but I am just so tired of being miserable.

I am really excited about all that I have planned for 2015. I don’t know why I kept straying off the education path. And I can only hope that I’ve called my calling correctly. I take refuge in a comment from a friend, “I definitely see you in a teaching role. In fact, now that you mentioned it, I can’t see you any other way.”

Neither can I. And that gives me a great deal of hope.

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My Best of 2014 – Addendum

I guess my mind was preoccupied because I forgot to add Pomplamoose’s 30 Rock to the best of 2014. It was one of my favorite songs of the year and definitely my favorite video. We also went to see Pomplamoose on tour in September which was pretty awesome (despite a pretty terrible, unfriendly-to-the-older-folks venue), and that should’ve been a highlight in my 2014 year-in-review. Yeesh, getting senile.

Pomplamoose Live!

Pomplamoose Live!

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My 2014 Year-in-Review

I’m not entirely sure I want to remember the last half of 2014. It just doesn’t seem like a lot of good things happened, and when one is writing or reading a year-in-review, I think one wants to write or read good things. Somehow, even though I am a perennial pessimist, I cannot help but think that all the bad things are just paving the way to a much better 2015. So here is a look back at 2014, warts and all. Continue reading

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My DSP 3 Playlist

The third installment of the DSP Playlist.

You Go Down Smooth by Lake Street Dive

All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor

30 Rock by Pomplamoose

We Belong Together by Randy Newman

December 1963 by The Four Seasons

One Belief Away by Bonnie Raitt

Here Comes My Baby by Cat Stevens

Goodnight, Sweetheart by The McGuire Sisters

Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel

Getting Ready for Christmas Day by Paul Simon

(Hey Now) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

Peg by Steely Dan

Six O’Clock by The Lovin’ Spoonful

Love Minus Zero/No Limit by Bob Dylan

It Must’ve Been Ol’ Santa Claus by Harry Connick, Jr.

Cocaine by Eric Clapton

Jennifer Juniper by Donovan

Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealer’s Wheel

We’ll Meet Again by Stephen Colbert

I’m Stepping Out by John Lennon

’39 by Queen

Lola by The Kinks

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jack Johnson

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

Hey Bulldog by The Beatles

Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin

You Can’t Do Me by Madeleine Peyroux

In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry

Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne

Ooh La La by Faces

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My DSP 3: Ooh La La

Song: Ooh La La

Artist: Faces

Year: 1973

Favorite Lyric: Poor young grandson, there’s nothing I can say
You’ll have to learn, just like me, and that’s the hardest way

Significance: The first comment underneath this song on YouTube says, “Rushmore brought me here,” and I’m thinking that’s probably what brought me here too. (Never read the comments on the internet. It’s such a long, deep rabbit hole of stupidity.) I think this is a really fun song, and it makes for a fitting end to DSP 3 and the year. Who wouldn’t like to start off the year with the knowledge of how it was going to end up, or just in general have a better understanding of themselves? Happy New Year!

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My DSP 3: Hey Julie

Song: Hey Julie

Artist: Fountains of Wayne

Year: 2003

Favorite Lyric: Why must I spend my time filling up my mind
With facts and figures that never add up anyway?

Significance: I thought this would be a fitting entry since I quit an Office Space/Hey Julie-type job just yesterday. Once upon a time, I thought a desk job was supposed to be a lofty goal, and now I don’t understand how people can stand it. The songs and movies that have infiltrated the culture seem to suggest that no one can, and yet somehow they continue to exist. So while I artfully implement a plan to not take any more sucky office jobs, you can listen to this song.


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