Monday, June 23, 2008

Caren Explains Her Old Journal

Thursday was my last day at Paste.

It feels strange to even write that. Four years come and gone so quickly, with so much having transpired in between. (I'll have to write another post-Paste blog later when I'm not on a dial-up connection)

While I was cleaning out my file cabinet I found an old journal -- the one I kept in the summer and fall of 2003, during my mission work in North Dakota, my internship at MTV, and my semester abroad in London. I went from an Indian reservation to Times Square to a shoebox-sized flat in London, all within a 3 month timespan. As someone who abhors change, this phase of my life proved to be the most challenging and terrifying, and consequently, the most defining and rewarding one.

When I reread the journal it was surreal. In some ways, I think I was more profound and self-aware at 20 than I am now. But then I'll come across a passage where I clearly had no faith in my future or in God's will or in myself, and think, 'How could you be so naive to think things wouldn't work out?'

And they did work out, brilliantly. I got to have my dream job -- the one I described in an undergraduate college application. I also met incredible, hard-working people along the way and am now blessed with lifelong friends. There were also times when I was pushed to my intellectual and emotional limits, but am now stronger for it. I have seen the dark underbelly of entrepreneurship, the importance of "corporate responsibility" in mega-companies, and how hard it is to be an adult... how hard it is to care so much.

Reading my journal was also strange because I felt so much calmer than my old self, and much more confident and excited for the unknown successes and challenges to come. Not to say that I'm not sad to see these other parts of my life expire. It is devastating.

But one thing I can take away from the past five years, and the journal entries I wrote those years ago, is that things always work out as they are supposed to. I have to remind myself that I only have the little snapshot, when God has the big picture.

And I can't wait to see what develops.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Caren Cleans Her Car

Yesterday I cleaned my car.

This was a huge ordeal but a necessary one, especially after Gigi (my car) got stuck in the mud at 3:15am on Saturday morning in the Bonnaroo parking lot. The next day it was still covered in this thick mud, both on the inside and outside of the car.

You would never guess what I found in the trunk and backseat (both now completely empty) so I'll go ahead and tell you, then we can all have a laugh at my expense...

- 85 CDs in their jewel cases
- 15 pairs of high heels and flip flops (even a pair of Jellies)
- 10 tubes of oil paint
- 7 Christmas cards I meant to mail in 2006
- 4 pairs of scissors
- 3 sweatshirts
- The Audacity of Hope and The World Is Flat
- 1 air filtration unit
- 1 neon green Paula Abdul slap bracelet

... oh, and a Red Cross Emergency Survival kit... though with all of the stuff above, I'm sure I could've played MacGyver and survived on my own, using the slap bracelet as a tourniquet.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thanks to a nap I'm hangin tough at Bonnaroo for My Morning Jacket's 12am-3am set. There is so much walking and crowd shuffing that the exhaustion will sneak up on you, kinda alike the sunburn stripe I have on my forehead. But this set is energizing! Jim James is covering James Brown, backed by horns and his tight band. Metallica's guitarist sat in for "One Big Holiday" too and shredded it like he wrote the freakin song.

Quite an end to the day, onein which I saw a joyful Glen Hansaard make The Swell Season a festival standout. !!! was fantastic too, with on stage charisma similar to that of Of Montreal. Rilo Kiley also impressed and I realized while taking in their set that "A Better Son/Daughter" might be the soundtrack to my life in recent days (well, maybe just the chorus and not the lyrics about the mother being high all the time). I wonder if I could pull off Jenny Lewis bangs? And learn to play guitar like her? The songs are keyed right for my voice... hmm, maybe I should stick to what I know.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lessons From Bonnaroos Past

I'm currently in Manchester, TN, for my third Bonnaroo experience. Unlike Rachael, my excitement for Bonnaroo does not translate into the kind of anxiety that requires me to curl up in the fetal position or overrun the falafel vendor. That is because I now know that Bonnaroo is a game of survival. To get the most out of it, you have to be prepared. Sunscreen, hand sanitizer, granola bars, sweatshirt for chilly evenings, good attitude, phone charger... read press bios in advance, know the line-up, walk around like you own the place...

Here's a recap of previous experiences.

2005: Helped distributed 8,500 copies of the magazine across the site; walked 132 miles (rough approximation) to get across the site and distribute said magazines. Discovered Sweetwater Beer. Lost phone... this would be the first of many times this happened in my adult life. Saw Iron & Wine for the first time and had a quasi-life-changing experience.

2006: Took a year off. Still shuttering from memories of Bonnaroo 2005 and subsequent exhaustion.

2007: Went for 36 hours but did way too much in those few hours. Camped and discovered a whole new world called Tentaroo where people miraculously wander back to their tents while on substances of various origins. Waited 3 hours to see Flaming Lips and watched people around me pee in the grass to avoid losing their coveted spots in the front of the crowd. Allergy attacks (big attacks). Mistook John Paul Jones of Led Zep for John Bell of Widespread Panic (big mistake).

So that brings us up to speed. Last night I interviewed Lez Zeppelin, which does not make up for my mistaking Led Zeppelin for Widespread Panic, but it's a step in the right direction.

Can't wait to see what this year holds.

Friday, June 06, 2008

J.K. Rowling's Harvard Haters

Photo by Robert Spencer for NPR

Thanks to Katie for bringing me this NPR story about J.K. Rowling's keynote speech at Harvard's commencement.

Can she come back in 2010?!? I would be THRILLED to hear J.K. Rowling speak!

But not everyone shares this enthusiasm...

"I think we could have done better," shrugged computer science major Kevin Bombino. ..."You know, we're Harvard. We're like the most prominent national institution. And I think we should be entitled to … we should be able to get anyone. And in my opinion, we're settling here. "

You know what I think, Kevin? You're like the reason that, like, recruiters are hesitant about hiring graduates of the "most prominent national institution." And I think we should be entitled to slap you. And in my opinion, NPR just did. Snap!

Okay, maybe that's harsh. But yikes! As Jason Mraz once told our office, "Practice graciousness!"

Props to 10-year-old Allister Beeson for this excellent commentary:

"That was a terrible thing to say! They're just a bunch of Muggles!"

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Caren Explains "The Trapeze Swinger"

Last weekend I drove to North Carolina to spend time with the bride-to-be, Becky! It was a long ride (up and back), but luckily I had some good men in the car to keep me company: Ryan, Elliott, Jeremy and Sam (aka Iron & Wine).

Iron & Wine melts my heart. When he played in Atlanta a few weeks ago, he opened with "The Trapeze Swinger," a song I had never heard before. I cannot get over how beautiful and slightly devastating it is, especially live (the album cut -- clocking in at 9 minutes 32 seconds -- is found on the In Good Company soundtrack).

After some sleuthing I was able to track down a crystal-clear recording from the 9:30 Club (in my hometown!) but it can only be streamed through the trusty ol' Hype Machine... regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

LISTEN: Iron and Wine - The Trapeze Swinger
READ: Lyrics

Please, remember me
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin
The time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill
And up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range
A piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention...

Read the rest

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Caren Explains What Not to Do As a Parent

People watching is the best free hobby on the market. I love picking up on mannerisms, accents and behaviors.

What I don't love? The growing realization that there are a lot of crazy adults in the world... particularly parents.

Here's what I've learned this week from observing parents:

1. No matter how cute your baby is, it is never acceptable to change his diaper in a restaurant... next to people who are eating food. ("Wow, I got a whiff of that!" you say? Well, so did I... that's why restaurants come equipped with -- wait for it -- bathrooms!)

2. Don't ruin your family vacation by reminding your children how expensive it is... that's a one-way ticket to a post-adolescence guilt complex.

3. Just because your kid is attached to a child leash doesn't mean you can stop watching him... particularly at malls where escalators look like amusement park rides. Better yet, don't attach your kid to a child leash.

4. Don't critique your teenager's looks with an Anthropologie clerk... oh wait, I saw that on SNL (listen for the Decatur, Georgia, reference!)