Announcement: I am not a tween.

Today I tried to listen to 5 Seconds of Summer. (5SOS, as the kids call them. I know this now! Hashtag relevant!)

…Why?

Because I like to punish myself musically with deliciously bad pop music from time to time? Perhaps.

Because I heard something last week about how this band might be bigger than One Direction, but I had no idea who they are, and this made me feel old and out of touch? More likely.

I say “I tried to” because I didn’t make it past the first song on their Spotify. But that 3:58 of nouveau boybanderyĀ did fill me with both nostalgia for my teenage self and definitive satisfaction in my current state ofĀ adulthood.

First of all: The album cover. Those jeans are so tight, they make my lower half go numb just looking at them. (In MY day, boy bands’ pants were so baggy you could store provisions in them for the long winter.)

5SOS_album_cover

“We can’t feel our feet, ladies.”

nsync-matching-overalls

“Hey, girl. I got room for you in my pants. I mean, not like that. but. you know. whatever.”

Second of all: The name. Think about it…five seconds. Leave it to teenagers to glorify such a short span of time. You have your whole life ahead of you; you have no idea what it feels like to have a Tuesday in June feel just like a Tuesday in Februaryā€”in terms of routine, if not weather. (Entirely possible the name has someĀ significance that I’m not grasping, but I don’t care to spendĀ the 5 Seconds of My LifeĀ it would take to google it and find out.)

ThirdĀ of all: The song. (Oh yeah! The music; that’s something.) The top single on Spotify today was “Amnesia” (see above.) And I’m pretty sure IT COULDN’T BE MORE MILLENNIAL IF IT TRIED. Observe:

The pictures that you sent me, they’re still living in my phone.
I’ll admit I like to see them, I’ll admit I feel alone.

OH THE FEELINGS! And OH the…unrelatable technological situations responsible forĀ those feelings. I had a cellphone in high school, butĀ the closest it got me to emotional anguish was bumping into my own tail during particularly tense rounds of Snake.

It’s not an original thought, I recognize, but I’m still ever so grateful that social media and smartphones didn’t exist in my formative years. Girls can beĀ mean. Boys are confusing. Online life makes those realities all the more immediate and unrestricted.

Kids these days,Ā is what I’m saying. Please pass me the clicker and an electric blanket. It’s almost time for “Murder She Wrote,” and I don’t like to miss my stories.

best worst idea

Just went running in the rain — yes, on purpose — and it really is the best worst idea. Not crazy / lightning / downpour style rain, of course. Just a nice little summer-night sprinkling.

And, man, it feels good!

Skittish about damaging my iPhone, I didn’t bring along any music. I hardly ever run without headphones now, but once upon a time, it was all I knew. I even ran my first half-marathon that way (2 whole hours, guys! how? why??) and it was my fastestĀ time so far, funnily enough.

Something about falling into the trance of the rhythm of my breath. Letting my mind wander where it wants to, without the helpful distraction of songsĀ or podcasts. It’s meditation. (And can also be maddening, don’t get me wrong. Have you noticed howĀ littleĀ time you spend alone with just your own thoughts? It’s a jungle in there!)

Within minutes I was transformed back to high school, in my earliest running days, looping the u-shaped pavement of our neighborhood, with nothing to listen to but my feet on the groundĀ and the air in my lungs. (Didn’t have a Discman. Those things were bulky, awkward, and still skipped. We can all admit this now. It’s time.)

I started running back thenĀ to “stay in shape” (hahahahaha. Shut UP, perpetually size-4 high-school me. Shut your DAMN. MOUTH.) and I got the bug for real my junior year of college, which is also the first time I ran with an iPod. A bulky, first-gen brick-sized item by comparison now, and I had to carry it becauseĀ I didn’t have an arm band or anything, but it was a revelation. (Didn’t hurt that it was my boyfriend’sĀ iPod. Is there anything better than a little voyeuristic love-drunk music-snooping? TheĀ Garden StateĀ soundtrack was in heavy rotation that year, I can tell you that much.)

photo (5)

There’s something so nice and freeing about a little rainy-day run. Leaving the house knowing I’m going to get rained on. Doing it anyway. When I first started running and writing about it, I was constantly finding little metaphors for life. I can’t help it! They’re right there! Tonight’s would beĀ something along the lines of: Don’t always shy away from the potentially messy or uncomfortable things. Those things can also end up being the most peaceful and fulfilling, and almost always a better decision than staying inside.

And also puddles. Puddles are also fun.

Practice makes perfect.

When I was in high school, if at any point my emotions started to boil over, I employed a small act of rebellion to blow off steam.Ā Instead of screaming or slamming doors or breaking fragile objects in those moments, I would grab my car keys and go for a drive. With no shoes on.

Barefoot driving was one of my earliest attempts at true self-assertion. I wasn’t going anywhere (Ozark and back, most likely) and I didn’t ask permission (huge transgression, ps.), but the risk of eventual trouble was absolutely worth it. For those few minutes, blasting the radio and gripping the steering wheel, I felt like I was in control.

(I think the barefoot part was just for dramatic flair. I’m so mad I don’t NEED shoes. I’m not GOING anywhere. I’m just DRIVING, damn it!!)

It felt so good.

…Tonight was a barefoot driving sort of night.

Feeling too restless to sleep / Facebook / cry / snack / go on a cleaning bender (my grown-up go-to steam-blowers), I worked out my emotions on Kearney Street.

Going nowhere, but still in control. Not a bad feeling at all.

When I got home, however, the restlessness returned. (You can drive away from your problems temporarily, but they stick around. Damn them.) So I turned to another old habit: the piano. I’ve dabbled here & there in the last few years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt the freedom of getting lost in music. Not thinking, just playing. Letting go and feeling in control at the same time.Ā Some measures sounded so pretty, I got mad about it.

It was a good time.

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My second grade recital piece, “Country Gardens” — (which made the occasional background appearance onĀ US AcresĀ fromĀ Garfield & Friends) — is my go-to party trick, not only because I can play it upside down. (For realizes. America’s Got Talent style.) I’ve had this song memorized for over 20 years, and I can still play it effortlessly, no matter how long it’s been. And it always makes me happy. Like I know something, even if that something is simple and small.

Playing “Country Gardens” tonight, I realized that if you asked me to write out the sheet music, I could probably do it, but it would take a long time. The notes are buried in my brain, and hardwired in my fingers, so muscle memory just takes over.Ā I imagine I’ll play that song on a tinny piano in a nursing home someday.Ā (When I’m 205 years old. Because of science.)

Music! A rediscovered storehouse for my restlessness. Now when I feel like boiling over, I won’t have to escape. I can make something out of that stirring in the night. Still barefoot. Different keys.