The life and times of me. Also known as: My quest to become more awesome.

Category Archives: The Glory Days

We went to a movie tonight with some friends (This Is the End, I highly recommend it) and they played a Backstreet Boys song at the end of it. It was good and all but it was not my favorite Backstreet Boys song.

My favorite Backstreet Boys song is I Want It That Way. It took me a long time to actually admit that openly because it is a boy band and I was not 13 when it was released. I was a senior in high school and I was a self-proclaimed music snob. I actively engaged (that should not be past-tense as I still engage in it from time to time) in music snobbery and I was probably a jerk to people about it on multiple occasions. Oh well. Anyway, that song came out when I was a senior and my brother and I used watch MTV after school. That video was on TRL for weeks and weeks and it was awesome. One day, I looked at my brother (also a bit of a music snob) and said, “Don’t tell anyone, but I secretly love this song.” He looked at me sheepishly and said, “Me too.”

Fast forward a few years and I’m working at Applebee’s waiting tables. There was some canned music pumped into the restaurant via satellite and they played the same songs over and over. I Want It That Way was one of them. And it was like magic. I used to stand near the bar when that song came on and look out at the restaurant at all the servers running around. Nearly everyone would get a little smile on their face and maybe start mouthing the words along with it.

Now as a 33 year old, it ranks among my favorite karaoke songs. I’m not embarrassed to admit how much I love it anymore. Because even though I still practice music snobbery, I’ve come to realize that some of the music I love is cheesy and not very good. Meh. I love it anyway. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch that video a few more times before I go to bed.


I’m starting a recurring post. Every Sunday from now on, I’ll be posting Tiny Happy Moments. It’s just my little celebration of some of the little things in life to be happy about. I think it’s good to take the time to notice the lovely small things because when life is hard, sometimes it’s just the little things that can pull you through.

Tiny Happy Moment for Sunday, May 19:
Hearing a song that you love for the first time in years.
It starts playing and even though you haven’t heard it in ages, you can still sing right along as though you heard it yesterday. It will take you back to the time when you first loved it and you’ll probably find it on YouTube and watch the video several times in a row because it makes you feel so good. Even if it is sad bastard music, it still makes you happy. JW says I’m addicted to nostalgia. So what if I am? It makes me feel good. Rediscovering music is awesome.

Have you rediscovered any music that you had forgotten about recently?

There are two people in my life who I would consider to be my best friends. I met them both while working at Applebee’s in my early 20s. This is the story of me and one of these friends. She has had a terribly rough year so far. I won’t go into specifics because that is her business and it is not mine to share. But suffice it to say, 2013 has been trying for her, to say the least. She’s one of the strongest people I know and I am so proud of her for the strength she’s shown not only for herself but for the people who depend on her as well. She is a rock. This is our story.

I started at Applebee’s when I was 19. I had recently dropped out of college and although I still had a decent amount of friends from high school around, they had other things going on. So I got this job and there was this raver girl with spiky, never the same color hair who worked there too. I thought she was a bitch. She was bossy and seemed to have inside jokes with others that always felt to me like she was making fun of me or someone else. Well, I don’t know if she was making fun of me or not (she most likely was – I was a new person – that’s just how it goes) but she was definitely making fun of other people. I know this because it wasn’t very long before I was in on the inside jokes (ha! I call them inside jokes but really we just terrorized the new people. Sorry new people! I’m a lot nicer now!) too. You see, we were both smokers and as all current and former smokers know, smoke breaks are where friendships are born. I quit years ago and I still lament over the loss of that friend-making device. Anyway, we started talking on smoke breaks and then we started getting scheduled expo shifts together. An expo shift together meant several drinks at the restaurant across the parking lot before said expo shift. We soon started hanging out all the time. We were young and therefore we thought we were not only above the law, but we were invincible (in our minds, anyway). I’m going to leave out a lot of details here because, you know, we did a lot of stupid (not to mention completely illegal) shit back in those days. But oh man, we had some fun. For years. And stories to last a lifetime.

Like a lot of friends, we drifted apart after a while. She started dating so-and-so and moved to a different town. I moved for a while too. We hardly spoke for several years. That all changed when I discovered MySpace. Thank Jeebus for MySpace (I can’t believe my fingers just typed those words but seriously, MySpace reunited me with one of my best friends and JW. The story of that is for another post.). I made myself a MySpace profile and started finding friends. It wasn’t long before I came across her profile (or she found me, I honestly can’t remember). We started chatting immediately. I remember her saying something like, “It’s so cool that you’re on here, I didn’t know if we’d ever get back in touch.” I wasn’t sure either. I missed my friend but by that time in my life (mid-to-late 20s by then), I’d had so many friendships just sort of naturally dissolve that I didn’t exactly sit around and pine over them. But it was awesome and it felt good to have her back. She lived about an hour and a half away from me but we started going to visit each other every once in a while. And it grew from there. She came to visit me once and we got matching tattoos. Now we’re tied. She’s seen me at my worst and she still loves me. Our lives aren’t filled with quite as many insane antics anymore. But that’s okay. We’re older now and slightly more responsible. And even though we don’t live very close to each other anymore, we’re closer friends than ever. We text each other nearly every morning. I look forward to that. She makes me laugh like almost no one else can.

So here’s to you, friend. I can’t wait to be the loud old ladies drinking perfect margaritas at 11 AM and demanding oriental salads at Applebee’s (because we are gonna HAUNT that place). Being The Golden Girls together is going to be the best!

One of my favorite websites to read is xojane. It is smart, touching, funny, helpful, and a million other adjectives that I’m having trouble coming up with right now. Truthfully, reading the articles on it had a large part in me starting this blog. I read it daily and follow a bunch of the writers on twitter (you can follow me if you’d like: @runbakelove). Today, while perusing the website, I came across this article. It’s about nostalgia and the Spice Girls and it’s funny and you should read it. The part that stuck out for me though, was when she says at the beginning that she thought anything British was way cooler than anything in the US. I thought so too. Sometimes I still do.

My British obsession started in high school, probably somewhere around the tenth grade. I already loved the Beatles and all of a sudden there was Oasis. I. Loved. Oasis. I still do. There is nothing like a little Don’t Look Back In Anger to get me into full-on sing-along mode. My friend Eric and I would go to Tower Records in East Lansing and pick up all of the British release-only singles and their boxed sets and videos and magazines featuring them. Noel was the songwriter and the one with a better voice and Liam was the sex god. I can still sing along with nearly every single song of theirs (at least the early stuff – not so much the later releases). I’m going to turn on Spotify and listen to it right now, in fact. Get ready JW. I’m about to belt out some shit.

Anyway, my Oasis obsession was only the beginning of my Brit-love. It lead to other things; books, movies, music, anything pop culture. Eric and I poured over it and absorbed it. Eric used to go to parties in college and pretend to be from England and see how many people would believe him. I pined over British celebrities and rock stars.

Over time, the obsession faded. It wasn’t anything I thought about constantly anymore. Sure, I still have Englishman crushes and whatnot but it doesn’t consume my life. Most of the time anyway. I still catch myself sometimes. After a sort of rotten breakup right before I graduated college, I thought for a while about trying to find a job there. Never mind that Florida ended up being too far away from my family. I don’t know what I would have done with an ocean between us. Every year at Christmastime I watch Love Actually and wish I had been born there. Everyone’s sense of humor is so dry and awesome. I watch Doc Martin on PBS. The London Olympics over the summer really didn’t help either. I’m already an Olympics junkie but stage it in England? Heaven. My newest bit to daydream over has been one of the contributors on xojane, Natalie. She uses awesome slang and writes about very British things. I love it. And I’ve always loved the accents. Don’t even get me started on those. Also, if you know me, you know that I am ghastly white year-round. The climate there would suit me well, I believe.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of where I’m from and I love my friends and family. I think everyone has their daydream place in their heads. Most normal people would probably choose maybe someplace tropical. Not me, man. Well. Maybe sometimes. Usually though, it’s dreary old England, the magical land of dry and raunchy humor, boobs on network tv, and royalty. Someday I’ll go.

You know, I just don’t have fun like I used to. I’m not saying I never have fun. I do. I definitely do. I’m not some prude, you know. But I definitely don’t pull the shit I used to pull. And actually, in this story, it wasn’t even me who was the instigator. But oh, man. I’ll never forget this night.

It was 2002 (or something like that – I honestly can’t be entirely sure). Some friends and I went out to get some beers and wings at a local bar. It was me, my BFF, S, her boyfriend, A, and our other friend, T. T, at the time, had super long hair which she had pulled up on top of her head and was wearing a super fuzzy sweater that night (remember this fuzzy sweater thing).

Side note: Have you guys ever lit your socks on fire? Like if they’re a little fuzzy, and you just hold lighter near your heel and then your whole sock goes up in flames just for a second and then goes out? No? Well. My friends and I did. All the time. It was such common practice, in fact, that no one even lifted an eyebrow at it. And it was nothing to worry about because the fire was out in less than a second.

Anyway, like I said, we’re all sitting there at this table – I’m sitting directly across from A and T and S and sitting across from each other. We were a few beers deep each and having an awesome time. Laughing, getting buzzed up, you know, being young and hanging out.

S had been fidgeting with a lighter all night. Then (and I’ll never forget this – when I think of it now, it plays in my head in slow motion), for reasons still unknown, S reached across the table and lit the lighter under the sleeve of T’s sweater. Oh my god, you guys. It went up so fast. T’s eyes got huge as we watched the flames encircle her arm, travel up to her shoulder, and then travel around the front and back of her sweater AT THE SAME TIME.

T was standing at this point. And flipping the eff out. A girl from the table next to her gets up and starts hitting her over and over with her purse. S, A, and I, being the wonderful friends that we are, sat in utter amazement at the flames that briefly engulfed our friend entirely, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. This is, until the girl started hitting T. That was too much. All of us erupted in laughter. A and I were laughing so hard we were literally crying. The flames were long gone, mind you. The whole episode, up one arm, across her whole torso, then back down the other arm was probably over in five seconds or less. T started crying too. Although hers were not tears of joy. She ran off to the bathroom, stinking of burned wool and singed hair. S took off after her (it was her doing, after all).

A and I stayed at the table and continued to laugh, all the while getting the stink eye from the girl who tried to snuff out the flames with her purse. I guess we were jerks. I don’t care. I’ve never seen anything so funny. T and S came back, and T was pissed! She wanted to go. Now. But we still had pretty much full beers left! So we stayed to finish. And she was stuck there because she rode with me (I told you, we were kind of jerks – but really, how many 22-year-olds do you know who aren’t?).

We finally left and I took T home. She threw out the sweater. It stunk. Like burned hair. She stayed mad at S for a while after that. After it all blew over, I tried to nickname T “Michael Jackson” (MJ for short). She wasn’t having it. Such a shame. That really was a sweet nickname to go to waste like that.

Now, S and A and I really aren’t heartless buttholes. If T had actually gotten hurt, I would not be telling this story like this. Or probably at all. But like I said before, lighting our socks on fire was something we did all the time and we knew her sweater wasn’t going to catch on fire and stay on fire. And anyway, how many of you can say that you watched one of your friends light another friend on fire at a busy bar only to watch some random slap her around with her purse to try to extinguish the flames? Probably not very many. Like I said before, the fire was out in five seconds or less and no one was hurt except for maybe T’s ego. And holy crap, was it funny. Ah, the glory days. You can’t ever go back, you know.