The Ataris

About a year ago, my husband created a blog called Youth Groups where he writes about bands he loved in high school, and then revisits their music to see what he thinks now, as an adult. It’s a neat concept, and I’ve had fun learning more about high school him (since we didn’t meet until college).

Today, I guest posted. My post is about my meaningful and deep love affair with the band The Ataris. They were everything to me.

So…check it out!

UPDATE: Kris, the lead singer, has apparently read my post. 16-year-old AND 29-year-old Lauren are both equally fan-girling LIKE CRAZY.

Challengers

When S and I were planning our wedding, we couldn’t decide on a first dance. We didn’t have a song that represented us, or signified a special moment or memory (well, we did have some, but they weren’t exactly slow songs). So, the music lover he is, S made me a mix CD of songs he thought would work, and I chose from them.

One of the songs was “Challengers” by The New Pornographers. He chose it specifically because of the following line:

“Whatever the mess you are, you’re mine, okay.”

This line was for me. I’m kind of a mess sometimes. Apparently I look really fine on the outside, but believe me, balancing a job and writing and, well, life, has its moments. I get frazzled. I talk to myself. I obsess over the smallest insignificant things. I’m moody. And I daydream constantly.

But here’s the thing – I’ve come to realize that this mess I am is perfect for writing. These things I daydream become scenes. These moments I obsess over become scenarios (loosely). These conversations I have in my head become dialogue. I’ve learned to channel my craziness into something. Granted, I’m still a mess often. I still forget to do the dishes. I still have random mood swings. But most of the idiosyncrasies S has become accustomed to I’ve learned to deal with.

Because in my head there are voices and there are characters just dying to come out. So I put my fingers on the keyboard and write them. I let their stories flow in ways they want. And sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t, and sometimes I Just end up with rubbish. But I guess, at least in the case of TNWSY, sometimes they become characters other people want to read about, too. My mess became something real and tangible. And the coolest, weirdest, most exciting thing is that one day you’ll get to meet these characters, too. They’ll be real to you, too.

We didn’t end up going with “Challengers;” despite the line, it just wasn’t right. We, instead, used R.E.M.’s “At My Most Beautiful” which really is quite beautiful and perfect for us. But it’s not that moment – that first dance – that I think best showcases our marriage. It’s every day. It’s him accepting me for the mess I am. Like the song says, it’s finding ways to make one another smile. Even at our worst. Even at our best.

Song Memories

I love when older songs come on the radio and transport me to another time in my life. When I was younger, different. I love how it’s always a surprise – though you can bet on a current hit being played 7,000 times an hour, you can never guess which song from a different year will break through, making the day of radio-lovers everywhere. (That is, unless the song is horrid.)

The other day, “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down came on. It’s not a great song. It’s not a song I still play  on my iPod (actually, there weren’t iPods when that song was released), and it’s not a song I’m like “YES IT’S ON!” when it is, in fact, on. But it came on. And I was 17 again.

Three of my friends and I were going to see 3 Doors Down live at Hard Rock Cafe, here in Orlando. We were excited. Three of us were a band at the time, too, an all-girl band that had two (yes, two) whole gigs. We were not good.

We decided to do something crazy before the event, so we bought Manic Panic hair dye and and put red streaks in our hair. My hair was so dark you could barely tell, but still. I felt cool. I felt punk rock.

Before the show, we went back to our school because we were all called back for a play our drama department was putting on. (The drama department we, incidentally, ran, as we were all officers. I was president. See how punk rock I was?) We acted out a few scenes, each for different characters. The newbies were there, and I felt so amazingly awesome. Because here I was, coming in with the other old-timers, with this amazing kind-of dyed hair. And all these newbies were trying to be us, and it felt weird and neat all in one. So we did our auditions, each for different roles, and left with an excited cheer for the show.

Truth is, I don’t remember the show much. But what I do remember is feeling there, in the middle of the show, with my friends. With my hair. With this feeling that anything was possible. We were going to be famous musicians, actors. We were going to run the world.

I don’t talk to the girls all the time anymore, though we’re all still connected. Only one of us got the role in the show, and she, incidentally, is the only one still acting. The rest of us went on to become PR specialists and BBC journalists and, for me, librarian writers.

So when the song came on, I didn’t think of the gig. But I thought of the excitement we all shared, the power and freedom and friendship. The moment when we thought we were so cool we could accomplish anything.

And I smiled.

Music in Books – THE DISENCHANTMENTS

After reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, my first reaction was “That was AMAZING.” My second was “I need to make a mixtape.” It’s true; music played such a huge roll in that book, I felt compelled to hear the songs Charlie heard, so I rushed to Napster (kind of dates how old I am, doesn’t it) and downloaded every song mentioned in the book. I still have the mix CD. It’s fantastic.

I haven’t really been inspired to do that again…that is, until I read The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour. About a not-so-great girl band touring the Pacific Northwest, the book has it all – road trips, small towns, coming of age, and music, music music. After first reading the description, I knew the book was for me…and after actually finishing the book, I know I was right to assume that. I really quite loved it.

Colby and Bess had a pact since the end of middle school – once high school ends, they’re taking a year off and exploring Europe. But as they set off on Bess’s band’s tour, Colby learns Bess doesn’t plan on leaving with him anymore. She wants to go to college. What follows is Colby learning where everything went wrong, and figuring out what’s right for himself. There are realizations, basement gigs, kisses, photographs, graffiti, wrong turns, and everything else that makes road trips great.

So once finishing the book, I had to find all of the music that framed it – the songs by Sleater-Kinney (of which I already had), The Runaways, Heart, The Supremes. As it turns out, technology got the best of me. Apparently a playlist has already been created on Spotify.

And how cool is that? With books and technology changing, what a neat way to keep up with the times.

That said, I highly recommend The Disenchantments if you’re looking for a fantastic coming of age young adult novel. And while you’re out it, check out the playlist to soundtrack your reading experience.