Posted in books, Lancient History, music, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Reading John and Feeling Groovy


Groovy and quite pleasurable.

I really didn’t expect much from John Taylor’s memoir.  Maybe it was because Andy Taylor had already dished all the dirt in his tell-all, a couple of years ago.  Maybe it was because having been a long time, fairly well plugged-in stan, I didn’t think there was much John could tell me that I hadn’t already heard.  Maybe it was because I’m still mad at him for not coming to sign me out of 9th grade Algebra, saving me from the fate of Mrs. Potts and all that x+y=wtf tosh she was trying to stuff into my head. 

 

I can tell you exactly what I expected from In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran.  I expected to read about John’s childhood, with some minor foreshadowing of what would turn him to drug use, then abuse.  I expected him to talk about the fun of the band (Duran Duran, in case you were born post-1990), the excesses of the band, and how much for granted he took their success.  I expected him to talk about hitting rock bottom, finding The Process, trusting it, and then getting a second chance at the brass ring.  I expected him to talk about deferred gratitude and his current, happy life.  

 

I was exactly right.  He covered all that, and no more.  But, I had expected it to be only moderately readable, full of navel gazing and platitudes. I was exactly wrong there.  It was an easy, enjoyable read and turned out to be introspective, and interesting. I did not expect the book to be so thoughtful, sweet, and kind. 

 

Where Andy’s book was lighting people on fire and daring them to stop, drop, and roll, John’s book was gentle with the lives that touched his.  Where Andy’s book was about how awesome he was, John’s book was about how hard he worked, and how fortunate he was to connect with wonderful, like-minded workers.  Where Andy’s book blamed the world, John’s book accepted responsibility for his own behavior. 

 

I told a friend, after reading the first few chapters, that it was “a lovely book.”  It really is.  It is a book that his daughter should be proud to read, that his various exes can read without worry, that his current wife can read with delight, that his coworkers and friends can read and smile, and that a longtime fan can read and enjoy as though they were finally getting that sit-down with the Bass God that they’d always wanted. 

 

What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in lyrical quality.  It isn’t about facts and figures, so much as it is about overall impressions.  John gives you a feeling for the times, writes you into the atmosphere of the clubs, the craziness, and the driving work.  When he has to talk about people, he finds their best. 

 

Like I said, it is a kind work. My favorite things about the book are the way he gives insight into the mind of a success.  No room for failure, only plans to succeed.  I enjoyed reading about how he approached relationships (if you’d like a peek into the mind of how men look at romance…) and I loved how respectfully he treated his daughter’s mother. 

 

I would liked to have read more about the lean years between Medazzaland and Astronaut.  I’d like to have read about his foray into film and television.  I’d like to have read more about his time as a solo artist, the process that went into writing his solo albums and how that changed him as a group-based artist. 

 

As a memoir for Duran Duran fans, it is a great, nostalgic read.  I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh, that was the year Jamie and I were junior counselors.”  “Hey, Karen bought me that for Christmas one year!”  “I still remember the first time I heard that on the radio.” 

 

As a memoir for John Taylor fans, I feel like it could have been twice as long.  I’d like to have read more about the sober artist, feeling his way around himself and the world, finding ways to create and contribute, and be relevant as an adult, than the Tiger Beat, Brummie born boy with burgundy bangs.  I am especially interested in that now, having read how sweetly he wrote this book. 

 

If Andy’s book was a Screamo song, shouted at the Duranies, John’s is a lullabye sung to us. 

 

4 out of 5 stars if you’re a Duranie

 

3 out of 5 if you’re not

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Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Lancient History, Women

It is Only Funny if I am Laughing–Not if I am Yelling


I told you a funny story involving a half-dressed man at my desk, so now I will tell you a story that I keep hoping will become funny in retrospect, but still hasn’t.  Some of you will have heard the story before. 

I was working for a company, and had a superior who was inappropriate about 60% of the time.  If he wasn’t being outright inappropriate, he was serving up the innuendo.  I was at about a 50/40/10 split of trying to deflect with humor, or saying some version of, “You are making me uncomfortable,” or just pretending not to have heard/understood what I had heard.

There came a day when this superior grabbed me in a headlock and ground his pelvis into my backside.  He ground himself so hard against me, that I could feel his junk.  I struggled and howled, and he thought this was funny, and he held me tighter and ground harder.  When I did wrench myself free, he was laughing and telling me to calm down, and I was doing nothing of the sort. 

I walked away to compose myself, and when I got back into my area (which was full of people for a staff event being held at that time), I tried to keep away from him.  He was having none of that, and kept forcing himself next to me.

I went home, told B what had happened, and didn’t go back.  Then came the process of having to explain to people of varying importance why I wasn’t going back, and being informally deposed by men, in a roomful of men, a group of which kept insisting that a) it had been a poorly delivered joke, but a joke nonetheless, b) that I had misunderstood the intent, and c) that I must have imagined part of it because that superior would never, ever do anything untoward. 

My short answer was repeatedly, “I don’t think I could misunderstand his penis grinding against my buttocks.”

Having someone–someone who directly controlled my finances–assault me was one thing.  Having to sit and be told that this person thought it was just a joke to assault me, and having to sit and be told that I had imagined being in a headlock while someone ground his pelvis into my backside was something else entirely.  And having to do it with only men in the room–men who (save for the one who was representing me) had the best interest of the company and the company’s bottom line at heart–was like having my face rubbed in a big, hairy, corporate crotch.

I hate confrontation, but I’m no wilting plant when it comes to standing up for myself.  Ask any HR department…ha!  I also had two or three things on my side that meant I had legs to stand on, should my chair be kicked out from under me–one of those things being a husband who had a good job.  I worry for women who are less able to confront, who don’t have the luxury of the Father-in-Law I have, and who aren’t married to spouses who can make ends meet until they find another job.  I worry for women who are truly at the whim of the smegma who think it is funny to sexually harass their underlings.

I worry.

Now, though, to cleanse the palate, I will leave you with a list of things that have become funny in retrospect–actually, these things were pretty funny when they happened.  Funny=not threatening, by the way.  As long as it isn’t threatening, it can be funny.

  • The time a boss who was wearing pantyhose, but no panties, pulled her skirt up and asked me if it looked like her thighs were rashy.
  • The time I walked in on a manager fondling a coworker’s new, naked breasts.
  • The time a coworker came up, bit me on the neck and said, “That’s how I ask girls out.”
  • The time my boss’s wife called me from the bathtub to tell me how sexually satisfied her husband (my boss) had just left her, only to have him come around the corner whistling.  I literally fell out of my chair onto the floor, trying to avoid eye contact with him.  He thought I was a moron.
  • The manager who used to walk up behind me and sit her belly on top of my head.  For fun?  I don’t know.  Nothing quite like being Fat-Hatted in the middle of writing an email.

 

Posted in etiquette, Lancient History, Style

Getting Dressed


In one of my offices, when I worked for the church, I sat in a cubicle as a gatekeeper to the corner office and the office next to it.  Three walls of my cube were solid (one of them made up of the wall of the secondary office), and the third was glass.  As the light fell, if you stood outside the glass, you had a great mirror view of yourself.  But, because of how my cube was situated, you would never know this unless you were a frequent visitor to the Corner Office–and most of those visitors weren’t thinking about their hair.

There was a smaller office to the other side of the corner office, and the guy who worked in that office was notorious for being late to work, flying in like his tail was on fire.  To save himself some time in the morning, he would wear his tight, white undershirt (yes, I noticed) and bring his dress shirt and tie on a hanger, rush in, then stand in front of the glass of my cubicle and use it for a mirror to put on his shirt (unbuckling his belt and undoing the top button on his trousers so he could tuck the shirt in), and tie, and brush his hair. 

Now, he was a really, really good looking guy (and a really nice guy outside of this one thing), so it isn’t like the view was bad.  There are worse things than Brad Pitt getting dressed in front of you, right?  But it annoyed me.  Maybe because Brad Pitt isn’t my type?  If it had been Sean Connery…never mind.  That would have gotten me fired.

I was annoyed.  I was annoyed that this guy was standing fewer than 3 feet away from me, putting on clothes that he should have had on before he walked in the door.  I was annoyed that this guy was standing fewer than 3 feet away from me, undoing his belt and trousers.  I was annoyed that this guy would come out of his office to preen in my window.  I was annoyed at his refusal to take his reverse strip tease into the men’s room–where there was a real mirror.  And I was annoyed at his suggestion that the reason I was annoyed is because I was tempted to sin* by his show, and how pearl-clutchy he became when I asked how he would deal if I stood in his door in my slip and proceeded to put on my dress, jewelry, and fix my hair. 

After literal months of this behavior, I finally printed out a sign that read “No Preening Zone” and taped it to the glass at his eye level.  He lost his mind over that and we had a rather heated argument.  One of the hottest arguments I’ve ever had in a workplace, actually.  Though he never did stop checking out his reflection and using my glass as a place to fix his hair and check his eyebrows, he did start getting dressed in the men’s room.

My advice for the day:  Get dressed before walking into the office.  No one wants to see your underclothes, be they tshirts or tighty-whities.

*The only sin I had been tempted to commit was using God’s name in vain to tell him to take his g-dd-mned morning routine out of my face.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Lancient History

Sleep, Struggling, and Shame


Remember when you could sleep like this?

 

My childhood came before seatbelts were mandatory in cars, much less carseats for children.  I spent my toddlerhood standing on the bench seat of our car, beside my mother, tucked behind her shoulder, or sitting in her lap, or, when I was just too wiggly, in the backseat tumbling like a tumbleweed.  I’m glad for carseats now.  Especially since cars are so much dinkier than they used to be.

I love that picture.  Kiddos run and run, like puppies, until they just stop, flop over, and fall into the exhausted innocence of their sleep.

I should be asleep right now, but I am going to see the dentist tomorrow, and you all know about my dental anxiety.  Can’t sleep.  Crowns will eat me.  That’s my motto for the night.

What else?  I watched the Katy Perry movie and wanted to put her in my pocket.  Even though I realize I am being manipulated by a media machine, it is a happy manipulation.  I found myself truly smiling in several places, and dang if I didn’t shed a tear for the girl when her marriage ended.

I was a fan of Russell Brand’s until I read his second book, and then I thought, “This is a person who wants someone else to fix him, but does not want to do any of the work to fix himself, and does not want to take responsibility for keeping it fixed.  This is a person who wants a minder, or a nanny, or a valet.”  And I felt sorry for Katy Perry because it was clear that as soon as he realized she hadn’t fixed him, he was going to be moving on.

Fixing is funny.

I wrote a long, long post earlier about how embarrassed and ashamed I used to be of the fact I had hoarded so much clothing (even saving things from junior high long after I was past college, while still buying compulsively), and how that hoarding had led to me being nearly buried in my own wardrobe.  I wrote about how my friend Stephanie came over to help me declutter and organize, how she came over to fix me.  But what Stephanie fixed was the symptom of my problem, not my problem, so within weeks of her decluttering my space, I had destroyed it once again.  (I will always be thankful for what Stephanie tried to do to help me.)

Me, sitting in a mountain of clothing. Stephanie had come to help me. I was pretending I thought it was funny. Otherwise it was just too mortifying.

I had to learn to let go of things.  I had to learn to part with and separate myself from the physical wall I was using to protect myself from things both in and outside of me.  I had to find the root of my problem (which was fear), and I had to work it out.

I still struggle with compulsive shopping.  Even if it is just picking up $1 bin items.  It is very difficult for me to go into a store and buy just exactly what I went in to get.  I am much, much healthier about it than I once was, though.  Now, I might compulsively buy myself a coffee.  I haven’t been on a mad spree in over a decade.

I’ve been hunting for that picture for a while, wanting to post it.  I used to be incredibly ashamed of it.  I’m not proud of it now, but I can look at it and see a girl who was struggling, and a girl who needed help–not a nasty, lazy girl.  No one lives like that because they like living that way.  They live like that because something is wrong.  Happily, I am a woman who sought help, and am a hundred times healthier.

Now, if I could just convince myself to go to sleep…

 

 

Posted in Beauty, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Lancient History, work

Pink Cadillac


JEZEBEL!

I have been waiting to tell you guys about this until it posted, but, er…  It was posted on July 31 and I missed it!  I saw it today, and I am telling you about it now.  Jezebel ran my story of having been an Early 90s Mary Kay Lady.

1992 was a VERY bad year for me.  Ha!  My time as a Mary Kay Lady was just a great, big, pink cherry on top.