Wednesday, October 27, 2010

While Waiting For Donnie....

I swore when I set out to blog several weeks ago that I would leave my obsession with boy bands out of the blog.  No need for people to believe I'm crazier, then they already know me to be.  However, the story of my guilty pleasure, how it came to be, and where it has evolved won't leave my head and seems to want to be written down.

Most people who know me are aware of my obsession with the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB for those of you who are unaware of the shorten version of their name).  It started  back in 1990, when I was eleven years old.  I was late to jump on the New Kids band wagon, they had already been around for several years, and were in the fact close to being on their way out.  It really isn't necessarily weird that a young girl on the verge of being a teenager would developed an obsessions with a boy band.  In fact it is quite common, boy bands being great distractions for the teenage mind.  I was no exception to this bug.  I quite quickly fell head over heals in love with the five guys and their music. 

Most people probably do remember the cultural phenomenon that they were, even if they aren't familiar with their music. However, a moment of quick recap may be in order, before I continue with the story.  The five members of the New Kids, are Jordan Knight, his brother Jonathan Knight, Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, and my personal favorite Donnie Wahlberg.  The five boys from Boston had many hits in the late eighties and early nineties "Hanging Tough," "Step by Step," "My Favorite Girl," and "(You Got It) The Right Stuff."  Just to name a few.  

To continue with the story as a certified "Block Head" (as their fans are known as) I quickly became obsessed with the New Kids.  Buying every issue of "Teenbeat" or any magazine that happen to have their picture on it (which at that time was every teen magazine in existence) I soon could tell you everything about all the members of the band.  I knew all of their middle names, all of their siblings names, their favorite colors, foods, and movies.  Every picture of the boys I could find were torn out of magazines and taped on my bedroom wall.  I dreamed about them at night.  And of course, I knew every lyric to every song that they sang.  I could talk about them all day, much to the dismay of my family, who I know I drove absolutely crazy.  I wrote the band letters professing my love.  For a while I had a fantasy of running away to Boston and joining the band as the only female singer. 

When I first started loving the band I was particularly in love with Jon Knight.  But, love is fickle and I went through phases of my favorite member changing on a daily basis.  Donnie Wahlberg of the band soon emerged as my absolute favorite, and I have been a "Donnie girl" ever since.

As stated earlier, I was a little late in discovering the New Kids and by the time I did they had already peaked in popularity and were on the way down.  Within a couple of years nobody cared about the New Kids any more, except me.  I continued to love them and dream of them.  In 1994, the group released what we all thought was the last album "Face the Music."  It is still perhaps my favorite album that they released, but it seemed that no one else thought so because no one but me had heard of the album and the guys were no longer on the cover of magazines. 

As time went learned never to mentioned to people that I still loved the New Kids if I didn't want immediate reticule to follow.  I took down their posters, but I secretly continued to listen to, and love their music.  Other boy bands started appearing on the music scene when I was in my late teens 'NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys most notably.  I liked their music, it was catchy and fun to listen to, and I'll freely admit that I bought their CD's.  However, I never thought they were even close to being as good as the New Kids were and I didn't bother to learn the names of the members of their bands. 

In my twenties, I started admitting to close friends that I had once been a block head.  People would smile and nod and occasionally go "oh me too, I had a sleeping bag with them on it."  And so life goes on after teenage crushes end.  However, it proved not to be over yet.

In 2008, I was driving down the road listening to the radio one day when "Hanging Tough" started playing.  I of course immediately turned the volume up to max and sang along.   After the song was done the DJ came on and stated "that was Hanging Tough, it has been twenty years since that song came out."  At this point I almost drove off the road out of shock.  Could it really be that long?  Twenty years, no way!  While contemplating this fact and the other more disturbing fact that I could be old enough to clearly remember something that was popular twenty years ago, I almost missed the next announcement that the DJ made.  The New Kids on the Block were announcing a reunion tour in the fall.  Again, I almost drove off the road, this time out of shear excitement.  

Living in a very rural area growing up, I never got a chance to see my favorite band in concert.  By the time I grew up and could drive myself to a concert, I thought that was a lost dream.  The reunion tour in the Fall of 2008 changed that misconception.  Not only that the boys released a new CD which I bought as soon as it was out.  I bought concert tickets for the show in Denver that fall, not only for me, but for my two best friends as well!

I would love to be able to blog the shear excitement and thrill of the show!  However, I think some feelings can not be conveyed in writing.  What I can say is I wasn't let down.  It was perhaps the most fun I have ever had and an amazing show!  Just to be in the same room with them made me want to scream and cry (both of which I did).  My friends who went with me had fun too, but have both said that the most fun was watching my face when the boys took the stage.  I'm sure it was priceless.  We went to a second show the following summer.

The amazing thing I found was that I wasn't the last die hard fan out there.  There are millions of us thirty-something women out there reliving our dreams from our teen years.   The New Kids On The Block, are not currently touring, but they haven't abandoned us again either.   All of the members are on Twitter (a social networking site, for those who may not be familiar with it).  The boys are constantly entertaining us with their tweets and their stories.  A few lucky blockheads are in regular contact with the boys through Twitter.  I am not one of these fans, not having figured out Twitter very well, and not really liking to use it very much.  I lurk and read the guys posts instead.  Every once in a while I try to come up with something cleaver to re tweet them, but I have yet to get a response.  It won't keep me from continuing to try to get a response though.  The current obsession in the New Kid world is where the hell is Donnie.  He posted two days ago that he had one more tweet till he hit his 25,000 tweet.  He hasn't tweeted that 25,000 tweet yet, but block heads (including me) are patiently awaiting his reply.  In the mean time #whilewaitingfordonnie is a trending topic.  Reading those posts are hilarious.  What have I done?  I have written this blog #whilewaitingfordonnie.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spelling: Not for the Feint... I mean Faint of Heart.

  As a child, in grade school, I struggled constantly with the overwhelming task of mastering the arrangement of twenty-six letters into the correct sequence of properly spelled words.  My family and teachers were constantly amazed that as much as I read, I could not master this seemingly simple and basic task.  My main problem with spelling was that every time I felt I had the rules for spelling down, the rules would change. 

The first thing every child learns when being taught to spell is to sound out the word.  No problem; cat c-a-t, bat; b-a-t. Okay, I've got this. What do you mean sometimes the letters are silent?  "Okay Kate, sound out the word "friend."  F-r-e-n-d, "frend", uh no there is an "i' in it. " What?  The rules of spelling confused me, and caused no end of anxiety to my child heart and mind.  I before E except after C, but no this is only true in the majority of cases.   Vowels in particular became my arch nemesis in the second grade, with there similar sounds, and the fact that many words have a silent "e" at the end.  I tried for awhile just putting an "e" at the end of all my words, figuring that since so many words had the silent "e" I would get the majority of them right.  Oh how wrong I was.  There was also the confusion of words that sounded similar: accept and except, than and then.  Don't even get me started on words that mean different things depending on how they are spelled. Red and read for example.  And my number one enemy the three T's: there, their, and they're.  Are you kidding me!  How, I asked, was I suppose to remember all these rules!

My mother tried everything she could to help me learn spelling.  I remember endless hours of grilling every week night after dinner, in order to prepare me for the weekly spelling test.  Generally these hours started and ended in tears. The end result would still be that I generally passed the spelling test with a C grade, which seemed doomed to follow me through out life, ruining my chances of going to college or functioning in society.

Then in third grade I was given the "Speak-n-Spell."  Oh miracles of miracles, the solution to my problem, make spelling into a game! I loved my speak-n-spell it's soothing monotone computer voice, "you-are-correct" was given with the same inflection of speech as "that-is-not-correct."  I was quickly able to master all 50 words that it had to offer in it's tiny database.   My grandmother had the idea that perhaps we could buy little computer chips in which we could download my weekly spelling lists each week.  It seemed like a reasonable idea, given the fact that I seemed to be able to learn using my toy.  However, try as she might my grandmother was never able to find the computer chips capable of doing this.  I'm sure today they would be available and maybe if they had been at that time my spelling headaches would have ended at the age of eight, instead of following me through the rest of my life.

It seemed like I was doomed to go through life being unable to spell, but then a second miracle occurred.
Sometime around junior high school spell check was invented.  A solution to my problem,  I could write papers hit a button and presto, my spelling was all corrected for me.  I went from a C student to an A student seemingly overnight, thanks to spell check.  However, it was not without it's issues.  As anyone who has ever used this handy modern gadget knows, the spell check isn't completely idiot proof.  It will often lead you to insert words that are in fact spelled correct, but are also quite the wrong word than the one intended. 

I recall a memorable assignment for a high school English class in which we were to write a paper on our goals in life.  At the time I really wanted to be a marine biologist.  Spell check in it's infinite wisdom decided that what I really wanted to be was a marine botanist.  I received my paper back with a witty remark from the student teacher we had that semester "Help, Mable the plants are drowning!"  It is only now some fifteen years later that I can see the humor in this comment without inwardly cringing.  This was not the first or the last time that spell check would betray my trust.  I soon learn to precede with caution while using spellcheck, checking and double checking all my work. Despite my best efforts misspelled words continued to plague me well into college.

Even vigilance and spell check could not help me in all cases.  While working on my dual degrees of history and theatre in college, I was constantly tested with the dreaded essay question exams.  I generally received high marks on these tests, having the ability to regurgitate facts quite well.  However, when writing fast in order to answer the questions and beat the clock, there was not much time for me to check my work.  I would occasionally lose points for bad spelling from the hardest professors ,or my spelling mistakes would be pointed out by the kinder ones.  In my English 401 class on Shakespeare, my professor and role model kindly wrote on one test,
     "Katherine, you are one of my most brilliant students, however, if you are able to fit it into your schedule next semester I think it would benefit you to retake English 101 with me for no credit in order to prepare for grad school." 

And so my misfortune of being a bad speller has followed me through life. I now work as a nurse. The wonderful thing about this is that everything in medicine is abbreviated and if you can't abbreviate it just write illegibly. People generally think that the misspelled word is actually just bad penmanship. 

I am happy to report that bad spelling did not keep me out of college or keep me from functioning in everyday society.  The irony of my life now seems to be that people feel I must be a good speller and are constantly asking me how to spell words.  I handle this situation by putting on my thinking face, writing down the word the way I think it should be spelled, and then gracefully bowing out of the situation by apologizing that I am not the best speller "you should probably ask someone else."  Hey at least I give it a try!

Even as I write this blog, the spell check is driving me crazy highlighting every word that I either mistype or misspell.  I am also aware that there are probably multiple mistakes in the spelling and grammar of this little essay.  I ask you dear readers to please not point these out in your comments and just put it down to bad penmanship.