You always remember your first…

First album, that is. We all do. Come on, admit it! You still remember it, the very first one you brought home, cracked open, and proceeded to listen to for the next month solid. Even if you can’t stand the music now or perhaps bashfully grin at the very idea, you never forget your first. And (let’s be honest now) that very first time you listened to it, it kind of blew your mind. Am I right? I know mine did.

To find out what my very first album was, we have to go all the way back to Christmas 1989. I was 9 years old and it was the first year that I asked for music. Sure, I’d been listening to Motown and psychedelic ’60s rock in the back of my mom’s car since I was literally an infant. And it is true that I technically didn’t buy this one myself, which is probably the main criteria most would expect in an official first album. But this was the first time I was picking something on my own, based on what sounded good to me, which is something I value much more than the ability to save a few pennies and dimes.

And what was that momentous first album, dutifully requested in the lap of a shopping mall St. Nick? Tiffany. Yes, that Tiffany. The 80’s pop queen who once wowed her fans with those often sugary-sweet lyrics sung in malls across the country and who now stars in a growing line of monster B-movies on the SyFy network. Yes, I realize this admission automatically makes me a hipster reject. But what can I say? I saw her on The Mickey Mouse Club when I was a sprout and thought that she was fun. Hell, I also liked The New Kids on the Block when I was 10, which is far more embarrassing to admit to as an adult. Everyone has, shall we say, interesting taste as children. And evolving musical tastes are a big part of growing up (thankfully).

But what will really bar me from joining the ranks of the disinterested music hipster is that, well… I actually still like this album. Despite my sheepishness, 1988’s Hold An Old Friend’s Hand will always reside in a soft part of my heart–no matter how uncool that makes me. I loved this album from the moment I unwrapped the plastic and popped the cassette into my tiny little boombox and I dutifully set to work memorizing every single song–a pattern that would last for many years and for many, many albums.

Sadly, my old cassette went the way of the world a few years back. I believe it lived too long on a shelf in my old room at my parents’ house and was sold off to a used bookstore by my enterprising youngest sister. (By the way, thanks again for telling me about your little money-making scheme after the fact, Kid.) But despite not listening to this album since long before losing the means to actually play it, I still remember the names and partial lyrics of several of the songs. Even now, the title track would probably show up on my list of all-time favorite guilty pleasures. And yes, while doing my research for this post I listened to much of the album for the first time in many, many moons, and I caught myself singing along and bouncing a bit in my chair. Although I have to say there was a good deal more chuckling this time around.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a decent video for Hold An Old Friend’s Hand (by far my favorite), even though I was pleasantly surprised to find a sweet nostalgia cover from a guy who also loved the song as a child. Instead you get the amazingly hokey video for one of her catchier songs, a cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ 1967 classic, I Think We’re Alone Now. It’s so campy, but it perfectly captures the scene–complete with the big 80’s hair and jerky dance moves performed in the middle of crowded shopping malls. But I will spare you and leave out her absolutely blasphemous rendition of The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There. I’m not that cruel!

And for those of you who are fans of How I Met Your Mother, here’s the famous Robin Sparkles doing a hilarious parody/tribute/mash-up of both Tiffany and her former pop chart rival and current B-movie co-star, Debbie Gibson.

So who was your first?

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Wishes for 2012

The last two weeks have been absolutely wonderful and just a little bit insane. Between family coming to visit (including cousins, a sister, and a 4-year-old ball of pure energy called a child), multiple tattoo shop visits, and that whole holiday thing, I’m feeling a little ambivalent. I’m feeling physically drained, yet emotionally recharged. As a result, I’ve decided to count this as a win, even though I’m still catching up on sleep and my shoulder is still healing from my little self-inflicted art project. But with all the excitement lately, updating the blog just kept getting pushed farther and farther down my to-do list. So I decided to take a little unscheduled holiday hiatus from writing. Plus, I figured that 2 Christmas themed entries from me was more than enough for one year. And since I’m still not quite back to the usual grind, I’m going to keep this short. But I plan to begin posting regularly again starting next week. A little New Year’s resolution, if you will.

But with the advent of 2012 now whizzing past us, I still feel the need to at least comment. 2011 was a complex year for me, to say the least. A lot happened and I’m still trying to total up both the good and the bad columns in my 2011 ledger. It was a bad year for pets and an even worse year for some people I care very deeply about. I traveled more than expected, but most of it for work. I was officially asked to stay on in my grant-funded position and ever since I have been trying to come to grips with the idea of living in Charm City (or at least this state) on a more permanent basis. My husband got hired by the company he was contracting at and started talking about buying a house. I experienced my first earthquake and dealt with an unexpectedly strong case of seasonal depression (apparently, Winter #5 is a doozy). I spent some extra time quality with family and had one of those significant (as in permanent) bonding experiences with my youngest sister. And (quite momentous for me, if for no one else) I started this blog in an effort to bring some creativity to my life. It has been a crazy time and for the most part, I am glad to put 2011 behind me–even though I do believe that all-in-all it wasn’t a bad year. I still hope that 2012 is a better year for me, or else I may lose what little is left of my sanity.

And as for you, I wish you immeasurable happiness. I hope you hear from an old friend. I hope you find that $20 you squirreled away in a forgotten hiding place. I hope you read your favorite book (again). I hope you watch a gorgeous sunset painted across a desert sky. And I hope you hear a new (to you) song that literally stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away with its power and beauty.

To possibly help you achieve that last one, here is Energy by The Apples in Stereo. A beautiful song that makes me feel like the whole world is goodness and light, with a slide guitar solo that somehow always brings tears to my eyes. Enjoy and have a very Happy New Year!