She’s back. And breaking my heart all over again.

I love Adele. Nothing lets me suspend my belief that I can’t sing, like scream-singing “Hometown Glory” and weeping in the car. She’s just so good.So, this comes on the scene a few days ago, and I can’t take it. This song gives me that anxious, stomach-hurting sort of feeling, it’s so good. Sort of like Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” (RIP, JB). It feels like there’s already a memory associated with it, which of course, is not the case (unless you count the 80 times I’ve listened to it).

They say that scent is the closest sense tied to memory, that smells most easily conjure up experiences of the past. While that certainly has merit, I would argue that music does the same, at least for me. An old girlfriend and I used to trade “mixtapes” as a way of connecting with one another, to help bridge the geographic distance between us, her in Utah and me in New York. I remember how carefully she chose each song, offering each to me with the understanding that she would never get those songs “back”…and neither would I, with the songs I chose for her.

No matter what, hearing those songs would always be shaded by the memory of one another. Sounds romantic when two people are in love…not so much when that love has cooled. This has been true of any song associated with any person I have loved…listening to your music becomes akin to crossing an auditory minefield, stepping carefully to avoid what might hurt you, blow up those parts of your heart that feel otherwise strong. Sure, it tends to fade with time, becomes tolerable, but nonetheless, those feelings are there for good. You have given them to the other person.

But that’s the beauty of music, of art, right? Art is simultaneously meaningless and incredibly meaningful, it reminds us that we are alive…that we love, we lament, and that we scream-sing in the car, remembering a million little moments of happiness and loss.

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Breaking up is hard to do. Unless you have facebook.

I read an article this weekend, and it honestly escapes me exactly where, about a workshop held for teenagers regarding healthy breakups. I thought this was a pretty novel concept, given that I had no idea how to handle my first breakup, at seventeen years old. I treated it as some sort of death, walking around in a haze, assured my life was over. Given, I know now that this is how most young people treat that first experience, having nothing to compare it to. But how nice it would’ve been to have peer-driven dialogue and objective facilitation on the topic. I would’ve loved to have known that it was normal for me to be reduced to snot and tears at the discovery of a left-behind t-shirt (tie dye, by the way-ew), or to feel like my stomach was going to explode at the inadvertent eye contact made in a high school hallway with the Dreaded Ex. But these feelings blindsided me. I had no idea what to expect. And let me tell you, it sucked.

However, the Dreaded Ex became less dreadful, and eventually, an acquaintance. And the stinging memory of it became sort of laughable, in that God, I was ridiculous sort of way. And, on life goes. But man, do kids now have so many more tools at their disposal, when it’s time to cut someone loose. Or, to simply torture said partner with, until they are driven to end the relationship. I would have never, EVER survived high school, if texting and facebook existed. I mean, how do kids focus on anything besides the intracacies of electronic high school relationship betrayal? One boy interviewed for the article said that when it’s time to dump a girl, he simply changes his facebook relationship status to “single”, leaving the young woman in question to discover this on her own (unless a meddling concerned third party discovers it first, during which time he/she will eagerly share the information). A number of the kids felt it was completely appropriate to end a relationship this way, or via text message. Are you kidding me? Look, I’m as non-confrontational as the next person (perhaps more so), but I feel like this is one of the times in life when you DESERVE to be uncomfortable. After all, you’re about to inflict emotional pain (and possible weight gain, depending on whether they decide to eat their feelings) on another person, so a few minutes of awkward, frank conversation is a fair trade, I’d say. People are owed that.

As I read along, I realized-kids don’t need a healthy breakups workshop, they need a healthy social skills workshop. And tech-savvy adults need a refresher course. Life is so embedded in electronics and technology that people are losing their ability to connect in real life with the people on the other side of the screen. And that extends way beyond childish breakup moves-these are practices that are becoming ingrained as normal and more or less universally acceptable. I myself am even guilty of it-I admit that I would much rather conduct a conversation via email, than telephone. It’s something I have to constantly be aware of, and move past. And don’t even get me started on the feelings I have when I misplace my iPhone. It’s shaming.

So, my thoughts are this: look away from the bright light (of a backlit screen) once in awhile. Make some eye contact, have a conversation. Read social subtleties, instead of trying to piece together someone’s tone via text. I think we’d be surprised to discover that our counterparts on this earth are (mostly )pretty amazing in real life. And kids-as hard as it is, take the time to tell your girlfriend or boyfriend that you’re making out with their best friend,face-to-face. It’ll make you feel like slightly less of a dirtball, and will provide you with the right amount of conscience-battering you deserve. Don’t make them wait to find out until they update their status feed.

Learning to Laugh.

Sunday was Pickle’s birthday, and some of our family was coming by later that evening for cake, to celebrate. Yes, I’m aware she’s a dog, and not an actual baby. And no, I don’t care. Anyway, I’ve developed a renewed interest in baking, and so, I thought I’d do the whole “cake from scratch” thing. This rapidly proved to be a time-consuming endeavor, one that I feared wouldn’t allow for us to possibly do everything else we needed to, i.e., clean the house, make dinner, shower. Andrew, being the fantastic boyfriend he is, took charge and started cleaning while I desecrated the kitchen with butter and flour. So, with that, I felt like life was once again manageable.

Until approximately 4pm.

At that point, relations in the Baker-Hurlburt household quickly deteriorated. Andy decided to clean the glass screen on our gas fireplace, a job that is utterly filthy, to say the least. Immediately after removing the glass, Pickle darted in, snatched up one of the nuts used to hold it into place, ran and dove under the dining room table, and Andy and I played our usual game of “trap her and dig whatever coveted item she has out of her mouth.” Only, she swallowed it by the time I was able to conduct a finger sweep. Pick-1, Mom/Dad-0. Moving on.

Andy then brought up the mini Shop Vac from the basement, a touchy, irritable machine. It loses suction with the slightest tilt of its body, and is enough to incite rage in the heart of whomever is using it. So, he turns it on, and from the kitchen I hear him muttering, “God, come on. COME ON!” Vacuum off. Shake. Vacuum on. “COME ON, DAMN IT!” Banging. “WHAT THE HELL?! You piece of sh*t!” Vacuum off. Rinse and repeat. Vacuum on. Banging. “COME ON. SUUUUUUUUUUCK, YOU BITCH!!!!” Vacuum off. “Jenn, can you bring me the other vacuum, please?” Ugh, God. Please don’t make me go in there. He’s mad, and I want to laugh, despite my anger at Pickle’s thievery and my expanding mess in the kitchen. In I go, and am trying as quickly as I can to set up the vacuum, and get out. Only, I’m so worked up by trying not to laugh, and to also keep him as even as possible, that I’m fumbling over everything, getting tangled in the cord repeatedly, as I’m trying to put the plastic attachment on the hose. If I was ready to laugh earlier, I am now approaching near hysteria. Please, God, I pray, please don’t let me laugh while he’s so upset. I know how much more irritated I’d be if someone laughed while I was frustrated, and I really don’t want to do that to him.

Luckily, I’m able to escape to the kitchen in enough time to giggle in freedom. I collect myself, and Andy passes through the kitchen, and heads downstairs with the glass piece. I now refocus on the cake, of which I am entering hour five of preparation, and suddenly, it’s just not doable anymore to me. Our kitchen is now covered in dirty pans, bowls and utensils, and I realize I am out of both dishwashing sponges AND dishwasher soap. Come. On. I go to make the frosting, and ineplixcably, when I turn the mixer on to whip the butter, butter flies everywhere, coating the cabinets, counter, my hair, you name it. So, I wade through that fiasco, and then I go to pull the lemon curd that I made out of the fridge, to use as a cake filling. Only. It. Never. Set. And is a soupy, fluid mess. Then I heard a strange noise in the dining room. I turn, and Pickle has DESTROYED the entire Styles section of the Sunday NY Times, into confetti-sized pieces. All over the freshly cleaned floors. Chasing, snatching bits of paper out of her mouth, and general threats of dog murder ensue. Annnd, yahtzee. This was it. The next hour was a blur of cleaning up paper, cake frosting, preparing and baking an eggplant parmesan (which I have no recollection of doing), cleaning the kitchen, and finally, reconvening with Andy, to exhale and have a glass of wine before our guests arrived. And laughing, wonder where the hell everything went so wrong, so quickly. I sheepishly admitted to him how hard it was for me to not laugh when he was so angry earlier, and sensing that he wasn’t taking offense, even venturing to imitate his earlier shenanigans. And we laughed some more. Just like that, an hour of anger and chaos has become this totally hilarious episode, one that is likely to be a good memory, when we think of it in the future. And it just reinforced the importance of learning to laugh at the the bad, the crazy, the ‘Oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-kill-something” moments in life. Because really, how are you ever going to get by, otherwise? And sharing those moments with someone else who is able to laugh at themselves makes it all the sweeter.