Adele in 2021 Vision

Let me set the scene, the year is 2010, I’m riding to school in the car with my mom. I’m a fifth grader probably wearing an Abercrombie Kids graphic tee and sporting a purple feather from Ellie Rogers’ 9th birthday in my hair. My mom turns on Kiss 108 Boston’s premier top 40 FM radio station at the time. The first song to play is “Rolling in the Deep.” Adele’s powerhouse vocals blast through the speakers of our Honda Pilot. I had never experienced heartbreak at 10 years old until then. My biggest emotional burdens included school cafeteria lunches and missing Nintendo DS chargers and yet, I was transfixed by Adele’s voice and how it made me feel. Little did I know that millions of people around the world were moved by this woman as well.

“Rolling in the Deep” went on to take the  #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 for seven weeks. “Someone Like You” was the  second single that  also went to #1. Her album 21 would go on to win six grammys including Album of the Year. Adele’s unique sound became iconic seemingly overnight. The amount of Adele covers I heard on American Idol AND in the Village School cafeteria were striking. When I asked my friend Caroline how she remembers Adele she said, “I used to love her.” Adele became a household name and national sensation. 

Following the success of 21 fans waited eagerly for another album. In 2015, Adele released her single “Hello”and the world went still  again. So began the era of 25, an album that would again award Adele international praise and yet another Album of the Year Grammy Award. 

After touring for 25, Adele quietly stepped back from the public eye. She focused on her marriage and raising her only son Angelo. She still performed, however, I stopped hearing her name in public discourse for most of high school. 

In 2018, news broke that Adele had separated from her husband and by the next year, she began posting publicly again on social media. Fans were shocked by her weight loss and suddenly her appearance was all people could talk about. The discourse changed from the mastery of Adele’s vocal ability  and songwriting to how she looked in a dress on Instagram. Women’s bodies have always been scrutinized in the media, but Adele’s situation is different.

Adele is a celebrity, however, unlike Madonna or Lady Gaga, her fans expect her to be consistent. Adele is not only consistent in her musical talent, but in her appearance. For example: Adele mostly used to wear black, conservative clothing. In her more recent public events, she has been more experimental with her wardrobe and style. Lady Gaga’s fans expect her to constantly change her appearance, Adele’s fans expect consistency from her. Adele as a celebrity is nostalgic and comforting, her fans do not want to lose that side of her. So, her appearance gets extra attention. 

Let’s get back to the music! That’s what Adele would want us to discuss anyway. Her new album 30 is set to release on November 19, 2021. “Easy On Me,” the first single off the album, was released on October 15, 2021 and has already spent two weeks at #1. It is classic Adele: beautifully heartbreaking. Adele said in her Vogue 73 Questions interview, “This new album is my most personal one yet.” I cannot wait to feel nostalgic, but I am also excited for something new. I guess that combination is Adele in 2021 vision. When asked in the interview if 30 is the beginning of a new era Adele said, “Does anything ever really end?”

21 Lessons For 21 Years

On October 21, 2021 I turned 21 years old. The legal drinking age. The year some say one “really becomes an adult.” Has my life changed since turning the big 21, not really. However, I did spend $57 on Kendall Jenner branded tequila. 

Last year I wrote one of these to my younger self. A list of lessons that young Abigail would’ve liked to have known. So, I’m bringing it back a year later..

Here’s 21 Lessons for 21 Years:

  1. Human beings are not psychic, we are not mind readers (That’s So Raven is an exception of course). You have no way of knowing what someone is thinking unless they disclose that information to you.
  2. Press-on acrylic nails are so inexpensive and easy to use. However, they’re always locked up at CVS, so people don’t steal them. Be prepared to get dirty looks from the associate who has to unlock them for you.
  3. All emotions are valid, even the uncomfortable ones.
  4. The preschoolers at JCC Kindercamp should be running Amazon or Apple. Young people are cooler and more creative than Jeff Bezos. 
  5. You can be nice to people you don’t particularly like and it’s different than being fake.
  6. Alone time is essential for you to recharge and relax!
  7. Three words: Wireless Push-up Bras (is that four words?)
  8. It is ok to be the first to reach out. Remind people in your life that you care about them.
  9. You don’t need to minimize yourself to allow someone else to reach their maximum potential.
  10. Quick hangover prevention tool: HAHA there isn’t one!
  11. Healing is not linear
  12. A year later and this girl still loves therapy!!
  13. Having family around is a beautiful gift. Cherish the time you have with people who actually know you and love you.
  14. Rejection is simply redirection to something better.

***Family members PLEASE skip lesson 15***

  1. Vibrators are shipped in discreet packaging! The college mailroom probably doesn’t know what you ordered…probably
  2. Transferring schools is really, really challenging. 
  3. Transferring schools was really, really worth it.
  4. You are a storyteller. You are creative. You are wise.
  5. Donald Trump won’t be president forever. He won’t even be president for 2 terms  😀
  6. You are not supposed to have all the answers right now. 
  7. You are loved. You are kind. You are worthy of friendship. You are worthy of laughter. You are an extraordinary human being. You are worthy of this new beginning..

“You Will Be Found”…Missing Live Theatre

Dear Evan Hansen, rose to fame on Broadway, with some viewers finding it via bootlegs on Youtube. Regardless, audiences have all been captivated by the music, the once in a lifetime talent of Ben Platt, and the story that motivated millions to keep going when life felt unbearable. The show that captivated audiences around the world is now a major motion picture which was released on September 24, 2021.

Dear Evan Hansen follows the tumultuous senior year of Evan Hansen, a young man isolated and crippled by anxiety. Evan’s therapist encourages him to write letters to himself, detailing how Evan will have a “great day.” Evan’s life drastically changes when his letter falls into the hands of a grieving couple who have lost their son to suicide.

The film adaptation begins with Evan singing “Waving Through A Window.” The viewer watches a now 28 year old Ben Platt re-enter the character he originated on Broadway. For staunch supporters of the musical, this beginning will be jarring. The Broadway musical version begins with the song “Does Anybody Have A Map?” The song sets a tone for the show by allowing the audience into the homes of the two families that the story follows. “Does Anybody Have A Map?” has been left out of the film adaptation all together. Amy Adams would have given us a beautiful rendition of the song. Beginning with “Waving Through A Window” will be confusing for anyone who is unfamiliar with the story. It felt like a dramatic Hollywood movie, losing the humble beginning that the audience is comfortable with. 

This review would be incomplete without discussing the masterful performance of Ben Platt. As previously stated, Platt originated the role of Evan for Broadway nearly six years ago. Platt’s voice is incredible and he captures the emotion of the character flawlessly.

However, is he a believable high school senior? Of course not. Platt looks like a 28 year old who is struggling to graduate. As much as we all love Ben Platt, he may have missed “the window” of time where him playing the character is believable. The character of Evan would have benefited from a fresh, new performance. The creators of the film missed an opportunity to cast a new actor. Ben Platt is amazing, but he should pass this role on to someone new. That being said, audiences cannot wait to witness what is next from Platt.

A true standout in Dear Evan Hansen was Kaitlyn Dever as Zoe Murphy. Zoe is a tortured character, trying to mourn the death of her brother whom she believes never truly loved her. Dever’s performance was electric. The speeding car scene (not in the original version) was by far the most memorable of the entire film. Dever’s raw emotion was palpable, the entire theater went silent and simply lived the scene with her. Dever’s singing was impressive, but she was not the strongest vocalist to play Zoe Murphy. 

Dear Evan Hansen missed the mark…slightly. We waited too long for the film adaptation. By the time it got here, we were expecting a film that would have been perfect in 2016. A younger, more relatable Ben Platt. The original broadway cast. Maybe it wasn’t made to be a Hollywood film. There is a vulnerability that comes with a live performance of this show that the actors couldn’t accurately portray on screen.

If you’re a fan of the musical, you should see the film. The “You Will Be Found” scene was beautiful. Listening to Ben Platt sing for two hours is enjoyable any way you can get it. Just remember, if you miss live theatre, you’re not alone. Because it’s the human connection that we miss most of all.  

Lights Out On Golden Hour

Let me set the scene…two lovers ripped right at the seams

The first moments of Star Crossed are a spine tingling indication of what’s to come. What was a peaceful Golden Hour type of love has gone up in smoke. The lights are out. Things aren’t the same, but are they worse? As I dive into Kacey’s heartbreak manifesto for the second time, I’m still not sure. All I know is this era is vivid and haunting. The tracks on the album are unlike anything we’ve heard from her. 

Star Crossed the album and film were released on September 10, 2021. Kacey Musgraves has been teasing new music for the last year following her divorce from former husband, Ruston Kelly. Regarding the split Kacey has said, “it simply didn’t work.” With the release of Star Crossed, Kacey has provided her audience with a front row seat to her healing process. A healing process that has been anything, but linear. The album is seemingly split into three parts. 

The first explains what went wrong. The second track, “Good Wife” details the pressure Kacey felt in her marriage to be everything her ex husband wanted. The wife trope was filled with expectations and drudgery. “Simple Times” is a relatable track with a nostalgic style. Kacey laments about wanting to put everything on pause and “kick it at the mall like there’s nothing wrong.” She sings about wanting a break from expectation just to be with her friends. The other tracks in this first section explain Kacey’s pain and denial about the end of her relationship. 

The second section of the album exhibits all the mid-breakup feelings. That angst from seeing pictures on your phone of memories you’d like to forget (“camera roll”). Those contradicting feelings of lust and disdain (“justified”). One of the most revealing tracks on the album is definitely “breadwinner.” Kacey shares her former husband’’s jealousy of her success over a fun, 90s style dance beat…genius. 

The final section of the album feels the most classic Kacey Musgraves. It’s filled with self-affirming songs and hope for better days to come. Tracks like “keep looking up” and “what doesn’t kill me” encapsulate the good days during a bad year. The second to last track “there is a light” is my personal favorite on the album. The chorus goes, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a light inside of me.” It is a triumphant ending to the album and a glimpse into what’s to come for Kacey. 

Was this a review or an ode to Kacey Musgraves? You can decide. Either way, Star Crossed is my recommendation for anyone on their own healing journey. There is a light even if you can’t see it right now.  

Why “New Beginnings?”

Homecoming (noun): a return home or an annual alumni celebration at a high school or college. I recently experienced a “homecoming.” However, my version wasn’t planned and certainly did not involve queens, kings, punch, and handmade parade floats. My homecoming was abrupt. The year was 2020 (maybe you’ve heard of it?).  March 9, 2020 to be exact. I was having a disgusting Monday. It was freezing cold and cloudy in Colchester, Vermont. My mouth tasted of chicken patties and stale peppermint tea as I walked to my 11am statistics class. I had just returned from Montreal, Canada and was feeling supremely lost at school. It seemed like everyone around me was having the time of their lives. Partying, posting on social media…partying for an excuse to post. I felt like everyone had great friends and everyone was having fun except for me. For the last couple of weeks, there were rumors about a certain contagious virus sweeping China and parts of Europe. It was that very Monday, on my rainy walk to class, that I first heard about cases in the United States. 

Coronavirus.

Within two days, my college would be closed. My mom rushed to Vermont to help me pack up my tiny dorm room, unsure if I would return to campus in five weeks as planned. News flash, I didn’t. I remained home for the remainder of the spring semester. We were all isolated, forced to learn Zoom: the communication vessel of our discontent. My Monday morning stats class looked less like a class and more like the Brady Bunch opening theme, tiny people in tiny boxes stacked on a screen. 

Amidst all of the chaos, I felt a strange sense of relief. I was free from a situation that was making me miserable. I went for walks with my parents, instead of alone. I ate delicious home cooked food, instead of cold chicken patties. I slowly began to rebuild my life. Surprisingly enough, I began to appreciate my “homecoming.” During that difficult time, I found my voice, and I began to write my thoughts down. 

Since March 2020, I’ve had countless new beginnings. New school, new friends, and a new way of looking at the old stuff. New Beginnings Blog is a combination of creativity, passion, and healing. My words and thoughts live here for your eyes and brains to enjoy. 

New Beginnings (big and small) are possible. My writing reflects that. If your life feels like a rainy walk to statistics class right now, my heart is with you. 

Begin a new chapter or an entirely new book..

Hoop Earrings: Power Through History (July 2021)

Hoops are more than just earrings. They’re a symbol of inner strength and confidence. Hoops can transform one’s mood for the better. Suddenly a simple tee shirt and jeans can turn into a fabulous expression of style. I couldn’t help but wonder, What gives hoops their power? Is it their rich history? Or is it the people who wear them? 

Turns out hoop earrings are one of the oldest fashion trends of humankind. The first hoop earrings originated in 2500 BCE in Nubia, a civilization that we now know as the African nation Sudan. In 1500 BCE, Egyptians sported hoops as a sign of beauty, wealth, and power. Hoops were also worn by Ancient Roman women as a sign of high class luxury. Hoops continued to grow with international trends throughout many decades. They reached prominence in the United States in the late 1800s. 

 During the Roaring 1920s, hoops became crucial in completing a high fashion look. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, hoops were the perfect accessory to compliment a low cut blouse and jeans. Cher and Diana Ross were notorious for wearing large gold hoops on stage in the 1970s. By the 1980s, however, hoops became a symbol of hip hop and rap music. This was a suitable transition because hoops served as a respectful nod to the African and Dominican cultures from which the style of music originated. 

The empowerment that hoop earrings provide is no coincidence. It is through their diverse history that I’ve realized that the wearer holds just as much power as the earring itself does. An influential history has paved the way for us: “The 2021 hoop obsessors of today.” Today’s hoop lovers are wonderfully flawed. We don’t always play by the rules. We are free to create, inspire, and incite change.     

Source:

https://www.romadesignerjewelry.com/blogs/education/a-brief-history-of-hoop-earrings

That Really Good Playlist (April 2020)

I recently read a New York Times article titled, “How to Make the Perfect Playlist.” The writer Tyler Hayes began the piece by stating, “Life is just one playlist away from being perfectly soundtracked.” I absolutely agree. Music can turn any situation into a memorable one. I often remember times in my life based on the album that I was listening to at the time. Kesha gained fame when I was in the third grade. My best friends and I were obsessed with her first album. We had a fully choreographed dance to “Tik Tok.” Luckily, we filmed all of our dance videos on my digital camera, so an 8 year old me will never be seen on the internet. It was because of the music that I have that memory today. Whenever “Tik Tok” comes on my workout playlist, I can’t help but laugh. 

Tyler Hayes goes on to write about how to create the perfect playlist for our different situations in life (read his article after this one). I was inspired to share some of my own tips for creating that really good playlist. You know the one, the playlist that perfectly compliments how you are feeling. I unapologetically have about 15 playlists on my phone and they are always evolving. We all need more than one because you’ll never find me listening to Norah Jones on the treadmill. 

The first thing I always consider is how I want the music to make me feel. Do I want to dance or do I want to cry?? The vibe is crucial because every song on the same playlist should compliment the next. Just like peanut butter and pizza, some songs have flavors that seriously clash. After choosing the perfect vibe, you should consider the following questions: Should the playlist follow a specific sequence? Should it be all old favorites or songs I’ve never heard before? Is this mix personal or for others to enjoy as well? 

After you’ve considered these questions, experiment with different songs and how they sound together. Remember that you can always add to the mix as time goes on or take songs away. Most streaming platforms have a “Discover similar artists” feature, so you can always add to the list. Consider creating a collaborative playlist with friends! 

The possibilities are limitless, but the bottomline is to always have fun when creating a playlist. Allow the music to distract you from life or make you uber focus on an assignment. You’ll know a playlist is a really good one when you’re dancing with your friends like you’re 8 years old again. You should be able to look back and say, “that moment was perfectly soundtracked.” 

Must Watch: Schitt’s Creek (October 2020)

I’m sure many of you saw the headline, “Schitt’s Creek Sweeps 2020 Emmys!” This lesser known Canadian sitcom won every comedy category, including Best Comedy Series.

I don’t typically follow television and movie trends. People are shocked when I say I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or Stranger Things. I have never seen Forrest Gump and you’d have to pay me to watch Dirty Dancing again (sorry!). I used to think the only trendy entertainment that wasn’t overhyped was Hamilton. That was until I watched Schitt’s Creek

Schitt’s Creek is simply THAT GOOD. It is more than a comedy, the characters are compelling and the audience gets the pleasure of watching them evolve on screen. Show writer and actor, Dan Levy describes the show as, “a celebration of love.” I would say he is spot on. 

For those who don’t know, Schitt’s Creek is a sitcom created by father and son, Eugene and Dan Levy. If Eugene Levy sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably seen American Pie or Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (yes, the sequel with Carmen Electra). The father-son duo star in the show alongside Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy (both took home Emmys). Schitt’s Creek follows the wealthy Rose family. Johnny Rose, family patriarch and owner of Rose Video gets himself into a bad deal financially and loses all of his wealth. Johnny, his wife Moira, and their two adult children are forced to leave their glamorous lives and move to “Schitt’s Creek”, a town that Johnny bought as a joke 20 years earlier. The town is for all intents and purposes, a shit hole, so the name is fitting. The show begins with the Rose family’s hilarious attempt to acclimate to their new home, an abandoned motel. However, as the show progresses, the family meets some wonderful people in “Schitt’s Creek” and their characters begin to recognize the value in their relationships. 

This show makes my day every time I watch it. It is funny, clever, and at times emotional. I must confess that I binged all of it in quarantine on Netflix. In order not to spoil the entire plot, here are 2 reasons why you should binge watch Schitt’s Creek right now. 

  1. The writing and the characters are seriously hilarious. Each member of the Rose family has countless, quotable one liners. Dan Levy took a run of the mill riches to rags story and gave it perfectly timed comedic elements. My mom, my step dad, and I all watch it together. All of us are laughing our asses off. By the end of season 5, I could do impressions of all of the characters, so I gained a party trick from watching Schitt’s Creek as well. Schitt’s Creek is the perfect escape from the stress of our lives. Life doesn’t get much better than laughing for 25+ minutes a day. 
  2. This show is beautifully inclusive and celebrates the best values. David Rose, played by Dan Levy, is openly pansexual. His sexual orientation is never addressed on the show as something unusual or controversial. His sexual orientation is never a storyline. His family and the community around him are accepting. David is an eccentric character. His humor and heart for other people are the most important things about him. Schitt’s Creek features people of color and LGBTQ+ actors. This show encapsulates acceptance and inclusivity that the media needs a lot more of these days. 

Schitt’s Creek is truly a celebration of love. The actors are real life family and friends, their love for each other is palpable through the screen. So, yes, Schitt’s Creek certainly deserved all those Emmys. Watch it on Netflix or Pop TV…thank me later!

Hannah Montana’s 44 Year Old Brother and Other Musings (March 2021)

I recently learned that Jason Earles is 44 years old. Jason Earles is the actor who played Miley/Hannah’s brother Jackson on Hannah Montana. Hannah Montana premiered on Disney Channel in 2006. This means that Jason Earles was a 28 year old man playing a 16 year old kid for money. Not to mention, he had a wife at the time! He had probably already utilized a car rental service and been summoned for jury duty by that point. The viewers of the show hadn’t yet hit puberty.

Jason’s story struck me for several reasons. The first being that it’s funny af. Secondly, I began thinking about the concept of success. We’ve all heard the phrase: fake it till you make it! If you want that promotion, that grade, that parking spot, the first step is believing you can have those things. Jason Earles actually did that. He dressed like an early 2000s teenager. He acted the way teenagers on Disney Channel act. I added “on Disney Channel” to my previous statement because I acknowledge that teens on Disney are nothing like real life teens. Disney teens wouldn’t last a day in real high school. Can you imagine Billy Ray Cyrus filling out a FAFSA? Anyways, the point I’m trying to make is we believed Jason Earles was 16. He was really a 28 year old actor (with a sh*tty manager if Hannah Montana was his only notable gig). Jason Earles taught me that the key to success isn’t changing who you are. It’s just believing you can be something and being so damn believable that other people believe it too. I believe I can achieve my goals and be successful. So, I’m gonna take a lesson out of Jason Earles’ playbook. I’m gonna believe in myself, so other people will believe it too. Who knows maybe one day I’ll be watching my glory days on Disney + with wife number two, just like my pal Jason. 

Fierce Femininity (March 2021)

When someone says the word ‘feminine’ to you, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you think of makeup? High heels? Dolly Parton’s illustrious career? Well, what if I told you that all of those answers are right and all of those answers are wrong…This is because femininity cannot be defined in a word, phrase, or country love song. Femininity is unique and exists in all of us. Dictionary.com tells us that “femininity is the quality or nature of the female sex.” I wholeheartedly disagree. If that definition was accurate, then all females would be feminine and that is not the case. Femininity transcends gender. It is simply a quality that the soul emanates. So if femininity has nothing to do with sex or gender, what is it? It manifests in kindness and strength. Confidence, passion, and determination can all be uniquely feminine qualities. It manifests in walking into a board room and giving the best damn presentation your colleagues have ever seen. It’s standing up for a friend when you know there is a lot at stake if you do. It is more than hair, clothes, and shoes. 

You might be thinking, Abb, I thought femininity was submissive and modest? As I expressed earlier, femininity is unique to the individual, so for some people those qualities might be applicable. I really dislike the definition we’re given in Merriam Webster, as it leads us to believe that femininity is innately weak. That if you wear heels or a skirt to a meeting, you are suddenly stripped of your validity in the office. That’s why I wanted to explain the power that femininity holds, what makes it fierce. Femininity is fierce. It’s saying “I like to wear nailpolish and I’m a confident, strong college student.” It’s saying, “the way I dress has nothing to do with my intelligence and experience.” Just take a note from Dolly’s playbook. She has been equal parts singer-songwriter, business woman, and beauty queen for 50 years. Just think if Dolly held back her femininity to be “taken seriously.” She has been successful because she has always been herself. The same goes for icons such as, RuPaul, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Rihanna. None of them would be here without channeling their fierce femininity. Don’t be afraid to channel your own fierceness. Take the risk, take a stand, and when in doubt, belt out “9 to 5” in the car. Just don’t underestimate the power your femininity holds and how far you can go by being yourself.