Jenny: Imperfection Friday: I’m Not Cool

I love this lesson.

Brown talks about the drawbacks of being cool, that cool is a straight jacket we imprison ourselves in. She talks about how she didn’t include the chapter on laughter, song, and dance in the first draft of The Gifts of Imperfection because she thought it didn’t seem deep enough, and then her assistant pointed out that the data that said those things were important was all over her research, and that she wasn’t including them because she thought they weren’t cool.

Cool kills.

And that made me remember a tiny moment from my life that has stuck with me for thirty years because it was so important. I was an art teacher, and I’d gone out to eat with the other art teachers in my system, nice women all of them. We liked each other, we had a good time together, it was a fun lunch. And as we went out the door into the sunlight, somebody said something and I laughed, loudly, and one of the other women said, “Jenny!” in this scandalized voice because I’d been so loud. And I stopped for a second, ashamed of myself. In that same moment, a guy was going into the restaurant, and he didn’t stop, but in the second after she said, “Jenny!” he said, “God, I wish I could still laugh like that.” And in that same second, I had to choose which one I was going to say “yes” to.

Needless to say, I said yes to the guy.

Since then, whenever I’ve thought, “Don’t do that, people are watching, be careful what you say, don’t lose your cool,” I’ve thought of that guy and remembered that I don’t HAVE any cool. My lack of cool is why I’m a terrible but enthusiastic dancer, why I’m an awful but loud singer, why I write romance novels and don’t really care what the NYT thinks, why I’m going to be an embarrassment to my grandchildren the same way I’ve been an embarrassment to my daughter. The whole world thinks I’m not cool? The whole world is right. This is my life, I’m not going to waste it being quiet and dignified.

So when Brown’s chapter 9 was on laughter, song, and dance, I was with her from the first line. Then she gave us the journal assignment, and I laughed and e-mailed Lani and Krissie:

Okay, we haven’t really been doing this together because we’ve all been so busy and the Krissie freaked us the fuck out, but this week’s lesson is so us that I think we should do it together. We’re supposed to make a soundtrack for our lives with five songs:

1. A song that lifts you up
2. A song that makes you dance
3. A song that makes you sing along
4. A song for tough times
5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you.

I’m not sure what mine are yet, but I really want to know what yours are.

It was tougher than I thought at first because all of the songs I love make me sing and dance and lift me up. Roseanne Cash, Dusty Springfield, Sam Cooke, John Hiatt, Eric Clapton, Sara Bareilles, Dixie Chicks, the Drifters, Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley . . . how can you NOT sing and dance to these people? So I made a tentative list, and then I actually played songs, thinking about what they’re supposed to do, and eventually I ended up with this:

1. Rise-up: Scarbury: “Theme to The Greatest American Hero” (Yeah, I couldn’t believe this one, either, but there it is. As I believe I mentioned, I’m not cool.)
2. Dance: Clapton: “I’ve Got A Rock and Roll Heart” (How can you not dance? I mean, REALLY?)
3. Sing-along: Blue Swede: “Hooked On A Feeling” (and thank you, Guardians of the Galaxy for the “ooga chaka” that will now always make me sing out loud)
4. Tough Times: Hiatt: “Child of the Wild Blue Yonder” (Because this one reminds me that I’m Jenny Goddamn Crusie and I can do anything)
5. Ass-kicker: Benatar: “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (So obvious once I played it; I’d had Cee Lo in this spot, but I’m really not a “Fuck You” kind of person even though I love that song, I’m much more of a try-it-and-die kind of woman.)

We were supposed to illustrate our song list, but I went back to find a picture I’d used in a collage earlier and thought, “You know, I like most of that collage,” so I recycled a lot of the original:

Songs 2

The other half of the assignment was to design our album cover, which was actually kind of tough because those songs? They don’t really go together well enough for a theme. So I decided the theme must be me. (Because it’s ALL ABOUT ME.) So I hit Photo Booth and took pictures of myself singing along using different filters. I have never in my life had so many pictures where I was naturally smiling. Here’s the result with a photo-bombing Frumpy Bunny:


And here’s Lani’s:

0-Lani - AuthenticityAlbumCover

Lani’s Notes: This assignment came up when I was too lazy to go upstairs and put it together with collage and markers, so I just pulled it together on my computer. I made polka dots and found a wine stain shape, so I felt it was pretty much me.

1-Lani - AuthenticitySongList

Lani’s Notes: This was harder than I thought it was going to be! I moved some songs around until I found the ones that suited the requirements. I struggled the most with the “tough times” until I thought about OKGO’s “This Too Shall Pass,” and it was perfect. That song got me through a lot of tough times. Lot of good ones, too!

Krissie is swamped this week, plus the first list she sent had ten songs on it, so she’ll probably do hers in a different post.

The Dig Deep was to identify shame gremlins, and because I wasn’t paying attention, I put mine on the wrong page, but I feel no shame. Also, they’re not that interesting because they’re my basic toxic messages which, thanks to these two courses, I’ve pretty much nailed to the wall most of the time:
“You look stupid.”
“People are laughing at you.”
“The neighbors will think you’re not right.”
“You can’t sing.”
“You’re not good at that.”

I wrote them on a page next to a scowling Frumpy Bunny, so I put a sign in his hands that said (in homage to Krissie): “Not my shame, not my gremlins.” So that took care of them.

Your turn: What’s your playlist?

48 thoughts on “Jenny: Imperfection Friday: I’m Not Cool

  1. I’d have to take some time to think about it (that I don’t have this morning), but “Walking on Sunshine” is on there.

    I am SO not cool 🙂

  2. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Oooh! Love the cute little pink sunglasses on Frumpy Bunny (yours are cool, but well, bunny-sized they’re just, erm, cooler).

    What does it say about how un-cool I am that I only recognize two of your songs and NONE of Lani’s?

    On the other hand, I do get cool points, because my 20-yr-old stepson thinks I am pretty cool, because I get cool technology, and I know stuff about basically everything he is interested in, none of which his dad (or his mother) knows about. Ha! and I am older than both of his biological parents, so it ain’t about age, baby.

    Sorry. Off on a tangent there. Fridays…

    Anyway, it has been loads of fun being able to accompany you on the journey a bit. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love this. My list is:
    Just The Way you Are, Bruno Mars
    Late in the Evening, Paul Simon
    F*cking Perfect, Pink
    I’m a mean mean woman, Janis Joplin
    Happy, Pharell Williams (I know, I know, but I love it)

  4. Micki says:

    How fun! Before I came here, I was putting together a playlist of happy summer songs, so it was great timing.

    Uplift: I love “Walking on Sunshine”, too.

    Dance: “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss” by Right Said Fred — well, anything by Right Said Fred on the Up album, basically. (The band is most famous for “I’m Too Sexy” which is more of a “piss off” song than anything that fits in these categories.)

    Sing-a-long: just about anything, really. The special needs kids have been doing “Let It Go” from Frozen, so I’ll go with that — both for the letting go of the negative, and for the releasing of my superpowers.

    Tough Times: Gonna go with “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers). I feel a twinge of uncool with that one for some reason, but . . . I don’t care. It’s a reassuring song!

    Kick-ass: “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C&C Music Factory.

    Yes, very 80s. But four of the five make me want to dance, sing, they uplift me and make me want to kick some ass. Lean On Me makes me want to sway, sing and go hug someone. Multi-purpose songage (-:.

    (I’m didn’t even touch on songs from musicals . . . .)

  5. You know, I think if all the songs on your playlist are cool, you’re doing something wrong. Stop apologizing. (Yeah, I will, too. I love “Greatest American Hero.” Believe it or not . . .

  6. JenniferNennifer says:

    Wow, this was hard. I think on a different day I would come up with different songs, but I am willing to go on record with today’s picks:

    Uplift: Long Cool Woman, The Hollies – that opening guitar riff always gets me.
    Dance: Jumping Jack Flash, The Rolling Stones
    Sing along: You’re Gonna Lose That Girl, The Beatles – I chose this one because it’s my favorite Beatles song, so I want to listen…. but I have to sing.
    Tough times: Sweet Dreams, The Eurythmics – clarified one of the toughest moments of my life (“some of them want to use you” so true and no thanks)
    Kick Ass: Fun, Fun, Fun, The Beach Boys – ’cause she’s an Ace

    I can’t wait to come back and read everyone else’s list, followed by a trip to Itunes, I am sure.

  7. This is fun. I think there is something wrong with those of us who love lists, but I don’t want to know what it is.

    1. A song that lifts you up – Amazing Grace

    2. A song that makes you dance – Old Time Rock and Roll

    3. A song that makes you sing along – Puff, the Magic Dragon (yes, I really am old. I knew that.)

    4. A song for tough times – Stairway to Heaven

    5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you. – Down at the Twist and Shout

  8. Oops, forgot the artists.
    1. Judy Collins (or anyone else who’s feeling it)
    2. Bob Seger
    3. Peter, Paul, and Mary
    4. Led Zeppelin
    5. Mary Chapin Carpenter

  9. Office Wench Cherry says:

    To lift me up: Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves

    To make me dance: Anything a nice, white, early 60s suburban lady would have called “race music”.

    To sing along: Every damn one of them. I don’t sound good but I’m sure an enthusiastic singer.

    For tough times: Gonna Move by Susan Tedeschi

    For ass kicking: Short skirt/Long Jacket by Cake

    Ask me again in an hour and you’ll get totally different answers. I have nearly 5000 songs on my iPod.

  10. The list –
    Uplifting: Send me on my way, Rusted Root
    Dancing: Vampire Weekend – pretty much anything, but especially Diane Young
    Sing A Long: American Pie, Don Maclean, & La Mer by Charles Trenet – I know, I know. We do a lot of long car journeys in my family and these are the big family singsongs. I can’t do without either of them.
    Tough Times: Sympathique, Pink Martini
    Feisty: Tous Les memes, Stromae and Si Tu Savais, Marie Pierre Arthur – both kind of girl power.

  11. Office Wench Cherry says:

    Okay, okay. LOL.

    To sing along with: Shine like it does by INXS

    To dance to: Twistin’ the night away by Sam Cooke

  12. Jane Doe says:

    Wow – I think this is one of those things that I think you could ask me everyday and I’d have a different answer because there are just so many good options.

    For today, my answers are –

    1. A song that lifts you up: You are the Best Thing, Ray LaMontagne

    2. A song that makes you dance : You Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC

    3. A song that makes you sing along: Conceited, Remy Ma (mostly because it’s so explicit and shocking coming from a “good girl” like me – no one who could see me and not know anything about me would expect me to be able to rock it out the way I do. Plus I get to sing “I’m conceited, I got a reason!” But I pretty much sing along to everything always anyway)

    4. A song for tough times: Eye of the Tiger, Survivor

    5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you: Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

  13. I’m with those who say the list could change some depending on the day, so I tried to think about the tried and true answers–songs that have staying power for me in each category.

    Here’s what I got:

    Uplifting = If You Want to Be Me, Cat Stevens

    Dance = Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant

    Sing = Favorite, Liz Phair

    Tough times = Hold On, Wilson Phillips

    Feisty = These Boots are Made for Walkin’, Nancy Sinatra

    But I’m with you on Benatar too, Jenny. Fab song. And back when videos first started, loved her videos too–fun to see another tiny woman like me who could really belt out the tunes:)

  14. Carol says:

    Like everyone else, this is completely subject to change according to day, atmospheric pressure, whim:

    Uplifting: My Life Would Suck Without You – Kelly Clarkson
    Dance: Like a Prayer – Madonna
    Sing: Daydream Believer – The Monkees
    Tough times: Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
    Ass kicking: Raise Your Glass – Pink

    Why yes, there is a little cheese on my pizza…

  15. MJ says:

    As I was scrolling through the replies, I thought, “The only answer I know for sure is singing with ‘Daydream Believer.'” Hey hey for the Monkees!

  16. Uplifting: Love Story by Taylor Swift
    Tough: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel
    Dance: Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
    Kick Ass: Brave by Sara Bareilles
    Sing Along: Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison

    What a weird collection. Must go workout and ponder. ; )

  17. Jane F says:

    Off the top of my head (I may work on it later):

    1. A song that lifts you up: Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly
    2. A song that makes you dance: Twist & Shout by the Beatles (?)
    3. A song that makes you sing along: Holding Out for a Hero from the Footloose Soundtrack
    4. A song for tough times: Only If For a Night by Florence and the Machine
    5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you: Let’s Get Down to Business from Mulan

  18. Cool. I’m having to really sort through all the songs in my head for this one.

    1. Lifts: Relax, by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
    2. Dance: She Bangs, by Ricky Martin
    3. Sing Along: Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen
    4. Tough Times: Who Wants to Live Forever, by Queen
    5. Kick Ass: Would I Lie to You, by The Eurythmics

    I was never one of the cool kids. I’m a nerd. I’m smart. I’m socially awkward. But I earned the friendship and protection of the two most popular football players in high school because I helped them with their German lessons. And now my 15-yo fake-niece thinks I’m cool: she told her boyfriend so! But mostly I laugh too loud, miss social cues and popular culture references, know way too much about H.P. Lovecraft and his Mythos, especially Cthulhu, and drop references to weird things like game theory, logical constructs, and role-playing games into everyday conversation. I’m happy with not being cool.

  19. Sure Thing says:

    Skipping to post so I don’t get influenced by everyRefabelse. Will read in a bit. Doing this stream of concious-like or association-exercise style.

    1. A song that lifts you up. Safri Duo ft Michael McDonald “Sweet Freedom”
    2. A song that makes you dance. AVICII – “Levels” and VARIOUS “Om Shanti Om” – title track of film soundtrack.
    3. A song that makes you sing along QUEEN & George Michael Live version of “Somebody to Love” but the Freddy Version kicks ass too. And “We will rock you” and “Barcelona”….
    4. A song for tough times – JAMES “Sit Down” and SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA “Don’t you worry child.”
    5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you. BON JOVI – “It’s my Life!” Best lyrics – “like Frankie said I did it my way.”

    Five? Hah!

  20. Liz Flaherty! If we aren’t sisters in some very real way, I’ll eat my hat! My list practically matches yours! Numbers 3 and 5 are different, but wowza!

    1. A song that lifts you up – Amazing Grace by Judy Collins

    2. A song that makes you dance – Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seegar

    3. A song that makes you sing along – You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor

    4. A song for tough times – Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

    5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you-Steamroller by James Taylor–maybe not all that inspiring to most, but words like “I’m gonna roll all over you…” can have so many meanings, even kick-ass ones, right?

    And yeah, Lizzie, we’re both that old! But at least we’re that old together, right? 😉

  21. mitchiewitch says:

    1. Uplifting – Waterfall by Chris Williamson

    2. Dance to – Old Time Rock & Roll by Bob Seeger

    3. Sing along – Power of Two by The Indigo Girls

    4. Tough times – A Thousand Beautiful Things by Annie Lennox
    5. Not Ready To Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks

  22. pamb says:

    1. A song that lifts you up

    Beach Boy’s Wouldn’t It Be Nice because it’s our song & it is. Nice.

    2. A song that makes you dance.

    Bob Segar’s Old Time Rock n Roll

    3. A song that makes you sing along

    Pretty much any. Really. But, so Jenny won’t scold me, Piano Man by Billy Joel. No, wait. Toby Keith’s Shoulda Been a Cowboy.

    4. A song for tough times

    Steve Earle’s Fearless Heart. Always.

    5. A feisty, ass-kicker song to inspire you.

    Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benetar? Doesn’t feel quite right, but can’t remember the one that’s hiding in my brain cells.

    Most interesting aspect to me is how resistant I am to whittling it down to 5.

  23. Kelly S says:

    Ooh, I think we’re from the same timeframe. I finally recognize 5 songs! I’m guessing you may also be a Highlander fan.

  24. RanchGirl says:

    Amen to that! Still have all her books, both hard back and very old paperbacks and re-read often. My favorite is Twelve Coaches Waiting, but Airs Above the Ground a close second.

  25. Uplifting: What a Wonderful World–Louis Armstrong
    Dance: Benny and the Jets–Elton John
    Sing Along: The Letter–Joe Cocker (or The Box Tops)
    Tough Times: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life–Monty Python
    Feisty ass-kicker: Under My Thumb–Rolling Stones

    This was HARD.

  26. Maine Betty says:

    Yes, Mike Post, he knew what he was doing. I heard the “Hill Street Blues” music on the radio the other day, it was like meeting an old friend.

  27. Maine Betty says:

    Uplifting: Nothing but the whole wide world, Jakob Dylan

    Dance: Love Shack, B-52s

    Sing Along: I sing along with everything.

    Tough Times: I have a need for solitude, Mary Chapin Carpenter. This usually sends me to bed in the fetal position, but then I get up and listen to something like “Mustang Sally”

    Feisty ass-kicker: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Aretha Franklin

  28. Fi.Mac says:

    Uplifting – Bad Day by Daniel Powter
    Dance – Raise your Glass by P!nk
    Sing – Escape (Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes
    Tough times – Throw Your Arms Around Me by Hunters and Collectors
    Feisty – Don’t stop me now by Queen

  29. Fi.Mac says:

    Dithering and have changed my mind.

    Tough times song should be Smile by pretty much anyone/everyone

  30. Carol says:

    Forgot about Bridge Over Troubled Water. Good song for tough times. This was the song played at a funeral for two grade 11 students who died in a car accident many years ago. That was a tough one. Great guys.

  31. RanchGirl says:

    Uplifting – When I get where I am going – Paisley/Parton

    Sing along – Songbird by Eva Cassidy

    Dance – Highway Song by Black Foot

    Tough times – The Rose – Bette Midler

    Feisty – Before he Cheats – Carrie Underwood

  32. RanchGirl says:

    Nine, yes, not Twelve. Guess I just liked the book so much I had to inflate the title. 🙂

  33. Katie says:

    Uplifting: Walkin’ On Sunshine, Katrina and Waves

    Makes me dance: Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5

    Makes me sing: A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles

    Tough Times: Big Cry, Sara Evans

    Feisty: Firebird Fly, Little Big Town

  34. mssarahb says:

    I just watched Harold & Maude last week and watching Ruth Gordon sing “If you want to be me” is one of the highlights. I had forgotten how great the song (and movie) are.

  35. Leigh says:

    Okay. I’m late and typing this out on my iPhone. Heaven knows what autocorrect will do.
    1. Our house (is a very very fine house)
    2. That old time rock and roll
    3. Oops there goes another rubber tree.
    3. Fuckinperfect
    4. How do you like me now?

  36. MJ says:

    Jenny, what a great smile on your album cover! Thanks for a topic that sparked fun conversation over our long weekend.

    Uplifting: On Eagles’ Wings (church song – M. Joncas)
    Dance: Cherish – Madonna
    Sing: Daydream Believer – The Monkees
    Tough times: Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
    Kick-ass feisty: Who Are You – The Who

  37. Redwood Kim says:

    Oh, I’m late to the party, but I still want to play.

    Uplifting: Southern Cross, Croby, Stills, and Nash
    Dance: Need You Tonight, INXS
    Sing: Roam, B-52s
    Tough times: Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel
    Feisty: Precious, The Pretenders

    Took me a while, but this is a damn fine list. I love it! Now I’m going to listen to some of yours.

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