Spotify Algorithm vs. Elmo

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Elmo is hell-bent on corrupting my Spotify algorithm. Sharing my music streaming account with my toddler means that “Brush Your Teeth” by Doc McStuffins was named my favorite song of 2021. While all evidence points to the contrary, “Brush Your Teeth” is most certainly not my favorite song, not by a long shot.

Lately, my tiny boss has been insisting that Best of Sesame Street be the soundtrack to every car trip instead of Mommy’s music. Can’t we compromise and listen to Coldplay? How about “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd? I’m easily responsible for half of that song’s 2.8 billion listens on Spotify. Nope! my tiny boss says. Those are boring!

The problem is that my daughter’s songs are earworms. For this very reason, I’ve never permitted her to listen to “Baby Shark.” That song is irrevocably banned in our house. (True story: outside Port Authority bus station in NYC, “Baby Shark” was blasted on repeat over speakers to discourage homeless encampments from forming under scaffolding.)

During moments of mild peril, like a near car crash or while awaiting test results in the recovery room at an outpatient surgery center, I have had Elmo’s high-pitched voice singing away in my head (“La-la, la-la, Elmo’s song….la-la, la-la, Elmo’s song….”). It’s a peculiar kind of torture. The absurdity of these children’s songs stuck on repeat inside my head robs me of my dignity.

I fear that when death comes for me, instead of my life flashing before my eyes or me gazing in wonder at a peaceful white light, Elmo’s voice will be the last one I hear. Leave me be, Elmo! Let me panic normally in moments of peril, let me go silently into the light when it’s my time. More pressingly, let my Spotify algorithm be restored!

Eat, Pray, Live

I escaped the east coast winter for five magical days in San Diego

Photo courtesy of the author

I didn’t speak to my younger sister for ten years. For an entire decade it was as though she had never existed. She who, as a little girl, sat on our shared bed holding her blankie and weeping because she wasn’t getting hugged enough after our parents split up.

As adults, we argued often. More often, we had fun together, but the spats lasted longer and longer. Then, I cut her out of my life. The birth of my daughter thankfully brought us back together.

She says that the first five years were deserved – until she quit drinking. But that means there were still five years wasted. Of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, this is one of the most painful. But we’re doing what we can to make up for lost time.

I spent the past five days in San Diego, to celebrate my sister’s fortieth birthday. This visit focused on purifying the temple of the body: we observed a plant-based diet, did yoga and walked more than 15,000 steps every day, and attended a Hare Krishna temple service. We ogled ground squirrels, pelicans, seals, and lizards. As we soaked up the sun, I was immensely appreciative for the 80-degree weather, having left snow flurries behind me in the NE. While also being spoiled with 8-10 hours of sleep each night, it was a mental health break in all respects.

I greatly admire the progress my sister has made in her life. She is accomplished: a college professor who is also a photo shoot stylist and a world traveler. She brings positivity to others’ lives and builds community. She decided not to become a parent because she didn’t feel she had the patience, and I respect the hell out of that. Above all, I would characterize her as a doer. She took care of me for a week last spring after I underwent a major surgery, she’s a fun and loving aunt to my daughter, and she cares about fashion despite everyone in our family being born into tie-dye and sandals. She’s a natural optimist despite hailing from a background that instills anything but.

I’ve just lived a week in her shoes, and a glorious week it was. She could sell this experience: healthy eating, daily exercise, massage, wildlife viewing, lots of rest. For me, as a mother who works full time, in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a freezing NE winter, these days of sun, exercise, and rest were just what the doctor ordered.

I hope you, reader, are likewise finding ways to take care of yourself. We all deserve a break, especially in these trying times.

Lack of knowledge in the garden of Eden

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I find it interesting how the fall of Eden was supposedly brought about by Eve chomping into the apple of knowledge. We never question the validity of that premise. Oh yeah, she did the one thing she wasn’t supposed to do.

But we’re talking about the beginning of time, humanity’s very inception. What knowledge even existed in those first few weeks and months? Adam and Eve didn’t even have clothing yet – which indicates no awareness of comfortable cotton garments in place of fig leaves which were unbearably prickly against their nether regions.

There was no Internet, no books, no newspapers, no social influencers (beyond a snake) – there was nothing at all beyond a garden populated by some creatures and two humans. There was no knowledge to be had. No knowledge to be shared.

If Adam had a Twitter account, the extent of his tweets would be: “Saw a new bird today. It had a green head but a red tail – whut!!” or “Watched a panda fall off a log today, sneeze, then jump in surprise at its own shenanigans. ROFL.” Eve’s tweets would be: “Took a different path to the pond this morning. Got bit by a mosquito. FML.” and “Just because I’m made from this guy’s rib doesn’t give him the right to mansplain every little thing to me! Grrl Pwr!”

For there to be knowledge there must be history, experience. Without eons of history behind them, there were no secrets, no hot gossip. There weren’t even stories. The sole current event was: Earth, created.

To claim Eve nibbled on a forbidden apple is to imply that she suffered from FOMO. But there was nothing to miss out on. There weren’t parties, treasure hunts, bungee jumping, or reality shows. Adam and Eve couldn’t learn about what the heck NFTs or cryptocurrency are, how celebrities are supposedly just like us, or ways to prevent cabin fever. It was just the two of them, doing the same limited activities day after day.

Eden was a beautiful garden to be sure, but the one thing that didn’t grow on trees was knowledge.