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5 Things I’ve Learned From Lady Gaga

24 Mar

I’ll just come right out and admit it; over the last few months, I have become a Lady Gaga fan, aka a “Little Monster” (along with some of my fellow bloggers *cough* Matt Chevy).  If you’re unfamiliar with who Lady Gaga is, please come out from that rock you’re under.  She’s become immensely popular, which for me is usually a sign that I would never enjoy her music.  I’ve never been a real big fan of pop music, and didn’t much care for “Poker Face” when I first heard it.  But I heard other songs by her, saw some of the extravagant outfits she wears, watched her perform on TV, and eventually saw an interview.

Wow.  A truly genuine, truly original, truly hard working, truly devoted and strangely alluring artist.  Emphasis on artist.  I was quickly converted to a Little Monster.

After listening to her two albums, watching and reading many interviews, and seeing her live in Radio City Music Hall, I’ve learned some things I definitely didn’t expect to from someone who “wants your bad romance

To me, these things apply to me as a blogger, as a writer, and as a person setting off into the first year of their career.

They can probably apply to you and some aspect of your life as well.

1. Love What you Do

There’s really only one place to start: doing what you love.  Gaga may have gained her massive popularity over the last year or so, but that success represents a lifetime of work.  From a young age, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was passionate about music- so that’s what she did.  Practicing piano from age 4, went to school to study music, and spent years playing at open mic nights and dive bars (you can read the full details of her back story here). Gaga spent her entire life working towards her goals, putting in the effort endlessly because she was doing what she loves.  We all can’t be incredibly successful pop stars, but we can always follow what we love, and be true to ourselves, no matter our individual situation.  You may not have your dream job, you may not be where you want to be quite yet, but don’t let your passions go.  Start a blog about what you love, start a web comic, start writing more.  Replace time spent watching TV with doing something you’re passionate about.  Try it.

2. Be Your Authentic Self

Everything Lady Gaga does is about individuality.  Her most recent tour is called “The Monster Ball” tour.  Gaga said, “I don’t care what people think about me, I care what they think about themselves.”  The idea of the Monster Ball was to create a free environment where her fans could be themselves and release their inner freak, and not feel self-conscious.  It worked.  The show I went to one of the shows on this tour and saw some of the most unique “outfits” I’ve ever seen.  I’ve never seen l so much leather, sequins, duct tape, flashing lights, tin foil, confidence and charisma in one place.
Now translate this into your online/professional identity.  Granted, you shouldn’t wear this to your next job interview or change you LinkedIn picture to something with lots of leather and glitter, but be authentic.  Worry less about forging a bland personal brand, and spend more thought in developing your own unique style and skill set.  Bring your own blend of flavors to whatever you do.  We’re all individuals, so why work against what you’ve already got going for you that makes you stand out?

3. Filter Criticism

We’ve all heard some pretty extreme rumors about Lady Gaga.  When asked how she deals with all the scrutiny, she responded “Only value the opinion of those that you respect.”  Short and sweet.

4. Hate Money

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word; we all have to pay the bills and buy coffee now and again. During her show at Radio City Music Hall, Gaga said “Do you know what the 2nd thing is that I hate most?  Money.  I hate money.”  In the beginning to her song Teeth, she says “Don’t want your money, (that shit’s ugly)”  It was rumored that she spends all her money on her shows.  When asked about it, she said “Yeah,” without hesitation.  “Ask my manager,” she said chuckling.  “I’d much rather have the biggest show on Earth than the best house..”  An article in January estimates that the Monster Ball Tour “lost $4 million.”  They say lost, I say cost; either way, Lady Gaga values what she loves over money.  What’s the point of being rich if you’re not pursuing what you love?

The takeaway here is that many of us (myself included) loose sight of what they truly love in pursuit of money. Work a job making less money doing something you love, instead of a high paying job you hate going to every day.
Gaga did mention the thing she hates the most, even more than money: the truth.

5. Make the Lie True

In an interview with Fuse after being asked when she decided to fully become “Gaga” instead of Stephanie, she replied “It’s sort of like a mantra.  You know, you repeat it to yourself every day: music is my life, music is my life, the fame is inside of me, I’m going to make a number one record, with number one hits.  And it’s not yet; it’s a lie.  You’re saying a lie over and over and over again.  And then one day, the lie is true.”  She announces at her shows, “People say Lady Gaga is a lie, and they are right. I am a lie. And every day I kill to make it true.” She’s also said “I operate from a place of delusion… I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be – and then to fight so hard for it every day that the lie becomes the truth.”

Although this an extreme example of goal setting, it does stress the point that to accomplish your goals, you have to have a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve, and you have to be infinitely positive and confident about reaching that goal. This post will get 100 comments, this post will get 100 comments.  One of them will be from Gaga.


Thoughts, comments? What life lessons have you taken away from a musician or their music?

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The Gift of Receiving

5 Jan

I’ll be honest, I’m one of those people who takes forever on deciding to buy or not buy something at the store.  I waffle over even the smallest purchases, even if I can afford it, even if it’s something I need because I relentlessly interrogate myself with the same question: “Is there something better I could be spending this money on?”  Yes, I could use that new coat, or I could save the money for a new phone, but I don’t need a new phone half as bad as I need a new computer.” And the it goes on and on and, unfortunately, usually kills the enjoyment of treating myself to something.  But, if I get a new coat or something as a gift, I can fully enjoy it, guilt free.  There’s no second guessing or regretting a choice I didn’t make.  Now, let me tell you the other (bit more unusual) circumstance when I can release regret and get a similar feeling of warm fuzzies.

For you non-New Jerseyans who don’t know, NJ Transit is a hot mess.  Late trains, conductors with extra loud North Joisey accents, and about a 1:3 drunk to sober passenger ration after 5pm.  But riding the train is so soothing to me, therapeutic almost.  When I’m on the train, I know I’m going to be on it for a set period of time, and I know that there’s only a few options as far as what I can do (anything productive is pretty much out) during this time.  I can listen to music, relax, read, or write, which is actually how I finally got around to writing this post I’ve been meaning to get down for the past two weeks.  I take a subtle comfort in the temporary surrender of control, and with it, the surrender of responsibility and self burden I put on myself to be productive.  It goes back to the same question as in the store when I’m buy something: “Is there something else better I could be doing with my time?”  I should write that blog post, but before I can do that I really should clean up my website, but I shouldn’t do any of that until I’ve cleaned up my apartment a bit. And in the calmness of the train ride, I feel like a child in a sandbox.  Focus and creativity come more easily because my mind isn’t being pulled in dozens of directions about what I could/should be doing.  The train gives me peace of mind or, at least, sets the circumstances for me to receive it.  The calm combined with constantly passing scenery creates, for me at least, a unique writing environment (similar to my previous posts on the airport as a writing environment).

When you’re on the train, what you write is the conversation you would’ve had if you weren’t traveling alone.

The Writer’s Block

7 Dec

Image from Phoenix.Fanster.com

The true, worst kind of Writer’s Block isn’t what you think.

That big, white block, standing clearly in your way as you desperately search for ways around it, over it, through it, away from it.  A fierce and persistent critic, cutting down your every idea, pleased with an ever growing pile of crumpled up pieces of paper and unfinished drafts.   A thin, invisible film covering your fingers and brain, paralyzing everything you need to create.  A massive military resistance, too vast to even begin to plan an attack against.

The real Writer’s Block is none of these things.  It’s what you don’t think.

Writer’s Block is something so deadly and devastating, so stomach turning and persistent, so cold,  that you don’t even know it’s there.  It’s not a mountain of crumpled papers, but a neatly stacked pile, untouched.  It’s end of the day, after a full day of work, and turning on Dancing With The Stars because you’re too tired to think.  It’s on Thanksgiving, when you’re parents ask you, “So, what have you been up to lately?” and you respond with “Oh you know, the usual.”  It’s not noticing you haven’t written anything in weeks.  Months.  Years.  It’s reaching the end of your life as a working professional and realizing, you should have written a novel.   It’s not an enemy, it’s apathy. A lack.  Not concrete but conditional. Something you can’t fight because you’re not even aware that it’s there.  Sapping you.  Making you unable.

The only cure,  is sudden Consciousness.

The Etymology of a Poem

6 Feb

Being in my senior seminar, the topic of which is sonnets, has got me thinking about (and apparently writing) poetry.  Poems aren’t the usual posting format for this blog, but the poem post makes more sense when accompanied by this one.

In my sonnet class we go over the meter and form of poems, and how that aspect is related in conveying the meaning of the poem.  With this in mind, I felt compelled to write my own short little poem, and keep in mind while writing it all the aspects of form that go along with the meaning, as well as tracking every step of revision.  And what better place (more like where else) to post it than right here.

Here’s all the slight revisions which eventually resulted in the poem posted.

Round 1

The snow makes my apartment feel smaller.
Makes the walls all feel closer,
Not quite closing in,
But keeping everything penned.

Round 2

Snow makes my apartment feel smaller.
Makes the walls all feel closer,
Not quite closing in,
But keeping everything penned.

First revision I just took out the junk word: The.  No big change here, just being neat.

Round 3

Snow makes my apartment feel small.
Makes the walls all feel closer,
Not quite closing in,
But keeps everything penned.

Changed smaller to small, (subtly contributing to the meaning by making the actual word and line smaller) and changed keeping to keeps making it kind of echo the word makes from the first line but more so, to make each line contain only one polysyllabic word accompanied by other, single syllable words.  Significant in a poem about tiny pieces of snow making a room feel smaller?

Round 4

Snow makes my apartment feel small.
The walls all feel closer,
Not quite closing in,
But keeps everything penned.

More being neat by taking out “makes” from the second line.  The only other semi-technical aspect to consider is the word “penned.” It can mean Keeps everything penned meaning closed in, or penned meaning written down with a pen.  I hate ruining the a-ha moment of reading when you discover a word has a double meaning, and wondering if the author intended it, but such is the nature of this poem break-down post.
Anything else you can interpret or notice, please feel free to comment.
Also, a breakdown of a sonnet may eventually follow, depending how much more they get drilled into my head.

-Presto

p.s.

I take back the next post being about a sonnet.  I’ll probably make it something more entertaining for those non-litt, non-bookwork readers!

Shut In – A poem.

3 Feb

Snow makes my apartment feel small.
The walls all feel closer,
Not quite closing in,
But keeps everything penned.