I missed the memo about Oktoberfest.

My first name is Jamie, the feminine of James, as in King James, the old dead white guy.  My maiden name is Walker, like the shortbread. Short, white bread, that is.  So yeah, I’m ridiculously caucasian and I’ve always been a little embarrassed about that.  I once dated a very inappropriate Italian guy, whose shortcomings in character I forgave because I had always daydreamed about marrying someone with a last name that ended with a vowel.  I thought it would make me a more interesting person.

But turns out that the love of my life is named Ryan Ball.  Aw, c’mon!  Not only did I trade one boring Anglo name for another, I get one full of crazy pun potential.  Fine.  Fantastic.  “Jamie Benevento” would have been a little more colorful, but after all these years, I find that “Jamieball” suits me pretty well.  (And that’s no typo…people tend call me “Jamieball” like it’s all one word, but that’s another memo.)

So yeah, I’m white. And even with all of the benefits society affords me as a consequence, I’ve always felt like a woman without a color, and thus without much culture.  Just plain vanilla.  That was, until,  I attended my first Oktoberfest celebration. 

I polka’d . I yodelled.  I drank beer and downed shots of Jagermeister. There were seriously joyous people in laderhosen and drindl who were unapologetically corny and unironic in their enjoyment of all the festivities.  I loved it.  It was the first time I’d ever gone to a party and not felt tragically unhip.  I feel I have reasonably good social graces, but I am not and never have been particularly cool.   So it was so awesome to be around a whole gaggle of people who were likewise cool-challenged, but nonetheless, having ridiculous amounts of fun. 

I’m not sure I can parlay Oktoberfest into a cultural identity (at least not without starting to sound like a skinhead), but at least I’ve got an inkling of what it feels like to have a distinct heritage, and I suppose it kinda feels like a good buzz. 

So far I’ve only been to Oktoberfest events here in the States, and it’s on my Bucket List to get to Munich one year.  I think it’s a testament to the fact that Oktoberfest people really are my people that when watching the following video, I was laughing with them rather than at them (mostly). 


Roll out the barrel and memo received.

Beauty, Baby Bumps & Beyonce

I missed the memo about beauty, baby bumps and Beyoncé.

The other day I was surfing the interwebs and came across this article about Beyoncé’s video for her new single, “Countdown”. If I’m at a party and a Beyoncé song comes on, I’ll shake my booty as much as the next person, but I wouldn’t say that I’m a huge fan.  But since Beyoncé is now pregnant, she has become a lot more interesting to me.  I’m a sucker for a celebrity baby bump, I’ll admit it. I have a freakish fascination with the fecundity of famous people. There should probably be a 12-step program for this. 

I was curious to see how Beyoncé’s pregnancy was worked into the concept of the video and how it might have affected her dancing and performance style.  My curiosity was transformed to awe and admiration when I watched the video…here check it out…

Artistically, I think this video is tremendous fun and I’m on a personal mission to learn that neck move she’s doing about 90 seconds in.  But what makes this video extra special, to me at least, is that Beyoncé seems so happy, comfortable, and confident.  It’s her business to look awesome anytime she leaves the house and she’s often insanely glamorous in her fashion choices.  But in simple oversized shirts and her Audrey Hepburn-esque basic black turtleneck and leggings, I think Beyoncé has never looked more beautiful. 

It’s ingenious that this video cuts together footage from early weeks of Beyoncé’s pregnancy (in the black outfit, her tummy’s still flat, but the boobs are a dead giveaway) with a few snippets of her looking unmistakably pregnant.  The video isn’t “about” her being pregnant, but I think the fact that she was pregnant probably made a huge difference to the finished product.  I say this because my own experience of being a deliriously happy pregnant woman was pretty transformative. 

It’s cliché to say that pregnant women are “glowing” and all that crap, but something special does happen when you are happily attached to a good partner, you know yourself pretty well, and then you say to the universe, “I think I’m ready for a baby.”  Then you have sex with no contraception, which is a big thrill, and by sheer good luck, a baby starts growing in your body.   Statistically, getting pregnant is not on par with winning the lottery or anything, but when you really want to be pregnant, and you get pregnant, you feel like the luckiest person on the earth. 

So maybe that’s what I’m seeing in Beyoncé’s video…that extra gleam in her eye, the ease of her smile…when you’re that happy, it just bubbles to the surface pretty constantly.  Check this out…

That’s me about seven months pregnant.  I wasn’t one of those really fabulous pregnant women who looks perfectly proportioned and just looks like she has a basketball under her shirt.  I got a little bit fat all over and my belly actually had corners.  Nonetheless, I was so freakin’ happy and grateful for what was happening that I couldn’t help but smile straight into the camera for these pictures.  Today, if you ask to take my picture I glare and cower, but there I was, about as round as I was tall, feeling beautiful. 

Thanks, Beyoncé, for reminding me that my beauty isn’t just a function of how I’m looking on the outside, but how I’m feeling on the inside.  I’m not pregnant and may never be again, so I may never recapture that glow. But maybe, if I focus on my blessings and just try to be happy, I might manage a glimmer now and again.  Memo received.

Dark Energy

I missed the memo about Dark Energy. 

This past week a trio of sexy uber-geeks were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for their work which has advanced the understanding of a phenomenon called Dark Energy.  Oversimplified, Dark Energy explains why it is that the universe is expanding at an accelerated pace.  There were some crazy sophisticated telescopes and supernovae involved in figuring this out, but since I was about a C+ physics student, I’ll tap out now in trying to explain it any further. 

When I heard about Dark Energy, I kinda got the heebie jeebies. I mean, I’m already freaked out by entropy, so now I have to deal with the idea that not only are things falling apart, they’re falling apart faster than expected.  Am I the only one who is totally freaked out by this?

The concept of Dark Energy invites the inevitable discussion of The Force, as in, “Use The Force, Luke.” 

You gotta know that the nerds were all over this one before you could say "Photoshop".

In the Star Wars mythology, The Force has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together, kind of like duct tape.  Turns out the true state of cosmological affairs might not be too different from Star Wars.  Gravity draws stuff together; Dark Energy pushes stuff apart. And apparently the universe is comprised of a whole lot of Dark Energy.  No wonder I am so tired trying to keep body and soul together.

Another thing about Dark Energy that kind of rocked my world is that it apparently comprises three quarters of the universe, yet until a few years ago, no one knew it existed. Talk about your missed memos. The idea that something can be ubiquitous but somehow imperceptible is pretty trippy.  But here’s the thing…maybe Dark Energy wasn’t discovered until recently because its existence doesn’t fit neatly into  what we already understood about cosmology.  It’s hard to see something that’s not supposed to exist, even if it’s right in front of your face.  My brain isn’t wired to understand these things, but apparently the discovery of Dark Energy represents a revolutionary shift in the way we’re to understand the universe.  I’m not sure what that means, but if permits the advent of teleportation technology like in Star Trek, then I’m totally down with it. 

Seriously...this would make living in Los Angeles so much easier.

I’m not sure what my point is here, and maybe I don’t really have one.  I’m just looking at the stars a little differently these days.  And knowing that there’s a lot of dark energy out there makes me a little more grateful for the light. Stargazing, and memo received.