How Lady Gaga Kept Me (Mentally) on the Grid

Author note: I know I usually write about food topics, but as my tagline above reads “critical thoughts on here, now, eating and drinking,” well, I’ve allowed myself a little bit of wiggle room to stretch out my writing topics beyond the hottie foodie things. This here essay is an example of the “here and now” part. I wrote it this past Christmas and hope you enjoy it.

It’s Christmas. And I’m on a plane. I’m going home to San Diego with my partner of 10 years by my side. I’m approaching 30. I’m leaving my secure job of three years. It’s been a hellva year.

And all these swirling events are leading me to one solid conclusion: Lady Gaga has saved me from running to the woods.

Let me explain.

I’ve become increasingly ornery over this past year. Maybe it’s related to the severe lack of sun, maybe it’s related to some other personal issue, all I know is that my patience has been at it’s lowest in recent memory. I get irritated more and more by “the grid,” and frankly, this is very unusual. I’ve always been such a fan of density, people, traffic, busyness… cities have always meant action, excitement and opportunity in my book. But this year, it’s weird; I’ve become a total urban grump. The sound of the bus going by grates me, pollution of all kinds disgusts me, and to-go containers frustrate me beyond belief. When I’m not working, I have to spend at least a few hours outside, or else, forget it; I’m a total bitch.

What’s happening to me? Are the stars pushing me to the sticks? Should I try and turn these daydreams into reality and go work on an organic farm somewhere and completely abandon my iPhone, Twitter account, blog and ambition to create a career in writing and creative communications?

Then Lady Gaga comes around and makes me feel, well, like the old me again. And who is that exactly? A girl born and raised on pop music, with an endless appetite for creative culture and the ambition to write about it.

I saw her Bad Romance video after Perez Hilton Twittered about it, and I’ve been forcing anyone I can to watch it since. I had two friends in from out of town for New Year’s Eve, and since they weren’t familiar with her, I declared it, “Lady Gaga Awareness Day” and played her cd and videos on repeat.

She gets me excited about culture again, and all that comes along with it. It’s due to her brave theatrical fashion, her controversial sexuality, her addictive glossy songs, and her art-forward videos. NPR journalist, Shana Naomi Krochmal writes, “She’s not just selling sex; she’s selling art,” which in the landscape of mainstream culture, is a little unusual. And that got me cheering for her while reassuring me that modern capitalist civilization isn’t completely void of smart, new, creative ways to celebrate itself. She’s out there happy, having a good time, and I’m afraid it’s a little contagious.

Does that mean I’m patronizing the Wendy’s drive-thru on a regular basis? Well, no (Gawd no!) – and the bus exhaust still can bum me out, but it’s not sending me into a complete hermit shell like it used to. So when Lady Gaga sings, “Just dance – it’s gonna be okay,” I believe her.

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