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Building My Blanket Fort with Pop Culture

It’s all hills and valleys sometimes, and in the past week, I went from a mountain (meeting Carrie Fisher and spending a few days with people I love dearly) to a valley (getting some not so great news about someone in my family and going back to super stress at work) in less than a week. I’m okay, but I’m also in tune enough with myself that I can recognize I’m not 100% okay. I feel like I’m dancing at a party where everyone’s looking to me to keep it going, so even though I want to sit down or go home and curl up with Netflix, I have to keep dancing and singing to keep up the party’s energy. I’m not in a place where I can retreat completely, even though sometimes it’s all I want to do. Now, I’m working on things to reduce the amount of pressure I feel, so I’m feeling less frantic than I was a couple of days ago, but I’m still a sore heart and a raw nerve away from totally feeling normal.

So what’s a girl to do when she feels a bit adrift in the world? Certainly talking things through with people I love has been helpful, but for one so wrapped in pop culture such as I, it’s second nature to wrap myself in the comfort of my pop culture security blankets. Here are a few items I use to build my pop culture blanket fort:

Music

Music is a fantastic escape for me. Sometimes listening to some really sad music helps me feel that much better.

Patty Griffin, “Rain”

This song is beautiful, and it perfectly matches a dark mood.

Sonic Youth, “Superstar”

I love the original version of this song, but man, this one is so satisfying when I’m sad. Plus, Kim Gordon looks gorgeous in this video.

David Kitay, “Ghost World Theme”

We’ll talk more about this movie in a moment, but when I need a quick theme song for feeling adrift, this is one of the few that will do.

Ryan Adams, “Off Broadway”

This one is great when I’m tired and I wanna go home.

Avett Brothers, “Paranoia in B Flat Major”

This song comes from my favorite of the Avett Brothers’ albums, Emotionalism. Many of the tracks on this album are great for partly cloudy moods, but this one always hits right at home. (Honorable mention to “Die, Die, Die,” though, for always making me cry.)

Velvet Underground, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'”

Thanks, High Fidelity, for this song. It’s beautiful enough to listen to anytime, but it has a special beauty when things are dark.

The Dan Band, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”

Sometimes you just need to sing a power ballad laced with F-bombs.

Rent Soundtrack

My late uncle sent me a copy of this when I was in high school. I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear in terms of learning that Broadway was more than shows like Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. I still love to revisit it, and I even liked the movie. It’s a great soundtrack for drifting into and out of a funk.

Movies

Movies are a great escape any day, but on days when I’m feeling lost or out of place, these films always help me.

Ghost World

This is my be-all, end-all, “I’m sad and lost” movie. Though I watch it often when I’m not feeling that way, since it’s one of my favorite films, it truly makes me feel better when I’m sad. Enid Coleslaw so perfectly embodies that otherworldly sense of not belonging anywhere. Plus, it’s one of the best comic adaptations to date, so that’s a plus.

Reality Bites

My freshman year of college, I went through a severe bout of depression. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s what it was. (I still have remnants of depression from time to time, but I’m much better at managing it.) I was suicidal at one point, after failing a couple of classes and generally feeling like I’d never get back on track. I rented this movie because I didn’t see it in high school, even though I owned the soundtrack, and it spoke to me so much. The characters on the screen felt lost, too, and it was comforting. I eventually bought my own copy, and the first week I owned it, I watched it daily. Eventually that summer I went down to about weekly, most of the time as part of a double feature with St. Elmo’s Fire.

High Fidelity

I already named a song from the soundtrack, but the whole movie is one of my favorite security blankets. Rob Gordon puts as much emphasis on pop culture as my friends and I do when building relationships, so he’s definitely a kindred spirit.

Almost Famous

This movie–I tell ya. When it came out, I saw it a few times at the theatre, and it’s become one of my favorites. I love escaping into William Miller’s world, and I love Cameron Crowe for making such a gorgeous film. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, but the last time I did was on a particularly sleepless night during my brief time with bronchitis. I cried way more than I should have, probably because of exhaustion.

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

Though it’s true I can watch this movie at any time, when I’m feeling small already, Pee-wee cheers me up.

Big

Tom Hanks always cheers me up, but especially in this one.

Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other geeky films

Sometimes when I’m feeling blue, I need to see my heroes on the screen. Though it’s true I can watch any of these films at any time, seeing people I admire or escaping into a world far removed from my own helps me feel a bit less lost.

TV, Toys, Books, and Food

I tend to focus more on movies and music, but there are a few other corners of pop culture that help me through blue days.

Daria and My So-Called Life

I can’t help it. I’m a Gen-Xer (or I’m at least on the cusp of Gen-X and Gen Y). These shows helped me through my angst-ridden days as a teen, and they help me now.

TV Shows from My Childhood

It’s fairly apparent I’m a nostalgia junkie, but when I need a cocoon of pop culture, shows like Bosom Buddies or Laverne & Shirley are havens when I’m seeking shelter from my own brain.

Traveling with Toys

When I need to calm my mind, I often grab a toy off a shelf and take some pictures. If I’m going somewhere that makes me anxious, I stick a plastic friend in my pocket or purse. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid, and it still seems to help.

Ghost World

What, again? Yes. Basically any form of this work by Daniel Clowes is my depression security blanket.

Madman Atomic Comics

Mike Allred wrote this 17-issue series during one of his existential crises, and I read it during one of mine. It holds up as one of my favorite series ever, and my favorite with Frank Einstein.

Killing Yourself To Live

This book of essays by Chuck Klosterman got me through a scary time when my mom was in the hospital, and I’ve revisited it a few times since then.

The Portable Dorothy Parker

Mrs. Parker writes lovely stories, snarky reviews, and some beautiful poetry. Several of her poems are perfect for dark times, especially “Symptom Recital”.

French Fries!

I’m basically the French fry Hulk–my secret is that I always want French fries. That said, when I’m feeling low, salty, crispy/fluffy potatoes make everything better.

So there you have it–my blanket fort of pop culture, or at least part of it, anyway. What are your go-to pop culture security blankets? Feel free to share in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Building My Blanket Fort with Pop Culture

  1. Love all the parts of your blanket. Most are different from mine, but I just love how you describe and show them here.
    My blanket fort has a foundation of Star Trek. Any one of the series. Voyager is my personal favorite. There is always some moral and personal conundrums to be solved, usually in a thought provoking positive manner for our traveling members of the Federation. I would say Harry Potter is also a big comfort for me. I can pick up one of the books, either hard copy or audio, listen to the soundtrack or watch one of the movies and I am instantly transported to the magical world.
    If I am in need of a pick me up I listen to Weird Al Yankovic. He cheers me up most times. I can’t help but laugh at his songs and marvel at his cleverness.
    The movies It’s a Wonderful Life or Field of Dreams inspire me and make me feel better. And of course, the Star Trek movies (especially the new ones.)
    I also enjoy tv shows from my youth. Dragnet, Adam-12, Emergency (shows where the police and firefighters and citizens all got along). I also love Quantum Leap. Sam and Al making the world a better place, one leap at a time.
    I really enjoy your posts and thanks for asking about our blanket forts!

  2. Ugh yes! The times when we need security blankets or a hiding place from reality hopefully don’t hit to often but man when they do? Jeez.

    For me: Music by Prince, TMBG, the GotG ST, Buddy Holly and Louis Armstrong all make me feel secure. Tori Amos used to be a HUGE security blanket. When I first started the job I currently work at about a decade ago and I was nervous and depressed all the time, I pretty much had her first 5 albums on a repeating loop on my iPod. Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, Cake, and Modest Mouse all get dragged out when I’m in need of a mood cleansing as well. Some specific sad songs I listen to when I’m blue include “You Didn’t Kiss Me” by Marry Me Jane and “Asleep” by the Smiths.

    When I’m thinking comfort films I go to some weird places. “Punch Drunk Love” is one I watch when I’m feeling weird and need to see other people being weird and thriving in it. So is Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and the movie “Brick” (with Joseph Gordon Levitt) and “Bubba Ho-Tep” believe it or not. As stupid as it sounds there is something very emotionally raw about Bubba Ho-Tep. A lot of the movie is about getting over regrets. Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely one that pumps me up, and Pulp Fiction is just a charged up battery waiting to zap me back into the swing of things.

    As for other sources of media? I love reading my friends’ blogs, and checking out sites like postsecret.com, 1000awesomethings.com, and watching clips of classic Sesame Street routines on youtube. I also shamelessly play with the toys in the Geek cave. I grab a handful of toys to take pictures of for Instagram, but the excuse is just to hold them in my hands, look them over, and imagine them in situations together. What would Egon make of Groot? Wall-E meeting BB8 for the first time… etc. Toys have loooong been therapy for me though. Sometimes when I get depressed I go stalking at Goodwill… but if I don’t find anything that can just make me feel worse so I try not to rely on that as a mood enhancer. Old comic books maybe don’t cheer me up, but they definitely hypnotize me into forgetting the world around me, and sometimes that’s all I’m looking for.

    Anyway… this was a great read! I love that you are so open about the fact that you sometimes just need a self-imposed timeout in the pillow fort away from everybody. I totally GET that.

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