making puddings and knitting stockings


"Love is what I need to help me know my name."

Seal should be clubbed. The message of "Love’s Divine" is as antediluvian as a monogrammed oven mitt. It’s very Tess of the d’Urbervilles, or even Jane Eyre–the idea that out of two hearts, they beat as one. I hate this. Every single reference to two heads on one pillow, united as one, and then the glorified belief that we’ll feel complete (Thanks, Cameron) with another. Adam’s rib.

Rolling eyes.

Love is what I need to help me know my name??? You’ll tell me who I really am?
The worst of it is this: grown women drive around town and sing along. By grown women, I mean me. For about three seconds. And then I wanted to drive into a wall. Instead, I switched stations and realized that I’ve yet to find a good alternative station out there. Maybe it’s time to upgrade to Sirius. To a show where it’s not just compelling talk and guests. A show dedicated only to songs with good lyrics. Lyrics that move you. Lyrics so sly, you wish they’d been yours. A turn of phrase that catches you by surprise and in that moment just solidified an emotion you had no other means of expressing. I believe in love, the power of it to transcend every bit of reason and every forlorn circumstance. I believe in a lover driven to change. I believe in chasing down taxicabs, hoping to get to her as quickly as possible. In grabbing the arm of a stranger, hoping to pull her into an embrace, only for her to turn around with "Watch it, Jerk," learning you’d mistaken her for the one person you want most. But let’s be clear. It’s want. Not need.



  1. Sorry, but I have to disagree.
    Love is all we NEED, like the Beatles sang – and they`re right.
    And back to Seal: "Love`s divine" – so true.
    Cannot imagine my life without love; without this game of give and take.

  2. I vote for the upgrade to Sirius. Howard Stern beats cheesy love songs any day of the week. ;-) Plus, there's a great station called, "Hair Nation"- White Lion, Whitesnake, Great White, Poison, Cinderella- you name it. Nostalgia at it's very high school best.

  3. Another offender is that "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” tripe. And the gaaawwwwwdd awful “Because You Loved Me". Those are Dr. Phil “very special episodes” waiting to happen.

  4. Totally agree with you. Sadly, I think for a lot of people, it takes someone else…loving them, knowing them… to love themselves. But if you already truly love yourself, you don't NEED someone else to be happy/complete. When you already love yourself, it can be about partnership, romance, adventure…instead of filling a hole. And the truth is, love can be many things. For me, I definitely hope to share my life with a lifelong partner. But if not, at the end of my years, I'll be more than content if I can say I've shared love and adventure and friendships with an incredible cast of characters of family, friends, even strangers. Romantic love isn't the end all…despite what the songs say

  5. That's how I feel about Avril Lavigne telling me It's Complicated. Really Avril?

    For me, Secret Heart by Feist and The Art Teacher by Rufus Wainwright both have those lyrics that sneak up, take me by surprise and then my breath.

  6. Thank-you! I second all of this and more.

    Romantic love does not define who you are as a person. If it does, then I pity that poor soul.

    It really is all about want. What do YOU want???

  7. Oooooh! That "I'm everything I am because you loved me" is the WORST! It's why people get married to avoid being "alone". Hello…you're always alone with yourself- get to like it and maybe a partner you can appreciate will too.

  8. "Love is what I need to help me know my name??? You'll tell me who I really am?"

    Well, … not really . He says "love", not "your love" or "you". In love we discover ourselves, we find traits we never knew existed, good or not-so-good. It's not a question of independence, I think, or of self-definition through others. It's about self-definition through the cognition of our emotional responses and our darkest corners. The way we love and respond to love is part of who we are.

    Btw, I just love the lyrics of Sting's "Shape of my heart" and "Until". The man knows how to write!

  9. I was going to post the worst lyrics of this ilk I'd ever heard, a Dusty Springfield hit with the lyrics "You don't have to say you love me, just be close at hand," and then I looked it up. Turns out it was originally an Elvis tune. Interesting that, when she sings it, she sounds desperate; when he sings it he sounds patient and giving. Not sure how I feel about that.

  10. It's true that song lyrics can be stupid beyond belief, but it's also possible to be too literal. Think of Seal's line in the context of giving birth to your first baby — the love you have for a perfect stranger is unfathomable, and impossible to describe, and changes who you are forever ("help me know my name" — Mommy/Daddy!!). Probably not what Seal was writing about — but that's kind of the point. You interpret someone's lyrics — their poetry — for your own life. Love IS divine, and there are many kinds of love.

  11. I don't think I've listened to commercial radio 6 times since we got XM 3 years ago. It's wonderful. I've listened to Sirius too, but prefer both the hosts and content on XM. Further, when you subscribe you also get free access via your computer, something that Sirius also provides. However, XM prints the title & artist/composer/orchestra..whatever pertains… on the screen while Sirius does not when you're listening via your computer. I can't vouch for the information on an in-car radio or boom box type radio since it's been a while since we've rented a car with Sirius & I don't remember. I love cabaret music + the Great American Songbook and XM's channel 73, High Standards, is much, much better than Sirius' in that department. I also vastly prefer XM's classical station, 110 (they have 3) to Sirius'. We have XM in each of our cars, on a portable "boom box" in the kitchen, and on each of our computers, which translates to highly satisfied customers.

  12. you expect way too much. don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to believe in love, but you have so many ingrained "pictures" of exactly how things should be. your holidays, your moment's with your lover, your ideal this, your ideal that. do you ever just relax and let things happen? it seems that you are constantly setting yourself up for disappointment by having this perfect vision of how each situation should be. i can imagine how that could frustrate a partner – constantly having to live up to a dream.

  13. All I can think of as I read this is that at least I know how I like my eggs (get the reference?). So while I agree with other posters that love does help define who you are through how you handle certain situations, I know that you have to know who you are at least a bit, or you end up morphing into a mini-version of the other half. And that's just no good at all!

    Love the blog! Been reading it for a full year now. :)

  14. Just gotta throw something out there: Diane Warren (the songwriter) wrote the song with "because you loved me" about her dad, and the support he always gave her. Not a love interest. I saw it on Oprah.

  15. It always seems to me that you crave the drama of a single woman's flings with bad men, rather than the reality of a marriage. Maybe you should re read SUAD!

  16. Am really not feeling your use of antediluvian. What meaning were you going for?

    FROM SK: ancient history, so outdated we're talking pre-Noah's ark.

  17. Christy: Runaway Bride? Not only did I get the ref., I recall an “ah ha” moment when I sAw the movie. (Strange how much I can NOT stand J.R., but that scene and a scene from PW are among my favs.).

    The topic of this post is a hard one for me. I've found some of the most glorious moments in my life in the love of a man, and some of the most painful and heart-wrenching as well. So, the way i look at it: “love stinks, yeah yeah” = times not so good. and all the sap-ass lyrics previously quoted = the good times. i think we all have, need (and on a subconscious level, "want") all of it. Otherwise how do we know the difference, i.e. know better, thusly…live, love, learn, etc. on the other hand, i really dig Alanis' lyrics, and boy can she tell it when she's down low…

    Back in 99 I met and was swept off my feet by “Mr. Perfect”. Within just over a year…I was in the deepest misery every…made worse by being trapped in my apartment in a snow storm, alone, no booze, out of cigs, and the TV on the blitz one particular weekend. All I had on tape at the time was happy relationship movies, and Shrek (which I watched over and over… “Donkey!!”).

    I soon thereafter truly learned the meaning of “the fine line b/w love and hate”, etc. Hence, I was miserable, but I would not trade it for the world.

    I’m bored at work today….can you tell? It’s freakin’ awesome outside, and I’m trapped at my desk working on all this shite piled up from my vacation 3 weeks ago. Ugh.

    Happy Friday/weekend y’all…

  18. I work in jazz (as a writer, photographer and publicist) and my playlist reflects that. It's where my heart is. But when I'm looking for great lyrics to sing along to that aren't from the standards rep I go to Joni Mitchell, Ron Sexsmith, Leonard Cohen, Jill Scott, Feist, Nina Simone, Inda.Arie and DAVE FRISHBERG! Seriously, Stephanie. Dave Frishberg. Run, don't walk: he is truly a writer's writer.

    …And PS, when I played Auntie Mame in high school, Antediluvian was the only word in the script I'd never heard and had to look up. As a result, I've never forgotten it and am always looking for ways to use it. Love it.

  19. I bought a new car a month ago, and it came with three months of XM. So far, I'm not loving it. It seems as if they play the same 3 artists over and over. Maybe I just haven't hit on the right station.

  20. I don't get your sneering at a romantic songs that sing the praises of how much better life is when you are in love, but you have championed the twist and schamltz of a zillion plots of RomComs. Life can be easier and more magical with a person that you are so very in love with. Those hard times are a hell of a lot more hard alone. It doesn't make you weak to want to feel so complete that you become a unit. What makes you weak is when you lose your indenity. Know of those songs you mentioned are hyping that. Maybe not music to my taste either. But there isn't a damn thing wrong with hyping the glory of love or the wonderful complete feeling at having someone by your side through thick and thin.

  21. m

    I'm sorry, pointing this out won't make me any friends. Seal needs to be clubbed? Can't you come up with something better than that line? It's lazy and it's offensive. Not everyone thinks a joke about clubbing harp seals is clever.

    And also? You want your life to be like these weird chick flicks, these strange movies that don't reflect reality yet you let them manufacture your reality. You see meaning in your life through them. Not much worse than a song with a line like that, i think. I think it's all strange, but holding up a movie like 13 Going on 30 when you're NOT A TEENAGER? Stephanie, it just seems weird. And then to come down on a song lyric you think is smurfy? I just don't always understand. Which is fine; I certainly don't have to. But I try to hang in there, I really do. I'm not always good at understanding where you are coming from.

    But the seal clubbing comment? Turned my stomach. I know, I know. Everyone will tell me to lighten up. Go ahead. I can take it. I'll watch a chick flick to get some perspective!!

  22. i kinda get it..sometimes its easier to go "aww" over cheesy stuff whether its chick flicks or songs (i guess you like 13 going on 30 as someone else pointed out?)..and sometimes its like: barf…depends on whats going on in your head i think…

  23. Try these musicians (might have sent you some already):

    Rachel Yamagata
    Catherine Feeny
    Cat Power
    Over the Rhine (love "Trouble")
    Leona Naess (love "Swing Gently" and "Ballerina")

  24. don't you live in austin? there must be a good radio station… have you tried the local NPR or college stations??

  25. Writing great lyrics is harder than writing a great melody, I think. I have to go WAY back to think of songs with lyrics that aren't completely trite. The most recent one I can think of is that angry song by Alanis Morissette (sp?)

    I always listen to lyrics in later Beatles songs (both when they were still a group and the solo careers of McCartney, Lennon and Harrison.)

    Before that I have to go back to the standards. How pathetic is that?

  26. Okay, have ya TRIED Jimmy Buffett? Stop groaning out there, I HEARD that! From the beginning, emotions and situations looked at with a sense of humor and VERY good turns-of-phrase. Listen to "Slow Boat to China"–yes I realize it's probably not his originally, don't have the time to look it up–but to me, THAT'S romantic! "Knees of My Heart"–another one. Romantic and FUN, the way it should be, to me anyways.

    Just a thought . . .

  27. Kelly, I agree with your comment. The Seal clubbing joke (or hook) is offensive on many levels (and not just because it is lazy or references senseless killing of another being).

    Reading this post, I really hope I never end up in the car-dependant suburbs. Stephanie sounds like she is a prisoner in her own carefully constructed suburban life. It can happen to the best of us.

  28. at home you should streamline pittsburgh's public radio station, WYEP 91.3 fm. free and fantastic

  29. Sirius. Left of Center.

    it beats listening to the radio and accidentally catching yourself singing along to Miley Cyrus.

  30. I don't normally say this – but I agree with you. And thank God someone said it outloud.

    Songs don't make me Crazy (Seal pun intended) I like the beat, the vibe. I don't make an attachment to the words. They are, after all, just words.

    No – I blame Jerry McGuire-isms "You… complete me…" Give me a break.

    If you spend your life waiting for someone to complete you, or to validate you, or all that other gobbly-gook you will come up empty handed every time.

    Loving yourself should be a given, loving someone else is a choice. Passion is real. Lust is real. Running into one another's arms after a long separation… even heartache. All valid emotions.

    But at the end of the day, true love should be about two people coming together not to complete one another, but to enhance what is already there.

    And every single day it is a choice.

  31. Very well put 'nh'
    So much of this blog seems to be based upon Seal-like sentiment.
    "Let's be clear. It's want. Not need" Well yes, I suppose in the broadest of terms, no one's going to argue that you NEED anything. But so much of this blog seems to be about identity through past and present marriage. About almost needing to not be single. It seems Stephanie's trying to take an opportunity to point out that she's not what she continually shows us. Since it's not from a real place, it's written over the top offensive and strange, trying hard to sell an idea so contradictory to what we usually read.

  32. My favourite "love song" at the moment is "Love Me Dead" by Ludo. It's really funny, in a sick way. Current songs I race to the radio to hurl it out the window: Bleeding Love, How Do I Live, and anything by Celine Dion.

  33. While I don't think we NEED a partner to be complete, I do think two hearts can "beat as one". And I think someone can complement you so well that your best you comes out. As uncommon as it may be, I've seen it lived out in front of me by many couples. Women that radiate their husbands love. But a marriage like that does take selflessness and dying to yourself every day. So while I know it's possible, I know it's work, and although I can be romantic, I also try to be realistic.

  34. This is a touch off the main topic, but could someone explain to me why people listen to the radio (satellite or otherwise) at all? We all have ipods, cds, mixtapes even (depends how old your car is I guess) of our favorite songs. Happy songs, sad songs, getting girled up for a night out songs, mellow songs… why put up with the occasional interjection of Madonna's latest "BTW I'm still alive and trying really hard to be relevant" or John Mayer's "I think I'm smarter than you" nonsense? I am proud to say that I have no idea what a Miley Cyrus song sounds like and I hope I never do.

    … and please don't say it has anything to do with finding new music to add to your list of favorites, because really, there are about a hundred better ways to do that than tuning in to the top 40 station.

  35. I agree… love just isn't enough. But doesn't it take most of us our whole lives to figure that out??

  36. The best music station out there? KCRW in Santa Monica, especially their morning show "Morning Becomes Eclectic." Stream it online–you won't be sorry!

    I'm with you on the inane and stupid lyrics. I still don't understand how you can have sex in a club…

  37. Stephanie, for radio: KGSR, a local Austin station that's so good I stream it via internet to my home here in FL…
    God, I miss Austin!

  38. I can't believe nobody has mentioned Last FM. It only plays music you like, introduces you to things you might like – not randomly, but based on what you already like. I've found so many new favourites through it and I have banned it from ever playing James Blunt! :)

  39. If you're at all into indie music, I love The Current, which is a Minnesota Public Radio Station you can stream from (click on "The Current" in the upper right corner). I've bought way too much music on itunes as a result of listening to that station :)

  40. The clubbing seals pun is both childish and offensive. Certainly not a way to start a post about what love should be like…

    I believe that love, be it divine, for your SO, for your kids, for your friends… brings out what's best in you, makes you find in yourself treasures of patience, understanding and forgiveness you had no idea about. I think as humans we don't need another person, but we definitely need love.

    But good luck to you Stephanie if you think that you don't.

  41. A rose is a rose by any other name. But how does a rose know it is a rose except through others? If if through others, through love or hate? Hate and unease tells us who we are not. Love and trust tells us who we are.

    But you are absolutely right. Love is not desire, it isn't needy, and it isn't the the completion of something incomplete. Love is whole.

    Love is all we need to know that we are whole. Perhaps Seal is on to something deeper than what it is people latch on to?

    Or maybe not. I've never met Seal, but I almost always appreciate his poetry.

  42. That's too funny. My boyfriend told me just the other day that I am "too needy" sometimes. I told him "I am wanty. I am not needy. I lived without you for years and I was fine."

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