19 Jan 2012, by

You and Simon Cowell

I want to watch American Idol. I really do. Not because I love the show, but because it is something that my wife and I bond over, and it’s either that or The Bachelor. And The Bachelor, which falls somewhere between crack and cocaine on the addictive scale, is kind of depressing. Even the winners are doomed to a hideous public break up that people like me, recovering celebrity gossip junkie that I am, will track with breathless excitement.

So why don’t I watch American Idol? Good, clean fun that it is?

Because Simon Cowell left. And I could only watch Stephen Tyler make so many sexual innuendos at seventeen year old girls before I wanted to pour bleach down my ear canals. (Also, he looks like some kind of Brooklyn hipster’s leathery art project.)

Simon Cowell’s absence made me realize that for me, he, and he alone, made the show not just watchable, but inspirational. I know that’s a funny way to describe him. But watching Mr. Cowell reminded me how important it is to have that person in your life who can help you truly become not just yourself, but the best version of yourself.

Very Hallmark, I know – just hear me out.

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I’m calling this a resolution-free new year, and I’m saying it loudly because I feel proud that I’m bucking the trend. (I’m a Trend-Bucker! Look out, Trends! You’re about to be Bucked!)

But that’s not exactly true. I did make one, I’m just sort of embarrassed about it.

Here it is: I resolved to not just eat food to be polite.

I do this all the time. Maybe we’re having a small get together, and somebody brings over a snack, like, say, Lays Brand Potato Chips. I am under the (apparent) misconception that like if I don’t wolf down the whole bowl, snatching it away others people and making audible gobbling noises, the person is going to have their feelings hurt because their chip-bringing wasn’t met with sufficient enthusiasm. Like that person’s entire self-worth is wrapped up in what percentage of the bowl of Lays has been eaten.

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28 Dec 2011, by


Back when I was in college, I knew what my life would be like. I would work in political consulting – I was, and remain, a complete political junkie – in Washington DC.

Things went off track almost immediately. My grades kind of sucked at Virginia, so right after graduation, I decided to move to Prague. I didn’t do this because I was adventurous or super cool, I did this because I wanted to appear adventurous and super cool. I wanted to distract attention from the fact that I couldn’t get a job.

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22 Dec 2011, by

On the Fear of Blogging

I’m not blind, you know, so I know very well that there are folks out there who are posting blogs three or four times per week. And don’t think that doesn’t make me feel terribly inadequate, when the most I can manage is maybe a blog posting every, oh, three decades or so.

What does that say about me? Or more importantly, what do I think that says about me?

We all write differently. Me, I’ve never been able to just hammer out a blog and post it. I know people can do that. My problem – and believe me when I tell you that I am loathe to admit this – is that I am worried about putting up something bad. Or dumb. Or embarrassingly bad and dumb.

To preempt this embarrassment, this is my defense mechanism, which I use so often on Liz that she could lip-sync along with me:

“Oh, that blog I posted? Yeah, I just wrote it in, like six minutes. I didn’t even think about it. I don’t even really remember writing it because I wrote it right after I fell off the roof when I was up there cleaning the gutter. Most of it I wrote on the way down, actually, and I polished it up as I was trying to regain feeling in my lower body. So it’s probably not a great entry, but remember that I didn’t spend much time on it.”

The truth is that I spent about a week on it, sweating blood and banging my forehead with a boot.

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In: Musings | Tags:

There are more than a few differences between my current hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut, and the city of New Orleans, but I don’t know that those differences are ever more pronounced than they are on Halloween night.

I was on a flight at the crack of dawn, leaving Toronto after several days spent at the International Festival of Authors. (Canada has made me feel like an honorary citizen this past year; if my arms were long enough, I’d hug the entire country.) Bleary-eyed, I scrolled through Facebook on my iPhone, checking out the photos my friends were already posting of their young children in costumes.

There were little bears and monkeys, there was a little boy dressed as a banana. From my own home Liz had sent me a short video of two and a half year old Finn, who was living out his life-long fantasy of becoming a real live pirate (with an infectious, swashbuckling glee that I imagine very few actual pirates ever possessed), and our beautiful little Lucy, dressed as a pumpkin.

New Canaan, like thousands of small towns across America, looked like a giant Anne Geddes photo shoot.

This particularly Halloween, however, Liz and I came down to New Orleans for the National Orientation Directors Association conference, where I’ll be speaking, and Halloween down here – to use a tired but apt phrase – is like visiting a parallel universe. The date is the same, the concept of dressing up is the same, but… wow.

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Copyright ©2012 Conor Grennan. Photos: Larry Closs.
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