Still Stuck in the ’80s

Kristen Mai Pham circa 1986

Kristen Mai Pham circa 1986

As some of you know, Paul, my BFF and partner in crime, is a former professional musician. A guitar player to be exact. Growing up listening to the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, and Earth Wind & Fire, Paul is a connoisseur of “real” music as he likes to say. I, on the other hand, grew up rocking out to ’80s “new wave” bands like Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, A Flock of Seagulls, Human League, and Duran Duran. You know, bands with so much man eye shadow that your retina could detach if you stared at them for too long.

Echo and the Bunnymen during their comeback concert in 2014 at The Observatory Santa Ana

Echo and the Bunnymen during their comeback tour in 2014 at The Observatory Santa Ana

Needless to say, Paul and I don’t have the same musical taste. So naturally, the last time he went on a business trip I jumped on the opportunity to binge watch about four million 80’s videos on YouTube. The thing about addiction is that you always think that you can stop. But let’s be real people. It starts out with a quick view of “Space Age Love Song”. Six hours later, I’m covered in Mega Four Cheese Doritos crumbs, gulping down $6 Merlot from a plastic cup, and crying as I belt out a completely tone deaf rendition of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”. And that’s just at work. Sorry Boss…

So why the obsession with 80’s videos, you may ask?
Well, the most obvious answer is that I love me some synthesizers, weird lyrics, and singers wearing aluminum space pants that look like they were stitched by aliens. (And not by the ones with good taste either.) Another answer might be that listening to this music takes me back to a simpler time in my life when all I had to worry about was what to wear to school or how I can scam my parents into letting me stay up past 9 PM on a week night. There were no mortgages or credit scores or career decisions. No retirement plans to mull over or health plans to consider. I know that the 80’s were not a simple time. But they were simple to me. I guess that is all that matters to me when I am tuning into those wonderful, bygone songs.

Kristen Mai Pham - Yearbook

Kristen Mai Pham – Yearbook

However, if I really want to be honest, it’s not just about returning to a simpler time. It’s also about returning to a simpler me. A me who didn’t put up walls after being hurt or disappointed. A me who was never ever cynical or fearful. A me who can enjoy the simple pleasures in life like watching a funny movie without being distracted over the unfinished laundry sitting in the hamper. A me who hasn’t taken multi-tasking and turned it into an Olympic sport.

It’s ironic that as we grow older, wiser, focused, and more practical, we sometimes lose track of some of life’s most important commodities. Like joy. And happiness. It would be nice if you could find a way to balance it all out so that you never lose the kid inside you. Because it’s the kid inside us that makes life truly worth living. And also, the man eye shadow and aluminum space pants aren’t bad either.

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