True Confessions, or What’s Really on my iPod

by Michelle Gagnon

Recently my household has been debating the relative merits of lying (living with a toddler will do that to you-it’s amazing what a person will say to get them to eat their vegetables sometimes). And that got me thinking about the truth, and the complicated relationship most of us have with it. How honest are we, really? When there’s a passenger in my car, I make sure to tune the radio to NPR (which, if I’m being truthful, I rarely listen to), instead of the club mix station that jars me awake on a long drive (or a short one: again, the truth hurts). So I’ve decided to seize this opportunity to come clean about several things I’ve managed to keep quiet for years.


I have wide and varied taste in music. For someone in her late-thirties, I consider myself to be fairly hip (although I suspect most teenagers would scoff at my collection). I’ve not only heard of No Age, I own a few of their songs. But if one were allowed unfettered access to my iPod, you would also stumble across (gasp) Kelly Clarkson. “Good music to jog to,” I would say defensively (which would also be a lie—I only run when I’m being chased). Now I know what you’re thinking, there’s no real shame in listening to Kelly Clarkson, a lot of people love her music. True. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover…the soundtrack to the Broadway show Rent. A remix of the song “Holding out for a Hero,” from the second Shrek movie. And the pièce de résistance: LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.” Shocking, I know. But not nearly as bad as…


…what I watch on TV. I shake my head and tsk at cocktail parties when everyone deplores the sad state of programming that relies increasingly on reality shows showcasing our depravity. Then I go home and flip on “America’s Next Top Model.” I can’t help myself. When Tyra Banks reads the names off, one at a time, agonizingly slowly, emphasizing each syllable: “Only eight of you will continue on to become Americas…Next….Top…Model…,” I am absolutely riveted.

Mind you, I do have some standards. That Chef that apparently just screams at people for money? No need for him. Neither will I lower myself to watch anything that involves swapping family members, desert islands, trying to hook a millionaire, or D-list celebrities trapped in any sort of situation together. (Or singing. I’ve never really enjoyed watching people sing, for some reason). But “Top Chef,” “The Apprentice,” “So You Think You Can Dance”…I am your bitch.

As an aside, let me just mention that at one of those cocktail parties, a group of extremely cultured female friends was discussing how they only still possess their televisions so that they can watch films (with subtitles, I’m guessing). I joked, “Such a shame, now you have no idea what’s happening on ‘Project Runway,’” and they turned to me en masse and began to chatter excitedly, “Ohmigod, can you believe they voted off Kit? I was shocked!!!”

So I’m guessing I’m not alone in my shame. Just brand a big red letter “R” on my chest and let’s call it a day. Oops, I almost forgot the best of them all…


Ok, this one I’m not so ashamed of. Heck, I’ve already said in other blog posts that “movie critic” would be my dream job, and it states right in my bio that my weakness is Hollywood blockbusters. Honesty at last, right? But in throwing that right out there in the open, I neglected to mention one thing: although I love movies, it has been a long, long time since I have watched what would qualify as cinema. I finally caved to reality and canceled my Netflix subscription, because I would invariably order a critically-acclaimed film, hold on to it for months, then mail it back unopened. I had a terrible habit of putting movies in my queue that a different Michelle would watch, a better Michelle, one who really enjoyed reading as she watched a movie. The real Michelle tossed that envelope on top of her DVD player with a slight twinge of guilt and settled in to watch “Independence Day” for the umpteenth time. On network television. With commercials. Terrible, I know.

So there you have it, skeletons marched out of the closet, dirty little secrets tromped out for all the world to see. Time to fess up: what are you hiding?


13 thoughts on “True Confessions, or What’s Really on my iPod

  1. With a five-year-old and a two-year-old, I know what you’re going through. It’s tougher now with my older boy because he questions the valididty of the ‘white lie’. And, he doesn’t hesitate to tell his younger brother when Dad is (allegedly)fibbing. Just means I adapt and become more creative.

    A confession to watching reality TV? Not me. Very brave, Michelle.


  2. Whew, thanks for clearing the way for us, Michelle!

    I’m a member of the MET in New York, will read only the NY TImes, and claim the high road in opera and theater.

    But alone in my car — I sing along with the Oak Ridge Boys, Willie Nelson, and Hoyt Axton!

    On TV, I do always confess. I watch a lot of it, including (gasp) Lifetime movies.

  3. Michelle – at our house we call a big fib ‘a whopper’ so I’ll say…hmm, did Daddy just tell us a whopper??? And as for all the stuff I try and hide…I have to admit to being a closet SciFi junkie which I try to hide when pretending to be a ‘serious’ historical mystery writer. Meanwhile I watch Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galatica, the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Primeval, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Eureka…I could go on but it’s too damn embarrassing! My husband knows to ignore it – but I warned him once my current edits are finished, I feel a Farscape marathon coming on. Yes, I admit it I own all the DVDs…the’better’ Clare would just never admit to it!

  4. Wow Michelle, that’s like…laying out your soul.

    It is hard to make those admissions. A while back I put my collection of DVDs on a shelf. Several of my teen son’s friends and the group of twenty something women that come to our house(I teach youth & young adults at my church) commented on the number romance movies, especially foreign, were mixed in with the war movies and Eric Idle collection.

    “Wow, Mrs. Sands. You like these movies too?”

    To which my wife replied, “I don’t watch movies. Ask Basil about those.”

    Hey, Ziyi Zhang and Julia Roberst are good actresses…what.

    At any rate its justifiable…I write stories about people who kill for a living. So there.

  5. Way to go, everyone! Although Camille, I’m not entirely certain that Willie Nelson is anything to be ashamed of.
    And Clare, I am shocked, shocked to discover your sci-fi addiction (I’m a huge firefly fan, btw. And Buffy was one of the greatest shows ever).
    C’mon, brave souls: time to come clean, don’t leave me wallowing alone in the pop culture swamp…

  6. LOL!! I’ll confess to actually having been to a Kelly Clarkson concert. Cancelled our Netflix shipment for exactly the same reason and then couldn’t even find the third movie. I think lying to your kids to make things happen is prefectly fine – I love Santa!! He comes down the chimney, eats the cookies, drinks the milk, and leaves a trail of crumbs going to the fireplace.

  7. Michelle, what exactly is wrong with the soundtrack for Rent? I’ve seen the show and the movie numerous times and even find myself singing along,albeit quite poorly. So don’t feel bad if you listen to the soundtrack.

    And for the record, Shrek rocks.

  8. I’ve had Zathura sitting in the queue on my DVR for almsot 2 years now!!!! That tell you anything? LOL. I am about to profess just how big a “dork” I have the potential of being……

    I actually have a list of MOVIES TO SEE that I update about 3-4 months. It currently contains about 70 or so movies that I missed out on seeing recently. And by recent…..I have stuff from 2001 still on it!!!

    And thsi without having kids to attend to. But we do have two Huskies; does that count??

    Bill (the Myspace one) 🙂

  9. There isn’t a Law and Order up to the time Jerry Orbach died that I haven’t seen several times. So there.

    I’ve never had a Netflix subscription; the DVD player died and we just don’t watch movies much, but I’ve seen re-runs on cable of all manner of sordid things. Repeatedly. Drives Lillian nuts, bless her.

  10. America’s Top Model? Shame, shame on you, Michelle. And I don’t care how much alcohol I have at Bouchercon I’ll never confess to having watched every episode of The Littlest Groom…whoops, damnit


  11. I haven’t had internet in awhile to read the latest postings. But I loved the subject of confessing to actual tv watching. As an avid reader people always assume I’m reading DeTocqueville or something else of an esteemed nature. I actually had friends gasp when I said how much I adore the Twilight series. As much I as I tried to avoid them trying to label them as ‘silly teenage girl books’ when I actually broke down and read them I ended up devouring them (like the heroin for ladies they are). I think the best in in life is balance you can’t read serious works or television all of the time, what’s the fun in that? As for the lying to your child, there are some hilarious insights on the matter in the book ‘The Year of Living Biblically’, as he has a young son and tries not to bear false witness and there’s also a delightful passage as he tries to ‘spare the rod’ with a nerf bat. Now if you don’t mind I’ll be waiting for the Twilight movie to come out, watching Smallville, and listening to Britney Spear’s Toxic.

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