I mean, it’s only fair. (Watch until the end!)
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My friend Carin Towne introduced me to “The Blade,” and I can’t get over it. Ashley Monroe gets better and better.
And while we’re listening to sad stuff, I recently found this miserably beautiful cover by Rose Cousins. Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?
That’s all for today. [scurries back to cave]
I know, I know. You have been observing my grace and aplomb at every twist and turn of the journey, wondering how on earth I’m such a charmingly positive and rosy person. You are amazed at my buoyant spirit and sweet disposition. I am a delight.
Alas, this is not the truth – and fine, you knew it all along. I am often cranky, frequently discouraged, and usually hungry (unrelated). And the happy, happy holidays tend to poke at me, making me want to overcompensate for what often feels like forced joy with an extra number of eye rolls.
But recently, I decided to snap out of it. I squashed down my drama, laughed at my ridiculousness, and then wrote a little song that made me giggle — a reminder that being me, crankiness and all, is actually pretty dang fun.
… even via a YouTube video. Jennifer Nettles has always been the real thing. All she has to do is stand there – she still sings the fire out of anything.
“I wasn’t lost until you found me.”
Even if better songs are written in the future, I will always love these best.*
*Not a guarantee. Except for the first one, which will never, ever be unseated.
Lori McKenna, “The Luxury of Knowing”
Jonatha Brooke, “Because I Told You So”
Court Yard Hounds (w/ Jakob Dylan), “See You in the Spring”
Lee Ann Womack, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”
Gretchen Peters, “Circus Girl”
Gretchen Peters, “Five Minutes”
Patty Griffin, “Trapeze”
Sugarland, “Want To”
Just ignore some of the YouTube videos, mmmkay? Just listen to the songs.
Also, I recently updated my About Me page. It’s nothing you don’t already know. But there it is.
Hi! Long time no write-to. I know that you’ll understand when I say that life has been bonkers. Moving? While exciting and fun, it’s not for the faint of heart – and this move from Denver to Minneapolis has been the most complicated I’ve ever experienced. So many changes all at once. So many snafus and logistical curveballs. So many emotions (yes, including the crying kind). Thankfully, I am FINALLY in my new house, and dying of love about the whole thing. Expect a post soon with pictures – but until then, let’s talk about the thing that we all have in common.
Country music is the most popular genre in America – and given that 95% of this site’s readership is from the US of A, I can only deduce that a large portion of you are down with the twang. It’s a good club to be a part of, and we’re all in this together. Here are some of my (very valuable) thoughts on the songs that bind us together.
I’ve said it before: I cannot get enough of her. Her voice is hickory and honey, straight as an arrow but jagged on the edges. It has been a long time since I’ve loved a gal straight out of the gate.
If I hear “Love You Like That” one more time, I will throw myself in that same Mississippi River. (After all, I’ve got easy access now.)
One would think that a song that starts out, “Hey girl – wassup?” would be an immediate no-go. But oh man. I am really loving “Break Up With Him.” It’s everything I wish a hunky bearded man would sing to me – you know, if I was actually already dating someone, and he happened to be a loser (don’t put it past me).
Back in June, Carin and I went to his show at Mile High in Denver. He opened the show with “Kick the Dust Up“– and given its total bro-status, I am almost ashamed at how much I love this song. I know every word. EVERY SINGLE WORD DO NOT CHALLENGE ME YOU WILL LOSE. I sing along full voice every time it comes on the radio – including the grunted “huh”s and “kick it”s.
I thought that the song of my summer would be “Somewhere In My Car” (again: I know every rapidly-sung word; I could win a karaoke contest with this one) – but then he had to throw out “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16.” This is in fact the song of my summer – but only because I WAS the prom queen.
(The only thing you get from being the prom queen is the ability 15 years later to say “I was the prom queen” – so one must take full advantage at every opportunity.)
Without a doubt, he is the best looking man to ever walk the face of this planet – despite his questionable taste in jeans. “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” were slam dunks – but “House Party”? I can’t. Something about the melody of the chorus is utterly grating. That doesn’t stop it from getting embedded in my brain, looping over and over and over until I, like the neighbors, want to call the cops.
Every morning when my alarm clock goes off at 5:58am, “Tonight Looks Good On You” is playing. In addition the anachronistic placement, I don’t like the song. Why, you ask? I just don’t like it. I need not say any more – it’s my own personal non-preference. This is my blog, so feelings = verdict.
Is Cam seriously the only girl I mentioned? I mean, I always adore Hillary from Lady A, and have found a guilty pleasure in Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.”
But… ladies? Where are you? WE NEED YOU SO BAD.
Because you’ve all seen this, right?
I’m missing Trisha, and Martina, and Patty Loveless, and most of all, the Dixie Chicks.
Ribbons and bows, X’s and O’s,
If you know my sister Becca, you know she’s all about dogs. She always has been; her first word was “woof-woof.” In addition to running a dog rescue (whence came Foxy!), she has three dogs of her own – and they’re like her kids. So when she and my brother-in-law decided to go to Seattle, they called in only the best.
Annie the Dog Nanny.
Foxy and I moved into Becca and Michael’s house on Saturday night, and it’s been the Wild West ever since. I’m playing defense against a collective 200 pounds of canine. Things I will need to replace before they get home: Bulleit and a lot of chocolate chips.
In the midst of it all, I am wrapping up my job, selling my house, and looking for a new place to live – because I forgot to tell you:
I’m moving to Minnesota.
Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at work. I am leaving what has been a gift of a job for what is sure to be a challenging, soulful adventure of a next chapter: I’m moving to Minneapolis to work for my favorite public radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.
For over eight years, this has been a blog mostly about my feelings – so don’t think I’m going to stop now.
What can I say about my 5 ½ years in Denver? They have been the toughest years of my life, minus 6th grade when all of the girls turned mean. Cancer brought me here, divorce made me stay. I watched my family disintegrate, and a few relationships of my own. I’ve said such horrible things to God, it’s a wonder he still loves me. I’ve lost hope, battled depression, and numbed the pain with all sorts of soul novocain.
Denver made me write this song. (And as always, forgive the guitar.)
[Song has been taken down. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]
But it’s not lost on me that the hardest years were spent in the most beautiful place. It’s like someone knew I would need the beauty.
I’ve walked thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve climbed mountains – I’m up to 35 14ers, with 19 to go. I spent 11 days on a solo backpacking trip, digging deeper than I knew I could dig. I’ve learned to own my finances, my career, a dog, and a house. If Seattle is where I became Annie and Nashville is where I became a woman (gross, sorry for saying that), Denver is where I became an adult – a reluctant transition, but true nonetheless. I’ve made a handful of incredible girlfriends, the kind that make it hard to leave. I’ve been to counseling – gracious, have I been to counseling. I’ve stopped blaming my parents for everything that’s wrong in my life.
As it turns out, I am sad to leave Denver – but not as excited as I am for a new adventure.
I will miss my perfect tiny house and my friends and the weather and the mountains. But I know that there’s something for me in Minnesota – lakes and forests and people and meaningful work. And mosquitos. And snow. But I’m choosing to believe that richness awaits. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I can’t wait to learn it for myself. I might even start going to church again.
Until then, I am frantically wrapping up my time with LÄRABAR/General Mills. Yesterday I wrote a “manual” for how to do my job. So far it’s 17 pages long. I’m getting my ducks in a row to sell my house, and looking for another in Minneapolis (tell me, is 40% of my income too much to spend on a mortgage?).
And I’m dog-sitting for my sister. Maybe these dogs will come visit me in Minnesota.
My roots are up, and I’m headed north. There is so much to be nervous about, and so much to be grateful for. Thanks for sticking with me, no matter the gap between posts, no matter the city in which I live.
See you soon, Minneapolis!
The past several weeks have been so full. I’ve had multiple work trips (Minneapolis, San Francisco, Anaheim), three humongous work events, houseguests, family visits, and a particular emotional roller coaster that’s still unfolding.
With each close friend that I confide in, I realize that my heart is hoping more and more for a certain outcome, and how disappointed I’ll be if it doesn’t happen. But what’s the alternative? Not hoping at all? Novocain to the heart? We were never meant for dull souls. As a friend said to me last week, “Sometimes it’s good for us – getting our hopes up.” And so I hope, and I wait, and trust that whatever the outcome, I’ll make it through because I’ve been through worse.
I’ll tell you if it happens. And I’ll probably tell you if it doesn’t.
In any case, there are all sorts of other people saying and doing things worth sharing. So here are some of my top picks.
I recently met Nashville singer-songwriter and all around superstar Annalise Emerick, and heard her play a song that I capital L LOVE. Listen to “Patti Smith.”
Do you know about Kara Tippetts? Her widely read blog is chronicling her last days on this earth – and just about every post makes me want to throw my computer across the room, it’s so unfair. Just six years older than me and one hour south, Kara is dying of cancer. Just yesterday, I watched the trailer for a documentary about her life and imminent death, and openly wept in my kitchen. Will we ever understand why some families are dealt the short stick?
My very favorite podcast, On Being with Krista Tippett, is a conversation about faith, religion, psychology, race, art, science, and ethics (my very broad summation), and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve recently been going back and re-listening to some of my favorite episodes, and ran across one that is so encouraging and life-giving, I want to pass it along. What happens when you get a Jewish rabbi, a Christian bishop, a Muslim scholar, and the Dalai Lama in the same room for a conversation? I cannot recommend this program enough.
My friend Hilary Oliver (she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, and also you should read her blog) recently shared a quote that stopped me in my tracks. To live like this!
“In boldly setting out toward ends, one risks disappointments;
But one also obtains unhoped-for results;
Caution condemns to mediocrity.”
-Simone de Beauvoir
That’s all for today. Until we meet again, remember to be like Ariel (“I want more…”), Belle (“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…”) and when it comes to hope, fine, Pocahontas (“How high will the sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you’ll never know”).
This morning when I woke up at 5am in Minneapolis, the “feels like” temperature was -30 degrees. “How am I going to make it from the hotel to my car?” I was legitimately afraid that somewhere in that 500 feet, I would freeze, suddenly, like a Neanderthal.
But my 7am flight would be leaving with or without me, so I made a run for it. It was like inhaling a block of dry ice – absolutely wicked, not in the Boston sense, but in the Witch of the West sense. My skin almost cracked right off me like a frozen shell. But because I am rugged in my soul – a hero, really – I made it.
As we lined up to board the plane, I put in my earplugs – because the only thing worse than being crammed into a tube with 150 other people is to be crammed into a tube with 150 other people that YOU CAN HEAR. Whenever I wear earplugs, I pull my hair over my ears so no one can see the bright blue foam – but this time, there in line, I was standing next to a man who was wearing earplugs too. Neon green.
And what on God’s earth convinced me that this would be a good idea, I will never know – but I caught his eye, tucked my hair behind my ear to reveal the earplug, and tapped it twice. Just like the early Christians would trace half a fish in the dirt with their toe, waiting for a stranger to complete it, it was our secret code. We were comrades – in the war against noise!
However (and telling the story now, I suppose predictably), Earplug Man did not see it this way. He quickly looked away and ignored me for the rest of the boarding process. I found my seat (far from this fellow noise hater), and we were off.
Mid-flight, it started. Music. Loud enough to hear through my earplugs.
“Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul…”
Someone was listening to the Doobie Brothers with no headphones on an airplane, which, in my mind, is worse than sin.
While the music was loud enough to cut through my earplugs, I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. I waited for the culprit’s seatmate or a flight attendant to politely ask them to stop disturbing their fellow passengers (because isn’t it a rule that you have to use headphones on an airplane?), but by now we were to the head-bobbing part where everything but the drums drops out and all of the DBros are singing a cappella in harmony and still, no one had intervened.
When Eric Clapton’s “Layla” started in, I shot up out of my seat like a Whac-A-Mole. WHO IS DOING THIS. WHO. My head on a swivel, I scanned the tops of heads looking for the miscreant, but the engines scrambled the sound and garbled my otherwise bionic hearing.
By the time “American Pie” rolled around, I felt myself shutting down. Everything within me was in agreement with Don McClean; this will be the day that I die. This will be the day that I die.
When I landed in San Francisco, it was 70 degrees, meaning that today I have experienced a 100 degree swing in temperature. I peeled off my down parka, changed from Sorels into flip-fops, and caught a cab into this gorgeous city. I’m here for work, just like I was in Minneapolis for work, and while I miss Foxy, I am grateful for a week of mixing it up – because there’s nothing like breaking routine to make me grateful to get back to routine.
In the meantime, I’m wishing this is how I got to San Francisco: