Quite simply: List 10 things that make you happy, try to do at least one of them today, and link back to the person that tagged you. Then tag 10 other bloggers that brighten your day.
Considering I read less than 10 blogs on a regular basis, I’m not playing tag, but I did want to list 10 things for your reading pleasure.
Calling my nephews and niece
I won’t have a daily 90 minute commute this semester thanks to a lucky break handed down from the scheduling gods, but I will still call my nephews and niece to talk on a pretty much daily basis. I used to make the most of my long, boring drive by discovering what new words a 2-3 year old has learned and it helped me shift my whole life in perspective and made the perils of graduate school much less daunting.
Candy really does make me happy. I am going to schedule a dentist appointment one of these days, but for now I’m pretending it isn’t rotting my teeth and I’m going to continue to fuel my thesis writing with Laffy Taffy and Sugar Free Red Bull. I’m pretty sure if an academic life isn’t in the cards for me– working at a candy store might be.
Write Love Notes
This past NYE/NYD marked my five year anniversary with my domestic partner. He’s charming and witty and my inbox has some of the most lovely emails from our early courtship and I want to recover that kindness that once existed between us. We’re happier than we’ve ever been. But due to this very busy final semester which for me will begin tomorrow and his increasingly demanding schedule at work, I think if we start writing one another again it will give us a little happy moment on otherwise busy and dreary days.
Discover New Music
Almost all my friends are in bands or know much more than I ever will about the current music scene. Ben’s blog helped me discover some new favorites this year and Courtney (along with Whitney) have helped me navigate the madness known only as Lady Gaga. So I have made a promise that this year I will try to get out of my sweet 90s jamz funk that I have been in, well since the 90s, and move along to new and new (old) music. Recent discoveries have been fueled certainly by the great time I have at what I know affectionately as PODO, but is really known to the masses as YEAH! hosted by Hilly and John at The Golden Lion in Clifton’s gaslight district.
Play with my kitties
At my core, I am a cat lover. I am lucky enough to have six fabulous felines in my household and playing with them, petting them, and falling asleep on the couch only to wake up discovering two or three curled up with you is the greatest feeling and makes me very, very, happy. This one may be the easiest of these ten to do daily.
SNMN–Sunday Night Movie Night
Back in the old days of Glenway, when P and I lived downstairs from A & R, we had a tradition known as SNMN. This was our way of fighting “the sundays” or that feeling that you have to start all over again in the morning. I’m going to try to bring this back, although with this semester’s schedule, I might have to move SNMN into a different day like Saturday Night Movie Night since I have a very full Monday schedule.
Learn something new
I love learning new things. Even with my amateur attempts to blog, I had to relearn how to link back to other people, (I’m not afraid to admit this). There are lots of things that I would like to learn about, some of which I have been saying I wanted to learn about for years. On my list for 2010, I’d like to learn a little bit about physics, polish my rudimentary French vocab, how to pull of the “smokey” eyes look with eyeshadow, how to tell a story or joke concisely (I’m so not going to learn this one really, but I am going to try), and I’d like to learn how to cook some basic dishes.
Become a professional tourist of the Greater Cincinnati Area
I will admit although I’ve lived in the Greater Cincinnati Area all my life, I’ve never been to some of the most important landmarks or participated in truly Cincinnatian traditions. I’m going to try to fix that this year. I want to explore this beautiful place that I’ve always and (probably will continue to always) call my home.
My Dearest Friends
Since 98% of my life is consumed by school and work right now, it is very difficult to maintain healthy relationships. I rarely see or talk to P during the semester, and we live together! My friends are one of the most important elements of my life, and they are some of the most incredible people on this planet. This year will bring some changes since two of my best friends are going to become parents for the first time, but I’m really so excited for them I can hardly wait for Baby K to show up. As I’ve endured this ridiculous part of my life known as graduate school, my other two dearest friends have constantly offered support or distracted me with fabulous youtube videos of Fred, new makeup, shoes, and music. I really can’t express how happy those days have been when a phone call or text about what was going on the real world popped my graduate school bubble and just made me laugh or cry or both.
I will be doing a lot of writing this semester as I work on my thesis, but I want to blog more, to work on that chapbook that I’ll probably never end up publishing, and just keep the memories of these moments in my life.
So there it is. Here’s ten things that make me happy and that I will try do at least one of daily in the upcoming year. Please, let me know–what makes you happy??
I almost didn’t go back to my graduate work after a visit to my bff Whitney’s place in Nashville. I went down with Amber on a Thursday a few weeks ago, for what would be a nice little concert, a spooky tour of the Bell Witch Cave in Adams, TN and some much needed face time with two of my dearest friends. We arrived in the early evening after a pleasant drive through the never-ending space that is Kentucky and quickly changed clothes and got ready to go see my favorite (well I have two favorites) band, The Drive By Truckers. Whitney has a love for Jason Isbell and the 400 unit, and I don’t blame her, I like him too- but she hadn’t been properly introduced to the glory that is a Drive By Trucker show live and in person. Amber has heard a few songs here and there, but got the crash course as we listened to the Austin City limits cd on the ride down. Sadly, she liked 18 wheels of Love the most, which I had to admit to her is now retired and so she wouldn’t hear it in person. (Back when I did hear it and the entire story behind it, in an Indy show a year or so ago- I felt like I was a part of something special. I’m glad someone recorded it- because every time I hear that 12 minute performance I can’t help but cry.)
So we arrived at the Cannery Ballroom/Mercy Lounge. It occurred to me that it must be terribly confusing for the bands, all these places and venues look the same. There was the usual mix of Trucker fans: the hipster-bandanna-in-the-back-pocket-and-PBR-in-a-can-in-hand; the we-are-old-enough-to-be-Patterson’s-mom-and-dad groups; those who looked like they were there to get fucked up to whatever music was playin’; and one girl in a crisp white top with cute jeans and a smile that went from ear to ear. I was the latter. I could feel the electricity as the band took the stage (I must mention here, we did hear a few of Glossary’s songs- in fact I saw them open in that previously mentioned Indy show- but we didn’t see enough unfortunately for me to comment on their performance).
The Set List
I knew it wasn’t going to be a typical show when they opened with Feb 14th. I think several years removed now from that album I am beginning to appreciate it much more. Patterson came out full force and I could tell it would be a great crowd to be a part of that evening.
Those feelings were multiplied exponentially just moments later when I heard the first few guitar riffs of Women without Whiskey. I once wrote Whitney a list of 25 reasons why she should listen to the DBTs in the first place and it consisted of naming every Cooley song I could think of at the time.
When the next song began, I found myself searching my brain if I had heard it somewhere before, and I could not recall George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues. But it was a wonderful song and I was happy to be introduced to something unfamiliar and new, it was an unexpected and perfect gift. In true DBT fashion it dealt with brushes of death in twangy and harmonic pitches. If I remember correctly at the end of the performance of this one Patterson mentioned it would be out in the Fine Print collection due in September.
The crowd nearly lost it when they went into Carl Perkins Cadillac with “I’ve got friends in Nashville/At least they’re folks I know,” it would have been travesty for them not to play that one at the Ballroom that evening. But here is where the concert got funny. Some strange guy out of nowhere showed up and just started singing along with me as I sang along, commenting on the “perfect venue” for this song and despite the ring on my finger, he must have believed we were soul mates for one song- I found a way to dance and back up to where Amber and Whitney were holding our place directly under the fan so we could keep cool while fighting the Nashville humidity– and then he was gone (or so we thought for a while).
The Truckers switched gears (ha, no pun intended but it is so good I’m leaving it) into another rarity and oddity- The Great Car Dealer War– which was another unfamiliar and exciting piece to hear. They followed that and rolled the crowd back into things with Sinkhole, followed by Self Destructive Zones, and Hell No I ain’t Happy which were all just what I was looking for that night.
It was a pretty balanced night as far as performances went as they continued on with another Cooley led (Marry Me) followed by Shonna Tucker’s I’m Sorry Huston which would have been better if the people around me didn’t see this searingly beautiful and haunting slow song as an opportunity to talk about the weather or whatever they were jabbering about.
They kept things slow as they moved into The Opening Act to which I slow danced with others around me and I felt so completely happy to be with people, be it strangers even, who understood what it felt like to be connected to such rich music. Words really can’t express my happiness at that moment. Or the moment after, when like a dream come true, I heard the first few beautiful intro notes of Checkout Time in Vegas. I called Ricky, not for the fact to brag that while he worked on his new house, painting, flooring and whatnot that I was there with the Drive By Truckers in the same room, not that at all– but the opportunity to hear Cooley sing what is quite possibly one of the most magnificent songs ever written- I’d be cruel not to call in that moment.
But after I thought I had reached the climax of that show, Patterson started talking to the audience about a 90 year old friend (for some reason I immediately went to Pete Seeger) who had passed away- but then he used the words “she” so I knew it wasn’t Seeger after all who had died, and he mentioned a friend’s suicide and how it had been a rough few days and they went into A World of Hurt. Whitney was elated at this, because it was finally one song she knew very well, but I was taken a back because at that point in my listening of the Truckers discography, I had always passed over the album A Blessing and a Curse. It was only recently I had started going back to visit the few Cooley songs on there, but otherwise left it alone. But something happened in those five plus minutes of performance that changed me. Yes, truly changed me. In a song about it being great to be alive, reasonably uncharacteristic of the death and darkness of so many of their other songs, I realised in that moment, that chorus line, how absurd and ridiculous life is, and I didn’t care about any of the bullshit. I don’t care anymore about the letters behind my name, I don’t care about my name– that it won’t change ever and I won’t be doing things conventionally- I’m not in a band that gets to tour and play wonderful songs to great crowds every night, but I do ” think it can stand a reasonable chance,” and will “remember it ain’t too late to take a deep breath and throw myself into it with everything I got.” I really felt fully satisfied as they closed that one out, and then they went straight into A Ghost to Most, which was eerily fitting considering the mood I was in at that point- and I almost wonder if Cooley really sits around reading Waiting for Godot just for fun. The chorus of that one always makes me think of Ricky, because it mentions how skeleton’s don’t have anywhere to store their money, and it made makes me think of my own motto to go out and do what I want for fun because it is just money and you can’t take it with you- yet another life lesson from my best friend.
Shonna kept the crowd going following Neff’s awesome outro with her song Homefield Advantage which has always been a great addition to Brighter Than Creation’s Dark in my opinion. It was hyped up and even better with Jay Gonzalez on the organ.
The Truckers then introduced the audience to another new/old one Daddy Learned to Fly which I don’t believe is slated for any particular album, but I imagine given the Nashville crowd response they may include it soon enough on something.
They closed out the first portion of the show with a ten plus rendition of Lookout Mountain, before going into five song encore including: 3 Dimes Down, Buttholeville, Shut Up and Get on the Plane, Putting People on the Moon, and lastly and always a favorite of mine, People Who Died.
Following the show, I tried to say hello in person, to tell the band about how I used their song “That Man I Shot” in the Modern US History course I taught, and the best I could get was one of their grips/sound guys to pass along my message while he got poster signed for another fan. He returned after a few minutes with the poster and a “hello” from Patterson which I can only believe to be true because it is crushing to think it is not.
I think back to when P and I first started dating, he had just been introduced to this band with a strange sounding name, the Drive By Whats?? One night in early March he was suppossed to come stay overnight after I finished my grueling (yeah right) undergraduate work and he was finished at this show of the DBTs at Southgate House. They played something like the better part of 4 hours and I thought I knew what he meant when describing that experience when we saw them together a few years later in Indy- but now I really know what it feels like. That show in Nashville made me want to just go on tour and follow them around. Really, I think I could do that and be happy, but just in case they decide to ever take a break from touring, I’ll be working on those annoying letters I want behind my name.
I didn’t write on June 25th. I couldn’t. I didn’t write on July 7th. I still couldn’t then. After enduring the first year of graduate school, I found myself literally escaping O-town and hiding out (minus the 3x a week for 3 hours of French) because I was so happy to not be responsible to anything or anyone but myself for the first time in a long time. I am experiencing the normal existential breakdown that I think a lot of people experience once they go through that first year. I struggled a great bit, and I guess I was mostly disillusioned to find that academia wouldn’t be a retreat from the corporate world. In fact, in many ways it may be worse. At least the corporate world doesn’t pretend to be a more noble cause. I guess it is all pretty dirty. I realized there are still people to step on and to be stepped on by and the competition is just as fierce. It may sound cliché but all I want to do is to help people, to make a difference, to have them look at history (something that most people respond to me by saying “oh I hated history in high school”) and get them to look and think about it differently.
I want to make a difference, I want to make it right. Call it coincidence but with over 500 minutes of songs on shuffle, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” just came on. I am still really in a state of grief about his death. I think that is why I couldn’t blog about his death or all the nasty things that people said about him after he died. He is undeniably the greatest entertainer of all time- period- there is no arguing against that. The night that Michael Jackson died, A&R, PCH and I went up to the Den where we literally took over the jukebox and played all Michael. People were getting angry, but I didn’t care. I was angry. I wanted them to shut up about the eccentricities of his life and appreciate his talent. Nevermind the fact that the stuff they were talking about was stuff that the man was never found guilty of—does the constitution and the court of law mean nothing to them? Some of my greatest memories involve Michael’s music. There was the one night at A&R’s we watched his Live from Budapest and I sat on their couch bawling my eyes out because I was so moved my his music and I felt so silly for crying like that, but now I don’t anymore. I watched the memorial service on July 7th– and it was like ripping a scab off that had just begun to heal- the wound was fresh and so was the loss.
I’m really lucky to have friends that feel the same way that I do and that we can understand how important this is. So to the people like the assholes who harassed us the Den, making nasty claims about how MJ wasn’t anything— just ask yourself, would a majority of a whole planet- yes planet- be mourning for nothing?? I felt at least a little reassured when one of the assholes mentioned his news source, Bill O’Reilly, and the coverage there- because then I knew we were clearly dealing with a complete idiot and not just an asshole. Try NPR or BBC. That’s the other thing though. All these snotty little npr-ers are writing in about how this is so not “newsworthy,” it makes me wonder if they just don’t like it because HEAVEN FORBID IT BE SOMETHING THAT APPLIES TO THE MASSES AND NOT SOME INTELLECTUALLY ELITE GROUP.
I think that the first year of grad school and particularly the fact that I want to do more cultural history now has really made me feel even more like I don’t fit in anywhere. I just wish people would quit drawing up borders and boxes. Yes I like to read, but I also like that thing snobby little buttholes call the “idiot box”- in fact I like it so much I am writing my thesis on –GASP– a television show. I listen to NPR daily, I also watch One Tree Hill. One of my favorite books is Ulysses and one of my favorite albums is Thriller. I love foreign films but I also love Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. I like wine, but will be fine with Jack any day of the week too. When will we all be done with cramming ourselves into the little boxes that Facebook and Myspace supply us?
I’ve decided that I don’t fit in anywhere: I fit in everywhere and I’m done apologizing it for it.
Let be be finale of seem, starting now.
So tonight two very good things happened:
1. My little sister graduated with her GED.
2. Carolina beat Boston giving the Pens home ice advantage in the next round.
Kara’s graduation ceremony was very nice. I was very touched by their commencement speaker. I didn’t get his name, but he is an acclaimed poet who earned his PhD from UK and grew up in the projects in KY. He told the story of a woman who got pregnant at 15, and by 27 had 8 children to look after. She earned her GED and then went on to nursing school after working to earn that first degree. He told her story because she is his mother. He stressed the importance of the GED not being the ending but just the beginning of wonderful opportunities to go further in education. It was really very nice. Kara is currently enrolled in classes online and I’m very proud of her.
*Hockey talk: I don’t want to go on about this for forever, but holy crap- Boston got kicked out tonight! I’m glad about the Pens getting home ice advantage, Cam Ward is hot, hot, hot. I hope he is worn out and we get up on the series early on. We’ll see—- after all this will effect the Las Vegas wedding plan, or will it??
*Musix Talk: I could go on forever about how awesome Cracker is-but let’s be real- there just isn’t enough space or time. Sure enough though, their newest album, Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, is sooooo goood. I really hope to catch them on tour very soon.
Well I’m going to hit the hay- I have lots of research to do tomorrow… and maybe some shoez to buy.
Finally. I have time some time to breathe and blog again. Well first off: I survived one year of graduate school. I’m halfway finished. After one year of examining everything from southern women in the Civil War, to the Annales school, to Native professional athletes- I have finally decided on a thesis topic. I’m going to be a Twilight Zone scholar. I have a great advisor now who totally supports this venture of the beaten path and I am very excited about immersing myself in episodes of Rod Serling’s masterpiece. So I’ll spend the summer keeping busy with lots of reading and viewing of these delicious episodes. I can hardly wait!
In other news, tomorrow is my little sister’s graduation. At twenty one, she has become one of the greatest mothers I know and now has her GED and is starting college courses online. I couldn’t be prouder of her and I know her son Josh will be proud of her too!
Speaking of mums, P’s sister is expecting. She and her husband held out on telling anyone until this past Sunday (Mother’s day) to let anyone know. She’ll have the baby in November- so it may be Christmas in LA this year! (I certainly hope it is!)
We’ll be heading out west this summer to go to Las Vegas with A&R before they try to have any babies- and according to P- if the Pens win the Stanley Cup, we’ll have a Vegas wedding. See neither one of us cares too much about getting married, so we can rest that decision on the way a hockey team plays. P made the mistake of saying this last weekend when he was a little intoxicated, so I have been bringing it up constantly just to irk him a bit more. Honestly, I don’t know that if they did win if I would make him go through with it- like I said it doesn’t matter too much to me. I did decide however, if we were to go through with this, I’d have to have black stones-not diamonds (thank you Leo for making diamonds the most unappealing purchase ever after seeing ‘Blood Diamond’) and perhaps do something even more ridiculous like make it a PENS ring instead of a REGARD ring as folks did in the Pre-WWII era. REGARD rings were a way of giving jewels but not the expensive diamond engagement ring- the letters were spelled out with stones, ruby, emerald, garnet, etc. So I’m thinking something that spelled out PENS would be equally hilarious as the whole notion of getting married in the first place! The Pens play game seven against the Caps tonight. So this whole thing could be over if they lose tonight anyways. We’ll see.
On a musical note: (what a cute pun I can’t believe I typed that unintentionally)- Cracker released a new album that is so good it will practically melt your face off. Everyone I know needs to listen to it. Patterson Hood is a guest singer on one of the songs- it is the perfect musical sandwich- dbt and cracker on the same album!!
Okay, Whitney, I think I ran out of things to say. Until next time!
So I had a wonderful experience in SK. But I arrived home a day later and two classes/presentations short after a 24 hour delay in Denver. I could insert also into my Denver debacle the story of the first time I came home from Vegas and someone may or may not have died in flight and we got stuck for like 4 hours in Denver, but that is far too long. At any rate, I got back had a week of total and utter hell, followed by what was a very long Friday that included the daily lashing by dc of which I tried to cope with by drinking rather heavily, molesting most of my officemates and getting dropped off in a literal stupor at 5 a.m. I was still a bit intoxicated at 5 p.m. on Saturday when I had to go up to campus to work on my draft. Less than a week after that, I was sitting in a new therapist’s office reevaluating why I feel I am cracking under the pressures this semester. But I have made some great changes including dumping dc and recruiting ej so I am hopeful it will turn out alright. My terrible wine and cheese night party dilemmas were set to the side after two sessions and I will probably not see my therapist for another month, once I make it through the end of the semester. To help me get a little more organized I invested in a blackberry/crackberry and it is addicting, although I do need to learn how to actually use it.
When I do learn how to use the blackberry, I anticipate blogging from it– still haven’t joined twitter.
***I still haven’t drank since the horrific wineaandcheese night- fourteen days now and still clean. I keep saying I haven’t really quit but I’m taking a break for sure. I just don’t need the extra problem of alcohol/binge drinking on top of the overwhelming duties I already have.
So this one will be pretty brief as I have sketchy interwebs connection right now. I arrived yesterday in Saskatoon feeling nervous and anxious about everything. Traveling alone wasn’t too bad. After arriving at my hotel, which wasn’t terrible to my surprise, I got a little sad about being by myself. It was Pch’s birthday and I felt terrible about leaving on that day. I was tired and hungry and a little sad. I could be logical about everything. I told myself to stay calm, but my body wasn’t listening. I broke down and cried calling Whit and my mom and Pch and mom again. When I finally talked to Pch he was a little drunk which didn’t help me rest easy, but then he said the most perfect thing ever about how I was feeling and how I could relate to Freddie a bit more and his life of loneliness. This is why I love Pch– even drunk he is my perfect mate with the perfect things to say. I eventually fell asleep and woke early this morning.
I waited anxiously in the lobby and long story short- Freddie and I spent about 4.5 hours talking. He was warm and kind and I think this is just one of the most absolutely best days of my life. He gave me some books to help me learn about his people and before he left he took a pin of fof his sweater and gave it to me right there. I put it on and we took several pictures together in the lobby before he headed home (120 miles away). I went back to my room and talked to Pch a bit before taking a two hour nap. Somehow my body and academic clock woke up right in time for Jeopardy and then I watched the Calgary/St. Louis game. About that time, I headed down to the hotel lounge to get some dinner. I started a conversation with an older gentleman sitting who was finishing his dinner, T.C. He asked me what I was doing visiting Saskatoon and when I mentioned my interview with Freddie he told me how as a young kid on the farm he used to listen to broadcasts over the radio of the games. He remembered when Freddie got called up to the NHL. He also played hockey for a while himself and remembered “getting our asses handed to us” in a game against another Indian player, Jim Nielson. Talk about serendipitous encounters! We talked about hockey, about Canada and the U.S. and I didn’t feel so lonely tonight. When he got up to leave after exchanging information ( I told him I would send him a copy of my work)- when I went to shake his hand he said, “oh we can do better than that” and gave me a strong hug that really made me love this country and the citizens so much more.