A Modern Mix Tape

When I announced in summer of 2010 that I was moving to Chicago, I made a general request to my friends and family that they make me mix CDs to listen to in my car on the drive to my new home. I received more than a dozen CDs, from everyone to old newspaper co-workers to my best friend’s mother. My brother handed me a carefully curated disc of classic rock and my friend Stacey gave me a compilation of the current tracks she was obsessed with.

I was blown away by the response, and remember being delighted again and again at the choices made by a ton of folks. And so, I am making this request once again, for the long drive across the country to Portland. While a CD is my preference, so I can play discs in my car or put playlists on my phone, I realize it’s now five years later, and maybe you don’t even have a CD drive in your house, much less a way to burn a disc. If that’s the case, I’d love a Spotify playlist. I will be gladly/greedily accepting these lists between now and mid-July.

If you want to mark the occasion with a gift, please refrain — I am in the process of selling most of my belongings. I will, however, gladly accept an iTunes gift card so I can make some of these upcoming Spotify playlists my own. I’m still old fashioned, after all, and like paying for music. Some things never change.

Not sure what to include? That’s okay. You might pick stuff you think I’ll like (thanks!) or maybe you’ve got a couple songs that make you think of me or a time we shared. If nothing else, I want to hear what music you’re into during this time in our lives. Thanks in advance.

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A Year Set To Music

I listened to a lot of music in 2014, like anyone else, but I noticed something interesting about a handful of the songs I listened to most this year. A song I had in heavy rotation last winter detailed the ending of a relationship that shared walls; one from spring was about moving into a new apartment after living with a significant other. One from summer was about drifting, but still optimistically hinted at getting better; one from this fall, and now, is about finally moving on from a past relationship after nearly a year away. Not all of these are new to 2014, but all are by female musicians and spoke to me during a quarter of this year of my life.

It felt like an interesting arc.

Winter: “Both Hands,” Ani DiFranco (lyrics)

Spring: “Brighter Discontent,” The Submarines (lyrics)

Summer: “Last Year,” Best Coast (lyrics)

Fall: “Clean,” Taylor Swift

No video available, so here are the lyrics:

The drought was the very worst
When the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst
It was months, and months of back and forth
You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore
Hung my head, as I lost the war, and the sky turned black like a perfect storm

Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean

There was nothing left to do
When the butterflies turned to dust, they covered my whole room
So I punched a hole in the roof
Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you
The water filled my lungs, I screamed so loud but no one heard a thing

Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
I think I am finally clean
Said, I think I am finally clean

Ten months sober, I must admit
Just because you’re clean don’t mean you don’t miss it
Ten months older I won’t give in
Now that I’m clean I’m never gonna risk it

The drought was the very worst
When the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst

Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean
Finally clean, think I’m finally clean
Think I’m finally clean

Tiny Blue Record Player

The record player

The record player

I mentioned a couple times this year that I was bummed I no longer owned a record player.

Now I own a record player again. It’s tiny and blue and all my own.

It was pretty low on the list of priorities (somewhere below a bed and mixing bowls) which means I am getting down to the bottom of that list like a bad ass.

I own six records, three of which I don’t care to listen to right now since they are from a past life.

I see some record store shopping in my future.

To Boston and Ohio: From Chicago, with Love

All of the bands for Meryl

All of the bands for Meryl

Months ago, I bought expensive tickets I had no business buying, for the Boston Calling music festival. My friend Margaret lives in Boston, and I’ve never been there, and the line-up consisted of every band I’ve ever wanted to see, ever: Death Cab, Modest Mouse, Tegan and Sara, JENNY LEWIS. It was insane. It was a fate.

It was a terrible idea.

I bought weekend passes for me and Margaret in February for the Memorial Day weekend event, back when it was possible, but not certain, I’d have a new job soon. Things were in flux, as they would be for weeks, but I took a chance regardless.

It felt good to make a choice, reckless or no. I was deciding my own future, in one of few ways that I could.

Fast-forward to early April. I’d just started my new job and been told I wouldn’t have vacation time until July. Airfare to Boston and back was at a minimum cost of $400 for Memorial Day weekend, and it would mean flying in LATE on Friday and leaving early Monday, missing Margaret’s friends’ cookout and having little-to-no post-festival recovery time.

I didn’t have $400+ for airfare, and I didn’t have a way to take additional time off. I told Margaret I’d have to pass on the weekend getaway. She understood, and found me someone to buy my ticket, which was super nice of her.

By late-April, I’d accepted my fate, and decided to surprise my friends in Ohio instead.

At some point this winter, my best friend Brittany had called me and told me she’d be throwing her husband Adam a 30th birthday party Memorial Day weekend. I’d been sad to tell her that, despite that weekend being literally months away, I already had plans. She was disappointed, and I felt terrible.

So I decided I’d surprise her and her husband.

I got her mom and her friend Stacey on board, and they filled me in on the party details. My family was excited I was coming home for the first time since Christmas. Boston wasn’t looking so lost to me after all.

On Wednesday morning this week, I woke up with a sore throat and a nasty cough.

I stifled it. I denied its existence. I went to work.

On Thursday morning I woke up coughing, a deep rattle in my throat. I swallowed and took some ibuprofen and drove to the ‘burbs.

By Thursday night I thought I might die. I crawled up the stairs to my apartment after being stuck in traffic for over an hour. I emailed my brother and my dad and said I couldn’t come. I sat on my bed and cried for 15 minutes and ignored my brother’s phone call.

Then I called him back and cried some more on the phone, and fell asleep in a pathetic heap.

Now it’s Saturday night, and I’m dog-sitting for my neighbor because I don’t have out-of-town plans like everyone else. I still have a deep, disgusting cough, but I can walk around the neighborhood without feeling exhausted.

All I wanted to do was get out of this city and out of the muck I’ve dragged into my life all winter, but I can’t even make that happen. And I won’t have another opportunity until July, when my 90 days at work is up and I can finally take a day or two off to go home. I’m glad I was able to see Eileen and Tim in February, because I’m sure stuck here for now.

Maybe I didn’t need to see Jenny Lewis – maybe – but I did need to see some friendly faces. I miss my family, and I miss Brittany and Adam and everyone in my hometown. I guess I should be glad I’m not out $400 in airfare and however much in a weekend concert pass, and that I didn’t need to find some way to rush Margaret’s ticket to her in my sickly absence.

But man. I really could have used a break.

Today was a low-key, wallowing Saturday, but by God, tomorrow I will be sitting in the sun and relaxing, and Monday THERE WILL BE BRATS. Because this is AMERICA and it’s MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and no one but horrible germs can get in my way and I’ve had enough of those.

There will be no plans, only beer and sunshine. Assuming I’m well enough to drink beer by then.

Happy Memorial Day, you guys. Enjoy this time with people you love, or at least people you like a whole bunch.