I took a photography class! Expect my photos to be at least 20% better. Until I forget everything I learned.



Currents, September 2014


Drink: I shared a bottle of Volcano Vineyards red Bend Blend wine this weekend that was excellent.
Project: My condo has 'popcorn' ceilings (save in the bathroom) so I don't have an option of adding more overhead lighting to my rooms without professional assistance. So I make do with a variety of floor, table, and string lights, and pendants I'm able to hook to existing track lighting...tracks. But some evenings I sit in a fairly dark home because going around to switch on every independent light source only to then have to make the same rounds to switch them off a few hours later gets tiresome. SO. My dad introduced me to these remote control outlet systems where you plug in all your power sources to matching outlet boxes, and then they all turn on or off from a flick of one switch! I'm hoping to get all my lights on the same system (at least per room), and maybe even my electronics in order to save me time, keep the place well lit, and maybe even save some energy too.
Current Location: My desk at work has been raised to a standing desk! It's great to have the option to stand--it's healthier and makes some manual tasks easier--but if nothing else it's great to sit at my desk and be at eye-level with people who stop by.
TV Show: Are you ready? I'm head over heels in love with Starz's adaptation of the Outlander series (only 4 episodes have been released so far in the premiere season). I'm reading the books now too and in love with the whole world and its characters. Scotland, time travel, and romance, all with a fabulously smart and strong lead female character. HonestlyJust watch/read it. 
Book: I finished Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I was at amazed at how she was able to tackle to so many complex and heart-breaking issues brought to her by readers. 
What you learned as you sat bedside with Emma in the intensive care unit is that your idea of God as a possibly nonexistent spirit man who may or may not hear your prayers and may or may not swoop in to save your ass when the going gets rough is a losing prospect.            
So it's up to you to create a better one. A bigger one. Which is really, almost always, something smaller.            
What if you allowed your God to exist in the simple words of compassion others offer to you? What if faith is the way it feels to lay your hand on your daughter's sacred body? What if the greatest beauty of the day is the shaft of sunlight through your window? What if the worst thing happened and you rose anyway? What if you trusted in the human scale? What if you listened harder to the story of the man on the cross who found a way to endure his suffering than to the one about the impossible magic of the Messiah? Would you see the miracle in that?
Movie: I saw Guardians of the Galaxy and really liked it, but I think it was over-hyped (for me).
Food: Last night I had bruschetta with grilled nectarines, herbed goat cheese and honey.
Celebrity Crush: Well, Outlander's Sam Heughan (above) goes without saying. But Peter Capaldi's Doctor is a close second. So charming, so funny, I'm so HAPPY to have him in the role.
Thankfulness: Pumpkin spice lattes, now and forever. Or at least for the next 4 months until the stores run out of syrup again.
Time-Stealer: Coupon-clipping.
Indulgence: Lemonilla Tillabars. Don't ask, just eat.
Fashion: I need to find a black leather (or high quality faux-leather) jacket that isn't too cropped. And then I need the money to buy it.
Music: "Burn This Town" by Battleme.  I'll find you if you wanna be found.
Reminder: "Having a low opinion of yourself is not modesty. It's self-destruction." - Bobbe Sommer

#165: Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and The Attractions


Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and The Attractions (1982)

Favorite Tracks: "Beyond Belief" and "Tears Before Bedtime" and "Shabby Doll" and "Man Out of Time" and "Almost Blue" and "...And In Every Home" and "Human Hands" and "Kid About It" and "Boy with a Problem" and "Pidgin English" and "You Little Fool" and "Town Cryer"

Thoughts: WOW. I like Elvis Costello, but I was a little bummed to have another of his albums when I JUST listened to him at #167. But after Metallica, I decided I should count my blessings, as it were. So I half-heartedly queued up the album's first track, "Beyond Belief", and GOOD LORD. I had to listen to it another 6 times before moving on to the next track. It knocked my socks off. The soft, quick singing as the song builds and builds. What a great start to an album--one of the strongest I've experienced when hearing a song for the first time. I couldn't wait to see what the rest of the album held in store.

"Tears Before Bedtime" was less impactful, but it was still a fun and groovy listen. It reminded me vaguely of Prince. "Shabby Doll" was just alright until at about the minute mark the piano came in and then I LOVED it. "The Long Honeymoon" was a nice song, but I kept being distracted by the wire percussion brushes in my left headphone. They sound just like a cat kicking in a litter box.

"Man Out of Time" has more killer piano, and a great building sound as well. "Almost Blue" is a classic sad song, apparently inspired by Chet Baker's version of "The Thrill is Gone." Almost me, almost you, almost blue.

Side 1 ends with "...And in Every Home," full of fun horns and orchestrations. Side two opens with upbeat "The Loved Ones" and then comes the romantic "Human Hands" which had me rocking my head and once again enjoying the piano part. "Kid About It" also had a great intimacy about it with the volume fluctuations of Elvis' singing. The next stand-out track was "Pidgin English"--a complex and fun song that reminded me of Bowie, doo-wop, late 60s Beatles (the horns), and features Elvis singing in several types of voices. Give it a listen! It's shocking that it wasn't released as a single.

The album ends with a bang: "Town Cryer", a piano and orchestra-laden masterpiece. Seriously, check out this album.

Is This Better Than Every Picture Tells A Story?: Certainly as good!

You can get killed just for living in your American skin

I'm terrible at keeping up with the news but this month many of my friends brought attention and voices of outrage to the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, as well as the brutal mistreatment of peaceful protesters that has followed. I don't feel like I have anything to add to the conversation that hasn't already been better said by others about racism and police militarization in America...But that doesn't mean I will be silent. I want to boost the voices of those affected and shed light on this and other travesties of justice.

This weekend driving in my car Bruce Springsteen's song "41 Shots (American Skin)" came on. Written following the brutal shooting of unarmed street peddler Amadou Diallo by the NYPD, I heard it for the first time in the recording of Live in New York City Madison Square Garden concerts. He has since played it at several concerts in response to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. In 2012 he released a studio version of the song on his album High Hopes.

41 shots
And we'll take that ride
'cross this bloody river
to the other side
41 shots
I got my boots caked in this mud
We're baptized in these waters
and in each other's blood

Is it a gun
Is it a knife
Is it a wallet
This is your life
It ain't no secret
No secret, my friend
You can get killed just for living in
your American skin

Currents, August 2014


Project: Nothing like a pet (particularly a dog) having a tummy bug to make you want to clean your entire house. I'm compiling a 'deep cleaning' list full of Pinterest-y home remedies. I also did a thatched book pages wall in my living room. I'll try to take some pics to post later...
Movie: I re-watched The Birdcage :( and saw Lucy. I also watched Zodiac, which really creeped me out (in a good way), and the documentary It's A Girl, which also creeped me out (in a bad way). 
Food: I was off the pesto wagon for a while, but now I'm back on in a serious way.
Drink: The seafood restaurant in my neighborhood is serving bottomless fresh peach lemonade, and for refills they let you switch it out for the fresh Strawberry or regular lemonade. If you're into that sort of thing. Me? I'm all kinds of into peach lemonade.
Celebrity Crush: Charlie Hunnam (particularly in his cut and with all his fake tattoos). 
Obsession: Taking photos of cute and unique houses in my neighborhood. I'll have to take a break though because the only way it feels not stalker-ish is if I have a dog with me. 
Book: My friend Leanna (who took the banner photo) lent me the book Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern and it was one of those books I finished in one night. A favorite part:
"I don't believe there's such a thing as casual sex for people like you and me. How could there be? We don't have casual relationships with our bodies. They're unpredictable, humiliating things that have failed us so much it's hard not to hate them, and impossible to imagine being naked with another person and relaxed at the same time."
Thankfulness: This weekend my parents took Stevie to stay with them for a bit so I can get a break. I'm so lucky they love her too, and recognize that I need some time apart from her after last week's tummy tantrum. If nothing else it's nice to have some quality time with just the kitties.
Fashion: I'll take one of everything 
TV show: I'm catching up on The Witches of Eastwick (come for the Tom Lenk, stay for the flashbacks and costumes), becoming too emotionally attached to Sons of Anarchy (I'm on season 3), and re-watching The X-Files along with the super-adorable Kumail Nanjiani and The X-Files Files podcast.
Music: I compiled a massive Broadway playlist, which has re-kindled my passion for Jane Eyre, Nine, Miss Saigon, and Yentl.
Wishlist: This dress and these candles.
Indulgence: I bought a super great carpet spot cleaner that has saved my sanity (and my carpet) this last week.
Reminder: Sometimes when adult life gets me down, I just remember at least I'm not in high school.

Written on your spirit this sad song


Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the passing of my friend Shannon. The loss of her has caused more grief, confusion, and anger than any other death of a loved one I've experienced thus far. In its quieter moments, the grief takes form in searching for meaningful poems, going through old photos, and listening to a special mix I made, with Cat Steven's "How Can I Tell You" and Joni Mitchell's "Down to You" on endless repeat. The music is so helpful for 'feeling my feelings', it's almost shocking, as quick and immediate as smelling a distinctive scent or taste.

Another song that it is in the mix is one I often have to skip because it opens the heartache too much, more than I usually have time and space for. The first time I heard it was at the memorial service, when at the end of the evening after most people had left, we lit floating sky lanterns for Shannon. The song played on her older sister's mix as the lanterns started to make their way into the sky. I managed to catch part of it on film, and I don't think Shannon's family would mind if I posted it (but rest assured I will be deleting this post if they do).

The song is "Greenfields, Golden Sands" by Yusuf Islam. The song isn't even about death or losing someone, it's just about living a simple life:

Green fields and golden sands 
are all I need, are all I want
let the wind blow hard, I don't mind

a small house and an olive tree
to keep and feed my family 
let the wind blow hard, I don't mind
Green fields and golden sands 
that's all I need, that's all I want
that's all I need, that's all I really want

To risk stating the obvious, that's why this song is so devastating... Shannon was an elementary school teacher. She had just bought her first house with her sweet husband. They had a dog named Arrow and loved visiting the Oregon coast. If any of us deserve to live a long, full life: she did. I think we all know we're going to lose a lot in this life, but a child, a sister, a spouse, a friend...at her age, and to such suffering... When Shannon got breast cancer, all any of us wanted was to keep her. That was all we wanted, all we needed. Nature, shelter, food, and keeping those we love safe. It doesn't feel like so much to ask, but it's beyond bewildering why so many of us are left helpless and bereft after 'the wind blows hard.'