Mix Tape: Big Sister Edition (circa 1987)

I spent a lot of time in my younger years tagging along after my older step-sister. She was 3-1/2 years my senior and always doing cool older sister things, like telling jokes I didn’t quite understand, playing exclusionary games, and having longer and blonder hair than me. I tried so hard just to keep up with her, but she was always at least 12 steps ahead of me–literally and figuratively.

By the time we were both in our tween-age years, my dad and her mom had divorced and we saw each other only infrequently. On one rare visit, I wandered into her bedroom and wasn’t told immediately to leave. (Success!) She was sitting on the floor, drawing, and I sat down next to her and watched silently. When the cassette she’d been listening to ended, she offered me a coveted honor: selecting the next tape.

She looked at me expectantly. I knew if I chose incorrectly, I would likely break the spell and be kicked out of her room. I scanned my memory banks for bands she’d previously proclaimed to be worthy. “Duran Duran?” I asked nervously.

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Shiny Things!

An occasional list of internet finds that have inspired, enlightened, delighted, or merely distracted me by being shiny and sparkly on an otherwise gray day.

Before I saw this video, I had no idea who Shia LaBeouf is (though, I do know enough French to know that that’s a silly last name). I had to look him up on Wikipedia in order to learn that he is an actor who stars in films I do not see – with the lone exception of Nymphomaniac, which I dozed through. When I confessed this fact to Josh, he replied: “Transformers?”

Really. Does that sound like the kind of movie I would watch? Pfffft.

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Shiny Thing: Hozier

Normally, my “Shiny Things” posts happen on Fridays, and only if I’ve published a real post earlier in the week. But at the point you’ve gone six weeks without publishing a damn thing, there’s really no point to worrying about maintaining scheduling conventions.

So, I present to you this week’s shiny thing (on a Monday): Hozier.


I first heard the single Take Me to Church several weeks (months?) ago. I thought it was meh. It definitely caught my attention, but it felt a little too contrived or overproduced or something. But then SxSW happened, and there were recordings of his live shows making the rounds and that’s when I discovered that his voice is just that amazing. That’s just how he sounds when he opens his mouth. Which is wow. (Yes, I’m aware that “which is wow” is not anything close to a complete sentence, but that’s what is is: Wow.)

Most of his songs are a little more stripped down than Take Me to Church. If I were to try to stick him in a box, it would be one labeled “Irish singer-songwriter with a heavy blues influence.” He does melancholy the way only the Irish can, like writing a love song that includes a dead body crawling back to its love. So, a zombie love song of sorts. But a lovely zombie love song, called Work Song:

And then there’s Someone New, which I find somewhat reminiscent of Van Morrison (always a good thing), and which has been stuck in my head for days without becoming the least bit annoying:

And you can check out Hozier’s entire KCRW live set (which I tried to embed here, but KCRW’s code and my website aren’t playing nice). There’s a bit of interview mixed in, so you get to hear that delightful accent as well. But really, it’s worth watching just to see him do that thing where he makes big sounds come out of his mouth without even trying.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Hozier. Enjoy.

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Out with the Old, In with the New

And lo, we have arrived. Twenty fourteen. Which, among other things, means that Josh and I have been engaged for two years now. We should probably add “get married” to our list of things-to-do this year, yes? Yes. Let’s work on that. But that’s not all. I’m still trying to be more intentional about the way I spend my time, and so I like to make some resolutions every year that line up with my free time priorities. Here’s a list of what I’d like to accomplish this year (in addition to matrimonial knot-tying), along with a quick report on how 2013’s resolutions went.

Eat Food

2013 Resolution: Limit ordering take-out to once per week.  I was pretty successful here, at least during the week. The weekends? We still ate out a lot. BUT we were eating in the restaurants rather than taking out. So I totally nailed this one, technically speaking.

2014 Resolution: Resurrect the garden. Josh put in raised gardening beds in 2012, and then we had an unusually unsunny summer and our yield was kind of sad. So we showed the sun who was boss by not bothering to plant anything in 2013. And that year, when we had no seedlings poised to benefit from it, the sun shone and shone and shone all summer long. Because the sun is an asshole. This year, we’ll make some modifications to the beds and try again. We will plant. We will harvest. We. Will. Eat!

Be Green

2013 Resolution: Make a batch of homemade deodorant. Done and done. And it works GREAT. The recipe is here (my most popular post of 2013, so I guess that means you guys like it too). I made one batch, and it lasted me the entire year.

2014 Resolution: Homemade shampoo. In addition to 2013’s homemade deodorant, I starting washing my face with oil. Both changes were wildly successful (and saved money to boot). I already use eco-friendly shampoos, but this is the year I’ll be brave enough to test out some homemade recipes. I’m mentally preparing myself for the terrible hair days ahead – and you should too, since you’ll be subjected to the photodocumentation.

Make Stuff

2013 Resolution: Pick a project and make it. Success! I made some things. Mostly to give to other people for Christmas presents, but that still counts.

2014 Resolution: Make 6 lovely things, at least one of which requires a sewing machine. I don’t have anything specific in mind yet, so I just gave myself a quantity of made items to work toward. I will consider them lovely if I want to show them off when they’re complete. This may not mean that they actually are lovely, but good enough to inspire shouts of “Hey World, look what I made!” should count for something.

Get Out

2013 Resolution: Have one adults-only outing every month. Fail. Fail. Fail. Oh, did I suck at this one. I’m trying to recall how many times Josh and I had something even sort of resembling a date night, and I can only think of two: one in February (a concert) and one in December (a play). I also squeezed in a couple rushed coffee dates with friends, but all in all it was an abysmal year for adult time.

2014 Resolution: One. Adult-only. Outing. Every. Month. I’m just re-upping this one.

Read Books

2013 Resolution: Finish reading two fiction books and one non-fiction book. Nailed it, plus extra credit. Books finished in 2013:  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

2014 Resolution: Don’t buy any new books. That sort of feels like an anti-resolution, but I have stacks of books I already own that I haven’t read yet. I’m trying to get through that stack before adding to it. I am still perfectly willing to accept new books as gifts, however. Just so we’re clear.

Learn Stuff

 2013 Resolution: Learn to open a bottle of champagne, for chrissakes. This was the first resolution to get marked off my list, since I opened the New Year’s bottle of champagne precisely one minute after 2013 began. I’m pretty certain I’ve since forgotten how to do it, and I’m entirely certain it still makes me shriek because I’m convinced the cork is going to take my eye out. But still, I’m considering this one complete.

2014 Resolution: Participate in a writing workshop. Along the same lines as the champagne, I’d originally resolved to learn to use a drill. But, really, I know how to use one, I just don’t know how to use one well. (My drill holes are always wobbly and drunk looking.) I just need practice, and that’s a lame resolution anyway. Instead: a writer’s workshop. I already signed up for this YEAR-LONG one, before I had time to think too much on it and lose my nerve.

Get Involved

2013 Resolution: Finish my PTA Legislative Chair position off strong. Done. It was a semi-strong finish, at least. And then I started a new term as the Legislative Liaison at Riley’s new school. So there.

2014 Resolution: Bring the kids along. We’ll do some sort of volunteery thing as a family. A beach clean up. A weeding party at a park. Organize donations at West Side Baby. I don’t know exactly what yet. But we’ll figure it out, and do it. All of us.

Raise Citizens

2013 Resolution: Teach Avi new songs and guide Riley through a summer service project.  Done and done. Avi learned most of his new songs at preschool rather than directly from me, but it still counts. And Riley raised and donated over $400 to World Wildlife Fund to help endangered gorillas. Because he’s awesome.

2014 Resolution: Have the kids complete one Good Citizen Deed each week. This has been a trickier project to put together than I anticipated, but I’m giving the kids 52 assignments to complete throughout the year. The assignments vary from simple (pick out a can of food at the grocery store to donate to the food bank) to more involved (research a topic important to your community and write a letter to your state reps about it). All of Avi’s are pretty simple since, you know, he’s only 3.

Be Well

2013 Resolution: Complete three workouts/week. Didn’t happen. Me and exercise just aren’t getting along regularly right now. I squeeze it in when I can. I know it’s important for my physical health. But you know what? So is sleep. And on those rare days that I have a little extra time to spare, sleep wins. Moving on.

2014 Resolution: Go to the doctor(s) and write one day/week. I haven’t been to the doctor in a long time. I’m overdue for a pap, breast exam, glaucoma screen (family history there), glasses that actually correct my eyesight. And the dentist? Haven’t been there in over a decade. Don’t give me that look. I’ve had the shit shitty shittiest insurance that only medical emergencies have been dealt with. But now? Obamacare, yo. I can finally afford this. And for my mental health, I vow to get myself away from children once a week for some focused writing. Wish me luck on that one. I’ll need it.

Life List

2013 Resolution: Go to the dentist. Nope. No money. Shit insurance. We’ve covered this.

2014 Resolution: Give new life to an old piece of furniture. I have piles of old furniture in the basement that I refuse to sell/donate/take to the dump, because I am convinced I can rehabilitate them. This is the year that I try, at least once.

Lighten Up

2013 Resolution: Ride in the Fremont Solstice Parade. Yeah, the naked part.  I did it! I did it! I did it! It was fun. You should do it too.

2014 Resolution: Yell less. Like, waaaaaaay less. This one’s for you, Avi.


This post’s song: Best Year by Elk and Boar

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Why We Don’t Have a Dog

Josh: “When are we going to get a dog?”

Me: “I don’t know. Not yet. But more importantly, what are we going to name it?”

Josh: “It seems a little premature—”

Me: “It has to be something good because it’ll dictate Avi’s porn name.”

Josh: “Wha?”

Me: “You know, the name of your first pet plus the name of the street you grew up on equals your porn name. Which means mine is Silver 148th, or something. And that’s dumb.”

Josh: “Maybe you’re Silver One Four Eight. Like a robot.”

Me: “A porn robot? Yeah, okay. That’s cool. No one goes all night like a porn robot.”

Josh: “I’m King Sunrise. Which just sounds like something off the breakfast menu at Denny’s.”

Me: “So you understand why this is so important. He’s already screwed, because we live on a street with a number for a name. Maybe if you live on a number street, you can use the nearest street with a word name for your porn name. That seems fair.”

Josh: “So…. Admiral?”

Me: “We’re closer to Olga.”

Josh: “So, his porn name is going to be whatever we name our dog, plus Olga?”

Me: “Yeah. I think it’s best if we not get a dog until we buy a new house on a street with a pornier name.”


This post’s song: Adorable Beast by Bobby Bare Jr.*

*New blog feature! Almost always when I’m writing a post, a song will get stuck in my head. It’s usually related to what I’m writing in some way (though the way might be apparent to only me). Now, I shall post them at the end of each post, under the unimaginative heading “this post’s song.” Enjoy! 

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