Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Summer 2019 Playlist: Annotated

Why do I even have a blog anymore? I'm apparently incapable of writing in it. I somehow found the time to make a summer playlist. This year's theme is distorted guitar, apparently.

1) "Now I'm Here" by Queen - In the spring I went on a small Queen kick thanks to our stunning karaoke league performance of "Somebody to Love." But recently I've been on an even bigger Queen kick thanks to Amazon Prime's adaptation of Good Omens--which, by the way, is fantastic. I used to listen to Queen all the time in high school, and I first read the book Good Omens around then, too. It's been a nostalgic time for me. At any rate, this is a good high-energy number for the beginning of the playlist.

2) "Feels Blind" by Bikini Kill - I was so hoping Riot Fest would bring the reunited Bikini Kill to Chicago, and my hopes were fulfilled when they announced their lineup a few weeks ago. Can't wait to attend what will surely be a cathartic riot grrrl punk show in September. In the meantime, I'll just have to listen to their entire catalog over and over, which only recently came to streaming platforms.

3) "Wasted Nun" by Cherry Glazerr - I feel like Cherry Glazerr is very much in the lineage of bands like Bikini Kill--and incidentally, they're also coming to Riot Fest this year. This is one of my favorites off their new album.

4) "MUDDY" by Jamila Woods - Jamila Woods makes me proud to be a Chicagoan. She's easily one of the most talented musicians/lyricists to come out of the city this decade, and her new album is full of songs named after and inspired by famous black luminaries. It's powerful and moving. What's not to love?

5) "Ashamed" by Omar Apollo - Remember how I mentioned I was going down an indie Latinx rabbit hole in my annotated spring playlist? Omar Apollo is an artist I found in that rabbit hole. If you don't think this song is catchy as hell, you are wrong.

6) "Doin' Time" by Lana Del Rey - Surely her new album is actually going to come out sometime, right? She's released a ton of singles--I'm surprised it's not here yet. I love this one. Obviously the nod to Gershwin is very on-the-nose summer. But the way this song is produced makes it sound like it's from the 90s. It could almost be a Dido song.

7) "El Camino" by Combo Chimbita - Had to keep the Combo Chimbita party going from my spring playlist--especially because I'm going to see them at Empty Bottle on Monday! Chicago really is the best for live music.

8) "Orca" by Y La Bamba - The indie Latinx rabbit hole is deep and fertile. That sounds creepy, and I apologize. Anyway, I'm enjoying all Y La Bamba's albums, and this song seemed to fit the summer vibe I'm going for on the playlist.

9) "Sunflower" by Vampire Weekend feat. Steve Lacy - Do I only like this song because sunflowers are my favorite flower? I don't know. Once again, I half-hate, half-love this Vampire Weekend song. It's intriguing, I suppose, and definitely summery, so I figured I'd include it.

10) "Favorite Song" by Chance the Rapper feat. Childish Gambino - To celebrate the long-awaited release of Chance's earlier mixtapes on streaming platforms, I had to throw it back to 2013 with a track from Acid Rap, which is basically all I listened to that summer. I wanted to include "Juice," but they couldn't get that song cleared for streaming, which is a shame. This song is great, despite one really shitty lyric that I hope he regrets, especially now that his brother is out as bi.

11) "Tempo" by Lizzo feat. Missy Elliott - The first time I heard this song, I was underwhelmed--it seemed too repetitive. But later I realized it was the only song I wanted to listen to ever again for my whole life? It's so fun, and I'm pretty sure every song would be improved by an appearance from the legendary Missy Elliott.

12) "She Work Very Hard" by Ibibio Sound Machine - I really like Ibibio Sound Machine's new album--it's quite a disco dance party. I had a hard time choosing which track to include, but I eventually settled on this one. It should get you on your feet.

13) "From Fire" by Perta - Genuinely don't remember how I stumbled across this song, but it is also a disco dance party. It should keep you on your feet.

14) "Fire" by Black Pumas - This song came from one of my Spotify Discover Weekly playlists--thanks, intrusive-but-perceptive algorithm! Gotta have a soul song for the summer.

15) "Don't Hurt Yourself (live)" by Beyoncé - When Beyoncé released her Homecoming live album, I knew I had to include a track on my summer playlist--but it was difficult finding the right one, since they all blend together! This one seemed contained enough, and it also had lots of distorted guitar.

16) "Blue Again" by Weakened Friends - This is another song that came up on my Discover Weekly playlist, and I'm mildly obsessed with it. It also sounds like a 90s song--like something a band might be playing at The Bronze on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Actually, that's a good indicator of my general musical aesthetic: if someone could be playing it at The Bronze, I probably like it.

17) "Amsterdam Hotel Room" by Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers - Ah, yes, another depressing jam from Laura Jane Grace. But, like, fun-depressing.

18) "This Baby Don't Cry" by K. Flay - I'm psyched that K. Flay has a new album out soon. Dance-y punk is very much my thing. Get ready to clap.

19) "Cadaver Sniffing Dog" by The Mountain Goats - Would it really be one of my playlists if it didn't feature either a Mountain Goats song or an Andrew Bird song? Probably not. I love The Mountain Goats' new album, but I was having trouble finding a truly summery song on it--except for this one. Dead bodies are summery, right?

20) "Buddy in the Parade" by Hop Along - I've included Hop Along on some of my playlists before, but I finally got to see them in concert the other night! They played outside in Logan Square, and it was lovely. I knew they had to make an appearance on the summer playlist.

21) "Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone" by Ezra Furman - I can always rely on Ezra Furman to release excellent music on a regular basis. If this single is any indicator, the new album should have more of a punk vibe than a doo-wop vibe. Looking forward to it.

And there you have it! Happy summer listening.

Friday, May 10, 2019

A less than empty orchestra

A few months back, I got an email from Kelly—a friend from high school who I saw occasionally, but not with any regularity. Usually I'd run into her and a few other high school choir kids—Erica and Jeff—through my dear friend/sham 1950s husband Felipe. And every time I was with them, I thought to myself, These people are lovely! I should hang out with them more often.

So when Kelly sent me the email asking whether I wanted to join their team for a competitive karaoke league, I decided to say yes.

And I'm really glad I did! Although I suspect none of us knew exactly what we were in for during the 10-week season.

First of all, 2CK is not your average karaoke. There are three rounds per week: 2 solo rounds, and one group number round. Most of the weeks have specific themes: duets, decades, etc. And you can't just get up there and sing a song—not if you want to win. You need costumes. You need choreography.

It's a good thing I was in with the right crowd. As it turns out, Kelly and Erica and Jeff—not to mention Minky and Bill and Eric, and Felipe of course, and our fervent supporters/significant others Lauren and Andie and Matt and Claire and Jeff G.—are just as lovely as I thought. And perhaps more importantly: they're just as committed to planning elaborate performances.

We decided to give the 2CK veterans a run for their money.

We channeled our inner Freddie Mercury with Queen's "Somebody to Love"—complete with mustache. We gender-swapped for "Gaston" from Beauty & the Beast during Disney week. We rouged our knees and rolled our stockings down for a standing-ovation performance of "All That Jazz" from Chicago.

And that was only the group numbers! We all brought it just as hard for the solo rounds. A few weeks ago, for example, I performed a Stevie Nicks "striptease" to "Edge of Seventeen" that involved two dresses, a skirt, three shawls, lace gloves, a hooded cape, and a tambourine. I was so damn proud of myself for not screwing it up that I put it on YouTube.

We didn't win the competition. Alas, we lost to the red team—which was really the only other acceptable outcome, since they were equally as creative and committed. We tip our metaphorical-and-sometimes-literal hats to them.

But what does it matter? Look at all we've gained! I love performing, and I haven't had the opportunity to do it for years—until now. What's more, I have a whole new group of friends who are never going to be able to get rid of me.

Seriously, though—participating in karaoke league with this group has been an honor and a privilege. I'm so glad they invited me to join their team, and I hope I did them proud. 10/10, would karaoke with them again. Anytime. <3

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Spring 2019 Playlist: Annotated

Hello! I am, in fact, alive. I have been, uh, all over the country, for good reasons and for bad. I'll try to write about some of that later. In the meantime, please enjoy this Spring 2019 Playlist.

1) "Me and My Husband," Mitski - I've been waiting for Spring to roll around ever since this album came out. I knew immediately that I wanted to include this bright, poppy gem.

2) "L'Elephant," Tom Tom Club - I decided on this song for a few reasons. There's another 80s song later in the playlist, and I wanted some balance in the beginning. The rhythm here also moves nicely into that of the next song. And of course, Tom Tom Club is just fun all the time. (Although the lyrics of this song are pretty dark, if you know French. But it sounds fun!)

3) "Brillo Mas Que El Oro (La Bala Apuntandome)," Combo Chimbita - I discovered this Colombian band when another artist I like recommended them on Twitter. Between that and my trip to Mexico, I've fallen down a deep Latin alternative music rabbit hole, so you can expect more of that in the future.

4) "xanny," Billie Eilish - I cannot resist teenybopper goth pop. This song is simultaneously gorgeous and unnerving. Keep it coming, Gen Z.

5) "Binz," Solange - Loving the new Solange album. I think I might like A Seat at the Table more, but the jury's still out. This is my favorite on the album. It's sunny.

6) "Morning Comes," SASAMI - Sasami Ashworth did the theme song for the Articles of Interest podcast, which is all about clothing and what lies beneath appearances. Enjoyed that song, went in search of her other work, liked that even more.

7) "Zero Impact," Grace Lightman - I can't quite remember how I found this song. I think I was just jumping from artist to artist on Spotify and stumbled upon it. I like it. It sounds like Spring would sound in the year 2099.

8) "Crazy, Classic, Life," Janelle Monae - I told you I would put one song from Dirty Computer on each of my seasonal playlists for a year, and I have delivered. Dirty Computer is still one of the best albums I've heard in years. Janelle Monae is basically a god.

9) "I Want to Break Free," Queen - A few weeks ago at Karaoke League, my team sang "Somebody to Love" for our group number. It really well! We crushed the competition. At any rate, I went on a bit of a Queen kick after that, and I realized I'd been totally sleeping on this song for all these years. It's a good one.

10) "Crown of Love," Ezra Furman - While this song sounds very different from "I Want to Break Free," I feel that Ezra Furman is always operating in the same spirit as Queen. You have to trust your gut when it comes to playlists. I adore this doo-wop Arcade Fire cover.

11) "If I Could," Nicole Atkins - I got into Nicole Atkins a few years back when she opened for Avett Brothers in Vegas. I listened to her newest album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, all the time when I was driving around Nashville and Louisville last October. Her vintage sound is lovely.

12) "Unbearably White," Vampire Weekend - For many years I'd essentially given up on Vampire Weekend as a project. When they first appeared, I liked "Oxford Comma" as much as anyone else, but then their music seemed to become boring and repetitive. But this one popped up on Spotify recently, and I kind of liked it? Even though it kind of annoys me at the same time? Anyway, it fit well here.

13) "Sisyphus," Andrew Bird - I will stop putting Andrew Bird on playlists when he stops consistently producing great music. That is all.

14) "Every Little Thing," The Beatles - When I was little, my family went on a road trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, and we listened to Beatles For Sale again and again, there and back. When my sister and I recently had to take an impromptu road trip to Florida, we discovered that you can listen to the Beatles' entire discography between Chattanooga, TN and Punta Gorda, FL. This song says travel to me. It moves me forward.

15) "Oh My Violence," Lady Lamb - So happy that Lady Lamb has a new album out, and this is a particular favorite. I appreciate that her songs always have movements like a classical score.

16) "Buzzcut Season," Lorde - When I first heard Billie Eilish, she immediately reminded me of Lorde--which is especially funny, since I saw a tweet the other day claiming that Billie Eilish is Gen Z's Lorde. (And that's crazy--Pure Heroine only came out in 2013!) So I decided to throw this Lorde classic on the playlist, too. "Classic." Ha.

17) "Sound of Rain," Solange - Surprise! I couldn't decide which Solange song to go with on this playlist, so I ended up going with both.

18) "Premonitions," Miya Folick - Miya Folick is an artist that popped up on my Spotify Discover Weekly recently. I like her--she reminds me of St. Vincent and Mitski. If those artists are up your alley, she will be, too.

19) "South London Forever," Florence + The Machine - This album came out last June and I've been waiting all this time to put this particular song on a Spring playlist. It is literally perfect for Spring. You're welcome.

This playlist was difficult to organize because I'm dealing with a lot of different genres and a lot of different decades. Some of the transitions are choppier than I would have liked, but I did my best. I still think it works. Hope you agree.

Monday, February 11, 2019

¡Viva México!

The night Felipe and I landed in Mexico City, I was somewhat dazed. I knew CDMX was big, but the phrase "largest city in the Western Hemisphere" is hard to grasp until you see it sprawling from the plane. Felipe was a lifesaver (throughout the whole trip, not just that night); he got us to our Airbnb in la Condesa and directed us around the corner for some tacos al pastor. I'm sure I would have managed somehow with my shabby Duolingo lessons, but I must say, it really helps to travel to Mexico with someone who speaks fluent Spanish!

By the end of the next day, I was obsessed with the place. Mexico City made me feel comfortable. It's lively, but not in a harried way like NYC or a pretentious way like LA. (Yeah, yeah, #NotAllAngelenos.) It has no one distinct architectural style like Chicago. Most of the buildings are painted bright colors, which very much pleased my inner magpie. It also helped that the weather was idyllic the entire week we were there—high 70s and low 80s during the day, slightly cooler at night for sleeping. And the food!

I'll get to the food as we go.

Saturday: My 31st birthday. And what better way to spend mi cumpleaños than by being a total history nerd? After meeting Felipe's wonderful aunt and grandmother (still living in the home his architect grandfather designed, no less), we walked 10 miles (!) through Chapultepec Park to visit the Museo Nacional de Antropología, full of ancient artifacts from the Aztecs, Mayas, and pre-Aztec peoples, and to visit the Castillo de Chapultepec, where Hapsburg puppet ruler Maximilian once resided before he met his grim but not unexpected or even unwarranted fate. (Anyone else listening to the Revolutions podcast series on the Mexican Revolution? Just me?)

From the castle you can get 360-degree views of the city, churches and skyscrapers and the Angel de Independencia soaring above La Reforma. We strolled all the way to that angel before heading back to briefly rest. Later, my sham 1950s husband, who knows me all too well, took me to birthday dinner at a restaurant atop a 3-story librería. Book browsing, margaritas, and full bellies were had by all.

Food: avocado toast (yes, the Millennials have killed CDMX, too), molletes, and filete de pescado al axiote nicanor

Sunday: For a complete change of pace, we gave up walking entirely and instead spent three hours lounging on a vivid boat along the canals of Xochimilco, "the Venice of Mexico." With Felipe's grandma and aunt, we ordered food and drinks from the vendors that pulled up alongside us. There were even floating mariachi bands!

After a quick look at a replica of the creepy doll island (who wants to sail for 5 hours to the original creepy doll island, anyway?), we headed to the Museo Dolores Olmedo. Housed in a gorgeous old convent, its yard overtaken with peacocks and Xoloitzcuintli dogs, the museum's collection is full of Diego Rivera paintings, family photographs of Frida Kahlo, and more.

Later that night we ended up at a bar for dinner and they were playing the Super Bowl. Of course.

Food: chilaquiles, quesadillas, tostadas de atún

Monday: Felipe had to go out of the city to visit his other grandmother, so I took the opportunity to be EVEN MORE OF A HISTORY NERD! I jumped on the subway to Zócalo, the historic center of Mexico City. You've probably seen pictures—big square, big cathedral, big Mexican flag. My favorite thing about the Mexico City subway is that each stop has an image associated with it. So if you can't remember the names of the stops, you just have to remember that you're taking Waving Flag to Piece of Fruit, where you switch to Eagle, etc.

As a proud ex-Catholic, there's nothing I love more than touring historic churches—except perhaps touring historic cemeteries. I went to lots of churches that day, in addition to Templo Mayor (the remains of the Aztec city Tenochtitlán), a Graciela Iturbide photography exhibit at the Palacio de Iturbide, and souvenir shopping at La Ciudadela. On Felipe's recommendation, I ate at Sanborns—this weird chain which is sort of what you'd get if you stuck a Macy's and a Walgreens and an Olive Garden together, except the Olive Garden served Mexican food? And it's owned by Mexico's richest man?

When Felipe and I met up again, we went to dinner—only to find that our chosen restaurant was closed for the Constitution Day holiday. We ended up at another place with fancy mezcal cocktails, so it all worked out.

Food: nutella pastry, enchiladas, and a surprisingly unappealing chicken filet—but it was served with great mashed potatoes!

Tuesday: Early that morning we trekked to the bus station for a trip to Teotihuacán, site of the pre-Aztec Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. We climbed lots of stairs! So many stairs! Steep ones! We made it to the tops of both pyramids for some spectacular views. I got sunburned and I have zero regrets about it.

We ate lunch in a cave. An actual cave.

In the evening we journeyed to Arena México for a Lucha Libre match! At first I was concerned that I would have to choose between the glitter luchador and the fringe luchador and the cape luchador, but luckily they were all on the same team, fighting the bad luchadors who were clearly bad because they all wore black.

It's not the world's most subtle art form, perhaps. But I had a fantastic time. My favorite was Fuego. Can't get over that fringe. It was really good.

Food: pan de chocolate, salad with cactus, delightfully terrible sports arena food

Wednesday: After a leisurely breakfast, we took an Uber to la casa azul, otherwise known as the Frida Kahlo Museum. It's as radiant as you would expect it to be, given who lived there. Felipe warned me that I would want to move into the kitchen, and he was absolutely right. Who can help me decorate my own kitchen with tiny cups? They had an exhibit of her clothes as well—gorgeous.

The neighborhood where the museum is located, Coyoacán, is an old and beautiful place, full of cobblestone streets and bright buildings. We ate lunch at a local market and strolled to the church where Felipe's grandma got married. At this point I really started dreading my imminent return to freezing cold Chicago.

On our final evening, we headed back to the historic center, where we squeezed into the Palacio Nacional just before it closed to see the famous Diego Rivera murals. Then we went to the Palacio de Bellas Artes to see the Ballet Folklorico, which has been performing traditional Mexican dances since the 1950s. The building itself was an art deco masterpiece, featuring not only a Tiffany glass dome, but a Tiffany glass curtain, which is a real thing that exists and moves up and down somehow. Magic, I guess.

Food: huevos rancheros (and another pan de chocolate for good measure), more tostadas, and a salad that, as Felipe put it, looked like it was made by someone who had never seen a salad—but I had ice cream before dinner, so it was fine

Thursday: We flew back to Chicago. It was very early. It is cold and gray here. Why didn't I just stay in Mexico?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What is anger?

Let me be perfectly honest with you: it's been a rough 1.5 months.

Partially it's general wintertime depression-lite. (I really have to get one of those lamps.) Mostly it's my shoulder injury—which has gotten a lot better, thanks to prescription anti-inflammatories & over-the-counter anti-inflammatories & CBD cream & Salonpas & ice packs & hot packs & physical therapy & acupuncture & long showers & epsom salt float tanks & & &

(Remind me to tell you more about acupuncture and the float tanks. I'm having all kinds of experiences these days. Good experiences, for the record!)

But even though the pain in my shoulder is getting better, I still don't have full range of motion, and it still hurts when I reach for things the wrong way, or sling a heavy bag over my arm without thinking. And then there's the fact that my other muscles are in pain trying to compensate for my useless shoulder. Last weekend I either had a minefield of knots or one giant mega-knot on the right side of my back that no remedy would assuage. And now my right hand seems to have cramped up.

If I have developed carpal tunnel, I will literally scream.

Which brings me to my main point: I am angry about all this. And I am almost never angry, so I have no idea how to deal with it.

Sure, I've had bad days, just like anyone else. I have certainly been grumpy or cranky. And I've felt other negative moods more intensely, like sadness and anxiety. Who am I kidding? My entire life is basically constant anxiety. For the most part, though, I just don't get angry. Upset or frustrated or offended? Of course. But never rage-filled.

This pain is making me rage-filled. I have had to work very hard not to snap at people for having the audacity to speak to me. The other day I said "I hate you" aloud when my phone rang at work, just to make it clear where I stand on the subject of phone calls. (Thank goodness it was before I answered.) I have been cooking far more noisily than I need to.

I'm not sure why I'm so angry. It might be that I think my pain is unfair, since I didn't do anything stupid to injure myself—though I'm well aware life isn't fair. It might be that I'm impatient, and that there's not much I can do to fix it except perform tedious exercises for only tiny gains and wait and wait and wait. I suspect a big part of it is that my injury has prevented me from exercising, which is an important stress-reliever for me.

So, angry people of the world: I need your advice. How do you cope with anger? How do you express it in a healthy way? Screaming into a pillow or smashing a plate seems so...theatrical. Or maybe a better question is how do you get rid of anger?

I am genuinely unsure. Anger is not a familiar emotion to me. Please help.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Winter 2018/19 Playlist: Annotated

Dropping this playlist a little later than I wanted, but considering how much time I lost tending to my injured arm last month, it's amazing I put one together at all!

This season's themes: swoopy backing vocals, trumpets 

1) "我要你的爱" by Lan Ge: When I saw Crazy Rich Asians this summer, I immediately fell for this song—because I could understand it! I traveled to Beijing ten years ago this month (!!!), so my Mandarin has deteriorated significantly. But "I want your love" is simple enough for me to remember, apparently. Amazing what the brain can hold onto over the years. Let's take a look at baby Becky in China, shall we?

2) "Song 31" by Noname, featuring Phoelix: Just in terms of the general zeitgeist, 2018 was a shitshow. So it was wonderfully refreshing that Noname released a new song on the first day of 2019, washing us clean and ushering us into the new year. Swoopy backing vocals in full effect here.
3) "Bloodless" by Andrew Bird: Because I will put Andrew Bird on all the playlists forever and ever amen. What can I say? He's prolific and consistently good.
4) "Look What I Found" by Lady Gaga: Despite my love for Gaga, I actually had low expectations for A Star is Born—people were too hyped for me to trust it. But I really enjoyed the movie, and its soundtrack, too. Love the 70s vibe on this one; it's like updated Billy Joel.
5) "The Palace" by Father John Misty: This was my second favorite song on Father John Misty's latest album. It's certainly mopey, but it's pretty. The stark piano here makes a good transition from Gaga's jaunty piano to Nao's quiet and ethereal piano. Maybe piano is another seasonal theme?
6) "Blue Wine" by Nao: I think I'm a sucker for high-pitched voices. This isn't off Nao's most recent album, but I thought it was perfect for winter. Just picture snow falling while you listen to this song.
7) "Patricia" by Florence + The Machine: I knew I wanted to add this song to my winter playlist the first time I heard it. It's so dramatic! "Patricia" sounds like snowfall, too—but a wild blizzard instead of flurries.
8) "Something About This Girl" by Tasha: What can I say about Chicago's own Tasha? Her soft music is utterly lovely. I have teared up listening to it more than once. It's like therapy.
9) "Earl Grey (Stuck in a Groove)" by Girl Ray: I've been enjoying Girl Ray all throughout the fall and winter, and the many movements in this 13-minute composition definitely evoke the season—in a vintage way. It really does seem like you should listen to it with a cup of tea warming your hands.
10) "Well...All Right" by Buddy Holly: Buddy Holly is the shit. That is all.
11) "Manic Depression" by Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers: Looooooove this little punk album from the inimitable Laura Jane Grace. This song is depressing, obviously. But I appreciate the way it builds.
12) "Music Machine" by Gabriella Cohen: Spotify delivered this one to me on a Discover Weekly playlist. Thanks, Corporate Overlords! This is going to sound weird, but if tracks 10 and 11 had a baby, it would be this song.
13) "Technicolor" by Typesetter: In my humble opinion, "Technicolor" is the standout track on Typesetter's long-awaited album Nothing Blues. It reminds me of something I might have listened to in high school—in a good way. That trumpet is everything.
14) "I Like That" by Janelle Monáe: Though it may seem counter-intuitive to put a hip-hop track after a punk track, the backing vocals go together really well! I couldn't help it! I promised you I'd put Ms. Monáe on every seasonal playlist this year, and this was clearly the song for winter.
15) "Gravity" by DM Stith: I am mildly obsessed with the wonderful weirdness that is DM Stith, so I was psyched that he released a few new songs this year. "Gravity" is also like snow, but when it becomes dirty sludge piled on the side of the road.
16) "Like A Match" by Louis Cole: Louis Cole is another Discover Weekly discovery. (If you don't use those playlists, you're doing it wrong—Spotify's algorithms are excellent.) I was struck by how similar his voice was to DM Stith's, so it made sense to put the song here.
17) "Party Like Your Heart Hurts" by Rubblebucket: Decided to bring up the pace of the playlist here for a big, four-song finale. I love how the trumpet sneaks into this song. If you are having a winter dance party, this is the track for you.
18) "Blood in the Cut - Seattle Sessions Version" by K.Flay: You may have heard K.Flay before—she's kind of having a moment. I saw her at Riot Fest this year, in fact. But if you haven't listened to the Seattle Sessions tracks on the deluxe version of her album, you are missing out. They are full of horns and strings and other orchestral goodness. Can't get enough of the marching band vibe here.
19) "BOSS" by The Carters: When this album came out, I wanted to put a track on my fall playlist because I was listening to it so much—but none of the songs said "autumn" to me. This song says winter, and it definitely has trumpets. Check and check. I feel like Jay-Z's verse is somewhat subpar. I kind of feel that way about the whole album, actually—just get out of the way and let Bey shine! But then, who am I to judge? It's still a solid song.
20) "Sailor" by Twin Danger: I wanted another big band song to bookend the playlist, and I'm glad I remembered this Twin Danger track from their 2014 album. Makes me want to go Lindy-Hopping. I never learned how to properly Lindy-Hop, actually. But I want to Lindy-Hop in spirit

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Ow! My arm! Or: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going

Early in December I developed a bad case of calcific tendinitis in my right shoulder, which is to say that a calcium deposit appeared within my shoulder tendons for reasons unknown. Seriously! Nobody really knows why it happens. It's probably just that I'm a weakling who puts more stress on my tendons than I should because my back and arm muscles are pathetic.

It's happened to me once before, when I was living in Vegas—and at the time, I thought it was horrible. Little did I know it could get worse. I honestly think this most recent bout of it has been the most physically painful experience of my life. I had to go to the ER because I was literally yelping every time I moved, and the cortisone shot I finally received after one harrowing weekend merely dulled the pain.

There's nothing you can do about calcific tendinitis—it goes away on its own. The body reabsorbs the calcium deposit. I don't really understand how that works, but apparently it's true. So I spent my holidays resting, icing, and taking high doses of prescription NSAIDs.

Fortunately, I have the world's greatest friends. When my pain was at its worst, they walked my dog, did my dishes, drove me to appointments, helped me dress, and more. Eternally grateful for Meg, Molly, Felipe, and the rest of you.

My arm still hurts, but nowhere near as badly as it did a month ago. I still have poor range of motion, but I start physical therapy on Thursday. So hopefully I'll be in fighting shape soon. (*knock on wood*)

I don't want to dwell on unhappy things; I just wanted to get it all out on virtual paper so that I can leave my injury behind in the new year. Here's to 2019!

Of course, I must acknowledge that plenty of wonderful things happened to me in 2018:
  • I visited friends in Las Vegas and continued my passport stamp sleeve
  • I spent my 30th birthday with Meg at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—and our friends threw us an incredible HP-themed surprise party 
  • I went to see Hamilton with my family
  • I adopted the world's cutest dog—my lovely Oklahoma
  • I attended the AWP Conference in Tampa and met the Split Lip crew in person for the first time
  • I experienced that rarest of delights, a full Smear of Brain reunion, when Leta visited Chicago
  • I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyric Opera with Mollymoll
  • I visited Leta in Denver and drank chai and started my second novel
  • I saw Janelle Monae in concert *swoon* (not to mention loads of other great bands like Ezra Furman and Franz Ferdinand)
  • I went to the last day of Pitchfork festival to see artists like Noname and Chaka Khan
  • I got an agent (still internally squealing about that one)
  • I joined a competitive online trivia league which I thoroughly enjoy because I'm a nerd
  • I went to Riot Fest to see artists like Father John Misty and Blondie
  • I got a promotion and a raise at work
  • I took an epic road trip with my doggo to Nashville, new-favorite-city-Louisville, and Columbus
  • I read 41 books
  • I published stories in Occulum and [PANK] and five:2:one and CHEAP POP 
I don't want to leave those things behind in 2018. Those things can come with me and join whatever good things 2019 brings—fingers crossed!