Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Spring 2018 Playlist: Annotated

Spring is such a strange time of year--it might be my least favorite season? It's difficult for me to ping-pong between exhausted cold and hopeful warmth and gloomy wet. On the other hand, my Spring listening ends up being pretty eclectic for the same reason.

Hope eclectic is something you enjoy. Here's the playlist.

1. "Linger," The Cranberries: We lost Dolores O'Riordan recently, so I knew a Cranberries song had to make the list. I know I could have gone for a deeper cut, but let's face it: "Linger" is iconic. Not only is it gorgeous, but its lyrics are universal. Everyone has felt that way at one point or another.

2. "Copper Mines," Mothers: I've been listening to a wonderful podcast lately called I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats. In theory it's a show where Welcome to Night Vale creator Joseph Fink interviews the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle about his album All Hail West Texas, one song per episode, and at the end a different artist covers the song. In reality it's more like Joseph Fink and John Darnielle talk about philosophy and politics and emotions; you don't have to listen to the Mountain Goats in order to enjoy it. Anyway, Mothers was one of the artists who covered a song, and I loved it, so I decided to check out their original music, which is also great.

3. "Color in Your Cheeks," Ibibio Sound Machine: Speaking of I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats, this is an actual cover from the show. Ibibio Sound Machine's version of the song is wonderful because you'd never guess it was a Mountain Goats song to begin with--it sounds completely different.

4. "Be the One," Dua Lipa: I'm a sucker for a good pop song. I was introduced to Dua Lipa by my friend Meg, who insisted I watch the women-supporting-other-women video for "New Rules." While "New Rules" is indeed my jam, it didn't really fit on my Spring mix, so I decided to go with "Be the One" instead. It's a little dreamier.

5. "The Same Star," Belle & Sebastian: The new Belle & Sebastian album is really hit or miss for me, but I like this one. It sounds like standard B&S at first, until you get to the middle, where it picks up a bit.

6. "Time in a Bottle," Lykke Li: This was a last-minute addition to the playlist. I was listening to Lykke Li's 2014 album the other night since I was feeling angsty, and I decided to check if she had anything new. How delighted I was to find this cover of Jim Croce's 1973 classic "Time in a Bottle." The vintage sound matched the vintage sound of the previous track well.

7. "She," The Monkees: Since the playlist was moving in a retro direction, I figured I may as well throw in a song that's actually old. I will not apologize for my love of The Monkees. I always enjoy listening to them in the Spring.

8. "Finally," Franz Ferdinand: I often joke that I'm Franz Ferdinand's last real fan in the United States. My high school boyfriends released a new album this year, so yeah, I knew I was going to put one of the songs on my Spring playlist. To be honest, the new album isn't my favorite of theirs, but there are a few gems. The organ here matches the organ in The Monkees' song, so figured it was a good follow-up.

9. "Faded Heart," Børns: Børns is one of those artists that Spotify always tells me to listen to, so I finally decided to take them up on the offer. As usually, Spotify knows my tastes better than I do. Algorithms work, my friends. Børns makes poppy glam goodness, and "Faded Heart" is a perfect example.

10. "Home," Tune-Yards: Lots of new albums from awesome artists this year--2018 is musically blessed. I really like how this song by Tune-Yards is really ominous and ethereal at the same time. Kind of like Spring weather!

11. "Redemption," Zacari with Babes Wodumo: Everyone keeps talking about how Black Panther was the best movie ever--and I'm not disagreeing with them. But I feel like not enough people are talking about how Kendrick Lamar's soundtrack for the film is the best soundtrack ever. Sure, I'm being hyperbolic. But it's awesome. There are few songs I don't like on the soundtrack, but this one was the most Spring-like to me.

12. "Can't Get Enough of Myself," Santigold featuring BC Unidos: I've loved Santigold since she released her self-titled album in 2008. This chipper number from her 2016 album seemed like the perfect encapsulation of warm, hopeful Spring days. Plus, it's basically my anthem. I truly can't get enough of myself.

13. "I Lost My Innocence," Ezra Furman: I suspect Ezra Furman will frequently appear on all my playlists, partially because he releases music so frequently, and partially because that music is always rad. His newest album Transangelic Exodus may not be as killer as Perpetual Motion People, but I still really like it. This one is a whole lot of fun.

14. "Room," Shamir: People always think of The Killers when they try to name musicians from Las Vegas, but let's be real--Shamir is the best artist to come out of Sin City, my second home. He released this song just this year, so hopefully that means a new album is on the way. Along with the Ezra Furman song, I tried to move the playlist back in a retro direction here.

15. "Control," J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound: This song from J.C. Brooks' 2013 album Howl came on shuffle the other night, and I was reminded how much I love it. I felt compelled to put it on the Spring mix--though it was difficult to find a good place for it. It's a soul number, and while there are many vintage sounds on this playlist, not many of them are soul. This was the best place I could find, so I hope it works for you. It's a great song, anyway.

16. "Julia," Charly Bliss: Earlier I mentioned Joseph Fink's podcast Welcome to Night Vale. It's a fictional podcast that takes the form of a small town radio show in a world where every conspiracy theory you've ever heard of is true. Each episode when host Cecil Palmer announces the weather, it cuts to a song by a different artist. I've discovered many wonderful artists this way, and Charly Bliss is one of them. I also had a hard time placing this 90s-style grunge song, so I decided to put the two outliers together. I think it works.

17. "Getting to Me," Caroline Rose: Another great source of new artists is Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist; that's where I found Caroline Rose. Felt it was a good way to drive the playlist back in a positive, poppy direction.

18. "Childhood," Sammus: Sammus is another artist I discovered on Night Vale's weather! A PhD student/activist/rapper--what's not to love? "Childhood" is an utterly charming song.

19. "Boyish," Japanese Breakfast: I was introduced to Japanese Breakfast by my friend Marc Bannes, who also likes dreamy girl pop-rock. The strings in this song are the best transition I could find between Sammus' rap and The Decemberists' decidedly not-rap.

20. "Once in My Life," The Decemberists: I've been listening to The Decemberists since high school, but lately their albums haven't done much for me--until their most recent release. I'll Be Your Girl isn't the most cohesive album--all the songs sound like they could be from different records. But individually the songs are quite good. This one song is what I imagine The Decemberists would do if they had to write the soundtrack for a 1980s Brat Pack movie. I also think it's very similar in structure to "Linger," so it adds a nice symmetry to the playlist.

And there you have it. Managed to corral myself back into the 20-song limit. Well done, me. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

How much does it cost to buy a camper?

I've been having a week

I mean, it's not the worst week I've ever had. But it hasn't been fun.

First I received a noise complaint about Okie on Monday. This makes me mad for several reasons:

  • You think her barking is loud for you? Try living in my apartment.
  • If you don't like the sounds that dogs make, don't live in one of the few dog-friendly buildings the city has to offer.
  • Puppy training is not an overnight process.
  • Can't you come to me first before you go to the management company? 
  • People suck.
She doesn't even bark that much! It's only when she can hear someone out in the hallway that she can't see—especially when my neighbors across the hall enter and exit. We're working on it.

I think it will be okay. I explained to the management company all the steps I was taking to train her, and they seemed satisfied with that, at least for the time being. But now I'm even more stressed out when she barks. 

Then what I thought was just stress quickly developed into a cold. Sore throat and coughing right now, but I can tell the mucus is coming. I haven't been able to properly rest or exercise much lately—having a new dog will do that to you.

I've also felt terrible about my writing—like I haven't been writing enough, and what I do write is bad. Like I'm idea-less. It doesn't help that a bunch of my writing peers just had their stories selected by Aimee Bender to appear in this year's Best Small Fictions; I was nominated, but didn't even make the finalists. Which is totally fine! My rational brain recognizes that the vast majority of nominees didn't make it, but my emotional brain is convinced that I'm the only one. And I am really proud to know these other writers—they deserve the win. 

I think I'm feeling more bummed about this than I normally would because I haven't heard much about the book these days. I've still been sending the manuscript out to agents, and three are reading it in full. Again, my rational brain recognizes that this is fantastic, but my emotional brain thinks OHMIGOD THEY HAVEN'T GOTTEN BACK TO ME YET THEY MUST HATE IT EVERYTHING IS AWFUL I AM AWFUL.


It's gotten to the point where I'm questioning all the decisions I've made in the past year or two and I'm thinking maybe I should just quit my job and buy an Airstream and live as a nomad and survive on...something? Nothing?

Not seriously, of course. 

Here's what I've decided I really need: all your good news. What's going well in your life? I want to live vicariously through you. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mugmosas and Publix Sub Sandwiches: #AWP18 in Tampa

As you may remember, I'm the social media/marketing coordinator for Split Lip Magazine, the Sleater-Kinney of monthly online lit journals (that's my description, anyway). Despite manning the Twitter feed for almost exactly a year, however, I had never met the majority of the staff in person.

Until this weekend.

Every Spring since 2014 I've trekked across the country to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference—Seattle, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, D.C., and now Tampa. But this year was different. For the first time, I was coming not as a student of writing, but as a publisher of writing. 

I mean, it's not like I'm ever not going to be a student of writing. But that wasn't my primary focus. 

It was amazing to meet the rest of the crew! We got along swimmingly—our virtual friendships translated perfectly into real ones. Our table at the book fair was popular AF (might have had something to do with the beverages we served in the mugs we were selling), and we hosted an offsite reading on the rooftop of Fly Bar that was ridiculously fun and more than well-attended. 

We sold a ton of our FIRST EVER PRINT ISSUE. Have you bought it? You should buy it.

Multiple people expressed their appreciation for my social media skills, which was really nice—I seriously almost ended up crying at one point. It's a lot of work, so it's lovely to hear that people are enjoying it!

I also got to see many of my MFA friends, of course. I stayed in an Airbnb with Tim and Shannon (and theoretically Timea, though she was better at staying out late than we were). I reunited with Olivia. I groggily sought out breakfast sandwiches with Dan. I saw Kayla and Brett read their work in Ybor City.

Other highlights: Alissa Nutting remembered who I was and gave me a hug. I met Brandon Taylor, brilliant writer and personal Twitter hero. I befriended the Midwestern Gothic crew. I bought a solid stack of books and a "Read More Women" tote bag.

On Sunday I drove my rental car down to Punta Gorda to visit my parents in their snowbirds' paradise. My Aunt Trish was also thereand my Aunt Patty and Uncle John showed up unexpectedly in their camper. A regular family reunion. I ate mint chocolate-chip ice cream and got a sunburn. We hopped on my dad's boat and sailed to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Later that night I soaked in their hot tub.

I had to set up all their electronics, too. Such is the plight of a Millennial.

Monday night it was back to Chicago, to my VERY EXCITED dog. While I'm enjoying puppy cuddles, I wish I could have spent more time away. Because I'm stuck in a corporate environment most days, it's a blast to get out and flaunt my creative side from time to time—blue lipstick and everything.