An open letter to the morning radio DJ on XPN.

**I initially shared this this morning on XPN’s Facebook page, but it’s still awaiting moderation. (Probably because I said “fuck” in the post, to preserve the authenticity of the moment). But in case it doesn’t get published here, at least I figured it was worth posting someplace in case someone else needed to find this song today, too.**
I woke up earlier than normal today without any issue. (Anyone who knows me well enough knows why that’s no small feat.) I got in the car earlier than I normally would and listened a while to my new audiobook, which is basically someone’s modern day personal account of their own “Walden” experience, essentially the thing I’ve been fantasizing for the past several years.
I hit a level of introspection listening to the book that I needed to turn it off to give me proper time to work through my thoughts and not totally tune out the rest of the narrator.
So I drove without the radio on for a bit and eventually that got boring so I clicked the radio back on. I had only been flipping through the stations a few moments until I came across XPN and heard you introing the Turn It Up/Turn It Down.
I admit I was getting a little impatient when you were describing it–I’m wary when a DJ seems like they’re overselling a song, especially if I end up not agreeing with their opinion (it affects the level of trust in our rather one-sided relationship).
And with the first few bars, I rolled my eyes. Trust definitely seemed dashed. But then just a few more seconds went by and the song opened up and something exploded inside me and I felt that rare feeling like I had found exactly the thing that had been missing to properly soundtrack this current moment in my life.
After you came back on and explained more about the video, I literally exclaimed “holy fuck,” (sorry, I know this is a family page) and proceeded to pull it up and watch it right then while crossing the Walt Whitman bridge. (I know that’s not safe, but sometimes you just gotta do.)

I proceeded to cry down the majority of 95.

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The missing and the not missing…

I know for me, the feeling of loss comes and goes. As most people know, my mom was diagnosed with early onset-Alz when I was 22 years old. For the past 11 years I’ve watched my mother decline and have found myself ebbing and flowing in the various stages of grief over it. This is a topic that really fascinates me, and understanding that these different stages exist really do help me feel OK with whichever of the emotions I’m feeling at the moment.

Right now I’m definitely feel bummed about my mom in a way I honestly haven’t felt for a long time. I guess after her illness because more of a constant reality and then the norm, it was easy to just accept what was happening, especially because I really haven’t had much of a choice. But for whatever reason I’ve just been struck with such a strong sense of how things used to be, and what it was like when my mom used to care for me instead of the other way around. I always knew I still missed her, it’s a thing you just feel all the time, but suddenly I started to experience a sense of grief like I haven’t in a long, long time. Continue reading

Soundtrack of a Year

I’ve put together these annual mixtapes for some time now, in one form or another. Some years I focus on particular seasons, others are more a “year in review.” To me these CDs are like a scrapbook or diary—they best represent the things that happened to me, the lessons I’ve learned, and the memories from the year that I hold on to the most. I love making them, and especially love being able to share them with others.

I recently had a few people request that I create “liner notes” to go along with this year’s mix to explain the significance of the selected songs. I thought that would be a pretty cool idea, though I had no idea how incredibly challenging it would be, too.

2015 was a very good year for me in a lot of ways, but it came with a lot of serious change and challenges. While going through the monthly playlists I created with this project in mind, I was able to recount exactly what had happened in that timeframe and the emotional state I was in during most of it. It reminded me of the power of music, and admittedly overwhelmed me a bit.

Some of the songs on this list hold a lot of emotional weight for me; some are just ones I really enjoyed and think you might enjoy, too. Continue reading

the ebbs and the flows; the flows and the ebbs.

It’s funny how this blog ends up working for me, how it becomes this dumping ground for my various existential crises, fears, and ramblings. I remember one friend commenting on how strange it is to know me in person and then to read the things I write because it almost seems like 2 different people–that IRL I’m silly and seemingly carefree and goofy, but then she’d read my blog and be like, Whoa, Deep. Life. Shit.

I was reminded of this tendency again after my Iceland trip, when a few different friends who regularly keep up with the blog (thank you for that, by the way) commented on how it seemed my trip was a bit of a bust, and how they figured I probably would not be heading back to Iceland anytime soon. At first I was surprised by their conclusions, but when I went back and looked at my blog, and the bits of my trip I did talk about, I realized it’d be impossible for them to surmise anything but that. Continue reading

Let the ashes fly

The week before my former wedding anniversary, and I find myself carrying my wedding rings around in my pocket for days. This wasn’t my intention–the intention was to finally look into selling them at the jewelry store a couple blocks from my apartment–but every time I’ve gone there, there’s been a reason why it didn’t work out. First day I didn’t make it back into town in time before it closed. The next day the owner was unexpectedly out of town on business and his very kind, very elderly mother was watching over the shop counter but couldn’t complete the appraisal. On the third they were randomly closed. I know myself better than to leave them at my apartment or in the car, because that is where they will inevitably stay for several more weeks or months, so I’ve kept them in a plastic baggie in my purse or jacket pocket in the hopes the next pass by the store will result in this bittersweet errand’s completion. Continue reading

Bago Bag Review!

Alright, so I’ve had a few people ask me Bago Travel bag since I first mentioned it on the blog a couple months back, specifically how it manages to fold up so compactly. 

Since it’s easier to show vs. tell, I’m proud/frightened to bring you my first video blog ever. Hopefully this answers people’s questions about Bago, without totally making me look like a bobo (like what I did there?)

Let me know if you have any more questions about these awesome products!

 

 

All that matters is who is open chested and who has coagulated

I know this is going to sound like another “I Heart Iceland” post, but I have to say, I really admire Björk for this.

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Vulnicura came to me at a time when I needed it. It played for me on repeat for pretty much 2 weeks straight while I worked through some shit. I got it and it got me and I loved it, but now I’m at a point where I’ve processed the thing I was working through and now I don’t think I’m going to be able to listen to it for a long time.

So I can only imagine how Björk felt, rereading her diary to the world day after day. Because even though you’re still grieving a thing, it doesn’t mean you have to keep repeating it. Because at a certain point, you’re ready to move past it.

It’s brave she was willing to share it with the world; it’s brave she knew when it was time to end it.

Tips on Traveling in Iceland, Part 3: What to Listen To (And Where to Buy It!)

I gotta admit, this is one of the posts about my trip that I’ve been most excited to write, mainly because discovering new music is a passion for me no matter where I am in the world. But it was especially exciting in Iceland, a country that is chock full of so many incredible bands and musicians. Most people are already familiar with Björk, Of Monsters and Men, and Sigur Rós, and although each one of them is fantastic, that’s just scratching the surface of the music coming out of this country.

At the bottom of this post I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite bands and musicians whose work I was introduced to during this trip (and a couple from my last time here in 2013). The list below is not meant to be comprehensive–they are simply the ones who’ve been heavy in my own personal rotation.

If you’re looking for the latest artists who’ve emerged or who are on the cusp of emerging during your stay in Iceland, you don’t have to go further than the local Reykjavík record shops to find out who you should be listening to. From my experience, the shop clerks are incredibly knowledgeable about the latest local music and are happy to share their recommendations with you.

This last time around, I spent a lovely afternoon at 12 Tónar listening to the artists recommended to me by the owner. (I especially enjoyed this experience because they have listening stations set up throughout the store so you can hear the albums before you buy. They even served me some espresso–a clever way to reel me in/make me more motivated to make a purchase there. Spoiler: It worked.). Lucky Records is another great spot with a massive collection–I was lucky enough to be within walking distance of this shop during my first trip here and discovered a lot of great artists during that first short stay.

Still looking for more music shop options? Then add Reykjavik Records (small shop, but they still have a notable selection) and Bad Taste Record Store to your list of places to check out!

Keep in mind though, as with just about everything in the country, vinyl can be quite expensive, and new albums can range between $25-$45 USD (or higher, depending on the item). Whenever I go into a shop, I generally ask which albums/artists are hard to find outside of the country and start there (though it doesn’t hurt to do a quick search on your phone to be sure it’s not something you might be able to get for cheaper back home. I was able to find most of the artists on Spotify and SoundCloud, and their records for sale on Amazon). Of course supporting local businesses is always best, but if your bank account can’t afford to take home all the records you love, use these avenues to pare down your selections.

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Tips on Traveling in Iceland, Part 2: What to Pack

As noted in my previous blog, I decided to write this series of blogs in response to the numerous questions/messages I’ve been getting from friends and friends of friends who are planning to traveling to Iceland soon or are thinking of trying to book a trip after seeing/reading so much about this amazing place. I figured the best time to put this guide together was when I was still in the middle of my trip, so the information is still fresh in my mind. Feel free to leave a comment if there’s a certain aspect of travel you might be curious about. I’m definitely not an expert on Iceland, but hopefully my experiences might help you plan for your trip!

Alright, so the next topic I decided to tackle was “What specific things should I bring on my trip?” Although this might vary a bit, depending on the exact type of travel experience you’re planning, I think this overview should prove helpful to most people. Continue reading