Winter Seeds

This is going to be a harder blog to write.

So, I suffer from depression. This is not a new thing, if I’m being honest. It’s probably something I’ve always felt in some capacity–touched by this feeling of Knowing and Understanding from a young age. I was always called an “old soul,” never exactly felt right in my childhood body. I say I’ve “suffered” from it, but I don’t know if that’s really the right word, the accurate one. It’s always been there in some capacity, sometimes more quietly, like the hum of appliances in the background, and sometimes I feel it as though it were another person I was accommodating in my mind. Not always an easy friend to have, but one who I understood, and who understood me.

Depression runs in my family, more openly discussed regarding my mother’s side, but something that I can feel on my father’s side, too. It’s hard to compare the two families equally, being that I don’t really know my mom’s side as well (although fortunately, things like social media have helped bridge that gap in some ways), but I certainly understand the way it operates on my dad’s side more. I think it is something that defines us, that makes me understand them better, and certain family members even more. There is a strength in us, but a vulnerability too that makes us feel the world a little differently. Maybe everyone has this, maybe everyone feels this way about their family, but I guess because we share blood and bones and DNA, I feel it more acutely.

My depression is manageable most of the times until it’s not, usually offset by some major stress/significant change, or often it’s seasonal, especially in the winter.

Winter is a season I both love and dread for this. I’ve come to understand that I operate differently during the winter, that my thoughts are different. It’s a time of reflection, of darkness, of self-evaluation and contemplation. There is some hibernation that comes with this territory, some isolation. And to me, that’s okay, because sometimes I need that time away from people, inside myself to really think about the things I’m feeling, to really absorb all the people and life that is happening around me and at me.

But there’s usually a point during the winter, towards the middle or the end, where it becomes a little too consuming. Where the time spent out of the sunshine and limited indoors is a bit too much and the company inside my head is not the most pleasant. It becomes much more difficult to do things, like get out of bed in the morning, or to keep myself from crawling back in it the minute I get home, warm, safe, alone. Continue reading

Liner Notes for a Year, p. 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, I put together my annual “Year in Review” CD and wanted to put together some liner notes for this year’s choices. Here’s part 1 of 2 of that.

“We the People” – A Tribe Called Quest. Coming up with the first song to a mix CD is one of the biggest challenges. You want to set the right tone, and draw listeners in immediately. Starting on a good foot will help make sure people stay engaged, or willing to be engaged, even if they don’t love every song you’ve selected.

I went back and forth on this one for a while, really wanting to start with a Bowie song, since for me his death in the beginning of 2016 really set the tone for the rest of the year. I also obsessively listen to Blackstar when it first came out and for the month following Bowie’s death. But as this project kept evolving, starting the CD with one of those tracks didn’t feel right.

After listening through my “Songs of 2016” playlist again, I immediately knew I found my first track when it came up.

This song really had it all: An iconic group, known for addressing social and political themes in their music, releasing an album after a decades-long hiatus that spoke to the current climate of the country. And, true to the seemingly mark of the year, one of its members, Phife Dawg, passed away earlier this year.

“Wintersleep” – Amerika. I think I can credit my discovery of this song to my XM subscription–it seemed like any time I got in the car while I was still driving an hour each way to work on 95, I heard it playing on the radio. (I don’t know if I can chalk that up to coincidence as much as a limited playlist rotation on most of the satellite channels). Although it wasn’t a favorite of mine right off the bat, it grew on me and began to feel a bit like a battle anthem as I sped down the highway, usually on my way to or from Jersey, Philly, or Wilmington.

“The Ministry of Defence” – PJ Harvey. I admit I made it to the PJ Harvey party late in the game. Although her stuff has been recommended to me since college (including a mix CD pass along by an admirer which is still tucked away in a CD sleeve somewhere), I never really had that “ah ha” moment with her until fairly recently, and this song especially seemed to pull me in. I created a 2-song playlist (featuring this and “The Nurse Who Loved Me” by A Perfect Circle) that I listened to fairly exclusively for a 2-week period early in the summer.

“Fill in the Blank” – Car Seat Headrest. Car Seat Headrest was my biggest discovery of 2016 and was on pretty constant rotation for most of the year. I actually debated which song to include on this mix, since I rather obsessively listened to both “Vincent” (Which proved to be a fairly decent running song) and “The Ending of Dramamine” (this was actually the original track I was going to go with, but I wanted to use the Spotify session version, which wasn’t easily available to download). CHS taps into all those angsty, middle school feels that I’ve realized I’ll never fully get rid of. It’s proven pretty versatile, too, fitting the mood for long summer evenings just as well as it does for snowy January Saturdays. In the end I ended up going with “Fill in the Blank” since it seemed like a good introductory song to the band and to that feeling/attitude they have that I like.

“Your Best American Girl” – Mitski. This song was permeating my world for a while, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it until one day it clicked and became an obsession for me and Colin. It’s been on pretty heavy rotation throughout the fall and winter months, and when this year’s CD and some of its themes started taking shape, it seemed like a no-brainer addition. (Note, I never actually watched the video ’til just now when looking up links…Maybe listen to it first without it…)

“I Need Never Get Old” – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. This wasn’t really a song I listened to extensively throughout the year, but I found it on one of my saved monthly playlists (Each month I create a new playlist and throw any music I hear throughout that time period onto the list so I can go back and check it out later when I’m in need of something to listen to/in preparation for this CD). While going through songs to include for this mix, I rediscovered this one, and it felt like it helped add balance to some of the more somber, heavier songs in the collection. I also dig the throwback feel and am reminded of the Jukebox Jewels tapes I adored when I was little.

Shut Up and Kiss Me” – Angel Olsen. This album is on a lot of “best of 2016” lists for a reason (clearly they got their hands on my holiday CD before coming up with their selections). Ch-Ch-Check it out.

It’s snowing, and I’m spiraling.

Woke up early today to get caught up on writing and emails and editing and all the things I’ve been dreaming about doing since last weekend ended and I find myself hitting a familiar point of distress: all the things that seemed to manageable in the abstract feel daunting when time finally allows me to do them.

I find myself gravitating to my usual distractions: scrolling through Facebook, simultaneously Googling/researching several other things that I’ve been thinking I should look at/work on/get around to doing until I begin to feel so paralyzed by on the things that I have yet to do/have yet to accomplish, not just today, but in life. This suddenly turns into clicking through one of those slideshows that catalogs the transformation of celebrity child stars after they’ve grown up followed by amazing “then” and “now” weight loss successes. If by this point I’m feeling particularly self-destructive, I might begin to look up creative rivals or enemies who seem like they have shit “figured out,” who somehow seem blessed with the ability to stay on task, disciplined enough to diligently produce successful results.

Usually by this point, I’m left with a half-finished blog draft and a very strong desire for a nap.

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Liner Notes for a Year, p. 1

As is now a tradition, whenever I put together my Christmas packages I also make a little “year in review” CD that highlights all the music that defines the year for me. Creating this holiday package is always fun, and a welcome creative challenge. The past few years have been more light-hearted approaches to the cards–one year recreating the infamous Kim K. “break the Internet” shot, and another poking fun at the Starbucks “Red Cup” controversy–but admittedly, this year seemed hard to come up with good material to fit the way I, and many other people, had been feeling. I didn’t want the card to become too much of a statement, but I didn’t want to ignore the sheer sense of uncertainty and trepidation that seemed to be hanging in the air. So when Colin suggested making a “Greetings from the Bunker” card for the holidays, we started riffing on the idea until the Holiday Survival Guide was born.

We got to work right away, reading various survival manuals and researching styles. It took a while to organize the content the way we wanted to, and even longer to find the right artist to partner with, but once all these elements came together, the project started to really come to life, and I really love how the guide ended up looking, especially considering we didn’t find our artist/designer ’til the 11th hour (Seriously, he rocks):

holiday-survival-guide-1

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Remember how I said I’d come someday, baby? How I said I’d come around to see you one day?

Sometimes Christmas is about the happiness and joy of the holiday, about the time spent with family and basking in the warmth of that love. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s about accepting the sadness that the holidays can bring, the darkness of the winter, the long nights that give you no choice but to think and reflect, and sometimes, grieve.

I guess this Christmas has been more of the latter for me, one where I’ve just been working through my own shit, trying to understand this next chapter of my life, trying to process who I am, where I am, and what exactly I want to be doing next. This isn’t a bad thing–in fact, I almost look forward to winter for this very reason: a chance to really dig in on this heavier kind of thinking. But it certainly can come with its challenges, especially when trying to keep things merry and bright. 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.