Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer music

I'm preparing a series of big ol' posts with my pictures from my trip to Ireland, so in the meantime, here's some of my favorite music from the past couple of months. I realized that I'm almost constantly listening to music and I tend to associate certain songs with certain seasons and feelings. I can't really explain why some music is "summer music," but something about it just seems to fit my summer mindset.

So here, in no real order, is my favorite summer music (some of it new, and some of it... not so new):

1) I am in LOVE with Neko Case's latest album, Middle Cyclone. The first track, "This Tornado Loves You," has absolutely beautiful imagery and makes me thing of long summer drives through rural Iowa. And her voice is amazingly clear.

2) Lady Gaga is my ultimate guilty pleasure this summer. Sure, she's completely ridiculous, but her music is so damn catchy. Her hits like "Poker Face" and "Just Dance" are pretty awesome, but the rest of the album is just as good.

3) I looooove Andrew Bird, and Armchair Apocrypha is my favorite album of his. His music is so complex but still soothing, and it's amazing to see him perform live. My favorite song from the album is "Dark Matter," but "Scythian Empires" is a close runner-up.

4) Regina Spektor has a new album out, and I'm counting off the days until it arrives from Amazon. In the meantime, I'll be listening to "Fidelity" on repeat. I love her quirkier stuff, but "Fidelity" is outstandingly simple and lovely.

5) I think there's a contract somewhere that all college students have to sign that requires them to get really into Sufjan Stevens for a few years. But god help me, I love "Chicago."

6) I discovered Lisa Hannigan when she played "I Don't Know" on the Colbert Report, and I bought her album almost immediately. I love the story this song tells about meeting someone and not knowing anything about them, but wanting to take a chance anyway. (If you like this song, check out "An Ocean and A Rock." It's got the cutest imagery ever.)

7) Sleater-Kinney is my favorite band ever, and The Woods is an excellent "darker" summer album. I love Carrie and Corin's voices on "Entertain," and it always brings me back to seeing them at Lollapalooza right before they broke up.

8) I only really started listening to Ben Folds after I got to college, and I associate Rockin' the Suburbs really strongly with the beginning of the school year at Grinnell and the last few hot weeks of summer that overlap with the beginning of classes.

9) Again, I associate Jack's Manniquin with going to Grinnell and making new friends (including Allison, whose love of Something Corporate rubbed off on me).

10) I usually consider Counting Crows a "winter band," but "Accidentally in Love" is so damn happy that I consider it a perfect summer song. It's about love! And animated anthropomorphic rabbits! And kitchen failure!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The National Weather Service has issued a severe weather warning...

I love weather. Especially severe weather.

I don't really know why. I think it has something to do with living in Iowa my whole life. I have spent countless hours sitting in front of the television, watching KCCI and trying to figure out where a storm is heading. I know how to read weather maps. I've sat in the basement until the sirens go off. I've had 2 snow days in a row due to epic blizzards.

So of course, when I moved into my apartment in downtown Grinnell, one of the first thoughts that came to mind is "What do I do if there's a tornado?" I'm on the second floor of a building, with a coffee shop below. I talked to my landlord, and he said,"Well, if the coffee shop downstairs is open, you can just go down there... But these buildings have been around for over 100 years, so they're really sturdy." Then again, the cyclone that destroyed campus passed through around 120 years ago... And of course, if the coffee shop downstairs isn't open, my options are pretty limited. I can either run over to the Bourbon Street Pub and drink my troubles away or head to campus to sit around in some public building until the threat has passed.

At 5 pm this evening, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Poweshiek County. And that is how I came to be where I am right now, which is sitting in the red alcove seat on the second floor of the JRC where I have cell phone reception and a clear view of the sky out the window. I have WHO 13 and KCCI 8 and the Weather Channel open in my web browser. I have a baggie of crackers, a Diet Coke, and two books in my bag. I am in this for the long haul.

I always wonder if people from other parts of the country pay as much attention to weather as Midwesterners, or if I'm unusual even among Iowans in this respect. In any case, there's no way a storm will catch THIS Iowa girl unprepared. Most of the bad stuff has passed to the north or south, missing Grinnell and hitting Marshalltown or Kellogg instead. I guess this is probably a good thing, but let me tell you this: I am going to be SO mad if I go through all these trouble and we don't get at least a severe thunderstorm warning!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentime's!

Nothing epitomizes Valentine's Day like Rachel Dratch's crazy Russian hooker from 30 Rock.

I've theoretically made my peace with Valentine's Day. I don't really pay much attention to the "romantic" aspects of the holiday, and instead consider it a day to sit around and do what makes me feel good. Today I woke up hungover, but spent the day sitting around knitting and watching TV comedies and reading Anna Karenina. I got Chinese take-out (rather than slipping an egg roll into my purse at an all-night buffet) and ate some of the chocolate my mom sent me. It was generally a very good day.

But there's still that nagging little doubt. Valentine's Day really is just a huge Hallmark holiday designed to make people buy a bunch of useless shit for their heteronormative S.O. to "prove" that they love them. And single people are supposed to feel bad about themselves. I object to almost everything the holiday stands for and try not to fall into the trap of self pity over my singleness. But, to be honest, I kind of do. I feel bad. Well, not bad exactly, but pensive. Sure, I've had a grand old time sitting around all day being lazy by myself, but what if I was dating someone? Would that make me happier? Isn't that what I'm supposed to want?

To be honest, I don't know. I'm quite happy with how life is going for me right now. I love my job, I love my apartment, I finally have a steady income. I don't have a ton of close friends in town but I'm certainly not lonely. I'm not dating anyone and I wouldn't mind having someone to hang out and cuddle with on a semi-regular basis, but I'm not depressed that I don't. I got annoyed when I went to Harris with a bunch of seniors and they were all intent on "hooking up." Am I weird that, in the way Dane Cook so eloquently put it, I just want to put my shoes and purse in a pile and dance?

So that's my oh-so-disjointed train of thought. As much as I desire to be the free-wheeling comfortable-on-her-own feminist, Valentine's Day will always bring up that secret desire for a Floyd to send me pink roses and buy me that second humidifier I've always wanted. Thank goodness it's officially over, and in the morning I can kill my annual day of self-doubt with cheap candy. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It feels like my heart is trying to hug my brain!

Today, I am breaking up. With caffeine.

Caffeine and I have a history. During high school, we would get together occasionally. I would get a bottle of Diet Pepsi out of the vending machines at Central and drink it during the afternoon. It was fine.

Then, I hit college. My dabbling became a full-blown addiction. I don't remember exactly when I started drinking coffee, but by second year it was definitely a fixture of my life. Coffee was great! I could drink it and stay up late writing papers! And man, did I have papers to write! My junior year, I went abroad to Japan, and started what I call my "Coffee and Booze" diet, which predictably consisted of a lot of coffee breakfasts and whiskey dinners. And somehow, I survived that.

However, caffeine and I started to have a falling out during second semester of my senior year. The stress and caffeine started to get to me, and after one notable 48+ hour panic attack, my doctor told me to lighten up a bit on the coffee, and DEAR GOD stop drinking it after noon.

I've been mostly fine since then, until I moved back to Grinnell at the end of December. I went out drinking one night, had two rum and cokes and a long island iced tea, and was absolutely WIRED for the next 5 hours. Since then, I've been weaning myself off it in a half-hearted kind of way. I've been brewing my morning pot with half-decaf, half-regular so that I can feel like I'm actually doing something. But today, I made the mistake of drinking a cup of this concoction on an empty stomach, and now it is 6 pm and I am still jittery.

Caffeine is like Dennis from 30 Rock. It will sneak its way into your life and the only way to get rid of it is to see it on "To Catch a Predator" and realize that you've had enough.

So: caffeine, I've had enough. This is cold turkey, baby (mmmmm, cold turkey). It's going to be hard, and there will be pain in the form of caffeine headaches, but I will live a happier and less stressful life. If we encounter each other sometime in the future, as will inevitably happen, I will acknowledge you but turn away from temptation and live to see another day.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself now. You may find me in a couple days with my head down on my desk, listening to sad country music, having lost the will to go on.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Rosie is my dog. We got her when I was 10, and she was a wiggly little puppy. She was always so quiet and remarkably calm for a golden retriever. She likes leaning on people as they pet her, and coming up and putting her nose under your hand so you know she wants to be petted. When you come in the door, she makes happy growly sounds and brings you a "baby," usually her stuffed squirrel.

My mom just called and told me that she had bad news, and I immediately knew what it was. Rosie is getting old and sick, and they're going to put her to sleep this week. She has cancer, and is having trouble breathing. They're going to do it tomorrow or the next day. I'm so sad. She's my puppy, and she's not going to be there when I get home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Twilight: Emotional porn at its finest

Sorry I haven't written in a while. Between work and my obsessive knitting, I haven't had much of a chance to write. But tonight, I just had to get my thoughts out.

The "Twilight" movie is coming out this Friday, and I am beyond excited. I mean, this is a book I can only read alone and for about a half hour at a time, because it gets me too worked up and I have to get up and walk around for a bit. This is a book I have to stop myself from reading at strategic points because if I don't cut myself off, I know I'm going to be up all night. This is a book where I had to put it down to type out this post, because my hands were shaking... you get the idea.

So, established: I think this is a fantastic book, in a completely teenage-girl giggly way. I'm under no illusions that it's the greatest book ever written, but I'm really into it. And I just have to sit here and wonder: WHY? Why does this story have such power over me? How can it reduce me to an emotional puddle? Even though I know it's partially a long pro-abstinence screed, I ignore that because seriously, he's a vampire! If they ever decide to have sex, he could kill her in the heat of passion! DUH! I learned all this long ago from Buffy.

I think it all just comes down to the fact that I'm a hopeless romantic. I love Pride and Prejudice because deep down, I wish a Mr. Darcy (or an Elizabeth Bennet, for that matter) to stroll into my life so we could live happily ever after. In a world where my social awkwardness tends to foil any attempts to "flirt" with people before they begin, I kind of long for an idealized romantic idea of love at first sight.

Maybe I've been conditioned to connect to these stories because this is what "love" is supposed to be like. That you find someone and instantly fall into a passionate, life-changing affair. That compared to this, a normal relationship, with squabbles and silliness, just seems kind of boring. Not to mention the whole fact that you should not have sex, because your otherwise perfect vampire boyfriend will lose control and try to kill you. (Just like in Buffy!)

Or maybe, just maybe, it's just entertainment, and I'm just a raging mass of hormones who's a sucker for vampire fiction. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Passive aggressive laundry notes dot com

Today is laundry day. Since moving into my apartment, I love laundry day. The laundry room is big and there are always tons of open washers and it feels good to throw everything in and go upstairs to read Glamour and while away 30 minutes doing nothing in particular.

But when I went down to change my laundry (maybe 20 minutes late after I got distracted by a very nice Glamour article calling for the end of women making bitchy comments about each others' weight), I found a note on top of my washers that said "please don't be inconsiderate, pick up wash when done." Talk about passive aggressive.

Now, after 4 years of college I understand the need for prompt clothing pick-up, and I've always hated going to the laundry room and finding every washer occupied by someone else's finished laundry. This is maybe the latest I have ever been in going to unload the washer, as my time at Grinnell has taught me that if you leave your laundry in a washer for more than 2 seconds after it ends, you will find it sitting in a puddle of detergent on top of the washer.

But seriously, this person has no idea what I was doing or why I was late. I could have been cooking, or making an important phone call, or dead! I could be in a wheelchair and therefore having difficulty moving in and out of my apartment. For all they know, I could have misread the timer, or my watch, and made a perfectly honest mistake. They don't know my perfect history of laundry removal. Really, unless this person was hanging out in the laundry room for 20 minutes watching my washers in particular, they don't actually know how long my laundry was sitting there to begin with. I consider anywhere up to 10 minutes to be a perfectly reasonable buffer time (especially in a laundry room with many open washers), because people do lose track of time. And if you're writing a note because you've been watching someone's clothes sit there for ten minutes, a washer has probably opened up in the meantime and you're just an idiot anyway.

Not to mention that I'm pretty sure there were at least 2 washers open at any one time while I was not in that laundry room. There were at least 7 open when I got there, and maybe 10 or 12 when I left. If you have more than 2 washer loads of laundry, you can't be bitching at other people for taking up too many washers.

So, mysterious note-leaver, I defy your attempts to make me feel guilty for being late. If you can't handle the laundry habits of others, don't use a laundry room that is shared among several hundred people.

Bitch, you don't know my life!