Five Songs To Listen To If You Like Songs That Are Good

All are newish. All are good.

1: Sampha // Timmy’s Prayer

Sampha pulled a Sia and went from vocalist to soloist and the results are A++.

 

2: Arcade Fire // Everything now

I didn’t love Reflektor except for the stuff from the Her soundtrack, but this one is prettttty good.

 

3: Liv // Wings of Love

Liv is a hybrid of Lykki Li, Miike Snow, and Peter, Bjorn, and John. What?? I have Jason Bentley to thank for this one, and many others.  Thank you Jason for making my mornings so very eclectic! (And don’t mind the very uh, Georgia O’Keefe-ness of this album art.)

 

4: Frank Ocean // Chanel

So I didn’t love Blonde as much as Channel Orange. I know. Did I just not get it? Was I expecting way way way way way way way too much? It’s likely.

 

5: HAIM // Want You Back

When did this song come out and how did I not know until yesterday? I was so scared to listen because I was so afraid of them having a sophomore slump. BUT THEY DIDN’T. IT’S SO GOOD. NOT EVEN BEING IN T-SWIFT’S CLIQUE CAN MAKE ME DISLIKE THEM.

P.S. I’ve Lived In Orange County For A Year

livin that billabong life!

 

Recently a friend asked how close I lived to Marina Del Rey.

Me:         Uh, an hour. Without traffic.

               We moved to Orange County, did I not tell you?

Friend:     Wait what? When? 

Oh just…it was only…it was last July.

It’s been eleven months and I’m still not telling people. It’s like I’m dating someone who is super hot but dumb.

The idea behind the move was that it was maybe time to settle down a bit. That we were nearing our thirties (super old) and thinking about a family (all current joys will cease) and it was time to leave the hustle of L.A. for the beautiful, boring suburbia that lies beyond the Orange Curtain.

At first I said, it’s just temporary! And it was. But I really settled into that word — “temporary” — telling myself we would never live here long term. We were city people! We went to museums! I mean, sometimes. We sometimes went to the museums and ate the food and saw the movies that hit theaters a week earlier in our neighborhood than the rest of the nation. But whether we actually did those city things or not, we were cultured through osmosis.

After I found not one but two (!) possible OC jobs in offices on the beach, I gave up both for a gig in DTLA. And now I drive an hour both ways on the dusty 5 freeway behind behemoth semi-trucks to a warehouse off Alameda that I would not walk around alone at night. It’s a good job, and I like the work. But it was also the city fix I needed when temporary became permanent.

I tell myself I am still an Angeleno – I can access city life whenever I want, I have the same friends. And then I meet up with said friends after work and am livid at the traffic. I am enraged at the existence of a parking meter and I grimace at the questionable smells wafting up from sewers along the cracking streets. I go floating down to my ocean-side bubble and must resist admitting that what I feel is deep relief.

I don’t want this change to happen, this settling into some idea of suburban life. I am scared of it – of my dwindling tolerance for city grit, of the possibility that I may be getting boringer.

I don’t care to live in Surftown, U.S.A. I don’t need famous shopping malls. I am dead on the inside as evidenced by being immune to the “happiest place on earth.”

I don’t tell people I live here, and yet it’s becoming home.

I don’t know what that means.

 

More Time, Please.

Somewhere in my brain there exists a sticky note with thoughts I want to write on this blog. Or another blog, or anywhere really. It feels like they are festering in there, tapping my skull like HEY! LET US OUT! They are not ideas that will change the world or maybe even be read by anyone but me, but I still need to write them.

It feels like a bad thing, letting ideas die. And yet where does one find the time?

“Protect the time and space in which you write,” says Zadie Smith. “Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.”

I feel like I’ve spent the last three years fighting to make time to write. I’ve altered my career to support it. I’ve said no to family and friends. I’ve spent countless hours toiling inside my apartment while the beach lies 15 minutes away, all on ideas that have a good chance of never being read. I think if I quit everything and never slept, I would still want more time.

What torture, this thing we call writing. What absolutely life-wrecking joy.

Great Songs with Terrible Messages

It is difficult when you are raised and generally still believe that songs with bad messages are bad songs. What happens then, when said songs are so catchy that to hear them is to love them immediately and against your will?!?!

Here are five of my guiltiest pleasures.

#1: Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

“LET’S GO ALL! THE WAY TONIGHT!” I shout-sing in my car, with the windows down and the wind whipping my hair. Then I cringe — can my parents hear me? Can God? Surely this is not the message teenage girls should —  “NO REGRETS! JUST LOVE!”

 

#2: One Direction, Perfect

I was sure I’d outgrown my “Backstreet Babe” phase, but then one day I got curious and listened to a song, which turned into an entire album, which turned into a deep dive into all five singers’ auditions for Simon Cowell when they were 12 years old, which turned into more terrible shout-singing in the car.

I might never be your knight in shining armor
I might never be the one you take home to mother
And I might never be the one who brings you flowers
But I can be the one, be the one tonight

Is it any wonder we females have to unlearn the habit of loving terrible men? I mean, it’s not even subliminal, or attempting any subtlety — this message is OVERTLY TERRIBLE and my daughters can never know how much I loved it.

 

#3: Usher, I Don’t Mind

Plot summary: Usher’s girl is a stripper. And yet he has generously, magnanimously decided that since “her body rock and her booty poppin,'” he will give her permission to continue in this profession. He’s not one of those old-fashioned types — no, he’s open-minded, progressive in supporting her dream of twerking in the splits!

I despise this message, and yet ten seconds in find myself doing involuntary body rolls.

 

#4: Lady Gaga, Do What U Want

I know this album was a flop, but THIS SONG IS AWESOME. It has the best beat and is almost sort of somehow feminist — I think?

You can’t have my heart and
You won’t use my mind but
Do what you want with my body
You can’t stop my voice, cause
You don’t own my life but
Do what you want with my body

 

#5: Next, Too Close

What a delightful, beautiful classic that in the seventh grade I thought said, “Baby when you’re cryin’ I get so excited,” and was thoroughly confused. The maturation clinic said nothing about this “grinding.”

 

What are your favorite songs with terrible messages? Let’s feel guilty about liking them together.

Sad About The Internet: Barnes & Noble Edition

I think I was meant to be born before the internet. I feel this every two weeks when I remember that Snapchat exists and open it to find long-forgotten snaps, to which I dutifully reply although their jokes are so dead.

I felt it today when I tried to go to Barnes & Noble. I was out running errands and realized with delight that one of said errands would take me next door to the book store. I had cozy visions of wandering the shelves, the air buzzing with literacy and proof that people do get books published.

I wasn’t planning to buy anything, but I did need to check on a few things. See, I’ve been listening to audiobooks (hi, endless commute!) and though they are rescuing me from certain misery, they leave me just a teaspoon unsatisfied. I recently finished The Underground Railroad. It was so brutal and yet so poetically written, I felt I needed to see the words, as though somehow my ears’ attention wasn’t adequate respect to the author. Before that I listened to Hillbilly Elegy, which was fascinating but left me with a nagging question — how does the author spell his wife’s name? He pronounces it “oo-shuh.” Usja? OOSHA? I have googled to no avail. And suddenly, although she is among the most minor of characters, she is the only one I’m left thinking about. My eyes needed answers!

And so I walked out of errand #1 with much anticipation, approached Barnes & Noble to find a horrifying sight: closed doors with ugly white stickers spelling, “NEW RETAILER COMING SOON.”

I stood there for a solid minute, not wanting it to be true. Was there some sort of misunderstanding? Had they merely switched locations? It’s the year 2017 and I’ve had what, a decade to get used to book stores going under? It’s not like I haven’t seen You’ve Got Mail, but what happens when The Shop Around The Corner AND Fox Books go down?

Image brought to you after 20 minutes of reading You’ve Got Mail quotes. What a classic.

I felt genuine sadness. I wanted to hold Cora’s story in my hands and I NEED TO MAKE SENSE OF YOU, OOSHUH!

The worst part was knowing that I am complicit in Barnes & Noble’s demise; I had no intention of purchasing anything today — I already did so, through the internet. The internet made it possible for me to not only purchase both stories without having to leave the house but listen to them, while I drove. Without the internet I likely wouldn’t have had (read: made) time to read them. Without the internet I couldn’t be complaining to you now!

And yet the internet has taken away my cozy, neighborhood Barnes & Noble. It has filled, but not satisfied my yearning to read books. It has made life easier and yet so much less.

I pulled out my phone to snap a photo of the closed book shop to my Story (crying emoji, angry emoji, book emoji), but decided against it.

I hate you, I love you, dear Internet.

The Apartment Cost Your Landlord Won’t Mention

It isn’t the pointlessness of spending gobs of money on rent. No, it isn’t the fact that you may as well drive down PCH with a stack of $1’s and let them fly.

It isn’t the vertical blinds, with their endless clickety-clack — the way they come crashing to the floor if you touch them ever so gently, the way one decides to get stuck on another and the whole system refuses to twist.

It isn’t the silverfish, with their alien exoskeletons and their astounding speed, the way they vanish into dust when you squash them, the way sometimes you think you squashed them but you pull the paper towel away to find there is no trace whatsoever, and they are now running amok muahahaha in your closet.

It isn’t that your designated parking space is a whole five minutes’ walk from your door or that the air conditioner only cools a three-foot radius.

No, the most devastating hidden cost no landlord will tell you about is how often you will interact with stranger’s underpants.

That’s right — the actual, already-worn, underpants…of strangers.

I first discovered this last year when one fateful night Scott retrieved a load from our apartment’s shared laundry room. He dumped it on the bed, we began folding, and it was all very average everyday monotony until he pulled out a massive pair of white panties with purple polka dots. We eyed them in silent terror for a moment before I yelled, “those aren’t mine!” and he flung them into a corner, where I guess we both hoped they would vanish?

Maybe he had aimed for the trash and missed? I don’t know, I just really thought they were gone. But then a few months later we happened upon them again. There was squealing, and perhaps a minute or two of throwing them at each other, before one of us scooped them up on the end of a pen and transported them gingerly to the trash. For a week afterwards, every time I saw anyone walking around the complex I had no choice but to picture them in purple polka dotted panties.

For your visual reference.

Fast forward to last weekend, now in a nicer apartment still plagued by vertical blinds and silverfish and shared laundry. I was moving a load from washer to dryer, trying to gather each bundle carefully so nothing would fall on the ground. I was on my last bundle, when I heard an, “Excuse me — miss?” I froze and turned to face a middle aged Indian man pointing nervously towards a tiny pile at my feet. It was specifically the item’s tininess that made it so offensive; I almost wished it was big and white and polka dotted. We locked eyes for a horrible moment before I scooped it up, threw it in the dryer and scurried away.

The man lives in the apartment below us; we now share unpleasant hello’s while bringing up the groceries and I pray for his having a terrible memory.

There was a time during our apartment living when Scott and I would go on awe-filled walks with Zillow in hand. I can’t bear to do that anymore. Someday we’ll move away to some Utah/Texas/Colorado-ish place — we will leave the vertical blinds and silverfish and underpants behind, but for now…the beach?

New Electric Guest

Did you know that one half of Electric Guest is Asa Taccone, whose brother Jorma is one third of Lonely Island??

#fractions

 

 

THE WORLD IS ENDING — What Will You Wear?

This post is neither sponsored by nor affiliated with Madewell or The Fabulous Report. But check out both, I am sure they have great outfits.

Good morning, everyone!

So we understand the world is currently ending, and that can be a super stressful way to start the week.

But like, let’s think about how we could use this to our advantage! People are on their phones more than ever these days, searching for the latest hashtag that will tell them which tampons to boycott and what app is on the right side of history. How could we enter that conversation?

Thought starters for social posts:

America might be over, but our Spring collection is only just beginning.

Get yourself retweeted (wearing our brand new Protest Pant!)

When everything goes up in flames, make sure you look smokin’.

We totally get that you’re feeling anxious and losing sleep and like don’t even know what to do bc the world is a tragic mess rn but the thing is — the slip dress! You guys it’s so cute. It’s great for layering, whether you wear a graphic tee underneath or a slouchy sweater over it for that thrown-together, oh-so-effortless blogger look!

Gina, we know you asked about having fashion lover, wifey, and mama to two littles, @BombshellBecca wear our Spring line to the next protest, but she said, and I quote, “These pants don’t make my butt cheeks pop,” so we might have to move on from that. But it’s okay guys, this is where your creativity comes in! You’ve. Got. This.

Even though like you can barely string two sentences together because you have End of The World A.D.D. and you are texting friends about how you could do something that matters, and anytime you look at your phone there’s another horrifying news story, and every day you wake up it is not in fact a bad dream, and every joke you want to tell now feels petty — no — irresponsible, and how will you ever think about or write about anything else? And how, could you somehow fashion a time machine and maybe kidnap a few people for the sake of the greater good?

It’s a lot, but we know you’ll power through. Know why? Because we are women. And when we march for unity, only half of us are able to find some reason why it was actually a hugely controversial, terribly destructive, anti-feminine idea.

Now let’s sell some handbags!

 

 

 

The XX

Remember when The xx first got big?

I was a sophomore in college, living in a condo near BYU campus my aunt owned called Chandelle. It was not where the cool people lived.

I slept on the top bunk, somehow so much higher than the bottom one I had to borrow a ladder from my dad’s garage to get into bed.

We spent most our evenings across the street at what we called the “House of Nine Men.” Two of said nine were in a band, so we got free, front row shows whenever they rehearsed. It was either that or listen to them wide-eyed from the top bunk at 2 A.M.

I don’t think college is supposed to be the insecure phase of life, but for me those simple memories are rife with it.

The xx released a new album today. It’s good, and different, and I am glad we all got to move on from 2009.

 

 

10 Book Reviews, In 10 Words Or Less

I set out to rank all the books I read in 2016, but that was a bit like trying to pick my favorite Lemonade from Lemonade. (Have you attempted this? It’s impossible. I’m currently stuck in a terrible dilemma between Blood Orange and Cucumber Mint.)

Instead I bring you a mere ten reviews of some of my favorites. Do text me about them later. I have much more than ten words to say.

1. The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

 

So good I almost quit writing. Mandatory for all females.

“Finally, I asked how you got a boy to like you back. She said, ‘Just be yourself,’ as though I had any idea who that might be.”

“Robert and I can only talk during the intermissions in hurried exchanges: I learn that he’s a cartoonist, and I have to tell him that I work in advertising.”

 

2. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

First-generation Chinese immigrant paints the plight of Chinese women.

“Not many women got to live out the daydream of women—to have a room, even a section of a room, that only gets messed up when she messes it up herself.”

“The immigrants I know have loud voices, unmodulated to American tones even after years away from the village where they called their friendships out across the fields. I have not been able to stop my mother’s screams in public libraries or over telephones.” 

 

3. When Breath Becomes Air

Dying words from a brilliant mind. Have tissues ready.

“Only later would I realize that our trip had added a new dimension to my understanding of the fact that brains give rise to our ability to form relationships and make life meaningful. Sometimes, they break.”

 

4. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

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Hapless, self-absorbed Brit searches for meaning among vinyl.

“It’s easier to have parents if you’ve got a girlfriend.”

 

5. Open by Andre Agassi

Boy who hates tennis becomes Number 1 in the world.

“I think older people make this mistake all the time with younger people, treating them as finished products when in fact they’re in process. It’s like judging a match before it’s over, and I’ve come from behind tooo often, and had too many opponents come roaring back against me, to think that’s a good idea.

What people see now, for better or worse, is my first formation, my first incarnation. I didn’t alter my image, I discovered it. I didn’t change my mind. I opened it. J.P. helps me work through this idea, to explain it to myself. He says people have been fooled by my changing looks, my clothes and hair, into thinking that I know who I am. People see my self-exploration as self-expression. He says that, for a man with so many fleeting identities, it’s shocking, and symbolic, that my initials are A.K.A.”

 

6. Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

Charismatic he & conniving she share two sides of their marriage.

“Perhaps it was always there; perhaps it was made in explanation, but all along she had held within her a second story underneath the first, waging a terrible and silent battle with her certainty. She had to believe of herself that the better story was the true one, even if the worse was insistent.”

 

7. On Writing by Stephen King

Stephen King inspires you to write until you write Carrie.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

 

8. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

McSweeney orphaned at 23. Must raise 7-year-old brother.

“We are disadvantaged but young and virile. We walk the halls and the playground, and we are taller, we radiate. We are orphans. As orphans, we are celebrities. We are foreign exchange people, from a place where there are still orphans. Russia? Romania? Somewhere raw and exotic. We are the bright new stars born of a screaming black hole, the nascent suns burst from the darkness, from the grasping void of space that folds and swallows — a darkness that would devour anyone not as strong as we. We are oddities, sideshows, talk show subjects. We capture everyone’s imagination.”

 

9. Lit by Mary Karr

Mary Karr finds God; I lament not majoring in poetry. 

“In the end, no white light shines out from the wounds of Christ to bathe me in His glory. Faith is a choice like any other. If you’re picking a career or a husband — or deciding whether to have a baby — there are feelings and reasons pro and con out the wazoo. But thinking it through is — at the final hour — horse dookey. You can only try it out. Not choosing baptism would make me feel half-assed somehow, like a dilettante — scared to commit to praising a force I do feel is divine — a reluctance grown from pride or because the mysteries are too unfathomable.”

 

10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Timeless female coming-of-age. Must read every 5 years.

 “Buddy Willard was a hypocrite.

Of course, I didn’t know he was a hypocrite at first. I thought he was the most wonderful boy I’d ever seen. I’d adored him from a distance for five years before he even looked at me, and then there was a beautiful time when I still adored him and he started looking at me, and then just as he was looking at me more and more I discovered quite by accident what an awful hypocrite he was, and now he wanted me to marry him and I hated his guts.

The worst part of it was I couldn’t come straight out and tell him what I thought of him, because he caught TB before I could do that, and now I had to humor him along till he got well again and could take the unvarnished truth.”

 

What should I read in 2017? Share your favorites please.