Wednesday, November 24, 2010

28 and Thankful

I love Thanksgiving. There's no pressure for gift giving or managing too many schedules for church, visiting various families, etc, like what comes at Christmas. And sure, it's probably because I have a relatively small family and do the bare minimum cooking, myself. Ahem.

But regardless of the why, to me it means gathering with loved ones, eating, and watching football... Long nights staying up talking and watching movies, and catching up on rest. No one faults you for taking naps during Thanksgiving. Or taking three helpings of Grandma's dressing.

We used to spend Thanksgiving in New Orleans with my dad's parents, but after my grandmother died when I was in high school, we switched gears back to Alabama. But dad continues to travel over to go fishing  see his sister, and it's just us girls now. But I have fond memories of times spent in Louisiana. The menu was different there, for sure. I miss oyster dressing and gumbo, as well as all the botched batches of pralines you had to eat with a spoon.

This year marks my 29th Thanksgiving, having just celebrated my 28th birthday in October. And I have a lot to be thankful for. Trivial and not so trivial, here are 28 reasons why I'm thankful and looking forward to another 28 years (YIKES).

#4. Nat and Me enjoying our first
holidays together. Apparently
I wasn't always so thankful for her.
  1. The essentials. I've never had to worry about having a roof over my head or food in my belly.
  2. Family. They may be crazy and may even be the subject of many a therapy session, but they're mine. And they love me. And I love them too.
  3. Friends.  I'm incredibly blessed with great people around me. Friends can be family, and my family is awesome. I have two best friends who I think of as sisters. And recently I was feeling like a Facebook Friend Slut. My number was WAY too high. So I went through and did some trimming (friends' exes, folks who I would avoid if I saw them in public, etc). And while going through, I was reminded of all of the wonderful people in my life who influence me, mostly for the better. I'm thankful for those who have let me into their lives and their families' lives in such a real way. 
  4. Not being an only child. My sister is probably my favorite person on this Earth. Even when she's being a pain in the ass. I truly feel sorry for people who don't know what it's like to share that bond with someone.
  5. Have my (maternal) grandparents around for as long as I have. I know how lucky I am to still have my grandmother now and to have had my grandfather for nearly 28 years. I will always value that.
  6. Being from the South and having New Orleans roots. Love of boiled peanuts, sweet tea, and mashed potatoes. Saying "yes ma'am" and "no sir" to anyone over the age of 35. (This number gets higher and higher, however.) Family catfish fries. Counting cows at the pasture. All things resulting from growing up in Alabama.What is it even like to grow up with concrete all around you and Interstates at your doorstep? I can't imagine. Don't want to. Also, I'm thankful to have the New Orleans roots, which comes with it a love and appreciation for so many things that it deserves a post in itself.
  7. The Information Overload Explosion. A lot of people are annoyed by all the access and whatnot, but the librarian/information person in me is squealing on the inside every time I share a Google doc and edit/discuss in real time with another person. Seriously. I'm that big of a nerd.
  8. Not being lactose intolerant. I love cheese. And chocolate. And ice cream. I would be so sad without it.
  9. Having curly hair. I don't love my curly hair. Like everyone else, the grass is always greener. I wish it were less curly and more wavy, a little thicker. But I am thankful to be able to roll out of bed, wet my hair a bit and let it go. If I need to. Not that I do that often. No way.
  10. Being raised as a Christian. My faith isn't blind, but it certainly is strengthened by the fact that I was taught about Jesus from the get-go, but also encourage to explore the ideas on my own. Plus I absolutely understand more and more as I get older how difficult it must be to adopt the ideas about Jesus and religion if it is a completely foreign idea.
  11. Moving to Nashville. I fall more and more in love with this city all the time. 
  12. Being of above average intelligence. It would suck to be dumb. (So dumb. So dumb. So dumb. Soooooooo.)
  13. My sense of humor. I find amusement in anything. I laugh at commercials. America's Funniest Home Videos. It can be annoying to some, but hey - I'm always entertained.
  14. Music. It makes my life better and enriches my soul.I've said it a million times and I'll say it again... I'd rather be without an arm than without my hearing.
  15. Finding a professional passion/calling. I realize more and more that there are many people wandering around who have no clue what they want to do with their lives, professionally. Don't have passion for their work. I'm so thankful to have found the library world (and for all of my like-minded librarian friends who share it with me).
  16. My church. I haven't had a church I could call home in years. I'm so thankful to have found one in Cross Point. 
  17. Ryan Adams. His music has changed my life and gotten me through so many hard times, but also been in the background for so many great times as well. I am also very thankful for the friendships/kinship formed through the Ryan love. HH4L.
  18. My own office at work. I have my own office for the first time,and it's awesome. At the moment, I am utilizing my dual computer monitors... watching Glee on one monitor while writing on the other. (On my break, people.) But in all seriousness,  I feel special. And it's nice to feel special.
  19. Salt and Vinegar Almonds. Everything I eat isn't mashed carbs or made of dairy.
  20. Charlsie and Emma Dog. Even though they're sound-asleep in bed when I get home most nights, it's wonderful to have someone to come home to and chit-chat with in the mornings. Since she's leaving Nashville soon, I'm latching on as hard as I can. Even if E.D. has taken to growling at me recently. 
  21. Auburn Football and my Auburn Family. It's wonderful to be a part of something like the Auburn Family and to know that many of you will read this and immediately understand (and that many of you will read this and immediately barf, but that's ok too).
  22. Books and the works of so many writers who have not only entertained me, but made me think and changed me. I'm most thankful for Jerry Spinelli and JK Rawling, who inspired within me a love of children's and young adult literature, which led me to the career path I'm following today. Plus... it's just good stuff . 
  23. Wonderful Coworkers who make the days shorter and work more fun. It's wonderful to have meaningful relationships with the people with whom you spend 8 hours of most of your days. Plus it doesn't hurt that many of my coworkers are licensed therapists.
  24. Sanity and Therapy to maintain it, now that I mention it. I'm thankful to have discovered this outlet, and to possess the openness and humility to effectively communicate what's going on so that I can be better. And while it may seem silly to be thankful for sanity, I work in the mental health field and am exposed to diseases of the mind. It's a scary thing.
  25. Motivation to better myself. I know tons of people who don't have this, and it makes me sad for them. 
  26. My daily email buddies. I have a group of friends who I've communicated with either through G-chat or email, back and forth all day every day that we've been at computers... some for as long as we've been out of college. We're talking five and a half years of life documented via emails. We've basically developed our own language. There's some serious blackmail there and I pray to God no enemy of mine gets their hands on it.
  27. Pandora. Genius invention. I'm quite looking forward to my Christmas stations. 
  28. Last but certainly not least, I'm thankful for Hope. I have lots to look forward to. Cheers to the next 28 years!
Sidenote: When I asked my friend Brittany what I should be thankful for, this is her summation for me (copied and pasted from the email): Family, friends, your two computer screens, new guy, emma dog, tuuuhkey, me, your church, auburn football, beer, wine, almonds, job, people at your job that keep you sane, lionel Richie, facebook (for you, not me), books, puppies. 

She knows me well. And yes, I am very thankful for her. Perhaps you all would have rather I simply written that. 

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Go don't stop now GO

    You've probably heard (bits and pieces of) "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap on various commercials and whatnot. Diet Coke, the Eat Pray Love soundtrack/commercial... there was a car ad I think? Some of their other songs I'm now recognizing have been all over TV shows and whatnot. Here's the DC commercial:

    They're blowing up. And I was thinking either they had the best publicist/marketing agent in the industry, or they really were just great. Nat had given me their album Conditions about a year ago, but I've just now given it a listen. Really good stuff. Lead singer Dougy Mandagi (Dougy? How adorable.) has a lovely voice. Oh, and they're Aussies. The accent comes out every once in a while.

    So here are my two favorites off of the album at the moment. Let me know what you think:

    Love Lost
    (Very cool video too. My favorite parts are after 2:35.)

    Down River 
    Live performance featuring Mumford and Sons... (!!!!!!!!!)

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Awake My Soul - A Month of Music

    I've been spoiled over the past month with three shows that easily made their way into the Top 5 I've ever seen. All within weeks of another.

    The National at the Ryman Auditorium

    This was my maiden voyage to Nashville's most historic and well-known music venue. It's so much more than a music venue. This is the original home of the Opry, guys. The place where The Greats once played their songs for the first time.

    I was spoiled rotten with Row D seats for my first trip there. (Thanks to coaxing from my friend Colin to stand in line for the lottery at the venue instead of fighting it out for tickets online... I highly recommend and will do this as often as possible from now on.) 4th Row. I could touch them, if I wanted to. And since Matt Berninger actually jumped from the stage directly into our row, Annie actually did.

    So the show was nothing short of awesome. I wish I had better words for it. They played my favorites from High Violet and Boxer, and a few I recognized from previous records. Matt's voice was perfect. All grumbly and gruff. I wish I had him to sing me to sleep at night. And he kept us cracking up with his dancing about and joking all along with the band. Also the horns, live, really stood out.  Here's a video I took of "Slow Show," one of my favorites:

    For the final encore, the band took the stage and sang completely unplugged, paying tribute to the Ryman's natural acoustics and the musicians who played there for years before we made such steady use of mics and booming speakers. Here's a video, not taken by me. But taken from right behind me, as that's Colin's head in the foreground, and you can hear me cough at about 3:44.

    My Birthday and the Avett Brothers at the Ryman


    After spending my 28th birthday indulging in two cakes and Auburn Football, I began my 29th year again at the Ryman, where I saw the Avett Brothers, my second favorite North Carolina-born musicians. And anyone who has seen the Avetts will tell you they're even better live. The brothers' voices complement each other so well. And their entire band, with its stand-up bass, cello, fiddles, piano, and who knows what else, is incredibly talented. To say the Ryman was rocking is an understatement... there was so much pew-beating and foot-stomping that the building was literally rattling. Seeing as it was Halloween weekend, people were dressed up all over the place ... and they were excited. The band came out in full mummy costume, wrapped head to toe. I know they had to be burning up. Though they didn't play my favorites, and I  honeslty didn't know all of the tunes, I loved every minute of the show. And when Seth Avett came out and played "Murder in the City" for the first encore... I lost it. (See below.) They closed with "Kick Drum Heart," one of my favorites (though I'm somewhat in the minority among my friends for liking it) from their latest album. As you'll see, my seats weren't quite as great as before, but the sound wasn't affected. Here are a few videos I took:

    Seth Avett - Murder in the City

    Kick Drum Heart
    (I apologize for any nausea induced by viewing... I couldn't stop dancing...)

    Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise

    Mumford and Sons - November 1st at War Memorial Auditorium


    I was led to M&S this summer, at the insistence of a couple I waited on one evening. They were sitting there making their Bonnaroo packing list, and I got to talk to them about the Avetts, Yeasayer, and a few others I was hoping to see in the near future here in Nashville, and they said "Well have you heard of Mumford and Sons?" And no, no I hadn't. So I went home, looked them up (along with Sleigh Bells)... and I was/am hooked. Best tip I got all night! (zing!) Anyway. So if you're not familiar, get familiar. They're from the UK, and I can best describe them as punkabilly rock with Fleet Foxesque harmonies. Lovely songs on heartbreak, family, and there are hints of spiritual notes throughout. I was thrilled to see them at War Memorial in Nashville. A friend of mine from Birmingham stayed with me on his way to Bloomington, where he was going to see the Mumfords at a dive bar. And he wisely foretold that they wouldn't be playing dive bars for long. The guys blew up after Bonnaroo, and are now well on their way to becoming a household name...

    And go figure they were spot-on live. Beautiful vocals. Clear sound. And since they are a sole-album band at this point, they played everything off of debut Sigh No More and previewed a few new songs. So I was a singing fool. Here are a few videos I took:

    Awake My Soul (In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.)

    White Blank Page

    But there's more. Yes, more. What else can you say, you ask? How many more words can you find to substitute for your go-to "awesome?" Oh, there was a surprise encore? And Old Crow Medicine Show joined the Mumfords and openers on stage to play "Wagon Wheel?" And "Wagon Wheel" is one of your all-time favorite songs? Yeah, no big deal. It's casual.

    Best. Month. Of. Music. EVER.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    'Neath the Cover of October Skies...

    It's been a while, friends. And I'm sorry for the delay.

    But lemme tell ya... this month has been nothing short of magical. It's been reaffirmed several times over that moving to Nashville a little over a year ago was a good choice. (Not that I was ever really questioning it.) Tennessee's beauty truly shows itself off in the fall. Sure, the weather isn't perfect. It goes back and forth from warm to hot to chilly to can't-feel-your-toes... but the colors are magnificent. Yes, I said magnificent. Just gorgeous. And it awakes my soul. (If you get that reference, yes I'm definitely using a bit of foreshadowing there.)

    I love October. Always have. I live for those 31 days. My version of Heaven, I think, would be 365 days of October. When it's always a marvelous night for a moondance. Probably because it's my birthday month, but also because of the colors, the breeze, the memories of the Peanut Festival at home. And of course, Halloween, my favorite holiday.

    My mantra for the fall:

    Now November has set in, and while I'm very much looking forward to the holidays, I'm mourning October. Here's a glimpse into the weeks since I last posted: