Friday, December 30, 2011

Hellooooo 2012!

I like to reflect. And though I didn't need much encouragement, this article got me thinking about 2011. Really thinking about it. It's been a good one full of milestones, not without its heartbreak or difficulty, but for the first time in a long time, I feel very much like I'm moving forward and making positive progress at a rapid pace instead of stalling or treading water.

There are tops of "Top Whatever" lists floating around... I want to share with you a few perks of my year:

Top Moments of 2011 (In no particular order):

  • Epic Friend Moments. I got to be a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding, read a Bible passage in another, anticipate the birth of a baby, and then keep the secret of friend's pregnancy until she was ready to tell everyone. I planned showers, drove hundreds of miles, spent tons of money, and got to see all of my best friends in one place more than I ever do in one year, which made it all worthwhile.
  • When I thought there was no more room in my heart for more music, I fell hopelessly in love with the Avett Brothers and Bright Eyes.
  • When I really thought nothing was ever going to come my way and make life a little easier, I had my faith renewed in the form of a new job. I also conquered some major career goals in my former job.
  • The day that I sat in a friend's car and got to hear the rough copy of his record, which was a huge personal accomplishment for him.
  • This was a huge year for forgiveness and reconciliation. For a number of folks, as well as me personally.
  • I got to see some really epic live shows and knock a whole bunch of concerts off of my bucket list: GNR, Bush, The Avetts at Turner Field. Fleet Foxes. Bright Eyes three times!
  • Getting LASIK surgery and now having better-than-perfect vision. And realizing later that it was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made. (For someone who often experiences buyer's remorse, that's a big one.)
  • I overcame a huge fear of living alone and actually learned to relish it.
  • I had the great honor of being asked by my friends Raleigh and Christen to write as a guest blogger on The Uncontainable Truth. 
  • After having my heart broken by Ryan Adams's announcement in 2009 that he was retiring from music, he announced earlier this year that he was releasing a new record and TOURING! (January 30th in Louisville can't come soon enough!)
  • I got to participate in some truly epic musical moments, meet new friends, and enjoy the best parts of living in Nashville on Laurel's front porch.
  • I think I finally... finally... made some strides in the whole "letting go of plans" (Let Go and Let God)  thing. I think. 
  • Trying my buddy Nick's Hot Chicken for the first time, and actually crying (from the heat or joy, I'll never know) while eating. Then being proud of him when his recipe won the Hot Chicken Festival contest a few weeks later!
  • Sara Beth moving to Nashville and getting to experience this city I love so much through a fresh pair of eyes. 
  • The East Nashville Tomato Festival... always a favorite thing to do during the summer, and this year did not disappoint. 
  • Traveling to Raleigh/Cary/Chapel Hill to spend a weekend with two of my favorite people I rarely get to see at the same time.
  • WRASSLIN'. About a month ago, I discovered through my friend Nick (same as above) the indescribable perfection that is amateur wrestling in Nashville and probably had the most unique and outright most fun experience since I've lived in this city. Let me tell ya - you learn things about yourself when you enter the Stadium Inn on Interstate Drive and stare a man named Bocephus in the face. You become forever changed when you look back at the night before and recall a raffle to spank wrestlers with chains, sneaking in minis to mix stadium-style in a bathroom stall, dodging a turkey leg thrown by from a lady wrestler in the ring, high fiving JT (your favorite wrestler) as you meet on the street walking back and forth between the hotel and the German restaurant/bar across the street, and vaguely remember at one point standing on a chair yelling profanities you didn't know could come out of your mouth. 


Some of the best things I encountered in the entertainment world and blew up Facebook and Twitter talking about:
Parks and Rec
Community
The Head and the Heart
Friday Night Lights
50/50
American Horror Story
The Muppets
Ashes and Fire
Mindy Kaling
One Day
Favorite new blogs: Jon Acuff, Tyler Stanton, Tripp Cosby, and Kevin Kiegley

My Bucket List for 2012, plus some things I'm excited about:

  • The Blue Like Jazz movie will be released in April!
  • Ryan Adams on tour! I also hope to catch The Head and the Heart and the Avetts again. 
  • My friends Andrew and Blount's new musical project, Great Peacock. Give their song "Desert Lark" a listen. It's just gorgeous. 
  • Beach trips - Southwest is going to be getting a lot of my money this year.
  • Trips to New Orleans - I'm a groomsman in a friend's wedding this June (more on that later), and I anticipate many trips South and lots of time spent with family there as well.
  • Chicago - Never been. I want to go. I'd also love to go to New York and Charlotte this year as well. Lofty goals, I know. 
  • Read more, watch TV less. 
  • Officially join my church. 
  • Write.... something. I have several projects in the works. And by "in the works," I mainly mean "in my head and have said them out loud to someone else." I do have an outline going for one, though. 
  • Lose weight - get healthy. For real. Seeing my grandmother and father go through the Hell of having Type 2 diabetes has scared me into submission. Goodbye, carbs, sugar, and Diet Coke!
  • Get a tattoo. I'm going to do it this year, dammit. 
  • Get rid of stuff and live more simply. 
  • Do more cooking and experimenting with recipes and less ordering takeout. Even though Chipotle now has brown rice.
  • Convince family to forego gifts and do a "pay it forward" Christmas.
  • Not buy any more clothes or books without throwing out/donating something I rarely use. 
  • Maybe learn to enjoy running? Nah. Not gonna happen. 
  • Improve my tennis skills. 
  • Spend less time on my couch and more time out and about in the world (while also not spending more money).
  • Be a better friend/daughter/sister/worker. 
  • Quit wasting my mornings hitting the snooze button. 
  • Get a dog! That's a big one. I need a pup to call my own.
  • Save money. I want to either buy a house or hit up Europe. Something big since...
THIS IS THE YEAR I TURN 30!


welp.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bucket Lists

In the past few years, I've knocked some things off of my concert bucket lists that I didn't even realize were possible (since the bands weren't active):
  1. Fleetwood Mac
  2. Bush
  3. GUNS 'N ROSES
A while ago, GNR announced a US tour, with Nashville on it. And luckily, I had the smart sense to ask my sister (who has the hookup) to snag me a pair of free tickets. You see - I didn't think it'd be worth paying for. Axl has been making a crazy name for himself lately... no Slash. And who really wants to hear Chinese Democracy? But boyyyy was I wrong. I would have paid much more than the minimum price for that show. Axl was in top form, playing all the fan favorites, including a few personal favorites like "Patience," "Estranged," and "Civil War." In the three-hour (yes, that's THREE HOURS OF GNR), they rattled off a few from the "new" album, played some Who and Pink Floyd covers, changed outfits at least 6 times (Axl changing only his headpiece - from Kid-Rock-like cowboy hat to signature bandana to sparkly something and jacket over tshirt and jeans), and just rocked out like it was 1987.

Picture from the show via tumblr. This should answer any "did he have cornrows?" questions. 

No lies (see what I did there?) -- experiencing "November Rain" live is up there with getting to see Elton play "Tiny Dancer" a few year's back. The show ended with this explosive version of "Paradise City" complete with Mardi Gras-like confetti canons, purple lights, and fireworks. Regardless, the show was not without its quirks (detailed well here by Spin), and I didn't get home until 2:30 on a Sunday night/Monday morning... but it was well worth it.

Here are a few videos, not taken by me, from the show:

Patience


Civil War


Sweet Child O' Mine


Don't Cry
Sadly he cut short the drawn-out wailing end that I've perfected for karaoke purposes.


November Rain
I love the moment when the crowd realizes what's about to happen...


Paradise City
I'm pretty sure this was taken by the folks sitting next to us. Check out that grand finale.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's that time of year...

So who's sick of Christmas music by now? Not me!

Head on over to The Uncontainable Truth, where I list my favorites.

Here's a preview:




Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou is one of my idols. While she's a beautiful and talented musician in her own right, the woman has a dedicated space in my heart for the songs/albums on which she has offered her timeless voice as a collaborator.


There are so many things I can say about her, but I'll let her voice and the songs do the talking. These are some of my all-time favorite songs, which you've heard me go on about before, but take a listen and pay attention to the angel in the background.

Ryan Adams "Oh My Sweet Carolina"
She plays on the original recording found on Heartbreaker, but perhaps you'll enjoy this recent recording:

Gram Parsons "Return of the Grievous Angel" : 


Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst) "Landlocked Blues" : 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPaCFYqtvM8



and "We are Nowhere, but it's Now":


Dave Matthews - cover of Johnny Cash's "Long Black Veil"
May seem random, but this is nostalgia for me. Back in high school, this was the first time I remember hearing Emmylou... from the 1999 Johnny Cash tribute show



Don't even get me started on The Trio. Dolly, Emmylou, and Linda:

Pulling a Lauren

My friends have coined a new phrase:

"Pulling a Lauren."

I'll attempt to define it: One "pulls a Lauren" when he or she does one of the following things, or something similar:
  1. speaks before thinking and proverbially sticks an entire foot, or perhaps both feet, in mouth
  2. embarrasses his or herself in public or in front of, say, an attractive member of the opposite sex or celebrity
  3. make inappropriate comments, or make comments to inappropriate people or at an inappropriate time
  4. in other words, do something just plain-out awkward with no good reason
There are many examples, but I'll give you the most recent. It involves me, bacon, cream puffs, and Keith Urban.
No big deal.
This is the story of why I am boycotted from brunch until further notice. 

So my sister, our BFF Bobby, and I were having a casual brunch the other day at Copper Kettle. I say "casual," but it's pseudo-fancy. I was, of course, underdressed and drowsy (it was a rainy Sunday). In other words, not up to par for a celebrity meeting. 

Let me tell you about the Copper Kettle brunch... it's a buffet. A fancy buffet. You pay about $17/plate and have your pickings of an endless supply of delicacies like homemade puff pastries, lox, breakfast casserole, cheeses and fruits -- this ain't no Shoney's. As you can imagine, like any good fatty food-lover, I enjoy a buffet. I take my time with it. You have to scope it out, make sure you don't fill your plate with too much of an eh offering if the big whammy (that you'll want at least a quarter of your plate devoted to) is at the end. Bacon and eggs, I can get at home, but a baked brie stuffed with fruit and jelly? Yes, please. So naturally, I'm a bit annoying to be behind at a buffet. Not inconsiderate, but just slow. And you can imagine that on a drowsy Sunday, I was the worst

So I'm going through the line, not a thought in my mind except for my portions and plate placement, and I get back to the table where Bobby and Natalie are already eating. And they say to me "Did you not see who was behind you?" She was (understandably) whispering, and I didn't hear her well, so of course I immediately turn around and say, loudly, "BEHIND me?"... right to Keith Urban's face. Strike One. He joins Nikki and their toddler Sunday at the table, and for the next 30 minutes or so, everyone in the restaurant avoids making eye contact and tries their best to pretend like it's no big deal that we're sharing a buffet with two of the biggest celebrities in town. [My friends and I have a point system for celeb sightings, scaled by fame and exclusivity, and they're pretty high up there on the fame scale... Bobby is winning, but that's only because he works at a very fancy restaurant and has waited on both Dolly Parton and Ke$ha, who top the exclusivity scale.]

We sit and eat, and the Kidmans/Urbans sat and ate quietly directly across from us. Didn't they know that they were making us uncomfortable? Inconsiderate people. The restaurant offers these little mini Belgium waffles, so I ordered one. Halfway through it, I decided it'd be better off eaten by hand (I eat mine dry, and they are teeny little things, I swear!), but once Sister and Bobby noticed, I was immediately chastised, the waffle swatted from my hand, and lectured on the propriety of what/how you do/do not eat in front of Nicole Kidman, who sat there oh-so-stoically and didn't seem to eat a thing, let alone a waffle. Strike Two.

Actual example of the Copper Kettle brunch pastries
In a move that would seal my fate to never be welcomed at brunch again, I offered to take one for the team and get seconds for the entire table. Bacon and cream puffs were on order, and so I went. I stand there at the basket of miniature cream puffs, which are slightly stuck together, and I carefully count out the predetermined amount and put them on half of my plate. It's a lengthy process and halfway through, I realize that once again Keith Urban is standing directly beside me, waiting on me so he can proceed. You can't really jump the line unnoticed when you're Keith Urban. So what do I do? I look up, giggle, and say "Don't judge me. They're delicious." Yeah. Not my best work.

In my defense, this is something I'd likely say to anyone in an awkward moment... it's kind of my M.O. Don't celebrities just want to be treated like anyone else? He was not amused, however, and had no reaction. No smile or acknowledgement, but just started whistling some tune. Probably a lame one. I think it was quite rude of him, in retrospect. Regardless, what did I do next? What I do best: filled my plate with bacon and nervously hauled ass back to the table, where Natalie and Bobby greeted me with "WHAT DID YOU JUST DO????" Apparently, instead of the hustle I thought I accomplished in getting back to the table, it looked like I was literally running away from Keith Urban. Great. Strike Three

Such is life, and now I'm out. No more fancy brunches for me. I BLAME KEITH. 

Surprises

If you follow this blog at all, you are probably aware of how sporadic my posting is, and especially lately. And for that, I apologize. But I want to share something with you today in hopes you will understand and perhaps even smile along with me.

For the past few years, I have struggled with a lot of things in life, but mostly with having patience with God's timing. I've never been one to fully embrace the idea that there's no point in making plans, that things tend to pan out eventually as they are meant to, and that you can seriously be set free from a life of worry and such by just letting go. None of those things fit into my plans, you see.

But it's funny how things work out. How with a little bit of hindsight, all of the things you see as mishaps show themselves to be integral in getting you to something big. How getting laid off can be the best thing to happen to your career and well-being.  How getting your heart broken can actually make you whole. You get the idea.

I'll spare you all the details, but I'll just tell you that for the past few years, I've been struggling while I've been waiting. Waiting on something, anything, that seemed to fit everything together. And about a month ago, I got an answer. Now I know that this doesn't make everything rosy, that all of a sudden life will change and heartache/struggle will no longer plague me. But it's big.

I got a job working for The Man. As in, the Big Man. Friends, I'm going into ministry.

.....

Gotcha!

But I AM working for a major global church, which is headquartered here in Nashville. (I don't want any of my views, opinions, misgivings, or embarrassments associated with my employer, so I'll leave WHICH church off... but if you know me, know that it's the church of which I have been a member since I was 16 or so up until my move to Nashville and joining Cross Point.) Oddly enough, my oftentimes odd career path (journalism/IT/design/library) gave me the ideal background to fill in exactly where I'm needed... and I'm doing some really important background work for the church alongside truly fantastic people. It's exciting and challenging... Good for the mind, body, and soul. With this comes answers to many prayers. Many are more personal than I care to share, but what directly affects me is gift of time, as I will no longer HAVE to work a second job and enjoy a shorter and more flexible work week. And with that being said, look for me to fill that time writing and working on personal goals, and sharing some of that with you. And I plan to FINALLY get a pup to call my own.

I very much hope that if anything, you can read this and be inspired and know that anything is possible. I sure didn't see this coming, and I'm in awe of how everything fell in to place as if (can you believe it?) someone else is in charge and orchestrating all the elements around me. So if you're stuck in a frustrating situation, and your life really doesn't look like what you thought it would - I urge you to hold out and see what happens, because it may that something is just around the corner, and that that something is even better than you could have ever planned.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

"Winter Song" for you. (As a commenter on YouTube said, some Undie Folk Rock.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, Schmanksgiving

Just kidding. I love Thanksgiving. Food, family, sleep, and the beauty that comes with not caring a bit about Black Friday shopping and laughing at those who do.

But you know what else I love about Thanksgiving? The traditional sitcom Thanksgiving episode. Here are some of my personal favorites:

ALL the Friends moments:

(Forgive the cheesy video, but it's the only one I could find that would allow embedding.)

Slapsgiving (HIMYM)


New Girl



And another favorite... TURKEY!




Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Does Anyone Remember Tony?

I first heard the song "Tony" when I was a cheerleader in high school, on the bus on the way out of town for a game. Did anyone outside of Alabama listen to the Live at the X Lounge albums back in the 90s? Friends of mine in Birmingham would pass the CDs down to us (they were recorded in the lounge of the Bham Rock Station WRAX, which is no longer on the air). You can read up on it here, including track lists, and you'll see how I was introduced to many artists way before they made it big (and even some who recorded during the height of their fame). I swear that this version of Sister Hazel's "All for You" provided most of the soundtrack to my high school years. Listen to it here.

Anyway, among the tracks, this one from Patty Griffin was always a favorite. She's said in concerts she wrote it about a kid she went to high school. And it's a bit more fitting now with all the attention paid to the "It Gets Better" campaign and anti-bullying. I love the line "I hated every day of high school/It's funny I guess that you did too/Funny how I never knew, but there I was sittin' right behind you."

Give it a listen. 



And then head on over to The Uncontainable Truth, where I talk more about my favorite Patty songs and gratitude.

Announcing a New Addition to the (Nashville) Family

No, no, I won't be filling your newsfeed with pictures of an expanding baby bump, but I do have an addition to my Nashville family in the form of a new roommate! Below is SB making her Nashville karaoke debut. I'm beyond excited to have her here and can't wait to chronicle our adventures!



I am, however, thinking I need a pet. And lately I've spent some time with the following animals, who are heavily shaping this choice. First, Moose:
This is my friend Jessa and her rescued smush-face Moose (renamed after she got him because, well, Stiffler just is no name for a cat this fancy). And let me tell ya - I don't like cats. Mainly because we never had them growing up, and I don't know how to interact with them. They don't like being petted like dogs, aren't interested in playing all that much... no fetch? I know. They don't like me either. But this cat? This cat I LOVE. I spent the majority of a weekend with Jessa (who I see roughly once a year) laughing at this cat and attempting to win his affections. So on the days that I remember I don't have a whole lot of time for taking care of a dog, I convince myself I'll get a cat... but only a smush-face like Moose. Just LOOK at that face. Reminds me of Winston, my original famous smush-face. 

This is Jackson:

Jackson belongs to my friends Heather and Bobby, who also happen to be my sister's roommates. Jackson is awesome. Just seriously the best dog ever. He's a lab/Jack Russel mix (yeah, weird, I know), and he fetches, plays, sits, AND cuddles. Like, if I'm on the couch, he'll sit next to me and lay his head right on my chest and snooze. I want to steal him, but he loves his mom and dad too much. Bobby assures me that in his puppyhood, he had some faults... namely eating couch cushions and basically tearing apart the apartment when left alone... but now at 4 or so, he's perfect. 

So basically - I'm doomed since I've been spoiled rotten by perfect pets around me. I'm thinking I'll adopt a pup that is about a year old or so and skip the puppy phase. I love something so ugly it's cute... like a Frenchie or Boston Terrier. Anyone have any other suggestions or advice about getting a new dog? Any horror stories?

Somebody That I Used to Know

Can't get this song out of my head, and I LOVE the video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wess Floyd's Foxhole Confessions



See that dude in the picture up there? Let me tell you a little story about him that he probably doesn't even remember being a part of. Way back in 1997, I was a little bitty freshman in high school. Scared to death at five feet tall and 14 years old, I waded my way through a sea of upperclassman who all looked to be at least 25 years old, ridiculously tall, way mature, and definitely too cool to talk to me. Nothing fully prepares you for that first day of high school. So anyway, there I stood, taking it all in, feeling very lost, and this giant 7-foot-tall beanpole of a boy walked up to me and used the top of my head as an armrest. Just stood there talking and talking with his elbow on top of my head, making bad jokes and full of first-day-senior power. Thankfully, I knew him. We had grown up attending the same church, and his dad was the local pharmacist in my grandparents' small town... but I didn't know him know him. At that point. But after all the goodhearted jokes and poking fun, Wess Floyd took me in, steered me to class, introduced me to a few folks, and was a saving grace to me on an otherwise traumatic day. Those are the kindnesses you never forget. And that boy had a place in my heart from that day on.

Fast forward to the present, and I'm proud to consider Wess Floyd the man as a good friend. And today he is releasing a record that has been three years in the making, and folks - it's good. This isn't his first release (nor will it be his last), and from his beginnings as a musician, Wess has written and played with more heart and talent than I see most days here in Nashville from the beginning... but this is the record that matters. This one is special. Foxhole Confessions is Wess's tribute to growing up, to life. To moving on and settling down. To the things we love, the places, and the people who mean something to us. To past hurts, betrayals by friends and exes, and, to the eventual peace that comes with forgiveness. To learning from mistakes and regret instead of wallowing in them. To how along the way, at some point, we get comfortable with ourselves, we mature, and at the end of the day, we just want to be with surrounded by the people and places we love and offer something honest and good to them. To embracing the past. To the fact that "...somewhere in the pain and the mystery, there’s a reason and the rest is just history..." (from "The Streets.")

My favorite thing about Wess is his passion for the things/people he loves and his refusal to apologize for it. Maybe it is because I share that with him, the inability to filter over-excitement and sometimes cheesiness. That's why people like us get our hearts broken a little more easily, place too much hope in things and people sometimes, and struggle a little harder with admitting our mistakes and accepting things that don't go our way. I get it, but unfortunately I don't have the talents to write songs or music and have a great record to show for it. Thankfully, Wess does, and I'm willing to bet his songs will speak to many of you as well. 

Don't, however, pigeonhole this as an album that can only be put on and pondered, reflected upon. It's soulful and at times very deep, but it's also joyful and fun with songs of revelry, even beginning with the crowd-favorite "Record Player."  Each track was written purposefully and recorded just as so, with some written as recently as last year and others re-recorded and tweaked from records past. "The meanings of the tunes have changed. I'm not the same person I was when I wrote those, ya know?" Wess said to me just the other day. From rockabilly to what Wess calls "punk rock gospel," Americana and alt-country - the album covers it all, and from his years in the Nashville music scene, Wess counted on the help from friends to complete the tracks with expert musicianship and production. From beginning to end, it's a solid piece of three years well spent.

I love this record, and if you're near Nashville or Birmingham, you'll have the opportunity to hear it live this week. But definitely check out his Facebook page, website, and buy his CD here!

CD Release Shows:
Nashville - Thursday, November 3rd at The Basement. 8pm with openers The Lowry Sisters, John Paul Keith and the 1, 4, 5's.
Birmingham - Saturday, November 5th at The Nick. 9pm with openers from13 Ghosts (Birmingham) and the Pollies (Muscle Shoals)


Here are a few of my favorite tracks:


"Cause I can't dance... but joy I can Shout.."





Chemicals Between Us

So did I mention that I spent the first few hours of my birthday with these guys?


In case you don't recognize them, this is the newly reformed Bush, as in British rocker Gavin Rossdale who recorded Sixteen Stone in the 90s. The guy who married and made beautiful babies with Gwen Stefani.  As in, the guy/band that I would have had pictures of taped to the inside of my closet as a teen if my parents had let me. As in, the first man to inspire my fangirl tendencies and the first band that seriously influenced my musical tastes for a long time. Yeah, that Bush. They played a Halloween Block Party downtown (as headliners, they didn't go on until 1am or so). They put on one hell of a show, playing all the fan favorites like "Everything Zen," "Machinehead," "Little Things," "Chemicals Between Us," and such, but also some new stuff from their newly released album The Sea of Memories, which I'm listening to and not hating.

I'll post a few videos below from the evening below, so you can get an idea. But I know you're all wondering, and yes, Gavin is just as, if not more so, gorgeous and charismatic and talented in his 40s as he was in 1994 when Rolling Stone released this issue, and my little teenage heart melted:
April 1996
But this is not a creepy fangirl thing. I legitimately loved their albums, and I never thought I'd have the opportunity to see them perform. And on another note, Gavin and I just so happen to share a birthday, so to my inner teen: You're Welcome. I did us proud. It's not as creepy now that I'm 29 and he's 46, right? Right.

Don't judge me. 

From the show:

Their new single, "The Sound of Winter":

Monday, October 31, 2011

29 and Grateful

A year ago at Thanksgiving, I wrote a post detailing 28 things I am thankful for (28 after having just celebrated my 28th birthday). Yesterday, I turned 29, and I'm finding myself thinking about gratitude and blessings much more earlier than the holidays this year.

Last Sunday at church, my pastor spoke about giving thanks and how much a grateful attitude can change your overall health and mind when compared with one of pessimism. (The overall series is about maintaining hope amid all of the crazy things we see going on in our world every day.) And he charged us to write down three things we are thankful for each day. You can check out my daily rambles on my Twitter account (and you can follow along with the #betterdayschallenge as well), but here are a few things of note:
  • Heated air and water
  • The ability to fall asleep whenever/wherever (sometimes a problem, but mostly a blessing)
  • My roommate and sister and their built-in companionship and laughter outlet
  • A good job and coworkers I like
  • A family that has never made me feel lacking in love, support, or safety
  • Living in a town in which I can see a free show every night if I want to
  • Ear Plugs
  • Fantastic Friends
It is so easy to take the simple things for granted and get caught up wishing for more and ungrateful because, perhaps, life isn't following your path. That was yesterday's message at church: worry. And the most poignant thing that struck me was when Pete emphasized Jeremiah 29:11, a verse he says we misuse and sometimes manipulate to bring us comfort: "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." We often replace the "I" with "you," but like Pete said yesterday, it isn't "I know the plan YOU have for you..." and he challenged us to continue searching our hearts for gratitude and listing them daily.

So I've been doing this, and guess what - I'm feeling pretty good these days. And this is coming from someone who just turned 29 and am realizing that there isn't a part of my life that has turned out as I'd planned. A friend of mine just posted the following on facebook, and I had to steal it: "Looking for a cure for your depression? Try Appreciation. It's free and works great! Warning! Side effects may include: happiness and contentment. Do not use Appreciation if you enjoy being miserable." So you see - it's not just me. Join me in being grateful, won't you?

-------
And on a side note, if my plans had all worked out the way I'd wanted them to, I wouldn't have this:

You see, with the exception of my sister, who doesn't have much choice in the matter, I probably wouldn't know these people in the picture, who gathered with me yesterday for a birthday picnic. I never anticipated the relationships that have been formed later in life and made such an impact on me. That I would meet these wonderful people after moving to Nashville who would change me and make me better. Nor did I expect for my sister to become my best friend. I love that doggie, too, but more on that later. So suffice it to say, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't be a Hallowiener...

Check out my fave Halloween books, movies, and the like here on my last post at the Uncontainable Truth.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

...where theyr'e gonna bury me (oh lord)

Tennessee's a brother
to my sister Carolina

I took those a week apart in Cary, NC, and Ashland City, TN.




If you don't know the reference, you should.

("Let It Ride" by Ryan Adams.)

Swedish Sisters, A Parks Dept., Zombies, and Ghosts of Frat Dudes

Four things have kept me entertained lately that I highly suggest you check out if you aren't familiar:

First Aid Kit
I hadn't heard of this band until I saw them open for Bright Eyes in Birmingham, and I swear they spoke straight to my soul that night with their finely tuned harmonies and talk of lions. Sisters Johanna and Klara have one album out, The Big Black and Blue, and will release The Lion's Roar in January 2012. I liken them to a female version of the Fleet Foxes, but with a bit more thoughtful subject matter. (Fitting, seeing as their cover of "Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song" is what got them on the musical grid in the first place.) Here are a few samples:




I'll admit I'm still processing the actual content here... is she saying there's no Heaven at all? Or just focusing on living now? But it's pretty regardless, yes?


Parks and Recreation
I have no idea why I hesitated watching this show, which is now in its 4th season. It's hilarious and the characters are nothing short of endearing. I want them to be my best friends and bosses.
I want to work there. 

Treat Yo'Self! My new face of delight. 
Ron Swanson - My hero


The Walking Dead
Per my usual, I was a little late signing on for this one. I've never been a huge zombie fan... I don't really like violence and gore, but I do like a good story and though I don't understand the intricacies of how any of it works, I try my best to gauge good vs. bad cinematography. And with that being said, this show has a lot of heart. And a lot of blood and gore. But mostly - it's visually impressive, and I've been impressed with the actual plot. Plus, it's set in and around Atlanta, and the scenes of abandoned streets and buildings I easily recognize is nothing short of impressive and eery. Don't overlook it just because zombie's aren't your thing.

The Worthy by Will Clarke

I'm in the middle of this right now, and I can barely put it down. Set in Baton Rouge at LSU's (fictional) Gamma Chi frat house, The Worthy is narrated by Conrad Avery Sutton III, a formerly wealthy (read: pretentious frat dude) who tells us right off that he's dead and murdered by his psychotic pledge trainer Ryan Hutchins. Ryan's the worst. He is abusive to friends and his girlfriend (who he also cheats on regularly), and is just bleeding douchebaggery. So Conrad finds himself stuck in spirit-form on Earth, and more specifically gravitating around the frat house where he met his demise, and is currently searching for a way to be a more effective ghost (he hasn't mastered the art of haunting or possessing, but is diligent in his quest). The one person who can see/hear/talk to him is Etta, the house's cook, and she hints that he has a mission on Earth before he can move on. I've been highly entertained by all of the frat boy chatter (a bit overdone at times, but it brings me back and makes me a bit nostalgic for some of my time spent around the Greek circuit in college), and I've come to care about Conrad and want him to find his mission and get out of his misery of ghostdom. All in all, it's mostly entertaining, and I'm a bit disappointed it isn't more creepy.. but I definitely recommend it, especially if you went to an SEC school and can relate to episodes of talegating, frat parties, and have known a few douchebag frat dudes in your past*.

*Not saying all frat boys are such, just that if a dude is already an idiot and then he joins a fraternity and finds a clan of other idiots, it accelerates the level of douche infinitely.

ENJOY!

It's Fall, yall

Pumpkins at the Nashville Farmer's Market


October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand.
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~ George Cooper


It seems that each year, I neglect my blog a bit when the season hits. I thrive in the fall and find myself out and about, soaking up the breeze. And I smile and sigh and get all cheesy about things like leaves and pumpkins and ghost stories. So needless to say... I've been busy. So for now, a sneak preview of many detailed posts to come:








Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blue Like Jazz

Check out my latest post on the Uncontainable Truth, in which I talk even more about Donald Miller and Blue Like Jazz!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't You Cry Tonight

Use Your Illusion I and II were released 20 years ago  tomorrow. Let's take a moment to honor GNR, a band I count among of my first musical loves. Axl may have caught a case of the crazies in recent years, but in the 90s, he was just enough crazy to entertain while also creating some truly great music. And let's face it - few guitarists compete with Slash's solos. Here are some of my favorites (from all their albums), which conjure up memories of friends with long, Axl-inspired  locks and grunge gear. Not to mention many an air guitar solo. I'll never forget first seeing the epic "November Rain" video on MTV...








Axl. (Sigh.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tennessee Sucks (in the Summer)

(That's a reference to a Ryan Adams song, by the way. It's hot here, but I love Tennessee, even in the summer.)

School definitely is in session. How do I know? Because my morning commute now involves being extra careful not to run over the influx of Vandy students walking about carelessly as I'm practically sleep-driving at 7:45 8:05 am. Kiddos, if Reese Witherspoon can get hit by a car while out jogging, you certainly can. So be careful, ya hear?

With last Monday's Day of Labor celebrations (which in my area meant not leaving your couch for fear of being waterlogged outside), summer is officially over. No more linen, no more white shoes, back to school, and back to work for my teacher friends (hate them from May until September). So what did I do with my summer? Well, thanks to Netflix...

I watched and fell in love with Friday Night Lights, which I'll tell you is absolutely one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. It was an experience. And I know that sounds crazy, but I think I cried (happy and sad tears) at some point in every episode of the five seasons. It's truly a moving portrayal of family, of friends, of faith, and of life in the South. And football. And it had a GREAT soundtrack, with everything from the Avetts to Ryan to even some Bright Eyes on there. Here's a little preview for you (the ending of the Pilot):


Next, to ease my post-FNL depression, I watched Greek (thank you, Netflix)!

Greek is nothing like FNL... it is not to be taken too seriously. But it made me laugh, made me cry, made me wish to be in college again, and wish that my college Greek experience had been more serious/ridiculous. Sure, it taught me a few lessons, but it mostly left me with a substantial crush on one of the lead characters, Cappie.


And I read several books, of course (reviews to come). But no, I did not spend my entire summer watching TV and lounging, but when I did, it was for physical, emotional (and financial) recovery from one of the biggest events I've been honored to be a part of: My Best Friend's Wedding. (You may remember me referencing that there was a lot going on around me back in this post from earlier this year.) Over the course of 6 months, I took off nearly 40 hours of work and traveled out of town at least once each month for a party, shower, or event. And sure, it was exhausting, and I got VERY sick of being in the car... but there is nothing like being there and being a huge part of such a special day in someone's life who means the world to you. She was a gorgeous bride, and it was a perfect day.

Liz and Lauren

"The Group"


It was a family affair. Something I DIDN'T do this summer was successfully
diet like my sister, who has lost 30 pounds or so. That B.

Just Married

I also got to throw a baby shower for one of my best friends' first child (my first unofficial nephew), who was born last week.

Baby Hank

And in between, I did a lot of pooling/tanning, a lot of tennis playing (my definition of "a lot" is probably different from most there), some lakeing, and a whole lot of karaoking. I'm exhausted from just writing that out and reliving it in my mind. No wonder I slept through most of Labor Day weekend.

How was your summer?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dear Baby Hank

Baby Hank, who will truly be my first unofficial nephew, is on his way! One of my best friends just let me know she's been admitted to the hospital, so please say a prayer that all goes well!

Dearest Baby Hank,

We can't wait to meet you! Nanny Lala apologizes already for the cheek squeezes and moments of exasperation that are sure to come when you poop on her, but just know you are so loved already! Be sweet to your mom today, and don't make her regret this whole Hippie No Drugs thing.

Besides, you've already made her legs swell up like this:

Cankles

And made her belly THIS BIG!
Our First Picture - best buds already
So just come on along and don't be difficult, ok? And come out knowing that I will always have your back and keep your secrets. But you have pretty cool parents, so that probably won't be an issue.

Love you, little buddy!

Nanny Lala


(In case you're wondering, I call my aunt "Nanny." It's a New Orleans family tradition, and one I hope to carry on with my nieces and nephews.) 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kids These Days...

Head on over to The Uncontainable Truth today and read my latest post, in which I ramble on about my confusions pertaining to good parenting versus good music listening. I have never been quite so aware of my selfishness and just how far away I am from parenthood than when I wrote this. Not that I'm surprised, but still. Hope you enjoy and weigh in, whether you're a parent or not!


Friday, August 26, 2011

I like beards. And pinning.

I have found a new obsession in Pinterest. Basically, it's an online platform in which you can "pin" things that interest you (see what they did there?) onto "boards" of your choosing. You see something you like while cruising the blogs? Pin it from your toolbar. Browsing Pinterest and find someone who loves the same silly quote posters as you? Follow them and repin everything from them on to yours. We're talking home design, recipes, fashion... you name it. I can't stop. The organizational freak and daydreamer in me is in hog heaven. 

You can check out my pins here!

Where else would I have found a gem like this? 


Yes, Please. 

In Spite of Ourselves


Dear boyfriend fairy... I would like to meet a wacked out weirdo and lovebug junkie. Please.

In all seriousness, I love this song. It makes me giggle as much as it makes my heart happy. "Won't be nothin' but big ole hearts dancin' in our eyes..." It's a sweet sentiment, no? What more can you ask for, really?

{Lyrics below:}

She don't like her eggs all runny
She thinks crossin' her legs is funny
She looks down her nose at money
She gets it on like the Easter Bunny
She's my baby I'm her honey
I'm never gonna let her go

He ain't got laid in a month of Sundays
I caught him once and he was sniffin' my undies
He ain't too sharp but he gets things done
Drinks his beer like it's oxygen
He's my baby
And I'm his honey
Never gonna let him go

In spite of ourselves
We'll end up a'sittin' on a rainbow
Against all odds
Honey, we're the big door prize
We're gonna spite our noses
Right off of our faces
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.

She thinks all my jokes are corny
Convict movies make her horny
She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs
Swears like a sailor when shaves her legs
She takes a lickin'
And keeps on tickin'
I'm never gonna let her go.

He's got more balls than a big brass monkey
He's a wacked out weirdo and a lovebug junkie
Sly as a fox and crazy as a loon
Payday comes and he's howlin' at the moon
He's my baby I don't mean maybe
Never gonna let him go

In spite of ourselves
We'll end up a'sittin' on a rainbow
Against all odds
Honey, we're the big door prize
We're gonna spite our noses
Right off of our faces
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.

I can't hear the song without thinking about my friends Lindsay and Taylor. Wanna hear a funny story that would only happen somewhere like Nashville? Good. I'll probably muck this up or exaggerate, since it's a psuedo-secondhand story, but here it goes:

So the first time I met Lindsay and Taylor was at a crawfish boil in my friend Laurel's backyard (I think it was actually the first time I met Laurel, too). And they were singing this song as I walked up. Jump forward a year or so, and Taylor decides he wants to try his hand at the open mic night down at Puckett's Grocery in Franklin. And he and Lindsay had big plans to sing a duet. Taylor got all excited, and then Lindsay lost her nerves and backed out at the last minute. Broke his poor little heart. Killed his hopes and dreams. He may have forgiven her by now.

A few months later, he surprised her with this one night... a song he wrote just for her: "Puckett's Song for Lindsay" (aka "The Flake"). You can hear him explain the story. Accompanied by our buddy Drake White on backup vocals and bongo drums. Please excuse any nausea caused by my front porch swingin' while taping:

And Lindsay's "Redemption":


GTs, yall.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

He's back, people.

Ryan Adams is releasing a new album in October. It's like he KNEW that I needed him. And that I needed something to tell my sister to buy me for my birthday.

You can pre-order Ashes and Fire here. You know this gal has requested the LP Deluxe bundle. Do I need Ryan Adams 3D posters and glasses? Why yes, yes I do. 

ashes and fire Pictures, Images and Photos

I think the artwork is just lovely.

And the first single, "Lucky Now," is just as lovely... very Heartbreaker-esque, which makes this heart happy. Listen below. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Story of How My Mom Got Banned from Graceland

Thirty-four years ago today, Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 in Memphis. And on that day, my mother's and my grandmother's hearts shattered. Completely. They've never gotten over it. So let me give you a little background...

My Grandma had my mom at 16. (She and Grandaddy were actually married at 15 and 19, per the normal pre-leaving-for-the-Air Force trend of days past... no shotgun wedding for the Pitts family.) So as you can imagine, she and my mom were pretty tight, being just one generation apart. But they shared more than clothes and hairstyles... they had that quintessential icon with baby blue eyes and shaking hips: Elvis Presley. The King was only a few years older than Gma. They collected his records (most of which I have lovingly "borrowed" throughout the years and added to my collection). They saw his movies. They had dolls, tshirts, posters. They were weak in the knees. All that.

Mom and Grandma, sometime in the 70s.
And Mom and Grandma this past December.

In fact, in 1974, during Mom's senior year at Auburn, Grandma and Grandaddy ventured up to meet Mom and see Elvis perform live at the Coliseum. He was on the verge of "Fat Elvis"... and their lives were forever changed.

So here's the good part. Many of you reading this may know my mother. She may be a lot of things, and I imagine there are a lot of things I don't know about her as a college student, teenager, and young adult, but the Donna Sue I know is pretty straight-laced. Plays it safe. Seems always to have been this way. Never partied. Never did much experimenting. Classic good girl child of the 50s who had a strict father that wouldn't let her date boys with long hair. Right? You can imagine my surprise (and delight) when I was told this story several years ago:

Sometime after the show, Mom got the chance to go to Graceland with a fancy friend from Auburn who lived in Memphis. I think there was a private jet involved, but I get the story confused. Lo and behold, they make it to the Motherland. They were yards away from where Elvis slept, ate, and enjoyed whatever it was he was doing that eventually led to his demise. But get this: the Presleys, including King Elvis, are at home. No tours today. Sorry, ladies, go back to the drawing board.

But ohhhh no, Donna Sue Pitts would not have that. She had not made it to Memphis, thisclose to the love of her 22-year-old life, just to be told to move along. No way. So what did she do? She jumped the fence. Made a run for it. Ran as fast as she could with only one goal in sight: Reach That Front Door. This was her moment. And then she gets tackled by a security guard. Asked to leave. Do Not Return. I imagine there was kicking and screaming involved. Epic FAIL.

So if you ever wonder where I come from, there you have it. My mom was a crazy fan who got banned from Graceland. I've asked her a million times, "What exactly were you going to do when you reached the front door?" She just says, "I don't know... I guess I would have just said hey." Yeah right. Mom was going to take out Priscilla. I know it. (Because that's exactly what I would have done.)

Elvis playing Auburn University, March 5, 1974.

RIP, Elvis. I assure you that you are missed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Nashville!


This week marks two years since my move from Birmingham to Nashville. Those were bittersweet days, when I left my comfortable home where I was surrounded by all of my best friends to embark on a new and exciting adventure to a city I'd fallen in love with. And I can't pretend like life has been perfect since making the move... it's been hard. Making and keeping new friends at my age is a whole different ballgame from the other times, in college and right after, when I was younger and more spritely. The job market, frankly, sucks. And I've met people who don't get me, don't appreciate me, and who have hurt me. I've experienced loneliness and disappointment.

But - I've also been inspired, excited, and plain out blissful. I've worked harder, juggled two jobs, and realized the true satisfaction that comes from doing what it takes to finance the lifestyle you want. I've met some truly wonderful people and have strengthened relationships with friends in town I already knew, but also the friends I left behind. I finally found a church that not only works for me, but that has changed my relationship (in a positive way) with God. I've fallen even more deeply in love with music. How could I not? This is the kind of city music lovers flock to for good reason. And most importantly, I've learned to be thankful. Thankful for good and bad experiences, thankful for family and true friends. And thankful for the ability to know the difference.

Cheers, Nashvegas! It sure has been interesting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Blue Like Jazz Trailer

The first Blue Like Jazz Trailer is here! You can read my previous posts about this book-to-movie and my involvement with it here and here.

Looks like at least one of the scenes I was a part of wasn't cut (1:22, when she raises her arms up). Keeping my fingers crossed!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hallelujah chorus

Check out my latest  post at the Uncontainable Truth, in which I talk about my favorite Hallelujahs. You'll see.


Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This must be the place

Saturday, July 23rd. Liz and Reba's last weekend in the apartment. 

Over the weekend, I went to Birmingham for a dear friend's wedding, but also to say goodbye to a place that I called home for many years. The apartment on Cahaba Road held witness to only about 2.5 years of my life while I lived in Birmingham, but since Liz and Rebecca have continued to live there since my move to Nashville, I've now spent nearly 5 years sleeping on its couches and stealing snacks from its kitchen. Its kitchen table and front steps have been the place of many a monumental conversation (and many not-so-monumental). It was my home when I decided to change my career, go back to school, and later move away from my friends and comfort zone to another state. It was the only house I've ever shared with two best friends who have been a huge part of my life, as close as family, for more decades. And it was a house that always welcomed me back home to Birmingham with open arms. So now that Liz getting married next weekend, times are a-changing, and new folks will be moving into Apartment A. 

I hope it's as good to you as it was to us, new folks. Also - hope you enjoy all the bobbypins.

Brings a tune to mind....

Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Heard that

I wrote a while ago about my love/hate relationship with cover songs. And just a moment ago, I heard a song that in my mind, unmistakably belonged to my dear Dolly Parton. In fact, as it was on her White Limozeen album that served as my first introduction to Dolly, it's a song I hold near and dear to my heart. Imagine my surprise when I found out SHE was covering REO Speedwagon! Really, I didn't know. I don't know everything, people. Here are the two versions. I vote Dolly. But of course, that's a given.


The original:


I also remembered another "classic" cover over the weekend that I failed to leave off of my list of favorites.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Red Rocket Blaze Over Cape Canaveral

Just minutes ago, NASA successfully launched Atlantis into space, its final space shuttle mission.

Atlantis prepared for launch yesterday, via NASA.gov

I'm listening to the live stream of affirmations that all is well as it flies away (at 15,000 miles an hour!!!), and I can't help but feel so very American. I'm reminded of watching fireworks Monday with friends, all oohing and aahing, with someone noting how rare these moments are that we all feel truly connected with everyone around us. Obviously I can't pretend to have grown up during the race for space. There have always been space shuttles and astronauts during my lifetime. I'm sad for a future without shuttle launches.

On another related note, I never did get to go to Space Camp in Huntsville, which is pretty much a must-do for any kiddo, and especially any kiddo growing up in Alabama. BUT - I just looked it up, and THEY HAVE SPACE CAMP FOR ADULTS! Who wants to fund a trip for me? I'm serious.

Regardless, I have chills and a big, goofy grin on my face after watching it take off. I feel nostalgic for days I only experienced through others' words in books like Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam's memoir about growing up in the Space Age with rocket science hopes and dreams. The movie October Sky was based on it. It's a good read.


So if you missed it, the video is here, and the final countdown begins at 59 minutes.

And I'll be listening to this for the rest of the day. It's a personal favorite and quite poignant today.

Saw the stars get smaller
Tiny diamonds in my memory
I know that victory is sweet
Even deep in the cheap seats

AMERICUH.

Monday, June 27, 2011

When the Rope Gets Tight

With Ryan Adams's acoustic European tour in full swing (have you seen these freaking setlists???), I've been in DRA Mode. He's played Whiskeytown songs and obscure tracks we never thought we'd hear live. With harmonica! I'm dying over here. And he says he ain't a-coming to the US. Woe is me.

Regardless, I put in Jacksonville City Nights this morning at random, and I'd forgotten how much I love this one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading

Head on over to The Uncontainable Truth to see my 2011 Summer Reading picks!


Any suggestions for me? Currently I'm working on Sarah Dessen's latest and up next, I'm hopping on the Game of Thrones train! I've had person after person tell me I must read and watch, so I'm gonna. Just give me a little bit of time.



But speaking of popular books-to-Showtime/HBO-in-all-their-graphic-glory... guess what starts back Sunday....


Yesssssssss.