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.)