i’m not together, but i’m getting there

Two weeks ago I crashed my car. For anyone who’s been in an accident before, I’m sure you can relate to the shock, the embarrassment, the fear, the confusion, the disillusionment. At age 25, it was my first accident, and I felt all those things in equal measure.

That “brightest of bright reds” vehicle I mentioned in my last post? Well, she’s gone now, resigned to the great scrap heap in the sky. (Though the guy at the garage where I received the diagnosis did agree to pop the Chevy logo off the hood and give it to me as a souvenir of my shame and my survival — which, yes, I should clarify, I am absolutely fine. A bruised arm and a very bruised ego, but otherwise alright.)

Anyway, the point of this story is to say that totaling my car, and coming pretty close to totaling my life, got me thinking about how quickly things can happen. One moment, I’m pulling out of the parking lot at my job because I had a stomach ache and just wanted to finish my work from home. The next, I get hit head-on by a Jeep. Such is life. Moments like that come and go, thousands of times a day, and we can’t do anything to slow them down or stop them in any way. They happen. It sucks. We try to move on.

As I spent the last week and a half icing my surface wounds and searching for a new mode of transportation, all while feeling stressed out of my mind, I couldn’t help but think about the moment, or moments, that led up to me abandoning this blog, and all the moments since that I wished I had kept it up so I could tell you about all the amazing — and not so amazing — new songs I heard, albums I purchased, movies I saw, stories I read, books I ogled, TV shows that had me hooked from episode one. I’ve missed having an outlet to express my joys and frustrations, as banal and commonplace as they may be. At least they were mine, and at least a handful of people cared. I missed that. I still do.

Which brings me to today. A lot has changed since I last wrote. I’ve been working full-time in my (mostly) chosen field for over a year, experiencing all the highs and lows that come with it, and realizing that this industry is so much more fragile than any of us could have imagined. I moved back to a city I had abandoned years ago with the hope of never returning, feeling every emotion one can expect to feel when presented with something so familiar, and yet so foreign, wanting desperately to feel home and feeling almost anything but. Most importantly, last summer by a waterfall on perhaps the hottest day of the year, I tearfully and gleefully promised to spend the rest of my life with the greatest person I know, and on August 26 we’ll make that pledge official.

It’s been a pretty busy 18 months to say the least, but there’s been something missing throughout all of it. As I subtitled this blog, way back when, I want something else to get me through this life. And as I also said when I started, without me truly realizing it until now, that something is writing — at least, writing about what I want, off the clock and off the radar, and all the frivolity that comes with it. (Though if this story is any indication, there is very fine line between “frivolous” and “news.”)

So, like my betrothed said in his own kinda-sorta-maybe-comeback post, this isn’t necessarily a promise of more things to come, at least not as frequently as you or I would like. (Though there are several ideas that I’ve had brewing for a while now, and plan on posting in the near future.) But it is a promise that I still have something to say, however infrequent or lacking in eloquence those things may be.

Speaking of lacking eloquence, I’m not quite sure how to wrap things up here. How do you close out your own semi-sheepish reintroduction to blogging? In the words of Alkaline Trio, “You know, all my favorite singers have stolen all of my best lines.” So in the spirit of that:

I’m a horrible dancer, I ain’t gonna lie, but I’ll be damned if that means that I ain’t gonna try.

Here’s to trying again. Let’s see what happens.

there is nothing like someone new

I’m moving to Albany next Friday.

I keep saying it, but it still seems unreal. The last few weeks have been teeming with Major Life Changes: I got a new job (in journalism! Finally! Huzzah!), I bought my first car (the brightest of bright reds), and I’m moving back to a city that I love and miss to move in with someone I love and miss. (I’m also pretty sure the laptop — or at least its hard drive — is lost and gone forever. Sigh.)

Frightened Rabbit‘s “Nothing Like You” has been another breath of fresh air,  soothing me amid the stress of all these changes and captivating me for the better part of last week, swirling still about my head six days after it first caught my ear.

This latest single from their forthcoming album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, is nothing short of miraculous, joyously buoyant and ever so catchy. I dare you to watch this delightfully DIY video (far superior to its glossy counterpart) without cracking a smile:

As one YouTube user put it, “I can’t understand how this band aren’t a total chart destroying, globe-shagging phenomenon.” Indeed, these Scots have been pumping out great, slightly-under-the-radar albums since 2006, particularly 2008’s fierce, lovely The Midnight Organ Fight. But shout-outs in the pages of Esquire and repeated plays on shows like Chuck prove that the world is starting to take notice.

The greatest thing about “Nothing Like You” is that it’s essentially a scathing rebuke of an ex disguised in a shimmering pop package, topped off with a ribbon of jangling tambourines. The video depicts various band members and company bopping about to this chorus:

She was not the cure for cancer / And all my questions still asked for answers / But there is nothing like someone new/ And this girl she was nothing like you

All my Major Life Changes are exciting and terrifying, and as much as I try to assign them meaning, they will probably not end up as grandiosely Life-Changing as I assume them to be.

But there is nothing like something new — job, car, roommate, song, or otherwise — and I can thank Frightened Rabbit for that realization.

are you aware the shape i’m in?

Two weeks ago I made the unpleasant discovery that I suffer from migraines. Yesterday, I was crippled by the worst one yet.

Pushing away my dinner plate and fumbling up the stairs to my room, I sought respite in my warm bed and a cool washcloth over my eyes. Not wanting to fall asleep at seven o’clock, I tried to think of CDs I could put on that would keep me awake without feeding the beast raging through my skull.

Bingo.

I missed the boat on these guys when they released I and Love and You back in September, but upon hearing the title track earlier this year, I was instantly hooked.

These tunes fit in snugly with my favorite folkies, Josh Ritter and Ryan Adams, and are exactly the kind of music I love for rainy days, heartfelt singalongs with my steering wheel, and yes, soothing migraines. (And maybe wedding fever.)

Hours later, my migraine had long subsided, but this album was still pleasantly buzzing between my ears. I and Love and the Avetts.

deaf, dumb, and blindsided

Well, the honor of receiving a Best Picture nomination is now officially meaningless.

Thank God for Oscar nominations to break me out of my blogging hibernation. The Academy Awards are my favorite television event of the year, an obsession dating back to 1997/1998 and the domination of Titanic at both the box office and the Oscars. (Gimme a break, I was twelve. And oh my, was Leo DiCaprio dreamy.)

As luck would have it, my baser instincts eventually blossomed into a general love of all things movie-related (and okay, maybe glamourous, too), and this appreciation for cinema honed my burgeoning critical eye. As I got older, I started buying in to Oscar Hype, eagerly gobbling up Entertainment Weekly‘s predictions and handicapping every awards season, weighing their opinions against my own.

My years-long devotion to these awards is why today’s nominations are so shocking — or rather, one nomination in particular. With the Best Picture field open to ten films this year in lieu of the traditional five, there were bound to be some surprises. But while the Academy is known for an odd choice here and there (and being a wee bit out of touch), The Blind Side‘s selection as one of the year’s best is truly baffling.

Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the film. But that’s because it looked awful. And critics I respect thought it was pure, unrefined, dumbed-down sap. So yes, I find it difficult to believe that The Blind Side deserves this nomination. And while I know it doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning (as Roger Ebert observed, there are only five real nominees), shouldn’t someone over at the Academy — along with its 6,000-plus members — be embarrassed? I know I am.

Although maybe I’m just upset because (500) Days of Summer was completely snubbed. Hard to tell.

(And as always, Videogum puts it all into perspective.)

cucko for coco

As you can see, my allegiance in the Late Night War is pretty clear: #teamconan, all the way. And man, what a ride it’s been.

When news broke that NBC was considering bumping Conan to a later timeslot to accommodate the increasingly-tired, perennially-unfunny Jay Leno, I felt bad for the guy, sure. But I never thought I would get so worked up about something that has absolutely no effect on my life.

I almost never watch the Tonight Show, and while I always had affection for Conan, I could take or leave his show. No more. Now, it seems nearly everyone has chosen a side, and the Twitterverse has exploded in a flurry of hashtags and trending topics. Even I, a person who until two weeks ago didn’t even have a Twitter account, have been micro-blogging about the scuffle.

But why should anyone care? Screwing over a talented, eloquent guy aside, NBC has been going down in flames for years, and, as some of my friends argued at Tuesday trivia, Coco hasn’t delivered the ratings the network so desperately needed. (Though neither has Leno, whose show had affiliates threatening a boycott and GOT CANCELLED. Doesn’t exactly scream late-night longevity, does it?)

Yet Conan’s crisis has transformed his ailing show into appointment television, with the affable ginger mining comedy gold through biting monologues and various other hilarious bits and bantering with guests.

Last night’s show was particularly inspired, starting with his trademark self-deprecating monologue (“You can do anything you want, kids, unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too!”), an amazing cameo from 30 Rock‘s Kenneth the Page (“This is the 5:00 tour. If it started any later, it wouldn’t be the 5:00 tour.”), and a fantastic sit-down with Ricky Gervais, where the comic chided Conan about his lack of discernible skills and his unlikely dream of becoming a lifeguard (“I think your skin would dazzle ships.”).

(Check out Gawker’s coverage of Tuesday and Wednesday to see video.)

There have been dueling reports today that both confirm and deny NBC has taken the reins from Conan and thrust them into Leno’s chubby hands, and probably many more to come in the hours, days, and weeks ahead. The War is by no means over. But as Videogum has so astutely reported, Jeff Zucker is still dead. And no matter the outcome, Team Conan isn’t about to go quietly into Tonight.

sun is in the sky, oh why, oh why, would i wanna be anywhere else?

Well, perhaps I could think of a few other places I’d rather be. But with a 40-degree heat wave hitting Rochester today, it’s been one of the more delightful days I’ve spent at home in recent memory. And hearing this song while walking Sundae certainly enhanced my suddenly cheery mood:

What are some of your favorite sunny day songs, Sparkies? Where else would you rather be? (I’m picturing myself on a tropical beach somewhere, stiff, fruity cocktail in hand…)

belated book report: halvsies edition

I’m just about half-way through Songbook and thought I’d bring you a status report — though I promise an actual review once I finish. I breezed through the first 92 pages while on the train Monday night (and into Tuesday morning), eagerly gobbling up Hornby’s prose despite the distractions at hand.

The thing about doing anything on the train is that you are bound to be interrupted. Most people tend to keep to themselves during late night rides, and it’s certainly a more sedate group than Greyhound travelers (shudder), but every now and then I find myself next to a Seat Hog.

Monday’s SH was on her way to Chicago, and I could understand her need and desire for sleep, especially considering that the train was running over three hours late, and it would be many more before she reached her destination. She lay curled up next to the window seat, and I tried my best not to disturb her as I sat down and arranged my bags and accoutrements. And then it hit me.

Literally, her sweater/coat/giant-red-something-that-wasn’t-a-Slanket hit me. Specifically, its pocket. Girlfriend had jammed some major gloves into that thing, and it packed quite the punch. Somewhat startled, I tried to reposition myself further away, only to find The Pocket yet again pressing into my side. This little dance continued for the duration of my ride, The Pocket creeping towards me, The Sleeve even finding its way across my lap at one point.

I suppose I can’t really blame the woman for being a Seat Hog, since it seemed to be mostly her sweater’s fortitude that kept thrusting itself my way. Anyway, what all this has to do with Songbook is, is that even though I had to wrestle with The Sweater From Seat Hog Hell and smell the slight stench wafting up from the woman’s admittedly kicky flamingo-patterned socks, I was still able to focus on, and delight in, my book.

And boy, what a book. Every time I read something of Hornby’s, I feel like he’s sitting across from me and we’re having a conversation. He says everything that I’ve ever wanted to say about music but couldn’t quite articulate. Take this quote from an essay he wrote circa Songbook about Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker, and Adams’ ability to turn torment into musical genius:

What rights do we have here? Are we entitled to ask other people to be unhappy for our benefit? After all, there are loads of us, and only one of them. And how can you be happy, really, if you are only ordinary in your happiness, but extraordinary in your grief? Is it really worth it? It sounds harsh, I know, but if you are currently romantically involved with someone with a real talent — especially a talent for songwriting — then do us all a favour and dump them. There might be a ‘Heartbreaker‘ — or a ‘Blood On The Tracks’ or a ‘Layla‘ — in it for all of us.

I mean, is that not just a perfect paragraph?

Songbook is littered with soliloquies like this, except Hornby isn’t just talking; he’s talking to you. And as he’s relating to you, you’re relating to him, and everything is just…wonderful. It’s an experience I’m not finished with yet, and one I can’t wait to see through to its end. Stay tuned.

married to blogging

dessert + photography = love

Okay, so maybe that’s not the most accurate description of my online activities of late (what can I say? I’m a busy gal), but it’s how I feel deep down inside.

Anyway, I’d like to do a little shameless self-promotion, and ask you to check out my guest post over at married to chocolate. My friend Kris started the blog as a supplement to our grad school capstone project, a magazine aimed at divorced women.

When school and the project ended, she continued writing, transforming married to chocolate into a mouth-watering must-read for any dessert aficionado.

Read my post if you want (and try not to judge the awful self-portrait too harshly. I much prefer the one on this page), but don’t miss Kris’ commentary on all things delicious. Just prepare yourself for the drooling sure to follow.

the lights & buzz

The last few weeks have been a furious flurry of shopping, wrapping, planning, packing, traveling, cooking, baking, eating, and, oh yes, drinking.

With another sojourn home looming, a mini family reunion with Papa Nowak’s cousins next weekend, and the end of the Christmas season not slated to end chez moi until sometime in early February, I’m hunkering down for even more exhaustion in the days and weeks to come.

Having said all that, there really is something special about the holiday season, if only for its ability to provide us with endless photo opps. Minor White, one of my favorite photographers, once said: “When gifts are given to me through my camera, I accept them graciously.”

Thanks to the lights from the tree and Nick’s glasses for this one.

Merry Happy, everyone!

lovely lime(y)

Logged into the latest version of LimeWire today to find this as the loading page:

First of all, love the play on lime/limey. Second, if you know me at all, you know how I feel about London, and Brits is general. (I even know exactly which phone booth this is — Big Ben in the background gives it away.)

Needless to say, this was quite a delight for me. And especially fitting, considering my desktop background:

Goes quite nicely with the Buckingham Palace gates and Jamie Cullum lyrics, no?

Any serendipitous screen shots you want to share, Sparkies? Is anyone as tickled by this as I am? Anyone? Bueller?