Thursday, January 28, 2010

Of States and their general existence

I am a bad American. I am embarrassed. I tried just writing down all of the letters of the alphabet and as quickly as possible seeing how many states I could remember to write down by each letter. On first pass, I only got 29. Then I remembered Nevada really quick- so let’s call it an even 30. May I just say that the thing I am most embarrassed about is that I forgot my beloved Texas. I froze under pressure.

So now, I will have to see if I can put all the states in their proper place on a map. On to state capitals and mountain ranges as well. I will keep you apprised of my progress.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top 50 List is Completed!!!

So the first thing I have accomplished off the list is my list of top 50 songs. Let me be clear about the way I arranged the list:

1.) This is in no particular order. That would just have been too hard. But for the record, when someone asks me, I say my favorite song is At This Moment by Billy Vera and the Beaters.
2.) I only picked one song from any given artist. In many cases there would have been a lot of songs for one band/singer, but I thought I would just pay homage to a favorite song and leave it at that.
3.) I didn’t complete this list with the vain hope of being super definitive. I just picked songs that it would make me happy and want to blast the radio to if I heard them. I also stopped letting myself think about it once I got 50 songs. I revised a few songs along the way, but that is it. It actually took me a while to come up with the 50 though, and I did make sure I REALLY liked the songs.
4.) I make no guarantees that this will be my top 50 of all time. It is my top 50 as of now.

Hard for me to say I’m Sorry- Chicago
This song makes me think of skating rink days. I remember the first time I heard it. I was living in San Angelo, Texas. I was at the skating rink for I think the first time. I had never experienced or heard of couple skating, but this song came on and all the teenagers coupled up to skate. The girls were skating backwards! I was mesmerized and it seemed like the most romantic and grown up thing I had ever seen. I don’t know that I actually ever had a meaningful couples’ skating experience. I went through a dreadfully awkward stage (READ: FAT) during my big skating rink years and didn’t have a lot of suitors. But this song still can make me well up with tears. I don’t really like the rock out ending of the song, but most radio stations cut that off anyway.

Go Your Own Way- Fleetwood Mac
This is just one of those songs that I love. I just do. I love to sing it and get lost in it. I love Fleetwood Mac!

Tiny Dancer- Elton John
The scene in Almost Famous when they sing this song on the tour bus is one of the best scenes in any movie ever. This song makes me want to be barefoot and wear swishy clothing and be all earthy and the kind of girl someone thinks about and writes a song about. I cannot mention Elton John without also mentioning my two other favorites of his: I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues and Someone Saved My Life Tonight but as per my criteria, I could only pick one for the official list.

Please Forgive Me- Bryan Adams
This song comes under the heading of “first love”. There was love before and there has certainly been love since, but first true love will always stand alone… He played this for me one night in his car, after we had broken up and we both cried our eyes out. But it didn’t change a thing.

Dancing Queen- ABBA
This is my best friend song. Like when you have a song with a boyfriend, I have one with my best friend. When we were in college, we would road trip between Nacogdoches and Houston in her little brown 1980 Carolla (I think) with no AC. We would listen to ABBA and try to figure out all the harmonies. These are memories I cherish. This song always makes me whoop when I hear it.

Maggie May- Rod Stewart
My 3rd stepmom (yes, you read that right) had a Rod Stewart’s greatest hits tape. My first car had a tape player (CD’s were still cutting edge technology) and being cash poor, I borrowed this tape permanently. At first, Rod was just the least offensive of my free choices. But I came to love dear Rod. I was the only 17 year-old super fan of Rod Stewart that I am aware of at the time. Still love him. Love his songs.

Past the Point of Rescue- Hal Ketchum
I love sad and twisted love songs. I like to just go inside the song and feel all the pain I ever felt from love. I’m not deep and dark about it on purpose. I write songs like that and I love to listen to them too. This song is like that. It makes me want to two-step with someone I am clinging too for dear life.

At This Moment- Billy Vera & The Beaters
The song has been covered many times and nothing ever comes close to this version. I believe it is the best love song ever written. It was my email address for years ( At the time, I didn’t think about how hard it would be to tell people my email address if the first word was at. I was constantly saying, the word, not the symbol. Someone hijacked that address, so it is no more. I know it is about a break-up, but just the one line, “If you’d stay, I’d subtract 20 years from my life. I’d fall down on my knees; kiss the ground that you walk on, if I could just hold you again.” That is love. That is real love. Real love just isn’t always reciprocated.

Angry All the Time- Bruce Robison
I have a tendency to be harsh. I have a tendency to get really caught up in all my fears and phobias and translate that to anger because when I can’t deal I just have to be inside my own head and hide. I can’t answer questions and I can’t help anyone else. When I listen to the words of this song I pray that I make that part of me go away as much as I can because I don’t ever want someone to sing this song to me.

Fly- Patti Griffin
I know the Dixie Chicks recorded a lovely and much more well-know version of this song, but it can’t touch the original. If only I had been this smart a million times, I could have saved much heartache. Foolish me didn’t know you can’t blame folks for bein’ who they are. I, with open eyes and full knowledge let many a fella break me apart. Shame on me, not them. Took me a long time to get there.

Lovin in My Baby’s Eyes- Taj Mahal
I played this song as part of the “pre-show” at my wedding. To me it is sweet and sexy at the same time.

Round of Blues- Shawn Colvin
She is a songwriting goddess to me. Certainly one of my inspirations and this song is my favorite of hers. It’s a dust yourself off and go again kind of song. It makes me really happy when I hear it. I keep losing this cd and every time I find it I get all excited again.

Brilliant Mind- Furniture
This is on the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack. It is so deliciously deep and dark and perfectly 80’s teen angst. And of course the deep-voiced singer couldn’t hurt either.

Crazy Love- Van Morrison
I walked down the aisle to this song. Love, love, love, love Van Morrison.

Ghost- Indigo Girls
Another song that is deeply tied to my best friend. I always liked the song, but one day while we were in college, sitting outside of the Downstage Theatre and waiting to see a student directed play, we sang this song together and it has just always been a touchstone moment for us. I sing the low part, by the way.

Better Man- Pearl Jam
I remember the first time I heard Pearl Jam very distinctly. I was in my best friend Kaitanya’s little truck that had no radio, so she played me a tape on one of those black tape players that you could play and record on- really old school. We were sitting in the parking lot of the public library and she played I’m Still Alive for me. The moment grunge entered my life. I like this song a little better and it has a memory for me because I associate it with another relationship I had. He was the sweetest man in the world and he took wonderful care of me and I hadn’t had much nice. There just wasn’t enough love there and it took me a long time to be brave enough to leave nice and safe to look for love.

Raspberry Beret- Prince
This song reminds me of being on the bus, on the way to One Act Play Competition in high school and someone had a guitar and knew this song. We all sang it together over and over again because I guess it was the only song the guy knew. It doesn’t matter. This song is just fun to sing.

Roll To Me- Del Amitri
One of those songs that just makes me happy to sing it. It isn’t exactly a happy song but it is very up-tempo, so it feels like it.

Here I Go Again- Whitesnake
My first Thanksgiving in L.A. was spent at my friend Barry’s house. The day was tense in a way and I was a little homesick, but Barry blasted this song for some reason and we all sang at the top of our lungs. It is one of my favorite memories.

Hard to Handle- Black Crowes
I was not a bad girl by any stretch of the imagination, but senior year I could often be convinced to skip typing class to drive down the highway with my boyfriend, windows down, singing this song. This song makes me feel free and a little bad too.

All I Want Is You- U2
One of my boyfriends in college used to play this for me on his guitar. He had this incredible deep voice. I had never heard the U2 version, only him. A long while after we broke up I saw Reality Bites and heard the U2 version in that movie for the first time. I cried my eyes out. I think it was less about the movie and more about remembering this guy singing to me.

Theme Song From One Day At A Time- ?
Anyone who really knows me, knows that I know a lot of t.v. show theme songs. I have no idea why. Somewhere in my brain, some cells think that this kind of information is important. The theme song from One Day At a Time is my favorite.

Ring My Bell- Anita Ward
When I hear this song, I go right back to a college party. I have usually had way too much Southern Comfort and Coke and I am about to do a door dance. This involved taking turns going out a door and then suddenly reappearing in the door which much panache and pizazz, then showing how sexy you could be dancing in a doorway. Like you do…

Blame it on the Rain- Milli Vanilli
Gotta blame it on something…I love this song. Don’t judge.

Mandolin Rain- Bruce Hornsby
Such a great song. It sucks when you have no one to blame but yourself for screwing up the love of your life. Perfect rainy day feel sorry for yourself song. Makes me want to wear pajamas and refuse to bathe.

I Would Die Without You- PM Dawn
More unrequited love. I believe PM Dawn to be a completely under-appreciated band. This song also reminds of someone in particular and I am not sure why- we weren’t in love or anything. A little like, but no love.

Shook Me All Night Long- AC/DC
This song reminds me of the same person as the PM Dawn song, but I do know why this time. He loves AC/DC and he used to sing it around me all the time. A dear friend that is one of those people I just don’t know anymore but I still think of fondly.

Love Look What You’ve Done To Me- Boz Skaggs
From the soundtrack of one of my all-time favorite movies, Urban Cowboy. I still want to be Pam with her long, straight brown hair. Sometimes I still want a cowboy. If you knew my sweet hubby, this would make you laugh.

Better Man- Clint Black
This is the all time best song to two-step to- at least as far as I am concerned.

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want- Morrisey
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…excellent montage and excellent song.

You Never Even Call Me By My Name- David Allen Coe

This is the best country song ever written. It is perfect for all of the reasons mentioned in the song and also because it is the perfect song to sing loudly and badly when you have had far too much to drink. The kind of song where you all put your arms around each other for camaraderie and to hold each other up so you don’t fall down.

True Companion- Marc Cohn

I have sung this song at a bergillion weddings. Whenever someone asks the hubz and I to perform at their wedding, we give them a list of songs we can do and they invariably pick this one. It really is sweet and beautiful. I also love Walkin in Memphis a lot too.

Am I Wasting Your Time- David Garza

I don’t know if I actually have the name of this right. I can’t do a top song list without including David Garza (pronounced Dah-Veed). Alone, with the Love Beads, or in Twang Twang Shocka Boom I loved this man and his music. I was introduced to his music in college and it is the soundtrack for that time in my life. I nearly peed myself when after a show in Nacogdoches, TX, my roommate and I got to go back to the band’s hotel and play Scrabble. When they dropped us off, we literally did that thing you do where you play cool till the guy drives away and then scream and freak out. My best friend (who also loves him dearly and for way longer) went with me to a show a few years ago in L.A. We were beside ourselves with joy and we sent notes back to him saying we were old-school Texas fans and could he play some of the old stuff. That was the most depressing show of my life on several levels:
One- he used to play the happiest music I ever heard and now his music is like a funeral dirge.
Two- he did read our note and condescend to play an old tune, but he played it in the style of a funeral dirge.
I will love old David. I know that an artist has the right to move on, but sometimes it breaks your heart.

You Oughta Know- Alanis Morissette
This is the I am Woman Hear Me Roar of the 90’s. If you are in your 30’s right now and female, I promise that even if you don’t remember, you have cranked this song and sung- no yelled it at the top of your lungs. You have for 3.5 minutes hated all men. It’s a good song.

That’s Right You’re Not From Texas- Lyle Lovett
I am a Texan way before I am an American. People who aren’t from Texas don’t really get it and this song sums that up perfectly.

To Be With You- Mr. Big
Well it was either More Than Words or this. This won. My personal favorite power ballad.

Lessons in Love- Level 42
This is another song that I just really like and I don’t know why. No particular memory associated with it.

Against All Odds- Phil Collins
Another in the long line of totally sad love songs I adore. Never have seen the movie. Remember Phil in front of all that green rain in the video?

Talkin to the Moon- Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

Love to sing this. Another sad but happy sounding song. I must REALLY have a super deep hole in my heart somewhere. My musical taste is more than a little depressing. Plus the Gatlin Brothers have amazing harmonies and I think that is fun to sing and listen to.

Freedom- Wham

Not to be confused with that other Freedom song by the solo artist George Michael. Fun song. Makes me think of my Ali and Mattie.

Silent All These Years- Tori Amos

It was a rainy Saturday in 1992 and my friend Lana and I were hanging out and shopping. She said she wanted to go to Tower Records on The Drag and get a tape of this Tori Amos chick. We played it for the rest of the day while we drove around rainy Austin and shopped vintage. I can almost smell the Texas rain when I hear this.

While You See A Chance- Steve Winwood

Ok, this one is uplifting. I think Steve Winwood has an amazing voice.

Drive South- John Hiatt

I would love to just chuck it all and run away some day. Maybe when the kids are gone…

The Road Goes on Forever- Robert Earl Keen
Kind of like Drive South. I don’t want to go on a crime spree that ends with my fella in jail, but the wild freedom aspect of it is kind of cool. Robert Earl Keen is an incredible and really funny storyteller.

I’m On Fire- Bruce Springsteen
I couldn’t really decide between this and Born to Run. This one appeals more to the darkness we have been discussing, so I picked it. His voice is just so darn sexy.

I Want You Back for Good- Take That

Once again, you are not allowed to judge. I love to sing this song and you cannot deny the talent of Robbie Williams. So there.

Margaritaville- Jimmy Buffet
When I was in college, one of our professors, named Juanita, owned an apartment complex. It was a fourplex and was inhabited entirely by fellow members of the theatre department. We had all the parties there and they were indeed PARTIES. Those folks were sort of the elite of the theatre department and they knew it. We took to calling that complex the superiority complex (as opposed to an inferiority complex). But when we were not calling it that, we called it Juanitaville. We sang this song a lot over in Juanitaville.

Mother, Father- Journey
I must make a confession. I can’t pick an all-time favorite Journey song, so I will just pick my favorite for right now. I love Journey. My favorite concert is Journey. The new singer is incredible and although let’s face it, I would pee if Steve joined back in, the new guy rocks.

Like the Way I Do- Melissa Etheridge
My go-to karaoke song.

Stay- Lisa Loeb
This is one of those songs that you are really proud of yourself after you learn all of the words to it. Also so very 90's. Bring out your babydoll dress and the Doc Martens. I never had any actual Doc Martens. I had many fake (let's say faux to be awesome) pairs.

So there you have it. I can cross one thing off the list. This one was really fun for me and now I have the strange desire to make a mix tape.

p.s. I am pretty sure you can hear any of these on You Tube.
More soon…

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I am an unoriginal hack

It isn't original. In fact, based on my internet research, it is downright overdone but I want to make and complete one of those 101 things in 1001 days lists. Only I am hoping to do it in a much shorter period of time because 1001 days seems like a lame goal. My list is not a bucket list or anything like that. These are not all things I am dying to do but they met at least one of several criteria:

make me somehow better/smarter
not require me to hire a babysitter or do any creative scheduling
could be fun
something I need more of a reason to actually accomplish or spend the money on
something that makes me giggle when I think of it

Here is the list. My plan is to blog about how something went/changed me/was totally lame/was totally awesome after I complete the task. My hope is to get as close to 365 days as possible. But I am merely me with two kids and a full time job so I am cutting myself a little slack.

Let's see how it goes...

101 things to do in 365 days

  1. Learn to fold a fitted sheet
  2. Write a letter to a politician about something I care about
  3. Go to a Goodwill outlet store
  4. Plant tomatoes in my yard and not let them die
  5. Start composting
  6. Learn to make something origami
  7. Read the Constitution
  8. Learn all of the lyrics to “The End of the World as We Know It” by REM and be able to sing it without looking
  9. Learn to make one of those connected paper doll things you can stretch out
  10. Learn to tie at least 2 real knots
  11. Do the New York Times crossword (even if I have to cheat)
  12. Get one of those funny pictures made where you dress up like cowboys and saloon girls
  13. try Ethiopian food
  14. memorize a Bible verse besides John 3:16
  15. watch Harold & Maude
  16. read To Kill a Mockingbird
  17. Learn to make frosting flowers
  18. make peanut brittle
  19. Learn to use a compass
  20. make a fascinator hat
  21. watch a sunrise from my back porch
  22. go one whole day with no nagging, judging or ordering my husband
  23. have a dinner party with ridiculous 1950’s housewife food (even if the only person I invite is my friend Todd).
  24. re-learn how to multiply and divide fractions
  25. learn to play a song on the ukelele
  26. memorize the Ten Commandments
  27. Buy all produce for one week at the farmer’s market
  28. drink 8 full 8 oz. glasses of water in one day
  29. learn to tie a tie
  30. make my own laundry soap
  31. try goat milk
  32. join an “of the month” club
  33. finish my craft area
  34. make funnel cake
  35. get a fire extinguisher
  36. learn to convert Celsius and farenheit
  37. do a grammar review
  38. learn about blood pressure so I know what it means when they tell me what it is at the dr.’s office
  39. read up on how many servings of each food group we are supposed to have each day and do exactly that one day
  40. find out how much cholesterol, fat, sodium we are supposed to have in a day and compare with what I actually ate
  41. make ketchup from scratch
  42. Build up a pantry storage of food
  43. learn to cut a snowflake
  44. take a bubble bath
  45. make butter
  46. wear dresses for a whole week
  47. take the money I was going to spend on something I wanted and put it in a jar for 2 weeks. Then give that money to a charity.
  48. mail someone an unexpected and fun package
  49. make smores
  50. learn all the birthstones
  51. research what stars are in the sky and find them one night
  52. pickle something
  53. play jacks
  54. make up a new cookie recipe (at least try)- or, as the case may be, make a cake recipe
  55. make a melon basket
  56. join NPR
  57. find the perfect pair of red shoes
  58. get dual citizenship for me and my girls
  59. roller skate in my driveway (if I can find my skates…59b. find skates)
  60. try to figure out exactly what inflation is/means
  61. make fruit loop necklaces with my daughter Zelda
  62. write a haiku about bacon
  63. take a cool family portrait
  64. make a blanket fort with my kids
  65. go to See’s Candy and handpick a box of chocolates for myself
  66. learn all the countries in Europe
  67. enter a recipe contest
  68. develop the perfect burger
  69. write down my 20 favorite things about my husband
  70. make a list of my top 50 songs
  71. eliminate paper towel use at home (except for extremely disgusting, must throw away immediately or burn the item afterwards messes)
  72. Go on a picnic
  73. write all the lyrics to the vegetarian cowboy song
  74. sew a piece of clothing entirely by hand (no sewing machine)
  75. call a friend I never talk to
  76. make homemade ice cream with no ice cream maker
  77. put up a clothes line
  78. find my dream coat
  79. smoke something (I mean like a meat, not a cigarette). BBQ!
  80. get up at 6am for one week
  81. buy some clip on hair extensions
  82. make reusable sandwich/snack bags
  83. see two movies in one day
  84. go on a weekend vacation to a place I have never been
  85. read a Pulitzer prize winning play
  86. learn to build a fire
  87. buy stock in a company that is developing the fuel made by algae
  88. take no waste/trash lunches to work for one week
  89. wear red lipstick for a week
  90. put $2 in a jar every time I finish one of these things and spend my $202 on something frivolous
  91. have a murder mystery party
  92. plant an avocado tree at my house
  93. get a bikini wax
  94. make tamales from scratch
  95. watch someone else’s favorite movie
  96. watch a whole movie on the phone with my best friend
  97. make homeade soft pretzels
  98. read a biography/autobiography
  99. Learn some string tricks like that cat in a cradle thing
  100. complete a paint by number painting
  101. Learn all of the supreme court justices and what they stand for
By the way, these don't have to be done in any particular order and I reserve the right to replace any item if I suddenly decide it is STOOPID.*

More soon,

p.s. Items in yellow have been completed.
*#'s 93 and 86 have changed. I just got a new car so I don't need a detail and I received a micro loan gift certificate for Christmas from the B4e (BFF for those of you who don't get that) and so I thought I would change it to something I haven't done.
p.s.s. some of the other items have changed too. I felt pressure to complete the list with interesting items and now I am going back and really putting in stuff I have been wanting to do.