Monday, February 21, 2011

Gimme That Talk

I listen to a lot of music.

Maybe this isn't sinking in yet. My iPod is literally bursting at the electronic seams from how many songs get rotated on it on a near-daily basis. With my recently-shortened attention span since graduating from college and general fear I might die without having heard Beck's entire discography, I listen to music as often as possible, whenever, wherever. I create new Pandora stations at work nonstop, download a disturbingly high number of songs on the weekends (at my peak it was over 200 songs. my peak, it should be noted, was last weekend), and generally tend to live life with my earbuds anchored safely in my ears.

I have a social life. I swear.

Music has charted my journey into growing up. You know the phrase, "soundtrack to my life?" I have soundtracks and playlists for every moment. Certain musicians define my age, my attitude at the time, and the environment around me. From the age of birth to 10 or so, my parents began my music education with The Beatles, Annie Lennox, Pet Shop Boys, Prince, Elton John, and Led Zeppelin. Not too shabby. Then I started moving myself in my own direction.

Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, singing off-key into my hairbrush at 11.
The Cure, Marilyn Manson, and Cradle of Filth, sullen and blackened-soul poetry writing at 13.
"Heather, I was at Best Buy and nobody there has heard of Paul van Dyk or Felix da Housecat." Getting my mom to buy me electronic DJ's at 15.
Liv Kristine from Leaves Eyes, made me believe in voices of angels on my 16th birthday.
Arcade Fire, the Holy Grail journey to graduation from high school, at 18.
The Smiths, lighting the first day and drive in California, at 20.
Depeche Mode, hello college girl who loves her '80s collection when she writes reports and does projects at 22.

This list barely begins to cover it, but that's the discography life for you. Is it perfect? Was my taste forever impeccable and beyond its years? Hell no. I listened to what I liked and my interests changed non-stop. Today I might like mellowing out to Massive Attack, tomorrow it might be some obscure record by Dimitri from Paris, or I might even put on some terribly guilty good Ke$ha pop.

You grow, evolve, change with music. I used to worry I wouldn't be able to hear all of it or enough of it to satisfy my insatiable need.

Then came Girl Talk.

Girl Talk is all of the best nights of your life rolled into 16 tracks. Every dance you ever got down to, every song you hummed or drunk karaoke'd. The mix you wished existed to make those high school dances so much less awkward and the one you won't ever forget. It's the contents of your iPod, your dream playlist, all of the songs you thought you forgot about, and the ones you never could.

Mixed together by Gregg Michael Gillis (who's a really cute guy that needs his face on more printed publications ASAP), each song is one big mashup of the most unlikely pairings. Lil Mama and Metallica? Missy Elliot and Nu Shooz? The Cranberries, M.I.A., Nirvana, and Kanye West all together now? Done, done, done. It works and more than just sounding great, it's the future of music to me. Hear everything all at once and take it in, but don't dwell on one hook for 4-5 minutes. Mix it up and keep it coming.

Once you go Girl Talk, you just don't go back.

Take a listen for yourself...

Love to you all,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

S.A.D. (The Other Valentine's White Meat)

This week I started to notice a pink pattern on my Tumblr. Observe:

Peonies. One of my favorite flowers actually. No problems here.

Pink wine. One of my favorite shades for alcohol, along with clear and red and that amber shade you find in Manhattans and Red Bulls and vodka, if you mix it just right. Again, no complaints.

What we have here is a young woman attempting to push a huge pile of pink wrapped presents. And since the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show (it deserves the caps, trust me) and Breast Cancer Awareness month have come and gone, this can only be pointing one arrow directly to the next holiday approaching that uses up the Tickle-Me-Pink crayon to a nub...

Valentine's Day.

"Valentine's Day is the lone major holiday of February, expected to tide us over until St. Patrick's Day in March. On this day, we can watch those in love celebrate their love by buying chocolate even though their New Year's Resolution said otherwise and watching a sappy romance flick starring the likes of Julia Roberts, Matthew McConaughey and Meg Ryan."

-actual quote from an article I wrote 3 years ago for my community college newspaper. It got published.

The girls I work with in my copywriting department at work are really sweet, genuinely kind people. One in particular, Renee, is one of the nicest girls I've had the pleasure of meeting. About a week ago, she gave me a Valentine's Day card that she made herself, a pop-up card at that. It came accompanied by a little note.

Treat yourself this Valentine's Day to something special-you don't need a man to complete you!

It's important to point out that at work, I'm a token. Token single girl in a sea of long-term relationship and married girls. Society loves to point this out and tries its very best to guide me in the direction of Noah's Ark pairings, but I'm really good about fighting and digging my feet into the ground against this belief.

This isn't to say I don't believe in love. Of course I do. People who don't believe in love...not sure about those types. I'm just a different type of romantic than most girls. As a little girl, I idolized Cinderella and had this dream (the sleeping kind) very early on that I met my Prince Charming. However, I'm bipolar in this belief in the fact that I not only thought prom was stupid and refused to participate in it, but I also do not aspire to get married or have children. My parents have been married my entire life and the longest relationship I ever had lasted 3 months (not even that). In high school, a girl I barely knew diagnosed me with having "commitment issues" and damnit if she wasn't right. I kind of imagined that the ole love life might get better in college, but haha, did that ever not happen. I mean, look at the quote I wrote up there. Still sums up my feelings for this day 3 years later.

With less than a week to go before I head off to a very big wedding celebration, and about 4 more months until the lease is up on my lovely apartment, I've been doing some thinking. Thinking that has been growing steadily more thoughtful over the past few months. If you know me, you might know that when I discuss "thinking" or "doing thoughtful thinking" it's related to me making a big decision in my life.

My thought, for now, is that I want to move overseas for some time.

Scratch the "for now" bit. I think it's fair to say I've wanted this for a really long time. And no, I wouldn't be moving because there aren't any guys in my life here or because of petty arguments with family members or friends or even our current economic state (you really can't escape debt, no matter what foreign shores you decide to take citizenship in). I've often felt like a big puzzle with a bunch of pieces missing. I found some of them when I was in college, but not all of them and deep down, I knew I wouldn't find them all. It just isn't possible. But the fact is, I found some which is incredible to me and led me to pursue more dreams I had in my heart I didn't think I would get to.

And here we are, single, solo, but still very happy nonetheless.

My theory is I'm a lot like Elizabeth Gilbert of the Eat, Pray, Love book fame. Her journey was to get divorced and out of an unhealthy relationship and travel the world for a better perspective and self-discovery.

Though my journey is much more different in the sense that I'm not married, definitely broke and should not be in pursuit of living overseas when I can barely afford to live in my own seas, and not in pursuit of spiritual awakening. I had that already and I call it Arcade Fire's Funeral album. You're welcome.

Still, self-discovery via double-decker buses! Picking up more of the puzzle pieces to completing a full Heather with at Big Ben! Is it obvious I crave London the most? England is where the majority of my ancestors came from so it's only natural to feel a bond, a tie, a love for this place I've never been but feel I need to be at if I want to unlock my true self. Something extraordinary waits for me there. It's the kind of feeling that goes through your bones and swims through your bloodstream.

I have a gut feeling that this journey, should I go all the way through with it, is going to be a labor of love. It will try and test me and push me to my very limit (though currently I'm not far from it now). Love is patient though and as many of my friends will tell you, I'm a patient person who's willing to see the best in people and give them a try and second chances.

And of course, in the event of any life journey I take on, full makeout details with hot guys with accents will be recorded for your reading pleasure. Once more, you're welcome.

Just doin' my part for all the singles out there.

Whether you refer to it as V-Day (in tribute to D-Day), V.D. ( a hilarious sex gag joke never steers us wrong) or S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day...oh c'mon now people, this is starting to get ridiculous), you can't go wrong with funny cards. See above and below for inspiration.

Choo-choo choosing you.

Love to you all,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This is a Lion's Mane Jellyfish, the largest jellyfish ever discovered. It's bell (body) is 7 feet and 6 inches in diameter. The tentacles are over 120 feet long.


The sea never fails to fascinate me. Who knows what other wild and wonderful creatures exist deep down there?

Love to you all,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Heroes & Heroines

Whenever people ask me who inspires me, I used to draw a blank. I find inspiration in random objects on the street more often than with people. In the last week alone, I found a queen of spades playing card and a tampon while walking to work (I kept the card for luck, for all logical reasons left the tampon where it was) I remember reading this book when I was in middle school, one of those girl-power, self-help for the under 15 year old set books written by preteen girls. Every girl contributing to the book had a hero in distinguished individuals including Hilary Clinton, Michelle Kwan, and Kate Winslet. To a lesser known, but still important extent, they also cited their mothers, best friends, and grandmothers on this list (it should be noted none of the contributing writers had a male hero). All the while I'm reading I thought, "I don't admire any of these people. None of them inspire me."

What I get more often than not, rather than inspiration, is encouragement from the people I admire. My family and friends are at the root of this. Nobody I know is going to tell me, "If you dream it, you can be it!" or "Shoot for the stars!" or any other cheesy motivational slogan that you only semi-believed when you were 10. The people who surround me are more pragmatic than sugar-coated. They won't hold my hand through life when I take the strides I need to in order to grow up, call me out whenever I'm particularly self-centered, and refuse to sympathize with me over issues that I consider to be core meltdown-esque difficulties. These same people, though realistic, are also optimistic. A bad event, even one you don't think you can recover from fully, is always viewed as a blessing in disguise. The pros generally outweigh the cons and as is my best way of coping with any trouble, laughter and clever wordplay can get you through the grayest of days.

I've given it some mulling around in the cranium and discovered that indeed I do have a few heroes and heroines. One is a comedian who's just as well know for his signature poof of hair as he is with his snark and impeccably timed wit. One is an author who dreamed a dream of getting married to an English prince and made a journey of near-Biblical (or 20-something idealist) proportions to get to London. One isn't even real, but speaks for everyone I know, young and old, in her smart and sharp narrative in 5 books chronicling her life.

Conan O'Brien

Team Coco for life. I grew up on his writing for The Simpsons (Jub Jub forever), stayed up late every evening for his Late Night show cheering when New State Quarters or Cactus Chef showed up on the screen, and even got to see him live when he did the Tonight Show.

He made me laugh all of the time. The kind of laughter where you cried and your cheek muscles ache from arching upward for an hour straight. To me, this is something not many people that I don't know personally can do. I like comedians and enjoy watching Larry David's TV shows, Chris Rock's stand-up, and think that Aries Spears and Debra Wilson by all rights should have a TV show by now, but even with these people, I don't laugh all of the time. There's time for pause which is some cases can extend itself longer than welcome. Mr. O'Brien, just by pretending to swim or flipping his orange puff of hair to the side, got me giggling like a schoolgirl every time.

He worked hard and did not get anything handed to him in life (a recurring trait in all of the heroes & heroines I have on my list). In fact, he got stripped of certain moments in life that were rightfully his. Through these moments, Conan still remained wholly optimistic and humble, defining everything he received as good fortune. You may not get what you want, but through simple kindness, the rewards will arrive in spades.

And as of right now, we can watch him goof and joke on his own show on TBS, Conan,
Just like old times.

Jerramy Fine

My Dad recommended I read her book about three years ago. I filed it into my Amazon wish list and later on dug it out when I got to my university and ordered it. Since that moment, it's gotten ratty and dog-eared, but I won't travel anywhere without "Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess."

Jerramy is a woman with a plan: leave Colorado for London in order to marry Prince Peter Philips. This dream begins early on and leads her to attend undergrad at the University of Rochester where she studies aboard as an intern at the House of Commons. Once school is over, Jerramy decides to brave her student loan debt to further push toward living in England and getting one step closer to Peter by attending the London School of Economics. This plan is not as easy as it seems, with many moments of beautiful but flighty boys, less than ideal flatmates and living situations, and the worry over getting a work permit approved both simultaneously drawing her closer and further from her dreams than ever before.

As a writer, Jerramy's voice is easy to relate to and completely charming to follow. I admire her spirit, her belief that something good was always coming and to simply never give up and work hard to achieve that dream. She reminds me of a modern-day Cinderella. Fine has her moments of doubt and documented in the book, these moments are the ones where I feel like I'm standing in her (glass) slippers. It's only natural to doubt the impulses, the feelings we have, and whether or not we're doing the right thing after all. Her heart longed for London and even though the journey isn't fully over, it's one I understand utterly.

If she writes a follow-up book, you know where I'll be...

Jessica Darling

"I know it sounds depressing, but it’s actually pretty damn funny, too. Like life." Jessica has long been my biggest heroine since 2006 when I stumbled upon the second book in the series dedicated to her, Second Helpings. Even reading the sequel with not much of a background on the first book, I instantly jumped into her world of being stuck in dull suburbia with best friend Hope having moved and only the Clueless Crew (her nickname for her airheaded 'quote unquote friends') being her remaining alternative to a social life. Jessica is strong and outspoken. She runs for cross country even though she hates it and writes a well-received column for her newspaper that she puts more of her heart into than she admits.

Throughout the course of the five books, Jessica grows up. In essence, I was along for the ride on that one. She graduates from high school, goes on to college, graduates, takes on the tough after-period of life after college, and eventually does become a success in her own right. Her relationships with her family, friends, and long-term boyfriend Marcus Flutie are put through the ringer time and time again. She never loses her snarky pop-culture infused voice, but gradually throughout the books her voice matures in only the way that time, experience, and perspective can give you. Her battles shift from month to month, as recorded in her journal style entries and grow deeper one month only to jump to less-difficult and more silly in only the way life can give you the next.

I know I say it often, but it simply cannot be said enough. In the world of teenage literature today and even five years ago when Jessica was enrolling in Columbia, she's the smartest, most introspective and keen, witty young protagonist of the Youtube generation depicted on the printed page. Hip enough to be a hipster but even hipper to mock the system and do things her own way.

Throughout my life, I've been given the luck of having lots of great older girlfriends who served as role models for shaping me into the girl I would later become. Kate in high school who was a year older than me, would dramatically impact my sense of style in later years to come. Roxy and Betty, my two college-age managers at Panera Bread (also in high school) would inspire me to push forward with attending the university I later did, even though back then I didn't need much pushing because I already knew it was kind of destiny. And Moriah, my old boss with my internship with Fender who in so many ways I can hardly count them all was like looking at my future self in 5 years. Alongside all of these real women, I have to include the fictional Jessica. She's just as real as any person could be in my eyes.

My kinda heroine.

This has been the post of the century.

Love to you all,