My Shot

My obsession with “Hamilton” is absolute.

Today, the ‘Hamilton Mixtape’ was released.  I got on the train at 6.47am and hurriedly downloaded on Apple ITunes.  (I would have pre-ordered, but J and I have a family plan, and his card is attached to the account … which means I don’t know the security code.  Probably a good thing!)

From the very first second, I felt like my heart was going to explode with happiness and love.

I don’t know what it was about “Hamilton” that totally captured me on April 11th of this year.  I don’t know what even inspired me to listen to it.  Possibly the many posts on social media from my old theatre school mates raving about this new phenomenon.  It felt as though the whole world was coming down with ‘Hamilton Fever.’

The Mixtape is so interesting.  Part of the appeal of “Hamilton” is the idea that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a Broadway musical using the influence of hip hop (about a founding father nonetheless).  When I listened to the musical, it was so fresh and new — it dug it’s hooks into you, and didn’t let go.  The Mixtape is full of hip hop artists covering MUSICAL THEATRE SONGS.  I mean — first, how awesome?!? And then — it doesn’t get much nerdier than that.  Who would have thought? Each song is better than the last — each new interpretation adds dimension to songs I’ve been listening to for months.  Musical theatre is relevant again — in a big way.  I mean, the artists on this album –wow.

I cannot rave enough.  I really can’t.  What a great gift for a meds Friday.

 

moments in life

I chug green smoothies on my drive to the train station.

I’m never up early enough to drink it before flying out the door, my arms overflowing with keys, phone, wallet, lunch, kombucha, a scarf and coat, umbrella  … and also something absurdly random that is (of course) desperately necessary.

This morning, as I flew down Romansville toward the Thorndale train station, the fog coming in great puffs across the blackened road, I laughed at how much I concentrate on finishing my smoothie.  It’s a morning challenge for the ages.  In general, making the train is a morning challenge for the ages.  But I seem to do it, most mornings, against all odds.  I call that adulting.

Yesterday I slunk down to my bicycle (sitting innocently enough in our garage). I eyed it up. For what seems like forever, the fatigue has been overwhelming (it’s meds week) and my brain has been fuzzy, too full and unfocused.  I didn’t want to exercise.  I wanted to stay in pajamas, watching endless episodes of “Gilmore Girls.” (I’ve just begun watching them, and routinely wonder why I never watched them before … I am in love).  

I knew I would feel better.  But I was feeling agitated.  Fussy and unmotivated.  I didn’t want to listen to “Kitchen Confidential” (my current audible.com book). I began it because my husband loves it, and while it is highly enjoyable, I deal with restaurants daily at work and don’t always want to spend time in them for fun.  Especially the seedy underbelly that any lifer is intimately familiar with.

I’ve listened to “Hamilton” nearly exclusively since April.  And it’s great to work out to.  But I wanted a story, something to distract me from the blinking lights and the display slowly accumulating minutes and miles.  Usually, “Hamilton” is great for that.  It’s a story.  But it’s a story I’ve heard so many times recently, that I know it inside and out.  I zone out now when the inclines get tough.  I’m no longer distracted.

I love musical theatre — any musical theatre really — because it’s a story set to music.

When I first began listening to ‘Hamilton’ at work, a woman in my office was shocked and surprised I hadn’t seen it.  She laughed, said she got into musical theatre after seeing the show — but she couldn’t listen to the music before that.  It had no context.

I’m not like that.  My most favorite musicals — the West End version of “Chess” and “Hamilton” — are both musicals I have never seen.  But I don’t need to.  I can get lost in the story, in the music, without ever seeing an actress or actor perform a single song.  The art of musical theatre — sustaining a narrative through song — it’s beautiful and difficult to get right.  (I’ve seen some bad musical theatre).

I rode my bicycle to “Hamilton.”  It wasn’t a bad ride.  I did feel better afterwards.  And I got lost in the story all over again.

Septa is on strike.

Which means that after the Herculean effort that they put forward to get back to our regular schedule following the July pulling of the Silverliner cars — we’re right back where we were before.  And it’s even worse during rush hour at night.  Total chaos.

The 6.50am Great Valley Flier is a local train this morning.  Making every stop on the way to the city.  It’s supposed to be a “Flier”.  It’s not.  Running about 10 minutes late, and counting.

It means that tomorrow, I will have to drive to University City for my medicine, or I won’t get there in time.

I need the trains to be on time, and on schedule again.  Please.  Someone.  Somewhere.  This is excruciating.

 

 

new directions

Whether or not we all mean to, I think New Year brings out the contemplative in us all.  It’s a time of reflection of time passed, but also a new beginning ~ a time to look forward and try to make better, smarter and more authentic choices every day.

I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older ~ grown up shall we say? ~ my thoughts have wandered from semi-superficial (lose weight, watch less TV) to more cerebral.

The husby made an excellent point yesterday as we dined with my parents and toasted 2014.  Very matter-of-factly, he explained the pressure we have put on the past two years ~ 2012 is going to be the best year … 2013 is going to be the best year ever …. And guess what?  Neither 2012 or 2013 were the best years.  They just weren’t.

He and I have talked … endlessly, really … about making changes to enhance the quality of our lives.  Not so much a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ but more like making smarter choices.  LIfe brought a lot of changes for us this past year ~ there were highs and there were lows.  We got married, which was such an exciting, incredible and meaningful choice ~ and we spent the beginning part of 2013 very focused on making that happen.  I was also diagnosed with MS, broke my foot and have struggled through flares and three (count ’em!) medicines in less than 10 months.  Additionally, work has been a rollercoaster for both of us.  His company was bought, and my restaurant is finally opening our second location (!!!!).

But beyond that, when you are busy and stressed and trying to juggle endless balls in the air ~ sometimes (oftentimes?) you forget about yourself.  To eat well, to take care of yourself, to sleep, to nourish your soul.  That idea is at the root of our decision to begin making gradual changes in how we live.

I think our Christmas presents to each other are a perfect example.  Two large boxes sat wrapped beneath our tree leading up to Christmas Day.  We were spending the holiday at home, by ourselves, and for the first time since our first Christmas, we got each other gifts.  On Christmas morning, we each opened packages containing instruments ~ a guitar for him, a keyboard for me.  We’d begun to lose ourselves in adulthood ~ work, grocery shopping, family obligations…..  Outside interests, creativity ~ those things were forgotten, buried in the shuffle.

We had chosen ~ not long ago ~ that our future as a couple didn’t include starting a family and having children.   It wasn’t an easy discussion, and it wasn’t in any way an easy decision.  But now that it’s made, we are here, standing at the beginning of our married journey.  And making choices to life a fulfilled life is inherently important.

We’ve tried to recognize the things we are passionate about ~ music (and we cover the spectrum of styles!), travel, film and movies, food and wine.  Above most things, food.  Cooking it, learning about it, dining at restaurants where boundaries are pushed, and flavors are magnificent discoveries.  (Can I just mention that we ate a dish on Christmas Eve ~ sea urchin highlighted by soft scrambled eggs and cream …. man, I want to go have that again!) 

Thinking about these passions and how to live our lives so we can enjoy the things we love ~ that’s been a journey, as well.  So I have to say that I don’t have any true resolutions ~ I just want to be true to myself, to my soul, to my mind, to my values.  I want to take care of myself, and treat my body well.  And I want to remember who I am outside of work, who I am to my husband, my puppy, my family and friends.  And I hope that I can also stay true to myself in my decisions and choices.  I think that’s getting easier as I get older, because I think I know myself better and am more confident in who I am.

As Marilla once told Anne of Green Gables ~ “Tomorrow is a new day.  With no mistakes in it yet.”

the beatles

When I was younger, I would play my parents vinyl Beatles albums and lie beneath the record player, speakers blaring into my ears.  I loved the soft sound of Paul’s soothing voice, the magical way George played the guitar, John’s whimsy and brilliance and Ringo’s … well, Ringo.  You could tell that Ringo didn’t take himself too seriously, and he was probably always smiling.

Today, which hasn’t been my best day, I found myself humming Beatles’ songs, and I found it comforting, amidst the confusion of my mind.  Since I don’t have anything truly constructive to share except I’m having a bad MS day, I thought I’d share my ‘rainy day’ mantra.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom… Let It Be.”  

And I hope she does.

musical theatre

Have you ever loved something so much it encompassed your entire life?  You lived, dreamed, slept, ate and breathed it?

I did.

I was a musical theatre nerd.  For real.  As in, I didn’t even know any radio hits until I got to college and  met people who liked music that didn’t have Original London Cast and Broadway Cast Recording versions.  (This might be a slight exaggeration, but only slight.  My music collection was every Andrew Lloyd Weber production ever, and a myriad of other musicals including most of the Rogers & Hammerstein library, Showboat, Chess -London Cast only -, Godspell, etc etc).  

I loved singing, dancing and being on stage more than anything.  I took dance classes, had voice lessons, participated in every show in my high school.  I was ‘Glee’.  And I went to college for musical theatre.

Where I proceeded to spectacularly crash and burn.  There were a lot of factors, none of which are important enough to revisit fourteen years later, but my freshman year was a hot mess.  My sophomore year, I dropped from the musical theatre program to ‘just’ the theatre program, and proceeded to cut every part of musical theatre out of my life.

I’m serious.  I mean, I’ve never even heard the whole “Wicked” soundtrack, let alone seen the show.  My high school self would be appalled with me.

I have friends who have been on Broadway, and whose voices are gifts from God.  When they sing, you can’t help but be transported somewhere better.  I see their success and am so unbelievably happy for them.  And unbelievably disappointed in myself.

Which is why, when I discovered ‘Glee’ online last week, it wasn’t my best day.  I watched the season finale from last year, and the season premiere from this season, and I almost felt transported back to 1998 and all the good and bad of the hopes and dreams and utter disappointment that followed my own graduation from high school and matriculation at college.

I don’t have anyone to blame for my failure to pursue my dream except myself.  Somewhere along the line, I lost my confidence and my drive.  Looking back as a stronger, hardened-by-life adult, I can see where things went wrong for me.  It’s sad.  But it’s also life.  The thing that finally watching ‘Glee’ (I avoided it for a very long time for this exact reason) did for me was to remind me that at one point in my life, I had drive and passion for something.  I wanted something more, and not only did I want it, I believed I could achieve it.  I think that’s what makes the people who succeed get there ~ enough arrogance combined with self-confidence and blinders to keep on pushing when everyone is saying no.

I wish I’d had that.  But wishing doesn’t really get a person anywhere, does it? 🙂

 

when music makes your heart smile

Every once in awhile I come across some music that just makes my whole world feel better, no matter how eeyore of a day it is.  Since my nearly new Macbook has gotten sick and is currently checked into rehab (aka the Apple Genius Bar), blogging for the next few days may prove challenging.  I figured I’d share something happy to perk myself up.  My newest playlist obsession.

Nicknamed “Hart of Dixie” since a lot of the songs I first heard there ~ it consists of the following …

~~~~

As Good As I Once Was 

~ Toby Keith (Honkytonk University)

I smile like a giddy child EVERY time this comes on (and on a short playlist like this, it comes on a lot!).  I then manage to belt out every work with a twang, still smiling and giggling like a little kid.  I love this song.

Run (feat. Sugarland)

~ Matt Nathanson (Modern Love)

This song gives me butterflies, and I love Jennifer Nettles’ harmonization on the chorus.  Plus, she’s got a kick*ss voice.

This Love

~FM Radio (Out of the Blue)

Just a sweet song ~ I feel like I should be driving a pick-up through the country on a sunny day with the windows rolled down every time I listen to it.  Heart, heart, heart.

A Woman Like You

~ Lee Brice (Hard 2 Love)

Speaking of driving a pick-up on a sunny day with the windows all the way down … the man and I first heard this song driving home from our Memorial Day weekend camping trip, and the lyrics just got me right.here.  I hope that the man feels about me the way Lee  Brice feels about his lady in this song.  Beautiful.

Touch

~Josh Abbott Band (Small Town Family Dream)

I just like this song.  And it was part of my fav ep of the season ~ had.to.have.it.

The Trouble with Girls

~ Scotty McCreery (Clear As Day)

Okay, so I don’t watch American Idol (which a lot of people find weird since I love to sing so much) buuuuut…  I never really got into it.  I first saw Scotty McCreery on Hart of Dixie and was blown away that a guy who looks like him has a voice like his.  Plus, this is just a really sweet song.

~~~~

Yes, only six songs, but you may recall that I’m a repeater, so I quite enjoy listening to the same songs over … and over … and over again.  🙂 Hope you’re listening to something that perpetually makes you smile.

 

 

soundtrack of my life

Y’know when you read those articles in magazines where a celebrity is asked random questions?  And of course, you find their answers interesting, but more selfishly, you think about what you’d say? (Or, it’s just me!).  Either way, EW has a column called ‘Soundtrack of my Life,’ and I really want to share my answers.

That, and music makes me think of road trips, and we have one today.  Heading north and west, toward the man’s hometown for Mother’s Day.  It’s very relaxing being up in the mountains.  Of course, I miss certain commodities of being near a big city (Starbucks, anyone?) ~ but a few days decompressing is good for anyone.

Using my most recent EW magazine (Entertainment Weekly ~ I’ve probably had a subscription for 10 years ~ it’s my utter favorite), here is the “Soundtrack of my Life.”

1.  The first song I was obsessed with: This is a tough one.  I’m what you might call a ‘repeater’ ~ meaning I can listen to something over and over and over again.  I remember being obsessed with the British “Chess” soundtrack when I was young ~ and “Cats” even more so (…Memories, all alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days, I was beautiful thenoh, Elaine Paige, you are my hero).  In my teens, during a blizzard that stranded people in their homes for a few days, I remember listening to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack on repeat for hours while writing “the next great American novel” (haha).  I am not sure how much stock to put into that, as I think I was also obsessed with Jeremy Jordan at the time, and “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors. (Does everything from the early 90’s make me want to cringe?)

2. The album that reminds me of my first love: I have two.  “Rocky Horror Picture Show”soundtrack (this probably deserves a blog post all by itself) and Phish’s double CD live album.  My high school boyfriend loved Phish, and we listened to “Bouncing ‘Round the Room” a lot.  Every time I hear that song, I think of my old house in Wyo and my high school boyfriend in 1997.  Craziness.

3. My favorite soundtrack album: While a tough call, I say that “Footloose” (the real one, not the re-make) narrowly edges out “Dirty Dancing” by half of a quarter of a fraction of a nose.  At the end of my senior year, my girlfriends and I drove around, feeling like ‘queens of the world’ listening to ‘Holding Out for a Hero.”  It was like the soundtrack of my high school graduation.  Every song rocks.

4. A song I love that people might not expect: “The Real Slim Shady.”  I am a huge Eminem fan.  His second album, “The Marshal Mathers LP” ~ I’m pretty sure that every song is ridic.  And by “pretty sure” ~ I mean, the man is an utter genius.  ** Additionally, I absolutely love a song called “Love is Dead” by Mad Sin ~ a rockabilly group I was introduced to a little after I graduated from college.  Yes.  I went through a punk phase.

5. My favorite song to play air guitar: How can a person not say “November Rain”?  That moment, when Slash is ripping it outside a tiny little chapel in the middle of nowhere?  We all wanted to be him.  Well, anyone of my generation, that is.  True story.

6. My favorite break-up song: “That I Would Be Good,” by Alanis Morrisette.  She reigned supreme for all aspects of break-ups, and always seems to sing in a minor key, making the music sad and haunting.  And “There’s No Need to Argue” by the Cranberries.  I get chills just thinking about how a person can wallow in sadness listening to that song.

7. My favorite hip-hop song: “Gold Digger.” Kanye.  Or … “Hey Ya,” Outkast.  I have a ton of memories with Gold Digger as the soundtrack, but the memories of blasting Outkast with my new roomie in State College and making up our own lyrics while decorating our apartment?  Priceless.  Even now, when I hear “Hey Ya” and the line “You know we’re not happy here” I finish it up with “….at 211 Amblewood Way” and think of Sonia and her convertible.  Great memories.

8. My favorite love song: “Something” by the Beatles.  It’s utterly gorgeous in every way.  George Harrison = genius.

9. My favorite 12 a.m. jukebox song: This is an easy one.  “Don’t Stop Believing.”  I was managing a restaurant and a banquet booked a karaoke machine.  When all the customers were gone, and work was done, all the employees grabbed a beer and we blasted Journey while hanging on the outside patio.  One of my favorite memories from that job.

10. My go-to karaoke songs: Oh boy.  Top 3: ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ because I do a mean Cher, ‘Goodbye Earl’ because I adore the Dixie Chicks and always will, and 3. ‘Killin Me Softly’ … because I’m trapped in a world where the Fugees are still making music (or, covering a Roberta Flack song, as in this case!).

11. The band I’m currently obsessed with: Twenty-four hours ago, I would 100% have said Mumford & Sons (the man and I even looked into go to the Rockness Music Festival in Loch Ness ~  Sidenote: It’s cray-cray expensive to fly to Scotland in June!). But right now this very minute?  I cannot stop listening to Florence + the Machine.  The woman is ah-may-zing.  Seriously. Shake It Out.

12. The song that makes me think of my love: “Walking In Memphis.” When we first moved in together, we started introducing each other to television shows we liked.  The man was a big fan of America’s Got Talent, and he showed me clips of one of the contestants singing “Walking In Memphis.” It sort of became our song ~ and every time it comes on, I get butterflies in my stomach and immediately look for him with a goofy grin on my face.  Love it.