The Non-Definitive Guide To Life

If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with rain" - Dolly Parton

Posts for LISTEN Category

Girl In Red & other melodies

LISTEN - April 16, 2021

My favorite discovery this past month, outside of Waterloo strawberry sparkling water, has been Girl In Red. The project of Norwegian singer-songwriter and record producer Marie Ulven. When I heard her tracks Serotonin and Summer Depression, it was like hearing the lines of my adolescent diary entries woven into a bright bopping melody. Girl In Red is refreshingly earnest, capturing the truth of what it feels like to cope with depression while avoiding the recreation of a post-punk drone that mirrors the feeling and feeds the bottomless pit. I wish I had her music to play on repeat as I stared up at my ceiling filled with self-loathing and anxiety, ruminating about if this feeling would ever go away. Perhaps the audio rainbow could have helped me feel less alone while also cutting through the fog.

Music has the power to illustrate the complex emotional landscape one is navigating, either through lyrics or the notes that reverberate off our eardrums and resonate within our souls. Songs act as beacon lights, a north star to describe the feelings we lack the vocabulary to name.

It’s been two years since my last long-term depressive episode and over a decade since I’ve felt defenseless in my ability to confront my mental health struggles. Thankfully, I’ve gained tools and learned strategies that help me hear Serotonin and Summer Depression and feel connected without feeling the emotions. Girl In Red’s library is filled with songs that perfectly illustrate nuanced emotions like longing, nerves, falling in love, regret, and more. All those emotions that make life so painfully delicious and rich with meaning.

Also, highly recommend listening to “WTF is Self Care” by Open Mike Eagle — it’s pure poetry.

Continue Reading

It’s 2021, let’s catch up!

LISTEN, SNAIL MAIL - March 1, 2021

A quick status report of where I’m at today, and 2021 thus far…

Feel free to read it all or scroll to the section of maximum interest.

HUSTLE & FLOW

Back in September 2020, after an innocent conversation I was having with a friend over Instagram voice messages caused me to spiral into a full-blown panic attack, I realized I should hire an expert in emotions to help me move past some major blocks I had been experiencing. At the top of 2020, before the pan dulce, I was extremely agitated when I’d sit down to set goals and have to push through the extraneous stress to even open up my imagination for envisioning a life I’d want to cultivate. I’ve always been a “figure it out as you go type of person” because, at some point in my past, that was what I learned for survival. My emotional brain has struggled to evolve past immediate needs and into being capable of working toward defining my own vision of success, especially when associated with my creative aspirations. In my perspective, my ambitions have thrived more professionally than personally because professions equate to income and stability. But even in that department, I’ve had my fair share of struggles. Since connecting with a professional life navigator, I’ve been able to shift and remove a few of my mental blocks. Allowing my brain to see new pathways for professional and personal fulfillment. I’m genuinely excited for this next chapter because I feel like I just may be equipped to achieve my idea of success for the first time. It doesn’t mean I don’t shake in my brocade boots or that the mean girls in my mind are in detention – but I’m able to acknowledge them and return to the yellow brick road laid in front of me.

Not ready to publicly share my specific goals and ambitions, but to those paying attention, you might start to see them manifest.

HEALTH & WELLNESS

The start of this year has been a little trying on my mental and physical health. Due to an overly ambitious holiday card project, I didn’t have time to set 2021 goals or make a 2021 vision board. Basically, apply all the great knowledge and insight I’d gained by doing the self-work I’d alluded to above. Seemingly innocent, except my inner critic would not let up how this lack of goal setting was a reflection of my self-worth. I fought back the mental bully while finishing up 30+ hand-painted ornament for friends and family. In addition to putting Christmas décor away because, after January 6th, formally cute turns to chaos and raises my cortisol levels.  Then the weekend, I’m finally getting everything wrapped up, Christmas tree is being deconstructed, and only six more holiday ornament packages need to be sent out – I come down with the rona. The panna cotta hit home. My husband works at a grocery store, and with the surge occurring in Los Angeles, everyone in his store eventually caught the virus. If you’re curious, I shared the full story on my Instagram the first weekend I felt recovered and saved it as a highlight labeled “storytime“. It’s a little all over the place, but you’ll get the gist.

My husband and I feel very fortunate that neither of us had to go to the hospital and are mostly back to normal. But we’re still experiencing some effects of Covid-19, like being easy to fatigue, and I have increased inflammation in my body, triggering a skin rash all over my abdomen.

EATS & DRINKS

After Covid-19 robbed me of my sense of taste and smell for about a week, I came out of the darkness with a fire in my belly, ready to indulge in all my favorites. Plus, it was my birthday, so I kicked off the top of February with cupcakes, pasta, Japanese fried chicken, ramen, sushi, and the decadence did not stop. My taste buds traveled to several countries from the comfort of my home. I don’t regret a single bite, but the excess and richness exacerbated my post-rona inflammation. Although cute, I’m not trying to have a skin suit that resembles a speckled robin’s egg for the rest of my life. Plus, who knows what damage the long-term inflammation can have on my body in the future, especially as I have a history of rheumatoid arthritis in my family.

So, I’m working on cutting out refined sugar (anything above >1% on the label), dairy, and most meats from my diet. Fortunately, I’ve been using Daily Harvest for a few months now as a quick meal solution on busy days. With this shift in my diet, I’ll be leaning harder on Daily Harvest as my Monday through Thursday breakfast, lunch, and dinner solution. I want to eliminate the window of opportunity for my brain to go, I’m not sure what to eat, or we don’t have anything to eat – so let’s get french fries and chicken strips. My goal here is to set myself up for success, which means knowing my weaknesses and countering them with fool-proof solutions. DH also helps manage food-waste in my home. A DH meal never goes to waste.  However, the fresh produce I purchased due to unrealistic expectations for myself cooking it before it spoils is an expensive and wasteful delusion.

I also picked up this SUPER cute Poketo Food Planner. It was sold out on Poketo’s website, but I found it on Nordstroms.com. I’ll be using it to plan what Daily Harvest meals I’ll be eating each day and what anti-inflammatory meals I want to cook for my legally bound life partner and me on the weekends. 

WATCH

HBOMax has been showing up with the light-hearted, feel-good content I’ve needed to escape the weight of 2021 thus far.

Selena + Chef

I’m a pretty big Selena Gomez fan, not going to go into it right now, but let’s just say if I need to stay awake on a long drive home – Selena is one of my go-to sing-a-long artists. I love the girl, so it surprising that it took so long to start watching Selena + Chef. But it was the perfect show to binge when I felt like absolute crap and needed some comfort television, consuming delicious episode after episode with talented chefs and Selena’s sweet determination to learn to cook. The tension is real; in one episode she came out wearing a sweater I thought was awful for cooking in (sleeves for days, kitchen hazard 101 – no loose sleeves), she never lit a sleeve on fire, BUT lots of other shenanigans go down.  For foodies and novice chefs, this is a fun show. I’ve been using the French omelet technique to cook eggs since watching episode 1.

Full Bloom

It’s a wholesome reality competition involving flowers. The contestants and judges were entertaining, but I was there mostly for the floral executions and occasional takeaway tips on playing with flowers at home. This reminds me, I want to pick up some tulips from Trader Joes this week.

Honorable Mentions:

The Great (Hulu)

Fun period piece, drama/comedy, featuring the occasionally true story of Katherine The Great. Costumes are opulent and gorgeous, and watching Katherine (Elle Fanning) navigate assimilation and rise to power in Russia is fascinating, although 99.9% fictional in its depiction. Discard the need for historical accuracy and go for the ride.

Crack (Netflix)

A fascinating documentary about the crack epidemic that is heartbreaking and blood-boiling, but I’m a firm believer in consuming content that expands one’s understanding of our society, country, and how the world operates. Documentaries allow for our continued education, helping us to paint a richer picture of our reality and the reality of those who do not have our same experiences.

ADD TO CART

I love fun-size candy and travel-size skincare. Skincare can be so expensive, so I rarely buy a full bottle of something if I can try it out first in a value/gift pack or travel size version.

Here is what I’ve explored recently all as travel sizes:

Sunday Riley

Good, I like it, nothing offensive – not sure if it’s doing anything, but might purchase cause it MAY be doing something just needs more time.

Love it, will defiantly be purchasing full-size product

OSEA

Also, while in a corona-fueled moment of cabin fever, I bought the Les Mieux’s Skin Perfecter, which is a $200* exfoliation tool. I really like it, and it’s totally satisfying for anyone that enjoys seeing gunk come out of their pores.

LISTEN [ Hyperlinks go to Spotify]

Music

Still making playlists, this year’s start has been light in development hitting around 40 – 45 mins for both monthly mixtapes.

2021 January Playlist

2021 February Playlist

This radio station has been my go to for the workday –

Mista Izm Radio

Podcasts

Good Word with Kirk Franklin  –  so far, he’s interviewed Pharrell Williams, H.E.R., and Chance the Rapper. Each conversation has provided nuggets of insight around the human experience, reflection on our relationship with God, faith, or church. Chance the Rapper educated me on Chicago’s segregation issues that added colors and context to the conversation around black on black crime. Great podcast – looking forward to more episodes.

Thanks for catching up with me! What have you’ve been eating, watching, listening to, or adding to cart? How have you been hustling and flowing? No winners or losers here, only wins and lessons – got any you want to get off your chest? Let me know in the comments.

Continue Reading

2020 NOV : 23 Songs, 1 HR 30 MIN

LISTEN - December 16, 2020

Top Four Songs of November:

“Two Sugars” – Matthew Bones

“Books About UFOs” – Hüsker Dü

” My Drug Buddy” – The Lemonheads

“Wordy Rappinghood” – Tom Tom Club

“New Big Prinz” – The Fall

Continue Reading

2020 Sept & Oct: 17 Songs, 1 hr 17 min

LISTEN - November 2, 2020

Top Four Songs of September & October:

“That’s How I Got To Memphis” – Tom T. Hall

“I Don’t Cry” – Payday

“Excuse Generator” – Lithics

“When You’re My Age” – Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose

Continue Reading

2020 AUGUST: 21 SONGS, 1 HR 36 MINS

LISTEN - September 13, 2020

Top Five August:

“Six Pack” – ESG

“Tezeta” – Mulatu Astatke

“En cavale” – Juniore

“What Is Love?” – Deee-Lite

“Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” – Baccara

Continue Reading

2020 JULY: 35 Songs, 2 HR 25 MIN

LISTEN - August 10, 2020

another month over.

another playlist for your pleasure.

Top Five July:

“Consciousness” – Joy Postell

“Funny Thing” – Thundercat

“A Boat to Drown In” – Metz

“Tonight the Streets Are Ours” – Richard Hawley

“Habbie Doobie” – The Texas Gentlemen

Continue Reading
Continue Reading

Interview with Lauren Rose : The Mind Behind Vagina Slims

ART, INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - July 26, 2020

I wrote the following before I ever reached out to Lauren Rose; I was listening to one of her Vagina Slims episodes while crafting the questions I would later email her:

For lack of a better word, I will be referring to Vagina Slims as a podcast. But it exists in a world apart from the idea that comes to mind when you think of a podcast. Vagina Slims gives me old school radio DJ vibes. That one hour hosted by your favorite radio DJ, sharing their thoughts while playing some favorite tunes.

I still stand by this sentiment, but as you get deeper into the interview, you might find it amusing how I was instinctually was picking up on the intent behind Lauren’s refreshing form of expression.

When I was crafting the interview, I was trying to figure out a category to put Lauren and Vagina Slims into, find a way to T-up, or justify my outreach to her. However, the truth is simply that she doesn’t fit into some “creative box”. I just enjoy seeing the world through her eyes, and she mostly shares that viewpoint via her Instagram or Vagina Slims, which up until recently (aka pandemic free-time) was more sporadic. Years and years ago, I stumbled on her YouTube, maybe a month or two before she shut it down, which then led me to follow her Tumblr to than listening to Vagina Slims after she started that project. I’ve always been drawn to her taste, and in my eyes, I believe she moves through the world with an artist’s spirit.

Yes, you could say this interview is designed to support the effort of Vagina Slims, but really I just wanted to know more about a person that I found interesting.

(internal dialogue: do we always need some profound justification or reason for simply finding out more about the people we find intriguing?) 

I digress – Please do not go and listen to Vagina Slims with the expectations associated with the structure of a podcast as it is in 2020. If anything, pretend you’re on a long road trip flipping through the radio stations and somehow landed on the frequency that is picking up her radio waves. She answers questions from listeners, plays fantastic music, sometimes shares her thoughts on recent movies she watched or sources of inspiration, and always confesses her musing on life in general.

My favorite part of road trips is flipping through radio stations. I’ve found a Majauna themed station in Northern California, a preacher comparing a woman’s sex life to KFC chicken in Lousiana, and a weird Christian storytime in the plains of Kansas. Vagina Slims is how I enjoy the magic of a happenstance radio program from the comfort of my home. Plus, I’m aesthetically amused by her dreamy walks and wherever she roams via her IG Story.

Without further ado – I hope you enjoy meeting Lauren Rose as much as I have over the years via the internet.

Name &/or Nickname:
Lauren Rose

Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Sun: Aries
Moon: Scorpio
Rising: Aries (I swear I’m not crazy!!)

Favorite Color:
Sunbleached peach

Childhood Hero:
Helen Hunt in the movie “Twister” 


(fun fact: i went to high school with the bleach striped hair guy)

What inspired you to create Vagina Slims? Do you remember how you were feeling 5 years ago when you started this project? 

I initially had the idea for Vagina Slims after watching a 1990s film called “Pump Up The Volume” starring Christian Slater. In the film, his character runs this underground pirate radio station that is more or less stream of consciousness talk and his related music picks. He actually pitches his voice while on air so no one can recognize who he is and it suddenly becomes super popular at his high school and starts this revolution of sorts.

In a sense I wanted to create something similar, an open diary “My So-Called Life” format that allows for change, growth, and dissection of topics that I’m into. I’ve always been an internet kid in some way or another growing up so this was a great medium for me to talk about music/movies/life without exposing myself too much. I felt very charged when I first started it like I was finally getting closer to the truths that I’ve wanted to speak about for so long.  Years later I still upload in varying degrees, I haven’t tried to capitalize on it and that’s what I cherish the most. It is just for me and the listeners and no one else.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading

2020 June: 16 SONGS, 1 hr 13 min

LISTEN - July 9, 2020

This playlist is brought to you by Drunk History, Insecure, Betty, Skate Kitchen, my husband, and a guy walking down my street at the same time I was walking my dog. No joke, I used Shazam on half of this playlist and stopped a man to find out what he was playing on his Bluetooth speaker (it was The Dells).

I’m all about giving proper credit where credit is due, and I wasn’t listening to nearly as much music in June as I usually do. So, if it weren’t for the above — this playlist would be twenty-minutes tops.

Top Five of June:

“Elastic” – Joey Purp

“Magnificent Romeo” – Basement Jaxx

“When The Going is Smooth & Good” – William Onyeabur

“Slippin” – Quadron

“Run For Cover” – The Dells

Continue Reading
Continue Reading

Interview with Draag – A trustworthy group filled with Virgo placements

INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - June 26, 2020

The sound of a cold morning where the dew on the leaves has frozen.

I usually do a write up about how I know or discovered the person or band I’m interviewing. How the music makes me feel or the images it conjures in my mind, but today I’m called to go in a different direction.

I had reached out to Draag for an interview on May 17th, before our country and world took a sharp turn toward collective radical social justice reform. Radical because I think a majority of society was sleepwalking. A shift has occurred, and whether that shift makes you excited or you’re just waiting for things to “go back to normal,” a fundamental shift has happened so buckle up. I view this time as a moment filled with growing pains good and bad. One of the bad growing pains is cancel culture, I’m not here for it and I hope we evolve past it. But I do think there should be more accountability for the voices you give a platform to, and that is a responsibility I am taking on by publishing the voices of other creators. I’m happy to share I did a little social media sleuthing, and Draag is black lives matter aligned. Because I only want to highlight the people who believe in making the world BETTER for other people.

Jessica, the vocalist for Draag graciously responded to my request for an interview quickly after I reached out. I was excited to read through the band’s answers and was looking forward to getting Draag’s interview up, but Camari Carter had also sent in her reply quickly and she had an event coming up that same week that I wanted to help support.

Then I was asked to pause and listen, and I did – happily. As I work towards creating what my new reality will look like and the content I share, I’m VERY excited to share this great interview with Draag. I’m not sure how I came across them but their track Trauma Kit was added to my February playlist, and I’ve been getting into their dreamy escapism sound ever since. I don’t know what you call the wee hours of the morning, but if there is an A.M golden hour – that is the time in which I’d want Draag to be my soundtrack.

original photo

Name &/or Nickname:
Draag

Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Adrian: Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon, Virgo Rising
Nick: Taurus Sun, Aries Moon, Virgo Rising
Shane: Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Aries Rising
Ray: Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Taurus Rising
Jessica: Leo Sun, Pisces Moon, Aquarius Rising

Favorite Color:
#E6E6FA

Childhood Hero:
Marilyn Manson

Home Base:
Sylmar, California

When was Draag born into this world? What is the origin story?

Adrian revived some songs he wrote when he was 9 years old on his karaoke tape deck in September 2013. He wanted to condense everything he loved about music into this project, so he recruited a bunch of audiophile toneheads, female vox, and a lot of synths and guitars. Our first EP Nontoxic Process was released in 2018, but we buried our first two mixtapes, made during a time that felt like a completely different band. 

Photography by Elijah Reynozo

Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be music related, just creative people who have developed work and put themselves out into the world in a way you admire and perhaps subtly influences your own creative choices?
Kobe Bryant, Ed Templeton, Anna May Wong, Alexandro Jodorowsky, John Carpenter

Continue Reading
Continue Reading

2020 MAY : 31 SONGS, 2 HR 4 MIN

LISTEN - June 25, 2020

Apparently my dog really mellows out to “All Mirrors” by Angel Olsen…

Top Five of May :

“Quarantine” – Levitation Room

“Twenty Four Hour Party People” – Happy Mondays

“Cynical Girl” – Marshall Crenshaw

“Jewelry” – Blood Orange

“Hope to Die” – Orville Peck

*Bonus: “Automechanic” – Jenny O.

Continue Reading
Continue Reading