Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Introducing a dream come true...

For years I've been planning something I always referred to as the "mixtape project." A week ago, I made it happen. I gave it a cyber home.

Simply put, it's a space for people to post (through me, as a narrator and moderator) their "ultimate playlists"--the group of songs that define them, that they love, that lift their spirits, anything. Anything goes. I've already had great response, and on top of my guinea pig post I've already added two new playlists from old friends in Athens, Georgia.

Best case? This becomes a living, breathing webspace where people interact, learn. Worst case? People get introduced to new music outside their comfort zones. Win-win.

Please visit:

[I jumped over to wordpress because the layout there is so stellar. Sorry Blogspot :(]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ring toss

I've worn the same gold and onyx ring on my right hand for eight years. It's the ring my dad bought for my mom the day I was born (which makes it quite possibly the only material item that literally celebrates my birth). My entire childhood I saw her gesturing wildly (for, she always gestured wildly) with it on, burning a visual into my head that seemed best memorialized by taking it over myself. I get at least two compliments a day on this ring, from baristas at Starbucks or women in the grocery line at Randall's. It looks nothing like anything anyone wears, nothing like something you could pick out of a case at the department store. It's fancy and glaring and original, just like she was. People never believe me when I tell them I haven't removed it in almost eight years. I haven't. I shower with it, work with it on when I shouldn't (shout out to line cooks at the Steeping Room for fishing it quickly out of a box of lemons a few weeks ago, whew). It traveled with me around Italy. I've always said that if and when I get married, I'll melt the band down and wear it as my wedding ring.

Two nights ago I dreamt that after a series of long conversations (with a man I couldn't identify come morning), I decided I must remove it. I remember feeling startled in the dream. The next morning I woke up with a naked finger. It lay rather innocently on my bedside table, ceremoniously removed during, apparently, a fit of sleeping-moving. I had to be at work at 7am that morning. I was flustered and upset about it and decided that just in case the universe had some major message for me...I would leave it off at least temporarily.

It's strange to think how such a minor adjustment could make me feel different about myself. A regular customer of mine at the tea house noted the ring's absence yesterday. As I was putting a casserole in the oven last night I almost forgot what had happened and was fearful for a full ten seconds that I'd dropped it in the dish. I have small hands, and they look so bare now. I've been going on and on this new year about making small changes in my life to feel happier. Maybe letting go of this one thing for awhile is symbolic of that.

My sister had interesting insight into the whole thing as well. She sees the bigger picture, always. "Maybe," she said while folding laundry, "just maybe it's not about the ring at all. And maybe it's not about anything you've actually been through recently or have been worried about directly. Maybe it's a sign to let go of how you've always processed things, to let go of the things you worry about within yourself."

Bam. Maybe. I don't know. But that ring does symbolize loss. And maybe wearing it equated dwelling on it, dwelling on things about myself defined by that loss.

I'm in my post-ring era. For a little while a least.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

cold snap

It's uncomfortably cold here in Texas this week. Blackouts are rolling around Austin like a pinball. I'm chugging coffee like it's beer. Our cat is nesting under a comforter as I type. It's so weird.

Sunday, in contrast, was the most beautiful day any of us had seen in awhile. I was outside with my dad, my sister, and baby Eleanor that afternoon sporting my favorite sunglasses and a smile that could have conquered anything. Indian summer is what it felt like, something out of a novel, some day in the life of a loveable character within which he or she realizes what the next chapter of their life might be. That day dug its heels into me deep. It was clarity I didn't even know I was asking for.

It'd be silly to imagine that the cold snap which immediately followed was just for me, to wake me up and jolt me upright, make me pay attention to everything around me. But it does seem odd that such sea changes have happened in my tiny little life alongside such drastic changes on the thermometer. I like it because it feels like a movie somehow. It feels important. That makes me smile.

Either way, it got me thinking about the word "snap." Walker Percy has great things to say about language...notably that all you have to do is repeat a word (even one you use regularly) over and over for it to suddenly sound odd and/or powerful. Percy claims that we let words rule us. We think about ourselves and those around us in direct relation to the words we employ. Words randomly placed...they are like songs on a mix-tape. They're windows into the truth. "Snap," I decided, perfectly exemplifies this dark, cold week here in Austin, TX. Thousands of people woke up in the dark this morning, snap. I stubbed my toe on a freezing cold bathtub edge, snap. Pull you coat tighter, snap. Say goodbye to something you absolutely loved, snap. Whether it's the weather or a feeling or a moment. Snap.

Cheers to words and trying to find the right ones.

Stay warm, Spring is coming soon.