Sunday, December 12, 2010

My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster - two great big humps and then I'm gone...

It's now been well over a month since I drove up from Orlando (after my Universal vacation) to Atlanta to see Grinderman at the Variety Playhouse. The holidays and my own procrastination got in the way of me doing much blogging. It was an amazing experience, though, so I do want to tell you all about it!

The second I found out they were coming, I made arrangements to buy tickets. I woke up the second they went on sale and bought them. And after that, the event sort of got pushed to the back of my mind. But, as it drew closer, I did get really excited.

Grinderman is the new(ish) project of Nick Cave, of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds fame. This band departs quite a bit from the style of the Bad Seeds, and it honestly took a bit to grow on me. I'm probably not the target demographic for Grinderman's music. But after several listenings, I learned to love it and now I find myself frequently listening to their two albums while I'm in the car.

I wouldn't say that Nick Cave is my idol or that I have a celebrity crush on him or anything weird like that. But, I do admire him. More than any other artist. Ever. I have a huge amount of respect for the man and all the work he does. In addition to being a musician (since 1973), he is a songwriter, an author, a screenwriter, and an actor. He has also done several lectures. The man is not only talented, he is very intelligent and very eloquent. I am just blown away by the work he produces in each field he has attempted. So, having the opportunity to see Nick Cave live in itself was amazing to me.

Grinderman produce a far heavier sound than that of the Bad Seeds, complete with dirty-old-man lyrics, and though I can get why some people say that Grinderman is a throwback to Cave's days with The Birthday Party, the two bands really are apples and oranges. Both are great, but both are separate entities and it was very easy to see that in live performance.

Anyway, the night of the show, I ended up going by myself. I met someone in the front row and chatted to him for much of the show. We both seemed to be in awe that we were actually standing there. Before the show started, security kept telling everyone in the front row to keep the area of the stage in front of the monitors clear (there was no press area between the crowd and stage, because photography was not permitted). However, I wasn't quite prepared for Nick Cave standing directly in front of me, occasionally brushing me/stepping partially on me with his huge shoes, or towering over me with his huge, lanky frame.

From the very beginning, I was impressed. These guys are pretty old - Cave is now 53 and Warren Ellis, his right-hand man, is 45 - and they still put on an amazing show. They had so much energy and were so into every single movement they made, every note they produced. It was one of the most amazing things (not just concerts) I have ever seen.

I wish I had enough words to really do justice to the experience, but I don't. They were playing in (I think) Nashville the following night. And had I not had obligations at home, I definitely would've made the drive. It was that great.

The only photos I've seen from the show were taken by a fan. There was one fan chosen to be the official photographer at each show. Here are a few of them, taken by Jeffrey Shipman. You can see the rest over at under "images".

So, I guess in closing, my recommendation is to check out the albums and to see the band live if at all possible. I think they're done touring in the U.S. for now, but future tours may occur. I know I'm hoping for a new Bad Seeds album and tour - it would be nice to see both sides.

That's it for 2010. On to 2011! May the beginning of this new year suck significantly less than the first half of 2010.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wizard Land, Dear Readers...

After having about 10 days of relaxation at the beginning of November, I headed down to Orlando to meet up with my mom for a week. She was there for a conference that is held every three years in Orlando (of all places), and as is customary, she was staying a week longer to have a vacation of sorts.

While I was there, we took some time to go to Universal, because I hadn't been there in a very long time. In fact, the only proof I have that I may have once been there (when I was 7) is a photo of me on a bike with E.T. in the basket. My mom made me take one when we there this time too. It's fairly embarrassing. But anyway, the point of this was that I didn't remember anything about having been there before.

We spent two days checking out both Universal parks and it was mostly enjoyable. I got to see Doc Brown hanging out by the DeLorean, a cute sculpture of the Lorax hanging out with all his trees, and all of E.T.'s friends.

But the highlight was probably the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I'm not super obsessed with HP. I hated the books when they first came out and just couldn't really get into the whole thing. I started reading all the books last year, though. I'm not finished with the last two. But I found myself really enjoying them, and even though I'm not obsessed, I do have my geeky moments. While I was not crazy enough to stand in line for two hours to visit the wand shop and get my own wand, I did enjoy the little park. I even left with two souvenirs - a sweet girly hoodie and some candy from Honeydukes.

I wish I had more to share about it. The two rides I went on were pretty cool, and the castle was really awesome to walk through. I'd say it's worth checking out. I think it would've been cooler if they'd saved the money, spent more time, and made it into its own bigger theme park. It would've been awesome to see a full-sized Hogwarts (the castle at least).

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the trip:

Chillin' with the conductor in front of the Hogwarts Express.


Ohai, Hogwarts!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm mildly irritated, but not by Black Friday, but we'll talk about that too.

A few days ago, I got a friendly reminder e-mail from Borders (the book store) telling me that my rewards earnings would expire the next day. So I figured I would redeem them and buy a movie or two. We don't have Borders stores in the area, so I had to order online. I pondered my choices and finally selected two items. They were in my cart and all I had to do was check out. After many error messages, improper page loads, and three and a half hours of waiting and wishing would explode in hell, my order FINALLY went through. This was very frustrating, but in the end, the mission was accomplished, so I thought I'd just forget about it. And then I got another e-mail from Borders yesterday.

It reads:

We are reaching out today to our most valued customers to inform you that we received a huge response to our recent reminder for Borders Rewards members to redeem their $10 in Bonus Bucks. Such a huge response in fact, that the customer experience was impacted. If you were not able to redeem your $10 in Borders Bonus Bucks online, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please look for additional exclusive rewards and incentives throughout the Holiday Season.
Thank you for your patience,
Mike Edwards
CEO, Borders, Inc."

Now personally, after much frustration and time-wasting, I made it through. But this is the dumbest customer relations letter I have EVER seen. Mike Edwards, this is what your letter should have read:

"Dear Borders Customers who give us tons of money each year,
Our site is completely inadequate and non-functional. Fuck you, though.
Mike Edwards
CEO, Borders, Inc."

It wouldn't have been such a slap in the face if you didn't send an e-mail to everyone telling them, "omg go use your rewards coupons RIGHT NOW or else you will lose them forever!" But the fact that you were unable to anticipate the sheer inadequacy of your own site (which is actually pretty miserable to use on a normal day) before you sent this mass e-mail and then, instead of correcting the situation after you realized you messed up, just telling your customers, "It's too bad that we fucked up" just kind of blows my mind.

And now every time a new Borders coupon shows up in my inbox, which is typically at least once a day, I feel so much irritation due to the past offensive e-mail. There's not much I can do about it aside from ceasing to give them my business. But it is what it is.


Today was Black Friday. I haven't gone out to actually compete for wares in a few years and I didn't want to today because I've basically been feeling like shit lately. But then a few days ago, I saw a list of fun, limited issue records that were coming out. Among them was a Grinderman 12" which I absolutely had to have. And I didn't get. There were only 500 sent out. My local store got two and neither of them were attainable. However, my BFF across the country scored me a copy, so it's all good. I picked up something for him at my local store, and two things for me. One was a fairly not-in-good-condition copy of The Cure's live show at I-Beam (San Francisco, 1981) - the sleeve has some pretty hefty damage and the record appears to have one or two surface scratches, but we'll see how it goes. I'm not a super serious collector, so I don't care *too* much, but if it's really a total wreck, I will probably take it back and have words, because it did not come to me cheap.

My second purchase was made on a second trip to said record store. I researched a little and decided I wanted it. "It" is a vinyl issue of Clem Snide's "Your Favorite Music". It's a good album and apparently was not released on vinyl before. The one I got is marbled light blue vinyl with a light green label - very pretty. Overall, I was happy with my purchases considering I didn't really plan to purchase anything on Black Friday.

So, I hope everybody had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and I hope no one got trampled trying to buy a new toaster today. Please try to be sane for the rest of the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

October Travels

I am not sure what really happened that caused me to be a month behind in sharing some exciting/fun/interesting to me things, but somehow, this is the position I am in. Some of the time I've been spending trying to sort out my home life and get my act together, and some has been spent trying to catch sleep between all the things going on. Anyway, here I am, and although a lot of what I have to say now is about stuff that happened like a month ago, I'm going to try to cover everything over the next few days.

Let's start with the end of October.

October 28, I headed to Nashville to see Rifftrax Live: House on Haunted Hill and meet some Twitter people - one in particular, a friend, Doug (@watchout4snakes), but we also briefly met Tracey (@euphoriafish) there too. I'm new to the meeting Twitter people thing and I'm mostly antisocial, but my AYCJ travels sort of made me a little better at it, so why not. As far as the movie goes, House on Haunted Hill is one of my favorites, and I really enjoyed the entire experience. I would say more about it, but my best recommendation would be to buy the DVD when it's released. Anyway, it was my first time in Tennessee, making it my 6th new state in under 2 months. The drive there was terribly long (about 9 hours), but I saw some amazing scenery along the way. I, sadly, missed the opportunity to stop at the American Museum of Science and Energy (yes, I'm nerdy) on my way back to Charleston, so I'm sure I'll return to Tennessee again in the future for a visit.

When I got back from Nashville, I had one day of rest. Then my friend, Angela, and her boyfriend, Greg, arrived from New Jersey. The next day (Halloween), we headed to Atlanta to see Jónsi (of Sigur Rós fame) at the Tabernacle. It was a long drive there and we were all pretty exhausted from too many accumulated car hours over the previous days. However, we managed to talk ourselves into getting all done up in costumes and going to the show. It was well worth it. It was an amazing show, but also kind of a weird experience for me. Sigur Rós and Jónsi are artists whose music I'm used to listening to by myself and in my own home. I don't recall ever listening to either in the car or ever intentionally with other people. For whatever reason, this music has some weird emotional effects on me. So, it was just strange being in a room full of other people experiencing the performance. But it was a really great one and I'm glad I had the chance to see it. (I have a video from the show, but I haven't uploaded it yet, so I'll have to share that later.) As far as costumes went, lots of people were dressed up - my favorite was a group of people dressed up as characters from Fantastic Mr. Fox - very clever and cute and well done (sadly, no photos of this).

Since these two trips, I've had some more travel and some fun experiences. Those stories, however, will have to wait for another day.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving today.

Monday, November 01, 2010

AYCJ Summary

I guess I never actually posted a link to it over here, but my short little story about my JetBlue AYCJ travels posted over on Michael Musto's blog a little over a week ago. Click here to read.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Fall! Or Autumn! Or Both!

My first few days back in Charleston were hot and unpleasant, but since then, it's started to feel a lot like fall. I've been sleeping with the windows open at night and I've had to start bringing my Meyer Lemon tree in at night because the temperature has been dipping down into the low 50s. I'm happy. And because it's getting cooler outside, it means I get to start eating more warm meals and fall-flavored things. And drinking lots of hot beverages.

In honor of all of this, I took time away from doing absolutely nothing to bake some cupcakes. And, let me tell you, they are awesome. They're vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cakes with cinnamon icing. The icing, despite the obviousness of this statement, tastes exactly like cinnamon rolls. The recipe is here for those who are interested.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Trip Stats

I also wanted to give some brief numbers. Before I forgot. But I did forget, so here's a second post!

The trip was 28 days long.
I visited 5 new cities (but Seattle twice) in 5 new states.
I traveled through 8 airports.
I took 14 flights.
I stayed in 8 homes.
I bought 66 records.
I did laundry a total of 2 times.
I spent less than $400 (excluding my parking fees at Charlotte-Douglas).

I'm home.

I haven't updated since I've been back in Charleston because, as expected, I was very unhappy upon my arrival. I feel aimless enough because I've spent the last month without a "home" and without any real obligations, so the fact that when I returned back to all of that, I was also returning to a place I pretty well despise weighed very heavily on me.

However, I'm slowly starting to settle back in. I haven't had a full day of rest with nothing planned since I've gotten back. I'm still trying to fit that into my schedule. Much of my time has been spent catching up with friends, unpacking, and cleaning up my apartment.

A mere two days after my return, I attend Kulture Klash here in Charleston. It was the first year that I had made it out and I was kind of excited. Some of the art on display was nice and some of the stuff going on throughout the night was pretty interesting. And I got to hold a chainsaw, so my evening was made.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Nearing The End

The end of my All You Can Jet month is drawing very near. Tomorrow will be my last round of flights and then I will drive back to Charleston Thursday morning. I have to say, while it will be nice to sleep in my own bed, I'm not looking forward to being back there. I was unhappy there to begin with, and now it just seems like a chore to have to drag myself back into it all.

I spent a few days last week in Austin, TX. I really liked Austin, but I feel like I could have enjoyed it a lot more than I did. My hosts, while good people, were just not very helpful in giving me ideas of what I should see or do. Add that to the fact that I was getting tired and starting to be a little burnt out on hopping around from place to place, and it just makes for a fairly uneventful trip. I did manage to take a short little hike thing and buy some (read: a lot) of records. So, despite the fact that the trip could've been much better, I'll call it a success.

It was hard to put Austin after Salt Lake City, because SLC just was sort of a crazy experience all around. I liked it there quite a bit, but I don't think I'd want to live there.

I had a flight booked from Austin on Saturday morning that would take me to San Francisco, Long Beach, and finally put me in Seattle at about 8 p.m. However, there was a mechanical failure on the plane that was to be flying in from San Francisco the night before, so that morning flight was delayed by like 4.5 hours. This would've made me miss all of my connecting flights. So I spent the entire day Saturday sitting in the airport until I could catch a 5 p.m. flight to Long Beach. Because JetBlue would not help me in any way to get me to Seattle that night, they put me up in a hotel in Long Beach, which wasn't so bad. But I was still irritated about losing a few hours.

When I finally got to Seattle the next morning, I was exhausted but very happy to be back here. I like it here. A lot, really. I have a feeling similar, but of course a little different, to the one I have when I'm in New York. Something clicks and it just feels safe or like home or something. It's really strange. So I'm glad that I decided to come back here and finish out my trip in a city that makes me comfortable. I was even able to see the people who hosted me when I came to Seattle earlier on this trip and catch up on their lives. They're such nice people and I'm so glad I got the chance to meet them. But, even though being here is a happy thing, I know it will be very heartbreaking to leave. Especially to leave and go back to Charleston.

This trip as a whole has been a major event in my life. I've learned a lot, seen a lot, met a lot of new, great people (and learned to have a bit of faith in humanity), and just had a fantastic time along much of the way. Like anything, the trip has had its ups and downs, but in the end, they were all very worth it and I'm glad I didn't just throw in the towel at the first sign of things not going as planned. Looking back, this all came at a time when I really needed it, and it has slightly changed a lot of things for me. It'll be strange to see what happens when the traveling is completely over.

I've got a lot on my schedule for the remainder of 2010. But the one thing I've learned from all of this is that I definitely need to get my shit together. I need to figure out what I'm doing as far as finishing college or going to culinary school goes. I need to make a conscious effort to get in with a particular company that will allow me a job I can tolerate and that will allow me to pay my bills while also giving me the option of mobility in the future so that I can get out of Charleston and go some place that will make me happier. So, yes, there will be fun things to update on, even when all this exciting jetting is out of the way. But, at the same time...I've gotta put my game face on. I think the end of this trip is really the start of some new chapter or something of my life in a way. It doesn't mean drastic change will occur right away, but I have the opportunity to grab a little bit of control back and try to fight for a better situation for myself away from the Southeast.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So Little Time!

I have neglected to post an update about my whereabouts since San Francisco. After I left California, I headed to Salt Lake City for a few days.

Salt Lake City was a lot of fun. It was nice to have a break from "big city" life for a few days. Most of my time there was spent among nature instead of skyscrapers, and it was just very enjoyable. Even the part where we got stuck on top of a mountain when the brakes went out on the so-called pedophile van (it was just a really sketchy van, ok). Luckily, I had my AAA card with me, so that worked out well in the end.

I had nice hosts in SLC, too, which helped to make the time more enjoyable. And I also met some other CouchSurfers! There were three staying with my first host when I arrived - two guys from Australia and a girl from Houston, TX. All nice people, and I'm very glad I had the chance to meet them.

Tuesday night, I left Salt Lake City and now I'm sitting on the floor at JFK waiting for my plane to Austin, TX. I have no idea what I'm doing in Austin, but I'm sure I'll figure it out as I go. Right now, the first thing I would like to do is nap a little. I wasn't able to sleep on my flight because of screaming babies. I'm not even going to get into my feelings about that. But I'll leave you with a picture of the dodgy, awesome van.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today, I walked about 50 blocks (that's my guesstimate) here in San Francisco to get to a spot where I was pretty sure I'd be able to view the Pacific Ocean. I was greatly surprised to discover that, not only could I view the Pacific Ocean, I could touch it! And play in it! And revel in its oceanyness!

While I was walking there, I got to a point on a hill where, if I glimpsed down a side street, I could see the ocean on the horizon. I literally almost peed my pants because I was that excited (and I'd had to pee for like the past 30 blocks). Gross, but true, folks. I can't give you enough words to tell you how much I loved this experience and how absolutely amazing it was. But I can give you a few pictures. I took over 100 today while I spent a few hours dicking around by the sea.
The ruins of the Sutro Baths were also available for my exploring pleasure.

Hi, ocean!

Cliffs and something sneaky hiding out...

Hi, Golden Gate Bridge!

Dear Pacific Ocean, I am in you.

More pictures of other things will be uploaded to Flickr or something when I'm back in Charleston. So far San Francisco has been great and I'm glad I chose to come here!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It looks like....

...placenta. Am I right?!

That's what it says when I log in to CouchSurfing from Long Beach airport.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So I made it to Portland at the end of last week. It was very hard for me to leave Seattle after having had such a good time, having met some awesome new people, seeing some great older people, and figuring out that I actually like Seattle a lot. All of this stuff combined made my trip to Portland very emotionally stressful, and at first, made it seem like something I didn't actually want to be doing.

When I arrived in Portland, I was not feeling so sure about my hosts here. The actual person who agreed to let me be a guest in the house wasn't here, and the other roommates in the house seemed almost as if I was in their way by being here or like they felt awkward about me being there. It was a very unpleasant (mostly because of the emotional leaving-Seattle issues) first evening and it cemented the idea that I shouldn't have left Seattle into my head. But, because I can't leave a place without booking 3 days in advance, I was stuck anyway.

Over the next few days, the hosts I was (and still am as I'm typing this) staying with warmed up to me a little and seemed to be much kinder. It made my stay here a lot better. I think any "badness" was all my interpretation and not a true reflection of the situation. After exploring a little bit, I warmed up to Portland itself too. I've grown to like it here. Still not as much as I liked Seattle. But, it's nice here and I'm glad I decided to make it part of my trip and glad I had the chance to meet these people. I'd like to visit Portland (and my hosts) again someday.

Tomorrow I'll be heading to the airport again and flying from Portland to San Francisco (with a stop in Long Beach in between). I'm excited about San Francisco, but worried that I'll be feeling the same way when I arrive there that I felt upon my arrival in Portland.

After San Francisco, things get a bit messy in my head because there are a few different options that I could take. I just don't know which I really want. But I will have to figure it out very, very things could get interesting.

I know I said I'd post pictures, but I just haven't gotten to even uploading them. It might end up that I'll wait and do all of that when I get home to Charleston. Who knows. But there are a few pictures to be shared.

So far, the trip is going well and I'm happy that I've been given this opportunity. Like anything, it's kind of bittersweet, but I think it will all work out okay in the end.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hi, I'm in Seattle...

My JetBlue flying extravaganza began at the end of last week, and so far, it's been awesome. I left Charleston for Charlotte on Thursday night around midnight and arrived in Seattle a little before 2 p.m. on Friday.

I've been lucky enough to have really awesome hosts (with an awesome house!) and friends here in Seattle that have been kind, funny, overly accommodating, and willing to show me around a little bit. It's been really amazing so far - I love Seattle - and, while I'm excited for the rest of my travels, I know that I'll be very sad to leave here. But I'm sure I'll be back sometime in the not too distant future.

Pictures will be posted somewhere eventually - probably on Thursday because I'll be bored at the airport, waiting for my flights to Portland. And I'll definitely check in with some news from my next destination!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I may be a robot...

I'm generally not good at the whole Captcha thing, but this is just ridiculous. I got these three back-to-back while hitting refresh to try to get one that I could actually read/type.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Last night, I met up with my friend Jordan and some of her friends in Myrtle Beach to see Tears For Fears at the House of Blues. I figured the show itself could've gone either way, but I just would've been happy to spend time with Jordan since I hadn't seen her in so long.

I got to her apartment fairly early and we spent some time catching up. Seems like her life is going mostly well for her and I'm glad to hear it. We had a couple of hours to discuss where we both were at in our lives and the things we hoped to change and where we'd like to end up in the near future. It was not only a chance to have a little friend chat, it was kind of therapeutic for both of us.

After our little hangout session, we headed over to HOB. We ended up having to wait about 50 minutes to get a table for a quick dinner because the place was so packed. Luckily, Labor Day weekend usually starts to wrap up tourist season down here. So hopefully the ridiculous-wait-time-for-everything ordeal will end soon as well. After we had a little dinner, we went over the the venue (it's just right across the patio from the actual restaurant) and met up with two of Jordan's friends from work. They happened to be right in the front, so that worked out well for me because I'm short and can never see unless I'm up front.

It was mostly an older crowd, obviously. But that was fine by me, because it meant I didn't have to deal with as many rude people as usual. I did see the occasional little kid there with the parental units. I attribute this to the House of Blues being a family venue and touristy thing. Everybody there seemed to really enjoy the show, and it was VERY good. Really enjoyable. I have no pictures to share - it was one of those "no photography/video" deals. They seemed to very heavily enforce that, but didn't have an issue with the people smoking pot a few rows behind us.

After the concert, I drove back to Charleston and headed straight to bed. It was, overall, a good little trip and a fun show. Now I just have to finish prepping for the big trip coming up!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Jet-setting or Something Weird Like That

August was a rather unpleasant month for me. Lots of stress, frustration, disappointment and tears. There are still several things that are throwing me off and slowing me down a little bit. I've been contemplating disappearing a lot...just kind of getting away from everywhere and everyone and having some time to sort things out. That's sort of like running away from problems, but, so it is. Anyway, I did have one little good thing so I figured I might share it.

In the middle of last week, I happened to stumble across a particular entry on Michael Musto's blog over on The Village Voice website. You can view that entry here. It describes a contest that Musto was hosting, in which one lucky, hand-selected, 250-word piece would win one lucky participant a JetBlue All-You-Can-Jet pass (more info on what that is over on Mr. Musto's blog).

So I took a few minutes out of my ridiculously shitty weekend to pull together about 240 words. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a brief congratulatory e-mail in my inbox slightly after midnight Tuesday morning from Michael Musto himself. I'm not a "writer", but I somehow won the pass and now I have the next month to travel to a number of destinations, starting at the beginning of next week.

I'm happy I won and very excited for the travels - it'll be nice to be away from "home" for awhile. I'm also very nervous, though, to be going to a bunch of new places alone. I don't really have a very good idea of where I'll be going yet or any of the specifics. Who knows if there will even be specifics. But I've been thinking about potential destinations and things I'd like to see. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to finalize at least a few things and book some flights. I'm sure I'll have more to say about all of this and some photos to share, whether it's day-by-day throughout the trip or when I get back. And of course, there will be the little piece on Michael Musto's blog when my month of travel is over.

So, wish me luck! I'll be off before too long...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Find

This is the dress I got while browsing at Clothing Warehouse in Savannah, GA before the Rosi Golan & William Fitzsimmons show. I'm not sure if I like the collar, so I might do something to it. But otherwise, it's a perfect fit and I really like the color. It's an original 1950s piece. Sorry for the less-than-awesome photo, I just didn't have a place to hang it. Since this photo was taken, it's been cleaned and pressed and is looking lovely. When I wear it, I'll share a picture.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


It's been approximately two months since my last post, so I guess I took that little break I was contemplating. And now, I guess I'm back for awhile! Stuff has obviously occurred since my last post. Some things will get their own individual gabfests, but I figure I can just skim over a few things.

I went to Folly Beach lots and swam near some dolphins.

I went to South of the Border again. Twice.

I saw Modest Mouse here in Charleston.

I saw Rosi Golan and William Fitzsimmons in Savannah, GA.

I went home to PA to visit my family and clean out my old house a bit. More on this later, but found some fun stuff, including things that were mine when I was a kid (PlayStation, Sega Genesis, some interesting clothing, etc.) and some things in my brother's room (old Macintosh computer & printer, older encyclopedias, skis which won't help me because I don't know how to ski, and a Ouija board oooo).

I didn't go to see Interpol in Charleston this week, because a friend couldn't stick to a commitment.

I visited the neurologist, had an MRI, and got absolutely no answers, AGAIN! Just more drugs. Frustrating.

And I think that brings us up to speed! I have some other stuff to share, of course, but that will come later.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Veg*n Dinner at a Steakhouse? Yes!

Monday night, Staci and I got all dressed up and went downtown to Oak Steakhouse on Broad for a special event. Chefs Brett McKee (of Oak) and Ken Immer (of gRAWnola fame) collaborated on a Vegetarian/Vegan dinner that was insanely impressive.

The only disappointment that I had with the event was that not all courses were vegan-friendly. All of them were either vegan or had at least something vegan on the plate other than course five. I will say, I was naughty and did try course five. And I paid for it in the morning with a tremendous headache that I can only assume is some sort of sick retribution.

So, I want to do a quick rundown of the courses and the wine pairings and give my thoughts.

Pickled Daikon Ravioli with Preserved Carrot
Crimini Mushroom filled with Fermented Brazil Nut Cheese
Wine pairing: Champagne - Domain Carneros Brut

I was really struck with amazement from the get-go. I love daikon, A LOT. So I was very pleased with the flavors bouncing around in this. Champagne is really not my thing, but it wasn't a bad one. Way to set someone up for failure for the evening, starting out with the champagne.

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille over Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
Wine pairing: King Estate Pinot Gris

I had never had ratatouille before, but I like the movie, so I figured what the hell. Yeah, I'm a dork. It was fabulous. Such a sort of simple dish from its composition, but so so tasty. And the red pepper coulis was perfect. It didn't hinder the veg in the dish, but it complemented it all perfectly. The wine for this course was my second favorite out of all those presented. Very well-balanced.

Asian Root Noodles with Marinated Shiitake Mushrooms and Cucumber Emulsion
Wine pairing: Davis Bynom Chardonnay

I wasn't super crazy about this dish. The flavors just didn't really hit me right. I don't think it tasted bad - not by any means. But it just wasn't the strongest dish in my mind. The wine was weird; it had a very strange coconut taste to it, which at first I thought was to complement the "coconut emulsion" but then I remembered it was cucumber not coconut, so that felt really strange to me. Wasn't bad, but just wasn't my favorite.

Ken's Taco Tango
with Micro Arugula and Mango Chutney, a Soft Corn Taquito, Sprouted Quinoa and Mung Beans, garnished with Guacamole and Live Sour Cream
Wine pairing: Voltre Santi Pinot Noir

The explanation of this course is written very strangely. I didn't eat the taco bit of it. That was the part with the sour cream on it. It smelled okay though, and Staci said it was really good. The little taquito/burrito dealie was AMAZING. Seriously. There are very few things I wouldn't do for a repeat of that experience. The filling of it was the quinoa, mung bean bit which also had pecans and carrots. It was this awesome texture...kind of chewy, but delightful. And the taste was just amazing. Bravo to Ken for that one!
The wine was good. I don't really like reds. It had a very plummy taste, though, which pleased me. Staci likes reds and she was dying over it, so I have to assume it was fantastic.

Brett's Eggplant Parmigiana
Wine pairing: Francis Coppola Directors Cabernet Sauvignon

Here is where I fell from grace. Yes, fail on my part. But I kind of wished they'd have made it for me without the cheese. The hostess assured me that this was not possible. Who knows. The eggplant was perfectly cooked, but I expected nothing less than that. The sauce was what got me. It was the most amazing red sauce I have ever had. Chef Brett really outdid himself on that beautiful, tasty sauce of goodness. Seriously. I wish I could describe it better. It was spicy but had the perfect balance of tomato acidity. It made my tummy happy.
The wine was nothing special. I say this because I don't remember anything about it.

Blueberry-Cardamom Vegan Ice Cream with a Crystallized Ginger Crisp
Chocolate Brownie Torte Garnished with White Chocolate Drizzle
Lime Shortbread with Citrus 'Anglasie'
Wine pairing: Nivoli

The presentation of this dish was really cute. It succeeded in making me ooh and ahh over its prettiness, while also making me want to shove it in my mouth. So, great success! The blueberry-cardamom ice cream had a weird texture on its own - I was not liking it at first - but then Staci told me to sort of use the ginger crisp thing to scoop it up a little. Omg. That was the key. Perfect combination, and it made me happy because, not only did it taste amazing and have a great texture, but the two parts of it relied upon each other to make it great, and I like that. The brownie torte was delish, but that's a was a brownie torte...come on. It was missing its white chocolate drizzle, but I hate white chocolate, so it was no great loss for me. the lime shortbread thing was good. Very simple and light, and I was glad that I ate from right to left across the plate and got to it last. It made me feel like I had completed the meal properly and in the right order. The Nivoli was fantastic - definitely my favorite, but I'm a sucker for sweet dessert wines. I had never even heard of Nivoli before then, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got to it.

Aside from the food, the company was wonderful. We met a few really sweet people and not only was it a networking experience among the health community, it was an opportunity to just chat and be social. I enjoyed it.

All in all, the dinner was perfect. I couldn't have hoped for anything more than I got, especially considering I was eating at a "Steakhouse". I was very lucky and happy to have taken a part in this event, and if they should have a part two (hint hint, guys..get on it!), I will definitely be in attendance.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Inbal Pinto Dance Company's "Oyster" and Why I Like Wandering

Tonight I went to my second Spoleto event. I was excited the moment I'd heard about this one, so the fact that I was able to see it really delighted me. It was Oyster - a dance production put on by the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company. In all of the summaries I'd read, it was to be a theatrical dance production loosely based on Tim Burton's short story, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy. But apparently Avshalom Pollak says that's not true. I will tell you my thoughts on this in a minute. But first let me tell you what I thought.

I am not super good at interpreting artsy things - I just know what I like and what I don't like. So, that being said, the "storyline" of this was, in some places, very difficult for me to follow. I'm thinking it didn't have a fast and sure storyline, but every now and then I'd pick up on something symbolic or some little part of a story. Even though I'm not a genius and probably missed a bunch of stuff, I LOVED this show. It was really fantastic. The costuming was amazing and in general, the thought put into the visual aspects, though they were mostly minimal, just blew me away. There were two particular parts of the show that gave me goosebumps. My absolute favorite was a dance with the dancers in tuxedos that had their arms sewn in, so as to appear that they were armless. I would love to show you a video of it, but taping was prohibited and there's nothing online that shows the dance with the actual music that runs with it in the production.

The music choices for the show were interesting, but they all did fit perfectly. At times, I felt like I was in a Woody Allen film, but then other times I got the Danny Elfman feeling. The music was all very emotionally charged in the way it matched up with the dance - it was chosen to create a specific feeling and mood, and it worked perfectly.

The dancers impressed me to no end. I always find classic ballet kind of boring. Yes it's beautiful, and yes those dancers have skill. But in ballet, most poses and movements are very fluid - they flow perfectly linear with the body's structure and natural muscle movement. I don't think ballet dancers are talentless - what they do is difficult and takes practice. But I was impressed by the dancers in Oyster because many of the movements they made were not natural to the human body. They were pushing the limits of their bodies and bending to create shapes that do not typically occur while doing it all through atypical movements. Aside from being amazingly fun to watch, it makes me admire them greatly for the control they are able to execute over their own bodies. I can't imagine the practice hours they put in.

Now about the Tim Burton issue. I would have to say that I don't know if I necessarily could separate this from something inspired by Tim Burton's work. It is the automatic parallel I would've drawn even if I had not read that that was the case. The characters possess a strange, dark beauty that is very akin to the characters that Tim Burton dreams up. The costuming was very much in the manner of Tim Burton as well - eccentric and exaggerated. I got a major Burton vibe the entire way through - it was dark and eerie, but in a comforting way - the same comfort I feel when I watch Nightmare Before Christmas, for example. But I also see the circus/carnival inspiration that has been brought up in some places. I can't say what thoughts went into creating this production, but I can say it was very well done, and something everyone should see if they get the chance. It was fairly short - only one hour - and there were only 11 dancers in the production. Worthwhile and very impressive.

You can see some photos and a video here and you can read City Paper's review of the show, which gives some details about the various characters and dances, over here.

I enjoyed the short stroll to my car after the show - when I'm wearing heels, I like to hear the sound echo off the buildings. Walking downtown on summer nights is among my favorite experiences. It's another comfort to me. It's balmy and there's sometimes a light breeze going. I like seeing people walking down King Street and making up little thoughts about where they were and where they're going. I'm in love with the glow of the lights and the passing cars. I used to do this in New York, too. I'd walk St. Marks Place and the blocks around Astor Place station late at night. It made me feel safe. I enjoyed the solitude, but at the same time, I felt very connected to everything going on around me. I've been missing New York a lot lately - my time there was a very happy one - so I think walking in Charleston at night is sort of my trying to get back something I can't have. But so far, it's filling the void, and it's a little pleasure I like to enjoy every now and then.

Not much else has been going on. My medicine has not been effective in preventing my headaches, so this week, my doctor changed my dosage to triple what it was before. I still have headaches and I'm just so tired. The medicine wipes me out and I sleep for an average 15 hours a day, which is ridiculous. I want my energy back! So I hope this all subsides very soon. Today so far I've been awake for 12 straight hours, so I guess that's a good start. If I start feeling better, I might get the chance to make a go of this roller derby thing! So let's hope things clear up.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

First Spoleto Experience

So I've lived in Charleston since the end of 2006, but I've never made it to a Spoleto Festival event. I thought why the hell not do it now, before I get out of this place. So I pulled a few strings and got tickets to the two shows I wanted to see, the first of which was last night.

I saw on the calendar, "Die Roten Punkte". I'm a German major (i.e., nerd) so I was kind of curious. The description given on the Spoleto website is as follows:

Die Roten Punkte (the utterly dysfunctional pairing of German siblings Otto and Astrid Rot) became an instant household name in Europe after topping the charts in Germany and Poland with their 2005 hits “I’m in a Band” and “Best Band in the World.” Described as "inspired, brilliantly executed lunacy…a lipstick-smeared, tantrum-loving, sonic collision between Plastic Bertrand, Kraftwerk and early Ramones,” Die Roten Punkte are unforgettably unique. Their songs are ridiculously infectious and their live show is one of the most irreverent and hilarious gigs you are ever likely to see.

Okay, so it sort of insinuated that there would be a comical aspect to the show, but otherwise it describe it as a normal concert. And that's kind of what I was expecting. In great luck I was though, because the folks at City Paper pretty much spoiled the surprise with their review. Thanks, guys. To be fair, I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

The show was really great - loved every minute of it (okay, maybe there were 5 or so questionable minutes, but still). Read the City Paper review, because I really can't give a more accurate description than they did. I think it's important that they noted that the two may not actually be German, even though they subtley tiptoed around it. There were a few accent slips that I noticed in the show, and of course some very overdone pronunciation. But if the two aren't German, they at least do a very good job of pretending to be.

Here's a little video interview with them. Gives you a little idea of the kind of humor in the show.

It was one of those things that you could only enjoy if you didn't take yourself too seriously. The show kind of poked fun at all the little weird cultural subsets, and if you're not a person who can laugh at yourself a little, then it's really not for you. But I still recommend it...highly.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Don't laugh, ok.

So last night I went out with a friend and some of her friends. It was interesting and fun, and it was nice to meet some new people. The topics of conversation varied greatly throughout the evening and at one point, Staci and I re-discussed something that has been reoccurring.

We had the City Paper open in front of us and there was an article about Charleston's roller derby team and some parade thing that they did for the opening of a show at Redux art studios. And once again I told her, "I want to do that." This has happened probably a good ten times over the past few months and at first it was a huge joke. Staci usually gives me a hearty, "I think you could take 'em!" and then I laugh in her face and explain that these girls are really tough. I'm not a super skinny girl, but I've got really thin arms and I'm not the kind of girl you usually see shoving people out of her way while on roller skates. I just don't think anyone would look at me and say, "oh yeah, she looks like she could be a roller girl." Yes, it is laughable. But I think with a little effort I could do it.

Seriously...tough girls.

While the past few months had seen this idea as a joke, I keep thinking about it. I'm actually really awesome at skating...well...I used to be, I'm sure it would take some practice to get back with it. And I think it'd be fun. So I told Staci last night that "I'm going to do it." I don't know if I really will, but...I really kind of want to. I'm not even sure how one gets involved in this situation. But I'm going to find out. (...after I go to the gym and buff up a bit so I don't get my ass kicked by default...)

Photo borrowed from here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Netflix Killed The Video Store?

So it's June already. I'm a little shocked, but glad we're one month closer to being done with this year.

I've been having trouble finding a job. I'm really not so surprised. There's not much available at the moment that I'm qualified for, and the food and beverage industry, which is where most of the availability is, is not forgiving in the way of taking time off. That is an issue anyway. I do not feel comfortable getting a job and then asking for 2-4 off to return home to Pennsylvania, which I have to do in August for my MRI and neurologist stuff. When they ask me about scheduling and I say I'd need this time off, they ask why. When I tell them why, it's an automatic strike against me because I'm "sick". I'm not into lying to get my way, so unfortunately I suck at this. It's frustrating, but anyway...

This all leaves with me with a lot of free time. Lots of it is spent sleeping since the new medicine has kicked in. It makes me very tired and often dizzy for awhile after I take it. Not even so much dizzy as just unable to balance myself. I find myself really struggling to not trip or fall over. Luckily, that side effect only lasts for about an hour, but that adds up to a total of two hours of my waking day. So I've been spending a lot of my down time at home, watching movies and stuff on Netflix.

Now, please don't get me wrong - I love Netflix. It's an amazing convenience and I like being able to have so many choices. But I kind of miss going to the video store. I still have a Blockbuster card and everything, so it's not like I *can't* go. But since I'm paying for Netflix and have like a combined 600 movies between my two queues, I feel like I shouldn't go to the video store because it's fiscally irresponsible. So I miss it a lot. It used to be an adventure. When I was living with someone, we'd go out and take a long walk or go to the beach or do some other stupid, but entertaining activity. And then late at night before we went home, we'd stop by Blockbuster. It was always an ordeal choosing movies. We spent a ridiculous amount of time looking around and I remember I was always wearing something like sweatpants or beach clothes or something unfancy. The video store was part of a whole relaxing, laid back day.

So I think sometime this weekend when I'm lounging around, I'm going to go and just rent one movie. And not bother getting dressed up to leave the house. And just relax. Just the thought of it puts a smile on my face!

In other news, I'm going to challenge myself to blog every day or at least every other day. I *always* say this, but I'm really going to try, and I think it'll be good for me because if I've got nothing, it'll force me to go out and find something. I'm sure a lot of what I have to say will be trivial, but that's the beauty of it being *my* blog. Oh yes. So here's hoping it works out well! We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I was going to write a legitimate blog post, but then I came across this.

I just can't write 'em this good, folks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crazy Dreams

So I started my new medication Monday night, and while it doesn't necessarily make me feel anything that it says it might (like dizzyness, drowsiness, or nausea), I think it may be the culprit behind a very active dream life.

My primary care physician (I have two - this one I haven't seen in like 2 months) asked me about my dreaming habits the last time I saw him, and I told him that lately I haven't been dreaming. His response was that everyone dreams every night, but if those dreams occur in REM sleep, you won't have any remembrance of them upon waking, almost as if they never happened. I don't know anything about the psychology of sleep, so I don't know if this is 100% true, but I'm more inclined to believe him than I am any other random person off the street.

I continued with this cycle of dreamlessness until Monday night. My dreams Monday were fairly average - just boring event dreams. I have a lot of these. They are usually about conversations with people or just time spent with people. When I wake, I have very vivid memories of the looks on their faces, the emotions they expressed, and the exact words they spoke.

When I'm not having these boring dreams, I'm usually digging into my small collection of recurring nightmares. I've had many in the past about being at the beach or at a beach house, weird things happening, and suddenly, waves start coming in. I retreat towards some sort of shelter, but they get bigger and bigger until we're dealing with an inescapable tsunami ordeal. Obviously, I wake before I meet my demise.

The rest of my recurring nightmares are all sort of common. The settings are different (although always luxurious), but they all have the same problem and the same feeling.

The one I had last night was one where I'm living in a mansion with my mother. Some of the rooms in the mansion (usually just the kitchen and the dining room) are the same as in our actual house. But the rest of this mansion is larger than any I've ever seen. It has ornate blue, red and gold carpets, grand staircases, beautiful victorian furniture, old lamps and chandeliers with old lightbulbs, a crappy old TV from the 70s (no idea), balconies, etc. On one wing of the house (if you were standing in front of it looking at it, it'd be on your right), is my bedroom - small, in girly colors with a more modern feel, and with only one tiny lamp so it's quite dark. The right wing of the house extends quite far (in symmetry with the left wing), but I never see anything else in it, only my bedroom.

I always leave my bedroom in these dreams to find my mother standing in the hallway across the big rotunda type room in between the two wings, where her huge bedroom and a library, among other rooms, are. She's always wearing clothes like she'd wear to go to work and telling me she has to leave in ten minutes or so. I acknowledge her and she tells me to behave, be careful, dinner's in the fridge, etc., as moms do. Off of this "rotunda" space, towards the front of the house is a large wall of glass looking out over the property in front (a huge garden) and a set of 20 or so stairs about 15 feet wide-ish leading down to a living area where the 70s TV and a pretty red velvet couch are hiding around the corner. When my mother leaves, I always settle into the room on this little couch. There's usually a black and white movie on TV, and occasionally I'm happily chatting away on the laptop.

And then it starts. There's this feeling. It feels like there's something there that I can't possibly escape from, that it's getting closer, and that it can see me but I can't see it. It's not so much a person or a ghost but some sort of force (I visualize it as a big, black, cloudy blob). I always stand up from where I'm sitting and look around as if I'll see it peeking out from my mother's room or the dark hallway near my bedroom, but I never see this thing. I usually rush around and try to gather some important things, like my cell phone or a coat or my keys. While doing this, I always try to contact someone. It's always one of two people, people that I trust and feel very safe with in real life, and I usually reach them on the phone long enough for them to tell me to just be calm and that it's probably nothing, but that if I feel that I need to, I should leave. At this point the feeling of this thing exponentially increases - it's much closer and I can almost see it or feel it near me. And then I wake up.

Every single time it happens like this with only minor changes. Sometimes I don't have the whole dream, only part of it. Sometimes it's in a swanky hotel or a museum. But in the end, I always feel like there's no way I can escape, like I'm trapped there with this thing.

This dream always leaves me a little rattled, even though it's not particular terrifying. It just gives me a very strange feeling. I'm sure I could psychologically relate it back to my feelings about the house I grew up in, of which I am now the sole inhabitant. I've always had strange feelings in that house as well that make me very uneasy. When my brother passed away, that feeling was intensified, and I often find myself looking over my shoulder when I'm moving about the house.

I never know what to think about all of this. Am I one of those "crazy people" who believes in ghosts and spirits and all of that stuff? Yes. I am. Do I believe that all ghosts/spirits are out to harm people or have the capacity to harm people? No. But I do think that there are surely some "entities" out there that possess the manifestation of energy to do so.

So there you have it. I believe in crazy things. And have crazy dreams. Maybe they mean nothing, or maybe they mean something kind of important. I really have no idea, but I find it all very interesting and want to get in the habit of journaling and analyzing my dreams to maybe learn a little bit about them or myself or something. I'm sure if something really interesting comes up in the future, I'll share it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hi again. I'm back in Charleston as of yesterday, so it seems sort of an appropriate time to give a little update.

I left PA feeling just as weird as when I arrived. It was just an unsettling trip - things are a little (ok a lot) hectic at home, and it was just overwhelming. I didn't absolutely hate it or anything, but it left me wishing I was back in Charleston.

I really didn't get a whole lot further with the doctor situation than I was before either. I have to return home for an MRI in July and am on some new meds, but other than that, nothing much has taken place in that field. I know things don't happen overnight, but it's very frustrating to be constantly playing a waiting and guessing game.

My trip back to Charleston was a good one. It was again split between two days, with a stop in Lynchburg, VA for the night. A friend of mine made a map for me, so I followed his directions the entire way home. It was a fun drive with lots of fun surprises popping up along the way. I had my first ferry experience, got to see a few nerdy Civil War things and took in some nice scenery along the way. I just wish I'd had more time to stop and poke around at places, but I'm sure I'll get the chance again in the future.
Ferry! You just can't see it because I suck at taking pictures. But fun, nonetheless.

The first day was definitely my favorite. While the second was nice, it brought me back into South Carolina, which is pretty much a really boring state, and which I'm not fond of in any respect at this point. Although I left PA excited to return to my apartment, as soon as I crossed the state line into SC, that feeling showed up again - the one that tells me I'm in the wrong place and that I'm making a big mistake. I still tried to enjoy the drive, and did have a little fun.

In North Carolina I saw more turtles than I've ever seen in my life before. Turtles walking into and sleeping in the road because it was warm with the sun beating down. The road is actually a really bad place for turtles. So I moved three of them that were at places where I could easily stop. Unfortunately, I am not a turtle superhero or anything, so many little shelly creatures were left basking in the road. It was kind of sad.

My first little turtle buddy. We bonded. Ignore camera strap (again, awesome picture).

My apartment feels really foreign to me since I've gotten here. It feels like a new place - I'm uncomfortable and don't know what to do with myself so I've been milling around and just cleaning up little things to pass the time. I feel awkward sitting in the living room, awkward sleeping in my bedroom, and even more awkward outside among my neighbors.

When I left for PA, I'd hoped that while I was there I could settle some things, that I would come up with some answers and figure out what I should be doing and where my life is going. I'm in some weird state of limbo and I'm not digging it. But unfortunately, nothing really resolved itself. The first thing that has to snap into place is the medical situation - I need to know what's wrong and what I have to do to fix it before I can make any big decisions, and there are a lot of big decisions to be made.

If anything, more things fell onto my pile of "what the hell is going on" type things while I was home. My mother told me maybe a week before I arrived that she was moving. After she and my father split, she and I stayed in the house I grew up in, which is owned by my father's parents. Due to family drama, she has decided she can no longer be there. I understand this, after all I'm trying to get away too. But walking into the house and seeing all the boxes really cemented the idea that she was moving. It's not like the house will be gone; my grandparents still own it and I think my father will be helping to take care of the little problems it has (old house). But I'm the only resident there now. When I go home, I will be there by myself in a house with 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a "playroom", kitchen, laundry room, dining room, and enclosed porch. I guess under different circumstances, I'd be happy to have a big house to myself, but the house itself and its energy (I'm not a new age hippie freak, but things have energies and "feelings", ok) leave me feeling very unsettled. It's too quiet, hidden back in the woods, and I always feel like I'm being watched. I'm just not sure how it'll be when I'm there alone, but at the same time, I don't want to sacrifice the last connection I have to the home I grew up in.

So that's it for personal news. It's a little boring, but really nothing else is going on in my life at the moment. I hope to get out of town a few times in the next couple of weeks and I've got two concerts coming up in July. But until then, nothing to share!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I like Vetiver. The plant and the band. But here, the band.

When I'm in the car, I listen to a lot of music that I don't really listen to otherwise. For the most part, this is because I have a lot of CDs (500+) and don't have a stereo set up right now or the patience to import all of them to iTunes. So when I go on trips, it's a chance to revisit things I haven't heard in awhile for whatever reason. I keep adding CDs to my car until it's a total mess and then I have to reevaluate my choices.

One CD (which is digitally available to me, but I just haven't listened to recently) had been floating around my car for awhile without me ever listening to it. It's by this band called Vetiver. I saw Vetiver live opening for The Shins in what I think was 2007. I never actually saw The Shins on stage - it could've been a tape recorder playing back for all I knew - because I am so short and once the place filled up, I couldn't see anything. So Vetiver was all I got visually that evening. Everybody in the room seemed disinterested, including the boyfriend I went with to the show. But I had heard of the band, yet never heard their work, so I was kind of curious. My attentiveness paid off. The other people in the room that heard this band live seemed to be a bit less than thrilled. I liked them though. And it led to me checking out their albums, and I'm glad I did - they're not quite as fantastic live as recorded, but such is life.

Their first album (2004) is self-titled. And really good. For me, it's a very wintery album - dead trees and falling snow. That could just be because most of my memories of listening to it are from winter of 2007. Anyway, it's really good. Mostly acoustic and heavyish strings.

There was an EP released in 2005 which I have never heard, and then the second album. The second album is what I listened to on my trip through Pennsylvania a few days ago. It's rare that I'll listen to the same album over and over again, but it just had been a long time and I was surprised to find how much I like this one. It's called To Find Me Gone (2006) and it's a little more musically dense than the first album. While a lot of the acoustic sound is still there, it's just layered out a bit more with some electrics and some more production. This album is one of few that have not only an emotional effect on me but also a clear physical one. It's just very soothing to me - my breathing slows and becomes far more steady and controlled and I just am calm and such. I blame it on the repetition - the progressions are purely repetitive, but pretty much in a good way.

The first two albums were by far my favorite. I own the third one, Thing Of The Past (2008), which is an album of covers, but I've only listened to it once. To be fair, it could grow on me if I give it another chance, but it just didn't grab onto me from the first listen. They released another EP in 2008 of more covers, called More Of The Past, which I've also never heard. Their latest release is another album, which I just haven't gotten around to yet, called Tight Knit. I probably will check that out in the near future.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I really like this band and you should check them out. They supposedly belong to the "freak folk" genre, which I'd never heard of until I just looked up some info about their discography. I'm not good with genres, and I don't like them. I'm also not good with descriptions of what bands sound like, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that *to me*, Vetiver sound like Sam Beam (Iron&Wine) + Nick Drake + Devendra Banhart (who is featured on Vetiver's albums). But mostly, they sound like Vetiver to me. So check them out.

I have a hard time choosing "favorite" songs from the two albums I know, because I like them all. But I tried to, and there aren't any YouTube videos or anything for them anyway. So I'll leave you with links to a handful of those videos where it's just pictures or the album cover. That way, you at least get the recorded versions and get them clearly, and you can click them at your own discretion.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Google Maps Experiment: Part 2

I woke up on the second day of my trip feeling unrested and wanting to pull the covers back over my face and just forget about the rest of the drive. Being in a hotel room for the night freaked my dog out a little. This doesn't usually happen - I think it had something to do with the fact that the room was so huge and open and that the air conditioning unit sounded like a helicopter. She wouldn't sleep on the floor, so I let her up onto the bed with me. Most of the night she did alright, but from about 4 a.m. on, she repeatedly crossed from one side of the bed to the other, paying no mind to my legs in the middle. While I showered, she curled up on the floor and finally slept just like she normally does.

We left Ashland, VA at about 10 a.m. and supposedly had a drive of 6 hours and 15 minutes ahead of us. I had very tiny stretches of interstate to go through, and then another slightly longer one on I-81 (it was still relatively short), but once I crossed into Pennsylvania, it was all country driving. I have to say it was the most enjoyable drive I've ever had through Pennsylvania. I loved it, and will probably do it in the opposite direction when I go home.

I don't think I had been to any of the places I passed through in PA (until the small towns close to my home). My favorite part of this entire trip was passing through Tuscarora State Forest and the surrounding area. It's just so beautiful there - living in Charleston, and really the South in general, has got me missing good views. I miss vast, sweeping landscapes. And I got a lot of them as I drove through the mountains. I had some nice ones in northern VA too - there were rolling hills and vineyards all around. But they were no competition for what PA had to offer.

It was a great experience with a few really terrifying moments. Driving on those curvy, winding mountain roads was a really fun time. Until you realize you have to go down what you came up. These roads are on such steep inclines, which isn't such a horrible problem, but with the curves and the signs warning you that 20 mph is probably the speed you should be going, it was just a bit trying. A distance of less than a tenth of a mile was increasing my speed by up to 15 mph just coasting. Multiple times I hit 65 mph while trying to maintain 45 and thought to myself 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna die. Just like in the movies. With the car and the cliff and oh god.' But it all turned out well.

I didn't stop anywhere along the way, not that there would've been many places to stop. What I was seeing while I was moving was good enough for me. I didn't get lost but once, and the mistake was easy enough to fix. I made it home about right on time according the the time estimate Google gave me.

So it was a fun trip. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Meaning I'd do the same route again (minus Franklin) or I'd do the random Google Maps thing again. I'd just split my distances better between days next time.

Now that I'm home in PA, things are very weird. There's a lot going on and it just feels strange to me. I always get a really awful feeling when I arrive at a place I call home (meaning I've lived there for probably a year or more). It's a feeling of disappointment in the place and also in myself. It's not that I've done anything particularly to create this disappointment, it just happens. It's almost like a feeling that I'm doing everything wrong in my life combined with a feeling that I shouldn't have come here. Irrational and without explanation, it usually comes and goes within my first day or two of being here. So we'll see how it goes. I've got that feeling combined with feelings surrounding the changes in my family and all the events happening. I don't like being moody/mopey/less than elated, so I'm really hoping things will straighten out in the near future. I need some kind of definite indication of where my life is going next. I have a good idea, but a guarantee would be good.

Tomorrow morning is my first doctor's appointment to get the ball rolling on finding a solution for all the stupid issues I've been having. I'm kind of nervous - also a familiar feeling. I always feel nervous when I go to a doctor's office. When I was a kid, it wasn't uncommon for my parents to assume I was making up whatever was wrong with me. I will say, just like every kid, I faked sick to play hookie a few times in my younger years. But generally, I don't say anything about being sick or experiencing discomfort unless it's really, really bothering me. I guess my nervousness surrounding doctor's visits is that they'll take the same attitude my parents did when I was younger - that I'm making it up. I've only had it happen once, when all tests came back negative, and a change in doctors quickly changed the diagnosis. So anyway, I hope it goes alright. We shall see.

Nothing much is going on otherwise. Surely something will come up before the week is over though.

Friday, May 07, 2010

My Google Maps Experiment: Part 1

So, as I mentioned in my last entry, I was playing around with Google Maps a bit and debating taking a different route from Charleston to central PA than my usual I-95 drive.

When I got this idea, it was because I was bored with seeing the same thing all the time and didn't think I could handle 13 hours straight in the car this time around. There was no great formula behind creating an awesome map and I didn't work around any experience - I had never traveled most of what I selected so I had no idea what I would encounter along the way, and I didn't particularly have a list of cool things that I wanted to see that influenced my map choices. Basically I dragged the little blue line around to roads I hadn't been on that maybe went through some towns I wanted to see and that weren't interstates, but that at the same time didn't double my total trip time or anything drastic like that. Maybe once I get home, I'll share the map if I remembered to save it.

I was very nervous about taking some random route. It's not that I'm not a good driver, or that I can't read maps or anything. I wasn't able to upload the map I ended up with to my GPS unit, and while the world has long functioned without GPS, it really is a great advantage over trying to read directions AND drive at the same time. Had I had a navigator, I would've had no qualms about this at all. But I was looking at the final directions and seeing turns and merges and such that occurred back to back every couple hundred feet for a small stretch and I was just thinking of the impending disaster. This stretch did, in fact, kick my ass, but not because I didn't read the directions.

Anyway, today was the first day of my drive. I think I traveled like 500ish miles - not the best budgeting on my part, but I was convinced I needed to get past Richmond, VA on day one. Don't know why, just felt it necessary. I headed up US 17 for most of the trip. As I passed through Myrtle Beach, I had a really weird experience.

A few years ago, while I was living with the at-the-time-boyfriend, I had this dream. It happened twice, and then never again. But in this dream we (he, I, and a bunch of my friends from school) were in Baltimore, MD. Inner Harbor, to be specific. And we entered this nightclub. The club itself was two floors and mostly glass, so you could look out over the harbor area from all directions in the club. This club was called Club Kryptonite. I was a little shocked today when I was sitting at a red light and gazed past the stupid Planet Hollywood on the corner to see this large coliseum-looking thing with a 'K' inside of the shape that is on Superman's costume/uniform/whateverthehell. This was the logo from the dream. In fact, the door/entrance of the building looked the same. Large pillars, sort of dramatic. The club itself wasn't at all right...but it just took me aback a bit. I had never been to this section of Myrtle Beach before, so it wasn't some vague memory hanging out or anything. Nor do I think "oooo I'm super psychic!" I just think it was a weird coincidence.

Right. So I carried on with the US 17 thing through North Carolina. Very pretty, NC. I think I could live in various parts of the state for maybe 3 months at a time in each place. (This is an estimate.) There are lots of big, beautiful rivers and lots of trees - mixed forest type trees, not just the same boring trees over and over. Don't get me wrong, I like trees from the palm family, but it's getting a little monotonous. North Carolina has lots of evergreen type things. And they also have some cypress trees growing around the edges of certain bodies of water. I like cypresses A LOT.

North Carolina seemed to go on forever, and then I got to Virginia. My directions in VA (which were generated by Google Maps, not written by me, so prob sort of my fault but wtf Google?) ended up being sort of confusing at best. It also didn't help that my only indication that I'd actually entered Virginia were the "Speed checked by radar" signs. The long stretches of road that wound through some random forests were nice. Loved them. It was shady, there were hardly any cars on the road, and it gave me the chance to (reasonably safely) have a little car commercial fantasy and see how my new(ish) car handles on slightly curvy/banky roads. I haven't had a lot of chance to figure that out before today, but now I know and it's all good. With shitty alignment and tires that desperately need replaced, she still drives like a dream. *sigh*

Okay so the major problem occurred surrounding the following directions.

In theory, these are great. I looked over everything while I stopped to let the puppy walk around, and I had it down. I was ready to go. NCarolina 11 went fine - very fun. There were no signs ANYWHERE I could find indicating that I was ever on Beachwood Blvd. until I was far past where I supposedly should've been seeing these signs. I hadn't seen a single US-258 N sign. Until I saw at the same time a US-258 S sign. I got temporarily distracted by this, but quickly righted myself and was back on this 19 mile stretch to the actual US-258 S I should've been turning onto. Except...when I got there, that sign was not there. It was somewhere else. And it wouldn't lead me to the weird branches of 58 I was supposed to be hitting. Believe me. I tried. And tried. And tried some more. I retraced myself for a good 25 minutes before I said fuck it and tried it my own way. I ignored the "Business" part of the directions and figured eventually I'd get where I needed to go. Not so. I ended up somewhere residential with no signs for anything that I could find in any direction. And I was so confused that I couldn't get my directions straight. So, throwing in the towel, realizing that there was very little driving left until I arrived at I-95 to get me to my hotel, I turned on the GPS unit. I figured it could at least get me the hell out of that shitty little town (Franklin, VA btw) and get me back onto some sort of track. That would've been great except I was getting ZERO satellite contact. I spent another 20 or so minutes just driving around trying to get some sort of connection. I got nothing until I accidentally ended up in the middle of an industrial park for some steel mill or something. Luckily, the GPS chose the same route as my Google Maps one. Except that little section of directions I showed you was about halved. Half of those steps did not exist. Maybe I'm just blind, or selectively perceptive, but it only took me three of these steps via GPS to get where I needed to go. It was not a big huge super awful ordeal - but frustrating nonetheless. Patience can be, but sometimes is not, my greatest quality. My first 9 hour day ended up being an 11.5 hour day. I did get to stop and check out a few more things than usual, which was nice. But 11.5 hours was a bit much for me at this point.

Tomorrow will be shorter. Despite the slight temptation to just get home, I'm going to finish this out the way I planned tomorrow. And it'll be fine. I refuse to get ridiculously "bad" lost!

Anyway. I'm babbling. This is really of no consequence, but I can't sleep so I figured why the hell not. :) That's how it goes around here, get used to it.