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Playlist for my past

This month has gotten me thinking about the way life changes, seemingly at a more rapid pace each year. Yesterday would have marked my 9 year wedding anniversary, had I chosen to stay married. The end of this month also marks two years since the death of an ex boyfriend. So much has changed in my 20s and I created a playlist that took me on an emotional journey through some of these experiences and relationships. I’ll go back to the beginning of sorts, my first real relationship- my ex husband.

Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen

Michael said this song made him think of me. To this day certain elements of it hold true. I still give away certain things too easily, but I closely guard my real emotions and trust.

Somehow Someday by Ryan Adams

The longing and nostalgia of this song, questioning what might have gone differently, really summed up my feelings after the divorce. I was still a child in so many ways and I know it was good I set out on my own, but what would have happened if I had stuck it out? Would we have a house? Kids? I think one of the parts that strikes me the most is the line “There ain’t no way I’ll ever stop from loving you now.” As I grow further away from that time in my life, I know that I don’t have any of that same love for Michael. He has a special place in my memory, but love for him has faded into a vague wisp, like a familiar cologne wafting by out of the blue.

We looked like Giants by Death Cab for Cutie

Morgan was an easy substitution as I made my way past marriage. He was intelligent and attractive, though not very socially adept. I struggled to gain approval and a place in his life. During quiet moments in his room we would take a break from the alternative rock that he loved so much and listen to Transatlanticism. This song became synonymous with my brief romance and the attempt at being a normal 21 year old.

I went a little wild after Morgan, before falling head over heels for Nick.

You Make it Easy by Air/ Here in My Room by Incubus

The intense attraction and attention that Nick bestowed upon me felt like the “real deal.” We acted silly, we would kiss each other as much as we wanted. We both were so desperate to make the other person better while completely distrusting one another because of our pasts. It was an obsessive love that was clearly doomed to fail. Even so, I remember him making me a cd with these songs and telling me how crazy he was about me. That warm glow of adoration infused me like a drug and I needed more. When we broke up I was devastated and spent the next year alternating between love and hate for him. I’d get a taste of him, then cower in my bed, shaking like an addict going through withdrawals. As the years have progressed, we are now able to talk to one another without searching for hidden signals or any lingering animosity. Time does heal all wounds.

Lover, You Should Have Come Over by Jeff Buckley

I have a feeling that this song will always make me a little sad, will always make me think of how things could have gone differently for Travis. From the first weeks of our relationship, it was clear that Travis carried some baggage. He had never forgiven himself for a night back in high school when his best friend died in a car crash (strangely enough, my parents were the first to come across this same crash and saw his friend thrown from the car. Small towns, you know). Travis was verbally and physically abusive, he drank and took pills, he would sneak out at four in the morning and not return until the next day sometimes…but I still saw the beautiful qualities as well. He liked art. He was passionate about the affect of music in his life. He was very intelligent and well spoken, able to express his perception of life so eloquently (if he was sober).

We ended with me calling the police to take him from my house. I still knew he was around because he would leave me his version of love notes- a new form of vandalism for my car every week. I ended up moving to California a few months after we broke up. So did he, but he had joined a rehab program in San Francisco. I would ignore his calls until one day I didn’t recognize the number. He apologized for everything and I knew I forgave him.

The last time we spoke he was asking about this song by Jeff Buckley. In our better times we would light candles and play Grace in its entirety. Travis sounded weary and we both hesitated to end the conversation. About two months later I received a call from Nick (once again, small town) and he told me that Travis was dead. I played this song on repeat and cried, feeling like I would never be okay. “Lover, you should have come over. It’s not too late.” I felt like I was too late, but I didn’t know what for.

Amanda/Every time we say goodbye by Graham Dechter

Well, this one is easy- the intro was written for me. Graham holds a special place for me because he is the reason I moved back to California. He helped me to make a move with my life that I don’t know I would have gone through if I had been alone. He was also the first person to show me how an affluent family live their lives and ways to fit in in SoCal. That might sound absurd, but his family introduced me to a different perspective that has been quite valuable.

Won’t You Come Home by Devendra Banhart/ Go Home by Lucius

David is my second longest relationship besides my ex husband. I thought we would get married. I ached so much for him to love me more than his band, but I felt like I could never compete. I know that it wasn’t so much me versus his band, but me taking time and energy from his dream. Since he was constantly touring, we never saw each other and I began to feel like he was this mythic phantom boyfriend. Somehow I knew things were done, but I clung to the idea of forever. Devendra Banhart has the line “Why don’t you want to stay here suspended/in the dead arms of a year that has ended.” This completely summed up my feelings.

The day after David and I broke up, I found out I was pregnant. Timing is HILARIOUS. Not only was I hormonal and upset from a long relationship ending, but I now had to figure out by myself what to do with a potential human. David said he didn’t want any part of it, that it was “my thing.” I went to appointments by myself. I would cry in the bathroom at work. I would enjoy the words from this song by Lucius- “I don’t need you anyway, I don’t need you, go home,” somehow seeing the dual realities of vulnerability and found strength. I had a miscarriage, once again giving me the dual feelings of relief and anguish. David was a huge part of my life, but I think of this as my experience, my story. I began to see how I could break out of the cycle of constantly needing to be validated by a relationship.

We No Who U R by Nick Cave

I took comfort after David with Tommy, a kind and generous friend five years my junior. As we began our relationship, Tommy would play his Nick Cave record as the clouds hung silently on the LA winter morning. The deep, rough voice cut through my mind, supplanting my love for David and bestowing it upon this gentle, handsome guy who happily held my hand and made me breakfast each morning. Everything about him screamed “Mr Right,” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We recently broke up, giving me one of the first real opportunities to have freedom in my 20s.

Wide Eyes by Local Natives

“Oh to see it with my own eyes.” I feel this lightness as I end my playlist with a song for me. I’m about 99% sure this song is about acid, but it still resonates with my life shift and new perspective. I want to see the world through my own eyes. I want to make decisions that are just for me. I want to learn more about myself and continue to find value in who I am rather than just I what I can do for others.

I love that these songs bring me back. At one point they might have been too much to bear, overwhelming me with feelings and no understanding of how to deal. Now this playlist is a gentle river ride down memory lane rather than the sinking ship in an emotional storm.


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The war on Christmas!

December is that special time of year where lights are hung, spirits are high, presents are bought and the argument over what it’s all about comes up again. This year has not failed in producing a few special opinions from those who shame the name of Christians and Christmas spirit. I think white santa will be skipping the houses of some very naughty conservatives this year.

Fox News had a moment of sheer lunacy when anchor Megyn Kelly discussed that Santa is white. He just is. Deal with it, black kids. Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean we need to change! She went on even more gracefully by stating “I mean, Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure and that’s verifiable fact, as is santa- I just want the kids watching to know that.” I am very curious how Jesus is historically known to be white when he lived in the Middle East. And the dear santa we know and love today isn’t what I would call a “historical figure.” I see no harm in having a Santa with different skin. Hey, if we can have a black president in the United States, anything is possible!

Ah, but the war doesn’t end there. Not only is Christmas being corrupted (because our materialistic santa-centered take on it is SO appropriate), but Christians themselves are being persecuted now! Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson came under fire for comments against homosexuality. Not only did his interview in GQ start a huge debate, but an anti-gay sermon recently surfaced where Robertson says “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents and they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Wait, I’m confused. Who is being discriminated against?

With such incendiary comments, there are bound to be high emotions on both sides of the issue. GOP congressional candidate Ian Bayne (Illinois) likened Robertson to Rosa Parks.

“In December 1955 Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians.”

So when did Christians get jailed for sitting in the wrong seat or using the wrong bathroom, or are not allowed to marry the person of their choice? Is it because his position on the show has been threatened? People are arguing for his 1st amendment rights. Yes, he has the right to say bigoted, idiotic vitriol, but his employer has the right to fire him for poorly representing their brand.


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VMAs

The Internet is flooded with opinions on Miley Cyrus’ performance at the 2013 VMAs. “Disgusting!” “Daring!” “She knew the attention she’d get, smart.” I think everyone can agree that it was weird.

I wish that the commentary revolved around her pitchy and sub-par singing, but her tongue and foam finger humping have won out. It’s pathetic to me that people can’t rely on their talent to make headlines and have to jump to tasteless antics. I have a fairly open mind about pushing the boundaries in the artistic world, but I really saw no artistic value to her sticking a foam finger between her legs with her tongue hanging out the entire time.

Some would say this is her winning because people are talking about it. No such thing as bad press, right? I didn’t have much respect for Miley Cyrus from the beginning, but now I just think she’s classless and doesn’t have any real talent to display. I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way, and I don’t see her picking up new fans from this stunt.

Is this what our entertainment has come to? One can become famous if you have a famous family member and you’re willing to show some skin and get freaky. One can get famous with a sex tape. One can get attention without focusing on their talents, but pushing the limits of eccentricity. This relates to more than just Miley’s VMA performance (meat dress, I’m looking at you).

Shit, I will hate if the foam finger thing becomes a “thing.”


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Paula Deen

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3480720

Paula Deen has been all over the news. I see memes and comments from people in online forums about how she should be forgiven for something she said “30 years ago” (referencing her admitting to using the N word when robbed at gunpoint). As more and more surfaces about her, it’s clear her attitude towards race is not exactly up to date. Yes she was raised in a “different generation.” So were my parents. My dad is from the south. A bunch of my family still lives in the south. Are some of them racist? Unfortunately so. So what’s the big deal with Paula Deen?

This lady is all about her southern image and upbringing. She has worked up to a point of celebrity, a feat which surely wasn’t easy. I have to admit, I’ve watched her show and giggled, joking with my boyfriend about our dinner needing “more butter, y’all.” She isn’t just a chef. She’s a brand. Her brand depends on the support of big business who carries her show and products. Those big businesses (who also have their own flaws as many online discussions brought up) do not want to be associated with someone who appears to be racist. So there go some of her backers.

“But rappers use the N word all the time!” Okay. I’ve heard black people calling each other the N word, sometimes with good connotation, sometimes bad. Why is it allowed for them to call each other that word? Because they don’t have a history of enslaving another race and using the term to belittle and humiliate. As with other slurs, the word has been reappropriated to take the power from white society. Women have taken the C word and worked to turn the power away from men using it in a similar fashion. Do these words still hurt? I think so, but they are given as much power as one lets them. Not all black people get offended at the use of the N word. But some do, making it offensive as a whole to use that slur.

With Paula Deen, her attitude has not really conveyed much emotion beyond her own personal grief at losing so much. Even news anchors and experts talked about the lack of sincerity within her Today show appearance. She tried to justify her use of the word, but that means she doesn’t feel guilt about using it. Therein lies the problem. It also comes back to comments she has made more recently (see video above) that outline her dated view on race issues in America.

She can be seen as a role model because she is heavily in the public eye. I think it’s good that Americans are talking race issues in light of this whole debacle because it is something that isn’t resolved in our country. There are still people using racial slurs about our first black president. There are still far more minorities in prisons than whites. There are schools that only recently held racially integrated functions (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3480720).

Paula Deen had a moment to make a stand against racism, but she chose to stand only for herself. I don’t feel sympathy for her or her crumbling brand.


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The safety of being online?

In the news: a teenager facing jail time for making the “sarcastic” comment “oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” He is looking at 8 years for “terroristic threats.”

How it went down: This 18 year old, Justin Carter, was talking to another gamer online. A comment from another gamer called Justin “insane, crazy, messed up in the head,” eliciting his inappropriate response. An outsider following the conversation reported it to police, obviously feeling it merited more than just a shrug.

This has gotten lots of responses from people online, mainly criticizing Obama (okay?) and our government over reacting. It’s funny because after a tragedy people wonder why nobody had done anything when signs pointed to odd behavior. Maybe this kid would never shoot up a school. Maybe he is just a punk. He’s obviously stupid to make a comment like this only two months after Sandy Hook. It is not only distasteful, but truly could be seen as threatening.

Carter’s father defends his son by saying he doesn’t watch the news or read newspapers. I don’t think that ignorance is the best defense, plus he clearly knew what he was insinuating.

So do I think he needs 8 years in prison? That seems a bit much if he has zero priors and undergoes a psych evaluation. I don’t think that we should turn the other way because someone claims to be sarcastic when making disgusting remarks. Someone who says them really means it and as we have learned, it’s easier to do something when the words are first spoken then after a tragedy occurs.


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Progress

Today made me hopeful. It also made me sad to see the work still yet to be done. DOMA is dead, as is Prop 8, making a step forward in equality. Crazies who are behind the times will always pop up (see http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/5-craziest-reactions-high-courts-marriage-equality-rulings) but the majority of people are moving forward with a logical society (on this topic).

Then there is Texas. I got into some debates with people (yet again) on the issue of abortion. Texas is idiotic if they shut down clinics across the state. If the past showed us anything, women will still find ways to eliminate unwanted pregnancies, but at a much greater risk to themselves. I was also sickened by the men and women who likened pregnant ladies to a “vessel for the next generation” and said that they no longer mattered- only the fetus in them. Yikes. That’s a whole mess of crazy that reason will never penetrate. Hopefully those in power will do the right thing, but that’s offering a lot of credit for Texas Republicans. They need more people like Wendy Davis.

So I’m celebrating the victories and hoping for more to come.


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My personal problems with guns

I haven’t written much lately, mainly because I’ve had a lot on my mind to sort through. Gun violence happens in the news every day, but this last month brought it knocking on my door twice.

A family friend named Colleen was murdered last month in her own home as she opened the door to a neighbor who intentionally sought to kill her because he detected “evil” coming off her. This man had been arrested in 2009 for attacking a female neighbor he thought was a molesting vampire. After shooting Colleen twice, he went on the news, publicly calling the murderer an animal and describing Colleen as a good person who was a friend and neighbor for 20 years. News reports are saying this man is a schizophrenic who decided not to take his meds anymore. He lived with his mother. His deceased father was an arms dealer, which is most likely how he obtained his cache of weapons.

Obviously this story has several moments that all added up to the tragic death of Colleen, a dedicated single mother to a highly autistic 15 year old son. This man clearly had a mental disorder that was not being addressed. His mother did nothing to help him, though his prior behavior indicated he was unstable. His mother also allowed him access to weapons, which means she should additionally be held responsible for the death of Colleen. People say we need to address how mental health his handled in our country. This is true, but something everyone can do right now to cut gun deaths is making sure weapons are locked away in the home, out of reach from children and unstable family members. Ammunition can also be stored separately from the weapon.

In our gun culture, some folks look at rights and lose sight of common sense. Yes, one can own a gun, but that comes with the responsibility of the lives put at risk if that gun is not stored and handled properly. The second amendment isn’t a free pass.

This murder made me see the dark side of the gun debate in people I know. I posted an article with the acknowledgment that gun culture is fucked up in our society. I got some responses that had nothing to do with saying “sorry for your loss” or “I understand this must be difficult, but…” I get that this is my opinion and others don’t see why I am in favor of expanded background checks, mandated safety training, harsher penalties for unlawful sales, etc, but at least have the decency to recognize that somebody I care about was shot to death before launching into a pro-second amendment rant. Humanity comes before gun rights, and if that isn’t clear, maybe someone in the conversation has lost their shit and shouldn’t own a gun anyway.

The second news-worthy gun attack happened at Santa Monica College, close to where I live. An unstable man killed his family, then went on a shooting spree through the streets of Los Angeles. This happened blocks from where I work. He shot up a bus that I ride. Someone I know was in the library when he came in shooting.

Did you hear about this story? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you already forgot about it. These tragedies shouldn’t be so common place that a new gun spree out-shadows the one that happened a few weeks ago. This is further proof that our society needs to make an effort to change.

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