Today’s Fresh Air featured the second half of a recent interview in which political satirist Stephen Colbert, also an accomplished singer, discussed “musical moments” he finds particularly meaningful. He loves the Herod song from Jesus Christ Superstar, and a mid-seventies demo by Elvis Costello, but the one that caught my attention was a song by the Ben Folds Five called Best Imitation of Myself. Continue reading
This is how I find new music: I subscribe to NPR’s song of the day (or I used to—I’m just realizing I haven’t gotten a song in months—did they discontinue it?), and I read the music section of The Week (which is the only magazine I still get in print and will continue to do until they stop printing, like Newsweek this week announced they will next year.) Then I go to Spotify and listen to the recommended music and decide if I like it.
A few weeks ago, The Week aggregated reviews of two of my favorite artists, Grizzly Bear and Dwight Yoakam. Completely different styles, owing I guess to my background in college radio, which actually began post-college—in law school, as soon as I realized I was not, at heart, a lawyer and needed a creative outlet—and extended longer than it should have, into my mid-twenties when I finally realized it was time to get out of the way of the actual college students who had the valid claim to college radio I could no longer even fake.
Anyway, The Week reviewed the new albums by both artists in the same issue, and to be honest I was more excited about GB. Until I listened to the albums. And here’s what I found: GB’s new album, Shields, is pretty good. And I think it’s pretty universally acknowledged they’re hipper than Dwight Yoakam, even though his country-music stylings are definitely alternative.
But I like 3 Pears better. From the first chords of the first cut, I felt something familiar but fresh. GB sounded familiar too–but a bit stale. For whatever any of this is worth, I recommend Dwight Yoakam 3 Pears.
When I was laid off last December, I thought I’d never find a job as great as the one I’d just lost—researching and writing for Wall Street. It was the job that saved me from being a lawyer, and after six years away, I knew I didn’t want to go back to practicing law; I wanted to write for a living.
So I joined every LinkedIn group I could find with the words writer or editor in the name, signed up for hiring alerts about writing and editing jobs, even offered my editing services for no compensation but the credit. And because I’d heard about (though I hadn’t seen or read) The Secret, I began to visualize myself—and even to refer to myself—as a writer. Continue reading
It’s the second day of the third week of my new job, and it’s difficult for me to fathom how completely employed I’ve become. I’m launching my third report with a 7 AM call to China, and over the next two weeks I’ll have eight reports in the field, four of which I’m responsible for researching and writing, six of which I’m editing. I’m working 10-to 11-hour days and since I work at home when I shut down for the day it’s literal: I shut down my laptop, feed the dogs, eat dinner, go to bed.
I have other commitments that are important to me as well, and they’re not being met. The podcasts need to be scheduled, the vampire novel is still in edits, my dogs need to go to the vet. I’m supposed to leave town next Friday for a class reunion but I don’t see how I can possibly take a day off.
I got up this morning at 4, not because I had to but because I couldn’t breathe, the weight of my schedule and the claustrophobia of waking up in my office shoving me into a day I was not ready to begin. This is unsustainable; this constant state of panic is unproductive and will make me sick. I need a time management plan, a support system, yoga, maybe…or maybe just a friend.
“We’re all strangers. Remember that and be kind to one another.”
That’s how Garrison Keillor ended The News from Lake Woebegone on today’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and it reminded me of a line from the late Dixie Carter‘s character Julia Sugarbaker on “Designing Women.” I have no memory of the episode—except that a couple of the title characters were rude to a woman they felt had slighted them, then felt bad when they discovered she was going through a personal tragedy—but I’ve always remembered the line: “We never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. That’s why it’s so important to be careful with each other’s feelings.” Continue reading
When Rachel and I were first hanging out together—trying to reimagine ourselves in our ravaged city—we coined a phrase to describe the crushing depression we both experienced at times on awakening, the dread that sat on our chests proclaiming its dominance over our day before we’d even opened our eyes. We called it “feeling Eli.” Continue reading
So we had a hurricane blow through and it took us off the grid for a hard five days. We got power back Saturday night but the cable went out today, and with no internet access in the neighborhood and a new job beginning tomorrow, I am nervous. Even though today is a holiday, I need to be online studying.
I’ll be working at my old company again, work I loved the first time around, work that saved me from living the rest of my life as a lawyer. But as always when I begin new work, I am panic-stricken; like many women, I suffer from imposter syndrome, deeply convinced that each new job, each new position, each new promotion was a fluke, that I if they knew how unqualified I really am they wouldn’t let me work anywhere. Continue reading
I knew it would happen someday. But seriously, the timing couldn’t have been worse.
The Southwest jet I was flying on the first leg of my return trip from New York was beginning its descent to the Baltimore airport. I was in an aisle seat to accommodate my claustrophobia, the anxiety meds and the empty middle seat creating a pleasant haze of well-being. Until a flight attendant, a man well into his fifties, approached to tell my seatmate to raise her tray table for landing.
He placed his hand lightly on my shoulder.
“Excuse me, young lady,” he simpered, before leaning over me to address the real young lady, the teenager by the window.
“Miss,” he said to her, and I felt the buzz evaporate and the color drain from my face.
My first young lady. Continue reading
I love spending my birthday in New York because every time I do, complete strangers make me feel like a million dollars. The tradition began the year I turned 45 when a guy I’d been dating ardently and exclusively for months pulled an unexpected disappearing act just before my birthday, leaving me feeling desolate and insecure. Although friends were planning an extravagant dinner, I knew that when the night was over I’d be coming home alone, so I ditched them for 8 million strangers and booked a week-long trip to New York. Continue reading