Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anatomy of a Mix Tape

My friend and fellow playwright EM Lewis is moving to Princeton for a fellowship, and she recently posted on her facebook wall that she would be in need of some moving music ("music to move to," not "music to make her emotional." But I have both.). I thought I would make her a traditional Jackie mix, but my iTunes is sort of broken since I had to move all of my music off of my computer so that my computer would, ahem, keep working (I have a lot of music and an old computer).

By a stroke of luck called a giant car accident, I'm driving my dad's Jeep and the only disc in it is my holiday mix from 2008. So I'm going to make EM a copy of that, since I still love all the songs on it. As I've been listening to it (constantly, on a loop, for the past 2 weeks), I've been thinking about what each of the songs means to me. I was thinking it would be cool to give Ellen a written record of that, since we're both writers and all, but since we're also both bloggers and all, I thought it might be fun to blog about it. So here you are - anatomy of a mix tape from December 2008. I linked to lyrics when available. I also took care to not link to lyrics pages with annoying pop-ups. You're welcome. (Extra thanks to for making that easier.) And without further adieu...

Jingle Bells (Barbra Streisand)

It feels so wrong to listen to this song when it's not the holidays. So wrong, in fact, that I've skipped over it every day but today, and that was only so I could accurately do this post. This is my favorite version of any Christmas song ever. My mom and sister and I sing it to each other to make each other laugh. I think that Toni Collette in United States of Tara (the show that Donna and I are currently addicted to, check it out) is channeling Babs to do her most recent alter, Shoshanna.

Jesus on the Radio (Guster)

I still love Guster even though my sister has informed me that they are not a good band. Nick and I went to a ton of Guster shows in college and their music still makes me happy. This song has my birthday in the first line ("5 am, March 16") and I have no idea why. I also think of Brandon when I listen to this album because of another song that was on a different mix ("Come Downstairs and Say Hello" - another fantastic song).

Everybody Got Their Something (Nikka Costa)

This song was a part of Cati Jean's dance warmup for a short time, and I think it must also have been played on the radio or something because I remember hearing it a lot at some point. It cheers me up but I stopped listening to it for a while because it was so overplayed. Kind of like "Kids" by MGMT (which is not on this mix).

Misery Business (Paramore)

There are so many better songs by Paramore, I'm not sure why I put this one on there. Must have just gotten the CD. CrushCrushCrush is far superior. Sorry Ellen.

The Moneymaker (Rilo Kiley)

I was temp PA'ing on a show at Sunset/Gower and was listening to this song pretty much on repeat. Craig Golin and I listened to it on the way to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles one day and he commented that it was a cool song. My convertible top still worked and I was loving LA even though I had just gotten fired (from a different television job). I also think this song would be great for a pole/strip class - and my friend Natalie teaches those classes, so Nat, here's a new song for ya. One of these days I'll come to your class. :)

Running Up That Hill (Placebo)

This is a great song to run to - something about the beats per minute make it exactly the right rhythm for me. Before I got Bear I was down to 8:30 minutes/mile, and I owe a lot of that to this song. I also absolutely love the lyrics - it's a cover of a Kate Bush song. "Meds" by Placebo is also a fantastic song.

Separate Ways (Journey, Greatest Hits Live)

I love this song, and I love that he says "domo arigato Tokyo!" at the end. Lately it makes me think of my friend Leilani, who calls herself "Reirani" sometimes, which cracks me up. No mix tape is complete for me without a bit of Journey. I sing along, and I sing along loud, and if you've ever done karaoke with me you know that "Faithfully" is my fallback song. In fact, when I went to google the lyrics I accidentally typed in "Faithfully Journey lyrics."

Stacked Actors (Foo Fighters)

I thought Ellen would appreciate this one - I listen to it when I'm having a bad day as a stage manager and I want to kill all the actors (except Tristan and Laura and Rebecca, of course. And a lot of other actors too. I'm such a softie.). Read the lyrics to find out why.

I'm Alive (Heather Nova)

This song is my "ode to bipolar disorder." It's about a guy (as are most sad lady-songs), but nothing and no one has pissed me off as much as my illness. With the help of my friend Marc, I'm working on changing my relationship with that illness. But in the meantime, whenever I get upset I put this song on and it reminds me that everyone deals with being pissed off sometimes.

Suddenly I See (KT Tunstall)

This song and the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" go hand in hand for me. And I like that movie, and I like this song. It also makes me think of Bianca for some reason - probably because she's tall and dresses well. I intentionally put a happy song on after "I'm Alive." Because if there's one thing I learned from "High Fidelity," it's how to balance a mix.

Lift Me Out (Jackie Moses/Jeff Mendel)

I think this is the only time I was so indulgent as to put my own song on a mix. This is one of two songs that Jeff and I recorded in my neighbor's recording studio. He has moved on to bigger and better recording studios; I have not. But I'm taking steps to rectify that.

Esta Cobardia (Julio Iglesias)

Julio Iglesias rocks. This entire album makes me reminisce about my childhood. In this song, I know "cobardia" means cowardice and that's about it. But that doesn't stop me from singing along.

fuck was i (Jenny Owen Youngs)

This song was on a mix that my old friend JRu gave me for Christmas when I was at aforementioned television-job-from-which-I-was-fired. Sadly he and I are no longer friends (on facebook or otherwise). This is a great song and the whole mix was awesome, so thanks JRu in absentia. Some of my favorite lyrics of all time are in this song. And apparently it was also in the tv show "Weeds," which Shelley and I haven't watched since it started kinda sucking.

Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel)

I know Michael Shutt and I share this as one of our favorite songs. This song reminds me of so many things, but the dominant memory is driving over a bridge in the Bay Area with my sister's friends (I think Lils and Kelly and Mere? And maybe Miranda?) going to outlets or something. I was so happy to be in that car with them. I think I'll always have that "little sister" feeling when I'm with my sister's friends. Especially Debbie Lippert, who ate my puzzle pieces when I was going through a jigsaw puzzle stage.

Ping One Down (Gomez)

Because there is a Gomez song on every mix I have made since 1999.

Mirror In the Bathroom (The Beat, aka The English Beat)

I saw The English Beat play at a benefit concert somewhere in a canyon in 2006. They were fantastic live and I'd love to see them again. My mom and I got matching English Beat hats (I have since lost mine) and I bought this album immediately. Another great song on this one is "Save it for Later."

Winter Birds (Ray LaMontagne)

This song was blowing up KCRW in the winter of 2008 and I was loving it.

What I Cannot Change (LeAnn Rimes)

If you read the lyrics to one song, pick this one. I have loved LeAnn Rimes since Tamara played me a recording of her singing "Blue" when she was, like, thirteen. This song makes me cry and makes me want to be a better person. In fact - screw it, it's the end, I'm pasting in the lyrics.

"What I Cannot Change" by LeAnn Rimes

I know what makes me comfortable
I know what makes me tick
And when I need to get my way I know how to pour it on thick
Cream and sugar in my coffee
Right away when I awake
I face the day and pray to God I won't make the same mistakes
Oh the rest is out of my hands

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

I don't know my Father
Or my Mother well enough
Seems like every time we talk we can't get past the little stuff
The pain is self inflicted
I know it's not good for my health
But it's easier to please the world than it is to please myself
Oh the rest is out of my hands

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

Right now I can't care about how everyone else will feel
I have enough hurt of my own to heal

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

So there you have it - a peek into the selection of 18 songs for one of my holiday mixes. I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. And I really hope I get my iTunes situation sorted out before the Holiday 2010 mix is due.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Universal Truths

got this in a forward - thought it was good enough to share.

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

22. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish my makeup.

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent an ass from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

we are not our parents.

From the title, you night think this is going to be some emotional post about not turning into my mother. But no - actually I'd love to be like her when I'm her age. Her house looks fantastic and she has great arms.

What this post is about is what she was like when she was my age. Or where most of our parents were at my current age. When my mom turned 29, she had a 6-year-old (my sister) and a 6-month-old (me). I have two cats and a dog and even that is a bit too much responsibility.

What happened? When did this generation decide not to get married young, have 2.5 kids and a set career path and a house and a station wagon? I'm certainly not complaining, I just find it interesting. Most of my friends are not married. A couple have kids, but they're the exception to the rule. As a homeowner, I'm also an exception to the rule. We all seem to switch jobs every couple of years - those of us who aren't freelance, anyway.

I honestly don't know if I'll ever have kids - and I'm totally okay with that. Luckily, so is my mom. She tells me often that my sister and I shouldn't ever feel like we need to give her grandchildren.

I don't think my dad feels the same way (he loves babies), so I just don't bring it up. And besides, he has Bear - isn't that enough of a grandchild? For now and for the foreseeable future, it is definitely enough for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bad Dog!

I was hiking with Donna, her dog Deor and my dog Bear in Wilacre Park recently. On our way back down the hill, we saw a cluster of women and a couple of dogs on the side of the trail. The women were covering something with leaves, and one of the women apologized to the other two for "ruining the rest of their hike." Being the nosy human that I am, I asked the woman with the dog what had happened. She told me that her dog had killed a mouse, then looked down at the dog and said "BAD DOG! BAD GIRL! YOU'RE A KILLER!"

I feel bad for that dog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I totaled my car yesterday. At least, I'm pretty sure it's totaled. The insurance company is going to let me know for sure in a week or so. The accident was my fault, and frankly I'm lucky to be alive, and lucky that I didn't hurt or kill anyone. It's getting easier and easier to find the silver lining when shit like this happens. Do I wish I could go back and change events? Of course. But as I said to my sister this morning - I'm only an idiot if I fail to learn from this experience.

So I'm going to be carless in LA for the foreseeable future. And what that means for you, dear reader, is that I'm going to have a lot more fodder for future posts - the LA public transit system is a feast for the eyes. And I'll be a part of it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

Hiya! Here's some links.

Crab Revenge - This is just insane. If it's a joke, it's a good one, but if it's not, it's pretty damn sad.

A Peek inside the Libby Mind - Some gorgeous honest words from my friend and fellow blogger.

Lee Wochner's blog - My playwriting instructor and one of my favorite people.

20x200 - A great site for those on a budget who have an appreciation for art (so, for everyone I know, basically). They sell limited edition runs on archival parchment for amazing prices - I've bought 3 or 4 of their 8 1/2 x 11. Join their newsletter to get the first look - Wednesdays are photography, my favorite.

What the Fuck Should I Make for Dinner? - Simple and hilarious.

Super cool. Happy Hump Day!

Monday, May 10, 2010


And I'm getting overwhelmed again. There is such a fine line for me between pleasantly occupied and so busy I don't have time to do things like put away laundry or eat food. I just keep scheduling myself tighter and tighter...does this happen to "normal" people out there? I think maybe I just go from 0-60 faster than most, and then don't have the tools to slow myself down fast enough. Ha. A contradiction in terms.

Ah well, time to go to bed. Another full day tomorrow. G'night, blogosphere.


I was downtown helping my friend get her new dining table into her new loft yesterday, and I saw something disturbing. I've thought about it, I've talked about it, and it's still in the back of my head. I'm hoping that writing about it will give me a bit more closure.

I was crossing Main just south of 6th, and as I approached the crosswalk I noticed a man standing in the middle of the road with his pants down around his ankles. There were a couple of bike security people standing around him, stopping traffic in the right lane so he wouldn't get hit. As I got closer I noticed he was naked from the waist down. Then he took off his shirt, then started to take off his shoes so he could get completely undressed.

A cop car approached, and two officers came out and grabbed him. By this time he was stark naked and his clothes were in a pile on the street. When they grabbed him, he tried to get away from him, and wound up bare-assed on the dirty concrete scuttling like a crab to get away. People were laughing. I was horrified. Someone kept saying "hospital, hospital." It sounded like it was the man talking, but I couldn't tell for sure.

Backstory - when I had my psychotic break in Italy nine years ago, I was wandering around the streets barefoot and wearing a pair of purple aviator shades with one lens missing. People were probably laughing. My sister was horrified. Luckily, she was there. Unfortunately for this man, no one was there.

They got him into the cop car, and his clothes were still sitting in a small pile in the street. I was looking at the clothes, hoping that they would put them in the car with him. In fact, if they didn't, I was going to go say something. They did, and the car drove away. Two minutes later, it was as if nothing had happened.

Last night I started wondering where he was at that moment. Was it drugs? Maybe. Was there mental illness involved? Probably. Was he in a mental hospital? Was he scared? Was he alone? More than likely.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm on medication, I have fantastic doctors, and I have the rare ability to be able to write about how it all feels. And hopefully to shed some light on the truth of mental illness (it could happen to anyone, it's not our fault, it's not something to be ashamed of) in my lifetime. So hopefully, next time something like this happens in broad daylight in downtown LA, the instinctive reaction is not to laugh, or to pity, but to care.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Play's the Thing

Goodness, it's been over a week and I haven't posted. Lots has happened - life seems to be on an uphill swing. I actually had to consult my iphone calendar to see what-all I've been up to.

The biggest event of the week for me was yesterday's play reading at [Inside] the Ford - some fantastic actors read the first act of the play I am writing, DSM-V, about my experience with bipolar disorder. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was way nervous about my parents seeing what was an exaggerated but still slightly accurate portrayal of actual events.

It was definitely uncomfortable, sitting in the (back of the) theater surrounded by people, some of whom I knew well and some I did not know at all, listening to my words. It was uncomfortable sitting a few rows behind my parents as some lines that actually came out of my dad's mouth verbatim were read by the most unsympathetic character. It was uncomfortable...but in a good way.

And it made my mom cry. There was actually one really cool moment where she and I were hugging each other and she said "it was just so real," and I said, "yes, but the difference is that I can write about it now." One of my best friends who was with me in Europe when I was in the midst of my psychotic break was also in the audience, and he sent me a note yesterday telling me he's glad I wrote it. And so am I.