Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell, 2010.

2010 was a year filled with awesome and awful - some of the best times of my life and some of the worst. I know I say this a lot, but I am so blessed to have the friends and family I do and I am so thankful for all of the wonderful I have been given. So, without further ado, I give to you… my loyal readers (Hi Mom and Dad!) my favorite moments from two-thousand-and-ten.

I spent the day V.I.P. with my best friends. We walked, we rapped, we got buck wild. Best part of the day? After a rainy and gloomy day, as Slug starts ‘Sunshine’, the sun comes up… so rad. Also? M-e-t-h-o-d MAN and Redman. My life changed that day, for sure.

Walk for a cure.
One day while walking out of my gym, I saw a flyer for a Diabetes walk. One of my best friends in the whole world had just been diagnosed months earlier and I decided it was fate. The walk was filled with laughs and good conversation; it was a beautiful, perfect morning. We raised $500 for Diabetes, and just as important, I was able support a cause that affects my friend daily. In a situation where I can’t do much to help – I got to show my support.

Vikings vs Packers.
My first Vikings game ever – against Green Bay. Chilly’s last game with the team, I got to see my boyfriend Jared sack Aaron Rodgers and best of all, I went with my family. Even though we lost (to put it mildly) it was still an incredibly memorable day.

Nugget Number Five.
Anyone who knows me knows I am borderline obsessed with my nieces and nephews. They are my life. I was so thrilled to be blessed with a new baby nugget, Aubrey, in August. Now I have five – Kylie Anne, Noah, Brooklyn, Jackson, and baby Aubrey. I am so lucky to get to hang out with these kids. And my big brother is the best Dad in the entire world (Ok, ok… a tie with my own Dad) and I am so proud of him and my sister-in-law Angie – they give everything they have to their kids and it shines through in each of the nuggies personalities.

This weekend was both equal parts awesome and awful. However, I will probably never experience a snowstorm like that again - in the heart of Minneapolis, walking through the streets of Uptown, seeing giant snow piles and helping people get un-stuck. I did not just survive the Snowpocalypse, I kicked its ass.

What's the big Eyedea?
Losing my friend Micheal was so devastating. The tributes/memorials/benefits in his memory were all very special and unique. Honey was particularly memorable because it was just a few days after his death and everyone was still so raw to it. You could very literally feel Mike in the room – the emotion was so incredible - it was written on every single persons face. I will never forget the way I felt that night, standing in the middle of huddles of people, screaming Eyedea and Abilities lyrics with tears streaming down my face. It gives me chills just thinking about it. Rest in peace, Mikey, I miss you every day.

Working 9-5.
As much as I hate sitting in an office all day, I must say – I love my job. I have never been someone who loved their job, but this job is different. I started at the bottom (the very bottom) and worked my ass off to get to where I am today. I am good at what I do. People count on me. My ideas and opinions are important. Plus, my job provides the means for me to pursue other loves in my life… win.

Missi Monday.
One of my best friends and I use Mondays as our day to reconnect, have fun, and appreciate one another. He and I have had some struggles finding the balance of our friendship – but this year has provided many opportunities to get it right. He is a constant in my life - a source of comfort, wisdom, strength, and laughter. In May, he dealt me one of the scariest situations I have ever had to face. I will never forget the details of those few days; the way he looked, the way the hospital smelled, that feeling of guilt and terror. Now he is doing tremendously well at kicking ass/taking names and I am so, so proud of him. Here is to many, many more ‘Missi Mondays’. (First Date. ITunes. Cop it)

Whats a hookah?
If you have never had the pleasure of meeting Sir Ali ‘Egypto Knuckles’ – I urge you to run, not walk, to Yafa on Central. He will be the dude off to the side surrounded by people, iPhone on the table in front of him, laughing and fist bumping like its going out of style. The most genuine, heartfelt man I have ever had the pleasure of calling my friend. It is a privilege to know him. Hookah provides the unwind to a tough workweek, a brainstorm session when you are stuck in a rut, and a cheer up if things are not going right. But, sisha is just sisha. It is Ali’s company that makes Hookah Friday one of the best things in my life.

Weckerfest 2010.
I sit on the deck, with the sun in my eyes, a large jug of iced tea resting firmly in my lap and although the noise is evidence my extended family has very much arrived, I find peace and comfort in the week that is Weckerfest…easily my favorite time of year. This year was particularly awesome as my mother reignited my passion for White Zinfandel. It is family fun - which with your family could be lame, but with mine? Incredible.

This year was a tough one in the relationship department. Without getting into any sort of detail (this is, after all, the internet) I can just say that while some of these breakup/makeup moments are not necessarily “my favorites” I definitely learned a lot. A lot, a lot. And I am so glad (and surprised) I made it through the storm. I showed myself that I am a tough chick. Tougher than I ever imagined I would have to be. And without my amazing, awesome friends and family I just don’t know if I would have made ‘er to the other side. So – I guess... awful relationship troubles – 0 / Team Wick Whack -1.

One Night Stand in ya face.
Five years ago, I gave myself a rap name. This could be because I am a very intuitive person (really, I have great intuition and can read people like a book) or it could be an attempt to “fit in” better with my friends (who, I’d say, about 90% of which are either musicians or in the industry). In early November, one of my best friends and I decided to start a rap group and perform for our first time on New Years Eve. After calling in some favors, assuring people we are indeed serious, and auditioning (thanks, B) our wildest dreams came true… with a lot of hard work and tomfoolery – here we are. We are better than you would expect, sillier than you could ever imagine, and just as awesome as we normally are. I am so glad I’ve gotten to live out a dream with one of my best friends. She is one of the most ridiculous people I have ever met (in a good way) and has stuck by me through the thickest of the thick. Without her around, I would be less funny, well rested, and sober (maybe).

J. Cousineaus.
Who knew a small, local restaurant/bar could prove to be such a comfort? For a while, it was my home away from home. Three or four nights out of the week, you could find me sitting on the patio – cigarette in hand, friends in the chairs next to me, just trying to figure out my life – or at least make it to tomorrow. That tiny bar is filled with great memories, life long friendships, good wine, and a pretty spectacular jukebox selection. Plus – they have great tots.

I've been diagnosed. I've got that Bieber Fever.

I have a confession. My name is Missi, I am (just about) 25 years old, and I like Justin Bieber. And not in a creepy wait-till-he-is-legal kind of way, but in a hes-got-good-jamz kind of way. I took my 9-year-old niece to see him in concert in June and she had the time of her life. I am so thankful I was able to give her that experience. My sister did that for me when I was a pre-teen and they are some of the best memories I have. My niece is growing up so fast and I cherish every minute I get to spend with her – and to see her geek out the way I used to made it just as memorable for me as it was for her.

Girls Night Out!
Who knew a chilly Thursday evening could turn out to be so much fun? My mother, best friend Dee and I went to a breast cancer benefit and then had dinner. It may sound simple and insignificant but we had the best time! We laughed, talked, and just... hung out. I am very blessed to have a mother like mine. She is everything I ever hope to be and without her in my life I would not be as kind, generous, or as thoughtful as I try to be. Plus, my best friend Dee fits into my family so well…she is my sister and without her, my life would be a hell of a lot harder. Her love and support make it easier to be me.

Billy’s on Grand.
For those of you outside the know – St. Paul is my second favorite city (Minneapolis is my true love) and particularly Grand Avenue makes everything right in my world. There is nothing better than a summer afternoon spent on Billy’s patio drinking iced tea and watching the passersby as they shop or just bask in the sunshine. If you’d ever like to stalk me (which I definitely don’t condone) all you need to do is go to Billy’s on Grand, 9 times out of 10 you will probably see me sitting in the corner booth.

Honorable Mentions.
A boy named Justin comes to visit from Iowa. The Great MN Get Together x2. Detron. FroYo. Family Dinners in the Retro Apartments with the Mighty Ducks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. KIM! Happy Hour at Green Mill – Uptown. Becks Birthday Weekend. Glee Tuesdays. Twins Game. Valentines Surprise.

Oh, hey 2011… bring it on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Twenty-Five things I learned before I turned Twenty-Five.

As I rapidly approach the ripe ole’ age of twenty-five, I take a moment to reflect on some of the things I have had to learn and now use as my compass to navigate through life.

Note: These are my lessons; check your judgment at the door - I never claimed to be a professional.

1. Use the Internet wisely.
It turns out there is such a thing as ‘over-sharing.’ Especially in this day and age because the Internet provides us instant gratification. While an incredible source of information and entertainment, it is also the devil. And it will ruin your life, if you let it.

A. Leave your Facebook status updates for quirky, fun things. The second you put your love life and/or family issues on blast it is all over with. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and it usually stinks.
B. Protect yourself. If there are drunken pictures of you wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, your employer can see that. Your mother can see that. A picture is worth a thousand words and mental pictures will exist much longer than Facebook.
C. Wait 10 minutes before posting anything of ‘importance.’ If you walk away and still think it is a good idea, go for it. If after 10 minutes you feel relieved there is no need to implement serious damage control, congratulations – you’ve made the right decision. Drunk, jealous, dramatic posts morph you from Cute and Cool Colleen into Debbie Desperate in less than 140 characters. You can thank me later.

Note: We all make mistakes – that is why it’s Facebook and not the Holy Grail.

2. Not everyone needs to (or should) know everything about you.
When times get tough, it is natural to turn to your allies and want them to see the situation as you do, judge those involved as you do, and – well – be on ‘your side.’ Resist temptation and instead utilize your inner circle – they want what is best for you, will tell you the truth, and will ultimately support whatever makes you happy (if your friends are as awesome as mine are, anyway). Trashing people that mean enough to you to be so upset is definitely not hip-hop.

3. If a boy likes you, there will be no guessing.
If a boy likes you – YOU WILL KNOW IT! Forget what he slurs to you half way through a vodka-red bull. If a boy likes a girl, nothing (and I mean NOTHING) will stand in the way of that. He wants you. Boys like to get what they want. Period. If you have to guess - move on, sister. Go find a boy who thinks your cute enough, smart enough, and doggonit actually likes you.

4. Drink at least eighty ounces of water and take vitamins daily.
I did not realize how big of a difference these things make until after a long stretch of loyalty, I started to slack on my regimen. Obviously tons of water intake aids in weight loss, but it facilitates clear skin and keeps me witty. Vitamins keep me energized and I just feel better.

5. Wash off your makeup before going to bed.
I have one or two girlfriends who are able to sleep without washing their face and not have it wreak havoc on their cover-up supply. I am not one of the lucky ones. Plus, you get to wash off the day and give tomorrow a brand new, fresh faced start.

6. If it scares you – do it.
It is easy to nap in your comfort zone and stay in situations that allow you to feel safe but aren’t emotionally fulfilling. Taking a risk is a scary notion. It does not always work out the way you want it to, but it always works out for the best. And life is not designed to be mediocre; it’s supposed to be everything you ever dreamed of.

7. Love yourself first.
I do not know how many times I have heard this, but it’s true. You cannot love anyone else until you love yourself. I know, because I have not always loved myself and as a result of that, relationships in my life suffered in a big way and I pulled my loved ones through the mud right behind me.

8. The gym IS your friend, if you let it be.
I will go ahead and acknowledge the sedentary ways I embraced for most of my life, but I have since altered that and can say with complete faith (for my life, anyway) that being an active person makes such a difference. I am happier. And healthier. And better able to do things that make me both happier and healthier. Which makes me happier. Get it? The gym is the one place I can go that is just for me. My music, my aggression, my issues, my thoughts, my time to just do me and leave everyone else to fend for themselves.

9. Be positive.
Life is a magnet – you attract what you put out. Being positive is a behavior I have had to learn to practice, and it is a constant thought process but it really makes a difference as far as quality of life goes. I am not sure if being positive really attracts positivity or if it just makes the negative things seem less heavy, but either way smiley beats frownie every single day.

10. Learn everything you can.
Whether it is educational, vocational, or interpersonal - I have learned it’s necessary to take in every opportunity to learn something new about the world, yourself, or your friends and family. You can never know too much. Like the posters in my high school told me, knowledge is power.

11. Find a job you love and be relentless.
I have had a job pretty regularly since I was thirteen, and have hated every minute of it. I loathe being told what to do and it almost always makes me want to do the exact opposite. Two years ago, I took a job at a call center for U.S. Bank for no other reason than because I desperately needed the money. I took interest in communications, sought out more responsibility outside of my position, and fought every single day to make them see me as an asset. Six months ago, they created a position for me as a communications analyst. Now I love coming to work every day, and am genuinely excited and invested in what I do. When you believe in yourself enough to be relentless, people take notice and your fate finds you.

12. Everything happens for a reason.
If I did not trust this notion, there are days I would not be able to get out of bed. Sometimes life is unfair and sad and I do not understand it. Without roping in God and religion, I believe there is something bigger than all of us steering this journey and although you may not always like it – something happens so something else can follow.

13. Go after what you want.
Nothing worth having is just handed to you. You can do anything, and I mean anything, as long as you go after it and give it everything you’ve got. Step out on that limb, my friend. Fight for the right to party. The possibilities in this lifetime are endless, never be afraid to take what is yours like you mean it.

14. Family, for the win.
You get one family. (Maybe your family is your friends or your dogs.) Love them with everything you have and place them at the forefront of all you do. Without my family, I have no idea where I’d be in life. They are magnificent people given to me as the greatest gift I will ever receive. I love them with every single ounce of my being and strive to be the best person I can be to make them proud. Every success of mine is shared with them because they made it possible for me to be this awesome. I would rather be with my family than anywhere else any day of the week.

15. Have an ‘attitude of gratitude’.
Take time every day to appreciate the good things in your life. Some days, its tough and all I can muster is a ‘thank you for letting me be vertical’. But as you start to acknowledge some of the good things in life, and there are always some good floating around, you will start to recognize other good things. Life is what you make it, and if you walk around every day thinking ‘life sucks’ that’s exactly what you’ll get in return. Think of negativity as herpes, shit spreads and there is no cream to get rid of it.

16. Play nice with other kids.
It took me many years to perfect this lesson because by nature, I am a very honest person. It is hard for me to be fake-nice. (Scenario: You see girl in bar. Girl sees you. Shit. Girl shows excessive enthusiasm in your what-have-you. Oh, thank you, I just love your so-and-so. Let’s do coffee. Call me.) However, I have learned whether you are someone’s biggest fan or not, being civil brings you from a zero to a hero. A cordial “Hello” or “Hey, how ya doin?” or “I’m sorry your dog died” are all acceptable ways to demonstrate civility without being a jerk or a fakey-fake.

17. Music is everything.
At least in my life it is. Without sounding like a broken record (pun intended), music can capture memories and thoughts and feelings and become a suitcase of nostalgia. Let it change you. Let it influence you. Let it take you to party town.

18. Support your loved ones.
I have a lot of talented friends and family. Every person in my life is amazing at something. Therefore, it is my job to support them as if it is my own something amazing I am fighting for. There is no better way to show someone you truly care than to support him or her one hundred percent, whether you agree or not. Buy the albums. Pay the five dollars to get into the shows. Rock the knitted sweater. Hold Kleenex at the funeral. Rub the back when Grain Belt got the best of ‘em. Grab the hand when the bad news comes out.

19. Loyalty saves the day.
I surround myself with amazing, talented, awesome, hysterical, intelligent people. On purpose. Because they enrich my life and make me want to be better. I know many people, a side effect of being what my mom calls “a social butterfly”, but I do not bring people into my life unless they ‘earn’ it. And being loyal to them means everything to me. Regardless of the situation or circumstance, my friends know I will be there with one first in the air until the fight is over. Try it. It feels good, doesn’t it?

20. Save the drama fo’ yo’ mama.
Have you ever noticed those people who claim “they HATE drama!” yet they are constantly consumed with what so-and-so said? Forget what other people say. Forget what other people do. It does not concern you. And I promise you have no business talking about it. Life is a lot easier to enjoy when the beauty is not clouded by soap opera story lines.

21. Get out of your own sunshine.
Believe in yourself. Believe you are worthy. Because you are. My whole life I worked towards a different life I never thought I deserved until one day I woke up and said “Why the hell not?” The second I stopped doubting my capabilities, I got everything I wanted. I had to work for it, but it’s all mine – and while I am not perfect, I worked for every single win. I just had to get out of my own way. “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

22. No one can fix your situation except yourself.
It is easy to complain about what does or does not happen to/for you. However, I cannot help you unless you are willing to first help yourself. Until you decide you want things to be different, they will continue to be the exact same.

23. Laugh until it hurts.
Shit is funny. I can find humor in just about anything. If someone trips over a rug in the entryway and falls down the steps, I am sorry but it is funny. (After the obligatory 10 second delay to make sure they are OK, obviously.) Embrace the funny. It is a lot easier to get through if you can laugh about it.

24. It does not matter what ‘they’ say, it only matters what you think.
Most of the time, when people talk trash – it is because they have a problem with themselves. When you put down someone else, you are only projecting your ugly all over the place. No one else defines who you are, only you have that power.

25. Do not take life for granted.
Life is too short. Do things you have never done before. If you love someone, tell them often. Stay out late on weeknights. Show up every day with your game face on. Don’t wait around for people to decide you’re worth a shot. Call your Grandmother, she misses you. Take the day off to run around the city with someone who makes you smile. Spend too much money. Turn your music up. Louder. Live it or lose it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rest in Paradise - Micheal 'Eyedea' Larsen

The music was the kind of loud that makes your eyes hurt. Despite the 20-degree freeze outside, my skin sweltered beneath the brim of my black knit hat and the notorious basement venue buzzed with the sweet smell of cheap beer and feisty college kids. After making the rounds, I stopped to post up at my usual table, sip my Jack and Coke, and take in the musical happiness happening around me. My glance was mindlessly roaming the room when I recognized greasy black hair and dirty tennis shoes standing amidst a huddle of twenty-somethings. I stood for a moment to contemplate my next move. Thanks to my third drink, I was feeling unusually brave and so with a tilt of my head, I threw back what was left in my glass and sauntered across the room. As if fate was in on my plan, the crowd suddenly dissipated and I had a clear shot.

“Hey – my name is Missi. It’s really nice to meet you.”
“Missi? Nice to meet you, I’m Micheal.”

There are moments in life where everything changes – in an instant, suddenly nothing is the same as it was only a moment before. Sunday afternoon, three quarters of the way down the dairy isle, I had a moment. My knees buckled, my heart raced, I was sick to my stomach. Micheal ‘Eyedea’ Larsen, one of the most illustrious people to emerge from the Twin Cities, is gone. He has left us forever with only his music and our memories to guide us through our grief.

The morning after I first met Micheal, he invited me for coffee downtown. To my surprise, he was easy to talk with, easy to relate to, and relaxed. Our friendship came to fruition and I quickly understood he was not your ordinary, well, anything. As he spoke he pulled you into his world – never was there judgment, egotism, or the sense that he deemed himself better than anyone else. Kids would literally stop and stare as he walked down the street and it was like he never noticed – and if he did, it was the same “Hey man, what’s up?”

I find myself mourning Mike on two levels. Musically he was a genius who did things with words I did not even know were possible. His voice reaches out to the masses and lets us know it is good to be different, to be yourself. His heart is at the forefront of every line – every painful shriek tells a tale of his sorrow, his joy, his angst. His face is plastered all over the internet, his name scribbled in chalk on the streets of Uptown. It is simply inescapable. The world is in mourning.

Personally, he was truly one of a kind. We would go to one of his local St. Paul haunts and as we drank our beers, he would engage me with story after story – life on the road, different experiences he’s had, his thoughts on the world. Our conversation would often be interrupted because everyone in the place knew him. Men in their sixties, women in their thirties, bartenders, servers, the maintenance man – and he greeted everyone with the same genuine enthusiasm and kindness.

Things I will miss about Micheal? The familiar sharp inhale through his crooked front teeth. The way he shook his head to the side to toss his hair out of his face. The way he added “town” to the end of any word to make it a destination that did not exist, but you wanted to visit. His sporadic free styling. His homemade t-shirts. That hat – you know the one. He was hilarious. He was intelligent. He just was who he was.

In a sense, I feel lucky. I get to be with Micheal when I turn on his music. I get to hear his voice whenever I feel like it. I get to see his mannerisms in as many YouTube videos as I want. Usually when people die, those things eventually fade from your memory. Micheal is celebrated everywhere. He has very literally left a mark on the world that can never be forgotten.

Thank you, Micheal. For all that you have given me – all that you’ve shown me. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your music. Thank you for always being exactly who you were. Your spirit will never fade – it lives on through all of us left here in your wake. I love you. I’ll see you when I get to Clown Town.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Who makes the music?

Anyone who knows me knows that music is a giant part of who I am – it is imminent in every part of me. Some days, I have solely Lady Gaga to thank for my treadmill gusto and Gwen Stefani for the grit to push through those final reps. I have a wonderful (and incredibly stressful) job that I enjoy very much but still depend on Bobby Brown, Britney, and John Legend to facilitate both the ability to meet deadlines and pass the time, depending on the day’s procrastination level.

The most rewarding part of every day is my trek to the office. The sun is struggling to rise in the distance; others making the same jaunt zoom past me as I get lost in the hazy glow of their taillights, and my mood is heightened by whatever pours from the speakers. Reflective? John Mayer. Sad? Tim McGraw. Confident? Aretha Franklin. Happy? *NSync. Excited? Gnarls Barkley. Love sick? Al Green. Hardcore? Nas. Hating all men? Miranda Lambert… you catch my drift. It is my 30 minutes to sit silently, Tommy Lee my dashboard, make believe I am Fiona Apple – whatever. No one gets a say but me. It is where I decide my approach to the day and find the inspiration to make it count.

There are days my brain refuses ignition and so I sit cross-legged at my desk with my ear buds in and the volume on high, select the most appropriate Pandora station and wait for the motivation to creep up. (Usually I fill a few pages of scratch paper with doodles in the meantime – song lyrics, triangles, ducks. Just go with it.) The number one motivator in my life is music. It allows me to express myself when I cannot reach the words otherwise. It makes me feel like everything will be ok when I am utterly hopeless. It breaks me free after the jeans I pulled out of the laundry basket unexpectedly morph into crabby pants. It stabs me when a memory I am desperately trying to forget rings out from the radio before I can reach the scan button. It keeps me awake when I’ve gone too long without 8 hours and the ride home seems endless. It helps me relax when the world around me spins too quickly to keep up.

Musical preferences stem from your life experiences and those closest to you. My big brother’s collection would fill the house on hot summer days when Mom and Dad were off at work. My sister showed me the 80’s en route from one mall to the next. My parents listened to country music, so naturally it sunk in. My grandmother loves Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, she and I used to croon together while I helped fold laundry. My grandfather and I used to sing Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ every summer in his rusty, old pickup truck. Then, there is the musical expedition you embrace all on your own – where you take snippets from here and there to build your own, personal musical kingdom – a world that only you know. Music is a souvenir that can be pulled out whenever and where ever you see fit. It is very seriously a time machine that brings you back to the exact minute in time as it exists in your memory; your own personal happy.

Ten songs that changed my life, in no particular order:

Incubus - Wish You Were Here
“And in this moment, I am happy. I wish you were here.”
Every time I hear this song, I get chills. I very much relate to feeling so blissful and free and the only thing that could make it better was if that someone was beside you. When I hear the first chords, my eyes close, and my mind wanders to a place that is bigger than everything else.

Michael Jackson – Rock With You.
“Just take it slow, we’ve got so far to go.”
Think sparkly jacket and glove. Think creepy pseudo-mustache. This is one of the first Michael Jackson songs I ever heard and unquestionably one of my favorites. It makes me want to dance in my living room ala Tom Cruise - Shamon.

Forever – Ben Harper
“So give me your forever, please your forever. Not a day less will do from you.”
This song makes me believe in love when it seems impossible to have faith and gives me the courage to find someone who will write a song like this for me.

F*@K You Lucy – Atmosphere
“No, I’m not OK and I don’t know what to do.”
Screamed at many a men (who never knew it) whilst all alone in my car, this song allows me to be livid, jaded, and hate all men in one fell swoop. Then, once it is over, I can wipe the sweat and prepare to fall again knowing this song will be there to catch me.

India.Arie – Video
“But, I learned to love myself unconditionally because I am a Queen.”
In a world where it is easy to lose yourself in other people’s opinions, some times you need to be able to say, “I am me, and that is more than enough.” Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter won’t mind.

De La Souls – P.O.S.
“Listen to records in my room to escape, found some things I could relate with. I wore out the tape.”
One of the first local songs to hit me dead between the eyes – the first time I heard him do this live my life changed forever. Such power and honesty. One night, I played it on repeat and wrote down every word until I had it memorized.

Brother Ali – Forest Whitaker
“Whatever comes up comes out. We don’t put our hands over our mouth.”
There is only one way to listen to this: with a mean mug and exactly one fist in the air.

Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)
“Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem.”
The definitive badass, don’t-take-crap-from-any-man song. It is powerful, it is honest, and it is inspiring. This song came into my life when I was insecure and defenseless. Whenever I feel ‘caught up’ in a situation I press play and truly believe I am Lauryn Hill ...and you had better not cross me.

Dr Dre – Keep Their Heads Ringin’
“Step on stage and get faded just like a flat top.”
One of the first Hip Hop songs I remember hearing - in the back of my brothers Blazer on the way to school. Some people grew up with Public Enemy or Wu Tang Clan – I grew up thinking Snoop, Dre, and Twista were the only MC’s who mattered.

J. Gatz – We Are America
“You tell us what we wanna here, we let freedom ring”
The first time I witnessed the construction of a song. I watched the lyrics float into the microphone, I heard the guitar riff morph from non-existence to the backbone of the song, and I felt the bass as it pounded through the studio’s speakers. One of the most implausible experiences in my life thus far.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I was looking through another blog and found this article. A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4-8 year olds:

“What does Love mean?”

Here are some of their answers…

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s Love.”
Rebecca - age 8
“When someone Loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Billy - age 4
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
Terri - age 4
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”
Danny - age 7
“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.”
Emily - age 8
“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
Bobby - age 7
“If you want to learn to Love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”
Nikka - age 6
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.”
Noelle - age 7
“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
Tommy - age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.”
Cindy - age 8
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Elaine - age 5
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
Chris - age 7
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
Mary Ann - age 4
“I know my older sister Loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.”
Lauren - age 4

“When you Love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.”
Karen - age 7
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.”
Mark - age 6
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I Love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”
Jessica - age 8

Is it just me, or are these the most incredible responses ever? One of my favorite people in this entire world, my 9-year-old niece, says and does the most incredible things. I wish children did not grow up, get their heart broken, and become jaded fools like the rest of us.

Love [luhv]
1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for parent, child, or friend.
3. Sexual passion or desire

Obviously, Love comes in all shapes and sizes. I definitely Love coffee in the morning, I definately love my job and I definitely Love my best friend – but definitely not in the same way. Jim and Bob both Love Karen – but Jim Loves the hue of her eyes and the way she pushes her hair out of her face when she laughs. Bob? Bob Loves the way she swings her arms when she walks and how she addresses the checkout woman at the gas station by her first name. Love is relative. Love is whatever you want it to be, whatever you make it, and sometimes, it just is what it is. Love is uncontrollable. Then, there are times; Love is not Love at all. And that is when Love gets you into trouble.

In my life, I overuse the phrase “I Love you...” just so long as I mean it. I say it to my friends, I say it to my family, and I say it to my TiVo after a long day of work. Perhaps it’s a side effect from losing so many Loved ones – most all at a young age and tragically. I guess I would rather have there be no doubt than an “if only” lurking even at the expense of some not taking it seriously. (And I do mean it. Every time I say it. Or I wouldnt say it. It's as simple as that. Really.)

Growing up my family was never particularly emotional or touchy-feely. I am by far the most expressive person in my family and as a kid; I had intense anxiety about death. At age 15 or 16 I remember starting to have the most overwhelming urge to shout, “Love ya!” to my parents whenever I left the house. Looking back, I am positive my parents thought it was strange behavior as that was not a common practice in our household. Now, almost 10 years later I still say those words as I leave the house and if I forget as I rush out the door with one heel on, the other in my left hand and a piece of string cheese hanging out of my mouth – I feel uneasy as I pull out of my driveway.

I may be a sap – scratch that, I am most definitely a sap – but I Love Love. I Love the smell of Love, the touch of Love, and the relief things I Love bring me.

Do we ever really lose a Love? Or is that Love just transferred from one thing to another? I think Love lasts forever but maybe the type of Love changes. Karen and Jim have been together for years, but Karen is not in Love with Jim anymore – she is in Love with Bob. Does Karen have Love for Jim? Absolutely – Love lasts forever. But Karen wakes up thinking about Bob. Perhaps Bob doesn’t feel the same way, but Karen will carry that Love around until her heart grows tired and that Love transfers to Peter. I think I have taken this too far…

I don’t know much. But I do know that Love is tricky. And messy. And heartbreaking. And all consuming. And worth it.