Archive | Music

Music Mapping

Ya’ll- it has been more than a month since I last posted. Wow.

Actually not so much wow. Life has been a roller coaster lately, but in the best way. I haven’t had time to post. I haven’t had thoughts useful enough to post. And, in all honesty, what this space means to me, and does for me, is changing. I’m not sure where we’re heading yet.

But tonight I feel so grand.

Two days ago, I realized I hadn’t made myself a playlist in a year. Not that I hadn’t picked up some new tunes, but I hadn’t made a playlist of where I was at or what I was feeling in the last year. It kind of makes sense- this last year was rough, and I didn’t want certain people up in my energy (and my energy is my music), so the lack of playlists was a very good reflection of where I was at.

But it’s time to share again.

This post isn’t so much a playlist as it is a map of where I’ve been in the last few months, but via music. The little clusters of songs are like dots on the map of my life- places I’ve stopped as I’ve grown in the last few months.

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Mother’s Day and Marriage

People, my marriage is awesome. My partner and I are doing fab; just last night he was sweeping the dining room as we were talking and he said, “You are so perfect for me.” I love our love. These songs are what I’ve been humming since Mother’s Day.

Kat Dahlia | I Think I’m in Love
Falling in love with my husband all over again.

Crazy Town | Butterfly
I’m feeling so free and loved lately.

Depeche Mode | Home
A forever fave describing our love.

The White Stripes | Ball and Biscuit
He sent it to me from England. I thanked him when he got home.


New Stuff

New music that’s rockin’ my hips, my mind, my soul.

alt-j | In Cold Blood
Their latest. I love it. Still contemplating seeing them when they hit town.

Bed of Liars | Violence
I just dig this one. Loud. Very loud.

Coldplay | Strawberry Swing
Actually, old music. But it’s going to be the first song in my “New House” ritual.


The Summer of 7th Grade

No clue why, but I have been reminiscing about the music from the summer of 7th grade. 1988. Probably because I’m packing singles tapes (tapes!) that have travelled from the West Coast and another dimension.

Breathe | Hands to Heaven
Oh, god. This song. Full of my favorite emotion, bittersweetness.

Jon Secada | Just Another Day
I bought his CD as one of my BMG “Buy 10 for 1 penny” offer (along with Montell Jordan).

Richard Marx | Don’t Mean Nothing / Hold On to the Nights / Right Here Waiting
Dedicated to the three boys I desperately wanted to date in 7th grade.

Peter Cetera | Next Time I Fall
When Amy Grant went secular it meant we all could. I used that later when I left the church.


I’ll leave you with this. A seasonal favorite.

The Sundays | Summertime
We saw them on their last tour. They named their daughter Billie. I will always love them. And you will always find me inside this song in the summer.




Tequila on Thursday Morning

Last Thursday, May 18th, I sat at my desk at 10 am and took two shots of tequila.*
One for Chris Cornell’s death.
And one for his life.

The life that came through that amazing voice.

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I haven’t said anything yet, because my grief is not over. Barely begun, honestly. The 3-day emotional cycle of social media is not enough for this death, for me.

Chris Cornell was someone I chose to listen to, a few years after the biggest rush of grunge. I bought Temple of the Dog as one of my 10 CD selections with BMG (only a penny, do you remember that?). It wasn’t a case of being caught up in the music of my generation, it felt more intentional than that. It was an adult purchase, inside of my budding adult sense of myself.

He was important because of his talent, because of his emotions and how much he loved Andrew Wood, because of how his beautiful voice conveyed all of it. But also, for me, because his voice and music fed the seeds of my self.

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Because I am from Seattle, I have a lot of friends back there, and with Chris Cornell being a son of that city, there were lots of memories.

A former roommate talked about taking a Chem class with Soundgarden’s bassist, Hiro Yamamoto at Western Washington University (my alma mater. I remember when he came back from class to tell us what had happened, how it had been discovered. Great story, not gonna tell you; it’s his business).

Another friend, who I knew had worked for the King County Coroner’s office (but didn’t put two and two together until she shared), talked about being part of the team that catalogued and packed up Layne Stayley’s remains when he was found in 2002 (15 years ago, my god). Another voice that can never be duplicated, lost to drugs. (“So many sharps,” my friend said, “so many.”)

And people who had served Chris Cornell around town. Or seen him in the early years. There was a comedy show in Seattle in the 1990s called “Almost Live” where Billy Nye got his start. Soundgarden was part of “The Lame List” piece once. (See also: ‘High Five-n’ White Guys’ and ‘Chihuly and Jones’ – INFJ’s have a terrible sense of humor.)

Who had not seen him in concert once or twelve times? When Lollapalooza was still a mud fest in what was the backwater of Enumclaw, WA. (For a joke we call it ‘Enum-scratch.’) I listened to each song as people posted their favorites and felt my own connections. I read some reports and some posts (this one is my favorite) about what his music meant. And I thought about why I had included him as one of the first members of the ‘Shiva’ board on Pinterest (which seems a ridiculous thing to say as a Gen-Xer: Pinterest). He embodied the full sense of masculinity to me. He was not afraid of himself. He had his demons, to be sure. But he explored so much of life, of himself- and made beauty from it. I deeply admire that.

I had last seen him when he came to Providence on his solo tour. He was on stage simply to have a good time with music. The kid who sat next to me was not born before 1996, and I took umbrage with his youth, but not with his taste in music. Chris Cornell as a god of both our youths. And there he was, taking requests, also denying requests, and just messing with music until it sounded good to him. He left the stage as a warped chord echoed so loud it hurt. It made your head buzz in the way you knew you would not be able to speak in a normal tone of voice until the next morning.

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But now, at 42 and with a master’s degree in mental health, one thing in particular stays with me: mid-life masculine depression. Yes, Chris Cornell dealt with depression and anxiety either due to or related to his drug use. But so many men deal with undiagnosed depression at this age. At the very least, it deadens them and kills their relationships, and sometimes their work.

I work with many women whose male partners suffer from depression (which has different symptoms than female depression). Male-specific symptoms of depression include physical ailments, anger, and reckless behavior. Men tend to turn their depression outwards, while women turn it inwards. And, especially for men, treating depression makes them feel inadequate. So they don’t treat it…and their relationships falter or they lose their job…and they feel inadequate so they don’t treat… You see where this goes.

There are a variety of reasons that depression happens in men. We all have inside of us the capacity to have every mental health disorder there is in the book. But the silence of it is what makes it so dangerous for men. As my friend, Jenifer said, “Suicide was stalking him (Chris Cornell) and we couldn’t help. How could we have known suicide was stalking him?” Only if he told us.

And the same is true for those around you. If you suspect you are (or your partner is) depressed, please seek help.There are lots of treatment options, many of which are not pharmaceutical (if that bothers you).

Male mid-life depression is a thing.
Male depression is a thing.
And you can have treatment and support.

The music of your life is deeply valuable to someone. Many more ‘someones’ than you suspect, probably. Your fans want you to live, just as we wish Chris Cornell could have.

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I think there is more to say about Chris Cornell’s death, but it’s not yet formed. I’ll share it when the time is right. And if you’re mourning- maybe it’s finally time for that trip to Seattle. Here’s my map. Visit ‘A Sound Garden,’ will ya?

Blessed be, Chris Cornell. Rest in peace.


*I’m not given to drinking much. I like a little wine sometimes, and some champagne on New Year’s Day. But Thursday morning I needed the burning gold of tequila running down my throat in the same way the hot tears ran down my cheeks.




Full Moon in Virgo + Winning the Lottery

Hello! Oh, I missed the moon again. I gotta get back in that groove. Anyways…here is the quick version of what’s happening with the moon this past Sunday.

If you found some truth during the dark moon of Feb 25-27, that truth should have made itself clear in the past week leading up to Sunday’s full moon. It may have been about love and relationships (Venus is also in retrograde, which means your love/relationship truths and personal BS will also be coming up) or just connecting to others.

The full moon on Sunday, March 12 was about fully recognizing or committing or accepting that same truth from the new (dark) moon in February. Mystic Mamma says this moon is about a woman becoming free (can I get an ‘amen’!?), letting go of what no longer works and becoming more of her true self. I imagine that is the way good relationships really find you- by being unapologetically yourself (and fuck ’em if they don’t like it. someone else will).

In general with this moon we are letting what needs to pass away dissolve itself, and allowing what needs to be created to find seed in our psyche and hearts. Life is a journey, though, so maybe the truth was a bit hard to grasp or seemed to get fixed and then the truth bumped up again. That’s how life goes, what can I say?

In any case, this full moon is also about cleaning that crap up (letting go, telling the truth, starting something new, whatever it may be) and moving on. Be brave- take a step towards what you know is true, even if it sucks, even if it hurts. Because moving towards the pain of ‘right’ is better than being stuck in the ‘meh’ of habitual.

And that’s all I got about that.

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Dudes, I have not picked a song for this year yet. Although I think one might be picking me. We’ll see about that.

In the mean time, some songs are piquing my attention.


| HeavyDirtySoul | by Twenty-one Pilots

I cannot save your soul (unless you ask); you gotta do that yourself.


| Believer | by Imagine Dragons

Pain is a great teacher.


| Human | by Rag’n’Bone Man

You can’t blame one person for every failing. We all hold responsibility.


| Blame | by Bastille

‘This is my body and soul here.’

[There’s a theme with these songs, I know…I know.]

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Lastly, dudes, I won the lottery. I’m a gal whose love languages are time and touch. (And words, because words touch me invisibly and they take time to create.) Last night my beloved and I wrapped ourselves around each other like infinity symbols, sliding along each other, over and over, and fell asleep curled together. Today we woke up to a snow storm, still entangled, and sleeping late (which is a rarity with kids).

This, to me, is winning the lottery. His time and his touch. And so much of it. Money makes life easier in some ways, but experiences are what keep our hearts alive. Give me enough money to have these experiences; I want no more than that. And then give me all of the experiences I can hold, all of them that I can see, smell, touch, taste, hear, and live.

The older I get, the more I know how precious these things are. I want no extra gold. I only want to be held in warm arms and loved.




they know the song :: i will follow them

It is a simplistic metaphor (and therefore will have imperfections), but I sometimes think of the history of the world as a song.

Each continent has its own song, full of the instruments and voices of each country, each state, each culture, and tribe. There are different notes, sounds, layers. The choices that are made, the direction of nations, the daily activities of a city, they are the music.

And the Earth hurtles through space, combining and carrying all these songs, all these notes, and voices, and instruments, and rhythms into its own low hum.

This song of world history has had periods of opening- adding more voices and instruments, and it has had periods of closing down- reducing, silencing, and ignoring certain voices and instruments. This is not the difference between crescendo and decrescendo, it is the place in the music where there is suddenly music and then the tiny, black box stuck to the bottom of G line that means silence.

There have been, of course, cacophonous sounds as well. The horrible, ear-splitting mismatch of sounds that makes you clutch your ears, weep, and scratch at your own skin.

Every war. Every one of them.
The destruction of the Earth itself.

We are taught about Korea, Cambodia, and The Holocaust.
As a Gen-X-er, I watched Somalia and Rwanda and Darfur on TV.
(And so many others I cannot even name because I didn’t have to look or listen.)

We listen to the disgusting song each time. Some of us listen and watch and don’t do a thing. But we listen to it, nonetheless. And we say, “that is horrible.” And we vow that it won’t happen again.

In America, since the beginning of our country, white people have forced People of Color* to be a shield against the cacophony. We have pressed Black and Brown and Yellow bodies up against the horrible notes, like insulation. We have demanded they dance to the music for our pleasure- even if they die in the process (which they most often do). White people have closed their eyes and shoved Black bodies into the abyss to keep the music pleasant for our ears.


a black ballerina in mid-jump wit her arms high in the air


And now, in the midst of upheaval and the first churning sounds of our own cacophony in America, I am listening to People of Color, most especially Women of Color. Because they know this song. They know the first strains of the ‘not-quite-right’ keys being played in the distance. They know it in their bones, their DNA carries the markers that warn them early, warn their bodies, because they have heard this song for hundreds of years. They have been forced to dance, to keep their own children safe in secret ways, to shield white people from the music- they know it intimately.

So I choose to listen to them. When white people say, “Don’t worry, it won’t get that bad,” or “Give it a chance,” I say: I do not believe you. Because, at best (like me, I am guilty of this, too) white people have only heard this song on TV or read about it in a newspaper. We don’t know a goddamn thing about this cacophony. And we shouldn’t pretend that we do.

The People of Color, the Women of Color, the Transgender of Color, the disabled, the poor- they know what is here, what is coming. And they deserve our respect, our ear, our following. They are the only people who know how to get us out of this mess. Why? Because they live with and have lived through this song over and over and over. Each generation of Women of Color danced this song and lived. The women I know, their mothers, their mothers before them, their mothers before them, on and on- they lived through the painful, horrible notes of the dans macabre set to play by racism, sexism, hatred, and fear.

What do I do as a white person? Listen to them. Follow what they say. Use my whiteness to rip the music to shreds. To stick the bow of the violin down the player’s throat. To burn the piano. To crush whatever I can so that the cacophony cannot be played. To crush my own white ego, even. To feel hurt and stupid and learn something new. To listen with my mouth shut. And to protect them with my body.

To protect and support those who know what we are facing and how to make it through. Because that is what Women of Color and People of Color are talking about, ‘making it through.’ They are not talking about building something beautiful or playing a new song of equality, right now they are talking about ‘making it through.’ Do you hear the difference between those two things? Listen to it.

I am listening not only because I want to live, in my selfish white way, but because I want to be a part of the life of this song– the part that destroys the cacophony so that we can open the music again, bring in more beauty, more voices, more rhythms, harmonies and melodies. I will help everyone, everyone I can to ‘make it through’ so that we can all dance again. Dance together, dance in the notes of equality and justice and love.

But first we must make it through. We make it through together. We listen for the notes of hope and we work with whatever gifts and tools we have to make it through together.



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[*In this essay, Jews are counted as ‘People of Color’ because they were treated as ‘black’ during the Holocaust.]

I’m sure I’ve said ridiculous, racist, white things in here. I welcome feedback so I can learn. Because the dismantling of my whiteness and privilege is the building of equality.

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04 Feb 2017

And then, I was politely schooled (whether intended or not, it hit me square in the heart) by someone whose writing and ideas I admire with this tumblr post. Which says: “Your belief that all humans should be treated with equal respect shouldn’t be conditional based on whether or not individual people are nice to you.”

And I felt like an asshole, because, of course, that is how this post could be seen. That People of Color should be supported into full human rights and social justice because they have been nice to White people. It was a moment of pain in my head and heart when I realized it could be taken this way- and that it was another piece of my racism that made me blind to it.

I felt the pain of wrong-doing and the pain of cognitive dissonance (where my beliefs about myself and the truth about my actions come into conflict in this post). Avoiding cognitive dissonance (or wrong-doing) do not help. I take responsibility for my lack of clarity and my racist action and perspective.

Most of what I write here is me trying to use words to describe the ‘hard to pin down’ thing that happens when your head+heart speak and join together. Sometimes those feelings and insights pass too quickly for me to notice and then properly pin down with words. (Also, being misunderstood has been the story of my life as an INFJ.)

Words are important, though, especially as machines that bring our thoughts and feelings forth to create reality (they are flawed machines in most cases).

So, let me be clear with my words: People of color have been thrown before the cacophonies of the world because they were seen as less valuable than White people. This is not okay- not then, not now, not ever. This was a piece of my head:heart that did not get properly introduced into the (inadequate) metaphor. I am not here to help People of color because they have been nice to White people, I am here to create equality because it is the right thing to do- the right way for the music to be played, the full song, the true song.

And when I used the word ‘together’ it embodied- although I did not state it- the idea of equality and full rights for all humans that I was trying to get at in this post. For me, ‘together’ meant having everyone at the party of the world history song with equal standing. The singers, dancers, musicians, all there, all equal with full voices and support and access and resources. The moment when someone grabs your hand at a party and pulls you on to the dance floor- and everyone is having a proper, joyful time (you know that moment?) that is ‘together’ for me. And that is the song and the movement I am helping to build. (Even in my messy attempts such as this.)

And it is also why I am a member of Black Lives Matter and why I pay reparations. Because it is the right thing to do in this cause, this song, this dance. (Which I thought maybe was an ‘overachieving white lady’ thing to say, but now I realize we probably need a few more overachieving white ladies in the fight for racial equality and justice.) Also: put your money where your values are.




The place where your soul finds rest

This time next week I will be in my beloved Seattle. I am traveling there to officiate the wedding of a dear friend. And I am so looking forward to it. Seattle is my home. It is the place where my soul finds rest. (My beloved’s soul home is England, which is why I think we are stuck on the Atlantic Coast of the USA- half way between both!)

The ‘soul home’ is the place where we feel at peace, simply by being there. When I am in Seattle, I feel that the world is okay, my body relaxes in a way it does not here in Southern New England, and I feel at peace, even if the world is in chaos. People speak with the same words and symbols I do. We wait in line for coffee the same way. It is a place where I know the language and the customs; I don’t have to fumble with them, they are in my blood.

The city has certainly changed in the last 15 years, but it remains my place. And while I won’t ever return to live there, it lives in my heart. Always.

Of course, the Seattle of my heart is the Seattle of the 1990s. When Grunge music was taking center stage, we all wore Doc Martins and plaid shirts, and telling the dark truth about life became the savior spirit of our music and culture. I remain romantic and nostalgic about that time- and I doubt that will ever change. They were grand years, the 1990s.

If you travel to Seattle today, you would barely recognize it from the 1990s. A little neighborhood called Ballard used to be a joke – all the old, Swedish ladies lived there and no one cool would venture in. Today, Ballard is full of huge apartment buildings housing Amazon’s latest and brightest and is considered quite posh for the newly rich. It’s like that most everywhere.

So, let me tell you about the Seattle of the 1990s. Let a local gal show you the sights.

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You must, of course, do all the tourist things. Go to the Space Needle and take the tour. I had my 16th birthday dinner there- the spinning restaurant was a new attraction then and the subterranean shop had not yet been imagined. The food is still very tasty and the view is worth the price. Take all the pictures and don’t forget to look down at the rooftop art.

The Pike Place Market is also on the list. You have to see the flying fish guys and the copper pig. But don’t forget to buy a Texas sized doughnut (not ‘donut’!) and visit the dusty antique shops in the lower floors (that is where we found some of the absolute best junk to wear in the 90s). The Pike Place Market is also one of the most sensual places you’ll ever visit. There are so many sights, sounds, smells, colors, and textures. Try all the samples. Smell all the flowers. Eat fresh Alaskan crab or Pacific clam chowder. See a geoduck (pronounced: gooey-duck.) Buy the gorgeous t-shirt. Take your time and enjoy it all. It’s beautiful.



If you’re a 90s person, you’ll want to find the SubPop offices. They were the first label to sign Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Sleater-Kinney (which is a street near where my family lives). And you can still buy their iconic black and white logo t-shirt.



You’ll also want to hit The Crocodile Cafe in Belltown. The Wikipedia page will show you the amazing list of who played here. And I will tell you- it’s shinier now than it ever was in the 90s.

Little known spots of the 90s music scene are the actual sound garden, an art installation called ‘A Sound Garden’ on the NOAA campus in Seattle. You gotta ask permission to visit these days, though. In the 90s, you could just walk right up to it. Magnusson Park- great place. And yes, the band did take their name from the installation.

Drive-bys include the condo block where Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains) was found dead. This is actually in a neighborhood called ‘the U district’ (that’s what locals call it) and is worth more than a drive-by. It’s a quirky couple of blocks, but worth a walk with a coffee in hand. Kurt Cobain’s house, of course. Fun fact: my high school best friend’s brother was on MTV when Cobain’s suicide was announced. He was one of the first people to show up and start the impromptu memorial. (I know, it sounds like Ferris Bueller, but whatever.) And the Jimi Hendrix statue on Capitol Hill (which used to be the best gay neighborhood ever. Fuck you, breeder gentrification).

There is a much larger Jimi Hendrix memorial in my hometown of Renton. (More about all the Jimi Hendrix memorials, in this article.) It’s rather ostentatious and more about the ornament than the music, I think. Back in the 90s, you could still visit the single, nondescript plaque in the same cemetery, just like in Singles. (That link also contains many of the Seattle locations used in the film. Go see them all you 90s time-travelers!) I will tell you- there were never that many candles or roaches at his grave. Bruce Lee is also buried in Renton, but at a private cemetery.




There are some fun neighborhoods in Seattle. First off: Fremont. It is known as ‘The Center of the Universe’ by its inhabitants and has a naked bike ride every year. This tells you everything you need to know about Fremont. Also, the statue of Lenin. The ‘under the bridge troll’ is here- great for kids and pictures. And when you’re done trolling around, the best cake place on Earth is also in Fremont. I’m gluten free now, but I will buy a slice of their white-chocolate strawberry cake just to have one bite. It is that good. Get some tasty Thai at the place around the corner.

Golden Gardens is a lovely little beach and garden area at the bottom of the Ballard hill. I officiated my first wedding here. It was ‘off the books’ so the groom could relax- no papers to sign and no rush. We did the official one a couple of days later. It was perfect and I highly recommend two weddings to any nervous groom. When you’re done at the park, there are great hiking trails back up the hill and some gorgeous scenery along the way.

Other neighborhoods in Seattle that are worth some time are Capitol Hill. It used to be much less built up (tallest building for the length of the strip was 3 stories high). And there were groups like Q-Patrol and naughty gift shops of all varieties back in the day. And a great bookshop that has since died. Me and everyone in my high school (I found out years later) went to dance at Neighbors as their first ‘gay club’ experience in the 90s. You can still go there and it seems better than ever.

Lower Queen Anne and the International District are also great to visit, but I have zero 90s memories to offer. Lower Queen Anne now has some tasty places to eat and fun venues for music, but I have no recommendations. The International District is a great place to wander and feel what it’s like to be a minority as a caucasian person (it’s very good for your entitled, white ego to get smashed. Go and enjoy it).

The last thing I will say about Seattle and its surrounding areas is eat everything you can. One of my favorite things about Seattle is that you can find most any type of food you’re interested in and it will be made by people from that actual place. Japan, China, Laos, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, India, Pakistan…EVERYTHING is available there. And it is all delicious. You have not lived until you’ve had a lumpia, or twelve, okay? Plus, a lot of damn fine, local brews. Go: eat.

[ETA: It was late last night when I wrote, my brain hurt just thinking of all my bittersweet feelings for Seattle. I forgot to add these wonderful places-

Gasworks Park (went to my first large drinking party there; left rather quickly),
a Seattle ferry anywhere (really, just take one anywhere),
and Deception Pass (out of town, but worth the drive, which is beautiful all in itself; walk the whole pass, it is breathtaking),
and, OMG, take the Seattle Underground tour (it’s so cool!)
and see the Chihuly glass gardens (just lay there and look up)
and, of course, the Experience Music Project (but call it ‘the ee-em-pee’ to sound local).

Knowing me, I’ll probably add more later. Keep checking back!]




If you want to get out of town, I recommend two places. Travel north 1.5 hours to Bellingham, WA (where my sweetie and I met and fell in love) or south 1.5 hours to Grayland Beach. Bellingham is a highly cultured college town and full of good food, music, art, and beautiful trails to walk and ride. I will be buried there, that’s how much I love this place.

Grayland is probably my most spiritual place ever- it’s where I began to write, to consider myself a writer-of-good-things. You can also stop by Aberdeen on your way there, where Kurt Cobain spent some of his youth- and where ‘The Banks of the Wishkah’ album got its name. Grayland does, in fact, have beaches and they are beautiful, especially in the rain. There are artisans and cranberry bogs tucked away along the two-lane road; go find them.

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Now that I’ve spent almost 2 hours writing this, I think I have nothing else to say. Not true. I have a zillion more things to say, but you only get them if you hire me to be your personal Seattle tour guide (we’ll be staying at the W hotel, justsoyouknow). In which case, I would excitedly point out interesting things about pretty much every building we pass and place we go. I think it’s clear, though: I love this town. It has my heart and soul.

I hope to drop a few photo love bombs for you while I’m there. I’ve got lots of people to love up while I’m there, though- and people are the experience I live for. Let me know if you ever want to go to Seattle, though. I’m ready to show you my world. And if not, let this be a short guide to what is wonderful and star-filled and rain-washed about the city, a gift of joy and kindness from my heart to yours.