Best of 2021… January

Biden Inauguration

We are only a month in to the New Year and I have found so much to love. Here’s a list, but I’d love to hear what is making your heart happy too so please comment below!

#1The Inauguration of the Biden-Harris Administration. Thank God. Maybe we can somehow find a way forward together, in truth.

# 2 – Movies. I have been watching lots and lots of TV, which now, thanks to the pandemic, can also mean fabulous movies. Here are the ones that topped my list:

The Dig – Netflix – Quiet, brilliant, deeply moving, a treasure. A masterclass in acting and cinematography and storytelling in my book. Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star.

Soul – Disney+ – What a surprise! An animated movie that looks at the meaning of life. Do we need a big purpose to deserve to live?

A Promising Young Woman – Amazon Prime – You know how most revenge movies portray a good, mild mannered man who goes ballistic after his beautiful love interest is raped/murdered/kidnapped? This isn’t that movie. (You will not recognize this Carey Mulligan from the one you meet in The Dig).

The Sound of Metal – Amazon Prime – A musician loses his hearing and he has to learn how to live again.

Life Overtakes Me – Netflix – Within moments, this movie surrounds you in an alternative reality. Families tenderly and carefully holding their living child’s limp and unconscious body through the daily activities of life. These small children are living but have slipped away into unconsciousness. Watch.

White Tiger – Netflix – Wow. Wow. Wow. Based on a book of the same name that was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2008, this dazzling movie tells the tale of talented young man

Good Hair – Netflix – Prompted by having two young daughters, Chris Rock travels the U.S. and the globe to understand the history, economics, politics, fashion and future of black hair. I was riveted.

The Prom – Netflix – Fifteen second in to this show and I was wishing it would last for the rest of my life. There is absolutely nothing Meryl cannot do, and she is once again brilliant here. Singing, dancing, sparkles, humor – I drank it all in with a giant gulp.

#3 My apps of the moment:

Duolingo – I am working hard to relearn Italian. I spend my senior year of college studying at the Universita di Bologna, (founded in 1088, it is the oldest university in the world). All my classes were in Italian and I was fluent when I left. I work on this app every day to recapture that most lyrical of languages. My sister recently pointed out that if I get a paid membership, I can unlock tons more content so I recently upgraded.

MarcoPolo – My friend Janet turned me on to this app back in May, and it has been a lifesaver during lockdown. The founders call it a video Walkie-Talkie, and it allows you to make videos whenever and wherever you want and the receiver can watch them at their leisure. It has made me feel connected to the family and friends I love and miss.

#4 – Podcasts (who doesn’t have one yet?)

I pride myself on being an early adopter of this medium, and I follow scores, but my latest find “SmartLess” is pure comedy gold. Co-hosted by Justin Bateman (Arrested Development/Ozark), Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), are true friends IRL, smart, quick witted, crass, rude, curious and able to give each other endless crap. Each week, one of them invite a guest and so far, Martin Short was nirvana.

#5 – Books

I am part of two bookclubs and I loved both books I read this month.

The Splendid and the Vile – it is the gripping account of Churchill and the Blitzkrieg of 1940 – 1941. I linked to Bill Gates’ review because he’s a genius and I am not, but I agree with his feeling that it was the perfect book to read for these times. I was so despondent during the last four years, it was inspiring to read about how a true leader can guide a desperate country through unimaginable times.

Breath – this book has been life changing. While I have always taken breathing for granted – this book shows that by paying attention to how I breathe, I can improve my health in countless ways. Check out the link above, and in addition to links to purchase the book, you will find links to breathing exercises that might pique your interest in the book.

#6 – Online events

Lyle Lovett and guests – I follow 2,439,0113 people on Instagram (not really, but lots) and Lyle Lovett is one. He notifies followers about upcoming online “talking and playing and singing” concerts with friends – for the price of $10. Over the last few months, we have tuned in for Lyle with Dwight Yoakum, Lyle and Chris Isaak and most recently, Lyle and Jason Isbell.

#7 – My husband, my dog Lexi, my horse Metro – Always, every day, these three bring me joy, comfort, profound connection and meaning.

I have so many things I could add to this list, but I will be back for more next month. Until then, please stay safe, wear your mask, stay socially distant and let me know how you are finding hope and joy in the midst of everything.

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Sad Songs Cheer Me Up

Sad songs

It’s weird, but when I am sad, listening to sad songs cheers me up. For me, nothing is sadder than a cry-in-your-beer country music song.  I love the ache of a twangy voice that cracks with pain, a slide guitar, and lyrics …  and no one does it like George Jones.  Well, maybe Tom Petty does. Longing. OK, well, then there’s The Hag – yup, Merle Haggard. Bewilderment at all how it all came down. But I don’t want to leave out Vince Gill.  Lonesome. Gram Parsons and Emmylou. Keith Whitley. “There were times if you’d been around, you would’ve seen me broken down.” Vern Gosdin. “if you’re gonna do me wrong… do it right. Ralph Stanley… nothing darker.

George Jones with a guitar

For some reason these melancholy, heartbreaking tunes cheer me up. I could go on and on. Who do you turn to when you are sad?

A few links I hope you like.

Heartbreaking.

This is on my reading list. I Found My Tribe.

Prince. Always and forever a 70’s girl.

The rise and fall of the once great Tower Records.

I could watch this four hour movie over and over again. Running Down a Dream. 

Rising Strong.

Sending big hugs out to anyone who needs one today… including me.

 

 

 

 

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Creative again.

Last year, 2017, was a lost year for me in many ways. I honestly felt like the election of Trump sucked out all my creative drive, desire to even attempt to be creative. I know too many others felt like this. It’s been a year now and I’m trying to crawl out of this hole.

So, I’m trying to find my creative self again. Get back to writing. To taking photos. To cooking. To reading. To dreaming. I need help and I’ve reached out to friends for their encouragement and to help keep my feet to the fire so I don’t give up.

In the meantime, I’ve been consuming lots of brilliant work by some creative superstars. Here are a few of the highlights – I hope you enjoy.

I just saw this documentary Icarus and I have no idea why I never heard about it. It is harrowing and shocking. An amateur cyclist winds up uncovering Putin’s deadly hold on the doping of Russian athletes while trying to improve his race times. You really should watch it now and tell all your friends. No joke.

When poor Jon Benet Ramsey was murdered, I didn’t follow it obsessively. I followed it like the tragedy it was and then moved on. This filmmaker has made a “hybrid” documentary, Casting JonBenet as she looks to cast a movie about the murder. In the process the actors and non-actors who are auditioning tell their own stories and shed light on why they interpret the case as they do.

The book Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning by author Claire Dederer is so intimate and so recognizable to me as a woman that it feels almost too intimate, personal and intense to read. It’s like coming upon someone’s diary and feeling your cheeks get red hot as you read it because you know you shouldn’t but you find it so real and honest, you cannot put it down. Get it.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a marvel. I loved getting lost in it and cannot wait for the next season. It’s on Amazon Prime and tells the story of a prosperous, perfect Jewish wife who lives in a spacious apartment in the Upper West Side in 1958. She, in the course of the first season, loses her husband who blames his lack of success on her and loses the financial security he pretended to provide. She hits the comedy club stage and is a sensation. I loved it.

Also streaming on Netflix, I Love Dick. Reviews are mixed, but I devoured it, mostly because of it’s direct and fearless look at women’s sexuality and desire.

The gone-too-soon-Sam Shepherd, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck in a bitter, bleak Western landscape. Yes please. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. 

I grew up loving Glen Campbell. My stepdad died of dementia a few weeks ago. I’ll Be Me is a beautiful poem to Campbell, and his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the people who lost him minute by minute and day by day. Bless us all who have lost loved ones to this disease.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl will freak some folks out because it tells the story of a teenage girl, growing up in San Francisco in the 70s with divorced parents. I identified with so much of this book and it’s honest, tender and very edgy story about a girl’s desperate search for love and her deep sexual desires that overlap and keep her confused and often hurt. She’s a creative force and winds up victorious.

There’s a Southern Accent where I come from. Young uns call it country, Yankees call it dumb. I got my own way of talking, but everything is done with a Southern Accent, where I come from… Thank you Tom Petty. (And no, I don’t have an accent – I’m from Wisconsin.)

More to come. Welcome 2018. Thank you for reading.

“There is… only one of you in all of time, 
this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist…
The world will not have it. 
It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” 
~~ Martha Graham

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