Booking It

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It looks like my posts are not showing up in WordPress Reader lately, and I don’t know why, so who knows if anyone will even see this. Oh well.

A friend of mine has published a book of poetry using one of my photos! I love the way it looks and she is a wonderful poet, so if you can spare a few bucks please support her by buying a copy here.

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In other non-news, I have to amend my recent raves about the Maybelline lipstick I found to replace my beloved MAC Coconutty. It was a good match color-wise, but it wasn’t very pigmented so I had to slather a lot of it on to get decent color, and it was also so drying I couldn’t tolerate the stuff. So, tonight I ran up to the mall to get my hair trimmed up a bit (trying my best to tolerate the layers I got put in when wearing it curly, but it’s really annoying right now so I got a little blending done) and I did something I normally hate to do – I went to look at lipsticks at a department store. My problem with department store makeup counters is that there’s no middle ground with the salespeople – I tell them what I’m looking for and they follow me around, hard sell me to death, and won’t let me breathe even for a second, but if I say I’m just looking they disappear and can never be found when I’m ready to buy something. But I did it anyway, and I think I’ve got a nice match now that should also be hydrating (it better be, for $30).

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Amande Sucree by Lancome

I think the trick for me and the right lipstick is that the brown cannot have any hint of red in it, or it’s going to go really red on my skin. I want a true brown that isn’t too dark, so I have to either find a taupe-ish one or one with a hint of copper in it instead of the red. This one seems to do the trick. Moving on.

Today is obviously Halloween, and one of the advantages of being at a private school is that we get to obnoxiously celebrate whatever holidays we want. Every year the school holds a costume contest for the teachers, so everyone dresses up elaborately. I am not going for anything elaborate, because I already get up way too early in the morning just to put on my regular face, (5:15 AM) and I’m not willing to get up any earlier for costume makeup application. Plus,  I have to teach all day in whatever I wear so I want to be comfortable – so I just went with a hippie and invested in a really nice long blonde wig and some round glasses. Funny thing is, only the wig and round glasses were actually purchased specifically for the costume – the rest is my own clothes! My Birkenstocks, wide-leg jeans, and poncho are all already in regular rotation, so basically I’m going to school dressed like myself on a Saturday, just with a wig and different frames.

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Weird shot of my wig and glasses for Halloween

The air show is Saturday, so I’ll be getting up at an ungodly hour to drive out to my father’s house and carpool on over there with him. Taking the “real” camera along this time, so here’s hoping I get a ton of good pictures. The weather is supposed to be perfection with the cool front that’s moving in today, which will certainly help, so I hope to have loads to edit and process in the coming week. It’s been awhile since I’ve had anything new to work with, so wish me luck!

Depression Confession

I’d like to share with you all where I’ve been the past few days, and what’s been going on the past few weeks/months/years. I think it’s OK to do this now, even though I’m still just on the tip of being on the mend; depending on how comfortable I am with this post I may or may not leave it up. Just a warning.

Ever since returning to work two years ago, there’s been a general malaise in my life with which I’ve had to grapple. A thin little stream of discontent, a subtle undercurrent of unhappiness. I blamed it on the job, as I’ve always done throughout my working life when the ripples of misery began to manifest in my spirit again: it’s this particular situation at work that makes me so stressed; it’s this person, it’s that environment. I had one good counselor in my thirties who helped me navigate through choppy waters of work distress (I remember the surprise and slight disappointment my husband displayed when  he discovered, after my many years of therapy, that I rarely if ever discussed our marriage in these weekly sessions – just work, work, work). It was, in fact, in one of these sessions that I decided teaching was just too much stress, was too overwhelming for me to manage anymore, and that I was going to quit.

In my twenties, it was a different counselor, and a different subject: my childhood, and its effect on my adult relationships. I spent several years working through the issues I had with my parents and the way I was raised (and I’m happy to report that since that time, my parents and I have had many conversations about the things that went on back then, and we’ve all apologized to each other for how we were treated as well as how we treated each other. So that’s nice). After a few years with her, I decided I was pretty good and healed, and we parted ways.

But as I already mentioned, in my thirties the depression came back, and so did the counseling sessions (I got a new counselor because the first one moved into an administrative position and no longer did individual counseling). Then, when I quit teaching, I also quit my second counselor and felt I finally had a handle on myself and my emotions. Then, I started working again, and the depression s-l-l-l-o-o-o-w-l-y seeped back under my skin.

I blamed external things for two years. I did a lot of that blaming on this blog. And while yes, I do feel I had a lot of legitimate complaints, I also spent two years navigating myself into a situation that, were my issues solely work-related, should have solved them.  But it didn’t. Not only that, but at the beginning of this year, the depression got worse. And when I say worse – I mean horrible. Worse than ever.

One of the reasons I decided to quit writing for awhile was because I just couldn’t keep forcing myself to push the depressed feelings out of what I was saying. I edited myself, but at some point it became too difficult to do any longer. For months, all I’ve really wanted to say here is I hate how I can’t find joy in anything any longer. Where did my energy go? Where is the balance? And I typed it up, many times, but for the most part it sounded too whiny and, quite honestly, uninteresting, so I edited. For the most part. I think some of it was still coming through though – mostly towards the end of it.

Roughly a month ago, I was driving to work in the early morning darkness, after another morning of waking up with the same, sad thought at the forefront of my mind: oh noooo, not another day I have to face; with the same overwhelming sense of dread I’d felt for what seemed like forever – a subtler form of it the past two years, but intensely since August – when it hit me like a sledgehammer to the back of the head: I’m depressed. And for the first time ever, that statement had serious weight behind it to me. I’ve thought it in the past, but I’ve never said it out loud to anyone, and never felt it resonate within my bones the way it did this time. It felt like a recognition about myself I should have made a long time ago. It felt sad, and heavy, and familiar, and correct, in a way nothing ever had before when it came to dealing with these moods.

My first thought in response to this was to sigh heavily and think: well, okay, I’ll get myself back into therapy again to figure out what’s going on with me now. But then I immediately got angry; I have been talking and talking about my depression for 20 years, and quite honestly, I thought to myself, I am talked. The fuck. Out. I really have nothing more to say about my past, present, or future to another counselor. I really don’t want to talk about myself anymore. At all. I am done with it. If all that talking was going to truly, truly work – it would have worked by now. After 20 years, there’s just no way I have more layers inside my psyche I need to discover. There’s no amount of yoga, or meditation, or herb consumption, that’s going to finally provide me the key that unlocks the darkness and sets it free from within me for good. Agree with me or no, but the answer to me was crystal-clear, and it wasn’t more talk therapy. It was medication.

It’s been suggested to me before, many times, but I was never willing to do it. And since I wasn’t willing, I didn’t. But this time, I was. So. A week ago I met with a doctor and was given a prescription for Wellbutrin, and I must admit that the results (which I was told would take up to 4 weeks to be felt at all) have already been pretty dramatic. Then again, I was always one to be particularly receptive to medicines – any time I’m told to take a pill that might not work right away, it seems to work the second it hits the back of my throat. So perhaps that’s why the results, for me, are already apparent. But on the third day, I did not wake up dreading getting out of bed for the first time in over a year, and from the first day I stopped crying at random times during the school day as soon as I was left alone. I have energy again, and when three things hit me at once that I have to deal with, I do the best I can instead of becoming a stuttering, ineffective mess who shuts down and stops communicating until everyone just goes away – and then cries. Tonight, when I was inundated with emails that clog up my inbox to the point of frustration, instead of seeing that as another sign that life is full of nothing but evil vultures trying to suck the life (and cash) out of me, I simply said ‘you know, this is pretty annoying and has gotten out of hand; I’m going to start unsubscribing from these emails when I get them.’ And then I started doing it.

I know it’s still early, and I know that medications are tricky, controversial things and I’ll have to monitor my progress, and that it’s not some miracle I can rely on entirely to make all my difficulties go away. But – so far, it has lifted the dark veil from my eyes that made everything that came my way appear to be a trouble in the first place, and for that I am grateful. Because although I didn’t tell this to too many people (although I am a sharp gal, so I did tell a few) things had gotten really, really bad. I was never suicidal, but I was severely depressed, to the point of feeling zero joy in any situation. The people who knew were a little surprised, and I don’t think they ever knew how deeply I felt it within me; and quite honestly, that surprised me a little bit. It made me think about people like Robin Williams, and how easily someone can slip so low they cannot be reached, and no one around them can even see it happening (my best friend even told me to ask the doctor how I could be so depressed and yet “be functioning so well,” which took me back a little because I did not feel I was functioning at all, much less doing a good job of it).

So. I know some of you are going to disagree with my decision to take this sort of medication (which I do not intend to do long-term, of course, but you know what – if it turns out that I need to, I will).   But you know what? I don’t care. Because the knowledge was bone-deep in me that it was what I not only wanted, but desperately needed to do to keep me functioning and sane. So even if you do not agree with the decision I made, I hope you can agree with this – if you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, desperate, lost, whatever it is that is taking you over and making you feel you can’t cope – reach out for help in some way. For me, the answer for 20 years was talk therapy, and when that no longer served me I found another solution. I also told people right away, the day the realization hit me – my husband, my best friend, and one co-worker. So talk about it. Let people – or at least let one person – know. And don’t try to handle it all alone. It’s not necessary, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, so there’s no need to stay solitary about it.

I’m still not back on Flickr, and I may not blog here again for awhile. I’d like to go back and read all your posts you’ve made since I’ve been away (and yeah, I realize it hasn’t actually been that long) but I am still kind of licking my emotional wounds a little, and sheltering myself. So I’m not quite ready to be an active participant in social media again just yet. I think maybe another week will do it, at the longest. Thanks for being around for me when I’ve needed it, you guys – it’s meant the world to me, and will continue to do so. See you all soon.

Break Time

I’m taking a week or so off from the internet, so forgive me if I’m not around to comment on your blog posts or respond here. No real reason for it, just a lot going on with work and family and I want to clear out the mental cobwebs that are cluttering up my brain. See you all soon!

Plane Plans

I am so excited, because we’ve had a nice little cool front this week that should last through the weekend, and as long as rain doesn’t roll in Saturday (which it might) my father and I are heading out to the observation area at IAH to do some plane spotting. Now, I know that in no way are you interested in watching 13+ minutes of plane footage from this location, but I liked this video the best of the ones I found on YouTube – I think it really gives you a sense of the observation park and how close the planes are when they fly overhead. So, I’m including the video anyway and you can watch of it what you want.

Lots could go wrong with this plan, but then again, that’s true of aviation in general; weather dictates what happens more than anything, so if the winds aren’t blowing in the right direction the runway where this observation spot is located might not get used all that much. It’s doubtful, since this runway is one of the busiest at the airport, but it’s happened to me before at Hobby, so we’ll see. Tons of Continental planes here since IAH is a home base, but during the afternoon hours loads of international flights and interesting planes landing and taking off, too. So here’s hoping it works out and we get to go.

I probably won’t post much more until after the trip, because I’m having a bad week with my arm (and Sandy the massage therapist had some surgery and can’t work until after October 20th) and I want it to be in some sort of shape to hold up my zoom lens and 7D. Saving my strength, and I’ll probably take my monopod or tripod along to help out, too. For added fun, here’s another video of footage from IAH, there are some really HUGE planes in this one, 777s and the like:

Oh ,and one other note: Stitch Fix not only contacted me to apologize for sending me a lame shipment, they also gave me my $20 stylist’s fee back for the month. AND, they sent me another shipment which I am due to get this Saturday. So I’ll be able to photograph that sometime too, but it might be awhile since this weekend is going be pretty busy as it is.

 

Home Dumbing

I can’t believe summer  break was two months ago now; it feels like yesterday to me. I swear I don’t know where vacation went or how it’s fall already, and we’re about to mail out our first progress reports at school and homecoming is around the corner. Speaking of homecoming, is this just a Texas thing?

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When mums attack

These will be swarming the scene at every grocery store in the state from now until the last Homecoming game is played. At school, some of the girls’ mums are so huge they have to attach a strap and wear them around their necks to keep them on.

Another thing that’s new to me, but not to the students: gone are the days when a guy just walked up to a girl and asked her to the game (or prom). Nowadays, it has to be a huge production worthy of ending up a viral video. Signs have to be made. Dance steps must be memorized. Flower petals and confetti must be flung. And the bigger the audience for all this tomfoolery, the better. What gives?

I blame YouTube. Seems nothing is worth doing anymore unless it garners the approval of a large crowd of anonymous people. Same with wedding proposals. Now the poor guy has to go all out and perform a choreographed lipsynch in front of a huge crowd or the gal feels ripped off. I hate to say it, but thank God I’m not a young-un in the midst of all of this. I am so practical and un-romantic, I would have run screaming from any marriage proposal that involved what, to me, would feel like both public pressure and public humiliation. I don’t even recall that Doug and I had a formal proposal. It was more like – hey, we’re a good fit, we should get married someday. Yep. We should probably buy an engagement ring to make that official. Yep. Shall we go to Zales and pick something out? OK. Poof! Engaged.

But that’s just me. And by the way, I never went to Homecoming in high school, not once. Never got asked and never cared, as I hated the thought of wearing a mum (which back in the 80’s was a lot smaller) and I hated football games too. Still do, but I’ll probably go to the one at the school out of a sense of duty anyway.

This whole post was an excuse to share that photo, which cracked me up when I saw it at the grocery store Saturday. You’re welcome.

Day 1 Down, Day 15 Done

I was so nervous for the first day of school, but then I always am. It went off without a hitch, though – the kids were pretty enthusiastic about the class overall, and we had many great conversations about the purpose of the course and how it could benefit them. I didn’t even get through my syllabus or my class rules, but the typically hour-and-a-half class times were reduced to 40 minutes, so the day flew by. The nicest thing of all, though, was how simple and controlled the environment was, compared to the chaos of the administrative offices. When I worked as a counselor, I literally ran out the door the minute the end of the contract day arrived, but as a teacher I willingly stayed late to work on lesson plans and other duties without an ounce of resentment. I think it’s because I don’t have a job I want to escape anymore. It just felt so normal. I know I will still have stresses and challenging times and frustrations, but at the heart of it is a situation I can control, and long swaths of time where all I can do is teach and everything else has to wait. I’m much more convinced now that this was the right move to make  – although I’m still nervous about what might be coming down the pike later, but that’s just how I am.

So, day one of teaching down, and day fifteen of the 365 project got done – sort of. It’s a pretty horrid little picture, although I do like the primary colors and geometric shapes it created. But it’s another iPhone pic, and was snapped at the end of the day without much planning or thought:

Day 14

That, my friends, is a completely full box of donuts that sat on the floor in the hallway the entire day. I have no idea why. I kept walking past it and thinking, surely there’s a reason for this, a joke someone is playing or something, but nope. Even after the bell rang and the kids left, the box still sat there. Finally I picked it up and threw it in the trash. Weird.

On another note, I haven’t talked about this at all, but another reason I’m so busy right now and not taking many pictures is because an elderly family member is quite ill, and my husband is the primary caretaker for this person. I go with him to help when I can, which means my weekends are pretty much taken up with errands and trips to go visit family. I don’t know how long this will go on, but it may be awhile. That combined with the first weeks of school just hasn’t afforded me any time to do studio shots at all, but perhaps when at least the school side dies down I can get back to it. Then again, maybe not. I’ll continue taking what pictures I can, when I can, and we’ll see how things go.

Ready Set

Go.

School starts Thursday, so of course our furniture didn’t come in until about 3:00 PM Wednesday. Then it had to be assembled and arranged, and it wasn’t until my desk was put together that a computer could be set up in my room. We still don’t have any filing cabinets, so we’re stuck as far as getting files and things together because it’s all confidential information that must be locked down. So we’re really only halfway running at this point – but the kids will show up Thursday morning regardless.

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At least they will have somewhere to sit.

That is my Day 14 photo, by the way. Truth be told, I’ve considered at some point during each of the past three days just chucking the 365 project, but in the end some little picture has presented itself to me for a photo opportunity to keep me going. Some of it has been crap, or using my iPhone, but at least it’s something, as I’m sure not taking any studio photos right now. Just way, way too busy for the past week and a half getting ready for the year (even though I’m still not ready).

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This was my Day 13 photo, and so far I like it least of anything I’ve shot. But I was seriously out of time Tuesday evening when I snapped it, and I was exhausted from getting only two hours’ sleep the night before at the godawful school lock-in I’ve still barely recovered from. I’ve starting using these DevaClips to get some lift in the crown area, and in spite of my intial doubt that these would be a useful purchase (it’s $13 for 8 clips) they actually work. They’re much bigger than normal clips, and I can pinch a pretty large section of hair together, stick the clip in perpendicular to my scalp, and it will hold the hair up nice and tight until it dries. I’ve even slept in them once or twice and they did not budge. When I take them out, there’s a big old lift and swoop to my hair that I can then tame down with the diffuser. Anyway, I put these in Tuesday night after taking a shower, stuck my head in front of my Canon SL1 and snapped this, then added a ton of quick filters to it in the hopes of making it seem interesting. All it really did was confuse people, but I was too exhausted to even explain. Moving on.

Let’s talk briefly about that lock-in though. I was pretty much dreading it, showed up around 9 PM because I was told I was only needed for the sleepover part and there’d be nothing more for me to do aside from be a spare person available in case of emergency only to find out that the coordinator of the event expected me to do a hell of a lot more than that, then got chewed out by her in front of everyone when I expressed surprise at suddenly discovering I had all these other duties I was not expecting to have. It was terribly embarrassing and upsetting, and led to me having weird panic attacks all night long, resulting in me getting a grand total of two hours’ sleep that night. I know I said it to some of you in the comments already, but to repeat: NEVER. AGAIN.

I should have known I was in for trouble when, as I arrived to the lock-in, it was raining pretty hard, and as I walked up to the gym I had to step through this grassy esplanade-like thing, and I tried to step on the little metal storm drain that was stuck in the ground because, I thought to myself, I could keep my foot dry if I stepped on it since the grass was so wet – but my damn leg went all the way through it and down the drain. Thank God someone was with me to pull me out, and that all I got was a small  bruise on my shin from the experience, as I could have easily injured the hell out of myself.

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Given what came after this, I should have just stayed in there

After checking that I was not injured, my friend pulled me out and then, quite honestly, we laughed about it because it was funny at that point instead of freaking tragic (after knowing what the rest of the night turned out to be like, I actually think getting my leg ripped open and spending the night in the emergency room might have been preferable to chaperoning the sleepover). The left leg of the pants I was wearing were completely soaked, as was the brand-new shoe I had on – thank God it was a vegan Birkenstock sandal that survived no worse for the wear – so my friend and I had to drive to her house (I don’t live close to the school but she does) and get some sweatpants for me to wear, and I had to get a new pillow because I dropped mine and it was soaked too. Honestly, I should have just gotten back into my car and driven away, as clearly this was God trying to stop me from chaperoning that thing, but I failed to recognize it as the sign it was.

A bit of an odds and ends post here, I guess, and the next few days are also likely to include hastily-written  blog entries and sloppy photos, but eventually this will all settle down and I’ll get back into the groove. Wish me luck!

 

354 More to Go

This is going to be a brief update, because as the first day of school draws near (Thursday) work gets more and more intense. Not a bad sort of intense, just very busy and rather desperate.

I have a classroom but still no furniture – no desks or filing cabinets or anything. So I’m at a point where it’s hard to plan. I want to determine classroom procedures, but without knowing, for example, where the sign in and sign out sheet is going to reside, I can’t exactly write that into my class rules. And I can’t organize my student files, which are confidential, until I have somewhere to lock them up and file them. So I’m just twiddling my thumbs waiting for my furniture to come in – oh, and I still don’t have a computer so I’m lugging my laptop up to work and back home, which is its own sort of PITA because I have to work off of flash drives, and my laptop isn’t connected to any of the printers at the school, so I can work on documents in my empty room (sitting on that little sofa), then I have to save them, yank the flash drive out, and go log in to some other computer, open the docs back up again, and print them. All of this shuffling around gets me flustered and I start losing things! Not to mention that for almost a week now the air conditioning has been out on the first floor where my room is, and it gets so sweltering hot during the day that I can’t concentrate. Just your typical buildup to the first days of school. Those of you who’ve taught before probably recognize the insanity.

Overall though I am enjoying planning for the school year without having to think about counseling. I’m nervous, as I’ve mentioned before, but as I make my plans I feel much more in control and “in my element” than I ever did as a counselor. I think it was a wise decision.

Here’s something that was NOT a wise decision, however: the school puts on a special camp for all new students at the beginning of the year (we are a small private school, so new students each year don’t total much over 100) and that camp involves a sleepover at the school. I don’t know why they insist on doing this, as it always seems like such a time-consuming and bad idea to me, but they think it’s awesome, so whatever. Except this time, the woman who runs the camp had a hard time getting volunteer chaperones to sleep up at the school (the Diocese insists there be 1 teacher to every 10 kids for lock-ins) so I told her I’d do it if she couldn’t rustle up enough people, but I emphasized I only wanted to be signed up as a last resort. Well guess what? The last resort was needed, so in an hour or so I am off to the school to SLEEP on an AIR MATTRESS overnight in a GYM with 100 high school students. WHYYYY???

They did say I could show up very late as they literally just need me for the sleepover part, so I’m going to roll in around 10 PM in my pajamas and get the hell out of there first thing in the morning. Then I’ll have to drive home, shower, get dressed for the day, and go right back up there for another day of work. Again I say it, WHYYYYYY????? Well we know why. Because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut that’s why. They do pay $100 for everyone who sleeps over, so there’s that. But still. This is so far outside my comfort zone, it’s not even funny.

I thought my photo for the day would be something like my sleeping bag or me lying on the floor in the gymnasium, but then as I was getting ready I spied Simon chilling out on top of these chests that sit on top of a decorative table in our living room, and well, it was too cute not to be my Day 11 shot. So, here it is, and wish me luck tonight. This is in no way going to be fun, and I probably won’t get a lick of decent sleep.

day 11_final

A Photo Another Day

I managed to get to Day Two of my 365 project, so yay me:

Day2

I know I mentioned earlier that I have a real love of toeless socks, and as a bonus they take cool pictures. I’m not going get into why I love them, because there has to be some limit for what I will go on and on about here, so why not draw it at toeless socks?

I also edited a photo of my mom and dad from back in May when we spent the weekend at that beach house:

momndad_Snapseed

My dad, I think, had discovered I was snapping a photo of them and was goofing around with me, but I don’t think my mother had figured it out yet (I was shooting this with my telephoto lens from quite far away). My mom would be furious with me if she knew I was sharing this photo anywhere, because I’m sure she would say she looks terrible or something like she always does, but I really like the composition of the shot as well as the humor. There were loads of telephone wires behind them in the original, but I managed to edit them out without too much trouble.

Annnnnd just like that summer is over. I have to return to work for real on Wednesday, but I need to go in sooner than that to clean out the rest of the things that are in my office (which is no longer mine) for the new counselor. I have not given the coming school year much thought at all this summer, so I’m sure it’s about to slam me in the back of the head and knock me over, but at least I’ll be back in the classroom this year. We’ll see how much blog posting and 365 photo-ing I’ll be able to keep up with once things kick into gear!

Non-Celebrity Playlist

I read an article today about an actor’s “Celebrity Playlist,” and even though the parameters of assigning songs to the Playlist were a mystery (Is it favorite songs of all time? Songs with the most sentimental value? Who knows) and even though I am not a celebrity, I made one too. So here it is.

My parameters were that I am too lazy to actually sit down and think about what should be on my Celebrity Playlist, so my list was compiled by scrolling through what is currently in my iTunes cloud and looking at the songs I listen to the most, which is a quite a bit for someone who doesn’t listen to music all that much.

Antony and the Johnsons – Cut the World

I just discovered Antony Hegarty a little over two years ago, and I love him. Very operatic, moody, reflective, and inspiring, with an unusual voice and some interesting lyrical perspectives. The video for “Cut the World” that I linked to above has a violent scene in it, so be warned (but it also has Willem Dafoe, which can never be a bad thing IMO). But it’s an interesting piece and a beautiful song.

CocoRosie – Gallows

“Freak Folk” that utilizes everything from children’s toys to kazoos to harps to make really strange yet pretty music. Bianca Casady’s scratchy voice often raps over the melodies of her opera-trained sister. Their first album was recorded in a bathroom, I believe, but they’ve moved into the studio since then while maintaining the weird beauty that attracted them to me in the first place. Cool videos too – I’ve linked before to their video for “We Are on Fire,” which I find visually inspiring.

Dr. Wu – Steely Dan

I love Steely Dan. My favorite band, hands-down. I had a hard time choosing which songs to put on my playlist, but I chose this one because I my first pet, a little rat terrier, was nicknamed (among other things) Dr. Woo, and I would often sing parts of this song to him (are you with me,  Dr. Wu…). Great saxophone in this song.

Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. – Be Blessed

A gospel song a friend of mine sent to me the day my grandmother died; I was feeling so terribly low, and I really didn’t know this person very well, but she sent me a link to the song and I listened to it over and over while I cried for my lost granny. I don’t listen to gospel music, and I’m not particularly religious, but this song touched my heart at a time I really needed solace, and I still listen to it often, especially when I’m feeling down or frustrated (when they sing “I see you in the future/and you look better” well, it always gets me just a little).

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

I love Kate Bush. I could put loads of her songs on this list,  but Wuthering Heights sums her up so well, I’ll just stick with this one. The song, the video – it’s all so seventies and perfectly cheesy and fabulously dramatic. Love love love her.

The Flaming Lips – Feeling Yourself Disintegrate

I’m a fickle Lips fan, primarily loving The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which probably makes me uncool, but they were two excellent albums. And I once had a cat named Yoshimi –  sadly, she only lived five years. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate is a lovely song about mortality and one’s need to accept it in order to appreciate the beauty of life. Great stuff. (life/without death/ is just impossible/to realize…)

Peg – Steely Dan

It’s Steely Dan. This song makes me so happy I want to bash my head against something every time it comes on. I will be that woman humiliating herself by dancing ecstatically in her car on the freeway if I hear it while driving. Best groove ever, with a killer bass.

Bodhisattva – Steely Dan

Same.

Joe Henry – Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation

OK, now I’m getting all moody again. “Scar” is a bluesy, jazzy, gorgeous album, and this song, with its long, mournful Ornette Coleman alto sax solo, is six minutes of sublime. Fabulous title, too.

Old 97s – Big Brown Eyes

The Old 97s were the pride of Dallas back in the 90s. I always expected them to break and become huge, but it never happened. Their early albums were part of the alternative country wave that eventually burned out, and they temporarily turned away from the scene and started recording poppier stuff. I lost interest, and never got into them again when they returned to writing songs more in their original style. They’re still around, but for me their first 2 or 3 albums are still the best ones.

Richard Thompson – 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

In my humble and non-musically educated opinion, one of the best folk ballads I’ve ever heard. Richard Thompson is one of hell of a guitarist; I love him overall but for me this song sums up why more than anything.

Rufus Wainwright – Sonnet 20

Rufus Wainwright playing setting Shakespeare’s sonnets to music and singing along? (A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted/ Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion) Sign me up. I actually like his Sonnet 10 better, but couldn’t find a decent video recording of it.

Tom Jones – It’s not Unusual

Another song that makes me so happy I want to smash something; after listening to all the apparently depressing stuff  I like (never realized it until making this list) it’s no wonder I need a song like this every now and then. Must stop and dance every time I hear it no matter what I’m doing. My friend Candace and I spent one summer day years ago driving around town, getting out of the car in weird locations and doing the “Carlton” dance to this song (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air); we filmed the whole thing and put it into a video with this playing. I’ll have to dig that up from wherever I stored it and let you all see it. We danced at a putt-putt golf place, a library, a fire station…all over town. It was a blast.

Tom Waits – Tom Traubert’s Blues

I guess there are better Tom Waits songs, but this has always been my favorite. Sad and pretty and rather depressing while still melodic – which seems to be a trend with me.

FM – Steely Dan

No static at all. I dunno, just had to end with another Dan.