The iTunes Shuffle

I put my iTunes playlist on a “genius” shuffle (where it makes you a list based off the first song you select) and laughed my way through a set of ten songs that probably really do explain a lot about who I am.

First, the list. Then the witty repertoire.

  1. Free Coffee Town – Ben Folds
  2. Wallet – Regina Spektor
  3. Why – Elefant (Scrubs season 2 soundtrack)
  4. So Long – Ingrid Michaelson
  5. August Moon – Sara Bareillis
  6. Our Love – Rhett Miller (Scrubs season 2 soundtrack)
  7. Cop Chase (Jason Mraz – live)
  8. Me – Paula Cole
  9. Ladder – Joan Osborne
  10. 32 Flavors – Ani DiFranco

First things first, this list is very much me. Between the singer/songwriter hits, soundtracks, and live music, this list is spot on.

benfoldsBen Folds – the lead singer of Ben Folds Five has put out some of his own solo albums and they are amazing. He has this smooth, sultry voice that mellows me out no matter the mood I’m in. The song “Free Coffee Town” is beautiful … if we could all be so gentle, if we all could be so free, coffee … free coffee would be just one of the beautiful things in this world.

Regina Spektor‘s “Wallet” is a beautiful song about finding someone else’s wallet and being able to just barely see inside his or her life. There’s something mysterious and interesting about her lyrical composition. Your winter birthday was stamped on the plastic of a license so recently expired … makes me think the wallet’s owner may have passed by now.


elefantElefant is a band I don’t listen to much of; but they’re on my favorite (of all time) soundtrack, so I hear “Why” all the time. After my 2006 divorce (*gasp*), I listened the Scrubs (S2) soundtrack multiple times a day. “Why” is a strangely peppy song about missing someone, and I still love it even though I don’t miss him anymore. Your sweater on the stairs, pretending you’re still there, it’s everything and nothing new.

Ingrid Michaelson and I would be BFFs if she knew who I was. Her music has always had the ability to inspire me. When “So Long” began playing, I laughed; apparently my music is all about being sad because someone isn’t there anymore. I’m now aware. Maybe it will change … probably not. I am soft for only you, impale me with your tongue, it’s true.

augustmoon“August Moon” by Sara Bareillis is another sad song. Geeze, Sarah; this is a little eye opening. Her eyes they shine on you, while I stand under the August moon, and I pray sleep comes soon. As she watches her former partner being gazed at my someone else in love. Oh, how sad and sweet.

Rhett Miller‘s “Our Love” is also on the Scrubs season 2 soundtrack. rhettmillerIt’s one of my absolute favorite songs I’ve ever heard. It’s peppy (whoa!), and sad and full of meaning. There are references to Richard Wagner, and Kafka in a love song; it’s hard not to adore. Our love surpassed our love so fast, our love’s all wrong, our love goes on and on, our love became, our love by name, when I wrote it to you in a song, our love goes on and on.

“Cop Chase” by Jason Mraz is a great song to add to this list because a) I adore Jason Mraz, and b) it’s live and Jason Mraz live is fantastic. Simple to explain, ultimately.

jasonmrazThrough middle school (16+ years ago!), “Me” by Paula Cole came into my life. The chorus of this song struck me then and has stuck with me until now. I’ll probably sing along with this song for the rest of my life. And it’s me who is my enemy; me who beats me up; me who makes the monsters; me who strips my confidence. What a soundtrack to my own life.


“Ladder” is another middle school song I adore; this time it’s by Joan Osborne. Singing along with I’m gonna love you anyway // today and everyday, today and everyday reminds me that for the people I love, no matter how unlovable they act, I’m going to love them; today and everyday.

Both Coop and I really enjoy listening to Ani DiFranco, and her song “32 Flavors” is in my top three favorites; I never skip “32 Flavors.” If you haven’t heard this song, I bring to you: both my parents taught me about good will; and I have done well by their names; just the kindness I’ve lavished on strangers; is more than I can explain.

What would your iTunes shuffle list look like if you were brave enough to share?



Five Places I’d Like to Visit

I like to travel, although funds for traveling aren’t always easy to come by. If I were awarded five trips of indeterminate length I already know where I’d be going.

  1. The ParthenonGreece: the Greek islands (as many as I can visit!) Athens (Acropolis/Parthenon), Crete, Cape Sounion (ancient Greek temple of Poseidon), Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, Peloponnese, Delphi, and the cliffs in Meteora. I want to see the ancient ruins, eat all the olives, and make friends with old Greek men who want to sell me things.
  2. Germany: I’ve been before (München, Köln, Berlin, Hamburg, Lüneburg), but I want to go back again; there’s so much more to see! I haven’t seen the castle Neuschwanstein yet. neuschwanI need to further explore the Black Forest and the underground tunnels water has ground out. Dresden and Berlin need further exploration. I’d like to walk all of Berchtesgaden, and climb the Kölner Dom again, then see the Freiburg Minster, the Würzburg Residenz Palace, and the Pied Piper (of Hamelin)’s house. I also think I need to take a Wattwandern in the North Sea area, again, too.
  3. NorwayNorway: I’m a quarter Norwegian (and a quarter Finnish), so I need to see both countries and explore where my people came from. I don’t even know about the “sights” there are, I just want to go and let myself be enveloped by the past. finlandI think I would actually like to find a home or a person with my mother’s maiden name … as they’re probably part of my family, too. I’m kinda fascinated by the idea.
  4. Finland
  5. canarythe Canary Islands: when I was in Germany, my host family always talked about their vacations to the Canary Islands. I want sun, sea, and sand … I hear they’re all there. I promise to wear sunscreen and drink lots of water.


Where would you like to travel to? Why do you want to go there?

Tourist in a familiar place

oregonmapThis week I’m spending some time with my family and friends in Oregon and playing a tourist in a state I am quite familiar with.

Besides the requisite family-hugging, nephew-meeting, and with-friend-celebrating, I have a few tourist activities I want to participate in.

  • brunch :: if there was ever a place that loved brunch more than San Francisco, it would be Portland. Breakfast is my favorite meal and finding a good brunch place in Portland is easy. This trip, I’m trying somewhere new; Oliver’s Cafe. I’m excited as it comes highly recommended and I get to brunch with a long-time friend. One of the perks of traveling to Portland from Silicon Valley is that suddenly everything is SO MUCH CHEAPER. $10 can feed you WELL for a meal … I’m excited to see what Oliver’s has in store for me.
  • Powell’s Books :: anyone who has ever been to Portland has probably heard about the biggest bookstore in the state; Powell’s Books. With more than two million volumes of readable material in the store, it’s always easy to find a book I’m interested in. I’m going to Powell’s with a plan this time; I’m going to buy a used book of American Colonial history or Oregon history specifically. (Yeah, I’m weird.) I will probably also buy a German book (a regular habit) and something for Moo (we love books).
  • stumptowncoffee :: COFFEE! COFFEE! COFFEE! One of the things I miss most about living in Portland was the easy access to small coffee shops with amazing coffees. I’ll be able to go to Stumptown and buy a couple of pounds to bring home, and I’ll go to my old haunt, Anna Bananas Cafe to have a great soy latte.
  • Hawthorne Street :: most of the time I lived in Portland, I lived on the west side of the Willamette river. I rarely trekked east, and unfortunately, I never took the time (in six years) to explore Hawthorne Street and its eclectic shops and beautiful old Portland houses. I’m looking forward to finding a knitted hat or a fridge magnet to bring home. I’m also thrilled my friend Brown is going to be with me most of this day; we’re going to cause a scene laughing too loud — I know already.
  • Cartlandia :: Portland is known for their food scene, in particularly, their food cart scene. I was broke as a joke when I lived in Portland (working full time as a student didn’t leave much money or time to spend) and so I rarely ate out. This trip, I plan to eat at a half-dozen carts in Cartlandia while I’m able to. I plan on eating my way through pupusas, Thai noodles, and even VooDoo Donuts in a single night.

If you were traveling to Portland, what would you be sure to do?

Three Travel Tips for the Anxious

I wouldn’t call myself a “regular” on the flight between Silicon Valley and Portland, Oregon, but I have made the trip so many times that it’s an easy trip for me now.

tinfoilpaperplaneI have three travel tips that seem to help me get through any sort of hustle and bustle in the airport.

  1. check your luggage  – yes, it costs a little more sometimes, but having one less (heavy) bag going through the airport, security, and boarding, is much easier. For me, only having one well-packed carry-on bag (with all the important items*) makes my airplane life easier. (Depending on which carrier you fly, you can even check your smaller bags at the gate (a la carte) for free sometimes!
  2. get to the airport early – it used to be that 45 minutes before your flight you could show up, breeze through check-in (with a human!) and security (with your shoes on!) and board your plane with a hot cup of Starbucks you picked up three minutes before. That is not the case anymore. I’m of the mindset that I want to be at my gate at least an hour before it begins to board. Being early allows you to literally and figuratively catch your breath before you climb into the aluminum tube with wings. I oftentimes listen to a relaxing podcast, or a favorite couple of songs, and I make sure my carry-on has easy access to the important items.*
  3. rearrange your carry-on before you get on the plane – so when you stow your bag under the seat (my legs are short, I can) you can reach the immediate-access items. I make sure that my phone (which probably hasn’t actually left my pocket), my headphones, the chewing gum, and a new magazine are within easy reach without disrupting the person near me. It makes me feel more calm to know I won’t be a “bother” when I’m making myself comfortable.

What else do you do to help yourself while traveling?


*important items :: clean undies, medication, makeup, book, phone + charger, glasses, chewing gum, new magazine

Depths of human history


“What happened, deep in the hidden eras before history began, that could [affect] the entire human race so evenly as to give the entire species a deep, instinctual, and lasting fear of pale beings with dark sunken eyes, razor sharp teeth, and elongated faces?”

This feels like a horror story in the writing.