31 May 2021

Not a Music Monday: A Memory Pivot

Early Poster of the Cast of Friends

So, I somehow forgot that today was Monday. I was behind on my #onepanelvss until late into the afternoon. I kept thinking it was Sunday and wondering why Hubs hadn't called his family yet. I kept forgetting it was Memorial Day because, for us, it is Get Ready for the Deck Guy to come measure and help us plan our deck reno.

So no music today. Instead, this is The One Where Nancy Remembers, also known as I watched the Friends Reunion and laughed and cried...and finally understood why that show was and is such an important part of my life.

Is it problematic? Sure - most shows from that time period are, especially sitcoms like Friends. Could the cast have been more diverse? Of course it could have. Is it a product of its time? Absolutely. And do I love it, even though there are episodes I won't watch for some of the reasons I've just listed? YES.

Friends premiered on NBC in September of 1994. I premiered in my First Adult Job/Internship in June of 1994. I was just a bit younger than the characters in the show, but what they were experiencing was, as one of the creators said in the Reunion show, that time when your friends are your family. I was firmly in that age group at the time.

I had a family. They lived in Georgia and I lived in West Virginia. For a year, I had friends that were far, far away, and I was the loneliest I think I've ever been any time before or since during that year. So I decided to try this show that I'd seen advertised (because TV was my outlet, don't judge me) and at first, I hated it. I hated it for reminding me that all my friends were in Georgia and Tennessee and Ohio and everywhere that I wasn't. But I stuck with it, and soon I could see bits of all my friends in these characters that the six actors brought to life, and as cheesy as it sounds, I didn't feel so alone.

In fact, one of the Friends fans that spoke about the impact the show had on her said that she didn't have family, but these six people became her family. That's what it was for me, and that's why I get teary still at the last episode. I am blogging about it now, because if I try to talk about it, well, could there be louder ugly crying?

So I get that maybe it hits differently if you are watching now, in your late 20s and early 30s, and are trying to make it fit into your life and your world. I know that it is dated and that some of it is more than cringe-worthy. Thankfully, we are more aware now. Our world is so much bigger than it was...wow, this is hard...25 years ago. I don't want to go back to any of that.

But I won't apologize for putting that show on and laughing until I cry at some of the bits or remembering being a scared 22-year-old sitting in an apartment in West Virginia, watching a group of friends and feeling not quite so disconnected from the life I'd known and the life I wanted for myself for a half-hour on Thursdays. I can look back at her, and see that she eventually got her own Central Perk, her own home, and friends that are her family.

24 May 2021

Eurovision 2013: Loreen - Euphoria - Opening Act (1st Semi-Final)


(Here's Loreen with all those Swedish Deaf and Hearing kids, as well as one of the most beautiful opening sequences I've seen for a Eurovision broadcast - it really shows how this contest brings all of Europe together, and I am here for that.)

Music Monday: One more from Eurovision...

Right, so, Eurovision. An epic part of my life, for just over a decade now. An insane amount of talent, bravery, creativity, and camp all shoved into one glitter-filled week and three amazing nights. After the pandemic canceled Eurovision 2020, all of Europe (and Australia, because why not I guess?) turned out this week for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam. The Grand Final was just last night and I'm still reeling - y'all, this is the highlight of my year in a lot of ways. Keep your Superbowl and your Award Season and just give me a bunch of European artists (and, as I mentioned before, Australia because...well, it's Eurovision) each with a song to sing and I am THERE. 

Today's Music Monday is not from this past weekend's contest because most of those haven't been uploaded to YouTube yet AND I was not pleased with the result so I'm still tending to that wound for a bit longer. This song is special because it was the winner in 2012, when Hubs and I watched it on my tablet in our HOT hotel room in France on our belated honeymoon, because when Sweden hosted the following year they had a chorus of Deaf kids signing along, and because...well, just watch it. Euphoria, by Loreen (who was in the Song Along from the Fire Saga movie and gives me goosebumps EVERY TIME I watch as she starts down that staircase). Enjoy.


Euphoria 
by Loreen

Why, why can't this moment last forevermore?
Tonight, tonight eternity's an open door
No, don't ever stop doing the things you do
Don't go, in every breath I take I'm breathing you

Euphoria
Forever, 'till the end of time
From now on, only you and I
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up
Euphoria
An everlasting piece of art
A beating love within my heart
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up

We are here, we're all alone in our own Universe
We are free, where everything's allowed and love comes first
Forever and ever together, we sail into infinity
We're higher and higher and higher, we're reaching for divinity

Euphoria
Forever, 'till the end of time
From now on, only you and I
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up
Euphoria
An everlasting piece of art
A beating love within my heart
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up

Forever we sail into infinity
We're higher, we're reaching for divinity

Euphoria, euphoria
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up
Euphoria
An everlasting piece of art
A beating love within my heart
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up
Euphoria, euphoria
We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up

20 May 2021

Upcoming Appearance: ConCarolinas!

Launching 30 May 2021!
I will be appearing this year at ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC as an author guest. The Con is 4-6 June 2021, and is in person this time!

So last year, ConCarolinas was completely virtual. I did one panel about strong women in history and how they influence our writing. I had a new book out, but nothing really came of it because it was virtual.

This year is a completely different experience. I will be on several panels. I will be in Author's Alley when I'm not on panels, signing copies of all my books including, hopefully, the one there in the picture. Darkness, the first book in the new Guardians of Orana series, releases right before ConCarolinas and I can't wait for folks to read it!

So come see me, grab signed copies of the Nature Walker Trilogy, the Tales of the Forest War, and Rift, and just enjoy the Con! Do note, though, that the Con is requiring attendees to wear masks in all indoor public spaces.

17 May 2021

Music Monday: No Roots

Most of the time, the songs I choose for MM posts are related somehow to my writing. Sometimes they are related to something happening in the world. But some of them speak to me, who I am, where I come from, and the like. This week's song is one of those.

The United Methodist Church has been in the news a lot over the past few years. The other day, I fell into a debate on social media concerning the North Georgia Conference of the UMC. One of the more prominent churches has recently been involved in a rather public tantrum over the minister being unwilling to accept a change in appointment. That is not how the UMC works - if you want to stay in a church forever, there are other Christian denominations. But what drew me out was a comment from a supposed fellow preacher's child who claimed that her upbringing involved being moved around willy nilly as a child with no explanation. If that was her experience then she needs to address that with her parents, not with the conference.

It led me to think about my own childhood - we did move about every four years until I was in high school. I learned early that if you try to hang on to your past it will just hurt. A lot. There were a lot of tears surrounding those moves - tears that served no real purpose. I was thinking about that when I heard this song, and it hit me. I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground. Never.




No Roots - Alice Merton

I like digging holes and hiding things inside them
When I grow old I hope I won't forget to find them
'Cause I've got memories and travel like gypsies in the night
I build a home and wait for someone to tear it down
Then pack it up in boxes, head for the next town running
'Cause I've got memories and travel like gypsies in the night

And a thousand times I've seen this road
A thousand times

I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots

I like standing still, boy, that's just a wishful plan
Ask me where I come from, I'll say a different land
But I've got memories and travel like gypsies in the night
I count gates and numbers, then play the guessing game
It's just the place that changes, the rest is still the same
But I've got memories and travel like gypsies in the night

And a thousand times I've seen this road
A thousand times

I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground

I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots

I like digging holes
Hiding things inside them
When I grow old
I won't forget to find them
I like digging holes
Hiding things inside them
When I grow old
I won't forget to find them

I've got no roots
No roots

I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
I've got no roo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oots
No!

15 May 2021

Notes from Exile: ...Exile?

Swatch...masks.
Well, that proverbial light seems to be shining, faintly, at the end of the pandemic tunnel. First, our governor (though I think that we're playing fast and loose with that word because it usually means someone in charge) decided on his own that the mask mandates were over and went so far as to ban the mandates. Thankfully, most businesses (outside of the school systems here) decided to keep their mask mandates in place, especially for indoor activities.

Well...on Thursday the Center for Disease Control announced that people who have been fully vaccinated - please hear that, FULLY VACCINATED meaning a complete series of vaccine jabs and the two weeks post-vaccination required for the mRNA to do their thing - no longer have to wear masks. I don't know how I feel about that.

Mind you, I don't love wearing a mask. It's one of the reasons I've stayed home and isolated for most of the past 14 or so months. So in that respect, I'm happy. I can be around my friends that are also vaccinated and not worry.  The big events, such as ConCarolinas in June, are still requiring masks for indoor spaces. I will probably still wear one when I go places like Costco and Trader Joe's because I don't know everyone there.

But what worries me most is that this relaxing of rules will lead to another spike. There are still too many folks that have not been vaccinated - some of them for ridiculous reasons and some for very legit reasons. Other countries are relaxing lockdowns but not mask regulations, and I think that might be the way to go.

For now, though, get your jab if you haven't yet. Wear a mask until you do and you are two weeks out from finishing that requirement. Wash your hands. Take care of each other. There's no room for selfishness anymore - we've seen what selfish can do, for the last 14 months, and I don't know about you but I'm over it. Completely.

10 May 2021

Music Monday: Road Trip Mix Tape

I heard this song in the car recently, and I was immediately transported back to many happy road trips during my uni days. Summer isn't really what it was back then - and not just because of the pandemic or the fact that I'm not in my early twenties or working at a summer camp. So it was nice, for a few minutes in the car, to sing along with this classic and pretend I was still 21, still naive, and still looking at that side of middle age.

Also, from now until we have to start being SERIOUS ADULTS AGAIN because it is AUTUMN and we are looking for CARDIGANS, Music Monday is going to take a hiatus in favor of Road Trip Mix Tape. Don't know what a mix tape is? Oh, my sweet summer child...it was a playlist, but because I'm old, we're going to go full-on nostalgia and call it a Mix Tape. Enjoy.




Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills, and Nash

Got out of town on a boat goin' to Southern Islands
Sailing a reach before a followin' sea
She was makin' for the trades on the outside
And the downhill run to Papeete
Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas
We got eighty feet of the waterline nicely making way
In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you
But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away

Think about
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin'
What Heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten
Around the world (I have been around the world)
Lookin' (lookin' for that woman girl)
Who knows she knows (who knows love can endure)
And you know it will

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day
So I'm sailing for tomorrow my dreams are a-dyin'
And my love is an anchor tied to you (tied with a silver chain)
I have my ship and all her flags are a-flyin'
She is all that I have left and music is her name

Think about
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin'
What Heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten
I have been around the world (I have been around the world)
Lookin' (lookin' for that woman girl)
(Who knows love can endure)
And you know it will
And you know it will

So we cheated and we lied and we tested
And we never failed to fail it was the easiest thing to do
You will survive being bested
Somebody fine will come along make me forget about loving you
And the southern cross

04 May 2021

Notes From Exile: There was no circle, nor were there dots...

Quite possibly the worst pic of me, ever.
Well, I've done the thing. Two of the things, to be exact. That picture there is what I look like when I'm so scared that even my hair is trying to run away.

I have mentioned before my fear of needles - and to be honest it is also a fear of injections, my partner and I have figured out. With the first shot, I was more freaked out by the feeling of the vaccine actually going into my arm than the pinch of the needle.

I was NOT freaked out to get the vaccine because I am against vaccines. Not even a little bit. I don't understand the arguments against it that include fears of microchips in the syringe so that the government can track us - y'all, if you have a mobile phone, you're being tracked. I am not an anti-vaxxer. I'm just a big old chicken.

I want to share my experience because I have spent a lot of time looking up after-effects of House Moderna - none of them ended up being the undeniable urge to belt out Dolly Parton songs. I also want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated if you can, whatever vaccine is available to you. I know that I blogged before about waiting for the Janssen just because I wanted to do a one-shot rather than two, but my DayJob worked with a local pharmacy to offer the Moderna and help us get appointments, so I put on my big girl pants and went.

Since then I have had "Covid Arm" or welts that itched and were hot on my arm near the injection site, my arm is still sore, and I've had a few visual migraines. That's all. No debilitating symptoms like friends have had. And now, in just over a week's time, I will be fully vaccinated and able to breathe a little easier. 

It was much different than the cootie shot I mentioned in the title, but the cooties are different now. Get vaccinated if you can. We are all in this together, and we all need to do our part. And if you figure out how to trigger a mini-concert of Jolene at top volume, I'm ready.

03 May 2021

Music Monday: New Month, New Music

 It's May, y'all, and that can only mean one thing... THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. To get in the proper mood, I watched the Eurovision Movie: the Story of Fire Saga and fell in love all over again. But the best part of my Europrep has come in the form of the soundtrack from that movie which includes this gloriousness: the Song Along. I was slapping the back of the sofa and shouting at the dogs, "Do you see that?? That was Loreena! LOOK IT'S JESSY MATADOR IS THAT JAMALA WITH THE LYRIC ABOUT WINNING THE WAR?" 

As you may have guessed, the dogs didn't answer nor care. But I do. Quick history: when I moved to the UK in 2009 I took my three greyhounds and my cat. One of my dogs died shortly after I got there, of osteosarcoma. The second one, her bonded pal and soulmate, left me, Daisy (greyhound number three) and the cat to mourn and cause my husband to wonder what he'd gotten into with his new American wife. He finally suggested that I should watch Eurovision because he thought it would cheer me up.

He was right. Eurovision is happy memories of doing a TIGHT 8 TO 10 on the train platform in Leeds. It is dancing with my workmates in the bookshop. It is searching for the BBC1 feed on the tiny telly in our hotel in Maison Lafitte on our belated honeymoon. I have missed watching it live since we've been back in the US and I'm again on the trail of a way to watch BBC1 with Graham Norton's commentary on the 22nd.

For now, enjoy the Song Along from the Eurovision Movie. It's everything that is fun and mad and glam about Eurovision, and it makes me smile (and get up and dance, but don't tell anyone).

Song Along Lyrics, including the performers in each section.

[Song 1: Cher – "Believe"]

[John Lundvik, Anna Obodescu, Both]

No matter how hard I try

You keep pushing me aside

And I can't break through

There's no talking to you

[Bilal Hassani]

It's so sad that you're leaving

It takes time to believe it

[Bilal Hassani & John Lundvik]

But after all is said and done

[Bilal Hassani, John Lundvik & Anna Odobescu]

You're gonna be the lonely one, oh

[Loreen & Jessy Matador]

Do you believe in life after love? (Sing with me, yeah)

I can feel something inside me say

I really don't think you're strong enough, no

[Song 2: Madonna – "Ray Of Light"]

[Loreen]

And I feel (And I feel) like I just got home

And I feel

[Loreen, Jessy Matador & Anna Odobescu]

Don't think you're strong enough, no

[Petra Nielsen, Anna Odobescu, Loreen & Jessy Matador]

And I feel (And I feel) like I just got home

[Petra Nielsen, Anna Odobescu, Loreen, Jessy Matador, Will Ferrell & John Lundvik]

And I feel

Quicker than a ray of light

Quicker than a ray of light

I really don't think you're strong enough, no

[Song 3: ABBA – "Waterloo"]

[Jamala]

Waterloo, I was defeated, you won the war

[Erik Mjönes]

My, my - at Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender

[Molly Sandén]

Oh, yeah - and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way

[Erik Mjönes & Molly Sandén]

The history book on the shelf

Is always repeating itself, woah

[Anna Odobescu, Loreen, Molly Sandén, Petra Nielsen, Jamala & Jessy Matador, Will Ferrell]

Waterloo, I was defeated and you won the war (You won the war)

Waterloo, promise to love you forevermore

[Song 4: Céline Dion – "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi"]

[Elina Nechayeva & Conchita Wurst]

Ne partez pas sans moi

La joie d'être libre

Vous qui cherchez une autre vie

Vous qui volez vers l'an deux mille

Ne partez pas sans moi

[Song 5: Black Eyed Peas – "I Gotta Feeling"]

[Netta, Will Ferrell, Molly Sandén, Erik Mjönes]

Tonight's gonna be a good night

That tonight's gonna be a good night

That tonight's gonna be a good night

A feelin' (Fill up my cup, mazel tov)

(Do you believe in life after love)

That tonight's gonna be a good night (Look at her dancing)

(Quicker than a ray of light)

(Just take it off)

[Netta, Loreen, Molly Sandén, Erik Mjönes]

That tonight's gonna be a good night (I can feel something inside me say)

That tonight's gonna be a good night (I really don't think you're strong enough, no)

A feelin' (Quicker than a ray of light)

That tonight's gonna be a good, good night (Do you believe in life after love?)

[Will Ferrell, All]

A good, good night



Music Monday: Right Now