Monday, January 23, 2006

My Year in Music, 2005: Part 4

I'm back from Thailand! The wedding was beautiful, the whole trip was aMAZing, so perfect, so much fun. Grace and Steve should get married every year in a different place. I'll write more about it later, but woke up a bit early this morning (hope it's not jet lag) and thought I'd try to finish this up. Didn't have time to do this before I left, obviously. I got home around midnight last night--was supposed to get back earlier, but had a few travel snags. Ending up stopping over in Taipei and Anchorage. Door to door, from hotel in Bangkok to my apartment, the trip took 30.5 hours. I don't know if Suzie made it back yet...we got separated in Bangkok, they put me on a flight to Taipei that was full, she hadn't gotten her new flight yet.

It's good to be back, the trip was a perfect length for me, but yeah, part of me still wishes I was swimming in the waters of Kata Beach at sunset again. Especially since it's cold and rainy in NYC.

17. Peter Gabriel - Here Comes the Flood
Geez, I thought I'd just whip through the last three songs, but this one is kinda heavy. I'm not going to go into too much detail, doesn't feel right to right now, but maybe I'll write more later. Basically, this song is appropriate thematically for last year: news-wise, I think Katrina dominated. This is also the song that was playing on my iPod the day I found out that my friend and former mentor/coworker Steve died. I found out that morning via all-employee email. Apparently he had been self-medicating a disease he had with alcohol, went on a last bender, and was found a few days earlier in a gutter in Boston with his organs failing. Steve was a dear friend, the guy in the office who knows everyone, likes everyone, and everyone likes. He was my first mentor at work, and was also my softball coach. He had an adorable son who he was crazy about, now 6 years old. It's tragic that alcoholism took this man's life, takes so many people's lives.

This song played that night after work as I was sitting on a bench outside of the Time and Life building after work, waiting for a friend to come meet me. I was feeling sad, and then this song came on and seemed to match my mood. I love how music does that.

18. The Shins - New Slang
I wanted to put a Yacht-rock song on here to represent the time I spent over at the 37th Street loft this year, but gee, don't own any true yacht rock, so I thought this song would do. This played on the speakers at the loft of few times. This one time it played, and as I often do, I pretended to know the words in order to sing along, but Jared actually does know all the words to this song. So this song reminds me of slow dancing drunk with Jared at the loft with him singing something about gulls taking to the wind.

This song also reminds me of my road trip with a fellow children's book editor Nancy up to the Poconos for a writer's conference. We rented a car, brought music, talked the whole way. I brought the Garden State soundtrack. It was a fabulous time.

19. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I already blogged about this song here:

Okay, whew, year-end wrap-up is finally done. Let me know if you want a CD. And as I've said, there are many more memories than this. All my traveling, all my friends who got married this year (I still owe most of you'll get them soon, I promise!), crazy adventures with old and new friends, family reunions, visits from friends and family. I hope this year is as fulfilling, eye-opening, and fun as last year--if the Thailand trip is any indication (man oh man), it promises to be. For those of you still out there traveling, have fun and be safe.


I'm thinking about switching over to Blogger from friendster. To be continued...

Here's my friendster blog, where it all started...

my friendster blog

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Year in Music, 2005: Part 3

Okay, trying to get this done before I leave! Time is running out...

11. Kenny Loggins - I'm Free
I played this CD towards the end of my birthday party. Rose had to go to bed on the early side, and remembers getting up to go to the bathroom around 2 or 3 am and hearing this song playing and seeing everyone dancing and thinking that it was such a fun song to dance to and if only she could be out there. Now, every time I hear this song, in addition to remembering the huge crush I had on Kevin Bacon when I was a kid, I also think about dancing on our terrace on my birthday. Fitting, because I first saw FOOTLOOSE at one of my birthday parties when I was a kid.

12. Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine
Was out with Julie and two of her friends in the East Village sometime this summer. For once, I had no plans to hang out with the Randoms that night, but ended up getting a call from James who was with Miguel and Lee, and they were heading to the East Village/Lower East Side. We decided to all meet up at this bar called Stolen Transmission on the LES that one of Julie's friends recommended. Eveline and Mat met us there, too. There was a small dance floor in the back, and I remember I hadn't gone dancing in a long time. They played great, fun 80s music, including this song, and I remember feeling so damn happy and alive dancing to this song. Lee would lift me up periodically and throw me up in the air and I remember thinking, "life is good, life is fun." That night was also the night of the incident I consider to be a top 3 example of the Randomness that is the Randoms. After leaving Stolen Transmission, we wanted to get something to eat. We got separated on the way, and James, Eveline, and Mat got way ahead of Lee, Miguel, and me. We were walking down a street and all of a sudden I hear Lee and Miguel exclaiming, "Hey, is that a huge pizza? It's a huge pizza!" and then, "let's ram it!" and before I know what's happening, Lee and Miguel have picked me up battle ram style and started running me head first towards this group of guys walking towards us carrying a huge Styrofoam pizza cutout. The guys see us coming and laugh and prepare, I hit the pizza head first, and we all collapse on the ground laughing.

13. Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
This song was on my skydiving DVD, so whenever I hear it, I remember how it felt to jump out of a plane. I've already blogged about this here:

14. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
This song was stuck in my head during my whole trip to San Francisco for Roy and Denise's wedding. As I waited for my cousin Jeanne to pick me up at the airport, I wrote down all of the lyrics in my journal. Generally, this song got stuck in my head whenever I rode a plane, which was quite a bit this year. (San Diego, Montreal, Canadian Rocky Mountains, London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles).

15. Mirah - Monument
When I first got my iPod, I hadn't yet uploaded my CD collection on my computer, but Chris Ott had given me an mp3 CD a while ago with albums that he thought I'd like, and there were a bunch of Mirah songs on it, so therefore they were uploaded onto my iPod. I love her voice, and her songs remind me of my walk to work through Central Park. This one was one of my favorites.

16. Innocence Mission - Keeping Awake
This is another song that reminds me of college, and it was also one that I had on my computer at the beginning and made its way to my iPod. I had several periods of insomnia this year.
Okay, I'll tackle the last three songs tomorrow or Tuesday. Time to start packing!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Year in Music, 2005: Part 2

My Year in Music continued. These are shorter descriptions, so I whipped off a bunch:

3. Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone
American Idol has been my guilty pleasure. However, I've never had any interest in buying/listening to the winner's actual album, until I started hearing Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway constantly on my Yahoo Radio, and it just got stuck in my head, and finally I broke down when the album was the featured selection on BMG. It was my first new music purchase in a while, and I remember listening to the album over and over in my early days of living in my new apartment. Lots of breakup themes in the songs, too, which was fitting.

4. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds
I just really like this song--my favorite Elvis song. I have major trust issues--I think I always have (mainly, I don't trust myself, which makes it hard to trust someone I'm in a relationship with), but it's worse now, so that fits the theme of this year, too. And it reminds me of Halloween because one of Ruben's friend came dressed as Elvis and I asked him to sing this song.

5. Alanis Morissette - You Learn
I was friendstered by someone who works for the New York Post about possibly appearing on their dating website, where they'd profile me and have me choose from three guys, and then they'd pay for me to go out on a date with them. At the time I wasn't seeing anyone and thought, eh, why not, free meal, and so she sent me the application. One of the questions was, "What is your theme song?" so I thought about it for a few days, and then came up with this one, because I felt it was most fitting with my philosophy on life, that everything, no matter how bad, is a learning experience that makes you stronger. Then I started dating someone and decided I didn't want to be in the Post. Oh well. Coulda been.

6. The Trash Can Sinatras - Funny
I tried for a month or so (technically signed up for two months because I didn't cancel in time, but didn't really do anything in month 2), but honestly wasn't ready to date yet. Anyway, as my "headline" I used a line from this song, "She's a funny kind of girl" because I couldn't think of anything else to use. And I think I'm kinda funny. Both funny ha-ha and funny strange. And I love this song--it reminds me of college.

7. Morrissey - I Like You
Another new music purchase that for a time was the only album I had at work, so I was listening to it over and over. When I started dating again, and decided that I liked someone, the chorus would stick in my head, but at the time forgot where it was from. Finally figured it out.

8. The Cure - In Between Days
This was a late addition, just because I thought a mix-CD from me wasn't complete without the Cure. The lyrics don't really match anything specific, but the sentiment does. In a way, I saw this year as my in between time. Where I was recovering from something, not quite ready to really live the life I wanted to live. Then again, I think I did more actual living this year than I have in a while, which is why it was such a great year. I was reborn!

9. Genesis - Follow You, Follow Me
The first night I went over the Taxiguy's place (the guy who I met by sharing a taxi with, then dated for about two months), he played me this song and said that he loved it and if he ever got married this would play at his wedding. I had loved Genesis as a kid, but this reminded me of their existence, and I found the song incredibly romantic. And even though I didn't see a future with him, it made me hope that someday I'd find someone to share the feeling of this song with.

10. Lou Reed - Perfect Day
This is a song I'd sing when I was happy, after doing something fun and exhilarating and perfect, and I found that many times this year I'd be singing it while out with my new group of friends that Eveline and I dubbed the Randoms. Charlie and I would always sing it while walking down the street going from one bar/party to another. So Randoms, this one's for you! You know who you are.  :)
Still more to come! Stay tuned.

I have a busy weekend ahead, lots of plans, lots of friends visiting from out of town, trying to pack and prepare for my Thailand trip for Grace and Steve's wedding. Need to buy shoes. Am leaving on Wednesday the 11th, back on the 22nd. Egads!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Year in Music: Part 1

I've been meaning to do a year-end wrap-up, but things have been hectic and the idea was a bit daunting--so much has happened this year that I'm afraid I won't do it justice. Despite everything (or, I should say, because of everything), I really think this has been one of the best years of my life.

I gave some friends and family a CD mix I dubbed "My year in music, 2005" so I thought a nice way to sum up the year was to tell the story of each song and why I picked it. Of course, I have many more memories of the year, but this will have to do.

I have 19 songs on the CD, so I'll do it in parts, two or three songs at a time depending on how long each story is. Here are the first two songs:

1. Elton John - Tiny Dancer
Okay, many of you probably know why I picked this song, but here's the story, slightly abridged. (ha) You probably have all heard that a line from the chorus of the song, "Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer" is often mis-sung as "Hold me closer, Tony Danza." Well, this song reminds me of the night I met Tony Danza.

It was a Saturday in March--the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Alison and I decided to explore new places in our 'hood, the Upper East Side. We started the night at a place called Etats Unis, had wine and guacamole there, then went onto this really fun piano bar called Brandy's for another drink. Finally, we had enough liquid courage to check out Elaine's. Elaine's is near my old apartment, and both of us had been past it hundreds of times, but have never been in. I had heard it was a kind of old NYC establishment where celebrities, literati, and VIPs like to go, and I've been pretty intimidated by it, but we decide to go and see what it's all about. It's not too crowded, we order drinks at the bar and I'm looking around and notice Mr. Big (Chris Noth--from Sex and the City) sitting at a table with a bunch of people. I say to Alison quietly, "Mr Big is here" and she looks casually over and says, "why, yes he is." We decide to try to sit down and there's an empty table next to where Big is sitting, so we just sit down there. We're minding our own business, and then I notice that Tony Danza is also sitting at Big's table! Cool. We keep minding our business, and I notice him flitting from table to table greeting people. At one point, Tony Danza stands up and turns around, and if seeing us for the first time says, "Ladies! What are you doing here?" and introduces himself ("Hi, I'm Tony.") and asks if he can join us, gesturing to an empty chair next to me. He sits down and we basically hang out with Tony Danza all night. He was so funny and down-to-earth. He asks us what we do, so then I of course ask him if he's ever thought about writing a children's book and he says no (he said he read an article about celebrity books and it isn't his thing), and then we talk about his show and I ask if he would have any of our authors on the show and tell him about some of our books, and he gets excited about Gossip Girl because he wants to improve his ratings with teen girls. So I give him my card and tell him to contact me if he's really interested, of course not really thinking he'd call. Anyway, it's a really fun night and I feel like I learned his life story. Oh, and I actually sing "Hold me closer, Tony Danza" to his face, because the song is stuck in my head.

And then he calls me at work the following Monday! My assistant Rebekah picks up and intercoms me. "Uh, Tony Danza is on the line."
"Shut up!" I thought she was playing a joke on me.
"No, I'm serious." So I pick up.
"This is Alvina."
"Ling! It's Tony Danza!"
"Shut up!"

That was really how it went. Do you know how impossible it is to not smile and laugh while talking to Tony Danza?! Anyway, we end up sending over a box of books, but nothing really comes of it. But to this day I feel that that night was my ultimate NY experience. Oh, and he introduced us to Chris Noth, although he never came over to talk to us. But I got to shake his hand. Hot.

This song also reminds me of Brandy's, because I went back there one night with Mary and Jamie, who had heard the story, and the piano man starts playing this song and we all (including the piano man) sing it as "Hold me closer, Tony Danza!"

2. Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams
One of the first weekends living at my new apartment, Tracy comes over to hang out, and we go to two bars on my block (this weekend was before the Tony Danza weekend). The first place is a fancy martini bar called Stir where we can only afford one drink, and then go on to the Banshee, the bar my roommates had all told me was their neighborhood bar. Tracy and I sit in a booth by the window. Then I notice too men embracing very passionately (not in a sexual way, though) behind us, and we start to wonder what the story behind the hug was. Eventually one of the guys who had been hugging comes over to talk to us, and he's this hilarious character with spiked blond hair (that I think is dyed) who talks a bit like a surfer dude but is from DC. He kept saying "Inappropriate" in this surfer dude voice. I can still hear it in my head today. Anyway, we ask him why he was hugging the guy, and he said something about how the guy is an ex-girlfriend's fiance or husband or something. Anyway, the guy is really fun and entertaining, and some of his other friends come over, all visiting from DC, including this very gloomy Asian guy. We talk to him about why he's so depressed and he says something about how he works for the CIA or the government and he's seen horrible things, and then all of a sudden the Green Day song comes on and he starts singing animatedly and doing air guitar, which is so unexpected and hilarious. Anyway, Tracy and I eventually leave to get something to eat. I remember getting Belgium waffles topped with vanilla ice cream and a side of bacon. I dip my bacon in the ice cream. Yum.

This song also remind me of my London trip with Lisa: I sang it at Karaoke for Sara's Hen Party. Such a great time!

Okay, that's all for now! To be continued.

Oh, and if didn't get the CD and want it, just let me know. But maybe wait until you see what else is on it...