The older I get, the more I realize I have no idea what I am talking about. Waiiiiiit, what?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 20 in the life and ears of Jenalawz

Because I have been listening to and reading all the Best of lists for 2014, and because whenever I listen to “All Songs Considered” and other pop culture commentary type podcasts and think I might have missed my calling…as a commenter of pop culture, what's comin' your way tonight is my Top 20 songs for 2014. 

I know, I know a) this is exciting news and b) 20 seems like a lot, usually these are top 10. BUT, not all of these songs came out this year. These are the Top 20 songs in the life of Jenny 2014, because is it really about how “good” the song is? Or is it really how “good” the song makes us feel? As a working parent in the daily grind, my hour and ten minutes in the car to and from work each day is when i get to really sit and listen, so if a song can make me forget that I have been sitting the car for 45 minutes with 30 more minutes to go in traffic, that’s a win in my book. 

That being said, ladies and gentlemen Jenalawz (look me up on spotify) Top 20 (not in any order) songs for 2014:

Rather Be feat. Jess Glynne - Clean Bandit - Won’t ever get sick of this one. Makes me think of my family and my kids.  I listened to the rest of the Clean Bandit album and nothing even close to as catchy as this song. I like Jess Glynne’s voice so much, I hope she does more than just rule on other people’s songs. 

Problem - Ariana Grande - The sax thing kills me. Couldn’t get it out of my head for at least a month, and i still crank it way up in da cah. I loved her first album, she definitely can sing, definitely went to the Mariah School of Melisma, but I love it.

Right Now - Mary J Blige - You know, ‘cause, Mary. She’s a boss. This song is great. 

Dangerous (feat. Joywave) - Some spotify playlist introduced me to this song on the way to work one day in the spring and within the first 30 seconds I was driving way too fast and bobbing my head like a doofus.

Always Alright - Alabama Shakes - I was so far behind the curve in seeing “Silver Linings Playbook”, which I loved from start to finish…actually even past the finish when this song kicks in during the credits. I love their first album and cannot wait for the second, whenever that is. 

Uptown Funk - Bruno Mars/ Mark Ronson - Have never disliked anything Mark Ronson has done, and I can’t figure out why this song isn’t on the radio every 10 minutes, because it is so awesome. My kids love it, and if toddler music taste isn’t an indicator of a hit, I don’t know what is people!

Dangerous - Jennifer Hudson - A song I listen to on the way to work when I know the day has a high likelihood of sucking/being stressful. Also makes me want to drive fast and put on the dance face…sometimes at the same time.

Sea Legs - The Shins - I am literally a decade behind on The Shins. I work in a small office, with a very open concept, which most of the time However, the one good thing that sometimes happens is that somebody is playing music that I have not heard/never gave a good listen to. One day this past spring, one of my co-workers was playing “Australia” and I got sucked into listening to “Wincing the Night Away”. “Sea Legs” became my hands down favorite, I must have listened to that million times this summer. Love it.

Love Never Felt So Good - Michael Jackson - Usually the unreleased stuff was not released for a reason. This song however, makes me think of my favorite 1980’s Michael Jackson songs. There is a version with Justin Timberlake, the full original demo, and then like a stripped down vocals + piano + finger snaps demo version. All awesome.

Ring Off - Beyonce - Bow down people. I am one of those people that was psyched about her surprise album, and the deluxe version has this gem on it. About her parent’s divorce, or really more about/tribute to her Mom and the way she dealt with it. 

White Winter Hymnal - Pentatonix - First time I listened to their new Christmas album, I got stuck on this one. Over and over, and its not a long song. I thought it was a traditional carol that I had never heard before (which would be kind of crazy, because my family is a bunch of nuts/experts about all things Christmas carol). Turns out it is a Fleet Foxes song, so that then turned me onto the Fleet Foxes.

White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes - See above. Just very different then most things I listen to, and I now love this album because of the Pentatonix version. 

Hunter - Pharrell - This entire album is awesome, but there is something about this song. Its kind of like “Hey Ya”, not everyone can pull something like this off” “Duck Dynasty’s cool and all/but they ain’t got nothin’ on the female call/I’m a hunter”. Trust me.

Callin Out Lyrics Born feat. Joyo Valerda - I think it was a spotify playlist that introduced me to this one, but the bass line alone is enough to listen to the whole thing…and then “People are you reaadyyy/let’s start the show”. (Reminds me a little of the bass line from “For the Love of Money”.)

Know Who You are - Pharrell, Alicia Keys - The bass line on this song, and its 2 artists I love. I sang really loud to this one back and forth to work each day. 

Inside Out - Spoon - I made a playlist of this album in June…then never listened to it. That’s one problem with Spotify, sometimes its an embarrassment of riches and you get hung up on which of your 500 new albums/playlists to listen to. All Songs Considered had it on their top 10, so i listened to it and loved this song especially. I listen so passively these days, just because I don’t have a lot of time to sit and listen, but today I listened to this with headphones and it was totally worth it. 

Water - The Roots - I read QuestLove’s book on a work trip this summer and came back with a list of things to listen to. All the Roots albums were on the list and this became one of my instant favorites. Live drums on hip hop should be the rule. 

Fancy - Iggy Azalea - First thing’s first, this song can turn a middle aged mother into a rap star for 2 minutes in the car each morning. What’s better than that?

You Don’t Know What to Do - Mariah featuring Wale - Of course Mariah was going to make the list! When I saw her perform it on the Today show early in the summer I thought it would catch on the radio. It definitely did not, but still a great dance song.

Sugah Daddy - D’Angelo - Ok, I’m on my third glass of champagne, so my ability to describe why i love this song is diminishing. It has horns, piano, handclaps, and D’Angelo’s cool voice. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The things I will "never forget"

Every year on 9/11, I see the following posted in lots of places "9-11, never forget". It strikes me as such an obvious statement, I mean, who can forget that day? But then I had a thought today that everybody had a different experience that day, different things burned into their minds about what happened. 

Every year on 9/11, I reflect on it, as probably everyone does, and then I wonder what is the healthiest way to do it. I always end up watching that documentary made by the french filmmakers that were following NYFD probies for a documentary about becoming a firefighter, but ended up instead making a documentary about 9/11 as it unfolded. I always look through the pics from that day, of the moment after the first plane hit, of the moment before the second plane hit, of the buildings burning, of people jumping out of the buildings, the buildings collapsing, and I never realize the trauma I am inflicting on myself until after I do that. But it feels wrong not to do that, as so many people lost their lives that day, and their loved ones have to relive this pain, it feels like a duty to also relive whatever you experienced that day so that they are not alone in it. Does that make sense? 

I also always remember, in the weeks after, seeing firefighters and rescue workers riding the subway to and from Ground Zero, they would be covered in dust and debris and I would just wonder what on earth they had seen and how they were dealing with it. I think we, as humans, just keep marching forward, but inevitably that stuff catches up to you and I wonder now how many of the first responders and people who worked at Ground Zero are suffering the effects of what they saw and experienced. 

After maybe the 3rd day after 9/11, the place I was working at re-opened and it seemed that for the most part, the city was trying to function, in spite of everything. But there was this heartbroken feeling among the $#@!-you-NYC resilience. On the news every night, they would talk to people who were missing a loved one who worked in one of the towers, they would have a picture of the person and ask if anyone had seen them to contact them. That went on for weeks, most people hoping that their loved one ended up in one of the many hospitals, injured maybe, but still alive. And then there were posters everywhere of those missing people, hundreds of them, all with the same heartbreaking hope clinging to it - that these people had not actually perished, because it was going to take a while to get actual proof from the massive recovery effort. 

I also remember seeing an American flag on absolutely anything you could attach one too. Hanging out of taxi cab windows, off of fire escapes, in windows, on peoples backpacks. That was cool. Solidarity was uplifting.

Not as uplifting were the stories of people who looked like they might be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent, being harassed. I remember the delivery man from the Indian restaurant that used to deliver to my workplace looking terrified to be out and about in the weeks after 9/11. All he said was that "people are acting crazy", but it was such a bummer to realize what types of things people might be saying to him.

Those are the things I will never forget. Then I think “humans did this to other humans”. That’s probably the saddest thing, but nothing new under the sun. And that is the part we will never ever completely understand.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Multi-tasking: A Misnomer

Not even sure if I used the punctuation in the title correctly, oh well. It's because I was multi-tasking. And aren't we all doing that all the time. There are probably so many blog posts about multi-tasking, how to do it better, why you shouldn't do it, how smartphones are re-wiring the brain from all the multi-tasking and on and on and on.

We have started the process of trying to buy a house. This is exciting, and anxiety inducing and I have never felt more like i wanted to yell at the top of my lungs everyday (out of frustration) than I do right now. This process, of looking at houses, making offers, mortgage, etc, has been going on for just about a month now. I can't wait for it to be over (and we are working with great people BTW, its just the process in general). Working full time, having a family and going through this process is beyond my brain and self to handle. Part of me thinks "you have never handled stress well, calm down, people do this all the time" and the other thinks "%$#@!!!!...#$%!", at the same time no less.

I have been listening to "The Neuroscience of Change" by Kelly McGonigal the last couple of weeks.  This is a great book about mindfulness and what the wisdom traditions say about meditation etc along with what scientific research has proven about it. It is fascinating. I am trying to incorporate what I am learning into everyday life. There are days when I am so mad at myself for letting myself get so stressed out...and then I realize that is part of the stress.

Part of the stress is also that I am a bad multi-tasker AND I am terrible at telling people no, which puts me in situations very frequently where I am putting aside the thing I really need to be doing, to do something else for someone real quick. Its a productivity and concentration killer to operate like that, and I need to

That's all I got right now. Last time I wrote, I was about to have our second child. I guess these days, I write in this thing when major life events are developing. Here's to hoping this house thing works out.

Cheers people!