Monday, September 26, 2011

If I Die Young

OK, This song, "If I Die Young," was playing on every freaking radio station last month when I was driving alone around western Massachusetts for three weeks. At first I thought it was insanely hokey and awful and ridiculously over the top melodramatic teenage goofiness that someone thought would sell, and put production behind and made into this hit song that mothers and teenagers would all grab onto and connect with and cry over.

I pictured teenage girls all over America learning the easy chord progression and singing it on their guitars all dramatically alone in their bedrooms twenty times in a row. Which they are most definitely doing. Just YouTube it.

But the thing was, I couldn't change the station. I kept coming across that same damn song, and finding myself singing alone. It was catchy. It was a ridiculously catchy song about a dying - or dead - teenage girl. It was "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "Teen Angel" and Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

I finally had to give in. I liked it. I liked the singer's sweet, good voice, the guys' harmonies, the simple arrangement with folksy guitar/mandolin/accordion/base/drums, a little banjo, a little fiddle. Wait, this was really beautiful. OK. It's a freaking beautiful song.

I thought it was Taylor Swift or someone like that, but I just remembered it tonight, since I haven't heard it since I got back to L.A., and looked it up. It's a band called "The Band Perry," and it's a cute blond girl and her two younger brothers - the Perrys, from Alabama. They're adorable.

Just look how adorable they are:

Adorable in the Studio
Adorable Live in Oregon
Adorable Making This Music Video
I had to play it for Michael when I realized he hadn't been subjected to the constant inundation of  "If I Die Young," like I had - at first acknowledging how ridiculously over the top sappy I knew it was, knowing that he would hate it, but he liked it right away, which totally surprised me - but the musicianship is good! The voices are good. The song is good.

Suspend your cynicism and your coolness, and just try not to get all sentimental about your life, or someone you loved whose passed away - a friend, a relative, a dog... This song will be played at a million funerals with those 'celebrate their lives' slide shows. And now I'm feeling sad about all those dead teenage girls and young women that will be commemorated with this song. And old women, and grandpas and brothers and dads and cats and guinea pigs and soldiers and this death song is going to make this little family band a fortune! And that's OK because it's a good song and because they're good artists.

Go on... Play the video:

But please... the lyrics.. Srsly?

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn 
Send me away with the words of a love song
Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors
Life ain't always what you think it ought to be
Ain't even grey, but she buries her baby

The sharp knife of a short life
I've had just enough time...

Oh, and it goes on!

They just got five Country Music Association (CMA) award nominations, and more power to 'em. Good job. Youngin's. Their parents must be so proud.

And they're cool. Look what they just posted to Twitter. LOL.

Wish I just saw Pearl Jam last night. And that I had that leather jacket... Oh hell, OK, and that I could sing like that and had 5 CMA nominations and a hit song and was twenty something  years old... In fact, I'm going to start practicing guitar again now. I haven't played in a long time, since my Kobe Bryant finger injury last year, and I've barely played my ukulele Michael got me for Christmas two years ago.

AHA! Note for my next life: Instead of sitting alone in my room playing my guitar as a teenager, try to write more songs, take more guitar lessons, don't let my brother sell the piano, get a mandolin... Be more patient. Practice more. Give it more time. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bomb Squads and Heroes

Hi. I was planning to write about Jamaica tonight, but then some crazy stuff happened today... And let me start by saying, I do realize that this post is pretty long. I started writing about today and this is what came out. I didn't even include some other cool stuff I want to save for another post. What I'm saying is that constructive criticism is welcome here. If this is just way to freaking long, please tell me. If so, what should I have left out? The whole eye doctor thing? What?

I really want to know what you think because I want you to come back!

So... today... my boyfriend, Michael, and I took my mom to the eye doctor because she's had something going on where she's felt like she's had an eyelash in her eye for weeks. Michael and I were sitting on the step outside because the waiting room was full.

There were group of people across the street - maybe forty of them - all dressed in black, standing on the sidewalk. Were they with a funeral or something? In the Ross Dress for Less parking lot? Hmm.

Dr. Harry Hovanesian, who is way cuter in person, fyi.
I went in and talked with Mom and her doctor, who I love btw. If you need an ophthalmologist in L.A., Harry Hovanesian at Specialty Eye Care is great.

The other doctor in his practice wasn't in today, and he was covering both of their appointments, and they were both booked solid - and he had a surgery emergency. He was worked, but he was totally nice, very thorough, and ultimately found that Mom's only real issue right now is that her eyes are super dry. He gave her some eye drop samples to take four times a day, and sent us on our way. I have to admit the banner on their website is a little odd, though.
Specialty Eye Care Medical Center's website banner.
I hope those aren't the doctors' eyes. Or the patients'...
Meanwhile back outside, the people in black have taken over our side of the street, and are all huddled beneath trees in the medical building parking lot like chickens under a shady bush (which I now know all about, since my farm-sitting vacation last month in the Berkshires). (Chickens hanging out under bushes for shade, that is.) Oh, and it was hot, thus the need for the shady trees.
Sherman Oaks Fashion Square Mall is where the tall tree on the left is, Mom's Eye Center is on the right. We were sitting on a step by the car on the right. Evacuees were under all the trees and anywhere there was shade. (GoogleMaps pic)
I asked one of the - I don't know - humongous group of mourners? What was happening? They said they'd been evacuated from the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square mall across the street because of a bomb threat. I had to ask why they were all wearing black. Was it a religious thing? It wasn't the Scientology 'black pants/white shirt' uniform. Something for a movie or television show?
Crappy iPhone pic of evacuees huddled under trees.
They all worked at Macy's. Black is their uniform. Anything black. Then they laughed and pointed at me. I was wearing black yoga pants and a black t-shirt. I fit right in with the evacuated Macy's employees. I looked just like one of them. I could have been herded into some bomb scare evacuation Macy's round-up for questioning as a terrorist suspect! I figured I'd better get the hell out of there. We got in the car and pulled away from the men and women in black.

It was weird. They were in every bit of shade on both sides of the street for blocks around, a couple groups of 20 or 30 people were marching down the sidewalk in one direction or another - not all in black, but mostly. It wasn't just Macy's employees, there are more than 100 shops in that mall. There were lots of people outside!
Crappy iPhone pic of evacuees evacuating.
I felt like I was in Men in Black, or that movie with Nicholas Cage and all the angels in dark coats who stop to watch the sunset. Or The Matrix.
"Men in Black"
"That movie with Nicholas Cage & all the angels
in dark coats who stop to watch the the sunset"
"The Matrix"
I just had to drive by the mall, since it wasn't cordoned off - just the entrance and the other side street were closed. I pulled over to try to get a good photo with my iPhone for Twitter, but it came out crappy. I was too far away. We drove by again and gawked at the cops and the security guards and the news vans pulling up and all the chicken people under the trees, and went to get something to eat. (I don't mean to say they were 'chicken,' like scared. We just started calling them the chicken people.)

There was a barbecue place nearby we wanted to try and when I looked it up on Yelp, it apparently had a killer happy hour, so we went to Mr. Cecil's on Ventura Blvd. It looks sort of like the House of Blues on the outside. Well, not really, but it sort of reminds me of the House of Blues.
Mr. Cecil's California Ribs
We went in and it was totally cute and comfortable. We sat at the bar, which is where you have to sit to get the happy hour specials, and asked the happy looking guy eating by himself what he was having. We ended up ordering based on his recommendations - exactly what he was having: a big ass bucket of beef ribs, (sorry, vegetarians/vegans, but I'm not in that phase right now and my doctor says I have to eat meat because I'm protein deficient and allergic to dairy and soy), hush puppies (cut in half with a little butter - my doctor also says I can eat a very small amount of butter for some reason, thank God), green beans with garlic and tri-tip tacos. Actually Michael ordered the tacos on his own. Al hadn't mentioned the tacos.
Check out this Happy Hour menu. And you get A LOT OF FOOD
for these prices! (I lifted this pic from
Al was the guy eating by himself watching the Cleveland Browns on the TV above the bar. There was some sort of kismet because the Browns are my dad's favorite team. He's CRAZY about the Browns, and is making me go to his friend Charlie's house on Sunday to watch a game. I'm a basketball girl. I don't generally do football unless it's the Superbowl or a bunch of friends are involved, but Dad just beat leukemia and he really wants me to go, so I'm intent upon going and having a good time.
What I'll be watching at 10am on Sunday.

Anyway, our food came and it was all fantastic. We were psyched. All good. So good I asked Al where he was eating tomorrow. He actually recommended a Jamaican place down the street called Sattdown Jamaican Grill, and you already know I have a thing about Jamaica. I think I'll like this place, too. Their motto is:

That's what I'm talkin' about. Mon.

Chef/Owner Tony Hyde
of Sattdown Jamaican Grill
Suddenly, Al was joined by four friends at the bar and we were a 'bunch'. We were talking and laughing and eating, and his friends were flirting with the bartender/waitress who was working the whole place by herself because the bartender wasn't coming in... kind of like the eye doctor. (?)

Anyway, she was adorable and kicking ass and we were all having a great time - me, Michael, my mom, Al, his friends and Alison the bartender - when Michael leaned over and whispered to me that one of Al's friends was Captain Sullenberger. You know, the airline pilot who ditched the US Airways plane in the Hudson River in 2009, and saved everyone's lives? That Captain Sullenberger.
That's the guy! Hi Captain Sullenberger!
 I looked again at the man I'd been talking with for 30 minutes and I swear... maybe it wasn't, but I seriously think that was him. Actually I thought it was Capt. Sulleyberger until Michael corrected me on his name. Mom didn't think it was him but admitted he looked just like him. I looked at him for the next half hour and I'll swear again. That was freaking Captain Sullerberger. Sullenberger. Whatever. We would have asked him... but we didn't.

Angelenos rarely call people out on being famous. It's not really a social faux pas, but we just don't really do it. Except when it's someone we really, really love and just can't help ourselves, then we try to casually say something without calling any attention to ourselves - and we'd never ask if we could take a photo. Although we will try to get a photo without anyone noticing, as if people can't tell we're really taking a photo when we're trying to look like we're checking our emails on our iPhone. And if we've had a few drinks all bets are off and it's photos all around!  : P

So we got some chicken wings to go for later (per Al) and had our big "Cheers" goodbye and the three of us walked out of there full, including our 'to go' order, for $41 plus a great tip for Alison. Happy hour ROCKS at Mr. Cecil's.

We drove past the mall again and it was still closed and the black chicken people were still in their shade huddles, but there were a lot more news vans now. We were thinking they should just let those people go home, but then realized that all their cars were in the parking structure that was cordoned off.

We heard on the news on the radio that the bomb squad had been called in because of a suspicious package. You can mess up a town if you forget a package somewhere these days. I remember a freeway being closed down because of a package, which they had to blow up to make sure it wasn't a bomb. 
Moonwalker Bomb Robot

It was actually somehow comforting to see all those people getting the hippity hop out of that mall so quickly though, and staying out till the 'all clear.' It was a great fire drill, anyway. Never hurts to be prepared. Makes me want to go buy one of those fire ladder things to hang out my second floor apartment window onto Hollywood Boulevard that I've been meaning to get since I moved in here seventeen years ago.
Note to self: Tuck a pair of yoga pants & a t-shirt into that ladder thing, so you don't have to run around in that pink satin robe all day,
especially since you'll have a cat in a day pack on your back.
2nd Note: Keep a day pack & a pillow case with that ladder thing, so you can throw the cat in the pillow case and stuff him in the day pack.
Copy that. √
We got back to Mom's house and watched the mall on the news, while I looked up Captain Sullenberger to see if it was really him. Again. I swear it was him! It even said online that he's working at CBS News now, and the L.A. CBS Studio is right up the street from Mr. Cecil's. I'm telling you, it was him. I'll ask him next time we go there. Or Al, or Alison. It sure looked like him.

It's funny. We could have lunch next to Johnny Depp (and have) or dinner next to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (and have) but the one we get all giddy about is the airplane pilot hero. And I guess that's the way it should be.

Oh, and it wasn't a bomb.  Which is good.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why I've Started This Blog

1. To have a place to collect and share my experiences - and photographs and videos of same. I've had a lot of adventures - a lot just this year - and I want to share all the things that made them wonderful.

My very sweet friends in Jamaica, mon.
I'm not sure what sign they're flying there.
I hope I'm not in a Jamaican gang now...
2. To document some of my rather unconventional history before I forget it all. I'm already skeptical about some of memories - was I actually there or did I just hear the story so many times I've invented images in my head with me in them!? And vice-versa, actually. My mom insists it was me who used to bang my head against the wall when I wanted out of my crib. I swear that was my little brother.

3. To let certain elements of my life serve as a warning to others. ; ) To give you the opportunity to learn from some of my mistakes - and me, too, for that matter.
I loved my VW van,
but I should have bought the one that was $4000 more!
4. To give my friends, family, and anyone else who's interested a place to talk about things we've found particularly wonderful, helpful, inspiring, or fun.
Volcano Birthday Cake!
Those aren't corn cob holders, they're Tikis! LOL.
5. Because I've been blogging for my cat for almost three years and my soul is yearning to express itself without any of these:  =^..^=
Cokie checking in with his 4700 Twitter followers.
According to my Jyotish (Vedic) astrologer, my life's purpose is to 'lead people from the darkness to the light.' It is quite fitting, I think, that very coincidentally, I find myself finally publishing my first post of this blog on the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night are of equal lengths, which particularly resonates with me right now. This is a perfect time to come to terms with our own darkness, in order to fully embrace the light and love we're meant to exude.
Photo from
So there it is. Thank you for reading my very first blog post on Notes For My Next Life. I'd love to hear who you are and where you're from - and what you think of this new blog project of mine. Please bookmark it, and come back to it.

I hope this becomes a special refuge and meeting place in this weird, wild metaphysical Internet space and time that we can enjoy, learn from and treasure together.

Check out this awesome visualization of a tiny piece of the Internet. That's us!
Tree of routing paths through a portion of the Internet
as visualized by the Opte Project
Peace and happy Autumn!