I think it took about half a second for me to become absolutely obsessed with Dierks Bentley’s newest song “Somewhere On a Beach.” I know I’ve been on quite the country kick lately, but there are just so many fun songs out there right now, I can’t help but get sucked in. Dierks draws out all the right words, and it’s hard not to love whatever he’s singing. “Somewhere on a Beach” is a perfect moving on jam. Sure it’s a little um…presumptuous maybe? But it’s just the right amount to make me laugh and not grimace at the ridiculousness. Even though spring just got here, this song definitely makes me feel like summer. After days and days of rain here in Florida, I was driving to work yesterday morning and the sunlight was just bouncing off the asphalt, and this song came on the radio and I smiled because it didn’t feel like Monday at all. It felt like vacation, and possibility, and fun, and youth. (Also, on a another note – this video?! Not what I was expecting at all, but if this is our previous of the album Black coming out in May then I for one am super excited!)
“But I find holy redemption, when I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial”
Driving up the Keys from a weekend getaway on Sunday, the weather was gorgeous. It was basically the perfect scene for a road trip. We had the windows down, sunroof open, surrounded by a beautiful aqua colored paradise and the sunshine splashing over everything, XM Radio up loud, which I loved because this gave me the chance to hear several artists I was unfamiliar with. A song called “80s Mercedes” came on, and I thought who has this amazing voice?! She had such a fun sound that I couldn’t believe anyone hadn’t already recommended I listen to her! Later, when it was my turn to drive the second half of the state home alone I had country turned up loud, jamming out along to “new Nashville” to keep me awake, and a song came on and I thought – this has to be the same person. A quick Shazaam and I found it’s the awesome Maren Morris. This track, “My Church” struck a different chord and I was obsessed. Yesterday I was talking to my dad and he was like, have you heard this song yet? It’s awesome. Guess what? It was “My Church.” Morris is touring with Keith Urban right now, so I’d say she’s doing pretty well for herself. (Check out that list of dates because they are all over America, and I’m betting that’s a heck of a show.) Her album Hero is set to be out June 3, and I am already super excited about it. In the mean time, go ahead and give “My Church” a listen – I have a feeling you might fall in love with it, too.
If you ask me, Mindy Kaling is one of the most awesome women in the entertainment industry. I love her candid, raw, honest and hilarious personality that not only comes through in her characters on TV, but also in her writing. That “oh my gosh me too!” feeling you might get when you scroll through her Instagram, translates just as well in her books. Now I have to say, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? is one of my favorites, so it’d be kind of hard to beat that one. With that being said, Why Not Me? came pretty close. Mindy’s writing has a way of making you feel like you’re at happy hour with your girlfriends (or let’s be honest – half the time you’re actually in yoga pants drinking wine on the couch) swapping all the juicy details of life, over analyzing dates, paranoia about work projects, and you know drunk eating McDonald’s and binge watching Netflix. She has such relatable anecdotes, and her down to earth quirkiness shines through the details of her experiences – whether she’s being honest about the knee jerk reaction to rejection, or pinpointing the delicious taste of something you’ve worked hard for being successful. It doesn’t hurt that she made me have a little less hair envy for all my favorite actresses when I realized most of that hair isn’t real. (Game of Thrones, I’m looking at your braids.) Mindy’s description of her long time friendships (such as BJ Novak, or childhood BFF Jaclyn) and all the ridiculous sides of her they’re well accustomed to, or the honest reactions they give her when she asks for input really made me reflect on all the genuine relationships I’m lucky to have in my own life. There’s a great little story about a rendezvous she had with a man she met, when she was meeting President Obama, which was a really interesting story to read unfurl. (Like first of all the President of the United States requested to meet YOU, AND you met a cool guy in the process?) She talks about the pitfalls and anxiety and all of the long nights and hard work that go into making her career as successful as it is (or how all of that hardwork doesn’t necessarily make for a successful outcome each time). Kaling has a great way of putting all the different aspects of life in perspective – growing up, work life, relationships, friendships – and the importance of being yourself and figuring out your own priorities along the way. If you’re looking for something that’s introspective and real without being so heavy that it breaks your heart (because really sometimes you just might get tears in your eyes from laughing so hard) then I recommend reading Why Not Me?
(Image borrowed from GoodReads.)
“There was nothing as pretty in Panama City as you”
If someone sang this line to me, I imagine I’d probably roll my eyes, but even if I wanted to resist that sweet talkin’ charm, I’d probably fall for it anyway. That’s about how I feel about every dang catchy Jake Owen song that exists, (which is all of them). Whether it’s a good song to belt out, driving in the sunshine with your windows rolled down, or with your girls on a beach day, or the heartfelt ones when you’re awake at 3am with the rest of the lonely souls scattered across the world – there’s a mood and a song for all of it. I started listening to the Days of Gold album again after Owen just released “American Love Song” because I forgot how much I love him. Living about forty minutes away from Panama City, and being greeted by 75 degree sunshine-filled days again this week doesn’t hurt the urge for some sweet talkin’ country tunes to fill my days while I stifle the desire to leave work and hit the beach. Also, can I just note that I see Jake Owen posting fun little snippets of his time down in Key West right now and if he just wants to wait a week until I get down there next week that’d be fantastic.So if you need a feel good, beachy love, song that makes you smile and feel young listen to “Drivin’ All Night.”
Confession time: I am a scaredy cat. Okay, let me rephrase that…sometimes I am foolishly brave, but that’s a whole different ball game; usually situations that involve going out on a limb or whatever. The kind of scaredy cat I’m talking about today is that I hate suspense. I like to see the big picture. I know the whole magic of life is watching all the events unfold, but I literally despise transitions – the in-between. I hate not-knowing, the sickening feeling of uncertainty. I just want to know that everything works out, but better yet I’d like to know right now how exactly it works out. So, I’m pretty sure my aversion to suspense is why I avoid certain topics. (I used to be a serious Law & Order junkie until I realized that irrational amount of paranoia was wreaking havoc in my brain. Convinced that the creeks in the kitchen in the middle of the night, or the scratches from branches on windows were definitely “bad guys” coming to kidnap or kill me were pretty typical scenarios).
Alright, normally I’d say I dig my fair share of classics, but then sometimes I just feel utterly overwhelmed by my love for music. I only have two ears and one heart and there are only 24 hours in a day and sometimes I like to listen to the same track on repeat. How in the world do I fit in all the music I want to hear? From my brooding indie soul sessions, my classic sing alongs, and then my guilty pleasures of top 40 pop there just doesn’t seem to be enough time. During my work day there’s a pretty good mix of genres streaming from Pandora One from the front desk, and I’m not complaining. Every once in a while I hear a song, and I’m just like how have I never heard this one before?! I should probably be ashamed to admit, that’s what happened the first time I heard Led Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way.” How have I lived 28 years on this planet without knowing this glorious track? It struck a chord big time, and then I just wanted to put it on all of my mixes, blast it in my car, fill my ears on my runs, and put it on repeat while making dinner.
Here’s the thing. When I originally typed this I was in a happy little blissfully obsessive relationship with this song. Then as the weeks passed, it found its way into heavier moments in my life. All you emotional people out there will know what I mean – how there are certain moments that bring such a blow (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively) that you remember minute details connected to the event (what shoes you were wearing, how the morning dew glistened on the grass, and…what song you were listening to). “That’s the Way” unknowingly became one of those songs for me. At least in a recent chapter of my life. Who knows, maybe down the road I’ll connect it with someone else. In the meantime I decided firmly not to let the emotions of that event impact my appreciation of that song. (You know – the active decision not to let some silly thing ruin something you enjoy so much). we should do that more often, actively decide to enjoy the music for what is is. With that being said, I won’t lie – this song evokes so much strong emotion. How do you not get a little misty eyed while listening? This is definitely going on my list of vinyl I’ll search for in the future. Anyway, without further adieu here’s the special gem:
It’s been a long time since I’ve found a book that was so absolutely addicting, I’ve spent an entire day lost in the pages. My friend Jackie had shared some of her to-read list and “Liane Moriary”‘s Big Little Lies was on the list. When I found out that HBO was going to have a show for the book, I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy before it airs. Just my luck the library had it, and although I didn’t give it top preference in my haul that day, when I unexpectedly had off Tuesday this week and it was dark and yucky out all day, I decided it was the perfect time to give it a try. Oh my goodness. I just could not put it down! Though Big Little Lies is about 460 pages, by the end of the day I only had about 50 pages to go. I decided I should probably sleep so I wouldn’t hate myself at work the next day, but I devoured the last few pages on the following day, and now I’m recommending this title to anyone who will listen. (Especially my girlfriends in book clubs).
The style of Big Little Lies reminds me of one of my favorite novels Where’d You Go Bernadette? There’s a sharp wit in the structure that seems near impossible to not be amused by. The story revolves around a group of kindergartner mothers living in Australia, their financial backgrounds, age, marital status, and looks are all varied and they each describe their experiences through these lenses. There’s a murder among this group, and there are hints throughout the story, but the victim isn’t known until close to the end. The snippets of dialogue from the investigation sprinkled throughout the chapters add to the comic relief of the novel, and are a nice transition between heavily emotional scenes.
The scenes are so intricately crafted that it’s really easy to envision while reading. From screaming matches in the parent pick up line, to boozy brunches at the local cafe, to intense heart to hearts between girlfriends. This story covers such a broad range of topics, from the unexpected adventures of parenting, learning to navigate relationships when divorcees each get remarried and try to maintain some sort of balance, domestic violence, bonds of friendship, and all the secrets that everyone is unknowingly carrying around from day to day.
This novel felt like the equivalent of a Netflix binge; you know when they prompt you “are you still watching?” OF COURSE I’M STILL WATCHING! Basically that’s the highest endorsement I can give this book in encouragement for you to check it out if you haven’t yet!
I am beyond late to the game, but one thing I tried to involve in my days more this year are Podcasts. It’s so easy to get caught up in Netflix binges, or listening to my favorite albums on repeat, but Podcasts bring in a whole different category of intellectual stimulation. So, on a whim (after plenty of recommendations from all my favorite people) I finally decided to give one of the most popular podcasts, Serial (Season One) a listen.
Oh my, I was hooked from the first episode. (And the fact that I can listen while I’m working out, or on my car rides to and from work made it even better.) If you’re not familiar with Serial, it’s hosted by NPR’s Sarah Koenig. Each week, we learn more about a case from the 90s in which a young man, 17 year old Adnan Syed was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Hai Min Lee. Koeing speaks to him on the phone several times throughout the series, along with interviewing possible alibi witnesses at the time, his friends, other people involved in the trials friends – and it just winds up with so many intriguing different plot twists. From the number of people who were originally interrogated, to the bizarre timeline, and confessed untruthful information given at different points – it’s not necessarily a story trying to prove whether or not Syed is innocent, but more trying to fill in gaps in the case. How did they arrive to that conclusion from the evidence at hand, why weren’t certain individuals called to trial, and what were all these kids involved really like at the time?
One of the last books I read in 2015, also happened to be one of the best books I read in 2015. Scratch that. Probably one of the best books I read in years. It’d been a little while since I’d read a young adult fiction novel that really tugged at my heart strings. (Right now, I’m remembering the way Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun just completely blew me away.) Well, after I’d seen some of my favorite YA authors praise David Arnold’s Misquitoland I knew I had to see what all fuss was about. Well, it didn’t take me long of peeking into Mim’s journey to realize, “oh my!” This was one of those characters you meet, (like Hazel Grace Lancaster) where I saw pieces of myself in her. I felt like I could be a companion on this Greyhound because I recognized her encounters. Then I came across this line, fairly early on:
I realized, Arnold gets it. I hate to even bring his gender to attention here, but having experienced being a teenage girl – it’s amazingly how acutely accurate the thoughts splashed across each page resonate. I don’t even want to ruin anything in trying to describe what this book is about (I avoided synopsis for this very reason.) Each element of Mim’s journey was such a delicious surprise. Heart-wrenching in anguish at times, shocking, surprising, heart-melting, inspiring – it’s all encapsulated in this young girl’s trip. It’s one of those where she goes out seeking one thing in the beginning (her mother,) but in the end finds so much more. As always, the revelations about friendships and unconventional relationships in this life are monumental. But they come about in the most surprising of ways. I found myself setting the book on my chest, as I just laid in my bed trying to catch my breath from the tears choking me. I know, I’m an atypical emotional reader; the tone I catch from a page may be a different experience for others, but Mosquitoland is a story that touched me to my core. If you’re looking for a read that is fresh with a witty, endearing narrator, I think you’ve met your match. The praise for this novel is well deserved. I’ve yet to find any friends who’ve read it yet, so I’d love to hear what others think!
(Cover art image from David Arnold books; Quote image from my personal instagram account.)
At this point you can probably peg me for what types of movies I go for. (Usually some intense or sentimental drama, perhaps a dark comedy, or just a quirky indie.) It’s the beginning of a new month, so Netflix spits out some different flicks to check out. Upon a weekend search, People Places Things caught my attention, so I settled in for a watch. I was intrigued from the get-go with hand-drawn opening credits, and a cute song to start off. Plus, the film just dives right in – it’s the main character Will’s daughters fifth birthday and his partner Charlie, (Stephanie Allyne) is no where to be found at the party – he hustles upstairs after checking in with several guests, only to discover…well, you probably guessed but there she is in the middle of the act with some other guy. Like I said – it jumps right in. I like films that are basically like life – a glimpse into a period of time, a chapter, of someone’s story. People Places Things unfolds just like that. Will (Jemaine Clement) writes and teaches the art of the graphic novel. He has a roomful of passionate students. He’s a passionate guy, but he’s also plagued by the heartbreak of the crumbling of his relationship. He finds comfort in the joy that comes from spending time with his adorable daughters (Aundrea and Gia Gadsby). The girls are so ridiculously cute, and amusing – they add a definite soft element of entertainment to the story. Will has several quippy one-liners, delivered so dryly that I found myself in stitches with laughter. People Places Things is a story about the complex trials of parenting, learning to let go of lost love, and exploring new relationships while trying to find some sort of stability in a life of chaos. The characters are endearing in their honesty and realness. As odd as it may sound, I think this film is heart-warming in it’s genuine portrayal of the messiness of life. If you’re looking for a cute, original film that will pleasantly surprise you with its uniqueness, then I definitely recommend giving People Places Things a watch.