Monday, August 23, 2010

Pink Elephant Party - The Duets

I work in radio so you could assume that music is important to me, but really those two facts have nothing to do with each other. This past Saturday we had another Pink Elephant Party with the theme "Great Compilations." This meant duets, featurings and mash ups. Of all the PEPs, this was the easiest list for me to create and the one that I love the most. Honestly, I think because the songs on my list are closely tied to specific emotions and memories. My list, and why I included them, liner notes if you will:

Time to Say Goodbye - Andrew Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
The first time I went to Vegas was on a magical trip for Joe's 30th birthday. I completely surprised him and had planned the entire trip including packing for him. He had no idea until we got to the airport. He thought he was dropping me off for a work trip, my parents were there with a sign...he was truly shocked. It was great. I had a car waiting for us and the driver was fantastic. Joe didn't know where we were staying until we pulled the Bellagio. Everyone had said how incredible the fountains were but I didn't really get it. They looked pretty online but it was a fountain. After we checked into our room we went down to see the big deal about the Bellagio fountains. We got a prime viewing spot and they started dancing to Time to Say Goodbye by Bocelli and Brightman. I was in awe and actually got teary-eyed. The timing was perfect, the music; magical. So now every time I hear this song I am transported back to that night, exhausted, holding hands and utterly in love with the moment.

Anyone Else But You - Michael Cerra and Ellen Page
This is corny, but I love being in love. This song makes me feel happy and innocent and that two people are meant to be together. I love the lines "We are part time lovers and full time friends" and "We sure are cute for two ugly people." It is a huge plus that I enjoyed the movie this is from (Juno) and thought it to be a smart, sweet comedy.

Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
If you haven't seen the movie Once - go rent it now. This is a fantastic little Indie pic where all the emotion is told in song. So it goes without saying that the music is spectacular; this song even won an Academy Award. The song is beautiful in its simplicity and always gives me chills. While the song appeals to my inner romantic, I also am reminded of when I saw this the theater with Shelia. It was a double movie date day, filled with wine, food and fantastic movies.

That's Me Trying - William Shatner and Aimee Mann
While I have vowed to include William Shatner in every PEP list, I think the next theme, Numbers, will kill that streak. But I do love Ole Bill. This song is so achingly sad but I love it for the way it makes me appreciate my father. I am a true Daddy's Girl and can't imagine not having a close relationship with my dad. This song is so tragic with his admittance that the minimal he can do is his best. I am sure this is so true for many parent-child relationships. It makes me want to hug my dad.

The Fear You Won't Fall - Joshua Radin and Schuyler Fisk
I love Joshua Radin's songwriting. His lyrics are honest and sweet and the melodies are able to convey hope and innocence in one song and melancholy and regret in another. This song is the former, harnessing the excitement of a new relationship. Joe and I are in no means in a new relationship, but two lines always makes me think of the time when we were; "It hasn't felt home before you." and "I hate the phone but I wish you'd call."

Daydreamin' - Lupe Fiasco and Jill Scott
Before I really paid any attention to R&B, I stumbled upon Jill Scott's 2000 release 'Who Is Jill Scott" and fell in love with her. This song is jazzy, Scott's voice is smooth and it even includes music from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. It alternates hip hop with R&B and it makes me feel like I could lay and watch the clouds all day. I honestly cannot remember how or when I heard this song, I just know that it makes me happy to hear it.

The Salmon Dance - The Chemical Brothers and Fatlip
You simply must listen to this song. I got it from an Internet friend with whom I traded music. This song makes me laugh with the one liners and responses to the trivia. It is educational too! (For example, did you know Salmon can swim to Japan and back?) The Chemical Brothers is an English duo that is mostly known for techno dance music and a sense of humor. Listen to this song and you will be a fan. Their other stuff varies greatly, but another good place to start would be "Galvanize."

Kandi - One Eskimo and Candi Stanton
The last night on the boat we were just hanging out in our respective beds. I was reading a magazine and Joe was playing on his phone. The boat has a very nice stereo in it and I was listening to a local station. This song came on and I was instantly happy. It includes a sampling of Candi Stanton's cover of an old 60s song performed by both Ella Washington and Patsy Cline. There is still a 60s feel to the song but it is now more modern and well rounded. It sticks in my head and instantly transports me to the boat that night, feeling completely content.

Candy - Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson
I can't sing. I am not even close to being able to sing. But when I am driving in the car and this song comes on the radio, I turn it up REALLY loud, wait until the parts with Kate Pierson and sing my heart out. In that moment, to this song, I have real talent and I am happy. I probably look (and sound) like an idiot, but I am happy and really, that's what good songs are for.

You Make My Dream - Hall and Oates
Speaking of happy, I DARE you to listen to this song and not bop your head around and feel brighter. It's just one of those silly songs that you can't help but love. I became reacquainted after its inclusion on the spectacularly awesome 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack, but upon further review, Hall & Oates songs stand up as poppy balls of happiness, good to listen to anytime you want to tap your toes or be-bop around.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ahh Key West

It's no secret that I love traveling to any and all places. I usually try to pick someplace new for vacations, with a few exceptions; Jackson, Wyoming (famous for an absolutely perfect family vacation), St. John, USVI and nearby Tortola, BVI (my wedding/honeymoon) and Key West.

I first went to Key West as another birthday surprise for Joe, this time his 35th. We were coming out of one of those years that was filled with more fights than fun and we needed a reset button. I had packed warm weather clothes, all our scuba gear, planned a few dive trips and a bunch of down time. The flight was delayed, we got down there 6 hours late to frigid temperatures (50s)for Key West. The elevator was broken so we lugged our 100 pounds of scuba gear up to our room and laughed at the comedy of errors that was the day but decided the next day would be better. We woke up early to get to the dive shop, lugged our scuba stuff down the stairs, caught a cab that dropped us off outside the shop. We waved goodbye to the cab as we heard the dive shop lady say..."dives are cancelled." Fantastic. We called for ANOTHER cab, lugged our scuba stuff back UP the stairs and then decided drinking was in order. It was COLD there and after a very chilly breakfast we went shopping for jeans and sweaters. We ended up having a fantastic time, despite all the things that went wrong. It was exactly what we needed.

After a 2009 week long stay in Key West with Shelia and Adrienne Wolf, I was even more in love with this adult playground. So Shelia and I planned a girls' weekend for August 12-15, 2010, inviting pretty much everyone. It ended up being just the two of us, but we were both fine with that. Vacationing with someone is actually a big deal and not everyone gels once away from home. I have friends that I have known for years that I would never go away with, but luckily, Shelia and I are great travel mates. To travel with me you need a certain mix of lazy and action and Shelia and I mesh very well. So on Thursday the 12th at 6AM we grabbed our backpacks and jumped on a plane.

If you haven't been to Key West and are an adult, you must go. The entire island is catered to adults having fun. I feel so badly for the kids who are there; they look miserable and bored stiff. I really think Key West's website should stop pretending and just say "NO KIDS."

There are a lot of reasons why I love Key West and a lot of those could be applied to any tropical location - sun, laid back attitude, sailing, diving, snorkeling, drinking and general relaxation. Where Key West really shines is in its acceptance. Known for a huge annual festival called Fantasy Fest, Key West truly is a come as you are kinda place. There are drag shows every night (my favorite is at Club Aqua), gay bars with guys dancing on the bar and this time I saw a man dressed in gold lame' with a plunger attached to his crotch. Not every night is wild and crazy though (or at least it doesn't have to be.) Friday night Shelia and I pulled out two chairs and sat on the beach and watched the Perseid Meteor Shower for almost 3 hours. We talked and then we didn't talk and then we talked some more. And that is what makes Shelia a perfect travel companion - neither of us have to be "on" all the time. We can have fun doing nothing....or what we ended up doing Saturday.

As Shelia says, "Aqua kicked my ass again." After spending Saturday afternoon on the beach, we got to Aqua for the early show, stayed for the late show, though to be fair I hardly remember the late show. I was too busing making friends. There was drunk Leslie who was there with her boss/lover who literally was so drunk he kept dropping wads of dollar bills. There was Pat, the most unfeminine girl I have ever seen, who groped me but then apologized, which I thought was mighty nice of her. Then there was Brigitte Nielson and her husband who were looking for a friend to take home. After declining their nice offer, I introduced them to Leslie and I think everyone went home happy. We left Aqua and walked back to our hotel, stopping and dancing in the streets when we were outside a bar playing a good song. We stopped and got Shelia a veggie dog, met a nice guy and talked with him about his son, whom he clearly loved. The walk home was just fun.

Shelia slept late and I went to get breakfast on the beach one last time. It was quiet and I was alone and that was OK. I think one of the best things about being in my 30s is a general acceptance of who I am and who I am not. I'm never going to be thin and that is OK. I am never going to be rich either and that is also OK. I am lucky to have a fantastic family that I am close with. I have a husband who loves me and friends who support me, lift me up and challenge me to be a better person. All of those things make it OK to just be me. And to be totally me in a place that is accepting of that is an oddly comfortable and joyous experience. It's OK to be happily dancing in the streets and there is a good chance that some stranger will come up and dance with you. And that is OK too.

Leaving is always sad. We were tired, Shelia was hungover and neither of us were looking forward to the long travel back home. But I wouldn't trade the weekend for anything. It would be nice to be skinny, rich and famous, but it's pretty great just being me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I kicked Booty's butt...well maybe slapped it around a bit.

This past weekend was the 24 Hours of Booty, the Official 24 Hour Cycling Event of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Over 1300 cyclists come out to ride a 3 mile loop for up to 24 hours. The entire thing is a fundraiser for not only the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but also the Brain Tumor Fund of the Carolinas, so of course I wanted to be invovled. I conned Joe, Mike and Joe's cousin Mike to do the event with me. I had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised on so many levels including fundraising, the actual event and my overall ability.

Fundraising - I was a bit apprehensive about asking people for money. The minimum was $240 so I set that as my goal. I put the link up on facebook, but only got 2 or 3 bids. I finally sent out "the letter" to family and close friends. Thanks to my dad and my aunt, I reached my goal pretty quickly so was happy. But I was ecstatic as the money kept coming in. As of today I have raised $645! Here's the thing about donations - the people you never expect, give, and the people you are sure are going to because of your relationship with them/the financial health they project, don't. I have one friend who is quite literally declaring bankruptcy. She donated. A former co-worker that I haven't seen in 10 years donated. A girl that I train with but hardly really know donated and asked her company to match the donation, which they did. It is amazing. I strive to be like these people. Times are tough for everyone, so I greatly appreciate everyone who helped and every single dollar that was donated.

The Event - The Booty Loop is a 3 mile loop and the Bootyville camping area is set up inside it. Mike and MaryBeth brought a tent and we had a nice area for our home. Before we knew it we were lining up for the first lap. Survivors went first and we followed in behind them. This was the scariest part of the whole event - 1500 cyclists of all abilities crammed into one street. Not even a mile into the event there was a major crash with a girl suffering a broken leg and concussion. We rode for 3 laps and then decided to eat dinner and wait for the bulk of people to go home. I had never ridden at night before so was excited to try it. I LOVE it. We would ride a few laps, come in, drink, eat and then go back out. Around midnight I got in line for a free massage while Mike and Joe went to sleep. My massage was fantastic...about 30 minutes...all for free. Afterwards I was actually wired. I went back to the tent but everyone was asleep. I walked around Bootyville, watched a little TV in the "living room" area they had set up and then decided to just ride. There were still probably 50 people on the course so it was nice. Around 4am I hit 67 miles, my goal, a tribute to my dad who will turn 67 this year (December 5, 2010). By this time Mike was up so we did a lap, just the two of us. This last lap with my brother was the highlight of the ride. I love my brother, but more importantly, I LIKE my brother. We chatted, pushed each other to ride faster and really enjoyed ourselves. My total mileage: 70. Mike rode a little more as he wanted to reach 100 miles and I went back to the tent to hang out with MaryBeth and Dexter. (Joe was still asleep!) There was breakfast at 6am and then Joe and I packed up and left for home. I was wired, but exhausted and really ready for a shower. Mike rode until around 8am when he hit the 100 mile mark and then also packed up for home. The event lasted until Saturday night, but I loved how we did it. We got home, took showers and promptly went to sleep.

I cannot speak more highly of the organizers of this event. I have put on events and know the kind of organization that is needed to pull something off. Every part of this was top notch. The layout, the amenities, the volunteers; all made me feel quite spoiled. I mostly go into these events for my benefit; sure I'll raise some money and I beleive in the cause, but mostly I do it because I want to push myself to do something athletic. I forget sometimes that there is the bigger picture, until it is 3AM and I am getting my 10th chocolate covered strawberry and I politely thank the volunteer and she grabs my hand and says "No, thank you for doing this."

I might have only raised $645 but I was treated like a queen by all the volunteers. The other cyclists were also warm and welcoming. When my chain fell off at a vital point, I had people stop and ask if I needed help. I never felt alone...I was surrounded by a huge cycling family. Most people slept at night but that didn't mean that the event stopped. Food, drinks, massages, TV, vendors were all staffed for 24 hours. There was even a bike shop that was up and doing minor repairs as needed.

I will without any hesitation do this event next year. We are already talking about expanding the TajmaTent so that we all have a place to lay down (Joe miraculously slept sitting up in two chairs). I'm ready to ride 100 miles and to raise even more money. Two thumbs up for booty!