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Looking Back & Facing Forward

looking back facing forward

Last year, the new year felt monumental. I had accomplished and grown so much, and by the end of 2013, I was in a totally different place than I was at the beginning. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished nearly as much as I did in 2013, but there are a few goals I’m proud to have accomplished.

2014 To-Do List:

  • speak at an event I spoke at both the Philly Women in Tech Summit & WordCamp Philly! I also made short remarks at the Girl Develop It 3rd Anniversary Party.
  • record an EP with Chad  NOPE. But we’re both taking voice lessons and actively working towards it this year.
  • get published (in a periodical, online, in print, self-published, and/or ebook all count) I was so excited to be included in Melanie & Sandra’s We Are the Contributors project. The archives should be back online in the near future, and I’ll be sure to reshare when they’re posted.
  • learn JavaScript & feel comfortable and confident using both it and jQuery I’ll (rightfully so) probably never feel done with this one. But! I did start getting familiar with Angular this year and will be setting aside more time this month to dive into it even deeper.
  • build another Rails app Also did not do this, but I want to be doing this during 2015. Multiple times.
  • find a house or apartment that feels like a more permanent living situation DONE! I’m so psyched to be living in a place where the floors aren’t rotting. Also, dishwasher! Laundry in our apartment! Dedicated office/music/creative space! It’s glorious. Perhaps it even warrants a house tour series this year.
  • read at least a book a month This was an epic failure, and I am thoroughly embarrassed about it. I was one of those annoying kids who got in trouble for reading too much in class. My parents took books away from me as punishment. I would bring multiple books to the supper table so that when the first one got taken, I’d have a back up. I’m ashamed of the way that screens have taken the place of books in my life.

In addition to making up for what I didn’t accomplish in 2014, I’m hoping to add a few other things to my 2015 to-do list. If I share them here, I have to make moves, right?

So here we go.

  • read a book a month
  • work on at least two Rails apps
  • learn Angular better by building something on my own
  • learn to/make a quilt
  • set up an online shop
  • speak at another event
  • work towards recording an album with Chad

Bonus: I’ve been compiling another playlist, appropriate for year planning (& my birthday! Happy birthday to me!) Reflective, but full of possibilities. Check it out here, & follow along on Spotify if that’s your thang.

 

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Iceland: Everyone’s an artist

Icelandic CatOn our last night in Reykjavik, we decided to make friends with a really sweet bartender at the famous Kaffibarinn after ordering the cursory shot of Brennivin. He told us that everyone in Iceland is a bartender, because everyone is also either a photographer, musician, or artist and tends bar to pay rent. We asked which of these he was, and he answered, “I’m all three!”

I think one of the things that draws me back to the country and stokes my fascination is the total saturation in literature, narrative, visual art, and music I felt while we were there. Our wanderings in downtown Reykjavik were punctuated by stopping to read the poetry that was painted on the sidewalks.

Reykjavik Sidewalk Poetry

Before we even left the city, I decided that someday I would try to partner with an organization that would send me back to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves, to write about and photograph it. Airwaves is a huge music festival that happens every fall. Even if you don’t score tickets to the shows, there are street performers and free gallery shows all over the city. It’s a little scary to admit it, but I’m still secretly harboring the dream of being sent there to cover it for a music or travel publication someday. It was while we were there that I really solidified my decision to quit my really terrible job and take my creative sabbatical, and having a dream that huge and beautiful made the idea of quitting my job seem easier. I’m still grateful for that.

Kex Hostel, Reykjavik Iceland

To close out the Iceland series, I’ve put together an Icelandic Love playlist so you can get a taste of the music and art that’s so prevalent there. Fun fact: I walked down the aisle to part of the first track — Sigur Ros’ Untitled 3!  I’ll likely be adding to it, so feel free to follow along on Spotify.

You can read about the rest of our adventures in Iceland in the archives

 

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Weekend Pairing Valentine’s Edition: A Song & A Sweet

Weekend Pairing Valentine's Day Edition: A Song & A SweetI hope y’all had a spectacular Valentine’s Day & weekend, if that’s your thing.

We really didn’t have any plans, which worked out well because some of Chad’s older brother’s friends from Carrboro, NC, got stranded in Philadelphia due to the snow this week, so we got to show them around.

The West Philly Valentine’s tour we took them on was full of my favorites: pizza and beer at Dock Street, a quick stop at Little Baby’s, and we finished the night with a show at Studio 34 before sending our friends back across the city in an Uber car.

At the Studio 34 show (it was a record release for My Gay Banjo, who create some super sweet harmonies), I was introduced to Hot Tears. She’s my new favorite thing. She’s deceptively meek while speaking with the audience, but then she starts playing and really opens her mouth. She’s got a hugely powerful voice and plays like a badass. She closed with a song that required audience participation, and it was probably my favorite moment of the night. All the denizens of West Philly chanted, “We grow all night,” over and over again on top of her soaring vocals & distorted guitar & pounding kick drum. It was a little bit magical.

I really recommend listening to “Follow You” while eating some of this super easy Nutella pudding that Joanna featured earlier this week. I made some this weekend with Justin’s Hazelnut Butter rather than Nutella, which made it a little weird. I ended up melting all the pudding back down and adding about double the milk and half a cup of sugar & now it’s perfect. I whipped up some sweet cream to top it off, and now I’m eating it and listening to “Follow You” on repeat.

Both the pudding and the song are luscious and decadent and rich, perfect for any sort of luscious and decadent and rich holiday like this one, no matter your relationship status. Eat, listen, and enjoy.

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Weekend Pairing: Elizabeth and the Catapult & Kishi Bashi

Elizabeth and the Catapult and Kishi BashiWe were first introduced to K. Ishibashi’s special brand of genius when we saw of Montreal at Union Transfer about a year and a half ago. I was blown away. He was the star of the show for me, even though he wasn’t who we’d come out to hear. He plays under the name Kishi Bashi, and we’ve seen him play in Philly twice since then, both times at the First Unitarian Church. The first time we saw him headline there, the show was in the basement. But soon he was movin’ on up, and we saw him play in the sanctuary of the Church just a few weeks ago.

There’s nothing Kishi Bashi can’t do with a violin, his voice and beatboxing skills, a microphone, and some pedals. I was rendered slack-jawed and speechless the first time we saw him, and still when I see him live, all I can do is shake my head in wonder. He can take a room from soaring and beautiful heartbreak to a dance party in less than 10 minutes. The man is a force. I love getting to peer into his process by hearing and watching him set up loops at the beginning of his songs.

Plus, he does a rad cover of “With or Without You” that you’ve also got to see. Don’t tell Bono, but I like Kishi Bashi’s better. I’ve also seen him play an Enya cover that is kind of amazing.

Both times he played at the Church, he was accompanied by the lovely Elizabeth Ziman, as Elizabeth and the Catapult.

Between the two of them, they’ve got some serious classical music chops. Both of them apply their years of study and practice to create unspeakably beautiful and modern sounds.

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An evening with CocoRosie

We’ve gone to a number of shows at Union Transfer here in Philly since it opened a little over a year ago, including Polica with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, St. Vincent, Kishi Bashi with of Montreal, and, last night, CocoRosie.

It was a little bit of a freak show, but in the absolute sweetest way. Really, I mean that in the best way possible.