Saturday, April 26, 2014

Shakira: Shakira, Album Review

Artist: Shakira
Album: Shakira
Point of Purchase: iTunes
Price: $6.99
Description:  I wasn't super sure about this album at first, I'd pick it up every time I went to Starbucks, look at it, look at the price, then set it back on the shelf.  Then they sent me a code for a free download of one of the songs... Empire... and I loved it, I listened to the album on Spotify and loved it, then the album went on sale on iTunes, and I HAD to have it. (Impulse control? Minimal)

I don't even understand the lyrics to all of the songs, because I'm not bilingual, but even the ones that are in a different language are hypnotically beautiful. Her songs make me want to dance, sing along, I feel the pain in the sad songs, in short she gives you ALL THE FEELINGS. 

Track Listings:
1. Dare (La La La)Is it true that you want it, Then act like you mean it
2. Can't Remember To Forget You (featuring Rihanna): I left a note on my bedpost, Said not to repeat yesterday's mistakes, What I tend to do when it comes to you, I see only the good, selective memory
3. Empire
You're my wildfire every single night
4. You Don't Care About MeShould have never helped, You become so powerful, But I saw a champion in your eyes
5. Cut Me Deep (featuring Magic!):I am covered in scars, Like a rose without thorns
6. SpotlightAnd if they wanna make me pay now, Then go on, Cause loving you was never wrong
7. Broken RecordI've told you 700 times, I don't need to keep looking, My search is done
8. Medicine (featuring Blake Shelton): Y
ou make a war seem like such an easy game
9. 23
Just like an angel, so beautifully strange
10. The One Thing
My fairy tale comes true when I look at your face

I'm not sure what she's singing in these songs, language barrier and all, but I like how they sound if that means anything. 
11. Nunca Me Acuerdo de Olvidarte:
12. Loca por Ti

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It Could Have Been A Lot Worse

On Friday of this year I was in a car accident.  Did some minor damage to my car (well, it seems minor, I haven't taken it to get an estimate yet), the other driver's car had a little more dents and scrapes, but after the tires stopped screeching we were all able to walk away without any cuts or bruises.
So, it could have been a lot worse.  People could have been hurt, cars could have been totalled, I have good car insurance, so after I pay my deductible, the only really lasting effect will be a higher monthly payment.

The part that upset me the most is that I'm going to have to cancel my upcoming vacation to Southern California.  I'm just thankful I had some cash set aside for the trip and that my family is willing to help me come up with the rest of the payment... so again, it could have been worse, I could be stranded without a car or money to get it fixed, I got fairly lucky in this situation as far as they could go.

It's upsetting, and a little scary to get behind the wheel again, but I have a wheel to get behind, and family to hold my hand when I'm scared. 

I had an unlucky moment in a very luck filled life. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Novel Idea: Favorite Series To Read

So the last post in the "These are a Few of my Favorite Things" was about beauty products, and things to keep you pretty on the outside.  This post is about my favorite fiction series of books, so it's more to feed your mind.  As I was thinking about what my favorite books were and looking up images for them, I came to realize that the books that have stuck with me the longest were all a little on the dark side, they're magical, they embrace the unknown and run with it. Vampires, dragons, magic, dystopian societies, post-apocalyptic worlds, or worlds similar and possibly parallel to ours it what brings me in, and brings me back.  

For your convenience I've linked the author's pages in each section. Also there aren't too many spoilers, this post is more about how the books made me feel than their actual content. 

The first on my list would have the be the one that started it all, the series that I have read so many times I've had to replace some of the paperbacks over and over because I'd read them until the binding fell apart.  Now I have a few on my kindle fire, so hopefully I never have to worry about pages falling out again.  This would be the Vampire Chronicles, by Anne Rice.  I started reading Interview With The Vampire in 1994, a full eighteen years after it was published, when I was in the 7th grade.  I was so drawn to it, to Louis and Lestat and the world Rice created.  I devoured her books about the vampires as soon as I could get my hands on them, and replaced them when they were inevitably destroyed from being read so many times.  It lead me to reading her novels about the Mayfair Witches, and the Wolf Men of Mendocino County.  When I went to New Orleans the year I turned 31, I stood outside the houses that her stories took place in, and the pieces all fit together in my mind.  She made her world real to me, and it's always going to be in my mind and heart.

The next series is one I picked up in college. Stephen King's The Dark Tower. I love how so many of King's stories are interwoven with each other without necessarily being part of the same series.  The first Stephen King novel I picked up was The Stand which wasn't really part of this series, but it wasn't not part of it either, they share a common villain.  Anyway after reading it, I was sucked into his universe and had heard great things about this series.  I'll admit the first time through it, I had a hard time with The Gunslinger it was the shortest of the series, and the hardest for me to get into. By the time I finished the series, I was so disappointed that the world of Roland Deschain had come to an end.  I wanted them to go on forever... and if you've read all the way to the end of the series, you'll see how they kind of do. I've often tried to cast this series as a movie... and I just don't think Hollywood could truly do it justice. After all, look what they did to The Stand.

Believe it or not, but the J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is another one that I picked up in college.  The Sorcerer's Stone was required reading in a Humanities class I took my sophomore year.  It truly is a coming of age, it just also happens to include magic, dragons, wizards, trolls, ghosts, and so much more. By the time I finished this series I felt like I had attended Hogwarts myself (10 points for Griffindor!), and that Harry, Hermione, and Ron were my friends.  I cried when they lost loved ones, and I cheered for their victories.  I skipped class on opening day in the theaters for the movies (and now proudly own not only the most of the book series, but also the entire DVD collection).

Suzanne Collins, and The Hunger Games took dystopia to a new extreme... and once again had me turning the pages in Young Adult fiction.  Even though the majority of the characters (likable ones anyway) are teenagers, you can empathize with them, their desperation, and their will to survive against all odds.  This isn't a heartwarming tale by any means, but it teaches about real love, real sacrifice, and the lengths people are willing to go to fight for what they believe in.

Back to the vamps and Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries: Sookie Stackhouse novels.  These are the books that the HBO series True Blood is very loosely based on.  These are much campier than Rice's series, and honestly, not as well written, THAT BEING SAID, they're so entertaining. After the first season on HBO the show took an extreme left turn and pretty much left most of the stuff from the books to fill in background stuff, but the major portions of the story lines have been changed. I love the relationships between the characters in the books, they're so much better than in the show, and you'll get to meet characters that have yet to make an appearance on the cable network. I don't think these novels are going to win and major literary awards, but they're great for wasting away a rainy day.

Bonus, Patrick Rofthfuss' The Name of the Wind.  This is an amazing book, and it does have a sequel, but I haven't read it yet, I just finished this one a couple days ago.  It has a similar vibe to The Dark Tower with a little bit of Aladdin thrown in.  There's action, adventure, attempts at romance, and even a dragon. This was another book that I was sad to see end, but I look forward to reading the next one (which I just purchased for my kindle while I was mid sentence here).  

So... what are your favorite books?  If the weather doesn't change much, it looks like we're going to have a few rainy days to fill. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dr. Frankenstein's Boyfriend

I realize I've been posting some fairly serious stuff lately.  I thought it might be time to blog about something fun and light-hearted.
I was talking about relationships with some friends the other day, and I realized that while even though none of my past relationships have worked out, they all have a special place in my heart, even if the men are no longer in my life.  I thought it might be fun to take a walk down memory lane and talk about my favorite qualities about the relationships that have made the biggest impact on my life.  Names have been omitted and have been replaced with semi-identifying nicknames.

The Texan:  This one was my first love, he was someone I could talk to about anything, for hours, he understood me in a way I’m not sure anyone has before or since.  We had more than our share of problems, and in the end we were so wrong for each other that I’m not sure why we ever fell in love.  He taught me what it was like to think of someone else first, how to include someone else in my plans.  He had magical hands, was artistic, passionate, and had a voice that could make me melt with a simple hello.

The North County Cowboy:  This was the shortest relationship on the list, we only lasted a month, but everything happened so fast and the feelings were real.  He loved animals like no man I have ever dated (don’t be gross, he didn't love his pets).  He was also probably the best looking boyfriend I've had.  I introduced him to my friends and family much sooner than I normally would, it was so strange how everything moved in fast-forward, but felt completely normal and natural, from the night I met him, I felt like I had known him forever.

The College Boy:  I can’t help but look back on these days and smile.  Yes, there were plenty of reasons why we weren't meant for the long haul, but so many reasons why we were so great in the short run.  We liked the same movies, loved weekend road trips, the same football team, similar music, and he inspired me to be better at the things I love (writing and photography for example).  We took things slower than usual, and it made every milestone feel important and special.  He taught me what it was like to be in a mostly functional relationship.  He was also the first educated man I've been involved with, and it’s amazing to be able to share similar experiences with someone who gets it.

The Golf Pro: This man.  I’m not sure where to even start.  This relationship blew up in my face like an Elmer Fudd cartoon during “Wabbit Season,” and yet, it still served a purpose, there are still good things to say.  He had a way of helping me turn off the world and everything that was stressing me out, for awhile he was my favorite drug, and looking back, probably the most toxic.  We got together not long after I lost my younger brother, got let go from my job, started a new career, and was butting heads with one of my closest friends.  He was my eye of the storm, my escape hatch, and the ladder out of the deep end of the pool.  We started out as friends and he introduced me to new music, movies I never thought I’d watch, and showed me all the wrong ways to be in a relationship, so that when I find the real thing, I’ll know it.

The Musician:  He was so passionate, twisted, talented, scared, emotionally stunted, caring, confused, manipulative, hilarious, and infuriating… and I never felt the need to change him.  He drove me crazy, pushed me to try harder, even inspired me to get my own guitar so that he could teach me to play it.  He taught me that people will be who they are whether I like it or not.  That I can’t change someone who doesn't want to be changed, I can’t make someone be a grown up if they’re stuck in never land.  That even if you’re great as friends, it doesn't mean that you’ll be great loves.  He opened my eyes to things I didn't want to see.  He taught me to be strong, how to walk out of a room with my head held high, he taught be that sometimes you have to push the wrong person out of the door, so the right one can walk in.  I know it sounds like these are negative things to pull from a relationship, and in the moment they absolutely were, but they made me stronger.  They made me less likely to put up with bullshit.  They didn't turn me into my frosty alter ego, but the experience has made me more cautious of suspect behavior, and more appreciative of people who are genuine.

This post kind of took an unexpected turn on me, it was supposed to be funny and light, and it turned into a love letter, and an affirmation that I still believe in the good in people (even when they've shown me their worst sides), but I'm okay with that.

All of these men were intelligent, whether they learned their lessons from books, the streets, by events that life had thrown in their direction.  They all made me laugh and some of them have held me when I've cried.  They opened my world up to new experiences that I wouldn't trade for an easier road to follow.  I feel like if I could take the best parts of all of them and could Dr. Frankenstein them into one man, I’d be pretty close to perfect.  He’d be tall, have dark hair, light eyes, a voice that could melt ice, could play the guitar like a rock god, loves animals, educated, funny, inspiring, encouraging, someone who listens as well as tells stories, has a sense of adventure, doesn't make too much fun of my taste in music, someone who wants to share new things with me, someone I can introduce to my family…. Doesn't sound too bad does it?