Thing #28 – Blood on the Tracks

When I was in high school, I started playing guitar and writing songs. The typical folksy, three-chord masterpieces you’d expect from a teenage girl. In those early years, I was endlessly inspired by Bob Dylan.

I’d listen to Blood on the Tracks and dream of an adulthood rich with travel, intrigue, love and adventure. I was plagued by the restless longing of waiting for life to start and was desperate for a rambling, wandering, Dylan-esque world where I turned every drop of life into poetry. 

In college, I’d write songs about nights as they unfolded. Impromptu tales of shenanigans, complete with singalong choruses designed to make my friends laugh. 

Not long after, I recorded a couple albums of girl-power jams in my apartment, experimenting with layers of sound as I melted into new depths of love, sadness and longing. It was the best way I could process the cliche emotions of my mid-20s. I still love each of those songs like they were children.

Although that songwriting life slowly fell away from me, we parted … Read the rest

Thing #5 – October

I sit on the left, she sits on the right. We have an unspoken agreement about which side of the backseat we sit on. Even after decades, Sissy and I sit in these informally assigned spots. Whether it’s a cab or our family car, it would feel wrong if we didn’t.

Most of the time you don’t realize all the ways you revert to your childhood self when you’re in your family environment. I think we’d be surprised (or horrified) to learn all the ways we do. The backseat assignment is a mild example of this.

Now that I’m a Missourian, I don’t make it back to my childhood home as often as I once did, but I make it a point to return every fall. October is already the best month of the year, and it’s amplified by being along the northernmost edge of the Badger State. I feel bad for people who have to share their autumnal activities with flannel-clad hordes who’ve piled into their QX80s in hopes of capturing the most Instagrammable Read the rest

Thing #1 – Birthday State of Mind

Every time I fly into LaGuardia, I swear the plane is going to land in the water. The river hugs the runway a little too close and I’m certain we’re going down. In spite of this, New York City is the best city to fly into. From above, Manhattan looks too small to be holding so much of the world on its shoulders. The downtown buildings stand guard along the harbor while a steel forest and wispy bridges roll out behind them. There’s nothing like it. Maybe it’s the several dozen times I watched Muppets Take Manhattan, but the attraction of the big city lured me from an early age. 

I suspect if you grew up near New York it lacks the same majesty. Maybe I’m wrong. I grew up deep in the Wisconsin woods where an elderly oak tree was the closest thing to the Chrysler Building and northern lights were our Times Square. And where Sissy and I played “Road.”

Oh, you don’t know what “Road” is? It’s basically an imaginary system Read the rest