True Confessions of a Depeche Mode Fan: When the Stereo was an Altar and the Music the Voice of God

I wish I had a photograph of myself from those days—black shirt, black mini skirt, my favorite silver-toed black boots and my earrings shaped like snakes and my ankh necklace and my crystal necklace both strung on black suede chokers. My white-blonde hair and that look on my face, a vulnerable snarl that was part smile and part lifted eyebrow.

Me in what my mom called "Amy's black years": before cell phones and digital photography, we didn't take as many pictures anyway, even my parents who took a lot of pictures for the time. But I think she didn't want to capture it on film at all, the crazy, moody mess her used-to-be-normal daughter became. As if taking pictures of me might've encouraged me to continue waving my goth freak flag, as if not photographing me would discourage my efforts and make me want to wear color again (and go to school, and be kind, and stop stomping around angry all the time).

I don't really blame her, even though I do so desperately wish I had a photo or two. How does a parent know what to do with such a daughter, who curses and screams and rebels any way she can, who, when she's not out who-knows-where with her friends (also dressed in black) spent most of her time sitting in front of her stereo, as if the machine were an altar and the music the voice of God?

As if that strange music could do anything but make her feel worse.

There was a lot of Depeche Mode seeping under my bedroom door during my black years.

And yes: my mom told me more than once that if I'd just listen to something cheerier, I'd feel a whole lot better. (Imagine our conversations when I discovered Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy and Clan of Xymox and all of the other Goth bands I listened to.) What I could never put into words for her was that yes: the music that I loved was dark and gloomy, and I​ was dark and twisty, but it lifted me, somehow. It gave me a mirror to gaze into, where I could look at myself in my own eye but I could also look back over my shoulder and see others reflected there. Listening to music, I wasn't alone.

Did the dark music make the darkness or did the darkness resonate with the music?

Probably a little bit of both.

But whatever my mother's objections and however cliched it might be, it's one of the defining things about me: I am a Depeche Mode fan. Their music in the 80s and early 90s was a voice for me; it gave me a way to say what I couldn't and to understand what I felt. It's equal parts dramatic and truthful to say that Dave Gahan's voice is the sound of that time, and whenever I hear it I am transported back to those years which were both horrible and ecstatic. They were intensely painful but also intense in every aspect: friendship, affection, love, pain, hunger, the texture of grass on bare feet. I felt everything, as hard and deeply as I could feel.

(Maybe everyone feels that way in adolescence? I don't know.)

It was the way the music itself sounded. And it was the lyrics, too. Some of the lyrics were like ropes to cling to, and others were like little pieces of light that made the darkness bearable.

The Cure, The Cult, Peter Murphy, The Smiths, New Order, the Violent Femmes, David Bowie, Yaz, Siouxie and the Banshees, Nick Cave, Berlin, Erasure, Throwing Muses and dozens of other obscure bands; alternative and punk and synth and new wave and whatever else people called it: it wasn't only Depeche Mode that helped me make sense of that time.

But it was always Depeche Mode.

It was Depeche Mode because the precise mixture of sin, guilt, redemption, and a quest for something spiritual (but not religious) that imbibes their best songs is exactly what I felt caught in. Because they sang about rain and Princess Di and the meaning of love and the meaning of lust. Because Stripped, because Dressed in Black, because But Not Tonight. Because Catching Up with Depeche Mode was the best tape to listen to when I was forced to clean the kitchen. Because Black Celebration was the subtitle of my life. Because whatever he insisted upon, he was trying to be like one of the boys. Because of the summer of 1987 and Music for the Masses, which was the soundtrack for every exquisite, sweet, painful second. Because for many years I thought "Strangelove" was the only real love song, because "I give in to sin because you have to make this life livable" was the only way to make sense of anything that happened.

Because that voice made my jaw hurt and my throat grow a lump and my skin prickle; because of those words. ​Because of those words.

I'm thinking about Depeche Mode and about that version of myself (when I was sad but passionate and so afraid of people finding out I was strange that I wore the strangeness right out in front of me like a shield but I was never afraid to stand up and do what I wanted, especially when what I wanted wasn't acceptable) because as I'm writing this, Depeche Mode is playing a concert in Salt Lake City.

And I, the person who every one of my high school friends knew loved DM more than just about anything, didn't go.

Partly I didn't go because who would I go with? If I'd made them, my husband would've gone or my sister would've gone. But they would've been going for me, not for the experience. I wanted to go with my best friend from high school, but she was being a responsible parent tonight. She would've gone for the music. I could've looked at her and remembered how we were together before we had to be responsible parents, when we knew what was in each other's closets as well as our own, when sometimes I would wear red, but only her magical red jeans. When we still intimately knew every ache each other had. She could've seen the Amy I used to be like a figure drawn on vellum, right over this older and wiser but less brave and interesting and wild version I've become.

And that's the other reason. Going to a Depeche Mode concert will remind me of how much I have changed. In good ways—I have many mediums, now, for understanding myself and my experiences. Music, yes, but also art and writing and poetry and hiking and running and even opening my mouth to talk, to tell, to speak my story. I understand that pulling the darkness over me like a cloak is a sure way to lose myself in darkness; I know that I don't have to be sad to be good. I know what I need forgiveness for, and redemption, and I am at last learning what I don't have to carry guilt for.

She was reckless, the Amy I used to be. But I think she was also braver. She cared less about what people thought. She was willing to dive in and do anything. And she—I—was passionate and ambitious and certain the world had something waiting. Back then I thought I was exceptional and the world just hadn't noticed yet, and bumping into that old belief with my current, mediocre self might've just been more than I could stand.

(But I still would've gone if Chris could have.)

I do know this. If I had gone, I would've worn something black, especially my black Docs that've been everywhere with me for a decade. I would've bumped into old friends and old boyfriends and none of them would've been surprised to see me there. I would've sung along because I still know all the words, and that voice would've made my teeth hurt and my skin prickle.

And I would've taken pictures so I didn't have to wish for one.

A Babe with The Power of Voodoo

It wasn’t only David Bowie.

It was also Robert Smith and Dave Gahan and Morrissey and Brian Ritchie and Peter Murphy and Ian McCulloch and Ian Astbury. Siouxie Sioux and Bjork and Annie Lennox. Everyone from Bauhaus, in all their configurations.

But certainly it was David Bowie.

Even now, every time. I hear his voice (doesn’t matter the song) and I still get a tingle. A rush, a spurt. A little piece of the wild, angry, sad, passionate, creative person I was as a teenager.

My friend Chris and I were talking about just this on Saturday, when she found herself driving through the little town where we became friends. Where so much happened, ugly things and brilliant things, when we were unhappy and messed up and more than a little bit crazy. But that version of myself—she was braver than I am now. Truer to what she was, instead of what people wanted her to be.

Brave and true. Unhappy, yes, but because of things that happened to me, not because of the things I did.

Another friend, who I met long after my crazy teenage years, asked me once about being a goth girl. About how she didn’t understand it. Why would you want to look so weird?

The impulse is self-protection, of course. It is putting the weirdness on the outside, where it’s the first thing people see, so if they’re surprised by your internal strangeness, it’s not like you didn’t warn them. It’s a preemptive strike.

I only wore black clothes. I didn't care what people thought. I immersed myself in the music of flamboyant, creative, passionate, and yes, strange artists because they felt familiar to me. They were who they were and not only were they unapologetic, they were the musicians they were because of the strangeness. I needed that because I needed examples, needed proof that being who you are is the way to be who you need to be.

And no one more than Bowie. His music, his appearance, his words.

He brought his authentic self (which was built on constant change but also on creativity, on making) to the world, unapologetic, and it made me value my own authentic self (instead of mocking it, or hiding it, or covering it up). He was true to his mutability, always, and by being who he was he gave me courage to be who I was.

Or maybe it was just who I wanted to be—a babe, to sum up, with the power of voodoo. I’m not sure I ever was that, but I thought I could be, and the thinking—the believing in the possibility—is still a creative power for me. A thing that makes sparks.

I think somewhere along the line I started believing the idea that to be a grown up I had to abandon that self I used to wear so brazenly—that my wild side belonged only to my adolescence. But I think about Chris, driving our old route along our old haunts. I think of how I felt, thinking about her there, bumping into our old ghosts. It makes me sad, a different sadness than the kind I had as a teenager. A sort of disappointment—that I didn’t keep on being who I was.

But she’s still here, my wild, strange, fierce self. I want to let her out more—want to be who I am instead of who this world expects me to be.

I want to put on my red shoes and dance the blues.

I can’t be too old for that. Because watch this:


David Bowie, sick with secret illness. Wrinkled. Almost seventy. And still, moving and passionate and creative. Still making. Still being who he was. His voice still makes me feel that spark.

I wasn’t part of his tribe. I never met him, or even saw him in concert. But he was part of my tribe. Part of the group of people who inspired me and encouraged me and helped me make peace with being different. No—not just peace. I am an adherent of uniqueness, deep down. Even though I look like a middle-aged, Mormon mom. I don’t wear it on the outside much anymore, but just like my anhks and crystal necklaces are still in my jewelry box, just like my steel-toed boots are still in a box in the closet under the stairs, I still have it. The abhorrence of commonality. The avoidance of the norm.

And I know—half a bajillion people are thinking about David Bowie today. So probably I’m not that unique anyway. But still. I am a former goth girl who loved David Bowie not so much for his strangeness but for his refusal to hide it. But most of all for his songs.

All of us writing about Bowie: we were Ziggy’s band.

Song for the Moment: Trusty and True by Damien Rice

Our relationship with music is an intimate thing. I don't have much connection to classical music. I don't like country and I despise most top-40 pop music. I like songs with interesting lyrics and with rhythm, melodies, and movements that are unusual. I like a lot of different songs, but at the same time I'm fairly picky about what I like. And to find songs that I love requires a perfect meshing of lyrics, sound, and the emotional temperament of my life at the moment. 

I think this has been true since I was 14 or 15 and just becoming enthralled with alternative music. The music I was discovering then—Alphaville and Depeche Mode and Erasure, Xymox and The Church and Dead Can Dance, The Smiths and Bauhaus and The Cure—became so deeply embedded with my sense of self as to be inseparable. One of the music experiences I loved the most was finding lyrics that captured exactly what I was feeling, or explained in lovely worlds something I knew but didn't understand, or made me feel better about a thing that was hurting. 

At a certain point, this stopped happening so often. Partly because I discovered that poetry does the same thing, quite often. And because I grew up and started to know my identity better, and learned that it is based on many things, not only music. 

But I still love that experience: finding a song that resonates in an intimate way with something important in my life right now. It doesn't happen every day anymore, like it did when I was a teenager dressed all in black, sitting in front of my stereo as if it were an alter. But the rarity makes the experience mean that much more now, when it does happen.

Which makes me wonder why I haven't blogged about it. About songs that are influencing me right now. So I'm starting tonight with a song I only paid half-attention to, until I found myself driving and weeping and then thinking, wait, what made me cry? and then realizing oh, this song did.

The Song: "Trusty and True"

The Musician: Damien Rice

The Album: My Favourite Faded Fantasy

This song is about living with regret. About being kind to yourself as you live with regret, even. And about taking a deep breath and moving forward anyway.

And oh my, is this the center of my life right now. I find myself looking back at the choices I made as a parent and doubting so many things. Not sure how I could have done things differently, because if I pick a single decision, it is connected to so many other decisions and everything gets traced back to so many early, primal, life-changing choices that, if I question, make me doubt my entire adult life. There is only so much picking one can do over twenty years' worth of decisions before extreme heartsoreness kicks in.

So I was driving, home from the hospital in Salt Lake where my mom was recuperating from her surgery, and I had my phone plugged into the car's audio. I was driving and just thinking, in that easy way that driving by yourself brings on, and sort-of singing along to a song I only-sort-of knew.

Until I was crying.

So I restarted the song (aren't steering-wheel audio controls the best invention?) and really listened:

"We can't take back what is done, what is past, so let us start from here."

That was good. That was such a tidy summation of something someone needed to tell me. That I needed to hear someone else say so that I could say it to myself. But then the song got to the part that brought on those tears.  The song isn't built in a traditional way, with verses and a chorus. Instead the verses build up to the last stanza (I know, that's a poetry term, but I can't think of a better way to explain it), which is a sort of plea to someone who is "not all you desire," and then it asks that person to come along:

come with fears, come with love,
come however you are 
come with fear, come with love
Come however you are
Just come, come alone
Come with friends, come with foes
Come however you are
Just come, come alone
Come with me, then let go
Come however you are
Just come, come alone
Come so carefully closed
Come however you are
Just come…
Come, come along
Come with sorrows and songs
Come however you are
Just come, come along
Come, let yourself be wrong
Come however you are
Just come…

I don't know where that place is. The place I could go to where I could be wrong and sorrowing and yes, very carefully closed. However I am. Probably nowhere. But it brought me, in that moment, such solace to be invited.
Now I can't stop listening to this song because it makes me feel peaceful. Not repaired. Not even bandaged. But just...comforted. Because I can't change what is past, even if I knew how, because when would I stop undoing? stop remaking? If I went backward to find where it changed and went wrong, I'm not sure I could find it, ever. So all I can do is move forward, trying to make better choices for the place I find myself in.
What song are you loving right now? 

2014 in Review: Descending Lists

My friend Sophia does this descending list thing on her blog quite often. I can't manage it very often, though, as I tend to get lost in all the details and start rambling. But, I thought it would be a good way to sum up 2014. (I's January 15. I need to move past last year, but I still need a summary, even if it's late.) So! 2014 in review:

12 Favorite Photos:
I took the least amount of pictures this year that I ever have since going digital. I let myself get discouraged over the Teenage Resistance (one kid in particular hates getting his picture taken) and I just didn't feel excited about much photography. Then my camera started being wonky, so it was gone for repairs for more than a month (it still isn't working right. Sigh.) But I did take some good pictures:

1. My Mom and Nathan. This was at Jake's 16th birthday party. I love them working together.

_MG_1782 nathan gma sue 1 5 14 4x6

2. Kaleb Reading. He discovered the Jedi Academy series and fell in love. He also read Coraline this year, along with miscellaneous other books he didn't love. He still doesn't love reading, but is liking it more. (Also: the bandaid on his toe is covering up an enormous wart he had removed last December. It was a huge wound and took forever to heal.)

_MG_1944 kaleb reading 4x6

3. Easter at My Mom's.  I love this for a lot of reasons. You can't see him, but my dad is in this picture! Also, that black "trellis" behind us? It is actually the old stair railing. When they replaced it twenty years ago, Dad just put it outside for flowers to grow around.

_MG_2749 nathan amy jake kaleb 4x6

4. Our Family with Five. It is still so weird to me not to have Haley with us all the time. She is always in our family but not always in our family pictures! This was taken at my niece Torri's wedding.

_MG_2907 family 4x6

5. All of the Kids. This is on Kaleb's 9th birthday. It captures so much about who they all are right now.

_MG_3009 kaleb 4x6 

6. Haley at Chileno Bay. This is our third time in Cabo but our first time to go to this beach. It is the best one there! SO pretty!

IMG_5180 haley chileno bay 5x7

7. Ragnar 2014. Just a few hours before one of the worst runs of my life. But...I love this picture.

Ragnar 2 edit

8. Talking to Kaleb. I was outside taking pictures of flowers, and he wanted to tell me a story about something that happened at school. I took this right when I sat down across from him, and then we talked about our day. It was a sweet, good moment.

IMG_2242 kaleb 4x6

9. On Top of Half Dome. I didn't hike Half Dome just so I could take this picture. But it is the picture I most wanted. 

No15 sitting on half dome 5x6

10. My four kids. Haley was home for a quick visit. I have this in a frame in my kitchen. 

IMG_4117 all 4 kids 4x6 bw

11. So many boys! Jake playing soccer with all the little boys, at my mom's house for our autumn family meal.

_MG_4382 all the boys playing soccer 4x6

12. Men at Madi's Wedding. My sister Suzette asked me to take some pictures at her daughter's wedding (forgetting that I don't photograph weddings). They turned out OK, but this is my favorite candid. Trying to get all of the men to smile.

_MG_4788 men laughing 4x6

11 Food-Related Memories:

  1. May Lunch at Zupas. When Haley was at home for Kaleb’s baptism, we went to lunch with my mom and my sisters Becky and Suzette to celebrate my and Haley's birthdays. While I love Zupas (their mushroom bisque is an especial favorite), what I really loved about that meal was the people I ate with.
  2. Eating in Mexico. Actually, there are quite a few good food memories from Mexico, and I still thoroughly intend to write about the three restaurants we love there. But the most Cabo-evocative food is the bag of mixed nuts I bought at Costco the first day we were there. It had pecans, almonds, and cashews mixed with dried apples and dried cranberries and a strong cinnamon flavor mixed with vanilla and something just a little bit spicy-hot. I'd eat a handful every morning when I came in from running and then, just a few weeks ago, they were a sample at my Costco. When I tasted them they took me right back to how those days felt: the freedom of running on the beach, the lovely, long lazy days, the scent and sound of the ocean just outside our door
  3. Spiced pumpkin cookies with browned-butter frosting. I made this recipe four (or maybe) five times during the fall. We always love pumpkin anything, but these cookies. Oh my. The frosting takes them into cookie nirvana.
  4. Watermelon in Yosemite. On our first day in Yosemite, we took what we thought would be a quick little hike to Lembert Dome. It was beautiful, but the trail was way longer than my guidebook said, and I didn’t realize there are two different spots you can start at. Which means that to make it into a loop, we had to walk right down the road from one parking spot and past a second before we got back to our car. It was hot and we were both thirsty (and Kendell was freaking out that we had just zapped every ounce of our energy that we might need for the next day’s neither quick nor little hike), so we drank some cold Propels while we drove along Tioga Pass road until we found a shady spot to pull over. Where we ate, with great delight, the cold, cubed watermelon I’d cut the day before. We took our hiking boots off and stretched out our legs and ate watermelon underneath some enormous lodge pole pines. It was so refreshing!
  5. Midnight spaghetti. On principle, I can’t stand Ina Garten. (She’s just oh so very casual about her immense wealth and privilege.) But damn her, she makes some good food. This midnight spaghetti is easy and fast and delicious and everyone in my family but Nathan loves it. (Nathan will tolerate it, though.)
  6. Anniversary dinner. We celebrated our 22nd anniversary by pulling out all the stops and going to…Thai Village. OK, yes, totally not fancy. But it’s an us sort of place, and it makes us both happy, so who needs fancy when you can just have delicious?
  7. Lunch with Chris. She is my very best, oldest friend and she understands almost everything about me. We know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets and also the funny stories. But we don’t see each other very often. I was determined to see her this year! We went to lunch one day during the Christmas break, at Los Hermanos in Pleasant Grove. The food was actually just sort of ehhh, but the conversation and the laughter and the soul-lifting was perfect!
  8. Lunch at Texas Roadhouse in Logan. This fall, we needed to get some things up to Haley, and instead of mailing them we drove up to Logan. Everyone went, and we ate lunch together at Texas Roadhouse. My boys love this restaurant, Kaleb especially. They all got ribs, I got my usual chicken mushroom dish, Kendell got road kill, and Haley (who is a vegetarian) got a big salad. Again…the food was fine, but the company was perfect! Everyone was happy, talking and laughing together.
  9. Dinner at Mi Ranchito. This is our favorite Mexican restaurant, but I had no idea that Becky and Shane also love it. In December, after we all met at the cemetery to decorate my dad’s grave, we went to dinner there: my family, Becky’s family, Suzette, and my mom. Delicious food, good conversations (my mom and Suzette are puzzled by Becky’s and my fear of traditional burial techniques, so we talked about it for quite a while), everyone happy. I loved that meal.
  10. Summer breakfasts with Kaleb. We’d make hash browns and scrambled eggs (and sometimes hot chocolate), then eat together on the patio.
  11. Candy cane cookies. I wanted to find something new and different and delicious to bring for dessert at our Sorensen family Christmas party. I made these candy cane cookies and they were one of my favorite things in December. The candy canes sprinkled on the fluffy frosting get just the tiniest bit softer, and the ones baked in the cookies get a little bit crispy, so it’s all sorts of texture at once.

10 Things that Happened:

  1. Haley thrived in college. We got a letter from the dean about her excellent grades in May.
  2. Jake survived 10th grade and started (very reluctantly) 11th grade. Despite his dislike of school and some other issues he’s struggled with, he’s managed to keep his grades at decent levels and is feeling much better about the second half of junior year.
  3. Nathan made the high honor roll twice, finished 8th grade, and started 9th grade
  4. Kaleb did not love school, but he did adore his 3rd grade teacher and her aid. Fourth grade has been, well, OK.
  5. Jake got his own car! He is paying for half, we are paying for the other half. He loves it!
  6. Nathan earned a spot on student council and made the basketball team.
  7. Kaleb started playing soccer (on a team, not just the back yard).
  8. Jake cut his finger open lifting weights at the gym. Those were our only stitches this year, although…I did cut my forehead open. Glue though, not stitching.
  9. I ran what is likely my last Ragnar. (Unless someone asks me to be on their team…)
  10. Kendell and I saw and held actual, real, wild bear cubs.

9 Things We Bought a Lot Of:

  1. Starbucks hot chocolate. Two years ago, Costco had this awesome tin of extra-dark Starbucks hot chocolate. Then they didn’t get it in 2013 and I was devastated. When I discovered they brought it back again this fall, I bought, I confess, six tins. I have enough to share except I won’t share it with anyone.
  2. Legumes. Mostly black beans and garbanzos, but also refried and navy and butter beans. I think we’ve always eaten a lot of legumes, but this year I really noticed how often I buy them.
  3. Cheese. Despite the fact that dairy products cost more this year than kidneys on the black market, we buy (and eat) a lot of cheese. Kendell gets a little panicky if there isn’t some in the fridge at all times.
  4. Peaches from my niece’s in-laws.
  5. Pumpkin spice cream frappuccinos. If you have them add chocolate chips it’s like a pumpkin spice cookie in a delicious beverage format. (I know…tons of sugar.)
  6. Wheat bread, 1% milk, butter, and eggs: always on our Costco shopping list.
  7. Fixins for hamburgers. After not using our grill once last year, we put it to good use this summer by grilling burgers nearly once a week. The secret to a delicious grilled burger: mix some dry buttermilk-ranch dressing mix into the raw meat. (Take your rings off first though!)
  8. Peanut butter. Kaleb and Kendell have a PB&J or a PB&H (respectively) nearly every school day.
  9. Berries. Even when they’re expensive. I decided it is a luxury I want to live with.

8 Book/Reading Experiences:

  1. Discussing books with Jake. Jake, who used to be a great lover of books, has sort of stopped enjoying reading. (I am hoping this is an adolescent phase.) But when I told him about this book I was reading, The Martian, he thought it sounded good, so he read it right after I did. I loved talking about it with him! He also read The Scarlet Letter in his English class. Helping him write his essay was one of my year’s favorite moments. (By “helping him write his essay,” by the way, I mean this: I don’t write it. I’m not even present for the idea generation and the first draft. But once he’s worked out some ideas and direction and content, I’ll help him revise and shape. I don’t think this makes me a bad mom, either on the side of not writing the whole thing for him or on the other, helping him to make it better.)
  2. Presenting at Life, the Universe, and Everything. I co-hosted a discussion about the year’s best fantasy and science fiction books. My fellow librarian discussed picture books and junior books, and I took the young adult books. I decided that presenting at literary conferences might be the best thing the world has to offer. I want to do it again!
  3. Meeting Robert Pinksy. Seriously…I met Robert Pinsky.
  4. Reading For Darkness Shows the Stars underneath my apple tree, which was buzzing with bees. That was a moment that changed something fundamental in me, in how I look at the world and my place in it.
  5. Re-reading the Maddaddam trilogy while we were in Mexico. I brought all three books with me, despite the space they took up in my luggage, and I finished the last pages of the third book about ten minutes before our plane landed back home in Salt Lake City. The place where we stayed has a little restaurant by the pool, so nearly every day I sat outside in the sun, with a pool by my feet and the ocean a two-minute walk away, eating quesadillas with guacamole and reading. One day, an older man came over to talk to me. He said, “I’m from Canada, and I didn’t think any Americans were smart enough to read Margaret Atwood.” I’m still puzzling over that conversation. I hope I represented us surprisingly-intelligent Americans well!
  6. Meeting Laini Taylor. She came to the SLC downtown library in October. She spoke in two different conference sessions and I went to both of them. I am still processing what she said, but it is pushing me to be more dedicated to my own writing.
  7. Discussing books with Nathan. He read A Wrinkle in Time and was sort of puzzled by it. I don’t think he loved it, but it made him think. We also discussed The Little Prince. And, he read one of Jake’s favorite series, The Cry of the Icemark, and you know it made me happy to hear the two of them talk about books!
  8. Meeting Shannon Hale. I brought my copy of Enna Burning for her to sign, because it’s my favorite book by her. I told her that, and she was surprised…she said most people think it’s too dark. Which just made me smile because of course I like the darker & edgier things. (Not a thing anyone might thing Shannon Hale really is.) We had a short but lovely conversation about why I like it, and she signed my book with “for Amy, who would be great friends with Enna.” 

 7 Songs that Will Always Remind Me of This Year:

  1. Royals by Lorde
  2. Stolen Dance by Milky Chance (Jake loved this song, too.)
  3. Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend
  4. Blue Monday (remake) by Orgy
  5. Just Give Me a Reason by Pink
  6. I Wanna Get Better by The Bleachers
  7. The Wheel in the Sky by Journey (one of these things is not like the others…this is a story I need to tell!)

6 New Things We Bought:

  1. We finally replaced our ancient HP laser printer with a new HP laser printer.
  2. A Bosch mixer. Our old one wasn’t very old, but this was such a good deal on all! new! stuff! that I couldn’t resist. (We sold our old one.)
  3. Sort-of a new computer. Kendell replaced a bunch of parts with newer and faster ones inside of our PC.
  4. A laptop of my very own. I’ve wanted one for a long time, but it had to be just the right one (I’m pretty picky on keyboards!)
  5. Tupperware. I got a set of four pink bowls (squee! pink Tupperware!) and some new canisters.
  6. A Samsung Galaxy s5 for me (I passed my old S3 down to Nathan, who was previously using a battered old-fashioned texting phone, the kind with the slide-out keyboard).

5 Trips Someone Took:

  1. Vegas for Spring Break: Haley
  2. Florida for HOSA nationals: Jake (including Disneyworld and Harry Potter World, lucky boy!)
  3. St. George for StuCo leadership conference: Nathan
  4. Cabo San Lucas: Amy and Haley
  5. Yosemite: Amy and Kendell

(looks like Kaleb really needs a vacation this year!)

4 Medical Issues:

  1. sprained ankle (Nathan)
  2. a whole lot of dermatological stuff (Jake)
  3. cracked tooth (Kendell)
  4. mysterious aching hamstrings (Amy)

3 Movies We Saw:
(It wasn’t a huge movie year for me. The kids saw more than I did. Nothing really grabbed my attention.)

  1. Mockingjay part 1. (I honestly didn’t think they needed to make this book into two movies. I liked this, but I kept wondering what people who haven’t read the books would think of it.)
  2. Interstellar (My favorite movie this year, although obviously that’s not saying much. I have a beef with some of the science, but overall I liked the concepts, especially how time could fold back on itself.)
  3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (A bloated monstrosity that entirely lost the feeling of the book.)

2 Things I Would Change:

  1. More family stuff during the summer. We really didn’t do much all together.
  2. Talk more. Communicate more. Connect more.

1 Lesson I Learned This Year:
(Really….there were many, but this is the most impactful, and maybe it is fairly obvious but I understood it on a deeper level.)

  1. What I choose is the only thing I can control. I can encourage, cajole, rail, lecture, nag, discuss as much as I want, but I can’t choose anything but my own choices. This means that I am striving to really think about and understand exactly what I am choosing, rather than listening so much to other people’s ideas. 

Top Ten, with Liner Notes

A friend on Facebook last week had been tagged in one of those Facebook list thingees. (Is there a hipster word for it, when one person lists their ten (or however many) favorite somethings, and then tags their friends to do the same? Five years ago I would’ve called that a meme, but the meaning of that word has changed drastically!) The list was about music: list ten albums that have stayed with you

I’ve been mentally writing my list in my head since I read that status, so I’m just going to write them here, on my blog. In roughly chronological order, with liner notes:

1. Forever Young by Alphaville.

AlphavilleHearing this album—in my friend Carrie’s camper on our way to Lake Powell the summer I was 14—changed my life. That’s fairly dramatic to say of music, but it’s true. I had never heard anything like it, but it was like finding a part of myself I didn’t know was lost. On the way home from the trip, Carrie’s sister (who had brought the tape) decided she hated it and would never listen to it again. I, on the other hand, got home and started listening to the radio obsessively, trying to hear “Big in Japan” again. Once I found a radio station that played it—KJQ—I discovered some of my friends also listened to it; music to friends to lifestyle and whammo, one album changed everything.

2. Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode.

Music for the massesI can’t even explain the depths of my affection for DM as a teenager. So it was hard to pick just one album. I bought this as an import because I couldn’t wait for the American release, back when Grey Whale was selling used tapes and imports in that little shop on Center Street in Provo. As this was the soundtrack for so many, many experiences, it had to be this one. In my more dramatic moments I used to say that “Strangelove” is the only true love song, mostly because that was all I knew about love (the way the song is about just taking whatever the person you love kicks you with because you knew he’d eventually stop kicking). I can’t hear any of the songs on it without being swamped with how it felt to be me in high school.

3. 1894-1989 by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.

I 1984-1989n the summer of 1989, my friend Jennifer and I went to Lake Powell for spring break. My mom was NOT happy about me going (who can blame her—a big group of kids hanging out unsupervised in campers and tents and surrounded by water?), so we fought for days before I went. She let me go, but I was on my own as far as getting there, and feeding myself, and anything else. So Jenn and I went to Lake Powell with a Phillips 66 gas card and one tape. We were already in Price before we realized that we’d forgotten the case of tapes and only had Lloyd Cole with us, which was in her tape player. Even though it was the longest drive to Lake Powell ever (we got lost more than once, and I’m not talking about small, ooooops-I-missed-the-exit detours), I never got tired of it. “Her heart’s like crazy paving, upside down and back to front because ooooh, it’s so hard to love when love was your great disappointment” is still one of my all-time favorite lyrics. Even with the ooooh. Listening to it will always be synonymous with freedom and adventure for me. (For what it’s worth: that trip to Powell was one of my adolescent life’s tamest weekends, except for a girl threatening to duct-tape my f-ing mouth closed; as I loved Lake Powell too much to pollute it with anything other than just being there, I did nothing my mother wouldn’t have approved of. Except, you know, stealing her gas card and living for two days on chips, beef jerky, and Pepsi.)

4. Sonic Temple by the Cult.

Sonic templeI resisted liking The Cult for awhile. It just seemed so...hard. I had to grow into it, in non-pleasant ways; I had to find my hard places before I liked their music. Once I discovered angry driving with The Cult blaring, though, I was hooked. “Wild Flower” will always be my favorite Cult song, but I love every single song on Sonic Temple. Still! And I confess: I often wish I could go angry driving with a Cult accompaniment.

5. Deep by Peter Murphy.

At midnight on the night a new album released, KJQ used to play the whole thing. The night that Deep released, Jenn stayed up late and taped it so we could start listening to it immediately. By then—the end of 1989, the start of 1990—I was deeply immersed in my goth-girl ways Deepand had an abiding affection for Bauhaus and its incarnations. It was dark and I was in a dark place. What I didn’t know when I first listened to deep was how on the cusp of change I was, and then January came and everything really, really changed, and so deep is another soundtrack to a time in my life that is inestricable from the music. “A Strange Kind of Love” is a song that tugs me right back to complication and heartache but also being loved and treated kindly (although a bit obsessively) by a boy. I still wish it could’ve fallen on the side of friendship instead of hatred.

6. Ink by The Fixx.

InkSo it was 1991, and I was sort of putting my life back together, and I was dating this boy, and we’d broken up in April but then gotten back together, and all summer we just hung out and spent time together driving around in his white Jetta and yeah...I totally married him, and this Fixx album is the soundtrack to that summer. I hadn’t ever had a strong connection to this band...but I loved this album, the white Jetta, the boy.

7. Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos.

This is the first CD I bought. I loved “Silent All These Years” the instant I heard it, but we were in that awkward transition then—we didn’t own a CD player but didn’t want to buy tapes anymore. When we finally Little earthquakesbought one, during the summer we were building our house, I bought this first for myself even though Kendell hated Tori Amos. (He still does.) Even though Becky hated Tori Amos. (She doesn’t anymore.) It’s good it’s not possible to wear out a CD (is it?) because I would’ve worn Little Earthquakes out as a tape. Every song means something to me, both from that time in my life and from other connections as I’ve continued to listen to it, but mostly it has taught me something (that I am still learning) about finding my own voice. (Scarlett’s Walk was equally important to me, but in a different way. I listened to it every day driving back and forth when I was student teaching, and it gave me courage to walk into that school every day when I was terrified and unsure of my choices and wanting desperately to do nothing other than drive back home to my babies. But as I am limiting myself to one album per artist...)

8. Yourself or Someone Like You by Matchbox 20.

Yourself or someone like youI remember going into the music store in the mall and trying to explain this song I’d heard on the radio: it’s something about boxes of rain, and what would happen if the singer were the leader of the world...Yeah. The poor little teenager had no clue. I finally figured it out. This album (and most all of their music) has stayed with me because it taught me that music could connect and relate and have awesome lyrics—and still be just really, really fun. Plus it reminds me of being the mom of just one child, how terrifying and exhilarating that time was.

9. Films about Ghosts by Counting Crows.

Films about ghostsIs it cheating to include a “best of” album? Not always, though, does a best-of album really get the band’s best stuff for me, usually because I tend to like the songs that aren’t played on the radio as much. Has anyone ever heard “Recovering the Satellites,” “Holiday in Spain,” or the incomparable “Anna Begins” on the radio? (’s got all the ones that were on the radio, like “Einstein on the Beach” and, yes, “Mr. Jones.”) “She’s talking in her sleep—it’s keeping me awake And Anna begins to toss and turn, And every word is nonsense but I understand.” Swoon. I forget how much Counting Crows is intertwined in my grown up life until I listen to this album, but seriously: everywhere. Every song reminds me of something. I’ve made lesson plans with it, and scrapbook pages; I’ve sung along to every single song hundreds of times.

10. AHK-toong Bay-Bi Covered.

Ahk-toong bay-bi coveredMaybe it’s odd that my favorite U2 album is mostly not sung by U2? As much as I love U2, and as strongly as The Unforgettable Fire influenced me, and no matter how some of their lyrics could be tattooed on my body they are so much a part of me, I love this album the best. It’s a remake of Achtung Baby, with songs by Damien Rice, Nine Inch Nails, Jack White, and DM (among others) and each cover somehow gets exactly to the substance of the song and turns it into more of itself than it was. I discovered it one morning when, driving to work, I heard Depeche Mode singing, what!?, “So Cruel,” and then I confess I didn’t do much librarian-ish stuff until I discovered how to get my hands on it. Luckily Becky had heard it, too, and that same morning she went about purchasing it for us. Since then the album has gone with me nearly everywhere, trips to California and Mexico, countless runs and races, in the car to funerals. Even in Rome, where Becky and I listened to that DM cover while we walked by the Tiber. It’s never gotten old.

This list was harder to write than I thought, despite a week’s worth of thinking about it. Mostly because I could’ve made it twenty albums long. (Not included, but almost: 21 by Adele, Ceremonials by Florence + the Machine, Swing the Heartache by Bauhaus, Disintegration by The Cure, The Soul Cages by Sting, Violent Femmes by the Femmes, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy by Sarah McLachlan, Upstairs at Eric’s by Yaz, Wonderland by Erasure, Vicious Pink by Vicious Pink, Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo, and a whole bunch of others I’m forgetting.) What are your most influential albums? Link me up if you write them down!

Currently: Playlist

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to listen to more music. Which is not to say that I don't listen to a lot of music—because I do. Especially recently, when I've finally figured out how to A---download music to my phone and B---how to pair my phone with the audio system in our cars. (Neither of which were hard at all...I just needed to actually do it.)

But since I've been running way less, I've not been actively searching out new music. Until now. And I decided that instead of just downloading single songs, I'm going to listen to entire albums. I check them out from the library and actually, you know, play the CDs (how old fashioned of me, right?), and then once I know what I like, I'll download those songs. So right now I'm listening to these albums:

  • AM by Arctic Monkeys
  • Pure Heroine by Lorde (I know...I'm sort of ashamed of myself for liking so much music that was made by someone so young...but there you go)
  • The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Neko Case

And I'm on the hold list for these albums:

  • Lightning Bolt by Pearl Jam
  • Days are Gone by Haim
  • Trouble Will Find Me by The National
  • Random Access Memory by Daft Punk
  • Delta Machine by Depeche Mode (and I call myself a DM fan...)
  • Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

But I also have my "New Songs" playlist, which is individual songs I couldn't wait to buy:

  • Do I Want to Know? by Arctic Monkeys (I love the lyric "the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day")
  • Pompeii by Bastille
  • I See Fire by Ed Sheeran (Yes, it IS a song about Hobbits. And Dwarves. but it is beautiful!)
  • Shot at the Night by The Killers
  • Sirens by Pearl Jam
  • Shimmer by Fuel
  • The Walker by Fitz & the Tantrums
  • Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend (I. Can't. Wait. to run to this song!)
  • Laid by James (Warning: slightly naughty lyrics)
  • Scratch by Contagion, which is NOT a new song, but I heard it on the radio and had one of those "Ah! I forgot about this song!" moments, and then I bought it and added it to my "bad ass running songs" list, too. You know...on the off chance that I ever actually run again.

So tell me! What are you listening to right now? What groups or songs do I desperately need to investigate?

Gratitude #5: Observance

On Wednesday night, Brian Doyle spoke at our library. I was late, but as I was walking in he said this:

If you pay attention, every moment has holiness.

I don't always achieve it, but I believe it being observant. In paying attention and noticing the—the way a thing feels. Even if it is a hard thing, except lately I am more and more adept at avoiding feeling what is hard.

I am working on not doing that.

Because even the hard moments have holiness, if you look at them closely. If you feel what they feel like.That's because holiness doesn't equate with joy. At least, not always. Instead, for me, holiness is presence. Is being alive instead of just living. The rough. The buttery. The delicious or sweet or bitter.

These are all rich.

For my own personal soul candy, I'm grateful that I've developed whatever level of observance I have. It centers me and helps me cope. It makes things mean more to no one else but myself, which is all that I need or, really can ever control.

Tonight, I stayed up late, preparing Thanksgiving. We are having two this year, since my niece is leaving on an LDS mission right before the real one. Tomorrow is the first one, with the niece.

Well, today is, as I've stayed awake until Saturday.

I made roll dough, pie crust, and cranberry mousse. I made an enormous mess. I talked to my boys when I could coax them upstairs and I listened to music—the same playlist I listened to in Italy—when I couldn't.

I sang along.

I stood with my face in the steam rising from cranberries popping into softness in sugar. It's a delicate smell, the cranberry sauce. You have to get close and pay attention to really smell it, but when it's mixed with the fragrance of rising yeast?

That is Thanksgiving, even two weeks early.

Later, once all the making was done and the washing of pans and bowls and mixer parts finished, I went outside to take the garbage and the recycling out. It was misty and cold, since it rained today and there is snow in the mountains. Nearly a fog, but a faint one, right on top of the blacktop. The sky was clear, so I stood in my neighbor's driveway and looked at the stars—Orion, and the Big Dipper, and all of the lights without names. The moon was nearly full and there was a ring of cloud around it. "Sax and Violins" by Talking Heads came on and I just stood, shivering but happy. There were sparkles of frost on the crispy leaves.

"We were criminals who never broke no laws." I actually sang it out loud, and then I realized how weird I must've looked: covered in flour, with sticky bits of cranberries splattered on my forehead, in my pajamas. Standing in the neighbor's yard, looking at the stars, singing out loud.

At 1:00 in the morning.

But it was worth the potential my-neighbors-think-I'm-weird risk. Because love will keep us together and alive. Because looking up, looking weird, looking around—these things make it real. You miss everything if you don't look. Observance makes things holy.

I'm watching while the birds go flying home. (Even though there were only stars, clouds, mist, the moon, and darkness in the sky.)

2011 Books & Music

I put this list together for a project at work, but I thought I'd share it here, too. The list of my favorite 2011 releases, by genre:

My Favorite Released-in-2011 Grown-Up Fiction

  1. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (which, OK: I haven't finished yet, but only because I am savoring it slowly)
  2. Sister by Rosamund Lupton
  3. I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson
  4. To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
  5. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

(Side note: the 2011 new releases I want to read but haven't yet: State of Wonderby Ann Patchett; The Marriage Plotby Jeffrey Eugenides; The Stranger's Childby Alan Hollingshead; The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern, The Cat's Tableby Michael Ondaatje, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and 1q84by Haruki Murakami)

My Favorite Released-in-2011 Teen Fiction
(I am completely unsure as to why I didn't write about any teen fiction this year.)

  1. A Monster Calls  by Patrick Ness. A combination of Siobbhan Dowd and Patrick Ness? With illustrations that powerfully capture the emotion in the story? Oh, my. I can't tell you how much I loved this book. Enough that I haven't brought myself to write about it yet.
  2. Divergentby Veronica Roth. One of the better of the new crop of dystopian novels.
  3. How to Save a Lifeby Sara Zarr. Told in alternating chapters, this is the story of two teenagers: on who's pregnant and might want to give her baby up for adoption, one who's trying to deal with the grief from her dad's death.
  4. Chime by Frannie Billingsly. Another dystopian novel, this one is so well written it's like jewelry, somehow.
  5. Between Shades of Greyby Ruta Sepetyas. A historical novel about Stalin's rule in Russia. I don't think this topic in history is very well known, and this isn't a happy book. But beautiful, still.

(The 2011 new teen releases that I'm still waiting to get to the top of the waiting list: Ashfall by Mike Mullin; The Scorpio Racesby Maggie Stiefvater; Blood Red Road by Moira Young; Legend by Marie Lu; The Unbecoming of Mara Dyerby Michelle Hodkin)

My Favorite Released-in-2011 Nonfiction

  1. Just my Type by Simon Garfield. Have I ever blogged about my affection for fonts and typography? I don't believe I have. I should, one day. Suffice it to say: this book has an entire chapter about Comic Sans. No font nerd could resist it.
  2. In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imaginationby Margaret Atwood. favorite writer. Her words about science fiction that began as a response to Ursula K. Le Guin's review of Year of the Flood. What isn't there to love for me?
  3. A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet by Eavan Boland. Just her name, with its Irish connotations, gives me shivers. Even better, this is exactly the sort of book I love to read, with its mishmash of writing and the writing life and poetics and poems and thinking and discussing.
  4. Blue Nightsby Joan Didion. I loved her The Year of Magical Thinking, which is about the year after her husband's death. Blue Nights, equally as powerful, details the time after her daughter died.
  5. A Widow's Storyby Joyce Carol Oates. I'm not sure why the details of someone else's grief are compelling to me. But this one---the story of Oates' dealing with the death of her husband---just works for me.

 My Favorite Released-in-2011 CDs
(I only am listing three because I only discovered three. I'm trying to broaden my musical horizons but so far I'm not being very successful.)

  1. 21 by Adele. Although I ran with these songs as company many times during my marathon training, they evoke for me the first long autumn run I did. "Turning Tables" is perhaps my favorite song on the album—nearly a soundtrack for some autumn moments—perhaps because of the lyric "next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior." I don't often manage, like I used to, to find exactly the wisdom I need in a song. But I needed that line. I still need it.
  2. Ceremonials by Florence + the Machine. In real life, I think Florence might bug me a little bit—too dramatic. But in music, gah. I love her work. I am approaching this CD like I used to approach CDs: learning all the songs by heart.
  3. Ahk-toong BAY-bi by a whole bunch of musicians. This is a CD that was released in England to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the U2 CD Achtung Baby. It's a cover album---lots of different musicians covering each song from the original. It's got Depeche Mode on it, singing "So Cruel," which is just about all I need, but, hello: The Fray singing "Trying to Throw your Arms Around the World"? and Patti Smith doing "Until the End of the World"? oh, and Damien Rice's version of "One"! and Snow Patrol on "Mysterious Ways"! This has been on nearly-non-stop rotation on my playlist. I love it. So. Much.

Did you have any 2011-new-release favorites?

I Think I Love You

(a book note)
When I was almost 15, I fell in love with the band Depeche Mode. This happened after my Lake-Powell friend Carrie's older sister introduced me to Alphaville (one of my life's seminal moments); Alphaville lead me to my local alternative radio station (KJQ), which lead me to the larger DM oeuvre. (Because who, in 1986, hadn't heard "People are People"?) I became a Depeche Mode junkie: I saved all my spare money to spend on buying cassettes, which I listened to over and over again. "Dressed in Black" became my personal anthem and understanding "Stripped" became a litmus test for boys. Lucky for me, my dad enabled my music addiction; his big stereo downstairs was wired so we could also play music on the upstairs speakers. I could listen to music while hanging out downstairs (probably reading) and while forced into upstairs slave labor (cleaning the kitchen). I'm certain this drove my family, who didn't quite share my taste in music, insane, and probably prompted my Big Gift that Christmas: my own stereo. I never had to be music-less again.
Much as I loved the music, perhaps what I obsessed about more was the lead singer, Dave Gahan. It didn't hurt that he looked vaguely similar to my eternal adolescent crush. I admired everything about him: his dark, velvety voice; his penchant with words (I assumed, of course, that since he sang the songs, he also wrote them, an assumption that left out the real lyricist, Martin Gore); the mysterious, brooding aura he assumed in the videos. I scoured magazines for articles about him (luckily my library took Rolling Stone). I accumulated a sparse but highly valued collection of magazine images of him that I grouped together on my bedroom wall.
Since "normal" wasn't ever one of my qualities, this adolescent obsession of mine didn't enter the realms of your average adolescent obsession. In other words, I didn't spend hours imagining what it would be like to make out with Dave Gahan. I never kissed my posters of him. I hardly ever thought of him in a physical way. (Well...not very much. Really.)  Instead, my fantasies involved hanging out with him in an English pub, where we'd drink soda (I might have even known what his favorite beverage was at that point in my life) and just, you know, talk. About his song lyrics—where in his soul they came from, and how he wrote them, and how true they were. I thought "Here in this House" was the most romantic song in existence and "Strangelove" the only real love song ever written, and I wanted to tell him that.
Poor Martin Gore!
And while Petra, the protagonist in Allison Pearson's novel I Think I Love You has a quite different obsession—David Cassidy, obviously—I think she'd relate to my experiences. Petra is head-over-heels in groupiefandomness with David Cassidy. She and her friend Sharon spend hours assembling magazine pictures I think i love you and posters of David Cassidy, kissing said posters, and reading Tiger Beat, which Sharon's aunt gets her from America, and The Essential David Cassidy Magazine, which comes to their small town in Wales via its London publishing office. Sharon and Petra have just, finally, made it into the "in" crowd at their junior high, so when they're not obsessing over David they're a little bit anxious about keeping on queen-bee Gillian's good side. Petra especially. She should be practicing her cello more often, since she's going to be performing for Princess Margaret soon, but instead she panders to Gillian and dreams about conversations with David. "I never revealed my favorite song to the other girls," she explains. "If I told them, then they could copy my idea. . . he was going to be so impressed I hadn't chosen one of his obvious hits, wasn't he? 'Gee, that's amazing, Petra. You dig "I am a Clown"? Wow. No one else ever noticed that song and it means so much to me.'"
See, Petra and I are soul mates.
If this was only a book about a teenage girl obsessing over a musician, I don't think I would have liked it. I enjoyed it because it captured a bit of what it's like, in the beginning of your teenage years, when every decision and conversation and action seem to have unexpected results; sometimes a surprise good ending but more often they shove you off a cliff into the icy puddle of your own despairing, lonely existence. Petra is caught up in all sorts of little anguishes: the bit with Gillian, but there's also her mother who's highly disappointed in her husband and never loses an opportunity to tell Petra about it, and the tug between wanting to be a better musician and just hanging out with her friends, and that unsettled, distrustful feeling of being the last girl to need a bra. (I feel your pain, Petra. I'm still waiting to need one.) It also tells the story of Bill, who writes for The Essential David Cassidy Magazine, and Petra and Sharon's story twenty-five years post-David obsession.
And even though I was skeptical about this book—it seemed to have a high potential for cheesiness—I ended up really, really liking it. I can't say I loved it, mostly because the adolescent Petra sometimes comes across with that wiser-than-her-age thing that often happens with teens in novels. What bugged me about this was how much I liked what she was saying, balanced with knowing she couldn't know this at 13. An example:
You chose the kind of friends you wanted because you hoped you could be like them and not like you. To improve your image, you made yourself more stupid and less kind . . . The hierarchy of girls was so much more brutal than that of boys. The boys battled for supremacy out on the pitch and, after, they showered away the harm. The girls played dirtier. For girls, it was never just a game.
It's exactly true, but thirteen-year-olds don't realize any of that. They just know their friends make them miserable sometimes, or that they make their friends miserable.
That aside, though, I highly recommend this one, mostly for its redemptive qualities. Even some of my very own friends didn't understand my Dave Gahan obsession. They all knew I loved Depeche Mode, and even liked the band as well, but they didn't share my mania preoccupation affection and thought I was slightly odd for it. Even now that I'm grown up, and even though it's more than a little bit embarrassing, I confess: I still listen to quite a bit of DM. This garners more than a little bit of familial mockery from both Kendell and Haley, but I hardly care; the music still reminds me of how it felt to feel like that. I could explain what I mean, but I love how Petra, grown up now, puts the musical reunion: it's a sort of "emotion recollected in tranquility, of all the women like her in this auditorium who are looking back on their thirteen-year-old selves, on the pressure of all that yearning. Wanting to be loved so badly. That was the great engine of life, revving up back then, if only they'd known it." Now that my engine has already revved and is starting to sputter, revisiting that version of myself reminds me of emotions and experience that shaped me, even though sometimes I've forgotten how.
Especially if you, too, suffered through your own bout of adolescent obsession (Didn't we all? Wait...did we all? Or are Petra and I on our own here? Which musical personality did youobsess over?), I think you should read this. Or, go listen to some Depeche Mode just so you can hear what I mean.

Songs I Love Right Now

Yesterday morning while we were waiting for his carpool to pick him up, Nathan and I turned the radio on. A song came on I vaguely remember hearing before, but not really paying attention to. That morning though, I paid attention to it. We danced along, laughing together, and I fell in love with the experience and with the song. So as soon as he left, I raced to my computer so I could download it. (I buy my songs from Amazon, as iTunes is sacriligious in our home!) Before I completed my purchase, though, Amazon warned me that I had already bought it. Sweet! I got it back in January when I had some free download codes but no songs I was dying to have, so Haley used the codes. Awesome song, already purchased? (And not even purchased, but downloaded for free?) Color me happy!

So, without further ado, a few of my current favorite songs, just because they make me happy and I want to remember happiness too:

01 - Dog Days Are Over

(The song Nathan and I danced to)

07 - Little Lion Man

(I didn't realize I like folk music, but that is how this is catalogued at the library. I'm waiting to get to the top of the hold list so I can hear the rest of the CD but I couldn't wait for this song. I love it.)

My Only Offer

(My friend Apryl introduced me to Mates of State and now I am slightly obsessed but this is my favorite so far.)

09 bulletproof

(I heard this at spin class and now I love the entire CD)

12 relator

(Kendell HATES this song, and while I can kind of see his point—Scarlett Johansen does sound a little stupid—my affection for it remains unfettered by his opinion.

What songs are you in love with right now? What band am I totally missing out on?