29 December 2018

Year-in-Review: 2018

Oh 2018.  You were confusing and clarifying. You were easy and complicated. You were awesome and awful. You had me swinging from extremes of lightness and heaviness. And oh, 2018, you were full of a bunch of terrible mistakes.

But...I’ve been thinking a lot lately about missteps and mistakes. I think we need them. We can’t progress without them. Otherwise, we’d grow complacent. But here’s what I am proud of…With each and every mistake I made this year, I was able to sit down here at the table (yes, that same one!), pour a glass of wine, and write to myself, to others, and to the most amazing (mostly silent) therapist. I would process the mistake like the scientist I am. Pulling at all the tiny little threads for explanations. And then, finally seeing the pathways of the mistake illuminate so very fucking brightly. It was in these moments that I came to learn so much about myself.

For those of us who have experienced childhood trauma, our recovery process is full of these moments. I know its never going to be easy. I’m never going to be “fixed.” I’m going to fuck up again and again and again.  But I think I’m finally starting to see the process. I’m seeing how the challenges of 2016 helped me to work out some of the issues. And then, 2017, some different ones. And now, 2018, something else. And there are ALWAYS going to be missteps and mistakes, just as there are always new lessons. And sometimes, it’s going to be the same old lessons from say, I don’t know, 2011? I think the point is that I’ve learned to accept the full version of myself, which is all over the place sometimes. And that’s just fine, because if we never fuck it all up, we aren’t able to realize what it is we really need, and for me, more importantly, what it is that we really want.

One step at a time, my darlings.

I’m grateful for all of you that helped me during this year. That picked up the phone when I needed to talk it all out. That remained patient with me when I was confused. That followed along with my journey of running and #drunkblueapron’ing while I sought to take care of myself. That never judged me while I was clearly making the mistakes I needed to get to the place where I am today. Y’all are the real deal.

And so, it’s with that I start my year-end list of gratitude. Thank you again.

I am grateful for… (in no particular order, my dears)

1. Running.

Some days, I ran fast. Some days, I ran far. Some days, I ran in the hot and humid summer afternoons. Some days, I ran in the rain. And even, some days, I ran in the snow. Running remains key for me. I think it works because it belongs to me. It’s my thing. Just me. Out on the streets, working the things out. This year, I ran my first official 5K with Robbie in Nashville. And this past year, I ran 620 miles.

2. My Nashville Crew: Robbie, Russell, Clinton, Rob, Taylor, Matt, and Luke

I was so fortunate this year to have multiple places to stay when I came visiting Nashville. So a billion thanks you go out to Kate Chapman, and April and Bill Mullins. Their amazing generosity allowed for me to return to Nashville more times than I can count this past year. It’s hard to even begin to remember all the visits. I had a blast ringing in the New Year with Robbie, Taylor, Russell, Clinton, and Matt; attempting to watch The Oscars with Robbie; celebrating my birthday with Robbie, Russell, Rob, Luke, and Clinton; running a 5K with Robbie and Rob; that long ass summer where we watched so many soccer games, had so many Sunday Fundays, and tore it up at ALL the pool parties at Rob’s house. 

3. Jennie Ann

Jennie Ann and I have been best friends for almost 27 years. The lifespan of a best friendship always has its twists and turns. While both of us were going through our own tough set of challenges in the past couple of years, we drifted apart. I missed her horribly. But this year, we came back together. And it taught me these amazing lessons about friendships. They aren’t always going to be perfectly neat. Life ebbs and flows, and so do friendships. And at the end of the day, they are still there—the history, the jokes, the understanding. But, you have to speak up. You have to tell the people that you love that you miss them when things aren’t perfect. You have to remind them that you are there for them when things aren’t perfect for them. You have to fight for the relationships that you want to keep in your life. I’m so happy that we are back together again. Obsessing over some new television show. Conversating in gifs. Talking about our own progress in #recovery with one another. And, as always laughing our faces off in the process. Beyond my joy of having Jennie Ann back in my life, I’ve been so fortunate that she’s also brought Gladdy, her daughter, into my life.

4. My Family

I’m so grateful for all my trips home to spend time with my mom. I’m grateful to spend the holidays with my sister and my brothers. I’m so grateful that I was able to finally be at Jessica’s baby shower for our newest family member, Everett. And maybe the most important to me was to attend Jack’s 3rd birthday party this year. I’m so excited to be part of their lives. To be the crazy Aunt Katherine that I always wanted to be. 

I am also fortunate to have found another family with April and Bill Mullins. They welcomed me into their home, allowed me to stay there for a incredibly amazingly small amount of money, but more so than all of that, I've loved sharing my life and stories with them. Tonight, I was trying to figure out my plans for the New Year, and April messaged to me: COME HOME TOMORROW. And it made me smile so very much, because I realized how much of a connection we've made in only six months. I can't wait to see them tomorrow. And sit together, laughing and talking and drinking all the wines. 

5. Happy Hours with Jamie and Coco at Yee-Haw.

I am grateful for all those afternoons with Jamie and Coco at Yee-Haw (and our group chats). Sometimes we talk about teaching and our classes. Sometimes we talk about our lives. Sometimes we just talk shit. We are early in our friendships, but I know that if I ever needed anything from these two, they’d be there. They would always get your back. And they always want you to be the best version of yourself you can be. And that my dears is the kind of thing you hold onto for as long as possible with your friends.

6. Colleagues/New Friends and Students at Tusculum University

I feel like this list would be long, if I were to go there and list all of them. Suffice to say, I’m loving my time at Tusculum. I have some of the most amazing colleagues I could ever ask for. They are not only smart academics and amazing professors, they are great friends. They have always supported me. They’ve invited me to their homes, their book clubs, to be besties with their kids. And the students. Okay, not all of them are great, but I’ve certainly loved the chance to get to know these students and watch them learn and progress.

7. My Girls….(said in RuPaul’s voice)

I’m so thankful to Ashley, Michelle, Yvonne, Andrea, Sheila, my Aunt Jennie Ann, April, and my dearest Susan….I’m sure the list could go on. But you folks have been great this year in terms of your continued love and support via phone calls, text messages, visits, FB likes and messages. I envision a world in which all of us could live so very close to each other to sit around the table and drink wine and chat on a daily basis.

8. The Nutcracker

I’m starting to wind down now. And, honestly, outside of running, performing in the Nutcracker this year was one of the highlights of my year. Similar to my running, performing in the Nutcracker was something that belonged to me. It wasn’t about anyone else in my life or anything else, just ME! I remember when I signed up, I messaged a particularly problematic individual in my life (read: narcissist) and they responded: “But don’t you think you’ll be too busy for the other things in your life?” Yes, y’all should recognize this if it happens in your life. Someone who doesn’t want you to do something just for yourself because it might interfere with the time you might spend interacting with them…well, y’all, it’s time to move on down the street.

The ballet helped to teach me this. There was nothing about it that was going to contribute to my work or my personal life. But rather, every single time I showed up for rehearsal, all the stupid problems of every day just fell away. When all those wonderful little kids came running up to me to talk, none of this other bullshit mattered. They made me so very happy. But yes, that’s it. It was just for me. And I plan to do so much more of that in the coming year. 

9. Islam

I can’t begin to explain what Islam has brought to my life. There’s all these memories that we’ve already created—Discount Tire and the Food Truck, Text Messages, Phone Calls, Hawawshi, #DrunkBlueApron, Stomach, the Gala and Homecoming, Pumpkins, Halloween, Flowers, Baklava, Thanksgiving, West Virginia, Christmas. It’s the tip of the iceberg. And I can tell there are so many more memories to come. He’s someone who sees me. He loves me for me. He reminds me that I need to belong to myself.

One of the metaphors from this year that I shared with "Dear Susan" this last week was about ballet and partners. While I sat in the theater during dress rehearsal and watched the Sugar Plum Fairy perform, I though about the role of partners. In ballet, we have partners who are there to support us and make us look better. During paux de deux, they work to make you look like the most amazing dancer in the world. You do a pirouette, and they spin you 2-3 times more. And I thought, this is what we want from partners. You want someone who is willing to do that. Being okay with letting you be the star of the show. Don’t get me wrong, they will go out and do their solo later, but when they are partnering you, they hold you up, they want you to look amazing. I've come to realize that Islam is the kind of man who is secure and confident enough to do that.

10. My Mistakes

There were a lot of them this year. The ex’s were there. Spring Break was a shit show including the roommate. My summer was full of some weird decisions and some violations by research participants. I had a lot of people violating my boundaries this past year. And sometimes I stopped it. And sometimes I let myself be overwhelmed. I’ve realized I’m closer to stopping it, and it doesn’t make people happy, but I’m not going to stop.

As I depart from this year, I’ve realized that I’m in a place where I want to say what I want. I’m tired of pleasing other people. I want to be seen. I want to be heard. I want to belong to myself. And then, to share that with the people who love me and care about me the most in this world. For all of you, I’m so grateful. Thank you.

19 December 2018

Empty Parking Lots: Katherine's 17th Annual Mix

“For a moment, I was not lost. I was waiting for permission to take off.” –Waxahatchee

This past semester, I started running in the mornings before school when it was still dark out. I had always been scared to run in the dark. Some of this is because I’m a woman. Some of this is because of my PTSD.  Some of this is because of some vision problems. But I got out there and did it. And I ended up loving it. It was so quiet. It was so calm. It was so empty. It was just me and the streets. (Well, except that one time I saw a creepy guy walking in the dark park by himself—with no dog—before  the sunrise and I ended up running back out of the park, because you know #thatswhatitslikebeingawoman). 

 In the last few months, I’ve been obsessed with empty parking lots. There’s something about the quiet and the calm and emptiness of them. It's a moment to press pause on everything. I realized this past week, I'm craving stillness. In the early morning hours before I crawl out of bed, I fantasize about going off-the-grid, like just disappearing into the woods with no phone, no social media, and no people. Just to be quiet, away from everything, without any expectations or obligations.

Maybe I'm overworked. Maybe I'm spending too much time socializing or traveling. Maybe I spend too much time answering emails and texts and messages. All of that is true to some extent. Yesterday, I went through my end-of-the-month assessments from the past year. I always wrote the same thing that I hoped to improve in the coming month. I always wrote that I needed to prioritize myself more. Seriously, y'all, its there...month after fucking month.  So, while I hoped to prioritize myself, I just never did. Maybe I was just too busy?

I realized that I’ve forgotten to ask myself the question: “What do YOU want to do?” This morning, I said that out loud to myself. And I laughed, because I remembered that I can do whatever it is that I want to do. I can say no. I can say yes. I can change my plans. I can tell someone I don’t like their ideas. I can tell someone to give me space. I can do whatever I feel like doing. I can even have tacos for breakfast (which is incidentally exactly what I did in the aftermath of asking myself that question yesterday). 

For me, it's challenging to prioritize myself. I'm accustomed to making sure everyone else is comfortable. It's a learned response and it is a hard habit to shake. Much of it is about setting and maintaining boundaries with others. Recognizing what I need in a day, a week, a month, or a year. And then, saying that. And when someone violates and refuses to hear me, I have to remember to raise up my voice a little louder.

THAT is what I hear in this music. There's a sense of confusion. There's a sense of isolation. There's a sense of complication. But that's the thing. I'm complicated. I'm never going to be neat. I'm never going to be fixed. I'm always going to be a little bit messy. And that's okay. We are all just trying to figure it out.

That being said, I'm going to err on the side of brevity for some of the songs, but not all of them. 

You can find the mix in the following locations:

1. Apple Music

2. YouTube

3. Spotify 


1. Appointments: Julien Baker

“I think if I ruin this. That I know I can live with it. Nothing turns out like I pictured it. Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvases. I think if I fail again. That I know you’re still listening. Maybe it’s gonna turn out all right. And I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is….”

Her voice breaks me. Every single time I hear it. It’s the simplicity. It’s the sparseness. It’s her vulnerability. It’s her veiled attempts at comfort. And the recognition that not everything works out the way we plan, regardless of our best intentions. Or, maybe even our worst intentions. So, listen to this one closely. And wait for it….at 3:58, her voices raises up over the music and shakes the whole house. You can hear her doubts. You can hear her insecurity. You can hear how she battles between who she is and what she wants to be, or maybe even rather, what everyone expects her to be.

I found his quote from Baker about this song…and it really resonates for me: “The song is about the isolation of thinking that you’re incapable of communicating the emotions in your head while you’re also trying to exert the effort to be there for someone else, and to be what they want….its been important for me to get rid of my really finite standard of normalcy and understand that maybe the bad and ugly things are part of me, but I don’t have to submit to them. And that the existence of anxiety or depression does not negate my own capacity for joy, or my intelligence. It’s really helpful to accept those bad things instead of trying to make it out to be some sort of Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy; when I can embrace those things, I can have power over them.”

“Maybe its all gonna turn out all right. Oh, I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is…”

2. Sky Full of Song: Florence + The Machine

“Be careful my darling. Be careful of what it takes. What I’ve seen so far. The good ones always seem to break…”

Maybe everyone feels a little out-of-place in life. I suspect some of us think more about this than others. I’m one of those people. When I was younger, I towed the line. I tried to fit into the preconceived conceptions of what life should look like. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to belong. Its easier when you belong. However, that wasn’t going to work for me. I had too many questions. I didn’t want to accept “that’s just the way it is” as an answer. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued to question these things. I want to create a life for myself that serves me, rather than serving the expectations of the world. And so, at times, it’s challenging. And sometimes it feels like you are out there flying for too long.

“I was screaming at my father. And you were screaming at me. I can feel your anger from way across the sea. I was kissing strangers. I was causing such a scene. Oh, the heart it hurts such and image of unimaginable things. Grab me by my ankles. I’ve been flying for too long…Hold me down, I’m so tired now. And I can tell that I’m in trouble when the music starts to play…I feel like I’m about to fall, the room begins to sway. And I can hear the sirens, but I can’t walk away…”

And this part reminds me of that February afternoon when I realized I wasn’t his priority, which ultimately reminded me that I hadn't made myself a priority, either. 

3. Hymn: Kesha

This one popped up on shuffle the other day. It’s for all the Franks. Y’all are my tribe. And we are fucking royalty.

“Even the stars and the moon don’t shine quite like we do. Dreamers searchin’ for the truth. Go on, read about us in the news. Pretty reckless, pretty wild. Talking shit and we’ll just smile. Don’t you see these fuckin’ crowns? If you know what I mean, you on the team. This is a hymn for the hymnless, kids with no religion. Yeah, we keep on sinning, yeah, we keep on singing. Flying down the highway…I know that I’m perfect, even though I’m fucked up.”  

Chapter One: Winter

4. Fireworks: First Aid Kit

“I could’ve sworn I saw fireworks from your house last night. As the lights flickered and they failed. I had it all figured out. Why do I do this to myself every time? I know the way it ends before it’s even begun…”

This one reminds me of New Years. And, the ex's.

5. 2002: Anne-Marie
“I will always remember the day you kissed my lips. Light as a feather. And it went just like this. No it’s never been better than the summer of 2002.”

Well, I don’t really remember 2002. That seems too long ago. But I do remember the summer of 2014. And 2015. And 2016. And I remember the days I fell in love. With both of them.

6. Party for One: Carly Rae Jepsen

So, yeah, January and February. There were declarations. There were mismanaged expectations. There were frustrations. And then, there was spring break.
“Party for one. If you don’t care about me. I’ll just dance for myself. Back on my beat. I’ll be the one. If you don’t care about me. Making love to myself. Back on my beat.” 


Chapter Two: Spring

7. Never Be the Same: Camila Cabello

“It’s you babe. And I’m a sucker for the way you move, babe. And I could try to run, but it would be useless. You’re to blame. Just one hit of you, I knew I’ll never be the same. It’s you, babe…”

This is the song that started all the trouble…

8. Suck the Blood From My Wound: Ezra Furman

“And I’m doing ninety, got to get there…if we can make it across the state line then baby, we’re golden. Let the law pronounce its’ petty assertions. They’ve been outsmarted by a couple of urchins. And they hurt you bad, man. They hurt me too….Even the deepest wounds will heal over time. I’ll run my fingers over your scars and yours over mine. They’ll never find us if we turn off our phones. We’re off the grid, we’re off our meds. We’re finally out on our own. Now I see color coming back in your cheeks. Angel, don’t fight it. To them, you know, we’ll always be freaks…”

This one is dedicated to the pony. And also to the Franks.

9. Baby I’m Yours: Breakbot

This one is dedicated to my birthday weekend in Nashville. We played video games and drank on rooftop bars. And he made me smile all day long. 

Chapter Three: Summer

10. Hunger: Florence + The Machine

“Tell me what you need, oh, you look so free. The way you use your body, baby, come on and work it for me. Don’t let it get you down, you’re the best thing I’ve seen….And its Friday night and it’s kicking in…Oh, you and all your vibrant youth. How could anything bad ever happen to you? You make a fool out of death with your beauty, and for a moment I forget to worry…”

This one is dedicated to Russell. I was so fortunate to get to spend so much time with him this summer. He makes my heart so full. And when I look at him, I think…. “How could anything bad ever happen to you? You make a fool of death with your beauty.” I’m so very fortunate to have Russell in my life. He makes the world a better place. 

11. Nice For What: Drake

Girl. It was summer. And Drake released an album. Not only did he release an album, but he released the video for this song. Which basically told us all to say “Boy Bye” to all them and go out with our girls and have fun. THIS IS THE POOL PARTY SONG.
“I know shorty and she doesn’t want no slow song. Had a man last year, life goes on. Haven’t let that thing loose, girl, in so long. You’ve been inside, know you like to lay low. I’ve been peepin’ what you bringin’ to the table.”

“Saturday, call the girls, get ‘em gassed up. Gotta hit the club, gotta make that ass jump. Gotta hit the club like you hit them mothafuckin’ angles…”

12. Make Me Feel: Janelle Monae

Summer 2018. (Also, watch the video. She's stunning).

“That’s just the way you make me feel. So real, so good, so fuckin’ real.”

13. Boys: Lizzo

Also, Summer 2018. Things got a little crazy.

“Ay, boy, whatcha say, boy? You tryna play coy like a Gameboy? Hit my phone boy, is you home boy? Are you alone boy? Come give me dome, boy. Got a boy with degrees, a boy in the streets. A boy on his knees, he a man in the sheets…”

14. Barbie Dreams: Nicki Minaj

One day, I’m going to write my own version of Barbie Dreams. You’ve all been warned. This is brilliant.

15. Uproar: Lil Wayne (feat. Swizz Beatz)

“Get the fuck though, I don’t bluff, bro. I come out the scuffle without a scuff, bro…”

YESSSSSSS. 5, 4, 3, 2, I let one go.

Chapter Four: Fall

16. Close to Me: Ellie Goulding, Diplo, and Swae Lee

“Even though we both know we’re liars and we start each other’s fires. We just know that we’ll be all right. Even though we kicked out the party ‘cause we both hate everybody, we’re the ones they wanna be like. So don’t let me down. Keep me in trouble. Born to be wild. Out in the jungle.” 

Hail, yee Franks. We are born to be wild. Promise to always keep me in trouble. 

17. Playinwitme: KYLE (feat. Kehlani)

“Girl, why are you playin’ with me? Girl, who are you playin’ with? You’ve been on that new stuff. I’ve been on the same shit. Girl, why you playin’ with me? I don’t got the time for that. Might need me a refund. Imma need that time back…

I randomly turned on a movie on Netflix and discovered KYLE. He's absolutely fantastic. Yes, he reminds me of Drake. No, he doesn't appreciate that. But outside of that comparison, he's brilliantly hilarious.

“You bein’ a different you and I’m bein’ the same me. You could have had Gucci, but now that’s Old Navy…”

Yep. You could have had a lot of things dummy, but you messed it all up.

18. I Do: Cardi B (feat. SZA)

"I left a n**** on read, 'cause I felt like i..." 

 So, after the Nicki-Cardi beef, I wasn't sure I was going to put one of her songs on the mix. But this song is too funny. This is the don't-fuck-with-me song. Yeah, bitch, I'll put some bleach in your cereal. If I were Offset, I'd probably back the fuck off right now.

"Look, broke hoes do what they can, 
Good girls do what they told, 
Bad bitches do what they want..."  

Chapter Five:Winter

19. Ferrari: Bebe Rexha

“Every day is a blur
Sometimes I can't tell what day it is
Don't know what day it is
Can you tell me what day it is?
Life's passing by
'Cause I'm out chasing empty highs
Every hello just means goodbye
But I'm looking for more this time
Can we start to slow it down?
Can we learn to live right now?
I just want to feel it all, ooh…”

This one goes out to Jennie Ann. Girl, I'll meet you in an empty parking lot anytime you want. Or, rather, I'll meet you in Costa Rica at the trashiest hotel we can find.

20. Runaway: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“I was feeling sad
Can't help looking back
Highways flew by
Run, run, run away
No sense of time
Want you to stay
Want keep you inside
Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Want you to stay
Want you to be my prize…”

On those days when I feel particularly exhausted from my life, I turn this one up really fucking loud.

21. Perfect Places: Lorde

"Every night, I live and die,
Feel the party to my bones, 
Watch the wasters blow the speakers,
Spill my guts beneath the outdoor light. 
It's just another graceless night.
Are you lost enough? 
Have another drink, get lost in us....
If they keep tellin' me where to go,
I'll blow my brains out to the radio, oh..."

"All of the things we're taking,
'Cause we are young and we're ashamed.
Send us to perfect places,
Al the nights spent off our faces,
Trying to find these perfect places.
What the fuck are perfect places anyway?"


22. Recite Remorse: Waxahatchee

"I was shaking like a leaf,
I was clenching my fists.
I was losing my mind, yeah. 
I was dancing with death, 
When I stood in my front yard.
Felt the sun on my face,
It just felt like a rerun,
Holding everything in place..."

I hope you'll enjoy the mix. Better yet, I hope you'll watch the videos. Some of them are AMAZING. So, happy holidays to you and yours. Remember to take some time for yourself. Go pull into an empty parking lot, turn the mix up loud, and just let yourself pause. Because, you deserve it. 

29 December 2017

For several days, I've been trying to write the year-in-review blog. For some reason, the words ain't flowing. I suspect this has to do with the fact that I expunged much of my thoughts about 2017 in the annual mix. I suspect this is also because of how important music has been to my life this year. The happenings of my year were so intricately woven into the music that carried me across the country, up those stairs everyday in Germantown, and continue to follow me with each step and each stride when I'm out running.

However, at the end of the year, I think it's always important to take a moment to share my gratitude. My gratitude for all of the people, places, and things that meant so much to me this year. It is my way of saying thank you. With only a few days left of this year, I raise my glass to all of you.

Here's my song to all you amazing people and places and faces and times and things...because I do love y'all so very much.

Thank you to....

1. The students and faculty of Northern Arizona University (particularly, Sian, Skye, Rebecca, Charlie, Breanna, Sultan, Kayle Mae, Arifin, Matt, Sam and Olivia, Jessica, Kolbi, Marisa, Doug, Sarah, Debbie, Kooros, Warren, Rich, and Yvonne).

2. All those baseball games.

3. To the people who protested when I couldn't and the people who protested with me.

4. All the folks who helped advise me about job decisions (particularly, Carly, Sheila, and Liz).

5. All those happy hours with Yvonne.

6. The crew at Picazzo's.

7. The moving crew (Brandon, Seattle, Charlie, Marisa, and Andrea). 

8. My family and their welcoming of me back to the South

9. My days in Charleston with Michelle. 

10. Mr. Redd always giving me the good advice, particularly when he simply said to me: "If he doesn't want to be with you, girl, you gotta move on). 

11. My first #drunkblueapron experience with Robbie on my first night back in Germantown.

12. Attending my first Nashville PRIDE with Robbie and Russell.

13. Trivia nights at the Pub, Sam and the whole Germantown Pub crew. 

14. Celebrating the 4th with Red and Anthony. 

14. The folks at the 8th Avenue North Market.

15. Billy Joe Bowman and the Johnson City Cardinals. 

16. My backyard and Harriet. 

17. My text and email updates with my old therapist from Flagstaff. 

18. Those afternoons behind O'Reilly's. 

19. My new colleagues. 

20. My Johnson City Happy Hour friends.

21. My visit to Nashville with Ashley. 

22. Michelle and Andrea's visit to Johnson City. 

23. ALL those phone catch-up sessions with amazing and brilliant women.

24. All the cute and distracting men in my life. 

25. Running and the Tweetsie Trail. 

26. Last, but not least, Drizzy.

And it'll sound weird, but I think I'm mostly feeling thankful for MYSELF this year.  

I chose the picture above, because it really represented a huge turning point in my life.  I had just moved back to TN. I was living in Germantown for the summer. And honestly, I was all fucked up. I was having the time of my life by reconnecting with my old friends and my neighborhood, but at the same time, I felt like a raw nerve exposed. So much of my time was spent trying to find a way to see my ex. I was certain that if we just spent time together, we'd be able to figure out a way to be together. And honestly, this is why I started running those stairs everyday, because it allowed me to see him at least twice a day. But then, this magical thing happened, I started to feel stronger when out running. I'd look out over my old neighborhood and belt out the lyrics to Drake or Swift or Kanye or Florence. And it was there in those moments, I started to find my joy again.

As we head into the new year, I don't have specific resolutions, but rather, just the hope that I'll keep on finding the joy and gratitude in the everyday. I'll laugh my face off while texting with my friends and family that are spread all over this country. I'll take the time to have catch-up sessions with my the lovely women in my life. I'll dance my butt off in the living room while cooking my #drunkblueapron. I'll giggle while Drizzy gallops across the floor, every single morning. I'll keep running and sharing that with y'all.  I'll keep the silly in my everyday. I just want all the laughter and fun and joy. 

"I might be too strung out on compliments,
Overdosed on confidence.
Started not to give a fuck and stopped fearin' the consequence. 
Drinkin' every night because we drink to my accomplishments. 
Faded way too long, I'm floatin' in and out of consciousness.
And they sayin' I'm back, I'd agree with that. 
I just take my time with all this shit, I still believe in that. 
I had someone tell me I fell off, oooh, I needed that. 
And they want to see me pick back up, well, where'd I leave it at?" -Drake in Headlines


18 December 2017

Redemption: Katherine's 16th Annual Mix 2017

Let loss reveal it.” –Florence & The Machine

Last year's mix began: “For most of my life, I’ve been somewhere in between. I AM THE IN BETWEENS. But I’m starting to get tired of that. I’m ready to belong. I’m ready to put down some roots. I’m ready for some permanency. And here’s hoping that in 2017, I find where I belong.

It’s really hard to explain to people why the South makes sense to me. It’s the feel of the air. It’s the food. It’s the colors—all those overwhelming greens and blues. It’s the way people say hello to you when you pass each other on the street. It’s the way strangers tell you their life story while you stand in life at the gas station. It’s the architecture. I never thought of myself as someone bound to a region. But there’s something about the South that runs through my veins. It’s so subtle at times. It was the small things that I missed the most.

While I will always be so thankful for the people I shared my time with at NAU, the day I packed up my moving truck (with the help of many of those people), I felt overwhelmed. I was scared. I was terrified of what would happen next. But I knew, I was going home. I was going back to where I belonged.

Much of the mix is about finding my place. But I’d be remiss if I framed it as only about finding the place where I would live. It was also about finding my place in relationships, particularly, my relationships with partners, but maybe, so much more than that, it was about discovering my relationship with myself. Now that—THAT was messy.  Like heart-wrenching and ugly crying in a bathtub messy. There were starts. There were stops. There were uncomfortable in-between moments.

And in the middle of all of that, I found myself moving across the country. I started to rebuild a new life. I found myself alone in a big house in a new city with a new job. And then, the most magical thing happened. I started to feel strong again. I started to take care of myself again. In the first email exchange (after moving) between me and my therapist from Flagstaff, she remarked: “Look at you. You figured out what you needed. And you took care of yourself and you did it.” Susan, I’m paraphrasing, but I think that was your sentiment. I was cooking (and therefore, eating) again. I was sleeping at night. I started running.

So much of the mix is about running. Most of the songs come directly from my running playlist. Not only did running become one of the ways in which I took care of myself, but it became a pretty perfect metaphor for the work of #recovery and the processing of the relationship mess from the year. When I first started running, I could barely sustain for 30 seconds at a time. But, I kept going out there. I pushed myself to go for 45 seconds, then, a minute, then two minutes. When I first started, I never envisioned that I might be able to run a 5K. But, I dedicated myself to running every day. And, I was kind and gentle with myself. Some days would be AMAZING. And some days, would absolutely SUCK. And in these tiny small increments, I watched myself improve. It wasn’t always so easy to see it in the course of a single week, or even, a month. But how far I’ve come since August, I’m overwhelmed by the progress. And it’s that kind of lesson that I have to remember as I navigate the loss of some relationships in my life.

But also, then, you open yourself up to other relationships. At times, that might be relationships with friends. Or, relationships with romantic partners. Or, a relationship with yourself. And lastly, it might mean a relationship with a new pet. It’s all here. And while I might err on the side of brief in this blog, you’ll hear it in the music. 

Since I put together this mix in November, I kept calling it Redemption. I wasn't sure I liked the title, but it stuck. Last night, I re-read the blog for the 2016 mix. And I'll be damned. Here's how I ended it last year.

"And I am reminded… “Nothing real can be threatened, true love brought salvation back into me, with every tear came redemption, and my torturer became my remedy.” Because, the truth is, my torturer is myself. And, I am my own remedy. 
I’m ready to find my redemption, my remedy, my belonging. But in the mean time, I’ll also be patient. I’ll try to remember that love takes it time. Sometimes, life takes a crooked path. And sometimes, we have to wait. And, god knows, I'm waiting. And I'll find my belonging. And then, it will happen."  

And now, I'm so very proud of myself. I was patient. I kept fighting for it. And so, 2017 is the Year of Redemption. I came back to myself this year. 

You can find it in the following locations:

1. Spotify

3. YouTube Playlist
1. St. Jude: Florence + the Machine

“Maybe I’ve always been more comfortable in chaos.”

I began 2017 with him. He came to visit me in Charlotte. Things weren’t great between us, but we were trying to figure it out. At the time, I didn’t yet know I’d be moving back to TN, but we hoped. On NYE, we got dressed up. My mom took photographs of us. We went out for a fancy dinner in downtown Charlotte. We watched the fireworks downtown, surrounded by tons of people, while we held each other tightly and danced. He stayed at my mom’s house another day. We played board games and drank wine and danced to music.

Over my spring break, I was invited to visit the school where I now work. I was able to extend the trip so I could spend a couple of days with him. It was during this trip that it became apparent that things weren’t great. And within a month of that visit, we ended things. I haven’t written very much about the loss of this relationship, but, the reality is that neither one of us ended the relationship because of our own choices. Yeah, here’s your clue, think the film The Big Sick. That’s our story, with the exception of the happy ending.

It’s hard to fathom this kind of loss. Because, it doesn’t lend itself easily to moving on. See, we kept talking to each other. Because, well, we were best friends. And we were still so much in love. And while there never seemed to be a way to resolve our situation, we deluded ourselves into thinking it was possible.

So much of this past year has been about trying to navigate this loss. Learning how to grieve it, how to let go, and how to do the hard things that maybe both of us need in order to heal and move forward.

“Another conversation with no destination.
Another battle never won,
And each side is a loser.
So who cares who fired the gun?”

“And I’m learning, so I’m leaving,
And even though I’m grieving,
I’m trying to find the meaning.
Let loss reveal it.”

2. Hungry Ghost: Hurray for the Riff Raff

I’m absolutely in love with Alynda Segarra. Earlier today, I heard the song Pa’lante, and lost it. This song finds its way on the mix (and, prominently in the coveted second track place) for four reasons. One is because of the island of Puerto Rico and all the hardships they’ve endured this year. Two is because of how the song resonates with my own experiences. Yeah, I’ve traveled from coast to coast looking for where I belong. But also, I’ve certainly thought in the past year:  “I don’t need you anymore, so why am I standing at your door?” Third, the song reminds me of my own strength. There was a moment in 2015 when I wrote in my journal that one of my goals was to move back to the South. And from that moment onwards, I fought. I fought to get here again. And I did it. But fourth and lastly, her voice fucking slays me every single time.

“I been a lonely girl,
But I’m ready for the world…
I been nobody’s child,
So, my blood’s starting running wild.
I been a hungry ghost,
And I travelled from coast-to-coast.”

3. Rainbow: Kesha

“Yeah, maybe my head’s fucked up.
But I’m falling right back in love with being alive.”

So, if I had to pick only one song to summarize my entire year, this would be it….because it is where I am right now. There’s redemption, and the most amazing moment, when you fall back in love with your own life.

I remember the very first time I heard this song. I had just downloaded the album. I was out running on the Tweetsie Trail. I was about 2.5 miles in, I happened upon this beautiful scenery on the trail. It was a place I had never ventured to before. And then, this song started playing at the same time. And I started to cry.

I cried for all the hard work I did to get back to where I belonged. I cried for all the hard work I’ve done to process my relationships. And, I cried for how strong I felt when I was out running. I’ve probably listened to this song hundreds of times. Not just when I’m running, but also some of those late summer nights when I was sitting in the back yard with my head thrown back looking at the sky.

“I used to live in the darkness.
Dress in black, act so heartless.
But now I see that colors are everything.
Got kaleidoscopes in my hairdo,
Got back the stars in my eyes, too.
Yeah, now I see the magic inside of me.

Yeah, maybe my head’s fucked up.
But I’m falling right back in love with being alive.
Dreaming in light, light, lights,
This kitty cat lost her mind.
Been lookin’ for a star-sent sign that I’ll be alright.
Look to the skies…

I forgot how to daydream.
So consumed with the wrong things.
But in the dark, I realized this life is short.
And deep down, I’m still a child.
Playful eyes, wide and wild.
I can’t lose hope, what’s left of my heart’s still made of gold.”

However, the song has additional significance for me. Upon moving to Johnson City, I crossed (virtual) paths with an old friend. We met during our first year of college (holy crap, 23 years ago). We were close during our college years; however, life has a way of sending friends to all parts of the world. But over the past 23 years, I would occasionally hear from her. She was someone who pursued a similar career trajectory, so we would commiserate about graduate school or the job market. In August, she contacted me to ask about how I was enjoying my new city and job. And, from that moment on, we haven’t stopped talking. It wasn’t that we are only similar in term of career paths, but the more we talked about our lives, we realized we are similar in many ways. We battle some of the same demons. And so, hold tight, sweetheart, come and paint the world with me tonight.

“I’ve found a rainbow, rainbow, baby,
Trust me, I know, life is scary.
But just put those colors on, girl.
Come and play along with me tonight…

And I know that I’m still fucked up.
But aren’t we all, my love?
Darling, our scars make us who we are.
So, when the winds are howling strong,
And you think you can’t go on, hold tight, sweetheart…”

4. Endless Road: Angel Olsen

Choosing a life as an academic has meant that I’ve had little control over my life in terms of where I live. I was among the very fortunate to land my first job in Flagstaff, Arizona—a super cool little town. However, when I realized I hated being so far away from my family and desired to move back to the South, I didn’t have a ton of choices. I would just have to wait until I found another job. Academia fosters a sense of placelessness for much of your career. However, it also means you find yourself connecting with people from so many different places in which you ultimately leave. And y’all, know I’m shit with loss. That shit is hard. It was really hard to leave Flagstaff. But mostly, it was really hard to leave Yvonne. She was that smile waiting there in a place that I decided to stop and rest awhile. And I really needed Flagstaff. I wouldn’t be where I am in all my #recovery without the friendship of Yvonne, the spectacular therapy of Susan, and the love of all of my students.

“All the places I have been,
Keep calling me back again.
Down in the pines,
I hear the cold winds blow.
My heart keeps telling me,
‘Footloose and fancy-free’
And the road goes by,
And calls me as it goes.

Well, maybe somewhere there’s a someone,
Waiting there with a smile.
And maybe there’ll be a place,
To stop and rest awhile.
And maybe you weren’t meant to be,
Just a rolling stone.
And there’s a road to travel on,
That leads you back to home.”

5. Bad Liar: Selena Gomez

So, after a couple of weeks in Charlotte and Charleston, I found myself moving into a summer sublet in my old neighborhood of Germantown. And while I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I don’t think I considered the full realm of consequences to living only one block away from the 8th Avenue North Market—and hence, two of my ex’s. Based on the location of the apartment, it meant that several times a day, I would pass by the store while trying to get anywhere else in the neighborhood. Some days, I’d stop in. Some days, I’d walk past it. But almost every single day of the summer, I’d pretend that I didn’t care. Yeah, they took up a fraction of my mind.

“I was walking down the street the other day,
‘tryna distract myself.
But then I see your face.
Oh wait, that’s someone else.
‘Tryna play it coy
‘Tryna make it disappear
But just like the battle of Troy
There’s nothing subtle here.
In my room, there’s a king size space,
Bigger than it used to be.
If you want, you can rent that place.
Call me an amenity,
Even if it’s in my dreams…
With my feelings on fire,
Guess I’m a bad liar…”

6. Phone: Lizzo

One of my absolute favorite moments of last summer was finally getting to attend Nashville PRIDE with Robbie and Russell. Lizzo performed and we danced our little (and in Russell’s case, perfect) asses off during her performance. But also, there was one night in Nashville…well, I didn’t lose my phone, but you get the point. And that night would end up being pretty pivotal in the way the rest of the year unfolded.

7. It’s a Shame: First Aid Kit

So, yeah, then, there was the other ex. And there was that one morning he wandered right back into my life. It had been a trying night, to say the least. And I had hit a wall. But that next morning, he was there to pick me up. He wrapped his arms around and took care of me until I could stand on my own. It was at that moment that I realized, while we had stopped talked to each other for a year and a half, we still really cared about each other. But we had been shitty at communicating with one another, which left us with resentment and hurt feelings. Without a doubt, our relationship is so very strange. And most people don’t get it. But, I know that no matter what, he will always be there to pick me up, dust me off, and remind me of how truly amazing I am. And for that, no matter where the road might lead us in the future, I will adore him forever.

“Lately I’ve been thinking about the past,
How there is no holding back,
No point in wasting sorrow,
On things that won’t be here tomorrow.
But you and I,
Well, we don’t need to speak,
It’s a secret that we keep…
Just say when and we’ll say goodnight…
Tell me it’s okay,
To live life this way
Sometimes I want you to stay,
I know it’s a shame….”

8. Headlines: Drake

So, I’m letting Headlines stand in for all my Nashville-running songs. There were many. I listened to Florence & The Machine, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Kanye West. So, instead of including Shake It Off and Stronger, I’m letting Drake say it all for me.

Over the summer, I was so anxious about all that I was processing—all the change with my job and life, but also the ex’s—that the only way I could really mitigate that anxiety was to run the stairs at the Capitol. It was something I would do occasionally when I lived in Nashville, but that summer, I went every single day. I’d walked through Bicentennial Park, run the stairs one or two times, and walk back to the apartment. Most of the times, I would stop in the store on my way. And, that came with it’s own set of emotions. But, when I made it to the top of the stairs and the music was playing loud in my headphones, I’d feel powerful. I’d look out upon my old neighborhood. And, everything else seemed to fade away.

And at the moment I got my confidence back, I also stopped fearin’ the consequence. I started to live my life again with all the zeal and weirdness that might involve.

“I might be too strung out on compliments,
Overdosed on confidence.
Started not to give a fuck and stopped fearin’ the consequence.
Drinkin’ ever night because we drink to my accomplishments.
Faded way too long, I’m floatin’ in and out of consciousness.
And they sayin’ I’m back, I’d agree with that.
I just take my time with all this shit, I still believe in that.
I had someone tell me I fell off, oooh, I needed that.
And they want to see me pick back up, well, where’d I leave it at?”

9. It’s Time: Imagine Dragons

“And so this is what you meant, when you said that you were spent. And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit right to the top, don’t hold back. Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain check. I don’t ever want to let you down. I don’t ever want to leave this town, ‘cause after all, this city never sleeps at night.”

Returning to Nashville was easy. In so many ways, it was as if nothing had changed in the three years I had left. Everywhere I went, I saw so many of my old people. The same folks working at Kroger. My same ol’ UPS driver making deliveries. The same guys hanging behind the O’Reilly’s. The same bus driver of Bus 22. And, they hadn’t forgotten me. It was so very easy.

But, that also meant, it wouldn’t be easy to leave to start my new life in Johnson City.

And you know, it wasn’t.

“I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand? That I’m never changing who I am.”

But, Nashville was the reminder I needed about the person I really am. It reminded me of my strength and my confidence. I spent almost every day out with friends, laughing and dancing. I remembered what was it was to be Katherine. And not just in terms of my day-to-day life, but also in relationships. There were parts of myself that I minimized when I was in my last relationship. It wasn’t anyone’s fault really, but rather, a confluence of two very different people coming together. As I came to accept who I am, I really started to feel joyous. Because, I think there is nothing worse than not being yourself, the weird, little freaky bitch that you are.

10. Fight Song: Rachel Platten

The day I left Nashville for Johnson City, I made one last stop by the store. When I went to say goodbye to him, I started crying. It wasn’t necessarily about him, but, it was about leaving Nashville, leaving Germantown, leaving all the things that brought me so much comfort, and leaving all the things that brought me back to myself again.

And I was so scared. Like, really fucking scared.

Because he’s not a monster, he reached out to me once I arrived here. But I was inconsolable. I mean, he couldn’t offer the kind of support that I really wanted at the moment—which was just for someone to be here with me for the first night in this big ol’ house.

So, I decided to start unpacking. I cracked open a beer and turned on a pop music station. The very first song that played was this one. Sitting in the middle of an empty house, surrounding by boxes, and I broke the fuck down. I knew this was my moment. This was my chance to reclaim the life that I wanted. This was my chance to pick up the pieces. This was the moment it was all suppose to change. So, I cried my little eyes out and sang the song…and I remembered, I can do this. I’ve done it before. And so, it began…

11. Glorious: Macklemore

I haven’t listened to a ton of Macklemore, but I often heard his Can’t Hold Us on a pop radio station and absolutely loved it. So, when I saw he had a new album, I loaded it up on my phone before heading out for a run. I can remember running up Baxter Avenue, and this song came on. And I wanted to spin around right there in the street shouting that I felt glorious! Okay, maybe it was the runner’s high, but it fits pretty accurately with so many of the things I’ve been fighting for this year.

“You know I’m back like I never left,
Another sprint, another step.
Another day, another breath.
Been chasing dreams, but I never slept.
I got a new attitude and a lease on life,
And some peace of mind.
Seek and I find I can sleep when I die…
I feel glorious, glorious.
Got a chance to start again.
I was born for this, born for this.
It’s who I am, how could I forget?
I made it through the darkest part of the night.
And now I see the sunrise.
Now I feel glorious, glorious….
I’m feeling glorious.
The crib looking Victorian (oh yes it is),
You know that we been going in,
Since we hopped out that Delorean (Delorean, yeah, we win).
En garde, things are just things.
They don’t make you who you are.
Can’t pack up a U-Haul and take it with you when you’re gone.
We posted on the porch, my family’s glasses to the stars,
My grandma smiling down on me like woo, that boy got bars.
Okay, okay, yes I do.”

And then, there’s the part about his grandma. And in the countless other times I’ve listened to this song while out running, I always raise an imaginary toast to my grandma. After her passing, I can remember sitting on my mom’s porch with my family talking about all of our memories. And with everything I’ve done this past year, I know my grandma would be so very proud of me. I don’t got bars, but I got some guts to pick up and do this all over again, and she’d see that. She’d love to see me so happy, doing me.

12. Forever: Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem

“Last name Ever, first name Greatest.
Like a sprained ankle, boy, I ain’t nothin’ to play with…
Swimmin’ in the money, come and find me: Nemo
If I was at the club, you know I balled: chemo…
It may not mean nothin’ to y’all
But  understand nothin’ was done for me.
So I don’t plan on stoppin’ at all.
I want this shit forever, man.”

I mean, y’all, come on. If you don’t love Drake, you are clearly insane. Obviously, I’m in love with this man. I named a kitten after him. Wait, you knew that right? Regardless, this was also one of my favorite running songs. Just try it, you’ll run your ass off.

But it’s not just that. I suppose one reason it really appeals to me is again thinking about how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am, not just finishing a PhD from Vanderbilt, but more so, that I was able to work my ass off to find a job that put me back in the part of the world that I wanted to be. But it’s not just Drake’s verses, it’s also Lil’ Wayne’s.

“Life is such a fuckin’ roller coaster, then it drop.
But what should I scream for? This is my theme park…
I’m restin’ in the lead, I need a pillow and a cover,
Shhh, my foot’s sleepin’ on the gas,
No break pads, no such thing as last…”

And, Kanye’s…

“You would think I ran the world, like Michelle’s husband.
You would think these **** know me, when they really doesn’t.
Like they was down with the old me—no you fuckin’ wasn’t…”

But, my absolutely favorite line that always calls for me to say it out loud while I’m running is when Drake says:

“If you ain’t been a part of it, at least you got to witness….bitches.”

13. Say My Name: Tove Stryker

When you least expect it, someone new comes into your life. It’s always so fun meeting someone new. There’s all the getting to know each other conversation. There’s the endless conversations that seem to last all day and night. There’s the moment when you wake up in the morning and you are excited for the moment when they message: “Good morning beautiful.” There’s this whole world you start to create together, with your own language. So much that it starts to filter into your daily life, in your classroom, in your conversations with friends. And, you can’t wait to get home at the end of the day to fill them in on the funny things that happened in your day. Oh yeah, I got a serious crush. It’s not perfect, and there are some reasons that make it difficult, but he’s pretty fucking spectacular. I’m happy to have him in my life, to make me smile, to keep me laughing, regardless of what comes next.

“You said you ain’t the one to jump in a relation,
And I don’t mind, but when we touch it’s elevation.
Up, up, up, up, up.
Up, up, up, up, up.
You speak my lingo, we don’t need no translation.
I never need a break, ‘cause we feel like vacation.
Up, up, up, up, up.
Got me up, up, up, up, up.
Go ahead and feel what you feel.
I want you closer to me.
Say my name.
Wear it out like a sweater that you love,
‘Cause I can’t enough when you,
Say my name.
Spill it out like a drink you should have skipped.
You’re the one I wanna get when you,
Say my name.
Let it roll, let it roll off your tongue.
Let me know, let me know what you want…”

14. Well Whiskey: Bright Eyes

This one is just simply a no comment song. Only lyrics. That’s it. I can’t go there. I will say that I’m having a hot toddy with whiskey, so yeah, I’m drinking all peaceful and warm. Oh, and y’all, beware of those full moons.

“I get my whiskey from a well,
Except on holidays, then it’s the top shelf.
But tonight, I don’t mind if I spend a little more.
‘Cause you are a tolerant woman and the world is at war.

I know you witnessed my decline.
You used to push back the darkness like a floodlight.
Bu tonight that is a secret like the soul of a whore.
That if you want to have fun, you’ll just have to ignore.

Now let my troubles solve themselves.
I used to get involve but I’m just no help.
But tonight, let’s pretend that we are just like we were.
Let me stay until the morning, I will sleep on the floor.

And we can talk in circles, no dollar figures.
Just what is owed or paid.
And you can make predictions.
I know you see the future and I agree,
And we agree, tonight’s not happening.

When I got dry as a desert I got mean.
I was as lonely and empty as a canteen.
With no anesthetic, you are bound to be sore.
But tonight, I am drinking all peaceful and warm…

And we could make a timeline to last our whole lives,
But we don’t know—
But no one knows what’s further up the road
Just wait and see, just wait and see.
All in time, all in time.”

15. I Did Something Bad: Taylor Swift

For most of you that know me, you know I’m no stranger to the narcissists. It’s in my nature to be overly empathetic, which plays right into the hands of the narcissists. BUT, things are a little different these days. Maybe I’ve taken a play from their book.

“I never trust a narcissist, but they love me.
So, I play ‘em like a violin.
And I make it look oh-so-easy.
‘Cause for every lie I tell them, they tell me three.
This is how the world works.
Now all he thinks about is me.
I can feel the flames on my skin.
Crimson red paint on my lips.
If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing.
I don’t regret it one bit, ‘cause he had it coming.”

16. Up All Night (feat. Nicki Minaj): Drake

Did you really think I’d have a whole mix without Nicki? Absolutely not. So, the last song before we go into the mix wrap up…Also, I mostly named my kitten after Drizzy so I could chuckle at songs like this. Or, when I say things like: “Drizzy tried to get in the bath with me” or “Drizzy woke me up early.”

“Drizzy say get her, Imma get her.
I got the kind of money, that make a broke bitch bitter.
I got that kinda—wait, wait—fixate.
Which bitch, you know made a million off a mixtape?”

So, in conclusion…

17. Completely Not Me: Jenny Lewis

There’s so much of this song that fits the weird time period in which I had moved back to Nashville for the summer. As you’ve seen, it was a time period in which I was out of sorts. I was happy to be back in the South, but also a time in which I wasn’t sure what that meant for me. At the same time, I was navigating some complicated relationships. And, there were some moments. They weren’t the best. But at the same time, they set me on a very different trajectory…and like Kesha says: “Our scars make us who we are.” It needed to happen.

“I could’ve died that night,
Way back in June.
Saw my soul hang heavy above the room.
Slackjawed I confessed, bit by my hubris.
I was spooked out, obsessed by the moon.
I was completely not me.
But baby I’m coming clean.”

18. Praying: Kesha

Not only did I need to learn some lessons about myself, but I also needed to learn the lessons in my relationships, particularly in regards to my ex. When I first heard this song, I lost it. I sent it to him immediately. Because, as I started to realize how to move forward, this song had so much to say about our weird and fucked up unsolvable situation. And I wish him the best, I hope somewhere he’s praying and that he’ll find his own peace.

“Well, you almost had me fooled.
Told me that I was nothing without you.
Oh, but after everything you’ve done.
I can thank you how strong I have become.
‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell.
I had to learn how to fight for myself.
And we both know all the truth I could tell,
I’ll just say this as I wish you farewell.
I hope you’re somewhere prayin’, prayin’,
I hope your soul is changin’, changin’,
I hope you find you peace.
Falling on your knees prayin’.

I’m proud of who I am.
No more monsters, I can breathe again.
And you said that I was done.
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come.
‘Cause I can make it on my own.
And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known.
I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain…”

19. Liability: Lorde

I only heard this song in the last couple of days. When I first heard it, it obviously reminded me of him. I thought she was singing: “Says he made the big mistake of dancing in my store,” which incidentally reminded me of the first night we hung out and danced to a Rihanna song in the store. And then, how in the bitter aftermath of our relationship, I turned to the arms of the only love I haven’t screwed up. And yeah, I had another one of those running and ugly crying moments. At least for a moment, but in the next mile, the song sounded different to me.

In the last couple of weeks of this month, I’ve been really thinking through some of the lessons I’ve learned this year. And one is so much about prioritizing myself, and making sure I share myself only with people that also treat me as a priority. It’s about my expectations for myself, and for the relationships in my life. And that’s not just for the fellas, its for my lady friends too. In general, my goal as I move forward into the next year is to ensure that I don’t share myself with people who can’t be there for me.

“Baby really hurt me, crying in the taxi.
He don’t wanna know me.
Says he made the big mistake of dancing in my storm.
Says it was poison.
So I guess I’ll go home into the arms of the girl that I love.
The only love I haven’t screwed up.
She’s so hard to please, but she’s a forest fire.
I do my best to meet her demands, play at romance.
We slow dance in the living room, but all that a stranger would see
Is one girl swaying alone, stroking her cheek.
They say, “You’re a little much for me, you’re a liability.
You’re a little much for me.”
So they pull back, make other plans.
I understand, I’m a liability.
Get you wild, make you leave.
I’m a little much for everyone.
The truth is I’m a toy that people enjoy
‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore.
And then they are bored of me.
I know that’s it’s exciting running through the night.
But every perfect summer’s eating me alive until you’re gone
Better on my own.”

20. Good Old Days (feat. Kesha): Macklemore

Honestly, this song hadn’t made it to the mix. But I couldn’t bear to end the mix with Lorde’s sad sad song. That’s just not me anymore. And so, we have to uplift. So, y’all, remember this, relish in the joy of everyday, of the people in your life, of all the things ahead of you. Fuck. I sound like a motivational speaker. But truth, we never know what’s just around the bend. And I love the wrinkles around my smile, all of my scars, and the mess of the years that have come before.

“I wish somebody would have told me, babe.
Someday, these will be the good old days.
All the love you won’t forget.
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret.
Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change.
You’ll miss the magic of these good old days.

Wish I didn’t think I had the answers,
Wish I didn’t drink all of that flask first,
Wish I had made it to homecoming,
Got up the courage to ask her,
Wish I would’ve gotten out of my shell,
Wish I put the bottle back on that shelf.
Wish I wouldn't have worried about what other people thought,
And felt comfortable in myself.
Rooftop open, and the stars above.
Moment frozen, sneakin’ out, and fallin’ in love.
Me, you, and that futon, we’d just begun.
On the grass dreamin’, figuring out who I was.
Those good old days.

Never thought we’d get old, maybe we’re still young.
Maybe you always look back and think it was better than it was.
Maybe these are the moments.
Maybe I’ve been missin’ what it’s about.
Been scared of the future, thinkin’ about the past.
While missin’ out on now.
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud.
And I ain’t worried ‘bout the wrinkles ‘round my smile.
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around.
I’ve felt some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now…”