31 January 2015

In Memoriam of the Amazing Brad...

My mom and Brad with their two babies, Julius and Luigi.

Loss is not new to me. Not only have I lost several people very close to me in the early 2000's, but I lost my grandmother only a few years ago, and now, this week, we also lost Brad. Given my history of loss, I know what I need to do in order to properly grieve. Writing this blog is one of the ways that I do this. So, indulge me and celebrate the life of one of the most amazing people I have ever known-- that of, Brad Stafford, my mother's partner.

I can't lie. I'm still in shock. And I don't think it was until today that I fully realized what has happened. See, this wasn't expected. I was home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. And while I knew that Brad wasn't feeling great, I had no idea. None of us knew. We thought maybe he just wasn't feeling well. We had no idea that on merely two days after Christmas, we'd find out he had a very advanced cancer, one that would take his life in merely one month. And while cancer is never easy, it seems fucking unfair that we lost Brad within a month of his diagnosis. I'm pissed off that everything happened so fast. That this amazing and wonderful man disappeared from our lives so very quickly.

So, what can I say about Brad? Well, he was absolutely amazing. In the past week, my head has been haunted my memories of him. And those memories are mostly of him laughing, joking with my mother, dancing, telling me just how much he loves my mother. And, you know, this is the part that is the most painful-- while I loved Brad on my own, the most painful part is watching my mother deal with the loss of her life partner. Yeah, okay, he was her husband, but I continue to refer to him as her partner, because, that is what he was. He wasn't just a husband. He was her partner. He was her person.

The television station he worked for put together a tribute to him. I posted it online a couple of days ago. But I haven't been able to watch it until today. I just couldn't. And when I finally did, I let go of the strength that I've held onto for the past few days. They featured co-workers talking about him. His patience. His kindness. And they nailed it. That's Brad. He was kind. He was patient. And these are exactly the reasons he was perfect for my mother. This is what she needed.

When he fell in love with my mom, it happened quickly, for both of them. I knew nothing was ever going to be the same after that moment. Mostly, what I realized was that my mom was in love, she was with the person she was always destined to be with. He was kind to her, he was patient with her. He loved her in a way that I had never seen before.

There are so many memories, so many moments that flash through my head when I stop and think (which until tonight, I've tried to avoid). Actually, there are so many, it is hard to confine them to a few moments to convey to the rest of you. I remember my mom telling me about the first time the two of them every spent time together and she played Bright Eyes for him. I remember him on the Sims. I remember us driving out to Concord to hear some music in some really strange bars. I remember all those trips to see Bright Eyes in various cities and Brad talking to Conor, Mike, and all the great folks that play with those guys including Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. I remember all of those holidays together, I remember us all doing karaoke that one Christmas, I remember him always losing at Monopoly. I remember him dancing to Sir Mix-A-Lot. I remember us all sitting around listening to old country music. I remember showing him and mom different television shows and how he always questioned the validity of the show. I can still hear him saying, "Well, now, I don't think that is possible..." I remember him dancing with my best friend, Jennie Ann and her husband, Derek, during their first dance at their wedding reception. I remember me, him, and mom going to see Justin Townes Earle a few years ago. I remember how much he helped take care of my grandmother when she was dying. I remember him being contrary, very very contrary during all our fantastic discussions about social issues. I remember how him and mom *always* fell asleep five minutes into watching whatever show I was showing them...and I remember the exact look on Brad's face while he was sleeping. I remember him looking up the traffic and the weather reports. I remember his selflessness. I remember how from the very beginning, I realized, this man loves my mother so very much. I remember thinking how I would be lucky to find a person like Brad in my own life. And mostly, I remember how Brad welcomed me into his life. And it was all so very easy. One moment I didn't know him, and the next moment, he was someone I loved so very much.

Brad was one of a kind. One of the best kind. And I'll always treasure those moments, during the day while mom was at work, when Brad and I would sit across from each other at the table in the house and talk for hours. I would tell him about my work. He would tell me about what he discovered on the internet. We would spend hours sitting there together. Those are the moments I will miss the most, when it was just the two of us.






  

31 December 2014

The Year of a Buscabulla....A Year in Review, 2014

The Year of a Buscabulla....A Year in Review, 2014

"I've come to realize that we're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself to feel joy. So fuck it." -Amy, Her

"Don't know if we will survive your departure." -Robbie, President of Germantown

What can I say about "The Year of a Buscabulla?" I'm not quite sure. Mostly, there is so much I can't really tell you. Hence, the name of the year. But at the same time, there is so much. Too much almost. It was a whirlwind and I'm still trying to catch up.  One thing is clear, it has been one of the best years of my life. At the beginning of this year, so much was left unknown. I had no idea where I would be in the coming year. I had to say goodbye to way more than I wanted. There were so many new beginnings. But most importantly, there were so many wonderful people that coursed through the fabric of my life at any given moment. And because, the last song on the annual mix was this one, I wanted to share it again, because I want you all to know just how much I love you and thank you for all the wonderfulness that you bring into my life. So, cheers to another year to all of you and keep bringing all that joy to me in 2015, my darlings.



So, what were some of the highlights of this past year?

1. First and foremost (and obviously), one of the most important aspects of my past year has been Germantown, my old neighborhood in Nashville. 37208. I loved it so much, I had it tattooed on my forearm. Saying goodbye to it was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I'll never forget that morning when I drove away in the Penske truck on my way to Flagstaff. I felt as if I was leaving behind a huge part of my life.  And I was. However, I know it is always there with me, right next to me with all the memories.

And some of those memories...Gals of Germantown, 8th Avenue Market, the Rite-Aid folks, the Farmers Market, the Red Bicycle, The (Germantown) Cafe, 312 Pizza, City House, and all those really random nights at Silo (mostly, with the President of the neighborhood in tow). It sure was nice being the First Lady of Germantown for my last year. One of my goals in the new year is to put together my pictures from #28daysofgermantown, a hashtag I created for my final days in the neighborhood with the purpose of capturing everything I've always loved about the neighborhood. More to come on this one. And soon.

But yeah, Germantown, because I've never known a neighborhood so fucking fantastic.


2. Obviously, my career. I had the chance to present my work at the Young Scholars Social Movements Conference at Notre Dame and meet some of my scholarly heroes, I published my third article, I spent *most* of the year doing interviews on the job market (like, 13-14 phone interviews and two in-person interviews), I got a job offer (on April 23rd), I got a R&R on a collaborative article, I took a new job at NAU as an Instructor in which I've fallen in love with the department and students, I've continued to work on my dissertation (as time allows). One of the things that I can say about my career this year...I picked the right job. I love being back in the classroom. I remember while I was trying to decide about which job to take this past year, one of my mentors reminded me, "This is YOUR life," and it continues to ring true.

So, yeah, Sociology. You continue to rock my world.

3. I watched a shit ton of television. And I loved all of it. The list is incomplete, but some of my favorites this year: Sherlock, Doctor Who, Queer as Folk, OITNB, True Detective, Orphan Black, Gilmore Girls, American Horror Story, The Wire, Black Mirror...trust me, the list goes on and on.

4. "MARRY ME, PLEASE!" I realized in going through my last year that this statement originated from my New Year Day celebration with Ashley and Michelle from our watching of Valley of the Dolls. It happened here first. But then at the Capitol Street Festival in Germantown (see, I told you, it would come back again), it came to epic fruition with Russell. I don't think there was ever a moment when Russell and I didn't grasp one another in a huge hug and scream out, "Marry Me!" And, only a couple of weeks ago, when I was missing my friends in Nashville something awful, I got an audio message from Russell that said just this same thing, "Marry Me! Marry Me!" And Russell, in case you are wondering, the answer is YES!

5. All those late night conversations with Jennie Ann, Allison, and Carly. Ladies, y'all keep me sane.

6. Um, BASEBALL. The Sounds groundbreaking event in our neighborhood with Michelle, all those games with Michelle (like a ton of them), the #lastcheeratgreer, #mylastcheeratgreer, those crazy ballplayers, listening to baseball on the radio with Michelle on the stoop, listening to the games once I moved to Flagstaff and tweeting the game with Jeff, a trip to ABQ to see our guys play and well, and lastly, all those weird exchanges (ahem, buscabulla). ABQ, baby, ABQ. See y'all at spring training.

7. Finding my winter fashion. You know, the one that looks like a child put together my outfit.

8. Those Nashville rock shows. The Pixies with Anna, Allison, and Ryan; Neutral Milk Hotel with Erin; Tacocat with Allision; and Dave Dondero with Manny, Allison, and Heath.

9. My brother John's amazing wedding to Jessica in Mobile, Alabama.

10. Sam Favata. (I thought about specifying all the reasons why, but I think Sam just deserves one line that reads his name after his presence in my life this past year).

11. All those amazing out-of-town visitors to Nashville and Flagstaff. You know who you are darlings, Ian, Manny, and Bobby. Let's add more to the list for 2015. Yes, I'm looking at you, Jennie Ann, Allison, Ashley, Michelle, and Robbie. You heard me!

12. Sleepovers with Allison. Actually, all of my times with Allison. All the shenanigans. But mostly, when we would wake up in my bed after a long night, screaming to Igor or whomever else may be in the house. Our random and weird nights throughout the neighborhood and all of Nashville. That gal is one of a kind.

13. QDP. Not once, not twice, but maybe thrice. With all sorts of guests. With all sorts of pictures. With all sorts of shenanigans. And all the moments when I felt like Leslie Knope (I hope you get the joke, because pokerfacepokerface, I felt like it was true at the time).

14. #katherinesbestofnashville

15. My going-away party.

16. All the new friends I've met in Flagstaff, but mostly, the wine o'clock Friday celebrations with Marisa and the Wednesday Super Supper Club with Marisa, Michael, and Krystin.

17. Yvonne in Flagstaff...and all our wonderful conversation over bottles of Malbec and the foods.

18. Every single time I've remarked, "I really need a burner phone." Because, it is true. Trust me, for those of you in the know, I've got a collection. In fact, enough to make an entire calendar, or two.

19. Idris Elba.

20. The Flagstaff earthquake. Not to mention, the fact I thought it was simply Sabine running up the stairs in the apartment.

21. The amazing generosity of my friends and loved ones who helped me financially get to my new destination. You all were amazing and I still can't believe I raised enough money to get get me here. I couldn't have done it without you. Literally, I couldn't.

22. Robbie and our shenanigans. Every single one of them. The list. You know the one. I almost completed it. So close, but yet so far. And, always, walking home from Robbie's house and every single scar I brought home from those nights.

23. 8th Avenue Market. That weird show in East Nashville. QDP. Afterwards. An afternoon. Then, three afternoons. And the fact that, actually, if anyone has really been there for me since the move, it was you.

24. Silo. That weird and wild bartender, An-tony(!), the formerly Tiny Chef Larry Bird, and his hat, and all the other shenanigans that took place...including the many, many nights that we (as, in all of us in the neighborhood) ended up there with cheeseburgers and drinks.

25. All of you that have entertained my weird late night text messages.

So, I guess what I've learned from this year; if 2013 was about learning who I was, 2014 was about learning who I wanted to spend time with, because if anything, this year was about spending time with the people I love, every single one of you.

And on this last day of the year, I think forward to a new year and what that means. As the year comes to a close, I find my heart heavy with some potentially bad news. I can't help but try to think of the sun shining in my face and to relish all the joy of the people that I love. Here's to hoping for good news. And most importantly, as one of my loved ones said to me today, albeit in his broken English, "Forget it and start fresh new year."

So, to all of you, no matter what your year brought, forget it and start fresh new year.




21 December 2014

Conjectures: Katherine's 13th Annual Mix, 2014

 
Conjectures: Katherine's 13th Annual Mix, 2014

"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don't always spoil the good things and make them unimportant." -11th Doctor, Doctor Who

I don't know where to begin. I think it suffices to say that 2014 was a year of change and transition, or in a manner of speaking, a year of conjectures. As you are probably aware, the biggest transition was my move from Nashville to Flagstaff. After six years in Nashville, I packed up a truck and drove across the country to start a new life in a new place. And honestly, it has been bittersweet. It should come as no surprise that everything about this mix is tied to that moment, because if anything, 2014 was about that moment. From the seemingly endless job market to the official acceptance of a new position, this transition was woven into the fabric of my year. 

I can remember celebrating the New Year with Ashley and Michelle and all the lovely folks of the Germantown neighborhood, thinking, "This will likely be the last New Year we get to all spend together." And it became a joke (in that, every time I did ANYTHING, I said, "But, what if it is the last time?), but it always felt all too true. And then, one day, it was the last time.

 I plan to post my annual "A Year in Review" post closer to the new year; however, until then...here is the annual mix, complete with my typical banter about each song, some lyrics, and a few videos.

1. I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s Alright): Hurray for the Riff Raff
Unfortunately, I only happened upon Hurray for the Riff Raff in the last month. I say unfortunately, because I could listen to them 22 hours a day and never feel bored (or, as my students might write, “board”). As typical in my "end of the year lists," there is generally a  band that I’ve only just heard of that shapes the transition from one year to the next. I have no doubt that this is the band that will do this for me. Absolutely amazing. 


“The sun is laughing in my face, shining its light on my mistakes,
You could be my Adam, I’ll be your summertime,
I’ll feed you watermelon off the vine, I know it’s wrong, but that’s alright.”

2.     Head Underwater: Jenny Lewis
I suppose if I was going to have a theme song for 2014, it would be this one. It reminds me of the feelings I had about leaving Nashville and moving to Flagstaff. It reminds me of all the heartbreaks that implied. It reminds me of that one afternoon in July, when you stopped by after work, walked into my apartment, and we danced in the living room...although I knew we shouldn’t have been doing any of that. Or, when we sat at that bar in Albuquerque. Because, there’s a little bit of magic in all of you. Every single one of you. It certainly reminds me of many thing I knew I shouldn't have done, but I did. And I don't regret one single moment. Because all of these moments are beautiful, no matter how weird, complicated, awkward, and well, fleeting. 


“I’ve been wearing all black, since the day it started,
When I stopped and looked back, as my mind departed,
I’ve been losing sleep and I cannot sleep still
I’m not the same woman that you were used to...
There’s a little bit of magic, everybody has it,
There’s a little bit of sand left in the hourglass, 
There’s a little bit of magic,
Everybody has it.” 

3.     How: Regina Spektor
And, the heartbreak anthem. This one reminds me of 37208. It might be weird to dedicate a song like this to a neighborhood, but you know, I was in love with Germantown...and everything about it. And furthermore, it is hard to imagine ever loving a neighborhood and the people in it as much as I loved it. 



We will meet again somehow, my darlings. 

4.     Blue Eyes: Paul Baribeau
There’s miles in between, miles between… Yup, I can’t help it, but I miss you all the time, no matter the color of your eyes, my darling. 



5.     My Silver Lining: First Aid Kit
 If there ever is a song about my move, this is the one…


“I don’t want to wait anymore, I’m tired of looking for answers,
Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter,
I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow,
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no, I’ve got to go,
There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races one,
And you've just gotta keep on keeping on…” 

6.     Violent Shiver: Benjamin Booker
I mean, Benjamin Booker, come on. Have you heard him? Have you seen him?

  

7.     Today and a Lonely Night: Justin Townes Earle 
Y'all know I heart JTE. He will always be Nashville to me. After moving, it took me a couple of months before I could listen to any of his music. I would hear his voice and the sadness I felt about leaving the city behind was too much. But I remember one day, I was walking around Flagstaff listening to his latest album. And this song played and it reminded me of how much I miss and love about that town. But how, sometimes, we also need to move somewhere new to start over again. Always, knowing we'll be back some day.
 

“I’ve been thinking of going West, just to climb up as high as I can get...I know inside, I’ll find my way back to this city tonight, feel the ground shake as the train goes by and not a star in the sky…” 

8.     You Are Your Mother’s Child: Conor Oberst
To all the beautiful babies out there part of my life, particularly my nephew Emmett and niece Rowan. I love watching the two of you grow up. 


9.     Cold Hands: Ezra Furman
I’m pretty sure I’m incapable of making any mix without the past three artists; however, out of all of them, Ezra belongs on every single mix. And honestly, the sentiment with this one works. 


“No particular pleasure to measure up to the pain. I want to be held in your cold hands.”

10.  History Eraser: Courtney Barnett
 I don’t know anything about Courtney Barnett. She is one of those last moment additions, as I came across her music recently. I love EVERY SINGLE THING about this song. 

“I got drunk and fell asleep atop the sheets,
but luckily I left the heater on.
And in my dreams I wrote the best song that I’ve ever written,
Can’t remember how it goes. 
I stayed drunk and fell awake
And I was cycling on a plane 
and faraway I heard you say you liked me.
We drifted to a party—cool. The people went to arty school.
They made their paints by mixing acid wash and lemonade.

In my brain I rearrange the letters on the page to spell your name.

I found an Ezra Pound and made a bet that if I found a cigarette,
I’d drop it all and marry you.
Just then a song comes on: “You can’t always get what you want,” 
the Rolling Stones, oh woe is we, the irony..."

11.   Forgiven/Forgotten: Angel Olsen 
My love affair with Angel Olsen continues.



“If there’s one thing I fear, there’s one thing I fear is knowing you’re around, so close but not near, so close, but not with me here. So close, but not with me here.” 

12.  When I’m Gone: Caitlin Rose
Leaving behind the place that became your hometown is hard. Leaving behind your friends and family is hard. There is no doubt about that. But, I think another difficult part may be leaving behind people that you grew close to in the hectic months before your departure. You know, they aren't the ones that shaped the years you lived in the neighborhood, but rather, people you find yourself getting closer to, when you know better. And no matter how much you may try to keep distance, they come into your life so rapidly, right before you are leaving to start a new life somewhere else. But you throw caution to the wind. You try to soak up every moment, knowing the days are numbered. And more than that, you know that when you leave, they'll be but a fleeting memory of the hazy days when you use to run around that old neighborhood. 



“Thinking, I’ve been thinking about leaving this old town behind,
I’ll beg and borrow, to leave tomorrow,
Find all my sorry, and take it back.
Come on, you can sleep when I’m gone.
I was lying when I said there’s plenty of time…
Lying, I’ve been lying,
I’ve been lying around with the dogs in this town too long…”

13.  Tennessee: Gillian Welch
You didn’t think we could make it through this year’s mix without a song by Gillian about Tennessee, did you? 



14.  No One Else: Hurray for the Riff Raff 
I want to drink the red wine until our lips are stained purple and dance with you in the kitchen to this song. 


15.  Slippery Slopes: Jenny Lewis
Seriously, Jenny Lewis, get out of my head.


16.  My Dear Acquaintance: Regina Spektor
Happy New Year, my darlings. Cheers to another beautiful year, full of sunshine and joy. Keep those that you love close by and embrace every single beautiful moment. And is there a better way to end the annual mix than a cover of a Peggy Lee (is that all there is?) by Regina Spektor? 




Here's how to access the mix for your personal listening pleasure. There are several options:

1) Subscribe to the mix on Spotify. Here is the link: Conjectures: Katherine's 13th Annual Mix, 2014

2) Watch and listen all the songs on YouTube. Here is the link: Conjectures: Katherine's 13th Annual Mix, 2014

3) Or, if you'd like a hard copy of the mix and/or cover art, send me a message via email/Face/tumblr with your address and I'll send you a copy for the holidays.

16 June 2014

June 16. Song of the Day. The Living and the Dead: Dave Dondero.



June 16. Song of the Day. The Living and the Dead: Dave Dondero.

"Got a scrambled heart, it's a little over cooked
Got a novel full of wishes missing from your book
There's no insurance in this life
No protection from the night
Too many rules and no direction
You walk under a knife
It's just this temporality, creating fleeting moments
If your lacking in permanent
You better make your moment potent..."

Today, this one feels perfect today. All this temporality, make all those moments potent, folks.

June 15. Song of the Day. Fade Into You: Au Revoir Simone.




June 15. Song of the Day. Fade Into You: Au Revoir Simone. 

15 June 2014

June 14. Song of the Day. Shoop: Salt-N-Pepa


June 14. Song of the Day. Shoop: Salt-N-Pepa

Last night was certainly one for the record books. We started with dinner and drinks at Silo with Ian, Ashley, and Michelle. Then, we ran into Robbie and Alan. And, luckily we were able to convince Allison to come back out to join us. We closed out Silo, before heading to the Queer Dance Party over on the East side. There was loads of dancing, karaoke, and laughter. And it became abundantly clear to me that if I was ever to do karaoke, it would have to be this song, and only this song. I'll never forget dancing my butt off surrounded by this fantastic group of people on a random night in June.


14 June 2014

June 13. Song of the Day. Perfect Day: Lou Reed


 
June 13. Song of the Day. Perfect Day: Lou Reed

This one has been stuck in my head since last night when it played on the jukebox at The Villager. And now, it will forever remind me of that wild and crazy night with Ashley, Allison, and Ian.

11 June 2014

June 11. Song of the Day. Epilogue: The Antlers.




June 11. Song of the Day. Epilogue: The Antlers.

This song reminds me of you, when both of us were less steady and the pull of gravity was so strong we fell to the ground often. While it may sound romantic in retrospect, it wasn't. In fact, it was tragic. And luckily, we both made it through those times to find something much more fulfilling.

A life full of stability and thoughtful choices and purpose. That is romantic to me.

"In a nightmare, I am falling from the ceiling into bed beside you.
You're asleep, I'm screaming, shoving you to try to wake you up.
And like before, you've got no interest in the life you live when you're awake.
Your dreams still follow story lines, like fictions you would make.

So I lie down against your back, until we're both back in the hospital.
But now it's not a cancer ward, we're sleeping in the morgue.
Men and women in blue and white, they are singing all around you,
with heavy shovels holding earth.
You're being buried to you neck.
In that hospital bed, being buried quite alive now.
I'm trying to dig you out but all you want is to be buried there together.

You're screaming,
and cursing,
and angry,
and hurting me,
and then smiling,
and crying,
apologizing."


And if you are interested, you can The Antlers newest release on NPR's First Listen.

10 June 2014

June 10. Song of the Day. Harry Nilsson: Coconut.




June 10. Song of the Day. Harry Nilsson: Coconut. 

The past couple of weeks, I've been fighting off some type of illness. So, yesterday, when I realized I'm getting dangerously close to having a throat so swollen I won't be able to eat, I made an appointment to see my doctor at Student Health. No, I won't stand for not being able to eat.

On my way out of the office, Dr. Hanson, my doctor, realized this was likely (and hopeful, in the case of this illness) the last time we would see each other. She wished me luck in Flagstaff. She told me to stay in touch. And then, she opened her arms and gave me a hug.

I guess not everyone has this type of relationship with their doctor, particularly at a clinic on campus. But Dr. Hanson and I go way back. She was the first doctor I saw at Student Health. I remember walking in there in substantial pain from what later was dubbed, Carl the Carbuncle. He was a somewhat stubborn clogged boil or something of the sort located in my armpit. Yeah, sexy, right? In my mind, he was humongous. But Dr. Hanson, calmly, eased me through the bludgeoning of Carl. She was kind and gentle and firm. I had to go back daily for almost two weeks to change out the bandages and so we got to know each other quite well.

She also helped me through the whole "heart skipping a beat" debacle and "sensitive nose" situation. She never judged me for coming in once every six months for a round of HIV/STD testing, but rather praised me for being a conscientious patient. And, thankfully, she always kept an eye on my mental well-being as related to my physical health. When she noticed I lost 30 pounds in the summer of 2011, she asked me about it. We went through a series of blood tests to find out if I had any related problems, like with my thyroid. When I rebounded those 30 lbs and then some, I shyly made a little joke about it, she said, "Well, that was a really rough summer for you, wasn't it? It is good you are back at your normal weight."

Cheers to Dr. Hanson, who will likely never read this, but yet, I felt the need to pay tribute to her...particularly given that hug today. I'm grateful.