Thursday, March 26, 2009

Law & Order: PTU

{Deep throaty voice of Narrator}

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the battle on parking violators is enforced by a super ninja troop known as the Parking Ticket Unit. This is just one of their many, many, many stories.

{Cue the widely recognized double note}

Boom -- Boom

{As the scene opens we see Jenn & Matt getting out of their vehicle on Mass Ave in Cambridge one sunny Saturday afternoon. It is winter, let’s just say early February. They have parked almost directly in front of the hardware store which they intend on patronizing momentarily. Jenn walks a few cars down the block to locate a path leading up onto the sidewalk; Matt traverses the two foot high snow mound on the side of the road and goes directly to the meter to insert the four quarters which will buy them an hour in the store.

The couple enters the store and improvisational conversation with the clerk ensues regarding the most efficient and financially viable solution for hinges for their newly constructed entertainment center doors. They acquire the items and make their way back to their vehicle only to find a ticket on the windshield.}

Jenn: What the fuck?

Matt: Oh crap, here we go.

Jenn: Tell me we ran out of time?? Just try to! I know we put in enough money and this ticket was left almost ten minutes ago. Freaking give me a break!

{Matt exits vehicle to look at meter as Jenn continues to scream obscenities inside the car}

Matt: Yeah there’s three minutes left.

{Jenn takes the camera she always carries out of her purse and hands it to Matt}

Jenn: Here, take a freaking picture. I am so fighting this. Like it’s my problem the freaking Meter Maid couldn’t climb over the snow bank to see there was still time left. Whatever…..

{The following Monday morning we see Jenn completing the form on the City of Cambridge website to fight her ticket.

Cut scene to three weeks later at the mailbox when Jenn retrieves the notice indicating that although they have received her reasons they are continuing to enforce said ticket.}

Jenn: Improvisational cursing for upwards of five minutes. Light under breath mumbling having something to do with “But I FED the meter!”

{A montage of images ensue (to speed through time), while “Everybody Hurts” by REM plays in the background -- we see Jenn sign the notice to request a hearing, receipt of the Hearing date notification, the printing of proof photographs, selection of her most responsible looking outfit, ironing of her shirt on the morning of the hearing and placing enough quarters in her pocket to feed the meter for three hours as she slips on her sun glasses and walks out the door}

Jenn: I don’t want to do this. Is it too late to just pay the twenty five dollars?

Matt: Yeah.

Jenn: It hit me in the shower this morning, although I have bailed friends out of jail on numerous occasions, I have never once stepped foot inside an actual courtroom. What if it is nothing like they make you believe it is? Am I going to have to talk to a judge way up on some freakishly high throne? What if it’s a dude and I call him Sir instead of Your Honor? Can they just throw me in jail for that? I’m very nervous. Why shouldn’t I change my mind and just pay the stupid money to not go through all this nerve wracking stress?

Matt: {Attempting to hide his amusement at Jenn’s recoculous rant but only moderately succeeding} Because if this was me you would never let me get away with not fighting it.

Jenn: {An audible sigh can be heard} You’re right.

{The camera cuts to the Cambridge City Hall Annex building. The scene is filmed from way low to the ground looking up the side of the red brick structure giving the appearance of a giant, imposing building. As the camera pans out we see it is only two stories and looks like nothing more than an old time school house.

The couple enters the building; Jenn continues to ramble on in a nervous blubbering rant about filling the meter outside this building. Matt remains almost uncharacteristically quiet. They approach the man behind the numbered windows.}

Jenn: {In a tone of a question as if it is still unbelievable to imagine what is about to occur} I have a hearing scheduled.
Man: Just stand over by that water fountain and she will come out and get you.

{Jenn is called to enter the Hearing Office and as she enters we see it is nothing more than a booth with a door; the space is smaller than a cubicle. One seat is provided and we are looking at the back of a monitor but there is nothing else in the space other than stark white walls, a counter top with an embedded pen and the PTU Official}

PTU: Please sign your name on this sheet. {Passes sheet} Now what is the reason you are fighting this ticket?

Jenn: Well I put money in the meter but got a ticket anyway. Here are the pictures showing I still had three minutes left.

PTU: Was there any discrepancy between the meter you put money in and the meter on the ticket?

Jenn: No, not that I was aware of.

PTU: Is this your car in the picture.

Jenn: Yup, that’s me.

PTU: OK see it is supposed to line up with your front bumper, not the rear bumper because it’s a single meter. See here in the system {spins the monitor outward} the Ticketing Official made a note that money was put into the meter at the same time the ticket was being issued. I think you were putting money into the meter for the person behind you and someone came and parked in front of you then made the same mistake while she was ticketing you.

Jenn: {A genuine look of shock passes across her face and we see her shoulders sag ever so slightly as she realizes she will be giving up twenty five dollars in a matter of minutes} Oh.

PTU: Just so you know for the future really. Don’t worry, I’ll dismiss this one, you’re all set.

Jenn: {contemplating requesting a hug} Oh, my, oh really? Thank you so very much!

PTU: No problem, have a nice day.

Jenn: {still in shock} Absolutely, you too. Thank you again!

PTU: {sensing there might be a request for a hug} Can you tell the next person to come in here now?

{Cut to a close up shot of Jenn and Matt bursting through the revolving door; they have huge smiles. The camera pans out from an across the street view and we see leaping dancers, ribbons wildly being shaken in the sunshine, ballerinas spinning, a big huge rainbow, the words “JOY” and “HAPPINESS” being painted on a huge canvas in the background of puppies, laughing babies and the sounds of “Come On, Get Happy” by The Partridge Family plays in the background.

The final shot is Jenn looking at the car parked right out front with thirty five minutes left on the meter and turning to give a thumbs up to Matt.}

Friday, March 20, 2009

Williams Street

When I was almost twenty years old my life had come to an interesting impasse and I was forced to make a few very difficult decisions in a relatively quick time frame. As I look back on those days now I do nothing more than chuckle, grin slyly and thank whatever greater force brought all of those experiences into my life because I would in no way be where I am now without having had them.

Just a couple days before my birthday in June of that year, my mom kicked me out of the house. In the six or so months prior to that day, many things in my life had changed and that moment was the proverbial straw everyone talks about; the world seemed to cave in and then explode back outward as if an entirely new universe was born. And it was. Life seemed to check and balance itself in a most peculiar way; intertwining moments one might call fate.

I was going to college full time back then and working part time at a record store while I lived at home. A few of my friends and I were commuting everyday to a community college in the area, working towards our Associates degrees (which we all planned to apply towards a Bachelors at the four year university of our choice upon completion). School and I were never ideal bedfellows so I felt uncomfortable most of the time I was there despite the 3.8 GPA I was carrying. I had no idea what I wanted to do however so college appeared to be the only way to go. Hell, everyone else was doing it. Everyone I knew went to school the fall following graduation but I waited until the following January to start since I was so unsure about going at all; I only made it through three semesters, and only two with that killer grade point average, as the following year everything changed.

My grandfather passed away late winter the following year and it affected me hard because he was the first of my grandparents to have died. He had suffered the effects of Alzheimer’s and since it was my first experience with the disease I had no idea what it was all about; it saddened me that he no longer had any idea who I was and I felt uncomfortable visiting him at the nursing home because of it. Around the same time frame a very close friend of mine joined the Army and although Desert Storm was over, I was extremely nervous for him (sadly the Army effected him so much that he was never the same jovial guy he had been before joining). In addition to both of these things I was seeing someone who even I knew I should not have been with.

After my grandfather passed away, my school work started to suffer; I withdrew from a couple classes and those I decided to stay in I dedicated little or no time to. I wanted to get out and live, to remember that I was a young person, to have fun. I met some fantastically spirited people and began what would be many years of drifter partying. Some of these people came attached to my then boyfriend, some to the collegiate experience and some I have no recollection how they came to be but boy was I glad they showed up.

Once my grades plummeted that was pretty much the end of living at home, my mom gave me two days to leave. Happy birthday to me. My aunt let me crash for a week while I frantically tried to find somewhere I could afford to live on my tiny paycheck.

I have absolutely no idea how we had met, if we knew someone in common, or why either of us were even at the school the day we chatted since it was summer break but for some reason right around this time period, Keith came into my life. I distinctly remember sitting on the radiator in the hallway between the cafeteria building and the courtyard as we discussed the fact that he was looking for a roommate and the rent was $200. Even on my teeny salary I knew that was a doable figure and within a week I was moving the small number of items I had into the second bedroom of 18 Williams Street.

Keith was an energetic guy and always full of humor and life. We clicked instantly because we were both just crazy enough to be normal; on some freakish cosmic level I think we knew we had to be friends. He was a great friend who put up with my (to put it kindly) less than stellar boyfriend, crazy friends, polar opposite musical taste, late rent payments and complete distaste for washing dishes but he never, and I mean never, judged me for it. Well at least not to my face.

From the outside, the house was just like any other house in Arlington -- single family, colonial style box with brown siding and concrete stairs -- but inside that house memories were made that never in my life will I ever forget. Then again I may have already forgotten most of them, since it was my first apartment with an older roommate and I was just about to enter my twenties -- that place was party central.

If someone passed by the house on a Friday night and there was not a party going on it may have made them question who was sick or out of town. In fact that question could have occurred on any random night of the week that the cops didn’t knock to tell us to turn the music down. There was always someone there, something going on. The best times though were the ones when after a crazy night of partying everyone had passed out wherever they fell but Keith and I (and frequently Derek, my sister and a few other very close friends) would have made it through the whole night so we chatted quietly with a cup of coffee as the sun came up and we watched it rise through the big bay window with the blue curtains. The one that always had that “keep winter out” plastic attached to it. Of course just like anything, it was never meant to last forever.

Since that time I have lived with a lot of people, some romantically, some as roommates, as well as in a few places on my own and now with Matt, but there was something so completely magical about my first place out of my mom’s house that none of the other situations since have been able to come close to matching. After about a year with Keith I ended up getting work as a live in nanny and moved out of Arlington and into a room in the family’s house in Brookline. In an almost symbolic act, the Williams Street house was sold and the new owners tore it down to build a monstrous McMansion duplex. I am glad that the times there will never be able to be replaced and that the house as it was back then will live on in my memory through photographs never fit to print.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Love Handles of Steel

This past weekend was a seventy two hour period when everything seemed to go completely awry, but in that good way. It was one of those miraculous events I pray will happen all the time but never actually expect it to -- a completely unintended “selfish” weekend. But wait, let me back up for a second.

For some unknown reason Matt and I had plans booked from Friday night through Sunday this past weekend, something I really dislike because then it feels like there is no time to just be, but one of the things we had really wanted to complete was the final installation of the entertainment center; with so many plans scheduled however that was seeming more and more like a lost cause as the week drew to a close. (If you do not already read my other blog GLR please at least check out the final “Free Furniture” installment for details on this hilarity)

A Tarot card reading and playing Rock Band with our nephews were on the table -- both extremely fun endeavors -- but starting on Thursday evening, the onion known as our weekend started to lose its layers.

My Evil Stepmother (disclaimer for new readers: this is what she calls herself, she is actually quite awesome) emailed me to let me know that her friend who does the readings had come down with the flu and was not going to be able to make it after all. We would have to reschedule.

The outer skin of Friday night was stripped so we had a nice quiet evening at home amongst the clutter of unfinished furniture and tiny pieces of rock salt we had been unable to vacuum up for what felt like months due to loss of traffic paths. But since I could do nothing about the cluttered mess that night, I jumped on the computer and there was another message waiting for me.

Melissa was concerned because -- W had a fever and did not seem so well, would we be around in the morning to chat about it, maybe we should just reschedule to be safe. Wow, two for two just peeled off all of Saturday’s layers as well.

Wait a minute, for real? All of our plans just got proverbially trash-canned so now we can get our house back together again? Ecstatic was not a grand enough emotion to express how happy I was to be blown off, it was time to take full advantage and do all the things we have been wanting to do for ourselves but have not made time to get done. Hence the inadvertent “selfish” weekend.

I should be fair and say that it is not as if I do not want to see people or spend time with family or friends, truly I love hanging out and would not make the plans in the first place if it was something I did not want to do but when I envision another full week of living in my literal house of chaos, it elates me to no end when suddenly the time needed to de-clutter makes itself available. I love how things work out sometimes (although not the reasoning of a sick friend or nephew, that sucks and I hope they both feel better very soon).

Matt has been talking about getting himself a bike for some time now because it would greatly reduce his commute stress and also get to work on that growing gut that, just like my ass, magically seemed to appear one morning. He is not a picky guy and does eventually want to get back to the level of mountain biking he used to do but for now he would be happy with a bike that can safely get him to and from the subway station on the other side of town without having to endure the odorific adventures of the bus. With Saturday plan free we hit the road early to acquire him all the assorted gear he would need for getting started. He skipped the basket though which I am sure some of you will understand the reasoning behind.

Then we came home to our 600 square foot apartment filled with half built furniture and spewed tools…with a bike to add to the bedlam. Super. This required drastic measures.

So we decided to just get out for a while and finish up the list of stuff we had planned before we trapped ourselves inside with screwdrivers, hinges, hardware and a whole lot of cursing. It is not considered procrastinating if you still fully intend to complete the task. And after all, it was in the mid fifties, sunny and only about eleven in the morning. We hit the grocery store, my favorite sub shop over in Malden, Ace Hardware and the library. Not necessarily in that order but the stop I was most excited about was the library.

One of these days I will tell the story about living in Springfield before construction was complete and how two people and a cat really can survive with no kitchen, two outlets for 1500 square feet, barely a bathroom and only a half finished bedroom with a 10” television as the only source of entertainment, but today is not that day. Suffice to say the library became a necessary requirement for computer access as well as a wonderful escape from squinting at a shiny box of static. This past weekend I felt the same way about the advantages of the library as we acquired our first card in well over four years and both walked out with something interesting to absorb.

It felt exhilarating like I was doing something secretive -- I walk into this great big limestone structure and without spending a single penny come out carrying a hardcover and a full book on cd lesson in French. Cool. They even ask you to whisper inside, further enhancing the mysterious vibe. Since that was our last stop and Matt had most of the entertainment center duties for a while, I got to reading Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (the guy who brought us The DaVinci Code) because the movie is coming out soon and judging from experience with his other novel, I wanted to finish the book first.

I forgot how much I enjoy reading. I got through about a third of the 600 page book that day. The library is going to be seeing a lot of me.

With the furniture debacle behind us as the glorious sun rose on Sunday morning, Matt could finally put his bike together to go for a ride and I could get busy on reducing apartment anarchy. He went to time the ride to the subway and I pulled out the vacuum and a new filter. No one should ever be this excited to sterilize. Put it this way, if cleaning the house were an Olympic sport I would have medaled in gold yesterday. I even dusted the dust. After Matt got back we just kind of hung out and soaked up the last of the warm Sunday sun.

And then I inhaled a deep breath of clean, fresh, spring air as my blood flow slowed back down to the nice relaxed state it pumps at when my world is back in order. Man, I can not wait to start the next project.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You Got a Double Sided Lexicon

Much like the infamous Legally Blonde quote when Elle is making her Harvard Law admissions video:
“I’m comfortable using legal jargon in every day life. [hears whistling], I object!”,
I have found that on many occasions lines, titles from songs or popular catch phrases come tumbling out of my mouth before I have a chance to stop myself.

This morning my Aunt mentioned that her body clock is out of whack due to a couple reasons. There was the daylight savings time change last weekend and that would not be so bad on its own but she is also a nurse who has been working some overnight shifts of late. When I was responding to her musing I asked “When is your next day off that you can just sleep all day?” It flowed so well, so easy to type. I was hitting the comment button before it even registered what I was saying but this got me thinking yet again about pop culture and the influence it has on our speech.

(Is there a support group called “People who like using titles of Jason Mraz songs in everyday speech”? Perhaps I should start one. I guarantee I could recruit this cool chic. Probably this one, or this one too. And I am quite sure there are others lurking out there.)

But I digress…

I have written about this before, last year when my five year old nephew called me Auntielicious I decided to delve into this very topic. Now I want to know, where does it end? Is there no stopping us?

Over the past week I have seen more Axe hair product commercials using the latest catch word “gelmet” than I care to admit. The word means a hairdo that is so over gelled it is sticky-shiny looking, hard and will not move, much like a helmet. The word is so new and hip that MS Word is telling me it is misspelled and suggesting I go with ‘gimlet’ instead. Perhaps Word should automatically link up with the Urban Dictionary since words are turning over so fast and furious that they will send a new one to your Inbox daily if you choose to sign up. Yes, daily; 365 new pop culture words a year to further dumb down society.

Cover songs, the twelve installments of the Friday the 13th movies, leg warmers, yoga, song sampling and an ever growing list of revived things prompts me to ask if anyone has an original thought or idea these days? Words and phrases that are here one day and gone the next, only to be revived when it is appropriate to go “old school”. Geez, even old school is old school now. What are the kids saying these days; I can not seem to keep up.

I pride myself on being original -- a person who does what she wants, writes what she wants, thinks how she wants -- but how much of me is actually unique when I find myself uttering pop culture crap all over the place so often? Have I fallen victim to the mass media marketing vehicle and become another of its unsuspecting cult members or do I simply use available jargon to emphasize my own, distinctive points?

In order to stay true to myself and continue to develop the not so usual personality inside, I have been writing a lot of poetry lately. I read David’s blog the other day and he mentioned something similar which made me smile knowing all of us writers tend to go through cycles. I like the prose cycle, it helps me work out a lot of the questions that bounce around the corners of my brain in the fewest possible words. In case anyone missed it, I tend to be fairly loquacious most of the time so poetry is my way of describing in a couple hundred words what would have taken me 2000 when written as a story. And it is a rare thing indeed to find even one word of slang in my prose. How do you like them apples?

So in the spirit of my resurgence of poetic proclivity I am assembling a book of the stuff. To really make the project unique I have asked my Mom to share some of her photography so we are going to be going at this project together. Her photos will inspire my words and vice versa. I have a lot of projects going on in the realm of words these days from this blog to Green Leaf Reviewer to a very character driven novel that is ambling along nicely but this collective of the visual world as seen through my Mom’s pictorial eye and my take on the world as read in verbiage is probably the most exciting project I have worked on in many years.

And not a single hint of pop lingo will be present.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Out of Sight Out of Mind

My apartment is only about 600 or so square feet so it has become an art form trying to keep the “stuff” in it to the bare minimum of essentials, not to mention locating the perfect place to store what does come into this space. There are five rooms including the bathroom and although I would ideally love about another 200 square feet, this size is actually not too bad most of the time. It only bothers me when the chaos in my house starts sinking into my mind and I want to throw everything away. Like today for example.

I am a person who likes things to be clean and orderly; there is a place for everything -- after I am done using something it lives in its home until the next time I need it. Right now I am busy working on top coating all the parts and pieces of the behemoth entertainment center Matt built out of free pallet wood and scrap plywood (in fact we only spent about $70 on this entire thing including hinges, hardware, paint & lumber). The thing is massive but everything is flat and the doors and shelves come off so one might think it would be quick to paint; one would be wrong.

Here is the piece in its finished state prior to Matt attaching the doors. This is before it came home to meet my mini roller and paint tray.

Top section will hold speakers on either of the ends, whatever in the 2 middle sections. Middle section -- random knick knack stuff in the small left side shelves, TV in the largest opening, components on the right. Bottom section will have slide out shelves and is meant to house media (all our cd’s and dvd’s are in books for maximizing storage space but since we still live in the dark ages we do still own a bunch of video tapes too). I assure you, something gets lost in the translation because this thing is huge. By huge I mean taller than me; let’s just say I will not be the one dusting the top of this sucker once it’s installed.

So Matt took it apart and he and B moved it out of their basement and into our very small apartment about a week ago. It needed a bit of wood fill on screw holes and general imperfections (on the pallet wood especially) then I sanded it down and was ready to paint.

Since the top piece is so convoluted with shelves and spaces, it made its way up onto risers so I would have more space to work around it. Unfortunately the height of the permanently installed shelves is pretty short and sadly there was just no way to get a roller into some of them so most days I have had an arm full of paint from using the brush.

Because I did not want to do 400 coats of the dark chocolate brown color we chose, I went with a deep grey primer and sealer. Free advice people, anything really dark (reds, purples, navy blue, forest green, etc.) is so much easier to paint final coats when using grey primer as opposed to white. And generally speaking the shelf grey is cheaper than a tinted primer too. But I digress…

Painting the doors and shelves was an interesting challenge because my third drop is somewhere at my Dad’s house so I had to improvise by strategically placing them on elevated surfaces all over the house, like the side of a chair or my tool caddy. Luckily there are only six doors and two shelves because this is substantially adding to the messy feeling everywhere.

Insert my hysterical cackling. Paint fumes could have something to do with this of course. Good thing it is water based paint and varnish or we would really be in trouble.

Watch in awe as the vein on the side of my head simply pops next time I trip over a brown door as I try to get into a room other than the living room!

So now I am waiting for the top coat to dry so Matt can attach the hardware tonight, flip this enormous piece so I can do the underside (it will be visible when the lower section doors are open) and then secure the pieces together before placing this baby where it belongs, thus allowing for a vacuum to roam freely throughout this house again. I can not wait to breathe clean air.

Silver lining? The house will feel huge after this is installed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Out of Your Depth

I stumble in slightly distracted
Trying to get my bulky keychain into my bag,
I am not really irritated but mumble a sigh
As I fumble with, myself.

My eyes adjust and observe
The shop is not crowded,
Light floods in the front windows
And shadows lay peacefully
Jutting out from odd angles
Past the legs of chairs.
I hurry through them
In a race to greedily gulp down
The pleasant smell of bitter, roasted beans.

But even in my clumsy haste,
Just inside the door,
I catch sight of a well rounded shoulder
Defining an easy white cotton shirt.
My subconscious runs down the arm attached
And comes to a gentle hand.
Lightly rest on the rim of a coffee cup.

I continue on,
Your head is down as you read
But your energy mists over me on the way to the counter
As if it is a spritz of fragrance
Hanging in the air just waiting for me to pass.
All six of my senses perk.

I step to the right to retrieve my own mug
And feel that you have moved.
I turn.
You close your book and stand.

As our eyes meet for the first time
Your cologne
Fills my goofy grin.
And I do not notice
As coffee spills on my shoe.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

15 Albums that Changed My Life

Lately it seems there is a new Note circulating every day on the social networking sites. For those of you who do not frequent sites like Facebook, Notes are useless informational pieces of drivel that allegedly allow the writer to share countless bits of trivia about themselves and then tag other friends who feel pressured into writing up their own version of the same irrelevant crap.

I say all this in jest of course because, just like silly blog tags, I find most of them impossible to resist.

Today’s version asks all of us to: “Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dig into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazoo, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean.” This list could never be complete at just 15. I am a huge music person, every album or song I’ve ever heard has totally effected me, shaped my life. There is a movie called High Fidelity where at one part after a bad breakup John Cusack’s character reorganizes his record collection autobiographically, this is an intriguing idea to me because music goes with every moment of my life. So here are my selections in completely random order of some of the more profound memories I have and what record might have been playing at the time those memories were created.

1. Ride the Lightning - Metallica. This cassette played so often I had to buy 2 new tapes when they snapped. Generally it broke somewhere around "Fade to Black". I have no idea how my Mom didn't think I was suicidal with the number of times I listened to that song in high school.

2. Appetite for Destruction - Guns N Roses. Pretty much the same situation as #1, except my mother could not have had a clue what the words were or I never would have been allowed to listen to this I'm sure. I could do the Axl heroin sway like nobody's business.

3. All 9 Barry Manilow albums released between 1973 and 1982. I can't even begin to describe the fun weekend mornings when we all used to dance around the living room on that pea green carpet on Magnolia Street singing into fake microphones. I still hold firm that Barry is one of the best songwriters around. Years later when I worked for a record company that sold concert tickets I got sixth row seats for me & my mom to see him live. One of the best shows I have ever been to in my entire life.

4. Whitesnake - Whitesnake. How the record needle did not dig holes all the way through & out the other side is beyond me. I still get chills when I hear "Still of the Night". This album was all about weekends in my room at our new house trying to sing like David Coverdale. That man could rock the socks off of any singer back then.

5. Hangin' Tough - New Kids on the Block. This album pretty much epitomizes an entire era of my life, which admittedly did include all their albums but this was really the one that sparked it all. The stupid dorky jokes, growing out of childhood and into adolescence, countless stories, and bonds that could never be broken is what this album means to me.

6. Thriller - Michael Jackson. This album is single handedly responsible for introducing me to the worlds of funk, soul, brass and a very healthy respect for all things Motown. I was 9 when it was released and likely had no clue what half of the songs were even about but from that moment on I fell in love with any male artist who could pull off falsetto.

7. Waiting for My Rocket to Come - Jason Mraz. In mid 2002 we bought a rehab house out in western Massachusetts and just after that, this album made its way into the stores. I bought it the day it went on sale, his groove was infectious on "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)". Come spring of 2003, we were broke and I was working on the house alone most days in a place where I knew no one and did not speak the predominant language of the geographic location. I don’t know if it is possible to begin to explain how this album saved my soul during an entire year of home improvement.

8. The Goonies Soundtrack. My pre teen years are wrapped up in this movie, soundtrack, actors and longing for adventure. The songs aren't particularly fantastic or amazing but it was about what the time period represented -- friends and afternoons playing movies in Karen's backyard, buying teen magazines and fantasizing what it might be like to be an actress living in LA, trying to hold onto innocence and what it meant to be growing up and changing.

9. Ten - Pearl Jam. My first apartment, keg parties every Friday night, Derek and I dancing in the living room, séances and ghost stories, Marie stealing my camera, the Apollo, creating fake inspection stickers that looked real, stealing cheese wizz and getting free chicken from KFC with the help of a hair brush, working at Coconuts, Marlboro Reds and warm beer, watching the sun rise, running out of oil, MCC and Aerosmith at top volume. Good times.

10. Crash- Dave Matthews Band. Wow, where to even begin. This album came out at a time when I was greatly in need of breaking out of the hard rock haze I had trapped myself in for way too many years. It was my transition album for many things -- music, relationships, living situation, friends. Whenever I feel like it is time to change a big part of something in my life I always fall back to this album and smile.

11. III - Led Zeppelin. The time and place when I started listening to this album is something I have to save for my memoirs and if I never write them then it will simply fade into the great big crock pot of the Universal cosmos with me forever. "Tangerine" remains to this day my favorite Zeppelin song and every time I hear it I definitely get misty for the time and place and what it all meant.

12. Reckless - Bryan Adams. It would be hard to top winning tickets on Kiss 108 to see him live at Worcester Centrum and having my dad drive me & my sister all the way out there so we could go and rock out at such a young age. That night was one of the best ever. This album will always remind me of Wendy and how much fun we used to have listening to all kinds of music in our tiny little bedroom together, making up silly dances or changing lyrics to goofy stupidness.

13. Whatever - Godsmack. This album got me through quite a few times, good and bad. It will always remind me of flying to Raleigh, North Carolina for one day to go to Ozzfest in Charlotte and passing out from heat exhaustion after spending 12 hours blazing in the 110 degree, humid, July sun then sleeping through some of Pantera and all of Ozzy in the back of the Chevy. (And who the hell was that guy you let hold me up with his leg anyway?). Sully will forever be on my celebrity top five list.

14. Jesus Christ Superstar. Another childhood whopper. Every year at Easter mum would pull this out & play the whole thing from side 1 through side 4. I know it probably sounds awful but I kind of always felt bad for Judas. I wanted him to be raised better so he wouldn't want to kick Jesus' ass all the time. Jealousy really is a bitch.

15. Freedom - Melissa Ferrick. Bored of the crap pop radio was playing I decided one afternoon to tick down a little lower on the dial to the college stations. I was in the car on my way to drop some stuff off at the first apartment I was ever going to live in all alone, after a particularly bad end to an inexplicable 2 year relationship. As if it was fate, the title track started just as I settled on the station; the words spoke to me so fiercely I went the next day and bought every single album she had released to date and haven’t missed one since. If I ever had a girl crush, Ferrick would be it.

No tagging of course but if anyone is starving for a fun blog and wants to dig into the back of their mind for what music has shaped their life I would love to read about it. Nothing intrigues me more than what music speaks to people.

Now I must post an apology to Theresa because I am not able to complete the photo tag she wants me to do. It is the ‘sixth of the sixth’ tag and unfortunately I have so many folders it would be impossible to do this. So I wanted to give her a shout anyway and thank her for thinking of me, clearly she understands my very, very, serious inability to avoid the train wreck known as the blog tag.