Friday, June 29, 2012

“My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon...”: Led Zeppelin’s Greatest

Last month when I saw Chris Cornell, he performed a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Tangerine. It was so beautiful, and I immediately asked my guitar teacher to show me how to play it. Despite a few itchy memories from a past relationship, I still love the song for its absolute heartbreaking beauty. Measuring the summer's day, only finds it slips away to grey. The hours, they bring me pain...

I have sporadically listened to Led Zeppelin. I had IV on vinyl and a cassette of Physical Graffiti. In high school, I remember hanging out with a friend in my backyard. We laid out in the sun on a blanket and played that Physical Graffiti tape on my little mini boombox. Whenever we’d get to Kashmir, we would continually Stop. Rewind. Play. Still, when I hear it, I can feel the warm sun on my face and remember that feeling of total relaxation. Oh let the sun beat down upon my face...

Lately, it feels like every time I turn on Classic Vinyl, they are playing Zeppelin, and considering that my album (part of my regretful vinyl purge - The Lost Art of Vinyl) and cassette are long gone, I’ve been looking for a good album to get me listening to Led Zeppelin again.

Every Monday as part of my Amazon MP3 addiction, I was perusing the $2.99 bin. This week, they had Mothership and a bunch of other great albums. My other picks this week were Greatful Dead's American Beauty and Let It Roll - Songs Of George Harrison.

Listening, I recognized one of the strange powers of Led Zeppelin: they can transport you away. The music is interesting, distinct, and amazing; it allows me to completely zone out and get lost in the music. I admit there were a few moments that I wished that I had my guitar handy... you know, just to pretend that I could shred that hard, but mostly, it was nice to have music that is so apt and interesting that it allows me to get out of my head for a little while and just enjoy the sounds.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Finding Some Inspiration...

I am feeling quite inspired lately. I’ve had some amazing experiences (Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens), watched a fantastic movie (Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo), read a great book (We Bought a Zoo - Benjamin Mee), and listened to one of my favorite songs on constant repeat (Simon & Garfunkel’s At The Zoo - also see Songs for Planning My Escape and From a Sad Cafe). Are you sensing a pattern yet?


I have always loved animals, so going to the zoo gives me a magical, childlike feeling. It is one of my favorite places to be. I just bought a season pass to the Lowry Park Zoo, but the crazy tropical storm has kept me away.

With my new camera and the places I’ve been in the last few months, I’ve captured some amazing photographs of the animals. When I take photos, I love to paint my favorites. In a photo, I can capture a moment and a feeling, but when I paint, I like to mess with the colors and the perspective. I started with an elephant, and then a flamingo, and I’ve just kept going from there. I’m obsessed with the birds, but I have crazy, fun ideas for the big cats.

I recognize that there is something special about my own story in all of this. It is a piece of my childhood that I still love so much. It has ignited a story in my head.

So, with my inspiration, I’m working on two of my bucket list items to write and illustrate a children’s book. It's not to sell, or morph into someone else's idea of what it should be, it is a project that has come together in a fantastic way that makes me feel excited in the most amazing way.

I am still in the initial stages, but I thought that I would share two of my first paintings:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Walking Meditation

I have always used my daily work breaks to take walks. At first, it was because I wanted extra exercise; however, I’ve found that it also relieves stress, clears my head, wakes up my brain, and gives me 15 minutes to myself each morning. In  The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron suggests that these types of daily walks as a meditation. It feels true; when I walk, I find a special kind of inspiration and clarity.

Last week, I reread The Tao of Pooh (for about the 100th time). I have been feeling stressed and a little lost, and reading the book always grounds me in goodness. In an effort to be more Pooh-worthy, I’ve been inspired to slow down and appreciate things more.

So, while walking earlier this week, I tried to slow down my thoughts and look around. I started during my morning walks, and first thing, I really saw was all of the beautiful, old oaks trees surrounding work. Their trunks are interesting knots of branches that are topped by oblong, airy groupings of leaves. It helped me to stop and respect the moment, so I painted a few of my favorites to remember. I might have improvised on the color a bit.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bibliophilia: Books 27 - 32

27:  Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

If you’re not reading Jenny Lawson’s blog (The Bloggess), I’m sorry. It is definitely the funniest thing that I’ve found on the internet. There are lots of things that cause me to laugh out loud, but her writing makes me uncontrollably laugh and usually when I’m alone at Starbucks at lunch, which causes me to get a lot of weird looks.

I read this in a day. There were moments where the amount of laughter coming from me was embarrassing. Interesting, considering that I am one of the inappropriate laughers ever. It was definitely bizarre, but it was in the most wonderful, perfect, honest way. I appreciate her honesty and her ability to laugh at herself. It is both entertaining and refreshing.

28: Jane Eyre

When I started reading The Eyre Affair, I realized that I would never understand the humor until I read Jane Eyre. I’ve never been a fan of literature from this time period because I find the reading stilted and dense. To my surprise, I was immediately drawn into this book. I loved Jane, but more I adored the gruff, lovelorn Mr. Rochester (the movie version with Michael Fassbender... sigh). I spent an entire rainy day on the couch, engrossed in the book. And then, even though my eyeballs felt like they would fall out of my head at any moment from reading for so long, I wanted to spend the next day rereading it.

 29: The Day After and Other Stories

I’m a big Stand By Me fan and a closet Next Generation fan, so when I see anything by Wil Wheaton, I tend to snap it up. He is definitely one of the most interesting “celebrity” tweeters and I totally dig his music collection. Anyway, this was a book of short stories. I really enjoyed the title story but wasn’t excited about the other ones. However, it did make me interested enough to want to read more of his work.

 30: Vampire

Sometimes, I read dumb books. I can live with that. I love silly, girlie vampire fiction. So, last Halloween when iTunes had specials on “scary” books, I might have (totally did) bought up a bunch of these types of books. I'm always nostaligic about the Fear Street novels, because I couldn't get enough of them in middle school. I remember one about a photographer and his model/girlfriend tied him to a bed and forced cocaine up his nose until he died. Seriously, what the frick was I reading in those formative years. Anyway, this book was far from the best book I’ve ever read, but it did entertain me at lunch for a few days. 

31: Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D: From Snapshots to Great Shots

I gifted myself a new DSLR camera. I absolutely love it despite the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing with it yet. This book was great for getting me started. Now, I just need to read it about 15 more times until I retain all of the camera jargony information and process it into information that my brain will actually retain.

32: The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel

I think that the marketing on the front of this book killed it for me. When you compare your book to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, you put yourself on quite a pedestal in my mind. I’ll forever respect it for making me want to read Jane Eyre, but overall I just sorta liked the book. Dear publishers, unless your book opens up and actually plays episodes of Buffy for me, do yourself a favor and don’t ruin a book by comparing it to it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Soundtrack for Rain and Writing (Justin Townes Earle)

It has been a weird week. There have been non-stop thunderstorms; every half an hour or so, the rain falls in fitful bursts so heavy that it sounds like mini floods. The regular rain portions have been relaxing, which is good because I've had a ton of designing and writing to do for work. It is a situation that makes me want to hook up to my iPod and zone out from the world. Zoning out to music while I work is one of the things I’ve always loved about being a writer. I'm really enjoying it this week because it is a luxury that I have't had too often lately.

Normally, when I get a music day, I just shuffle and enjoy a random music mix. It is fun when bizarre combinations are mixed together and sound amazing. However, I recently realized how many new albums I’ve bought and haven’t listened all the way through to yet. I believe that albums should be designed and listened to as a whole, so I promised myself to only listen to albums this week.

I started with Justin Townes Earle’s newest  Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. I love the entire album because it is a unique combination of sexy yet sad honesty and vulnerability.

Specifically, I’ve gotten trapped in a crazy repeat cycle with  Look the Other Way. While I enjoy the music because it makes me want to dance, there is something more, something beautiful, emotionally raw, and desperate about it. His voice haunts and unsettles me. It attaches and rubs at some feeling inside of me that makes me hate to let it go. So, basically, it has been on repeat for the last two days. I’m kind of in love with this song.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Busch Gardens - An Animal Day

As part of my trip to Discovery Cove, I received a 14-day pass to Busch Gardens. The day that I was able to go was incredibly hot and the park was packed. The lines for the rides were pretty long, and considering that I had just spent three days at Universal, I wasn't entirely in the mood for the rides anyways, so I spent the day enjoying the animals. Sometimes, I spend so much time trying to make it to all of the rides that I forget all of the amazing Busch Gardens animal exhibits.

A few weeks ago, I bought a Canon T2i DSLR camera, so I brought it along with me and snapped some photos of the animals. Don't judge too harshly because I'm still learning how to use the thing.

My favorite parts of the day included...

Seeing the elephants playing.

Feeding the kangaroos.

Watching the meerkats.

Catching the cheetahs playing. (I wish I had my telephoto lens for this one.)

The following slideshow is a photo album with more of the photos from the day: