That Texas feeling

In less than 12 hours I'll be on a plane headed to Texas, probably sitting in my cramped seat sipping a Bloody Mary, filled with anxiety, excitement and other mixed emotions.

There, we'll visit Austin, Dripping Springs, Wichita Falls and places in between, visiting family, seeing friends and checking out Fun Fun Fun.

The other day as I started to stress out for various reasons--mostly regarding travel logistics and family dynamics--Cory pointed out that in addition to all those things we have planned, the trip would allow me to "get my Texas recharge."

That cheered me up a bit. Because family dramas and packed schedules aside, I am very excited about returning to my home state--including the very street where I lived as a baby.

Sure, I'm disappointed that the election didn't go better. I'd hoped to come home to a new governor and a more progressive state, but the conservative status quo won out this time.

It's odd, I know, I haven't had a Texas address since I was 13--but I still consider it home.

California is home to me, too, however. Just as much so as Texas. It's just that I mostly get to experience the Golden State everyday while my Lone Star moments drift further and further apart. It's been 29 months since my last visit. But who's counting?

All of my anxieties aside (there'll be time to write about that later, I suppose), I'm looking forward to driving long stretches on the highway beneath that gigantic Texas sky. I can't wait to drive through tiny backwoods towns and, also, visit the last house where I lived. I can't wait to see bluebonnets and signs for Blue Bell ice cream. I hope we get to visit the botanical gardens or at least a few great indie record shops. I'm not necessarliy a nostalgic person, but I hope to reconnect wtih a part of myself that's always there but often lies buried beneath my grown-up California self.

Catch y'all later.

Obsessive compulsive listening, Courtney Barnett edition

Today in lieu of a real blog post (sorry, this month will probably see lots of, um, 'cheat' posts. It's November. I'm crazy busy, Also, sometimes, just lazy), I wanted to take a moment to insist you check out a song by one of my favorite current artists.

I first heard the Courtney Barnett record this spring and was almost immediately hooked. I think I listened to it one afternoon and thought, 'OK, that's good--though it sounds nothing like most of the reviews I've read (said reviews dubbed her alt.country).  (To clarify, the record The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas actually comprises her first two EPs). If I could get you to listen to one album this year, this would be it.

Then I listened to it again on another afternoon. And again on the same afternoon. And then again. I probably listened to the entire record four times that day. Then I made Cory listen to it, too, and got him just as obsessed with the Australian singer-songwriter.

I'm not even joking when I say I put the CD in my car back in May or June or whatever and have not taken it out since.

Her music, for the uninitiated, is smart and wordy and totally catchy with gutsy guitar work. The best way I can describe it as Liz Phair fronts Nirvana. Cory think there's also a hint of Opal in there, too. Maybe some Juliana Hatfield, too.

In August we had a chance to catch Barnett and her band (The Courtney Barnetts, naturally) at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown. Had the chance to talk to her then and she was as nice and down-to-earth as I'd hoped--taking the time to talk to every single person who approached her (or hovered nervously) after the band' s set. That set, by the way, was awesome. Lots of fun guitar play and band camaraderie. Cory was even sneaky enough to email her ahead of the show and ask her to dedicate a song to me for wedding anniversary.  And she did. And I may have even teared up a little.

Now we're going to see her again tonight at Slim's and then on Saturday we'll catch yet another set in Austin at the Fun, Fun, Fun festival. (Listen, I know how it looks--but we were going to be in Austin anyway, visiting family. I swear I'm not stalking her).

All this and today is her birthday, too. To celebrate here's a live clip of "Out of the Woodwork," (recorded live at KEXP in Seattle) of one of my favorite songs (and the opening track) from the record. It's sad and moody and smart and gets stuck in your head and is, in short, worth the probably hundreds of listens I've given to it in the last seven or so months. 



Seven things that maybe you didn't know about me (but maybe you did, who knows).

It's only been about three weeks since Transfinite Love tagged me to write a "7 Things You Don't Know About Me" post. I joked then that I'd get right on to procrastinating about it and, sure enough ...

Anyway, it seems like an appropriate post for day two of my renewed blogging life. Some of you--many of my friends anyway, already know most of this stuff I suppose, but hey, let's play along anyway:

1. I'm partially adopted. My parents split when I was two. My mother moved to the Bahamas (or was it Bermuda? Who knows) and my father went back into the service overseas. I ended up living with my paternal grandparents in Manchester, England until my father remarried when I was four. His new wife adopted me then and we moved back to the United States (Georgia). At this point I had a British accent but according to my mother, this bothered me so much that I worked hard to speak with an American accent.

2. I didn't meet or have any further contact with my biological mother--although I knew of her existence, and her story--until I was 26. We now talk regularly. She lives in Wichita Falls, TX (where I was born) and I'll be visiting her this week. On the flipside, I haven't had any contact with my father for 15 years. His choice, not mine.

3.  I once went 'undercover" at a local high school, posing as an 18-year-old student. This was before the movie Never Been Kissed. For the record, I did not make out with any fellow students. Or teachers. Oddly, my second time around in high school was both better and worse than the first time.

4. Paul Westerberg once name-checked me in a song. I mean, he mispronounced my last name. But still. PAUL. FREAKING. WESTERBERG. Oh, I was also in bed with him once. Long story.

5.  I was arrested for shoplifting as a teenager. Lipstick and other stupid, small things. I was 16, it was the height of my adolescent stupidity.

6. I used to have a knack for counting tiny objects in large jars (jellybeans, candy corn, pennies) and have won at least three contests with this talent.

7. Courtney Love once threatened to kick my ass. I once shared a cigarette with Matt Damon. Years before that, I lit a cigarette for Elliot Smith. My childhood self once had a crush on John Travolta, and when I told him that he ended crawling beneath a coffee table for me. That was weird.