2020 truly was a year for the books (don’t worry, I instantly regretted that pun). This is the year where I discovered that I’m obsessed with contemporary romance novels (think Berkley, not Harlequin). I was a super-avid reader as a child, but I found it harder to make time for it as an adult. Nothing like being stuck at home for nine months to catch up on old hobbies!
Here are a few of my favorite things from the year!
Favorite Fiction (in no particular order)
The Bookshop of Second Chances – Jackie Fraser (to be released in 2021)
So, technically all of the “non-fiction” I read this year was either presented in memoirs style (10% Happier) or to fictionalized to protect the identities of the innocent (Three Women, lol). So for this somewhat amorphous category, I’m picking The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. Yes, technically they are humor essays. However, they are boldly political, analytical takes at culture at large rather than explicitly personal essays, very much a response to the evils of the Trump administration and the #MeToo-era reckoning of the sex pests. This book informs and challenges as it entertains, and for that, it has won the top slot in its category.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson – I loved this book so much that I listened to a 4-part podcast series about it after I was finished. I was shocked that I could be so invested in the story of an artist to whom I hadn’t previously given much thought. I listened to the audiobook (obtained through my local library!), and not only was Jessica’s performance incredible and emotional, her (literary) voice came through so clearly in her writing. Honorable mention: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
Favorite Essay Collection
This one feels like choosing between my own (currently non-existent) children. Humor essays are my all-time favorite genre of writing, so they comprise a significant portion of what I read in general. Although David Sedaris will likely always be my favorite humorist, this year it went to a tie between Wow, No Thank Youand We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. These two books had me wheezing from start to finish. I’ve actually never been so inspired to write before (although of course, I didn’t follow through because everything I produced was absolute garbage compared to the Word Science herself).
Best Audiobook Performance
While this book didn’t make it into one of my favorite slots, I had to shout out Rachel Bloom’s unbelievable performance of I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are. This was a joy start to finish, and she performs a literal musical in the middle. Rachel Bloom is a STAR.
These are the books I’ve started (and enjoyed) this year but didn’t finish by midnight on the 31st:
I’m serious. Come to my house, take it away from me, and throw it into a swamp. It has to be a swamp, because I have a deathly fear of alligators and will never attempt to retrieve it.
Being stuck at home all day without diversion is difficult for those of us who are used to being out of the house 10+ hours a day. I am not in any way complaining, of course: I’m so fortunate to live and work where I do. I’m also quarantined with a partner and a pet, so I’m not feeling the strain of a lack of companionship that a lot of people are right now. But it’s been an adjustment. Being at home all day has made me want to streamline and beautify my house, and it’s made me keenly aware of things like, oh, my bras are 5 years old. Things I can normally ignore for a while, like dirty dishes in the sink, become intolerable. Anything that’s not organized by ROYGBIV is an eyesore.
Here are all the (nonessential) things I’ve bought since quarantine started and my reviews:
Cameron Esposito’s book, Save Yourself, on audiobook. 10/10 would recommend. I’m about 60% of the way through already because I can’t stop listening.
ThirdLove, baby! They were having a sale so I finally bit the bullet. I am ashamed to admit how old all of my bras are (you can probably guess how old they are by the fact that they’re Victoria’s Secret PINK…) and I seriously needed to upgrade. I got the Classic T-Shirt Bra, which I cannot recommend highly enough, the Classic Uplift Plunge Bra, the Classic Strapless Bra, and the Seamless Lounge Bra (this was free with my purchase). The only one I’m not thrilled with is the strapless bra, because strapless bras are the work of the devil, but as strapless bras go, I trust it to get the job done.
This ban.do necklace. Over a year ago, when I got my initial (ultimately not completely accurate) psychiatric diagnosis, I bought this one, but I had to make an update. Eventually, I’ll complete the trifecta. This necklace is tiny and dainty and perfect for everyday wear.
I needed another slipper chair, because I moved our other one into the bedroom (it’s the sunniest room in our house, and, in between the plants, makes for a perfect reading nook!) I love the look of this chair, and I got it super on sale, but I will say that it’s lower-backed than I had hoped, and doesn’t quite fill the space it’s in.
This rug. I’m obsessed. It’s so soft, and it brings such a vibe to my bedroom. Great quality for the price.
I love these boots, so much. I’ve needed replacement booties for ages (I wore my Seychelles pair, similar to these, until they literally fell apart). I’ve been looking everywhere; the last place I expected to find them was Target. They’re super comfortable, go with everything, and I didn’t have to spend a fortune.
Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants. I really wanted these to work out, since dress pants are a goddamn nightmare for me. My ankles, I think, are proportional to my hips/waist, and in dress pant world this is a no-no. Whoever designs dress pants thinks women are shaped like Humpty-Dumpty, it’s a travesty. All of which is a long way of saying that I returned them. I bought a medium, my normal size, and they were super loose in the waist. If I ever see a pair I like on sale (like, really on sale) I might try again in a small.
Lightswitch plates. Unfortunately, the ones I bought are no longer available, but they’re Hearth & Hand with Magnolia black metal. They look amazing and were soooo on sale.
Yet to Arrive/Use:
The nixit menstrual cup. I’m all about a waste-free period, so I’m up to try any innovation on that score. I’ve been using the Saalt cup and wash, which I’m perfectly happy with, but the nixit seems like it might be a little easier to insert/take out.
This pink nightstand! When I first moved into my house, over 6 years ago, I didn’t have a nightstand, so I picked something up at Marshall’s for about $30. It’s cute, but it really doesn’t go with our decor. This will be a perfect fit for our room!
I have long stanned Girlfriend Collective, and the Spring collection is no exception. I treated myself to the Paloma Bra & Leggings in “Wildflower.” I may have also gotten some scrunchies…the Unitard is on my wishlist but I have no idea why I’d ever need one. Fun fact—you get $15 off when you sign up for texts!
I shopped the Madewell sale for the first time in a while. But how could I have resisted these jeans? I’m probably going to live in this dress, and this one was too cute to pass up.
I mentioned this in a previous post, but I caved and bought these. But I will absolutely return them if the fit is not perfect! I swear!
More ThirdLove! They’re having a 2/$99 sale on their Pima Cotton Bras, so I snagged this one in Stormy Lilac and Ballet. I should mention: I’m donating all of my gently-used bras to I Support the Girls, which is an amazing organization that you should definitely check out! I also snagged the 7/$47 undies.
I’ve had my Kate Spade wallet for years and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. It’s sturdy, functional, and adorable. Time to welcome another baby into the family…
Winc wine subscription. I am not about to go out right now for non-essentials, like wine, but it does suck being trapped day after day without a little something to sip on.
I think that’s it, although I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if a random package arrived in the next few weeks. Some of the items in the below section will inevitably be returned (please don’t think I’m made of money), and I’m definitely going to chill out now that quarantine life is becoming the new normal. I think, in times of stress or trauma, we can fall back on old patterns (for me, overspending), but we have to give ourselves some grace right now.
Well, the entire world is on fire, and not for the usual reasons. Things are hideously bleak at present and, apart from sewing some masks and making some donations, there’s literally nothing we can do about it except stay at home and not touch our faces. We’re kind of living in Station Eleven, and yes, that is the justification I will eventually use for performing Shakespearean monologues on Instagram stories.
My family and I are doing really well, and as yet, no one we know has been affected by COVID-19. I’m so fortunate to still be able to work remotely (I love my job and wish I could gush about it but I would like to keep it private so that I can, y’know, keep it). My husband is also able to work from home, which we didn’t initially know would be an option, so we’re really thankful.
I’ve been making an effort to shower and get dressed every day, to preserve a sense of normalcy, even if the shower doesn’t come until 3pm. Everyone keeps posting about snacking all day long, but I’ve actually been having the opposite problem: I keep completely forgetting food exists. We’re not panic-buyers, but our fridge and freezer are STOCKED with healthy stuff (we also have an adequate amount of toilet paper—Trader Joe’s has it!) I’m hoping that my reduced calorie intake counteracts my absolute lack of any physical activity whatsoever. I actually danced last night for over an hour (if you’re a millennial, I highly recommend throwing this song on and going absolutely buckwild). I’m trying to use this time to improve my home (I ROYGBIV’d my bookcase) and myself (I’m crushing DuoLingo French checkpoints like a frat boy crushes p—I’m sorry, this is a family blog). As of yet, I have not done anything fucked up to my hair, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
Before I get into my usual frivolity, I just want to say that, if you’re like me and you’re still earning an income, do whatever you can to support your community. I made a donation to my local food bank, and I’m looking for other ways to lend a hand during this crisis. One positive outcome of this might be the increasing radicalization of society, proof that nothing ethical can exist under capitalism. Comrades Fran & Britney certainly seem to agree! But in the meantime, schedule Zoom happy hours, get into that book you’ve been meaning to read, organize your bathroom cabinets, take your meds, and remember to eat your fruits and veggies. I think we’re going to be in here for a long, long time.
I love and miss you all. If the worst happens, please play this at my funeral, and make sure David Hyde Pierce is on the keys.
Of Montreal, Tame Impala, Best Coast, Mandy Moore, Justin Bieber and probably lots of other people have just put out albums so go listen to them!
I made an Apple Music playlist of the trashiest pop from when I was a kid (late ’90s/early ’00s) and it is giving me life.
This is my most-listened song of quarantine. I guess you could call it optimism. We do not deserve Ariana Grande.
Can’t wait to go absolutely HYPEBEAST for Self Made, starring ACADEMY AWARD WINNER OCTAVIA SPENCER.
I read the book years ago, but I finally watched Room and oh my GOD. Brie Larson WERKED for that Oscar, honey. Also, Jacob Tremblay is a star the likes of which this world rarely sees and I simply have to stan.
I bought the audiobook of Cameron Esposito’s Save Yourself. Cameron is one of my favorite comedians and I daily mourn the loss of Put Your Hands Together.
I’m trying to read Silas Marner along with my tutoring student and wow, only 18 months out from earning a literal Master’s degree in Literature and my brain has atrophied to Jello. I’m going to try to make a concerted effort to get through some classics in quarantine. I’m thinking Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, and Brideshead Revisited, since I already own them.
So, Everlane is canceled. They vindictively laid off their newly-formed union of remote workers and uh, wow, fuck you, guys.
If I find out this company SUCKS too, I’ll return them, but I am trying out these pants because it appears that no company (including Everlane) makes dress-pants for what I’m generously calling my hourglass shape. Also, of course they went on sale after I bought them. Will report back on fit for my thicc chicks ❤
Also, I have bought myself another handbag, and I need to stop, but just so you know, I keep them forever and display them when not in use because they are my precious babies. Also, handbags have way better resale value than most stuff online, just sayin’. Here’s another recent purchase that’s a particular fave, and the best computer bag ever.
I found an Etsy shop I love! I got these belly rings (1, 2) and these conch studs (1, 2). Unfortunately, I’m an idiot and forgot that my belly piercing is 14g, so I might try to exchange but these things are seriously gorgeous.
I’m reorganizing my house, call it early Spring Cleaning, and this shelf is going above my kitchen counter. It’s so cute and perfect for me that I can’t believe I didn’t personally design it.
I’m a huge, huge fan of Method‘s cleaning products, but their Heavy Duty Degreaser is an absolute lifesaver. I am not about to use conventional cleaning chemicals on my stovetop, a surface that a. is exposed to fire and b. is where I prepare our food, so finding this more natural alternative that really works was a gamechanger. I buy mine at Target or Grove.
Chelseas can have a little home improvement, as a treat. Since Governor Baker basically shut down Massachusetts (I’m not complaining!) I have purchased this chair and this rug. Soon my entire house will be monochrome pink and I’m not mad about it.
If you’re not following nostro re, persona di colore dell’esperienza italiana, Giabuchi, you are not truly living in these times. Considering what’s going on with coronavirus worldwide, especially in Italy right now, Jaboukie’s mild Italian shitposting is tremendously healing. Catch him before he gets suspended again for heroism.
I loved this post about creating a reusable on-the-go car kit. When we’re finally out of quarantine, I really want to make a more concerted effort to be no-waste. Not being able to use reusable bags at the grocery store right now is killing me. P.S. The cutlery set Laura mentions? It comes in pink.
Discovered this shop last night and I’m intrigued to say the least.
Last week was rushed and short so this will be a mega-post! Or should I say a “Mega Thee Stallion” post? A lot of cool shit is going on this week, or in some cases, has been going on for ages and my dumb ass is just discovering it! Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Also, Brittany Freaking Howard put out a solo album!
I’m going to a quinceañera today and I’m wearing this dress.
100% making this bag. I already have the supplies in my Amazon cart.
I started listening to the Reply Guys podcast and Julia & Kate are a joy! Everyone needs more feminist, leftist talk in their lives. I also finally started listening to Las Culturistas (I run a Bowen Yang Stan Household) and it has quickly become my favorite podcast. Also, CONGRATS to Bowen on joining the cast of SNL!
It’s Bi Visibility Day/Week/Month (depending on your source) and it’s really, really important. Here’s some reading material to get you prepped! (Also, I’ve been wearing this necklace a little bit extra lately…)
Greetings, people of earth! In personal news, I’m still adjusting to having a real job. It’s weird…people with “real jobs” work soooo much lesssss than people with service industry jobs. I actually feel guilty! Well, I’d feel guilty if I were making more money. I’m making starter wages for a 21-year-old, hardly (read: not) enough to be financially solvent.
I actually started this post two whole weeks ago, but somehow, time got away from me. I’ve just been working, cooking, spending as much time with my husband as possible, and getting ready for my week-long trip to Florida! We’re doing an overnight in St. Pete and seeing Neko Case in concert! Oh, and the night before I leave, I’m seeing Dawes at the Wang Center! Feeling very blessed these days.
Alright, without further ado, I present my favorites from the past couple of weeks).
I started using DuoLingo and I can’t stop! I’m brushing up on my French, primarily, but I also started courses in Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Welsh, Portuguese, and Russian. I tested into a decent level of Spanish, which is surprising since I’ve never taken a class in it. I can’t believe how much Italian I’ve forgotten—I studied it for over a year in high school. Swedish, however, is by far my favorite. It’s such a cool and logical language. I highly recommend this service to anyone who has an interest in flexing their foreign language skills.
I know I was sleeping on this, but Lizzo’s new single “Juice” is everything. Also, check out “Scuse Me” which is just a perfect song.
I started meal prepping for the week and it’s honestly changed my life. My digestion has been better, and I have wholesome, healthy breakfasts and lunches prepared every day for work. I was really inspired by McKel at Nutrition Stripped. She recently launched a free e-course on meal planning and it was such a great jumping off point. Gimme all the jar salads and nourish bowls! I have to tell you, jar salads have been a game-changer for office lunch! It’s so much easier to say no to take out when you have a big serving of all your favorite legumes, grains, and veggies waiting for you in the office fridge.
I’ve been eating almost exclusively plant-based lately and I’m loving it! I still have the occasional egg and some of my meals include a little bit of cheese, but that’s been it. It’s made my cooking so much more creative. I think I’m going to start posting recipes again, since that was the whole point of this blog in the first place.
Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, which I’m listening to on audiobook, is so deeply moving that I cry almost every time I listen. It’s somehow even better than I thought it would be. 10/10 recommend.
The Shutdown is (temporarily) over! My heart goes out to the government workers who have been furloughed (without pay) or forced to work without pay. This shutdown was about 15 days longer than any other in history, and the administration should be ashamed of themselves for exploiting workers and neglecting basic services and essential government functions, but they won’t be because they are all chaotic evil. Each and every one of the 800,000 people immediately affected are such heroes.
‘Sup, y’all? It seems like spring is finally creeping its way in…in Massachusetts we get like 9 months of winter, about 2 days of spring in early May, and then oppressive summer for the rest of the time. It’s so great! #thxglobalwarming
Also, it’s the end of the semester, so things are peak stressful. Here’s what’s up.
2017 is over and frankly, BYE GIRL. What a rough year. I went from severe election depression, to a Mexican vacation, to not knowing WTF I was doing with my life, to going to grad school. The transition was rough, but not just for me. This year has also, obviously, been an actual trash-fire for the entire country.
But apart from praying for mercy from our overlords, there were a few enjoyable things about 2017. I went to Cancún and Atlanta for the first time, and got to spend two weeks in L.A., which I proudly yet undeservedly consider my homeland. I dove even deeper into my comedy obsession, and turned it into a final paper on feminism and comedy writing (in which I got to use the quotation “Men are a cancer! God made a mistake!“). I binged so much TV that it should be considered a crime against (my own) humanity. I started therapy and got back on meds. Actually, if it weren’t for the backdrop of constant nuclear panic, 2017 might have even been a good year.
Luckily, even in the darkest timeline, artists gonna art, so there was a barrage of dope shit released this year. Here are the things that really stood out in my 2017:
Literally everything Roxane Gay has ever written is perfect, so it was a no-brainer that this incredible book would be on my “Best Of” list. This book is so powerful and emotional; I cried reading it. Hunger is, genuinely, a memoir of her body—unlike so many other books written in a similar vein, this one has no self-help aims or “happy ending.” It is a raw, honest rendering of past and present traumas, and though Ms. Gay’s journey is unique to her, her writing speaks to the universal truths familiar to all those who inhabit bodies and navigate the world. For six months, the words of Hunger have stayed with me, like a haunting presence.
I haven’t finished this book yet, so no spoilers! (lol)
Part of me loves this book so much merely because I love Secretary Clinton and want to push back against the haters that think, for some reason, that it’s unacceptable that the first female presidential candidate of a major political party should write a book chronicling her experiences. I know this about myself. What I didn’t expect, upon beginning to listen (I’m checking out Audible this season), is how deeply First Lady Clinton’s words would affect me. She gets pretty real about her journey, and doesn’t shy away from being honest about the present danger in which America finds itself. But it’s never sad. In What Happened, hope eclipses sadness and darkness at every turn. It doesn’t hurt that Senator Clinton is funny as hell, either. Listening to What Happened is like inspiring meditation for all of us who were deeply hurt last November.
So, if Popular Vote Winner Rodham Clinton wants to hit me up for a glass of Chardonnay, just DM me @highwaytochel, bby.
Just realized I keep switching up her name! I guess she just has so many accomplishments that I’m not even sure what to call her!
This list was getting pretty heavy, so I had to turn up the levity to 11.
Matt Bellassai is a national treasure. I first heard of him on Throwing Shade, so I’m a bit of a late adopter, but as soon as I heard him on TSPod, I sought out his podcast Unhappy Hour, which led me to his book, which I scored, again, on Audible. I knew the book would be funny, but I didn’t think it would be laugh-out-loud-like-a-maniac-alone-in-my-car funny. The writing is so, so good. He has such a clear, distinct voice that it’s shocking he’s only my age. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I find myself relating on a deep level to a chubby, sheltered, Midwestern, gay, cis-male child, most of whose adjectives don’t describe me at all! I rarely advocate for audiobook over real book, but hearing Bellassai’s delivery is the icing on the cake.
Amy Sherman-Palladino has blessed us once again! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which Jen Kirkman consulted on, nbd) is my favorite new show of the year! I’m not even that bitter about the fact that the lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, is the same age as me!
The MMM tells the story of Midge, a 26-year-old mother of two in 1958, going through a separation following her husband, Joel’s, infidelity. Joel had been fervently pursuing a stand-up career (i.e. plagiarizing one), but it turns out that his wife is the real natural. Coached by Susie, played by the incomparable Alex Borstein, Midge begins to perform, to varying degrees of success. Oh, and Lenny Bruce is a character.
In true ASP fashion, the dialogue is fast-paced, joke dense, and sensational. If there had to be an heir to Gilmore Girls, this is indeed the one. I just watched the series but might start it over and force the huz to watch it with me. 10/10
Is Get Out the best movie I’ve ever seen? Strong possibility. Give Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel all of the Oscars!
I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good. I only just watched Get Out this fall, since I am horror-averse to the extreme, but I already know it will be one of my life-long favorites. Unfortunately, to write pretty much anything about it would spoil the majesty, and for once, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I was shocked, despite waiting months to watch it, and I wouldn’t take that experience away from anyone.
Jordan Peele is a genius. The film is aesthetically gorgeous, socially aware, hilarious, and terrifying. It’s a horror film, and a comedy, and a documentary.
P.S. I had the unique privilege of writing one of my final papers about Get Out, which I’m submitting to conferences!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If you didn’t like this movie, please eject yourself from planet Earth. I won’t spoil it for anyone (it was spoiled for me by my brother), but it was a joy and a pleasure. I gasped in surprise or glee multiple times, and I got to experience the entire thing sitting between my husband and my best friend—best combo ever. I’d write more about how much it rocked my world, but I’m busy going to see it again.
I finally discovered the true, unadulterated joy that is Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched Christmas in the Air*, which only made me thirst for more**. These things are a bright spot in an increasingly dismal world. Plus, where else will you experience the true joy of a 49-year-old, childless female lead? Hallmark doesn’t even know that it’s feminist!
*I will say, specific to this film, that it espoused one trash value, which is that messiness and imperfection is acceptable. You should have let her clean your office, dude. You’re not a creative genius—you have untreated ADHD.
**There’s an upcoming one starring Candace Cameron Bure and Marilu Henner!
I. Love. St. Vincent. I finally got to see her in concert last month at the House of Blues! I’ve liked her for years, but I have to admit, when she started getting super high concept, starting with Strange Mercy and continuing even stronger with St. Vincent, I really became a superfan. Masseduction doesn’t disappoint for a second—it’s got killer visuals, tight tunes, and her sexiest sound yet. Go purchase this album with human currency!
As if The National could put out a bad album. I’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for new Ntl jams, and finally, my prayers have been answered. Sleep Well Beast is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has more tech-y, electronic-y moments (please, don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of music) than previous releases, but it works. Get on this album, my dudes.
I know. I’m going back on years of hating on T. Swift. I can admit I was wrong! In my hour of darkness she was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, so let her be.
Reputation is bops for days. I adore it. I’ve listened to it more than the previous 2 albums combined, which severely deducts cool points from my street cred. But I don’t care. I even like “Look What You Made Me Do” which was pretty much universally panned. Highlights are, for sure, “Endgame (feat. Future & Ed Sheeran),” “Ready For It,” and “I Did Something Bad,” but basically every song is great so just go listen to it? T. Swift redeemed.
Guys, I got to actually go to PYHT in Hollywood! It was probably the craziest night of my entire life—maybe I’ll share the story someday—but it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The whole drama is recorded on the podcast, so if you’re a listener, you may know what I’m referring to. It was definitely a…teachable moment.
Cam & Rhea, thanks for being the moms we all need, and being genuinely the warmest and best people I’ve ever met.
My ABM ladies started a natural beauty line! Lipstick, lip gloss, and essential oils, oh my! I am obsessed with clean beauty products (#backonmyhippiebullshit), so these gems were a total godsend. I took advantage of all of the launch and holiday sales, so I, of course, have the full lip collection. They go on smooth, hydrate, last, and bonus: the lip gloss smells like yummy vanilla!
It’s official! Nice weather is back. It was 80 degrees and sunny today! I live for shorteralls, so this is very good news!
I didn’t have to work today (praise), so I stayed in pajamas until almost 2. When I finally worked up the motivation to shower and put on clothes I had to rush out the door to cash in our cans before the redemption center closed. I know. Exciting life!
I bought this denim jacket about a million years ago at Old Navy. I don’t shop there anymore because working in retail has made me a little snobby, but this jacket is my absolute favorite. It goes with everything. It’s like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Jacket.
My fiancé is an inch shorter than me (much to both of our chagrin), so whenever he’s not around I make sure to rock platforms like it’s my job!
I haven’t really gotten into the enamel pin trend, and now with the Spending Fast, I don’t have the option, but when Cameron Esposito put out her last special, Marriage Material, she had some pins available as merch. This one says “Breast Stroke Specialist” and the other (on my opposite lapel) is a Chinese food take-out box filled with sperms. It brings me soooo much life.
The other button is handmade merch from the NAF/M. Ward show at Royale last weekend (which was amazing).
I’m hoping that the beautiful weather brings me more energy! I have been dead tired for weeks—I think it’s a side effect of spring allergies.
2015 has been a landmark year for music…and going to amazing shows! We started the year off slow, with back-to-back of Montreal and Father John Misty shows at the Paradise in March. Apparently, Josh Tillman had just filmed the Master of None episode when we saw him, because he referenced joining the ranks of “fake TV bands” such as the Shins on Gilmore Girls. I finally saw the episode the other day and it was so fantastic. Congrats, Aziz Ansari, on a different (but still very awesome) type of show.
We were treated to a Phish concert at Shoreline in the Bay Area in July. We never go to huge arena shows like that, so it was an awesome experience, even though I previously knew nothing about the band. Phish fans are hardcore. Matt, the husband of the cousin that took us to the show, has seen the band over 150 times! And, according to Instagram, Regina Spektor (who I saw in ’09) went to see them a day or so after we did (yeah, we’re cool like that).
The Sinclair in Cambridge has been THE place for shows this year. In the past 3 months, we’ve seen Chelsea Wolfe, John Grant, and Natalie Prass there. There’s no bad view at the Sinclair, so no matter what time you arrive, you’re guaranteed an incredible show (and Insomnia Cookies after the show).
We were lucky enough to win tickets via Facebook to see Nicole Atkins & JD McPherson at the Royale last month! Meeting Nicole was such an insane privilege. She’s one of my favorite singer/songwriters and easily one of our generation’s most remarkable talents.
Another “surprise” show was Dengue Fever at Brighton Music Hall. We didn’t get tickets until the last minute and I’m so glad we did. Nimol is an international treasure. The Dengue show might have been one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I don’t understand how this band hasn’t taken over the world.
My father and I went to see John Cleese at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on tour for his memoirs, So Anyway…
I can’t wait to read the book! It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go, so I didn’t have time to read it prior to the show, but regardless, Mr. Cleese was an absolute treasure, as expected. This clip of Cleese on Conan is a great little taste of what my experience was like.
Last Friday was a twofer: it was my first time at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) in Boston and it was my first time seeing John Zorn in person! He didn’t perform, since the concert was for his “heavy metal organ trio”, Simulacrum, but it was still amazing. I wore earplugs, something I have only done once before at a local hardcore show.
Sunday, the 15th, Fig & I were treated (by my dad) to tickets to see Bill Maher at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It’s so life-affirming that someone with such a wide-reaching voice shares (99% of) your opinions. It was also my first ever comedy show—HOLLA.
Tonight we’re seeing Cameron Esposito at Brighton Music Hall. Another stand-up, who you might know from Maron or the Meltdown. She’s one of my absolute favorites right now, and I was super stoked when Fig impulsively bought tickets to see her while we were at the Dengue show.
We’re capping off the year with Joanna Newsom at the Orpheum on her Divers tour. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Joanna live after nearly a decade of rabid fandom, so I’m pretty excited. Fun tidbit: Michael and I had our first actual date at the Orpheum–he took me to see Neko Case as a belated 22nd birthday present. It’s the first time we’ve been back together since then (I went back a few months later for Neutral Milk Hotel).
One show I’m bummed I missed was Eisley with We The City and Copeland. I’ve never heard the music of the latter two bands, but this is the second time I’ve missed Eisley in the past two years—a major, major bummer because they’ve been one of my favorite bands for years. They’re currently on tour with only 1 original member (Sherri), 1 established member (Garron) and a whole crew of fam & friends. It would have been amazing to see, but as I’m already having Stacy and Chauntelle withdrawals, so it might have sent me into a spiraling depression.
Also, the Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, and the New Pornographers all rolled through town this year, but they’re big enough now to play the House of Blues which is not our fave venue.
I hope we have as fruitful a 2016 as we did 2015. Amazing new music hasn’t ceased for a second (you can check my Modern Music page for updates on new releases).