Flutterby 13 – The Best of 2014

A collection of what’s winged its way across my path and got me thinking, grinning and gearing up at the end of 2014. 

2014 Parents Social Media Awards: Chosen by readers, these awards go out to the best parenting blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Pinterest boards and Instagram.

The Best of 2014 as Chosen By the Editors of the New York TimesHighlights from the year in fashion & style, food, film, theater & dance, art, music, TV, video games and books all through the lens of the NYTs. Continue reading “Flutterby 13 – The Best of 2014”

A Cowboy Boots Kinda Gal

I am a boot-wearing girl. I love my tall, black leather flat-heeled riding boots that graze my knees and my high-heeled suede booties that leave a little ankle showing. I thrill at wearing my flamboyant rain boots decorated with orange, swishing fish and adore my cozy fur-trimmed snow boots for mountain weekends. I traipse around in my beat up Uggs whenever I crave a little fuzzy comfort.

Still, there’s one pair of boots I don’t own: cowboy boots.

When I step off the plane in Nashville, it seems like the perfect place to go in search of the perfect cowboy boots. But committing to cowboy boots is not something you do on a whim. If you’re a gal who defaults to black t-shirts, skinny jeans and Prada purses, cowboy boots are a whole new world, a different kind of wow, a fantasy you’ve always had but not sure is yours. It requires preparation, a little mood music and just the right lighting.

So, first things first: we are here to celebrate my BFF’s 40th birthday. Bring on the honky-tonk, rockabilly, country pop and rock-n-roll. Slightly humid in early May, the air smells of sweet jasmine, deep fry and last night’s spilled beer. Fried green tomatoes and baked cheese one night, vintage cocktails with names like Vehment Vesper and A Summer Abroad the next. Dancing with a stranger to Jerry Lee Lewis. Serenaded by a street strummer playing Junior Wells at two in the morning. By the time I hit the pillow, I’m lovin’ all that is crooning and country and cowgirl.

aweswom-cowboy-bootsThe next day, I knowingly make the mistake of going to the most upscale boot store in town. They bring me sweating bottles of cool water and fit my foot while I relax in a softly worn leather armchair. They happily haul out box after box of beautiful, exotic cowboy boots until all at once I’m swooning: black boots, lizard across the toe, delicately stitched leather shafts, scalloped cuff.

I walk the store in my boots. I show them off to my friends and my husband. They all nod and smile and encourage. I admire my boots in the full-length mirror, turning this way and that. I can feel my credit card burning a hole in my wallet. My heartbeat dips a little, my brain trips. I do not buy the boots.

Even though I love them and they are singing to me, I am not convinced the boots will transcend Nashville, Tennessee and be at home on my feet in Oakland, California. I’m not sure they will survive out of their element. I thank the salesgirl, taking her card with the style number and my size written on it. “Call me if you change your mind,” she says.

I spend the next several hours wondering, “Am I a girl who wears cowboy boots?” Even now, in my 40s, I am not so sure I’m always living as my true self. I still try on different personalities, morphing from sensible mom of three into party girl one night, then into upstanding school board member come morning; devouring a Neil Gaiman novel followed by Veronica Roth’s futuristic YA stories; dropping the f-bomb in mixed company over the weekend, then dictionary diving for words like “exigent” and “surfeit” come Monday. I pick and choose, trying on then shedding off bits and pieces of personas that don’t feel quite right. Will the boots meet a similar fate?

That night we hang out at The Stage, a popular Downtown Nashville bar, riveted by the awesome Matte Gray Band. Traditional country blends into rap fuses into pop rolls into rock then slides back into country. The songs send me pinging back and forth between the here and now and 25 years ago. They play Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” and I am in Colorado at Tuck and Nat’s sweet lakeside wedding where they both wore cowboy boots. “Sweet Home Alabama” lands me squarely back at Duke, face to face with my crush at a fraternity party. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is up next and I think about how the album 8 Mile made me believe in rap music for the first time ever. Without a hitch, the singer slips into Lorde’s “Royals,” a song I’m so incredibly sick of, but always sing along to in the car with my kids.

I am mesmerized by the overlap of country, rap, pop and rock and how they keep borrowing from each other, beats and rhythms so at home with one another. Little Feat, The Steve Miller Band, Hunter Hayes, Florida Georgia Line and even Michael Jackson all live and breathe together on that stage in Nashville. Listening to it all, I reclaim bits and pieces of who I am – and there’s more than a little country in the mix.

A few weeks later back home in Oakland, I find a pair of gorgeous black-cherry boots online and save them to my cart. They are the same brand as the ones I tried on in Tennessee and just as stunning. My time in Nashville is a part of me now and like the songs, the boots will remind me of high times with good friends, dancing on the sidewalk to a twangy guitar, duck fried tater tots and the time we didn’t go to the Bluebird Café. I think I just may be a cowboy boots kinda gal after all. I’m one click away from finding out.

D is for Duet

duet: a musical composition for two voices or instruments.

The first day I met Josh, I heard him play the piano. We were at a conference and during a break, he sat down at the piano in the lobby and riffed out amazing melodies. It all seemed so effortless and beautiful. I was smitten. Unfortunately, I don’t have much musical talent. I don’t play an instrument. I have a pretty voice, but I have a hard time singing on key and staying in tune. Even so, I love singing.

A week into our love affair we were trading CDs. He was wowed by my eclectic choices (Dimitri from Paris, Les Nubians, Bruce Springsteen) and I swooned over his jazz and Grateful Dead collections. For me, music is about the lyrics and the story they tell. For him, it’s about the nuanced undertones, the uneven beats and the way they pattern together. I longed to sing out loud, but I was too intimidated by his musical prowess to go for it. What if my amateur singing made him wince? Would this thrilling, new love end?

I don’t remember exactly when it happened. We must have been listening to our iPods, ear buds in place when he asked me what I was listening to. It was “Killer Queen” and I was doing all I could to keep from singing out loud. He pulled an earbud out of my ear, stuck it in his and started singing. What could I do? I started singing too. We belted that thing out, channeling Freddy Mercury with our eccentric gestures and over-the-top high notes.

Barbra-streisand-guilty-albumIt was our first duet together.

Fourteen years later, we still sing together, mostly behind closed doors just before turning out the lights for the night. Our favorite duet is “Guilty” and we’re pretty awesome at it.

And yes, our love is one in a million. Isn’t yours?!

 

 

I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.

B is for Born to Run

Born to Run: the third album by the American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. It was released on August 25, 1975.

I discovered the first album I would fall in love with on the shelves of my dad’s “library,” an 80s version of a man-cave complete with a heavy wooden desk, comfy brown striped couch, peach colored walls and state-of-the-art stereo equipment. We were allowed in there with permission only.

Except when no one was home.

When my mom went back to school and then work, my younger sister would go to the neighbor’s house and I’d find myself home alone in the afternoons. By then I was 13 and deep in the throes of my I-want-to-be-alone phase so it was perfect. I’d open the door to the library, feeling very sneaky, and thumb through my dad’s books and then the albums.

bornToRunI rocked out to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, the Eagles’ The Long Run and anything by the Beatles, but when I discovered Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band’s Born to Run my life changed. I loved the black and white album cover and the way Bruce is leaning against Clarence and the ripped tank top underneath the badass leather jacket. Then there’s that Italian horn amulet necklace.

Every song on that album seared my heart. I memorized every dip and breath and note in all eight of them. I’d lose myself in the music and the story, singing along, tracing the lyrics with my finger. I couldn’t get enough.

I was a middle-class, junior high school Jewish girl living in the New York suburbs. I collected Mrs. Grossman’s stickers from smelly to fuzzy. I wrote fan mail to Rick Springfield. I wore baseball shirts sporting iron-on rainbows and plum colored Pumas. What did I know about blue-collar life or wild love or late-night rendezvous gone wrong?

Not much, not yet. But boy did I want to. I yearned to die in an everlasting kiss, to find redemption beneath a dirty hood, take a stab at romance. I wanted to sneak out to the Exxon sign. I wanted to tie faith between my teeth. I wanted to be The One. I felt as though Bruce was telling the story of my life, what it could be, busting at the seams, thick with emotion and grit, motorcycles revving, screen doors slamming. As much as I fell in love with the music, I fell in love with the album’s epic story of love in all its glory and recklessness, beauty and danger, holiness and simplicity, faith and desperation.

The first time I saw Bruce in concert was a year a half ago. I was 43 and he was 63. I don’t know why I waited so long. His shows are legendary. He never disappoints. What kept me back? I stood up and sang, yelled really, the entire three hours with my husband right in there next to me. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to – I know it – and a personal ninth track in the rock-n-roll love story that Born to Run keeps alive in me.

I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.