Archive | January, 2013

Resolution Progress

31 Jan

I thought I would do an update to keep myself accountable.  I suppose I should be looking at the original goals to know–but I have a headache, and barely could find energy to write this post.  So I will wing it:

1.  I am actually drinking water.  I’m even managing to drink it on work days.  Which is progress infinitive!  I believe I have consumed more water in the last month than I have in the last decade.  No joke.  Except it’s not fair–I have to pee every second.  And I have a major aversion to public bathrooms, as well as a job where I can’t just go whenever–oh an emergency/surgery/I’m in a room taking vitals–hang on while I go to the bathroom = no.  Also, I never felt thirsty before, and now I do.  And I get terrible headaches if I DON’T drink as much water–which never happened before.  I’m not yet a true believer in the benefits of water.

2.  I am flossing on most days.  I had been very vigilant about this before so it wasn’t all that difficult to get back into it.  Now to call, and schedule, and pay for the dentist. . .

3.  Cooking.  I have not not it every day, but certainly more.  So that’s a good start.  We’ve also been very good about going to the Grocery Outlet every other week, which helps keep the shelves stocked, and us out of restaurants.  We have only been to restaurants twice, and one was to celebrate a good test grade.  The other before Cool’s doctor appointment.

4.  Abstain from drinking.  I made this a quantitative goal so I can see where I’m going with it.  30 days dry.  I have not had any alcohol since Jan 5–I slipped up that last weekend before school started.  I’ll write a whole post about this even though I’m paranoid about people I know in real life using the info as ammunition against me.  I want and need to talk about it, and it’s not a dirty secret.

5.  Weekly Massage.  It’s been done twice.  I think we would be more successful if we planned this earlier, before I’m too tired.  Also, pre-heating the room is key.

I can’t remember my other goals right now.  I can edit when my headache goes away. . .  This is all I can muster right now.

Quote + Scholarship

27 Jan

Some brainstorming for the last essay on the LGBT scholarship application.  I HAVE included the length this time.  And I know the due date too:  Jan 31, 2013.  I’m on a roll with this one!

CO 11

A quote has the ability to succinctly capture thoughts and feelings that deeply resonate with us due to our life experiences and future aspirations. Please share a quote that holds special meaning for you and explain why it speaks to you so powerfully. If possible, please include the name and a brief description of the person to whom the quote is attributed.  3000 characters

ice climbing

“If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical, we are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope. . .”

Sometimes being realistic about life’s outcomes means seeing the darker side of things. In order to stay grounded a person has to remove the rose-colored glasses and entertain various (possibly negative) end-points to each decision.  Unfortunately, weighing options as logical beings can really paint a dire picture.  My practical nature can make me see more negative aspects in life.  I think and over-think things until success seems an impossible notion.  I like this quote, because it shows that even a realistic person, who uses thought to evaluate situations instead of blind optimism, can still have hope.  Sometimes I just have to look past my pro and con lists, past the heavy analysis, and have faith I will get there.  This quote reflects my personality, because as a thinking, rational person it is very easy to become cynical when faced with repeated obstacles, negativity, and failure, and yet there is still faith that things can improve and the hope that they will.  I never give up, instead striving to dig out of my current less-than-optimal circumstances by working harder.  No matter how heavily I entertain consequences I always know that I can achieve something greater, or learn to appreciate the outcome just as it is–even if it was not what I was originally expecting.  People have the innate ability to look up, even if their circumstances seem dreary.

“Future: That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true, and our happiness is assured.”

No matter how bad the current situation feels, there will always be the future.  And the future always holds something better in my mind.  It is a quote full of realistic optimism, which is the way I try to conduct my life.  I attempt to keep well grounded by entertaining true stumbling blocks and consequences of my decisions and efforts.  I also try to always remain positive that with enough work I can fulfill my goals.  This quote shows my personality in that it brings evidence that things can always improve.  If you don’t like how something is right now, don’t worry-there is always tomorrow.  There is time to change things and work for a better, brighter life.

In order to see sunshine, you must weather the storm.

This advice given by Frank Lane, manager of several baseball teams over a twelve year period, shows that in order to enjoy the good, you have to suffer a little of the negative side of life.  And Lane would know about controversy bringing an appreciation for the smaller joys in life.  In his controversial career, he made over 400 player trades, earning him some cynical nicknames.  I agree with Lane, if things were always great and perfect that would become the norm, then nothing would feel exceptional.  Without some bad incidents or dreary times, no one could appreciate the brighter side of life.

It relates to my  struggles and goals for myself.  I have worked very hard all my life to enter into a meaningful career that I enjoy doing on a daily basis, and one that helps others.  In 2009, I lost my seat in the veterinary class I was admitted to because my loan fell through, and I had no back up funding.  I moved to Seattle, where the gray skies, matched my dreary mood, and the gray area that was now my life.  I could have given up then.  I could have called it quits, scaled down my goals and aspirations, and fallen back on my experience as a veterinary assistant.

Instead I realized that my failures and set-backs will only help me to enjoy my eventual success to the fullest rather then taking it for granted.  Because my life was tumultuous at that point in time, I knew that positive outcomes would feel even better when they were realized.  I chose a new career goal where I could still help people and applied to college to get a second degree.

Without suffering through some hard times I might not appreciate my life as much as I do right now.  Moving to sunny Spokane, helped me regain my sense of self and work toward a different lofty goal.  One day I will be a competent Doctor of Audiology and enjoy helping people with hearing loss.  Because I suffered through some cloudy days I now see how bright my future is.

Don’t just survive–strive

In life, it is easy to get situated in a day-by-day routine that does not reflect higher goals or aspirations.  You bide your time, and just do each task as it arises.  I think this quote reflects my mentality, because I know time management and organization is the real key to achieving huge aspirations.  Breaking lofty goals into small, daily tasks makes them more manageable and sets me up for success.  I try to remember each day what I really want in life, and attempt to do small things in order to head in that direction.  This quote provides motivation not to become complacent with life as it is, because the day-to-day activities become our life.  I want to live like I’m going somewhere–up.

Discontent is the source of all trouble, but also of all progress.

This quote reflects my attitudes on success and failure.  When I am happiest and content, I tend to stop struggling so vigorously to achieve.  It is when I am the most miserable that I do everything in my power to change my circumstances.  So even though being uncomfortable is not desirable, the resultant motivation to change things is a positive outcome.

“Dreams. I Have Dreams.”

23 Jan

In my dream last night, Brandi Carlile was the feature.  Cool and my parents and I were in Reno, Brandi Carlile 3and on a marquee for one of the hotel/casinos it said Brandi was to sign autographs during some [unremembered or unknown] time-span!  So of course we went.  But obviously, I did not have any merch, CDs, or anything appropriate for Brandi to sign.  So my mom gave me this picture she had recently taken of the inside of one of the hotel rooms at that particular casino’s hotel.  It was your indistinct, room with two made beds.  But it was something.

Brandi Carlile 4Because we were in Nevada, not as many people had heard of Ms. Carlile, so there was no giant line!  Lucky!  I walked right up to the table she was sitting at.  Unfortunetly, since I had just been hanging out with family, I did not look adorable in any way.  I was wearing some ball cap.  When I got up there, I couldn’t think of anything to say either.  And just held out my awkward picture for her to sign the back of.

Seeing a person in a cap, with a weird hotel room pic, Brandi assumed I was a tourist  and probably a foreign one.  She kept saying things like, “Welcome to the West!”  and “You should see such-and-such landmark while you’re in town.”  And even though I grew up in Brandi Carlile 5Northern Nevada, and spent the majority of my life in the West, I didn’t correct her.  Because that would be (more?) awkward.  And if Brandi Carlile assumes you’re a tourist, you just go with it.

And she handed back the signed pic, and had written a fairly lengthy autograph on the back [yay!].  But it was in a scrawl that I couldn’t decipher, so I had to have my mom (who is well-versed in 3rd grade handwriting) read it to me.  And it continued on the same, “Welcome to, and enjoy the west track.”  So not as relevant to me as I had hoped.  Then, I moved the picture, and a portion of the ink smeared.  Very unlucky.  This was not going to make a very good memory–or story.

Brandi Carlile 6And I woke up feeling very luckless indeed, despite getting Brandi Carlile’s autograph and not having to wait in an obnoxiously long line to get it.  I’m hoping one day I can get it for real when I’m awake.  One day while we’re both stoll young, too.  And I hope it goes nothing like the awkward parts of the dream, but everything like the non-waiting, no planning, no trouble parts.  Maybe I ought to carry some Brandi merch and CDs with me wherever I go. . .  Just in case.  Lesson learned.

Guardian of. . . What Exactly?

20 Jan

Enron 2Is that what it’s called in the social-sciences when you get group-think?  Where a certain mentality and set of behaviors becomes customary and expected?  I feel like the professors at my school suffer from it.  Instead of wanting us to learn, helping us to succeed, and fostering an atmosphere of mutual support and motivation–I think they discourage students, try to make things more difficult then necessary, and foster a feeling of this question/person is not worth my highly important time.

The latest quote from my speech science prof–“If you can’t do that type of math in your head, you should consider dropping out of college.”  Said to the entire class before a quiz.  In the environment I think is more conducive to long-term success, I think that prof should have said–

This math is simple, but maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve seen or practiced it.  I will go through just one example with numbers, but it’s up to you to do as many practice problems on your own time until you are comfortable doing these in your head.

I mean, would that be so difficult or horrible?  JUST because I can’t do physics cold, does not mean IEnron 2 wouldn’t be great in the career.  Even experts need refreshers for material they haven’t encountered in awhile.  It doesn’t make me ignorant, lazy, or undeserving.  No need to belittle us, or imply we don’t belong in any type of higher education.

Let’s be real, SLP is a masters degree for fuck-sake.  And I mean no disrespect to the career or major–but it isn’t LIFE-threatening.  The majority of my classmates are going to work as associated staff at an elementary school.  Yes, it’s important to teach communication and adequate language skills, but a silly mistake won’t KILL a client.  Miss a decimal point when calculating a medication dose in veterinary medicine, for example, something could drop dead.  Miss the decimal when calculating the frequency a child can hear–well, the answer doesn’t make sense and you do it over.  It make take more time, and be a nuisance that way, but the mistake won’t be all that detrimental.

I’m not certain why this particular faculty feels they are the gate-keepers to the SLP career, and try to discourage perceived hooligans and impostors (like me, somehow) from entering.  I find it tiring though.  And unnecessary.

Where’s the Line?

17 Jan

facebookFacebook puts us in a weird position.  For whatever reason people are compelled to befriend every person they ever knew:  Relatives, close friends, school friends, co-workers, teachers, employers, people met at a distant friend’s party, someone you saw on the street one time, on and on.

But then a strange thing happens–you are actually reading about that person on a frequent basis–and (worse) they are reading about you.  It can get awkward in a hurry.  For instance, many people post about how they got drunk on the weekend or whatever–but what about when grandma reads that?  Or worse–the boss, when you called in sick to work that Monday?  What happens if you get in a fight with someone–you don’t want to be dramatic and delete them, but then again, you don’t want to see them all the time either.  Exes–that’s all that needs to be said about that obvious dilemma.  So there’s that kind of thing.

But this post is about boundaries.  Is it OK for current students to “friend” their teacher or professor who grades them?  I sort of think this is too much, a sort of conflict of interest.  I see it as akin to baking cookies for the judge in any competition. . .  Here’s another question–the one that really inspired the quote:  Can you ever really get comfortable and chummy with a person who has been an authority figure, or on the other side of the coin, a subordinate?

I am from a very small town.  As such pretty much everyone I ever attended school with, or was dustdeviltaught by, is a friend on my Facebook page.  Also as such, I have a LOT of things restricted from their view.  Let these people remember me as innocent, sober, virginal, etc. . .  Let them remember me the way they initially knew me, that is.  Apparently, everyone from my town does not have this policy.

Some 30-ish year old gal from the class above mine posted a pic and in it her bosoms were all but hanging out of her top.  She WAS dressed, and the pic was presumably showcasing something else, but her girls poked MY eyes out.  And of course some same-aged dudes made some obnoxious comments about how nice she was looking in the pic.  Which WAS posted for all her friends (and maybe public) to see right on her wall.  Here’s the thing though, one of the (40-50 year old) male, middle school teachers commented, “Yeah, nice one, Cathy!” (maybe smilie face instead of exclamation, which is even worse) on the pic.  And one of the same-aged dudes called the teacher a fat ‘ol pervert and told him to go elsewhere.  Several other people “liked” that comment, including the gal herself.  The teacher (also my friend) made a big post on his own wall how he was deleting the girl, gave her initials for those who weren’t mutual friends with both, and said it was because she “liked” the fat ‘ol perve comment under her pic.

anti-facebookHere’s what I see:  1)  A LOT of unnecessary  silly drama for small-minded, small town people with nothing better to do.  2)  The gal DID post a questionable pic, and did not restrict which FB friends got to see it.  So therefore, any comments garnered, I think–are fair game.  3) I think it was in extremely poor taste for a former authority figure of any kind to sexually acknowledge a former student’s pic–no matter how old the student currently is or how public (or sexy/inappropriate) the pic.  4)  I find it incredibly immature to delete a person for “liking” any number of things on Facebook–get a grip.  And to write your own post telling about your deletion, and giving initials (disclosing the individual’s identity), at 40+ years old is pathetic.

Also, just for the record–I ALREADY had that particular teacher on my most severely restricted list so he is technically a friend, but can hardly see anything on my page–least of all any pics.  This scene made me glad for that prior decision.

Hospital Policies

13 Jan

I have a lot of bad things to say about Mary Minor.  But I have to say her hospital policies were surgerysome of my favorite and probably THE most successful I’ve worked with.  And recently, I have been missing them, and fairly dismayed/frustrated/disgruntled that my current job doesn’t operate that way.  Because it would make things a lot easier–and better.

Despite being a total hard-ass with high expectations, things went well and I felt appreciated even though I (and everyone else) was under constant scrutiny to perform at the top-most levels of medicine.  Now that I’ve worked at several other places I try to recall how this was made possible.  Because apparently it’s a tall order.

Laurel's pics 135I think a lot of Mary’s work success (the first time I worked for her) was keeping staffing issues objective.  Mary did not give special treatment to anyone or only chastise non-friends at work.  Even though her best friend since high school was her receptionist and her wife was her tech–those 2 didn’t receive any benefit or scorn that the rest of us employees didn’t.  Side-note:  [And this only goes for the first time I worked for her–when I came back, she was unable to separate the personal from the professional, which caused much of our ugly breakdown.  Mainly her problem that I knew too much about her (dirty-dirty) personal, home-life, so she set out to destroy me.]

Everywhere else I worked ran into strife because the boss would favor an employee:  I’m looking at you, Jennifer, Dana (to a lessor extent), Heather, Brandon, and Kris.  And when the boss favors one employee, that person ends up with the best possible work schedule, and never gets in trouble–not like the rest of the workers.  So of course co-workers notice and get disgruntled with both the favored employee and the boss. . .

The high standard of medicine came before the scheduling.  Mary made it a top goal to provide Laurel's pics 265better then adequate care for every patient she had.  And we were busy.  But if we could not handle something at the highest level–we either took more time so we could, or said no and referred (in the case of no money, non-clients).  Mary understood that YOU (the business, the owner, the vet) train your clients.  The vet hospital requires certain things and you will establish a base of clients willing to follow those rules and guidelines.  Everyone who doesn’t fit your business-model will go elsewhere.  And even though we routinely told people no, we still had a huge following in the community.  And they were (mostly) the good kind of clients.  You shape your clientele  and your client make-up is what you’re willing to put up with as a business owner.

Other places where I have been employed would forget that the busier and more overwhelmed you are, the lower the standards are for each individual patient.  They would let the schedule dictate the standard of care, by squeezing in more and more.  So instead of having time to groom surgeries before releasing them, taking vitals on every animal that walks through the door, having a vet check the animal prior to giving a refill, etc. . . you just saw each animal as fast as you could, cutting corners to get on to the next in a timely fashion.  Which is increasingly slip-shod.

Bigger then that, Mary held the highest standards while keeping productive employees happy because she was all about teamwork.  She really emphasized that success of the practice was Laurel's pics 261dependent upon how the staff worked together.  She was fond of saying that we set each other up for success.  We had a triple check system.  I was never the only one getting yelled at.  If something went wrong–it was everybody’s fault.  Because in a team environment everybody (doctor included) should constantly be checking that things are getting done appropriately.  Also, we celebrated as a team.  Of course Mary had an ego like any vet and attributed most of the success to herself, as team captain, and key member of the operation, but she also understood she couldn’t have accomplished as much as she did all by herself.  If we had a record dollar day, everybody was congratulated for hustling a$$, everyone was commended for keeping up, everyone was given kudos by everyone.  And we did things as a work group.  When I went to college, Mary took the staff to Chinese lunch to see me off.  When the crazy short-staffed summer was over, she bought wine.  So you had motivation to work harder for your team.

At Noah’s Ark, we weren’t a team so much as a family.  The difference is in Mary’s work team, we IMG000had a clear goal and wanted to perform well to accomplish that goal.  At Noah’s Ark it was more of a camaraderie  and when that was impossible, tolerance to black sheep of the family.  A little less successful, but still more togetherness then most.  And we had a group Christmas party and went to the Gentle Doctors Benefit as a group.  So our employers made sure we had some fun together, not just the daily grind.

Most other vet hospitals have been fractured.  Everyone was out for themselves, and no talk of team or family or otherwise was mentioned.  I find this mentality most surprising the smaller the staff.  But a small group (forced to spend time together at work only) is different from teams or families.  In Washington, we did nothing for any holiday, and when we did (once), it was held over our heads as “our holiday bonus.”  At emergency, every hated everyone else and once your shift was over, people RAN out of there.  Not nice environments to have to spend time.  It makes it more of a grind, and I think affects general work and productivity.

surpriseSo despite Mary’s many (and accumulating) short-falls, she really did run her business most effectively, from the high standard of patient care, congeniality toward clients, speed of practice, staffing, and success in general.  She’s a (homophobic, lying, cheating, manipulative, selfish, on and on) $hit head, but she knows the story when it comes to running a vet hospital .  Even with our personal problems, I have to give her that.

I am OK Afterall

10 Jan

I have no idea why, but lately I’ve had this impending sense of doom.

-I will fail my college classes, thus losing my 4.0 GPA, and with that the opportunity to enter into ANY career.

-I will be immediately fired from my current job.  Then, I’ll have drop out of school anyway, become homeless, and NEVER leave Spokompton.  Or take a worse job somewhere terrible.

-Something will happen to my dad before I can talk to him a lot.  He’s not getting any younger, and unlike my mom, he has almost no internet presence.

-Something horrible will befall my beloved maine coon buddy before I am able to bring him to live Yard 7-22 029with me.  This will make me resentful and terribly sad.

Writing it out makes it seem silly–like when Cool feels this way because she’s forgotten to take her bipolar/anxiety meds.  Not to discount Cool’s feelings/mental illness.  Just to say these feelings of doom are not based on real-life scenarios or facts–just brain chemistry.  But I don’t have any meds to take.  So what am I supposed to do to feel better?  Well, I guess write out why I’m worrying for nothing, to start with:

-Yes, I can’t stand either prof.  This new dude, makes last semester’s bitch seem sweet.  But who cares anyway.  It’s not like I have to marry either of them.  Or even talk to them for that matter.

-Yes, I am super intimidated by the course outlines–especially the reading.  SO much reading to be finished in a short time.  Add the actual assignments, studying, and papers and it quickly seems overwhelming.  I just have to remember that I only have 2 classes.  And these courses are designed for people taking 12 credit loads.  So they can’t be so bad for me as a half-time student.  Also, I can break things into smaller chunks.  Read several short time intervals during the day.  Do assignments at other times.  Look at flashcards to and from and between other activities.  It will be fine, because I am determined to be disciplined and make it fine.  If I can do anatomy, I can do anything!

-Something may or may not be happening between my boss and me.  Maybe I’m over-analyzing and being oversensitive as usual.  My sadness and anger over a deteriorated relationship probably is not even warranted.  And who cares if she no longer likes me?  I need to remember Mary here–I have no personal ties to my boss, nor do I want any.  Forget this one.

-And whatever is happening probably has nothing to do with me.  She’s more than likely dealing with her own issues, in her own world.  I give my best effort.  I gave my class-schedule well ahead of time, and on multiple occasions.  It isn’t MY fault (or intentional on either side) that there was work-schedule confusion.  Also, my boss is not conspiring to make me work just under full-time to maximize my productivity around there but minimize the benefits owed by work.

-And even if there IS something to my concerns, and it had everything to do with me–I’m an awesome employee that whether or not they like to admit it–they need.  I am valuable to the operation of their business.  And they should remember I’m a good person, nice to work with (when they’re not hating) too.  Besides, this is not important to my long-term life and does not deserve the amount of worry I have been devoting to it.

-Dad is healthy.  And I will make time to call this weekend.  And I’ll make sure to talk to him one-on-one so he can get a word in.

LL's 28th birth-month 059-My maine coon is in good hands.  My love of animals was handed from my parents.  Even if they give their dogs waaaaaay more attention, they would never neglect my kitty.  And Goose would not allow himself to be ignored either.

-And before I know it, I’ll be able to go get him.  It will feel like tomorrow.

So I need to clear this worry from my mind and get on with my resolutions.  That’s just all there is to it.  No more time devoted to this.

Costco: Conquered.

8 Jan

I found the key to shopping Costco.

There is never a slow time.  There are no hand-baskets.  Every item in the warehouse is huge and bulky.  Buying in large quantities can save loads of cash, but shopping Costco can be an exercise in frustration.

What to do:

0.5.  Make a list.

Also, make sure your list is in sections–all refrigerated items, then all dry food, then beauty products, then medicine, for example.  Even better if you know your Costco’s layout so you can make the items on your list correspond to the order of their sections.

1.  Go in a pair.

Drag your spouse along.  Bribe a friend.  Make your (older) kids help.

2.  Sit

Your partner in crime in the furniture section.  With the huge shopping cart.

3.  Find.

Now, you take your list and hustle to the section containing the heaviest items.  Cat litter, trash bags, soda should have been my first stops.

4.  Haul.

Grab each item in turn, and walk it back to your shopping partner and cart.  It’s physically laborious  but the shopping goes a TON faster without having to navigate those awkward and heavy carts around other people, the snack carts, and big store merch.

5.  Pack.

While you walk to the next heaviest item in the section, your shopping-mate packs the cart according to price.  Cool and I try to split the grocery costs in half.

6.  Hurry!

Hustle, carry, and drop off all the items until all but 2 items on the list are exhausted.  I got $275 of items to satisfy all needs of 2 people for Spring semester in 20 minutes.  Twenty-minutes, people.  Be impressed.

7.  Sweat.

When all is said and done, drop to the sofa and recuperate while your partner in crime gets out of the couches to get one surprise item not on the list–in our case yummy cinnamon rolls from the bakery.

8.  Line-up.

One of you grab a place in the check-out line.  The other retrieves the last 2 items on the list–hopefully medicine or something near the front of the store.

9.  Stress-free!

You’ve done it!  No waiting for stupid people to get out of the middle of the aisle.  No heaving a heavy unruly cart against giant sized breakable displays.  No waiting or frustration.  And bonus–a great workout for the carrier.

10.  Carry.

Now you just have to get the massive groceries from car to house!  I suggest doing this in shifts–leave stuff in the car that doesn’t have to go right away.

11.  12.  13.  14.  15.  Winning!  To the power of 4.

Best of 2012: NEW ALBUMS

6 Jan

Best Music Produced in 2012:

Finally.  I intended on publishing this on New Years Eve when it’s a little more relevant.  These important decisions take time, and listening.  Several listenings to really pars apart the minute details between albums.  It’s a more subjective measure, then just copying LastFM statistics.  You can’t use the stats, because albums produced later in the year are at a disadvantage.  So this is based on my careful listening and whittling of songs–as well as my own unsubstantiated opinions and feelings.  Oh, and let’s get this out of the way right off the bat–I in no way italicized or put into quotations album or song titles.  This took a look time to write (as you can see by the post date of Jan 6), and I just didn’t devote any more time then necessary to grammar.  Just appreciate the music, and forget proper English, OK?  So finally, finally the long awaited, BEST OF 2012 ALBUMS blog (from good to *glorious–for you, mom).  Enjoy–I know I enjoyed listening and writing it.


Honorable Mentions:

30.  The Fray–which I found a little too churchy to stand up.

29.  Jack Johnson’s live HI benefit album, which featured many other artists, but was too libertine.

28.  Rhythms Del Mundo with their African remixes of popular songs.

the Fray

27.  Carrie Underwood-Blown Away

Meh–I can’t say I was.  I found it too poppy for the most part.  I want a little more range and a little more country twang from Carrie.  What I got was a very commercial effort and three songs I could settle on liking.  Maybe next album, Carrie will write more of her own material, get back to her roots, or at least construct the CD without sales figures and commercial appeal in mind.

Carrie Underwood

26.  Matt & Kim-Sidewalks

I suppose I like the IDEA of the album much more then I actually liked Sidewalks.  Indie music seems so cool, so hipster.  But each song was too similar to the next for me to really appreciate the whole album.  After a quick couple of listens I was tired of hearing the same song in slightly different variation.  I found only two songs which I liked for longer then a day.

25.  Ke$ha-Warrior

Mmmm, this one was good for working out, and I’m sure dancing.  I fount it to be a slightly immature record though.  Maybe I dislike a very genre-specific record.  It certainly makes sense that I redered a very country-pop, indie, and dance-pop albums to the bottom of my 2012 list.  On this one my attention was only captured momentarily, the songs were too poppy to hold up even over a week.  I think Ke$ha has potential as an artist if she can write a little deeper lyrics, while keeping the dancy beats.

24.  Jason Mraz-Love is a Four Letter Word

At first I was very enamored with Love is a Four Letter Word.  I couldn’t get enough of the catchy tunes, and Jason’s commentaries about the songs.  It just didn’t hold up over time though.  The more I listened, the more I got annoyed with certain songs, or intros to the songs.  So unfortunately  what started out as a very, very good thing, ended up on the chopping block so to speak.  By the end of the year I was left with just 5 songs I felt were outstanding and liked to play repeatedly.

where's Peter

23.  White Rabbits-Milk Famous

Apparently, in my best-of 2012, I require several things:  Originality, while being true to the expected sound.  Check.  Coolness factor.  They have it.  Many good songs, that mean something to me and that I can listen to anywhere and on repeat.  Sure.  Several Genres.  This is where the White Rabbits fell flat.  They are indy and hipster and original, and yet each song on Milk Famous was much the same.  Just OK.


22.  Pink-The Truth About Love

I like Pink.  Always have.  I don’t care how immature or how volatile a person she is.  And this album was no exception, I found songs I could sing to, feel emotionally, and dance with.  And I loved how she featured other artists for the first time.  Good things–I like six songs.  But a good, chart-topping, year wowing album requires more then one awesome single and a few notable duets.  There is just no way to put The Truth About Love at the top of any list.  When you listen, you know it’s the junk food of female pop artists. Pink may have a little more staying power then most, and she may have slightly more to say lyrically, but there is just something about this album that isn’t adult.  Despite serious subject matter, Pink is unable to delve deep into her (or my) psyche to warrant serious success.  I want more songs like “Sober” and “Who Knew” that really stop me in my tracks while still being singable.

21.  Alicia Keys-Girl On Fire

Alicia does a good job straddling the line between R&B, piano, pop, soul, and jazz music.  For that, I have to rank Girl on Fire toward the top-more albums of 2012.  In addition, good CD title too.  That said, I only liked six of the offerings.  Usually, with Alicia’s music, I can’t really LOVE each song, but grow attached to at least one.  Not so with Girl on Fire.  No song really grew on me as they had with past albums.  So she gets mediocre rank.

LF polar bear

20.  Minus the Bear-Infinity Overhead

I just expected more.  There was nothing wrong with Infinity Overhead (except that terrible, gritty video for “Steel & Blood”) but I had hoped for more.  The songs were good.  Easy listeners, that were repeatable.  Indy and cool and true to their roots.  I guess I looked forward to the album release so much that these seven songs I ended up liking most did not measure up.  Good music, but a let-down all the same.


19.  Dave Matthews Band-Away From the World

I really hate to say it–I do.  Especially as a relatively new fan, whose favorite moment of 2012 was The Gorge Concert on Labor Dave Weekend.  Away From the World wasn’t the best CD DMB has ever put out.  Sure, “Mercy” grows on you and the video concepts are amazing.  There are just no stand out songs, and certainly not of sufficent length, jams, or live footage.  Now, I’m hungering for a new album already, because 2012’s just didn’t do the band justice.  I wish I could rank this one higher. . .

18.  Alanis Morressette-Havoc and Bright Lights

I’m not afraid to say it–I loved Jagged Little Pieces.  Not a popular opinion anymore.  It was one of my staple CDs for years–still is in the case of a break up.  After Jagged though, Alanis sort of lost her edge for me.  I didn’t really love her efforts until this year.  And this album features a lot of songs I don’t hate.  Though I can’t really say I felt much toward them.  I would classify Havoc and Bright Lights as unobtrusive.  The best album Alanis has put out in years, but not a knock out, stand out by any means.  It’s good background or study music.

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17.  Bon Iver-Stems Project

This album was produced very early in 2012.  And it’s sits toward the middle of my favorites list despite eventual categorization as just unobtrusive, because it has a couple things.  Different variations of the same song?  Surprisingly a good idea.  It has a very original vibe?  Yup.  Indie? sure.  Hipster? definitively.  And yet, it’s not presumptuous.  Stems Project may not have any stand-alone, stand out songs, but in it’s achievement as indy-hip minus the attitude, I commend it.

Fiona Apple-Criminal

16.  Fiona Apple-crazily long obnoxious title, I’m not going to try to write out.

Jarring.  That’s the most effective description I can think of for *insert longest most unwieldy album title of all time here*  This is over a couple of other artist offerings, because even though I could hardly listen to some of the songs, Fiona was saying something.  Sometimes in a good way, oftentimes exceeding my listening saturation point.  I do like that Fiona did her own thing.  She made her own rules, and really went for it–not keeping an eye on record label profits.  Respectful effort for sure, and I can see potential again, because we all know Fiona can be a little unstable and unpredictable as a person–though she channeled that nicely for the album.  I do suggest less shouting and a shorter title for the next project.  Oh, and by the way, I don’t know if anyone can beat Fiona’s singing chops with her garble-waver and range of pitch.

15.  Amy Ray-Lung of Love

I always have love for any half of the Indigo Girls.  And I feel like Lung of Love has a more country feel to it.  Which is an awesome addition to the rock, folk, and punk infused grooves she already has going.  Extra bonus points for incorporating Brandi Carlile’s voice.  I also like the other featured artists on this album.  Except, I don’t know what it is, but Amy Ray has this way of getting a momentum where every song has the same vibe.  Even with all those different genres and contributing artists.  I start to wonder where one songs ends and the other begins.  And it isn’t in a cohesive–this CD has a theme way.  It’s like she finds an original sound, then sticks to that same sound too much, so that by the end of the CD it’s not novel at all.  I say an album that goes together is fine–but too much of a good sound just becomes boring.

Indigo Girls

14.  A Fine Frenzy-PINES

I love the enchanting whimsy of A Fine Frenzy in general.  And this album, certainly gels together in a nice theme.  Problem the best presented cohesive package of the year.  The only trouble with PINES is the length of some of the songs.  A couple of my favorites are 6-7 minutes long.  A few are just extraneous in length.  Anyway, a nice dramatic effort, that will last in time for sure.

CO wildflower

13.  Green Day-Uno, Dose, Tres

Though there were technically three albums, I judge as one musical effort this year.  Of course, conceptually, the guys deserve kudos for thinking outside the box and producing three separate  yet combinable CDs each several months apart.  I think it’s a great marketing ploy, it’s different, and it’s creative.  Together-it’s a lot too many songs, that tend to blend toward one sound.  Many songs lack their own characteristics, instead being obvious “fillers.”  Yet, I’m not sure I would have liked the 12 songs I ended up liking well, AS much if they would have been on just one disc, as one offering.  So I rank Green Day as top of the middle in my 2012 list, if nothing else for their creativity in bucking a rigid label-system to produce three mini-albums at three intervals.

12.  Keane-Strangeland

There was a different vibe on 2012’s CD then Keane had in the past.  Still good, just another variety   The one thing I disliked was really based on a feeling, then tangible qualities.  I felt like Keane had a certain umm, what’s the right word?  Not arrogance–that’s too much.  Just a level of comfort and familiarity that comes with being sure of success.  I got the feeling Keane feels established enough to not TRY and struggle to make it anymore.  Which, they may have a well-established fan-base, but I think very few artists truly get to stop worrying about their number of listeners.  It ranked just slightly lower because it’s heavy Europe.  There is just a UK vibe that, as a true American (I suppose) turned me off.  This makes it sound like I didn’t like the record at all, which isn’t the case at all.  I felt very strongly toward the 12 songs I did like though, and there were plenty more offered on Strangeland.

11.  Eisley-The Valley

It’s difficult to believe that more then one person is singing.  The blending is impeccable.  I think the musicality, the beats especially, are improved from their last few albums.  If I had to describe what Eisley does to me when I listen to The Valley, it’s to tear delicately.  The lyrics and peaceful pitch gets inside my head and heart, and the emotion behind along with the instrumentation rips at my insides.  It’s a soft assault on my sensibilities.

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10.  Maroon 5-Overexposed

I have no idea what it is.  These guys are just different from everybody else.  I really can’t put my finger on what makes their music so outstanding.  They can say mean things in ways that get stuck in your head.  Their beat initiates dance moves unparalleled.  They are poppy, and seem uncategorizable (yeah, I make up words to suit my purposes) as anything else.  Yet, it isn’t mindless, bubble-gum dance pop that is fleeting and superficial.  A relative flurry of music in the last two years doesn’t hurt to keep them on the radar.  But it’s more than that, too.  I guess that’s what is so great about Overexposed–you don’t know what makes it shine, and why you can’t stop listening.  But you do.

9.  Trampled by Turtles-Stars & Satellites

Damn you Trampled by Turtles!  First off, they get marked down where no one else was even judged, for NOT having any merch featuring a group of turtles, or any turtle at all.  If an animal is in your band name you HAVE to have it on at least one piece of merchandise!  Rawr.  Anyway, the music–ugh, I wanted more fat-playing banjo and fiddle.  I wanted upbeat, dancing blue-grunge or whetever they call their hybrid bluegrass, country, rock, indy, folk music.  But Stars and Satellites was quiet and thoughtful.  Which is not bad.  Not at all.  Just not exactly what I wanted.  So even though I liked every single song, and found no problems (other than the afore-mentioned merch dearth) they are here.  Because the prior CD was better.  That’s all.

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8.  Lifehouse-Almeria

The same band, but just different enough to be totally new–that’s the beauty of Almeria.  I liked the bouncier, dancier songs, though they were still laid-back and chill as Lifehouse has ever been.  I liked this especially, because with such a dramatic change of style, it doesn’t seem forced or over-marketed.  I don’t see Lifehouse catering to record labels or commercial interests with this change.  It just feels like an establishment of maturity.  A great effort, and I can’t want for more.

7.  Ben Folds 5-The Sound of the Life On the Mind

Yay they’re back!  Ben Folds +/- Five is like a club.  You just have to know to understand.  And apparently, I hold membership, because I’m finding it difficult to explain this to outsiders:  It’s less piano (which I loved) but still awesome.  Though the songs on The Sound of the Life On the Mind (or something to that effect-damn, keep album titles short!) seem somehow more down-tempo they are still captivating.  And not really down-tempo.  I totally just said two opposing statements, but it makes sense if you compare the older stuff to this new release.  At any rate, I found seven really solid songs and can’t stop listening to them.  What else can you say, but listen?

6.  Matchbox Twenty-North

Another YAY, they’re back.  What’s the refrain–again with more feeling?  That’s how I felt with North.  It’s everything great about Matchbox 20, lyrically superior, emotion, singable, textured.  But with more feeling.  Every song resonated with me.  I left the CD wanting more.  That’s why they’re in this position.  Also, they don’t really transcend genres or have a purely original sound.  That’s not criticism, just when you have to rank the best albums of a year it comes down to the meticulous details to differentiate the top from the superior.  And these guys are comfortably at the top.

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5.  David Gray-Foundling

A surprise new favorite.  Like everybody else I had heard David Gray, liked some of the more popular songs, then regaled him to the background.  Between 2012 Draw the Line and Foundling, I found 20 songs that I could not tire of.  Yes, they are still good for the background, but the more I listened, the more I felt in tune with David’s unpretentious croonings.  A secret success, that’s already has a huge fan-base.  Add me.

4.  John Mayer-Born & Raised

Growth, so much growth can be ascertained from this album.  I’ve always liked John, but I found Born & Raised to be his best work yet.  It was just the right blend of emotional, country, soul-searching, and pop.  I liked nearly every song, and thought the effort raised above commercial marketing and genre alone.  He stood alone and was his own person, overcoming, sameness (cute guy + guitar) syndrome.  It feels like John grew up, and with that maturity found his real musical niche.

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3.  Adele-21

Oh the talent! I have nothing new to say, that hasn’t already been said or written throughout the year.  This gal is the real deal–no disputing that.  Belying her physical appearance, she can belt it out like a soul-queen.  Riveting and heart-felt, that’s how I would describe 21.  And the ONLY reason she doesn’t rate higher on my list, is she put the album out too early in the year.  Last January, and due to over-play, I’m somewhat over it.  As much as a person can be, anyway.  Not Adele’s fault, or by any lacking of the music quality at all either.  I’ve just had enough for now.  I see this album will be classic, and remain on best-off all-time lists.

2.  Brandi Carlile-Bear Creek

Believe you me–I wanted to pick Brandi’s CD as the top album of the year.  If only for cute-ness factor (Brandi’s not the album).  But there is that ONE song on Bear Creek that I alone just do not feel.  Everyone else likes it, but this is my list, and that song took the CD down a notch.  Anyway, Bear Creek is amazing.  I feel it transcends genres, is re-playable, goes with any activity or mood, and does well live. I also thing it will stand up to the test of time.

Brandi cute cowgirl

And–drumroll please–the number one album of 2012–as I see it:

1.  Mumford & Sons-Babel

Musically and lyrically.  Catchy with longevity.  Multiple listens in a variety of contexts.  I deem Babel the number one album of 2012, just because I was able to listen to it everywhere over and over without tiring of it.  Also, because I enthusiastically liked each song.  The ONLY downfall is Mumford & Sons don’t tour in the U.S. widely if at all.  I would happily take in a concert of theirs!

Best of 2012: MOMENTS

3 Jan

Favorite Moments of 2012:

11.  Seeing Dad in the summer.

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This would be a higher level moment if we weren’t at a funeral for an unexpected death.  Not that any funeral is great.  As it was, I really miss Dad and it was happy-times to see him–however briefly.

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10.  Camp & Hike for Cool’s B-day in June.

This one was so fun because it was a birthday.  I got to meet one of Cool’s school friends–and I actually liked her a lot.  We got to actual-camp, with fire and s’mores and everything, for the first time together.  A hike to a waterfall was involved, and who wouldn’t like that?

9.  Brandi Carlile at Seattle Symphony in November

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This event was much anticipated, and is only this low on the list due to travel fatigue, residual mother-in-law issues, and end of semester stress.  The concert was obviously amazing though.  We had good seats, and the set-list was memorable.  And you know how I feel about Brandi. . .

8.  Receiving loan money in excess of tuition (in November).

This item may seem like it doesn’t belong on a “best of” list, but believe me–this was a stellar moment for me.  And the first of its kind.  I had never before seen any money from these loans I’m always having to pull out and pay for the rest of my life.  Usually they go straight to the school to pay the owed tuition.  All I get is the hassle of applying, trouble of hoop-jumping with the school and lender, and the repayments.  Oh the repayments. . .  So actually getting a check in the mail was a highlight!  And I will say, I was slightly irresponsible due to the glee and got highlights.  I’m just a person.

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7.   The Fur Ball in Nov.  Gosh, November must have been a good month.

Was memorable because it was the fanciest event Cool had ever been to.  At Noah’s Ark, they paid for a table at the Gentle Doctor’s Benefit yearly, so I got to dress up, eat the catering  take part in the auctions, and be glamorous.  This was the first event Cat’s Meow had ever done as a group.  But Cool has never experienced anything remotely like that–so it was really amazing to be there with her.  Especially since she had been invited in the summer, then uninvited when there were new hires, so she was lucky to attend.  Plus, we looked really spectacular.  Yep, I went there.  Deal.

6.  Julyamish Pow-wow (also July).

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This one stems from the disappointment of having douchi relatives who ruined my birthday plans of getting together in Montana.  The extended family forgot us, and my parents reneged.  After being so sad about missing out on family opportunities, I was very pleased to see a pow-wow in such close proximity to our apartment.  We took in the dancing, tried elk and alligator, and I got a bead-work belt that I will keep as a memento all my life.  It was a good time.  And one we’ll attend this next summer.

5.  A+ in Speech & Hearing Disorders (May)

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This item was also borne of strife.  The school really tried to disallow and dissuade me from taking my first Speech and Hearing Sciences course as a non-degree-seeking student.  They were ornery and unsupportive of my plan to start the degree.  I am so proud of my A, because I proved them wrong and showed them I could–despite not having taken the pre-requisite.

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4.  Visit to The German in May.

I absolutely love THE German in mid-Washington!  And this was an especially nice break from the semester and the horribleness that had occurred at work (everyone went on vacation the same month, during my final projects and exam).  It was a charmed trip too–we found a secret and free camping spot right next to the shops and river.  Bought hats that make me feel cooler then I actually am.  Found a seat upstairs on a balcony when all the other decks were overrun.  And had the best (jalapeno-cheddar) brot of my LIFE.  Good-times.  One year I will take the train in the winter to see the lighting ceremony and guide some sled dogs!

3.  109% on Anatomy Exam #3 (October).

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Enough cannot be said of this item.  After so much anticipation, worry, and preparation -not to mention studying.  We had 3 exams in October–three!  And the exam before this one–phonatory system was an icky 92% when I felt I had prepared for a higher grade.  Well, I got the A+ I hoped for, and additional points I had not dreamed of.  It feels–there are no words for how nice it feels, actually.

2.  Walla Walla, for 29th B-day (July, of course)

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I do love my birthday.  And this was a wonderful one.  It was beautiful–the Palouse, and the cute town, and the farm-land too.  It was cheap–say what?  FREE wine-tastings your whole birthday month?!  We were out of Spokompton and away from work and stress.  The town was adorable, did I mention that?  The food plentiful–sushi, QUAIL, ice wine.  Really, how could we go wrong?  I had such an amazing weekend that I am determined to have my big-milestone 30th birthday here too.  Determined.  Work be damned.

And–the BEST moment of 2012?  Surprise, it’s a concert.

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1.  Labor Dave Weekend.

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We had that 2011 disappointment of getting tickets for Saturday then trying to attend (unsuccessfully) on Sunday.  The horrid mix-up really was the worst thing that could happen.  But that made THIS trip all the better.  We purchased actual seats.  GOOD seats.  I prepared.  I listened to the songs.  I dressed appropriately.  We pre-gamed.  I managed to be a laid-back good-time-girl.  Which is really not my normal M.O.  The concert really could not have gone better.  I’ll remember it always.

DMB on stage

So there you have it–my top moments of 2012.  Funny how they are concentrated into a few months.  I can’t even expect 2013 to be half as great–if for no other reason that there’s just not the money to do it, let along time off work and school–at the same time as Cool either.  But that’s OK, 2013 will be a back to our roots, simple fun kind of year.  We have nature.  We have Netflix.  And we have Spotify.  Not to mention each other.  We will re-learn to appreciate the ordinary and make our own fun.  If we can squeeze some fun out of our Seattle existence–we can manage it in 2013.  File under-trying to convince myself.