Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.
Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)
So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)
And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.
You know. Like everyone else.
I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).
I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.
And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?
I’m just busy.
And so damn scared.
Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)
So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.
Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.
Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.
It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.
I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.
But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)
What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?
Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.
And my year will be one that was not half-lived.
*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest).
Last Thursday I went to run a quick errand at Target and saw the 100.7 KHAY van in the parking lot and saw a station remote set up. I walked by and said hello and was asked if I wanted to try to win VIP tickets to the Oakheart Country Music Festival on Saturday.
“Oh, I already have tickets,” I said, “but I’ll take a swag bag, if that’s okay.” I chatted with the radio station people for a few minutes and then went into Target for my errand. (You’re dying to know what I had to buy at Target, aren’t you? Well, guess what – I’m not going to tell you, because it’s irrelevant to the story, and I’m trying to be more pithy with my words.)
What was I saying? Oh yeah. As I was paying for my purchase, I realized that they were giving away VIP tickets and I had GA – why not try to win? So I marched back to the tent and told them I did want to enter the contest. They told me the winner had to be present and they were drawing names in 20 minutes. It seemed I had a pretty good chance as there were only a couple of people lurking around, so I went into Target to kill time before the drawing and looked at all their cute summer clothes that I will not be buying due to my serious money diet and (baby) steps towards minimalization.
I came out and there were about five people milling about hoping to have their name pulled. A one in six chance at VIP tickets? Sweet! At precisely 2:30 a name was drawn and… it was not mine. Oh well. Then the guy from the radio station said he had a pair of GA tickets, did we want him to draw another name? Everyone said yes, so he pulled another name and I WON!
“You know what?” I said. “I already have GA tickets – I was just trying to get an upgrade. Pull someone else.”
He pulled the name of a woman who was so happy to win. “I tried to buy tickets, but they were sold out,” she told me. “Thank you so much,” she said, giving me a hug.
I went home feeling happier about my good deed than disappointed about not getting the upgrade. When I told the story three separate times to my three family members at home, every one of them said, “You should have taken the tickets and sold them.”
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked them. “It felt so good to see that woman so happy. I’m writing it in my happiness journal.”
On Saturday I sat down at my computer at two-thirty to print the tickets as my friend, Simmah was coming over at three o’clock to pick me up for the show.
I couldn’t find them.
My search for Oakheart resulted in 20 different emails telling me that tickets were on sale, Josh Turner, David Nail and Drake White were added to the line up, get your VIP tickets NOW, and tickets are almost sold out – hurry!, but no email with a link to my tickets.
I logged into Eventbrite, figuring I’d find my tickets there and saw my tickets for the Boots and Brews Country Music Festival in two weeks, but no Oakheart tickets.
I found the email to Simmah dated December 15th – did she want to go? Tickets, normally $50, were on sale that day only for half price. The line up hadn’t been announced (or even secured), but it seemed like a $25 gamble worth taking.
I did buy the tickets, didn’t I?
I searched my bank records to find that indeed I did. I looked up the company i purchased the tickets from online and tried to get in touch with their customer service department. I sent them an email. I called them. I even tried to contact their Customer Service Manager via in-mail on LinkedIn. But it’s a small company located in Georgia and it was now almost six o’clock eastern time. On a Saturday. No luck.
According to their FAQs (which were ridiculously hard to find, BTW) they mail their tickets via USPS. I didn’t remember getting tickets in the mail, but I purchased them six months ago. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so it’s possible. (Okay, I do actually remember what I had for breakfast yesterday -full fat plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola- the same thing I have every morning, but you know what I’m saying!) There are only a few places I’d put something like that so I searched all those places. Nothing.
My book says the F word 42 times. I said it a lot more times than that in this frantic half hour period.
Simmah got to my house and I told her the news. She helped me look for the tickets. I did more email searches. And yes, I checked my spam folders. Still nothing.
Why did I give away the tickets I won to that stupid woman?! They only sold out five days before the show. She had a whole six months to buy them! I’m crossing that out of my happiness journal. I do something so nice and look what happens to me. There is no such thing as karma. Why do bad things always happen to me? Shit!
I was so mad at myself for waiting until the last minute to print the tickets and mostly for disappointing my friend. She said it was fine, things happen, we’re going to a bunch of concerts this year. After two hours of fruitless searching we decided to do what any rational person would do in this situation: sit in the backyard and drink wine.
“Why don’t you just go and see if your name is at will call,” Dave said, sticking his head out of the sliding glass door. “Then at least you can tell the company you did everything when you call them on Monday and demand your money back.”
I rolled my eyes. Husbands are so dumb. There is no way I’d be on a will call list, but we finished our glass of wine and decided to try. The festival was only 15 minutes away and we’d put some feelers out to see if anyone had extra tickets – maybe we’d get lucky.
And miraculously, we did.
My name was on the freaking list.
So I guess sometimes husbands are pretty smart. (But don’t tell him I said that!)
“I hate it when you’re right,” I texted him. “My name was on the list. We’re in.”
“I know shit about shit,” he texted back. He’s right. He does.
The music was great. I saw my niece. I ran into a good friend. Two different people bought us beer.
It was our lucky day.
“I listened to my husband and he was right,” I wrote in my happiness journal. (But seriously. Do not tell him I said that.)
Two weeks ago I cleaned out my closet. I was inspired by my friend Kim who told me that on April 1st she was going to participate in Project 333, which is a capsule wardrobe concept in which you choose thirty-three items for your wardrobe and can only wear those thirty-three items for the next three months.
The items include clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories and outerwear. (Outerwear?! Really?!) They do not include underwear, pajamas, loungewear and workout wear. But, workout wear is only for working out and loungewear is only for lounging at home. So if you’re regularly sporting those Lululemons (or like me, those Costcolemons) for your Saturday errands or trips to the soccer field you have to count them too.
I know, it sounds terrible, right?
But still, I considered it. Would it be possible to wear just thirty-three items over the next three months? It shouldn’t be that difficult because I work remotely part of the time and only go into my office about three days a week. And the days I work from home I wear the same yoga pants, tank top and sloppy sweatshirt as if they’re a required uniform.
The philosophy behind Project 333 is to simplify your life. To make it easier, not harder. It’s not about suffering, but rather streamlining your decision-making process in the morning and saving time and money from not continually shopping. And we all know that we only wear about a third of our closet anyway. But my closet is grossly overstuffed and a third of it is way more than 33 items.
Also, since your choices are so limited, you choose the items that you love best and the items that fit now. Those jeans that haven’t fit since you lost ten pounds from the flu two years ago aren’t nagging at you every time you open your closet. Every time you get dressed you feel good in what you’re wearing.
I read the Nazi-like rules guidelines and decided to see how much I could eliminate from my closet. Rather than pull things from your closet you are supposed to take everything out and put your 33 items back in. I didn’t do that. (So I was already breaking the rules at step one.) But I did pull like I’ve never pulled before. I made four piles – one to donate; one of things that no longer fit, but I plan on fitting into again (someday); one to pack away to see if I needed something so badly I was willing to get it out of the attic (I’m guessing I’ll forget what’s up there); and one to put in Chandler’s closet (he’s away at college) so the items were out-of-sight, but still easily accessible.
I also got rid of all the crap that was shoved in the bottom of my closet.
5 (yes, five) gallon-sized Ziploc bags of old make-up, scrunchies, stale cough drops, and hotel shampoos (don’t ask).
6 pairs of shoes -in boxes- from the 90’s that I probably haven’t worn since then.
Various backpacks and gym bags.
A still-in-the-box off-brand Nerf gun in a Target bag presumably a gift for one of my kids when they were little.
The bottom of my closet was like a clown car – things kept tumbling out of it. I wasn’t sure it was going to end.
Then I rearranged my closet. My clothes have always been color-coded from light-to-dark (actually, the black clothes are on the left side and the white clothes are on the right side, so I guess technically it’s dark to light, but whatever), but work and casual clothes have always been mixed together. So I separated the work clothes from the not-work clothes. I left my dresses kind of a jumbled mess. I’m a dress girl (even though I don’t wear them nearly as often as I used to) and am a tad bit emotionally attached to them. Culling my dresses might require therapy. But they are on the far side of the closet – out of the way.
I put the hangers on backwards and have been flipping them the right way as I wear something. In three months I’ll reassess. If a hanger hasn’t been flipped the right way, that means I haven’t worn that article of clothing and don’t need it anymore. Or maybe don’t need it. We’ll see.
I didn’t get it down to 33 items. Not even close. But I could if I wanted to. Probably. Maybe. But still, my newly pared down closet is like a breath of fresh air. Every time I look inside I feel calm. Happy.
Less is more. I’m working toward being more with less. (Even if my less is more than thirty-three.)
“Look how white my legs are,” I said to Dave. I was getting dressed for a Jake Owen concert on the beach -the Coastal Country Jam- and I’d put shorts on for the first time this year. It felt like summer outside, but my legs are nowhere near summer ready.
“You’re going to a country show. You will definitely not be the whitest person there. That’s the last thing you have to worry about,” he told me.
My husband’s funny.
Usually when I go to the beach I put on board shorts and a tank top over a bikini (I don’t know why – it’s not like any part of me except my feet is going in the water), pull my dirty hair into a ponytail and throw on a hat. But this was a concert. I wanted to look cute. So even though it was at the beach I put on make-up and ran my dirty hair through a flat iron, hoping it would hold off the frizz the humid beach air likes to gift upon me for a little while. I was bringing a hat, but if I chose to put it on my bangs would be smashed and my hair would be under the hat for the rest of the day.
“Okay, look how old and jiggly my legs are,” I said.
“I’ve got to go outside and play with the dog,” he responded.
My husband is also smart.
I then had the following text exchange with my girlfriend:
I decided to go with the shorts. I definitely need more time at the gym (which is impossible right now because my plantar fasciitis is flaring up), but my legs are not going to get tan under leggings.
I put the leggings in my beach bag along with my favorite jacket from Costco and pushed aside the memory of Marley telling me I looked like a suburban mom going to the gym when I wore the same jacket/legging combo last week. It really shouldn’t matter what I wear to a concert on the beach. I’m 50 (alright, 51, whatever). Who cares? It’s not like I’m hanging out backstage with the band. It’s just… when I’m at a concert I feel young and free which is harder to do when you’re dressed like a suburban mom.
When I got to my girlfriend’s she was wearing leggings. And of course she looked cute. Not like a suburban mom at all. (Maybe because she isn’t one.) I decided to change into mine. Fuck it. Be comfortable. I reminded myself nobody cares what I’m wearing.
When we got to the beach it was actually kind of hot so we changed into our shorts in the car. As we walked into the show I saw a guy on his cellphone who looked exactly like Jake Owen. As we passed him, I mentioned it to Simmah. She said she didn’t see him. She’s the one who really loves Jake Owen, so if it was him she would have noticed. Plus that’s crazy – he wouldn’t be in the parking lot at his own show.
We’d picked up lunch on the way, but since there was no outside food or drink allowed, we sat outside the entrance to finish our sodas (or rather the Costco trailer trash margaritas we’d poured into our soda cups).
As we were sitting there the dude I saw on the phone walked onto the tour bus.
Do you understand what just happened? It was Jake Owen.
So, not only did I have a chance of getting a selfie with Jake Owen at his own concert in the parking lot, I had a chance to get a selfie with Jake Owen at his own concert in the parking lot before my hair frizzed and I started piling on the mom clothes and still looked cute. But I blew it. I suck.
We went into the show. There was a huge stage with an open pit to stand in with a designated area for beach chairs behind it. In the back there were vendors, a smaller covered stage, and a mechanical bull riding pen. We set down our chairs, settled in for the day. I felt a little sorry for Jake hiding on that tour bus all day. The weather was perfect. The people watching was prime, so I took in the fashion show. Perfect-bodied twenty-somethings in thong bikinis. Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots (yes, cowboy boots – on the beach). Cute little rompers. (Who wears a romper to a nine hour show when your only bathroom option is an outhouse?)
Then, I saw these shoes.
Did they know where they were going? A concert, yes, but we were on the beach! That was when I laughed at myself. Who cares what I was wearing? The weather was beautiful, the music was great, I was spending the day with one of my best friends and we had a day drinking margarita buzz. Everything was perfect.
Around 6:00 it started to cool down. We changed back into our leggings. (Yes, in the outhouses, which were plentiful and surprisingly not that gross.) I put on my mom jacket. I even traded my flip flops for tennis shoes because my foot was flaring up again. You know what? I didn’t care.
We headed over to the pit before Jake took the stage. (And really, when you’re smashed in with all those people nobody can see what you’re wearing anyway.) When Jake took the stage I sang along.
“Never gonna grow up (Whoa-oh) Never gonna slow down (Whoa-oh) We were shinin’ like lighters in the dark In the middle of a rock show (Whoa-oh)”
I have to be honest, people. This year’s Oscar post (like the end of the show – OMG!!!) is going to be a bit of a mess. I wasn’t able to watch the red carpet (I know!) because my father is in town from Austin and we had a family barbecue/reunion at the same time. (Talk about rude!) Of course we recorded it, or tried to, but something went wonky with the DVR and it didn’t record. We also missed the first 80 minutes of the show, so there’s that. (I was able to watch Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue online – brilliant!)
So, instead of sitting down and watching the show and giving it my full attention (as I like to do even though I literally saw zero of the movies) I half-watched while I scanned the internet for red carpet photos. I tried to enlist Marley’s help, but she’s battling strep throat and just wasn’t feeling it. She did give me some input, but quit half-way through.
That’s my overly long and pathetic excuse as to why this year’s Academy Award Red Carpet post is lame, and like Price Waterhouse, I might be out of a job next year. (Except they got paid a lot of money for their fuck-up, while I just do this out of the goodness of my heart.) Also, remember, I always do this in a rush and don’t have time to edit, so there’s sure to be tons of mistakes.
With that being said and without further adieu, here is my 2017 Oscar Red Carpet Review…
First what I did not like:
Janelle Monáe Um… No! I actually appreciate the provocativeness of this dress and think it’s very pretty. Or it would be very pretty if it didn’t have that tulle bustle or peplum or whatever you call it on the side. (Seriously, what the effity eff is that?!) Again… No! Less is more and the less of this dress would be so much more if that bustle/peplum was gone, baby gone!
Marley: Elie Saab might need to take a break in designing dresses, because obviously he cannot design a good dress. I mean honestly, what is that mess he put on her?
(BTW, I wanted to post a picture of Meryl Streep in her beautiful Elie Saab creation last night, but I can’t seem to find a picture of the entire dress. Unless it’s of Meryl tripping on the red carpet and I won’t post that, so Marley is right that this dress is a mess, but wrong about the overall design-worthiness of Elie Saab.)
Dakota Johnson I can’t tell what’s worse, this terrible dress or her stupid hair. Where did she get it done at the #TBT 1976 salon? I usually find Dakota Johnson gorgeous and delightful – this look is neither of those things. I give this entire look two big fat thumbs down! (Oh how I wish Marley had felt up to panning this one!)
Naomie Harris I don’t hate this dress, but I am underwhelmed by it. It’s just, meh. If this dress had been long without the train I would have liked it, but it’s not, so I don’t. It’s trying too hard to be different and it doesn’t work for me.
Marley: All I can say is that Calvin Klein should probably stick to designing underwear, because that’s obviously all that he’s good at.
Ruth Negga This looks like an old fashioned wedding dress that was dyed red. I am not a fan.
Marley: I didn’t know that wearing your grandmother’s tablecloth is the new fashion.
Salma Hayek I simply adore Salma Hayek and think she is one of the most beautiful women in the world, but this dress looks like a long negligee. I’m going to have to put it in the nope pile.
Blanca Blanco Marley: Oh. My. God. This dress might be the most hideous of the night. The pattern is so ugly, the ruffles on the shoulders trigger me, and the color looks like something out of a mustard bottle.
First, who the hell is Blanca Blanco? Should I know who she is? Second, good thing we didn’t see the actual red carpet, because apparently Ms. Blanco wardrobe malfunctioned her lady parts and if those ruffles triggered Marley, god knows a vag flash would set her off the deep end. Third, holy hell, this dress is ugly. (But I will say, her shoes are spectacular. I know my friends Kim and Tina would LOVE them!)
Jessica Biel Jessica Biel is gorgeous and has great taste in men, but she is a fashion disaster. I think this dress is ugly. I will say that we did watch some of the red carpet at the BBQ and my twenty-five year old niece said the dress wasn’t ugly, it was bold. So maybe I’m just old and don’t know what I’m talking about. (I’m not and I do. I’m right, she’s wrong!)
Okay, and now on to what I did like…
Emma Stone Marley thinks Emma Stone looks like an Oscar in this dress, but I LOVE it! I especially love the way the fringe swished when she walked. Her hair, those earrings, that lipstick – perfection!
(BTW, Marley says she does not think that and I am a liar. But she did not like her dress. Actually, I don’t know if Marley liked any dresses this year. Sigh…)
Viola Davis I freaking love this dress. I love it! I want to wear it because it would hide my batwing upper arms (I do not think Viola Davis has batwing upper arms, she looks like she has toned, perfect, gorgeous arms) and I happen to look great in read. (I think everyone looks great in red.) Plus, she looks amazing. Her hair, her makeup – she is simply glowing. The only thing more stunning than Viola Davis was her speech. How elegant and spectacular she is.
Marley: There really wasn’t anything special about it. It’s a dress. (Just wait until you get the batwings Marley and come back and tell me how you feel about this dress then. It’s a family curse and your day will come, my young daughter. Your day will come!)
Brie Larson I think Brie Larson’s Oscar De La Renta’s dress is a masterpiece. The end.
Marley: She looks like she just stepped out of the shower with that hair. And that dress is more stiff than my English teacher’s humor.
Nicole Kidman Nicole Kidman usually makes my worst dressed list, but this year she surprised me. I think this dress is very pretty. Like her taste in men, her taste in fashion seems to be improving. (Oh, who am I kidding, when she married Tom Cruise, before he went off the crazy couch, he was hot AF.)
Marley: Oh no, she’s still on the worst dressed list. (Marley is WRONG!)
Halle Berry I’m sure I’ll get some push back for this, because I’ve already seen people panning this look online, calling the dress dated and the wig a big ol’ mess, but I love them both.
Olivia Culpo I have no idea who Olivia Culpo is and I have no time to do a search on Google. But I think this dress is gorgeous. It looks like a wedding dress Laney Delaney would design.
I thought this dress was just gorgeous. In fact I love her dress so much, you get to see the front and the back. Plus, I just love Chrissy Teigen. Yes, she is better than all of us and that’s okay. Someone has to be. And if you don’t follow her on Twitter, you should. (Her Twitter feed is also better than yours. And most definitely mine. Sorry, that’s just the cold, hard truth.)
And now some eye candy for the ladies (who am I kidding, except for my dad and my uncle, it’s all ladies reading this post).
Mahershala Ali Mahershala Ali is looking fine! I wish I’d seen him win his Oscar. I also didn’t see Moonlight, but he’s my crush on House of Cards. I heart him. 🙂
Ryan Gosling I have to admit, Ryan Gosling just doesn’t do it for me. (And, yes, I did see Crazy Stupid Love, and no, I did not see La La Land) I mean, he’s good looking, he’s just not for me. But because I care about my readers, and I do this for you, here you go ladies. Enjoy. Except for what the what with that ruffled tux? Did he go tux shopping with Dakota Johnson?
Marley: Next to being an overrated actor who isn’t that attractive, apparently now he’ll go down in the Oscar history books for the ugliest tux ever worn.
Javier Bardem Because he’s perfect.
And that is my 2017 Oscar Red Carpet recap. I’d love to hear what you think. Am I right? (Yes!) Am I wrong? (No!) What did I miss?
I considered just posting a picture of my children to explain why I marched in the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21st. No words. Just a picture. Mic drop and done.
But I promised Chandler I wouldn’t post pictures of him on my blog anymore. He doesn’t like it.
And besides, I marched for so much more.
Yes, I marched for my daughter, but I also marched for all women: for our reproductive rights, for the ability to remain in control of our bodies. For equal pay for equal work. I marched because we have elected a president who has repeatedly made derogatory remarks about women and that is not okay.
Yes, I marched for my son, an environmental major in college, who hopes to someday be a lawyer for the EPA, and fears there will no longer be one. But I also marched for every other person in this country, on this planet. We all deserve clean water, clean air and a sustainable place to live. I marched for my future grandchildren (if I should be so lucky), everyone’s future grandchildren, and future generations we will never meet. We are killing our planet. Climate change is real. Inconvenient truths are still truths and ignoring them will not make them go away, and will surely make them worse.
I marched for the LGBTQ community who are afraid of a scary vice president. If he believes their “gay can be prayed away,” how can he consider their rights legitimate? How can he serve them?
I marched for immigrants, for people of color, for the disabled – for every group that feels marginalized. Bigotry and exclusion do not make this country great.
I marched because you cannot take health insurance away from 20 million people without replacing it. (And by saying you will replace it with “something better” without having a plan as to what that “something better” is, is not replacing it.)
I marched in the name of peace. And because love always, always, always trumps hate.
I marched because there is strength in numbers. I marched to let the president, the vice president, the senate, and the congress know that they work for us. Our voices matter and they need to listen.
I marched in the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21, 2017 for my children. For women. For men. For me. For you. For everyone. And like so many, I’m just getting started.
I don’t care what you wear, Meryl Streep. I will love you forever.
Can I tell you guys something tragic? I missed the red carpet for the Golden Globes last night.
Okay, that’s not quite true. I did see it, but not until after 8:00 at night when the awards were playing on repeat. A few months ago I scheduled a book reading at a super cool book store called The Ripped Bodice in Culver City, not realizing it was at the exact same time as the Golden Globes Red Carpet & Awards. (Talk about a first world problem!)
So I asked Marley to step in and do the red carpet for me. And like a good daughter she sat down with my laptop on her lap and watched the E! Red Carpet and gave her commentary below. (I may have created a monster!) My commentary is in italics. Please enjoy!
Milo Ventimiglia Please shave, you look like a 70s porn star. Suit is looking good. I’m going to pretend that my 16-year-old daughter doesn’t know what a 70’s porn star looks like.
Ryan Seacrest Seriously? A white bow tie? Really? How many pleats are in that thing? Also, that tux jacket is ugly. Too many buttons.
Giuliana Rancic What is that dress? It looks like a toddler spilled glitter glue all over it and she said “eh, looks good.” Who is she wearing? A kindergartner’s art project. I have to admit – that’s pretty funny!
Your boob contouring is a little too obvious. And why does your dress basically go to your nipple line? But you’re a good person, so it’s okay. Before Marley pointed this out to me, I didn’t know “boob contouring” was a thing, but then I noticed all the women in low cut dresses had it.
Ross Matthews, aka the local gay (E! Red Carpet commentator) We all know we should save the bees, but you don’t need that disgusting broach.
Mandy Moore The dress fits her really well, the makeup is great and subtle. I usually hate capes, but It’s a good and complete overall look.
Lily Collins I love the color because it blends into her fair skin really well. She looks like a princess. I love that dress. (Me: I’m surprised you love that dress. Marley: Me too.)
Drew Barrymore That’s heinous. It’s swan wings glued to fabric. The vegans are probably angry.
Carrie Underwood Seriously? What is that?! That might top the list for the ugliest dress. Why does that even exist??? Me: It’s not so bad. I like the color. Marley: Seriously, Mom. I can’t even roast it. It’s so terrible I don’t even know what to say. Me: Oooh! Look at the back. I like the back! Marley: It’s stupid!
Tracee Ellis Ross WHY DO YOU HAVE MY COLLEGE TUITION ON YOUR FINGERS?!
Amy Adams I don’t like the top of the dress, but the dress as a whole is a great look and her figure looks great.
Natalie Portman Out of everything that you could have worn, you decided to wear that? It looks like a yellow tarp that they laid over you.
The style is very pretty and actually looks very “Jackie Kennedy” but that color. UGH!” If you’re going to wear yellow, wear yellow that looks like this:
Busy Phillips WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? THAT LOOKS LIKE SOMEBODY’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER’S TABLECLOTH. I think it looks more like cowboy boots, but I kind of like it. Plus, she looks gorgeous!
Michelle Williams The dress was nice but it fit really awkwardly and the choker was crooked. I am not a fan of the choker, but I think the dress fits perfectly.
Justin Timberlake and Friend Friend: The top is okay, sideboob is real. But the bottom is an ugly mess. It has a horrible pattern with these weird glued on flowers. Justin Timberlake: I like what he is wearing. Tom Ford designs well. Obviously Justin Timberlake’s “friend” is his wife, Jessica Biel, but Marley did not know who she was and I just had to leave it in as she wrote it, because it is a rare thing for your snarky 16-year-old to do something that is adorable!
Sienna Miller It’s a classy look with nice slits on the side. Not my favorite and I hate the ponytail, but if I had abs like that I’d probably wear a dress like that too!
Kerry Washington That might be the ugliest dress out there. The gold and silver and weird dress. It’s so hideous I cannot describe it. If it didn’t have those weird embellishments and wasn’t see-through with black underwear underneath, it might be okay.
Ruth Negga She looks like an actual baked potato.
Thandie Newton This is what happens when you dip a dress in sparkly paint.
Janelle Monae Her face is beautiful. Her hair is beautiful. She looks so gorgeous. But that dress is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
Haille Steinfeld It looks like a canopy that she took off a little girl’s bed and decided to put on.
Nicole Kidman She tried too hard to be the silver surfer and kind of gave up halfway through. I think she always makes my worst dressed list.
And with that, Marley was out. But she missed a few, that I just had to mention, so here are my pics and pans below.
Heidi Klum For once I don’t hate Heidi Klum’s dress. I mean I don’t love it, but it’s not terrible. Actually the more I look at it, I think I really like it.
Sophie Turner I love you dearly, but that looks like something Heidi Klum would wear, and unfortunately that is not a compliment.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Love this dress. Love her. The end.
Olivia Culpo I have no idea who this woman is, but she is stunning and I really dig this dress. It looks like a piece of art.
Judith Light This photo of Judith Light is everything. She is fabulous and I love her.
Felicity Huffman I think this is my favorite look of the night. She looks absolutely stunning and this pantsuit if FABULOUS!
Sarah Jessica Parker
The dress would be great without those stupid sleeves, and what the blankety-blank is with that terrible wrap-around braid?! Oh Sarah Jessica, why?!
This was one of my favorite dresses of the night. Just gorgeous!
I could go on (and on) because there were just some spectacular (and spectacularly bad) looks out there, but I’ve got a day job, you know. (And about 40 minutes to get there.) So I will end with this, because you deserve it…
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau A little eye candy, just because I love you for reading this entire thing. You’re welcome!
On the morning of New Year’s Eve while Dave was walking the dog and the kids were still sleeping, I curled up on my favorite chair with a blanket on my lap and a cup of coffee in my hand to reflect on the happy moments of 2016 (yes, there were happy moments) and read my Happiness Journal.
Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Happiness Jar, I would sit down at the end of each night and reflect on the little moment that made me happiest that day and write it down in my favorite calendar. Well, I aspired to, anyway. But can I confess something? I don’t think I ever once sat down at the end of the night to write my moment. I would try to capture it as it happened. This is my moment, I’d say to myself as Marley told a funny story at dinner or Chandler called unexpectedly and stayed on the phone longer than usual or I opened my front door to a full moon, shiny and bright at 5:15AM on my way to the gym. But after (another) night of falling asleep with while watching TV with Dave and Marley, I’d tumble into bed always, always, always taking the time to wash my face and 87% of the time brushing my teeth, but never having the energy to write my happy moment.
Many mornings I’d write my happy moment from the previous day (like this morning), and most mornings I’d write down two or three (or four) at a time. (What was your moment on Monday, Charlene? Think!)
And take the time before bed to reflect on that moment. Because even the shittiest of days (and years good riddance 2016) have wonderful moments. Some of them big, some of them quite small, but they should be recognized. Reflected on. Cherished.
Here are some of mine (big and small):
January 1st: I saw a father teaching his daughter how to ride her bike in the park.
February 8th: I held my book in my hands for the very first time.
February 22nd: The moonrise was amazing tonight. I called Rita to share it and she got in her car and drove to a high point to see it. That made me so happy.
March 23rd: My writers’ group always fills my soul with happiness. (BTW, we meet monthly and I wrote some variation of this every month.)
April 4th: Lunch with Dale and Mera. A hot waiter. An elixir with lavender, cucumber and mint. Happiness all around. So much love at that table.
April 15th: I watched the funniest commercial on YouTube. It sounds lame, but it gave me belly laughs. And belly laughs make me happy. (Want a belly laugh? You can watch it too.)
April 16th: Cheryl’s ballet boot camp class. So freaking hard. But if felt good to do something hard, even if I didn’t do it particularly well.
May 1st: Dancing in the pit at Stagecoach and feeling the energy of the music.
May 8th: Finding out Marley has Brown Eyed Girl on her “Feel Good” music mix and singing along with her. She knows the words better than I do!
May 10th: Hugging Chandler. He’s home!
June 5th: Having a margarita outside on a Sunday afternoon.
June 21st: Marley turned 16 today. Giving her a gift that she wanted but didn’t expect made me so happy. She knows that I listened.
July 11th: When we drove Chandler to the airport he said, “I’m glad everybody came.”
September 11th: Listening to Marley tell a story at dinner about the seniors vs. the sophomores. That girl is hilarious!
October 11th: I wore boots today! Fall is really (almost) here.
October 14th: I had to go to Ventura court for work and saw two couples getting photos taken for their weddings. They were dressed up and happy and in love. It felt so great to witness that.
November 8th: Voting for HRC made me so proud. (Remember, it’s my happiest moment of the day and not necessarily how the day turned out.) 😦
November 28th: Interviewing Matthew Ramsey on the phone and having a goal I set for myself be realized. (Matthew Ramsey is the lead singer of Old Dominion & interviewing them was a writing goal I set for myself. The interview was featured in an online magazine called Songwriter Universe and you can read the interview here. If you like.)
December 10th: Watching Marley give her speech and stand up for what she believes in at her march. Watching people rally around her. I’ve never been more proud.
Taking the time to reflect on the happy moments of my year filled me with such peace, such joy, such happiness. I noticed just as I did the year before, so many of my moments were repeated – listening to music, the feeling of accomplishment after a hard workout, laughing with Dave and Marley at dinner, talking to Chandler on the phone, spending time with friends.
And yes, most will agree that 2016 was sort of a sucktastic year. The entertainment world was robbed of beloved icons, there were too many terrorist attacks, and he-who-shall-not-be-named was elected president. And trust me when I tell you that I have taken plenty of time to wallow in the sadness of 2016.
But we can spend our time focusing on the sad times or the happy times. And while acknowledging the sad times is important and doing what we can to change them is necessary, I believe our well-being depends on reflecting on, acknowledging, cherishing the things that fill our hearts with happiness – both big and small.
I cried the night of the election, but I haven’t written about it. I didn’t post one thing on Facebook. I haven’t even tweeted.
“Trump apparently thinks the P in EPA stands for pollution instead of protection” recently sat in my little tweet box for hours when Scott Pruitt was announced as Trump’s pick to head the EPA, but I hit delete instead of post. (Also considered: “Trump does things bigly: Why just fuck the U.S. when you can fuck the entire planet. #ScottPruitt”) But I just didn’t have the energy to fight the trolls. #failure
But my daughter? My amazing, brilliant, wonderful daughter? The exact opposite. From day one she hit the ground running with posts on Facebook about her bitter disappointment in America’s choice in someone who ran a campaign wrought with bigotry (not to mention choosing a vice president who thinks you can pray-the-gay-away).
But first she came out (literally) with this post on November 9th:
“Hey guys. I need to tell you something. This isn’t shocking at all (i hope), but i wanna officially come out as pansexual. if you don’t know what that means, there are a few definitions to explain it, but mine is a very popular one. basically, I’m attracted to people based off of their intellectual ability and personality. I mean by that is, I don’t really care about what a person sexes or the person’s gender is or whatever they are on the outside. I care about who they are as a person and how they make me feel and how I make them feel and how we just are together I find that more important and much better than how somebody looks over they are on the inside.”
Man, that was hard for me to post. Not because my daughter is pansexual. We’ve always told our children (and meant it), that we don’t care what their sexual orientation is, as long as they’re happy. But did you see those grammatical errors? The lack of capitalization! “Sexes” instead of “sex is.” Frightening!
A few days after the election she came to me and told me that she contacted the LA LGBT center and wanted to organize a march to Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in protest of the election.
“The LGBT center said they’d totally help me and it will take a couple of weeks to plan, so I was thinking December 3rd,” she told me.
“We’re busy on the 3rd,” I told her. “But I guess the 10th would work.” I admired her passion and intensity, but to be honest she’s intense about everything, so I really didn’t think much about it.
She posted the protest as a Facebook event: LGBTQ Protest Against Pence/Trump. She made it very clear that her protest was peaceful and “That we are not going to let these racist, homophobic, bigoted people hurt us.”
Within a few days over 500 people showed interest and over 100 people said they were going. And I have to admit I was pretty impressed, but still. A Facebook event? “100 people going” means 10 will show up. Maybe. It’s a busy time of year full of parties and commitments (plus there was probably a 10 hour sale going on at Macy’s).
And then it started to snowball. Bigly. A week before the event it was shared with over 5,000 people, over 4,000 showed interest, and over 1,000 people said they were going. Someone from ABC news reached out to her. It was getting real.
(Oh shit, I was actually going to have to give up my Saturday.)
“How many people do you think will show up for this thing?” I asked Dave.
“It could be 10, it could be 500. I really don’t know,” he answered,
And even though there had been many family discussions about it I said, “I don’t even know what we’re going to do. I know she wants to march from Hollywood and Vine to his star on Hollywood and Highland, but then what? Is there some sort of chant? Do we all just hang out there? And what if it gets violent? I mean, what do we do?”
He just sort of shrugged and admitted he was as clueless as I was.
At dinner that night we started talking logistics. Where to park. What exactly would happen. How cool it was that Marley was contacted by ABC. And then she just sort of shut down. “I don’t even know what I’m doing,” she said. “Probably no one is going to show up. I don’t even want to do it anymore.” Anxiety was getting the best of her.
And even though a bonus Saturday in December would have been lovely gift to this unorganized mom who was nowhere near done with her Christmas shopping (and Macy’s was probably having a sale), I said, “It will be awesome. Even if it’s just us, we’ll have our signs and we’ll march. You’re standing up for what you believe in.” But, I have to admit I was a little worried.
It turns out I didn’t need to be. Because this girl? My daughter? The one who can barely get her shit together for school? She was on it. Organized. She freaking rocked it.
The night before the march things started to go wrong, but she handled each road block like a pro and received support from other activists and the police.
First the trolls came out saying awful, hurtful things. (To a sixteen year old! As if their First Lady-Elect’s “fight against cyber bullying” wasn’t ironic enough.) But a lovely man named Ian who’d been to his share of protests, reached out to her and told her she was awesome and told her that trolls were just that: trolls. He messaged back and forth with her all night and gave advice and peace of mind.
She received an alert that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was premiering at the Pantages Theatre, directly across the street from the Hollywood and Vine Metro station where the march was starting and that much of Hollywood Boulevard was shut down. She and Dave looked at a map and she posted a new route for the march.
She asked the woman at ABC if they would be there and was told that the producer passed on the story, so no. Whatevs! #Sad (I actually think she was relieved.)
A community relations officer from the LAPD got in touch with her and told her that the LAPD supported her 1st Amendment rights and wanted to help to make sure that the protest was peaceful. Marley made a plan to meet with an officer before the protest and a car would shadow us as we marched our route. (This made Dave and I relieved.)
We took the Metro to the Hollywood and Vine station and got there about an hour early, not knowing what to expect. Marley and the co-president of her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club met with the police officers and Dave and I stayed back, continuing to let her take charge. She was alerted that there was a pro-Trump group at Trump’s star. A photo journalist introduced himself to Marley when she was done talking to the police. We still didn’t know if anyone would show and had a lot of time so Dave and I decided to take a fast walk to check out the road closures. (I could write a whole blog post about that – let’s just say there were multiple metal detectors and check points and there was a tented red carpet that two blocks long. Star Wars knows how to throw a party!)
After about 15 minutes Marley texted me: Mom come back.
We rushed back there were about 40 or so people who had started gathering. The W Hotel (which sits at the entrance of the Metro station) told Marley that her group had to gather on the sidewalk because they were on private property. This meant going through a metal detector. Ian (who is about my age and is beautiful inside and out) found Marley and thanked her, cheered her, and introduced her to all of his friends. The group began to grow. Ian encouraged Marley to give a speech.
Marley gave a wonderful speech and then her friend gave one. We passed out extra posters the girls made, came up with a few chants, and we started to march. By now the group had grown to about 150 people. As we marched people started honking their horns in support and people walking down the street high-fived us. A couple who was looking for us joined up mid-route. A cute boy at a bar on Hollywood said, “I was hoping to get a cocktail first,” gave up his plans for refreshment and jumped in the march. When we got to the star there were others waiting. We chanted, took lots of pictures, and Marley had a civil conversation with the pro-Trump people. By the end of the protest it looked like there were over 200 people supporting Marley’s cause.
There was documentary filmmaker named Jordan Roberts waiting for us and she interviewed Marley and her friend, and Dave and I as well. People cheered Marley, asked to take selfies with her, and everyone thanked her. Her protest was peaceful and she felt like her voice was heard.
And this mom? The one who didn’t even have it in her to make a Facebook post about it? I have never, ever been more proud.
Photo Credit of Marley at the rally: Susan Forrest via Facebook
“The music we take dead seriously, but we don’t take ourselves that seriously, we have a lot of fun,” said Matthew Nelson describing the Christmas with the Nelsons shows he will be performing in eight cities across America with his brother Gunnar.
Recently I sat down with Matthew to discuss the upcoming tour and new NELSON Christmas single, featuring Carnie and Wendy Wilson. (And by sat down with, I mean I sat down in my living room in Los Angeles and he sat down in his living room in Nashville and we had a lovely conversation on the phone.)
We talked about living in Nashville vs. living in Los Angeles (Nashville: full of world class musicians and a great place to raise your family. LA: The awesome food and weather not worth the traffic and hustle-and-bustle-affected lifestyle.), the dreaded “B” word – branding (it sucks, but you’ve got to do it), and mostly Christmas.
Last year Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, along with a singer-songwriter named Alyssa Bonagura co-wrote and recorded This Christmas, an original song to include on the Nelson brother’s album of Christmas standards sharing the same name.
A second Christmas album, This Christmas Too will be coming out December 9th and they’ve re-recorded the title track with Carnie and Wendy Wilson.
“The first recording was great, it was our first hit song in twenty years, but we have been wanting to do something with the Wilson sisters for a long time and this just made sense. It is literally like the new The Mamas and The Papas. The blend is unbelievable and we had so much fun,” Matthew said, talking excitedly about re-recording last year’s hit holiday song.
In fact the two sibling groups had so much fun working together they are already talking about future projects. “We all kind of grew up as kids of the 70’s and we’re talking about possibly taking some of that music like (Dan Fogelberg’s) Leader of the Band and (The Doobie Brothers’) Listen to the Music and putting a new spin on it.”
I told him I hoped that would happen. “Oh, it will happen,” he assured me.
When I asked him how the Christmas shows came about he said, “It came together very organically. About three years ago, somebody called us up and said, ‘Hey we’re from a tiny place in Nebraska called Red Cloud and an author named Willa Cather was from here. That’s what we’re famous for. She left money behind for an opera house and we’d like you to come and do a Christmas show.’
“And I said, ‘What do you mean, you want us to come and do one of our normal shows?’ and he said, ‘No, I’m talking only Christmas music.’
“And Gunnar and I got together and we thought about it because we love Christmas, we always have. It’s been our favorite time of year for forever. Our dad too. No matter what he was doing he came off the road to celebrate Christmas together.”
Taking what they learned from their popular Ricky Nelson Remembered tour, a unique multi media entertainment event featuring the live music of their late father Ricky Nelson’s hit songs, they put together a live music and video program that tells the story of three eras of Nelson family Christmases, starting with Ozzie and Harriet’s era, through their dad’s era in the 70’s as a country rocker and bringing through to Christmas with their families today.
“We always say, our show at best is a combination between the Everly brothers and the Smothers brothers. The usual Christmas shows people put on have two or three Christmas songs thrown in. We flip it. We do all Christmas music except for one segment with Hello Mary Lou-Travelin’ Man-Garden Party in a medley with one or two of ours, but that takes maybe 10 minutes in a show that goes two to two-and-a-half hours. This year we’re touring with a violinist/fiddle player named Molly Cherryholmes who’s Grammy nominated 5 times for her bluegrass band. She’s only twenty-four and is like a freak of nature, as far as musicians are concerned,” Matthew said describing the show.
So if you’re looking for something a little different to do with the family this Christmas (or on a date night) check out their tour schedule below. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell your husband that Matthew and Gunnar were your secret 90’s crush.) And don’t forget to add This Christmas and This Christmas Too (available on pre-order) to your Christmas music library.