a love/dislike letter.

Dear Texas,

How to I love thee?  Let me list the ways…

• [and foremost] My Family.

• Your TexMex Food.

• Your Margaritas.

• When you have my BFF around for long periods of time, I want to cry of happiness.

• Antiquing.  [oh, my… wonderfulness.]

• College Friends and Their Gorgeous Families.

• Incredibly Awkward Salons.

• LIVE MUSIC.

• Middle School Reunions.

• Your Year Round Running Weather.

• The Austin Airport.  [maybe this is because i hardly ever have to spend extended periods of time there… and all the local vendors are oh, so lovely.]

• Mass Amounts of Ah-mazing Pearl Snaps at Every Thrift Store.

• Your Incredible Radio Stations.

• The Friendliness of All of You.

But, as you know, our relationship has been a bit on-again-off-again.  In a honest affair, I feel it best to express my dislikes…

• Bug Bites.  All The Time.  All Over My Poor Legs.

• 80° One Day, 27° The Next… Too Fickle.

• Chain, Chain, Chain… [what happen to all of your lovely independant francishes errrrrrywhere?]

• Where’s Your Indian Food?

• No Mountains.  [well, at least not near me.]

• People Are Too Styley… I Can’t Keep Up.

• How You Are Just So Tempting To Eat and Drink in Excess.

• All Your People Think I Live In Mississippi.

See, not too many complaints.  You know I love you dearly.

Thanks for always being there.

Thanks for always being so awesome.

LOVE,
ray.

love is there.

The holidays at home, in Texas, are always so comforting, so familiar… home.

And everyone gets their fair share of running around.  Dad works at the Post Office and works his ass off everyday up to Christmas.  Mom is mom and wants everything to be perfect for everyone.  Ryland has to find the right present for everyone.  And I just have to catch up in general from procrastinating and living in Wyoming.

I came home a couple days ago… stressed… after running errands all day.  Mom and Ryland were in the kitchen getting some kind of food ready.  Dad was sitting on the couch, decompressing from his long work day.  I plopped down on a chair in the living room… tired…

Dad and I made a bit of small talk and then he said…

– Oh!  I have an early Christmas present for you.  Tell me when you want it.

– Ummm… Okay… You can give it to me whenever you want to.

– Well, it’s fleeting.

– Is it a cocktail?  Cuz I want that right now.

– No.

– Well, whenever then.

– Well, tell me when you wanna be quiet for a bit.

– I can be quiet now.

– Okay.

Dad stands up and turns off the Christmas music and then he turns off the TV he had on mute.  Then he says…

– Oh, I’m nervous.  I don’t know if I wanna do this.  Man, I’m nervous.

He stands in the middle of the living room, closes his eyes, folds his hands in one another to his chest and sings…

When you find yourself alone… No way of getting home…

My gut reaction is to giggle a little… I’m thinking that it’s a skit he’s doing or something… something silly.  I soon realize this is not a bit… this is special.  It’s so amazingly special… he keeps on singing… eyes closed… hands clasped… a capella…

Wrap yourself in a blanket of stars… My love is there…

I put my hand on my face, over my mouth… It was so special.  There he was, my father, my daddy, singing his heart out, with his eyes closed, for me… for Christmas.

This is what he sang…

Mom and Ryland stopped what they were doing, froze and watched and listened.

He continued on, sang the whole song.  I cried.

When you find yourself alone
No way of getting home
Wrap yourself in a blanket of stars
My love is there

It’s the night that always burns
The day will take its turn
Picture my arms around your neck
My love is there

My love is there
It can find you anywhere
You’re gonna learn just how to trust
My love is there

If nothing’s going right
Fear sleeps with you and I
Oh, remember this if nothing else
My love is there

My love is there
It can find you anywhere
You’re gonna learn just how to trust
My love is there

Oh, you’re gonna learn just how to trust
My love is there

He finished the last line and I stood up, wiping tears from my cheeks, thanking him over and over.

It was the most amazing Christmas present I’ve ever received… hands down.

The love caught me by surprise.

How brave.  How thoughtful.  How wonderful.  How beautiful.

I hear people say, “This is what the holiday is about” and I’ve always nodded along in agreement no matter what the subject.

Faith, Family, Giving, Friends, Smiling, Laughing, Lights, Skiing… etc., etc.  I never really had a realization about exactly what this holiday is about.

I have now.  What my dad did a few days ago, standing up and singing about love to his daughter as a gift to her…

That is what this holiday is about.

The happiest of holidays to you and yours.

LOVE.

warm.

hearting santa barbara.

Sitting in the kitchen, watching dolphins, drinking amazing coffee, hearing stories about waking up at 3am to drive four hours wrapped in a sleeping bag because the heat in the car isn’t working… to ski, eating a “rustic tart” and the like made for an amazing morning.

Then the walk with a new friend and discovering their rock heart collection strung out, leading me to the beach…

It was a warm day…

…despite all the rain.

worst/best.

Life is full of contradictions, mind-changes, irony and the such.  I almost said my life was full of the daily contradictions, but I like to think it’s not just me.

If you read through my journal, you’ll think [know] I’m crazy.

This is the WORST.

This is the BEST!

I love him.

I hate him.

Today was HORRIBLE.

That was the best sandwich EVER.

Today was no different.  I’ve been studying up and fine-tuning myself for this huge string of interviews I have in Santa Barbara today.  With the rest of holiday socializing and regular life-ing, it became a bit hectic for a bit.  So hectic, I started to get worn down… feeling a little sick.

With a flight from Jackson to Santa Barbara, there’s gonna have to be two connections… and you’re gonna have to get the 7am flight.

…Which means you’re gonna have to wake up at 4:30am to get showered up, dolled up, interview ready and get to the airport a hour and a half before your flight.

And that wasn’t a problem for me… because I was up at 1:30am, 2am, 2:45am and 3:30am with the sorest throat, worst headache and generally burning up.  A little after 3:30, I finally called my mom…

– [groggy] Hello?  Rachel?  You okay?

– I’m so so sick, Momma.  [crying and croaking]

– Oh, baby, what’s the matter?

– [hysterical]  Ismythrtandheadfevrrrflyintviewandihatethisidntfllllgoood.

– …………I’m sorry, baby, I can’t understand you.

– [pulling it together]  This is just the worst.  I feel horrible.  What do I do?

– Can you call the people you need to interview with?  Do you want to just stay home and try to do it another time?

– No, I don’t want to do that.

[because i’m thinking about the brutal truth… http://www.marriedtothesea.com/121710/terrified-of-the-real-world.gif]

– Okay, well… Take some [long list of medications] throughout the day.  Take a shower, that’ll make you feel better.  Drink water and eat!  Make sure you eat… don’t want you passing out in the shower or crashing for your interview.

– Okay, yeah… Thanks.  Okay.  [crying again.]  This is just the worst!  Of course I would get sick like this right now!

– It’s gonna be okay.  Just get through this one day and then rest, rest, rest.

Mom prayed for me over the phone and despite your religious/spiritual stance, it was heart-warming and encouraging.  It was love.

I got off the phone with her, downed some meds, jumped in the shower and just kept thinking over and over, I‘ve got this… because I have love surrounding me, I have strength and I know I’ve got this. Over and over, Love, Strength, Confidence.

And I felt SO much better after the shower.  Besides the lack of sleep, I was [am] functioning at an amazingly healthy level.

Jackson flight delayed and barely made my Salt Lake connection.  Stood in line to board the plane with a lovely woman.  We got to chatting, she’s going to Santa Barbara today, too.  She used to live there… for 25 years!  Talked about how great mountain towns are, how great SB is, good food, good people, laughing at the little things, the important things in life.

Boarded the plane, found out we’re sitting right next to each other on the plane… awesome!  Yay for new friends!

And then she starts to read her book and me mine and then we discover there’s free wireless on this flight and I become ridiculously excited because I’m a dork and I proclaim…

– This is the best!

Haha… Laughing at myself.  Laughing at life.

The worst, the best… and everywhere in between… on a daily basis.

that aspect.

Did I ever tell you I have a portfolio website?

I know I put it around town [interwebs town], but I don’t know if I ever told TOLD you.

www.rlmstevens.com

There ye be.

It’s not a whole lot… but it’s me: the graphic designer.  A part… not the whole.

Phew… Working hard on that aspect lately.  Feels good.  Feels tired.

Tell your design-needy friends I’m semi-available.

[goodnight, loves.]

soundtrack this.

‘Tis the season for music.

Christmas Music — YES.  [and, boy, do i love it.]  But, other music as well.

People are gathering: celebrating their fondness for each other, celebrating their love, celebrating a cause, celebrating a hobby, celebrating smiles, celebrating family, celebrating giving, celebrating faith, celebrating someone, celebrating a community, celebrating.  Celebrate good times… c’mon!  [there’s always music.]

Well, except for on KHOL this morning.  We had a problem with our signal and it was dead air for a bit this morning as well as most of yesterday.  So no Morning Scramble this mornin’.

But last week?  YES:

woot!

I have some very much new favorites on here.  Some were played at the KHOL Mixer… which was a BLAST.  So good to have so many music lovers in one room… especially those who are passionate about community radio.  Awesome.

Also…

…I took my turn as DJ for a hot second of the night and lemme tell ya, it was so much fun!  Unfortunately, I decided to wear a glorified potato sack that almost gave a peep show every time I bent over to play around with knobs and keys, but all in all, ’twas a super delightful experience.  I didn’t do much, but it made me want to really learn to be a real-life DJ… Goal for twenty ‘leven?  YEP.

Anywho, MUSIC.

Left without playing any this morning, I was so excited to find a Christmas CD from my father in my PO box.  He is just the most thoughtful, most creative…

note the texas license plate in the background... oh, texas love.

I LOVE it, Pops.  Thank you thank you thank you!

I know that Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a holiday CD mix from my dad, but I always am surprised when it comes.  It’s always so heart-warming and overwhelming with love… My cup runneth over.

He included a newspaper article on one of my family’s favorite groups, Albert & Gage.  [also, very good friends of the family.]  At the bottom of the article he scribbled…

“Request please Ms DJ, play ‘Christmas Everyday’ off the A&G Christmas CD.  Thank you [heart] Daddy”

Of course.  Thursday [on the Evening Scramble], I will play…

[p.s. that video is special because it’s at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar in Austin… a holiday tradition for my fam… and i get to make it this year for A&G… yay!]

For other holiday music listening, I highly recommend the Sufjan Stevens (Holiday) Pandora station, which my incredible friend, Jared, shared with me.

I also very much recommend the Swingin’ Christmas station on there as well, because I’m pretty sure this is my favorite holiday song everrrrrr:

The part where the second guys goes, “I-yi-yi-yi’m dreaming of a whiiiiteeee… CHRISTmas!”  Just can’t help but smile… so big!

And for your non-holiday music wantings, may I suggest:

http://hypem.com/track/1284546/Lord+Huron+-+The+Stranger

[definitely definitely recommend it… play it… now… ugh, so good.]

——–

[an older love… but a rekindled fling.]

——–

[larve.]

——–

[ummm… did you see the title?  yeah, awesome.]

——–

[fun and pretty.]

——–

And then there’s a Lykke Li/Beck Remix… http://media.thefader.com/thefader/Lykke%20Li%20-%20Get%20Some%20(Beck%20Remix).mp3

 

Merry Holidays, Loves!

May all your favorite tunes turn up and help you soundtrack this wonderful time of year.

that whole reading/reader situation.

My dear Dabney sent this to me today: http://thebookspy.blogspot.com/

I love it.

The site documents what people spotted in subways are reading and give projections about that whole reading/reader situation happening.

It kinda made me miss Australia; where I rode a train constantly and always had a book in hand.  [or at least bag.]  And I would sit there and wonder what people thought about me and what I was reading…

The times I had Harry Potter – “Does he think I’m an idiot?  Whatevs… I think he’s an idiot if he thinks I’m an idiot… Otherwise, he’s pretty cute.”

The times I was reading my favorites [Miranda July, Jonathan Safran Foer, Dave Eggers] – “Do they know what they’re missing by not being me, reading this, right now?… Also, do they know how much of a dork I am?”

The few times I was brave enough to read Anais Nin on a train – “Oh, young little hipster… If you only knew how naughty this book is… You would be way more excited about books and less about that wretched music I can hear coming from your neon headphones.”

I wish there was a train in my life to keep me reading more.  I’m only just getting to the books everyone has been telling me I HAVE to read…

I’ve taken to putting a ten dollar bill in books as a bookmark… and then when I’m finished with the book, I get to buy myself a totally selfish treat of some breed.  Incentive… because there are no trains… and I’ve recently discovered Dexter.