Macho Man

Things Keri Geeks Out Over Part 3:

So I have a longstanding love affair with Macho Man.

It's freaking true. My dad was a big wrestling fan when he was younger and I knew him just from watching tv all the time, and as I've grown older Macho Man has found a very dear place in my heart.

It started with these guys, who love to do Macho Man impressions (and they do them side splittingly well):

My darling husband and our great friend Nick, champions of the Macho Man impression!

For real. These guys can have me crying begging them to stop once they start in on the Savage impersonations. "I said I can't sing and I can't dance but I can make romance, yeah!!"

Then this summer an amazing thing happened.
It all started when we were preparing to leave for Bonnaroo. We had to leave on Wednesday to get there by Thursday night, but everything was going wrong. We were having terrible luck. Our car rental got screwed up and we were having trouble with the bank giving us money and all sorts of crap. Earlier on that day Corey had bought a little stuffed shark with tattoos on it from Wal Mart and we proclaimed it our mascot, but after all that had gone wrong I joked that it was our mascot that was causing the bad luck. Of course we don't believe anything like that, but I was getting so stressed to the point where I was starting to get snappy at Corey and taking it out on him (which I absolutely HATE and avoid doing at all costs) so I took my mood into my own hands and decided to laugh instead. "We gotta get rid of that shark," I says. So we made a big deal out of removing the shark from the roster, effectively firing him as our mascot . This detailed ceremony involved tossing the shark out the car window into a CVS parking lot. :D We couldn't leave without a mascot though. On a lark I grabbed a Macho Man action hero that we have, tied some yarn around him, and hung him from our rear view mirror.

And wouldn't you know it...everything started going right. We didn't have a single problem for the rest of our trip to Bonnaroo and back.

Macho Man guarded us through Atlanta
Macho Man guided us at 6 am when the sun started to come up (we drove all night)

Macho Man guarded us through the mountains

Macho Man is still hanging in the Explorer, watching over us every where we go. My dad, knowing our religious affiliation *and* our sense of humor, chuckled when we told him the story and how Macho Man saved our trip. He shook his head and said "well, at least you believe in something."

And I do, dammit! I believe in Macho Man. I believe in the power of a man so freaking insane and hilarious that it could keep me and Corey from harm  :D Yuk yuk. I wanted to write about this today because I got the random urge to watch some of Macho's old interviews. They are freakin' hilarious and I ended up turning them off because I was choking back laughter and tears all day. Here are a few favorites:

 The draw to Macho is easy for me to pinpoint. He's absurd and confident and hilarious. Corey and I have long discussions on whether Macho was just playing a personality, or whether Macho was just...Macho. I like to think that he started out just playing a character but that Macho Man slowly started to take over Randy Savage, until at the end of his career he was all Macho all the time.

I googled Macho Man pictures and I changed my desktop to this. I mean, just look at the guy! He is my hero, and definitely worthy of the small amount of faux idol worship we have granted him.

RIP, Macho. RIP.


And when I return, the trees will know my name

So many words are swirling around in my brain, it's hard to get them out sometimes. It's already December, and I feel like I have to shake my head every few seconds just to make myself remember that. I don't mean to go all Keanu or anything, but dude! Whoa. Whoa. 2012? Already? Dude.

 I needed to get out, so I took Clem and we went wandering.

Our apartment complex is the only thing on our road, and if you leave the complex and go walking it isn't long until you reach some good old fashioned beauty. There's a bridge and a creek, and this lovely spot that makes me think of Arthur and his Lady of the Lake. Clem and I parked our butts here for a bit, with her trotting around sniffing at stuff and me just chillin'. Thinkin'.

Thoughts of life, the way it changes so fluidly, filled my brain. I get such a kick out of how silently time passes and how next thing you know you're a completely different person than just a few years ago. I tend to get wistful and sentimental a lot, it's a huge part of my nature. I just...love everything, dammit, and as such I get overly emotional about stuff. Stuff like where I live now, the places I used to live, people I used to know and places I used to go. Stuff like the fact that everyone and everything I know now is only temporary in my life. When I let my brain go, I vacillate back and forth between sappy thoughts of how far I've come and how in love I am with everything around me (it is not unheard of for me to whisper out loud "I love this moment right now, every part of it)...and then back to being ridiculously sad about how transitory everything in life is and how there's no guarantee that any of the lovely people in my life will be there tomorrow. 

Laying on my back, I entertained myself by pretending that the trees all knew I was there. I imagined that the tall and slender trees above me were aware of my presence, and felt that I loved them. I was in full daydream mode, pretending that years from now when I come back here (as a mother, a seasoned wife, an old lady) that the trees will remember me. It comforts me to think that there is some part of the places I go that knows I was there...as if I still belong to these places somewhat, even after I've moved on. As if when I go back to these places, the trees will say to each other "Oh I know her. She's a part of all of this."


The fact that these trees towering above me possess no sentience is also the reason why I take so many pictures of this live I lead. I know that when I return to my former homes and haunts, the only tie I have is my own memory. My own failing human memory. It's a bit of an irony that I fall so deeply in love with every little detail of my life and yet my brain is incapable of remembering them. I know in 30 years I won't be able to clearly recall the black iron street lamps that dot our streets, the ones that make me pretend I'm in Narnia every time I drive home. Someday we'll be out of our tiny one bedroom apartment, someday we'll have kids and a house and all that jazz, and I'm sure someday I'll crave to be back here. In our first home together, with our first pet together.

Under these trees, these beautiful and striking trees. They won't know me but I will know them.


Oak Folk: Our Wedding Mix

So our wedding has come and gone, and everything went marvelously. The dust is starting to settle, and I am slowly descending back down to the real world...I can't wait to get our photos back from our photographer so I can post about the wedding, but until then I figured I'd share a little detail that Corey and I had decided on from the very beginning of our planning process.

I've written here before many times about how elemental music is to our relationship, and to each of us as individual people. Music brought us together, and music is ever present in our daily lives. Our biggest moments all have soundtracks, as well as all of the lovely mundane moments that are the lion's share of our love. When it came down to making a favor to hand out at the reception, a mix cd was the obvious choice. We realized that though we have each made mixes for each other throughout our love, we've never collaborated on a mix. Both Corey and I are extremely satisfied with the product of our working together, as each song is chock full of meaning and we think that even someone who doesn't know the meaning of each song should be able to enjoy this mix as well.

So without further ado, this is our wedding mix entitled Oak Folk: 11-12-11
This is the album jacket I created. :)

Oak Folk by Keri Mezo on Grooveshark

 Go ahead, press play, and enjoy. 
 It's okay. I'll wait. :)

That's nice, right? Let it wash over you, and I'ma break our song selection down for you, Hey Kerianne style. 

 1. Tonight May Have To Last Me All My Life - The Avalanches
This song was a no-brainer to start the cd off with. Corey used this song as an opener for one of the first mix cds that he made when we first got together, when we were first learning who the other was. We drove around the city for hours on end because we had no place to go but couldn't bear to be apart. We loved and laughed with this song as the background. I am instantly transported back to the hot, muggy summer nights that our love sprung from.

2. Squeeze Me - Kraak & Smaak
Corey and I didn't get to spend our first Christmas together, as Lisa had invited Margie and I to spend the vacation in Seattle with her. Since we were going to be apart, Corey made a playlist for me to listen to whenever I missed him. I listened to this mix, and in particular this song, over and over on the trip, from the plane rides into Seattle and our daytrips into Portland, and during the day on Christmas when I got to missing him particularly fierce. This song is infectiously happy, just ecstatic really, and the lyrics are completely true to my feelings for Corey. "You make me feel so nice, when I'm around with you/wake up in the morning and I'll spend my whole life with you..."

3. Maybe So, Maybe No - Mayer Hawthorne
We listened to this song together a lot in 2009, and I have two distinct memories attached. One is when Corey went on our first road trip together to see my best friend Alex, who was living in Atlanta at the time. It turns out that she loves Mayer Hawthorne too, and so she and Corey were able to click instantly upon their first time meeting and we sang this song together at the tops of our lungs. It was extremely important to me that these two meet and love each other as much as I independently love each of them, so this moment is a vividly wonderful one. My second memory is of the day that Corey and I were going to go get our keys to our first apartment together. We were having trouble the entire day, with banks giving us grief over cashing checks and we barely made it to the apartment manager's office in time to get the keys. At one point Corey turned to me and asked if I thought that this was a bad omen, and I started to freak out a little...until this song immediately started playing on my car stereo. We looked at each other and knew that we were meant to move in together, and that everything along the way was just a minor setback. Our moods instantly changed along with our luck, and we got our keys and danced our way into our new apartment (and new life) together.

4. Venus - Air
This song is a relatively new one in terms of holding meaning for the two of us; we spent this past summer gliding along the highway during the evening dusk with this song playing. Corey would drive and I would sit in the passenger seat, playing with his hair or holding his hand or just touching him somehow, anyhow, any way I could just to be in contact with him. The instant soothing feeling I get from being in physical contact with him is a completely addictive thing, a wonder and a marvel to me. I love him so much.

5. Serenade - Blockhead
This song is just a little interlude. Corey and I love Blockhead and this song works as a perfect segue into the next genre. "What's the matter, didn't you guys ever see a pretty girl before?"

6. In A Sentimental Mood - Duke Ellington
I've always loved this song, having grown up in a family with a jazz background. I even learned and played a [simple] version of this on the piano for my freshman piano class at DA. I've just always loved this song. One day, after living together for about a year, I came home to find Corey listening to this song while cooking. I quietly walked into the kitchen, surprised him with a hug from the back, and he and I proceeded to slow dance in our small kitchen for the duration of the song. It was one of those small, beautiful moments where you feel infinite. The kind of moment where you know you'll do anything to keep this love alive so that these moments keep happening. So, so, so in love with this man.

7. Mushaboom - Feist
This song just perfectly encapsulates our life, our love, and our dreams. We have simple dreams, to have cozy little house to raise our babies in, to have a garden that our kids can help us grow food in, to have each other every day together. Beautiful.

8. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover) - Morning Benders
This is another addition from our first days as a couple. The first time Corey met Margie, we rode to the pizza parlor on a beautiful drizzly day and this song was playing. The first time Corey slept over at my house (without permission, of course, as I lived with my parents), this song was on the playlist I made. During Easter, and Memorial Day, and Labor day, when I was cleaning and cooking for my family and wishing that I could be with Corey, I was humming this song. 

9. Balcony - Cave Story
This song is from an indie video game, and it's just a short little instrumental but it is so sweet and soft and beautiful. I put this song as an interlude on the first mix cd I ever made for Corey and he had it as his ring tone for me for a long time. I think of the quiet dark nights he and I have had, where his arm is around me and I can feel the stubble on his chin against my temples.   

10. Away With Me - Blue Sky Black Death
"Oh, I will take you away with me, as far as I can...every sky will be blue as long as you love me."
This song was the 4th track on the mix that Corey made me for Christmas of 2010, and we listened to it on the long drive out to Callahan to have Christmas lunch with his (my) family. This song has a chill hip hop beat with dreamy laid back vocals that hit my heart in all of the right spots. Corey always knows which songs I will instantly love, and the fact that he proves daily that he knows me so well gives me reassurance that we'll always be in love. 

11. Stormy Weather - Little Dragon
This song is slow, and simple, and beautiful. Yukimi Nagano (the lead singer for Little Dragon) has a masterful grasp of inflections, with a hint of jazz training in everything she sings. Beyond my love for this song on an objective level, this song means a lot to us personally. We've had slow dances in the kitchen to this song, and late night drive cuddles, and there's one memory in particular that always draws me back to this song. I woke up from a bad dream one night, I think it involved the death of a close family member, and when I woke I was too shaken to fall back asleep. Corey got me a glass of water and stayed with me until I had calmed back down, and then put this song on my ipod when he tucked me back in. I drifted back to sleep, soothed by his love and by this song. "Stormy weather...when it ends, we'll stay warm together..."

12. Something About Us - Daft Punk
I put this song on the first mix I ever made for Corey, and this song also takes us both right back to when we were first getting to know each other. I remember listening to this when we were going downtown for a jazz concert at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Even though we were surrounded by music, everytime I looked over at Corey the first strains of this song would queue up in my brain. This song represents that feeling of knowing there's a spark, but being unsure of where it will lead. The recognition that this person is obviously special, and will obviously play a great part in your life story...but you don't know how deep it will go quite yet. 

13. Groovin' Slowly - John Butler Trio
This is an infectious love song, a love song for two people who have been together for some time and still feel love just as deep as ever. I love John Butler because he is one of the few role models that I have found as a musician who writes passionately about one woman, his one love. Part of the reason that I love this song is that it applies for me and Corey, but it also makes me think of his older brother Geoff and his wife Erin. They share a love like ours, and they are also role models to me and Corey. I like looking at how open Geoff is with his love for Erin and seeing that Corey has clearly taken notes. I love a man who is outspoken about how head over heels they are and I am proud to have both of these men be a part of my life. :) 

14. Blackhearted Love - PJ Harvey & John Parish
I've loved this song since I first heard it a few years ago. I think the reason why I love this song so much is because it features a woman singing about love, but not in the goopy-high school girl Taylor Swift kind of way. The songs speaks of a woman completely smitten, but in a quiet way, that only she and her black-hearted love know about. "Who would suspect me of this rapture?" This song is sultry, and powerful, and speaks of a very adult love.

15. Great Expectations - Elbow
Corey introduced me to this song shortly after he proposed to me. The lyrics of the song could mean a few different things depending on how you interpret them, and I'm aware that it has a possibly sad connotation. All I see though, and all I hear, was Corey bending down to whisper the lyrics "you were the sun in my sunday morning, telling me never to go...I love you, I always will..." into my ear. I know the song has different origins and different meanings for different people (and even from me to Corey it's different) but for me I will always be reminded of Corey singing to me in the afterglow of being newly engaged to my love. 

16. Bitter Apple - Dave Gahan
Ok so Corey has a long standing love for all things Depeche Mode stemming from the days when he would hang in his older bro Kevin's room as a young boy, and as Dave Gahan is the lead vocalist for Depeche Mode it would follow that Corey loves his solo work as well. I had obviously heard of Depeche Mode before but really only knew of their hits, and so I had a pretty superficial knowledge of the band. This song is significant because it is the first Depeche Mode-related song that I absolutely fell in love with, and it is the song that sent me on my own journey through Depeche Mode's back catalog (even though this isn't a Depeche Mode song). Dave Gahan's voice now triggers memories of driving through Georgia with Corey, being goofballs on a day off together. We spent the day wandering around back country highways listening to Depeche Mode. We even drove through a small town called Enigma and we spoke in the form of questions until we exited city limits...teehee. 

17. It Means Nothing - Stereophonics
I have been listening along to each of these songs while I've been writing about them, but there are two songs on this mix that I can't do that with lest I start crying at my desk. This song is the first, and Home (the last track) is the other. Corey and I decided pretty much instantly that this song would be our first dance, as the words hit our hearts every single time and describe our view of each other perfectly. "It means nothing, if I haven't got you." I could live my life without Corey, sure. But for what? Now that I have met him, I can't imagine ever not knowing him. He knows me perfectly, and loves every single quirk I have. We have our own language, and our own view of the world around us, he is as passionately in love with me as I him and he wants to raise a family with me just as much as I do him. He is the only person I have ever known that I never need a break from, and every time I am away from him I miss him...though at the same time, I am calm and at peace just knowing he is somewhere on the same planet as me. He gives meaning to my existence, as all I want to do is show the world the love he inspires in my heart, and all I want to do is show the world that this deep of a love is possible. None of this means anything if I haven't got Corey.

18. Piano Happy - Lone
This track is another instrumental interlude track. I don't know what it is about this song but it makes me see clearly every happy sunset I have ever had with Corey, and every day that I have breathed blissfully since I have known him. This song just hits me, deep, and I could probably write an essay about this little two minute long snippet of a song. *Happy sigh*

19. So Real - Jeff Buckley
This song...this song started out as Corey's song. He confided in me, months and months after we began dating, that he would listen to this song after we first met. He would go home after a night of laughing and flirting with me and listen to this as he lay in bed processing everything that had just transpired. Corey told me this, of course, while we were listening to the song in our apartment together, and I kissed his knuckles and started to tear up. The thought of this beautiful man thinking of me while this beautiful song played struck me as such a perfectly encapsulated moment of time, and now every time I listen to this song I can't help but think of my own feelings from the nights we were learning to know each other.

20. Reprise (A Splash of Debussy) - DJ Food
The final instrumental track of this mix is special because it manages to mix all of the things I love into one beautiful whim of a song. Debussy has been my favorite composer since I was barely in middle school, and as I have grown older there is not much more that I need to make me happy than a jazzy hip hop beat. This song, chosen by Corey, combines both to a wonderful effect. Love it!

21. Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
And here we are. It seemed fitting to end the mix with the song that never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Home, ah home...home is wherever I'm with you! This song is just so joyous, so raucously happy and freespiritedly passionate, it was the perfect choice to walk down the aisle to. I think I knew that I would be a little choky when it came to my vows, and so this song kinda says it all... "man oh man you're my best friend, I sing it to the nothingness, there ain't nothin' that I need!" From the moment the whistling starts, my eyes go a little misty and I just want to run around outside with Corey and climb trees and be with my best friend, I want to ride in the car with him with the windows down and sing the lyrics at the top of my lungs, I want to go to the beach and splash in the waves and I want to travel to new places and pick out furniture for our home together and I want to knit baby clothes and I want to shower my love with kisses, all at once. This song is so powerful to me, this song embodies everything I feel for Corey. Ah home, let me go home! Home, you are me and I am you!


Two Weeks

We're entering the two-week finish line. I'm spending more and more time on the phone with my out-of-town support group, my lovely aunts-Grammy-cousin combo. They are a powerful team, let me tell you. I've also been singing Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear pretty constantly this week...haha.

Among the final details we're working out:

1. FOOD! We're planning on doing a few large pans each of baked ziti and stuffed cabbage. The stuffed cabbage is a Hungarian recipe (oh did I forget to mention that my dad's side of the family is 100%? Yeah they rock out with their Eastern European co- well, you know) that is one of my absolute favorites. The side bonus is that, as a complete surprise to everyone involved, Corey really likes it too! He was raised to be a really picky eater (his mom is pretty picky herself) but in recent years he has really been opening up and trying new things...lucky for me, my Grammy's cooking is on the list of things he never would have tried before, but is in love with now.

Mmm, stuffed cabbage. Also: SOURCE
 Apart from the big entrees, we're planning on doing a sandwich ring or two as well as a large fruit and vegetable spread. There are a few finger food options I want to assemble as well (can anyone say portable caprese salad? Mmm yumm).

2. FLOWERS! We're obviously doing all of this, too. DIY, baby! No it's not terrifying and stress-inducing, why would you say that?! ..yuk yuk. For flowers we're thinking we're going to hit up the farmer's market and check out the selection they have there. If I don't find anything I like there, we'll probably use Whole Foods as our second choice. I love wildflowers, and I'm not THAT picky about my flowers so really I imagine I'll just pick out whatever is available that I like. In all honesty, the question regarding flowers is less "what do I want" and more "what I DO NOT want." For instance, carnations and daises are not an option, at all. But for the most part, I'm open to the universe. Universe, bring me my perfect flowers! Super cheap, please. I got bills to pay.

These are my dream flowers, the lisianthus. Also: SOURCE

 3. DAY-OF! Oh my god this is the bullet point that freaks me the fuck out (sorry, it's THAT big of a deal to me). I've accepted the fact that I will be in a chair from 11:30am up until it's time to walk down the aisle (deck) at 4pm, so figuring out who is going to be doing what where and taking what food where and how long it has to be cooked and also this and also that and it's just all so nuts and omg omg omg.

It's safe to say I will be [lightly] drinking that day...just so I don't freak out worrying that everything is getting done. Whew.

Once we have all of these details done, we're pretty much done. I've made a bunch of garlands (pictures to come) and I'm finishing up our programs at the moment. We're also gathering up centerpiece stuff...but I'm feeling pretty good. I paid off my dress last week, and it's supposed to be coming this week for me to do my final dress fitting. I also had my hair trial on Saturday with the amazing Alison Jones. I asked for her for long flowy curls with some twists bringing the hair away from my face, and she did an amazing job.

I love the natural looking curls. I felt like a goddess...

I'm starting to get really excited by all of the pieces slowly coming together.


Engagement Pictures

I'm feeling great because our engagement pictures came back from our photographer, and I am IN LOVE with them. We're using a photographer named Chloe Austin for all our photography needs, and she is one of the sweetest people I've ever met, and not only is she great at what she does but she clearly loves it...she was an obvious choice for our wedding. You should take a look at her website Chloe Austin Photography and see all of the awesome work she's done.

For our engagement pictures we went downtown one rainy day to our favorite spot (do I even have to say it? I post about Chamblin's Uptown all the time) and had fun being our normal goofy selves.


I'm so in love. I'm in love with that tall man in stripes who smiles so widely every time he looks at me, and I am in love with these pictures that so wonderfully capture us for the sappy goofballs that we are.


Florida Fall

Fall in Florida is absolutely my favorite time of year. In the past it has been Fall that has been the season of new beginnings (new school years, new friends, new everything) and for this year in particular Fall is incredibly meaningful.

I am getting married this Fall. In 32 days, I will walk down the aisle [deck] under an oak tree that has seen more than I can imagine, and I will become Mrs. Foster.

I haven't really written about the wedding much lately because I think I've been on wedding overload...my brain is spazzing out and I'm getting to the point where I don't even want to talk wedding because I will launch into a brainspew of my worries and plans and thoughts and it all comes out before I can even stop it.

So...I've just sorta been avoiding it.

That isn't to say that I haven't been utterly consumed by all things wedding. Because I totally have. I (and when I say 'I' I mean with my partner Corey helping me with every single thing) have successfully designed my invites myself and had them printed/cut at Office Depot, I designed an envelope template and cut/scored/folded/glued 100 envelopes out of brown packaging paper, hand addressed them all and sealed the stuffed envelopes with gold wax, and mailed them off. I have the park registered, I have the reception hall [mostly] paid for, my dress is [mostly] paid for, we have taken our engagement pictures and our photographer is [mostly] paid for. We ordered custom rings from Fabuluster on Etsy, which we are so SO excited about. We have been making all sorts of banners and garlands, and I'm making linen placemats and napkins. Corey's brother Geoff made a beautiful fingerprint tree for us (kinda like this one) and I can't wait to see it filled up with the fingerprints of the people that love us.

Most of my anxiety comes from not being able to really picture it all together. It feels like I'm putting dots on a page with no real idea of how the connect-the-dots is gonna turn out once we put the lines in. There are a ton of dots that I'm not even able to put on the page yet because they're still up in the air. Food, day of schedule, getting everything paid for, getting ready... bridal showers? Flowers? Bachelorette party? It'sI just hope that it turns out to be something that I'm proud of. Is it weird to say that? I don't really care that much if my wedding impresses other people, I just want to be proud of the work that we've put into it.

Most of all, of course, I just want to marry my best friend. Looking at his face makes every worry worth it, and when the worries grow too large I scurry into his arms and bats them all away. He is my fearless protector, my comrade-in-arms, my best friend, and my love. Sweet jesus I love this man. I love that I have fun with him everywhere we go, from being goofballs at a park to trying new beers at European Street Cafe...every day is something new, even if it is something we have done a million times before.


Totally Baked

I am now completely and utterly addicted to making my own bread.

For real. It's a problem.

I blogged about Jenna Woginrich's book Made From Scratch at the beginning of the month when I first started reading, and by the end of the book I was absolutely captivated and definitely inspired. The book contains bits of memoir alongside bits of recipes and instructions, one of which being Woginrich's simple recipe for bread. I'm not exactly in the position to raise chickens or keep bees at this moment in time but goshdarnit I can make some bread.

Corey and I trucked off to the store to buy some yeast and honey, the only ingredients I didn't already have, and I was incredibly surprised by how cheap the yeast is! I got a few three-packs of Fleischmann's Active Rise yeast for 1.50 a pop. And each packet makes two loaves of bread?? Yowza. I knew I'd like this homemade bread gig.

Via Literally A Spoonful

I started making me some bread as soon as we got home. I was very timid about the process at first, as I am with any recipe that I am new to...especially one so simple! I for some reason had it ingrained (yuk yuk! oh ho, see what I did there? I slay me) in my head that the reason I haven't already made bread is because it must be difficult, right?

Yeah, no. So easy. So delicious, so easy, so beautiful and gratifying... So wonderful.

So I started my dough, and let it rise (by which time Corey had to go to work) and then I ended up taking my dough over to my sister-in-law Erin's house (hey, uh, Erin? I have a weird question for you...can I make some bread in your kitchen?) since we had a sushi date. I ended up kneading and buttering my dough on her tabletop while she looked at me like I was from another planet.

My two braided loaves, ready to be buttered and ovened!
Close up! Isn't that gorgeous?

I braided my dough as per book instructions and then let her sit for another hourish. I brushed melted butter onto the tops of the loaves right before putting them into the oven (with some thyme and sage on one of the loaves, yknow for science) and crossed my fingers.


The end result that came out of the oven was so delicious and fluffy and OMG-I-HAVE-MADE-BREAD astounding. In her book Woginrich describes the feeling she had after she made her first loaf, like she had conquered all of the lands, and I now know what that feeling of accomplishment is. I swear I felt like beating upon my breast and shouting to the heavens "look what my hands hath wrought!" I didn't want to disturb Erin (she already gives me those side-glance looks every now and then) so I settled instead for tearing into my bread and cramming a delicious hunk of golden warmth into my mouth. Mmm.

When Corey got home that night, I insisted on making him a PB&J sandwich on my bread. I sat there and watched him like a hawk as he ate it (Is it good? Do you like it? I made that! Did I tell you I made that?!) and again, the feeling of satisfaction that rushed through me as I watched my man eat a sandwich that I made out of bread I kneaded with my own hands...it's freakin' incomparable. I felt like all of time had stopped and I was suddenly part of the sisterhood of bread bakers across the centuries. It is serious business, man.

And thus my addiction has been formed. I have since taken dough over to a stranger's house for a party (hey uh, do you mind if I bake some bread in your kitchen? I won't burn anything down, and you'll love it. My name's Keri, by the way, nice to meet you) and taken it over to my dad's house and my in-law's house and all over the place. I have made french toast with my bread and garlic breadsticks and pizza and sandwiches and dipped it in soup and made cinnamon sugar monkey bread, I have made loaves just to watch a hungry swarm of teenagers destroy them in 45 seconds. In fact, I made bread Friday night (to eat with dip, gone in 60 seconds), Saturday night (as buns for turkey burgers, gone in 60 seconds) and then Sunday as well (Corey and I savored it with Fontina cheese and sun dried tomato bruschetta, gone in 60 seconds). 

So thanks, Jenna Woginrich. You are the bomb dot com and I am forever grateful for your inspiration!


Sleepyhead Songs

Corey and I had a [much too] rare Sunday off together this past weekend, and we woke slowly and lazily lay in bed listening to new music for a good hour or two. This is a routine of ours when we get to sleep in together, I wake up about an hour before he does so I'll grab my phone and check out new stuff I've been meaning to give a listen. I cherish this hour so much...we invite Clementine up onto the bed with us and we cuddle together with the light streaming into our bedroom, listening to new music. That's pretty much how I would describe my perfect morning if someone were to ask me. I figured I could start to share some here, so I can keep track of the music we listen to.

This week our sleepyhead songs were:

1. Plans - Grizzly Bear

I've had Veckatimest (Grizzly Bear's 3rd full release) on repeat for over a year now, but I decided to take a trip back and focus more on Yellow House. This song is amazing, and dark, and...this song is a slow waltz with chaotic intensity and melancholy. There is a whistling melody line that I get stuck in my head like crazy. I love Grizzly Bear in general because their music never fails to take me back to the Pacific Northwest, under tall skinny firs that dance among the clouds. The feeling of cool mist at almost all times, the clean smell and the beautiful gloom that I happen to love...Grizzly Bear takes me right back.

2. Radical Face- Always Gold

This song is absolutely beautiful, and as I just learned right now, is a leaked song from Radical Face's first full length album which doesn't come out until October 4th. Oh man, I totally get hipster points for this! Haha. Anyways, this song starts slow and quiet and crescendoes into a song laden with folky guitar and a sweet melody that (at least it seemed to me) to be singing about family and the way that this one member has been "always gold" in the way he/she treats others...or something like that. That was my first impression anyhow. Sidenote: Whoa! I just looked at Ben Cooper (the dude behind the music)'s wikipedia page, and apparently he is from Jacksonville. Small world! I wonder if I know him...

3. Hermitage Shanks by Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer

This song is hilarious! It's about a freaking toilet but it's so catchy and fun, and the video is great too. I had never heard of "chap hop" before, and as a dedicated student of hip hop I am glad I now know about it. Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer is a rapper out of the UK and has apparently been around for a few years now (2007). I rather like the idea of this...it's right proper. "I give thanks...to Hermitage Shanks."

4. Arabesque No. 1 by Debussy (animated version)

Okay so this is a song that I am intimately familiar with, so technically I shouldn't put this here since this is supposed to be for new music. I'll make an exception in this case. By intimately familiar, I mean that this song is a staple to my life. My dad played it for one of his college juries when I was a baby and so I grew up listening to him play this song on the piano over and over. There is something so light and delicate about this song, and so moving, and I can never place my finger quite on it but I never fail to completely immerse myself into this music from the start of the opening lines. This song is stuck so deeply into my brain that when I was in high school I would sit at the piano for hours trying to learn it, but the piece was just too advanced for me. Every time I go to my dad's house I try to learn a little more, and I succeed but oh so slowly. Learning how to play this song is on my bucket list and I WILL do it. BUT back to the video. I stumbled upon it (okay, it was another Reddit find) and was absolutely mesmerized. Basically the creator (Youtube user Musanim) took every note of the music and plugged it into a program that animates the music, so you can see each note and each melody and harmony line and the way each note interacts. The colors that were chosen are so beautiful against the black background, and for someone who has studied these notes on the page of sheet music (which I have spent so many hours doing) it is really a magical thing to watch them take flight like this. I showed this video to my dad and I watched in delight as he dropped his jaw and stared in awe the same way I did. The creator also has a great handful of other animated classical songs, and each are as delightful to watch as this one.

5. Teardrop (Massive Attack cover) - Brad Mehldau

Tying in with the piano theme, this video is a gorgeous cover of the gorgeous song Teardrop by Massive Attack. This song is most notable as the theme song to House but I had no clue about that when I first heard it on a rainy day in an exboyfriend's car. It's kinda funny actually (and paints me as kind of a bitch, but hey this is truth talk) because when he played this for me I got all excited because I love Massive Attack (even though I'd never heard this song before) and thought that I had found a fellow music geek. Turns out he only knew the song because of House and didn't actually like Massive Attack's other music and in truth was not a music geek at all...which lost him some cool points in my book...and let me know in that instant that our relationship wasn't really going to go anywhere as musical compatibility has always been on my top 5 deal breakers. Musical compatibility is one of the many, many reasons why I am marrying Corey as he is just as passionate and geeky about music as I am. ANYWAY (sheesh tangent much?) I found this piano cover and it is marvelous. Brad Mehldau does an amazing job of keeping the melodic structure in tact while going off on the song and making it his own. I love in the middle when his fingers are going crazy and he has his eyes tightly shut in a face of ecstatic concentration. It's like you can watch him completely lose himself to the song. I love it. He actually does a great deal of jazz covers of new[er] songs, including a few Radiohead covers that just destroyed me. I will say though that these covers are all pretty...different...as Brad specializes in free jazz which is a little looser than your normal structured jazz. Some taste acquiring may be required. :D

Alright, I kinda like this. I may keep this as a regular feature here on ye ole blogeroonie. I've got a few more posts up my sleeve as I have done a bunch of fun stuff this week so maybe I can get my fingers to keep ticka-tapping and pop some more words out!


Love Letter to Douglas Anderson

All of the photos in this post were taken by me when I was in high school, and represent (somewhat) my experiences.  

So, I have a secret. It's kind of a guilty pleasure and definitely an alienating kind of thing, as most people do not share it. At all.
...drum roll?

The fountain

I loved high school. There! I said it! I loved loved loved it, I am a completely goob about it and if my high school were a person I would have the hugest crush on it. Inevitably in semi-adult life we will all gather and have bitchfests about our high school experiences, and I can't really contribute anything. I mean, I was just as nerdy and awkward as the next girl but I was in an environment that really allowed me to grow as my own person. It was beautiful.

The courtyard

Of course, I didn't go to your average high school. I went to Douglas Anderson School of the Performing Arts, which is a nationally (and internationally!) recognized arts school. It started off as this piddly little arts school in podunk Jacksonville, Florida and has grown tremendously. Again, it was beautiful. This post has kinda taken a sort of goofy tone, but I am really serious in my passion for this place. I am passionate about everything that the faculty and administration does for its students, and about how every person there seems to be electrified. Just a teeny bit, as if everyone really wants to be there and knows what an amazing thing it is to take part in.

Let me back up. I've been surrounded by music all of my life, as I've mentioned in other posts (here, and here). From the day I was born music has been a part of my everyday life. My parents divorced when I was 10, and I have a very vivid memory from that time of my dad sitting me on his lap and asking me if I would want to try to go to the arts middle school. He explained to me how much music had changed his life for the better, and how much it would mean to him for me to get into the musical lifestyle too. I remember this moment so vividly because I can still see the look on his face, the love in his eyes for both music and me, and when I told him I really wanted to try out a single tear rolled down his cheek. This singular event changed my life more than anything else that has happened to me.

I ended up getting into Landon Middle School, and then I went on to Lavilla when Landon closed. From there I auditioned for DA, and got in with no questions asked or hesitation.

The next four years were a whirlwind of rehearsals and goofiness and teenage angst. From late night poetry readings to parties on the beach in St. Augustine, from crazy [literally insane] Latin teachers to frantic kisses with the first boyfriend out by the portables...I feel like my high school years could have been a book ala The  Perks of Being a Wallflower. I came out a completely different person that who I was when I went in. I just...I wish I could explain better how much I adore those years. Who I was, what I listened to, the exciting feeling of discovering it all. Discovering music, from A Perfect Circle to Radiohead to Broken Social Scene to The Strokes, discovering books like The Catcher in the Rye and The Sound and the Fury, discovering my love for language and my love for geekiness (I was in Brain Brawl and its Latin equivalent, Certamen). Discovering what it felt like to walk to the playground after school with your friends and play on the swings in a light drizzle. Volunteering for anything, everything, just to stay a little later. I remember days where I'd play french horn for an hour and a half in the morning, with an hour and a half rehearsal after school, with a break only to have to perform for a concert. I remember when we would have the big events (like Extravaganza) where we'd be taken out of class for a dress rehearsal, then another rehearsal, then bus downtown for soundcheck and another rehearsal, and then showtime!

I was never as ambitious as a lot of the kids I was in band with as I was mostly there to enjoy the music and the experience, not to become the best player in the band. As a result of that I stayed in the lower band for the first three years at DA. My senior year, however, found me in the top band. My experiences in the top band at the best arts high school in the state deserve an entire post all for themselves, but suffice it to say that the music we played has wormed its way into my heart forever. The friendships I forged as a part of the band's five person horn section have withered but I will never forget what it felt like to be a part of that dynamic group, or the sectional rehearsals we had, or the way it felt to feel the floor shake beneath us during one particularly memorable performance in Indianapolis. There's nothing quite like being one part of a 60-person unit, moving in perfect unison, shaking the ground beneath us. I haven't felt anything like it.

Me (on the far right) with the 3 other senior horn players, right before our last concert

I haven't played my horn since I played at my own graduation, but I can feel the music calling me back.

I spent so many hours right here, perched behind my music stand

And I miss it. Sweet god do I miss it.

I miss coming home with my cheeks on fire from playing all day. I miss having loads of music theory homework, and I miss being ridden with teenage angst. Is that weird? One of Margie's friends that is still in high school was telling us about a fight he had with his dad, and it actually filled me with longing. I miss fights with my parents over my bedtime. I miss them telling me to clean up my room or I couldn't go to my friend's art show, or telling me that no child of their was gonna practice Buddhism in their house! I didn't, by the way. But it amuses me now to look back on what a huge deal I thought that was. I miss the hour and a half bus rides to and from school each day- even though we lived 10 minutes away, I had to ride a shuttle bus from our neighborhood school. I hated it (hated it) at the time, but now of course I miss it. I listened to music the entire ride, alone with my thoughts and my notebook. I don't have time like that anymore, time that I can't be doing anything productive to just sit, with my thoughts.

It's weird now to stop and remember that I had this time, those years, at DA. I keep myself involved in art and artistic pursuits, but to imagine a time when artistic immersion was mandatory? It really seems unreal. I regard those years as time spent in the rabbit hole, I fell in with no idea what I was getting into and then abruptly I was popped back out into the real world.

I am incredibly grateful that Margie ended up going to DA as well- she entered as a freshman the year after I graduated. I got to go to concerts and events and drive her there pretty regularly, so I feel like I was kinda weaned off of DA. I feel like a pretty big nerd going on about my high school like this, but I really do geek about it. I'm trying to get my little stepbrother Kevan excited about it, because I feel like a) if he auditioned for writing he could definitely get in and b) that he belongs there, and it would change his life like it changed mine.
I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to go to DA, and I am grateful for everything that has happened to me since as a result of my time there.

I'm going to stop writing now, and finish this post with pictures.

 Science projects in a sunlit lab

Being artistic (ok goofy) with my best friend Alex

Yeah, we had jam sessions at the bus stop...didn't you?

Being a dork after school...with a shirt I made from a stolen Bush-Cheney sign. Yeah, my parents weren't really happy about that one...
The school was TP'ed the last week of school...and us seniors had to clean it up

Yeah, this is how we spent our time during English class...and yes, those are beanbags we sat on

Our library, a mishmash of art projects from years gone by

And I'll end on this picture, one of my favorites. I feel it epitomizes my life as a DA student...looking at my room in the background, you can see all of the different pieces of art that I made/collected, there's a CD mobile and a Ren & Stimpy shirt, and all manners of different posters and things.

I'm pretty sure I was wearing earrings that I got from the thrift store, and I'm wearing my Harvard sweatshirt that I got on the piano department's field trip to Boston. Young and confused, but ultimately very content.
Good times, man. Good times.


Forest Hostel

There's this place in Georgia, near a little coastal town called Brunswick. Hidden in the woods about 11 miles off the highway is a magical little place called The Hostel in the Forest. Once you find the nigh invisible driveway, you drive blindly for 5ish minutes on a tiny path that winds through the woods until you see it. The camp. A beautiful, peaceful, magical little place full of dirt paths winding through geodesic dome houses.

The porch of the common area is the single most inviting place I have ever known

I am writing about the Hostel in the Forest today because I am missing it dearly.
I have been there twice, one in 2008 and then a year later in 2009, and each time I have felt the impact of it on my entire being.

I went in 2008 with my friend Sarah, who is currently living the perfect hippie life as an herbalist in San Francisco. I don't really talk much to her now, and if I could find the words I would tell her it is because I am so proud of her for committing to her dreams...and that I'm ashamed to meet her eyes because I can't say that about myself yet. I'm getting there, though.

The beautiful Sarah

We stayed in Elmo's Bunk, a treehouse lifted up by tall posts. In the morning, when we woke, we found that a chicken had laid an egg on our doorstep. The egg felt like a gift, and in a moment of overindulgent hippie symbolizing we chose to see it as a gift from all nature in general, thanking us for taking the time to come and reacquaint ourselves. And then we ate it. Hey, it was delicious!

The view from Elmo's Bunk

I wrote this, in our bunk:
It's hard to describe this place, as it already seems so natural to me. Like something you see everyday, its many details escape the title of extraordinary. I know I will miss it greatly when I leave, but at the same time I know it will feel like I never came.

I am laying belly down on the bed, staring out the plate glass window that makes up one wall of our cabin. I feel like this is all there is or ever was, to walk among the giant spiders, to strip down and plunge into the lake, with young nubile bodies. We are fresh and hopeful, full of love and energy, playing plinky guitar and creating drum circles out of arms and hands.

I am down for adventures.

-In Elmo's Bunk at Forest Hostel, 8.1.08

I am down for adventures. Man, am I down for adventures.

When I came back in 2009, I came with Corey. We were only a few months into our relationship, but I already had the distinct suspicion that he was the one I had been searching for..but he had to pass the Forest Hostel test. For many years now I have been feeling myself stretching and molding to fit this ideal life I have in mind, full of words like self-sustainable and organic. I needed to know if Corey could mold with me as the changes take place, and taking him to Forest Hostel proved to me that he could. We stayed in the Dragon's Lair this time, and connected so deeply together in the land of the giant spiders and the beating drums. We spent hours on the octagonal dock in the middle of the little lake, swimming and canoeing and talking. Feeling the little nibbles of tiny fish that could swim into the netting of the dock. At the vegan dinner, he tried a bunch of foods that he never would have ordinarily given a chance, proving that he had an open mind. We made a circle with all of the staff and guests, holding hands, and each took a turn expressing our thanks for something in our lives...we both thanked life for each other.

Inside the Dragon's Lair

Running barefoot down the dirt paths past the gardens and the chickens, wearing a bare minimum of clothing, there is a large sense of peace. The type of feeling when you feel no guilt, no worries, no insecurity and no fear. Every where you turn there are little pieces of art, little painted signs and stones, dreamcatchers and garlands; these are all of the people that have been there before you and the sense of community from past and present overwhelms you. If there is ever a place of true and unadulterated validation, the Forest Hostel is it.

The mirror reads: "Remember you are a golden shining eternity."

If you want to make some music? Make some music. If you want to go swimming? There's a pool AND a lake with canoes. Do what you want. Every night the entire staff invites the guests to help them prepare a 100% vegan dinner made of vegetables grown on their land. Every morning eggs are collected from the chickens and left in a basket in the kitchen so that guest can make a scramble if they'd like. The showers are all outside (in varying degrees of privacy) with Dr. Bronner's Shampoo for all. And everything (everything!) is decorated, beautiful, adorned in peace.

In the common room there is a place for music, with guitars and drums and a piano.

The pool is murky and filled with tadpoles, but beautiful just the same.

There are chickens EVERYWHERE! I loved it!
You can also see the extensive recycling center here.

As I grow older I place more and more value on getting out of the consumerist lifestyle. I feel guilty everyday because of my eating habits and my spending habits and basically every habit that I have grown up with as normal. I maybe be 'normal' now but I am definitely not right. I dream of a day when my hands have created everything I eat, where if I want to eat meat then I will hunt and kill the food myself. I want to eliminate waste, I want to raise my kids with an inherent respect for everything that lives and for the world we all live in. The Forest Hostel is an inspiration for me, and Corey and I are planning to escape there the weekend after our wedding, as a preliminary honeymoon of sorts.

I can't wait to get back and breathe it in, to feel the happiness of people living a guilt-free existence. I just can't wait.