Monday, August 20, 2012

OK... so I know I said I was taking a brief break from writing on Saturday; what I *meant* was I was taking one from writing heavy posts. What, that wasn't clear? Well, who is to blame for that?!?

[cough cough]


So, yes... 

In the interim, I decided I'd just throw together a bunch of stuff to keep the ol' writing muscles limber.

So... here we go!

I'll start off with the one piece of bad news I will include in this post.

As I mentioned indirectly yesterday and in a reply to Cynthia's kind-hearted comment (she has her work cut out for her when it comes to praying for *this* blogger!), I did not get the apartment I wanted.

I've looked at a number of them in the past few weeks, now that I'm reasonably certain I won't be sentenced to my company's northern outpost. You know, that's the one that they didn't see fit to inform me (or anyone else) about until six weeks AFTER I moved from a different state with one week's notice for the job.

Sorry. Just one of a number of things about this job that get my dander up.

Anyway, I started looking for an apartment. I had a few non-negotiables: it had to be quiet, be walkable, with a parking spot (the town I want to live in doesn't allow on-street parking at night) and at least a washer/dryer hookup. No laundromats for this gal!

(I was also cognizant of the advice - unsolicited, needless to say, as it so often is with her - proffered recently by my self-appointed adviser on all matters feminine, my sister C.

I was describing another apartment to her, going into detail about the woodwork, the view, and on and on.

"Fine, fine, fine," she said when I finished. "But what about a woman's number one priority?"

I thought for a moment. I knew a lot was riding on this.

"Double locks?" I asked, hesitantly.

"Locks?!? Closet space!" she said. "Haven't you listened to *anything* I've told you?"

She shook her head in dismay.

"We have so much work to do."

Duly chastened, I embarked anew on my quest.)

A few I looked at would have been acceptable, but were charging ridiculously high rent. Several others would have been more than acceptable, but were gone before I could even look at them.

Then I saw this one.

It was perfect.

Ten minutes from the office, ten minutes from the gym I want to join, great for walking, close to downtown, easy access to public transit... it had it all.

And the apartment felt like home as soon as I entered. Owner-occupied, beautiful light, roomy, with a parking spot, washer & dryer hookups, and all in a quiet neighborhood.

Oh, and closets.

Lots and lots of closets.

As I said, perfect.

The landlord emailed the application to me, which I managed to squeeze in between work and my cousin's wake and memorial service.

Then... nothing.

For four days.

I sent several messages, and left voicemail as well, asking what the status was.

Finally, six days after my viewing, I received a terse reply by email.

She had decided to continue accepting applications, and would decide later. She would let me know if anything changed.

In other words... no.

Ordinarily I would have been annoyed more than anything else. If she wasn't interested, why have me waste time with the application, then leave me hanging for days?

But now, I was just down.

The past six months have been challenging. Lots of people have it much worse (one friend in particular is having a very tough go of it right now, through absolutely no fault of her own)... but lots have it better too.

I was really down the day I found out. It was my niece's birthday. I knew better than to ask my family for any emotional support; I simply kept to myself that evening.

However, I was reminded of one of the more welcome effects of nine months of HRT. Not only do I no longer feel the need to keep my emotions inside (actually, I simply can't now), but those emotions don't stick around very long.

The next morning I was over it.

As M told me yesterday, I'll find another apartment.

I don't have control over much of anything in my life at the moment.

But that's temporary.

It will pass. And things will get better.

As I've said, things like this are only making me more determined, not less.

But it was nice to get a reminder.


OK, no more negative vibes! All fun stuff from here on in.

I sort of buried this in yesterday's post, but I sent in my registration for First Event on Friday.

I'm very excited about it.

And, to be honest, a little scared.

But the good kind of scared.

Echoing the vow of a much wiser soul than myself, I vowed when I decided to transition that I wasn't letting fear rule my life any longer.

This is a perfect example of why. I'm hopeful I'll learn a lot, expand my comfort zone a bit, and, ideally, make a new friend or two.

As I wrote yesterday, this is the first time I have ever looked forward to January in New England. For that alone I'm grateful. :c)

The journey continues!


Things have been so busy lately I had no time to adequately discuss the fun I had at this year's Newport Folk Festival.

It was wonderful as always, in spite of the monsoon-like rains that fell each afternoon.

A line of particularly nasty thunderstorms rolled through early Saturday evening, forcing My Morning Jacket to cut their stellar headlining set short by about 20 minutes. I can now attest that there is nothing like standing in six inches of water during a drenching rainstorm as lightning strikes boats in the harbor not 50 yards away to help you shake off a week's worth of insomnia. :c)

(How tired was I? I was busy showing T my brand new camera early that Saturday morning - my old one went to the Darkroom in the Sky after 11 years of service - while he listened patiently. When I finished, he said, "You realize you keep calling that your phone, right?" Well... no. No, I did not. lol)

Anyway, the music was wonderful, as it always is. I could write multiple posts about the amazing sets I witnessed. I've already sung the praises of My Morning Jacket and the amazing Gary Clark Jr.; here are some additional highlights.

* The Preservation Hall Jazz Band were stellar, as always. (Their side stage set two years ago is one of the best live shows I've ever seen.) Bluegrass legend Del McCoury and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, grandson of Pete Seeger, guested.

* Alabama Shakes played an incendiary set early Saturday afternoon. Brittany Howard has a titantic voice! I think the highlight of the day on Saturday was her riveting guest appearance during My Morning Jacket's set on a cover of The Band's classic "It Makes No Difference."

* Speaking of titanic voices, Patty Griffin played a wonderful solo set. She opened with my favorite song of hers, "Forgiveness" (I assure you it will give you goosebumps), and the set only improved from there. She mentioned she recently finished hew new album, backed by members of the North Mississippi All-Stars. If the new songs she played are any indication, it will be a barn-burner.

* Sunday was ridiculously good. I spent nearly the entire day at the Quad Stage. My primary reason was to get a prime spot for Punch Brothers, one of my very favorite bands. But it wound up being a great choice for a number of reasons.

I met a wonderful family from Texas, and happily spent the day trading stories about past festivals and favorite performers. We've stayed in touch in the weeks since, and are already looking forward to getting together at next year's festival. (Needless to say, I'll have to chat with them before then! I suspect they will be OK with it, based on their kind words after my cousin R's passing.)

* If you like your folk to be rollicking and rockabilly-flavored, may I introduce you to Providence's Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons? I had picked up his fine new album earlier this summer, but that scarcely prepared me for the gale force of his live set. It was even more amazing when he mentioned that their guitar player (who played multiple mind-blowing solos) was filling in for his regular guitarist, who was home with his wife and brand-new baby.

* The next set, by New Multitudes, was the other reason I made the difficult choice to forego the other stages that day. As I mentioned in an earlier post, they did not disappoint. Their four-part harmonies were remarkable - particularly when you consider that this is a one-off side project for all concerned. I was already a fan of My Morning Jacket and Son Volt (the bands of Jay Farrar and Jim James, respectively), but I left vowing to further investigate the work of Anders Parker (Varnaline and solo) and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel, solo).

* Punch Brothers did not disappoint. Anyone who has read this blog over the past few months no doubt is aware of how much I like them, and Sunday's set summed up why. Jaw-dropping instrumental prowess, daring covers (they did a head-shakingly good instrumental version of Radiohead's "Kid A"), and a palpable love of playing live. Chris Thile has made no secret of his love of Newport, and it was evident from his inspired playing and the set-long grin he wore.

But the best was yet to come. After their stage-closing set finished, F and I were debating if we wanted to brave the latest downpour to catch the last half of Jackson Browne's closing set on the main stage or head back to town.

Suddenly F stopped mid-sentence, turned toward the stage, and said, "Listen!"

We heard the faint strains of a mandolin being played at mind-warping speed.

"Chris Thile came back out!" F exclaimed as we raced to the front of the tent.

Sure enough, there he was, smiling widely, standing alone at the fence separating the stage from the audience, surrounded by security, a rapidly-growing crowd forming behind us.

Remarkably, everyone cooperated, not wanting to risk spoiling the magic of the moment. There was respectful silence so that those in the back could hear.

After a few songs, guitarist Chris Eldridge and bassist Paul Kowert joined him. Hearing them play, unadorned, only reinforced just how good they are. Finally, after six songs, security insisted that the crowd disperse. It was clear that they would have happily played all night long. It was a moment to treasure.

F and I walked over for the end of Jackson Browne's set. He launched into "These Days" - only my favorite song of his - as we arrived. He played for another half hour or so, and, just as the rain ceased and the sun emerged, closed with a great version of his pal Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns, & Money," with guitar pyrotechnics (he played part of his solo with his teeth!) courtesy of Tom Morello. (As my friend C <ADD LINK>, who was listening online from home, texted me later, "Does your face get calluses if you play with your teeth long enough?")

Oh, and I did mention that we saw a double rainbow as we waited in line for the water taxi?

As I've mentioned, Newport is magical. :c)


A brief vignette, from Sunday night as we (T, J, F, and myself) walked to dinner.

J: "So we're watching Jackson Browne start to play, and the rain starts up again. This woman in front of us opens this gigantic black umbrella! And I mean GIGANTIC!

"It was like she was telepathic! Every time I moved for a better view, she would move too. Finally all I could see was part of Jackson Browne's hand on his guitar neck... Oh, and part of Sara Watkins' (his fiddle player) right boob, now that  I think of it."

Me: "Just be grateful it wasn't MY boob. Or you wouldn't have seen ANYTHING."

We all had a good laugh. :c)


A few odds and ends to round things out.

I wanted to share a picture of the beautiful bracelet T and J bought me as a gift:

I absolutely love it. Not only does it fit, miracle of miracles - as you can see, I have *really, really* skinny wrists - but it's teal, my very favorite color. I've worn it every single day since. Thank you again, T & J!

(I'm considering a contest that challenges readers to count the freckles in this photo, but I'm not sure anyone can allot THAT much free time...)

Speaking of teal, I also want to show you a photo of the skirt I bought after careful consultation with J:

This is from the same merchant who had the adorable outfit both J and I noticed at the festival we had attended earlier in July.

That outfit wasn't available, alas, but I LOVE this. It's really cute, and, need I point out, it's teal.

I've worn it several times to my sessions with M - the only time I can dress as myself at the moment, unfortunately. I'm very much looking forward to when I can wear it all the time. For now, though, it makes me smile every time I think of the weekend I bought it and the friends who shared it with me.

I am a lucky, lucky gal.


And to round things out, a handful of the photos I took that weekend using my brand-new, truly idiot-proof camera. Hope you like them!

Preservation Hall Jazz Band w/Del McCoury:

The Main Stage. That's Fort Adams in the background. It's a fascinating place.

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. If you like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, you will love Dawes. Guaranteed.

Patty Griffin. You can't see them, but she had on awesome boots. And I love her hair. :c)

And here's My Morning Jacket, with Ben Sollee on cello, shortly before the heavens opened up. Yes, Jim James (in white) is wearing a cape.

Joe Fletcher - this expression perfectly captures what he sounds like. Gotta love that hint of mischief in the eyes! lol

Jim James of New Multitudes - and My Morning Jacket. Yup, he pulled double duty...

New Multitudes (from L to R: Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Jay Farrar, & Jim James).

Gary Clark Jr. shows you how it's done.

Of Monsters & Men. They had a tough act to follow (Mr. Clark), but they were wonderful.

A few shots of my boys, Punch Brothers:

And here's Jackson Browne, with some help from (L-R) Jonathan Wilson, Taylor Goldsmith, and Tom Morello (a/k/a The Nightwatchman).

And last but not least, a few shots of Newport Harbor at sunset.

The Clairborne Pell Bridge

Downtown Newport from Ft. Adams.

Hope you enjoyed them! 


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