Music Monday! with Carolina Wray

Happy Monday, sweet friends! How are you on this rainy Illinois winter morning? Are you feeling well loved and appreciated? I sure hope so because, I appreciate you so much! If you are new to my cozy little corner of the internet, Welcome! I have tea, coffee, mugs and maybe breakfast if you can talk me into using some of my domestic skills.

It is my day off office job wise, so, I’m cuddled up with my coffee, doing laundry and still shamelessly in my pajamas because, this girl works insanely hard and cannot be on point levels of hot all of the time, right? Anyway, I have some great new friends to introduce you to! I promise you will love them because, I instantaneously wanted to be best friend friends with them and y’all know I’m picky!

So, let me introduce you to North Carolina based souls, Carolina Wray! Brothers Dillon and Rev Wray make music that pulls from influences like Tom Petty, Jack White and even The Decedents! The tunes they make pay tribute to all of the music they love by making music that is warm, textured and completely rock n’ roll!

There’s no solace quite like finding fellow small town souls that understand the creative struggle. Nothing.  Let me just tell you that these men work insanely hard to do what they do. They create music that matters, communicate with those that support it with love and respect and spend countless hours and days travelling, recording, playing and building lives they love.

As per usual with these chats, I asked about guilty pleasure jams and the music that you keep close to yourself. Without missing a beat, Dillon jumped in to completely change my perspective. I don’t think he will ever understand the kind of impact that his thoughts had on my understanding of introducing people to music. He said that he found no shame in loving the music that he loves because, all of it is made from places that need celebrated or healed. All of it is made for souls that need to hear it. All of it is worth the time that was made to make it.

Sometimes I think finding music has become less of an adventure than it used to be. There’s no digging through bins or dodging pick up lines thrown by stoner sales boys in t-shirts covered in logos of metal bands I’m not brave enough to see live. It’s both easier and more painful to type even a lyric into a search engine and get the results that you want. That is not how I found Carolina Wray. It was instead reminiscent of a hunt for me. Friends of friends, “Laura check this out. You’d love these guys.” A few Google searches and some impressive social media stalking lead me to finding music and people I would be a fool not introduce you to!You want to support these passionate friends of mine, I promise.

 

Check them out:

Twitter: @CarolinaWray

Instagram: @CarolinaWray

Facebook: Facebook.com/CarolinaWray

 

You can tell them I sent you, if you want. They think I’m okay, I hope.

 

This week’s playlist is here:   https://open.spotify.com/user/1218253885/playlist/2KKi910XRhZA9A688lvfCA

 

 

I will see your sexy faces on Thursday.

xx Laura

 

I hope I’m a terrible housewife.

I love Grace Potter. I turned the volume up and sang along rocking the same old streets in a new bright car, new grey dress, same old boots. New restaurant, new dinner company. In a paraphrase of The Cure “It’s Friday, I’m not in love.”

On first dates, I have a strict rule that I drive myself. There are a few wonderful reasons for this. On top of the fact that I’ve got a dizzying schedule, it provides me with much needed escape routes and a mobile method of travel tunes for recovery. Dull conversations mixed with Midwestern Mock Up Mexican make Laura a bored, exhausted girl who just wasted her push up bra. You know what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong. He was perfectly charming. Opened doors, gave compliments, let me bat my eyes….the whole bit. Rolled up button down sleeves gave way to hint of tattoos and I lost my mind between ink, straight teeth and pop culture filled banter. Ovaries go boom! We all know how charmed this particular lady is by nerdom don’t we?

He was perfectly kind and funny and then the check came and just as I thought he’d  reach for my hand he said “So, shall we go Dutch or do you want to take it?” Record scream. Stop. Rewind. What!? He must have seen my befuddlement as he explained. “Girl works hard. Drives herself. Kept sober. Glasses on.  Only laughed at my good jokes. I’ve read your blog, love. Feminist, right? I don’t want to step on your toes baby, but, Feminists make shit housewives.”

I didn’t play it cool. I didn’t pay the check. I didn’t walk out. I didn’t even throw my drink in style of every classy soap opera diva (though, my my I wanted to!) Instead, I started to ask questions. I sat down, ordered us another drink and focused. Tell me about how your heart broke, sir.

Being the Bible College graduate that he was I knew the rhetoric, as I had spent four years having it brewed into my coffee. I was always aware that there was something in the water. I had had plenty may of the men I knew had shut down my offers to pick up the tab, or open my own door out of the kindness of my heart because I was a woman and they were men and big strong men were the only ones allowed to do anything nice.

He smiled and gave me this glorious speech about how precious women are and how it’s only fair to treat them like precious little petals of perfection and cared for and that was all well and good but, here’s my problem…why do men use my ability to care for myself as reason to terrible dates!? I mean really. It’s not that I can’t pay for my own meal. I can and do gladly but, if you call me up and want to take me out the planning, preparations and payment are your deal. That’s how it works. If I had called you, we’d be having and entirely different conversation. I promise!

There’s so much more to supporting Feminism than “allowing” a woman to pay for food or coffee or drive a car she paid for with her own well worked hours, Christians. There’s so much more than forcing yourself between her and a doorway or walking on the street side of the sidewalk. It’s giving her moments of weary, it’s understanding how hard she works to fight glass ceilings. Give her the night off once in a while? Understand that gestures should come from warmth and kindness and not proving points.

I kissed his hand, thanked him for the dinner and walked out on the check. It was that simple. Know that you are worth so much more than being put on a pedestal. But, that doesn’t mean you’re not worth being treasured.

Re: Solutions

It’s that time of year again, friends. Time for old acquaintance be forgot and yada yada..right? Girl, same!

Let’s face facts for a moment, shall we? 2016 was the worst. I mean, really. I started the year with kidney stones and surgery, ended it drowning in self doubt and depression unlike anything I had faced in my life. So, there I sat on New Year’s Eve working a job that weighs down my soul, wearing stretchy pants because nothing else fits and scrolling through ootals and ootals of cliché holiday proposals. I was officially 3,2,1…done!

Upon midnight’s arrival, I hit the Deactivate button on my Facebook account and pulled up my calendar making an appointment with my doctor. In the interest of sparing you any confusion, I’ll instead tell you that I love the life that social media has given me, okay? I love that this blog has gotten to a place it provides me community and space for self-expression. However, personal social medias have become black holes for the time that I could spending doing so many more things. They fill my empty spaces with looking up ex boyfriends or, the man who is unattainable. The scrolling accompanies the rolling of my eyes as I see the seventeenth photo of that friend’s baby that she’s posted since dawn and feel the pain of pining as couples get together, fall in love, get engaged and married. Sometimes, it gets hard. Sometimes, the tears come when they shouldn’t and most nights I fall asleep lonelier that I woke.

It’s become so easy to lose ourselves in the images of other people. It is second nature to most of us to feel subpar when we see moments flash in front of us that we cannot claim for ourselves. It’s like window shopping for life when we’ve got amazing things in our own closets, we just have to appreciate them.

It is not in my nature to be selfish. But, there are a few things I know and one of them is that this 2017 is the only one I’m going to get. It is now mine. I will spend it in the most precious of endeavors. 2017 I will love myself more. I will love myself more than anything.

Step One. Take my damn medication! I mean, I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for over a decade and I still haven’t taught myself how to get on a schedule with this!? REALLY!? So, refills ordered, reminder alarms set and well, we’re giving it our best shot.

Step Two. Communicate more meaningfully. This includes  but, is not limited to the Facebook actication and finally telling hottie the hot bartender that four months is just too long to wait for a solid dinner invite, or a coffee, or a freaking conversation that I don’t have to initiate.

Step Three. Read every word I can get my hands on. I have a list of 52 books to read in 52 weeks, and it’s Tuesday of my first week starting book two. (Did every Nerd alarm in the world just go off? Great!)

There are several other things I want to do with my tear. Become financially stable, move, create a capsule wardrobe and a few other things but, I want to leave you with this. This year is yours. This year is for creating and moving and growing. This year is for the beauty that’s inside of you. Please take time to see that.

Feeling Blue, Loving Linus and Laundry Day.

I have always really loved Sally Brown.

The girl’s got sass, she wears her heart on her sleeve,   the great Kristen Chenoweth played her in a musical and she can rock some tennis shoes with a dress. HELLO! Sign me up, please!

In all realities, I am entirely Sally Brown. I am a big ball of gooey, feely live nerve emotions. I feel with all that I have all of the time. I want to be the dearest of friends with every person that I meet. Particularly when I feel like they need it.

My sweet friend Sally did the exact same thing. Enter Linus.

The more Sally tried to care for Linus in a genuine way, the more Linus runs. At least, that’s what I’ve decoded from my years of birthday gifts lovingly wrapped in Peanuts cartoons.

I’ve been there a million times.

I finally heal from a break up and a few months into Boss Babe, Who Runs The World, full Beyonce mode I meet him. Usually tall, heavy on the eye candy, sometimes clever and provides me moments of witty banter…always recently single. I decide to befriend him. Just friends. I am Mayor, First Lady and Fair Queen of the Friend Zone so platonic situations ain’t got nothin’ on my skills, if you know what I’m saying.

Then, it happens. A few months into getting to know you chats that turn into semi-flirtatious musings while I sit at home with a class of wine in my hand. Both sides fluttering around the want to spend time with one another….for God’s sake it’s only dinner and POW! Like, a Batman cartoon bubble, lights out.

Nothing. Not a peep. Casper the not-so-friendly ghost. I let it settle a few days. He’s busy, I’m busy. Space. The moment I get my wits about me, I send the paragraph.

“So, here’s the deal. I think you’re great and I’ve decide that your silence means one of two things; either I did something awful or you found yourself a ladyfriend.”

The soliloquy in response always includes how warm, sweet, supportive, clever, lovely and wise I am. They say they still want to be friends, that their new romantic interest is still new and they don’t want to ruin it. Then, as if by magic the warmth they felt for me goes cold. Ice cold. I’ve met my fair share of Linuses and rather than Sally, I’ve realized I’m the blanket.

You never see Linus sans blanket, do you? He holds onto it so tightly that it may be fused to a finger or ten. So there I sit, trusty, cozy, blue and warm while he cuddles up to an electric blanket next to fire while it blizzards about. Contentment like that is only made the better by new romance highs.

Being warm and cozy is who I am as a person. I will not be ashamed of the genuine way I am created to love people. This becomes the thing that both attracts people to me and makes me an easy target for Linus on laundry day, clutching the nearest warm and fuzzy while the one that he wants and isn’t ashamed to drag around town is indisposed.

Every time it happens, I hurt for awhile. I listen to break up songs. Sometimes, I cry. Then, I try to stay positive. I try to remember that I have my stuff together. I have great jobs, I have shrinking student loan debt, I am a rocking hottie with a great parking space and not to mention, I’m fun. I deserve usually tall, heavy on the eye candy, more than sometimes clever and eyes all for me.

I am not a blanket. I’m a down comforter. Quilted, expensive, cozy and I deserve to be held onto.

xx.Laura

Music Monday with Stonefeather!

Happy Snowy Monday, Loves! I have missed you, (I’m sorry, yo girl’s got stuff!)

 

Let’s be real, friends of mine, it’s been a weird season for me. Winter has wiped all color from the Midwest, I run on more coffee than sleep and I’m lucky it’s boots weather, because, sock matching is not a thing with a schedule like this one, sister! So, how about a little California Sunshine? Yes, please!

As you all have figured, I’m sure, I’m a lot more sugary indie pop and a melody than I have have been metal, swear words and pure rock n’ roll. That being said, I own a leather jacket now, I can almost pass, if I stopped smiling at strangers!

 

I am a sucker for good touristy mug and I’ve got one full of homemade London Fog and lots to chat with you about! Ready!? Cool. If you are new to my cozy little corner of the internet, Welcome! I apologize for the clutter.  But, kick your shoes off, fill your mugs up and let’s chit chat!

In the building and maintaining of the blog, lots and lots of musicians have slipped into my life to turn up the jams and pretty it up. That is how I met the delightful men of Los Angeles based rock n’ roll experience, Stonefeather!

Now, pardon my cardigans and general leaning toward socially awkward but, I do not fit in at a rock show very often. I become the girl in the back of the room people watching. I’m almost positive that I would no longer at all ever be allowed to do that around this lot! I’d be in trouble! Dave and Ian kept me up way past my much needed, old lady, different time zone style bedtime to laugh and chat about life, creating, performing and other such things. I learned lots from them. It was like a late night study session for me but, so much more fun!

Usually, when you hear that the man is in a band, ladies do you think Berklee College of Music trained musician in awesome band? No? Me neither, but, Y’ALL! These guys are so fun They are incredibly well trained, well mannered and totally worth a Google.  They pull from so many influences that originally I felt a little like a heartbroken girl at a Ben and Jerry’s. What does my heart need!? All of it! I will love all of it and enjoy every moment! These guys are so incredible well trained, beautifully skilled and lovely.

 

On top of being incredibly well influenced by everything from jazz to classical to the Chilli Peppers, these guys are supremely kind. You know how I feel about kind musicians don’t you? I force them into best friendship and make them adore me. At least, that’s my plan for this lot.  They are delightful!

 

We chatted a ton about the life of a creative and I wanted to chat with y’all about that a little bit. Every musician that is associated with this blog has a day job, a few of them wives, some of them even families. It is so impossibly important to support lives that that create love, joy, light and community. Stand behind bands you want to stand in front of. Go to shows. Buy things, share things, watch videos, etc.

 

Support Stonefeather! Do it! They released a new video that totally doesn’t suck! Watch “Ride On” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRXMOAmUyMg

 

Harass them on social media, because, that’s how they ended up here! A little Instagram stalking never hurt anyone.

 

Instagram: @StonefeatherBand

 

Twitter: @Stonefeather

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StonefeatherMusic

 

Harass them. Tell them how much they don’t suck and how much you love me, if you want!

 

This week’s playlist will be an adventure for you with all of my indie pop leanings and the full on metal and rock love these guys shared with me (and that Stravinsky will make you think you’re a rockstar. I promise!) Check out here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1218253885/playlist/2e1FKK48mcsD1zvJX82h9R

 

I’ll see your sexy faces on Thursday!

xx. Laura

Dear Able Bodied Women, Please, Stop Letting Your Boyfriend Hit On Me.

Hello Ladies,

I know we don’t talk often but, I think at this point in the evening as the party’s winding down we should.

I’ve been fighting off men with sticks tonight! Let’s face facts, this dress hits in all of the right places, the music’s good and the cute bartender keeps smiling at me.

I’d hit on me, too. But, here’s the thing. Every one of the men that have hit on me tonight have been one of your boyfriends.(By the way, yeah, hottie bartender? He doesn’t have a girlfriend. I checked. Smile away, sir!)

Now, I’m not complaining. Handsome men that want to buy me drinks or offer an elbow for me to get somewhere? Great. But, the comments should stop. I tripped, because, Palsy and dress shoes, your beau grabbed me by the hips and said “It’s been a long time since a pretty girl has fallen for me, Laura.” I appreciated his willingness not to let me hit the floor, but we had to have a talk about his hand placement.

We both know that I love good flirtatious banter. I love intelligent arguments and well worded pickup lines. I love hand touching and long gazes. The fact of the matter is I have mastered all of those things and I’m damn good at using them when I need to.

There are reasons that your boyfriends hit on me as opposed to other “hot girls” and you let it happen. We need to discuss why this is not only entirely uncomfortable for me, but, should offend you just as much.

  1. I am “unmarked territory”. Naked ring finger and few signs of desperation mean that this girl is not looking to go home to anyone’s bed but her own and the only man allowed in is the cup of Earl Grey she brings with her. This means he doesn’t have to follow through. He can play the game and walk away. The reason this should embarrass you is that he’s wasting all of his good lines on me, tell him to reign it in and bring it your way. When he does, you’ll thank me.  It’s frustrating for me because, I deserve someone’s A Game and I’m definitely not target practice.
  1. He thinks I need a “pick me up”.  A friend of my sister’s did this to me on her bachelorette weekend. I walked downstairs, ready to go out and he said “Wow! You’re going to knock them dead tonight. Laura, you look hot!” Here’s the problem with that…comments like that didn’t come out of his mouth to any of the other girls that night. Here’s why. They were pity words. That doesn’t mean he didn’t mean them, but, I’m pretty sure he thought that “poor little Laura” needed an ego boost. I didn’t. I was flattered, but, later, after reciprocating such banter, he made the assumption that I was interested and made a grand soliloquy as to why he was not interested and that he was actually dating someone. He felt bad for me and wanted to let me down gently. If that were the case, the comment, while true, should not have been made in the first place. A simple “You look nice” would suffice.
  1. He thinks it’s funny. A now married man used to hit on me in front of his then girlfriend. He used to tell me he’d run away with me, but wasn’t sure I could keep up. He told me that I was twice the woman his lady was. I am. She’s incredibly slender. The joke, while funny and true was mean spirited. Not okay. His lack of respect for any woman should make your stomach sick.

Now, I’m not saying that the occasional flirtatious comment is completely disallowed. What I’m asking is that it not be given a gold star by the women that claim these men. It shouldn’t be okay for him to hit on the Plus Sized Girl With Palsy if it’s not okay for him to hit on the hot, able bodied brunette in the corner. I’m just asking that it not be justified because you think I need it, or you think that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in July because of my body.

I don’t need your validation or that of your man-mister. Please and thank you. Please stop making him think I do.

Love,

Laura

Music Monday! with Ryan Argast of Marina City

Hello, sweet friends! How are you? Are you happy, healthy and feeling well loved? I certainly do hope so!  I just made a fresh pot of coffee, so, help yourselves and we’ll snuggle up and chat on this rainy Tuesday morning!

Now, I know what you’re thinking…”Laura, this is a Music Monday series”. Yeah, I know. But, I’ve got some type of strep throat thing that won’t go away and my valuable, wonderful guest for this week is a really busy person at this point in time, so we’re going to pretend it’s Monday and have our umbrella of Grace up okay? Cool.

When I go to shows, where I’m a fan, friend or the cute girl behind a camera, the back the room is my favourite spot. You get the best view of the enjoyment and community that’s built at shows. In fact, in June, I did the same thing at a hometown show of some great friends’ bands and I got to see hometown fandom for them for the first time. It was the coolest.

The reason I tell you this, is that it was at this same band’s show in Chicago that Ryan Argast and I were in the same room and never met. We were fanfriends at the same show that left as strangers. I hugged my familiars, made some new friends, got back on the interstate and into my average. Until this week. Twitter and a few mutual, lovely friends did me a solid and a phone call was scheduled.

Ryan is the front man for Chicago based “Aggressive Pop Punk” band Marina City. As dancey and hardcore influenced as their jams are, Aggressive? I have a hard time believing that. Ryan is one of the kindest souls I’ve come across in this adventure in a long time.

An avid Chicago Cubs fan (which, I’ll overlook just this once) and Mexican food fiend, Ryan Argast started his journey into music with influences like Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson. As time went on, the Chicago hardcore scene took its influence and fused it with passionate, friendly pop vocals making Ryan’s one of the most distinctive voices I’ve gotten the chance to know making music in Illinois.

My favourite part of these interviews, as you all know, has nothing to do with the music. It has everything to do with the community building and chatter between questions. In that, I find that I have built some of the warmest friendships. Ryan’s passion lies in the celebration of personhood.  The music that he makes and the community that his music builds celebrates the individuality of the people in audiences.  It doesn’t matter what you’re into, it makes you who you are and that is someone who is worth being loved, celebrated and cared for. I have every ounce of love and respect for Ryan and his bandmates as they embark on such a powerful journey to make the world warmer and more accepting.

This thought brings me to chase a rabbit on this “Music Monday” and it is this. For the last year or so, I have spent my life and love building this community. My little cozy corner of the internet is a place of acceptance and love. We are a place of body positivity, rockin’ tunes and choruses of “You go, girl!” So, my heart was broken when this community was brought under attack of awful, untrue words by way of internet troll. They called me a few names. None of which are worth repeating.

Let me just tell you that in my journey of bullying, and self-worth destruction at the hands of other people has gone on for a really long time. My worth is not measured by my waistline and no matter the eloquence or clever behind your calling me or any of me readers “fat” or “ugly”, you don’t win. Because it’s not the truth

So, I’m going to ask with all of the love in my heart. This place is a place of love, encouragement, affirmation, glitter, coffee and massive dance parties. So please, keep your Negative Nancy attitude outside of this place. This is my safe place and yours. Don’t take advantage of that. Don’t make me make serious faces, I’m almost thirty now, y’all. You will give me wrinkles and make me look my age. That’s not nice! So, be kind to each other here.

I am forever on your team, forever in your corner, always rooting for you to be your happiest greatest selves. You make my dreams come true.

Make sure to crank up some Marina City today and Shake It Off with me, all T-Swift style! Those guys are great.  Their new EP drops September 16th and is going to be so wonderful! Check them out at the links below:

Facebook: facebook.com/MarinaCityBand

Instagram: MarinaCityBand

Twitter:  @MarinaCityBand @MarinaCityRyan @MarinaCityBrian @MarinaCityMatt @MarinaCityEric @MarinaCityAaron @marinacitytodor

 

This week’s playlist is here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1218253885/playlist/7bVu1q7xfLc5SpDwhQri7c

 

I’ll see your sexy faces on Thursday!

xx.Laura

Feature Image Photo by Penelope Martinez (Girl that lighting!? I’m dying!)