on rotation

So two weeks ago I did kind of an upbeat, power-walk sort of playlist, so I wanted to go in the opposite direction this time: just ambling down the way and enjoying the chill of the air. I actually took one of those walks a few days ago, giving myself a bit of a breather, and I felt just as good as when I came back from a strenuous workout. I guess I just needed some movement. But anyway, enjoy!



3 – “DUVET” BY BoA

You can also listen to the acoustic version, which is just phenomenal.









Ooooh, I haven’t done one of these in a while. I figure, since it’s my birthday tomorrow, that I should celebrate by regaling you with another super fun story about how vehicular technology hates me.

Remember how Mah-gret the Mazda died? Well, her untimely death at the hands of a cherry-red catalytic converter made it necessary for me to find another form of transportation, as job searching and then going to hopefully found job would have been difficult in a town as spread out as Nashville. My parents had just purchased a car for my sister at Carmax and were just raving about the experience; she had the car right up until she had to sell it because she was moving to South Korea, so I guess it worked out for them. Anyway, they took me to the same store on July 4, 2007, and I found the perfect little car: a 2005 Saturn Ion that I named Izzie.

To be completely honest, I loved this car. It was cheap, good on gas, small, etc., but in case you didn’t know, Saturn no longer exists. There are multiple reasons for this – the 2008 recession and GM focusing on its “core brands” are probably the two biggest issues – but let’s just say I probably should have been more concerned that the majority of my car was made out of plastic, but hey, hindsight is 20/20 or some shit.

A mere three weeks later, I got into the car to drive to work and noticed the dash was reading “low coolant” – something along those lines, it’s been over ten years and I don’t remember, so I turned Izzie off, got on my hands and knees, and looked under the car for leaks. Of which there were none. I also didn’t smell pancakes, which is what my brain always goes to when I smell coolant. After putting my spare tire on because of course my tire was also flat, I bought some coolant and went about my day.

Flash forward less than five days, and the same damn message flashed across my dash again. I called up Carmax, and they suggested I bring it in. Stephanie, the woman who met me as I dropped the car off, asked me how long I’d had the car, and she seemed genuinely sympathetic when I told her that it hadn’t even been a month. They paid for a rental car, thankfully, even if it did end up being a PT Cruiser that smelled like it had been sitting in a landfill for seven years, but hey, it had coolant in it. Carmax had Izzie for about a week when they called me to say they had no idea what was wrong with the car but that she didn’t seem to have any leaks, so I could come pick her up whenever. I was very grateful that I worked nights, as this process would have been even more of a nightmare than it already was, but I thought, okay, cool, we’re done now surely.

About a week and a half later, the same message popped up. I can’t remember exactly what I screamed at the car, but I’m pretty sure “whore” was part of it. I checked under the hood, and sure enough, the coolant reservoir was bone dry. After I’d filled it less than three weeks prior. Instead of waiting until I’d calmed down (like I do now – I’ve learned since then), I called Carmax right the hell then, but the shop was closed and I would have to drive down the next day. Thankfully, I had my bicycle that I could ride to work, which was less than a ten-minute ride away, and after I told my boss why I was in such a shit mood, he let me run food the whole night instead of having to be friendly to people. Now, I couldn’t sleep after I left work because I didn’t leave until 4A, and it would be nearly impossible to get myself up with only three hours of sleep, so I just drove down to Carmax and waited until they opened their doors at 07:30A. I’m sure I looked a fright – all black clothing, overnight makeup, and surly expression – but I didn’t care. I was beyond annoyed.

In order to keep this from being a novel-length post, let’s just say this kept on happening. They couldn’t figure it out, or at least that was they were telling me. They put miles on it, looked for leaks, etc., but could not give me a single answer.

“Look, if it’s not leaking, where is the coolant going? Coolant heaven? Are there coolant-drinking gremlins that live in my driveway?”

That may have been an actual, exasperated quote from yours truly.

About a week and half later, the same message popped up. I leaned my head back and just screamed, “Are you FUCKING kidding me? Oh, no, you are NOT, you whore of a car.” And I checked under the hood; the coolant reservoir was BONE DRY. After I’d filled it less than three weeks prior. Instead of waiting until I calmed down, I called Carmax right the hell then, which might or might not have been the best idea, but they told me to drive down again in the morning because it was 4P and they were closed. Thankfully, I had a bicycle to ride to work, and I was less than a ten minute ride away. When I got to work that day, my boss couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t wanting to talk to my tables, but once I explained the situation, he just let me run food the whole night. I couldn’t sleep at all once I left work because, well, I couldn’t leave until 4A, and it would be silly to get only three hours of sleep. When I showed up at Carmax’s doors at 7:30A, I’m sure I looked a fright: all black clothing, overnight makeup, surly expression. I was not pleased.

In order to keep this from being a novel-length post, let’s just say that this KEPT. ON. HAPPENING. Carmax couldn’t figure it out. They even drove the car to the service manager’s house (which I later found out was just car speak for “we have no idea what’s going on so let’s put some miles on this thing to pretend like we’re doing something”) and back to Carmax, but could not give me any answers.

I had been making payments on this car for four months, and only during one of those four months was I actually driving her. Carmax eventually had me return the PT Cruiser, and my insurance helped me get a rental car (a Mazda 6, which OMG I still want one of those – so fun to drive) for the remainder of the time. I was absolutely fed up with the whole situation and was about to get the general manager involved when I magically received a call from the service manager, telling me, “Oh, it’s the head gasket. It’s blown.”

Before I could even get angry about how long it had taken them to figure that out, she offered me a new engine. And I suppose you can probably guess how this conversation went:

“Like brand new, never been used or touched by you guys?”

“It will be a used engine. It only has 21,000 miles on it, which is less than is on your engine.”

“You’re kidding, right?” My incredulous laughter could not be contained.

“Ma’am, we stand behind this engine.”

“You also stood behind the current one, and look where that got me.”

She tried to haggle with me for about thirty minutes, and my brain was nearly roasting from how angry I was. Finally, I just said, “Look, you wanna put in a new engine, be my guest. But I’ll be getting a different car.”

“I don’t have anything to do with sales.”

She could not remember anyone’s names and just told me to call the store when I asked who I needed to talk to about it, so I try to get a hold of the general manager and leave several voicemails for him. I never heard back from him and hadn’t been contacted about this “new” engine, so I went to the store and waited for the general manager to meet me in the lobby. After about thirty minutes, this older gentleman came out, who was not the general manager, as it turns out, but the something of sales or whatever, and as he was starting his spiel with me – you don’t want a new car, just let our service team do their jobs and put in a different engine – I got a call.

Remember Stephanie from the beginning of this story? She and I had become fairly good friends because I was at the store once a week at least, and she was impressed I hadn’t turned total Karen (granted, this was before Karen was a known thing). Well, she was on the other end of the call.

“Hey, it’s Stephanie! So, they tried starting up the Ion with that new engine? Yeah, so it doesn’t work. They wanted me to tell you that you can just go select a different car.”

I asked her to repeat that to the guy sitting beside me, who defeatedly sighed and showed me the lot.

Now, I was not completely happy about this. I would have rather gotten a complete refund and gone to buy a car elsewhere instead of being yoked to these assholes until I paid it off, but I was just so tired of driving a rental car, even as fun as a Mazda 6 was, that I just gave in and picked a red 2005 Chevy Aveo (oh, that one has its own story, believe me) that I named Roxy. I vowed never to shop at that place again, and I pretty much tell everyone that I meet, sometimes if they don’t even ask, to do the same. That 125 point inspection is, as far as I can tell, a simple marketing gimmick; a warped or blown head gasket should have shown up on someone’s radar, but I’m thinking they just don’t care.

on rotation

I can’t run anymore because my knees are basically shot, but I still like to get out and walk or hike, usually with this dork in tow:

His name is Nelson, and he’s one of my sister’s two rescue dogs. And he is a dork.

Anyway, now that it’s colder, there are not nearly the large numbers of people flocking to the park like there were during the summer and early fall, so in addition to making social distancing easier, I don’t have to worry about above-mentioned dork getting too excited about every dog he sees. Which also means that I can go for longer walks and plan longer playlists, one of which I will list below for your enjoyment:












I haven’t decorated a Christmas tree in years, and when I finally went back to get my Christmas decoration bin at the house in South Carolina (you know, before the bank sold it because my husband just stopped making payments without telling me), I figured I’d just hold onto them until I finally got a Christmas tree. You can imagine my excitement – I loved decorating the Christmas tree, like … LOVED – when my sister brought up her fake one. I bounced down to the basement where my big plastic tote was and rooted around to find … well, nothing. I found some small, cracked Christmas balls and some unused present boxes, still wrapped into plastic, but that was it. He’d taken the Christmas ornaments that I’d purchased, some of them before we got married, and left me with broken ones.

I sat in the basement for a second, dumbfounded, until I found the one ornament that was left – Dumbo wearing a Santa hat – and just started crying.

Christmas tree ornament - Dumbo, an elephant with very large ears, is wearing a red Santa hat with holly berry on it, is holding a red and white candy cane with his trunk, and is holding a green present with gold ribbon with his front feet. He looks very happy.

I’ve been divorced for two years now, and it seems like, somehow, he still manages to reduce me into a sobbing mess. It’s infuriating.

Anyway, my sister was lovely and insisted that I could always make new Christmas memories with new ornaments, building my collection again. And so, dammit, I did.

Welcome, my new Christmas ornaments:

A bright orange fruit (an orange, coincidentally) with a green leaf covered in green glitter.

One of my favorite things that I’ll have to find again is an orange wreath, but this little orange ornament will have to do for the time being. I think I may find some orange oil and dab a few drops on this, just for that scent.

A red fox wearing a green sweater happily rubs its chin against a snowman. This image is on a silver ball that has sparkly snowflakes sporadically in the background.

This is the first of the set that I got from West Elm (it was on sale!). I am a sucker for animals dressed like people (I got some of their plates that feature animals dressed in costumes and I love them), and this set was really up my alley.

A brown bear wearing a plaid coat and a blue floppy hat lined with fleece and holding a fishing rod. This image is on a silver ball that has sparkly snowflakes sporadically in the background.

But this is the little dude that really made me want the West Elm set: it reminded me so much of Letterkenny that it seemed inappropriate that I didn’t have it in my possession.

A brown moose wearing green snow goggles and a white ski suit with orange accents rides on a pair of skis. This image is on a silver ball that has sparkly snowflakes sporadically in the background.

I think the moose is probably my second favorite, though? I honestly don’t know. They all kind of rotate as my favorite, depending on which one I’m looking at at the time.

A raccoon wearing green ear muffs and wearing a red and white patterned scarf sits on a brown sled. This image is on a silver ball that has sparkly snowflakes sporadically in the background.

And the final of the West Elm set! I think this little dude looks happier than all the others, but I could be projecting.

A black and red plush reindeer with brown antlers and black beads for eyes wears a green scarf.

This reindeer is a bit more traditional than the other ones, and now that I’m looking at it, I can’t remember if this is one of mine or if it’s one of my sister’s? Time will tell.

a brown, very fuzzy llama wears yellow tassels and just looks frazzled

Last but definitely not least, the most frazzled looking llama I have ever seen. I just felt such a kinship with this little guy that I had to have him. And so he’s mine forever.

It’s probably for the best that all of those ornaments I had before are gone; a lot of shitty memories are locked with them, and with these, I have nothing but warm feelings with these. I don’t ever plan on having a huge collection of Christmas ornaments because they are a bitch to store, but I do want all of them to have meaning to me. And while it may not look like there’s a theme or an underlying connection that all of these have, there is.

This is my Start Over collection: Merry Christmas to Me.


OMG you guys …


I have like … four weeks to where I don’t have to do any school work. I mean, I’m gonna be doing to preliminary studying for anatomy and physiology 2 to brush up on some things, but other than that? I am going to draw! I am going to write! I am going to watch The Mandalorian! I am going to actually clean my goddamn room (that currently looks like a tornado hit it, but I’m going to partly blame Nelson for that)! I am going to bird watch! I am going to knit! Well, I am going to try to knit!

The world is my oyster. For a limited amount of time, sure, but I’m going to relish every fucking second.

Art Credit: Pre-K Pages

on rotation

Alright, I had to take a bit of a break from doing anything remotely close to using my brain (chemistry is killing me, y’all), but I am 100% still on my Mass Effect kick. How better to celebrate that than to create a playlist of all the amazing ambient music there is in that game? I can’t think of a single other way!

Anyway, it seriously does have some of the best tracks to just chill to. I already included one track on a previous on rotation …, so I’m not going to include that one on this post (although it is one of my favorite compilations, so I’m sacrificing here). FYI, though, a lot of these are at least an hour long – be prepared to chill for a while.


I cannot tell you how many times I have drifted off to sleep with the original game’s title screen playing in the background. It’s like Tibetan bowls in space or something, I can’t explain it.


The galaxy map theme is actually the first bit of music that was composed by Sam Hulik for the Mass Effect series, and it was actually just kind of an audition piece, if I remember correctly. They ultimately decided to use it in the game because it’s perfect, and I use this pretty frequently when I’m writing.


The music in the Eternity bar on Nos Astra is just the kind of music I’d want in my bar, and I’m not even remotely being sarcastic. It’s got enough to keep someone who just wants to listen to chill music entertained, but it’s not distracting enough to take away from any conversation you may want to have.


Despite the fact that the music is kind of low-key “enemies are here! keep looking for them!” in feel, the “Agebinium” track is so soothing.


So the ambient music from Alchera (where the Normandy crashed at the beginning of ME2) occasionally gets super creepy-sounding (it’s basically just reusing the track from the Collector ship), but it reminds me so much of Vangelis’ work that it doesn’t unnerve me at all.


And now we get to my favorite ME game for ambient music: Mass Effect 3. I don’t know why Bioware went full-hog here with this, but I am 100% here for it. The main title theme is just so beautiful, too. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for “Vigil’s Theme” (in the first video), but I love the work that the composer did here (not sure who it was, honestly? does anyone happen to know??).


God, this shit is just like Tibetan bowls. This is better than melatonin, y’all.


The Tuchanka ambient music sounds similar to the previous track, but it’s a bit … grittier maybe? More dissonant?


Just compare the above Tuchanka video with this one from Thessia. It’s more mysterious, refined, with a bit of spookiness to it.


I always loved Samara’s theme from Mass Effect 2, and it was so beautifully used in the ambient music on Lesuss.