Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Moving Worries, Big & Small (Now in handy list format!)

For the most part, I am excited about moving. As I said in my last post, Seattle is the city of my heart, aside from finding and marrying my partner, I can't think of a much better thing that finding and moving to my heart city. But I am also a worrywart. A big one. Like I actually stayed awake one night worrying about what I would do about my prescriptions when I move because I go to this local independent pharmacy and I really didn't want to switch over to Walgreens even though obviously that would be the most convenient thing. I also worry about the big picture things--the stuff I will definitely be blogging about in greater depth--but I figure that getting it all down, big and small, will help me sleep better. And maybe other people who've moved will have tips. Or people who are  in the process of moving or thinking about it will feel less silly about their worries after reading mine.

So, a list of my top thirteen (because it's my favorite number--I'm sure I could think of more) moving worries, big and small.

13. There is no AT&T U-verse in Seattle.

This is definitely the most trivial of my concerns, but I literally waited years to get U-verse in my current home. Comcast/Xfinity/whatever name they are using to reinvent themselves are the devil. I was stuck with them for years for internet service. It sucked and it was overpriced. When you do a lot of work from home this is a problem. I saved money by getting the Dish Network for TV, but then they dropped AMC and there were problems because we are big Mad Men and Walking Dead Fans. Fortunately U-verse was finally available. Now we have fast internet, no customer service problems (admittedly a shocker because having AT&T for cell phone service was just as bad as Comcast), and we're also getting all kinds of channels plus a DVR plus on-demand for an incredibly low price. I have gotten used to this. I almost cried when my research showed that not only is there no AT&T U-verse in Seattle, but aside from some extremely expensive and somewhat rare Verizon service, Comcast/Xfinity is my only option. Also, I am moving in the middle of the True Blood season. This is going to be problematic, though I guess its better than fall when there are multiple must-see shows going on. Oh Seattle, you are lucky I love you more than TV.

12. We have too much stuff.

I've lived in my house for 9 years. It is a three bedroom townhouse with a finished basement--way too much space for me, but dude, I have filled it. I love stuff. I'm a pack-rat and a sentimentalist. I know have to part with a large chunk of my stuff. We already decided to ditch a bunch of furniture (hand-me-downs from my in-laws that my husband is pretty sure are from the early 90s, if not the 80s) and my elliptical (*sniff* But logically I know we will probably have no place to put it), so that we can fit everything in one 16-foot moving container (and yes there will be a post soon about the container moving decision because it was a very stressful one), but I know I need to eliminate More Things. Part of me is excited about this. I want to be zen about it, less attached, start over in a new place with nothing but the necessities. But, um, as much as I WANT that personality, that's not my personality. This is going to be hard work.

11. Finding a new dentist and doctor

I finally have two that I like and my insurance covers them. It seems like it will be a pain in the ass to do this again. On the flipside, I hope that one of us will find a job with better insurance, so then, even though it's a pain in the ass, we'll pay out of the ass a little bit less for our new dentist and doctor.

10. Finding a new hairstylist.

Yeah, that's higher on the list than health care. Maybe that makes me shallow, but I see my stylist more than my doctor or dentist. She also knows my hair better than I do, always has better ideas than me about what to do with it, and I've been seeing her so long that I get this grandfathered cheap rate that I know I'll never find elsewhere. The last time I moved out of state, I dyed my hair with box dye, trimmed my split ends, but otherwise let it grow this this:


As I'm no longer a twenty year-old goth girl this is not an option.

9. Finding a new vet and in-home cat care when we travel.

See I love my cats more than my hair! My family has used the same vet since I was a teenager. My cat Sid was neutered by this guy on our kitchen table. He and his staff also saw Sid through a harrowing few years of illness that ended last November when Sid passed. I didn't actually start planning to move until Sid passed. I wasn't going to trust anyone else with his treatment. My two other cats are young and (mostly) healthy. (Lars is a puker. Not sure what is up with that.) However, I am quite picky about their care. It will be stressful to find them a new doctor. I hope there's, like, Yelp, for vets. I also hope we make some cat-loving friends quick because otherwise I am not sure how we will ever leave Seattle when we get there. I'm pretty dependent on the fact that one of my best friends lives two blocks from me and my mom lives in the next town over and the cats (even Lars who is a scaredy-cat in addition to a puker) like them both. One of them can always come the two times a day that the cats need to eat. I know there are services for this, but will Lars eat or will he hide and let Kaspar eat all his food? Sigh.

8. Sorting out the cancellation of all the utilities here and starting all the utilities there.

I've lived in the same house for nine years. I've kind of forgotten how that works. Also I'm on this budget plan for both electric and gas here and I'm guessing I might owe some lump sum at the end, which will be... unfortunate. Because of work, I need internet right away when I get to Seattle (well, and electricity too, I suppose) and since I'm already dreading Comcast/Xfinity, I am dreading what I'm sure will be a pain in the ass set-up. Also, will they, like, install my cable even though my TV won't have arrived yet? 

7. Driving on the highway to and in Seattle.

It is approximately 2000 miles from Chicago to Seattle. We are driving. We even upgraded from my husband's tiny, sport Civic hatchback that he adored to a Honda Accord for the journey. I have no excuse not to drive this car like I did the Civic (it was stick, I conveniently never learned) and I do drive it... around town. Several years ago, I had A Traumatic Merging Incident wherein while merging from toll road to highway outside of Chicago, a semi truck just plowed into my car. Like I was stopped in traffic and it just kept going and I saw it happening, saw him smooshing my little car and I could do nothing. An anxiety developed after this incident. I managed to drive on the highway--just the short stretch of 290 between my house and my school downtown--for another year after that, but it caused me so much panic that after I graduated, I stopped. I haven't driven on a highway in 7 years except a couple of times by accident when what I thought--and Google told me--was just a street turned into a highway. The trucks freak me out. The super aggressive Chicago style of driving freaks me out. The latter, I'm telling myself will be less of a problem out west, but obviously there will be trucks and lots of them on the way there. But I can't let my husband drive the full 2000 miles. That would be shitty of me. And while I plan to rely mainly on public transportation when I get to Seattle like I do here, I know I will have to drive sometimes, and since I'm not nearly as familiar with the area, planning reliable non-highway routes is not going to be as easy. 

This, I realize, is probably a special Stephanie sort-of moving problem, and I know it can only be resolved one way: putting my big girl pants on and just dealing with it. (Dear Husband, I promise to take over the driving when we get to Wisconsin. Wisconsin is my safe place. I have lived and driven there before...)

6. 2,000 mile drive + 2 cats =

Hell. I am guessing it equals hell. I am guessing that I will experience the cat equivalent of this because we definitely do have one simple cat (Lars), though I wouldn't call the other cat, Kaspar, a "helper" (more like a smart little bastard). From our limited travels to the vet, neither of them travel well. Sid, who moved with me to Madison, Wisconsin, and back a couple of times and regularly came home on weekend visits, was the one who didn't mind riding in the car. I have an evil plan to take the cats to say goodbye to the vet on the way out of town, so they will spend maybe an hour or so (that's probably a liberal estimate) feeling comforted because we're "on our way home" from the vet, but I know that soon they will realize that "home" is now 2,000 miles away from the place they are used to, and there will be yowling and puking and peeing and pooping. I have gotten some handy tips from my former roommate who moved from Chicago to San Francisco with her cat. ("Do not, I repeat, do NOT let them out of the carrier in the car for any reason," she told me, squashing what I thought was a brilliant idea of letting them out to use a disposable litter box at rest stops. They will hide under the seats and never come out, she told me, suggesting that I put litter in a shoe box top in their carriers instead and that they probably won't use it anyway because they'll be too scared.) We are planning to either book our hotels in advance or have a list of cat-friendly chains. We also might take our vet friend up on her offer of a just-in-case tranq prescription. But other tips are welcome.

5. Our stuff will break in transit. 

Before I had more than one cat, when I moved, all of my most precious items--namely stereo, records, and guitar--went in the car and everything else in the U-Haul. Now I have two cats and far too many precious things (like lots of framed art in addition to the much larger collection of records, the way nicer record player, and the more expensive guitar). Plus we'll have to transport the essential (clothes, dishes, air mattress) that will keep us living sort of like humans while we wait the week it will take our stuff to catch up with us. So all of that stuff, that precious, precious stuff, will have to go in the container. I will have already eliminated a bunch of precious, precious stuff in order to fit everything else in the container, so the idea of a single glass getting broken is traumatic. And it will probably happen even though my husband worked at UPS for several years so I know he will pack things as securely as possible. *deep breaths*  *be zen*

4. Losing my local support network

When I moved to Madison at 17, I sobbed the second my mom and my best friend left. I wanted out of my hometown so badly that I hadn't realized until the last minute how much I would miss them. I don't spend nearly every waking second with my best friend anymore--in fact, we see each other maybe once a month because of our jobs--but I'll probably still cry over her, and I will definitely DEFINITELY cry over my mom and my sixteen year-old niece. I'm insanely close to both of them and of course there are a bunch of other friends and family members, some who I see weekly, some who I only see a few times a year, but I will miss the ease of those visits. However, I have quite a few long distance friends who I am just as close with as my local friends thanks to long phone calls, Skype, email, and Facebook. I comfort myself thinking about that and also the new local support network I will gain. One of my best friends from high school lives in Seattle and one of my best writing buds is in Portland. I have some other writing friends in Seattle, who I hope to get to know

3. We will not find a place to live.

This is something I will post about in depth in the future because it's been one of the hardest things to tackle from across the country. When I moved to Wisconsin, I just went up for a weekend and found an apartment. Of course after owning my own house for 9 years, my standards are higher and it's also been a long time since I went through this process. We're planning to spend a week in Seattle at the beginning of June, one month before our move date (as suggested by wise friends who have done this sort of thing before), to find a place. Being from Chicago, all of the neighborhoods in Seattle seem nice, even the ones people in Seattle might not think so highly of. Our only real limitation is that we need to be near a good bus line or the light rail because we only have one car (and I prefer public transportation to driving). We also hope to rent a house, part of a house, townhouse, duplex, etc instead of an apartment if we can, just since that is what we are used to. We have good credit and a lot of savings, so I'm hoping that that and our willingness to pay a few months of rent up front will not make my next concern a deal-breaker for landlords.

2. We don't have jobs yet.

Yeah, this is the thing that makes me most uncomfortable because I know that when you are in your 30s as opposed to your 20s this is not generally how people do things. You get a job and then you move. However, my husband and I have odd circumstances. He is a mechanic. That is not the kind of job where a company generally hires people from afar a long time ahead of time. He'll be looking for jobs when we go in June, but it will still be unlikely that someone will want to wait a month or so for him to start. On the plus side, he's a mechanic and he's a good and he's a hard worker, once we are there I am fully confident that he will find a job quickly. I do actually have some work that I am bringing with me. I'm teaching an online class for Mediabistro that starts in late July (and if you want to learn about writing YA, sign up for it!) and I write for Rookie, an online magazine, who I can continue to work for from anywhere. But I need additional work, another teaching job or two, or something full time. I'd like to line that up before we go, but who knows. I am reaching out to everyone in my network, though (despite the whole networking thing being very frightening to this introverted writer type) and I have to say that people within the writing community--the kidlit community especially, are so kind and helpful. Even though this is one of my biggest fears, I am truly hopeful that with their support, I can make something awesome happen.

1. Failure.

Hopeful as I am, deep down in the pit of my stomach, causing the ulcer from my teenage years to act up again, the fear of failure burns. It scratches at the back of my brain, too, keeping me from sleeping at night. I don't deal with failure well. I never have. And I did fail when I was a younger. I failed to hold my own in Madison and had to come home when I was 21. I know that I'm more mature and resourceful now. I know I have a partner who is just as determined to live this dream as I am, and that more than anything gives me the strength to face this fear. I will not fail. I cannot. I must get to my heart city and thrive.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Next Big Project: The Move to Seattle

One week ago today, I finished the first draft of The Grief Book. It's in my agent's hands now and I know there will be revisions to come before it is shopped to publishers, but then it will be time for my next project, and that will not be writing-related.

If you've been following my blog, Facebook, or Twitter, you know that I've been visiting and dreaming about moving to Seattle for a long time. Nine years this month actually. In July of this year, my husband and I are finally taking the plunge. It's beyond exciting! It's totally fucking terrifying! And being A Writer Person Who Must Document Everything, I feel the compulsion to document it. I'm doing this for me, but also because as I've worked to make this dream become a reality, I've had so many questions and worries and I'm so thankful for the advice I've gotten and the internet resources I've found (like this awesome blog), that I hoped my documentation might be useful to others looking to make their way to their dream city--or heart city, as I call Seattle--especially those dealing with any of the crazy circumstances that we are, which I will get into later on in this entry and in future entries.

I call this oft-neglected blog 'o mine Life, Words, and Rock 'n' Roll. Most of my posts are about the words--my writing process, projects, and woes, as well as author interviews. I've done series of posts on the rock 'n' roll (Music Tuesdays and Women Who Rock Wednesdays). And occasionally I get personal and do the life stuff. Over the next couple of months (if all goes as planned, I do tend to take on too many projects), my Seattle Bound series of blog posts will really bring you into my life. I hope it's vaguely interesting to my readers. I considered posting this solely on Tumblr (and if you are a Tumblr user, my new all-about-moving Tumblr is http://seattleboundwritergrl.tumblr.com/), but since that would mean this blog remaining quite neglected, I've decided to cross-post. The Tumblr will probably have additional Seattle-y things on it if you are interested (and if I do a better job than I have with my Muses tumblr and my Bartending tumblr ).

Anyway, I will start by answering the question that I get the most when I tell people that I was dreaming of/am now planning to move to Seattle. Why? This is almost always followed up with some sort of comment about the rain, either that I must like it or that the question-asker could not stand it.

The short answer is, "Seattle is the city of my heart. I've loved cities--New Orleans and Los Angeles, for example--but I've never gone some place and thought, I belong here until my first visit to Seattle."

This answer usually gets funny looks from people who've either never thought too hard about feeling like they "fit" where they live or loving a place like a person. If I don't think like someone will get it, I often just give them the more simplified "because I love it." But now I will elaborate the way I have been to my husband, my best friends, and my family for too many years.

As a writer, I think about place a lot. I worked very hard to develop the fictional place of Carlisle, Wisconsin in my first book, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, and capture the Oak Park, Illinois that I grew up in in my second book, Ballads of Suburbia. I love stories with a deep connection to their environment--my all-time favorite YA book Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block for example. The way Weetzie's Los Angeles is painted in those opening pages.... *sigh* When I read that book in high school, I was jealous of Weetize for many reasons--she had great style, an amazing makeshift family, a freakin' lamp with a genie in it, and above all else, she loved the place where she lived. It was a part of her. It was her heart.

I'd never felt like that. My family moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, when I was eight. My younger brother had a strong attachment to our original hometown and would go back there for college and law school. I liked St. Louis, but I didn't feel particularly connected to it. I hated Oak Park. I'd never felt so out of place in my life. Being bullied in grade school and junior high didn't particularly help, but even when I found my own group of friends in high school, I still ached to get out. I graduated high school a semester early and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. That was my almost-heart city. I will always have a special love for it because it was the place I found freedom and started to find myself. I was more attached to it than any place I lived, but I still didn't feel  that Weetzie-L.A.-level of connection. Also, before I could really find myself there, I started to lose myself. I was in an unhealthy relationship, drinking heavily, I'd dropped out of college and was going nowhere fast. So, at 21, I went home to Oak Park, to live with my mom and get back on my feet while enrolling at Columbia College Chicago. I ended up getting both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Columbia and because of that and other reasons that I detail in this Rookie essay about my relationship with the suburbs, stuck around and bought a house in another Chicago suburb, Forest Park in 2004, when I was 24.

I didn't want to stay in Chicago. I've never been particularly fond of it. But my school was here. My family was here. And I'd resigned myself to thinking it was my place even though I didn't have the feelings for it that Weetzie had for L.A. That was a fictional story, after all. Maybe those kind of feelings didn't exist in real life. And then, six weeks before I closed on my house in Forest Park, I went to Seattle.

The reason for my first trip to Seattle was equal parts dorky and incredibly personal. Music is a huge part of my life, probably about the same size as writing since it is what inspires me most. And my biggest inspiration of all was Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. I discovered them in junior high, while being bullied, while feeling like a freak who didn't deserve a voice. But then there was Kurt, also a freak and an outcast, and in the early 90s, his was one of the loudest voices in the world. Nirvana's music helped me break out of my shell and become an artist. I was fourteen years old when Kurt Cobain killed himself. It was totally devastating because I related to and admired him so much. In some ways, it marked the end of my innocence. After Kurt Cobain's death, I discovered drugs and sex and sex with the wrong people. I was depressed. I was abused. It was an ugly, ugly time.

But I still loved his music and I loved talking to other people who loved his music. I met two girls online, one from Denver and one from St. Louis, who loved the music the way I did, who in April of 2004, ten years after Kurt's death wanted to pay their respects like I did. When Kurt died, I planted myself in front of my TV and watch peopled gather in the Seattle Center and the small park next to his house in Seattle. I wanted to be there. I seriously considered running away, but I didn't. Taking the trip ten years later seemed like a fitting tribute as well as a way to give myself closure. I was 24, about to buy a house. I wanted to say goodbye to that fucked-up teenage girl I'd been in the years right after Kurt died.

Though I was a Nirvana geek and a music geek in general who loved a lot of the Seattle area bands (I did almost go to Evergreen State in Olympia because of my connection to the Riot Grrrl movement), I didn't see Seattle as some sort of Mecca like some of my friends in high school and in the online music community did. It was just a place. I was going there to honor the man who'd been a huge artistic influence on me, to have closure with my teenage self, and mainly because it was spring break, and as a college kid hanging out with my internet friends in a hostel seemed like a fun way to spend it. I did do and enjoy all of those things. I even documented the tribute/closure thing in this essay on Fresh Yarn. But something else happened, too. Something I had not expected at all. And it happened in the course of an hour.

I got off the plane, met up with my friends and we went outside to find the bus that would take us downtown to our hostel. The smell of the air was so fresh and clean. Rain, the woods, the green, green earth even though I though I was standing outside of an airport on a sunny day. Then, once on the bus, my friends talked and I just stared. All that green. All those trees. The mountains in the distance. The water and this:

I could feel it in my heart before we even reached downtown: I was home. The home I'd stopped believing I'd find. My version of Weetzie's pink-smog-drenched, glittery Los Angeles was this cloudy, gray and green-green-green paradise. I felt even more sure of it as I walked from 3rd and University to First and Union, down an insane set of steps to our hostel, and from there to what would become my first and final destination on each of the ten trips I've taken to Seattle since 2004:

I spent ten days wandering the streets with my friends. We stayed downtown, but also went to Capitol Hill, Belltown, Queen Anne, the U-District and of course Madrona, since Viretta Park was an essential part of the tribute portion of the trip. We only rented a car to drive around outside of the city, but in Seattle itself, we walked and took the bus everywhere. I was more aware of my surroundings than I'd ever been, wanting to take all of it in. It only rained on one day, which I knew was rare for April, but I already had plans to go back and experience more of the city, preferably on gray and drizzly days because as I tell all the people who ask me my feelings on rain, "I like it. I always have, except for crazy, scary thunderstorms and tornadoes. And I much, much prefer cold and rainy to snow in the winter."

I cried in the airport bathroom when I had to leave, but I went home to Chicago. I closed on that house in Forest Park because I thought I had to. My boyfriend was there and he'd made it clear that he'd never leave the Midwest. I was still in grad school. And maybe, maybe it was fluke. Maybe it was just a vacation I'd really needed and really enjoyed.

But I missed Seattle like a person. I started watching a certain soapy hospital drama just for the stock footage of the Space Needle, for a peek at Puget Sound. I planned my next trip with my Denver friend, who understood my feelings for the city. We went back again in April, experiencing more proper rain and gray that time, exploring more neighborhoods and places: Fremont and Gasworks Park, Alki Beach and West Seattle, Magnuson Park to the Northeast. We got drenched. We got cranky after losing sleep at our much shittier hostel. But I was still in love. It made sense in a lot of ways, why I fit there. When I talked to my Madison friends who'd been, they said it's like a bigger Madison. The people are laid back, and even though I've heard people talk about the "Seattle Freeze," my friend and I never had trouble making new friends--chatting with random people on the bus, being invited to a concert on the street. And, the food! For most folks it's the seafood, but as a vegan whose been stuck primarily in the Midwest, it was paradise. Pizza Pi in the U-District with vegan pizza; Bamboo Garden in Queen Anne with its fake meat everything; Plum Bistro in Capitol Hill with its exquisite yet affordable gourmet cuisine; Highline also in Capitol Hill, which not only had vegan bar food, but homemade infusions of vodka that this experienced bartender adored; Cafe Flora in Madison Valley for brunch, Georgetown Liquor Company with its sandwiches with sci-fi inspired names that made my geeky heart sing. I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting, but that is just my list of must-eats every time I'm there.

I've visited every year since 2004. In 2005 and 2011, I even went twice. I've been in the spring and the fall. I've gone for New Year's to experience those gray, frozen winter days, and in July and August so I could take the water taxi to Alki Beach and take a swim in the saltwater Colman Pool. I've basked in the sun in Golden Gardens Park and hiked through Discovery Park in the rain. I add a new neighborhood or place to explore every time I travel--Georgetown, Ballard, the Washington Park Arboretum, and the Japanese Garden. I spend as much time as I can by the water. I'm a Cancer girl, so having water on three sides makes me happier than I can express.

Every time I came home to Chicago, it seemed gray, and not pretty rainy gray, just dreary and most definitely flat. Every winter seemed to be colder, snowier. There were too many of those awful thunderstorms that scare the crap out of me. I was more and more miserable, more and more uninspired.

In addition to writing books and essays and teaching writing, I bartend. That's my main source of income here, though it wasn't supposed to be. That was supposed to be a temporary job until I found my niche creatively and found more artistic and fulfilling work--the kind of work that seems more plentiful in a such a creative and literary city like Seattle.

The idea of moving all the way across the country without knowing exactly what I would do there--the logistics alone of a cross-country move with two cats and a husband, out of a house I've lived in with too much stuff for too many years, have always held me back. I've spent years kicking myself for not taking the leap when I was 24, when it was still acceptable to take such daring leaps because you have time to fix it if you fuck up. But I can't kick myself, staying in Chicago at 24 meant finishing my MFA. It meant getting out of the unhealthy relationship I was in and meeting and ultimately marrying my real life partner. Fortunately because he is my true partner, because he gives me strength and feeds my dreams and is willing to take risks and adventures with me, he has agreed that it's time to take the leap, to go to the city of my heart and make our home there.

The plan as of now is to depart on July 2nd, to drive across the country in our Honda Accord with two cats in the back. I'm still terrified of the logistics, still terrified that I'm risking everything--our savings, our careers--for this dream. But I'm also excited about the adventure, the new challenges we will face. I know this post, explaining the why, which I probably still didn't do fully, was long, and I thank you for bearing with me. I don't expect all of the how posts, the specifics of those challenges, those fears that come with moving across the country will be nearly as long as this. But, to talk about where I'm headed, I had to explain where I was coming from. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Songs of The Grief Book

At three in the morning yesterday... err, today, I sent off a draft of my latest YA novel to my agent. We'll call it The Grief Book for now since that is how I operate--no real titles, just vague descriptions--when talking about book that are not yet published in public. It's a contemporary YA about girl who's lost her older brother, and while not really coping with that, ends up in an emotionally abusive relationship. I've been working on it since August. I've been completely immersed in getting it finished for the past couple weeks. It's been practically all I thought about, so I almost don't know what to do with myself now. I'm still just living it, in my head, and especially, as usual through music.

For a long time I couldn't write while listening to music. I would create playlists of songs that reminded me of the story that I would listen when do everything but writing to keep me inspired, but while I was typing, especially drafting, my office remained silent. That started to change last year with the (abandoned for now, but being rethought) Modern Myth YA, and when I started working on The Grief Book, I realized I needed a certain sound and I needed it on repeat while working. Those bands have shifted and changed from the beginning to the end (because you do get sick of listening to the same thing day in and day out, no matter how much you love it) and my playlist for this book is a couple of scattered songs mixed with full albums and sometimes entire catalogs of certain bands. There's over a hundred songs on it.... and I still think I listened to it at least twice yesterday.

Anyway since that music still feels like MY SOUL right now because this book is still MY SOUL, I thought I'd share some of it via this YouTube playlist. 

It's pretty much in the order that I discovered that I needed the songs/bands as my muse. The two Hole songs have been with me since I started this project and so has the Dinosaur Jr. song. They were the first band I was inspired to listen to over and over again while writing. Green Mind, Where You Been, and Without a Sound are all on the playlist in full.

I added Farewell Continental to my list of inspirations pretty early on, too, and "New Tile Floor" especially speaks to the story/characters. The Wheels are a local band whose whole EP is on my playlist, but "Front Porch" is the song I listen to most.  I have a character named Riley and one named Justin and the songs with their names in suit them or their story arc in a way. The first Sunny Day Real Estate album is on the playlist mostly in full, but "In Circles," is totally a theme song. "Reach for the Sky" and "Blackbird" both figure into the story directly. "Try" could be a theme song for my main character, Meredith, and "What Sarah Said" pretty much sums up the worst day of her life, and "One Last Time" by Veruca Salt (which I sadly couldn't find a full version of on YouTube) is telling of her relationship. As for "Say Hello to Heaven," well, it is The Grief Book.

In terms of the other bands whose albums appear in full on my personal playlist, when I needed to go beyond Dinosaur Jr., I turned to Hum, a favorite from my high school years, whose music and lyrics work as well as Dinosaur setting the mood for this story. The Soulsavers were my biggest discovery during the writing of this book. My friend Jenny introduced me to them at the end of January and I pretty much listened to their albums "Broken" and "It's Not How Far You Fall, It's How You Land" on repeat for the past two months while shaping the last part of the book. When I needed a break from that, and was craving a female voice, I realized Mazzy Star was perfect.

So there it is, the new book in songs.

And now to take a week or two off while my agent reads it. Well, now to TRY to take a week off from it mentally.