The soundtrack of 43 years

When I flash back to any age over the last 43 years, the music I was listening to comes floating in like a radio station from the past. I’m in a reflective mood, okay? I still have a soft spot for all these songs.

Baby to Age 7: The early years aka the ’70s

Most of my music-listening at this age was happening inside my mom’s big silver Oldsmobile with the burgundy interior. Chance of wearing a seatbelt: 50%.

  • Sister Golden Hair Surprise by America

Ages 8 – 10: The wonder years

Rollerskating and Chinese jump rope in the driveway, Barbies in the basement and riding my purple bike with a flowered banana seat everywhere (no helmets back then). All the cool girls had a pink Huffy. I was still playing 45s which were 54 cents at Kmart. 

  • Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band
  • Magic by Olivia Newton-John
  • Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes
  • The Tide is High by Blondie

Ages 10 – 13: The tween years aka the mid-’80s

I had graduated to albums. I had Purple Rain, Men At Work, Olivia Newton-John and The Big Chill soundtrack on vinyl. Now I was riding my red 10-speed everywhere (still no helmets!), buying Sno-Cones from the Sno-Cone Boy who rode his cart around our neighborhood ringing a hand-held bell (I don’t think it rained once that summer), listening to Purple Rain endlessly, and going to the pool and then Dairy Queen with my friend Kim and her mother. I spent a lot of time in my room playing my albums and growing collection of 45s on the sweet stereo system I got for Christmas. It also had a dual cassette player. Oh snap! 

  • When Doves Cry by Prince
  • If This Is It by Huey Lewis (loved the video)
  • The Reflex by Duran Duran
  • Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • Africa by Toto
  • Heat of the Moment by Asia
  • One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head
  • Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds from the Breakfast Club soundtrack
  • Pretty In Pink and Ghost in You by Psychedelic Furs
  • Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum
  • She’s Crafty and Brass Monkey by the Beastie Boys

Ages 14 – 17:  The high school years aka the late ’80s

This was definitely a time marked by music, all on cassette, so mostly played on a Sony Walkman and then later in my Mazda 626. I was the new girl in a high school that was a quarter the size of my old one.  Wearing big hoop earrings like Jody Watley. I was discovering stuff like A Clockwork Orange, River’s Edge, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Heathers, but also watching some mainstream stuff like 90210, L.A. Law and thirtysomethibng  Got my first jobs working the register at The Book Barn and then also bussing tables at Deja Vu Cafe during the summer. Loved both those jobs. 

  • Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
  • Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • The Killing Moon, Lips Like Sugar and Bring on the Dancing Horses by Echo and the Bunnymen
  • Cuts You Up by Peter Murphy
  • Just Like Honey by Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
  • Mandinka by Sinead O’Connor
  • True Faith by New Order
  • Hazy Shade of Winter from the Less Than Zero soundtrack
  • Within Your Reach by The Replacements from the Say Anything soundtrack
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel from the Say Anything soundtrack
  • Just Can’t Get Enough and Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode
  • How Soon is Now by The Smiths
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division
  • everything on The Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum by U2

Ages 17 – 21: The college years aka the early ’90s

Even though I attended Ohio State for 4.5 years, I have more memories of working at my many part-time jobs–waiting tables at The Hickory House, 55 Grille, the Estee Lauder counter–than of being in class. Looking back, it feels like I was sleep-walking. Just busy working and figuring things out. 

  • Waiting for Somebody by The Replacements from the Singles soundtrack
  • Mr. Cab Driver and Are You Gonna Go My Way? by Lenny Kravitz
  • Greatest hits of Simon & Garfunkel

Ages 22 – 26: The L.A. years

Thousands of miles away from home, I was either listening to the greatest hits of Nina Simone in my one-room apartment in West L.A. or driving all over Los Angeles in my black Toyota Celica with the broken driver’s side door but bitchin’ sound system listening to Nick Cave. Work, gym, home. Or work, film premiere or screening, home. Or on the weekends, gym, Starbucks, mall, home. Rinse. Repeat. For four years. During this time, I started to hear about mp3s. Didn’t think they’d catch on.

  • Feeling Good, Here Comes the Sun, I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl and Sinnerman by Nina Simone
  • Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack
  • Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • I Grieve by Peter Gabriel from the City of Angels soundtrack
  • the entire Out of Sight soundtrack
  • Sara by Fleetwood Mac
  • Couldn’t Love You More by Sade

Ages 27 – 30: The coming home years aka the reckoning

Failed at 27, starting over. Reeling, I was making tons of mixed CDs using Napster. I lived at home for a year and then had a great apartment in the heart of Grandview, in the middle of cool bars and restaurants. I was back to waiting tables at a cute restaurant across the street. I’d get off around midnight, my legs sore from 8 hours of non-stop fast-walking and stress, and then stalk around my apartment drinking a cold bottle of Sierra Nevada. That beer goes straight to my legs. It’s better than Ben-Gay for sore muscles. Working at go-nowhere jobs, doing crossword puzzles and teaching Spinning classes. This was a vivid, alive time in my life. 

  • La Cienega Just Smiled by Ryan Adams
  • Essence by Lucinda Williams
  • It’s a Motherfucker by The Eels
  • California Stars by Jeff Tweedy
  • Bambaleo by the Gipsy Kings
  • King of Pain by Sting
  • Yellow by Coldplay
  • Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
  • Lots of Moby and Pete Yorn
  • Angel by Dave Matthews Band

Ages 30 – 33: New hope years

I met my husband, bought a cute bungalow in Clintonville, found a great job. I was listening to CDs in my dream car, a black VW Cabrio convertible, and on my first Apple shuffle, a thing I wore around my neck on a shoelace when I went running. I was happy.

  • Sweet Thing by Van Morrison
  • You Can Have It All by Yo La Tengo
  • Post-Paint Boy by Stephen Malkmus
  • Jesus, Etc. by Wilco
  • Lil Wallet Picture by Richard Buckner

Ages 34 – 42: Being a mom years

Music became a lot about what I was going to sing to my baby girl and then my baby boy. And maybe what I would listen to during my more infrequent but longer runs, including a marathon and a couple halfs. And now that my daughter is 8 and prefers to play DJ, it’s really all about Taylor Swift and Meaghan Trainor. The kids also love the Beastie Boys. It’s all about iTunes now. 

  • In My Life by the Beatles
  • You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King
  • The River by Joni Mitchell
  • The Greatest by R. Kelly
  • Harvest Moon by Neil Young
  • Hey Tonight by Credence Clearwater Revival (only in warm weather)
  • everything by The National
  • everything by Sturgill Simpson
  • Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn

Age 43: The here and now years

Here’s what I’ve been listening to this summer:

  • Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
  • So Much It Hurts by Nikki and the Dove
  • Play It On the Radio by Nikki and the Dove
  • Follow Me, Follow You by Genesis
  • Simple Things, Hollywood Dreams, Leaves and Waves (feat. Kacey Musgraves) by Miguel
  • Cruel Summer by Bananarama
  • Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding
  • Are You Alright? by Lucinda Williams

Scenes from Memorial Day weekend 

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I planned this post nearly three months ago. Whoopsy. We’ve been busy having a summer and it all kicked off over Memorial Day weekend. We’ve been going to the pool, making homemade pesto and reading (Emily Giffin, Lianne Moriarty, Mary Kubicka).

16 great summertime movies

The arrival of summer makes me want to do certain things. Such as wear crisp black and white, or my raggedy denim cutoffs. Listen to Niki & The Dove and Bananarama. Eat BLTs, watermelon, cheeseburgers and things with pesto. Drink red sangria. And watch the movies I consider summertime classics.

In making this list, I noticed some common themes. They often include the presence of Richard Dreyfuss, a Kenny Loggins song, Sam Neill or Laura Dern or both, people looking appropriately flushed or damp, an anxiety-ridden scene around a middle-class kitchen table, and a great soundtrack.

Here are my favorites:


You can usually find Jaws playing on some random cable channel. I like the first half of the movie best: all the beach scenes with Roy running around blowing his whistle and pissing off the mayor, and the kitchen table scenes with him looking all swarthy and worried. You just know they don’t have air conditioning.


I’ve really warmed up to this one over the years. Now, it doesn’t feel like a proper summer unless I watch it at least once.


Baby’s jean cutoffs and Keds. The soundtrack. The dancing. I carried a watermelon. The parents who just don’t understand. Come ON!


It just FEELS like summer in this movie, even though the kids are obviously in school. Running away will never make it right. But anything worth my love is worth a fight. I’m free!


Creepy hijinks on a sun-dappled sea. Foreboding music. Nicole Kidman running around with flushed cheeks. Billy Zane playing a salty dog lunatic. Sam Neill barely saying a word. I’ve never stopped loving you, Dead Calm.


Again, we have Richard Dreyfuss playing a dry-humored, know-better hero. I prefer the first half of this movie, when it’s all beige and humid and 70s-ish. And Teri Garr!


The family goes to movies. They go for ice cream. They go boating. Reminds me of my childhood (except for the scary Robert DeNiro parts).


My favorite scenes are of the caddies just hanging out as part of their summer job. “Then you don’t get no Coke.”


I remember seeing this in the theater and being so blown away. Haven’t seen in years (it’s rarely on TV). Seems to perpetually take place in summer — either idyllic balmy small-town summer or a hazy wartime oven.


Compared to most others on this list, Ruby in Paradise is small and quiet and I’ve only seen it once or twice. A Sundance Film Festival winner and one of Ashley Judd’s first films. Her breakout role maybe. She’s a self-possessed but lost soul who gets random jobs in beach junk stores and tries to figure out her life.


I consider this a late summer movie, when you’re starting to crave fall and spookiness. A cross-over pick, meaning it’s also on my list of favorite Halloween movies. If it’s on, I’m watching it.


Another small movie that for whatever reason resonated with me. Diane Lane is a repressed housewife in the 1960s who falls for cool alternative hippie Viggo in — you guessed — the summertime. Great soundtrack!




I won’t insult you.


I rediscovered the fun of Jurassic Park last summer when my kids got into it in preparation for the Chris Pratt dino-buster (which we also dug).


Cornfields. Baseball. Aliens. A foreboding family dinner around a sad looking kitchen table where everyone is on edge while eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Signs has all the elements! I have a soft spot for M. Night.

*I would also include Point Break, T2: Judgement Day, Field of Dreams and Top Gun on this list except that I pretty much watch those year-round.

And you know which summer-esque movie I’m craving? Sleeping with the Enemy. Bring it on, DirectTV! Maybe it will make next year’s list.





Last week’s dinners

I don’t know about you but I struggle to figure out what to make for dinner most nights. Back in my 20s when I only had to worry about myself, it was a rotation of buttered toast, Lean Cuisines, salad bars and take-out sushi. One of my favorite dinners when I lived in L.A. was microwaved popcorn and a container of cut-up watermelon from the grocery store. Now with an 8-year-old and 5-year-old, it’s a lot harder.

I am constantly asking other women — I guess mostly my sister — what they’re making for dinner, just to get some ideas. So in case it helps anyone, here’s what we had for dinner last week.

Pioneer Woman’s Buffalo chicken salad with Gwyneth Paltrow’s homemade blue cheese dressing (I used regular mayo instead of Veganaise and omitted the shallots b/c I didn’t have any; this is a good recipe that I use a lot)

Barrak had a thing with his friends so the kids and I went to Texas Roadhouse to support the school (10% of your bill goes to the school) and see their friends. It was the first time I’d been there and not as gross as I expected. I had a cold Stella and some BBQ ribs.

Pioneer Woman’s penne a la vodka with sautéed shrimp (I used jarred vodka sauce by Carfagna’s) and I didn’t toss the shrimp in with the pasta as you are supposed to do b/c the kids won’t eat it) and roasted asparagus (I grated parm on mine)

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Barrak and I had cold turkey & tomato sandwiches and the kids had baked chicken tenders and green beans (steamed in the bag, with butter and salt)

The kids and I went to Molly Woo’s for Chinese (the kids had white rice, noodles and edamame). It was god-awful and nearly $80. What a kick in the pants.

P.S. This is my 299th blog post!

Movies I will watch every time they’re on

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  • Panic Room
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
  • The Terminator
  • A History of Violence
  • Gravity
  • Wild
  • Gone Girl
  • The Other Woman
  • Erin Brockovich
  • Out of Sight
  • The Big Chill
  • The Departed
  • Flight Plan
  • Dead Calm
  • Footloose
  • Flashdance
  • Point of No Return
  • Jaws
  • Match Point
  • Thelma & Louise
  • The Break-up
  • Family Stone
  • The Graduate
  • Top Gun
  • A Perfect Murder