Party Playlist Post 4 (Or We’re ALL Hard to Love)

Guys, it’s my birthday! So this is going to be a quick post about the party playlist ‘cuz I’m rushing off to someone else’s birthday party (naturally) before I head down to the OC for a little Bob Dylan and My Morning Jacket, with a side of Wilco.

Annnnnyway, here goes today’s edition:

The Pixies’ Monkey Gone to Heaven is for Brady, my first rescue dog.

Cocker Spaniel on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Wasn’t the Bubba amazing?

It was the only song I could stand for days after he died. It’s for battling cancer, congestive heart failure, deafness, and raccoon scars but being the sweetest, gentlest little man. It’s for being the best hiker of all my dogs, despite his health struggles. It’s for that night in 2003 where his howls of distress over my sobs pulled me off the kitchen floor and out of my own wallowing. It’s for the way he always licked away my tears. It’s for the peaceful way he silently slipped away while wearing his Michigan shirt on Melissa’s birthday so many years ago. It’s for helping me grow up. For teaching me so much about love, loss, and letting go. May you forever be hiking in heaven, Monkey.

Steve Aoki’s I’m in the House is for my Boxer, Albus. It’s for crashing into my life on what would have been my Grandpa’s 88th birthday and shaking everything up. It’s for breaking up the warring Spaniel sisters and setting us all free. It’s for helping me quit a job that was killing me. It’s for the people I’ve met while trying to wear him out on walks. It’s for the happiness he brings every day with his big paws and his boundless enthusiasm. It’s for the way he flops down in exhaustion long before his little sister. It’s for the way his strong, tough exterior belies such a gentle little boy underneath. It’s for letting me use him as a pillow while we’re watching TV. It’s for reminding me that things like Ray Bans don’t really matter that much anyway….

You ARE in the Muthaf*&#ing house, Bus.

The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What you Want is for my Cocker Spaniel, Woodley. It’s for how right her trainer was when he said, “God is trying to teach you something with these dogs.” It’s for the way she finally let me in after weeks of being aloof. It’s for the ways she has grown stronger and saner without her sister. It’s for being the dog I always knew she was inside and for how far we’ve come since she came into my life. It’s for the way she snuggles up against my back. It’s for the way she loves carrots and big sticks of celery. It’s for loving Albus immediately even though she despises almost every other dog. It’s for the way she tries to defend him from dogs five times her size. It’s for the way I can’t help laughing that she absolutely defines the word “bitch” in all the best ways. And maybe most of all? It’s for truly teaching me that you can’t always get what you want, but you really do get what you need.

Lee Brice’s Hard to Love is for all the friends, family, and strangers who have confided so much in me. Your stories have shown me that we’re ALL hard to love and that’s what makes it so magical when someone knows it all and still loves us anyway.


Birthday Party Playlist (Or Sorry for Partying)

A few weeks ago I was on a mission to appreciate my neighborhood. I was trying to make peace with living somewhere I wanted to escape so I started wandering the streets in search of inspiration. A few blocks from my place, I came across this carved into the sidewalk.

Hollywood sidewalk on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Today, it sort of seems fitting somehow.

See, my birthday is Saturday…. and today is the 10-year anniversary of Kristin Connor’s death.

I had only met Kristin a few months before we lost her, but time doesn’t always feel relevant in the face of loss. Kristin was our friend Angela’s best friend from high school. She he had recently relocated to LA from Michigan, and we welcomed her into our displaced Midwestern family immediately. There was just something about Kristin… I can’t really describe it. She was warm. She was real. And I liked her right away. Talking to her was easy, and it was almost as if I had known her for years.

Two days before my birthday, she was killed in a car accident.

The summer of 2003 was maybe the best and worst of my life for so many reasons. And my birthday party that year was a blowout never to be forgotten.

We were celebrating. We were mourning. And OMIGOD, we were annoying the neighbors.

That day we were coming together — and we were saying goodbye. It was my birthday party.  It was Angela’s going away party.

And maybe most of all?

It was Kristin Connor’s wake.

Partiers on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Part of the 17th Street Birthday Party Crew. Santa Monica, cira 2003.

So today as I think about the friend our family lost, I want to tell a whole bunch of Michigan kids how much they mean to me.

See, it struck me as I was perfecting the playlist for my upcoming birthday party that so many of the songs on it reminded me of members of my Michigan crew. Many of them will be at my (much more civilized) birthday this year. Many will not.

But either way?

I’m thankful for them and maybe I don’t really say it enough.

So, here it goes:

Chamillionaire’s Ridin’ is for Melissa. It reminds me of the days we were rolling through Hollywood in her dirty Volvo while painting our toenails on the dashboard. Melissa has been by my side for so many birthdays, so many movie premieres… and so many goodbyes. Together we’ve mourned her Beagle, my first Spaniel, our grandfathers, my grandmother, our mentor, my cousin, Kristin Connors, and her father. We’ve laughed through the tears and we’ve danced through the pain — sometimes at Barney’s Beanery and The Bungalow — where they don’t even have dance floors.

Lyke Li’s Little Bit is for Nicole. She put it on one of the many amazing mixes she has made me over the years. It’s for all the dinner parties we’ve thrown together. For breaking into my apartment to do my dishes after I sliced my thumb instead of an eggplant. For knowing how to make me feel so special on my birthday. For her generous heart — and her kind spirit.

Juvenile’s Back that Azz Up is for my panda, Sarah. It reminds me of our last summer in Ann Arbor. We used to open the sunroof of her Explorer and absolutely blast the song while driving past civilized restaurants on Main Street during dinner hour. This song is for standing by my side at my grandfather’s funeral. For asking me to be in her wedding. For helping me out of a pair of capris with a broken zipper in a TJ Maxx dressing room. For giving me perspective on what really matters. And for years of love, laughter, and loyalty.

Kesha’s Tik Tok is for Kelley. We put it on our Camarillo Road Trip Playlist and listened to it A LOT while we were stuck in gridlock and she was carsick beyond belief. It’s for the endless talk that first night we met in the Pi Phi basement — the talk that led to so many more. It’s for being my senior spring break travel partner. For skipping chapter to watch Monty Python with me. For asking me to be her only Michigan bridesmaid. And For standing by my side for 16 years… no matter what.

Lee Brice’s Friends We Won’t Forget is for Anna. It’s for sharing her story and really, really listening to mine. It’s for pushing me to do a few more push ups. For making me change my make up, my clothes, and my hair. For our dinner parties. For reminding me how much I love country music. And for just knowing when I need a hug.

Britney’s Toxic is for Ryan. It’s for all the good talks we had about our grandpas — and for taking care of me the day after I lost mine. For teaching me about birdies, eagles, and albatrosses. For legal services rendered. And for knowing I needed to hear a little Britney on a bad day at the office.

Westside Connection’s Lights Out  is for Josh. It brings me back to the days of our endless wandering through the aisles of Amoeba Records. The days when he’d drive across LA at midnight just to watch Diggstown with me. The days of batting cages and Brett Ratner’s driver incessantly interrupting our Indian dinners. It’s for always stepping up — even when it was risky.

Huey Lewis and the News’ Do You Believe in Love is for Michael and Jody. It’s for all the support, advice, and sous chef work over the years. It’s for making me believe everything works out for the best. For showing me what it’s like to be a really great team. For including me in the Cycle for Survival in memory of Jody’s mom. And for making me a part of their family every Christmas. I’m proud to share a birthday with their son Connor who will turn one on Saturday.

JT’s SexyBack is for Katy who also celebrates a birthday this Saturday and loves her a little JT. It’s for getting me out of my house while I was helplessly waiting for my grandpa to die. It’s for finding a new home for my dog. For making our birthday special every year. For listening. And for pushing me to do the tough stuff.

Yolanda Be Cool versus DCup’s We No Speak No Americano is for Manning who played it in the car after my birthday in the ‘bu — and before he really became my friend. It’s for introducing me to Anna… and making sure we hung out. It’s for making me like lamb, calling me out on the mayonnaise to yolk ratio in my deviled eggs, and for making me laugh while we were covered in gum. It’s for always showing up when and where he said he would. And it’s for making the tough talks somehow seem easy.

Soulja Boy’s Kiss Me Through the Phone is for Angela who lost the most on August 1. The song will forever remind me of her husband singing it to her in the streets of Hollywood. It’s for the great talks we’ve had about life, death, and design. It’s for being one of the few people on the planet who understands why I come so unraveled over college football. And it’s for introducing me to Kristin.

David Guetta’s Memories is for Kristin Connors herself. It just seems fitting.

And The Victors is for everyone.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not sorry for partying. I am a little sorry about all that Lil’ Jon we played, but I will never apologize for cutting loose with some of the best people I know. I can’t wait to do it again soon.