Tag Archives: music

Hey, Remember That Time I Casually Mentioned Breastfeeding to My Spirit Animal?


It’s been over two years since Emily weaned. I don’t write about breastfeeding or nursing anymore, unless it is in response to a comment on my nipple trauma post, still my most popular post on this blog.

It gratifies me to know I’ve left even a tiny mark on the world of breastfeeding health and lactivism.

I miss nursing, but I don’t really feel the urge to write about it anymore.  And unless I am doling out obnoxiously unsolicited advice to a new mom, I rarely talk about it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Since I nursed Emily until she was a little past four, when she naturally weaned herself, she remembers her time at the breast.  She occasionally mentions it to me.  She reminisces, and even wishes she could still be a cozy little nursling.

It is also gratifying to know my daughter has happy, safe, sweet memories of nursing and will hopefully grow up with positive attitudes about breastfeeding.

But I digress. . .

What I really wanted to tell you about was meeting my all time musical idol a few months back.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Regina Spektor fan.  My obsession for her cannot be stifled.

Regina is a Russian immigrant who came here as a child to escape religious persecution for being Jewish.  She is a classically trained pianist who writes insanely creative songs in the indie-anti-folk-alternative genre.

You might know her as the singer who wrote and performed the Orange is the New Black theme song.  She also recently did a cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps for the animated movie, Kubo and the Two Strings.

Her presence in the world brings me joy and hope.  It’s no hyperbole to say her music changed my life.  It may have even altered my DNA at a molecular level.

Regina toured this past year, and I got to see her three times.  THREE TIMES you guys!!!

I saw her in my home state, and in New York City at Radio City Music Hall in March. Then I got to see her in November in Northampton, MA. Through a confluence of rare and unusual events, a friend managed to obtain  backstage passes to meet Ms. Spektor after the show in Northampton.

OMGOMGOMG!!!  I know, right!!!

It was going to be really hard to play it cool, but that was the plan.  The entire show was like an out of body experience, and she sang Loveology and Pound of Flesh and Flyin‘ and a bunch of other oldies I’d never heard live before.

Oh, and also my friend and I were in the second row, just so, so, so close to this woman who has more artistic energy in a fingernail clipping than most people can imagine in their entire lifetimes! The show was unreal, and even if I’d never met Regina that night, it still would have pretty much been a perfect experience.

So, we stuck our backstage passes on our lapels after the show and waited in the appointed spot for the tour manager.  There were people hanging around who didn’t have backstage passes, and they didn’t even try to hide their envy as they asked how we got “on the list”.

Finally the tour manager came to get us, and he led us down some stairs to a chamber that was all brick and basement and lacking in any glamour or glitz.  And there she was.  Regina Freaking Spektor.  My spirit animal.

She greeted us with genuine warmth and kindness that set me instantly at ease.  She was soft spoken and almost shy.  We chatted about this and that and fuck tRump!

I got to tell her how I’d seen her at RCMH and how I heard her speak about Purim and the importance of resistance and how meaningful and prescient this had been to me at the time.  I shared with her that I worked for a Jewish agency and she seemed truly delighted by this little fact about me.

While we were talking, her tour manager came up to her with a bag of lentils.  She thanked him and turned back to us.  “If you ever need to make a heat pack in a pinch,” she said. “Lentils work great!  Stick them in a sock in the microwave.”

“Rice in a sock works good too,” I added.

“Oh yeah?”

“Sure,” I offered confidently.  “Came in handy during breastfeeding.”  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was sure I’d said the most flagrantly awkward thing on the planet.  Who meets their idol and starts talking about breastfeeding?  I apologized with a little laugh.

“No!” Regina said with a pleasant and unflappable grace.  “That’s so real.  Breastfeeding is real.  I remember. . .”  Somehow we got on another subject and then she signed my poster for my daughter and me.  Love and peace and fun.

She gave us hugs and we took photos together.

The whole encounter didn’t last more than ten minutes and then my friend and I were on the road back home.

I haven’t posted here in a long while, and I haven’t posted about breastfeeding in a longer while.  It occurred to me that this was a sharable little nugget.

I’m always searching for ways to integrate all these random bits of myself; to reconcile all of the parts of who I am to make something whole and awesome.  There is me as an artist, woman, mom, wife, worker, and friend.  There is me as someone who hopes and hurts and heals and hides.  There is me as a sexual goddess being, created of life.  There is me who is very private.  There is me who is very proud and enthusiastic.

In a way, it is so totally perfect that I managed to casually weave a thread of one of my life’s greatest passions into my tiny interaction with my greatest hero.  It felt awkward and crazy and just right.  To me, that’s what my integration is all about, and it was received with gracious humor that night.


Songs I Need Some Mornings



“That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed. That I would be loved even when I am fuming. That I would be good even if I was clinging.” — Alanis Morissette.

Some mornings it just feels icky leaving the house and kids to go to work. Some mornings I just need a reminder that everything I am makes me everything I am.

Thinky Thoughts Being Thunk


I went out dancing with some friends.  We went to see a couple bands I’d never heard of who turned out to be decent ska/reggae.

All night I flashbacked to a time in my early 20s.

I’d gone to see a reggae band and some guy with dreads was teaching me how to “reggae dance.”  I was a hippie chick back then and had some flowery, flowing moves, so getting low and swaying my hips to the reggae rhythms didn’t come naturally to me.  Anyway, I think the guy just wanted to grind up against my nubile body, so I didn’t spend much time in that dance lesson with him.

It was a moment in time I didn’t even realize was taking up space in my long-term memory bank until last night.  Weird, right?  I guess music and movement has an incredibly primal ability to trigger stuff.

This deep memory hit me as I moved my body around in what might be classified as dancing, but I’m not sure.  I don’t get out that much anymore, since having kids.  It is hard to find a sitter, for one thing, and then staying out late and having a couple drinks is rarely worth the exhausting aftermath the next day.  The extent of my skankin’ these days is living room frolics to Bob Marley with my kids.  The last time I went out to hear live music (also ska, coincidentally) was about a year and a half ago.  Gasp!  I used to go out dancing at least once or twice a week before marriage and kids.  I also used to go to the gym. . . but I digress.

Sure, I am tired today, but it was worth it.  Lots of laughs were had, the cocktails flowed, and my body found its way back into the music.  It felt liberating to get a little lost doing the groove thing.

I even dressed up- something I haven’t done in ages.  I wore a “little black dress,” lacy tights, and boots.  I straightened my hair so it looked a bit longer than usual, and put on a generous amount of black eye liner and crimson lipstick.  Even my husband did a double take!  I joke with friends that I am “bringing sexy back” because I bought a few dresses.  The truth about that is now I am done whipping out my breast at all hours of the day, dresses are not a total inconvenience anymore, and they do make me feel feminine and pretty again.  For me, there is a sort of weird dichotomy in being both a mom and sexy, so integrating the two is interesting.

The highlight of my night was when one of my single friends was chatting up a young man.  He introduced himself to me and I mentioned that it was my friend’s first time hearing live ska.  The guy expressed surprise and joy that I actually knew what ska was, which I guess not too many in his generation know.  Incredulously, I told him, well I’m almost old enough to have been around since the birth of ska, so. . .  He said, “No way!  What are you like 27?”  I laughed and told him my age.  Impressed, he told me I looked great.  It was the first time I ever felt like a cougar!

You see, I’ll be 40 in about six months.  It’s got me thinking about age and life and changes.  I know it is just another day, but it seems like in this whole maiden, mother, crone continuum, 40 is kind of the gate way to crone-dom.   I only recently entered the “mother” phase of things, so I guess I am not quite ready to switch gears.  Hence my urgency to bring sexy back, to prove that I am still young at heart, vital, exciting, and fun.

It also has me doing a lot of reflecting on my life.  Memories are rising and flooding me, like the one in the club about the reggae dancing.  But some of the memories are not altogether pleasant.   Some of them have to do with poor choices I’ve made, or really bad behavior I’ve had towards others.

On one hand, I could say I spent a lot of time quite frivolously.  For example, there was a time during which I was courting four people at once, which wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that all of them were in various stages of marriage.  This kind of drama permeated my 20s.  This realization filled me with shame and anger at myself and I wonder what price karma will have me pay, or if maybe some of the other tragedies in my life were the payment already.

On the other hand, everything I have done and experienced has brought me to where I am today, so maybe my path has been exactly the path on which I’ve needed to be.  Because at the end of the day, where I am now is pretty good.  Regardless of all my struggles with career and money and parenthood, where I am is love.

It also makes me wonder what was so great about being young and screwed up and lonely, other than that body that wouldn’t quit, stamina to dance all night, and the freedom to do so?

I’m thinking of writing a novel.  But maybe that is just the midlife crisis talking.

What is a midlife crisis anyway?  I’m beginning to think that for me it is an integration of who I am now with the good pieces of who I was before.  For example, my nurturing and conservative mother-self meeting up with the colorful hippie chick with a huge heart and awesome moves on the dance floor.  My family-oriented-self getting reacquainted with the free-spirited and independent poet who could sit for hours alone in a cafe or go out to a movie all alone.

Aging seems to be this huge, hot melting pot that has colored and shaped me.  In some lights you can really see the worry around my eyes, or the laugh lines by my lips.  Tilted at the right angle, you can see the turquoise satin of poetry is still there.  If you look straight on you see that I’ve grown soft and pudgy and plain, but in the flickering light on the dance floor, there she is!  The agile kid with lithe limbs who still has reggae moves deep in her veins.

Regina Spektor, Mindfulness, and Candy Crush


If you know me at all, you know I am addicted to music.  One of my favorite musicians is a gorgeous and quirky Russian gal named Regina Spektor.  She is imaginative, whimsical, and poetic.  Most of her songs are fictional, and the lyrics are complex, so I generally have very little clue what she is singing about.  But boy do I love her anyway!

Something about her music makes me feel like I am alive and dancing in the very heart of the universe.

Regina Spektor-- musical goddess

Regina Spektor– musical goddess

She has a song that makes me think about mindfulness.  The lyrics, “It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song, it was so simple, you were always singing along. . .  You spent half of your life trying to fall behind, you’re using your headphones to drown out your mind!  It was so easy, and the words so sweet, you can’t remember, you try to move your feet. . .”

As much as I like to believe I am in the moment and mindfully aware, so often, I am seeking to fall behind and suffocate my own mind.

This week I have been playing Candy Crush Saga like a fiend.  It has gotten to the point where I don’t enjoy it anymore.  When I close my eyes, there is uncomfortable vertigo.  All I see behind my eyelids are bright, shiny pieces of candy clacking around in weird patterns.

Even when I play, I start to feel constricted and itchy from my inside out, like I am lined with fiber glass under my skin.

I’ve been using this little game to “drown out my mind.”  To some extent, it has been a helpful distraction.  If you read this post or this post, you know that it has been a stressful week.

But the fact that I am starting to dream in Candy Crush is icky.  I just don’t feel that a free iphone app should hold that kind of significance in my subconscious.  I might have to delete it from my iphone. . .

Blech- it makes me dizzy and itchy

Blech- it makes me dizzy and itchy

It makes me wonder what other things we do to distract ourselves from being aware during challenging times.

Religion.  Wine.  Sex.  Therapy.  Gossip.  TV.

It also makes me wonder what we, what I, could be doing to more productively deal with life during these stressful times.

For me, music is wonderful stress relief.  Music makes me feel connected, centered, and comforted.  So, I definitely will not be deleting Regina from my music library!  But I think being aware of how we use technology of any kind is important, because there is the tendency to use it as a crutch and then get pissy and nasty when it is not there for us to lean on.  Kind of like how I get when the Netflix is out of order.

So, tonight, I vow not to surf five TV channels while playing Candy Crush and trying to hold a conversation with my husband.

I will NOT multitask.  I will pay attention to my uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and urges as opposed to holding them underwater with both hands while whistling a happy tune and trying to tap dance.

Some of these uncomfortable feelings and urges may have to do with trying not to play Candy Crush. . .  yeah, I think I am definitely going to delete that crap off of my phone.

Of Moms, Mountains, and Music- “Small Steps”


If you read my previous post, Climbing Mt. Motherhood– My Hillary Step, you know that, as usual, I have mountains on my mind.

A musician-dude named Rob read my post and commented that he has a band called The Hillary Step.  Rob told me about a song he thought would resonate with me called “Small Steps.”  He sent the song to me via email.

Oh, little blog, we have yet to commune about my enduring love for music.

In college, I modeled for an art professor from Brown who kept a steady stream of tunes playing throughout the class.  He introduced me to Bolly Sagoo, and I introduced him to Bjork.  He taught a class in his basement where the walls were stacked with piles of his drawings, cassette tapes, and records.  The basement was musty and triggered my allergies, but I escaped in whatever he was playing and hardly noticed any discomfort.

Although my art-modeling goes back 18 years, I remember this professor say he could always justify purchasing music because of its priceless therapeutic quality.  Music is as nourishing as food.  I remember him saying this every time I spend money on music I can’t afford (itunes, anyone?).

Since then, I have been avidly collecting music of all styles.  So, the gift of a song from someone I have never met is very special.

Rob sent me a link to The Hillary Step’s website.  I encourage you to check them out either at http://www.thehillarystep.com or on itunes.  I listened to a few songs that had catchy titles- “Quietness of Love,” “Stars & Butterflies,” “Neon Road,” and “Breathe Again,” to name a few.

The Hillary Step has a crystal-clear, jammin’ melody.  Their songs are lyrical and lovely.  Rob has a tender, James Taylor-y voice.  You can imagine every girl in the room totally swooning over him as soon as he opens his mouth.

I listened to “Small Steps,” the song he sent me, about a dozen times.  Every time I listen to it, it grows on me a little more.  The refrain is, “Small steps move you, small steps over the mountain, and small steps will bring you home.”  The words are sung in a mantra-like way that does indeed resonate.

A total stranger sending me a song was an incredible kindness that got me through some moments this week.

For example, this morning I had to take my car into the shop for repairs on my breaks.  It ended up being almost twice what I expected to pay.

Not much could sugar-coat my nasty mood this week.  I’m in a grouchy, dark place, and it is taxing to move my body off the couch.  Sometimes I can redirect such a fowl humor by thinking, “well, we’ve got our health,” or by listening to the news about Syria.  That was not working for me today as I perseverated on life’s many  expenses.  But a responsible mom gets her brakes fixed, so I dropped off the car and put in my ear buds for the short walk home.

I cued up “Small Steps.”

The music was loud and I walked in time to it, through the dusting of snow we got last night, a fine, sparkly powder.  As I walked, I allowed myself to let go of some of my frustration and anger and revel in the beauty of the snow.  The music was almost hypnotic.  At about 12 degrees fahrenheit, my face and fingers froze in moments, but there was exhilaration in the cold that allowed me to imagine that I was trundling through the Himalaya.

We don’t live far from the station where I left my car; I was home in the time it took to listen to Rob’s song.

When I went back later to get my car, the mechanic informed me I will also need rear brakes in a month or so.  Through gritted teeth, I thanked him and drove away.  So, there is another expense on my horizon.  I may have to log onto itunes and buy some more music to get me through.  In the mean time, “Small Steps” will be my theme song.  I will keep putting one foot in front of another, hoping to get up and down my mountains.

Thank you, Rob, and The Hillary Step.

What songs help to keep you going?  How do you manage to get up and down your mountains, or dispel an angry mood?  Do you have any tricks that adjust your attitude during difficult times?