A Sprinkle of Santo Domingo

I have just come back from two weeks in the Dominican Republic, spending half the time catching bats in tucked-away caves and half the time meandering around Santo Domingo. Nearly 100% of the time I had dodgy WIFI and have been unable to keep tabs on the trip. However, I must briefly comment that the most fantastic feature of this country is the innate appreciation for art. It is a tangible phenomenon in every crevice of this city.

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Stay tuned.

new year in new places

Happy new year! Over the years I have finally come to the realization that New Year’s Eve is not really that great and am no longer spending any money on a shiny new outfit for it. It seems to be the case (for myself, at least) that the less money I spend on the night and the less time I spend thinking about where you will be when the ball drops, the more enjoyable the experience. This year, I happened to celebrate ringing in 2014 six hours earlier than everyone back in New York in Rehovot, Israel drinking Goldstar and wearing jeans and my motorobike t-shirt. To say that I wouldn’t have it any other way would be stretching it, as I was celebrating with none of lover and loves from home, but it certainly was a good time celebrating with new people in new places.

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new year’s day in a grapefruit orchard in rehovot, israel

I will post soon about Rehovot but I must dedicate this post to new year’s resolutions. Being that it is 5 days after the new year and I am in extreme procrastination mode writing my grant, I can’t say that I am off to a splendid start, but what’s that saying? Better late than never? As reflect a little bit on how I have changed over the last year, I can say that in January 2013 I was wallowing mess of singleness, living under the delusion that I could manage my time well, and continuously scheming of clever ways to get off Long Island and see exotic places again–happy, nonetheless. Well, I still am absolutely horrid at managing my time but I seem to have pulled it together a bit and found a lover that won’t drive me crazy and went on an incredible journey with my friend Rocio throughout Utah and Arizona. I also managed to weasel my way into a trip to Costa Rica with my adviser to collect bats in which I have completely refocused my life work to study their sense of smell. And it is awesome.

Anyways, my resolutions. In 2014, I will:

(1) Never go three days without running and always run on a Monday. I am hoping this prevents and lulls and excuses.  And while I’m at it: Log my runs. A habit I had always thought about doing, but never actually committed to doing it.

(2) Sit up straight. My posture is horrendous and will often catch myself in photos slouched over and standing awkwardly in my single-footed pigeon-toed position and as I turn 25, it is about time this goes. I would like to say something like do yoga three times a week to do this, but I can’t say I actually will commit to this. However, I will say that I will do posture promoting yoga in order to accomplish this.

(3) Learn to do one pull-up. For the love of God, it is just one pull-up.

(4) Publish three papers. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and I have none to show for myself for 2013. Sigh.  It’s a new year!

(5) Blog mindfully. The once-every-three month thing is pretty lame, I know. Although I would like to do it more often, what I think I actually am referring to is my tone.  Without trying to state my opinion one way or the other about this, the viral post “23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged at 23” had many, many people offset by the content. I myself found the post somewhat entertaining and I do have enormous amounts of respect for women who go out on their own, especially in regards to travel. However, I did find parts of the post rather obnoxious at times with the whole “I am a woman and travel by myself to exotic places and look good doing it” attitude. Yet, I couldn’t help but think that I can sometimes sounds like that and I don’t think I want to anymore. I just read my insanely respectable cousin’s blog who is volunteering in San Diego living on $100 a month and I felt so much more inspired and refreshed.

(6) In relation to the previous point: volunteer one time this year. I know, one time. That is so pathetic. And yet last year I did not give my time to anyone else unless I got something back in return. As I trudge along in my PhD, I feel extremely self-fulfilled by my research. I find the olfactory system of bats to be the most interesting thing in the entire world at the moment and do not feel the need to justify what I do on any other level. Still, the world sucks. And as much as I can try to convince people that bats and the sense of smell are important to the betterment of the world, I think can still find some time to directly help somebody else.

(7) Read one book a month. With limited space, limited funds, and limited desire to ever move all of my books into a new apartment again, I hereby am declaring the rule that I can no longer buy another book. I either have to read one I already have or finally get my freaking library card and check it out.

(8) Wake up before 7:45AM every day of the week. I used to be up with the sun last spring and would run everyday. What happened to that girl? Time to find her again.

(9) Drink more water. I virtually drink none until I find myself parched beyond belief until I knock everything out of my way to search for the nearest glass to fill and chug and then repeat the filling and chugging three times. Life doesn’t need to be that painful.

Enough for now. We’ll see how I manage with that on my plate. Cheers to all the new people and new places and new ideas and new adventures in 2014!

mike doughty does soul coughing and it is kind of the most awesome thing ever

Whew! There have been so many recent angry rant posts. Time for something refreshing that I have been brewing together for quite some time now.

Okay, so I am a huge, huge, huge Mike Doughty fan. I live a delusional, romantic lifestyle in which I claim that any moment of my life could be expressed through one of his lyrics. He’s the coolest, trust me on that one.

So on July 31st, I went to this:

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If you are unfamiliar with Mike Doughty’s music, it may prove difficult to convince you that this was a HUGE deal. One, it is incredibly awesome to do a double show. Second, he performed Soul Coughing songs for the first time live in over a decade. Yeah, Soul Coughing? Remember this video? I tend to be a bigger fan of Doughty’s solo albums, but I was in love with the deep bass riffs on many of the Soul Coughing songs (okay, and “Circles” is just plain catchy). So a reinterpretation of Soul Coughing songs 10 years later is cool, but I didn’t realize how incredibly brave this reinterpretation actually turned out to be for Doughty. I had somewhat recently finally came around to reading his autobiography The Book of Drugs. Talk about a journey of emotions. Damn. After reading the book, I felt devastatingly guilty for liking any Soul Coughing song. The destructive and manipulative relationships of the band members that led Doughty down a dark path carved an enormous sort of friction towards any feeling I had towards all of this music I had really liked. Never had I had such a sour taste in my mouth after reading a book. All I wanted to do was give Mike Doughty a hug.

So when it was announced that MD was to reinterpret Soul Coughing songs, I was floored. But also incredibly pumped. After all, they were actually his own songs that he had written. Every single one of them. And now he was to redo them exactly how he wanted them to be heard. And I was to hear them live for the first time. In NYC. Holy cow.

To summarize the night, I will just post the notes regarding the setlist that I took on Evernote during the show:

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.43.07 PMScreen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.44.14 PMI should probably clarify several things: [1] I think one is able to understand most song notes until “josh” which doesn’t happen to be a song at all but actually was a break in the show in which “josh” paid enough money on PledgeMusic to get the chance to smash one of MD’s guitars onstage. So, that happened. [2] “I’m dying” refers to the song, “Where have you gone?” as I think I was literally dying from happiness to be able to hear this song live. [3] “well….f*ckkkk” I think refers to a literal quote by MD before he played the final encore song. Things were getting a bit hazy at that time though.

The thing about having a show at City Winery (especially a double show) is that the audience is seated the entire time with nothing to do but sit back, enjoy the show, and guzzle wine at a rate one never thought possible (not that this is a bad thing at all). This is reflected in the progressive uninterpretability of my notes as the night unfurls.

The other thing that results from having a double show at City Winery is that pretty much only really diehard fans are sticking around for the second show. However, by this time everyone is at least on their second bottle of wine and passive aggressively showing off how much well they know the lyrics to “Madeline” or trying to think of the most obscure Soul Coughing song to shout out and request. Finally, all that remains after the second show is the same amount of diehard fans, except now they are all hiccuping and discussing how incredible the last four hours of their life were. Too much wine also results in people totally freaking out when MD leaves the venue pretty much screaming and chasing him back to his humble Brooklyn abode. So, I almost met Mike Doughty.

Last week, the polished album finally arrived and it has far exceeded my expectations. I was considering going through each song discussing thoughts regarding the SC version v. the MD version, but I’ll spare you and let you find out for yourself. Everything I loved is still there: the bass, the samples…but they are so well-crafted and detailed that the major difference is that each piece is how it is meant to be heard. The most important thing is the accomplishment of making this record and being happy while doing it.

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Must-hears: “True Dreams of Wichita” and “The Idiot Kings” (To me, “Circles” is still “Circles” :P)