Saturday, May 29, 2010

Carolyn Stories

I lost my best friend on May 29, 2003. The position, for all intents and purposes, remains unfilled.

This is Carolyn. She was almost 23. She was beautiful, sweet, and kicked serious ass:

Carolyn and I met in junior high. Here, she and Kyra are re-enacting the movie poster of the Charlie Sheen-Emilio Estevez opus, Men at Work while on vacation in Rehobeth Beach. This behavior is kind of why we became friends.

On paper, Carolyn and I didn't make much sense. I was a bookish, Type-A, spiritually ambiguous, painfully shy nerd who (at the time) knew nothing about music. She was a bubbly, blond, devout Christian who loved grunge and classic rock, and who struggled with academics, even though she was actually one of the wisest and most intuitive people I ever met.

But Carolyn had a unique, undeniable energy that just made her fun to be around. Which sounds like a cliche thing to say about someone who's died, but I think those on Team 215 who had the privilege of knowing her will back me up on that.

Carolyn had a way of turning mundane suburban exploits into adventures that we talked about years after the fact. And she had a way of articulating things that made my head explode. Everyone in my crew has a Carolyn Story, and can call up a bunch of Carolynisms.

She loved music, and loved to dance. She helped me out in both departments a lot. Her initial intervention: "Robyn. I love you. But you dance like a praying mantis about to eat its mate." This is what friends tell you. When there's no boys around.

She's also responsible for dragging me -- dragging me -- to my first U2 show, because I was reluctant to spend $80 to see "some old-man band." She insisted on going to the Elevation Tour, and it blew my mind, kick-started my musical awakening, sparked my interest in international issues, and eventually led me to abandon the journalism career path to move to DC and start doing PR for nonprofits. Arguably, all her fault. Carolyn's take: "Meh. Zoo TV was better."

And holy crap, did she love amusement parks. If there was a carnival in town, we were going to it and riding every ride until someone puked.

Dorney Park was the ultimate natural habitat. Because it also had a water park. I mean, come ON.

She also accompanied me and my pals Kyra, Melissa, and Meredith to our first unsupervised trip to New York in 1997. We thought we were serious hot stuff. We went to Planet Hollywood, you guys. PLANET HOLLYWOOD.

We also really liked haunted hayrides. Long after we were the oldest ones there without parents. It was just fun. Even that one time when the grim reaper surprised me and I accidentally kicked him in the nuts. Actually, especially that time.

She also helped facilitate my being friends with boys. This was invaluable.

And not taking yourself too seriously. I still miss her guidance there.

We actually became closer after graduation, after I moved to New York. Whenever I came home, she would be the first person I'd call, and I hosted her in my dorm a lot, once I figured out there was more to NYC than Planet Hollywood.

Then, one year, Carolyn got sad. And she struggled. And no matter what we did, or how often we told her we loved her and she could come to us with anything, she couldn't stop being sad. The last time I talked to her, I had just moved to DC and we made plans for her to come see me in June. I told her that now that I had my own place, she was always welcome to hop a train and come hang out if she needed to clear her head. She said she appreciated that, and she loved me. And she asked if I was her best friend. "Yeah, man" (because that's how we talked to each other). "Of course." That was May 23, 2003.

Six days later, at 10 p.m. on May 29, Kyra called me. "I don't know how to say this, but Carolyn just died." I gasped and asked "Is she gonna be okay?" Because that's what your brain does when you get a phone call like that.

I still think about her a lot. I imagine talking to her whenever I meet a new boy, or whenever I'm going through some hard stuff, or when I'm at a U2 concert. Her favorite U2 song is "Stay (Faraway So Close)." I cried when they played it live last year.

I hate how Carolyn's story ended. But that's not what I think about when I think of her. I think about how her favorite color was purple, and how she liked to go to the covered bridge and talk about boys, and how she loved lobster ravioli, and how she tamed the squirrels in her backyard, and how honored she was when we let her light the Chanukah candles, and how we got caught in a lightning storm and thought we were gonna die and when we didn't we laughed until we couldn't breathe...I have a lot of Carolyn Stories.

I just wish I had more. You guys would have loved her.

Dammit, Carolyn. Miss you, Carolyn. XOXOXO

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Week in Musica (Shwa CD Release Edition)

So, Shwa. You know, the dude I've known since junior high and who lived down the street from me in DC but I didn't really hang with until we became grown-ups* and then I drew his fliers and got silly at his gigs** and then I moved to New York and co-opted all his friends? That guy.

ANYWAY, Shwa has a new CD out called Good Times, Good Times (available at iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby, you guys) and we just couldn't let an opportunity like that pass without a well-documented party. Which is what we did at Mercury Lounge last week. It was especially exciting because, in addition to his legendary*** band the Good Times, there was a horn section! Unprecedented in Shwa history! So of course I was asked to film the crap out of it. And I did. Check it out! And buy a CD! If for no other reason, my name's in the credits, like, TWICE****. So there's that.

* Grown-ups being a relative term.
** To put it mildly. 2009, you guys. 2009.
*** In our own minds.
**** Money may have changed hands.

Here's "Treat the Disease," starring drummer Matt's incredibly choreographed hair. Seriously, guys, did we plan that? Because it works.

Then we have the showstopping "Brooklyn Girls,"

And the future bar mitzvah staple "Penultimate Dance." And for those of you with delicate sensibilities, um, he's saying "Shake your Bics." Because that's what you have to do sometimes. To get the ink and all. Yep.

And then "Sandi Don't Worry," which has no horns, but eff it, it's my favorite song on the album. And for those of you with delicate sensibilities, he's saying "fuck."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wrens Are Assholes

Just look at this little son of a bitch:

Looks cute, right? Pretty innocuous, yes?


This little fucker is a stone cold killer.

A few weeks ago, you may recall that the Family Shep embarked on an emergency mission to save a chickadee nest. Today I get the following e-mail:

"A few days after you left, the wrens came and cleaned out the Chickadee nest including all the eggs. The only way we could have prevented it would have been to install a wren guard. We didn't know that wrens were so hostile to other species. Dad."

What the hell, wrens? Think you're hot shit with your short little beak and perky little upright tails and your cheerful songs and balancing effect on the insect population? FUCK YOU. We protected that chickadee house. I blogged about it. You have pissed off the whole Internet, wrens. It hates you. Cute Overload will not have your kind.

Go to hell, wrens.

We'll totally look for you on the feeder.

UPDATE I have since been informed that after they destroyed the chickadee nest, they didn't even bother to live in the birdhouse. Worst birds ever.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Why Can't You Just Stay In Tonight?"

  • Because there's a really rad band playing.
  • Because my friends will be there.
  • Because my friends are playing in a really rad band.
  • Because of a boy.
  • Because I promised.
  • Because I love me some tapas.
  • Because after seven years of going home on time to cook dinner and watch Jeopardy, I realized I much prefer this.
  • Because it's on the way.
  • Because I've run out of Lost episodes to watch.
  • Because the Obama administration waited until freakin' 6 pm to dump the damn FOIA documents and there's no way I'm going to Gristede's so I might as well go to Allen Street.
  • Because Koz scored tickets.
  • Because I'm not really keen to go home to that empty apartment tonight.
  • Because missing the moment is unacceptable.
  • Because it's pub quiz night.
  • Because it's going to be EPIC, DUDE. EP. ICK.
  • Because the Eagles aren't on TV today.
  • Because I had a crap day at work.
  • Because I live in New York City. Der.
  • Because I need a drink and a hug.
  • Because Jennie made cupcakes.
  • Because it's beautiful out.
  • Because the laundry can freakin' wait.
  • Because I'm gonna be glad I did this when I'm old and boring.
  • Because I already scooped the litterbox and showered this morning, so I'm good.
  • Because this is where I want to be.
  • Because if you had a second chance at the road not taken, you'd do it too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NYC Love Letters: Central Park

When I lived in DC, my visits to NYC weren't as frequent as I would have liked them to be. So when I would visit, there were certain items on the itinerary that absolutely had to happen. One of those was to take at least 20 minutes to sit in Central Park, no matter the weather, and watch people go by. Usually I'd go at sunset, over by the Upper West Side's 72nd Street entrance, when all of the families would be out, and people would be going for their evening run, or walking their dog. And I'd always wonder if these people knew how amazing it was to have this place as part of their routine, and if they knew how fortunate they were to be able to walk a few blocks from their apartments and think of Central Park -- Central Park! -- as their own backyard. Did they know how goddamn lucky they were?

Guess what? They do.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Month In Musica (Boys in Tight Pants Edition)

I've been pretty lame about posting the music clips with any regularity this month, so here's a sample of the past two weeks. Watching all of these at once, two things become clear: 1. I know some very talented folks and 2. I hang out with guys who wear much, much tighter pants than I do. And you know what? That's okay. Honestly, you guys. We're not in DC anymore, are we?

Anyway, here's Nate Campany at Rockwood doing "Audrey":

And Kyle Patrick next door getting all retro with it on "I Only Know How to be in Love":

And Atomic Tom and friends doing an impromptu set that same night. The impromptu part is part of why it's a little hard to hear at first, but it all comes nicely together for the singalong at the end.

See, you stick around the Rockwoods long enough, a set or two is gonna break out. It just happens. So do Queen singalongs. And two-stepping to Led Zeppelin with boys named Ignacio. And that's all I can tell you on the blog. You'll just have to come out for the rest.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Family Shep Chickadee Rescue

It was a really windy day this Mother's Day at the Shepherd Family Homestead. There we were, enjoying our pre-cocktail hors d'oeuvres, when Mama Shep burst out in alarm. The wind had been tossing the birdhouse in the oak tree around so hard, that the damn roof fell off, and the poor little chickadee family inside was left open to the elements. Needless to say, we sprang into action:

The mother chickadee, however, wasn't quite as sure about the proceedings, and yelled like hell at us the whole time:

I tried assuring her that all would be well, and the babies were in good hands, but she was having none of it. Also, she's a freakin' bird:

Wee little chickadee eggs:

Dadoo Shep to the rescue with super glue!

Meanwhile, everyone gets distracted by a goldfinch because, holy crap, we love birds:

But eventually we got back on task:

Good as new!

And Mama Chickadee approves. The day is saved!

Friday, May 7, 2010


One reason for the blog silence the past week or so has been that I am frantically trying to catch up to Lost before the season finale, and it kinda kills any downtime I have in front of a computer. Why the late interest? Well, as previously discussed, it was putting a chilling effect on my conversations with friends. Also, it's wicked awesome. Incredibly awesome. Like, now I'm on Season 6 and can't watch it on Netflix anymore and my computer doesn't seem to want to download Hulu or at any acceptable speed and I may have to choke someone kind of awesome. But I'll work that out.

I've been watching in earnest since February, and to the delight/moderate amusement/grating annoyance of my Twitter followers, most of whom are obsessed with the show, I've been chronicling my progress with the hashtag #LateToLost. Jesus Christ, could you die of cleverness? If you could, you would.

But my Twitter page is covert for many a sordid reason, and hasn't been broadcast to the wider populace. Nor have all of the #LateToLost posts ever been compiled in one place...until now.

I should warn you that if you haven't seen the show, there may be something of a spoiler or two in here. Think of these as signposts on your journey to the Island. Like the show itself, they will mystify, confound, and maybe, just maybe, leave an entire nation traumatized. If you guys' hysterical reaction to last week's episode is any indication. Honestly, people, it's just a freakin' SHOW.

Previously, on #LateToLost:

  • These people have daddy issues that make Empire Strikes Back look like Father Knows Best. #LateToLost

  • Season 2. God bless Anna Lucia and her itchy trigger finger #DeliverUsFromShannon (Note: #LateToLost precursor. But really too good a hashtag to waste)
  • Wow, this guy who crashed on the island in a hot air balloon seems totally nice and credible. They should let his ass go. #LateToLost

  • Oh em gee, you guys. Have cue cards ever been so thrilling? No. They have not. #LateToLost

  • Three Dog Night and VW vans go together like peas and carrots. #LateToLost

  • You guys, I found the spider episode hilarious. Scale of 1 to 10 how worrisome is that? #LateToLost

  • Psh. Everyone knows a dislocated shoulder doesn't go *crunch*. It goes *pop*. Knees too. Trust me on this. #LateToLost
  • Awww. I'm so glad Hurly's got a gf. I feel really good about where this is going. #LateToLost
  • Harry Potter glasses: Cute on little kids. Creepy on megalomaniacal sociopaths. #LateToLost

  • Favorite new swear word: fishbiscuits #LateToLost


  • Also: #DeathPoolWIN

  • Thank god for the writer's strike and shortened seasons. I was getting a little winded, you guys. #LateToLost

  • Holy crap! It's the guy from Short Circuit! #NumberJohnnyFive #LateToLost

  • Oops. Well, first rule of Lost: don't get attached. #NumberFiveIsAli...Nevermind #LateToLost

  • "The subjects believe their job is of the utmost importance." Holy crap, you guys. Dharma's an NGO. #LateToLost #WonkHumor

  • This show is teaching me that we are all connected. Mostly to a bunch of assholes. #LateToLost

  • I'll tell you all what you can do with your wine corks... #StillOnSeason5People #LateToLost

  • Jeez, Rousseau. I guess 16 years marooned in crazytown takes a toll on a girl. #LateToLost

  • Jules, it's cool. Sociopaths happen. Sometimes they steal your money. Sometimes they get your bf killed. Don't blame yourself. #LateToLost

  • Wait, these people are famous now, right? So the Oceanic 6 boards the same plane and no one shits their drawers? #shenanigans #LateToLost

  • I just wanna be your constant. #LateToLost

  • Seeing Sayid doped up and giddy is like seeing your father cry. Incongruous and deeply upsetting. #LateToLost

  • I'm glad someone pointed out the Back to the Future space-time continuum/fading pictures factor before I had to do it. #LateToLost

  • Goddamit, I'm glad SOMEONE finally pointed out dude was wearing too much eyeliner. #LateToLost

  • And after 5 seasons, if you're gonna call someone "Freckles," maybe they should, y'know, have some? #ItAintEasyBeingMarginalized #LateToLost

  • These folks are willing to cock up time & space for the sake of their own love lives? That's...totally relatable, actually. #LateToLost

  • I'd have a lot more respect for Jack if he spelled his last name properly. #TheresNoAInShepherd #LookItUp #LateToLost