Random Songs of Awesomeness

Part One

Why say awesome songs when you can say songs of awesomeness? Exactly.

So I’m starting a new series, and for this one, I’m trying to broaden the genre. If possible. I do tend to listen to a lot of a similar sound these days. But I love so many random songs that I have yet to feature on my blog. Some are repeats from before because their awesomeness cannot be contained to one post.

Or I’ve forgotten I already posted it.

Assuming I stick with this series, expect a lot of songs. It’s a deep well of tunes in my brain. The order is also random, in the spirit of the theme. Enjoy!


“Dance with the Devil” Breaking Benjamin

Yes, the order is random, but I have to start with my man, Ben Burnley. Love the whisper at the end. Stop it.


“The Pot” Tool

I don’t know what it is about this song. I do not listen to any other Tool song. But I love this one. That. bass. line.


“Stranger” Katie Costello

“Switched at Birth” brought me here. One of the few songs with a female vocalist that you’ll ever see on this blog. Continue reading

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2018: The Year That…Was.

Well, 2018. That’s a wrap. Time to go.

It’s been quite a year for me. Things happened that I never thought would happen. Some things I wanted to happen, didn’t happen. That’s pretty much every year though, right?Related image

I figured I’d take some time and reflect on 2018. Categorically. Expect a rambling mess of thoughts. Ready?


Writing

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The Good:

1- I’m in an effing book. Available here:ย Maryland’s Emerging Writers

Seriously, though, this was pretty amazing, and while I feel like it never actually happened—because I don’t think Z Publishing did a speck of advertising, (Have you heard of America’s Emerging Writers? No? Oh. Well there were 50 books. Still no? Yeah, one for each state. OK. Well, there were.)—it’s still an incredible achievement, even if I’m the one only who knows about it.

2- Because of this achievement, my interest in writing came back. #thankful

3- I had the courage to send out some novel queries early in the year. Despite all the rejections, I’m considering this a good thing. I haven’t given up. Yet.

4- I revised my YA short enough to confidently submit to magazines.

5- I reached 5k followers on Twitter. Listen, I thought this would be the pinnacle of the whole social networking thing. But. It’s far from it. It’s just a number. And it means absolutely nothing. When you tweet something and get 2-3 likes, what’s it matter that you have 5k followers? No shade here. I do appreciate the followers. And I do hope to have more of a Twitter presence in 2019.

The Bad:

1- My writer self and I parted ways. We’re currently reconciling, but I really did just give up on writing some time during the summer, it seems. I didn’t touch my novel for months. I disappeared from Scribophile. The whole writing world just no longer excited me.

2- I didn’t get my novel published. Duh.

3- Going along with number one, I didn’t get my novel “finished” by the end of the year, which I was hoping for. And I didn’t write anything new.

4- Just yesterday, I was rejected from a magazine for my YA short. That was to be expected. But I’m still glad I submitted. I have two more (I think) possibilities.

The 2019 Plan:

1- FINISH MY EFFING NOVEL. Dear God. And all the rest…get an agent, book deal, interview with Oprah. The norm.

2- Don’t give up on my YA short. I’ll be sending it out this coming week. Please hold me to that.

3- Return to Twitter. The most doable in the list.

4- Return to Scribophile. I’m paying to use this website. WHY?! I haven’t so much as signed in since September. *sigh*

5- Not directly writing related, but I need to read more this year. I miss reading. I’d like to read more novels in my genre so that I’m familiar with the current market.


VIPKID

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The Good:

1- For more details on this, I have lots of blog posts called VIPKID Vibes. But basically, I love this job. It revived my passion for teaching. I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I feel like I’m making a difference, and it’s all so rewarding and awesome.

The Bad:

1-Aside from the cons of being a VIPKID teacher (lack of insurance, the hours, the inconsistencies, tech issues, etc.), on a personal level, the life balance is horrific. It’s VIPKID on one side and everything else on the other side. Because of this job, I stopped writing, making videos, reading, treadmill-ing. I put all my time into this job. And it probably doesn’t make sense considering I’m finished teaching at 9 AM. It’s the prep work, the reward systems, the YouTube videos, the blog posts, the necessity to nap, on and on. It becomes an obsession.

2- I’m tired all the time because of the hours. Over 1k classes and I’m still trying to find the balance.

The 2019 Plan:

1-I have no plans to stop, obviously. I will continue to blog about my experiences, and I’d like to become a Mock Class Mentor if possible.

2- I need to balance my life better. VIPKID can’t be the only thing I care about.


My Cat

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The Good:

1- I started a YouTube channel for my cat–yes, that’s sane–and while it didn’t blow up, I had SO much fun making videos. I used to make videos back in high school. They were essentially “music videos” where I’d pair a movie/show with a song. I liked the editing aspect of it. Anyway. I started throwing together some videos of Mocha starting in January. I met some cool people and Mocha got some love. Win, win.

2- Around the same time, I made an Instagram profile for Mocha. Also completely sane. In the same way, I met some cool cat people and learned a whole new platform. I’d never used Instagram before. And while it’s my least favorite social media, it works well for cats. I got loads of followers for the first few months, but I’ve held steady around 430 for probably 6 months.

3- My cat is awesome. Really though, living alone is awesome, but it comes with a certain, how do I say, isolation? So it’s nice to have another presence around. I’m going to stop before I sound completely psychotic. Point is, Mocha makes me happy. Cats rule.

The Bad:

1- I stopped making YouTube videos. Several reasons. Mainly, time. When I started VIPKID, EVERYTHING else came second. So I didn’t have time to write or read or tweet or make videos. I probably did, but I didn’t feel like I did, if that makes sense. But I also stopped making videos because honestly, it was disheartening to put all this effort into making them (and it takes longer than my “production value” might suggest) only to get a handful of views. Maybe that’s petty. So be it. But for 2019, I’m returning to the idea of making content you want regardless of your audience. It should be the same for an audience of 63 (my current subscriber count) to 1k (my aspiring subscriber count).

2- I didn’t post to Instagram daily as I had been. Or liking others’ photos as I had been. I lost the motivation for it.

3- Although Mocha is super awesome sauce, she has her moments. For instance, she suffers from what I like to call “elevator butt.” While peeing, she will lift her butt in the air, and therefore pee out of the box. If you know cat pee smell, it is heinous. So now I use giant storage containers. The first ones I had, I simply cut a square in the side, but then she started peeing out of the square. Now, they have a cut-out towards the top, so she has to hop in there. Whatever works, eh?

4- Mocha decided one day she didn’t like the food she’d been eating for two years, so I went through all these different cans of cat food. Her flavor of choice: sardines. Who knew?

5- Mocha likes to chew things, which unfortunately included an Easter lily. If you didn’t know, lilies are toxic to cats. This resulted in an after hours stress-filled phone call to my vet who didn’t even want to talk to me and cut me off. (Needless to say, I no longer go to this vet.) A mustard induced vomit. (I don’t know if you’ve ever pried open a cat’s mouth and squirted mustard in there, but it’s all kinds of fun.) A 30 minute fight to get Mocha in the carrier which left me bloodied and mentally scarred. And a nice vet bill for an overnight stay.

She’s damn lucky she’s so cute.

The 2019 Plan

1- I want to make videos again! This is pretty much my only cat-related resolution.


I’ll leave it at that. I hope your 2018 treated you well. New Year’s is always my favorite and least favorite time of year, which I plan to explain in a future post, possibly this week.

To all those who liked, commented, or followed me this year, a huge thank you to you. I really do appreciate the love. I’m humbled by it. And confused by it. But mostly just thankful.

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I’ll just throw this out there. If there’s anything you’d like to see a blog post about, I’m listening.

Here’s to an awesome 2019! I’ll see you then.

-Lauren

My Favorite Alt Christmas Songs

You probably won’t hear these on the radio, so I’m bringing them to you here to jollify your holiday season. Yes, I invented a new word. Along with the classic tunes everyone hears this time of year, these songs are also on my playlist.

New Found Glory – Nothing For Christmas

Despite the double negative in the chorus, I love this song. It’s just so sweet. And catchy as hell.


Death Cab for Cutie – Baby, Please Come Home

Ben Gibbard’s voice is one of my favorites. Still waiting for his lullaby album, btw.


My Chemical Romance – All I Want For Christmas is You

Well, if you’re not an MCR fan, you probably would not like this cover. Gerard Way is an acquired taste, and if you have yet to acquire it, this wouldn’t be the track to do it with. (That’s what “Famous Last Words” is for.) But it’s a fun cover all the same. Continue reading

Christmas Songs I Didn’t Know Existed

I like classic Christmas music as much as the next gal–Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, The Carpenters, Brenda Lee, you know the ones–but I hunt for new Christmas songs every year. Thanks to Spotify, I’ve discovered these beauties. Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jethro Tull – Ring Out Solstice Bells

Obsessing over this one. Everyone needs a little Ian Anderson for the holidays.


MxPx – Another Christmas

The Christmas song I didn’t know I needed. Mike Herrera ๐Ÿ™‚


Continue reading

Here’s To the Songs That Helped Me Survive Teaching Middle School

Are you new here? This is all you need to know:

  1. Music is life.
  2. Teaching middle school was…well…it was like being underwater. And still being expected to do everything someone with air can do. Good times.

These songs were in heavy rotation while I found my way to higher ground. It’s pretty much a mixture of “I’m angry” and “I’m hopeful.”

Perhaps these can help you too?

Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚




I’m not convinced this wasn’t written by a middle school teacher. Continue reading

Thank You, Followers!

I’m deeming today #thankfulthursday.

(Today’s gifs brought to you by my many husbands, fyi.)

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So I have no idea how this happened, but I have 100 followers. Like, what?

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When I started this blog, I had very low expectations–and I still do. Every view, like, comment, or follower I get surprises me. The content I post here is primarily for me. I see this platform as almost a journal. I’m pretty much documenting what’s going on in my life and the things I’m into at the time. So if someone gets anything out of what I post, I’m stoked about it.

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Whether you’re here for VIPKID info, writing updates, random music rants, pics of my cat, or lots of gifs, I’m glad you’re here.

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So thank you for clicking Follow. That’s super awesome. Have a good one!


Thanks for spending some time here. If you’re reading this, you rock. And don’t you forget it.

Bonus gif ๐Ÿ™‚

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I found a new gif for Mark Peterson, and I’m happier than I should be about it. I’m posting it here so I don’t lose it. ๐Ÿ™‚

My Favorite Female Vocalists

Happy Music Monday! It’s been established how much I like music–more than most people (and I don’t mean “more than most people like music”)–but I listen to primarily male vocalists. 98%, I’d say. I don’t know why this is, and I hadn’t really realized it until I was listing all my favorite songs…and they were all guys.

So I thought I’d feature the few female singers I like. I’ve kept things current-ish, so no Aretha or anything. But, of course, that lady can sang!

In no particular order, here we go!

Imogen Heap

I have to start with Imogen. She was the first name I thought of. I’ve mentioned Imogen before, but she is awesome. She plays all kinds of instruments, does strange vocal mixing, is pretty quirky, and I really like her voice. She is so underrated, it hurts.

Amy Lee

Hopefully, we can all agree, Amy Lee has an amazing voice. She sounds the same live as recorded–the mark of a true singer.

Christina Perri

I’ve always liked this song, and this live performance has so much emotion. I’d hate to be the poor soul she’s singing about.

Lacey Strum

One of my favorite voices, male or female. This chick is otherworldly. I read a YouTube comment about her that it’s like she gets high off her own voice. Accurate. I don’t know what else to say. Moving on. Continue reading

Music Channels Worth Watching: Lost in Vegas

It’s Music Monday again, and I’m back with another YouTube channel you should check out.

This week: Lost in Vegas.

There are so many reaction channels. Too many. But there’s something about these two guys that seems genuine. Most reaction channels are pretty much over-reaction channels. They dramatize so much that they just come across as fake.

I like these guys, and I wanted to share them with you. Here are a few of their videos:

Continue reading

Music Channels Worth Watching: Rick Beato

Happy October!

Last month, I highlighted some bands/artists I think everyone should hear. For October, I’m posting some music related YouTube channels worth a look. Up first, Rick Beato.

I love people who love music. And this guy loves music.

The cool part about his video series (“What Makes This Song Great?”) is how he isolates different tracks, so you can hear each part. This is what I love about music, how all the parts fit together. That’s why I love listening to instrumentals. And isolated tracks too, when I can find them. I used to watch that show, Behind the Music. It was awesome when they’d play just the bass, or just the drums, or drums and vocals together. I always thought that would be a cool job. A record producer. Or as I used to call it, “the guys who moves the knobs.”

It’s amazing to hear something you’ve never noticed in a song you’ve heard a million times. Take “Everlong” for instance. Did you know there’s a female vocalist doing harmonies??? Yeah, me either.

I’ve already binged a lot of his videos. He knows all my favorite songs. It’s pretty weird. I’ll post a few here.

I’ll be honest. Most of the time, I don’t know what he’s talking about. When he starts getting into chord names, and he’s throwing out words like “sus,” he’s over my head. But it’s still fascinating.

Go check out his channel:ย Rick Beato

“Everlong” Foo Fighters


“Been Caught Stealing” Jane’s Addiction


“Paranoid Android” Radiohead

Continue reading

You Need to Listen to Sick Puppies

Yeah, yeah. I’ve talked about this band in several other posts already. But. I’m choosing to feature them because they fit the unofficial criteria. Awesome. Bingeworthy. And tragically, unknown to many.

My Sick Puppies origin story is a simple one. No need for popcorn or anything. That awesome sauce local radio station–you know, the one they killed to make yet another oldies station–played Sick Puppies’ current, at the time, single, “There’s No Going Back.”ย  And what an appropriate title. A YouTube binge and Pandora playlist later, I was hooked.

Not so much to buy any of their albums, but anyway. The lead singer has left the band; I went with him. I don’t know what they’re up to now, but Shim’s voice is what I liked most. So…sorry, other puppies.

So here are my favorite tracks from Sick Puppies:

There’s No Going Back

This song is five years old. No way. These lyrics are everything.


All the Same

My favorite. By a gazillion and four.

This is the song on my novel playlist–because it’s freaking perfect for my characters/situation. I became obsessed with this song. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If I ever make a “My Favorite Songs Ever” list, this will be pretty high on the list.

I’ll post my favorite acoustic, live, etc. versions at the end. ๐Ÿ™‚


Maybe

Summer of 2016. This was my jam. In case you were wondering, that’s when I quit my soul-sucking, rage-inducing, Lord-help-me middle school teaching job. This track was therapeutic. And motivating. And all-around awesome sauce.ย  Continue reading