I started a newsletter last month. And I realized that I’ve mentioned it here, but I’ve never straight up talked about it or told you how to subscribe. (Spoiler: you can do so at the bottom of this post.)
Three Things (on Thursday) is a weekly newsletter where I send things that make your life a little better, week after week. This comes in the form of three things to read (usually books or links to articles), two things that you should know, and one thing I’ve learned in recent weeks.
It’s been a blast to write, and I would love if you joined the community and subscribed!
I went to an exhibit called NOTORIOUS RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Skirball Cultural Center this weekend. It was lovely.
Here’s the museum’s description:
With so much at stake on the Supreme Court, come explore the American judicial system through one of its sharpest legal minds. Coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of her appointment to the high court, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first-ever retrospective about the famed associate justice and American cultural icon.
The night before, I went to see On the Basis of Sex, the movie about RBG’s life that stars Felicity Jones, and I cried for half the movie because I felt so inspired. The exhibit was no different.
We weren’t allowed to take photos, but it was so lovely. Each section of Ruth’s life is in its own little interactive section: a living room set up for her early life, a car for her early marriage, her desk set up for her life on the Supreme Court. You can put on a judge’s robe and sit behind the Supreme Court bench to pose for a photo. I heard a woman when we were leaving say that the exhibit was so much better than she expected. I knew it was going to be good, but I agreed: it was much more interactive than I’d expected.
It would be easy to make this exhibit information-heavy, but it didn’t feel that way. Instead it felt like I was walking through Ruth’s life and learning about her impact on those around her and then later, the country as a whole. Ruth had never intended to become a judge; she instead saw herself as an advocate for others, especially the marginalized. She co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights project and sought to strike down sex discrimination laws one by one. She also had a truly equal partnership with her husband, a rarity at the time. She is amazing.
The combination of the film and the exhibit had a profound effect on me. I’d already known that Ruth was a hero, but to hear about the specifics of her life really cemented that for me.
The exhibit is open at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 10, 2019. Adult tickets for the museum are $12, and the exhibit is included in the ticket price.
I’ve liked The 1975 for a long time, but I feel like I didn’t properly get into them until a few months ago. My friend Taryn is very, very into them and with her encouragement I started watching some videos and listening to more of their stuff – including this live album, recorded in December 2016 at their show at The O2 in London. Live albums can be hit or miss for me, but this has quips from frontman Matty Healy like: “The memory, the visceral memory of the next three-and-a-half minutes will be better than a video on your iPhone.” If you only listen to one song off this album, please let it be Robbers.
My favorites: Paris, A Change of Heart, Robbers, She’s American
>> Nina CriedPower by Hozier
This is an EP of four songs, so it has me asking everyone I know, WHERE IS THE NEW HOZIER ALBUM?! If you haven’t seen the video for Nina Cried Power, a song he’s said is a thank you note to the spirit of protest, you have to watch it. This is a great interview. This EP has me really excited for his new stuff, whenever we get it. (He’s promised it’s coming in 2019. I want to believe him.) When this came out, I listened to it on repeat for three straight days. It’s a good one.
My favorite: A tie between NFYMB and Shrike.
>> Sings His Sad Heart by Matt Nathanson
I’ve liked Matt Nathanson since I was doodling the lyrics to Come On Get Higher on my high school binders. (Also on those binders: Grey’s Anatomy quotes.) He sort of fell off my radar for a bit, so I was thrilled when I found out a few months ago that he was releasing a new album. This came out just ten days ago and it’s got that sad-but-hopeful feeling that I love: “Sadness used to think it owned me / now sadness gotta share me with you.” There’s a song about wanting an old love to come back to you (“I’ve got a king sized bed and a PhD in the way it used to be”) and another about trying to let go of someone. I don’t quite love this album as much as his older stuff, but maybe it just needs some time to grow on me.
My favorites: Different Beds, Long Distance Runner, Mine
>> Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves
Listening to this earlier this year meant reliving the moments at The Forum in Los Angeles when I was anxiously waiting for Harry Styles to come on stage, since Kacey was his opener. It’s in recent weeks that I’ve been able to appreciate it as an album of its own, independent of that experience. (I mean, I listened to it a lot before I saw her and I liked it, but now I like it as it deserves.) It’s full of lines like “cause I know my place, and it ain’t with you / sunsets fade, and love does too” that just hit you in the heart. I think that with this album, Kacey has mastered that specific pop-country crossover that’s really popular right now, and added a pinch of disco. Listening to this makes me want to lay in a field of flowers and sing to the clouds, maybe while a horse neighs in the background. Yeehaw.
My favorites: Space Cowboy, Butterflies, Slow Burn
>> Malibu Nights by LANY
Like Sings His Sad Heart, this album came out last week and maybe hasn’t had enough time to marinate. But I’ve been listening to the pre-released singles for weeks. The theme of this sophomore album is sad, sad, and sad (about a break up: “thought you’d be there through thick and thin / said you’d be there for me through everything / said that you’d have my back with anything”). It’s a far cry from the happier stuff of their previous album, but it’s still really good. And sad.
My favorites: Thru Thick and Thin, Taking Me Back, I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore
>> BLOOM by Troye Sivan
Full disclosure: I hated this album the first time I heard it. I thought it was boring and too cohesive and repetitive. Luckily, I gave it a couple weeks and listened again, and now I can’t stop listening. It has a cohesive sound, sure, but all the songs are different. It’s honest and raw and real, and those are three of the most overdone words when reviewing something but in this case they’re the most accurate ones I’ve got. With lines like Seventeen’s “I went out looking for love when I was seventeen / maybe a little too young, but it was real to me” and Plum’s “maybe our time has come, maybe we’re overgrown / even the sweetest plum has only got so long,” it’s hard not to feel something big when listening to this. This is one of those albums that I listen to, finish, and then immediately restart. There’s not a bad song in the bunch.
My favorites: Seventeen, Lucky Strike, Plum
I’m looking forward to the new Little Mix album and the next album from The 1975, both coming out next month. What else do I need to be listening to?
My freshman year of college, I had a friend who was from Colorado. I remember seeing photos on Facebook of a bunch of our floormates who went to visit her – and they were at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. I knew then that I wanted to go there one day.
I finally got my chance when Niall Horan announced that it was a stop on his tour. My roommate scored us really good seats by magic (like, fourteenth row) and we booked plane tickets and a place to stay with some friends.
I stayed in Denver for three days and did some cool stuff, but I’m just going to talk about Red Rocks – because it’s the coolest part of the trip and because it’s the only thing we did that I have really good photos of! The rest of the trip was mostly eating and it looks like I didn’t take too many photos. We stayed in an AirBnb-type place near Coors Field. For food, I can recommend Cherry Cricket, where I had a great burger, and Snooze, which had some of the best breakfast food of my life.
Walking into Red Rocks was a really surreal experience. I’d never been there before but I also felt like I’d been there a thousand times – in the very best way. I know this makes no sense, but you just have to trust me on it. I loved it immediately, and I already knew I was going to be ruined for any concert afterwards.
We got to catch a minute of soundcheck (see photo at top) before we were shooed away by a security guard, and then we went to the on-site restaurant for dinner. There’s not much in the way of food on the way to Red Rocks (which is in Morrison, CO, about a 15 mile drive from Denver) so we ate there. You have to make a reservation ahead of time, I believe. The food was fine but nothing memorable, but it was worth it to get in a bit early.
There’s not much I can say about the concert itself without sounding incredibly sappy and poetic. This was the fourth time I saw Niall this tour, which I know is a little ridiculous, but each and every time I had the happiest night of my life seeing him. This, though, blew all those others out of the water, and I would’ve traded the three of those in a heartbeat to get this night out of the deal. Niall was so thrilled and excited to be performing at Red Rocks, and that’s how I felt about being in the crowd. I took a bunch of photos but nothing that did the venue and the experience justice, so I tried to keep my phone away and soak in the whole thing.
The venue is incredible. Because we were so close to the front, I could turn around and see the expanse of the crowd behind us. I could say it over and over til I turn blue, but the venue lends itself to the experience feeling almost spiritual. You’re outside in the mountains, under the stars, there’s people all around you, the sound is bouncing off the rocks in the best way, and you’re in this really special place. It looks really gorgeous in photos, but pictures just do not do the experience justice.
I could probably talk about this all day but the basic facts are that I had the very best time, Red Rocks ruined me for any other concert venue, and I absolutely cannot wait to get back there one day.
A few months ago, I was lamenting the fact that I felt like my life was full of obligations to others and I wasn’t doing things I wanted to do. So many of the things that have happened this year have been because someone else forced my hand: looking for a new place to live, looking for a new job, finding a new therapist, the list goes on. That’s when I decided I wanted to pick one day each month where I would make absolutely no plans for the day, and do whatever I wanted in the moment.
I picked September 22, a Saturday, for the first Adventure Day.
I started the morning by waking up late and not feeling bad for it. (Not feeling bad about my choice is key for the Adventure Day.) I had two cups of coffee, made eggs for breakfast, and watched half of The 1975 at The O2while I worked on Project Life for the first time in months.
I went to a 15 Years of Grey’s Anatomy pop-up exhibit that was put on by ABC and POPSUGAR. It was cute! There were lots of pieces of fan art, a few props from the show, and a bunch of places to take photos. I loved the sign that said ‘You’re my person’ a lot. I think this is something that would’ve been better with a friend – alone, it was just wandering the room and looking at the exhibit because I didn’t feel like taking photos alone. I haven’t watched Grey’s in a few years, but it was cool to get to see some of the props.
After that I went to get lunch at a vaguely fancy grocery store, and then I went to the library for a while to read. At this point I was starting to feel like I should’ve planned this whole day better. I didn’t make any kind of plan and since I had a concert to go to that evening, I was a bit limited on where I could travel. I toyed with the idea of setting a spending limit of $25 for adventure days, with the intent of trying to do free things. Between lunch and dinner, I ended up spending most of that on food.
I went for a drive around Beverly Hills to look at the fancy houses that I can dream of one day affording, and then I sat in a park and read Dreaming in Irish and wrote in my journal. It’s a park that I went to for a November Project workout once last year, and I’ve wanted to hang out there since. After that I made a quick stop at the Beverly Hills sign, since I’ve been wanting to grab a photo of it for a long time.
Soon after that it was time to leave to head to the Greek Theatre for the Johnnyswim + NEEDTOBREATHE show. Ticketmaster did a $20 all-fees-included promo earlier this year, and I will take any excuse to go to the Greek that I can. It was a good show! I like some of their songs a lot, and others not at all. They didn’t play some of the ones I love, which was a bummer, but I still had a great time.
I’m loosely planning the next Adventure Day for this weekend, and I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do yet – stay tuned!
I saw Bastille for the first time the week before I moved to Los Angeles. They played at the Agganis Arena in Boston, a 7,200 seat arena, and I went with my friend Lauren. It was March of 2017, and I was getting ready to start a really big adventure.
It’s been pretty much exactly 18 months since that night, and I got to see them again on Monday. (I think my previous show was on a Monday, too, and I’m sappy, but I’m not quite sappy enough to count the exact number of weeks.) Pretty much everything about my life now is different, but the show was just as good.
A list of random things I want to remember: running into my friend and his girlfriend and them offering to let me crash their date since I was alone, how the venue was set up with strange levels, how fancy the lobby was, how nice it was to find free parking, how the people in front of me were being annoying and I decided to forget about it and just enjoy the show, how I put my phone away and barely took any pictures the whole night.
I want to remember how the band brought balloons on stage for the encore and then joked that it looked terrible (it didn’t), how good it felt to just close my eyes and feel the music and dance, how Dan put on a taco hat someone threw on stage, how the singer of Walk the Moon was three inches in front of me and I didn’t know til I got home and looked on Instagram.
I want to remember how I’d had a weird day and once I let go of those feelings and decided to lose myself in the music, my whole mood lifted, how freeing and joyous and fun it is to sing Quarter Past Midnight and Happier and Pompeii with 1,800 strangers, how there were zero visuals for the show and it really didn’t matter at all because they are just that good.
My number one goal when I moved to LA was to go to more concerts. I saw NEEDTOBREATHE at the Greek Theatre two nights before this show (for $20!) and that experience showed me that I don’t need to know every song a band has ever done to have a good time at their show. For me, there’s nothing like live music.
I wrote a sappy instagram caption last September about how Harry Styles’ solo career has influenced my life here in Los Angeles more than anything else. This is what I wrote:
If there’s one person who’s affected my strange, random move to Los Angeles more than any other, it would be Harry Styles. Not just because he actually started doing stuff when I got to the West Coast (his first song came out my third morning here) but also because he’s out in the world telling people to be brave and kind to others, and love whoever they love, and that it’s okay to be scared of trying new things, and it’s alright to stay home and watch rom-coms, and that not everyone’s going to like you so you should just do what you want to do instead of caring what they think. So to watch him on stage last night when I’m just shy of six months here was deeply emotional and I’ll never forget it. Thanks for the show, @harrystyles, and also for being a really great life inspiration.
I still stand by everything I wrote back then. I got to see him perform another show in Phoenix, AZ a few weeks later, and then I didn’t see him again until this past weekend. I bought the tickets last June, before I even saw him that first time. It happened this weekend, and it was the best, best time. I think people sometimes wonder why you’d go see the same artist multiple times in a year, but to me it’s a different show every time. The basic truth is that I feel like my best, most empowered, happiest self at a concert like Harry’s, and I want to capture that feeling as much as I can.
The opening artist was Kacey Musgraves. I really liked her! My seats both nights were alone, but my roommates and some of my other friends were in the audience too, so it didn’t quite feel like I was alone. I lucked out and had a great seat both nights – I didn’t have to look at the screen and I could see his actual face! That’s never happened to me before. Weirdly, my seat was in the same exact spot both times. Not weirdly, both nights were incredible. After the first night, a bunch of us went to Mel’s Diner to essentially process our feelings. It’s one of the only central 24-hour places around, so the restaurant was filled with people who’d been to the concert. Some of them were wearing merch and some of them I could just tell.
The next day, I had to bring my car in for a new tire, my roommates Liz and Bri hosted a picnic for their friends by our pool, and then we got ready and did it again!
The last show was a blast. He played the last song three times, like he didn’t want the show to end as much as we didn’t want it to. Notes to self: if you can go to the same show multiple nights in a row, do it, and if you can get to the last show of a tour, absolutely do it.
I walked away with a hoodie, a new water bottle, and no voice. We went out to a late-night dinner somewhere else, and I sat around and looked at the people I was with, super grateful for the whole weekend. I had the best time, and I can’t wait to save up money so I can do it again.