[sic] seven day song challenge, day seven: glass and patron

I know it’s taken me quite a while to get here…the demands of real life seem to get in the way of my creative endeavors.

(Maybe that’s my problem…prioritizing “real” life over creativity, the essential life force that gives my days dimension, texture, clarity. But I digress.)

In truth, I’ve been fortunate enough to have creative opportunities, but I’m still hungry.

Which brings me to FKA Twigs. Icon. Creative Goddess.

I love her entire body of work, but “Glass and Patron” is the song that I return to whenever I need energy.

“I wait all week for a moment’s break away from being told who I am…”

That’s the feeling. When I write. When I dance. When I sing. When I create.

The video is stunning, perfectly illustrating FKA Twigs’s many talents. A concept, fully realized from beginning to end.

Fashion. Dance. Song. Life. It’s all here. It’s everything I love in a short clip. A fitting end to this journey.

Go forth and create, create, create!


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Seven Day Song Challenge / Melanie Kristy / Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes (song 4)

One of my favorite movies is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I love the series so much I’m listening to the audio books right now. It reminds me of summer, friendship and freedom. I adore reading stories about groups of best friends, tight knit families and any other sort of community. I love when people – even just those in fiction – have found their tribe. This is another reason why I love Now & Then so much (see my previous post).  Even though the characters had grown apart, they come back together. This is another reason why I enjoy watching HBO’s series Girls. Even when best friends aren’t talking, there’s still remnants of that friendship beneath layers or hatred or mixed feelings. Just watch the season finale of season 5 to see what I mean.


In high school I had a lot of friends that I had met over the internet. These days it doesn’t seem as weird to go online, find a community and become part of something where you can become real life friends. This group is the perfect example of that. Online writers from all over who shared a common interest in writing and Francesca Lia Block met through an online writing workshop and bonded over Facebook and other social media sites. Back in high school I used to write in online journal type sites like LiveJournal. I became close to a few friends that I still talk to and see, if even it’s not on a consistent basis.


There was something cool about Chuck Taylor’s. There’s always been, I think. Even now I’d rather pick out Chucks to suit my personality than stuff my toes into heels. Somewhere along the line, it was decided that Red Chucks were the ultimate. I think it sparked from this song. My friend Kate used to feed me story ideas because she’d think up some world or scenario she would want to see, and I’d make it happen. This still happens to this day. Nana Sprinkles was inspired by the thoughts of Kate Jones. So at some point I wrote her a story about a boy with red Chuck Taylors and all I remember is that he lived in New York City.


Some time after that, and I’m not even sure where the inspiration came into play, but it was decided that as I was going into my freshman year of college two of my online friends – who didn’t really know each other, but had common interests and knew of each other through me – and I would share a pair of Red high top Chuck Taylor’s. Our feet sizes varied a little, but the Chucks were forgiving. We kept them for a month before passing them on, writing in a colorful journal to keep in touch that way. Miranda brought them to a Hanson concert and got them signed. Then, after my freshman year of college Hanson was on tour again and my friend Michelle’s mom somehow knew Taylor’s father-in-law (it sounds a lot more convoluted than it was). She managed to get us on the “meet and greet” for a show in New Hampshire. We were grouped with a bunch of people who won a radio station concert, and we had a chance to get something signed.


I started babbling the moment I stuck the sneaker in Zac’s hand. When the shoes were in Texas, Zac hadn’t come out so the other shoe only had Isaac and Taylor’s signatures. I was determined to fix this. Zac barely said anything to me, nodding as he signed. Then he passed the sneaker along to his brothers.


I met both Miranda and Kate because of  Hanson. At this point I’d spent time with Kate, both in Massachusetts and Ohio, and I wouldn’t meet Miranda until a year later. Because of Hanson and Chuck Taylor’s, Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants we have this one cool thing we did back in 2003/2004. Something I often forget about, but every now and then the memory pops up. And it feels like magic.




Melanie Kristy

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[sic] seven day challenge, day 6: romeo y julieta

So, since I’ve posted my last song challenge piece, I’ve been thinking more and more about Romeo and Juliet, specifically in Latin music. Two of my favorite songs by Puerto Rican artists draw upon Romeo and Juliet, proving I’m a hopeless Shakespeare nerd in any language.

First, there’s the classic “Amores Como el Nuestro” by Jerry Rivera. You may recognize the opening notes from “Hips Don’t Lie”, a song that made annoyed me to no end despite the fact that I really like Shakira because every damn time the song came on the radio I would automatically get hyped for Jerry Rivera. Every. Time. I should have known better, but I didn’t because, like Pavlov’s dogs, I had been conditioned to expect a damn good salsa song and not middle-of-the-road pop. To be fair, had I not grown up listening to “Amores Como el Nuestro”, I probably would have liked “Hips Don’t Lie”, but alas. (I’m sure Jerry Rivera gives zero fucks about my feelings, seeing as how it probably rained money in his house every time that song was played.) This song takes me back to my friend’s room as she waxed poetic about boys, and I, being younger and not exactly popular with the fellas, listened while frantically tucking away information in the back of my mind. Put this song on at a party and watch me get my entire life.

Next, a much more recent song from Ivy Queen, “Peligro de Extincion”. I love Ivy Queen. She’s unapologetic about being herself. Bold style, bold voice. Her music makes me want to get shit done. I love this song because it’s the perfect blend of her reggaeton beats with a softer flow that speaks more to her ballads. The juxtaposition of hard and soft work so well here. (Also, her hair in this video is goals. That red! Also, I want the typewriter. Just sayin’.)


All this Romeo and Juliet talk has brought me back to the Baz Luhrmann-directed version, a movie everyone who grew up in the ’90s has seen and either loves or loathes. Guess which side of that fence I’m on? (Also, HOLY SHIT THAT MOVIE IS 20 YEARS OLD PARDON ME WHILE I GO TAKE MY GERITOL AND YELL AT CHILDREN TO GET OFF MY LAWN.) The soundtrack to this movie just takes everything about the ’90s and wraps it up in a tidy little bow.

Presenting the most 1990’s thing you’ve ever seen (and heard) in your life:

Ah, Shakespeare and his foolish, shortsighted young lovers. Gotta love ’em.



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[sic] seven day song challenge, day 5: america

So, I’m currently participating in a writing workshop that explores the Latino immigrant experience, using Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors as our guide. It’s one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve ever had, both in terms of my writing and my personal life. I love speaking Spanish in the room (even though I’m a Spanglish speaker at best), listening to others tell their stories, feeling a little bit more at home.

This isn’t the first time I’ve explored Shakespeare in the context of being Latina. My freshman year of high school, we studied Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story side by side, and through the hell that was my first–and only–year in that school, this exploration was everything. Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of Latinos on television or read about Latinos in books, which is probably why West Side Story affected me so deeply. Reading the stories and watching the movie cemented my love for both Shakespeare and musical theater. I annoyed my family by obnoxiously singing along with the movie, sometimes more than once a day. While the starry-eyed, desperate teen Jessa loved scenes like “Mambo”, “I Feel Pretty” and “One Hand, One Heart” (on which I modeled a senior wedding project because, in my other high school, we had to take a Marriage and Family class where we planned a Catholic wedding, making religious programs and all, and then had an egg “baby” that we had to care for. But I digress.), adult Jessa keeps going back to “America”. That conflict of hope and disillusionment, the deep pain and frustration at not being respected, sadness and resentment at the difficulties my parents faced as young people in the US, especially my dad, who came to the US from PR when he was eighteen, the way even anger and frustration can be turned into art. It’s masterful, and the lyrics resonate. Plus, Rita Moreno is a goddess.





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7 Day Song Challenge, Day 5

Today’s a bit of a mixtape because I wanted to post a song that inspired a character from my novel, but then I couldn’t choose, so here goes.

For Miles, who’s not as lost as he thinks he is:

For Vivian, who’s not as alone as she thinks she is:

For Oskar, who’s not as trapped as he thinks he is:


For Ivy, who’s not as dangerous as she thinks she is:

For Rook, who’s not a big as he thinks he is:

For the J’s, who’s not really sure who they are:

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[sic] seven day song challenge, day four: guns n’ roses n’ bees, oh my!

Axl Rose: egomaniac, kickass vocalist, object of my pre-teen affection. Guns n’ Roses were the be-all-and-end-all in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and Axl and Slash were second only to Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart as far as vocalist/guitarist duos went in my mind. I remember seeing the video for “Don’t Cry” for the first time and marveling at Axl’s perfect face, his shaking hands, his writhing body. Also, the clothes. ’90s fashion perfection. I had seen other G n’ R videos before, but watching this grand interpretation of Axl’s life being played out by the man himself–fucked-up Axl, withdrawal Axl, cool-as-fuck blazer-clad Axl, underground Hulk Axl–felt different. I loved the poetry and the storytelling, even if it was some narcissist’s big, vulgar ego stroke. (Which…I think we can give give the “Biggest Ego Stroke” award to “November Rain”.) And Slash–can we talk about that guitar god? The hair! The top hat! The snarl! I was totally in love with that sliver of face and wild mass of curls. And the way he played guitar was beyond music. It was an awakening.

I loved the rooftop band performance scenes in that video, where Axl wails under the accusatory glare of helicopter lights, sharing the spotlight with another singer. This man also had long hair and wore a plaid shirt, and he was so gorgeous that whenever he appeared I kind of forgot about Axl altogether. Axl was in the whole video, but you had to work to appreciate this other dude. Years later, I would discover thanks to VH1’s Behind the Music that the backup singer in that video that outshined Axl was none other than Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon.

When I found that out, it all clicked. Of course. The man who wrote “No Rain”, the saddest song with the happiest melody. The man dancing in a field, his long, wavy hair draped over his shoulders; the man singing to delicate yellow flowers. The man who introduced this lonely, sad, weird kid to the Bee Girl. For the first time ever, I saw someone on television who looked like me and wasn’t just there to be a sidekick or a punchline. She was her own person, and it was her weirdness, her tap dancing, her longing, that made the story. And she finds her bee people! A whole fucking field of bee people! Hope, the thing in my chest that bloomed like a sunflower, big and bright and bold.

I had been planning on writing about these two videos together since we started this challenge, and it’s been my goal to write about it all day. Lo and behold, Facebook memories reminded me that exactly five years ago today, this is what I had to say about “No Rain”, which I shared on my page: “This may be my favorite song of all time. Seriously. The video only makes it better. I identified with that Bee Girl so intensely. Still do. Must be where my love of tutus comes from.”

It’s a song I return to whenever I’m feeling alone and weird and sad, and I find it perfectly odd that five years ago it was the song on my mind. Our brains are funny things, aren’t they?

Tell your stories. Be exactly who you are. You’ll find your people eventually.


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Seven day song challenge / Melanie Kristy / Sugar Sugar

When you’re friends with someone for 26 years weird things connect you in ways that sometimes need explaining. Shaylin and I are connected by orange traffic cones, doors, Dumbo and amongst many other things: Sugar Sugar by The Archies. When I turned eleven I was allowed to take two friends to the movies. We chose Now & Then and the movie quickly became our anthem. Shaylin and I spent summers pretending to be Sam and Roberta and conquering the streets of Carver one our bicycles. We highlighted roads we ventured down in our Town of Carver maps. In the bogs behind my house we found our 

In sixth grade we performed Sugar Sugar in the sixth grade lip sync. Choreographed dancing and pretend singing in an elementary school auditorium.

There were lots of songs in Now and Then. We learned them quickly with the help of my soundtrack, and somehow Sugar Sugar was the song that stuck the most. It became part of the soundtrack of our friendship.

Fast forward to 2011, five years ago, I was the maid of honor in Shaylin’s wedding. I had the DJ play Sugar Sugar for her (us) and we danced like we had danced all night. 


Melanie Kristy

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