Friday, March 11, 2011

I just pulled this blog up from the bottom of the ocean.

Well, practically. I haven't posted here in ages... and that's because I'm almost always posting here!

The blog I linked above documents my frequent travels through the life of freelance/aspiring music journalism. I pour a lot of effort into it and get many readers, so many in fact, that it's getting a custom domain name. (A .com address, for those who don't know what I'm speaking of). I've used the name Soul Coughing for the blog for the past year and a half that this blog has been alive, but because that name is not uniquely mine, I've changed the blog name to Vinyl Sea. My lovely best friend Ashley Schanley (who has been attending Regent University for the past year for cinema) has done all of the custom artwork that the blog has. She's moving to a university in Portland, OR to study art and/or music production. (Portland is where I hope to move after college, so I'm sure I'll be visiting often)!

Anyway. I hope you all will divert your attention there now! It's my pride and joy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Soul Coughing 6.


Current Music:
Artist: Bon Iver.

Song(s): The Wolves (Act I and II)

Album(s): For Emma, Forever Ago.


"Dear Ashley,

Congratulations on your admission to Tulsa Tech! You have been selected for the afternoon session of Photography Technology at the Lemley campus for the 2010-2011 school year. By choosing Tulsa Tech you join other students ready to acquire expertise, confidence, and work ethic for tomorrow's top careers and professions.
Tulsa Tech's programs feature the newest and best technology and equipment in state-of-the-art facilities with curriculum taught by industry experienced educators. You now have the opportunity to stay one step of the competition by earning critical business and industry certifications, credentials, required licenses, and college credits..."

I'm so very excited to start this next school year. With this impressive admission under my belt, it makes my Senior year that much more exciting. (I say impressive because this is one of the most highly demanded classes at Tulsa Tech. Only 44 students are admitted, 22 for morning session and 22 for afternoon. Nineteen of those spots were already automatically filled by transfer students from other states. They look specifically at grades and attendance records, and also listen to recommendations by your teachers. Several friends of mine who also applied were either rejected or put on a wait list for this class, so I'm very pleased.)

In other exciting news, I was informed on Thursday night that I will be graduating early. For my Senior year, school starts in August 2010 and goes through May 2011. A normal Senior would go to school all the way through those months and be done by May. But due to my grades and the credits I will gain in the future, I will graduate in October 2010. This means that I will have no reason to attend the high school during the day from October to May. I will spend the extra time that I'll have working, or possibly going to the community college. My afternoon will, of course, be spent at Tulsa Tech. I'll still walk with my class in May like normal, still be able to attend prom, etc... I just won't attend classes.

I'm so happy with the possibilities this presents me with. I've really taken the initiative to catch up and decide that I want to turn my high school path into something better than what I started out with. I credit my Church and my aunt very much with this change of heart and mind... and look where it's gotten me. :) I'm well on my way to getting a fabulous education that will benefit me for the rest of my life, and I couldn't be happier!

Ciao for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Soul Coughing 5.


Current Music:
Artist: Sufjan Stevens.

Song(s): Come on! Feel the Illinoise!

Album(s): Illinois. (Sometimes referred to as Illinoise.)


Hello again, dear ones.

Today is February 21st 2010. That may not seem like a big deal to any of you... but for me, it actually marks one of the most important days of my life. A year ago today, I was baptized (and the next day confirmed) a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! :) I'm still strong and know that I will never regret this decision. I'm exactly where I need to be in this Church. It's been a wonderful experience so far.

In other news, tonight I'll be on the 10 o'clock news (Channel 6) speaking about budget cuts in education. As we all know, our economy is really struggling right now. A place that is really feeling this is education, but specifically, Alternative education. In the interview, I speak about the importance of Alternative education and how important the program has been in my life, why it has, etc. I also read my letter that I wrote to Senator Dan Newberry and Representative Fred Jordan about this crisis and urge them to refrain from cutting our budget too severely so that we continue what we do. Tomorrow, I'll be going to Oklahoma City with several other students to speak to these Senators and Representatives in person about why it's important to us and urge them further. I'm very excited about this, and have definitely stepped up and taken action to represent our program.

And finally, I'd just like to share a little bit of musical magic with you. :) I have many favorite artists and bands, as we all know. I'm quite a music connoisseur, to say the least. I shared this particular artist with you above as well... but I figured he deserved some more light shone on him. His name is Sufjan Stevens (pronounced Soof-Yawn; Despite his unique name, both he and his parents are American. His Wikipedia article has this information to share on his name: Sufjan is a Persian name that predates Islam and most famously belonged to Abu Sufyan, a figure from early Islamic history. The name was given to Stevens by the founder of Subud, an inter-faith, non-religious spiritual community to which his parents belonged when he was born. The name "Sufjan" means "comes with a sword.") and he's been a favorite of mine since I was fourteen. I discovered him the same day I discovered the equally lovely M. Ward. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and has been making music since a young age. He's known for his use of banjo, flute, piano, violin, drums, and plenty of other instruments; According to Last.FM, he is considered part of the folk revival through indie pop, but his influences are very broad, including experimental electronic music, the jazz of Vince Guaraldi, and the academic minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

Over the summer, I shared his music with Susannah and Amanda, and they fell in love. They still listen to his CD's in the car.
Perhaps one reason why I'm so drawn to him is the fact that he tells stories in his songs... and each one is very influenced by Christ and Christianity in general. In his song To Be Alone With You, he sings about what he would do to be alone with Christ, as well as acknowledging what Christ did for us during the Atonement. (I'll include the lyrics to that song below so you can read.)

I'll share some of my Sufjan Stevens favorites below. Though I love and recommend every one that he’s written, as well as every one I share below, the songs I have italicized are my favorites out of these favorites. :)

Songs from the album Seven Swans:


The Dress Looks Nice on You
To Be Alone With You
He Woke Me Up Again
Seven Swans

Songs from the album Illinois:

Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
Come on! Feel the Illinoise!
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.


Songs from the album The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from Illinois

No Man’s Land


Songs from the album Michigan:

Say Yes! To M!ch!gan!
Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickerel Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)


Songs from the album Michigan (vinyl: disc 2):

(Extra note: This song isn’t really well known at all. But, I love the instrumental aspect of it. I also really love the message he tries to portray to us here.)


Songs from the album Peace! Songs for Christmas Vol. 5

Sister Winter
(Extra note: This is a song he wrote, rather than the covers that he usually sticks with for his Christmas albums. It really doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas at all, actually… mostly winter, as the title indicates, and his emotions in a depressed situation. It’s really raw, and I think many of us could very easily identify with it and how we feel during tough times. Instrumentally, it’s a beautiful mix of piano and violin. His voice is very haunting in this song as well. This is the first Sufjan song I ever heard.. it’s also probably my all time favorite, if I had to pick one. I encourage everyone to listen to it, even if you don’t listen to any of the others.)

The lyrics to To Be Alone With You:
"I'd swim across Lake Michigan,
I'd sell my shoes,
I'd give my body to be back again,
In the rest of the room...
To be alone with you.
To be alone with you.
To be alone with you.
To be alone with you.

You gave your body to the lonely,
They took your clothes.
You gave up a wife and a family,
You gave your ghost...
To be alone with me.
To be alone with me.
To be alone with me,
You went up on a tree.

To be alone with me,
You went up on a tree.

I've never known a man who loved me,
I've never known a man who loved me as you."

I hope you enjoy.

Ta ta for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography.]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Soul Coughing 4.


Current Music:
Artist: Karen O & The Kids.

Song(s): Hideaway.

Album(s): Where The Wild Things Are Soundtrack.


It's Love Day! :)

I lack a Valentine... but I don't mind. I think that's probably a good thing right about now. I haven't been in the best health this weekend, to say the least. I came home from school on Friday, after feeling progressively yuckier and yuckier throughout the day... and I was hit HARD with some sort of stomach virus. Just after walking inside, Eric greeted me, and I could only moan back: "I feel awful."
His next reply was a classic brotherly love: "Awww... did you murder somebody on your way home?"
Normally, I would have laughed. Instead, I rushed for the bathroom in what would be the first of many awful visits throughout the evening. I couldn't even keep water down and my stomach had a horrible pain to it that I've never really had before. Finally, around nine at night, I could keep down some lemon-lime Gatorade. (Maybe not the best drink, but it definitely restores electrolytes and sugars that have been absent from your body thanks to being sick. And it's only when I really need it; Otherwise, it's water when I'm not feeling well.) Anyway. Lemon-lime Gatorade is the magic stuff that my dad has given to me since I was a little girl. He waters it down and it always seems to work wonders. About half an hour after drinking up, I was actually beginning to feel more like a human again. I had been incredibly pale throughout most of the evening - more so than normal - with all color drained from my face. Even my lips lacked their normal, naturally red color. By the time an hour had passed, I was pale no more and could actually get some sleep. I was exhausted.

The sickness has lingered into Saturday, and even a bit into today, Sunday. It's off and on. I still feel pretty tired and definitely don't feel like getting out. However, I'm sure that once school resumes on Tuesday, I'll be peachy keen.

In other news, I visited the Tulsa Technology Center on Thursday with dad. The Lemley campus, on Memorial... and took a tour of the Photography I classroom. I was like a kid in a candy store, I was so excited. They have two darkrooms - one for adding chemicals to process our own film, and the other for developing our own prints. You've seen the latter of those two on crime shows; Characters stick a seemingly blank piece of photo paper in all these chemicals, and then a photo appears, then hang it up to dry or send it through a paper dryer. We'll learn that whole process (but only for black & white film). Color film is just processed and then scanned onto the computer instead of being printed. For digital work, they have two studios. Each studio contains all of the fancy necessities - umbrella lights, backgrounds, etc. When not using studios, we go on field trips to all sorts of places off of campus to capture photos. The last exciting element of the classroom is the ten - soon to be twenty - iMac computers. They have four different editing programs on them, one of them being Photoshop CS3. We will also be taught how to use those correctly.

So, overall, I'm absolutely dying to be a part of this. It's just a matter of waiting for my acceptance or rejection letter. I'm staying positive, but my back up is Culinary Arts, should I not get in. Photography Technology is a class that typically has a long waiting list. However, the points you gain by taking a visit set you apart from others. And there are surprisingly many kids who drop the class before it begins, and therefore, openings become available. I'll know by sometime in March whether or not I need to begin joining another program. Crossing my fingers that I get in. :)

Aloha for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography]

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Soul Coughing 3.


Current Music:
Artist: Iron & Wine.

Song(s): Upward Over The Mountain.

Album(s): The Creek Drank The Cradle.


I don't have a lot to update you on today... but I'm trying to keep consistent with this blog. So, I'll ramble on anyway. :)

Job hunting begins today. I've definitely been putting it off more than I should... but I don't drive. So getting places for work will be a problem. However, we've got a few restaurants that I could basically walk to in ten minutes. So, I'll deal with that for now. I want to start getting some cash flow so I can save up for things like a car and a nice SLR. (And believe it or not, I'd much rather have the SLR. And the sooner the better!)

On Thursday I have an appointment at Tulsa Tech. Center for Photography Technology. I'm really, really, really excited. I want to major in some sort of Photojournalism when I go off to college, so this class will really benefit me. Plus, I'll be able to get the elective credits that I need by going to Tech. So it's a win-win, even if I don't end up sticking with Photojournalism in the end.

I started writing a book of sorts on Sunday. I have an idea that I think could really end up being a fantastic fictional story if I stick with it... and I plan to stick with it. It's centered around the scripture in Alma (Book of Mormon) which says this: "Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness." I was really inspired by that, and my mind just kind of formed this whole plot. I've been writing bits and pieces of it frequently since I first got the idea, and I'm interested in seeing where I go with it.

Anyway. So that's what up for now; Lots of new exciting opportunities and things to start. Hopefully it all goes well!

Goodbye for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Soul Coughing 2.


Current Music:
Artist: Modest Mouse

Song(s): The View

Album(s): Good News For People Who Love Bad News.


Today is the Superbowl. You know, I hate the Superbowl. I really do. Some people might see the positive side of everything that I dislike about the Superbowl, and therefore, disagree with me. But I'm sure there will be a pretty big group of people in the world on my end of the couch, too. ;)

Reasons why I hate the Superbowl:

1. Everyone gets drunk. And when everyone gets drunk, everyone gets loud and ridiculous and obnoxious. And a room full of drunk people is never really a pleasant thing anyway. (At least, not when you're sober... which of course, I am.) And the cleanup of beer cans and bottles is annoying afterward, too. I also don't like excuses to get intoxicated... and I know there's probably a bunch of drunken men somewhere who, if asked why they were drunk today, would loudly bellow: "'Cause it's the Superbowl!!!!"

2. You have to deal with people and family that you may not really want to be around. Now, don't get me wrong. I love my family. I also love any friends that may get comfy on my couch this Sunday or any other Superbowl Sunday that came before this or will come after it. I love company and comradery and being around those you love to be around. But, there are just may be some days I don't want you around or want to be around you. Feel me?

3. I don't like football. I don't really like athletics, period. I don't understand the point of sports and never really have. (If you are a sports lover, I suggest you don't read this one. You'll just end up really hating me. Haha. If you read it anyway, then please refrain from punching me in the face immediately following.)
I don't get the appeal of watching a bunch of people in uniform throw a ball around. I don't think athletes should be paid for running around, tackling, and throwing/catching a ball. It's not a talent... it's not worthy of millions of dollars. It's not worthy of awards or television or publicity. I just... really don't like it. I mean, I *kind of* like baseball. Sometimes. And that's only if I'm in the stadium watching it. I totally love sports if I'm doing that. But I don't do that often. So I don't like sports often.

4. We all stuff our faces. Now, don't get me wrong. If anyone likes - no, adores - food and stuffing their face, it's me. I could eat and eat and eat and eat and EAT! I love veggie trays and Velveeta dip and salsa and chips and sandwiches and sweets or whatever else we serve on Superbowl Sunday. But, there's a downside to having all this food laid out: I will eat too much of it, and a stomachache will follow.

5. Everyone has an excuse to gamble. Everybody places bets. Losing money isn't a good thing. Winning money, however... I can see the appeal. But, eh. I still wouldn't risk it.

Annnnnnnd, because I couldn't leave it out...

Reasons that make the Superbowl slightly, mildly acceptable:

1. The commercials! I've already seen plenty that have made me smile and laugh and all that good, happy stuff. The commercials are definitely great.

2. The music. I like seeing all the different bands and artists sing and so forth.

3. Half-time activities. This one is pretty self-explanatory, don't you think? :)

Au revoir for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography.]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Soul Coughing.


Current Music:
Artist: The Decemberists

Song(s): The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid
& Sixteen Military Wives

Album(s): The Hazards of Love & Picaresque


Oh, gracious. Where do I even begin? Here's what's new.

School basically rules my life. (As it should, I suppose.) I absolutely love the learning situation I'm in though - Jenks Alternative Center was most certainly made for me - even though I thought I would hate it when I first arrived. My friends who go to the high school have lovingly named it, "Street School." I'm constantly pounded with jokes about third-grade level work, nap time, and whatever else they come up with. But truly... it isn't like that. Not at all. They just don't understand it. In fact, I pride myself on going to this school.

Let me let you know what it's like.

Yes, it's true that many of the kids that I go to JAC with are struggling. (But to be honest, what teenager in this generation ISN'T?) Many have children or husbands and wives. Four girls are currently pregnant in the program. Some are here because they got in trouble with the law, some are here because they back talked to teachers or got in fights on the main campus. Or, like me, some are here because they got ill and need to catch up on credits. But, whatever the reason, we're all amazing people anyway. Everyone knows everyone, everyone cares about everyone, and our teachers are the greatest I've ever had. My individual learning style and needs are fully addressed and understood... I get extra help whenever I need it... and my talents are always encouraged and recognized. Sure, we never get assigned homework, but we're doing eighteen weeks (that's 2 semesters, or one school year, on the main high school campus) worth of work in nine weeks. EVERY nine weeks. I'll allow a slight pause here for you to go back over that.

... That's right. We do eighteen weeks worth of work in nine weeks, every nine weeks.

We run on what is called a block system. There are four blocks a year, and each block is nine weeks long. Every block, we are given new classes based on what we need to make up or what credits we may need now or later. For example, this block (Block 3 of 4) I'm taking United States History, Environmental Science II, Yearbook/Photography, Personal Finance, and APLUS... which is an online class that is just electives. (I just finished Humanities I and am now taking Art Appreciation in the APLUS program.) I've already taken US History & Environmental Science II, but because an Incomplete went into the gradebook for them, I'm retaking them. I would never have this privilege at the high school.

And on the side, I'm a part of the leadership program. We also do a lot of charity work at JAC, like the canned food drive in Thanksgiving for families who can't afford a Thanksgiving dinner, and we spend a whole day at Salvation Army during the Christmas season sorting through gifts for the Angel Tree.

We're definitely a one-of-a-kind program and I love it to death. :)

Anyway, onto other news:

Here's some of my current favorites and fascinations:

Explanation: I encourage everyone with an inner cook to check out these recipes... this woman is genius! She has recipes for everything under the sun, and has high quality photos of every step. She's also very, very funny. I was flattered when a friend told me recently that we have really similar diction.

Explanation: 1000 Awesome Things is just a time-ticking countdown of 1000 awesome things. Launched a few months ago and updated every weekday. Everything he posts is witty, rolling on the floor laughing funny, and so very true!

Explanation: Allen, Texas photographer who takes stunning photos. He pairs his remarkable editing skills with interesting, beautiful, sometimes silly, smile-forming, head-turning, thinking-worthy concepts. He's been my favorite for several years. I'll be posting one of his images at the end of each and every one of my posts. Click to enlarge them!

Adios for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography]