Music to Jet To: 12 Albums to Download Before Your Next Flight (date, or dinner party…)

Old Fashioned Music Player Illustration by Cristian Amoretti on Shutterstock

One of my favorite things about traveling is the time spent in that anonymous-yet-familiar place high above the clouds. I get some of my best writing and reflection done at 35,000 feet – earphones on, journal out. And even though I’m no music expert, having good tunes on my iPod is critical to getting me into the groove. These are some of my go-tos when it comes to travel music (if there is such a thing). They also happen to be excellent tunes for working, lounging, entertaining, and just about anything that needs a mellow-but-rhythmic soundtrack: (In order from slowest to fastest.)

  1. Gem Club, Breakers – Slow, moody and dark. Love this album for writing to. 
  2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver – If you don’t know Bon Iver, please just download. 
  3. The National, High Violet – Dark, soft, indie rock.
  4. Angus & Julia Stone, Down the Way – Julia Stone is my favorite artist right now. Her music is airy, light and soulful.
  5. Massive Attack, Heligoland – The original trip-hop group delivers electronica at its finest in this beautiful and delicate album.
  6. Frank Ocean, Orange – Soulful R&B with a dash of synth.
  7. The xx, Coexist – Indie electronic/dream-pop.  The xx is one of those bands that you either get or you don’t. In my opinion they are one of the greatest groups of our generation, and this album might even be better than their first.
  8. Waldeck, Ballroom Stories – Jazzy, swingy, soulful R&B. Great for dinner parties.
  9. Best of Hôtel Costes by Stephanè Pompougnac – I have almost all of the Costes albums after hearing one at the hotel in Paris. This compilation features latin infused and electronic beats.
  10. Cat Power, Sun – Cat creates her own brand of magical indie pop with this soothing, upbeat album.
  11. Chromatics, Kill for Love – Where do I begin? The Chromatics are another favorite group of mine but they’re not for the faint of heart. Best described as dark, electro-pop-slash-disco, this album includes a remake of Neil Young’s Into the Black.
  12. Miike Snow, Miike Snow – Indie electronic. Another album that will go down as one of the best of our time; Miike snow perfectly balances rock, pop and electronic.
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Climb… Is all we know.

It’s been nearly 12 years since I left California for New York. 13 years since the days when my friends and I would drive to the top of Skyline Drive in Cowan Heights to escape whatever it was that we wanted to escape that day: school, work, family, boyfriends, whatever. We used to sneak into an abandoned mansion at the top of the hill, share stories, dreams… bottles of Boone’s.

Now, more than a dozen years later, there’s another mansion being erected on the property and another generation of dreamers parking along the cliffside shoulder.

Cowan Heights View, by Meagan Kirkpatrick

View from Cowan Heights overlooking Irvine / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

I’ve always had a thing for heights. I’ve been taking flying trapeze classes for years and one of my favorite things to do is to stare out of airplane windows at the cities below. There’s just something so soothing and intoxicating about looking down at the world – at the days passed – and reflecting in a place that’s both familiar and anonymous.

Reflecting on the Past, Photos by Meagan KirkpatrickI can’t help but wonder though, why is it that we humans feel the need to look to the past for answers about the future? It’s like an invitation to carry all that weight with you wherever you go.

When I’m feeling deep and reflective, Bon Iver is at the top of my playlist. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to his self-titled album this week. Wash is one of my favorite tracks and the lyrics are the perfect companion for a skyline view.

Wash. Bon Iver

The trouble with facebook (abridged)…

…and blogs, and twitter, and instagram.

There could be an entire degree dedicated to the study of social media – what it means for society and how it affects us. But rather than attempt to get into that here, I’ll try and keep this focused on the debate about what people share on social and why.

After spending the last few years overseeing Social Media for one of the world’s coolest tech companies (IMO), what I do believe is that social media plays to attributes that were already in us: the need to be creative, the desires for affection and recognition, and to share and be social. And with all of these exciting new ways to express ourselves, we’ve become infinite storytellers of our own lives.

My instagram feed - the good stuff

The good side of my instagram feed. If only this were the whole story my life would be full of roses, wine & cupcakes.

But what happens when your social circle or people connected to you in various channels pick up only pieces of the story you’re telling? Or worse, when they compare the bits and pieces they know about your life to their own whole reality? Is there really a thing called Facebook depression?!

As a frequent recipient of the “I want your life!” email, tumblr, facebook, twitter or instagram message, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this. Especially as I feel like I’ve faced a wrath of personal challenges and depression over last 6 months and no one seemed to notice. Turning inward (where us closet introverts often turn for answers), I started looking at what I shared and why I shared certain things. Sure, go ahead and call this narcissism if you want. I prefer to call it self-reflection. Either way, I think the answer I came up with can apply to a vast number of people.

First let me clarify that anyone who knows me well knows that my life is far from perfect. But the thing about all these social networks is that in our effort to be expressive, share the beautiful things, the extraordinary, and the irreverent, sometimes we end up painting a picture of a life far more perfect than reality. Perhaps it’s intentional for some, but perhaps for others it’s just a coping mechanism: a way for us to focus on the good moments so that all of the other stuff feels less real – less permanent. 

There’s an age old belief that “history is written by the winner.” Now it seems it’s written by the creator.

My instagram feed - the not-so-good stuff

The not-so good side of my instagram: Hurricanes, power outages, and painful mistakes.

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A day on Rodeo.

Chanel Rodeo Drive
Today I drove my mom to LA so she could coach her University of Michigan EMBA students. She’s still healing from her surgery, so she isn’t suppose to drive. But she can coach. Clearly workaholism is in our genes.

Driving her meant I could spend the day working from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Yes, the same Beverly Wilshire that Pretty Woman was filmed at.

L.A. is a funny place. (This is a topic I could create an entire blog for, but I’ll try to keep it simple here.) With all of its ambition, New York still has a warmth about it even in the ritziest places. This is not the case in L.A. 

One example: The concierge refused to check my bag for me because we weren’t “guests” of the hotel (we were actually, we just didn’t have our room yet). Then she proceeded to give me attitude about where I would be working from. Only in L.A. would someone working for you treat you with more condescension than someone you work for.

I suppose I shouldn’t generalize to all of L.A., though. There are definitely things that I love. It feels like a fairytale land for starters: the streets of Beverly Hills are immaculate and whimsical, and two, there’s some amazing people watching. Nowhere else in the world will you see an 85-year old woman wearing 8″ YSL stilettos, carrying a teacup pomeranian in an $19,000 Hermes Berkin bag. My green suede Louboutin’s paled in comparison.

You are already naked.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at UCI Cancer Center. It’s 10:49am; she should be out in an hour. There are pink ribbon gel gems on the windows, and a basket of “les fleurs” on the counter. It feels warmer than I’d imagined it would be.

I flew in from New York yesterday. Arriving just before her cut off for food intake, so we devoured a variety of Gummy Pandas I had picked up at JFK. Blueberry Acai was my favorite, hers was lemon ginger.

I cried when they told me they would give her the cadillac margarita of anesthesia.
“You only have one mom,” the doctor said as she carted mine away.

If you subscribe to the belief that challenges are what lead to growth, I should be six feet tall after the last two years. Instead I feel so fragile in this moment. Maybe I’m starting to realize that all of this stuff – all of this ambition – is just a coping mechanism. A way to artificially defend against the things I can’t control. Or maybe she’s just the greatest human being who’s ever lived.

Let’s forget all the things that we say.

Girl Shatters into Dust, by Shutterstock photographer Aleshyn Andrei
My mother tells me 90% of our thoughts are repetitive. Guess that explains why I keep rehashing everything about the last year and a half. All the things that were said. Not said.

Apparently thirty isn’t as wise as I hoped it would be. But I guess the truth always finds a way out, and when it does, there aren’t so many questions.

Let’s forget all the things that we say. (Julia Stone)

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