January 30th, 2014



Lesson of the week: a rabbit hole can take many different shapes.

When my friend Sarah (responsible for my purchase of the A Beautiful Mess app) announced that she would need mix CDs for her cross-country road trip, she had no idea that she was essentially throwing on a pair of White Rabbit bunny ears. I told her I’d like to help out and planned to make her a little assortment of what’s on my current playlist. “From you in particular,” she said, “I’d like a 90s mega mix. I feel like you’d be really good at that.”




Down the rabbit hole I fell.

Now, the first thing you should know is that I was an over-achiever in the 90s. And the next thing you should know is that, unlike the babydoll dresses, my over-achievement didn’t start and end in the 90s. Remember how I functioned on over-drive when I was building the Hill Center store? Remember how I was up on the scaffolding graffiti-tagging the wall and zipping over to 12South for our moving sale and loading antique pinball machines into the back of a truck? All in the same day? And loving every minute of it?

Building the 90s mega mix for Sarah is JUST LIKE THAT.

It has consumed me and given my days new purpose. I quickly learned that a mere sampling of the 90s was not something I could deliver. It needed structure and depth, so I began the research and revisting. I sorted through the boxes of CDs stored in my childhood bedroom, encountered old friends, and had to will myself away from distraction by anything recorded after 2000. My desk is now flooded with notes and resurrected relics of a life I had packed away decades ago. Even my outfits are becoming music inspired:


{Sonic Youth, blue suede shoes, Phoenix; you get it.}

So, the only answer was to expand the project and journey farther down the hole. The one-disc mix found a Wonderland “Eat Me” cake and grew larger and larger. I thought about different groupings for the CDs: things we now talk about nostalgically as our favorite 90s music because it makes us seem cooler vs. things we were ACTUALLY listening to in the 90s (yes, I went to Lilith Fair). And do we make an entirely separate CD for the ska moment that happened in the mid-90s?

The history is overwhelming me, so I’ve decided to let it guide the way instead. Sometimes the easiest answer is simplicity: do a chronological study. Instead of telling Sarah what to think about the 90s or imposing my personal experience and judgment upon her, I’m sending her off with a 10-disc set that takes her on a chronological voyage from 1990 to 1999.

A week of unwavering focus and 10+ hours of your favorite sounds seem like a lot to deliver to a friend at her going-away party, but the truth is 1) that’s just how I do, and 2) she has given me so much more. Sure, she had no idea she was doing it, but she gave me back my rabbit hole. She reminded me that when I fall, I fall hard. And she reminded me that I love the intensity and singularity of my type of fall.

So, right now I’m listening to 1996:


So far, it’s my favorite, but I think I’ve said that about every year. And I hope I don’t stop.

Posted at 11:11 am by rachel in: After Wonderland

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