Courtney Recommends: “Movies” by Weyes Blood

I don’t want to think about the numbers — statistics, projections, graphs, charts, models. It’s easy for my mind to get lost in a numerical rabbit hole in a ceaseless seeking of the latest data. I go through spurts of refreshing news pages, watching livestreams from government officials, waiting for the daily updates of numbers on my state’s dashboard. It’s as if my mind finds it difficult to determine the difference between being well-informed and allowing myself to become a sponge for all of the information I can find. Sometimes I have more than I can hold, more than I can sit with, more than I can fathom.

I try to look away, but then I’m caught in the whirling vortex of social media, where I’m bombarded by conspiracy theories, the thoughts and opinions of acquaintances I would have been much happier not reading, and videos from woefully out-of-touch celebrities.

Social media often makes me feel even more isolated, less connected. I deactivate my accounts, delete the apps, and go dark for a while. I seek a more potent distraction from the world outside. Maybe I pick up the pen. Maybe it’s my headphones or the remote. Maybe it’s a book. Maybe I dive back into The Sims 4. However I choose to do it, investing my time and energy in a world or experience outside of my own can act as a mental reset. It feels good to get lost inside a narrative I’m in control of rather than numbers and reactions I’m powerless over. I’m reminded of these lines from “Movies” by Weyes Blood, a song from Titanic Rising about the power of stories and escapism:

I know the meaning

I know the story

I know the glory

I love movies.

When I come back down to reality, it’s important to remember that while I may feel powerless, there are parts of my personal narrative that I can control. We all have stories to share — what will they be?

(Song recommendation by Courtney Skaggs)

Jeanne Recommends: “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” by Johnny Cash

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad
So I had one more for dessert
Then I fumbled in my closet for my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt
And I shaved my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day…

I looked over at my mother from the front passenger seat of our Volvo station wagon and noticed the corners of her mouth as they flicked upward in a smile. I giggled.

“Cleanest dirty shirt…?!” I repeated, marveling at Kris Kristofferson’s nonsensical lyric. I was nine or ten years old and still too innocent to have latched onto the line about beer for breakfast. Mom and I were out running errands in our still new-ish family car, which she and my father had bought after our ancient blue Ford Country Squire had finally quit running. The new car had come equipped with air conditioning and a cassette deck, both of which felt luxurious at the time.

When my parents were both in the car, they listened to Victory At Sea or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Sometimes they would listen to Peter, Paul, and Mary or Roger Whitaker, but Johnny Cash was always reserved for when my mother had the car to herself. Years later, she confided that my father hated country music, snobbishly associating it with “white trash” and “redneck” types. Despite the thinly-veiled insult — my mother’s ancestral line includes many Florida farmers and cattle ranchers — she never abandoned her love affair with the genre. And the singer I remember her loving the most was always Johnny Cash.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Cash, too. I have my own memories associated with The Man In Black, but the most vivid one is the melancholy smile that spread across my mother’s face any time she heard “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.”

On the Sunday morning sidewalk
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned
’Cause there’s something in a Sunday
Makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
Half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleeping city sidewalks
Sunday morning coming down

My mother passed down to me the twin tendencies to love without reservation and to grieve in silence, too. And this song remains one of the ways I hold space for our powerful love and sorrow without ever having to say a word.


(Song recommendation by Jeanne Sharp)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.11, B-Side 11

Rear View Mirrors by Steve Merino

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Steve Merino is a Zamboni driver, a meat raffle host, an essayist, and poet living in Saint Paul, MN. He holds an MFA from Hamline University and edits poetry for Red Bird Chapbooks. His work has appeared in Oyster River Pages and Shark Reef.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.11, B-Side 10

Rain Dogs in November by Ethan Milner

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Ethan Milner is a writer and a Clinical Social Worker in Oregon, practicing psychotherapy at a school for youth with special needs. His work has most recently appeared in Cotton Xenomorph, The Scores, and Five: 2: One. His poetry has also recently appeared in the anthologies “No Tender Fences: An Anthology of Immigrant & First-Generation American Poetry to Benefit RAICES-TEXAS,” and “Spectral Lines: Poems About Scientists.” He can be found on Twitter @confident_memes and at

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.11, B-Side 08

All That I Can See by Molly McCarron

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Molly McCarron lives in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Minola Review and Hinterland. She loves writing about music and how it connects us to memories.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.11, B-Side 06

Birds and Ships by Jenn McManus-Goode

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Jenn McManus-Goode is a writer, public relations professional, slow fat athlete, mix-tape junkie, and all-around feminist killjoy. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and children.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.11, B-Side 05

Take Me Home, Country Roads by Beth Kanter

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Beth Kanter’s essays and articles have appeared in a range of national newspapers, magazines, and online publications including the Chicago Tribune, Parents, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Paste, The Kitchn, Kiwi, American Baby, Curbed, and Shape. Her latest book No Access DC was recently released from Globe Pequot Press and is her sixth book about Washington, DC. Her other books include Great Food Finds and Washington DC’s Chef Table. Beth also earned her MSJ from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and, when not writing, leads narrative writing workshops.