A Scary Case of the Jingles

So far, I’ve explained my musical journey up to the point where I selected Nashville as a place to live. You know I want to write songs and break out of my opera mold. I moved to Tennessee in February 2016, and now I have a guitar called George. I’ll catch back up to the story, but I’m due for some musings.

As I’ve begun to dabble in songwriting, I’ve discovered a side effect that has possessed me like an unforgivable disease. This disease I call the “Jingles”.


What are the “Jingles”, you ask? Symptoms of this plague include:

  1. Trying to turn everything you do into a song.
  2. Constantly rhyming words with other words. Birds. Heards. Curds. —-AHHHHHH it’s happening again!!!
  3. Creating voice memos of wordless, melody-less, nonsense.

At best, the Jingles can unleash a creative monster, and lead to the makings of true art. At worst, the Jingles are like babysitting a 10 year old who just drank a 2-liter of caffeinated soda, unsupervised. See manic (adj.) 


I recently discovered that I have 52 [saved] voice memos. Those are just the ones I kept. In this cyber-pile of noise I found some prime examples of the Jingles. By that I mean I found some gawd-awful, incriminating recordings of myself singing complete nonsense. Allow me to embarrass myself by giving you a listen into 4 of the lowest moments on my voice memos…..

Let’s start with this fake country twang:

Then the pathetic “he didn’t text back” song:

Literally too tired to be doing this:

And — the holy $h*# — OUCH, my ears! moment:



Guys, I told you it wasn’t pretty! But that’s what a case of the Jingles will do to you. Blue. Grew. New. AHHH not the rhyming again!!!!!



In addition to the painful noises I just filled your ears with, I was surprised to find there were actually a couple good recordings. With a little work, I could turn out a song or two from bunch! It is reassuring to know that even if some ideas are bad ones, at least they are in motion. As evil and haunting as the Jingles are, they definitely keep the momentum going. Flowing n’ growing. Reaping n’ sewing. Raking n’ mowing. Windy n’ blowing—



Okay, fine, I’ll stop.

Cheers! To hiding behind the computer….because I would never play those clips for anyone in person….







George & The Toolbox

Every year, a dear friend and I get together to talk about New Year’s goals. “Making music” in some form or fashion has been on my list for at least 5 years. Several have passed with nothing to show for it, other than a reserved spot on my next New Year’s list. Facing another year of failure in 2015, I took a long hard look in my metaphorical tool kit.



^^internet toolbox kid looks like a babysitting nightmare…lol

My musical toolkit included:

  1. 10 years of classical vocal training. My hammer & nails.
  2. A basic understanding of piano, at a 6th grade level (Damn 15 year old rebellious Caroline for quitting!)
  3. A performing history including high school theater, pageants, National Anthem gigs, karaoke, etc.
  4. A handful of voice memos in my phone of myself singing or trying out my own melodies.
  5. A little cash money. (Money is always a tool. lol)


If I was going to really make some music, I figured I needed to do what the music makers do. This toolbox needed some help. There is a reason Country Opera isn’t a thing. The piano felt like an old enemy. Karaoke does not count, no matter how many Bud Light’s you’ve had.

I deferred to #5. I bought a guitar.


Meet George. (I didn’t name him, my dad did)


I bought George at a music store in Des Moines, Iowa on a cold, icy day in December. I was nervous to go in the store. I knew nothing, and I hate making eye contact with overly-friendly salespeople. Ugh. I knew what I had to do. Inside the modest store, guitars were hung on the wall and lined a corner section. A sanctuary of rock n’ roll fantasy. The instruments twinkled with fresh varnish. It was dazzling.


I asked for help. Fortunately, the guy was nice, and not scary. He looked like a guy who listened to a lot of classic rock. He wore a newsie hat and had a goatee. He didn’t try to oversell me. We decided on a Breedlove that had a tuner built in and a place to plug a cord for an amp (for when I play on stage of course…#butterflies). I picked up a guitar beginner’s book and a 4-chord song book and went to the register. He threw in some guitar picks…cool. 

I drove home through the snowy Iowa suburbs with my new toys and closed myself in my room. I was a child again. I unzipped the fabric casing and pulled out the shiny piece of musical architecture. My first pickings were soft and calculated as I re-tuned. I felt the depth of tone and thickness of chords as I plinked unrhythmic patterns. As I grew more confident, I unleashed violent strums just to feel the power. It wasn’t pretty, but, damn, it was satisfying.


My fingertips became sore.  I stopped for the day. I looked at George, my missing piece. It was apparent I had a long way to go.

In the days following, I formed calluses on my fingertips and learned how to play a couple 4-chord country tunes. It became clear as I strummed the Southern tunes that I wasn’t ready for the $3000 apartments and endless train commutes of NYC. I wanted to be where the music is. I needed more tools in my toolbox.

I made the announcement to my family and friends– next stop: Nashville.


Me too, Deacon. Me too.

Cheers! To George, ear-splitting chords, and what is to come.






Woozy Birds and Sassy Shoulder Angels

Have you ever seen a bird fly directly into a window? BAM! You are minding your own business when you hear a jolting thunk slap a silly ball of feathers to the ground.

I feel you, bird.


Sometime in January I hit the metaphorical glass — which I have since diagnosed as my comfort zone. And Ow– I flew right into my confidence boundaries.

6 months ago I said I was to “finally” get on with my next season of this blog. I said I was “back”, “ready”, etc. And I then I got scared. Not lazy – truly, I can’t tell you how many drafts of this blog I have discarded over the months. I got scared the blog magic was gone. I got scared that I would regret my decision to be transparent now that I’m in a more professional role. I got scared that I was starting to get too old to be a “dorky chick”… the mountain of micro-anxieties piled up.UPXbmm9.png

Well bullshittery is over. I’m not that special, I’m not that prophetic, and I’m not that old. And apparently I needed to remind myself of that! Time to fly over the glass and not into it. Here it goes–

My confession:

I want to make a musical project. I want to use my Dorky Chick e-journal and take a diversion from fashion and glamour and listen to the melodic whispers in my head. I want to play, write, and share music. Mostly, just to see what if it’s fun. I think it will be.

There, I said it. Phew.


Lately I’ve been caught up in chasing “adulthood”. With that A-word comes implied pragmatism. Instead of daydreams, I’m debating salmon or chicken for dinner. Instead of  late night writing sessions, I’m worrying about full REM cycles.

The angel and devil on my shoulders have been in the biggest battle for creativity I can remember. 


Fortunately, my shoulder angel is a sassy broad that wears bright colors, sings loudly, and isn’t afraid to play in the rain. And she has finally marched her tiny, fluffy purple slippers over my head and pushed my grey,  whiney shoulder devil clean off of my 5’7” frame. No more of this creativity naysaying!


Double confession:

I’ve secretly been working on this musical transformation for a little while now. Somewhere along the line I bought a guitar, enlisted some help, and even wrote a couple tunes. I kinda think I’m on to something. It makes me feel like this:


^Sadly, that is not me, but is more like my reigning spirit animal.

There is plenty of story yet to tell and future story to make. It is so easy to get caught up trying to do all of the societal maintenance (make money, make friends, make food, etc.) that somehow feeling artistically expressive doesn’t feel like a priority. For some people it isn’t! (That’s okay, too!) But for this Dorky Chick it is a huge priority. It doesn’t matter if you hit the glass, get back up!

Sassy shoulder angel says so. 


Cheers, friends– to a new groove!




**Note, this blog post contains no GIFs because this internet is moving too slow and life is too short for me to wait any more time to post. Memes were the best I could do, please don’t leave me. (dramatic, longing sobs) Thank you for your time.**


Paperback Pharmacy: A Note on Self-Improvement

I don’t know about you, but I want to be freakin’ awesome.

I don’t always feel freakin’ awesome.  January resolution season always reminds me of the distance between myself and alternate-reality-freakin’-awesome me. She’s off in some parallel universe simultaneously eating vegetables and kickboxing while on bluetooth closing sales deals. Late? Never. Selfish? Not that saint. Bad jokes? Still gets raucous laughter.


If you are looking for me this month, I’m usually in the self-improvement section of Barnes & Noble. I basically shop for books like I’m at a pharmacy. What will it be this time: productivity boosters or spirit supplements…..

There are three books right now that I’m using to medicate my manic millennial mind.

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1) The Social Organism by Michael J. Casey  & Oliver Luckett – Call it a perspective enhancer. This book is a ‘theory of everything’. It takes a look at technology as being as alive as we are. This book is an excellent conversation piece. Essentially a giant metaphor, it illustrates the contagion of ideas and makes bold prophecies about what the future holds for mankind. I recommend for anyone who likes getting into debates with friends. It does get a little political at times, but if you brush that aside, the overall idea will make anyone go “huh!”. Check it out here.


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2) Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker – This is like  a wheatgrass shot of awareness for the workplace. A quick read, it talks about finding one’s own work style. Do you learn by doing or writing or perhaps talking? Are you meant to be a decision-maker or a persuader? I recommend for anyone who can write a to-do list but not finish it. Interested? Click.



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3) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – A creativity laxative-er-relaxer. One of my dear friends texted me to recommend and an hour later it was in my hot little hands. Any book that believes magic is real is a book for me. Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, does a lovely job of bringing her gentle, delighting approach to self-reflection. She playfully begs you to give your inner artist a chance to flourish. I recommend for anyone who thinks they “used” to be creative. Link to book.




Enjoy these brain snacks. Each book is totally different, but all three ask the reader to learn something about themselves. Each seems to hold secrets to the parallel universe of freakin’ awesomeness.

Cheers! To Vitamin B[ooks].

– Caroline

P.S. If you are crazy enough to try one, please let me know!!

Juice Cleanse Blog: Metamorphosis of a Turbo Ninja Diva

8:30 A.M. – Drive to Juice Nashville and pick up 18 bottled liquids and reusable insulated tote. The juicery is modern and white on the inside, like something out of a sci-fi movie. The lone millennial employee tells me I can eat raw solid foods if I’m feeling compromised. I say “okay, cool” and smile. But on the inside I know I’m not a wuss. I WILL BE STRONG.


9:00 A.M. – Arrive home. Line ’em up. Decide to start with the one that looks least appetizing. Apple lemon cayenne. Tastes like spicy apple juice. I feel like my face is sweating for a couple minutes. Is this a ripoff? Idk. I start typing this blog.


3:00 P.M. Feeling a little juicy, I crack open the raw, chocolate almond milk that is 1 of my 6 daily bottles. It tastes dreamy and breaks up the monotony.

5:00 P.M. Really uneventful day. I feel fine, but have been pretty sedentary. Just dumping juices into my body.

9:00 P.M. I drink the last juice. My day was great. I am not in the personal hell feared by many. All of the juices are so sweet, it is like I am drinking mocktails all day. Question: is this insane amount of sugar okay?

Day 2:

New Year’s Eve! Still totally fine, aside from being a little brain-foggy. I saw a couple friends for catch-up sessions and felt like I was only 80% present. Doesn’t feel like magic yet, just a lotttt of sweet liquid.

10 p.m. Bedtime for me. Maybe I’ll catch midnight next year. Feeling more zen already.

Day 3:

9 a.m. Leisurely morning. Apathetic about the juices, and not noticeably different, but whatever just one more day. 

12 p.m. Aaaand then it got real. I feel hungover but I haven’t drank a drop. All of the side effects are kicking in. Sour attitude, longing for solid food, fatigue. I’m in the final inning, though. I can’t give up. 4 juices down today, 2 to go. The cold-pressed chocolate almond milk revives me… kinda. Must stop writing because it is making me even more annoyed at the world. iuehriuwrcesico23q87q8yreius23p958ys

7 p.m. I am not feeling so miserable. I take a fancy bath soak. I read an introspective book. I get a swell of energy and apologize to my best friend for snapping at her earlier.


Day 4– back on real food:

8 a.m. I wake up. Because the holiday was on Sunday, we have Monday off. First thing I do? Eat, duh. 1 egg, 1/3 avocado, 1/2 grapefruit. I try to keep it really small, knowing there may be a reentry period. So far so great, and I wasn’t hungry afterwards. I go for a walk near the Nashville Parthenon and get coffee.


10 a.m. Return from my walk, and immediately start singing around the house. (Constant singing is probably #1 reason I choose to live alone– ex-choir kid has to get her kicks somehow, amiright??) As I’m getting warmed up into my voice, it sounds better than normal. I can always gauge my health by how my voice is sounding. If it is that time of the month or I am tired or if I have an illness coming on, I’ll know by how free my tone sounds. I felt so electric, I gave my unsuspecting neighbors a full diva showcase.


Maybe it was the endorphins from finally walking. Maybe it was the caffeine. Maybe it was the relief from drowning my stomach in pools of liquid. I felt incredible. And, it has continued through the week. I even tweeted Juice Nashville to let them know I felt like a turbo ninja. Sure, juice cleanses have reputations for making people brag about how amahhhzing they feel, but the best way I can describe it is that I felt alert and in tune with my body. The idea of a cocktail sounded like something that would slow me down instead of calm me down. Endorphins from my walk felt sweeter than normal in my rested body.

Overall, I loved it. I didn’t have to cook for 3 days. I felt energized for 2017. I shed some holiday bloat. And I tried something I’d wanted to for awhile. *self high five*

Cheers! To starting the new year like a turbo ninja diva. 




Dorky Chick in Nashville: Hey Y’all

Sigh. Tikka tikka. *delete* Tikka tikka tikka. *delete, delete* I missed that soft, unrhythmic percussion of my thoughts leaking onto the internet. Can you believe it has been a year since last we met?

After concluding my final post by clinking cyber glasses to 2016, I disappeared into blogging oblivion. I fell out of love with my craft. I shut the blog down, deleted all the videos, and even cancelled the domain. I wanted to move past the quirky show-and-tell of my early twenties. I was in search of a slick new identity, something evolved. I experimented with a couple writing projects privately, but nothing stuck. And then that damn voice started talking to me again– the one that belongs to a girl with fire-engine red hair and ruthless daydreams. I couldn’t let her go again, so I’m back. 


Where to start? A recap?

If this blog were broken into seasons, Season 1 would be all about Portland and fashion and finding my voice. In the pilot episode, I dyed my hair cherry red and said good-bye to an old me. I blogged about design classes, outfits, fashion designers, and personal projects. The climax was being an insider VIP host at FashioNxt, Portland’s Premier Fashion Week, and having a brief internship with Project Runway winner, Michelle Lesniak.


Season 2  I set my sights on writing for Cosmopolitan magazine and chronicled two trips to Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Life conference in New York City. Then there was a sudden move out of Portland and classic bleach/chop/life-change haircut. The season finale was the unique privilege of having an article published on the Cosmpolitan website, through their short-lived contributor network “The Mix”. You can view it here.

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I intend to blog in the present, but I ought to fill you in on 2016.

Season 3– This would be the season that only aired on an obscure cable network, but is important to the plot. In episode 1, I am watching Netflix in my pj’s. It is noon on a Thursday. I’m spending a lot of time googling Manhattan apartments. Bored, I text my dear friends who live in Nashville, Tennessee and ask, “if I got in my car and drove 10 hours to see you, could I stay on your couch for the weekend?” 10 hours later, they hand me a beer. 10 days later, I finally return home. 10 weeks later, I put my life in my car and drive south–one way. (End scene.)


10 months later, and I just received my Tennessee license in the mail, y’all! If I was still growing, I would be a foot taller. I am a saleswoman with an office. I live in a beautiful apartment with amenities. I have seen more live music in a single year than I had seen in my lifetime. And in between the scheduled things, I learned a hellova lot about starting over, companionship, family, weakness, workplace, music, the human spirit, politics, and even BBQ.

The season finale is clinking flutes of cold pressed juice instead of champagne. Confident that I met my alcohol quota for 2016, I opted for a zen NYE. No sequins,  no bar tabs, and no hangover (woo!). Just clarity, friendship, and optimism. Change is a good thing. 

I’ve holed up in my apartment with laptop open, cruising into 2017 by way of mellow tikka tikka tikka on the keyboard. What will Season 4 be about? There will be more YOLO-ing. There will be more creative projects.  I will continue to chronicle the absurdity of adulthood, and I’ll try and infect you with some of the inspiration that has infected me.


Cheers, friends! To the voices in our head, the art of identity, and Music City, USA.



Happy, Cheesy, Beautiful, New Year

Recently I went to Nashville and New Orleans! Nashville is amazing, blah blah. And New Orleans? Blah blah, it was also amazing.


What’s the story here?

I hope you aren’t vegan because it is about to get cheesy.

In the spirit of being transparent: my track record doesn’t exactly make me a crusader in finding inner beauty. (The whole pageant thing, working at a makeup company, and having a blog with ‘lipstick’ in the title… need I say more?)  In light of my recent travels I was reminded of just how it feels hitting the open road makeup-free, wearing yesterday’s clothes, and having no idea what the next destination looks like. It is a kind of thrill that makes a person like me forget the the relevance of lipstick. The trip reminded me what “beauty” really feels like.

This will probably be my last post of 2015, so consider this my holiday greeting to you:

May you find yourself in clothes that need washing, shoes that are comfier than bare feet,  wind to mess up your hair, friends to pour the champagne, and food to take off your lipstick. May you feel beautiful as you are, and may you carpe the damn diem.


Cheers- to the best moments of the old year. On with the new!


Upd8 + How I Got That Article Published

Where did we leave off? Oh yeah– NYC.

I’m still slap-happy and broke after my NYC trip, but life didn’t slow down. I met a friend in Puerto Vallarta for my first trip to Mexico/Margaritaville. I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and friends, and even had a visitor! My dear friend Zach, who I met in OR, is living in Illinois, and made the 5 hour trek to spend some time in Des Moines. Good times were had. After that I made some progress on getting some work in Des Moines, and did a massive room cleaning session — to include getting caught up on 2 seasons of Orange is the New Black. I’m sort of just floating out here having fun as I cross my fingers and row towards what looks like an island in the distance.

Just when I thought I was doomed to live the rest of my life throwing away hoarded tchotchkes of my youth, the universe gave me a little gift. I had an article published on Cosmopolitan.com!


I’m guessing if you are reading this, then you are probably my Facebook friend and I already shoved this down your throat. (Sorry about being crazy excited…. nope, actually. Not sorry.) If not, you can read it here .

What does this mean? How did this happen? Who did I bribe?


What it means? Just that my article was circulated online for all Cosmopolitan.com readers to see and I even got a little lunch money for my work. It happened because I found out about a way to freelance through Hearst while I was at the Fun Fearless Life conference a few weeks ago. I applied with a few writing samples and they accepted my material! I then worked off of a list of desired prompts and found the one that was most fitting: “I was briefly famous”. I wrote the piece, submitted my work, and BOOM. I saw my name on my favorite publication’s website. It doesn’t mean that I officially write for Cosmo or that I’ve got a full blown career going, but it did give me a much-needed confidence boost. It is a baby step, with a big ol’ baby.


Cheers! And thanks! To you, the reader. For reading my diary and keeping me motivated all the way to Cosmo.  ❤


Cosmopolitan is Amazing [Again] + 5 Things NYC Taught Me [This Time]

I just woke up from a mind-blowing 14 hour sleep after returning from a weekend with my city crush, New York City, and already I think I am ready for a nap.


My catalyst for travel was Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Fun Fearless Life conference. I attended the inaugural event last year, and found it worth another pilgrimage.


(Cosmopolitan.com Editor, Amy Odell and a conference-goer to my left. Don’t they totally look like they are dishing on an amazing outfit across the room? Lol)

Over the course of 8 hours at the Hearst Tower, celebrity speakers led by Editor-in-Chief, Joanna Coles, used their charisma to dazzle a room full of mid-twenties women hungry to get closer to knowing what a dream job tastes like. This year’s lineup of stardom included a few names such as Chelsea Handler, Laverne Cox, Aliza Licht, Stacey London, and Ivanka Trump. Each one had something quotable to say about a different facet of 21-century female ass-kickery. During breaks, Cosmo editors floated around in matching “Fearless” shirts graciously making small talk and accepting the wannabe’s business cards. Photo-op ready installations were at every turn. Maybelline makeup artists were lined up in a mock dressing room swiping powders on the wide-eyed event goer’s cheeks. The day ended with a red-or-white wine bar and sequin-clad DJ cocktail party. At this time, guests could make those last minute card swaps and maybe catch a selfie with an event speaker. ((I may or may not have gotten mine with smokeshow dating expert Matthew Hussey. Obviously. ))


Just as I was about to leave the building (or collapse in need of a slice of pizza), I stopped to say hi to a couple more of the ladies in the “Fearless” t-shirts. Once they heard I was from Iowa their eyes lit up and they said “well you have to meet one of our editors– she is from Iowa!” They called over an infectiously high-energy woman named Leslie Yazel, who I had seen interviewing a speaker earlier. We snapped a pic and chatted for a minute about our home state how I’m looking to move from IA to NYC. I passed on a business card and we hugged goodbye.  I really appreciated the gesture, and I hope the tables turn someday so I am able to do the same.

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The day was sort of dream-like in the way that it is both full of delights and full of confusion. The obvious delight was the lineup of speakers. Some of them were the best speakers I’ve ever heard. Not only did they sound the part, but they looked the part. The outfits, the hair, the makeup, oh my!  The confusion came from attending an event by myself in a room full of people I wished were my co-workers. Which people do I introduce myself to? What do I say? Are they annoyed to be working on a Saturday? Eating means I can’t talk– do I throw out this sandwich? Did that last conversation go okay? Shit, I hate that I just said that… how can I recover? I’m standing alone, who should I say hi to now? When should I leave?

At all times I felt like I was playing a game of Operation. ZZZztt!k05cve


Say what you will about NYC, Cosmopolitan, or my fashion industry fantasies, but I couldn’t be more grateful for how much I learn each time I go. I’m also thrilled I found this random and fabulous conference to lure me to the Google Flights page to make it happen. Every time I go to the city I feel like I learn more in two days than I do in two years. Some of this is because NYC runs on it’s own set of rules, and some is because I feel like I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and I am forced into learning situations.

Before I forget again, I think I better write them down. In the spirit of sharing (as always), here are The Top 5 Lessons NYC Taught Me [This Time…]: 

  1. Ask for other people’s information, don’t just give yours.  I met a bunch of people this weekend, and some gave me their card, some didn’t. Guess who it is more likely I’ll be in touch with? The ones that are in my control to connect with. I can’t expect to have impressed someone so much that they are falling over themselves to email me.
  2. Any misstep in New York City is going to cost you money. Forgot your metro card? Minus $10. Get caught up in smalltalk and forget to check the time?  Looks like you are taking a cab instead of a train to the airport. Cha-ching.
  3. For the love of God, say “hi”. Because of this little two-letter word, I was able to turn a night having a cocktail by myself into making some amazing new friends I hung out with two nights in a row, I met professionals who said they want to help me get started in NYC, and I even found out that I was sitting next to someone from Iowa. I love coincidence 🙂
  4. Know how to introduce yourself. I realized the hard way that I have a terrible elevator pitch. I don’t care what they say about sounding too rehearsed, what’s worse is when you know you didn’t rehearse enough.
  5. Embrace the word “no”. I went into 8 dry cleaners on Broadway trying to find a steamer before someone told me yes. If someone doesn’t have what you want, somewhere in that city it exists. If you keep hearing no, it is okay to change because people respect growth. In a city like NYC, everyone has to fail to learn, and even if you fail you can recover.


I left NYC with new friends, a stack of business cards, throbbing feet, a new wave of self-confidence, and a much needed reality check.

Next time I go to NYC will be on a one-way ticket.

Cheers! To thigh-high boots not made for walking, and all the lessons to be learned in the city that never sleeps.