Friday, June 28, 2013

You Are Not To Blame For Bittersweet Distractor

This week was a big step in figuring out some of the things that are wrong with my health, in an effort to finally get better. Between my stomach problems and newfound lung problems, I'm gonna get very used to doctors offices.

But the problem is that I've done my best to avoid most doctors for a long time. And so, the result is that I'm now easily confused and very awkward in these situations.

Sleep lab sounds way more fun.

Take, for example, those damn hospital gowns. Yesterday I had the pleasure of wearing two different ones for two different tests. The first one had three arm holes. So I put it on and had to step out of the change room to ask an old woman if I did it right.
"The back should be open, dear." was her answer. I explained that it had 3 arm holes and had to be wrapped around somehow. "Oh, then that should be right. That means you don't have to show everyone your backside." And indeed, when she got up to get her x-rays, I did see her backside.

The second gown was a different story. It had to be open in the back, that much I knew. But at the risk of showing everyone in the ultrasound offices my ass, I decided to tie it all up the wrong way and make a cute little oddly-fitting dress. That is, until I got to my ultrasound and couldn't undo the damn thing. Awkard. (But not as awkward as the ultrasounds themselves.)

When it came to bloodwork, I saw 3 large vials and asked if I had to have three needles. She said yes, because she didn't understand the question. In automatic panic mode, I looked away and kept rambling about something stupid. Weather, or how socks got their name. The first needle came. Then some pressure for awhile... more pressure... but no second needle. I started visibly wincing in preparation for the secret second needle, to the entertainment of other people waiting, but it was already done. Stupid doc-phobic me had no idea that they switch vials while the same needle is in. Ah, technology.

This was my attempt at a positive attitude before a morning full of tests. It helped.

So I'm learning. And since it looks like I'll have many more tests to come, I'll start to get a hang of this crap. Thus far the only new things that have been discovered before the reports come in are a thyroid problem and a crooked spine that I never knew about (which was unrelated to anything I was sent there for).

I hope my future tests allow me to be fully clothed. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Clever Got Me This Far, Then Tricky Got Me In

When asked what my favourite band or album is, I'm always incapable of answering properly. The result can often be an hour-long list of all my favourites as they occur to me. So as I continue to post about albums and music on this li'l corner of the interweb, I figure it's only right that I include some of those favourites.

This one in particular I once referred to as a near-perfect album, no pun intended - A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step.


If you know me, you know I love Maynard. I love pretty much everything he does. Even watching his movie "Blood Into Wine" made me want to own a vineyard (yes, that's a sad thing to admit). But this album is at the top of my favourite Maynard endeavours.

I admit, I was late to the game on this one. I was a long-time Tool fan, and I had A Perfect Circle's debut album, Mer De Noms, but Thirteenth Step didn't enter my life until 2007, 4 years after its release. Thanks to a good friend and fellow music obsessor giving me a copy after chastising me for not having it, it's now one of my top albums.

It was a game changer. And I say that with sincerity.

I can't pick a favourite song on this album without re-thinking my answer repeatedly. Immediately, in 2007, it was "The Noose". I'd drive around St. Catharines listening to that song over and over before moving on to the rest of the CD on repeat. But through the years, my top track has constantly changed and now it's the majority of the album that I consider my favourite. I'll walk through the woods while listening to "A Stranger", then dance around my living room to 'The Outsider". Each song has a place; a key role in the overall project.

Thirteenth Step appeals to so many different sides of me. The melody, the heavy and soft intermingled, the complex sound that is somehow hard to describe. For me, there's also a sense of nostalgia - I can remember long drives during a strange transitional time in my life while discovering each song, and wondering why I hadn't earlier.

Ah, Maynard. You did it again.




Thursday, June 20, 2013

Your Ears Should Be Burning

I've been pretty vocal about wanting to move, whether just apartments or changing cities, and some people have asked why I'm dead-set against staying right where I am.

We love some things about where we live.

Truth be told, I love my neighbourhood. Every day I appreciate it more and more. And my apartment itself? Though this house is falling apart due to lack of maintenance, my unit was renovated and I like it well enough (mouse visitors notwithstanding). I can't really complain about two balconies, hardwood floors and a great location.

So other than the mice (due to proximity to High Park) and the rest of the house issues, here is an example of why I really want to move:

I was walking up my street the other day, heading to the grocery store. A car drove up beside me and stopped. The guy driving said "Hey baby, I just wanted to sincerely thank you for looking damn good today. You're looking real good, and just I want you to know that." He leered in such a way I thought I was gonna throw up or throw a punch to his throat.

Upon immediate recognition of this guy, I was dumbfounded. My reply: "Excuse me? You know that I'm your neighbour, right?"

Him - "No, I did not know that. But girl I hope you have a great day, lookin' that damn good, honey. Thanks for lookin' so beautiful for me." He made some gross noises and then drove off as I tried to set his head on fire with my eyes.

This guy lives in the apartment beside mine. He's the dude who talks so loud I can hear every conversation, ensures that the house constantly smells like an outdoor concert, and brings seriously... we'll call them "unsavoury"... people to the place at all hours. He has always given me the creeps, and now he's just approached me as some would a hooker. I am not comfortable with that. I shouldn't have to be.


But that's not the only reason, and he's not the only one. There is another man who lives here, and he is supposed to be the property manager. I use that term loosely, but my landlord gave him the title. He is constantly being far too forward with me and extremely inappropriate. He has asked me to join his "team" of women he sleeps with, asked how he can get me (and said that he asks God every night), commented on parts of my body, etc. He once told me that he restrained himself due to respect for me and my boyfriend. I will not ever let him know that I'm now single, because I can't imagine how he would treat me then. This man has a key to my place. When something is broken, I often don't report it because I don't want him alone with me in my home.

These are both grown men, far older than I am. Somehow that makes it worse.

It's at the point where I run into my apartment as fast as possible and lock all the locks, to avoid any confrontation with any of them. And that's why I want to leave.

So I'm left with a conundrum. Do I move out of this apartment and just find another one in the (expensive) neighbourhood that I love so much? Or do I change cities? When I wasn't single, I planned on moving to a small town at some point, so the idea of making a big location change is not so foreign to me. The benefits of leaving Toronto would mean I could live cheaper and save for a car again. And maybe a fresh start wouldn't be so bad.

This is where you guys come in. I know some of you are from St. Catharines, Hamilton, Guelph, Burlington, and everywhere in between. Those are some of the places I've been considering, and I'd love your input. Do I stick to Toronto, or find a new location?

Where do we go now? Axl wants to know.

Which cities/towns would you recommend that a chick like me and her little dog should live?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Make Up Something To Believe In Your Heart Of Hearts, So You Have Something To Wear On Your Sleeve Of Sleeves

This past week was the yearly North By Northeast festival in Toronto (NXNE, because typing out full words is hard). While I only went out to see bands on the Friday and Saturday, those 2 days alone were enough to render this chick exhausted by Sunday.

So here is my brief write-up with accompanying blurry, terrible photos. You knew it was comin'.

Hayden

On Friday night, Hayden (are you sick of me talking about him yet?) and The National (how about them?) put on a free show to roughly 8.6 bajillion people at Yonge-Dundas square.

I got there early with my friends Steff and Rasam, nabbed a pretty good spot in one of the fenced off beer garden, and then planted.


We deserved a "Way to plant, Ann".


Hayden

After wanting to see Hayden live for the longest time, I've now seen him 3 times in less than a month, and met him.

Not too shabby for a fangirl.

Hayden

Hayden

It seems that every crowd wants him to play "In September". This time, he did.

Prime example of why it's good to go see an act over, and over, and over....

The National

Oh. Hi, Matt Berninger.

The National

My photos of The National are terrible. Which is too bad, because their set was fantastic.

Finally crossing that one off the list.

The National

Sadly, I had to watch a lot of their show while standing in line for the only bathroom in the beer garden. It felt like it took a year, and I was fairly certain I was about to die.

Thanks to the dude in front of me who let me go ahead of him, I didn't miss the whole encore.

Northcote

The next night - the Wintersleep showcase at The Danforth Music Hall.

Paper Lions

I was going to go anyway, but then won VIP tickets to the show. Bonus.

Brought along new MediaHaus team member, Erik - all live shows are work-related, and this is the way we do meetings. That's how self-employment works.


The balcony was the VIP section and included such items as beer and M&Ms.

I don't think I've ever eaten so many M&Ms in my life. It happens when things are free.

Dinosaur Bones
I really dug Dinosaur Bones. The singer's voice reminded me of Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, and their tunes were pretty vibe-y.

Yes, "vibe-y" serves as a proper description in my vocabulary. Give 'em a listen to better understand what I'm referring to.

Wintersleep
Last but not least, Wintersleep.

Wintersleep
I've never seen them live before, and The Danforth Music Hall was probably the best place to do so.

Wintersleep
Fun to watch from the balcony, but eventually we headed down to the floor to see them close up.

Wintersleep

Wintersleep

They played a solid mix from different albums. 

I'll be sure to see them again when they hit Toronto next. 

Piggie Smalls

Essentially, Daisy is depicting what I looked like after the weekend.

I may be old and boring at times, but hell... I make an attempt.

How was your NXNE?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

These Broken Arms Won't Hold You Down, These Ruptured Lungs Won't Make A Sound

Over the years, more than a few women have told me that they lived vicariously through me and my blog - especially during the two straight years I managed to stay single. Why? Because they were married with kids. I was an unmarried, childless woman blogging about some random semblance of a social life.

This has always astounded me. Because the truth is, I've always wanted what they have.


Going out way too much in your early twenties is fine. Hell, it's admissible throughout your twenties and beyond for some people. But as you reach your thirties, which I swiftly am, you tend to have a good idea of what you want for yourself, and it can be disheartening when you haven't yet achieved it. I still want a family. Among many other things including world domination and mastering the ukulele, but this post isn't about that.

I value my freedom and independence - I haven't always had them, and they mean a great deal to me. But sometimes when I pass by happy couples with their cute kids, I feel envious. Get a little sad, a little girly, daydream a bit. And the only way to stop those feelings is to tell myself that I'll have those things when it's the right fit. And if it never is... I'll deal with that. Life rarely happens as you plan it, and I learn that more every year. (Ah, the joys of aging.)

While some of my posts through the past six years show a twenty-something chick out having fun, at the core of it all I'm mostly just a homebody. I'm happiest staying home with my favourite person, or keeping low-key. Right now, I do that alone more often than not. I'm not a party girl, and I mainly just go out to see bands or to have a relaxed beer with friends. A hell of a lot less of the 5am cabs home, the hangovers, the blurry fog of bar-hopping. And instead of having a family to come home to, I come home to my (kickass) dog. But I'm often left behind by people who are happily coupled up or still in the "let's get drunk every damn night" phase of their lives that I have no need for. These things happen.

At least I have Daisy; I'm never truly alone. Incredibly lame? Yep, but also true.


All the negatives aside, I make the best out of where I currently I am. I put a lot of time into my business, learning new things, and taking care of myself. Extended "me" time that serves to eventually make me the best version of myself, while answering to no one else. And maybe that's a large part of what these women were envious of. But there is way more to life than focusing on yourself, as much as that is needed.

So for those with the great little families who have lived vicariously through the words of us single chicks... be glad to know that some of us would trade that for exactly what you have. Because the grass really isn't always greener.

What you have is amazing, as you already know.

...but then again, so is the freedom to go to all the live shows I want. So maybe every situation has its positives.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Park That Car. Drop That Phone. Sleep On The Floor. Dream About Me.

Arts & Crafts celebrated their 10th anniversary by putting together the Field Trip festival - a day of art, food, and most importantly music. Capping off a day of amazing acts from the A&C roster, Broken Social Scene reunited for one blowout show.

Whether this is a one-time festival or not, we can't be sure. But in the interest of this ever-hopeful music fan, I present to you The Shambled Guide to the Field Trip Fest (Complete With Terrible Photos):


1. Get a partner who will understand your need to become an uberfan for certain acts (*cough* Hayden *cough*).

2. When the ticket-taker puts your wristband on, don't play with the damn thing. You'll make it irreversibly tighter and cut off circulation to your hand, thus inhibiting your clapping, arm waving, and even some of your swaying. Rookie move.

Cold Specks

3. Realize early on that Cold Specks is infinitely cooler than you will ever be.


Zeus...ish.

4. Taking a photo with the CN Tower in it doesn't make you touristy, it makes you a person. Who is in Toronto. With a camera. In this case, it's not my fault that the tower is directly behind where Zeus was playing.

5. When you don't bring a blanket (against the Field Trip website's advice), you can't be concerned about grass stains on your ass after you sit down. Embrace the grass stains. And then use a proper stain remover after said embracing.

Hayden

6. When your sightlines are imperfect and your camera is merely a phone function, your photos of Hayden (or any other artist) will turn out like this. If you're gonna cry about it after, cry while listening to "Us Alone". On vinyl, if you have it. In the dark. And remember that this is the second of three times you'll see him in less than a month, and both times were awesome. (Ok, so this one became a personal reminder....)

Bloc Party

7. Bloc Party is a hell of a lot better than I ever realized. Be completely open to the possibility that you're gonna dig many bands more than you did previously after a festival like this.

Stars

8. Scheduling is important when there are two different stages. In this case we caught some of Stars before ducking out early and seeing Dan Mangan, then leaving during his last song to catch Feist. Compromise, scheduling, and walkable footwear - all key factors.
 
Cupcakes that only come in dozens

9. Cupcakes are now a concert food. And somehow they go surprisingly well with beer.

10. Food choices at festivals are very important. For example, butter chicken and waffles? Smart. Tasty. Interesting. Eaten in a bowl. A crepe with bananas and Nutella? Terrible idea. Especially if you're like me, because then the messy crepe will explode all over you, your clothes, and your purse just as Bloc Party takes the stage. Not so good, Al.

Dan Mangan

11. Robots need love, too. And they want to be loved by you. 

12. Festivals like this one are very family-friendly. Expect to "aww" a lot at the cute little people dancing, playing, and running around. If I had kids, I would've wanted them to experience that too.

Feist

13. Fences = good for watching acts from a pretty close range, bad for photos.

14. Feist makes me want to change my last name. But if we ever became a duo, we could be "Getz Feist-y", which would be both awesome and terrible. These are the things that occur to you during concerts. Or just me.

Feist

15. Sometimes terrible pictures serve no purpose other than to remember that you were there. In this case, I've managed to make Leslie Feist look like as though the chick from The Ring started a band, and all these people are gonna die in 7 days. Sorry, folks.

Broken Social Scene

16. A really amazing set can make the pain in your feet, back, and wrist (damn tightened wristband) all go away. Or, at the very least, more tolerable. Broken Social Scene made me forget that I was old and sore, and captivated the hell out of me. Pretty inspiring, and absolutely fantastic.

Broken Social Scene

17. Toronto is awesome. The musical talent we have here and all around Canada is astounding. If Field Trip became a yearly thing, I can only assume it would feature some more of the best this area has to offer, and give a real sense of community to a music and arts festival. That's what this one did. And Broken Social Scene really drove that feeling home.



18. Festivals are fun. Even when you feel old and sore the next day, it was well worth it. Now please excuse me, I need a nap and an advil.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Smile Is Red & It Shines So Black, I Don't Think I'll Be Coming Back

Tomorrow kicks off what is shaping up to be a summer filled with tons of live acts for me - so much so, in fact, that I'm giving it a name and a hashtag. Yup, you read that correctly.

The Summer of Music (okay, maybe not the most creative of names) is happening, and I want you guys to share your live shows as well. So when you post photos or updates about concerts this summer, add #thesummerofmusic hashtag to it. And forgive me for putting a hashtag in a blog post, considering how much I bitch about those who hashtag on the wrong platforms - you know who you are, hashtagging Facebook-ers.

This is a guitar. It plays music. See how it marginally fits this post's theme?

Tomorrow is the Field Trip festival, featuring the reunion of Broken Social Scene, along with Feist, Hayden, Dan Mangan, Stars, etc... then next week comes The National, Wintersleep, plus the rest of the NXNE shows, and then Osheaga in August. That's the plan thus far, and it's growing.

Collectively, this is becoming musical Christmas for me.

And after this Summer of Music, the fall has some more amazing concerts to come. Local Natives in September and a little band called Nine Inch Nails will be here in October. I may have danced around my living room at that news.

To tide you over here's the new NIN tune. Let The Summer of Music begin!





Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When I Walk Into A Room, I Do Not Light It Up

The National's much-anticipated new album "Trouble Will Find Me" came out recently, and I haven't stopped listening. I've been using it as book-ends to other albums, playing it before and after throwing something else on.

I'm happily obsessing over it, and am not ashamed to say it. These things happen.


It's no secret that I'm an absolute freak for well-written lyrics (each blog post title is a nod to that vice), and The National never disappoints on that front. There's a unique wit to all of them, tied to the doom & gloom and poetry of the words. Part of me wants to print out these lyrics and frame them on my wall - but I'd be hard-pressed to decide which song.

I promised myself that I'd spare readers from seeing me get girly over Matt Berninger's voice. So I'll keep it as brief as possible and try not to giggle and squeal - aside from the swoon-worthiness of that damn voice, they've once again paired it with the instruments perfectly.  The voice is low, the lyrics are low, but the sound is upbeat enough to make you think you're in a bizarro happy depression. That's a skill I applaud, and probably one of the biggest reasons I dig this band. There's a guarded optimism.

So, back to the album itself - from "I Should Live In Salt" to "Hard To Find" (i.e. - front to back), it's a solid one. It's melodic, layered, yet accessible. It sets a mood that is somehow intimate and lovely, with a dark side once the the words and meaning hit you. I enjoy complicated music that almost seems simple, and this album is made up of just that.

I think it will be a favourite for a long time to come.



Note - the word "swoon-worthiness" should never be used again, ever. My apologies for including it here. I feel shame.


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