Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Words Are Blunt Instruments, Words Are A Sawed-Off Shotgun

Every once in awhile I get deep into this conversation. Most people disagree with my particular views on the subject, but it's a topic that has continuously popped up over the years - so that must mean I feel pretty strongly about it. And that I'm stubborn.

The conversation - or debate, as is usually the case - is about whether or not it's important to have the same music tastes as the person you're dating.

Is it a big deal? Do you care?

Ha. Nope.

My stance is always that it's pretty important, it's a trait I look for, and something that makes a huge difference to me. It's rare that someone agrees with me on the subject, though. So even though I've briefly blogged about this topic before, here's where I get more in-depth and state my case (aka: get a bit defensive).

My friend Geoff and I have had a few conversations recently about dating in general and what we look for in significant others. We're very different people - we have pretty different tastes in most things. So whenever I mention that a love of music is important in the person I'm dating, he thinks it's kinda nuts. Fair enough. That's why I felt it was time for another discussion, but this time with you wonderful weirdos.

Here's the main point: you want to have things in common with the person you're dating, right? You want to share experiences with them. If you're sports obsessed, you likely wouldn't be with a person who hates all things athletic. If you live for travelling, you wouldn't get serious with a person who never wants to leave the house.

Well, it's the same thing.

This is a concert. Concerts are fun. Tell your friends. (10 points if you can guess the band.)

If music is important to me, why is it bad that I'd want to share that interest? There is nothing better than sharing new music with someone, or listening to a band that we both really dig. Music creates a bonding experience. I'd love nothing more than to have someone to go to all the shows with - that one has proven tough, but I remain optimistic.

Music is a big part of me. A big part of who I am, what I'm into, and how I operate. And when I'm dating someone with completely different tastes (or worse, who doesn't like music at all. Yikes.), it's like a communication gap - we're speaking different languages. No comprende. Je ne comprende pas.

Trust me, I've tried it.

Even murderous sociopaths liked Undertow

I'm not unreasonable, though. I'm well aware that I won't ever find someone as Deftones-obsessed as me. Or who loves all things Maynard, Thom, Josh, & Brody like I do. Most of my long-term serious relationships were not with guys who liked every band I did; often just a key few.

Tastes don't have to be exact, but some crossover and an open mind go a long way in this case. Introducing each other to new tunes is part of the overall benefit to dating a fellow music dork.

I'd never expect a person to like all the other things I like, either. I don't need a guy who loves to read like I do. I don't need someone who wants to make friends with every single dog he passes on the street, like I do. I don't require someone who will understand all of my random Simpsons references (though we'll work on that one). But music? Yeah. I need some common ground there. I need them to "get" it, in order to "get" me. It's an intangible connection, one that often goes hand-in-hand with the right chemistry.

So there. I've said my piece. Now you're all invited to tell me how wrong and delusional I am - I welcome your input, I know not everyone is the same. But I won't be swayed. This chick knows what she needs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'd Like To Fly But My Wings Have Been So Denied

I've been on a steady streak as per my promise to one podcaster - blogging weekly and including a Favourite Album post bi-weekly. That's progress after months of radio silence on this site. But this post will be a bit different. Because while I'm writing it under the guise of the favourite album series, it's more about my general long-term love for a band than about any particular album itself.

It's the age-old tale of a little girl named Kristen and her major affection for Alice in Chains.


When I was young, my older sister would make me mix tapes that I would obsess over. Yes, young folks, that says tapes. These tapes were a big part of what shaped my music tastes, and this particular mix was no exception. It would have been about '92, maybe early '93. And on this tape (which I'm pretty sure I still have somewhere), Steph had included the song "Would?". That was when this 9 year old future rambler fell ass-backwards for a band from Seattle called Alice in Chains.

So for the sake of pretending that this is a Favourite Albums post, let's call it an ode to Dirt (1992) and Jar of Flies (1994). Those albums have been with me the longest, and made the most impact. But really, this post is about the band itself. And I'd be remiss if I didn't include a note or two about Layne Staley.


Layne was the original singer, the only one I really count, who struggled with a major drug addiction and died in 2002 at the age of 34. For me, Layne is Alice in Chains. Without him, it's never been the same. Whether it's with this band or the album he did with Mad Season, he has one of the most distinctive and unique voices I've heard. And when it came to the songs he wrote (such as "Nutshell"), they give me what the young kids call "the feels". Every time.

So while the current Alice in Chains singer (William DuVall) is crazy talented and awesome, I consider it to be a different band even though Jerry Cantrell is and always has been an integral part of their specific sound. I remember when I saw their concert with the Deftones in 2010, it was strange to hear/see them play with such an upbeat person as the frontman. I actually left during "Nutshell", because it somehow came off as happy. It's not happy.

It's a Layne song, through and through.


I've been reading an Alice in Chains biography (even though I prefer to stick to autobiographies, but one does not exist. Jerry had better get on it!). I just read the part where Layne dies and, stupid as it is to admit, it brought me to tears.

It's like reading a story you already know the ending to, but it still kicks you in the chest when you get to it. Such a waste.


But the rest of their story is entertaining - it's always amused me endlessly that they technically started as a glam rock band and the rest was almost accidental, due to band-swapping, member switches, and name changes. In the end, they formed a band that has long been one of my favourites, and created songs that can dictate my moods and stir up my memories.


For some, they're just a grunge band from the 90's. For me, they're important. 

My old favourite band tshirt. It's now in a frame.
From a 9 year old kid singing along in her backyard each day to a 33 year old woman singing along while she runs her business, these albums are part of an entire life's soundtrack.

And Layne's voice is at the forefront of that soundtrack.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Thump Of The Red-Blooded Heart Is Trumped By The Art Of War

I'm in a pretty odd relationship. Don't get excited - it's not a dude (sorry mom). But it's been serious for a long time, so I'm goin' public even though it's boring, repetitive, and people like to make fun of it.

Me & routine? We're tight.

Dog walk, earphones in, messy stupid hair. Very routine.

Everyone loves to extol the virtues of being impulsive. I get it. Being open to new things, ready to say "yes"  to whatever life throws at you without a second thought - sounds great. A lot of the time I wish I was like that. I'll often give it the ol' college try, and work at being generally impulsive for awhile. 

But it's not me. Not for the most part.

I need routine. I need plans. So this is my attempt at defending those of us who require schedules and structure.
As you likely know, I'm self-employed (*cue shameless self-promotion* haaaave you met The MediaHaus?) and I work mostly from home. For others who work for themselves, that can mean waking up really late, doing work whenever they feel like it, keeping an open schedule, and allowing for general freedom. Those people are friggin' crazy.

These faces. This lady. It's our routine.
There are plenty of days I don't want to work. That's called "being normal". But even more so, because of depression and an anxiety disorder I really don't want to get out of bed. Being out in the world can be frightening and awful. But I, like you, have to get my ass up and be a responsible adult (or a reasonable facsimile. Let's not kid ourselves.). So I have a routine that I stick to pretty much every day. I wake up around the same time, start working around the same time, walk the dog around the same time, eat around the same time, and so on... every day. I even eat almost the exact same thing day after day. That has a lot to do with other health issues, but it's also become a part of the routine.

Here's why: without routine I can sometimes shut down. My brain doesn't focus and my body won't do what I ask it to. I become a walking panic attack, more than I am on a regular day. And that's exactly it - having anxiety requires routine, it needs the comfort of familiarity and expectation in order to be somewhat manageable. Because my daily schedule is almost always the same, I can go on autopilot during the days that anxiety has me wanting to crawl in a hole. My brain and body know exactly what to do, where to be, etc.

So no, I don't actually love routine. It's more like I tend to need it for work. Routine makes me functional, keeps me from overthinking every move I make, and allows me to fall back on my familiar patterns so I can be productive. While it may not be the right choice for everyone, it definitely has benefits for me. And if you find anxiety running your life and keeping you from doing what you need to, adding some structure may be worth a shot.

Beer before smiles. Routine.
And yet... currently, my routine has been shelved as I'm apartment-hunting and a few things are out of whack and up in the air. I'm trying to see it as a good thing, to get me unstuck from old patterns and allow more spontaneity into my over-routined ways.  Surely that's a positive, right? Making room for new things, chilling out a bit with the structure, and doing some re-wiring. I guess we'll see.

As serious as routine and I are, it might be time to see other people for a little while.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Fifteen Stitches & A Soft Parody

Moving along with the Favourite Albums theme while I've actually been posting regularly, it seems only right to add a Deftones album sooner than later. I know, I know - I have enough Deftones-related posts that it shouldn't be necessary.

Well, I disagree. So there.

But which one to start with? I could literally put each of their albums on this list (and in time I likely will), but I've decided to go with one that has been on my radar a lot lately. Their second album, Around the Fur.


I'd love to say that I remember the first time I heard this record, that the first listen made such an impact and changed my life, blah blah blah. But I can't remember the initial listen. What I do remember is being young (this was 1997, for reference.), and having already been hooked on Adrenaline, their first album.

So I constantly listened to Around the Fur from front to back until I couldn't hear the end of one song without automatically starting to sing the next one. I recall sitting out in my backyard for hours each day, retaining it all like a sponge.

The entire album became branded onto my brain.


Through the years, through their many albums, it's inevitable that I regularly end up on a prolonged Around the Fur kick, re-visiting some of my favourite songs. Peripheral fans likely know this album better than they think, due to the singles: "My Own Summer (Shove It)", and "Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)".

But honestly, if you even like those songs in a minimal way, give the rest of the album a shot. "Mascara" is one of my favourites, along with the title track itself (Around the Fur, if you're not paying attention). And don't even get me started on "Dai the Flu" and "Damone", the hidden song. If you're a Max Cavalera fan (or a fan of Sepultura or Soulfly), "Headup" is one you'll dig, as he co-wrote and sang on the track.

Since I recently became dangerously re-obsessed with the Crosses album yet again, I decided to switch things up and dive right back into Around the Fur. These album obsessions are cyclical. They come about for a reason.

In this case, to counteract my anxious and low mood lately, I think I needed something that brought a certain positive nostalgia and the feeling I used to get when hearing these songs. It still works. I still get lost in this album.


Not everyone can relate to my Deftones obsession, and I wouldn't expect them to. But if you can listen to this album and get even a piece of that intangible and somehow indescribable pull, then you have a marginal idea why I feel the way I do about this band.  

Around the Fur is, and always has been, a big part of that.

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