Thursday, February 16, 2012

get the balance right

here's a short video that i filmed in rockford and totally forgot about until a couple days ago:

and also, i'm going back for the band's homecoming/final show in chicago at the end of the month. yes, i know.

i basically decided on it when i left last week, then it all came together nicely when porter airlines had a 50% off sale on tuesday (they fly to chicago!) and i was able to find some nice hotel sales (no hostel this time - i want something more adult, thanks). so, i'd like to think it was meant to be. i need to close the circle this time. i'm going to fly in on the 28th, attend the gig/sell merch while wearing pvc, stay overnight to the 29th, then fly home again that evening. whew.

hilariously enough, this all seems very grown-up to me -- booking a flight and staying in a hotel, all by myself, and not for work on the company dime! instead, it's going to be so i can make a crazy not-even-24-hours trip just to see a band, which is absolutely what i used to do in my early twenties. in this way, it feels like it's the best of both worlds -- i'm doing what i used to love to do when i was younger, but now i actually have the money to support it.

see, yeah, that's the thing -- i've been socking away money for a few years now, and i have a pretty decent-sized savings account at this point. i've always told myself that it's my backup-plan fund, but it's also there for me to use if i want to indulge myself in something spontaneous. and that's exactly what this is: an off-the-cuff decision for a quick trip that i would have typically turned down due to cost. but because i have these savings, i'm able to go ahead and do this sort of thing (once and a while, anyway) without guilt or a severe blow to my bank account.

and like i said: airplane! (sure, i hate air travel, but at least it's porter -- they give you free booze) and a real hotel, not a cheap hostel or someone's couch! i'm making the most out of my 24-hour vacation.

also, this means i get to make one more trader joe's and binny's run. i'm already compiling my shopping list.

still, to an extent, it feels good to be home and back in my usual rhythm. i'm sort of a control freak - not sure if any of you have realized that about me, ha ha - and i like to have things in a certain order, and my environment controlled in a certain way. my daily routine can be pretty boring, sure, but if i have that part of my life on autopilot, i can use my energy to focus on other things. also, it helps me stay at optimal health, which is super important at this time of year (with all the sicknesses floating around and the heavy workload i have at the moment).

what can i say, my inner wildling likes spontaneity and freedom, but my current (old-lady) self really likes green smoothies, daily gym workouts, her own shower and regular bedtimes.

so, i'm glad to be home; if anything, my absences - no matter how long or short - always make me miss our apartment, of all things. of course, i miss toronto as a whole because i love this city so goddamn much, but distance really makes me realize how awesome our little home. i think i mentioned it already, but the boy and i just took possession of our apartment at the start of february (we'd been subletting it up til now), and since i left for chicago on the 1st, i haven't really had the chance to let it sink it - it's our place now. and it feels good to have a happy little home to call our own (even if the furniture isn't ours, but that's okay because it's not like we own any furniture other than a bed anyway).

oh, and valentine's day meant even more roses:

...though mostly because i guilt-tripped the boy over how many women at my office were getting flowers and balloons delivered. ;P i am sometimes the worst.

short but sweet this time -- i'm off to spend the rest of the night drinking, since after today i'll have to go on mandatory detox for seven days (have to take a week of antibiotics for a bacterial infection, wooooo). gonna enjoy it!

[ music | jeopardy! in the background ]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

but maybe someday

alright, now that i'm safely back home in toronto (after a completely exhausting all-day bus ride yesterday that took me from chicago to toledo to detroit to home, all in only 14 hours), here's the last few of the photo batch from my trip:

the chicago tribune building, which i've taken photos of before (probably every time i come to chicago, actually) because i always forget how goddamn impressive it is.  gorgeous architecture right in the middle of downtown.

again, case in point.

thorgrim the kitteh! he's the guitarist's girlfriend's cat and probably one of the most laid-back dudes i've ever seen. also with a beautiful bengal coat. i was smitten.

last night of merch, set up in milwaukee. good sales that night, even for a small room.

...and this is what i came home to on friday night :)  happy girl right here.

now, for the introspective part.

i'm aware that a good number of my current blog readers just came on board in the last few years (many of them being current coworkers), so that whole part of my background hasn't really been explained too well. see, this is what i used to do all the time -- pack up and trek across the country in pursuit of a band, or else together with the band. there'd be late nights and long drives, and waking up in strange hotels with a pack of musicians. there would be lots of drinking and smoking after dark. there was always a crazed sense of freedom from the norm, which i - in my late teens and early twenties, forever searching for an escape from regular life - completely relished.

that was who i am. to an extent, that's still who i am, underneath the stability and the normal job and the regular life of a woman who's almost 30. i still have the tattoos. i still have my history. it's just necessary for me to repeat it, sometimes, both to make people understand and to remind myself not to forget where it is i come from.

and so, going back out with a band again was a very, very hard thing for me, simply because it was all that i'd ever wanted for the last five years of my life.

look, i'm not even kidding. from the moment i stepped off the plane that took me home from tour in 2007, all i've wanted to do is get back out on the road with a band -- guys that i could consider brothers, my people. i went from toronto to vancouver and back to toronto again - and through four different jobs - all in the hope (and sometimes expectation) that i would one day return to that other world, the alternate universe of travelling across the country in a van with a rock band. musicians themselves may not think much of it - or even think of it as a downside of the job - but to me, it's always been the only thing i want in all the world.

simply put, once upon a time, i found where i belong. and it was so goddamn hard to leave it then, and spend the last five years of my life just waiting for my chance to return. and when i finally got my chance -- again, i couldn't stay. because it's not a "sustainable" lifestyle for me. because i have bills to pay and rent to take care of and a huge student debt and a career job i don't want to toss away. because i'm a grown-up now. because happiness is nice but money rules the world forever.

my mother tried to lessen the blow by pointing out that "at least you get to experience it for a little while; some people never get to do that sort of thing." (to be clear, though, both my parents think i'm an idiot for even wanting the life of a nomadic brokeass. i think they're secretly glad i never became a musician myself.) but i'm an all-or-nothing type of person, so i don't like that logic. i feel like it's worse to dangle it in front of me and then take it away.

though i guess the question is: would i ever be able to fully go back to it now that i'm considered relatively old by merch girl standards, not to mention pretty out of shape and very used to a regular life at home?

over the course of the last eight days, here's what i realized:

when i was younger - that is, in my early twenties - i didn't have a whole lot going on in my life to look forward to. it was just an endless parade of school classes, followed by endless weeks of working meaningless joe jobs and trying to figure out my place in the world. and so when i had these chances to go out on the road with a rock band, well, fuck -- why wouldn't i? it wasn't like i had anything worthwhile going on back home in toronto -- no serious jobs, no relationships, no nice apartment. i was living in an east-end basement, killing myself between retail jobs and trying - with varying levels of success and angst - to land a hot rock star boy. i had nothing except my escapism and my dreams for stories worth telling.

now, though, there are more than a few fundamental differences. aside from the fact that i'm older, presumably wiser and less fond of staying up drinking til the wee hours, i have all the things i wanted as a discontent twentysomething - a well-paying 9-to-5 job in which i'm not treated like shit (retail and hospitality jobs really do humble you with the way customers treat you), a boy i've been with for five years now and love and trust completely, and a wonderful downtown apartment (that i need the aforementioned job to pay the rent for). as i put it to my mother, i have reasons to come back. i don't have to resort to running away with a rock band to find my happiness - i already have it, and it's my life in toronto right now.

so where does that leave me?

well, of two minds, basically: my present-day mature self says to leave it behind, but my younger self just doesn't want to.  my brain wants to confirm that that part of my past was lightning in a bottle, but my heart can't give it up.  i may have everything i want here at home, but there's something in me that just wants more -- wants to go backward, not forward.

and so i keep telling my inner, younger self to forgive me, because i had to grow up eventually. i couldn't stay 23 forever.

(sadly appropriate that the cure's "maybe someday" was playing on my last day in chicago. see lyrics.)

getting back into it again at 28, though, i realized that there was so much i forgot. watching the scenery go by from inside the van. merch displays and setup and inventory and anxiety over whether i'd be able to sell anything. staying up drinking til 3 in the morning. grabbing sleep wherever and whenever you can get it. the little moments of doing non-band things, like shopping for supplies and going out for dinner and watching movies. that sense of belonging, and gratitude, and the responsibility i feel to the boys in the bands.

i forgot about how it rips my heart out to leave them, and how i always, always cry on the trip home alone.

i'm going to peg my post-tour depression at 2 days, which means i'll be well and good next time i blog.  hope you were all good to each other in my absence, and hope that i didn't miss much.

[ music | none ]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

heave away

this is where i quickly distract you with photos to take away from the fact that i haven't posted on here in, uh, a couple of weeks. poof!

(oh, and in case you're just tuning in, i've been out of town touring around with a rock band and hanging out in various locations in illinois. my life, it is basically what it was five years ago, minus the eating disorder and low self-esteem)

the band sets up for the photo shoot at the abandoned jail in rockford. (bryan took way creepier photos than this one)

probably the creepiest i could get; i was running on almost two days without sleep and i wasn't willing to go explore the scary empty jail. but geez, yeah, these cells didn't look like fun.

america, fuck yeah!

the last of the skazillion cupcakes we had at our gracious host larry's place in rockford. even i ate one (because it was churro-flavoured, and you could put cinnamon sugar on a tire and i would eat it).

kryptonite bar in rockford, dispelling my belief that there were no good american beers. i wasn't even thinking about craft beers.

dark photo of my first night merching it up. also, my first night as a merch girl in maaaaaybe two years.

it's kind of great having new rock star brothers. actually, make that really great.

wicked awesome! (actually, $3.50 belvedere is a pretty sweet deal.)

after the rockford show - and after we closed down the bar - there was a party. larry bought $97 worth of greek food. this is only half of the leftover fries the next day.

wise words to live by.

my view from the back of the van as we returned to chicago from rockford. a beautiful sight.

the merch booth on night #2, at reggie's in chicago. a very nice setup, if i do say so myself.

long nights, red lights.

we had the next day off and, since it was a lovely sunday, i went for a long walk downtown. i found this sign and found its bluntness wonderful.

also wonderful: this view.

even better: the view from the window in adam's apartment.

moon rising on super bowl sunday.

this is adam taking a photo of a particularly cheesy tom brady montage. adam doesn't like tom brady.

the view from my company's chicago office, 64th floor. geeeeeez. (the slightly wobbly elevators didn't make me feel very good either)

valentine's day decor along state street downtown.

...and that's it for now, but i'm continually snapping more photos - i'm still in chicago right now, after all - so there'll be more in my next post.

as i just wrote, i'm still in chicago at the moment, and i'm feeling pretty good about it -- i've been to trader joe's every day (and did my major stock-up trip on tuesday), i just hit up binny's for four(!) bottles of the most frou-frou flavoured vodka you can imagine (two different kinds of cake flavour plus a dutch chocolate and "devil's food"), i had coffee at intelligentsia and watched a blackhawks game at union park bar, and i've been all over this city on foot. it hasn't even been all that cold. bliss.

plus, you know, the whole being back with musicians - selling merch, jumping in the van, trading jokes and just generally taking care of each other - has been absolutely restorative to my soul.  musicians have been my people since i was seventeen, and i forgot just how much responsibility i feel towards them by the end of the day. i am a loyal girl, and i will forever do just about anything for my rock star brethren.

still, it hasn't all been rainbows and sunshine: i got a call from my mother on monday, which instantly set off alarm bells because for one, she never calls me, and for two, she knew i was out of town.  my grandfather died that morning.  (this is a different side of my family than the one where my grandmother passed away before christmas; that was my dad's mother, and this was my mom's father)  he'd been in pretty ill health and rough physical shape for months now, but it was looking like he'd turned a corner and was getting better.  instead, it appeared he suffered a major heart attack on monday and passed away.  he was 89 and had lived a good long life - plus fathered seven children and was grandfather to something like 18 of us kids - so it wasn't a waste, but still, very sad.

even more sad: i have to miss the funeral service.  it's tomorrow afternoon, and short of cancelling my work for the rest of the week and hopping on a plane, there'd be no way i could get back to toronto - and then three hours north to southampton - in time.  my mother reassured me that it wasn't a big deal - a bunch of my other cousins couldn't make it either - but i still felt pretty shitty about it.  still do, too.

so i had a moment coming home from work on tuesday afternoon that i just felt...drained, emotionally. something about the combination of being out of my usual element - working in a different office, with different people, in a different time zone, plus waking up in and coming "home" to an apartment that's not mine - along with my grandfather's death and an unfortunately early bout of pms just really set me off. i was more or less convinced on tuesday that i needed to go home, like, asap.

but after talking to both my mother and my boyfriend, i decided no, i wanted/needed to stick it out -- though i would compromise on my original plan. i would do the milwaukee show on thursday night - the tour gigs were why i came, after all - and then take the early bus home on friday, since the guys were leaving for st. louis (and, in effect, the rest of the tour across the country) on friday morning. originally i'd wanted to stay overnight at the youth hostel on friday and spend that day plus saturday shopping and tooling around the city, but really, i found that i'd done pretty much everything already. i'd had enough time on my lunch breaks plus before/after work that i got all my errands done and picked up all the american goodies i wanted.

so, speaking as of right now, i'll be ready to go home on friday. it's a long all-day slog on the bus, but it at least gives me the weekend to recover at home before i have to go back to work on monday. whew.

that's all i've got at the moment, but like i said, i'll be back later - probably after i'm home - with some more photos, observations and final thoughts. and believe me, will i ever have those. life is weird.

[ music | band of horses, "the funeral" ]