Wednesday, April 25, 2012

inspiration lady

on monday night, i was sick as a dog, yet i stood for almost two hours in a crowded bookstore so i could get gordon lightfoot's autograph for my mom. because i am angling for the daughter of the year award, clearly. (and also because i'm eternally trying to make up for all the years of bullshit and insanity that she had to put up with from me. as mothers do.)

for someone whose life has (and is) so defined by music and the people who create it, i had an oddly music-free childhood. back when it was still just my mother, my father, my older sister and myself (and a bunch of cats) knocking around a old country farmhouse in the late 80's/early 90's, i can't recall a whole lot of music being played. rather, my parents tended to prefer talk radio, which i found indescribably boring. although i had a fisher-price tape recorder and a kiddie record player, i'm pretty sure my favourites didn't extend beyond raffi and the chipmunks' christmas album. so no, i wasn't a kid who was "raised on music".

but those times - usually sleepy sunday afternoons - when my mother would slide a cassette into the tape deck? bliss. i clearly remember my young self getting a happy thrill out of having music playing in the background, even though it was the same stuff played ad nauseum. (an obvious precursor to the fact that as an adult, i go everywhere with earbuds in and mp3 player firmly in hand.)

here's the regular rotation of artists, as far as i can recall:

- gordon lightfoot
- joni mitchell (famous blue raincoat, mostly -- my first experience with leonard!)
- the nylons
- paul simon
- fleetwood mac
- lindt ronstadt
- the soundtrack for stand by me

i can't believe it took me this long to realize that my parents were a pair of folkies. (true enough, my dad has a ton of cat stevens and simon & garfunkel records.)

things expanded a bit more once we got a stereo that was a combination tape deck and cd player (cds!!), but for the most part, that above list was the music i grew up on. not something to write home about, huh? as much as i would love to say i grew up on metal bands or rock n' roll - the stuff my stepfather was listening to around that time - i didn't. it was slightly bland folk music. (for context, i was born in 1983. i'm probably not as ancient as this blog post is making me sound.)

for the most part, my parents' musical tastes haven't changed; they still love their old favourites, but my mother leans more towards country and loves blue rodeo; my father likes opera and has a preference towards female torch singers (i bought him the latest from florence + the machine last christmas, and bizarrely enough, he really likes metric). but like i said, they both still have a soft spot for the music that i ended up growing up on (which had the opposite effect on me -- it's all blech to me), and so when i saw that gordon lightfoot had both a new live album coming out and he'd be doing an autograph session at the bookstore not far from my apartment...sold. especially since mother's day is coming up, and even my father - seventeen years divorced from my mother, but still on good terms - exclaimed, "that's a great idea! she'll love that!" that was all the encouragement i needed.

so, despite my begrudging attitude towards lightfoot's music as being one of the soft-folk soundtracks of my childhood repeated over and over and over (my earworms include "sundown" and "if you could read my mind", argh), i joined the large collection of people (of all ages!) for his talk about the live album and an autograph signing. dude looked pretty decent for 73 years old, and surprisingly more badass than i was expecting. i mean, did any of you know that he's got six kids from four different women? gordon lightfoot is a mac daddy.

but the event was a little over three hours, and as i mentioned at the start of this post, i was incredibly sick. i've been sick since last weekend with the first cold i've caught in probably two years, and so it's been a doozy. yet even with the cloud of clogged sinuses and raw throat hanging over me, i knew i had to attend this goddamn event. i had to get a cd autographed for my mom. every time i felt like shit and wondered if i should just leave, i tried to remember how many times she'd ferried me to and from school and karate class and whatever else when she was sick. so, i stayed put.

a funny thing happened while the line was inching closer to mr. lightfoot, though. the music softly being played overhead was, of course, the new live album itself, and so there i was, listening to the music of my childhood. and for a minute, it was like i was back in our old stone house on a weekend afternoon, with my family still in one piece, and my entire life ahead of me.

i've mentioned before that sometimes it's hard for me to think back on my childhood and not view it in a completely detached way -- like it was a movie i watched, or something that happened to somebody else. not saying that my childhood was traumatic or anything; it's just the way i feel, like it was so long ago that i'm utterly removed from it now. but every now and again, something - like hearing "the wreck of the edmund fitzgerald" - will bring me back, and remind me that i haven't been a twentysomething woman (with great taste in music!) all my life.

anyway, i digress. yes, i did get that goddamn autograph (a wonderfully scrawled "to betsy" with a signature). i even got a bonus wink from gordon lightfoot, which actually sort of made my night. hah!

and then i dragged my ass to the supermarket, bought a giant bottle of diet ginger ale, and made my feverish way back home in the freezing cold wind and rain.

i sent off that cd the very next day (i couldn't risk my mother going out and buying the new album herself, which she's likely to do), so hopefully she'll be receiving her very own personalized gordon lightfoot album by the end of the week. and while i'm not entirely sure how much it'll mean to her - unlike her daughter, my mother has never been the idolizing type - i feel good for doing it, myself. small selfless acts to give back to parents for their bazillion giant selfless acts, huzzah!

i am never becoming a parent, but if i did, i would like to think i would raise my kid on good music.

[ music | caps vs. bruins game 7 ]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

remotivate me

so: the hunt for a creative outlet.

it's come to my attention lately (well, over the last year or so) that i don't exactly have a lot of hobbies, and what i would really like is a creative outlet of some sort. adam sent me some good advice the other day, saying that people need a creative project in their life to balance out their work life -- that is, you have to have something you're doing for yourself as opposed to something you're doing for other people. and yes, yes, one hundred times yes. i absolutely understand this.

the problem with me is that i have a difficult time committing myself to things like weekly classes. i know i've talked about this before, but i'm missing some part of my brain that gives me the discipline to commit myself to something week after week. plus, group classes weird me out. i feel like i've gotten more antisocial in my old age (or maybe it's because i'm not having to work retail jobs any more, so i don't have to be friendly to strangers all day every day), so that's definitely a no.

as i said to jenna the other day, i really want something like a personal project to work on in my off-hours -- like, i want to come home and sew a quilt or something. maybe i should go full hipster and start making jewellery to sell on etsy (which would be something of a return to my roots -- i went through a huge jewellery-making phase as a kid). the boy pointed out, "well, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen," and this is true -- there's really nowhere i'd rather be in the entire apartment than the kitchen, and that's not a sexist thing at all. so that's something to build on - i'm always happy when i have a few kitchen projects to look forward to, whether it's baking cookies or canning my own preserves - but still, i want something with a more tangible result than just my widening waistline. (although i have returned to cooking more, and it's made a bit of a difference for my self-satisfaction.)

so that's the rub, because i definitely know that if i had a personal project to work on in my off-time, i would be so much happier. i would be a lot more balanced if my life was more than just wake up -> job -> gym -> home -> sleep. i need a little more meaning than that, thanks.

do i find a way to blog more? do i start writing a book that i can work on little by little? do i find some kind of cooking/baking gimmick (like going through the entirely of a cookbook, or whatever)? do i try to get back into photography? do i start some sort of niche blog/tumblr/whatever? do i volunteer my services for a niche blog/tumblr/whatever? do i return to the wild world of message board communities? do i need to read a book a week?

i need to stop filling my hours with eating snacks and buying things on the internet, basically.

in further news, i'm typing this on the couch while wearing pajamas and draped in a blanket -- after having a successful immune system for almost two years, it's finally bit the dust. right at the same time as the monthly girl-plague hit, too. i am a bag of sick and misery.

back to watching playoff hockey.

[ music | nbc hockey theme song ]

Monday, April 9, 2012

old gods almost dead

many thanks to all the reads and comments on my previous (very personal) blog post. it was something that'd been brewing for a while, and i finally got the point where i had to get it out. it's that kind of thing that i should eventually articulate fully in writing - since there are numerous people who've been after me to write a book for years now - so i guess that last blog post would be a teaser for what lies in my murky, messed-up past? alright.

it's funny - when i look at all the crazed female fans of, like, one direction or justin bieber or whoever, i don't feel the same sort of connection. i mean, i definitely remember what it's like to be a fan, but it feels different to observe it. for them, they're young enough that it's a phase they'll probably grow out of by the time they hit their twenties. for me, i was old enough to know better. instead of a phase, i made it a way of life, a self-definition - and that's where things got emotionally dangerous. marianne helped define it in the comments on the last post: you can invest yourself in the music, but not in the people behind it.

yeah, about that...

upon reading that last blog post again, it really stood out to me how it was from my "before" period -- that is, the period of time before i starting sleeping with musicians. the part of my life i was referring to in the last post was back when i was still just a worshipful fan, and i hadn't yet taken the step into becoming sexually involved with these guys. as a postscript, know that it wasn't too long afterwards that i did; probably only six months, if that. so that time eight years ago was also a reflection of what it was like on the precipice between innocent fan and angst-wrought groupie. neither of which was an easy ride, i can tell you.

coincidentally, the boy and i caught control (the biopic of ian curtis from joy division) on tv the other week, which is one of my all-time favourite movies. yet the main reason why i love watching control - and why i have a hard time with it - is because of how much i empathize with the groupie, annik. everything from the way she curls up with ian on the couch the first night they meet to the way she stares up at him when he's onstage with a look that's both pride and delight. that part where she tells him she's afraid to fall in love with him? yep, been there. seriously, i've mentioned it before, but the scene where you see her face fall as ian gets up to take the phone call from his wife...shit, man. it was this point where i pointed to the screen and succinctly said, "that expression on her face was five years of my life." and it was, and it sucked.

tableau at the height/heart of it, summer 2006.

but i guess that's all for part 2 of the blog post, which may or may never come. we'll see.

i was talking to my mother last week about these epiphanies - she was the one who frequently had to deal with my sobbing phone calls, after all - and during this discussion, i finally admitted it aloud: "maybe i'm ready to move forward with my life. maybe i'm getting to the point where i'm okay with closing the door on my past and admitting that it's not something i should be trying to get back." and that could be true. i think now, at 28 going on 29 years old, i might be finally ready to move past this idea that i could once again be a rail-thin wild child who works a crappy part-time job by day and parties with rock stars all night. sure, it sounds fun, and it was my life at one point...but now, maybe i'm getting to the point where i can admit that i'm, well, over it. i don't want to pressure myself into being 23 again. being 28 - with a lovely boyfriend, a steady job and a beautiful roof over my head - definitely has its perks.

cute how my mother then implored that i "not regret" any of the things i did when i was younger. that was never on the table for me; i don't even believe in regret. i am who i am today because of those times, but like i said, i think i need to stop trying to get back to them. i can't keep holding those days up as the bar by which i measure my personal happiness. (because for all the moments of happiness, my rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia never seem to see the really dark, miserable, shitty parts of my life back then.)

i do see brighter things ahead, though, and that's partially what inspired the last post. suddenly, i've found that i'm able to let things go more easily these days. i'm working on a separate blog post about that, but for the most part, i'm noticing that personal things don't bother me as much any more, and i've more or less stopped caring what anyone else thinks of me -- because i'm getting to the point where i'm okay with who i am. i'm pretty sure that's all connected to the above. but who knows.

anyway, that's just where i'm at right now, and i figured an update was necessary. progress! and such. (brought to you by monday-night vodka.)

[ music | crystal castles ft. robert smith, "not in love" ]