Caught in a one-way street…

I didn’t make a single post in the month of May and we’re already approaching the end of June.

Generally in the long stretches between posts, I start, revisit, abandon, and/or delete half a dozen drafts trying to come up with something to write that doesn’t make me want to bang my head against the wall.

This time around…

I don’t think I even really opened WordPress.

I’ve barely been writing anything.

I started this post over a week ago and this is as far as I’ve gotten.

I’m stuck in this weird paralysis with writing as of late. I can’t quite pinpoint what’s causing it, other than a complete lack of inspiration. (Okay, that and the horrifying state of the world. URGH.) I spend a large portion of every day staring at a blinking cursor in Word, but very few words end up on the page. And what I have written is just garbage. FNEH.

 

Listing…

1.) My nose surgery is scheduled for July 10th. I don’t have a time yet, as they don’t give you that information until a couple days before. I have a pre-op appointment on the 3rd and a post-op on the 14th. The anxiety is already high and it will spike exponentially when the time arrives, but it’s scheduled. And I only had one bad panic attack in the process. There’s a part of me that worries that I’m going to go through this and it’s not going to solve anything—as is my track record with just about ANYTHING health related—but I’m trying to remain realistically optimistic that I’ll be able to breathe properly through my nose when all is said and done.

2.) The new Stormblood expansion for Final Fantasy XIV is out. Bob is on vacation this week to play. This is what we do for vacation. We stay home and play video games. We don’t need fancy (stressful, exhausting, expensive) trips. Avoiding people from the comfort of our home for an entire week is our ideal getaway. (Though FFXIV is an MMO so there is actually interaction with real people while playing. They’re just on the other side of the computer screen.) More than anything, I just love having Bob all to myself for a week.

3.) Andy Grammer put out a new song. Ryan Star put out a new song. These things make me happy.

4.) Savage Garden’s I Want You video recently popped up on Youtube recommendations and then I followed the trail and ended up on their Affirmation video and was pummeled by a nostalgia freight train. That was the first concert I saw as an adult and it pretty well cemented my deep-rooted love for live music.

5.) This is a picture of an itty-bitty-teeny-tiny frog. We went to the in-laws for father’s day and there were literally dozens of these tiny little frogs hopping around the yard. So, so TINY. This little guy could sit on my thumbnail with room to spare. He was so tiny he kept stumbling on the rough surface of the patio as he hopped around. I wanted to keep them all.

(Spell check wants to change itty to titty and that amuses me because I am twelve.)

Between the lines…

I keep opening up WordPress and staring at my dashboard thinking I need to write something, but mostly I just hear a lot of screaming inside my head. This is because I usually just read the latest headline regarding a certain deranged, blaze orange, narcissistic game show host who’s about to be given free reign over nuclear weapons and all his willfully ignorant and deranged cult followers.

But I don’t want to talk about that.

Instead, listing…

1.) I’ve been listening to the same music on repeat. This isn’t exactly a new thing, but my sanity is at critical mass regarding the aforementioned Shit I Don’t Want To Talk About and I need to maintain some semblance of calm in my bad addled brain. Nothing achieves that quite like listening to music I love ad nauseam. Right now we’ve got O.A.R., Andy Grammer, Eric Hutchinson, and Ingram Hill in heavy rotation. They are good for the soul.

2.) The Christmas tree still stands in the living room, in part because I am a procrastinator, and in part because I don’t want to put away the lights. I want to keep the lights up year round. I don’t need the tree or the ornaments, just the lights. I wonder if I could convince Robert to let me hang some in the loft…

3.) Basil seems to have expended all of his Tyler pipe dreams. Which is a bit of a blessing and relief, but he’s also being obnoxiously quiet on ideas in general. Because of course he is. There is no in between with him. Because he’s an asshole. But we’ve been over this.

4.) I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really only one story in the active list that is truly viable in its current state. As in, it has a definitive start and end point, and a clear plot in the middle. I’ve been beating my head against the wall over it for over a decade at this point (or half a decade as it currently exists) but it’s the one I should really be focusing on. Perhaps I should be listening to the Ben & Marina soundtrack on repeat for inspiration.

5.) I have a long list of house projects I need to get done but my focus is shot. (No–no, more than usual.) They are mostly small things that would take little time to complete, and having it done would make a lot of other things so much easier, but…ech… (see list item number one)

6.) Costco stopped selling Sobe vitamin water so we switched to the Vitamin Water brand. It’s taken some adjustment because we are creatures of habit and resistant to change. Something so insignificant shouldn’t cause such a disturbance, but we’re great like that. The orange flavor tastes like watered down Tang. Watered down Tang reminds me of the Farm. That was always pretty much the only available beverage for YEARS because well water wasn’t suitable for drinking. Christmas this year had me feeling a little wistful about the Farm. The family is gearing up to sell it now that both my grandparents are gone and it feels really weird to know that I’m probably never going to see the place again. I didn’t spend nearly as much time there as a lot of my cousins (or even my siblings) but it’s always been THERE and it won’t be long before it’s gone. (Or under new ownership, that is.)

7.) Life. It’s weirdly exhausting.

Emotionally overrun…

I try to keep up with current events in the news so I have at least some idea of what’s going on in the world, but it can really take a harsh toll on my mental health. Especially as of late with the rapidly approaching election and the terrifying prospect of a horrific, degenerate psychopath becoming our next president.

Instead…

Things that are good…

1.) We ordered new blinds for all of our windows. (All four of them.) The ones that came with the house were poorly installed and ill-maintained and the one in the living room doesn’t even cover the whole (seven-foot-tall) window. There’s also been nothing on the transom over the front door. Both cause a lot of annoyance sitting in the living room with blinding sunlight in the afternoon/evening. We haven’t installed them yet, but we have given ourselves the deadline of November 29th when Final Fantasy XV [finally] comes out and we’ll be spending a lot more time downstairs. I’m excited to have nice, clean, new blinds on all of our windows.

2.) Related, Final Fantasy XV is finally coming out at the end of November. They’ve been stringing fans along for over a decade at this point. Bob is such a huge FF fan and his excitement over the game is so gaddamn adorable I just want to squeeze him. So I do.

3.) This weekend is Bob’s birthday and I’ve made him a ridiculous cake experiment of cheesecake and lemon bars and I have no idea what it’s going to be like when I cut into it, but we’ll see how it turns out. It certainly won’t taste bad. I rarely bake anything these days unless an occasion calls for it, so why not go all out for my husband’s birthday?

4.) We’ve finally had a good run of hoodie weather and it has been a much needed relief for my bad-addled brain. We had to break down and turn the heat on this weekend, but I’ll take layers of blankets over hotter-than-hades any day.

5.) We saw Andy Grammer and Gavin DeGraw play at Mystic Lake. I have many things to say about it (we’ll see if it ever gets written) but in a nutshell…HOT DAMN they are both so fucking good at what they do. I’ve been waiting four years for AG to play a local show at a decent venue and he was SO worth the wait. And while Gavin DeGraw has been on my musical radar for more than a decade, I’d never given much thought to seeing him live, but damn. He’s good.

Gator came with as my Xanax for the night. He hasn’t been to a show since Red Rocks so it was fitting. And deliberate. Gator loves him some AG.


(Back Home [live] by Andy Grammer)


(Something Worth Saving [live] by Gavin DeGraw)

Lean in for a sweet ride…

I have eight-thousand-some-odd tracks in my iTunes library. And I have a few hundred CDs that have never been ripped to digital form. (When I condensed all of our physical media into a smaller space, I realized just how many albums I have that are not on my computer. It would take days to rip all of them.) And I’m always on the prowl for more.

Never.

Enough.

Music.

Even so, I have a habit of listening to the same handful of artists over and over again. It’s kind of ridiculous.

And by “kind of” I mean EXTREMELY.

When I actually venture outside of my ad nauseam collection I often find myself wondering why I don’t listen to a given artist more often. There are some that just sound so damn good, but I keep falling back into the old familiar.

Nine Days is one of those bands. They’ve been on my radar since they hit with Absolutely (Story of a Girl) way back in 2000. It took me until I was up to my eyeballs in iTunes to finally add them to my library, and eventually add in the rest of their catalog. They put out a crowd-funded album in 2013 and they’ve been lingering on the outskirts of my music consciousness ever since.

They just put out a new album last week. Complete with a Sweet Sixteen version of Absolutely. And as I listen to it over and over again, I find myself wondering why don’t I listen to these guys more often?

They are So. Damn. Good.

While their last album had a little more country twang to it, this one returns to the more alternative sound of previous ventures. There’s still a little twang here and there, but overall it’s still the Nine Days sound.

Obsolete makes me feel kind of old as it calls out outdated technology that I once made heavy use of.

Snapshots is fitting to the modern age and the always-connected aspects of life, reminding one to stop and actually experience a moment instead of just recording it for posterity.

Conspiracy probably amuses me far more than it should as it mentions D.B. Cooper just as the FBI announced they’ve put the unsolved mystery to rest after four decades.

The whole album is solid start to finish. John and Brian split pretty evenly on vocals and they create some pretty fantastic sounds.

It’s damn good.

That’s really all I can say.

Something you just can’t explain…

Sister Hazel hit in 1997 with All For You. (ZOMG Jett and Ryan and their long, flowy hair.) I remember the song getting a lot of airplay, and to a lesser degree I remember Change Your Mind. But it wasn’t until they released Chasing Daylight and Your Mistake that the switch really flipped and the band officially invaded my orbit.

They’ve been a constant ever since.

(And it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that they have several songs on the Ben and Marina soundtrack.)

Chasing Daylight, Lift, and Absolutely are the albums I know best, but they’ve consistently put out one solid album after another over the course of the last twenty-some years. The sound has shifted around in that time, but there is a distinct characteristic that is just very Sister Hazel.

Tuesday afternoon Lighter in the Dark landed in my mailbox. It’s their tenth studio album and thirteenth album overall. (I think…I could be mathing wrong…)

And oof.

It’s so damn good.

There’s a little more country twang to this one, but it’s still distinctly Hazel, and dear dog the sound that Ken and Drew create singing together hits all the right triggers in my music-obsessed heart. We also get to hear Jett chime in for the first time on Ten Candle Days. And Thoroughbred Heart is entirely Ryan. (I assume…he wrote the song and it’s not Ken or Drew singing.)

Right now That Kind of Beautiful is front runner for favorite track, but the whole album is fantastic start to finish.

I love this band.

So much.

That’s really all I can say.

Lost in a tricky maze…

Anxiety is a weird beast.

Strange things spike it at even stranger times and I find myself jittery and nauseous with shooting pains, all over something completely innocuous.

Fun times.

And by fun, I mean EFF YOOO.

Anyway.

Things that are good…

1.) I fixate a little too much on word counts when it comes to writing, but watching the numbers climb makes me feel accomplished. Especially when the writing is slow going. Even when the project I’m working on is, if we’re being realistic, essentially a clone of another story I’ve already spilled thousands of words on. One of these times I’ll get it right. And I’ll celebrate every time another 10K gets added to the pile.

2.) We’re going to see Lazer Team on the 27th. At a movie theater. For a crowdfunded movie without a powerhouse to fund distribution, that’s a pretty sweet deal. I [heart] all things Rooster Teeth. This is known. (We so rarely actually see movies in the theater, but now we’ll be seeing two in as many months. Who even are we?)

3.) Sister Hazel is releasing a new album February 19th. I am stupidly excited. I love this band so much.

4.) Cisco Ramon is probably my favorite character on The Flash and I would like to cuddle the hell out of him. And then I found out Carlos Valdes sings too. His voice hits all the right triggers in my music obsessed heart.

5.) Flash and Arrow come back in a few weeks. And the new Legends of Tomorrow starts then too. Even with all the superhero camp, I haven’t loved a set of TV characters this much in a very long time.

6.) My top 10 most played artists for 2015 were [once again] a bit singularly O.A.R. focused. And then Matt Nathanson put out a new album. And then I went on a Train kick. And as I sit here listening to Billy Joel sing Shameless, I regret nothing about my listening habits. I will listen to the same song on repeat for hours if I have to. And I often do. Music is as essential to my existence as the air I breathe. (Also writing. And Bob.) Judge me all you want.

 

7.) The rest of our furniture was finally delivered. It’s all smooth and new and smells like wood and stain. As it turns out, a narrow room is really awkward to photograph, so everything looks a bit wonky and more cramped than it actually is. Someday we will paint over that red wall that came with the house. Someday. (Now we need a bigger TV. And a smaller subwoofer. Again…someday.)

Every song was an anthem…

I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard Matt Nathanson, but I know it was right around the same time I discovered Ingram Hill—somewhere in the ballpark of 2003/2004 methinks.

Beneath These Fireworks was his current album at the time and I really loved that disc, but it took a little time for the switch to flip and things to go from Hey I like this guy to ZOMG I FUCKING LOVE THIS GUY. I’m not entirely sure when that switch flipped on him, but I remember being REALLY excited when he started getting airplay on Cities 97 with Car Crash and then Come On Get Higher hit and suddenly he was known.

(Fun fact: it’s because of Come on Get Higher that Bob actually recognizes MN anytime his music is playing. Robert doesn’t often retain artist/song affiliations…unless it’s someone I beat to death listen to A LOT.)

Much like all the music I love, I couldn’t tell you what it is I love so much about this guy or his songs…

…but damn.

He is so fucking good at what he does.

He’s also snarky as all get out, bloody hilarious, the king of self-deprecation, and totally on The List.

What.

He put out a new album called Show Me Your Fangs and once again…

Hot.

Damn.

It’s only 10 songs and 35 minutes long, but that just means I get more repeat plays in, in a given time frame.

(But seriously thirty-five minutes???)

I’m partial to Headphones—even though he released that song last summer so it’s not exactly new. Giants is pretty fantastic, Playlists & Apologies is just a killer title, and there are so many awesome lines across the board. It’s a solid album start to finish.

He does not disappoint.

Now if he would just headline a show at a venue around here that’s NOT standing room only…

(Giants by Matt Nathanson)

(Headphones (acoustic) by Matt Nathanson)

Pick up that precious something…

…and relax for a delicate few…

It’s been almost three years since our trip to Colorado. I never wrote the detailed post I had planned about it, complete with pictures and a lot of flailing about music and mountains. At the time I couldn’t write about it without ugly crying all over my computer. At this point, I think it’s best left to the mental archives.

The trip was worth every last one of those 1800+ miles we drove, but neither one of us has been in any hurry to do anything like it again anytime soon.

Until now.

On a MUCH smaller scale.

   

   

   

   

   

1.) We went to Bemidji and saw O.A.R. play the Sanford Center. Because Sara needs her live music fix. When we hit the highway on our way to get gas before heading out of town, Two Hands Up was the first song to come on the radio. I took that as a good sign for the trip. And then we got to hear it live a few hours later.

2.) Following the [sometimes drunk, apparently] GPS, it took us about 3.5 hours to drive up. The scenery is mostly trees and trees and trees and trees…and trees…and trees…and cows.

3.) Just shy of two hundred miles from home. Joel the Obstinate and Cursed Jetta was very well behaved.

4.) We stayed at the Doubletree. Expensive and fancy, but new, clean, and they gave us warm cookies at check-in.

5.) The description online when I booked the room said balcony with lake view. I had no idea Lake Bemidji would be right there.

6.) We went to dinner at Hurricane Grill and Wings. I had a chicken wrap and Bob had Mahi. It was good food.

7.) The venue was right next to the hotel. We could have just walked over (about half a mile across parking lots), but it was colder and rainier than we would have liked for the distance. Our seats weren’t bad and for the first time ever I wasn’t stuck behind the tallest person in the building…because there wasn’t anybody directly in front of us.

8.) The opening act was a band called The Wind + The Wave. I’d never heard of them before. They’re kind of that southern-folky-sound that’s all over the place these days. Not quite my style of music, but they were entertaining and put on a solid performance.

9.) O.A.R. was every bit as fan-fucking-tastic as I had hoped. They played a lot of their older stuff so it was fun to see how they have evolved over the last two decades. And if I could only pick one song that I really wanted to hear, it would have been Place to Hide, and I got exactly that.

10.) I would like to take Marc Roberge home with me and keep him and have him sit on my desk all adorable like and sing to me all day long. (Though I’d take any one of them. They’re all so damn adorable.)

11.) Post show, with ringing ears, we settled in bed and watched Game of Thrones and skimmed late night cable before crashing. My brain decided to be a total asshole and deprive me of sleep, but it allowed me a lot of time to have staring contests with Eeyore and plot writing ideas that are still stuck in my head.

12.) We were awake by 8AM so we got ready and checked out of the hotel. We stopped to see Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox like good little tourists. We could have taken time to see more, but it was 30 degrees and windy and starting to snow and we’re kind of lazy.

13.) We had breakfast at the Minnesota Nice Cafe. Bob had a corned beef hash omlet and I had a lumberjack breakfast—eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast—and I ate all of it.

14.) We hit the road home after breakfast. Another 3.5 hours later we stopped for gas—we’d been pushing the red line for about the final 20 miles…daredevils, us—and then made it home. Joel averaged about 30mpg on a single tank of gas. Not bad for a 13 year old car.

15.) I posted this picture on Twitter, set my phone on my desk, and barely ten seconds later it buzzed to notify me the band had favorited my tweet. Benj is on the ball with that social media apparently.

Also, I predicted accurately. They’re coming back on their summer tour, but they’re playing the Basilica Block Party. That would be an even bigger nightmare than a small, standing-room-only venue. I made the right call on the road trip.

So worth it.

Save me that frustration…

Dear Writer’s Block,

You are an insufferable bitch.

GTFO please and thank you.

No love,
—Me

Something, something, dead horses.

When the writing sits at critical mass for extended periods of time, my brain comes up with a lot of inane activities to fill the void. (No, no, more inane than usual.) I was looking at my Last.fm stats…like I do…and noticed a couple of artists were sitting at nice clean numbers. And then I started doing math to see how many plays it would take to get the other top artists on the page to equally clean numbers. And then that was the only thing I listened to until I had those numbers. Some only took a handful of plays, while others took a few dozen. And then Last.fm forgot how to math and the plays didn’t add up properly on every artist so I had to keep listening until it was correct and…well…the only thing that I really accomplished was a screen shot I could make a blog post about because I have nothing else to write about.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

You can’t possibly be surprised anymore.

You know, for being my very favorite band, Train is only in 5th place on this list. They have some catching up to do. It used to be an ever-rotating competition for them with 3 Doors Down and Ingram Hill in the top three. Then Andy Grammer entered the picture. Then Ryan Star. Then the switch flipped on O.A.R. and…Ingram Hill is still top three but Train and 3 Doors Down have fallen down the list. Although 3DD hasn’t put out an album since their Greatest Hits in 2012 so that might have something to do with their slip. They keep talking about being in the studio, but there’s never any release date mentioned. THROW ME A FRICKIN’ BONE, BOYS. And it will be a little weird when they do finally put out an album since Matt and Todd are no longer in the band. Change and all that.

*sigh*

Sometime in junior high or high school—the memory is foggy at this point—I started writing a story dubbed the Dysfunctional Family story. (DysFam for short.) It was the main character and her brother and their life split between their divorced parents. Life with their mom, stepdad, and his kids was a miserable time. Life with their dad, stepmom, and her kids was the safe-haven. I concocted a number of different versions of this tale, but it never went anywhere because I never really had a clear plot to follow. It eventually fell into the archives, but the idea was always there to randomly poke me in the brain.

Several years later, that idea resurfaced. The characters were aged to match, and instead of desperately trying to get away from life with her mother, the main character finds herself moving back into the house she always hated while she goes to grad school. Instead of a constant war, the focus is on mending fences and building something other than volatile relationships with the step-family. (And probably a brewing romance on the side with some guy she meets elsewhere.) There was an actual plotline, but it never really went anywhere for unknown reasons, and back into the archives it went.

Skip ahead another decade or so and I find myself with this idea jabbing me at the front of the brain again in several incarnations. It could be just a desperate attempt to combat the relentless writer’s block. Or it could be I have an actual idea (or…a few) I can work with. I’ve built up a lot of story in my head at this point, but whatever I’ve tried to put down on the page looks more like I just rolled my face across the keyboard a few times. It’s gibberish.

The original idea that cropped up…recently…sometime within the last…few months?…can’t brain…actually had nothing to do with the old DysFam idea. It was something else entirely. But as it started developing, it managed to warp itself into that old idea. It fits. Surprisingly well, actually. I just can’t seem to get it down on the page and have it not look like I face-rolled my laptop. I have no idea how to get around this roadblock and it’s driving me absolutely crazy.

At this point, it has a pretty strong potential to turn into a hodgepodge of conversations with no rhyme or reason to them at all—scenes without stories—and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s not at all what I want.

Something, something, mother effing writer’s block.

And dead horses.

Give it more than a try…

Listing…because insomnia.

Sleep is for the weak.

1.) I’m listening to The Monkees. Because I like them.

2.) I have an itchy, scaly Proactiv Patch around my left eye. I’ve been coating it in Cetaphil, but my paranoia is in overdrive. It’s been 14 years since Proactiv Solution corroded my face off, but that is exactly how that clusterfuck started.

3.) I’ve been stabbing at some stylesheets for different blog themes. I’ve lost most of my ability to read CSS. Also whoever designed these particular themes has so much extra crap in their code (and no comments FFS), it takes forever to weed through the shit to find the pieces I want to edit. It doesn’t need to be that complicated, idiots.

4.) We’re going to Bemidji in three weeks to see O.A.R. live. Because seeing concerts at local venues is overrated apparently (See: Train at Red Rocks). Also I’m not risking them not coming through town again on their inevitable summer tour (See: Train and Matt Nathanson) or coming through and playing a fekking venue with no reserved seating (See: ANDY GRAMMER). Also I just REEEALLY want to see them and the opportunity is right there (or three hours away as the case may be) and when I posed the question to Robert, his response was essentially you know where my credit card is. We’ll be staying in a hotel for a night because we’re not making a three hour drive home after a concert.

I am stupidly excited.

5.) We finally finished watching the final season of Being Human. So very, very many sharks. So very many Sam Witwer sex scenes. (That second part is not a complaint…ahem…)

6.) A month ago insomnia spurred the brilliant idea to start watching The Flash. I watched every available episode and then started watching it over again with Bob. I fully expected campy, but the sheer volume of SHARKS in that show is ri-god-damn-diculous. Especially in the episode from last week. Why didn’t you just make that third gun shoot sharks, CISCO??? Bob’s not really crazy about the show, but he’s more in it for the entertainment of watching something together. And he keeps predicting every (predictable) thing before it happens and that is amusing to me.

7.) As a concession, I started watching The Walking Dead. Bob’s been watching from the beginning, but I haven’t been on board because ech can we please be DONE with the damn zombie movie/show/whathaveyou epidemic? He’s been trying to convince me all along to start watching, but I’ve been a hard sale. I decided to give it a shot and agreed to watch the first season. I’m still not entirely sold—none of the characters have really caught my attention—but we just started season three. And Bob’s so excited to be watching it with me, I’ll stick with it just for the chance to see the goofy grin he gets while talking about it. I spend a lot of time saying WTAF and AYFKM, the walkers are absolutely disgusting, and I keep having dreams about zombies, but dammit, it’s all for the love of my effing adorable husband.

8.) Watching The Flash got me curious about Arrow. (The former is a spinoff of the latter.) Since we’ve caught up on Barry Allen and his plethora of sharks, we started watching season one of Arrow. It’s far less campy and fluffy than The Flash, and the acting is far better. The tone is more serious, but there are still some pretty ridiculous aspects. We’re only a few episodes in, but it seems decent so far. Non-douchebag Oliver is more likeable than I expected and I think Digg will probably be my favorite. We shall see how things go.

9.) The other day I was brushing my teeth and noticed a bright white something sitting on the counter next to the soap dispenser. I picked it up and discovered it was one of my blood pressure pills. I have no idea how it got there, but when I counted the pills in the bottle, it was the correct number. At some point apparently I missed my mouth with one and it managed to land in a somewhat baffling location without my noticing. Granted they’re tiny pills I can swallow without water, so missing my mouth and not noticing isn’t too far of a stretch of the imagination, but the location it landed in was weird. I have no idea what day I actually missed, but I was hit with a killer headache about 4AM that same morning, so it could have been the day before and my blood pressure went wonky on me while I was trying to sleep. I checked it after I discovered the rogue pill and it was 115/79 so it was perfectly fine at that moment.

I’m far more fixated on the mystery pill than I should be, but this is me.

I guess I’ll never know.