Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas is coming!

It's almost here! Right now, in laying on the couch with Willy. We're listening to The Big Broadcast on NPR while our fake Wii fireplace roars on the TV. I've got tea and after a workout, band practice, and a good clean dinner (fish and green beans) I'm feeling pretty good!

I thought that enjoying Christmas treats would be okay but to be honest, I just hate how it makes me feel. I get all depressed and fatigued and there's nothing fun about that. I hope I can just keep telling myself that. I was planning on making paella for Christmas but the truth is, not only would eating a bunch of rice make me feel gross, but my mom has diabetes. I hate the idea of putting out something starchy that will make her sick. So, I figure, why not do a big beautiful pot roast? Everyone will love it, it will be healthy, and I won't have to worry about feeling gross after. That'll be a gift to my mom and myself and our family.

And now I gotta get some sleep. Tomorrow I gotta to to the post office and try to find myself a Dutch oven, though I'm terrified of Christmas eve shopping!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A confession in the name of rock..

Alright people, brace yourselves. What I'm about to tell you is pretty insane. I, your resident Queen of Hell, your party-going binge-drinking metal-loving card-carying mosh-pit enthusiast... do not like "rock n' roll".

Try not to pee yourself. I shall explain.

I'm not sure how it happened, but during my formulative years I wasn't really exposed to rock. Metal? a little. I found that I was drawn to musicals, which makes sense, because all my parents let me watch were Disney movies. My neighborhood was decidedly more into hip hop, and my parents wouldn't let me listen to it. Nor was I allowed to listen to Madonna, who would have been a terrible example anyway (thanks, mom and dad!). You all know this story. I grew up sheltered. But even when I got to high school, and even as I tried my best to like the popular music, none of it stuck. I didn't FEEL anything. I listened to DC101 and 98Rock and gave Nirvana and Creed and Hole and Garbage and whoever else was famous at the time a genuine try. Nothin'. It didn't hit me in the heart.

I discovered metal just a bit after, but only because X Japan made me realize why I liked them; it wasn't the ballads, or the genuine emotional blah blah blah, it was their few (very few) truly HEAVY METAL songs that I wanted and craved. I needed more of THAT, I decided. And here we are today.

So even now, as I listen to a swingin' rock n' roll beat, a nice guitar, something uplifting and happy and party-rockin', I am dead inside. Like a petrified corpse. It just doesn't hit me, and in a way, that makes me kind of sad. Everyone loves rock n' roll, right? Instead, I feel like the chick at the end of the movie version of Christine. As she sees the smoking cube of what used to be a murderous mass of metal, and a dude walks by with a boom box playing classic rock.

"I hate rock n' roll."

I feel you, sister. Though, admittedly, for much different reasons.

How is it possible to hate rock and absolutely love metal? I really have no idea. There's a really fine line between the two, after all. Some of Priest's more uh.. sparkly stuff could easily be considered rock, but I still like it kinda. I enjoy listening to AC/DC. That's rock, right? But man, that swinging happy "hard rock" on the radio about doin' people and partying or crying about your boyfriend or whatever.. it just does not click with me. Even when Hammerfall sings songs about cheating on their girlfriend and getting caught (I shit you not) it typically doesn't vibe well with me. Real-world situations and relatable content? Not to me, it isn't.

I don't know, maybe I'm just weird. But, if you should happen to see me cringe once someone turns on the "latest hits" on the radio, now you know why.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving!

It's that time of the year, again. The time when everyone posts what they're thankful for on Facebook, leaving you to question your own life and figure out what it is that you're thankful for.

I have a lot of be thankful for, I know. Willy reminds me constantly. And I try to tell them, as often as I can, how much I appreciate having a band that is as talented and fun to be with as mine. So allow me to gush a little bit.

1. Jesse. Finally, a bass player who can not only play bass well, and by EAR no less, but who can also play keyboard so I don't have to. A bass player who has character, who moves around the stage with me, who plays along when I do goofy singer things, who actually SINGS with me. Jesse, who is definitely the best looking person on stage, taking the attention way from me every night with his curly hair and Undertaker-like hat. I am so thankful for Jesse that I'm willing to put a tracking device in his neck and keep it active for the rest of his life.

2. Chris. Hands down the best drummer I've ever known, and I didn't even need to sell my first born child to get him! This is a guy who pushes himself without needing someone else to do it for him. A guy who actually really wants to be the best. He's a gaddamn show off, and even if Josh says it throws off the attention sometimes (lol), I don't particularly mind because how many other bands can say they have a drummer who can do the shit he does? I'm thankful because after going through, what 6-7 drummers in the past, he's the first guy I've ever met who can just do the things you ask him to do without an issue. "Hey Chris, how about you throw some double bass in there?" How does he answer? Does he say, "I'll work on it, later" like the French dude I played with for one show who came to rehearsal with a huge shiny kit and a zebra striped drum mat? No, he just does it. Because he's Chris and he can.

3. Josh. Okay, he annoys the hell out of me, but there's no denying that he can play circles around all the other jack-offs in this town. Plus, he knows how to write music that isn't boring and stupid. And yes, there's a lot of other things I could say about him (he's one of my best friends at this point) but I'm sticking to music. I'd murder him if he tried to leave. I would go straight up Misery on his ass and break his ankles. He knows this. I will not be forced to work with another shitty guitarist who plays in drop D because it sounds "heavy". I will never be forced to sing Paranoid again.

I'm thankful for these three guys. Not just because it's good to play with them, and write with them, but because I can hang with them. When we tour, it's not just work. It's like a vacation. A magical smelly vacation full of heavy metal and BBQ. After having spent more than a week on the road with these guys, I know there's nothing else I'd rather be doing than get cooped up in a van and driven all over the country to play in front of audiences that could go from tens to hundreds. I love it and I love them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Heading South!

So I finally downloaded an app to blog from my phone. As some of you know, I'm pretty quiet before shows. Even the day of, I try to keep my talking to a minimum. So it's kinda annoying to be in a van with my band and not able to join in much of the conversation. You don't realize how much you miss talking until you can't.

So instead, I'm gonna blog! Specifically, I'm gonna blog about the conversation they were having about what's on everyone's minds; the election. I have a confession! I was a registered Republican, as recently as when I lived in Virginia. I truly believed in conservative ideals. I liked their strong Christian values. Then Obama was elected. Suddenly I realized, all those "Christian values" were, were a thinly veiled way of controlling other people. How did I come to this conclusion? Health care.

So, I grew up without health care. I had asthma and terrible allergies and we never knew why. I had no idea I was allergic to dogs until I was in college and I started to see a pattern, but like most families, we had dogs. I loved my dogs! But I was constantly sick, I caught flus easily, my asthma was bad. My mom would take me to the doctor whenever it got serious. High fevers, ear infections, that kind of thing. As a kid, I never understood the value of those doctors visits. My mom paid cash. My dad was the only one working because it would have costed MORE for my mom to put us in daycare than it would for her to just stay home and take care of us. They made me feel like we were normal, but once I got up college and my asthma got worse, I knew that wasn't true.

One winter, I got asthma bad. Really bad. Dry air always hurts me, but my attack got so bad I couldn't breathe. I felt myself getting light headed as I struggled to breathe, so my mom did the only thing she could and took me to the ER. Some treatments later, I discovered it cost over a thousand dollars. Yes, more than a thousand dollars. I was in college and suddenly the value of health care made sense. I tried my best not to get sick, but things always happened and my asthma didn't get better.

Fast forward to my first job. Right out of college I got a good job and they offered health care. Suddenly I could see a doctor when I needed to. I saw her for asthma, she gave me Advair. I saw her for whatever I needed, and never had to worry about more than a $15 copay. I've had health insurance ever since, and now I understand that value. I understand what it's like to grow up sick, in a nation full of opportunity.

Well I'm one of those "haves" in a world of "have not"s, now. I have a good job, a home, and a family. I'm lucky but there are so many others who aren't. I don't think it's right that children should grow up without health insurance when all it would take is for us to share a little. I understand that some people think that being forced by the government to share is wrong. I get that they don't like the feeling if government control. I get it. And I'm against a lot of government regulations. I just think that maybe we, as Americans, should look at the big picture. Our country will only be stronger if we all have access to health care. That kid who gets treatment for his asthma, he might be your doctor someday. That kid who gets treatment for a birth defect, he might create the greatest invention the US has ever seen. But they can't if we don't help. And I can think of no greater Christian value than charity, especially charity that helps treat the poor and destitute. Double especially when they live in the same country--, hell, the same city as you.

If you are a "have", please think of the "have not"s. Nobody is "entitled" to health care, food, clothing... But in a country as great as ours, shouldn't we want them to have it? I do. That's why I voted for Obama. He sold me on Obamacare. Because of his campaigning on the subject of healthcare for all, he made me into one of his biggest fans. I just want to hug him for all those kids and adults who might never have to live in pain ever again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And then the weekend died..

There's nothing in the world that feels quite as good as proving someone wrong. Remember this blog post on Reverse Psychology? About how when someone doubts me it just makes me want to shove it in their face? Yeah, well that seemed to work out well because this past weekend's Rocktoberfest went really well! I was able to do my duet with Another Lost Year, nothing went wrong (besides their generator not working and out set being pushed back, no big deal tho'), and we wound up having a great time! Monday's show at Baltimore Soundstage went pretty well too, if you ignore certain less than savory fans that seem to come whenever there's a hardcore band around.

I have nothing against the hardcore genre in general, but sometimes their fans... well, they're not my favorite fans, I'll say that.

But we made some new fans, so these past two gigs worked out pretty well. I came home on Saturday to find Willy had gone out late with friends and wound up staying up to wait for him. His phone died, so after he stopped speaking to me for about 6 hours I began imagining what the coroner in DC would say...

"White male, red hair, goatee, smells like beer, found dead at the Friendship Heights Metro station..."

But he came home safe and I gave him a good talking-to about going out alone without letting me know his destination and who he was with. To be honest, most of my time home this weekend was spent sleeping. I got 2 prescriptions from my orthopedist, recently; a strong painkiller, and a muscle relaxer. I can't take either while drinking, so I have to make a conscious decision on which it's gonna be. This weekend it was drinking.. but yanno what? I never really got too drunk. I'm kinda disappointed. I got tipsy at Rocktoberfest, but not as drunk as I would have liked. Same thing at Noise in the Basement. Slightly tipsy, with a headache too. Not fun.

I think I'm gonna need to start organizing my drinking in a better way. I've been doing vodka/diet coke or diet Red Bull lately, but I find that I don't find my sweet spot unless I'm drinking a lot more than I used to. I don't like that.. I used to be such a cheap date! I'm still getting to that happy place on dirty martinis, but I can't usually get a dirty martini at the kind of "establishments" I usually go to. I'm gonna have to start coming up with a game plan for my drinking..

...starting with the Renn Faire this Saturday! This is the last weekend of the MD Renn Faire so Willy and I will be going on Saturday. The game plan? Filling my mug with beer. Several times.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oops..

My bad. I haven't written anything in a while. I'm not sure if I have anything worth writing today, but I'm gonna give it the ole college try!

Things are better, at work. I've been placed in the full reception/security position, so I'm doing what I'm used to; sitting down, typing, checking in guests, answering phones, ect. I like it. It leaves me a bit of extra time to do a lot of scheming, though. In true I WANNA WORK I WANNA WORK I WANNA WORK Nina fashion, I've started various projects. Here are a few of them:

1. Started a short story for Halloween.
2. Wrote up a menu for an O'Toro's food cart.
3. Researched home beer brewing (I made mead at home!).
4. Planned a Christmas party.

Well, all my scheming must have annoyed the hell out of Willy because apparently it stresses him out. I don't know why, but he told me to focus on one thing at a time, which I have a terrible time doing. So for now, it's time for me to do more Halloween Party planning, which is gonna take a bit more effort now that this party has exploded. It's actually got a theme now (it's a surprise!) and a lot more people are coming than I expected, so we're working with Willy's dad to make it look as good as we can.

In other news, I'm done recording for Queen of Hell and Time's Arrow! It was a lengthy process, but it's beautiful. Also, I have two gigs this week! I'll be in South Carolina for Rocktoberfest on Friday, followed by Noise in the Basement for 98 Rock on Sunday and Monday. METAL!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reverse psychology!!

I'm one of those silly people who thrives on reverse psychology. If you tell me I can't do something, I'll work hard to do it, just because I want to SHOVE IT IN YOUR STOOPID FACE.

Background story:

I was asked to do a guest vocal appearance during an upcoming show with a band who goes on after us. The band is certainly not our style (modern radio rock), but, when someone asks me to sing with them, I consider it a compliment. That they actually want to hear me do something for them because they think I can and they think it would be entertaining makes me happy! Why would I say no? So of course I said yes. I listened to the song and thought, "okay, not what I usually do, but still doable". I listened a few more times, got the lyrics, and began studying.

I forwarded the song to a friend of mine, who responded by saying that the song "isn't in your style", "is really high", and "I would say no".

...

Oh no you didn't. People, I am not one of those vocalists who is pinched into a tiny corner because of "style". You're talking about someone who learned to sing by mimicking. I didn't take voice lessons at a young age. Here are the steps I take when learning a song:

1. Get the song
2. Get the lyrics
3. Listen to the song
4. Sing along
5. Repeat steps 3-4 until it's perfect

That's how I roll. It can be any style. I've done this with motown, I've done this with metal, I've done this with Broadway, and I've done this with opera. The song I'm going to be guest-vocalizing on is radio rock. You think I can't do radio rock, you've got another thing coming. Am I gonna do it exactly like the other person did it? No, because I'm not a robot. Am I gonna do it well? You're damn right I am. It might be fueled by the fact that someone didn't believe in me, because as usual, I got somethin' to prove, and that something is that I AM ONE BAD ASS MOTHER $%&ER. That's right people, I am the Shaft of female fronted heavy metal. I come, I conquer, I tear #$&* up and leave the ladies (and gentlemen) begging for more. Bitches. Because if nobody's gonna back me up then I gotta be the one to do it. Because if there's one thing I know for certain, it's how to sing. It's the one thing I know I can do better than anything else, so please, do not test me. Do not try to tell me something is "too high" or, "not in my style" because bitch, I will make it my style. I will make it my ho. I will smack that song around until people say "daaaaaaayum".

Now. If you will excuse me, I'm gonna go listen to the song another ten thousand times.

/NINA OUT

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mission: SUCCESS!

Well, I can breathe now. Metal Quest was indeed a success, and now I don't have to worry about another show until this Friday when we play with Kamelot. HOWEVER, that show isn't a show I put together myself! All I gotta go is make myself presentable and put on a good show. WHEW. For those of you who were not there on Saturday, here's a quick recap.

Metal Quest started out in a flurry of putting together goodie bags and setting up merch tables. Third Eye Comics couldn't spare anyone, so we wound up not having any vendors besides Raven's Own. I was fine with that. We had room for all the bands to sell their things and nobody complained. Hurray! We brought water and beer for the bands, because at the end of the day, I was worried that we wouldn't make enough money to give them something, and we (A Sound of Thunder) at least wanted to give them some food and drink for their trouble. All of the bands were extremely cordial and appreciative, so it made my job much easier.

So the show started an hour late because the venue said it was cool, and people came! They DID! Ender's Game went on at 7 and they actually had a good crowd, thank goodness, because they were fantastic. As a matter of fact, when I was running around getting organized, their sound check suddenly made me feel very calm. That's how good they were. I was personally worried that the bands would either be rushed, or, they wouldn't have enough time, so I was strict with the timing and did a load schedule. Well it worked, but only because all of the bands were so great and professional! Everyone went on/off stage on time and we finished at the correct time! It all felt very good and natural. The best part is that despite talking all day, introducing all of the bands, and being worried about door sales, I actually put on one of my best performances. The guys and I had, I think, the best crowd we've ever had. The floor was full of people! I was very happy about it. At the end of the night, we made enough through door sales and pre-sales that we didn't operate at much of a loss. The only money we lost was for food and drinks, but that's fine. We're able to send some money to the Hero Initiative charity, and that's what matters.

This Friday, like I said, is gonna be a lot less stressful. I'm hoping a big name like Kamelot will draw as big as it did last time I played with them, which was maybe 4 years ago now. That time, the place was absolutely packed. Unfortunately, it's Prog Power weekend, so I know a lot of people will be out of town. Here's hoping that enough people are left to give us a good crowd! We've pre-sold a lot of tickets, so I know we'll have some folks there for us, at least. To be honest, I was never a HUGE Kamelot fan. They're okay, but they never really got me like, say, Edguy. I do really like their new lead vocalist though, so maybe things will be different this time. In any case, it should be a good night. I even took Friday off so I could rest my voice and be at 100%. Not sure what I'll wear, though. This weekend had a decidedly nerdy theme. Perhaps something a bit more.... ethereal? Nah. I'll figure it out. In the meantime, I think some much needed rest is in order. I've spent way too much time being the boss! It's time for me to let someone else be the boss, for a while. At least until the itch to put together another show comes! ...oh wait, there it is.



Metal Quest bands:

Friday, August 31, 2012

Being an adult is STUPID!

Well, it's finally happened.

I've put Willy and I on a budget.

Nobody pouts like Shirley Temple!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. At the tender age of 28 (WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN!? I could have sworn I was 27...), I've put an end to our going-out-whenever-we-want, buying-whatever-we-want, random-trips-to-the-Renaissance-Faire ways. I took all those talents I have for planning shows and applied them to my normal boring blah blah day to day life. I made a spreadsheet in Excel. I calculated. I did maff. Why? Because I realized that it really sucks when your bank  account hits zero and you've got a week until your next paycheck. Because honestly, I'd like to actually put more than a few hundred bucks away. Because my poor car has been neglected for months, now.. and I kinda need him up and running for all these band things I've been borrowing Willy's car to travel to, lately. There's also the fact that Willy and I make pretty good money, and the fact that we keep bankrupting ourselves mid-week is irresponsible and embarrassing. I mean hell, we've got friends with kids now. All we've got is a cat, and you're telling me we can't be financially responsible because we've got an addiction to top-shelf vodka and costume pieces for the Renaissance Faire? C'mon. We can do better then that.

What real budgeting takes is some self-control, which, admittedly, we have very little of. Especially me. For some reason, it's a lot easier for me to not eat than to eat the food I bring to work every day. I guess I'm spoiled. I do my damndest to pack a lunch I won't feel guilty about, but at some point, that lunch just feels unappetizing. So I just gotta force it down and tell myself, "Shut up and eat that tuna! You're doing this so you can buy Guild Wars 2!! (And also fit into those jeans from 3 years ago!)" But it's not as easy as all that, so sometimes I just let myself go hungry and tell myself I'll eat it the next day. Because I am dumb.

Man do I miss being an irresponsible teenager! Or better yet, an irrisponsible college student. College was fantastic. I'm a multi-tasker, so I thrive on the kind of stress that homework/social responsibilities/a part time job puts on a 20-something. I think my mom said "get a job" all at once, which I actually laughed at. See, I've had a job every summer starting at 15, and then once I hit college, it went from every summer to just all the time. I did random stuff. I worked at Suncoast (before Best Buy ate them) in a mall, I worked at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, I was a teaching aid for elementary schools (2 different ones!) and I tutored at our school. "Get a job"... are you kidding!? I loved working! I loved it because all the money I got was pocket money. I didn't need a car because I took Metro. I didn't pay rent because I lived with my parents. They paid for all my food. All I had to do was go to school and goof off. And boy did I goof off! I still managed to get good enough grades that I found a job straight out of school. That's where the trouble hit me.

"Isn't this more fun than watching cartoons in bed?"
My first job was in Chantilly. It was a 1.5 hour car ride each way. I was so exhausted each morning that I got into a car accident during the first 3 months I worked there, and realized I needed to move away from home. At first it was a "during the week" thing. I'd go home on the weekends and live with my friend Joe during the week. Then I realized it was easier for me to stay there all the time, so I got my VA drivers' license, changed my address, became an adult.

The problem is that rent was so cheap that I never learned to budget. I had several things to think about... rent, car, car insurance, student loans. Not too many bills. The older I got, the more bills I got. Suddenly I'm paying for electricity, cable, a cell phone, a mortgage, HOA fees, gym dues... grown up things! Grown up things are horrible, but the thing about them is that they exist for comfort. I have cable. Why do I need to go out to entertain myself? I have vodka at home. I have a plethora of comic books, some unread. I even have some guy living with me I could talk to every once in a while! So in theory, I shouldn't need to add more expenses to my bills because I've got so much else to entertain myself with.

"Quit drinking and read me!!"
Unfortunately, I'm not that kind of person. I need to be out. So I either need to make myself look at the gym as a happenin' place where fun things happen, or I need to just shut up and sit on the couch and read all those Batwoman comics I've been hoarding before I make us both go broke with my expensive dirty martini habit.

Hell, I even bought my own martini glasses! And a shaker! Theoretically, I should be happy as a clam on my faux velvet red couches, lounging in a pair of animal-print pajama pants and an old band t-shirt I picked up in the mid-west while reading comic books and drinking martinis.So why aren't I? I'm spoiled. I'm really really spoiled.

Well, after the birthday party excursion I go to on Saturday night, I will make it my business to spend this entire Labor Day weekend at home! That's right, people! After I get wasted in DC, I'm gonna come home, hug my cat, and try my best not to go outside and spend money. I'll probably go to the gym. That's it. I swear. What? You don't believe me?

Yeah, me neither.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stress!!

So I think I thrive on stress.

I say this because as of right now, I'm a bit of a nervous mess. I've got a little bit more than a week until Metal Quest, and I'm stressed about a few things. I've made my lists and charts, but I'm always afraid something will slip past me! I've got a ton of things to do on the day of, like...

  • pass out flyers
  • pass out handbills
  • get beverages for bands
  • put together goodie bags for those who donated
  • make sure the programs get here on time (!!!!!)
  • make sure the bands go on, on time
  • actually PLAY THE SHOW

...alright, so that's not THAT much. Maybe I shouldn't be too stressed? The thing I'm really stressed about, to be honest with you, is attendance. I'm always worried that not enough people show up, and it is imperative that we have a decent crowd of people so that we can make enough at the door to cover the cost of having a venue. I'm not even trying to get paid, here. I just want to break even and make a few bucks to donate to the Hero Initiative.

But as it gets closer to the show, I get the inevitable "So I have some bad news..." from people who can't make the show. I can't tell you how heartbreaking that is, and scary. What if nobody shows? What if these bands have no crowd? I tried my best, but that's often not good enough. I've got to make sure this show is worthwhile, because I know what it's like to play a crappy show. Crappy shows suck. I do not want this to be a crappy show.

Please let this show be awesome so I can actually relax when it's done!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh, bands...

So I've noticed a trend, when it comes to bands. Please keep in mind, this is not all bands. This is just some bands.

Okay, so here's the thing. If you offer a band payment up front for their work, wouldn't you expect that band to like... plug the show? Advertise the show? Get their fans hyped because HOLY SHIT, a promoter isn't making you sell tickets for once? Right? Wouldn't you try not to take advantage of the fact that this is a paying gig and actually try to make the show a success? Well apparently, some bands don't feel this way. Some bands see dollar signs and decide to just show up, play, and leave. No plugs, no ads, not even a Facebook post.

Well a great big FUCK YOU to those bands. Do you know how hard it is to put together a show from scratch? All for the love of music? Why are people so fucking selfish? When someone treats you decently, you should probably also treat them decently. Promoters do everything in their power to make shows a success, but we are not miracle workers. If you want your band to be a success, you should probably do your part and PLUG THE SHOW YOU'RE PLAYING. How can you expect to make any kind of leap forward if you don't even have the decency to plug your own show?

And furthermore, why do I let people take advantage of me in this way?


Friday, August 24, 2012

Where's that depression I was looking for?

Oh, there you are!

I'm not doing so well, today. Last night I decided that I was feeling thin enough that I could splurge some calories on two beers and the inside of a sandwich. Well, screw that! Went to bed, couldn't sleep, felt warm and feverish all night, woke up nauseous. Had a bowl of oatmeal to settle my stomach, and lo and behold, I feel like a big fat ton of failure. Yes, in less than 24 hours, I went from slender and confident to fat and miserable. And do you know what happens when you get all miserable? All of the things anyone has ever said that makes you sad comes rushing back. Like that time the guy you like said he had a crush on another girl, who's really skinny, and it made you excuse yourself to throw up behind a dumpster. You know, every day stuff like that.

Of course, I should note that for all you new readers out there (all 2 of you!), I do have bipolar disorder. And there is currently a family member in the hospital (who I will not discuss, due to privacy, thanks!), so there's probably more wrong with me than the .2" addition on my waistline due to the two beers and oatmeal. That being said, none of that truth makes me feel any better. And to be perfectly honest, when I get like this, there are very few ways in which I can make myself feel better. I can either go shopping, or eat something terrible for me. Either way, I'm boned. I've actually gotta go do some band work tonight, and tomorrow I've got a gig. Both of these things are highly dependent on my mood, and the way it is now, I'm not sure how I'm going to manage to pull through the next few days. You know when you're so depressed you get shaky and want to go somewhere and cry and eat frozen yogurt and throw up? That's what's going on, right now. I'm not certain if it was brought on by my behavior last night, or the bipolar disorder. I don't know if one causes the other. I just know that this is a low, and I'm not sure what the best way to get out of it is.

But I do know that I've got to get out of it, fast, before I wind up doing something stupid. Like eating a pack of peanut butter crackers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Internal struggle!

Rosie Mercado
Every once in a while, I come across something that makes me feel pretty good. Empowered, even. That happened today when I saw the first episode of Curvy Girls, a reality show (shut up...) about plus sized models. One of these models, Rosie Mercado, is a hero of mine. She's a young beautiful mom of three who makes a living as a plus sized model. She's done my favorite clothes, Pin Up Girl Clothing, and stars in Curvy Girls. When I see her, I see hope for someone like me. I see how happy I could be if I accepted myself the way so many others have. That being said, it's no secret that I've put on 7.5lbs since I got down to 122.5 (that .5 is important!) a few years ago, and those 7.5lbs haunt me. Yeah, you heard me. 7.5lbs. Something that should be easy to take off, but isn't! I managed to get back to 128 a few days ago, just to sabotage myself with a jaunt to the Renn Faire. I allowed myself to drink beer, eat horrible fried food, all while dressed in tights and a 22" corset. Now, I wouldn't change a bit about my Renn Faire experience. I know it's important to treat yourself, so I don't regret doing this. The problem I have is with the fact that once I got back to work, it was back to my old ways of restrictive dieting. People, don't get me wrong. I love low-carb living, I am an advocate for it, I believe it's a good way to live a healthy life. My problem is that I don't follow my own advice. Under no circumstances does the Atkins diet advocate skipping meals. I do that because I'm crazy and for some reason it's easier for me to skip meals than it is to just bring food. That's where the internal struggle comes in.

I know I'm at a healthy weight. I know I look okay. But I always want to look better, go the extra mile, get back down to that 122.5 I enjoyed just 3 years ago. Imagine, just 3 years ago! I've got jeans I can't wear comfortably now that I wore all the time back then. I feel self conscious every time I eat something off-plan. I know I shouldn't, but I do. That's the trouble! Right now, I can say "Yeah, I look good, I don't need to starve myself!" but the moment I eat something off-plan, the guilt will swell. If only I could have this level of self-esteem no matter what I ate! And I'm not talking about binging on doughnuts, here. I'm saying, man... if I could just eat oatmeal in the morning like a normal person without it spiking my blood sugar and making me crave bread all day!

By now you must be absolutely sick of me whining about my eating disorder, but I have to say that from my position, it helps to whine. It helps when I put things in perspective. When I see the scale at 130lbs, I feel absolutely massive. For my 5' frame, 130 is HUGE in my eyes. But when I write it in my blog, I feel like a jack-ass. Seriously, I'm in the "healthy" weight range, I have no health problems (besides asthma, under control now), and I'm complaining about 7.5 measly pounds?? Yes, I am. I have that big an issue. I go back and forth between pro-ana blogs and fat acceptance blogs. I'm a part of both and neither. I've binged, purged, starved, and blogged and I still do all of it. I probably will, until I find some way to be happy with what I am, which will probably be never. In the meantime, I'm admiring plus sized ladies who are actually happy with themselves.

Doro Pesch
All this being said, I still want to be a successful musician, and we can't all be Adele. Or Beth Ditto. And metal isn't exactly kind to big girls, because lets face it, most mainstream folks expect all metal chicks to either wear a pretty tutu or dress like Lita Ford in the 80's. Hell, Doro's in her 50's and she's still wearing leather pants! Doro is one of those few female metal singers that I admire because she keeps writing, she keeps performing, and she actually makes music that I like. She's not overly girly like the newer metal chicks out there, she's a bad-ass in leather and studs. I look up to her. I want to be that kind of musician, but I guess I have to face up to the fact that I'll probably never look like her, and I have to make myself realize that's okay. Easier said than done, right? Could I be happy if I remained the same size I am, right now, forever? I'm not exactly sure. I think that the process of losing weight is addictive and for me, a little toxic. Once I'm in that vibe, I'm both happy and miserable, energetic and weak. But the same thing happens when I'm not trying to lose weight; eating whatever I want makes me feel lethargic, happy, sad, everything else. Where do I find the balance? I really don't know. It's times like this I miss my therapist!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Faire weekend!

I'm gonna be really irresponsible, this weekend. Instead of staying home for band practice and laundry, I'm gonna go to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair and have a grand old time. Willy and I have this thing with Renn Fairs.. we've got to visit each of the closest ones at least once a year, perhaps twice, to make use of the excessive amounts of costume bits that we've collected over the years. Personally, I've got four steel-boned corsets, one of which I have never worn before. The newest addition, and my current fair staple, is this red leather baby I've been using for... wow, has it been three years already!? Crazy... and I've tried to use the other ones for new outfits, but none of them have the same punch, yanno? I've basically tailored all of my outfits around my favorite colors, red and black, and now it seems I've painted myself into a corner because EVERYTHING I WEAR IS RED AND BLACK!

As I type, my nails are painted black with red glitter. I CAN NOT BE STOPPED!

Anyway, that's what's happening this weekend. Renn. Faire, lots of beer.

If you'd like to know where I got my corset from, the lovely people at Red Falcon can help you out! I'm not sure if they sell the corsets online, but they do have other stuff.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lose/Lose situation!

I wasn't planning on blurging today, if only because I was feeling some writers block. I spent last night cooking (marvelously, as usual) and working on a flyer for Metal Quest. Not a lot went on except one thing; a craving. A horrible horrible craving. Well, not really so horrible, but horrible for me because I'm very hard on myself when it comes to food. What was this terrible craving, you might ask? Frozen yogurt. Gaddamn it, I love that stuff. Covered in strawberries and mangoes, no less! I know, I know, I'm a monster... but when you're trying to control your sugar cravings, it's best not to give in to these urges. Or is it? Who the hell knows. I wound up making ratatouille, steak, and mushrooms with some caprese salada. A bit more tomato than I would have liked (stupid sugar, you hide everywhere!!) but no frozen yogurt.

Well, I came across this article during my daily reads about how Feeling Bad About Your Weight is Making You Fat. It's a pretty good article, and a few key points in there are right on the money.

Teen participants were asked to comment on how they perceived themselves on a scale of thin to "chubby" or "very fat." Fast forward to a decade and change later, and 60% of the normal sized girls in the study who thought they were fat had actually gone on to become overweight twentysomethings. 

Researchers surmise that the discrepancy between long-term health effects on girls and long-term health effects on boys is due, in part, to the fact that teenage girls who think they're fat will do terribly unhealthy shit in order to "fix" themselves. Eating disorders are an extreme example, but researchers noted that girls are more likely to do metabolism-screwing things like skip meals, deprive themselves of food, and eat unbalanced diets. 

Looking back, my ex-sister-in-law's dress is pretty great.
Ummmm yeah. Pretty much all of that is right on the money. I recently looked back at my pictures from elementary school. Guys, I've been called "fat", "ugly", ect. since the 2nd grade. I have never once seen myself as an attractive person, let alone "normal". Well, after looking at a picture of myself when I was around 10, I suddenly realized that I wasn't all that fat. At all. In fact, I was pretty normal looking, physically. Do you know what wasn't normal? The giant t-shirt I wore to cover myself from neck to knees because I thought I was so fat nobody should have to look at me. I feel bad for the kid in that picture. I remember being in the 4th grade, weighing in at 100lbs, and I remember thinking how fat and heavy that must have been. It's painful for me to look at myself like that, knowing just how miserable I felt about myself. I want to look at myself at 10 and say, "Hey, I know you'll never believe me, but stop covering yourself up like that. You're not ugly," because maybe if I could have believed that, I wouldn't have developed such bad habits.

That's me, in the hat. ...and the home-sewn flares.
Like, for example, binging and purging... binging and starving... starving... excessive dieting... the kind of things that aren't good for anyone, let alone someone with a history of bipolar disorder. It's no wonder I wound up gaining so much weight in middle school and high school! I'd starve myself one day, binge the next, ect. ect. I played sports, and I know I was in pretty good shape physically since I was able to swim and win without being too winded, but I wasn't a great athlete. I was just okay, and that's not bad, but I felt bad for not being good at absolutely everything. I felt bad because I was a good singer, a good little actress, and my grades were even alright, BUT, I wasn't good looking. That's what I thought, and I felt like it made me inferior, regardless of anything else. How sad is that?? Even though I'd starve myself in front of people I didn't know, I never thought things would change. It my mind, I always thought I'd be fat. The reason I didn't eat was because I was embarrassed to eat in front of people. So I wouldn't eat in front of boys, but I'd eat when I got home. That's a bad habit to get into, because it just made me super hungry. What happens when you're super hungry? You eat whatever the hell is near, and for me, that was carbs and sugar. High school.

What you see: Meat; What I see: ARM FAT
Well I'm not in high school, anymore. Clearly... I'm 28, and I lost a bunch of that weight ten years ago. It's been ten years and I still feel the same way I did when I was 18. And I can just imagine, twenty years from now, I will be telling myself the same thing. I'm not so shy anymore (no more giant t-shirts, unless I go to bed..), but I never wear shorts and I never wear short skirts and I never wear... well, a lot of things. Plus, I won't let myself eat frozen yogurt, for god's sake. How very sad, that I'm 28 and I still think the same way I did when I was ten years old. I'm not overweight, just like the kid in the picture, but I will always feel overweight, like the kid in high school. Do you know how hard it is to look at a recent picture of myself and not focus on that arm fat? DO YOU? It's quite hard, but I'm trying. Especially since a relative recently had to take me aside and tell me I was being silly for judging myself so harshly (people read this thing?!) and I was so embarrassed by all my whining. WHAAAAAA I WANNA BE SKINNY.

So, in conclusion, that article I mentioned way at the beginning of this blog post is pretty legit. Think bad things about yourself, do bad things to yourself. Think good, do good! Makes sense, right? RIGHT! Now, treat yourself right. Do it. ...do it.

Yeah, not so easy, is it?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chameleon powers activate!

I've always said that if I could be a superhero, my name would be "Redline". As in... when I sing so loud, I "redline" the microphone. I imagine I'd have Banshee-like powers, that I could fly and scream the skin off of people. Lately, however, I've noticed that I have another superpower; my uncanny ability to change my appearance and blow people's brains. This weekend, for example, I attended a wedding. As you can see, I managed to clean myself up... do my nails... do my make-up... make my hair less uhhhh.... poofy? And throw on a dress I bought for the occasion. Well, it went over pretty well, it was a lovely day and a lovely ceremony, and I had a couple of lovely martinis that made me feel quite lovely indeed. After some nice dancing and family fun times, Willy and I piled into the limo his parents rented for the occasion. The limo driver asked where I was from, because apparently, he thought I was Indian. Well, fancy that! I think that's the 3rd time someone has thought I was from India. I've been categorized as a lot of things, in fact! Indian, Egyptian, Native American, white, Italian, Armenian... the list goes on. For those of you who don't know, in terms of colors, I'm exactly 1/2 white (my mom is Spain, specifically Catalan) and 1/2 brown (my dad is from El Salvador, descended from the indigenous Pipil tribe), so my skin has this slightly orang-y yellow-y caramel color and I've got a big Euro-nose.

So far, the only people who have guessed that I'm Salvadorian are actual Salvadorians. They know something is up, though... they always do. They kind of give me this, "...are you Salvadorian?" while looking at me skeptically. When I explain that I'm Spanish on my mom's side, they get it. However, and here's the kicker, you can tell the difference in American and Latin American culture right away because there have been several people I've met that seem impressed by this. I remember one dude, when I told him where each of my parents were from, thinking my dad had won the jack-pot. (He's never seen them argue, LOL) The sad reality is that Latin America is still harshly racist. As in, pale skin is considered waaaay more attractive, and is often an indicator of social status. Do we have that in the US? Absolutely, but we're a lot more quiet about it. People in Latin America don't shy away from the truth; people with pale skin tend to have it easier, and people with dark skin are routinely discriminated against. It kinda sucks. I feel bad for people who react so favorably to my "pedigree" (I'm mixed, I don't really have one!), because of all things to admire in a person, I don't want it to be my skin color.

That being said, I seem to be pretty good at blending in because of it. I imagine that this, plus my acting skills, would make me a pretty good spy! But man would I get tired of not being able to tell anyone...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's all about meeeeeeee...........

So the first thing I did this morning (after waking up at 4:30, and then being kept up at 5:00 by the cat..) was weigh myself. Another pound down! Oh hell yeah! I can't tell you how elated that makes me feel. After watching that SOB scale just sit there, unwavering in his decision that for the past several weeks I remain just a hint under 130lbs. That shit killed me, frustrated me, but hurray and huzzah.. I'm down 2.5 whole pounds. Yeah, I'm celebrating 2.5 pounds. It might not seem like much, but trust me.. I'm 5' tall. 2.5lbs is a lot. If you don't believe me, I have a visual of what one pound of fat looks like.
Yeah. One pound of fat is actually a lot. Now, could that 1 pound possibly be a mixture of fat and muscle? I hope not.. I've been working my ass off to eat more protein and do muscle-building workouts, so I'm praying it hasn't been for no good f'ing reason. That the weight is coming off about as slow as me in the 100m butterfly (haha, swimming joke!) is further proof that this is probably actually fat, and not just some random water weight. SO I'M GONNA CELEBRATE, GADDAMN IT. Even if this comes after a day of not eating enough (yesterday, I hardly got up past 1,000) and right now I'm still under 300. I'm having a tough time reaching my daily calorie requirements, because believe it or not, people on low-carb diets do not binge on bacon all day. In fact, it's so f'ing hard to get my protein requirements, I'm tempting to internet-slap the person who suggesting my kidneys might be suffering from too much protein intake.

Now, I know that to get down to my goal, it's gonna take more agonizingly slowness. I've got to cut back on the vodka (I'm only drinking once a week, again! ..for now.....), I've got to eat more (It's haaaaaard) and I've got to pack my own lunches more often. If I can do all that, I think I'll be alright.

Oh, and I gotta drink more water... which reminds me!

Glug glug glug..........

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oh great... you too, sleep!?

As if I needed something else to be stressed over, now I'm having trouble sleeping.

Ah, sleep. The one thing everyone should be good at. Unfortunately, I've got a few things against me. First off, my neck. I've got a tiny neck and require a tiny pillow.. but not too tiny, or my damaged neck and back muscles will be messed up throughout the night and I'll wake up with pain from all those rear-endings I had in my Celica.

God I miss that car.

Odin; the world's fattest most annoying cat.
So I've got all that neck pain, and then there's the cat. The gaddamn mother fucking cat. People, I love my fat-ass cat. But he's an asshole. He starts meowing around 5:30 AM, a full half an hour before I even need to be up. Some might say that he'll stop if you ignore him. Those some are dead fucking wrong. Odin is the most persistent little shit I've ever known in my entire life, and all the cuddles and lap purrs he gives me will never make up for his annoying ass. So I've got him yeowling in the AM (and no, I can't lock him out because he opens doors and his litter box is in our master bathroom..), but that's not all.

For some reason, I keep waking up around 4 AM. Every. Single. Morning. This wouldn't be so bad if I could just manage to go the hell back to sleep, afterwards. Unfortunately, all I seem to do is lie there. I know I'm tired, and I know I need to sleep, but sleep won't come. Eventually, however, 6 AM does indeed come, and when that happens I'm so tired I can barely function. So what the hell am I supposed to do? I go to sleep at a reasonable time, like a good girl, at 10 PM so I can get my (much needed) 8 hours of sleep. I wind up not sleeping until past 11, and waking up at 4. :/ Sometimes at 2, too. This is in all kinds of different scenarios; working out before bedtime, not working out at all. Eating 2 hours before bed, eating 5 hours before bed. It doesn't matter, it happens every time.

To combat this exhaustion, I've been drinking coffee and Rock Star (as needed), and now I'm afraid I have a caffeine dependency.  As in, when I don't drink coffee, I get a headache. Or maybe that's just my neck pain traveling to my brain? Who knows! All I know is that I'm really tired of being really tired.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A quick note about kilts...

Kilts. I love them. I really do. Look at this guy. Could you imagine him in anything else? It's kinda hard for me to, after seeing him like this!


Friday, August 3, 2012

No wonder we're so used to starving!

What do you call something that isn't really news but you want to share? I don't care, but here's some: being a musician is financially draining. Yep, it sucks. The deal is, you're either someone's rich kid (Rebecca Black), someone pliable and willing to be molded into a creation (Britney Spears), or you're both very talented and very lucky, so someone with a lot of money decides to invest in you. Adele.

If you are none of these things, then it's likely that being a serious musician will be a huge drain on your wallet. Of course, it doesn't have to be! You could always record things in your mom's basement using a single microphone and pirated software. You could always just play in bars once a month, as a hobby. But if you plan on going anywhere and you have giant dreams, then odds are, you're going to want some professional recordings and some professional materials to promote yourself with. So whip out the check book, buddy... it's gonna be a long ride.

First of all, I'm really lucky that my band isn't a bunch of deadbeats. SUPREMELY lucky. The fact that all my band mates have jobs, a car, show up for practice, and donate to our cause financially might sound like it would be normal, right? Musicians should all pitch in, right? AHAHAHAHA! That's so funny! Because they don't. Most musicians, especially metal musicians, are a bunch of pompous deadbeats who won't put their money where their mouths are. Because their mouths are too busy spouting off about how talented/amazing/metal they are. Seriously, metal musicians are asshats. Or they're too young and unestablished to be able to help out financially. Or they're terrible musicians. Having auditioned around a hundred bass players, drummers, and guitarists, who either suck, don't come to practice, or are dead broke, I basically hit the jackpot with my band. That none of them do drugs or are alcoholics is just another thing to thank the Dio for.

But even with all that help and all that wonderful teamwork, it's often a numbers game. Who pays for what and when. Being married and no longer on my own, my money isn't just my money. It's our money. And while my husband gets that I have a responsibility to my band and myself, I can't just throw as much money as I want toward recording and junk because, as adults, we have financial responsibilities. Like... a mortgage. Car bills. A cat. All these things pile up, so at the end of the month, if I have any amount of money that can go toward the band, I'm ecstatic. Let me give you a few examples of the (often ridiculous) things we need to pay for:

  • Album Art
  • Album Printing
  • Recording Studio Fees
  • Gas
  • Hotels
  • Instruments
  • New Goggles 

All of these things are required in order to achieve any kind of success, without the help of some millionaire sugar daddy pulling our strings in the shadows. Paying for it all can be a challenge, because while we've all got jobs (sorta), we're also all adults. So that mortgage? They've got one, too. And dogs. And cars. Which means they're in the same boat I am, and while it's a much nicer boat than the deadbeat shithead metal musicians I've met in the past, it's still a small boat. Maybe a 19'. Good enough to go fishing on the bay, but you're not gonna go around the world in it.

That brings me to last night's filming of our Kickstarter video. We're already doing a campaign on IndiGogo for Metal Quest, which has been at least 30% successful at this point. In a few days, we'll be starting a Kickstarter campaign to help the band finance our new album. I spent most of last night's rehearsal time recording a video with info on our Kickstarter campaign, which was fun, but whenever you try ventures like this, the big questions remains... will this thing work?? Who knows! We can only hope and pray that we have enough fans out there who will actually help us finish this album. It's an expensive thing, making a professional sounding piece of music, and while we're perfectly okay with going bankrupt over this album, the money in our bank accounts and savings will only take us so far.

So, lets see where this goes! I guess if we end up starving to finish this thing, at least I should lose a few pounds!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Because why bother?

Disclaimer: I have nothing against any of the bands I will be discussing. I'm also going to jump around on topics. You may now continue.

So I'm doing my usual run-around of the internetz yesterday, and I come across an article about a new band that was signed to Century Media; Destiny Potato. No, I'm not kidding, that is their name, and I am linking you to their Facebook page because despite the fact that they're on a major label, they don't have an official website. Their music is something of a mix between Djent and Evanescence. Clearly, I am not a fan, but this isn't unusual. Record companies sign people I don't particularly care for all the time. No, what caught my eye was this part of the article:

"Just a few months after we officially formed the band we got an opportunity to play our first show at Euroblast 2011 where we met some boys and gals from Century Media as they came to hear/see us play. Not long after the fest we got in touch with them and after months of negotiations we are finally here and really looking forward to an amazing collaboration with all the great people in and around this label."

Jill Janus of Huntress
Yup. Just a few months after officially forming the band, they get signed to a major record label. Why? Have absolutely no idea, but it's likely one of those "we knew someone" stories. That's how it always is. That's why Huntress, with former Playboy model Jill Janus (who is classically trained), who nobody knew of, managed to release their very first single and album on Napalm Records without so much as an album or a demo. Because it's not what you do, it's who you know in this business. I'm not saying Huntress doesn't have great musicians. They're actually pretty good! But there are a thousand other bands out there that are "pretty good", and have been involved with the scene for a decade or more, and you'll probably never see them on a major label because they either don't have a marketable look, or they just can't get a break.

Which is where the term "why bother?" comes from.

Sometimes, as an artist, you ask yourself... why bother? What is the point of all the sleepless nights, the hard work, the blood, tears, and sweat, when people who don't work half as much as you have suddenly get signed to major labels? What's the point of rehearsing for weeks and weeks with nothing to look forward to but a crowd of twenty guys and maybe one of their girlfriends? Why bother?

I'll tell you why.

Because I think that even if the entire world doesn't know what we do, we know. Is it hard work? Yes. Does it destroy relationships and break families apart? Sure! But we do this because we love it. Because the music is a part of us, and if we never get famous, we'll at least know that we created something great. We never wasted our time trying to please other people with pop or something we didn't particularly care about. We never made ourselves sick trying at fame. I'll tell you guys something, fame is a disease that people will waste their entire life waiting to catch. There are routes to fame, and they either work, or you spend years traveling them only to find yourself empty handed at the end. So why bother with all that nonsense when you could spend that precious time in your life making great music? Why waste all that energy being something your not for a dream you might not even get to experience?

Maria Brink of In This Moment
I'm not the kind of person to do that. When a former band mate told me that I should try to be more sexy, I was annoyed. When that same band mate told me that we should be studying In This Moment, because they're famous, I was annoyed. When someone's dad tried to give me advice on songwriting ("you should write a song about having sex with another guy!"), I was annoyed. I would much rather put all my time and energy writing good quality music that I actually want to perform than write something stupid that will turn heads and maybe make a million dollars. I'm sure money solves problems and brings happiness to some, but I'd rather have a great song and a great set of musicians to work with.

One of the things that irritates me about being compared to these women is that I have never in my entire life been a skinny blonde. I strive toward fitness and being a healthy weight, but there's no way in hell I have the ability to strut on stage in a pair of heels and a tiny skirt. I just do not have the physique for it, and when people tell me that this would be a good way to market myself, all I can think is... "are you out of your gaddamn mind?!" Would it catch the attention of people? Sure! Would that be a good thing?? Probably not. I'd rather keep it safe and be comfortable enough to actually perform than worry about whether or not my thighs look too fat in this goth tutu. So even if I wanted to just do whatever I can possibly do to be famous, I can't. I'd have to spend way too much time forcing myself into anorexia to fit into a certain ideal to actually make any music, which I've always considered to be more important than looking a certain way.

Am I bitter about the whole thing? Sometimes, sure. Sometimes, bands like Destiny Potato will piss me off. But hey, there's something for everyone. Some people are lucky in some areas. Nobody has "all the luck". They might have a record deal, but I have my band, and nobody and no money could ever replace my band. Or my husband. Or my cat.

So why bother? Because I love it. Despite all the annoying crap, I love it.

But please don't ask to see my boobs.

Monday, July 30, 2012

About Nina's Tastes (In Music)

By now, you've probably got me figured out. I have a strange taste in music. There's something about music that everyone in the world has figured out, and that is, what do you like? For me, it's cheese. Specifically, heavy metal cheese.
I'll start at the beginning.

During my fledgeling years, my brother was into 80's hair bands. I vividly recall him going to see Cinderella. Being 6 to his 16, I thought everything that he did was cool, and managed to latch on to heavy metal once he left home and a few remnants of the era remained. A Poison bandana, a copy of Appetite for Destruction on a cassette. I clung to these things, but being a kid with overly protective parents, wasn't really able to explore their meaning. Years passed, and having been allowed the gifts of Disney soundtracks, I developed a taste for good storytelling through song. Also, cheese. In high school, I was hard-core into anime. I grew up with comic books and cartoons, and anime was another world to me. Cartoons people take seriously? Yes please! With the magic of the internet, I downloaded soundtracks to my favorite movies and shows. One of my favorites at the time? X/1999. The song at the end of this movie? "Forever Love" by X Japan.

The floodgates were opened. I wanted everything to do with this "X Japan" band, so I proceeded to download everything that I could get my hands on. This being the age of Napster, I was unaware that what I was doing was considered theft. I had every intention of actually buying these albums, but unfortunately, importing actual CDs from Japan wasn't very cost effective for a 15 year old. So I did what I could with what I had, and when I managed to see a real X Japan CD at anime conventions, I bought them. For the low price of $50 per CD. How a grown man can look a 15 year old kid in the face and talk her into buying one CD for $50, I have no idea, but I was a big fan, and there it is.


Now, X Japan remains the #1 band in my mind when I think of just who started my descent into metal madness. However, keep in mind, they were more rock than metal. The thing is, whenever they did get metal, I loved them! It turns out that they were heavily influenced by Loudness, a Japanese metal band that got a bit of US fame in the 80's. Their bass player, Taiji (who recently passed away) even played for Loudness! I opened for Loudness about two years ago, and I could see where they got their ideas. My teenage self loved it when X Japan got a little harder and gritter, when Toshi would scream and give that heavy metal wail, my heart fluttered. That being said, I never thought to explore other metal bands because I just had no idea where to start. I honestly didn't even know bands like the ones I was yearning for even existed! I had no friends who were into metal, no family, nobody to talk to. I was in a strange vacuum. I'm not one of those lucky kids who grew up with lots of metal. I happened upon it by accident.

Well, I went to college. During college, I kept up with X Japan. It was pretty much all I listened to, because I really didn't know any better. I had a boyfriend who listened to Meatloaf, and all his friends were big into some mystical place called "Jaxx" where they would all go and listen to metal. I tried some of the metal they were hawking, and didn't find it to my liking. Turns out they were all into gothcore, screamcore, stuff with "core" in the title that just sounded like noise to me. So no metal for me, until one fateful day...

I was in college, when my boyfriend at the time, this cute guy with big blue eyes named Will, introduced me to a band. Apparently, his friend Tommy turned him on to them. Their name? Dragonforce. So I listened, and my heart burst open. This was it. This is what I've been waiting for! And Will, sweet and thoughtful, knew it. He and I downloaded all of the free songs Dragonforce had available on their website. We fell in love (with power metal), and yearned for more. So, now that I had something to start with, we went to FYE and looked around. Gloriously cheesy band names caught my attention right away... Helloween. Goblin Cock. Tankard. And then? I spotted it.

HAMMERFALL: Legacy of Kings. The name caught me right away. Why? Will (soon to be Willy) and I played World of Warcraft. The town where my character was born? Hammerfall. Coincidence? Perhaps... but so many other coincidences lay within Hammerfall's song titles! Hammer of Justice, Heeding the Call, so many songs with so many things that, as both a nerd and a fledgeling metal fan, I could relate to! We bought the album. We listened, and we bonded. Here it was, at last. Something I could truly love. We must have listened to this album a hundred times before I got back home and started downloading everything I could get my hands on. Hammerfall sent me into a vortex of music I never knew existed; Blind Guardian, Helloween, Rhapsody of Fire! Bands that set my heart aflame and showed me a world beyond the mundane American pop music that we so loathed. A few weeks later, Willy scored tickets to a Dragonforce concert. My first real heavy metal show. I was so excited, we went in together, but how we came out was different. For me, anyway.

Seeing them up there, on that big beautiful stage, playing music that we adored and singing in a way I could understand... I knew. I knew my destiny. To become one of those men (with boobs) who could command such power and fury through the strength of voice and will. To sing songs about dragons and knights and kings and fire! Yes, that would be me, I promised myself.

Several days later, I went on Craigslist.

And that, my friends, is how it all started. How I went from a sheltered kid in PG County to the metal-loving maniac you know, and how, in the end, it really was all Willy's fault.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Running

Running. That fateful activity. The bane of all fat kids in gym class. I remember being that kid. I was a chubby kid, and regardless of the fact that I played soccer in both spring and fall (my dad was my coach...) and I was on a swim team during the summer, I was a terrible athlete. I was slow. I couldn't outrun or out swim anyone. I was strong in the legs, but that was it. I used to dream of being one of those big strong girls, like Xena, or Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was someone I could really look up to! She was tall, fearless, she had black hair, and she was usually pretty thick! Not like the skinny girls that I grew up seeing idolized, but a strong chick with big muscles who was proud of her physique. Because it's okay to be a little thick if you're tall and strong, like an Amazon! But that never happened. My heroes were too far from the 5' person I ended up being, so any athletic dreams were quickly dissolved by the time I reached high school. I stopped growing around 15. I just got chubbier, and growing up as a chubby kid is a lot harder than it might sound. There's a lot of things you can't do. You can't wear the same cute clothes that all the other girls wear, you can't have a little boy tell you he thinks you're pretty without him telling you not to tell anyone because everyone makes fun of you (don't worry dude, I forgive you). You also can't dream of becoming one of those beautiful female athletes in the Olympic games, or a beautiful singer (like I wanted), or a beautiful anything, really. And for a little girl, being beautiful is a big deal. Take that away and we've got to fend for ourselves in ways our parents aren't used to dealing with. No wonder I took to comic books and nerd things...

In high school, I got up to 180lbs. I didn't have a lot of hope concerning my weight. I tried low-calorie dieting, but that didn't go anywhere. I still played on the soccer team, and I still ran and lifted weights, but I never lost any. I was just huge, and with my tiny frame, I always felt self conscious. When I got to college, I met some guy who showed me the diet his mom was doing, Atkins. I was hooked. You know the story... I got down to 130lbs through the diet and some workout tapes. Belly dance workout tapes, no less! Neena and Veena shimmied my ass through some pretty good 30 minute routines that had me learning not just a few good dance moves, but that I actually enjoyed working up a sweat when I was alone with nobody around to judge my performance.  I got a few of their other tapes, but "Slim Down" was my favorite. It actually made me sweat, and that sweat made me proud. I'm not exactly sure how many calories I burned on this workout, but eventually, I started to think I could burn more. I thought it was nice outside, maybe I could take up jogging? So I did. Alone. I grabbed a pedometer from Target, threw on some crappy running shoes, and started jogging from my house to our old church. It was one mile, and I walked half the way, but I felt accomplished. I could run! Maybe it wasn't so fast, but it was still running, and for some reason, that felt real.

I've been doing that ever since. I work out alone. Please don't ask to join me, because I still have that embarrassment when I work out with people I know around me. I still have that anxiety. I feel like I'm just an ugly sweaty pig trying to do something I was not meant to do, and as hard as it is to do in front of strangers at the gym, I know for damn sure I can't do it in front of friends.
I also don't run outside anymore, because #1 my allergies in the warm months and #2 my asthma in the cold ones. People tell me to use the elliptical all the time. It's faster! It burns more calories! Blah blah blah. Yes, I know this. But where do you use an  elliptical in real life?? You don't. Running is something humans have done for years. Something about putting one foot in front of the other feels very primal, to me. Like free weighs. I don't like machines because they were invented for people with disabilities. I do not have disabilities, so I use free weights, because they work more of your body. And I like that! And I like running. I'm not very fast, still, but I do it. Every workout I do at least 5k (3.12 miles) in under 32 minutes. On good days, I do it under 30. Is my goal to get down to a faster time? Sure... but I know I'll always be a slow runner. The point isn't that I do it fast. The point is that I do it. I was a chubby kid with no hope, and now, I'm a chubby adult who runs because... well, I don't know, really. It's kind of a miserable thing. Why do I run? I don't even know. I just know I have to, or I feel bad. Guilty.  I feel accomplished every single time, after every single run. I feel tired and sometimes nauseous, too... but that accomplished feeling is irreplaceable.

So yeah, I might never be Wonder Woman, but that's okay. At the very least, I'll never be that hopeless kid in gym class, again. And who knows? Maybe if I cut back on the vodka, I could burn the rest of the fat off these thighs and show you the muscle I've been building.

...yeah, we'll see.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On Romance and Shoulder Angels


It's been three years, since I got married. Well, three years, and one day. Yesterday was my anniversary, and let me tell you, it was one busy, exhausting, horrible day.

As you may know, I work a full-time 9-5 here in DC. After the day, I take the train to VA where Willy picks me up. From there, we sit in traffic for 1-1.5 hours, which is a really good time to tell each other about our day. Unfortunately, for people who wake up at 6am to get to work and don't get to bed until 11, sitting in traffic for an hour means it's also the perfect time to be cranky, leading to many arguments over absolutely nothing. Or the same thing. Yesterday was not different, except in that rather than going home to a nice home-cooked meal by yours truly, we had to go to the doctor to get the both of us checked out. Willy has an ear infection, and I've got an infected horsefly bite. So we got there a bit early and managed to get a nice salad from a place nearby. Unfortunately, there was a Carvel ice cream store next door. Willy loves ice cream. So do I. It being our anniversary, of course he thought it would be a good idea to go inside and celebrate. Let me tell you how my brain works:

 

I want ice cream.
It will ruin your diet.
It's my anniversary.
It will make you fat.
I work damn hard. I deserve a treat.
You deserve nothing because you are fat.
Willy doesn't deserve a miserable wife.
You will always be miserable if you are fat.
I hate you. I wish you were gone.
You love me.You would miss me.



This happens every time I want something junk-foody. A few weeks ago, I would have given in. Giving in means a nice trigger of guilt and emotional crap for up at 3 days after the incident. I feel fat, and worse, I feel as if I've done something horrible, as if there is no escaping the inevitable sorrow that comes from being a big fat loser. So I tried to avoid that by saying "no". Of course, to a normal emotionally balanced person like my husband, I'm simply torturing myself. Perhaps I am. But the only way I know to make myself a bit less miserable is to not give in to my junk food cravings, because I understand at this point that food is only temporary and my sadness lasts days.

As unbalanced as my brain is, I'm not surprised at how frustrated Willy can be with me. I can't enjoy ice cream, so what's the point of him getting any? So we left and went to see the doctor. We waited at the doctor's until 8, got seen, and finally left at 9, only to get to the pharmacy and wait more for our prescriptions. Things were looking up when we purchased a bottle of champagne. We got home, I took a shower, and we were finally able to celebrate our anniversary.

Then I said I had to go to bed early. He was clearly disappointed. Being drunk on champagne, I started crying, and we got into another argument. On our anniversary. Now I'm sitting here, tired, with a headache, wondering what in the world is wrong with me.

I'll tell you what the biggest issue with me is: I love and hate myself more than anything. I have an obsession with me. This obsession triggers every joy and misery. I can't take a moment to enjoy ice cream with my husband because I'm afraid of making myself upset. I plan every little thing in advance because I'm obsessed with my own musical career, and my husband feels neglected. It's always about me. Is that wrong? Is it bad? I want to say it is, but if I didn't plan in my calendar, I'd be a mess. So the thing is, I either have to deal with my self obsessed nature and make more room for others, or I've got to give up on being not my own self. That's the thing with marriage; it's not just you, anymore. And it's taken me a long time to really recognize that and see that I have a problem making my life more than just mine.

I'm not saying Willy and I argue more than other couples. All couples argue. The bottom line is that we love each other, and we don't want our marriage to fail. That means making some sacrifices, on my part. Maybe I can't go on the road so much, or be out all the time, or spend so much time working. Maybe I should get some therapy for my body issues. Whatever it takes, I know why I married Willy. I know that in the end, he's the only guy in the world who really loves me, no matter what I do or what I look like. He loves me in such a way that I know I can depend on him, and the fact that I don't seem the same way is sad. It's not something I'm happy about. So it's time for me to try and make some kind of change. I don't know what kind. I don't think I can change my problems with food all at once, but I guess the first step is admitting that you have a serious problem. I have a serious problem. Srsly.



Monday, July 23, 2012

About dogs...

So I came accross an article in CNN about dogs, today. Specifically, dogs in the workplace. Office dogs, if you will. It's one of the many articles I see pretty often about dogs and how they reduce stress, and how having them around makes people more relaxed, ect. People I know with dogs love them. I understand, because up until I moved out of my parents' house, I owned a dog. Specifically, we had cocker spaniels. My whole family loved them. They're small, they're cute, they're protective (important, in our neighborhood) and fairly low maintenance. We had two of them and both lived to be around 10 years old. Here's the problem.

I'm terribly allergic to dogs.

I think it might have started when I was a kid, and we never noticed it. I was always kinda sick for some reason. We mostly kept the dogs outside, so it wasn't a big deal. Around my teen years however, I noticed that whenever I came in contact with the dog (Cocoa), I'd get sick. I had asthma, but it was mostly untreated and I just had an emergency inhaler. By the time I was in college, I knew what was going on. I was always sick, especially in my parents' home. My allergies got to a point where I felt like I had a flu whenever I was home. I woke up and went to bed sick. The only medicine that helped was Benadryl. Because we didn't have health insurance, I never took an allergy test, and I couldn't take anything perscription based. I suffered through my time at home and left whenever I could. I never asked to give away our dog, I loved him. He was a member of our family. I just waited until I could get a job and moved out a bit before college.

Those first few months with my roommate in Virginia were amazing. I never knew what it was like to always feel normal. Now, any time I visited home, I got sick. It's been two years since Cocoa passed away and I still get sick at their house. Now that I've had an allergy test, I know what I'm allergic to dogs, cats, and dust mites. Well, cats don't screw with me. I have one. I've had him for 5 years, now. Odin never hurts me, but dogs? I can't be around them. So many of my friends have dogs, and being at their home means either I need to be drugged up on Benadryl or extremely sick. The allergies are painful. My eyes itch, my nose runs, my throat gets raw, and my asthma kicks in. It's terrible. So I try to avoid dogs as much as I can, if only because I'm afraid that someday the Benadryl won't do anything but make me fall asleep. I've spoken to my doctor about a solution to this, a combination of medicine, but he says it's likely that a perscription will only give me minimal relief and I'm better off staying away from dogs altogether.

Well, that makes me a little sad. My husband loves dogs, and I'd like to have one, but I can live with it. It's not that big a deal. The problem comes from other people who think it's their job to tell me that I need to get medicine because dogs are so wonderful. Guys, I like dogs too, but please cut the shit. I'm tired of defending myself to people who care more about me seeing their dog than my health. Really, I have nothing against you or your dog, but your wonderful pet makes me sick. So kindly stop trying to get me to take medicine, or "just live with the pain" as some have suggested. It sucks. It makes you look like an asshole, and you're starting to make me hate dogs on principle. Seriously, if I get one more person say I need to get over my allergies so I can see their precious bundle of barks and poop, I will tell them that not only am I allergic, but I hate dogs.

People are bringing me to hate dogs! Can you imagine? But seriously dog lovers, it's your fault. Get out of my face with those things. Don't bring them to work, I get sick! Don't let them run free without a leash, we almost ran over a whippet in the middle of the street this weekend! Don't assume everyone needs to see your stupid dog! You don't see me dragging my cat everywhere, do you? Do me the same courtesy. Get your stupid dog out of my face, and quit trying to tell me how to live. Office dogs that reduce stress? Not for everyone, and definitely not for me.

Links:
Barking mad: Can office dogs reduce stress?

My case of the Mondays... (spoilers)

First of all, let me begin by saying that this weekend went by way too fast. You hear me? Way too fast. I spent Friday night watching The Dark Knight Rises with friends at a huge Smithsonian IMAX theatre, and drove to the beach the next morning.

So lets start out with the first thing, The Dark Knight Rises. I'm gonna have to have some spoilers here, just because there's some things I'd like to discuss. First off, everyone already knows I'm not a big fan of Nolan's Batman movies. I'm just not big into how he re-does characters. They're not BAD, don't get me wrong, he tells a good story. But it doesn't grab me, that's all. So I went into this film kind scared because Bane is one of my favorite Batman characters, and I heard a rumor that Talia, another favorite, would be there too. Well, I was right on both counts. First off, the opening scene. Bane speaks for the first time, and I was literally dumb-struck by how terrible it was. It was like Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy.
I was actually shocked because while I knew Ban wasn't going to have his classic Spanish accent, I didn't know how down-right awful he was going to sound. I figured they would have at least given him something normal sounding, bit it was bad. I kind of cringed whenever he spoke, which is I guess better than when Willy and I downright laughed whenever Christian Bale growled in his Richard Nixon as Batman voice. Those complaints aside, the rest of the movie wasn't completely awful. I totally called the fact that the kid climbing the all was Talia, if only because during the Bruce-doing-a-chick scene, I said, "She's Talia". Then I noticed a kid with blue eyes climbing out of prison and realized what was happening. Honestly? I was disappointed, if only because once again, they made Bane someone else's lackey. They made it look like he was the mastermind, but that's never in the cards for a movie Bane. Poor Bane never gets any love. Well, he does sometimes. To tell you the truth, I prefer the animated films to the live action ones. I think that having the films animated and straight to video makes it easier for you to cater to the comic fans. It's a much smaller budget, and you know who your audience is. I understand that these huge blockbuster movies can't give a lot of fan service, but I would have liked a little something... like... couldn't the opposing football team have been Coast City? Hehe! Oh well.. it was an entertaining movie. The part with the bomb was a little confusing. I was surprised it didn't go off every time they bumped it, but maybe I'm just not that familiar with how those things work.

Anyway, the movie lasted a long-ass time and we wound up not getting home until 3am. So Willy and I slept until 9, dragged ourselves out of bed (finally), and drove to our friends' house for a weekend with them. We'd been planning this for months, and even though it was a 3 hour drive, we didn't let that stop us! So after a 4.5 hour drive (traffic..........) we made it to his place and managed to have a fantastic time with new friends and old friends. I woke up exhausted with a really stiff neck, this morning... totally worth it!!

I'll talk about my weekend with the guys a bit later... for now, enjoy some Bane!