Friday, March 29, 2013

About songwriting..

Iron Maiden's Dave Murray
Yesterday, Josh compared me to Dave Murray (Iron Maiden). Apparently, Bruce Dickinson says that his songwriting can be compared to "trying to give birth to an elephant". He writes a song once every few years, which is kinda like me I guess. The last song I wrote the melody for was The Night Witch. It wound up being a favorite by a lot of fans, so I'm really proud of that. Whenever I write, I have a certain "style" in mind. For The Night Witch, I wanted a Danny Elfman (Nightmare Before Christmas, Oingo Boingo) feel. Well, Wednesday night, as Josh and I were coming back from a show around 1am, we were listening to Dio's The Eyes and having been up since 6am just like every morning, I was exhausted. This seems to be a pretty good combo, for me. Whenever I'm heavily exhausted, I think too much. So here I am, listening to Dio and thinking too much and boom! A song pops into my head. I think about it for the 4-5 hours I could sleep before waking up at 6 and still thought about it. I thought about it in the morning, on my way to work. I thought about it while I put away newspapers and greeted the morning's guests. I thought about it until FINALLY, I could get some lyrics down.

But unlike a lot of my sets of lyrics, this time I knew exactly how I wanted this song to be sung. I sang it while writing it, I sang it in the gym, and I sang it walking to the Metro on my way to a short band practice. And then, HELL YES WE WROTE THAT SHIT. Because it felt good, and it felt right.

And that, my friends (all two of you!) is how I write a song. I have it squishing in my brain, begging me to release it, until finally.. FINALLY, I force it out. Songwriting. YEAH. Look for it on CD 4. I'll squeeze it in, somehow.. e_e

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Alright Nina, time to STFU. I already wrote about how Willy has been telling you to stop beating yourself up, and here you are, speaking in the 3rd person.

Okay, so last night I did a gig and it was fun. I was a little bummed by how I looked because I hadn't gone to the gym and ate an apple AND a pear so my stupid lady brain told me that I felt fat. Well, Bobbie took a picture of us on stage and of course I'm making one of my signature goofy-ass faces. I always feel fat at shows because wah wah wah, so I'm trying to reprogram myself to stop being so critical. After all, I kill myself in the gym enough that I think I'm entitled to a little bit of pride. So today, before the massacre (and this is after having slept only 5 hours last night...) I checked myself out in the mirror and decided that I wasn't a total loss after all. Maybe sometimes, it's just an unflattering photo because you're at a weird angle and you're making a stupid face.

Maybe I just need to get a new shirt that fits me better. Seriously, I've been wearing that red shirt for at least 5 years, now. I can afford a new shirt from Walmart.

Anyway, I took a picture of myself in the gym because that's where I always feel like I'm at my best. I'm trying really hard not to be critical of myself, and I just had to stop myself from writing another complaint. So I'm just gonna put up this picture of myself, before my workout, when I thought, "You know what? Not bad."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How much is enough exercise?

So I've gotten to the point where I'm working out way more than I ever have before. I think the "fittest" I ever was must have been when I was on the swim team, swimming laps endlessly for the amusement of nobody. I wasn't very fast, I never really won anything, and I was still fat, BUT! I could swim those laps over and over again and I didn't really get winded, so I suppose I must have been in okay shape. Under all the fat.

Anyway, nowadays I work out four days a week. Five, if I'm not going to band practice. I go during my lunch break and usually the folks I work with are generous toward me (as I am toward them) and we let each other extend our breaks a bit longer than an hour. This allows me to do everything I feel is necessary in the gym, so, I spend half an hour lifting weights, and then thirty to forty minutes doing cardio. Half of that cardio is sprint training on the treadmill, where I alternate running 8MPH with jogging at around 5MPH. After the running, I do the elliptical and alternate heavy resistance with light resistance. I switch up the amounts I do of each, every day, to try and trick my body into burning more calories. Recently, I've increased the amount from burning 300+ calories to 350+. Today, I'll probably be doing 400+.

(Here's some information on sprint training and why it's more effective vs low intensity cardio.)

After all this, plus not eating meat and eating very healthy throughout the week, I still haven't lost any weight. Willy told me something very helpful, last week. He said that I should try to look for the positives instead of the negatives and that my self-destructive thought process was causing me unneeded stress. He's probably right, so I started trying to look at the positives, but it's still difficult. This morning, I had my breakfast and thought, "It's okay that I haven't lost any weight. Maybe this is just how I'm meant to look. I'm very healthy, so a little extra fat on my thighs isn't killing me."

Then I went and read an article about another female vocalist for a metal band. Alissa White-Gluz is the lead vocalist of The Agonist, who also does guest vocals for Kamelot. She's a vegan who works out for three hours every day.

Three hours.

Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist
And she looks physically perfect, which just gives me someone else to compare myself to. Why can't I be that perfect looking? It's not fair. I don't have the time to work out for three hours every single day. When I get home, it's around 7pm, which gives me just enough time to cook dinner, work on graphics, and go to bed. How could I possibly fit more exercise into my routine? As for veganism, it's bad enough that I'm pescatarian right now and unable to lose weight. I can't imagine what restricting myself even more would do.

Now, I could chalk all this up to "different body types" and just say, "Don't worry about it. Everyone is different, you're made to look this way". But what I'm really thinking is just "You're not trying hard enough."

And that's what it always boils down to, in the end. I always feel like I could be doing more to lose weight. There's something I haven't found, some magic cure for chubby thighs, and it's just beyond my reach. I'm not so self destructive that I'm willing to do anything crazy, because like most narcissists, I value myself and my health too much. How am I supposed to sing for an audience and run around like a maniac if I'm passing out from malnutrition? I'm not willing to do that. But there should be something I can do that's within my reach.

Something else I'm fully aware of is the fact that most women who weight train for fitness aren't waify. They're strong ladies, usually a little thick, and I absolutely adore them and how hard they work. So I could be content with the way I'm currently built because as it is, I'm able to lift way more than I used to and run way longer and way faster than I used to. I should be proud of what I've accomplished, but instead I'm still beating myself up because I'm not thin.

So yeah, Willy's right. I'm entirely too negative about myself and it's causing me nothing but stress. At this point, I've got to figure out whether I want to continue beating myself up or try and accept that what I am is okay. Except that accepting what I am feels like giving up. It feels like failure. I feel like a failure.

How messed up is that?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

$^#&ing scale!!

Look, I know losing weight takes a while. I know. I've been spoiled by having been able to, in the past, lose 5lbs in a week. And usually, that's all I needed to feel okay. I would go from 122-127, diet for a week, lose that water weight and be back to my old self. Well that isn't working, now. Since last year's tour, parties, and Holiday season, I got so far over 130 that now I can't climb back down from it. 130. That horrible horrible number.

Let me tell you about 130. 130 was my goal, once. I saw it as an obtainable goal. Something that, as a teenager who weighed 180lbs, I could gain and feel good about. Hell, I would have been happy at 150. 150 was a nice round number, right? Not right. I lost weight so damn fast it was mind blowing. Suddenly I was 150, and I had no idea, because I had no scale. I remember at some point trying to put on an old pair of jeans and being shocked at how huge they were. Then, one day, I was 130. My "goal". I thought to myself, "woah". But I didn't stop. I never really stopped dieting and at my lowest weight, while living in a one bedroom studio in Manassas and working at a greenhouse, I hit 119 and felt like singing and screaming because that was my lowest weight ever and I WAS STILL FAT.

Well, not really. But I always FELT fat.

Now, I'm 130 again. I actually lost about 8-10lbs since November, but I can't get past this 130 mark. It's like a thorn in my side that refuses to remove itself. I can't tell if it's fat, or if it's a combination of losing fat and growing muscle, but I still can't wear my old jeans and it is seriously pissing me off. Like, what the hell more can I do? I already don't eat anything with sugar, or bread, or joy. My breakfast is one plain Greek yogurt. My lunch is tuna. My dinner is some kind of fish smothered in vegetables. My snacks are raw unsalted nuts (hehe) and my beverage of choice is either water, black coffee, OR if I'm feeling REALLY cheeky, coffee with a splash of cream. Or a diet Coke. THAT'S IT. I don't eat sweets, or junk food. I work out four times a week. I stretch, I lift, I run, I bike, I sweat, and I work until my muscles feel like they're going to revolt.

So why the %$&# am I still stuck at this mother $&#*ing 130lbs!?

Rant aside, I decided to venture forth in skinny jeans for our last show. I do not think I will ever be able to pull off that look. I've got massive thighs and I don't know how to tame them. Don't believe me? Take a look at this bullshit.

What the hell was I thinking!? Maybe I was hoping that I've really just got body dysmorphia and I see myself as fatter than I really am. Nope. I'm fat. I'm not fat enough that it's a health concern, I'm not fat enough that I can complain that nobody carries my size, I'm just fat enough that I can't wear skinny jeans and I'm very upset that it feels like I can't do anything about it. I can hear the calls of "LOL join and gym" and "cut down on the burgers" and what not from here. I just don't get it. What am I doing wrong? How is it possible to eat like this, sweat like this, and beat myself up like this and not lose weight? What do I have to do, stop eating entirely? Is it time to give fasting a try? Because I've done that and all I get are massive headaches.

And I refuse to believe that I was just meant to be fat. I refuse. This is absolute bull$#&* and I'm going to find a way out if it kills me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Adventures in Trenton, NJ

It began innocently enough. We arrived in Trenton NJ with Bobbie, our friend and temporary merch-lady, in Josh's black Toyota soccer mom-SUV. We parked beside the venue, a small place called the Champion Sports Bar & Grill, which sat conveniently next to a liquor store. In all honesty, this was far from the worst place ever. In fact, after going inside to stash our gear, the place appeared to be downright charming. I love dive bars and this place had a great crowd and a great vibe. The bartender was friendly, the fans were cool, and the bands all seemed really eager to put on a good show. I felt great about the whole thing.

We went to check into our hotel and change, after which we came across our first street fight. From the safety of the mom-mobile, Josh and I watched as one lone white guy tried to take one three black guys who were clearly trying their best not to go to jail for manslaughter. This guy was pushing them, yelling at them, and generally making an ass of himself until what I assume to be his friend had to grab him by the shoulders and drag him away. Into the Pollo Campero, which made me even more sad I can't eat meat because POLLO CAMPERO.

This being my first time in New Jersey, I felt pretty amused, and we went to the Champion with high spirits. I asked the bartender to fill my mug with rail vodka and diet Coke, which he did with guso, promptly filling 2/3s of my mug with rail vodka before splashing some diet Coke on top. I took sips from this for the rest of the evening. I went back into the stage room to watch the band playing, a hardcore band called True Rumors. I'll admit that I am not a fan of hardcore bands, but I appreciate seeing a woman who can do it well. They didn't seem very happy when they weren't given any extra time on stage, and I felt bad for the sound guy (who actually did a really good job). I really need to start bringing sound guys candy or something.

When it was finally time to take the stage, I asked the same bartender to give us shots (3 Jack, 1 Ketel One, as is tradition). He did the shots with us and we took to the stage. The sound guy dimmed the lights for us (again, awesome job) and regardless of how small the room was, all the people there made it feel very big. We had a fantastic audience and played one of our best sets. We managed to sell a really good amount of merchandise, which believe me, I appreciate. I did what I like to call my "A" set, because this was a stand-alone show and I wasn't saving my voice for anything else. I love doing shows like that because it allows me to go as hard as I want.

Jenn and myself!
When we were finished, we stayed around to watch JENNCiTY, Jennifer Arroyo's new band. They had great energy and have the potential to become something really awesome. I was especially enamored with their bass player, who wore a Green Lantern belt and was one of the happiest dudes I've ever met. Jenn herself was a really enthusiastic frontwoman, and I was fairly jealous of her ability to  play the audience. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them, and hopefully we'll play together again!

Of course, it wouldn't be a real trip to Jersey without us seeing at least one more street fight. As we were packing the mom-mobile, a really big heavy white dude suddenly burst from the door of Champion and fell down the stairs. With his pants down. Big white butt everywhere. Three black dudes followed him out, who I had spoken to earlier (security guys, very nice), and tried to convince this big drunk guy to leave. He responded by hurling the "n" word a couple of times and throwing some punches. They gave him a few curb stomps, decided that he wasn't worth going to jail for, and went back inside. The guys and I made a last tour of the bar to make sure we had all our gear, and said farewell to the venue. All in all, it was a triumphant night. We played our first New Jersey show, saw some fights, made some fans, and sold some merchandise.

Yes, of course I would do it again. This is the stuff that my dreams are made of!