Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I feel I must apologize for being gone for so long. I was considering writing something this month, but since I'm working on NaNoWriMo, I felt guilty writing anything else. As it stands right now, I'm less than 10k words away from the 50k word goal, with 5 days to go! So I may actually win this year, and that's exciting! So I decided to take a break and focus on the upcoming holiday.

I've got a lot to be thankful for. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I've gone through many trials and tribulations, especially during the holidays. For some reason, the holidays are when companies decide to unceremoniously dump people, but not until after you've helped organize their company picnics and holiday parties. This year, I was scared. My current contract was coming to an end, and I didn't know if I would have to start looking for another job.

Thankfully, another opportunity came my way and I get to continue to work for my wonderful company. I'm very happy and relieved, so I can finally let my hair down and take a deep sigh without wondering if I've jinxed myself, and give thanks for all of the things I have to be thankful for. I feel like writing a list is gloating (and tempting fate) so I'm going to focus instead on the best part of the upcoming holiday; food.

I asked everyone on Facebook what their family food traditions are. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique in that it's not a religious holiday, so every American celebrates it in their own way. We are a melting pot of traditions and foods that may not have been relevant to the culture we came from, but we find a way to make it our own.

As a first generation American, both my parents are immigrants, so they adapted to American culture throughout the years. We always celebrated Thanksgiving. I remember waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the sound of my parents arguing over the turkey (a sound I still hear to this day) before I have to get dressed for church. At church, our priest gives the usual "give thanks" sermon before he dismisses us early so he can catch the football game. Afterwards, we rush home to change clothes, then rush back to the church so we can play soccer in the field behind it.

That's a Thanksgiving tradition that was unique for my family. A lot of families play Thanksgiving foodball, but we played Thanksgiving soccer. A bunch of people from the church would play with us, and we'd go adults vs kids for a couple of hours until the turkey was done. Then, back home in the car, and finally food.

Man oh man the food. See, my family never really saw the point in all the other sides. We have a small family. Mom, dad, me, and maybe my brother and sister (if they were around) and maybe their kids or wife or husband but it was different every year, and never more than five or six people to sit down and give thanks with prayer over the turkey. So we had a big turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. No vegetables, just meat, bread, and pie. My mom wasn't really big on cooking, so my dad did the turkey.

To this day, whenever people complain about how turkey is gross and dry, I thank my lucky stars that my dad never made me experience that. My dad's turkey is ridiculously moist. So moist in fact that I don't use gravy. The leg meat is my favorite, and I can gnaw on that sucker about halfway until I'm full. So yeah,s crew you and your anti-turkey sentiments, but the star of the show was his stuffing. I don't know if it's because nobody ever told my parents how to make turkey and stuffing, but they figured out this magical combination through many years of trial and error. The stuffing is always somehow different. One year, raisins. One year, craisins. One year, both, and always with walnuts, celery and onions. Then, recently, my dad started adding moonshine.

Yes, moonshine.

Don't ask where he got it, because his explanation is "some guys at work".

Being that my dad is a member of the laborer's union, he always worked outside. He was a welder working for VDOT for much of my life, so a lot of his friends were also laborers. This is a class of Americans that still work with their hands, and are proud to do so. They've got all sorts of negative nicknames; rednecks, ghetto, wetbacks, ratchet, cracker, spic. They're the blue collar middle-to-low class of America, and they come in every different color. My dad was one of them, and they accepted him. They would trade stories about their kids, and sometimes they would trade stuff.

So sometimes, dad came home with Civil War bullets from a friend who was really into Civil War stuff. Sometimes, he'd bring home some kind of food a coworker's wife made for everyone. Stuff from India, China, the south, wherever that guy was from. And one day, he brought back moonshine, so. Into the stuffing it went.

The stuffing has never been the same. It has only been better.

This is my America. This mixture of cultures that makes us all different, but wholly special. Nowadays, I bring pumpkin tartlets made with Stevia (because we have diabetics in the family), and my mom cooks more vegetables. But that turkey is still the moistest most delicious %&$*ing bird I've ever had, and the stuffing makes me lightheaded just thinking about it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Twerk or Not To Twerk?

Boy is this a confusing time to be a feminist. I've got all sorts of people arguing either in favor or in hatred of twerking, and here I am wondering when having a big butt suddenly became a style and not something I was cursed with.

Let me start by saying that having a big butt is not easy to deal with, especially when you're 5' tall. Sir Mix A Lot's song is a great source of pride, until he starts doling out measurements and you realize that all the girls in his video have pretty small butts compared to the average American woman. Plenty of men are legit into big butts, and they're having their day right now because girls are becoming more confident and less afraid to show them. A great example of this is Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass", which basically became an overnight sensation and an anthem for girls who don't measure up to society's standards.

Hell, even I like the song!

I've seen some wacky things all week from the world in regards to femininity and music, one of them being a big rant from Jill Janus in regards to a poll she referred to as a “Vote for the Hottest Female Metal Vocalist” contest. Since Metalholic's Vote Top 25 Women in Metal poll was released, people (myself included) believe she was referring to that, which is kind of annoying because Metalholic goes out of it's way to say that this is not a "hot" contest. And while I can understand being annoyed by online polls, I can't see myself getting pissed when one of the top contenders being voted on is a singer from Baby Metal.

I mean really, how can girls like me compete with cute teenage girls in tutus?

Which brings me to my original topic; to twerk or not to twerk.

You see, Mastadon released a new music video that involves a lot of twerking. Some people say they're making fun of Nikki Minaj, but that's not true. Mastadon's Brann Dailor claims they "didn’t know about the Nicki Minaj video until after." 

Some people say the video is extremely sexist, which isn't hard to imagine considering the music (which does include metal) industry doesn't often see women as more than bodies. Objects. Things the obtain or admire, visually. Can they be called sexist if that wasn't their intention? I'd like to say no, but this is a product of our society. Our culture is inherently sexist, so when people use women as decorations, it's not because they're saying "women are here to decorate my music video", it's because they've been trained to think that this is how women should be depicted and that's okay.Watching this video, you could come to many conclusions. "They're making fun of rap videos" is one of them, and I'll admit that there's something a little annoying about the idea of three white guys making fun of rap videos and black culture in general. Then again, making fun of objectification could be a noble stance, but they've already said they're not doing that. So what are they doing? It's become normal for a lot of men to see women dancing like this and think it's funny, it's fun, the women are "empowered" and they don't have a problem, so it must be okay. And to be honest, I don't necessarily argue with that. If women choose to use their bodies in this way, who are we to judge their choices? It's a free country, we should be free to show or not show our bodies as much as we want, correct?

Then you could say that the more women allow people to treat us this way, the more they expect us to stay this way. But to blame this on women would be akin to victim blaming, wouldn't it? Just because I wear a bikini doesn't mean you have the right to discriminate against me or how you perceive my intelligence. So lets put this in another perspective; if I twerk and you think I'm stupid, is this my fault or yours? And why should I care about your opinion?

Because we're entertainers, that's why. And while I've accepted that the only way to make a living with music is to give the listening public exactly what they want, sometimes that includes twerking. And enormous surgically enhanced boobs or butts. Sex in lyrics. All the things I just can't bring myself to do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


So I'm totally going to steal a fraction of Floor Jansen's internet thunder for a moment, here. She recently posted this "I'm not an asshole, I swear!" manifesto, and people are taking sides. I can't really take a side, so I'll just post my thoughts on the matter as a far-less known female vocalist in our world of metal.

"If I meet people and I ask not to touch me, this again is nothing personal. I don't like it. Some people (in general) are more physical than others and I am not comfortable with touching strangers or being grabbed."

You know what, Floor? That's cool, and I agree. Look assholes, you are not entitled to being touched or hugged or whatever. Just because you own all of her albums doesn't mean you get to physically touch someone. She doesn't owe you a damn thing, so don't get pissy if she says she doesn't want to hug you. And if you do, you're an asshole. Do I hug random sweaty men? Yes I do, and sometimes it's uncomfortable. But that's my choice, and if it's her choice not to, then you should respect her choice.

The rest of her letter you can read yourself, and come to your own conclusions.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Whore your band!

Today is Friday. Hurray! Since Willy is going to a bachelor party, I decided to amuse myself by supporting my local metal community and going to a show. The show takes place at the Sidebar in Baltimore, one of the coolest places in the city, and will be featuring doom metal. A good friend of mine is promoting the show, so I spoke to her about how the shows are doing. As a promoter, it's her job to promote shows, and let me tell you she is out there killing it to make sure people show up. Unfortunately, not as many people are coming as they should. Why's that? Well, there could be any number of reasons. Winter is a bad time for shows since people don't like going out in the cold, so that's a big culprit. Another one?

Bands not promoting enough.

Now don't get me wrong, I agree that promoters should promote. However, relying on promoters to promote is exactly why bands have a problem getting enough people through the door. We discussed pre-sales, which is where you ask bands to sell tickets. I've been doing pre-sales for over 8 years now, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon. Why? Because if you can't get at least 5 people to see you, there is a problem. I hear all sorts of excuses from bands, these days.

Back in  (insert year here), venues paid bands to play! We showed up and played! 

I shouldn't have to sell tickets, I'm the talent!

It's the promoter's job to promote, not mine!

Our fans don't like us pushing tickets, it makes us seem desperate!

And so on and so on and so on...

Child, please. In this metal business, we have to take what we can get. Being whiny about not selling tickets is going to do nothing for you. You can be the greatest band in the universe, but if nobody knows about you, how are you going to get your name out there? If you're not willing to sell yourself, why should anyone else? It's not like there aren't a million other bands trying their damndest to get recognition. You have to fight for that recognition and you have to make people see you. It's marketing. It's selling yourself. It's not pretty, but if you have a good product, people will respond and you will see results!

It's not easy to do this and it does take a bit of pride swallowing. If you have a big ego and expect people to come see you out of the goodness of your talent, this may be an issue. The truth is, some people won't go to a gig unless they're reminded. Or asked. They might be scared of your music (HELLO, METAL!), and think it's all a bunch of old men with skullets and patch vests growling at the women. Well how are they gonna find out that those old men with skullets and patch vests are (for the most part) very friendly and fun to hang with? How are they going to find out that metal is fun and exciting unless you say, "Hey cousin Debbie, want to see my band play this Tuesday? I need to sell some tickets and I was hoping you could come! I promise I'll buy you a Long Island, and you can wear that corset you bought at the Renaissance Fair!"

Every band wants to be the band that shows up, gets paid, and leaves. But everyone starts somewhere, and if you're not willing to start at the bottom, you've got an even steeper climb than the guys shilling out tickets for their first show. These young bands are hungry. They will do whatever it takes to bring people, and trust me, you are not better than they are because your older, or you have pro gear, or your leather pants are tighter. If you're playing to an empty stage, there's nobody out there looking at those leather pants anyway.

Don't be a prima donna. "Pay for play", where you literally pay to play, is not the same as pre-selling tickets. Pre-selling tickets means you're taking your band to your friends and family and spreading the word, and the more you do it, the easier (and more profitable) it gets. If you're not comfortable asking people to come see your band, good luck getting anyone else to do it because not everyone has an uncle in the industry who's going to do it all for you. Do that shit yourself.


Thursday, March 27, 2014


I know that many of the people who read my blog are not metal fans. Metal fans are a very small minority, in this world. Sadly, even we often butt heads when it comes to our opinions on certain things. This is because regardless of what community you're in, there will always be really dumb people and you just have to get over that.

Of course, I'm the type of person who sees the dumb and wants to make something from that dumb. For today's post, I'd like to bring up possibly the stupidest thing anyone has ever accused me of; not being a "real" metal fan.

Why would anyone say such a thing, you might ask? Well, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe it's because my first metal show was Dragonforce. Maybe it's because I'm young. Maybe it's because I like to promote my band a lot, which seems like something anyone in a band would do, but hey, that could be a reason people see me and think, "Sure, she spends a lot of her time talking about/working in/promoting metal, but is she really one of us?"

So to combat this dumb, I've decided to come up with a list of all the things I do. If, after reading this, anyone still thinks I'm not a real metalhead, or that I'm some kind of metal poser (do we have those!?), then nothing I ever say or do will be able to convince them otherwise. For the rest of you, maybe this will give you an understanding of how much exactly goes into A Sound of Thunder from the single person that is me.

I personally:

  • Design the layout for all merchandise, which includes CDs/vinyl/t-shirts/shot glasses/ect.
  • Design and update our website.
  • Write lyrics.
  • Record vocals (obviously, which can take up to 6 hours per session and often happens after I work an 8 hour shift at my full-time job).
  • Write music.
  • Book every show.
  • Book shows for other bands (such as Benedictum and Leather Leone).
  • Plan travel to/from every show.
  • Research and book hotels for each show that is not local.
  • Promote each show.
  • Sell tickets.
  • Create flyers for each show.
  • Create events online for each show.

Now, as if all that wasn't enough, I also work a full-time job and am married. So along with all of the band things I do, I also have to find some way to work 40 hours a week and make my husband not feel like he's single. As many of you know, I'm also a health/fitness enthusiast, so I also somehow manage to cram in regular exercise and healthy cooking into my schedule.

After all this, if there is anyone out there who still thinks I'm somehow fake for whatever reason, I have only one thing to say to you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On "Attention Whoring"

I've been getting shit from a few people on the fact that I mentioned my band in the CNN article. I'm trying to come up with a way of expressing the way I feel without using the word "retarded" because I know it's an offensive word. However, this picture sums up exactly the way I feel when people ask me. Let me demonstrate.

"Nina, why would you mention your band for an interview on an internationally read news site?"

If I need to explain why I would talk about my band in an interview on an internationally read news site, you might be the dumbest sack of shit on the planet. Of course I'm going to talk about my band. Why wouldn't I? It's a huge part of my life and a huge part about why I was able to keep the weight off. Do you have any idea how much pressure there is to keep fit when you're on stage in front of hundreds of people? A lot, that's how much! If I didn't have my band, I wouldn't have that much of a reason for wanting to stay in shape. I want to be able to run around like Bruce Dickinson.

I want to be able to live a long long time so I can make music into my senior years and not have to hobble around in front of a teleprompter. I want to be amazing for a long long time. That's why I mentioned my band, because my music is my life! I wave the flag of my band everywhere I go! What kind of shitty front person would I be if I didn't?

And furthermore, what kind of idiot wouldn't want to share that with the world?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What's wrong with telling someone they need to lose weight?

People are ridiculous. I've seen a lot of horrible comments following my story on CNN, but one of the most prevalent themes seems to be that people think it's okay to tell someone they need to lose weight. Because they "care".

On the internet, we call these people "concern trolls".

Please, let me educate you on what you say to someone who you believe needs to lose weight.


Well, let me clarify.

Lets say you have a loved one who is obese. You believe they should lose weight because their health may be at risk. What do you tell them? Well first of all, consider the fact that the person in question probably realizes they're fat. Fat people aren't the idiots people seem to believe they are. People love speculating that all fat folks are dumb and have no idea that being fat is harmful and they're going to die if you don't tell them right now.

Stop it.

Fat people know they're fat. They don't need you to tell them. I repeat; FAT PEOPLE KNOW THEY'RE FAT. THEY DON'T NEED YOU TO TELL THEM. If you think they do, you're the dumb one.

Now, if you care about a loved one's health, fine. Why not approach them from a health perspective?

"Hey bro, I've started adding more vegetables to my diet and I feel great. I have this recipe for a delicious tomato bisque I'd like to share."

That's great! Do that!

"Hey bro, you know you'd look way better if you lost a few pounds."

Well no shit, asshole. As if every fat person hadn't considered that possibility. People seem to think it's my ex boyfriend saying that to me is why I lost weight. Are you out of your mind? I didn't lose weight because my boyfriend said I'd look better thinner. I lost weight because I was involved with someone who intimidated me and I felt that I had to do what he said or I wouldn't be worthy of compassion. Does that sound like a good relationship? Does that sound like a situation where I should contact him and thank him for making me feel so bad about myself, I lost a shit-ton of weight to please him?

The fact that I got more confidence to stand up for myself afterwards was a lucky coincidence. I could have just as easily been trapped in that situation for the rest of my life. Now, 11 years later, I've maintained my weight loss through healthy eating and exercise. I did that. Me. Not him. He didn't help me by making me feel bad about myself. He didn't help me when I was dieting, either. I did it all myself, even if it is because I felt bad, but I did it myself and I'm sick of people saying he deserves credit for being an asshole. Frankly, anyone who thinks so is probably an asshole and I'd rather not associate myself with them, anyway.

In closing:
Fat people know they're fat.
Stop being an asshole.
Treat everyone with love and respect.
Yes, even fat people.
You asshole.

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's been a long time coming! UPDATE!

It's been way too long since my last blog post.

First of all, I'm working a different job. Hurray!! I actually very much loved the people I worked with at my last job, and this new one came out of nowhere. Long story short, I'm now once again working as a full-time graphic designer and I'm VERY happy.

The reason I'm FINALLY writing this update is because recently, a CNN article went out about the weight loss I accomplished more than 10 years ago. I wrote the story on a CNN iReport back in December and a lady from CNN asked me if she could do a follow up. I said sure! So she did, and here it is, titled "Singer Drops 60 LBS and Drops Her Boyfriend". Quite the sensationalist title, considering this happened over 10 years ago! I would have figured that my maintenance should have been the focus of this article, not my boyfriend.

Suddenly people are coming to his defense. I feel I should clear the air.

1. He was emotionally abusive. "You'd look better if you were thinner" is a stupid thing to say to a fat person. Fat people hear this everywhere all the time. If you want to encourage someone to be healthy, telling them they'd look better if they dropped a few pounds isn't the way to go about it. The reason I listened is because I was in an abusive relationship with a person who not only made me feel small emotionally, but physically as well. He hit me more than once, which was the real reason I broke up with him. Then he stalked me. So I'm a little peeved at CNN for not including all of the details, but I imagine they didn't have the room.

2. This happened TEN YEARS AGO. The reason I wrote about it is because I'm maintaining this loss, and no, it's not easy. It's hard. I wanted to share my story with people and show that there are people out there who are not just weight loss success stories, we're maintenance success stories and we can keep it up, but it takes a lot of hard work.


So there ya go. Hope this clears things up.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with Full House

It's been weird on the internet, lately. The guys of Full House have reunited, bringing back memories of live studio audience "awwww"s, the Olsen twins, and Uncle Jesse's hair. I'll be honest, as a kid, I hated this show. I also loved this show.

TGIF was a staple, for me. Every Friday night I got Family Matters (hell yeah, Steve), Step By Step, Boy Meets World, and Full House. The shows rotated a bit, at some point Clueless and some other forgettable shows were thrown in there, but for the most part, all these comedies were family and kid-friendly. Sitcoms that anyone could enjoy, especially if you were a middle class white family. As someone who isn't white (and arguably middle class.. I never went to Disney World, but I did go to Europe?), I still loved these shows, and even today I'm not exactly certain why. I had nothing in common with any of the protagonists, besides being female and American. I'm not white (or black) and my environment wasn't this white-washed American place where I could ride my bike to the comic book store and back.

But maybe that's why I loved these shows; the hope that these places existed. I actually resented the Tanner girls. Here were three gorgeous blondes who never worried about being constantly bullied, who had great friends, who, at the worst, would have these insignificant problems that made me angry. Like, remember the time DJ thought she was fat? All I could think was "but you're perfect! I wish I looked like you!", because I was teased as being the fat kid in class and didn't realize that actually, I did look a lot like DJ. Except DJ was an actress and they made her lose weight and by the time she was a teenager, she was thin and hot (like the other Tanners). I wasn't so lucky. All that crushing defeatist "I'm gonna be fat and ugly my whole life" thinking (in addition to my mom's high-carb cooking) made me put on weight in high school, so I just hated the TGIF crew even more. In the 90's, thin was in, and every time I watch Full House reunions I remember how much I hated the Tanner girls and how much I wished I could be the Tanner girls.

Seriously, Michelle got to go horseback riding as a hobby. You know what my hobby was? Letting my mom take me to auditions I probably had no business being at because we weren't rich and I never had formal training. But if I were a Tanner girl, I would have had voice lessons, horses, a wise-cracking uncle, some guy living under my stairs... well, Full House was a fantasy land that I envied. That's what I'm getting at.

Boy Meets World was, however, my favorite show on TGIF so I eagerly await Girl Meets World and pray it's not a shit-show. Disney has a tendency to have nauseating sitcoms. Please don't screw this up for me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm 30!

Well, I tried Kinja......aaaand I didn't like it. It was too weird to use. I did like that people could login to comment using their Facebook profile, but that was pretty much it.

Anyhoo, I turned 30 this Tuesday and I have surprisingly not begun decaying (yet). So far, I feel the same way I felt in my 20's. No creaky bones, no arthritis, no weird pain (other than my constant neck/back pain from car accidents) and besides the dry skin that accompanies showering daily my skin is still the same. What gives? I thought 30 was supposed to be some kind of milestone? Maybe that's 40, now?

Blaze taught me the art of invisible orbs.
Well I'm not complaining. I'm looking forward to being me for another seventy years. Last night I was in the studio to finish vocals on The Lesser Key of Solomon and I was able to hit higher and clearer than ever. My singing and performing has only improved with time, so I'm happy to no longer be in my awkward early 20's while I was still trying to figure out what to do with my hands. I'm also happy that I've figured out where I want to go with music and that my tastes haven't changed; I'm still into cheesy heavy metal. Not that all our metal is cheesy, but man, I'm looking forward to hearing what people think about this new album. There's gonna be some strange moments in there, that's for sure.

I'm also happy to currently work in a place where I don't constantly feel anxiety. It's strange to work somewhere where the rules are constantly changing (and never in your favor) and I like being able to come into a place where my coworkers (and especially boss) are kind, thoughtful, and appreciative of my effort. I didn't think it would take me so long to get to a place where people actually appreciate me. Plus there's a gym!

Oh the gym. I have a love/hate relationship with working out. I love how I feel after, and I hate actually doing it. People give me tips on workouts all the time, but to be honest, I just don't have the time to do anything but the workouts my gym can provide me with. It's small but I'm doing free weights. Maybe this is why I'm not having any bone pain in my (lol) "old age"? Strength training is supposed to be good for women, and I do it every day. Right now I'm working on lifting heavier without breaking my wrists, so lets see how far I can go with that.

Strangely enough, 20-25 seemed kind of uneventful for me. It was 20-25 where things really got a push, from joining A Sound of Thunder to getting married to buying a condo. I've been pretty happy, maybe increasingly happy, especially with where our band is going. So I'm saying goodbye to my 20's with no anger or regret. It was a good 10 years, and I don't think I'm done being arrested in a mini-skirt yet.
Oh officer, please be gentle?