April marches on…

Wow, I can’t believe that tomorrow is already April Fool’s Day.  Where did the month of March go?  Somehow I missed it among St. Patrick’s Day and now Easter.  I kept meaning to write, but well, there was always something better on TV to watch that what I had to say in a blog that no one, (well maybe one person) reads.  But this coming week is a big one for me.  I have a birthday coming up on the fourth and it will be the final one of the 30’s.  Yes, I am turning 39. It seems like it was just a few years ago that I was in my “early thirties”, then came my “mid thirties”, and now the final stretch of my “late thirties”.  I don’t where all the time went except to watching TV shows.  Tonight is the season finale of “The Walking Dead” but next week brings the return of “Mad Men”.  There is always something I am watching whether it is “Grimm”, “Once Upon A Time” or “Doctor Who” on live TV or watching the first season of “Community” on Hulu Plus.  And don’t forget, there are UK shows on Hulu Plus that I can’t even watch on regular TV like “Spy”.  For some reason I have always had a soft spot for British TV shows.  I am not sure if it is the accents or the cute cars, but I will watch a bad British Sit-com over an American one any day.

This last week was Spring Break for the school district so instead of looking for a real job, I decided to watch a lot of telly.  Yes, I was sick, but that is beside the point.  I could have read a book, but no, TV has always been my favorite babysitter and comfort-maker.  I have always tried to downplay the amount of TV that I watch, but I would be lying if I said that I can make it through the week without watching “The Colbert Report” or “The Daily Show” on Hulu along with re-watching the last episode of “Revolution” that aired in December before going on hiatus until the end of March.

So instead of living my own life, I have watched people on TV living their lives.  Through a ad agency in the 60’s or a zombie apocalypse on AMC, or what qualifies as present day in rainy Portland or Storybrooke, I have always found other peoples lives to be more interesting than my own.  Mind you, I don’t watch reality TV except for a little “Pawn Stars” or “Iron Chef” here or there.  I don’t get wrapped up in “The Bachelor” or “Dancing with the Stars” and I have never seen “Honey Boo Boo” or the other drivel on TLC or Lifetime.  I like to think that I am above those shows.  And while I am excited to watch the second season of “Call the Midwife” and “Mr. Selfridge” on PBS, but I am not a PBS buff either.  I just like to escape and dream.  I like to imagine what life would be like in other time periods, and in other countries.  I like to imagine what it would be like if there were monsters walking amongst us that only Grimms could see.  I like to imagine living through anything different that what I live with every day.

I guess I could try to make daily life a little more interesting, but I have always lived in my head.  I travel in my head, have conversations in my head, do jobs in my head, heck, I even think about what I am going to blog about in my head before typing it out.

But my Spring days have passed and I am well into my Summer years.  I should be living on ice cream and chocolate kisses according to Billy Bragg, but I am here, watching it all unfold on television.

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London Loves…

You can blame it on my parents really.  I don’t think I had ever thought about England until they took me to the UK and Ireland when I was 10 years old.  First we landed in Ireland and I have to admit I was not taken by the place.  One of the first nights there my brother and I had hamburger steak at some Irish restaurant and it was just that, hamburger on a plate.  I think there was some sauce too, but that was it. No bun, no ketchup.  I remember thinking, I do not like this place very much, if they don’t have real hamburgers here.  And then there was all the green everywhere and peat.  I had no idea what peat was until going to Ireland, but it was everywhere.  In fact the trip was kind of a downer involving my father’s hay fever and one lane roads until we finally arrived in London.  Piccadilly Circus really, and it was a wonderland of color, sights, and sounds.  I fell in love but wondered where the circus animals were.

Duran Duran had become popular when I was in fourth grade and they were the first band I ever talked about with my friends.  Them and Big Country, but they only had that one song while Duran Duran had lots like “New Moon on Monday”, “Save a Prayer” and “Rio”.  My distinct memory of London was exiting the tube station at Piccadilly Circus and walking up the stairs.  It was nighttime and majestic.  The sounds of traffic, the blazing colors and neon lights, the Tower Records!  My father had taken me to Tower Records before, the one in West Covina by the mall.  I truly didn’t understand what a record store was and I thought it was like the library but with lots of records everywhere.  I remember liking the store but being disturbed by the big Tubes display in the windows.  They were a band at the time and their record cover was blue with white tubes everywhere.  And that is was what replicated in the store window; a blue background with white tubes everywhere.

Well, the window displays at the Piccadilly Tower Records had Duran Duran!  And the store was humongous!  I begged my parents for us to go inside and that is really where I fell in love with London and England by default.  In Tower Records looking at all the cool merchandise displays of bands that I liked and had seen on Richard Blade’s Video One.  In fact we had seen Richard Blade filming his show at some castle earlier on the trip.  It was one of the highlights of my young life.

Well I was sold on London and England after that point.  We then went to some museums and there were cute boys in blue uniforms everywhere! They all reminded me of the only British person I knew, Rhys Mason, who wore socks with his sandals.  Probably the only person in my fourth grade class less popular than me; and I think he was Welsh and not even English!  I had a crush on him.  Mostly because he didn’t throw rocks at me like Alec Johnson and Calvin Brooks did after bragging about how they knew square roots already.  Really? In fourth grade, like I was going to believe that!  Long division had taken me for a loop, and I think that is where my liking of math ended.  Among nerdy boys bragging about knowing their square roots!

So while my liking for math ended, my love affair with England had just started.  And for better or for worse, it has been with me for the last 28 years.  The love affair of my life.

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Tegan and Sara go pop!

Tegan and Sara was one of those bands that I had heard of for many years but never listened to until I saw them open up for Death Cab for Cutie at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago.  Frankly, I thought those days were behind me.  The days when I would go to a show and hear a band I have never heard before and become a fan right there and then, but it happened with Tegan and Sara on that summer night.

So I was excited when I found out that they were going to be playing in LA and bought tickets for the show without even thinking about who would go with me.  A friend of mine was going to go, but at the last minute got ill so I went to the show by myself.  I had been to Club Nokia once a few years ago when my friend Roberta won tickets to a show.  They were some young band whom I had never heard of before and now I don’t even remember their name.  In fact I had totally forgotten about the metal detectors until I went into the venue on Friday night.  Club Nokia has to be one of the only music venues I have ever been in that makes you go through a metal detector.  At the Palladium they have a hand wand that they use if needed, but a metal detector I don’t understand, especially for an indie band.

The first good news of the night was the fact that the Staples Center was not in use and I was able to find parking for $5. The second good news of the night was the fact that I was easily able to sell my extra ticket to a nineteen year old girl who will probably remember that show for years.  The third good news would have to be that since the general admission floor was already full, I got to go upstairs and sit right behind the VIP section.  Clea Duvall (an actress) who I used to see at all the “girl band” shows sat down in the row in front of me and later I noticed Greg Kurstin (the guy who produced their new CD and who is in the band “the Bird and the Bee”) sitting in the same row.  Celebrity sightings aside, it was a fantastic show.  All the ladies were in the house.  I haven’t seen that many women at a show since early Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre shows.  Having a female audience always changes the dynamic of the show.  The energy level is different (maybe due to all the estrogen in the room) and I feel safer at these shows.  Not that I don’t feel safe at other indie rock shows I go to, but the lack of males in the room makes it feel more communal at these shows.  I feel as if I could be on stage or that the music is speaking directly towards me compared to when I watch mixed or all male bands perform.

My friend John once told me that the reason he likes female bands is because they are not on stage in order to get laid.  He thinks their music is more authentic than male rock bands.  He might be right. Of course I just think he likes female bands because he might get laid. 😮  If there was a female band that exuded sexiness, it would be Tegan and Sara.  Maybe because their songs are mostly about relationships and their new cd titled “Heartthrob” is no exception.  In my mind, they are the most “male” female fronted band around with lyrics like “how come you don’t want me now?” and “all I dream of lately is how to get you underneath me.”  Most of the songs on the new cd sound very similar and have a lot of keyboard programming on them. A Greg Kurstin stamp that he places on all the material he produces.  I love their last cd “Sainthood” which Chris Walla produced (which is probably why they were playing with Death Cab when I first saw them). “Sainthood” has variation to it, while “Heartthrob” is monotonous.  Catchy, but monotonous none the less.  Live it works because the songs were mixed up and Tegan and Sara played songs spanning their last four albums on Friday night.  But as an album “Heartthrob” is not as strong as their older stuff.  The audience seemed to agree with me and cheered harder for their older songs.  As a band they decided to take a risk by going with a more pop producer and well the proof is in the pudding.  The question is going to be, where do they go from here?

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God Help The Girl

Last night I got to do something that makes it worthwhile to live in Los Angeles.  I was able to watch a screening of Stuart Murdoch’s film “God Help The Girl” which is something that I helped support on Kickstarter a year ago.  Someday I will receive a DVD copy of the film in the mail in exchange for my donation to the film project.  I was very excited to see the movie since I have been a big fan of the band since 1997 and I have been hearing about the project for the last few years.

First off I show up at United Talent Agency which is where the screening is taking place.  Interestingly enough, it is located near where Maverick Records used to be housed in Beverly Hills and a corner of the city I have not been to since I left Maverick in 1998.  I felt like I was coming full circle since I am someday soon going to leave LA and Maverick was one of the first places I worked at in this town.

So I sat and waited in the lobby while other fans started trickling in.  To say that I can spot other Belle and Sebastian fans is not surprising.  There was an English guy reading a Jonathan Lethem book, a couple in which the woman was grading her students’ classwork, and the usual assortment of people with dyed hair staring at their smartphones.  The movie was going to start 30 minutes later than we were told and I was wishing I had brought a book to kill time.  Instead all I had was my smartphone and a memo pad.  I spot Stuart standing across the room with a pregnant American whom I guessed was his wife.  Stuart having a kid?  He was one of the few people out there who I thought would never have kids.  It has always made me feel better knowing that there are other people out there who don’t have kids.  It makes me feel less alone in my choices.  Well I was feeling pretty alone last night, and this was mostly due to the fact that I did not know any of the people hanging around and I wasn’t too keen on trying to strike up a conversation with anyone new.  If it was a show I was waiting around for, well then maybe, but this event felt very relaxed and mellow.

I finally get to sit down in the screening room which had these big gray couches for us to sit on and wait some more.  This time I am drawing pictures of the gnomes on my socks because my cell phone would not get any reception.  The theatre was about half full and I would say there were less than 100 people in the room.

Stuart introduces the movie and his pregnant wife and I am sitting right behind them.  One of my favourite things to do is people watch and listen in on other people’s conversations.  I have always felt that it was a way to learn about people and see what they are really like.  I have learned most of my social skills from watching others or TV.  When I was a child TV and movies were the way I learned everything about life.  It probably also set up unrealistic expectations like the fact that I should be asked out to the homecoming dance when I was high school, and going to the prom is a MUST.  But I digress from the point…

The movie is good.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I knew the songs from the “God Help The Girl” cd which came out in 2009 and the general plot line of the story but I didn’t know how the songs would run together.  Basically the movie followed the order of the songs from the cd although there were new ones added in.  Visually it was Stuart’s story of the forming of Belle and Sebastian.  It was not a biography, but the signs were there if you knew where to look. Eve and James are the two facets of Sebastian (Stuart) and Cassie was Belle (Isobel).  The story had already been told in their songs and liner notes years ago, but here it was being acted out down to the scenes of fighting with umbrellas instead of swords from the video of “Is It Wicked Not To Care?” and poses in the style of the cover of the “Legal Man” single.

What really struck me about the film was how young the characters seemed.  It really took me back to my years in college and even a trip I took to Scotland to visit my friend in December of 1994.  I was able to identify with the characters as being younger versions of myself while also seeing how far I have moved away from it.  I felt old in many ways and sad because all I wanted to do was start a band when I was 20 but I didn’t have the nerve, or any talent.  These kids in the movie had the self-esteem to do such a thing.  I still wonder if it too late for me?  Can I still form that band and live out my fantasies from when I was young?  Or has being “older and wiser” gotten the better of me?  Mind you, I am very glad that I am not 20 years old anymore.  Those were hellish days, but the nostalgia and “what could have been” will get me every time.

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So long 2012.

So I am in Eau Claire, Wisconsin visiting my brother, sister in law and two nieces. I have been here since Christmas Day and it is now New Year’s Eve. Three years ago I was in Virginia with baby Chloe on New Year’s and last year (or was it the year before) I was at a Ducks/Flyers hockey game in Anaheim with Mark. I have no idea where I will be next year at this time and that is a good thing. Life can be interesting if we make it so, and in 2012 I decided to make some changes that will continue to carry over into 2013. I quit my full time job as an Elementary school teacher. A job I have had since 1999 and finally decided needed to go. I took time off for two months to take care of myself when the going got rough, and this summer I had more time off from teaching to enjoy the summer and help my brother move from Virginia to Wisconsin.

I have one more month of a long term sub job which will be my last teaching gig ever. I might do some more day to day subbing but the full time/ long term subbing thing is for the birds. Actually I don’t think birds would even do this job for very long.

So what is next? I am still working on it. I have a few ideas in my bag of tricks. I would like to use my education experience to help parents as an education advocate while I go back to school to use my Psychology background to become a therapist. I am still figuring out what kind of therapist I want to be and if I want to go for a MFT or MSW degree. I am leaning towards the MFT because I want to work on personal development more than societal change. I want to become a LCSW anyways and that means two years of licensing hours and an exam just like the LMFT designation.

There are many new adventures awaiting me in the new year and I just need to be open to everything that awaits!

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Why I didn’t go to my high school reunion.

So it happened on Saturday night and I didn’t go. I didn’t even think twice about not going to the actual reunion. It was $85 for the “early bird offer” for a chicken dinner at a restaurant owned by one of my snotty classmates in Claremont! Really?? I don’t think so! Especially if the best the reunion committee can do is send out an invite on Facebook to only about 100 of the 450 students that were in my class! The people I would have loved to hangout with and catch up were not going; most of them were on the invite list even though they are on Facebook!

So why did I get so tripped up about the “all class reunion” that was happening on Friday night? Well, for one, it was free and you can’t beat a price like that. And for another, there would be people who were not from the class of 1992 there. I have to state for the record that most of my friends in high school were not in my actual class. Most were from ’91 or ’93. Most of the people in my class were stuck up skinny blonde kids who made fun of me in junior high. When I got to high school and was allowed the freedom of having classes and friends in different grades than myself is when I started to feel less smothered. I was able to talk about bands with kids who were juniors when I was a freshman. I saw that there was a world outside of the annoying kids in my grade. People that dyed their hair and wore doc martens (okay, not a lot of them, but there were some)! And this was my saving grace for the next four years of my life. Finding people who were a little like me, and didn’t make fun of me by calling me fat and ugly. People who told me about new bands and wore REM t-shirts.

There was no guarantee that any of them were going either, even if some of them have moved back to Claremont to raise their families, but at free it was worth a shot. So I was torn, between going to Casa de Salsa on Friday night, or going to an Etsy craft night in Hollywood. I decided to go to the craft night instead. And from looking at the photos that were posted on Facebook afterwards, I made a good decision. What I saw were 38 year olds who were “socs” in high school singing kareoke at a bar and other people mingling in a small crowd. Not a very welcoming environment for an “anti-soc” like me. That is what we called ourselves, the “anti-socs”. The opposite of the “horseshoe” loving jocks and drill team members who liked nothing better than blocking people’s path from one quad to another between class exchange time. The ones who held hands while walking down the hall and made out in front of lockers. Ewww…. The ones who wore red and pink on Valentine’s Day so we decided to wear black in protest and call it VD Day instead. If any of my “anti-soc” friends were going, maybe I would have gone, but most of them weren’t invited.

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Stress leave.

So since January I have been on a stress leave from work. Basically I was burnt out and couldn’t take teaching anymore. So I left for the time being and I will be going back in a little less than three weeks. I had all these plans for what I was going to do on my time off in terms of my career and I haven’t really done any of them at all. I have gotten back to doing crafting which I haven’t done in a long time. I have done a few sewing and embroidery projects which has kept me busy in the evenings. Something I plan on continuing to do once I go back to work on March 5th as a stress reliever. I have read some finance books and started reading some career ones only to be derailed from different Myers-Briggs surveys. Am I really an ENFP or ENFJ? Or what about ESFP or ESFJ? Does it really make a difference? I would read the characteristics of one of them and decide it didn’t sound like me at all. I think there are many jobs I “could” do, but what do I really want to do? I decided to shelve those books for now and have gone back to reading my Suze Orman ones!

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