Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Anxious, worried, stressed...shall I continue?

So as most of you have heard, I lost my job recently. This came as not too big of a surprise, as I had been sensing that layoffs were imminent and going to happen soon. I just didn't know when.
What I didn't know, was that on the day my grandmother passed away, I would get the call only hours later from my boss telling me that I had to be "let go."
It's a drag hearing those words, knowing that you really didn't do anything to cause you to lose your job.
All I can do now is try and find something, and fast. Luckily I have my severance but still, I am trying to live as if I didn't.
In the long run I'm sure this won't hurt too bad, as I know there are jobs to be had and I know that I will be okay. It will just sting for a while.
I have always been a person who likes to map out my life and think I can keep control of it all.
But lately, I'm feeling a loss of control about a lot of things. I need to stop and take inventory of my life and where I'm at, and sometimes what I discover does not please me very much.
Of course I've been watching a lot (well, not a LOT but some) TV during my time off. A lot of the talk has been about the current financial crisis. That is NOT something a person who is unemployed wants to hear or read about. I know it's reality, but it's like just adding another 3-5 inches on an already snowy ground. I get it. I know times are tough. And there are plenty who have it worse than me. But I can't help just feeling so helpless.
I am lucky to have a spouse, a support system, and all that. But I just feel like a failure most of the time. I think if I only had taken more risks, stop trying to play everything so safe, maybe I'd be in a better place right now. I am the type of person who likes stability, who would stay at one job her whole career if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, times are different and that type of job doesn't really exist. At least I haven't found it yet.
I want to be in a different place right now, but I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I just feel that starting over at age 31 is not at all an ideal situation. And I realize that others are starting over at an even older age. I had this dream and still do of being a mom one day, I just want to have that experience like everyone else. I want to have that ideal life of a family and a work life, and vacations and all that stuff that goes along with a satisfying life. Right now I cannot see that ever happening for me. I see that I must have made wrong turns somewhere along the line, and I did think I had lost focus, but I must have, or this wouldn't be happening. I don't know, maybe I am destined for a different life. Maybe I was meant to just crank out work all my life and never have all those other experiences. I am meant to be chasing the next best thing instead of settling for what I have. Will I ever be fully content? I think I want different things than someone else sometimes, and I'm trying to be vague here but it really hurts when your goals are different than they should be.
Ugh, I'm not sure when I'll get out of this funk either. I try to explain it to people but then they are all going through their crap too, so they can't be expected to understand.
What I need is NOT to be sitting around the house all day, making these self-loathing posts. I need to be bringing in some money and not dwell on the past, but on making the future better.
It will probably just take some time, but I feel as if for now, I'm taking a step back instead of forward...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

31 and still rockin’…

I thought surely one day this would all start to get old to me.
I thought there’s no way I can last 3 days at a music festival- are you kidding me?! Lollapalooza used to be one day, that was enough! But for many, many reasons, I keep coming back for more of this secret that I share with 225,000 other people. What can I say? I love it too much.

For three days in this gorgeous city of Chicago, I get to run around Grant Park and be a kid again. This year was even more special because there were several bands from my youth that I was finally getting to see perform songs that held a lot of meaning for me.

It all started out Friday when we got there in time for the Black Keys set, around 4:30 and saw them until they finished at 5:15. Cat Power then played at the adjoining Playstation stage, but we didn’t stay long for her set. I just feel that some artists lend themselves better to the outdoor, heat-laden summer festival type of events and some are better in the air-conditioned venue with plush seating. Cat Power I’m afraid is one of those people (for me). So, we chose to make our way over to Grizzly Bear on the side Citi stage, and I was pleased with our decision.

We stayed there for about 30 minutes until it was time for Raconteurs. The first time Raconteurs played here 2 years ago, I was up at the front of the stage, having just seen one of my favorite bands, Umphrey’s McGee play on that very same stage. The show was no less rockin', but I was so far back it was more difficult to see this time. As my friend put it, who was with me up front two years ago…”All I can see is Jack White’s pale. That’s enough.” They played all the songs I expected to hear from Broken Boy Soldiers, and some of the new tunes that are great as well. Jack White is a rock star, and I love him.

After a short restroom break and walk over to the south end of the field, we took in some aural Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks (could not see them from our vantage point unfortunately) and it wasn’t until a few days later I learned that part of the Jicks consists of the old Sleater-Kinney drummer, Janet Weiss. Pretty awesome, I did not know that. Soon after, we made our way to Radiohead and found a spot to set up camp. With the help of my friend Joel’s umbrella, we were able to guide some other friends to our spot and had a nice sized group in which to enjoy the show. The opening notes to '15 Step' began and we were off! This show was simply amazing, it’s so hard for me to put into words. I saw them just two months earlier in Paris on this tour, and while it was a very similar show, it was a completely different experience. Radiohead is my favorite band, and no one comes close to making me feel they way they do when I listen to their music. The rest of their setlist is as follows:

1. 15 Step
2. Airbag
3. There There
4. All I Need
5. Nude
6. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
7. The Gloaming
8. The National Anthem
9. Faust Arp
10. No Suprises
11. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
12. Reckoner
13. Lucky
14. The Bends
15. Everything In It's Right Place (fireworks began right about here!)
16. Fake Plastic Trees
17. Bodysnatchers

Encore 1
18. Videotape
19. Paranoid Android
20. Dollars & Cents
21. House Of Cards
22. Optimistic

Encore 2
23. 2+2=5
24. Idioteque

Saturday took us to Lolla around 2:00 due to some slacking off in the AM and sleeping in…We caught the entire Foals set, and were very impressed. They reminded me of a cross between Battles and the Disco Biscuits with the singer from the Cure. Very interesting, and someone I think I would go see again in a smaller venue. After that we caught a little MGMT and they didn’t blow us away immediately, so the choice was made to head over and grab some lawn for Explosions in the Sky. This is instrumental, Mogwai-type music and perfect for lying down in the grass with your shoes off, just taking it all in. I loved it. After Explosions, we caught the rest of DJ Bald Eagle and waited for (a late) Uffie who has sang on Justice’s CD and is a cutie little 20-year-old MC who lives in Paris. I was really looking forward to Uffie but she didn’t show up until close to 6:15-6:20 so there wasn’t much time to waste before Battles on the Citi stage. We caught maybe 2 Uffie songs before we had to scoot. I’ll see her again, I’m sure. DJ Bald Eagle had this rapper with him that totally cracked my shit up more than anyone this weekend with this line “I’m too fat to be a hipster…those skinny jeans don’t come in my size…” so funny. I can relate, I mean the skinny jeans are only meant for the tiny, tiny birds really.
After Uffie was Battles. John Stanier of Tomahawk and Helmet on drums is the main attraction here, and while Battles is pretty good on disc and makes for good driving music, I wasn’t completely 100% into their set. There is a lot of repetition and while good musicianship, it wasn’t something I can say I’d go see again.
After Battles we grabbed a bite to eat and walked back to Toadies before their set ended with 'Tyler', a personal favorite song of mine and my “Cougar” friends back home. (You know who you are). SO many nights ended with this song, all of us just gathered around drinking and singing this song at the top of our lungs. It’s moments like those I will never ever forget! I felt as I looked around me that no one really knew that song, even though they ended with it. But I was in my own little world, so who cares. Up next, Rage Against the Machine!! Another group from my youth that I had never seen before and whose songs really just grab you and don’t let go. While I’m sure by now everyone has heard the reports of the chaos and fury that went down, in my area waaaaay in the back, we were dancing around and singing all these songs with joy. The set was interrupted several times due to audience crushing and too many people squeezed into the front but it was still amazing to finally get to see Zack and co. unleash these songs for me live on stage!

Sunday was more relaxed, and we didn’t make it to the fest until later on, almost early evening due to previous obligations. We still managed to see a little bit of music, starting with Girl Talk at 6:30 on the Citi Stage. Talk about a dance party. Girl Talk (AKA Greg Gillis) is someone you want to be friends with, someone you want at your party. I mean I didn’t see one person (well maybe one guy on the lawn passed out) dancing and getting down to these mashed-up songs, everything from Hall and Oates to Justin Timberlake, to Van Halen, it was all one big mashed up ball of funk and I loved it. I want to see Girl Talk with 50 of my closest friends and THAT will be a good time indeed.

After Girl Talk we walked over to get a good spot for Nine Inch Nails and caught the end of the National, which sounded pretty nice from where I was, and I know we have their CD on the I-Pod but I cannot remember the name of the song I like. After National, pretty much right at 8:15 on the dot, was the other big highlight for me, Nine Inch Nails. Wow. What can I say except pure, utter adrenaline and pure genius. I had never seen NIN before and I was really looking forward to it, especially after their last couple of albums sounded so unique from the earlier stuff and really more glitchy and dancey than before. Their setlist for your reading pleasure:

Letting You
March of the Pigs
The Frail
Gave Up
The Warning
Ghosts 5
Ghosts 30
Ghosts 19
The Greater Good
Terrible Lie
The Big Come Down
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole
In This Twilight

The highlight for me had to be “Terrible Lie”. I have been listening to this band on and off since I was about 14 or 15 years old. My brother had the cassette tape Pretty Hate Machine (among others) and I would go in my room and listen to this music coming out of the stereo that was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It wasn’t like all the metal stuff he liked, it was different. I remember it definitely had an impression on me, and this album especially.
Trent Reznor also deserves mentioning-he looked so much different to me than the Trent I remember from my youth-he looked very muscular and HOT (sorry had to say it) and just healthy-I was glad to see it. No one wants a wimpy rock star. The stage set up was simply gorgeous, all the lights and the set, just made for a really amazing show and last show of the weekend. Overall, while I’m sad I didn’t score the cheapy $60 tickets this time around, I’d say for my first time paying the full price to attend this 3-day Lolla extravaganza, it was well worth it. And while I’ve heard some people say the reason they don’t go is because they can’t stand the crowds, I’d say give it a try, you’d be surprised. It doesn’t feel that crowded when the stages are so spread apart. Sure it’s crowded for the more popular acts, but really, there is so much to see and do, that you never really feel like the crowds are unbearable. And really that is no excuse--if you love music, you’ll do anything and withstand anything for it. I know I will keep coming back for more as long as Perry Ferrell keeps spoiling Chicago with this best event of the summer.

Lollapalooza, see you next year.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ode to my city...

I'm often asked when I go home (back to my hometown) how I like living in Chicago. A family member or friend will ask me, and my answer is usually pretty generic, a simple "I love it!" usually will suffice. It's not something I usually have to convince people of, but sometimes I find myself stopping and thinking, wow, I LIVE here. Sure we have the highest sales tax of any city in the country, and sure we live in pretty close quarters and we don't all have backyards, and sometimes the crime rate can be a bit jarring...but for me, those are all just small annoyances over the joy of getting to live in the most amazing city that I know. It was not that long ago, when I was unemployed a few years back, that I briefly toyed with the idea of moving to L.A. or New York to pursue my career. And while I obviously didn't ultimately choose those places over Chicago, I often wondered if I made the right choice. Now I know I most certainly did.
I was at the Taste of Chicago last week with a friend of mine and I thought, I can go to work, travel a short distance, see some live music, eat some good eats and then just hop on the train back home and be there in less than a half hour. Not a bad gig I'd say. I love love love my neighborhood and everything that comes with it. The farmer's market in the summertime that I can walk to, the parks, the gorgeous homes on the Boulevard, the best restaurant in the city right around the corner, the eclectic people that live in my hood, my amazing church filled with some really giving and generous people and one of the sweetest, most selfless priests I have ever had the pleasure of knowing....I love my friends and how we all somehow ended up in this 'hood, how we are all so close and share a very special bond, I love this city in the summertime and I love it even in the wintertime. I love the many opportunities I've had the pleasure of experiencing since I moved here in October of 2000. I love that my husband loves it here too.
As my aunt Linda said at my sister's wedding, "Well, you've found your niche, and you've found where you belong." You are right Aunt Linda. And while I love going home to visit my family, I know that when I pass over the bridge and see the city skyline take shape, that this is HOME and that I am forever indebted to this city where I belong.

Friday, June 27, 2008


The older I get, I feel the wiser I get when it comes to dealing with people and experiences and just taking it all in-this thing called life. I am really starting to just unwind and breathe in life in a whole different way. I'm not sure what changed in me really, maybe it was after I turned 30, who knows. But I definitely know I'm dealing with a different "me" than the person I used to be. The old me would get so uptight and bitter about the most simple thing, whereas now, I just tend to brush it off, life's too short to be so angry. I am so happy with where I'm at right now. Of course everyone would change something about their life if they could, but since there's so much I have to be thankful for, I am just going with the flow, enjoying all of these different experiences and meeting different kinds of people.
I used to not be such a people person. I denied chances and opportunities to hang out with friends and attend events that people suggested. I wanted to be shut out, I felt it was sometimes good for my well-being to be alone, to be alone in my thoughts. And while I still like to be alone and I have plenty to occupy myself, I just really cherish the opportunity more than ever to be with people. A few people have really changed that in me, for the better.
One is my friend Cara. This is a woman who is so totally about helping the lives of other people, a person who does not think of herself before others, a woman who has countless people she can call "friend" and those people adore her in return. I see how this friend is a good friend to people and I want to be like her. She is great, and so so sweet. Totally comes naturally to those kinds of people.
And then there's Steph. Stephanie is another one of those amazing women who is not afraid to be who she is, and she holds nothing back. She is a friend I've known for a very long time, but every time we hang out, the bond gets stronger. We've been through loads of things together and while our lives are quite different these days, they are not that far off...she teaches me something new every time I am with her. This is another person who has taught me a lot about friendship, patience and strength. I am blessed to have her in my life.

The older I get, the more I really truly appreciate friendship and the company of women who you can not only call friend but sister as well.

Cheers to having great people in your life, it's friends that really hold you together when it counts!!


Monday, February 18, 2008

What gives?


Where do I begin...seems like I haven't written in ages, and so much has happened.

Well, my mind's in a weird place right now. I don't know, I guess I've been doing some thinking and especially since after my birthday, I've come to some recent conclusions about a lot of things.

I used to be the sort of person where it didn't matter if I didn't see or talk to anyone over a weekend, because I was so busy with my own plans, that I knew sooner or later I'd see the people I care about, and we'd catch up, and all that good stuff. There were a lot of chances in which to catch up to people, something fun to do every other day it seemed. So I never felt the need to really reach out and try to initiate anything with anyone.

But these days I don't get out as much. These days I can't really afford to, since I have this big mortgage and what not. But that's okay, I don't mind having the mortgage, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on activities I could be doing. I've seen tons and tons of bands, many of them several times, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on something I should be doing.
HOWEVER, what really sucks is this whole missing out on people feeling.
I feel like I've really been putting myself out there a lot lately to reach out to certain people, to no avail. People I care about, who are dear to me. It's like they just don't have the time for us anymore? I know things change and we get older and we get busy, but really. I mean, it's the winter time, when things should be a little slower, and we take more time to get from point A to point B...sure it's messier out and it's harder to get around, but I'm just so sick of reaching out to people and getting nothing in return.
I feel lately that everyone's just forgotten about me.
It's hard to say some of this without coming across as sounding selfish. I don't NEED these people's constant attention but it would help if from time to time, a response was given or it felt like an equal friendship.
There's a certain someone or someone (plural) who comes to mind who myself or Matt has tried to reach out to on several occasions only to end up with complete silence on their end.
Several invitations to come over, to hang out, etc. have been extended, and nothing, not even a thank you but no thank you, has been offered. Granted, I know people are busy and I can't expect them to just drop everything for me, but just a couple of words would be nice. Especially because I can count the number of occasions we've been there for these people, for an occasion we've been invited to, or a celebration of some sort.
It just hurts. I can't say anything to anyone's face either, I'm not like that. I just sit and stew in my whatever you want to call it.

Anyway, I digress...I don't know what the deal is lately, but I'm just not feeling completely 100% happy with my situation and I constantly turn around in my head wondering if I've done something to push these people away. I try to be a good person. But maybe what I've been doing is not enough.