Posts From April 2014

Throwback Thursday, '90s Sacramento pop edition

Been browsing through SN&R archives recently and came across this, my very first story published in the paper.

It was February 1994 and I was in my second-to-last semester at Sac State. It was spring and I was interning at SN&R back when their offices were on 21st and V streets.

I spent many an afternoon there in this tiny, no-window dungeon of a room doing filing and other mundane tasks.

You know, the usual intern routine.

But I also got to leave the room and go out and do fun things like go to shows and interview bands.

I'd written about local music before for The Hornet and also for this makeshift "alternative" campus paper that I edited called The Missing Link. I probably have copies of that somewhere. I'd probably be embarrassed to see it now. But anyway, point is I'd already written about bands like Cake and Papa's Culture and Moist and Phallucy (I'll have to write about that interview sometime because it really shaped who I am as a reporter in many ways) and now I was excited to write about local music for a paper with a much bigger circulation.

I'd seen Daisy Spot play somewhere (I don't think it was the Cattle Club, I remember it being a smaller, more intimate venue) and pitched the story to my editor. He agreed and I got in touch with the band. I'm not sure how I did this in the pre-Facebook era. Probably Jerry Perry helped me or something. Back then Jerry Perry was always helping me out.

Anyway, the interview took place at Tatiana's downtown apartment--I think she lived there with her parents at the time. She and Mike were really nice and patient with what were probably my very amateur questions.

Seeing that story in print with my byline a few weeks later was the highlight of my baby writing career at that point. Twenty years later it still remains a highlight. I found such joy in going to shows, hearing awesome music and then getting to write about it.

I don't write as much about music these days, at least not as much as I'd like to. I certainly don't get out to as many shows, not for a lack of wanting though. To this day there are still not many things that make me much happier than hearing awesome music and then getting to write about it.



I'm so glad I'm not dead (Saturday afternoon jam, April 5 edition)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. It seems as though anyone who ever cared about Nirvana has already written about what that meant--for the era, for the music, for anything and everything.

I was a Nirvana fan, too. Still am. But today I'd rather remember the way his music made me feel, as recounted through the prism of a Juliana Hatfield song.

In 1992 I bought Juliana Hatfield's solo EP Forever Baby on cassette. I listened to that damn thing in the car over and over and over. I remember driving around Midtown in my 1981 green Honda Civic hatchback. It didn't have air conditioning, but it had a tape deck so all was good.

I think it was my first or second semester at Sac State and I was living with my boyfriend in an apartment at 17th and P streets. A second-floor, two-bedroom that overlooked a courtyard with a pool. I had two cats, a full class load and a full-time job.

I was always really busy and kind of overwhelmed and always, always fighting with the boyfriend.

I was also, I remember, very very lonely. Four years removed from high school and three years deep into that shithole of a relationship, I didn't really have anyone at that point in my life that I considered my best friend. No real trusted confidant. Music was pretty much it. My therapy, my therapist. I played certain tapes in that car loudly and repeatedly.

Nirvana's Nevermind was released in 1991 and by 1992 "Smells LIke Teen Spirit" was a massive hit. Not only did it mark a cultural shift in popular music and popular culture, it just hit the target completely on what it meant to be young and confused. What 20something didn't have the lyrics "I feel stupid and contagious" looping continuously through his or her head that year? Just me? OK, whatever. I had it though and that's the point. Those words were there, like a salve.

Hatfield's song "Nirvana" perfectly captured that song's particular therapy and just as I listened to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" constantly, I also endlessly listened to Hatfield's caterwaul of a tribute.

Play, rewind, play, rewind, play, rewind. Sing, sing louder.

"Now, here comes the song I love so much
Makes me wanna go fuck shit up
Now, I got Nirvana in my head
I'm so glad I'm not dead

I slam my hand in the car door
I scream 'till I could scream no more
Bloody and mean and rotten to the core ....

You try to get off the ground
But you always end up coming down
When the sound comes around and goes in your ears
You can do anything you have no fears
When that sound comes around and goes in my ears
I can do anything I have no fears"

Without it, without Nirvana, without countless other songs, I don't know where I'd be today.

Kurt Cobain couldn't escape the demons but his music remains, helping others climb out of their own seemingly bottomless pits of darkness.

There's a certain sad beauty and joy in that.


Going off the grid

Going off the grid for a few days. Camping. Far away. Unplugging, unwinding, recharging. 

Isn't it funny the way we talk about thing like that? You have to unplug to recharge? All those gadgets that require an energy source that's either solar-powered or stuck into the wall.

But for us, the only real way to find energy anew is to yank all the cords.

So anyway, life's been super hectic lately but now we're on the eve of Spring Break and even though I only get the full week off from one job, I can at least take an extended weekend, remind myself of what's important--all while hanging out with good friends, drinking whiskey and. come sundown, staring at the stars.


Anxiety, three ways

The Halloween show was last night--a million bands stretching into the night, hundreds of people crammed into what once seemed like a generous space until the room was filled with a palpable, heated force field of body odor and sweat.

So yeah, it was a lot of fun. There was beer and there were friends and there was awesome music. My favorites were TLC (not just for obvious reasons of bias--the ladies killed it on this one), Queen, Beach Boys, B-52s, Gram Parsons and Stereolab.

I'm probably leaving out a few other favorites but lots of beer was consumed and even though most of it was Pabst and Miller High Life, that still has noticeable impact on the memory portion of the brain cells.

Fun, but also an excuse for my anxiety to come out to play. Because: Lots and lots of people + social setting = ugh.

It's weird, really. For my job--both of them--I am forced to be a social, un-weirdo. I must be outgoing, I must initiate conversations, I must act normal. And I think that, for the most part, I do. I feel comfortable, mostly, doing interviews with complete strangers. I feel comfortable, mostly, speaking in front of a class. Although maybe the more important point here is by "mostly" I mean that there is always the moment before the interview starts or before I start the class that I feel nervous, scared, dreading everything. And then I take a deep breath and push forward.

When it comes to personal social situations, however, it is not necessarily that easy.

Rather, I'm pretty damn good at talking myself out of going out because I. Just. Cannot. Deal.

I hate that about myself. I hate that i get nervous and tongue-tied and that I worry about what other people think of me and how I look--and well, you get it. Put me in certain social situations and I suddenly turn into an awkward 8th grader with zero confidence. An awkward 8th grader who'd rather just stay home and read or watch Parks and Rec while drinking a whiskey on the rocks.

But I can't do that. At least not all the time. I'm not quite ready to descend fully into crazy cat lady mode. I want to give it all the old college try so I push myself out there. Besides, sometimes anxiety just feels so damn self-indulgent, narcissistic and futile. (Stop swearing at me Internet, I know anxiety isn't those things. I'm just saying that sometimes it makes me feel stupid. And silly. Hey vicious circle, how ya been?)

Recently at a party I found myself slipping into a black hole of self-doubt

The night was in full swing and I'd been doing OK but suddenly I found myself standing alone and with that came feelings of self-doubt and shitty thoughts: No one likes me. I'm stupid. This is horrible. How did I even end up here?

As the feelings crept around me like a suffocating ether, I made my way to the bathroom and sat down on the edge of the tub.

Somehow--the anti-depressants maybe?--I decided I had three choices:

  • Get the fuck outta dodge and go home already
  • Drink another drink and, thus, drink myself into having more fun
  • Allow myself to wallow, briefly, and then carry the fuck on already

I chose the third option. 

You can sit here for two minutes, I told myself. And you can feel all the feelings and then you have to get up and go back out there and talk to someone.

And so I did. I sat there and felt stupid feelings and thought stupid, irrational thoughts. And then I stood up and looked in the mirror and took a couple of deep breaths and then rejoined the party.

I did not get another drink--well not right away anyway--but rather I walked up to a small group of people and the people in the group seemed genuinely glad to see me and I felt my heart swell just a bit and, also, a sense of relief wash over me. (And for the record, there have been points in my life for which the above remedies--all of them--are completely ineffective. And so, yes, I have prescription for Xanax but I haven't taken one of those pills in about two years. So I count myself lucky there for the time being. But sometimes it's the only real, if temporary, fix. Right now I'm at a point in which I'm exploring other paths to not freaking out).

God help me it's not always that easy of course. Sometimes option one is the premier option of choice. Sometimes it's option two--I am a very social drinker. Give me a few drinks and I'm the friendliest, most chill person in the room. Which, of course, is likely not true but that's what my drunken brain likes to tell me.

But back to last night at the Halloween show. The same darkness, the same options. It didn't help that some of my serious anxiety triggers were especially sharp. You know what sucks? Trying to have a conversation with someone and having that person act as if you are the nerdiest three-headed monster idiot from outerspace. I'm pretty sure I wasn't imagining that. OK, maybe a little? Who knows. Whatever.

I wish I could tell you I whole-heartedly chose option three again. Instead, I worked on a mash-up of all three choices. Hiding in plain sight in the back room, grabbing another watery Pabst and trying, in earnest, to think my way through the thoughts.

It's a process, I guess.  A life-long one. I've always felt more than a little bit like Allison Reynolds before the makeover and Judd Nelson. And here's a mind-blowing truth: All the makeovers in the world wouldn't make Ally Sheedy's character suddenly feel "normal." Just wait until they finally make the sequel--you'll see. Again, it's  process. One that is lifelong.

Anyway, consider this a PSA of sorts. Next time you see me out in a crowded room looking like a deer caught in headlights, sulking alone or throwing back another drink, just know what's likely going through my head--but don't feed my inner trolls, OK please? Be kind, rewind. Or something like that.