Rock Star of the Week: Chris Motionless


Last night I began thinking that it would be fun to start a blog series about my favorite rock stars.  I’ve been working on a post on this topic for ages now, but I’ve realized that such a post would be more like a novel.  So what better way to break it up a bit than creating a series of posts about all my favorites?  These will be appearing in no particular order.

*Warning: I do not censor my favorite rock stars, so yes, there will be swearing (duh).chris motionless

This week I’m going to initiate the series with Chris Cerulli, otherwise known by his stage name Chris Motionless, the lead singer of Motionless in White (MIW) out of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  If you’re not familiar with MIW, their music could be described in various ways from heavy to gothic to horror metal & probably a lot more.  They’re exactly the kind of band that ten years ago I could never have imagined myself enjoying.  But they’re also a band whose music I fell in love with immediately upon discovering it.  You can read all about that here.

MIW reincarnate

Chris (seated) with his bandmates from Motionless in White

I’ve actually written a bit about Chris on this blog before because he is just such a unique individual in so many ways.  When I first discovered him & his band, I immediately felt a powerful connection because of my love for people who break stereotypes.  Chris is a man who is covered in tattoos & piercings & is never seen wearing anything other than black.  (There might be other colors involved, but the greater part of any outfit of his will always be black.)  He is also famous for his extreme use of makeup including his lust-worthy eyebrows.  Not going to lie, I never thought I’d say a man looked good in makeup, but Chris Motionless taught me otherwise.  See the picture below if you don’t believe me. chris motionless 2Basically, in appearance Chris is much like a younger, more modern version of Marilyn Manson.  And just like Manson, there is so much more to Chris than what many would initially assume based on appearance alone.  A lot of folks would assume someone who looks like Chris would be a devil-worshipper or at least a drug user or alcoholic.  As it turns out, Chris is none of those things.  In fact he’s very well known in the rock/metal community for his “straight edge” ways.  In other words, he does not drink, smoke, or participate in promiscuous sex.  If you find any of that hard to believe check out this interview.

Motionless-In-White-6

Is this jacket epic or what?!

What I love best about Chris’s choice to live this way is that he doesn’t push it on other people (some of his own bandmates do smoke & drink), & he hasn’t chosen this lifestyle because of any religious affiliation.  He has chosen it simply because he thinks it’s the best way for him to live: “I think alcohol, and getting high, and all that shit, is retarded . . . I’ve never really had any interest. Like… You know how some people are even curious to see? You know – “I don’t drink, but I wanna know what it’s like to be drunk” or “I wanna see what it’s like to be high even once.” It just doesn’t have any interest to me at all. It just doesn’t make me feel like I wanna know. I think that shit’s disgusting . . .  if I’m with somebody, then it’s a monogamous relationship . . . I’m not a playboy, for lack of a better word. I have a little self-respect.”  See the link in the previous paragraph for the full interview from which these quotes are taken.  chris cerulli

Despite writing & performing what many would describe as very dark music, Chris is also well known as an extremely polite individual with a propensity for kindness & having a great smile.  “. . . the MIW frontman has a fearsome onstage persona that’s somewhat at odds with his friendly and well-spoken offstage self. “I don’t want to be an aggressive and intimidating person to people in real life,” he explains. “That’s why my stage character has a different name than me [Chris Cerulli]—it’s a good way to let that part of my personality shine. It’s a big reason why I love to play live, having that outlet . . . There’s a lot of anger inside of me, and I certainly don’t have to convince myself to be pissed off.”  (See this interview for more, which includes Chris talking about how his parents have always supported him despite not being too fond of his general appearance.)  Despite the fact that I don’t have any tattoos or piercings (outside of earrings), nor do I dress in all black or wear heavy makeup, I can strongly relate to Chris on this subject because while I am known as a very kind, polite person, there is a lot more to me than might initially meet the eye.  Which is probably why people are often so shocked to discover that I like such “hard, dark” music.  I’m not saying I’m a deeply angry or bitter person on the inside.  Not at all.  But I’m not some “happy-go-lucky I love everyone all the time” angel either.Chris-Motionless

Chris is also a big promoter of self-respect & personal responsibility & has openly decried fans who try to credit him with saving their lives: “NO. I did not save your life. NO.. band X, Y or Z did not save your life. IF in fact you were on the brink of any self harming action… it was YOU who pulled yourself from the ledge. You saved your life, You are the hero. Why are people not willing to take credit for their own actions? . . . MIW’s main message has always been about not giving a fuck what people thought and encouraging you to do the same.”  (You can read Chris’s full blog post on that matter here.)  chris motionless quote

Furthermore, MIW’s latest song from their forthcoming fourth album is all about how the band has achieved the success they have today through sheer hard work & determination.  Check out the music video here.  With lyrics like these, you’d be hard-pressed not to find this song inspirational:  “I’ve been to hell & back, with no promise of return/So I made friends with fire to keep from getting burned/No money, no sleep, dedication/10 years on the road, this is sacred/And when I’m facing a wall, I do not quit/Cause if you mean it, you will make it/Pulled apart in a world so demanding/I’m still here, still standing/I’ve sweat blood from Stockholm to Scranton/Still here, still standing . . . If you mean it, you will make it!”  (If you’re curious about the song’s title 570, it’s the area code of the band’s hometown Scranton, PA; hence the lyric about Scranton in the song.)chris miw

I hope that reading all of this will inspire you to check out Chris’s band if you aren’t already familiar with them.  To start you off, here are some links to a few of my favorite MIW songs:

  • Reincarnate: the first song I ever heard from MIW & the one that made me immediately fall in love with the band
  • America: a scathing discourse on the hypocrisy of this country
  • Break the Cycle: an empowering song about how we can all be our own worst enemy & overcoming self-doubt

Grammar Nerd Alert: My Favorite English Words


As some of you already know, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi . . . er, nerd, that is.  If you’re ever driven down Leesville Rd with me in Raleigh, you’ll know that I can’t help but point out how irritating it is to me to see the sign for “Russling Leaf Lane.”  Every time I see it I want to scream “How could you not know that it’s supposed to be RUSTLING?!”  Ahhh!!  There’s also a new sign outside of the gas station near our house that says “closed for rennovations.”  Seriously, a double n at the beginning of the word?  I understand the occasional typo in an email or blog post, but it boggles my mind that something could make it to an actual road sign or official poster for a business without someone having noticed these errors.  Hello, spell-check exists for a reason, folks!

3-signs-grammar-nerd

May I add another? You truly want to cry when you realize you’ve actually posted something with a typo or grammatical error in it.

All that being said, I’ll also be the first to admit that I say ain’t a little more than I really ought, but at least that’s kind of a real word . . . Anyway, today I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite English words.  Just to be clear, no, I am not one of those annoying people who intentionally tries to use “big” words to dazzle my listeners by making myself sound intelligent, but certain words have just become so commonplace to me that I sometimes forget not everyone reads as much as I do & doesn’t always know these words.  If you read a lot like I do, you too probably relish the joy of learning new words on a continual basis.  For my fellow grammar nerds, you might want to keep checking this post over the next week or two because I’m sure I’ll forget a few words & feel compelled to come back & add them.

grammar insult

Amen!!

  • Pernicious:  having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way
  • Proclivity: a tendency to choose or do something regularly; an inclination or predisposition toward a particular thing
  • Predilection (very similar to the previous word): a preference or special liking for something; a bias in favor of something
  • Atavistic: relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral
  • Germane: relevant to a subject under consideration
  • Allocate: distribute (resources or duties) for a particular purpose
  • Ostensible: stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so
  • Ostentatious: characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice
  • Conspicuous: standing out so as to be clearly visible
  • Ebullient: cheerful & full of energygrammar nerd signs
  • Egregious: outstandingly bad; shocking
  • Astute: having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people & turn this to one’s advantage
  • Sagacious (very similar to the previous word): having or showing keen mental discernment & good judgment; shrewd
  • Adroit: clever or skillful in using the hands or mind
  • Sporadic: occurring at irregular intervals or only in a few places; scattered or isolated
  • Acquiesce: accept something reluctantly but without protest
  • Intransigent: unwilling or refusing to change one’s views or to agree about something
  • Requisite: made necessary by particular circumstances or regulations
  • Sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage
  • Obstinate: stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do socommas
  • Deleterious: causing harm or damage
  • Derelict: in a very poor condition as a result of disuse & neglect
  • Disheveled: (of a person’s hair, clothes, or appearance) untidy; disordered
  • Dastardly: wicked & cruel
  • Impeccable: (of behavior, performance, or appearance) in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless
  • Immaculate: especially of a person or their clothes) perfectly clean, neat, or tidy; free from flaws or mistakes; perfect
  • Pertinent: relevant or applicable to a particular matter; apposite
  • Singular: exceptionally good or great; remarkable
  • Indefatigable: (of a person or their efforts) persisting tirelessly
  • Opulent: ostentatiously rich & luxurious or lavishgrammar hideous
  • Grandiose: impressive or magnificent in appearance or style, especially pretentiously so
  • Pretentious: attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc, than is actually possessed
  • Genteel: polite, refined, or respectable, often in an affected or ostentatious way
  • Crux: the decisive or most important point at issue
  • Gingerly: in a careful or cautious manner
  • Incessant: (of something regarded as unpleasant) continuing without pause or interruption
  • Solicitous: characterized by or showing interest or concern
  • Calamitous: catastrophic; disastrous
  • Cacophony: a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds
  • Vicarious: experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person
  • Vivacious: attractively lively & animated

Just to be clear, I’m not one of those judgmental fools who holds everyone to as high of a standard as I hold myself.  For example, the pastor at my aunt’s funeral yesterday definitely didn’t have the best grammar.  He also had a pretty thick Southern/country accent.  Yet I found myself absolutely loving the way he talked.  The crux of the matter is I just can’t stand it when people use incorrect grammar in actual writing or publications.  That’s what is truly intolerable to me.  And yes, writing does include texting.  If you don’t want me to think (slightly) less of you, don’t text me using “u” or other such grammatical atrocities.  Also be sure to use actual punctuation, please.  Run on sentences with no commas or periods are truly painful.

Fellow grammar nerds, please feel free to comment with your own favorite words!grammar nerd mug

Alas, I am not so secretly scared that I’m going to discover a typo/grammatical error in this post!  Haha!!

10 Pop Songs I Actually Like


If you know me in real life or are at all familiar with this blog, then you probably know that I generally dislike pop music & strongly prefer rock & metal, with a good dose of classical & occasional selected country on the side.  But the truth is there actually are a few pop songs I genuinely like, not just because they have a catchy tune or fun beat but because I believe they are truly well-written songs with actual meaning.  So today I thought it would be fun to share some of these songs with y’all as a means of showing I’m not a total old fart.  Haha!

pop music sucks

Most modern pop music is total crap.  Call Me Maybe was nominated for a Grammy.  Maybe it even won.  Need I say more?

  • All Too Well by Taylor Swift: I owe my knowledge of this song to a friend from high school.  I honestly think it’s the best song Taylor Swift has ever recorded because it is just so well-written.  My favorite lyrics are the following:
    • “Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much
      And maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up
      Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well
    • Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise
      So casually cruel in the name of being honest
      I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
      ‘Cause I remember it all, all, all too well
    • Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it
      I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it”taylor swift
  • Alright, one more Taylor Swift song.  I swear if she’d kept writing songs like the aforementioned one & Back to December I’d have so much more respect for her.  Instead she’s drifted off into total idiotic crap like Shake It Off & We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together . . . Anyway my favorite lyrics from this one are these:
    • “So this is me swallowing my pride
      Standing in front of you saying I’m sorry for that night
      And I go back to December all the time
      It turns out freedom ain’t nothing but missing you
      Wishing I’d realized what I had when you were mine
      I’d go back to December, turn around & make it all right
      I go back to December all the time”pink
  • You & Your Hand by P!nk (I refuse to use the incomplete spellings of you & your like the actual title uses): The first time I heard this song I thought it was gross.  But as I got a little older I realized it is the perfect response to every man (& I use that term loosely) who has ever treated me in one way or another like a piece of meat (aka purely as a sexual object).  To all the creepy dudes out there who leer at us ladies in public, whistle as we walk by, or make disturbing comments to us, this song is the response of every self-respecting woman:
    • “I’m not here for your entertainment
      You don’t really want to mess with me tonight
      Just stop & take a second
      I was fine before you walked into my life
      Cause you know it’s over
      Before it began
      Keep your drink, just give me the money
      It’s just you & your hand tonight”pink stupid girls
  • Stupid Girls: Ok, one more by P!nk.  I’ve actually written about this song on here before, but it’s such a well-written song that has only become more relevant as time goes by so I feel compelled to share it again.  As talentless women like Kim Kardashian continue to receive loads of media attention these lyrics become more & more germane:
    • “What happened to the dream of a girl president?
      She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
      They travel in packs of two or three
      With their itsy-bitsy doggies & their teeny-weeny tees
    • Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?
      Oh where, oh where could they be?
    • I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in
      That will never be me
      Outcasts & girls with ambition
      That’s what I wanna see”avril lavigne
  • My Happy Ending by Avril Lavigne: Ok, maybe this isn’t the most well-written song ever, but I just can’t help but love it.  Whether it was an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend or someone we admired & respected who turned out to be less than worthy of our devotion, I think we can all relate to the feeling of being disappointed by finding out that someone isn’t the person we thought they were.
    • “You were everything, everything that I wanted
      We were meant to be, supposed to be, but we lost it
      And all of the memories, so close to me, just fade away
      All this time you were pretending
      So much for my happy ending
    • It’s nice to know that you were there
      Thanks for acting like you cared
      And making me feel like I was the only one
      It’s nice to know we had it all
      Thanks for watching as I fall
      And letting me know we were done”bruno mars
  • When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars: When Bruno Mars first became popular I figured he was just another Justin Beiber type, but once I heard this song I realized there was a lot more to Bruno Mars, or at least some of his songs, than I initially thought.  For one thing, he actually plays the piano on this one!
    • “Although it hurts
      I’ll be the first to say that I was wrong
      Oh, I know I’m probably much too late
      To try & apologize for my mistakes
      But I just want you to know
    • I hope he buys you flowers
      I hope he holds your hand
      Give you all his hours
      When he has the chance
      Take you to every party
      ‘Cause I remember how much you loved to dance
      Do all the things I should have done
      When I was your man”

      Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

      Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

       

  • Speechless by Lady Gaga: I could actually list quite a few Lady Gaga songs that I really like.  She is really the only mainstream pop start whom I truly admire.  Even if you find her admittedly ridiculous costumes & rather shocking stage presence a bit offensive or silly, you’d be very remiss to deny her talent as a singer & musician.  If I had to pick a favorite song of hers, it would have to be this one because it showcases her stunning voice so incredibly well.  Plus, she plays the piano on this song.
    • And I know that it’s complicated
      But I’m a loser in love
      So baby raise a glass to mend
      All the broken hearts
      Of all my wrecked up friends
    • I’ll never talk again
      Oh boy, you’ve left me speechless
      You’ve left me speechless, so speechless
    • And I’ll never love again,
      Oh friend, you’ve left me speechless
      You’ve left me speechless, so speechless”paramore
  • Misery Business by Paramore: To be fair, I guess this really is a rock song but it definitely has a more pop vibe & not surprisingly was very popular even on Top 40 type radio stations when it debuted in 2007.  I’ll be the first to admit that this is really a pretty shallow song, but at the same time I can’t help but love it.  Definitely a guilty pleasure!christina perri
  • Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri: I remember when this song came out when I was in college & I immediately fell in love with it, largely because of Christina Perri’s gorgeous voice but also because of the beautiful instrumentation of the song.  I love the message of self-empowerment the song gives as well:
    • And it took so long just to feel alright
      Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
      I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
      ‘Cause you broke all your promises
      And now you’re back
      You don’t get to get me back
    • And who do you think you are?
      Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
      Collecting your jar of hearts
      And tearing love apart
      You’re gonna catch a cold
      From the ice inside your soul
      So don’t come back for me
      Don’t come back at all”

      MTV TRL Presents Estelle, Kid Sister & Teyana Taylor

      (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

  • King of Anything by Sara Bareilles: This is another song I fell in love with on first listen.  The song seems to be written about a boyfriend (or potential suitor anyway) who attempts to boss the singer around, but I think the listener can extrapolate the song to be about anyone who tries to boss us around in life, particularly those who really have no right whatsoever to do so.  As someone who’s always been a bit distrustful of authority while also somehow being a natural people-pleaser, the lyrics of this strong resonate very strongly with me:
    • “You’ve got opinions, man
      We’re all entitled to ’em, but I never asked
      So let me thank you for your time,
      And try not to waste anymore of mine
      And get out of here fast
    • I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
      There’s no one here to save
    • Who cares if you disagree?
      You are not me
      Who made you king of anything?
      So you dare tell me who to be?
      Who died & made you king of anything?
    • All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
      While I just hurt & hide
      Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide”

If you haven’t noticed, one reason I actually like these songs as opposed to the modern prototypical pop song is that they aren’t just songs about partying & drinking.  They actually tell a story or have a deeper meaning than simply “Let’s party it up tonight & get wasted.”  I’m sorry, but that kind of crap isn’t real music in my book.  See the below quote from Corey Taylor for an explanation why.

corey taylor quote

In case you’re wondering why  most pop music makes me angry, this quote explains it.

 

 

Happy Blogiversary/My Pregnancy Journey (So Far)


I was just sitting down to compose a blog post about my pregnancy journey to date when WordPress so kindly sent me a notification that today is the three year anniversary of my blog . . . or my blogiversary as I’m choosing to call it.  (Did I make up that word?  I doubt it but I’m not sure it’s a “real” word either.  Whatever, it works.)  So I’ll begin this post by congratulating myself on three years of blogging!  As I’ve written many times before, this blog, more than anything else, is an outlet for me to make sense of my own life & to mitigate my own anxiety issues.  As it turns out, I’m very pleased to report that I’ve received quite a few messages/comments over the past few years from friends & strangers alike telling me how much my blog posts have helped & encouraged them.  That is a truly unique feeling that reminds me over & over again that even my most difficult posts are worth sharing because I never know who else they might help.blogiversary

Now on to the original purpose of the post.  Today marks 20 weeks of my pregnancy which means I’ve officially hit the halfway mark!  Thus I figured this would be a good time to share my pregnancy journey so far, mostly for my own sake since I know I’ll never have time to do this once the baby is born.  But I also figured it would be fun to share with other moms & pregnant ladies (or those who hope to be pregnant soon) who can then share their own stories.  pregnancy superpower

If you don’t know me personally, let me preface this by saying that for years I said I was never having kids, & at the time I really, really meant it.  I was just never one of those women who imagined herself as a mom.  I’ve never spent a lot of time with young children or babies, & frankly I never much cared to.  In the back of my mind I knew I’d probably change my mind some day (as my husband frequently told me I would), but I was so focused on school & my nursing career & just enjoying being a young 20-something that for years I couldn’t imagine ever wanting a child.

childless-by-choice-260x182

I felt this way for a long time & I still think it’s perfectly ok to feel this way.  Not everyone HAS to be a parent.

Well, over the past two years things changed, & by last summer I knew I was ready to start trying for a baby sooner rather than later.  I ended up having my IUD removed at the end of January of this year.  Yes, I became one of those annoying women who takes a pregnancy test every single week, sometimes more than once, because over & over again I was sure I might be pregnant only to find out I wasn’t.  I NEVER thought I’d cry over a negative pregnancy test, but I did (more than once).  By the end of March I forced myself to take only one a week to avoid further disappointment.  Logically I knew it wasn’t realistic to expect it to happen so quickly, but hormones don’t always listen to logic (ha!!).  pregnancy hormones cartoon

Anyway, I got the positive test on Sunday morning, April 10 after I came home from work.  Fortunately I was able to get into the midwife’s office the very next day to have the pregnancy confirmed.  I was so excited to call my parents & to tell my closest friends!  I know a lot of people wait several more weeks “to be sure,” but I was way too excited to keep it a secret from my closest friends & family.  I had my first ultrasound on May 6 & afterward we immediately drove to VA to share the news with our entire families.  Hearing the heartbeat for the first time was truly an incredible experience.  What amazed me even more was that we could actually SEE the heart beating.  I didn’t realize you could do that so early in the pregnancy.  The ultrasound finally gave us a due date (Dec 13), which meant I was 8.5 weeks at that time.  I know that is pretty early to share the news, but the way I saw it was if I did have a miscarriage I’d rather people knew about it so they could grieve with me rather than having to grieve on my own with people wondering why the heck I was such an emotional disaster.  Plus statistically speaking the odds of miscarriage once you’ve had a normal ultrasound at 8 weeks are actually very low.pregnancy boob cartoon

As far as pregnancy signs & symptoms, the very first thing I noticed, before I even had the positive pregnancy test, was waking up hot in the middle of the night.  I wasn’t actually soaked in sweat but I was hot enough that I’d throw off the covers & lay there wondering what was wrong with me.  Soon thereafter I started noticing breast tenderness (woohoo!).  Around 8 weeks is when the nausea (& fatigue) started kicking in, which was when I found out that morning sickness is a huge misnomer.  Compared to a lot of women I probably had it easy because I only actually got sick a few times.  But I had such high hopes that I’d miss out on that lovely “side effect” of pregnancy because my mom swears she never felt sick with me or my sister, so I was really disappointed when I turned out not to be so lucky.  Over the weeks I learned how to handle it better though.  The biggest thing that helped me (which was often hard to do at work) was eating frequent small meals/snacks, even if it was something as simple as a few saltines or some applesauce.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat any meat or good protein for a solid month, which I hated, but bland carbs were about all I could tolerate most days.  I also learned that water with lime or lemon juice in it is very helpful, as are Preggie Pop Drops & Gin-Gins (both hard candies).  The latter were both great options for driving or for work (where I tend to encounter some not so pleasant body odors).  pregnancy cartoon

In week 13 I had the bad luck to catch a GI virus that landed me in the ER getting 2L of IVF & some Phenergan.  That was pretty horrible, especially since I thought I’d gotten to the point when I should have been feeling better.  As it turned out, I hit week 14 & I swear the nausea magically melted away.  People had told me that would happen, but I didn’t believe them.  It just sounded too good to be true.  Not only did my nausea resolve itself, but my energy level returned to (almost) normal).  I could go to the gym more than once a week & not feel like I was dying.  It was AMAZING.  Since then the only annoying symptoms I’ve had to deal with are intermittent acid reflux & occasional low back pain.  Sleeping with my Snoogle has helped immensely with easing (& probably preventing) the back pain.  I’m so thankful a high school friend of mine told me about this pillow.  It is worth every penny, & I’m quite sure I’ll be using “my anaconda pillow” (as my husband calls it) long after I’m pregnant (probably forever).  I do notice that I’m more short of breath with exertion (like going up 2-3 flights of stairs) these days, but I’m still able to work out without any real difficulty.  I take longer breaks between sets at the gym, & I’ve switched from the treadmill to the elliptical since it’s a bit “gentler.”  Whatever I’m doing, I try not to let my heart rate get > 150 so I can ensure the baby is still getting plenty of oxygen.  (No, I do not have a Fitbit so I am definitely that weirdo standing in front of the clock counting my carotid pulse.  Hey, it’s free & it works!)baby banana

Over the past few weeks people have been asking me if I’ve felt the baby move.  I hadn’t felt anything until a few days ago so for a few weeks I was having a lot of anxiety over that.  The midwife reassured me at my appointment last week that it is perfectly normal, especially for a first-time mom, not to feel anything definite till 21 weeks, but naturally I was still worried.  As it turns out, when I was at work on Sunday night around 0300 (so actually Monday morning), the baby “woke up” & suddenly I was sure that what I was feeling was NOT just gas or my stomach gurgling.  It felt like he or she was doing somersaults in there!  I would not call it a fluttering feeling as so many women say it is, but it’s a great feeling nonetheless.  When I got in bed Monday morning I could feel the baby kicking (or doing something) when I put my hand on my abdomen.  SO COOL!  Now I can’t wait for my husband to be able to feel it soon.boy or girl

I’ll have my anatomical ultrasound this coming Monday, so in less than a week we’ll know if we’re having a girl or a boy.  I can’t lie, I am really hoping for a girl.  I know in the end I’ll be pleased no matter what, but there is a part of me that just really wants a daughter.  Maybe it’s partly because I want to be able to prove everyone wrong who’s told me how much harder girls are.  Or maybe it’s because I don’t have a brother so I don’t feel like I have much experience with or understanding of little boys.  I’m certainly not a girly-girl so I don’t want a girl so I can dress her up in frilly dresses (I don’t even like pink & especially not baby pink).  I think it’s more that I have this idea that if I have a daughter she’s more likely to stay close to me as an adult.  I know it’s not always true, but in general I feel like mothers & daughters stay closer over the years (with the exception of adolescence usually) than mothers & sons.  I think perhaps that is the biggest reason I am hoping for a girl.baby names

Well, I think I hit all the highlights.  Pregnancy is definitely an interesting journey with unique highs & lows, but I know it will all be worth it.  Now that I physically feel so much better I do have a bit more anxiety about labor & breastfeeding & just being a mom in general, but I’m trying to take things one day at a time & remind myself that I’ve already accomplished a lot of things in life that I never thought I could do, so I can handle this too.  Plus I have to think that being a night shift nurse who is used to chronic sleep deprivation & generally odd sleeping patterns will help me be slightly more prepared than the average woman.

Ladies, please feel free to comment with your own pregnancy stories!

Maintaining Peace of Mind in a Violent World


Well, you don’t even need to watch the news or read a newspaper religiously to know that the world has been a violent place this past week or two.  Actually, to be fair, I’m not convinced there has ever been a time in history when the world wasn’t violent.  It just hasn’t always been as well reported as it is now.  But that’s not my point right now.  The point is in times like these, it’s easy to feel like the “world is coming to an end” or society is “going to hell in a hand-basket.”  So how does one maintain one’s sanity, one’s own peace of mind in the midst of all this chaos?  Well, I don’t know how other people manage, but I’ve been surviving largely off of music . . . basically my usual coping mechanism, but an extremely effective one nonetheless.music speaks

As an effort to help spread peace & sanity during these turbulent times, today I thought I’d share some of the songs that I have found particularly encouraging lately.  Before I do that, however, I’d just like to make a few simple statements.

First of all, why does it seem like so much of our society cannot comprehend how a person can support both policemen (& women) & black people?  This is just common sense to me.  I don’t know nearly enough about the matter to definitely say if we truly have a problem with police brutality in this country, but I will say that the recent case in Minnesota involving Philando Castile seems to me to be the most suspicious & egregious case to date (that’s gotten media attention, of course).  And I just can’t help but wonder if so many of these other cases would have ended differently if the suspect in question had been white.  Of course the answer is we’ll never know for sure, but nonetheless I can’t erase the thought from my mind.  Regardless, I think those of us who are not black need to remember that those who are have legitimate reasons to be a bit less trusting of cops in general.  It might have been over twenty years ago now, but the Rodney King tragedy is not easily forgotten.  Remember, not only was the man treated unjustly but the police officers responsible for his death were never punished & were in fact found innocent of wrong-doing.  Such things are not easily dismissed from one’s memory.  police brutality

Just like any other profession, I think there are both good cops & bad cops.  Expecting law enforcement officers to be held accountable for their actions in no way means I don’t appreciate their sacrifices & bravery on a daily basis.  It’s the same with any other profession that has the responsibility for making life-altering decisions.  For example, I’m a nurse, & I can say first-hand that most nurses I’ve met are truly wonderful people who are doing a great job serving the patients in their care.  However, I will also be the first to advocate for nurses being held accountable for making reckless or negligent decisions that negatively impact patients.  That in no way means I don’t support nurses.  It just means I want us to use our power & responsibility wisely.  The same goes with police officers.peace quote

Alright, I’ve run out of steam. On to the real purpose of today’s post, the music.

I’ll start off with this touching song from Black Stone Cherry.  The band was kind enough to share this on their Facebook page this week which reminded me of just how timely this song really is right now.  Lyrics below:BSC barn

Something about our world today
That makes me wanna cry
There’s too much anger & too much pain
Too much money & too many lies
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right,
We could help each other to love our lives

[Chorus]
All I’m dreamin of is good times, good friends, & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is no fears, no tears, & blue skies up above

There’s people around us everywhere
Who need help like you & me
A family was taken by a storm
And we just watched it on TV
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right
We could help each other to love our lives.

[Chorus]

When one thing’s right another is wrong
But in the end love will always keep us strong

All I’m dreamin of is a house on a hill & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is the sun to shine & blue skies up abovepoynte band

Next up is great encouraging song from an awesome band out of ATL called Poynte.  Check out Hold On here, lyrics below:

Life Is Racing
Always Fading
We Are Left Standing Here
We Can’t Live With Our Regrets

We’ll Keep Holding
Onto This Dream
We Can Forgive
But We Can Never Forget

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

This Is Our Time
Can’t Push Rewind
We Can’t Hold Back
And Make The Same Mistakes Again

We’ve Been Fed Up
From The Neck Up
We Will Fight For
Another Chance To Make It Right

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

Will You Give All That You Can
Will You Give All That You Can

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Waybrent smith

I’ve posted this Shinedown song before but the message is too good not to share at a time like this.  Check out the inspirational video too.  Lyrics below:

I found a note with your name
And a picture of us
Even though it was framed
And covered in dust
It’s the map in my mind that sends me on my way

They say it’s never too late
To stop being afraid
And there is no one else here
So why should I wait?
And in the blink of an eye the past begins to fade

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

I’ve seen a million miles
Met a million faces
Took all I knew
To reach all these places
And I’d do it again
If it brings me back to you

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day and night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

Put your hands in the air

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time
Put your hands in the air one more time

pageant material

Lastly, this song is probably my favorite ever by Kacey Musgraves.  The lyrics, below, are just so perfectly poignant.

We’re all hoping, we’re all hopeless
We’re all thorns & we’re all roses
We’re all looking down our noses at ourselves
We’re all flawed & we’re all perfect
We’re all lost & we’re all hurting
And just searching for somebody to love

We’re all liars, we’re all legends
We’re all tens that want elevens
We’re all trying to get to heaven but not today
We’re all happy, we’re all hatin’
We’re all patiently impatient
And just waiting for somebody to love

We’re all good but we ain’t angels
We all sin but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Just thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else
We all wrangle with religion
We all talk, but we don’t listen
We’re all starving for attention, then we’ll run
We’re all paper, we’re all scissors
We’re all fightin’ with our mirrors
Scared we’ll never find somebody to love

We’re all good, but we ain’t angels
We all sin, but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else

Just tryin’ to hold it all together
We all wish our best was better
Just hopin’ that forever’s really real
We’ll miss a dime to grab a nickel
Over-complicate the simple
We’re all little kids just looking for love
Yeah, don’t we all just want somebody to love?ghandi quote peace

I hope these songs will bring you some peace of mind amidst the chaos of our world today.  Furthermore, I hope they will encourage each of us to be more loving & understanding to each & every person we meet.  With incidents like the recent shooter in Dallas  & the Orlando nightclub tragedy, I’ve been forced to remember that there are some truly evil people in this world.  Is it possible that such tragedies can be prevented in the future?  I wish I could say yes, but honestly I think humans will continue to find horrific ways to kill each other, regardless of what kind of weapons it requires, as long as we inhabit this planet.  But I also believe that there could be fewer of these tragedies if we as as a society learned to embrace love & understanding more than fear & hate.

 

Life Updates


Well, the past month has been a bit of a whirlwind.  I was planning on posting the second half of my most influential albums post . . . oh, about 3-4 weeks ago!  Well, as it happened, life intervened.  I got busy with work & then I came down with a terrible GI bug that landed me in the ER getting IV fluids & a small dose of Phenergan.  Took a few days to fully recover from that ordeal, but then a wonderful thing happened called the second trimester!  (I promise I will eventually share the next part of the influential albums post.)

second trimester

Ok, the first trimester wasn’t “so awful,” but it definitely wasn’t a piece of cake either.

So many people had told me that I would magically feel better once I hit week 14, but honestly I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to be disappointed, so as week 14 approached it was only with cautious optimism that I hoped to start feeling better.  As it turned out, within a matter of two or three days I could tell a HUGE difference in my appetite & energy level.  By the end of week 14 I was feeling better than I had in at least six weeks.  I’ll be 16 weeks tomorrow & I’m still feeling great.  In fact I just got back from visiting one of my dearest friends in Boston.  She has an adorable 6 month old baby who made my weekend visit even more fun than last year’s trip.  And I managed to NOT pass out on the street in downtown Boston (from dehydration) like I did last year so that was a major bonus too!  Ha!  The only downside to the trip was that the airline oversold both of my flights so I had to sit around waiting in nervous trepidation both times to find out if I’d actually make my flight.  This morning’s return flight was overbooked by 16 seats!  How obnoxious is that?!  I’m just really thankful for the 16 people who were willing to try for another flight (they were compensated of course) so I could make it home today.  I didn’t have an assigned seat on my ticket so I’m quite sure I would have been booted if not for those volunteers.P1120657

Anyway, I had a great time in Boston & I’m so thankful for all the advice my friend gave me about pregnancy, birth, & babies in general.  I changed a very poopy diaper which was a new experience for me (yes, I’m 27 & had never changed a poopy diaper ON A BABY until this weekend).  I must say it is definitely an art, but it is MUCH easier on babies than it is on adults.  I’m used to cleaning up all kinds of messes at the hospital so dirty diapers definitely aren’t the scary part of motherhood for me.  Indeed, I was very relieved to find that spending the weekend with a baby didn’t actually increase my fears or anxiety related to my impending motherhood.  In fact, much to my pleasant surprise I found myself thinking over & over again “I know this is going to be hard, but I can really DO this!  I can!”  It was such a great feeling to experience because I’ve always doubted myself so much when it comes to motherhood.

'Hey, half my chromosomes are YOURS, you know.'

Considering my husband is a genetics researcher, I can totally see our kid(s) saying this to me (or him) someday. Ha!

Other events of the past month include getting a flat tire from a bad pothole & having to replace all four tires on my car.  They were old & needed to be replaced anyway; I just wasn’t planning on doing it right after buying new furniture (two recliners for the living room, plus an additional one for the future nursery).  I got the flat tire on a Monday afternoon & of course I had to work that night so I had to rely on the graciousness of several different coworkers to transport me to & from work that night & the next two nights (because of course I was working three in a row!).  But it all worked out in the end.

Lady about flat tire: 'It's not too bad - it's only flat on the bottom.'

On a more positive note, I had an appointment with my midwifery group last week, & I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler machine.  It’s basically the same device we use in the hospital to find distal pulses on cardiac cath patients, but it’s such a neat experience to hear that little heartbeat, coming from inside of me, pumping so fast!pregnancy hormones cartoon

I’ve written this post mainly to clear my own head because even though I had a great time this weekend, I came home this morning & collapsed on the recliner in a fit of sobbing.  Don’t ask me why because I’m as clueless as anyone else.  The only answer is pregnancy hormones screwing with my head.  Trust me, as someone who prides herself on being logical & rational,  I hate feeling like an out of control emotional disaster.  But now that I’ve had a good cry (& some pizza because, face it, pizza solves everything), & cuddled with my husband & my corgi, I’m feeling much better.

P1120566

Here’s a picture of Chaucer from our hike last weekend at Doughton Park off of the Blue Ridge Parkway

I’ll end this post with the link to an awesome song I discovered last week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMLsF8ajI6U.  I’ve known about Apocalyptica since college & have always enjoyed a few of their pieces, but it’s only recently that I’ve really delved into their work.  And I’m truly loving it.  As I posted on my Facebook last week, I’m sure this isn’t what the average pregnant woman (or any woman) listens to, but since when has normal every been interesting?

The Most Influential Albums in My Life (Part 1)


When reading or listening to interviews with rocks stars I always find it fascinating to discover their choices for the most influential albums in their life.  As a total music junkie myself, today I thought it would be fun to share my own choices for the most influential albums in my life.  I’ve chosen these albums not only because they’re filled with some of my favorite songs (both lyrically & musically), but also because they are the kind of albums that helped me discover bands or genres with which I wasn’t previously familiar.  Anyhow, as I was writing I realized this was becoming quite a novel, so I decided to split it into two posts.  Here’s part one:music quote

  1. The Golden Age of Grotesque by Marilyn Manson (2003)
    • Despite the fact that this was by far not his most well-reviewed or commercially successful work, this will probably always be my favorite Manson album.  What’s interesting is that several of my favorite rock stars, including Chris from Motionless in White, have listed this as one of the most influential albums in their lives as well.  Stylistically this album was largely influenced by the Degenerate Art of 1930s Germany (the kind of modern art the Nazis banned), so there is a definite jazz feeling to certain songs which I of course love (check out the bizarrely named but incredibly fun Doll-Dagga-Buzz-Buzz-Ziggety-Zag). golden age of grotesque There is also a strong electronic influence from Swedish bassist Tim Skold. This can be clearly heard on the song that made me fall in love with this album, This is the New Shit, which is lyrically every bit as, if not more, relevant now than it was when it was released thirteen years ago.  Those who don’t understand that Manson’s music has always been a reaction against the celebration of violence, gore, sex, & commercialism in modern (particularly American) culture will completely miss the point of this song.  Personally, I find it brilliant.  Another favorite of mine from this album is the slightly crude but clever (s)aint.  I think anyone who has ever felt rejected by their peers will understand the angst of the lyrics perfectly.  Other favorites from this album are VodevilBetter of Two Evils, & The Bright Young Things.  I could go on & on, but for sake of time I’ll end by saying you simply MUST check out this album.
  2. Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) by Marilyn Manson (2000)holywood
    • For the most part I tried to only include one album from a single band or artist but Manson is just too much of an influence to limit myself in that way.  When I first fell in love with Manson, I quickly became enamored with the music & the message of The Fight Song, one of the most well-known songs from this album, but if you dig deeper into the history of this record you will realize just how brilliant the whole album really is.  One must remember that in 1999 Manson was very unjustly blamed by a great deal of the American media for the Columbine high school shooting tragedy.  What’s fascinating of course is to realize how maturely & humbly Manson handled the entire ordeal which truly threatened to topple his entire career (read Manson’s essay in Rolling Stone & tell me he isn’t brilliant).  In any case, this record was clearly influenced by the entire tragedy & is Manson’s way of showcasing to the world just how much our society truly glorifies & celebrates violence while at the same time pretending to condemn it.  There are also strong historical references to the Kennedy era.  This is not an album you can digest in one sitting.  Like any truly great work of art, you discover something new every time you listen to it.  And like so much of Manson’s music, songs like The Love SongDisposable Teens, & Target Audience are every bit as much of an indictment of modern American society now as they were when the album was first released.
  3. Halestorm by Halestorm (2009)halestorm albm
    • If I had to choose a favorite of Halestorm’s three amazing albums, it would actually be their most recent release Into the Wild Life.  However, it was their debut album from 2009 that first caught my attention & made me fall in love with the band.  The first single I Get Off admittedly grabbed my attention partly because it initially sounds very sexual.  But when you realize that Lzzy Hale actually wrote the song about the interaction between herself & the crowd when she’s performing her music, the song takes on a whole new power.  Then there are more ballad-like tracks such as Familiar Taste of Poison with its haunting, almost gothic feel & I’m Not an Angel which perfectly showcases Lzzy’s soaring vocals.  I’ve listened to this album literally countless times & yet it never loses its power, & I’m continually amazed that this was a debut album.  It’s definitely the album that started my love affair with this band.  (I’ve only seen them live four times now, & I’d gladly go again tomorrow, given the chance.  Fun fact: my baby has already attended a Halestorm concert too because I found out I was pregnant exactly three days after the last Halestorm show I saw!)
  4. The House of Gold & Bones (Volumes 1 & 2) by Stone Sour (2012-2013)stone sour house of gold and bones
    • I can’t even remember what other album I was looking for at Best Buy when, on a whim, I decided to pick up Volume 1 of this incredible two-part concept album.  Prior to buying Volume 1 I only knew a handful of songs by Stone Sour, but I was definitely enamored with the first single Absolute Zero which is why I decided to pick up the album when I saw it on sale.  As it turned out, the minute I heard the first chords of the opening tract Gone Sovereign & how it seamlessly melted into Absolute Zero, I was in total awe (you can listen to both tracks in the prior link, as their videos are dovetailed).  From start to finish there isn’t a single bad song on this album. Lyrically & musically it is completely brilliant.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: this album is like a rock symphony.  Each song blends flawlessly into the next one, & the whole record just feels like one giant masterpiece.  The same is equally true for Volume 2.  From Volume 1 don’t miss the hauntingly beautiful ballad Taciturn which serves to make the following track Influence of a Drowsy God even more powerful.  From Volume 2 be sure to check out the angry but brilliant Do Me a Favor as well as the gorgeous ballad The Conflagration which flows seamlessly into the epic ending The House of Gold & Bones.
  5. The Outsiders by Eric Church (2014)eric church the outsiders
    • Ahh, if you know me at all, you should have known that Eric Church would show up on this list somewhere.  The ironic thing is that when I first heard Church’s music I wasn’t impressed.  I thought he was a little too grungy, a little too “dirty.”  What’s funny is that now those are the exact reasons I love his music.  In any case, seeing Church perform live was what truly solidified my adoration for his entire persona (a fact I’m sure he’d appreciate).  Not long after that concert I purchased his third album Chief & quickly fell in love with every song.  Needless to say when The Outsiders debuted I bought it the very day it was released.  Once again from start to finish I was completely enthralled with the album & still am.  From the gritty & bombastic opener The Outsiders to sweet ballads like Talladega to the best & most realistic country sex song ever, there’s something here for everyone.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention That’s Damn Rock & Roll, another favorite from this album, which I’ve only loved even more since Church had Lzzy Hale perform the song with him at the 2014 ACM awards.  I also have to mention Devil, Devil, one of the most unique songs Church has ever recorded.  The first half of the song is a poem spoken by Church about the evil side of the Nashville music industry while the second half is a rocking song that is all the more powerful when performed live by Church & his band.
  6. Reincarnate by Motionless in White (2014)Motionless_in_white_reincarnate
    • This album absolutely has to be on this list because it became what one might call a “gateway” album for me in that it helped me to discover so many other great bands & albums.  Last January (2015) I stumbled across MIW while fooling around on YouTube one night, & as soon as I heard Reincarnate, I knew I was addicted.  The very next day I went to Best Buy & bought the album of the same name.  From the minute I heard the first chords of Death March I knew I’d stumbled onto something really special.  A few weeks later I discovered that lead singer Chris Motionless was featured on the cover of AP magazine, so naturally I went to B&N to buy the magazine.  While reading the magazine I came across an interview with none other than Marilyn Manson.  Up until then I’d never been a big Manson fan.  I wasn’t opposed to him per se; I just thought he was weird.  But once I read that article, I knew I had misjudged him & I had to check out his brand new record The Pale Emperor, which I swiftly did.  Not long after that, I discovered much of his older music & became as obsessed with Manson as I clearly am now.  See what I mean by a gateway album?  Ok, now that I’ve gone off on that tangent, let’s return to the original subject . . . Be sure to check out the angry & feisty Generation Lost, the confidence-booster Unstoppable, & Contemptress, a sexy ballad featuring Maria Brink from In This Moment.

      chris motionless quote

      Chris Motionless

I sincerely hope you’ll check out some of the above albums, at least a song or two from each.  Please feel free to comment below with some of the most influential albums in your own life.  Stay tuned for part 2 next week (or later this week, perhaps) which I promise will contain at least one non-rock album (ha!).