Go Oilers!

Hello from Rogers Place!

Hello from Rogers Place!

With all the awfulness going on in the world these days (and boy oh boy is there a lot of it), I’m trying to remind myself that it’s still ok to experience joy. In fact, it’s probably more crucial than ever.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy lately on following the news of the world and doing my part to be heard and make sure my home country doesn’t continue down the road to fascism. (Though we’ve already hit every item on the list at the US Holocaust museum. Sigh.) This has been exhausting, both physically and mentally.

So I’m trying to reserve time for things I love. Things that just make me happy. Hockey is one of those things. Specifically, my now-home team, the Edmonton Oilers. And that’s what tonight is all about. Steven and I are taking in a game at the swanky new rink.

We even got here early and sat in the lower bowl to watch the warmup.

We even got here early and sat in the lower bowl to watch the warmup.

Sadly, we’re down by 2 going into the first intermission, but there are 40 minutes of hockey left, and that’s an eternity in hockey-time. Anything can happen. And the most important thing is to be out and having fun. Because it’s ok to have fun. It’s ok to recharge. I need it. I deserve it.

The view from our seats.

The view from our seats.

So if you’ve been working hard to defend the republic (or anything else), don’t forget to take some time for yourself. If you don’t care for yourself, you’ll run out of steam to care for others. The world needs you, so treat yourself well.

#LoveTrumpsHate #resist

Phases

I’m going through a weird phase, podcast-wise. Podcast-listening-wise, to be specific.  It’s one that comes and goes, and is rather annoying while it’s in progress.

I currently don’t want to listen to my own podcasts.

Under normal circumstances, I try to listen to most every podcast I do.* I think it’s a valuable step towards improving–both as a producer/editor and as an on-mic panelist/host. Sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable to hear myself at places where I stumble, but for the most part, I enjoy listening. I even sometimes feel proud of my contributions. And that pride comes more and more often now that I’ve been podcasting for years.

Not so, these last couple weeks. I find myself bumping shows with lots of me down the playlist repeatedly. I still listen to eps of The Incomparable or Game Show when there are large panels, but my desire to listen to an episode has an inverse ratio to how Erika-heavy it is. Lazy Doctor Who is currently excruciating.

I’m honestly not sure why that is. I just get itchy inside when I hear myself talk–nervous and anxious in a way I certainly wasn’t when I recorded the episodes. Luckily, this has happened before, and I’m sure it’ll pass eventually. It’s just a weird thing that I thought I’d observe here.

Please note that I’m emphatically not posting this as a way of fishing for compliments. (Seriously, please don’t.) Cerebrally, I still think I’m good at what I do, so I’m not looking for reassurance. I just figured that if other people feel this way from time to time, it might be nice to know they’re not alone.

 

 

 

 

*This may be changing soon. My time to listen to ‘casts has dwindled dramatically. I’m considering a transition to something more like spot-checking my own appearances so that I can still listen to other people’s podcasts!

Permission to Do Nothing

Today is my first day back at work after more than a week off. I had such grand plans for that week — a whole list of tasks which I’d use all that free time to accomplish.

Oh foolish me.

I got one of those tasks done. One. (And that was rearranging my sock drawer. Possibly the most immediately helpful thing on the list, but certainly not the most important!)

This is just the drawer. There are also four boxes of nicely sorted tights and pantyhose in the closet that used to live in this drawer. Such an improvement!

This is just the drawer. There are also four boxes of nicely sorted tights and pantyhose in the closet that used to live in this drawer. Such an improvement!

It’s amazing how your time can fill up with random bits of nothingness and long chunks of relaxation. I can’t believe how fast the time went by. And I spent all of it with a vague sense of unease because I knew I wasn’t doing all the things I should have been doing. I kinda half-decided that I felt more like lounging around or cooking or going out to eat or … whatever, than I felt like Getting Things Done. (And unfortunate mental health issues didn’t help with that at all.) But I didn’t fully give myself permission to treat those days like a proper vacation.

Oh foolish me.

Sometimes a vacation needs to be a vacation. However, for me to get full rejuvenation from such a break, I need to commit to it. I didn’t do that, so I’m not back at work feeling as refreshed as I should. Not only is there a lot of day-job work ahead of me, but I’ve also decided to work on getting back to my “clean living” lifestyle that seems to have degraded over that last few months. (Note: This is not a New Year’s resolution. It’s simply an attempt to return to what I consider my baseline lifestyle.)

Some of the items I’ll be working toward are exercise (on my elliptical trainer while watching Arrow and The Flash), diet (not a weight-loss diet, but a healthy one with no gluten or dairy and FAR less sugar), and general productivity (using the two hours after I get home from work to Get Things Done before I run out of steam — leaving things until later in the evening never seems to work).

But…

I’m not ready to start that today. (See? It’s not a New Year’s resolution!) One mistake I often make is trying to start too many things at once. This always backfires. So today is simply about getting back into the routine of getting up early and walking to and from work. I was much more sedentary during my time off, and holy buttons, did I sleep in late! (11am or noon wasn’t terribly unusual, so 6:30 felt mighty painful this morning.)

Thus, today, I am officially giving myself permission to Do Nothing.

When I get home, I’ll plop down on the couch with my spouse and some reheated leftovers. We will watch the Oilers game. After that, I will do whatever the heck I feel like, even if that is nothing but play Candy Crush while the TV plays in front of me. In addition, the plan for tomorrow won’t be decided until I see how I feel tonight. If I’m totally wrecked, I’ll give myself another couple of days to ease back into the general grind before I add anything to the routine. (It’ll be two days minimum because there’s another early Oilers game on Thursday. #priorities)

This is me, trying to avoid the pitfalls I’ve dived into before. I’m taking it slowly and hoping that being thoughtful and methodical will result in more success than my sudden headlong rushes have in the past. I’d appreciate it if you’d wish me luck.

Last Christmas

Nope, not the Doctor Who episode. The song! And yes, I blogged about that tune already. But what I didn’t tell you was that the original Wham! version is not the only one! (Though it’s still my fave.) I’ve run across a couple other versions that I quite like.

I adore Jimmy Eat World. They do some of my favorite songs ever ever. (Oh GOD, the HARMONIES.) They also do a passable version of “Last Christmas”. It’s not my favorite because it’s too mellow-emo for my taste, but it is pretty, I’ll give them that.

The best cover version of this tune I’ve come across is the one by Taylor Swift. I’m not the biggest fan of her as a celebrity/media-personality, but damn, that girl’s good at makin’ good tunes. This version has just the right amount of energy, pathos, and pretty guitars.

The final “Last Christmas” I have for you is not a cover of the Wham! song at all. It’s another punk tune to follow off the couple I posted earlier this week. It’s about the last Christmas we get because we’ve screwed everything up so bad it’s all over, and humanity isn’t getting another. Call me morose, but I feel like 2016 is the perfect year to break out this tune.

Sorry to end on such a downer. Hmm. What else can I toss in to lighten the mood? How about a 36-second punk song about a kitty knocking down a Christmas tree?

Perfect.

I Love My Secret Santa

At work I’m participating in a Secret Santa week. I’ve been giving and getting gifts every day since Monday, and it’s been great! The organizer had everyone fill out little questionnaires about their likes, dislikes, and Christmas wishes. I got some great snacks yesterday, a pine-scented candle (yay!) Monday, and today, I go these!!!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

In the “I could use more…” section, I put “yarn (Oilers colors preferred)”. And boy did my Secret Santa come through. This yarn is delightfully soft! And that is important and perfect because I have been meaning to make hand warmers (gloves with just one big hole for all the fingers and a small one for the thumb) for use at work. (It gets pretty cold at my desk.) I’ve had hand warmers before that were kinda scratchy, and that’s just no darn fun.

So today’s bit of December glee is brought to you by…well, I don’t know who yet. But one of my coworkers is pretty great. (They all are, really.) Also, it’s been ages since I posted anything about knitting, so I figured it was high time! If I get my booty in gear, there may be future updates as I work on my sporty-crafty-fangirl project.

Go Oilers!

More (Modern) Christmas Music

The other day I posted about some of the holiday music I love hearing on the radio in Edmonton during November and December. Today I’ll share a few tunes I love that I don’t get to hear on the radio (but would be THRILLED if I did).

First up is a Christmas tune by one of my favorite bands of all time. Fountains of Wayne have pretty much perfected the art of writing catchy pop songs, and this holiday effort, “I Want an Alien for Christmas”, is no exception.

If someone was designing a Christmas song for me, this would be damn close. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, it’s got great, tight vocal harmonies, and it’s just barely over two minutes long. Spend the two minutes and give yourself a bit of silly Christmas cheer.

Weezer has a whole Christmas EP, but the next couple tunes are from their earlier EP, The Christmas CD. First is “The Christmas Song”. No, not the one by Mel Torme. This one is quite a downer in that particularly Rivers Cuomo-style. It’s still catchy with good harmonies, so I’m a fan.

I know the picture is the cover of The Green Album–they did write this while they were doing demos for that album, but it doesn’t appear on the album itself.

The next Weezer tune is back to the upbeat pop-punky less-than-three-minutes stuff I love. It’s still a pretty cynical song lyrics-wise, which I must admit makes me like it even more. Songs that sound happy but have angry lyrics is a thing I Quite Like.

So yeah. I’m a fan of this particular “Christmas Celebration”. Even the guitars do sweet sweet harmonies.

If you want some proper punk in your Christmas, this last one is for you. It’s one of my favorite Madison bands doing an original Christmas song they wrote for the Madison music scene compilation CD, MAXMAS volume II. Please enjoy “Drunk for Christmas”–because that’s how it (often) works in Wisconsin!

Full disclosure, Tim Budziszewski (the lead singer/songwriter for Government Zero) is a very good friend of mine. But I also think his ridiculous gift for crafting catchy, pop-punk tunes means he belongs here with Rivers and Adam and Chris.

If that’s not enough Xmas punk for you, here’s another. In classic punk tradition, this one comes with a healthy dose of social commentary. I leave you with “Christmas Made in China”. (I’m afraid you’ll have to click through to that one. It’s not on YouTube, and the embedding isn’t working.)

Happy December!

…Or at least that’s what I’m striving for. At the beginning of the month, I considered pledging to do an advent calendar-style thing–a post about something happy every day. I decided to unofficially/internally aim for that, but not promise anything formally. I am very glad I didn’t promise it because I’d’ve already failed–I didn’t post anything yesterday.

The reason I didn’t is because I know myself, and I know if I’d’ve put that much pressure on, I’d’ve spent the entire month stressing about it. So instead, I’m just gonna do my best to pop something nice in here as often as I have time and brain-health to do it.

Today’s bit of happy is something my mom sent me, which made her very grumpy. It snowed in Wisconsin! This is my parents’ backyard as of this morning:

I admit to being a little homesick now. It's so beautiful!

I admit to being a little homesick now. It’s so beautiful!

We also got some proper snow last night in Edmonton (finally!) so I got to trudge through it on my way to work this morning through the -16 (but feels like -27) degree (Celsius) weather. Many people would not enjoy this (my mom, for one!), but at this time of year, it just feels right to me. I don’t know exactly when I became a winter-lover, but I’m glad it hit before I moved here to the frozen north. I’m really enjoying the season so far. (Check back with me about that in April…)

If you do want something that’s fun and advent-calendarey, I highly recommend Radio Free Skaro‘s Advent Calendar of Fluid Links. They answer one listener-submitted Doctor Who question every day. There are sleigh bells and it is delightful.

You may have noticed I’m posting more short posts rather than fewer longer ones. Giving myself permission to keep things short and fun has made me feel freer and better about writing. I’m hoping the flavor of this blog will change over the next few months so I can make it more accurately reflect me as a person (and keep me writing more often). Not that anything I’ve posted so far is a misrepresentation of who I am, but I’m not a person who only thinks deeply and carefully about things. Sometimes I just like to have fun. I think my Twitter feed illustrates that nicely, but sometimes 140 characters just isn’t enough.

I make no promises, but I’ll be doing my best to post about (mostly) happy things throughout December–little posts for the most part, working my way up to the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when I’m going to try to pump out several of the patron-inspired posts people have been waiting (so patiently!) on for so long.

So happy December everyone! (Even you, Mom. Embrace the snow!)