Oh, Canada… highlights from the Montreal Jazz Festival

Our trip to Montreal was exactly what I needed in many ways. I pushed myself a bit too much physically, but made it through.

Mucca performed 4 outdoor street sets throughout the weekend, and then two sets on the large, main stage on Canada Day. Even after 4 years of being with them, I still get the same joy and excitement from watching Mucca perform every single time. I couldn’t have been happier, or prouder, of my friends, watching them on the big stage in front of ten to twenty thousand people.

These are mostly shots from one of the street sets. I was using a friend’s camera for the main stage sets, but hopefully he’ll upload or share them with me so I can post them. I took about 200 shots of the street set, and who knows how many of the main stage.

We’ve got a lot more planned for this summer, heading out west next… and I am absolutely excited about it.

Bonjour de Montréal!

It’s the beginning of Day 3 in Montreal.

It’s a great city. Really amazingly friendly city. I’ve had almost no problems getting around without knowing any French. I’m able to read some things, and I’m recognizing certain words spoken to me… But I’m no where near comfortable speaking the few words I’m learning. Hooray for a bilingual country.

Our apartments are just a few blocks from the Jazz Festival. The festival itself is just huge. Friday night we watched Feist perform on the main stage to a massive crowd — where Mucca will be performing on Monday night. Twice.

So far it’s been a pretty good trip, though I did pick up a cold and have spent more money (almost all on food) that I thought/hoped I would. We’ve got two more street sets today, and then the Monday night main stage shows… It’s all going by quickly.

While I know I have a lot to do when I get back, it’s been a really nice break from everything. And plus, how can you not love this view?

Montreal Balcony View South

Thank You.

Thank you work for letting me take the time off to go on tour.

Thank you cats for not destroying the house while I was gone, and for all the cuddles when I returned.

Thank you Leather Bus for making it through the trip and the mountains and the narrow roads.

Thank you Homestays for letting us take over your homes, use your showers, and give us a place for much needed sleep.

Thank you venue staff for helping us load in and get the audio set up, for helping get the merch areas set  up. Thank you Webster Hall merch staff for selling and counting for us and taking care of all our merch.

Thank you show-goers, for dancing and supporting our group. Especially those who came to multiple shows this tour. To all that bought merch from me.

Thank you journalists and photographers for all the great reviews and photos and videos, for really warming our hearts by all the great coverage.

Thank you Gorilla Coffee for the best hot chocolate I had all trip.

Thank you Millers Pub for restarting the fryers for us so we could finally get some food after a long day of traveling, as well as the good bar company.

Thank you friends I haven’t seen in a while for coming out to shows and saying hi.

Thank you Momma for checking in on me, and for the foot bath & soak which felt so amazing when I got home.

Thank you Bossman Jacob for always taking care of things, for driving the bus (through ridiculous streets), for looking out for me, and for just generally being the awesome person that you are. (And for convincing that coffee shop in Brooklyn to make a hot chocolate for me even though their machines were down.)

Thank you Nicole for making all the arrangements.

Thank you Mucca drivers for getting us around safely.

Thank you Vanessa for not only making me giggle a lot, but for reminding this girl that certain guys aren’t as awesome as our heart makes them seem.

Thank you Nick & Susie for a fun day walking all over Manhattan and SoHo.

Thank you Sam for always coming to help me pack the merch bins.

Thank you Ela for making pickles.

Thank you Tony and the guys of K12 for the cupcake.

Thank you Muccas for all the love and support you’ve shown me over the years, for making me feel like part of this big, crazy, smelly family. For unknowingly helping me through a hard time. For all the jokes, for all the smiles, for all the hugs. For sharing cat pictures and passing notes under hotel doors. For sharing snacks and food. For listening to me ramble on about nothing. For helping me carry my shrimp. For always looking out for me. For being the wonderful, talented, and amazing people that you are. I love you all.

Thank you Jacob, Mark, Meghan, Vanessa, Tim, Jessica, Sharon, Ronnie, Gary, Jeff, Greg, Rick, John C., Larry, Andy, Dorff, Paul, George, Tony, Brent, Broste, Ela, Ellis, Smith, Levine, Justin, Susie, Sam, and Nick for such an amazing tour.

days like this

It’s been getting a bit rainy here in Chicago. Which means I want nothing more than to curl up at home with the kitties, put on some comfy clothes, and have a hot cider.

But we’ve had some nice days lately, and I’m glad I’ve taken advantage of a few of them.

I can’t say that there’s anything majorly life changing happening right now. I’m just really content and happy. It’s nice. And I’m thankful I’ve had more days like this than not.

Some things I’m looking forward to…

Watching the Bears game with my dad tonight. He’ll still be at home in Indiana, and I’ll be here in Chicago… but thanks to my Dad, I can now watch his cable from the internet.

Rebekah‘s wedding that’s less than two weeks away! And related: a weekend in St. Louis. (I’ve got my dad to thank for getting the hotel for me since I put it off until the last minute.)

Two Mucca shows. Telling myself I will not get fall-down drunk this time at Otto’s this weekend. And super duper stocked for Mucca’s Halloween show and the debute of something amazing.

Getting new glasses. I mean, can ya tell?

Brunch with Courtney at our favorite place.

Love my family. Love my friends. Love my city. Life’s pretty grand.

*Yes, this picture is still of Chicago. I was crossing the North Ave bridge around sunset; just east of Wicker Park. I love my city.

All These Things (October Edition)

– Last weekend I spent the day with my friend Sharon. It was awesome. We went to a Pug Party. An absurd number of pugs and their owners—and the three of us who were there just to see a room full of pugs. So. Many. Pugs. And pugs in costume! One of the owners tried to apologize for their dog affectionately jumping all over us as we sat on the floor. That’s sort of exactly why we chose to sit on the ground.

Oh, and the weekend gets better. We headed over to Aloft Circus Arts to check out El Circo Cheapo‘s new show. Hoping this week to dedicate a whole post to it… but the short of it, if you’re in Chicago, you need to check them out.

A super awesome friend of mine and I are communicating using pictures of our cats. It gives me the giggles every time.

– This is the first October since I lost my stepmom that I’ve held it together. It’s been six years now. It’s still hard. But I don’t really feel guilty about our lives moving forward without her. I think she’d be proud of the women & young ladies her daughters are becoming…

– This past Friday I read a facebook status that made me amazingly pouty and grumbly. But a few hours later I got a really awesome email, completely unrelated, which put the biggest smile on my face.

– Friday night I also wore my Tanooki hood most of the night, marathoned RuPaul’s Drag Race (season 4), ate an entire bag of Snickerdoodle cookies, and enjoyed some bourbon & ginger ale. I may have also dyed my hair soft black and painted my nails Mango Bango.

– Writing Class is kicking my ass. There’s just so much reading, and people keep turning in more than one story for workshop… just adding to the amount I have to read (and then also write a written response/critique to)… It’s like half an inch stack of paper each week. Luckily my next story isn’t due until a week from this Friday.

– Two Mucca shows this month! Otto’s on the 27th, and then Double Door on the 31st.

– 20SB is keeping me busy! Lots of exciting things, but first: we’re speaking out this month against bullying. Find out how you can help!

– I know that I’m an adult, but sometimes certain things just hit that feeling home. Like buying a new TV. (Which, major thanks to gRegor & Joey for making this happen!) I know pretty much everyone has big flat screens now, but I really saw no reason to get rid of my perfectly good tube tv—even if it only had mono audio input… But it was finally time for a new TV, and sales and discounts and all that.

– I used to have this great positive confidence—that rock star feeling of “I can do anything/not going to let small shit get me down”, and I don’t really know when I lost it, but it came back… and I’m not letting it go.

late night posting

Okay, so it’s really not “late night”… but it almost is for me. I FEEL SO OLD.*

Anyway. Here’s what’s up. Besides me.

→ Well, I lost in the finals. First I thought I won. Then there was confusion. More matches. Not so happy feelings. A rematch. Wifi that didn’t like my 3DS. And then I lost. I was just completely off for that rematch–no mater what I tried, my little Mii wasn’t going to move…

However, losing didn’t stop me from emailing this photo to Anthony of Smosh (my competitor from semi finals, whom I TROUNCED)…

(Anthony’s been a good sport about my minor taunting and rushed photoshopping. … just glad he doesn’t follow me on facebook and didn’t see the “big site doesn’t mean big game, BRING IT” post… … gonna safely assume he doesn’t read my blog either.)

Anyway. GOOD JOB TERRY. He gets a second chance at TJ.

→ I’m getting a house guest! A very pretty one too. Katherine is moving to Chicago, and now that she’s publicly announced it, I can publicly go WOOHOO! I’m excited that she’s moving here.

→ Mucca Pazza cd release show is happening August 18. Very excited. Gotta wash my cheer skirt and tube socks.

→ I reactivated my online dating profile–or rather, logged into it for the first time since… maybe December… I don’t have high hopes. I’m just bored. Really. Bored.

→ I officially have the word “Director” in my job title. My responsibilities aren’t really changing, but it’s nice to have the appropriate title to match what I’ve been doing for a while…

Anyway. It’s been a week. Next week is shaping up to be fun. And hopefully I’ll get my act together and start writing more… because, yeah, school is starting back up soon. How’s your week?

*My office assistant was talking today about how he couldn’t celebrate his friend’s birthday because he wasn’t 21 year… I WORK WITH A PUPPY. (He’s a good kid, emphasis on KID.) This adult thing is weird.

the dork abides

For the past three days I’ve been knee deep in code.

I decided on Tuesday I wanted to completely redo my portfolio site. So, within 24 hours I rebuilt it, and I even reformatted all the content to fit the new site. But, me being me, means I’ve been nit-picking small things ever since yesterday afternoon when it went live.

So, I’m taking a break from code before I smash my head into my desk. Repeatedly. jQuery is not my friend right now… (.createElement(‘STAB’))

Tomorrow morning I get to wake up bright and early as the Muccas and I are heading down to Louisville for LebowskiFest! Yes. LebowskiFest. White Russians. Bowling. And dear lord I hope I hear at least one person exclaim “Forget it, Donny! You’re out of your element!” It’s going to be a good time.*

We’re staying overnight in Louisville, then rushing back for what is going to be a very full, but amazingly awesome Saturday.

Our good friends from New Belgium’s Tour de Fat will be in Chicago, so we’ll be paying them a little visit around 1:40-ish. If you’re in town, and especially if you have a bike and/or like beer, you should check it out. The bike parade is super fun, and there’s just so many acts you don’t want to miss.

From Tour de Fat, I’ll be hauling ass to get to Rebekah’s hotel. I need to drop off my stuff before she and I join our fellow nerds for a special Nintendo Brand Ambassador event. We got an exclusive invite to the WiiU Experience. A few hours of hands on with Nintendo’s latest console system, followed by drinks and dinner. I think the only reason I’m not geeked out more about this event is from being slightly brain dead from a coding overload. I also haven’t been reading too many reviews as I really want to go into this experience with no expectations other than to have a great time.

After the WiiU Experience, I’ll be saying bye to my friends for a little bit and running off to see someone who is The Best. My friend Steinomite is having his debut CD release that night, and I’ve volunteered to do merch for him. Ssssnake is also performing, as well as other performers I don’t know personally but I know will be amazing.

All of this will be topped off with brunch Sunday morning with Rebekah before she heads home. There was talk of some beach time for Sunday afternoon–which as long as I just get to lay on my towel and relax, I’ll be up for.

It’s an incredibly nerdy weekend, and I really can’t wait.

*Though, if you get me excited, I’ll probably say BukowskiFest… which I’d like to think would be just as fun in its own way…
**Sorry for my lameness in not linking anything… if you want more info about anything mentioned, let me know and I’ll get a link or two out to you.

5 years back

Twenty-Something Bloggers, that massive network of personal bloggers, is turning 5 this week. And as part of the celebration, we’re hosting a blog carnival (sponsored by GlassesUSA.com).

As part of the Executive Board, we shared our carnival letters to ourselves from 5 years ago on the 20sb blog. So, you can read my letter there… However, I do want to share some highlights from the past five years…

I moved to Chicago. Yep. Five years ago this month I moved to Chicago. I had just graduated from college, and was super excited about moving to Chicago with (but not as roommates) my friend Chrissy. Granted, Chrissy moved back home about a month into it… but I stayed and Chicago definitely has become my home now. I absolutely love it here.

I adopted the kittens. Though they’re a handful, I love these little furballs. It’s kind of weird now, because every so often I look at them and go “YOU’RE A CAT!”… I still picture them as my teeny tiny kittens…

I met Mucca Pazza. Four years ago, also this month, my friend Josiah invited me to Andersonville’s Midsommarfest. “There’s this band you’ll love…” A bit of an understatement. You’d have to be absolutely new to my blog to not know that I consider this bunch of band nerds my Chicago Family. (LYA, Muccas!)

I gained another mom. We welcomed Cynthia into our family, and I am so grateful for all that she brings. I know my (half) sisters miss their mom, as I do too, but I do believe that Cynthia has opened them to new worlds and possibilities.

Oh the jobs I’ve had… From working as a nanny, to working in a biological imaging lab with lasers and liquid nitrogen and a 56″ poster printer, to managing a toy store, to running a school… There were ups and downs and some really not pretty moments, but there was some fun times there.

Hello, Endo. Not a happy thing, but still a big part of these five years. It tested me, and still does. I’m learning to adjust not only my diet, but just my regular habits. I still have hard days, painful days, but overall, I’ve pushed through it and I can definitely say my self-esteem is a lot better.

I pursued passions. Summer writing conference. A Stanford writing course. Writing workshop. Portfolio School. The Graham School’s Writer’s Studio. Not to mention all the crazy side projects I’ve started over these 5 years…

I don’t know if I would change much. There were definite not-good moments. But I’m happy. I’ve got some pretty awesome people in my life. I get to do some pretty cool things. Life isn’t that bad.

“These next five years in Chicago are going to be amazing, once you get to look back on them.

Relax, you’re amazing”

let’s get excited

Things to get excited about:

→ Food Trucks. Today I’ll be hoping on the Leather Bus and heading to Indy with the Muccas for First Friday Food Truck Fest. 30 Food trucks. Including Der Pretzel Wagen. I want food from all the trucks.

Tour de Fat. New Belgium kicks off their amazing beer & bike festival tomorrow in Nashville. And yes, we’ll be there too. I love TdF. Even if I can’t drink beer. It’s an amazing time, lots of great performances… you should definitely not miss it.

→ Lit Fest. Writer nerds unite.

Tweetup Brunch! Lots of bloggers and twitter-ers gathering together for the best and most important meal? Yes please. (Especially 50% off brunch!)

→ Safety Fifth. Mucca’s new CD will be available June 12th. CD. Vinyl. Digital download. Get on it.

→ MY BIRTHDAY. (13th)

→ MP Birthday Tour. 3 of us have birthdays right in a row. Like we needed a reason for a non-stop party.

Mucca east coast tour: NYC & DC (14-16).

→ 20SB’s 5th Birthday.

→ New bikinis. ’nuff said.

→ Oh, and I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo.

How’s your June look?

the anticipation! (pre-birthday restlessness)

I’m getting twitchy. Antsy. Restless.

Why? … My birthday is in 3 weeks.

Birthdays are big things to me. Especially my birthday. (I mean, it’s a day to celebrate me. It may make me vain, shallow, or selfish… but who doesn’t like birthdays?)

Every year I try to plan some spectacular party. For my 18th birthday, I think it was a big water gun fight… My 21st was dinner with my mom & college boyfriend. 25th was a big picnic (with like, 2-3 dozen cupcakes) at a dog park. 27th was cake at one of my favorite bars. I always plan some big event… but they never really work out. It rained, boyfriend didn’t arrive until MANY hours later, it rained again, no one showed up…

So, a few months ago—when, sadly, is when I start thinking about my birthday party—I decided to put on the breaks. As much as I want some big, fantastic party with all my friends, I’m just not going to plan it this year. Trust me. I want to. But I’m tired of getting caught up in the details, and I just want to relax and just enjoy my day with some friends…

Luckily, this year, the Muccas are making that last part easy on me. This year for my actual birthday, I’ll be on the Mucca bus, heading to Brooklyn, NY. You know, I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I’m probably a little too excited about being on a bus for hours and hours. But I’ll be with people that I love, and that’s all that matters.

I’m not even really asking for gifts. I mean, I told my mom she could get me a juicer. And there was one other person who knows of something special I want.. but that’s about it.. And I mean… it’s not like I have some not-so-secret-birthday-wishlist pinterest board… not at all… But as long as I get a lot of hugs from my friends, I’ll consider it to be a super, fantastic birthday. And I couldn’t ask for me.

Do you have special things you do for your birthday? Are you a big planner? Throw big parties? I gotta know I’m not the only one!