Alone With You / Revolution

I’ve kind of been wanting to blog about these songs for a while now, but never could really make a significant post about them. On my 50 song Loved Tracks playlist in iTunes, they are the only two Madonna songs right now. You’d think that someone who is as big of a fan as I am would have more, but no. These are it.

Rebel Heart was plagued with problems. The entire album leaked months prior to its actual release, and what was worse, demos of songs that didn’t make the album were also leaked. When the final product was officially released in March of 2015, most of the fans had already been listening to it for months and also had better ideas than Madonna about what songs should have been included on the album. It made the entire release a bit underwhelming, to say the least.

For what it’s worth, I would have included both of these songs – “Alone With You” and “Revolution” – on the album and jettisoned both “S-E-X” and probably “Inside Out” or even (sacrilege) “Bitch I’m Madonna.”  I think she could rerecord both of these and release them as a digital one-off single and even though it would probably not shake the sales chart much, it would placate fans and also pave the way for some kind of small tour without having to do a full proper album. “Revolution” would even be appropriate for how she is likely feeling about events in the U.S. right now, although she always talks about her revolution being a revolution of love, which makes me happier than it should.

But knowing that Madonna is not one to look backward, only ahead, this is unlikely to happen. And really, the fans will want new music and she does owe Interscope one more album. They probably want her to put it out, get her ass back on the road and then be done with her since she is, even by this Madonna fans admission, way past her prime. She will never sell like she did ever again, and as long as she insists on trying to keep up with the kids, she’ll continue to tarnish her rather impressive legacy. Both of these songs sound more “Madonna” than much of what was on Rebel Heart.

We all armchair quarterback Madonna, and we know she doesn’t give a shit. And we love her anyway – sometimes because of it, sometimes in spite of it.

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The sine wave

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I went to see my psych doctor the other day – it was time and considering how I had been not coping very well with life lately, it was timely indeed. I went into it convinced that he was going to swap my antidepressant for something else, after having been on Effexor for as long as I can remember. I had read that some people just “burn out” on their antidepressant and have to try something different. The pharmacist in me did not really believe that, but the person on antidepressants that was struggling with depression wanted to believe that was the answer.

So I asked him if he thought that people could “burn out” on an antidepressant – be on it so long that it’s no longer effective. His answer was a categorical NO. His exact words were “people don’t become immune to them.” This surprised me because, as I said, I was really prepared for him to say that it was time to try something different. Personally, I was dreading the Effexor taper, full of head shocks and dizziness, but thankfully, I don’t have to go through that.

What he did mention was the interesting dichotomy of people that come in and don’t want to go on meds because they don’t want to be a robot. They eventually acquiesce and go on meds and then are surprised when they still have the ups and downs, i.e. they don’t turn into a robot. It was something I’d forgotten about the medication side of the of depression and anxiety. The drugs work, but they only do so much. Life is a sine wave of ups and downs, and the best drugs can do is hopefully flatten the sine wave out a little bit.  To make it a straight line is unrealistic and also not a desirable outcome. Really, the best you can expect of any mental health treatment is to make the lows not quite so low, because the lows are still going to happen, much like they have been happening to me lately.

I walked out of the office with no med changes at all. I felt really good about it, too. But I was also a little bit bummed out by it. Even though I knew better, I was kind of hoping for a magic bullet to stop me from feeling like I’ve been feeling the last few weeks. The only real answer is to do the damn work that you have to do. Control what you can, let go of what you can’t. Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. All things that sound easy but when you’re mired in depressive and anxious thoughts and feelings, it’s anything but easy.

So I feel pretty empowered right now, remembering that life is a rollercoaster and, as a former therapist once told me, we can either ride it or watch it from a distance and say “wow, isn’t that interesting?”  Feelings aren’t facts and fusing with them is almost always a mistake. This time of year is also hard – everything is cold and wet and dirty. Vehicles are filthy and you rub up against them and get dirt on your pants and there you go. And that’s just in the first five minutes of leaving the house.

Here’s to better days ahead!

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Sixteen years

student loan.pngTonight, while looking into seeing how much better of a rate SoFi could give me on my student loans than what I’m currently getting, I found out that my student loans will be paid off – at my current interest rate and rate of payment – on March 7, 2034. That seems like a ridiculously long time, but I suppose I have been paying on them for around 15 years now and they are a lot like a 30-year mortgage, but still.

For some reason, that makes me feel like a failure. Granted, that’s kind of been my general state of emotion the last few weeks, but that hit me harder than I expected. What could I have done differently? There is the matter of the years 2004 and 2005 when, for 18 months, I deferred my student loans because I was paying two house payments due to my inability to unload my old house in small-town Iowa after moving to where we live now. We’re far enough removed from that situation now that I don’t feel like we can blame things on that situation any longer, but as you can see, we still feel the ripples.

I don’t regret borrowing the money to fund my education, nor do I regret the money Heidi had to borrow for hers. We never would have survived me getting my PharmD without it. But I am a little embarrassed that I’m still paying on my loans. I don’t owe even half as much as some of my fellow pharmacists, but it still seems like something I should have had made history a long time ago.

I also don’t expect someone to wave a pen and magically make them disappear. I signed on the line, I’m responsible for them. It would make life a lot simpler, to be sure, but it wouldn’t be fair to the millions who HAVE paid their loans in full.

Money is such a trigger for me -it’s why I’m not going to concerts this year (well, that and I am over crowds of people bumping into me.) I did get a new phone which I don’t regret at all – I just will back off on buying records. I get to have a few nice things, regardless of what people say. But finding that out tonight makes me want to put every spare dime onto my student loans so that I’m not 62 when I get them paid off.

Incidentally SoFi was able to beat the interest rate by 1.6% for a 10 year payback.  Granted, it raises our payment. A 15 year payback would lower our payment and if we kept paying the same payment we are making now, we’d pay it off quicker than we would through the government. I’ll probably refinance them, but certainly not at 9:20pm on a Tuesday night when my brain is shot.

But it’s reinforced one thing in my mind – my daughter is going to graduate from college debt free.

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Things not meant to be

This came up in my Timehop today.

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Unlike a lot of things that come up in my Timehop, I remember the exact circumstances surrounding this tweet. It was after I had met a guy that I had known semi-socially for coffee. We had things in common, were roughly the same age, and it just seemed like it should work. When I read this today, it made me a little bit sad because ultimately, this potential new friend did not become a friend in the traditional sense at all. We are friendly and certainly get along, but I would not classify us as friends in the classic sense of the word.

In the ensuing weeks after I tweeted this, I tried to engage with this person, but it didn’t really work in the way I was used to it working. I chalk it up to life being busy and since that initial coffee “date” so-to-speak, we haven’t gotten together socially. It’s sad because I think so many men in their middle age are really very lonely and afraid to show just that shade of vulnerability that is needed to not be lonely. Me, I have that vulnerability in spades, and it’s part of the reason that I truly am not lonely in my middle age. Many men have only one friend – their wife – and I really feel for those men. They are missing out on something that can only be had by dropping the macho facade for two seconds and realizing that we need more than that. After all, it’s not fair to expect our wives to meet every single need. It’s not fair to ask that of anyone when you get right down to it.

For a while, I thought it must be me. Something about me was repulsive and that’s why this particular new friendship didn’t take, whereas others had not. But with the help of another friend, to whom I confessed this story, I realized that sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. That helped me a lot because I really had laid the failure of the friendship at my feet. With his help, I was able to unburden myself with that falsehood and settle into the fact that there are levels of friendship, and not every single one is going to get to the level of some of my closest friends.

But just because this specific instance didn’t work doesn’t mean I’ll stop being me and sticking my neck out when I feel like it might be worth it. I like to say that I lead by example when it comes to this kind of thing. I have plenty of friends, but even with that, I’m not impervious to loneliness. And who among us can’t use another friend, especially one willing to be vulnerable enough to push through the macho bullshit?

So when I think about this person, who I don’t have reason to cross paths with terribly often, I just think that it was a missed opportunity. And if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s making opportunities.

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Priorities

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So I’m signed up for the Diana Krall mailing list, something I did back when I was a bigger fan of hers than I probably am now, and I got word that she will be bringing her Turn Up The Quiet tour to Des Moines the weekend of my birthday. Now here’s the deal – I had kind of decided that 2018 would be the year I just laid off the live shows with no regret (unless Madonna tours in which case all bets are off.)  But I will admit that this tempted me.

I plugged in the presale code and saw that (naturally) all the best seats were already spoken for and the general on-sale hasn’t even started yet. There will probably be more seats for sale during after tomorrow but still, you know those went to the bots and secondary resellers (read: scalpers.) I hovered over a couple of seats and saw that tickets were $137 for the first few rows, $102 for the floor, and $72 for the balcony. Normally that wouldn’t have been a problem – as a veteran Madonna concert-goer, I’ve spent a hell of a lot more on a show than that before. But for some reason, I balked.

I think it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t purchased a Diana Krall album in 12 years and I’m just not as much of a fan as I once was. Her music just got boring to me. So I’m not willing to cough up $102 + another 30% of that in fees and convenience charges to see her live. Plus that weekend is the weekend of Des Moines Pride and there might be some washed up 80s star that I want to see more – although admittedly that would be the night before.

It did prompt me to listen to her latest album, Turn Up The Quiet, on Spotify. I’ll have to admit that I did like it more than I have liked her albums in the last decade or so. I may have to get the vinyl.

Heidi asked me if I would regret it and to that I replied I don’t think so. I’d rather have the $100 Kylie deluxe set and the $60 Belinda Carlisle colored vinyl set.  I can enjoy those in the comfort of my own home and don’t have to go somewhere and be packed in a crowded concert hall with strangers. And maybe, just maybe, because I’m foregoing Diana Krall, I’ll finally splurge on this record (which costs about as much as the Diana Krall ticket.)

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The thrill of the chase

So this is the latest vinyl that I’m desperate to get.

bcvinyl.jpgOut in February, it’s (obviously) a Belinda Carlisle vinyl box set. There’s a black vinyl one as well, but clearly, the colored vinyl is the preferred format. Sadly, it’s limited to 500 copies. And it’s exclusive to Amazon UK.

Oh yeah, and it’s currently unavailable.

My friend John had signed up for e-mail alerts to be notified when it was back in stock and after about 10 or so notifications that resulted in him missing out over and over again, he was able to score one. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I would never get one no matter what, filing it into the same spot in my brain where the janet. LP lives and all those colored vinyl releases of Madonna albums that are exclusive to UK grocery chain Sainsbury’s.

But then I thought, what the heck, I’ll sign up for the e-mail alerts too. And one morning, I got an alert. I was on the site in 3 minutes, but in that time, the box set was grabbed by someone else.  So John and I are going to work together in an attempt to get this for me. He’s going to stay signed up for the alerts and try to get another, while I’m trying to get my first one. Whoever succeeds will tell the other and if we both get one (unlikely), one of us will just cancel the order. It’s only $64, which isn’t bad when you think about it because it’s 4 records in a hard slip case. And they’re colored, which I really love and can never resist.

I haven’t gotten an alert since then, but every e-mail I get now is potentially the one that will give me another crack at it. I think this, by itself, is one of the reasons that collecting records is so much fun – it’s the thrill of chasing down something you want. Whether or not I get it is kind of irrelevant as my life will surely continue without it. But it is fun to try.

I haven’t had another alert since the one the other morning, and John says they were coming in about three times a week for him – many times in the middle of the night and a fat lot of good that does me. I’m also at a disadvantage as I don’t take my iPhone to work so I could potentially miss out completely and utterly, which is why it’s good to have John as a back up.

If I don’t end up with one, no big deal, but I do want one. But just trying to get one is fun. Stressful, but fun.

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Darren Hayes special delivery

This blog is back from the dead.

Today I got a package from my friend Carolyn who lives in L.A. She had messaged me a couple weeks back and asked me if I had various Darren Hayes vinyl, and if not, would I be interested in having it? I answered that I absolutely didn’t have them and absolutely would take them.

The package that arrived was full of Darren Hayes goodies. The first of these was the 7″ gold vinyl single of “Stupid Mistake.” There are only 500 copies of this single in the whole world and now one of them is mine.  As is the case with most dark colored vinyl, you kind of have to hold it up to the light to see the true color.

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The next item was the super deluxe limited edition of Darren’s 2011 album Secret Codes & Battleships. It contains so many things I have yet to scratch the surface of everything included. First off, the CD version of the album is included as is a second disc of bonus tracks and demos. The vinyl version of the album is also there, this time pressed on a gorgeous purple vinyl. There’s also a 32 page book in full color, and a limited edition lithograph – one of four included in this set.  All of this is housed in a hard slip case.

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But wait! There’s more!

She also threw in two signed tour books. I’ve never had a chance to see Darren Hayes live, and I don’t think it will ever happen now that he’s pretty much retired from music (Secret Codes & Battleships, now 7 years old, was his most recent album), but these are cool and the fact that they are signed makes them just that much cooler.

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And because she somehow knew that I had never seen Darren live, she included the DVD of The Time Machine Tour.

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I am so grateful that Carolyn thought of me when she was looking for a new home for these items – and I thought I was “just” getting the records. It’s good to have friends. I promise I will treat them well because they are worth a pretty penny on the secondary market – not that I would ever sell them.

So tonight I’ve been listening to them, because you know me, records are meant to be played, not just placed on a shelf or left in their shrink wrap forever. Maybe someday, if I’m lucky, I can get Darren Hayes to sign my Secret Codes & Battleships deluxe box set, but that would require me getting myself to L.A.! (well, and many other pieces would have to fall into place as well, none of which are very likely.)

 

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