Life is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone.

This is the second installment on albums that changed my life. For your consideration:

I recently told my friend that I'm needy
. I'm surprised I had to tell her this as I have actually said the phrase "pay attention to me" out loud, many times, to her. Anyway, it got me thinking about needing and how sometimes needing is the same as taking and if I'm taking, am I giving too?

These are big thoughts, I know so I've given it a whole day and I've decided that I do give. I know enough to understand when someone is saying something important. When that time comes, I am an excellent listener who tries not to interrupt with my own stories. Also, I have a plethora of sayings that are sure to cheer you up. But when all else fails, when someone is inconsolable, I have a secret weapon: I dance. If I am dancing, it's usually to keep someone else from crying. I dance magnificently.

All of these thoughts reminded me of a time, almost a decade ago now, when I was really low. It was after a bad breakup. Not just "eat a carton of ice cream" bad but like "someone should call the cops" bad. Anyway, after the break up, she got to keep almost all the friends by moving in with them. My best friend moved to France around the same time and I was kind of dating, but in a seriously disastrous way that broke my heart worse than the break up with the girlfriend. Basically, with the exception of Regina, who is my life-long friend as a result of sticking by me in that time, I was alone. Not "clear my head" alone but like "drink a six-pack by myself every night" alone. "Alone" alone.

After the break-up/move-out, I had to pick up a weekend job to keep up with higher rent, which meant I was working seven days a week. Of course, I caught a cold and kept it for months. I would come home from work, drink while watching t.v. and fall asleep on the couch until 5:30 am the next morning, when I would start again. Sometimes I didn't have money to eat but there was always money for beer. I did this for six months.

My biggest comfort and my biggest enemy at the time was the puppy the ex-girlfriend had given me for my birthday the previous summer. We named her Vina, though I had wanted to name her Lucy. Vina ate my apartment. Every day I would come home to what had previously been a chair, a couch cushion or a stairwell landing to find it strewn about in a million pieces. I sprayed every piece of furniture with watered-down Tabasco sauce but nothing stopped her. After a while, I stopped cleaning and left it like that, layer upon destroyed layer. Like most things when you're depressed, it wasn't a priority.

Truly, it wasn't Vina's fault. I was a bad dog-mom for obvious reasons. But at night, she would curl up with me while I sniffled in my cold, damp bedroom and that was nice to have. It's nice when someone loves you like that, without all the judging and telling you to stop drinking. Still, I knew I was in trouble. Things were headed down a dangerous path and there was some concern on my part as to how I was going to get up.

One night, Regina left her cds at my house. Vina of course chewed at the vinyl book but was unable to get to those cds (way to buy brand-name, quality merchandise Regina). After wrestling the book away from Vina, I took a look at the cds inside. I wasn't sure what I was looking for but when I saw Madonna's Immaculate Collection, I put it on. I got up off the couch. I danced. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I was desperate to be reminded of something else.

My routine changed from then on. I would still drink and sleep but instead of watching t.v., I danced to Madonna. Every single night. Vina never much cared for dancing and she would stare at me vacantly as I jumped off couches, threw myself on my knees, pulled out my best moves to Holiday. I strutted to Papa Don't Preach. I'd wrap my arms around myself to Crazy For You, like you'd do when you were a kid pretending that someone else was dancing with you. To this day, I know not only the words to every song, but every inflection, every sigh, every "oh, baby".

My health got better slowly. Eventually, I borrowed a shop vacuum and sucked up the mess, foam chunks flying up the hose and into the chamber with a satisfying thunk. I learned how to lay carpet, stain woodwork, and sew, basically re-assembling that apartment in time to move out. I got our damn deposit back too. The whole thing. When the landlord called me about his suspicions, I had a story for every one. The carpet looked fresh because someone had spilled wine and we had steam cleaned it too well, not because the dog had dug a hole and the carpet was brand new. No dog lived at that house. Somebody had tried to move in with a dog but we kicked them out a month later. Lies flew out of my mouth without even having to think about it. It scared me, these new skills. But I embraced them, packed them up and put them in a box to use later.

Did Madonna save my life? It's hard to say. The thing about Madonna is that she's not the best singer and she knows it. But she's smart enough to realize that it's not about talent, it's about determination and the understanding when all else fails, you can always dance. It's all I have to give. Touch me once and you'll know it's true.


The Bay Bridged and The Heated make a connection

Please note that The Heated has been featured in the May edition of The Bay Bridged Monthly Mix. I am so very pleased. They chose Hot Bastard! for their mix and it just makes me happy to have my stuff getting out there. Then I was able to book two more shows at El Rio and it's just been a good week.

The picture below was taken last summer at what Nevada City kids call "the river". Those wacky Nevada City kids, man. They're the best. Anyway, the picture has nothing to do with The Bay Bridged, it just reminds me of summer which is coming soon. There was a bridge nearby though... and naked gay chicks (you can see them over my shoulder in the water). Summer is awesome.


That's what I call "shuffle"

I've been purchasing a lot of music lately. I'm not sure why. You'd think with the whole musician thing, I'd be buying music all the time but I'm also a cheapskate so... I've noticed that my selections are a bit on the schizophrenic side. Here's what I'm rocking (in order of when I bought it with most recent first):

The Sundays - Just one song though. I was having this nostalgic longing.
The Stone Roses - The self-titled album. I received a copy of this album on my 16th birthday. That's a good album, one that follows you so long.
Guns N' Roses - I bought some of their greatest hits. This was actually a request from my nephew who was digging some Weezer last time I saw him. I told him I would burn a cd of Weezer for him and he said,"Can I get some Guns N' Roses too?". You know I'm a good aunt. Plus, Guns N' Roses had some hits.
New Buffalo - This woman (Sally Seltmann, a.k.a. New Buffalo) wrote 1,2,3,4. Maybe you've heard that little ditty performed by Feist? Maybe. I've checked a few songs of New Buffalo's out and liked them so I decided to take a chance on Somewhere, anywhere. Admittedly, it took a few listens but now those songs are lodged, hard. Beautiful.
Cheap Trick - Ok, I only bought I Want You To Want Me and I listen to it in the morning before I go to work. Some things can't be explained, such as, why I love the hell out of that song.
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan - Dude, I'm Mexican y a veces necesito la musica de los mariachis. The passion with which the Mexicans celebrate their heartbreak is unparalleled.
Radiohead - The fervor around their giving it away for free pretty much overshadowed the fact that this is one hell of an album. Of course, I bought it because I am a damn sucker who takes too long to get on anything. Story of my life.



It may not be the finest flyer I've made but I'm under the gun here, people. I got word this week that my proposal to play a free show at El Rio has been accepted but I only have one week to promote. El Rio is located at 3158 Mission Street between Cesar Chavez and Valencia in San Francisco California. C'mon, it'll be fun and you'll be annoyed you're back at work after the three-day weekend. Extend the party, booze hounds!


Frets dressed

I took my guitar in for a tune up. It took two and a half weeks but now that I have it back, it plays beautifully. They shined it up too. Since the album is done, I've had a bit more free time and got around to some writing today. Sometimes I forget melodies overnight and it really sucks to write a song then realize the next day you've forgotten it so now I record them straight away. They're not great recordings, but they're good enough to hear the melody.


My luck is changing

A few weeks ago, it was a Tuesday morning, I walked outside my front door and as I was closing the gate behind me (yeah, I have those bars over my windows and a front gate... this here's a city with people who like to urinate in public) I noticed this bag of pennies tucked underneath the gate.

I love change... all change: I don't mind pennies. In fact, I have an antique glass water bottle, one of those giant sizes for water dispensers like you've got in the office and I fill it with change. One 16th of that puppy can yield a few hundred bucks. Don't throw those pennies away. That's my savings plan.

p.s. I will be sending this picture to Found Magazine.
p.p.s. There was a letter on Found that changed my life that I can't find again. Please send it to me.


Turtle Hill

Here is where I went not this last weekend, but the one before that. I grabbed a pretty girl and headed up a big hill with a picnic. Or she packed the picnic. Either way, I found Turtle Hill.