Kaniac


Country music. I have loved it. I have hated it. I have tolerated it. I have liked it. I have treated it like the plague. It is an odd relationship we have. When I was fifteen and we lived in Louisiana for exactly ten months… I pledged pure hatred for the genre.

In truth, I didn’t give country much thought at the time. Not really. I was too busy dodging New Kids on the Block mania by taking refuge in Skid Row,
Bon Jovi, Guns n’ Roses, Warrant, Winger, Alice Cooper, Bad English… this list could go forever (Got hair?)… et cetera to worry about what was new and exciting in the world of country. I did, however, bust out the walkman (Yeah, I’m that old.) every weekend as we drove to and fro across The KKK Pelican State in order to drown out my father’s classic country radio tunes with my far louder choices. Bizarre, really, since I used to spend HOURS on the floor of our living room in front of the record player (Ahem. Yeah.) listening to my parents ‘Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits’ LP (Vinyl record, people!). I still know every lyric to those songs.

At the end of that wretched period of time stateside, my parents and I drove from Louisiana to Pennsylvania in order to leave our vehicle and various other not-coming-to-Kenya-with-us items at my maternal grandparents' home. On the way we stopped in Nashville, TN and I spent a drizzly soaked, yet awesome, day jaunting around the Opryland theme park which was still open at the time. That night... we went to the
Grand Ole Opry… and I threw a royal teenage bitch fit about how much I hated country music and how my parents couldn’t force me to sit through an entire show. In fact, the term “bitch fit” is so inadequate for the way I behaved; but, I went… probably with the scent of anger escaping from every pore. I went. I watched. I was converted. I can’t even tell you who performed that night… but it was an amazing experience.

With no time left in the United States I went home to Kenya with no country in my music repertoire. Boarding school, however, with all the sharing of personal belongings, afforded me the opportunity to obtain a fair selection... most from my cowboy boot wearing, Southern boyfriend at the time. Those were the years that the likes of Garth Brooks and Clint Black exploded. I listened. I absorbed. Two years later I returned to the States for college in Arkansas. My newly developed love affair with country music survived about two seconds. The radio waves in the South are saturated with more country stations than anything. S-a-t-u-r-a-t-e-d. It was too much for me. Occasionally, over the next fifteen years, a single would crossover and grab my attention. Rare, but it happened… usually when the country was heavily laced with rock-n-roll. I moved to Virginia for a while and started listening to country again. I moved back to Arkansas and began to strongly avoid it… again. I had this irrational fear of being assimilated into redneck culture if I embraced it too closely.

Enter Christian Kane.

Like much of the planet (or just we Joss Whedon junkies), I first heard Christian Kane sing as the character
Lindsey McDonald on the television show Angel. Instantly I wanted to hear more. Somehow the release of KANE’s first (self titled) album eluded me but I did, eventually, discover that Christian was fronting his own band… and the music was clearly country… and I didn’t care. They were good. Very good.

Currently appearing as Eliot Spencer on TNT’s ‘
Leverage’ (AKA: the best show on television), Christian is still more well known for his acting than his music. Methinks that is about to change. Big time.

In March 2010 Christian Kane released his first solo album and I have but one complaint: It only has five songs. I crave more. While KANE’s music heralded my gradual return to the country music fold there was still no full mainstream country CD I wanted to purchase or (eventually) download. A song here… a song there… never the entire thing, but I seriously love every single song on this album. That’s right. This post is one long rambling music recommendation. How do I put this in the simplest of terms? I know: Go. Buy. This. Album. If you need a taste first then you can download the single ‘The House Rules’ for FREE from Christian Kane’s official
website. Follow the purchase links and you can get a lot of other good stuff (and some of KANE’s music) as well. Hell, if you’re super lazy, plug his name into YouTube and tons of stuff will pop up. UPDATE (12/07/2010): The FULL 'The House Rules' album is available, as of today, everywhere. Go. Get. It. Oh... go for the deluxe version because the bonus track, "Different Kind of Knight", is exquisite.

A bit of personal feeling regarding those original five teaser songs…

Painfully relevant to a period in my life: Making Circles
Inspiring me to follow the rules (Well, #7 at least.): The House Rules
Brings out more emotion in me than I’d like: Let Me Go
Makes me feel sexily patriotic: American Made
Repeat. Every time. Once is never enough: Whiskey In Mind

Oh, and ladies! Yes, the man can sing. Damn, can he sing (and write)! That should be reason enough to heed my advice. If you need more, however, there is the undeniable fact that he’s a manly man who is super easy on the eyes (Read: Smokin’ hot!) and has a speaking voice like liquid sex.

Don't worry, guys. You will like him too. Christian simply delivers damn good rockin’ country.

You should all be convinced now. As for me? I'm listening to, and loving, country music (and not just Christian Kane)... again.

“Well our love story reads like a book of lies.
Good intentions. Better alibis.
No happy endings. No straight lines. No movin' on.
But, no goodbyes.
This bittersweet revelry will be the death of me.”
~Christian Kane, Making Circles


Tea & Questions


I'm not an actor. I don't even play one on TV. :) But, I am a big fan of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’. James Lipton is nothing short of brilliant and those he chooses to interview inevitably appear more human and less celebrity while they are on his stage. Much of his success lies in the simplicity of his approach. This includes the questionnaire he incorporates into each interview. And, as I will never sit on that particular stage, much as I will never have my Proust questionnaire published in Vanity Fair, I shall force my answers upon you here:

What is your favorite word?
Conundrum.

What is your least favorite word?
Never.

“For just when ideas fail, a word comes in to save the situation.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Creatively? Tattoos.
Spiritually? Belief.
Emotionally? Authenticity.

Yes, I know the question elicited one response with that little "or" word. I chose to mentally substitute "and" so I could answer all three.

What turns you off?
Ignorance.

What is your favorite curse word?
Sonofabitch. One word. It’s a trait I share with LOST’s
prolific “Sonofabitch!” user Sawyer.

What sound or noise do you love?
Ocean waves on the shore. Gentle waves. Crashing waves.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Teeth + Metal Fork + Scraping = Give me that fork and let me stab you with it.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Travel show host. Travel writer. Professional traveler… go with the theme. Any of those will do nicely.

What profession would you not like to do?
I’ve worked in hospitality for many a moon and I’ve traveled much in my life. I’m confident that one of the lowest paying yet undeniably worst jobs on the planet is that of a hotel housekeeper.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“Ahhh! Here you are… to argue with me in person; but, here you are nonetheless.” [Dear theology saturated friends… let that go. Just let it go.]

Greatness


"It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home—it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love." ~Margaret Truman

I love you, Daddy!
Happy Father's Day!

Great Nature's Second Course


Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth


It’s no secret that I don’t sleep… or that I haven’t slept well or with any sort of daily consecutiveness in three, maybe four, maybe more, years. It hasn’t exactly been the best of times and I am now a walking encyclopedia of sleep medications, bipolar medications that include sedatives, and all the “what to do” or “what not to do” in order to get better sleep factoids. None of those things has worked. Not one.

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago looking for answers. It had been a while since my last visit. I gave up last year… tired of the medicinal roller-coaster. “As long as my current meds keep my bipolarity under control, I will forego sleep,” I thought. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And, my smart ass general practitioner tried to introduce himself to me like we’d never met… his dry version of long-time-no-see. We talked. I came off all my meds. Yes, even my crazy (Read: bipolar) meds. The lab took a bunch of blood and I waited. A week later I found out that my blood sugar is fine. No diabetes. As is my thyroid. Working great. Good news, I guess, but that means my increasing weight gain is my own damn fault.

Decision: New meds. Duh. This time, however, I have been prescribed an anti-depressant that is also being used as a sleep aid for those who may not even need the anti-depressant part of the drug. Seeing as I’m bipolar it is a bit risky. Even when not medicated, my manic phases are few and far between… years even, but I live in the melancholy. I’ve told Big K (who is now 15) and my boss and my coworkers and a few friends about this change in medication. Accountability. I can usually read the signs, but these people will let me know if they sense my general mood swinging in the direction of Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! One week on the new medication and I’m doing good. I’m sleeping.

The first night I still had a bit of trouble falling asleep. I slept about six hours. Bravo, me. Usually when this happens (6-8 hours sleep in one night), however, I am then awake for three days. Night two: Six hours of sleep. Night three: Eight hours of sleep. It’s been a week and I’ve had seven sleeps… each varying from six to eight hours… and not once have I awoken in the morning feeling drugged or suffering from a Nyquil-esque hangover. Miracles, people. They happen.

Seven nights of good sleep and I’ve made some discoveries:

1. My super trippy dreams of awesomeness are not exclusive to the one or two mediocre sleeps a week I have been averaging over the last few months. Oh, no… they came with me to my new full night sleeps. Night after night. I love them.

2. It doesn’t matter how much sleep, or how sound the quality, I get… it is a physical and psychological impossibility for me to ever be a morning person. I knew this already. This week has simply confirmed that fact.

3. One week of good sleep eliminates years of dark circles.

4. I lost three pounds without effort. Coincidence? I think not. The body must heal.

5. I’m smiling more during the waking hours.

6. I haven’t dreaded facing every single moment of my days. Life isn’t half as bad as it was two weeks ago. Bravo sleep aid. Bravo anti-depressant.

7. My body is developing a schedule. I can actually feel myself becoming mildly tired even before I swallow that perfect little pill. A schedule! I haven’t had any sort of internal body clock in at least ten years.

8. I hate my bed.

9. I actually have… Wait! … What’s this? … ENERGY!

10. I have really, really, really missed sleep. I quite enjoy great nature’s second course.



Photo credit:
Daneli via Flickr.

Blooming?


As I was visiting the parental units this weekend… I went to their church Sunday morning. I’ve met many a person there before but during the “meet and greet” (AKA: “How ya’ll doin’?” or “LOOK! Visitors!!”) portion of the service an elderly lady I have never seen wandered slowly down the row where she stopped and shook the hand of my seventeen year old nephew and then the hand of Big K and then the hand of Little K. “Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.” she said to each of them as she passed by and then, as she reached me... “You are SUCH a beautiful girl.”

I wept.

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” ~Mulan (1998)


Photo credit: wied qirda on Flickr.

La Construction d'une Cathédrale


I was cleaning house (Amazing! I know.) while the TV remained on for background noise. Usually I plug in the iPod to its docking station and groooooove while bearing the drudgery of domesticity; so, having the television on was a bit of an oddity. Somewhere in the white noise of commercial television I heard someone telling someone else it was time to rebuild their lives… and I stopped. Rebuild? I should be rebuilding. Wait. Strike that. I should be building… for the first time.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. I yakkety-yak on and on about changing and making my life better. Somehow though, along the way, I convinced myself that this is it. This is all I’m ever going to get. In my attempts to face the reality of life I found it and then burrowed past it, increasing the pile of rubble underneath me, until true reality became but a notion and jaded cynicism became my reality.

I have been sitting on the rock pile of my life for years. I just sit on it. And, while it may look like rubble, even to me, these rocks are my building blocks. I may not be sitting on marble, granite, or even brick but these stones are mine. They are all I have. Sitting smugly atop the pile in triumph, as a child who has vanquished her schoolmates in a rousing game of King of the Mountain, gets me nothing but a sore ass from perching on the jagged rocks. Trust me, my ass is sore.

I halfway wish I had the luxury of rebuilding. Wouldn’t that be easier than starting from scratch? I don’t know. That’s an irrelevant pondering anyway. Twelve (almost) years of marriage and we built nothing. Forced to work, I did create a business foundation, but at home? Nothing. Occasionally I would manage to start building only to have my efforts torn down around me. We were in survival mode all the time. We existed together but alone or scrapping across the heap of rocks at our feet… one of the two. This is what happens when neither individual is ready for marriage. Our collective rock pile was far too overwhelming, I think.

That was then. Now it’s just me and my boys and this pile of rocks is my own. It’s time to build a cathedral. Not Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, mind you. I don’t have 150+ years to spend on construction, but I do have to be aware that this happens one stone at a time. I will wake tomorrow and much will be the same; however, I hope to look back in a year and see a wall or too… maybe a door. CAUTION: Construction Zone!

Now, where’s my hard hat?

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Photo credit: Matt Andrews Photo via Flickr.

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