October 31, 2010


By freak of chance, I just happened to notice that the first post on this blog was made exactly one year ago today. So happy birthday to the blog!

That thought led me to need to review mentally the last 12 months. Yes, I'm that sort of sentimental. Who knew? But I decided to compare my mental state right now (which, admittedly, is a bit altered from normal over the last two weeks... probably something to do with not sleeping) with my mental state of 12 months ago.

12 months ago I was still mad at the universe. Things had started to turn around at that point, but I hadn't really noticed it yet. I was tentatively beginning to let the walls down a bit and let a few people in closer than I'd let anyone in years and form some real friendships, but I still wasn't very sure about the idea. One of my earlier entries in this blog was about my discomfort with crying and excessively emotional people, probably because I didn't have very many emotions of my own yet... I was still mostly numb.

Now I'm alive again. I laugh, I cry, I gossip and giggle with my select few best girlfriends (though most women are still more than I can tolerate, and I think that's just a personality quirk rather than actual damage). I have at least three friends outside my family that I'm comfortable telling ANYTHING to. I'm no longer repulsed by emotional displays... I still hate concocted drama, but again, personality quirk. I still don't feel things maybe as deeply as most people do, but I feel things. Sometimes things don't go the way I would want them to, but now I have the faith that everything will eventually work out for good in the end. My broken pieces are coming together, and I'm excited to see what I look like when everything's done.

Also, 12 months ago my Italian wasn't nearly as good as it is now. I pretty much rock! LOL

Now, with that understanding of myself and my progress, I have a few new projects for myself:

#1) Get rid of the little voice in my head (which sounds a lot like my ex-husband) that always tells me how worthless and stupid I am. It (he) is wrong, and was always wrong. My fault for letting it (him) make me believe.
#2) Discover what I'm passionate about... or if I'm even capable of such. I'm not sure yet if I don't feel things deeply because I'm still healing, or if it's because I just don't. But I think somewhere out there, there might me something that makes me light up. I'm curious to know what it is.
#3) Figure out what I want to be if/when I grow up.
#4) (this is the corny-sounding one) "Dance like no one is watching, love like you've never been hurt." I want to do that... I want to not feel so self-conscious and defensive all the time. I just want to be me.

Last December I did a post about some new year's "suggestions". I did pretty well on most of those, actually. So it's a little early, but maybe these are my "suggestions" for 2011.

Song o' the Day: An Apocalyptica triple-header! Song #1 is "End of Me" by Apocalyptica featuring Gavin Rossdale. Hear/see it here.  Song #2 is "Broken Pieces" by Apocalyptica featuring Lacey Sturm of Flyleaf. Hear/see it here. And finally we get to song #3, "Not Strong Enough" by Apocalyptica featuring Brent Smith of Shinedown. You can hear it here, but all you'll get to see is some album art because there isn't an official video. Yet. I want there to be. ;)

October 28, 2010

Cuando menos piensas, sale el sol....

This is/isn't a review of Shakira's new album, Sale el Sol. I say "is", because I'm going to go ahead and give a quick opinion of the album. I say "isn't" because the meat of the blog post will be after that... skip down a bit, you'll find it. I'll even throw in my usual row of handy-dandy asterisks to help you. But now to the music...

I have to say that the album is much as I thought it would be... closer to old-school Shakira, but with some of the newer elements mixed in. The only track on the album I really don't like is "Lo que más", which is a little too whiny of a love ballad for my sensibilities. "Loca" and "Rabiosa", on the other hand, have been taking turns getting stuck in my head for the nearly a week that I've owned the album. Also the title track, "Sale el sol", but more on that later in the blog.

Overall, this is probably the best album Shakira has put out since Fijación Oral, Vol. 1., and is arguably better than Laundry Service, which had its dodgier moments. Really the last great album from Shakira was Dónde están los ladrones?, and I think we've finally gotten some of that groove back. : )

Semi-permanently lodged in my brain this week has been the title track of the album Sale el Sol. Or more accurately, the first line or two of the chorus. The bit that goes, "Un día después de la tormenta, cuando menos piensas, sale el sol."  Translated (and this is not a literal translation, but a translation that matches the spirit of the phrase, for anyone reading who might happen to be bilingual and say to themselves, "Hey! That's not what that middle bit means!"), this means "One day after the storm, when you least expect it, the sun comes out."

There's a lot of truth in that. We humans sometimes get so caught up in life's storms that we forget that no storm lasts forever (unless you live on Jupiter... the Great Red Spot is pretty close to being an eternal storm). And when the storm is over, the sun comes out. Some of us, though, after spending a lot period of time - years, even - in a storm become almost afraid of the sun. I am one of those people.

I am afraid of happiness. I am afraid to acknowledge that things are going well, because whenever things start going well, I wait anxiously for the other shoe to drop and for the storm to start again, because that's where I'm most comfortable... it's what I know. The sun starts shining on me and I'm continually scanning the horizon for the clouds because they've become like old friends.

Well my friends, the sun is shining on me and has been for a bit over a year now. And despite my searchings I'm having a hard time finding any clouds in the sky, and it seems the sun is determined to shine on even brighter, at least into the foreseeable future. So my proposition for myself from now until the end of the year is to enjoy the sun while it lasts... to accept the warmth without keeping one eye on the horizon. El sol ya salió, and I'm gonna soak it up. : )

Song o' the Day: "Sale el sol" by Shakira, naturally. Though to give everyone a break from Shakira and to do something completely different (llama!) I'll also throw in "Here Without You" by Three Doors Down, which is oddly appropriate right now for reasons I don't feel I'm at liberty to explain. : )

October 3, 2010

Gypsy/Gitana, Romani/Roma

Both of the first two above mentioned things are Shakira songs. They are, in fact, two different language versions of the same song... oddly, the Spanish version is much less irritating. This is probably why the English version is on the last album, but the Spanish version has to be purchased separately off of iTunes.

Speaking of Shakira, she might be about to come out with a decent album, finally! It's been a while... Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 was the last actually GOOD album I can recall - the English-language counterpart Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 was not nearly as good, and we'll try not to speak ill of She Wolf... though it's difficult. The good news is that the new album, Sale El Sol, is about to drop and judging by the first single, Shakira has finally realized that she is NOT Beyoncé, nor should she try to be. The first single, "Loca", is more old-school Shakira but with her current favorite trick of inviting a rapper to join her. It comes out very reggaetón influenced (kind of "La Tortura", but with a rapper instead of Alejandro Sanz), but I can handle that. The song has been WAY stuck in my head over the last few days.

But I have gotten sidetracked. My original point was to bring up gypsies... or the Roma (or Romani) as they prefer to  be called. Turns out, there actually is a thing called "antiziganism", which is to the Roman what anti-semitism is to the Jews. All over Europe (most notably in France, Italy, Serbia and Romania), the Roma are being actively persecuted and even locked in concentration camp type facilities, being denied jobs and housing, and occasionally having their settlements fire-bombed, and for whatever reason this human rights violation seems to be totally cool with the European Union. If you're interested at all in this, check out the website www.mundiromani.com and watch the video "Lashi Vita", for starters. "Lashi Vita" focuses solely on the Roma living in Italy, most of whom are refugees from Yugoslavia. The next vid on that site I plan to watch when I get a chance (the videos seem to run about 30 minutes long, be warned) is "The Last Days of Sulukule", which is about a 1,000 year old Roma settlement in Istanbul that was recently destroyed by the local government of Istanbul. ("Yes, who cares that these people have lived here for a millenium or so? We need a new shopping mall!"... at least that's how I imagine the thinking must have gone.)

Every now and then I get lost in the perilous abyss that is Wikipedia, and end up reading about things like this. In this particular instance, I'm just annoyed with Europe in general for deciding that it's okay to single out one minority, label them criminals, and turn the collective back of the European Union on these people. There are also some pretty good videos about this subject on YouTube... search "I Am a Roma Woman" to see some PSA type things.

Song o' the Day: Today you get two for one! First song is "Loca" by Shakira (see vid here), because it's been in my head a positively wicked amount this week. Second song is "Gitana" by Shakira. The Spanish version wins major points for NOT including the lyric "I might steal your clothes and wear them if they fit me".... I think the Roma might take offense to that. You can see a video for "Gitana" here. I recommend watching "Gitana" first, actually, then watching "Loca". Because then it becomes painfully apparent that Shakira needs a few cheeseburgers. I've never before seen her quite as thin as she is in the "Loca" vid, and I don't think it's a good thing, necessarily.