Helen’s Big Adventure, etc.

Helen’s Big Adventure
Helen had quite the afternoon adventure. Here’s the background. Melissa lined up our go-to babysitter to keep an eye on Millie this afternoon so she could go to school and do some prep work for fall startup. Helen was at Mel’s parents’ house making cookies that she wants to have for a bake sale when we get around to doing our garage sale. Due to the sitter, Mel and I had made arrangements to just meet for dinner, the two of us, after she was done at school. So, Mel is out; Helen’s at the in-laws; sitter had Millie; I figured I’d just take an opportunity to work late and just leave from the office to have dinner with Mel.

Sitter shows up at the house, and Millie wanted to go to the park — so sitter took her to the park. At 3:45 or so, Mel’s dad needed to go downtown for something, so he decided to just bring Helen home on his way downtown. He saw the sitter’s car in the driveway, figured somebody was home, dropped Helen off, and went to his meeting. Only, as you’ll recall, Mel’s at school, I’m at work, and the sitter has taken Millie to the park. We have a Home Alone situation.

So what does Helen do? She walked three blocks to Dave’s Pizza and asked one of the workers in there if she could get a ride to her grandma’s house (which is only another 3/4 of a mile, tops, down the road). She said she thought about just walking all the way back to her grandma’s, but “since Dave’s was open, I just thought I’d see if somebody in there would give me a ride.” Besides, she said she ran all the way to the pizza place and she was tired.

There are so many ways this could have gone horribly, horribly wrong, but in the end everything worked out just fine. Somebody drove Helen to the in-laws, and all’s right in the world. “If that ever happens again, kiddo, just stay here,” I told her.


First day of high school
Megan started high school today; I’m simultaneously proud and completely dismayed to be the parent of a high school freshman. She posted a picture of herself on Facebook this morning, which is as close as I get to sharing in the “first day of school” excitement these days, but it was great to see. Should call her to see how things went; she claimed to not be remotely nervous. I’m sure she rocked it.

I took last week off work; it seemed like the last opportunity to snag a week off for a good long time, and I was probably right. But as a result, I’m completely avalanched by stuff to do right now. I just have an enormous list of projects to get done, but for the last few days I’ve been at work I’ve felt more productive than I have in years. My job feels different than it did at this same time last year — which is a good thing. I’ve got a basically overwhelming volume of things to get done, but in spite of that work is *fun*. I kinda like feeling that way again.

The Birthday Massacre kicks off a tour this fall to support their new LP, “Hide and Seek.” They’re going to be at the Miramar Theater in Milwaukee on Nov. 3 and at Station 4 in St. Paul on Nov. 6. I would really, really love to find some way to get to one of those two shows; they’re the only two that are remotely near here. Just for work reasons and the fact that the St. Paul show is on a Tuesday (and since Melissa’s going to Madonna in St. Paul on the 5th), that Milwaukee date is awfully tempting… Tickets are only $19.50, but it’s like a 550-mile drive. It’d be so fun though…

TBM has been one of my favorite bands for a really long time. I discovered them on MP3.com back in the fall of 2001; I was in the middle of Badness that would eventually turn into a divorce, and I spent a lot of time on that website looking for music that fit my mood at the time — equal parts sad and enraged. I found a bunch of bands there – Evanescence, just before they hit it big and got two singles on the “Daredevil” soundtrack, which in turn led to them eventually selling 7.6 million copies of “Fallen”; Tapping the Vein, a band from Philadelphia that I still totally love, although they haven’t put out nearly enough stuff; Jack Off Jill, which was just a fantastic, loud band (I also really liked the band that spun out of JoJ, Scarling.); and a bunch of others with names like Collide and KidneyThieves. In many instances, the decision process that led to downloading the music didn’t go much beyond this: load band page, see picture of band, think “hey, the lead vocalist is hot,” download songs.

In spite of the totally BS way I found some of those bands, and considering that I downloaded a lot of really horrible music, I actually still listen to quite a bit of the stuff that I found digging around on that website more than a decade ago now. But one band — The Birthday Massacre, this little band from Toronto that wasn’t even signed to a label and was getting the word out by giving its music away for free online — really resonated with me. I can’t even really explain why. I just listened to their stuff and something in my brain said “yep.”  What they did just worked for me. Sometimes I’d feel like garbage, and I’d listen to them and the music would make me feel better — which was exactly what I needed. Sometimes I’d be in a great mood and I’d listen to their music and it’d make me feel even better — which was a great bonus. Sometimes I’d feel like garbage and I’d listen to them and the music would make me feel worse — which was exactly what I wanted. It just worked for me. At one point I even signed up for their message board and posted a couple of things there.

TBM eventually got their record deal, and they’ve put out five LPs, an EP and a live record so far. Their most-recent LP, “Pins and Needles,” came out in September of 2010. I bought it on the day it came out, as I have with all of their stuff since they got signed, started listening to it, and pretty much have never stopped. I listened to it on a loop at work for weeks after it came out – I got up to several hundred plays of every song before I even gave much thought to listening to other stuff on my playlist. There’s never been an album like that for me, and I have listened to tons and tons and tons of music in my life. The 11 tracks on that album are the top 11 songs on my “25 most played” list in iTunes. It was on my iPod, and I listened to a few minutes of it every day on the way to and from work; when I got my iPhone I put it on there and did the same thing. It’s what I listen to on road trips. It’s what I listen to at work. I’ve listened to them so much that Helen loves them now, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

So while I don’t consider myself in the same sort of category as the “OMG UR MUSIC CHANGED MY LIFE” message board commenters, I’ve gotta say that listening to this band helped me feel better during a time in my life that I really, really needed to feel better. And even today, their music just works for me. They’ve got a new CD coming out in October, and I’m pretty sure whatever it is they put on that album will work for me, too.

Getting a chance to see TBM live would be fantastic.

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