Author Archives: Toi Brownstone

I’m not a mum, so deal with it.

As you know I’m single and don’t have any kids of my own. At this point in my life I’m 80% sure I will never be a mum. I don’t feel frustrated about that, because considering my terrible love life, I’ve never had the urge to have a baby. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but never been obsessed about looking for life fulfillment through raising one. Never felt this biological call I think. Probably if the chain of events would have been different, I’d be a proud mum nowadays. Who knows… Truth is this has never bothered me at all. I’ve been able to carry out lots of things that, with such huge responsibility, I would have never had the chance, so I don’t regret my current situation at all.

However I’m at this age that many people are new parents. Decades ago, it was at your 20s when you were having babies, and reaching 30 you were considered some sort of outcast or freak if you weren’t living in a couple raising kids. Society has changed, comfort and leisure have won consideration, with people feeling like enjoying travelling, going out or living free without additional burdens, and on the other hand the current expensive way of life, have delayed parenthood to the 30s, the decade I’m about to finish.

Thus let’s say until 2-4 years, I was working with single people, or at least with no kids. Barcelona is said to decrease the birth rate, however I see lots of couples assuming the step in their commitment adding new members to their new and small family. Many of them because they are well settled at work, feeling comfortable enough to assume this new episode. It’s quite reasonable and I feel very proud of my friends in that situation, moreover, I love my friends’ kids.

marge and maggie

I work at an office where most of my colleagues have kids. Well, together with another girl I’m the exception. That wouldn’t be anything extraordinary if I wasn’t starting feeling marginalized.

Long time ago I wrote a piece for Norma Jean Magazine talking about the silent privileges of the parents at work, which made some noise among readers, causing extreme reactions. I was supported by many people and criticized and even insulted by others. The reason was that I affirmed that due to their obligations with kids, parents had some sort of advantage and an off the record law protecting their interest over single or non parent coworkers, especially related to holiday periods, illnesses and leaves. Of course you cannot speak in general, and that wasn’t my target (I didn’t want to offend anyone) at all, but everybody can read what anyone writes from a different point of view, but I hate those people abusing of their status for their benefit.

Leaving all the holidays subject, because at the end of the day I prefer taking days off for attending festivals,  or whatever I want, out of the typical hot season, for the first time in my life, like I’ve advanced, I feel marginalized.

Does parenthood provide you of the ultimate truth and wisdom? Should I be interested in the different textures of poo? Is my life more frivolous because I don’t sacrifice it on behalf of a kid? Let me answer for you: NO, NO and NO.

Everything is based on choices. I chose not to have children because I reckon it’s more serious than we think. I’ve seen women getting pregnant to chase a guy, and live in permanent frustration, with constant problems and difficulties because that love story was a failure, and at the end of the day a kid wasn’t a fixed and unbreakable contract which granted happiness in couple. I don’t want that in my life, and I don’t want to be a bad mother, projecting my shit on my son. My work pals decided the other way. Some were lucky because their relationships are serious, well based on, deep and constant. Some weren’t because everything was just an illusion in the heat of the moment. Everybody has to carry their emotional bags the way they can, but since I don’t judge, I don’t wanna be judged or just categorized as insensitive or selfish.

Sometimes these mums at work make me feel as if I don’t give a shit about kids sick, or learning to walk and talk. As if they thought I don’t belong because I don’t have anything in common with them, or at least as important. I cannot talk about poo, vaccines, kindergarten teachers or meals from my personal experience, obviously, but I listen and learn from what others share with me, so I can give my input, but that is not valid for them because “you don’t really know what this is like”. On the other hand, since their kids have become the center of their lives, the rest doesn’t matter, so at the end of the day they’re basically talking about the same. I’m sorry but it’s boring. If being a mother means I have to give up everything I love, passions and hobbies, and just being focused on a human being, I’m afraid that’s not my war.

I know close friends who are mothers and they are able to converge motherhood, friendship, couple, their personal life, and work, and many other things, and they’re good at everything. They can care for friends and even though there’s a lot of sacrifice and hard work, they don’t feel overwhelmed by their new situation and keep up with their previous life. I feel part of their experience, I fit in without feeling like forcing them to take me in their lives, and they respect and care about me and my stuff.

kid at festival

What the difference between case A and case B mothers? I might sound very harsh right now, but I honestly think the first ones never had a plenty life and raising a kid is some sort of relief for their frustration, with lots of dependence involved, and probably the result will be a disaster when those children grow up, become individuals in possession of their own will, and start feeling detached from their protective wings, because they won’t know what to do with their empty lives.

So dear supermoms at my office, I’m glad you’re leaving me aside because now I know I don’t want, nor won’t be like you, and it’s a huge relief.

London Chronicles: Shitty Sunlight.

I don’t usually watch too much TV because the menu is basically stinking shit. Rarely I can find a film without ads, or some interesting documentary, and at the moment Spanish pay per view channels are not as good as Americans, thus at the moment I won’t pay for TV, I’m not so interested in soccer and sports in general, and I prefer paying for watching movies online or at the theaters. However sometimes before watching a series or something on my own, I usually switch on TV, also to remember the reason why I don’t actually watch it, and it takes me more or less 2-3 minutes to realize. Well, last night I found out Harry Brown was broadcast, rough story.

Most   British drama films based on people’s miseries, a quite common realistic genre, quite exploited, take place in low and poor areas, and the atmospheres depicted are decadent, depressive, dysfunctional and usually deeply marked by domestic violence, addictions, unemployment…

This film reminded me of another drama named Fish Tank, and the location for the story, Chadwell Heath, a suburban area of East London.

chadwell heath

Ok, and why am I talking about this place? Well, because I used to go there from Monday to Friday for 6 fuckin’ months to work at a huge industrial laundry named Sunlight.

Even though for many people autopilot jobs are easy to handle, with a fixed shift, including a horrible alarm to tell you to get the hell out of the place, with no big concerns nor responsibilities and your wages on a (weekly in this case) basis, it was a horrible nightmare to me.

How did I end working there? Well, that’s the typical story of a lazy girl who thought there were lots of job vacancies in the middle of July, instead of looking for something at the beginning of the season, as the rest of the world usually does. Obviously all the fast food restaurants and cafes were full, and my boyfriend was working at this place where there was a free spot for me, so I accepted, thinking that’d be a temporary job until I was coming back to Spain to resume my studies, with some cash in my pocket. That was my initial plan, but it changed.

Thus, from October to February I worked for this horrible company. The bosses were so damn ignorant they thought I was required a work permit, so I was treated like a low profile immigrant, and it took me several weeks to get my wages paid.

Whenever I watch these movies I was mentioning before, I remember people working there. Only the old ladies used to treat me kind and with respect, feeling interested in me as a human being, and not as an overalls folder. People in my age regarded me as an exotic freak, thought they were superior and never tried to mix up or befriend me. I never had a beer with any co-worker during that time. My beginnings in the big city were tough, boring and frustrating.

Behind the Scenes at Ellis Hospital

My first days at the laundry were depressive. People used to speak in that cockney, close and insane accent that I love now, impossible to understand at first, with all those gottal stops, and people saying  /’mait/ instead of /’meit/ and pronouncing f instead of /θ/ as in /’maefs/ for maths and /’faenks/ for thanks. They used to laugh at my accent, wondering why I had such a posh style, and how I had learnt it.

I realized that cultural classicism actually exists, when you trying to create some boundaries and get closer to the youngest people, asking for their music taste and other hobbies. I never asked about music because we were listening to Kiss FM everyday and stuff was crap, and I could see they were consumers of radio hits, so I didn’t bother to try, but tried to approach a girl, Kelly, asking her about literature. Her reply was astounding: ‘Oh no! I’m not into reading because I find it very difficult and it’s very hard for me to understand. Reading is for posh and  old people’. Enough said, huh? I threw the towel and went on with my life as the misfit at the factory, except for the old grannies who were absolutely adorable to me…and were readers.

Thus, I was surrounded by guys who only cared for soccer, the pub in the corner and the page 3 Sun girls, and by girls whose main target was to find a boyfriend and get married quick, waiting for the weekend to go to the mall … and the pub.

I didn’t feel like judging them. I was just shocked we were so different, and for the first time since I was 11 I couldn’t fit in particular environment, and even though I didn’t want to be part of them, I was having a bad time for being so isolated. I was a minority. At the end of the day, it’s all about socializing, communicating and exchanging ideas.

hangers

6 months I spend working for Sunlight, feeling bored and alienated. I was assigned as supervisor of a hanger machine, and was allowed to use the industrial irons for the aprons, because I WAS SMART! Honestly, at some point I thought my brains were shrinking. Thank God I had a calendar full of shows to attend, and books to sink in which made me forget about that shit.

Can you imagine how I felt when I got a job downtown and handed my resignation letter to my stupid drunk boss? That was winning Lottery!

I don’t regret that time though. I reckon it t was one of the greatest lessons life taught me which made me swallow my youthful pride, and start seeing things in the real way.

Fuckin’ Sunlight Services! Last time I was in London I saw one of their lorries and I almost puked. UGH!

Events occur in real time.

This is my new addiction.

24: season seven logo.

It’s taken me ages to face 24. Probably I disliked the idea it was massively broadcast by one of the Spanish TV channels I hate most, and thought this wasn’t to be a smart series, but something for popular consumption. Well, I’m not gonna theorize about the plot and the quality, and to be honest I must admit thanks to its dynamism it’s actually a series looking for major audience. It’s easy to understand, and easier to get hooked to it, and in terms of sensitivity it doesn’t mess with your head, which is something good sometimes.

After enjoying this massive wave of emotions in the shape of Six Feet Under (I gotta write something about The Fishers, most def), I needed something easy.

For 2 years I’ve had the complete series at home, because a very enthusiastic friend lent it to me (Mayra, I swear I’ll return them in perfect condition), but I always had something more attractive to watch so I left it aside. Probably the pressure of some friends reckoning Jack Bauer was definitely worth it made me approach it this time.

jack-bauer

The expression ‘dog day’ should be changed to ‘Jack Bauer day’, as this poor CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent is deep in shit from minute one for 24 hour episodes, trying to save America and the world. He’s a fuckin’ hero who’s able to do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission, risking his own life constantly.

I’ve just finished season 2, at marathon speed. If I have a day off without socializing, I easily watch 8-10 episodes nonstop, because I need to know what comes after. I don’t think I could stand following the seasons in real time. I’d probably get anxious. So many things going on…

The funniest thing of all is that it’s always the same pattern, but you don’t get bored with so much repetition. There’s a major threat and Bauer is summoned to try to sort the shit out, and an insane and reckless race starts. He’s got allies and enemies, even inside the bureau. Several people spend all the time in close spaces, Almeida and President Palmer for instance, while Jack and his daughter get constantly in trouble and move from one place to another. How many times will Kim Bauer get kidnapped through the series? How many times is she about to get raped? How many times does Jack get hit, is injured or tortured? Impossible to count.

kim bauer

By the way, thank God she’s not my daughter. I’ll kill her myself! How can she get in trouble so easily?

Of course if you pay attention, and considering these 24 episodes cover a whole day, there are lots of inconsistencies and free licenses you don’t get too serious because the balance is positive, but clothes, makeup, injures cured, wired places and , sound speed trips are constant, and don’t forget nobody eats nor sleep at all. Ah! Jack Bauer never experiences one of the worst current problems in the first world: his phone never runs out of battery.

Jack Bauer is the 21st Century Chuck Norris, not so strong and muscled, and definitely not so ridiculously kitsch, but at the end of the day he’s unbeatable, and that’s what counts.

Jack, you saved senator Palmer for being assassinated, the city of L.A from the devastating effects of a nuclear bomb, and prevented America to invade 3 middle-East countries, which would have caused World War III. Not bad in just two days. Let’s see how you handle next.

I’m federal agent Jack Bauer, and today is the longest day of my life.

Album of week 42: BEAUTY & RUIN

Can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. Not very happy, honestly, but it’s been a weird period with lots of events which have kept me from writing, among them my birthday celebration, a good bunch of shows, and why not? I couldn’t find the proper moment or subject to talk about. Writer’s block again? Maybe, dear friends, since I do this for pleasure, and I got plenty of responsibilities in the real world, I rather write whenever I feel like than feeling I’m obliged to, posting not very interesting shit. Not that what I tell here is gonna change the world, by all means, but at least I wanna feel comfortable with the stuff I pour here. Hope you understand my point.

This been said, I’ve been listening to lots of good stuff lately, new and old, but I reckon I’ve discovered my top album of the year: Beauty & Ruin.

bob mould

I’ve never been into Hüsker Dü, in fact I got my first copy of one of their albums, Candy Apple Grey, a couple of months ago, and it was ok, but not as brilliant as Bob Mould’s last work. There isn’t any specific reason for that, I just didn’t get acquainted with the band back in the day, and to be honest I thought their stuff was more prog or hippier. You know, the same old shit, you can never judge a book by its cover, or at least you shouldn’t.

I always pay attention to inspiring musical heroes and their comments on other artists’ work, and this time Ryan Adams  seemed to be very enthusiastic about this album, and Off! Last release, Wasted Years. I tried both and didn’t get disappointed but the opposite. Likely I’d write about OFF! Later. Moreover, Adams appears on the video of Mould’s song ‘The War’, and there’s a very symbolic scene in which Mould seems to release the baton (two medals) of this alternative punk rock movement, as his direct inheritor. I did like the concept, especially after listening to Adams’ punk ep 1984 and his last album, and made me feel that something good is gonna take place, musically speaking.

Beauty & Ruin is basically a compilation of vitality and energy. Straight punk rock, solid guitars, songs with catchy chorus, wonderful melodies, and quite revealing lyrics. Seems that Mould had a bad time struggling with his homosexuality on one hand, and has been trying hard to overcome the legacy of his former band  Hüsker Dü aiming to show the world his talent as one individual. It must be hard to live under the shadow of a legendary band which split up almost 30 years ago, don’t you think?

Anyway, since the moment you put the needle on the vinyl and the hypnotic and atmospheric ‘Low Season’ starts, you enter into a world of pleasure, simple, easy and beautiful, and you fall deep into it. Curiously what happened to me the first time I listened to Beauty & Ruin was that I was invaded by some warm familiar feeling, not as if it was a copy of something, but a summary of the sounds I’m currently looking for nowadays. Energy and melody, easy to listen, easy to like, and easy to memorize.  I love walking on the streets on my way to the office singing these songs. They give me enough strength and good vibes to face one of those days.

Some say his previous album Silver Age is even better. I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet but since I’m so enthusiastic with this last release, of course I will dig. If only it’s a good as this one I might start considering to dedicate some time to this prolific and talented artist.

My first Roller Coaster

September 2014 is being weird. Trying to get back to my routines, fortunately gigs are back and at this point heat is weakening and days are getting shorter. However my office is a mess, and we haven’t yet overcome the fucking summer peak season, so I’m doing lots of overtime and I’m working frenetically, so I feel tired and frustrated quite often lately, and it’s hard to keep this thing updated, which annoys me even more. Really, can’t wait to see the day everything goes back to normality, at least temporarily.

Few weeks ago I said I felt like going to an amusement park to spend any random day. I was thinking of the typical shabby local park in my hometown, or perhaps Tibidabo in Barcelona. You know, beers, carousels, boats, candy floss, the labyrinth and the fun house… as if I was 10 years old again. In my mind it was a very simple plan. I only needed the right company.

Partners in crime

Partners in crime

There are some times I think people don’t pay me attention, but when my friend Jack reminded me of this wish I expressed out loud, I realized how wrong I was. He told me he wanted to visit this huge amusement theme park in Salou, Port Aventura, the most popular in Spain after almost 20 years since its opening, and one of the most established in Europe. I was so surprised I confessed him that I had never had a ride on a rollercoaster, and that I felt like trying at least once in my life, but of course I was thinking of some humble and harmless ride. It didn’t him much to convince me to go to this hue park with him, and he even set the day, September 24th, as our target. Being local holiday in Barcelona on the second half of September would grant less visitors and nice and warm weather. Everything sounded perfect, so we went ahead.

The last week before the event was a bit distressing due to tons of work and a very changeable weather, which might ruin our plan. We couldn’t decide whether going or not until 12 hours before catching the train. Everything done at the very last minute.

We got really lucky. It was a magnificent day in all senses, too damn perfect.

It’s hard to choose the first attraction to start with, especially when I was a virgin on the subject. Many people was stuck in the first tough one, and there was a 90min queue, so we decided to move forward, and start in the typical water ride which gets you  completely soaked (thank Universe for not wearing a white tee!), especially when you are sit in the first row. It was sunny and warm so to be honest, the shower was even a reward., but my hair was a mess for the rest of the day (I couldn’t care less).

shambala2

We decided to go towards Shambala, aka the expedition to the Himalayas, and wait for half an hour. In brief, this is Europe’s highest (78m) and fastest (134 km/h) hyper coaster, and that was to be my christening in roller coaster. Cool, huh? Not for me, really. I was observing the fall and it seemed that the angle was so vertical (actually 86º) I started to shit on my pants and get nervous, so I had a beer. Jack adores roller coasters, but he hadn’t tried this one either and seemed to be excited yet relaxed. So the ride started and the wagon went upwards. It seemed like an eternity, and I took a watch around and saw how beautiful Tarragona port was, but at the same time I was very concerned about the height, till we reached the top, and all of a sudden

Zzzzzzzzzzzzuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm!

Holy shit!!! that fall was endless (apparently it has also the longest drop in Europe) and I had this funny feeling in my lungs, and then it went up, and down, up and down, quite violently and I couldn’t do anything but cursing yelling. My feeling was that the action was quite long (3 minutes ride), I never felt I was going to die or end up smashed against the floor. The fear was what if I couldn’t handle that overwhelming body feeling. When we to left the wagon I was shaking, my legs were weak and I was laughing and crying hysterically. I know my friend didn’t expect such reaction and got frightened not knowing if I was ok. My inner self was questioning if I could spend the whole day having these feelings, and then I went for another beer, to calm down. It worked. As usual.

dragon khan

I’m not gonna recall all the roller coasters I rode, but believe me I had a great time and even though I was yelling all the time. I had a crush on Dragon Khan’s loops, rolls and its 8 inversions. In fact it was so dynamic I flipped. It was fuckin’ awesome. And Furious Baco, an intamine accelerator coaster, was absolutely insane. That feeling of being propelled from 0 to 135km/h in just 3.5 seconds was one of the most exciting ones ever.

furious baco

Thus it took me almost 38 years to realize that I like roller coasters. Never too late they say. It’s similar to my taste for horror movies. I got scared, I shit on my pants easily, but when the tension ends the relief invading my body is one of the greatest pleasures I can enjoy, and the final conclusion is that I’ve had a great time. The difference is that with roller coasters I can’t stop yelling and laughing with every ride.

It was one of the most perfect days of 2014, with the best company.

There’ll be a next time, I swear.

Ryan Adams is finally here.

The drought and the break have finally come to an end. After 3 years without entering a studio for recording a new album, even though the word says that he actually had a record in hands but it was so sad and devastating Adams didn’t endure the idea of publishing it, the king of the pinballs is releasing his 14th album today.

ryan adams ryan adams

With a simple noisy shot of his face with long messy hair on the cover (a selfie, perhaps?) and his name as the title of the album, Ryan Adams hit the street, and after listening to it compulsively in streaming, everybody knows he’s made it again. Can we call him genius and give him the credit he’s been working on all these years? I think it’s time to accept him as one of the most prolific and talented artists in the century, recalling his past, not as a curse anymore, but  as a step necessary for him to find his right path, not only in the artistic sense but also in the personal field.

Adams has always made us aware of his age. ‘1974’, the album 29, and constant references, as something he takes very serious. In 2 months he’ll be 40, the starting point for the middle-age in mankind, being the artist fully aware of that. He’s trying to keep his stability under control, and to manage to balance his personal life with his work and passions.

The creation of Pax-Am goes beyond his own analogical recording studio. It’s the accomplishment of a lifetime dream, and the sheltering space where he can develop everything’s inside his head, keeping things under control, and feeling safe.

Ryan Adams recovers the pain of the heartbroken, but this time leaves the gloomy and emotional sounds we were so used to when he was playing with The Cardinals aside, to feature rough and constricted guitars, and a toughened sound, which constantly makes you think of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in their first years. the greatness here is that he’s truly inspired by this band, together with Bruce Springsteen or even The Replacements, but he manages to go through this successfully without the listener thinking he might be copying.

ryan adams 2014

The more I’m listening to this album the more I’m having a crush on it, no doubt you’ll read about this album by the end of this year because at this moment I can’t get out of my head songs like ‘Gimme Something Good’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Shadows’ or ‘Tired of Giving Up’. Catchy chorus, simple structures, and a straight and harder sound. Adams has finally made a classic rock album without pretending to be something he’s not, nor trying to amuse or impress but his fans and himself. And he’s succeeded.

Is this the beginning of a new era? Will he keep working on this style? At least it seems that he’s very proactive and in the mood for doing stuff and releasing singles. We’ll see…

If you got time and mood for reading about this workaholic nowadays I strongly recommend you to read At home, kinda , with Ryan Adams, an article written by Bob Mehr  for Buzzfeed music I’ve read today. It gets you a good picture of what Adams has gone through in the last 20 years, helps you to get closer to both the person and the artist, and encourages you to forget his messy and rebellious past. I’m positive it’s one of the best pieces I’ve read on this musician.

Aaah! Can’t wait for my vinyl <3

Here today…

Today I’ve received another reminder on how short life is in the shape of bad news related to a close friend’s health. These reminders come unexpectedly and usually in an awkward moment, and usually leave you in a state of shock.

Yep. Definitely ‘shock’ is the word to define how I’m feeling right now. After receiving the news and swearing a couple of times, I haven’t been managed to express nor develop the mix of feelings and impressions struggling inside my head. I’ve been about to cry, or experience a violent physical outburst, but I haven’t reacted yet to an uncertain future caused by a radical change of scenario.

I’ve been on the phone with different people. Some very close, others just acquainted. Basically I’ve spent my evening on the phone, and up to this moment when I’ve decided to try doing something more productive or at least more relieving I haven’t been able to focus on any task as simple as playing an album. My head is a rollercoaster.

The expression here today, gone tomorrow is one of these universal facts that hurt for being so brutally straight and honest. I’d like to change it for here today, fucked up tomorrow, because at least it’d mean you still wake up every morning. In any case, this bitchy reminder confirms what should be my/our life philosophy: enjoy while you can and don’t get stuck in shit.

tomorrow may be too late

I know I’ll learn something from this, but it’s sad sometimes certain sad events work as a starting engine to see life from a different perspective and strengthen and improve yourself against adversity.