It’s Gonna Be a Good Life

2011 is coming to an end, so I thought I would blog about the year that has come to pass.

For the first time in a number of years I can look back at the past year of my life and smile and I can think about the future and be hopeful for what is ahead.

I cannot think of anything notable that happened in the first six months of 2011, but the second half of the year has proven to drastically alter the life I was leading.

On July 6th, I wrote two blog posts, one of which was 27. I was on the precipice of turning another year older. I was reflecting on the state of my life in comparison to the life I’d imagined I’d be leading in my mid to late 20s. I was nearly 27 and my life was not really my own and was nothing as I had imagined. I was determined to make a change, though fearful that I would make this pledge and still not be able to hold true to it and make changes in my life to find some form of happiness.

My first step towards getting what I wanted was to get out there and make an effort. For several years past, due to circumstances I’d resigned to a life of solitude. I rarely left my house (sad I know), never met new people, rarely talked to friends who were living their lives across the province, country and globe. In short I didn’t get out much and I’d made myself a bit of a social outcast and I did not like that version of myself a whole lot.

For at least a year I’d been saying I’d start going to #gdldn and I’d always managed to come up with excuses of why not to, mostly I didn’t have a car or money to get there, which while true, I probably could have found a way around. So on June 6th, the date of my 27 blog I attended my first geek dinner and stretch my comfort zone and attempted to re-engage with the world around me and (relatively) local community. I decided to put real people to the tweeps I’d been following for months and in some cases years.

I have to say I’m really glad that I ventured out to #gdldn that first time, so glad that I have gone back every month since. I have met great people and started to (I would argue) form decent acquaintances and maybe even friendships. A lot of the people I have met inspire me, intimidate me and challenge me to really strive to be the person I want to be. At the same time while these people inspire, intimidate and challenge me, they also make me realize that we all face our own challenges and that no one’s life is perfect and it is okay to not have everything figured out all of the time. So to all of the #gdldn crowd, thank you for making me feel like a part of something good.

That may not be the turning point of the year, but I think it definitely played a part. The other turning point of the year also happened in July. I had been furiously applying for jobs, determined to find something before or shortly after my 27th birthday. There were probably about 6 jobs that I thought might be a good fit. After two strong (in my mind) interviews, I was offered the position of Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre and before the end of July I was in signing my contract ready to start my new job.

Starting August 15th, I was (and am) the Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre. I always said I wanted to find a job that felt right that I could say I love. I’d walked away from a couple of job opportunities because it just hadn’t felt right to me. I wanted a job that I loved, surrounded by good people, because for me that is when I do my best work and am challenged to be my best. After 4 months, I think it is safe to say I have found a job that I love, surrounded by a great team. I remember in previous jobs I’d hit that afternoon wall at about 2pm and be stuck watching the minutes slowly tick by, and that rarely ever happens in this job. I enjoy what I am doing and always have work to be done. I feel like the people I work with value my thoughts and the work that I do and they actually look to me for ideas and answers, which is a great feeling. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to work and that is really all I ever wanted in those three miserable years of job hunting. I wanted a job that I looked forward to going to every day and a job that interested and challenged me. A number of people at work have commented on the fact that I am always smiling or that I always seem to be smiling and I have to say it is easy to smile when you are truly happy in your life and doing something that you love.

I love what am doing at work, but I also love the people who I work with and I say that sincerely. I have made great friendships with a number of people and I would trade my staff for anything. It is easy to do good work when you are having fun and I think we are often having a lot of fun with each other and when we’re not, I think we’re quite good at supporting each other through hard days, or difficult times, which is really nice. I cannot thank my two girls enough for keeping me from being a sobbing mess in the days after I found out someone I’d known years ago had passed away far too young.

I have met a lot of great people this year. My geek crowd, I cannot even begin to name all of you who make me smile each an every month and all the tweets in between. My coworkers, who I would argue in a number of cases are more than just coworkers.

None of these new people though replace the old friends who hold permanent places in my heart, like my best friend. As I write this I’m thinking, was it only this summer he got engaged? I think so! Man seems so long ago. This was great news and I was so happy for him and for his fiancée. Typically I dread weddings (sorry Matt), but the way life has been going, I’m actually kind of looking forward to a wedding (not my own … and oh ya I’m assuming I’m invited!).

The more I write this, the more I realize that it is not going to flow or necessarily make any sense. So I’m getting involved more, attending #gdldn, joined Emerging Leaders (finally only been cyberstalking for three years) and I have found an amazing job with fantastic people!

So what could be better?

Oh ya! Music! First off, I love the John Labatt Centre and Chris Campbell you rock!

Looking back at this year in music I have had the opportunity to attend 7 concerts.

First concert was Soundgarden. JLC gave away a bunch of tickets on Social Media Day and it was fantastic. Took my oldest friend along with me for the ride.

Shortly after that I won tickets for Owl City, but unfortunately could not make it to Toronto Mid-week to attend.

After that I wont tickets to see U2 Live at Rogers Centre on MY BIRTHDAY! Seeing U2 Live was a bucket list item for both me and my sister, so of course I now have the title of best sister ever because I took my big sister with me to see U2 live on my 27th birthday! Can I just say wow?! It was phenomenal. I took a bunch of videos, I believe I posted them on my (under utilized) Google+ account. It was a PHENOMENAL concert.

After that I was selected as a #JLCreviewer for Josh Groban. Unfortunately I came down with a horrible flu bug or something of a similar nature and was unable to attend. Hoping I get another opportunity to be a #JLCreviewer. I was campaigning to be a reviewer for Simple Plan on Feb 20th, but keep reading and you’ll see why I may not need to be rewarded that opportunity and those tickets.

Right after that I found out I’d won front row tickets for the Moody Blues at the JLC. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but as my Dad was/is a huge fan and it was right before his birthday, they made a fantastic present. The concert was in September and while my Mom wasn’t thrilled being front Row my Dad had an Amazing night! So thank you Live Nation Ontario who made that happen!

After winning those tickets and before that concert, the JLC made another dream come true and myself with two friends and my sister with two of her friends … two single gals and four Mom’s went to see NKOTBSB and O.M.G. that was a show to never forget, I mean, I know it is apples and oranges, but the entertainment value of that show rivalled the U2 show that  was just out of this world. I would hazard to say that Donny Wahlberg’s body help to elevate that show to that level. It was music of my childhood and youth and I shared it with my sister and one of my oldest friends and four others. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much, though I’m pretty sure that will change in the coming months.

And now here is the BIGGEST Music news for 2011.

That’s right, I entered a contest to see Marianas Trench live on a lark. Figured what did I have to lose and heck if I won that would be pretty freakin amazing. I didn’t think I stood the snowballest of chances. In fact, I’d forgotten that I’d entered the contest and that there was even a contest. Forgotten until my phone started vibrating the night of Dec 21st and it was a message from a rep at 604 records saying I’d won two tickets to see Marianas Trench stage side and hang out with the guys! O.M.G.! Ya right! I’ve watched the above video about 100 times just to make sure that I didn’t dream it. Now I haven’t talked to the rep yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be at the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, which is featuring Marianas Trench and I will be stage side for the show hanging out with the guys of Marianas Trench, which will be unreal and I sincerely hope I can keep my crush on Mike Ayley under control. As I was saying before I may not need the #JLCreviewer opportunity for this concert, but please keep my name in the running until I hear for sure that that is the show I will be attending. Oh and I will still be reviewing that concert if I am there, likely from stage side and hopefully they will let me take pictures!

So lets see, social life, heading in the right direction, job, is excellent, my 2011 concert going experiences have rocked and I have Hedley and Matt Nathanson (ok Kelly Clarkson, but he is opening for her) already set in 2012. And maybe (que long ramble of a run on blog sentence), possibly, there may be a guy in my future, maybe, who knows, there is a possibility of one, we will see, that is all I will say.

2011 has gone my way and 27 has certainly started to transform my life into everything I expected it to be by my late 20s. I still have 7 months left of 27 and I am determined to make the most of them. 27 is going to be my year, the started to everything I ever wanted!

So here’s to all that 2011 gave me and here is to everything 2012 has in store, I cannot wait to see it all unfold!

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I want to be a #JLCReviewer on Feb 20th for Simple Plan (and guests)

1st – I apologize for the lack of blogging as of late, the new job has been keeping me slightly busy and my personal blogging has taken a back seat.

2nd – I know that this is a wee bit early, but I am passionate about being the #JLCreviewer for the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, so I thought I would start now. Well actually I started with a tweet last week.

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of Simple Plan and I’ve been a fan for all 12 years.

I remember when “I’m Just a Kid” came out. I fell in love with their sound and their lyrics. I am a HUGE fan of Canadian music, so when I find a Canadian band I love, I cling to them. The majority of the concerts that I have been to have had Canadian Acts headlining or, in the case of Simple Plan in the early years, opening.

Simple Plans’ first album “No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls” live in my my CD player (yes in 2002 we used CD players and discman’s) and was on constant repeat. Simple Plans’ albums for me are albums that I love every track. I of course was a huge fan of the released tracks “I’m Just a Kid”, “Addicted”, “I’d Do Anything” and of course “Perfect”.

In the summer of 2003, less than a year after the JLC opened, the JLC hosted Labatt’s hometown bash. My sister bought me two tickets for my birthday and I went to the concert with my best friend from high school, along with my sister and her now husband who had also got a pair of tickets. Simple Plan was an opening act for this show. They were still fairly new on the scene and a lot of the crowd was at the show to see Nickleback and Korn. I was up singing along to every single song. My sister, through a texting contest, won wrist bands to go into a VIP backstage area. As I was a HUGE fan of all of the acts at the Hometown bash and the tickets were a birthday present, my sister gave me and my best friend the wrist bands to go backstage. While backstage my best friend and I met Pierre and Chuck, who were gracious enough to talk to us, sign my VIP badge and my best friend’s bra. They were the only members of the bands that we were lucky enough to meet back stage and that memory has stuck with me. I still have the VIP badge with their autographs.

At the end of the end of the show, I started a tradition that I tend to follow when I attend a concert. I buy a piece of memorabilia. From this show I bought a Simple Plan Hat (which I may post a picture of in a later blog, or twitter). That night after the concert my best friend and I went out to a bar with my sister and brother-in-law and we wore our Simple Plan hats proudly into Molly Blooms.

In second year university, I was lucky enough to see Simple Plan for a second time. A friend of mine from school had got a group of us tickets for the Kissmas Bash at the HSBC centre in Buffalo. Simple Plan only played a couple of songs, mostly holiday and a couple of hits, but I was a proud Canadian screaming my head off for the somewhat unknown Canadian act in the American Arena. I had many people looking at my oddly for knowing every word and screaming so loudly for an act that they did not really know.

In my third year at Brock, Simple Plan released “Still Not Getting Any” which became my go to album to get me through the hardest year of my life. In third year I was a Don (RA) in residence, but I was going through a difficult time personally. Shortly before I left for school my grandpa was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I was incredibly close with my Grandpa, he was one of my biggest supporter. While he was a flawed man, he loved me more than almost anyone else. He would do just about anything for me and believe in me no matter what. On Oct 16th, 2004 my Grandpa lost his battle. Losing him broke my heart. My world fractured and it took time for me to put the pieces back together. “Welcome to My Life” the first release from “Still Not Getting Any” became one of my themes for that year. 10 Days after my Grandpa died Simple Plan released “Still Not Getting Any”. Knowing how much I loved Simple Plan, and how hard of a time I was going through, one of my co-workers picked up the latest album for me when they went to the mall the day of its release. I cannot tell you how many time that CD was played from begging to end that year. Anytime I needed a pick me, an energy boost, to not feel like I was alone, that CD got played.

Over the years the Simple Plan albums have not only been in my main music library, but they have had a playlist all to their own. Some days I just need the energy and the message of those songs to make me feel better and inspire me to attack the world head on.

On February 12 of 2008 Simple Plan released their self-titled album and you better believe it was quickly purchased. Another album from Canadian band that I loved, that I could listen to beginning to end on repeat. When I found out that Simple Plan was coming to the JLC in 2009, I immediately bought tickets. I think I may have even done it during class, using WiFi on my laptop, I could be wrong though. In August of 2009, my roommate from Second Year joined me at the concert. It was a phenomenal show, though I have started to feel a bit out-of-place. I have been a Simple Plan fan since 2002, when I was 18. In 2009 at 25, I found myself sitting in a row in front of 2, I would guess, 8 year olds and their mother. JLC staff kept asking me and my friend to sit down, which I can understand, but still it was kind of annoying. Throughout the show we were up, dancing, screaming and singing along (until we were told to sit). We were going through every song taking note of what hadn’t been played yet. So when it came to the ‘end’ of the performance, we knew there had to be more to come because certain key songs had not yet been played.

From this concert I came away with a T-shirt, that has now seen better days, as I wore it for the better part of a year non-stop and a wrist band, which I will more than likely wear to this concert, should I get to attend.

And now in 2011, they have released their latest album “Get Your Heart On!”. Again I have fallen in love with their album, at first I wasn’t entirely sold based off of the singles, but once I had the album downloaded (the second my pre-order was available) I feel in love with the album. Every time there is a new album, I dream of seeing them live. On the drive in to work one day, I heard they were coming to London. I think I may have heard the radio station give away a pair of tickets and I was sad that I was not the lucky recipient. Anyways …

Now it is 2011 and it will be 2012 when they return to the JLC and I would give anything to be there. I started a new job recently and due to how busy I was (and still am) at work, I missed the opening of ticket sales and by the time I remember tickets were on sale the best I could get was Row S 😦 which is disappointing. I haven’t purchased tickets yet, because I keep hoping I will get lucky and find something better than Row S in the first level.

I am a huge fan of Simple Plan, but not just them! I am also a HUGE Marianas Trench fan! How could I not be? I was raised around Barber Shoppers (just wait this will make sense) so I have a healthy appreciation for four-part harmony, how often will you find a pop-rock-punk act that has the ability to pull off impeccable four-part harmony? I think I missed “Shake Tramp” initially but I was brought it by “Say Anything” and “Decided to Break it”. I remember I taped both songs off the radio (I know so old school, I was a dork) and the videos through the VCR. I absolutely LOVED those songs and the sound of Marianas Trench. Josh Ramsay has an incredibly unique voice. They were a little Canadian band, so I was totally on board to support them. I feared though that they hadn’t survived their debut. There was a long hiatus between “Fix Me” (their debut) and “Master Piece Theatre” (Sophomore album), I think it was about four years, but it was well worth the wait. The entirely album is impeccable. This is still an album that I will play from beginning to end on repeat. I absolutely love it.

When Marianas Trench was announced as an act by Western Fair in 2010, I purchased tickets. Again, I felt slightly out-of-place at 26 surrounded by a bunch of teenagers, but I did not care. I was a fan in my early 20s when they started out and while I may be the elderly end of their fan base now, I’m still ok with it. I sang along to every song, yelled, screamed and fantasized about Mike Ayley, who was smokin’ hot that night (Ok yes, dorky Canadian Celebrity Crush, but hey he’s close to my age, so it is all good).

It was an amazing show! It tried to rain, but it gave up, it was crowded at times and people were a bit pushy, but hearing them perform live was unbelievable. That album was so intricate I was curious how they would pull it off in a live show and they did. It was amazing. They exemplify why I love Canadian music. American acts tend to have the money to manipulate their sound. American acts can be talentless schmucks, but Canadian acts, if they want to succeed and have a shot at an international career, they have to have the supreme talent like the guys of Marianas Trench do. Even my Dad can appreciate these guys. Punk-Pop-Rock might not be his thing, but he appreciates the four-part harmony these four guys can pull off impressively well.

At this end of this concert, I waited in a long crowded line, in front of the Western Fair  ‘sales shack’ (this is something that desperately needs to be improved) and bought a t-shirt (it is in pretty good condition, because well, it is fairly low-cut when I put it on, so not good to wear out in public).

I believe the opening act of this show may have been These Kids Wear Crowns, who are also opening the Simple Plan show, so I’ve seen and know fairly well 3 out of four of the acts performing and I will learn about All Time Low before the show comes.

I have been following two out of four of these acts since their debut. Their music has and continues to play prominently in my playlists.

I would be ecstatic to be a #JLCreviewer for this concert. I think I would make a strong reviewer because I have seen these guys perform before and in the case of Simple Plan I have seen them at various points across their 10 year career and can speak to the evolution of their music and identity.

I will continue to write about this concert and promote my name as a candidate to be a #JLCreviewer for this show because it means a lot to me. Hopefully some of you who know me and know how much I play this music will support my quest to be a reviewer!

Thanks for reading!