RECORD STORE TALES #934: What Now?
I sound like a broken record at the end of every summer. It’s tough to keep the spirits up at this time of year. It’s likely I’ve taken my last swim of 2021. Next time we get to the lake, the sun will be down by the time we arrive. And then will come the day it is covered with snow, and empty for the winter slumber.
Music helps – music always, always helps. So does writing. But it is an annual challenge.
When I was a kid, the end of August would signal the start of the “sad times”. The back-to-school ads. Reminders that I was going to have to spend another year with a bunch of bullies again. Then the colder weather started to roll in. Our family would take two weeks of vacation in August but back then, they were two cold, rainy weeks. (Not like today.) You had to start dressing in long pants and sweat shirts.
Shopping for notebooks and new school clothes. Realizing that a few weeks of warm freedom were about to be replaced by 10 months of misery. I hated Labour Day weekend. Back to the “hell hole” as my sister would say. These feelings stick with me today. I can’t flip the calendar from August to September without them.
Even though I’m not in school anymore, the heavy heart returns. I now know that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and it’s something I need to fight every fall.
Last year was a success! I avoided the seasonal depression. I spent my summer making lots of videos, to take me back there in my mind when I needed it. I also had the show, the LeBrain Train, to look forward to every weekend. This year is different. The videos and photos don’t have the same impact two years in a row, and since May the LeBrain Train has become more of a burden than a joy. I need something new to keep my spirits up this winter, and I don’t yet know what that is. It is true that we have a long September ahead, warm but shorter days. I hope this mitigating factor helps. I think what I really need is some new creative spark to keep me looking forward. Last year it was the LeBrain Train but the burnout factor has ensured that I need something fresh that I can look forward to from September to May.
What used to cheer me up at this time of year?
As a kid I used to be excited for a new season of the Pepsi Power Hour which hasn’t existed in 30 years. I don’t watch a lot of TV these days, but fortunately Marvel has constant content forthcoming on Disney+. We have a new Iron Maiden album to look forward to, but the idea of new music from my favourite bands doesn’t have the same excitement factor as when I was 15 years old. Yes I’m happy there is a new Iron Maiden coming, but compared to the sheer expectation of Seventh Son coming out in ’88? No chills.
It feels like…work? Like I haven’t finished digesting The Book of Souls and here comes another one. I can’t remember how half that album goes, and now we have a new one to get to know. It’s not like in the old days when I felt literally starved of Iron Maiden because I’d played all their albums over and over and over. Now, there are so many that you don’t necessarily even play them all in a year.
Back then, getting a new Iron Maiden album felt just as amazing as a new Star Wars or Marvel movie today. Something you have been anticipating for a while. Music videos were like movie trailers. We’d watch repeatedly, we’d pause, and we’d slo-mo trying to glimpse details. Costumes, instruments, stage sets, all of it.
When I was working at the Record Store, I still didn’t know that this seasonal depression thing was real and not just me. It often came and went in spurts. I used to call them a “big blue funk”. 2003 was a very “funky” year for me. I’d been dumped (twice) by my Radio Station Girl, and even with a new Iron Maiden in my back pocket (Dance of Death, and also a new Deep Purple called Bananas) I still felt like I needed to do something to help me get through the winter. And there was something I used to do to pick myself up back then, especially if I had my heart broke. Yes, broken hearts are for assholes, but I chose to get new holes. On September 3, I went to Stigmata in Guelph and got my nose pierced.
It was my third visit to the tattoo studio that year. After Radio Station Girl dumped me, I got my lip pierced at Stigmata. A couple months later I got my tragus pierced — that piece of cartilage at the opening of your ear. A friend of mine named Lois Sarah had just started piercing there and if I remember the details correctly, I was a guinea pig. It’s fun to go back and read my notes!
Lois asked if I was ready. I said yes, and she asked me to take a deep breath and exhale….
I said, “Wow, I didn’t feel a thing.”
Lois said, “That’s because it’s not through yet.”
I felt the needle go through at least 3 distinct layers of cartilage. Each one hurt more than the last. On the last layer, I said, “FUCK” and both my legs shot out.
Lois did a great job and it’s the one piercing that I do still have.
But September 3 2003 was just my nose, nothing too painful. It was Labour Day weekend once more, and I decided to go for it. Normally I went to get a piercing with a “wingman” but this was my first time going alone. I distinctly remember wearing my Iron Bitchface T-shirt. An uber-cool looking guy with a massive afro shot me an approving glance, so I felt good from the get-go.
I was led to the back room, but not before washing up my hands with disinfectant gel. I sat down in the Very Big Chair, as I liked to call it, and Lois prepared the goods. She marked my nostril with a dot and got the position right where I wanted it. Then she applied some iodine to the area, both inside and out. She tested out the position of the receiving tube, and finally asked me to take a deep breath. As I exhaled, the needle went in no problem. Almost no pain at all. I’ve been pinched harder. (By your mom.)
The rest of the year still sucked, nose ring or not. It was the year of working with the Dandy, a manchild that drove me slowly mad as he sucked up to the big-wigs. Work was miserable and not getting any better. But at least I was proactive, and did something that I thought would help. Something that helped in the past.
I’ve been there and done that with piercings, and though I like the look of them, I don’t enjoy the upkeep. I prefer to spend my money on something more permanent, like a tattoo. That’s something to consider, but I think I need to look elsewhere for a bright spot this winter. Maybe I will find my joy in the live show once again, but I can’t count on it. Truth be told, I haven’t been feeling it as much since May. I remember telling Deke that I was struggling and he suggested back then that I take a break. But I didn’t feel like I could take that break until the end of the summer. And here we are.
So now I search for some new slant on my creative outlet to revitalize me. Something to look forward to regularly. I was very lucky during the winter of 2020-2021. I hope I can pull it off again!