Suomi Dreams

Even now, at age 24, I dream of happily ever after. I dream of a 3-bedroom house with a modest yard. I dream of little blue-eyed children gazing back at me, still convinced that Mommy has all the answers.

I don’t have the answers. As it turns out, neither does my mother, or her mother. Frankly, I’d like to know who has all the answers. Why do I come from a family with a longstanding background of mental illness and substance abuse? Why do I fall for men cut from that same cloth?

I think that’s why I hold so tightly to my fairytale life, and the fantasy world in my head. It lets me escape from the painful reality of my past and the difficult decisions I must make every day. Fantasy gives me hope for the future. Understandably, I feel mentally stunted. The ways in which I love have changed so little since I was 14. I love furiously, passionately, completely. Love consumes me so much that I often wonder if all women feel this way.

I’m finally going to experience a long-held fantasy of mine next week: I’m going to see HIM for their farewell tour. HIM is and was a band I’ve romanticized for years. A band that created Love Metal. A band fronted by a man who has turned all of his sorrows into something beautiful and healing. Ville Valo is the kind of creator I️ aspire to be. Because of him, his bandmates, and the legacy they’ve built I want to live in their native country of Finland, if only for a little while. There is nothing that brings me the same mental peace as envisioning breathing in the brisk Helsinki air and being free to write and create.

It sounds outlandish, I imagine. It probably is. But I’m holding on to Finland.

All my love,

Katherine Wheel

Back in the swing of things

Nice to see you again, my few but much loved readers! I’m sorry for my absence; at this point I’m sure this has become expected, but I still apologize for the length of my inactivity. Life got ahead of me, and now it’s suddenly August. Where did the year go?

If you spoke to me a year ago and told me that I would be where I am now, I would have laughed in your face.

I’m just starting my second week of training as a client advocate for those applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I have an ID badge, my own personal headset for the phones, and in five more weeks, my very own cubicle. Of all the careers I dreamed I would fall into, I never thought I would be working in a traditional office, in a full-time nine-to-five position. For all the shit my brothers give me when I brag about the satisfaction in the regularity and when I whine about having to completely flip-flop my sleep patterns, I can’t help but think they’re jealous. I make a living wage, and I get to make the world a better place; I can’t think of much else one could want out of a job. One 0f the hardest things to accept about adulthood, but also one of the most validating, is the realization that ninety-nine percent of us are not going to have that “dream job”. As a good friend of mine said to me recently, you use that satisfying job to fund your dream life. That’s where I’m at right now. For the first time in months I can actually afford to do things and treat myself.  My entire paycheck will not go directly to paying credit card bills. It’s a wonderful feeling.

And since I’m actually motivated for a change, here’s a ukelele cover! I haven’t significantly improved recently but I was in the mood to sing for y’all today. Enjoy 🙂

 

All my love,
Katherine Wheel

Uke Can Do It!

Last night I went to see Twenty One Pilots, and I didn’t realize that a financially careless decision at the merch booth would begin a new, burning passion.  I had been scoping out their tour merch online before the show, deciding what I would snap up when I got there; it saves a lot of time knowing what will be there and how much money you’re going to need. I saw a few shirts I liked, and then a beautiful, pricey ukelele. I debated for over a week whether or not I would pick one up at the show ($125 is a lot to spend on tour merch) but ultimately I needed to own one. It’s such a cool little instrument, customized to be a 21p tour exclusive.

 

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His name is Josh Dun and he is a perfect instrument.

I brought it home, opened it up, and it was love at first proper strum. Ukelele is not an exact science: it’s a feeling. I know I’ve only been playing for a day so I sound ridiculous, but an instrument has never been so easy to pick up; it’s the perfect size and for someone who knows basic music theory from years of piano, clarinet, and singing, it isn’t hard to remember chords and rhythms. Uke is what I always wanted playing guitar or bass to be like: natural and fun and just a little bit of challenge. I can tell I’m going to be playing this thing every day for a long, long time.

I’ve been in a creative funk for awhile, so I think going back to my roots and making music is just what I need to keep myself sane and motivated. At some point, I might start posting stuff to a YouTube account to share with you all. I’m excited to see how this goes!

All my love,

Katherine Wheel

The art of the mix CD

Not to brag, but I am an expert at crafting mixes for my friends and loved ones. If you ask me to make you a playlist or burn you a CD, I will dedicate an entire afternoon to painstakingly selecting the tracks and assigning them an order. If I’m burning a CD, I also make sure to decorate the jewel case with a track listing and sometimes even album art if I have lots of time on my hands.

If that sounds excessive to you, you have a few things to learn about making mixes. Let me fill you in on my tried and true technique to make a playlist your friend will love!

The first thing to consider when you’re making a mix for someone is their taste in music. It might be tempting to put together a mix with all of your favorite songs on it, but it’s a bit of a waste if you’re more into indie folk music and your friend prefers synth pop. To be safe, I usually ask my friends what vibe they have in mind for the playlist. For example, I introduced my boyfriend to the Cure and Depeche Mode, and he was looking for a mix with more of their style music. So what did I start the playlist off with? Depeche Mode and the Cure (duh).

Once you have a solid foundation for the playlist, it’s time to branch out into things you think your friend will also enjoy. This is usually the part where I swim in a sea of panic. What if you pick that one song they associate with their sleazy ex, Brad? What if your choice is just entirely off base? I waste a lot of time worrying about these things when I’m picking out tracks. But at the end of the day, it’s just a collection of songs you put together for someone you care about. Even if it isn’t 100 percent what they had in mind, it’s something you’ve crafted with love and dedication. If they don’t appreciate it, take your mad mix-making skills elsewhere!

Here comes the most important part: ordering the tracks! I don’t think there’s really a wrong way to go about this, but I have a few tips for making the playlist flow as smoothly as possible. I like to sandwich the songs I know my friend will like around the ones I’m taking a guess on. From there, I try and fit my selections after songs that have similar lyrical content or sounds. For instance, let’s say I had put “Leave a Trace” by CHVRCHES as my first track. I would follow that up with something else with a wintry synth sound, maybe “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs or “Not In Love” by Crystal Castles. Again, this is just my way of going about things, and I don’t know if it really makes sense written out.
At any rate, now you have all my tips, tricks, and suggestions for crafting a playlist your friends and loved ones are guaranteed to enjoy! I have a 100 percent success rate after all ;).

As an added treat, here’s a playlist of some of my favorite tracks. Enjoy!

All my love,

Katherine Wheel