On Life, Love and Concerts

Years ago, I dated a guy who did not share my acute love for live music. When I admitted to him that I once once dropped $150 to see one of our favourite artists live, he responded by saying:

Why would you bother spending the money when you can buy the CD at Walmart for $10? That’s what I did.”

He just didn’t get it. Some people don’t.

Music is an important part of my life. When I’m not  researching new artists in search of the next great piece of ear-candy, I’m making plans to see my favourite artists live. Amazing life experiences are fleeting and you have to grab them while you can. This is why I spent most of my twenties, scrimping, saving and eating a lot of instant noodles so I would be able to see most of my favourite artists live. Even as a 30-something, I still consider going to see live music money well spent.

A good friend of mine is currently working on launching a new mobile music app called Syzzle. If you’re the kind of person who would rather eat ramen for a week than miss out on seeing your favourite band, Syzzle is the app just for you. With Syzzle you can rate live music, follow artists worldwide, receive tour alerts, buy tickets, locate the best music venues in town and a whole lot more. In other words, it’s like Yelp for music.

Remember that time you thought it would be so ironic to go see Hootie and the Blowfish live and when you arrived at the venue, you found out you’d actually purchased tickets to Hootie and the BlowPhish, a bizarre cover band that was really just a Darius Rucker lookalike in a rainbow dashiki singing acoustic versions of “Down with Disease”? Yes, that. Syzzle could have saved you from this atrocity. Instead, it’s likely you’ll never live this down.

Not all concerts can be earth shaking awesome, however the ones that are, have the potential to be transformative experiences. Whether it’s a lesson about life and love, or a broadening of my musical horizons, my favourite concerts are always the ones that have taught me something about myself. Since Syzzle is launching today, I thought I’d take today’s post as an opportunity to reflect on some of the things I have learned from my concert experiences.

I caught the concert bug after seeing one of my favourite artists, Erykah Badu, live for the first time in 2001. I remember racing down to Massey Hall on the day of the concert and buying last minute tickets, which just happened to be in the second row. I was nervous to go to the concert alone, however I ended up meeting a couple from Buffalo, NY who took me under their wing. Together we sang along to each song, as Erykah’s much-more-powerful-in-real-life voice hypnotized us. I learned that you shouldn’t be afraid of doing the things you love, just because you’re worried about doing them alone. Music creates bonds. 

The Fall of 2002 was a rough one: my Grandma passed away, my boyfriend broke up with me and the ceiling of my apartment collapsed. I was heartbroken and it felt like life was literally crashing down around me. To cheer me up, my recent ex-boyfriend presented me with backstage passes to hear Remy Shand live. Say what you will about the Canadian one-hit-wonder, but that guy can sing. My ex was not a good boyfriend, but on that night he was a good friend. Sometimes the people who break your heart are the ones who know how to put it back together. 

Live music can move you in ways you never expected. Like, that I time I went to see Basement Jaxx and I was dancing so hard I actually wet my pants a tiny bit. The lesson here: Unless you’re willing to live with this secret shame, drinking multiple neon blue vodka coolers and jumping up and down, do not mix. 

During a bizarre phase my mid-twenties, I dragged my punk rock music loving then-boyfriend to see Mariah Carey in Toronto. When the songstress entered on stage wearing a gold bathing suit and more fake hair than an Eglinton West beauty shop, my boyfriend leaned over and said, “I just don’t get whatever this is…but I love you.” Loving someone means accepting their quirks – even if one of those quirks is a fondness for R&B Divas.

This is the same guy who, after discovering I’d had a epically terrible day at work, insisted on blowing off his coworkers who had front row tickets to the Gwen Stefani show that night. Instead, he scalped his ticket and purchased two nose bleed seats so we could both go to the concert. I would have done the same thing for him, which made me realize we were both in it for the long haul. Although it didn’t work out, we’re still really good friends.

I’ve learned that you should always pay attention to a band’s name. If the band is called “Audio Sleep” don’t expect a dance party. If a band is called “Deer Typewriter” it’s likely that plaid shirts, ironic t-shirts and horn-rimmed glasses are not only an acceptable wardrobe choice, they’re required. If the band is called “Jessie and the Rippers” you’re in for a real treat.

Although 2011 was a hard year, going to hear Prince play live at my hometown arena was a highlight. As glittering pieces of actual Purple Rain fell on my cheeks, I was more sure than ever of the magical, healing quality of music. I also learned that when it comes to Prince, it’s possible for me to completely and hopelessly attracted to a 55 year old man in glittery, high heel boots.

I’ve learned through my concert experiences that the best concerts are the ones with heart, energy and the ability to make you reflect on that very moment in time. Live music can be transformative, it can make you feel like you are part of something much larger than yourself, but most of all, a really great show is just so much fun.

So, when that guy asked me, “Why would you bother spending the money on a concert when you can buy the CD at Walmart?” I knew unequivocally, that he was not the right guy for me. 

What have you learned from your concert going experiences? Please share!

Review | The Fantasy Box – Sexy Subscription

Although it’s sometimes nice to be able to sit around with your partner, pant-less, eating Dorritos, watching back to back episodes of Dexter while not talking; what I’ve learned from being in long-term relationships and writing about them, is this: Communication is really, really important and sometimes even the best relationships need spicing up. 

Now enter The Fantasy Box – a monthly subscription service designed to help couples communicate better and explore their fantasies.  The Fantasy Box was born when friends, Chris and Mariah, started talking candidly about the pitfalls of long term relationships and sex. The best sex was fun, adventurous, varied and based on a foundation of communication and trust. It was anticipated and prioritized, even when life got in the way. The worst sex was the opposite – monotonous, often full of judgment and something that was done out of obligation. To quote their website, “Sex is the glue that draws you back together when you can’t remember why else you are in this relationship.” My grandma recently told me, “You know what gets you through 50+ years of marriage to the same person? Good sex!” I think they’re all onto something.

With that said, even couples with a fantastic connection experience slumps and issues with communication when it comes to sex. Often couples are curious about wanting to try new things but don’t even know where to start. Recognizing this, Chris and Mariah started Fantasy Box so they could provide couples with an effortless way to introduce a new level of fun into their sex lives without stress, guilt, or judgment. Aka, no more missionary in the dark. (Amen to that!)

Everyone has fantasies – it’s totally natural. After consulting with focus groups and sexperts, the duo came up with over 60 of the most common fantasies for men and women. With The Fantasy Box, every month you will receive a different fantasy, instructions for how to play it out and all the goodies needed to turn fantasy into reality. I am super excited that Chris and Mariah kindly sent me a Fantasy Box of my own to test drive!

My parcel arrived in discreet packaging but when I opened it up I found this gorgeous red box adorned with funky black and white designs. I love all the cartoon lips, panties and hand-cuffs!

Inside the box I found note cards with instructions for the “Leader” and the “Follower”  The couple gets to decide “who’s who” and can always switch it up depending on the mood.

Underneath the cards I found the mother load  of goodies! Ahhhhhhh so many fun and cute things!

Here’s what was inside:

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Nether Regions

To say I’ve been a bit sexually pent up lately would be the understatement of the century.

When I was still seeing Fitness Guy, sexy time was hard to come by. He’s a single dad with a child at home and I’m currently still living with my parents, which meant that to get some horizontal alone time, it usually required some creative scheduling. There’s only one thing worse than being single and sexually frustrated – it’s dating someone you’re attracted to and knowing you can’t have sex with them when you want to. There were a few times near the end where I needed it so bad, that it required all my willpower not to maul him in his car when he dropped me off at the end of the night.

Now that I’m 100% single, it’s like my hormones are officially running wild.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “But Simone, don’t you have like a bazillion amazing vibrators at your disposal?!”

Yes, it’s true – I do have a fairly impressive collection of sex toys. I also have tons of lingerie and massage oil and lube and so many condoms that I can only hope I’ll be able to use up before they all expire. I’m starting to become the creepy, bougie female equivalent of Seth Green’s character in the 90’s classic “Can’t Hardly Wait”.

Swap that backpack for a Louis Vuitton Never-Full bag, and that’s basically me in a nutshell – minus the tracksuit and goggles. To the outside observer I’m one step away from being one of those people who hoard cans of soup in their homemade backyard bomb shelter, however in my case it looks like I’m preparing for some impending Sexual Apocalypse where strawberry flavoured lube and crotchless panties will no longer be available for purchase.

Not that I’m complaining about my stockpile of goodies – I absolutely love, love, LOVE the perks of my job. However, after spending a huge chunk of my week writing about sex, dating and relationships, the piles of condoms and the sexy lingerie (that no one ever sees except you guys!) act as a reminder of how much sex I’m not having. For awhile I thought what I really needed was just hot roll in the hay. However, as much as a sexy fling sounds awesome right now, I’ve learned that casual sex really isn’t my thing anymore. I’m looking for a deeper, longer lasting emotional connection. I’d like to find the kind of chemistry I had with Fitness Guy, but with someone who actually wants to stick around.

Still, the hormones rage on. It’s gotten so bad that my mind has started to wander to interesting (inappropriate) places. As I was telling my friend over Skype the other night, I’ve never been one to date younger men. However, lately I’ve taken to checking out the cute young guy who works at the Polish Deli.

My friend: “How old is this said, young guy?”

Me: “I mean, he could be 17 or 18, but I think he’s closer to 19 or 20. You know, it’s hard to tell”

Her: “The fact that you’re not sure signals that something is very wrong with this situation”

Me: “No kidding, it all seemed pretty innocent until the last time I was in there and he actually checked me out. Then I was thinking, WHOA BUDDY THIS IS WRONG. I’M OLD. It also didn’t help that I was buying a large thing of Kielbassa.”

My friend is right. I’d never act on this situation, however I’m hoping if I keep bringing it up she might fly out from Toronto to see me under the guise of staging an intervention so, we can instead spend the weekend doing more important things like drinking champagne.

I thought maybe my troubles were coming to end after I went out on a couple dates last week with a new guy we’ll call “Small Town Cop.” Small Town Cop was nice, friendly, handsome, well-dressed and of course, an officer of the law. We went out for a nice dinner at a popular restaurant in town and had a good enough time for him to ask me out again. I told him that I’m a writer and about the blog. I didn’t really think this would be an issue until he texted me the next day.

“So, I’ve been reading your blog. Just one question: when I kissed you last night, did you feel it in your nether regions? ;)”

“Ha, what?!”

Then he mentioned that he’d read about this on my blog. To be honest I write for myself and clients, all week, every week and sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly what I’ve said before. Immediately, I started wracking my brain trying to remember when I had ever used the term “nether regions” in a post. Meanwhile I’m also just thinking:

“FUCK. So, this is what it feels like when your blog comes back to bite you in the ass”

Although the kiss goodnight was nice, I didn’t feel any butterflies and certainly not in my nether regions. In fact, I was mostly just distracted because I was still thinking of Fitness Guy. But was I going to tell him that? No. I liked the guy enough to see where this might lead. However, this wouldn’t be the last I’d hear about this.

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My First Live Sex & Relationship Chat with Dr. Trina Read

If you’re following me on Twitter or Facebook you might have noticed that I recently did my first live video chat for Sun Media – Canada’s largest newspaper publisher. On February 13th I teamed up with Dr. Trina Read for a live Sex and Relationship Chat  where we answered readers questions about sex, dating and relationships – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

 Relationship and sexual health expert, Dr. Trina Read, is the founder of VivaXO.com, Eat Drink Love and is CBC radio’s Relationship Columnist. She is a mom of two boys, a best selling author, a go-to media expert, magazine columnist, spokeswoman and award winning international speaker. In other words, she’s amazing. It was a real pleasure working with her! I really admire her confidence,  professional insights and just general hutzpah. I’m still getting used to being on camera and doing these kinds of events, however I hope to one day live up to her gold standard 🙂
I was initially really afraid to watch the footage because I was worried I’d come across as a bumbling mess, however I’m surprisingly coherent! ha. Aside from a few “ummms” and the fact that I still haven’t quite learned how to look directly into my web cam, I’m really happy with how the chat turned out. What do you guys think?

Thanks to Dr. Trina Read, Victoria Revay, Monique Beech and Sun Media for putting this chat together & being so fabulous to work with. I really hope we get to do it again soon!

Do you have any sex, dating or relationship questions you’d like answered? Send them on over. I’d love to make answering your questions on camera a regular thing!

Things That Are True at 32

At 32 you do things that your 20-year old self  would have scoffed at. You spend time creating inspiration boards, setting goals, taking life coaching classes and getting excited about the book club you joined. You do these things because they make you happy. When a 25-year old Hipster calls you lame, you just laugh because they haven’t figured out that being your authentic self is way more important than being someone’s definition of “cool”

After a very brief flirtation with the couch potato lifestyle, you wake up one night – on the sofa with your hand inside a bag of rice crackers – and realize that something has to change. You’ve been athletic your whole life. As a kid you swam, ran track and danced ballet 4 times a week. Your body and mind runs best when it’s getting intense, sweaty exercise and not just of the amorous variety. When you cut out the gluten, lower your carb intake & start hitting the gym again, you feel awesome. Pushing your body and being active isn’t just something you need to do, it’s part of who you are.

You’ve always been petite and your body didn’t change much throughout your twenties. However, when you try on the size 0 cocktail dress you wore to your 28th birthday and you can no longer zip it up, you frantically run into the other room and ask your Mom:

“Is it possible that my rib cage expanded over the past year?”

Yes, yes it is.

Your body changes at 32. Your rib cage expands and your hips widen. Your bust increases, you go up 2 bra sizes and your boobs become a force to be reckoned with. You go from 105lbs to 120lbs in just over a year. Although it’s a bit weird adjusting to these new curves, for the first time in your life you no longer feel like you’re going to float away, you feel grounded. When you see one of your best friends in Toronto she says, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant? I’m not trying to be mean, it’s just that your boobs are huge and you’re positively glowing.”  You just laugh and smile.

You start understand what Audrey Hepburn meant when she said “happy girls are the prettiest.”

At 32, Divorced is the new Single. Half of your friends who got married in their twenties are now split from their original spouses and are exploring relationships with new partners who are a much better match. Some of your friends start to get married for the second time – which, you’ll admit feels a bit weird & deja-vu-ish, but also kind of awesome because you’ve never seen them this happy before.

When it comes to sex, you and your friends start to see the effect exposure to porn has had on the male population. For example:  Gents, if you want to have anal sex with a woman, do not spit on her ass-crack while having sex with her doggy-style and just hope she takes the hint. It’s likely she won’t want to have any kind of sex with you after that move. To be safe, just don’t spit on women… ever. Unless she asks you to do it. If she’s in her 30’s, she likely knows what she wants in bed and whoa, hormones be crazy at this age. Just roll with it. Unless it’s anal sex – you should always talk about that first.

At 32, if a man has a full head of hair, it’s an asset. Furthermore, you never thought you’d reach the point in your dating career where you become attracted to men with grey hair. Around 31-32 you start to appreciate a little salt and pepper action. It’s to the point where you don’t even notice the grey hair and you just think “that man is fucking hot.”

You realize the importance of pheromones – those invisible love chemicals that lead to sexual attraction. A man who smells good for no apparent reason makes you weak in the knees. It’s this very powerful sensation that leads you to have a steamy two night fling with a guy that you meet while you’re on vacation.

The chemistry is great and you just want more, more, more. However, when he drops you off in the morning, and you kiss goodbye, making vague plans to see each other again (that you both know probably won’t work out because of geography), you suddenly feel this aching sense of loss in your gut. This leads to the realization that maybe you’re not as thick skinned as you once thought. That maybe casual sex isn’t for you. That although you’d like to deny it, your heart lives in your vagina.

27 years of friendship, and your best-friend is still the person who always makes you feel better.

“I did something last night that I’m afraid to tell you about”

“Oh god, did you have an orgy?!”

“What?! No! Although I’m kind of impressed that you actually think I’m the kind of person who would do that.”

“Well, I dunno. You never know”

“I just slept with someone I barely knew and now I feel weird about it.”

She laughs and says, “Oh, Simone. That’s OK! Did you have fun?”

“Yes, very much so! But now I have all these weird feelings that I don’t know what to do with”

“It’s Ok, it’s just a shock to your system. You went from living with your mom, not dating, to being in another city and…..”

“Full out sex, drugs and rock-and-roll?”

“Pretty much.”

The ache in your gut eventually goes away, however it leads to another important realization:

You love sex but you also need to feel safe and protected. You want someone who will rip your clothes off, throw you down on the bed, say and do dirty things to you, but who will also hold you afterwards because they think you’re lovely & special. Someone who smells good, holds doors open, and loves it when you read stories you’ve written outloud because they love it when you do all of the different voices.

After a year of being happily single, of not wanting to be attached to anyone, you come to the conclusion don’t want to date and/or sleep with a bunch of different people, you just want to just spend time and sleep with one special person. Oh wait, there’s a name for this kind of person! It’s called a boyfriend. 

Does this mean…. you want to be in a relationship?! I think it does.

And at 32 1/2, you decide this isn’t such a bad thing.

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