On December 19th, 2015, I met the one and only Rachel McAdams. For those of you who are think “who?” Allow me to refresh your memory.
Canadian actress best known for Mean Girls, The Notebook, The Time Travelers Wife, Wedding Crashers, About Time, Sherlock Holmes, ect. She is beautiful and talented and did I mention that she is Canadian?!
She is without a doubt one of my favourite actresses and last Saturday, I met her! How?! She was at my choir concert! Right in the front row! Do you know what that means?! RACHEL MCADAMS SAW ME SING!!! I SANG FOR RACHEL MCADAMS!!!
This is the story…
After the concert ended someone whispered “did you hear that Rachel McAdams is here?” Me and a few other singers were determined just to catch a glimpse and luckily the exit for the first row was right by the singers door. So when she came out (looking flawless) another girl asked if we could get a picture and she was so sweet and said yes! So we all jumped into the picture with her.
Then we thanked her for coming to see us sing and she very sweetly said that she loved it and that our show really put her in the Christmas spirit! I PUT RACHEL MCADAMS IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT!!!
The best part of this story is my best friend’s older sister. Right there next to Rachel McAdams, is Catherine. Catherine has downs syndrome and she is one of the kindest, sweetest and sassiest people I know. Catherine joined the photo at the very last second. Afterwards we said “Catherine, do you realize who you just took a picture with?” and she responded with “all of my best friends, of course”. She had no idea that she was standing next to Rachel McAdams. So we told her and she was SO happy. She gave Rachel the BIGGEST hug and said “you are incredible”. Rachel very graciously agreed to one more photo with Catherine and I am honestly not sure who looks happier. It is really important to me that she was so kind to us but especially to Catherine. That makes her a great person in my books. It truly was such a lovely experience to meet her. Hopefully we’ll see her again at next years Winter Concert!
After a few glasses of wine each, we stumble through the night in the direction of the train station, laughing boisterously all the while. My best friend leads the way, she knows this part of town better than I do. The street lamps cast shadows across our path, providing just enough light to make you aware of how very dark it is.
Without warning a medium sized figure races across the sidewalk. Startled by the movement, we stop, looking around for source of our racing hearts. The silence is nothing short of eerie. My skin crawls as I lock eyes with beady yellow pair in the tree above my head. I turn and run.
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I enjoy the night time because it is calm. Quiet. I can roam where ever I please without threat of harm or imprisonment. Tonight, I am enjoying the shelter of some greenery when I hear footsteps, shuffling. Are these the feet of friend or foe? Then the sound of a sharp and shrill cackle erupts to my left. I am so frightened I cannot think rationally. I dart out from under my shelter and race to higher ground. The blissful silence returns. I watch the creatures, below me they are frozen, only their eyes are moving frantically from left to right. A pale face turns up to meet my gaze before they flee into the night.
Everyone has a favourite band. A favourite song. A favourite quote. For me all of those things come from the same source. Mumford & Sons. The band, in my opinion, can do no wrong. They are flawless, in every sense of the word. There are a number of reasons why I love Mumford. First and foremost, they are spectacular musicians, song writers and performers. You can see, hear and feel the passion that goes into making their music. Secondly, Mumford is the reason I met Lucas.
You see Lucas and I actually went to the same high school, two years apart (for the record, I am older). We had mutual acquaintances, I had heard his name a few times in passing but we never crossed really paths. In August of 2013 I went with a group of friends to see Mumford play at the Gentlemen of the Road traveling concert festival. The festival was essentially two days jam packed with live musical acts with Mumford as the closing act on the Saturday night.
The venue was about 2 and a half hours west of Toronto. I was traveling and camping with a group of 4 girls. Myself, Karin, Sam and Alicia. When we arrived on the Friday afternoon we went straight to setting up camp. That was easier said than done. Do you know how many poles come with a camping tent? So many! Since it was going to take us a while to set up Sam decided to call in reinforcements. Two of her friends from high school who were also at the show for the weekend, Lucas and his buddy Taylor.
No joke, as they wandered over to our tent disaster I looked at Lucas and thought “who is he? He is very cute. I must know him.” Luckily the feeling was mutual. The rest of the weekend kind of went by in a whirlwind of music, beer, sunshine, dancing and laughing.
When I think back on that weekend I feel like Lucas and I were inseparable. I think he was by my side from the moment I met him to the end of the weekend when we had to drive home again. But somehow we managed to avoid having a picture taken together. The whole weekend was almost too perfect. If someone had told me that the whole thing was a dream I would have believed them.
I think there is something magical about music, especially live music, that brings people together. In a lot of ways Lucas and I are major opposites. He is a free-spirited, spur of the moment kind of person. I am meticulous planner and goody-two-shoes. I like to think that we have influenced each other for the better. He has helped me to relax and enjoy the moment and I think I have helped him to find a stronger sense of direction in terms of his goals and such. But I honestly don’t know if we would have had that connection, that spark, if we had met anywhere other than at a concert.
So you see, I feel as though Mumford & Sons brought Lucas and I together. Naturally I was devastated when they announced their hiatus in September of 2013. They had just given me an amazing weekend, an connected me with an amazing person and all I wanted to do from that moment on was go see Mumford play live music, with Lucas at my side.
After a very long year and a half they have finally made their way back onto the music scene with their brand new album, Wilder Mind, released on May 4th.
At first I was really nervous about this new album. In their time off Mumford ditched the banjo, which they were essentially famous for, in favour of a more classic rock inspired sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some classic rock, but to me Mumford is synonymous with indie, and rock isn’t indie. The first single dropped from the album was titled Believe. I’ll be honest, on first listen it felt like Coldplay and I was confused. It was a great song but it didn’t sound like the band I knew and loved. So when the new album finally came out I was expecting to be “meh” about it.
Oh! How happy I am to say that I was wrong! I’m not sure exactly how to explain this but I’ll try my best. There are a number of good songs on the album, there are a number of great songs, and there are a few just okay songs. But as a whole, as one piece, from beginning to end, listened to in the order they intended it is perfect. The album tells a story, the songs compliment each other, the music ebbs and flows through the entire work. While the banjo is noticeably not present the music still feels like Mumford in the vocals, the orchestral background music and in the lyrics. I beg of you, please do not listen to this album on shuffle. Hear it how Mumford intended it to be heard.
I think Mumford and Sons successfully accomplished what Taylor Swift also accomplished with the release of her most recent album 1989. Both Mumford and Swift managed to change their sound without compromising their music or betraying their loyal fan base. I feel that they were able to do so because they made a strong, confident 180. Instead of writing songs, they curated entire albums. And that, I feel, is what makes all the difference. It is a magic that we are lacking today. Because of iTunes we have the “luxury” of picking and choosing songs, rather than listening to entire albums. So a lot of artists make a few great singles and really poor albums. Although with the renewed popularity of vinyl records this is hopefully going to change.
If you haven’t had the chance to check out Wilder Mind, do it now! And if you have, what did you think?! Share in the comments!
I feel like I’ve been lied to, misled and deceived. You spend your whole life believing something to be true only to find out that it isn’t. How is one supposed to go on in this world wracked with uncertainty?!
Okay, okay, I’m being a tad over dramatic… Alright, more than a tad. But I stand by that first statement: I feel like I’ve been lied to. The fitness blogs, the magazines, the personal trainers, they all lied. “Working out is good for you! It is the best thing you can do for your body!” Lies, all lies. I know what you’re all thinking “Alex, what are you grumbling on about? Working out IS good for you.” Well to that I say, you weren’t the one in the hospital yesterday were you! Yup, that’s right. I spent the majority of my Wednesday in the emergency room all thanks to exercise.
Let me share my warning tale. On Tuesday night I went to the gym. I had recently read an article about how the rowing machine is a super-duper full body workout. So I set myself down, put on some bass heavy jams and nailed out 20 minutes of hard core rowing. I felt great afterwards. I could really feel it in my abs and my shoulders but it was that good kind of pain that makes you feel like you’re really making a difference to your body. After that I did a short 15 minute run. No big, right? WRONG. Apparently, I pulled or sprained my diaphragm muscle.
For those of you who are not aware the diaphragm is a thin muscle that sits below the lungs at the bottom of the rib cage. In non-medical terms, when you inhale it moves down and out of the way so that the lungs can expand and when you exhale it moves upwards to help push the air out. If you’ve ever sung in a choir or played an instrument you may have heard your teacher tell you to drop your diaphragm when inhaling.
So basically my super awesome workout strained my diaphragm muscle. The muscle isn’t damaged badly enough for it to effect my normal airflow but heavy or intense breathing is an issue. I discovered this on Wednesday morning while walking to work. I was having a hell of a time inhaling, the pain in between my rib cage was so real. I attributed it to the cold air and kept on trekking (a bad idea). Once I got to my office I expected the pain to subside, it didn’t. My 20 minutes of brisk walking had caused my poor diaphragm to spasm. Naturally, I had no idea what was happening. I’m not entirely sure when this happened but I soon found myself laying on my office floor, clutching my rib cage and writhing around in pain.
At this point I had resolved that I needed to go home. The plan was to stay on the floor until the pain let up and then I was going to tell my boss that I was going to take the rest of the day as a sick day. Unfortunately, she found me before I was able to get off the floor and she insisted on sending me to the hospital. At this point I was in a lot of pain and I was exceptionally embarrassed. I tried to protest but she quickly helped me into her car and drove me to the ER. Once there my pain had gone down significantly but I figured I might as well see what was going on. After waiting around for an hour I was told to put on one of those horrid hospital gowns, then I was poked and prodded until it was determined that my diaphragm muscle was pulled. Then I was sent home for the day with doctor recommendations to take it easy for the next few days.
Final verdict: The pros have not been lying, working out is good for you. But when trying a new workout, don’t push yourself to hard and listen to your body.