I’m too cool for this album: “Funeral” by Arcade Fire

I’m trying to remember why I didn’t listen to Arcade Fire when they burst on the scene in 2004 with their first album, Funeral. I probably read a pretentious review of the album on Pitchfork or something and decided to write them off, or I was a contrary 23 year old who didn’t want to listen to an album because everyone else* was. Or both! I don’t know.

Either way, at 42 years old, I decided to listen to the entire album for the first time. Of course I had heard Wake Up (I didn’t live under THAT big of a rock!) and Rebellion (Lies), but I hadn’t heard anything else. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but spoiler, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Funeral is essentially a nearly perfect album. Yeah, 23 year old me would be surprised too.

Anyway, here’s my review!

The album opens with Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), which is my favorite out of the four Neighborhood songs on the album. A good opening song sounds like a sunrise to me, and that’s what this song evoked for me while listening to it. I loved it.

I also enjoyed the other Neighborhood songs and thought they flowed together nicely, with the song “Une Annee Sans Lumiere” breaking up the neighborhood theme. (Fun, somewhat related fact: I did not know Arcade Fire was from Montreal. How did I not know this?) I’m thinking so far, I’m really digging this album.

Then… I listen to Crown of Love. Meh. Usually I don’t mind songs in 3/4 time but nope, not a fan of this one. It reminded me too much of the song Oh! Darling by the Beatles, and I think that’s the better song. It also ends with the song fading out, which is one of my ultimate pet peeves when it comes to songs on an album. No, end the song! Don’t fade it out!

Thankfully my disappointment didn’t last long, because the best 3 songs on the album came in succession: Wake Up, Haiti, and Rebellion (Lies). I’m not going to talk much about Wake Up because it’s a damn fantastic, almost perfect song, but I WILL talk about my #1 favorite thing on an album—one song transitioning into another! (I know that this isn’t much different than the song fade, but maybe I’m still contrary, 19 years later!)

After the best trio of songs in the world, the album ends with “In the Backseat”. I liked this song as an album closer, but I’m not sure I’d ever listen to it on its own. Still, it was the perfect ending to a pretty damn good album.

So, overall, what did I think? As I said above, this is a nearly perfect album, with an upbeat opener, a slight cooldown with the next couple songs, a trio of FANTASTIC tunes, then ending on an introspective note. Every transition just worked; (almost) every song hit me somewhere. My only complaint is the inclusion of Crown of Love, but I can just skip it every time I listen to the album. I still have yet to find an album where I listen to the ENTIRE thing without skipping a song, but I’m still searching!

My ultimate praise? If I had a record player, I’d buy this album and listen to it while writing or journaling or doing something where music with just enough feeling can accompany my creativity. My favorite albums are albums I can listen to at night, either alone with my thoughts or while making things, and this album fits the bill.

* I don’t know who this proverbial ‘everyone else’ was in my mind back in 2004, because it’s not like I had a slew of music loving friends at this time. Like I said, I must have been too cool, or something.

Getting through a hard day

The vast majority of the time, I feel good about my life and the progress I’ve made in the past couple years in regards to my mental health, my impostor syndrome, and my day to day feelings. However, sometimes, a perfect storm of events occur that cause a bit of an imbalance in my life — a combination of work stress, personal stress, and apartment stress have been my reality this week and on Friday night, it all came to a head.

Here are steps I’ll be taking to help me process my feelings now and to build up more tools to help me in the next couple days to feel better. Note that these work for me, but may not be the best solutions for you!

Get out of the house. A change of scenery helps a LOT when I feel stress and sadness. Whether it’s a walk outside, driving to an event, or running some errands, leaving the house helps. So much.

Have a good cry. Until recently, I didn’t know what it was like to have a healthy, cleansing cry. These days, I’ve found that it helps a LOT to process emotions. To help this process, I put on some music, go on a drive, and let the tears fall. It may be a tiring process, but I feel WAY better after doing this. (Also, this goes along with leaving the house, so win win!)

REST. As I mentioned above, after a good cry, I’m usually really tired. So, what’s important if you can do it? Rest! It’s okay to rest, I promise. You may have family obligations or things you NEED to do, but if you can, take some time out of your day to take a breather. I know it helps me, so I’ll be spending the day listening to music and watching TV in between getting things done around the apartment.

Shake up my routine. One thing I’ve noticed recently is that I’ve been going through the motions in the mornings and evenings more than I’d like. I’ve been eating the same foods for breakfast, been reading the same book for a month or two, and I’ve been sitting on my couch and knitting every single night. It’s time to switch it up a little! Maybe I’ll try a new meal for breakfast. Maybe I’ll write at night instead of knit, or I’ll start a new knitting project. Maybe I’ll take a walk at a different time during the day. Either way, switching it up a little bit helps me feel better as well.

Embrace creativity. Making things always helps me feel better. Writing in my blog (hey, I’m doing this right now!), journaling, listening to music, and playing with my fountain pen inks are some of my favorite things to do to inspire creativity and to keep me moving forward. I’m thankfully never bored!

Since Friday, I’ve done a few of the items on this list, and I’m already feeling better. I’m glad I know what helps me when I’m feeling down, and I’m grateful for those in my life who support me as well. Thank you, everyone!

Five things I want to do in 2023

I know, it’s March and I’m just now writing about things I want to do this year! I don’t like calling them ‘goals’ so they are ‘things I want to do’ instead. If I do them, great, and if not, that’s fine too! Here’s my little list.

Run a half marathon. I consider the day I ran my half marathon one of the best days of my life, so I’d love to run another. At this point I can run about 30 minutes without stopping to walk, so I have to start training once the weather warms up enough for me to run in the mornings again.

Listen to full albums. I love listening to playlists, but I really miss listening to complete albums and falling in love with an artist that way. In the time of streaming music, album listening has fallen off my radar, but I’d like to change this in 2023.

Decorate my apartment. I have lived here for a year and a half and I’ve hung a few things up on the walls, but most of my apartment is pretty empty. I want to blame it on the fear of ruining my plaster walls, but no, I just don’t know how to decorate because I’ve moved every couple years my entire adult life. This changes now!

Roast a chicken. I’m 42 years old and have never roasted a chicken. Yep. I need to have my family over and just do it—I’m a decent cook, so I can’t screw this up! Hopefully. Those might be famous last words…

Get out of my head. I’m notoriously both hard on myself and overthink every word I write. Guess what, this combination sucks! I’m much happier with both my writing and my life when I’m not trapped inside the box I make for myself, so in 2023, now that I’ve done so much work on myself in other areas, it’s time to focus on this particular corner of my brain. Challenge accepted!

Florida DrupalCamp 2023

A couple weeks ago I finally attended Florida DrupalCamp, a camp I had wanted to attend for years! Not only was it the first time I attended, but it was my first time speaking at this conference and my first time speaking at any conference since New England Drupal Camp in 2019! It was such a fun camp and I got to see some of my favorite people in the Drupal community.

Thursday: Arrival

I flew in on Thursday afternoon and immediately got drinks to kick off the camp—it was great to catch up with some people and enjoy a tasty Florida beer in a low key environment! After a couple other coworkers arrived, we all made our way to a Korean BBQ place and we enjoyed so much delicious food and sushi. I ended the evening by going to the same ‘low-key’ bar I had gone to when I first arrived, but it turned into a college student drink haven at night! We shouted at each other over music too loud for this old lady and got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour.

Friday: Training and contribution day

I didn’t attend any trainings on Friday, but I did want to attend the camp to work on my session, learn how to contribute code to Drupal using merge requests, and of course, talk to people! I ran errands with my old pal and former coworker Mike Herchel, and he showed me and my current coworker / session co-presenter Adam Varn the ways of the merge request! I finally got the hang of it after Mike showed me, and it came in handy on Sunday during the contribution day. We ended the day with a couple drinks and great conversation.

Saturday: Session day!

After a fun couple days hanging with coworkers and Drupal friends, it was time for the camp to officially start! After picking up my badge and attending the opening announcements, I attended a lot of fantastic sessions.

Working with Layout Paragraphs: an Easy-to-Use, Drag-and-Drop Content Editing Tool for Drupal by Justin Toupin

I’ve used Layout Paragraphs in a project before and I’ve liked it, so I was interested to hear how others used the module and any best practices to follow. To be honest, I don’t remember much about this session because this was right before our session, but from what I can recall, I thought this session was pretty informative.

Read more about Justin's session and watch the recording.

New things we love and more things we want in CSS by Adam Varn and… me!

Adam Varn and Aubrey Sambor giving their CSS talk at Florida DrupalCamp.

I had so much fun giving this talk and nerding out about CSS with Adam and the people attending the session! We talked about awesome new CSS goodness such as container queries (supported in all modern browsers as of February 14th, 2023!) and :is and :where, and things we want such as subgrid and color-contrast. We ran into a technical difficulty with our slides, but we recovered (fairly) gracefully and continued on with the session. I’m so glad to be back in action speaking at conferences!

View our slides and watch the recording!

Accessible JavaScript In Action by Andy Olson

I met Andy a few years ago at Design 4 Drupal Boston and he started working on my client team the week of the camp, so of course I wanted to check out his session on accessible Javascript! He talked about accessible navigation and modals and I really want to use his navigation techniques on our project.

View Andy's slides and session recording.

Next Drupal admin UI improvements by Cristina Chumillas

Cristina Chumillas talking about Admin UI improvements in Drupal 10.

Cristina spoke to a full house about new improvements in Drupal’s UI and ways to contribute! She discussed an initiative to create a new dashboard for the Drupal admin pages and urged people to help out with the CSS modernization initiative. It was a great session and I came away from it excited for the future of Drupal.

Watch Cristina's session and find out how you can help!

The 10 Most Useful Libraries in Drupal 10 Core by Andy Blum

Andy Blum wrapping up his talk on 10 useful libraries in Drupal 10.

Andy’s a great speaker and I always enjoy attending his talks! In this talk, he listed some useful libraries in Drupal core such as once() and debounce(). I absolutely loved his slides, too, and it was a great session to attend at the end of the day.

Learn about all the libraries by watching Andy's talk.

Lightning talks

We ended the day with lightning talks! People who wanted to participate wrote their name on a whiteboard and each person spoke for about 10 minutes about pretty much anything. One person talked about ChatGPT, another showed off a cool robot, and Mike Anello discussed his grievances with Drupal. It was funny and fast paced and I really enjoyed it!


After the lightning talks, we all headed over to the afterparty, a venue with bowling, axe throwing, corn hole, beer pong, and many other games! After a few hours of fun, we ended the night by checking out a dive karaoke bar in what felt like the other side of town. It was a great way to close a pretty fun day.

A group of Lullabot employees posing outdoors after an evening of games and karaoke.

Sunday: Contribution day

On Sunday morning I got up, checked out of the hotel, and made my way to the venue. I spent the majority of the day participating in the CSS Modernization Initiative, updating Drupal’s 10’s CSS to be more modern after dropping IE11 support. Now we can use CSS custom properties, logical properties, and even nesting with the magic of PostCSS! I was super jazzed to be refactoring code and using some of the techniques I had discussed the previous day.

A group of people seated around tables with computers, attending Florida DrupalCamp contribution day.

After a long, fun day of coding, chatting, and eating pizza, I flew home, returning to a harsh New England winter after a few days in sunny Florida. I’m so glad I finally attended Florida DrupalCamp and I hope to attend (and speak!) again next year!

Challenge accepted

Note: I posted about this on Mastodon a couple days ago, only because I couldn’t make myself sit down and write a blog post about this due to getting in my own head about my writing. Well, tonight I decided to just sit down and write, perfection be damned!

I haven’t ever picked a yearly word or phrase, but this year, one popped into my head: challenge accepted. I don’t know how I came up with this word and why it didn’t appear to me until late February, but it fits for where I am now in my life.

After a couple tumultuous years (The pandemic! A breakup! Impostor syndrome! Mental health stuff probably due to all of the above!), I spent 2022 spending a ton of time by myself, taking it easy and resting and writing and learning what I want out of life. Maybe this also came from turning 40 in 2020, but after taking this time in 2022, I feel more myself than I have in years and I feel more ready to take on the world, both easy and hard.

In the past, when faced with difficult things, my impulse was to hide or cry or criticize myself. Now, after a year of self reflection, I face difficulty with curiosity and wonder and take it as an opportunity to learn even more about myself and why I react to things the way I do. it’s hard but in a different way, the kind of challenge that feels good on the other side. Instead of hiding from difficulty, I face it head on. Challenge accepted, I say, because I know I’m strong enough to face almost anything.