the art of relaxation

I deal with a pretty big amount of stress and anxiety. Right now, on top of all my school responsibilities, I’m in the midst of trying to find a new place to live by the first of May. I’ve already moved twice since CreComm started last September, and I’m so incredibly exhausted of the whole process. I’m also trying to look for a summer job so I can pay off my line of credit and get some work experience.

With all of these things going on, along with being an introvert, it can be really hard for me to relax and recharge. But I still try. Here are some activities I do to calm myself.

Do a guided meditation. At night, when I’m laying in bed and my head is spinning with all of the things I need to do, I will put on a guided meditation by Michael Sealey. He has an extremely soothing voice. Some of his videos include: releasing negativity, meeting your higher self, and many many more. Check out Michael’s YouTube channel.

Take a bath. There’s nothing that a warm bath won’t help, even just a little bit. I love turning off the lights and lounging in the tub with a few drops of lavender oil. I guess it sort of resembles being in the womb and not having any worries or responsibilities? Ha.

Stretch out. Sitting at school all day and carrying around a backpack really strains the muscles in my body and can cause some pretty nasty knots. It feels great to stretch and regain some flexibility and circulation in problem areas. I usually watch a video so I can follow along and not get distracted.

Make fresh ginger tea. Brewing up some ginger tea and adding honey is one of my favorite acts of self-care. There are so many benefits of fresh ginger tea: it stimulates appetite, relieves tired muscles, and helps to soothe a sore stomach. Ginger root is available at most grocery stores, and the tea itself is very easy to make.

What do you like to do to chill out? Comment and let me know!

Alana Mercer personality profile

Smoke creeps across the stage and into the energetic crowd as Joanne Rodriguez and Alana Mercer begin their set at The Pyramid Cabaret. Mercer sits behind her 4-piece silver drum kit sporting a sleeveless Taylor Swift shirt. Her stark red hair pokes out from underneath a black and white trucker hat.

The two-piece band Chica Boom Boom is opening up for American singer-songwriter and hard-core partier Andrew W.K.

“I think I’ve had a crush on that man for 17 years. When he played here last, he said hello to me in the middle of a song and tried to get me to sing a long. I was just like ‘EEEEEEE, oh my god’,” Mercer laughs.

Rodriguez and Mercer have known each other for ten years. They played in a doo-wop band called The Angry Dragons and an Alice Cooper cover band, Muscle Love. In 2013 the pair formed Chica Boom Boom: a gritty in-your-face rock and roll band. Since then, they have recorded two music videos with local filmmaker Gwen Trutnau and are working with Exchange District Studios to release an album.

“For our first video, we took one of the back seats out of Joanne’s van and shot inside of it. Gwen styled it so fucking wicked. There was a Hello Kitty hookah pipe with an inverted cross on it. It was beautiful,” says Mercer.

But the creative process is slow going because of their busy schedules. While Mercer, 32, manages the pizza side of Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant full time, Rodriguez, 40, runs Rogue Tattoo, her own body modification shop on Corydon Ave. Mercer has burn scars all along her arms that reflect the hard work she does.

When they do get the time to practice, they try being as creative as possible. “We’re not jammers who spend four hours on a riff. We play a piece and we sit on it like an egg,” says Mercer.

“We only write hits. We don’t write anything shitty,” Rodriguez says with a smile.

Mercer lights up a joint and takes a swig from a bottle of Ballantine’s. “I used to depend on smoking pot or getting drunk to write stuff when I was really young, but then I realized that’s kind of bullshit. If I can’t do it when I’m sober then I can’t do it at all,” says Mercer. “I want to know I’m working hard and it’s not just drunken chance that I wrote a good riff.”

When Mercer was 20 years old, she left Vancouver with her savings and the plan of going across Canada city to city and stopping where she liked it best. When she got to Winnipeg, she fell in love with the people and music scene.

“In Winnipeg there is this whole range of people that play music together, who are super supportive. Trying to get into the scene in Vancouver was impossible, you felt so intimidated,” says Mercer.

It’s through the music community that Mercer met her boyfriend of seven years, Karl Warkentin. The couple, along with several other members of the Winnipeg metal community, recorded the soundtrack to the short film “Polar Express.”

“She’s helped me appreciate music from a different perspective. Listening to it without bias. Good music is good music, and fuck off otherwise,” says Warkentin.

Mercer draws inspiration from Dolly Parton to Venom, and local bands such as Solanum, Archagathus, and Sphagnum.

“I don’t think I could ever move away from this city, I love how fucked up everyone is here. No one is normal. It’s the best.”

leather sewing

When I visited Belgium in 2013, I purchased a beautiful black leather jacket with a quilted red lining. A few days later, I traveled to Clisson, France for Hellfest – a three-day long metal festival – and picked up several black, white, and red embroidered patches to adorn my leather. (Yes, I love color coordination and specifically these three colors together.)

It’s not easy sewing patches onto leather, but having the right tools to begin with will make the process much smoother. First off, I recommend buying bonded nylon thread. It’s thick, durable, and it comes in many different colors.

Black and red bonded nylon thread.

You will definitely need to buy a thimble. Don’t waste your time or money getting one from a dollar store – they are cheap and will fall off your thumb, which is very annoying when trying to complete a project. Invest in a high-quality thimble.

You will also need a Glovers needle. This heavy needle has a sharp triangular point that makes it easy to pierce leather.

All of these products can be purchased in downtown Winnipeg at a store called Warkov-Safeer located at 462 Hargrave Street.

When I sewed these patches onto my jacket, I did not use any sort of adhesive to keep them in place. I just held them down with one hand and sewed with the other, partially because I didn’t have the right pins, and also ’cause I didn’t want to make any additional, unnecessary holes.

Venom. One of the first black metal bands, hailing from the UK.
Sepultura. Brazilian thrash metal.
Voivod. Underrated progressive thrash from Quebec.

The jacket turned out beautifully and I look forward to adding more patches as I see fit.