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As I Phyxate

Please make sure you are safely buckled and fastened in for this roller coaster! Enjoy the ride!

By Blondie WillettPublished about a year ago 21 min read
Desert Trip - 2016


Lets start things off on how my music repertoire began. The very first exposure I had to live music was a Bob Dylan concert when I was less than a year old. Although this doesnt seem possible for a baby to recall, it's been proven that infants brains absorb music and sounds from a young age that stay with them throughout not only childhood, but adulthood as well, and form a basic foundation. While Bob Dylan is usually an aquired taste, his stylization has always held a special place in my heart. The folk singing methods and simple melodies filled with harmonics feels like the home I grew up in. Appropriately this song in particular "The Times They Are A-Changin'", fit right into my beginnings of coming into this world, a changing, new world for myself and a changing one for my newly made parents.


How could a year old do anything other than do what babies do? Exist to survive and explore the world they were born into. From what I gathered from my parents I was a rather happy baby. Although I wasn't exactly planned, my parents fit me and I fit them for the fun active lifestyle they had going. What better way to represent the ease and light heartedness of forgotten childhood memories than a tune we ALL know from a heart warming, laugh attack movie like Shrek?


Curve ball choice? Potentially, but let me give you a little backstory. With all of our travels and adventures, my parents had a life among a family group who were all dirt bike riders & campers. I was placed on a bike from the time I was 11 months old where, strapped in, I would fall asleep to my dad riding about. By the time I was 2 they had me learning to ride myself. It didn't take me long to shove my dad off the 50cc and say, "Off!" that I was riding on my own.

When anyone looks back at Supercross or Motorcross videos the chaos and Woo-Hoos from "Song 2", fit exactly in with the riders ripping across desert and over dunes; which is exactly how I remember feeling knowing I could ride all day. Dirt bike riding has always been close to my heart; still one of my favorite hobbies. I will forever be grateful for my parents teaching me a priceless type of freedom.


These two choices are a homage to my mother specifically. I've always been a daddy's girl, the tomboy that could drive my mom crazy with my shenanigans. However, there are very specific things I remember my mom loving and everytime I hear either of these songs I think immediately of her. As a little girl Halloween was always a big deal, we went ALL out. Yes it was fun but it wasn’t just a night of ghouls and frights, it was also my mothers birthday. That's right, she was a spooky baby! So Halloween was treated with a little more celebration than most.

What does this have to do with these songs? When it came to decorations there was a plethora. Many caught my eye as a child, but one that stood out was of a bride and groom skeletons. They held each other and looked back at you like they were about to recite vows that would be the death of all (no pun intended). If you pressed their hands that were held in each others, they would start to sing Sonny and Cher's song. I could play it over and over again, humming along with them, so much so that when it was time to put them away my dad would be grateful he didn't have to hear that 30 second sample anymore!

To wrap this up, "Tiny Dancer" doesn't have to do with Halloween, but a memory that stays vividly clear in my mind. Sundays were the day we used to clean house as a family, much to my dismay. TV was not allowed until chores were done. As much as I wished to do anything, but participate, my parents knew how to reel me in. I was allowed to choose which records we listened to, yes the actual records on our record player. I knew that whenever my mom was in a so-so mood, selecting Madman Across the Water would get her smiling, whistling and dancing. Seeing her let loose and be happy always made the day and work go by quicker.


Every person has a movie or a small number of movies that made an impression on them.

A movie I watched on repeat so much so I'm surprised the disk didn't break, was Wizard of Oz. Every time Judy Garland would belt out "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", I would have the TV up as high as it could go and dance around the living room, wishing to go to a far off place like Munchkin Land. I hear this song to this day and think about sitting in that living room in my little footsie pajamas, hair a mess, watching it for the nth time while I waited for parents to wake up on the weekend so we could have breakfast together.


Every child has their first dreams of who they want to be: princess, cowboy, super hero, etc. Well mine was to be a singer, but not the next Britney Spears or Madonna, I wanted to be a Rockstar. The endearment of being on stage, singing, shredding guitar to thousands of people seemed thrilling. Even at the age of 5 I could feel the adrenaline in my veins, the speeding beat of my heart as I imagined myself there. There's always a beginning to those childhood dreams and one of the parts was the movie Josie and the Pussycats. A bit ironic as I now understand that the movie was meant to show the darker side of what it meant to be part of the entertainment industry. Be that as it may, I still look back and watch this movie in the mindset of the 5 year old with sparkling eyes for the future I desperately wanted. I'm the one and always will be a Punk Rock Prom Queen.


Our lives aren't all happy days with sunshine and rainbows. We hope we never have to go through pain or suffering, to be sad, to cry, to see others we love upset or hurting. Unfortunately, life isn't predictable, we can't stop bad things from happening. Without being too personal on a public domain, my family life was disturbed and for reasons I'd rather keep to myself, my older half-brother was taken from the house.

At 5 almost 6 years old this wasn't something I was prepared to handle. The happy family trips and peace were disrupted by therapy, intense energy at home, yelling, and a nagging need to blame myself. ‘It was my fault. I had caused it, I was wrong, I shouldn't have said anything, if I just had listened...’


I was 6 years old. I was a child. That's the bottom line.

Regardless of therapy I wasn't consciously aware of the gravity of the damage that had been done to my subconscious mind. I wasn't aware of the pain I was, and still to this day, am holding on to. My outgoing sparks of laughter and freedom became timid, timid turned to resentment, resentment turned to anger. An angry, confused, high energy kid acting like a stray puppy backed into a corner was not a good combination to have. Behind Blue Eyes laid questions I didn't know how or if I should ask. I became isolated, felt like no one would understand and because they couldn't understand, again I must be the problem. At such a young age I turned to hurting myself, wanting people to hate me so that they wouldn't care; if they didn't care, they wouldn't mind when I would disappear. When I thought about running away I was too frightened I would be caught, so what other option was there to disappear? Yes, at 6 years old I was suicidal, I didn't know what that word meant, or how to tell someone about it, I didn't even know it was wrong to be that way. I just thought it made sense.

Obviously writing this 20 years later, my attempts never succeeded, but I still accept that darkness as a part of my story, a part of who I was. It adds to the validity that I belong here, that I have a purpose bigger than the need to disappear. A light illuminates a small dark space, many lights when gathered have the strength the banish the void all together. I ask you to remain strong and be One More Light that stands to banish the loneliness, brighten the lives of those in doubt, because we all are meant for something.


How to we come back from that? Well it's not easy and the rest of the ride goes up and down, so hey if that was a steep fall just make sure we’re buckled up for the rest of the roller coaster ride that has been my life. Don't worry it'll be fun!

With everything in my family life being rocky, it's only fitting that my peer group wouldn't let me off easy. I was attending a private Lutheran School as a nonreligious, wild child, with a new reputation for having an attitude problem. Sounds like a movie sypnosis we've all seen read or seen before. As an outsider to the group you either sink or swim. The bullying was brutal, constant, never ending; 1st grade was only the pebbles of the boulders of mountains I would face. However, I would not be silenced, I may not have believed in their faith, or their ways, but I believed in myself.

"This is Me, whether you like me or not is not my business."


A classical piece after musicals, numetal and folk's not as weird as it seems, I promise!

Back in 2003 when I was gearing towards being a rockstar, I had vocalized those desires to my parents. Without missing a beat, my mother tells me there's no way I'm going to do that because I simply don't have the talent. (Love parental support!) Although that was defeating to hear and I felt that maybe they were right, that didn't mean I couldn't learn an instrument right?

Coming back to 2005...

My parents and I attended a late night open house to showcase student work, classrooms, have dinner and to socialize. In my 3rd grade classroom, my teacher Mrs.Torno had a piano and she used it often for some of our lessons. Easily she is still my favorite elementary school teacher. During this open house my dad followed me into the classroom and while I was distracted for a moment, I suddenly hear him start playing something. Up until this point the only instrument I knew my dad knew how to play was guitar so I was instantly drawn in and watched him intently. In those few short minutes he taught me the very first section of Fur Elise by Beethoven.

It should come as no surprise I was hooked and asked very soon after for piano lessons. Thinking there was no way my parents would say no because they had already let me do martial arts, girl scouts and soccer; I was excited to start. The answer: "Absolutely not, a musical instrument will never add any value to your life and you won't be dedicated to it."


I did say roller coaster right? Back up and into a loop with Metal/Rock, “Bodies” was a theme song that I heard quite often. Why would a 9 year old hear this when Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga were topping the charts? It goes back to one of my extracuricular activities! By this time I was a purple belt and been in martial arts for 3 years, I was now at the level where I could be a part of public performances. Where I lived we had an annual fair and we were booked as an act to show our abilities and to help raise awareness of the need and ability to learn to protect oneself. Guess what song we used as one of our katas? Nothing more appropriate than throwing people to "Let the bodies hit the floor!"


What girl wanting to be a rockstar didn't listen to Pop Punk Princess Avril Lavigne? There's not too much to say about this one other than that I started loving color extensions, skulls and her clothing line Abbey Dawn. Can you see the punk/emo kid in the making? That side laid dormant for a bit, but she was there nonetheless waiting her turn.


Unlike most 11 year olds I didn’t get a Disney channel phase; I went into a whirlpool of the infamous Beatles craze that I was nearly 50 years late for. I only listened to The Beatles records on repeat, my iPod Mini loaded to the max. I could sing you every song and had all the different live performances. My obsession still showed my preferences for sound when out of all the songs I was stuck on Revolution 9. The heavy distorted electrical guitar from the get go was just the angsty engery a soon to be teenager thrived on.

Meanwhile I still enjoyed watching American Idol when that was THE thing to see on TV. My mom and I's bonding time was spent watching it and voting for our favorites.

David Cook was one of our picks from the beginning, considering he was infamous for playing many favorite Beatles tunes. The performance I picked by him specifically was "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing", originally by Aerosmith. It held so much emotion and intensity, I felt like I was enveloped by the TV screen as if I was there in the audience. Subconsciously I believe this moment reinforced my desire to be a part of music.


Knowing I was finally leaving my supressive Lutheran Elementary/Middle School meant I had an even bigger inclination to not try and fit in. I was strange and aware of my differences, but it got me to the door that was leading to this adventure I was about to embark on. I was going to live in another country! It doesn't get much more bizarre than that for 12 year olds who, the majority, have never left the state. Out of fear for themselves not to be ostracized or bullied, any "friends" I had were acquaintances at best. At that point, I wasn't concerned with comparing spelling scores with classmates or provoking my youth minister with atheistic questions. Yes, it was lonely, but I'm confident in who I am today and am proud to have been and be labeled the "Strange Girl".


Adding in a little dance and acoustic work we look at my international travels being an influence.

In 2010 I moved to Norway to spend time with my Norwegian family, I was to spend a year there living with just my grandmother and aunt. Something in America we don't harbor the same energy for, as the rest of the world is Soccer, Football if you're across the Atlantic. In Norway, you're a Football fan as the city I was staying had one of the best teams in all of Europe. As it was I actually was shown Shakira's song by a Thai international student and we played it nonstop throughout the year. It still holds a feeling of bravery and emotion I don't think I'll ever be able to put into words. The feeling that 'We are one', comes to mind.

Next we have "I'm Yours", by Jason Mraz; My dad and I have always been close through things we do together, but while I was living over 5,000 miles away we couldn't exactly do much other than skype. Still he found a way to say he loved me and missed me; he put together a slideshow of photos of us and I'm Yours played in the background. Words again fail me as I was already home sick, but to get that from my dad made me miss my family all the more.

Lastly "Imagine", by John Lennon doesnt have a huge significance other than it was a personal favorite of my next door neighbor back home. My grandmother may not have had internet at her house, but she had a piano and that's all I could ask for. Through pure stubborness and constant trial and error, I taught myself how to play Imagine on the piano. Although I'm rusty with it today, I still remember how it felt to play it all the way through for the first time and the pride in myself that I knew I could do it. Musicianship was not so far out of my reach as my parents had made it seem.


After I returned from Norway I found that I had a hard time relating to any of my peers. I had seen a completely different side of the world, and my new classmates were concerned with boys, makeup and fitting in. While I always knew I was different from elementary school, I realized quickly that high school wasn't about to be any different. Still it didn't deter me from being myself. I was "Born This Way baby", and there was no changing it!

(Lady Gaga is one of my biggest inspirations in life and in music!)


The earlier part of 2012 brings me to a whole new chapter into young adulthood. By this time I had been brought up with AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Blink 182 and The Beastie Boys. What do all those artists have in common? They're all male lead; the female representation of my music exposure was horrendously out of balance. However, luckily with the ability to have access to a home computer and a subscription to Loudwire connected me with one of my biggest heros in music, Lzzy Hale from Halestorm. Over 10 years ago I started listening to them and have never wavered in my complete awe and motivation. Raw, powerful, driven, humble and talented; this band ignited the dimming coals from being snuffed 10 years prior.

The next two in my list are not only two female power houses, but the each have a part to play in my history with my passion for music. Back during this time Disneyland in California had a club of sorts that was all ages; live band, DJ, dancers etc. and it was Alice in Wonderland themed. Up until this point I had been exposed to pop music from the early 90s and some 2000s from watching MTV. Having a live DJ and dancers to show the potential pop music had to ignite energy and art was inspirational. This song by Rhianna still gives me chills and transports me back to that place when I didn't think about anything, but the present.

Although I'd rather end this year on a positive note I have to break the reality of things. That time period did seem like a fairy tale, Disney magic and all, but when you mix unsupervised teenage girls and adults that should know better with alcohol in their system, you get a very toxic concotion. Luckily nothing of note happened, yet still looking back there's was so much that shouldn't have happened. The moment I heard Demi's "29" the line, "Thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy...But was it yours or was it mine?" It gave me skin crawling memories of being a 14/15 year old and thinking that it was okay from someone above the age of 21 to be interested in me. All I can say is that I'm happy I was able to speak up when I was truly uncomfortable because not everyone is at that age.


Did anyone really think we were going to get through this list WITHOUT an emo phase? I didn't think so. I was a late bloomer into the emo band scene as I honestly didn't believe that there was anymore music being made. Well I was about to have the flood gates ripped wide open.

I might not be their biggest fan anymore, but BVB was my starting gate to discovering all the scene had to offer. Specifically I chose "Devil's Choir", because I connected with the line "Look into this life you're leaving, I promise you this isn't pain you're feeling". For quite a few years I wanted to tattoo those words on my back as a reminder that even though I was in the midst of tough times, not knowing they would be getting tougher, I could and would make it through.

SWS follows this lineup with the upbeat, simple short message of: "Keep looking down on me. I'm more than you'll ever be." Appropriate for an emo kid right? I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder by this point as I was tired of being pushed around and seeming like I could be manipulated because I was nice and quiet at times. Especially academically speaking, I refused to be a whole other groups victim for their entertainment.

That's exactly where NIN comes into play with "Only". Not only am I a huge Trent Reznor fan for his immense talent, but I grew up listening to NIN. 2013 was the first time I got to seem them live and it sent a precedent for what live shows could be. "Less concerned about fitting into the world, your world that is." It takes an undisclosed amount of time for anyone to realize that we all exist in our own worlds and it's okay to. What's not okay is to get to the end, death, and wish your life could've been different. We all have choices, but we have to make the decision to make a choice, because ultimately it's our life.


"High school are the best days of your life!"... Maybe if you're the main character of an 80's movie where running away on some rebel rockstar life seems dreamy and ideal...but that's not the real world. Emotions are hard; People, especially teenagers, are cruel; Family pressure is intense; Higher education isn't for everyone; But everyday it's tests, APs, extra curiculars, boys, girls, teachers, studying, homework, drama, popularity, chores, part-time jobs, hormones and more studying. It's the epitome of overwhelming, oversaturated and overrated. I personally spiraled - hard; in a constant mental state of depressive and suicidal thoughts. The only things keeping my afloat were the measly amount of endorphins I could rangle through exercise and music. The song below "Better", speaks to my struggle I felt and can still go through even to this day. We can't fix all of our problems easy 1, 2, 3, but we can do better.


Becoming a college freshman 3,000 miles from home in a state I had never been to before is exactly the move normal people dont expect 18 year olds to make. Who actually wants to be normal? Even then I was having an inclination living to meet others expectations wasn't what I was meant for. When you graduate they ask you what you're going to do, whether that's college or a job, etc. Although I was going for higher education I had a less vocalized goal; I wanted to grow to be a kinder, nicer person, reliable, independent and positive. The world is beautiful no matter how clouded our sight might be by social media and the news headlines bombarding us with tragedy and social pressures. While many focus on the materialistic, political side, why couldn't I at least try to focus on the humanitarian and nature side? Why not grow to be a person who tries to bring love and light into peoples days? Seeing people smile is what brings me happiness and a "Whole Lotta Love" is what I have to give.

Peace, Love and Rock'n'Roll.


Right at the time when life seems to throw us constant curve balls and were in the midst of doubt, looking for an answer, she smacks us in the right direction. My second year of college I attended a junior college that had my degree and also joined another volleyball team. Up until this point: Volleyball, Music and Art had become everything to me. I had never missed a game or practice in 13 years unless I was injured. For the first time in that time period I had to make a decision: a game or a once in a lifetime 3 day festival to see legends of the music world. I chose music and I was kicked off my volleyball team because of it. "Don't let your mindset become what controls you. Speak right now and make the choice to grow. Dont run away." I could look at the results and regret my choice, or I could see the potential for other opportunities and grow. Not 2 weeks later I dislocated my knee for the second time.

I've never regretted my decision.


Volleyball is over. School is starting to bore. Relationship is stagnating. A new cycle appears and time seems to flow with ease yet ebbing dulleness. On a day that was as systematically in sync as the one prior, I get a text from the parents, 'Can you come home? We need to talk.' My boyfriend drops me off, I meet them in the backyard and "We're getting kicked out of this house." The one I had just spent the majority of the last 20 years of my life in. The room I had always known. The front yard I had played in rain or shine. The kitchen I had learned to bake in.

…this ever changin' world; In which we live in; Makes you give in and cry; Say live and let die…


By now I’ve lost my sport, my home, dropped out of college, aware my long term relationship is failing, disappointing my parents, no direction and no idea what to do about it.

I’m defeated and exhausted; somehow even though I told myself I was making my own way, I was still subconsciously making desicions that would satisfy everyone else. That’s the death sentence to passion and creativity.

All I want to do; Is be more like me; And be less like you…

This is where I released it, I began to cut the weights of my restraints.

I know the girl that you adored; She's dead, it's time to fucking mourn..


In 2017 Chester Bennington died just around the same time I was looking to finally see Linkin Park live. This sparked a desire to find any band I had to make a priority to see before they passed or retired. That decision brought me to a festival in Columbus, Ohio - Sonic Temple to see SOAD. Happily surprised I’d also get to see Halestorm and Papa Roach (a childhood favorite I had forgotten about).

This little festival, “..Rock Show [that I spent entirely] in the front row...[I'll] never be the same again...”, changed EVERYTHING.

In a world that had told me material possessions and money would make me happy…why was it that music and art gave me a feeling that consumerism never once delivered?

You're a slave to the system...I don’t need that sh!t!”


Everyone had something they felt was finally going to make 2020 their year and then…

Pandemic. Riots. Death.

End of the world as we all knew it.

[These songs speak for themselves.]

(Iron Maiden - 2 Minutes to Midnight)

(grandson - 6:00)

(Childish Gambino - This is America)


Is death the end? Or is it the door to the next beginning?

With every hardship everything has the opportunity to persevere and if they don’t something meant to will take its place.

Existence is ultimately an experience and we can fall into our old cycles, old ways waiting for the next hardship; or we can change. What experience do you want, but aren’t choosing?

Let’s fall…in love…with music…” ~ Andrew Wood


Infidelity. A funeral. Womens Rights. Depression. Helplessness. Togetherness. Resurrection.

My 2022 was a chaotic mess, what I believe, was a test of my endurance and will to survive. I'm an adult now, young, but still responsible for my actions, my future. Choosing my passion, my heart, myself means hurting other people, cuting ties with some and having to put distance from others. This was the last year I was going to sacrifice my time to distractions or belittle myself to make others happy. We have such a limited amount of breaths, it's precious and unstable.

I believe more and more every day needs to be lived with purpose and intent. We live in a crazy world and it won't slow down for the likes of you or me.

"We're just a room full of strangers...Alone together, we're dying to live and we're living to die..."


This playlist has been a long journey through the highs and lows of my life and I thank, from the bottom of my heart, anyone who takes the time to get this far. The complexity of our stories can't be summarized in 5000 words and a few songs, but this gets us close enough. Music has and always will be my life.

Ain't it Fun living and figuring sh!t out on your own.

No matter what the Show Will Go On.

All My Life I'll keep on keeping on.

Life is ours, we need to live it our way because Nothing Else Matters.

By now, "You [all] know I'm a dreamer...My heart's like an open book...For the whole world to read"; and the world of music is where I'll find my Home Sweet Home.

quotessong reviewsplaylistmetallistindustryfestivalsconcertbands90s music80s music70s music60s music

About the Creator

Blondie Willett

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  • Sandra Matosabout a year ago

    Thank you for sharing your life and so many good tunes with us! I always find it brave for people to lay their lives bare for all to see. It helps other people to see how other people cope! Love this.

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