Archive for the ‘Somewhere in between phases’ Category

I’ve been meaning to write.

I’ve been meaning to write about pain and loss and grief and the importance of finding small joys.  I’ve been meaning to write about uncertainty and inevitability, the uncomfortable position of navigating a friend’s mourning process in hopes of offering solace and support, and the even more difficult conversations you have with people for whom hope is not an option, but neither is defeat.

I’ve been meaning to write about my own anxiety and the endless one-note symphony of my creative failure.   I’ve been meaning to write about the hard, dull thud in one’s soul when, just for a moment, you catch of glimpse of your place in the universe.   I’ve been meaning to write about fear – fear of having traveled the wrong path for too long, the fear of aging and the unspoken powers of youth.    I’ve been meaning to write about the inequities of physical beauty, and raw, tangible talent versus much-practiced, lesser abilities.

But when I sit down to arrange any of this in a reasonable, logical fashion I get stuck on how unreasonable and illogical it all is.  And I feel helpless.  I cannot give myself the attributes I do not possess and I cannot change the circumstances of those I see around me.   And really, they aren’t in the same realm are they?  Absolute loss and misguided expectations are two different aspects of the hard parts of life.

And so I haven’t written at all because I don’t know what to say.

I tell myself to keep seeking out the small joys – dancing in the living room with my kids, singing in the car, enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning.  I tell myself that as long as I’m alive and healthy with a roof over my head I can still work out the feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I tell myself that the time to save face and hold back is over.  There’s nothing to save; let people look and laugh or look and admire or ignore it all.  But there really is nothing to be saved for later.

Give it all now.  Give it all you’ve got.

small joys

A poem for Wednesday

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Somewhere in between phases
Tags: ,

Life, I understand you perfectly
in that you make no sense
Those brightly colored
moments of joy exploding against
the grey, solid, structure of every-day
before sliding sluggishly
into the mundane
feels like you
are egging me
on

An ode to independent film, San Francisco in the 90′s and my inexplicable obsession with an actor who had a role in War Horse.

I have hit rock bottom.

There’s a red Netflix envelope sitting on my kitchen table.  I meant to mail it yesterday but somehow didn’t find the time.  Today my kids and I are sick, hacking and coughing and generally just being miserable; in short, housebound.  Tomorrow my husband returns from his business trip.  If I haven’t gotten that movie off in the mail by then he will notice it for sure and ask, “Which movie is that?”warhorse

“Oh, just a movie, a movie you don’t want to see.”

“Really?” he’ll ask.  “Which movie I don’t want to see?”

“Oh you know – a movie. There are a lot of movies you don’t want to see, I can’t even remember all the titles.”

“But which one is that?” he’ll ask.

Finally, unable to bear the shame any longer I will exclaim, “War Horse. I’ve watched War Horse!”

How did I get here?

Just two Christmases ago I recall sitting in my in-law’s living room listening to an aunt gush about this amazing movie she’d just seen – Spielberg, horses, war. Epic!  I shot my husband a bemused look.  The amount of overblown, emotionally manipulative tripe contained in just the trailer was enough to cause my past self, a community college film school dropout, to rush outside for a clove cigarette and a snide, Gen-X patented rant on all that is wrong with mainstream movies. War Horse! Really?

I haven’t always been a mainstream movie snob.   My mother loved the movies; musicals were her favorite and she passed that love on to me.  I grew up watching late night TV showings of Gigi and Brigadoon and Singin’ in the Rain.  Movies were beautiful and fun and uplifting.  Never mind that usually after the main feature was over, my mom would change the channel to catch The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery. (Submitted for your approval: The Nightmares of my Childhood.  Demonic dolls in a lavish musical production, singing and dancing their way up my basement stairs to carry me off to the grave!)

When the home video industry began to take off in the 1980’s my mom was ready to lay out some cash to watch the movies she wanted to see when she wanted to see them.  There were a lot of flavors of home video  on the market at first and a particularly loquacious sales person at our local appliance shop convinced my mother that the RCA Video Disc players were the wave of the future.  They had an eclectic, but limited (probably because RCA Video Discs were not the wave of the future), rental section and my mom never vetted my choices.   By the time I had graduated high school I had watched The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd The Wall,  and Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange – those are just the films I felt I “got away with”.  There were plenty more that weren’t as gratuitous with the sex and violence and occasional rock and roll, but those three things summed up my favorite flavors of cinema. 

Once in college I sought out more underground films, but it was Central Pennsylvania in the late 80’s and art house theaters wouldn’t be popular for another 20 years.  I watched a lot of movies on VHS– Sid and Nancy (not really underground, but it had no theatrical release in my hometown), Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, Suburbia.    I still recall taking my boyfriend/future husband to see Dogs in Space, a film about the Australian punk scene starring Michael Hutchence.  As she handed over our tickets, the theater cashier looked at my husband-to-be and asked earnestly, “Now you know this movie isn’t about dogs or space, right?”  He looked at me for guidance.  I nodded reassuringly.  Did I seem like someone who wanted to see a movie about dogs and space? Did I seem like someone who would grow into middle age and want to see, War Horse, a movie that is actually about war and a horse?

I moved to San Francisco in the 90’s and discovered indie films, art house films, repertory film houses and the Film Arts Foundation.  There was so much to watch!  By this time my husband had decided he could only handle a small portion of the films I found important, so I went to the theater alone quite often.  We lived in the Haight, the famed hippie neighborhood of the 60’s, and just a few blocks away was The Red Vic, a cooperatively owned repertory house where I watched Jan Svankmajer’s Alice for the first time.  The Embarcadero, The Opera Plaza, and The Clay were all owned by Landmark, and showed only independent and foreign films.  In those theaters I discovered Jane Campion, Todd Haynes, and Mike Leigh. Over in the Mission was The Roxie, which showed first-run independent films and repertory films.  It also hosted a lot of film festivals and I had the pleasure of watching two of my own movies on the big screen there.  For everything else there was video rental – Leather Tongue in the Mission; Into Video, my local video store on Haight Street; Le Video over on the avenues.  Le Video is the only rental store that still exists from that list while  The Red Vic is the only theater mentioned here that is closed.

But back to War Horse, and my desperate attempt to illustrate why I am too savvy a film goer to be sitting home alone watching it on DVD.  First, obviously I am not because I did. Second, you can’t really diss Spielberg. He is a master at what he does (But, really?  Did the boy have to return home at sunset?   Did no one in the screening room laugh out loud and say, “You’ve got to be kidding!  He literally rides into the sunset?!?!  That’s so trite, even my grandmother would be insulted”. Perhaps not.  Perhaps you don’t say that if hope to keep your seat in a screening room with Spielberg.)  Even though the movie is clichéd (it is after all based on a children’s book) it hits all the emotional marks at the right time.  I can hate it for that, but I still cried out when it reached its darkest tone and things weren’t looking good for the horse.

But the true reason – well, there’s this actor . . .

Celebrity crushes are embarrassing, particularly at my age, but following an actor’s career, that’s different, right?  Even though I first came across the actor in a Hollywood Superhero Blockbuster movie, this particular Hollywood Superhero Blockbuster movie was written and directed by Joss Whedon and I can’t say anything bad about Joss Whedon.  I named my first born after a character he created for a TV show (no, I don’t have a daughter named Buffy), that connection alone makes Joss practically family.  So I was just being supportive by watching his Hollywood Superhero Blockbuster movie.   Of course after that I had to  watch another Hollywood Superhero Blockbuster movie, just to make sense of the storyline of the first Hollywood Superhero Blockbuster movie.

The second one was directed by Kenneth Brannagh.  Dead Again is a very good film and hasn’t Brannagh done his share of Shakespeare?  This kind of cred made it perfectly fine to be enjoying mindless, mainstream schlock because it was in fact very entertaining and I was certain it was a higher quality schlock than the usual blockbuster schlock. In the meantime I decided my attraction was for a character not the actor himself.

Then I came across a blurb about said actor having played a vampire in a film by Jim Jarmusch. Jim Jarmusch.  I confess I have not seen Stranger Than Paradise in its entirety, but at some point in every film class I’ve ever taken, the instructor has rolled a media cart to the front of the room and  shown us a scene from this film  as  perfect example of whatever they were trying to teach.  What I do know about Stranger than Paradise is that it features Eszter Balint, and she went on to play in The Linguine Incident alongside Rosanna Arquette and David Bowie. Bowie of course has just recently released a new album, The Next Day, and one of the accompanying music videos features Tilda Swinton who is also in the Jim Jarmusch vampire film with my actor obsession.  (All this in my brain and I can’t remember to pick up cooking spray at the grocery store, not one, not two, but three weeks in a row.)

Suddenly my interest went beyond the character and to the actor.  Suddenly it seemed perfectly reasonable to seek out this actor’s body of work.  I couldn’t let my husband know of course, because he wouldn’t understand, and was already privy to my secret The Avengers viewing habit.  But I had already decided: Let the Tom Hiddleston film viewing frenzy begin!Deep Blue Sea

I started with low hanging fruit, The Deep Blue Sea, a watch-it-now selection on Netflix. I waited until my husband went to bed and then eagerly turned on this post-WWII period piece about a woman who leaves her husband for a younger man.   A promising premise, but the story seemed as inane and lifeless as the main character, a beautiful woman named Hester (a classic name for an adulterous woman) who leaves her stodgy older husband for Tom Hiddleston(‘s character) and then remains mired in indecision and depression.  The lack of any substantial movement or character motivation was the most impressive feature of this film.  I later discovered it was originally a stage play written in the 1950’s, which would explain the spot-on dialogue of the era.  Ultimately there’s no real payoff other than the final visual of a bombed out building suggesting perhaps that Hester’s affair and emotional aftermath are just one small part of the devastation created by the war.

In the morning my husband asked me what I had watched and I told him.  He had the title up on IMDB in less than five minutes.

“Just as I thought,” he teased. “Loki.”

The next movie was Midnight in Paris, which I actually had to add to my Netflix queue, return a Pokemon movie and then wait for it to arrive in the mail.  This was a little more work than I had anticipated and made the whole obsession seem – well obsessive.  However, slipping this movie past my husband was easy.

“Hey, you want to stay up and watch a Woody Allen movie with me?”

“No.”

It was that easy.midnight in paris

For the most part I have enjoyed every Woody Allen film I have seen and Midnight in Paris is no exception. Owen Wilson plays the lead, Gil, a screenwriter with artistic aspirations beyond Hollywood who feels he is living in the wrong time. He’s about to marry Rachel McAdams’ Inez, a shallow woman who cares more about appearances and social standing than supporting his creative endeavors.  Naturally only sensitive writer males are searching for more meaningful work in life while females are simply looking for shopping bargains. If women are not shallow then they are hollow, a beautiful vessel in which to store the sensitive male writer’s hopes and aspirations, a muse like Adrianna, the woman Wilson’s character meets when he mysteriously travels back in time to Paris of the 1920’s.

It’s in the Paris of the past where Gil meets the literary greats – Hemmingway, TS Elliot and of course F. Scott Fitzgerald played by Tom Hiddleston.  Fitzgerald, who in real life only thrived financially by writing for Hollywood in the 30’s, but also found the work disheartening, would seem like  a natural sounding board for Gil’s character, but instead we only get a couple of scenes with him.   That’s okay, because once we get to Paris of the 20’s it’s all about Adrianna, and cramming in as many Jazz age cameos as possible.

After Midnight in Paris I checked into IMDB for other titles and decided I had tracked down all that were easily obtainable.  Sure there was still War Horse, but I was not going to watch that on principle, not in a million years, even if someone paid me.  I figured I was done.  I’d wait for the new Thor movie and keep an eye out for the opening of Only Lovers Left Alive and hopefully by that time my interest would have passed.

A day or so later I found out that The Hollow Crown was going to be broadcast on the local PBS station.

With my husband still wide awake and playing a video game on his computer in the kitchen  I nonchalantly turned on the TV and kept the sound down as to not draw attention to myself, but all I could hear was my husband’s Diablo III warrior wench yelling “I require aid!” and “I am overburdened!”.  For heaven’s sake, I thought, get thee to an auction house and pay the necessary gold to properly armor that girl and buy her a few more bags for loot.  While you’re at it, would it kill you to get her some pants. What? The auction house wants real money?  Fine, I’ll turn up the sound!  Catching only every third word of dialogue in Shakespeare is a special kind of hell onto itself.  So up went the sound.  Within moments my husband’s head snapped in my direction.

“What are you watching?” he asked.

“Shakespeare, on PBS,” I replied smugly, feeling all kinds of cultured.

He paused a moment and listened.

“I know that voice!”hollow crown_

Busted.  He did end up watching the final two parts with me and admitted that Loki could really deliver a Shakespearean speech.

You can’t criticize Shakespeare.  I tried once when I was an English major at a liberal arts college (before I was a community college film school dropout) and the professor gave me such a tongue lashing in addition to a C on my finished paper that I learned never to speak badly of the Bard again.  That said, The Hollow Crown, a BBC production of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V, is excellent!  Shakespeare presented with the production value of Game of Thrones, plus Jeremy Irons?  What’s not to love?

I had reached the end of my viewing list.  There were plenty of interviews and such on the internet but I only care about movies. I wanted the damn vampire movie, but the release date seems to be up in the air.

Then my husband was unexpectedly sent out of town on business.  I could watch whatever I wanted in the evenings after the kids had gone to bed.  I could even watch . . . War Horse.

It arrived on a Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of my husband’s leave.  It was in my DVD player by 9 pm that evening, right after the final goodnight to my oldest son.  Tom Hiddleston’s character, Captain Nicholls, shows up early enough.  Just like King Henry in Henry V, he gets sent to fight a war on England’s behalf in France.  However, Captain Nicholls isn’t nearly as lucky as Henry V (although I suppose dying of dysentery at age 35 isn’t particularly lucky either . . .) Without giving too much away, in case you haven’t watched War Horse (and I don’t recommend it)  – he dies, as do a lot of other characters who come in contact with the horse.  War Horse of Death would have been a more apt title.

Here comes the part I have had hard time admitting -even though Tom Hiddleston’s character was clearly out of the picture, I kept watching.  I watched all the way through to the garish, golden-lit sunset ending when the boy, now a soldier who has gallantly faced the horrors of war, rides that damn horse, the only thing he really wanted for the entire picture, up to the gates of his parent’s farm house, proving you can go home again.

And who doesn’t want to go home again?

I myself would  feel at home again sitting in a darkened theater at the Opera Plaza  watching a movie about a depressed rock star vampire (one who is not named Lestat) ; for the duration of the film I could pretend that outside the theater it is still 1995. Why 1995?  Because a film about vampires by Jim Jarmusch starring Tilda Swinton sounds so very 1995 to me.   Because in my San Francisco of 1995 all of my friends are still alive and healthy and hopeful.   The Film Arts Foundation is still the backbone of the local film community and YouTube has yet to arrive.   San Francisco has yet to be remade by the dot com boom and it is still  affordable to all who find themselves drawn to the city. Don’t get me wrong,  I wouldn’t consider abandoning my present,  like Gil from Midnight in Paris.   I love my family, my house by the ocean and all the people who have come into my life since I left San Francisco in 2000.  But an afternoon of brief, inconsequential time travel would be lovely.

Especially if it takes me back to a time and place before I watched War Horse.

He did not mean for it to happen
He was just doing what kids do

Capture and release
Wanting to hold something beautiful

But when he  uncupped his hands
A delicate pair of wings  stuck to his palm
A newly flightless creature crawled across his knuckles

Put it down, I said, before you hurt it more

There, he said, as he flicked it off his hand,
Now it has a new life

We watched it crawl along the ground

Yes, I replied
Remembering
It can happen that fast

word pressButterfly

A stretch limo, broken down in an underpass

I pull up behind because I know that this is my last chance

The driver reads the paper, he’s waiting on a tow

Do you mind if I sit in the back for a while?

We both have no where to go

And let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

The TV is broken, the wet bar is empty

It reeks of puke and perfume from last night’s bachelorette party

The windows are tinted to keep the rider in anonymity

Which I find ironic, since I want out of this obscurity

So let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride to my glory, I want to ride to my fortune and fame

Let me ride to the big time where I can stake my claim

And all the kids from my high school

Now grown up and so mundane

Well they can still have the last laugh, because I am still the same

So let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride

Yes, it’s the ride of my life

limo

In the wake of last night’s VMA’s I have come up with a subversive idea for the music industry.  Why not start promoting new pop artists who are over 35.  What more mature artists may lack in youthful good looks and reckless abandon witnessed on last night’s show, they make up for with years of experience, a serious understanding of paying your dues, and self-respect for one’s craft and performance.

Now I recognize that self-respect doesn’t really sell the way youthful good looks and wild abandon do. This could actually be a good thing.  It could be a reset button, a way to lower the bar for the young performers who feel the need to top all that’s come before, because topping all that’s come before is eventually going  to take us in to Annie Sprinkle territory and I can guarantee you that Annie Sprinkle has done it  better.

We’ve come a long way from Elvis swiveling his hips on Ed Sullivan, or even Madonna humping a wedding veil.  It takes a lot more to shock the audience.  There was a time when playing around with a bit of religious imagery was enough to get some cries of outrage.   However, religion seems to be on the decline in America so it’s hard to get the public riled up over something they may or may not care about.  Besides, Madonna drained that well dry in the 80’s and 90’s and Sinead O’Connor all but paved it over.

It seems we’ve lost the knack for subversive imagery and we’re left with nothing but the actual acts we once artfully paid homage to via creative symbolism.  Or maybe we have nothing left to rebel against.  However, there are things that still seem subversive in our society – conspicuously aging, being fat, being poor, being gentle, being average and being okay with it.  Unfortunately, none of these things make a marketable train wreck.

I maintain that here are a lot of musicians in this world, who in my opinion deserve way more attention than some of last night’s VMA acts received.  Here’s a list of some  artists/bands that would have shocked and amazed the audience both by delivering a compelling performance and also by breaking the ever devolving pop-star mold.  Check them out if you get a chance.

Diggsville

Adam Beach

The Hodges

The Clarences

Bite

Zoid

As crafty as I get

As crafty as I get

 

Summer has hit the bay area.  Here in my neck of the woods we’re weathering temperatures as high as the low 70′s.  Don’t laugh, that’s really warm for us.  I haven’t worn my black hoodie all day and now I’m sporting shorts.  I’d take the kids to the beach but I know it will be packed with people who are pretending they are in Hawaii and that just gets on my nerves.

Our favorite beach time is in January and February when your rain boots can do double duty to both keep your feet dry and the sand out of your socks.  Nothing like sitting on a deserted beach, bundled up in a jacket and a scarf beneath a hazy winter sky, watching all the hardcore surfers bob up and down in the arctic waters waiting to catch the perfect swell. And you always get the best spot on the beach too, a little nook in the rocks to shelter you from the winds.  Don’t forget the sand toys.

With the kids home from school we’ve been checking out the local attractions. We’ve hit the bowling alley, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve,  and the San Francisco Zoo.  Next on my list is Playland-Not-At-the-Beach in El Cerrito. In between the big outings we do the usual things like parks, playgrounds, the library, and of course arts and crafts here at home.  My kids live for the next Oriental Trading Company catalog to show up in our mailbox so they can make plans for a dozen inflatable beach balls or juggling scarves.  This time around we ordered some wooden fish to color and I splurged on a bag of self adhesive jewels, which I plan to stick to everything and everything I can think of, knowing that eventually the glue will dry out and they will all fall off.  While others may feel that spending money on cheap sundries is a waste, I feel it teaches kids a valuable lesson: everything falls apart, nothing is permanent.

With all this frenzy of summer fun, I am doing my best to put in some music practice time. I have a show with the Debora Iyall Group coming up on July 4th at the World One Festival which should be a blast, even without all the fireworks.

I’m also finishing up the tracking and mixing of two songs for my side project, Shot in the Dark.  We played our first online/Second Life show on June 23rd and received a positive reception so I’m excited to get some finished music out there, wherever “there” is.

Finally I’ve got a video project in the works for Zoid.  The ball is in my court and I can see where I want to take it, but the work involved is a little daunting as it requires a lot of sitting quietly at my computer and fiddling with Adobe After Effects.  It’s much easier to go outside with the kids and bop around a dozen or so beach balls from the Oriental Trading Company, because these warm days, like all those beach balls are not here forever.

It really is all about finding balance, isn’t it?

Here’s a couple of things for you to give a listen and look. First,  here’s a song from the Shot in the Dark online show:

Fan Fic (Sexy Serial Killer) – Shot in the Dark, live

And the last video I created for Zoid, which I think turned out pretty well.  Would love to hear what you think in the comments!

 

*Nevada City is . . .

A.)   Deceptively not in Nevada

B.)    California’s most well preserved Gold Rush Town

C.)    A little strange after dark

D.)   Where I found myself last Saturday night playing a gig with the Debora Iyall Band

E.)    All of the above

 

I love a good road trip, but I rarely take to the open road alone.  Still I found myself cruising down I-80 E towards Grass Valley with nothing but my keyboards and some new music this past Saturday afternoon, headed for a show with the Debora Iyall Band. While the keyboards didn’t do much more than occasionally rumble around in the back when I hit a rough patch of highway, the music turned out to be a great companion.  The road opened up to rolling, barren hills beneath an ultra-blue sky as lush as the  synth sounds on M83’s “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming”; the rustic countryside of Highway 49 provided both a compliment and stark contrast to plaintive vocals of EMA’s Grey Ship.  “When you see that ship, it is the ship you can see, when the grey ship calls it is calling for me.”

Pit stop on the road, and the end of the line for someone’s yellow plastic shades.

It was a good drive.

When I arrived in Nevada City I was  taken aback by the quaint nature of the town, but it soon lost its appeal .  Any meditative state the solitary drive had afforded me was quickly broken by the number of tourists darting in the path of my car as I crawled up and down the main street looking for Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center.

Cool stuff from Gold Rush Days

Thanks to bassist, Dave Wenger, I soon found the hall and a primo parking spot.

Dave Wenger, bassist extraordinaire!

We were there to play Nisenan Heritage Day, an event that celebrated the indigenous people of Nevada County.  The event included speakers, dancers and craftspeople.  Live music was an end-of-the-day cap off, so in the meantime I had a chance to walk around the downtown area and check out some cute jewelry shops as well as some historical artifacts in the town square.

Then I headed back to our makeshift green room and hung out with Debora until it was time to get on stage.

The stage at Miner’s Foundry is a good size and has hosted a wide range of musicians from Zepperella to The Dark Star Orchestra to Johnny Winter.  The sound was amazing, but leave it to me to be freaked out by the loudness of my own keyboards.  The set went off pretty well, but I had a couple of instances of stage fright where my mind drew a complete blank .  Still, the audience was appreciative.  Particularly a boy named Tyler who was dancing his heart out at the front of the stage and later made the effort to introduce himself to the band and offer us some chai tea.

We played two short sets and then it was time to pull it all down and turn things over to Shelly Covert & UnderCover, an amazing cover band that sent most of us back to our formative years with tunes from Heart,  REM and Georgia Satellites.

However, I was pretty hungry at that point, and since my fellow band mates had already wandered off on the quest for dinner, I took a late night stroll through Nevada City after dark.

Nevada City was a pioneer town and it has held on to the identity, if only for the sake of the tourist trade.  At night its quaintness take on an eerie quality, which was accentuated by a man in a black cape and top hat leading a crowd through the streets and telling stories of ghosts.  Certain alleyways were completely deserted, while other areas bustled with life; young people crowded around open storefronts like moths flocking to a flame.

One thing that has most definitely changed since the Gold Rush days are the prices.  I had a hard time finding a decent place that wasn’t in the $20 and up entrée price range.  I finally settled on Lefty’s Grill and had a yummy flatbread pizza.

Back at Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center, Shelly Covert, who has a phenomenal set of pipes, was heating the place up pretty good, but my band mates and I decided it was time to head out to our hotel, the Northern Queen.

Our drummer joked that we could trash the place as all true and good rock stars do.  I thought perhaps, since this was our first time out doing such a thing, we could simply set our TV sets outside of our room doors, rather than throw them out the window.  It’s good to have a goal, but to break it into smaller steps.

We checked in without event and I was just about to settle in when I realized my leftover pizza was still in the car.  Who doesn’t love some good leftover pesto pizza around midnight or so?  On my way out to retrieve said pizza, I ran into Steve-the-Guitarist and Rob-the-Drummer who asked if I wanted to go back to town for a drink.   Now I’ve heard the sirens’ call many times (it usually sounds like my cell phone ringing and when I answer they say, “Hey, Paula, why not come on out to this big rock and get smashed.  It’s pretty cool. We think you’ll like it.”   They’re usually right.)  Going back into town at 11 PM “for a drink” was a bad idea, especially when I was hoping to get an early start home in the morning, so of course 15 minutes later my pizza was safely in my room fridge, and I was driving back into Nevada City.

Rob-the-Drummer

First we hit the saloon at The National Hotel. It’s the oldest bar in Nevada City and supposedly haunted.  It was full of the spirit of karaoke when we arrived, as evidenced by a young man doing his best at Train’s “Meet Virginia” while an older couple danced cheek to cheek like they were on the Lawrence Welk Show. Not long after that we found ourselves down the street at The Mine Shaft Saloon.

Steve-the-Guitarist

It was drinking as usual after that. Rob- the- drummer dropped a dime in the jukebox (okay, it probably was more than a dime) and put on some Hendrix , Rolling Stones and of course,“Never Say Never.”  A group of young’uns in spandex and big wigs kept us entertained for a good long while as they got progressively drunker.  Steve-the-guitarist questioned if we were in still in Nevada.  Shots of Patron and Jameson’s flowed freely , and the highlight of the evening for me (the designated driver who was not having shots of Patron) came when Rob-the-drummer passionately recounted the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”.

When last call came we headed out but forgot to leash our drummer and he escaped to the bar across the street, The National Hotel Saloon, where he stayed for a good long while, supposedly ghost hunting.

I got to bed at 2 AM, woke up around 6:30 AM and was on the road by 7:30 AM.  Road trips alone aren’t so bad after all.

 

* The correct answer is E.

 

 

 

 

The heavy rains in my area have caused water to  seep into my studio/rehearsal space and I’ve had no choice but to tear down all my equipment and begin the process of ripping up the soaked carpet to see what’s going on and how it can be fixed.  This leaves me with nowhere to practice, and of course with my contrary nature, I want to practice now more than ever since it’s not an option.  I’ve even got new songs in my head dying to get out but they will have to wait.

In the meantime, I threw together this video in an effort to feel like I can still be creative.  I’m always torn about throwing things together.  Truth be told, I’m an idea person, but I’ve figured out that it’s the execution that counts.  Some people have a natural instinct for knowing when their work is polished; I remain a diamond in the rough and perhaps will always be just that.  This video is a perfect example of less than perfect pieces coming together to make . . . less than perfect art from a less than perfect artist.

On a side note, I realized only after I made the video (filmed in Second Life) that my virtual self is hanging out in a virtual studio, perhaps of my subconscious longing to have my real studio back.

Enjoy!

It’s that time of year when I should be neglecting my blog because I’m so busy with the bustle of the holidays, but instead I’ve been fighting inertia.   I’m not sure if it’s the shorter days, or the anniversary of my mother’s passing four years ago, but  this holiday season has found me listless and unfocused.  Tasks I normally look forward too like decorating the house for Christmas, seemed overwhelming.  I managed to pull the boxes of decorations out one day, but then let them sit in the hallway for a week before I summoned the energy to actually open them and put things out.  My music practice space in the basement has become cold and unbearably dark as well, so I found myself avoiding it, even though I had an on-line show scheduled.  Mostly I’ve been wanting to curl up and sleep.  This is not really a viable plan when you have kids.

So I started doing some research on ways to combat winter depression.  Here are some of the tips I found:

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables:  The vitamins will give your immune system a boost and the carbs will give you energy. Bananas are particularly good because of the fiber content and they contain dopamine,  a hormone that improves your mood.

- Get some light: Sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the  central nervous system and digestive tract and is thought to contribute to a feeling of general well being.  Because of the shorter days,   some people benefit from daylight lamps to get the light their bodies need.

- Exercise:  Any kind of exercise can lift your mood, but yoga in particular has some moves that target the pineal gland which helps regulate the production of melatonin, yet another hormone  that helps balance the mood by keeping the body’s sleep-wake cycle in check. A quick side note here,  I found a yoga program on Netflix’s streaming library that targets depression.  This was ideal since I did not have to leave the house for a class;  the idea of leaving the house seemed exhausting. However, yoga can be difficult to do properly from just an instructional video, so use your best judgment.

All of these tips are good, and other than the daylight lamp, are things everyone should do to stay happy and healthy.  I have a few more personal tips that may be helpful to others as well.

- Music: My safest drug of choice, music is the ultimate mood-altering substance for me.  Upbeat music made me feel angry, and Christmas music made me feel even more depressed, so I tried some ambient electronica/chillout music. I recommend Soma FM’s Groove Salad should you need some mood boosting grooves to pull you out of the doldrums.

Wallow in your depression creatively:  Make something.  Make something dark.  Use your depression as the ultimate shield against disappointment.  You expect nothing, so anything you create will be better than expected.  Oddly enough, this philosophy works well for me in times like this.   This is what I came up with.  Certainly not my best work (I hope) but it made me feel like I accomplished something and also conveys my feelings right about now.  For the record,  the music was recorded many years ago,  I only put video to it.

- Engage others in an activity, if only electronically:In the thick of my listlessness, I didn’t want to chat with anyone in person or even in real time online.  It all required too much effort.  My husband, never shy about commandeering my iPhone, downloaded Words with Friends without my consent and then challenged me to a game.  For the most part I hate games, but I’m a sucker for word games.  I reluctantly gave it a try.  The back and forth and the need to re-engage my brain actually drew me in and in doing so, pulled me out of my mood.  Plus, I couldn’t help but feel pretty good about myself when I scored 60 points for the word “hamlet”.

I will say I’m feeling much better these past few days and am now looking forward to Christmas.  More so, I’m looking forward to getting past the whole holiday hoopla, so I can move on to 2012.  In the meantime, have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!