Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Female Singer Songwriter

Monday night I had the opportunity to sing. These days I don't get to often, and this little showcase with Songwriters At Play served as a reminder of many of the things I consciously pulled away from.

I love performance. I love singing. It gives me great pleasure. Being in San Luis Obispo at Bon Temps was a pretty typical showcase experience. It was a weird location - weird because it's a creole restaurant attached to a Ramada Inn on California's Central Coast.

You can't make this stuff up.

The wait staff was exceptionally kind. Without having to ask, they brought us waters immediately. I don't know if that's just this restaurant's way of doing things for all clients - all I know is that often waiters don't bring musicians water. I was pleasantly surprised.

Our good music buddy Steve Key put together the group of performers. Being a part of one of Steve's lineups is always good because he makes a real effort to find a good mix of local talent as well as some interesting featured acts. It ends up feeling somewhere between an open mic and a paying concert (a great thing from a musician's perspective). They're always fun and musicians always feel supported there.

We tend to play early in these things, in part because we tag along at the last minute. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the crowd and other acts. Bon Temps had a really sweet group and all the musicians were hanging out, which made things exceptionally supportive.

This was REALLY important to us because we recorded our performance (I'll throw a link or embed the video as soon as I check levels etc). Steve even let us do an extra song because we were so on (and took so little time - mostly because we don't talk in between songs).

The goal of the video is to use as a demo for potential gigs (and possibly other auditions??? Hmmm...). Considering our performance, my only real concern is the video quality (GoPro don't fail me now!).
Just People at Bon Temps

The featured act was a band from Portland (who look like they're from Portland if you know what I mean) called Just People. They had some good grooves and the two electric guitarists worked really well together. It was the kind of band my husband really enjoys (Too bad he missed it! Ha!). I wish I would have heard more of the lyrics however. I'm not sure if that was just the sound, the singer's vocals, or the songwriting. I'll have to listen to some recording to see...that said, for some old school ska influenced rock, it was a fun listen.

What did I remember that I left behind? Late nights and loud music. I love performing, but I also love my hearing. I don't know how I can balance those things. I'm just not sure. I'd like to be able to, but I don't know if I have the money for the technological innovation required.

I also love my baby. The whole time I was at the gig I was thinking of him. I'd like to do more performing, but how can I with a little baby at home who has the beginnings of separation anxiety? It's tough to balance these things and there are no easy choices.

Looking at the other performers it was clear I was in a very different place in life. They were single, probably childless, and comfortable traveling long hours in crowded vans. I'm married with a husband and very rooted. They sleep in hotels or vehicles or on couches while living out of a small duffel. I like my own bed and the choices my closet offers.

I couldn't help thinking of the Koles and what Arlene gave up to be a mom for 20 years. Of course, then she returned to music in a big way (amazing songwriter and musician) with her kids all grown up.

I think of my cousin, an opera singer, who has her life scheduled out years in advance. She's always on the road and sees her husband when she can. She would have to schedule a family and I don't know if she ever will.

These are the choices women performers make. These are the scales we have to balance. Men have more freedom in this situation and I'm both envious and not. I don't know if I even want that life, but I do like to dip my toe in every once in a while. Showcases like Monday night let me do just that.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

For the Love of Qwerty

Why oh why are all the keyboards gone?! For some idiotic reason the designs of cell phones these days have removed keyboards except for the "old people model" (you know what I'm talking about).

This is the STUPIDEST thing ever.

First of all, I hate touch screen keyboards. Why? Because I can't FEEL what I'm touching except for that annoying vibrate feedback. Yelch. I also don't feel comfortable using 2 thumbs on a touchscreen (Does this make me old? Probably...sigh). Inevitably what I intended to press doesn't read as "pressed" and something completely unexpected occurs. It's super fun.

Beyond this, however, touchscreen keys do not work well for me - I don't just mean pressing the wrong spot. I mean I don't have enough blood in my fingers. Literally they cannot always register my fingers on the screen. If I have to use a touchscreen keyboard, I will live in an endless circuit of frustration (thanks phone companies!).

My husband also has problems with touchscreen keys. He has good circulation. So what's his issue? Why can't the screen register his fingers? Callouses.

Just like some people will always buy paper books, or records, keep a classic option like the QWERTY KEYBOARD! I love feeling the buttons click as they press into the board. I love how I know EXACTLY what button I pressed and what letter will show up on my screen. I love how my keyboard never takes up a third of my screen and how I'm never a slave to it when viewing webpages or apps.

So, HTC and Samsung, SOMEONE - do an ANDROID lover a favor - make a few REAL keyboard options that don't suck giant hairy ones. Thanks a bunch!

Love, Your Neighborhood Hipster

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Master Writer Plan Update: April

The 2014 Master Writer Plan is going...alright.

So far I've been consistent in reaching my weekly word count goals, which is FAN-FRICKIN-TASTIC! As I expected, I didn't get a book published or cover done in March, which was fine.

Here is where I am in April:
  • 2 covers finished (for the first 2 books)
  • Consistent blog posting and better interaction with readers/fans/followers
  • 2 books edited, proofed, and formatted
  • 2 other books are approximately half-way written (one non-fiction and another fiction)
  • Weekly word count goals have been met/exceeded since declared plan even if some days are slightly lacking which means...
  • Monthly word count goals have been met/exceeded
First I'd like to say that I am thrilled with my progress. I'm half-way through the writing portion of my goal (at least by book, by word...the biggest slog will be Khloe...*cringe*). I've started a non-fiction series which I think will be a great success (tied directly to my parenting blog).

There have been some bumps along the way. I've been working to add navigation to my books and I'm having trouble doing so. Needless to say, this has been incredibly frustrating and in order to get it right, I need a block of several hours to go through the book and write out all the section titles and assign hyperlinks to them and bookmarks. It's a pain in the ass (especially for the 52 Lists book...as you can imagine). That said, it's a good idea to do things like this because it makes it a lot easier on readers and the easier things are on readers, the more likely they will enjoy the book and recommend them to friends. So I cross my fingers and hope this is appreciated and not taken for granted (though if it was me, I'd probably take it for granted so...).

The nice thing is, the more I do these things, the easier they get. Writing more books? Easy peasy. Editing and proofing? Getting easier. Cover art? Easy. Formatting? Definitely getting easier and more streamlined (phew!). Publishing? Much easier.

Now I just have to get this mothering thing under wraps...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The House, The City: The Crunchy Hipster Dream

Mom, Dad, Baby & kitty? (wikipedia)
Lately Christian and I have been thinking a lot about where we want to go and how we want to live. It's a question that colors our thoughts daily especially as we've been living with my parents since late October. I love my parents and I love having our family close to them and to my in-laws - especially for our baby's sake; but it's also increased some stress levels for everyone (Yesterday I actually saw lights, my blood pressure spiked so high - not good!).

We have to decide where we want to go long term and how we want to live when we get there. In short, we have to have plans (seeing a trend with me these days?).

Because of Christian's job situation and me being at home, writing with our baby, Southern California (or rather California generally) hasn't really been very hospitable. California has 13 of the top 15 most unaffordable real estate markets in the country. Several of them were areas where we have lived because that's where the jobs were. The others in the state that had work for Christian had something else really unappealing (like horrible air quality or ridiculously high temperatures and no water ANYWHERE). Plus, there are some cultural things in Southern California that we're not interested in having our children exposed to.

Needless to say, California really doesn't feel like a place we can stay without increasing our stress levels enormously. But I also don't want our kids to be far from family...

That means the west coast is the best coast (though I wouldn't mind being back east, I think that wouldn't sit well with either set of grandparents). So where can we go and feel good (financially and otherwise) in the west?

Well seeing as we eat salad and recycle, and think brown people should have rights we can't move anywhere in Arizona (crossed off list). Nevada feels like the same kind of situation, if a little more...uh...seedy organized crime and less vigilante. Idaho...has some possibilities, but it's also pretty conservative politically and I'd rather not live anywhere where accidental eavesdropping could make Christian get into a brawl.

So...that leaves Oregon and Washington.

I love seasons. I love snow (especially when I can cross-country ski in it). I love apples and wool sweaters and fireplaces. I'm not a huge fan of gray, BUT if I have some awesome things to focus on, I can love a place despite gray. Christian hasn't lived in snow, or seasons, but he hates heat. He's a sweatball, and our son takes after him, so I think snow and rain is a better choice for our family than dirt and 120 F.

Plus, we have some friends up there, which is appealing to both of us.

We've played around with different locations and researched things and so far our top two choices are Bellingham WA and Corvalis OR. The question is when and how.

At this point we're thinking around a year and a half from now, or something like that will be a good time to move. This will give us some time to pay off our educational loans (or at least pay them down) and create a nest egg of sorts. Right now that nest egg could be either a micro house on a trailer base (a serious interest for both Christian and me), or a savings account for moving/down payment, or both (ideally both, but we may be able to swing things with one or the other).

If we can pull this off, we'll be in really good shape. We'll have a mountain of debt off our shoulders. We'll own our home (if not the land it's on...yet) and we'll be in our dream location (at least for this part of life). We're focusing on it, which means it will happen, for sure, right? :-D