This Is Fine

I wrote a song yesterday (last day/night) which I have not done in ages.

some scratch-lyrics I did in prep that week. Before recording started.

It was written in a very brief amount of time. I don’t know how close I am to making it something I feel songfully about. I don’t know if I got this blog entry about it right. I don’t typically write “song bios.” I was thinking about starting to make videos about my process. Before I didn’t. It seemed self indulgent. But maybe I ought to get over this, and get out here. I ought to admit that I am interested in myself, because people are interesting and I am actually not a cynical person.

I wrote this blog entry last night in the dead of night and hit publish quickly–much like I rushed to get my song entry into the Song Fight people last minute. This time, I am going to say I got my point across through mood and content rather than through production and flash. Now I don’t believe that mixing properly is bad, not at all, I just think that in my case the pursuit of perfection holds me back from the actual composition of the thing.

I was going for a feeling of detached concern and a deeply passionate but distanced advocacy. Sort of surfing the breakers of white guilt.

White guilt is a fraught, bullshit topic and there is really no pretty way to be frank about it. Its awkward how atrocious my presence is in this conversation, no matter what I would say, even if it is helpful. This is not about me in the least. I wanted to try to explain this last night, because if you don’t say anything you are just wearing your fuzzy blanket, really.

I have wanted to explain it before. But wanting to explain a horrible thing and NEEDING to explain a horrible thing and having a responsibility either to DO or to JUST SHUT UP or to Show Up quietly is sometimes a thing that it is on just each Individual to navigate. Thusly, this is a song TO me, and for my sake and feelings. There’s a “you know why” line that’s an elephant in the room. And it’s addressing people like me because we know why all of those things in the song and we’re “sure that…” Ellipsis. Because what can one add to the conversation?

In the song I talk about being at the end of a life but paradoxically knowing you’re “not going to die.” This basically means that there’s a likelihood of a long life and statistics are kind if you are privileged in society. I used a lot of words like ‘lies’ and ‘smile’ and ‘sneak’ and ‘teeth.’ Words that make my voice sound tinny and cause hastily applied last minute effects to jar a bit. I wanted some more little treasures I may add later and help with proper mixing and of course a real master. I had a metallic piano and some scrapes. I’d recorded some dripping water from my kitchen and a steam sound and I have an immersion microphone in the mail coming to me; and I was going to do some things with that. The song is worthwhile, so sauce will be added later. I have a few songs like this so maybe they can make an entire recording. You never know…

The more I listened to it, the more I liked the presentation. I like the pauses. My recording itself is cleaner and my ears are improved, I think. I didn’t worry that it needed a bridge and rush to clutter the song with more and more changes. It feels songwriterly… again. My other recent material does not. It feels like part of shows, which is different.

I almost didn’t need to blog about it, but you come to a realization that it is your blog, at a certain point. So I have to stand for something and report my whereabouts even if I am vague and quiet about it. And to say that I do not support the wanton carelessness of one group of humans toward another–let alone the violence–that’s necessary. But if every effort I make to even feel towards a thing is lost in a sea of pleasant couch cushions, this is also an issue. It’s problematic if we are silenced by the huge reality of our own insultingly mundane unimportance in the scheme of things. We are raised to feel exceptional. We are not, and we are not necessary. And it’s dangerous … to feel -unUnique. For ANYBODY.

It’s a hypothetical that isn’t so hypothetical. It’s about a shade of gray that is actually quite black and white in this case. It might mean different things to different people, but this is what it means to me. In any case, it would be about personally showing up morally unprepared and trying to put a cartoon bandaid over a gaping hole and showing up to a funeral in your stupid party dress. So making excuses.

It’s hard to explain my emotions. The recording was like this. I was in half a new room setup. I was setting up a new machine and the last times Ive tried to do a round of one of these on a brand new machine I’ve taken collaborators down with me because the sound’s been off. At the end, I had to swap machines to get a vocal down because my newer machine didn’t want to talk to my legacy interface and was having assignment and routing problems. These things make me feel like a dork, particularly after getting quick at routing and problem solves–but at I’m a little better at slapping apology demo FX on things now. She says this after sending a mildly distorted track 🙂

After some self-flagellation on the forums which I did not need to do, I regretted saying anything because I think now this track has sort of grown on me. I like the chords I chose and the ebb and flow of intensity like it’s also a musical option to just opt out. I feel like I ought to give myself more credit for making good musical choices and having the intent there in the beginnings of things. It’s important I respect this songwriter thing in myself or I’m going to get into a bad habit of abandoning my work again at the first sign that someone thinks a negative thing about it. Maybe they are right about me, I will think, although I ought to know better by now that the opinions of others do not really matter and this is a head game. Making songs for other people will always leave your work sounding contrived and fake-ish (at least for me). Even if you have a commission or an assignment of some kind or a fan base to please–they have requested YOU, and so you must show up with your whole mind and body.

This is a highly edited entry, as I said before, and I probably should try a little harder with song bios next time. This is probably true of songs as well. All I know is that my sleep is off and I have comedy to write-write for a class I am taking; and also.must cook and bake and get back to normal. There’s bread, I hopped on that train. And who knows if I’ll be back in here to change more of the record. Or not. Maybe I’ll just make a list-ier one later about other random stuff (no one believes).

To close (finally! :D) I honestly don’t expect much or to get through to be top 25 of 41 people with my rushed little offering, no matter that it was earnestly performed. But you never know because sometimes the weirdest things of mine get liked the most. I made second place with an educational “bad rap” about a piranha track I did in less than 2 hours. I think people were surprised. No one will be surprised about exposed vocal and sparsely emotional piano. Either way, this could be me making personal history fizzling out of Nur Ein in a Round 0 or even just skating thru to an ultimate and unlikely stupid win (HA!)…so we’ll just have to see.

Slippage-B-Gone

1. this morning I am wearing Charming Pyjammas (A word I refuse to argue with the Spelling Faeries over). I took a photo, for your perusal.
2. my brainstormy list of things to do is disorganized and frightening and it’s really no wonder I sit around drooling a lot.
3. New hair tomorrow! No idea what color I will be… 🙂
4. It is time for Autocorrect and me to have a STERN set of HARSH WORDS about It PREEMPTING everything I say-dammit. I clearly look Silly and Incomp-a-toad. And I donut like this. Not one tiny bait.
5. My friend that does my hair thinks my music is great but that I’m a Writer, really. It’s a good time for a hair appointment…
6. Billy and the Psychotics got reviewed at Song Fight by Jim of Seattle. If you don’t know what this means I shall just tell you that it was really cool and told me a lot, some of which I already knew. I got some ideas on how to solve The Problem (Me vs. Consistently Writing a Melody/Hook). Solving the problem is HARD. I did better this week (we’re active at songfight.org); also managing to pull off not sounding like the Mucinex Faerie.
7. My piano is tuned!!! YAY!!! I had something bloggy to say about Mr. Nick Litterski, whose name is Difficult to Spell; and I think it had something to do with his fixing of the sustain pedal and all the hilarious innuendo one can gather when you are using exciting and inventive techniques to make sure one does not suffer from continued pin slippage which affects the sustain pedal’s ability to perform. The proffered solution indeed rose to the occasion; my pedal is working smoothly thus far, and I am acting like a real tool right now in this blog. I think I even said “that’s what she said” before “I am totally blogging this!” Anyway, back in six months to check for the tightness of tuning pegs. I’m totally in the wrong field. Or maybe not, as I am both a lyricist, and a cad. 🙂

20121102-105345.jpg

Spring!

I’m having a weird day. Not a BAD day, necessecelery. It’s also DEFINITELY not a good day. But it’s also not bad. It just is as it is.
I am basically being forced into a place of change. I’m having to go to a place in my brain that I’ve been avoiding like a plague and having to deal with some crap that I’ve been trying not to. Change is scary. But once you have dealt with it, you’re done with it. You have moved through it, and you are a better person for it. Then, you don’t really care.

Example. I have an ex. He’s “happy for me” that I am the way I am. And while that is nice and all, his feelings for me aren’t relevant. It really doesn’t matter either way. There are times when it is nice to hear a human being who knows/knew you tell you “hey, you aren’t stupid and worthless,” for the times that you’re making stupid and worthless looking decisions (particularly in your non-existant career… a thing which is your fault! – you being me..).

I’m really just realizing how emotionally tired I am of thinking too much. Of thinking too much outside of myself. Of not being insular and self-absorbed. Being self-absorbed is NOT a bad thing. Being alone is NOT a bad thing. Being alone has gotten me so far in life. Being alone has gotten me skilled and amazing at my work. And I think it’s time to swing back around.

This is exciting to me because I have been watching my piano get repaired and I played on it just a tiny bit today. It’s almost ready. One more day of it and the tuning will be done. Then I’ll just have to work myself up physically to the place I was at. I have all my new material to figure out. I have to get used to the way that it sounds on an acoustic piano. I have to build an enviornment where I am playing out in the air and not just in headphones. I have to live doing things live in the open air. I am looking forward to making sets. I’m already rehearsing. I’ve made parts for ‘Invisible Girl’ and I’ve learned ‘Cupcake’ and I already can play and sing ‘Blame it on Ginger’ and there’s a couple of other things that I’m fleshing out for guitar and singing so that I am not just piano based. The newest couple of songs I’m putting out (one for fight and I think this latest Nur Ein one…) are going to be guitar based. Best thing? I think I am going to make ‘Patient Number Seven’ be able to have piano or guitar backing. More and more I think we’re going for that.

This is all very good, because I AM very distracted. I’m gaining so much, but I’m also losing a lot. I am kind of losing much of what I have built here on line. All things drift and sag a little bit. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be heavily engaged here. Maybe home is pulling me a little more strongly. I have always known that I don’t quite fit into the crowd that I’m surrounded by. I think that I’ve pretty much learned what I need to. If you don’t feel a pull strongly one way or another, you have to go find your own way.

Boredom is what kills artistic momentum. And I can’t afford to be bored. Being bored is a flat and juiceless wasteland of tune-free ick. And I need sunlight and fertilizer. It’s SPRING! Time to FLY! 🙂 I can’t WAIT for practicing and fun and awesomeness and NEWness and already there are flowers and cupcakes and gum and rockets and new people 🙂

Lollipops and hummingbirds to everyone 🙂

1. I haven’t posted in a while. I don’t have much that I want to type. This makes it tough to blog.
2. Randall is mixing a CD that sounds wonderful and is SERIOUSLY growing on me.
3. We are drinking mate in this house now, although I think that it is spelled with an accent mark: like m-a-t-é.
4. I saw a movie yesterday. It was quite diverting.
5. I just found out that there is a Joe DiMaggio’s downtown. I wonder if they have a piano, like the one at the Domain did.
6. The cylon is still clogged with crap. I’m getting rid of duplicate files and shuffling stuff around.
7. My hair is, like, TOTALLY pink!!!

(okay.. that was (liketotally) lame…)
8. it’s fun hair though..
9. i’m REALLY hungry and did NOT get my taco yesterday. I kinda want a cupcake though. And a sandwich.
10. I get my PIANO almost-done on Wednesday!

YAY! Then my piano-man comes back after over-a-week-ish and I get it finishfinished!

DOUBLEYAY!

I will be playing ALL THE TIME!! 🙂

Professionalism Approaches Slowly From the North.

1. I am a nervous little thing, and I think I always will be. you have to know that if you are dealing with me. i flit.
2. wouldn’t it be awful if Ken Plume pulled another “maayybe I’ll do SongFuhmmmmm?” thing again since there’s fights and nur ein and cycle and an approaching spin? 🙂 what would den do!!?
3. I am VERY excited about Nur Ein and am frankly really getting into this songfight stuff. There’s a lot of contestants for ‘Beaten Man’ this time (I am not one of them).. and I’m hoping they’ll put the next title up soon even though I have stupid amounts of stuff to do.
4. I’ve been physically ill because of different meds that I’m on now. I still don’t know how I feel about all this change and trying to be “more professional” on here. I don’t talk about this blog much on Facebook for a reason. I think seeing numbers creeping up on it is making me greedy – when that is not what it is for. If the numbers come up, fine. If they don’t fine. I’m a musician. I need to keep working. I think I am just confused.
5. My piano is coming back soon, but I don’t know when.
6. I’m doing archiving right now, while also writing lyrics. I think I’m dawdling because my voice doesn’t want to work. luckily I can do a lot of music from this chair.

Enigma Variations and Homework

I use music to think. I am quite selective. It’s picky for me. I usually think with very tune-ful things. I think this is because I am a songwriter. Either that or metal, which is also very tune-ful.

I have a bit of a short list. I would of course add an lp which I have of Claudio Arrau playing the Chopin piano concertos.

1. Barber’s Adagio for Strings.
2. Gould plays Beethoven piano concerto
3. Bach pieces make me think of Lord of the Rings and getting over stupid-boy-disappointment to a soundtrack of Brandenburg Concertos (to this day, *I* think of Hobbits and Elves and Orcs and Dwarves and think of the Flute/Harpsichord/Violin of five, with its epic Harpsichord part! And yes … the person who commented in the video is correct. It is an EPIC harpsichord solo. Getting to play it is on my bucket list, and I DO have the music for it and tool around with it every now and then).
4. Nimrod of course (Enigma Variations -below)
5. Albinoni of course, which I’ve probably used since I was about thirteen (this church in Plano, TEXAS has a really stellar recording and performance of this!).

I still don’t know how to explain myself. I’ve always tried, and it’s always gotten me into trouble. I’m even explaining myself less and less well and less and less efficiently with music these days. I’m becoming more and more entrenched in my own style and finding it harder and harder to deal with other people. I’m turning into a solo person and becoming more difficult to work with every day. I don’t know if this is aging, a hermit phase, or some kind of diseased mindset … or if I’m protecting myself from professional ACK-ness. Who knows these things?

I did write a poem, after listening to my 10-15 seconds a few times over and over … For those who are reading this and don’t know, read the blog entry where Jules talks about what I said to her over Twitter about what happens at around 50 seconds in the Elgar – Enigma Variations.

“12 seconds or so”

for you
this flower opens joyfully
(it’s perfuming all the rooms you see)
it always starts this way
each puzzle is a way to halt the disengage
I look around, out of my quivered center
I paint the world with fantasies
my silly notions… complicated schemes of love
and brilliant things envelop me
… society, kitchens, airplanes, picnics, forks, religion
all prevent these things from coming to reality …
my vision spins – then,
I collapse too quickly
rather than sighing naturally in closing with the sundown
I drag my grace behind me retrogressively
and make a classy exit
that I might roll alone again
inside my velvet cave

So … yeah … Jules always makes me think. A lotalot…..

Thinking is complex stuff. There really aren’t lots of words for that are there?

The 4 Month Challenge

I have a friend called Shelley who is a very motivated human. I met her in Longhorn Band. I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of my time in the band, as I spent most of my time in the pit percussion area (mallet instruments), muttering under my breath. Like Gollum, but not as charming.

Anyway, Shelley exercises and stuff. I’m kind of on an exercise kick too, and I’m receiving the benefit of happy drugs since I’m ditching some of my more offending pharmaceuticals. I won’t get into it, but I’m not as sickly as I used to be. No more Hector Pi Laureate or anything. No more hormonal madness. Nada. So I have an oppurtunity to bend my metabolism to my ever-loving whim.

I put my goals up in a previous blog entry. So how am I doing?

Well, not well so far. This is typical of me. I always rebel at the first start. I stick my tongue out at it.

AT THIS POINT:

1. I have not gone to martial arts this week once. This is bad because I only went once last week, and twice the week before. Unk! I’m going to have to go tomorrow morning, which is going to HURT! And then there’s classes every day including Saturday. I should try to make Saturday, because they have tournament practice then. I should also go Thursday, because that’s when I usually meet up with the 8pm people (which is where I should be tonight!).

2. I didn’t write down my food for the last two days. This is a two day slip-up and has happened for the first time in over a month. I’ve been good about this for an entire month. I’ll write down my food as soon as I’m done with this blog. I’m going to take my vitamins too, because I just loaded three weeks worth of them. It’s not on my “official” list of goals – but it should be in my mind.

3. I practiced for over 4 hours today, so that’s good. It was not really regimented practice, nor did I really get any ideas down. I am firming up ideas for 3 or 4 songs that will need to be finished and put on the 2 hour set though. I’ll need to tighten up on the scheduling and get organized about the rehearsing soon, but it’s good work. I did some good vocal rehearsing.

4. I was all over the place today, socially. I’m net-stalking people who really shouldn’t be net-stalked … I’m CARING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK (this is a huge no-no in my case), I’m getting in over my head. I need to detach and go back into my own little world. I have told myself that I’m Face-banned. I don’t know for how long. This is good. I’ve enrolled in a writing contest and I’m waiting for Song Fu. These things don’t directly pertain to my goal … but they will help keep me out of the trouble that excessive brooding brings.

I will try not to engage in excessive blogging, or Twittering … or anything.

5. I didn’t get anything done on the studio, but everything tiny thing in the house that I clean is a step in the right direction toward that.

addiction

I have a little sneaky and insidious problem.  I don’t talk about it, because when you put it on paper it seems like a really righteous thing.  It actually sounds really cool.  Actually, I’m sort of proud of it.  As far as addiction goes, I think it’s much better and less shameful than other addictions – which actually makes it more shameful, and probably (for me) more dangerous.

I seriously think that this is probably worse for me than drugs, or eating, or sex, or smoking, or whatever I’ve been doing.  It’s over-practice.

Over-practice has caused me physical pain, emotional pain.  It’s broken my heart and my spirit.  It’s made me sick.  It’s alienated me from my friends.  It’s completely stagnated me in my career.  It’s given me an illusion of control.  It’s made me feel completely justified that I’m doing the right thing.

You can’t get arrested for over-practice.  Now I actually have had to go to rehab for my addiction, when I had a binge and I popped my arm and gave myself tendonitis or something like that – in January.  I’m lucky I don’t have carpel tunnel.  But there’s really no methadone for the hacking that I do.  In some ways it shares some traits with anorexia; with the striving for perfection.  Anything that is self-loathing about oneself can be rectified in the abuse heaped upon me in the quest for ultimate perfection.  Because it is impossible to score a perfect performance.  If I restrict myself and my career to when I score a perfect performance … that’s a harshness.  An ultimate punishment.  Something that I probably will never live up to as a professional.

Over-practice has its benefits too.  It’s one of those addictions that I’m good at, like sex or eating.  The ones that are legal … that you could do fine if only you could do them in moderation.  See, I’m fine at the just-staying-away from it stuff.  I can’t get hard drugs – nor have I tried them.  I’m a wussy – because if I actually did something like coke and I could get it easily and I derived any benefit from it, I would be totally screwed and I’d be hooked.  And that would be bad because there is a stigma and I am not good at being that kind of problem child.  I am too secretive and I would not be able to handle that kind of pressure.  I think that I’m so above all that though, and I’m really just exactly the same.  Except I’m kind of worse, because I’m in loads of denial about my problem.  And my problem really isn’t seen that seriously because it’s not really that dangerous (like meth or whatever) or troubling (like cannibalism).  I’m totally in denial, bent double-over like Igor with laughing drool squibbling out the corner of my mouth, 3AM-crazy-eyed and wheezy.

But I secretly know I’m not any better than anyone else.  I won’t take signs and signals or no for an answer – the eyes are bugging.  And this scares me in the dead of night, at 3:28 AM when I’ve played the first four systems of the Rondo from the Pathetique over and over and over and over and over for the past hour and a half.  Making it faster and faster and faster and faster.  Thinking that if I could just make it absolutely perfect … that my life would be completely okay and that everything would change for me.  And it’s all because I’m acting out.

My husband says that all these feelings of mine – these feelings about the “new person” and the “old person” (and my lack of control particularly on the latter issue) are really all about the fact that I don’t have my enviornment under control.  I’ve got to finish setting up my room.  I’ve got to clean up my area.  I’ve got to finish putting my software together – that last little bit so that I can do the rest of the stuff that I’ve got to do for the musical.  Then I will be good to go.  Perhaps I will not be obsessing about stupid crap.  But as it is now, I dread the morning – and I sit around and over-practice rather than go to sleep.  Of course, I make sure that I’ll over-practice by ingesting four cups of coffee during the day.  

None of this is smart.  None of it.

But it all looks good on paper as I get more and more flawless technique and I slowly die inside – heading for another bout of tendonitis like I had in January because I pushed my luck with a Liszt piece I shouldn’t have been abusing myself with.

And then, after, the shame of knowing what I have done, and how bad I will hurt in the morning and how I don’t know if I’ll be able to function.  Just how sick will I be from it all?