Weekend Update and the Bottled up Message…

Ok, week one of my renewed commitment to my dream and so far not too shabby.  It’s less than 24 hours since my Wednesday 5pm timeline for posting my weekly blog so I’m still in there~  I sat down on Sunday and started writing again.  I thought about my struggle for the right things to say at times…I pictured myself writing a letter, putting it in a virtual bottle, giving it a good toss out into the water and watching the tide sweep it off to parts unknown.  I honestly don’t know which came first the chords or the lyrics…it was more like when something comes to you as if you’re remembering it after a long while and all the bits and pieces of a memory seem to fall into place and you so “ohhh riiiight, I remember now”.  I pictured this man and woman walking virtual circles around eachother because neither was brave enough or sure enough to take the step forward.   Then, I thought how great it would be if each person came with a guide.  You could read it and in a moment know how to make it work with them and if that’s something you wanted or were capable of doing.  Ohhhh how much easier life would be yes??  After it all fell onto paper (or Word on my Mac) Then, I sent the lyrics to my BFF Miche up in Seattle (which I do after nearly every new song) for safekeeping and for her infamously direct and intuitive input.  This was her response (and I quote):

“Are you fucking kidding me???

That is the most amazing song…I got chills just reading it, I can’t wait to hear it!


I think that’s gonna be your break-out hit song.

No joke.


And I’ve been high as a kite ever since.  Doing the usual playing the song over and over until I’ve committed it to memory and worked out the kinks, piecing it all out and planning to submit it for copyright next week and then I’m going to print it out, put it into a bottle, toss it off the Oceanside Pier and wait for someone to find it, read the note attached that asks them to post it on the facebook music page that they found it.  That way we’ll all know at the same time it happened.  Hopefully by then it’ll be recorded and I can give them a copy of the single for their troubles.  No wait…there are 4 seasons in a year, in this song and so a bottle for each season…and there’s the old saying scattered to the 4 corners of the earth…so that’s it~

I think maybe on the 5th…that’s a monumental day for me…tomorrow is the followup PET scan to make sure nothing’s trying to come back and the 5th at 11am is my appointment with Dr. H to go over the results.  Of course I’m kind of hedging my bets it’ll be a good day but, then again if it isn’t then all the more reason to send those off to parts unknown…

I’m thinking again…using the ole noggin…and I’m hungry.  So, I’m off to get a bite and then a night of torn between 4 places…going to the open mic in PB and meeting up with old friends then how to make this work but, seeing a new friend’s band play and cheer him on and seeing the Barnswallows play at a pub in the opposite direction and dear Ryan’s Birthday party (the one who just married Ana – smart man) up near home…kind of a diamond shaped roadmap and not a clue how I’ll make it all work but, my first commitment is to playing so off to PB I go and somehow if I don’t make the rest work tonite I will make up for it over the next few days…I hope.

Ok, must press the Publish button and get crackin.

wish me luck tonite and thanks as always for following along~

PS…as I’m writing this I’m watching a semi recent film with Burt Reynolds in it and swearing to never ever ever do plastic surgery…ever.


A little reminder from the photo album archives...

Weekend Update: the Day that honored a Year and the Intentionally Unintentional Shift…

Yesterday had a lot of meaning for me…first, it was my birthday :-).  I had dozens of facebook well wishes, several calls and txts from friends and a lovely voicemail from my Pop crooning the birthday song as only my Pop can do :-).  And that was all just in the day.  I worked just the morning and then headed out around town running errands and generally puttering about decidedly taking my sweet time about it all.  When I was growing up the big deal about having a birthday was that we got to choose what was for dinner and this year I was choosing my weekly favorite (Sushi) at my weekly favorite place for it (Fish Joint) who’s open mic just happened to land on this day so after a few weeks of focusing a good chunk of my time and energy on helping someone else bring their dream to fruition, I took this day to remind myself what my hopes and dreams are.  I came home, sat down with Martin and Kala and played until the dents returned to my fingertips. There was a bit of a knot in my throat from lack of practice and I started to wonder if it was a good idea to sing or if I should just go, sit back and enjoy the performers for a change (I’m usually too nervous to really take in what they’re playing) then a memory came to the surface that put that fear/concern into perspective.  The year before…to the day…to the hour…I was sitting in Dr. H’s office, smiling and nodding and reading his body language and noting the discomfort as he slowly revealed to me that though the surgery was a success and they got the tumor and the cancerous cells surrounding it…(great, so why isn’t he smiling) but…the spot they saw on my lung well, that wasn’t nothing after all.  That was the cancer cells from the tumor spreading through my body and get this…these words will always stick in my brain “technically…it’s stage 4″ (and how he winced and he spoke those words).  Now, there’s something to know about me.  No matter how much I’m hurting or stressed, if the person in front of me is stressed I’m going to go into auto pilot and immediately shift my focus on the task of putting them at ease…”ok…so tell me this…can you fix it?”.  He looked up at me suprised like and told me he could but, it was going to be a long road and not easy…so I assured him I was cool with that and “okaaay, so what’s with all the drama then??”.   We finished up our appt with a general overview of what was to come then I walked out of the building, into my friend’s car who nervously asked how it went to which I responded with a semi manic smile “great! He’s so thrilled with how GREAT it all is” and then I made some tongue n cheek remark as we drove across town to meet up with friends at a martini bar to celebrate teh day.  A whopping (and unprescedented) 5 martini’s later I was dropped off at my vacation rental where I lay awake for the next couple hours and convinced myself that I was superhuman and this was just my time to prove it and I would do just that as soon as the room stopped spinning…

About a week later I was back at the hospital having a port surgically implanted in my chest and a couple days after that the 9 months of chemo/steroids and cyberknife treatment began.  Looking back I’m not quite sure how I handled it all as well as I did.  Maybe it was the Welbutrin I was taking to keep my 20 year craving for cigs at bay or maybe I really am Superhuman.  The mind and heart are incredibly powerful things.  Maybe when we set them in motion we are all capable of being superhuman…

Anyway…so my elusive artist friend Charles came out of the woodwork and joined M n me for sushi.  We were there for a while until I wandered into the back patio area (which I tend to shy away from for some odd reason) when I find him sitting there at a candlight table with sushi and beer and a big smile on his face.  He was such a sight for sore eyes and had a great Boomerang type story to tell which was another gift for the day.   My hope was to turn the day around and make it as opposite as last year as possible and Charles was a big part of it.  He even bought me music~  Charles buys me books for my birthday.  He’s an avid reader (putting it lightly)…his nickname is “Buckowski” by some…”Chuckles” by others.  He’s an honest, good hearted and incredibly intuitive human being who carries a sketchbook around with him and sketches life as he sees it.  Pretty phenominal if you ask me.  So, a couple years back when I wrote “A friend like me” and played it for the group at one of our weekend get together’s he gave me some insightful advice to give it some edge.  I set the song aside because I just couldn’t find the edge in my voice until recently.  I pulled the song out of the archives, added a pick and poured my pain into it.  What a fking year.  The last couple weeks all the things I’ve (or the treaments) placed on hold resurfaced in tenfold fashion.  M likes to remind me that I’m only just in recovery mode and I like to smile and nod and blow her off.  Why?  Cuz I’m sick of being tired and I’m tired of being sick.  I wanna fit into my old favorite jeans again and recognize myself when I look in the mirror and be able to leap out of bed instead of bracing myself for the pain and aches that inevitably follow with my first steps and I want to brush my teeth without spitting blood into the sink and bleach my teeth nice n pearly white and speaking of white I’m really looking forward to the day I wake up with whites of my eyes being just that and not the bleary redishness.  Oh there’s more whining in here but, you get the gist.

That said, I was determined to take a full break of the whining and make the day count.  So, there I was …sitting there next to two good friends and surrounded by several familar faces and actually sitting amoung the open mic musicians instead of my usual seating off to the wayside.  It was a whole different view and I was torn between soaking it all in and focusing on my two friends at the table.  We did some serious catching up and clearing up old crap and M was manically waiting for me to open up the flip flops she got me that she was so determined I’d go gaga over.  I think I’m sweetly oblivioius to some branding…and this was one of those cases.  Now, I love flip flops…I practically live in em but, I wasn’t sure what the hoopla was about.  Still….it meant a lot to me that she got me something that she thought to be the best of the best.  I didn’t recognize the music Charles got me either but, I recognized the enthusiastic look on his face and the thoughtfulness behind his gift and his willingness to get that I’m not much of  a reader (never have been) but, for him I’d read because it’s important to him and you do that kind of thing when it’s important to someone who’s important to you.

I sang 2 songs on the guitar and 1 on the uke then ended with  ‘Walking Still” and was sure to add the much needed “edge” to the song and could see Charle’s face from the stage and his nod of approval.  He also told me afterward that he always thought the song was about him.  Oh good lord noooooo.  Cracked me up.  He was notably surprised when I told him the inspiration behind it.  Got a much better view of the guyz that come out each week to play…The Barnwell Shift (which for some reason I keep calling them barnswallow like the bird).  I like their style and I love how much they love what they do.  It seems to be far less about ego and far more about a marriage of 3 distinctly different sounds.   I was suddenly very glad I finally moved in from the outskirts and have a feeling I’m meant to learn something from them…

JD was a no show or so I thought.  He wandered in at the end fresh from an Art Walk and I found it charming that he thought he was going to get out of playing music on my birthday of all days.  WTF?  It didnt’ take much coaxing and he even asked what I wanted to hear “Something sweet and positive” and that’s exactly what I got and as I closed my eyes and soaked in the song I found myself singing along and even harmonizing here and there.  I miss doing that.  I miss the sitting around, playing music with others and improvising as we go along.  The few that were there gave us a warm response afterward and I smiled and yet another unexpected gift.  As I was putting my guitar away he called out “Ali…did you hear that??” and one of the guys was saying how well our voices went together and that we should record together and I smiled and “oh yeah?”  when I was thinking “Duh…hell yeah”.  Just been waiting for the stars to align on that one.  They will, I have no doubt.  We finished our drinks, hugged goodbye and M asked if I had energy for one more at my place.  We used to sit up and talk til the wee hours of the morning and I knew she really missed that stuff and I was surprised to hear myself say yes but, I honestly felt up for it and besides…it was my Birthday and I wanted to stay up and do the girl talk over a glass of wine and wait…I didn’t get cake so I want icecream which meant stopping at the infamous “Mary’s” as our corner store is lovingly referred to.  M told her and her brother (who often co-minds the shop) how I sang and Mary said “why don’t you ever sing for us?”.  I don’t know if it was the sake or the determination to edge the annual shift out even further but, I told her my car was right out front as was my guitar and I will play one right now.  So, I got it out as two kids skateboarded back and forth across in front of me as I set up.  The youngest one clearly tired and banging things to keep himself awake while his dad was in the laundromat.   I closed my eyes and I played “Piece of Cake” and I looked up and smiled at each of them at different times in the story and I could tell M was jazzed to give them the “yup, that’s my friend playin right there”.  When I was done, I received big hugs and as I left, I got a shout out from the little boy (M was like “ohhh he looooooved youuuuuu”) ‘byyyyyyyeeeee’ and I smiled and waved “byyyyeeeee be goooood” and smiled ear to ear all the way home.  The look at the kid’s face was priceless.  writing this and re-living the day is putting a big old smile on this tired face and making me realize that mission accomplished.

So, what’s next?  I’m going to keep to my moment of truth that I need to rest until I can spring out of bed, wink back at the girl in the mirror and see the whites of my eyes and smile.  I’m going to spend less time/energy helping others achieve their goals and go back to being more consistant about pursuring mine…stick to at least one open mic a week and search weekly for songwriting contests and keep submitting to them until I win, place or get a song on tv/film.  And Roy, you have my blessing to SHOUT at me all over that facebook page “Ali…where the $^%%# is that blog??” if I dare go more than 24 hours past the set Wednesday deadline to post my weekly blog.  Ok, speaking of rest…it’s pushing for 1am…time to shut those eyes.

Sleep well, Dream Big and thanks as always for following along~

Me n Charles on my Birthday at the Martini Bar...

Weekend Update and the Uphill Climb…

So, my sister arrived as planned.  It was dark by the time she got here and calling me because she couldn’t find my cottage in the dark.  I walked out onto my porch, light was shining…all my little sun lanterns were glowing away like lightening bugs along the perimeter of my patio…her rental car is parked right across the street from me but, all I see is dark…”is that your rental car?”  “yes”…”with the lights off?”  “yes”…”Well, then you’re right across from me but, I can’t see you”…I can’t see you either”…then I catch sight of her on the corner…not in her car but, wandering about trying to figure out which cottage it is and I’m telling her I’m right in front of her and now she’s 20 yards in front of me and just can’t see me and I’m laughing thinking…Yup, we’re sisters alright.

She did a quick walkthrough (inspection) of the place and announced she liked it much better than the last one then we sat up til after 1:30 catching up on stories, sipping pinot griggio and devouring a freshly baked brie.  I don’t think we’ve ever stayed up that late together before, ever but, we had a lot to catch up on.  Last time she saw me I could barely sit upright and was quite a bit lighter.  I think she was a bit shocked at my heftiness but, I looked at her and said “oh trust me…this is better.  With all those steroids I was starting to look like a linebacker!” (pointing to where the large neck and buddha belly once were).  She laughed and seemed more at ease.

We had just the one day together so we packed in as much as we could.  She stayed at the cottage and worked on her laptop while I went off to the studio to work off mine for a couple hours then she met up with us and got a special one on one session on some of the equipment while she was complimented on her choice of workout attire (she wears lululemon while I wear Champion because it was half off) and then we were off to complete the goal for this visit…hike up Torrey Pines…remember those many many blogs ago when M and I kept planning hikes up that thing but, never quite got there and then of course I didn’t have the energy to when my sister came down to see me last time so this was our plan when she last said goodbye.  “I’ll come back when you’re well enough and we’ll go hiking together”.  Torrey Pines is where I used to go when I just needed to have a think and had the wherewithal to call the hike up it  “a little jaunt” so, this trip was momentous to me.  The thing is you walk the beach quite a ways then at some point you see the stairs that begin the climb up it.  It’s been several years since I did this so at one point after walking furher than we thought we needed to we began to wonder if the stairs were still there.  With all the problems they’ve had with the hillsides crumbling maybe it’s been shut down…hrmmm then finally just before the rock that marks the beginning of the infamous “Black’s Beach” we saw the stairs and started our climb…there were a few steps that were pretty far apart and took a good hand on the knee to gain momentum and definitely one going down where I gave it a good long stare before attempting it.  For most of it I felt like a little old lady which my bad knees shuffling along but, at point on the way down I felt like I was 2 when I was staring at that steep bit.  Shan turns around and says “Is that too steep for you?”  “Maybe”  So, she reaches out and insists on taking my backpack off me then tromps on off ahead.  I’m like…wait…it’s still just as steeeeeep~  Expecting her to come back and offer a hand but, instead it was just like when I was little…if you wanna play with us then you gotta keep up…so I figured a way to shuffle around it, taking a smaller leap to the train and then started hobbling to catchup.  All in all it only took a couple hours and that last step back onto the beach was definitely a “Rocky” moment for me.  I took off my shoes and socks and went straight for the water (one of my all time favorite things…shed the shoes and go barefoot along the shoreline) and soaked in the moment while taking pics to capture it at the same time.

Once we were back it was a rush to get ready to go for sushi where we met up with a couple friends then off to Hensley’s for the open mic.  It wasn’t too crowded when we got there around 8 but, a welcoming group for sure.  I haven’t seen Monster Boy there in ages and still not to be found.  Made me wonder if he was back out on deployment.  I quietly crossed my fingers in hopes that wasn’t the case.  Aaron was on stage playing his Pirate Hat song and a girl who’s name I didn’t catch who played guitar really well, went on just before me.  I didn’t really have to get nervous or maybe it was the sake but, I was in a good space so I started out with introducing my sister “who came down from Seattle” and telling em about our hike and the song I wrote for her.  Played it, sang it from the heart and a couple times during the song I notice someone leaning into my sister and saying something to her.  Got great round of applause for that one.  More than its ever received and great response for the other songs as well.  I was feeling pretty chuffed by the time I left the stage and even more so when another musician came up to say he really loved the music and to my sister how lucky she was to have that song written for her~  Oh yes…the little sister in me was totally digging on watching her older sister’s recognition that this music thing of mine was more than just a “hobby”.  It happens.  If you asked me what she did for a living I couldn’t quite tell you.  We get caught up in our own lives and since we only spend about 24 hours a year alone together it makes sense that we wouldn’t quite be up to speed on eachothers lives.  Still, its good we take the time out once in a blue moon to fill eachother in.  She had to leave shortly after I played so I walked her out to her car, big hugs and later got a message from her saying she’d like to stay longer on her next visit :-).

So, progress came in all shapes and forms last week…I even made it to the FJ/Hillstreet Open mic the couple nights before she came and even braved going to it on my own.  One of the regulars came up to me afterward asking which other ones I played at and suggested I “stick to the music” and I’d be just fine.  I think it was the most polite way anyone has ever told me to shuddup and sing before (I do tend to babble up there this I know)…I tried to pull back at Monday’s and this last one at FJ/HS but, to no avail.  I’m a babbler.  Give the youngest of nine and amp and it’s gonna happen…

This coming Wednesday I’ve got my heart set on getting out to the open mic at ROS and rooting on my pal JD who’s newly in charge of it.  You gotta support eachother.  I know many people who think that there’s only such much room for talent in the music/entertainment industry but, the truth is…avoiding supporting others keeps you in the shadows more than it does them so you’re actually helping your own cause when you support others.  At least that’s my speech when talking to them.  Y’know every time I go on stage he comes up afterward and promotes my website/facebook?  I can only think of a couple times I’ve mentioned the Wednesday open mic.  Right.  I’m gonna go and msg all the local bands I have connections with and urge them to go out there right now~

Am off to do that and probably won’t make the Monday one at Hensley’s because it’s Labor Day and that afternoon on I’ll be spending time with the Santos’ including their newest addition little Sailor Bailey 🙂  but, you know where I’ll be Wednesday night and I’ll have camera in hand and be ready to post the update the following evening, promise~

Til then, I hope that whatever obstacles you meet are met back with determination and unwillingness to accept them as impassable.  As a wise one recently reminded me; ” “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do”.

~John Wooden

Ohhhh I just love a good quote, don’t you?

Till then, thanks again for listening~