Weekend Update and the Traceable Milestone…

So, it hits me the other day as I sat down to type out my overdue Weekend Update…the # on the screen said “199” blogs…I did a double take…199??  I’ve written 199 excerpts on this story???   I can hardly believe it.  The realization brought back a flash of memories for me.  I’ve never been very good with measuring time but, that was like a 2×4 to the head.  I think when I started I imagined it would last about a year, I’d have my 2nd CD recorded, had my day on stage at someplace like the Belly Up and would be back to being persona non-grata in the world by now…  I’ve been struggling with what to write on this momentous blog of blogs until this morning…when I decided to go back to the beginning…to the first one.  Here’s a piece from it:

I’m kind of (most def) flying by the seat of my pants on this whole thing, following one gut instinct after another.  Friday, I made Michele listen to the added verse of a friend like me and she just waived her hand and said (think Staten Island accent) “how bout you just stop bein so mean and put the song back the way it was.  Charles was right too (he was), it was fine the way it was”.  The thing about writing music and knowing people are going to listen to it is that sometimes you’ll second guess it.  I remember talking to a guy my freshman year of college about writing music and he laid out the formula for me.  I barely remember it.  I barely remember yesterday but, I know there’s supposed to be a “bridge” and that two verses hardly makes  a song.  But, then I woke up this morning and remembered that this isn’t supposed to be music for the masses or (and I haaaaate) this term, “commercially viable”.  Seriously…doesn’t that term just kill the spirit of it all?  These songs are supposed to be what they’re meant to be; self expression.  And anyone who knows me knows I don’t have a formula for expressing my thoughts.  They just come out.  Good or bad and rarely eloquently.

Nail.  Head.  That’s me alright.  And so surreal to me that the blog and song were written in August of 2009 and the first time I played that song publicly was September of this year and if you recall that blog, I sung it for Charles…on my birthday at one of my favorite open mics.  I guess some things need to simmer until they’re ready to be served.  Charles has an edge to him.  A devil may care kind of attitude about somethings and almost Eddy Haskall well manerism (only I’m sure Chuck is sincere) especially in regards to women.  He’s a total gent.  He’s also (like me) a freak of nature when it comes to flipping death the bird.  Just before I left for Seattle I was informed he was in the hospital in serious condition for a burst appendix…one that had burst 5 days before…he just wasn’t feeling badly enough to concede to paying his deductible.  Yup.

There are 12 days left until Christmas as I write this and I don’t know about you but, this is the time of year where the dichotomy that is me goes into full bloom.  I’m filled with the child like enthusiasm and spirit of the season and yet I’m melancholy and sullen and crying at some of the cheesiest family Christmas stories ever made.  A regular Bridget Jones with the Jammies, big blanket and spread of booze n comfort foods before me as I root for the perkier than gidget chick on the screen that she gets it right the 12th time and lands the life of her dreams.

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Ok, it’s now December 19th and I’m no closer to finishing this so called milestone blog than I was when it was 12 days before Christmas…hrmmm…it’s not like I don’t like to blog.  I love it and I’m definitely feeling the pressure from afar to keep to my timelines on this thing but I don’t want to write drivel just to fill the space.  So, what’s keeping me in this holding pattern…?  Part of me thinks it’s a bit underwhelming that I haven’t gotten farther along by the 200th.  I think that’s a big part of it.  The other part is because my idea of time and measures of it pretty much went out the window this past year.  I have fleeting moments of recognition but, just that…fleeting…I think I like the “looking forward to” more than the moment itself…

So, let’s address the first one…Have I done enough to warrant excitement over reaching a 200th blog?  Since I started the blog in August of 2009…I went back to a blog from that month/year and looked up some of the goals I’d posted:

  • find someone to help promote the music and keep me organized – still searching…
  • get songs on 2 local radio stations – sent CD’s last year…got one to follow me on Twitter but, no airtime that I know of…
  • find new guitar teacher (mine moved back to Oregon) :( – Done – Moppet 🙂
  • 100 fans on Jango and 50 positive reviews – Done – 1o times over 🙂
  • 50 positive reviews on iTunes – sound of bomb dropping from above and Wylie Coyote looking up…
  • Launch Facebook fan page and get 100 fans – Done 🙂
  • Figure out twitter and use it – Done 🙂
  • Fine tune the website and blog – Done 🙂
  • Perform 2 songs on stage without panicking (outwardly at least) – Done – with a little help from our friends Sake and Guinness

Not bad.  And I created two Spinoffs from the Weeekend Updates….The Beer Theory (in which I imagine sitting in a pub with greats from our past enjoying a pint and getting some much needed advice from them on how to move forward) and the House on the Hill (the place I go to when I need to escape…my dream house…my dream life…), both of which my friends find highly entertaining and…isn’t that what this is mostly about?  Entertaining and Inspiring people.

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It’s now the day before Christmas and I’m still stumped at how to finish this so called monumental blog.  Instead I’ve been consumed by things like getting the gift sent to my Pop’s in time.  You see, we draw names at Thanksgiving.  Being such a big family and no millionaires in the bunch we decided ages ago that we’d put everyone’s name in the hat and draw one name each and put a $50 limit on it.  I got my brother Dennis again.  Third time in the past few years. I should’ve put it back (u can do that) but, I was determined to make up for the last one where I was standing in a long line at the post office 3 days before Christmas and paying more than the gift was worth to get it there on time (which it didn’t) and the gift was to be used on Christmas day.  We have a great tradition that started a decade or so ago where after all gifts are open and we’ve brunched and chilled, we head over to Den’s place in the far far outskirts about an hour north.   I came up with the bright idea of a cool boom box with a custom selection of music mixes on CD for him to play while we all (they all, I was staying in San Diego that year) gathered around the bonfire roasting marshmallows n hotdogs n s’mores.  I consulted nearly all my friends before I found the perfect gift for the man who needs/wants nothing.  This cool solar powered radio/charger so when he’s out on his extended hunting/fishing trips he can charge up his cell phone to call in help when somebody accidentally shoots somebody or there’s a leak in the boat or to have pizza delivered to the boat.  Well, that’s what I would use it for…

Anyway…gift ordered, shipped and received and wrapped and under the tree.  Miche is making her annual drop off of a bag of licorice and hugs to my Pop for me and the local florist is delivering a Scottish themed centerpiece for the traditional family Christmas Eve feast so they know I’m here in spirit…sealed with a promise of being there in the flesh next year.  It took a while for me to adjust to the idea of Christmas without my mom and her manic scurrying about and our arguments over what kind of tree to get (big, fat fluffy is the only kind in my books where she preferred a classier version in the form a noble fir – emphasis on “noble”).  Tonite is friends night (the orphans band together) with Chinese food and watching Christmas movies by a big, fat, fluffy tree…tomorrow is Christmas dinner at the Santos’.  Tuesday is cycle 5 of 6.  Keeping eyes on the prize…nice, long break then 3 month scan then…?

On the music front I did hit the FJ open mic on Thursday night.  I really missed it all but, with the Thanksgiving travel came the down side of catching something that looked liked the mumps.  It was bad enough they postponed chemo for a week (yay) and throat so tight I could barely speak let alone sing (booo).  But, a week of keeping my trap shut and loads of hot sake seemed to be the cure so I went up and I sang my little heart out.  I thought about the Indiegogo campaign while I was up there and the 28 bucks I’d spent on the seemingly unwin-able lottery and shrugged my shoulders as I caught the eye of fellow artists smiling back up at me as I sang and thought…you can’t put a price tag on that.  The reach may be smaller but, the effect is the same and that’s all I really wanted for Christmas.  I hadn’t played Dear Santa in a year.  I practiced it several times before and the words hit home but, when it came to play it, Ana and M shouted up that since it was the Santos’ anniversary I should sing the Baby song as my 3rd and final one.  They were quite the hecklers.  I did mention the  hot sake and it was cold in the courtyard that night (even by SoCal standards) so there you have it.  It was a perfect night.  My only regret was I didn’t bring my camera and I couldn’t find the flipcam to record any of it.  Oh, and all the reconnecting with childhood friends and the recent visit back home seems to be spurring on a new song…only a verse or two in my head so far the but the title is there…”Where I’m from”…hopefully will be finished by the time I’m back to the open mics end of next month…

So, I’ll leave you with a quote that keeps popping up in my head these days…The man who has all he wants, wants all he has…I’d say it’s just as true for women.  At least it is for this one.

Happy Christmas, Chanukah or whatever you choose to celebrate this season. I hope you get everything you want and that you want everything you get~

‘ali

 

Now, that's a tree~

Weekend Update and Trip(s) down Memory Lane…

There were several on this visit back home…in my childhood home with my family…with my BFF at our old haunts…and in a little wine bar sitting around with fellow comrades in arms…my fellow survivors of youth.  Say what you want about it but, facebook has done an extraordinary job of helping people re-connect.  For someone like me who tends to drift off without a map or a tether, it has been a veritable touchstone.  Since my visits back home are few and far between, I decided to take advantage of the facebook Event feature and invite all my fb friends that go back to high school days and to support a local, small business while we take in some great wines and catch up on old times and fill in the blanks between then and now.  So many times I’d smile and nod while I tried to take in what had just been said and draw a full picture in my head…”you have a 7 year old??”…”your grand what???”.  Look into their eyes and you’d instantly recognize them but, as they talk about their every day to day lives you realize that there are several chapters you seemed to have missed somehow.  What is it about time that just seems to slip through my fingers?  The blessings and curses of life.  I love drifting through time but, I hate missing out and that happens often when you don’t watch the news or pay attention to calendars…

So, back to the wine bar…I arrived shortly after the starting time to find several of my old friends (one I’ve known since the first day of kindergarten) already cozied around a table and…the warmth that emanated from them was almost overwhelming.  I remember being a bit over psyched at first and needed a few to relax and get into the moment (I can get so wound up).  I kept wavering from getting caught up in conversations and updates to craning my neck towards the door.  Jon caught me on it at one point and I explained how I wanted to be sure everyone would show and enjoyed themselves when they got there and because I was looking forward to seeing them all.  I imagined making a toast to life and us all surviving our youth and to those that have gone before us…I imagined this many times over the weeks leading up to the night and as each person RSVP’d on fb, I added their faces to the recurring mental image…but, I kept getting Veklhempt every time I envisioned it so I pushed it back, especially on the night.  Anyway, at one point he said something of that who will come will come and in his way reminded me to focus on what was in front of me.  Everyone was in a good place in their lives…even if they didn’t know it, you could see it in their eyes and the way they carried themselves.  The more we talked, the more we reminded eachother how much we’ve accomplished in our lives since those days.  It was very comforting and I loved every minute with them.

I don’t deny I was sad to see, or not see the rest of em.  Any of them will read this and could say with so many years gone by what’s the big whoop?  I think it’s just that thing you know…that whap on the head that reminds us we could get hit by a truck tomorrow so really take a moment from your troubles and soak in the good.  Plus, as nice as it is to virtually connect with everyone, there’s no replacement for “being there” and I had a strong desire to “be there…with them”.  So, you peeps know who you are…no need to point anyone out but, I will just say that as good as it was (and the evening was Great (with captial G)), you were missed and it would’ve been all the better if you’d been there.  Ok, one I will call out (and not the one (PB) for being far more practical than myself or than I sometimes wish he’d be) but, Christy.  I will call her out because she was one who gently but, firmly dragged me out of my cave when I was 19 and deeply hidden.  She and our friend David were instrumental in keeping me from drifting off to a place of no return.  Wait, not as in off myself.  That would never happen (except by accident by which all of my many maaaany guardian angels forget to cover a shift).  I’ve always been far too curious and as we know…I hate to miss out~  I was though on the verge of emotionally disengaging from everyone and in the “run off and join the circus” mode.  But, I took it for granted that she would just be there that night and for whatever reasons she wasn’t and so I want to tell the world “Christy…you were missed and I’m sorry I didn’t do more to make sure you’d be there with us”.  She’s no whiner so, I’m sure her reasons were good but, still…missed.  Very very missed.  So, I am envisioning her there when I go to see Brenda and her band play this summer.  Yup, I feel better now.  Oh but, wait there’s more…PS (Christy)…I wrapped up one of my mother’s English tea pots for you.  It had your name all over it so I’m sure it was one she’d wanted you to have.  I picture it in the background  of my memory of us three sitting together while she infused her wisdom on what you should remember to do/see/feel on your wedding day.  She loved those moments with my friends (mostly because if she dared to try it on me I’d scoff at her and loudly change the subject to something that would be equally annoying to her…ahhhh good times).  I’ll give it to you this summer before we head out to see Brenda and her band play…. See…they’re really real.  No longer on this shelf but, that where they sat (and then some) for more than 4 decades…yup, now I’m much better.  Oh, right.  It’s the white one with the blue flowers…

I did sing for them that night.  The pic I posted on facebook is from that night/moment.  Just before,  Jon kicked my shoe and pretty much told me it was now or never (and never wasn’t an option at that point) so, as reluctant as I was I did.  I was pretty nervous on the first song but, I kept reminding myself that these were friends and no matter how badly I sang (chemo was that week which means the frog was nicely settled into the throat and the vocal chords were strung up nice n tight like a harp) but, I had a couple glasses of some mighty fine Syrah in me and the blanket of night and soft lighting so I went for it, ending with By New Years Day to which someone mentioned “I downloaded that from iTunes” and I just beamed with pride.  I wanted to hear Brenda sing.  She thinks I’m shining her on but, she’s got a great voice.  I’ll have to time my next visit this summer to a week when her band is playing somewhere and bring my flipcam so I can share the moment.  That is definitely on my list.

How many times have I said it and meant it that I’m 12.  Especially when I’m sick so I’ve basically been 12 for most of the past year, to the point where I was kind of worried if I should/could snap out of it before people start to believe that’s my mental age for keeps.  I tend to carry about me that bright shiny perspective of a pre-pubescent…when I’m working I’m the total grownup and when I was with these people…I was in a nice, middle ground. Emphasis on ground as in I felt really grounded and hope filled.  BTW I’m listening to Pandora as I write this, headphones on while I sit in my favorite lounger at chemo (yeah, I lead slacker’s life). Anyway…this song is really getting to me…John Howard (never heard of him I think),  The Dilema of the Homo Sapien is the name of the song. I think its kind of John Lennon-ie.  Check it out and let me know what you think of it.

Another trip happened in my Pop’s house when I was downstairs carrying boxes to my old room (the designated space for all our recently acquired items of sentiment until we each had a chance to clear a space in homes/lives for them) when something caught my eye…behind a stack of books and stuff (crap, holy crap my dad is a pack rat and a half) was the poster…the one I told you about blogs and blogs ago of the west coastline…that’s been in our basement/rec room for as long as I can remember and  led to my dreams of the House on the Hill.  I’d asked several people to take photos of it but, if you haven’t figured it yet, I’m not the only one with ADD in that gang.  We all seem to suffer from the ole synapse lapse syndrome (If that isn’t a name for it yet then I call dibs).  Either way, the moment presented itself and my brain took immediate action before it could get distracted by anything else.  So, I will leave you with this picture that launched a thousand dreams (and several blogs).  That, and my unwavering gratitude to you all for keeping up with this story~

The picture that planted the seed that grew into the House on the Hill...

Weekend Update and the Wind down…

OMG where to begin?  I guess first, with the apology for missing last week’s blog (but, I’ll make up for it by writing 2 this weekend).  Where was I…oh yes…entertaining my dearest (and nearest to the Tasmanian devil) friend Steven.  I was feeling really drained by then.  We’d been nearly a whole week together and up to LA and back and forth to several events for the MLS cup and me stressing about not measuring up to the other photographers there and being convinced by Bern to spend the $400 I sooo didn’t have on a proper sports photography lens some guy was selling on craigslist which turned out to be brilliant.  I didn’t tell him I got it.  I kept that under wraps but, let the writer in on it.  So yay yay hey hey when he txtd me after the game when they saw the images coming through the dropbox how I’d come such a long way from a friend who was ill and he was trying to cheer up to these incredible, dare he say “professional grade” shots.  At one in particular,  he laughed and said he could nearly see the caps in Robbie Keane’s teeth.  Ha~  “I win~” I thought.  In the 14 years we’ve known eachother it’s been a virtual tug of war in convincing eachother who was the none the wiser (to which he usually wins…especially at Scrabble…) so…in LA…at the Cup Final…I had my day and it felt just as brilliant as I’d hoped it would.  It even went down well days later when I fessed up that I’d done it.  He saw that I was serious about making the grade and because of it, I got locked in to being next season’s photographer for all 9 Western Conference teams whenever they play in LA.

Ok, enough of that.  This one is about Thanksgiving.  That magical day when we all gather around and actually get along. 22 around the table this year.  We missed my nephew Ian and his girl Amy.  Ian is brilliant at ad lib, impromptu humor and Amy is just…well she’s many things but most of all she’s “lovely”.  Like if someone handed me a magic catalog and said I could pick from the top of the line, best of the best match for my sooo loved nephew…she would have been on the premier options page.  I love to see it when that happens.  They’re both lucky to have found eachother while they’re young.  It can happen later in life but, as my good friend PB says “the past colors the future’ meaning it makes it harder to see that oh so right person when your vision is clouded by the oh too wrongs you may have chosen in your not so clever youth.  He might say it’s better not to even look but, I (being the consummate Pollyanna) say it’s never too late.  Oh…one could be content by filling their life with work and home and a couple adoring pets and call it good but, we all know there’s so much more.  It’s like going to a Thanksgiving feast and saying yes to everything but, the Turkey and the Pumpkin Pie.  Really?  Seriously??  You gonna sit there and tell me what an awesome, why I’ll be thinking of it on my deathbed and fondly remembering what a feast that was???

Ok, I digressed there.  But, it was part of the winding down I swear.  My sister pulled off yet another brilliant feast.  And once again, we went around the table and said what we were thankful for.  I share how thankful I was for Tony, my friend who’s a hairdresser who leaped in to fix my full moon/half crazed “I feel it so I want it dark and stormy hair” incident.  I can’t remember what I said after but, I hope it was that I’m thankful to be here on this planet still and for my family and my sister for opening up and melting her glaciers to let us all in a bit closer.  I have more but, I’ll save it for the next blog “trip down memory lane”. Needless to say I’m in a very thankful mood these days…

Right now I’m sitting at Bern’s kitchen table typing away while the dogs are sprawled out in the living room listening to classical music.  She’s off at her company holiday party but, since I come up so often (and her finicky dogs love me) she decided to give me a key and let me come and go as I please.  So, we’re listening to classical and I even gave em a break (to which Roxy stood up and wagged her tail while Zoe plopped down and played dead during the duration) while I played a few of my songs that I hope will make it to CD II.  They’re rather dark, moppy curly things…almost Muppet like…don’t photograph well but, I did just catch one of Rox tolerating the classical.  Note to self…find a cool jazz or country station before leaving (Bern sets the stereo to turn on while she’s out to “entertain and educate” them).  I won’t say what it was on…only to say I’m not surprised they don’t bust the fence and aren’t out tossing over garbage cans and attacking the elderly.

Ok…still winding down apparently…Can I just say how cool the moment was when my sister and I had left my dad’s after a day of going through my mom’s stuff and for some reason the unspoken stuff just starting flowing out like we were talking about a favorite band.  One day I’ll elaborate but, trust me…it was monumentally cool.  And so…yes…in this trip was the terrible but, no overdue task of going through my mother’s things in the house we grew up in and boxing them up and taking our share so that we can make room for my dad’s new partner.  I’d say “wife” but, for some reason he went with “domestic partnership” which he announced at Thanksgiving to which my clever brother-in-law spouted “why, I didn’t even know you two were gay” (que feigned shock and upoarious laughter from the crowded table).  I guess it’s my dad’s way of honoring is 49.9 year marriage to my mom.  Silly when he found out that legally, its the same.  It’s only by name that makes the difference.  Still…I’m just glad to see him happy.  And I mean…this 80-something year old looks 5 years younger than the last time I saw him so that’s saying a lot.  He mentioned he heard I was planning to play at an open mic when I tell him “Pop, if you want to hear me play I’ll play right her for you” so…I went into the study and brought out my guitar and pulled up next to him by the kitchen island and played a few songs (I thought open mic was tough…nothing like my family who has full on conversations and step over you while you play) ending with “By New Year’s Day” because I think it’s my best so far and it’s such a happy song.  I see the appreciation in his eyes and that’s worth it all and then some.

So, we’re back in the car…my sister and me…and heading to my BFF Michelle’s house and spouting secrets like they’re matter of fact and she actually opts to come in and take Michelle up on her offer for a “glass of our home made 2009 Merlot” before heading home.  Remember Michelle is Miche and she and Rick were the inspiration for the song “By New Year’s Day”.  I’d never seen my sister so comfortable hanging with me and mine.  I think that 7 year gap in age has narrowed quite a bit over the past few years.  I don’t care how and I don’t care why…I just care that it happened because she’s the only other female that was part of my life in that house and can fully understand what our life was.  Nothing tragic.  Just intricate and at times…inexplicable to those who hadn’t “been there”.

Ohhh there’s so much more but, I have to sleep.  Then wake up with fresh perspective to edit then post…

Aaaaand I’m up~  The dogs and I are back at the kitchen table and caffeinating before I head off for the photo shoot.  Baby’s first Christmas kind of photo shoot.  Am really looking forward to it :-).

There was so much to the trip home that I feel like it takes up several blogs.  Music wise, I didn’t find an open mic.  Instead Miche drug me out to her local which is owned by a guy who used to be the bartender of a pub we all used to go to when we worked at the hospital together.  Small world.  Great guy  Shawn O’Donnell.  American but, even Bren would’ve been proud at how authentic his Irish pub was set up.  We sat at a table with her mom and mom’s best friend (who acted so much like us it was an eerie peak into our futures…) while Miche walked over to Shawn’s table and asked if I could play a few songs later.  When she came back she had tears in her eyes.  I was like what??  and she said she didn’t know…he was like “sure sure would love it” and she just started crying.  She did that alot during my stay.  I think I forget how stressful this all is on the people I love.  Especially the ones who don’t see me on a regular basis and get a whopping dose of it when they do see me.  Shawn decided his table was the best spot so he setup a tall chair in front of it and Miche sat at his new table next to it and quietly gave me thumbs up (means louder please) throughout until I thought I was going to snap a vocal chord.  Later she said it was fine.   So fine she wanted to be sure everyone in teh 2,000 sq foot joint could hear it.  Oy~   The next day we went over the campaign I was working on in Indiegogo.com.  One of the women from the cancer center had recommended it.  She meant for financial support for treatment but, I saw tons of artists that used it to get funding for their projects so that’s where I went with it.  Steven took a look at it, rubbed his hands together (which means brilliant and that he’s got some fine tuning to do) and got to work on it.  Days later Miche was doing the same and literally un-doing most of the changes he made “doesn’t sound like you…too formal”  ha~.  After dozens of edits and previewing…we both took a deep breath and clicked on “Launch”.  It still needs some things added but, for the most part I think it looks pretty good.  I feel like some hunter laying wait in the bushes for some rare, possibly mythical creature to approach and step into my clever trap.  It’s called “MusicalisPhylanthropis” and when trapped (inspired) will lay a golden egg and leave it behind for its captures (this is what a week with a 16 month old brings out in me, what can I say…).

So here I am…laying in wait…well my mind is, my body is busy getting ready for the photo-shoot and working on the new photography site (nearly finished, just working on the gallery).  So, if you come across one of these mythical creatures (or any of its 3,800 offspring) do me a favor and point them in this direction and I promise I’ll make really really good use of that egg.

Oh and either tonite or tomorrow night I’ll post the second installment “Trip down Memory Lane…”  In the meantime, I hope this month is reminding you of things to be thankful for and that you are not missing out on the best parts of the feast that is this life.  Dammt now I’m really craving Turkey and Cranberry sauce (which yes…I did not make mine this year and yes…I really did like my sister’s version of cranberry sauce ;).

Thanks (yes, I am especially thankful for all of you) for listening and following along~

‘ali

The pic that landed me the job for next season 🙂