missroserose: (Default)
Good morning, Chicago! Yesterday was completely lovely; the weather warm but not hot. Brian had to work, so I went and had brunch with a couple of friends, one of whom accompanied me for a nice wander around the neighborhood afterward. We got mani-pedis (and, for the first time ever, I managed to keep from smudging mine), and I took her to my recently-discovered favorite salon for an appointment. Yay for girly days! And now my finger- and toe-nails are precisely the same shade of orange-red as my hair.

As of today, I'm in a strange sort of limbo. I was originally supposed to be going to Detroit this week to help with more survey administration, but due to some bureaucratic argy-bargy (apparently two weeks is not enough time for Detroit Public Schools to run a background check) they had to send someone else instead. So now my schedule for the next several days is unusually bare.

This morning, at least, that turned out to be a plus. We woke up to discover a very bedraggled Leo looking shamefacedly up at us. At first we thought he'd taken a dip in his water fountain, but when I wandered out into the kitchen I found the counters and floor turned into a beautiful abstract oil painting. (Brian had been deep-frying chicken pieces last night and left the oil out in a bowl overnight to cool. Which, in all fairness, he normally does without incident.) Mop, drugstore for baby shampoo, bathtime, in that order. Now someone just needs to clean the kitchen up. Guess who's been elected. (Brian held Leo in the bathtub - fully clothed - while I poured water on them, and still got several scratches for his trouble, so really, it's only fair.) Meanwhile, Leo is furiously grooming all the water out of his fur. I predict a massive hairball or two later.

As it happens, I'm still going to the Detroit area on Thursday. Originally I'd been planning to go and visit CJ and Amanda and John the weekend after survey administration, but since that didn't work out, CJ offered to buy me a train ticket. I'm actually moderately excited about the prospect; I haven't yet been on Amtrak, and I'm quite fond of trains. And anything that means less time dealing with TSA is perfectly fine with me.

Mood-wise, there's been a lot of up-and-down recently. I wonder if the lack of yoga is part of it; I applied for CorePower's yoga-for-trade program and got back a generic "we'll let you know if there's an opening at a location near you" response. A month ago. I'm honestly wondering if I should just find a darn part-time job so I can pay for it; I still think their studios are way overpriced, but the improvements I saw in strength and mobility when I was going regularly were...marked. Not to mention how it always improved my outlook and emotional state. Sigh.

Still, I've had a good week now where I haven't been turning into Grumpy Cat every few minutes, and I'll take what I can get. I'm even playing the guitar again! I'd been doing it sporadically for several months, and then for a month or two I wasn't playing hardly at all. But I'm actually excited about it again, which hasn't been the case for a while now. Been thinking about making a video or a recording. Say it with me, folks: we'll see if anything comes of it.

The weather is beautiful today too, if warmer - approaching thunderstorms seem to love pushing the heat ahead of them. I suspect that after lunch I may put on shorts and sunscreen and wander down to the lakeshore with an ice cream bar.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
It's turning out to be nearly as much of an adventure settling in to this place as it was getting here. One of the many awesome things about our house in Bisbee was the truly ridiculous amount of storage it had; closets everywhere, two separate built-in chests of drawers, a pantry, etc. Accommodations here are...a little scantier (though we do have a giant walk-in closet that's probably going to house the dresser and some formerly-drawer storage). Most frustrating is the bathrooms; the previous ones both had medicine cabinets, and the master bath had one of the aforementioned built-in chests of drawers. Here we have...nothing! No drawers, no cabinets, flat mirrors, no counter space. Feh. I have a strong suspicion that this place has seen a string of bachelors as tenants.

Today, therefore, was an IKEA trip. As it turns out, the bed and traditional-style bookshelves will both need to wait until we can borrow or rent a truck, but we picked up some bathroom shelving that should serve for my hair things and whatnot, a modular shelving unit that should hold some books and such in our bedroom, and a sofa table that we're hoping will serve for a TV stand. Along with all sorts of nice little touches like candle holders and bathmats and some nice new bowls and plates. Because it's IKEA, and if you don't end up with a bunch of little items in your cart then you're probably not human. (I'm only half-joking there; those stores are almost scarily effective examples of market psychology being used in behavioral engineering.) Now for the fun part - interpretive construction! At least, trying to follow IKEA instructions often feels like an interpretive dance shaped toward eventual construction of your pieces.

We didn't make it to the Field Museum yesterday, but we did get down to Brian's new office to check it out ahead of his starting Friday. I'm pleased to report that it appears thoroughly awesome. The culture there is extremely laid-back and friendly; Brian's cubicle comes with a stock of company-branded foam darts, and the office has - I shit you not - a lounge with a hardwood pool table and fully stocked wet bar, along with an open invitation for spouses to join Friday-after-work cocktail hour. I have a feeling I may be getting to know the folks there rather better than at some of Brian's previous workplaces. :D

As to my own work, I've begun practicing again. Fortunately I don't seem to have lost too much muscle memory over the past week; and while my calluses are gone, I still have fairly tough skin on my fingertips. Chicago is a notoriously busking-unfriendly town, so it's looking like coffeeshop gigs are going to be a good goal to work towards. We went by our new favorite guitar store (the Chicago Music Exchange) so I could try an acoustic amp or two. I'm eyeing the Vox AGA30, as it's a nice portable size (I could haul it and my guitar along on the train without too much trouble) and not too expensive, but Brian (who's done sound work before) isn't sure it'd be loud enough for a good-size coffeeshop, especially with all the ambient noise. But at the moment it's all theoretical anyway - I've got an email for a local place that's looking for performers, but I'd like to have a song or two up on YouTube so I could send them the link first.

The kitties are all settling in well enough. Ian put together their cat tree last night and that's had a soothing effect on Leo The Neurotic Cat's psyche especially. (Between the new environs, the fairly loud central air, the occasional sirens, and some carpenters that've been installing a new deck on the building next door, the poor guy's been rather frazzled. Even when we just had the parts for the tree stacked up in the corner he was spending a goodly amount of time hiding in one of the houses. Fortunately he's doing better today.) Dexter is rather miffed that he's been on a wet-food-only diet, though as the vet predicted, it's doing good things for his coat. (And it's not like he can't stand to lose a pound or two.) Tripp spent the first few days sleeping an awful lot (not unlike his humans...), but as Brian put it when his petting hand was pounced upon this morning, "I can tell you're feeling better because now you're all crazy again."

Somewhat entertainingly, we've been here four days and still haven't gone grocery shopping (other than the earlier-referenced trip for salad supplies for dinner the other day). The last time we moved across the country, we had to go shopping almost immediately, as the only non-fast-food options were mediocre chains. This time, between being so tired from travelling and being so busy putting our house together and being so eager to try all the amazing food (at least two pho places within a block of our house! Ann Sather just a couple of streets over! Better Mexican food than we had the entire time we were in Arizona!), we haven't even gotten around to cooking in our fabulous new kitchen yet. But it's only a matter of time, I'm sure.
missroserose: (Partnership)
We have no Internet until Thursday, so I'm tapping this out on my phone. Apologies to anyone I've not responded to; I'll have a better connection soon.

We made it! And without any major mishaps, either, despite the fun of maneuvering a 16' Penske truck through crowded city streets. (I took the bus at one point today and came away with nothing but respect for the city's drivers; I can only imagine the constant stress and hassle of piloting a vehicle that size in a city this complex and congested. Mass props, CTA.) The most Type III fun part was unloading the truck; strange how loading it (from a single-floor house with five+ people working together) was so much less work than unloading it (with three people into a second-floor unit). I don't think any of us have properly functioning legs today, especially where stairs are involved.

Today's mostly been unpacking (Brian managed to get nearly the whole kitchen done) and errands (the aforementioned truck-wrangling - fortunately a cross-country trip had been enough to give Ian a very good idea of the truck's handling characteristics, and we returned it without any problems and only a few circuits of the lot trying to figure out where we were turning in). The cats have been fairly unimpressed with the whole deal, but are slowly settling in. Utilities are now in our name. Internet is set to be connected Thursday. We need a bed of some description - we ordered a new mattress, which Amazon graciously delivered to us the day we moved in (hurrah for the free trial of Amazon Prime!), but right now it's just on the floor. We may see if any of Brian's local online connections have a truck so we can go to IKEA, or we might just deal with it for a bit. We'll see.

Mostly, I'm just grateful that we all got here in one piece. I think it's still sinking in that this is our actual, permanent home now. Not that it's anything to complain about - the unit is quite nice, on a very pretty street in a nice neighborhood with plenty of stores (I walked to the grocery store to get stuff for dinner! For the first time in my life!) and restaurants (There's a Subway just down the street! And all sorts of awesome local places!) right nearby. Just...I've wanted to live in a city for so long, and I'm so used to showing up in one for a week or so and then leaving, I think it's going to take awhile to convince myself that I'm here for good.

Tomorrow we're going to check out the Field Museum, and also the newly-opened branch of the awesome coffee shop we found when we were here last. They had a sign up saying they were looking for musicians at the other location; maybe I'll ask and see if they're looking at this one too. That'd be convenient, as it's all of a half-mile away. Speaking of which, I'd best get back to practicing. I think I've managed to get the guitar out...twice? During this whole project? Bad Rose. No treats until you've got proper calluses again.
missroserose: (Partnership)
"Hey, we're playing at the Copper Queen on Sunday. You're still welcome."

Beneath my busker's smile, I spend what feels like a good ten seconds wracking my brain until something clicks. That's right, this was the "come to our acoustic-only jam/any instrument you plug in becomes an electrical appliance" guy who'd approached me last week. "Oh, that's so kind of you. But I'm probably going to be busy packing - I leave town in a week."

Unfazed, he smiles and tossed a dollar in my case - a full third of my take for the hour. "Ah well. You're welcome if you change your mind." And with a nod, that I return, he wanders off.

I'm picking out the opening to "Dust in the Wind" when Albert speaks up. "You don't belong with them."

For all that he shows up nearly every week to listen, Albert doesn't say much, and I nearly drop a note in surprise. "How do you mean?"

He shrugs, his western-style fedora bobbing as he moves his head back and forth. "They're nice folks, but they've got no talent."

I'm a little surprised - Albert is a self-professed lover of live music, and aside from the creepy cultist-Christian family that occasionally sings at the weekly farmers' market - "There's only so much singin' about God a man can take" - I've never heard heard him speak a word against any local musician. "Hey, I'm not going to to diss on someone else's music-making," I point out.

He shakes his head emphatically. "No, not like that. They have a good time. They're fun to listen to. But...you've got someone playing Bach, they don't belong with someone playing kazoo. You know?"
missroserose: (Partnership)
They're not quite 100%, but I have enough strength and dexterity in my left fingers to properly play again. And my middle finger, which was stiff enough to be problematic on some chords, seems to be back in business. There's more than a little practicing and rebuilding endurance ahead, especially with the three-hour gig coming up in a couple of weeks, but I don't care - I can finally play again!

Also we're moving to Chicago.
missroserose: (Hippie Musician)
...and I'm starting to get a little antsy. I don't think I've gone two days in a row without practicing since picking up the guitar more than a year ago. Maybe I should do some vocal exercises to help keep the anxiety at bay.

The good news is, the swelling's nearly gone, even if the fingers are still too sore to play. Hopefully this is a sign that healing time won't take more than a week.
missroserose: (Hello Grumpy)
It's been an...eventful week. Some frustrating things have happened, but some awesome things have too. I'll definitely take that over the "nothing but frustrations" kind of week, but it does mean I can't in good conscience write a ranty "why did this week happen to me" post. Which makes me a bit grouchy on its own. Grumble.

To begin at the beginning, last Saturday Brian and I were coming back from the Farmer's Market when our car went "bing" and gave us the engine-overheating warning. We popped the hood and discovered the coolant boiling over (even through the sealed cap); given the balance of evidence (it's an eight year old car with 109,000 miles on it) we figured the water pump had given up the ghost. Hardly unexpected, but it turned out to be particularly bad timing. Most weeks we could probably have gotten by with borrowing Brian's work truck (the grocery store is right by his work, and we could have begged rides from friends to/from our mechanic's in Sierra Vista), but this particular week he had a flight to Albuquerque to catch. So that added a couple hundred bucks' worth of rental car to the bill, on top of the towing to Sierra Vista and the pump itself and labor to put it in. Unsurprisingly, that ended up more or less emptying out our emergency fund.

On the other hand, I had a nothing-but-pleasant experience with the rental car company. There's a small Enterprise franchise just a block from my mechanic's; I'd never used them before, but have friends who have nothing but good things to say Enterprise. So I wandered down there and told them "I need to rent a car, probably for about a week?" They were very flexible, and while (unsurprisingly) their least-expensive cars were all rented out, they offered me a Prius for the midsize price (just under $200 a week with tax), which I was happy to accept. Even better, the employees were all competent and polite (surprising, for Sierra Vista) they didn't try to upsell me on insurance/a GPS/roadside assistance/the other eighty billion things Hertz and the others have all tried to push on me. Needless to say, I was pleased.

I also rather enjoyed driving the Prius around. It definitely didn't have the most hamsters on the road (accelerating up the hill from Old Bisbee onto Highway 90 was a bit of an adventure), but it got us all over southern Arizona with no problems. I've heard some people say the cockpit is too strange for them, but I found it to be quite intuitively designed, and really liked the heads-up display with info like the battery charge level and your per-trip mileage. Also, the sound system has improved immensely; I remember test-driving one back in 2007 or so and being rather miffed at the tinny sound quality. This one had a perfectly respectable stereo and a USB connection to my music player, to boot. (Yay for built-in touchscreen controls without having to futz with your phone! Yay also for charging and audio through a single cable!) And the entire week's driving, which included multiple trips to Sierra Vista and back, a trip to Tucson and back, and a not-insignificant amount of driving around Tucson, cost me all of $35 in gas. (By comparison, a similar amount of driving in our BMW, which gets excellent gas mileage for its age and class, would've cost nearly twice that.) It occurred to me that if I were doing the professional-musician thing (driving around a lot for gigs and lessons and such), it would be a strong contender for the perfect car - lots of room for gear, not too expensive, economical on gas. If only a professional musician's income weren't so frustratingly inconsistent from year to year, and even month to month.

Wednesday came around, and Brian and I got up at 4:00 AM to catch his 7:30 flight to Albuquerque. The story behind this is a little convoluted, but the short version is this: back in May, he had several phone interviews with a network information and security firm in Chicago. Obviously we were pretty excited about this, as we've both wanted to move to a proper metropolitan area for a while, and while Brian's current job with the County isn't awful, its opportunities for advancement were fairly limited (and he'd just been turned down for a pretty significant one). Unfortunately, after several phone interviews, the folks from this company disappeared for a month - and when they resurfaced, they had him talk to someone in Albuquerque about what sounded like a drastically different position. (And in the meantime, Brian had been offered a non-traditional advancement path with the County, doing much more of what he liked, with more money involved too.) The Chicago folks asked him to come to Albuquerque to meet them in person, though, and while he had a lot of reservations about them (as we've already done the "move across the country to a job with people who can't keep their shit together" thing once, and it was a near-disaster), he figured it couldn't hurt to meet with them and ask what was going on in person.

Apparently things went rather better than he expected; not enough to erase all his reservations, but enough that we're adopting a "wait and see" attitude, pending what they offer him. Obviously we're both a little torn about the idea. On the one hand, things are definitely looking up here; he's getting to do some awesome (and awesomely resume-building) stuff at his job, and I'm starting to make connections with folks in the music community here. But on the other, the fact remains that opportunities for both our careers are ultimately pretty limited in this area. Which doesn't mean that saving for a couple of years before moving wouldn't be a good plan, especially as we've just had to empty out our savings. But depending on whether he can negotiate a significant relocation bonus with them...and back and forth it goes. (And that's not even getting into the more emotional aspects of "I want to live in a city, goddammit" and "I never thought I'd say this, but I kinda miss snow and rain.")

Meanwhile, since he was leaving early and coming back at 11:30, I decided to book us a hotel room in Tucson for the night so he wouldn't be driving back after a nineteen-hour day. Thanks to it being summer in Tucson, I managed to nab us a room at the Wyndham Westward Look Resort for about $100 (including resort fee). Gorgeous place - quiet, beautiful xeriscaping, great pool area, super-friendly staff (I hardly felt snooted at once!), spacious room with a bathroom larger than some apartments I've seen. I doubt I'd stay there at the full rate, especially in the busy season, but in Brian's words, "I've stayed in way crappier places for a hundred bucks a night."

Conveniently, while I was killing time down on 4th Avenue, I also discovered that Sky Bar was having an open mic that night. (Convenient because they're right next to a late-night pizza joint Brian adores, and I'd promised to bring him some when I picked him up from the airport.) So I put on my awesome Nordstrom's maxi dress (awesome because it looks great, packs easy, and I got it for $3 thanks to various discounts) and a bit of makeup, grabbed Kalia, and showed up a couple of hours in...only to discover that most people call ahead before the night even starts and all the slots were full. However, the emcee (who went by the entertainingly Regency nomenclature DJ Odious) took pity on me when I told him it was my first open mic, and managed to slip me in for a couple of songs while a Mexican ska band set up behind me. (In contrast to his name, Sir Odious was a fantastic emcee - excellent at tech, good at putting the performers at their ease, and encouraging and helpful to newbies like me. Mass props.) I was fairly nervous, but I think I at least put in a respectable performance. At the very least, I had the undivided attention of a few folks up by the stage - and in a bar environment, "undivided attention" is about the best compliment you can ask for.

Picture, compliments of the aforementioned Sir Odious:



Incidentally, I'm glad he had me go before the Mexican ska band, because holy crap. They were amazing.

The night at the hotel/obligatory Costco trip/drive home were all pleasant if uneventful*. Friday I did my usual busking after yoga class; it turned out to be my best day so far financially, bringing in nearly double my prevous record (two $5 bills, woo! plus assorted singles), and some wonderfully heartfelt compliments. And later that afternoon Brian and I drove down to Sierra Vista, dropped off the rental car, walked to our mechanic's shop, and picked up the BMW.

At which point I apparently decided two weeks was far too long to go without a physical mishap, and tripped over a concrete parking bollard and fell, scraping up my shoulder and spraining three of the fingers on my left hand in the process.

My fretting hand.

In the words of Kvothe, possibly the literary patron saint of musicians (and craftspeople, and pickpockets) everywhere...Tehlu spare my hands.

The good news is nothing seems to be broken (I can move all my fingers and I don't have that bone-deep ache that signifies a fracture somewhere), so our financial situation isn't any more precarious. The bad news is, as I discovered when I sprained both my ankles a few years ago, soft-tissue injuries are tricky and hard to predict in terms of healing time. It might be a week, it might be three or four, depending on the severity of the sprains and how good I am at keeping them immobilized. And I have a gig in a month to practice for, dammit.

So that's been my week. How was yours?

*ETA: Though at Costco I did find a fantastic 18-year-old Scotch for $32, as well as a book I'd been wanting for $9. Which both chalk definitively into the "good" column.
missroserose: (Partnership)
Those musicians. Give them a single paid gig, and a couple of good days busking, and suddenly they think they're, like, professionals or something, and go ordering business cards and stickers and all manner of frooforah. You don't even have a business, you have a guitar and a twelve-song repertoire. So what do you need business cards for? Get over yourself.

Yes, thank you, Niggling Self-Doubt. Your services are not required at this time.

In all seriousness, Friday was another excellent busking day, both cash-wise and interaction-wise; I even made one woman cry with a song one of my mother's high-school friends wrote and taught her. I was a little nonplussed, given that it's actually a sweet and fairly upbeat little ditty about being happy and in love, but emotional interaction is emotional interaction. And afterward we had a conversation about depression and loneliness; she seemed like a very sweet woman who'd hit a rough patch, and if nothing else, I think the song helped to remind her that there was happiness out there, too. I hope, anyway.

Meantime, life continues to be a series of ups and downs. I decided to order some business cards and stickers from Vistaprint; despite my fears about being premature (see Niggling Self-Doubt, above) it felt like now would be a good time. I figure I can sell the stickers for $1 while I'm busking, and the cards will be nice to hand to people that I talk to. It's true, I wouldn't say I have a "business" quite yet, but if people are already hiring me for gigs (well, "gig", singular) it seems like a bit of self-promotion is in order.

On another note, I'd forgotten how high-pressure-car-sales Vistaprint's website is. They make good-quality products, and if you do even a little bit of trawling the Internet you can find some pretty excellent deals (I got 500 business cards on premium glossy stock, sixty glossy 3" diameter stickers, and an engraved business card holder for just over $50 with free shipping). But they just don't let up on the upsales - "Are you sure you don't want a mug? A tote bag? A mousepad? What about calendars? Or possibly pens? Look, doesn't your logo look fantastic on this notebook? And what about our web-design services? We'll even manage your Facebook page for yoooouu!" On the "order confirmation" page, they were going "Look, address labels! Only a few dollars more! See, look - here's your order with them, and here it is without!" Even the "Thank you for your order" page has a bunch of "Buy these now on super-deep discount!" offers. It's like you're leaving the store and the salesman is still clinging to your pant leg going "Are you extra special super sure you don't want these? Cross your heart and hope to die?" Cripes.

Still, I'm pretty pleased with the designs I came up with, so I suppose I can't complain too heavily:

Self-promotion ahoy! )

I swear, that sketch I purchased on a whim from my friend Alisa has turned out to be one of the best investments I've made. It's about a perfect logo, far better than anything I'd have come up with. And it even served as the inspiration for the slogan. (Alisa, expect to be getting a thank-you card in the mail with some samples once they come in - maybe they'd be good for your portfolio?)

There was an interesting moment when I realized that my potential order had gone from about $15 to about $50, and panicked over whether I wanted to spend that much money in one go on a project that's still very much in its nascent stages. (I've still got about a box and 3/4 of Rebel Bartender cards sitting in the closet.) But then I realized that I have a $50 cheque sitting on the coffee table for my first paid gig. And that more or less sealed the deal - if they're going to have that much confidence in me, the least I can do is invest that much confidence in myself. It does mean it's $50 that's not going towards my Dream Guitar, but if my efforts net me even just one more $50 gig they'll have paid for themselves. So let's cross our fingers, both that the effort pays off and that I don't lose my nerve.

And now, practice. All the self-promotion in the world won't help if I don't have a repertoire worth promoting...
missroserose: (Partnership)
The paid gig is officially set. They've even paid me already - more than a month in advance! - which surprised the heck out of me. (If my writer friends' experiences are anything to go by, getting paid for one's art is generally a much tougher thing, sometimes even when it's offered. Not that I'm complaining, mind.) If you're in town on the 7th of September, come take the garden tour; I'll be hanging out at 123 Clawson Avenue and singing my heart out.

Speaking of my heart (as in something I've set it on), I've decided on my dream guitar. When I was at Rainbow Guitars last, I played a rosewood-and-spruce Taylor Grand Orchestra, their biggest body size. I'm not sure I even have words for the richness and complexity of the sound; rosewood is notorious for its full deep bass, but the size and shape (and Sitka spruce top) helped bring out the midrange and trebles beautifully. I almost want to say I was intimidated by its volume and sound quality, but that's actually completely the opposite of what happened; from the first strum, I knew I had to sing with it. And I did, and it was the most magnificent experience.

I don't want that exact model; the abalone purfling around the outside ("purfling", the term for the decorative trim around the edges of an instrument, is my new favorite word) is a little too blingy for my taste, and the vintage-style brass tuners don't really do it for me either. But like all guitar manufacturers, Taylor will happily do custom orders, with any or all the options you might want. If I can find a design that I like, I'd love to get a rose-vine inlay on the neck and perhaps a matching rose on the bridge. Obviously I don't have a specific price point, but (based on the cost of the 918e) I'm going to guess it'll be in the $6000 range. So that's what I'm saving my music-making money for. It makes for a nice goal - unnecessary enough that there's no rush (at my current average of about $6 a week it'll take me, oh, twenty-odd years to save up that much) but something I'm passionate enough about that it's a motivation to improve. Not to mention that, by the time I can afford it, I should be able to play well enough to deserve such a beautiful instrument.

Meantime, I'm enjoying tooling around with my other two lovely guitars. The last couple of Fridays busking have been a bit cash-poor, but I've amassed a few 'fans' - Bisbee around-town regulars who always come by and listen when I'm playing, despite probably having my entire repertoire memorized by now. Oddly gratifying, that. I also went out and played for an hour by the library in Sierra Vista while I was waiting for an oil change on my car; not exactly the most appreciative audience, but none of the sour-faced retirees who wandered by chewed me out like I was half-expecting, and a couple of kids dropped some change in my hat. (One kid was all "I don't have a dollar, but here, I've got a bottle of water" - in the desert and while you're singing, arguably an even better tip.) And today, since I needed to go downtown for work anyway, I brought my travel guitar and played for a couple of hours afterward. For the first hour, I thought it was going to be a complete bust - I had nothing other than the seed money in my hat and almost nobody was listening. But then a couple of my regulars showed up (one of them even went "Oh hey, I was actually working today, so here" and gave me a couple dollars - awww!), and there was a bit of afternoon traffic, and by the time my fingers gave out I had $10, a bag of mint, and only one mosquito bite (hurrah for remembering bug spray this time). So I came home and had a shower and made myself a mojito. Not a bad day, all told.
missroserose: (Partnership)
For those Luddites security-conscious people who don't use Facebook and therefore aren't seeing my updates, I've been going out busking with some regularity for the past month and a half. Nothing ambitious, just once a week or so, usually for an hour at a time - at that point I've usually fully and completely run out of material, and if I go for much longer my fingers start complaining. Most of the time I play on one of the benches over by the post office; I tried playing on the upper part of Main Street once but had a shop owner give me a snippy passive-aggressive "The polite thing to do would have been to ask before playing on my bench". And frankly, I didn't like having to compete directly with traffic. (Though once or twice a couple of cars with their windows rolled down slowed for a moment to listen. Which was gratifying, but also a little worrying - I'm not trying to create a traffic hazard!)

Aside from the one aforementioned incident, it's been a pretty positive experience all around. Not particularly lucrative - I've ranged from $2 to $11 for my hour - but given that I'm just starting out and this is mostly performance practice (not to mention it's not exactly tourist season), I'm not fuzzed about the money. I have had a number of very nice compliments from people, and it's definitely been a motivator to expand my repertoire. Current projects: "Diamonds and Rust" (oh god all the picking!), "American Pie" (oh god all the chord changes!).

Today was especially interesting. It's been cloudy and sprinkling rain every now and then - pleasant enough for an Alaskan native, but not the sort that really draws folks out around here. So I wasn't expecting to make much during my hour. (The day's total was looking to be a grand total of $1 until a bunch of nine-to-twelve-year-old-looking kids came by with shy smiles and dropped another $3 in my guitar case. Awww.) But I did have a dude stop by, see my "Find me on Facebook!" sign and join my page there, which was awesome. And even better, a couple of locals came up and offered me an actual honest-to-god paying gig! Apparently during the home-and-garden tour in early September, they try to have musicians hanging out in some of the nicer gardens to add ambience. It's $50 for three hours playing for passersby in a pretty garden somewhere in town, with no restrictions on what I can play or really even any rules other than "show up". And I can still have my case out for tips. Sounds pretty sweet.

So, yeah. Achievement Unlocked: Offered A Paying Gig. Now to expand my repertoire a bit more and get my fingers toughened up to where I can play three hours in a go by September...
missroserose: (Partnership)
There are times, like yesterday, when I find myself idly leafing through pictures of you. And I get to some of the pictures from a few years back, and I look at them and think "My God, she was so young." And I am confused because I don't remember you ever being that young. You had always been so mature and confident and.... not this girl I'm looking at. I can see you in her, though, and I marvel at what she will one day become. It's like cupping a seed in the palm of your hand and seeing the flower curled up inside it, waiting. --[personal profile] cyrano

It seems almost a self-congratulatory point to start at, but my friend's comment frankly captures my own sentiments, too. I've long since come to terms with the fact that my present self, while seeming confident and collected and smart, will seem painfully out of touch and naive five years from now. But it's also nice to think that in those five years I'll have grown enough to feel that way about my consciousness now.

For a long time (so long that I can't even remember where I first read it), my favorite metaphor for the aging process has been that of the Matryoshka doll - each year adding another layer, but all of the previous layers still contained within. And while that still seems accurate, if somewhat imprecise, I find myself wondering if it's more along the lines of a continuum - where future versions of yourself exist, and perhaps even have an effect on, your current self, just as your past ones do.

Bah. This is what I get for waiting until 10:30 the night before my birthday to finally try to write a post. Metaphysical musings that probably don't make much sense. Perhaps I'd best stick to the 'past in review' model, then.

In retrospect, twenty-eight (especially the latter half of it) was something of a crisis year for me. As with so many things, it seemed to stem largely from my sense of identity, or lack thereof. I'd had little luck finding a career-type job here in Arizona, I'd dabbled in various artistic endeavours but never long or deeply enough to properly consider myself an artist, I wanted desperately to write but couldn't seem to motivate myself to do so regularly. I had few friends in the area and none that needed any particular kind of help or support. I had little luck finding opportunities to sing; even karaoke opportunities were practically nonexistent. So that left...being a wife. Which, while pleasant, was hardly in line with how I saw myself, and certainly not without its own frustrations.

I very nearly made some drastic changes in my life then, borne less out of a logical progression of "this is the problem and these will fix it" than "everything else is crap and if I blow the rest of it away at least I'm starting fresh". I've done similar things in my life before. But while it was a close thing, probably closer than I'd like to admit, I'm a little bit proud of myself. Because instead of blowing up my life, I made a deal with myself that I would try to find less drastic and more-likely-to-directly-help ways of solving my problems.

I bring this up for two reasons. One is that it illustrates a theme I've returned to several times in my birthday posts - that I actually rather like getting older, because I learn things like the self-knowledge to recognize a destructive pattern and the patience to create a plan to work through it instead. And the other is that today was my deadline, of a sort. At the nadir point, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking "I'm nearly thirty. What am I going to do if I hit that point and things are still this awful? Do I really want to be thirty years old and have no sense of my own identity?" And I thought, "Well, that's a year and a half away. If things haven't gotten better by then, thirty seems as good a time as any to clear the slate and make a fresh start."

But they did. (They got better by my twenty-ninth birthday, thankfully, and have continued to improve.) And I won't. And I'm very grateful that I was/am old enough and smart enough to avoid that pitfall. Even if it took me nearly three decades to learn.

On that subject, I don't think I can overstate how much picking up guitar has helped with all of that. I have an identity now (and I'm starting to reach the skill-level where I don't feel like a total poseur in referring to myself as a "musician", either). It's given me a complementary skill to practice singing against. And I've finally found a pursuit that, while enthusiasm ebbs and flows as with any hobby, it's constant enough that I don't find myself setting it aside for months or years at a time.

It helps that I'm good at it, too. Not great - I have a long, long way to go before I come anywhere near that point - but good enough to impress my guitar teachers, my friends, and even some of the people who wander by while I'm busking. Good enough that I can look at the tab to "Diamonds and Rust" and go "Well, that'll take a while to learn, but I'm certain I will learn it, eventually." Good enough that I can play a song I remember my mother playing and singing to me when I was very young, and hear her singing through me - me, who never felt like my voice would match up to hers.

Things are not perfect, nor will they ever be. But they are much, much better. And I have far more joy in the present and hope for the future than I did then.

As "turning thirty" goes, I think "joy and hope" is a pretty good note to hold, don't you?


missroserose: (Partnership)
It's been a hectic week, mostly thanks to a strong sense of uncertainty - there may or may not be some pretty serious changes looming on the horizon, depending on how things shake out next week. (Good changes, but big ones.) So of course I've been doing the thing I do best when faced with big scary uncertainties: disappearing into the Internet looking up costs and information and everything I can find so that I'll be prepared if said changes do come to pass. Needless to say, my daily goal checklist has suffered somewhat, as has my guitar practice.

So it was that this morning I woke up, realized I had a guitar lesson today and hadn't practiced the song I was supposed to learn at all. Which, since my teacher's style is very much "here's the chords, let's see what you come up with", is something of a liability. Especially since in this particular one he'd said "Here's this one riff, you can probably fill in the rest from there."

Fortunately my lesson wasn't until 3:00, so even with some "let's procrastinate by taking a walk and doing yoga and all the other stuff I've been ignoring this week", I still had a good few hours to work on it. Fortunately it's not a difficult song ("She's Not There", by the Zombies), so between a chord sheet and the riff my teacher had shown me, I was able to figure out an arrangement I liked, and even a nifty set of strum patterns to jazz it up a bit. Unfortunately, given that I had only an hour or so to practice before I had to pack up and drive to Sierra Vista, it was a lot shakier than I wanted it to be. But it was something. So I went to my lesson, and I played my arrangement (stumbling through a few parts of it, because it was all of a few hours old), and tried not to cringe in anticipation.

And my teacher said, "Holy crap! That sounds great! You must have been working on it all week!"

As one might imagine, my feelings on his reaction are a little mixed. I mean, on the one hand, it was gratifying, and certainly relieved that he wasn't going to be disappointed with me for my lack of practice this week. But I felt a certain amount of what I've heard referred to as "impostor syndrome" - like I hadn't earned the praise he was giving me, and had merely managed to trick him into thinking I'd done well. (Even though I know he's not the type to indulge or flatter his students. Last week, when he told me I was doing amazingly well for only having been playing a year, I was extremely pleased because I knew he wouldn't have said so if he didn't believe it to be true. And given that he's got some basis for experience, I figure he's a good judge. But last week I'd also practiced the song he gave me all week.)

I think some of it is tied in to my ongoing struggle with my own talents - the whole "I can do a half-ass job and still come out above average, so I've never learned to work hard and really develop them" conundrum. (In my particular case, it's combined with a phobia of actually doing as well as I could, since that might create an expectation and then I wouldn't be able to get away with doing a half-ass job anymore.) I'm trying to overcome that, in fits and starts, so hearing praise for my efforts when I knew they weren't as good as I could give was a little cognitive-dissonance inducing.

Still. It's nice to know I can do in two hours what it takes most one-year students a week. :)
missroserose: (Hippie Musician)
Between the lack-of-work situation and some fairly large expenses that have cropped up recently (hello, medical bills that go so far beyond ridiculous as to be sublime!), I'm starting to seriously look at my options with finding another job, even just a low-paying part-time gig. Thing is, it's nearly the end of tourist season here, so I doubt many folk will be hiring, and I don't always have the transport to get to Sierra Vista. (Not to mention exactly how much the gas costs inherent to a 60-mile round-trip commute eat into your part-time paycheck.)

It's occurred to me more than once that I could take up busking - I have a (small) repertoire at this point, and God knows I could use the performing practice. I also have a list of reasons not to - or really, excuses - about a mile long. It's getting to be hot outside. Tourist season is almost over. There aren't that many people around anyway. I wouldn't make enough to make it worth my time. I can only play about half an hour before my chording hand starts to hurt. I only really know maybe five songs well enough to perform. If I got bored of them and tried something new I might make mistakes in front of people. Hell, I might make mistakes on the ones I do know. Not to mention people might laugh at me for busking with a $1400 guitar.

I think it was my mother that told me once that the best road to achieving your dreams was to take the course of action that made you think of the most reasons not to do it. If that's true, I should be making a livable wage on my music...oh, about three days after I start busking. :P

Centered

Apr. 22nd, 2013 07:17 pm
missroserose: (Warrior III)
I know I've not been at my best, mentally, of late. A lot of it has been the roller-coaster of finances and Brian's job hunt and other preparations for/aggravations about a move that may or may not materialize this year. Some of it's been the standard emotional ups and downs. Some of it's been minor frustrations with work - I've been feeling for a while like I've sort of worked myself out of a job, and sometimes it seems like the only reason my boss is keeping me around (for all of five-to-ten-hours-a-week) is because I'm useful to have around every now and then and ultimately she doesn't want to deal with the unemployment filing. Some of it's been the (sing along with me) social isolation in a town with few people my age and even fewer that I really connect with. Although I've been making an effort to go out and be more social. Can't very well complain about a lack of connections when I don't make opportunities for them to happen.

Still, I don't think I realized exactly how far out of it I've been. Yesterday was something of a nadir point; I went to a local-artists-playing-live-music event, and was invited by one of the hosts to play (he'd noticed me around town with my guitar on my back), and couldn't get up the courage to do so. So while I enjoyed the music, I ended up spending most of the rest of the day kicking myself for the missed opportunity, and trying not to think about it, or about how in some ways I feel like I've stalled on my guitar progress.

I've begun taking lessons again, but my teacher wants me to work on my chording, especially barre chords. So it's been slow going. But eventually I decided I should stop moping and just get to work on the damn barre chords. I felt a little better after that, if still kind of bummed about letting my fears get the best of me. (Again.) So I went to bed determining to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with things.

And somehow, that resolution seems to have leaked into the rest of my life. I woke this morning feeling better, possibly better than I had in a while. More centered, less haggard. The realization really set in, though, when I went to do my morning yoga and could do tree pose (standing on one leg) without so much as a wobble. I guess the centered-ness was physical as well as mental. I did some slightly-annoying tasks I'd been putting off, and was far less annoyed by them than I thought I would be. I went to work and felt useful and productive. (It helped that I had things to do and my boss was actually there to work with, but still. Definitely an improvement over the past couple of weeks.)

It's really nice, actually. I'd almost forgotten what it felt like to feel like you are exactly where you're supposed to be, and not wondering if you're forgetting something or wishing you were somewhere else. For all that the future's still uncertain, it seems there's a definite lesson to be learned there. Being satisfied with where you are now doesn't preclude wanting to be somewhere else in the future.

At least, I hope it doesn't. Because all this stressing out over things I can't control is for the birds.
missroserose: (Partnership)
Coming home from Tucson late Saturday, Brian looked at me and asked, "Have we really gone from having one guitar that we never play to having seven, most of which we play regularly? Within a year?"

Strangely enough, we have. Admittedly, a couple we don't play much - Mary Jane's a little too big for me to play comfortably, and Kalia's much nicer-sounding anyway; and Brian traded for a 12-string Ovation because he wanted to try playing 12-string, but didn't end up liking the feel of that particular one. But the 12-string Eastwood we got him for his birthday he plays regularly, along with (of course) his Les Paul. And in addition to Kalia, with some help from the wonderful people in my life, I managed to scrounge up the cash for that GS Mini I was eyeing. So I don't have to feel guilty for taking up 2/3rds of the overhead bin when we go visit Brian's mum in April.

Tucson was a fun day - we went to the Festival of Books for the first time. (I'd meant to go last year but hadn't managed it; I nearly didn't go this year but at the last minute checked the list of guest authors and realized Patrick Rothfuss was going to be there. Given that he's one of my favorite authors, and that I've a full set of first printing hardcover copies of all his books so far, this meant we were definitely going.) Somewhat entertainingly, the weather was cold and drizzly all day; the poor booksellers were spreading tarps over their wares and the guest authors got none of Tucson's much-vaunted lovely winter weather. Still, though, it was a fun trip - Mr. Rothfuss was a thoroughly entertaining individual, both in person and as a panelist. And he was most gracious about signing all four of my hardbacks plus a paperback I bought from the booth hosting the signing (as it only seemed gracious to support their shop).

After wandering around there and attending a rather interesting panel on gender roles in fantasy, we went down to Rainbow Guitars in the hopes that they'd have the guitar I wanted - a Taylor GS Mini, the only travel guitar out of the many I tried that didn't sound like a travel guitar at all aside from perhaps being a little weeny on the bass. I got their last one, in fact; apparently they normally keep a few in stock as they're quite popular, but it had been a busy Saturday. The popularity, at least, is understandable; this particular guitar's a really nice balance of features, being compact and lightweight and inexpensive (for a Taylor) while still very good quality and with nearly a full guitar's worth of sound. Plus it comes in a very nice thick-padded soft-shell case with backpack straps. The guy at Rainbow, in recognition of the fact that we'd been in there a number of times, even gave us 10% off the price, which made it slightly less than it would have been online with no tax. Score one for developing relationships with one's local retailers.

Then we went to Feast, with the intention of eating for (nearly) free on the remainder of a gift card a lovely friend had bought us. Instead we ended up paying for dinner and using the gift card for a bottle of amazing Scotch they introduced us to. It ate up the rest of our restaurant budget for the month, but still. Totally worth it.
missroserose: (Partnership)
This morning I got a spam mail. Hardly unusual, of course, but the subject line made me giggle-snort into my coffee: "HERE BEST DRUGS!"

So...did that particular company hire Drunk Hulk to write their subject lines? I have to give them points for succinctness, at least.

On the other end of the literacy spectrum, my experiment in trying to write a bit of fiction each day has been off to a rocky start. I don't know if it's my self-sabotage instinct or what, but my inspiration/excitement about the idea (what little of it I had to begin with) seems to have dried right up. Maybe I should do some outlining, or work on a couple of sort (or short-short) stories. Or maybe now's just not the time to be forcing myself to do something I'm obviously not into. (The problem, of course, being that if now's not the time, when is the time?)

In music-literacy news, I've been toying with some original arrangements of songs that I like on the guitar. I'm quite proud of a couple of them, in fact; if they're not quite performance-ready yet, they're fun to practice, as I feel like I've contributed something to their creation. I keep saying I plan to record myself, but I appear to be as deathly afraid of video as I am of writing. Still, given that I picked each of the songs in part due to its significance to one of the pretty girls I've met recently (both of whom live, sadly, far away), perhaps I can motivate myself a bit by imagining how pleased they'll be. (Hopefully.) The biggest bright spot - my singing is improving markedly, and I'm feeling far less self-conscious about it. Amazing what regular practice will do.

In more show-offy literacy news, I also recently finished reading Cyrano de Bergerac. I'd...not been avoiding it, exactly, but I'd gotten the impression from the plot description that it was a silly tragic romance, so it hadn't been high on my priority list. But then I read this interview with one of my favorite authors, who quoted Cyrano as an inspiration for one of my favorite characters, and I decided to give it a read. I'm quite glad I did, too, even if (in the end) it was a silly tragic romance:

In more than a few ways, I feel like I'm a little too old to be reading this for the first time. The play's emotional hook, unsurprisingly, is rooted in admiration for the title character; and while I certainly admire his integrity, I just can't bring myself to subscribe to his fundamental value system. Call me cynical and unromantic, but I see little value in fighting a battle with no hope of winning, or robbing myself and my love of potential happiness simply to preserve her (false!) image of my dead friend. Had I read this when I was a decade younger, as it seems most of my friends did, I might swoon a little at his romantic devotion; as it is, I can only really smile sadly and shake my head at his antics.

All of that said, I still very much enjoyed the read. Cyrano's much-celebrated clever wordplay is truly worthy of its accolades, and his discourses on love are enough even to warm my twisted blackened heart. And even a pragmatist like me can't argue with the effectiveness of the major scenes in tugging one's heartstrings - I could absolutely see, in the hands of a skilled cast, crying my eyes out over this play. But ultimately I think the strongest feeling it inspires in me is relief - that I've grown enough to have a more rounded view of love, and the many forms it takes, and the silliness of hiding it when there's happiness within one's grasp. A-
missroserose: (Life = Creation)
Is it weird that I find myself wanting to write a blog post about a day where nothing much happened?

Normally I would have been working yesterday, but things have been so slow at the gallery lately (thanks, most likely, to the weird-ass weather - seriously, we woke up to another couple inches of snow on the ground this morning. Pretty, but not exactly a big draw for the tourists) that C decided to just have me in on Thursday this week. So, upon finding out that Brian was going to be driving out to do some work on a tower just over the border in New Mexico, I asked if I could come along.

I was in a very strange headspace all that day. I'd been dreaming all night about being in airports - not going anywhere, exactly (I only remember actually getting on a plane once), but just sort of wandering through them with my guitar, sometimes playing, sometimes just watching people. And that in-limbo feeling seemed to carry over into the day; I spent much of it sort of half-there, half-zoned-out. But hey, if you're going to be zoned out, there are worse things to stare at than the landscape around the Arizona/Mexico/New Mexico border. We even drove up into the Chiricahua Mountains by Portal, intending to go over them and get back to Bisbee through Willcox and Benson, but the pass ended up being closed (probably due to ice and/or snow - see above re: weird weather). Still, we got to see how things are coming back after the Horseshoe Two fire a year and a half ago, which was reassuring. The sky island forests are so unusual for Arizona climate and weather, and so beautiful.

And really...that was it. We came home, I had a nap, I finished the book I was reading and wrote up a review for it on GoodReads, I played my guitar a bit. Not a very interesting or accomplished day, but an oddly pleasant one nonetheless.

I don't think I've mentioned it more than tangentially here, but I've been keeping a sort of unofficial list of daily goals in a spreadsheet on Google Docs. Things like doing yoga, exercising in some manner that raises my heart rate, practicing guitar, stuff like that. There's no real reward associated with doing well at them over a particular day/week/month (other than a nice line of Os in the associated line or column), but it's a nice way to keep track of how I've been doing on the whole.

I'm thinking about adding a goal for writing in there, too. I've been encouraged by the success of my approach to guitar - one of the ideas that really encouraged me was that getting good at something didn't require hours and hours of time on a given day so much as consistency in giving it a little bit of time, every day (or nearly so). I've given guitar, on average, fifteen minutes a day over the past eight or nine months, and while I'm certainly not as good as I would be if I'd practiced an hour on each of those days, I've made pretty significant progress. So maybe I should try something similar for writing. Given the amount of improvement between my NNWM 2010 and 2011 output, despite almost no practice between the two (and even if the latter is still nothing resembling publishable), it seems likely that daily practice would have a pretty good effect.

I found a sticker recently, that I had initially intended to send to a friend, but it sort of made its way onto my guitar case last night - I'm not sure exactly why; it just felt right there. It certainly feels apropos, given recent events in my music career:



So I think I'm going to sign off here and place my feet somewhere useful. Like on my yoga mat in extended-side-angle pose. Or on the floor, sorting out laundry. Or in the kitchen to make a pie.

And maybe I'll write something today, too.
missroserose: (Pimpin' Mayhem)
It's not unusual for it to snow in Bisbee; we're high enough in elevation that, come winter, it regularly gets below freezing at night. Sooner or later during the year, we'll get some precipitation on a cold night, and wake up to an inch or two of snow on the ground. Everyone gets pictures and makes snowmen before it melts later that day. No big deal.

It's somewhat less common to wake up to an entire foot of snow on the ground.

But this New Year's Eve, we were graced with a lovely blanket of snow. And while some of it melted during the day, there was enough of it to stick around for a few days. Even now, a week and a half later, there's patches of it on the hillsides. It's actually pretty entertaining - you can really see which parts of Bisbee get lots of sun during the day, and which stay in shade.

Unfortunately, being desert dwellers, our immune systems are not used to this kind of weather. Lo and behold, everyone in Bisbee has a case of the sniffles. It's one of those extra-nasty lingering bugs, too, that sticks around long after it should be gone. I've had it for a week now, and while I seem to be over the worst of it, the recovery is see-sawing around a lot more than I'd like. (Yesterday, despite a scratchy throat, I went out and ran errands and was generally productive. Today just walking to work was enough to give me that light-headed "you're overexerting yourself" feeling. But I still put in a good full day's worth of work. Eat that, cold virus.)

Nonetheless, New Year's was wonderful - [personal profile] cyrano came to visit, and brought the lovely [personal profile] lucia with him. We had a lovely dinner, and although our walking-about-town plans afterward were curtailed somewhat by the temperature and snow, we instead snuggled on the couch and watched Moulin Rouge. (I can report with near-100% certainty that, in addition to being beautiful, intelligent, and lovely to talk to, [personal profile] lucia is also deliciously soft and gives the sweetest snuggles.) I was sad to wave goodbye to them the next day, but life does get in the way of vacation. Alas.

My most recently completed project is replenishing my underwear drawer, which has been in a rather sad state for some time now. In the process, I discovered that I'm now a 34D - I guess that's the upside of having gained a fair amount of weight? I'm a little amused, though; if you told my barely-A-cup 18-year-old self that someday I'd be a D cup, I would've laughed myself sick. It certainly explained why none of my old bras seemed to fit, even aside from them being kind of raggedy and worn. Several trips to Victoria's Secret, a botched online order, a couple of returns, and a rather embarrassing amount of money later, I now have seven bras (five padded, two unpadded, in all sorts of pretty colors) and assorted matching undies, all brand-new, all extremely well-fitting, and several quite fancy. (I made the mistake of letting the salesgirl talk me into trying on one of their $50 bras as well as a $30 one...I figured it'd be nicer, but not $20 nicer. I was wrong.) I feel even more pleased than I expected about this. Wearing a poorly-fitting bra is hardly a life-ruining experience, but it is a constant low-level irritation. You get acclimated to it and eventually don't notice it anymore, but boy, you sure notice when it's gone.

Still waiting on a response from Berklee College of Music, although that's hardly surprising - they don't mail them out until the latter half of this month. I did get an email from their financial aid department, asking me to fill out the FAFSA so that, if I was accepted, they could determine what sort of awards I was eligible for. According to the government, I'm likely eligible for a $9,500 subsidized loan, which may be something to consider if they offer me a partial scholarship. It's inexpensive money (3.7% interest, which the government pays while I'm in school and for six months afterward), but on the other hand, that's between thirty and forty thousand dollars I would owe by the time I got my degree. That's a difficult financial hit to take. *And* it's less than a third of tuition alone. Sigh. I'd have to sell a lot of CDs to make that up.

In the meantime, though, I have Kalia back! I sent her back to Takamine for warranty service because the action on her lower frets was rather high, and the local guitar guy thought the neck was slightly skewed. They decided the neck was fine and she just needed a set-up and re-stringing, then sent her back. (Well, at least I got a new set of strings for my $44 in postage. Grr.) She's still a gorgeous guitar, though, and it's wonderful to have her back (...three months later), so I'm not holding any grudges. Mostly.

Speaking of which, I believe it's time I continued our getting reacquainted. If you'll pardon me...
missroserose: (Partnership)
I love Kalia's sound and I've been enjoying playing her, but I'd noticed that the action was unusually high on the lower frets (in lay terms - the strings were farther away from the frets than normal, making it rather difficult to play). This hasn't been a serious issue for me personally, as I'm hardly skilled enough to be regularly shredding away on that part of the neck, but it's been on my "get it looked at" list for a while, so today I took her in to the local music shop for a neck adjustment.

Much to my dismay, the adjustment was only able to reduce the problem slightly - and the tech showed me a couple of places where the neck was measurably uneven. He said he could probably get it closer to playable if he replaced the bridge, but since I'd just bought the guitar (for $1300, I might add) he recommended checking out their warranty service to see if they'd cover replacing the neck.

So I went to Takamine's website to see about calling them up for warranty work. And apparently I can't even call them directly (especially odd - they had numbers up for their UK and French divisions but none for the US or Canada); I have to find an "authorized repair center" and call them, and they have to call Takamine and get an RMA and all that. Although I am, of course, still on the hook for shipping the guitar back to Takamine.

The best part? There are three "authorized repair centers" in Arizona. The good news is that two of them are in Tucson. The bad news is that they both appear to be individual dudes working out of their homes on a "by appointment" basis. Not exactly confidence-instilling.

And I sit here and look at the fact that Emerald City Guitars has dropped the price on that used Gibson Songwriter Studio I was eyeing, and I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have held out a little longer...
missroserose: (Partnership)
I love Kalia's sound and I've been enjoying playing her, but I'd noticed that the action was unusually high on the lower frets (in lay terms - the strings were farther away from the frets than normal, making it rather difficult to play). This hasn't been a serious issue for me personally, as I'm hardly skilled enough to be regularly shredding away on that part of the neck, but it's been on my "get it looked at" list for a while, so today I took her in to the local music shop for a neck adjustment.

Much to my dismay, the adjustment was only able to reduce the problem slightly - and the tech showed me a couple of places where the neck was measurably uneven. He said he could probably get it closer to playable if he replaced the bridge, but since I'd just bought the guitar (for $1300, I might add) he recommended checking out their warranty service to see if they'd cover replacing the neck.

So I went to Takamine's website to see about calling them up for warranty work. And apparently I can't even call them directly (especially odd - they had numbers up for their UK and French divisions but none for the US or Canada); I have to find an "authorized repair center" and call them, and they have to call Takamine and get an RMA and all that. Although I am, of course, still on the hook for shipping the guitar back to Takamine.

The best part? There are three "authorized repair centers" in Arizona. The good news is that two of them are in Tucson. The bad news is that they both appear to be individual dudes working out of their homes on a "by appointment" basis. Not exactly confidence-instilling.

And I sit here and look at the fact that Emerald City Guitars has dropped the price on that used Gibson Songwriter Studio I was eyeing, and I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have held out a little longer...

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