missroserose: (Warrior III)
Growing up in the Second Golden Era of Disney, I spent most of my elementary school years wishing I were a mermaid. Well, now I have been - albeit briefly, with the help of a trapeze. Sadly, I have no pictures of myself. I sort of wish I did, if only because then I could have some idea how my form looked - the alignment felt all right, but there weren't any mirrors to see.

I'm rather glad I went to Aloft's taster class now, as opposed to when I was first looking into it (holy crap, has it really been almost a year?). Core strength is a big big part of aerials, and if I'd tried it in the shape I was in last winter I probably would've gotten discouraged quickly. As it is, after a couple of months of CorePower, I was able to do the fundaments without any trouble. In fact, it was a fun process of discovery - I can hang from the trapeze and kick my feet all the way up over my head! Who knew? Still, though, I've got a long way to go, in both strength and technique-building. I'd been noticing in the mirror how I've actually got some muscle on my limbs now, and was feeling pretty smug about that, but after seeing the the women who were teaching us, I was feeling distinctly like the "before" drawing in a Charles Atlas ad. Note to self: never get into a wrestling match with an aerialist.

I want very much to go back, and their next round of courses starts on the 8th, but I'm not sure now's the time - we've just had a couple good-sized unexpected expenses. I could try the place that's closer by sometime over the next eight weeks, although their $22 first-time-registration fee plus more-expensive classes is a bit of a turn-off. But it might be worth it not to have to spend an hour on the bus each way, especially if I like the instructors. Hrmm.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
I'm pleased to report that last week's growing depression-and-self-pity miasma has dissipated. Things had lifted noticeably by Friday, though I had a bit of a vulnerability hangover to deal with; and over the weekend I felt much much better. I suspect just getting all that off my chest was a relief in and of itself, even if I still didn't have any particular ideas for a solution. (The fact that the weather went from dark and cloudy and chilly to sunny and breezy and beautiful probably didn't hurt, either.)

Also of help were my friends. I was surprised, in fact, at how many of you responded, far more than I had expected - I guess the whole "I'm afraid of failure but even more afraid of success" conundrum is more common than I realized. Big thanks to Ken, Maggie, Raven, and Robs (and my mum, although her input was via phone). You all invested significant time in helping me think it all over and pointing out things I hadn't considered, and it was extremely useful to have your perspectives. You are awesome and I love each and every one of you. <3

While I still don't have a whole lot of ideas in the way of solutions, I'm coming to realize that perhaps I don't need to find a way to solve this problem right here and now. While it's true that people tend to remain faithful to their fundamental personalities, they do grow and change and (perhaps most importantly) learn to overcome and/or compensate for their neuroses; and that's not even accounting for how their circumstances change too. It's perfectly possible that, rather than this particular failure meaning that I'm never going to achieve anything in this arena, it just means it's not the right route for me now. Maybe that'll change in the future, maybe not, but there's no reason to despair of ever making progress as an independent artist. So for now, I'm going to work on just continuing my daily practice/writing goals, even if I don't always achieve them, and even if they don't seem ambitious enough to actually accomplish anything. The fact is, 15 minutes of practice and 500 words a day is infinitely better than nothing. I'm just going to work hard on letting go of that expectation that I Devote X Hours A Day Or I'm Not A Serious Artist, and just keep the practice up and work more when I'm inspired. And if I manage to convince myself that it's okay to take on that coffeeshop gig, or submit that short story somewhere, well, so much the better.

In the meantime, today's been a good day for accomplishments, especially of all the stuff I'd been putting off last week. I got laundry done, and (after watching a dust bunny or two blow by like the tumbleweeds in Arizona) did a bunch of sweeping and general house cleaning, too. I picked up the dry cleaning and mailed a package. And I penetrated interstate bureaucracy deeply enough to figure out how to get my fingerprints taken and processed so that I can help with the same survey-administration job in the Detroit school district, which was no small feat.

So as a reward, I went purse-shopping. My small black Fossil purse is still in great shape, but I've lately discovered that being a transit-based urbanite makes having a larger handbag useful, since otherwise you end up carrying a second tote bag for your headphones/books/miscellaneous purchases/etc. And, much to my surprise, I managed to find something {a} non-hideous and {b} decently well-made that {c} fit my fairly narrow size/design requirements (bigger but not so big as to be unwieldy to carry, some sort of closure at the top since it rains here regularly) and {d} cost half of my self-imposed $100 budget. So I am pretty throughly pleased about that.
missroserose: (Masquerade)
{I've started writing this blog post about a hundred and eighty-six times already. Every time I quit because it was becoming too rambly and unfocused, or too personal, or (more honestly) too uncomfortable. But I feel it needs to be said - if I'm going to crow about my successes, I need to account for my failures, too. So be warned: the following is the result of some intensely personal soul-searching, and may be rather emotionally raw, and probably a bit disorganized, to boot. Those of you who know me well probably won't mind, and those who don't know me at all probably won't care. But if we're still in that awkward midway getting-to-know-you phase where we've met, maybe even see each other regularly, but aren't yet at the "comfortable silences" stage of the friendship, you might want to skip this post. Or you might not - I won't think less of you either way.}



I honestly don't know if I'm cut out for an artistic career.

It's odd, the feelings that come up just from typing that statement. Frustration, anger, hurt, disappointment, relief. Especially relief; it feels as if I've been perpetrating a fraud for so long, lying to people about who and what I am. Just putting that statement out there is a weight off, akin to the climactic moment in the after-school special when the twelve-year-old boy admits that his father isn't a CIA agent, or a movie star, or a Tarzan-like jungle dweller, and is in fact simply a deadbeat who ran out on his family.

But there's also a sense of betrayal, as well. I've always been artistic, always done creative things. I've always had people, impressed with my talents, tell me they expected great things from me. And, as I've gotten older, I've noticed the truth (and the rarity in artistic circles) of something my mother used to comment on a lot - that I have a good head on my shoulders, that I instinctively understand finances and the economics of running a business. Plus I'm good at reading people, at networking and making connections, at maintaining genuine friendships past the necessity of 'contacts'. And I have a darling husband who doesn't mind working full-time to support me. With that kind of setup, and given what other people have done with much much less, what right have I to fail at this?

The part that people don't see, that I don't want to admit to but have been lately forced to confront, is this: I don't have the drive. It might be a quirk of my personality, or it might be a result of that suspiciously-long list of positive factors (the classic "talented kid never learns to work hard to achieve long-term success" narrative), but whatever the cause, it's become increasingly obvious. In every single one of my artistic pursuits, I've followed the same pattern: pick it up, amaze everyone with how quickly I learned it, do it hyper-intensively for a while, then - when faced with the next step, be it learning more advanced forms of the art, or buckling down and setting goals to turn it into something long-term viable and profitable - freeze up, drop it, and dash off to do something else. My childhood was littered with abandoned projects - cross-stitch, beadwork, sewing, drawing, painting, writing. My Google Docs and Yarny accounts both are equally littered with half-formed ideas and unfinished manuscripts.

I know that this is not an unusual pattern for an artist. Show me a successful writer/sculptor/painter, and I'll show you a trail of rejected manuscripts/broken pieces/ruined canvases. Failure is how we get better. And art especially is a difficult career choice, because it's a literal labyrinth - the process of creation is never a straight line from point A to point B. The only difference between a successful artist and an unsuccessful artist is that the latter gave up and the former didn't. It takes as long as it takes. Et cetera, et cetera. Believe me, I understand all that.

The problem is...well. It ties into what I said earlier, about not having the drive. See, the reason for the aforementioned pattern, about picking things up and learning them just enough to impress everyone before abandoning them, it's partly tied into the talented-kid narrative. There's also social recognition - something that tends to be in short supply at in the early stages of an artistic career. But really, what it comes down to, is drive versus fear.

And I have so very, very much fear about my creativity. I don't want people to expect things from me. I don't want there to be deadlines and disappointments. It's not the concept of hard work that bothers me, exactly. It's the inevitable consistency of it, the idea that I might end up hating this activity that I love so passionately now. So instead I want to perpetually be the prodigy who drops in and amazes everyone with their talent. The one whose quiet confidence and amazing abilities upset the social balance and turn everyone's world upside-down before they die or quietly disappear again, to be remembered forever by the whole community. (You know the story, you've seen it in a hundred movies - Mary Poppins, Phenomenon, ET, arguably even Contact.)

The issues with that model in the real world, of course, being self-evident. (It's probably no surprise, I realize upon writing this, that one of my favorite movies is in part about the problems with this exact narrative.) Eventually you run out of audiences, and have to plant your roots somewhere - and familiarity breedeth, if not always contempt, then certainly expectation, which leads to disappointment, and I'm back to square one.

As an attempt to overcome this fear, for a little more than six months now, I've been practicing claiming that title - telling people that I am a writer/singer/musician/artist. (And to their credit, when they follow it up with "Oh, cool! Anything I might have heard of?", and I admit that I have not, as yet, published anything, none of them have responded condescendingly, as I sort of expected.) And yet, after my usual initial burst of enthusiasm, I've steadfastly refused to take even the smallest steps towards doing anything that might make that a viable long-term pursuit.* I poked a bit at Amazon's self-publishing platform, and then never went back. I took some shots of signs around town advertising for local musicians/open mic nights, and then never contacted anyone, or even tried to draw up a set list. I (finally, weeks after meeting people and long after they'd likely all forgotten me) emailed BoHo Theatre's volunteer coordinator with a resume and an offer of services, and then didn't press any further when I didn't get a response. It feels like any time I overcome my fears enough to get any traction at all, something happens that costs me a bit of momentum, I freeze up, and suddenly I'm farther back than when I started.

In truth? It's gotten so bad that for nearly four weeks now I haven't written a word and have barely picked up my guitar. My internal monologue seems to go something like this: If I don't continue, well, I'm a failure, and that sucks, but I'll live with it - there are plenty of normal jobs out there that would be fulfilling and worthwhile. But if I keep playing at being an artist, keep claiming that as my identity, but refuse to actually Go Out And Do Anything with it? With all the advantages I have? Then I'm a traitor to Truth and Beauty and Art. And that's worse.

I don't know what the answer is here. I don't want to stop creating - I get moody and miserable and depressed and full of self-hatred when I do that. But apparently I have this internal timeline of How Being An Artist Goes. So if I start creating regularly, it's great for a while - until I miss a step on that timeline, and then I'm falling behind, and I get discouraged, and I stop trying, and then I feel like a failure, and it all snowballs until I can't bear to even think about trying again. And then I'm moody and miserable anyway. Is this what people mean about 'having an artistic temperament'? Because let me tell you, it stinks.

So this brings me back to the initial statement. I honestly don't know if I'm cut out for an artistic career. And maybe it's just time to come to terms with that, and find myself a worthwhile Normal Job, so that my whole sense of identity isn't based on creativity. And then maybe I can just enjoy making whatever art I manage for its own sake.



*I had originally written "a viable career path" here, and followed it up with a couple paragraphs here about the lack of monetary recompense involved in an artistic career, and how in our culture that equates to a lack of identity as well - which is a very real problem! But as I wrote I realized that it wasn't the problem I was dealing with - I would have no problem identifying myself as an artist if I managed to make art regularly, whether or not I ever got paid for it. Unfortunately, I seem incapable of hitting even that low bar.
missroserose: (Masquerade)
Chicago move, day...38? Ish? Man, time goes by quick. Especially when you lose a week to illness.

The settling-in continues apace, albeit with a certain frenetic urgency thanks to the impending arrival of guests. I finally have the bones of my reading nook set up - there's a little alcove off the living room that's been earmarked for it but filled with boxes until now. (At least they were mostly boxes of books?) But it's got a chair, a lamp, and a nice tall half-full bookcase in it now. Just in time for me to decide I'm taking up piano and move everything out of it to make it my keyboard nook. (Not sure if this will actually happen. But I've been thinking I should learn piano for a while, and it seems the likeliest spot. Though once we get the boxes cleared out of the living room and the couch pushed over a bit, there may be space by the Juliet balcony too.) Today will likely be unpacking more book boxes, and probably hauling the empty ones down to the storage space. Soon I'll need to put up a Craigslist ad for someone to come and take them away.

I've finally gotten all our IKEA purchases put together, and on the whole, I've been fairly pleased with them - they've been very well-engineered, with easy-to-follow directions and all the holes lining up and parts fitting correctly (unlike some other flat-pack furniture sellers I could name). The only exception, somewhat ironically, has been those HEMNES bookcases I angsted about buying. Somewhat to my surprise, the grey-brown color actually looks far less blah in person - it has sort of a purpley tone to it, and we've been decorating with an eye for purple accents. (The one in our bedroom looks especially nice, as our new bed set is a similar tone of purple, just darker.) Unfortunately, they've just not been as well-constructed as the other pieces we bought - I built two of them, so I'm fairly sure it's not just a fluke. One had significant issues with the screw locks on the fixed middle shelf not lining up properly; both had an issue with the second backing piece being slightly too large for the space you slot it into. Neither was an end-of-the-world problem (though I splintered one of the anchor holes trying to fix the screw lock thing on the first one - nothing heavy on that shelf!), but compared to how absolutely stellar all the other IKEA furniture we bought was, it was a surprising couple of oversights. Ah well. Maybe I'll email them about it and see if they'll send me another coupon. (I received a $25-off-your-$250-or-more-purchase coupon in the mail, which was awesome...literally three hours after returning from spending over $700 with them, which was not. And of course the fine print specifically forbade applying it to previous purchases. Ah well.)

Meantime, I'm looking around at things to occupy my time once the house is unpacked and set up. From the 13th through the 19th, we're having guests, but after that I'm going to have rather a lot of spare time. After hearing a friend talk about it with enthusiasm, I'm thinking I might try learning aerials - silks, trapeze, high-wire, that kind of thing. It seems like the sort of thing that would slot well with someone used to yoga and gymnastics rather than running or lifting, and I've always enjoyed the theatricality of it. I was a little concerned that the fact that I'm no longer in my twenties might be an issue, but according to the Aloft Loft, most of their students are in their thirties and many of their professional performers didn't start taking lessons until that age. (I wonder if it generally takes people that long to get over their fear of heights.) While it would be neat if I could learn it well enough to perform, even just the conditioning/balance/postural aspects all sound beneficial. And it's definitely not something I could have done in Arizona or Alaska. (Of course, their "taster classes" this month land smack in the middle of guest-time. Bah. I guess there's no reason I couldn't just dive right in and take a trapeze class, though...)

I'm also thinking about seeing if I can volunteer at the Old Town School of Folk Music; they have a program in place where you can earn credits to use towards concerts or classes. Most of the volunteer opportunities are things like ushering or concession-selling at concerts, but it says they occasionally need help with data entry and the like; maybe I can talk my way into an office-type gig with an eye towards eventually getting a paid position. We'll see.

The weather's been just lovely - crisp and cool, with a nice balance of windy/rainy and sunny days. There's even still some leaves on the trees; I'm hoping they'll last another week so my mother can see them when she visits. I must say, I could get used to this whole idea of autumn as an actual season, rather than "that two-week stretch between the leaves turning colors and the snow falling" like it is in Alaska...
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)
"Actually, I'm leaving town at the end of the month," I said, raising my voice slightly to be heard over a truly mediocre attempt at "Hotel California".

Like most drunks, he didn't take the hint, instead applying his chemically-induced vivacity to this new twist in the conversation. "Oh wow! That's so cool! Where are you headed?"

For all his obnoxiousness, the enthusiasm seemed genuine, and I found myself warming toward him by a degree or two. "Chicago. I'm hoping to find a few more musical opportunities there."

Somewhat to my surprise, this didn't provoke another outpouring of well-lubricated joy. "Wow," he said instead, leaning back against the bar a little and blinking as the information penetrated the fog surrounding his brain. "You going to sing?"

"And play the guitar. I hope so." I took another sip of my suspicious vodka and cranberry, braving the off-tasting juice for the chance to hide exactly how much I was hoping so. How few backup plans, when it came down to it, I really had.

"Wow," he said once again, nodding. Then, with the unshakable and oddly convincing faith reserved for the fool, the young child, and the drunkard: "It'll happen for you." His nodding grew slow, almost portentous. "It'll happen for you. How could it not?"
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Getting here turned out to be...interesting. Literally just as we were leaving Tucson (the flight attendants had done the safety check and we were about to taxi to the runway) a huge thunderstorm came and squatted right over Chicago; after an hour with no change they de-boarded everyone and had us all wait at the gate. Fortunately, as we had no connections to make and nowhere to be until 2:00 the next day, it wasn't a super-stressful thing; my biggest worry was getting in super-late and forcing our Airbnb host to wait up for us. (She did end up having to, as between flight delay, baggage claim, and the mile-long line for cabs we didn't even make it here until nearly 2 AM, but she was very gracious about it.) It wasn't so awful; one of our friends was also delayed heading to San Francisco in the same batch of gates, so we got to have a drink and he gushed about how much we were going to love Chicago. As the delay stretched on, I ended up doing an impromptu concert of sorts for several of the wriggly/tired/grouchy/impatient toddlers and their families; it got me many a grateful glance from the parents. Hurrah for having a travel guitar and knowing lots of old hippie music.

Yesterday was the walking-all-over-town-to-showings day, although we actually only got to two; I ended up canceling the one with the dude who was trying to sell his condo, and another guy texted me to let me know that he'd rented out his place (but since it was the one we were most iffy about, we weren't too fuzzed). We ended up looking at a place in Edgewater that was good-if-not-great; it had a nice kitchen and was on a nice street in a nice neighborhood, but it didn't quite have that "oh wow this is perfect" feeling. (Though we discovered a fabulous local coffee place just around the corner from it - Brian liked their logo so much he bought one of their travel mugs.) I gave the guy our paperwork just in case (he and his partner were nice dudes, and we certainly wouldn't have minded renting from them!), and then we headed to the long-awaited Andersonville condo.

It isn't quite perfect - the decor is very early-aughts yuppie, with white walls and stainless appliances and not a whole lot of personality. (A colored accent wall or two would help a lot, I think.) Also the side windows in the bedrooms have literally no view - brick wall, ahoy! Still, the kitchen is amazing as advertised, and while the front room's a touch on the small side (I'm going to have to see about shipping our wonderful oak and granite table back to Mum, as there's quite literally no room for it), the master bedroom is huge for a condo, and has a lovely large back deck off of it. The view from the front, while nothing amazing, is pleasant enough, and it's on a lovely tree-lined street all of a block and a half from Clark Street (Andersonville's main commercial thoroughfare - we already found a pub there with the most amazing food and a craft beer list about three miles long).

We put it an application pretty much immediately. The guy told us he had a few others in as well, but when I pulled out our credit reports, two separate letters of reference, and Brian's job offer, he looked a little overwhelmed. When he asked me what I did and I gave him an impromptu rendition of the first bit of "All That Jazz", he looked a lot overwhelmed. I was a little worried I might have overdone it; he struck me very much as a twenty-years-older version of the guys I used to intimidate the hell out of in high school. But I guess it worked, since after a slightly nail-biting wait I got a text from him that he and his wife had decided to rent to us! (I suspect he might have left the song-and-dance bit out of the story when he told it to his wife. Or maybe not, who knows.)

I'm very pleased; as I said, the place isn't quite "want to live here forever" perfect, but it's a good rent price for the area and has a fireplace and a tandem parking spot (hurrah! We can offer our friends parking when they come over!) and that fantastic kitchen. So I think it'll do quite well for a few years until we either move again or decide to stay in Chicago and buy a condo of our own. And in the meantime, we have the rest of our trip free to explore and enjoy without worrying about apartment-hunting! Hurrah!
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: (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: (Masquerade)
The pharmacist said klonopin, lamictil, lithium, Xanax
The doctor said an antipsychotic might help me forget what the trauma said
The trauma said don’t write this poem
Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones

My bones said “Tyler Clementi dove into the Hudson River convinced he was entirely alone.”
My bones said “write the poem.”



Thank you, Andrea Gibson, for loaning me your poem tonight.
missroserose: (Partnership)
Just a quick "thank you" for all the supportive comments. I'm feeling a lot better than I did this morning. (For the non-Facebookers/bad guessers, I got a letter from Berklee saying I hadn't been accepted. I didn't even get to the point where scholarships/financing/loans were an issue.)

I don't know what it is, exactly, but this failure feels a lot less end-of-the-world than the few similar ones I've had in the past did. Maybe it's that the whole thing was a spur-of-the-moment decision to begin with. Or the way I've managed to improve noticeably even since my audition, so I'm more hopeful about the future. Or just the fact that I'm getting older and have more life experience. (Also, as Julie pointed out when I stopped at Blissbee with the news, "You were going up against kids who've been playing piano since they were 8, been to music camp every year, and been performing in recitals most of their life." It did sort of put things in perspective.)

The rejection letter did include an invitation to apply next year (of course it did - that's another $150 for them!). I'm not sure yet if I will - a lot will depend on where we end up over the next year. If we're in Boston, I might just, especially if I can get a good chunk of lessons and performing experience and get more comfortable with myself and my voice in the interim. But if we end up landing on the West Coast, I'm sure there are good music schools there, too. And probably cheaper as well.

I don't feel like it was wasted effort. It was a good experience, and it did highlight some significant areas I need to work on. Plus it motivated me to get up off my butt and take lessons (weekly) and practice (some, not as much as I should have). And...I admit I feel a little liberated, now. I tried, I failed. It's not the end of the world. I can get better. And in the meantime, at least I did something.

And that's actually kind of a nice feeling.
missroserose: (House Impression)
To follow up on the earlier post (sorry, LJ-only friends, all two of you...I tend to keep to Facebook for more day-to-day things that I don't feel like writing multiple paragraphs on), my audition went all right. Not disastrous, but also not earth-shatteringly great - or at least, it didn't feel earth-shatteringly great; it's kind of hard to tell when your "audience" consists of a single person typing furiously on a laptop who won't even look at you. (I understand the reason they do things that way; you don't want to skew the results by offering different body language to different applicants, or judging unconsciously based on looks rather than musical aptitude. But it's sort of hard to make an emotional connection with an audience that won't acknowledge that you exist.) In all fairness, the accompanist was a cool dude, and while my prepared piece ended up going more along the lines of "feeling our way through it" than anything polished (it was written for piano, he was on guitar, so), it was interesting to try something different. (He also had me sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", so I at least got to do something slightly show-offy and more polished feeling.) The improv section actually went really well; I didn't feel it was particularly brilliant, but it was definitely better than my usual hesitant attempts. I give credit for that partially to the accompanist (who was very good at making you feel at ease) and partially to the fact that I'd already kind of decided at that point that I wasn't earth-shattering, so it sort of took the pressure off. Ear training and rhythm were also both good-but-not-great. The interview section felt like it went pretty well, even though I keep thinking of things I wish I'd said in retrospect. Still, on the whole, I'd give myself a B-.

The problem being, of course, that I know my own judgment is about the least reliable gauge out there (short of people who weren't there to see it, and possibly not even that). Performers can't see their own performances the way others do; even if we see a recording we're usually just cringing at what we should have done differently instead of enjoying what we did well. So we have to rely on audience reaction to tell us how we did; that's why it's so gratifying when (say) you turn your attention-getting swan dive off a bar table into a roaring round of applause from a formerly-disinterested audience by totally nailing the song in the middle. Without any real audience, it's hard to judge, so maybe all my friends who weren't there but are telling me "Oh, I'm sure you did wonderfully" are actually right. I won't know until I hear back from Berklee come January.

All that said, I'm not sorry I did it. I just don't expect it was the earth-shatteringly amazing audition that I'd need to get the full scholarship I was hoping for.

The trip to LA was enjoyable enough, though, even with the ten hours of driving each way; I finally broke down and subscribed to Audible, so we had the audiobook of the newest Harry Dresden novel to keep us company. We wandered along Hollywood Boulevard like you do when you're a tourist. We found an excellent pho place and an even more excellent brand-new coffee bar (if you're in the neighborhood, try Javista on Sunset - amazingly tasty baked goods, great coffee and tea, super-friendly people). We went to Sam Ash and I found a smaller-size Martin guitar that felt wonderful in my hands; it was also one of their less-expensive models, so I might save up for it as a travel instrument. And when I went to the gigantic DSW to replace my worn-through tennis shoes, I got a gorgeous pair of brown leather boots with buckles - vaguely steampunky, vaguely motorcycle, vaguely Western - off the clearance rack as an "I did something hard today" prize. (I love boots but it's been ages since I had a pair I could wear for day-to-day things; stilettos don't really lend themselves to "running around doing errands". These have a sensible heel and are very comfortable but manage to be flattering as well, which is all I could ask for.)

When we got back, I immediately threw myself into getting ready for our Christmas party, which last year was a huge deal with probably around thirty people showing up throughout the evening. I knew this year would likely be a little smaller (especially as we were out of town for the mid-month weekend we had it on before and had to have it three days before Christmas, an iffy time for a lot of folks what with family obligations and all), but I still was expecting a good twenty folks or so. Unfortunately, I had a number of last-minute cancellations and no-shows, so it ended up being more like eleven. Not a bad group, but far from the house-full-of-cheerful-people it was last year. I don't mean to make out like it was a failure - everyone seemed to have a good time, and we used up a good half the eggnog supply, regardless - but after the expectation set by last year it was hard not to feel like I'd failed somehow. "This is it? But...but...the entire house is supposed to be full! Where is everybody?"

So...yeah. December's two big events so far have both ended up feeling a little anticlimactic. It's still got...*checks watch*...a little over a week if it wants to impress me, but I can't say as I'm really expecting a whole lot from it at this point.

In all honesty? I feel like a huge grumpypants complaining about all of this. "My audition went well, but wasn't spectacular enough to convince Berklee I'm a prodigy who deserves a free ride." "My party was fun and everyone had a good time, but it wasn't the spectacular display of my popularity that I was hoping for." You'd think I could just be grateful neither was a disaster. Instead I find myself wanting to curl up in front of Moulin Rouge and drink absinthe and feel sorry for myself.

Maybe I'll get a copy of "The Great Gatsby" to read instead. That seems appropriate, somehow...
missroserose: (Show Your Magic)
Most of what has been written about me is one big blur, but I do remember being described in one simple word that I agree with. It was in a piece that tore me apart for my personal behavior, but the writer said that when the music began and I started to sing, I was “honest.” That says it as I feel it. Whatever else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I sing, I believe. I’m honest. If you want to get an audience with you, there’s only one way. You have to reach out to them with total honesty and humility. This isn’t a grandstand play on my part; I’ve discovered—and you can see it in other entertainers—when they don’t reach out to the audience, nothing happens. You can be the most artistically perfect performer in the world, but an audience is like a broad—if you’re indifferent, endsville.

Frank Sinatra, Playboy, February 1963
missroserose: (Warrior III)
I posted on Twitter last night about how much I love the acronym "FFS". It works on multiple levels - both in what it stands for, and as an onomatopoetic rendition of the sound you're likely making at the time. Fffssss.

This entry has, in some ways, also been a personification of that acronym. I must've started it three or four times over the past week, but was never able to get much farther than a sentence or two before giving up in frustration. Apparently I write far more easily from the perspective of "I've made a decision and this is it" than from "I have choices to make and I'm not sure which way to go". I'm sure you all are shocked.

I don't really look it, especially with the colorful hair, but I'm nearly thirty now. (Quote from a new friend in Boston I was giving advice to, which may become one of my favorite things anyone's said to me ever: "When I first saw you, I thought you were maybe twenty-two. But now that I've talked to you, I'm wondering if you're closer to fifty." Hee. Stealth wise-woman.) While being a twentysomething has been a fun bit of self-exploration, if there's a defining emotion for my experience with it, it's probably fear. Not paralyzing all-consuming fear, necessarily, but perfectly prudent types of fear - fear of getting lost, of doing the wrong thing, of people assuming incorrect things about me, of running out of money. And, perhaps most importantly, of failing at things I really want to do. And that last has induced some pretty paralyzing fears: Singing. Theatre. Writing. Learning guitar. Performing. Going to a proper performing school, as opposed to just a state college. Living in a city. To paraphrase a comment I made in an earlier post, the way I knew I really wanted to do all these things was how completely terrifying I found them.

What's changed? Honestly...I'm not certain I can answer that question. I can describe the effects: I went to Boston, visited an old friend and made several new ones, explored a little on my own, and had acres more confidence than I ever have before when in a new place, let alone when in a new place alone. (Admittedly, a certain amount of that was probably owing to Boston's public transit and Google Maps - hard to get lost when you just need to find the nearest tube station, and Maps has the most amazing integration with public transit systems. Tell it where you want to go, and it tells you which bus to take, when it leaves, what station to get off at, where to walk. No futzing with schedules or figuring out routes. Brilliant.) I've started playing guitar (only to find that I have a surprising knack for it - the girl I take lessons from said I was one of the fastest studies she's taught, at least when it comes to fingerpicking). And I've been looking into music schools. All of this is still scary, but I'm less afraid of failure than I was, which means the fear is thrilling rather than paralytic. Maybe I've just finally convinced myself that if I do fail, it won't be the end of the world - people will still care about me, I'll still be talented and capable and competent, and I'll be able to say that I've tried. Because honestly, it's kind of depressing being nearly thirty and not having much that I feel justifiably proud of even having tried to do.

On that note, I've decided I'm going to apply at Berklee College of Music, inconvenient geographical location and $150 application fee both be damned. Boston and I kind of hit it off, and I love the idea of a music school that focuses on jazz and modern styles rather than the traditional classical curriculum. Assuming they give me an audition (my credentials are not that great on paper), I'm pretty certain I can get in; the real question, though, is whether I'll be good enough for a full-tuition scholarship. ($50,000 a year in tuition. Fffssss. I don't care how prestigious your school is, that is not a price mere mortals can pay, and I'm sure as hell not taking it out in loans against a career as an artist.) They have seven Presidential (full tuition + housing) scholarships for incoming students each year, out of more than 4,000 applicants yearly. Better odds than winning the lottery, anyway, and it's at least theoretically merit-based. Judging by the video of their previous Presidential scholars, I think I've at least got a shot in voice. Maybe not so much on guitar, but I can keep taking lessons on the side.

Naturally, this all comes with its own set of complications. Brian is...not exactly thrilled at the idea of moving to Boston, as he's never been there and has few-to-no professional connections in the area. (For a few days it was particularly stressful, as he was interviewing for the position in Gresham, and I'm not sure how we might have worked moving to Oregon and then to Boston within a year or so. He didn't get the job, though, which is probably better in the long-term and definitely better for our pocketbook.) I'm hoping he'll come with me when I go for an audition and enjoy it as much as I did. If he doesn't, and on the off chance I do get that scholarship...well, that'll be an interesting day. But I'm willing to wait to cross that bridge until I come to it.

Anyway. This weekend's project - getting a video together to go with my application. Won't be much point in all this agonizing if they don't even give me an audition...
missroserose: (Warrior III)
I posted on Twitter last night about how much I love the acronym "FFS". It works on multiple levels - both in what it stands for, and as an onomatopoetic rendition of the sound you're likely making at the time. Fffssss.

This entry has, in some ways, also been a personification of that acronym. I must've started it three or four times over the past week, but was never able to get much farther than a sentence or two before giving up in frustration. Apparently I write far more easily from the perspective of "I've made a decision and this is it" than from "I have choices to make and I'm not sure which way to go". I'm sure you all are shocked.

I don't really look it, especially with the colorful hair, but I'm nearly thirty now. (Quote from a new friend in Boston I was giving advice to, which may become one of my favorite things anyone's said to me ever: "When I first saw you, I thought you were maybe twenty-two. But now that I've talked to you, I'm wondering if you're closer to fifty." Hee. Stealth wise-woman.) While being a twentysomething has been a fun bit of self-exploration, if there's a defining emotion for my experience with it, it's probably fear. Not paralyzing all-consuming fear, necessarily, but perfectly prudent types of fear - fear of getting lost, of doing the wrong thing, of people assuming incorrect things about me, of running out of money. And, perhaps most importantly, of failing at things I really want to do. And that last has induced some pretty paralyzing fears: Singing. Theatre. Writing. Learning guitar. Performing. Going to a proper performing school, as opposed to just a state college. Living in a city. To paraphrase a comment I made in an earlier post, the way I knew I really wanted to do all these things was how completely terrifying I found them.

What's changed? Honestly...I'm not certain I can answer that question. I can describe the effects: I went to Boston, visited an old friend and made several new ones, explored a little on my own, and had acres more confidence than I ever have before when in a new place, let alone when in a new place alone. (Admittedly, a certain amount of that was probably owing to Boston's public transit and Google Maps - hard to get lost when you just need to find the nearest tube station, and Maps has the most amazing integration with public transit systems. Tell it where you want to go, and it tells you which bus to take, when it leaves, what station to get off at, where to walk. No futzing with schedules or figuring out routes. Brilliant.) I've started playing guitar (only to find that I have a surprising knack for it - the girl I take lessons from said I was one of the fastest studies she's taught, at least when it comes to fingerpicking). And I've been looking into music schools. All of this is still scary, but I'm less afraid of failure than I was, which means the fear is thrilling rather than paralytic. Maybe I've just finally convinced myself that if I do fail, it won't be the end of the world - people will still care about me, I'll still be talented and capable and competent, and I'll be able to say that I've tried. Because honestly, it's kind of depressing being nearly thirty and not having much that I feel justifiably proud of even having tried to do.

On that note, I've decided I'm going to apply at Berklee College of Music, inconvenient geographical location and $150 application fee both be damned. Boston and I kind of hit it off, and I love the idea of a music school that focuses on jazz and modern styles rather than the traditional classical curriculum. Assuming they give me an audition (my credentials are not that great on paper), I'm pretty certain I can get in; the real question, though, is whether I'll be good enough for a full-tuition scholarship. ($50,000 a year in tuition. Fffssss. I don't care how prestigious your school is, that is not a price mere mortals can pay, and I'm sure as hell not taking it out in loans against a career as an artist.) They have seven Presidential (full tuition + housing) scholarships for incoming students each year, out of more than 4,000 applicants yearly. Better odds than winning the lottery, anyway, and it's at least theoretically merit-based. Judging by the video of their previous Presidential scholars, I think I've at least got a shot in voice. Maybe not so much on guitar, but I can keep taking lessons on the side.

Naturally, this all comes with its own set of complications. Brian is...not exactly thrilled at the idea of moving to Boston, as he's never been there and has few-to-no professional connections in the area. (For a few days it was particularly stressful, as he was interviewing for the position in Gresham, and I'm not sure how we might have worked moving to Oregon and then to Boston within a year or so. He didn't get the job, though, which is probably better in the long-term and definitely better for our pocketbook.) I'm hoping he'll come with me when I go for an audition and enjoy it as much as I did. If he doesn't, and on the off chance I do get that scholarship...well, that'll be an interesting day. But I'm willing to wait to cross that bridge until I come to it.

Anyway. This weekend's project - getting a video together to go with my application. Won't be much point in all this agonizing if they don't even give me an audition...
missroserose: (Show Your Magic)
1.) Pick a song that everyone recognizes and can sing along to. (This seemed to be a fairly country/blues themed bar, so I did "Black Velvet".)

2.) Adopt a posture appropriate to the mood of the song. (I figured I'd hop up on the edge of one of the taller tables, cross my legs, and croon it out.)

3.) When the table starts to tip over, shoot out a leg to catch yourself, have the heel of your boot catch on the footrest, and do a remarkably graceful swan dive onto the floor, banging up your knee pretty good in the process. (Um...yeah.)

4.) Recover just in time to start the song, and, now that everyone's eyes are on you, adopt a sultry strut that takes you around the bar while you sing to everyone who might otherwise be thinking about laughing. And by the time you're done...no one will be thinking of the opening.

Seriously. I couldn't have planned that better if I'd tried. If I'd watched someone else do it, I would've thought it was intentional.

(Also awesome: Doing "You Oughta Know" and completely hypnotizing the audience with it - to the point where the drunks in the corner are yelling "FUCK YEAH!" at the end.)

Maybe I should go out singing when I'm not feeling all here more often...

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