So how’s your head? Are you reeling? Clutching your gut? Mopping your brow? Barfing over the rail? I admit that over the past week it’s taken a small jug of Chianti, a box of Cheez-Its, a couple of Klonopins, and a whole lot of my Woodstock & Big Sur Mood station on Pandora to make it through. I’m a strong woman, but sometimes I get pushed to my outermost limits, and the past week was about as bad as I’ve ever survived—with the exception, of course, of suddenly becoming an 18 year-old widow with a two week-old infant. That was as bad as it’s ever gotten, but there have been so many chaotic episodes in my life, it’s hard to judge.
I’m not going to go into why this week has been so rough. You know why, and I’ve chosen not to spend my Sunday focusing on it. I’m not even going to name it. I need one day each week to hold a private moratorium on the chaos, and this is it. Today I’m cleaning the house so that I can spend next week recording. I’m getting a massage. And I’m listening to my aforesaid station. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.
Living with an advocate for women of sexual assault and domestic abuse, I’ve learned a lot about self-care and how important it is. No one can stay on the front lines indefinitely. We need to be spelled once in a while in order to regroup before heading back out into the fray. Liken it, if you will, to an emergency landing on a jet. We’re instructed to put our masks on first before tending to others. The reason for this should be obvious. In the same way, when fighting any major chaos in life, it’s important to tend to one’s own immediate well being before trying to help others. And that means self-care. Go out for a walk, enjoy the normalness going on around you, the cars still drive by, shop windows are still full of things to look at, and the sun still feels warm when it’s on your face. Stop in somewhere for a coffee, a tea, a beer, a chocolate. Smile at others and enjoy their smiles in return. Then go back to the internet and the marches. You’ll find you’re stronger and calmer, and better able to lend your hand where it’s needed. One or two hours away from the chaos isn’t going to send the world plummeting into the abyss, and the self-care you’ve enjoyed will only make you stronger.
Have a beautiful Sunday and a centered week ahead.
In a meditation on my birthday back in September, I got down to business and told myself/the universe/God/whatever that I wanted a definite, unmistakable sign about which of my two creative expressions—either my books or my album—I’m supposed to concentrate on in 2017. I would be happy working on either one, I stressed, but I needed to know which path I was supposed to take because I didn’t want to waste precious time pouring myself into something that would bear no fruit.
The larger part of me didn’t really expect anything to happen. I’ve been let down my entire life in my ongoing search to have faith in the validity of faith. Beloved childhood mythological entities like Santa Claus had let me down, revered religious figures had let me down, and in more recent years The Secret and all that weebie-wobie, pink cloud, white light crap had let me down. All the same, in this extremely proactive, confrontational meditation I promised I would accept help from anyone or anything and give credit where it’s due once the project was completed and bearing that fruit. I wasn’t easy. I demanded an irrefutable sign of some kind. I wouldn’t settle for something flimsy and I wouldn’t read non-existent, pie-in-the-sky, self-serving meaning into otherwise mundane events. My greatest purpose was not to lie to myself.
Actually, until last week I’d forgotten about that meditation and, believe it or not, signs came. Tangible, irrefutable synchronicities that reminded me of my leap of non-faith faith. From out of the blue, unsolicited help has come in from different places where my album is concerned while there has been nothing whatsoever about my books, but when the single, incontestable sign came last night, I knew I’d received an answer.
“Sci-fi has never really been my bag, but
I do believe in a lot of weird things these
days, such as synchronicity. Quantum
physics suggests it’s possible, so why not?”
Actually, it all started when I checked into my ReverbNation account one night just before Christmas. I hadn’t been in there for a few months and at that time I had just 12 fans, all who mostly were musician friends. Man, was I taken aback when I logged in and saw that I had nearly 1000 fans and a number of comments from strangers praising my songs! So I tidied up my profile page, added the two videos that I posted here, and “fanned” back some people. At the time I thought it might be a sign, but it was too flimsy, too serendipitous, and too easily explained as a consequence of the passage of time and of simply having a page there at all. I was encouraged, but I let it pass.
Then, one night last week as I sat up late writing, I received a text from a man whose musicianship I’ve admired for a number of years. Jim Rolfe is the quintessential musicians’ musician. Not only does he write amazing music and can play any instrument he lends his hands to, he’s well-respected around the country, having performed both onstage and in the studio with many other musicians for the past 50 years. He’s seasoned, professional, dedicated, and just a darned nice human being. When he texted me asking for the guitar and vocal tracks of Judge and Jury, I was stunned. You might remember that in 2015 Jim offered to help with this album but, due to my aversion to using people, I never followed up with him. (Wild Bil McCombe first offered to help, which I accepted for one song, but no others. I may have to rethink his offer and invite him in on another song or two.) Jim said he had some ideas and would like to add them to the mix. Now, normally I wouldn’t send anyone the naked tracks of my demos, but this was Jim Rolfe so I sent them without reservation. I’m not an idiot. I still didn’t think this was enough of a sign to justify closing my book’s manuscript and pull out my music, though, but I knew that if it were a sign another would come along to support and substantiate it. I’ve always believed in the saying,
“Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence,
thrice is confirmation.”
The confirmation came last night when he sent me the first mix and I was gobsmacked by what he’d added. Bass, drums, guitar, mandolin—I’m not sure what all is in there, but I loved what I heard. We communicated back and forth about it and, feeling the need to test this supposed threefold sign, I pushed a little harder. Terrified I might overwhelm him (i.e. scare him away) with demands and assumptions (which I’ve never done with anyone before where my music is concerned for fear of coming on too strong), I, in my fashion, jokingly asked if he might want to work on some other songs, perhaps even mix and produce the entire album? Heh-heh, just kidding… I even went so far as to explain that I can’t afford to pay him, really, but I’d give him full credits and a cut of the sales. Heh-heh… I never expected the answer that came back. I mean, he’s a busy man. Not only does he perform, record and tour, he also teaches guitar and has a life! He replied with, “Let me know what you are thinking as far as another song, etc.” I then audaciously suggested I send him my demos as I complete them and he sent me a thumbs up followed by a smiley face.
So there we are! I’m amped! As of Tuesday I’ll begin not only recording demos of the songs I already have, I’ll be writing new songs. I’ll get back to my books when this project is completed. I still don’t know what I have faith in, but whatever it is, I’m a believer!
Around Bookends Cottage 2017 has started out with naught but a yawn. Not a yawn of boredom, mind you, but a yawn of exhaustion. I keep looking over at the Christmas tree, the lights off and the gifts all gone, and I know I have to take it down, but I just can’t seem to find the energy to do it. It’s always such a joy to put up every year, the entire family gets into the act, friends come over, food is nibbled and drinks are drunk, but where is everybody when it’s time to take it all down and put it away? I always end up doing it alone, which is why I didn’t want to go all out this year, with decorations in every room of the house. It’s too much for me to take apart when I’m worn out from the holiday season. We have about a gazillion tree ornaments and all those new strands of lights we had to add and that need to be pulled off. And then there’s all of the outdoor lights, wreaths, ladder-climbing and et cetera. Oof. I’m tired just thinking about it…
I’ve been trying to get back into my project of finishing Book Two (With A Bullet) and sending it off to print. In reality, this should take me only about two weeks, but all of my creative motivation has disappeared. Music, too is on my list, but that’s really pushing it. At my age, singing is an athletic event and I have to be in peak condition to do it well enough for a recording. And then there’s the setting up and tearing down…
I’m well aware of the fact that it’s going to take the entire month of January to get back to where I was, engery-wise, last October. Damn you, Hashimoto’s, you soul-sucking bastard. One of the things I can do now that I’m on Medicare is make an appointment with an endocrinologist, but going to a new doctor is always difficult for me. Because we live in a cherry red state, and because the only endo in this town who takes Medicare is a born-again who touts her religious beliefs on her website, and because I’m married to a woman, I’m more than a little hesitant to go see her. I’m absolutely worn out from dodging the bigotry bullets in the Bible Belt. Oklahoma is just southern enough that these doctors are sugary sweet to your face, calling you darlin’ and hon, and saying “Well, blay-ess yer hart” with a big smile on their face while unsuccessfully hiding the aversion they feel toward you. Sure, I get the same medical attention as anyone else, but navigating all that crap is psychologically and psychically harder than I can describe. I’ve lived in this state for nearly 20 years. You’d think I’d be used to the way their eyes glaze over when I have to explain that my spouse isn’t a man. And it happens in all situations here, from introductions at social events to buying an anniversary present from a helpful shop clerk. And since the election the socio-political ice has gotten a bit thinner around here anyway. I’m not sure if I want to get out and try to walk on it just yet. Not with the 20th looming on the near horizon…
On a completely different subject, I came into 2017 wanting to give this blog a new look, but after spending an entire night looking for a new theme, I gave that up. WordPress has a gazillion themes to choose from, but only a handful of those are designed for actual blogging. Most of them are for businesses, services and products, and photography. And even those they say are for blogging are dominated by featured slides, huge pictures of emo girls sitting or standing forlornly with pigeon toed feet, extreme closeups of glamour dolls or of twenty-something hipster dudes looking for all the world like they love their commute to their cubicle every morning. And there’s no place to write any actual content anymore. I suppose the blogging craze is over and I should really just give it up, but after 17 years that’s not easy to do. Hell, I don’t even know if anyone even reads these entries. Maybe I’m just wasting the two or three hours it takes me to put one together and post it. But that’s another whole issue…
Nettl returned from her New Year’s New York City excursion bearing some amazing gifts. One was a large tin of authentic Hungarian paprika that she bought at a shop in Grand Central Terminal. To celebrate this delectable spice I made a pot of Viennese Goulasch last night, and I’ve made a pledge never to buy the domestic crap ever again. There’s just no comparison. It’s kind of like refusing to use margarine after tasting sweet cream, unsalted butter. I don’t care if it costs more. If I can’t afford it, I simply won’t make anything that requires it…
Back to Book Two. One of the reasons I never seem to finish this book is that things keep coming up that need to be added to the story. Sitting on it for so long as brought up a lot of things that need to be addressed where my characters are concerned. Katy is only now beginning to flesh herself out so that I can understand what truly motivates her. I don’t know how I have avoided her inner workings for so long, but she’s coming along and I enjoy writing about her now. This is really important, too, because it leads me into Book Three more seamlessly and effortlessly. Being these people’s creator, shrink, and biographer isn’t easy, but it eventually is fun…
And with that (pun intended) I shall leave you until the next time. This Christmas tree has been giving me the stink eye for three days and I really need to quite literally put it in its place.