Thursday, May 7, 2009

Coming clean, so to speak.

Well, it is now well more than a month since I last posted. True, I was on tour for two weeks (which, p.s., was brilliant!), but still, that's a long time to go when you're really trying to be good about keeping up with a blog. I stand by my decisions, though. After all, if you read the little section to the right, I clearly and honestly stated that I don't like blogging, and here I will add the caveat: "even when I have something to blog about."

I am the first to admit that I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this task. It's great in theory, but in practice, it's really quite difficult. With music stuff, contract jobs that come in, and other day-to-day things, keeping up a schedule of routine, daily cleaning is almost an impossibility. Well, if I were Superman, I'm sure I could make it all work, but alas, the Man of Steel I am not.


Am I giving up? No. Am I amending the blog? Yes.

I'll clean regularly but not beat up on myself for not being perfect, and I'll blog when I feel like it. How 'bout them apples?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Martha Wept.

Well, Martha would weep if she walked up in here.

OK, it's not that bad, but I have been very lax in my attempts to keep up with the housework, the blog, and any number of other things. Not that I'm making excuses for myself, people, but I have been busy.

Much of my time has been taken up with house guests, as well as the sad-song writing contest I organized and hosted, the Amanda Cup. It was a ton of fun, and the work was all worth it. If you missed it, worry not. We'll be having another such event in about six months, and then the 2nd annual Amanda Cup will take place next March. Fun to follow, folks!

I've also been sick, but I'm feeling better, thankyouverymuch.

This post will be very short, as there is a house to clean, and practice to do (seeing as Julia and I head out on tour next week!).

So, here endeth the post.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Forgive me Martha, for I have sinned.

Another week down, and what a week it was, folks.

I can't give you a list of what cleaning got finished, except to say that things were definitely cleaned, but nothing special managed to get handled. I was simply holding down the fort. You see, what I've noticed about the cleaning calendar is (if you want to do it perfectly, that is) you have to devote yourself to it with matrimonial zeal, otherwise, it simply will not work. It demands that you have nothing else to do.

A middle road is being sought and built. I'll maintain everything, and do the every now and again things as often and as soon as possible. With that in mind, I will not be beating myself up if the metal door knobs don't get polished.

The music conference was...well...I don't know how to put it. I suppose it's good enough to say that it was "eye-opening" if nothing else. Other adjectives, such as exhausting and brutal could also be used (and I was only there for one day; my poor friends who were there for four days really had a run through the wringer). As I was not showcasing at the conference, the chance of booking a show at any of the schools present and scouting talent was slim to none, so I was there to meet people and test the waters. There was a lot to do, and the possibility that nothing would come of it.

However, remembering my days working in career services at a law school, I knew that networking is the only way to really get work of any kind, so I schmoozed as much as I possibly could, met some really nice folks, and connected with people at schools that might be a good fit for what I do.

The next day, I spent time at home cleaning and thinking about where my music career is, and where I want it to go. More than that, I thought about what I was willing to do, how I was willing to rearrange my life, in order to make music the central theme of my working days. Where am I willing to play? What gigs am I willing to take on? How much control would I be willing to let a manager have? Would I be capable of taking honest advice and direction in order to advance, all while refusing to back down on my personal and artistic beliefs? What does success mean? What am I completely unwilling to do? What, exactly, is this "selling out" artists talk about, and how will I know if I'm there?

These were the contents of my head as dust was brought up, dishes were washed, food was cooked, emails were sent, etc., etc., etc. As per usual, there are no immediate answers, but I'm figuring things out. I will be going to another one of the conferences next year, after I've had some time to rearrange and get my marketing materials where I need them to be. Like watching my brother tell my mom "no" when I was little and seeing what the consequences of such actions were, this recent conference was a lesson, and I plan to learn it well.

Of course these are all things that I have come to after several days of thought. The day immediately following the conference, having seen so many people wanting to get booked, so much energy going into the business of entertainment, it was easy to be down and frustrated...

And that's when the Muse dropped by. She always likes to pick these moments.

You see, other than this blog (which is still very new), I don't keep a journal. My songs are my only time to process my thoughts and emotions into words. So, this time, the muse whispered to me, and I wrote a short, deeply depressing little ditty called "Smiles at a Trade Show." We'll see if it's good enough for the next CD, but as far as I was concerned at that moment, it was like hitting the jackpot.

Thank you, Muse. It was good to see you again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's not that I haven't been cleaning, people.

Really, I have been...

Marco and I had company from Thursday through Sunday, and there's another set of company coming in tomorrow and staying through Sunday. We enjoyed our weekend, and are looking forward to our other friends coming it, too! With so many goings-on, I certainly have been cleaning the house (what with people coming and going), but I just haven't had the time to write about it all yet.

So, I will be skipping the cleaning details. Suffice it to say that I have not managed to get to many of the "spring" items, but have only been able to keep up with the daily and weekly regular tasks.

During all this time, my mind has been whirling. You see, the next group of visitors to arrive are The Ukulady and her crew; together, we'll all be headed to a collegiate booking convention, with the hopes of getting some shows lined up together or separately (although I'm hoping for something together, which would ROCK!). I know it will be a ton of fun, but this is the first such conference I have ever attended, so I'm not quite sure what to expect. Of course, I'll know soon enough; Thursday will be here before I realize it!

With the conference coming up, as well as a show that I'm emceeing at the end of the month, and the tour next month (with my friend Julia Carroll), the last few days, between visiting with friends and scrubbing, my music life has been mostly filled with designing fliers and sending emails. Not much time for playing. Of course, as Barbara pointed out in her latest comment, it's important to create the space and time every day for creativity, even if nothing comes of it. Well, kids, I'm working on it. Send me some good energy.

Speaking of, the other night, the Muse didn't bring me anything new, but we did have a nice time getting reacquainted.

Alas, I need to get a move on. I adore you all; however, the laundry won't fold itself, nor will the kitchen clean itself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A list completed.

If it seems odd to read "vacuum mattress, box spring, and bed frame" on a to do list, I assure you it feels even more odd to actually accomplish the task. I imagine I am now on a very short list of people on the planet who have gone through with it. I feel pretty good about it; that could also have something to do with the fact that I managed to finish everything on my to-do list today (the bedroom was on tap, and I managed to get everything dusted, all the bedding washed and changed, pillows and comforter fluffed, the aforementioned bed-vacuuming and turning of the mattress, and the floor swept, vacuumed and dry mopped). And it's only 8:00 p.m. Go me.

I've been thinking about the muse today; it's been a while since I've been in her presence. True, my mind has been awfully crowded and cluttered lately, and that certainly doesn't help. As with the rest of the world, I'm concerned about the financial situation, conflicts erupting and stewing across the globe, day-to-day goings-on, what's for dinner, and a million other things that flutter and flit around my head like so many gnats. The muse is happy to talk about those things with me, but she demands that I give her complete attention when she comes around; I have to be willing to drop everything and follow her. Unfortunately, I've been too distracted lately. Maybe this is why she's staying away.

So, I'm going to sign off here, ignore any other housework that needs doing, and pick up my guitar. I really do need to practice for an upcoming studio session, but who knows, maybe just being in the moment, and allowing myself to follow the notes wherever they lead will entice the muse to come around.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nothing stays dust-free.

I remember once talking to a friend of my mom's; she told me that she started making her children wash their own laundry when they turned 12 or 13. Maybe it was 8. Either way, it was when they were young. But that's not the point.

She did this because she called laundry the "most thankless task" ever invented. She didn't want to do it, and it was bad enough she had to do her own, let alone everyone else's. So, the moment they were old enough to handle the task without wrecking things, they started taking their own wash to the modern river, washboard in hand.

This is how I feel about dusting. It is a thankless task, and I'd really rather not do it. True, no matter how much you clean, you will always end up, sooner than you may think possible, back doing the exact same thing again. But dusting is different; the moment you finish, new dust has already settled. The dice are stacked against you.

So tonight, while attacking the living room, contemplating the dust and the ever-grosser dusting cloth, I thought of practicing scales back when I took guitar lessons twenty-something years ago. My, how time flies. Of course, the scales didn't fly with me. Ah no, I left those behind in my guitar teacher's basement room. Scales were thankless tasks, and they bored me.

Has this affected my songwriting? Most likely. See, the musical structure is important to me, but I really feel like lyrics are where the action is. I take great pride in them in my song crafting. Had I practiced my guitar more often and with more intensity, I would likely play I great deal better than I do now, but would my lyrics have suffered? Who knows. Maybe.

I'll take things the way they are. My fingers still don't want to play those damned scales. Or dust that end table ever again.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cleaning shelves and thinking of how calm Barry Manilow looks...

Ah, the cyclical nature of house cleaning; I was back in the kitchen today. Rather, I was back in the kitchen this evening. Nothing really started until 8:00. It's been a long day.

What got accomplished:

*Surfaces cleaned, cupboard doors washed, and the inside shelves of all the above-the-counter cupboards
*Sinks, counter tops, and rage cleaned
*Microwave cleaned, toaster cleaned
*Light fixtures dusted (yes, Emily, I actually did them)
*Inside and outside of trashcan wiped down

The rest is going to have to wait until tomorrow or later this week. I'm just too tired.

You see, I was in the studio today. The computer determined that it was ready to come back out and play, and I snuggled up to the microphone to lay down the harmony tracks that I was 89% sure of.

How quickly I fell from 89% back to 50%. It just didn't work, people. Take after take, I either wasn't able to hit the first note dead on, or I would mess up somewhere else in the verse. Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover it. I didn't make it home in a very upbeat mood. Though you might not believe it, the act of recording is exhausting. It requires a lot of concentration, but also demands that you be completely relaxed if you are going to get anything worthwhile accomplished.

Were you to ask my boyfriend if I am capable of relaxing. he would laugh in your face, as would nearly anyone who knows me well. I mean, come on, I've started a cleaning blog. Someone who could relax would have chosen to write about something, anything else. Not me. No ma'am.

So, an inability to relax added to a natural tendency to be nervous when recording harmony vocals = no success at said harmony tracks. That's right folks, nothing I sang got saved. Why? Because it was God-awful.

I needed inspiration. And said inspiration came to me in the form of Barry Manilow (say what you will; Mr. Manilow is brilliant, and I won't hear a word against him). Marco, my boyfriend, was at Sam Flax buying art supplies today and came across a brilliant sketch book made from the album jacket from Barry Manilow's This One's For You. On the inside cover of the book (which would have been the back cover of the album jacket) there's a picture of Barry sitting in a bar stool, cup in his hand, one leg crossed over the other, eyes closed, listening to whatever was going on in the headphones. And. He. Looked. Relaxed. Really relaxed. It was what I needed to have been, and everything that I was not, today.

So the next time I saddle up to that mic, I'm going to keep Barry Manilow in my head, close my eyes, and remember that I'm lucky enough to be making music. And then I'm going to sing the mess right out of those tracks.