Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week 2: BirthdayPartyTagSale

So Week 2 of The Artist's Way is about recovering your identity and figuring out how to define your own interests and boundaries. How synchronistic then, that this week we should decide that this big, expensive Victorian house is not for us, and a small 2 bedroom (+ office!) flat in a neighboring town suits us much better. And how crazy that we have 10 days to purge and pack and move. Whew!

So as I was exploring memories of things I love to do and maybe have forgotten through the written tasks in the Artist's Way, I was also cleaning closets and finding physical evidence of those things. Beading, knitting, fabric and sewing patterns, rubber stamps and a ton of other crafts. Camping equipment that hasn't been used in years. Clothes appropriate for nowhere I'll ever go. Games I don't play. CDs I don't listen to. Some of it reminds me that I'm neglecting my interests, so I'll save those things and try to bring them back into use. (I love cooking over a campfire.) And some of it shows how my interests have changed, so those things will go. (In the unlikely chance that I suddenly have an urgent need to put puffy paint on my clothes, I know where I can get some more.)

My birthday came this week, which was also a classic opportunity to look back and think about who I've been over all these years. And it gave me another chance to do a couple other things on my list of "Things I like to do:" Have Guests Over, and Bake For Crowds. Thus was conceived the BrthdayPartyTagSale. I made a huge batch of sticky buns and a big pot of coffee and all our friends and neighbors came to hang out and sift through all the things we didn't want anymore. At the end of the day, we had a sugar crash, $116 more dollars and a lot less stuff. I think I also had a little better sense of who I am. The move comes in Week 3 and I'll probably have to get rid of a lot more stuff once I see how my identity as a "small house person" doesn't really mesh with my identity as "Renaissance woman with 75 different interests." Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I survived Week 1, a hero's quest.

Worked my way through most of the tasks in Week 1 of The Artist's Way and was feeling pretty good by Friday. I felt strong from all the affirmations and because I had identified the enemies of my creativity and sleighed them in my mind. Then, I heard a couple of pieces of rejection. (I won't share them with you. I'm not that strong.)

Uhg! It felt like two steps backwards. Like all that confidence I had built up was just to make me strong enough to stand being shot down again. Boo! So the next day I had planned to attend the Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge Main Event,  a single elimination songwriting contest. I'm not too big on contests, as I've written before. I had actually played this Monday open mic probably at least 2 years ago, maybe 3, and had never been close enough to Boston make it to the semi-annual big contest with a $500 prize. Plus the whole "I'm not doing any more contests" thing. But I did want a chance to hear and meet 21 other Boston area songwriters at once and so I had put my name on the list.

But after Friday's bummers I wasn't sure that I was ready to be rejected again. I didn't think winning was the only reason to go. I just didn't want to get out in the first round. Even though I know half of the people, really great artists, were going to be eliminated in the first round. But I decided to go anyway. I set out on a quest to survive the attacks on my ego that would surely come. Got stuck in a huge traffic jam, took 5.5. hours to get the 120 miles to Boston and was 1.5 hours late for the load-in. You can bet I was chanting to myself "Just don't get out in the first round. Please, God, the power of the universe, whatever I'm calling you today, don't let me get out in the first round!"

I was chatting backstage with some of the other writers and we were having a good time getting to know each other and discussing strategy for the contest. I had been thinking all day what to play first, but had to make a pretty quick decision because my name was drawn to sing 3rd. This also meant that I wouldn't know what the other person in my bracket was going to do. So I decided to go straight to the "big guns" song. The one that I was sure could beat anything else. If I wasted it and had nothing left for later rounds, I would be sad. But I was focused on not getting out in the first round. Can you guess what my big guns song was? I think it's kind of hilarious, but I was under a lot of stress. My Miner. That sad simple thing is what I played and I made it through. Mission accomplished.

I kept making it through round after round and then I got kind of zen about it. Every time I knew exactly which song to play and I started to look ahead and feel sure I could beat everyone I was matched against. I was in the single-elimination-song-contest zone. By the time I was in the final four, I knew I was going to win. It was as clear as day.

It was getting really late, though. 1:45AM or so by the time the final round started. At this point there was a little bit more than just having a good time and not being humiliated on my mind. There was the "I'm gonna get home at 5AM and I'd really like to be $500 richer when I do" feeling added on. But whatever, it's only sleep, right?

So the other guy and his wife played first. It was kind of a political song I think (1:45AM, remember). So I figured I'd play my kind of political lifestyle song and belt it out and totally take it home. I did Grow Your Own. Maybe kinda croaky, but I gave it my all and I walked off the stage, humbly thanking the hard-core audience members and eliminated songwriters who had been drinking now for 6 hours. I gave my competitors a hug, just like the Miss America contestants do, and waited for the judges to announce that I was the winner. I was so totally sure that I won. So calm. So ready to use part of that $500 to spring for a hotel so I didn't have to drive home.

And then they ruled. 2 votes for him and 1 for me. And it was over and it was 2:05AM and I had nothing. But the best part is, I didn't care. I really didn't. I liked what I did better. And not in like a nasty "He didn't deserve to win, I'm so much better than him. Those judges don't know anything" kind of a way. Not like that at all. He was good. He was amazing in some ways. I just really felt that I did my best and for that night my best was good enough for me. And I don't wish I could play or write like him, even if he has contest-winning songs. I got applause and lots of positive feedback and I had a great time being on stage. And that is what I want when I play music, not prizes and titles. And I guess I somehow learned that in Week 1. And I think I have a jump on Week 2: Recovering Your Sense of Identity.

If you want to check out the guy who went all the way to the winner's circle, he's Tony Memmel. Super nice and deserving all the good that comes to him.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back in the blog.

What is up with my lack of blogging? I guess that 5 days in a row marathon output really took it out of me for a while. I haven't been doing much on Twitter or Facebook either, guess I'm just having a private couple of months. It's sometimes nice to get away from the chatter. And to keep from adding to it.

I've been doing what? Thinking, reading, gardening, pickling, writing songs, making lists, sewing patches. Went to the beach. Went to the South. Found a place to live part-time in Nashville so I can go to the South a lot more often. Went to the Barney's Warehouse Sale and braved the elbowing and shoving and trying things on in the aisles to get these perfect jeans for only $19.75 that I love and can NOT take off. Like seriously, I've worn them 5 days in a row now.

I started reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's an absolute classic, always-recommended major work of the self-help cannon, so I can't believe I haven't ever read it. A lot of the concepts are in other books I have read, and I have been doing a kind of morning pages things for a while, but I can already see after a couple of days, that it's going to make a huge difference in my life. I'm discovering things about myself and working through them. See, it got me blogging after a two month absence! It's working already.

Pickle attempt #1