Monday, August 31, 2009

The world is ANYTHING but a cigarette.

It appears that I'm going to have to start putting strict limitations on my computer use frequency--its effect is all too similar to amphetamines, I'm finding. Last night, I didn't even lay down to go to sleep until 7 am, and at that point, my brain was so spazzy from playing Victorian characters on an interactive chat room with my friend Jessieca that I was restless and wide awake until I finally just got back up around noon-ish. That sounds real nerdy I'm sure, but it's not my fault--Roger made me go to the website the other night, and he's the nerd, not me! I just figure if you're going to chat online--which I have been heavily reliant upon on this trip--then you might as well be a fat guy in a fancy suit holding two clocks, or a bird man, or Josephine Baker, instead of boring old being-yourself chat.

So I arose at noon, but only because my birth certificate arrived in the mail today and I needed to get an expedited passport ASAP. This is the SECOND time I've lost my passport, folks. I need to get a microchip installed into the material of the cover so that I can find it by satellite next time! We had to drive out to north Austin or somewhere and have this halitosis-victim click around on a computer keyboard for a little while so that I could pay him $75 (on top of the $160 a regular expedited passport cost). We'll see if its worth it, I guess. Getting banned from countries used to seem so hard, but I'm a fast learner. At this rate, we'll be cancelling tours and having streets all over the world plastered with posters of my face with a line through it! Dang it.

My very favorite part of the day--I saved it for last-- was when we arrived at our friend Chazz' recording studio to set up some equipment for tomorrow's session. We're re-recording our song 'The World is a Cigarette' because it didn't come out right when we recorded in L.A. His friend Jim--a very kind fellow, I should add--is to be co-pilot this operation and apparently works at the same music store that employs Chazz.

Upon arriving, we saw Chazz' figure in the driveway with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. We parked to unload, and as he helped lift some of the heavier stuff, he endeavored to explain in advance a few things about Jim to us.

"The main thing to keep in mind, really, is to avoid using the word, 'cigarette' whenever possible. I mean, I know it sounds really weird, but he has this phobia of cigarettes and can't handle hearing the word EVER or he gets extremely nauseous and sometimes even throws up."

Since Chazz is a jokey kind of guy with a silly sense of humor, my first reaction was of course to laugh. So I did. But in return, all I got was a healthy dose of reassurance that he was completely serious and that the word 'cigarette' was no laughing matter around these parts.

" But Chazz. 'Cigarette' is a lyric in the the fucking song that we're recording today, so how the hell do you expect us to avoid that???" I inquired.

Apparently, Jim has offered to leave the room whenever the beginning of the song occurs so that the offensive lyrics do not putrefy his clean, smoke-free thoughts. I can't imagine how he's going to be of much use to our engineer/producer under these profoundly ridiculous circumstances, but I'm very much looking forward to finding out how this will all unfold.

Stay tuned!

Oh, and here's that interactive chat site I mentioned earlier: (Thanks a LOT, Roger!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wizard's Energy Drink Season

There's something so magical and disturbing about non-stop lightning storms--on impossibly hot days!

We're raised as kids to learn and to recognize the characteristics of the quintessential weather pattern: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, and then it all starts back at the beginning. Apparently, nobody told Texas about the way this schedule ought to operate, and they've got it all fucked up. I woke up drenched in sweat (and with a bright red hair dye stain on my pillowcase!) after a night of suffering beneath the weight of merciless heat trapped in my small room. Despite multiple cold showers, I couldn't get my blood to hum at its usual pitch.

So, I spent another crippling day on road trip mode, even with solid ground beneath my feet.

What's this, you ask?

Well, it's not too distant a relative of nocturnal mode because it involves low physical activity levels during daylight hours, and nocturnal mode is already one of my specialties. However, it varies in that it relies heavily on daydreaming, list-making and completing minor tasks that don't actually need to be done, while nocturnal mode involves much more daytime sleeping. Both modes have similar side-effects: an almost manic, ecstatic hunger for creative output as soon as the sun goes down. If left to my own devices with no company and no pressing appointments the next day, I can easily spend an entire night frantically working on one small project, and I get so high from it that I wish there was a way I could sell it to other people! But so long as the sun's up and especially if it's unreasonably warm, I am like a lizard in a tundra.

I've learned to make the best of times like these, of course, and sometimes even look forward to them. Since I'm useless behind the wheel on road trips/tours, my time is usually divided into equal parts reading, sleeping and thinking deeply. Reading is always fun, but you can only take so much in a moving vehicle. Sleeping has grown increasingly difficult on the road for some reason, but I still fit it into my schedule.

Deep thinking and dreaming awake is a horse of a different color--what a wonderful treat this is! I enjoy and look forward to the times I am permitted to do this without offensive interruptions by music I don't care to listen to, or conversations I'm not invested in. In fact, I secretly get very frustrated sometimes because car mates will try to discuss something with me or blast cheesy radio hits and foil my sweet reveries! Allowing your mind to wander, to solve invented problems, or to simply invent period, is the keystone and salvation of a child's world. It is a survival skill when we are young because our early years go by sooo slowly and involve lots of waiting around and doing things that are boring. As it evolves into a superfluous indulgence instead of a necessity, we allow it to happen less and less and stop thinking of it as a tool, and I think this is a great pity. Everyone should make time to think and dream without interruption! You can have ideas outside of the shower, you know!


As I was saying earlier, I haven't been doing shit. At least, during the day. I have, on the other hand, had plenty of time to think, and I've realized that my mind is on a new plain lately. It's hard to say what is causing my adjusted perspective and sensory-tweakings, but I'm sure its no thanks to starting this blog and challenging myself to write every day, even if I don't want to.

Also, the aforementioned lightning storms. It might sound superstitious or just plain uneducated, but I feel like all the un-channeled electricity running through this town with its head cut off is vibrating my brain and charging my blood with weird, magical powers. My veins are pulsating and brimming with some kind of a wizard's energy drink, and I don't mind at all. Turn up the heat, zap it a few times, and maybe it will be ready soon!

This is a new kind of season! YAY!

You know, when I first started this blog, I thought to myself: "Yeah, I can do this! Maybe after a year I can sift through all the content and put a flimsy paperback together!'' But after that last paragraph, I really doubt that any of these entries will ever be worth printing! It doesn't matter, though. I feel myself inside of me more than in a long time, and its probably because I have evidence that thoughts and processes really ARE going on sometimes, and that is reassuring. Even when its cheesy or incriminating, its proof, and I needed that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cheapskates and Dreamers

No one seems to know what's best for themselves, including me. Most people tend to want things that have been made to seem glamorous by stereotypes and media, and the under-achievers just do as least as they possibly can, for as long as they can.

When I think back to when Lauren and I first started Agent Ribbons, I recall long nights of crafts on the living room floor, listening to music and indulging in voicing our wildest dreams. We certainly didn't think they were wild dreams at the time--in fact, we openly discussed lofty and expensive plans for the future without even a salt-shake of embarrassment, going so far as to setting tentative dates by which we might be able to afford a second apartment in San Francisco or have the means to purchase this or that for our parents and friends. The tentative dates were no more than one or two years away at the time, and we had JUST started the band!

Naivete is a real gas...

It's been exactly three and a half years since we began this project. That's not bad. We've accomplished a lot in that amount of time for having no help from record labels or booking agents or publicists. I'm very proud of what I have learned and had the privilege to experience, all thanks to being a touring musician, but I have to admit that I thought I would be adequately surviving by now! Struggle makes a person consider what they really want and what they really have a chance at achieving. I've gotten my most frivolous aspirations out of the way by now, but I'm having a hard time visualizing what it is that I actually want or expect from all of this.

Do I desire wealth?

We're not really the kind of band that can make that much money, not only because of our genre and aesthetic, but because we're not fickle with musical presentation (meaning we don't ever practice!) and I will never care enough to tamper much in these departments.

Do I expect to make a living at this?

I think that in the short term, the answer is definitely 'yes.' But when was the last time you heard about a small indie band having a retirement plan? I'm not sure of the longevity of this scenario.

Is this at all about money?

My heart wants to call out, 'absolutely not!' But on the same token, what will become of me if we don't ever make any money?

Wait, don't tell me! I've heard this one before: I will have to do SOMETHING ELSE!

Therein lies my dilemma. One of my favorite pieces of advice to give to serious aspiring artists is 'do not acquire any useful skills and you will be successful.' Now that I'm on flatter land and can see further ahead, I'm wondering if I should shut the fuck up with those kinds of suggestions. What do I know? I'm not successful enough to give advice! I'm not even old enough to rent a car, for god's sake! Come to think of it, I don't even have a driver's license (sorry, other members of my band)...

I'm always complaining that I don't have enough time to pursue my myriad of other interests, but I'm scared to death of having plenty of time to do exactly that. It's hard to imagine switching gears completely, and even though everything has been rewarding and worth while, it leaves an aftertaste of wasted time and energy.

To get back to my original theme for today's writings, though, I feel like there has never been a point where I actually wanted what was good for me. Being in a touring band is not really in my best interest, but it's what I have wanted for so long. I wish I was smart like Aaron Ross, who has an adorable family and solid employment and lives in the beautiful mountains and still makes music that wrecks me when he finds a bit of spare time. He doesn't seem to worry about what his music will achieve and just lets it flow out into the world on its own merits, unsolicited. I don't know if his setup is credited to smarts or just cosmic wisdom, but whatever it is, I ain't got it!

Maybe we all become more practical with the passage of time. I hear that's the idea, but other than discovering cooking, The Velvet Underground and quilting, not all that much has rearranged in me since the turn of the century, seems like. I am more practical with money, even though I don't have any. Maybe that's the first step towards getting some! I've learned to be as generous as I can afford with what I have since my life is possible due to the kindness of others, but to be conservative and resourceful when necessity absolutely requires.

Another important lesson (and I'm making this a separate paragraph to draw your eye here because this is the good stuff!): There's a big difference between spending as least money as possible and being cheap. A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Constantly buying inexpensive things because they are the cheapest is not intelligent. Sometimes, cheap stuff is the best way to go because there is no money to spend in the first place. However, going with something that costs a little more can often save you money later, and that's just as good as saving money now because you're probably not going to have money next week!

This is even sometimes true for going out for a meal. When I'm on the road, if I eat crappy stuff on a couple of occasions in a row because it costs less than something a few dollars more, I will pay in other ways. Usually, this will effect how good my body feels, how good of a mood I am in, and soon I will be hungry again. This is just one example. Cheapery annoys me more and more these days...

So there! I guess I know what's good for me at least once in a while. I think I'll stop while I'm ahead so that you can mull over this sage advice and not think I'm a total mess!


If you give a man a fish...

As a quasi-vegetarian, pescatarian, or whatever other nonsensical label you might prefer, I find it very difficult and exhausting to discuss diets with people. I don't really fit into any particular category, and that's against the rules. I do have reasons for my choices, but not strict beliefs--and I try to be as subtle as possible about my preferences due to the fact that simply HAVING preferences is like having a sign on your back that says 'kick me.'

I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but It's so fucking difficult to know what is good to eat these days!

When I stopped eating most meats about four years ago, I thought that I was Jesus. There's something about exercising your willpower against your instinct (especially when you're young) that causes a euphoric sense of being the very first at something even if you know you aren't, and self-congratulation is not uncommon. It's a real laugh to think about how great I thought I was for becoming a 'conscious eater', especially considering that so much of what I was consuming was total crap marketed to appear as though it was 'healthy' or in any way more responsible.

In the olden days, my freezer was brimming with weird space food like fake meat stuffs and pre-prepared crap that was more expensive because it didn't include chicken. You could bet your money on the likelihood that any manifestation of protein that I devoured was processed more times than your mom. Although, in all fairness, it must be considered that half of my problem was simply due to my thorough lack of cooking experience.

Growing up, my parents were always slaving away in the kitchen and took pride in being gourmet-savvy. Their tasteful resourcefulness on a shoestring budget contributed generously to my food appreciation later in life, but looking back, it doesn't seem like anyone was holding their breath in hopes of seeing me perform even the most modest feats in cuisine. All four of us kids were not permitted to be slouching around the kitchen when the players were in action because it was a small house and we were good at getting in the way.

But, to take a break from ruthlessly criticizing my younger, inferior self, I will say that despite my first misguided efforts in being a responsible world citizen and free-thinking individual (no matter how trendy), changing my diet was the gateway into a necessity for preparing my own meals more often and thinking about where things come from. Initially, I started out by just thinking on a molecular level.

Like, there's this huge warehouse crammed with a horrifying number of living creatures that are essentially tolerating life-long torture. They can't move, and all they know of life is darkness, metal, tasteless food and never-ending noise and filth. They poop out these round things at an unnatural rate until they die a miserable, isolated death. Then, a big oil-burning truck picks up the round things, takes them to a hyper-refrigerated environment and distributes them to people like me, who put them INSIDE themselves so that they can be mushed up, absorbed, and become molecules of the human body.

AHHHHHHHHH!!!! I'd rather watch '28 Days Later'...

Ponderings such as these were only the the beginning. Later, as I continued to educate myself and also be ferociously confronted by other people of all eating persuasions, I took things even further as I realized that the main objective was simplicity in gathering the raw materials and basic ingredients. Processed food is the enemy no matter how organic or free-range it is, in my humble opinion. Especially when its created and distributed by a corporation, because corporations are fucking the world up more than anything else, period. As my boyfriend generously pointed out to me years ago in a heated argument, it actually is better for the world to eat a cow that lives down the lane than to eat Boca Burgers that are nutritionally lacking, processed, made by a company that makes meat products anyway, and on top of all this they are shipped a gazillion miles to get to you, therefore polluting the environment to boot!

Not to say that I NEVER eat Boca Burgers, but I prefer not to. It's best to not be too righteous about the information you possess, especially if you are dirt poor like me. Chances are, you'll find yourself compromising what you consider the ideal diet every now and then if you've got a hole in your pocket. Or, maybe not--I have immense respect for people who take the extra time out of their lives to be shrewd and thorough about their convictions. I personally have a finite time allotment for that stuff, but try to do what is best as much as seems sensible to me.

Yesterday I was really inspired by a conversation that I had with my mom. Apparently she's been getting into canning fruits and vegetables herself lately, which I think is so awesome. Small acts of craft and creation are what really develop a person's sense of purpose and self-worth, at least for me. Tasks that require some skill and offer no instant gratification...that is the real secret to happiness! She's also looking into 'urban chickens' which is cute to me, and I have to admit that I'm pretty jealous because I've always wanted chickens myself.

There's going to be chickens at Chateau Crone, that's for sure! And they're going to have a castle-shaped coop with a mote and a draw bridge to keep out the coyotes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ain't got shit on Alexander Graham Bell

There are all sorts of ways to break big news to the important people in your life--the classiest and most reliable method being the face-to-face variety. However, since I'm never home for so much as a happy hour, I rely solely on modern technology to keep me in touch with the rest of the world.

There's one little setback to this scenario, however:

Ever since that night that Lauren's parents went out of town and we decided to treat ourselves to a little jacuzzi fake-cation, I haven't had the dough to replace my cell phone.

Of course, that was two years ago. And, of course, the phone didn't actually get dropped into the jacuzzi... by some inadvertent feat of amazing unintended aim, it delicately plunked itself down into the fluted throat of a vessel containing a beverage known as the 'White Russian' as I was removing myself from the hot tub.

The rest is history.

So, phone-less, I have soldiered on into a long-distance relationship with a very tormented but devoted fellow that sometimes sees an entire workweek pass without so much as a text message, let alone any indication of what city I'm in ( It seems even worse written down!) We originally fell in love by seducing one another via myspace messaging (after having met of course--I'm at least THAT respectable!), so you'd think we'd be champion letter-writers, but I guess we used up all of our best material in that first year and need some time to restock.

Anyway, today I emailed Jonathan about my decision to move to Austin, and he was anxious to get a hold of me since it was the first he'd heard about it. I am always eager to hear his raspy squeal whenever I can, but the craggy tumor of built-up anxiety inside my head had been turned over so many times, it was as slick as a river stone. Both of the girls in addition to Christopher recieved a mass text promising fifty dollars to whomever would let me call Jonathan right away. No one accepted the money, but for two hours I paced in the alley outside of a club while they drank Lone Star.

Having to explain to someone you love deeply that you have made a concious decision that will completely jeapordize your relationship is pretty much the shittiest position one can be in. Despite all of my relative confidence that I am on the right path and doing what I need to do with my life, I faltered in a big way when I heard the hurt in his voice. It didn't take much time for the hurt to take a sharp turn, and within twenty minutes, tipsy passers-by were looking past their shoulders to see where that sound of screeching metal was coming from.

Things were still heated when my friends came wandering out of the bar, so we agreed to adjourn our emotions until I could get home to a computer. The car ride was quiet, except for a light side-hug from Christopher. When we got home, I went straight into my sleeping quarters and logged on to find that Jonathan had already emailed me, so we commenced 'Project Gmail Chat.'

An hour later, after trying every stupid chat service available, I just signed up for AIM and set it up to text messsaging because his browser is worthless. Eventually, everything boiled down to a fiery text-fight, which, for the record, is the BEST way to have an argument ever because every single thing that is said is documented right there before your eyes for reference. You can quote your opponent verbatem and be Johnny-on-the-spot with evidence to support your claims!

Now that the sun is coming up, I will conclude by simply saying that if love can traverse 500 miles, then god damn it, why not 1500?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rome wasn't built in a day.

It's a Monday; around six o' clock in Austin, Texas. Someone that lives here put on a Simon and Garfunkel record, and the little window in the room I've been sleeping in has a view of golden weeds blowing softly in the hundred-degree breeze. Everyone is going to the spring for swimming today, but after a long, sleepless night of sentimental tearshed and paranoid thoughts, I can't bear the idea of stepping out into the world right now.

I actually like it here as far as I can tell, but could I be happy here?

This is some sort of a weird, new-fangled mid-midlife crisis or something and I think that dating older people has given me the warped illusion that I'm actually in my 30's. What a bummer when those moments of realization hit and my lack of life experience and accomplishments are boldly underlined! I'm only turning 25 this year and it's not a big deal, but I'd at least like to have a place where I feel that I belong and can call my own, and my poor little museum of momentos back in Sacramento--my shrine to my own past--is regularly pimped out in my absense. There is nothing I can do except wake up in other people's beds every morning and pretend that I'm looking at my own ceiling through the eyecrust of the first two minutes of each day. Then, it's back to the rigormarole of coffee shops, other people's agendas, and the aimless passing of time until the next show, which is the saving grace of my lifestyle.

There is a great and shining hope within me that I am eager to suffer punishments for, if necessary. I'm an optimist and bonified lover of life, but everyone collapses beneath the weight of the unkown at some point or another, and what better time to start a blog?

I've known for a while that 2009 would be a profoundly pivotal year in my life, and my intuition has served me well already. The best I can do is to take it in bites I can chew, keep my eye on the prize and document as much as possible for my own betterment.