Song School 2022

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! We have almost made it to the weekend.

Last week there was no blog, because I was in Lyons, CO at Song School! It was an absolutely incredible week. Some of the folks we usually end up hanging out with couldn’t make it this year, but we were able to reconnect with a bunch of old friends we hadn’t seen since 2019, and we made a bunch of new friends as well. There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by a community of like-minded, creative humans.

This year, rather than camping, we stayed at a tiny house resort across the street from camp (because I didn’t want to have to figure out a battery for my APAP machine or worry about that battery exploding in the heat of the tent). It was adorable:

Planet Bluegrass (the host of Song School) continues to be one of the most beautiful places on earth:

I started off the week deciding I was going to do things that scared me, so I took performance classes with Amy Speace (who is absolutely brilliant and if you’re unfamiliar with her music, please go listen to her album Tucson right now). I volunteered to play my song in the first class and have my performance critiqued (although “critiqued” sounds harsher than it was; it was more a gentle nudging toward greater authenticity), and I learned a TON – and then I found out I’d gotten one of the last performance slots for the open stage on the last night of Song School, so I had all week to integrate what I learned. On the last day of class, we each stood up and sang a few lines of Amazing Grace (or Happy Birthday, for those who didn’t know the words), and then our classmates assigned us three attributes based on their immediate impressions of our performances – two that had positive connotations and one “shadow” word, which we then worked to turn into something we could use to ground ourselves when stepping on stage. The words the group came up with for me were kind, sincere, and reserved, which were turned into the persona of Kind, Sincere Bear. I cried. It’s nice to be seen.

Some of you have seen this on Facebook already, but the classes with Amy were honestly life-changing. Historically, when I performed, even if it was going pretty well (maybe especially if it was going pretty well), I tended to dissociate. I’d step on stage and mostly leave my body.

This performance wasn’t perfect, but I’ve never been so present in my body while playing in front of people. I’ve never had so much fun on stage; I’ve never been prouder of a performance. I will be forever grateful to Amy for the tools she gave me this week, and to all the other friends who made this week so incredible.

Lyrics:

Pen and ink and paper combine
Alchemical fire as you write the big bang
Worlds spring into existence
Ready or not, connect the dots

Stop, take a breath
Feel the magic in your chest
When you know who you are
You are born of stars

At the top, it feels like flying
Giddy with altitude, one with the sky
In this earthbound apparatus
There’s no risk, just innocence

Stop, take a breath
Feel the magic in your chest
When you know who you are
You are born of stars

Some love starts with warm beverages
Held in nervous hands as voices spill secrets
And you slowly learn to ask
If you can dare, for what they might share

Stop, take a breath
Feel the magic in your chest
When you know who you are
You are born of stars

And because I know you’re all wondering – Nova did great at the boarders. We drove all the way home on Friday (which was my husband’s birthday), leaving Lyons at around 6:30am and arriving at the boarding facility just before midnight. The report card from the facility says that Nova was “so sweet” and “the life of the party” at group playtime. (We have a popular kid, apparently…she didn’t get that from either of her parents.) I will leave you, as always, with a few pictures of our girl, who will have been with us for a WHOLE YEAR as of Sunday!

Birthday Weekend Adventures

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! Despite this being a normal work week for me, I’ve been a bit scrambled as to my days this week. But we’ve finally made it; it’s almost the weekend.

I had a truly lovely birthday weekend. I took the day off on Friday, and my husband and I took Nova with us on a little adventure to Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls, MN; we stopped at Franconia Sculpture Park on the way back for a picnic and more wandering, and then popped into Wine Haven for a few celebratory bottles before coming home and relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, Nova went to the groomer (which she was not happy about), and that afternoon I went on a tree/plant identification walk with a local druid grove that I recently connected with before going out for drinks with my college bestie that evening. It was a really lovely day.

Sunday we brought Nova to her first restaurant patio for a birthday lunch with my parents, and she did great! She even got her own burger patty.

The week has been good so far; Monday night I started my second summer class, which runs twice a week for four weeks. It’s intense, but I’m excited about it. Tuesday was session 0 for a new in-person D&D game I just joined. I didn’t know anyone at the table, but I think it’s going to be a really fun group!

The other fun thing that happened this week was we got Nova’s DNA results back, with a few surprises:

I hope you’re all hanging in there. I will leave you with one more Nova picture – please enjoy this view of her pouting because I was the meanest and wouldn’t take her to her favorite store last night (because they were closed):

Up North

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! There was no blog last Thursday because I was on vacation and attempting to unplug as much as possible. I was pretty successful, and it was an absolutely wonderful time away.

We ended up going up to Duluth a day earlier than originally planned, which made the whole trip much more relaxing than I think it would have been had we tried to cram everything into a day and a half. Nova was a bit anxious the first night, but by day two she was fine – she had a lot of fun making friends with the other dogs on the boardwalk. Taking three days off from work was just what I needed, and I came back feeling much more settled and rested than I’d felt in a while.

I’m going to leave this as a short blog this week – I have an exciting thing in the works right now but I’m not quite ready to share it with the world at large yet. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll be posting about that here!

Social Distancing

So…what a week it’s been, huh? I was in the office at my new job for all of four days before we moved to remote work, which we’ll be doing…indefinitely, at this point. My partner is off work entirely (thankfully, still getting paid) through at least the first week of April. It’s weird.

We’re both introverts, and it’s a good thing we like each other, because sharing a one bedroom apartment basically 24/7 with another introvert can be…interesting. Thankfully, there’s a better delineation of space and more places to sit in this apartment than there were in the old one, so we’re managing pretty well so far. I’m trying not to worry about next week and focus on today.

Everything’s suddenly moved online. Therapy. Songwriting class. Hangouts with friends (shoutout to L for suggesting a remote viewing of Star Wars: Episode IV last night). I’m grateful to be living in this age of technology where I have the privilege of easy access to means of connection with friends when I can’t see them face to face.

It’s a weird, wild time, y’all. Take care of yourselves. Check in on your loved ones. Even as we’re all trying to keep out distance, don’t stop reaching out.

Song School!

Hello, friends! First things first: there will be no blog next week. That’s because I will be in Colorado, attending Song School, and will not have internet access (or time to blog).

The past week at work has been pretty ridiculous (read: extremely frustrating). It has frequently felt like every little thing that could go wrong has done so. I am beyond ready for vacation. I am trying really hard not to mentally check out before I actually leave. Today is my last day in the office for about a week and a half. I have one meeting to get through this afternoon, and I’m sure there will be a few last-minute things to sort out. I just have to hang on until 4:30.

I am so, SO excited to be heading back to Song School. My partner and I attended for the first time last year, and it was one of the best experiences we’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends we made last year, and meeting new folks, and learning enough that I feel like my head will explode. It’s going to be great. This year has been extraordinarily productive for me from a songwriting perspective, so I’m excited to see how that impacts my experience of Song School.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about in two weeks, when I’m back to reality. For now, though, I’m on vacation. 🙂

Getting Through

It’s been…a mixed week.

I didn’t write much, compared to the rest of the month (only two songs instead of ~1 per day). I am reminding myself that I hit my goal, and two songs in a week is still a lot. But after so much productivity earlier, it feels a little like failure.

We had a friend in town over the weekend, which was fun. It was great to see them and have excuses to eat at several of our favorite places.

Saturday, though. Saturday was less fun.

See, by Friday night the pain from my spasmed shoulder had moved and settled quite solidly in the back of my neck, and it was…a lot. Acute, throbbing pain that came in waves. So Saturday morning I called our clinic, and managed to get an appointment with my doctor for that afternoon.

At the appointment, my doctor poked and prodded a bit and let me know that it didn’t seem like I’d slipped a disk (something I was starting to get paranoid about), and that it was probably just a bad muscle strain. He gave me a prescription for muscle relaxers, and sent me on my way.

The muscle relaxer is a controlled substance, which meant I had to turn the paper prescription into the pharmacy – they couldn’t call it in ahead. The pharmacy on site at the clinic didn’t have it, so they called around to two or three other Walgreens and finally found one that carried it.

Here’s where things went awry. I should have headed straight for that pharmacy. Instead, I checked the store hours and decided I had time to sit with my partner and our friend at a coffee shop. (If you are thinking, “But Alyx, the store hours are often different from the pharmacy hours,” you are correct.)

When we finally made it over to the pharmacy, they informed me they were closing in five minutes, and that I should try a different pharmacy about a mile away that was open later.

This is where I made my critical error. I should have just handed them the prescription and come back to pick it up in the morning. Instead, I went out and called a Lyft to get to the other pharmacy.

It had been snowing, and the ground was slushy and slick. As I waited for the Lyft to show up, I took a wrong step and came crashing down on my left side…and on my phone, which I’d been holding in my left hand.

The phone screen was shattered all to hell, and I was now hurting in more places than just my neck. But I went to the other pharmacy, hoping things would improve.

Things did not improve.

After being casually misgendered by the pharmacist and waiting several minutes (during which time I was at least able to determine that I had insurance on my phone, so I made an appointment for Sunday to get the screen replaced), I was informed that they were out of stock.

Basically, this had turned into Alyxander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I grabbed a bottle of ibuprofen, took back my prescription, and headed home.

The day ended with delicious pizza, our friend was with me the whole time, and I was able to go back to the pharmacy that had it in stock first thing Sunday morning and get the meds, so it all worked out in the end. But it was still a really rough day.

I’m still sore – the muscle relaxers and ibuprofen are helping, but it feels like awfully slow going. Still, I’m proud of myself for handling things as well as I did given the circumstances (I wanted to cry and throw a fit several times, but didn’t).

Now I’m just trying to get back into my songwriting routine.

Here’s hoping this weekend is rather less eventful than last weekend was!

Post-Vacation Musings

Vacation was, on the whole, lovely (though I more or less forgot to take pictures, so I can’t show you how lovely it was). Here are some things I’ve been reflecting on when looking back at the weekend:

  1. Driving through Wisconsin in the fall is actually a pretty great things to do. The trees were gorgeous, and there wasn’t as much construction as we’ve run into on some other trips, so it was a pretty relaxing drive. Being a Minnesotan, I tend to poke fun at Wisconsin quite a bit, but this trip made me think that maybe it’s an okay state after all. 😉
  2. I completely adore my nephew. Every time I see this kid I get more excited about being an Uncle Ommer and about knitting him all sorts of cozy things. (The Yoda hat was a smash, and I will shortly be starting a sweater for Christmas and a blanket for his birthday.) I was quite nervous going in, because I know he’s at that age where stranger anxiety is a thing. But though he wasn’t immediately sure of me, he never got upset, and warmed up to me pretty quickly. We were buddies for the handful of minutes I got to hold him, and that makes me unspeakably happy.
  3. While there were some frustrating things surrounding spending time with my family, none of them were so egregious that they couldn’t be outweighed by time with my partner’s family or with friends. We didn’t fit in visits with as many people as we often try to do, but the time we did get with friends felt extra special and left us feeling refreshed. Deep conversations were had, and I was able to vent when I needed to and move on.
  4. I’ve been working meditative time back into my schedule (not quite on a daily basis yet, but close). Making that time on vacation helped me feel much more centered and grounded, and I hope I can continue developing that habit.
  5. I have truly wonderful people in my life. I’m incredibly lucky.