Bursting at the Seams

Hello, dear readers!

I am having a really great week. I can’t talk publicly about all the reasons why just yet (feel free to reach out if you’re curious), but here are a few:

  • Last Friday, I ended up writing a song with a fellow FAWMer. I wrote the lyrics, sent it to them for music, they sent it back, I recorded the melody and guitar part, and they added harmony and ukulele. It sounds FANTASTIC, and I am so excited about it. You can listen to it here.
  • Over the weekend, a friend from the Twin Cities came to visit, and it was so fun! They are a very easy houseguest and it was a relaxing weekend for everyone, I think.
  • As of this morning, I’ve completed my personal FAWM challenge of writing a song for every card of the major arcana in the tarot. I’m very excited about that.

More to come next week on the rest of the excitement. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you – what’s making your week brighter?

Write Write Write

I am writing this on Wednesday night. It is the 12th of February, and so far I’ve written a song a day all month. If I can make it two more days, I’ll “win” FAWM by the time the month is only half over!

I’m actually rather liking a lot of what I’ve written so far, too. Few things feel finished finished, but that’s fine. I’m signed up for “Finish Your Damn Songs” at the Old Town School starting in March, and there’s no rush, really, as I can’t imagine I’ll be trying to record this tarot project until at least late next year.

Every year, FAWM reminds me how great it is to be part of this worldwide community of songwriters. When I started writing songs, I mostly did it for myself, but the longer I do this thing, the more I believe that songs are meant to be shared. They’re a powerful tool for connecting with people.

It’s been an exciting week for other reasons, too, but not ones I can talk about yet. What I can talk about is the fact that we have a good friend coming to visit this weekend, and I’m very excited for that. They’re a low-maintenance houseguest and a delight to have around.

Once again, I’m going to leave you with a song I’m happy about from the past week of writing. This is the song for XIII – Death, which is not always about death (it’s often more about endings birthing new beginnings), but I leaned into the archetype for this one. It features some kind of spooky harmonica, too, so that’s fun.

Surprisingly Productive

So…I’ve had a shockingly productive first week of February (by which I mean: I’ve had a really successful first week of FAWM). I’ve gotten up at 5:30 to write four days in a row now. I’m 6/6 days/songs written.

I don’t expect that I’ll write a song every day all month. That feels bonkers (and also, we have a friend coming to visit next weekend, and while they are lovely and encouraging I don’t think I’m going to get a lot of writing done when there are three of us in our one-bedroom apartment – it’s hard enough when it’s just me and my partner). But I am really excited about how the month is going so far.

I’m trying to participate more in the listening and commenting on FAWM this year than I have in the past. As a result, I’m making some friends. I’m probably going to do a collaboration on a song with someone whose songs I’m really digging but who I’ve never met, which is just a cool think about the internet.

This year for FAWM I’m focusing on this 78 Songs project I’ve been “working on” for about four years with little success. I’m trying to write a song for every card in a tarot deck, and up until this year I had maybe half a dozen done. I decided to use this concentrated songwriting time as a catalyst to get some traction on this project. So I’m starting with the 22 cards of the major arcana. Since there are 22 and I only really had the first one done, I started working my way through a week or so ahead of time. As of today, I’ve gotten through XI – Justice, which means I’m over halfway there!

I’m going to leave you with my favorite of the songs that I’ve written so far. This song is for VII – The Chariot. I did not think this was going to be a 5 minute song, but here we are. This was largely inspired by a conversation I had with a friend. It was later pointed out to me that it’s also very queer, and I’m a little embarrassed and very amused that I didn’t realize it on my own. Anyway, here’s a song: enjoy!

I very nearly forgot to blog this week.

Yesterday was hard. Not because of anything that happened, really, but the whole day felt Sisyphean. I got out of bed late; it took what felt like eons to talk myself into going to work. I spent a lot of the day dealing with a pain flare-up. It was hard to be in my body. I got home and managed to get a few things done, but I was in bed before 8:30.

This morning I woke up still feeling pretty achy, so I made the decision to work from home. This meant that even though I made the questionable decision to crawl back into bed after turning my alarm off, I still had time to shower and take it a little easier getting ready for my day.

Now I’m sitting at my kitchen table with my coffee and my work laptop, getting ready to dive into some work projects, and I suddenly realized I hadn’t written a blog post yet, so here we are.

It’s been a long week, for sure. But here are a handful of things that have kept me going:

  • I finally saw Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker on Friday after work. I know some people found it disappointing, but I really enjoyed it. I cried, I laughed, I held my breath, I occasionally rolled my eyes. It was a fun ride and I found it a satisfying conclusion to the series I was raised on.
  • Saturday we got breakfast with a friend who lives in our old neighborhood. When we moved, we decided to set up a routine of breakfast dates every other weekend, and I’m so glad we did. I am trying to be more intentional about making time for friends. We have such a great constellation of friends and communities here, and I think when I’m struggling I sometimes lose sight of that.
  • I made it to Tai Chi class for the fourth week in a row. It feels good to be doing something to move my body aside from all the walking I do.
  • I wrote three songs last week. I’m getting increasingly excited for FAWM!
  • This weekend I have a couple of things scheduled with friends that I wish I saw more often, and I am very much looking forward to those.

Attempting Optimism

It’s been another kind of hard week. I’m tired, I’m achy, I got an unexpected medical bill, and I’ve been feeling cranky and out of sorts a lot of the time. However, I am attempting to look for some bright spots – not because I think everything needs a silver lining, but it’s easier to get up in the mornings and get through each day if I have things to look forward to. So here are a handful of happy things:

  • I was able to play guitar this week! A couple of weeks ago I picked up my guitar and couldn’t play, because my hands hurt so much. Thankfully, despite the fact that they still hurt, I’m finding that I can play some things, as long as I mostly avoid barre chords and don’t capo up so high that I’m having to cram my fingers into smaller spaces. So that was exciting and encouraging.
  • My department at work is going bowling tomorrow. I have admittedly mixed feelings about this – both because of how much socializing is involved and because my hands have been hurting and I can’t imagine bowling is going to help that. But I do enjoy bowling (even though I’m pretty bad at it), and it means a few extra hours I don’t have to work, so that’s good.
  • I’m getting super excited for FAWM. This will be my third year participating in this challenge, and it’s always a magical time. This year, I’m planning to get some serious work done on my 78 Songs project, where I’m writing a song for every card in a tarot deck. I’ve been “working” on this project for years and have almost nothing to show for it, so I’m excited for the external motivation to get some of the work done. This FAWM I’ll be tackling the major arcana, which is comprised of 22 cards. Since the goal is just to write 14 songs, I started working on them this week, and have two songs done and another set of lyrics started, so that feels like good progress.

What things are you excited about or looking forward to?

Having a Body

Sometimes, having a body is exhausting. This feels like one of those weeks.

Last Thursday I had an unexpectedly positive experience at a new rheumatologist’s office, and I’m feeling a little more hopeful that this one will actually try to figure out what is behind the chronic pain I deal with (as opposed to the last one, who basically just wrote it off as, “because you’re fat”). So that’s a happy thing.

Monday, in the middle of a staff meeting, I felt my back seizing up. I needed to stand but felt like I couldn’t (because everyone else was sitting and I felt the social pressure of not drawing attention to myself), and as a consequence have been in a not inconsiderable amount of back pain all week. It’s slowly working itself out, but it’s a process.

While this has been going on, I’ve also been trying to tackle multiple projects at work. I have a desk that can adjust from sitting to standing, and that’s been a lifesaver in terms of back pain management. But I’m finding the types of work I need to do are harder to focus on while I’m standing. On the other hand, sitting for any length of time makes my back stiff and sore. I feel like I can’t win.

Add to that the rain and temperature shift today, and I’m in a place of “everything hurts and I am exhausted.”

Thankfully, I have some bright spots to focus on this week. Most notably, I finally got to play the show I missed the night I had to go to the ER a couple of weeks ago. It was fun, more people than I expected showed up, and I even made some money in tips!

Dreaming

I’m in a weird, waiting space in a few big areas of my life right now. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it’s uncomfortable and I’m hoping I’m able to start moving again soon.

In the meantime, I’m dreaming, and I’m trying to figure out how to manifest some of these dreams. (I’m also thinking about how “manifesting your dreams” usually comes down to some combination of hard work and privilege.) What do I want my life to look like? What do I want to give more time and space to? Where is my focus shifting away from things that have taken up a lot of time and space historically?

I’m trying to stay on top of assignments for my songwriting class (which I’m super grateful for at the moment, because if I didn’t have those deadlines, I probably wouldn’t be writing much at all right now). There are dreams tied to that, too – when will I hit the point where I can save a little money to record an EP? Since 2012 I’ve written almost 175 songs; more than half of those have happened in the past two years. I’m sitting on a lot of material, and it would be nice to be able to put some of it out into the world in a way that feels more permanent than the (very) occasional live show.

I really, really hope I have some more concrete news to blog about soon. In the meantime, I am trying to learn to breathe through the discomfort of waiting. I don’t know that I believe that everything happens for a reason, but I am trying to see what I can learn from this liminal space. Patience is not always my strongest virtue, but I’m working on it.

Thursday Ramblings

It’s Thursday, and I’m tired.

I’ve been tired all week. I’m fighting an end-of-summer cold, and it’s making mornings especially challenging. Today, at least, I was able to get up and out of the house at a reasonable hour – I’m leading a training at work this morning, so it would’ve been especially problematic if I was late. But I feel like I’m dragging.

The fact that the weather got hot again is not helping matters – I am ready for fall weather. I’m also ready for consistent weather – the constant shifting is really hard on my body – but that’s probably not a realistic wish in Chicago.

I’m not having a bad week, exactly. I’m just low on energy. The weekend was good – I got to play D&D and we got the apartment more settled. I wrote a song I liked for class this week, so that was exciting.

How about you, dear readers? How are you feeling as we wait for the season to really start changing? What’s new and exciting in your lives? I’d love to hear from you.

It’s All About Community

Happy Thursday, dear readers! I am getting back into the swing of life after a wild couple of weeks, and I nearly forgot to blog – I keep thinking it’s Friday.

Last week, my partner and I made our way to the Rocky Mountain Song School in Lyons, CO. We got a late start, leaving Chicago for Lincoln, NE around 2:45 Friday afternoon, because we were trying to get the rest of the packing for our move done before we hit the road. We got to our hotel in Lincoln around 1:15am. It made for a short night.

We drove to a friend’s house in Denver the next day. It turned out her roommates were gone, and she was dog-sitting for some other friends, so after we hung out for a while, she left to do that and we had the house to ourselves. It was nice – I was especially exhausted, and was able to crash early.

The next morning, we got breakfast with friends who just moved to Denver from Chicago. It was great to see them, and after we ate we went for a little stroll around the neighborhood to look at street art. Then we drove back to the house, packed up our stuff, and headed up to Lyons. It was a bit rainy on the way there, but thankfully by the time we got there and were setting up, it had stopped.

It was so good to be back at Planet Bluegrass. The details of the individual days are a little muddled in my brain, but it was a great time. Monday I took a couple of classes that involved writing to some prompts, and that generated some ideas that led to me writing a complete set of lyrics to a new song that night. Over the next two days, I worked out music for it (my first attempt was entirely too moody, which I realized after another class), and Wednesday night I got to perform it at the open stage, with eight of my favorite humans, who came up with harmonies literally fifteen minutes before we went on to perform. It was incredible.

Practice

Practicing/learning harmonies 15 minutes before going on stage (Photo Credit: Rah Foard)

Performing

Performing at the open stage (Photo Credit: Rah Foard)

Other highlights of the week:

  • I made it my mission to do new things. I took a bunch of classes that intimidated me, and stayed out of my comfort zone most of the time.
  • I went swimming! It was my first time going shirtless in public (it’s been almost three years since I had top surgery). It felt good.
  • I reconnected with some of my very favorite people. I was surrounded by the most incredible community, and the safety that community created gave me the courage to try new things, take risks, and get out of my comfort zone. I was continuously reminded of how important community is, even to an introvert like me. Life doesn’t happen in isolation.

It’s been a whirlwind since we got back. We got home Saturday evening, and picked my partner’s dad up from Union Station (we borrowed his car for our trip, and so he came down to help us move and to get his car back). Sunday we did a lot of running back and forth between apartments. Monday, I headed off to work, and my partner and his dad coordinated with the movers to get the bulk of our stuff over to the new apartment! At this point, we have I think 99% of our stuff over at the new place, and we’ve been sleeping there all week. It’s a chaos of boxes, but last night my partner got most of the kitchen unpacked (I’m feeling under the weather and crashed early – hoping I can be more useful with the rest of the unpacking), and we HAVE to have everything unpacked by Saturday morning, because that’s when the reusable boxes are being picked back up. So…it’s going to be a bonkers couple of days. But it’s a great new space, and it’s already starting to feel like home.

Move and Vacation

We are inching ever closer to our move date, and the number of packed boxes in our apartment has increased since last week. We’ve been coordinating some maintenance needs with the new landlord so that we don’t need to have them come and fix things when we’re actually there.

We’re down to the wire for packing now, though.

My partner has been in Minnesota for the past few days, hanging out with his parents before borrowing his dad’s car to drive to Song School. He gets back into town this afternoon. We leave for Song School tomorrow.

I am so excited for Song School, for seeing dear friends and digging into the practice of songwriting. I am also worried that I’ll struggle to be present, knowing that we move two days after we get back. I’m hoping I’ll be able to set that aside and fully engage while we’re on this trip.

On that note: there will be no blog next week, as I will be in Colorado and off my phone as much as possible. The next time I write a blog will be from our new apartment!