Thursday, October 24, 2013

Demos Almost Done!

Demos mostly done! Eight tracks are finished, two tracks need some minor adjustments, and one last minute track is still under construction, but once they're all finished they will be sent off to the Copyright Office, and once I hear back from them, I'm taking over the internet. Yes. Taking over.

I suppose eleven tracks is kind of a lot for a demo, but if I'm going to pay a filing fee, I might as well get my money's worth. Plus, I'm not going to force anyone to listen to all of them. I know that I still have a lot to learn when it comes mixing, writing and playing, but I've realized that at some point you just have to release the birds into the woods and let the world happen to them. Hopefully, the world will be welcoming and kind to my birds...

As this stage of the quest draws to a close, I can feel the approach of another exit that others have gotten off on. I could very easily post my songs to the internet and just hope that I'm discovered--wait for someone to find me. I could get complacent and put my faith in...my recordings? Karma? Ha. People get off here. It's easy to do. After putting so much energy in already, it's easy to think that your dues have been paid or that you "deserve" a break, but you don't. I don't. Nope.

This isn't the destination and I must remember that. This is buying plane tickets or filling the gas tank. I really haven't gone very far yet--the next step is where the real traveling happens. What is the next step? After getting all the social media outlets going and my website up, I will be putting a band together, finding gigs and performing (solo if necessary), and shopping labels and publishers. There's still so much to do, but that's what makes life awesome!

Be bold.

R

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fear

Fear can be a quiet killer. It can hide in the details you pass over, in the moments you navigate around, in the words you never speak. Fear is the tar that holds you in place, the cold outside the window, the darkness on either side of the tightrope. It is the comfort of routine, company and handrails. It is the knowledge that things work the way they are.

Sometimes fear is subtle--does not shoot adrenaline into your body or yell debilitating lies in your ear. It simply keeps you from moving. It is all bite, all action to keep you inactive. It lives in the questions you do not know to ask, or simply refuse to ask, and it eats your confidence, your motivation, your sense of purpose. It is when fear acts in these ways is it the most frightening.

When fear is loud, in your face and obvious, you become aware of it. And once you are aware of it, it is easier to confront. It is when you don't even realize that you are afraid, that fear is most terrifying. How can you fight an opponent you don't know exists? A feeling that you don't know you are feeling? You are rooted to the spot and you don't know why.

It can feel like frustration. You wish to move forward, but you can't. Despite all of your efforts, your feet don't move. You struggle. You flail. You turn around and go back. And it wasn't that you could not have moved forward, but rather that you were afraid to.

Right now, I don't know exactly what I'm afraid of, but I know fear is there. Instead of breathing down my neck, it is sitting on my chest. I can feel it--the fountains of hopelessness and despair that threaten to rain down when I stay up too late, the haze of anxiety and feeling lost in the world when I think of everything I still need to do, the claustrophobia that is waiting to consume me as I wrap myself ever more tightly around me. I could feel my fear for a long time and only recently did I realize what it was.

Perhaps, it doesn't go away. Perhaps, we walk forever on hot streets that make our shoes want to stick to the asphalt--we live with a dose of fear in our heads to keep us on track. But if that's the case, at least now I know, so when life seems to go into a holding pattern, I can ask myself, "Am I afraid?" and, "What am I afraid of?" And then, I can ask myself, "What is the next step?" and continue moving forward.

Be bold.

R

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pictures

As terrible as it may sound, I've spent a lot of time this week thinking about not what songs I'm going to perform at tomorrow's open mic (Thursday, 8-11pm, at Sabor y Cultura in Hollywood, if you're interested), but rather what I'm going to wear. Don't get me wrong, I've been thinking about what songs to play and I've been practicing too, but there's talk of videographers, photographers and the like coming tomorrow, and I know it takes effort to make me look good on camera. And even after putting in all that effort, I probably won't look particularly stunning.

It used to bother me. A lot. Why was it that given the same lighting, photographer, even poses, my friends would look like movie stars and I would look like a shiny potato? Why did I look so boxy? So wide? So (dare I say it?) fat? And all while everyone else looked pretty? I didn't like showing people my school photos when I was younger, because even though everyone swore that I looked like me, that didn't change what those pictures looked like. I knew I wasn't horrendous looking, but according to my pictures, I wasn't beautiful either.

I rarely felt beautiful. I take that back, I think I felt beautiful quite a bit (it's difficult to love dancing and not feel beautiful doing it), but I never thought of myself as beautiful. I was more tan than my friends, had darker hair and eyes. I was shorter and not as elegantly built. I was obviously different (and probably a little self-involved and irritating, but that's beside the point), and I was very aware of all this. Especially when people picked (what I considered) prettier, more glamorous people to play with. Comparison--the downfall of many a young girl. Throw on top of that the fact that there seemed to be photographic evidence that I was actually an oiled spud in a wig, and it almost surprises me that I'm not more concerned about my looks now. Almost.

At some point, it struck me that we write our own stories. And if that was the case, I was the heroine of mine. And if I was the heroine, I could describe myself in terms that made me sound heroic. Or beautiful. My hair could be "dark as night" instead of "black as coal". My eyes could be warm like melted chocolate instead of muddy like dirt. My skin could be bronze, no gold! My big legs could be the source of my power...And then I realized, these were all just words. All of them--the positive and the negative--were mere words.

It didn't matter what words I used to describe me--they didn't change what I was. And they certainly didn't dictate what I could do. These words couldn't change the way I was built or the sound of my voice or the shape of my face. These words couldn't tell me how fast I could run or how high I could sing or how much knowledge I could stuff into my brain. We pick the words to describe ourselves or we let others pick them for us, but either way, they are merely words. And so, my concerns shifted from labeling myself to being who I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do.

I danced. I wrote songs. I sang. I hung out with friends. I started a band. I sewed. I welded. I went to school. I did whatever. It was great. It was experience. It was living. And it made me feel beautiful. But I still  never thought of  myself as beautiful. Why? Because despite everything I could do and all my confidence in my capabilities, there were still those pictures that would show up on Facebook that made me go, "Are my arms really that big? What's with my upper lip when I smile? Why is my hair such a mess? Look at how uneven my skin tone is! Oh my gosh! I should never let anyone photograph me ever again! Blah." I guess I'm one for evidence.

Recently, however, I realized that the evidence could be flawed. And it's not a matter of "inner beauty" outshining "outer beauty" or of a good personality being more important than good looks. It's a matter of what a picture can capture. A photo is amazing, but it is only an impression of an instant in time. More, it's only an impression with one eye of an instant in time. Details get lost, depth is gone and all of the movements surrounding that one instant are forgotten. If you don't reflect the light in a flattering way when the shutter closes, it doesn't matter what you were doing before and after, you won't look attractive in that picture.

That doesn't mean that you aren't ever attractive. It doesn't mean that you aren't beautiful. It means that in that moment, your lines weren't attractive or the lighting was bad or the camera was at an unflattering angle. It means that for an instant, from a certain point of view, with one eye closed under a harsh light, you look like a Yukon Gold.

But all those other moments? Or all of those moments strung together? Or from a different angle? Under different lights? The transitions from one picture to the next? The smiles in between the flashes? The way you walk? The way your laugh chimes? The way you smell of vanilla after baking? Though they aren't captured in a photograph, are they not beautiful?

And so, I've come to this conclusion: It is not impossible to capture beauty in a picture, but just because I don't look beautiful in a picture does not mean that I am not beautiful. It means I'm not photogenic (which fuels my current debate on what to wear tomorrow) but it doesn't mean that I'm not beautiful. That being said, just because I'm not photogenic doesn't mean that I am beautiful, but I think the measure of one's beauty--physical, spiritual or mental--requires more thought, observation, emotion and trust than a single photograph can provide. Pictures, much like the words my pre-teen self attempted to define myself by, do not change what is actually there. Beauty simply is, and the words we ascribe to it and the pictures we take of it, no matter how flattering or unflattering, do not change whether something is beautiful or not.

So, as I rummage through my closet and drawers, make faces in the mirror and ruffle my hair, I find myself singing, dancing, smiling and being utterly ridiculous. And feeling beautiful. And knowing that while I can try to up the odds that I'll look nice in at least one picture tomorrow night, that picture (and all of the not so flattering pictures, too) does not define me or what I do, and does not decide whether or not I am really beautiful.

Be bold.

R