So happy I could die

Rock musician Bif Naked has just released Bif Naked Forever, her first new album in three years. The lead-off song is called "So Happy I Could Die."

I totally understand that. Don't worry. I have no plans to check out. As bad as things have sometimes got for me, and as overwhelmed as I get occasionally, I've never been inclined that way (some parts of Catholic upbringing stick with you, like it or not).

I also want a lot more life. I have plans. I have dreams. I'm not nearly done. Much still to do.

But if my life were to end right now? I would not feel ripped off. I have come through some nasty shit, but at this point I am very, very fortunate. I am thankful for everyone and everything in my life, even my painful elbow (could it really be getting better?). For 31 years, I have loved and been loved by an amazing person who still makes me laugh every day. I have incredible friends, people I love and cherish, people who can count on me and whom I can count on. I have a good, seemingly stable job. I play in a band with some of my favourite people in the world. We make such wonderful sounds! (Shameless plug here—I don't do shame anymore.) I have a kitty with the softest fur in the world who likes to keep my lap warm.

I love all this, but if I were suddenly, or even over time, to cease to exist, I couldn't complain.

It's funny. This morning, some Bible people came to the door. I don't think they were Jehovah's witnesses. Probably just from one of the local Bible-based churches. I had a pleasant discussion with the young man who was the speaker. He probably doesn't meet too many scientifically minded Wiccans, especially not one standing at the doorway in her dressing gown (ring my bell and take your chances!). I gently ran rings around him logically. Like, when he asked how I knew that the Bible didn't come from god, I asked him how he knew that the Bhagavad Gita didn't come from god. And I said that while I could understand the appeal of wanting to live forever, I saw no reason to think that was so.

When I'm gone, I'm gone. If I may, I'll stick around for a while longer. But when the time comes, that's OK.


Breaking down, holding on

A weird thing is happening. Part of me is losing control. And part of me is simultaneously analyzing why it might be happening. I seem to be having half a nervous breakdown. The analytical part won't let me really do it. It's too busy analyzing.

It started after the gig on Thursday. We had a really good show, probably our best show to date and certainly the most fun. I love to play anyway, but it's definitely even more fun when you have an appreciative audience. I so appreciate that! But after a gig, there is post-gig time. It's a bit like Linus from Peanuts having "post-Christmas letdown." You have to get back to real life.

And real life is, well, real life. It's great to decide that the path you've been wandering around on, the one you love, is really your career path. It's another thing to make it work. Meanwhile, bills must be paid.

I was fine on Friday, as I recall. It felt like a Saturday, and that was cool. But on Saturday, I had one of those uncontrollable crying days. Not all day. But it kept happening. Part of the reason, maybe most of the reason that day, was that we published a couple of band photos online. I am happy that my band mates are so photogenic. That's good for the band! And frankly good for them. Unfortunately, I'm not so photogenic. And that's hard.

I know, I know. I'm a feminist. I'm not supposed to give such importance to my physical appearance. I should be proud of who I am and what I can do, and not be bummed at what I look like. Everyone gets old, and so far I don't look my age. But my inner high school girl doesn't listen to reason. And sometimes she gets hold of my emotions and my tear ducts.

I seemed to have shaken that off. I was fine yesterday. But today, after a decent day at work, I was watching a documentary about Blondie on YouTube. It's quite good. But right about the point where Chris Stein gets sick, I started losing it again. I don't think it was directly related to the video. I knew I should get away from my computer and go to the gym. I knew I should have done any number of things. Except to collapse on the kitchen floor, which is what I did. And never make it to the gym.

And there was that weird thing. I was analyzing, but I couldn't stop what was going on.

I don't have a propensity for depression, except situational. But I don't truly know what's causing this. The stupid appearance thing is certainly part of it. My kitty is not about to go, but she's on the final stretch. We just don't know how long it will last. The bathroom reno has been a bit of an ordeal.

And maybe more than anything is the post-show letdown. It will be a while before we play another show, and probably until we practise, because people are busy. That means I need to take responsibility for my own musical-ness. I'm so much better at schlepping to practice, playing gigs, and even tweeting up a storm than I am at doing my own practising and, probably most importantly, writing. If I'm going to say I'm a musician, then I'd better be a musician. That means working at it.

I don't think I'm actually in danger of having a breakdown, although the recent incidents are of some concern. I'm probably more in danger of doing nothing. And doing nothing is the surest way for me to get even more depressed. That's not a cycle I want to fall into.


The beauty of age?

So, a career in music. A band. Writing songs. Maybe more.

At my age? Who am I trying to kid?

This is a serious concern. It's a concern for trying to work in fashion as well. I am a woman of a certain age. People my age who are in either business have been in the business for a long time. They aren't just starting out. It's an uphill climb to get into music or fashion anyway, but when you're older, the slope is even steeper.

If when you're an older woman? Jeebus.

Neil Young just turned 67. By all accounts (my record for never seeing Neil play live is sadly intact), he blew the roof off Rogers Arena. People paid big bucks to see this jowly old dude get all incendiary with a black Les Paul.

The Who are on tour. So is Sir Paul McCartney. And Bruce Springsteen. Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan are, or were, on tour. They're both in their 70s. And of course soon we'll have huge shows from the Rolling Stones.

Can you think of any female musicians in the same situation?

Admittedly, there were few women of that stature in their (my) generation. Janis died a long time ago. I don't think we'll see Grace Slick on tour. Has Joni Mitchell made any appearances recently?

Carole King will be touring next year. Diana Ross too. Those are points of hope. Both of them are well older than I am. Joan Jett, who is a little younger than I am and still going strong, will be touring. Emmylou Harris is still active, although country music has always been kinder to its aging stars than rock.

And every profession is kinder to aging men than to aging women. Especially professions in which women are held to a very different appearance standard than men are.

I am fortunate to look younger than my years. Even when someone gets my age wrong, though, they're not going to guess 20s or even 30s. Those days are behind me.

I love music. I am passionate about music. There are always obstacles. I just have to overcome them. Or die trying? You can't fail if you never quit!


Whither V-dizzle?

Just as I predicted, getting dressed and made up, moving gear (yes, in that order—we have not yet played in a club big enough to have a green room), and finally hitting the stage took me out of a meh day into what was probably Lisa's Hotcakes' best show, or at least our most fun one to date. Playing guitar and singing are what I do. I thrive on making music, especially on stage.

We might have a show on New Year's Eve eve [sic] in Portland. Still working that out. We know we will have one in mid-January. But December is going to be quiet. Our singer will be performing in a musical revue (which Sweetie and I will attend), and December is just busy for everyone. Some kind of gift-giving holiday.

I will be finishing up my Merchandising Fashion course in the first week of December. I have not signed up for a course next term. If I were intent on finishing the program as soon as possible, taking time off would be foolish. But there does not seem to be a layoff from my day job coming my way. And there's that other thing.

The band. And not just the band, but music.

All my life, I have said that I could not make a living in the music business. And I have listened to others tell me not to go that way. I have listened to people who would say, lots of people do music for fun and keep their jobs. And truly, there is nothing wrong with that.

Unless it's wrong for you.

Until recently, it was easy to listen to such assurances. My earlier bands were OK, sometimes pretty good, but nothing that special. They had at least a few of their 15 minutes of fame and that was it. I occasionally wrote good songs. But I did not have the confidence to think that I could be one of the few to make music work for me. Now I have a lot more confidence. I have learned a lot over the years, and especially recently. I work both harder and smarter at writing songs. I am exploring avenues other than only the band that I love. And that band is far beyond our earlier efforts. Maybe our maturity actually works in our favour.

I am finally starting to overcome that toughest barrier of all: the worry that I am just deluding myself. There are people everywhere who delude themselves into thinking they're artists. Sometimes they work hard, sometimes they don't. There are, of course, actual artists. And then there are the ones who wish they had talent but really don't, and they're kind of pathetic. For a long time, I thought that was me, and I definitely never want to be pathetic. And I thought I had come to terms with it. But I never did. And maybe, just maybe, I was wrong all along.

It has taken me a long time to reach this point. And I don't feel confident about it every day. I have plenty of doubts. I have not and shall not quit my day job, the one that pays for things like studio time and musical instruments. Not yet anyway. But I have some focus now. I have to move fashion aside for the nonce. I have some songs to write. I have some learnin' to do, and not in school. And I have a band to get behind.

I hesitate to say "this is it." I'm afraid that over the course of my life, I have started many things that I did not finish. I don't have a good attention span. I have never been good at stick-to-itiveness. I lack discipline. But unlike other things, music has been with me all of my life. So maybe the reason I have started and dropped so many other things is that they just weren't right for me. And that music, which grabbed me early and has never let me go, is finally going to get its due.



Lisa's Hotcakes has a gig tonight. I don't usually get nervous about gigs anymore, but this one has me feeling a little nervous. We played a couple of weeks ago at a show that was basically some friends' band's show. Very low key for us. We had fun. This show is ours. We booked the venue. We assembled the bill. We have promoted this thing up the wazoo. And the place we're playing is kind of a hipster club. Seriously, guys in fedoras! The club is nothing fancy, and it's not like we expect any influential people to show up, but no bands in Vancouver play out very often, so this feels pretty important.

I know that the loading in and setting up will knock out some of the butterflies. And once we get on stage, I will feel differently. I will be on! A drink beforehand won't hurt. But really, it's being on stage, with my band, in front of people, that really makes everything OK. There's nowhere else I would rather be.

A lot of people have responded with a "yes" to our Facebook event. That doesn't mean very much. I click that I'm going to things, truly intending to, but sometimes stuff comes up and I don't make it. Still, I think we should have a good crowd, despite the fact that it is likely to be pouring rain (it's that time of year).

We're hoping we'll have some people there who have not seen us yet. And for those who have been faithful followers, we're introducing two new songs. Fun for us, fun for them! We have grown as a band since going through the studio recording process. These songs reflect that. Now if only I can make time to write more, we will keep on growing and getting better.

This will be our last show until next year. We all need December off for various and sundry reasons. That also makes it a big deal for us. We want this to be the best show ever! And to paraphrase Captain Picard, we will make it so.


Grow more, write more, suck more, succeed more

November is the cruellest month (pace T. S. Eliot). Or perhaps I should say Movember. As in men growing mustaches. Or moustaches. Or mustachios (my fave spelling—makes me think of the kind you twirl à la Snidely Whiplash). But really, just lip hair. Chin hair not allowed. So men go all Tom Sellick on us for a month to raise money for charity (I can't remember which). Who thought this was a good idea? I suppose there are some women who go for that mustache-only look, but I'm hard-pressed to think of any man who looks better that way than when shaven or sporting a beard (except a really long one). Fu-Manchu, guys? Go for it! I'll see you in December.

I always miss the memo on stuff. Like, apparently this month you're supposed to do Facebook updates with what you're thankful for each day. "Day 13: I am thankful that my kitty used her litter box." Actually, she didn't. She's in some distress due to various and sundry old-age conditions, and the basement is somewhat worse for wear because of it. But I'm thankful that she's still with us and still seemingly feeling OK, not in pain. Seriously, though, expressing gratitude for good things and (at least seemingly) bad things is a daily ritual for me. I just don't do it on Facebook.

November is also NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Someone came up with the notion that you're supposed to write an entire novel during November, working on it every day. I have no idea where this came from. There is all kinds of writing in me, but a novel is not among those kinds. Still, it's an exercise in writing discipline, and that's good.

This month is also NaBloWriMo, National Blog Writing Month, or something like that, which is there in case you missed NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, which happened last month. Still with me? I mean, seriously, who starts this stuff? During November (or October, depending on which memo you got), you're supposed to blog every day. Every. Effin. Day. Whether you have something to write or not. Whether what you write is good or not. Quantity, not quality, I guess. Again, I understand. It's about discipline. Writers write every day. That's how they produce novels. Blogs, however, are most definitely not novels. Some people are great at posting every day. Others would be better off not doing so. Like me.

"But Mr. Ed will never speak unless he has something to say." I take my cue from the talking horse. It's not about the Muse. It's not about waiting for lightning to strike. But I've tried grinding out stuff on a regular basis, and some of it is definitely not worth publishing. So I would not inflict it upon you.

What I really need is NaSoWriMo, National Song Writing Month. No, make that National Song Writing Year. That's where I need my discipline. I ought to sit down every day and write for some block of time. Preferably when awake and alert. I haven't got there yet. If I do so, I won't write a hit song every time. I might only write fragments. I might write nothing worth keeping. But it's like exercise. The more you do something, the more you improve. I have to dare to suck so I can also write things that don't suck. Or even the occasional mansion-warmer.

It's OK to start in the middle of a month, right? And not talk about it? Oops, too late!

Best wishes on your novels and blogs and mustaches!