The Longest Week

This week has been long.  People say that time is the same, and that there are the same number of days in a week every week, but those people are awful liers.  I think even my dog knows I’ve had a tough week, because she’s letting me lay on her right now while I’m typing on the laptop, and listening to Gillian Welch.  Girl’s best friend, indeed.

Yesterday was the WORST of the days this week.  I haven’t felt myself the past month or so anyway, but yesterday was bad.  The wind was terrible, but somehow, someone’s Christmas tree ended up in our front yard, propped neatly up against one of our trees.

Now, I’m not unreasonable.  Maybe the tree blew into the street, or someone’s driveway, and someone else thought it might be ours, so they put it in our yard.  One time, one of our tree branches fell into the street, and a neighbor dragged it into the driveway of another neighbor.  But when I saw it, I knew immediately it was from our tree, so I dragged it back to our house, chopped it up, and disposed of it.  Because it’s rude to leave a huge tree branch that’s yours in someone else’s yard.

But no one came to get their tree.

They just left it there, thinking we’d just dispose of it.  We knew whose tree it was too.  Because, you know, it’s almost February, so we noticed a Christmas tree out in front of someone’s house pretty quickly…

The rest of the day continued along these same lines.  People just being generally rude to each other, and being inconsiderate.  It overwhelmed me.  For some weird reason, despite the fact that the news reflects strongly the inhumanity of humans, I couldn’t believe people could be so mean.  The suburbs are weird and there is a psychological warfare in which I’m just not familiar.

Today feels better though.  Or, at least not as bad.  It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’ve got a little dog running and barking in her sleep under your head.

On a totally related note, I decided to give up my smartphone.  I argued with Zach about it almost the entire day yesterday, but I ultimately won.  I would like to be less connected, or at the very least, I would like to be less connected constantly.  The “constant” aspect is draining me.  Not to mention, smartphones are so expensive and sexy and addictive.  I don’t know if this will be a permanent move, but it’ll be my move for at least a couple years.  Zach will still have the smartphone, so it’s not like I’ll be suffering.  The first thing he asked when I said I wanted to go back to feature phones was, “But how will you get directions to places?”

It’s true, I heavily rely on my phone for it’s GPS qualities.  But, before I had a smartphone (around 4 years ago), I just looked it up beforehand, and if I got lost along the way, I got lost, and sometimes had to pull over in industrial complexes to pull out a [gasp!] real map.  I learned how to read maps VERY quickly that way.

But then again, I’m also the person who got on the wrong bus, A LOT, throughout my college days, never learned my lesson, and once had to hitchhike to a theatre because of a bad bus mistake.  So, it’s not like it’s the end of the world for me if I get lost…

And for the record, don’t hitchhike, kids.  It’s not safe.  I was lucky it was just a really awkward experience.

So aside from being more lost than usual, I can do without the extra tech.  I will still have a laptop.  I’m still studying computers.  I’ll longingly gaze into the shop windows at Apple, etc.  But it’s time to cut the chord.

Until next time.

Advertisements

My Thoughts on Tom Petty vs. Sam Smith

I’ve spent way too much time this morning thinking about this.  Up until yesterday, I had no idea who Sam Smith was, or what his song in question was.  Before you start jumping on my case that I live under a rock, don’t, I’m well aware.  I’m trying to not live under a rock.  But I’m really bad at listening to the radio, and I don’t really watch TV because I don’t have cable so I live online.  It’s really easy to be selective when you do that, because there’s SO MUCH SHIT.  I promise I’ll try harder from now on, because it’s just as important, as a music artist, to be aware of the contemporary popular pulse, as well as the lesser known murmur of the independent and “unknown” artists.

Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this.  I thought that if I listened to each song over and over again, and if I obnoxiously sang one song over the other, I would have gotten some sort of divine insight into the situation.  Not true at all.

I love Tom Petty.  Like, I’m pretty sure I’m absolutely in love with his music.  I want to marry his music and have its babies, etc.  But when I heard he was suing another artist over copyright infringement, I reacted, “Okay, let’s hear this other song.”

I’m not an idiot.  I can hear the same chord progressions with the chorus, just as I’m sure Smith and his people heard.  That, however, is not my issue.  I don’t hear Petty’s song in Smith’s.  One does not remind me of the other.  It’s not like the obvious, and also hilarious Vanilla Ice debacle with “Ice, Ice Baby.”  Smith was clearly not trying to imitate the sound of Petty’s song.  They emotionally sound different.  The only thing that’s the same, is that little fucking chord progression that is used to emphasize parts of their songs.

So my question, ultimately, is: what made them decide that this particular chord progression was Tom Petty’s?  Or, was there something else that made them decide that I just can’t see?

Every chord, and every progression has already been written.  Not only that, but basically every rock song ever uses the same three chords.

I’m not a copyright lawyer, but it fascinates me.  It also terrifies me because there is no clear law on the subject.  I think we’re getting closer to having clearer laws on it, but we’re not quite there.  Because of this, every lawsuit varies in the judgement.  There are plenty of “Sam Smiths” that win.

Several years ago, I released the copyright to a song of mine on an artist website (the owner of the site owns the copyright now).  I loved that song.  Everyone loved hearing it at shows.  You could say it was my “coffeehouse hit.”  But, after playing it for years, and nothing really happening with it, I decided to release it to the world.  Someone else can create with it.  They can do whatever they want with it.  Maybe they will make it weirder, or prettier.  I don’t know, but what I did know at the time, was that art is made to go into the world and inspire other art.

I don’t think artists should take advantage of other artists.  If you worked hard on something, someone shouldn’t be allowed to steal it from you.  I understand that.  I got super pissy when someone didn’t credit footage I shot that they used in their film in a film class I took.  However, I think the game of claims on music is a bit out of control.  I already think copyright is held way too long (it used to be 28 years, now it’s over 70!) and that inhibits the creative flow.

For the record, I think both songs are quite lovely.  And I honestly don’t know what the “right” answer is.  Perhaps there is none.

So basically, Tom Petty, I hope you know what you’re doing.

Until next time.

It’s Basically Summer Now

So, this morning, I was snuggling the dogs on the couch and Zach and I were talking about how the weather was starting to get a little warmer.  I look to one of my dogs and say softly, “It’s almost summer!”  Zach laughs hysterically.  “It’s the middle of January!”  He points out.  Why?  Why did he have to ruin my thoughts with 2 more months of winter?

30 degrees in the morning is a heat wave right now.  There is no snow in the forecast for a while that I can tell.  It’ll be in the 60’s tomorrow.  That’s basically summer for me, since we’ve had temperatures in the teens and 20’s, and just enough snow to make everything icy and muddy.  Not to mention, it wasn’t sunny for several days in a row (which is unheard of in Colorado) and it made me super low on energy and sad.  I could never cut it in Seattle.

With the nice weather, we’ve also made some house plans (and life plans).  We’re refinishing and painting our table this weekend, and even fixing our garage door that doesn’t seem to really want to open or shut right now.  We’ve also started planning out our [initial] kitchen renovation.  Basically, we’re giving it a facelift with the cabinets, counters, and new paint on the walls.  There’s a hundred other things we’d like to do with it as well, but for now, this will have to do.  In addition to the kitchen plans, we’ve started mapping out the yard renovations.  We have a better idea of what needs to be done, and we’ve figured out how to make it happen.

Of course, I’ll post pictures and whatnot of everything, in case anyone is curious or is considering venturing off into the reno-land.  You can blame my recent increase in watching PBS lately to my motivation.

But that’s not all we’ve been up to.  Zach and I added a joint, bonus New Year’s resolution to our lists: a year of decadence.  How are we doing that?  We  are picking a country every month, and every Saturday night during that month, we make a meal in the style of a typical dish for that country.  Yes, we.  Zach has been helping, learning, and being very involved in the kitchen.  It’s a lot of fun!  You may be thinking that this really isn’t decadence as much as say, culinary experimentation.  The reason I say decadence, is because we do the whole experience with the meal.  We pair the dish with wine.  We come up with a dessert (although I dropped the ball last weekend).  We try to come up with multiple courses.  We use our bone china.  And we also get to learn a lot about different cultures, and different techniques to cooking.  It isn’t about making things easier, simpler, economic, less time-consuming, or even healthier.  It’s about the experience.  Besides, we know we’re not taking a trip to any of these places any time soon, so this is the next best thing.

So what’s the country for January?  Italy!

I actually never realized how amazing Italian food can be, and how versatile it is.  I didn’t even realize there was another flavor besides marinara sauce in a jar.  I’d like to share last weekend’s recipe.

Chicken and Penne with Mozzarella Cream Sauce
(adapted from Julia’s Album)

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup of mozzarella cheese (we used a log and cut it up)
1 cup heavy cream or half and half (we used the heavy cream)
1/2 lbs chicken breast tenders
1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (ours was about 6 oz)
8-12 oz of penne pasta (we used 12 oz of gluten free Bionaturae pasta)
3-5 cloves of garlic
1 TBSP dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Salt
Paprika
Shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat large skillet on medium-high heat (we used our large cast-iron skillet) and pour the jar of sun-dried tomatoes with the oil into the skillet (this is what we did because there wasn’t a lot of oil in the jar – if there’s a ton of oil, drain the tomatoes and just add a couple tablespoons so it’s not too greasy).  You want to cook them until there’s a bit of char on the tomatoes.

While doing this, wash and season the chicken with salt and paprika on both sides.  I covered each side with paprika, but you can add as little or as much as you want, it’s just for color.  Cook the pasta to where it’s just underdone – save some water from the pot and drain the pasta and rinse with cool water so it stops cooking.

Remove the tomatoes from the pan when they’re done, turn down to medium heat and add the chicken.  These will be pan roasted, so  you want a little bit of color on both sides.  Don’t burn the chicken, just get some nice color.

Add the cream to the pan and reduce heat to low.  Add the tomatoes back in and slowly add in the cheese, stirring often to combine.  Add the chopped garlic (we add the garlic late to retain the flavor, ease digestion and not leave it burned).  When the sauce is creamy, add the pasta, basil and red pepper flakes.  Salt to taste.  Bring the skillet to a simmer, and add the pasta water, slowly, as needed (you do not need to add all or any if needed).  I let my dish simmer for 5 or so minutes until everything was well combined, cooked, and creamy.  Add shredded parmesan and serve.

Pairs nicely with Chardonnay.  We drank one from Coppola’s Director’s line.  We also served oven roasted carrots with drizzled olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary.

 

It’s a Long Road, But it’s a Fun Road

I think, at least for the next few months, I’m going to shave down my posting to once or twice a week.  I have a lot of classes starting soon, and I’m doing lessons to prep for those/to do in conjunction, and not to even mention projects, so my plate is quickly filling up.  Besides that, I’m trying to focus on other kinds of writing in the non-blogger realm.  I hope the one or two posts will be exciting-ish, or they will be bad movie reviews.  Either way, I’ll try and keep some sort of act going here.  I have a feeling that 2015 may be the year in which I order a lot of takeout.

I find myself recoiling into a shell, which often happens when I feel overwhelmed by things.  Last time, I got rid of Facebook (which I still have absolutely no regrets or inclinations to go back).  So maybe it’s not always so bad to recoil.  Either way, I feel like the luckiest person alive to have such a wonderful husband (like, seriously, the best, you should all be jealous) and awesome friends, who, if nothing else, make me laugh and allow me to blow off steam (and don’t judge the second or third alcoholic beverage in my hand).  Oh!  Booze!  That reminds me.  I’ve been watching these delightfully quirky videos by a lady named Marissa A. Ross and she talks about wine.  I linked to her YouTube channel, if anyone cares to know more about cheap wine or wants to watch something while drinking cheap wine.  And by cheap, I mean, not crappy, but also not like, overly priced wine (which I tend not to be super into).  I mean, who can afford to buy $100 bottles of wine?  Not me.

So, you know that book, Eat, Pray, Love?  You know the first part of the book, in Italy, she goes crazy with her bad eating habits and it’s all about decadence.  Actually, I never read past that part.  I figured the eating part was good enough for me.  And I’m definitely going through a similar experience.  Except instead of fine Italian cuisine, it’s cheap wine and way too many carbs from like, crappy pizza and delicious pancakes.  I can’t afford to go to Italy, otherwise, I totally would eat everything there.  I think the reason for my New Year’s “anti-resolutions” is because my food allergies haven’t been super bad, except on the raw vegetable front (I seriously get sick looking at salads right now – lettuce is my enemy).  But even with raw vegetables, I’ve been slowly trying to get those to work again, and I seem to be able to handle it a little better, at least.  Since I don’t have terrible allergic reactions to eating out anymore, I’ve been going crazy, and wanting to try everything.  I’m going through a decadence year, don’t judge.

I think I got off on a rant, so I’ll just end now.  I honestly started writing this with stress tears in my eyes, and after thinking about food and wine for a while, I feel better.  That’s bad, isn’t it?  Shh, I don’t want to know…

Until next time.

 

Cookies for Breakfast are Fine

A post on a Saturday?  What?  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “wow, I can’t believe she found time to post on a weekend, because she’s so busy and popular.”

No?  Fine, you’re mean.

Actually, I’m still in my pjs, I ate cookies for breakfast, and I’m just a little bored.  Normally, I look forward to Saturdays because we go out and look around town and play with the dogs.  Right now, the dogs are sleeping on my feet on the couch.  Alas, Zach is out playing hockey.  I would have gone, but it is an all-day event, in the snow, and I’d have to hang out by myself with smelly hockey players.  Not exactly ideal.  If I’m going to hang out alone all day, I’d rather be warm and with my dogs.

It’s probably a good thing I have a day off.  Things have been getting tense around my home lately.  I hope it’s not an indication of the entire year (I doubt it), but still, it’s something that has to be dealt with.  It sucks that half the winter vacation will be spent away from Zach (hockey and skiing with family), but sometimes life gets in the way.

I talked with my sister yesterday, and she thinks that her dad only has a few days left to live, so she’s been extra sad lately.  He’s been fighting a brain tumor for over a year, and lately, he hasn’t been doing too well.  It has made all the holidays really hard on most people.  Even though he wasn’t MY dad, he was there for all my major life events (including my birth and wedding).  We went on trips with him every year, and he’d visit all the time.  My brother and I even took a road trip with him and HIS mother – a kind of family/last-trip-for-grandma trip.  To be honest, I was closer to him than almost all of my extended “blood” relatives.  And while we differed and bumped heads a lot (I was an artist, and he didn’t like that a ton), he still loved me and tried to understand.  That’s all that matters, right?

But my fond memories are nothing compared to the relationship my sister has with him.  Not only did they have passionate fights and bumped heads on 80% of everything, I doubt you could find a father and daughter that loved each other more.  They not only fought each other, they fought FOR each other.  It takes a really special kind of love to love someone unconditionally that is harder to love.  I know it will be hard on my sister, because she will be losing her biggest rock in life.

I don’t think I’m the best person at dealing with death either.  At my grandpa’s funeral, I felt like I was on the outside of something, looking in.  It felt surreal.  I felt bad for my grandma.  And I didn’t know anyone there.  I mean, yes, I was related to them and might have known them at some point, but I didn’t really KNOW anyone.  Also, funerals are a terrible backdrop for family reunions.  When my friend Jhade passed, I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I just miss her a lot (I’ve almost sent her number text messages multiple times, including these recent holidays).  And right now, I’m dreading every time my phone rings, because I’m going to get “the call.”

So, despite all the best efforts, there is a feeling of being in limbo still.  There are aspects of 2014 still holding on.  All I can do is just to try and push forward, while at the same time, handling the bits and pieces being thrown at me.

If I managed to depress you on your Saturday, I guess I’m sorry, but why are you reading sad blogs on Saturday?!  Just kidding.  I needed to vent out a little bit of sadness, because it has been giving me crippling anxiety lately.  It makes me feel isolated and alone.

Ugh, now that I’m naked and you’ve seen my insides, I will go now and do something productive or at least happy on this Saturday.

Until next time.



'”Be thankful for the bad things in life. For they opened your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before.”

– Jim Henson

 

New Year’s Resolutions: 2015 Edition

Happy New Year, everyone!

I wish I could say I did something really awesome to say goodbye to the old year, but I didn’t really.  We listened to music, I wanted to go to bed at 8pm, but Zach convinced me to stay up until midnight.  We talked about 2014, our regrets, the things we thought we did right, and we talked about our plans for the New Year.  But seriously, I was so tired, I wished like, at least 5 people a “Happy new ear” via text on accident.

Really, our only real regret was letting 2014 lose steam so early in the game.  I did so much in the first 3 months, and then it petered out, until I became murky and stagnant.  However, as with most things, it wasn’t all bad.  During the “murky months,” we became a lot closer to some of our friends, which was something we not only really wanted (and had been sad about for a long time), but it was something we really needed.  So, in that regards, it wasn’t quite the loss we initially thought.

This morning, we rolled out of bed at a fairly reasonable time, and made it to our favorite breakfast spot.  There we were, looking as tired as all those hungover adults and cranky kids trying to wake their brains with chocolate and caffeine, yet we got a proper amount of sleep, and drank zero alcoholic beverages.  We’re losing it.

I thought I’d share my New Year’s resolutions with everyone.  When making my list, I tried to think of ways to help creativity flow and I thought of Ben Franklin’s policy of always doing something that will better oneself.  So, here it is:

1. Read 7 books – 4 fiction, 3 non-fiction.  
Yes, I broke it down into categories.  Because sometimes I’ll just go through periods where I only read biographies or non-fiction, and that’s not exactly helping with the creativity flow.  Balance, is key.  Why 7?  I don’t know.  I thought the number was nice, it’s not overwhelming, and gives me room for a break, or time to linger on a story I may really like.  I’m not one to blast through stories.

2. Go somewhere I’ve never been.
It’s vague, but it’s something that’s always on the list.  We tried to plan a road trip at breakfast, but there’s just too much up in the air right now.  Either way, I will be going to a geographical place that I’ve never been to.

3. Go to a concert of someone I’ve never heard before.
Opening acts don’t count.

4. Meet someone new.  
Hopefully it won’t be at someone’s wedding, but hey, an introvert can’t be picky.

5. Rebuild the Auto Harp.
I tried to do this last year, but we couldn’t swing it financially.  It’s going to cost almost as much as buying a new one (that’s if I fix it myself), but I made a promise that I intend to keep, and it’s a family thing.  Besides, I can’t let an instrument just go to waste like that.  It needs to be played!

6. Visit the record store at least once a month.
A really fun resolution.  We hardly got any new music last year, and that’s a shame.  Gillian Welch was my only discovery in 2014 (but, oh, WHAT a discovery!) because of my songwriting class.  Maybe I’ll discover new things there, maybe I’ll just pad my collection – who knows?

7. Learn to crochet.
A sort of Ben Franklin one.  I tried last year, but I didn’t follow through.  In my defence, the only reason I wanted to learn then, was for reasons that don’t exist now.  Now, I just want to for fun.  Now that it’s on the list, I think there might be a scarf in someone’s future.

8. Take an art class.
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but was always too shy to.  I haven’t decided what kind of art class, but we shall see!

9. Use my Bolex.
I think it’s getting dusty at this point.  I still have to develop the last roll I shot (which is still in the camera).  My last use of it was for a project that went horribly, horribly wrong, ruined a friendship (not my doing!) and made me bitter.  Temporarily, at least.  I also gained new, wonderful friends, which washed away the bitterness.  Either way, let’s see if I still know how to load that thing.

10. Take at least 1 non-dog picture a day.
Yep, I had to stipulate what kind of pictures.  Looking back, I realized I hardly had any pictures of myself, selfie or otherwise.  This is a selfie culture, and apparently I’m an anarchist against it.  Actually, I like the idea of selfies, and people deciding how they want to be seen by others.  I know a lot of people are weird about it and think it’s all narcissism (maybe it is sometimes) but people are weird and haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

Welp, that’s it.  Nothing is career-related in this list, because I have a whole separate one for that.  It was too long, and if I only think about career stuff all year, I’ll become boring and cranky.

Until next time.