Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding the Beat

I've been singing and performing since I was teeny-tiny. It was just something I always dug, whether it was a performance in my shower, in my mom's van, in front of the fireplace, at church (as a kid), or on a stage--once I got the bug I was hooked. Call it a middle-child phenomena, but I felt a strong draw to do stuff in front of people that would later be rewarded with applause. This carried over into sports, dance, competative speech, vocal performances, and later as a teen and young adult into being in a band.
I first decided I wanted to be in a band when my 14 year old ears heard Veruca Salt pumping through the audio system of my friend's cool older sister's car. I knew right then that being in a band was the shit and I needed to make it happen. So yeah--just start a band right? No problem right? WRONG.
The dilema was as follows: I only played violin (which is really hard to play and sing at the same time) and the only guitar players I knew were boys. Did any of these said boys want to be in a band with a chick singer? They did not. They wanted to sound like Metalica.

And so it began. Frustrated by this initial setback, I decided if no one would play guitar for me, I would be my own hero and learn. Peice of cake right? Wrong. I begged my dad to hook me up with an acoustic I could practice on. This request was met with a big fat no, seeing as how most of my siblings had tried their hands at various instruments only to later discard them. My parents had an awesome collection of unplayed instruments going and were not about to add to the pile.

So I did what any poor teen would do--begged, borrowed and stole (not really). I borrowed a friend's guitar and learned some basic chords. I learned that D,C,A,and E could get you pretty far. After a year of borrowing from a friend, my dad finally came around and bought me some yard sale find. I practiced on that thing constantly, finding the chord--then singing a line, the pausing to find the next chord and singing the next line. It was a slow and frustrating process which made me like it even more. I WILL tackle this.

I wrote some songs with the help of my ex-boyfriend (a brilliant writer and poet). I started playing some open mics at local bars (I was under 21 but most let me in just to play), and coffee shops in town.

I recorded these songs for free with some recording engineer students at college. Upon hearing my project, the recording teacher asked to record me. Things were looking up.
I jammed for awhile with a female bass player, an awesome classical guitarist, and the recording teacher as my drummer. It just made me thirsty for more. The group was fun and interesting but no one wanted to call it a "band". This frustrated me.

Enter Rachel. I had a super awesome bud named Rachel who also played acoustic guitar at a local coffee shop in town. We would sometimes sing backup for each other at these open mics. Finally, a kindred spirit! Another girl who plays music and writes music and is constantly compared to Jewel just because no one can think of any other singer/songwriters to compare you to!

We decided over Christmas break one year to make a go of it and start a band. Since Rachel knew more chords than me on guitar, I was the designated bass player. Rachel's roommate had owned a bass for awhile and never learned to play it (I think this was where our bass came from?). Alice was born. We started writing songs that made us laugh. Then we started writing some seriously artistic stuff. We got an awesome drummer.

We continued to play at bars and outdoor shows and small festivals. We got better. And during all this time, I graduated, got a "real" job, got married, got pregnant, moved an hour away. Rachel got sick of hicktown MO and finally decided to hit the road with her man and move to Eugene OR. And Alice went on a hiatus.

So now that things are settling down a bit with the baby and I'm trying to find my own beat again, where does it all leave me musically? My goal was never to be famous. I always knew music would be a part of me forever and fanticized about singing jazz in my 50's and 60's. I always felt that it would be there for me whenever I needed it.

But you know what? I miss it. I don't just miss playing, I miss the stage. I miss performing. I miss being challenged creatively and collaborating. I miss Rachel and I miss Alice.

So where does this leave me? I guess I can always wait until Everleigh's old enough to play and start a band with her :P There's no real point to this. I'm just really greiving the loss of something that was never mine to own in the first place. Maybe it's time to blow the dust off the baby Martin and grab a new song by the short and curlies.
PS: You can check out my old band Alice here:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reality TV

Let me just say that I have a real love-hate relationship with reality TV and frankly with TV in general. As a weirdo child, my parents had strict TV rules: no TV at all during the week (weekends were our only TV time). And when we were allowed to watch, what we watched was closely monitored, like excessively. I remember getting in trouble for watching Beverly Hills 90210 and even My So Called Life. My mom actually told me she didn't like the way the Claire Danes character talked to her mother :)

This is all kind of hilarious to me now since my parents have a billion channels and could care less what programming anyone watches. Sigh.

After declaring independence at the age of 19 and moving into a dank and weird apartment for old people and super ghetto white T folks, I quickly learned that I couldn't afford cable even if I wanted it. Hell, I barely afford to bathe every day. I swear to god, my boyfriend and I used to take baths together to conserve water. Gross and wrong.

But yeah. I actually think when we first moved into the apartment we had no bed, no couch, no working TV. So we became anti-TV, partly out of necessity, and partly to feel superior to everyone else we knew :)

And you know what? I really didn't miss it that much. After a hard day of work or school, instead of collapsing on the couch and watching the boob tube, I collapsed onto our hot pink bean bag chair and played guitar or worked on a home-project like covering all our ugly old cabinets with pages from a 60's science book.

Fast forward to today: I still have never bought cable since moving out on my own. Although, I do get several channels from the whole digital TV thing. Without having all the really good channels to watch shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad and so on (I can always Netflix them!) I have been forced to occasionally (ok, all the time) indulge in some TV bottom-feeding. I have gotten hooked on watching BS reality TV. Of course I try to always watch with an heir of superiority--"can you believe she's wearing that?" "why would she expect to find a husband out of these knuckleheads", etc., it speaks to me.

I conducted research in college on how reality TV skews our view of reality. But it's so true.
Anyways, the whole reason for this post was that my parents were over the other night and the TV was on. I've recently noticed that every time they watch TV now, they both constantly comment on the believability or "realism" if you will, of the shows. They are especially fond of doing this with cop shows, but any show will do. They watch and say things like, "oh, I'm really sure the crime scene investigators would also be the ones conducting the interviews". And I'm thinking--we all know this is fake right? I mean, I highly doubt the entire CSI team in Florida is comprised of super good-looking sexy scientist/cops too, but we all know that right? Now I'm noticing that they do it all the time, with practically every show. As if the purpose of TV-- reality show or no--was to simply capture the true, everyday lives and work processes we all experience.

Thank goodness we have people like the Bachelorette and Big Brother to remind us that no one wants to see "reality" when they turn on the tube. I wouldn't watch a show about a girl in her late-twenties who works 40 hours a week at a boring job for which she is grossly underpaid, then goes home and plays with her baby. And occasionally does something fun. Would you?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dear Everleigh (3 Months!)

Dear Everleigh,

Today you are 3 months old and you are crying less and less each day. This is awesome, because I feel like we've gotten so used to the crying and trying to attend to your needs, that we've missed out a little bit on getting to know you.

And you are proving to be quite the character. You've started smiling at us now, and it feel amazing. I know these last few months have been tough with your colic, and I'm so thrilled when you smile and seem truly happy.

You are holding your head up so well, and you like to be upright. You look at us like you have so much to say, and just can't say it yet. We get excited talking about all the things we'll be able to do as a family--vacations and road trips and camping and hikes. That will all come with time. For now, we're so happy that the storm has cleared and you're a happy baby.

Also this month? You've decided you like your binkie and will take a bottle. Hallelujah. Ev, you're one heck of a gal. Can't wait to see what's next!



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mr. Mom and the Stay-At-Home Dads

The phenomena of the Stay-At-Home-Dad was captured in the 1983 film, "Mr. Mom" as a father loses his high paying job and then struggles to fill his wife's shoes when she receives a job offer and returns to work. While it's a cute depiction of how the typical man might feel being "stuck at home" with the kids, it's funny how in the end the dad gets his job back and returns to work having learned his lesson about appreciating his wife and kids more, etc.

But what about REAL stay at home dads? What is their often untold experience? How do they really feel about their wives paying the bills, about telling others in public what they do, about forming an extra special close bond with baby that most dads miss out on?

I don't know all the answers to these questions. But I can you my experience as the wife of a stay at home dad.

When my husband and I decided to try for a little bambino, we thought it would take awhile to get pregnant, then awhile to grow this little bean in my belly, and that our circumstances would likely change many times between then and when baby was born. When I got pregnant, my husband and I were both full time students, and I was also working full time. We envisioned that I would graduate with my MA, step into a sweet new job, and that my hubby would keep on going with school (while working part-time) and then graduate a couple years later, get a great job, make bank, and we would be doing awesome. At that point, I could be a stay at home mom if we wanted or see how things shook out.

Reality check? My hubby looked for part time work the whole time I was pregnant and couldn't find jack. I didn't get the raise I was up for, and after graduation I couldn't find a job in my field. i still haven't received so much as an interview from one of the 20+ applications/resume's I've sent out. My maternity leave was super short and primarily unpaid, and I headed back to work exhausted and poor. Then 3 weeks later, my husband's classes started again at school.

I know he's had mixed feelings off an on about our situation. He thinks it's awesome that he gets to spend more time with our girl than your average daddy, and hopes that connection with create the foundation for an amazingly tight lifelong bond. However, I think he struggles with sometimes asking me for beer money or checking with me before he signs on to participate in an opportunity at school that would interfere with the baby's schedule/my work schedule.

On my end, I've struggled with being jealous that my husband gets to spend so much of this critical time with our little one while I'm slugging it out at my less-than-thrilling job for which I am brutally underpaid. I get a little miffed when I return from a day at work to a crying baby (evenings are still kind of "melt-down" time for her) and don't get to eat dinner until she's asleep at 8. It's tough for sure and mommy-burnout is common for new moms but i think especially for working moms and maybe even more so for bread-winning working moms.

But you know what? I'm still so happy that I have an amazing and talented husband who loved me enough to A) have a child with me even though he wasn't 100% sure/on-board at first and B) loves her so much and has enough scheduling flexibility to watch her most days while I work. The way he engages with her is so incredible to watch. He really tries to get to know her as a person, and the way her eyes light up when he's around is worth all the money in the world.

Maybe some day we'll strike it rich, or at least score the jobs we want and so on. Until then, I love my stay-at-home husband!