Sunday, December 30, 2012

Working Retail

WOW, I can't believe it's been nearly a week since I last posted. How does anyone get anything done with a 9-5 job? I can't seem to and I can't understand how it's possible either.

Working retail over the holidays has sucked all my time an energy to the point that I wake up, work out, get ready, eat my breakfast shake in the car, work, go home, check emails, eat dinner, do research on something until falling asleep and doing the whole thing over again.

Let me say I am so glad this is not my life. I've done it prior to this holiday and it just gets worse as I age. So glad that my chosen profession is music, which provides variable working hours, and free time to work as you wish, and days off to switch around your schedule, and continuous inspiration for your mind, body and soul! How lucky I am :-)

However, I am very behind from my days of retail. Still trying to get everything organized in my head and on paper so I don't forget what I previously organized. Most of this plan is working, so that is a plus!

More updates will come later, when I don't have a dozen tabs open, papers strewn about the table, and my calendar on my lap.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The music of my life

Since I'm a musician for my livelihood primarily, I figured that some of you out there would like an update as to the music status of my life.

Currently, since the cruise industry is petering out on the string group realm, I'm revamping my efforts and heading a different direction. No, I'm not quitting cruise ships. There will still be lots of stories, lots of pictures, and lots of exciting, fun, and entertaining adventures. But just not yet.

I'm currently making ends meet here on land performing with the Arkansas Symphony in Little Rock and staying with friends.

That is, except for this month. This month I'm working at a retail store in Texas that I have worked for in previous years during the holiday season. Turns out they really needed me this year so it's been nice to have been a blessing to them and to be able to help them out during their time of need.

However, despite all warm and fuzzy feelings, I'm working in the retail business hours a day and that leaves very little time to work on my new venture.

I'm really looking forward to the middle of January when I'll be back out on the road again, staying at hotels and performing with the symphony. It will give me the time I need to really buckle down and work on this new project.

This new project I keep mentioning is a new show. So if all works out for me, you'll see me on the main stage next cruise instead of in the show lounge. There is a lot to do and I'll keep you abreast of my progress as I move along toward that end.

Right now, I'm at the very beginning stages. The concept and vision is already clarified and initial research is nearly complete. I'm hoping by the end of January, I will have all the research done and be in the process of procuring all the necessary music that I don't already own. Then it will be practice time and continued research and tweaking time. During this process I plan to start a crowd funding site. So if you're interested in helping me reach my goals you can watch for updates as to when that site is officially started and donate to my project.

Until that time, I'm happily busying myself here in Texas, trying to keep warm :-)  Glad it's not a snowy, white, and wintery Christmas here. Looking forward to more performance, more music, and more stages. If you'd like to come hear a concert in Little Rock, please let me know ahead of time and I'll do my best to procure you a free ticket to the show.

Thanks to one and all for supporting the arts.

It's what makes my world go round.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rules of the Road

I  was quite fortunate to grow up in a part of the country where the drivers followed the rules of the road primarily. I was also fortunate that both sides of my family have good drivers.

My dad taught me to steer the family truck before I could touch the pedals and when I could reach the pedals and see over the dashboard I started learning how to drive the family car out in the country. When I got older yet my dad took me out to empty parking lots in the rain, snow and ice so I could mess around and learn how the car handles on different conditions. Needless to say, I learned a lot, and I learned it well.

I was flattered in my college years by someone asking me to teach them how to drive so they could get a license. They actually paid me what a drivers ed school would cost, but got to take the "classes" on their own schedule. I was shocked at how different the drivers test was then from when I took it back when. They didn't even have to know how to parallel park to pass the driving exam.

So it's no wonder that while I'm driving around through various states that I run into drivers that are not just rude, but completely ignorant of how to drive correctly.

For instance;

It's called an acceleration ramp because you're supposed to use it to accelerate to a near speed of the traffic to merge into.  Granted not all acceleration ramps are sufficiently long, but do make the effort. And for Pete's sake, DON'T STOP AT THE END!!!  I've often wondered what's going through someone's mind when they stop at the end of an acceleration ramp that is supposed to merge into 60+ mph traffic. Because these people are never in a car that will do 0 to 60 in 0.4 seconds or less.

Then after I think about it, my brain eventually lands on the resulting conclusion that the driver doesn't know how to merge and thus must stop at the end of the acceleration ramp to wait for a big opening in traffic. Also, granted, many drivers that you must merge into don't know how to let you merge, still, the only way to merge is to just do it. And how does one merge exactly? Well, you match your speed to the traffic you into which you wish to merge (via the acceleration ramp) and then you turn on your turn signal (that topic is next) and then you merge one car behind the car that was previously merged in front. Poor wording...I apologize. It's just every other car. So whether you're merging or being merged  into, please follow the every other car rule, and also, please try to match the speed of those in which you're merging.

Now on to turn signals....  Does anyone besides truck drivers, know what the purpose of a turn signal is? NO, it is not to inform me that you just changed lanes. It's to inform me you'd LIKE or NEED to change lanes. It's not a guaranteed lane changer. It's a signal to everyone around what you wish to do and if everyone around is amenable than please go ahead and change lanes. Don't turn on your turn signal half way through the lane change. Don't turn on your turn signal after you've changed lanes for one or two clicks. And don't turn on your turn signal as you're changing lanes assuming that everyone around can accommodate you.

Speaking of lanes. Do you all know what the lane speed assignments are? I mean, do you know which lane is the slow lane and which lane is the passing lane? If you do, than I'm not convinced because you sure as hell rarely follow them. The RIGHT lane is the SLOW lane. You can also think of it as the DEFAULT lane. If you're not going around anyone than you should be in the right lane. If you're not turning left in the next half mile, you should be in the right lane. Period. Nope, period. If you cruise in the left lane you impede traffic. You make everyone behind you unhappy. You make everyone behind you frustrated. You also might make young people behind you learn bad habits, so quit cruising in the left lane damn it. I know sometimes you get out there to go around someone and they speed up and then you're driving the same speed. You don't want to drive faster or slower and it's not your fault the other driver fluctuated speed, but unless there's no one else anywhere near your tail, speed up or slow down and move over. If you don't and you're in a three or four lane highway than other cars will start trying to go around in the slow lanes which is begging for accidents. If just one person ignores the rules of the road, then everyone is affected.

One more driving concern to address; how far do you follow a car or stop behind it? I know when you're in the city and traffic is heavy and you don't like people cutting in front of you, you tailgate. Don't. You're not going to stop the people that want to cut anyway so don't tailgate the car in front of you. It adds to the danger on the road. And when you pull up behind a car to stop, please make sure you can see their back tires meet the ground. It's so unnerving when I look in my rear view mirror and all I can see are the TAIL lights of the car behind me. Seriously, if the car behind you rear ends you and you're too close to the car in front of you, now there are three or more people involved in the collision and not just two. And who wants that? So please allow enough room at appropriate speed between the car in front of you and yourself, and please stop behind me far enough I can see your HEAD lights.

That's enough drivers ed I think. I'll give it a rest. I only hope I can help someone take their driving more seriously through this post. I post this to help, to encourage, to educate, to provoke thought, to remind us ALL what it is to be a good driver and to inspire us all to be a better driver each time we get behind the wheel, myself included. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'TIS THE SEASON

YOU'LL HAVE TO FORGIVE MY ALL CAPS POST, BUT THE SHIFT KEYS ON THIS COMPUTER ARE BROKEN AND HITTING CAPS LOCK TWICE IS REALLY ANNOYING AND TIME CONSUMING, SO INSTEAD OF WRITING EVERYTHING IN PHONE TEXT FORMAT, I'M OPTING INSTEAD FOR THE ALL CAPS.

NOW ON TO MY POST TOPIC.

IT IS THE SEASON....FOR GIFT GIVING.

NOW THIS HOLIDAY I'M WORKING FOR SOME EXTRA MONEY AT A RETAIL STORE. IT'S A NICE STORE WITH INTERESTING AND UNIQUE THINGS. THEY'RE ALL HANDMADE IN THE UNITED STATES AND IT REALLY IS A MOM AND POP STORE WHICH I SUPPORT.

HOWEVER, MY ISSUE IS NOT WITH THE STORE, BUT WITH WHAT GOES ON THIS TIME OF YEAR.

THE COUNTLESS TIMES SOMEONE HAS WALKED IN THE STORE, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN ALIKE, AND SAID, 'I NEED TO BUY SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE BUT THEY ALREADY HAVE EVERYTHING AND DON'T REALLY NEED ANYTHING'. WELL, THEN WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU BUYING THEM SOMETHING.

WHAT A MATERIALISTIC SOCIETY WE LIVE IN THAT REQUIRES US TO GO SPEND, I MEAN CHARGE, MONEY WE DON'T HAVE, TO BUY GIFTS PEOPLE DON'T WANT, THAT THE RECIPIENTS WON'T USE. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, WHAT A WASTE. YOU KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO GET A GIFT YOU DON'T WANT AND YOU THEN HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHETHER YOU CAN REGIFT OR IF YOU'LL HAVE TO DONATE, OR MAYBE HANG ON TO IT FOR A WHILE, OR EVEN POSSIBLY DISPLAY IT WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO INFLICT THIS UPON SOMEONE YOU CALL A FRIEND.

BECAUSE IT'S SOCIETY PRACTICE. BECAUSE IT'S WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING. BECAUSE IT'S WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS DONE. BECAUSE THEY'RE GOING TO GIVE YOU SOMETHING AND YOU DON'T WANT TO OWE THEM ONE. BECAUSE YOU'RE SO AFRAID OF BEING DIFFERENT. BECAUSE YOU'RE UNABLE TO DEAL WITH AN AWKWARD OR POTENTIALLY HOSTILE SITUATION WHEN THEY DISCOVER YOU DIDN'T BUY THEM SOMETHING ON THAT SPECIFIC DAY. OK, I'LL STOP.

NOW YOU MIGHT BE THINKING AFTER THAT SMALL TIRADE THAT I'M ANTI GIFTING. THIS IS NOT TRUE, AS MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL VOUCH.

BUT I GIFT IN THE WAY I WISH SOCIETY GIFTED...WHEN IT'S NECESSARY OR HELPFUL. FOR INSTANCE, IF I KNOW A FRIEND NEEDS SOMETHING AND I HAPPEN TO COME ACROSS THAT ITEM, WHO CARES WHAT HOLIDAY IT IS; I BUY IT AND GIFT IT. I DON'T BUY KNICK KNACKS THAT SOMEONE HAS TO DUST OR WASH OR ANY OTHER ANNOYING CHORE. SOMETIMES THE BEST THING IS JUST AN OLD FASHIONED HAND WRITTEN CARD AT ANY TIME OF YEAR, NOT ASSOCIATED WITH A HOLIDAY, THAT TELLS THEM YOU'RE GRATEFUL FOR THEIR FRIENDSHIP. YOU KNOW HOW MANY HANDWRITTEN CARDS ARE SENT THESE DAYS. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO ANY LETTERS...YEAH, I DON'T THINK I NEED TO ANSWER THAT BECAUSE IT'S RHETORICAL AND YOU GET MY POINT.

AMERICA IS SUCH A MATERIALISTIC SOCIETY THAT WE CONSTANTLY CONTINUE TO AMASS MORE STUFF WHEN WE DON'T USE THE STUFF WE ALREADY HAVE AND WE DON'T HAVE MORE SPACE TO STORE THE STUFF WE'RE GETTING. I RECENTLY SAW A FUNNY THAT HAD PEOPLE TRAMPLING INTO STORES ON BLACK FRIDAY AND IT WAS AN IRONIC FUNNY BECAUSE IT SAID THAT PEOPLE WILL NEARLY KILL EACH OTHER OVER SOMETHING THEY SO DESPERATELY THINK THE NEED WHEN JUST THE DAY BEFORE THEY WERE ALL GIVING THANKS FOR WHAT THEY ALREADY HAVE. MAYBE THE LOGIC IS THE MORE STUFF YOU HAVE THE MORE THANKFUL YOU CAN BE....IS IT IN DIRECT CORRELATION OR AM I MISSING THE POINT...

SINCE MOST OF YOU PROBABLY HAVE YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING ALREADY DONE FOR THE SEASON THIS POST WILL MAKE LITTLE OR NO IMPACT ON YOUR HOLIDAY, BUT I WOULD LIKE IT TO MAKE AN IMPACT ON YOUR BRAIN. THINK ABOUT HOW YOU SHOW PEOPLE YOU CARE. DO THEY REALLY FEEL LIKE YOU CARE. CAN THEY TELL OR IS IT JUST A TRADITION.

I CHALLENGE YOU TO FIND A PERSON YOU HAVEN'T BOUGHT SOMETHING FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, AND INSTEAD OF PURCHASING A USELESS GIFT OR A GIFT THEY DON'T REALLY NEED, MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR OWN HANDS. WRITE THEM A LONG LETTER, SPEND TIME DOING SOMETHING FOR THEM IF YOU'RE NEARBY LIKE A BIG PROJECT THEY NEED COMPLETED IF YOU'RE HANDY AT THAT SORT OF THING. ASK THEM WHAT THEY REALLY NEED. WOULD THEY RATHER JUST SPEND THE TIME WITH YOU INSTEAD OF HAVING YOUR MONETARY GIFTS. WOULD THEY RATHER YOU DID SOMETHING SEEMINGLY SMALL AND INSIGNIFICANT FOR THEM THAT NO ONE ELSE WOULD SEE. FIND OUT WHO THEY REALLY ARE AND WHAT THEY REALLY NEED; AND DON'T JUST BUY THEIR LOVE THIS CHRISTMAS.

SHORT DISCLAIMER...SOMETIMES GIFTS ARE SUPER DUPER HELPFUL AND WONDERFUL AND AMAZING AND GREAT. I'M NOT CONDEMNING GIFT GIVING, BUT THE CULTISH PRACTICE OF IT DURING THE HOLIDAYS WHERE THE PERSON ON EITHER SIDE IS EXCLUDED FROM THE EQUATION TO THE WHIMS OF SOCIETY. IF YOU HAVE FOUND THE PERFECT GIFT FOR SOMEONE, THEN BY ALL MEANS, GET IT. BUT WHY WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS OR ANY HOLIDAY FOR THAT MATTER. IF THEY CAN USE IT, GIFT IT NOW AND WATCH THE HAPPINESS AND JOY ABOUND.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's 80 degrees and almost Christmas

Yep, you read the title right. I have relocated myself to Austin TX for the holiday season. Having grown up in the snowy and windswept northern country, I have come to greatly appreciate the ability to walk out the door at 8:30 a.m. in a light weight dress and jacket and be completely and sufficiently warm. It's wonderful.

What sucks is that I have to spend the entire day indoors working on my feet at a retail store. In addition to the fact that I'm tired and sore by the end of the day, I'm also hungry since the past few months I've spent snacking all day and now I can't do that. Consequently, it makes me even more hungry, which makes me more tired, which makes me inevitably more sore. And in the end, I won't be much richer for the sacrifice.

But, I am staying with a wonderful family, eating healthy (did I mention I have converted, at least for a trial period, to being a vegetarian?), working out, and enjoying the company of friends. Oh, and let's not forget the warm weather.  Who said anything about a White Christmas? Certainly not I!

So, I am working here for another few weeks until I can make my escape and wander off to another unknown location at this time. Wish me luck so I don't kill the yappy dog at the store, nor it's bickering owners!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Blizzard!

I won the jackpot today. Well, not literally. In some fashions it snowed hurt and pain all day long. From before I awoke till I sit here writing this entry. It's been one of those days where I just had to laugh all day to avoid crying, and I almost didn't manage that several times.

So the title of this post is ironic in multiple ways. One is the before mentioned, and the other is what happened at the performance tonight. This weekend I'm performing in the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Christmas Pops concerts. But tonight held an ill surprise for me.

Performing on stage brings me so much delight and joy that I had nearly been able to stuff today under the rug for a few hours and revel in the delights of bringing holiday music to the masses. That is, until the very last song. Unbeknownst to the orchestra there was scheduled to be paper snow drifting down during the last number. It started snowing on all of us to which the violinists were a bit turned off since we don't want shreds of paper in our instruments. But apparently, the amount of falling snow wasn't enough because someone in charge of the effects ordered 'more snow'. So instead of light falling snow, it literally dumped a big bucket of snow, on me, AND ONLY ME, I MIGHT ADD. Now yes, everyone got more snow, and other violinists were not so happy, but I had to stop playing entirely and shake all the snow out of my violin, go rummaging around to dig it out of my cleavage, and I still had a huge pile sitting on my lap as well as it covered the floor around me so deep you couldn't see the stage through all the paper snow flakes. To top it all off, I was so surprised when the giant snowball landed on my violin right in front of my nose that I shouted "SHIT" at the top of my lungs. Turns out my voice really carries. I was lucky the children's choir was on the other side of the stage.... But I did provide comic relief for the rest of the first and second violin section, as well as some of the vesper choir, and a few woodwinds, and unfortunately Santa Claus as well....

Not until I had cleaned out my instrument and dug my way out from under the snow mound and nicely chewed out the special effects guys did I wander downstairs to the dressing rooms where, of course, I was the topic of conversion. No one had ever heard anyone shout an obscenity on stage so loud before and it was apparently very amusing. And everyone made sure to remind me that Santa Claus had also heard, so I was, for sure, now moved to the naughty list, if I wasn't there already. In response to this comment I sardonically responded to everyone after a brief pause, "Damn it", which brought riotous laughter each and every time.

Looking forward to tomorrow...said with as much sarcasm as nervous anticipation. Let's just say I won't be looking at the music during the last song. No, I'll be staring at the sky, and any potential giant snow balls that might decide to streamline their way down right onto me.  Won't catch me off guard twice!

So, with all necessary precautions present and accounted for, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW AND REALLY LET IT SNOW!!!

P.S. I'm quite sad I don't have picture to prove the giant mess and severity of my own personal Arkansas Symphony Snow Ball. Though, hopefully I won't have a chance to take a picture again...

Hurt

Today, it hurts. It really hurts. I can't explain why all entirely. Nor is it just one thing that hurts me. Life hurts. It's crushing me; killing me slowly. I want out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Long and sometimes Lonely Road

Nine times out of ten, or even ninety nine times out of a hundred I'll tell you that single hood is a wonderful thing and that I truly am enjoying it.

Short background history to better appreciate the thought and sentiment of the post. I purposefully remained single through high school and undergrad to better further my education and violin skills. When I entered my Masters studies I made the conscience decision to date, and consequently found a suitable mate, or so I deemed at the time. After a few years in this relationship things went decidedly sour and back to single hood I returned.

It was extremely hard at first, I will admit. But soon the independent lifestyle, the freedom, the carefree effortlessness, and the lack of heart wrenching scenes became a preciousness I didn't know had existed.

All this to say that even in my reverie of single hood, there are small holes in this seemingly airtight bubble in which I reside. But since I rarely get on a ladder to go looking for them and since I also don't try to push the boundaries of my single hood bubble I rarely notice these small holes.

But once in a great while I stumble and fall and my nose lands directly on one of those darn holes. And wouldn't you know it? The air on the outside smells more pleasant than inside. It's the grass is always greener  phenomenon. But breathing in that sweet air certainly gets my attention and collapses my heart into a melting pile of throbbing wanting.

In this time all I can think of is how much I want someone.; someone to hold, someone to silently understand, someone to feel my heart beating strong against theirs, someone to love and someone who will love me back. I spend the day in my melted pile of gooey heartedness, lamenting over the fact that I single.

This scenario really rarely every happens...thankfully.

And it's a good thing because not only do I live a life that is suited toward single hood, but I am actively pursuing a career change that will be only fitted to the single lifestyle. In this new pursuit the small and scary thought flitted across my mind as to whether this is really the best of all possible worlds. If I do pursue this career, I will remain single. I will remain alone. I will remain without someone.

This is when I tell myself that when the time is right there will be someone that I randomly meet who will be able to merge into my career path. Otherwise, when I eventually settle down as much I can handle (maybe split the year between travel and a planted home), which won't be happening in the near future, I'll be old enough that I can just have a retired someone. Or by then I'll just have so many awesome friends that a someone would just get in the way!

Too all those out there with or without a someone, enjoy your current state. Relish the existence of just being; being you, with or without someone. Breath in deeply and savor the senses that are those around you.

Stop. Stop wishing. Stop searching. Stop waiting. Just stop, or you'll miss it and you'll never be able to get it back.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Continuing onward in no given direction

This is going to be a wandering post....as the title sort of implies.

The reason being is that I don't know exactly where I'm going, in life that is. Yes, tomorrow I'm driving to Little Rock to play in the Arkansas Symphony. Whenever I get washed up on shore from the cruise ship industry I try to land somewhat near Little Rock so I can at least gain the resemblance of an income. (Although the resemblance is looking mighty bleak as of late).

So there is 'direction' in my life. But what I mean by that statement in the title is that I'm not sure where my life is headed.

The last few weeks I've been working on research for my new show that I want to pull together. But I'm not sure if I'll be able to manage it since I'll have to get funding and/or a producer to back me. If those two things don't come together there is simply no way my show will be possible.

There is another avenue that I very recently remembered for a short life path trek. However, how much time should I take away from my show in order to follow it and see if it's possible? Is it a better line of work for me right now? Would it have more potential for success? Would it be easier to get backers for the idea and then run with it as opposed to hobbling along at the one I'm attempting now?

Then there are the other odd little jobs and leads that I'm trying to complete in order to survive!  Those damned pesky bills to pay off college and credit cards from college and loans for my instruments, and food and gas.

Now I turn to a small tangent that I often express in verbal form to those brave enough to listen.  And that is, I believe money should not be the main nor only medium for trade. Why can't I trade things I'm good at for things I need? This used to work so well and then we decided that having only one medium was much better and it divided the people even more into segments of hierarchy. I'm good at a few things and quite handy at many others. I've also spent my entire life in the pursuit of this one goal, to perfect my violin skills, all the while knowing (and accepting) that I would receive very little compensation for my efforts. And honestly, I'm still completely fine with all of that. What I'm not ok with is the direction that society is heading which is effectively eliminating my career from the country.

As I try to continue my pursuit of a performance career there become fewer and fewer openings. Even in the last 10 years jobs have dropped off the map forever. Symphonies are going bankrupt, cruise ships are hiring fewer musicians all around and cutting the classical music all together for the most part and other outlets for classical music, like weddings and funerals or parties and teas are turning to recorded music or DJ's.

This trend reminds me of the title of another one of my blog posts, "Lost in a generation". That entry has nothing to do with this one, but it's something else we've lost in the younger generations; the ability to appreciate and support the fine arts.

Now it sounds like I'm going to do the whole harp against sports thing in favor of music in schools. (maybe another time). But I played sports in school, and out of school and I still do. I watch sports programs on television. I also get that in many sports you can't play them your whole life like classical musicians can and so the pay scale should reflect that (BUT not to the degree it does right now). I listen to non classical music. I buy non classical cd's. I go to non classical performances and the movies as such. (BUT I don't think these artists/actors should be payed more than nearly everyone on the planet. REALLY?  If our country was in dire straights I guess we could all die happily listening to pop music and watching the latest pop star bounce around on stage). I enjoy the not so fine arts, really, and support them when I can, but not to the exclusion of the fine arts.

Ok, rant over.

Basically, it feels like for the years since college I've been mostly successfully trekking through the woods. Occasionally, there would be two trails and I've had to choose, but it wasn't like now. Now, I've made it through the woods. I've reached the open field on the other side. There are no trails, there are no paths, there are no boundaries, there is nothing except the woods behind, from which I just emerged. Part of me wants to run back into the woods and the safety of the paths I now know so well, but I know that I can not do that. I must face the open field and find my way. I hope to find friends in this field. I hope to find clues and signs. I hope to learn that I can do more than just follow the path in front of me. I hope that in the field does not lurk a menace so large that it can not be overcome. I hope that I don't become bogged down and lose sight of the horizon. I hope that I don't give up and turn back to the woods.

misty field and wood

So here's to hope, to friends, to unforeseen futures, to laughter, to life and to love.
May all my dreams come true.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wouldn't it be nice for Christmas?

So I've decided that I'm ready to move into my third phase of hair removal in my life to date. From the time I was in high school until a couple years after college I did the shaving routine; lather on shaving cream, swipe expensive razors that only last a few days, and get frustrated every day when the stubble is long enough your legs are no longer smooth or every winter when you step out of the shower and it's so cold you get goose bumps and you might as well had not shaved at all. Then I decided this was a severe waste of my time and I only felt I actually had smooth legs for a few hours after shaving so I switched to waxing.

Now I've tried a lot of different waxing salons to various degrees of success and have not hated my time spent there for the most part. After having spent much money and several years following this path I've enjoyed reaping the benefits of the waxing profession; softer hair, lighter hair, and slower growing hair. BUT, there is still lots of hair and my skin is getting much more sensitive with age and even sugaring is now proving too much for my skin to handle on a frequent basis.

It's now time to explore the world that is laser hair removal. It's been around for quite some time giving it plenty of years to perfect and improve it's performance and safety qualifications and I feel comfortable subjecting myself to this method of hair removal at this time.

So that brings me to the link below. Laser hair removal isn't cheap, but if it works (which it usually does completely and I'd be happy with even mostly), then it's much much cheaper than the continued waxing services I've been using and considering time is money, it's also cheaper than the awful habit of shaving.

Subsequently, I've taken it upon myself to locate a deal I could benefit from in this regard. It's 90% off !! which is a crazy deal :)

But of course, I'm just doing good to buy myself food and pay my automatic bills so I'm relying on all my readers to donate to my cause of girly happiness and sexiness.

Just click on this link and you're on your way to making me a very happy girl indeed!!!  A Living Social Deal

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reading while Driving

I hope that title certainly got your attention!  It's not entirely true, but as you might notice from the picture below, it's not entirely untrue either.

Currently in my life of non cruising, I'm performing for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and catching a few other smaller gigs around the area. I'm not staying in Little Rock so I drive or fly in from wherever I'm currently at for the gigs and yesterday I had the misfortune of driving from Nashville to Little Rock. I say misfortune not because a drive of that sort of length would be unfortunate for me normally, but this particular trip certainly was.The reason being that there was not only a significant portion of highway blocked due to construction, but there was an accident at the same place. So, after parking on the highway for an hour we were finally routed off to the state highway that runs alongside. Imagine mostly semi trucks driving 30 mph through tiny towns in the dark and stopping for every stop sign and stop light. It took an agonizing amount of time before we were rerouted back to the US highway. I did in fact make it just in time for a fast shower (much needed for everyone's sake) and fast drive to rehearsal.


I was very happy to have an inverter so I could plug in my computer. Also very glad that I have a twistable computer so that I could balance the computer pad on my steering column and turn the screen around to read. It wasn't my planned activity for that time, but hey, that's how I am, adaptable to any given changing situation. A must for an itinerant musician!

If any readers would like to come listen to the Arkansas Symphony, please let me know and I'll get you a free ticket to come hear us play! Next up is the Christmas Pops Concert!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vivaldi and Contra

This entry is about two entirely different subjects. I'll start with the negative one and end with the positive :)

On the way home from a contra dance yesterday I was listening to the classical radio station (which is what I do whenever I'm in the car), when the MC said they were going to play a Season by Vivaldi, but not in the typical way. This version of Summer was played on the harp with a fine orchestra, although I forget which one. Now, I'm all open to new ideas and version of all sorts of music so I was anxious and excited to hear this harp rendition of Summer. Unfortunately, it didn't take much time before my open ears wanted to close. The harp just couldn't power over the orchestra (not the orchestras' fault) and couldn't deliver the mood changes Summer needs. The harpist had done the transcription herself and I applaud her for the technicality that it definitely sounded like it required, but the musicality just couldn't compare. The harp just couldn't get the 'languor of the summer heat' in my opinion, or maybe the harp version just enjoys that heat. The second movement was played by the concertmaster because, I assume, the harp can't sustain notes. Disappointment. And then the third movement missed the anger of the violent storm to which the harp sounds pleasant and cheerful, if not jovial. Ach!

Before the extremely interesting rendition of Summer by Vivaldi, I attended my first Nashville contra dance.
I've never seen so many young people at a dance. Honestly, I felt like I was lumped into the older crowd and that we were in the minority. Now if you contra dance, you'll know what I mean when I say that was really really really really, yes, really weird. I have never ever ever ever ever, nope, never felt like I was in the older crowd at a contra dance. Think again? Nope, never.

But at this dance there were many youngsters, I'm guessing junior high through early college years. And yes, there were the older folks (like me lol), that you usually see at a dance but overwhelmed by the youngsters.

So I engaged in some tom foolery and taught some of the youngsters some funky moves and livened the place. Of course, the young kids thought what I did was awesome and went right along, though I got a few stiff looks from the older crowd....   I had fun though. Teaching them how to stray outside the lines, mess with the moves, and just have FUN was a great pleasure. I revel in the feedback of the kids that thank me for being so much fun and teaching them moves and bringing energy and liveliness to the dance.

Oh the joys of contra :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hoh! Land....

Ah Land.  It's a very stressful place for me. Amazing how at ease I feel out at sea and how out of place and awkward, for lack of a better word, I feel on land. Some people would say I'm just used to things being done for me on the ships, but I would gladly trade those things for the peace on land that I have at sea. Yes, it is nice to not have to do my dishes, clean my bathroom, make my bed, dust the house, but these things are insignificant to my mental and emotional and also financial state whenever I return from the mesmerizing ocean. Not to mention I sleep much better when I'm rocked to sleep each night :)

I wish I could write here that I've got leads to new contracts or possibilities on the horizon. Instead, I have nothing but bad news from my agent and a serious lack of time from reading all the music job sites and craigslist everyday in search of potential gigs.

One GREAT idea has arisen within and I'm  gung ho to travel down this road; the road is one that leads to a guest entertainer gig or simply put, I am my own show.  I would not be in groups on ships anymore and would not have the stress of putting one together, keeping one together, and the stress of knowing they are hurting for money because I'm not getting them work. I'm so ready for this. The ideas had been mulling around inside my head for a while, but they all finally juxtaposed themselves into a brilliant scheme (or so I think). Now all I need is to get the research and taping and practicing and demoing and marketing and scheduling done. I do know, this will be entirely impossible without a producer or two so that is on the back of my brain. I can do research and practicing on my own and when that is complete I will then require a producer(s) to proceed any further. So now it's about keeping my fingers crossed that someone out there somewhere that has money, believes in me.


In the meantime, while on land, struggling away at my meager existence, with the help of my friends :)

....Lots of things are being pushed to the forefront of my brain and to sort it all out I thought I'd write it down.

Other major things on the forefront of my mind since I'm on land and continue to be here, are electronic items that are almost necessary to succeed in this society it seems.

Things I need that are replacements for things I already have:
A new computer:
My computer freezes constantly, doesn't have a functioning battery, can't run more than one large program at a time, doesn't have any memory, can't play videos without hitching or can't play them at all, and is just super duper slow :(
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009F1II54?tag=vglnk-c2098-20

An alarm clock:
Alarm clock to replace my cell phone, which is not really an alarm clock.
http://www.brookstone.com/Travel-Tranquil-Moments-Sleep-Sound-Machine? bkiid=SearchResults|CategoryProductList|590877p

Things I need that I don't have already:
An Ipod:
Ipod Touch 32 or 64 GB to use as an mp3 player, portable email around wifi, free phone around wifi, e-reader
http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_ipod/family/ipod_touch_4thgeneration

Things I want that will be a big help and not just superfluous:
An e-reader

I read books on my laptop. Not sure this truly should be under this category, but I can use my computer as an e-reader even though I don't actually own one.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-simple-touch-with-glowlight-barnes-noble/1108046469



Otherwise, I really would just like to pay my bills and live peacefully. High hopes, I realize.

Friday, November 9, 2012

You know you're in the wrong place...

After rehearsal today I was starving so I decided to drive through Wendy's for a chicken sandwich so I could have enough energy to go to the gym. Since the Wendy's I chose to go to is sort of in the hotel parking lot I went in the back entrance and snuck into the drive through lane. When no one answered at the speaker I drove up to the window which had bars across it. Weird I thought. Isn't it supposed to be open at 10:45 p.m.? It says open late till 1:00 a.m. on the window. Hmm. Maybe I can go inside.

I drove slowly around the building noticing there were people inside but random cars parked places. And then I came around to the last side of the building that I hadn't seen and whoa! There were cop cars everywhere and the drive through lane was taped off and there was about 24 people all in cuffs and standing outside.

Knowing I'm staying in the hotel in the back parking lot of the Wendy's it was a bit concerning. Talking about being in the wrong place...  Yikes!

Needless to say, I parked in the front of the hotel this evening. I'd like to see my car in one piece when I walk out to it in the morning. Here's crossing my fingers I don't awake to gun shots tonight after I fall asleep!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Health Insurance

Arg. This is a most frustrating thing. It's not Canada so I can't just go to the doctor and as a musician I simply just don't make enough money to afford it. Part time side job, potentially having to reorganize life temporarily are in my near future. With numerous doctor appointments in my near future and yet another impending health concern that will most likely lead to life long drugs, the requirement for health care is no longer going to be an option.

Anyone have any ideas whether it would be better to just move to another country within the next 6 months and try out an entirely different health care system? I have no ties here to keep me other than one small part time job which I'm sure could easily be replaced just about anywhere.

I'm lost. Lost for a direction to head. Lost for a solution to my problem. Lost for any more creative ideas. Lost for any more motivation to keep going.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lost in a generation

As I sit in a corner of a waiting area at the airport I glance up from my studious reading on my laptop to see what the commotion is across the way. An army man and his family is getting ready to say goodbye. They're taking pictures in a countless ways and it's apparent they're all trying not to break down right there.

I watch because I can't turn away, though I feel like I'm spying into a private party. Carefully I make sure to not catch the eyes of the family as they flit nervously around trying not to appear conspicuous. The pictures don't take long and soon the hugs and whispers of love ensue. I stare back down at my computer screen and try to disappear into the chair in which I'm sitting. I wish they could have a more private and intimate place to say good bye and share their feelings of love without the world watching.

As I try to lose myself in the computer world again a loud voice interrupts my thoughts and I glance up without thinking to see the speaker. It's a tall, nicely dressed elderly gentlemen with a beautiful silver haired wife standing next to him. In their way down the hall they had encountered the little scene that had just unfolded before me and were touched. The gentleman told the young soldier how grateful he was for the service the man has done and is doing for his country. The soldier nodded and said thank you. And again, the older man stated how much it means to him and his wife to have this young boy serving his country. The soldier wrapped his arm around his mother by his side, blushed and nearly speechless, stumbled a "You're welcome" to the couple before ducking away back to the rest of his family. The old couple turned away, smiling, and continued on down the hall toward their destination having sincerely touched the lives of not just the soldier and his family but also of me and I'm sure the others sitting nearby.

So many have walked by, so many have sat still. So many of those of us in the younger generations have lost the appreciation and then the forwardness and care to speak up and move forward. The generation that showed us the way to say thank you, the way to pause in a busy life, the way to make a positive impact on the lives of others through simple words; this generation is nearly lost.

I, for one, am truly sad to see it go.

Thank you to them for teaching us through their words and actions and thank you to those service men who  leave their families behind to serve our country.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Autumn Glimpse

Today was spent sightseeing around the island for the most part. The weather was mild and not to chilly and it didn't rain until after we returned home. All in all, the day was marvelous. There were so many beautiful cliffs and isolated beaches and colorful trees and bright green grass and docile deer. It was just amazing. I've included a few pictures from today because I couldn't decide on just one!

 The docile deer in the field. We drove by more than a dozen deer. Some so close I could reach out of the car and almost touch them. Some were laying down in fields and this morning on a nice solo stroll through the woods I happened upon a young buck who eyed me with curiosity and then walked off, evaporating into the misty woods 20 yards in front of me.
 One of the beaches we stopped at to walk around. There were so many but this one had the best vantage point for a good picture. This also happened to be the coldest beach and just on the other side to the right of the picture was the ocean and a giant sea lion swimming around playing in the freezing water.

We stopped for coffee at Roche Harbor and I took ample time to walk down the docks and stare at the boats as well as the growing sea life attached to the undersides of the wood. The smell in the air and the feeling of the moving dock underneath my feet made my body feel so alive. It was like being in a fairy tale where I didn't know the ending but there wasn't an evil villain any where to be found. As I was walking back to the mainland I spotted this lamp post and couldn't stop my imagination from running wild.

 There was a nice sculpture garden near Roche Harbor that had some neat creations and with the brightly colored trees and crisp air and all the time in the world I simply couldn't keep myself away from wandering through and around and under and by these towering pieces of metal. This is one of my favorites entitled Convergence. It seemed the perfect spot to lean back and gaze at the breathtaking clouds flitting quickly across the sky.
 I've never seen a speed limit sign as such until today. I'm making a wild guess and betting I never will see another in my lifetime unless I return to this spot. I'm not sure how to judge the 3/8ths of the mile per hour, nor am I aware if the cop might ticket you for going the 5/8ths over that...

Needless to say it caught me by surprise and I was so glad I had my camera handy so I could remember the sign always and share it with you.



This was the last place we stopped today before heading home for a very late lunch and a relaxing evening in front of the fireplace. The grass was so green and the sky was so blue and the clouds were so white and fluffy and the air was so chill it was just perfect. The sun peaked its way through the clouds for just a few minutes as if to wink at me and say, "I'm here. Don't you worry."



I honestly can't believe how much fun I've had here. And I also really hope that someday I can come back and visit again for a little longer. There is so much more to explore and so much more to do and see. But until that day comes I'm thankful for the time I did have and for the friends who made this time possible.

I'm a lucky girl.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fabulous Friends in Friday Harbor

Today has been quite the day, but yesterday was wonderful.

In a not too rainy Vancouver I got to enjoy lunch with friends, and go shopping at my favorite thrift store chain, Value Village. Of course I walked out with less money than I walked into the store. But I only bought things that I will definitely use and needed to replace and one gift for my mother :) Then it was a lovely dinner at a delightful pub before a late night of chatting and book reading.

After just over 2 hrs of sleep it was time to rise and get ready to leave today. I've learned to utilize coffee very quickly in the last few days. Had so many cups today I made myself sick, but I was able to stay awake on two separate hour and a half ferry rides as well as more than two hours of free time spent at terminals and bus stops and a 45 minute bus ride. At least today my travels weren't delayed for three plus hours and I arrived in Friday Harbor safe and sound and on time, although slightly ill and very tired. But I was super happy to see my friend there to pick me up and to go grab a nice beer and just enjoy having arrived in town.

Then it was time to go home :)  Spent the afternoon playing ping pong which left me super exhausted but dinner was delicious and rejuvenating and the company was more wonderful than could be asked. I'm so blessed to have such amazing and fabulous friends!  I'm so looking forward to spending the next few days with them and experiencing this area together.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Early to Bed....zzz

I'm actually quite content tonight. It's 8:00 p.m. and I'm all dressed and ready for bed. And I'm really really tired so I'll fall asleep within a couple hours and wake up at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning.

What a trip though. Monday and Tuesday were pleasant meeting friends and enjoying the company of new and old friends alike. Then today I got up early and hopped on the Amtrak at 8 a.m. only to sit at the same stop for another two hours before the train started. We were waiting for a person to come check the track further up the way. Then the train had to stop for clearance, then it had to stop for a bridge, then it had to stop for another train. All in all it took so long to get to Vancouver that I was 3 hours late. There were two Frenchmen traveling in the same car and they said in France if the train is over 2 hours late you get reimbursed. Wish it was like that here.

My afternoon had been shot and I was so tired and stressed from my friends waiting so long for me and me not having wifi nor phone service to communicate with them that my evening has been fairly lackluster as well. Didn't help that it poured for the majority of the evening. But I am with good friends with good food and good wine so despite the days occurrences I'm still happy and sleepy.

Tomorrow is my only full day here so I'll be up early to try to make the most of it before heading out Friday back to the USA. Traveling is much fun, but I nearly always wish I had more time. Even now, while I'm on vacation there is not enough time because I have to be back for a concert in the US.

So after a long day of train riding, several dark and dreary and rainy days, and after getting all snuggled up under the covers I'm ready to call it a night and get some sleep.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Redemption and Espresso Shots

The title might be slightly confusing but let me explain.

I'm not a coffee drinker. Not for health reasons, or beliefs, or weight control, but because I simply don't like the way it tastes in any fashion.

Today, however, I was so tired on the way to morning dance and knowing that I had a solid 3+ hours ahead of tearing up the dance floor I decided to give espresso a try. Now, I've had it on the rare occasion before and I know it works but I wasn't sure how it would work considering my current downer health status. But I purchased a latte with 2 shots anyway. Downed it (luckily they didn't make it too hot) and started dancing. Boy, I tell ya, now I know why people get addicted to this stuff. I danced and danced and danced and spun and dipped and spun myself and others and got spun out and jumped around and flailed and just was my usual crazy dance self. It was wonderful.

Now I'm so tired I can hardly move but I wanted to share how much fun contra is to me. My face aches from smiling and laughing so much. My legs ache, my core aches, my arms even ache and of course my feet are killing me :)  But it was so worth it. What a trip. Fabulous dancers, fabulous band, fabulous callers, and fabulous dances make my life a super trippy place to exist in right now.

Yesterday was a roller coaster ride of emotions and hormones and today I'm on the crest of the hill. Hopefully there is not a downward spiral waiting on the other side. I sincerely think there is a nice coast just around the corner and I'm so ready.

Tonight is relax night. I'll try to catch up on sleep and enjoy a movie and hot chocolate curled up on the couch. Now that the contra weekend is over I'm sad but all in all I'm so glad I came, so glad I danced, and so glad to have lived in those moments.

Thank you to all who were a part of the weekend!

The espresso made it possible for me to redeem my weekend dancing glory :)

Hormones: a difficult day

Hormones....I have some issues with them.

Yesterday was the third day in a row of contra dancing and boy was I out of energy. After dancing Thursday night and Friday night (and forgetting to eat much on Friday) I had nothing left for Saturday.

For a girl, known for her wild antics and enthusiastic dancing, I was saddened by having to sit out dances and reserve energy on most dances I did dance. It stole the smile from my face, the blood from my body, the energy from my legs, and the love from my heart. Several times friends came along and spoke words of concern since I was not acting my usual self, but even the process of saying, "I just had surgery" was all consuming to the point of tears.

Hormones...damn you.

In all reality I shouldn't be mad because technically, I'm not even supposed to be working out and exercising yet. It's been two weeks since the surgery, but rumor has it I'm supposed to wait a month. Now obviously, there are different levels to exercising and I'm sure the docs don't intend for you to not do anything, but I'm pretty sure intense multi day contra dancing marathons is on the list of donts.

Ah well, I'm here among friends, with live music, happy dancers, and good energy all around. I should not complain. I should be thankful to be here and thankful I can dance any dances at all.

Pep talk...pep talk.

Ok, so today is one more four hour dance session. I do not expect to dance all the dances and I will be exuberant in the dances I choose. Wish you all could be here. But by all means, since you can't, get out there and contra dance where you are! And think of me for just a moment while you're out there on the dance floor!! I'll be thinking of you :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

A short stay in Seattle

After leaving the NCL Gem, I flew to Atlanta, then to OKC and then to Seattle where I've been the last few days. I'm not usually here this time of year and after being here now, I'm ok with that prospect. It's the rainy season (yes, I realize that's year round in Seattle, but it's actually get wet rain during this season) and it's cold. I highly dislike cold. Right now I'm sitting in an enclosed room with two computers running and the thermostat set at 68 and wearing booties and a sweater dress and a long sleeve shirt underneath and I'm still absolutely freezing. I've been drinking hot tea but I think my red blood cell count is so low at this point that my body simply cannot sustain its own heat to my desirable temperature.

Irregardless of my internal and seeming external temperature, I am enjoying my stay in Seattle. I've been dancing and practicing my violin, researching and catching up on emails, eating and over sleeping, and failing to get together with all my friends like I should. I will soon change that though because starting on Monday it will become a friend frenzy. I'll run myself ragged again going from one destination to another, meeting for lunch, meeting for dinner and meeting for drinks. Don't get me wrong, it will be lots of fun and after I leave, so exhausted I fall asleep before the plane takes off, I'll wish I had more time to spend here and I'll do what I do every time I leave Seattle/Vancouver BC, and that is to promise myself that next time I'll plan more days to spend here so I don't feel rushed. It never happens though so I should take the hint and quit telling myself it will.

The other day I had a nice chance to walk (in the rain) for a few miles. In a brief interlude between the clouds the leaves were sparkling with color and the sun was shimmering off the rain beads. It was simply breathtaking. I only took one picture, but I was probably walking down the street in a daze because I couldn't decide where to look and which picture would represent the view best. In this scenario I usually just don't take a picture at all. But I did take one...see below.


















Still more dancing and dining to come. Still more rehearsing and researching to do. Still more friends and folly to engage. And as always, I'll do my best to keep you updated :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Almost Home

Well, I had every intention of writing a blog entry about being back at "home" with my car and belongings, but as fate would have it, my flight was over booked and so I'm staying in Atlanta for the night. Nice experience though. Free stuff, good hotel, free wifi and an easier flight back now that it's split over two days. I was going to be one very exhausted girl by the end of today (not that I'm not really tired right now), but at least I get to go to bed a little earlier and didn't have to travel extra tonight.

So the entry I was planning on writing tonight will have to wait until tomorrow or the next day. Until then, I'm safe and sound in mid travel plans :)


The Last Days

The last days are the best nearly always. And this ship was no exception. The audience was wonderful, the trio worked the best together musically, friendships were cultivated more fully, and the world just seemed to smile.

Today I leave and head "home".

I'm always sad to leave a ship. The new friendships, the performing, the audiences, the care free life is so nice.

The most laughs, the most memories, the most of all that will forever be with me is The Last Days. Farewell ship. Until we meet again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Autumn in Quebec City

Now I understand why people love it here so much.

There was a couple brief hours yesterday that were so beautiful. The air was crisp, but not too cold. The wind was pleasant, and not too strong. The sun was shining, but not too bright. The leaves had started falling, but many still remained on the trees. It was like walking through a post card world. There were cobblestone streets like in Europe that wind their way through small neighborhoods; people ice skating in an outdoor square, buskers with hats and scarves singing away under the archways, the wind slightly whispering through the brightly colored leaves, and the clip clop of people's shoes as they briskly move about their day all bundled in their cold weather gear, seemingly oblivious to the beauty surrounding them.




















And then it started to rain...

Thankfully I had thought ahead (didn't take much thinking since it rains in every single port for the majority, if not entirety, of the day) and brought and umbrella. It was awkward to carry for a while, but definitely was worth it after the rain started pouring down and I could barely keep any part of me dry. So then it was back to the ship for a nice hot shower and cup of hot cocoa before going to work.

Only four more days of work left. We'll be on the ship a total of 5 sort of, but the last day we'll leave sometime in the morning and the band replacing us will have to work that day.

Then it's off to a couple day rest and relaxation in Oklahoma City before heading off to Seattle for a week of dancing and a week of visiting. Can't wait! Keep it coming!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Time flies on the high seas

Time truly has been flying by. Yes, much of it has been super fun, but much of it has been work too.

A cruise ago (10 day cruises), our violist injured his wrist and was unable to play for several days. This brought about a panic of music hunting, music printing, music practicing, music researching, music rehearsing, and music performing. It was exhausting to understate my condition. I was so focused and worked so much that I lowered my immune system enough to not quite catch a cold. Now that I'm back to sleeping, eating, and normal playing schedule my body is fighting back slowly, but it's an uphill battle. The reason being...

I've just had outpatient surgery for a very early form of cancer. Now, I'm hoping that they got everything this last NY and that I'll be fine and dandy, but in the interum I'm a bit weak and my body is trying to decide whether to ward off the cold (which it's been mildly successful at for the last few days), or to quickly heal my surgically destroyed body part.  I'm very lucky that they found this early and I've been able to follow the preliminary steps in order for the cancer not to continue or spread (fingers crossed).  Now I just have to be patient for the next year and pray all the test results keep coming back negative and the job results come back positive!

Ah, yes...jobs....I still do not have another ship contract lined up yet. I've been trying to push for one, but so far there is nothing on the horizon, let alone in my lap. The good news though, is that when I get off this ship I won't be destitute as was the case last time I disembarked. I've got a few land concerts lined up over the following months. No, they won't pay rent or even food, but they will pay the bills that I'm still consistently paying down.

This contract really has been a bright ray of sunshine on my rather cloudy year.  The schedule has been good, the food has been good, the passengers have been good (our ratings have been good), our bosses have been good, no great :), our trio has been wonderful, and I feel pretty!...ok, couldn't help myself :)  The only thing that has sucked this contract is the weather, which has kind of surprised me, because no matter where I am in the world, the sun always shines. Seems Canada doesn't much care for me; or maybe this is it's bright side?.

This is our last cruise :( sob, sniff, sad face   
I'm trying to fit in very little now. Tomorrow and the next day are Quebec City so I'll be heading out into town both days (if it's not pouring rain), and also partying away the night at Largo Jazz Club. Otherwise, though, in order to heal my body and to save money (not looking forward to the out of pocket expenses of the following checkups since I have no insurance) I haven't been drinking at the crew bar, or partying at the nightclub, or buying snacks at the store, or shopping in town. I go to bed early for me (before 2 a.m.), and spend the day writing set lists, getting organized for the trip home, wandering around the ship, staring out the window (or lounging on the balcony if the wind dies down), or practicing. It's the most lackluster ship existance ever I think; for me that is. But I'm ok with it for now. Next ship...

Cruising along

Happy days are here again....

Truly, sea life is so enjoyable to me. I just can't get enough. I'm sad this contract is only for a short time, but in this short time I've been trying to make the most of it. I've already made a couple really good friends, found the best hang out places, enjoyed tea on the outside deck,  ate sushi after an afternoon concert, performed on the main stage to a live audience. I've still to dance wildly at a crew party, go bowling after midnight, tour the bridge or engine room, get lost in the bowels of the ship, eat at the steakhouse, have a room party, or explore every port. I'm definitely working on all these things but time is fast running away from me.

Plans are made for ziplining this coming cruise. I'd also like to go spelunking but I'll have to work on that one.

It rains a lot, no really, people think it rains a lot in Alaska, but it rains so much more here. So far I've gone out in the rain 3 times, but it's not the most desirable for excessive outdoor walking and picture taking activities.

Recently the trio ventured out in the pouring rain to walk to a local jazz club in Quebec City named Largo. They had a jazz group playing along to a silent movie and then they performed alone. It was a lovely evening and a nice club. It also has fabulous martinis!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rocky Seas


Time is flying by!

Tonight the ship is rocking. I love it! It's fun to watch the passengers try so hard just to stay upright and it's fun to engage my abs and but and some serious leg muscles in order to walk fairly normal. This rocking also really puts me into a deep sleep. I missed this on land. Luckily I've never been sea sick, even through 100 foot waves! I enjoy the ride :)

There's a new set of passengers on board. They just arrived today. So far I've met two nice couple that I feel will be good listeners and friends for at least the length of the cruise and hopefully longer. That's one part of cruising I love; meeting new people I'd never have the chance to meet otherwise, and becoming life long friends.


The trio put on our first stage show a couple days ago. As a group we all were the least prepared for this show than any other in our lives. The sound check wasn't enough time, the lighting wasn't correctly done, and we didn't have enough time to thoroughly rehearse the music. Even so, it went surprisingly well, and I'm sure the audience was none the wiser. I'm guessing we'll put on more shows but since we've been through this one we'll be better prepared for the rest.

So far in the cruise I've only been off in Quebec City. I've been so busy with trainings, rehearsals, and research that I haven't had a chance to eat normal meals or sleep 8 hrs a night, let alone go out in port. I'm truly hoping that since much of the training is done that I'll be able to use those extra hours for some sight seeing, sleeping and eating :)

Working for NCL is really awesome. I'm so happy here. Here's to cruising the high seas for several more years to come!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quebec City


The last two days we've been docked in Quebec City. The first day the trio went out and walked around a small part of the city, seeing sights like the Plains of Abraham and the Castle of Frontenac. It was a beautiful day and there were street artists in abundance as well as many art galleries in the open air and the restaurants all had their outdoor seating filled to abundance.

Today after yet more training, two of us took off again into a different part of the city. We browsed through a local grocery store, a couple music shops, and a beautiful Catholic cathedral. We also saw a couple parks and walked down several quaint neighborhood streets. It was another beautiful day in Quebec City, and we enjoyed it to the fullest.

We have been playing every night and it's been going quite well. I've been fortunate to sell several cd's already on this first cruise. If that continues than I'll sell out of what I brought which is my goal of course. I don't want to bring any cd's back with me. We have a consistent group of listeners and I've had the chance to speak with several of them and they're quite nice. The best part is that we only have to play 3 hrs a day; not 5! It makes an enormous difference. I feel like I can give my all on the stage instead of conserving energy to make it through the night. We've also been sight reading a lot. At least half of what we played tonight was sight reading and I feel lucky to have a group that can and will sight read on stage. We rehearse every sea day though (there are lots of sea days) and some port days.

We're still going through lots of training. I have two more trainings in the morning and there are more the following days. Because my schedule is upset I've only managed to go to the gym once. But the crew gym here is nice. It has 2 of nearly every thing and is open all the time. The only problem I have is that I usually make it through an hour on the eleptical by watching a tv show on my netbook. Unfortunately my battery won't last that long anymore and just a couple days ago the computers transmission/connection to the earport terminal crashed so I can't use headphoned now :(

But life is good; no life is great! I'm really having fun performing with this trio and I'm looking forward to exploring more new cities and countryside. There's lots to be done still. I have much research to do on the new music and we have lots of music yet to rehearse and add to our repetoire. There are plenty of trainings left and there are still a few kinks to work out but life is beautiful!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Continuing to readjust to ship life.


NCL is all that I've heard. The best line to work for out of 4 cumulative between the trio members. There are some down sides and small things like not being able to bring non sealed food back to the ship. So no more leftover pizza for breakfast the next morning. You also can't buy anything without swiping your card. I'm used to just saying my room number and the person types it into the computer. Nothing needed. You also don't have direct deposit available. That's inconvienent more than anything else. But these things are all petty compared to the fact that we have to play less hours, the company is very flexible with our schedule, we always get dinner, there is very little segregation, and the cruise line lets you do what you do best. It's really quite refreshing.

Today was our first port, Halifax, but we're still in training so the morning was consumed with that and the rest was with finishing paperwork, meetings, and rehearsal. Then it was off to work. I will be getting off sometime in Quebec City in a day though. A couple supplied I need to get.

All in all, I'm having a fabulous time. I really really hope that we get extended or that we get offered another contract.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back at Sea


It's been a very long couple of days what with training starting early in the morning and then having to run errands all afternoon and then work all evening. I'm exhausted, but happy.

When the training is over I'll be able to get my workout schedule and sleep schedule and most importantly, bar schedule in place.

Fortunately, training should be mostly over in a week.

The trio is melding well together and we're having lots of fun. It's a good group and I really hope we can keep this up and working for a while.

I'll write more later, but I'm going to bed now. It's midnight and the days are 17 hours long these days and today I only managed time for a bowl of oatmeal at 8 a.m. and a sandwich at 10 p.m. So much to do I can't even fit in meals. I'm hoping for a better meal schedule tomorrow :)

Soon though things will get sorted out and all will be normal. It's just the requirements of joining a new cruise line. It's been so long for me I'd forgotten how exhausting and rigorous the schedule is. And for me as band leader, it's even more so. But it's worth it :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

NCL GEM

YEA!!!

I'm finally heading back out to sea. Spent all day in airports and busses and getting a great workout hauling all my stuff around...in heels :)

Finally made it to the hotel tonight and after a terrible dinner and a nice rehearsal it's the last free internet I'll have for a while.

Wish you could all come on a cruise and let me entertain you!

Until then, you'll just have to dream...

 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I LOVE My Family

The last few days have been wonderful. Staying with family out in the country, and visiting other family nearby. It's been so good to get to know them better; visit, learn, play, and just be a part of the family. The last two family reunions I've missed since working on ships, but coming back to where many of my roots are helped me realize how much I love them and missed getting to know them more at the reunions.



I truly hope that in the next year I can come back and visit again. It's been a real uplifting, motivating, and all around happy experience that I can't wait to repeat!

Watching my family work I realize how smart they are, how skilled they are, how selfless they are, how kind they are, how patient they are, how loving they are, how giving they are, and how truly blessed I am that they are my family!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New glasses!

My last pair of glasses from high school finally broke about a month ago. And when I say broke, I mean they were not fixable. Multiple parts were broken and I was just going to have to buy new frames. Of course, no place will sell you frames without the lenses and the prescription has to be current for that so there is a reason it's been over a month since my glasses broke before I write this blog entry.

But finally I got the money and ordered my "free" pair of glasses from Coastal.com

I did a decent job with the help of a friend, in picking them. They're not as tall as I'd like, but they definitely work better than my broken ones!

Here's a before and after photo.




And if you're not color blind, these new glasses frames should bring out the color of my eyes!


What ya think folks? Any have an opinion? Should I send em back or keep them?



Monday, September 3, 2012

Country living

My family is from the country, as all of ours were at some point in history. But many of mine are still true farmers with big farm land out in rural countryside. I'm talking no paved roads, leaving the house door unlocked, keeping the car key in the ignition at all times, and owning a motor home. Lucky for me, I get the motor home all to myself for the next 3 nights and 2 days. It's spacious and private and I can even pick up the internet signal from the house. Boy do I feel spoiled....until tomorrow comes around and I'm out taking care of cows and driving tractors.

But in the mean time, my family is awesome! This is what I was greeted with upon arrival :)


A nice clean living space all to myself.


And a fully stocked fridge as well as a variety of cereal and candy!

LIFE IS GOOD!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lipault Luggage Desire

So if there is anyone out there that reads my blog and feels generous toward my plight of luggage here's a plea to you.

I've been using a Walmart folding duffle bag for the last 3 years. It's now covered in camo tent tape to hold it together, but I still use it. However, I really need a new one. Not only does the bag have holes I can't tape anymore around the zipper but it's so difficult to pull behind me when walking through the airport since it doesn't have a stiff back nor an extending handle.

I've hunted for a new piece of luggage for a couple years but I need something so specific that I just hadn't found anything that was perfect; until now!

Ever heard of Lipault?

It's a brand that you can buy in the US now, but it's absolutely perfect for me! It's a foldable line of luggage. Now, I'm assuming you all know I live in my car so a non collapsing piece of luggage just isn't an option, but I need something better than what I have now so a cheap replacement isn't a good option. It's amazing my duffle has lasted as long as it has because everyone else I know on ships that bought them all had them destroyed by the airlines between one or 3 flights. I've been lucky, and the tape has helped but I'm ready for something sturdier.

So to help you know more about Lipault, here are a few links for your perusing.
http://www.magellans.com/store/Landing_Pages___Lipault_Luggage
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-products/1204559-lipault-paris-ultra-light-luggage.html

The first link has the line laid out nicely. You can see what options there are. I'm only interested in either the 26" or 28" wheeled upright or the 27" rolling duffle. I'll have to replace my carry on soon, but after my duffle.

And this has nothing to do with my decision making (my current luggage is black), but I love the fact that this luggage comes in fabulous colors!!!!

The second link is a forum site with many comments and reviews on the luggage.

All in all, I believe this luggage would be the perfect fit for me and my lifestyle.

Now just to acquire some....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Picking up the pieces

Sometimes life seems like a nice gentle float ride down a lazy river; or at least that's what people tell me.

I'm not sure I've really experienced that concept outside of working on a cruise ship. Once I cross the gangway life somehow regains its charm and splendor.

It felt at times as though I were standing high above the ground on a small piece of plexiglass and around me, falling ever so slowly, were the various pieces of my life. Pieces I had worked so hard to put in places were coming unglued and falling away and I had no hopes of reaching down to catch them and put them back. It's a very scary feeling and a scary place to be standing. It's also the only place you can be in order to keep growing and rediscover new parts of yourself. Without those precious pieces falling away there would be no room for better, shinier, more fabulous, (insert adjective of your choice), pieces to attach and in result make you a more complete person.

Many people have asked or told me that I should move on, quit pursuing the dream I have and lead a normal life. Why in the world would I want to do that? I'm so glad that despite the road blocks I've encountered, I've continued pushing for what I love. No, I don't want to do this forever, but the time will soon be gone and to have wasted it or let it pass without a fight would have been regrettable in later years. Although, I do live by the standard that you should regret nothing. Life is full of choices and you may want to regret some of the poorer ones you've made, but without making those decision you would not be the person you are today. With that realization, I don't believe regret should be a force in lives, but rather self discovery and exploration.

It's been over a year since I was relegated to land. I've run the course through land's trials, trying not to die upon each new lethal landmine. It has been quite the "adventure" but I'm dying (pun intended) to get back out to sea.

Lucky for me, my new agent finally called me with a job offer. It's been a whirlwind of yes's and no's and maybe's and no shows but it's almost finally come together. There are still a few loose strings flapping around but I'm doing my best to snip them off or pull them in tightly, whichever.

I'm ready to leave Calvert and all the small town feel has to offer. It's not that I don't like small towns, but I'm bored. That sounds harsh I know, but it's the truth.  My person is in constant need of lots of stimulation and there just isn't that much around here. It has been very relaxing though. Days spent laying on the sofa taking naps and petting cats, drinking wine and feeling fine! These days interspersed of course with waking at 6:30 to go to the office, drag the day away, slowly make it home, collapse on the first chair inside the door to check email and fall asleep sitting up.

This new cruise will be a much desired return to the calmness of life that I enjoy, but it will also be a new venture into exciting discoveries of people, places, music and food.

As I change places from Calvert to the ship I'll update you along the way. Still to come is a story of my latest Alaskan adventures, so stay tuned for that.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Good Bye Austin....hello, Calvert?

So my fun time in Austin has come to an end. Every time I visit Austin it's the same, yet different. I am exhausted when I leave from the many activities and parties that seem to be continuous, but I love coming back every time. This particular trip was a new experience in many regards though.

First of all, I always stay with a particular friend, but this time I house sat instead. It was weird being in Austin, living all alone.

Second, I always mountain bike in Austin. I really enjoy the Greenbelt, but also like to take a turn on the Walnut Creek Trail every week if I can. Used to be out on my mountain bike for a few hours every day. But for whatever reason (my guess is because I just came from the west coast), I played sand volleyball nearly every day. Unfortunately for me, even if I'm better at volleyball than mountain biking (which I'm not sure that is true), if I lose, I still have to sit out and consequently not get much exercise in the interim. Still, this trip I managed to play only sand volleyball and miss mountain biking all together. It was much fun though, and most fortunate in the fact that I was able to make a couple new friends and know that next time I visit I will have an alternate activity if I'm too tired to conquer the trails.

After parties and more parties and more activities and even more sporting activities, I've taken all my belongings and continued up the road, although granted this time it was a very short trip. I'm house sitting out in the middle of the middle of nowhere. There is no grocery store in this town. Closest one is 10 miles away. It reminds me of my roots though. Where both my parents are from the towns are smaller or of the same size and since I visited frequently as a child I'm familiar with the lifestyle and can even come to terms with not having an all night store of some kind in close proximity. In a way it is very relaxing. I definitely appreciate this after my month of Austin frivolity.

The down side to this event (which also happens to be an upside), is that I have a month long job.....that starts at 9 in the morning. Now, that may not seem to early for most of you, but considering my regular sleep schedule is bed time: 3-5 a.m., rise: 9-11 a.m., then you can see the dilemma. I must rise every morning at 6:30 in order to feed the animals (of which there are several indoors and outdoors), feed myself, get ready, get lunch together, mid morning snack together, mid afternoon snack together (I eat frequently), and prepare anything thing else on the agenda. It's been quite the non adjustment period. After a month I will probably collapse from sheer exhaustion as my body will no doubt defy any attempts to reconcile itself to the "normal" schedule.

But I'm only one week into the new job, so we will see how it all turns out at the end of the month. Until then, expect no more updates as it's all I can do to stay awake for the one hour one way trip each way and successfully feed each animal the appropriate food, including myself.

To all, a good night.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Arrived at Austin

I've relocated yet again. Successfully hit the road for three days and two nights and arrived in Austin TX a few days ago. Having now recovered from the rather taxing trip of sleeping in my car during the hot days and driving during the slightly cooler nights, I'm updating everyone on my safety status :)

It's good to be back in Austin. I always love visiting. Granted, not the most ideal month of the year, but always fun none the less. I'll be mountain biking, playing sand and water volleyball, hopefully playing some tennis if I can find a partner, and dancing dancing dancing of course! There's a contra and blues dance a week and sometimes two. It's hard to fit everything in to my permanent vacation schedule.

During this time in Austin I'll also be practicing hard for a couple upcoming auditions so everyone wish me steadfastness and stick-to-it-ness so I can be prepared when the time comes.

On the way across west TX I encountered a magnificent storm. Here's a subpar picture.

And if I hadn't been so exhausted I would have enjoyed the extended drive between Junction and Austin just before dawn. It is now apparent to me that a huge, I mean, enormous population of white tail deer inhabit that area. Instead of the 75 mph I was hoping to drive so that I made it to my new home by sunrise, I drove a measly 40-45 mph to avoid hitting the numerous deer in the road, beside the road, crossing the road, walking along the road, etc.  I could feel the knots forming in my back as I gripped the steering wheel with both hands and leaned forward slightly for the best view of the road around my car frame. As it was still dark, my high beams afforded me the only, still insufficient light to see the deer as they grazed on the grass. Fortunately I had no close encounters with the deer; just a couple of rabbits that tried to play chicken with my tires. Happy to say none were hurt in the process. It was a tiring feat to make sure that everyone and everything survived the night unscathed. Next time, I shall not drive through that part of TX at daybreak again. Lesson sufficiently learned.

If any of you readers have suggestions where to eat or party or play here in Austin please send it along. I've done lots, but there is lots more to do. It's Austin after all!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Today it just happened to coincide that I went to the Ronald Reagan museum on the 4th of July. I was hoping that there wouldn't be school tours and most people would be home with family enjoying their vacation day, but I was wrong. There was a big celebration with bands, face painting, hot dogs and water balloon tosses, dressed up presidents for pictures and other festivities. Since I had other plans that evening I got there within the first half hour of opening and boy was I glad I did. The cars were parked all the way down the long winding street that leads to the library by the time I left.

Once again a sunny day in southern California, I enjoyed the band for a small bit outside in the courtyard wishing I had a swing partner to dance with me. Then it was on to the tour of the library itself.

I've been to a couple other presidential libraries and this was indeed a very nice one. I think had I not been getting a blister on my toe and also been worried about the time I would have enjoyed it more. There was much to see and read.

This library is well known for it's inclusion of Air Force One, the actual plane that Reagan flew across the world with numerous times in his time as president. They have the plane set up so you can walk in the front just behind the pilot and controls and then wander back and exit at the rear where the press would have entered. Because it was a walk-through it seemed a little bizarre. Walls and doors were missing, a wax figure sat stiffly in a seat, curtains were drawn, and ropes were up with signs forbidding entry. There was no photography allowed, although I watched as two people snapped pictures on their phones before the third was reprimanded. If you're in my circles on google+, new photos will be added there eventually....still working on my last trips pictures first.

All in all, there was a nice flow with good definition between the rooms. Plenty of hands on fun for the kids (and adults), and numerous videos of varying lengths. So far this is in the top two of my favorite libraries. Can't decide yet between the Reagan and Bush library in College Station. Both had pros and cons that I really enjoyed or disliked. I'll have to weigh them all for a few days before declaring my verdict of favorite.

So glad I went. Not sure I should have spent the money at this point in time, but I was here, had the opportunity, had the motivation, and the interest. I couldn't say no. Next library to visit, LBJ in Austin. Slowly working my way through, learning of history, learning of people, learning of places, learning of myself.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Visit Boston MA


Half a year ago I took a short trip to Boston and recently in my continual state or reorganization and moving I came across the itinerary that I had planned. I'd thought I'd write some of the things down so that if anyone is interested in a trip to Boston or has been and would like to discuss it would be helpful.

I was there for three days and four nights. And I packed a lot into that time. The first day began with a trip to the Boston Public Main Library. It's a famous historical landmark and it's free! Centrally located, it's easy to walk to or take the subway and it's worth the time because the building is so beautiful. And who doesn't like a vast room lined with old books and that old musty smell?

Then it was on to the Museum of Science. At the time I was there they had the Pompeii exhibit. Wow, was that amazing. If that exhibit comes near you I highly recommend going because it's very good. Otherwise, the museum was a bit lackluster. I much prefer other science museums I've been to over this one.

After the Science Museum, I opted for the Natural History Museum at Harvard. It had several interesting rooms and so very many animals inside. I couldn't stop taking pictures. It was well laid out and quite informative without being exhausting.

Just down the street was a thing some people may or may not find interesting, but I certainly did. In the Mary Baker Library was a 1611 King James Bible. Apparently it's on tour so if you hear about it nearby you should see it just for the historical worth. The pages and binding and print and language were so intriguing. Some of it was almost impossible to read and certainly reading it out loud like they used to would have been quite difficult because of the extreme elaborate font. But I guess you get used to it like you get used to everything else eventually. It was very cool to see such an important piece of old history.

And if I hadn't been to enough museums yet, I decided to go to the MIT campus museum. This was hands down my favorite museum of the whole vacation. They had a cool Robots exhibit as well as many other ones that were just super fascinating. I spent hours there and it's not that big of a museum, but you just can't take in enough. And some of the items on display are so interesting you just want to not move on to the next . And they have lots of hands on displays too which of course are always fun. Highly recommend this museum if you ever get to Boston. The campus is pretty cool too!

Now on to the topic of food. I like lots of ethnic variety so first I stopped at Lucy's Ethiopian Cafe. If you've have traditional Ethiopian before you will not enjoy this cafe. I didn't. The flavors weren't as good and the service style was too contemporary for me.

Kaze Shabu Shabu (Japanese Hot Pot) was excellent!! Went there for lunch on the second day and there was a big menu with lots of variety of noodles, meat, fish, and broths. It was super duper tasty but....the service was hideous. Our waitress actually left and we had to ask a couple times to different waitresses to get water and dessert and our check. It was absolutely terrible. However, I think it was just our waitress because all the other ones were running around serving guests and clearing tables. It was just ours that went missing in action. Sad. Good food though.

Skipped lunch one day to get as much museum time in as possible, but enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. Open design place with great service. Dressy place but they didn't turn us away for being slightly under dressed. Food was good. I wouldn't say to the level the service was, nor the price. But definitely not bad in any regard. It's a popular place on the tourist list and nicely located and not a waste of time to eat there, but if you have very refined taste like me, I'll tell you where you should go instead.

Menton French Restaurant!!!!!! Far and away the best food I've had in a while. Very knowledgeable and attentive staff. Definitely five star restaurant. It's the traditional pre fixe menu of three or four courses. I opted for three and was treated to a free cheese plate and amouse bouch. Everything was cooked to perfection and tasted superb. The wine suggestion was spot on and to top it off, the check was not as much as I'd expected! You'll pay more in NY or Vegas for sure and the food and service here was cream de la cream. Make sure to make a reservation though because this place got packed! I arrived at the very beginning of the dinner hour with only one other couple and when I left there were no empty tables. This is definitely a place to eat while in Boston.

For an evening of enjoyment I started at Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale. It was dark and had a nice beer selection. Hard to view the tv's so watching the sports was difficult. It was an enjoyable way to duck out of the rain though and I would sit down again with some good company and a good beer.

Another of the nights found me at the Schullers Jazz Club. I'm a true lover of classic jazz. Unfortunately I was unaware that the trio for that evening was contemporary. A pricier place, I would not go back unless in generous company and with confirmation of a desired band.

Probably my most enjoyable night was spent at the Stanza Dei Sigari. A little cozy place with good drinks (I enjoyed tasty port), cigar and hookah selections, and an inviting environment.

All in all, the trip was awesome. If you get the chance to visit any of these fabulous venues do let me know, or if you already have, please share your stories. I can't wait to visit again and create more fun and fabulous memories!