Uncaged

Queens of the Stone Age, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA, September 13, 2017.

Things have been hectic. Things. Whatever the hell I mean by that generic statement. I’ve been busy. Work, picking up a freelance writing job, kid back in school, regular early morning gym sessions (despite my strange inability to sleep properly anymore), trying desperately to catch up on art projects and sewing obligations…this and more + more than that + emotions + more than that. Needless to say, a night to let go and just say “fuck it” hasn’t been an option. A lot was riding on this midweek concert. It had to be good. If my “fuck it” time was ruined, I might very well pack it in and accept life as pure drudgery.

I suppose I could post a setlist, but I don’t really intend to write a traditional review. I want to say how this show made me feel—vibes were in the air. Good vibes? Maybe. Intense vibes? Kinda. Communal/good/intense/irreverent/totally not irreverent at all…just vibes. I felt a whole-ness by the end of the night that I didn’t realize I’ve desperately needed.

The way the city is alit around the venue is truly magical. A light rain added to the ambiance. Josh Homme said was ready to leave himself on that stage and he did not disappoint. He claimed to have a “weird day” and I could relate to that. We had spent the afternoon rushing through Eliot’s hefty homework assignment before leaving him with the grandparents and my anxiety was on full tilt for most of the drive in to the city. I was resolved my mind would wreck the entire night. He continued, “Sometimes I just feel like a caged animal. I need this tonight.” Me too, dude.

I found a spot where I could move freely and danced and danced and danced some more. A fellow in front of me, also dancing and dancing and dancing some more, turned to me during the end of “3’s and 7’s” and passed me a joint “…making us all forget, making us all forget.” At this point, the three glasses of Sangria I sucked down from dinner had worn off, so I happily obliged. Bye, bye, needless worry. Kindly fuck off tonight.

The encore was dreamy. “I Appear Missing,” “Villains of Circumstance” (which translates amazingly live, by the way), and “Song for the Dead.” The energy did not dissipate not once. It laid heavy on the band, on the crowd — a true congregation of weirdos willing to let all our baggage linger like a fog dancing in the lights of the city and the cool evening air.

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Jeez, Louise! Joy in existing.

  1. Who am I?
  2. If I had just 4 months to live, how would I spend that time?
  3. What would I like to have contributed when life my life is complete?

Three questions posed by the Rich Roll podcast. Three pretty obvious “la la woo woo new agey self development” questions. Maybe not? To me, at least. I’m no stranger to that woo woo shit. But, are you surprised that these three questions absolutely fucking paralyze me? Especially that “who am I?”—who is anyone? FUCK.

I try consciously to notice love and joy in every moment of the day (I’m looking at you sweet ‘lil chirping birds in the trees outside the Children’s Museum this morning), but I also get easily caught up in negativity and expectation (both societal and self imposed). My emotions fluctuate a lot in day, hell, in a hour sometimes. Digressssss. During this podcast, there was mention of the things that stirred happiness in your six-year-old self. I suppose that’s a good jumping point from my gravy brain, so I am going to attempt to suss some of this out.

As a six-year-old, I was talking to trees. I was standing on stumps and singing to grass. I was outside a lot. I was riding a bike (I want a new bike—this is something recently on my mind). I drew pictures of super tall women and portraits of my family. I watched movies and kept to myself a lot. I wrote in my diary. I recorded songs from the radio onto cassette tape. I begged my mom to buy me poster boards from the grocery store and I would spend an entire afternoon making a GIANT collage from old Metropolitan Home magazines (We lived in a trailer; I resented the shit out of this magazine and I know my mom never willingly subscribed to it. There was this weird time bubble in the 80s and 90s when magazines just appeared at your fucking house—it’s a fact).

The past couple of nights Eliot and I have spent an hour or so working on collages made from old National Geographic magazines Joe picked up at a yard sale (from the 80s, no less—I’m just putting that “coincidence” together at this moment). I found myself in that sweet spot where you lose time. Even cooler to get to experience it with your eight-year-old kid. (Will he sit down and write something like this one day?) I have a lot of ideas and feel cool about making simply for the sake of it.

I’ve been caught up the past couple of years in having a “plan” financially to get out of my day job. I’m not entirely divorced from that mindset, but it has almost always included a way to make money from art—not that I’m downing that—but it really helps you to lose the whole purpose of making art in the first place. I think most creative minds can attest to that. The making, the doing, has to be the first priority or the rest of it is just an inauthentic wank off fest.

To quote David Lynch: “Enjoy the doing. So many people do stuff but they don’t enjoy the doing of it. And I always say, that’s your life going by. It’s important to enjoy the doing of something. Jeez, Louise!”

So, I suppose I do find joy in making. Joy in existing. Joy in creating. Joy in expressing myself and convening with nature. Joy in consuming the art of others. I am pretty sure that answers all my questions in one. I’m not shocked they are all interconnected…I’m sure that’s the point of the entire exercise. I need to do all or part of these things every day with that intention alone—joy.

How do these questions make you feel?

The Consumption! #2

I sat down to write this next post about the media I am binging on and — would you look at that — the 2016 Austin City Limits episode is on PBS with Ryan Adams and Shakey Graves. Duh. Ryan is a no-brainer. But, I’ve never given Shakey Graves a listen. Just fell under my radar, really. I’ve been doing Yoga With Adriene videos on YouTube for a few years now and I know he contributed the theme song. That’s all I know. But, man, this dude is crushing shit. He sounds awesome. So, yeah, gonna have to delve into that dude’s tunes.

Speaking of tunes, here’s some other stuff I’ve been listening to:

Forth Wanderers. They popped up on my Spotify discover playlist and I really dug it. Definitely in the category of a lot of newer bands that are clearly very influenced by the ’90s blah blah and all that same old tired shit that Pitchfork and Stereogum and whatever-the-hell-else article says. Whatever it sounds like, I like it. There’s a tone deaf, droney, unpolished sound that speaks to my angst.

Some other music I have reallllly been digging on is Trentemøller. He’s an electronic producer from Denmark. Super dancey goth rock. Another style that holds a really special place in my nostalgic heart. This particular song has a guest vocal from Jehnny Beth from Savages (whom I love, too…even more so after seeing them live this year. Such an ace band. Highly underrated).

Speaking of live shows, I am really jonesing for a Deftones show. We had tickets to their tour with Refused this fall, but things fell through. This is the first year in a long time I haven’t gone to a Deftones show. HOWEVER, today the mail gifted us with our Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds tickets for June (JUNE. IT’S SO FAR AWAY). But, the anticipation for that bucket list gig will carry me for quite some time. So unbelievably stoked for that show.

Music done. Let’s move on to this AWESOME podcast (I’m sorry I keep ALL CAPS yelling and giving these asides; feeling a little scattered today). It’s called Homecoming. It’s new, so there’s not a lot of catching up to do.

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Amazing cast: Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Cross, David Schwimmer, and Amy Sedaris. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it’s damn good fiction with absolutely fantastic and realistic production. You feel like you are IN this story. It is exceptional and you should totally be listening to it if you like podcasts.

Welp, this has been fun yet again. I am about to go watch the newest SNL. I’m already fantasizing about the new pillow Joe bought me today, so I doubt I’ll make it through the whole episode. Whatevs.

Peace, y’all. x

 

 

Bright & Busy – Personal Style Evolution & Art Inspiration

I’ve been working on a lot of commission work lately, so the other night I took some time to work on updating my own denim jacket. A close friend sewed me a new patch and I had a couple vintage patches I’ve been sitting on for a few years (yikes!) that really needed a new home. I love that jacket. I bought it for maybe $10 at Avalon Exchange in Oakland (Pittsburgh, PA) in maybe 2004. Memory is fuzzy about the nitty gritty (pointless) details, but I remember picking it up and seeing the moon and star buttons like it was yesterday. I have such distinct memories of combing the racks of that store. I was in an intense Morrissey phase at the time (some things never change, just evolve a bit), so I was on an obsessive mission to find the perfect denim jacket.

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Mega babe inspiration.

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My own patch in the middle I’m pretty proud of. Still so much space to explore and fill on this thing.

I’ve always been more inspired by quirky and outcast men’s fashions than super girly style. Not to say I look at a beautiful feminine aesthetic and cringe, it just isn’t my go-to ensemble. The days I go super femme, I am not being completely honest with myself. I am open to experimentation, but I feel most comfortable in jackets, t-shirts, jeans, and flannel.

Another one of my clothing inspirations is Ryan Adams. Something about him feels like home. I cannot explain it, but he speaks to me on many levels. I’m pretty sure his influence on my life is painfully overplayed. I have the tattoos to prove it. Sorry, guys (no, I’m definitely not).

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Ry at Newport Folk Festival, 2014, repping Terminator and the Canadian tuxedo.

Speaking of Ryan Adams, he shares a birthday with the late, great Gram Parsons. I’m sitting here sipping a glass of Riesling listening to The Guilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers. Let’s talk about Mr. Parsons and the Nudie Suit and a style I’m in the mood of not only emulating, but creating and adapting to my own art style, as well.

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Gram in the Nudie Cohn original design.

These bright and bold designs have me so inspired, people. I’ve always had this style subconsciously on my radar, but, lately, I am particularly drawn to the vivid beauty. I’m not saying I want to start sewing polyester suits, but I am saying I want to start upcycling some thrifted and vintage pieces with lucid designs that scream: “I’M ALIVE, MOTHERFUCKER!” I’ve also just heard of Manuel Cuervas. I’m woefully behind, man.

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Manuel Cuevas suits

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Jack White in Manuel Cuevas garb.

When I was a kid, there were two things I always said I wanted to be when I grew up: a cartoonist and a fashion designer. Why not combine the two?

First Snow, First Quilt

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First official quilt I’ve ever had enough patience to complete. The satisfaction is real. I don’t want to give it away. But, alas, all good things must end.

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I just love these cabins so much. Much less creepy to take pictures of them in the winter because no one is living in them.

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Almost the mark of the beast. The bite of the beast, perhaps?

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Mona on high alert.

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Pretty and dying.

On being well

Before I even launch into it, I’m listening to this Spotify mix called “Lush Vibes” and really blissing out. Check that shit out.

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Onward with the word vomit — I’ve been super swamped with sewing projects lately. A lot of commissions. Not complaining, believe me…it feels good to be pursued for my talents. But, damn, I have no time. Working 40 hours a week (and we’ve been BUSY), juggling household duties, my son back in school, etc. etc. has made it fairly challenging to squeeze in time in a day for the thing I actually enjoy doing. On top of that, I have gotten back into exercising regularly. Not that I hadn’t before, but I’m serious with it in that I am back to challenging myself, topping goals, getting higher reps, running faster and longer. I signed up for a Savage Race (I mean, shit, it’s not until next summer, but whatever) and I have this intense and renewed desire to just kick all the ass. Be the healthiest me. Feel super comfortable with how I look, yes, but also super confident with how well my body performs. And, of course, the ever present (but true) cliche of setting a good example for my kid.

With this renewed vigor for healthy living, I’ve been perusing instagram accounts and reading other people’s stories…because it’s just what you do. You look for someone that’s on a similar journey and you get inspired. It keeps you focused and motivated. I’ve noticed a lot of people into this beachbody thing. While I’m not solely in the business of weight loss, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a part of the equation. I do see a lot of different types of girls, not just your typical “fitness model Barbie” basic chicks into this stuff. I see a lot of them do coaching and I’ve been researching it. Of course I’ve been intrigued. I’ve considered jumping on the bandwagon, but adding more to my plate right now seems fool hardy. Also, do I really want to push stuff on people? Not particularly. I am everyone’s counselor in my life though it seems and for that it intrigues me further. Basically, I haven’t ruled it out, but I still think it’s wise to focus my time mostly on keeping my head above water and getting this sewing thing on course.

I am aware I say it all the time, but I know I can’t do this full time corporate grind forever. I’m motivated and I’ll find my niche elsewhere eventually, I’m sure. Until then, I’ll just continue to vibe and live as fully as possible.

Stomp and see

Things are finding me. Which is pleasant. I’ve always been a Romantic like that. I’m open.

Picked up this Walt Whitman bio from Caliban bookstore in Pittsburgh a couple months ago. I was drawn to it. Green is my favorite color. Thick books make me salivate. When I opened the cover I saw the lovely drawing and I was certain I wouldn’t regret the purchase. Was never deep into Whitman, though I am cognizant that he is a spirit that has followed me throughout my teenage and adult life. Figured I should start following him in return. A mutual soul-stalking if you will.

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First edition, 1926

Walt is encouraging my inner wanderer. She’s always been there, but I’m sure she could use a hell of a lot more breathing room. Less anxiety and worry. Less pressure. Kicking against the pricks.

I walk every day during my lunch break. Sometimes I have lovely company, sometimes I go it alone. An hour doesn’t seem like a very long time for introspection and observation. I suppose it depends on what you do with that hour. It can go really fast. It can slowly drag on. Time is relative like that (that’s right, I said it. Throw your watch on the fire…maybe, that’s a little hasty, but whatever).

What things can you see in an hour? Where can you go? Just wander aimlessly. It’s freeing. Crank some tunes and find out! Walked an old familiar way, but I managed to see new things.

(Music of choice this gloomy afternoon is Mitski’s new album “Puberty 2″…exquisite, by the way, holy hell).

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Today’s soundtrack.

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An eye in an alleyway. Big Brother is watching; maybe some less sinister like Mr. Walt Whitman from the Great Beyond.

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View through a fence through the trees of an old and mossy bridge.

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An old skateboard abandoned in the back of a discarded truck bed lining. And my feet.

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Beautiful GREEN moss on the tree near the skateboard scene. Everything’s coming up green.

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Geese on the move.

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Groundhog #1

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He thought this camouflage maneuver was sneaky.

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I didn’t know this notebook changed color in the heat.

I sat by the water for a bit and watched a playful Chihuahua wearing a bandana chase his tail in the grass. His owner, a thin, older man, gleamed just as much joy as I did from watching the little turd having the time of his life. I smiled as I walked back to work. Vibes in the air, y’all.