Los Angeles is on fire
The air is filled with smoke
Houston is underwater
It’s like some unbalanced cosmic joke
The world is speeding by
I’m trying to hold on
Right when I think I’ve got it
I blink and then it’s gone.
Nearly a year after I bought myself a interface so I could record songs at home, I finally sat down and recorded some of my recent songs.
Our house is in a bit of an uproar, since our whole downstairs is in boxes and all over the place because of recent water damage and the new cabinets and floors are in the process of being replaced. So it took a little while to find all the parts – the microphone, the microphone converter and the guitar cord – and it took a few minutes to set up everything up. Fortunately there are some tutorials on YouTube so I could figure out all the settings.
Yesterday I figured out the basics and was ready to record today. I only had a few hours of the Ableton live trial left so I set aside some time this morning to record the songs. When I turned on my computer, I received a notice that my computer detected a virus and needed to scan the computer so I got that started. For the next few hours, as I was trying to record the songs, a pop-up screen popped up every minute or so so I had to keep closing it.
With an hour or so left of the trial period – and many takes on the recording – I finally got one I thought sounded good. I went to save it and my computer crashed.
True story. A blue screen error (I found out that was what it was called as I troubleshooted on my laptop.) The virtual assistant game me instructions on what to do after the computer restarted a few times and didn’t show me the start screen, but my computer never restarted so that didn’t help. So I just shut down the computer. Things seem to be working so far, but unfortunately the last recording didn’t save so I had to set everything up again and try it again.
After I exported it, I made a little video using pictures from the awesome Pixabay site and here it is, my first recording using my little red interface. The song is called “Where we’ve been” and I wrote it during our trip to Las Vegas last week. I started it on the drive there, sang it all week, reworking much of the verses. I added the guitar when I got back home, made some more changes and here it is:
My last post focused on finding myself in the place I meant to go to, but for something totally different than I expected. This past week, I realized that now that my schedule isn’t as structured as it was when I was working full-time, things seem to be moving in all sorts of unexpected directions.
For example, this is the week when the big renovations start to the bottom level of our home after the water damage earlier this year. The insurance companies involved gave their OK, the cabinets and flooring are selected and the renovations are scheduled. So the big plan last weekend and this week was to clear out everything downstairs – the bookshelves and the kitchen cabinets and whatever else to prepare for demolition/rebuilding.
But then last Thursday afternoon, the house didn’t seem to be cooling down. The temperature outside was about 119 degrees and it was starting to get a little uncomfortable inside. We called an air conditioning company, turned on all our fans and that evening endured the high-80s temperature inside. Then I spent Friday morning packing and doing a little work then me and the boys and our dog headed to my Dad’s house for the weekend. My husband stopped by at the store on the way home from work, we had Shabbat dinner at my Dad’s house and then stayed through Tuesday morning. The times we stopped back at home to pick up or drop off things, the temperature was 94-95 degrees.
Then on Sunday, the boys were supposed to sing at a little Fourth of July event, but when we got in the car and I turned the keys, the ignition made a few clicking sounds then stopped. My husband was about to leave to teach one of his students and told me that there should be a AAA receipt in the glove compartment that would have information about the battery. We had gotten a new battery nearly three years ago, under my husband’s account, and we found out that it would be replaced for free if he would be there when the technician arrived. So he rescheduled his appointment and we were able to wait in the comfort of my dad’s house – rather than in a shopping center parking lot or who knows where else in triple-digit temperatures. And the battery was replaced for free-three months before the three-year warranty was up. The following day, I had an appointment for an oil change scheduled and at that time we likely would have discovered the battery problem during the appointment, but I probably wouldn’t have thought to look in the glove department for the AAA receipt.
So here I am today, with the air conditioning cooling our house and feeling extremely grateful that we had a cool place to go while we were waiting for it to be repaired. And though our house is currently in a state of disorder, I am – at least at this very moment – feeling very zen and at peace with the ebb and flow of life.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently signed up for a community college course about song copyrights and making a demo. As it got closer, I noticed that it was no longer listed in the online version of the class schedule.
But since I didn’t receive an email notifying me of its cancellation and I never remembered to call when the school office was open, I decided to just show up anyway just in case.
When I got to the classroom, there was a group of people congregated around the locked door, but when I mentioned the class, nobody knew what I was talking about. I was referred to the guy who worked there when he came and unlocked the door, but he made a quick phone call on his cell phone and he wasn’t able to verify anything about the class. But it turned out there was a free beatmaking workshop that was scheduled to take place in that same room at the same time and the instructor invited me to stay.
So I did.
This was the same school that offered the free recording workshops last summer that I went to, but when I got the flyer about this summer’s offerings, I didn’t bother to put it on my calendar since it interfered with the class I registered for. And “beatmaking” didn’t intrigue me as much as last year’s offerings so I probably wouldn’t have made the special trip across town to attend.
I’m so glad I did. The workshop was an introduction to Ableton Live and it was SO COOL! One my biggest struggles to my songs is getting them to sound like I want them to sound because of my limited ability of playing guitar (and other instruments). So the idea that I could make the songs electronically was really eye-opening. (By the way, I discovered later that week when I submitted my request for a refund for the class, that the cancellation message had been sent to my school account, which I didn’t know to check since this is my first class at the school.)
I’ve downloaded the free 30-day trial to see if I can figure it out. It’s slow-going because I’ve already forgotten some of the basics from the workshop (and I don’t have a MIDI keyboard), but I noticed that there is an electronic music class in the fall at the school.
And who knows, maybe showing up at the right place at the right time but for a totally different class could lead somewhere really exciting.
I experienced a big change this past week – after 17 years at the same job (different roles through the years, but the same company), last week was officially my last week as an employee.
It’s bittersweet because the company’s mission is something I value very much and the people I’ve crossed paths with through the years are very dear to me. But changes over the past few years in both my workplace and my personal life eventually led to my decision.
The shift began a few weeks ago after changes in our carpool situation led to me making the 20-minute drive each way to school (a total of 80 minutes each day, plus the stress of trying to make it to both places on time while thinking of all the things that I needed to get done that I couldn’t do at that moment).
In order to help pass the time in a positive way, I picked up some motivational CDs from the library: “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale; “What I Know For Sure” by Oprah Winfrey and “Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today” by Lisa Nichols.
Their messages were similar and had a similar impact on me, emphasizing that I needed to make a change in my life. The message that everybody is here on earth for a purpose and everybody has their own purpose. Some people are inspired to become doctors or firefighters, others are drawn to music and others science. Whatever it is, everybody is different and thank goodness for that since the world needs all types of services and products.
For me, it’s been writing. Since third grade I knew I wanted to be a writer and in high school, I was on the newspaper staff, the yearbook staff and was writing song lyrics with melodies.
Earl Nightingale’s big message was: “We become what we think about.”
When I think about it, I see that in my own life. Before this job, I worked at a corporation for four years and all I could think about was wanting to work as a writer at a newspaper.
One of the things I think about often now is songwriting. Although I’ve written songs for years, there was a lull of about 10 years and I only recently started writing again .
So a few weeks ago, I spoke to G-d and asked him if I should be doing anything about my passion for writing songs. Should I be doing something different with my work? I knew it was time to make a change, but I wasn’t sure what it should be.
Then I went to the Internet to see if I could find an answer. I went to Groupon and looked for music lessons to see if there was any sign there. And there was a Groupon for four songwriting lessons! So I bought the Groupon and as of today, I’ve had my four lessons and hope to continue.
After I finished my fourth lesson, I thought I’d look at the local community college to see if there were any music classes there I could take. And there was a summer course about songwriting copyrights and the process to make a demo! So I signed up.
After hearing the message from all three audiobooks that the opportunities to do what you want to do are out there, but you have to take action, I decided to act on both of these. Who knows, maybe that Grammy speech I practiced back in high school will someday be televised or maybe I’ll just be happy that the songs in my head made it to a recording, but either way I feel compelled to do something.
When I was thinking of this summer and continuing the hectic schedule with summer camp mirroring the school routine, all I felt was anxiety. And when I looked at the numbers, I realized that the cost of camp would be more than my income. And then I realized that what I really wanted to do was to spend the summer with my kids. My youngest has just turned 7 and I’ve been facing the reality of how quickly time flies and how quickly kids grow up.
So that led to my decision to make a change. It’s a little scary because I’ve worked full-time for so long, but I have some ideas for moving forward that I’m really looking forward to exploring. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to just hang out with my boys this summer. Time is so precious and even though I just had to go break up yet another fight between two of them, I am looking toward this summer with a great deal of excitement!
It always intrigues me how some people make such an impact on the world that when they leave it there are articles, documentaries, tributes and are celebrated years after they die. While others depart the world with nary a mention.
And some even have aspects of their life preserved, nearly untouched, 40 years after their death.
As you may guess from the above photograph, I am talking about Elvis. (I recently came across the newspaper clipping above at my dad’s house – the house I grew up in. It was hidden behind some books in a bookshelf in the guest bedroom and apparently clipped with a pair of scissors with jagged edges that I remember from my childhood.)
Last month my family and I were in Memphis and visited Graceland. We took the tour of Graceland and Elvis’s airplanes, both were decorated with the same items that were part of his daily life. The upstairs of his house – where he died – is off limits and apparently has been since the day he died. From what I’ve read, items in the rooms upstairs remain exactly how they were 40 years ago, although of course I don’t know for sure.
But it was weird to think that Elvis stood in the same rooms that my family and I stood in and that it was his home. (And that he never reached the age that I am now.) Talk about making an impact on the world, he is definitely one example.
Here are some photos from Graceland:
Photographs capture a moment in time and are often the moments we remember because they are captured in a photograph.
The internet is full of photographs captured forever, even those some people wish would disappear forever.
I think I will purposely not include any photographs on this post simply because it is titled “Photographs” and is about photographs and that’s just the kind of mood I am in tonight.
It’s the old candid photographs that often get to me the most. People experiencing a single moment together, their togetherness captured in a single second. Then decades later they appear on the internet. Not only did they not know that single second would be available decades later – perhaps even after they were no longer on this earth – for billions of people to see, they had no concept of the internet, cyberspace or even a computer. They were just experiencing a moment together.
When I was younger, I used to write regularly in a journal, a college-ruled spiral notebook, and often during times of stress, I’d write and write until the anxiety slowly dissolved. I’m not sure if it works the same way in a blog, but I thought I’d give it a try.
(Sure this is public, but nobody actually reads this blog anyway and in case somebody does stumble across it someday, maybe it will help them. Not like that pile of notebooks in the other room.)
So here it goes. Here’s what the next two weeks look like:
OK, deep breath. Now here’s the part that’s supposed to make me feel better.
You know what? That actually worked. I’ve got a lot going on the next two weeks and it’s going to be a bit crazy, but it’ll be OK. Who said life was supposed to be easy?
I know it’s better to focus on the positive side of things and the gratitude, but that’s easy to forget (like this morning when one of my kids had a meltdown on the way to school because he realized a few blocks away from school on our 20-minute drive that today was bring-a-stuffed-animal-to-school day and he forgot his stuffed animal or this afternoon after my kids begged me to try the Pokemon Go Frappachino from Starbucks on the way to their piano lesson and then one of them accidentally spilled the whole thing upside down all over his backpack and on the floor of my car…) Yes, those moments. Those challenges to keep calm and patient (I failed both times, although I think they ended up as teachable moments).
Take a deep breath…
Work in transition
The landscaping is finally finished and the fake grass looks so green and beautiful
There are even plastic picnic tables on the lawn so you can eat your lunch there
But nobody does.
Inside the building, the hallways are unfinished, with cardboard lining the floor
The walls are painted gray and the painter painted right over the mezuzah
The bathroom has new tiles, lots of black and white tiles, but no mirror
The new paper towel holder is very shiny
Inside our office, most of the staff is gone, there are only three of us left
What once felt like a family now feels like survivors hanging on
Not knowing how long we will stay adrift
Will we reach the flourishing oasis
Or we will drown before we reach the promised land?
Home in transition
After a refrigerator leak, a team came and knocked out a few feet of the wall
separating our living room and kitchen
Plus a couple of cabinets
Pots, pans and assorted appliances sit on the counter
Boxes and bags and cans of food are stacked in bigger boxes on the floor
In the next few weeks, we will need to pack up the kitchen and our living room
And relocate the furniture to our garage
To make room for new flooring
Life in transition
When so many parts of life feel like they are under construction
Is it a sign that it’s time to move on to the next chapter of our life?
So many slogans
Floating all around
I don’t know which sign to hold
Or stick in the ground
Bumper stickers are a big commitment
Because I might change my mind
I’d love to be an activist
If I could only find the time.