Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Before The World Ends...

According to The Mayan calender, the world is going to end this Friday.  Now, I don't believe it actually will, but just in case The Mayans were right, I figured I should update this blog.

I don't have any grand life updates or excuses for you this time.  Instead, I have a video I recently made.  I had a lot of fun putting this together and I would love it if you took three minutes to watch it.  And if you like it, feel free to share it on whatever social networks you use these days. 


What do YOU want to do before the world ends?

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Really Hope You Guys Find This Funny And Not Just Sad...

Once again, I haven't updated this blog in awhile.  I think I've been waiting for a moment when I didn't feel completely cynical.  That moment is yet to come.  Whatever.  I'll update my blog anyway. 

I've become obsessed with making salsa.
A few nights ago, I was in the kitchen making my own salsa when the phone rang.  I was having an intense moment with the blender and hate answering the phone anyway, so I ignored it.  Unfortunately, my dad ended up picking it up and handing it to me.  "Lauren, it's for you," he said, ignoring the look of utter annoyance on my face.  No one calls me on the home phone except for people doing political surveys.  I took a deep breath and stepped away from my precious salsa, prepared to explain that I will NOT be voting for Mitt Romney.

But the call was not related to politics.  It was a work study student from the college I graduated from.  She was calling on behalf of the university's alumni relations department and politely asked if she could chat with me for a minute.  Reluctantly, I agreed, thinking it wouldn't be so bad.  After all, she seemed nice enough and started by innocently asking if I had signed up to receive the alumni newsletter via email.  No big deal. 

She then recited the address of my parents' house to me and asked if that was still where I lived.  I confirmed with her that yes, that was still my address.  Then she stated that she doesn't have any employment information for me and asked if I could update that for her.  I told her that there was nothing to update.  If I had been in a snarkier mood, I might have told her to write "Starving Artist," but I really just wanted to get through the phone call so I could go back to taste-testing my salsa. 

She asked what my favorite part of going to that school was.  I babbled on about a professor that apparently retired before she started going there, which made me feel old.  There was an awkward pause and I could tell she was turning the page of the script she was reading off of.  Then the rest of the conversation quickly packed itself into a hand basket and shipped itself to hell. 

It went something like this:

Her:  "Now, the second reason I'm calling is because this college is committed to offering a Christ-centered education and is collecting an alumni fund to allow other students to attend this school.  Are you able to donate the amount of $50 to this fund?"

Me: "No, I'm sorry, I'm really broke."

Her:  "That's alright - we understand that times are hard for a lot of people and that you may not be able to commit to donating that amount of money.  However, this college is dedicated to offering a Christ-centered education and takes pride in the tradition of alumni students giving back.  Are you able to donate the amount of $25 to this fund?"

Me:  "No, actually, I don't have any money."

Her:  "That's okay - we understand that not everyone is financially able to contribute that amount.  However, this college offers a Christ-centered education and has a high percentage of alumni students contributing to this fund that helps other students attend this school.  Are you able to donate the amount of $5 to this fund?"

Fiesta time.
What I Wanted To Say But Didn't Say:  "You know that address you confirmed earlier?  You know where that is?  That is my parents' house.  Do you know why I'm here?  Because I have no money!  Did you even look at the date that I graduated?  It was a little over two years ago.  I've spent that time making up for a lifetime of being 'the responsible one' by pursuing an elusive rock & roll career and living in places that don't always have hot water.  If I had more money, I would use it to pay my own student loans.  PLEASE NEVER CALL ME AGAIN."

What I Actually Said:  "Look - I can't even pay my own student loans right now.  I CANNOT GIVE YOU MONEY."

She then offered to pray for me.  Which might have been sincere, but in that moment it felt like the right-wing Christian version of telling me to go @#$% myself.

I told her I needed to get off the phone and hung up after she politely said "good bye."

I returned to the kitchen and drowned my sorrows in homemade salsa. 

I would have rather talked to the Mitt Romney people.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Used To Write...

It seems like the longer I go without blogging, the harder it is to get myself to post an update.  I think it's because the longer I wait, the more I feel like I need to come back with something wonderful and entertaining.  I also feel like I need to explain where I've been, what I've been up to, and what my excuses are for being absent from the blogosphere are this time.  That begins to feel like a lot of pressure, so I've gotten into the habit of just closing the Blogger tab on my browser and uploading more pictures of my cats on Instagram instead.

I'm a winner.

I guess no real excuse for my long hiatus.  Or, maybe I have a series of lame excuses.  Laziness.  Writer's block.  Business.  Lack of motivation.  Writer's block.  Fear that my life has become something that isn't as interesting to read about as it once was.  Unsure of what to even write about.  A growing addicting to communicating all thoughts in 140 characters or less and posting them to Twitter.  Also, writer's block. 

It's been a weird summer.  I finally got a rock band together.  We've played a couple of shows around town.  Both shows were completely stressful, poorly attended, and the most fun I've had all year. 

A rough video from one of the shows:

Yes, there were people there but they were hiding in a corner.  Sadly, I wasn't able to get a recording of the other show we did, where there was a one-armed guy named Lefty in the audience.

My life is still is a sitcom.  I don't think that will ever change, in case any of you were worried.

I also spent a lot of time taking care of other people's dogs this summer. 

I got way too connected to them.  I cried a little bit every time I had to tell one of them "goodbye." It made me wish I had a dog of my own, but I'm still at a point in my life where I'm afraid to sign a year-long lease.  I can't get a dog yet.

It's weird to see my Facebook feed fill up with pictures of weddings, ultrasounds, and babies.  There seems to be a whole wave of people my age who are suddenly grown-ups.  They post boring statuses about their jobs, take pictures of what they cooked their new families for dinner, and decline any event invitation that takes place past 8pm.  Miscellaneous acquaintances from college are now getting married to miscellaneous men.  Their last name changes and then when they pop up on my newsfeed, I don't even know who the heck they are. 

Then I see the Deepak Chopra quotes and the pictures of Jello shots posted by my friends from the artist's community and I wonder where exactly I fit in among the group of 336 people I call "friends" on Facebook. 

I'm going to be 25 in a little less than 2 months.  I can feel the existential crisis starting already.  

But I digress. 

I'm trying not to make this too long.  Really, the purpose of this post is just to get myself used to posting again and let you guys know that I'm not dead.  Now that this post is out of the way, I can hopefully follow it up with more interesting things...

Like the story behind this picture:

 Stay tuned... 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I've Got The Moves Like Jagger

I have this really fabulous friend works at a gym and teaches dance workout classes.  Sometimes, he sneaks me into the classes for free.  I haven't gone to one in awhile, but he just called and invited me to come and do Zumba tonight.  Naturally, I said "yes."  He always picks good music for his Zumba classes and I need to work out more anyway.  I'm naturally sort of a sedentary creature and exercise is good for me.  

The thing about Zumba is that by about the third song, I get really into the choreography.  My friend yells "Now give it some style!" and I shake my butt like the world depends on it. 

I feel like this:

In reality, I look more like this:

Last time I did Zumba, I definitely forgot my water bottle and was one thirsty, sweaty, out-of-shape girl when it was all over.  It didn't help that I was in the back next to a large black man who seemed completely unfazed by forty-five minutes of nonstop movement.  

Watch out for my body rolls.  High kicks.  High kicks.  This is how we do it.  

I am determined to be more physically active on a regular basis, though.  I feel better about myself in general when I do.  And it's part of my new program to get in shape for my next rock show.  

I've got a pair of leather shorts in a drawer upstairs that are a little bit too tight.  I know, I know, leather shorts are supposed to be tight, but they are also supposed to zip and snap somewhat comfortably.  I'm not really into obsessing over my weight, but I think that if I lost about three pounds, the shorts would fit better and everything would be groovy.  

Basically this means more dance aerobics and less French fries.  I love my junk food, but it's for a good cause.  

You're not hardcore unless you live hardcore, boys and girls.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rock 'N' Roll Updates

Being an unknown rock star in the twenty-first century is a very complicated business. 

On one hand, it's very exciting.  I feel like I'm finally beginning to get my act together a little bit. 

I'm trying to overcome my fear of performing alone.

This picture is blurry, but my name IS on that sign
In the past month or so, I've done three shows by myself. 

1.  I played a 20 minute set as part of a singer-songwriter showcase at a local pub.  It was a competition and the audience could vote for their favorite act every time they bought a drink.  A bunch of my friends from ye olde artist's community showed up and put their alcoholism to good use.  I had a blast playing my set and ended up getting second place in the competition.  Also, some random blonde chick that I didn't know yelled "LAUREN, YOU'RE HOT!!!" when my set was over.  I don't swing that way, but it was still flattering and made me feel very rock 'n' roll. 

2.  I don't know if this counts as a show, but a couple of friends set me up with a local bike shop that needed music to promote First Friday happenings.  I set my keyboard up under a little tent outside the shop and sang into a microphone that was clamped onto a large bike rack (I really need to invest in a real microphone stand).  The owner of the bike shop was hilarious and kept drunkenly requesting random cover songs that I didn't know how to play (really, who goes up to a keyboard player and requests "Whip It" by Devo???).  I finally busted out a rough cover of "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones, just to shut him up.  When I was finished, the entire population of the tattoo parlor next door cheered and some people came outside to put money in my tip jar.  I butchered a few more punk rock songs and then went back to playing originals (contrary to popular belief that night, those originals were not just souped-up Journey songs).  It was funner than I expected it to be and there was free beer.  I made enough money in tips to buy some French fries afterwards.  Rock 'n' roll.

3.  The prize for winning the songwriter show was a paid show at the same venue.  I was really excited about this and had high expectations.  So I was a nervous wreck when it came time to actually perform.  I had told so many people about the show and thought I would see a lot of my friends there.  Naturally, I was disappointed when only four people came to see me.  The bar was full of people who were there to see the girl I was opening for and everyone talked through my whole set.  I felt like the awkward background music no one was really paying attention to.  I played a song called "Deja Vu" twice as an inside joke with myself.  No one noticed.  I couldn't wait for my set to be over and ended it a little early, handing the stage over to a fake redhead with non-prescription glasses (so lame). 

After the third show, I remembered how depressing playing shows alone can be.  I've had terrible luck trying to find musicians to be in my back-up band, but decided to try yet again.  I really wish I could just clone myself and form a band with all the clones, but I don't have access to that sort of technology.  If anyone knows how to do that, let me know. 

Maybe I'm narcissistic, but I really wish this scenario could actually exist.
As it stands right now, I have a guy who's hypothetically going to play drums for me.  He's the guy I knew in high school who I recently reconnected with on Craigslist because he writes rock operas (life is so weird).  I also had a some cute kid with a Flock Of Seagulls haircut who was very excited about playing guitar for me, but he's been really bad with communication.  I finally heard from him yesterday when he informed me over text messaging that he had a new band. 

His new band is with Tweaked Out Elvis Costello, of all people.  I am so confused as to why he thinks this is a good idea.  Also, I try not to take things like this personally, but I don't really enjoy being ditched for that twerp who can't stay sober long enough to even know what notes he's playing.

Ah well.  I hope they have fun getting high and throwing cake at radiators together.  I am now accepting applications for new guitar players.

The search for a band is so frustrating.

In the meantime, I finally got some CDs printed! 

I am so excited about how they came out.  I've currently got some for sale up on Bandcamp.  If any of you are interested, they're only $6 (yes, that includes shipping!).  I don't mean to turn this into a commercial, but I should mention that each album comes with a handwritten thank-you note from the band (a.k.a: me).  You know you want one.  :)

It's also up for name-your-price/free download still if you don't want to pay $6.  Honestly, I just want people to hear this music and enjoy it.  I would love to be able to live off of this music thing because I hate having normal jobs, but it's not really about the money.  It makes my day every time someone tells me they're listening to my songs.  I write songs and record them because I love doing it, but I also want people to enjoy them. 

Anyway, blah blah blah.  Hi, I'm Lauren and I'm going to go on a rant about my philosophy on music.  I'm going to stop and wrap this up before it becomes something really long that no one will want to read. 

Peace and love, amigos.  More updates to come.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Weekly Column :)

Why is everyone looking at me like that?!
Oh hi.  I'm Lauren.  Perhaps you remember me?  I used to blog here... 

I apologize yet again for my ongoing lack of interesting posts.  Real life has been demanding a lot of my attention.  I feel like lots of things have been happening and not happening simultaneously.

The good news is that you can read about some of those things over at my new column.  :)

I ended up getting a weekly spot in the Life After College section of LAFamily.com.  It's my first time being published anywhere that isn't a personal blog, so I'm really excited about it. 

I promise I'm not going to give up this blog and I'm even going to start posting regularly again (I could give you my excuses but you've heard them all before).  In the meantime, I would love it if you checked out the stuff I've been writing for my column.  It's called "It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" and is sort of like what "lauren vs. reality" would be if I gave myself deadlines and a word limit.

Oh, and each post is complete with a weird little video.  I'm not going to tell you what to do, but you'll probably want to watch those.  At least the one where I'm standing in line next to Yoda.  It's here.  The one where I eat peanut butter is supposedly good too. 

Anyway, feel free to check all that stuff out.  And who knows - maybe by the time you catch up on my posts/videos over there, I'll have something new up over here.  Just maybe.  :)

Peace and love, amigos.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Did I Get HERE???

The past month has been really weird.  Actually, the past few months have been really weird.  Scratch that - everything that has happened since I graduated from college has been really weird.  Yes, I know that was two years ago.

Now that I think about it, college was probably really weird too, in it's own way.

If you spend your whole life living through situations that are "pretty weird," does that make it normal?

I digress.  I've been trying very hard lately to get my act together.  Too hard.  In fact, I briefly got so caught up in the thought that I need to make money that I acquired a full time job as a traveling mop saleswoman. 

This mop will change the way you clean your house.  It will clean your house from top to bottom and I know you want one.  You want one over there.  And I can see that you want one, too.  AND IT'S ONLY $29.99!

...Doesn't everybody go through a phase where they want to be Billy Mays???

I told you that things have been weird.

The good part of this story is that the job was so depressing, strange, and soul-crushing that I came to my senses and quit.  I told my awkward, Sarah Palin-esque boss that selling mops on commission was not my thing and got the heck out of that department store. 

Sarah Palin The Mop Boss looked slightly surprised when I did this.  I guess most people don't quit on the third day of training. 

I added "Enthusiastic Mop Salesperson" to the list of stupid jobs I've had and tried not to think about how long that list is these days. 

It's all either really funny or really discouraging, depending on what sort of mood I'm in.  And now that it's a new month and there's a new round of bills to pay, I'm back to cruising the "gigs" section on Craigslist.  Ugh.  I'm really ready for someone to just pay me to just be a rock and roll diva.  That would solve so many problems. 

Something cool happened yesterday, though...  

An online magazine out of LA published my article!  It's my first time being published in something that isn't a personal blog, so I'm really excited.  If they like the traffic/feedback I get, I might get to be a weekly columnist in their "Life After College" section. 

The article I wrote was about a particularly crappy job I found on Craigslist.  If you want to check it out (and I would love it if you did), the link is here:  http://www.lafamily.com/life-after-college/it-seemed-good-idea-time  It's complete with the standard quirky-Lauren video.  Click "like," leave comments... you know what to do.  :)

I think this just turned into a commercial.  It wasn't supposed to. 

There's probably a Billy Mays joke to be made right here but I'm having a hard time constructing it.  So I will just leave you with an existential picture of me in the woods. 

Story of my life...
Peace and love, amigos.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic Interlude

I've been really busy...

Busy running from aliens and fighting off the undead.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's because the invasion hasn't happened in your part of the world yet.

It all happened so fast and is difficult to explain. Just watch the video...

And download the album here. These are songs that can save the world, or at least give you something to rock out to before the zombies arrive in your town.

Peace and love, comrades. Stay strong in these strange times. I hope to communicate with you again in the near future.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Complicated Relationship With Rock & Roll Vikings, Part One: The Beginning

I've never been good with break-ups. It's hard to admit that you aren't happy with the way a relationship is going and that you would be better off without it. I never want to hurt anyone's feelings or cause a conflict. Which is why I'm currently in an awkward position. I know I need to end things, but I have been putting it off because I don't even really know how to end things.

Let me back up a little bit.

I am involved with low-budget production of a rock opera about Norse mythology.

It's not really working out.

Allow me to recapitulate...

It all started a couple of months ago when a stumbled upon an intriguing Craigslist ad: "Wanted: Musical Director For An Original Rock Musical."  Naturally, I had to click on it.  I read through the ad and realized that I met all of the major requirements (meaning I can read music, play piano, and I love rock musicals), so I replied on a whim. 

It wasn't long before I got a response from a guy who's name was strangely familiar.  I couldn't place where I had heard his name before, so I just went ahead and read his email without giving it a second thought.  He told me that he had composed a rock opera and was looking to produce it in town within a few months.  There was a link to some of the music from the rock opera, so I clicked on it to see what it sounded like.  I landed on a page with a couple of weird recordings and a picture of the composer.

I gasped.  This guy was definitely someone I went to high school with.

...And middle school. 

We were in the high school marching band together.  And symphonic band.  And middle school jazz band.  And advanced high school jazz band.  We were in the rhythm section together - he played drums, I played piano.  We practically sat next to each other in jazz band but never actually talked to each other.  He was an awkward redhead who didn't talk and frankly, I didn't really talk either.  So naturally, we were not friends simply because we couldn't figure out how to manage a simple conversation. 

Plus, he was always making out with that second-chair clarinet chick during lunch.  It was gross.  It offended me.  They needed to get a room. 

Anyway, here he was, that awkward redhead from high school, resurfacing in my email inbox six years later with what he described as "an epic rock opera of awesomeness."

I stared at the email and tried to figure out what to do.  I've really come a long way since I was a socially inept teenager and running into people that knew me in high school is generally a drag.  Maybe I should just delete his email and pretend it never happened?  After all, he was pretty weird back in the day, wasn't he?  I thought about it and realized I didn't actually know him.  Besides, the whole thing was oddly sychronistic.  Maybe I should meet him for coffee and see what's up?  

And so I scheduled a coffee date with him.  As I drove there, I couldn't help but wonder if he would remember me from high school or not.  How was I even supposed to handle that?  What if he didn't remember me at all?  Was I supposed to bring it up?  Was I supposed to act like I was meeting him for the first time?

A text message reading "Btw wearing a pea coat and have red hair" came through on my phone as I was looking for a place to park.  I laughed.  He did not know who I was.  I buttoned up my big green coat, sent him a text that said "Haha, me too!" and walked towards the coffee shop.

I saw him immediately when I entered the coffee shop.  He was sitting at a table in the middle of the room and was indeed wearing a pea coat.  He pointed at me and said, "It's YOU."

I pointed at him and said, "It's YOU."  This was awkward.

He continued to point and said "It's YOU" once again.  This time I pointed at myself and said, "It's ME!"  We laughed, made some clunky smalltalk, and I excused myself to go order a cup of coffee.  When I returned with my drink, we had to go through the whole "Soooo, what have you been up to since high school?" conversation, which was strange because (as I established earlier) we didn't really talk in high school.  Still, we had to compare notes on our post-high school experiences as well as gossip about a whole bunch of irrelevant people from marching band that I honestly forgot even existed.  It was definitely the most I had ever talked to this guy. 

Just when I was beginning to regret meeting him for coffee, the conversation switched to a more relevant topic: his epic rock opera.  Over the next hour and a half, I learned the following things:

The rock opera was his original composition and has never been performed before.
-  The story is based on Norse mythology.  Yes, Loki and Thor and vikings and all of that crap cool stuff. 
-  All of the lyrics/words were written by a guy he met online who may or may not live in France and speak English as a second language.
-  The script has severed heads in it.
-  The music is not "Broadway rock."  The music will "blow your f@#$ing mind."

He babbled on about how he was inspired by "Tommy" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," excitedly explaining that the music was written for a large ensemble of electric guitars and string instruments.  He said he planned to produce it in a couple of months and he needed someone to act as musical director.  Could that someone be me?

It sounded like a wacky project, but who doesn't love a good viking?  It sounded like fun.  Besides, I've got my own rock opera cooking in the back of my brain files (can't forget about good old Goat Man) and working on a project like this could give me a little insight into how it's done.  And I definitely needed an excuse to leave my parents' house and meet new people...

So I said I would do it.  I climbed on board the viking rock opera train as the fearless musical director.  And it was strange, but I was excited.

Well, I was excited until my inbox began filling up with pages upon pages of complicated sheet music...

To Be Continued...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Oh Hi...

Apparently I'm very good at waltzing into the blogosphere after going for days without posting, making a grand announcement that I am back and have so many stories to tell, and then disappearing again. So that's all strange and awkward and embarrassing.

If it's any consolation, I've been blogging in my head a lot. If that makes any sense. I even have several half-baked posts saved in my drafts folder, but have managed to abandon them all due to my highly critical inner voice.

So here I am, in my favorite grocery store cafe, staring at hipsters crossing the street and attempting to write something that isn't complete garbage.

I'll start by telling you about my new friend George.

I met George through a friend of a friend. We hit it off immediately and have a lot of things in common. We're both neurotic, we both really love peanut butter, and we both love staying up too late watching paranormal investigation shows on cable television. He's very sweet, quiet, and friendly. Sometimes he does unexpected things (like puke in the hallway), but the truth is, I like George more than I like most people.

Of course, George is a dog.

His People are in Ohio this week, so I'm hanging out with him. He's super old and cuddly. And on top of being my new bff, he's helping me make some money. So that's all groovy...

Um, in other news, there are a ton of seats open in this cafe, but this weird old guy just had to sit right next to me and eat a corn dog. He has a million packets of mustard on his plate and is giving me a weird look. Truthfully, it's creepy me out a bit. I think I'm going to pack up my laptop and do the famous Awkward Lauren Scuttle™ on out of here...

More things soon, when I'm not being ogled by a crusty old corn dog man...