Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last Night

The other day, I ran into The Chef in the kitchen and asked how his day was going. He thought it would be hilarious to launch into a monologue detailing every little mundane thing that had happened to him that day.

"I went to buy squash and it was on sale so I bought more of it than I was intending. The cashier put it in a bag and said have a nice day. Then I road my bike back here and now I'm eating some bagels in the kitchen and there's a plate of butter on the table, and some candles, and some salt and pepper..."

I didn't really get what he was doing at first and listened intently, waiting for his story to have a punchline. Instead, he continued to describe irrelevant objects in the room. It was really funny, but it kinda made me never want to ask him how his day was again.

Anyway, I feel as though this post may be a little bit like that - a lot of little mundane snippets with no real punchline or moral to the story. You've been warned.

I wasn't feeling very good yesterday. I stayed in my room for most of the day, bundled up in layers of blankets and sweatpants, alternating between writing music and watching reruns of "Arrested Development" on Hulu. I let myself think too much about life as I know it and found myself falling into a bit of a slump. I tried sleeping it off but I only woke up feeling grumpier. No amount of Tylenol could make my headache go away and my throat hated me. I contemplated going back to bed, but instead I decided I should probably eat something. I put on my slippers, pulled a hat over my messy hair, and stumbled into the kitchen to toast a bagel.

The kitchen was full of people drinking wine and eating popcorn. They cheered when I walked in the room, greeting me enthusiastically and proclaiming that they hadn't seen me all day. They asked how I was. I said I wasn't feeling very good. Lego Guy and his wife set me up with some herbal tea. A girl that moved in a few weeks ago offered me some vitamins. I took a seat at the table and was instantly cheered up by the colorful banter taking place. Lego Guy was doing his weird cartoon voices. The Chef had everyone singing his latest musical composition (elegantly titled "The Hamster Wheel of Bullsh*t"). My mood improved dramatically after just being in the kitchen for a few minutes.

I'm going to remember this next time I find myself being reclusive and come out of my room a lot sooner.

The night quickly became one of those nights that could have ended three times before it actually did. I seem to have those nights a lot. I think it's because the world I live in tends to come alive after 10pm. Whenever I announce that I am going to bed and act as though I am going to put my pajamas on, something more interesting comes up.

The first time I said I was going to bed, I ended up running into my friend TMBG Girl. TMBG Girl just moved in at the beginning of the month. We previously had the following moment of bonding:

Me: "Hey, I like that They Might Be Giants bumper sticker on your laptop! I have one just like it!"
TMBG Girl: "Thanks! John Flansburg handed it to me at the end of their show last year!"
Me: "No way! John Flansburg handed one of those to me too at the end of that show!"
Me: "We both own something that was touched by John Flansburg!"

I think I've been waiting my entire life to meet someone who's love for They Might Be Giants matches mine. It's pretty rare to meet someone who knows who they are and appreciates them. It's even more unlikely to meet someone who has seen them in concert multiple times, can quote the documentary, knows the names of all the band members (past and present), and understands that they are much more than a novelty band. Actually, I've never met someone like that in real life (it's easy to find those people on the Internet because they creep around in the same forums). So my new found friendship with TMBG Girl has been mind blowing. We had a really good conversation last night that started out being about They Might Be Giants, evolved into a broader discussion of music and life, then ended with us vowing never to date boys that did not share our intense love of They Might Be Giants. I have a feeling we will both be single for a very, very long time.

I decided to go to bed after that conversation, but I barely made it out of the kitchen when I ran into my neighbor, Purple Hair! She's been hard at work turning an old pair of my shoes into wearable art and announces that the shoes will be done very soon! Intrigued to finally see what my old Chinese flats have transformed into, I decide to stay up. It was definitely worth it, because soon she emerges from her studio with my magical new rock star shoes:

Yeah, you're seeing that right - they are now knee-high and equipped with bells and veils. Kinda looks like something that escaped from a Tim Burton film. I don't think I've ever seen shoes quite like these before.

I am in love.

Naturally, I had to spend some quality time prancing around the hallways in my new shoes, jingling like a little elf and showing them off to people that hadn't yet gone to bed. Purple Hair even did a small photo shoot of me in my new shoes. She then went to go smoke with Mr. Syracuse and I decided that I was really going to bed this time.

But I didn't go to bed. I ended up talking to a woman who's visiting town from Montana and is staying in her friends' piano studio across the hall from the kitchen. She's a friendly, middle-aged hippy who took the liberty of decorating the piano studio in blue Christmas lights, candles, and little figurines of Buddha. She finds out I'm a musician and gets really excited. Next thing I know, I'm giving her an impromptu concert by candlelight.

I played a song about the end of the world. It's one I wrote in January and I've played it a million times since then. But last night just may have been my best performance of that song yet. It figures that my best performance would happen in a dark, closed room with only one other person listening. But I guess that music is music is music is music, no matter when and where you make it. For three minutes, nothing really mattered except for the keys of the piano and the song I was singing. When I finished, my new hippy friend stared at me and smiled.

"That was wonderful," she said. "Can you play it again but play quieter so I can hear the words?"

I played it again, but this time only played each chord once with a single hand, singing the words clearly so she could understand them. She learned some of the words and sang along.

"We don't know how it's ending," we sang. "We don't know how the world is ending."

The song came to it's quiet conclusion. "You know," the woman said. "I don't think I'm afraid of the world ending. I've been trying to live everyday like it's my last anyway. I think when it's time for the world to end, I'll be totally okay with it."

We get into a discussion about the end of the world and what it means to be ready for it all to end suddenly. We talked about fear and love and the importance of living each day as if it might be the last. We talked about cats and rock music and Chinese food and Nostradamus. Finally I left the glow of the piano studio with the intention of really, really going to bed this time.

And I really did go to bed. I crawled into my cold nest of blankets and promptly fell asleep.

I awoke first thing in the morning to a rapid knock on my door.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Bacon, But I Really Want Bacon...

So the show was a success. I think. I had a blast and people seemed to enjoy themselves, so I think that means it was a success.

There weren't a ton of people there, but that's okay. The two "groupies" that are always at trash rock shows were there. Ryan was there. A few of my neighbors from the third floor of the commune came (The Poet had organized a carpool). There were some hipsters from the second floor there. And then there were a couple of strangers. It was the perfect sized crowd - not big enough to be completely intimidating but not small enough to be totally awkward.

Of course, having people I know and love there didn't stop me from being an intense ball of nerves. I kept fiddling with my iPhone and discovering new comments popping up on my last post. Made me grin and feel loved by the blogosphere. So, thanks for that, amigos. :)

I continued to be a nervous wreck until the moment I got onstage. Actually, I think I was a nervous wreck until about the third song. Then I turned my brain off and slipped into my rock and roll persona. I honestly don't remember a whole lot of the show after that third song. It's a strange phenomenon that happens when I perform - Regular Lauren (the one that is typing this right now) goes away and is replaced with Rock Star Lauren. When I watch footage of Rock Star Lauren, I feel like I'm watching footage of an entirely different person.

Speaking of footage from the show, a couple of you have expressed interest in possibly seeing some. You might regret that. Sheri sat in the front row and grabbed some videos for me on my digital camera. I will post a few on here for your amusement/entertainment. Watch them at your own risk. And keep in mind - this is the first time I've ever really done this by myself.

This is a song I wrote when I was about 19 or so:

This is a song that had never really left my notebook until last night:

This is a song from the rock opera I'm writing. It goes into a song I wrote a couple weeks ago when I couldn't sleep. I thought it was probably the worst song I played but people were telling me it was their favorite.

Last but not least, this is a song I dedicated to all my friends from the commune that were in the audience. It's a song written directly to the hot water in the building we live in (it doesn't always work like it should...).

Anyway, enough with the videos. I think that's enough proof that I really did follow through on doing a solo show.

And you know what? I kinda can't wait to do another one. I really want to, actually. I would love to get into the groove of doing that twice a week like some of my musician friends.

The "after party" was a little bit intense. When I got back home, I discovered The Chef was celebrating his 60th birthday in the kitchen by drinking any and all alcohol he could get his hands on. People of all ages were awake and celebrating with him. When I came in, they were really excited about the fact that I made it through my first solo show.

I found myself hanging out in the kitchen for a really, really long time. Cake and casual conversation slowly evolved into vodka and story time. There was a point where all of us should have gone to bed, but everyone's story was just way too interesting and none of us have traditional employment. So we didn't go to bed. We went around in a circle and talked about our various life experiences. We talked about crappy jobs we've had. We talked about why we feel the need to make art and how it's so easy to feel misunderstood. We talked about love and heartbreak and those who have temporarily destroyed us in the past. We laughed. We cringed. We relived things that once made us cry and realized that they aren't worth crying about anymore.

We all went to bed when the sun was about to come up. I woke up a few short hours later in a zombie-like daze. Though I was groggy and had a headache, I couldn't help but feel content about where my life is at right now. Excited, even. I think I'm finally being that person I want to be.

On a completely unrelated note, I am sitting in the kitchen typing this right now. It's almost midnight and The Chef just wandered in with a slab of raw bacon in his hand. "I just really want bacon!" he whispers to me. "So I'm going to make bacon!"

And now he's frying a single strip of bacon on the stove. I absolutely love living here.

I should really go to bed. Especially before the smell of bacon makes it over to where I'm sitting...

Too late. Now I want bacon. Crap.

Ah well. I shall go to bed baconless. Goodnight, amigos. Sorry if this post has been less coherent than usual. I plan on actually sleeping tonight, so I should be back to my normal level of coherency tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So Nervous! AH!

On Sunday night, one of my new hipster friends from downstairs messaged me on Facebook to see if I could play an opening set at their show tonight. I guess their other opener bailed and they needed somebody last minute. I've been wanting to try doing a solo show, so I said "yes." I spent all day yesterday trying to assemble a set list. The show is in about eight hours. I'm freaking out here a little bit.

Once I get on that stage, I'm sure I'll be fine. But right now, I'm a nervous wreck. I could barely sleep last night. Aside from belting out three songs in the restaurant on Halloween, I've never done a show all by myself before. And tonight, I've got a whole 30-45 minutes to entertain an audience with just me, myself, and my keyboard. Just thinking about it makes me pee my pants a little bit.

My friends from the commune are all really excited for me. A lot of them are coming to the show for moral support. Sometimes I get really freaked out when people I know and love show up to watch me perform, but it's kinda comforting knowing that I'll have a small army of hippies/hipsters in the audience that will get drunk and cheer anyway if I do a terrible job.

I was so anxious last night that I didn't really know what to do with myself. I was trying to practice a lot, but I was being too critical of myself and it was becoming counterproductive. I drifted in and out of the kitchen, distracting myself with the presence of others and making tea in attempts to calm down. At one point, I announced I was going to bed and had every intention of sleeping, but ended up dominating a giant piece of cake instead. Oops.

It was a bit after midnight when I went back to the kitchen to destroy the evidence of the cake. The Chef was in there with all of the lights off, reading the paper and eating cereal in a corner.

"Lauren! How are you doing, girl?" he says, smiling warmly.

"I'm doing okay. A bit nervous about tomorrow night," I say.

"Aw, Lauren, you don't need to be nervous. This is what you're going to do: You're going to stop worrying about everything, you're going to go there, you're going to bring your beautiful little soul in there and get up on that stage and do whatever the hell you wanna do and it's going to be great. Just tell your story and make your music and have some fun. And kick ass. Yeah, kick ass! Just kick it. You have my permission. Just be your bad ole self and KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS, GIRL!"

At this point in the pep talk, The Poet enters the room. He had witnessed my neurotic pre-show antics in the kitchen earlier. "You're still freaked out?" he says.

"Oh completely!" I say.

"Why? We've been over this - you're a rock star!" he says.

"Yeah, you just need to kick some ass," The Chef chimes in.

They both look at me. I'm smiling now but I'm sure I still looked like an incredible ball of nervousness. The Poet gets a smirk on his face and lowers his voice.

"Do you need drugs? Because we can totally set you up..."

The Chef nods knowingly in agreement, then takes another bite of cereal.

I laugh. "Thanks, but I think I'm good with tea tonight, guys."

I went to bed eventually, then woke up this morning in a fit of "What-am-I-gonna-WEAR?!" I'm still not really sure what I'm going to wear. Probably the standard skinny jeans with something black on top. I've got some pretty outlandish things in my closet that I've dubbed my "performance attire," but I don't think a pub down in the hipster part of Portland is the place to pull that stuff out.

Anyway, I've got tons more to write about (you better believe it was a crazy weekend...dancing and car problems and hipsters - oh my!), but I should go practice a little bit more and take my traditional "rock star nap" in preparation for tonight's show. That is, if I can even concentrate on practicing and sleeping in this state of intense pre-show anxiety. Ack.

Over and out, amigos. Tune in tomorrow to hear how the show went.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Whew. Busy day in the blogosphere. I just updated my Musical Advice Column for the first time since last summer. I'm planning to update it regularly again. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you may want to head over there and experience the madness. Basically, people write in with their various problems and I respond to them by singing and playing an instrument. Yeah, it really is as campy as it sounds. You just might love it.

I also just put up my Friday post for the Transatlantic Support Group. I think I've mentioned the TASG a couple of times already in this blog, but it gets a little bit cooler each week. Allison and Tom are fantastic people to collaborate with and I assure you that you will be entertained if you click on the TASG link.

Anyway, enough shameless self-promotion and onto other news.

I snagged this photo from Facebook today:

It's from the kitchen show last week and pretty much sums up the magic of trash rock. It was taken by The Chef, who was probably on his second or third bottle of wine at the time this picture was taken.

Sadly, the grand era of trash rock may be coming to an end. We're not breaking up, but we're slowly headed in opposite directions. Meaning that I want to do music for a living and he wants to be a full time computer programmer. I respect his decision, but it's still depressing.

So I'm working up the nerve to book a solo show somewhere. I've also been writing music like crazy. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, that's about all I have to report. I think I'm going to meet up with my old high school Spanish partner for a little heavy metal knitting party. Then later, I'm going to an electronica show with a few of my neighbors. I'm pretty stoked. I'm totally in the mood to dance.

I should figure out what I'm going to wear. It might be an evening that requires a costume change. I can't imagine that the outfit I wear to the dance club will be appropriate for knitting with the old Spanish partner...

Over and out, comrades! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Brief Karaoke Interlude

So today I was hanging out over at 20sb today and ended up joining a 90s-themed karaoke blog ring.

What does this mean, you ask?

It means you get to watch a fabulous drunk guy singing "Stay" by Lisa Loeb.

The fabulous drunk guy is none other than Matt from Normally I Wouldn't Say This, But... Matt, you are a 90s karaoke champion.

Of course, there's a horrific 90s karaoke video of me floating around the Internet as a result of this blog ring. It's completely terrifying (as any good 90s karaoke video should be) and is posted up over at Sara Swears A Lot. Sara organized all of this madness and was nice enough to let me into the ring at the last minute. She's also got a list up of everyone involved in this blog ring so that you can watch all sorts of lovely 90s karaoke videos. There are some truly fantastic ones.

Anyway, that's all I've got. I will return to the regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let Them Bleat Cake

I snuck into the attic tonight. It was quite thrilling.

For those of you who are just now tuning in, I live in a big artist's community that used to be a retirement home. It's a fairly creepy building and they keep the attic locked at all times. When I was moving in, the door to it was left open when I walked past it at one point, but I was too chicken to go up there alone. I'd be lying if I said I haven't been curious about it, though. I mean, it's the attic of an ancient building that is a little reminiscent of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Of course I wanted to see what was up there.

So tonight, when the second floor hipster crowd was walking around the third floor (where I live) looking for secret doors, I gladly showed them the door to the attic.

It was locked, naturally. Luckily, this guy who just moved here from New Jersey was with us. He knew how to pick the lock with a screwdriver. He did it a little too effortlessly, then just kind of shrugged and said, "Hey, I'm from New Jersey."

While Mr. New Jersey was picking the lock, Theater Lover and The Poet walked by and became instantly intrigued by what we were doing. A couple of other people heard us and came out of their rooms to see what was going on. By the time the attic door was open, there was a good group of almost ten people anxious to go inside.

Among those people was the really pretty guy who is potentially a gay porn star. Oh man, he's all kinds of gorgeous. I need to find out if he's actually gay or if he just has impeccable fashion sense. I should also find out if he's actually a porn star or if I just interpreted a conversation wrong. I think I'll be moving that investigation up farther on my priority list.

Anyway, back to the adventure of the evening. It was a pretty great attic - really big, dark, wooden, and creepy. Going up there with all of those people felt like the beginning of a horror film. Fortunately, no one died that I'm aware of. I really want to make a horror film up there, though. Or at least light a bunch of candles and have a poetry slam while sitting cross-legged on the floor. Now that sounds like a good way to burn the place down.

When we were done exploring, we went back into the third floor kitchen to tell Purple Hair and Mr. Syracuse that we had been in the attic. I expected them to be impressed and maybe even a little jealous, but it turns out they had already been up there. The nerve.

Everyone was in a much better mood tonight than last night. The vibe was really off last night. I blame it on the horrific community meeting that took place in the kitchen. It started out as thirty people bitching about things that aren't really that important and slowly evolved into being a meeting about how to have a meeting. It went on for two hours and I kinda felt like walking over to the oven and sticking my head in it.

Afterwards, I ventured into the second floor kitchen. The atmosphere down there is totally different than the cheery, welcoming sanctuary of the third floor kitchen. I've gotten into the habit of referring to the second floor as "Hipsterville." Their kitchen feels like a break room and lacks personality. I've recently befriended a few more of the hipsters down there though. They invited me to come down for dinner. As much as I love my hippy friends, I figure I should at least attempt to hang out with people my age.

It was a good time. And by that, I mean I'm not really sure if I had fun or not. Everything that people cooked was vegan and fairly weird. There was a ton of alcohol but no one really wanted to share with anyone else (this probably isn't that unusual, but I've gotten used to everyone drinking everyone else's wine in the third floor kitchen). There wasn't a ton of conversation, but it was completely acceptable and even expected to mouth the words along to Radiohead songs being played from a MacBook in the corner.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a little bit. It was definitely a hipster scene, but I did have a good time. Well, I had a good time until Tweaked Out Elvis Costello showed up and spontaneously threw cake against the wall. I think he might have even said something like "LET THEM BLEAT CAKE! BAH!" It was funny, but that was definitely the moment when the party started to go downhill.

The Poet came in the room when Tweaked Out Elvis Costello was attempting to scrub cake off of the radiator. The meeting from earlier came up, specifically the topic of performance spaces in the building. It's petty, political, and probably not the interesting. Though it is an issue that I do have an opinion on and it does affect me, I'll avoid going into it at this time. All you really need to know is that the night ended with The Poet and Tweaked Out Elvis Costello yelling profanities at each other.

There are very few things that I hate more than yelling. Plus, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello was saying some stuff that was making me angry. It wasn't directed towards me, but some of his "The show in the kitchen was terrible" and "There aren't any good bands in this building" comments were making me feel a little attacked. So I awkwardly excused myself from the room and ran to the safety of the third floor kitchen, where I made a giant cup of Moroccan mint tea in attempts to calm myself down.

Gotta love commune drama. Gah. Most of the time, this place is a bohemian paradise. But every once in awhile, I swear there are cameras hidden somewhere and we're all on reality TV.

And with that, I should go to bed.

Goodnight, amigos. More stories to come, I am sure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trash Rock In The Kitchen

Friday night reminded me why I insist on being a musician.

The kitchen show was a grand success. Lots of people showed up and were really receptive to the music that Ryan and I played. It was a great intimate setting and we even worked up the confidence to bust out some of our weirder, less polished numbers towards the end of the night. I channeled Amanda Palmer a little bit on a cover of "Mein Herr" that had everyone in the room clapping along as though we were all in "Cabaret." It was awesome. And it was another one of those moments where I surprised myself a little bit.

Once Ryan and I were out of songs to play, a couple of other musicians grabbed their instruments and the whole thing evolved into a jam session/poetry slam that went on for hours. I think somebody got parts of it on tape, I really need to track it down and post it up here (especially the part where Tweaked Out Elvis Costello yelled "I WANT TO HEAR THE VIOLIN SO SHUT THE @#$% UP" and then the entire room starting singing/chanting those exact words in time with the music).

When the whole thing was over, I felt like I was on top of the world. I felt so energized and alive. It all just confirmed for the millionth time that I need to continue making music and sharing it with others.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm pretty tired so I should probably do that sleeping thing, but I will be back tomorrow to talk about the rest of my weekend. Just wanted to throw out a quick update and say that the kitchen show was fabulous.

Until next time, amigos!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just Some Thoughts Over Coffee

I have broken myself of my intense coffee addiction. Meaning I can wake up in the morning and not feel like I'm going to die without coffee. I can even go a whole day without coffee. It's kind of liberating.

I've tried to get into tea instead. I even went to my favorite tea shop in Portland and picked up some of that Moroccan Mint tea that reminds me of Egypt. I've never bought it in loose leaf form before, and was a little embarrassed when the cashier handed me this:

I shoved the bag in my purse and tried to pretend it didn't look exactly like marijuana. I think if I lived anywhere else, I might have been compelled to stash it away in my wall safe when I got home. But I live in a commune, so leaving a suspicious-looking bag of tea laying on top of my radiator really isn't a big deal.

That night, I went into my kitchen to brew up some of my new tea. I couldn't find a tea strainer, so improvised with a coffee filter. A couple of my neighbors walked by and showed a lot of interest in the kind of tea I was making. Well, they showed a lot of interest until they discovered I really was just making tea.

Tea is nice, but it will never really replace coffee for me. Even as I type this, I'm drinking a cup of coffee. I'm done messing around with decaf. It's just basic coffee with a little bit of French vanilla creamer in it.

I know a lot of purists hate coffee creamer, but I can't really live without it. Okay, I can live without it. If there is no coffee creamer around, chances are I will drink coffee anyway. But it won't be as good.

Last week, I had coffee with someone I hadn't seen in a really long time. Five years, to be exact. He was my Spanish partner in high school and recently came out of the woodwork over Facebook and wanted to hang out. I was a little reluctant to reconnect with him. After all, the last time I attempted to rekindle a platonic teenage friendship led to an evening of my bandmate pretending to be a flaming homosexual and ended with someone almost getting maced in the face (it's a pretty good story, maybe I'll work up the nerve to tell it sometime). But he called me on an evening where I was trying to decide between the following activities:

1. Hanging out with the baby boomer crowd in the kitchen.
2. Watching Tweaked Out Elvis Costello play the piano while getting progressively stoned out of his mind.
3. Attempting to write music in a room by myself.

Somehow, meeting my old Spanish partner for coffee at the trendy cafe down the street won against those lovely options.

I got there early, ordered some herbal tea, and planted myself at a table. Enter Spanish Partner. It was a little crazy - he was exactly the same as he was in high school. Still short, still Asian, still wearing the same baggy gray hoody with the stretched out pockets. Still blasting heavy metal from giant headphones around his neck everywhere he goes. His hair is a little longer now and he's apparently done boasting about his ability to eat nine Milky Way candy bars in a day, but other than that he's the exact same dude I said "adios" to on graduation night. It was a little spooky but cool at the same time. Everyone is so busy changing these days. It's nice to know that some people don't change at all.

We went back to my place so I could give him the grand tour of the commune and show him my keytar. We ended up just putting on a Dream Theater album in my room and listening to it while making fun of what weirdos we were in high school. I asked if he wanted anything to drink. He asked if I had any coffee creamer. Not kidding.

"Um, yeah, I always have coffee creamer," I say. "Do you want me to make some coffee?"

"No, I'll just take a shot of creamer," he says.

I start laughing. I think one time when I was about 17 or so I took a shot of creamer because somebody dared me to, but it's not really something I've ever thought to do since then. But I get him a little glass and pour coffee creamer into it until he says "stop." I hand it to him and he proceeds to down it like it's tequila.

"God that's good creamer!" he proclaims. "Tastes just like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms!"

He convinces me pour some in a small glass for myself and consume it sans coffee. It was like being 17 and retarded all over again. Not to mention it was my sugar intake for an entire week. But it was nice. It was nice to just exist in a room with someone else and listen to music and laugh and not have to worry about anything awkward happening. I had Tweaked Out Elvis Costello on standby in case things got weird (nothing says "I'm not interested in being more than friends so please get out of my room" like an intergalactic hipster with an affinity for playing/singing Gershwin's "Summertime" while people are trying to have a conversation). But things never got weird. Instead, we discovered that we both have a secret desire to learn how to knit, so we made plans to meet up again to make scarves while listening to heavy metal.

Yeah, I don't really understand my life either.

All I know right now is that I just finished my cup of coffee. And I think I really want another one. Maybe I'll just make a whole pot with the intention of sharing it but then end up drinking the whole thing myself.

A few weeks ago, someone told me that coffee is terrible for you. "It's addictive! It does bad things to your body! I'm so proud of you for breaking yourself of your daily caffeine habit! Coffee will mess you up! You don't need to drink it!" they said.

I might have actually listened to this person if they hadn't been smoking a cigarette, a joint, and snorting who-knows-what simultaneously while they were saying all of these things. I think it was one of the most ironic moments of my life.

I shouldn't drink too much coffee today though. I don't want to be a completely twitchy mess by the time tonight rolls around. There's an art show going on in my building and Ryan and I are doing a little performance in my kitchen after the fact. It's pretty casual and word-of-mouth, but I'm still stoked. It feels good to be performing again. I get really off balance when I go for a long time without doing that.

I'm not sure what to wear. I got some awesome new boots last week that I think I need to wear tonight. Now I just have to plan an outfit to go with them.

My new friends here have been an incredible encouragement to me this week. They're actually the ones that talked me into doing the kitchen performance. "Look, you are a rock star," my friend The Poet said. "The only reason you don't believe it is because the right people haven't told you yet. But you are a rock star, so start acting like one!"

It was really cool to hear that from someone other than my mother.

Anyway, this post has become longer than I intended. I think I'm just avoiding writing my post for TASG. We've got a really good topic this week, but it's proving to be a difficult one. But I think it's time to brew more coffee, put on some good music, and offer some of my humble ramblings to ye olde Transatlantic Support Group.

Peace out, amigos. Oh, and also? Happy Friday! Reward yourself for making it through another week by drinking some coffee. Or by just drinking.

Haha. This is One Well-Caffeinated Lauren, signing out!

Monday, November 1, 2010


I dial a number on my cell phone and listen to the phone ring for awhile. Finally, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello picks up. "Hey," he says, answering the phone in the most nonchalant, hipster way possible.

"Hey, yo, I knocked on your door and I was gonna be all like 'TRICK OR TREAT,' but you weren't there," I say.

"Yeah, I can hear that you're saying words but I can't really hear what they are."

"You at a wild party or something?"

"I'm in the restaurant downstairs. And I am drinking alcohol. YES."

"Cool, I'm about to head down there, I'll probably run into you."

"I'm sure you're probably saying something relevant but I can't hear you at all because there are so many people making noise."

"Okay bye."

I look at myself in the mirror, decide that if anyone asks what I am I'll just tell them I am a hipster, and head downstairs.

"LAUREN!" The Obnoxious Hipster spots me from across the room. He's dressed as Sherlock Holmes and is throwing back beers with the guy that's probably a gay porn star. I awkwardly greet them and then drift over to the corner where The Poet and Tweaked Out Elvis Costello are standing.

The Poet is wearing a red shirt, a suit jacket, and red shoes. "I am a Soviet supporter," he informs me. "I AM A COMMUNIST!" I can't really tell if Tweaked Out Elvis Costello is wearing a Halloween costume or not. He's wearing a hat and a tie and a vest. I asked him about it and it turns out it's just how he dresses.

Tweaked Out Elvis Costello hands me a drink and informs me that he's going to go smoke a joint on the sidewalk. The Poet joins him and I am left to fend for myself in a room full of Halloween Hipsters. I end up talking to a singer/songwriter guy that I've been saying the words "Hey, we should jam" to for about a month. Except it takes me ten minutes to realize who he is, because he's wearing a really elaborate costume. Fortunately, The Theater Lover shows up (dressed as a dead ballerina, naturally) and says his name before I completely embarrass myself.

The Poet returns alone. "Did you lose Tweaked Out Elvis Costello?" I ask.

He laughs. "Oh, he's still out there. He gets really into smoking that shit."

"Yeah I know," I say. "He seems like he's on another planet sometimes."

The Poet smirks. "Tonight, I think he's in another galaxy."

Tweaked Out Elvis Costello finally returns, bringing the distinct aroma of pot along with him. I look at him and wonder why I haven't seen him or heard from him at all in the past week. Then I realize that I probably don't really want to know.

Singer/Songwriter Guy says something about how it would be cool to bring instruments down and play them on the stage at the back of the restaurant. Next thing we know, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello is hauling equipment into the room. A keyboard gets set up. A microphone. A drum machine. I offer to go get my keytar so we can have a legit jam session but no one is really interested.

Tweaked Out Elvis Costello takes the stage and plays his crazy music for a good twenty minutes. There are retro church pews facing the stage and at this point lots of people are sitting on them and listening. There's a big screen right behind the stage and trailers for b-rated horror films are playing on loop without sound. I am sitting next to a bald man dressed as the gnome from the Travelocity commercials. The Poet sits behind me. "Do you have any idea what this kid is playing?" he asks.

"I think it's something he wrote," I say. "Or maybe it's Gershwin. Sometimes he plays things he writes and then they turn into Gershwin and then they turn back into originals."

"Wow," says The Poet. "Things are happening on other galaxies."

Finally, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello stops playing. He announces that he's not really sure what he's been playing for the past ten minutes and takes a seat on a church pew. It was at that point that approximately three people simultaneously asked me to play a song.

I am not a solo performer. I've always wanted to try it, but the thought terrifies me. I've never really gotten up and played songs I've written without having Ryan there to hide behind. But on this night, for some reason or another, I jumped onto that stage and I belted out a song about the end of the world.

When I finished the song, I looked up and realized that more people had come over to listen. I was going to go sit back down, but someone yelled "PLAY ANOTHER SONG!" So I played a song about zombies (in honor of Halloween).

They yelled for another. I asked if they wanted something campy and stupid or something not as campy and less stupid. They yelled for campy and stupid, so I played this one:

About halfway through, I began feeling like a complete retard. But people laughed. I played one more song after that and then offered the stage to Singer/Songwriter Guy.

"That was such a rock star performance!" proclaimed The Poet as I sat down. The Gnome gave me the thumbs up. I had somehow managed to tap into that rock and roll version of myself up there and I had done it completely solo. I was strangely proud of myself, not to mention a little shocked that I was able to do that so naturally.

When Singer/Songwriter Guy was done entrancing everyone with his poetic lyrics (oh man, I felt a little dumb sandwiching my quirky Amanda Palmer-meets-They Might Be Giants indie rock crap between him and Intergalactic Gershwin...), Tweaked Out Elvis Costello got back onstage. I went to go get some apple cider.

The owner of the restaurant met me by the cider and gave me a huge high five. "Lauren, that was awesome!" he exclaimed. Like most people, he was probably a little surprised I had that in me. I'm 87% sure that I'm going to be working in his restaurant when it finally opens to the public. And weirdly enough, I think my little impromptu performance just solidified my chances of being officially hired.

After Tweaked Out Elvis Costello ran out of steam again, a guy in an ugly sweater butchered something that sounded like rag time. Then someone yelled for me again, so I went up and played an instrumental medley of some of my "Goat Man" stuff followed by a weird song about icebergs. Then I noticed the restaurant was closing, so we packed up the equipment and called it a night.

The Gnome approached me and told me about how much he loved my song about giardia. "I had giardia once," he said. "It was terrible. It was like there was a blender in my stomach!"

"Oh man, that's bad," I say. "I thought I had giardia once. It ended up just being some other, more obscure parasite, but that's what inspired the song."

"Ew, yeah, those parasites are rough. They weren't ever really sure if I actually had giardia or not, but they had to prescribe me like, chlorine to make it finally go away."

Maybe next time I do a short set, I'll have a little more class and choose not to play a catchy song about explosive diarrhea.

But overall, I felt fairly on top of the world at the end of the night. I watched Tweaked Out Elvis Costello and The Poet smoke a cigarette on the curb for a little bit, but eventually got bored with that and went back to my room. I had a text on my phone from my friend Cyndi and I texted her back telling her I had just played an impromptu solo set. She replied with the following text:

"good things are wild & free. essentially, you rock. we can do all things through christ/god/jesus (buddha. the prophet. allah. lady gaga. lykke li. alcohol) who gives us strength. i'm proud of you!"

It was a text that made me grin.

And with that, I should probably go to bed. Happy Halloween, amigos. Over and out.