Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Go Out There And Rock

My boss bought me a candy bar today. I think she could tell my mind was in a place other than work.

Tomorrow is April 1st - exactly ONE MONTH before graduation. I'm moving out of here on May 6th, hanging out at my parent's house for about a month and a half, then hitting the road. Estimated date of departure is June 22ish. Lots of planning and practicing to do before then.

It's amazing how everyone is so supportive and excited about this. I was afraid people would look at me as silly and irresponsible, but most people are totally stoked for me. I called my mom Monday night to tell her about it. She thought it was a fantastic idea. This didn't surprise me at all, but I still had this small fear that this would be the time my parents finally got fed up with my desire to be a traveling musician without traditional employment. Of course, this was not the case, and my whole family is way excited for me.

Talked to Ryan for an hour or so on the phone yesterday and came up with a hypothetical route that involves going across the United States, ending up in New York, and coming back through Canada. We've already gotten some messages from friends and acquaintances offering us their couches for a night. And today in physics, Ryan informed me that has some promising options that could get us through the Midwest with minimal camping and car-sleeping.

Yesterday I told my one of my favourite professors about my plan (ironically, it was the same professor that said something that led to the big epiphany). This prof is this quirky old man that most people either love or are totally offended by. He wears a feather in his hat and decorates his office with Star Trek action figures. I went into his office to ask him a work-related question, then ended up talking about my life after graduation. He thought the rock tour idea was beyond cool.

"Besides, the job market is shitty!" he says. "You're young! You may not make much money but you might be able to eat a bag of French fries on the road every once and awhile. Go out there and rock!"

I think I needed to hear those words come from a seventy-something-year-old literature professor. It kinda made my day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Epiphany

Today I told my landlords that I would be moving out in May.
"My plans have changed," I said. "I'll be moving everything back to my parent's house."

My original plan had been to stay in this tiny town and look for a job in the Portland area. It seemed like a good idea at first, but it was merely a way to buy time for myself while I figure out my life. Truth is, there's really no reason to stay in a college town if you're not going to college. So after I graduate, I need to get out of here.

I need to travel. I need to make music.

It's strange how abruptly this epiphany hit me. Usually when I make decisions, it's over time and the answer is never really that clear. But this - this was like catching the bubonic plague or being slammed by a semi-truck or something.

I guess it started Saturday night.

Ryan and I took a band field trip to attend lesbian fest 2010 at the Backspace cafe in Portland. Oops, did I really just write "lesbian fest 2010"? I meant to write "a Kimya Dawson concert." Freudian slip. Anyway, it was one of those sit-cross-legged-on-the-floor-and-be-mesmerized-by-every-song type of shows.

There's Kimya and her guitar. I took this picture from my spot on the floor behind some woman (I think it was a woman...) with really intense hair. This hair is not hard to miss, especially considering it takes up about a fourth of the photograph.

I hadn't listened to a ton of Kimya's stuff before the concert. I knew all of her cutesy songs from "Juno" and a couple of tracks from her myspace page, but I wasn't fully aware of how honest and beautiful her music is. She plays the kind of music that reminds me why I love music so much. It's simple, raw, unfiltered, and makes me want to be a better person. I think I was grinning through the whole show because her songs were so refreshing. She sang about everything from love and death to giants and lemmings. And she kept coming back to this one theme: making music is what she has to do to be happy.

If you weren't there, it probably sounds like a load of hippy weirdness, but it totally inspired me. I even emailed her to tell her how much I enjoyed the show. I have not heard back yet, but she strikes me as the type of girl that doesn't check her email very often.

Ryan and I ran into one of our old drummers at the show. We seem to have a Spinal Tap-esque curse when it comes to drummers. When we finally find one, we have a difficult time keeping them around. This drummer was probably the best drummer we've had, but he only played a couple of shows with us because he was headed off to Tennessee for a bit. Hadn't seen him since we played Ash Street with him in July. But there he was, wearing his round black glasses and waiting for the world's most indie folk concert to start. He seemed happy to see us. We told him how we were about to graduate and get sucked in by the corporate world though we wanted to be rock stars. He told us that we rock and that if we want to do music, we should just get our name out there. It was cool hearing that from someone a bit older that I consider to be a pretty good musician.

We left the concert feeling inspired to write music and play music. But on Monday, we could only do one thing: go to class.

My first class of the morning is a memoir writing class. I'm taking it as an elective and I really like it, but I hate waking up before 10. I dragged my rock star butt to class though, just in time for Schtick Lit day.

Schtick Lit is that new(ish) genre of nonfiction memoir in which the author sets up some sort of experiment to undertake or manufactures some unique experience. Examples include that guy that washed dishes in every state and that liberal kid that went to Liberty University for a semester. The prof asked us to write about what we would do if we were to embark on a schticky style memoir. I sat there thinking, Dude, it would be so cool if I could just blow off my life to travel across the country and write about something in a way no one has before. The class was over before I could make these thoughts any less vague, however. It was time for work.

There was a new sign hanging up on the door in the office that said something along the lines of "If you knew your life was about to end, how would you live differently?" I clocked in just in time to hear my coworkers discussing it. "I don't think I'd change anything," they said. "I like the way my life is."

I stared at the sign, then at my coworkers. I realized that if my life was about to end tomorrow, I would change so many things. So what does that mean? I didn't want to think about it. I grabbed some copies that needed to be done and headed downstairs to the copy machine.

It was at the copy machine that I ran into one of my favourite literature profesors (I'm a work study student in the writing/literature office). I greeted him enthusiastically and we proceeded to have the conversation that made me realize this town is too small. I trudged back up the stairs with copies in my hand and a million thoughts in my brain. I can't stay here for the summer. This town's too small. This state is too small. For being such a big world, it's getting too small where I'm at. I need to go on an adventure.

I sat by Ryan in physics and expressed these thoughts to him on our ritual post-physics walk to the mail room. The mail check turned into coffee and two hours later, we were hooked on the idea of a rock tour.

It's a crazy idea, but the more I think about it, the more it just makes sense. The more I can't get it out of my head.

I don't remember the last time I was this excited about something.

Preparing for Rock and Roll Excellence

Hello friends.

My name is Lauren and I've been a slave to academia my entire life (well, I believe there was a brief, five year period of time before kindergarten when I was not involved in any sort of scholarly institution, but I was too young to appreciate it).

I live in America, where all functional members of society are expected to go to school until they obtain a degree that will land them their job of choice. This job will then pay for all the expenses of life but drain the life out of a person in the process.

I'm not ready for that. I don't know if I'll ever be.

The truth is, I've spent my whole life just wanting to make music. That is what really makes me happy. But I've also spent my whole life hearing people laugh when I say that all I really want to be in life is a rock star. People think it's a joke. People think it's impractical. People don't understand why I can't just be "normal" and go after a job that will make good money and suck out my soul in the process.

I'm done listening to those people.

I graduate from college in t minus one month. I'm going to take my degree, hang it on my wall in a safe spot (I may want to use it someday), and prepare for rock and roll excellence.

My band, Original Sound Trash (consisting of myself and my friend Ryan), is cooking up some sort of supersonic tour of trash rock this summer. We do not know where we are going yet, but we're targeted to leave a few days after June 19th. We will need the help of friends and fans along the way. So if you know of any great places we should play or couches we can crash on along the way, let me know!

I plan to document my side of all this madness through this blog. If all goes well, I will be updating it regularly, so subscribe away and stay tuned! :D