Saturday, April 30, 2011

Soul Aslyum and Sausage

I'm feeling fairly rock and roll today. 

I think it's the Soul Asylum connection I have going on right now. 

While I was doing my laundry today, The Chef made me this T-shirt:

When The Chef lived in Minneapolis in the 80's, he made the same T-shirt for the drummer of Soul Asylum.  The drummer wore the shirt on the cover of this album:

The logo is larger but it's still the same design made by the same person.  I can't help but feel cool.

As a side note, Soul Asylum's "Misery" was my favorite song when I was seven years old.  I feel like that probably says something about me but I'm not sure what. 

In other news, I was downstairs working with The Studio Musician until a little bit ago.  I can't wait to show you guys what we've been cooking up.  Right now, it's just at the tedious phase of him mixing it and me telling him to tweak different instruments.

Me:  "Can you put a little more guitar on the chorus?"
The Studio Musician:  "Yeah...I have nine guitar tracks layered there...which one do you like best?"
Me:  "Oh wow, that's intense.  Uh..."
The Studio Musician:  "Yeah, don't even look at the computer one likes to see how the sausage gets made."

It's going to be some great sausage when it's all done. 

Anyway, that's all for now.  Another lame post.  I'll be back on my blogging game soon.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Brief Therapy Moment

That was slightly exhausting.  I just spent two hours refusing to show somebody a song that's been in my notebook forever.  Finally, I cracked and showed the song.  It was painful.  And awkward.  It only took him a couple of minutes to read it, but it felt like an eternity as I sat there feeling completely self-conscious.  I regretted putting so much effort into saying "NO, YOU CAN'T READ THIS ONE" because it built it up way too much and there was no easy way out of it. 

There really wasn't that much wrong with the song.  In fact, my friend convinced me that I should put it into my repertoire.  I guess I'm just not used to unleashing songs that have very many emotions in them.  Or songs that are about specific people.  I feel like the meaning of a song is obvious and am therefore totally embarrassed by that song's existence (especially when the lyrics are no longer relevant).  In reality, it's difficult to tell what the song is about unless you live inside my brain. 

Finally playing this particular song for someone other than my radiator was like ripping off a big messy band aid - it felt unnatural and a little horrific but it was alright in the end.  Actually, I feel really good.  And baffled that someone in this universe would spend two hours of their time in the middle of the night trying to talk me into taking old discarded songs out of my metaphorical oven.  That takes the whole song-writing group thing to a whole new level. 

As I type this, I'm staring at a mound of notebooks full of songs that no one has ever seen.  It's bad.  I write things and hide them away.  Over half of my songs are just rotting in those unseen pages.  A lot aren't finished and many of them have never even seen the light of day.  The Poet has recently challenged me to dig those songs out and let them be heard.  Naturally, I was very reluctant. 

But tonight, I got one of the more embarrassing ones out into the atmosphere and lived to tell about it.  Actually, the most embarrassing part of the whole process ended up being the fact that I was so afraid to let anyone read it.  It made me realize that I'm ridiculous and I need to just get over myself.  Open the notebooks and let people that I trust dive into my music so I can listen to their honest opinions. 

After all, this is what musicians are supposed to do, right?  I can't spend my whole career writing love songs about zombies and intestinal parasites.  And writing songs for my own personal fulfillment is nice, but after a certain point it makes sense to just open the flood gates and let the world in on that stuff.

Because maybe someone will relate to it.  Or like it.  Dance to it.  Sing along to it.  Paint their walls to it.  Drive around to it.  Maybe someday it can all be music that will be of use to other people.

Or maybe I'm just being hopeful and idealistic.  But I don't think I really have anything to lose by singing about things that are real to me.  I always thought I probably did.  I always put my lyrics through so many filters to keep them from being too introspective or revealing. 

"Wouldn't it be so much more satisfying to just get all of the stuff in your notebooks out there?" said The Poet, grinning behind a late-night cup of coffee.  "I know you're a rock and roll girl who sings about monsters and aliens, but you're a real girl too." 

I think he probably has a good point. 

Gah, I'm surrounded by people who probably believe in me more than I believe in myself.  Which I'm endlessly thankful for, but I need to get over myself.  I'm working on it.  Tonight was liberating.  Song-writing group tomorrow will be liberating (that is, if I actually bring a song out instead of just saying "Pass" yet again).  Baby steps out the front door.  Baby steps down the street.  Baby steps into the elevator.

Hi, I'm your friendly neighborhood neurotic songwriter, reporting for duty!

They say it's because I'm a Scorpio.  I thought it was probably more of a general personality flaw, but we can blame the stars anyway. 

Aaaaaand that's all for now.  Wow, boring entry!  Sorry guys.  Just had to spew all of that, I guess.  I really do have stories to tell, I've just been unintentionally hoarding them.  Will spill them soon.  Promise.  <3

(Apparently I have an affinity for text hearts now?  One could even say that I <3 them...)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pretending To Be Bowie

I've finally started getting a professionally mixed demo together.  It took me a long time to get going on it because I was a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of going solo.  Fortunately, I was able to connect with a musician that lives downstairs.  I'll call this guy The Studio Musician.

This is a guy that rarely comes out of his room.  I didn't really know about him until The Poet met him on the smoker's corner one day and suggested I collaborate with him.  I was nervous at first because he is primarily a jazz musician, but he's actually perfect for the job.  He's got a whole recording studio set up in his apartment and he plays multiple instruments.  He's got a big burly beard, wears the same hat everyday, and has an adorable pet cat.  He also has a "Clerks" poster hanging in his studio.  "Clerks" was a movie that I used to quote a lot with my old band, so it seemed a good omen of sorts. 

A couple weeks ago, I gave him a rough track of one of my songs.  He created guitar and bass parts for it and is working on drums.  I was amazed when I heard it.  It sounded like a real song by a real band!  A pretty bad ass song too, if I do say so myself.  It starts out with piano, organ, and acoustic guitar, but then the chorus rolls around and the electric kicks in.  Just thinking about it makes me grin.

I spent a couple of hours recording vocals in this guy's studio yesterday.  Once I got over feeling self-conscious about my voice, it was a blast.  "That was good, but don't be afraid grow a pair and belt it out," he said after several takes.  It was at that point that I began to imagine I was David Bowie.  I sang while making dramatic hand gestures behind the makeshift wall of sound-proofing blankets.  I let myself get lost in the music that was coming through my headphones.  I closed my eyes and visualized myself onstage as Ziggy Stardust. 

I finished singing and The Studio Musician gave me a big thumbs up from behind his computer.  "That was it!  That was the take!  Rock on!" he exclaimed.  Then his next door neighbor's smoke alarm went off and a dog began barking simultaneously.  The timing on that was uncanny.  If that had happened while I was singing, the take would have been ruined.

When I left the studio, I couldn't help but feel like a rock star.  I had my song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  Specifically the chorus:  "Is this just another night?  Or have you finally lost your mind?"

Sometimes I feel like I really am losing my mind in this place.  Fortunately, I have a good method of reminding myself that I'm at least semi-sane.  It involves a pile of notebooks Mr. Merry Christmas Forever has sitting in a trunk outside of his door.  But that's a story I'll save for tomorrow...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Post - The Fonz

First off, I've got some bizarro cartoons floating around the internet that I'd like to share with you guys. I know I've mentioned The Transatlantic Support Group on here before, but I'm taking this opportunity to shamelessly plug it again because Tom, Allison, and I had way too much fun pretending to be superheros last week. I got a little bit carried away and created a three-page comic that relentlessly makes fun of hipsters. You can read that comic here. Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog while you're there!

In other news, The Fonz now knows about this blog. I reluctantly showed him a few entries from it tonight and he was fascinated. Honestly, I was nervous that he would somehow be offended by the fact that I've written about him, but he thought it was great. The whole scene was mildly reminiscent of Dumbledore telling Harry Potter he's a wizard.

He even offered to write an impromptu guest post for me. So without furthur ado, here is The Fonz:

Hi Lauren's readers- This is The Fonz, guest writing Lauren's blog entry for today because she is tired of all of you sucking out her essence and needs a break from giving so much. As for me, I am more Fonzie like everyday. My many disorders are melting away as perfect hair, perfectly white t-shirts, free juke box plays, and multitudes of STD-free sexual escapades in "my office" with the pink ladies take over where anxiety once ruled. As for Lauren she had a great day. She had a heartfelt walk around our neighborhood with a local eastern Guru who gave her advice that comes from the nether regions of Nepal and from Oprah. She now feels more enlightened and free and even broke into laughter and tears simultaneously as she pointed with joy at one of God's greatest creations; the squirrel. She marveled at her new insight and her delight in finally being able to see a squirrel's testicles for the first time. "Look at them, basking in the sunlight, it's sooo beutifuuul.." she exclaimed. The world is full of wonders and Lauren is headed down a new path of positivity, relationalness, dreamtucking, and happijoyness.

That concludes today's message from The Fonz. I apologize for the strange squirrel humor. Believe it or not, that story is all based on actual events (though I believe he misquoted me a bit towards the end).

By the way, you guys are definitely not "sucking out my essence," as The Fonz so poetically stated. Just for the record. :D

Anyway, I've got lots more to write about but I should really go to bed. Hopefully I'll be able to throw another post up here tomorrow. But for now, I'm gonna get sleep. Goodnight, amigos.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Boys and Girls

Let me start this off by saying that I have no problem with homosexuality. Personally, I'm a girl that likes boys, but I think that people should love whoever they want to regardless of genders. If you want to be gay, be gay. If you want to be straight, be straight. If you want to love both boys and girls, go for it. No judgment here.

That aside, I find myself continuously frustrated at how ambiguous sexual orientation can be these days. I think I used to have decent gaydar, but lately it seems to be broken. Maybe it's all the blending people seem to be doing. Polyamory is even acceptable these days, especially in the weird little hipster universe that I live in (I still don't really get polyamory, but that's a whole different topic).

Anyway, it's impossible to tell who's gay, straight, or otherwise. Like I said earlier, I don't care which way you swing. But it's nice to be able to know.

I guess I have a habit of putting the people in my life into boxes. I categorize them based on the behavior they exhibit and then I interact with them in an appropriate manner.

This would be a good system if people stayed in the boxes I put them in. I'm learning that people don't do that. People are too complicated to be sorted into brain boxes and they rarely stay in the category I think they belong in.

For example, if someone is going on dates with boys and giving me occasional fashion advice, I'm going to put them in the "gay best friend" box. I'm going to invite them over for disco parties. If they suddenly start showing interest in becoming more than friends with me, I'm going to be totally thrown off. Why? Because that behavior does not fit my expectation of how a boy in the "gay best friend" box should act.

I think I should stop pretending that everyone can fit neatly into a box. No more compartments. No more predetermined ideas of what my various friendships should look like.

The next part of this word vomit parade harks back to the age old question brought to you by our friends Harry and Sally (specifically when they met): Can men and women ever just be friends or does sex always get in the way?

If you know the answer to this question, please tell me.

I've spent my entire life trying to believe that platonic friends are possible. But the truth is, every platonic friendship I've ever had has been weird at some point in time for one of the following reasons:

a) He likes me and it's not mutual.
b) I like him and it's not mutual.
c) We like each other, it's mutual, it doesn't work out, and then it's awkward.
d) I don't like him but I think he likes me even though in reality he doesn't.
e) He doesn't like me but thinks I like him even though I don't.
f) He gets drunk and says something weird.
g) He gets a girlfriend and then has no room in his life for other girls.
h) A jealous party misinterprets our platonic friendship and starts 7th grade-style rumors.

I'm going to stop before I go through the entire alphabet.

Of course, friendships aren't always ruined over these things. Some of my greatest friends are of the opposite sex and we've totally moved past any weirdness or sexual tension. But I have also lost friendships because of these things. Though it should no longer be unexpected, it's always somewhat surprising. Not to mention disappointing.

I want to live in a world where men and women can be friends without having to worry about love or sex or what people think. Sadly, I don't think a world like that exists. I think the fact that one person has a penis and the other person does not is always going to come up in some way, shape, or form.

It's only taken me a little over 23 years to realize this. Go me.

This doesn't mean I'm giving up on platonic friendships, but maybe I can begin to view them more realistically. Maybe next time I can have a little foresight and I won't have to listen to all of my neighbors say "I told you so."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grumpy Lauren Is Grumpy

I should probably be asleep but I'm having a difficult time winding down. It doesn't really help that my next door neighbor has about five people smoking cigarettes out of her window with her right now. Nobody sleeps around here.

There was a big event going on here tonight. Art shows, live music, Bollywood dancing, etc. The mayor of Portland was even there. And the restaurant/bar downstairs finally opened. I worked a five hour shift as The Bouncer.

Yes, The Bouncer. The term "Door Security" works as well. Basically, it was my job to stand by the back doors and make sure nobody brought alcohol in or out of the room.

You are allowed to laugh. When I first found out I was going to be The Bouncer, I could barely keep a straight face. Hello, I'm a skinny white girl! Even when I wear all black and pile on too much eyeliner, you can bet there's not much that's intimidating about me.

I did wear all black and too much eyeliner though. I had to at least try to be intimidating.

At first, I felt fairly bad ass. I had a wall in the corner that I expertly leaned against. When someone walked too close to the door with a beer, I would casually tell them not to take it outside. Easy.

But then the crowd came. Everyone had alcohol that was either going out or coming in. As the one and only alcohol monitor, it was impossible to keep track of all of it.

And then I got stuck talking to the old drunk guy I got trapped in a room with in February. The Poet could not save me because he was busy having a spontaneous reunion with someone really awkward. Eventually, the drunk guy went away and was promptly replaced by Magic Butter Guy. He gave me an uncomfortably long hug and went on to talk about things that didn't really make sense.

When he left, I found myself conversing with Man With No Personality Who Purposefully Parts His Hair On The Side. It was about then that I noticed a certain boy walk in. This is the boy who loves French cinema and knows all the words to "Total Eclipse Of The Heart." I was having a hard time determining his sexual orientation and then just gave up on him. I hadn't seen him for about a month and apparently he acquired an attractive collection of facial hair...and a girlfriend. He walked in with a chick on his arm and the two of them came over to talk to me.

It was terrible. He was legitimately interested in knowing how I was. He even asked about Goat Man. I went through the routine where I refer to Goat Man as a real person and he genuinely laughed. His girlfriend was unamused. She was hungry. He wanted to dance. He was sad that I was stuck in a corner and could not join in on the dancing. He suggested that the three of us go do something after my shift. She waved the idea away and pulled him upstairs to get food. I watched them walk away hand in hand and tried not to have a totally disgruntled expression on my face.

The old drunk guy returned.

The novelty of being The Bouncer had officially worn off.

The night ended with my new boss handing me an old rag and telling me to clean tables. Touching a wet rag was the last thing I wanted to do in my bad ass bouncer attire, but it wasn't worth fussing over. Next thing I knew, I was cleaning and bussing tables with my new coworker, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello. He was as annoying (and drugged up) as ever:

"It's a pleasure to work with you, Lauren!"
"Hey Lauren, I am putting this rag on this table and I am cleaning this table!"
"Lauren, are you going to work here a lot? I work here all the time!"
"Look at my neck Lauren, I have a rash from wearing an apron!"
"See you tomorrow, Lauren!"

I was so grumpy at the end of my shift.

But I'm getting money and future sitcom material out of all of this, so it's okay. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Now excuse me while I go pound my head against a wall...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Not So Hippy Dippy After All

I recently had a profound realization:

I am not a hippy.

Yes, I believe in peace and love. I live in a commune. I just had feathers attached to my head as hair extensions (see picture). I dream of making the world a better place through music. It bothers me when people don't recycle. I own the original Broadway recording of "Hair." I have friends of all ages and I identify these friends by the type of art that they make. I've participated in a Solstice celebration. I think that reading Walt Whitman aloud by candlelight is a legitimately fun group activity.

But I am not really a hippy.

I have no interest in growing my own vegetables. I am okay with shopping at grocery stores. I enjoy eating meat. I have nothing against the organic movement, but I'm never going to sit and complain about artificial flavors in my ice cream. I have a deep respect for woman who don't shave their armpits, but I personally need to on a regular basis. I believe in feminism (to a certain extent), but I also believe in wearing a bra.

I have no desire to ever be openly naked among others. I never want to go to Burning Man. I'm not into drugs. The constant smell of marijuana gives me a headache. Though I sometimes look at my horoscope in the paper, I don't make assumptions about people based on astrological signs. I have never practiced any Eastern religions.

I own multiple fur coats. I drink a latte at Starbucks occasionally. Daily bathing is important to me. I hate camping. I could never live in the woods. When there is a spider in my room, I mercilessly kill it. Sometimes, I listen to totally processed, auto-tuned pop music. Sometimes, I disregard the fact that cars are hard on the environment and I drive to a place that is close enough to walk.

Six months ago, I packed up my life and naively moved into this "artistic community." Six months later, I feel like everything has changed completely but I know that isn't true. I am still Lauren. It just so happens that this year's model of Lauren comes equipped with a love of granola and a fear of brownies.

At least I have finally recognized this simple truth: I will never be an actual hippy.

But that's really okay.

I guess it's time to face reality and get a job of some sort. Hmmfph.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Can Be Bad, But I'm Perfectly Good At It...

The other morning I was reading The Portland Mercury while drinking my first cup of coffee. As usual, I glanced through the "I Saw U" ads on my way to read the horoscopes. One ad in particular popped out at me.

There, in bold letters, are the words "RED HEAD IN BLUE TRUCK." Guess who has red hair and drives a blue truck? That would be me.

The ad goes on to describe a gorgeous, fair-skinned, red head in a blue truck that apparently mouthed something at a guy with dreadlocks while at a stoplight. It happened at an intersection I've been to fairly recently, though I can't remember the specific day I was there.

I do not remember a man with dreadlocks, nor do I remember purposely mouthing anything at anyone, but I definitely sing in my car and have accidentally hit on strangers before. I have a fairly traumatic memory of some teenage boy crossing the street as I cluelessly got way too into an 80's song once. Thank goodness the light turned green.

I've been trying to think about what songs I've been hooked on lately and what words I might have accidentally mouthed to a stranger. The possibilities are horrifying. I like a lot of legitimately good, tasteful music, but when I'm alone in my car I sometimes bust out the Top 40 hip hop. Don't judge me, it's a guilty pleasure.

And I know it's a terrible song in many ways, but I have to crank the radio up every time Rihanna's stupid new single comes on. I can't explain it. The lyrics are monotonous and replusive. The song itself consists of about three chords. But it's got a beat that I can't resist. Not to mention the whole song just makes me laugh.

Anyway, I have this strange fear that I may have accidentally mouthed something about chains and whips to a random man with dreadlocks on the street corner.

From now on, my car should be an "indie rock only" zone.

That is all.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Special Cookies

People don't usually expect me to be a prankster, but I totally am one under the right circumstances.

And today is April Fools Day. Definitely the right circumstance for the perfect prank.

That being said, I made some great cookies last night.

Cheap Oreos with toothpaste filling, anyone?

I put them on a plate and left them on the kitchen table in the middle of the night.


Tons of people fell for it. They bit into them and gagged and laughed and wondered who on earth would play a prank like that. Meanwhile, I sat reading the paper and laughing to myself inconspicously.

Everyone blamed it on the dirty hipster that no one likes. I was never even a suspect.

Mission accomplished.

Maybe I'll fess up about it later, but right now I'm having too much fun watching people try to figure where the cookies came from.

Anyway, happy April Fools Day, everyone!

I'm a really sick person sometimes...

Goal Club Part Two: Melancholy Edition

There's been an epidemic of depression around here lately. We're all artists, so we're naturally a pretty emotionally unstable bunch. But this week has been so gloomy that it's almost comical. Just look at the recent entries on the Goal Club chart:

Is it just me, or is it time to hire a community therapist?

Meanwhile, The Chef is on his own planet:

The Fonz wrote "stop making fun of goal club"
The Chef is actually in Amsterdam right now. He managed to escape this madhouse. The Fonz is gone for a couple of weeks too. It's amazing how quiet it is with just those two people gone. A few other people are making plans to leave for awhile.

I was even thinking about pulling a Jack Kerouac and setting out on an impromptu road trip to Austin. It seemed like a good idea until I learned that the person I was going to ride along with was travelling south on a drug-smuggling mission of sorts. I wasn't in the mood to go to jail, so I skipped out on that adventure (hence the word "NO" next to the question about traveling and The Poet's negative feelings about Texas...).

You know, I never really realize how weird my life is until I type things like that out.

I need to come up with a temporary escape plan that doesn't involve illegal activity or Texas. Anybody got any grand ideas?