Friday, December 30, 2011

And The Madness Begins...

It's a dark and rainy Friday night over here. A couple of people wanted me to go out but I told them I was sick. Which is code for "I am in an emotionally fragile state and prefer to spend the evening watching episodes of 'The Middle' while eating stale pretzels."

Now that I think about it, I may choose to be in that very same emotionally fragile state tomorrow night too and have a quiet yet sophisticated New Year's Eve with myself and a plate of microwaved nachos. I've had several people approach me regarding my plans, but no one has actually invited me anywhere. In fact, people seem like they want me to organize their New Year's plans. And there is no party planned here at the art asylum, but people seem to think there should be one and that I should DJ it. I love being the go-to DJ girl and I'm glad that I have friends want to hang out with me on New Year's, but I just don't have the energy this year to spend hours DJing some drunken year-end bash or be the evening coordinator (and driver) for some over-priced, over-crowded night out.

Truth is, I've gotten myself so stressed out over my upcoming move that I've been socially shutting down over the past few days. My plan wasn't really coming together, so I went for my back-up option and told The Management I need to extend my notice until the beginning of February. They promptly sent me an email informing me that my room had already been rented out and I needed to vacate on the 11th originally planned.

Lesson learned: Don't light a fire under your butt unless you know for sure you can run fast enough.

So what's going to happen?

I'm not entirely sure.

Here's what I do know:

I'm moving my stuff back to my parents' house for right now. I've got a one-way plane ticket to Orlando, Florida. Plane leaves on the 11th. I have an aunt and uncle in Florida that I've seen approximately four times in my life but I remember them as being really nice and they've invited me to stay for awhile.

And after Florida? Location is still TBD.

Of course, I made the mistake of accidentally going public with this whole moving out thing before I was really ready to. I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff, so naturally I put a pile in the hall for people to dig through (keeping up with the tradition of Portland being a friendly free-pile city). I wanted the stuff to actually go away, so I went on Facebook and mentioned the pile on my status.

BAM! Just like that, the world put two-and-two together and began to ask me why, when, and where I am moving.

I realize these are all fair questions. But why is unnecessary, when is scary, and where is just plain unknown. Because I can say I'm going to Florida, but then people want to know what I'm going to do in Florida, if I'm going to move to Florida, am I coming back to Portland, where will I go after that, and do I have a place in mind, and what will become of my rock and roll career, and will I ever get a job or will I just spend my days bumming around the country on free flight vouchers I received after getting bumped from a flight that I didn't pay for to begin with because I was a radio contest winner?

But on top of feeling nervous and frantic, I am really quite excited about all of this. I mean, who knows where this trip is going to take me.

And Florida seems like a great place to start. Mostly because I've never been there, I know people there, and I've had palm trees on the brain ever since I watched Johnny Depp drunkenly stumble around in "The Rum Diary" (it was a mediocre film, but it inspired me to go somewhere warm).

So, bring on the new year. Unlike the Mayans, I have a good feeling about 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sandwiches Are Beautiful, Sandwiches Are Fiiiiine, I Like Sandwiches, I Eat Them All The Tiiiime...

I used to love the community kitchen, but recently it's become a breeding ground for awkwardness and anxiety. It's also just a general health hazard these days (thank you, sloppy people that smell like hamsters). I've been back on my trusty sandwich diet, throwing in a microwave dinner here and there so I can experience a little variety without actually leaving my room and cooking things.

However, I recently had to perform an ethnic cleansing on the inhabitants of my refrigerator (which is an inappropriate way of saying that three out of four lame items in my fridge were out-dated/stinky so I decided that the fourth item was guilty by association and threw everything away). I fully intended to go to the store in attempts to rebuild the food community in the fridge, but I put it off because grocery shopping really isn't that fun. And when dinnertime rolled around, I decided to get over my recent anti-social tendencies and brave the kitchen with a box of noodles.

It was okay at first. The Poet was in there drinking coffee and it was just like the old days. But just when I made myself comfortable and put a pot of pasta on the stove, Creepy Niles Crane entered the scene.

I'm not sure if I've ever talked about Creepy Niles Crane before. The best way I know how to describe him is this: He looks exactly like Niles Crane from the show "Frasier" but acts like a character that belongs in a Kafka novel. He's weirdly intense and something about him always makes me nervous. Maybe it's the fact that he's so open about his interest in sadomasochism, or the way his eyes light up when he talks about watching lions tear their prey apart in animal documentaries. He's also the guy with the infamous bed bug problem. *shudder*

As a side note, I definitely heard him hit on a girl once by asking if she wanted to come over to his place and have a look at his bed bugs. This poor girl simply stared at him and said, "Do you really think that line is going to work on ANYONE?"

Anyway, Creepy Niles Crane comes in, throws his coat on a chair, and sits down with a heavy sigh. I stir my pasta, hoping that prodding the noodles with a spoon will make them cook faster.

"Do you know a reliable brand of throat antiseptic?" Creepy Niles Crane asks, a very matter-of-fact tone in his voice.

The Poet and I look at each other.

"A reliable brand of what?"

"Throat antiseptic," he says. "You know, to make your throat go numb. I want one that works really well."

There's an awkward pause.

"It's for a friend. A sick friend. Sore throat," he says quickly.

I continue to stir my pasta and tell him to just get some cough drops.

At this point, Silent Black Man walks in with a sack of potatoes.

I don't really know the full story on Silent Black Man. I know he doesn't actually live here. I think someone picked him up at Occupy Portland. I'm not really sure where he's sleeping, but I know he's staying here somewhere.

The best part? He doesn't speak English. So NO ONE really knows what's up with him.

And when he walked into the kitchen with a sack of potatoes and grabbed a giant knife, I nearly jumped out of my skin.*

Of course, he was just using this knife to chop the potatoes, but the way he held it was slightly unnerving.

Meanwhile, Creepy Niles Crane was busy reflecting on his lack of success with women.

The Poet: "Was it just me, or did I hear you ask a girl to come back to your place and look at your bed bugs?"
Creepy Niles Crane: "Yeah... It didn't work... I think I need to work on my approach. I think how I said that wasn't quite right..."
The Poet: "You think???"

Creepy Niles Crane went on to talk about his bed bug problem in detail and I immediately felt itchy all over. Silent Black Man continued to chop potatoes in a corner. I decided that my noodles were done and was dismayed to find that all of the plates were dirty.

I looked for a fork and decided to just eat out of the pan. Or maybe I would just put the entire thing in tupperware and take it back to my room... Except that The Chef had made a point out of throwing out any and all tupperware once upon a time. I casually searched for a take-home vehicle of some sort. Meanwhile, Creepy Niles Crane starting going all philosophical.

"Time," he said ominously. "Time moves so fast. Time."

Everyone in the room nodded in agreement. But he wasn't done being on a soapbox.

"Sometimes, I think I could spend my entire life thinking about getting out of this chair and then I would die in this chair."

No one in the room knew how to respond to that.

So I casually scooped up my pan full of noodles and made a less-than-graceful exit.

"Good luck getting out of the chair," I said.

This is a mad house, I thought to myself as I made my way back to my room. This is a retirement home for hipsters and lunatics. HOW DID I GET HERE? THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL HOUSE. THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE.

I then realized that I too am guilty of living my life as though I'm sitting in a chair I don't know how to get out of. And I don't know what my story is going to be about, but I don't think it's supposed to be about a girl who spends her life eating sandwiches on 82nd Avenue while waiting for something more interesting to happen. It's definitely time to get a better grip on things and make stuff happen.

In the meantime, I can at least go to the grocery store and stock up on lunch meat.

*Please know that I would have been just as spooked if he was a Silent White Man or a Silent Asian Dude.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Something Fun That's Going On Today...

So I've gotten involved in a contest on YouNow and I'll be going up against 8 talented musicians today at 6pm Eastern Standard Time. I'll be broadcasting a live performance from my apartment, which is pretty exciting. If I'm in the top three, I move on to the next round of the competition.

I hate to shamelessly self-promote on here, but I would love to see some of your friendly little avatar faces in the virtual audience. Using the site is really easy - you can just log in with your Facebook account and then you are free to vote/comment on anything.

It should be a pretty good show. Looks like I'm up against the following people:

- Guy that sounds like Johnny Cash
- Guy who sings like he's in Creed
- Blonde chick who plays piano
- Guy with cool stage name
- Chick with bubbly personality
- Guy with guitar and beard
- Boy who loves boy bands
- Guy I'm FB friends with but don't actually know

I expect the competition to be fierce. I also expect it to be totally entertaining.

Hop over to in a couple hours and check it out? :D

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Here's To Awkward Transition Times...

So the countdown has begun. 26 days until I move on to my next adventure.

I think I would be more excited if I knew what that meant. But the truth is, I don't know what that means. I have no plan. I have about a dozen half-baked ideas and a couple fairly undesirable back-up options, but no real concrete plan.

I've been thinking so much over the past few days that I've probably given my brain a rash. It's gone past the point of productive thinking and has reached into the realm of anxiety-driven thought loops. I know I need to knock that off. Because as overwhelming as the future often seems, it's only going to get worse if I paralyze myself with stress.

I keep saying I want to leave this town and it seems like it's time. I mean, I almost punched a hipster at a vintage clothing store the other day. If that doesn't mean it's time to leave Portland, I don't know what does.

The good news is that I still have those vouchers for Southwest Airlines that I received for getting bumped in February. And they'll be expiring soon, so I really should use them. I don't even really know where I want to go, I just know I want to go somewhere. I watch the bargain flights everyday. I should probably just book one and go, go, go.

...And do what when I get there?

I can hear the phone conversation now...

Me: "Hi Mom, I'm in Saint Louis..."
My Mother: "What are you doing in Saint Louis???"
Me: "I'm not really sure, but I got a last minute bargain deal on the flight and I think on the way back I might get bumped!!!"

I sometimes wish that life came with road maps...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Heavy Stuff...

Today, I've been going back and forth between feeling completely optimistic about the future and feeling as though I'm going to throw up from anxiety. Right now, I'm leaning towards the latter of those two feelings. The level of nervousness I'm currently experiencing is probably totally unnecessary and logically I know this, but the future is a very unknown place and my move-out date will be here in a month. Somebody get me a barf bucket, please.

I'm also still heavily processing something scary that happened a couple of nights ago. I told myself I wasn't going to write about it because I don't want to dwell on it, but my mind keeps pressing the replay button on the mental video tapes. It's a lot heavier than the sort of stuff I normally blog about, but I think it's probably important to get it out of my head. So here it is...

I went to bed early on Saturday night and woke up to my phone ringing at two in the morning. By the time I was awake enough to look at my phone, I had a voicemail from The Fonz. I figured he was probably drunk dialing me or something, but when I listened to the message I was shocked by the urgency in his voice.

One of our friends was going to kill himself.

I heard voices in the hallway, so I threw on some sweatpants and poked my head out of my door to see what was up.

It was one of the two guys we lovingly refer to as "The Gnomes." We all knew he was having a rough time, but we just assumed he would get through it. But late that night, he posted a Facebook status that was obviously a suicide note and disappeared. He texted his roommate (The Other Gnome) to announce that he was not going to come back.

The Fonz had called because he needed to borrow my car. The Other Gnome had a wild hunch of where this guy might be and they were on a mission to go find him. They ended up borrowing someone else's car because I didn't answer the phone. But while they were out driving around, The Fonz called me again to tell me to look downstairs.

"Now we think he gave us a false lead and he's actually somewhere in the building," The Fonz said frantically into the phone. "Can you go check the weird bathroom in the basement and see if he's in there?"

I called The Poet and told him to check downstairs. I was not about to go creeping around the basement of this spooky building in search of my friend who might very possibly be dead. So The Poet went on a mission to check every hidden corner of the building and I had nothing to do but pace back and forth in my room.

I held my phone in my hand and waited for news. I checked my friend's Facebook page, read his suicide note, and swore silently to myself. It seemed hopeless. He had made up his mind and now he was dead somewhere. My friend was dead.

The minutes seemed to last forever as I waited for the phone to ring. I had to do something, so I made a sandwich. I wasn't even hungry, but I needed to do something with my hands. So I sliced up some cheese and prepared my brain for the inevitable bad news. My friend was dead. I ran a mental slideshow of memories through my brain...

The night in the kitchen when I met Gnome for the first time...

The time we sat cross-legged in the hallway together and ate pizza during and art opening...

The ironic Mary and Jesus shirt he wore all of the time just to be weird...

The night he drunkenly stole the fire hose sign from outside my door and yelled "We're all going to a hand basket, bitch..."

The way he always won at pool by hiding his opponent's balls in the pocket of his sweatshirt and tossing them in the holes when no one was looking...

The times he made me laugh so hard I nearly cried...

The constant piano playing...

The suit he wore specifically for my birthday party...

The time we had a jam session in the courtyard and it was a disaster because he can't really play guitar and I can't really play accordion...

The spiked iced tea he made for everyone, which turned out to just be straight vodka that was flavored to taste like iced tea...

The night he told me that I had the power of rock and roll...

I mechanically placed some deli meat on my sandwich and looked at my phone again. Nothing. I was frustrated that there wasn't anything I could do to help. And I was horrified at the fact that one of the most talented, funny, and brilliant people I know was miserable enough to kill himself.

I then realized that I never told him how talented, funny, and brilliant he was. This was equally horrifying.

There was a knock on the door. It was The Poet checking to see if I had heard anything new. He had found nothing in the basement. I reported that I didn't know anything and offered him half of my sandwich. So we sat on my floor and nervously ate sandwiches, waiting for news.

Suddenly, there were loud voices in the hallway. People running and yelling "HE'S HERE!" The Poet went out to catch the action but I stayed in my room. I didn't want to find my friend's dead body. I just don't know how to deal with that.

Fortunately, he was alive.

He was in the bathtub room, lying in a sleeping bag inside the bathtub. He had a backpack with him. Someone grabbed it and found three knives inside. They called the police.

The good news is that he made it to the hospital. And he's still alive. I am so thankful that he chose NOT to do it.

But I still found the whole thing unsettling. And the next night, when I found myself at a bowling alley with my gay best friend from high school and a bunch of people I didn't know, I discovered that being normal took a conscious effort. Like, "I'm just going to smile and not act like I was up all night thinking my friend/neighbor was dead."

No one likes to talk about death, especially suicide. But I'm here to say that people probably should talk about it...

Really I wish I could just write one song that would make people stop wanting to kill themselves.

Fun New Facts

Last night was a rough night at the artist's community. I might write about it tomorrow or I might just move on and be thankful that no one is dead. I am exhausted right now, but I can report the following facts:

I gave my notice today. I am moving out on January 11th.

I don't know exactly where I'm going on January 11th. I just know that I can't stay here.

The fundraiser I mentioned in my last post was miraculously successful and we raised enough money as a community to save our two friends from being evicted. I am in awe of the final score...
Human Kindness: 2
Eviction: 0

I also learned tonight that sometimes, when things seem overwhelming and complicated, being a gay man's date to a Christmas party at a bowling alley is the best thing you can do for your mental health.

More coherent thoughts later. It's bed time for Lauren.

Peace and love.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tis The Season...

Two of my friends are being evicted because they can't pay their rent.

They both recently found out that they have to leave tomorrow. One just got fired from his job because his boss didn't like him. The other had a miscommunication with his publishing company and discovered that the money he was counting on from his new book won't be in his hands until February.

My heart breaks for both of them. The one guy is such a caring, generous person and the other guy is easily the smartest man I know. I hate that this is happening to them. The genius guy has enough friends in town that he can couch surf for awhile, but the other guy just moved here and is currently freaking out in his room because he doesn't know where he will go.

It's sick. I hate the way the world is set up sometimes. I mean, if someone has to get evicted, it should be the scary drug addict, the guy who has bed bugs, or the lady who's stench is causing local gas mask sales to escalate. It shouldn't be the prolific writer and the guy who's been known to give his last $5 away to people eating mayonnaise sandwiches in the kitchen. That just doesn't make sense.

Of course, the whole community is trying to throw together a last minute pile of money to save these guys. But most of us here are barely able to pay our own rent. It's unlikely we'll be able to properly save both of them.

Such a stupid time of year for this sort of thing to happen, too. Merry Christmas...Here, have an eviction notice! P.S: It's 30something degrees out there, bring a coat!

It's all upsetting. I know things like this happen everyday, but it's not supposed to happen to people that I actually like.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Sitting in my old room at my parents' house, I wonder where that magic eight-ball is that used to sit on my shelf.

Actually, it was a date-ball. Pink and everything. Totally cool in middle school and too campy to get rid of after that. I'm not sure where it is tonight though. I'd like to ask it a few questions. I'd ask it what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, then remember it only takes "yes" or "no" questions and rephrase that. I would say, "Oh Magic Date Ball, am I going in the right direction?" And I would shake it a little too much and barely be able to read "NO CLUE" through all of the glitter.

Maybe it's a good thing it's not just right there on the shelf anymore. It was never very insightful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You Know You've Lived In An Artist's Community Too Long When...

I know that at the beginning of this month I announced that I was going to post every single day and I have already messed that up by missing yesterday.

That's because yesterday was the sort of day that inspired me to look out for my own mental health take a brief hiatus at my parents' house in the country (which is where I am now). Nothing significantly terrible happened, it was just a combination of...

- the bed bug scare
- over-hearing the people that smell like dead hamsters loudly declare that they definitely don't have any corpses in their room
- locking myself in the basement while doing massive loads of laundry
- waiting for an eternity to get back into my apartment (the maintenance guy stayed up all night playing video games and I had to wait for him to wake up and take a shower)
- flooding my bathroom floor while taking a shower (my drain has problems).

There was definitely a point in there when I was near tears. It was the bathroom flood that did it.

So I did what any mature twenty-something would do: I cleaned up all the water on the floor, threw the rest of my dirty laundry in the car, and drove to Mom and Dad's house.

I'll go back tomorrow, armed with a supersonic cover for my mattress and a stomach full of home-cooked food. But sometimes, a mental health day or two away from the city is necessary.

I know I've talked about wanting to move out before, but this time I think I'm actually going to go through with it. This bed bug thing has made me wake up and realize that my beloved artist community is actually pretty gross.

I think I'll make a snarky list about it...

Ten Ways To Tell You've Lived In An Artist's Community For Too Long:

1. When you hear a dog barking in the hallway, you're not sure if it's an actual dog or just your eccentric neighbor.

2. Whenever ANYONE offers you baked goods of ANY kind, you ask them to recite the ingredients to make sure there won't any weird surprises an hour later.

3. All of your friends refer to you as "the heterosexual one."

4. The very thought of your next door neighbor's constant cloud of incense and marijuana makes you want to vomit all over her hemp door decorations.

5. You are the only person you know who doesn't have an event in their past that can be referred to as "the nervous breakdown."

6. "RENT" used to be your favorite movie but now you can barely sit through it.

7. You're tired of eating stinky vegan food at potlucks.

8. Your friends call you by your existential commune nickname, "Sweater."

8. The little old Asian man at the local mini-mart has a one-dollar lottery ticket ready for you when you walk in.

9. You put two 8's on this list because it is your creative right to do so. You are willing to argue with anyone and, if prompted to, will even deliver a 3 - 5 paragraph statement regarding the meaning of this artistic choice.

10. You are the only girl you know who shaves her armpits.

11. You keep a list in your journal entitled "People Who Are Likely To Go Postal."

12. One of your birthday presents was a gigantic can of PBR wrapped up in festive wrapping paper.

13. You've seen way too many naked people just by being in the wrong room at the wrong time.

14. When you're coming home and you see an ambulance nearby, your instinct is to worry that someone finally either over-dosed or committed suicide.

15. The friends you had in college now refer to you as "the hippy."

16. You know several ways to cook Ramen.

17. The very word "kombucha" makes you want to hurl.

18. Whenever you tell stories about your living situation to people who don't live there, they can't stop laughing and probably think you're making it up.

19. You can make fun of hipsters in approximately 999 different ways, despite the fact that some people mistake you for one at times.

20. Your diet consists primarily of coffee and sandwiches.

Ack. In case you couldn't tell, most of these apply directly to me. I'm exaggerating a little bit for the sake of comedy, but not much.

It's probably time for a change...

I'm not always good with change. Hmmfph.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Click Here To Be Grossed Out!

I am freaking out right now.

It was bad when I knew one of my neighbors managed to grow maggots in her room.

An actual conversation I found on her FB page after the incident

It was bad when a lady and her son moved in and somehow managed to make their entire hallway smell like hamsters.

The weird thing is, there are no hamsters in their room. Only one conclusion is logical: They ARE hamsters.

But now, a guy just a couple rooms away from me has BED BUGS.

I hear about those in the news all the time, but I've never personally known anyone who has actually run into them. They've always seemed like somewhat of a distant, unimportant threat. But now, knowing they have made it into THE BUILDING WHERE I SLEEP, I'm freaking out a little bit.

Naturally, I became psychosomatically itchy the minute I heard the news (which was about an hour ago). I checked my mattress. I changed my sheets. I checked everywhere that they could be hiding. Luckily, there was no sign of them, but I'm still edgy about sleeping here tonight. Maybe I'm being overly neurotic, but those things can travel fast.

I feel a cleaning rampage coming on...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Surely Someone Out There Can Relate To This...

"I have a full time job now," my old friend from high school says, grinning proudly. "We've got to get you one of those!"

I die inside a little bit. I drove all the way out to Timbuktu to see him and he goes all parental on me? Not cool.

"I'm working on it..." I say. "I'm also hoping the music plan will work out..." Even though I'm talking to someone who is technically one of my best friends, I feel like I want to crawl under the table.

"But aren't you running out of money?" he says, raising an eyebrow.

Later in the conversation he's asking me how I could afford a guitar. I wanted to just stand up and say, "Look, I came over here to eat junk food, catch up with what's been going on in your life, tell you funny stories about my commune, and geek out over obscure disco songs with you. I did not come over for a financial audit and evaluation!"

Instead, I found myself trying to justify my purchase by telling him about the great deal I got and about how I earned money from doing this or that. And as I heard the words come out of my mouth, I was saddened by the fact that I live in a world where I have to constantly discuss my financial status with people who really have no right to ask. I don't go around asking people where their money is coming from, so why do people think it's appropriate to grill me on such matters? Just because I'm not working 9-5 somewhere doesn't mean I'm an illegitimate member of society.

Overall, it was good to see my old friend from high school today, if for no other reason than to quench my growing nostalgia for the good old days that aren't really that old and weren't really that good. We listened to music that no one else cares about and laughed at inside jokes that no one else would understand. I'll admit that it is really nice to still talk to someone who knew me back when I was just an awkward, geeky teenager.

I'll also admit that it was nice to go back to my place, play guitar with The Fonz and The Poet, and hear the words "Of course you have a full time job, Lauren - it just isn't paying very well right now."

I need to get that tattooed on my arm or something...

Friday, December 2, 2011

This One Is Long But At Least It Has Pictures

Most of you probably don't know this, but I used to truly believe I could not sing.

I would try to sing, but my voice didn't sound like the voices I heard on the radio. I think somewhere around the time of middle school someone verbally confirmed the fact that I could not sing. And that was that. It was all okay because I was good at playing the piano. I didn't have to be good at singing too.

Of course, I secretly wished I could sing. But I knew that I could not. I wrote songs with the idea that someone else would sing them. I went to college, teamed up with someone who played guitar, and made him be the lead singer in our little band. We called ourselves "Good Quail Hunting," which was funny until everyone forgot about the Dick Cheney incident.

Eventually, we booked a show in a coffee shop near campus. This wasn't a big deal - except it was. I had never really performed outside of a band concert or piano recital (there were a couple of hellish talent shows in there but I would prefer not to think about them). We spent hours practicing and perfecting our set list, which consisted mostly of awkward cover songs (I think we even opened with Coldplay and transitioned into "Birdhouse In Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants...yikes). I handed my bandmate a couple original songs in hopes that he would sing them.

I don't remember if he was getting the phrasing wrong or couldn't hit the notes or what, but I do know that I landed into the position of singing these songs.

"But I can't sing," I remember saying.

"You're not that bad. It's sort of like talking but try to do it on key," my bandmate said. His lame words of encouragement somehow worked. The night of the show came, the coffee shop filled up with kids from our dorms, and next thing I knew I was singing.

I don't want to give you the impression that I opened my mouth and was suddenly Mariah Carey. I was quiet, flustered, and so nervous that I felt the need to face the wall. I was embarrassed, so naturally my neck got really red and splotchy. So not rock and roll.

Unfortunately, a clip from that night is still kicking around the Internet. If I had any common sense, I would delete it. But I'll put it up here so you guys can cringe along with me.

Yes, I know - my voice has dropped about two octaves since that performance five years ago. I'm not really sure what's up with that. When people ask me about it, I usually just tell them I went through puberty. It's a really good way to weird people out.

But I digress. The point is that I got over myself and sang. It was strange and nerve-wracking, but people clapped and gave me compliments after the show.

Five years later, I am my own lead singer. I still have moments of feeling self-conscious about my voice, but I know that I am capable of getting on a stage and belting it out. When I was 19, I had no idea I would someday have the nerve to do that.

Why do I bring all of this up now?

Because I recently overcame another psychological block. This one has to do with that six-stringed beast known as the guitar.

When I was four years old, my dad gave me an acoustic guitar for Christmas in hopes that I would grow up learning to play it and become some awesome folk singer chick. And I had lots of fun laying it on it's side and getting picks stuck in it. But every time I tried to learn how to actually play the thing, I would get frustrated because it was difficult and hurt my fingers.

So I accepted the fact that I was not meant to play guitar and embraced the piano. It all made sense throughout college, when "Good Quail Hunting" evolved into "Original Sound Trash" and there was always somebody there to add guitar sounds to my keyboard melodies. When the band officially broke up in February, I found myself on a mission to find other guitar players. Whenever a new acquaintance even just briefly mentioned owning a guitar, I would go into interview mode until I knew whether or not I wanted to initiate a jam session.*

I felt musically naked without a guitar player.** The sound I've always envisioned for my songs is bigger than just a girl with a keyboard. As many of you know, I've been working with a few different guitarists on getting some recordings done. And though the songs are turning out (mostly) how I wanted them, the process has been an absolute nightmare.

I wrote a little bit about this in an earlier post. One guy has strung me along for months. Another one is just no good at sending emails. And the other guy has a history of being really creepy towards women (of course, I didn't find out about this until I was halfway through the recording process with him...yikes***).

There was a point where a weird little light bulb went off in my head. "I should just learn how to play the damn guitar so I don't have to deal with this crap," I thought.

A couple days later, I had retrieved my guitar from my parents' house and was learning the chords to an ancient punk song with The Poet. Keep in mind that this guitar is about 20 years old at this point. I've dubbed it Old Crusty. It goes out of tune every five minutes. I still managed to figure out how to play "Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric on it.

I have to admit, I felt bad ass.

I even borrowed The Poet's guitar (which is significantly less ancient and actually has a strap) and paraded around town with it in the name of my new music video.

Keepin it classy in front of this sketchy building

Naturally, this is a promo for my upcoming laundromat tour of 2012

I got some really good footage too, though I'm still a little bitter about that thing that happened at the laundromat that day.

Laundromat security was not a fan of #occupymusicvideo

But let's not get too political.

It quickly became apparent that if I was really going to learn to play the guitar, I needed one that would stay in tune. I also needed one that I was excited to play - maybe even one worthy of a name cooler than "Old Crusty."

So I went to pawn shops. I haunted music stores in Southeast Portland. I pretended that I knew more than the two chords involved in that Wreckless Eric song and I tested out fun electric guitars, trying very hard to ignore the dudes there that actually knew how to play. There was a hot pink guitar that caught my eye, but I decided to wait. Logically, I knew I shouldn't be buying a guitar when there's rent to pay, but that didn't stop me from doing my research.

I kept a close eye on Craigslist. Lots of cheap, Walmart-style black and white guitars that were probably Christmas presents for bratty teenage boys at some point in time. Lots of expensive, fancy guitars that people are now trying to trade for cash because the economy is terrible. I was about to abandon my Craigslist efforts when I saw it.

My guitar.

I emailed back and forth with the guy about pricing, then stared at the numbers in my bank account until I could justify making this investment. The price was right, so I came to the conclusion that buying a functional guitar was a very practical career move and was possibly more important than buying food. I conned The Poet into coming along with me (didn't take much conning - he's been a very enthusiastic supporter of my guitar hunt) and we rode off into the night to look at this guitar.

The place was a little bit hard to find, but when we finally found it and knocked on the door, a black guy with dreadlocks answered. He was wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, which I noted as significant because it was Jimi Hendrix's birthday. The whole interaction was normal enough - he told me the history of the guitar, I tried it out, The Poet assured me that it was indeed a bad ass guitar, the guy offered to throw in a lot of accessories, I announced I would take the guitar.

"I hope to see you play that live someday," Dreadlocks Guy said as he showed us the door.

The door closed and I felt excited, musically liberated, and a little bit rebellious.

You better believe I played Wreckless Eric until my fingers were sore.

Photo taken while jamming out to Wreckless Eric with other beginning guitar players
And then I learned another chord so I could play "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones.

And then I learned another chord so I could play "Sorrow" by David Bowie.

Soon, I was noodling around and coming up with my own little songs. And when my neighbors saw me in the kitchen later, they commented that I was sounding good. This blew me away. I was sure everyone in the building was sick of my guitar playing, or at least Wreckless Eric. They were probably just being polite - except that no one here is that polite.

I know that everyone and their dog plays the guitar and that in reality it's probably not very hard. I also know that I'm still at a very basic, embarrassingly elementary level on this instrument. But I still feel accomplished. I feel as though I can and will learn to play this thing. I'm not expecting to become some sort of guitar goddess, but I do feel as though I can get to the point where I can play my own songs if I keep practicing everyday.

Mostly I'm just determined to make this rock and roll dream happen. And I want to be done getting hung up on ideas like "I can't sing" or "I can't play guitar."

And with that, I shall end this extremely wordy post.

Except I think that I should mention that I named my guitar Jimi.

And now that I think about it, I can't think of any white girls that play black guitars...


Peace and love! Until next time, amigos.**** <3

* I usually did not want to initiate a jam session - way too many guitar players in Portland are into experimental noise rock.
**I was also just mad that my stupid band had to break up, but that's irrelevant.

***Don't worry, Mom, I had a body guard.
****I promise I won't be so long-winded next time!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh No!

Something terrible has happened.

I've let my blog become boring.

I'm sure you guys have noticed. Once upon a time, this blog was devoted to hilarious, unfiltered tales of life in a wacky artist's colony and was updated at least twice a week. It was something I loved to write and would spend hours typing away in the middle of the night, immortalizing the world around me into a strange and beautiful comedy. And slowly, something began to happen...

People began to read the things I was writing about. I was astonished. After years of pouring my thoughts into unknown LiveJournal accounts, I finally had a blog that people were reading! There were a bunch of cute little avatar faces lined up in rows under the word "Followers." I got comments from people I had never met in real life. It was the coolest.

But there was an uncomfortable side to this new-found blog personality: People I knew in real life were reading it. At first it was okay - it was just a few family members and a couple of old friends from college who would read it to keep track of me. But The Internet is a very public place, and soon word spread of my blog. Once I met a friend's new girlfriend for the first time and the first thing she said to me was "I've read your blog!" I can't really explain why, but I kinda wanted to punch her.*

As more people from my real life began reading my blog, I found myself having to answer to text messages and emails regarding the things I was posting about. No, that rant I wrote about boys was not directed at you. No, I don't really have a new hipster boyfriend - that was a joke. I'm sorry for making fun of anyone who has a corporate job. AND PLEASE STOP ASKING ME HOW I AFFORD TO LIVE.**

The feeling of excitement that I associated with my blog slowly diminished as the fear of offending someone or revealing too much about my life crept in. I even thought about shutting it down a couple of times, but decided that I should continue to write about my artist community experience in a way that was respectful to the characters involved. I felt good about this decision because most people in the artist community were oblivious to my blog-life and the elite few that knew about lauren vs. reality understood that it was not their place to read it.

And so I drudged onward. But as more and more people of the three-dimensional variety found my blog, I automatically installed more and more filters on my writing. Because so-and-so will read it, and they'll have something to say about it. Blah blah blah.

It's silly, but I've allowed all of this to crush my creativity.

And I've let my blog become boring. I assure you that my life has been as interesting as ever. I've got a back-log of material. It involves clowns, aliens, birthdays, boys, Vietnamese karaoke bars, fur coats, and a musical interlude at a laundromat - and I haven't shared any of it with you because I've been too busy worrying about who is reading my blog and what people are thinking of me based on what they read on this blog.

I'm sorry if this is all more melodramatic than the voice-over narration on a Lady Gaga video, but it's all true. And it boils down to this one conclusion, this one epiphany that I've had and this one commitment that I'm going to make:

I'm done letting this blog be boring.

I'm going to write about the world as I see it. And if you don't like it, you don't have to read it.

This might prove to be crazy, but I'm going to try to blog every day for the month of December. You know, to get myself back into the swing of things, and to make up for October and November.

Anyway, I think I owe everyone who is still reading this a big thanks for putting up with Lauren's Season Of Boredom. Thanks for sticking around.

That's all I've got for tonight. Peace and love.

Also... see you tomorrow. :)

*I also just didn't want her to be dating my friend, so that may have added to the punching impulse.
**Though I'm sure I would be asked this regardless of my blog presence.