A Recipe, A Song & Some Whine

Jumpin’ J-Lo, I haven’t posted in an entire month.

Quite frankly, I’ve had the blues. We’ve been struggling with struggles lately. Nothing huge—just the mundane, day-to-day worries that plague the semi-poor, like home repairs, taxes, allergies, bed head and the future of humankind. Worst of all, I seem unable to write much more than the words, “I can’t write.” It’s been an awful cycle—I can’t write because I’m blue, and I’m blue because I can’t write. Blue’s one of my favorite colors, but holy hell, this isn’t even a pretty shade. My writer’s block is the color of mold. 

It’s been weird, because usually when I’m down, creativity is what brings me out of it. But these days, I’ve created little more than a new recipe.

New Recipe:

8 Ritz Crackers

1 glob of peanut butter

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

Directions: Smear peanut butter onto four of the crackers. Pour one drip of syrup onto the remaining ones. Smush each PB cracker together with a chocolate cracker and enjoy.

I have written a couple of songs, but I’m hesitant to post them because it’s hard to get the entire picture without the tune. It’s like handing you a mug and asking you to imagine coffee. Tragically, my singing usually sounds like Mercedes McCambridge with a head cold, and even if I did record it, I’d never figure out how to get the thingamajiggy into the whattayacallit to transfer it the Internet. The one song I did post here was thanks to a patient friend, who burned it to a CD.

But it bothers me that I haven’t posted for so long, so I’ll share some lyrics anyway. I’ll have to do it from memory, because I fried my laptop a few weeks ago and lost most of my work. Stories, poems, books-in-progress, photos, videos and rough recordings of songs I’d saved on Audacity–poof! Frizzled like a squirrel on a transformer. A friend of a friend is trying to perform lifesaving CPR on the motherboard—if you’re the praying sort, please commence.

Have I mentioned I’ve had the blues?

Back to songwriting. Amadeus and I have this habit of throwing out lines to each other, spontaneous prompts that we think might fit into a song. If it grabs one of us, little cogs in our heads start squeaking and turning, and sometimes we create something we like. To outsiders, conversations at our house would sound insane. Example:

Me:  I need to figure out what to make for dinner.

Amadeus: Bird on a telephone wire.

Me: Oooooh….(starts writing)

One night, he said:  “If I had to do it all again.” I waited for him to finish the sentence, then realized it was a song prompt. Immediately, my head filled with images, like a scene from a movie. I saw a sad, wealthy woman in a New York penthouse. She stood in front of a glowing fireplace and her living room was all done up in shades of red. Her sofa was a cream color, with printed pillows and a decorative throw draped in a tasteful-yet-casual way over the back. She was tall, beautiful and terribly lonely. Her jewelry and shoes were amazing. 

It’s the weird way my brain works (when my weird brain’s working). Amadeus says something that sparks something and off we go.  I picked up the guitar, plinked out the first few notes, then started writing lyrics. Amadeus fine tuned the tune and we debated back and forth over the mechanics of it. Within half an hour or so, we’d given birth to a little baby song.  It’s a downer, but I like it. We performed it at an art gallery event a few weeks ago, and I’m proud to say that no one vomited and no one fled. 

If I Had To Do It All Again

If I had to do it all again,

I’d do it differently,

If I knew how this was gonna end,

I’d never have agreed,

to put aside the part of me,

that wanted love so desperately,

‘cause even though you live with me,

you’re never really here with me,

and though I did it willingly,

this lonely life is killing me,

If I had to do it all again,

I’d do it differently.

 

Flames can turn to ember

but they’re burning just the same,

why can’t we remember

the beginning of this game?

We blazed with love, so dazed with love

at night you called my name,

our paradise has turned to ice,

what happened to the flames?

If I had to do it all again,

I’d do it differently.  

(break, repeat verse 2)

© 2013 Moonbeam McQueen

That poor, poor penthouse woman.  And I thought I had problems. 

Tales From the South!

Update: I was so excited when writing this post that I screwed up some of the links and instructions. Corrections have been made. 

 

The podcast from the radio show is available! There are several ways you can listen–here are a few:

♦ NPR: http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=106926336  

(This isn’t the easiest way to listen–in fact, you may not be able to find it there by the time you read this. I just like typing “NPR!”)

♦ Stitcher Radio: Go to www.stitcher.com or download the free app. Enter TFTS-157

♦ iTunes: Go to the iTunes store and click on “podcasts.” In the search bar, enter TFTS-157

My story’s called “About Face.”  It’s at around the 39 minute mark, but I hope you’ll listen to the entire show. It’s wonderful. I also hope you understand Southernese. The accents are as thick as kudzu.

Happy listening! 

*Amadeus came up with the title, which I love. 

Storm Clouds in Lalaland

I’ve been residing in Lalaland for many years now. It’s fabulous here–the weather’s warm, but not too warm, there’s glitter in the tree bark and no one ever has intestinal problems. The fishing is excellent. People are kind. Here, IRS stands for “I’m Reading Salinger.” Bills are the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. In Lalaland, I sit at my desk and write stories (that are sure to be best-sellers), while the laundry magically washes itself.  I sort of look like Gisele Bundchen.

But I have to admit, despite living in this zip code (which, by the way is !!!!!), I sometimes get discouraged. Writing isn’t just an occupation, it’s a lifestyle choice, one that sometimes involves isolation, frustration and a smattering of poverty. It’s okay-we’re good with it. Amadeus believes in me and I work hard to earn the honor. But sometimes it rains, even in Lalaland.

A week and a half ago, clouds began to form. I sat upstairs writing, a pursuit which I live in hope will someday increase our income. Optimism is a huge part of the Lalaland experience.

Six weeks earlier, I’d sent a story to Salon.com, and never received a confirmation or a reply. I wrote back to the editor–you know, just a “Hello how are you did you read my story do you like it will you publish it” thing. I never heard a word back, which to me, is more of a rejection than a rejection letter. Note to editors: It takes less than thirteen seconds to type “It sucks” into the body of an email.

A bit of self-loathing starting glomming onto me. What the hell am I doing? I asked myself. Why am I wasting my time? I’m a hack. I’m not making any money at this. And why is my hair so frizzy? It was the end of the month, a tough time for us financially. Thunder began to rumble in Laland. Physically, I was feeling like a baked potato–sort of lumpy, untalented and unattractive. In an unfortunate cost-cutting move, I went into the bathroom and hacked off a bunch of my hair.  It looked awful, but it took my mind off of writing for a while. After a few more hours of aimless typing, combined with three rounds of Candy Crush Saga and some moping, I went to bed.

The thing about storm clouds in Lalaland is that they move quickly. Sun rays start peeking out. I woke up the next morning, and boy, howdy, were there rays. I went downstairs, chugged some coffee and started a glorious new week. Here’s how things progressed:

Sunday: Checked my e-mail and found that one of my stories had been accepted for a regional NPR radio program! A special live, one-hour broadcast–the first in the show’s eight-year history. The producer wrote that it would be streamed around the world via satellite radio and would be podcast too. I almost tinkled from joy. Oh my gosh, you should have seen Amadeus. He was so proud.

Monday: Got a t-shirt in the mail from a musician friend of Amadeus’, along with two of his CDs. This was, I think, because I told him I love Jack Handey. That night, I had a lovely phone conversation with a blog friend in Portland, our first. It was so nice to hear her voice after so many years of typing to each other.

Tuesday: Freaked out half the day about the radio show. What would I wear? What about my hair? How could I lose ten pounds in five days? Was a face lift possible? The show was in front of a live audience, and was to be videotaped. I told Amadeus, “It’ll be fine. Surely I’ll find something in the closet that will work.” Between you and me, I was a little sad, but what could I do? As I’ve said, I chose this lifestyle, and it’s just not a hair salon, new dress type of deal.

Wednesday: Opened e-mail. Received notice of a PayPal donation from a friend/reader in New Zealand, the largest in the history of this blog. He wasn’t aware of any of the above–it was just a huge, serendipitous act of generosity. It still overwhelms me to talk about it, but you can read about it here.

Thursday: Bill paying! Shopping! Later, a friend came over with a miraculous hair straightening tool. I modeled my beautiful new copper-colored dress, and she and Amadeus oohed and aahed. Later, I went to hear my hubby make music with some other seriously talented musicians, and a drunk lady gave me her bracelet. I’ve since returned it, but it was such a nice gesture. Plus, it went with the dress.

Friday-Saturday: Insane non-stop fidgeting, worrying, stressing, but in an upbeat way. I asked Amadeus to take a pic of me in the new dress, so I could see what it’d look like on stage. I discovered I bore a striking resemblance to a Tootsie Roll. I rummaged around and finally found something I felt comfy in.*

Sunday: The Radio Show!** And another t-shirt! Followed by lovely people who told me how much they enjoyed my story! Followed by a margarita! Followed by a nap!

Monday: I was in the newspaper! Because of the above thing! I can’t stop typing exclamation points!

Tuesday: Another sweetheart of a blog friend, this one in New Hampshire, e-mailed to say that, in honor of the NPR show, he was sending me a gift–an entire mess of garlic from his garden and a new CD. It arrived today. Seeing that box of thoughtfulness sitting on the doorstep made my heart all melty. By the way, “a mess” equals fifteen bulbs.

There was so much goodness woven into the week, so many great moments. Songwriting with my hubby. The company of friends. Words of encouragement. Laughter. Little miracles here and there that let us know things are going to be okay.

The weather continues to improve. Life gets rough. Things gets tough. Then the world becomes beautiful once again. Rinse and repeat. That’s the way things work in Lalaland. I’m so fortunate, and so grateful. 

 

*It’s something I later discovered looked like a festive mumu on film, but living in Lalaland allows me to stay in denial about it until I see the video.

**I’ll post links to the podcast as soon as they become available.