January 28, 2012

Finding my happy place....

"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the economy, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny." - Albert Ellis

"Most barriers to your success are man-made. And most often, you're the man who made them." - Frank Tyger

"One man's creativity is another man's brain damage." - Roland Fischer

"Imagination and fiction make up about three-quarters of our real life." - Simone Weil

"Live on the abnormal and unheard of... sing the anguish of ultimate grief and discover the cavalries of the earth, arrive at the tragic by way of what is mysterious." - Santiago Rusinol

These are just a few of my favorite quotations that now decorate and pretty much define my newly made happy place. I'm not going to post all the pics on the blog, because we'd have more pics than blog, but anyone who would like to go over and see the album on FB can do so here. I hope I've got the settings right to have made it publicly available.

Back at our old house three years ago shortly before we moved, I created what I was calling my "creativity corner", which back in the day consisted of a card table in a corner with some random stuff pasted to the walls around it. Then we moved, I became employed (yes, in that order), and creativity of any kind sort of got lost in the shuffle, much less the making of a space for it. I sort of pasted a lot of that same random junk on the wall by the computer downstairs, but that was as far as I ever got. Strange, because most of my creativity happens in my bedroom, and it happens after dark. Apparently I cannot create in the daylight. I sort of discovered accidentally last year that lava lamps and purple chili pepper lights, for whatever reason, put me in a creative happy place. I discovered accidentally a few weeks ago that blacklight doubles this effect, especially when I'm surrounded by an awful lot of stuff that glows in blacklight. Also, for years now, I have had a file on my SD card titled "quotebag", in which I keep track of all the little quotes I stumble upon on the internets that make me happy.

The coalescing of all these events has finally culminated in the creation of my new Happy Place... the place where hopefully I'll finally get some songs written and go about doing this thing I've recently decided I'll never forgive myself if I don't at least try to do. There are an awful lot of band things in my Happy Place (not nearly enough pics of Shaun Morgan yet, but I'm working on that.) That much I expected. I was not expecting so many skulls to show up, but they did. I guess skulls just make me happy... especially the decorated Mexican ones. (Brings back fond memories of catrina-hunting in Metepec, maybe, I dunno.) The quotes on blacklight-reactive post-its were a stroke of genius, however.... proof that the magic of the Happy Place is in effect. Also I've noticed that I'm blogging more since I started pulling the bits of the happy place together, which is either a sign that the creative juices are starting to flow again or a sign that I like boring my literally ones of readers with the minutiae of my attempts to grow out of the box I used to put myself in.

Either way, you're stuck with me. I'm not going away. In fact, I'm probably only going to get louder as this thing progresses. I've finally found my voice, and I'm about to start using it. So stand back.... *evil laugh*

Song o' the Day: "Trip the Darkness" by Lacuna Coil. I do not know why, but this song just makes me happy at this point in my life. (Not as happy that the white Cristina in the vid looks like Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord, but you can't have everything I guess.) Follow me, follow me, as I trip the darkness one more time....

January 26, 2012

The Creative Process....

(Sweet Sacrifice - Evanescence) (I should probably note that there will be a lot of female artists floating around on this blog today, because I'm listening to a playlist on my iPod rather than iTunes proper on my computer.) (Swimming Home - Evanescence)

Well, it's certainly been an eventful couple of weeks in my life! Perhaps this is just me overly romanticizing my life again, but I have this weird sense that last Saturday was sort of a turning point in my existence.

In the wake of my successful (in my view, though I didn't actually get in the band) audition last week, I had another browse of Craigslist. I made contact with a guy in Oregon City who composes his own stuff, tracks his own demos, and is looking for a female vocalist to sing for his demos and maybe join the band if it works out well. (What You Want - Evanescence) He sent me six mp3 files of rough demos he's cooked up for me to play with. And by "play with" I mean "listen to repeatedly and try to write lyrics and melodies for".

Surprisingly, this task does not seem as daunting to me as it probably should. (What I See - Lacuna Coil.... I'm getting distracted by LOTS of shiny things right now) It's a challenge, yes, but it's so far been a fun one. So I thought I would share with you all the tactics I've decided to use for this project, plus my own semi-whacked maunderings, and if anyone who reads this has ever done anything similar before they should feel free to leave a comment advising me on my technique.

So, what does someone with no professional experience in music do when presented with the task of composing lyrics and melodies to six heavy metal tracks? Well, first I put my kid to bed. Then I go into my bedroom, turn on the lava lamp, the black light, and the purple chili pepper lights, and I grab the good headphones (the purple Skullcandy ones that are the most expensive pair of headphones I have ever owned), the laptop, a bottle of water, and the official notebook designated to be the repository of any and all song/band-related ideas from here on out until it has no more pages. (Since You've Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson)

These items gathered, I migrate to the desk and establish base camp there. Headphones are plugged into the laptop, pen and notebook are laid out beside the laptop, bottle of water within easy reach (not because of singing, but because water is the beverage of champions), and the six mp3s are downloaded into a single folder on the desktop for convenience.

The first song to be listened to has been determined randomly by a system we call "the order the computer put them in, which is not alphabetical".  (Dolphin - Poe) First listen through, I don't think about it too much... I just listen and sort of get a feel for the rhythm and tone of the song. The correct position for this is eyes closed, elbows on the desk, hands over the earpieces of the headphones making sure no extra noise gets in. For the second listen through, I pick up the pen. I listen once again with eyes closed, but if I have a sudden flash of insight I open my eyes and scribble it down.

This is the bit where it's gonna sound like I'm on crack, but I swear I'm sober. Tired, but sober. Anyway, by the second listening, I start to hear words. No joke. Just fragmented sentences here and there, but generally sticking to a theme. I jot all of these down, even if I'm not going to end up using all of them (or any of them!) (Choking the Cherry - Poe) The third listen through I do pretty much the same thing, and usually by the end of it I at least have an idea of a melody in my head. I have been told that the guy writing all this music would like to have melodic female vocals combined with male screaming/growling (a combination I happen to like), and occasionally I even think of some good parts for the guy and jot those down too. I'll listen to the song a fourth time to see if I get anything I missed, but that's about it.

See, this guy (who is called Paul) has just asked me to pick one or two of the six songs that I want to play with and develop those two, then he can judge for himself if he likes the directions my mind wanders in. (Sorrow - Flyleaf) The titles he has assigned the mp3 files, he says, are only identifying titles he knows the songs by and not necessarily the final title of the song or at all indicative of what he thinks the song is about. So mostly I'm to ignore those, though some of them would make good band names... lol. I think probably that's indicative that we would at least jive creatively, since I like his completely fake song titles and think they might make good band names.

(Fly Away - Poe) I have so far only been through this much of the process with four of the six songs, and of those four I have a clear favorite and another that I will consider if I end up not liking the two I haven't listened to yet. My idea is, once I have narrowed down which two I want to work with, I will take my quick impression notes for those two songs and try to develop them into full lyrics for the song. If and when I get that far, I'll make a seriously low-quality recording (possibly on my phone, but maybe with my computer) of myself singing my lyrics and melody along with the rough demo he sent me. This I shall submit for his approval, and if he likes it I presume the next step would be to get together and record some better quality demos and start getting the band together. This, at least, is my understanding.

(I'm Not an Angel - Halestorm) So anyway, I'm enjoying having the creative freedom to pretty much give these songs whatever treatment I want. I'm feeling all Lacuna Coil up in here, and I Like It (to borrow the title of a Lacuna Coil song). And just for fun and games, I took a nice little picture of my workspace this evening and I thought I'd add it to the blog to give it that homey feel....

Oh, and Wide Awake by Lacuna Coil came on the iPod while I was fiddling about pulling the picture off of Facebook to stick on the blog. Perhaps this is fitting, given my current state of wakefulness at a time at which I should reasonably be sleeping rather than blogging or lyricizing (which may not actually have been a word, but it is now!)

Speaking of things that just came on my iPod, I didn't even know there was such thing as Italian Reggae until I discovered Radici nel Cemento because one of my  Italian friends posted the song Bella Ciccia on their Facebook wall. Once you get over the absurdity of Italian Reggae as an extant genre, it's kinda catchy... lol.

Song o' the Day: "Swimming Home" by Evanescence, because I was singing it in the shower earlier after Zumba. My neighbors will probably be really glad when I finally move out... lol. I'd link you to a place to see/hear this one, but I'm feeling lazy. YouTube it yourself. You won't find a vid because there isn't one, but no doubt some fanboy/girl has uploaded the song to YouTube along with a montage of stunning photos of Amy Lee.

For the record, Cristina Scabbia is hotter. And generally more likeable as a person, from what I can tell. ;-)

January 22, 2012

So I'm not in a band... but who cares?! :-)

Though I was not notified directly (at least not as of the time of this writing), it would seem that the band I auditioned for yesterday has decided to go a different direction. I ascertained this from the guitarist's Facebook posting referring to the new vocalist as "him" and then checked my anatomy and determined I was out of the running.

Hardly surprising... rock is still a man's world, but we're making headway!

However, I feel the need to elaborate a bit on some of the positive things that came out of this experience, lest people think I'm going to sit around and cry now. No, I'm not crying. I haven't cried. I'm not going to cry. I think that covers all my verb tenses.

See, here's the thing... yesterday, I did something I've always wanted to do but only dreamed of doing. Cross one off the bucket list. And you know why I never did it before? Because the idea scared the crap out of me, that's why. I'm totally comfortable singing in cars, showers, my own house, etc., but going and singing in front of complete strangers knowing that they're judging me every second? Heck naw, bro! But I did it anyway and you know what? It was amazing. It was fun (after the first few moments of terror), I met some cool people, and perhaps more importantly I learned that I can do stuff I didn't think I could do. Seriously, I pretty much feel like I could take the world on now... so what if a bunch of musicians picked a dude instead of me?! I learned that I can overcome the fear and self-consciousness and do instead of just dream, and I think that's a pretty valuable lesson, TVYM. Well worth the two hours I spent on the audition process.

In that spirit, I've done two things today... I set for myself a rather lofty goal which I shall perhaps detail in another post, and also I e-mailed another musician off of Craigslist. This one was specifically looking for a female, according to the ad, so already I have one of the major qualifications. Go me!

I shall take the advice "Tall Chris" gave me, and not stop doing what I'm doing. Because for the first time in a long time, I was excited about something and it was very cool. I guess you could say I had a little taste and it hooked me... I'll definitely be back for more.

Oh, and those guys have my number for when the guy they picked flakes out on them... lol. And until then....

Song o' the Day: "So What" by Pink. (I refuse to put an exclamation mark in her name. That's just stupid. Sort of like Ke-dollarsign-ha, which is how I prefer to pronounce "Ke$ha" out loud. Pee-exclamationpoint-nk is just too cumbersome, though.) I really recommend watching the video because it's funny and I like the overall snarky tone of the song, though I mostly picked it for the chorus. Those too cowardly to watch the video can read the chorus lyrics below. Those brave enough can click the song title for a link to the vid.
So what? I'm still a rockstar!
I've got my rock moves
And I don't need you
And guess what? I'm having more fun
And now that we're done
I'm gonna show you tonight
I'm all right, I'm just fine
And you're a tool, so 
So what? I am a rockstar!
I've got my rock moves
And I don't want you tonight

January 21, 2012


Too excited! Can't sleep! Gonna blog and then go dye my hair (again) instead! (Lost in Paradise - Evanescence).*

Yeah, anyway, our story begins about a month ago. I was bored one night right around this same time (9:20) (Diamond Eyes (Boom Lay Boom) - Shinedown). So I got on Craigslist. This is because I think Craigslist is a cesspool of humanity and it amuses me to see some of the lame that goes on there. I checked out the "musicians" community where bands that need members put ads and members that need bands put ads. Because generally the musician types make some pretty funny posts. I saw one there that said "MOLALLA" and suddenly I was intrigued. Because I happen to live there. I read the ad and liked most of the influences listed, so just on a whim, I e-mailed the guy, who was the guitarist, and asked if they were opposed to the idea of a female vocalist. Because some macho rock bands just don't want chicks up in their business, that's why. I then got off of Craigslist, because if I start replying to things I know I'm really bored and need to go get a life. Total time on Craigslist: about 5 minutes.

Much to my surprise, the dude e-mails me back less than twenty minutes later and says no, they're pretty open-minded and they don't mind the idea of a female singer, so did I want to audition? (Give it Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers) After a momentary fit of "they weren't actually supposed to respond!" panic, I thought, "Well why not?! I've been dreaming about being in a band for years... why not audition?" So I emailed him back and said sure, and he almost immediately gave me a date and time: January 21st at 2:00.

I decided almost immediately what song I would like to do at the audition, then promptly forgot all about it for nearly a month. I did not start thinking about it again until yesterday. And even then, I didn't get nervous. I was like, "Yeah, I'm gonna go sing a song." I was fine in English class this morning. I was fine when I got home from English class this morning. The nerves hit when I got in my car for the less-than-ten-minute drive to the audition. Fine timing, that! (Zithande - Freshlyground) I sang my song in the car and told myself that I was just going to fake confidence and go in and do my thing, and whatever happened would be okay.

I got out of the car and went toward the house and was greeted by the bass player. I later learned that he is called "Tall Chris", "Bass-player Chris", (the guitarist is also named Chris) or "Long-legged Freak". Chris the guitarist is "Bald Chris" or "Short Chris" or "Chris Dawg". Not only was I on time for my audition, but I was actually five minutes early. The drummer (who is not named Chris) was not there yet. In the end, in fact, he was over half an hour late. (Insert joke about unreliability of drummers here.) (Natural Life - Breaking Benjamin) This gave me time to talk with Chris and Chris, and Bald Chris and I discovered that we actually went to school together briefly during my sophomore year, and we have had a friend in common since that time. I pretty much clicked with them right away, so by the time the non-Chris drummer got there I was feeling much more comfortable. Right until the point where we got down to business about 3 o'clock.

They had a card table set up in the practice space, and the three of them sat at the table with spiral notebooks, ready to take notes on my performance. And suddenly the nerves hit again, because it was on. (I Am Not Your Gameboy - Freezepop) Three guys I just met are sitting at a table with notebooks and pens, staring at me, waiting for me to start singing so they can write down notes/critiques on my performance. Yikes.

The song I picked to sing for the audition was "Make Me Wanna Die" by The Pretty Reckless. (Click the song title if you wanna hear it... I put in a link.) None of them had heard of that band, and all of them liked it. Score points for me! Anyway, I just tried to pretend I was in my car and nobody was listening, and that was how I got through the first verse. Right around the first chorus, I realized that the acoustics in the practice room were awesome. I was really enjoying the way my voice was bouncing off the walls, and I started having fun and playing with it, seeing what I could make the noise do. Nerves gone. (I Wanna Talk About Me - Toby Keith) As always, though, the song got over just when I was really getting into it... curse these short songs anyway! (And I just want to mention, I killed on the high note at the end... better tone than I've ever done, I think. Basically I knocked the audition out of the park.)

When I was done I noticed they were all looking at me kind of surprised-like, then Bald Chris said, "Wow... that was really good." The other two quickly agreed, and I sat down at the table and they asked me some questions about the style of music I like and what experience I have (next to none), and we made chit-chat for a few minutes, then Tall Chris said, "Let me just say something... Even if we decide to go with someone else, don't stop doing what you're doing. Find another band or start your own, because you've got some talent." Now that made me extra happy. Because it was the first time I'd scraped up the courage and fake-confidence to actually audition for a band (which is something I've always wanted to do... I've always dreamed of being in a band), and the guy tells me that. Insert happy face here. :-) 

(Blind - Korn) I hung out with them until about 4. Partly because the non-Chris who got there late had parked me in, but also because I was just having fun hanging. I even like Bald Chris's wife, who was also hanging around there. The guy who was supposed to audition at 3 flaked out, which made me look really good, and when Bald Chris called him he made some lame excuse about his girlfriend's car breaking down and rescheduled for tomorrow. But also I was just having fun getting to know them and talking to grown-ups (a rarity for me). They're all late-twenties to mid-thirties, all of them have at least one kid (Tall Chris has six), and they pretty much seem like mature adults. Who happen to be in a rock band that is far more successful than I knew about.

I am glad I didn't know this ahead of time, because it probably would have intimidated the heck outta me, but this is a band that won Portland's Battle of the Bands the first year they entered it. The second year they did it, they came in second place. They were offered a $20,000 contract from a small independent label, but turned it down because they figured out they would have had to pay out about $5,000 out-of-pocket for the tour and none of them had it,  and the profit they would have made from CDs and downloads was pretty negligible (lousy contract, I guess). The walls of the practice space are almost completely covered with posters from gigs they've played. They have opened for a couple of touring bands that came through Portland that are more well-known. They are the real deal. (Someone Who Cares - Three Days Grace) While I was there hanging out being parked in, Bald Chris started cleaning out a storage tub in the practice space and found a bunch of old merch and a stack of demo CDs. They gave me two of the demo CDs, a stack of band logo stickers, and a band logo T-shirt for the Chamaco (they didn't have any left in my size). It probably should be mentioned at this point that their plan is to find a new singer and basically start over fresh. They want to write new songs and find a new band name. The old one (which I won't mention here, but if you really want to know you can ask me) is to be no more, which is why they were giving away the merch. So even if I don't get into the band, I didn't walk away empty-handed... I got some pretty cool souvenirs. Not bad for my first audition! (The Big Issue - Chumbawamba) Definitely it has given me the courage to try it again sometime if I don't get into this band (which I hope I do).

Anyway, they have I think 3 auditions scheduled for tomorrow, the last of which is at 5, I believe, and then they plan to make a decision immediately. I could very realistically know one way or the other by 7 or 8 p.m. tomorrow. And I say again - AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! As much as I told myself I was just going to do it and whatever the outcome was would be fine (and it is... I'm not going to cry if I don't get in, but I will be more disappointed than I initially thought I would be), I'm currently more excited than I've been about anything in quite some time and I don't know at all if I will be able to sleep tonight. (Día Especial - Shakira) 

Only adding to my general elation with the day, when I got home and went over to check the mail, my new Lacuna Coil CD, "Dark Adrenaline", which I pre-ordered, was in the mailbox. Three days BEFORE the release date! Yay for pre-ordering and fast shipping! You can't even walk into a store and buy it until the 24th! So when I got home and settled, the Chamaco and I first listened to "Dark Adrenaline" (I am in love with "Trip the Darkness") and then the demo CD the band gave me. My house has been very musical tonight... even more so than usual.

Somewhat frustrated now, because I want to sing loudly in my house and can't because I live in an apartment and it's after "quiet time" (which never stops my neighbors from singing loud, drunken karaoke, but I'm nicer than them, I guess). (Sk8er Boi - Avril Lavigne) Also the Chamaco is in bed. So I'm going to go do unspeakable things to my hair and try to find an outlet for my sudden creativity overflow. Maybe I'll try writing some lyrics down just in case... or I'll ponder potential band names. (I spit out one randomly at the audition that they all actually kind of liked.) (Sacred Lie - Disturbed) I'll have to think of something to do until I get tired enough to be sleepy. Gonna be a fun morning getting up for church tomorrow!

Thanks for reading my excited-babble!

Song o' the Day: Gonna have to repeat myself and do "Trip the Darkness" by Lacuna Coil. Check it out if you didn't already!

*If you didn't catch on to what's up with the random song titles scattered throughout the blog, I put iTunes on shuffle when I blog and type the name of each song that comes up whenever it does. So not only do you get a small taste of my musical schizophrenia, but you also get to see roughly how long it takes me to focus long enough to type a paragraph at 80+ wpm. Yes, I type that fast, so when I get about 1 song per paragraph it's because something slowed me down. Probably something shiny.

January 13, 2012

January update... welcome to 2012!

So, I remembered a few minutes ago about this thing I used to do in blogs where I would put iTunes on shuffle and just add the name of any song that came on in parentheses like this (Para tu amor - Juanes) for the duration of the entire blog. Not only does that give the reader a glimpse into the sort of diverse music I put in my ears, but also it gives you a general sense of how long it takes me to write a blog. Not because I type slow, because I certainly don't... I can type 110 wpm when I get going. Mostly just because I keep getting distracted by shiny things. And Facebook. Is Facebook shiny? I don't know.

Anyhoo, I figured I'd do some sort of catchy-uppy-thingie about how things are going since I do not blog nearly as often as I used to. (Cuando tú no estés conmigo - Flans) Something about having a life now, I guess... ha ha ha! I'll go roughly by categories.

WORK LIFE: Well, I'm working full time... 40 hours a week. Sometimes 42, like this week. (Ifa um canto pra subir - Margareth Menezes) I am also actively seeking other work, because I really do not like my job. This year I changed to a new center (same organization) because it was only a mile and a half from my house instead of 35 miles. And it was full time instead of 25 hours a week. I like the short commute and more pay, and I like the people I work with, but I dislike the job itself and I extra dislike the current state of the administration. They have become like a many-handed Hindu goddess and none of the hands have the foggiest clue what the other six or seven are doing. You could throw a query out into the ether of administration and receive back three or four very authoritative and very different replies, all from parties who insist that they are correct and the others have it wrong. (Sálvame - RBD. Why is everything coming up in Spanish or Portuguese tonight?) It was bad enough in September and October that I would have quit had I had anywhere else to go to. Since then it has improved to the point of being tolerable, but it's definitely not enjoyable. And I know people say, "It's not supposed to be fun! That's why it's called work!" To those people, I say, "Perhaps you have accepted that you have to spend the majority of your waking hours doing something you hate, but I refuse to be robbed of my joy unnecessarily." There are lots of other jobs out there, and as soon as I find one that seems like a good fit, I shall be on my way. (Misery Business - Paramore)

FAMILY LIFE: I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I feel like the Chamaco and I have a closer relationship now than we have had in previous years. I don't know if it's just that he's getting old enough and witty enough to be good conversation or if it's just that my longtime policy of openness and honesty with the child finally seems appealing now that he's getting old enough to ask questions about adult topics. In other news, the Chamaco acquired a little brother in October of 2011 (not through any doing of mine, mind you). A lot of people seem to think I should be upset about that for some reason... one person asked me, "Doesn't that just make you feel..." and then he mimed being stabbed through the heart. Answer: No, it does not. I ceased to care at all where my ex-husband chooses to put his penis several years ago when it became clear that I was not among his top choices. And personally I'm thrilled that the Chamaco finally got a brother and I did absolutely nothing! (How Do You Like Me Now? - Toby Keith) In fact, he and I were just having one of our "grown-up" conversations the other day and he asked me if I would ever have another kid. I said, "Probably not, because even if I were to get pregnant tomorrow you would still be almost 11 by the time the kid was born. That seems like kind of a large gap to me." He agreed that it was. It still boggles his mind that by the time his little brother enters kindergarten, he will be nearly 16. That kinda boggles my mind too, honestly. (So What - Pink) We even had a discussion about how I'm not one of those "career mommies" whose sole mission in life was to have children. I told him I had it figured out that when he's 18 I'll be just barely 37, and I rather liked the idea of being that young and not having young dependent children. He said he thought he understood that notion. He really is surprisingly adult for his age sometimes. (My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson)

HOBBIES: Well, I'm still a language nerd. Some things never change. I spent a large chunk of summer 2011 working on my Italian. I'm not yet fluent, but definitely conversational. My Italian is probably at the same level that my Spanish was when I first arrived in Cuernavaca in 2005. The difference is that I'm not about to go immerse myself in Italy for 6 weeks and have it be like taking both 3rd and 4th year Spanish in a month and a half. I'm giving consideration to picking up either French or Portuguese next, or I might re-learn German. I had two years of German in college and promptly forgot almost all of it. I actually work with someone who speaks German now, and it might stick if I had someone to practice on.

On to the music bit... I'm still trying to self-teach guitar when I find the time. Also I will be fulfilling a longtime dream next week by auditioning to be the vocalist in a rock band. No joke. If I actually get the gig, that would be another longtime dream fulfilled, so fingers crossed all! (When it Rains - Paramore)

While my 2011 weight loss sort of stalled out after June, I managed not to gain much of it back either and I have made sure to keep my activity levels up. I got Just Dance 2 for the Wii, and I can easily spend an hour playing that and not noticing the elapsed time. This past week I started going to Zumba classes at my new gym (the old one went out of business, which was a blessing in disguise I think) and I love it! Dancing has always been one of those things that I really liked but was too self-conscious to do publicly (sort of like being a singer), and I'm secretly glad that I seem to be shedding some insecurities as I get closer to 30. I have no idea what the steps are (I've only been to 2 classes) and I'm sure I look like an idiot, but when I mentioned to one of the other ladies in the class that I was having a hard time figuring out the steps, she said, "It doesn't matter! Just keep flopping around and have fun!" I like this attitude, and I think I'll take her advice until I figure out what's going on. (Sympathy for the Devil - Guns and Roses)

Oh, yeah, and  I'm still teaching ESL at the church on Saturday mornings, which I guess counts as a hobby since I certainly don't get paid for it! (Reasons to be Beautiful - Hole) A few months ago I started co-teaching with Kyle, and I sort of like that system in that my primary function seems to be to have ideas bounced off of me and to answer questions asked in Spanish. Oh, and read out loud the Spanish sections of the book we use. Really I don't mind that. Mostly because it gives me a good 2 hours a week in which I can pick on Kyle. ;-)

SOCIAL LIFE: Huh? What's that?

Kidding... sort of. My social life mostly consists of gripe sessions with Adrianne, Teresa and Rachael before and after work and my Friday evening hangouts with Sammich. As I mentioned in the last blog, I went on one date in 2011... a 100% increase over the amount I went on in 2010, and in fact every year previous to that. It was actually the first official date I have ever been on. That is what happens when you marry someone you met before either one of you was old enough to drive. (Monsters - Matchbook Romance) It is also what happens when, after you divorce that person, you have such a dismal opinion on humans in general that you don't even bother looking for a date for close to a decade. Encouraged by my little sister's successes with online dating, I signed up on a site in the later end of last year that resulted in one date. It didn't go horribly or anything... the dude just talked incessantly and reminded me a little too much of someone I divorced in that I couldn't get a word in edgeways. But I got Chinese food out of it and successfully killed a Sunday afternoon. (Stay and Play - Saron Gas) Oh, and then there's the part about how he lives in Montana. At the time he was a long haul truck driver and was coming in to Salem every other weekend, but he has since changed jobs and I doubt he'll be back in the area again. Just as well, I say. Anyway, just in the last couple of weeks I've started conversations with a handful of guys, so we'll see how that turns out. I've already ruled out one of them... another perk of my advancing age is that I don't worry so much about offending someone by saying out loud what will and will not work for me.

That's pretty much the summary of now. As for the future... I know I said this last year and I was kind of right but not as right as I thought I would be, but I really think the calm stability of the last few years is coming to an end. At least if I get my way! This year I actually have goals, which is a nice change. I would like to change careers ASAP, and I want to move by the end of the year (ideally ASAP after changing jobs). Now that the Chamaco is older and more self-sufficient, I think it's time for me to branch out a little bit and try some new stuff... like Zumba and auditioning for bands. And a new profession. And, knowing me, probably several new hair colors. (I'm Sorry - Flyleaf) I do not want to be one of those moms who is without purpose once her kids have moved out. Don't get me wrong, I love my son, but I also think it's natural and healthy to have other interests outside of parenthood. I'm not even sure it's healthy when people say things like, "My kids are my whole world." Because kids aren't permanent, that's why. They grow. And so should you. (Un fantasma tra noi - Lacuna Coil) Being able to do things aside from breeding and raising our offspring is what sets us apart from the animals! Diversify! Specialization is for insects.

So I will sing and dance and embarrass my son in the kitchen. I will continue to play guitar badly. I will learn how to get into trouble in as many languages as possible. I may even learn how to get myself out of trouble in a few more languages. I will continue pursuing that mystical unicorn which is a job that I like doing that pays well enough for me to live. I will hope. I will dream. I will not let the world beat the joy out of my soul. I will dance like no one is watching. I will love like I've never been hurt (one of these days). I will completely and unapologetically be myself, because I didn't get the instruction manual for being anyone else. I will mismatch my earrings if I feel like it. (Immorale - J-Ax... yay for Italian rap!) I will continue my evolution from observer to participant. I will wander in my mind and in these blogs wherever my thoughts feel like going. Oh, and at some point this year I'm going to try karaoke in English. I've only done it once before, and it was at a cantabar in Mexico. ;-)

I do not know why, but I can't shake the feeling that 2012 is going to be a pivotal year in my life. The word "crossroads" keeps coming to my mind. In the sense of arriving at a crossroads and having to decide which way to go. I also have the sense that at least one of the roads potentially leads to destruction and ruin. I just hope I know which one it is and have the sense to avoid it. (Falling Away from Me - Korn) Not that I'm psychic or anything. I could totally be wrong, but like I said... I was right about 2011... just not as right as I thought I would be. Maybe I was a year early. (Serenata Rap - Jovanotti)

Well, if you kids will excuse me, I'm off to go do my nightly revision of Craigslist's job postings and snuggle down in my bed where it's warm. Tomorrow morning I'm off once again to teach English and live the dream. At this point I'm still not sure exactly whose dream it is, but I'm working to take ownership, don't worry. But before I go...

Song o' the Day: "Trip the Darkness" by Lacuna coil. Their new album, Dark Adrenaline, comes out Jan. 24th. I have it pre-ordered... can't wait! And the video for "Trip the Darkness" is pretty cool, and reminds me of why I've always had a girl-crush on Cristina Scabbia. See/hear it here. Speaking of that, lots of my fave bands are putting out albums this year. Shinedown has one I think releasing in February, and Halestorm's will be out later in the year. Evanescence just put out a really good one a few months ago that I never got around to reviewing on the blog, but I shall have to do so soon. :-)  (Vuelve - Shakira)

The changes THREE years can bring.... (belated year-in-review for 2011)

 So, the last two years in a row I've been doing a sort of year-end contrast thing to see how things change in my life from year to year. There were some major changes in the last few years, but I'm not sure much has changed this year. Then, I haven't really looked at it yet. I copy/pasted last year's blog into this one, and I'll be adding 2011 as I go... we'll discover it together, I guess!

2008: We lived in a falling-apart house with no heat.
2009: We live in a pretty nice apartment with gas heat.
2010: We live in the same apartment as last year. Have somehow managed to keep paying the rent. Praise God!
2011: We still live in the same apartment. I have an eye toward moving before the end of the year, though, because I'm close to being able to afford to at this rate.

2008: I was unemployed. All year.
2009: I sometimes wish I worked less, but I am blessed to have a job surrounded by good, godly poeple who are passionate about what they do and make working with them so much fun.
2010: Same job situation except it has dawned on me that I really don't like teaching. Okay, so I knew that all along, but now I'm really starting to get the urge to move along... still like the people I work with, though!
2011: I now work FULL TIME for the first time since 2001. I adore the people I work with, but I like teaching less and less. Looking to move on (and when I do that apartment change thing will probably shortly follow).

2008: I did nearly all my Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree, because it was what I could afford.
2009: I did most of my Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart... moving on up!
2010: Primarily Wal-Mart again. No huge change in this department.
2011: Again, no change! What can I say? I like Wal-Mart.

2008: We got food boxes from a couple of different local organizations.
2009: An organization called to offer us a food box and I told them they could probably find someone who needed it worse than we do. After I hung up I realized what I'd just been able to say and I almost cried.
2010: Nobody even offered us a food box this year.
2011: I don't even get food stamps anymore. (Well, $16 a month, but that hardly counts, now does it?)

2008: I carried my son upstairs to his bed when he fell asleep on the couch.
2009: I can barely pick up my son, much less carry him upstairs. This only happened in the last month or two. I realized today that soon I won't be able to pick him up at all... my baby is gone. I almost cried.
2010: I can still pick up my nine-year-old boy for brief periods of time
2011: My kid turned 10 this year. I can still pick him up, but I can't carry him much of anywhere. I realize that the only reason I can pick him up is because I routinely lift up to sixty pounds of child at work. He clocks in at about 74, last I knew.

2008: My son was the sort of co-dependent that being the only child of a single mom will get you.
2009: I have an increasingly independent eight-year-old who more and more often wants to do things by himself. I told him that I was going to get Nancy's recipe for play-doh because the stuff we make at work is better than the store-bought stuff. I said this because I thought it would be something fun we could do together. He asked if he could do it by himself.
2010: My son cooked dinner a few weeks ago. I supervised him, but the only thing I actually did for him was turn the knobs on the stove, because he can't reach them yet. He's older but still short... lol.
2011: My kid can stay home by himself for increasingly long periods of time (I haven't yet pushed it past an hour and a half). He has a cell phone. As long as there is a microwave and a stocked freezer, he can feed himself indefinitely. This works out well for me going to Zumba classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

2008: I had a couple of friends, but mostly felt very lonely and isolated.
2009: I have some very good friends, some less-close-but-still-good friends, some casual acquaintances that always make me smile (hello CTG!), a pretty full social calendar, and sometimes wish desperately to just be home by myself for a few hours.
2010: All of the above, plus a couple of new friends... :-)
2011: Loads of new people in my life this year. Some of them are even male... lol.

2008: I was single.
2009: Still single... no change there. : )
2010: Despite some rumors you may have heard, still single. But I guess there were at least rumors this year. Maybe next year there will be something to them! ;-)
2011: Still single! But I did actually go on ONE date in 2011. Which is one more than in the previous eight years combined, so I guess that's progress... ha ha ha!