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Sound Waves & Spray Paint

Music. Writing. Art. And whatever the hell else I want to talk about, damn it.

Argh. F Already?

I won’t lie, guys. I have been living with a fear of barre chords. I’ve attempted to get the feel for them a few times, but there’s that part of my brain that says ‘but this is the hard shit!’ that has made me kind of shy away. I know I need to learn it, just like I know I need to learn several other things, but my modus operandi when approaching an intimidating lesson is too often ‘uh, I’ll do that later. I’m not ready for the hard things yet.’

The problem with being ‘not ready’ for the hard things ‘yet’, is that if you don’t work on them, you’ll never be ready, as I well know. But, the part of my brain that manages logic is often at odds with the part of my brain that handles motivation, so there you have it.

Still, ‘Guitar For Dummies’ isn’t pulling any punches. Fifty pages into a 300+ page book (that is to say, on chapter 4 of 19), I  find myself facing down my old nemesis once again as it introduces C family chords. There’s a part of me that’s like ‘F is the estranged member of the family, dammit’, but I’m currently buckling down and trying to work my way through it.

What I’m saying here is that I’m gonna be stuck on page 50 for a while. 🙂

In all seriousness though, it isn’t as intimidating as the last time I looked at it, which I guess is saying something. That doesn’t make it easy. As things stand I seem to be able to form the chord properly, but not maintain it long enough for it to be of much use. And, I can see how incredibly easy it should be to go from C to F – they are literally next door neighbors, but being able to see your neighbor’s barbeque over the fence is not the same as going over and saying hello, so to speak.

So, I don’t know. I guess the odds are high that I’ll be going into radio silence again for a while while I work through it, unless getting this chord down goes way better than I expect it to.

Still, it’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve opened this darn book, and I’m still using it, which, by my standards, is definitely progress.

Onward!

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Alright, let’s dust this thing off…

Both the blog, which has been used for nothing but announcements of poetry crap for a while, and my gosh darn guitar lesson books. Yeah, both need to be dusted off. As I write this, I remain absolutely terrible at maintaining the attention span necessary for book study. I used to be so good at it as a kid, but lesson books are such a snore I find myself far too easily distracted to get much out of them most of the time. That’s the fault of my brain, not the book, but facts are facts. I’m an interactive learning sort of gal, and sitting down to study always, ALWAYS feels like a chore. No matter how you dress it up, there’s a part of my brain that says ‘dammit, I’m too old for homework!’

But, I’m trying, once again, to buckle down and have cracked open ‘Guitar for Dummies’ again. I’m going to try (and probably fail gloriously) to spend a good 15-30 minutes a day with it. If I plan for 15 minutes, that just sounds so much more bearable than planning to do x # of pages, or a chapter, or whatever. 15 minutes is just 15 minutes, and if I spend more than that with it, then go me, I had an attention span for once in my life. And, if (cough-when-cough)I fail at 15 minutes a day strictly dedicated to book learning, if I at least manage to do it more days of the week than I don’t, I should still make some decent progress.

I didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but I am pretty close to it, so a lot of what I’m looking at is mostly recap. I already know the chords they’re teaching me, but there’s some value in going over it, I think, and trying to get my stubborn brain to absorb things like “chord families” and something vaguely resembling the minutest corner of basic theory.  Also, playing different patterns, because I’ve found lately my hand seems to be locked in the same rhythm and I need to do something out of the ordinary to escape the trap I’ve fallen into with that, or I’ll just be writing the same song over and over again into infinity.

And, as a result, I’ve just spent over 5 minutes playing Kumbaya, of all the dumb songs in the world. Seriously, though, I legitimately hate ‘Kumbaya’, and played it for over 5 minutes anyway. Okay, maybe I played it while singing ‘this song is so lame/yes it is’ instead of the real lyrics, but the point is in the exercise, dammit.

What I’ve found interesting, having the tiny amount of knowledge that I have, and going back to really just the barest of bare bones stuff like this, is that what little knowledge I have changes things and fills in some blanks. The book is not at upstrokes yet, but my ears and brain just somehow know that this part here should absolutely be an upstroke, because it just IS. My ears know it. My hands know it. It’s somehow obvious in a way that can’t be easily explained.

What’s also kind of neat is that, for someone who doesn’t read music at all, (I’m so fricking unfocused. I really want to learn, just…apparently not enough to actually buckle down and do it.) is that knowing how the song goes, and what my ears know, there’s a very small way in which some of the music symbols reveal themselves.  You can’t tell a lot about how the song is meant to go just by the slash marks counting out the beats, because those slash marks are not necessarily all individual strokes. But, if you know what your ears are hearing and telling your hands to play, you can tell the notes are sort of saying that.

Like, okay, I can’t tell what the notes are, in and of themselves, but my ears tell me what the count is. (In this case, it’s sort of… 1-2-3-and-4, 1-2-3.) So, from that I can look and see, ‘oh yeah, see, three notes, a pause, then two strums and the second rings out.  So, it seems like that means a big curved line between two notes means ‘let this ring out’ and a dot after a note is functionally like a period at the end of a sentence saying ‘pause here’.  I don’t know, maybe that’s wrong. If so, further reading will, theoretically, correct me, but what seems to be the case is that, while my ears can’t teach me which note goes on which line, it can sort of teach me the part of reading music that involves timing and duration, provided I use my ears and know how to count, which are two things, at least, that I can handle just fine. Playing along with additional songs will confirm or debunk what I seem to have learned tonight…provided this information sticks inside my brain long enough to do me any good.

Until next time, I have a lesson book in front of me, dammit! What’s the world coming to?

The Omnibus is here.

It’s FINALLY done. The formatting on this fricking thing fought with me every step of the way – first in print, and then again in digital. It was a demon, but I vanquished it at long last.

It would be a shame not to compile it all into an omnibus edition, anyway, considering how much of it there is all together. At the end of it all, the Omnibus weighs in at just a bit shy of 250 pages.

If you’ve been following along, you’re going to notice that I’ve done something different here and priced the e-book and print edition the same.  I haven’t done that to date, because on the chapbooks, the digitial version is so much less expensive to make that I honestly would feel kind of guilty not passing that difference along.

I’ve kind of taken the tactic to date of pricing the books so the royalty is roughly the same between print and digitial, which means the chapbooks have been cheaper. That works out on the little baby books, but on the collected edition, I found myself in the unexpected predicament of the e-book actually costing me more to produce than the print edition, and not by chump change, either.  I’m not about to make the e-book more expensive – I hate seeing that as much as anyone, but I also found myself in a position that I’m going to be eating a nice hunk of royalty on the digital edition, so couldn’t afford to price it lower than the print version. Can’t be helped.

Anyway, as I think about it, if I’m totally honest with myself, the Omnibus is mostly for my own benefit, anyway. It’s a single volume containing everything, and more compact than a pile of 11 chapbooks. Frankly, it’s just a fair deal more portable and easy to work with if I need something to tote to a reading, so pricing quandaries aside, I just plain like it. It’s going to be convenient. No flipping through multiple books to find what I’m looking for, or deciding to only do pieces from a specific chapbook because I don’t want to have to futz around with multiple editions.  It’s just a heck of a lot easier to work with should the need arise. I can even chuck a copy in the back of my car to just have on hand for whenever the need arises. It can keep my little plastic uke company.

So, there’s that. I made it for me. There, I feel much better about my pricing dilemma now.  And, I’m still glad as hell it’s finally fucking done.

Nooow, what project should I move onto next?…hmm…well, for the moment, I’ll ruminate on the possibilities. You’ll know what’s next as soon as I do.

 

New Chapbook: The Minutiae

Well, I got the second proof of the final chapbook last night, and I don’t hate the cover this time, so I hit the handy-dandy approve button and set up the e-book version.

Kitty has already claimed it.

And, with that, the epic poetry project of doom is just about done. I’m waiting on the proof copy of the Omnibus edition, but all eleven chapbooks exist now, which I have to say, is pretty liberating – just knowing I did something with it all, and they’re not just rotting in my hard drive into infinity.

Now, if I could think up something half so productive to do with my photos…

Anyway, the Minutiae looks a bit different from the other chapbooks. When you get that many tiny baby poems in one place, the formatting has to do a little more leg work. Honestly, it was kind of a pain in the butt. Maybe I should plan myself an ‘it’s finally fucking done!’ celebration of some kind once I release the Omnibus and it’s done for real. But, most likely, by then, I’ll already be neck deep in some other project.

Anyway, I should share something from the new chapbook here, so I’m just going to randomly select the first one:

Rise

Dawn waits at the window to rise
and greet the day

I lie down at night and dream in stars

there’s someone inside my head

I write his name on my heart

Like wax
we drip down
and
melt together

Generic Update – aka, look, I’m not dead after all!

I haven’t posted anything here in entirely too long, so I thought I should post an update to confirm that I haven’t died. So, here I am. I haven’t died.

Actually, I’ve been neck deep in the formatting. I wasn’t happy with the first idea for the last chapbook, so I moved on to another idea, which I liked in digital, but when the print proof arrived, I hated the cover. It went from looking vaguely like waves hitting a beach to looking like garish splashes of primary colors, because all the subtle shifting of colors got lost in the printing process. It happens, but since I wasn’t happy with the print version, I had to redesign. When I found a cover design I was mostly satisfied with, it then clashed with the aesthetic inside, so I had to rework fonts and internal cover pages so it would feel more cohesive.

In between waiting for formatting changes to go through, I got started on the Ominbus edition, so there’s a very real possibility that the last chapbook and the Omnibus Edition may be released almost simultaneously. We’ll see how it goes.

The Omnibus turned out to be a formatting nightmare. As I tried to copy and paste text, it kept pasting formatting that was not the formatting of the original document. It constantly changed my margin settings. When I tried to adjust the margins on the entire document, it said it did, but it didn’t. It invented a bunch of new page styles from the conversion, that were all (in theory) identical but (in practice) pasted as being completely and wildly different from each other. I had to find and delete them all. I had to keep re-setting page sizes and margins, fix places where this crazy margin nightmare had caused lines to break in funny places, even though the formatting on the document I was pasting from and pasting to were, supposedly, identical.

I’ve never run into so many issues copying and pasting text between two identical documents before. It was hell.

And then, when I thought I finally had everything matching, I had to figure out how to skip a page number in the middle of a document, and that was a fresh level of hell. Tutorials were vague and convoluted. Video tutorials were just as bad when they weren’t even worse. I’d managed to deduce that I needed to use 2-3 different page styles in the document, and how to do that. But, every time I tried to start a new page style, it would change all the page styles I’d previously done and I had to start from scratch. Ultimately, I was forced to create two custom page styles specific to the document, avoid 100% of all default settings, and jump through a few circus hoops to make it all work, but I did it.

Yes, there was a late night victory dance when I finally got it to behave. Why do you ask?

So, at this stage, I’m waiting on my 2nd print proof of the last chapbook, and I’m working through the digital proof on the omnibus  to find offensive line breaks and fix them. Both will probably be live in the next week or two as long as I don’t run into any other major issues, and then I can move on to my next project, whatever that may be.  Maybe, with the poetry project done and over with, I’ll be able to dig deeper into my music studies again. Or maybe some totally unrelated project will strike me and I’ll find myself neck deep in something entirely new. Who knows? All I know for sure is that I drew well over 30 artsy borders for the last chapbook and ended up hating that idea once I actually saw it outside of my brain, so didn’t use any of them.  Maybe I’ll come up with something to use them for in the next project. Only time will tell.

New Toy and Updates, because I’m too lazy to do those things in separate posts, even though I should.

I’ve been a terrible blogger again. I kind of feel like I’ve been starting pretty much every post like that recently, but it makes it no less true. I have a lot of things I should talk about, but I’ve been lazy about recording things, so I don’t. My GERD has been terrible recently, so the idea of having to sing anything to give you a rough idea of what I’m writing song-wise is honestly not appealing. Added to that, we are having an unusually cold winter here in NJ (I will never complain about 20 degree weather again…until I forget I said that next winter) and with winter allergies that get no favors from forced air heat, even the humidifier isn’t much help for my poor, abused sinuses.

Are these lame excuses? Yes, in fact, they are. And none of it explains why I completely neglected to mention chapbook #10 was released to the public on December 16th. My sinuses and stomach do not in any way get in the way of me typing or talking about that, but I didn’t do it, because I was too lazy, so, official notice Chapbook #10, ‘How to Be Beautiful’ exists in the world and can be purchased on Amazon. There, I told you about it, Internet. Belatedly, maybe, but I did it.

htbb cover small
I’m even so lazy that I’m showing you a digital image of the cover rather than taking a photo of the actual chapbook. But, dammit, at least I’m mentioning it.

I had hoped to be done with the entire poetry project by now, but it wasn’t meant to be. My first draft of the last chapbook – full of short poems, ended up not being as nice as I had hoped, so I’m re-thinking it at the moment.  Since the pieces are all so short, without a little fluff (see artsy-fartsy-ness) a print volume looks too empty, and it turns out the fluff makes the formattting stage of things, quite frankly, a huge pain in the ass. I’m undecided, but the last one may end up being a digital-only release. I’m currently still analyzing whether a print release is worth the effort required to make something that actually looks nice, so that project is in limbo while I consider my options. Still, the primary 10 chapbooks were done by the end of the year, and that’s something.

In music-related updates , well, there’s not a heck of a lot. I got several little music things for the holidays, but not anything worth posting about. Mostly the basics, strings and things, and I finally have a case for my baritone uke, which I’m told the poor clerks at my nearest Sam Ash actually had to go rummaging around in their basement to find. And, as a bonus, it can do double duty as a case for my uke-bass, if I ever get around to learning how to play the darn thing. It’s a snug fit, but it’s a fit.

I also managed to stockpile amazon and visa gift cards this holiday season, which means I was finally able to upgrade to a better microphone. I’ve been wanting to since I bought my original cheap ass mic back in…well, according to my post history, it was summer of 2016. Don’t get me wrong, that cheap little Hisonic HS308L is still hanging in there, which is way more than I expected for the nothing that I paid for it, but it was never the quality I wanted, it was just the only quality I could afford at the time. Since then I’d grabbed an Audix F55 mic on a flash sale, and that is a perfectly respectable microphone, I have no real cause to complain about it, except that I wanted a decent mic with an on/off switch, and the Audix has no switch.

Soo, I used all of my visa gift cards to buy myself amazon gift cards, and bought myself the mic that’s been sitting in my saved for later list for over a year:

2018-01-06_23.05.31
Sennheiser e835S

Now, since I waited over a year to buy this between when I originally decided on the model and now, I can’t honestly tell you why I picked this model. I just no longer remember, other than I was specifically looking for something reasonably budget-friendly (without being downright cheap. I already had cheap.), with an on/off switch.

I haven’t run in through any real testing yet. I plugged it in to make sure it was functional, but I only just got it yesterday and honestly, I’ve had a hell of a day and haven’t felt up to running anything more significant than ‘testing 1,2,3’ on it.  Still, it’s going to do the job just fine. It’s sturdy, has a nice amount of weight to it. Unlike the Audix F55, it comes with a mic clip that actually fits the mic, and the bag to stick it all in is a surprising bonus – nice material with a light foam lining and zipper, not that godawful pleather that seems to be par for the course in microphone pouches.

So, I’m content. As for the old Hisonic, it hasn’t kicked the bucket yet, and while it’s sub-par for most musical purposes, it’s still got life left, so I’m donating it to a friend who runs a comedy show rather than relegating it to the back of a drawer never to be seen or heard again.

And, I’ll try to be better about posting, and interacting with other people’s posts, and all that, but I’ve met Me, so I know that if I haven’t improved on that front by now, I probably never will.

New Chapbook: Dry Bones

The finish line on this epic chapbook project is in sight, guys. I’m working on the collection of short poems, I have the proof of the 10th chapbook on the way, and the 9th chapbook didn’t need any edits, so will be popping up on Amazon in short order. (here)

Today, I get to share something from Chapbook #9 with you:

IMAG3701
I originally had a much fancier idea for this cover, but it ended up being too busy, and in the end, you’ve got one of the simplest covers I’ve designed yet. I’m mostly happy with how it turned out, though.

And, here’s a piece from the new chapbook, since I’m actually writing a post on the lappy for once:

 The Part of You That’s Dirty

I don’t know what to do with you now.
We’ve already said all of the important things—
like how wet paper crumbles
when you touch it.
Your tissue, used and abused,
can only love the part of you that’s dirty
and nobody wants to talk about.

I’m like that.
All I see of you is seminal fluid,
and vomit,
and too much booze,
black eyes the color of overripe plums,
and a cigarette with too much ash hanging from
yellowed fingernails.

I still hope that, maybe,
I can melt under your touch one more time.

We’re all dirty, really;
it can’t be helped.

but we still try to find something worth keeping
in spite of the history that comes with it,
as if that can save us and make us clean.

2 More Chapbooks: Kaleidoscope & Dead Leaves, and other poetry stuff

I did mention I’m banging out the chapbooks with a goal of being done by year end, so two new chapbooks are going to share one post. They were released almost simultaneously due to the 2nd, miraculously, needing no edits once I got the proof. 

I’m mobile atm, so don’t have easy access to poems from these books to share with you right now. Just consider this a generic sort of update post, in that case.

So, where I am on poetry projects is thus:

1.) Chapbook #9: proof on the mail on the way to me. Provided there are no issues, will likely be released within the next week.

2.) Chapbook #10: Was up until a stupid hour of morning finalizing files and designing the cover. It’s currently processing, so I should have a first, digital proof by tomorrow.

3. Went through my odds and ends, which is all short poems. Actually only sent one of them into oblivion, and am currently toying around with an idea that might give me a full chapbook worth of baby-sized poems. This one will be, as a matter of necessity, more artsy, and I’ve been designing borders most of the afternoon to see if I can make it work.

Designing borders, btw, is a weirdly sort of zen process.

Once that is done, I am going to look into the possibility of collecting them all into an omnibus edition. I think I’ll probably be able to price and omnibus in a way that will make it more cost efficient, but I have to work through the math to see if I’m right/if the difference is significant enough to make the project worthwhile.

Once that’s all done, come New Year, I’m not sure. I’d like to really buckle down and work on more music study stuff. I haven’t touched my bass in months, for starters, and I’m still trying to conquer barre chords, but there’s really no telling with me what the next project will be.

For the immediate future, I will have two more chapbooks released in the next 2-3 weeks, and a chapbook of short, baby poems, not too long after that. What comes after that, we’ll have to wait and see.

Chapbook: We Are Only Here For Now – Available Now.

After a bit of reprieve and some time away, I am back in chapbook mode, plugging away at my goal of getting all caught up by the end of the year, and I’ve got to say guys, right now, my chances look good. I’ve just completed the sixth book, the seventh just needs a final proof, I’m waiting on a print copy of #8, and #9 is pending first proof.  #10 is still in final edits, but I will be designing the cover probably this week. And, other than having odds and ends to go through to see if there’s anything worthwhile, there are ten chapbooks in all. There might be an eleventh, depending on how much I find in my poetry odds and ends pile, but the current assumption is that there isn’t going to be enough there to fill a book. We shall see.

Today, I get to say that I have #6 all ready and rolled out. Available on Amazon. (Though, the e-book version may take a few hours to a few days. I’ve done my part, so it’s just a waiting game to see when it appears on site.)

IMAG3689
Cover of the proof copy needed minor tweaks, but actually doesn’t look as bad as I feared it might.

And, for something chosen from the new chapbook to share with you. The bare bones of this piece are a fossil, but it’s been edited so many times over the years that I can’t help but wonder how much of the original piece is even left.

Drama Queen

When it rains
even clear water becomes muddy.
I wonder what it’s like
to be one of those people
who likes to stir things up.

I can only vaguely recall
the forked tongue you used
whenever you got caught telling stories,
because, over time,
the things you hate about people grow numb
even if the lessons that you learn from them
leave a scar.

You taught me not to trust easily,
that ‘friendship’ doesn’t guarantee honesty.
So, I’ve known people half of my life
who I’m still not sure I can trust
and that’s not their fault.

In retrospect,
I can see you as you were.
I can call you a drama queen.
I can forget the color of your eyes,
and the spelling of your name,
but the lessons you etched into the marrow of me,
those don’t fade.

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