The Open Diary
A living love letter on the intimacies of music making,
tiny-space living,and inner and outer fires.
"Totally moving. Extremely powerful." - Grief Out Loud podcast
Gerry Rafferty “Home and Dry”
Gerry Rafferty “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart”
Licity Collins “Weather Gets Warm”
Ani Difranco “32 Flavors”
Rush “Time Stand Still”
Miles Davis (unknown track)
Chick Corea Piano Improvisations Vol.2
Diahann Carol “A, You’re Adorable”
Edwin McCain “I”ll Be”
The Radio Station
Thursday November 16, 2017, Ojai, CA
Now Playing: Radio Silence
My favorite LA radio station went off the air at 1pm today.
At 9 pm I began writing this diary.
...I managed to schedule my day so I was in the car and got reception when “100.3 The Sound” finally went off the air. They closed with side 2 of the Beatles’ Abbey Road on vinyl. I sang along. Tears streamed down my contorted face. I think one pedestrian crossing Main street was genuinely concerned as she spied me through the windshield. Out of the corner of my eye I could see her slow down, her eyes fixed in my direction, maybe wondering if she should do something to help. Her friends tugged her along toward whatever activity they had planned.
I pulled over into an alley.
The last DJ counted down from 10 to 1 and the sound was gone.
Death seems to be in the air. As I was driving I got a text from someone I no longer speak to (by choice) that someone I grew up with died. That was the second text like that I’ve gotten this month. A different person I no longer speak to (by choice) popped up to tell me the news that a distant but dear college friend died last month as well. I had a huge cry in my car about that too. And I burst into tears in my car a few weeks earlier when I turned on the radio and heard that Tom Petty was also lost.
Tom Petty is one of the main reasons I make music, and even remain alive. He seems so essential to my existence, I don’t really know how to let him go. I could not have made it through being 17 (and through some days of the past couple of years) without his music. Damn the Torpedoes let me know that what seemed like an endless period of torment would one day somehow actually end. Hiding the treasures of my heart from those who would destroy them, questioning if I were truly invisible, or merely a creature to be punished, feeling like I was starving, vagrant, unwanted, outcast, and alone—he let me know that this did not have to continue forever. “You don’t have to live like a refugee.” Those were his words. They became my prayer.
I harbor no illusions that Tom Petty would have become a fan of mine, but I did want to somehow get my album to him as a way of saying “Thank you.” I want so much to be able to thank him and so many others. For the rest of my life, every song I sing will be trying to do that.
The Tiny Home
Friday December 1, 2017
Now Playing: Gerry Rafferty “Home and Dry” from the album City to City
I love where I live so much. I lie in my bed and stare up at the redwood plank ceilings and think how lucky I am. I call this place my “tiny-home” because its’ the easiest way to explain it to people. It’s a 9x19 stand-alone room. It’s elevated from the ground and the front door has three steps leading up to it and a little landing which I’ve decorated with potted plants. It is a lot like the tiny houses that are all the rage, except I rent it, so I can’t claim the total self-sufficiency that comes with owning an actual tiny house and living off-grid, oh and I don’t have a sink, bathtub or shower.
Before I found this place I had a strong craving for “a room of my own.” I was living in a two bedroom cottage which felt much too large after my dog died, and for over a year I had been struggling, scraping, and sacrificing in order to afford it. That led to a secession of roommates. The last of those left me a death message when she moved out. It was a string of threats and accusations scrolled in black marker on the back of a piece of my garden art, like a hidden hex on my home. She literally wrote “Death to you.” Also she accused me of working for Satan. It was a lot.
Now that I am living in this 9x19 foot room of my own, I have a sense of clarity. And that clarity gives me so much comfort. I can see who I am and what I am here to do. When I walk in I am greeted by the first dollar I ever made from music sitting in a frame on top of the bookcase. My guitars are always within reach. I borrowed a small fridge and a two-burner hotplate. I rigged up two five-gallon containers with a hand pump to dispense drinking water. And of course, the essential old-school-turned-new-school fixture—a sawdust toilet, which is basically a series of buckets and a side basket of pine shavings used to cover the deposited goods. I’m working on a system for doing dishes. The little girl in me who imagined cars with independently moving wheels and tried to make her own chewing gum loves this stuff. My record player is wired to a set of speakers in the middle of the room which fill my home with the sound of crackling vinyl.
Friday December 1, 2017
Now Playing: Gerry Rafferty “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart” from the album City to City
My toilet seat has a crack in it. It is (well, it was) a black plastic seat that snaps (snapped) on top of a five gallon bucket and I suppose it was only designed to be used for the occasional camping trip, not for three months of continual daily use as I have so tasked it. This new homemade contraption I scored in the garage of an elderly couple who no never put it to use is a three-sided plywood box with a hinged lid with a hole in it. Think of it as a bucket box. It feels huge. It seems to take up an enormous amount of room for no real purpose. It’s a lotta toilet. It’s funny how things get into perspective when one downsizes. But it’s kind of nice actually. It’s solid, which is better than the tilting cracking plain bucket approach. The white bucket comes up to the rim of the seat and kind of mimics the look of a water toilet. Nice, but unnecessary. Why is it that when we make changes in our lives we can only do so insofar as it seems like we are not making any change at all? Must we always make the new thing look like the familiar thing we are giving up? Am I sitting on the vegan cheese of toilets? (yeah I know, tell it to my gluten-free pasta) It’s silly. I am pooping in a bucket, should I pretend I’m not? I think facing reality is better. Vegan cheese is not cheese. It’s nuts (literally, it’s usually made from nuts). Although I admit I did put the yellow gingham ruffle I made around the bucket box. You can’t do that with a flush toilet, and it’s so darn cute that way.
The MASTERING Mess
Friday December 1, 2017
Not Yet Playing: Licity Collins “Weather Gets Warm” from the album One Girl Town, Test master #12
It looked like the final stage of the process was about to be completed. But it took a serious dive. Things got complicated, people got stuck, more money is going to have to be spent, the timeline got tanked and now no release date is in sight. I had planned to be mailing CDs to the people who donated to the small crowdfunding campaigns this week but instead I am getting condescending emails from engineers who tell me I am too inexperienced to know what my own record should sound like, while their adjustments make it sound like someone singing in an aluminum can, or some kid from the late eighties blasting hip-hop out of the back of their daddy-bought Jeep Cherokee. I find myself praying that the fourth mastering engineer can hear what I hear, and deliver it. Someone has to unlock the sound I feel in my bones. She sent me two sample tracks yesterday but I haven’t had the courage to listen to them yet. With the last four mastering engineers I ran to the speakers to hear the latest as soon as I can. Now I am tired, weary, and afraid.