Week 42 - Handling Things 

At this point in our “2020 Original Song A Week Challenge” we are tired and craving a break.  We hit the wall earlier during the summer and pushed through.  Right about now, it’s good to have that experience in our pockets and while I don’t expect to, I do believe it is possible we will regain our enthusiasm, yet again, before the end of the year is here.  All the same we are definitely, having moments of “I don’t wanna!”  These are balanced with thoughts of “Just ten more songs to go" and "WOO HOO, we just finished song 42!!"  It's not that we don't want to continue working on new songs, it's just we have to stick to a crazy schedule to do a song a week. 

“Handling Things” is a song we wrote in 2014, after my father passed.  I was never much of an alcohol drinker but at that time, I kept finding myself grabbing a glass of wine in the evenings and thinking how nice it would be to have a glass of wine on the evenings when we were out of wine.  I started buying the big box wines, so I wouldn’t have to experience the no wine in house experience and also in an effort to make my drinking more economical.  After a while, I started noticing my natural exuberance had been replaced by apathy and my energy levels were down, as was my desire to run on my elliptical trainer, which I had previously LOVED to do.  I thought I might be depressed.  It occurred to me I was possibly on a slippery slope and I began paying attention to my thoughts and motives for wanting to drink.  What I learned from this introspection is that while it was the first time I was using alcohol to deal with uncomfortable feelings, it was not the first time I had developed a habit in an effort to deal with uncomfortable feelings.

My hope for this song is that it will be helpful at encouraging some people to get curious instead of angry and some people to get curious instead of inebriated.   If you have a dependence on alcohol or drugs I hope you will get help.   

Much love to you and yours, 
Kristina <3

Week 41 - My Heart Belongs With You 

A couple of weeks ago, Dan told me he had been working on a new song idea.  He picked up his guitar and shared what he had been noodling with and immediately, I was all in and thinking about these lyrics and this tune I had previously recorded into my tape recorder and how I believed they would work flawlessly with what he had.  The next day we reconvened, him with his guitar riffs and me with my tune and lyrics and then just like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, we threw them together for “My Heart Belongs To You”.   Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy but also it was, at least initially.  We recorded our first run through the whole song, with Dan playing and me listening so carefully, with my tune in my head and lyrics in front of me.  I was listening, anticipating and intuiting how to help them fit together and Dan was trying to play and follow me at the same time.  That first recording of the song was my favorite.  When it was time to play it again, I couldn’t figure out what I had done before, so I spent almost a day listening and then trying to phonetically write out my phrasing.  Then I tried to learn it that way.  I spent so much time on this song, more than I really should have because it was time to record and move on.  I’m glad I did because I think my part represents what I was going for, even if, my part was not as natural as I felt it came out the first time we ever recorded it.  Strange but sometimes that’s what happens.  I really love what Dan did with the song, the looping, the build and all, it was just my side of things I wished I had more time to get familiar with and in turn be able to do naturally or at least have it feel more natural. 

For the sake of the video story, I had the story of my friend’s grandparents in mind.  I had recorded them on video, back in the early 90’s, telling their story of their history for their grandchildren and generations to come.  She was pregnant in Czechoslovakia, during the Nazi occupation in World War 2.  The soldiers kept harassing her over the where about’s of her husband.  She would say bad things to the soldiers about him and how dare he just take off and flee, leaving her all alone, pregnant, fending for herself.  There may have been moments when she, herself, even really questioned this.  He had gone to find a safe place to take her and when he returned with such a place and plan to get her and their child there safely, they had to walk through waste deep snow and under threat of what might be done to them and their tiny baby girl if they were discovered.  Somehow they made it to Venezuela.  I don’t know how because I don’t speak Czech and my understanding of the language was not so great.  It was a great love story and one I will never forget.  The lyrics, “Among the many things I’ve come to know, I know, I love you so and if you remember this and trust in it, I will never let this love go.”  While my understanding of Czech was so limited, I believe he said something like that to her before he went in search of a safe place.  <3

Week 40 - So Much Wiser 

I was at a restaurant some years back and I swear, I wasn’t trying to ease drop but while I was waiting for my dining companion to come back from the restroom, I heard a conversation between two, what I assumed were young twenty somethings, at the table next to me.  Both of them were females and they made me think of a time in elementary school, when I would dress up like an adult and pretend to be one.  That is to say they were very dressed up and toting fancy purses and I felt like I had been given front row seats to some sort of theatre performance.  One of the girls was saying something like, “So I got the Botox.”  The other one was, “Oh, you got the Botox?”  “Yes, here and here.”  “Wow you look great!  I was thinking of getting the Botox.”  On and on the first went about her experience and I lost count of how many times Botox was used in their conversation.  Let me clarify, used in the sentence.  Come to think of it if she had said the word Botox for every place she received it (it was used), maybe she was much older and it just made her look like she was 18.  Which if that’s the case, I understand why her dining companion was so impressed.  Maybe her companion was actually her 18 year old granddaughter and that’s why she sounded so impressed.    

Whatever it was I witnessed, it had me talking to my friends about it.  I remembered more of the conversation at the time and it had them laughing as much as me.  These two young women came across to me, like a skit out of Saturday Night Live or something.  Funny thing, not funny ha, ha, but the other kind of funny thing, is that it also spurred some conversations about how much pressure is put on females to keep up with trends, beauty and otherwise.  Keeping up appearances is really a line in the sand for each of us and it varies just where that line is drawn.  For some that line is drawn all over their body and face, just before they go under the knife.  I understand we all want to feel comfortable in our own skin.  I just can’t help but think there might be another way.  Too many of the women I shared my luncheon story with, admitted they have looked back at pictures of themselves, from when they were younger and wondered why, at the time, they didn’t see how attractive they were.  “What I wouldn’t give to look that way now…”  But if you did look that way now, would you appreciate it or would you find another thing to obsess about that makes you less than?  Maybe not.  The biggest thing I came away with and tried to impress on those I shared this with was “Just like I can look at pictures today of me when I was young and felt less than, whatever I thought I should have been and today think, what I wouldn’t give to look like her today, I realize the day will come when I will be looking back at pictures of me from this time in my life and thinking the same.  So maybe we should just learn to appreciate the shape we’re in and trust that we are beautiful, body, mind and soul.”  <—Somehow, this realization made me think I was “So Much Wiser” than I used to be.”  Hmm?  Maybe I am or maybe I'm just throwing around the word "Wiser" the same as those young women were throwing around the word "Botox"  However you love yourself, just make sure you do!!  <3

Week 39 - Downside Of Love 

When I was a kid in Elementary School my bestie and I would stand next to each other, throw one arm around each other and recite the opening to Laverne and Shirley.  Down the halls, on the playground and down the driveway of each other’s homes.  We saw ourselves as zany, unstoppable and able to move a rubber tree plant or any obstacle that got in our way.  I think this might have a lot to do with me writing “Downside Of Love”.  One day in third grade, my bestie told me, right before lunch, that she wanted to be the new girl’s best friend.  I remember not wanting to cry and telling her that was good because I wanted to be best friend’s with another girl, who happened to still be in the classroom getting her lunch box.  About 5 minutes later I was enjoying lunch and making plans to have my friend over to my house.  It was so much easier than I first thought it would be, turns out it was just a choice to accept and move on.  I learned later in life, somethings are not as easy to accept and move on from.  The solution is always the same though, accept and move forward.     

Lucky for me, Dolly Parton had her song “Two Doors Down” and Christine Lavin had “Shopping Cart Of Love, The Play” to remind me, when I was young and my heart was broken, that I could choose to accept and move on.  I wanted to do the same for others and that’s what “Downside Of Love” is, a way to pay it forward, help push people forward, in hopes that they too say, “Maybe there ain't no downside of love.”

Week 38 - Summertime 

On this last day of summer, here is our salute to it, a song appropriately named, “Summertime”.  I believe the end of summer is leaving us with just 14 more weeks in our “2020 Original Song a Week Challenge”.  It’s been a little more challenging for the past few weeks due to my fractured foot.  However, I have been fitted with a very “stylish” boot that allows me to use the foot, while helping it in its healing process.  I’m told it should be, “Good as new in 6 weeks”.  So far, we’ve been able to hide it in the videos.  It has certainly slowed me down a bit.  Also, it has made me aware of just how much I take my foot, my feet, for granted.   

One thing you will see in this video, are the curtains we added to our stage area.  I’ve pretty much lived the life of a shut in, since the pandemic (due to health insecurities) but I ventured out to see if I could find sheer curtains.  Originally, I just liked the idea of bringing the curtains from the lyrics of the song, to life, for the video.  Then the idea of curtains took on a whole new life of their own, when we realized we could have curtains for our stage area.  I felt incredibly lucky when I found BEALLS OUTLET had 2 packages of MARLOWE STUDIO, Sheer panels, 38’”X96” with four panels in each pack, for the price of $19.99.  I was ecstatic, to go from the idea of having my little curtain blowing in the wind idea, to (If I could rationalize the cost) having the ability to complete the look of our home stage, which of course would take us further than one video prop.  I share the curtain information in case, you too, are trying to put a home stage together or if you have windows that need privacy or dressing up.   

When we were first moving to Florida, I had all sorts of music plans envisioned, including a home stage where I could do a “DARYL’S HOUSE” kind of thing, with other musicians.  Perhaps “all roads lead to Rome”…   

On this road to Rome, I’ve had so many ideas and plans that fell through, due to life obstacles and the disappointments that accompanied them.  I know what it’s like to work so hard for things you want, maybe even things you are convinced you need or deserve and find that things unravel just as you reach out to grab them.  I realize currently, a lot of people are feeling this same way about 2020, how things have turned out, changed the natural course of people’s hard work and stifled their own ability to progress and meet goals they’ve set for themselves and expected to meet.  I know about the temptation to just throw in the towel, the temptation to look for ways to numb oneself from reality and look for distractions instead of solutions and I know what isolation feels like.  As my mother lay dying, for about a month, I felt a bit like a ghost of a person, with my clothes and personal hygiene items, stuffed into a pillow case that I took with me each night as I checked into hotels, or gathered them up from the car, prior to sleeping bedside to her, on the nights I stayed with her in the hospital and hospice.  I don’t mean it to sound so bleak, there was family around during the days and phone calls with Dan at night.  But even still, there was a sad, loneliness, I couldn’t seem to shake.  Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be shook.  Perhaps it was meant to be experienced so I can grow in some way.  If nothing else, I have a better understanding of what others may be experiencing.  If you wonder why I share this last paragraph, it’s to let you know you are not alone or to let you know how the circumstances of 2020 may be affecting someone you love.  I want to encourage you to hang in there, look for the blessings in your life and where you can be a blessing to other’s. 

I am a “snowflake” a sentimental fool, who wishes it could always be summertime.  I wrote summertime, so that when I sing it, myself and others can remember it, feel it and almost reach out and grab it, in those moments when we need a little summertime in our lives. 

Week 37 - Honestly 

In the early 90’s, during a conversation with a local jazz musician that I really looked up to, they suggested I listen to a Sade song and try to play it on my keyboard.  About three chords into deciphering, I couldn’t concentrate because the chords began to give birth to another song in need of coming to life.  Maybe it was my muse or too many episodes of “Melrose Place” I had been watching at the time or maybe it was just my 20-soming mind that was angsty and dissatisfied at the cruelties people seem to impose upon each other, including those they claim to love.  Whatever the trigger was, the song came out in one piece as if it had been in my head or somewhere, a long time before I sat down to the keys.  When I was done hearing it in my head I realized it was about betrayal.  From the perspective of a detective type, who is unraveling the facts as the story unravels.  Like its name, “Honestly” it is about the honest feelings one feels over being betrayed, those feelings that hide beneath the anger, often handicapping a person as they move through life, distrustful from betrayal.  A cheating song is an easy way to address dishonesty but there are so many forms of it.  I think it is a lot harder to address other forms of dishonest betrayal in a song. "Honestly" was also a plea to the listener to consider that dishonesty is a path that is taken step by step.  A betrayal that takes place over and over again.  Maybe when one finds themselves on such a path they should simply stop in their tracks.  It's a dead end path.  Sometimes it's a “Follow the Leader” kind of path.  A "They are getting away with it and enjoying their spoils all along the way" kind of thing.  It can be hard to take the high road when the low road seems easier and more rewarding...  If we are not careful we could end up in a kleptocracy.    We already have a dishonest leader in our White House and the latest report on this was the interview 60 Minutes had with Bob Woodward last night.   Every step our country takes with him down this path he has us on, has me questioning, "Was it worth it, worth it, was it?  Honestly?"  Please consider this and please vote in the coming election.  Thank you for your time, your consideration and interest.

Week 36 - Seeing You Around 

A lot of my writing comes from stream of consciousness.  Often I don’t know what I’m writing until it is done.  Sometimes after I have written it, I still don’t understand it.  I do my best to interpret it but I wonder sometimes, am I just creatively making up what it means?  “Seeing You Around” started as a stream of consciousness.  I heard it in my head, ran to my tape recorder and recorded it.  What I missed, I consciously made up and filled in.  I had previously, like years previously,  well years and years previously, tasked my mind with the idea of creating a song that was supposed to be similar to a song called “So Tuff” from a really cheesy movie called “Tuff Turf” staring James Spader, Kim Richards and Robert Downey Jr.  Obviously, the movie and the song made an impression on me at the time, enough, that I wanted to create something similar to the song.  BUT that’s not even the silliest, cheesiest part of this songs heritage.  No, the silliest, cheesiest part, is that its heritage also comes from “Super Sugar Crisp” cereal.  Today, known as “Golden Crisp” cereal.  The tune I heard in the “Super Sugar Crisp” commercial, every Saturday morning when I was a child was in my head and served as the doorway for “Seeing You Around” to make it’s entrance from the whimsical, yet often silly or cheesy world of my mind’s own making and into this one here that we all share.  Is share the correct word?  Well, hopefully share.  If we’re not in the sharing mood today, perhaps we should all sit down to a nice mellow bowl of “Super Sugar Crisp,” with spoon in hand and work our way out from there.   It’s been said, “You can’t get enough” and look, according to the commercial, it gets rid of blobs, puts out fires and clears the air. 

So there you have it, the best story I can give you about this week’s song.  I consumed some crazy stuff as a young person, these things made a home in my head, they interacted with each other and with me and found there way back in this world in the form of a song.  My wish for this particular song is that when we are out performing it, it will serve single people as encouragement to mingle and possibly find a love connection.  <—Yes, I said it.  I know it’s cheesy but I’ve consumed a lot of cheese in my lifetime.  So occasionally cheese is going to come out ;-)  We are what we consume….

Week 35 - My Heart Still Loves You 

If someone asked me, “What is one piece of advice you have to give that you believe would benefit anyone and everyone?”  My answer would be, “Whatever you have in your life that is working for you, MAINTAIN IT!”     

I have this belief, never believe you have mastered something because in my experience, that thought is enough to stop growth and worse, a release on being consciously connected to what I have loved enough to pursue in the first place.  I don’t know how to maintain something I am no longer pursuing with passion.  It just doesn’t work for me.  Granted, when it all starts to unravel, I might take notice and jump into action but by then it could be too late and often in moments when I notice the unraveling, there are new challenges and sometimes those challenges keep me from getting back to gains I once had.  There have been moments, when I thought, I had mastered marriage.  I could say, I have mastered not thinking that I have mastered marriage but instead, I will just accept the uncertainty and trust that we will continue to maintain, as that acceptance has brought me much happiness and I guess for me, happiness weighs out over certainty.  If there is one thing that I am certain of it is this, “My Heart Still Loves You” Dan <3

Week 34 - Messing Around 

Because Dan got a new toy, “Boss RC-300 Loop Station” and just wanted to “Mess Around” with it and I just wanted to “Mess Around” with Dan, we figured this weeks song should be aptly named, “Messing Around”.   It’s a strange love triangle, appropriate for a midsummer night's dream ;-)

Week 33 - Rockin' All Night 

Here we are at week 33 and we've been "Rockin' All Night"!  At week 1, Dan and I started this “2020, Original Song A Week Challenge” with much enthusiasm and a little skepticism of how far we might get.  Along the way we have had some concerns about making our weekly goals.  We had a proud moment at week 26 and celebrated hitting the halfway mark with a high-five.  Now we find ourselves at a new goal post, just 19 songs to go.  What I did not expect at this point, was to have way more than 19 songs left that I would still like to get worked out and recorded.  Still, it feels so good to finally make good, on all the songs we have completed.   

It is a comfort to me during this time to have our goal to focus on and to be so consumed with it.  I have a history of trying to control my surroundings.  I have a proactive nature and have always been a solution seeking person.  So I have  struggled with anxiety over dysfunction and what it breeds.  It is the monster of my nightmares that seems to suck out the life forces of those I love and the world that has nurtured me, leaving me feeling depleted at times and wondering, “What is the point of these trials and tribulations?”   I feel strongly in my heart that love, patience and forgiveness of ourselves and others are probably the best tools we can pack but perhaps what has been my saving grace this year, has been music, a thing that connects us all and reminds me to be loving, patient and forgiving.  I do want to add when I am feeling anxious, I tend to look outward, I think in an attempt to lessen the blow to my own psyche and I instantly begin to think of those in less fortunate positions than myself.  I have been doing this a lot lately and of course trying to find solutions.   

I’m not good at asking for things because I was taught to be self sufficient.  I was also taught when you do ask for something it should only be that which you deserve or your ask should be for someone other than yourself.   Just the way I was brought up, brainwashed or otherwise…  But I do have an ask.  While I find myself in a more fortunate position at this time, I am aware that other local musicians in your community or your life are struggling, financially and mentally.  Please consider that they, along with the independent venues they have performed in, have been placed in a situation similar to eminent domain.  Let me explain the correlation here.  For a valid public purpose, they have given up, what should be their legal right to own, which in this case would be their businesses.  In a way their businesses have been confiscated or at the very least, it is a spoliation of their businesses. (Spoliation definition-the act of injuring especially beyond reclaim).  Now certainly, it has been for a reasonable and just cause but also certainly, they should be compensated.  They are supporting the health of those in their communities by sacrificing their livelihood and in return they should be supported.  So before I end this blog I am asking that you go to   https://www.saveourstages.com/ and sign the petition to get our government to compensate them.  For more on this, check out 1A’s radio show on the subject.   
https://the1a.org/segments/live-events-future-covid-coronavirus/ 

Thank you! 
<3