a moving day

14 12 2009

I’ve been doing a lot of looking over my shoulder these days.  Moving always does that to me.  This one wasn’t my move but one I fully participated in.  The experience always has me thinking back over the 22 some odd moves the Dr. and I have made…some before Best Boy and Shop Girl were around – but most after.

I was about the age Shop Girl is right now when after 5 moves in less than 5 years I got a taste of a big move.  It was time to pack up our things for our overseas adventure in Spain.  Best Boy was two and a few months – Shop Girl a hearty 7 months old when a semi-truck pulled up to the front door to haul away the air freight shipment I had prepared.  Each box had to be weighed, measured, a bill of lading prepared in triplicate, customs paper work and off it went.  That sentence actually took me months to do and seconds to write.  I remember standing behind a screen door with tears running down my face from exhaustion and fear of a new life I knew nothing about – trying to explain to the 2 year old where all his toys had gone.

That was only the beginning.  I know a thing or two about packing.  The next handful of places never lasted more than 4 years and some as short as 3 months.  I could pack for a week or a month or a year at the drop of a hat.  A dozen years after that first trip over the pond, I watched as the things most precious to us were loaded into a 12 foot sea-worthy container headed back to the States with Spain at our backs.

Not one of them has been pretty.  Some I’ve been glad to move on and leave the particular space with a whole hearted “good riddance” – others with fond tears flowing but none without a good bit of trauma.  Everytime your life is dragged out of the dark cupboards and closets, basements and out from under beds it is traumatic.  To touch everything you own and visually and mentally assess it as it gets prepared for its new place is exhausting.

Shop Girl’s experience last week was no different…except maybe adding the stress of adjusting to less sleep than she’s ever had in her life as the mom of a month old baby and continuing to deal with the whack job of a landlord that started this whole mess. It was no wonder that in a brief pause between truck loads, with no one else around but me and Donny Diva – she collapsed into wrenching sobs when she looked at the chaos starting to take shape as a livingroom and she said, “I’m home!”

I knew what she meant.  She gets to start where it took me forty years to get to.  She gets to give Donny Diva a bedroom to call his own.  She won’t be playing Goldilocks like I did for most of my life.

It wasn’t a pretty move – a smooth move – an organized move.  One small U-haul truck, a handful of able bodied friends and family, the sunshine of a Saturday post-blizzard, the job got done…moving all the personal belongings of a new family from one rented space to their own 6 blocks away.  She has a long winter ahead to organize closets and decide where things should best go.

I wish that all this first-hand experience would have taught me to travel lightly through life.  I fear it hasn’t but I also detect a change.  I’m no longer responsible for Best Boy and Shop Girl’s things.  What is left in the basement will get offered then tossed.  They haven’t asked for it in 10 years – they probably don’t care.  But up until now – I didn’t feel like I had the right to throw away their past – the bits and pieces of the places we’ve lived.  We can’t drive by those apartments, tiny houses  and condos, the place where they planted a tree in the yard, point a finger to remember those days so I chose to drag some pieces with us.  I’m not sorry I did…I’m just ready to move on.

If I have learned anything from this last year of sorting through Billy’s life – it is that disorganization leads to waste…I buy another doo-hickey when I can’t find the one I think I have. In my effort to hold on to things that SOMEONE might need SOMETIME – others could be getting benefit from it now if I’d just get it packed into the car and drive to the closest donation drop box.

Oh, and Shop Girl…I’ll drop off your boxed wedding dress tomorrow.

For good visuals of how I’d like to live from now on..check out Shop Girl’s producer/musician friend Evan Slamka’s video with Marjorie Fair’s Empty Room and then be a good Do-Bee and donate a box of junk you keep dragging around.


even in the rain…

3 06 2009

coreyyardI saw lightening this afternoon and heard thunder.  It’s pouring.  In the last two days I’ve seen more hummingbirds than sparrows.

dirtyguitarLast night, or was it this morning, Evan laid down some killer dirty guitar tracks…think Pulp Fiction.  They say things like that and know what it means.


It helps to have a guitar player / producer / keyboardist / vocalist who has tour tags from opening with the likes of Sheryl Crow and John Mayer helping you out.

micIt’s not about razmataz…it is about ears that hear.  It’s about making audio polaroids that capture just the right mood.  Translating melodies that roll around in her head – making them real…fully clothed and in all their splendor one layer at a time.

oooohstairJust as the homeless that line the streets outside are settling in for another night on their extra firm mattresses…you mic the concrete stairwell knowing that the echo will really echo and not be contrived.

lanight2So for all its flaws, all its raw scars, its sirens, urine and stench…there is a incessant low rumbling hum in LA.  It is energy – a creative energy – like in few places on the planet.  Fourteen hours after we got started, we stumbled out into the darkness and found our way to soft beds…feeling a tad guilty the whole time.


28 05 2009

IMG_2528 1I think that someday I’ll need to write a book.  Being a parent with two offspring in the entertainment industry can be one exciting ride.  It has taken me to many places I never thought I’d go and taught me a million things about the particulars of recording studios and movie sets that I never thought I’d know.  And frankly, I can never get enough of it.

This Sunday, well before the sun is up Shop Girl and I will be on our way to LA where she has studio time booked for 10 days of laying down some new music.  She comes alive in the studio but it has been a long road since her first experience back in 1999.  Yes, chapters could be written and I’m not going to go there now.

On Monday we heard the sad news of the death of Jay Bennett.  In our personal opinions – he WAS Wilco.  In the early Spring of 2003, Shop Girl’s first EP was recorded at the Pieholden Studios in Chicago with Jay Bennett as her producer / engineer.  Best Boy’s wonderkin multi-instrumentalist roomate back then was David Vandervelde.  When Jay got to know David during those work days that started at 1 p.m. and went till 6 a.m. the next morning – something magical happened.

I think Jay saw in David his own particular brand of musical genius and a deep friendship / musical mentoring was born.  We were able to stand at a distance and be amazed at the things that were created in the Pieholden Studio at David’s hand over the next number of years until he was signed to a Secretly Canadian.

Just wanted to take a minute before these next few days get incredibly busy to say sometimes the scariest risks we take in our lives can be the richest.  If you ever have to drop your barely 20 year old daughter off at a warehouse in Chicago and enter through a dark passageway lined with filthy discarded mattresses, take a deep breath and walk through the darkness.  Leaving her there as the only female with a half a dozen guys was another little adventure in faith.  And from that beginning has come a lot of great music.

I woke at 3:30 a.m. today.  Thinking about this journey, thinking about Jay and the funeral that will probably be this week sometime…and wondering about the fun Shop Girl is about to have with good friends in LA.  This time around her producer will be Evan Slamka from Marjorie Fair.  And I’ll leave you with Evan singing  Empty Room…”but if I die young, fill my empty room with the sun.”  Shop Girl will try to do just that for you, Jay.