Breaking Out of “Cave Syndrome” with the Help of Tommy Bahama

After over a year of isolation, writing and producing music in my home studio, I had a feeling I would find it difficult to get back to “normal” life. I’d remembered how during a time in the Bay Area in-between jobs, I found it difficult to leave Fremont to commute to San Jose. And after this past year when my world shrank even more, I would not be surprised if I struggled to go out for fun.

We’d gone to SoCal a few times for special events at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, but I kept finding reasons not to go out to a restaurant here in Las Vegas. Rich kept making reservations at Tommy Bahama, but I talked him into ordering in from various places instead.

But when I found myself sitting in the garage Friday afternoon waiting for Rich to finish his work day in his upstairs office, reading about “Cave Syndrome,” I knew it was time to take steps.

Rich made another reservation at Tommy’s and we actually went. But walking to the restaurant from the parking garage, passing strangers wearing the usual masks, I wondered if I was truly ready. Had this thing changed me forever, leaving me in a mental haze where all of life seems a bit dim?

But as soon as we were seated, we noticed that unlike Disney, we were not required to sit there wearing masks until our food arrived, and, unlike Disney, our server was mask free (allowed if vaccinated), my heart leapt with joy! Suddenly, life was feeling a lot rosier, the fog began to lift. And by the time my Blood Orange Margarita and Rich’s Key Lime Martini arrived, I was downright ecstatic!

I began to feel hopeful that there is, indeed, life after Covid, that I can do the WDW trip, and that maybe even our November cruise is possible! It was quite a watershed moment.

Sound Familiar? #Push2 #AbletonLive #Fun

So I’m playing around with some sounds during a melody practice tutorial for Ableton Live’s Push2 and I stumble across the “ACME Organ” sample and start playing some notes. Does the beginning sound familiar? No doubt if you’re a Disney fan.

Somehow my finger (ear) finds these things right off the bat, which can be annoying when you’re trying to come up with something semi-original (what is really original these days?). So then I start doing my own variation. I confess I love playing around with sounds.

And I guess I really am in the mood to get back to Disneyland/Disney World.

How Silicon Valley Prepared Me for Book and Music Production

Reading It’s All About Him, written by Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, I’m thinking how when I heard “Here in the Real World,” back in 1992, working in book production at a Silicon Valley high-tech firm, I thought he’d really made it. But when the song came out in 1990, he was far from making it at all. Living in a tiny basement apartment in Nashville with a pregnant wife, “Here in the Real World” was the second song his label had released and it was unclear whether they would keep him or drop him.

I started thinking about how successful I felt in Silicon Valley when I moved into technical writing, earning writing and publishing awards from the “Society of Technical Publications.” I sometimes say I got my PhD in that world, and, for the most part, it was a really awesome fit for me: the companies I worked for, the people I worked with (eventually marrying one of my co-workers), and the opportunities it brought me.

I would later grow wearing of that stressful, high-pressure day-to-day life, Las Vegas became my relaxing getaway, wondering what it would be like to be a cocktail waitress – lol! Eventually, my heart would start leading me to more creative pursuits.

I began writing fiction, starting with short stories as part of the well-known  “The Writer’s Loft” program in Chicago. I moved into fiction and by the time I wrote my third novel, Real Women Wear Red, at the height of the Chick Lit boom, I got an agent, and was offered a publishing contract.

Long story short, when the Indie author movement started going strong, I was able to use my book production skills to publish as an Indie author. I’ve done better as an Indie than I did when I was with publishers, certainly, the smaller publishers.

But then that market became oversaturated and I kept dreaming of my first love, music. In my youth, I didn’t pursue music as an artist because I knew you had to be spectacular to make it and while I’d sung a bit here and there, I wasn’t spectacular by a long shot. And I didn’t know of any other music path, at least not one I was interested in.

Fast forward to today with the ability to produce your own music in your own studio. Now I see that those same book production skills (with a propensity toward software) I learned in Silicon Valley help me now with continuing to learn new music production skills.

Push2 is the latest instrument I’m learning and with that and my Novation Launchkey keyboard, I’m hoping to advance more in more in creating my own melodies, instead of relying on loops and samples. Recently, a collab partner from FAWM told me he wants to release one of our songs commercially, but the melody was not copyright free so we could not use it. Between his piano skills and my production skills, I think we’ve come up with something we can use instead.

I have no idea where music will take me, even if it’s just the thrill of making it for myself, but I’m excited when I think about how far I’ve come from Silicon Valley production editor to producing my own music.

 

Round Goes the Night (#poem)

The spinning of the fan in the ceiling goes round
Fills the room with cinema and sound
The cat tree in the corner spirals in place
The whirling of the dancing cone cools my face

Thoughts in my head twist and turn
Lessons in Push will I ever learn
Poems and lyrics, simple that I write
Bring peace and rest until daylight

The cat is sleeping, quiet as a mouse
Do I risk breaking the stillness of the house
Will he awaken demanding his time
Warming up his vocals in rhythm and rhyme

Four hours til dawn too early to tell
Snoozing on my lap or sounding a yell
Too soon for coffee way before first light
Sleeping with one eye open round goes the night

The Power of Home (#poem)

This feeling of home owns a power I cannot control
It exacts a price I don’t always know
It binds me to its side in a prison of my own
Of isolation, loneliness, of being alone

It calls to me in memories of long ago
It whispers in wimpers of four walls and a floor
Awakening to music, knocking door to door
I hear the one missing, hidden before I was four

The desert is stunning when the sun begins to rise
The tropics tempt me to live fully alive
To live without one for any length of time
Sends me packing for a new state of mind

How is it possible to love two at a time
Pulling me in circles to walk a straight line
Round and round and round I go
Where I stop only God knows

Fight for Me (#poem #conversationswithmyself #wip)

This is version 1, a work in progress

Give me honor, not pity
Give me justice, not excuses
Fight for me, don’t feel sorry for me
Stand up for me, don’t watch me fall
Assuming I won’t get up, that I can’t fight for myself
That I won’t claim the victory
And know this
That everything I’ve done has been out of strength, not weakness
Don’t assume
That I can’t stand tall
Or respect myself, most of all

Push2 Has Stolen My Heart in My New Red Studio #Ableton

Ableton Live’s Push2 arrived last Friday and my first order of business was to rearrange my studio. First, I got a small, corner desk to replace the tri-level monster I thought I had to have.

Unfortunately, this bedroom in this house is smaller than I’m used to. I got out the tape measure and it is not the 10×10.1 feet the floorplan showed. It was supposed to be .1” larger than hubby’s next door. As it turns out, his is larger so we switched rooms. I left him the large desk because smaller spaces don’t bother him the way they do me.

Anyway, his office with the large desk looks so professional, compared to the dining room table he was using. And that room has always had more of a masculine feel with the dark grey drapes and chair. It’s perfect for him.

So, not only did I get the bigger room, but a smaller, corner desk was what I was after, along with red drapes, red bookcase, and red chair. I am so pleased.

And then I was ready to install Push2 and start playing with it (with some tutorial guidance via Sonic Academy). I am having a blast! So much so that I totally hated spending some time editing the third book of the “Real Women Wear Red” trilogy yesterday morning. (Now you see why my studio is decorated in red – lol!)

Don’t know if I will get back to editing since I’d like to really know what I’m doing with Push2 by the time 50/90 begins in July. Besides, my heart just isn’t into writing fiction these days. That time may be behind me now. Now it’s all about the music!

The next step, I think, is to get this table I saw on Wayfair to replace the low bench. Then I can have a place for my third keyboard instead of it sitting on the chair. The red chair may not fit if I do, though. I may have to keep looking for the right thing.

#DeleteTwitter Countdown: April 30, 2021

Two days ago I deleted my Twitter account again. As a member since 2007, it’s been hard for me to pull the final plug and allow it to expire in 30 days, which is how you delete Twitter. Actually, you deactivate and 30 days later, if you don’t log in, your account is deleted. I’ve never made it that far.

I logged in the day after, reactivating my account, thinking nobody would read this blog if I didn’t post it to Twitter. And then I deactivated it again after reading the first chapter of Stillness is the Key (another book recommendation from Roni Loren).

It’s not that his thoughts are all completely new to me or that I need Buddha to be told these things. No, not at all. But, in addition to presenting new thoughts, it also validates and is a reminder of what I already know. That’s often true for me and probably for you, too. You just have to allow yourself time to think and tune out all the noise out there.

I like the idea that by June 1st, to round things off, I could be Twitter-free.

Last Track Before Push 2 #Ableton #Music #Producer

I finally did it – ordered Push 2! It’s on its way. In the meantime, I’m finishing up some tutorials highlighting the new features on Ableton Live 11.

To experiment, I started playing around with some Disco sounds and came up with this track – it may be the last track I create in Ableton 11 before getting Push 2. Curious what I will do with Push 2, but the part that I find the most intriguing is the drum sequencer. We’ll see how it goes…

And then there’s that Dub/Techno riff I mentioned earlier… perhaps that will be the first track using Push 2.