Creativity + Inspiration

Of course, I talk about the end of gaps being back and then the universe starts mocking me. In the past there were too many times I’d throw something out there and then it would stutter or fail. This time it is more so the opposite since on top of my prior list new things have been heaped on as well. More ideas, more scribbles and sketches, and whatnot are fueled by a random day that I now know was the catalyst for this all being kicked up a notch.

I have always considered myself a creative type, be it art, writing, or music. That is the default, the norm, that cozy comfortable cocoon-like feeling. With it though, there are always ebbs and flows. Though it never goes away, it does end up not quite dormant and settles on the regulars – music and knitting until I end up at some sort of live show.

A concert is one of my happy places. Be it dancing on the lawn or pavement of an outdoor venue or standing just beyond the stage lights of a concert hall, if there is music that I love, or possible could end up loving, it puts me in a good place. It is just plain re-energizing. I always catch myself talking faster, and often slightly (hopefully just slightly) scaring people, after shows and wanting to do more of creatively myself.

Though I frequently go to shows and have been since I was in high school, the last year or so has seemed to have had more on the calendar. I know it is a mix of overall bands I enjoy touring more and me actually being able to make that particular date. That goes along with local music as well. It was a mix of the two that first started this uptick – Meg Myers (major label/touring artist) and Mighty Fox (a then new to me Chicago based band) – that led to even more Mighty Fox shows until I became one of those in their crowd singing along to songs I now love, and after a quick hello or a short chat, adding yet another great night to the concert books.

The Chicago local scene is something of which I’ve always remember fondly. Many of the bands are just a memory with lineups changing, disbanding to start new projects or just deciding they were done. Others pop up in venue listings at varying frequencies. As I have mentioned before, the nostalgia factor pulls hard but it doesn’t need to be stuck in the past. I’ve made it a point to get to Lucky Boys Confusion shows as much as we can after I had so much fun last July. It wasn’t that we hadn’t gone before then since Darth Husband once surprised me with LBC tickets as part of a road trip to Champaign to visit a friend who had gone back to school. It was just that timing wasn’t working for one reason or another.

Timing. This brings it all back around to where I began and where the most recent kick in the creative pants (metaphorically of course but if they were real they’d be covered in paint, pencil  and ink, bits of yarn fuzz, and band patches) that has put me in one of the best creative mindsets I’ve been in a long time. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I knit. The name of this blog refers to it, as does my online handle, but I don’t just knit but that is what I’d been doing the most. I’d pull my sketchbooks out now and then. One of my guitars or my flute might be freed from their case. Darth Husband’s bass might be taken off the stand in the living room. (Yes, it resides in our living room but we do have concert posters, album covers, and misc music stuff throughout our home. Think of music things as our version of that “Live, Laugh, Love” or whatever other three line word art that is all over.) It just all went back to knitting and the other ideas staying as part of that “ok, later I will do xyz” list.

Well now that that list has had the word “later” removed from it after chatting with someone I first met back when we were kids, and I’m not talking high school kids, though I would end up knowing him then and seeing his bands play from high school and onward. I hadn’t had a chance to be on that same kind of creative wavelength for some time and didn’t realize it until afterward. It was like figuring out which way to tug the yarn to make it untangle and the knitting needles start flying even faster or the headphone cable turning the right way and the volume shoots up making me jump in my seat.

My creative idea list is on hyperdrive and I love it and hate it at the same time. Since there isn’t an extra day when being creative is only allowed and I have to balance it with everything else in my normal life, I’ve been trying to get as much as I can down ideas wise using more of the notebook stockpile I have for that exact purpose. Lines and lines have been written, scrawled, scratched out and redone. I’ve been making it a point to at least sketch every night (though I am hesitant to post things online since I know people’s art gets stolen. Instead I’ve just decided send it to those who I trust would actually ask if they wanted to use something.) Redoing the header of this blog finally clicked and not surprisingly the image it features is me standing on the floor of the House of Blues in Chicago.

I ended up a few lines of some recent writing to Nikabee since she was one that I would share with years ago, and even still has a small notebook of poems/lyrics that I gave her over a dozen years ago. (Seeing it, as well as my old handwriting, was quite amusing.) She liked the new stuff and responded about how it must feel good to connect to that creative part of me again. She’s right. That part. It feels absolutely fantastic. It is like the creative energy from concerts piled up back to back to back to back to…

I’m not wasting this or taking it for granted either because I do believe in signs. Things work out for a reason when they haven’t been before especially in terms of timing. I’ve had to miss out on things as we all do. This time it is two-fold. I have tickets for the next State and Madison show after not being able to see them play for way too long and I can tell Nick “thank you” again but this time in person.

Throughout my life, I’ve spent many hours, if not days or even months in total probably by now, surrounded by creative people – ones with minds buzzing with ideas or paint and ink stained hands, ones with fingertips drumming or feet tapping to the rhythm in their heads. The artists, the musicians, the writers. With social media and the overall digital world we live in now,  I might not share the same air space but I can still share the same creative thought space and learn, grow, and continuously be inspired.

To all of those who have inspired, thank you.

Easy Everyday Rockabilly: Just Add a Scarf

Having an eclectic taste in music as well as in terms of personal style makes getting ready for concerts a lot of fun. Sometimes I don’t have a specific focus and just wear what I feel like wearing but other times I just take the style of music and run with it. That is what I did last weekend, though it was more of a fashion fast jog, for the Social Distortion concert at the House of Blues.

Social D’s music makes me think punk rock, rock n roll, old cars, tattoos, guys with slicked pomps and ladies with retro curls but with a rockabilly spin to it all. With Social D celebrating the 25th anniversary of their self-titled release and playing to a sold out crowd, I knew that the House of Blues was going to be packed and that meant that it was going to be HOT. No matter how hard the AC would be pumping, the crowd would be rocking out even harder, myself included since I cannot sit/stand still at a show. Knowing I’d be bopping around, singing along to lyrics of songs I played over and over again for a good two decades, I needed something comfy and something that I wouldn’t overheat in. This plan could have easily been checked off with a tank top and a pair of shorts but what is the fun in that?

I skipped the retro hairdo since I knew it wasn’t going to survive the humidity and become a nuisance during the show but I channeled a mellower rockabilly vibe with a circle skirt and a wide neck short dolman sleeved blouse. I added my excellent for dancing mary janes style Keens and overall I was happy with the look.

Looking back I could have easily added a scarf to my hair and been fine as well. Adding a scarf is a very easy way for me to add a bit of retro/rockabilly without having to really change up my wardrobe staples. It is also a great time saver when my hair decides to revolt against the humidity, or just because it wants to be ornery… so at least once a week. Now I don’t actually wear a scarf in my hair once a week but when I do it is something similar to these.

Easy Everyday Rockabilly

Goodbye Posting Gap! Blogging is Back!

Why, hello Posting Gap! It was nice seeing you again but it is time for you to head home. I know I’ll see you again but don’t call me. I’ll call you… or maybe just send you a text.

Taking a break is nothing new for me. After having a site of some sort on and off for the past 15 years or so (anyone else remember Tripod and Angelfire?), I know sometimes I need to stop and reevaluate/revamp or just flat out stop writing until I get out of a rut because I’m not happy with what is filling up my draft folder or notebook. If I am not happy with something why would I put it out there for someone else to read? If someone is taking the time to read something, I want to put the effort in what is out there. Since it has always been hobby based, I didn’t have to worry about loss of income. Plus, there were times years ago that mentioning actually making money as a result would have made me laugh thinking the person was joking. Think BEFORE YouTube and tumblr and whatnot. Yes, I am old… old-ish?

So I had my plan, was ready to go, and then got hit by a truck. No clever use of metaphor there this time since it was a real truck!

The Plan:

  • Go on mini-hiatus
  • Deal with crazy winter weather and get self out of writer’s block/writer’s rut
  • Finish various in-progress writing projects
  • Complete minor site updates
  • POST! POST! POST!
  • Do happy heel click jump

The Reality:

  • Go on mini-hiatus
  • Deal with crazy winter weather
  • Start working on writing projects
  • Get hit driving to Target and end up with car totaled
  • Focus on recovering from accident
  • Mini-hiatus become medium(ish?) hiatus
  • Do not do happy heel click jump

Blogging went on the back burner (the back left one since the tea kettle is usually on the right) as did other things since the focus was on me getting better. This time has been both a painful and frustrating situation as well a humbling and inspiring one. I made a point to focus on the positive and not the negative as much as I could and as a result not post about it in real-time or rather slightly delayed real-time since I rarely write and then immediately hit “Publish.”

I might be klutzy at times but going to from being from what I’d consider an able-bodied person with for the most part no physical limitations to having to rethink how I’d do some usual everyday tasks was an eyeopener. The things I couldn’t do luckily were looking like would only be temporary.

I chose to take these “can’t do”s and look at them as things I would be more grateful to be able to do later and try to build upon them in any way I could at the time.

I might not have been able to:

  • knit since doing so with a cast wouldn‘t be best for a project thirteen skeins in (so much frogging later on – for non-knitters: frogging actual term = ripping back a knitted section bc you “rip it, rip it”) but I could find fiber based creative things to read, find new knitting based Instagram accounts to ooh over, and learn new things via YouTube.
  • cook or not without making even more of a mess than I usually do but I could keep reading and collecting new recipes and really decide if I needed to keep entire magazines for four or so pages of something I might make someday. (Answer quickly became “no” and those few pages were kept as the rest went into the recycling bin.) I could rethink what I really wanted or needed to keep in my kitchen, both food wise and stuff wise.
  • finish going through my closet for the most current wave of trying on, deciding to keep, donate, or toss but I could keep the process going at least mentally for awhile and so have a jumping off point for later, read and being inspired by style blogs, both new and old to me, and rethink how I approach my own personal style and about what I want to kick up a notch or back up and what isn’t as worth it to keep.
  • get to the gym or laced up my running shoes, but I could focus on my health, other than the healing process, and decide what I wanted to continue with and what I wanted to change regarding my self in terms of mind, body, and soul.

After that all being said, my initial goal of getting out of that writing rut controlled by the blinking cursor or blank page was successful. The only hobby based blocks I’m dealing with now are the ones in Minecraft. I have lists, drafts, and ideas floating around in my head, in my laptop, and most likely scribbled on a piece of a notepad in the bottom on my bag. I’ve been getting them more in a sense of order instead of a crazy excitement based word jumble. Added to that jumble, and adding a bit more to the hiatus, was actually getting things done that Darth Husband and I have had on the “eventually we will” list like new paint and poutine, but not paint poutine.

So now I am back with a fresh coat of lipstick, new songs in my playlists and more band buttons on my jacket and bag, folders full of drafts and one with posts ready to go, and as cheesy as ever…..

Everybody, read the bloggy
Everybody, read the bloggy right
Yarnalone’s back, alright!

Happiness is a Good Haircut

I love getting a great haircut. It puts me in a such a good mood and adds a spring in my step. Afterwards, I find myself doing a hair flip, toss, or swing but for me that one of the universal signs that it works. I could throw around that “new hair, don’t care” phrase as well but that is pretty much the opposite. I do care. There were times that I didn’t as much and let it go far to long but now I make it a point to care and to make sure I do something about it.

When I was growing up, I was lucky to have the consistency of having the same person cut my hair, The BFF’s mom. Not only was she an extremely talented stylist, or hairdresser as was the term more so used then, she was like my second mom. If something wasn’t going to work, she’d be totally honest with me and then we’d find a solution to get what I was hoping for. She was also the master of seeing a photo with an idea I had and then modifying it to work perfectly on my head.

After she passed away, I bounced between trying a new stylist and doing absolutely nothing with my hair. I had grown my bangs out around 2002 so that checked bang trims off the upkeep list though that list barely existed anymore. It wasn’t that I wasn’t regularly washing my hair because the thought of not doing that makes my scalp itch. I just adopted the idea that I was growing it out as I figured out what I wanted to do with it. That was a stupid idea. It might have been growing out but the condition of it was going down.

After haircut based common sense rejoined the self care party and I was back to getting more regular cuts, I eventually started going to the stylist I have now. The new stylists I had gone to were good but not matter how talented someone is, it wasn’t that clicking “this is it!” moment where I find myself oohing to Darth Husband and taking photos of my self. That is where I am now.

I know that moment has led me to get out of that silly rut when I’m doing a version of Pinky and the Brain:

Gee, hair, what are we going to do today?
What we do every day, the same dang thing.

I’m even back to rocking the bangs which I wish I had done sooner. Seriously, I forgot how many other hairstyles I prefer when I have bangs. I might still go to my standbys of having it pulled back especially when on a computer for long periods of time but I’m excited to try new things and get back to wearing styles I have in the past. Well, within reason since I have no plans for mall hair or growing it out past my elbows any time soon.

One of my fashion/beauty goals for 2015 is to get back to trying new styles. I have various curled styles, updos, and ones with a retro element to them that I’ve tried over the years. Now I have over 100 pins on my Hair Pinterest board. Some might be epic fails due to my hair type but others might totally work and be added to the more regular routine. Now I just need to do it. I already have the hairspray.

hrspy

Live & Local: Mighty Fox at Lincoln Hall

I love that moment when I hear a song or a band for the first time and I just stop. Everything else fades away and I’m transfixed. This is what happened the first time I saw Mighty Fox. There was no longer a crowd around me and just this fantastic rock band on the stage in front of me.

From their website since it does it much more justice as a description than “OMFG this is an awesome band:”

“Mighty Fox isn’t just a musical project but rather a journey.  As an up-and-coming group based in Chicago that has already gotten industry professionals stirring, it’s clear that this project is more than just a “band” but rather a way of life for the musicians involved.  Each song has the listener noticing the many different artists that influence Mighty Fox and how they’ve effected the lives of the members.  With bands like Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and U2 being considered substantial influences, Mighty Fox has a very well rounded sound that anyone and everyone can relate to and enjoy.  Don’t let the names fool you though.  Mighty Fox has definitely found a sound of their own which translates incredibly to their live show.”

 I was ecstatic to find out that they were a local Chicago band. That put them on my “MUST see again” list and since that show, I’m happy to have seen them play live more.

The last show was last Friday at Lincoln Hall and once again my cousin was rocking out with me. I met her on the Northside after work and after hunting for a parking spot amongst the snowdrifts, we got to the venue with a good amount of time before the first band started. With four bands on the bill, Mighty Fox was third. Since Lincoln Hall is a smaller place, around 500 capacity and with sound well done for the size, we could easily see the stage and since it was a really laid back crowd minus one very excited chatty group celebrating a birthday with confetti (yes, actual metallic “Happy Birthday” confetti) we easily worked our way up front for their set.

mf_lh_22015_01

With everyone on stage but Mike, vocalist/guitarist, the music starts. Then a moment later he is onstage and their set kicks into gear. For ten songs, the room is enveloped in sound: Jon on drums, Markham on guitar, Johnny on bass and keyboard, and Mike switching between guitar and only the mic. From the soaring chorus of “Tom’s Song” to the pounding beat of “Let Go”, Mighty Fox had great energy on stage no matter what the tempo. You can tell that they are doing something that they love.

mf_lh_22015_02

mf_lh_22015_03

mf_lh_22015_04

mf_lh_22015_05

mf_lh_22015_06

Here is the full setlist of the songs that we danced to (or swayed to depending on the song) at the show:

mf_lh_22015_sl

Being a musician myself and having friends in bands throughout the years, I know that there is a lot of work put into it. After I see a great show, I basically want to say to the band “thank you” as in “thank you for sharing your music with me.” With most shows (most being any general band), it usually is more so something like “great set”  just in passing but this time my cousin and I got to meet them and actually got to talk for a few minutes. I always appreciate when someone will chat a bit after rocking out on stage. Both being very nice, Markham granted my request for the setlist as he paused from breaking down his gear and Mike responded to my good-natured sarcasm about his moving too much resulting in blurred photos with some of his own. No pompous attitudes means gold stars in my book. I’ve met too many “What? I’m in a band. I’m too cool.” jerks over the years.

So back to the setlist photo. Yes, that is an actual set list and it is signed by Mike and Markham. It was an idea that popped into my head after the set had ended. Then I thought “Why not?” There is just something about this band. It reminds me of back when I was the music director at my old college radio station. A CD would come in and after playing it, I’d think “THIS! This will be a big deal.” I really hope I’m right.