Tuesday, December 7, 2010

5, 4, 3, 2, 1......

I've been thinking about how I remember things from childhood or even how a child retells a story. Unless someone tells me the full story, I remember strange fragments and clips. It's interesting what you recall years later.

I'm a sucker for live performances. I love the emotion in the moment. As for Burgundy Shoes by Patty Griffin, I prefer the studio version. I'm not certain of the intent or the origin for her of this song, but I always think of her either telling this story as a child or recalling a memory from childhood. I love how she references what she was wearing, how the seat felt on the bus, and the main line is "sun." As you ride a bus, what do you do? Look out the window. :) The middle section of this song brings tears to my eyes and she's just saying "sun." To be completely honest, I passed over this song at first because I thought the intro piano part sounded a bit like a Richard Marx throwback. : / Lucky for me as with most new music, I listen through the album completely once. I usually get stuck on one or two. After I wear those tracks out, I typically revisit the remainder and find a few more that I love. This was one of those remnants for me. I've added the lyrics to the end of this post.

It makes me think of how I remember things from childhood. I experienced my first Christmas not waking up Christmas morning with all of my cousins at my grandparent's home this year. It was strange and didn't feel at all like Christmas. For 26 years, I have waited at the top of the stairs with all of my cousins in age order on Christmas morning intently listening for the "ok" for us to trample down the stairs into the basement and open presents. Yes in my family until you have children, you are still considered one of the kids. :) I remember how huge the basement seemed when I was little. I had these roller skates that attached to your tennis shoes. I would skate around for what seemed like hours down there (probably more like ten minutes), and it felt just like a skating rink. I laugh when I think of how much smaller it actually is. My grandparents have owned that house since my Dad was seven. I love family history and family traditions and family trees. I was exhausted driving home over thanksgiving so I went through as much of my family tree as I could remember in my head and successfully stayed awake. I know.....weirdy.

I went to a Christmas Eve service this year by myself, and it felt like a scene out of a movie where the character feels lonely so every place they look are happy families, a Dad picking up his daughter, a Mom hugging her son, a husband with his arm around his wife. It was all I could do to focus on the biblical story of the birth of Jesus during the service with my head swimming of family. I thought of Mary and Joseph. I know historically December 25th isn't the actual birthday of Christ, but it is when we celebrate it. Taking that into account, Mary and Joseph were away from both of their families too and probably for the first time. I can't help but wonder what they must have thought about all the changes...how selfless they had to be. I can learn alot from that. That strange change in tradition was overwhelmingly blended with my sister having a baby on December 17th!! Talk about two different ends of the spectrum!! It has been quite the buffer to the first half of this paragraph. I can't believe how much I instantly love him. It's difficult to imagine how my sister must feel about him. He's literally mesmerizing. I just stare at him.....haha hopefully I'm not completely and creepily alone in that.... So this Christmas was different than any other in sad AND joyful ways.

It's almost 2011 which yada yada makes us all review the previous year. So much has happened and changed in 2010 for me. I never feel like I've done enough, but it is startling to think of how my life looked January 1st 2010 in comparison to a few days from now. I have rewritten this sentence three times: It is quite possible that I will be moving in February. :c) Stay tuned....I will let you know details when I'm good and ready ;) Happy New Year!! I have high hopes for 2011. You too?

Lyrics to Burgundy Shoes by Patty Griffin

We wait for the bus that's going to Bangor
In my plaid dress and burgundy shoes
In your red lipstick and lilac kerchief
You're the most pretty lady in the world

The bus driver smiles, a dime and a nickel
We climb on our seats, the vinyl is cold
"Michelle ma belle", the song that you loved then
You hold my hand and sing to yourself
Sun sun

The leaves are green and new like a baby
Tulips are red, now I don't miss the snow
It's the first day I don't wear my big boots
You hold my hand, I've got burgundy shoes
Burgundy shoes, burgundy shoes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Say What You Need To Say....

I walked in the park with Tolmi on Sunday afternoon. It was really stunning. The park was packed with people. I did a fair share of people watching and speculating the lives I saw from these tiny moments of observation. The trees were singing and beautifully ridden with fall colors. I disagree with the idea of an "Indian Summer." We have just had some beautiful fall days with toasty warm afternoons. :c) I felt strangely connected to all the people in the park that day. Each eye contact made seemed to express we were all a part of something and new we were exactly where we should be at that moment. There was a peacefulness to it despite Tolmi's relentless speed. I have had other moments in life that I knew I was exactly where I should be. The blessing of these moments almost begs you to stay, but it's also in these moments that it can be so clear when it's time to move. (sidenote: my friend, Dominic, says hi. :)) So Tolms and I walked around with all of our "old" friends, smiling with familiarity. I sat on the pavilion steps to watch the sunset or the beginning of it. Tolmi sat still for the beginning, but had only so much restraint for the twelve squirrels scampering around in the grass. Ha it was no longer "our time" to be there apparently so we ventured off.

It's been a bit of that "Say What You Need To Say" stuff for me lately. It may not be in the original intent of the Mayer song, but important nonetheless. I've learned quite alot about my specific personality and also working with others through the different jobs I've had. My last job held this in high regard. We had team meetings almost quarterly about this subject. I learned some things I like about myself as well as things I dislike. One thing I know to be true about me is that if I make a verbal promise to you as small as it may be, it is as strong in my mind as a written contract that I've signed...in bloooood. haha no but really....not that I haven't broken promises or let people down, but it bothers me more than it even should probably. So why is this important for you to know.....why is anything I blog about important? haha It isn't, but I read blogs because I like to know people. A blog is not as satisfying as a face to face conversation, but the clips of thoughts give some insight to add to the quilt that represents you in my brain. Ah back to promises or even things I say... This fact about me makes what I say and don't say pretty important. When I'm ready to set a goal or consider a big decision, I start telling a few people to make it real and to start holding myself accountable to it. In that way, I NEED to say things to you so that I make a pact with myself to do it. In a strange way even though those I tell may not know it, I think that they are expecting me to do it because I said it as well. All of this adds up to better odds that I will reach my goals and make my decisions.

In telling people your goals and things you are considering, you also welcome advice, opinions, encouragement, and discouragement. This is the other side of "Say What You Need To Say." I welcome thoughts from others. I don't feel pressured or obligated to follow any advice, but I definitely consider these things. I'm a slow processor so it may take me a bit to "say" those things myself if I choose to agree with you. :) This part also lends itself to Glen Hansard's "Say It To Me Now." I'd rather your feelings and thoughts be expressed than withheld to my detriment or yours. Sometimes tough stuff needs to be said out of love. It will always come back to love if the original intent starts there.

So I've been doing some talking and people have been talking to me. In the words of Glen Hansard, "Because I'm picking up a message, Lord. And I'm closer than I've ever been before. So if you have something to say, say it to me now." If you haven't caught on yet, I'm setting some goals and making some big decisions. Thanks for reading. I like you guys. :c) This pic by M. Rinaye Photography is an accurate representation of how I feel riiiiiiight now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oklahoma City and finally EP Release!

Oh guys we're to the end of the living room tour. My last traveling stop was in Oklahoma City with my good friends John and Rachel. Some history here, John (whom I refer to as my little brother) and Dustin (another brother) and I made up THE band, Beyond the Fleece. We recorded a little short album at the end of my college days at Drury. Here's a pic of us at our final show and album release. They teased me alot as brothers do and said our band was actually called, "Lee Ellen and the Boys." Great memories with these guys. The first song I had ever written was performed with them. We recorded at John's house, and he got to experience my unfiltered "recording studio" flip out from trying to record an original.....haha they put up with my shenanigans beautifully :c) Anyway, it was really great to play in his living room because he's been around from the beginning of my performances with instrumentation. He hasn't heard me in a few years though. It was great to hang out and play some covers we used to do together and his original "Seasons." Both "the boys" are married now and Dustin (pictured in the middle above) has a beautiful little girl! It's hard to believe we were college kids playing music in the little free time we had only five years ago. So I played in Oklahoma City Thursday night and drove back to Springfield Friday morning. I got back around noon to find my boxes of EPs had arrived so I frantically signed all the preorders and prepped for the EP Release! The venue was perfect, the crowd was perfect, the cookies my mom brought were perfect, the opening acts were perfect.......are you getting the idea? Everything was perfect! All the way down to the unidentified man that left in the middle of my set announcing to the crowd that he was a marine vet who killed people while we were safely sleeping in our beds. He left immediately after the statement so I squeaked out, "Thank you." And then after he walked out without thinking, I said into the mic, "I think he said he kills people, and I just said thank you...." My EP Release would not have been complete without that experience. And tons of my family came to show their support! Thank you thank you thank you to everyone for sharing that night with me. It is burned in my memory forever!!!

So this past Sunday I was stopped in my tracks by an honest and amazing seven year old. Whenever I sing at church, I am there early. Whenever I don't sing, I'm generally five minutes late. I noticed a trend of chatting with my little friend every week I am there early. This Sunday we talked about school and how she had learned her first Taylor Swift song on her pink guitar. I said something about how I enjoyed talking with her. And she said, "Sometimes I can't find you in the crowd." I knew the truth of that was that she couldn't find me because I either wasn't there or arrived too late to chat with her. Maybe that statement strikes a deeper chord than I can explain here, but I tell you what. Every Sunday I am in town, I will focus on arriving early on Sundays so she finds me in the crowd. :c) Here's a link to the love songlet I debuted at my release. video


Friday, October 8, 2010

Oil changes and sundry things......

One of my least favorite things to do is car-related things. That's probably the only place I consciously feel discrimination these days. I know it still exists in other ways, but this is my experience. It was time for an oil change. I asked some guy friends where I should go. I called one place and the guy literally said, "oh wait, it just went up a few dollars today. Could you hold?" The guy quoted me $37, but I had a coupon for 15% off. When I got there, a sign on the wall said that oil changes are $34. They ended up charging me $34 with a 15% discount, but things don't always go that way. I just found out my bro-in-law can do oil changes and even change out my brakes so I will gladly drive to KC for my car work in the future.

Anyway, so I left off from my living room tour in Kansas City. From KC, I traveled out to west Kansas, Ashland to be exact. I was lucky enough to stay with my good friends Ben and Kaila. I rolled into town just in time for a quick dinner at a church potluck. BRISCUIT!!! haha and then went to the nursing home/assisted living center/hospital/doctor's office......yes all in one building! A group gathered at the nursing home, and I played a concert for them. A couple of residents sang along with the ones they knew. It was a very sweet crowd! One sweet lady came up to me afterward and complimented my guitar skills. She said, "And I was watching!" so cute! I had some good conversation catch-up time with Ben and Kaila before falling asleep in the most comfortable bed of my entire tour........I slept like a baby. I hit the ground running pretty early the next morning for Pine, CO. I got to stay in the cutest cabin ever for a couple of days and went hiking with one of my best friends, Valerie. They had a great BBQ at their cabin, and friends packed out the living room. We ate yummy food and made s'mores before retiring to the living room for some music. Valerie was present at my first performance at Drury when we were in college in 2003 I think. It was great to have her face in the room. I was so blessed by hanging out with my married friends that week. Valerie and Lewie have been married a couple of years. I learned so much by simply observing Valerie and Lewie and Ben and Kaila this week. They are two young couples of many that I know that I admire very much for a commitment to each other and keeping God at the center of their marriages.

Back to the present, last weekend my cousin Katie got married in Broken Bow, OK. We got to stay in some excellent log cabins! hot tub on the back deck! yayuh! The wedding party walked in to Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition." So good! I played Bright Eyes' "The First Day of My Life" as they walked out. It was so great to see my family. We had a photo shoot with Jennifer Rodick, www.imagesbyjenphotography.com. I'm so excited to see what we look like these days. :c) I ALSO got to meet my best friend from high school's little boy!!! He was born Friday night! For some reason my photo uploader isn't working in blogger :( Believe me, he's the cutest thing ever.

I've got two gigs this weekend! I'm super excited about both. A living room concert and then I get to play some songs at a storytelling event! Happiness for me because I LOVE hearing stories!

OH AND MY WEBSITE IS LIVE!!!!!! My webmaster, Jason, is working on a music player and some other things so this is just the basics. I want to keep it pretty simple, but let me know if you have any suggestions or things you'd like to see! Thanks so much for reading this! :c)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homeless? Get outta town!

Ok so I'm so close to catching up on blogging the living room tour experiences! On Monday, August 9th, I had the privilege of playing a living room concert in Springfield! It was so nice to play for friends. My young friend, Kenzie, played the first song she has learned on the guitar. I assure you she was the star of the evening. :) My friend, Jennifer Rodick, attended and sang harmony on a few little ditties.

As for the rest of my life at that point, I hadn't really thought about the fact that I needed to be moved out of the Potter's House by the end of that week so they could have the basement back for the beginning of the college fall semester. It is not like me to not plan AND worry about that impending homelessness, but I didn't. By Tuesday, I had two unsolicited "come live here" offers. Such blessings. Wednesday and Thursday I moved all of my things into my new "temp" place. Thursday evening my good friend, Catie Neuber, offered to do a photo shoot for me. My last music photos had been taken two years ago. Here's what she had to say: Catie Neuber Photography.

Friday, August 13th, I headed back to Kansas City. I was hosted by Dominic at a beautifully remodeled home in Overland Park! The house was packed and with mostly new faces to me. A new acquaintance I made that night requested this YouTube video. It was a great, intimate setting accompanied by a nice rain outside. :c) UNfortunately, the AC wasn't functioning properly leaving me a hot singing mess. Some in the audience, no doubt disgusted by my visual melt down haha, came to the rescue with an oscillating fan. So nice! Yay for fans! ;) ;) In all seriousness, it was so nice to play for a room of almost all strangers but somehow feel like I'd known them all for much longer.....must've been the sweat :) Even better, the night ended with a lovely PB&J made by the host for me. In true 'lee ellen' form, a spot of jelly ended up on my jeans. AND in the morning, Dominic made an amazing breakfast! It was a great beginning to my week of traveling. More to come on the ending of my living room tour with stops in Ashland, KS, Pine, CO, and Oklahoma City, OK.

Fast forward to the present, I played Artwalk this past Friday. I love playing outside. Thanks to all my lovely friends for stopping by! I think I'll play in some parks this fall just for fun. I'll be traveling to good ol' Oklahoma this weekend for my cousin's wedding. AND Jennifer Rodick will be doing a family photo shoot of MY family! We haven't had professional family photos in years!!! Life is good. Things are changing. Good changes. I'll let you know!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Home sweet Arkansas!

So I'm at the Potter's House right now. When I first sat down, there was one other couple in the living room. It kiiiiiind of seemed like they were on a date and I maaaaaaay have eavesdropped a tad.... At one point I heard the girl say, "I don't do drama," and "I can't hang out with awkward people..." haha oh dates......I'll go on some more of those some time......so I can say things like that and be the awkward person I "can't hang out with." haha and not know how long to look someone in the eye to say nonverbally what I want to say without saying what I don't want to say.....nonverbally.

Ahhhh just when I thought I would have to put in my earbuds at Poho and be antisocial....."Blackbird" by the Beatles....alright

I got really frustrated yesterday, and shouted and I think I even seethed......That's new for the adult me. I'm pretty sure I did those things in my younger years but somewhere along the way I started being quiet when I was angry.....my close friends jokingly called it "The Quiet Storm" haha only during "Sunny Weather" I'm sure. :c) I'm getting back to the business of expressing even that negative stuff in regular life and not just in song.

Speaking of my younger years, I played some living room concerts in Arkansas (my stomping ground) at the beginning of August. The first one was in Fayetteville. To the left, you can see my stagehand. She was gracious enough to give me her drink when I sang so loudly she thought I was surely parched. :) I was given my own room again for a lovely night's sleep before heading home to stay with Mom and Dad in good ol' Alma. I got to hang out with the parents all day Friday. Saturday was gorgeous until the time for my outdoor performance. It began to pour down rain minutes before I took the stage.....so no go. A friend walked over from his car in the pouring rain. We went to get something hot to drink and dry off inside. Good conversation and quality time was definitely worth the rained out gig. I was sad for the group that set up the whole Block Party. They were ready to go, and everything looked amazing and so fun! That evening I played at a friend's house in Van Buren. We had a full house. Their living room was an open two story space if that makes sense.....=fun for lee ellen to belt it. They also served yummy barbecue. mmm!

Then on Sunday, the weekend was capped off at a friend's house in Alma. She served dessert and iced tea. I played for about two hours without realizing it! It was surprisingly nice to do an afternoon concert. Three words: Homemade Strawberry Shortcake. It's always nice to go home for abit. I went home a few weekends ago again, and visited my Mom while she worked at my old high school. Well......it's loosely my old high school. They added a whole new half and then remodeled the old half so it doesn't look the same at all. But something about going home makes things slow down, makes me go back in time, makes me reflective and reminiscent. I love all of these things. I went to the first football game of the season with my Dad when I was home. It reminded me of the comfort of a small town. When THE thing to do on Friday night is go to the high school football game. I love that too. I also love the atmosphere at football games. I listened for as many "Ref, where are your glasses," type shouts as I could, and laughed myself silly. I enjoyed my time in Arkansas and singing back home. It felt like a big bear hug from brother......and he gives great hugs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

St. Louis.....Twice!

oh my GOODNESS! So much has happened since my last post, but I can't cheat the great things that happened in between by skipping them! So somehow I ended up with zero pictures from my St. Louis living room stops.... :c( You'll just have to really use your imagination!

So first stop was at Devin's. I usually don't eat much before a performance a) because I'm really nervous b) because nerves and food typically lead to belching which doesn't mix well with singing. Devin's mom made this yummy lasagna though. We all sat down to a nice.....full.....dinner. It was so good and she made brownies too. Shoot! They have some special name......for the brownies...... Anyway, so I HAD to have a brownie too! Man, that bugs me I can't remember what they were called. So after I am sufficiently stuffed, we move on to the concert part of the evening. I got to play in the sun room off the back of the house. Devin jumped in to sing some harmonies on the cover of "Many the Miles" with me. The concert was a success solely on the fact that I never burped in the middle of a song. haha It was a great night, and I had the privilege of visiting with Devin's family. I loved that aspect of the entire living room tour. They even gave me my own room for the night! I ended the night by shattering a glass in the bathroom after everyone had turned in for the night. I like to keep things interesting... ;) just kidding! Again, Devin, sorry for my clumsiness!! It follows me wherever I go. If I don't have a stain on my shirt, something is surely broken somewhere.....

My next show in St. Louis was at Nikki's house. Nikki and I go way back to freshman year at Drury. We ended up traveling together to Greece for a semester abroad. Nikki is Greek so was a HUGE help in the transition to the amazing Greek culture. We had many adventures all over the country. It all started with alot of snow falling our first night in Athens so we got hit by some snowballs by excited Greeks and got to see the Acropolis with a beautiful dusting of snow! I can't believe that was seven years ago!! Anywho, so Nikki and I have kept in touch, but not nearly as much especially after graduation. It was so fun to catch up on life and reminisce all of our fun times in Greece! And......I love learning languages so learning Greek in Greece was SO FLIPPING FUN!!! I haven't heard it much since I returned to the states obviously. Nikki invited alot of her family to the concert, and it was so so so wonderful to hear the Greek language all around me again. Oh and Nikki's mom gave me some Greek tea that she brought back from Greece. I fell in love with it when I was over there. It was so great to hang out with Nikki's family and friends. Unfortunately on both trips to St. Louis, I had to hurry back to Springfield so I didn't get to play in the streets for tips. I will definitely be back in St. Louis sometime. Hopefully, a venue will give me a chance!

Ok living room stop updates to come: Fayetteville, Van Buren (2 stops), Kansas City (again!), Ashland, Pine, Oklahoma City, and the EP release in Springfield!

I'm playing at Cider Days in Springfield on Sunday afternoon 4-5pm, September 19th, the Music at the Inn Stage. Thanks for your tremendous support!!! I had a couple of paying gigs this past weekend that brought in more than I made in a couple weeks at my old job. :c) That kind of makes THIS my job! It sure doesn't feel like a job though.....yippee!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"We don't like to call it 'in trouble'........"

I had the privilege to play a couple of living room tour concerts in Kansas City last week. This pic is from the first of the two. Hosted by Erin and Elizabeth, it was a beautiful setting on a rooftop in downtown KC. It was an enclosed pool room so the acoustics were like singing in a HUGE bathroom! I met some great people and very musically inclined at that. We had a little jam session after the concert......my favorite :c) Devon and Nathan took some pics. The one to the left is one of Devon's.

The next night I played at Sarah Beth and KB's house, my sister and brother-in-law. Dharmesh took some pics there. I can't wait to see them! I look forward to experiencing how different each living room stop is, but this one happened to be exactly how I imagined they would be. I sat in the corner on a red chair, and everyone sat in a U-shape around me on various chairs and furniture. The living room was the perfect size for the 10 people present, and the concert felt like one long conversation.....alittle one-sided I suppose ;) but so comfortable and intimate.

I played out in the Plaza abit on Friday. These two security guys parked their SUVs in the middle of the road and sauntered over to me. When I asked, "Am I in trouble?" One said, "We don't like to call it 'in trouble,' we like to say you were misinformed." haha good times! very different all around from my experience in the French Quarter.... :c)

For all the selling of EP's I keep mentioning, I am actually talking about pre-orders. I have a sign up sheet at each stop for those interested to pre-order. No EP's have been distributed just yet. I will shout it from the rooftops, and probably have one of those 'laughed til I cried' moments when the release please Lord, sometime in my lifetime actually occurs.

This has been SUCH a learning experience for me. Thank you for enduring my ignorance in so many areas.........

Dude, you guys! 100 people have subscribed to my youtube channel!!!!! What?????? Check it! and subscribe if you haven't yet!

Thank you everyone!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

N'awlins and a Concert

Helloooooooo!!! So the latest setback on the EP release is that I used a few stanzas of an old hymn in the bridge section of one of my tracks. Silly Lell here didn't do the proper homework thinking the hymn was old enough to be public domain. After doing the proper research, I discovered that the copyright was renewed in 1983, obviously retaining it's legal demand for royalties in this grand old year of 2010. Bottom line: I removed the hymn from the track and reworked some things in the studio to avoid any sort of copyright infringement. I was leaving for New Orleans when I found out all of this madness so I didn't make it into the studio until last Tuesday. The guy who has mastered the EP was out of town until yesterday. Therefore, I'm hoping to get "the call" that the mastered copy is ready....any......minute.....

So New Orleans.......awesomeness! I saw a long-time friend, met some great people, met some odd people, and met some creepy people. :c) This pic is from the first day I played out in the French Quarter. I played three separate times, in five varying spots, and for a total of about 6 hours. I had never really played on the streets for tips before, and wasn't sure what to expect. During those six hours, my faithful friend, Jennifer, filled out postcards with my social media links and passed them out to lingering listeners. I expected to get some smiles and a dollar here and there. I ALSO expected to see more street performers out there. Maybe it was too hot.....because it was HOT! The main surprises were how many individual conversations I had with people, a one hundred dollar bill tip, AND a police officer threatening to take me to jail. Before I played in the Quarter, one of Jennifer's friends warned me that I might need a permit to play on the street. We decided to take the chance. It was alittle after 8pm on Thursday night and a police officer pulled up where I was playing. I was right in front of a cathedral that gets alot of tourist traffic. One of my odd new friends rode by me on his bicycle whispering, "Stop playing. You aren't allowed to play in the Quarter after 8pm. They'll take your instrument and everything." I stopped mid song.........my friend ran over to the police officer and waved to me saying it was okay to continue playing. I yelled, "Are you sure?" Suddenly, the officer turns on his speaker inside his patrol car to say, "If you don't play another song, I'm taking you to jail right now." He went on to say that he was having a bad night and just came over to listen. :c) Whew! I got a picture with him before I left....tried to get him to handcuff me but he wouldn't.
I played a gig at Neutral Grounds Coffee. Great space! According to a patron, it's been around for 40 years.

I met Bronson in the Quarter, owner of the Red Lantern. He heard me singing from across a high car traffic street and a few doors down. His compliments and encouragement made my day. When I walked by his store, he had taped my postcard up on the door. :c) The last person I met was David. He immediately said, "You know where that gift comes from don't you?" He pointed up and said, "And He's crazy about you." David told me his story, which involved growing up as a pastor's kid and pretty much saying F you (his words) to the church as a young adult. He came to know the Lord in prison. I don't know what he was in jail for and it really doesn't matter. We quoted scripture back and forth abit and marveled at the love and persistence God has with and for us. His breath smelled of alcohol, but his words were Truth. His eyes shine when he talks about God. When I tried to thank him, he kept saying, "Don't thank me. Don't thank me." I love listening to anyone talk about something they are passionately pursuing, but this was especially nice because it's something we both happen to be pursuing. What a gift to me on my last night in New Orleans. :c)

In other news, I received free tickets to see Patty Griffin in concert last week. I love her.......she's my favorite. I've NEVER seen her play live. When I picked up the tickets from Janet, who I'm so lucky thought of me when she couldn't use the tickets and wanted to give them to someone, she mentioned, "Oh and you know Patty's playing with Robert Plant in this concert." I didn't think too much of it because I could not IMAGINE someone asking Patty to play in their concert without giving her an entire solo set. She has such a faithful following. Well my assumptions were incorrect. Patty led vocally on ONE song......ONE song. Don't get me wrong, I love Patty Griffin's music so much that it made the 4 hour drive worth it to hear her amazing voice live even for only a few minutes. I just can't imagine that her fans will be satisfied with this lack of presence. She sings background vocals on Robert Plant's songs.........her voice is far too unique and wonderful to properly fit with Robert Plant's lead vocals. I know that Robert Plant has his props for being the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, but he is trying to sing in Patty's genre of music. Robert should be opening for Patty in this situation. Buddy Miller led vocally on one song. Buddy and Patty's voices fit together so much better than Patty and Robert's. I enjoyed the concert alright, but I felt like a parent who's kid had one line in a 3 hour play or something. And I think in this scenario, Patty has alot of disgruntled, proud parents. Yeah? Anyway, I'm very thankful for the tickets, but look forward to seeing a Patty concert where she receives her appropriate time and spotlight. :c)

I'm off to Kansas City tomorrow. Check facebook for events. I will have signups for EP preorders due to the unfortunate setbacks. EP's will sell for $5 each at any Living Room Tour stop and $6 at any other show and online. If you get an invite to a Living Room Tour stop, come and save some money on your EP purchase!!!! See you soon!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Coming to a living room near you!

So I got some new glasses...... --->
And that's really all that's new lately......HA! not really :c)

In my last post I told you, I found myself homeless and jobless in a matter of days. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you who whole-heartedly offered to take me in. :c) As always, God provides. I am happy to tell you I have a roof over my head and finances have been coming in in the most interesting ways. This pursuing music thing is face-to-the-ground humbling. So many people to hug for awkward lengths of time to try and show my appreciation. :)

people who have stepped up to offer their support:
-anyone who comments or sends me messages ever!
-a graphic designer-designing EP artwork-puts up with my detailed opinion and struggle to articulate what I want to see!
-aNOTHER graphic designer-designing t-shirts and buttons-puts up with me not knowing what I want, but knowing what I don't like......
-an engineer-designing my official website-puts up with my complete lack of knowledge in this area.
-anyone who offered monetary help toward my recording studio time- NUF SAID!
-a free place to stay this summer when I'm home.
-a friend-offered to help fund the duplication of the EP- Out of nowhere!
-a friend-went to the glasses store with me to pick out these glasses after I had been 80 times and left with nothing. :)
-anyone who has offered to open up your home to me and invite friends to please maybe hopefully like my music.
All of these things and many others do not go unnoticed by me. THANK YOU! *long, awkward hug from me* haha

So I've been thinking of this Living Room Tour since January. I didn't know how I could do it with my full time job. With that obstacle out of the way and little exposure at this point, I hope I get to meet friends of friends who I wouldn't otherwise meet by playing in living rooms across the nation. I sent out emails to people I thought might be interested. I can't remember how many I sent out, but I've received about 40 positive responses! Again, I'm overwhelmed by your support. The plan at this point is to do as many as I can through the end of August. As soon as the final "tour" is set, I'll post a schedule of what cities I will be in and when.

I'm scared to tell you the date I would like to have the EP release just yet because I've had so many things thrown off for various reasons. As soon as I can say it with confidence, I will.

My friend in New Orleans is moving mid July so I am going down there this week to play a living room concert AND a gig in New Orleans before my actual EP release! I'll be playing an hour set at Neutral Grounds on Thursday, July 8th, at 10pm!

Just to give you an idea, I have dates confirmed for the tour in Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas so far......and that's just a couple days after sending the date possibilities!

Thanks for putting up with my shenanigans! Happy 4th of July!!!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I've been missing her for months.....

So it's 1:45am I was lying in bed, lights out, ready for sleep. My eyes are wide open. This is the first night in my 27 years to go to sleep without my grandmother alive somewhere in the world. She's been leaving for awhile. My Dad called last night to say that she would probably pass in her sleep. It was difficult to fall asleep. It seemed like falling asleep was equivalent to letting her go. Whew! I promise this whole post won't be sad.

I'm afraid I'll get some of the facts wrong, but hopefully the overall message will be heard. My grandmother was born in 1922, Frances Elizabeth Bland. She married James Smith Starks and had four children. My father, John Bland Starks, is one of them. Gamma, as my siblings and I call her, started college at the age of 16. She graduated and became a math teacher. Oh, I wish I could remember how old she was when she retired from teaching. Let's just say she had a long career. After retiring, she tutored students in math into her 70's I believe. We looked at some of her calendars, and she kept herself SO busy. Whether it was Bridge Club, delivering Meals on Wheels, working at the hospital gift shop, or cooking for church functions, she was the epitomy of "involved." My sister found something she wrote about herself at the age of 84, and she recorded that she was still walking two miles every day.

Thanks to Gamma, I am a vicious card player and can count up the points in my hand like a pro. :c) I loved listening to her count up her hand. It went something like "5 is 22 is 37 is 78 is...I have 138," and it was always right. She talked to her sister, Maggie Lou, every day til she passed a few years ago. She loved the color blue and would often say, "Well, idn't that purdy." I love the way she said pretty (purdy). She touched many lives through teaching and tutoring alone, but our family is all positively affected by her. She's been the matriarch of our family since I've been in the world. I don't remember a Christmas morning ever not at her house in Arkansas. I've been fortunate to be in a family that places an importance on tradition and gathering together: Christmas at Gamma's, Easter at Aunt Martha's and Uncle John's, Labor Day in Hot Springs, Thanksgiving at Uncle Rick's and Aunt Sara's

I love knowing my extended family so well. I love family trees. I find when I'm stressed out I go through our family tree in my head. Is that strange? Maybe so....but I love it. I'm fighting myself to keep from writing one up right now and scanning it in as an attachment to this post.

Frances Elizabeth Starks will be missed, but she's so happy right now. Of that, I am very certain. I can still see the way her face looked when she laughed. I should draw that face so I always remember it.

I've lost a few other things in the past few weeks. I moved out of my house and no longer have my full-time job. I am attempting to make the mental transition from music as a hobby to music as a career. I WILL make the transition a reality thanks to the help of so many talented friends and supportive fans. So many of you have offered your skills toward this endeavor. So many of you have said, "Go for it." Elly Swope of Focus!Focus! recently told me, "I can't not do this," in regards to pursuing music. I agree. I'm going for it. Thanks for coming with me.

Sorry the last couple of posts have been heavy. I am extremely excited about life these days, but with that comes some healthy fear and due to recent events some mourning as well. Updates on the EP soon :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This really isn't a "good" time for me......

Whew guys! It's been awhile as usual. It always seems to be around a month between each post. Life has been so.........different the last few months than the few years before it. I don't know where to start. Well, for one I haven't included much about my faith in this blog up to this point. Get ready because this post is all about my heart, and God is all around and in my heart. I'll try to revise what I'd like to share because I'm afraid I have the gift or curse of long-winded...ness. I love details so I expect others to want to hear them all as well. haha So I'm keeping that in mind just for you. :c)

At the beginning of April, my parents updated all of us (the sibs) on my grandmother's health. She has been "slowing down" slowly for the past few years or so. She just turned 88 in April and has been sharp sharp sharp her whole life. She taught me almost every cards and dominoes games I know currently. And she's quite the competitor so I've also learned from HOW she plays. It makes for pretty rowdy family gatherings. :c) Ok bunny trail of details I know..... So in April we found out that in removing some fluid from her lungs, cancer was found. She has continued "slowing down" but quickly over the last few months. She still recognizes us, but isn't really there much of the time anymore. My Dad's whole side of the family has been focused on her. A few weeks later, I received the call that my Aunt Frances had been taken to the hospital and wasn't expected to live. I'm still not exactly sure what happened in her brain (a brain aneurysm maybe?), but she didn't make it. I've always called her Aunt Frances, but she's actually my Dad's cousin (grandmother's sister's daughter). Uncontrollable tears flooded out for the remainder of that day. So now, I've been confronted with the horror of saying goodbye quickly or not really at all versus the intense pain and confusion of saying goodbye slowly or not really at all. As we covered in the last post, I avoid saying a proper goodbye in most cases. When I know it's coming though, I tend to filter or dampen my emotions to the point that I wonder how much I really do care for the person. When it's a complete surprise, everything comes out in an exhaustive, real expression, which hurts but reminds me how much I really do care for people. meh so we have that intensity going on in the family realm.

I've also been completely unsettled with where I am right now, but I'm still here and have no specific opportunities or direction to go elsewhere. I'm not just speaking in a geographical sense either. I love going to new places so I have to be constantly aware of that desire in order to really make sense of how to best glorify God with my journey because that's ultimately what brings me the most joy and all I want to do. The only direction that has been consistent since January is to finish this EP.

On that note *wink wink*, I never anticipated how difficult it would be to complete this EP AND how difficult it would be to call it finished? I've tried to be really positive about it in status updates and tweets, and it is positive, and I'm SO excited somewhere in here. :c) I think it has turned out really well, but the truth is that it's alot of my heart over the past few years. I mean why do it if it's not real, right? I've just really been confronted with how much of a process artists go through as they release albums. I've noticed it in other artists' music, but am extremely aware of it now. This is just the beginning. I have to let go of the fear that it will be misunderstood or even disliked because it will, but it doesn't change anything about where it came from in me. It makes me think of a lyric by Ani DiFranco, "I build each one of my songs out of glass so you could see me inside of them I suppose, Or you could just leave the image of me in the background I guess, And watch your own reflection superimpose."

Anyway, the most recent change happened today! I've been getting kind of freaked out by my neighbor. She rings my doorbell really late at night with strange things to say, and has "met" me three or four times. That would be okay if I just thought she was a lonely lady that needed to talk, but she has "shady" male characters hanging around her front porch at all hours of the evening. Sorry to use so many quoted words. I'm sure that gets annoying. All that to say, I've been wanting to put in a thirty day notice, but with all this "where am i supposed to be" uncertainty I have yet to do so. A few months ago I had discussed with my landlord possibly moving out at the end of May. He apparently remembered that conversation and called me today to confirm if I was moving out May 31st. I'm moving out May 31st. (See that, I revised out some details there ;) Let's count that up folks, yes, moving out in 6 days and probably to a studio so need to sell some things. Life is crazy. I'm confident this was the right decision. I kind of like craziness.

Ugh! I had great intentions to write about my Aunt's funeral in this blog, which would have been insanely more about God and my heart, but this is already so long! Maybe I'll break my cycle and post again before next month. I'm going to a friend's house to listen to the latest mix on her really nice stereo before I give them the okay to send the EP off for mastering. Every comment here, on youtube, post on my wall, text message of encouragement, view of my videos, subscription to my videos, is deeply felt by this extremely sensitive and sentimental girl. Thank you for believing in me and being SO PATIENT!!!! :c)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Story of Tolmi.....

I adopted Tolmi exactly three years ago as of Sunday, April 11th. This is the earliest picture I have of him. I was living in Memphis and for a few months visited Petco every Saturday I could to look at the dogs up for adoption from Guardian Angel Pet Rescue. I spent a few months deciding if I wanted that added responsibility of taking care of a pet. I have always had pets growing up. I can't remember a time when we didn't own at least one pet whether indoor or outdoor. My whole family has always been animal-lovers. My Dad used to take my sister, brother, and I to the Humane Society in Nebraska every Saturday when we were little. For some reason that humane society had horses as well as other animals. I remember we used to feed the horses sugar cubes!! I don't really understand why that was a good idea.....haha Anyway, my sister currently has two dogs, my brother has 4 dogs, 3 cats, a gerbil and a guinea pig, and my parents have two dogs, a cat, and take care of two horses on our land for a friend.

I remember seeing Tolmi at Petco that fated Saturday. haha I held him in my lap, and realized I was afraid to put him down because I didn't want anyone else to snatch him up. I talked to the couple fostering him, and they let me take him for an overnight just to make sure it was a good fit. We went to the park the next day and I snapped this picture of us. The couple fostering him called him "Lonnie," because he wandered up onto their "lawn" one day. When they saw him from far off, they thought he was a cat. When he got closer, they realized he was just really emaciated and flea and tick-filled. The shelter guessed he was maybe 10 weeks old only to find out from the vet he was actually 4 months old but extremely malnourished. My sister and brother-in-law sent me an early birthday present to pay his adoption fee. In the check memo, my sister wrote "For Lonnie from the Lawn."

I decided to name him Tolmi. In modern Greek, that means "boldness," or at least I hope it does...haha

A few weeks after adopting Tolmi, I got a job offer in Springfield. My parents were nice enough to keep Tolmi while I transitioned into my new place and job. This pic was from when Mom and I met up to make the hand off. He grew so much in one month. I could hold him under my arm with one hand when I first got him. Tolmi is a mix but most vets have called him a Catahoula/Pit Mix. Apparently, Catahoulas are bred in Louisiana to run down wild pigs.....and Pits, well you know how stout they typically are. So he's a strong guy!!! Here's rough and tough, protector Tolmi (left).

It's funny because I had a boxer before I had Tolmi, and they are so different! My boxer wanted to literally be in my lap every time I sat down on the couch. Tolmi is much more independent. He always wants to know where I am in the house so he'll run into whatever room I'm in, look at me, and then go to sleep in his bed in the livingroom or look out the window.

He LOVES to ride in the car, which has been so nice since I have had to travel with him so often. All I have to do is say, "You wanna go with me?" and he starts doing the kidney dance and runs to the front door. I have tested out other questions, and he does not respond the same..... If I say, "Hungry?" he perks his ears up like in the above picture and cocks his head to the side. On long trips, I pray aloud alot in my car. It's great thinking and reflection time. Although Tolmi isn't overly attentive, it's kind of insane how he notices when I'm sad. On several occasions if I happen to start crying in the car, he will move over closer to me, put his paw on my lap, and stare up at me. One time I remember him licking a tear off my face.......NOT EVEN KIDDING!!

I always think of what type of person he would be if he was a human, and I think he'd be a "cool kid," which to me is a popular kid in high school ya know. This is funny because I am the quirky, band nerd in high school kind of person so we're a funny pair, and he cops his "I am SO much cooler than you," attitude sometimes. haha He is very, very social and loves people AND dogs! I'm so happy he isn't aggressive with other dogs. Here he is with my parents' little Cairn Terrier, Skye. He could drag him around like a mop, but they're good friends.
Tolmi and I have been through alot in 3 years. Tolmi's independence gets the best of him in his habit of getting out of fences and running way. One time in particular, a friend was visiting and she opened the front door to put my guitar on the front porch. Tolmi ran out the front door, and I was so conflicted with letting her know I wasn't upset with her and being terrified that Tolmi would get hit by a car. Every time he runs away, I find that as I frantically shout his name and run after him I am simultaneously trying to prepare myself for losing him. As I run toward him, I am running away from him in my mind. I do this with people as well. If I know you are leaving soon, I will put unnecessary distance between us because I dislike "goodbyes" so much. I even avoid saying goodbye in big groups at social events. It's pretty ridiculous. I will stand at the door and just say my salutation into the room not directed at a specific person and then slip out. haha I'm trying to learn how to NOT anticipate the end of things in general. This is a perfect situation for the phrase "work in progress."

So cheers to me and Tolms!! Through the years, he has acquired several terms of endearment. (Tolmi, Tolms, Tolmzers, Tolmster, Tolm, Buddy, Boobers, Boobert, Boober, BuddyBear, Sweeta, SweetaBear, SweetaWeeda, Weedo (combo of Sweeta and Weirdo), SweetBear, Sweet) I never thought I would do the silly names thing, but all these names just come out of my mouth!! Tolmi has helped me learn alot about responsibility, patience, and love. He's snoring in his chair as I write this. :c) Adopt a dog from a shelter if you like dogs and can afford it. Tolmi has been a huge blessing to me!

I'm not really big on the "pics of dogs with their owners" thing, but my friend, Jennifer Rodick took this of us one day when she was doing a full photo shoot for me. I'm happy I have it because we are buddies, and it's good to have pictures with your buddies. ;)
Check out Jen's blog of her amazing pics. http://imagesbyjen.blogspot.com/

I'm playing at the Bridging the Gap Event on Saturday 4/24 at 4:30pm. The event will be going on until 11pm, and proceeds go to the Potter's House. It will be held at the Bear Paw on the MSU campus. On May 1st and 2nd, I'm playing at the ArtsFest on Walnut Street. Saturday, I play from 1:30-2:30 and Sunday 4:00-5:00 at the Coffeehouse Stage. Come support the Arts!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Headphones and Clouds

I often have this paranoia that my headphone plug will come partially unplugged from my iPhone and I will be left jamming out with my headphones in while my playlist is playing out for all to hear. Listening to music with headphones is a tiny escape. Because I'm plugging my ears from hearing the outside world, it creates the sensation that I'm not really there.

When I was younger, I used a similar thought process at night when trying to go to sleep. If I got scared, I would close my eyes and lay as still as possible. I convinced myself that if I couldn't see the monsters or bad guys that they couldn't see me either. I was safe because I wasn't seeing....

I'm kind of living in a cloud at the moment. I recently went to Malaysia, which requires a whole separate post but I flew through Beijing. There is so much pollution there that you can't even see the planes depart from inside the airport. I bet if you walk around in that pollution you can't see but a few feet in front of you at a time. The people we could see outside were all wearing masks over their noses and mouths. If I stay in this cloud, I have the excuse of being "undecided" or "unsure" or whatever other procrastination method I might use. If I take a step in any direction, everyone sees me step out of the cloud AND I can see the consequences of my choice. I kind of feel like I'm experiencing some sort of vertigo or "lost in the forest" kind of thing.

"she crawls out on a limb
and begins to build a home
and it's enough just to look around
and know she's not alone" from "up up up up up up" by Ani DiFranco

So you can find me in a cloud somewhere jamming out to some embarrassing pop song playing at max volume out loud with my headphones securely plugged in. I might even have my eyes closed thinking you can't see me...

I'm makin' a move soon.....I'll get out of this cloud yet!

Hopefully playing at ArtsFest! Stay tuned!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Going home.....

So I finally posted the video requested by Dominic. It's a tough song!

My parents surprised me AGAIN at my gig last weekend. So supportive and sweet! I mentioned when they were here that I need to come home and get my taxes done soon.....
Dad calls me on Monday to say, "You're booked to play a gig at Sweetbay Coffee on Friday night." Sweetbay Coffee is in my hometown. haha So I'm traveling home to Arkansas this weekend. Somehow, I have yet to play a gig in my hometown so ya know....it's time. :c) I'm from a pretty small town. Dad convinced the owner to keep the coffee shop open from 8:30-10:30 because I couldn't make it into town until then....haha yep working LATE on a Friday night ;) ;)

It's funny because the only singing Van Buren probably knows me for is singing with the high school jazz band and singing the national anthem at football and basketball games my senior year. Oh and winning the Crawford County Talent Contest (in 2000 I think) haha but no one probably even knows that!

I didn't even pick up a guitar until 2002, I guess, so I've played and sang for my church family sometimes when I'm home but that's it. Van Buren will experience an updated version of Little Miss Lee Ellen tonight. haha I'm looking forward to being home this weekend. :c) Yay home sweet home!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Feel Change Coming......

I love mixed cd's. I love getting to know someone better through listening to the music they prefer. I don't like to receive a complete copied album of an artist. :( It makes me sad. I have received them from people when I am given them without notice. If you ask me if I want you to make a copy of an album for you, I will say, "No." haha For some reason in my little twisted brain, I am ok with receiving a mix of songs because I think, "Well if I like a specific song, I would still buy the artist's album." haha I know I know......
Anyway, a friend gave me this song by Lisa Gungor, "Change." I love lyrics. It's probably the first thing I listen to when I hear a new song. Lyrics are only slightly trumped by good harmonies. I blank out on lyrics when I hear solid harmonies. An excerpt from this song:

"I feel change coming.
All my surroundings are telling me something.
One season's ending, but another's beginning.
Somehow it's similar to how You're changing me.
Slowly, I'm feeling change.
I feel change coming."

Spring is certainly coming, but something is changing in my life too. Alot of things are truly "up-in-the-air" right now. I have a few opportunities I'm considering, but I can't help but wonder if maybe I just have some form of "cabin fever." I don't want to mistake a "Ready to Run" moment for a "Dare you to Move" opportunity though. I'll let you know.....

I'm scheduling more time with VanSmith Studio, and need to write some thank you notes and send out some more postcards!! I haven't forgotten about those recent postcard requests!!

So I'm playing at Heroes Coffee again this Friday, February 26th at 8pm. Again I am blessed to have the magnificent guitar stylings of Matt Harp to accompany me, and doubly blessed to have Matt Stufflebeam show us some mad skills on percussion as well! I might have TWO background vocalists for harmonies too! And you know how I love harmonies.... :c) Come if you can! Heroes knows how to make a good latte......and i'm kind of a coffee snob......

and a video for you requested by my friend, Dominic.....to be uploaded later this evening because the built-in mic at the potter's house sounds like I'm in a wind tunnel. See you Friday night??
My YouTube channel is just leeellenstarks for any new readers! :c)

Monday, February 8, 2010

A macaroni necklace from me to you.....

Ok so I have been wanting to blog for awhile but sometimes my hours just don't add up. Anyway, SO this post is all about feeling like a kid as an adult. I feel like I've been humbled in several ways over the past month. Sometimes it felt like bowing my head out of honor and respect for being so blessed and other times it felt like taking a face plant into horse manure (an experience I have had in real time haha).
In the past month, I have had a few gigs that have surprised me with packed rooms and captive audiences and some that have surprised me with a profound lack of interest.
I've had two very different, but both great, experiences in studios. The recording I have continued at VanSmith Studio locally has been great because I am able to bring close friends, record exactly what I have written in its original form, and there's a comfort there that my creation is loved just the way it is, which is humbling in its own right. Support out the wazoo AND the acceptance of something I can't seem to call finished on my own but still offer in its unfinished state. Recording at Red Tree Recording Studio in Houston was humbling in a completely different way. I flew to Houston all by myself. I went into the studio to record something that came from somewhere in me (ridiculously cheesy I know) with an extremely talented guy I met once and communicated a few times with via our friend, the internet, and three other extremely talented musicians I had never met before that day. For those of you that may be past this intro phase with me, I am quite quiet a) with new ridiculously talented people such as everyone I know and b) in groups of such people. So there I was, confronting intense feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and oh yes....good 'ol shyness, all the while trying to be present and involved in this new-to-me process of recording a spec recording. I felt like a toddler in comparison to their experience and expertise, but they were amazing at helping me feel comfortable in that situation. This great experience was different from VanSmith because I had other people speaking into what I had begun, trying to help me complete what I can't seem to finish by offering their unique talents. I look forward to sharing "A House to Clean" with you guys, but I can't yet. I've been communicating with Jeffery, owner of Red Tree, and tweaking the mix. What a great guy! Remember, he's working with a toddler here, in terms of studio experience. Humbling humbling humbling!

And my most recent humbling experience was definitely childlike and definitely a face plant of sorts. It reminded me of the movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and how the youngest son makes her a macaroni necklace. I'm sure he felt really good about making it for her and hoped she'd like it and wear it. Well, my experience gives an intensified meaning to "Pride comes before the fall." I'm embarrassed to write about it because it WAS terribly embarrassing but also because I don't want anyone to write pity comments about it. So why am I going to share it you might ask? I'm afraid if I don't share it I might stop making "macaroni necklaces" for people. :(

Ok, so here it goes......I love noses. haha how weird can this story get from that intro? No, I love noses. I think they are unique and quite intriguing. This has led to an interest in faces and family resemblances. Then, I went to Greece for a semester in an architecture program (sidenote: I was not an art or architecture major....yeah try and figure that one out!) and we had to draw EVERYTHING. We would literally go to a city and our teacher would say, "Okay, you have two hours to draw." In our program, I slowly but surely realized that in all our lecture classes that semester, all the architecture students were drawing other classmates during lectures. I quickly picked up this habit, and realized that I vividly remember all the places I drew in Greece as well as all the faces I drew. All of that said to bring us to the present and tell you that if I like you, I want to draw your face.......I want to know it that well. Does that make sense?
So, I recently drew a "lee ellen original" haha of a friend's face and included it in a project I created for her. I have rarely given people pictures I've drawn. I do realize it is not a um natural gift I have.....but my friend opened the gift in front of other people and when it got to my drawing a girl said, "whoah" and they all laughed at it. (GRAND PAUSE for effect)
I felt like the little girl in the picture up there, but didn't have the lack of age to hide behind in this situation. My macaroni necklace was mocked and then they didn't know what to do because it was their gut reaction and my gut reaction was fifteen shades of embarrassment! oh you guys.....oh you guys.........I had high hopes for the reception of that gift, and face planted into some manure because I am not a sketch artist. My friends weren't wrong for responding the way they did. What I drew is beautiful to me because it's my best attempt at "knowing" a friend's face as picasso-esque as it may be. I know that friend's face now though.....and I do love her nose. :c) All of this embarrassment to say, I won't stop drawing your faces. You may never see them.......well maybe.....if I think you can take it.......would you wear a macaroni necklace with an evening gown? I hope so.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting Back to the Definition of Romantic

So I think I've told you guys before that I'm a "hopeless romantic".......well I've always known I am in my thought life anyway. I usually think of more than one way that I could be surprised or "romanced," I guess, in just about every situation in life.

Seriously, I recall while living in Memphis and working in a clothing store in the mall, I would often find myself refolding the entire jean wall, yes wall, and daydreaming that I would look to the entrance of the store and see a certain guy, living more than one state away from me at the time, standing at the entrance with flowers and a smile.

Or that I'd go to see the Swell Season in concert, and out of nowhere Glen Hansard would say, "Now, we'd like to pick someone to come up and sing this one with us. You there.......in the 157th row yes you.....who looks just like everyone else. Come sing with us." And then of course I would fall in love with an Irish guy in his tour crew, and that would be that......in my romantic mind. :c) I know! I'm still just a little girl wearing plastic, dress-up heels, and my mom's makeup in dreamy, swoony, stomach fluttery ways.

So lately I've noticed that I'm single....I've noticed :c) But I've felt so swoony and seen romance in new and different situations so I felt compelled to look up the definition of romantic.

Romantic-1. fanciful; impractical; unrealistic
2. imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.
3. characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one's beloved.
4. displaying or expressing love or strong affection.
5. of, relating to, or constituting the part of the hero especially in a light comedy <--haha the "hero" true though!

So romance without the falling in love part? yeeeessssss Here are a few "romantic" things I have noticed recently:

My parents surprised me by driving 3 hours to see my gig Friday night, and then drove 3 hours back home after I finished. They got home at 2am and my Dad had to help with a breakfast at 7:30am!! So this one falls under definitions 1 and 3. Impractical and unrealistic, expressing love and strong affection. Definitely romantic, but we wouldn't typically call it that because it's not a "significant other" I'm talking about.

When in Dallas for a wedding a few months ago, I decided on my drive to Dallas that I would drive six additional hours roundtrip on to Houston to see a friend and visit a recording studio. This one falls under definitions 1 and 2. I felt impractical, but also adventurous and spontaneous! I was DOING something romantic, but it wasn't necessarily FOR anyone.

And just today, I had a realization that I am rejecting some possible romantic moments in my life. Again, try to refrain from only thinking of romantic in terms of "boy meets girl." I borrowed some equipment from a male friend recently and returned it today. The equipment is rather heavy. Keep in mind I have A) been living on my own for the past two years and B) am single. I have gotten used to "pulling my own weight" if you will. I felt like since I borrowed the equipment, I should return it......all by myself. When I asked where I should put the equipment, he said he would take care of it. When I responded with a, "no no I'll get it..." kind of comment, he said, "Lee Ellen, I'm not trying to challenge you. I know you are big and strong." Instantly, memories of me telling him how I had chucked my 50 lb. dog over a fence came rushing back. I was caught though. I would like to believe that I just wanted to selflessly and responsibly return the equipment, but I wanted to put on my Miss Independent hat while I did it. By doing so, I would've missed Definition 2: chivalry

Sidenote: I think many of us young women have lost the respect we should have for the men in our lives. Some of that respect can be bestowed in simply letting men be chivalrous! Don't give up on me guys! I'm working on it. I'm working especially hard for one of you out there......but I'm not sure who yet.... :c)

Look for the romance in your life! Even when you aren't having a "boy meets girl" time, things are romantic.....they are!!!

This is a pic of me at VanSmith Studio on Saturday!! Thanks to Jennifer Rodick! http://imagesbyjen.blogspot.com

Tomorrow: driving to Maryville to play at Northwest Missouri State University
Thursday: flying to Houston to work with Red Tree Music Group all weekend

Martin Luther King, Jr., he was a romantic guy certainly in more ways than one. G'night!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010!

Well Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I've had on my to do list to update this and put up a new video for a while now. I probably won't get a new video done for a few weeks because......ALOT OF EXCITING STUFF IS HAPPENING! But before that, this picture is of my sister, Sarah Beth, and I singing some Christmas songs for the family at my grandmother's house on Christmas morning. Apparently we were singing an "o" sound of some sort at this specific moment. :c) I love singing with my sister. There is a deep familiarity and comfort there that just makes it click every time. I'm going to make this a quick post so I can continue getting ready for my crazy next few weeks. Here's the plan:

January 15th- gig at Heroes Coffee 8-10:30pm featuring Matt Harp on guitar

January 16th- recording all day with David Smith at VanSmith Studio woohoo!

January 19th- driving up to Maryville, MO to play a gig at Northwest Missouri State University from 6:30-8pm

January 21st- flying to Houston

January 22nd- preproduction in the studio and Songwriter's Night in Houston at 7:30pm

January 23rd- recording all day with Red Tree Music Group

January 24th- visit Katie's church and fly back home

WHEW! I feel so blessed! Thank you for your endless support. I will hopefully have a little 5 song EP to distribute when I finish at VanSmith Studio! Yay for a busy and fun January! Now, back to practicing for the gig Friday night. See ya there!