Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Caution: Not for the Faint-hearted!!

**The reading of this post may cause convulsions, vomiting, and/or night terrors**

Let me just tell you a few things. Several readers that know me have found it comforting that I blog exactly the way I talk. Well, this blog will be no exception. Sometimes I say things that some find inappropriate or taboo. Consider yourself warned, but this is not a disclaimer....I claim these statements. :)

So Tolmi's favorite plundering item to find is the bathroom trash. Yes, we're going there. I have lived with him four years and therefore have a trash with a lid in the bathroom. My poor roommate has been learning this lesson the hard way because her bathroom trash has no lid. He's very ninja-like in his stealth speed, jetting into her room oh so quietly and digging til he finds the "prize" item. He has to leave the crime scene quickly though so he carries his (every word I'm thinking of right here grosses me out) ________ into a well-traveled area concealed neatly inside his mouth. It's only when he decides to disassemble it that the full horror of the situation is realized. I have reached into Tolmi's mouth for many things I really don't want to touch. Partly because I don't know what they might do to his insides, but mostly because I don't really want to see them come out the other end. I distinctly remember pulling one of these items out of his mouth yesterday because a few minutes later he wanted me to pet his face and I said, "No, you just sucked on a bloody tampon." Yep, that's what I said. A sentence I never planned on saying in my life.

Later that afternoon at the dog park, Tolmi starts to do his "business" as we call it. I notice about six inches of "business" hanging from his bottom as he runs from the place he squatted. He's freaking out a bit because this doesn't usually happen. This causes his muscles to flex and more "business" comes out. If you can imagine at this point, Tolmi has about two feet of "business" in a rope or monkey tail of sorts hanging out of his bottom. He is frollicking and spinning around trying to chase his second "tail" to disconnect it. I am holding the tools at the dog park commonly used to pick up after your dog. One looks like a scoop attached to a pole and the other looks like a hoe. I'm running around after him to hopefully with some athletic talent I don't possess masterfully detach the "business" from his bottom with the hoe tool. He stopped long enough for me to do this the first time. But.....it happened THREE times!!! Luckily I guess, somehow he worked the other two out himself. What a spectacle though. Tolmi growing a second tail at the dog park three times and me, running after him saying, "What did you eat?" My roommate later confirmed that he ate a trash item before she could retrieve it. I know this happens in some form to most pet owners at one time or another. My sister's German Shepherd once ate a whole roll of paper towels and her bottom was like a dispenser for the next few days. My brother had a cat that got into some dental floss.....and yeah....ew. Oh Tolms......the things we do for love. haha

So I've been driving around in Los Angeles. The other day I was thinking, "Hey, I think I'm starting to relax behind the wheel here now." I went into this whole thought process about how crazy it is that we all trust each other driving around in these huge metal boxes. We trust that we will drive well and not cause accidents, but even moreso we trust that total strangers will follow the rules enough to not crash into us. Or that someone won't throw in the towel and decide to play bumper cars on purpose. Not kidding, as I'm thinking this I'm driving on a four lane street. I'm driving south in the left lane. A convertible traveling north suddenly pulls out of the north-bound left lane into my south-bound lane. I went into frozen mode for a second and he PASSES me in the south-bound right lane!!! The overpass to get on the 101 was right behind me so I don't know how that all turned out, but WHAT??? He looked so calm! I don't know if I explained this accurately, but it was one of those "Am I awake right now?" moments.

In other news, I'm making great first impressions left and right in my role as barista at M Street Coffee these days. True story/true conversation:

Customer orders her regular and places her backpack on the counter to retrieve money to pay.

Me: Threeeee Twenty-fiiiiiiive (in a thick Southern accent)
Customer: (stares/glares at me for a moment) Are you being an asshole right now?
Me: What? I just said three twenty-five.
Customer: Oh I thought you looked at my bag and said, "reeeeeally expensive baaaaag." (rude tone, thick with sarcasm) I mean I know it's a cheap bag, but. I was like wow, they changed the overall vibe here with the remodel. (sidenote: we just reopened from being closed two weeks for a remodel)
Me: (completely blushing with embarrassment) Oh no no no. (Laughing off the awkwardness)

Awesome first impression.

I told my boss and the next time the customer came in she brought it up to her. We all laughed about it. Mine was a partially scared laugh. The customer commented on how it was so strange because she literally thought I said, "really expensive bag," then made eye contact with her, and smiled sweetly. She said she thought, "What is this chick a serial killer?" Yikes! haha That dang creepy cute factor follows me wherever I go. So yeah, don't you worry about me....I'm making creepy, rude impressions all over the place.

Speaking of creepy, I do not watch scary movies. It's like knowing eating cashews makes you break out in hives. Who would eat cashews on purpose if they know hives will inevitably show up? I cannot handle scary movies, even stupid scary. My imagination runs wild with plot lines and twists and eventually everything scary that could happen in and around my life has crossed my mind. I watched a movie from my roommate's DVD collection recently that I thought would be a sad story with a redemptive ending from reading the back. NOT SO! Suddenly a twist in the story includes a serial killer and several graphic images. Where is the "trash" file in my brain? Not only was it scary, the ending doesn't ever resolve. That's the only hope for me in these situations. If I start watching something scary, I have to watch to the end in hopes that resolution occurs. Meh, anyway.......no scary movies for me please. I'm sick of getting hives!

Next things on my to do list:
1) Gig this Saturday in Bell Gardens, CA. I don't really know what to expect. They booked me off GigSalad (http://www.gigsalad.com/lee_ellen_starks_springfield). And yes, I've thought of every horrible possible scenario due to my recent cinematic undertaking. Don't worry, I will walk in there mace first. It's another night with several musicians so I look forward to meeting more people!
2) Befriend a person living in the building next door with a pool in their courtyard. I've heard scary stories about summer in the Valley.....
3) Attend a Songwriting Workshop! I've never had any formal training in songwriting so I'm excited and terrified about this! It's on May 4th so coming up!
4) Embark on a new project with some new friends creating a marketable product that involves me getting out the old sewing machine. :D :D :D
5) Stop eating Easter candy......stop.........ok now stop.....shoot

See I ended with candy so it was okay, right? Whoa, I just read over this. This post makes me think of that time when snakes started flying out of my lawn mower! This blog post=definition of a scatterbrain


Ok go watch this video. It'll relax you from my silliness. I love the part at minute 3:10. :) Goodnight!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dream a Little Dream....


video

I started a long post with this, but......I'm feeling quiet.

I'm on a mission out here.....a treasure hunt.....an adventure.......a quest....and it's taking me down different paths than I expected. Nice paths though where the trees bend over the road on each side, and I can see the stars out (even in LA) while walking in the cool of the evening.....I like puzzles, but I also like surprises.....so I'm trying to balance out my logic and anticipation of what's around the bend. Nice paths though.

I don't know what you like, but I wanted to give you a present. I decided I would put this little good night video only on this blog. I hope you like it. Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Leah Lynn, Lee Jane, Ellen, Lou Ellen, Lee Something......

I'm the new person all the time these days. I've shaken so many hands and clearly enunciated my name too many times to count in the past month. I'm here.....in California. Too much has happened since I last blogged, and I keep meaning to record a brief (haha right?) summary of it here. Honestly, it has become too daunting. I'm too chronological and detailed and we'd easily have a novel in the works. To save time on writing, perfecting, editing, revising, editing, sending to publishers, cover artwork, publishing, printing, pricing, distribution......I'm just gonna give you the good stuff. Here are a few of my favorite things about my life in LA so far.
1)My Dad came to my rescue in Amarillo. Okay this was pre-LA, but certainly the reason I made it here. He literally wore his "Dad's Rescue Service" shirt depicted on
the right. Long story of car trouble, but he drove all night to come help. What amazing parents I have. This was the tip of realizing how hard it would actually be to leave all my friends and family. The Grand Canyon (below),as amazing as it was/is, seemed to further symbolize the growing distance.
2) I have a new roommate! I had somehow forgotten what a quirky, okay really just weird at times, social introvert I am. I was settled in to a community for years that knew my quirks and somehow forgot they do still exist and ultimately are quirks. She has put up with me with such grace. Living with someone truly is like having someone hold up a mirror. Eeeek! Communication IS key. It has been so great to be on this adventure with another person! Sometimes we just go, "We live in California now?!?"
3)Dog Parks or should I say Tolmi's ALL TIME FAVORITE thing about the move has been the dog park. It has been my
saving grace or my sanity saver or something. I think if I had waited one more day Tolmi would've literally climbed the walls of our apartment. I think I've mentioned before that I'm pretty sure in human form Tolmi would be jock or a cool kid. It's been fun to see him strut his stuff around the other dogs. Unfortunately, he tends to be the annoying one that humps all the dogs. Yeeeesh! I've been schooling myself abit in selflessness, and I've failed alot in the area of attitude. When Tolmi wants to pee, I'm not in Missouri where I can open a door and let him frollick in a fenced yard. I have to drag myself out of bed, clothe myself, shoe myself, leash Tolms, and grab my keys, my phone, and a poo bag all while Tolmi is doing the kidney dance around me. For those who know me well, this is quite alot of activity in my first fifteen minutes of the day. I'm still learning the selflessness lesson....but I love my Tolmers.
4) There's a house at the end of my alley. Our strip is mostly apartment buildings, but there is one house on the end. It has a garage that faces the alley. Often right before sundown, an older gentleman has the garage open revealing this beautiful old car. I know almost nothing about cars, but it looks like a Model T to my car-ignorant brain. I like to make up stories about he and the car as I walk by. I always try to make eye contact and say, "Hi," but he never looks up. Maybe some time I'll share one of those stories with you, but not now. :)
5) I love having my own bathroom. Most of you know baths are my stress reliever. I take one almost every night. So I need not explain much about loving my bathroom. It goes without saying for me. It's not an amazing bathroom, but I love it. Every night, I think about painting a sky scene on the high ceiling. Maybe when my painter friend comes to visit.
6) Walking to and from work. It's great thinking time and the scenery is obviously beautiful! I find myself often feeling pretty whimsical when outside here. I equally love the roof access in my building for this very reason. Here are a few of the palm trees that line the streets in my neighborhood.
7) Speaking of walking to work, I LOVE my new job. I love it because of the girls I work with though. They really make the place what it is. The vibe is so welcoming and home-y. It is such a blessing to get to call these girls friends. And the regulars are pretty awesome too. I am surrounded by creative people, and it's inspiring to say the least. Check out this place! www.mstreetcoffee.com If you live in LA, have a favorite coffee shop, and haven't been to M Street, you have not considered the best coffee shop in the area. And I'm a bit of a coffee snob after working in several cafes. When I moved to LA, I kept thinking, "I just need to find something to pay the bills right away." This place has already done so much more than "pay the bills." I can't say enough about my pleasant surprise in this part of life out here.

Ok there's so much more, but those are just a few of my favorite things. When I wait too long to write, I get very task oriented and lose the natural flow usually captured in recording a vivid experience in writing. To be honest, I fear this has happened here. As far as this list of my favorite things, I have watched The Sound of Music since childhood and still have a VHS of the movie. "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad" are some lyrics from a song in the movie. I have thought of this a couple of times during this transition, and it does help. This move to LA has been so good for the majority of all the parts. To tie in what I mentioned about realizing how hard it would be to move SO far from friends and family, I have been living that reality out for the last month. I have been confronted with the ache and loss of knowing and being known by people. I have completely started over in the friend area. I've done this several times in the past, but never with this much self awareness I guess. I know myself better today than any of my previous days. Due to this, I am keenly aware that I don't ever walk into a situation here without foundation to lay. Sure, some of it is just small talk with acquaintances, but most of it is "what do you..where do you....when did you...you like what?" My parents visited me recently, and I experienced that deep sigh kind of relaxation you have with people that know you.....really know you....without questions....it's already all been discussed. So for an introvert that loves quality time and quality conversation, I've been tapped out socially from meeting so many people but craving that deeper level stuff, ya know? Remembering all the good things listed above makes waiting for the friendships to develop bearable. :)

Quick interlude depicting one of my "pockets of shyness".....some musicians come regularly to the coffee shop. The owner introduced me to them as a singer/songwriter. They asked for my website so i wrote it down for them. The next week they came back for their Americanos. I assumed they had not checked out my website because the "no response" happens alot. As I handed one his drink, he said he checked out my website and that I have a great voice. I quickly shifted my eyes elsewhere, probably blushed, said "oh thanks...", and moved behind the espresso machine out of his line of vision. What am I, five?? Ugh, you'd think I'd never received a compliment before in my life! Professionalism, zero! Yikes! Where does that come from? So yes, one of my many "pockets of shyness" moments.

Here's to hoping I'm having more success in other music situations in this town.... I'm playing my first gig during an Artwalk in Newhall, CA on Thursday, April 7th at 5pm. I'll be at El Trocadero along with several other songwriters who will be performing throughout the evening.

All in all, I am safe, alive, and much more than well. I have my
heart set on recording some vivid experiences for you soon.....in word and in song. Thanks to everyone that has checked in on me via phone, skype, text, message, wall post, comment, etc. They have all been very timely and greatly appreciated. I make thank you gifts for you in my head, but I realize not everyone wants quilts, mixed tapes, and peanut brittle. I'm uploading a live performance on my youtube channel: leeellenstarks right now, but it's taking five years so set your watches for five years and check it. G'night!
ummmm........hm
Near the Griffith Observatory in LA