Thursday, April 25, 2013

Such is LIFE

My left foot is currently submerged in a cooler of ice and water.  I'm trying to distract myself from the discomfort by writing.  I'll get back to that explanation later.  It's been wedding season for me the last few months.  I traveled to New Orleans for the wedding of my childhood best friend.  We met at the age of five.  That's some history!  I sang a cappella as she walked down the aisle in Jackson Square.

  It was pretty special to see her be a bride.  She was the first friend I girl-geeked out with talking about weddings and boys via Barbies.  One year for Halloween, I dressed up as a bride.  She dressed up as one of the Disney princesses the same year.  I was never described as a tom-boy or any of the less girly-girl type comments when I was younger.  I actually told my mother as a young child that I only wanted to wear dresses because my brother wore pants and he was a boy.  Well well.  And I had an older sister who wore pants so I created that idea all by myself.  
This is a picture of Jennifer and I  circa. 1989ish.  We used to wear matching outfits and convince people that we were twins.  I'm so thankful to still be in touch with a friend I knew that long ago.  It's weird what you remember.  I remember that her room was lavender with a huge rainbow painted on it.  I remember eating those spicy cheese flavored fries you could get in a vending machine after gymnastics class.  I remember running from the living room couch in her house to the den couch with her schnauzer, Salty, chasing us while singing the Beach Boys, "Barbara Ann," at the top of our lungs. Well this would be a very long blog if I continued with all the random memories.  Anyway, I feel really blessed to have a friend of twenty-five years.  She's been one of my biggest fans musically since I sang alittle Martina McBride in my first talent contest about 15 years ago.  Anyway back to the present, I got to participate in a historical tradition of New Orleans called, "Second Line."  Police escorted the entire wedding through the French Quarter while a quartet led the parade.  It was an incredible experience.  I couldn't find a picture that really captured the excitement, but the bride and groom carry decorated umbrellas while the rest of the wedding party and guests shake handkerchiefs.
Less than a month later, I was in Kansas City at another wedding.  This was a friend from college.  I was blessed to play music with some great friends all through college.  The wedding was a reunion for us as much as a celebration for Chad and Erin.
Most of us have spread across the US geographically now.  Here's alittle sample of one of the songs we worked up for the wedding. It was still a work in progress during this take. Video Link hmmm good times and good memories unearthed during both weddings.  
Life is good.  I've been adventuring about, which brings me back to the beginning of this blog with me icing my foot.  I was walking Tolmi, stepped on some unlevel grass, and hit the ground last night.  I now have a massive swollen foot......I was walking Tolmi.....walking.  yep.

I've got a show coming up!  And I'm turning 30 next week.  Big things. Big times. Stay tuned.  I'll try to be funny next time. :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mom Jeans

So it happened......

I have hit that weird limbo area.  I'm 29.  When people find that out in LA, they say things like, "Hmmm well people in the music industry usually want to find new stars that are ages 17-22, so I don't know."  Or, "Well you look really young so maybe you could still make it."  I'm still 29.

I took a friend's child to an ice skating birthday party yesterday.  Me and two dads were the only adult ice skaters.  All the other adults just watched.  And the dads only skated because their kids needed help skating.  The little girl I brought skated circles around me.  I.......just wanted to skate.  So as I skated past the viewing window and looked in at all the moms I thought, "I am not there."  But then an eight year old boy started showing me all his cool skate moves and I thought, "Oh no, am I the weird adult creeping around the kids?"  And then three little girls skated by me and grabbed my hand and I'm suddenly having a blast  being pulled around the rink by a mob of children.  I went and hung out with the parents alittle while.  *crickets*  I couldn't do it.  It was one of those "Where do I belong," moments.  I don't fit with the parents/adults.  I fit a whole lot better with the kids but let's be's weird to be the adult hanging out with a bunch of kids.  WEIRD! 

What do I do with a heart that unexpectedly becomes more and more "mommy"-like as each day goes by but yet is so obviously not "mommy"-like?  Especially when nothing in the present suggests that opportunity will ever come around for me? How do I function appropriately in my single without children reality?  These are questions I never thought I'd ever feel prompted to ask myself.  I'd be a fun mom, though.  I'd be the mom that skates at the skating birthday parties.

Sheesh, am I gonna start wearing "mom" jeans?  Maybe I already do....moms usually don't know.

Even with these insane thoughts, I manage to come back to this verse regularly.
"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Proverbs 31:25

I can laugh about it right now! HA HA HA HA HA HAHAHAAHAHAHHAHA

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Kindness of a Bus Driver

I have a friend.  She is a young lady.  Not quite in the double digit ages.  I am blessed to hang out with her sometimes.  We play games, drink hot chocolate, sing, and talk mostly.  She weighs heavy on my heart because her mother is not an active part of her life and her father has never been around at all.  She has been raised by her grandmother.  God bless all you grandmas out there who have stepped up to raise little grandbabies.  So it weighs on my heart because she doesn't really have parents, but I'm noticing that it weighs on MY heart specifically.  I'm turning thirty this year.  If you do the math (she's below the age of ten), you'll notice it would be quite feasible for me to have a daughter that age.  I realize this blog post will probably send any interested male readers running for the hills.....but I.....don'    When I hang out with her, I feel all of these mother instincts kick in.  I didn't know that could just happen.  I feel my heart tearing into pieces when I want to reprimand her behavior but don't have that authority, and when I want her to crawl up in my lap and tell me the truth about tough things but we don't have that closeness.  It's a strange place to be, but wow to all you mamas out there.  Much respect.  Anyway, my little friend had a birthday recently.  The next time I hung out with her she was bubbling over to tell me this story.  She and her grandma ride the bus for transportation around this crazy city of LA.  She said that on her birthday, they waited at the bus stop through several buses for her favorite bus driver.  When she stepped on the bus, the bus driver announced to the entire bus that it was her birthday and the whole bus sang to her.  She was giddy as she told me the story.  She said, "It was all these people I didn't know.  I was so embarrassed."  All the while smiling from ear to ear.  She pulled out a tiny box and said, "And guess what he gave me.  I'll give you a hint.  It's alot of money.  Guess how much."  I just wanted to freeze frame her sweet face.  I saw in her smile and her lit up eyes that she felt a little more worthy and a little more valued than the day before.  A person in her life that at face value would seem to be nothing more than an "extra," if you will, got a few lines in this scene.  Unlike the movies though, we write the script in our lives.  We write our part anyway.  This bus driver chose to step into the spotlight and speak.  He spoke life over her by letting her know she was worthy to be remembered by remembering her name, and that her birth should be celebrated by giving a gift and leading the bus in singing to her.  That small action communicated to her heart that she has worth and value just by being exactly who she is.  All from the simple kindness of a bus driver.  She told me about all the gifts she received, but none were as impactful to her.  Never underestimate the impact you can have on a life.  I thank God for the people in my life who were/are willing to step out of the background into the spotlight and speak to me.  I wrote a song recently and the main line is, "I won't be silent. I won't keep quiet anymore."  So I'm working on speaking up.  It's worth it, guys. 

Truth, I almost typed, "You're worth it."  But then that led me to picturing myself with an over-sized wig on looking seriously into a camera lens for a Loreal commercial.  It ruined the momentum of the previous line.  I hope you'll accept a simple goodnight. G'night! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lloyd Doblers

My high school English teacher once wrote a comment at the end of my class journal entry, "Lloyd Dobler is the perfect guy for you."  I don't really know what that means.  I'm guessing everyone would say this character stands out as a "guy a lot of girls would want."  But what made him choose this specific guy?  Is it because most girls swoon and want to be with a Lloyd Dobler?  I tend to shy away from the guys all girls swoon over.  Shy being the operative word.  I just let them get attention from all the chatty girls while I quietly wonder if they would like it if I baked them a pie. :)

"This girl was different. This girl made me trust myself man. I was walking around feeling satisfied. Can you imagine that?" -Lloyd Dobler

I think I like this Lloyd Dobler guy.  I want to help a guy trust himself and encourage him until he feels satisfied.  I don't know if Lloyd Dobler is the "perfect guy" for me, but I think the vast majority of women who swoon over this character are onto something.
"She's gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen."
-Lloyd Dobler

Man, but what an honor it would be to get to try to take care of a man's heart.  I've heard from everyone in my life it's not easy, but seriously what an be trusted with someone's heart.  Those of you out there holding somebody's heart, consider the good you could do.

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."  Luke 12:48

Happy Valentine's Day!  Go kiss someone or make them a valentine or make them YOUR valentine!! Smooooch!! <3>

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Songwriters I Admire and Meet

So I had a last minute performance at Room 5 Lounge last night.   I found out a couple of days before the show that Emily Elbert was in the lineup to play the same night!  I was immediately extremely excited and nervous at the same time.  Click on her name to get to her website.  Check out her music.  She is so great! 

What's crazy is that I did a youtube cover of her song "All is Love" four years ago.  And then, there I was about to be playing on the same night at the same venue as her. Surreal!  I acted really silly when I met her and couldn't think of things to say.  Note that, if I like you I will probably be shy and giddy.  That goes for girls I admire as well as boys I like. :)  My brain can't even comprehend what she does on her guitar.  Look up her acoustic version of "Thriller." INSANE!

This is funny to me because I also linked my "I Can't Make You Love Me" cover to Tony Lucca's Youtube video.  And I met him last year at a gig at Room 5.

The best yet is that the first video I ever uploaded to Youtube is a cover of Kathleen Wilhoite's "Wish We Never Met."  I got a message on Youtube that said, "I like your cover of my Mom's song."  I wrote her back saying, "Are you telling me you are Kathleen Wilhoite's daughter?"  She wrote back confirming she was, but honestly I didn't believe her.  The next week Kathleen Wilhoite walks into the coffee shop where I work.  After we properly met, I said, "I love your music."  And she said, "Compliment received!"  She also confirmed that her daughter had her watch the video of my cover of her song.  Somehow I managed to not faint.  Craziness! Small world!

So the moral of these stories is that I hope I continue to meet the songwriters of the Youtube video songs I've covered.  Specifically Lori McKenna and Patty Griffin. :)  My heart just started beating fast when I typed that. EEEEE!

I wrote a new song and performed it last night.  It was loud.....on purpose.  Here's to more songs bumbling out. G'night!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Saturday mornings are busy at the coffee shop.  I often sing to myself when it gets crazy and I'm nervous about being slow for impatient customers. (Luckily, we don't have many impatient customers).  This is just one of my many weird habits.  So when I start to get frustrated, I try to think of a silly song or a happy song to psyche myself out of the bleh.  Today I used "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line.  I was wearing boots so I just stomped around behind the espresso machine.  This song has the lyrics "You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise."  When driving around, this is definitely a "windows down" kinda song.  I love lyrics.  I don't necessarily love this guy's voice, but I love how country it is.  It makes me sad sometimes when people don't know I'm from the south because I don't have an accent.  I don't know what happened to it.  It comes back when I get really tired.....and when I pray I think. :)  Anyway, I started thinking about the verses to this song.  The first verse is about bikinis, long tan legs, and popping out of water....and I thought hm I could never be this girl.  I have worn bikinis in my life, but I definitely haven't had any memorable or noteworthy popping out of water moments and definitely not any anyone would sing about.  And I have NEVER had tan legs.....maybe when I was 8 and lived at the neighborhood swimming pool.  This makes me bummed because I immediately picture these band members as frat boys on a float trip.  So I get hooked again by the "hook."  That's the chorus for any non-musician readers.  Then, the second verse comes around and the girl jumps in the cab of his truck and says, "Fire it up, let's go get this thing stuck."  The country girl in me is on board with this.  The country girl in me also thinks lift kits are hot.  HAWWWT! :)

I miss rodeos.  I miss driving with the windows down on country roads.  In LA, I always figure I'm poisoning myself and my skin from the smog and exhaust blowing around. I miss country boys.  Although I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like any of the girls in this song's music video, I think I'm still alright.  I will probably never wear short shorts or midriff tops or find sunglasses that fit my face, but I will dance like a fool for hours and do crazy stuff.......completely sober. no shame. :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm Still Such a Kid

Just when I think I've finally started having some semblance of an adult, I realize I am still such a kid.  Today, I have been waiting all day for some big news.  It's been torturous!! Not because I'm nervous.  I just want to know the decision.  I found out this evening that I will get the final answer tomorrow.  My inner child comes flying out at this point screaming, "I CAN'T SURVIVE ANOTHER MINUTE OF WAITING!!!"  Yet as you see, I am just fine several hours later.  I thought about going to bed at 8pm like a child just so tomorrow would come faster, but I have five million things to do so here I am still awake at 12am.  In all honesty, I would have flown through my to-do list much more quickly had I not had this "waiting" tick tocking in the back of my head.  Waiting one twenty-four hour period is wrecking my productivity and making my stomach shake. (My stomach shakes when I'm anxious and excited.)  I wonder why it's difficult to wait as a kid.  I wonder if the reasoning is the same as adults.  Some of my anticipation today is that I want to make plans and I need to know the decision in order to make plans.  I'm not sure if kids think that way.  It makes me think of Veruca Salt's character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Veruca Salt: [outside the Chocolate Factory] Daddy, I want to go in.
Mr. Salt: It's 9:59, sweetheart.
Veruca Salt: Make time go faster. 

Why is wanting things so ingrained in us?  And waiting so difficult?  We're supposed to hope and have desires in our hearts, but we also have to have patience.  How do we know what the good desires are and which ones will get us attacked by squirrels and thrown down a garbage chute? Veruca Salt's demise

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Prov. 13:12

So I'm a little heart sick for this decision today, but in the scheme of things I've been a bit heart sick for some time for other hopes deferred.  I think I can handle another day.  :)  I was trying to finish this at midnight yesterday but kept falling asleep.  Did I make you heart sick waiting for my blog post?? hahahahaha I realize I am ridiculous. #beyou I also realize this is not twitter. :)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Name Game

Short Blog Day 2

So you know how people say, "I can't remember names, but I never forget a face."  That is not me.  I remember names pretty easily.  I love names.  I work at a coffee shop, and we place a great importance on knowing our customers.  I guess I'm a visual learner because once I see your name on a credit card receipt or written or typed anywhere, it's in my memory.  If I say it a couple times soon after seeing it, that solidifies it.

When I was younger and went to my older sister's choir concerts, I would read the program and watch for each soloist.  Once a soloist was singing I would match their face with the name of the soloist in the program.  In high school, several students got small solos.  After that, any time my sister would talk about someone in choir (ex. Mike walked me to class).  Without thinking I would say, "Oh Mike Mankin?"  I don't know why I remember names.  Most people find that endearing I think.  It's nice to be remembered.  But in LA..........people think you must be stalking them.

At the coffee shop the other day, one of our regulars walked in and I said his first and last name without hesitation.  His eyes narrowed and he immediately said, "Did you just say my last name?"  Honest Abe here says, "Oh yeah, I saw it on your credit card receipt."  His eyes widen.  I realize he might actually be concerned so I go into joking mode.  "I also memorized your credit card number and your address."  Three nervous laughs did not go well.

Because names are usually easy for me, it kinda freaks me out when I come across people who's name I cannot seem to remember.  I don't know what makes most names stick and then a few don't.

After my first gig in LA back in June, I went home and wrote down the 46 names of all who attended to thank God for them.  WEIRDY.  I promise I just love names.  If you tell me your full name, my heart will melt alittle because I want to have it in my memory SO BAD.  SERIOUS. 

My name is Lee Ellen Starks.  What's yours?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Short blog Day 1:

It took my cousin and my sister about 5 minutes to convince me that MacGyver was my real Dad when I was little.  They told me a whole story about how he was so busy filming that he had my parents take care of me.  I took this news surprisingly well.  I still loved the Dad I grew up with, but it made total sense to me that my real Dad was off saving the world with gadgets made out of clothes hangers and chewing gum.  I forgave his absence without a second thought, and eagerly started telling people at school about my true family tree.  I'm not sure if I should be more concerned with how easily I was convinced or how good I was at convincing others.

I still think MacGyver is pretty awesome.

He is not my real Dad in case that wasn't clear. :)

I just wrote and recorded the theme song to my friends' new web series Land of Unicorns!  The first episode will be released Thursday, January 31st! Check it out!!! Land of Unicorns

Monday, January 28, 2013

White Blank Page

It's still very daunting every time I start a new post here.  I've often heard writers talk about the blank page or for painters the blank canvas.  There's an excitement to it but also an undercurrent of "someone might see this" anxiety.  And that undercurrent carries the weight of what criticism there might be of my heart.  And then there's the criticism of others as well. :)  As soon as it's written or typed, it exists somewhere.  I think what's more daunting for me is that these are my unsolicited thoughts.  These just roll around in my brain and I type some out from time to time.

In social situations, I've noticed I tend to not volunteer information unless asked.  I'm an open book to an inquisitive person, but to most I'm might seem quiet or private.  So this blog is different in that I just place my fingers on the keyboard and stuff comes out.  I don't plan out what I might say.  It's pretty much a "stream of consciousness," most of the time.

So here goes:

A blank page is comparable to a crush before any dating occurs.  Some pages quickly become the reckless drawing of a kindergartener only to live on the refrigerator for a week or two before accidentally falling in the trash.  Some pages get stared at for ages and pens come as close as they can without leaving a mark time and time again.  Some pages are drawn very intentionally and carefully in effort to recreate a picture drawn in the past.  Some pages have been white for a long time either because the artist has sworn off drawing/writing for awhile or maybe there's never been anything to record.

I've been finding some good supplies.  Purchasing the good kind of pens and paper.  I'd like to draw and write some things so I'm getting myself ready to do opportunities arise. :)

The crush mentioned in the last few blogs is still around but still a blank page. haha After asking him some questions, I was quickly thrown off to find that I liked his answers.  My "find the red flag" plan was dashed to pieces.  So I will just practice some unconditional love on that one.  True Love certainly never hurts the receiver even if the sentiment isn't returned to the giver.  UN-conditional.

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13:4-8

I have a lot to learn.

I'm going to challenge myself to write a series of short daily blogs in the coming days.  I hope you'll join me by reading along. :)

P.S. I'm singing the National Anthem at the Rock'n'Roll 1/2 Marathon in Pasadena on Feb. 17th.  I started out signing that in my high school gym at games. Life is funny.