The Elephant in the Room: Here’s Where I Unleash My Music

Note: I’m putting the music on top so you don’t have to read and be like, “just get on with it already!” But if you want some info and background, please read below the widget. BTW, the widget started to look chopped off in my browser – if you only see one song, scroll and the second one is there too. I have no idea why it’s doing that…Also?
HELP! GAHH! I’m trying to figure out what I want to do in terms of offering these to download. I would like to start out simply offering to sell these as single downloads for a cheap price – just something to help me offset fees, save up for better gear, etc. I feel really presumptuous asking people to pay, but…I should, right? Should I? I’m new at this and I have no freaking clue what I should be doing. I’m researching things like CDBaby and ReverbNation’s services, and I’m not sure they fit what I’m looking for at this point. So...if any of you have experience with these services and are willing to offer advice, feel free to leave me a comment below or email me (submissions@themenacingkitten.com) Thanks!

 

 

People have told me that they appreciate how vulnerable I’ve been on this blog. I’ve talked to you about my depression, my social anxiety, dealing with my father’s death and my reluctance to let people into my life. I’ve touched on songwriting and music in some of these posts, but until now it’s been the elephant in the room. Talking about most of the things I struggle with never felt all that vulnerable to me. Music? Well, this is a true vulnerability for me. This feels like a release of control, and I’m a little terrified.

Why am I terrified? I talked to Chris about this a while ago: you’d think that people hating my stuff would be the biggest fear. It’s not. Hate is an emotional response, and it means I created something that triggered an intense emotional reaction. A moment of rupture. Art! Um, yay? Seriously though – I know what I’ve created isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m mentally prepared for that. So what is it?

Apathy.

This is something that is in my bones. It has been a part of me since I could barely talk, and it’s the thing that both carried me through hard times and broke me. My biggest fear is to unleash this piece of me and no one cares. Okay – some of you care, because you’re my friends and family. But I mean, what if no one cares? Like, people listen to it and think, “gee that’s nice; soooo…what’s for dinner?” And they never play it again. They leave it behind and it’s meaningless. Again, I expect that to happen to some people, but I am terrified that will happen to all the people. Why? Because I care so much. This stuff is me. What you are seeing here is the ultimate vulnerability.

After Chris bought me my keyboard and my hands found their way to a new song, I wanted to cry. I was so removed from the theory of it all, I wasn’t even sure what key I was writing in, but like I did when I was a little girl, I trusted my ears and the little atrophied hamster in my brain hopped back on a wheel and started running. This note has to go here, that note has to go there where is this melody coming from wordsaredanicnginmyheadand…ta da! Song. It was a shitty song, but it was a start. In time it led to other songs, like these two:

NOWHERE LEFT TO RUN
I just wrote and recorded this on Friday, and I liked it so much it replaced what I originally intended to post. This is an odd one in that the main keyboard riff is a take on something I wrote when I was 14 and appeared in a song I wrote when I was 19. I normally am unable to recycle my stuff, but the riff haunted me a little and begged for a new melody, lyrics and structure. I am really, really happy with the lyrics in this song; despite the serious subject matter at the core of it, they were a shitload of fun to write. I mean, how often can you incorporate Publisher’s Clearinghouse into a song? There’s something special and magic-y about this song (at least to me) and I am excited to share it.

BLACK TO ALABASTER
Yes, I want to be a magician. Here’s my theory for how I could achieve magic:

Well-written song + solid recording + ??? = MAGIC!

I’m working off of mostly old, crappy gear in my house. My mic is roughly 16 years old, I only have GarageBand (which Chris messed around with to keep the integrity of some of the sounds that morphed or disappeared over the years), and I also really suck at mixing things. I have like, zero aptitude for the technical side of music. I see more than five knobs on a soundboard and I turn into Rain Man after he burns toast. But, this song is somehow working for me. Perhaps it’s so new I haven’t had a chance to imagine how it should sound. It’s not perfect. It’s just a simple piano and voice demo and has some clear areas where it could be better, but I’m happy with it. It feels a little magic-y for me.

Anyway, here’s my heart and soul. I hope you like it. I have roughly 20 songs I’m working on right now, so as I get them to an acceptable level and they don’t suck, I’ll be adding more. Thank you for listening and letting me share this with you. Sincerely.

Sorry Everyone, I Suck

Hi everyone,

It’s been too long since I posted, so consider this an update of sorts. Since my last post, I’ve probably written 5 posts I didn’t feel were good enough to publish, so I’m just going to wing this and get something out to you. So, a few of you know that I took part in the world’s longest layoff, which began well over a year ago when I suspected my position would be nixed. The end of last month was my final month at my former company, which was after receiving several extensions. My original end-date was supposed to be December 2012, so it’s been a long road. I can’t really complain; it’s the nature of the business – the bigger company took over our little company, saw redundancy and eliminated all of us. I worked hard up to the end and got a decent severance, so…I guess that’s fine.

Here are 5 random things I’ve observed about the process of being laid off over a period of a year:

1. Brain feels mushy. Not having a career goal for a year is not good for anyone who is goal-oriented.

2. It really sucks laying people off who you’ve known for years, knowing they have families to support and are also damn good at what they do.

3. Spending the last 5 months working remotely as a person marked for layoff is bad for creative writing. While my officemate is awesome (in particular because she’s furry and likes having me around), I feel like an isolated pariah and don’t really have a whole lot to write about at the moment. It’s weird. As part of my severance, I am working with a “career transition” place which has helped me leave my cave and go back into the wild to some degree.

4. Despite having no job this month, I’ve been really active? How did that happen? I’ve done a shit ton of hiking this month (I’m averaging somewhere around 30 miles a week), I’ve been taking lots of online classes…and I’ve been writing a lot of music – more on that in a minute.

Before I move on to the fifth observation, I have to point out that the Old Spice “lizards eating your legs” commercial just came on. That is fantastic. I love that their commercials are so WTF that you have to go back and rewind them because your subconscious is like, “wait…what?” Well played, Old Spice. Well played. Ok…. 5th observation:

5. While my regular writing has suffered, this layoff has been great for my songwriting. I seriously think I’ve written some of my best stuff ever over the past year. It’s different and it’s exciting. I believe in it. Now my ability to record the songs? That’s a different story. I’ve been in a recording hell over the past couple of weeks – my gear is outdated, and every time you put a mic in front of me I suddenly get a stuffy nose, a tickle in my throat, or my neighbors decide to break the concrete in their backyard with a jackhammer. I want to create something magical, and I know it’s in me – I’m struggling to get it out. But I’m determined to publish my songs on here. I have to. Enough of my procrastination and self-doubt. Before the year is out, I want to share at least 4 of my songs with you. So send good recording vibes my way, because I need them. I can’t explain it, but the job loss has made this aspect of my life very, very important.

Anyhoo, that’s what’s going on. I’ll try and post more often, but unfortunately, I can’t guarantee I’ll be awesome. In the meantime, if you want to see what I’m up to in small doses, check me out on various social media:

- I post a LOT on Instagram (@TheMenacingKitten)

- I post sometimes on Twitter, (@MenacingKitten), but 90% of my posts are Instagram posts. If you want to chat, I always respond to tweets, though. There isn’t enough conversation on Twitter, and I love chatting with people.

- I also still have my Facebook Page, which you can like. I’ll try and post a little more often on there to make up for my lack of posting on this site. As with Twitter, if you post on my page, I’ll definitely respond :)

I hope all is well for all of you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support you’ve given me, and I feel kind of like a shit for not posting more often. I really hope you stick around and I can share my music with you.

Take care,

Anne-Marie

An Apology and a Travelogue

With most writings on this blog, I have the luxury of hindsight and distance to reflect on the events in my life.  This week I experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions that I’m not far enough away from yet to appreciate.  I believe I will appreciate this one day, just not right now.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have felt like I haven’t been on top of my game as of late.  I know I’ve felt rather distracted and less creative in recent months.  This evening, I started writing a blog explaining what is going on in my life but I realized that it would not be in my best interests professionally to write about it at this time.  I know this comes off as cryptic and makes for a really shitty story, but it is going to have to be a story to tell at a later date.  I know I’ll be fine, and I’m hoping this is going to be one of those turning points in life that leads to something wonderful.  Sometimes you don’t see your path until you fall face first onto it.

In the meantime, I do apologize – I didn’t write last week for two weeks, and I’m really struggling to turn on the “writer switch” in my head.  It’s funny – I write music when I’m sad, but I write articles and stories when I’m happy.  I’d be really prolific if only I could time this all out properly.  I hate phoning it in, but at the same time I feel a need to keep this blog going.  I don’t want this to be an abandoned project, yet I’m afraid I’m going to suck so badly at writing it would have the same effect.  I’m going to push through this and keep trying.  I ask you to bear with me.  Let’s consider this an experiment to fight against my anxiety, depression and all those pessimistic, doomsday feelings that resurface when things turn to shit.

So that is the cryptic and lousy storytelling portion discussing the lows of the roller coaster;  let me tell you a little about the highs this week so we can end this thing on a positive note.

Chris flew up to Alameda on Thursday to move into his apartment and get ready for the new job.  I flew out Friday evening to spend the weekend with him and help him get settled.  I’ve joked about this being a “bachelor pad” of sorts for him.  After seeing the apartment, it really has more of a Halfway House vibe to it.  Maybe it just needs a lava lamp and a Fathead.

We walked all over the island on Saturday, enjoying the sunny weather and cute neighborhoods.  We drooled over some huge homes that were well out of our price range; it’s good to dream a little.

Some friends of our recently moved to the SoMa area of San Francisco, so we decided to check out the ferry and meet them for dinner.  We sat up top, hair be damned, enjoying views of the Bay as we crossed over to the Embarcadero.  Chris was pleased that this method of commuting would not suck for him.  I took the above picture of the Bay Bridge along the way.

We then met with our friends to eat at Luce, and I had an excellent meal that featured creative and delicious combinations of flavors.  I started with an artichoke velouté with hazelnuts, cocoa and pears.  It was amazing – creamy but light and very flavorful.  For my main dish, I had Lobster with lemon verbena foam, green strawberries and corn velouté.  It was one of those dishes where everything not only highlighted the main ingredient but enhanced its flavor.  We’re going to love eating out in San Fran.

We headed back on the ferry, watching the reflection of city lights dance against the water:

I smiled at Chris.  “Just imagine, eventually you’re going to do this so much you’ll take this view for granted.”

He smiled “I hope I don’t. But you’re probably right.”

As I sit here in Arizona and he sits in Alameda, knowing I will only see him for a couple of days every two weeks for the next several months, I realize how easy it is to take a beautiful view for granted.

P.S. So much for me ending on a high note…

P.P.S Holy crap, I guess it’s been two weeks since I posted.  Blogger fail.

Seeking Guest Bloggers for the Kitten!

I am very excited to announce that The Menacing Kitten is now accepting submissions for guest bloggers!

You may have noticed that I have been posting a little less frequently as of late – unfortunately, my real-life job (the one that actually puts food on my table) is taking up quite a bit of time and energy due to a big database project.  As a result, I am struggling to write quality pieces on a regular basis.  This may very well create a “Virgin to Life” entry on its own, but if there is one thing I’ve learned since starting this blog, I’ve learned I don’t have to do it all on my own. Not only that, it provides me with a wonderful opportunity to promote great writers and other blogs.
Are you interested in sharing something for the kitten? Do you know anyone who is looking for a little extra exposure?  Here are my guidelines:

Required:
Please send all submissions to submissions@themenacingkitten.com with the subject line starting with the word “SUBMISSION:” followed by your article topic or title.  This will help me separate spam from actual content.
Please paste your article in the body of your email OR provide a one paragraph summary with a link to the article.
Provide me with how you want your author credit to read (your name/handle/”Anonymous”), and if you have a blog and/or social media account (Twitter, Facebook fan page, etc.) you wish to promote.

Topic Suggestions / What I am looking for:
If you know my site, you’ll generally know what I enjoy posting here.  If you are looking for ideas, I am particularly interested in the following areas:

Op-Eds: Is there a news event in your area that has national implications? Is there a trend you want to comment on, or a story that has no clear answer? Do you have an insight or belief you don’t feel is adequately discussed in a civil matter in the media? (see Celebrity Deaths, When Republican Isn’t ConservativeThe Fine Line Between Self-Defense and Manslaughter)
Virgin to Life stories: Are you a good storyteller and want to share an event that changed your life? (see The Lying Liar, The Boob Tube, A Ghost in the Corporate Machine)
Food & Wine:  Do you want to celebrate regional cuisines or local vineyards, or provide wine tasting tutorials?
Entertainment: Do you have any personal top 5 or top 10 lists? (see Dig if U Will, Gimme Some Lovin’ ) Do you want to promote an up-and-coming band? Are you a musician or artist who has a unique and creative way to promote your work?
Humor: Do you have something funny to say about work or relationships? Or anything else for that matter? (see Learning How to Sleep with Someone, Does He Like You? A Junior High Guide, Email Hell)

I am truly excited about this, because there are subjects you can write about that I cannot.  There are stories in your life that are worth sharing with others, and I hope to help you do that.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Got any questions? Post below!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building Off a Dream

[Note: If you don’t want to read all of this and you have an RSS feed, please skip down to the 4th paragraph that starts with the word “Finally”]

Over the past few nights, I’ve been having recurring dreams about packing.  After consulting with one of my favorite sites on the interwebs, packing suggests moving on and getting ready for a change of scenery.  I don’t plan on changing jobs any time soon – I actually really like my current employer, but maybe I am dreaming about this because of the simultaneous insanity going on in my life.  My employer has changed hands more often than a student loan, and all the while I’m enjoying this side thing as a blogger.  As I was packing away my things in the most recent dream, I knew more than anything else I had to keep my music stuff and my flash drive.  What does that mean? Well, all creative things are kept on my flash drive – all music files and writings that I have done.  I’ve interpreted this dream as meaning whatever changes occur in my life, my creations are closest to my heart and need to travel with me no matter what journey I take.  They are the piece of me that will never change hands.  This dream made me wonder if my creations are the key to a future bigger than I have ever imagined.

With this in mind, I’ve felt particularly ambitious in getting my writing out there.  I want to build my online portfolio and more actively grow my audience.  On Tuesday, I signed up for Salon’s online community, Open Salon.  It looks like a pretty cool service, and might get my name out there a little more.  Plus, you can make money – yay! I suspect I won’t make anything, but it doesn’t cost anything to try.  If I like the format and the viewership, I will likely post my politically-themed writings over there and keep them separate from this blog.  In the meantime, I will be cross-posting.  So, please check it out: they have a rating system and a number of ways to promote my writings through social media – far more options than I have over here.  If you like my writing and want to support what I do, please like, Digg, recommend, rate, or whatever Salon offers that you are capable of doing.  You all have been great, and I appreciate all the support I’ve received so far!

Speaking of support and help – I need your recommendations.  I want to find sites that are open to contributions and guest posts.  You all know my style – I’m not exactly New York Times material! Do you know of a site or blog that is open to guest posting that would be a good fit with my writing style? If so, comment below, on Facebook, or email me via my contact link.

Finally, I have some exciting news for everyone.  I am going to be moving the blog into a much, much more friendly and familiar format and will be converting to a WordPress front end very soon.  Assuming I or the Menacing Kitten Tech Support Team don’t run into any real-life work responsibilities this weekend, we will begin migrating data to a brand new, sexilicious format.   If we are able to begin moving are archives over this weekend, there may be a delay with my next post.  This scares me a little, as I don’t want to lose you, my beloved ninjas, so I’ll do my best to not have a significant delay.  If you subscribe to my RSS, there are two things that could happen and I apologize for both up front: 

  1. When we are moving the archives over, my archives may show up as new posts to you.  If this happens, I am really, really sorry.  There are 76 posts on The Menacing Kitten, so, yeah.  On the plus side, we can call this a Menacing Kitten Marathon?? Maybe?
  2. The RSS subscription is lost.  If this is the case, I kindly ask that you check in to the web page by Tuesday evening if you haven’t received a new post from me.  Menacing Tech Support did some crazy work in the back end to make the multiple themes work via RSS, and I’m not sure how well that will convert over.  I apologize in advance if you have to re-subscribe.

I hope neither of these things happen, but again, if they do, I’m sorry!  I’m pretty sure you’ll like the new design.  If we don’t migrate the data over this weekend, I’ll put out another warning post when we are ready to go.

Once again, thank you for reading this blog.  I appreciate the support, and all the warm comments I have received over the past several months motivate me to make this blog better and better.  Hopefully, I will see you soon on the other side of this conversion.  Cross your fingers for me, because, while Menacing Tech Support knows what he is doing, I have no f-ing clue.

 

Love you all,

-A-M

Act Two

Connecticut, for the most part, is a beautiful and quaint state.  The roads rise and fall with small hills and wind through lush green landscapes, as large oak trees create a canopy overhead.  Driving through these winding roads, you experience Connecticut’s history through the architecture of its homes.  In the more rural areas you see old saltbox houses from the late 1600s and early 1700s.  Old towns are filled with colonials and Victorians, and the closer you get to major metropolitan areas, you find post-World War II tract housing consisting of cape cods and L-shaped ranches.  Tudors dot the wealthy outskirts.  In all, you have a wide variety of architecture to enjoy, covering the span of American history.

As pretty and diverse as it can be, there are few vistas in the state where you can look out and see for miles.  You happen upon homes and landscapes when you drive or walk along the roads.  You can see only what is in your immediate view, unaware of the world past the canopy or over the next hill.This was my life for 18 years.

As I stood on the balcony of my hotel room, I experienced Tucson for the first time, and admired the beauty of differences.  Instead of being cocooned in Kelly green leaves, I could see miles and miles of sand-colored ground and sage green plants.In place of winding roads, there was a clear grid stretching as far as the eye could see.  Rather than being surrounded by homes spanning 250 years of history, I could only see homes that were 50 years old at the most.  The tiny hills of Connecticut were no match for the bold and ragged Catalinas – the mountains made me feel like I was living in a topographic map.

When I stepped foot off of the plane, my mind was filled with a typical Yankee perception of Arizona – sun, sun, sun!  It never rains!  Blue skies all of the time!   Imagine my surprise then, when on that balcony, I saw a menacing dark cloud creep over the Catalinas making its way towards my hotel.  I inhaled to enjoy the unusually thick smell of ozone that preceded the storm.  For the first time in my life, I saw lighting bolts stretch from cloud to ground, hitting different points on the mountain.  The thunder rolled loudly as the storm neared.  I watched with fascination and concern – this was nothing I had ever seen before and was wholly unexpected.

Suddenly, a loud clap of thunder exploded as a large lightning bolt slammed from the heavens to earth only a couple of miles from my balcony.  I jumped.  Tens of car alarms triggered, providing a soundtrack of man-made chaos responding to the ho-hum of Mother Nature.  Large, dense raindrops fell from the sky furiously, while thunder and lightning rumbled and flashed around me.  The world was ending in a biblical storm; why was I the only one who looked freaked out?

Just as quickly as the storm came, it ended.  The sun peeked through the clouds, and the sky shimmered from the raindrops that continued to fall over Tucson.  The menacing cloud moved on to wreak havoc on another part of town, leaving a brilliant rainbow in its wake.  The sun seemed brighter, the sky bluer.

I realized at that moment that I had finally made it to Act II.  I did it.  I was able to leave home – to really leave home and start the next stage of my life.  I had no idea where I would wind up, but the wheels were finally in motion.  I could finally be “me” and have an existence that was built completely on my own accomplishments and failures.

Today, I think about how my life has mirrored that moment – I think of all the times I believed I could see far ahead, and I would anticipate and plan every move, only to be rocked by an unexpected lightning strike or fierce storm.  I’d feel like my world was ending yet somehow the storm would find a way to clear, and I’d be stronger and wiser on the other side; even if there was a little damage left in the storm’s wake.

That moment also serves as a microcosm of why I was a virgin to life.  There was much I thought I knew about the world, only to have an abrupt epiphany to challenge my thinking.  The epiphanies can range from subtle to anvil-like; they can be triumphant or they can be devastating.  They can be humorous, morbidly funny, and on a rare occasion – unfortunately – they can still bring tears to my eyes.

Over the years, there is one epiphany that trumps all others in its importance – the realization that we do not connect with each other through our perfection, but through our mistakes.  In the coming weeks, you’ll learn why I was (and am) a Virgin to Life.  My missteps are embarrassing at times, but a little hyperbole, humor, and a few choice curse words can at least provide good therapeutic laugh and perspective if nothing else.  So feel free to laugh and/or facepalm at my expense – I won’t be offended;  Maybe you’ll even find a little bit of yourself in my stories – I won’t tell if you won’t.

Photo of Arizona copyright 2007-2012 by Chris Giard.