Dear darling readers,
I will tell you something right now about this new blog I've started. I will be sharing my blessings and triumphs with you, but I will not be blowing sunshine out of every orifice all the time. While I am more and more becoming a person who believes that happiness is a choice, I'm also a born-and-raised New York Italian with a dogged French stubborn streak and I recognize that some days just flat out suck. I will not be presenting a pristine, carefully constructed image to you in an effort to sell more CDs, get more voice students or make myself look more important or accomplished than I am. This is going to be full of the stories of my real life, because a) I can't possibly be the only person who feels this ridiculous all the time and b) I realized recently that I felt MUCH more sane when I was a kid and kept a journal faithfully. Be forewarned that I may use colorful language from time to time, offend your delicate sensibilities, challenge your belief systems or make you gag from my occasional abuse of exclamation points. So if you are a person who cannot deal with reality either in its grit and grime OR warm fuzziness, then this tome will not be for you. If you are cool with coming along for the WHOLE ride...then please accept my welcome and sincerest thanks for reading.
Well...here we are again. Not just a new year...but a new decade. Ten years ago at this time we thought the world was going to shut down. I didn't live here in L.A. then but I was in town to spend the holidays with my sister Jodianne, who did live here at the time. I decided that if the world was ending, I was going to go out of it having fun...so off to the Sunset Strip we went for New Year's Eve, Y2K-style. Well, obviously we all survived and that New Year's Eve I recall feeling like my future was wide open and full of promise. I'd lost 120 pounds and I was making plans to move to from Nashville TN to L.A. and start the next chapter of my career and life. And I did so in January of 2001.
Fast forward to New Year's Eve 2008. I spent it quietly at my other sister Mandi's apartment with our friends Kelli and Karen (Jodianne had moved to San Diego for like...the 3rd time or something, Mandi had moved here a year after me). We decided to drink some wine and make vision boards - you know, a large poster board with magazine clippings indicating the things you want for your life so you can visualize it and therefore make it come to fruition. After seven years, I had made a lot of wrong turns - sometimes no turns at all, frankly - and things were not as I had hoped for myself. And I'd gained back the majority of the weight I'd lost. I needed a pick-me-up and focus. I decided that I didn't care that they don't do things here like they do in Nashville. I had decided that no one but ME got to tell me what I could or could not do for a living and that it was certainly going to have nothing to do with how I looked. I was about to carve out my own path. As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich - not Eleanor Roosevelt - once said, "Well-behaved women seldom make history." And so I rang in the new year once again feeling like my future was wide open and full of promise.
Actually, it started off really well. I had the most voice students I'd ever had so far, I was nannying my good friend's totally awesome twin toddler daughters three days a week, I was singing backup in my friend Debby Holiday's fantastic rock band, I was finally making some good contacts, getting calls for studio work here and there and I was about to release my first album since 2001. I even walked a red carpet! Okay, it was more like a swatch than an actual carpet, but my mom doesn't care. So there. And lest I forget, I was lucky enough to be cast as a contestant on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" where I remembered enough from grade school to win juuuuuuuust enough money to buy a new(ish) car that I desperately needed. Plus, a handful of folks went out of their way in their generosity to help me with my Nashville trip plans and get me set up with a laptop and wi-fi for Skype lessons. The first half of the year it seemed it was raining blessings!
Then somewhere during the summer things went right down the crapper. The twins' mom got laid off, which means I also got laid off. Students started dropping like flies because they simply can't afford lessons anymore in this economy. Virtually none of the publications, radio stations or podcasts I pitched to reviewed or featured my CD which means no one's hearing it or reading about it so it's not selling (thank you Popolio, Soul Cole, The Baub Show and Women With Substance Radio for being the exceptions! Please give them your support!). All my grassroots sales techniques no longer work because the industry has drastically changed for indies since the last time I put an album out...there is such a glut of DIY artists these days that it's hard to get noticed, whereas with my last album it was a brand new frontier. As for song placements, the few contacts I had made through my songwriting relationship with my dear friend Levi Kreis won't give my new songs the time of day. Without nannying and students, I cannot afford to hire players and therefore cannot play gigs (which is my fault for not getting my piano chops back up and being self-sufficient, admittedly - this I plan to remedy this year). Don't even get me started on the union singers in this town. In the midst of all this, my sister Mandi informs me that she will be moving to Chicago on January 1st, 2010.
This last bit of news, above all else, makes me crumble inside, as it occurs to me that a) Christmas is practically cancelled!!! and b) with her move, my entire family is now spread out all across the country, literally. California, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New York, Massachusetts. As a (not-so) starving artist, how do I EVER get to see anyone? Living in Los Angeles till now had been tolerable because my sisters were close by (I've never really fallen in love with the place, sad to say) and when we are together I feel powerful, capable and understood. Now, with Jodianne in San Diego and Mandi off to Chicago as of yesterday, my greatest fear in life - and this is no exaggeration - is being realized...
I AM ALONE.
AND TO TOP IT OFF, I AM ALONE IN THE TOXIC, SOUL-SUCKING, DREAM-CRUSHING, UNDERFED, OVER-INJECTED, PRECISELY SCULPTED, WAXED AND DYED CESSPOOL THAT IS LOS ANGELES!
"But Darci," you may query, "don't you have any friends there?"
Sure. But the nature of this city is that everyone is too busy all the time. We are all way too self-absorbed to be of much good to each other (of course I include myself...why else would I be writing this blog? c'mon, it's all about me). Or, along with the total awesomeness of knowing many people of all sorts of thought processes, belief systems, cultures and ethnicities, I haven't really come across a true kindred spirit. The kind of friend who shows up at my door with ice cream and arms open wide when I desperately need it. And somewhere along the line, in my effort to try and stop feeling the need to be "the mommy" or "Dr. Darci" in my friends' lives, I have probably managed to go too far in the extreme opposite direction - I'm all, "I am a rock, I am an island." I tend to do that.
Rewind to the summer before 11th grade, when we moved from Binghamton NY back to Johnstown NY and I vowed to myself, "Self...this is a new beginning. NO ONE will pick on you for any reason ever again." And they sure didn't. Apparently most of the kids at good ole JHS ended up terrified of me. Now THAT'S extreme. And something to be proud of in life.
And so...it's my own fault and it's no one's fault.
If one were to look at my life without bias, I would appear a complete and total failure on all counts. Almost *censored* years old, unhealthily overweight (again), never married, childless, still struggling financially month-to-month and fighting to keep music my full-time living, all family and closest friends hundreds and thousands of miles away, uninsured and no retirement savings. Nevermind that I chose a lot of those things purposefully and am at peace with them (the marriage and kids thing) -- still to society, it looks pretty sad. Even my mother, who threatened us as kids that once we moved out of the house we were NOT allowed back, told me only yesterday, ever so-gently with her most comforting mommy voice, "Honey, maybe it's time to consider coming home. Why are you still doing this to yourself?"
So I enter 2010 in a much different headspace than I did 2009. And while I have lots of great ideas for my music this year, I have to ask myself if it's worth it, or even accomplishable. When is enough enough? How long will I try and keep telling myself I'm young enough to keep going, when am I smart enough to know that it may have never been in the cards? I read an article the other day by a DYI musician who stated (paraphrased), "If you're really called to music, it will work out for you. Nothing you do will keep it from working." That hit me like a two by four between the eyes. It's always been so hard for me; I've almost been successful a million times. Is it possible I completely misinterpreted my calling all these years? Should I have gone into psychology instead? Or early childhood development?
Believe me, I know what a downer this first blog is. I intended to share some of my plans for the year so you wouldn't all assume I was suicidal or something (no worries, I swear! I'll get over my whining in a minute), but right now I'm too tired to keep writing. My amazing, fearless, wonderful baby sister's move to the Windy City has smacked my denial upside the head and I have more thoughts running through my brain than I ever expected. And the last few months I just thought my blues were as simple as, "Man, I'm gonna MISS her. And her awesome cupcakes." It's definitely that...but also much more than I realized. I am lost and at a crossroads, certainly. And maybe somehow in the course of writing this blog I will figure out what to do.
Wishing peace, joy, a return to abundance and contentment of heart to all of us in this new decade.
Went down to the crossroads
I tried to flag a ride
Standin' at the crossroads
I tried to flag a ride
Didn't nobody seem to know me
Everybody pass me by
You can run, you can run boy
Tell my friend, good Willie Brown
You can run, you can run boy
Tell my friend, good Willie Brown
Lord, that I'm standin' at the crossroad
I believe I'm sinkin' down