The Watch

I received a gift this past Christmas from an employer I had been with for three months. I received this gift after wrapping and labeling almost every present that was exchanged in the household of eight people. I wrapped presents that arrived from Skymall with expedited shipping two days before Christmas. I wrapped presents that entered the house after a $1500 shopping trip to Target. I wrapped a cashmere scarf after taking off its expensive price tag, only to find later that it never actually made it to the recipient. I wrapped presents for the dogs and cats. I wrapped presents for all of the other close employees to the family. I almost wrapped my own present, until it was found in a pile last minute and taken to another room.

I later received my present unwrapped.

It was in a simple black box containing a massive amount of unspoken words- a simple black box that easily gave away its possession at first glance. (I had seen the other presents in the house, after all.)

“I noticed you don’t wear watches …” These were the first words vocalized upon handing over the little black box to me. My thoughts were confirmed.

I was actually happy that some attention had been paid to me and who I was. Be it my character, my mannerisms, my style of dress, or the tiny fact that I do not wear watches … at least my employer paid attention to some detail of my life- I don’t wear watches.

But if that was the only detail you ever noticed about someone, if it was the only thing you were ever able to deduce about someone- would you buy this someone a watch?

I didn’t think so.

“… so I got you one … see … this is my favorite brand of watches, I’m wearing one right now!”

I feigned something nice about her watch and held my breath as I opened the box containing my own. Perhaps it would have at least been taken into account how petite I am. Her watch looked huge on her wrist, and she was much taller and more filled out than me. Maybe this brand of watches made something, anything, that could look alright on a tiny wrist. And hopefully it wasn’t sparkly silver with lots of diamonds or rhinestones. I had already seen that watch and wrapped it for someone else. Hopefully it wasn’t being re-gifted so soon.

The first glance at my watch provided no sincerely thankful words to the gift-giver. Luckily, they weren’t necessary, as said employer just started raving about how much she liked it. She had a thing for big, and chunky, and plastic-y. The face was essentially as large as the flat of my wrist (okay, slight exaggeration, but not by far). I had no business owning such a piece of jewelry.

“Do you like it? Will you wear it?”

There was so much enthusiasm behind those sentences that I lost my own words for a moment and finally stumbled into saying thank you.

I brought that watch home with me over Christmas break and had my uncle take all the removable links out so that I could go back to work with a watch on my wrist.

And I did that exactly. For two or three long workdays in the course of three weeks, I was bothered by this bulky piece of jewelry on my left wrist that was still even a bit too large.

When the job ended, the watch lost its purpose. The little black box was its only home. And so the hopeful selling began. Multiple ads on Craigslist have elicited only spammers. No friends or acquaintances have need for such an inconvenient article. And so for eight months this watch has sat, hidden away, on a shelf.

The problem with this watch is that it retails for $200. And while I didn’t spend that money, it is worth a bit too much for me to justify just giving it away to anyone or anywhere. But at the same time, it is not fancy enough to sell to a jeweler. It is made out of something called “plasteramic.” No precious metals, no sparkles, no worth to some high-end place that buys to re-sell. This watch is stuck in the middle. And I’m stuck with it until I can find someone else in the middle who suits it.

Would you like a watch?

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downsizing, simplifying, and letting go

September 20, 2012

This life in LA is now becoming this life in PA. A simple change of that first letter brings a not-s0-simple change for my life as I currently know it. This not-so-simple change means getting rid of things that will weigh me down on my trip back across the country. Simplifying what I own, in an effort to simplify the thoughts running through my head.

That to say, I don’t own very much to begin with. I’m not a hoarder, and I typically do not buy things unless I need them. When I came out here a year ago, everything I deemed necessary for living fit into the back of my Ford Fiesta.

Yes, it still looks like a lot.

But keep in mind it’s a compact car.

But now that Fiesta is being shipped across the country and federal law prohibits personal items from being stored in shipped cars.

And checking bags on a domestic flight can become a bit pricey.

So, out with the old.

But it’s really something I’ve not very good at doing in the past.

I’ve tried getting rid of things time and time again. I got rid of plenty in an effort to fit all of the above into my little car. I left many of my belongings scattered across the country- some in my parent’s basement, some in Jeremy’s parent’s basement. I gave away a few replaceable items. But I held on to a lot.

This time around it’s different. I suppose that in the difficulty of letting go of what I emotionally hold dear, it’s much easier to let go of what I tangibly have. Most of my replaceable items have been sold or given away. I’ve been scouring freecycle boards to see if there’s anything people need that I can give them. I’ve been posting and reposting on Craigslist daily. I’ve taken a trip to Goodwill with a full car trunk of clothes and left with it empty. I do still have some pricer items that I can’t happily just give away, if anyone’s interested (watch, silverware, looping pedal), but all in all, I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to let go of.

I do hope that I’m able to continue this mindset of downsizing once I am in PA and go through my belongings that were left in the basement. I am not sure I could ever have the true minimalist mindset or successfully employ the 100 Things Challenge, but there is a lot to be said of living with only what you need.

September 25, 2012

And I have been trying to hold on to only what I need. But what does “need” mean, really? I’ve (male) friends who have moved  with only a backpack or two. Maybe one checked bag at the airport. It seems so simple. But how could I do it? I have a violin. I have a laptop. I have various music electronics- a microphone, a mic stand, a looping pedal, an m-box. I have shoes (and I don’t own as many as most females I know, but I still have six or seven pairs of shoes. Is even that many pairs necessary?) I have clothes and I have hangers to go with those clothes. I have a small floor fan. I have kitchen utensils. I have a small food processor. I have bedding and two pillows. I have toiletries. I have miscellaneous office items. I’ve let go and gotten rid of so many things over the past month. But was it enough? Am I still holding on to things I don’t actually need?

My car does not look half as full as it was when I drove across the country last year. From the outside, you can’t even tell there is anything being stored in it. But a big help for that was two 50lb checked bags at the airport, and an overstuffed carry-on. So perhaps I’m leaving with the same amount of “things” I came with. At what point is too much too much?

I intend to continue to be aware of what I own and any purchases I make. I want to keep whittling down my tangible items to what I actually use and need.

Is there anyone else out there trying to do this? What constitutes an item’s need? What constitutes letting go of something?

revisiting the 2012 LA Marathon

Six months ago I completed the LA Marathon.

I say “completed” because I can’t say I ran it. I ran some of it. I can’t say I walked it, either. I walked some of it. I also stood still for durations of time during it. So, I completed it. In six hours and seventeen minutes.

This race was in no way competitive for me. Calling it a race doesn’t actually make sense for my purpose of the marathon. I had two goals.

1. Raise awareness and funds for Love Without Boundaries, an organization that is doing FANTASTIC work in the lives and families of the poor, impoverished, and orphaned children of China.
2. Start and finish within the timeframe allotted. Cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

The first goal was the reason I signed up for the marathon in the first place. The second goal was established upon realizing what exactly I had done by signing up to run a marathon. Being someone who’s only memory of running is that of loathing the presidential fitness tests in high school because it required running a mile, signing up for a marathon was quite the undertaking.

So, how did I do it?

I bought running shoes. In fact, I bought barefoot running shoes, and to this day I am exceptionally pleased with them. Perhaps a post on my barefoot shoes will come in the near future. I started training in September 2011. I remember managing to jog 3/4 of a mile and feeling fine for the duration of it. And that was actually a surprise. I’ve tried running on and off for the past few years and never could get a feel for it. And there I went jogging 3/4 of a mile with no problems. That’s when I realized that running could actually become something I did, if I wanted it to be.

I credit my consistent, healthy lifestyle: a sleeping pattern that rarely changes, with enough sleep for me to be rested for the next day and eating three healthy meals a day. I also specifically credit eating quinoa at some point every day, and also including chia seeds in a glass of water with my daily breakfast. I read the book “Born To Run,” and was incredibly encouraged by it.

I started following a training plan, and I stuck to it. For two months. I built up to regularly running 3 miles every other day, and my long runs got up to 8 miles before I “deviated” from the training plan. And I suppose that here “deviated” means “stopped.” Life got in the way- a 10 day trip to China, relocation to Florida almost immediately upon my arrival back to LA, visiting PA for Christmas and New Years, heading back to Florida where I didn’t want to be, and finally finding my way back to LA at the end of January. For three months I couldn’t make structure for my days, and without that structure, I was unable to make the time to run. Yes, I could have found a way to make it, but I didn’t have the mental energy to fit it in. And then from February until March 18th, I ran here and there, still enjoying it, but feeling very non-committal because I knew there was still no way I could be prepared for 26.2 miles.

I may not have been a runner at that point, but I was still a walker. I love to take walks- and speed walks at that- and my job offered me the benefit of pushing around two children in a double stroller every day. I did take full advantage of that. I just wasn’t running.

In the week leading up to the marathon, I started reading about other people’s experiences. There are a lot of us out there who have attempted long-distance running with minimal training. I do not condone it, but hey, it has been done. By plenty of people.

The things I learned in these articles and blogs I put into practice on the day of:

I drank water whenever it was offered. I walked up hills. I ate every banana and orange slice available to me. I carried and used Clif Bar Shot Bloks. I walked when I couldn’t run. When I could run, I took it easy. I didn’t allow myself to be competitive (which is VERY difficult for me). I listened to my body and didn’t push myself too hard.

A huge help was running the first half with Jeremy. His knee unfortunately started hurting very early on, and he had to really take it easy. I was dead-set on staying with him and so I went a lot more slowly than I felt I needed to for the first half of the race. He decided to not finish once we got to the half-way mark, and I was feeling so energized and normal that I took off at a decent jog. That decent jog lasted two miles and then my legs decided they didn’t like working anymore- this was something I have never experienced during running, as I usually wimp out because I am tired in the sense of my inner body, not my muscles. Of course, this was to be expected, as I was attempting a very large amount of miles without enough training. So I am incredibly thankful, I suppose, that Jeremy’s knee was bothering him as much as it was. If I had jogged the entire first half, like I wanted to, my legs probably would have given out much sooner than mile 15.

Of course, that still left me with 11 miles to go, and this time entirely “alone.” I alternated between jogging, walking, and stopping to stretch my cramped legs for most of those 11 miles. Towards mile 22 or so, my knee started becoming an issue, so I stopped jogging and walked, very slowly. I was on a stretch of road that had a wide grassy area for the duration of it, so I walked on the grass to lessen the impact to my joints. I started limping; whatever was happening with my knee was not something I was able to stretch out. So I just listened to my body and didn’t push it. After a painstaking two miles of limping, the pain in my knee disappeared, and so I started a slow jog once again. Upon the quicker pace, I somehow realized that if I went back down to a walk, my knee would act up again. So I jogged the last two miles of the marathon. I listened to Sigur Ros’s “Hoppipolla” on repeat. I watched the ocean get closer and closer. I gave random people high fives. And I crossed the finish line. With a smile on my face.

And as soon as I started walking after the finish line, that magical pain in my knee flared up again, and stuck with me until after the 11 hours of sleep I got that night.

Is there a life lesson involved in this? Sure: Be prepared for whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. And if you’re not prepared, at least be prepared to put effort into it.

this life in LA: driving

You know, I really don’t like driving. I’m not sure when this realization actually set in, but I do everything I can to not have to drive. If I’m not the only person in my car, you can usually find me in the passenger’s seat.

Upon arriving in LA last year, I had many initial scary thoughts about driving in the infamous Los Angeles traffic. I received much advice/consolation when vocalizing these thoughts, and two ideas stood out to me so much then that I still think about them now:

1. Britney Spears drives in LA and handles the traffic. This means anyone can.
2. Make left turns just after the traffic light turns red. Or you’ll never make a left turn.

I was thrown into driving with my first job, and couldn’t even use my own car then. This was upsetting because I bought my car specifically for the move to Los Angeles: a 2011 Ford Fiesta hatchback. I love my car. Sub-compacts are the way to go out here. I can park in the compact parking spots. I have every reason to internally yell at the drivers who park their SUVs in the compact parking spots. I can parallel park without error every time. And in almost any available spot. And there I was driving around a Chrysler minivan. I accidentally cut off my fair share of cars while driving up and down the 5 in that whale. But I digress.

These days, driving here doesn’t phase me. I hate the interstates and avoid them at all costs, and I still do not particularly enjoy driving, but I’ve become used to it out here. My car really did turn out to be the perfect vehicle for LA driving. I take it through Hollywood during rush hour every morning on the commute to work. I’ve learned which roads are the best during rush hour and which roads I am guaranteed to find too much traffic. I am fairly familiar with the area from Burbank all the way down to Santa Monica. If a road is blocked somewhere, I know my way around enough to get back on route. My experiences have also taught me all of this:

1. Drivers switching lanes take entirely too long to merge all the way over. When they are moving to a turning lane, they almost never make it all the way over and traffic has to slow down to drive past them.
2. Do not drive down residential streets during rush hour on trash day. You will hit a trash can. Your side view mirror will lose its back. You will pay $53 to replace it.
3. Side streets are your friends. They are still crowded during rush hour, but you can still get places faster.
4. Make sure you have a live traffic GPS so you can avoid the 101 before ever getting on it.
5. Sometimes the 101 is faster than the Cahuenga Pass. You will always choose the wrong one.
6. Pedestrians have the right of way even during rush hour and jaywalking on Hollywood Boulevard.
7. Driving north on Bronson just before Hollwood gives a very clear view of the coveted Hollywood sign. I don’t care about the Hollywood sign.

I’d like some more additions to this list. Anyone?

this life in LA- parking tickets (and how I got mine refunded!)

I’ve lived in LA for the better part of 10 months now. While I’ve been finding my way on the roads through the crazy traffic and terrible (read: ignorant and insensitive) drivers, I’ve learned there’s even another worry on the roads of Los Angeles: parking tickets.

When I first arrived, I vowed to never EVER get a parking ticket here. California is essentially bankrupt and Los Angeles is out to get everyone with their ridiculously over-priced parking tickets. I did not want to waste my money on that, obviously. So every time I park anywhere, I read and re-read all the signs, I check and double-check the color of the curb, I make sure my car (a tiny Ford Fiesta hatchback, bought specifically for the move to LA) is in the proper confines of the parking spot, and I check all the cars around my to be sure they’re not doing anything special that my car should be doing. When I park in unfamiliar areas, I still walk away from my car wondering if I’m somehow “illegally” parked because I’m not in the know of the rules of the area. Being that careful should be a surefire way to avoid an unnecessary fine, right?

Nope. Wrong. Apparently.

I work on a street that is permit parking only during the entirety of the hours I’m there. I have a visitor parking pass that I display every day from my rearview mirror so that the parking enforcement officers can see that I am legally parked there. Except for that one day I forgot to hang it up.

It was a Thursday, and I remember walking back to the house from The Grove, around 12 noon (having been parked since 9am). I was at the opposite end of the street from my car when it all came crashing into  my mind- “Oh no! My parking pass … crap! It’s still in the glove compartment!” As I approached my car, I saw the tell-tale red and white envelope placed between the windshield and the windshield wiper. Opening it, I found I would now be out $63. What a WASTE of money for a stupid mistake.

I remembered my employer getting a ticket for not having her parking pass properly displayed, and she waved it off saying how it would be easy to fight, she’d just say the pass fell down. I didn’t want to pay the fine, but I also didn’t want to lie. And doing some research online led me to believe that it wouldn’t be easy to contest the ticket either. But I decided it was worth trying to contest it than to just pay the fine blindly.

I was told on the ticket that I had three weeks to either pay the fine or contest the ticket. I could contest it in writing or I could go to the office and try it in person. I am so much better at getting things done through words. I love words. I love putting them together to make them flow. I love having time to carefully plan what I want to say. I love how that time allows me to find a good use of rhetoric. So naturally, I contested the ticket through writing.

I don’t have a printer easily accessible to me, so I (apprehensively) wrote out my contestation with pen and paper. I decided I wouldn’t say anything about having the parking pass visible or not, I would just state the facts of how I park on that street every Monday-Thursday because it is where I am employed, and I have a parking pass, and I always hang it on the rearview mirror just as the directions ask. I included a photocopy of my parking pass. I just wanted to state the facts and see what would happen with them. It was clearly my mistake for forgetting to hang up the parking pass, but I was hoping for a bit of grace.

I got a letter a week later telling me that my ticket was still valid and now I had to pay it within three weeks or I would incur even more fines. I could also try and further contest the ticket by asking for a hearing. I figured that was the end of it, and at least I tried. I had no time whatsoever to go to court and ramble about “the facts,” and risk needing to directly answer the inevitable question “Was your parking pass clearly hanging on your rearview mirror?” I was in the wrong, and at least I tried. So it was over … or was it?

I found also in that second letter that I could request a hearing by mail if I so desired. Yes, please! I once again drafted a letter with pen and paper that looked almost identical to the first I had sent. I stated the facts and didn’t fudge the truth. I also included a photo copy of my parking permit that was identical to the first photo copy, and at this point in the month, that actual permit was expired, so I mailed the physical permit as well. I ended the letter with something along the lines of “I do not know what other evidence I can offer to prove my case except to ask you to take me at my word. I ask that you refund this ticket immediately so that no one else’s time is wasted.”

I sealed it up (along with a $63 check), put it in the mail, and hoped for the best.

A week later I received a letter telling me that my hearing had been scheduled and they would let me know the results accordingly.

Another week and I got what I was looking for in the mail. The first words I saw on the letter were “refund amount: $63” … WHAT?! The rest of the letter outlines what the parking rules are for the street. It outlines what I wrote in my letters, and it is clear when lining the two paragraphs up that I am in the wrong. But then the second page says something wonderful:

… under the particular circumstances of this case, it is evident that Respondent made an error … although parking without a permit visible is technically a violation, the circumstances warrant extending a courtesy dismissal for the citation in the interest of justice …

In the interest of JUSTICE? There are just people in LA? A courtesy dismissal?! Clearly, I caught someone on a good day. June 6, 2012 the stars aligned and someone was in a good enough mood to dismiss my parking ticket. I got a refund check in the mail a week later, and depositing that $63 back into my bank account was ridiculously satisfying.

I’m not saying this will work for everyone (and neither is the city of Los Angeles, as the rest of the letter reads “The Hearing Examiner’s decision for this case is not intended to establish a legal precedent for any other parking citation case …”), but hey, it’s worth a try, right? Sometimes when you catch people in a good mood, wonderful things happen.

the (almost) redemption of Fitzcarraldo (part 2)

(If you’d like to catch up, find part 1 here.)

So, I saw Glen Hansard play at The Wiltern on Wednesday night. It was definitely an evening of mixed emotions.

I had never been to a show at The Wiltern, and was very pleased with the venue. It is a beautiful older building, the architecture in the interior is quite lovely- the ceilings and all the intricacies on them made it a great setting for a show. It is a smaller venue with a standing room floor and a balcony with assigned seats. The floor has a few different levels and that made it nice and easy to find a good place to view the stage. We were basically as close as we could get for the standing room priced tickets.

I went into this show with much anticipation. I knew I would be seeing quality, regardless of the form it took. I was so hopeful to hear my favorite song, due to my conversation with Mr. Hansard on Monday.

There were a few setbacks, mainly due to the people around me- three girls in front of us with terrible, pessimistic attitudes, and a guy behind us who was too drunk (or stoned? Or both?) to act with courtesy. He sang loudly and terribly out of tune, he yelled out to the stage at the most inappropriate times, and he had no care for those of us standing around him. Luckily, he settled down about halfway through the show.

Kelly Hogan opened the show with a 40 minute set. The girl has a killer set of vocal chords and she positively swooned me with her choice of songs. She didn’t appear to have written any of them herself, but she sang them with soul, and passion … and a bit of cockiness that I had to ignore after a while so that I could continue to enjoy her set. That’s all I have to say about her.

When Glen Hansard takes the stage, he positively controls the audience and everything around. He started his set with The Storm, It’s Coming, off of his new solo album (Rhythm and Repose). (Playlist embedded at the end of this post.) To just stride onto stage and sit behind a piano and play a slow, beautiful song as an opener was a great way to get us all hooked into the rest of the evening. He continued with You Will Become, also from the new album.

Let me pause for a moment and comment on how, alongside Colm Mac Con Iomaire, there were two string players (perhaps a violist and a violinist) in the background adding depth to a lot of the music. I would like to know how they got that job, and how I can get that job next time. Every time they came on stage, all I could think about was how awesome it would be if it were me. I would probably do anything to be able to play violin on stage alongside Glen Hansard and Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Next time, it will be me. I will figure this out.

Ok, on to the rest now.

I already mentioned in part one how difficult it is for me to enjoy shows when I am unfamiliar with the music that is being played. While enjoying this show, I started to wonder how it affects the artist who is singing. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two songs Mr. Hansard played, and I attribute this to the face that I was already incredibly familiar with them. The majority of the audience didn’t seem to connect much to those songs, at least in juxtaposition to the third song played- When Your Mind’s Made Up, from the movie Once and from the Swell Season’s 2006 self-titled CD. The feel of the room changed once this very familiar song started, and the audience collectively got involved with the song and enjoyed it together. How does it affect an artist when he is playing a song he so very much enjoys and wants to share but the audience isn’t connecting to?

After this song he played a few more from Rhythm and Repose, including Bird of Sorrow, which is my favorite from the new CD. He prefaced this one with the thought that it is about his Mum, or about Ireland. In the middle he stopped strumming his guitar and wiped tears out his eyes. A truly beautiful moment- the hearts of artists are something to be reckoned with.

After eight songs with a full band backing him up (including the two extra string players and three brass players), Mr. Hansard took the stage to himself for a few songs. This man is a master at pulling you in, particularly when it is just him and his guitar. (His guitar, by the way, had apparently broken right before the show. We got to hear the story of how special it has become to him after filming Once with it, and how a friend from Long Beach drove up to fix it right before the show started.) The passion that Mr. Hansard is able to evoke while playing music (because it is real, unadulterated passion) is something that he passes on to the audience. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a few tears- and not as a crazed fan, just purely as someone who is being moved by the musician and his music. He ended the solo set with a Van Morrison cover, and got more sound out of his acoustic guitar than I’ve heard some full bands make. Epic.

It was halfway through the show at this point, and not at one moment did it yet seem like the right time for Fitzcarraldo to be played. I started getting worried, but tried not to think about it. I really wanted to just enjoy the show for how it was.

With the full band there were quite a few more Swell Season songs played. It was nice to hear the familiar, but I found myself really hoping at every song change to hear something new, or something from the far-off past in the Frames’ discography. It really would have been great to hear a Frames song, particularly since they were all on stage together. As I’ve experienced with all the other Glen Hansard shows I’ve been too, there were a fair amount of “sing-along” songs to participate in. That is always a nice way to be able to connect with the music. The initial set ended with High Horses from the Swell Season’s second album Strict Joy, and they left the stage for a few minutes while we all did our clapping and cheering in anticipation for the encore.

One more song from Rhythm and Repose was played during the encore, and then Lisa Hannigan joined Mr. Hansard on stage and played one of her songs, Little Bird. The rest of her band was brought up and the whole crowd of everyone on stage sang some songs in tribute of Levon Helm. It was at this point I realized Fitcarraldo was nowhere to be found in the evening’s set list, and I did what I could to let that go and enjoy the rest of the evening.

Lisa Hannigan and many of her friends/vocalists, along with Glen Hansard and the entirety of The Frames

The show ultimately ended with The Auld Triangle, performed by Mr. Hansard and the Frames. I am familiar with this song only from this video of Mr. Hansard and Bono recently singing it together. As it seems to have a lot of meaning in Ireland, it was naturally the right way for Mr. Hansard to end his show.

It was a great show. It really was. Glen Hansard knows how to take the stage and he has all the talent he needs to back it up. It is great to see him playing with The Frames because they are all so familiar with playing with each other. They’ve been together for over 20 years at this point. Oh, what I would do to have friends who I could play music with for that long!

Naturally, due to Monday’s events, I left the show feeling a bit saddened. Frustrated, maybe, but ultimately just a bit sad. There’s no one to blame for not hearing “my” song. I just got really excited that I was told I could expect to hear it. I assume it was simply and easily forgotten about. I was, however, surprised to not hear a single Frames song during the entirety of the show- that was more unexpected than just not hearing Fitzcarraldo.

And now I’ll admit this: on Thursday morning while I was eating breakfast, I made a Twitter account for basically the sole purpose of tweeting Mr. Hansard and Mr. Mac Con Iomaire to complement them on the show and slyly “ask” about Fitzcarraldo. Find me @iamRebekahRae. I can’t promise much tweeting activity, but it is nice to be able to directly converse with these musicians who I so strongly respect. (Mr. Mac Con Iomaire did actually respond to me.) I’ll be waiting in anticipation for the next tour, which I can only assume will be at least two years from now. With all that time to wait, I hope that next time this mounting anticipation amounts to something other than a third let down.

Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy my massive collection of Frames, Swell Season, and Glen Hansard discography, and try to convince everyone I know to give them a try as well.

You can start here! Listen to this playlist and it will be like you were at the show!  And the playlist isn’t live. And you can’t see the musicians. But hey, it’s the exact set list of the show on Wednesday at The Wiltern. Enjoy!

 

the (almost) redemption of Fitzcarraldo (part 1)

You may remember this post that professes my respect and admiration for Glen Hansard and the music he writes and performs. About how he is my favorite musician and he can do no wrong when it comes to music. He has massive talent. He seems to be a down-to-earth, well-intentioned human being.

Well, here is another post about him, but this time about the two shows I was privileged enough to attend this week.

I’ll start with Monday. My employers were so kind as to let me leave work a half hour early to drive through rush-hour traffic and find parking in the streets of Hollywood so that I could watch Mr. Hansard perform for free at Amoeba Records.

I was under the impression that this was an acoustic set, which would have been amazing, but upon arrival I saw the stage set up for much more than just Mr. Hansard. Sound check brought Colm Mac Con Iomaire and his violin onto the stage, and as I was surrounded by strangers, I texted my boyfriend my excitement. The full band was there. This tour to promote Glen Hansard’s solo album (Rhythm and Repose) is a tour with all the members of The Frames! My mind was racing. If I could just get a few minutes to talk with Mr. Hansard after the show, surely he’d agree to play my favorite song when I saw him again two days later (see the aforementioned blog post about that saga).

More about that in a few.

The show was fantastic (like I had any doubt?!). The was the first time, according to Mr. Hansard, that the band was playing these songs together on stage. We, the lucky audience at Amoeba, were experiencing the very beginning of the tour. I was happy to have a decent view of the stage, only having to dodge around people’s heads a few times during the show.

A week earlier I found that Rhythm and Repose was streaming on NPR during the days leading up to the release of the album (June 19th), and I listened to it all week (literally), at least two or three times a day. I find it hard to completely enjoy shows when I am unfamiliar with the music, and I was unsure about seeing Mr. Hansard twice before having time to become familiar with his new songs. Thanks to the NPR stream, I basically had them memorized before the Amoeba show. I also then felt like I was the only one singing along, but I didn’t dwell too much on that.

These two are who I get my strongest musical inspiration from- Glen Hansard and Colm Mac Con Iomaire

The show was a decent mix of new and old songs. There were some nice sing-a-longs included- some requested by the man with the guitar, others just happening naturally. It was a nice setting with all of us enjoying the music and the company. I was very happy to hear a Frames song- People All Get Ready– and also happy to hear my favorite off the new CD- Bird of Sorrow (maybe I teared up a bit during that one). I also now have a newfound love for High Hope, which was initially released quite a few years ago on a CD from Music of Ireland- Welcome Home.

So the show ended and Amoeba had a nice deal for us- though it was the evening of the 18th of June, we were able to purchase the CD there, a day before its official United States release date. Also, we couldn’t stand in line and ask Mr. Hansard to autograph anything except the new CD, due to time restrictions. Fair enough- I was intending to buy it anyway and had just assumed I’d need to wait until Wednesday night and purchase it at his show at The Wiltern.

The CD was purchased (thanks, Jeremy!) and we stood in line. For an hour or so. I was hungry. I had been standing for 2.5 hours after 8.5 hours at work. I was also tired just because night time is not my cup of tea. I already have Mr. Hansard’s autograph (twice, actually), and I have met him before. But I was on a mission. I needed to be sure I would hear Fitzcarraldo on Wednesday night.

Having the opportunity to talk with someone you have a deep, appreciative respect for is a wonderful experience. Meeting Mr. Hansard the first time around, though I didn’t talk much, is a memory I will always keep close to my heart. It was outside, after a Swell Season show, and it was laid back- we just waited by the back stage door to see if he would come out to talk with us, and eventually he did. And we all had a good time without worrying about time restraints or people in a line behind us. This meeting at Amoeba, however, I will always look back on and laugh. Or cringe. Both, probably. It is so much more difficult for me (and- everyone? Maybe?) to keep my cool after I’ve been standing in a line for an hour in anticipation for what is to come. It also doesn’t help that there are people rushing you through this meet and greet and rushing the artist as well.

So, the two minutes I had to speak with him went something like this:

—–

*shake hands*

*push my CD towards Mr. Hansard accidentally, so as to rush the whole process even more*

me: “Hi, great show! Phenomenal, really.”

GH: “Thanks.” (Probably something better than that.)

me: “So, I have a favor to ask you … perhaps it’s overstepping my bounds …”

GH: *a little nod, or something*

me: “You see, I saw you in New York City, with The Frames, and you didn’t play my favorite song.”

GH: (immediately, and with genuine interest): “Oh, what is it?”

me: “Fitzcarraldo.”

GH: (immediately, and once again with genuine interest) “I’ll play it on Wednesday, are you going to be there?”

me: “Yes!” *cower backwards a bit* “You have no idea how happy that will make me!”

GH: *searches his pockets and the table for something to write on and remind himself to play the song*

GH’s manager(?): *dismisses GH’s efforts* “I’ll remind you.”

GH: *Thanks his manager* *signs my CD*

me: *Blubbering about how I’ve seen him here and there, my employers met him in February at an awards ceremony (trying to get him to remember they told him about me, and he signed their booklet for me.)*

Jeremy: “She’s your biggest fan.”

me: *(internally- “oh no, not the biggest fan thing.”) More blubbering. This time about how I’ll follow him everywhere, I’ll even be in Dublin on August 8th and will look for him if that’s where he’ll be. Basically sounding like a stalker.*

GH’s manager(?)to GH: “You’ll be here in LA on August 8th.”

me: *(internally- “so much for that.”)*

*Jeremy and I walk away after saying bye. GH looks at me in the eye and tells me again he’ll be sure to play Fitzcarraldo on Wednesday. My heart is pounding and there is too much adrenaline. My mouth trips over my second goodbyes. I get out of the store as fast as I can.*

—–

I write this only because I can actually laugh about it. I hope that Mr. Hansard can realize that while a lot of his interactions with fans are like this (it’s not only me, right?!), we’re not all crazy. The moment is difficult. I wish I could keep composure. Maybe next time.

I left Amoeba positively elated (albeit, heart pounding). It had been a great night and I was essentially promised to hear my favorite song by my favorite artist, in just two short days. Fitzcarraldo was finally going to be experienced as it should be!

This is where you wait in great anticipation for part two! (Only because this post is long enough in its own right.)