Inspiration in the most unexpected places

I have a day job.

It’s not something super fancy or anything to be proud of, but I make a decent salary, have benefits, and get a few vacation and sick days here and there. It’s pretty comfy.

The problem with my day job is that it’s taking time away from writing (and taking my sanity, bit by bit, with every inane phone call I get from a woman in Minnesota who can’t find her phone’s power on button). This is where it gets a little bit interesting.

Last week, I started taking phone calls for a new area of my company. We do cell phone service and domain name registration – I’m more well versed in the phone side of things, and am still learning how to deal with domain names and email issues. A man called in yesterday trying to get his email started on his Mac, which immediately gave me two problems as a) I’m still learning about email and b) I can’t stand Macs and as a result have no idea how their OS works. (It seems a very strange oversight to me not to have a “home” type launcher or a more accurate search bar.)

This gentleman was on the phone with me for over an hour. We slowly got email to work on his tablet, then his laptop, but at last glance we were still trying to work out getting email onto his desktop. He took the time while we were waiting for downloads or updates to ask a bit about me, and I soon revealed that I’d rather be working in music, and that I’ve started writing songs as a gateway to that ideal. He was very impressed (though he has no proof of whether or not I have any talent!) and regaled me with stories of his Californian friends who knew people who knew people. Apparently the Beach Boys liked to rent out rooms in peoples’ mansions for $20,000 a week and fill them with sand. Whatever gets you going creatively, I guess.

This gentleman and I struggled to get his email working (Safari couldn’t open it, so we downloaded FireFox) to no avail. He sympathised with the difficulty of starting any creative endeavour. “You’re not Elton John,” he said (and I laughed a little as my sister’s nickname for me is, in fact, Kiki Dee), “you can’t write a song in an instant. Candle in the Wind was written in 5 minutes on the back of a napkin. Don’t worry about that. You’re not competing with Elton John. One day, you will be, but by then you’ll be able to write a song in 5 minutes, too. Until then, don’t worry about it.”

I told him I want to write an EP by the end of the year. “How many songs does that entail?” he asked me. “About 8-12.” “Well that’s perfect!” he said, “just write one song a month. That’s all you need. Don’t worry about writing any more than that; even if you have some songs you don’t like, you’ll still have the songs you aimed for.” I couldn’t deny this.

I’ve been worrying lately that I’m not writing enough, or well enough, or fast enough. This anonymous gentleman from California – a lawyer who couldn’t open his email – reassured me that I don’t have to be at that level right now. Baby steps. If you look at a mountaintop right away you’ll miss the basic steps that get you there. I’ll get there.

I’m picking out a Thermos for you

My brother, Mittens, and I recently watched Steve Martin’s The Jerk, a classic staple of comedic cinematography that our parents would not stop quoting, so we sat down to see why. Now we get it.

The scene that surprised Mittens the most was the romantic walk on the beach that Martin and Bernadette Peters’ characters share, because the song (Tonight You Belong to Me) was actually quite lovely, and went almost uninterrupted by something funny. I had heard the song before while working (briefly) at a bar called Insomnia (before I was fired for sleeping in… sigh) on a CD of ukulele songs, and had fallen quite in love with the vocal harmonies. So now that we’ve had proper inspiration, Mittens and I will join our sister‘s quest to learn to play the ukulele and form the world’s tinniest sounding band. What we really want is to add the almost-ten-year-old sister in on the upright bass to round out the sound.

Please welcome to the stage: Biggie and the Smalls!

Our first song would be Baba O’Riley, because we all agree that is the best song, and also it’s ironic because only one of us is currently a teenager. Also the beginning would sound hella awesome on ukuleles and the bass could possibly be played with a hammer.

EMI GET ON THIS THIS IS SOME GOOD STUFF

Living in the sunlight, loving in the moonlight

…having a wonderful time.

(Thought I’d ruin all your good-weather moods with a little earworm-maker known as Tiny Tim. Just try getting it out of your head.)

Today I had the most wonderful 19C picnic. Early spring (still technically winter), grass sprouting, sun warming the earth (and waking up the bees… oh, the bees), and two out of three of my siblings in the park near my house with a manwich apiece. Well, my brother’s was the true Dagwood, but he’s also 17, tall, and skinny, so that’s to be expected.

Anyway, I brought my trusty guitar Monty along with us and set up an impromptu jam with my brother. Baby sister said we should get a busking licence, because “well, you’re not doing anything, and he’s not doing anything… except lie around the house and be lazy. He should get off his butt and do music.” Which was her way of telling her plenty-older siblings to get a job. I WILL WHEN YOU DO

So there you have it. Summer employment opportunity in an entrepreneurial musical venture as coerced by an almost-ten-year-old. Sounds almost fancy when you put it that way.

My little sister gave me a bear

Apparently the best thing for writer’s block is a little brown plastic bear with big eyes. This is according to my baby sister, anyway. I asked her what I should write and she exclaimed “this!” as she thrust the toy in front of me. And I thought, why not? After all, most of her philosophies hold water.

For example, she theorises that since her job isn’t math, she won’t do math. Makes sense. She also seems to think sideways shuffling is a more effective mode of transportation than the traditional “evolved bipedal forward motion,” and currently is exhibiting the benefits of inverse standing over the more common “standing on your feet.”

I think society as a whole needs to adopt an attitude like this. Draw things that don’t exist. Sing as you skip down the street. Make up words (and dance routines). Make room in your life for a little reckless abandon. Maybe if we all lighten up a bit and stop taking things (like math) so seriously,  we can all be as happy as this little pixie.

Baby Sister

Though she sometimes does such amazing things as donating over a foot of hair to charity, my baby sister (almost 10 years old!) still has enough of our family’s ridonkeykong genes to completely astound you with her wtf-ness.

Case in point: as I’m sitting here in my parents’ house, my sister waltzes in with a shirt full of Lego bits and proclaims “I’m Patrick Star!”

So I ask, naturally, whether she can use her belly button lint to build things. She replies “No, but I can turn my stomach into a bed!”

What?

Wednesday comic!

Like a Tuesday comic, only Wednesdayer.

My sister was only 6 at the time.

So I told you I would post part 1 later. This is part one! This is why little girls should avoid asking big sisters (with little to no censor buttons) why boys are boys and girls are girls. Little girls should ask mommies who have experience with this question. Actually, come to think of it, my mom was similarly blunt with me. Maybe not so anatomically specific, but certainly blunt… that probably explains a lot.

FINALLY

I got my computer back. I left it at my parents’ house when I left after Christmas and that was two whole days ago. Which means I a) just finished hyperventilating, b) desperately need to answer about an hour’s worth of emails, c) obviously am procrastinating on that and d) am late for Tuesday Comic once again.

My sister thinks I’m gross. She’s right.

This was drawn back in the days of Biology at U of T, which were soon thwarted by OrgChem as a prereq to every other upper year class ever. I had intended to become a medical illustrator and discovered that many illustrators with Bio backgrounds were chosen over those with Fine Arts degrees. Then I failed Chemistry and went back to English, the end. (Also, yes, it does say “pt. 2” and I will issue pt. 1 soon. BECAUSE I CAN.)

Noooo…

I totally forgot about the very existence of Comic Tuesday and now it is Not Comic Friday. Dang.

Here is a belated comic in tribute to my family and the loving bonds between siblings:

Scully’s driving?? DRINK

This comic is made even better by the fact that I will NEVER HAVE UNDERGRAD ENGLISH HOMEWORK AGAIN. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

Dinner party

My sister recently issued a hypothetical question (she loves to do that) involving which 5 celebrities or historical figures, living or dead, you would invite to a dinner party. Not only must they be interesting to you, but they must have common topics on which to speak and must be able to get along with each other… for example, inviting Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill could either be fantastic (because of their quips and witticisms) or terrifying (if it turned out they wore similar cravats or failed to greet each other with the proper panache).

It’s taken me awhile to come up with my celebrity dinner party, but here goes:

1. Jon Stewart. Because if conversation gets out of hand he can mediate and direct to a better, more common ground. I’d also ask a lot of questions about the guests he’s hosted over the years. Also he is teh sexc.

2. Damian Kulash. Not just because of my overwhelming crush on him coupled with crippling hero worship, but because he is a genuine brilliant soul. Also artistic. Also gorgeous. But he has to have shaggy hair if he’s allowed at my party.

3. Ellen DeGeneres. Why I tend to be aiming toward talk show hosts here is unknown, but as with Stewart, DeGeneres has wit, charm, a sense of humour, and the ability to steer conversation. She also has a broad range of knowledge which would lead to interesting conversations.

4. Oscar Wilde (sans Winnie). His prose is among the most haunting, his wit also razor-sharp, his imagination boundless. I can only imagine the clever put-downs he’d give me over my cooking. Scratch that, this is a catered affair.

5. David Sedaris. I will make him recite his “Six to Eight Black Men” in honour of the season, and we will bond over being short and having lots of siblings.

This would be the best party ever.

Edited to add: If there were any more space at the table, or one of the guests couldn’t make it, Betty White would be next on the list. Because she’s a strong woman, embraces her age instead of fighting it, has a career that keeps picking up speed, and she’s a total baller.

My siblings

We’ve bin talkin’ fe’ th’lass ‘alf houh wiv varyus kinds o’Bri-ish accens. Vissus wot we do when we get togevvah. Woi? Woi no’, s’wot I ahsk.