full circle

. . .from an upward battle of struggles and emotions to a journey of healing, growth, and laughter. . .

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between a rock and a heartache

I spent the afternoon at a workshop called WritersConnect put on by Songwriters Association of Canada, as part of Culture Days (an arts and culture event series across Canada). The session was supposed to focus on mentorship and collaboration in songwriting—“a professional works with two emerging writers on new and current material with help from the audience”—but in the end, it was a two-hour discussion on co-writing and tri-writing (I learned a new word today), and the panelists gave us a tonne of useful, practical tips for songwriting. [One of the panelists was Ron Irving, a veteran Canadian singer/songwriter and a connected musician in Nashville (the epicentre of country music).]

My favorite part was hearing their sources for song ideas. Being more lyrically (not musically) inclined, I write lyrics first and only when I need to release my feelings about a particular experience. And then I write the music. Most musicians will write a melody or a hook on their instrument first and then write the lyrics around that musical element. As a creative writer, I have always found this odd and backwards. But maybe, after I finish all the songs in progress, I’ll try it their way.

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music education

i knew the workshop was going to start with a session called “what’s in a song”, and i thought it would be about song structure. instead, it was dan hill talking to us about his personal experiences and how his songs came to be. (shame on you if you don’t know who he is – canadian singer/songwriter who wrote a couple of hits in the 80s and has written songs for celine dion, britney spears, 98 degrees, backstreet boys, rod stewart, donny osmond, michael bolton, tina turner, tammy wynette, reba, alan jackson, etc.)

his first sentiment resonated with me immediately. he acknowledged that people don’t start writing songs to make money. he said we write songs because of something that has happened to us in our lives, such as tragedy, and sometimes it’s only after something like that when we write songs. i reflected how i, too, only started writing songs after a very emotional personal experience.

mr. hill was quite entertaining with his humour and charm. he told us many stories behind his songs, but two stand out. he said he was married to a woman who was very conservative and different from he was. one time, he had to make a music video that involved a love scene, but for anyone who knows about production, the room was full of cameramen, crew, etc., so it was far from reality. regardless, his wife had been upset about it and complained about it to all of her friends and family. this experience consequently upset dan, so he wrote a song about it. and as he was writing the song, he heard his wife talking on the phone to someone about the music video again. that turned into a lyric in the song: “i hear you on the telephone with god knows who, spilling out your heart for free.” and then he went on to play the song for us…

another was about a song he wrote when he was 22 about an older woman he was dating. he played the song to her over the phone, and she told him he was really intense. he played us the song on guitar, but i didn’t recognize it. he said the song never went anywhere until years later when he was given the opportunity to collaborate with barry mann. he gave barry his lyrics, and barry wrote the music

the main point i took away from dan was that songwriting is a fluid process, and what you start with may turn into something else. he said he read ‘the book of negroes’ (his brother is novelist lawrence hill) when it was first written, but when it was published, it was a completely different story.

during the break, i bought his own novel, “i am my father’s son” about his complex relationship with his father (human-rights activist), who passed away in 2003. he autographed it, and we chatted for a minute (he told me he liked my name… i didn’t think guys used that line anymore {chuckle}).

the workshop continued with the business side of things… revenue streams by terry o’brien from socan and music publishing by (mr) jodie ferneyhough, formerly of universal music. it was good to get the background on these topics {a better explanation than the one i got from M, lol}, even if i won’t need it.

the best part was the last session, when we listened to excerpts of over 30 of the 80+ songs submitted by workshop participants, and then the panellists gave feedback. the panellists included dan hill and andrew allen for the musician perspective and jeff winskell (virgin radio music director) and jodie ferneyhough for the commercial perspective.

i was really impressed with a lot of the songs i heard. in fact, there were a few female singer/songwriters whom i wish i had followed up with afterwards, as they were totally the type of vocalist i love and would want for my songs. about two or three songs were simply crap, but i suppose you could say that’s just my opinion, lol.

the recurring comments from the panellists were shorter intros, get to the chorus quickly, and non-abstract lyrics. so after everything i heard them say, i’m going back to the drawing board with my song to adjust it with some additional ideas {i can hear M think ‘i told you so’}.

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dark chocolate

i just got home from the keith urban concert. it’s the second time i’ve seen him play, and he was just as energetic and amazing as the first time. i went alone. i always go to concerts alone because i don’t have any friends who are into music.

i thought about T the whole time, for a few reasons. he was the one who got me into keith urban. and then during one of our break ups, i bought keith urban’s album and connected to the songs – listened to them over and over while i was so sad. and then he happened to come to vancouver a few months later, and i went to see him play. tonight, i thought about how T would have liked the concert, i wondered how his own music was going, wondered if he was ok, wondered if he ever thought about me.

having clea and oreo around has been so wonderful. i love them so much. and they love me. i have spent the last two weeks watching them play, getting to know their habits, trying to figure out their quirks. my favorite time is when i let myself fall asleep on the couch (i have a week off work), so that they will cuddle next to me (or, in clea’s case, on top of me).

and yet still i cannot stop binge eating on junk food. it is completely emotional eating. i think about starting up my plan again (cutting out carbs and working out three to four times a week) and look forward to losing the weight again, but i still buy junk food. and i still eat it.

my friend who had been keeping me smiling has hurt me. things got a bit tense last weekend, and our conversation ended abruptly. i switched to email and told him he had hurt me. he told me he remembered the old me and was struggling with trying to understand me now. it’s like we women talk and they men never hear what we say. i told him i was self-conscious about my weight gain. i told him i didn’t know why he didn’t understand that i am not the old me {which is eight years ago i might add} anymore because of everything that has happened to me. i was very blunt and said all the suicide attempts, abuse of drugs/alcohol, different meds, hospital visits, therapy, and weight gain had taken the fun out of me. i told him i didn’t know what else to tell him to make him understand.

he never wrote back.


life is made of moments

i’ve been back on my meds for almost eight months now. i don’t cry myself to sleep every night anymore. i feel like i can function quite well – both at work and at home. i am actually excited about things, like my sister and the kids’ visit next weekend and getting my kittycats. and i think maybe {maybe} i am slowly {slowly} getting through the pain of losing T and missing him every night.

but despite moving forward in these small ways, i have regressed to binging on junk food. the last time this happened during one of our breakups, i gained 30 lbs in three weeks. a year ago, i was so depressed about my weight that i took action. i cut out my two favorite carbs (pasta and potatoes) for a month, cut out junk food entirely, kept a food diary, and went to the gym 3-4 times a week. in four months, i had lost 25 lbs. i was so proud of myself. my goal was to lose 45 lbs, so i was well on my way. then a trip interrupted my fitness routine, and i couldn’t get back into it. earlier this year, i started gaining some of the weight back. and in the last few weeks, i started binging on potato chips and mircowave popcorn {damn, i never should have bought a microwave at christmas, lol}. i’d eat a whole bag of chips instead of dinner every night. and when i ran out, i would make sure i stopped at the store on my way home from work and pick up another bag… or two. last week, i switched to popcorn and ate two bags at a time soaked with extra butter. i know this is wrong. i know this is messed up. i know, i know, i know. but i can’t stop. what has happened to me? i forced myself to get on the scale – once last week and once this week. i am now 6 lbs away from being at my fattest again. after all that work i had done last year. it’s like i fell off the treadmill and broke my legs. i understood why i binge ate last time – a direct consequence of the break up. but why now? i’m functioning at a reasonable level. why now?

~ ~ ~

i’ve been chatting online with an old friend of mine in australia the last couple of weeks. we go through periods of staying in touch and being distant, usually because he’s always in some kind of relationship and forgets about me. but he has a “window” at the moment, and i’ve allowed myself to connect with him again to distract me from the sadness. it’s been really good – we’ve mainly been reminiscing about our time together eight years ago. he has been making me smile and laugh, which feels really good. i wish it could last, but i know he will start another relationship and forget about me. i told him about my depression, which he never knew about when i was in australia, but while he acknowledged it, he was quick to move on to a lighter subject. i have been talking about my depression for so long that sometimes i talk about it too freely for others not to be uncomfortable, whether it’s because they are scared or just don’t understand it. i wish he would be open to me talking about it and ask questions, but he doesn’t. that’s ok.

after last night’s conversation, i headed to bed and felt sad again. i wish i could maintain my moments of happiness, but they are just that. moments. i can only hang on long enough until it passes.

i started thinking about letting go. and i mean really letting go… of T. i don’t know how to. i have always relied on time… in time, i will be able to let go… it’s not something i can force myself to do. as i drifted off to sleep, words formed in my head. words that T might say to me… a new song about letting go. a song that T might sing to me. i haven’t written a new song in a year. i was confused but content. maybe it will teach me how to let go.

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musician standard time

back in the day, i had an insatiable desire for music. as a teen, i watched muchmusic (canada’s music video channel) every night while doing homework. i recorded all my favorite videos until i had a stack of 22 vhs tapes. i bought half a dozen CDs the day my dad gave me a cd player for my birthday. in university, i volunteered at the radio station as PR/arts and entertainment coordinator, promoted local bands, and went to their gigs every weekend. i had a lot of friends in bands. after i finished university and moved to italia, i was exposed to dance music, r&b, house, and electronic. when i returned three years later, i was really out of touch with the local music scene. (i still am.) but i reconnected with some old musician friends a few years ago. through some of those connections, i met T. T is an amazing musician – the most talented i’ve ever known. after playing bass for years since he was a kid, he taught himself guitar and began songwriting. i will forever cherish the tears when i heard the beautiful song he wrote for my birthday a couple of weeks after we fell in love. i will never forget the night he sang that song for the first time at a gig and dedicated it to me. {oh god, i miss him. 😦 }

{focus, focus}

{oh yeah…}

my friend at work (not the woman who was moving, whom i no longer consider a friend by the way, but the other one i had talked to – let’s call her martha*) had told me that her nephew’s band was playing at a bar downtown tonight, and i told her i would go with her. but last night, i started getting anxious. if you read my earlier blogs, you might be aware that i get anxious when i go downtown because i’m afraid i will run into T. see, he lives downtown. i live across the bridge near the beach. downtown is his space; the beach is mine. but sometimes, i need to go downtown for errands. i’m so scared to run into him – will he acknowledge me? will he be civil to me? will he say anything to me? will he smile at me? will he be happy to see me? or will he ignore me? will he hate me? will he tell me to !#$% off? realistically, i knew i wouldn’t run into him at all. i couldn’t imagine he would be at that particular bar, but YOU JUST NEVER KNOW, DO YOU? i stressed over it in bed all night. {sigh}

this afternoon, martha called to tell me she was sick and had been for a few days and wasn’t going to make it tonight. i had been too busy at work all day to stress over whether i would run into T, but at that moment, a part of me breathed a sigh of relief at not having to go downtown. i still think about him every day and wonder how he’s doing, how his songwriting is going, if he’s still working at the hotel………….. does he miss me……..? has he forgotten about me…….? does he have a new girlfriend………………………….?

when will the heartache end?

{focus, focus}

{focus, focus, focus}

{FOCUS, damn it, FOCUS!}

{sigh……i can’t.}

{forget it.}

{maybe tomorrow…}

*i’m making up the names for my entertainment.