So, I would say I'm a singer. For a long time, actually. I don't get to do it very often, because 1.) I really don't like most musical theatre and 2.) I don't know how to read music. But I've gotten to the point where I can actually admit that I sing, pretty competently. And I've even done it on stage sometimes. For audiences. I'm also trained. I've taken voice lessons with multiple teachers in the past. I've sung in choirs, and even been in a musical or two, despite the hairy eyeball I cast upon the genre.
Back last fall, when I first signed up for Ladies' Rock Camp on the recommendation of my friend and frequent collaborator Machelle Allman, and was filling out the application, I waffled back and forth between being a drummer or a vocalist. I've wanted to learn drums ever since doing a super female-focused and punk RAWK version of Cowboy Mouth (written, as legend would have it, by Sam Shepherd and Patti Smith, yes, THE PATTI SMITH, while shacking up together at the Chelsea Hotel, passing a manual typewriter back and forth between them) with the most AWESOME thrash band out of Olympia (Tight Bros From Way Back When). At every performance, the drummer would break several drumsticks, and after the show, I would quietly collect the remnants and I still have them today on my little artist altar. Anyway - I decided to be a vocalist, because I felt like doing the camp would be pretty out of my comfort zone as it was, since I don't feel like I am necessarily the most dynamic performer when I am the one who is supposed to be leading the charge.
The Monday night before camp, I felt the first little tickle in my throat, which just got progressively worse and worse throughout the week, and when time came for camp on Friday morning, the plague had progressed...not sure if it was a mild flu or a bad cold, but I still felt like crap as I entered the Vera Project's doors, uncertain as to whether I should even proceed. I mean: VOCALS? With a CHEST COLD??? Awesome. Having just gotten laid off and not really being in a position where I can just kiss off the something-hundred dollars I'd paid to be part of the camp, I decided, somewhat reluctantly, to persevere.
Despite many years of stage performances under my belt, I'm more of an introvert than an extrovert. I'm better one-on-one than in groups, especially LARGE groups with lots of people I don't know. So as I entered the big room with all the ladies, and saw many of them sitting already in groups together at tables laughing and talking, I felt shy and intimidated, and went over to sit on one of the couches by myself, reasoning to myself that I was quarantining everyone from my germs. Presently, one, then another of these ladies came over and sat by me, and we struck up a little conversation, and it was nice not to feel totally on the outside. Rachel and Eva, I thank you for that little act of solidarity.
Eventually, we got herded off to our Instrument Instruction groups, which put me with all the other vocalists. As we went around the circle, there were a couple campers that sounded absolutely terrified either to come up with a song, or to sing in front of people, and tears came up. It was such an honor and a privilege to be in that room and slowly feel the terror shift energetically into something different: a willingness, maybe? An anticipation? Led by Kira and Stephanie, who let all our fears and preconceptions about ourselves and each other air out and transform into support and inspiration.
A little later on, we got placed into our bands. As I got my first glimpse at the women I'd be creating and playing with in that main room, I felt a little uncertain. The four of us are supposed to write a song together? We're strangers. WE can't possibly have ANYTHING in common. I didn't say that, though. I still felt like crap, so I was conserving my energy. No superfluous talk, movement or thought. I think this ended up serving me well.
And then, of course, the magical Sue Ennis came to gave us our songwriting seminar, as we sat with our newly-formed bands in the main room. I kept looking over at that mural of what I kept thinking of as "Icharus".
OUR BAND: Barb, on guitar. Libby, on bass. Amber, on drums. Me, vocals. And our two coaches, Maggie and Darcey.
So, this post is a bit of a "test run". When I was in 8th grade, The Day After aired on television. It was the junior high equivalent of a water-cooler topic - we were ALL talking about it beforehand, and we were definitely all talking about it the day after. As a movie, it wasn't the most perfect example of speculative fiction, but it served as great fodder for classroom discussion (especially in the middle of the cold war!). I remember a friend and I, during summer vacation, creating our own fictional bunker in case of nuclear war - we'd spend hours just figuring out how long we'd have to stay underground, who we'd like to bring with us and what kind of sewage/water/food systems we'd have to subsist on. The Day After was probably my formal introduction to the subgenre, likely the first I'd thought of it, and was the kickoff to a lifetime's fascination.
Sub genre of what, you ask? Is apocalypse/aftermath fiction horror? Is it science fiction? I've long had a fear it will become science FACT. I like the umbrella term "Speculative Fiction". Under its wings you might find Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, etc. And I suppose, depending on the type of apocalypse, you would then go on to put things under those subcategories...zombie apocalypse might fall under horror, whilst robots destroying the world might fit better with Science Fiction.
In high school, I read my first Stephen King novel, The Stand, which tells the story of a world decimated through a superflu plague. Another of my friends had also read it, and we spent hours on the phone each night imagining what we might do in such a scenario, where we might travel, what and who we might bring, and how we might rebuild society. Obviously, I was hooked.
Several decades later, I am no less fascinated and intrigued by the different iterations of fictional apocalypse, and have happily devoured many television, film and book tales with varied and imaginative end times. I’ve even written a couple of post-apocalyptic plays. And there is no shortage of end days’ paranoia, given the current political situation and global climate, to think about. Climate change anyone? Nuclear war? How ‘bout some ebola?
Right now, my intention is to start an entire apocalyptic blog on the subject and of course, all its potential subcategories, because, though I have very little control over things unfolding on the world stage, at least I can have some control over this. I'll discuss zombies, aliens, asteroids, WWIII, acts of god, no armageddon is off limits, and maybe I'll throw in speculation about how one might survive such a thing, and even discuss putting together different sorts of survival kits for your more run-of-the-mill cataclysm. I'll make book, film and tv recommendations on each subcategory, because lord knows I've consumed a lion's share!
If this is your thing and you're intrigued, feel free to take a look! And if you have any suggestions, thoughts, or ideas on topics you might enjoy reading about within the subject, please feel free to share your feedback.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.