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#18 Part-Time Model: Queen of Nothing

I played model with Melissa Stukenholtz of Gorman House Photography again. I tried to feel less embarrassed this time than I did for the "Only Way Down" photo shoot in 2014. I've been told (not by Missy) the self-deprecation thing gets annoying. Fine. Yes. I suppose so. But when I feel like an ass, I'm going to say so, and then I'm going to laugh about it because that's what I do. That's what makes everything better--making fun of myself. Strutting around like a pretend peacock does not make everything better. In fact, in my experience, it makes most things worse. Pretend peacocking is simply not sustainable.

I understand the phenomenon of manifesting the things you say to and about yourself. But I also think intent is worth a mention here. And most of the time I self-deprecate because I think it's funny and it keeps me light--not because I am full of self-loathing. Behind the jokes, I think I'm alright. Imperfections and all: I like my music; I like my voice; I like the way I write; I like the way I'm leading my life. I'm even fine with how I look. But it doesn't mean I feel amazing in front of a camera, even when a fun and irreverent friend is behind it.

That's what wine is for.

And so the wonderfully irreverent Missy and I spent an hour or so drinking wine straight from the bottle in an abandoned house/raccoon shit depository. There was graffiti on the wall that we hoped wasn't demonic, and I wore impractical footwear part of the time. Missy was kind enough to tell me where not to step, on account of the rotting floors, animal carcasses, exposed tetanus nails, and whatnot. That's what friends are for--to tell you where not to step.

She even went along with my goofball idea to bring a handmade paper crown and 1970s Little People Castle. (Note: I played with that castle as a wee tiny child and stole it from my parents' storage room.)

It relates. I've named the album: Queen of Everything. It wasn't hard. It's a song title. But it's THE song title. If I am ever going to have an anthem song, it will be this one. It's ironic, by the way. And it's self-deprecating, which I guess is why I brought it up in the first place--self-deprecation, that is.

The night before and morning of the photo shoot, my 4-year-old son, Fisher, and I made fancy crowns out of card stock, glue, glitter, stickers, and mosaic tiles. Then I took him to his t-ball game, because that's what boys do after they make glittery crowns with their mothers. They go play baseball. After the t-ball game, I sent Fisher with his dad and then I rushed home to get ready for the photo shoot.

I was already running late when I realized I had not yet picked out clothes. A mom fresh from a Little League ball field, I did not know what to put on my body. I knew I wanted jeans and a t-shirt for the "queen" pics, but I hadn't actually thought about the more traditional shots--the kind of photos I'd use to promote shows with grand pianos and real grown-ups. People who might not be interested in my private jokes and personal ironies.

So I slapped together my stretchy black pants with a shirt my mother handed down to me the week before (because she didn't really like it that much). Because it came from my mother, it likely came from Talbots or Younkers or Kohls. I don't know. What I do know is that you're never too old to accept hand-me-downs.

A note, poignant to me, about those pants which I hadn't really thought about until after-the-fact, when I was looking at the finished photos: I bought them to wait tables after I'd left my marriage and moved in with my parents.

Despite a graduate degree and over 15 years of professional experience, I couldn't find a job. Not even an interview. Four years as a stay-at-home mom really does a number on your resume, I guess. I decided it was a sign that I could make a real go as a musician and wait tables on the side. So I booked up my time with gigs and found a job waiting tables with very kind people. Uniform: white button-down shirt, men's tie (Oy.), plain black pants. I collected my tips in a mason jar on the dresser in my parents' guest room.

I'd waited tables off and on for years in my 20s and was never very good at it. My brain is too slow and riddled with caverns. As it turns out, age has not fixed these things. Still slow. Still cavernous. Nice try, P. Regardless, it was costing me time with my son, and so I made a new plan, returned to my career in school psychology, and everything is working out just fine.

At any rate... Little League... no clothes... hand-me-downs... I was late to my photo shoot. So away I went, late, covered in Little League dust, with my paper crown and 1970s toys. Add to that a bag full of clothes:

  • hand-me-down shirt from my mom;

  • table-waiting, stay-at-home-mom-turned-divorcee-who-can't-find-a-job black pants;

  • jeans (which, come to think, were hand-me-downs from my sister who bought them at some kind of home denim party (These exist?) and then decided they were too whore-ish to wear, and so naturally offered to ME, because... well... you see;

  • t-shirt stolen from Man-Friend's stack of t-shirts;

  • Vans sneakers (mine! actually mine!);

  • and 2 pairs of boots: 1) the tall tan pair I wear when I'm trying, which isn't very often; and 2) the red boots I've been wearing for almost 20 years.

There. Queen. Of this absolute fucking mess. But it's my mess, and I'm good with it.

While throwing it all together I hadn't given it much thought. But in retrospect, I'm pretty impressed with my subconscious. This album, every song on it, tracks a portion of the last 2 years of Life Overhaul. Even the clothes in my photo shoot reflect it.

So: Queen of Everything. Or Nothing. Either way, it's cool.


Tracking is mostly done. I have a few more sessions booked for harmonies and some additional instrumentation. Hopefully mixing mid-July. Off to mastering. Then the Big Finish. *Jazz Hands*

I've been working out harmonies in the car while working. I serve 2 different school districts and 6 different schools, all rural. As I drive between buildings, I sing. When the album comes out, you will know that the harmonies were born in the driver's seat of my dirty car, driving past cows and chickens, on my way to observe children in varying degrees of disarray.

And there you have it.

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