Thursday, January 19, 2017

Me, doing yoga.

All that boasting about my newfound daily yoga practice yesterday, and I skipped this morning! But I was helping my mom take a 3-hr test that required breathing into a tube every 20 minutes, and yoga just didn't fit in that schedule. I did drag my mat out of her car and move around a few rugs in order to stretch a bit in her living room. Then I took a yogie selfie of myself doing Downward-Facing-Dog because I was impressed that I could get my legs straight and my heels down.

Check me out, friends:

I put it on my Instagram (@brigidkaelin), you know, like you're supposed to do when you do yoga, but I'm feeling a little proud of myself which means I'm completely missing the point, I know. I'm less proud of being flexible and more proud that I have actually done something so many days in a row. Follow-through has not been my forte lately, especially in a time where it is impossible to plan more than a day in advance because of medical appointments, etc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday confessional: I've been doing yoga.

I've gotten a bit out of shape in the past two months. Oddly, lots of people seem to think I've lost weight (and I have lost the baby weight, but I lost that before anyone started commenting on it), but mostly I've been a lazy bum.

Confession: Since my mom began chemotherapy in December, I have had her car -- you know, lest I need to run errands for her or take her to the hospital at 3 am. It also means I've been driving the 0.3 mile to the grocery and 0.5 mile to preschool and the 0.5 mile to her house. It's ridiculous.

In light of that, I have another confession: I have been going to yoga.

You might be thinking: this is an artist who is also a vegetarian, who doesn't own a car, who had a home birth ... of COURSE she does yoga, right?

Well, I've done a few yoga videos and podcasts here and there, specifically prenatal ones to prepare for birth, but I've only ever been to a handful of classes over the past 10 years. I have not actually ever enjoyed a yoga class.

Truthfully, I don't like group things -- except bands. My social anxiety kicks in, and even though I know yoga isn't about the other people, I still feel like there is always someone there who is either super loud about how healthy he is or who is doing handstands at me ... "as a warmup." I'm trying to not care anymore, even though I do wish I could wear an invisibility cloak to class.

But in the past 14 days, I have been to 12 yoga classes. 

I'm not going to lie and say that I love them -- yet. But I love that I have gone to them. I love being a little bit sore. I love being able to touch my toes again. These are much more fun than any previous classes I've attended, and I look forward to them. The front desk crew knows me by name now (and offered a bit of therapy after class today), and I've even brought my mom to a couple of the more gentle classes.

But, secretly, I think I really like the ones that make me sweat.

I skipped a day last Friday, and that afternoon I was an irritable, complaining and generally horrible person. (I know, I know, I'm too hard on myself.) I'm not sure if it's the exercise, the meditation or perhaps simply the alone time, but something about having done yoga makes my head a lot lighter -- what a revelation, right?

I have questioned whether blocking out a 2-hour chunk of my day to use a babysitter and not focusing on my career is the smart thing to do. But I'm sticking with it a few more weeks -- at least until I can go up the stairs without panting.

Today I went to a morning yoga class and the babysitter offered
to stay extra so I could get some writing done and work
on my taxes. WINNER. 
Shout out to my brilliant sister-in-law who has been watching the baby, so I can go get sweaty. Folks, it's amazing what having another adult around the house has already done for my well-being.

Thanks for the nice folks at 502 Power Yoga for opening shop within walking-distance of my house -- although, who am I kidding? I've driven my parents' car to every class so far. (Face-smack)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017: New Beginnings & Planning a Routine.

You have noticed that I haven't blogged as often as I would have liked to lately. Partly that is because of depression -- something I don't hide, but also don't flaunt. Partly that is because I don't have time; I solo parent 200+ days a year. Partly that is because I've got a lot of stressful things going on. Like, big stuff.
Family photo! 

My mom is sick again -- cancer sick -- and it's got the whole family doing a lot of thinking and over-thinking. Life, death, taxes, deeds, mobility ramps, adventures ... things that we would have like to continue putting off thinking about for many years, but that have suddenly been forced to the forefront.

Something that has improved life immensely: David's oldest sister has come to live with us for a while.

If you know me well, you know that David's job for the past 3.5 years has been 80-100% travel. I didn't advertise that on my social media pages because I didn't want the world to know that I was the only adult in the house most of the week. That silence also meant I couldn't properly vent. It meant I couldn't properly explain why my musical and writing career has suffered or why I haven't seen your band play yet.

David's sister being here means that there is now another adult in the house. You would-be burglars can't touch us now, and I get to (I hope) get back in the groove of writing, meditating, yoga-ing. Okay, so I've only really ever done writing regularly, but I'm hoping to add the others into my life for some sort of mental stability and physical release. At the very least, it allows me to take more showers during the week and maybe even to leave the house once the kids are asleep.

I have often said I need to blog more often. I say it again today as a recognition that this blog is my first outreach post. It's a line-item that is easy to check off. It reaches people in a different way than a simple Facebook post. It is somewhat more personal than a tweet (though Twitter has been my most-used media in recent years), and it's not forced in your face in the way a Facebook post so often is. It requires a click-through, and for that, I thank and acknowledge you. Right now, that's my only connection.

I'm working on it. Routine will be my friend this year.

Talk to me about your routine -- what works for you and how you maintain it. (And don't tell me you get up at 5:30am 'before your kids wake' because my kids wake at 5:30, so #notgonnahappen.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Small group anxiety, Mega Mocha and Alone Time

This morning I was on my way to a La Leche League meeting -- a feat because a) I actually remembered and b) I had transportation and c) did not have to work -- when I had a bout of small group anxiety and instead pulled over to sit at my favorite coffee shop and write anonymously while the baby took a nap.

How weird is it that I can sing and chat in front of thousands of people (and that one time knowing that literally millions of others were listening in radioland) without a single stitch in my tummy, but the thought of sitting in a small circle with a handful of other women absolutely terrifies me to the point that I can't go?

A few months ago I managed to arranged childcare and attend a Book Club meeting. I've been on the email group of this Book Club for years. It's full of smart women, several of whom I know already, but most of whom I only know from Twitter or other internet-y things.

I tried to snag a seat in a corner against a wall as everyone was moving from the cocktail portion of the evening to the sit-around-and-talk bit. The circle kept changing, and I kept having to move, until suddenly I was almost front and center. I tried to laugh off my anxiety, which seemed to annoy the hostess and only made me want to crawl into an even deeper corner.

We went around the circle and had to introduce ourselves and say "one interesting thing about ourselves" and I completely froze and the lovely Tara had to nudge me and whisper, "Tell them you play the saw," and I stuttered and forgot how to conjugate verbs and my face flushed and heart sped and then after introductions and only one or two comments into the actual book discussion, I walked home.

I somehow tought I might be okay at the LLL meeting. I don't actually have any breastfeeding questions. Dr. Google has been pretty helpful on that front. But I felt like I needed to attempt some socialization and perhaps some small group therapy.

Instead I'm in a corner writing and enjoying a breakfast crepe with a small mocha because that is basically the mental equivalent of a spa day. I swear, I really used to be so well-adjusted.

Baby is up from his regularly scheduled 28-minute nap, so there goes my crepe,

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A place for art in dark times.

We were both so so so excited on election day at 9am.
What a depressing week last week was. I'm still in denial. Followed by massive amounts of guilt knowing that I'll probably be fine -- as long as I don't flaunt the Jewish background thing, and maybe I should pull my kid out of the Jewish preschool because Anti-Semites are going to run the government ... hmmm ... okay, maybe I legitimately am worried for my family...

Anyway, the guilt comes from knowing that my family isn't outwardly too different, but plenty of others I know are and -- yikes, what year are we living in? How is this seriously our current challenge? Also, the ice caps are melting and what if a tidal wave attacks my oceanfront Louisville property in five years? Do I start buying an extra canned good at every grocery trip and insulating the attic with creamed corn?

I also keep thinking how can there possibly be a place for my career now? I'm a musician, not a revolutionary.

But also, don't people need art more than ever these days?

And is there room for, shall we call it, "distracting" art? Lighthearted songs to make you smile and take you away from the terrifying world? Or are those the artists who should give up and forget it because we should be focused on revolutionary songwriting? Are those types of songs more dangerous than ever because we should not distract ourselves and ignore what it happening?

I have often wrestled with the whatisthepoint question of my career, but in light of the election results (and a postpartum fog and heading into the early sunsets and dark, cold days) I have even more mindwasps.

Am I being too hard on myself?

Can someone convince Bob Dylan to finally speak out? To tell artists what it was like to be the revolutionary performer in revolutionary times? Did he even know he was doing it? Was it a career-advancing accident that he had protest songs? Were they even intended as protest songs or were they interpreted that way because of the times he was writing in? How long did it take for them to spread in a world 50 years before Twitter?

In the mean time, I'm trying to finish up a record, and I'm really not sure why it feels so pressing.

 I think my 4-year-old has the right idea:

At least there's this, right? :

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Anniversary of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. If you are of the Jordan Catalano Generation or younger, and if you have even heard of the Gordon Lightfoot song, then you probably are imagining a mighty old-time pirate-ship-looking vessel that sunk, oh, I don't know, maybe a hundred or two hundred years ago. Until last November, I was there with you. It sunk in 1975!

I heard "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" on WFPK on November 10, 2015, started listening a little more intently because I'd forgotten how electric the guitars were and how those 70s bass drums come pounding in a few verses in. For many musicians I know, that song has become a bit of a joke (I think the song is a complete masterpiece, beautiful haunting and perfect example of a good ballad) -- not the lyrics and melody, but the idea that it goes on and on for almost seven minutes without any chorus. It's jokingly been used as a way to get people to leave a club at 2a (click here to see NRBQ version): just play a never-ending version of this song.

A few months ago, I was trying to get the baby to calm down and for some reason I put on "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." And the boy calmed down. I laughed, and then tried it again the next time he was in a baby-freakout. And it worked again. In fact to this day, it has a 95% success rate on getting him to relax -- like, you can feel his muscles breathe more deeply as soon as that lilting guitar emerges. It's become his Bedtime Song (replacing "Edelweiss") and will usually put him to sleep by the time the ol' cook comes on deck saying fellas it's too rough to feed ya.

Here is a time he was asleep before the first words:

Insane, right?

Our whole family, particularly our 4-year-old, has become obsessed with not just the song, but the shipwreck itself. In Detroit last month we saw the Old Mariner's Church, aka "the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral" from the last verse. We went to a maritime museum for the sole purpose of seeing an anchor from the Fitzgerald. 

Last week the wee boy's barber asked him what kind of music he liked.

Wee Boy: The Edmund Fitzgerald.
Barber: Ella Fitzgerald?
Wee Boy: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald!

We LOVE this song. 

Today we are listening to it a zillion more times, but we are even more-than-usual thinking of the 29 men who sunk with the ship to the bottom of Lake Superior. As we learned from the museum, people still don't know for sure how/why it sunk. Great shipwrecks only 41 years ago -- oh, the mystery! It has somewhat ruined the Wee Boy for boating, but he knows all the words.

Look at this article from Newsweek that ran 2 weeks after the ship sank. Lightfoot used it for inspiration, as you can tell from the first paragraph: Accordion to a legend of the Chippewa tribe, the lake they once called "Gitche Gumee" never gives up her dead.

I mean, that's basically the first lyric in its entirety.

Another strange thing: he wrote that song 2-4 weeks after the ship sank. And it was a number one hit the next year. For y'all alive then ... did it feel too soon???

Anyway, I could go on and on about all the things I've learned about the ship. But for today: it's November 10, so today we are thinking about The Fitz and

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Electoral thoughts and a word jumble.

We voted today. I studied American Politics (and even have a fancy summa cum laude degree in politics, lah dee dah) at NYU, where multiple professors argued that there is absolutely no compelling reason to vote in the USA. It takes effort to get to the polls, and the chance that your single vote will make a difference is, like, n to the negative 38th power or some statistic that I can't remember even though I swear I used to be really good at math. So why does anyone bother? X factor - guilt, civic duty, hope, whatever you call it ...  I'm less skeptical than I used to be, and I got very excited about voting today. The wee boy and I walked the polling place early, then we took a bus to his preschool. It was a very civic morning. I cried a little.

Now I just sit around and bite my fingernails and eat Halloween candy because it's just me and the kiddos while the polls come in. I'm fielding texts from all my friends from other countries who are just as nervous and are apparently hoping beyond hope that America does not "do something stupid." Maybe we should just all go to sleep until tomorrow. Or hop on a transatlantic flight so I'll have to turn my phone to airplane mode until the morning.

Today I leave you with a word jumble, composed by the Wee Boy:

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