June 6, 2015
Greetings! I am now recreating my old blog in a new format! Previously “Constance Comments” appeared on Bill Ring’s website, Folksmith.com, for a few years. Now that I have my own website, I can now spew my inspirations and opinions in my own space — far away from Facebook and Twitter and my friends’ ears. I can muse and opinionate to my heart’s content and wait for whatever feedback may come hurling my way from various human hearts and minds that happen upon this new little tech domain of mine. I’ll be adding some words from time to time, for my own amusement and exercise, and if I happen to entertain anyone, I’ll be happy to have done so.
Until next time,
I was singing my heart out tonight for about two solid hours. When I finished “Side Dish,” one of my newer songs (not yet recorded), I heard enthusiastic applause outside my window. I looked down and saw a couple on the sidewalk. They said they loved my singing, and asked if I had a website. I told them about this one, and who knows? Maybe they’ll recognize themselves in this post. I told them I had just moved to San Anselmo — I got priced out of San Francisco (will explain details later!) and hope to find a venue here I can feel comfortable in to try out some material I haven’t performed in a while. I feel a bit displaced, as I’ve lived in SF for 20 years, but it’s nice having lots of trees around!
I’ll be back soon,
So, as I was saying, I got priced out of San Francisco. I had been living with my good friend Mark in the Mission District for a couple of years — right in the very heart of what I call Googlebus Land — where the Silicon Valley buses come to pick up their workers and bring them back to their new expensive homes — in my third lavender room in San Francisco. (I had moved several times and had the last three rooms painted my favorite color.) Mark had a heart condition, but was getting treatment and seemed fine. One day last April he didn’t get up for a long time. I knew that wasn’t right, and finally I went into his room. Of course I tried to wake him, but I knew — especially when I touched him and his chest was cold — that he was dead. But I went into a kind of panicky denial and called 911, pretending to myself that he could still be revived. It was a long day, with the cops and the Medical Examiner and his girlfriend and other friends coming over, and — well, I knew what would happen with the apartment. Mark had been living there for over 25 years, and we were paying, together, $625 a month for the one-bedroom. As I expected, the rent was raised to $3.000!
Not knowing where I was going to go, I tried to stay in my beautiful room. I got a roommate, then another. But after paying $1500 a month for 8 months, I finally came to my senses and said, “What was I thinking?!!” So I moved in with my good friend Terry in San Anselmo, where I’m paying $635. Quite a relief! I feel like I’m in the country now, surrounded by vegetation all around. I take long walks in beautiful surroundings, swim in the little pool here (getting used to circles instead of long lanes), and go into the City about once a week. I don’t miss it too much, really. Also, I spend time in Richmond, where my boyfriend lives. It’s easy to get around by bus, and I’m used to that because I don’t drive — yeah, I’m weird. But I’m a city gal, and never really needed to drive, and didn’t want to. I’m phobic, I suppose, though I did start to learn when I lived in rural Arizona for awhile. And I intend to learn again, just to get over my fear.
Anyway, I started a new song after that, about people dying. It’s called “Another One Down in the Flood.” In it I put Mark; my friend Paulette, who died a few years ago; my mother; and several other ways people die, including my dear friend Dan, who died last year of cancer. We were musical collaborators, and did several recordings of my songs, as well as his. That’s another whole story. I’m finally recovering from all these deaths, yet knowing there will be so many more in the future! But that’s the price of living on the physical plane, and the best way to deal with it, I think, is to treasure as many moments as we can. And write about it! That’s my greatest wish; to write as well as I can and get the songs out — to all of you, whoever you are.
Thanks for listening,
So here I am in San Anselmo, a tidy little town in Marin, with lots of rich people and trees. And businesses like the Body Cleansing Studio, the Harmony Beauty Bar with organic nail care, and Pomegranate Prenatal Yoga and Parent Center. There’s also Georgi and Willow, a cream-of-the-crop Goodwill store, where a garment you would buy for $5.49 at a normal Goodwill is $12 here. But it’s a lot cheaper than the two consignment shops in the same block, where you’ll pay $40 for the same type of item.
There’s a nice little park by a creek, which has, in past years, overflowed the streets of the town. Not for many years, though, of course. They show movies in the park in the summer, and they used to put on a musical show, but not anymore, I guess. Haven’t heard anything about it this year. I’m thinking of going there to sing at night after 10:00, so I won’t disturb my neighbors. I don’t think I’ll be loud enough out there to bother anybody. I was going to try this the other night, but they were showing a movie, so my roommate suggested I sing in front of the (closed) coffee house on the main street. So I did that, with him listening, and occasionally someone would walk by. Then I was pleasantly surprised when a couple came along and put $1.50 on the table next to me! Hey, I’m grateful for any encouragement these days, when I’m just emerging from a time a few months ago when I was reluctant to perform anywhere because of vocal problems. I’ve mainly solved them, partly by taking kelp tablets twice a day (to correct a swollen thyroid), and by studying voice with a great teacher. I’m getting myself geared up to do house concerts, anywhere anyone will host one. I went to a talk by a woman who has been doing this for awhile and wrote a book about how to set them up. A great idea for musicians who are tired of being exploited by club owners; all the money goes to the musician — and all of it by donation — which, it seems, tends to be quite generous. Not that I’m averse to singing in a club, but it’s a good way to get back into performing. In the meantime, I keep practicing and — hopefully — writing more songs. I’m not very prolific, so they come slowly, but I’m eternally optimistic about producing more of them. For me, the creative process is slow and often agonizing, but absolutely worth it!
So I’m still in San Anselmo, and still thinking it’s kind of weird after living in the City for 20 years, and in New York before I moved to San Francisco. All white people! I almost never see a person of color. It’s like Pleasantville, kind of unreal. Nice, quaint, quiet. I just got their election pamphlet, and there are just two ballot measures, on what to do or not to do with one of their parks. I guess, as a good citizen of this town, I should find out how I should vote on these. I mean, I always vote! I’ll ask my roommate what’s going on here.
I recently joined West Coast Songwriters, so I’ll be participating in their songwriting competitions, which are held in several towns once a month. I went to the last one, the final of the season, where they choose the best of the year. Heard a lot of really good songs! Way better than any open mic I’ve ever been to. I’m wondering how these songs are judged. I don’t write like most people, so I don’t know how I’ll fit in. The first of the season is next week; I think I’ll start with my song about the music business, “No Place for a Poet (in the Dance).” Actually, that’s the one I sang first for the Northern California Songwriters Association years ago, where they critiqued the songs as well. The person who critiqued that song wrote that I had too many verses! Five instead of three. I should have known immediately that that organization was not for me. It was all about commercial songs, which mine are not (except for a few, which could be if arranged differently). I finally got out, and whited out “Association” on the T-shirt I bought from them, so it just says “Northern California Songwriter.”
Well, it’s fall now, but for the most part, it’s been a good summer. I had a couple of good vacations — visiting sisters and friends on the East Coast, then Southern California beaches and museums with my boyfriend, sleeping in his van. Also, two days at Harbin Hot Springs — for the last time, alas! The pictures of the fire were heartbreaking! Such a terrible shame; so many people displaced. And there will surely be more devastation, as the planet warms and so little is being done about it. But we who do not run the world can only do our best — starting with not voting for the idiots!