Thursday, May 24, 2018

Breaking up with yoga.

I think I might be breaking up with yoga. We have had a long separation now. Yoga had been really good for me -- it got me in shape, and it controlled my irritability and anger issues for approximately 36 hours. It also involved 2 hours of my day, organizing a babysitter, an extra shower, and doubled the amount of laundry. I stopped going when I no longer had a babysitter working on trade (a babysitter + yoga tuition quickly creates a $35-50 yoga class, and, quite frankly, Xanax is cheaper).

I first started doing yoga with regularity because I was offered a role in a national touring Broadway show. (I never told you all that, did I? It was at a strange point in my life, and I was going to replace someone who wasn't sure if she was ready to quit ... my mom was starting chemo and didn't have a long life expectancy.) After remembering how badly I had sweat my way through the movement audition, I realized that if I were to dance 8 shows a week, I needed to get back in shape. It wasn't about being skinny. I don't care about that; I just want my trousers to fit and to not be out of breath at the top of the stairs. So I signed up for one of those 30 days for $30 things, and I went every single day, figuring it would be Broadway-boot camp.

I obviously didn't end up doing the tour, or you would have seen many glamorous posts from Iowa to Ireland -- but I did get in shape and enjoy it most of the time.

I went back to yoga last week for the first time in over six months. My body loved it -- the sweat and the stretches. Oh, was I sore for days.

But I forgot how much I really dislike group events. The vinyasas were great; the"turn to your neighbor and give them a high five" had me wanting to run out of that room because I had come for alone time. The "get up off your mat and introduce yourself to the people around you and create community" was utterly anxiety-inducing in the worst way. As I introduced myself to the person next to me -- who promptly said, "We went to high school together." I knew exactly who she was, as she had been the straight-up coolest girl in high school. I was shocked she even knew who I was, and I babbled nonsense and sounded like a maniac with my small talk before collapsing into child's pose.

The instructors would say, that's what yoga is about. Doing hard things. Being part of something bigger than yourself. etc etc

Here's what I realized: that's not what I want to get out of yoga. I want the meditation and the exercise, but I don't want the philosophy.

I do hard things every single day. I have always done hard things. I mean, I have owned my own business (AS AN ARTIST) for almost 20 years without a trust fund or family money. Art is all about being part of things bigger than yourself -- I bring entertainment and original art (aka my NAKE SOUL) to the stage sometimes in front of millions of people listening live on the radio. I am a social anxiety-ridden introvert, but I can absolutely suck it up and play the role of extrovert when I have to. I don't need to learn how to do that, as I have done that my entire career. I can network, schmooze, small talk with the best of them.

But on a Monday morning when I am seeking out sweat and stretch? No. Thank. You.

The time I carve out for yoga? I need solitude and ease and not challenging myself. Because I challenge myself enough by being my own demanding boss and solo parenting two small children and taking care of my sick mother and stressing myself out all the time. I can do hard things. I don't need anyone reminding me of that. All I need is peace, quiet, and no one grabbing my nipples. I want that solitary wood floor that my yoga friends post on Instagram.

I'm tortured because I do enjoy the yoga classes. This morning I was prepped to go to a class, but instead, maybe I'll go home, put in earplugs and roll through some sun salutations in my basement.

I mean, it's not you, yoga, it's clearly me. Everyone else loves you. I understand the reasoning behind the creating community. It's just not for me right now ... I prefer community at the coffeeshop or the music show. Or can we have a "Yoga for Introverts" class where no one is expected to even make eye contact?

And that's me, with my unpopular opinion that I had to get off my chest, so now I can move about my day and week and career a little lighter. Writing -- writing is my yoga! Hello, community.


Monday, 5/28 in LOUISVILLE: with Steve Cooley at TYLER PARK. 4:00pm.
Wednesday, 5/30 in LOUISVILLE: Kentucky Homefront at Adath Jeshurun. 6:30pm (just the backing band -- I'm not singing)
Friday, 6/1 in LEXINGTON: Seton Country Fair. Brigid Kaelin BAND. 6p-7:30p
Sunday, 6/10 in LOUISVILLE: Lakeside Swim Club. Brigid Kaelin BAND. 6:30-8:30p. (for members and their guests)
Thursday, 6/14 in LOUISVILLE: Slugger Field. Brigid Kaelin BAND. 5:30-6:30p

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Solution to missing socks & sorting socks & other things that waste my time.

Since our Brazilian au pair has arrived, I've encountered all kinds of fun cultural differences -- some funny stories, like "what is a dishwasher" and silly Americans driving 2 blocks to the grocery.  My favorite is the tale of Saci, who has now taken the place of "the troll" that lives in our house. You know the one -- the reason you can't find your keys or why the butter dish moved back into the refrigerator but no one admits they did it, or perhaps most importantly, the answer to where the other sock went. You see, Saci is a one-legged boy, so not only is he a sneaky trickster, but he only needs one sock at a time.

We have started blaming everything on Saci, and it's become hilarious.

One problem I've mostly solved, however, is THE SOCK PROBLEM (and also the underwear problem when you have 2 little boys who wear tiny underwear):

Lingerie bags!

Each member of our family now has their own lingerie bag, with a different color zipper so bags are never mixed up. When dirty socks come off, BOTH SOCKS GO ON THE LINGERIE BAG (and the boys put their underwear in their too). When it's time for washing, the entire bag goes in the machine, so Saci never has a chance to steal any socks.

I haven't lost a sock in months!

Not that I really care because matching socks are for time-wasters anyway. For me the best part is knowing whose tiny little socks and underwear are whose -- and if someone else is putting the laundry away (which actually happens because our au pair is the best), she doesn't have to check the labels for size. If it's from the yellow zipper bag, it's the little guy, and if it's from the purple bag, it's the kindergartener.


  • buy 2 of each bag, so as soon as you toss one sock-filled lingerie bag in the machine, there is another bag eagerly awaiting socks. 
  • Buy little hooks to hang the bag on a doorknob or bookshelf or desk, or dresser hook, or whereever your dirty clothes hamper lies.
  • Don't try to force your husband to play along, and also do not do his laundry. (David doesn't play along with my little sock-solution.)

Monday, May 14, 2018

House concerts: how to ask your guests to bring money for the musicians

It took a musical saw trial to get a grin out of Steve!
Steve and I played a really fun house concert this weekend. I'm never quite sure how these events are going to go in America. They are more common in Europe (although for some reason Europeans seem to thing that House Concerts are more common in America; I assure you, they are not.), and most people here still find it a completely foreign concept. Saturday's concert was a new host and a great group of people, and I hope they continue to host other events for other artists -- it was a great time and we met great people. And we made enough dollars to continue to call ourselves professionals! Sometimes, however, things do not go so smoothly ...

I've learned through trial and error here that unless it is an established house concert series (and there are quite a few that have developed!), then playing a house concert can be hit or miss. The events are always fun no matter what, but making it worth the musicians' time to come out and play such an event comes down to the awkward issue of money. So...

How do you let your guests know they should bring money for the artists?

I've seen two extremes of this.

1) The invitation that says, "This party costs $20 to attend." The party then almost always gets canceled because no one wants to pay $20 just to go to a party at your house. They don't understand, and they think you, the host, are being greedy or cheap. Despite the best intentions, the concept is misunderstood.

2) The invitation that says, "Concert at my house!" and there is no mention of money in the invitation at all. In this situation, you get one of two things:

  • Lots of guests come, but no one brings cash (who carries cash these days?!). People (host included) are surprised when someone starts passing a hat or tip jar around. Musicians usually don't make enough money.
  • Lots of guests come, no one brings cash, and the musicians feel too awkward to ask for money, and the host feels too awkward to ask guests to donate. The musicians leave empty-handed.
  • Lots of guests come, no one brings cash, and the hosts feel guilty and gives the musicians a few hundred dollars to make up for it. The host then never wants to host a house concert again.
So in all my trial and error, here's what I've found to be the best solution:

Make the wording clear on your invitation! 
Money conversations are super-awkward, and sometimes it's best to just acknowledge that up front. 

Here's some wording from a great house concert series:

I like that it's up-front: Please bring some cash for the music. The amount is up to you, but we recommend $15-20 per person.

This wording gives a suggestion based on market price of concert tickets (and significantly less than the cost of a front-row seat to a concert venue!), but lets people know that it's a sliding scale.

Here are some other ways to word the money conversations, and feel free to copy and paste any one of these directly into your own events:
  • House concerts feature professional musicians, and they get paid through your donations -- 100% of the money goes to the artists. Please bring some cash for them.
  • We will pass around a tip jar for the musicians. Suggested donation is a sliding scale of _____ per person. The artists will also have CDs and other merchandise available for purchase.
  • When you arrive, please don't forget to put some cash in the tip jar for the artists. House concerts are an intimate gathering, but the artists get paid from the guests' donations.

    and here's the straight-up jumbled way that I usually say it when I host house concerts:
  • Money talk can be super-awkward! If you've not been to a house concert before, please understand that it's not just a party at my house with some background music. It's a concert, and the musicians get paid entirely from the tip jar. A suggested donation of $10-20/per person will be collected at the door when you arrive (or "will be collected when we pass the hat during the set break). Please bring some cash for the artists, so we don't have to have that awkward money conversation, and we can just enjoy ourselves and relax and know that the artists are taken care of.

Now: go forth and host your own house concert!!

Monday, May 7, 2018

DIY Piano Bar - Upcycle an old piano into a BAR!

Today I bring you a DIY project that began over 10 years ago. I used to have a problem taking in homeless pianos (I have since gotten over this mental health issue), and a student once talked me into accepting a beautiful baby grand from the 1920s. It had been her grandmother's piano, but it had not been tuned in far too long for it to be salvageable. Being the 20-something living with a house full of roommates, I decided to take it and and use it as a dining room table. I put barstools around it, used placemats so as not to hurt the gorgeous rosewood, and it sat in my dining room for at least five years. I played it sometimes, but it sounded terrible. My piano tuner said that re-furnishing the soundboard, etc, would cost thousands and it still wouldn't sound as good as my 1995 Yamaha studio piano (i LOVE this instrument).

Ignore large dogs and look at the piano that
functions as a dining room table. That's the
BEFORE photo that I can find right now.

I'd had the idea to turn it into a bar, but I lacked the tools and the time. Enter DAVID! He and Adam, our amazing piano tuner, used piano-tuner tools to de-tune and remove the hundreds of strings (you can't just cut them because you might accidentally decapitate yourself). David took the insanely heavy iron soundboard to a metal recycling place, cleaned out the inside, and we used it as a bar for the next several years -- lifting up the piano lid to reveal a hidden vault of single malts and glassware.

But then, we had babies. Keeping a baby grand full of liquor just took up too much space.

We then went full-on PROJECT, and David created the piano bar masterpiece that I'd always envisioned, taking apart the legs and going vertical:

We only kept two of the legs (it is anchored to the wall), but they weren't tall enough for a comfortable height. David took some wood, stained it to match the rosewood, and raised the height of the bar:

We added a shelf and some glass holders to provide more function: 

Another shelf will be coming, but we've been, er, busy and not paying much attention to the bar!

An old Kimball piano from the 1920s converted into a bar.
Piano bar! DIY upcycling project. Also, we have a mighty Scotch collection for a couple of Kentuckians.

As for the innards of the piano, well, they hang on our wall because we can't do *anything* with it. The keys are ebony and ivory, and with the weird rules around ivory, we can't really upcycle them. It's a fun interactive piece of art in the dining room though: