Thursday, December 26, 2019

Route talk, grief, holidays, acrobats, Salon, Ancestry

Feeling like hell! How's Christmas?
The rest of the family went to Christmas Eve services in Lubbock, and I stayed at my in-laws' house trying to pull myself out of the weird winter depression that's been amplified by being parentless for the first holiday season.

The internet is confusing. I love all the open talk about mental health, but I'm also not convinced that meme-watching and blog-reading is entirely helpful when you're not in a mental place to navigate the evidence-based from the Instagram-influencer-based.

Instead of reading articles or memes about Holidays Without Family, I got lost down my mom's account on Christmas Eve. It was a weird and very-obvious search for connection. I love history though, and clicking around seeing my grandfather's and this brothers' World War 2 draft cards was wild. I love seeing the old addresses and wondering just exactly what the circumstances were when all of the Jews in Louisville were pushed to the West End and then why they suddenly moved to the Highlands in the 1940s. Maybe it's my obsession with storytelling, but I like trying to connect the dots and imagine what caused what and what life must have been like back when no one would hire a Jew in Kentucky, so every one of my relatives had to start their own businesses.
world war 2 draft card

Random fun facts (typically, other people's family trees are boring as can be, but I've tried to pull out some universally interesting ones):

  • My mother was Jewish and my father was Catholic. They weren't related at all, which perhaps will boost my gene-health, but I'm not crossing my fingers.
  • My great-grandfather died of Tuberculosis! He was also a professional Roman Ring artist, but he was a tailor at his death.
  • My great-great-grandmother was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, which is where that DuPont plant and all of Dark Waters, that film that Graham is in, is about. 
  • My great-great-great-grandparents came from Counties Limerick and Mayo in Ireland.
  • My great-great-grandmother was a HENNESSY. And the name "Angus" is the gaelic word for Hennessy. So it's a family name after all, haters!
  • I was named after a few Brigids on the Irish side of the family.
  • My mom's family came over from Poland and Russia in the 1870s. 
Okay, I feel like I'm getting boring ... kind of like The Seven Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About episode of This American Life: ROUTE TALK.

So boring, sorry.

Christmas morning was sweet, and part of me is glad my parents aren't around to have added to the massive gift pile my boys received. Mentally, grief-speak, it was pretty awful. I'm hoping that the lengthening days will brighten my spirit, and I can grasp a new reason to cheer up. The boys are delightful and make me smile. 

Also, the surprising reception of my essay for has me acknowledging my imposter syndrome and realizing that people out there maybe would read something I wrote. So in true ADHD fashion, I'm working on a memoir, a musical, and a series of romance novels. Hoping to develop a good writing routine in 2020, and that begins with commitment to this blog.

Love and light!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Who is Brigid anyway?

me and my family on a worldschooling
Hello, new readers! I'm guessing you arrived via the essay that published. If you're a regular reader (Thank you!), click over to Salon to read something new.

I'd been trying to figure out a way to tell the story of my dad and duPont and Dark Waters and death, but it is a story that felt bigger than this blog. I am grateful to Salon's Editor-in-Chief for believing in me, which sounds totally cheesy, but which I mean so sincerely.

So if you're new here, let me quickly tell you a little bit about me and this blog.

  • I've made my living as a musician & private music teacher for 20 years. Piano was my first instrument, but I am known for playing accordion and the musical saw. 
  • I have seven albums on Spotify and many more unrecorded. 
  • I play guitar in an instrumental bluegrass band. 
  • I sing in an Andrews Sisters Tribute act. 
  • I've toured as a sideman in heavy rock bands and light folk bands. Occasionally I pay the saw with Elvis Costello.  (He's wonderful.)
  • My first blog entry in 2006 was just a quick update about Nashville Star, a TV show that drafted me to be the 'quirky contestant.' I didn't make the finals, but an 18-year-old named Kacey Musgraves was next to me during much of the process. 
  • I fell in love with a Texan. 
  • We moved to Scotland for two years and had a baby there -- that would be Graham, my little movie star. He's got a three-year-old brother named Angus. 
  • Shortly after Angus was born, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 
  • The day of her first chemo, I was offered a big role in ONCE the Musical, the international touring production. I turned it down. Because family. I don't regret it because what's the point
  • Three years ago I had an infant on the breast and a mother in chemo. 
  • Last summer my mom went into hospice care the same week my dad was diagnosed with stage four sinus cancer.

More fun facts:

  • I'm a mental case about 30% of the time. 
  • My husband is a saint.
  • My kids are incredible.
  • My mother was Jewish and my dad was Catholic and I grew up both nothing and both.
  • I want to get them into therapy as soon as possible.
  • I was once a network television producer, back in my late teens, early twenties.
  • I had a home-birth, on purpose.
  • As of last month, I drive an electric car. We were car-free since 2011 (odd in Kentucky), but we bought an EV last month when Graham started booking actor jobs that required a car. 
  • I overthink everything.
  • I'm an introvert, but I love the stage.
  • I love whisky, but I hate being drunk. I sip the good stuff and not very often. But I looooooove a peaty single malt.
  • I use this blog to sometimes write poignant pieces and other times to share a trade secret or a family recipe.
  • I tour festivals and folk clubs in Europe at least once a year, though for 2020 I have nothing on the books. Graham keeps booking acting work, and I want to find a new way to create my own art (maybe finally write that book rather than constantly booking tours?!) while supporting my kids in all they want to do.
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Saturday, December 21, 2019

What is this Patreon/Patron thing you keep blabbing about, Brigid?

Someone at the bus stop this week asked me about “that patron thing” I was blogging about. It occurred to me that, doh! only other artists probably know the platform, and it would behove me to explain more.

The TL;DR version (that’s “too long; didn’t read”) is: 
  • Independent artists once made a living by touring + selling CDs. That’s not viable anymore.
  • Art/music/writing has VALUE to society.
  • PATREON is a website that allows you directly support artists; i.e. become a PATRON, you know like in the Renaissance! 
  • Join Patreon and choose your level of support. Maybe it’s $1/month. Maybe it's $5/month. Maybe it’s $100/month. 
  • Once you’re a member you unlock access to content I've posted on my Patreon page.
  • You’ll have EARLY/EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to things over there. I’ve already posted a new song that I wrote on the set of Dark Waters. Only my 23 Patrons can hear it. 
  • I’ll create new content as the community grows, changing it up when I tour or have a new album, or when I realize what kinds of content you all are enjoying. 
  • On Patreon, the best kind of art is created with community support. Can you please help me grow this community? $1/month? $5/month (that’s like buying me one coffee!)
  • Feel great about yourself because by supporting the arts, you have bettered the world.
  • Especially if you've been reading my blog for 15 years and now think maybe a $1/month might be do-able :) 
  • LOVE.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Brigid does a live whisky tasting on the internets.

i know, i know, i have too many tabs open. #screenshot
Morning, y'all! Who else has been up since 4? I know you're out there. I'm ready for a nap, but I'm also about to head to a meeting. Babysitter is in place, and I'm off to work.

The life of an independent musician is funny. Used to be I could sell thousands of CDs out of my trunk. Or from stage. Or from a brick and mortar record shop. That would pay for the production AND my health insurance. It was pretty great. I played live shows too. The template for earning income as an artist has changed, and I'm trying to roll with it without complaint because, well, I, too, enjoy Spotify. Even if I only make about $30 a year

Monday, December 16, 2019

Free CD + Free matted travel photo offer!

Me, working with crazy unkempt hair
in a coffeeshop while I pay a babysitter
so I can write and email and book tours
and entertain my micro-fans - i.e. YOU!
I'm feeling quite heavily these days that my time is diminishing. I'm not suicidal, and I'm not sick, but I recognize that my genes are not great. I'm grateful for every blonde hair that pops up in my formerly bright-red. I'm thankful for the liver spots my dermatologist points out and the wrinkles that my kids ask about. The signs of aging are so exciting to me because every little change means I've made it another year. It's also given me an exciting/stressful PUSH to get all the endeavours I've stored in my brain out into the world.

There's the memoir I haven't written -- the one where I tell you crazy stories about abusive exes and ridiculous tours with famous bands and rides home in United Nations motorcades and that time when I had bagels with Walter Cronkite and that other time when Bill Cosby

Monday, December 9, 2019

DARK WATERS! My son is in it. Go See It!

Maybe you've been following this blog for years (since 2006, omg?!?!!), but guess what ... my 7-year-old son has officially surpassed me in fame and I LOVE IT SO MUCH! I will never stop making art and writing and singing and playing, but right now my son is part of telling maybe the most important message of the millennium.

I won't spoil the movie, but little Graham ( i think it helps if you click on that link for some reason, but i don't really understand IMDb) plays the son of Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. He looks more like them than he does like us. He's got two lines, and they are both funny. The movie, however, is a drama, a thriller, and so so so so important, and will give you so many different feels, ranging from ha ha to ewwww to omg to no fucking way to i'm so fired up!

Go see it. Then check back and tell me (or tell GRAHAM) how you're going to help him change the world. He's ready, he's motivated, and he told me he wants to be an actor-vist  ha ha ha ha.

Wanna be our best friends?? Follow Graham in Instagram because he LOVES that media and also it's apparently how casting directors actually find young actors these days, who knew? He's also on Twitter, which is pretty funny because he writes his own tweets (i obviously supervise). And he has a Facebook page, though i don't really let him look at Facebook unless someone sends him a nice comment because Facebook is scary.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Best sugar cookies ever, seriously!

I'm terrified of the impending holidays. My dad's 75th birthday is in a few weeks. Hanukkah is in a few weeks. Christmas is in a few weeks. They are all the same week, and I will not be home for any of them.** I will be with my boys and my in-laws and they are all kind and thoughtful and beautiful people, but I am afraid of how I will just want to retreat to my room because I will not be good company.

I'm also afraid that if for some reason the grief ball doesn't hit its target (have you seen that analogy)  then I will just look like an unfeeling freak. Grief is weird, y'all. It's especially weird to go from two-parent holiday season to zero-parent holiday season within a year.

You know what makes me feel better? Comfort food. It's called that for a reason. Brigid's 90-Proof Kitchen here for the rescue!

Since I'm on a recipe kick, I'm gonna share my favorite awesome sugar-cookie recipe. I've had a sugar-cookie craving (but am on a doctor-ordered gluten-free trial for a few weeks for my arthritis: LAME), so rather than baking them I will just write about them. I like this one because it tastes amazing, but also because you only have to chill the dough for an hour, so you don't have to plan in advance to make them:

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp bourbon
2 tsp baking powder
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt 
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and bourbon. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt. Cover and chill for an hour.
Preheat oven to 400*. Roll out dough (I like to make it thick, like 1/2"!) and cut into fun shapes. Add sprinkles if you want. Bake for 6 minutes (They'll look undercooked, but when they cool, they'll be soft not crispy.) Cool and decorate even more!
Go ahead and print this out because someone will ask you for the recipe, I promise!

Also, here are some badass Hanukkah cookie cutters that I love*:

**Robbers: all travel bloggers hire multiple house-sitters, so don't even think about trying to break into steal all those shitty old Derby glasses my mom left behind. I'll actually just leave them on the porch for you if you can take them to Goodwill for me, 'mkay thanks)

Also, it's Giving Tuesday. Give to an artist who makes you smile or to an organization that does magical things or share a post on the internets if you don't have the actual dollars to help!

Enjoy my blog? Here’s how you can show your love:
(i've been putting backstage photos with Elvis, Damaris, and more on that site)

* it's some sort of Amazon affiliate link? I don't really know what that means, but I think I'm required by law to tell you that or something.

Monday, December 2, 2019

My dad's famous Mac N Cheese Recipe.

David, digging into the MAC N CHEESE!
Hope everyone had a merry Thanksgiving! For my readers abroad, Thanksgiving is just a random Thursday where Americans cook too much food, try to manage their time attending 2-8 family functions (depending on how many grandparents are still alive), and eat a lot of comfort food. My family never had the beautiful tablescapes that I see on Pinterest, but I've now seen plenty of people who do. 

Thanksgiving was pretty difficult this year, particularly because, while Graham located my dad's special mac-n-cheese recipe on his left-behind iPad, the mac-n-cheese I cooked did not deliver. I assumed his secret ingredient was extra butter, but I think it's extra-sharp cheddar and extra salt. In the mean time, I'm waaaaaaay too cheesy-noodled out to even think about a do-over, so I'll wait until next Thanksgiving.

I had some pretty overwhelming moments of grief, some heaving sobs, and some sweet hugs and kisses from my little guys who have seen too much.

Thought I'd share my dad's mac-n-cheese recipe today, since SO many of you have asked for it:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt (pretty sure he used a lot more than this)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (i think he included extra-sharp!)
2 cups (7 oz) elbow macaroni, cooked, drained 
Make a sauce with butter, flour, milk, salt. Stir in 1-1/2 cups cheese until melted. Layer the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni in a 1-1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serves 6-8, or one Brigid.

Pretty pretty tablescaping by 7-year-old Eleanor.

- Graham's movie comes out in theatres across America on Friday December 6! 
- I'm working on sorting out management and coastal representation for Graham while trying to manage my own art (apparently, if i don't make art, i become a crazy person!!!). Graham is begging to audition and work more.
- I love you. If you're reading this, I probably really do love you.
Enjoy my blog? Here’s how you can show your love:
(i've been putting backstage photos with Elvis, Damaris, and more on that site)