Looking back on You Had Me At Goodbye… 10 Years Later by Emily Holmes

It’s shocking to me that my first real studio album is 10 years old because mainly it means that I’m a decade older and frankly, I don’t feel that much older. I do make a few better judgments and I think I have my personal style a bit more en pointe, but I still play many of those songs today and they still feel as personal and relevant as they did back then. And most of the songs were written over 10 years ago… What does that mean for me? Incremental progress?

On the other hand, my life looks very different in other ways. I’m a rocker mom now to an amazing 4 year old girl. I’m married. I live in Los Angeles. I hang with a very cool clan of mamas who live big and do amazing work in film, design, community building, real estate and music. I feel very lucky in my life.

I’ve also struggled to find my place here as a musician in LA. Not that the people are mean or exclusive—quite the opposite in most cases—but the city itself is so big and spread out and geared toward the youth in music in most cases of “chasing the buzz sound.” I’m happy to say that I have some very key people out here now including cowriters Tim Lefebvre, Josh Ricchio (of Will Pharaoh, Freak Owls and SyncStories licensing) and Geoff Pearlman. I’m writing pretty regularly with all of them.

I’ve met amazing players and songwriters on the scene of all ages, creeds and level of experience. All have made me feel welcome. I’ve sung at the Hollywood Bowl, The Roxy, Hotel Café, Blue Whale and next week The Mint. I feel privileged to have done all this.

First off, I want to thank Michael Collins again for the clever name of the album. I had a contest with the title back in 2005, and Michael nailed it in dark humor and sentiment. I liked that he captured what was lurking in so many of the songs.

So, let’s go back in time, shall we? It was 2005, and I decided to record my first big record with Josh Kessler of Bushwick Studio, situated at the “infamous” Rock n Roll High School, I used to call it, deep in Bushwick near the Broadway Junction subway stop in Queens. I was pretty unfamiliar with the session players in town so Josh culled from his list of talent to assemble my band. Once again, fate intervened and I ended up with a killer group consisting of Keith Carlock, Tim Lefebvre, Daniel Mintseris and Josh Kessler. I doubt I could pull those names together again.

The Album, song by song:

Some of the songs were completed, some were sketches that Josh and I developed into more cohesive ideas. I remember describing the feel of the album as "Zero 7 crossed with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon." Something soulful, filled with yearning and a bit of psychedelia. I also used to jokingly refer to it as "breakup songs in the key of A major."

True to Yourself was a vibey song that came out of a riff I was playing with on my newly acquired Wurlitzer electric piano. Some of it sounds preachy in retrospect, but I was beginning to stand in my own shoes and sort out what I chose to do and believe for the first time in my life. It was also the realization that the wide eyed optimism of youth was being chipped away at as I grew older. 

Segue was written as a musical reply to True to Yourself in the studio. Lyrically, it was dreamy and vague. The main line "Mama, mama, save me, save me" seems to be the childlike optimism crying out in the seas of despair. Disturbing and filled with the turmoil one often faces at that key point of crossing the kid/adult divide.

It Don't Matter to Jesus was a song I used to sing with my old band, Sexfresh, in San Francisco, as a torch song that transformed into something you might hear on a record by Air. It's the tale of a scorned lover calling out her ex on his latest conquest. I always liked the double meaning "Does she feel like me?" Does her body feel like mine or is she feeling the same way I am?

Fascinating grew lush with strings and gentle sentiment, like a bossa nova lullaby. It was a sweet love song I wrote in the calm before the denouement of a relationship. I wanted to live that song, but it just wasn't happening realistically for me at the time.

Subtraction was a song in 3 parts, a sonic journey over a fairly simple structure. It examines a relationship's dissolution as the lover takes new interest in another. "One and one make two when I am counting. Add more numbers and the math gets skewed. Subtraction is being used and sometimes often abused."

Potential wasn’t even totally written. I just threw it out to the band in a tracking session as a rocker with some guts and sexy bravado. It’s probably the most known track on the record next to Breaking It Down. With any breakup, there's that wild "lift" that comes when single again when "anything (read: anyone) is possible".

Stand Up, Stand Out (along with True to Yourself) were kind of coming of age songs. I was beginning to embrace my womanhood in newer, stronger ways. It's also a reminiscing over what was probably a good relationship at one time that is now no longer. It was a bit of a pep talk for me at the time, like, "It's ok, it wasn't your fault." Just get it together and move along.

This Time Around, Breaking It Down, Make It Right and Runner are all break up songs. There's a sadistic side to all of them with themes of abuse, isolation and coming back for more instead of breaking free. The title of the album never seemed more appropriate than with this block of songs. 

There were two songs not even included on the record that came out later (Janaina, Saudade). Both began as bossa novas in the Astrud Gilberto way and they were cut because in the end, it wasn't an album with stylistic room for that kind of tune. They would have stuck out and been odd in the mix.

I feel like the album took over a year to finish given the budget/schedule ups and downs. Then, there were moments when it felt like it was coming together. I remember the day I came in to hear the strings and horns playing the breakdown in This Time Around and crying in the control room because finally, FINALLY, a song, as it sounded in my head, was actually sounding that way on the tape!

I think if I had to do it again, I would have nursed the songs and played them live a lot more before going to the studio, but there’s an innocence and experimentation in those recordings which may have been lost if it had been more nuanced. So, maybe it’s a regret, maybe not.

I’m sure my expectations for that album were far from realistic, but that’s OK too. Where am I now? A lot more songs and albums released. A better band leader. A better and more subtle singer. A more rehearsed studio rat. And grateful, that the album was ever made in the first place…

Whatever will I eat? by Emily Holmes

It was a long week for me. I had a lot of appointments and work scheduled. In a strange and still perplexing twist of fate, I was also handed a new challenge. After a series of tests with elevated sugar levels in my blood stream, I took the A1C screening and learned that I'm pre-diabetic.

Flukey? I mean, I eat pretty well. I work out several times a week. I'm in shape, weight is lower than average and steady. I have a sweet tooth as well as being a moderate drinker, but nothing in the usual tell tale signs of the disease. I do have it in my family, but all those members were bad eaters, didn't really exercise and were grossly overweight. So, strange, right?!?

Well, I took 3 different tests over the last 2 weeks and guess what? Science is not on my skeptical side. So, this week I was faced with the challenge of radically altering my diet in hopes that when I re-test in 3 months, that I'll have lower, more normal sugar levels.

My first two decisions were cut out drinking but for 1 or 2 on the weekend only and cut out all baked goods. I've also worked extra hard to eliminate processed foods with added sugars, extra carbohydrates, or sweet fruits. I also concentrated on bulking up on vegetables, nuts and healthy alternatives to bread.

Some of this stuff I already knew about like, I probably shouldn't have a sweet every day at some point in my running around. And the drinking level, I'd been considering for other reasons as well. But the two things that make this transition difficult are the following: my sweet tooth and my confusion/shame around the disease.

Man, I love cupcakes. I love croissants. I love pasta. I love salted homemade bread. Scones. Kouign Ammans. Just writing the list gives me a huge buzz. And they're not joking when they say that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. I also love the culture of sweets, like dropping by cute bakeries or lingering in cafes over coffee and a treat. It's something I treasure in my free time, a moment to indulge. Part of me is pissed off that I can't have that. It's like I've been getting away with something for a long time and now the piper's come to call for his pay.

The second item is a bit more nebulous. I can't understand why I'm testing positive for it. Surely not just a sweet tooth or a penchant for drinking wine could be the factors that outweigh all the usual symptoms. I associate diabetes with people who eat the wrong foods, don't exercise and generally disregard a better quality of life. I eat veggie or vegan a lot. I'm aware of good BMI and health care. I eat small meals throughout the day and try to pick foods that are not packed with processed ingredients like sugar, high salt or unnatural preservatives. I eat organic. What gives?!?

I also am afraid when I hear the diagnosis. I think it's an early death sentence. One more ticker that brings me closer to the end. I've literally thought about each piece of food that has gone into my mouth this week and worried "Will it be the one that takes me down?" I realize this is irrational fear and that I just need to do the work, not overthink the disease status.

So now, I'm doing the research. I'm talking to experts. I'm reconsidering the grocery shopping list. I have to pack more snacks for myself because I can't just pop into a store and grab a quick fix for hunger on the go. I have to ask if the almond or soy milk they have at the cafe (because I am also mainly dairy free) is sweetened, because so many of them use the sugary/vanilla flavored ones (which I hate, btw). I have to ask - even at vegan spots - how they make the sauce for a quinoa bowl just so I don't get a spike from agave in it. 

I'm exploring Paleo as well as vegan directions for eating and while they're not completely foreign to my previous eating plans, they are definitely a bit more work intensive and not exactly cheap. I'll survive. I'll also have to make more of my own foods or spend a lot at the Cafe Gratitudes of Los Angeles to fill in the gaps. I'm eagerly awaiting the opening of Sprouts in Eagle Rock for some of the bulk and organic options on the ingredient side of things.

In the end, it's my choice to be healthy. I'm trying to do this naturally because I also have a great aversion to drugs. I don't want to be ruled by a pharmaceutical company instead of changing some bad/indulgent behaviors. It doesn't have to be quite as extreme as I'm making it, and over time I'll figure out where I can adjust my diet to include some of the things I enjoy about eating and drinking. Wish me luck, friends. I'm on a mission!

Farewell Spaceboy... RIP David Bowie by Emily Holmes

I woke today a little groggy from a long, winter weekend with snow, friends and fun. I was tired, but the good kind of tired. My husband came back from his morning run with a pallor in his face and the question, "Did you hear about Bowie?" The question took me aback. I had just finished a shower and hadn't been online since the evening before. So, to his question, I said, "No."

"He died."

It was shocking. Not only because I wasn't expecting to hear that. Not only because many of my musical friends were currently working with Bowie on a project. Not only because my musical partner Tim was in the middle of cross promoting Bowie's latest album, Blackstar, which he played on. I was stunned because, in a way, I never thought he'd die. How could he be gone?

I was in a fog to say the least. I made it through breakfast and definitely felt myself missing a lot of cute precociousness by Riley as I was adrift in the news and the not knowing and yet somehow knowing all at once (especially considering I'd watched the video for Lazarus just last week and just had a feeling about it). I got my daughter to day care and started driving to work listening to KCRW. Then "Life on Mars" began, and I started weeping. It came out of nowhere. I mean, I loved his music. I was a fan and consider him among my biggest musical inspirations, but I'd never even spoken with him. Why was I crying?

I began to remember all the ties to David Bowie I'd had over my life. My college boyfriend Amiel is truly responsible for steeping my ears in deep Bowie. I had known his cool 80s songs and always thought of him as a sophisticated pop star, but I didn't know much of the back catalog before Ami played it for me. Together we sought out the opening party for Bowie's one man painting exhibit in London back in 1995. I remember thinking as the doors of the navy Mercedes opened and one lone polished men's shoe emerged that this was someone "bigger than." I remember thinking how he and Iman were so beautiful, that they had some kind of golden halo around them as they entered the gallery. It was just otherworldly. And for the record, I'm pretty judgmental of the looks of celebrities when I see them for real. We were two of the many fans who'd gathered to simply look at him. We returned to the gallery a week later to actually see the show. I was impressed by the images I found there.

Next, I was newly fired from my out of college public relations job and looking to get into film in NYC. I was walking home in Morningside Heights in 1996/7 when I saw a film crew outside the then-abandoned psych hospital at 103rd and Central Park West. I was living around the corner from it and always wanted to get into that building. I walked up to a PA and asked if they needed additional PAs for the shoot. They did. I registered with the production team and was told to show up at 5 a.m. the next day. I woke much earlier than I had in ages and arrived on set. It was there that I realized I'd talked my way onto the "Little Wonder" video shoot for David Bowie. I wasn't part of the close crew and spent a good deal of time "abandoning post" in some decrepid stairwell that only the ghost might have been hanging out in to explore the old halls and peeling paint. I did remember one "close encounter" where Bowie was leaving set for the day. I was standing along side the parted crowd as he glided by. It was so strange. He literally seemed like he slid past me as if flying very low to the ground.

Then, I remember once when I was over in a writing session with Moby when he shared his favorite Bowie story with me. (If you don't know this, Moby is a huge Bowie fan. Just listen to Stars, which he admits freely is a big tribute to "Heroes.") As he said, he had Bowie over for coffee and at one point, they had an acoustic guitar there. Bowie played "Heroes," which is Mo's fave Bowie song, and it was a momentus life event for him. I could sense in his retelling that it was such a special moment for him. I felt lucky that he shared that story with me.

I've sung Bowie's music here and there over the years. I performed "Cracked Actor" at a David Bowie Tribute Night at The Living Room years ago. I've borrowed heavily from his psychedelic glam stylings in songs and costume. I've also admired his artistry not only in music, but in the diverse array of output (acting, painting, design). I always wanted to be a full artist who embraces and aspires to fill my life with beauty, grace, emotional sensitivity, drama, intellect, history and love. I was never good at specialization and find it kind of missing the point. But to be open to and embrace all life can offer as well as push the boundaries of what can BE, seems to be the best any human or artist should do. Bowie did that. 

So, as if Mondays aren't tough enough to return to, we woke to hearing Bowie was gone. I'm sure I'll have some memory flubbs where I have a thought about him and begin to wonder what he would do... and then remember that he won't do because he's gone. It's sad. I feel like someone hit the pause button and I'm spinning a bit. This too will pass, but it's a big one... Sympathies go out to his family and closest friends. The world grieves.

#RIPDavidBowie

 

Remember the Rain... by Emily Holmes

What a lovely way to start the new year! A long, low-lit day of rain on the 5th of January. It's cold and quiet and just starting to rise up from the sleepy holiday season. At least, that's how I feel as I lay on my couch listening to classical music and typing this blog on a rare, "nothing on the schedule" day.

Lucky for me because I feel kind of crappy and have the chance to simply rest. I like nothing more than this kind of day. I can sit in my house alone for more than 30 minutes. R returned to school today, and my husband is kicking off a very busy next few months in the game of real estate. I have some writing projects on my plate that I hope to get to later today. I am also READING A BOOK, which honestly hasn't happened with any success in a few years. It's a trashy fiction piece filled with self-indulgent characters and fashionistas in NYC's ultra rich circles, but fun and a nice distraction from much of the news these days.

I don't want to go on about politics here because I feel very angry at the current state of national sway and I also feel out of control of any real solutions. I will admit that I've checked out a bit for my own spiritual sanity. I'm a fighter by nature, but I feel weathered and weakened when I hear the yelling on the web. I don't understand the fear and the machismo and the utter disregard for the lives of people by many. Are we hurting so badly that we lash out at anyone or anything who threatens us? Are we actually BIGGER people when we win or get more? I don't agree with that viewpoint. I believe there's room for us all, and we need bigger hearts to find the way. That said, I feel like there is already so much damage to many people that they won't take that risk, and then, my child, my family and friends and my sisters of humankind all may fall victim to someone else's inner turmoil.

Rain is like tears or a baptism or a rebirth. It falls and washes away the dirt. It's a lovely way to start a new year. I remember the long rainy days in Rio after I spent my New Year 1999-2000 there. It literally felt like the Universe crying tears over all the pain and sins of yesterday. Today feels similar in some ways and completely unrelated in others. I love rain. It makes me feel comforted, and I am grateful because I'm not one of the thousands living in the streets of Los Angeles today. I have a house around me like a cocoon. I have heat in it. I have a comfortable couch and a literary outlet to type my thoughts on a day when I wasn't working. These are very nice things, and I do appreciate them.

Maybe the love will shine through as this year continues. Maybe my positive dreams for us all can grow so more people will feel the draw to be open and loving over scared and violent. I can only imagine what that could mean for so many people. As a mother, I can't NOT hope for this. My daughter is at stake. I hope I can teach her to reach for this goal as she grows up too. So, today, I'll remember the rain and all it can bring.

There's a fog upon L.A. ... by Emily Holmes

I looked up from my laptop out my front window as KUSC lingered in the background on this rainy morning. Nearly the entire scene was white grey. Misty. Low visibility. This kind of morning is my bliss. A slow quality permeates. Cage, my cat, is asleep on the couch. The low patter of rain falling on the stairs outside from the roof lulls you into wanting to curl up and fall off to sleep.

It's a day for writing, listening and slowing down (both in thought and in motion--be careful on those roads, people!). I had a marvelous slowing down day yesterday as recovery for a particularly difficult weekend with my "three-nager." A little emotional bandaging and salve in the way of a visit to my favorite coffeehouse to write followed by a hatha yoga class at Namaste Highland Park. Both helped return balance to my brain and relaxation to my body.

Sounds like a charmed life, I know. I don't deny it. Work has been slower the last few weeks as my fit client is out of town at trade shows and my writing partner Tim is doing a run of shows with Tedeschi Trucks Band again. That means, no running to fittings in Vernon and no recording sessions in Burbank for me. 

Given that I don't have much on my plate today, I thought about a visit to the Brand Library in Glendale. This place is amazing. It's a Moor-inspired white building on a hilltop that houses an arts/design/music/architecture library. Once inside and surrounded by amazing books, one can find a lovely barker lounge chair by a fireplace to read for who knows how long. I need to return a book that Riley wanted me to check out then immediately didn't want to read, so I figured I'd take the opportunity to enjoy the silence there myself in the process.

There's also another cause I'm hoping to support today. The Pump Station (a resource for all moms out there) is collecting baby carriers for Syrian refugees. If you have a baby carrier you want to donate (or want to buy one new to donate--with an added discount from Pump Station), you can drop it at any of its locations. I have a couple to move out of my garage and hope they have a second life in someone's time of need.

Here's to a little drought relief on a Tuesday. Even as I write now, the storm seems to be breaking up and blue sky is punctuating the foggy rain clouds. Perhaps we'll be lucky again later for some more, but I'm grateful for what we had last night and today.

More... by Emily Holmes

I'm laying on my couch with the AC on. It's been a week of nearly or over 100 degree weather in Los Angeles. I come from a more temperate or colder part of the world (depending on the time of year) and don't have the stamina for this sort of thing. I have also had a fairly mellow week after what seemed like a long string of weekday and weekend work and play. I've been catching up on the little things that had taken a backseat in the fray. But now the laundry is washed and folded, the musical projects have been mostly completed and the fit client is in the middle of trade shows, time is moving slower.

This is not a complaint, merely an observation. I'm lucky to have the time to rest, reboot and re-engage with the people and things that mean the most to me. I do still have a nagging desire to do more. What is this more? Is it making more music for the EP? Is it finding more acting gigs? Is it playing more live shows? Is it more fit time or clients to earn more money? Is it more work on myself? (I can say for sure that it SHOULD be that.) I don't know. It could be more nights of sleep that are uninterrupted by mewling cats or toddler requests to turn the stars back on, but even those have their beauty.

I don't know what the more is or if I'm even craving it all the time. I guess I just notice it more when there's less to do. Focused writers and artists know how to use that time to make things, instead of burn online hours on social media or mindless wandering in grocery stores or malls. Sometimes I'm one of those focused people and sometimes I'm one of those tuned out humanoids looking for distraction. I'm trying to find the peace in the imperfection.

So, my biggest projects of late are the Angelenos EP and the epic wins and fails of raising an amazing little girl. Both are very important to me, the latter has obvious long-term ramifications. Some might argue that I shouldn't even group the two together, but honestly, I'm just being real about it. I love the music I've been working on with Tim Lefebvre and Gary Novak. I think it's good and true and maybe some of my best work. I also think the two biggest things in my life are interrelated, i.e. I couldn't make this music had I not had R in the first place. I had to move to LA. I had to buy that lady's amp and midi keyboard. I had to teach myself Logic Pro and begin writing synth based songs. Most importantly, I had to transform from my individual self to my partner-mother-artist self. It hasn't been easy. It's been awesome at times and gut-wrenching at others. They say, you sign up for that when you have a child, though you either don't believe them (relying on your invincibility skills of past days) or you can't understand the scope of the job.

Beyond my music and my child, I've been working on me. I've re-engaged with working out both in yoga and Pop Physique a few times a week. I've also sought out yoga classes that contain a meditation component to help internally balance me. The Supermoon last month also brought up some interesting insights on some unresolved relationships in my past. I had a few "ah-ha" moments that I'm trying to figure out what to do with. Sometimes I wonder if I need to tell those people my observations or if I simply embrace them and move forward to new connections keeping the insights in mind as I move forward. I know it's vague, but I'm trying to protect identities with this point.

But let's back up to Riley again, she's three years old now. That went fast. Well, it feels that way looking back, but wasn't while going through it. She's always been a smart, funny, precocious, joyful girl with her finger on the rage trigger at the point of a frustrating moment. She's volatile and strong and tender. She's creative and imaginative and artistic and musical, as much as she's a loud screamer, a "throw things across the room when frustrated" fighter, and a master of not going to bed on time. It can be very irritating to live through those moments feeling manipulated and not fight back, or if you get into it, how to get to the other side after the emotions have calmed down without the guilt of being a "terrible mother." I spent several hours in an emotional mess a few weeks back after R and I had it out yelling across the house about throwing toys when angry. Then as we're talking through how each of us felt and coming to resolution, Papa gets home and she instantly forgets about the entire event. I don't recover that quickly. I'm crying on the floor of the kitchen, and B gets her best lovely self to hang out with after he gets home from work. And that's just one day in the life... all moms of spirited children understand this.

On the other side of the coin, she's in school now and she's growing more every day. We now have real conversations. In fact, last night, I was apologizing for losing my cool earlier in the day and asked if she noticed. She said, "Yeah, I did." But after an apology on my part and a hug, she said to me, "And Mama, I want to apologize for throwing my things onto the floor." It came unprompted. We weren't even discussing an instance where that played a part. I was very impressed by her memory and her honesty. It made me proud to be her mother. She says things like that a lot.

So, there's a quiet in the house. The cat naps beside me. I watch the traffic on the Glendale Freeway from my living room window. I still have time, even after writing this blog and taking a 30 minute catch-up phone call from an old friend. I think I'm going to do something with that time. Maybe not MORE. I don't know what it is yet, but wish me luck, I'm hoping it's unexpected.

My lord, has it been so long... by Emily Holmes

I knew it had been a while since I last blogged, but I had no clue I was pushing a half year. Maybe it's because life has been fast paced with travel and family projects. Maybe I was holding back, not wanting to commit to another post. Maybe I felt I had nothing to say. Actually, it is a bit of all of that. 

I had a very productive work meeting with an old friend today with the end goal of cowriting a song that she might use for her podcast series. We didn't write anything musically or commit to words, but we did some WORK. Emotional work. Spiritual work. HEAVY work. The kind where you confront the fears and the anxieties and try to work out the cause. Luckily, I got my physical work out on earlier with a class at Highland Park's Pop Physique...

Since the end of the meeting, I wanted to write something. Maybe a gratitude list. Maybe a list of ways to curb bad reactive behavior when triggered by my 3 year old daughter. Maybe an appreciation study of all I've done with my life, experiencially and professionally. I wasn't sure. Then, I thought, I have a blog. This might be of interest or actually help someone besides me to write down. So here I am...

I've been struggling a lot recently. I'm having a hard time wanting to do music. I spent years and years committing to a life, a pursuit, a passion and now I'm feeling overwhelmed by thoughts like "Does anyone care?" or "Where is the payoff of working to promote a show only to have a few souls show up?" or worst yet, "I don't enjoy this." It's scary. I know there a love in there somewhere, but I'm tired keeping up with my daughter. I'm sad feeling guilty about having to choose where my time goes--child, family, job hunting, music. I have time to do things in more sparing amounts so maybe I should work out or grocery shop or take a day for me. 

Honestly, I think it's why I've thrown myself into the commercial acting work. It's easy. I get to talk to adults. I get out of my house. And in the long run, I'm not trying to be an actor, so there's no hurt if the role doesn't come through. If it does, I get to be part of some production and make a little money to boot. I get some kind of validation that my contribution had a positive effect. I don't always see that come back to me with music. What's more frustrating is that I'll listen back to work I'm doing and I KNOW it's good. 

I've also taken some time and attention to my physical health lately. Throughout my life, I've wrestled with digestive issues--pain, bloat, gas, irregularity--and usually would blame stresses I was going through as the cause. While yes, many gut issues can be explained by that, it wasn't the sole reason. I recently did some acupuncture and consultations with a few people and was suggested to try going dairy-free for 30 days. I wanted change, so I took it on.

This is the point in the story when a lot of people say, "That must be hard. Cheese." Honestly, I don't eat a ton of cheese in the block form way. I cut out yogurt, switched to almond milk, began using avocados on sandwiches as a cheese sub and you know what? I feel so much better. I watched middle body bloat disappear. I stopped having crippling stomach cramps after meals. I haven't had a constipation or IBS moment since. I have more energy. My skin issues haven't flared up. It's like a miracle was handed to me for a fairly reasonable trade off. I'm not perfect. I cave for a bite of birthday cake every once and a while, but it seems to be working, so I have made it a big diet shift.

I'm also in a good place with R. She turned a corner recently where she is now talking in complete conversations (let alone sentences), creating elaborate imaginary play, going to school for full days, sleeping in a crib/bed she can get out of and becoming even more of a person. As I've mentioned, I've never been a fan of the baby stage, so all these communication and developmental achievements make it easier to deal with the occasional tantrum or frustration lash-out behavior when she can't do the thing she's trying to do. My part is to show up and not engage in the crazy-making. I am quite good at the reactionary stuff, so it's testing me and (with luck) helping us both grow into better people.

As I sit in the darkened dining room looking out on the last of the sunset over Griffith Park, hazy with incoming coastal fog or remnants of today's big highway/Church fire that happened down the hill, I'm strangely at peace. Maybe today was a transitional day for me, a breaking point I needed to cross to get some serenity. I feel settled and focused simultaneously. Quiet and lighter. I don't have answers on where my malcontentedness about music will lead me, but for now, I don't need to know. Here's to another Tuesday passed and a new Wednesday to arrive in the morning...

It was just my imagination... by Emily Holmes

Don't you love the world of make-believe? I know I do. It's put me in a few bad spots over the years, but has also allowed me to create art and music, wild parties and events, and great life moments. Pretending is one of those things that requires presence and faith. You can't passively imagine something, and you can't go there without a bit of effort.

I was a child with a huge imagination. It could have come from a more rural hometown environment, or maybe some kids are just wired that way. I remember going into those worlds of elaborate details and playing for hours by myself. In springtime, the rhododendron plants under our Poplar trees became the most lovely bridal dress shop that I would weave my way through and become lost in the beauty. I could see a clearing in the meadow across from my house, and it became a Romantic glen with flower wound rope swings. There were abandoned house foundations that would become great dungeons and castles to battle warring crusaders. This was all about a 5-minute walk from my front door.

Well, I was happy to see in the last few weeks the gift of imagination had suddenly appeared in Riley's world. Literally overnight, she went from needing a lot more interactive play time to simply peeling off and talking to her dolls or her trains. She began setting up worlds with her blocks and then having her trains park on them in very specific ways while she checked in with her trains to see if it was all working to spec. Most of all, she would "disappear" in her own world, sometimes as close as 5 feet away from me in the room. It's an amazing thing to watch.

So where is my imagination these days?, I wondered. I know I still use it in the process of songwriting. I have a much more stable life in reality, so mining the freak shows and dark alleys of life isn't something I'm as prone to do these days. That said, I like to write from a more character perspective. Most of these voices have some anchor in my present or past, but the specifics are definitely the work of novel and poetry.

I suppose if I'm thinking outside the box, I use pretending when I jump into the world of acting. I've been playing a few moms and hosts and various other roles in auditions or improv that has been fun. I don't visit that world often, so it has its kicks too.

It's a good muscle to flex. I feel like it allows me a chance to try out new ideas and directions. With the motherhood-reinvention process, this comes in extremely handy. 

 

Great idea! Play a festival... on #SXSW week by Emily Holmes

So, as I've written a few million times, it's tough keeping up musical appearances while raising a toddler. I know no one expects it. In fact, I'm pretty sure a lot of folks just wrote me off as having "fallen into the black hole of parenthood." But as a lifelong artist, or at least dedicated--perhaps obsessively--worker in the craft, I feel it. At this time of year, mid March, I feel it most. It's not St. Patrick's Day that I miss, but that crazy week in Austin, TX--South By Southwest.

You see, I've gone down to the festival many times over the years. My band Sexfresh played the festival (officially--which these days isn't even a big deal because most people play day parties anyway) in 2001 at a shot bar that has since changed hands probably 3 times. We had a great time. We met folks, drank cheap beer, walked away grabbing corporate schwag, stickered and flyered the conference show lobby and even got a recommended showcase time in the Austin Weekly's SXSW Festival coverage. Not bad for a tiny banjo-trance band from San Francisco...

Well, from that year forward, I was hooked. Austin, in general, had me. I even toyed with moving there and tried for a few months but found myself adrift in the mellower that my comfort levels tide of the town. Despite not kicking my New York City habit, I would return to Austin every year to play the festival, visit friends and breathe in its easy feel.

So in honor of the festival and city that holds a piece of my heart, I offer up a live performance for another festival that I learned about just last week called Couch By Couchwest. Turns out there's other folks like me who are not there and maybe missing it just a bit. It's a virtual festival where artists record versions of songs (the more out there and wacky, the better, according to the web site) and email them in along with a short submission form. The organizers then post the live videos. The range of videos and artist level is diverse and that's what makes it great! Thanks Eliot Wagner for turning me onto them in the first place.

http://couchbycouchwest.com/emily-zuzik-you-want-to-go-out-tonight/

EZ Mach 2 for 2015 by Emily Holmes

So, I decided for February 2015 that I would give myself the gift of a new website. Here it is. I've spent about a week of any precious downtime planning, testing, writing, digging to find images (did I mention my main hard drive with all this data died late last year?) and assembling the new digital home of all things me. I like the results, but it did come with some harried days of "under the hood" in a template based environment. While the result is pretty, the journey to get there is often filled with road blocks and frustration. I had to say that up front because I want to congratulate myself for making the time, re-educating myself on web management and committing to the end goal. It's hard enough to carve out time for yourself, your health and your art when you have a child. To do "fun" stuff like database management or web site rebuild is a special kind of patience and torture simultaneously.

Besides the web site, I've been lucky to have a string of visitors at my home for 3 weeks. Good friend "Auntie" Jeanne and old friend Carrie F. came for a short visit that was filled with laughter, dancing, yoga on the grounds of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Mount Washington and a fun, raw food excursion to The Springs LA. After their visit, I had old pal and tour mate Meredith D. from Oh Cassius! here in town. We were able to have some nice mellow hangs in my back yard/garden. The entire month flew by with those guests alone.

On the child front, we now have a small human being in our home. Compared to the baby years, R has grown in size, vocabulary, physical agility, social poise and humor. She loves playing with words, making up a new language, painting pictures of her teachers or the laundry room, and dancing to our new turntable (to one of 3 records--"Here Comes the Sun" (Beatles), "Jam On It" (Newcleus) and "Bizarre Love Triangle" (New Order)). 

I love this girl so much. She is a fiercely independent toddler and yet so affectionate and fun. We have the best of times, and we fight like dogs over stupid shit. I can only imagine what the teen years will be like, but for now, my girl is just that MY ONE AND ONLY. We've been through some tough times earlier and yet, now, for some reason, it seems so much better. Even with the meltdowns. I am so lucky to have her in my life.

Musically, I'm writing and crafting plans for a new EP with Tim Lefebvre that picks up electronically where we left off with "Domestic Blitz." I'm thrilled to be working on new songs with him, and I think it will be an interesting direction thematically. So much life has happened since the writing of our first record together. So as that comes together, I will be updating you all. Until then, it's back to the writing, the acting (I've been auditioning and shot a spec commercial in Long Beach on Super Bowl Sunday), the MOM-ing and the planning for spring weeds to take over my garden.

I'm emerging... I think. 2.7.14 by Emily Holmes

If you've been wondering where I've been for a while, I might be kind and say I'm just down in a new project. That would be true, partly. I've been tweaking away in my studio working on a bunch of new electronic music. None is done, and there is not set deadline. A lot of collaboration is afoot, and midi plays a huge part of it all.

But...

I would also be more honest in saying I've been sick with some kind of sinus, dry cough, congestion and all kinds of ick since Christmas, and I'm really trying to kick its ass in early February. I even got a new doctor and WENT! Now I'm on a Z pac and a steroid nasal inhaler for allergies and hoping for the best.

That aside, yes, I'm thrilled about some upcoming news.

First up, I'm releasing a new song on Feb. 25th called The Only Moment in the World. I co-produced and mixed the song with Jimmy La Valle of The Album Leaf. The song was written as part of a digital pop-up book project, A Picture is Worth..., published by Proseed Books. In it, I was paired with photographer Veronique Roblin's photo series and had to create a work based on the imagery I received. The pictures were stunning. There were many haunting photos of an industrial French river towns at the break of day. I wrote a tune that tells a story in that town. It follows a couple as they wind their way along the water and through a history of their affair.

I'll be sure to let everyone know when it's for sale and what the links are. Also, there will be some press attached to the release (radio, write ups). I'll post those too. Hopefully, I'll get them all up on my web site and Facebook pages.

I also felt like the whole song and imagery conjured up the spirit of Monica Vitti in such Antonioni classic films as L'Avventura and La Notte. I tried to capture a bit of that in the artwork. I really enjoyed the experience of playing a character in the song and in the artwork, a kind of Cindy Sherman experiment.

And that brings me to the next theatrical project...

I'll be joining forces with fellow Silverlake MOMS Club mama Bess Fanning in her month-long run of "Death of a Boob Man." It's a one woman comedy in which I will kick off the show performing 3 of Bess's songs. Those are also characters I'll be performing, the different stages of women around our age... I'll leave it at that as not to give away any details. I'm psyched to be part of a theatre show. I haven't done anything like that in ages. Bess is a good friend and our kids are 3 days apart and share a name. How random is that?!? Kismet, I say.

And what would a blog entry be without a Riley update? Well, the little lady is climbing like a monkey. Her favorite locations are the couch, the step ladder, the bench by the door and the chairs in the dining room. She loves to bounce on the couch. She's ripping up a mad vocabulary, even stringing little phrases together. She loves sound effects and is a superb listener. One way both of those are exhibited are when I beat box. She watches, listens and then tries to repeat back the sounds. It both amuses and challenges her. She still sleeps like crazy during the naps and overnights and eats nearly everything we give her. Thank God! But the rumblings of her upcoming 2nd birthday are rearing their heads. She's been known to throw a few tantrums (expected) and seems to be very sensitive about stuff that didn't necessarily bother her before. Guess it's all normal. Some days I'm better at dealing with it than others. I have a bit more help and I may be picking up a freelance writing gig in addition to the music stuff, so that will be handy. Oh yeah, and it's preschool interview time. I've seen about 8 schools and we're applying to a few. Wish us luck! And we're potty training...

That's the latest. Here's to more good news soon! 

Finding me... one conversation at a time 3.18.14 by Emily Holmes

I've recently taken to taking meetings. I know, very LA of me. Yes, it's true. I'm meeting people over the phone and over a lunch table to talk business. Interestingly enough, the business tends to center on something I am acutely familiar with... myself.

I know this sounds odd and trust me, I couldn't agree with you more. BUT... as I attempt to re-ermerge as both an artist and a woman (now with a child), I've found I may need more help than I originally thought. As a result, I'm taking meetings to find open ears on who I now am and to help clarify where it is I want to go.

I am in a place of deep soul searching, as well as creative output, having just released a new single (The Only Moment in the World) on my label, lining up another tune for release this summer and creating a collection of new songs that may or may not be an electronic album in the works. I've been cranking out all kinds of music and most of it has no words. That too is interesting to me because it's symbolic of me not knowing who I am or how to express it.

I've been performing, mostly because I like it and it's like old hat to me. I can dial it in if necessary, but honestly, because I don't do it as often as I used to, it's a rare treat. You can't really count impromptu dance parties or song performances to a 21-month old as "shows" even when the audience in your head is Wembley but the audience in front of you is throwing yogurt on the ground and rubbing oatmeal in her hair.

So, as I say, I'm taking meetings. Or would it be better to simply say, I'm meeting the next connection that will lead to yet another connection. Sounds hippie dippy, but I believe that this grand spider web approach to life works. I've had a lot of really odd things fall into place lately through new connections. I've also been open to trying new things, some outside my comfort zone (like this month's performances as part of Death of a Boob Manwith Bess Fanning). I used to rely more upon the web of connections approach while living in New York, but the distance in Los Angeles added to the time commitment of motherhood, kind of zaps my spiritual "me" space. I schedule to the hilt to be sure my daughter is not bored at home, or better yet, is engaged in the world around her. I have the time before everyone is up, my daughter's nap time and the time before I goto bed to "go there." I also nap a good bit of that time of late.

It is a goal of mine for 2014 to be working more. I don't want to settle for yet another retail sales job, which I could do, and probably well, if you're into soul zapping activities. I'd love to be working as a true songwriter--making music that I can add to film or TV, creating collaborative works with other artists or even crafting songs for other artists.

But I was asked today in one such meeting, "Everyone's barking up that tree. What makes you different?"

Shit, 50 million dollar question, right?!? I wish I had an immediate answer to this, and yet, I do not. This is where the true work begins. My life changed so much, and so quickly, when I moved to LA that sometimes I feel like I'm in a bubble where I'm an alien on a different planet. Things seem familiar to me and I do many of the same things I did in New York City, but it's all just a bit off. It's been one of my biggest challenges out here. That and finding reliably great food in a restaurant with cozy ambiance...

And another thing, all this focus on self seems a bit... selfish. I know I have to let some of that emotion go because I'm the only one who can answer these questions. I also have to recognize that I will be a better mother and partner to my husband if I can find happiness within myself and in my work.

I want to summarize this post, to give it a spin and end with some sense of conclusion, but I can't find those words. I'm not unhappy. I'm in the grey space. It's also evening and I'm going to get some decent rest tonight, so I'm signing off for now. Just an update on where I am.

On a side note, for those tuning in for the Riley part of this blog, I am happy to report that she is speaking 2 word sentences regularly now. She is also counting to beyond ten given the day. She rides a little scooter with a helmet. She's still obsessed with cars. She's forged a new obsession with the jumper at Peekaboo Playground in Eagle Rock. She's lovely and funny and smart and very attached to Mama again. I'm trying to engage her in new activities like our 3 meals a week I cook from the Blue Apron food delivery/recipe service we just joined. She's really into trying to eat garlic. I think all this is very good and promises to make her an even more unique woman someday.

The beauty of growing and the pain of letting go 4.5.14 by Emily Holmes

Hello all, it's me again. Currently, I'm sitting on a couch facing my back yard. The canyon breeze is rustling the leaves and coaxing our wind chimes to play. It's about 70 degrees and sunny, a lazy kind of sunny with some haze to keep it diffused. It's quiet and I feel calm. The baby is napping after a lovely mama and baby hang hosted by our mama group's member Claire. I have time to rest and think.

I'm very fortunate. Let me begin there. I love my home. I love my friends and I love my family. We are all healthy and doing well. Riley has always been chattery, but now she's not only expressing concepts but is making small sentences to describe what she sees, what she needs and what she remembers. It's a great time to be around her. She loves life. And while curiosity can make a mama insane at times (Don't put that in your mouth? Don't climb onto that table? etc.), in the long run, it will be a good quality to have.

I've been watching her morph from a baby into a little girl. It's fascinating and altogether so amazing. I'm lucky to have the time to do this. I'm also lucky to have friends experiencing the same thing. We're each others' sounding boards. We're also growing closer as our kids spend time together. We'll be forged together for years to come having shared this time with each other and with each others' children.

I'm happy to watch my husband, Brad, evolve as he takes on a new career. I'm seeing him open in new ways and experience a lifestyle with work that he has seldom seen, as his previous career as a TV editor. Nothing like a blast of midday work sunshine on broker open houses to combat years of editing in a dark room...

I'm growing slowly too. While I haven't had much interest in writing of late, I've had a great opportunity to work with a fellow mama Bess on her theatre show, Death of a Boob Man, where I perform 3 of her songs at the top of the production. It's been a fun time working in a live theatre again. And it's a great experience being part of a 3 woman team!

As with all growing times, there is letting go. I have to let go that I'm not working like I used to. I have to let go of the notion that by not working as I once did that I'm not contributing anything positive to the world around me. I have to let go of perfection, because there is NO perfection.

Sadly, though, and more reality-based, is I have to let go of my dear friend and 12-year-old kitty, Jables.

Around the weekend of my 40th, he started limping. Now, he's an outdoor cat a good bit of the time so I figured that he just twisted an ankle jumping off a wall or had bad arthritis. A visit to the vet kind of took the wind out of my sails when his doc told me an x-ray showed a large tumor in his hind leg. The bad news was that the location was not good for operation and given how quickly the symptoms came on, it was likely a very quick to grow form of bone cancer, which is usually a quick death sentence for cats.

So, I think to myself, I'm waiting for a cast on a possible small fracture and you're telling me inoperable cancer with weeks or months to live. Shit! Well, I didn't want to subject the poor guy to lots of vet visits, poking, prodding, MRIs and other nonsense when he could be hanging out with us focusing on the best quality of life. And that's what we did...

Jables has been on some meds since the 25 February and sadly, been on a slow, steady decline. His back leg where the tumor resides is nearly lame and while he still gets around on the other 3 well, he lays around a lot more than he usually does. I know it's not time yet, but I recognize it's coming. I've had to research vets who make house calls, euthanasia and cremation services, which is heartbreaking.

At one minute, I'm fine and doing the business of being a responsible pet owner. Then, I flashforward to the scene of putting him down in the garden (his favorite place) in my arms and I lose it. In fact, just typing this, I'm crying.

Then there's the business of knowing WHEN is the right time. I struggle with this because I don't want to feel in any way that I rushed it for Jables. In many ways like today as he suns himself on the brick porch under our lanai, he seems like the old Jables, no cancerous tumor, just chilling in the rays. I want to remember him this way but I don't want to live in denial. He's going to die and likely not too terribly far away from now.

I got Cage and Jables in 2002 when my then landlord's cat got knocked up by a tom cat in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Sounds like the lyrics of a Tom Waits song, I know. There were 4 kitties born and I took two from the litter. Jables was named "Cutie" by the landlord's kids because he was the most handsome of the litter with his big white neck and stomach against his grey-brown tabby coat. He also had HUGE ears, paws and eyes. The former two belied what was to become my huge (nearly 17 lb) cat. His sister, Cage, is like a little replica of him.

A little background on the names, they're named after nicknames of Tenacious D's Jack Black and Kyle Gass, from the short lived HBO series of the same name.

Jables and I have also been through a ton of health issues with him. He's a "crystal producing" cat, which for those not in the know has nothing to do with sci fi and everything to do with UTI. His body chemistry produces stones that block. When cats block, they can't go to the bathroom and can eventually die from this without surgery. He's blocked 3x in his life. The 3rd time he had a very intense surgery called a PU surgery, which essentially emasculates him allowing him to not "block" in the male aparatus. I know, TMI... but this is his story. I always wanted to make t-shirts that said "I love my TG cat!" Too much?!?

Happily, after the PU surgery, he never blocked again. That was almost 8 years ago. I felt like we had the bad stuff behind us because like most pet owners I guess I thought he was immortal and would never die. Now I'm facing this reality and man, it's tougher than I ever thought it would be. I'm also being real about it and just showing him with as much love as I have for him but maybe lost track of in the haze of having a new baby.

One of the things that really kills me though is Riley knows the kitties now. As in, she knows them as OUR kitties. She pets them and kisses them occasionally, and calls them by name. This just kind of happened in the last few months. So, now, beyond saying my own farewell, how am I going to explain this to her?

I'm filled with doubts and grief and also a bit of relief in that I know when the time is right, we'll be together here and he won't have undue suffering. So, those are the transitions at Chez Holmes. I'm happy to have today where everything has gone really well and I'm feeling both emotionally strong but also serenely vulnerable. Growing and letting go, like breathing the air over and over again...
 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Oakland and Remembering 4.28.14 by Emily Holmes

I just returned from an all-gal's weekend to the East Bay to visit my dear old girl friend Carrie. I brought Riley with me when Brad was out of town for a bachelor party. The lil one was a champ on the flight and overall, the entire weekend. It's kind of amazing when you trot a not-quite 2 year old onto a plane for a 2-day visit with people she barely knows. I should mention they also have a dog who is skittish around toddlers. Ripe for lots of baby melt downs.

I have to hand it to Riley, though, she was absolutely great. She took some time to warm up, but became friendly and social with our hosts within an hour and came to love Q-Tip (the dog) like her own. I write all this because as some of you know, my times with R have been peppered with drama in the past. This is not to say that we've crossed a line and all is merry from here on out, but I was so glad to have had such a loving and fun weekend with my daughter, as well as to share her with one of my oldest/dearest friends and explore a new part of the world together.

I have to also admit that I love Rockridge. The craftsmen homes, the tree lined streets, the family-friendly street vibe, the cute boutique and appealing eateries. I know it's a bit bourgeois, but I felt very at home there. I could imagine a life there and yet, I have no clue what I'd be doing. Music travels well enough, but there's the obvious higher standard of living there that would likely require me returning to work full time.

While I was there, my friend Carrie asked me what do you think are the biggest differences between northern and southern California? I had a lot of reactions as we drove above South of Market toward Hayes Valley.

The air is cleaner. The fog is stunning in the Bay Area. The architecture is different. The populace and its characteristics favor different things--like LA has a lot of beautiful people and SF has some of the smartest people I know. Folks dress differently. You live a lot more in your car down south and there's more people in alternative transit methods up north. SF has a small town feel in ways and LA feels vast and sprawling. Both are neighborhood-y. Is one better than the other? I guess it depends on who you are.

I lived in San Francisco from 1997-2001. It was the absolute perfect time in my life to be there. I was one year out of college and listless. I was "trained" to be on a strict career path and found that I generally disliked that way of life. I wanted the freedom to be freelance without the pains of scraping by to afford the lifestyle. At the time, (pre-original dot.com boom) San Francisco offered this kind of life. I remember having $495/month rent in a two story Victorian flat with 3 roommates, one of whom was my boyfriend at the time. I also scored a job early on first at a newspaper and second at a now-defunct web browser (Snap.com) writing weekly web site reviews. I wrote freelance film, music and lifestyle pieces on the side. I made my month's expenses in one week's pay that usually required working about 3 days.

But times change...

Then as R napped this afternoon, I had some down time and caught a few Sex and the City episodes. Rapid fire dialogue. Fast paced adventures. Full of vanity, social climbing and love affair chasing drama. It was dizzy and made me smile. It also reminded me that my life is NOTHING like that now. I felt a little misty for the old vibe. I shared a lot of that kind of life with my friend Carrie who I just saw. How both of us have changed and how much our lives don't resemble that show anymore.

I know NYC is not SATC, nor was my life a reflection of the girls on the show, but I did have some fabulous times with some amazing ladies there. I dressed better. My hair and makeup were almost always done more than here. I wore heels a lot more. I went to new bars and restaurants with some regularity. I saw a lot more live music and played out far more. My life was external to my home. Now my home is my base with the external being far less visited. I'm a mom. I don't know what else I am sometimes. It's frustrating. Then again, I always felt like I was running to keep up the best appearance of what I was in NYC. Or maybe the city just speeds things up so fast that you doubt who you are all the time...

Discovering and remembering are important to me right now. In this time of personal growth and transition, I need both to help me sift through the shaky territory. I'm hoping in time that it will all make sense. In the meantime, I have a wonderful daughter to challenge me to see new things and old friends like Carrie to remind me of who I was and who they know me to be.

 

Transitions at Casa Holmes and Saying Goodbye 7.5.14 by Emily Holmes

I'm facing the realization that I will be putting my cat Jables down next week, and it's killing me.

Many of you may remember the post I wrote after his initial diagnosis. The vet expected only a few weeks. Jables muscled through that and more. It's been four months since that vet visit and for a while, he was doing OK. We opted for quality of life approach and have been trying to dedicate our time to being loving and present with him while he is here. Sadly, he's not a happy cat anymore. His back paw/leg is entirely lame. He has trouble getting around and has been sequestering in different places. He's still very loving in the times that he chooses to be near us, which makes the decision even more difficult.

No one wants to make the decision too early. I called his vet. I talked to another to get a second opinion about his behaviors. They both agreed that the time was dependent on me, but that he didn't seem to be in a good place. I don't want my little guy to suffer just so I can keep him around longer for me. I'm wracked with guilt and sadness and grief. I've had the misfortune to say goodbye to friends and lovers far before their time, but nothing prepared me for this wave of emotions over a pet.

I suppose if you accept a cat or dog or other animal into your life and heart as part of your family, it makes total sense. This is my friend of over 12 years who has lived with me through nine homes, two coasts, several cross country trips in a car, and many years sleeping at my feet. I remember him at different points in my life crawling up to my face while sleeping and petting my cheeks softly face to face. Both jarring and so intimate, he stared up at me with his big gumball eyes and slowly talked to me with eyes instead of words. Crazy, maybe?!? But I think all animals at our basest level are able to do this, and humans are no different than cats or dogs in that way. He is beautiful and loving, but he was also a son of a bitch at times. Biting me when I didn't get up to feed him on his schedule. Hissing at me when he didn't like my immediate reaction. Fighting with his smaller sister Cage with claws drawn. Yes, it hasn't all been roses, but with the end in sight, I see the complexity of love that we shared. I don't look forward to the week ahead. I am saying my goodbyes...

And while that is a lot in and of itself, my life has become extra full of late. I'm performing live again, in a more deliberate and frequent way. Beyond playing in new rooms, I've found I'm meeting more and more people who I am connecting with through music. Some are new collaborators. Some are audience members who connected to my songs. Some are musicians I've met and written with in the TopTune shows in Los Angeles. I've been lucky to hear some amazing performers. I've been challenged to write at my "game" level both for artistic pursuits and for fun (once again, Top Tune...). In each interaction, I sense that I'm regaining my strengths as a writer and performer that have laid dormant for the last 2 years as I raised my daughter from infancy. It feels good to reclaim my shoes and to grow in ways that are going beyond what I could do before. It's part of this "transition" that I've written about in the past.

As far as other transitions are concerned, Riley is growing into her "big girl" self. Beyond stringing sentences together and making past-present-future associations in conversation, she's also tackled the big task of potty training. While every day is an adventure, she's really good with it. We're cheating a bit by having her sleep in Pull Ups instead of going cold turkey on diapers completely, but she has really taken to the "big girl" stuff and seems genuinely happy to be achieving it. We also switched her car seat around so she now sits in the big girl "special seat" position. She starts preschool part time in the fall and that too is a HUGE transition, for both of us. She'll be taking her first steps into having time away from Mama among other kids her age, and I'll be regaining more time to do work or to do nothing at all. It's daunting too. I know I'll be a big blubbering mess once I walk out of the school on her first day, but it's also a step we both must take in the acceptance of growing older. She will get more and more independent from here onward and I want to be a parent who accepts that she's going to take those steps and eventually leave altogether.

Then, my hub Brad has made a huge career transition to real estate. He's become a full-time agent and while that is incredibly exciting, it comes with a burden of the new. He's doing well with clients and the adjustment of a new schedule has made us healthier as a family, but there is the unknowing of how a new business will fare. When you're in business for yourself, it varies all the time. It's a different mindset and it takes a skill set that you figure out over time on how much do you work, when do you rest, how to do you continue to grow and thrive. All very daunting stuff. I know I've stalled out with it more than a few times with music, so I am trying to be as supportive as I can be.

With time comes change. With change comes happiness and sadness. Growth is never easy, but it gives you opportunities to look at yourself and see where you've been and perhaps where you're heading. The middle is the fragile time. I'm in the middle now. Wish me well...

Losses in Life 9.2.14 by Emily Holmes

I don't even know where to begin. I've been absent. At least with this blog. And my life seems so full with good and bad events of late. I think I last wrote about having Jables leave us. It was a sad time, both watching his decline and accepting the inevitable fact that I was losing one of my closest friends. That said, I feel like a couple other losses equally hit me.

I don't want to be one of those "cry at celebrity death" types, but the Robin Williams suicide gave me pause. Not so much for him, but for what it brought up for me. You see, I had an equally crazy, generous, intelligent, overbearing and bigger-than-life former boyfriend who also hanged himself. After my ex and I broke up, we never really spoke again. His energy and the instability of our relations was too much for me. My life worked without him in it. He reached out once or twice and I considered reacquainting, but I was still scared and cautious of what the mayhem it could wreak for me, so I replied with silence.

Three months after moving to Los Angeles (where I was fairly calm knowing I wouldn't bump into him on the street), I got a call from a dear friend at 7 in the morning. I can't remember if it was then or earlier. It felt unnaturally early. The kind of calls you get by east coasters who don't know you moved to California or the ones that deliver bad news. This was the latter. My friend wanted me to hear it from her. I responded - honestly - that I'd been waiting for this kind of call about him for some time.

It's strange to feel like you know someone won't live a long life. Perhaps they shine too brightly or burn hotter than most. In my opinion, you can't sustain that. What was a sad story made even more tragic. I still hope he's at peace, or if you're not into the spiritual stuff, that he found what he needed right before he took his life.

I watched the memorials pour in on the web. He was clearly loved and terribly missed. I'm sure some of the women (in particular, being that my ex was a bit of a ladies man) had similar experiences with him to my own and maybe they moved on from it, or maybe they too chose silence. I'll never know and it doesn't matter now anyway. I always try to see the goodness in his soul and heart and know that the battle he fought every moment of his life eventually overtook him.

Sadly, this past week I was once again to hear of an old friend, a vibrant light of a person, had also passed. It is unclear if it was the result of a medical condition or by her own hand. All I know is it was sudden. And frankly, it doesn't matter how it happened.

I remember the last time I was in Austin, I returned to her home, the one where I'd stayed many times in days past, the great times I'd had smoking cigarettes and drinking Diet Cokes for breakfast with her in the back yard. Her infectious smile. Her clear, light blue eyes. Her crazy schemes. Her openness and generosity. She was amazing. And like anyone with all that larger-than-life energy, she was definitely not the run of the mill woman or mother. Some may say crazy. I might say crazy from time to time, but kind and good to me over the years.

She no longer lived in that house, and I didn't know where she moved. I asked about her to the new residents, but they kind of blew me off. I would likely do that too if some stranger was in my yard asking about the previous owners.

I hope both of them are at peace, truly being themselves without limitations or the hardship that this world seemed to grant both of them.

On a less final note, I'm sending Riley off to preschool for the first time this week. This is a big milestone, for us all. I was saying just this morning that while I know it's time and that she's going to grow so much from this experience, that I hope she doesn't change too much. She's been so loving and snuggly and close lately. It's this closeness that I know will change and alter as she gets older and pulls away from Mama to embrace the world and her new friends. It's this change I fear and also accept is coming with a sense of melancholy. I wish for her joys and growing pains and hope to all the joy in the Universe that she doesn't ever come to a point where the world seems too much for her, like it was for my friends who also lit up rooms with their presence. I can only let go and be there along the way. For each growth comes a loss of something to make room for it. So here's my losses in life of late and I'm trying to be open for what is coming...

The Rocker Mom Dichotomy 11.11.14 by Emily Holmes

Well, all, it's been a while. That's what blogging as a mom will get you. Between raising a newly burgeoning personality and revitalizing a career that's been between Neutral and First Gear for the last 3 years, I haven't had a ton of extra time for writing. Oh, I should mention that I just released a new EP with my co-writing partner Art Hays called DETOURSand been promoting that as well. However you slice it, this blog gets the shaft each time. It's a labor of love, as are most thing that don't involve potty training, independence stand-offs, balanced-budget homemaking and the occasional show. Even the latter is next on the shaft list...

So that said, I've been pretty busy with all of the above, plus the EP, plus theBillboard/Hollywood Reporter Film/TV Music Conference and Independent Music Conference. I am also taking on the occasional extra role at Riley's preschool while continuing to co-chair Mom's Night Out Committee for the Silverlake Mom's Club.

So, the dichotomy--how is one the "Rocker Mom"?

I kind of adopted the title as a humorous addition to my signature file for emails. It seemed appropriate. I like to rock out. I have led bands that have rocked out on many occasions. I sometimes still can be seen rocking original or cover songs (like "Sweet Dreams" at the Interpreting New Wave show).

But then I roll in from the show at 1 a.m. (sometimes earlier... in fact, often) and rise again at 7 a.m. to the "Mommy Song" as I call it. (It sounds like this "Ma-ma Ma-ma Ma-ma" on repeat.) So those skills I had from days of yore, where you and 6 others slept in crunched-up form in the back of a van across the English countryside, or where you rolled into your 9 a.m. gig with a raging hangover, those skills, they come in handy as I muster the energy to be the Mama.

I sometimes feel like I'm experiencing whip lash if I move too quickly between the two worlds. It's funny because I just auditioned as a "rocker mom" for a show last week and was talking about this exact point. It's a different groove. I need different skills for each role. And just as you get your sea legs with one, the other role pokes you on the shoulder and punches you in the gut. My kid doesn't care how well my musical pitch is in the industry conference. My daughter's cuteness factor doesn't land me the licensing synch. Or the next big booking. Or a blog review of my new single.

You catch my drift.

I had a tough time just accepting the role of motherhood, and that was just as a woman with my own disturbing fears of intimacy, etc. Isn't the lead singer role kind of the perfect place to park all that insecurity? So be real and be patient and be there as Mama, and be bold, be big, be unattainable and magical as a rocker...

I've never been subtle as a personality. I laugh loudly from the gut. I drop F bombs and talk like a sailor. I like freaks and bohemian types. I'm not afraid to costume wildly. I tell it like it is and my give-a-shitter broke a while ago. I like to think that's what folks like about me. Never could pass myself off as a Junior Leaguer or Sorority Gal. Not my cup of tea...

Now I'm raising a mini-me in many ways, and I'm sure I will struggle with this in the years to come. Like, how do you balance truths you acquire from years of living intensely (often with some less than desirable outcomes) with the safety of your kid in those sticky impressionable years? Do you divulge your "partying" or "dating" history as a means of debunking stigmas against it? Or do you play dumb? Or do you play shadow puppets in the middle? Allude a bit here but keep the reality cloaked in mystery.

I don't know these answers and sometimes I wish I didn't have the artist spirit in me to further complicate an already daunting task of raising a child. I see many other mothers who seem to have streamlined the process. I am not naive to think they don't have conflicts in their lives, but do they yearn for that spot on stage? Do they crave the attention? Do they get a buzz from a live room or even a credit in liner notes? I think I'm part of a very narrow segment in the Mother pie chart. I've met others. We can smell it on each other, and we speak a shared language immediately.

So, once again, no answers. Just ruminations. Feedback always appreciated, especially when humorous...