I've had a completely unproductive week until about oh, 36 hours ago. Then, it's like my head went into FULL THROTTLE FRENCH MODE.
I've still been having a lot of fun with my Fluenz software, and am now halfway through the 1st of 5 disks in the program. It doesn't seem very far, but in reality, if I continue with my current pace, I will have completed the entire Fluenz French program well before October. This makes me extremely happy. =)
This morning, I made a list. I tried to create as many French phrases as I could think of using the vocabulary and skills that I've gained thus far. My list is now 3 pages long. In 15 lessons of Fluenz French, I am now completely confident that I could arrive in France, take a cab to my hotel, get a meal, and begin exploring without even breaking a sweat. This also makes me extremely happy. =) I can't even imagine how much information I will have under my belt by the time I finish even just Disk 1. Wheee!
I have also started mapping out my trip to France, which I hope will come to life in May of next year, to celebrate my 25th birthday. I'm saving/raising money for my trip, and am calculating how much cash I'll need, things I want to see, how long I'll stay in each city, etc. This has been a much needed kick in the pants, and I feel even more motivated now than when I originally started this whole venture.
I'm going to continue my list, and see how far I can stretch my brain over the next week. I hope to be able to post my "homework" in my next entry. Yay! -------------------To read Kaylynn's story from the start, click here.
I’ve come back from a 2-year hiatus. You see, when I was younger, my favorite bands consisted of Senses Fail, Atreyu, Dashboard Confessional and Sherwood. The problem with those bands is that they weren’t played on conventional and common radio stations. Although I listen to 0 of those bands nowadays, the point is that because I couldn’t listen to them outside of my ipod or my friend’s houses, and because my sister Morgan had just gotten her license, Kiss FM, being her favorite station, was the only medium through which I could listen to music in the car. So for a good 2 years, all I had to listen to in transit was rap and hip hop music.
As soon as she left for college, I swore off radio, and haven’t listened to it since the summer ending of sophomore year…two years ago. Although I’ve enjoyed my time with music I actually enjoy, this break left me with severe ignorance as to what’s been happening musically in rap. There’s some cool stuff.
Specifically, Kanye West. 808’s and Heartbreak sucked, but his new album is incredible. I spent all of this week listening to rap music ONLY. This album is sick. It’s been helping me prepare for my own rap, which, by the way, is coming along pleasantly but slow. I’ve been messing with the music of it for the past couple days, and it’s going to be pretty cool.
Beyond that, I recorded a rough demo version of the song I posted two weeks ago, now titled ‘The Color Collector”. So if you’d like to hear it, go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post to listen to the video. I drew a bunch of pictures correlating with the lyrics, so I think it’s a relatively interesting video.
After I recorded that really quick, I started looking at a bunch of my old demos from earlier in high school, and I’ve actually gleaned a whole bunch of new, cool ideas for more songs. The prospect of a new album by the end of this year is a good one.
I have a show March 25th, for any of you in the Naperville, Plainfield, Aurora, and Joliet areas. It’s at my church on the corner of 95th and book and will be featuring some pretty cool bands. I’ve been putting together my set list and it’s solid too, so get excited. So keep checking up and listening to my whatever it is that I put out! Thank you!
-ChristianTo see Christian's story from the beginning, click here
I'm back in New York(!!)AND leaving in 3 hours to go to the airport heading to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina until Tuesday! (“But Lexie you just got back to NY a few days ago!” you might say) and YES I did just get back but Matthew (my polar-opposite genius boyfriend for those of you who don't know) and I are going to South Carolina for his cousin's wedding. As you might realize by now, nothing in my life can be easy or normal and the craziness has already begun. I basically ran out of time to do laundry because I was stomping out the streets auditioning all day yesterday and so now I have 10 pairs of panties and a shirt soaking in my bathroom sink in Woolite...classy! AND Matthew booked my flight on some weird-probably-terrorist-like-airline that I have never heard of in which they charge for ANYTHING other than a backpack. So what am I doing? I am currently shoving 5 days worth of wedding clothes/ wedding-like-activity clothes into a backpack. Sticking it to the man, although I am sure I will be the foolish one with wrinkled clothes at a wedding; however, as I am sure you have figured out it takes a lot more than a few wrinkles in my clothes to embarrass me. I mean last week I did soberly pee in a sink...and then tell the web about it...and then just mention it AGAIN. Hmmm.See picture with my evil redeye (always), I am a lady.
In other more relevant news, since being back I have met with my pianist (briefly) and we have scheduled a time next week to get together next Thursday and really start to get ideas from paper/ my head transferred into some sort of action (not always an easy task..because there's a million thoughts in my head...and our schedules are so packed). I have also (randomly) met some wonderful people this week and was able to talk about different venues as to where I should do my show. Picking a venue has become an important aspect because basically I am still not sure what my show really is... is it a show? Or a well rounded cabaret? And these questions need to be answered because they influence the atmosphere in which it is presented, i.e. cabaret space or a theater? Basically, I think my show is becoming a sort of a standup with music.. but that's yet to be decided. I am hoping meeting with the pianist will help provide insight as to what it is becoming. Also this week at an audition, I ran into an acquaintance of mine and told him about the cabaret, and he said he was willing to help as an arranger/anything else I wanted help with! So it's been nice having the support of everyone. However, I am on bit of a time crunch getting it on it's feet. For starters, I start my next job in four weeks! Ohh ahhh! I will be playing the title role in “The Drowsy Chaperone”- a comedic musical that is going to be a freaking blast. One of the things about being a performer is that my schedule is always changing (and always flowing.. for those of you who instantly started singing “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas like I did—wow, how embarrassing for you and me). Basically, everyday is different so trying to set things up on a daily or sometimes even weekly basis can be difficult because I never know where I will be or what I will be doing. Definitely keeps me from having a monotonous life! When I start Drowsy rehearsals my days will be filled with intense rehearsals, not to mention I will be out of NYC again. Bottom line, these next four weeks are crucial to setting the structure of my show and meeting with my pianist to make sure I know the songs I want to include. Below are the four mini-goals that would make me very happy to achieve over the next four weeks:
- Rehearse EVERY song I decide to use with my glorious pianist.
- Find and set a venue.
- Have a outline of the show on paper.
- TITLE IT.
To read Lexie's story from the beginning, click here.
Hello fellow Spire...ers! (I should really find out how we all refer to each other on here...)
As you might have guessed, I'm writing this week's blog post from a place far higher than you. Yes, this blog comes straight to you from an American Airlines aircraft high above the US of A! I planned to use this as some cheesy metaphor for a really in-depth blog about soaring over our barricades and straight to achievement but I'm not really feeling it and I am sure you are not either. Still, it amazes me how I can be thousands of feet in the air and online at the same time. Insane.
In case you were wondering, the reason I am in an airplane is because I am on my way to Texas where it is currently a bit cloudy but about 40 degrees warmer than my Illinois home. I am off to audition and interview for a school out there! (prayers, well wishes, etc are all appreciated if you are so inclined to offer them) This being the case, my mind has hardly been focused on my 24 HR musical and more focused on finishing a portfolio, mastering a song, digesting two monologues and getting a freak-load of paper work taken care. Still in accomplishing these tasks, I have taken something out of this crazy week that will be crucial to achieving my goal. You see, Part of my audition process is actually an interview for the school's Theatrical Directing Track. For the interview I have had to put together a technical and directing resume along with pictures, scripts, designs...all that good stuff. In doing so I was reminded of something...
I really love what I do.
I love it a lot. I look at all the projects I have been blessed to be a part of along with all the work I have put into them. Some shows really kicked my butt, but finding pictures and recalling shows, I've felt nothing but joy and pleasant nostalgia. I have been reminded why I want to spend my life doing this, it's about the love for this craft.
And that is what the 24 HR musical is about. I want to accomplish this project because I really love what I do. In loving it, I want to use it to help others. In loving it, I want to challenge myself. These two things are what need to be the basis of everybody involved in the project. My core team, which is coming together already, also need to have a love for this art and these people and this opportunity to challenge ourselves. The performers are going to get to give back while undergoing one of the hardest things they'll do. But we are gonna do it, because we love what we do.
That is the recipe to this success; Do it with love in mind.
I know I promised you all a list this week. I do have it but it's not quite right yet and if I plan on doing this with love, I wanna do it right. Can you all give me one more week to deliver? It'll be worth it. And to soften the blow, Ill announce a team member next week! ;) bribery...gotta love it.
In love, (YES! Lame ties-ins for the win!)
Matthew ---------------To read Matthew's story from the beginning, click here.
This is just gonna be pretty short 'n sweet-Last weekend was wonderful! With three full days relaxing and chilling out with my Hubby what more could I ask for- oh yeah an awesome amount of logged piano hours!!! Last weekend I logged more hours on the piano than any other weekend thus far in spirespire. I really built up my confidence and stretched myself on the classical piece I'm playing. I'm still working at it line by line but I'm about 3 pages in at a
"fairly confident" rating level. BUT- this is 2 more pages than last week. In the realm of classical music- that is leaps and bounds for me! So I'm pretty excited and I'm feeling a little more pumped to keep digging away at this piece! I'm kind of a big fan of gaining confidence- yay :)-------------To read Nicole's story from the beginning, click here.
Ok, sorry for this uber short post, I have to go into a 2 hour meeting (ew), then straight to a shoot. I'm holding steady with my loss. YEAY! I'm running WAY behind on the push up challenge though...ugh....gotta get back into that!
Will post more later! If you have nay healthy recipes, please pass them my way! I need some new inspiration. High protein with clean foods. (quinoa, cous cous, veggies, whole grains, whole wheat, etc.).....
Post them in the comments if you have them. THANKS!!!!
I am made to reign over a kingdom.
Does that sound funny? John Calvin once stated, “Every man carries a kingdom in his breast,” and while he said it in a rather grieved manner, meaning that everyone thinks that they are better than others as the “king”, it could also mean that that legitimately, there is a desire in me and everyone I know to have a say, to cause something to occur, to have an appropriate space of leadership. To matter in a certain sphere.
I have a sphere. You have a sphere. For me, it’s my house, my marriage, my friendships, the youth group that I work with, even Spirespire could be considered a sphere. And things don’t go so hot when I play the tyrant queen, telling people what I think they should do, expecting things to go my way, being a know-it-all (which my little bookworm self has the tendency to lean towards) nor do they go very well when I act the peasant and draw no boundaries and allow others to rule me.
So much of life feels like it’s spent trying to dominate (through office politics or drama or fear tactics) or convince (the bar scene and high school both comes to mind) or guilt (“you owe me”) people into giving over the respect that we’re so desperately hungry for. But our tactics, frankly, suck.
I don’t really like being a good queen though. (ha, that sounds weird.) Because, ironically, to be the best, most effective ruler of my tiny kingdom, I have to give up the desire to have it all go my way. I have to be a servant to the people that I am around. I have to clean up puddles of two-year-old pee (we’ve gone backwards a bit in our potty training today) without being a frustration monster (not achieved today…), I have to be mindful of my friends and listen without fixing or advice-giving (probably one of my hardest battles), I have to get off my arse and re-balance the washer that’s trying to walk out of my basement and declutter the toys that have mated and spawned thousands more toys. To be a good queen, I have to get off the throne. As soon as I let my kingdom be run by my Me-Monster, everything goes downhill fast. Because, let’s face it, if I had my own way, I would sit on my couch and read all day, someone else would take care of this child and deliver her to me when she was amusing (and potty trained) and take her away when she was crabby, I would eat only carbs prepared for me by my minions and I would be famous. (and thin.) I would also not be subject to red lights or speed limits, and all would flock to me for my advice that I’ve totally read on the internet somewhere. Also, it would be warm with no snow. Now, this sounds ridiculous, but for reals, there is a part of this that is truthful. And when I’m living with myself on the throne with my own desires at the forefront, I’m a crabby person. Things that get in my way are met with frustration and anger.
(I realize that there are people out there that ARE NOT wired up like I am. God bless you, but I am SELFISH and it is a struggle, and I’m sure you struggle with something completely different. Write a blog about it, I’ll totally read it.)
C.S. Lewis put it this way, “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to “inject” His kind of life and thought into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.” Only with Christ can I give up my grip on being first, admired, even respected. Only with Christ can I get over myself when I’ve spent too much time on Facebook looking at other people who I imagine to be happier, more beautiful, with better clothes than myself. Only with him on the throne and me off, can I meet my daughter, my husband, my parents, my friends, my youth kids needs with grace and open hands…not these cold reluctant gifts that are pried from me or done resentfully.
What does this have to do with Spirespire or writing or anything?
Nothing. Okay, just kidding, there is a tie. With my writing, I am trying to expand my “kingdom” into another realm. I want to matter in the publishing world, I want to matter to readers, for heaven sake’s, I dream of mattering like JK Rowling who got a word she coined into the dictionary and changed the face of children’s publishing.
I haven’t written much and I find myself dreaming of abandoning my quest for a bigger kingdom (and more responsibilities) and just focusing on my little spheres I have around me. Here’s what I’m coming too. I need to stop worrying about getting published. The more I read about how awesome my platform needs to be, and how much I need to be updating my twitter and how many followers I need to have before a publisher will look at me is freaking me out and making my stomach knot up. It has the stench of the whole “convince people you’re worth it” vibe that emanates from every Jersey Shore episode. Instead, as counter-cultural as it is in the world of publishing today, I think I just need to act as a servant to my story. I need to focus on amusing, lightening and entertaining the people that already think I’m worth it. If others get on board, rock on. I think I’ll LIKE writing again.
So, here you have it. Chapter one in its entirety. Ya’ll are so kind to be sticking around and reading the blogs and following people’s stories that it’s ridiculous for me to be telling you about what I’m writing and not showing it to you. I’ve included the beginning that I’ve already posted because it’s been so long since I’ve put it up, you can always skip to page six. Chapter two will be posted next week. The work is copyrighted, not that anyone will be silly enough to steal it.
It’s a first draft, so excuse any inanity or typos... but I hope its fun for you to read. Feel free to edit, give suggestions, or point out things that are confusing. I hope you like it.
Have a good day!------------To read Shay's posts from the beginning, click here.
What a week! From Monday until today, I was either rehearsing or performing for my school’s Variety Show. The interesting thing about this performance is that in all honesty, I play it more for me than for the audience. The whole point of it is to entertain. In a school where probably less than 200 of over 4000 students listen to the type of music I write and listen to, it would be stupid to try to win them all over with just one song. So instead, all my cohorts and I (Jessie on Vocals, Connor on guitar, Dominic on guitar, Darien on drums) tried to do was be as crazy as possible while putting on a good rendition of my song, Divide.
So now that my 3-week stint of nonstop business is over, I can now focus back on writing and arranging songs. Will Sturgeon
actually sent me his bass part, but it was unmixed. Normally this would be fine, I could just mix it myself and be done with this song. However, due to the 58 tracks inside my recording program, my computer no longer runs that song. I need to either update my processor or wait for Will to find time in his collegiate life to mix it himself. Either is going to take some time, so meanwhile I’m going to begin work on something really fun. My rap.
So now that my 3-week stint of nonstop business is over, I can now focus back on writing and arranging songs. Will Sturgeon actually sent me his bass part, but it was unmixed. Normally this would be fine, I could just mix it myself and be done with this song. However, due to the 58 tracks inside my recording program, my computer no longer runs that song. I need to either update my processor or wait for Will to find time in his collegiate life to mix it himself. Either is going to take some time, so meanwhile I’m going to begin work on something really fun. My rap.
The interesting thing about my Spire goal is that it has almost shifted its focus more to the sub goals I laid out. At the moment, I’m more preoccupied with putting out a record in order to garner the attention from the bands that I love as opposed to just trying to seek them out with old material. The quandary with this though is that because I’ve taken such a rapid step in a new direction musically that in my opinion, there’s not really connective tissue between songs. I’ve had so many ideas that the past 3 songs I’ve written don’t really jive together at all. Between the latest idea of rapping, an orchestral song like divide, an ethereal and dynamic song like Reservation Blankets, and the last song I wrote with Stu, I feel like my album is going to be this odd collective of songs with related reflection but unrelated music.
I can at least take solace in the fact that some other albums I love, such as Writers Block by Peter Bjorn and John
, don’t really seem to have a genre specific focus either. The only thing to connect them together is the lyrics, production, and performance; not to mention the nuances an artist gains over time that is unique only to them. One of my biggest hopes musically is to be recognized by other people as an artist, not just a high schooler who tries to play music. I was told by members of Arco Bandera, as well as a close friend of mine and of the band’s that they can always recognize small details in a song that have my fingerprints on them. I have no idea what they’re talking about, because I try to make each song unique, but apparently the nuances that I spoke about in regards to the PB&J album are consistently showing up in my music as well. And I couldn’t be more thrilled! That’s one thing that makes me feel more validated as an artist.
Beyond that sentiment though, all I want to do is keep writing. So that’s the goal for the week. Now that I’ve got some time, I’m going to begin work on my rap. And don’t worry guys; I’m not going to shift to Drake anytime soon.
-ChristianTo read more of Christian's story from the beginning, click here
This week for me was all about feeding my artistic soul. I am half tempted to insert some sort of Trueblood or vampire reference in here to be culturally cool and hip, but the truth is I never was able to jump on the vampire bandwagon..and I am pretty sure using words like “hip” immediately eliminated any chance I had at being “part of the plastics”(for those of you who don't know that reference we might not be able to be friends..even over the internet). However, back to feeding the soul. It reminds me of those inspirational books- “Chicken Soup for the- fill-in-the-blank soul”.... “Chicken soup for the TEEN soul”..”Chicken Soup for the DAUGHTER'S soul”... “Chicken Soup for The-GIRL-WITH-AN-EXTRA-TOE soul”... yep no one was left out. I remember for summer reading programs as a child I would just check out every single one of those and skim through the book and pick my favorite stories then log that I had read the whole book so I could win prizes like bookmarks or clip-on night lights. It really is a shame I fudged my way through my reading requirements because in actuality I loved (and still do) to read. However, in the summertime I couldn't be bothered to do anything other than roll in the grass and feed my dog neon crayons so he's poop would conveniently glow at night games and me and my neighborhood friends would know where not to step. ANYHOW back to soul feeding. I went to visit Cincinnati today after almost a year since graduation. It worked out perfectly because I am currently finishing up a contract in Louisville, a mere hour and a half from the ol' alma mater, and a bestie of mine came into Louisville with the Mamma Mia tour he is on. Together we ventured to Cincy for a few hours in the afternoon to see friends, teachers, and retrieve stuff he had left in storage. Hilarity definitely ensued including a storage mix up, finding of old photos, and me having to pee in a laundry room sink in a dire situation where there was no bathroom available to me..no one was there but me and I am not proud of it, but I did what I had to do..you understand. No? Well, I will spare you anymore details on that AND I will spare you the paragraphs on how “old I felt” and “how weird it was to be back at school” but just know that it was. But it was also very nice to be in the building where my inner artist was nurtured (sometimes scolded or even strongly given a talkin' to) and to finally accept that I am now a “real world adult” and though I am not a student there anymore I can appreciate what I learned there. It also reminded me that I am still a student of the world and have so much I can learn...ooo...ahhh...but true.
As I mentioned, I am currently in Louisville, finishing up a run of a show of “Weekend Comedy” and it too has been delicious chicken soup for my little soul. Firstly, I got to work on a “straight” play-- for those of you who are “theater muggles” (I wish I could claim that as my own geniusness but I give full credit to my Louisville friends- you know who you are)--is a play without music. I usually am hired for work in musicals. So this was a nice break from the normal routine and a chance to use all the same tools, but in a different way. It was a four person play, so it was a very small cast experience in which I had a lot of alone time for reflection and personal growth...and to watch ALL seasons of “The Office” on netflix. It also helps that the show was very well received and performed to sold out audiences. Oh and I wore some beautiful 80's sweaters..beautiful is a loose term..but definitely giving you 80's.
Bottom line, this week I don't really have anything to literally present or show as far as progress. But I am feeling very artistically fulfilled and my time in Louisville has helped me prep for the writing of my own show. Alas, no genius title for the show has emerged-- woomp woomp. I haven't quite got my scheduling down with my pianist...woomp woomp...BUT I have been patient with myself this week.
So my wise words as I chomp down this delicious macaroni and cheese (nectar of the gods)... There's always next week. And in the mean time it feels good to be feeling good...do you know what I mean?
---------To read Lexie's story from the beginning, click here.
Hi there, Shay here. Remember when we were adding people into Spire?--well, it is my pleasure to introduce our final person on the Spire team! Woooooooooooooot! Let me introduce you to Matthew Silar. We're going to call him Matthew because that is the name his momma gave him and she's probably out there rejoicing somewhere AND we don't want anybody confused between the two Matts.
Matt is actually doing a mini-Spire, and is shooting to finish his goal by summer. It's a little bit of a delicate balance because the actual show has to be kept a secret until the "24 hour period", but the amount of work he has cut out for him is pretty enormous so I'm excited to read about how he gets there! Without further adieu...Matthew!
I am PSYCHED to join the SpireSpire team! Looks like I am jumping in pretty late in the game so let’s get right down to it. Let’s start off with some brutal honesty...
This is not the first time I have attempted to raise money for charity through a creative way. I have a long list of “creative” ideas to bring in the big bucks for a good cause. Starting from my lemonade stand days, I would say I come up with a new plan atleast once a year. So far, none have actually happened...besides the lemonade stand...One time I raised $30 for the Salvation Army at the age of 10! My long list includes the year I thought I would give up Christmas gifts, my winning idea of making Birthday cards for Jesus, and buying Christmas trees for financially troubled families. In case you can’t tell, Christmas is pretty great in my eyes.
Now, all of those ideas were fun and in good heartedness... but they were missing something. I look back on these past ideas and see that nothing excited me about them but the idea of having an idea at all. I would see these kids who are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars by sending pictures they draw to supporters and I wanted to make a difference like that.
The 24 Hour Musical project is different. Not only is this an idea to raise money, but it’s something legitimately in my grasp. I am surrounded by theatre and other theatre people every day of my life. This is not only something I will be able to get people excited about, but something I can grow from. I see this just as much as challenge as an artist as I see it as a chance to make a difference. That being said, allow me to briefly explain my plan...
Without revealing too much, I plan to organize a team and produce an entire 24 Hour Musical experience that will be performed this Summer. Basically, with a team, I will choose a show, hold auditions, cast, block, and choreograph a show. All decisions will be kept top secret until 24 hours before the performance. In that small time-period, we will build the show from the ground up with (hopefully) an awesome team and cast. People will be invited to attend the performance for no price other than the donation they feel lead to give. Throughout these blogs I plan to keep you updated on my checklist which is coming next week, introduce team members, the charity, and possibly give some hints on some of our secrets.
Whether you are a perfomer, a techie, a director, or hate musical theatre, I plan on finding a way for people to get involved on this project. At the very least, thank you for following my journey.
Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27
In the words of Peter Pan, “Here we goooo!”