I’ve had this idea for several years now (because that’s my rule with a tattoo) and I finally had it come to fruition. I like seeing my New Mexico state outline and Zia sun on my arm when I play guitar, and so I thought…why not add a little more of home to the mix? The thing you think about when you think about New Mexico is adobe and blue sky. We’re really good at that. I wanted to have a little bit transferred to my arm, so even when I’m walking around big scary Los Angeles, I know where I come from.

I knew the color work had to be stunning to pull this off, since we’re dealing with two main colors and one is similar to my skin tone. After hunting for months, I finally found Zulu. Interestingly, he is based in L.A. but is moving his business to Austin, so he spends a lot of time here now. His portfolio is amazing, and I knew he was The Dude. (Also, his life story is fascinating…read this NPR article about him!)

I took my friend Katie along for moral support and documentation, and it took about 2.5 hours from start to finish.

The outline and placement test:

Zulu used a few photos I had taken but adapted the buildings into something that doesn’t exist in real life, so I didn’t get an actual landmark tattooed on my arm.

The finished work:

The artist and the recipient!

I am so relieved it’s December, which is not usually a statement I utter. November was such a whirlwind of awesome (see below) and other stuff (flat tires, moving, broken laptop) that surviving it was a feat. Things will calm down in December, though there is plenty to do.

Susan is mixing her live album right now and that comes out in February. I am so excited for it – it sounds amazing and plotting how to promote these things is always a good time. Here we are listening to mixes whilst driving. Road tested, you would say.

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Dan is mixing my EP…we might have a close to final mix on one song, more to follow. I’m glad my part is done for the time being. Artwork is on deck next…I’ve collected a Pinterest board of ideas for Emily to look at and I imagine we’ll start that this month sometime.

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I got to go home to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving and we ate a lot of kolaches and pie like the Czechs we are.

Kolaches

Happy holiday season, everyone!

jpokick

First things first…I am Kickstartering my new EP and it is officially LAUNCHED! Let me take a moment to say: “AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

It feels good to get that out because I had a heck of a time wrapping my brain around it. Kickstarter is a wonderful resource for musicians. Basically, for an indie artist (i.e. not backed by major label money), the typical way of making a record is paying up front for everything, either out of pocket or putting things on lots of credit cards. The producer needs to get paid, the mixer, the mastering engineer, the graphic artist for the artwork, the company who prints the physical CDs…all of those people need to be paid. The artist would then hope and pray their sales after the release would make up for the cost and then some.

It’s a model that works but…it’s stressful. Along came Kickstarter and shifted the paradigm. Now artists can ask their community for support before the album is made, so that the expense is not so mind-blowing up front. There’s also the awesome component of bonuses for backers, so the artist can customize packages and offer really unique stuff as a thank you. Yay!

So I’ll say upfront, I was so nervous about making my own video talking about the project. I have made lots of funny and clever things in the past, many of them with Susan Gibson or Elizabeth Wills, or just because I was messing around. Whatever it was, the pressure of attaching it to a piece of art I was working on, or the fact that I grew up Midwestern and Midwesterners are sometimes (SOME OF US) bad about asking for help (but we will ALWAYS bring something to the potluck)…I was having a heck of a time with my video. I mulled it over for MONTHS. I did a draft and I sent it around to a few trusted people (THANK YOU Amy, Anna, Susan, and Heather!). The feedback came back…”Hey, you can do better.” AUGH.

At which point I reverted to 6th grader fist clenching defiance and yelled (to no one except my Lady Gaga poster) “I DON’T WANNA!” But I knew they were right. I could do better, and I needed help. (Thank you Heather…she’s done it before so she’s a Kickstarter pro and also tells me what’s what).

I went over to Susan’s house, mostly to whine and eat brownies, and Susan is awesome and offered to help (she also provided aforementioned brownies). We made a date to meet the next day and do the video. And we did, and it made such a difference to have a friend to help.

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This is the A Team!

It made sense. It always makes a difference to have a buddy to help. Whether it’s making a video, making an album (I couldn’t do anything on the level of what this is going to sound like without Dan), or gathering a whole group of supporters to make this thing happen with joy and humor and good intentions. As stoic and self-reliant as I’d like to be, I’m no island…and it is absolutely okay to ask and receive help. That’s kind of what making it through life on this planet is about.

So here I am, asking that if you dig the music or the blog or the videos or all of it…pre-order this new album. It’s gonna rawk, and I want you to be in on it. I really appreciate it! Be a backer here!

I am starting this post a month in advance in hopes that my foresight will allow a well-thought out treatise on my entrance into my next decade of living.  What will probably happen is that I’ll put this off until the night before, but regardless…here we go.

…and immediately I stalled and wandered away from this post. Now it’s…the day before my birthday, and I decided that I need to frame this as a “What Do I Want My Nieces and Nephews To Know?” post.

Look
Time to look smart, put on your glasses!

You see, I was what they term a “Surprise! Baby.” I am not that much older than my nieces and nephews, and I am quite a bit younger than my siblings. We all get along. I call this a fortuitous circumstance. Some of them are in high school, some in college, some are on the beginning stages of their work and family lives. What do I want to tell them? Oh, some of them read this blog. WHAT DO I WANT TO TELL YOU GUYS?

In no order:

Read all the time. When I got out of college I was so DONE with reading, because I had so much to read for class. It took me a few years, but I discovered there were plenty of interesting reads out there that I would not be tested on. Read fiction, read non-fiction, read current events, read magazines, read blogs…everything. Every interview I have read with a successful businessperson or politician has stated that absorbing information is a key source of success. I believe this applies to all facets of life.

If you have a passion to do something, do it.
You’ll figure it out. Do it on the side of your day job or make it into your day job, either one. Whatever makes sense. Don’t let the nagging desire to do/be something sit there for too long, or it starts eating away at you. I told my 7th grade teacher I wanted to be a guitarist and he said guitarists don’t make any money. Last week I made $100 for playing guitar and I got paid for traveling and working with musicians I love. Sorry, Mr. V…wrong answer.

The way to get a job is to network and connect. There are postings for 1000’s of jobs online and tens of thousands of people apply for them. You might get hired that way, for sure. The odds are higher, though, that someone you meet will hook you up with something good if you announce what you want to everyone you know. Make it a practice to introduce people to each other, too…this keeps the wheel going around.

Eat well. At some point you’ll start to be curious about where your food comes from and how its source affects your body. I’m no vegan, but I tried it for a while and I’m glad. Experiment a lot with new foods from different cultures. Learn to cook. Read about what it means to eat meat, dairy, organic, non-organic, etc. I don’t have a Food Path for you to follow, but just be educated on all aspects of the fuel you put in your body, even if it’s a Twinkie (ack).

Boxes Schmoxes. Fitting into some sort of box…how I *think* I should be, has been the cause of a great deal of stress and worry in my 20’s, as with most people I imagine. Nothing terrible but perhaps a lot of time wasted worrying about unchangeable things or insignificant things.  I have heard this might let up in my 30’s, and perhaps that suggestion has brought about a sense of relief. Bring it on, and stop worrying so much.

Have fun for goodness’ sake! Sometimes a Puritan value and work ethic set in, and we get into the groove that “work” and “responsibility” are separate from “fun,” which is just a happy bonus that happens sometimes. I call bull. There’s too much to enjoy around this planet to not have fun, and if you work hard (there is space for that work ethic thing for sure), you will find that place where “ability to feed yourself” meets your calling, and that is a fun thing to know. Do it.

I’m sure this list will grow, but simple is good. Feel free to add your additions in the comments!

Jana and the Nieces at Pike Place Market
Some of the amazing nieces I have…y’all better read this.

Pretty thrilled to be in my home state of New Mexico for almost a whole week. We have spent three days in Albuquerque and head to Taos and Red River this week. The weather is sublime considering there is no humidity and it’s under 100 degrees. I am having to drink water like a camel, though.

New Mexico Sky

The road to Santa Fe.

Golden Pride Tortillas

Tortillas off the conveyer at Golden Pride.

Susan and Jamie

Jamie and Susan at Solid Grounds in Albuquerque.

Ristra

A ristra by the merch in Santa Fe.

Boys

Cute boys I claim as my nephews!

Public Market

I spent a few days in the great Pacific Northwest last week because my lovely niece, Heather, graduated from high school and my awesome nephew, Philip, graduated from 8th grade. Lots of parties!

Congrats Grad!

We also got some sight-seeing in and went to the Pacific Science Center to see the Tutankhamun and the Great Pharaohs exhibit from Cairo. WOW.

Death Mask: Psusennes I

I used to want to be an Egyptologist and then I realized most of the fancy gold stuff had been found already and what was left was a lot of digging for rocks in the desert, so I changed that plan. I am still fascinated by the history and as always…I love looking at old things that were here long before I was and will be around for longer than I can imagine.

Canopic Container - King Tut Exhibit
This is where they kept Tut’s stomach when they embalmed him!

Pike Place Market

No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market. It’s really one of the few places where honey, jam, fish, and fruit can hold my attention for an extended period of time…everything here is fresh picked and caught and it’s a fun energy.

Now it’s back in hot Austin but thankfully…there’s rain a’comin’!

I’ll be straight up, I’ve found out that while touring is fun, meeting new people all the time or just getting reacquainted with folks I don’t know well anyway wears me out. I got to see a niece of mine in Montana on a fluke collision of travel courses, and then I saw my sister and her family in Seattle, including 4 of my nieces and nephews. It was a good check-in.

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