All right, y’all. I’m blogging about this because I NEVER remember my dreams. For all I know I’m a freak of nature who doesn’t dream…though I know we all do, I just hardly ever remember them except for maybe twice a year when they’re super traumatic and I’m being chased by an axe wielding Teddy Ruxpin or something weird like that.

Anyway, I woke up with such a vivid picture in my head of what I dreamed last night and it was so positively cool that I figured it was time to pull my blog-about-a-dream card.

Imagine if you will: I am wandering around a store with lots of cool knick-knacky things, wondering where I am…when I realize I’m actually in a book store in the one area where they don’t have books, which admit it…is sometimes the most fun part. As I venture past the corner I notice a long line of people and then, oh…Hillary Rodham Clinton. My powers of deduction tell me she’s doing a signing, and my need to meet famous people tells me I need to buy a book.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sadly this bookstore is apparently way under-prepared for someone like Hillary because they’re out of books. I take this as a sign to just wander up to the front of the line (apparently I have no societal rule-following tendencies in my dream), step around the podium and say hello.

As would obviously happen in real life, Hillary is happy to immediately stop signing books for the masses and step aside to talk to me. She also starts shaking my hand and never lets go. The whole time we’re talking (which was probably in dream land…10 minutes), she does not let go of my hand. The awkward thing is that we were walking around, but we were not holding hands…we were in “hand shaking” mode the whole time, which now that I think of it, probably looked like some weird Mennonite folk dance but THIS IS A DREAM, PEOPLE.

So we’re standing there, Hillary is talking to me and shaking my hand, and we look up and there is a poster for MGM Studios in Hollywood. At this point I realize we had been talking about me making movies (because when I meet one of the most powerful people in the world, I’m going to talk about ME), and Hillary says still forcefully shaking my hand, “You MUST go to Hollywood and work at MGM.”

I don’t even know if MGM still exists or what I’d do there, but at this point in my dream I realize my hand is sweaty from all that shaking and I’m more aghast that I may have made the Secretary of State’s own hand sweaty by association, so I try to gently withdraw. She is not having it and keeps a tight grip.

I figure now is a good time to…ask about foreign policy? No. Tell her about my EP of course (it’s called For & Against and you can buy it right here). I don’t have any because I am a horrible promoter (unless I’m talking to Hillary, apparently) and I promise to mail her one.

Then my alarm went off. I assume she went back to signing books for the plebeians in line after letting go of my hand.  I awoke refreshed and ready to go to Hollywood.

“WHAT LESSONS CAN YOU GET FROM THIS, JANA?” you ask? Good question because there has to be a point.

• Defy the norms to get ahead.

Imagine what a lame dream it would have been if I either decided no books left equals no autograph, or to just wait in line like everyone else. I probably would have woken up out of boredom from standing in line.  Take a risk.

• Tell people what you do and don’t be shy about it.

For real, I KNOW what Hillary does. She didn’t know what I was all about so I told her. I am much more assertive in dreamland than the real world, but I need to try this out more and tell people what projects I have in the works. Since Hillary learned I was into making films and a musician, I’m pretty sure my next dream will entail me being her personal documentarian and playing the Christmas show at the Clinton Presidential Library or something.

• Ask mentors and more experienced people for advice.

Asking smart, powerful people for advice is two-fold in benefits because most likely they will give you good advice, but it’s also a roundabout way of networking. You ask Hillary for advice about working for MGM one day, next thing you know she’s hooking you up with her friend at the State Department who needs to go camera shopping and BOOM!, you’re a consultant (note: I do not know what they do at the State Department when they need new gear but I assume they don’t need me to help them shop for it).

• Have a firm handshake.

She had a really firm handshake. Maybe not for 10 minutes, but don’t be weak about it.

So thanks, Hillary. I got your book a while ago and it’s been on my list but now it has moved to the top of the stack. I look forward to it.  If you ever need a folk singer or a documentarian, call me!

Maria Bamford

I have had a favorite comedian forever and her name is Maria Bamford. I have never seen a live comedy show (certainly not a professional one, anyway) before…and when I saw Maria Bamford was coming to Austin and I was going to be in town I jumped on it.

She is right up my alley because she does an enormous range of voices and characters…some impersonations but mostly she has an incredible way of embodying 3 – 4 people at a time, so that she can tell a full on story with everyone’s voice involved. She can relate to us a 4-way conversation between herself, her father, mother, and sister…and you never get lost and you always know who is talking. This is hard.

Maria Bamford

I stole this photo from someone’s blog because I was too chicken to take photos. Now I can’t remember who I stole it from. Shhhh.

She’s also great with accents, another thing I am very fond of in a comedian. (I think I am supposed to say comedienne but it makes me twitch a little for some reason).

The show was at Cap City Comedy Club and Katie went with me. Perhaps we peaked with seeing someone as cool as Maria, but I think live comedy might just be the cure for what ails all of us. I had a smile on my face for 2 hours straight and was full on crying/laughing for a big chunk of that time as well.  It was a great endorphin rush and my face hurt all night.

Here is Maria in action…go see her live!

Ok.  I am finally to a point in my existence where I will admit this.  It’s a long passed phase but I found this stuff the other day and I decided it is blog-worthy.  As a kid, I collected autographs.  Since I lived in New Mexico and was 12, I had little access to real life celebrities, so I wrote them fan mail and asked for their signatures.

I was already an internet fiend by then, so I became a member of a few autograph collecting message boards (remember those?) and even a Usenet group.  I learned some tactics from those groups that actually…really worked.  I built a random but cool collection.

My choices of who I wrote to were narrowed down by these parameters in my 12 – 15 year old mind:

1. I liked country music
2. I liked songwriters
3. I liked Alfred Hitchcock movies

I know.  I was THAT kid.  So anyway, my collection veered heavily toward these categories with some random other celebrities thrown in.  I present a tiny window into what I collected, broken down by tactic of obtaining them.  You’d be surprised what worked and what didn’t…sending a fan letter to the agent or fan club was usually a waste of time.  Read on:

Hand Tracing

I got a lot of famous people to trace their hands and sign them for me.  It might have been the thing that made my hobby so successful.  ANYONE can beg for a signed photo.  Who asks for a hand tracing?  It also might have had something to do with my charming ways of 13-year old fan letter writing, but I like to think the odd request got people’s attention.

Kenny Chesney Signature

Kenny Chesney – who was the chart king back then.

Gloria Estefan Signature

Gloria Estefan…who was my first concert ever.

Martina McBride Signature

Martina McBride and her tiny hand.

Joan Baez Signature

Joan Baez – folkie.  Check!

Venue Mail

This trick entails looking at the artist’s tour schedule, picking a venue, and sending your autograph request there.  The theory is instead of piling up on the agent’s desk, the mail will be handed to the artist/their entourage at the venue, and it won’t be in a giant mass of mail because…this was a little known tactic except to collectors.  It worked for some doozies.

Dixie Chicks Signatures
The Dixie Chicks

Sting Signature

Natalie Merchant Drawing

Natalie Merchant delivered by far the most interesting signature.  She was playing in Portland, and I got my letter back not with a hand tracing but with a doodle…and a Taxi business card from Portland…and a leaf.  Yep, Natalie Merchant sent me a leaf.

Have Weird Things Signed

The last technique was to send something cool to get signed.  I got this First Day Cover (stamp collector nerd alert!) back from Janet Leigh.  Cue Psycho shower scene music here.

Janet Leigh Signature

Nowadays I don’t even really collect autographs.  Sometimes I get a CD signed at a show, usually not.  I think I burned out all my fascination for celebrity ink on paper by age 16.  But the Natalie Merchant leaf is still cool.

I kept waiting for someone to do this, and no one had picked up on the hilarity of this “Sh*t People Say” meme and how singer-songwriters are pretty stereotypical sometimes. So I did it.

It’s going mini-viral, which in my world equates to 1600 hits in 2 days. That’s not bad. Better than I’ve ever had on a video before.

I maintain that I can mock because…I’ve done every single one of these things.

two guitars

To get really specific: a Female Singer-Songwriter from the 80’s/90’s.

– Make a really angry, unsure, shaky album with too much reverb and perhaps out of tune instruments that shows promise and gains a group of college-aged hipster fans. Perhaps recorded outside or in a basement.

– Make better album that is actually called the debut because first album was just a demo made in a basement/outside. Release to wild acclaim. Next big thing! Next Joni! Next Ani! Next Joan Baez crossed with PJ Harvey!

– Sophomore slump. Not as good as first. What happened?

– Third album. Growth shown. Maturity rising. “Solid effort,” says some reviewer.

– Fourth album – Sixth albums. Continue rise to maturity, write about big life events like that one long term relationship. Maybe have children and write about how happiness did not exist until children. And/or get really good about writing about loneliness. Wear hats. (“Holiday” album may appear in this time period but does not count toward total album count*).

– Seventh + Eighth albums. Decide the world is not all about “me, myself, I” and start writing “modern protest songs.” Stop caring about rhyming so much, to the point that some lines are just complete sentences sung over music. Incorporate jazz chord progressions as well as African and other “world beat” influences because folk songs are so 1995. Wear colorful hats.

– Eighth+ album. Return to roots with a “rootsy Americana album”, proudly making it a big deal without decrying decision to “go global and political” for the last two. Join Americana Association. Give keynote address somewhere about how business has changed. Embrace natural hair color. Ditch hats. Duet with old rock stars. Move to mountains/farm/cabin from LA/NYC/Austin.

*Thank you Nancy Jane.

Over Christmas I became obsessed with Better Off Ted – the show that was cancelled after two seasons. It’s like The Office crossed with Arrested Development. It makes me laugh out loud, especially these fake commercials for the fake company in the show. Here’s one of them:

Susan charged me with making some like-minded commercials for her record label, ForTheRecords. She didn’t have to tell me twice.