Monday, January 23, 2012

Writer's Block

As a writer, there's nothing more daunting than a blank piece of paper staring you back in the face.  I'm currently sitting on the couch with a glass of red wine, gazing at my empty notebook, waiting for inspiration to come.  I cut off my fingernails and got out my old Martin guitar, feeling inspired to play and write.  I'm embarrassed to admit how long it's been.  In fact, my fingers have grown soft as a baby's bottom--no more traces of chord-playing callouses.

I brushed off a layer of dust, tuned up my strings and began to practice some of the chords I've known since I got my first guitar at age 9.  And then.....nothing.  Why can't I think of anything to write about?  I'm a writer, for crying out loud!  I do this for a living.

I've had a love of country music for as long as I can remember.  I grew up listening to women lament about lost loves and broken hearts long before I had the mental capacity to grasp such a concept as a mere child.  While I've (thankfully) never experienced divorce or abusive relationships, I find that my lack of "hard living" puts serious limitations on my wealth of songwriting material.

There's a joke in country music that goes like this..."What do you get when you play a country song backward?  Your wife comes back to you, your dog comes back to life and your truck starts up again."  Everyone knows that country music is about heartache.  I think that's why I love it so much--because it tells a story.  Even if, after the song ends, you feel like you need a Prozac, it's still a great song--because it makes you feel what the singer/songwriter was trying to convey at the time it was written.  So there's tons of pressure to write a great song that makes people feel something.  Too bad I happen to be at a loss, thanks to the dreaded "writer's block."  That's why I'm currently writing a blog about having nothing to write about!

Sometimes when writer's block strikes, the best thing to do is walk away and come back to your writing later.  Well, it's been almost a week since I started writing this post and now all I have is short, ugly and unpainted fingernails--and still no new song.  I keep a notepad by my bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night and inspiration strikes.  Usually though, I find that songwriting ideas come to me at the most inopportune times, such as when I'm in the shower or driving to work.  So if you see me on the highway and my car swerves a bit into the next lane, not to worry--I'm probably just in the middle of jotting down a line or two that suddenly popped into my head before I forget it......either that, or I'm responding to a quick text message.  (Just kidding, Mom--kind of).   ; )

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shamed by a Name

There are certain things I believe celebrities simply should NOT be allowed to do.  One is name their children.  I mean, come on--kids have a hard enough tough time growing up this day and age as it is.  Of course, being bulleyed and teased for your hand-me-down clothing and bowl-cut hairstyle are practically rites of passage.  We all must endure the ridicule at some point and, as a result, come out on the other side stronger individuals for it.  However, getting your you-know-what kicked on the playground as a result of your parents' thoughtless decision and attempt at uniqueness is just downright ridiculous and totally unnecessary.

Just last week, Beyonce and Jay Z's daughter's name was released by the media--Blue Ivy.  It got me to thinking...why do celebrities feel the need to torture their children?  I started a running mental list of all the atrocious names I've heard come out of Hollywood.  First, there was Rumer.  Then came Apple and Moses, Jermajesty, Blanket, Huckleberry, Pilot Inspektor, Coco, Phineus, Moroccan and Bear Blu....and the list sadly goes on and on. 

When I was growing up, the name Cassie was unheard of, and I thought I had it bad going through life with a name that no one could pronounce.  Seriously--if I had nickel for everytime someone called me Casey, I'd be retired by now.  Apparently, Hooked on Phonics didn't work for the majority of the population.  Even my college professors couldn't get it right! 

Most of the time, I don't even bother correcting people when they butcher my name--I pretty much answer to anything.  I've had many a phone conversation answering to Cathy Phillips as though I speak with a "lithp."  As irritating as the mispronunciation of my name is and the fact that I rarely find trinkets in gift shops with my monogram, I guess it could be worse.  I could have famous parents and, as a result, be named after a fruit or household item.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Project $$$hopping

I've recently become obsessed with the TV show Project Runway.  In fact, I just purchased Tim Gunn's book about fashion and style.  While I appreciate his charming wit and onscreen "make it work" pep talks, I have cause to wonder what makes a person qualified to ascertain what is and is not fashionable.  Fashion is art--there is no right or wrong answer to the question...only the guts to claim it, wear it and work it, girl!  An outfit deemed stylish by one person can make others do a double take (and NOT in a good way) as the wearer passes by causing onlookers to wonder if that person in fact, owns mirrors in his/her home.  I believe I have seen some of said outfits on the show's models.

Now I think of myself as a somewhat fashionable individual--at least, I try to be.  I am fascinated by all things related to fashion, cosmetics, and of course--SHOES!  I've been employed in the fashion industry for a good part of my post-college career, and I've learned a great deal of fashion industry-related terms that the "lay-woman" probably has never even heard of.  Even though my degree is not in fashion merchandising, it's very interesting to me.  As a result, my style has definitely changed over the years.  I can honestly say I am a recent convert to skinny jeans (much to my sister-in-law's horror).  I used to think the only person they belonged on was Audrey Hepburn; however, as my shoe collection grew, so did my desire to show off my fancy, new stilettos.  Thus, the skinny-jean-wearing began.  I also have stacks upon stacks of wedge sandals piled up in my closet.  I used to HATE them and then one day I decided I was wrong--they are absolutely adorable!  It really is amazing to look at old photos and see how fashion has transformed over the decades.  Some things are still classic while others came and went...but not soon enough (hello, 1980's--arguably the WORST fashion era known to mankind).  In any case, fashion constantly is evolving and even sometimes is recyclable.  Only now, it's "vintage"--and more expensive!  

In order to (as Steel Magnolias' Truvy would say), "stay abreast of the latest styles," I spend hours parked in front of the TV each week to watch Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum spout off their blunt opinions of the garments the wannabe designers of today have crafted and sent down the runway on tall, gorgeous, (and emaciated) models.  Sometimes I agree with their candid remarks, but oftentimes, I'm stunned at the near verbal abuse of what comes out of their mouths.  I have to say this...Michael Kors, you make great clothes, but my God, your Lifetime Achievement Award does NOT make you the end-all of the fashion world!  (Sorry, had to get that off my chest).  I never know what the judges are going to say.  Even Tim Gunn, who has amazing foresight into what the judges like and dislike, is not always on the same page as Michael, Nina and Heidi.

The beauty of this show is the subjectivity.  While many times, I would never wear what clothing the designers made, other times, I think to myself, "I have got to learn how to sew!"  It would be awesome if I could design my own wardrobe out of scraps of fabric.  The truth of the matter is, I cannot sew...not even a little bit.  I can't even sew a button on a shirt.  There are a few select pieces in my wardrobe that I have "repaired" over the years with a needle and thread, but to see the stitch work would only solidify my point that I am NOT a fashion designer.

Since I crave the stylish pieces that my nonexistent sewing machine could never produce, I must turn to shopping.  I.  LOVE.  TO.  SHOP!!!!  So the result of my Project Runway viewing has become Project Decrease My Bank Account.  Some may find my obsession to be a mere display of profligacy (Jeremy), but to me, it's all worth it.  I may not have a practical time and place to wear those fabulous dresses and ridiculously tall, uncomfortable (but killer!) shoes, but I WILL look stylish if and when I do!  Because Truvy also said, "There's no such thing as natural beauty."

If someone out there reading this is well versed in sewing, I'd love to try and learn a new skill, but until then, I'm off to the mall......