Songwriting Retreat: Finding My Harmonies

So I’ve written songs for a while now (like 15 years?) and last year, after I graduated college (you know, the “responsible” big-kid thing), I thought I’d explore more of the songwriting world. I don’t know how I found Judy Stakee, but she’s a sort of songwriting mentor and I started following her on Facebook. She does about 6 songwriting retreats a year where she takes some songwriters and teaches them her methodology and about the business and has them co-write and offers song critiques and the whole she-bang.

So before I left for China last year, I was a Broke Kid and couldn’t afford it. But then, in February, while I was an even more Broke Kid who couldn’t afford it, I saw the ads again and thought it would be cool. However, there was an application process, and I didn’t think I had much of a chance. But does that mean I don’t try at all? No! It just means I don’t try very hard. So I’m in bed at like 11pm watching something on Netflix and filling out this application, attaching poorly recorded SoundCloud songs, only half believing in myself.

But guess who got accepted (!!!) and then opened a credit card to help cover the cost? This Broke Kid! (so yeah, I’m still trying to pay that off, if anyone wants to find me job… that would be real helpful.)

The decision to attend wasn’t an easy one, as I didn’t have the funds or the slightest idea of what to expect. I also had a massive episode of self doubt when I found that my resume and accomplishments as a songwriter were, like, zero compared to many of the other people going. But my commitment to doing something new every week this year (and making at least some of those things cool) was strong. And it pushed me to do this.

And I thought that going to a songwriting retreat would be my new thing, but I actually did so many new things because of it.

New Thing Number One: Be in NASHVILLE

I flew in on Saturday night, so that counts as my new thing for week 11. But I’d never been there! And i was immediately smitten.

New Thing Number Two: Spend Sunday Morning in a Bar

Yep, that was new. At least the band sang Maren Morris’s “My Church”?

One of the girls also attending the retreat (Molly Adele Brown, look her up on the streaming sites and/or instagram) was SO kind and offered to let me stay the night at her apartment (because it was cheaper to fly in the night before than morning of) and she plays with a band every Sunday morning at this bar on Broadway, so I got to check that out. It was St. Patrick’s Day and so… yeah, you guessed it, random dudes in leprechaun geddup all up on the dance floor.

New Thing Number Three: Do a Handstand 

[This is just a photo of the beautiful property because I was a little too preoccupied to selfie while upside down.]

So Judy has this three-part methodology and the first is that you take care of your body to take care of your voice. Sounds reasonable, right? So we did yoga first thing every morning. And I know you’ll hear from every single person that no matter what business you’re in, to be healthy and successful, you gotta wake up early and get stuff done. But just once I would like to be told that the secret to a successful life is having a really wack sleep schedule that doesn’t involve waking up early, because that would really offer me some hope.

Anyway, Judy invited everyone to do a handstand because apparently it helps with confidence or somethin wild. So I, having this philosophy of trying new things, decided to jump on that (don’t worry, there were two spotters). At first, I was feeling a little like I would pass on the invite because I do not have the “I do yoga and handstands” body type ifyouknowwhatimsayin, but like… you miss out on so much of life if you limit yourself because of your body insecurities. So I went to the front of the room and, of course, it’s always comforting to hear your second spotter ask for a third spotter… but then I went up into a handstand and it was actually really cool. And everyone was really shocked for some reason, probably because they didn’t expect a fat girl to be able to hold herself upside-down. And don’t get me wrong… it definitely hurt my wrists, but… I’m kinda strong and stuff.

So moral of the story: Accept the third spotter. Defy expectations. Shake out your wrists.

New Thing Number Four: Co-Write Songs

[almost everyone I wrote with it pictured here but one isn’t 😦 also one who didn’t write with is but 🤷‍♀️]

I have written nearly 100 songs and none of them were ever written with another person. And then bam, three days in a row, three different co-writes. And it was a completely new experience, especially considering that my process and most other people’s processes are not the same at all.

The first day, everybody had to write down a sentence that could be the opening line of a song (so basically, any sentence). Then, we put them all in a hat, each person chose a line, and in groups of three, we determined which one we wanted to use to make our song. I could not come up with anything, and everybody had put their lines in, and my phone vibrated, so I wrote down “my phone just buzzed again, but it was probably just an email.” And the group that pulled my line chose it! And they did a great job, A+. Also, I was right, when I checked my phone again it was an email.

The line we chose was “I heard the rumble of the car come around the corner,” and we literally used half of our three hours to write discussing all of the possible songs we could write based on that line. We ended up writing about meeting a love interest from the internet in person for the first time. So that was actually my first time not writing according to my own experience. It was a hoot, though, I’d never come up with that kind of melody, but I like the way it turned out.

The second day, we had to write about what we liked most about ourselves, and then we got into groups and wrote a song about that. Our group’s song actually ended up turning into a song about vision boards, but honestly… it was beautiful. One of the girls in the group played the piano so well and the other girl just came up with this incredible melody on the spot, and within the first 5 minutes, we had this insanely gorgeous lyric-less song. Then we wrote the lyrics, and I have never written to melody before (I always do lyrics first OR them both at the same time), so that was hard. And I, again, wasn’t writing according to my own experience, so that was hard. So really, all I had to offer was a harmony. And the song was probably just as good without my harmony. But I’m still proud.

The third day, we had to write for film. And we had a ukulele player, a guitarist, an amazing vocalist, and me. So they, again, figured out the music and melody, while I worked out a harmony as my only offering. I mean, both of these times, I contributed to lyrics, but writing to melody and not according to my experience is very challenging for me, and I didn’t do much. But the song we wrote turned out so beautifully that I’ve been working on doing my own GarageBand arrangement of it for the past few days. It’s been great but it’s like staring at art until you hate it.

And I think that’s about it for my big time first times. I also had Nashville hot chicken for the first (and second) time. I did writer’s rounds for the first time. And I met Judy Stakee! Wonderful woman, wonderful retreat, all around a good time. Big success, worth the hundreds of dollars of debt, and now I’m confident to be a lot more obnoxious about the fact that I write songs.



Tyf’s Got Talent: AGT Audition

When I was a child, my siblings and I would watch American Idol auditions with Simon Cowell and we thought it was the funniest thing in the world when Simon gave his opinion. My brother said he really wanted to go audition and do a really bad job just so that he could get roasted by Simon.

Well, Grandma died, which is something unfortunate that happens with terminal cancer and old age, but can we just talk about her timing for a sec? Impeccable timing, that woman. The funeral was held in Southern California on Feb. 8, and you know what was happening in Los Angeles on the 9th?

America’s Got Talent auditions.

You know who judges AGT auditions?

Simon Cowell.

So I convinced my mom to extend our California stay for a few extra days and drive up there so I could have 90 seconds of (non) fame. And folks, I kid you not, we got to the venue around 3:45 and did not leave that convention center until well after dark.

So FAQs:

Q: How long did it take?

A: Literally 6 hours from parking the car to getting back in the car and leaving.

Q: Why did it take so long?

A: Well, you see, we got to the venue and there were security guards outside and a line. I had to use the bathroom extremely bad, and I saw the bathrooms from the windows, but they wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a wristband. So I was like “bruh, America’s gotta pee, where can that happen?” and I had to run all the way across the street to the mall before getting in line. Then, my mother decided she was hungry, so she crossed the street to a burger joint while I held our place in line and that was the time the line started moving.

So I’m texting and calling and texting and calling (later was told that my mom just sat and watched her phone ring and get messages without replying or picking up? what the heck, mom?) So the guy at the front of the line let me stick around at the front to wait for my mom. So many people passed us. The girl dressed like a devil accompanied by a bassist, the two little girls super decked out in glitter, the girl dressed like Elsa practicing “Let It Go.”

Finally my mother comes back and we go inside, go through security, and then wait in a line. This line loops around like six times and through two different rooms. Then we register, sign some papers, get a number, and go in the waiting room where the cameras are, take some pictures, wait for them to call my number. They also gave us these papers to fill out about our talent and what inspires us and what our dreams are and all that.

When they finally do call my number, it’s in group, and we all go into the next waiting room (considerably less cool than the first one). Then we wait, again, for them to call my number. When they do, it is again in a group, and we go to a different building where we sit outside an audition room and wait for our time to shine. This lady gave us this whole spiel about how we need to clear it with her before we leave after we audition so she can make sure all our paperwork is A-OK. (spoiler: I forgot to check in after my audition so hopefully all my paperwork was there. whoops. It was ten o’clock at night, I was starving and tired.)

While we were waiting, some jabroni with a guitar wearing a vest, snakeskin pants, and cheetah print shoes, came over and started hitting on the woman next to me. It was so uncomfortable, especially because she was into it. People actually do that? Yikes.

They took about six of us in the audition room at the same time and the judge called us up one at a time to do our thang. We each got ninety seconds. We each got zero feedback. And then we split and went to Taco Bell (not as a group, just my hungry self and my mother).

Q: Did you audition in front of Simon?

A: No, and I knew going into it that those judges don’t judge the initial auditions. I performed for some middle-aged balding man who could’ve literally been anyone. I don’t know his accomplishments or what qualifies him to be the only opinion that matters on my primary audition, but that’s out of my hands. He looked like he was ready to go home, to be completely honest.

Q: Did they give you any feedback?

A: No, it was a truly “thank u, next” situation (retail style, not Grande style)

Q: What were other talents you saw?

A: In line, I stood next to this girl who was a lyrical dancer and signed the words to the songs while dancing. I didn’t see her do it, but it sounds pretty sweet. In the waiting rooms, I saw people doing dances and gymnastic moves, ventriloquist routines, comedy sketches. Nothing out of the ordinary. Before you go audition, they split you up by act, so all the people I saw were other singers. There was this one other girl with her ukulele singing an original song, and she could’ve rivaled me. But she was ten years old, and her songwriting was typical for that of a ten year old. It was cute though. There was an Asian sitting next to me (amazing singer/guitar player) and he had a tatt behind his ear that said “b l e s s” and I wondered if he saw the one behind my ear and if he could read it…

Q: When will you hear back?

A: IF I hear back at all, it will be in about a month. And honestly, I’m not holding my breath. Baldie did not look impressed.

Q: What was your talent?

A: If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m a songwriter! So I sang one of my songs. I couldn’t fit a guitar on the plane, so I brought my uke. You can check me out on the SoundCloud.

How To Change Your Own Headlight

I figured Week 5 was time to fight the patriarchy, so I had my dad show me how to change my headlight.

Yes, that sentence was supposed to be ironic.

So I have a 2004 Honda Civic (if that means nothing to you, like it does to me, its just a little gray guy car named Grayson) and one of the headlights went out and my least favorite thing about life and living is spending money, so I thought I’d enlist the biggest car guy I know (aka my dad) to help me change it. This is what I learned from Pops (but mostly from YouTube.)

(Seriously though, if you’re reading this with the expectation of learning how to change your headlight, you should maybe just check YouTube, there are some actual geniuses out there)

  1. You have to take off the whole honkin front end to get the the stupid light. I thought I could just go under the hood, pop the plastic cover off, and replace the bulb. Oh contraire, mon frere. That whole sucker is coming off the car and it will not be fun getting there. To accomplish this, you must:
    1. Pop the hood. I actually don’t remember if this was necessary or just gave the illusion of something productive happening, but it was the first step.
    2. Unscrew approximately 4 screws. I don’t remember where they are, so good luck. At least two are underneath the car. We used a drill, you probably should too.
    3. Remove the screw substitute things. I’m searching Google to see what they’re actually called and the name coming up is “Car Plastic Push in Fastener Rivets Clips.” Seriously? Concision is not the tool department’s forte. Anyway, these were my nemeses, and I ended up having to destroy a few of them (one even with a drill) because of how stupid stubborn they were to remove. One even took a chunk of my knuckle skin :/

4. Gently remove the whole bumper area. At least I’m 80% sure it should be coming off at this point.

2. Remove some more screws. I think there are about two more, and one is really deep inside the bumper area, so you need to put, like, two extensions on the drill bit to reach it.

3. Remove the light cover. 

4. Replace the bulb. My dad says this is usually the time you make a trip to the store to get the right bulb replacement let me tell you, if I had to go to the store, I would go without the front end of my car because there is no way I would go through that all again. Luckily, my father has a lot of random things, extra headlight bulbs being one of them.

5. Steps 3-1, but reversed. Put the cover back on, screw the screws back in, replace the whole front end of the car, try to remember where all the clippy things go.

And that’s it. That’s how my dad I changed my headlight. If this was as wildly unhelpful as I’m sure it was, see YouTube for further and more accurate details.

Week 4: Strangers From The Internet

Another week, another first. Where do I turn for inspiration? The internet.

Remember the days of eighth grade health class where you learned all the horror stories of people who were kidnapped right out of their homes because they put their full name on the internet? So all our MySpace usernames were complete nonsense, like xXdAzInGsTaRgAzErXx or some garbage?? And how that’s not even an exaggeration?

Well times have changed. It’s now the age of literally summoning internet strangers for all our needs. Need a ride? Internet stranger with a car. Need food? Internet stranger who will bring you food. Need groceries delivered to your door? Another internet stranger. Need a date? Internet strangers galore.

I’ve never summoned an internet stranger for a date, but it sounded like it could be a cool “new thing to do.” Unfortunately, flirting with people I’ve never met is just not my strong suit, so I stopped entertaining that idea pretty quickly. However, Bumble is a dating app where dating is just one of the three categories of swiping. There’s Bumble Bizz (where you can network. Truthfully, I don’t know if anyone really gets a lot out of that feature, but it exists.) and there’s Bumble BFF where you can swipe on potential friends.

Honestly, swiping apps for friendship are not very common, so the possibility that someone (like my dad) would look over my shoulder and not even ask questions, just assume that I’m a lesbian, is very real. But honestly, a lesbian isn’t the worst thing I could be mistaken for. And the prospect of hanging out with girls that I don’t know outweighs the potential excitement of hanging out with guys I don’t know, because there’s an understanding with girls that I don’t owe them anything if they pay for my burrito, you know? Also, you don’t have to worry about being kidnapped and killed when you meet up with another girl… most of the time. Just girly things, I guess.

So one of the girls was super direct, she right off the bat said “let’s get coffee,” so I met her at Starbucks (where she ate Chipotle from next door instead of actually getting coffee) and we chatted. She was one of those super driven girls that has mentors and already owns her own house and wants to retire in her twenties and spend her life traveling. She actually said to me that she only allows herself to listen to music if she’s working out. So yeah, if I could have whatever she’s been drinking to get myself that motivated, I’d take a double shot of it.

The other meet up was a game night. One of the girls decided to invite a bunch of people she’d met on BumbleBFF over to her house for a game night and it was SO fun. Honestly, it was brilliant, and I might just try to do that on my own. I always just get so nervous trying to plan stuff like that though because nobody ever comes and I take that as a personal reflection on me even though it obviously isn’t.

Anyway, now that I’ve dabbled in the online friending world, I realized there’s even Facebook groups for it! And they post get-togethers and everything! How freaking fun is that?! So now I have a whole range of cool Colorado humans to do my next 50ish new things with. (I bet your state has one too, you should super do it if your friends are lame/always busy/work weird hours/don’t want to hang out with you twentyfourseven/you don’t have friends.)

I told my sister about being on BumbleBFF and her reaction was “that’s perfect for you because you get sick of people so easily” and tbh, she’s not wrong. And tbh, it goes both ways, people get sick of me pretty easily as well. So here’s to internet strangers–there’s always gonna be at least one person out there who isn’t sick of you yet. I’m hoping to find some of em.


It’s January 26th and I’m finally going to post about how I’m taking the year by the horns… or something like that.

Last year, I had a lot of really awesome things happen for me. I graduated college (hallerlujer), I went to China, I peed on the GREAT WALL OF CHINA (shh I don’t think I was supposed to do that), I got INKED (lol surprise), but it was honestly one of the worst years of my entire life. Like, just wanting to die in the coolest possible places. And uh… I don’t like that.

So finally I’m in a place in my life where: I’m done with school. I don’t have a job. I don’t have anything (besides being poor lol) holding me back. The future can be whatever I want it to be. And I want it to be cats.

Just kidding.

But I do want there to be at least one cat…

So this year I have several goals! I want to be a lot more active on my blog. I want to be a lot more active in my faith. I want to be a lot more active in my social life. I want to be a lot more active physically. (do u sense a pattern yet?). I want to be a lot less active on my phone, tbh. And I really do want that cat.

And so, trying to encompass all of those goals, I resolved to do my Something New Every Week Challenge. This year, I want to push myself to do things I haven’t done before. Go places I haven’t been. I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life and the list of Colorado things I haven’t done is embarrassing. The cool thing is that this challenge can be as simple or complex as I want it to be! I can try a DIY pinterest craft that is bound to go horribly wrong, I can go to a new restaurant, I can create a plot for world domination. There’s no limit to the potential I have.

Some other ideas:

  • Do some of the many hikes in the area
  • 14ers that aren’t Bierdstat
  • Royal Gorge
  • Heyo road trips
  • go to the movies by myself
  • write a children’s book
  • get a cat

You don’t understand, for years I have been telling myself that once I’m stable and not in school anymore, I can get a kitten so that I can give it a good home. I just can’t wait, you know?

Anyway. This challenge has been going swimmingly.

Week 1:

So I didn’t actually complete it for week one, and since it wasn’t a full, complete week, I’ve decided to modify the rules and say I only have to do something new for every full week of 2019. Fifty is a nicer number than 52 anyway. Hey, I can cheat at my own game if I want to. All I did week one was drive DoorDash. In the snow. Gives a whole new meaning to “dashing through the snow.” And it wasn’t fun, it still isn’t fun, and it’s a miracle I haven’t crashed my car yet because those icy roads are out to get me and my crappy tires.

Week 2: I don’t gamble, but if I did, I would bet in Vegas

I gambled!! For the first time in my life!! While road-tripping to CA, we stopped in Vegas and I realized I’d never gambled before. So I took my $4 cash and played the penny slots. And guess what?! I walked away with $5. So if you need any gambling tips from a big winner, hit. me. UP.

And in case you were wondering, my mom is not the person to go to Vegas with. She talks to everyone on the street who’s tryna sell stuff. She bought some face cream. She almost let this random old man take us to dinner. It was very stressful.

There was also a guy wearing an American flag (and only an american flag) with a sign that said “Make America Naked Again.”

I’m sorry, should all of this have stayed in Vegas? I’m new to the whole rule book.

Week 3: Having Fun Isn’t Hard

Ok, I didn’t realize this, but my town built a new library a couple years ago and I had never been! So I went for the first time! and I fell in love with books again so I rented a few and then realized that I have a whole box or two of books that I own that I’ve never read. Shameless. So that’s another goal of 2019, read all of the books I have.

Week 4: That’s this week! And I’m really excited to tell you about what I’m going to do, but I haven’t done it yet.

At first, I thought it was going to be admitting to a room full of people that I have bipolar II disorder. I was diagnosed three years ago but I don’t tell people because they react terribly. However, living with that as a secret is a little bit burdensome, so I don’t want to anymore! So when I gave my talk in church this week, I touched on it. But then I remembered I also did that for my final in my creative writing class when I had to read aloud my personal essay at the end of my semester. anyway. surprise! I’m psycho.

More on that later, though. This psychopath needs to check ya later.