Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ready or Not

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Jackpot, Nevada, thinking about the end. Jackpot is one of those places that you might not even know existed unless you lived in a nearby town in Idaho, or like me, you played in a band that played casinos in places like Jackpot, Nevada. It’s right on the Idaho border and the sole reason for the town’s existence is to provide the good people of Idaho with a place to gamble.  There are other Nevada towns like this that border other states — Wendover is where folks from Utah can lay their money down; Primm, is where folks from Southern California can go to play craps, Tahoe is for the Northern Californians and Laughlin is for the Arizonans. 

And in the eight and a half years I’ve been with Asleep at the Wheel I’ve played all of these towns at least once.

Some, like Tahoe, are pretty and touristy and have a life outside of gambling, But most of these towns are simply casinos in the middle of a desert. People are bussed in to work from neighboring towns because there is no residential sector to speak of. Just a casino or two and a hotel. Nothing to do but spend your money and eat and go see a show.

And if you’re like me, there’s also nothing to do but think.

I’m in the final days of my tenure with the Wheel.  And I know I it, in that left brain, logical, look-at-the-calendar-and-it-says-my-last-day-is-December-31st kind of way. But sitting here in this hotel room, I realize that emotionally I’m not quite to the knowing-for-certain phase of things. Because this, sitting in a hotel room, typing away, passing the time until I’m ready to get ready to get on stage…this is so familiar to me.  This has been my life for almost a decade.  My last tour so closely resembles every other tour that my heart cannot comprehend that this is the end.

I guess that’s not entirely true.  Because for every tour I spend filling up an ample amount of free time until the gig, there is a corresponding tour where I had little to no free time due to the fact that Dave an I have been traveling with our kids for the last five years.  Getting up at 4 am and loading sleeping children into carseats; watching endless movies while traveling endless miles; picnicking in parks and hotel breakfast rooms; watching as my children played backstage with their adopted uncles and road granddad; being so exhausted that I could hardly stand upright but yet feeling so happy when I saw my girls race each other down hotel hallways—this is familiar too.  And though I know that we’re about to enter a new phase— one where home is more a constant than it’s been for us in a long time — well I also know that I have no idea what that means.

It’s exciting and terrifying to think of what’s next.  To think of being at home continuously is so appealing — I have images of gardens and pets and parties on weekends and friends who I get to see more than just on Facebook. But I also have fears, most surrounding housework. I’m used to escaping to the land of the road, where you leave a hotel room and when you return it’s magically cleaned!  You go down to the lobby and someone has prepared breakfast for you! But to not have a break — to be charged with keeping a tidy house with no breaks from that — I’m hoping I will rise to the challenge.

And then there’s the idea of doing solo work. Again, exciting!  I can choose my own music and set my own schedule and create and collaborate with people and record and explore.  I can play gigs solo or with bands. I can travel or not.  But at the same time, I’ve been working for a great band and have been in the employ of a boss who works harder than anyone I know. I’ve had the security of good steady work and a high caliber of musicianship for so long that the prospect of striking out on my own is daunting. What if no one shows up? What if the work isn’t great? What if I fail? What if my future can’t hold up to my past?  These are the questions that wake me up and keep me awake, heart pounding so loud I can almost hear it. 

And so here I am, in a hotel room in Jackpot, Nevada trying to prepare myself for the New Year.  A year that looks to actually be filled with, for lack of a better word, newness.  I mean really, January 1st is usually a day where we aspire to change but rarely do we actually experience it. Change normally takes no notice of the calendar and most of the times we never see it coming. But I see it. It’s coming. It’s days away and will start as of January 1st. I will leave all of this familiarity for a new era in my life.

So I figured I would write a blog post and close the doors on “Miles and Miles of Diapers.” Not that I’ve actually blogged in a year.  Two kids and the road plus the collaborative EP I’ve been working on with Brothers Lazaroff called “The Laziest Remix,” have pretty much had me tapped out. But this seems like a good thing to do. To write the last chapter in the on-again off-again story of the last five years of our family touring life.

I’m trying to figure out how to wrap this up.  To come up with some kind of insight into it all. I mean, what have I said so far other than I big change is coming and I’m not sure I’m ready.

Maybe that’s all there is to say. A big change is coming, and I’m not sure I’m ready.  I think I started this post because I thought if I got all of this down then somehow it would clarify the confusion, meld the excitement and the fear into some kind of amalgam that I could deal with — wrap up in a little ball and hold in front of myself and say “I now understand this transition.” But I still don’t and I probably won’t know what the next stage of life is like until I’m well into it. 

This change is happening. And whether I’m ready or not, here it comes.

On January 7th, my collaboration with Brothers Lazaroff “The Laziest Remix” will be released for all the world to hear! And on January 11th Brothers Lazaroff be coming down from St. Louis to play my first post-Wheel show at Lamberts in Austin. We’ll be splitting the bill with Nakia, and also having Sarah Sharp, Jazz Mills, Erin Ivey and Katie Holmes join us for guest appearances.  If you want to come and enjoy all the newness, you can buy tickets here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I had big plans for the kids' first day back to school. But instead
I'm hanging with a sick yet hilarious kiddo at home
New Years Resolutions are like the adult version of the first day of school.  Every school year started with the younger version of me promising herself that this year, she would keep her binder in order rather than letting it become the disorganized explosion that it always became.  That she would be on top of her assignments and not leave them until the last minute. That she would take time with her appearance, and not look so unkempt all the time.  That she would watch less TV, read more, eat better, practice music more.

That the year ahead would be different from the one behind.

Yet they all seemed to end up the same.

20 years later I’m still tempted to make the same resolutions that I would have as a teenager on the first day of school. Learn to tidy up, look in the mirror before I leave the house, read more, veg out less, play more music...

The same old stuff.

But I have some other factors at work now. Namely two wee girls who are still incredibly dependent on me, and who’s states of being dictate a lot of my life.  I can resolve all I want, but there are days, weeks, months even when my desires for personal improvement take a backseat to the issues at hand.  And the fact that they travel around the country with us means that often I’m doing good just to get through the day.

I’d love to resolve to watch less TV, to let the girls watch TV and I know that sometimes I’ll be able to reign our collective addiction in. And then other times we will cover 5,000 miles in a week and, well, TV will be watched.

I’d love to feed my family locally, organically grown food, and sometimes I’ll be able too. And then other times, in the middle of a long tour, or after a particularly sleepless night, it’s McDonalds for breakfast, pizza for lunch and cookies for dinner.

I would love to be totally present and patient with my kids, all the time. And some days I will be. Somedays the neither poop nor puke nor massive attacks of whininess will break my stride. But there will be other days, when for whatever reason -- exhaustion or the cycle of the moon or just my general state of orneriness -- where I will want nothing more than to be alone, and everything the wee ones do will frustrate and/or infuriate me.

I would love to be awesome all the time. Sometimes I am. But this year, I resolve not to be too upset when I am unable to reach, or even approach, awesome. I resolve to accept the ebb and flow of my life.  I resolve to strive for awesome, and be kind to myself when I’m not. And by extension to be kind to the other folks around me, who would probably be awesome 100% of the time if only they had nothing else to do.

I think this may be a resolution I can actually keep.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thrift Shop -- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Are you hip to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? You probably should be.

There's lots of swear words y'all, so, um, listen with headphones if that's an issue.

You're welcome!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cleaning House -- Week 2

Week Two:  I was pretty aware of my avoidance skills and so had decided to actually not book myself silly for week two. I left my schedule open for cleaning house. And cleaning house is what I did.

The Dining Room:  It took forever, but I actually found places for the various papers, receipts, college diplomas (mine, still packaged up) that we had placed around our dining room.  For a moment, it was empty of things we were putting off until later. What I did not do was sit down and make a plan with Dave about how to keep it that way so...right now the little table under the shelf is filled with things we need to do -- Socks we need to send back to Dave’s dad; containers I want to send to my sister in law so she can refill them with her amazing homemade body creme; bills that need to be filed.

When Keri sent me my plan of action, she had suggestions for us getting to a place where history would not repeat itself.  Mainly creating some kind of organization spaces for these things. But that would take even more time, and through, and let's just say I didn’t quite get around to doing the room is cleaner, but getting filled up again.

As a Christmas gift to myself I shall make some kind of in/out box situation in that room! So let it be written, so let it be done.

The Girls Room:  Next I moved to our kids room, which was just filled to brimming with toys that they kids don’t play with. The main offenders? Stuffed animals. They take up a lot of space and get played with never.  At least that’s the story for half of them.  I didn’t want to traumatize my kids b disappearing their toys, though, so I was at a loss as to what to do.

Keri had a suggestion:  Why now take those stuffed critters that I thought were the least played with and put them in a bag in out storage area? If a wee one missed a purple bear and asked for it, I could always go grab it and introduce it back into the room.  If, after a reasonable period, no toys had been missed, then I could feel safe in passing them along. Or, as Lisel and I are fond of saying, "move 'em on down the line."

My kids have not once asked for one animal in that bag.  Sweet.

I also, with Keri’s encouragement, developed a zero tolerance policy for small pieces of plastic crap. Tiny brushes, broken birthday party gift bag treats, bouncy balls, beads n things...all the things that somehow end up scattered all over my house all the time. Gone. Thrown in a bag and thrown away.  No mercy for small peices of plastic crap.

I also used this time to trade out clothes, which I surprising have an actual system for that includes bins and stuff. But no matter what kind of system you have, you still have to do the actual work of seeing what no longer fits, putting it away, putting the clothes that do fit in...what a drag. But I did it and then, the girls room felt much, much lighter on my soul.

Our bedroom

This was not so bad, as I’ve been culling my clothes and stuff for a while now. The whole pregnancy, post-pregnancy, pregnancy, post-pregnancy again, hey, I’m a different person thing helped with that (link).

But I still had some stuff that I was hanging onto, but that I would never wear. And most of it was from my grandmother.

My Grandbetty was a very stylish lady, and after she passed I got some of her clothes and jewelry. It seemed like the best way to stay connected with her. After all, she always looked rad, always dressed up, always put makeup on, always wore her jewelry.  And even though that is the opposite of how I roll (for every “always” in that last sentence replace “almost never” for me), I still wanted some of her style in my closet. 

But there were some shoes I was keeping that didn’t fit. And some dressed and jackets I was never going to wear. And I felt like maybe I needed to move them along down the line.  At least out of the closet.

But I had a really hard time. I realized I had turned these items into talismans. For me, they bridged the divide between life and death. Touching them was my way of saying to my grandmother, "I remember you, I think of you, I love you. And I know am I loved by you."

I had to call Keri on this one.

She was amazing. and she reminded me that despite my desire to get rid of everything, it’s good ti have talismans. She gave me permission to keep some stuff.  And so, though I did pass a couple of items along -- some shoes that didn’t and would never fit me, a house dress that I was pretty sure she didn't love -- the rest I kept. I moved some to our storage area.  Others I’ll keep in my closet, even if I never wear them.  

And now that both my kids are grown enough, I’ll start wearing her jewelry. She left me some amazing pieces, and everytime I put them on I’ll be stronger for it.

The Living Room

This never happened. Our living room is stuffed with CD’s we don’t listen to and books we don’t read and records we never play and VHS’s we never take out of the dusty Ikea Storage basket in our bookcase.  We need to get rid of some stuff. I need to archive my collection of recording and videos. But this is a job I cannot do by myself. I need Dave’s help, and Dave, well, he hasn’t been available for this kind of work. 

And I understand why.  Who knew that culling would be such an emotional process.  I thought the core of our over-stuffed life was laziness, but it’s not.  It’s emotional procrastination. So much of what we have hanging around our house are memories we don’t want to lose -- we hang onto that receipt because if we throw it away we may lose the memory of that awesome dinner we had together in Boise. They’re decisions we don’t have the heart to face.  They’re weaknesses we’d rather ignore -- neither Dave nor I have particularly organized minds, so creating systems for organization is hard so, um, we dont do it. 

This is deep, man.

The culling will continue. The holidays are almost upon us, which means a whole new influx of thing to crowd our tiny house.  But now I’m prepared. 

This post is sponsored by Organize those Papers.

Cleaning House -- Part 1

So, like I alluded to in my second to last post, I actually did take a crack at emptying my house of stuff. I had two weeks at the beginning of November, and I thought, now, yes, this is my time. I will get rid of half all this stuff that I don’t use...eliminate all that crap that weighs on me.  The smothering mass of stuff in my house will be culled!

Week One:  I was psyched! My friend Keri, of Organize Those Papers,  had created an action plan, a room by room breadown of what I was to do. I was fired up! I was ready to go! And...I was also totally overbooked. 

I could say I booked a series of lunch dates and play dates and errands general time eating up activities because I had been on the road for like, ever before that and I needed to reconnect...but really I think I had subconsciously created a situation where I could avoid the culling. In fact  know I did that because the first week was really more of an exercise in avoidance.

I started out in the dining room, what I felt to be the least offensive part of our house. I mean, it was basically just a table and some random piles of bills and stuff.  It would take me like, 10 minutes to throw away or put away everything there.

Except that everything that was piled up in that room was there for a reason. And the reason was that someone needed to figure out a place to put it. Every piece of paper was there because we had put off deciding what to do with ut...indefinitely. And so it wasn’t so much a matter of throwing things away, or putting things back in their was about finally facing a mountain of decisions that we had been ignoring. For years. I had to find places, decide the fates of papers and posters and pictures was going to take a while. So I started...and then...

Well, I had all the other obligations, and so I put these decisions off for another week. 

(Full disclosure announcement. This post is sponsored by Organize Those Papers)

Friday, December 7, 2012

No (Tangible) Gifts Please! -- A Guide

Photo credit Lisel Blossom Sanger McQueen

This time of year it seems the blogs are crowded with gift guides and the like.  The gift guide irks me a little because in our house, we’re trying to become less thing oriented.  Last years gift-age got a little crazy, as we saw our daughters tearing through wrapping paper, demanding more! more! while appreciating nothing.  

Plus we have enough stuff, Dave and I. We have more stuff than we know what to do with.  And I’d imagine that’s the same for lots of us out there.

So this year we’ve decided to keep it small. Keep it simple. The girls are getting some, but fewer presents. And over the next two weeks, I’ll be sporadically offering some non-tangible yet highly gratitifying gifts.

Donate to a Charity



If it is possible, Dave is even more thing-averse than I, and on his insistence we do the majority of gift giving through donations.  At first I fought it, but now I love it. Rather than buy trinkets for everyone on our list,  we take the money we would have spent on presents and we contribute to organizations on our loved ones behalf. We usually choose one local charity and one national charity.  Here’s a list of places we've donated to in the past.  

Gift someone a CSA subscription

CSA stands for community supported agriculture, and it lets you support a local farm by buying produce directly from them on a weekly or semi-weekly basis. One of the great joys of my time at home is being able to get my box of fresh, locally grown veggies delivered to my door via my favorite CSA, Johnson’s Backyard Garden. If you live in Austin, you can easily gift someone the same joy. If you don’t, do a little googling. I bet you have a CSA in your area that would do the same.

Give the Gift of Organization

We could all use some help getting our houses in order, I know I did (and I will be talking about that lots next week.)  Why not buy a friend in need some help indeed?

Give a parent a break

This one requires nothing but a little sweat equity on your part. All parents are struggling with time and exhaustion. All parents want a break, but also know that babysitters cost serious money.  A date night that ends up topping $200 (dinner plus a movie plus a sitter) can seem just not worth it. Gift that harried parent our couple in your life some free babysitting.  You may just see tears of joy.

What about you. Do you have any non-gift gift ideas?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It’s been a while since I blogged. Not a while since I thought about blogging, because I’ve been doing that like, everyday for the last month...but actually sitting down and writing something. Well, lately I just haven’t had the gumption.

And then today I read Amanda Palmer’s latest blog post . She mostly writes about playing gigs to no one, a scenario I am intimately familiar with. But she starts off by describing why she hasn’t blogged in a while -- about how the grind of touring takes away her desire to open up on the interwebs.  It was like a revelation. “Oh, touring does that to other folks to. At least to another artists whose music and blogging styles I really dig.” And suddenly, I felt like blogging again.

Because suddenly I wasn’t only lame person in the history of the world who didn’t have anything left after going on the road. 

For a while, I stayed away from the blog because I was beat. I was recovering from tour, while concentrating on emptying my house of stuff, then kinda sick, then back on tour where I needed to put my head down and just deal with the next drive, the next sitter, the next gig, the next 2am, 3am, 4am kid wakes up and wants some milk crying spell, the next meal, the next drive, the next sitter...and on and on. It used to be I had time to blog on the road, but with two kids any free time I have  I use to  just think. my. own. thoughts. for. 5. minutes. 

But we’ve been off the road for two weeks and we’re back and I’ve had time and still, I couldn’t blog. Because I felt spent, and sensitive, and tired. Because in my time alone I wanted to strum guitars and write songs and play the bass badly and fix my internet and listen to the Flaming Lips and definitely not write about how spent and sensitive and tired I felt. 

Because to say that felt lame.  

Because I felt lame for feeling spent and sensitive and tired.

In my mind, I am the person with the least amount of stamina. Ever. I am surrounded by people who handle jobs and kids and still have the energy to clean their houses and make beautiful things and write beautiful things  and take showers and go to parties and stay up late not just stop and stare into space. 

Stopping and staring into space, or into a tv, or into a computer screen is pretty key to me when I feel this way.  I’m basically an extroverted introvert to be sure, but I do not recharge around people. People wear me out. I get back to right by being alone.

On the road, you are never alone. And lets face it, when you have kids, you are rarely alone.

To admit this seems lame. The world seems full of people setting fire to it, and these days all I want to do is watch it pass me by. 

So when I read that major fire starter Amanda Palmer felt a similar reaction to the road, well, it seemed like less of a big deal that I did. And It made me think that yes, I could take a couple of free minutes and spend them writing rather than staring off into space or listening to “It’s Summertime” on repeat.

So thanks to Amanda. And thanks to anyone who is taking time out of their busy life to read this.  I feels good to write, even if only to say y’all, the road wears my ass out. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


Well, the Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers Lazaroff Kickstarter is almost at a close. We have a mere three days until we reach the end of our 30 day Kickstarting period.  We've met our goal, which is pretty incredible in an of itself.  And now we're trying to get as many people to back this project as possible.  It's not so much about raising money as it is about involving people in the adventure/experiment that Kickstarter has become for us.

I have so much I want to write about the whole deal -- but today both kids are at home and thus my time is severely limited...So instead I wanted to share with you a couple of update videos that our backers got.  These are public, so if you're one of twitter/facebook followers, you might have seen them...or you might have declined to click because you have a gazillion other things coming at you from life, the internet, you phone, your kids...

After the campaign is closed, we'll be sending the updates out only to folks who have backed the project.  It's one of the coolest aspects of Kickstarter, and one that I'm really excited about.  We get to bring people into the process, and show them all the stuff we were taught to leave behind the curtain.  Rehearsals, studio time, budgets, song inspirations, demos...everything that goes into the making of a finished product.

I've also included the link to each update, in case you want to read the text.  Here goes!

Why I wrote Mind of Men and a video of one of the first times ever we played together, back in January on the radio at 88.1 KDHX in St. Louis

We decided to record a 6th song called Dreamin'. You can hear the demo I made for it as the soundtrack to this video.

I was pretty psyched when we made our goal! So I made this video the next day. I used a demo of Gone Solid Gone that David has sent me literally moments before we surpassed our goal!

Thanks for reading and watching and considering and joining.  This project has been incredible so far, and I expect that it will only become more so as we get deeper into it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Organize Those Papers!

Hello Dear Readers!

As you might have noticed, my blogging has been a bit, um lacking, but as always I have a reason.

And that reason is Kickstarter.  We only have until Friday at 10pm to raise the funds for the Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers Lazaroff EP, and as I have limited free time to be in front of a computer, I decided to devote what little I had to to Kickstarting.

It's been in an incredible process, and one that I plan on detailing further on this blog, but for now I am taking a little (much needed) break to talk about something completely different.

Y'all, I think I'm going to get my house organized.  And it' all because I accepted some much needed help.

You may remember the post I wrote my post about why I cut all my hair off. Looking back on it, I realized that I had included in there a not so veiled cry for help.

It was our house full of stuff we don't use, but that we don't have time to get rid of because even throwing things out takes time and energy that we just don't have.

I couldn’t clean my house, so I cut my hair.

What I didn't expressly say is that my house is full of stuff I don't need because, well, my mind is a disorganized place that has trouble imposing order on the world around me.  I am  a messy, not picking things up kind of person.

I get headaches when I have to file things. So most things don't get filed. They get piled.

It's embarrasing really, especially now that I'm a mom and supposed to care about things like tidiness and cleanliness and organization...but like I said, my head hurts when I have to do those things...

Almost immediately after I posted that post I got a response from my friend Keri.

Can I help with the cleaning of the house?

So nice! Except that she lives in DC, and I live in Austin and well, you know, 1000 miles.  Then said she wanted to Skype and see if she could give me ideas for what to do...but you know, organization = headache and so I let it go for a couple of weeks...

Until I saw on twitter that she had her first musician client. You see, Keri is an archivist by trade and  runs her own business called Organize Those Papers. She realized that most of us need our own personal archivists.  How many of us have millions of papers sitting in boxes that we're keeping because we're not sure if we'll need them or not, but that we don't have the time, energy or inclination to put away in a place where we can easily find them.  Or have one gazillion digital pictures that are just sitting on a hard drive -- memories languishing in digital limbo.

Keri is an archivist...her mind was made to find a place for everything.  She likes doing it. It's what she choose to do for her career.  And now she's offering her services to individuals whose strengths lie in other realms.


My highly competitive nature made me respond that I  wanted to be her first musician client. And so, we made a Skype date.

I'm going to admit that I was still kinda skeptical...not because I doubted Keri's ability, but because I doubted mine. I was a bit worried that I when talking about going through our house my eyes would glaze and my mind would blank out...that's what happens every time I think about organizing a drawer.

But instead, we had a productive and inspirational session.  We went through my house, room by room, and discussed what needed to go.  What I found was that I'm holding on to a lot of stuff for emotional reasons, and what Keri did was talk me through different ways to approach that...hang onto some stuff maybe, take pictures of others, have a party and give away other many ideas I hadn't thought of.

Then we found a time period where it was reasonable for me to actually take the steps. A couple of weeks when we'll be home. Perfect!

Lastly she wrote everything down, and came up with an action plan for me. It a document that has a room by room breakdown of what I need to do, complete with places to donate our stuff that will be leaving our house.  So cool!

My goal? To rid our house of 50% of the stuff in it. It sounds like a big number, but we live over half our time on the road using 1/50th of the stuff we have.  Most of our possessions never get thought about, much less used.  So it's time. It's time to free up our space, unclutter our life, and thusly ease our minds.

And I honestly feel like I can do it. Stay tuned. I'll let you know how it goes.

I feel lighter already!

And of course, you can contact Keri at if you need the same kind of help I do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers Lazaroff -- The Kickstarter Adventure

Today Brothers Lazaroff and I officially launch our Kickstarter campaign to finish the project we started earlier this year, Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers LazaroffThe Brothers are remixing songs from the Laziest Girl in Town.  We want to make a 5 song EP, and we’d like your help in paying for the recording, production and promotion costs of the record. And in return we’ll give you lots of updates and choice of awesome premiums -- everything from a signed copy of the CD  to a Vinyl copy of the record. Or maybe you’d like a limited edition screen print poster or t-shirt. Maybe you want a custom voice mail?  Hey, you can even get a house concert!

This blog has really been an eye opener for me.  It’s showed me how the internet can connect us in ways that would have been impossible 10 years ago. I get to share my adventures with people around the globe, and they get to share their adventures with me. And now with Kickstarter we can connect through music.  We can give people music, plus we can give them insight into the creative process.  We can show people what it's like in the studio, give them a head up on art and videos, and explain the other aspects of putting a project out there -- promotion is a whole art unto itself after all.  


So go ahead, watch the video. Peruse the premiums. We hope you’ll want to become a backer. We’re totally excited to get started. And we hope that you’ll join us on this new adventure!