Sunday, August 31, 2008

Breathing room

Friday, the day before I was to leave for Chicago, was utter madness. At work there were a million tiny things to tie up before my week-long vacation began, and I had to stay late just to just to get to the most important ones. That left less time for the all of the tasks I needed to attend to at home. Suffice it to say that not everything got done.

At the airport the following day, I picked out a seat facing the window and marveled at how different everything felt. There was nothing more for me to do except sit there and wait for the plane that would carry me back to my hometown. As I stared out the window, more relaxed than I'd been in a long time, I realized there was a song going through my head: "Face in the Rain," whose lyrics I'd been writing on and off for over a year.

The thing is, I was so close to finishing. Just four little lines stood between me and completion. I'd made halfhearted attempts to write them in the last few weeks, but couldn't get into it. Now, I thought, would be a good time to try again. It wasn't like I had anything else competing for my time.

Maybe 20 minutes later, the song was done.

It's funny how something I'd struggled with before suddenly seemed so much easier. I think part of the breakthrough came because I was better able to connect with the subject matter. "Face in the Rain" is about having to be on the road, and desperately wanting to remain with the person left behind. The last lines are about anticipating the joyful reunion. Remembering my boyfriend's smile as he said goodbye to me that morning, and thinking of how it would be when I saw him again, the right words found their way to me.

The other thing that happened was that I finally had a little breathing room. I could think about the song and nothing else without feeling as though I was neglecting fifty other responsibilities.

So. The next time it seems like my creativity has dried up, I need to remember that it's temporary. As long as I keep digging, as long as I find a way to make the time I need to do it, I can still write. I am still a songwriter.

I knew this already. But somehow I have to keep learning it again and again.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Miscellany before departure

Tomorrow I depart for a week-long vacation. I'll have Internet access, but likely not much to write about, so I'll leave you with a couple of things before I go:

E-mail is fixed. Yay! Now I can resume my contacting of ME advocacy sites ... um, after I get back from vacation.

Speaking of advocacy, I have sign-up information for the newsletter that gave a mention to RESCIND and "Everybody Knows About Me." If you'd like to subscribe, just pass a note to Be sure to put "ME/CFS Advocacy" in the subject line so your message doesn't accidentally get deleted.

If I don't check in before I return home, have a great week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Inventures?

Tonight I wanted to tell you all about how to sign up for the ME newsletter that mentioned "Everybody Knows About Me." Unfortunately, I can't access that information due to my e-mail issues, and due to the fact that I didn't copy-paste said info somewhere else when I had the chance. And so, I will instead present you with our weirdest Cinder Bridge sighting to date:

This site seems to have cribbed all of the text about our album from our page on CD Baby. They appear to have done so for the other bands in their directory as well. There's a link to download ringtones on each band's page, so I'm guessing that's the point. I'm not sure why anyone would take the time to make Cinder Bridge ringtones in this, the nobody-has-heard-of-us stage of Cinder Bridge's career, but whatever. The truly bizarre part comes when you navigate through the rest of the site, which is all about a group called the Inventures. A wee excerpt:
The Inventures’s philosophy is best expressed by the flamboyant Tyler: “Kick ass and leave a footprint.” The group has left indelible footprints on the rock and roll landscape with such milestone albums as Toys in the Attic, Rocks and Pump and classic songs like “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” and “Janie’s Got a Gun,” to name only a few.
Um, OK, so somebody decided to make a site about Aerosmith, but change the band's name to the Inventures. Because ... why? Does this help them sell ringtones in some way I'm unaware of?

My e-mail has to start working as soon as possible so I can take a break from pondering this and other mysteries of the universe.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

E-mail is down

My e-mail account has been experiencing technical difficulties since Friday morning. It's been completely inaccessible for most of that time. Just now I got in long enough to read one message and compose a reply ... but I'm not sure I was able to send the reply successfully.

This is so frustrating. Normally I wouldn't care if I had to go a weekend without checking e-mail -- normally I don't get much beyond Google alerts, forwarded jokes, and mailing list postings. But now I'm corresponding with a couple of real live human beings about "Everybody Knows About Me," and I've attempted to contact someone else about using the song to raise funds for ME research. These are not people I want to blow off.

Anyway, if you wrote to me and haven't heard back, that's why. My apologies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Viral advocacy

Googling our band name last week, I stumbled across a post on Behind the Surface, an ME blog, that mentioned "Everybody Knows About Me":
At the moment [RESCIND has] got a "Friend-raiser" going on that includes a song about ME by Susan Wenger, of the band Cinder Bridge (yeah, I hadn't heard of them before now either) that you can download. The song does feel very ME-ish. Very slow and heavy. Indeed as I was listening to the opening verse, I thought, hell, has this woman been spying on me but got the apartment floor wrong?
It was exceptionally cool to hear someone with ME affirm that the lyrics (at least in the first verse) are accurate. But you know what felt even more amazing? The fact that she found "Everybody Knows About Me" through no direct efforts of the band.

Then, this morning, I got e-mail from a woman who lives in North Carolina. She'd read about "Everybody Knows About Me" in an ME newsletter and wanted to know where she could buy the song.

And I thought, newsletter? Yeah, I've been planning to contact some ME newsletters, but I haven't done it yet ...

It appears that our little advocacy song is s-l-o-w-l-y going viral. This shouldn't surprise me. It's been our goal from the beginning. Still, it blows my mind just a little bit to connect with people who weren't even looking for us ... who had never heard of us before now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Random thoughts on the Obama gig

Barack 'N' Roll has come and gone. On the whole I think it went rather well. I don't have any big stories to tell about this gig, so here are some random musings:
  • I savored every one of our 20 minutes on stage. We're used to playing in venues without ... well ... stages. It's neat to sit up there and be able to actually see everyone in the audience.

  • Constructing a 20-minute set list is an exercise in frustration when you have over 50 songs. I always think, what if someone from a big label comes, and she would absolutely love some of our material, but she doesn't like anything from the current list? I hope no one from a big label was listening to us on Sunday, because if she was, we chose wrong.

  • I managed to get through my little advocacy speech about ME without stumbling over the words. (Yes, I did practice in front of a mirror beforehand.) Whether anyone paid attention to what I said, I don't know. Its hard to promote a cause in three sentences or less without sounding like a public service announcement.

  • Before we played, some Club Congress guy handed me one of those little wrist thingies that enable you to get in and out of the club without paying the cover again. It was only later that I remembered this was a free event. So what was the wrist thingie for? Did I miss out on a free drink or something?

  • Best T-shirt slogan sported by an Obama supporter: "Don't worry, only men, women, and children can get AIDS."

  • A hip hop artist named Ciphurphace came on shortly after us. Though I'm not really into the genre, it was obvious that he was good at his craft -- tons of energy, good flow to the raps. I found myself wondering how on earth anyone memorizes all those words.

  • It was strange to see so many avid Obama supporters in one place. I know a bunch of people who like Obama and will vote for him in November, but I don't know anyone who hangs out at these sorts of political events for fun.

  • Kudos to the organizers for keeping the political speeches short. Fewer speeches and more music make for a better world.
Since the concert, we've scored another Obama fund-raising gig. Here's hoping the Club Congress folks invite us back too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The name game

From the second we landed Sunday's upcoming Obama gig, I knew that we had to include "Everybody Knows About Me," our song about living with undiagnosed ME, in the set list. What better opportunity to raise awareness about a little-known but devastating illness than in front of a politically motivated crowd poised to vote for someone who's pushing for universal health care?

The problem: What do I call the illness when I introduce the song? There are actually three major possibilities, and all of them are problematic:

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). The name given to the illness in 1934, after the first documented outbreak. Very few people have heard of this.

Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). Stresses abnormalities in patients' immune responses. Even fewer people have heard of this, as the term isn't used outside the United States.

Chronic fatigue syndrome. This name was invented in 1988, and it's the one most people are familiar with. Unfortunately, it also trivializes the illness by implying that sufferers experience nothing worse than greater-than-average tiredness.

Recently I talked to someone I know with ME -- the guy who originally inspired "Everybody Knows About Me" -- about my dilemma. His opinion was that I should say "myalgic encephalomyelitis," the name that's been around the longest, and leave it at that. He abhors "chronic fatigue syndrome." Though I understand where he's coming from, I think it's a mistake not to mention the term everyone knows. What good is it if our listeners come to sympathize with ME sufferers, but think that people with CFS are malingering whiners?

After kicking the issue around with Ron the Drummer during rehearsal today, I think I've finally come up with a decent introduction: "I wrote this song about someone living with undiagnosed myalgic encephalomyelitis. if you've never heard of that, it's probably because it's commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a silly name for a very serious illness."

Man, people who advocate for breast cancer research never have to deal with this kind of thing. But I guess that's exactly why ME needs more advocates.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We have a slot!

Today we finally found out what time we'll be performing for Sunday's big Barack 'N' Roll event. Cinder Bridge goes on at 4:30 p.m. and exits the stage sometime between 4:50 and 5 p.m.

The concert runs from 3 to 10. I doubt that most people will be sticking around for the entire seven hours, so I hope a few of them show up when we're playing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gigging for Obama

Oooh. Cinder Bridge, along with a bunch of other bands, will be playing "Barack 'n' Roll," a grassroots concert to support Barack Obama's campaign. To be allowed in, we had to meet three conditions:
  1. Declare our support for Barack Obama
  2. Submit our CD to Club Congress, the venue hosting the event, so they could determine that we do not suck
  3. Promise not to make fun of the name "Barack 'n' Roll"
Though we've done benefits before, they've always been for some charity or another, nothing election-related. As a band we're pretty apolitical. Still, Ron the Drummer and I do like Obama, and it's cool to be able to support him in this way. The concert will be the first time I've participated in an election by any other means than voting.

It's also a nice opportunity for Cinder Bridge. When I asked Seth of Nobody, et al. how they scored their Frog and Firkin gig, he said that they played a benefit there with other bands, and the establishment liked them enough to invite them back. Maybe that will happen with us at Club Congress. Fingers crossed.

The concert is on Sunday, August 17, beginning at 3 p.m. I'll post our slot as soon as we know what it is.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


After a longish period of inactivity, Cinder Bridge has lined up a gig for Saturday, August 23. The venue: Kelly's Coffee and Fudge.

This presents a special challenge for a singer with a sweet tooth. Sugar and dairy tend to make you phlegmy -- not a big problem in everyday life, but highly inadvisable if you're about to (*hack, cough*) sing. So, for the sake of our adoring fans (or, more likely, the random passersby who hear us), I shall abstain.

Until we're done performing. After that, look out.