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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Go ahead--laugh, cry, cheer, and think a lil'

Hello blog readers. Thanks for checking in. I was initially going to take the rest of the week off to rest up from my trip, but I just couldn't stay away. Call me ridiculous or call me loyal--whatever works for you is fine with me.

For this post I'll work backwards starting with today and going back to what Iowa was all about. Ready? Here we go:

I had my first banjolele lesson today. Even though I played the trumpet for more than 20 years and studied voice for nearly a decade--I have never played an instrument with strings AND I cannot read music so this is a whole new thing for me. For those of you who do not know--the banjolele is a hybrid of sorts, it's part banjo and part ukelele. It's tiny but sounds like magic. Here is a picture of me and my banjolele:

Yes--I do know that I am adorable. People tell me that all of the time. Ok--well anyway--today was my first lesson. I now know eight chords and plan on practicing a lot. I bought said banjolele with the tip money that I made from my Iowa shows at Jokers--so if you put a buck or 5 or 10 or 20 into my tip jar I AND the music world thank you very very much. Here is the bluegrass version of "Get Low!" Skeet comes in all forms ya know! Bluegrass version of Get Low! Give it a listen--what do you have to lose? Bridget is surely rolling her eyes right about now and I think that is awesome. Maybe Dubstep can be done in Bluegrass form? I plan on finding that out.

Well guess what readers? I decided not to make you wait. There is "Bluestep" and I'd love to know what Bridget thinks about it. Here is a mashup of sorts. Enjoy! Bluestep (bluegrass/dubstep)

Ok--back to basics. I've been home for two days and aside from the man at the bank telling me that I am NOT a tiny superstar (it's a boring story)--it's been a pretty relaxing two days. It's always a hard transition for me--going home to Iowa then coming back to Cali--this time has been no exception. Here are my last three weeks in a nutshell: traveled across country and back via car--about 4500 miles in total, performed two shows in Cedar Falls Iowa for a total of over 300 people, spent time with family, dealt with temps over 100 degrees for most of the trip, fought double pink eye, a throat infection,  bronchitis, sleep deprivation, and stage fright, reconnected with some friends that I have not seen in over 20 years, celebrated my 41st birthday, watched as Bridget and Scott document the best and worst of Iowa, played pinball while B interviewed my immediate family--(I still do not know what they talked about but am awed by Bridget's bravery and the willingness of my family to participate), walked in the Relay for Life, ate a lot of Iowa delicacies, and watched Myriam shoot a gun for the first time. I did like 1,000 other things, but you get the picture.

All in all--the trip was amazing. I'm honored B and Scott made the trek and am hopeful they got what they needed for the film. Myriam had a great time. She did fine even though Rural Iowa has a limited number of the following: green vegetables, starbucks, people of color, hotspots for WIFI, cable channels, and street signs.

The trip for me was an experience like no other. Without disclosing too much of what you'll see in the film--I'll just say that I came across some very surprising information while reconnecting with friends. Something that I thought I was certain of for twenty three years turned out to be.........well.......I guess you'll have to wait. Crazy!!

I think I stated in my last blog post that I am both humbled and elated right now. The trip has truly been life changing and I am so very glad that a lot of it is being documented. Some days I hate that--some days I love it--so tomorrow I might say something else. I'm grateful to Bridget for her bravery for her patience. I faced a lot of fears on this trip and pretty proud of my courage. On another note--I am humbled! Facing these fears was not a "magic pill" to make my life better--it was not a be all and end all for anything. Life continues. I still struggle with a lot of demons, I still lack confidence on a regular basis, and I still desire to find my place in this world. This was just another step for me--a step in the right direction, but just a step. I'm learning to enjoy the good days when they come and to treasure the people in my life--those I've known for 40 years and those who I have yet to meet--life is short. Myriam and I are learning that more and more everyday. Not only has this been a summer of new beginnings--it's also been the summer of farewells. I'll share more about that later--the next few weeks will be some of the most difficult for us and for some of those we love. Just remember that life is short. Take chances when you can. Be brave and allow others to do the same. Keep your sensitivity in check and don't have any regrets. Today's post is for Alan King. Alan came to my show in Iowa and took the time to tell me that I was amazing. Sadly, Alan did not feel the same about himself--he ended his own life just last week. I tell you this to honor Alan and to remind you all that we need to always be reaching out.

I'm sure that when you began this post--you had no idea how serious it would get. That's how I do shit--it's not all fun and games. If I made you laugh, cheer, cry, think, and a little uncomfortable then I have done my job. I need to go practice my banjolele and check the times for the Katy Perry movie. Thanks for reading. B will post soon. I am enjoying her Iowa "novel" that she seems to be writing--I'm sure you guys are as well. We make a great team. Love to her and love to all y'all. TJ out!

p.s. Our movie is gonna be awesome!


  1. great post T.J. I have to admit that I did laugh and cry and cheer. It was awesome and truly made me thing. The banjolele is amazing.RW

  2. great post. i love your vulnerability tj because it teaches us a lot and i think you and bridget are going to make a really great movie. looking forward to her next post and to yours. they are always so different yet compliment each other well, kind of like you two i guess. cheers. heather m

  3. Wow TJ, very powerful blog! you write straight from your heart
    and I love your honesty, bravery and love you pour into
    your story. I do hope out paths cross again, it was Joy
    hearing just bits of your journey. You are a courageous
    woman and speak with such compassion and conviction.
    Looking forward to next summer!
    My friend Amy in long beach is coming to one of your
    shows soon.
    Keep being the brave soul you are!

  4. TJ, this post was off the chizzle chain. That version of "Get Low" was suweet. The mashup scared me. I bet bridget hated it but I could be wrong. Can't wait to hear her thoughts on your show. I was there and thought it was one of the coolest things in the world. Both tinysuppastars must come back to Iowa. I think Bridget owes everyone a kareoke song. lol

  5. TJ! So many layers to this post.
    I'm so very sorry to hear of your friend Alan's departure. I know he's in a kind, peaceful place.

    I'm learning so much about the bluegrass genre from you. I'd no idea how diverse it could be.

    I LOVE that photo of you with your banjolele! You are beyond adorable!
    I think I'm still processing the depth of this post. I'll return tomorrow for more commentary.
    Love you TJ!
    TJ!, in my head I hear the beginning of Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance. She shouts "TJ!" She might even be shouting "DJ" but she means "TJ"
    Love you!