March 17, somewhere in the air between Austin, TX and Baltimore, MD…

So, this has been an interesting month for everyone’s favorite Pixie. I’ve been working on my goal list (yay, for staying in my budget, and busting out a song for SongFight!), am currently flying home from the South By SouthWest festival, where I got to meet up with many friends, my vamp, and make contacts with other musicians in my field (Canadians are some of my favorite people right now.)

Alas, this past month has not been without it’s tragedies. A year (to the day) after my stepdad was cremated, we were burying my final grandparent, my maternal Gma. She was 88 years old, going on 21, and crazy cool up until the last moments. Telling baudy jokes, teasing the spouses/significant others of her 20 gagillion grandkids… We were at my uncle’s house afterwards, and read through all of the memory cards that people filled out. Highlights were as follows:

1)      The time she bought a case load of VHS porn at a garage sale, thinking they were educational/tourist films, and insisting on watching “Debbie Does Dallas” after Thanksgiving dinner cause “It’s been so long since we were last there… I think I’d like to see how it’s changed!” And then, when she found out just what she bought, she passed them on to a cousin’s husband… Then wanted to know if he’d watched them all 6mos later, cause she wanted them back. She payed $5 for that box, she wasn’t just going to give them away!

2)      The time she called the police because she insisted her granddaughter’s roommates kidnapped her, and refused to let said g-daughter talk on the phone. Reality? They were busy hauling boxes down 3 flights of stairs to a U-Haul cause they were moving to a new apartment, and honestly didn’t have the time to talk. Gma was in Indiana, G-Daughter was in Oregon. Somehow she convinced the PDX PD to go check out the situation. G-Daughter, her roommate, and the friend that was there to help had to show their ID to the police AND the Campus PD (They were in a college dorm at the time), and rip through boxes of books to find where the boarding pass stub from her flight went off to, to prove she came of her own volition. Everyone involved was 21+. To the day she died, Gma still insisted she was kidnapped.

3)      Indiana law is that once you hit age 65 or so, you have to renew your driver’s license yearly with the written exam. (I think. Someone can correct me if it’s changed.) Well, when she was about 69, she went down to renew her license. She failed the test by 1 question. Was she going to let that slide? Oh HELL no. She made my mother drive her across the county to another DMV (cause the internet was slow as molasses back then, so it hadn’t been received that she failed the test yet) so she could take the test and get her renewal. She missed the SAME DAMNED QUESTION! (Honestly, it was a bit of a trick question. “A tractor trailer takes how long to come to a complete stop?” Answer, according to the test “300 yards, or 4 football fields.” A football field is 100 yards. Now you see why so many people get it wrong. The math just does not compute!) So my mother had to drive her to the last DMV in our county, right before closing time. THANK GODS, Gma finally passed the damned test. Mom flat out told her, “Next time, you’re driving yourself. This is ridiculous!”

I loved my Gma. She was a second mom to my sisters and I, since Mom moved in with her after my parent’s divorce (Gpa passed away when I was a baby). And we had such a close bond. A selfish part of me was hoping that she would hang around just a bit longer, since she only had 2 granddaughters left that were unmarried (myself included), but she always said that four years ago, she saw the light. Apparently it is as pretty as everyone with NDE’s says. She saw my Gpa and other loved ones, and was happy, cause she knew where she was going. But, she told that light “You can just hold your horses until I am good and ready. I’ve still got too much to do down here.”

My Gma outlasted all of her siblings, her husband, and one of her sons-in-law (my stepdad). At the time that she passed, she had 3 children (Mom, my uncle, and my aunt), 12 grandkids (even though 2 technically were step-grandkids), and 11 great grandkids. My mom jokes that my sisters and I are slacking on the kid department, since the only children from us are 2 dogs and 6 cats, all told. No two-legged kids yets.

Next thing. I’m on an airplane. Whee. Wait, scratch that. I hate heights, hence the Acrophobic in front of my name. But, I am returning home from the South By SouthWest Music and Film festival. I spent almost a whole week in Austin, catching up with my friends and musicians whom I adore. And I got my cute new baby, my laptop! (I’ll add pictures when I get the chance)

I got on my plane early on Monday, and landed in Texas around 4pm. I had a 2 hour layover in Chicago, and proceded to stuff my face with a gyro, 2 cheeseburgers, and 2 orders of fries while there. I hadn’t eaten since 4am, and was STARVING. My friend picked me up at the airport, we went to grab my badge (Platinum, baby!), meet another friend who works for South By, and proceeded to meet up with “The Canadians”, aka a whole bunch of musicians we know from Canada. They were all super sweet and constantly hugging or chinking everyone’s beer’s. We hit a shop called Wild About Music, where I got a solar powered phone charger (Hot pink and awesome), and a girlfriend bought a blingy piano bracelet. Then we all headed to Halcyon for beers while waiting for the rest of our group, then on to the Chronicle party. The band playing (can’t remember the name, and the info is in my checked luggage) was awesome. Smooth singer with a highly talented band to back her up. There was tons of free food and it was oh so good. Several types of quesadilla’s, gourmet grilled cheese sandwhiches (Tim, Socks, and Choke took those off my plate), homemade tamales of pure yum, nachos, some of the best guacamole ever, and taquitos. Free beer was flowing (we all chose Heineken, cause it was in the big cans, vs the 12 oz cans) and everyone was chilling out and having a good time. We didn’t leave until about midnight to go “home”.

The next morning, we had to be up bright and early, cause I was volunteering at SXSWCreate, an interactive panel about hacking the planet to make it better. I so totally want a maker bot. I was drooling over them the entire time they were running. I met the guy who invented Code Hero, the video game that teaches you how to make video games. Also, he’s the guy who designed the Tactical corsets!!! He is now, and ever more, my hero. There was the local Hackerspace crew there, demonstrating things they built, and how hacking isn’t evil. A guy from the College of Lockpicking was there, giving lessons and selling kits. I can get myself out of handcuffs now, and pick up to a 5 pin tumbler lock. 6 pins, and I get stuck. A guy did a talk on these habi-pods he designed after Katrina. They’re super awesome, lightweight, and can fit 4 comfortably. FEMA is apparently looking at them for disaster relief, to replace the trailers. Another guy gave info on turning a shipping container into a comfortable living space, and also how to make a manufacturing facility out of one. He did it in Kenya to make inexpensive, attractive, stoves, and he was seeing profit within 4-6 months after start up.

As soon as my volunteer post was done, I booked my booty over to the Flamingo Cantina for the Nerdcore Showcase. Since they don’t serve food, I hopped next door to the Casino El Cantina, and saw my first celebrity!! Mike Pinchek (I think that’s his name. The husky bald guy that does music news and reviews for VH1) was sitting by me while I ordered food. SO COOL! No, I didn’t get the nerve to ask for his autograph. He was in a conversation, so I didn’t want to be rude. Also, I got super shy. So, fast taco, went outside, waited… And waited… Then ran in, got to hang in the green room before the show with the performers, cause I’m awesome like that, and rocked out.

Brandon Patton (aka Bl4k Lotus) was on first, and was great, as usual. I was sitting next to MC Frontalot, and we did the swaying, sing along with the lighters in the air thing, together. Next up, after a brief intermission while they set up the turntables, was Adam Warrock. He actually made Justin Beiber’s “Baby” palatable, by sampling the beat and turning it into “June”. Check it out. Following him was Thesis Sahib. Very interesting to say the least. He has a hat that has mic distorters sewn into it, you can’t see his mouth, and he makes his backing music on the fly with a modded GameBoy. Also? He’s an artist, with a book out of his prints and a matching vinyl of soundscapes to match each image. Very nice.

Next on deck were the Thought Criminals. kHill and I have been friends for awhile, so it was great to finally see him perform live. They had a guest star, Jennifer, who played the triangle on “All the Coins”. They apparently had a distorted mic, cause when she played, it mimicked the coin sound from Mario Bros. After TC, it all starts to get mixed up in my head cause I’d A) had a couple of drinks and B) everyone helps everyone else, so one person would be on, and then everyone else would hop up for songs they were featured on. I think, next, was Ghettosocks and Timbuktu, aka TeenBurger. That was just so smooth and great. I know, I’m saying great and awesome too much. Sue me. After them was More or Les, with one S featuring FreshKils on his M-1000. Socks and Timb jumped on stage to perform “Pop ‘n Chips”. Jesse Dangerously was up next, and he only lasted one song before he ripped off his shirt. And yet, miraculously, the flower he had stuck in his beard? Didn’t budge an inch. JD was awesome, and spent a song or two on the floor in the middle of the crowd, so we could jam with him.

Mark Schaffer, aka Schaffer the Darklord, was next. He did some of my fave songs, like “Bender”, “Tom Girl”, “Cat People”, and more. The man moves TOO GODS DAMNED FAST for a human to get a decent photo of him performing. I think, 1 out of every dozen isn’t a total blur. After this point is where I screwed myself over. Unfortunately, I needed a bathroom break. But, I was thinking that my friend (or her boyfriend-type-person) would hold my spot. I come out, and she’s heading to the greenroom, dragging the guy behind her. Oh, well. I grabbed a quick smoke while they tore down the stage so MC Frontalot and his band could set up, started showing the pics to the artists, and had a random woman (I think she was with YT Cracker) buy me a blue Kamikaze. Luckily, the FC is set up oddly, and has seating built into the wall in levels. I got on the highest level in the corner so I could see most of the stage and get decent pics. Only had to get down so I could get better shots of Vic-20 and Sturgis.

Next day? Slept in til like, 1pm. We didn’t get in til 2h30am. The plan for Weds was basically snag free food, free stuff, then head to Malaia for the BackBurner Crew, DualCore, MC Lars, YT Cracker, & Megaran/Random show. I went through the entire trade show. Got free ear plugs from HP Cloud Services, a few free shirts, tons of business cards (most pitched), candy, bottled water, beer, music downloads and CD’s, and a RUNNUR strap purse thing. About 4h30 I went on the hunt for the College of Lockpicking party with Ayapoh and her bf. Had some odd (tho tasty) gourmet pizza while Ayapoh and the bf learned to pick locks. Next, was scurrying over to Malaia, since we were 2 of the 4 Merch Girls for the show.

Una Problema. We had no table. SXSW had a hard time finding a table for the turntables, let alone find one for merchandise. The manager of Malaia is a royal dickwad. NO ONE was using the tables along the wall, but could we move and use them? No. Could we use the curved table thing their DJ uses? No. Could we use an outlet so we could keep the laptop with the point of sale program running? Technically, no. Did we hide the charger under a pile of our purses? Yes.

But, we found a table! Someone’s bf bought a really nice table off of a hobo in a parking garage for $10. We didn’t ask questions, just whipped out the ducttape and started laying out the merch. Unfortunately, we were back by the entrance, so seeing the show was impossible through the crowd, but we were dancing and singing along to every song. And everyone was giving us shoutouts from the stage. I went on the hunt for decent food, since next door the IFC Roadhouse was taunting us with the smell of maple syrup and popcorn. Found this lil cart called Funk In Chicken. It’s a skewer about 18” (if not longer) full of bits of chicken and toast covered in an awesome sauce. I picked up 4 BBQ and 1 Sesame (for us to split), and fought my way back to the club. Apparently, best food decision ever. People either scarfed it down fast (ie: Schaffer ate the Sesame one in like, 2 seconds flat, I swear. One second, full skewer. I turn to take a drink of soda, and his skewer is bare.) or shared bites with some of the guys who had finished performing. My payment from Schaffer for the one I gave him? He has to come to Pittsburgh sometime for a show, and give me ample notice.

The club was rocking til 2am, when everyone (save us) was told “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here, so get your butt out.” All the guys signed CD’s I bought from them. Socks gave me one of his CD’s for free (I had run out of cash, but he apparently was planning on it before then). Hugs were passed around, and apparently the trek getting the merch table back to the guys’s hotel room (and all but one Canadian was drunk of their booty) was hilarious. I missed out on that. I was on my way back to my buddy’s place to crash. Thursday was nice and slow. We rode the light rail in (omg, if you have a major event happening, run the public transit more than only once an hour.) and went off in search of food. Maggie Mae’s had free bbq and the fixin’s available, so I stuffed my face with Ayapoh. We then went exploring, played with lego’s at the convention center, and got feather extensions in our hair. We then split apart. I went to the Nerdcore BBQ, which is a yearly event for those in the know. The onion rings were great, but I didn’t really like the rest of my food. Hung out with the guys for a bit, then went back downtown, and back to Maggie Mae’s. I thought it was across the street from the Alamo Draft House where my friend was seeing a movie. Wrong. Didn’t know there were 4 locations. So, I went to the Iron Cactus to wait. The bartender was able to charge my phone, but only if I bought a drink. I normally drink a Long Beach. The bartender had his own spin on that drink family, called a “Lights Out”. I lost count after the 6th bottle of liquor used… So, halfway through the drink, which tasted like a peachy lemonade, the alcohol snuck up on me. Whoo. I was fairly tipsy by the time I got back to SXSW HQ to meet up with my ride so I could go sleep and pack up my stuff.

Friday was pure win. Woke up, hangover free, and packed my things. My Jadey had driven into town the night before (she’s from Texas), so she came by, picked me and my things up, and we went for a girl’s day out. First off, Cheesecake Factory for noms. We were so full, no cheesecake :,( . We asked our waiter if he knew anyone who would know the best play to get manicures. He asked the resident gay guy (not one of the many waitresses/hostesses), and said we were in for a treat. So, mani-pedi’s. We spent THREE HOURS getting massages and all this random pampering done. Oh, it was wonderful. And, “Where The Heart Is” was playing on the tv, so we got to grab a chick flick at the same time! Next stop was Office Depot. Why, you may ask? Well, Jadey insisted she owed me two birthday presents. So, let’s bring Pixie into the modern age with a laptop. Oh, it’s so pretty!!!! I got a Toshiba, and it’s gunmetal blue and so sweet… *sigh* Luckily, there was a Ross’s next door. I got so much free stuff, I needed another suitcase to check! It’s purple and spins and is just generally cool.

Using Yelp!, we found a hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant and had some wonderful pho. I had the pho rau with steamed veggies, and Jade had the one with a bit of everything in it. Duc biet or something. The walls were decorated with art for sale, and one wall was Nintendo Pixel art made out of meltybeads. Very cool looking. We then left with our leftovers, cause one serving was HUGE, and tried to find a way downtown so I could give my friend back her housekey, and possibly meet up with a couple of friends, to introduce them to Jade and take last pictures/give hugs goodbye. Unfortunately, traffic was INSANE, so Jade dropped me off outside of where my friend was so I could do a quick drop off, and she drove in a circle back to me. Due to this issue, we gave up on meeting up with my friends (getting down to the key hand off position took an hour, alone), and went back to the hotel. Went to bed, then woke up insanely early, nommed a waffle in the shape of Texas, then hopped on the courtesy shuttle to the airport. And now, here I am, writing this in the air on my way home. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll be uploading this to my blog.

Til next time!