When my life becomes a movie, this will be the good part.
You know…the montage between my decision to pursue my career and the scene where I’m listening to my first hit on the radio for the first time?
In the movie, it will only take about 3 minutes while one of my signature hit songs is playing. You’ll see snippets of gigs, meetings, studio time, radio interviews, etc.
But this is the dirt.
In real time.
And right now, I’m not a big star. I’m just Livi.
My full name is Olivia West and I am a mommy and a musician.
Which makes my life very interesting.
A real-life Cinderella story in the making.
Literally. To pay my bills I do anything and everything I can that pays. I clean houses & offices, dj parties & karaoke nights in bars, design websites, logos and merchandise, I sing other people’s songs for demos, I sing cover songs for tips, I’ve even painted houses and competed in karaoke contests…everything I can find! It takes a lot of work to pay the bills AND the dues.
Everybody knows that an “overnight success” never really happens overnight. The road to success is paved with potholes the size of canyons which swallow all the normal and even most of the extremely-abnormally-talented folks up. It’s hard for anyone to pay their dues. Nothing worth having is easy to get for anyone.
But I’m not anyONE any more. I’m actually three people. I’m a mom.
I can’t live in a small studio apartment with my three musician roommates fighting over who has to wash the dishes and why hasn’t so-and-so paid her share of the rent on time since we resigned the lease?
Instead I live in a one-bedroom walkup. I share a bed with my first grader and my third grader sleeps on the loft bed above our heads.
I’m the only one paying the rent, so like any single mom I have to work harder to pay the bills. I’m the only one raising my kids, so like any single mom I also have to be a dad. (And like any single mom who can’t say no when somebody needs something, I also have to be a Tiger Cub leader. No, I don’t have the time.)
And like any rising star I have to be my own manager, pr, website designer, publisher, record label, booking agent…
Dues times three. At least.
Not that any day for a single mom or a rising star is ever average, but if there WAS such a thing it would occasionally go like this:
6:30am – Wake up and get the kids ready for school. Joey doesn’t like to be woken up and Luke pops up like toast from the toaster. But he won’t eat toast. He likes dry cereal, but we ran out of his favorite kind yesterday and I ran out of time to go to the store. Oops, I forgot to wash Joey’s school pants yesterday and he accidentally spilled something on the other pair. “No, Joey, it’s not sleepy time. Get up and let’s clean the icing off of the knees of the pants you wore on Monday so you can wear them today. Get up sleepy head, we can’t be late again.” Ok, other than being out of chocolate milk and the trash overflowing again, missing socks and jackets and Luke forgetting his backpack until we’re half a mile from the house, that basically covers what the first hour and a half of my day is like.
8:30am – My bathing suit is still wet from yesterday and a little cold from the trunk, and I have to share a lane at the Y with some guy who looks old enough to be my father, but keeps leering at me anyway. Swimming is the best exercise I can get in the time I have allotted and it’s safe for my heart, which has rhythm problems. So I ignore grandpa and swim half a mile. I’ve lost over 150 pounds since having Joey, but I’m not skinny enough for music videos yet. Just the right size for leering grandpas. Exercise away!!!
9:30am – Stuck in traffic on the way to clean someone else’s house while mine is still messy.
10:00am – The house forgot they said 10, they thought I was coming at 11. They’re at the coffee shop down the street and will be here in 30 minutes. I check some of my emails on my Droid. Thank God for smart phones.
12:00pm – Knee deep in someone else’s shower scum I inevitably get some kind of game-changing call, usually involving my need to reschedule at least one other gig, the babysitter, and a doctor or dentist or physical therapy appointment.
2:00pm – I finally remember I forgot to eat lunch. Oops. If I hurry up and finish mopping I can eat a cereal bar in the car while I rush back to school to pick the kids up.
3:00pm – Somebody probably has to see some kind of doctor or at least has too much homework they need help with or there’s a pressing need to deposit a couple gigs’ worth of pay into the bank account before a bill comes out. If not we go to the Y together and I teach one child at a time how to swim so they can pass the test and swim without a life jacket at the Y some day.
4:45pm – I told the sitter I’d bring the kids at 4:30, but I’m late and she just called and said she’s almost at her house, so we’ll probably get there at the same time.
6:15pm – I forgot to put make up on, so I have to put it on by the car mirror before I set up the PA for my show tonight.
6:55pm – The couple at the front table wants to know if I can play Bobby McGee. I’m almost done sound-checking and I forgot to get a drink before I started singing the table’s requests.
10:00pm – The show is supposed to be over, but the last three tables can’t decide which song I should play last. They all throw a five-dollar bill in the bucket and I play unplugged so the manager won’t get phone calls from the hotel across the street.
11:30pm – No, I’m not single because I haven’t been asked out this week. I’m single because I don’t want to date anybody right now. But I’d still like to write at your publishing company anyway. Yes, that’s a great pic on my business card. You don’t have a card with you, so you’ll call me? Yea, I think that’s a pig flying up there…
12:30am – I’m finally loaded back up and on my way to the sitter. It’s just an hour drive from Franklin to Mt Juliet and a half hour more home to Old Hickory. I should be in bed by 2am if I can find the kids’ shoes and jackets and get them on them in good time.
2:30am – I think those are the most important emails to respond to tonight. I need to make a reminder in my phone to call that publisher in the morning. Just in case he calls back even though I won’t date him…
3:00am – Dammit! I forgot to buy chocolate milk and fruity pebbles again!
That’s a NORMAL day! Now, we all know nothing EVER goes the way we expect it…