Sexual Harassment in the Daylight

Sexual Harassment in the Daylight
By Mary Scholz

It’s 3pm. I’m in Killarney, Ireland, and I’ve got a few hours before show time. It’s my first afternoon in this adorable town, and one of the few rain-free days I’ve had since I arrived overseas. The sunshine is warm and bright. People bustle by.

 

At a busy street corner, I find a knee-level concrete wall, sit down, break out my journal and begin a bit of writing.

My guitar and suitcase are at the hostel up the street. I’m free of all sweaters, umbrellas, merchandise, and other extraneous travel items.  All of the things that scream “tourist!,” and all of the things that make me feel tied down.

I am a free, confident, cautious, smart, capable solo woman. And I feel good.

 

Two young men approach and sit on either side of me.

“Are you on holiday?” the one with the fiery red hair and extensive freckles asks.

A little bit bigger, his expression almost seems to mock me when he smiles. If I were casting a film, he would be my stereotypical movie bully.

They both look about 25. I’m a few months shy of 30.

 

“Why do you ask?” I reply, surprised to be suddenly surrounded.

 

“We’re on holiday from Dublin. Took a few days off to bus down to Killarney and hang at the pubs here,” he says rather openly, and I realize that I made an unnecessary snap judgment of him.

 

I relax a bit.

The camaraderie you’ll find between travelers is wonderful. Ireland was my third country on this trip, and I had run into so many lovely fellow explorers. Men and women alike. Older, younger. People from the States, from Europe, from the Middle East and Asia.

I’d met kind and gracious locals who gave directions or helped with luggage when there were large flights of stairs and no lift to be found. I struck up conversations and made friends, and kept to myself when I wanted to be just me.

 

The not-movie-bully-boy and I chat about travel a bit.

I tell the Irish lads about my show, encourage them to come, to bring friends if they know people in town. The second kid stays quiet. He doesn’t make eye contact with me.

The sunshine is still warm and bright; people continue to bustle on by.

 

“Do you ever meet men on the road?”

 

“I always meet men on the road. And women. Children. All types of people,” I joke.

 

“But no. Do you ever meet men on the road? Pick someone out at a show and go home with them and let them fuck you?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

 

Everything in my body tenses up.

 

“I bet you’re a real flirt. I bet you let men take you home to fuck you. I bet you like it. You do, don’t you? You like to be fucked.” 

The second kid keeps his eyes averted.

The conversation has flipped so quickly that I don’t know what to do with myself.

The sun is still warm and bright; people continue to bustle on by.

 

Freckles begins to ask more specific, uncomfortable questions, becoming quickly aggressive and demanding as he goes.

 

I tell him he’s being inappropriate and to leave me alone.

He demands my phone number. He’s furious that I refuse to give it to him. He wants to buy me a drink, why won’t I let him buy me a drink?

 

People continue to bustle on by. I can’t feel the sunshine anymore.

 

What I do feel is small and trapped; and stupid, because I’m still sitting there. But I don’t really know what this person will do if I move. Or what the role of the second, silent kid will be. And I don’t know this town.

 

I had prepared for unwanted advances on my solo adventure. After all, I had been traveling solo for years.
I had photos of my MMA fighter ex-boyfriend saved to my phone in case I needed to scare someone off with a story of “who was meeting me in a few minutes.”
(He was a sweetheart disguised as a bruiser).

 

My mind races, wanting to be defensive and meet aggression with aggression, but I was afraid of what the response could be.

If I walk towards my hostel, these guys could follow me and know where I am staying. They already know where I’ll be playing that night, and therefor where I’ll be exiting, alone, after my show. There are so many people walking by, but no one knows that I feel threatened and uncertain of how to proceed.

I don’t know how to tell them. I don’t know anyone in town.

And my bruiser-disguised-sweetheart ex wouldn’t actually be showing up in a few minutes. He didn’t even know I still had those photos to use as precautionary protection if needed. And I was so shocked and frozen, I didn’t remember to use them, anyway.

 

So I sit and I tell him to leave me alone. Refuse to answer his questions. Refuse to give him my number. Pray that neither one of them touches me.  Wonder how to get the attention of any one of the number of people who are walking by enjoying the sunshine.
I want to turn to the silent kid, who is sinking in stature, seemingly more and more ashamed as he listens, and ask him if he’s okay with this. Tell him that just because he’s not the one asking the questions, doesn’t mean he’s not harassing me through his silent approval.

 

Freckles finally gets frustrated and bored and gets up to leave, looking over his shoulder with the most aggressive and threatening look I’ve ever had directed at me.

 

He had an exit line, but I could hardly hear it, I was so upset.

Something about fucking a singer, though.

 

I wait until they are far enough out of sight, and make my way quickly to the hostel. I speak with the manager, explain what happened, what they looked like, and ask if he knew of anyone of that description staying there. I’m in tears suddenly and am once again feeling stupid. I mean, it wasn’t that bad, he didn’t actually do anything to me, and I shouldn’t have answered his initial questions.

 

I still can’t feel the sunshine; but people continue to bustle on by.

 

The hostel manager was, thankfully, very concerned, told me to notify him if I saw them on the premises, and assured me that they would be forced off property.

 

I stayed in my room for the rest of that beautiful afternoon. In my mind, I wand to say “fuck that, they can’t ruin my day here,” and go for that bike ride I had planned.

But my body, confidence and adventurous spirit shut down. I sat on the top bunk of the bunk bed.

 

I just sat there.

 

Hours passed.

 

I finally showered, and made my way to the pub for my performance, avoiding eye contact with everyone and instinctually shrinking away from men who passed by me, moving as far away from them as possible without stepping into oncoming traffic.

 

Those two boys didn’t show up that night, but another “lad,” felt the need to step up on stage, mid song, and kiss me goodbye, right on the lips, walking out, laughing.

On any other occasion, as a woman who is straightforward, blunt, and not afraid to speak up for herself, I would have had words with him from the microphone. But even on the stage, I just felt small.

 

Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t take dark alleys and don’t stay out too late. Never accept drinks from strangers that you don’t open yourself, don’t wear clothing that “invites” unwanted attention.

 

What about the daytime?

 

 

And why is it so ingrained in us, as females, from the age of at least thirteen, to know these rules and shame those who don’t abide by them?

 

It becomes blame-able. “Oh, she was walking alone? What was she wearing?”

 

These are good rules to know. Of course. They make you aware of your surroundings. Because, as a woman, you must be aware at all times.

 

But what are the rules for the daytime? For the workplace? For the coffee shop? For the movie theatre? For the grocery store?

 

It’s 10am in Paris and I’m again untethered, just me and my purse, headed down the metro staircase, on my way to have a look at the Moulin Rouge. I make quick eye contact with a gentleman who was walking up the stairs, and nod my head as a “hello.”

 

I love Paris. I love the people there. The architecture. The artwork. The language. The espresso. The baguettes. It seems so obvious and cliché, but I’m here now, and I get it.
I love Paris.

It’s a busy enough station. People coming and going, a teller behind the counter selling tickets and passes.

I begin to make my way through a turnstile when a man of about 45 throws his whole body against me, grabbing me and shoving himself into the turnstile with me. (Turnstiles in this station were more like small stalls, with doors.)

I don’t know if his purpose is to grab at my body or to skate through without paying. All I know is that out of nowhere, I have the weight of a man, half a foot taller than me, against my back  – fully pressed against me.

I pull myself away and slam the turnstile door on him as quickly as possible, yelling, “No – don’t do that! Don’t touch me!”

 

It was the man from the staircase.

 

He looks me in the eye, smiles, opens the door, whispers a simple “Merci,” and walks past me. There are people everywhere. No one flinched. No one looked up when I yelled. The teller, a woman of about 40, didn’t seem to notice, though it happened directly in front of her window.

 

I moved to the platform and the man, who was traveling with friends, continued to look at me, telling his friends what he did, chuckling, and moving the group slowly closer to me as I moved myself farther down the platform.

 

When the train came, I let them step on and stepped off, waiting for the next arrival.

 

The Moulin Rouge looked dirty and disgusting to me, as did everything else that day.

I felt attacked, and stupid; after all, it wasn’t that bad, and I’m pretty sure he was just trying to get through for free. I shouldn’t have made eye contact with him on the way down the stairs.

 

Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t take dark alleys and don’t stay out too late. Never accept drinks from strangers that you don’t open yourself, don’t wear clothing that “invites” unwanted attention.

 

What about the daytime?

 

And why was I blaming myself? And why did I have to FIGHT the urge to embellish these stories to make them sound worse so that people would understand why I felt uncomfortable and upset? And why, when I explained what had happened, did people ask me “you must have had your luggage, right? You looked like a tourist?” as if, in that case, it would be somewhat acceptable or at the very least understandable.

 

This is not the story of an American tourist in Europe. This is the story of a woman in broad daylight trying to go about her day. These things have happened in my own hometown. When people are around. When the sun is shining.

 

Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t take dark alleys and don’t stay out too late. Never accept drinks from strangers that you don’t open yourself, don’t wear clothing that “invites” unwanted attention.

 

But during the day…where are our tips for the day?

For the workplace? For the coffee shop? For the movie theatre? For the grocery store?

 

I am a self-sufficient individual. Resilient. Traveling does not scare me, living in my city does not scare me, visiting small towns I am unfamiliar with does not scare me – nor does conversing with people.

 

But the truth of the life of a woman is that this is a part of your every day.
And we have come to find being a little bit scared and on guard at all times completely normal. We don’t even identify it as such.

 

And these are the stories that don’t actually involve my being sexually assaulted.

These are the ones where I don’t get physically violated against my wishes.

Where a man doesn’t decide that I am his to take, touch, toy with just because he exists in the world.

 

I have those stories, too.

 

But these stories I’ve told here…they are just a spec in the overwhelming landscape of realities for women around the world. And every spec is an important piece of how we interact with each other.  The ones that are made out to be no big deal. The ones that are expected to have no real impact. The ones that are just “guys having fun.” “Being a man in a man’s world.”
The ones that make us shrink, make us smaller. Make us avoid eye contact, make us feel stupid, make us feel ashamed.

Make us keep our guard up, keep us from feeling safe.

 

Keep us from fully experiencing life.

 

And people think these “small things” don’t affect the world?

 

They impact every interaction I have with men. They impact where I go and how I plan my hours.

 

We, as women, have learned to brush things off, to make ourselves smaller because the less threatening we are to the men around us, the less likely it is for them to act aggressively towards us.

 

We do this without even realizing it. And then we do it very much on purpose.

It is our survival instinct.

 

And it affects everything.

I’ve seen a man get irritated because a woman he was trying to be kind to was “weird” towards him. But you have to understand the frequency with which a man being kind is bait for interaction, that quickly pivots to something threatening.

I’m not even going to go into sexual assault, rape, and how those experiences impact every relationship I have with every type of man I know.

Every consensual, healthy sexual encounter I’ve had since and in between.

How it impacts my loving, wonderful, incredible relationship.

 

No, I won’t go there. But I will go here.

 

First are the words, then are the actions.

Words impact. They breed complacency.

Talking about women in derogatory, demeaning ways and brushing it off as nothing more than “men being men,” or “locker room talk” excuses and emboldens those who think this is the natural, acceptable state of a man.

 

This is what starts out as a young boy laughing at the comments of someone he respects, learning it’s okay to speak that way, becomes a 25 year old verbally harassing a stranger, turns into a man scaring women for fun, and ends up a trusted confidant forcing themselves on another, unwilling individual.

 

This is what starts out as a young girl hearing a respected man use derogatory and de-humanizing language about women, beginning to think it’s normal herself, because the boys and men she trusts say nothing, or even laugh. It becomes letting a 25 year old man verbally abuse her because she doesn’t know how to respond without escalating the situation, allowing men to scare her for fun because she’s been warned that fighting back is dangerous, and eventually being raped by a confidant who she tells to leave her alone, but realizes that if he can do this horrible act, she doesn’t know what he’s capable of, and eventually stops fighting back out of fear of what could come next.

 

This is not the natural state of a man. This is not the natural state of a woman.

And this is not the acceptable state of dynamic between sexes.

 

My Relationship to My Creativity

My relationship to my creativity.

It’s like a relationship with a person. If you don’t nourish it, pay attention to it, learn about it, it resents you and just sits there nagging and unhappy.
But then sometimes you pay attention to it and it kicks back at you.
It’s easy to let everything else come before the creative process. It’s easy to get up in the morning and start with daily tasks and do the things you “need” to do to live your life. There’s a lot of important life things that can easily take over the time you need to create.
This morning I gave myself time to write. I sat and wrote without purpose or form. I have to do this. I try to do it daily, even if just two sentences. And then I let it form into song when it needs to. I have to allow myself time to ponder. To wonder about things. To roll words and thoughts over in my head and my heart so that when it’s time to let it come out with a melody, it’s there to do so.
I gave myself a good amount of time today. Just to write. I tried not to get distracted by my phone – by social media, which keeps me connected to listeners when I’m not in front of them with a microphone and a story to tell.
That part is hard, too. But I gave myself time. Just to write.
And somehow, I felt lazy. Like I was wasting my day. That there were “things” I needed to do. Contacts I needed to follow up with to further my career. Shows I needed to book. Paid work I needed to acquire.
But if I don’t write, everything else is pointless. It IS my job. It is what I do.
I can’t write a song if I don’t work through things first. And just because this day didn’t end in a song written, doesn’t mean that work wasn’t done, progress wasn’t made.
But so little worth is given to that part of the creative process. You know, the ACTUAL creative process. People want to know what you have to show for it.
I want to know what I have to show for it.
But I have to let it be. Grow. Become whatever it will become.
My relationship to my creativity ebbs and flows. Like relationships with people.
It is the closest relationship I know, and one I have been grateful to become more in tune with and aware of over the years.
But it’s different every day. And today was a harder day.
Tomorrow, we begin again.

Hello, Love.

I’m currently sitting at a table on the sidewalk, outside of a coffee shop by the beach.
Hello, Love. Hello, California.

I knew how much I loved it here, and I knew I missed it badly, but it sure is reinforcement to come home and feel a rush of relief.

The past 8 months were amazing. I spent time with my family. I was there for my nephew’s first birthday. I saw my best friends from forever. I sang to college kids around the tri-state area. I flew to Europe. I played shows and saw amazing architecture and stayed with old friends I hardly knew and learned that I love, I met new folks and made new friends. I played in three countries new to Mary Scholz Music. I spent a time recording in London. I wrote every day. I drank lots of coffee and espressos. I ate baguettes and brown bread. I had yet another (but my first overseas) solo adventure. I spent Easter at Notre Dame with a woman I met in front of Buckingham Palace the week prior and became instantly friends with. I took trains and buses and metros and taxis. I ate crepes and biscuits. I slept on couches and in hotel rooms and at bed and breakfasts and in hostels. I carried my guitar and that giant suitcase and witnessed the kindness of strangers every time I reached a metro platform that only had a ridiculous set of stairs. I witnessed the darkness of strangers in harassment and heckling. But mostly, I witnessed the kindness. (That blog is coming)

I flew back to Philly and I was grateful for my time overseas, and grateful to go sleep at my parents’ home. I was there when one of my best friends had her third daughter.

I packed up my car. I drove from city to city, playing shows, being chased by the rain. Everywhere. I stayed with cousins and friends-of-friends and family-of-friends and perfect strangers and my closest friends from college. I camped and hiked and sang and danced. I slept on couches and futons and in spare rooms and tents and bed and breakfasts. I survived/loved fun shenanigans with Sarah, when our tours (purposefully) crossed paths and merged into one in the 5th week. I warded off anxiety attacks about being gone for so long and not having my own home base. I met so many wonderful people and shared stories and listened to their dream travel destinations. I drove 12 hour days and 10 hour days and played shows after them and pretended like I wasn’t exhausted. I loved everywhere that I was while I was there.

I GOT HOME.

I nearly ended up in that fire on the 15S, but I didn’t. I got home.

I haven’t been able to write much since my arrival – I think I’m just in a general state of relief and exhaustion. It’s the first time in YEARS that I don’t have the next 6-10 months planned out in full. (Don’t worry, I’ve got a few things planned – it’s just impossible to have an open calendar if you’re this gal) *side note, I’ve started a new song since starting this blog*

My main point is this – I am so grateful to every individual I have met and come to know in some way over the past 8 months. You’re beautiful. All of you. Thank you for sharing your homes, literal and figurative, with me. And Los Angeles – thank you for catching me when I landed.
It would never be what it is without the wonderful souls I meet, or the wonderful souls holding down the home front for me.

I’m going to go sit on the beach now.

Isis and Icy Driveways

Sometimes the self-driven life of an indie artist seems extensively trivial.

Like when you turn on the news and hear about the beheading of 21 people. Or when you realize you never really heard about all of the young girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Or that no one really talked about how on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo attack in France, 31 people were killed in a terrorist bombing in Yemeni.

And here I am, peddling cds and digital downloads and concert tickets and urging you to be excited about my next music video.

Feels a bit unimportant. Even though the goal is to connect with people and let them know they’re not alone. People are dying, and I’m singing.
Then you start to think, “What can I DO? In what way can I make an impact? In what way can I really, truly help?” And then you start to feel…helpless. At least I do.

I was thinking about it today, when I was out shoveling the snow from my parents’ driveway. It has been quite some time since I’ve had to deal with shoveling out, other than some brief moments over Christmas holidays, or a light cleaning off of the car on tour. Perks of being based on the Golden Coast.
But today was a beautiful, sunny day, and the snow was shimmering in the light.
And I was thinking about Isis. And the young women. And for some reason then, as I looked at a shovel-full of snow, I thought about 2008.

My father had to have emergency heart surgery and we had a snow storm. I remembered what a trying, scary time that was. And how our neighbor across the street shoveled out our driveway and sidewalks so that we could get to and from the hospital without thinking twice about the logistics of dealing with the snow.

As I came out of the memory, I realized I had stood up from that hunched-over shoveling stance and was smiling.

That was such a nice thing they did. I had forgotten. But at the time, I was so grateful. I then also remembered that they would take the trashcans in from the street for my mom over the next few weeks. Just small, but kind and unknowingly impactful things they did that made our lives easier when we needed it most.

So my mind moved to how important it is to lend a hand to your neighbor, your friend, and the strangers that pass through your life for a brief moment. Or be patient with the frazzled mother with the young kids who needs directions and is holding up the grocery line.
Be kind.
Be kind to yourself when you’ve had a hard week, and be kind to others because you really don’t know what is happening in their lives. And when you do know, be even kinder. Because the small kindnesses are not as small as you’d think, and that oh-so-talked about ripple effect is real. What would have happened if I had to dig out in order to get to my parents at the hospital? I don’t know, and I’m grateful. That was seven years ago, and though I can’t pointedly tell you how, it contributed to the path that I am currently on, and was a reminder for me, in the moment and today, about the goodness in people.

My brain snapped back to Isis. And I looked up at the neighbor’s house.
Small kindnesses. Do they change the terrible things that are happening in the world?
Not in the grand way we’d like to have things work.
But if the horror we feel about the hostility others are inflicting comes from an innate understanding of how we should be treating each other, maybe we can, at the very least, incorporate more of what we know we should be doing into our daily lives.

Because the more I stood there in the bright but bitter cold afternoon, the more all I could hear was a quote from a songwriter we call Jewel.

“In the end, only kindness matters.”

If that is the goal, then it can only happen if we are all conscious of it, and putting it out there into the world. Even if we aren’t the individuals directly fighting against those inflicting pain.
But each of us can fight hostility indirectly, and piece by piece, person by person, we can create a kinder world.

I laughed when I realized I had boiled my thoughts down to a quote from a song.
I’ll file that reminder away for the next time I am feeling like being a songwriter is trivial.
Does it ease the glaring awareness of my inability to be physically present, helping those kidnapped girls, or those inured people? It doesn’t.
But I know connecting with words and music is extremely powerful. So I’ll keep working to do just that. And I’ll remember to be kinder, in the small ways, not just the big ones.

2014

Holy cow, 2014. What an insanely busy, wonderfully exhausting year you were.

Album release, spring tour, fall tour, music videos, Susan G Komen fundraisers, HMMA nominations, radio interviews, album reviews, magazine interviews…and 19,650 miles of driving to get there. I’m tired just thinking about it!

It wouldn’t have been the year it was without my amazing friends and family – each concert attendee, each album reviewer, each venue booker, each host in each city, my spring tour mate and adventure partner Sarah Ault (I love you, lady!), my publicist Jorey Blake, each musician that joined me on stage (Sean, Jaydon, Brandon, Chris, Demetri, Hilary, Erin, Sarah, Sara, Phoebe, Kyle, David, John, Harold, Kubby, Sander, Paul), Elyse for lending me her keyboard, road buddies Alexandra, Mike and Ian, each photographer, radio station, music video participant/editor/filmmaker/crew (Jason, Jordan, V, Jessica, Sean, Chelsea, Matt), car repair shop and everyone I met along the way. You are the people that make it possible for an indie musician like me to have a year like I did.

I am so grateful for you all.

 

Special thank you to everyone who watched and fed my kittens (Chelsea, Tommy, Sheridan, Sarah N, Sarah A, and most especially Kevin!!) and to Alexandra for sharing the huge drive and cat wrangling with me from sea to shining sea.

 

 

Tour Withdraw

I’m feeling it, folks. I’ve been back in LA for a month now, after three months non-stop of driving and playing, and I officially have tour withdraw. The past few weeks have been filled with getting myself re-situated back in my apartment and trying to find a normal daily/weekly rhythm again. It’s been a strange experience. I truly didn’t expect to feel so strange upon my return!

 

As you know, I’ve toured plenty over the years – but never for that long of a period of time.

And now that I’m getting my feet back on the ground – I’m missing the road!

I miss the stages and the faces and all of the beautiful connecting going on with music.

 

I did get some pretty adorable kittens, though.

Dr. Livingston and Seattle – brothers who love each other and are named after two fantastic stops on the tour.

The whole country was amazing and beautiful and a reminder that there is beauty everywhere…

That’s all for now…

Tour – day 16

Have I really not posted since the album cover reveal? That would mean I posted nothing after the album release or release show – which was an amazing night.

 

The album was released February 18th, with a show at Bar Lubitsch on the 22nd (of course) It was a packed house and such an amazing night! My current tour mate Sarah Ault opened up the night and I had so many great musicians join me onstage for my set – Chris Thomas, Brandon Slavinski, Sean Keegan, Demetri Evdoxiadis, John Clinebell, David Sparrow and Jaydon Bean. 

Photo by Gianni Neiveller

 

Okay, so on March 7th Sarah and I packed up my little Mazda 3 hatchback for 3 months of driving around the country. We’re 16 days and 6 shows in and it has been a wonderful whirlwind. If you asked us what day of the week it is or what city we’re in, we might not be able to tell you. Thank goodness for calendars, phones and road signs.

I CAN tell you that it’s March 22d and we are sitting at my best friend’s kitchen table in Atlanta – we arrived last night after a packed two days in Orlando (we hit all four Disney parks in one day, then played a show the next), which was a follow up to New Orleans, Austin (SXSW), Phoenix and San Diego.

 

San Diego started with a Chris Trapper early show, then ours.  It was a wonderful night.

 Phoenix was the Hard Rock Cafe with a crazy great crowd. The sound went out before the last song so I got off stage and stood in the middle of the audience to close out the show – invited those sitting farther away to come closer and it got so quiet you could hear a pin drop. And me sing a quiet acoustic song through the venue. It was a bit like magic for me.

Austin and SXSW – that’s going to get it’s own post, I think. It was a crazy few days and the shows were great, but it definitely came with some mixed feelings after seeing that terrible accident. Musically, I got to do an impromptu set at Shakespeare’s Pub, then the schedued show at 219 West for the Hype/Hearo.fm showcase – it was a really excellent round and I had a great time.

New Orleans – Both Sarah and I were feeling under the weather so we were grateful for cloudy skies and a relaxed atmosphere. We ate some delicious food, listened to some wonderful music and slept while listening to the rain on the side of the house. Not too shabby. Our show was at Neutral Ground – the “oldest coffee shop in the south.” It was a really neat place with really enthusiastic listeners!  Sarah and I did this impromptu cover…

 

After a late show in NOLA we were up early for the ten hour drive to Orlando – five hours sleep and then fourteen hours in the parks at Disney! We had one day off and we made it count – hit all four parks in one day. Whew!

Okay more soon…. Love to all!

It started with a map…

 

So this is happening on my computer right now.

 

As you know, I’ve been in the studio since July working on the album. As you also know, we wrapped up production on it last month. As you may have heard, I’ve been planning the album release tour since September, and it’s beginning to take some nice shape if I do say so myself.

But what you probably don’t know is how these things get put together when it’s an indie artist like myself. So I figured I’d let you know how I fill my days, and how I end up traveling so much.

 

Usually the first question that I get from people when I talk about the album or tour is “How do you pay for all this?” 

To answer that – I work a lot. When I was just starting out in the business I used to try to act like I was making all of my money from musical pursuits, but let’s be real here – that’s not true. In a way it was – when I was living in Philly, my source of income was shows, teaching voice lessons and singing funerals for nearby churches. Out here, it’s performances, teaching voice lessons, waiting tables, transcription work, film production jobs, etc. Whatever it takes to get the album finished and the tour funded. For the album, of course, I did an IndieGoGo fundraiser and raised just over $5,000, about 1/3 of the cost of creating the album. And that’s doing it “on the cheap” with gracious discounts from talented friends and referrals. I am SO grateful for my generous donors because it lightened the load and made creating the album the way that I wanted to much more possible.

But if we’re being realistic, it’s just a damn expensive pursuit. So here I am, temping as a receptionist, writing this blog on my lunch break.

 

You can see why independent musicians (like myself) get upset when people think that they should get music for free. I’d love to make that music for free, too. But everyone deserves payment for their expertise – studios, engineers, musicians, instruments  – the list goes on. And that’s just production. Once that’s done, it has to be mastered. There’s design work. Photo shoots. Reproduction costs. Shipping costs. Promotion costs. Merchandise costs. It costs to put it up for sale online. It costs to run the website. It costs to have your domain name. It costs to copyright your material. Not to mention the usual – rent, food, phone, insurance, etc.

And without a label, all of that cost falls on the artist who, until a cd is purchased, is not getting paid.

 

This is not a complaint, mind you. It’s an explanation. This is the profession and life I’ve chosen for myself. One I Love with all of my heart. But there’s nothing easy or cheap about it. And sometimes I think people get hung up on the “glamorous” side of it. The things that I feel extremely lucky for, which is all of the interesting and different day-to-day experiences, the people I get to meet and the places I get to see. But while it may look like a carefree life, it is an extremely tiring road that continuously tests you. Not one of the beautiful musicians that I know is “living like a rock star.” They’re living so they can do what they love. And I find that to be a most admirable way to live.

 

The next question I get is usually “Do you have a manager?”

I do. Her name is Mary Scholz. 😉

 

“Well do you have someone that does your booking for you?”

I do. Her name is Mary Scholz. I currently manage myself and do my own booking, and have been working this way for the past 7 years. When I’m working on a tour, I map it out first, literally on a map, as well as a calendar, and then start contacting venues and booking agents in the cities I’ll be stopping in. Sometimes I’ll contact another songwriter from that area. Sometimes a friend will put me in touch with someone they know in a town that’s new to me. We work out show details, artist cut of the door charge, etc.

Then I save. Gas. Tolls. Food. Drinks with friends. The occasional site see cost.  And I rely on the generosity of the people who open their homes to me to cut out hotel costs. And I rely on the promotional work of the awesome fans in each city who invite their friends to come to the show. And that’s how I get to meet so many new people. And that’s how I get to sit on stage and talk about life, love, loss, loneliness and laughter.

And I’m GRATEFUL for it all. Grateful that I’m able to work. Grateful for the jobs that I acquire. Grateful that I live in a country where I, as a woman, may freely pursue the life I want to lead. Grateful for the talented artists who have donated their time when I was in crunch time crisis mode with the budget. Grateful for YOU because you’re still reading.

I’m not sure what my point is anymore. I look at that map and it is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It’s a lot to save for. It’s a lot to do solo. But it’s going to be amazing. I’ve got a publicist on board for this tour and already so many amazing hosts lined up for cities that I can’t wait to return to, and cities that I can’t wait to introduce myself to. And I’ve worked 9 shifts this week at three different jobs and I’m about to fall asleep.

 

And I think I just wanted to chat about what’s been going on in the world of Mary Scholz.

Did you make it through? You deserve a gold star. Also, I love you. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Mary and Her 2s…

Some of you may notice that in my posts on Facebook, Twitter or instagram, I will incorporate things about the number 2 or 22.

 

The reason for this is that I have found that through my life, 2 and 22 continue to appear. The second child born to my parents on the 22nd of September while they were living in their 2nd home. Named after 2 Grandmothers, both Mary. When I moved to my 2nd residence here in Los Angeles, the 2nd major city I’ve lived in, I wound up in an apartment on the 2nd floor of a building where they assigned me parking spot #22.

 

There’s more, but I won’t go on. Maybe it shows up because I’ve begun to take notice and so I just happen to see it because I’m aware. But I only started taking notice because it was there. And so the number 2 (and 22) is special to me.

 

For those that know me personally, or have been to one of my shows over the past 2 years (yes, 2), you have heard about my “Kodak922” photo.

Back story on the name: when I was in high school, I loved to take photos (not so different from now). It was a hobby I picked up from my Mom, who was always documenting family occasions. I love taking photos of people and events – capturing laughter, sideways looks, quiet moments and silliness. It further developed into a love of taking photos of the beautiful things I see everywhere. It is important to me to LOOK UP and take notice of how wonderful the world really is around me.

 

ANYWAY, in high school, I was the one my friends knew to count on for photos from events. They complained about me snapping shots, but let’s face it – I knew they’d be glad to have the pictures. And they always were. 😉

 

And so they deemed me “Kodak.” One of the few nicknames I’ve had in my life. So when I got my first email address (no, I didn’t have email until freshman year of high school) I used kodak922 and it’s kind of been my thing since. (Even my class ring, rather than opting for a music note on the side or some representation of band, theatre or chorus, I went with the camera.)

 

2 years ago I met a musician at NAMM (Tristan of Native June) who was doing a “photo-a-day” and trying to get others to do the same. I jumped on board but changed it up to better fit myself, and my reasons for participating were immediately obvious to me. I was in the thick of a really difficult period of my life, and I spent a lot of my time in a very stressful, upset fog. It was draining, emotionally and physically, and somehow taking these photos was a sign of hope for me.

 

So I changed it. Not one photo but 2. At 9:22pm, every day, my alarm goes off. I take a photo of exactly what I am looking at when I hear the alarm, and then turn the camera on myself and take a picture of me. The goal for the first year was a hope that by the end of the year, the look on my face would have changed. That I would be noticeably happier. Calmer. That even if things were still hard and stressful, that I could look back and see just how much progress I’ve really made, and to know that in another year’s time, I would be further along yet. Sometimes it’s hard to realize how much better things have gotten when they are still a struggle.

 

I also do it as something just for me. I share so much of my life on social media, which is a wonderful way to connect with my audience. But it’s nice to have something just for myself. Of course, it has come to incorporate so many of the people that I spend my time with, that there’s always a curiosity from friends of the outcome of the first year and the continuation into the 2nd. So I may put an edited, pared down version together to show. Maybe. We’ll see. 🙂

Looking back, it’s good to see the joyful moments. And no surprise to me, there are a lot of beautifully painful ones as well. Well, maybe surprising. Surprising to note that although it was painful, it was beautiful in it’s own way. For what it taught me. There is indeed, beauty in sadness.  The Beauty of It ALL.

So on this 2nd Anniversary of my life as an Angelino, wrapping up the 2nd week of fundraising for my album, 2 days before hitting the studio to start recording…I’m telling you about my 2s.

A look at one of the more intimate, mournful shots in the series.

(About a month after I started, at 9:22pm at the VH1 Save-the-Music Grammy party, I ran into that very same musician, Tristan Hendy…so here is my 9:22 of us from that night)

I’ll leave you with the 9:22 from last night’s rehearsal. I’m so psyched after hearing us play together and can’t wait to get started in the studio. Special thanks to Devon and Chester, pictured here, for their work. Making music with you is going to rock!