Black Fret

Black Fret is quite possibly one of my favorite things in the entire world. It is an Austin based non-profit that awards grants to deserving musicians to help further their careers. Some of my good friends have been nominees and recipients and I cannot say enough good things about the organization. It’s like my dream job. Scouting out talent and helping promote them and wanting them to succeed.

The co-founders are beyond cool. A coolness I strive for and will probably never achieve.

One of those founders in Matt Ott. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him on one hell of an acid trip.

I didn’t actually take the acid, but was tapped on the shoulder at Utopiafest, the brain child of genius Travis Sutherland, and when I turned around and said “what” and opened my big mouth, I got a dropper full of what I was guaranteed “the best shit ever.”

I told the ‘generous’ doser I did not want to be on the ‘best shit ever’ because frankly, I had already taken a bunch of drugs, but my friends in Golden Dawn Arkestra were on stage, so I figured I might as well ride the wave and hope for the best.

It was actually some pretty good shit. It just kept getting more and more intense. There was no way I was going to bed, and while my friends were telling me to shut up and go to bed, I kept on going.

At 11 a.m. as I screamed, “Sorry you’re a bunch of pussies. I’m going to see what that guy is doing. He looks a lot cooler than y’all lame ass bitches.” I know… how attractive. I walked over to a guy cooking  bacon and making bloody mary’s.

“Ooooh, can  have a piece of bacon?” Was how I started that conversation. I had on a onesie, I hadn’t slept, and I still had on a rainbow fuzzy unicorn hat. I was festivaling it up. My friends, who until 11 am had been on the same bandwagon, and I had come up with a saying, “It’s a festival, not a restaval!” But yeah, they were mailing it in at almost lunch Day 2.

Not only did I get bacon I got a bloody mary as well.

“So… what’s your name?” I ask the bacon chef.

“Matt Ott,” he replied.

“And what do you do Matt?” I inquired.

He ask me if I had ever heard of Black Fret, and seemed like he didn’t quite believe me when I said I had.

“No! I have! My friends have been your nominees. Wendy Colonna, Golden Dawn!”

He looked at my unicorn hat and ask me if I was the girl who had climbed on stage the night before.

“Yes! That was me. I don’t think Topaz is very happy with me…,” I mused.

We talked for a while and ended up Facebook friends.

Matt is awesome. I saw him the next year and he told me I looked a lot better when I wasn’t dosed and hadn’t been awake for about 48 hours. I politely agreed.

If you get the urge, check out the 2019 nominees. It’s quite a list of excellent and oh-so-talented musicians. They have lots of events throughout the year, and if you feel the urge you can donate too. Click here.

I had the pleasure of attending the Black Fret Ball at the end of 2018 and I was blown away. Some of my friends received grants and it was amazing to watch them on stage. Kalu and the Electric Joint, Los Coast, and Tomar and the FC’s, to name a few I can remember. Tomar and Los Coast were  20k recipients. Do you know what that can do for a band? A lot. Trust me. Who took me by surprise that I had never heard? Shy Beast. I was struck and in awe of them. The lead singer is adorable and quirky. And I quickly followed them on IG to keep up with their schedule. Who had I heard of but never seen perform until that night? Jamiee Harris. Also both 20k winners. I cannot wait to see where they go.

And for more information on the Utopian brainchild of Travis Sutherland, click here. Holding a festival is my ultimate goal. Some people want to run an Ironman. We all have our goals. Keep on dreaming on, and keep striving to do what you love. I am amazed and blessed to know the people I do. And I’m grateful for all the musicians and dream makers in my life. ❤

SXSW

South by Southwest. A, somewhat, okay, extremely pretentious event that lands around spring break in Austin every year. Most everyone in Austin complains about it. Traffic is worse than normal and crowds are crazy. But the music… the music is amazing. Acts from all over the world land in one spot for a week to be heard in the Live Music Capital of the World. And I was at home. Watching my news feed and having some serious FOMO.

I had decided to be responsible and was adulting all by myself up in DFW. And I can tell you, watching my newsfeed was torture. SXSJ {south by San Jose, yes, a Liz Lambert line up at her beautiful San Jose hotel where several friends were playing, including Black Pumas and Edie Brikell}, the line up at Lucy’s Fried Chicken, including my all time favorite, Barfield, the Texas Tyrant, and Cosmic Coffee and Craft Beer, where the likes of Ian Moore and many others adorned the stage.

And I was watching. One live stream after another and wondering why I had picked this weekend of all weekends to be an adult.

Because I’m still going through it folks. That’s why.

And I’m not a fan of crowds, I cannot stand not being able to find parking, and I don’t appreciate everyone in Austin hating on the visitors who invade their precious city. I had some adulting to do, and so I stayed home. And I’m proud to report that it didn’t kill me. Almost… serious FOMO, but it didn’t.

I woke up Saturday morning without my kids, with a newsfeed of “We’re playing here at {insert multiple times during a single day here}, and don’t miss our other 12 performances in the next two days!” And I was lonely. Really really lonely.

Missing someone I had dated and who had told me SEVERAL times he didn’t want to ever see me again, and that no, we couldn’t be friends because we had never been friends, we had always been more than friends. That hurt. And instead of serial dating, like normal, I needed to sit in that uncomfortableness. I had some serious looking inward to do and I didn’t like that feeling, which let me know I was onto something.

Introspection is hard. Looking at your faults. Where you messed up. Why you reacted that way. What you had done right. What you should repeat and what you should eliminate, is never fun.

Digging deeper. Where You felt justified. You had a RIGHT to be mad. Did you really? Could you have handled it better? Should you have walked away? Should it have ever gotten to that point, and if so, what was your part in it?

That sucked.

And then I’d glance and my phone and see Matt Hubbard or Eric Burton or Kalu or Barfield just killing it.

And I knew I had made the right decision.

Because I’m tired of making the same mistakes. I’m tired of getting the same results. And unless I work on my own thoughts and my own patterns and being comfortable with me, I’m never going to make a good partner.

And I had to conceed something to myself… as much as I want to be part of a couple, I get annoyed. Really easily. I get restless. I don’t like feeling ‘trapped’ and yes, I always seem to wonder if there is something better or waiting for the other shoe to drop or wondering why this guy I have put on such a pedalstal doesn’t feel the same. I have work to do before I can even think of being part of a whole, and any relationship I got into right now wouldn’t last.

So… I’m taking that time. For me. To heal.

And I’m going to Austin soon because the FOMO almost killed me and I need some good live music in my life. I need to dance to the beat of my own drum, wherever that takes me. As long as it takes me home alone at the end of the night.

Sidenote, at work on Monday two people in SXSJ tshirts walked in and I nearly tackled them asking how it was, who was their favorite, who did they see, was Liz Lambert around… yeah, addictions don’t just pertain to alcohol and drugs, they run deep with me.

Winning the Lottery

Today I was feeling desperate for a retirement plan, so I bought a lotto ticket for the 550 million power ball. My uncle always says it’s the poor man’s retirement plan, and I’m definitely on that plan.

It made me start thinking, what would I do with the 335 million cash payout. What kind of person would I become. Would I change for the better, the worse, would I ever feel the need to get out of my bed except to go from one exotic local to the next in five star comfort…

I think a lot about helping other people,  but I don’t know how I could. As someone who   battles addiction and the scars that come with it, I naturally want to help people like me. But how?

One of the 12 step sayings is attraction not promotion. At first I wondered exactly what they were talking about. I couldn’t imagine people being like, oooh, not drinking, that seems awesome! But they do. They watch from afar. And near.

I get text messages and Facebook messages and stopped at the grocery store and talked to in the carpool line. People are watching. I get, hey, I love your attitude with your ankle monitor, I’m really proud of you. Or, hey, good to see you haven’t lost your since of humor. And it’s nice. And always a bit surprising. I forget people are watching.  Because I’m just living. One day at a time. Yep. The total cliche. Somedays I don’t know if I’m going to make it. Some days I want to sit in a puddle on the floor and not get up. Sometimes I stay in that heap for awhile.

And somedays I laugh. And enjoy sunrises and sunsets. And work on the spiritual journey we’re all working on. I marvel at the creator I call God and what he does for me on a daily basis. He shows up. Over and over again. When I don’t feel I deserve it. You can call it God. You can call it a higher power. You can call it King of the Cheeto’s and Candyland, it’s all the same to me.

Call it a coincidence, call it whatever you want, but when I have been desperate, and gotten on my knees thinking all was lost, he shows up to remind me he has me, and he’s not going to let me down. I have to do my part too, I can’t just lie in bed begging for a 100k job to fall in my lap or to win the lotto, but when I do my part… miracles happen.

I was reminded of this the first time when I was in court for my felony DWI. My attorney had already warned me I drew the worst judge. And she was handing out jail time left and right that morning. For things like, a little bit of pot. I had a felony DWI. Let’s be honest, I had a felony DWI and a little bit of pot.

My sponsor had told me to go to the bathroom and get on my knees and pray. That even if I didn’t believe, just do it. And I did.

Right before the judge called my name she was madly reading through papers. Banging away on her computer. I wondered what on earth she was doing, when suddenly she called my name. My attorney warned me to be prepared to do a week or two in jail. He also told me not to cry, which, is practically impossible for me, but I was somehow managing. My stomach was doing back flips and I felt like I might die at any moment, but I was managing. Barely.

“Mrs. Matthews?”

“Yes judge,” I meekly replied.

She went on to tell me that she had been going over my case and she could tell I had had  a bad year.

I nodded.

She went on to tell me that she didn’t need to lecture or scold me because I knew what I had done, and I knew it was wrong.

More nodding.

And she sentenced me to 96 hours of community service and four years probation.

I felt like I saw Jesus walk on water in front of me. And yet, months later I continued to screw up. Continued to push the boundaries. I begin to wonder if I would ever learn.

Slowly. I’m starting too. Change is not easy. It’s difficult and uncomfortable and it sucks. But I’m doing it. Little by little.

Flash forward to two weeks ago and almost 10 months of consecutively not drinking. I get a letter in the mail saying my car insurance was going up from $386 to $815 a month. Now… my ankle monitor is $379/month, breathalyzer $65/month, special DWI SR22 insurance, $85/month. Court cost $210/month. Being a felon is not cheap. Throw in weekly random drug test… This shit adds up. And I don’t have the ability to afford $815/month for one of my insurances. My insurance company told me to call Progressive and Geico.

And I did. And was denied. I called 23 insurance companies. Do you know how long it takes to call 23 insurance companies and explain that you are a bad driver even sober? I had two wrecks in two weeks in July. Both my fault. One leaving an AA meeting. I am easily distracted. And working on that.

It came down to I was going to have to give up my license last Friday. It’s not like I could scam the system, I have to show insurance to the people at my breathalyzers. And to keep my occupational drivers license. And I have a camera in my car that records every time I start the car, so it’s not like I could be all, oh, I’m not driving… no.

I was in a full blown panic. I needed my license. And every place I called either denied my or said it would be between $700-1000/month.

I got home from an AA meeting and I got on my knees. I had one number left to call. I prayed to God, I ask for help. I was doing the right things. Not drinking. Not doing drugs. I was taking any job I could get and grateful for it. Please, I begged, please don’t take driving from me. I’m trying as hard as I can to do better.

I got up and called the last number. And they took me. And they charged me $236/month, $150 less than what I was paying.

Coincidence? Maybe to you. I know that was God saying, I got you. I show up and I’m here for you. Keep doing the right thing. I know you want a better job. Keep being grateful for the one you have and we’ll see what happens. Do your part. Show up. Do your best.  Stay out of self pity because you aren’t changing the past and you don’t know what the future has in store. Keep going. Don’t ever give up.

And it keeps me going.

I’m probably not going to win the lottery. Although… I did my part and bought my ticket.

So how can I help those still suffering? I can listen when they reach out. I can share my story, and I can let them watch. Near or far. Attraction not promotion. I was a mess. My life was an absolute train wreck. Somedays it still is. But as long as I don’t drink, and do my part, I can pretty much guarentee I’ll be following asleep in my bed and not Tarrant Or Travis County’s.