Patreon It Is!

Hi lovelies!  

It is quite (painfully) obvious that I haven't updated the Blog section in over a year! Gulp! Well, that's because I've been actively posting all updates to my Patreon Page. (Really, click the link! Here it is again just in case! Did you click it?) Patreon is a great platform that enables fans to become more actively involved in the creative processes of their favorite artists, and empowers artists to get paid. I absolutely love it, and you should check it out. I post raw recordings, TONS of poetry, videos from shows, and random journal-tidbits every week on the platform, and you'll see that I've really been quite busy this year. Like, really, really busy. I released a solo EP, and recorded a full-length album with The Seventh String, set to release this summer!

Much love,


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Austin Town

Well, sitting down to write this post, I realize how long it's been since I "checked in!"  I returned from Bali to Austin, to continue to work on recording with Stellar & the Seventh String. I faced the appropriate amount of culture shock, readjusting from an island to a city in the middle of Texas, full of big trucks and BBQ!  It took me about a month to feel grounded here, but that didn't stop Stellar and I from working our butts off planning shows and rehearsing to record. We've covered four songs so far, and can't wait to get the next four knocked out so we can put together a full-length demo album.   Our plans as they stand now, are to play a few gigs in Oregon and Seattle before returning to our home of homes in the California Bay Area.  

It's felt good to build off of the momentum of the fall, and I feel like spring always kicks us all into high-action gear. I'm looking forward to exploring the next steps in our respective journeys, and will be posting new music to my SoundCloud and Patreon pages soon!

Please enjoy a photo of the beautiful Texas wildflowers. Spring here is tremendous and the trees, river, and electrified thunderstorm air teem with life. 

Nasi Goreng

As a westerner traveling through Asia, I have been taught to regard eating here with a great deal of fear.  Not because of the food itself, but because of what could potentially be lurking in that food. We are reminded not to drink the water, eat raw vegetables, to be careful with meats, and to cross our fingers that we don’t contract salmonella, dengue, or typhoid fever while traveling in this part of the world.  Fortunately, I have been breaking all of these rules. Though I’ve been very careful with water (some things you simply don’t mess with), I’ve been eating meals every day that would be entirely off-limits from a typical American perspective. The restaurants here, and local “warungs,” break every food safety regulation I’ve ever come in contact with.  During my second week on the island, we in fact had to fight off monkeys that came directly to our table to steal our food. We watched as the waitresses and cooks grabbed their slingshots and pelted the animals nonchalantly, as they undoubtedly do every day.  I imagined the feces lodged between the primates’ toes as they stood on our breakfast table and devoured our toast.  Do monkeys have fleas? Were they offloading them onto my napkins? I gladly sacrificed the meal.

This encounter didn’t stop me from continuing to dine in these locales, however.  I’m happy to say that this was my only encounter with monkeys on the table, but many critters waltz around the dining rooms here, including roosters, geckos, and flies. My favorite dining option, and perhaps the most typical fare, is Nasi Padang. It’s essentially a buffet-style meal accompanied by rice that is cheap and delicious. I believe it originated in Sumatra, but has become a Balinese staple (“Nasi” means rice. One of the few words I learned. “Goreng” means fried. Hence “Nasi Goreng” = Fried Rice. Woohoo!!).  Essentially, one is served a fresh ball of steaming hot red or sticky rice, and offered a full buffet of sides to pile on top. Cassava greens, eggplant, egg, tempe, fried chicken, and curried beef are common. The price is determined by how many sides the diner chooses, but rarely exceeds 30,000 Rupiah, or $2.00. It’s oily, filling, and immensely flavorful. The thing about Padang that freaks those of us from the States out, however, is the fact that everything is prepared in the morning, and sits out, in a glass display case, exposed to the 80+ degree weather and a good number of flies for the rest of the day.  As someone who has earned her Food Handler’s License twice, and understands that cooked foods should not drop below room temperature for longer than two hours, this is terrifying.  But, as I brushed four flies off of my plate at my first Padang place, listening to the geckos coo on the walls of the little flourescent-lit restaurant, I took a deep breath and let go as I took my first bite, accepting that I would probably just be sick for the next 24 hours.  I popped a couple of charcoal pills in what I assumed was a futile effort, and accepted my destiny to contract dysentery.

I was however, perfectly fine. I felt great that day, and after every subsequent meal.  Indonesia did not disagree with my stomach. I learned to trust that though appearances could be a little nerve-wracking, the food here was good.  My favorite soon became another fried dish…. Pisang Goreng. Fried Bananas.  I’m not sure if I need to describe this much more than that. Battered, fried bananas served with palm sugar syrup and coconut cream for dipping.  They’re exquisite.  How can you possibly go wrong? Well… I was told that some of the street vendors put plastic straws in their oil to add an extra crunch to the batter, so the bananas don’t get soggy when they sit out, but that’s only a rumor…. right? Needless to say, I chose to eat pisang goreng at hippy-dippie cafes after hearing that one. I got a massage one night (for ten bucks), and after was served amazing herbal tea and two slices of pisang goreng. Life could not possibly have been more blissful in that moment.

The food here perfectly sums up my experience of Bali in general. It offers an odd juxtaposition of exquisite beauty and flavor, with a slightly grotesque quality. Fresh ingredients are prepared perfectly, but sit out for hours with flies buzzing round. Snacks are served on the backs of motorbikes. Dessert has a bit of plastic added to improve the crunch.  Durian fruits line vendor stalls and make the kitchen smell like dirty feet, but taste deceptively normal. One never really knows what to expect when ordering, or eating, and I love it that way. I felt that every meal had the potential to be an adventure, just as every day was ripe with possibilities. The colors, smells, and flavors feel more vivid, the cicadas, crickets and frogs echo and sing louder than I have ever heard in my life, and the skies brag with their beautiful sunrises.  This is a truly mysterious and strange place, and it is savory.


Gamelan Rains

After weathering a number of stormy days in Bali during Indonesia’s rainy season, I'm beginning to draw some conclusions about the weather's effect on the culture. The rains pound here with tremendous force, beating on roads, thatched and stone and metal roofs, bridges and temples. The sound of the deluge is alarming, and will drown out any conversation with ease. During a cloudburst, it is best simply to hunker down beneath a tree or in a cafe, let go, and listen to the maddening roar of the rain. I find this mesmerizing, and am grateful I’ve ventured here during the wet season.

It has also brought to mind a correlation between the weather and music of this place. The traditional Gamelan is played by an ensemble of men pounding hammers on metallophones, which are similar to curved metal xylophones, but make way more of an impression. In combination with gongs, drums, and a bamboo flute, the sounds produced are rhythmically and tonally challenging for the Western ear. This primal yet refined cacophony lays the stage for the brilliantly graceful and controlled dancers. It occurred to me, while being swept into trance by the rains yesterday, that the pinging and pounding of raindrops alludes to the pitching banging of the Gamelan, and it struck me that these unique percussive instruments could easily have been informed by the rhythmic presence of such powerful rains.

It may seem like a stretch, but If I have learned anything in Bali, it is that the people here have very strong relationships to the natural world. Many large trees, often Ficus and Banyan trees, have stone altars built at their roots, and are wrapped in black and white checkered cloths, called Saput Pelong. These represent the dichotomy of light and dark, good and evil, and the spirit residing within these natural beings.

In a land where the traditional culture maintains such a strong connection to the natural world, it seems befitting that the music would also reflect this. It takes little time to feel the songs of the rain in the chorus of the gamelan.

The dancers themselves enact the dramas of humans, the gods, and the forces of good and evil, represented often by the characters of Barong, the giant dog-like masked creature, and the Rangda, a terrifying witch figure. The soundscape of the gamelan lends a syncopated rhythm to the dramas, which the dancers either counter-act with their grace, or amplify with their ferocity. As a whole, the performances are rather raw, and confront basic themes about existence in an overwhelming exhibition of power, spirit, and life.

Ubud Sunrise

Greetings from Ubud, Bali!! The internet connection connection in this heavenly guesthouse where I’m residing during my four days in Ubud is rather spotty, so this post will be short, even though I could easily write forever.

I awoke with the dawn this morning, and lay in bed watching the clouds turn from indigo, to mauve, to white. I’m currently sitting in a thatch-roofed veranda overlooking a lush green jungle stretching down a river gorge below. I can hear the water roaring through rocks and roots. Across the way, a hiker makes his way up a chartreuse green hillside to a row of bungalows. The crickets and cicadas drone on uninterrupted, as a dove coos in a tree behind me. I kid you not, white and red butterflies flutter amongst the palm fronds and banana trees. This could not be a more idyllic setting were I to design it as a film set.

Last night, I attended a traditional Balinese dance theatre performance of Legong on a nearby temple stage. The Gamelan ensemble accompanied dancers as they enacted one of the oldest stories of the Mahabharata. I will have to write more about this later, but the spectacle was colorful, loud, beautiful, and confusing. :-) This morning I’d like to share a ritual of mine that I hav

e adopted. Every day, before doing much else, I open the Tao te Ching, flip to a random page, and allow the words to become the lense through which I experience the day. Today’s is number 23, and speaks to the necessity to open oneself to the Tao, universal energy, trust, and allow nature to guide. It feels very befitting, so please enjoy.

"Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
when it blows, there is only wind;
when it rains, there is only rain;
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.
If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and you can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.
Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place."


More soon, and much love from Indonesia, Laura

Taking Flight

I have been preparing for a pilgrimage over the course of the past six months. I’ve kept this very much a secret, and four days before departure, after obsessively following ticket-prices on Skyscanner, I finally booked my flight to Bali. Though I have been mentally prepping for this journey for months, I held myself back from actually purchasing my tickets and kept the trip entirely secret from those around me until the week before.

I’m not sure exactly why I’ve been so private about the intended journey, but I think it has to do with a deeply ingrained, though entirely irrational, sense of shame and guilt that I’ve built around my lifestyle and recent experiences. I will do my best to explain.

At the moment, I have absolutely no strings. No romantic partner, no job, no kids, no rent. There is nothing tying me to any particular place or any particular identity. I'm relatively used to this level of unending independence, and this personal space has always brought me a deep sense of freedom and inspiration. As I’ve grown older, however, and my friends begin to build cohesive, stable lives, either with partners or careers (or both), I’ve begun to doubt the validity of living this way. I notice that I often feel selfish in my endeavors and desires to pursue the artist's life. My internal fraud police never hesitate to rush in with the guilt and self-shaming, "What gives you the right to take a trip somewhere on my own, or to take a break from employment?" "You haven’t earned anything yet, have not accomplished anything grand, so what makes you think that you deserve to live a life that is this wide-open?"

This slew of self-criticism manifested itself in the form of guilt throughout my recent secret-planning process, and it seemed my ego was hard-wired to convince me that I should stay-put, sit still, save money, and close to the idea of a potentially transformational journey. Fortunately, in December a friend in Austin handed me the book “ The Art of Pilgrimage, The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred” written by Phil Consineau, and my egomaniac of a mind could no longer hold footing against the wanderlust that took root in my soul. Once I began to frame the travel in terms of a “pilgrimage,” the self-abnegation slowed. I was used to pilgrimages. They shaped travel, and gave one’s journey an intention. This makes all the difference. Though I have often struggled to establish intention in my career-focused life, intentional travel was always easy for me. Four years ago, I trekked across northern Spain, following the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrim’s route that has been traversed by seekers for thousands of years. Before the Christians established a route during the 9th century, Pagan travelers walked the stretch westward to Finisterre to give praise to a sun god. The walk was, and is, undoubtedly intrinsically sacred. Embarking on this journey from Santander, I carried no doubts. I was awake to the posibilities, and my soul yearned to find peace along the infinite stretches of green countryside. We followed the beloved yellow arrows painted on fence posts and pavement.

That pilgrimage was relatively easy to undergo, because the route was well-established, well-mapped, and well-respected. It has been difficult for me, however, while planning a trip on my own to Asia, to maintain a similar mindset. For some reason, I felt selfish in my endeavors. My wanderlust seemed like exactly that…. lust. A craving, a base desire. If I was not working toward something, how could this be worth anything? What right did I have to set out again on my own, leaving my community behind?

Reminding myself of the sacredness of travel, and the potent power of the traveler as an intentional seeker has been necessary throughout this process. In reaction to my overacting ego, I've planted deep spiritual and artistic intensions for this journey, whilst relinquishing any attachment to the outcome, and through this process, have felt my soul open and my ego fall silently calm. I have no idea what to expect, and am terrified by the fact that within an hour, I will be boarding a plane and flying across the world, to land in an imagined land alone. My mind is anxious, but my heart and soul are smiling. It is time to take flight, and allow myself to truly assume the identity of the pilgrim once again, humbly bowing to the divine and unpredictable powers of this planet.

Setting Sail

It's January 2016. As the New Year begins and I find myself amidst the buzz of resolutions and intention setting, I cannot help but feel inspired.  2015 was simultaneously a tumultuous and stagnant year for me.  After moving home to Santa Cruz to recover from the overwhelm of Los Angeles, I took a full-time job working in an office. I knew I wouldn't last long indoors every day, but I was able to convince myself that the stability would be helpful and the skills useful.  Though I lasted only a few months before the internal restlessness that has become my lifelong companion began gnawing at my consciousness, I was determined to make it work for one year.  Calendar marked, I settled in and survived. I vowed to keep my artist afloat as well as I could, but over the course of months of monotony and little sunlight, she grew weary. The flame that had guided me throughout my early twenties was beginning to dwindle, and I slowly slipped into a state of apathy.  I was wrestling with a number of other "big" issues psychologically, physically, and financially, so knew I would have to stick it out until my calendar year was over, even though I could feel myself fading into grey.  I’d been prescribed mood stabilizers after being diagnosed bipolar II in LA, and they sent me into a blurry-eyed state of emotional and intellectual lethargy.  Bit by bit, my passion for acting, playing, and creating subsided.  It was easy to ignore for a while, to simply exist in a comfortably less-than-fully-alive space, until a true moment of clarity smacked me on the head when I was traveling alone in Europe. I had taken a vacation to Lisbon, Portugal, in August, a city I had been yearning to experience for years. But when I arrived, I engaged minimally.  The hunger for experience that defined my personality and travel mindset was gone, and I wandered the winding streets of the gorgeous city without direction or desire. I recognized then, in the "city of light," that my spirit would die if I continued along the path I had chosen. It was time to leave my job.  I resisted. With all my will, I resisted. My fear manifested in the strangest ways, and I pushed off my resignation for nearly a month.  Community members told me to take my time, to stay if I needed to, but behind the screaming protests of my ego, I knew intuitively that it was time to get out. So I did.

I packed my bags as I had done so many times before in my pre-full-time life, and moved 2,000 miles across the country, to the wide-open skies of Austin, Texas.  With the intention to produce an album with a close friend, and no other plan, I settled in Austin and began practicing my much-abandoned fiddle. The transition was tough, and I was terrified in a way that had previously been foreign to me, but I knew the move was necessary. I needed space from home, and I needed to learn to trust myself again, to allow my inner artist to come out and play.

On the four-day road-trip with my Dad, I composed three songs. Within the first two weeks in Austin, I added another four to the list.  Finally, the muses were smiling upon me once again.  I felt everything shift.

It has now been a little over two months since I left my job, and in that time I’ve recorded four songs, been offered a paid studio musician gig, and performed three shows with Stellar, my brilliant band-mate, and the catalyst for my move.  Oh, and I went off one of my medications.  Finally, the grey fog that had been hovering overhead has cleared, and I know that I cannot not go back to the full-time prescription-supported lifestyle. At least not for a while. A long while. It is time for me to create, perform again, and step into ownership of my life and artistic endeavors. 

So here I find myself, in January of 2016. The year stretches before me as a curving blue ocean horizon. It appears pure and pristine, though I can sense far-off storms and maverick waves roaring. I have no projected income, nor clear path, yet I’m oddly unconcerned. I know that I have no choice other than to lift my sails, tune my compass, and set off into the open seas. I surrender to the powers that be, and give my life to the pursuit of creativity, spirit, and community.  I’ve not made any resolutions this year, other than to simply trust. Come alive again, focus my eyes on that endless horizon, do the work, and trust.