Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Freebies: Birthday Postcard giveaway!

As promised, I’m going to hold another 6-postcard drawing, this one to celebrate my birthday, which is today!
Post a comment on ustravel.today.com or drop your entrecard between now and Friday, August 22. ONE lucky winner will receive a packet of 6 randomly selected postcards from my travels. You can ask to have all six […]

Originally posted to Life on the Road. Read the rest of the entry there!.

Freebies: Birthday Postcard giveaway!

As promised, I’m going to hold another 6-postcard drawing, this one to celebrate my birthday, which is today!
Post a comment on ustravel.today.com or drop your entrecard between now and Friday, August 22. ONE lucky winner will receive a packet of 6 randomly selected postcards from my travels. You can ask to have all six […]

Originally posted to Life on the Road. Read the rest of the entry there!.

Another Wake Up Call

Today’s my birthday. It’s 7:30 in the morning here in Portland, and I’ve already had the best birthday.

My hostess’s cat joined me in bed this morning. Nothing quite like waking up to a charming little black furball curled up at your feet (except, of course, having a fiesty grey stripey furball laying on your head).

I dozed in bed for a while. Then, ten minutes ago, my phone rang. Sadly, I had not anticipated this happening (though I should have) when I plugged my phone in last night, so I had to get up and walk across the room to answer it. Boy, my feet are sore from tromping around Portland and attending the wonderful wedding last night!

The call was from my sister, and she and her 2 wonderful children sang Happy Birthday to me at full, wonderful volume (plus “Charmin– cha cha cha” for some reason– would someone teach that kid “and you smell like one too”? His birthday’s next week– surely there’s an opportunity if ever I saw one!)

Upon hearing which time zone I was currently in, my sister shrieked an apology and promptly hung up. But it really was a wonderful way to wake up on the morning of my birthday.

Yesterday, we went to Powell’s and I bought presents for my nephew’s birthday (to be shipped out tomorrow) and a couple of small books for myself. I know, I know…. buying moratorium, no space, just got rid of seven boxes of stuff from the RV…. yada yada. But they really are small books, and they were both used books, which means they do not violate the “don’t buy anything new” rules (the rules are not to buy new stuff, but food and healthcare items are OK, as are work things and digital, non-impacting things). The books for my nephew were not used, but they were inexpensive and really, really enjoyable, I think. Plus, I found one of them in a remaindered section on sale after I’d already bought the brand new, non-remaindered version for $20 more. I exchanged them and bought him an additional book with the extra money.

Since he might read this blog, I won’t post what the books were, but I’ll say this: one of them was completely panned by the Library Council on Amazon.com, but all the reader reviews gave it 5 stars and said “listen to the boys on this one– it’s a great book!”

Later today, the plan is to have mimosas here, then head up to a cupcake bakery for cupcakes at 10. My hostess will then be heading off to her busking job, while we go play around Portland for the day. Anyone in Portland wishing to join me for the birthday cupcake is invited! Be at Saint Cupcake at 407 NW ave and Flanders at 10 AM this morning.

Finally, I wish everyone a very merry un-birthday today!

Stealing Music

A friend of mine is a musician, who plays at weddings, events, clubs, and in public street performances.

Today, she gave me a wake-up call. We were talking about some of her frustrations with work, and she said that she absolutely hates it when people video her, almost universally without permission. But also, she glares at those who, as she put it: “stop, and listen for a while, and then walk away, without putting anything in the hat.”

“Wow,” said one of my other friends. “I’ve done that!”

“Oh, what a relief!” I cried. “I do that all the time!”

She looked at us both, her eyes wide and almost wild. “Don’t you understand? You’re stealing music!

Now, I have been thinking about this all night, and she is right, at least insofar as I should throw something in the hat. I would probably glare at someone photocopying my book in a library (though perhaps I should make a distinction between stopping for a minute to listen to part of a song, and stopping for several minutes before moving along). But my readers are separated enough from me that I am unlikely to ever come in direct face-to-face contact with them unless deliberately arranged.

In thinking on it, I realized that the main reason I walk away is because I never carry cash with me. If I have cash, it’s in the form of some change or a $20 bill. I spent my cash quickly, so all I usually have is receipts and lint in my wallet. Plus, I do not like taking my wallet out on the street. The cash and the “not taking my wallet out” both stem from fears about being mugged (and, frankly, having been assaulted, my fears are neither unfounded nor overly paranoid).

I mentioned this to my friend, and she said “then you should write a note. Or throw in a small something– a post-it, some gum, something. We just need the transaction to be complete, to feel like karma is served. I have a whole drawer of “stuff” that would probably have had no meaning or value if it wasn’t thrown into my hat during a performance, but which now is precious to me.”

Wow. I thought of all the free tchotchkees I’ve thrown away over the years, the trade show swag that ends up in my purse or bag and weighs down my post-conference luggage until I’m ready to cry. How powerful would it be to take the stupid “Taking the Stress Out of DITA” stress ball squeeze toy, and turn it into a treasured gift that a musician would appreciate and value solely because it was deemed an equal trade for the pleasure their playing brought to someone else.

I thought of all the stuff I carry in my purse– was there room for something more, some little special something I could share with whatever street performance I might encounter in my travels? We haven’t encountered any in a while, but surely that will change. Surely, if I carry a toothbrush in my purse for “just in case of dental emergency,” I can bring something to cover the price of admission to the “just in case musical performance.”

When I return home, I have a small sturdy plastic envelope of tiny origami papers that I’m willing to toss into one of the many pockets of my purse. It can stay there for a week or a year– it matters not to me, but when that moment comes and I find myself listening appreciatively to a violinist or a guitar or even the wacky guy who drags his piano out onto the street in Santa Cruz… I’ll be ready. It might not be legal tender, but I’m willing to trade a handmade origami bunny or crane for a sweet song and a smile.

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