Last week I worked on getting the recording equipment set up for the One Take Project.  My plan was to get it all tested and ready to go, so whenever the mood struck and I was in good voice I could hit “record” and have something to show for it.  One of the good things about being married to a professional saxophonist is the panoply of audio equipment around the house.  Before he deployed, he left me instructions for a simple recording setup – the same one that we used about a year ago when he helped me record some demos to send to New York Opera Studio.  Since those were successful and I saw what he did, I figured that replicating his setup should be easy-peasy and get me a decent quality recording.

Easier said than done.  When I set it up like his little magic instruction sheet told me to, it was barely audible, even with the volume maxed out. The instrumental track got blown out of the water by my voice, and if I turned the level down enough so the vocals didn’t clip on the high notes, the accompaniment was inaudible.  Evidently the little stereo unit we used doesn’t get loud enough.  Somehow hubby got it to work last time – I credit his pro-touring-musician jujitsu (why, oh why, did I not take that “Music Technology” class in college?).

So ensued a two-day trial-and-error sound test which involved: 1) digging out an old amp, some unused, sawdust-encrusted speakers that I think husband was planning on putting in his hot rod, speaker wire, razor knife, and duct tape (y’know, just for good measure);  2) testing at least two dozen different combinations of speaker and microphone locations, master volume, and mixer levels, and places to sing from (directly in front of microphone=TOO LOUD and WOEFULLY clipped).  I finally got a setup that sounds halfway decent, so nobody is allowed to touch or move anything in my living room right now, even if it means you have to sit on the floor instead of a chair.

Evidently when I get a creative surge that occupies my spare time, other things get neglected.  Like cleaning the house.  And eating.  And personal hygiene.  Suddenly I flash back to a professor I had in college, who in every single class mentioned that Beethoven was so neglectful of his personal space that he had a series of apartments in Vienna that he lived in, destroyed, and abandoned.  This professor – who had amusingly Beethoven-esque hair – alleged that if you walk through Vienna, you’ll find easily a dozen buildings with placards on the front that say, “Beethoven lived here.”  (Going there in person to see if this is true for myself is on my bucket list.)  Another legend is that Beethoven once got arrested for being so unkempt as to cause a public disturbance.

I’m beginning to understand why.

When I was a kid someone gave me a pin that said “I’m not messy, I’m creative.”  The funny thing is, I do actually really like things to be tidy and organized.  But evidently, I stop caring enough to actually DO it when I can’t get my head out of a project, like a piece of music I’m enraptured with, or something I’m writing, or a cool summer sweater I’m knitting that I really want to wear before it gets cold outside again (time limit, people!).  For some reason I can keep it clean when I’ve got money or accounting or even webdiva-ing on my mind, but when I start singing and writing, or actually MAKING anything, the last thing I want to do is clean all the things.

The chaos really just has to build until I can no longer stand it, and then in a flurry of productiveness I spend a couple hours on a commando-clean to get things back up to a reasonable standard.  I tell myself that now that it’s all clean(ish), I will be diligent about cleaning things as they get dirty, and I’m usually really good at it for the first couple of days.  But then I want to go immerse myself in a project and it’s all I can do to just remember to take a break to feed myself, let alone clean up afterward.  I don’t really realize how much cleaning my husband does until he is not here to do it.

My husband tells me that I should get a maid.  But I’m a little concerned that if I do, and little magic gnomes start cleaning up my messes for me, I will forget how to clean things entirely and wind up like Beethoven.