1. In middle school, read copious amounts of Sylvia Plath. Memorize “Lady Lazarus” and “Full Fathom Five.”
3. Fill a behemoth 3-ring binder with page after page of shitty poetry. You’ve also been reading Ayn Rand, so you write lines like, “Petrograd stands on skeletons, its roads are paved with bone.” Relentlessly share your poetry with your friends who don’t even pretend to care.
4. Realize that you are the only person you know in real life who voluntarily reads poetry. Eye the thin volumes on your bookshelf with contempt.
5. Stop writing poetry. Decide to become a novelist. Plath wrote The Bell Jar, after all. Never get further than the first chapter of your novel about the girl who has a tawdry affair with the moon.
6. While watching Vh1 (back before the invasion of reality TV), hear Bob Dylan singing “Like a
Rolling Stone.” Take the mental note: Music is the poetry for the masses.
7. With your first paycheck from your first job (cashier at the grocery store down the street; you
have to wear a demeaning red smock), buy an acoustic guitar starter-kit from a big-box music store.
8. Learn all the fingerings of the eight or nine chords charted on the single sheet of paper included
with your guitar. Find a stained Mel Bay guitar chord pamphlet from the 70s in your parents’garage. Learn three more chords.
9. Study no theory, learn no more chords. Refuse to practice anyone else’s songs.
10. Replace Plath’s The Collected Poems with Dylan’s Tarantula. Wax poetic about junkyard angels and back-alley prophets. After listening to Highway 61 Revisited a scrillion times, buy
from Ebay a Triumph t-shirt like the one Dylan’s wearing on the cover, even though you’ve never ridden on a motorcycle, let alone driven one. Dressing the part will be important—one day, hopefully.
11. Spend the next five years writing hundreds of songs you tell no one about. Deny it when your
mother asks if she heard you playing your guitar at 2am. Shove pillows into the crack beneath your bedroom door for D.I.Y. soundproofing. Convince yourself this actually works.
12. Stumble across a website devoted to Jandek. Read everything about him you can find and stay up for the next three days, too terrified to sleep because you’re certain he’s a psychopath waiting to kill you.
13. Write and record in your boyfriend’s parents’ garage an entire album of songs about Jandek
being a psychopath out to kill you. Mail this CD to Corwood Industries, Jandek’s record label. Also make a post about the album in the Outsider Music LiveJournal community you belong to(back when LiveJournal was still vibrant).
14. Begin chatting with the only person who comments on your LiveJournal post. Mail him a copy of the Jandek album. Continue exchanging music. Start recording songs together, emailing the tracks back and forth.
15. Get a letter from Corwood Industries with a letter inside telling you the album was good, and to keep writing and playing music. Also included: Two of Jandek’s CDs. Okay, maybe he’s not a psychopath. But then again, now he has your address.
16. Break up with your boyfriend and move across the country so you can move in with your musical collaborator. Start dating him. Don’t make any music together for the first two years you’re together. During that time, mention how bored you are at least three times a day. Repeat until he finally snaps, “Okay, okay! We’ll start a band.”
17. Say you want to play folk music, “Like Bob Dylan.” He says he wants to play rock, “Like
18. He will learn how to play drums. You will learn to get over your crippling shyness. Wonder if maybe you should be the one who learns to play drums. Even though you have no rhythm. The drum kit is good for hiding behind. He puts his foot down, says, “These are your songs, you have to sing them.” So you sing them.
19. Recruit on bass his best friend, who wants to rock, “Like Iron Maiden.” Wonder how this is going to work
20. In your friend’s living room, have one practice using your acoustic guitar before going to a
different big-box music store and buying an electric guitar and a used tube amp. Spend all the money you have on these two items.
21. Move your practices into a cockroach-infested storage unit that smells like sweat, piss and stale beer. Keep practicing, even when it gets too hot to breathe, you’re too tired, your fingers hurt and it’s not really fun anymore.
22. Name your band something that may or may not be a phallic joke.
23. Miraculously get a show at a dive bar downtown. Feel sick the two weeks prior. At the show,play five songs and screw up most of them as you fight the urge to vomit all over the microphone. Afterward, cry for three days and say you’re quitting music forever.
24. The following week, return to practice. Return the weeks after. Keep going.
25. Call your mom and unload your secret: You’re in a band. This makes it real. Repeat to yourself: You’re in a band. You’re in a band. You’re in a band.
Shae Krispinsky grew up in sub-rural western PA and graduated from college in Roanoke, VA. Now living in Tampa, FL, she is the singer, songwriter and guitarist for her band, …y los dos pistoles, contributes to Creative Loafing Tampa and is an aspiring crazy cat lady. Her work has appeared in Corvus Magazine, The Adroit Journal and In Between Altered States, and is forthcoming in The Writing Disorder. More at http://ylosdospistoles.tumblr.com.