Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Gig workers are back

Surprise! The amendment to AB5 passed at the eleventh hour and was signed by the Governor. I am once again free to write as an independent contractor. Hooray! While pondering my options should the bill have sat unsigned, I realized as much as I enjoy writing, I was still in search of my bliss. What can I do that would give the most joy? I took a look back at some beloved experiences; some attributes I had forgotten about myself; some detours I took down the road of life, and am now circling back on some of my favorite things, for instance my love of music.

I enjoy music in about every form. Of course, I have my favorites. When given the option, I usually choose classic rock, but I will listen to anything. I can find connection with most genres, from old time country to a newfound respect for rap (thank you, Lin Manuel Miranda). I tolerate jazz and find solace in classical. In my world, about every topic of conversation has a companion song lyric. (Just ask my friends.)

Early on I tried my hand at musicianship, which was short lived, and failed miserably as a vocalist. Along the way, I found my greatest strength as a fan of the language that is music.

The first time I picked up an instrument, I was in the third grade and tried my hand at the violin. I remember painfully scratching out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” repeatedly! But, with little support or encouragement on the home front, my time with my chin resting on the wooden instrument as I struggled to manipulate the horsehair bow was short lived. I am sure my mother was relieved.

After moving to a new school in the fifth grade I decided I wanted to play the drums or the trumpet. I met with the band director who found me to be a quick study in my determination to break out of the expected role of traditionally female undertakings. I now realize Mr. Jones used a bit a reverse psychology to fill an empty space in the back of his concert band. He said he already had too many drummers and didn’t need another horn player. While my new friends were playing the flute, the clarinet and the piccolo, I chose something a bit stouter. It only took the phrase, “Girls don’t play this,” for me to say “yes” to the tuba. For the next five years, I lugged the heavy brass instrument back and forth on the school bus. Unfortunately, it mostly sat dormant in my room. My lack of self-discipline was most evident when it came time to perform, but I slogged through in-school practice and managed to memorize marching pieces well enough to hold down the bass parts of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” and Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.”

The tuba is a concert instrument with a marching counterpart called the sousaphone. You are likely familiar with the wide belled instrument that coils around the player, carried on the shoulder and hip. In junior high, all that brass worked out to be about half my body weight. The middle school band director would let my friends take turns carrying the instrument for me between songs. When it came time for high school, I decided to give it up and join the color guard!

My love of music transcended far beyond concert and marching band. I was never without my transistor radio. A faithful listener to the top 40 countdowns, I spent my money on “Song Hits” magazine and memorized the lyrics of countless tunes.

Early on, I was part of the school choir but here is the thing: As much as I love music, I cannot carry a tune! This is not modesty talking. Anyone who has had to listen, will tell you the same. I had been told I sing off key so many times, I felt bad crooning for my babies, realizing they would never hear the lullabies in a key that would be able to recognize.

I now limit my singing to alone time in the car or home. I enjoy watching others sing, from professionals to karaoke amateurs, and send empathy to those who apparently do not have friends honest enough to let them know they should also be on the sidelines. There is nothing wrong with playing the part of audience!

My love of music tied nicely with the roadie I married in the late 80s, and after that relationship ended, a ten year career in radio cemented my life long affection for all things related to the industry.

And while I would be a contender on name that tune, I still could not carry one. And so, I shifted aspirations of singing to talking, my very favorite thing to do.

I found my happiness when I became a radio news anchor and reporter, co-hosting a talk show on the local AM dial and then as an on- air personality as half of the morning drive on the local FM station, (that was me, waking folks up each morning, delivering banter with my partner, reporting traffic, weather and local news, and running contests). It was not a surprise to anyone who knew me growing up that I was talking for living.

Believing I had exhausted my opportunities after a decade in local radio, I took a risk and made the move to newspaper, where I have been able to express myself in this column. Here I share my experiences about raising a family (my second husband came with five boys and I brought two children into the marriage), relationships, health, aging along with my take on local and world events.

While on the “AB5 sabbatical,” I realized as much as I love writing, I really, really miss talking, which brought me to an epiphany: Why not incorporate both and create a podcast? So, I did.

This week I launched “HollieGrams” — audio versions of many of the columns I have written over the last five years, as well as current observations. You can find them on Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast formats, or I will be happy to email them to you at your request. I hope they will help you look at things from a new perspective, put a smile on your face or a tear in your eye. It’s just my opinion of course, and the only promise I can make is you won’t ever have to listen to me sing.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as the host of the podcast Holliegrams available at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253/episodes. She can be reached at [email protected]

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