Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what's in a name?

I think about names and titles a great deal. Words are so yummy and complicated and ripe for the picking in my world, and I like to feel connected to the ones I choose. This is the very reason I suddenly found myself contemplating a name change for my blog. Lola Rain Photography was short and sweet, it provided you with the pertinent information and everyone kept telling me that they liked it the way it was. But, it wasn't rich enough for me. I felt no connection to a simple, informative title. So I began exploring words, feelings and personal delights that say something about who I am, what I think about and what I want to share. I was also looking for this new title to refocus me. I felt like I needed a fresh start...to revamp, redesign, and redirect my artistic energies. The longer you follow me, the more you'll understand that I go through periods of complete calm and complete restlessness. I love to and need to change---myself, my aesthetic life, my surroundings. (All with the exception of my husband that is!) So I set out to revamp my blog and I honestly do feel more connected to it now. The design, the title change and the direction of my writing feels more genuine and more like me. (Thank you Hannah for the inspiration to overhaul my blog!)

But before I say anything about Lola's Bohemian Rain, it occurs to me that some of my readers may not even know where the name Lola Rain came from (for those who don't know, my real name is actually Alexa). So, starting at the beginning: Lola was a nickname given to me by my sister years and years ago. I had always been called Lex, Lexi, or Lexa. Those nicknames snowballed into the distinguished "LoLita LoLexa," and shortly thereafter it became a more simple "Lola." For whatever reason, this was THE nickname of ALL time! Even casual acquaintances took to calling me Lola.

The nickname was a small part of my life until a few years back when I decided to finally learn to play the guitar (something I'd wanted to do my whole life!). I signed up for classes at Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco where I found a new circle of friends and a guitar teacher who released my inner rock star. After just a month of lessons I began to write songs, which came naturally given my affinity for writing and my intense love for music---putting the two together was ecstasy. At any rate, I immediately penned a pithy little ballad the minute I knew more than 2 chords....but, then it occurred to me: if I wrote songs I would have to perform. Now THIS was NOT something I had anticipated being part of my guitar experience. I somehow figured that I would sit quietly in class, unnoticed, only practice when no one else was around to hear it, and I'd certainly never sing in front of anyone (even though I've been in love with singing all my life).

Everything changed when I casually told my teacher that I had written a song, because coming from a world of performance his natural reaction was "let's hear it!" My face was red and sweaty, my hands trembling, my fingers fighting to keep my pick in their grips.....sheer panic. I have never been comfortable being the center of attention, nor have I EVER been comfortable being imperfect in front of an audience. But, I did it! I opened my mouth and a smooth, natural voice trickled out as I strummed my peppy chords.

A new girl was born that day, and her name was Lola Rain. I suppose the psychology behind my "stage name" (later to double as a pen name and triple as a photography persona) is that I needed to create an alter ego in order to blossom into the performing, outwardly expressive, bold artist that I had always longed to be, but was too terrified to let out. I could almost force myself to do things that scared me with the rationale "well, I personally could/would never do that, but Lola Rain would." It worked. And my life has changed dramatically.

"Rain" came from the expression "when it rains it pours," because I find that nothing in my life ever happens "just a little bit." It pours---whether it is a storm of good, or a storm of bad. It's life. And during those first few months of playing guitar, I really identified with that phrase....and so: the name.

To finish off this evolution of names, I recently decided upon Lola's Bohemian Rain as my new blog title as a tribute to the way I shower my life and surrounding world with my Bohemian spirit and energy. When Lola Rains on you, she pours on you. As for the term "bohemian," I feel like it has become nothing more than a style of clothing to most people these days (think Mary Kate Olsen, Sienna Miller and the many other "Boho-Chic celebs), but that "look" is simply a mimicking of an old way of life. More accurately, a Bohemian is an artist (writer, painter, musician, actor, etc) who secedes from conventionality and society in both lifestyle and art, while practicing free love and frugality (and many times voluntary poverty as well). They are often gypsies, adventurers, or vagabonds.

There have been many waves of Bohemian culture from 19th century France to the Beat generation and the Hippie counterculture of the 60's and beyond. And this lifestyle is something I am naturally drawn to.....I tend to avoid and resist a conventional life, I would rather be poor then work a job that doesn't allow me to express myself artistically, and I am simply off in my own world that I've dreamt up and am living out as a reality. When it comes to art, as my husband says, "name an art form and I can almost guarantee Alexa has had her hand in it and has something to show for it." That's a story for another day! For now, take a look below and you can get a sense of some of the things that make my Bohemian blood flow.

Self Portrait

Abstract "Body"

A larger version of the days of doodling in class

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