Category Archives: Musings

Consume or Contribute.

I’m really lousy at Facebook and all that kind of stuff. Really lousy. Because I always want to say more than 15 words, but then I think about how what I want to write will get too long and no one will bother to read it anyway, and now, come to think of it, I’m not that interested myself, so why would I even try to subject anyone else to it… And so on. I’m a journal writer. Always have been. You just can’t say anything of substance without really taking the time to do it. I look at my neglected social media and just shrug my shoulders, knowing that I’ll remain just as anonymous online as I seem to be in person. I don’t mean that to be bleak, but it’s true. It seems like I have to know someone intimately for years before I feel like they really start to scratch the surface, and that’s just not a realistic way to socialize on a regular basis. I think this is a shortcoming. I may or may not get around to working on it.

This weekend was really a very thorough one. We played both days of the League City Uncorked wine festival. It was the “first annual” one, which is always the best occurrence of a festival–no one’s heard of it yet, so it’s not overrun with assholes just looking for cheap booze on their way to a quick lay. “Second annual” is hit or miss. Corners are cut by this point to save a few bucks. Something gimmicky is in the works to bring in more people. “Third” is generally insufferable. Then it usually either dies or it transforms into a new event. Either way I’ve probably stopped going. But this weekend was really enjoyable. I love going to festivals and arts markets and farmers markets at a performer, as opposed to being a patron. You kind of get to see the back side of it. John mentioned that you get out of practice at going as a patron–you forget you can’t just thwart the parking regs and use the “he told us you’d know” trick to get a better parking spot.

There have been a few times when we’ve gone to festival-type events as ticket-holding patrons and, to be honest, I don’t really enjoy it. It seems so directionless. You just pay money to get in somewhere and spend more money and consume and exhaust yourself and then leave. But you don’t DO anything. Nothing carries over into the next day and beyond except maybe a hangover. I’ve realized that I like these events when I have a job to do, but otherwise I usually just find them a little boring. And my free time has gotten so scarce these days that I get a little bitter if I have to spend any of it being bored. But when we’re there as performers, we really bond with the vendors. If it’s humid and there’s a low turnout, you know they had a low turnout too. If it’s windy and all your stuff is blowing around on stage and your hands and instruments are so cold it’s hard to play, they’re fighting their tents and finding some MacGyver-esque ways of keeping their wares from blowing around. I guess it comes down to bonds forged through suffering, but a suffering that you’re happy to do and that you inflict on yourself, entirely of your own volition. You have to be twisted to do that. And it’s a pretty good idea to go ahead and stick together if you’re that twisted.

After playing today and hanging around for a couple hours, we left the festival and I bought a new guitar. After playing the day before, we’d left the festival and went to Guitar Center just to look around and ended up getting a small snare drum for John to play with. But I also saw a guitar I really liked. The price was right, the tone was pretty and the look was perfect. So today, we made our way back there “by accident” and I decided to go ahead and get it. I reasoned that since I’ve been getting so comfortable playing bass and ukulele while singing, I might have better luck playing guitar than I have in the past. And by “have better luck,” I really mean I won’t get as bored and annoyed by it as I have in the past. And this one grabbed me. Even if it is a Gretch. I’ll look past that.

Gretch Round Neck Dobro

Maybe I’ll even get as good as that arrogant 12-year old that played the festival a couple acts after us yesterday. Heh. Nothing like growing up entitled. I assume anyway. I wouldn’t really know. But I digress.

My main goal today was to weed the flower bed in the front yard. Oddly enough, yard work and house work have started to feel like luxury activities to me. People mostly laugh when I say that, and follow it with, “I have a house you can come clean,” totally missing the point. Looking at the calendar right now, I see that I won’t have another weekend with no plans until June. It’s March right now. Unplanned time at home isn’t something I get to see very often. Maintaining my home and my yard often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list, and I get to missing it. And knowing that by the time I’ll have another weekend free for uninterrupted yard work, we’ll be well into a merciless Houston summer made me take full advantage of my free afternoon at home today. I weeded the hell out of that flower bed. I brought Omie out to the front yard with me so she could feel included since she gets left home alone so much. Between me and John, we made that yard look like we actually spend time working on it on a regular basis.

Our neighbors think we’re so stupid, doing our own yard work on our hands and knees like–gasp!–common folk. But I take comfort in the fact that they can’t possibly know the satisfaction I know. The satisfaction that comes from getting up early, hauling a ton of gear 45 miles away, setting up for a show, performing, breaking it down, schmoozing, loading it up, driving home, getting your hands dirty, spending time with those you love most, feeling your sore back and shoulders, and cracking open a cold beer in a warm shower. Nope. Ol’ Leslie and Pierre can’t possibly understand that feeling as they sit around stuffing their faces and having other people do everything for them. And to that I say good. Because they don’t deserve it.

But tonight my mom also called and said my grandmother is in the hospital. Depending on who you ask, you get a different account of what’s actually going on, but the most current information I have is that she’s stable enough that they’re moving her out of ICU tomorrow. She had a “small” heart attack, but we don’t know what that really means yet.

I have such mixed feelings about so much of my family on my dad’s side, but my grandmother has always been the one I understood and who understood me. Who took the time to. I know I’ve neglected our relationship. I can give every excuse in the world but none of them really add up to anything. I haven’t made the time, pure and simple. Hopefully I’ll know more about all this tomorrow.

Thanksgiving 2007

So many feelings this weekend. Each felt to their fullest extent. Maybe it’s a harder road–feeling things so thoroughly. But I have a feeling it’s better this way.


Success and Other Misnomers

I believe there are other ways of doing things in this life. Ways to be happy that probably don’t come anywhere close to the conventional definition of “success.” I’m tired of the way things are. I’m tired of being worried about money and things I own. I’m tired of trying to define myself within the confines of social media and the expectations of others. I’m tired of having to justify my decisions to satisfy the irrelevant opinions of people who only call me ‘friend’ in name alone. I’m tired of meaningless relationships and empty communication. I’m tired of manufactured crises and self-inflicted stress over issues of arbitrary importance.

I’m not interested in your opinion. This is the only life I have. Let me live it. You should have your hands full minding your own. If you don’t, then you have bigger problems than this issues of mine with which you so desperately feel the need to concern yourself.

The Barrenness of a Busy Life

A recent post in from the Tiny Buddha blog (Author Toni Bernhard) says exactly what I’ve been feeling lately.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” ~Socrates

Escaping Mediocrity

So that’s become my new theme I guess. Escaping mediocrity. I use it everywhere these days. It’s become such a resounding mantra for me. At the very least, a noble goal.

It just seems that the more I look around, the more people I see completely resigned to an existence that is completely lacking in substance. People who misprioritize, and concede to engaging in meaningless, shallow relationships. People who have no desire to explore their potential. Who are content to let life happen to them.

I’ve been reading Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, following a conversation I had some weeks back with my coworker Mark, during which he told me that he and his wife Shelby were decommissioning their Facebook pages because they didn’t want to be so beholden to that media anymore. He mentioned this book and I immediately pulled it up on Amazon and bought it.

I began reading it when John and I traveled to Eureka Springs, AR, at the end of last month to play a couple of shows. And I must say, despite the fact that I can’t seem to spend more than about 15 minutes on it at a time, everything I’ve read in it so far rings so true to me. When Mander described a typical office setting and used those characteristics to explain how sensory-deprived people are much easier to control and manipulate, I had to put it down. And then immediately pick it back up and make John read it. He really didn’t believe me that they pump white noise into the office “to eliminate distraction.” There are a lot of things up there that I can’t believe…

So this book and Mark’s Facebook retaliation got me thinking about this whole social media thing, and how I interact with it. How it’s affected me. I’d already decided that I rather hate my iPhone, and how common it now is for people to just expect me to be available every time they want to interact with me. How I’m now just supposed to answer every call and text and email and Facebook post and whatever else people can come up with as soon as they send it, because I’m of course doing nothing more than sitting there, hovering over the cursed thing, clinching it, just waiting to hear from someone. Which, for a while, I frequently was.

The irony is that I thought I liked Facebook because it helped me be social, given my introverted, highly sensitive tendencies. But in a lot of ways, it’s enabled me to be more anonymous. Because I can get to know people from a distance, and share things with others through a nice padding of cyber space, like passing an unsigned note through a hole in the wall. People I’ve friended from work, for example, who I still can’t hold a conversation with in the breakroom. In that same vein, I can sit back behind my protective shield and watch the goings-on of these fine folks from afar, essentially without their knowing. And still, on top of all that, I can’t really be honest with any of them. With actual friends/family because I might hurt their feelings or confuse them. With coworkers because I might step on a political landmine or somehow get myself in trouble. With venue owners or other musicians because there’s some unspoken rule that you never talk about the parts of being a musician that suck, especially in public settings.

In addition, as I’ve talked about with John, Facebook is so real-time, that it doesn’t really enable reflection and analysis. So I can’t really write honestly or share my feelings, because any expression I have is rooted in those very elements.

I haven’t been writing, and this bothers me.

Thus this blog that I’m not telling anyone about, but that I’m leaving public as a damn-it-all gesture.

I want to get back to a point where things slow down. Where I can just focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking has become one of my most perverse skills. And I feel like it’s changing me. The way that there are always 800 things flying at me at work. The way there are 65,000 media things to keep up with. The way that I can always think of 27 things I need to be doing instead of relaxing or reflecting. It’s created a lot of noise in my head, which I’m desperately hoping the writing will alleviate. Because my creativity has suffered immensely. And without creativity, we are damned for mediocrity.

So here’s hoping.