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Late Walks and Real Life

June 22nd, 2011

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have had no need for something like music, and when I think about that kind of stuff, our culture seems pretty removed and silly.  But my thinking is starting to change. It’s built into us to connect with the world through our senses, and while there was no music in prehistoric times, there certainly was sound — and sight, taste, touch and smell.  There is nothing inherent in us that needs art, or music or anything like that.  We only need to connect with things bigger than ourselves through our bodies for the purpose of staying psychologically whole.

Music is just one example. I go for a walk with my MP3 player, listening to The Flaming Lips’ “Transmissions from the Satellite Heart,” and the sounds vibrate all these parts of my brain that are normally dormant, because I’ve built a connection to this record. I’ve also built a connection to the nighttime, the quiet city-neighborhood environment, the smell of new rain, the color of streetlights, and the feeling of freedom that forms when you combine a pair of earbuds and a pair of functioning human legs. All of these connections are a result of my life and how I’ve lived it. They are all positive things that contribute to my mental health. They are things that make me happy and do a little bit to keep me going. They are also the result of me psychologically anchoring my solitary experience in the world through indirect, abstract expressions of humanity.

I’ve gotten into the habit of judging an experience like this as not good enough, too detached and generally bad for me. The logical process spins out of that place in my brain that feels a persistent sense of alienation, despite the ways I anchor myself: My life feels lonely and isolated and unhappy, and I connect that with being detached from social life, and then go on to judge anything that is not social as contributing to loneliness, isolation and unhappiness. I’ve felt like I was enabling the loner in me while my people person whithers away.

Long walks at night with headphones can only do so much. It’s easily the kind of thing I cling to over and over again, only to wonder why it no longer carries the same spiritual weight it once did. But now I also know that when my world is crashing down around me, something so simple and solid in me as the pull of a song can keep me feeling like me. It’s important in dark times to pay attention to those things that keep you alive. They got you where you are right now, even though at the same time, they got you where you are right now. That is, no matter how bad things are, there is always something keeping it from getting worse.

I guess the cliché phrase is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” although that phrase rubs me the wrong way. Being at peace with all the ways that my isolated self comes to seek wholeness will give the atrophied parts of my soul the room and freedom to exercise and grow. There is nothing wrong with being the kind of person who looks inward to find meaning and there’s nothing wrong with the means of seeking introspection and positive inwardness. I’m learning not to judge my experiences or emotions. In each moment there are plenty of signals that point us in the direction we need to go, although it’s easy to get distracted.

My brain has been trying to tell me things for years and years, but I thought I was smarter than it. I’m finally starting to listen, and now we’re getting along pretty well.

A few of my favorite things.

May 8th, 2011

Memento Mori

June 29th, 2009

Memento Mori means “remember death.” Take any cues from the natural world and extract the morbid symbolism from it.  Feel small and human.  Use that as the backdrop for your existance.  In classical painting, this meant dark canvasses of skulls and candles.  For me, I look at a musician on a stage, in the middle of a guitar solo, or singing, riding the poetic space between the mind and the body, and I think about how that person, someday, will rot in a box.  I talk to a friend, watch as their eyes meet mine, note the facial expressions, muscles moving, sparked by ideas, passions, pain, joy, laughter, and I think about how our bodies can’t sustain our spirits.  Eventually, our bodies give up, and leave our spirits to fend for themselves.  This is not a depressing thought, because the reminders of death are staring me down in the form of life.  I look around me and I’m filled up by the fact that I’m sharing this moment with other living people, and at the same time I’m disgusted by how people cheapen existance.  There’s no shortage of ugliness.  Take your pick.  War.  Rape.  Manipulation.  Consumerism.  I walk down the street, lonely as hell, knowing I’d be better off if I was a part of the problem, but I put those thoughts away because I know it’s not right.  And I go on because death is automatic.  If you have to work, and push, and struggle, then it’s a sign of life.

I wasn’t doing very well a year ago.  I still feel like I’m not.  I still live with myself, use myself as a springboard, scapegoat and punching bag.  But there are people who are a part of this post, who might remember me mentioning this stuff, and those are the people who make me feel like I’m connected to my own existance.  My friends make alienation tolerable.

What to sacrifice in these dark times

March 12th, 2009

Here’s a list of things that I allow myself in life, and the things I’m sacrificing to keep them.

I get:

  • Time.  Plenty of free time to do what I want.  Sometimes that means laziness, others it means being creative. I never get up before nine. I get a three day weekend every week.
  • The following things are always on hand at home: cheap beer, frozen pizza, breakfast food, and coffee. I eat like shit and I know it. I probably drink too much. I’m impatient with food.
  • Trips to Caffetto if the walls start closing in. If you don’t go out because you’re trying to save money, going out for coffee is a good alternative
  • A band to play shows with. This is a good alternative to a social life, and a lot of times, you get a nice package deal: you get to go out, see a show, play a show, and you get paid a little. Plus playing and practicing with other people forces yourself out of your own head.

I lose:

  • Income.  I haven’t paid rent this month yet.  Car insurance is due. I don’t save money.  It’s out the day it comes in.
  • A social life.  I don’t care what people say.  Love costs money.  I don’t go out to eat. I’ll go to a show to see a particular band, but I’m in no position to be buying anybody their drinks. I don’t do dates. Every person I’ve ever been with, we just skipped that part and went right to “relationship.” I try to be nice to people but sometimes I come off as rude or anti-social. I don’t play games and I’m not going to be someone I’m not or try to get you to like me. I try to not try too hard. I’m alone in this world and I’m trying to accept it.
  • My passenger seat.  It had to come out because my driver’s side door is stuck shut, so I had a choice: pay to get it fixed or find some other means of getting in and out of the car without giving myself a new bruise everytime. (Delivering pizza, you can easily get in and out of your car up to 20 or 30 times a day.) There’s also no air filter in my car and it’s leaking oil somewhere.
  • My mental health.  I’m not clinically depressed.  I get depressed when I get tired of fighting for my own well-being.  I get bitter when I look at society and see the kinds of work that gets rewarded and the kind that gets overshadowed.  I get upset about how successful people use their resources.  And I hate that there’s nothing you can do about it unless you become one on them.  Lately I’m reading way too many people’s facial expressions toward me as saying “fuck you, I’m better than you.”
  • Hope for the future.  I tell myself, if I’m going to be living like this the rest of my life, then who cares about saving for the future?  If this is my plateau, then maybe the end is something to look forward to.
  • Material possessions, family (breeding) and empowerment.  These are things I never much thought I’d have anyways.  I always figured that by forfeiting my chances in these areas, it would open up for me those avenues which I wanted to go down.  I was wrong.

Is it worth it?

When trapped at home becomes productive.

February 15th, 2009

As I’ve been recovering, I made it a point to “get somewhere” with regards to the unfinished business piling up in my apartment.  The Law and Order episodes all started to blend together and I was afraid my muscles would atrophy.  I started chipping away at my taxes, and trying to find all of the expense documentation for Exits + Obstacles.  I was really disorganized as that project came together.  I made some progress managing clutter, and finding things to throw out.  I have a bunch of books I don’t need, and I’m thinking there’s gotta be a place to donate them to.

I also designed a cover for what could be the next CD.  Not that one is definitely in the works, I just got a cover design idea.  I do have a handful of tracks I feel pretty good about, and I could say I’m working on a new CD, but I’m in no hurry.  As soon as I get tired of the tracks I like now, I’ll be motivated to write and record five more.  Then I’ll probably design another cover, rediscover the old tracks and decide it’s a project, only to record new stuff right up to the end to make me want to ditch half of the older stuff anyways…

The bronchitis is almost gone.  I can sort of talk again.  Now I’m broke from being out sick for two weeks.  It’s time to find a second job, if any exist.

Bronchitis Days

February 11th, 2009

Below is a list of what I’ve been doing the past week and a half.  I’m getting a slight hint that I may be recovering finally…

  • coughing.  a lot.  uncontrollably at times.
  • drinking NyQuil, Sprite, ginger ale, orange juice, etc.
  • watching stuff online with NetFlix.  I got through the entire sixth and seventh seasons of Law and Order SVU.
  • trying to clean up my computer and organize my photos.  it didn’t work.
  • searched for animal pictures (foxes, red squirrels, opossums and wolves) for my desktop background.  Here’s the winner.
  • writing music on Sarah’s piano.  nothing permanent.
  • trying to sleep, but waking myself up with my own coughing.
  • I cleaned off my counter.
  • tried to work on my taxes, but I got a headache

This sucks.  I want it to be over.

Illness, Income

February 6th, 2009

I got sick a couple days ago, and I quickly stashed myself away in my apartment with cans of chicken soup, orange juice, ginger ale, tea and old law and order episodes.  It’s not really working.  I missed two days of work so far.  I was supposed to start practices with a new drummer today.  And I really wanted to go to the Bedlam to see Bouncer Fighter tonight.  After I pay rent (which is late) I’ll have $5 in my bank account, and I spent all my cash on cough syrup and echinacea.

I’m not very healthy right now, which is why this cold is kicking my ass.  I’m living on less than $1000 a month, which in theory, should cover everything if nothing goes wrong.  But I’m running my health into the ground living on pizza slices and trying to force a social life.  I’m running my car into the ground with my delivery job.  I have a good amount of time and I’ve been pretty productive lately, but being productive isn’t everything.  There’s no balance in my life.  The times I’ve been healthy, I was uncreative.  When I had a full-time job, I didn’t worry about money as much, but I was depressed and restless.  Instead of living a balanced, well-rounded life, I jump between different states of unbalance.  Right now I have just enough of what I want, and I’m sacrificing just a little of what I need, and as a result I can’t tell if I’m just digging the hole slowly or standing still.

Do I need to blog about it?

January 30th, 2009

I can’t sleep and I’m being bombarded by negative thoughts, and I’m compelled to do two things.  One is physically harm myself, and the other is to express my mental state on this wasteland of social networking new media bullshit.  Life 2.0.  I decided, after punching my wall a few times, not to change my Facebook status to something like: “Gerald is being attacked by his own brain” or “Gerald is useless and should get over it.”  Instead I should try to make some effort at analysis.  I started wondering if the internet is supposed to be a tool for social exchange, or a replacement for it.

I wonder if it’s better to just keep my outbursts to myself, or to publish them to the digital world.  Either way it seems I end up in the same place.  In August, the same thing happened.  I was unsatisfied with my life, every aspect of it.  I was broke, bored, depressed and anti-social.  I thought I was getting better.  I think I am better as long as I’m not closed off in myself, because then I just sit at home and drink, and watch movies on Netflix, and check my email, Myspace and Facebook, wondering if I have a life.  Either that or I go out to a show alone to pass the time and leave feeling alienated.  I try to write songs but find myself writing the same thing over and over again.  I feel like I’m not being challenged.  I’m not being surprised, and in turn I can’t surprise myself, which is what being creative is all about.  I also feel like it’s a lot of work for me to maintain a social life because I give off an independent vibe, and also because I naturally get along with other independent, or even anti-social, people.  I’m not really independent.  I feed off of other people, I just need my little pockets of solitude in order to express it.

Anyone want to go do something?

No more lemon sour?

January 19th, 2009

Today I found $100 that I forgot about.  Must’ve been my tips from New Years.  So I decided that instead of just buying my normal 12 of Black Label on my shopping run, I’d get some liquor too.  One of favorite (and cheaper) things I like to make are whiskey sours, with Schweppes Lemon Sour and Jim Beam.  But, I was informed that Schweppes Lemon Sour has been…


What the fuck?  I did a google search and saw that it’s even being sold on Craigslist.

So instead I figured that if I’m not going to mix whiskey with anything, I might as well get something I don’t mind drinking straight:  Jameson.

I got groceries too.  Watched some 30 Rock on Netflix, played some piano, programmed the drum machine so Sarah and  I can cover “Loneliness” by Ed Harcourt, made a new cable (a 50-foot Y adapter) for my sound system and cleaned my apartment.  A productive day off, but fuck if I’m not pissed at Schweppes.

The Delivery Driver is Watching You Hibernate.

January 4th, 2009

Once I realized that it was inevitable for me to spend another winter in Minnesota, I decided that I was going to try and remain mobile and active once the cold weather hit (i.e. not subject to the hibernation habits of typical Minnesotans).  Not that I was particularly mobile and active in the summer, but regardless, being out and about is more important in the winter.  Especially given the fact that I’m already prone to depression.  And that my attempts to seek out relationships have thus far amounted to disappointment, to say the least.  Point being: I can’t afford an entire season by myself.

So I find myself looking for shows on the internet when I get off work.  I’m calling all of my friends and asking what their plans are.  I’m reading books at bars.  I’m going bowling by myself.  It’s a lot of work.

One thing that helps, though (and I cringe when I say this) is my job.  I drive pizza around.  I don’t have to dread going out.  I’m already out.  People I know want to stay inside rather then brave the weather to try to get somewhere.  I’ve been in the weather all day.   Being in a cozy bar watching a band sounds pretty good after spending 10 hours driving the same slushy streets over and over.

I go home, have a beer and change my jeans, and I’m ready to go do something.  I get down to my car and it’s still warm.  I don’t ever work before 11 am, so it’s pretty hard for me to get too excessive, since anywhere I would go closes by 2 am.

It’s all relative.  So far this has been the best winter ever, just because I haven’t really had time to dwell on how much it sucks.