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On a Road

October 30th, 2012
gone to set my sights
on a sliver of darkness and lines
of fading light
it’s gonna take all night
to make it anywhere that lets
the time pass by

the song still in our throats
of holding on so tight
time to let it go

the ground falls from my feet
one at a time to come crashing
back toward me
and I can’t see
I know what’s left of me
the same that was there before
without the fantasy

I let go of this road
reach out for never know
I come back and I go

Original Demo:

Recording Draft:

Keep Moving

July 19th, 2009

As I’ve been making progress on the final mixes for “Open,” I’ve been taking walks down 26th street to listen to them.  Looking down, I’ve noticed the words “keep” and then “moving” painted in alternating blue and red in between 35W and MCAD.  As I’m closing this record out, I feel like this little public-art gesture is speaking to me.

I always run into the darker parts of my psyche as I’m finishing a project like this.  Last year I ended up at the airport with bloody knuckles at one in the morning, prepared to spend the remainder of my savings on the cheapest flight going anywhere.  Luckily the gates were all closed and I bought a bus ticket to Chicago the next day instead.

This year, my little episode amounts mostly to bothering my friends and getting drunk listening to records.  Anyways, I’m starting to see that no matter where you get to, there’s always somewhere else to go.  Life is about journeys, not destinations.

I seem stuck on this idea that I need to spend a year making a complete, conceptual album of songs.  I’m going to rethink that in the coming year.  I’m taking a number of different approaches to try and change the way I write songs.  One is the YouTube video notebook.  I’m going to be recording alot while I’m on the road in September, and when I get back I’ll be teaming up with Sarah Wash to write and record new songs.  Maybe one of these projects will take two years to come to a close, and maybe one of them will fall into place within a month.  Maybe if I always have things flowing and regenerating, it’ll keep me going.

I’m going on one final walk tomorrow morning with my tracks, and then I can spend the day preparing them for the mastering session.  After that, I think I’ll just jump right back into recording again.

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?

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.

Perception and some tangents…

January 8th, 2009

My right ear has been plugged up for the past 48 hours.  On top of that, I’m wearing my eyeglass prescription from 1999, since I wrecked my glasses right before the count on New Years Eve.  So, so far, the outer world is continuing to lose focus as 2009 drags on.  Not good.  I went to America’s Best to look at new glasses and I made an appointment.  After that, I proceeded to work the longest and slowest shift in (my) pizza delivery history.  That means I’m broke.

So I’m on self house arrest.  I can’t hear and I don’t have any money.  I have cans of beer and a working internet connection.

I decided that my week is divided roughly in two.  The first half, roughly Sunday or Monday through Wednesday, I don’t work, don’t spend money, don’t stay out too late, work on music, etc.  My apartments a mess and everything else is easy-going.  The second half, usually Wednesday through Saturday night and maybe Sunday, I work long shifts, I’m stressed out, I have plenty of cash and I waste no time attempting to recover my social life, given the chance.

Is this good?  I don’t know.  I also decided there are three equally important major facets to my life:

  • Creative Work
  • Income
  • Social Life

The only way for me to maintain my sanity is through those things overlapping in some way, i.e. creative work providing part of my income and part of my social life.   I’m trying.

Hangovers and Work Days

December 27th, 2008

I’ve been going out a lot the last three weeks or so.  Overcompensating for the lure of hibernation.  Nervous energy.  Social prospects.   I’m getting my hangover control down to a science, I think.  The trick is to force yourself out of bed early, drink a tall glass of water, take one Tylenol, one Aspirin and a St. John’s Wort.  Then it’s back to bed for an hour, and then a sausage and egg breakfast with butter and juice and another glass of water.  St. John’s will work throughout the day to keep me from dragging.  On days that I work, I eat a couple slices of pizza and drink a big Gatorade.  And then there’s turning the radio up really loud and laughing about all the stuff that happened the night before, and everything that’s happening outside my car.

Last night I decided it would be funny to park my car in the street, facing traffic.  I got a police complaint on the hood, which looks like a ticket except you don’t have to pay anything.  Hilarious!

Restraint in Art and Life

December 19th, 2008

So I have this idea, and it involves incorporating art into your everyday lifestyle, as opposed to the other way around where you build your lifestyle to make room for art.  I guess that means throwing out your preconceived notions about the creative process and letting the circumstances of your existence dictate the details like when, where, for how long, what materials to use, etc. It’s not my natural line of thought, but over the years I’ve come to realize that you can’t discipline creativity.  It’s best to approach the creative process on it’s terms, not yours.  So many tracks for Exits + Obstacles, I would run my wheels into the ground working on them only to find that the song was uninspired to begin with.

So with a new approach to the division between art and life, I’m beginning to exercise my visual muscles again.  I decided on one simple rule as I create new pieces:  whatever you do, limit it.  If I decide I like newsprint, make one drawing and put it away.  If one photo looks really cool photocopied, it doesn’t mean I should gather ten of them and then go to Kinko’s.  My new idea is restraint.  When you really like something, it’s best to take a few steps back from it whenever you can.  Let it breathe and be itself.  Anytime you try to overuse something, it’ll become something it’s not.  Of course, I’m not just talking about art here!

Anyway, there’s theory and practice.  We’ll see where the line is drawn on that one.  There’ll be a running set of images on my Flickr page as this progresses.


December 9th, 2008

I started thinking about autonomy, first for personal reasons I won’t get into, but then as a concept in general.  I used to think of myself as autonomous.  I used to feel like the more time I spent by myself, working on myself, the better.  I felt really good about it for a few years.

The problem was that autonomy is a myth.  In my time of autonomy, I was connected to people and things that kept me going.  Without the friends I had at the time, who were interested in the kinds of things I was doing, not to mention the no-pressure job and college life, none of it would have worked.  I found that out eventually, as I looked around and all of a sudden felt like no one cared.  All those things were gone, and it was just me.

Jackson Pollock, the quintessential autonomous artist, was actually surprisingly connected, not to people, but to nature.  The problem was he didn’t know what he was doing, and since art was still thought to be an expression of the ego, his ego consumed him.

I guess I’m writing about alienation.  It’s the unfortunate byproduct created by the myth of autonomy.  When you think you’re separate from the things supporting you, then there’s nothing to keep those things from falling away.  I feel like that happened to me when I was 26.   It took a while for me to figure it out.  And now I know I don’t want to be separated from stuff.  I need a certain amount of myself projected outward.  I need other people to challenge me.  I need things I’m not used to.

I know I have a depression problem, and I try to manage it.  I think about the way I feel right now, and in a way it’s OK because I know it’s temporary.  But there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with your emotions.  I tend to deal with negative emotions in an unhealthy way because it makes me feel connected to things.  I spiral down into myself.  If I’m connected to things, then it’s easier to avoid that.

It’s winter.  I really want to try not to get too sucked into my own head like I usually do this time of year.  I want to keep going out and seeing people and having a public life.  I’ve been doing much better at music now that I’m not trying so hard.  At least I feel like I am, and I’m enjoying it more.  I guess it could go either way.

This is fun…

November 5th, 2008

I’ve been wondering how to go about this post for the past week or so, because it’s not the typical depressing bullshit, plans or mental-detritus.  At some point in the past year or so, I realized that it’s time to stop trying so hard and just live my life.  I knew that when you force something, it breaks.  But keeping open doors can lead to more fruitful things.  Recording “Exits + Obstacles” was one last stab at pushing myself and making myself do something.  The subsequent depressive rampage that found me almost taking a random plane to anywhere at one in the morning (the airport was essentially closed) confirmed my theories about what that can do for your mental health.  It was alot of work to get through that stage, but I have to say I’m really happy with the outcome.

I recently started seeing someone, and that’s the part I was uncertain how to blog about.  I’m used to being by myself.  It’s led to some great things–things that I’m proud of and that without which, I wouldn’t be me.  I’m not the kind of person who is always with somebody just to be with somebody, so when it happens its pretty great.  It can also be really stressful.  Wikipedia’s article on love lists side effects “similar to amphetamines,” including “increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep.”  On top of that, I have a new apartment and a new job, as well as my typical shaky financial situation.

A couple years ago, after I filed bankruptcy and got rid of my studio, I was confronted with what was left of my life, my mind centering on one thought: that there was nothing I was connected to that I cared to hold on to.  I had reduced myself to only those things I was indifferent to.  I feel the complete opposite now.  I’m surrounding myself with things I care about.  I’ve never felt this comfortable with a job, home or another person.  I’m writing songs, and things are coming out really easily and I’m not worrying about when the next CD is going to be done.  (It’s going to take enough time to try and sell 1000 copies of “Exits”)

When things were going really bad, I could see depression in flux with my life, adding fuel to the fire. In college, I remember depression would simply cause a bit of reflective sadness, which I enjoyed. It’s only when my life is spiraling downward that it becomes a problem, making me lose sight of how to take control.  I say this because I know sadness will hit after the high is over, and that’s OK.  But I feel like all the hanging on is paying off right now.  After I flipped out and went to Chicago, my goal was to get a job that I could tolerate and try to be social.  It seemed like such a hurdle at the time, despite it being such a simple goal.  But it worked, and I couldn’t be happier.

First Dates and Fourtrack Tapes

August 24th, 2008

The normal thing for people to do it seems is make a lot of mistakes in high school, have a lot of fun and adventure in college, and then take what you get out of it in your mid-twenties and turn it into a “life.”  Turn your job into a career, buy a house, marry whoever you’re with, and become an “adult.”  I’ve always felt like I was 5-10 years behind.  My mistakes are more spread out.  My adventures have been a little less adventurous (camping in the badlands vs. backpacking through Europe.)  I hardly started dating by the time most of the people I know had met the person they were going to end up with.  The relationship I was in at 25 created more issues than it resolved.

I’ve worked more intensively on things I find personally important, and less so on things that are socially meaningful, mainly because I could do them at my own pace.  Social activities always put pressure on me.  I’ve found that creative things like art projects or music I could mediate the pressure and channel it properly.  The pressure comes from life and the world itself and as an artist you work as a filter for that, to make it meaningful and do something with it.  Social pressure is different and I never learned to deal with it.  It’s not as heavy but it’s directed right at you.  If you fuck up with a friend, you feel it.  If you do somebody wrong, it’s obvious.

Obviously the ideal is to live with someone that’s easy to live with and ignore the greater world around you.  Some people do that, but my guess is they do something for that greater world that supports the dominant powers within it to back up their lifestyle.  You can’t ignore a world that’s crushing you.

When you’re 22 and in college, living in the city, and everyone you know does art, and they’re all in bands and carrying notebooks around, it’s easy.  When you decide that you want to take that aspect of life seriously, you have to be ready for everyone that helped you to be inspired by it in the first place to ditch it for a more normal life.

I turn 30 next week.  My late 20s have hands-down and overall been the worst 5 years of my life.  I’m trying to dig up the parts of my younger self that I miss, and weed out the baggage that’s been holding me down since I was a kid, all while trying to hold on to the parts of myself I can’t afford to lose.  I’ve never felt this alone, and probably not coincidentally I’ve never felt less creative.  But knowing what you need to do and having the means to do it are two different things.

By the way, this blog is really supposed to be creative-oriented.  I don’t like this stuff, but I have to write about the things that are keeping me from maintaining that aspect of my life.