Tuesday, July 22

Blowfish or Shark

I've spent the better part of the day talking myself out of just getting up, going home, and applying for other jobs. I like literally don't know what I'm supposed to be doing -- but I know tomorrow someone's going to ask me where it is, followed up quickly by why isn't it done.

And yet, my fastest path out of here is going back to contract work. Perhaps equal or better money, but no benefits (which I need to make sure the kid can see the doctor when he needs to).

It's been like this for a month or so.

Ask for more work, consider quitting. Ask for help, check monster on the weekends.

Then when it does come, it's literally a text document of raw code, with the instructions "translate."

I know there are people who have the ability to do that -- but I'm not really one of them. I never claimed to be in the interview process. But that's sort of the life of a tech writer -- you're thrown into unfamiliar waters, and with time and training you eventually learn to swim enough to get by.

It's like moving to a foreign country to learn a language. You'll never know everything, but eventually you'll get to a point where you can make conversation.

But if the training never arrives, if there's never an opportunity to immerse myself in the colloquial..

The people here are nice (mostly). It's a really small company -- so I can't imagine no one's noticed just how much I don't do around here -- but it's not like I'm leaving work on the table.

You'd think that would be awesome: Ask for work, don't get any, surf web, collect salary.

And I suppose in some senses that is a perk. But honestly, I could do that on my own (minus the money part) at home.

My former longstanding job was a mess of personal politics and managerial footdragging. But at least I felt like someone needed my skills and counted on my ability to solve problems. At least I knew I could get help if I needed it.

I don't want to change jobs again. It's a pain in the ass and it messes with my finances, my schedules, and my time with my son.
But I don't know how much longer this is going to work.

[Now Playing:  Mastadon - "High Road" ]

Thursday, July 17

Pain & Gain Wasn't That Bad

Pattern recognition. It's what we do. We see trends. We find common threads. We identify outliers. How fast we're able to do it as a species -- how clearly we're able to translate it into something applicable to everyday convenience or advancement, these are the things that basically drive science, technology, and culture.

But we don't all do it the same way. Or at the same rate.

Wanna make someone really mad? Clean their room and reorganize their stuff. Randomly adjust the position of the driver's seat in their car. Give them a pattern that should make sense, but is inherently broken.

I would like to believe that we all possess the potential to recognize and understand the patterns that others identify -- but there's far too much history that suggests otherwise.

Worse yet, two people can look at the exact same thing and derive their own individual conclusions from it. And since they came to those results themselves, ownership of those recognized patterns tends to lead to a pretty fierce sense of propriety.

Find a way to convince people around you that your recognized pattern is the best/most correct/only choice and that sense of propriety can easily becomes tribalism. Zealotry. Nationalism.

It's what sets us apart. Enables us to push forward and rise above. But it's also what holds us back.

Think about contradictions. About the ridiculous divides in your own thinking.
For example, I really don't like the taste or texture of a tomato. To my way of thinking, they're too juicy. Too meaty for a vegetable and yet not sweet enough for a fruit. Put tomato slices in a salad or on a burger and I'll likely pick it off and set it to the side. It's just sort of how I am.
But oh man, do I love tomato sauce. On pizza, in Italian cooking, even ketchup on fries.. I'm all about that. 
All of which seems perfectly logical to me.


I love Star Wars. I hate the prequels. I like the shitty Transformers cartoons far more than I like the shitty live action movies Michael Bay has been making. And yet I've seen them all.  I know they're a mess. I know his "vision" for those paychecks movies has little or nothing to do with silly backstories created to support a toyline that was available when I was a kid.

But I still get really mad about it.

And here's the crazy part -- I went into that movie theater knowing I was probably paying for a tomato, largely because the last three times I'd hoped to get ketchup I was given tomatoes instead. The tomato guy is sort of famous for his tomatoes, and even if people complain about the quality and ripeness, he still sells a ton of them every year.

Pattern recognition: No matter what they say, people like tomatoes.

BUT KETCHUP IS BETTER, DAMMIT!

Propriety. Zealotry. Territorialism.

I live in a society where the various privileges I possess affect my day to day existence far more than any sort of fight for survival or identity. So this is the crap I get all bent out of shape about, even though I know it's kinda stupid, especially when set in the bigger picture of things.

None of which would matter at all if I had someone to vent it all to who might banter it all around with me for a while, but then eventually close the book or tell me to let it go or fast forward the conversation to other things. But when you're short of someone like that (or think you are - despite the abundance of social networking platforms available for you to spew this sort of thing all over), and your new job is turning out to be a lot like the old one where you spend a lot of time trying to kill time with an Internet full of know-it-alls who are perfectly willing to discuss these things to death it can easily become nicotine in your bloodstream.

If you're a certain kind of smart, you turn it into something. A conversation starter. A basis for a subset of friends. A discussion group, blog post, or podcast. Maybe it strikes an iron and gets you trying to make your own films or write stories so you can "do it better."

Propriety focused. Personal Zealotry. A drive for singular territorialism.
Which, when you think about it -- is kinda how we ended up with Michael Bay movies in the first place.
There's plenty of reasons to hate the guy, plenty of problems with the tropes and trademarks he tends to favor. But recognize that half the reason we're mad at him is that we know (or want to believe) that he's capable of better.

The reason I bring all of this up is that..  I think somewhere along the line I fell out of love with my writing. Or perhaps I just started to recognize my own patterns a little too clearly. Simply put, I caught myself repeating the same kind of patterns over and over. Playing the hits. Mailing it in. Age of Extinction-ing.

I recognize that I have talent for this, but for whatever reasons -- I found that I couldn't feel the fire in it anymore. The zealotry that had driven me, the need to establish my own propriety and voice had fallen into predictable patterns.

I'd love to say that once I started realizing this problem I took a step back and decided not to keep making the same movie over and over again, because artistic integrity is more important to me than box office receipts -- but the honest truth is something a little more problematic.


If you take some time to read this blog, or you've been with it a while -- it's not hard to pick out techniques I like to use. Put them together enough and you might even be tempted to call it a style, but what I always hoped along the way was that I had something important to say.

Somewhere along the way I started to get the feeling that I wasn't really saying anything at all. I was just shaking the camera around and blowing shit up on the screen. Not because it fit the message I wanted to send, but because I was convinced that was what worked.
Coming to that realization was ..really disheartening. 
I know I need to get it back. Not the habit, or the voice -- but the fire. The need to get it on the page. To shout the patterns I've identified to the world around me in the hopes that they can recognize and understand. To thirst for the debate of those who don't agree -- and to disregard the weight of knowing I'm not the only putz with a blog who thought the Dinobots should have been in the movie a lot more than they were.



[Now Playing:  Volumes - "Erased" ]

Tuesday, July 23

Worse Than Internet Dating

One of the funnier things you see a lot on internet dating sites like OK cupid or Plenty of Fish are profile blurbs by women that start off like “UGH, OK – I’M GONNA GIVE THIS STUPID THING ONE MORE TRY.. BUT I SWEAR IF ANY MORE PERVERTS MESSAGE ME I'M DELETING MY PROFILE”

Ideally, your dating profile is a snapshot of who you are. A little microblurb of your personality fitted together with your desires and requirements for a potential date partner. And yet, because sooo many dudes on dating sites are full of shit, what you end up getting half the time as your first impression of a woman beyond their profile picture is exasperation.

I’m not back on the dating sites yet. I feel like that’s my next logical step, but I’m not really feeling it so far. Things too present in the mind, moments too fresh. I’ll get there again – it’s not like any of that mess is going anywhere anytime soon.
But it’s not the worst thing out there.
I’m not part of the music scene in this town. I know some players and a few people are aware of me. But to most everyone else I’m just a dude in the crowd. But I’ve been set on this goal of changing that – which has led me to the one place where people in my situation go: Craigslist.

Craigslist has a section where musicians looking for other players can post. Where bands can seek drummers to replace theirs after band drama, or guitar players “looking to jam” can post links to soundcloud files. For a few months now I’ve been playing this game in the hopes of finding some sort of  avenue to play in this town – and to be honest, it's kinda going nowhere.
It’s like I’m out here looking for Prince Charming, and all I’m finding is Carlos Danger.
Beyond the people who responded to my ad and never called back, were the ones who organized something and then cancelled as I was driving up to the door of the place to jam. I had one guy ask me to join his band – he said he liked my style, only to find out that his band only plays modern pop-country music, which is nothing like the playing sample I posted online. It’s ok though, he never bothered to ask the rest of his band if it was cool to look for other guitar players, and there was to be a BAND MEETING to discuss the consequences of his actions and decide if he should get kicked off of Carrie Underwood island or not.

And that's all before I got an email from a guy that plays the recorder and wants to do MC5 covers.

My most promising lead so far has been a guy who texts in ALL CAPS who sent me a song list he wants me to learn so we can play at a series of gigs he’s already booked. Nevermind that I’ve never actually met the guy or played any music of any kind with him, we’re literally counting down to a night where we’ll be on stage in front of people even if we don't rehearse at all first.

The song list is about 50 tracks long.
35 of the tunes are by Lynrd Skynrd.
And almost as soon as I hear that, there’s an all-too familiar voice ringing in my mind saying, “So what? If you want to play in this town, this is what you’ve got to do. Take the steps, it’s all work towards a bigger goal.”

She’s right of course, but there’s also Bob Seeger and Kid Rock on this setlist.

One of the issues of course is the town. I could eventually find and join some crazy techno-metal prog outfit and be creatively happy as a clam, but it’s not like a group like that would be able to perform very many places.

The scene in this town is sorta fractured. There’s a ton of cover bands, and then there’s a handful of original groups that seem to be born mostly out of the colleges. There is a terrible shortage of places that host live bands to begin with, but the divisions between these hemispheres are pretty strong.

For example I was listening to a few samples from this this indie artist I sorta dig who is coming to play in town next week who is apparently from Jacksonville, and in his bio he was quick to point out that the best growth of his career came after he moved to Atlanta.

And while I remain hopeful that my efforts will eventually unearth a project that fits my talents and tastes –if I want to work towards being able to properly take advantage of it I need to get off the riverside and jump in the water. And the path of least resistance (at least so far) seems to be finding guys close to my own age who want to play NOW -- regardless of how much I personally dislike the music they want to make.

It's kinda like the dating sites -- where apparently I have very little in common with people my age on first glance, which makes me think I'd be happier running around with nubile young players half my age, even if it ends up that we have nothing in common beyond the most shallow of shared interests.
I’m a guitar cougar.
Earlier this week I reviewed an album for OHN that a dear friend of mine who lives in New York sings on. Hip-hop and soul, just a fantastic multi-faceted vibe to the thing – all the while I was writing about it thinking to myself, “Where is this music in my town – where are the people who want to jam on this kind of vibe?”

Almost like what I really need to do is stop trying to fit my playing into someone else’s vision and try to sketch out what I really want – and then just seek that out only.

But then I think back to all those exasperated and pissed off dating profiles on OK Cupid, and it seems like that’s sort of the same thing.

I know I’m rambling; I’m not really making tons of sense here. I was up half the night playing guitar at low volume, just sorta messing around with chords and licks, really enjoying just playing free. But here again this morning I’m looking at the craigslist ads out there and sending emails to people who contacted me about jamming earlier who I haven’t heard from in a while – and it all just feels like separate worlds.

Not that I’m giving up. Not that I expected it to be easy.

But that with so much great music out there, it doesn’t seem like it should be this hard to find other people who like similar things.  It makes you feel isolated. Like your uniqueness is somehow a hindrance.

Almost like if I could be someone who could bring themself to liking Kid Rock covers in some dive bar, I’d get to where I want to be quicker. Like the answer isn’t so much searching for a match, but accepting the limitations of the atmosphere around you. Like if I sorta find a way to like terrible Rom-Coms or stories about your terrible job I’ll get more dates, which would mean what -- a better chance of finding what I want?
Or a better shot at just finding something good enough?


[Now Playing:  Joshua Worden - "The Road" ]

Friday, July 19

This is Clearly the Greatest Guitar Pedal Demo Video Ever Made

If there's one thing I know, it's that all the sweet honeys out there can't get enough of guitar pedal demo videos on YouTube. A 3-part 2 hour runthrough on all the patch sounds that can be found in one guys Axe-FX II processor? Total panty dropper.

Ok, maybe not. And if you're not a music gear nerd, I can totally understand your possible reluctuance over the prosepect of watching a five-minute demo of a stompbox.
But trust me -- you gotta see this.
For those of you who might not know, a vocoder is a synth effect used by artists like Daft Punk, Zapp and Roger, and Alantic Starr that enables you to control and shape the sound of your instrument to match the inflections of your voice using a microphone basically as a trigger.

And the company that made this video, JetCityMusic is an actual legitimate music retailer that puts up demo videos of equipment like this all the time.
Also, the song this guy is singing 100% straight-faced to show off this unit is called "Suck My Robot Balls."  

[Now Playing:  Scienze - "Super Girl II feat. Luxx" ]

Thursday, July 18

Voojah Day

How do you notice time passing?

I don’t mean the numbers on a clock, or some beep on your smartphone that wakes you up in the morning – I mean how do you mentally register that where you are at this exact moment now isn’t the same place where you were back then?

One of the frustrating things about parenting is that it’s hard get a clear picture of your kids growing up. Sure you see them getting taller, deal with them moving up in school or taking on different interests or groups of friends or whatever, but when you look at them, they’re still your baby.

My son is 13. He’s a teenager. But when he asks questions about how the world works, or I catch sight of him playing on his own or just being himself he might as well be five years old forever. In a few years that five year old is gonna want to drive, and the thought of that just blows my mind.

And it’s cute and all – but there’s a side to it that’s also not so great, because when you still see your child as a little kid, it’s all too easy just to keep treating them like one – almost like you’re wishfully hoping for them to stay that young as long as you can keep them that way. At its worst, this is the kind of thinking where you end up with mothers breastfeeding 9 year olds, but for the rest of us – it manifests in weird little quirks that seem harmless at first, but then one day make you realize that you’re coddling a young adult instead of preparing them for a life on their own.

For example, I clearly remember a day back in college when I suddenly realized that I had no idea how to cook for myself at all.

And my mother wasn’t really a coddler in any sense of the word – but most of the time when my brother and I were in the kitchen with her (even when she asked us to help her make dinner) we’d eventually hit that point where we were in the way and she’d shoo us out or make us go set the table. Oh I could microwave stuff, but a lot of the things I could have learned BY making dinner alongside my mom never materialized because she was happier handling all those things herself (or at least that's how I remember it).

In fact, I bet if you think about it – those of you who grew up helping your parents cook (or cooking for the family because a parent wasn’t there) probably hated that shit when you were a kid, only to realize when everyone else was burning spaghetti and figuring out the science behind ramen noodles in college that you actually had a skill in your pocket that had some value.

You see it in different ways all around you, like people who insist upon changing their own oil -- But it’s just as apparent in reverse. I’m sure we’ve all known grown adults who work with complex computers all day who couldn’t to build a bookshelf to save their lives and you wonder how they’ve even survived on this planet with that kind of gaping hole in their intellect, and which one of their parents let them down so badly.
All of which makes me worry a little bit when I think of how completely messed up my little boy’s idea of “Déjà vu” is.
I don’t remember exactly where he first heard the term, but I do remember him asking me what it meant. He was three or four at the time, and was in this stage where he was ALWAYS asking questions about everything – even when the things he was asking about weren’t always things he could grasp the answers to. It’s a stage a lot of kids hit, but it’s also a stage I think where a lot of parents come up with the same solution – which is to offer sort of “shorthand” answers that provide the child with enough of closure to get them to STOP ASKING QUESTIONS WHILE THE GAME IS ON, but not really enough information for them to ever really get the concept they were asking about (figuring that at some point in the future you'll have a second chance to clear up the missing details).

Long story short, because of my desire to watch football or whatever – my son grew up accepting my stupid abbreviated answer to his questions so much that now he believes that Déjà vu is the feeling of recognition that happens when you go to the same place more than once.

Not like real Déjà vu, that uncomfortable sense that you’ve experienced events in your life sometime before in the exact same manner – but more like whenever we go grocery shopping he’ll tell me he’s “having Déjà vu right now" because we’re at the same supermarket we went to last week.”

At first it was kinda cute hearing my kid expressing his feeling that he was having some sort of extra-sensory moment every time we went to the drive thru at Wendy’s – but there’s a point where you sorta realize the kid may never really fully grasp this concept, and it makes you feel like a bad parent.

But then there’s this weird other side effect that’s happened because of all this -- Now MY definition of Déjà vu has sorta evolved to match his.

Or perhaps a better way to say it is that when I experience similar things in similar places over time, the best way I can think of to accurately describe it is to invoke my son’s definition of the term, almost like some sort of vernacular or slang.

For example, I went to a dinner party with friends the other night, and it dawned upon me that I was actually in the exact same place less than a year ago listening to the exact same douchebag play horrible acoustic guitar versions of 90’s pop songs – something I documented on twitter at the time, much to the delight of a Facebook friend of mine who soon after invited me to a lunch date that essentially started a relationship (that I’m currently in the process of trying to get over the breakup of) – and that’s not really déjà vu at all.

But it does sort of fit my kid’s fucked up definition of it.

So all the while sharing stories over dinner with friends last night, I couldn’t help but be struck by how vivid the memory of that first night I was there for a dinner for one was in my mind. But more than that – it was impossible not to realize the fact that this memory was from something that happened in February.

So much happened in that relationship. So much passion, so many cool experiences. A lifetimes worth of inside jokes and steamy memories still so fresh in my mind that I can still taste them on my fingertips – it felt like a whole book worth of chapters in my life. It felt like so much more time was involved than there actually was (which is probably why it’s been so hard to get over this feeling of loss since the breakup).

There’s this great old story about Albert Einstein where apparently one day his secretary asked him to try to explain the theory of relativity to her, because she couldn’t grasp the science of it all. And after a moment of thinking he said, “If you put your hand on a hot stove for a minute it seems like an hour. But sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like only a minute. THAT'S relativity.”

I sat with that pretty girl for far more than a hour. But I hate how it still feels like we didn’t get enough time.

I mean, I’ve had other relationships that lasted longer, spanned larger periods of time – but few that were as intense. Few that I felt so strongly about. And I know that in time it will be easier to think about, easier to understand..
But right now all this Déjà vu is killing me.

[Now Playing:  The Safety Fire - "Grind the Ocean" ]

Tuesday, July 16

Calendar Girl

I was handling things fairly well until I hit that voicemail.

There are posts online. Texts and pictures on my phone. Little notes left around my place and in the car. Those have cast their own shadows, reminders of moments gone too soon. But the thing is (and this probably sounds harsher than it really is), you can learn to look past physical things. Or perhaps better said – you can get used to the feelings that come along with seeing them on a regular basis.

Maybe you even need that normalcy. Need it to help you try to carry on like nothing's wrong.

Hurt sucks, and you’d think that in the effort to avoid it you’d be best served pushing all those things away – but that’s not really how it works. Because no one takes vacation pictures when they’re breaking up. No one leaves notes when the fire dies out.

So even as these mementos serve you with the sting of the loss, they’re equally reminders of how good things used to be before. Even a ripped blanket you can still tuck your feet under. And so you’ll hold that rose even if the thorns cut your fingertips, because even as it hurts it reminds you of happier places. Of better times. Of before you fucked everything up.

Certainly it would be more logical to take it all down. Get rid of it like a box of old letters.
But you don’t.
Its part of the process, I guess – or at least it seems to be for the sentimental among us. To have these reminders around as you work through everything, especially when the wound is fresh. It’s like you have to get to a point where you’re comfortable letting it all go. To be able to realize that as much value as these things have in your heart, that they’re just things, just physical bookmarks for memories.

Some people go to the bottle, or the cookie dough ice cream. Maybe that's the smarter play, who knows.

A memory carefully packaged can become a wonderful source of warmth. But you have to get to a place where that heat doesn’t burn your fingertips every time try to reach out for it. So you leave those reminders out – let the immediacy of the hurt scar over.

So you let the days pass, and you see these things around your place. You hear the songs on the playlist. You see the posts on the web. Every day it gets a little easier, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
Until you hit that voicemail.
I don’t even remember saving it, although it’s obvious why I did. A message like that you don’t get rid of. But here I am realizing just how much I miss your voice.

Realizing just how long it’s been since I’ve heard it.

She was so present. So alive in the moment. We both were – it swept over both of us like a wave, but it seemed to suit her core energy so much better. I loved that prescience. I’d never been around anything like it before. And when we were together it flowed like water. But what I didn’t seem to get was that she loved my prescience as well. She loved the energy that was radiating all around me.

My world was in such a great place. I had this mojo rolling all around. I was feeling oddly comfortable in my job. I was writing, playing guitar. I had all this loose free time at work where goofing off wasn’t really at any odds with my productivity. I’d packed away a lot of old memories and baggage that were holding me back for no good reason, moved into a new place, dropped a bunch of weight –I was honestly feeling good about where I was. And when I get like that, when I start feeling bulletproof, people notice.

Which is why, when things around me changed so radically -- when the heat rising off my surface became something different – she couldn’t help but start to worry about it.

And I could try to put up any number of excuses here about how I was completely blindsided by losing my job. About how depressed I felt, and how all the uncertainty about my finances and future and the stress it raised took over my focus – but the truth is that none of that really matters.

Jobs come and jobs go. I had the love of a beautiful woman. Something far more important, something far more valuable.

She didn’t love me because I was employed. She loved me because I was there. We fed off each other’s energy. We found a way to live in each others moment -- writing stories and making music together. Singing with friends, racing across town just for a few minutes together at lunch, travelling across the state on a whim. That wasn’t one person trying to impress another with expensive dinners or carefully planned dates. That was two people just running inside a bolt of electricity and passion, not caring where it took them.
At some point, regardless of why – I stopped being there.
I look back on it now and honestly a lot of it doesn’t make sense at all. In time perhaps I’ll get the kind of perspective that will enable me to connect the dots better, to get a sense of where I started needing her energy to feed me instead of being part of a partnership that nourished and inspired each other – but the fact is that it happened.

We’d talk about it; she’d let me know that it wasn’t acceptable that she was worried about it and (even if neither of us could really put a finger on what “it” specifically was) and that we couldn't go on like that forever. And I knew things were different. It was impossible not to notice. But saying you’re going to fix something and actually knowing how to do it are two different things.

After a while it reached a point where she had to make a decision.

The shitty part is that I get that. I understand that part of the thinking. The logic in looking at something and feeling like it’s not moving forward without her having to get out and push leading to a point where you realize that’s not a relationship at all, so why keep pretending it is one – it makes all the goddamn sense in the world.

What I don’t get is why things changed. How I got so far off the track. I mean, I loved her. How the hell could I let things slip through my fingertips like that?

Even worse -- this isn’t the first time in my life someone took a hard look at loving me and deciding that the risk involved was too high for an investment. It’s essentially the same kind of decision j made when she chose not to come back. Circumstances and specific details might be a little different, but in the end it was the same call.

That in itself is something to wrestle with.

But right here – with my phone against my face and your voice so unexpectedly in my ear again, it’s hard to see where any of that examination will really get me right now.

“Knowing myself better” might have its benefits..
But it’s not going to bring you back.

[Now Playing:  Etta James - "Damn Your Eyes" ]

Friday, June 14

Versayce

Today at work I had a chance to meet the guy who used to do the job that I have now. Basically he’s moved up a step on the ladder to a better position, and I’m the guy they tapped to take over the wheel.

But like so many other things in corporate culture – it's not like you can always just leave your old duties.

So even though this guy has a whole new job, he’s still pretty much the resident expert on all this work that I’ll eventually end up doing. I’m too new still, and the girl who is basically covering the base while I get up to speed is a little out of her element (especially since she was actually hired to do something else, which they're still expecting her to do anyways).

So having access to this guy is an obviously important deal. Here’s a clear source of information and expertise directly related to the work I’ll be doing. Plus by all accounts (he wrote most of the training materials and report samples I've been reading as part of my ramp-up period) he’s a pretty sharp guy – and even if none of these things were true, having more allies at the office is always a good thing, especially if you’re the newbie in town.

Too bad he’s sort of a cunt.

So I’m at my desk just sorta chilling the way I have been most of the week – reading over stuff I've probably read a million times, waiting for the real work to ramp up as it clearly will sooner than later. And this guy shows up to visit and help out the other gal who is covering the reports for the moment – and of course that leads to an introduction.  Handshakes and small talk – where are you from, how long have you lived in Jacksonville, what sort of work did you do before this – pretty standard stuff.

But then he was like, “what’s your degree in?” – and when I told him English degree, he sort of stopped and looked at me, then said:

“How can you be a technical writer if you don’t have a technical degree?”

Guuuuuuuuurrrl..

Dude, I just met you. This is how we’re gonna play? What do you want me to do next, get back in the kitchen and make you a sandwich? Bring you a martini and your slippers? I’m sorry, can you dumb that language down a little bit so I can understand it over the sound of how awesome my tits are?

What do you mean how can I work in this field that I've been working in for more than 10 years without taking the exact same path you took to get here? Perhaps the better question is how did a serious piece of eye candy like me find my way into YOUR esteemed seat when clearly it’s only reserved for bitches in knock-off alligator boots with pissy attitudes?

I mean literally this was like a minute into the conversation. Which was our first conversation of any kind at all. Not exactly the kind of introduction I was expecting, or one that I appreciated. 

I mean, in the end what are you gonna do? Everybody likes to feel like they’re king of some little castle – and clearly this job used to be this dude’s own private Idaho or whatever – but that doesn't mean I’m gonna piss all over the drapes just because I didn't go to the same schools you did.

I don’t know – maybe the dude didn't realize how petty his comment came off, but this is a good example of the reasons why I’m still a little chafed over the way my last job ended. Because all of this bull, all this posturing and learning curving were all things I’d already done somewhere else. Whether or not anyone thought I looked the part or was legitimately qualified didn't really matter, because I had clearly earned my stripes and shown my value. 

But now I've got to take shit from this jackass just because he's the only one who knows where all the research materials are kept?

It’s just kind of infuriating to think about. It’s sort of maddening that there are still hoops I need to jump through to get my final checks and stuff from my old gig and when I call to ask about it the guy on the line (who I had worked with many times) asks how to spell my last name. Like I’m some sort of stranger now.

I mean yeah, I played my part. I’m certainly not without some level of culpability in all of this. But this walk of shame shit is getting old, especially when it’s coming from some schmuck at this new gig who doesn't know me from a hole in the ground.

How can I do this job without a technical degree?
Because I’m a writer, bitch.


[Now Playing:  The Safety Fire - "Red Hatchet" ]

Wednesday, June 12

Lukather

The first few weeks at a new job are always so weird -- especially with big corporations. They make you jump through all these hoops to get the gig, but when you get there you find out that you don’t have a computer.

IT is working on it, they have to build one.

Then when you finally get one you have to get access to all these different databases, so there’s forms to fill out and protocols to follow – and when all that is done you have to wait for the requests to go through.

Compliance is working on it, they have to set you up.

And so you sit there. And then you sit there some more.

There’s gonna be a point in a few months where I’ll be disappointed in myself bitching that I have nothing to do at work, but for now the fact remains that I've got next to nothing to do – and the monotony is starting to get to me.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad gig thus far – but more to the point that it’s not very high impact. Things seem (at least so far) to move pretty slow around here. There’s a very deliberate pace to things that probably helps the work go by without piling on too much, but it doesn't make for much of a spectator sport.

I don’t know – it's hard not to feel like this is sort of a rebound job. I might not have always said so enough when I was there, but I liked the way things were with my old gig, and as a result (combined with all the idle time I've found myself with during the days) it’s next to impossible not to constantly compare this job to my previous one.

The quiet here is unnerving.

At my old job, the headphones were to keep the noise out – the constant political bantering, Tebow talk, and industrial sounds – music was a way of insulating yourself from the cacophony. Here though, Spotify has become my daily way of reassuring myself that other people exist, even if it is just Mackelmore.

But there’s this interesting sort of side effect thing happening, which I don’t necessarily think of as bad – where all this music I’m taking in is mixing with my recent push to see if I can actually get out there and play with other people for a change to leave me really conflicted about working in an office at all. I mean (even if it is just a temporary thing), if I’m getting paid to sit around all day in preparation for work to come, wouldn't it be all the better if I were just at home working on phrasing or songwriting in preparation for some jam session or a practice or something.

Speaking of that..

About a week or so back I threw an ad up on craigslist announcing myself as a guitar person who was looking for other musicians to make noise with. Nothing too serious, mainly just fishing to see what responses I might get.

To my surprise, the emails started coming in pretty quick. A lot of it was throwaway responses (one guy said “you should call me” but didn’t leave a number), but at least a few of them seemed worth exploring further.

But here’s the dilemma. What I really want (at least at this early stage) is just to find other players and start making noise. Not really worry about changing the whole world of music right out of the gate -- but instead just dip my toe back in the water and make sure I still have the chops to hang with with strangers before I take any definitive next steps to start playing and writing music I like.

But what that’s left me with is a quick reminder of what one the underlying musical spectrums of the town I live in really is:

Matchbox 20 <---------------------------------------------> Godsmack

Call me old fashioned, but Matchbox 20 blows goats. Living between headphones like I do and not listening to the radio, you tend to forget that a lot of guys my age truly do believe that the bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and Train were like.. Important. There’s a place for soft rock songwriters, and I do like my share (although most of mine seem to be more 70’s based) – but a huge hunk of the 90’s was a wasteland for mainstream rock. Even the metal from that era was subpar compared to where it was before and after – and I like a lot of that stuff anyways.

But not Godsmack.

Oh man, save for Creed or Nickelback – there were few hard rock bands I've ever found more cloying and useless than Godsmack. During their brief stint of popularity it was constantly bewildering to me what people ever saw in them. Their songs literally go nowhere.

Granted, my taste in music isn't exactly conventional all the time – but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg compared to my feelings about bands I CAN’T FRIGGIN STAND -- and yet it seems like these are the songs everybody wants to jam on.

So it leaves me with this interesting dilemma. I want to make music and jam with other people. But other people (at least so far) seem content, even excited to play junk. So do I bite the bullet and dive into stuff I don’t really enjoy for the experience, or do I hold out for that thing I really want?

I’m kinda going through the same thing as I investigate open mic jam sessions around town as well. There’s an awful lot of Mustang Sally and Johnny Cash dressed up as Rockabilly going around, which can only really be interesting for so long.

And while I understand that there’s plenty of people that equally wouldn't enjoy a jam session that was nothing but hackneyed Djent rip-offs or Steve Vai licks, but you’d think there’d be a middle ground.

I think in the end if I want to meet players and get my face out there I’m just gonna have to get my feet wet and bite the bullet – because after all the more you play (and show you’re willing to play) the better it is for the scene, but still..
If people start getting the impression that I’m down to play
Dave Matthews Band, somebody’s getting punched in the face.

[Now Playing:  Steve Lukather - "Flash in The Pan" ]

Monday, June 10

The Reflex

Every day lately, unfortunately a little like clockwork after I have a cup of coffee or a meal I get this feeling in my gut like heartburn. My throat tightens up and my chest feels like someone’s gone at it with a cheese grater. When I was younger I had a bout with acid reflux-type symptoms, but it’s not something I've had to deal with in quite a while. It goes away after a while, and if it doesn't I douse it with pepto, but I honestly figured it would have gone back away by now that I’m back working and trying to get things back on track in my world.

Not that the issue (whatever it is) is solved, but that sometimes you just have to plow ahead. Tack a direction and set the sails. A little rough water (or stomach acid) is to be expected when you’re essentially jamming on the gas pedal from a hard stop. You can’t ignore the signs in the road, obviously – but you can’t just sit still either waiting for the wind to change, either. Bills need to get paid and things have to be done.

I was never one for doctors.

My dad goes to the doctor all the time, it seems. The older he gets, the more specialists it seems he picks up – and in what seems a bit of an uncharacteristic move for him, he just keeps piling them on. I say this because this is the same man who’s been told by almost every doctor he sees to quit smoking and get in more exercise, and he sort of tells them in his own polite way to go screw. And yet he still makes a concerted effort to see every one of them, even though he surely knows what they’re all going to say. As much as we’re alike, I never really got this compulsion of his.

If all they do is charge you money to say the same things over and over that you’re not going to listen to – why bother? He might as well be seeing psychics or buying lottery tickets the way he’s going.

But it’s also kind of his thing, too.

I think sometimes we draw these little lines in the sand. Draw boundaries to lock onto for our own edification. My dad likes to smoke. He knows it’s bad for him, he knows everyone who ever loved him from his sons to his grandchildren have tried to get him to quit, but for whatever reason he doesn't want to let it go. And while it certainly doesn't help any of his health issues to keep the habit, very few of the issues he’s dealing with are (at least in his estimation) the kinds that are a direct result of the habit. That’s not to say it’s right or that he’s justified in pumping that poison in his lungs, but that in his mind he’s been doing it for close to 60 years now and it hasn't gotten him yet – so why the hell not live a little?

It’s the same sort of mental math all smokers go through at some point I suppose. Especially those of his generation, when it seemed like everybody was doing it.

Nowadays people look at the whole enterprise differently, but a lot of them still make the same choice.

We live in a world where more or less we have a good idea of how to live perfectly healthy. When you get right down to it you could easily plot out a map of the habits to avoid and the right organic foods to eat and the exercises to do and the places to live that would provide you with as much of the optimal conditions you could get to keep your body and spirit in good shape. It’s all right there, and I’m sure there are people who follow those disciplines. But the rest of us seem to live in grey areas that at some point we’re old enough to choose on our own. Sure we might have grown up with parents that microwaved every dinner and lit up at the dinner table in front of their kids, but after a certain age you start to see all that for what it is and really re-evaluate the way you cook or the habits you choose to keep.

It’s such a bizarre part of being a human being – this crossroads where personal happiness and optimal health don’t necessarily have to be connected. Lots of people live their lives with at least one little self-destructive flavor mixed in – and still find love and prosperity in spades.

I know we've all probably known (or even been related to) someone who did everything “wrong” and still lived to be 100 years old or whatever.  Like some kind of cruel joke, just thumbing their noses at nature and science – smoking and eating junk food and not recycling and sitting too close to the TV and drinking booze like crazy people while everyone around them tried to be vigilant about watching their health and catching fucking cancer left and right. When you look at it all through a certain prism, none of it  makes any goddamn sense. Our bodies are wonders of bio engineering that seem to like it better when we treat the plumbing like crap.

Sometimes you have to scuff the soles of your shoes a little bit so you don’t slip all over the place when you wear them. Perfection is an ideal we strive for that doesn't seem to really do us any good half the time.

I wish my dad didn't smoke. I wish my hair had never fallen out. I wish this frigging heartburn would go away. I wish cancer hadn't ever been invented and the people it stole from all of us were still here telling me to eat my vegetables and turn down the music in my headphones.

But the world isn't perfect.
Or maybe it is, and the things we put ourselves through are just life’s way
of roughing things up a little on the edges so we can all get a better grip.

Wednesday, June 5

Space

It's like we've gone back to our own corners. Started living our own lives like they were before. Almost like it didn't happen at all.

It's frustrating. It's a splash of cold water, a harsh reminder of a big reason why we're here in the first place, proof that no matter how I process things or deal with circumstances, it effects everything around me.

Eventually there will be a breakwater. Eventually something will be said.

But until then, there's nothing but space.

[Now Playing:  Frank Ocean - "Swim Good" ]
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