5.31.2005

as i come of age

now playing: james taylor, "up on the roof"



tomorrow, i enter my final full month of being thirty-something.

i don't know where the time went.


at the most recent youngers show i played, i talked to todds' girlfriend cory (who was once my niece - more on that in a moment) about how awkward it was to play these shows where the whole family shows up...not because they make me uncomfortable, per se - but because i can look around the room and be reminded - quite graphically - of how much time has passed since i first came to this state over fifteen years ago.

here's the necessary backstory.


my first wife, jill - the mother of my children - is cory's aunt. her brother is cory's father.

cory is jesse's sister - jesse, the guitar player in the youngers.

todd, cory's boyfriend of many years, met cory when he was playing with me a looong time ago.


so, as they say, if you have children, you're never really divorced. it would appear that it's also true that if you're in a band that's littered with former family members, you're never really separable from the family.


at that gig, i sat there in the midst of todd's family and cory and jesse's family - johnny and sandy, their parents...their cousin andrew...and i thought back to the winter that i showed up here in pennsylvania and how much we've all changed in the time since. jesse was three years old. he used to call me aunt tom, for christs' sake. we used to have family get-togethers on the holidays and play bluegrass music together and for some time, it seemed like we genuinely enjoyed each others' company. things have gotten strange in the time since - the family seems to have split into factions, with some not speaking to each other for ages. i think that perhaps they've put some of that behind them since papa john, the patriarch, fell ill early this year...i hope they have, anyway.

but i sat there behind the drumkit and looked around the room at the end result of so much time having passed, and it started to hit home - with regard to just how long it's been. not in a weepy, sentimental way so much as in a "holy shit - where did all the time go" kinda way.


and i won't say that i haven't stopped thinking about it since, because i have...but i will admit to being a lot more conscious of it in the time since. it's crept into a number of my thoughts, and it's found its way into certain parts of my logic that i don't think it existed in before that night. it seems that everywhere i look now, i see the evidence of age and time passed.

compound that with the sheer number of people who've stepped back into the light from the shadows of my own personal history lately, and it's enough to give you pause. make you think, even.

it's definitely a factor with regard to some of the thoughts and conversations that i've had with various people about moving to nashville of late. i think to myself, "if i wait until the kids are both eighteen and ready to move on with their own lives, then we're looking five years down the road - which makes me not forty, but forty-five...and if we're teetering on the edge of the what's the point ledge now, by then i'll be plummeting, wile e. coyote style, to the bottom of the animated ravine somewhere in the over-the-hill desert.

but the thing is, there are other questions bouncing about in my head as well regarding all this - not just about timing, the question of whether to make the leap or not, my own personal relevance to what's happening in nashville, or things of that nature...all huge points in and of themselves - but there are other aspects of my life that have to be taken into consideration as well.

let's say that things stay on track and wendy and i complete the reconciliation process. there are some things surrounding this situation that can't be ignored. she didn't just move out, she moved out - bought a house and the whole nine yards. and, contrary to what might've been assumed prior to the process, she's done an amazing job of making it her own. her house is totally and completely her. it fits her, and she's quite obviously comfortable there. and i'm equally uncomfortable with the idea of infringing on that in any way - she's earned her own space, and i'm not about to throw any monkey wrenches into that by introducing any radical changes into the equation, where she's concerned. there's enough ground for us to cover on a personal level that has nothing to do with moving, and we've been focusing on that.

but then again, by not introducing any radical changes, the status quo remains as such...and, as i'm seeing time and time again, the clock keeps ticking and time marches on. for instance, i know that wendy wants kids eventually...if we're staying together, how long can that be put off? and, hypothetically speaking, how does that factor into a decision to move? i also know that wendy wants to return to new england eventually...which would make a move to nashville a temporary distraction of sorts. and if that's the case, how long would we stay in nashville before we made what had damn well better be the final move north? and, should we decide to have kids, what kind of father could i possibly be if i were a working musician in nashville? what kind of relationship could i have with a wife and child if i were on the bus as much as i'd need to be to earn a living? would i essentially be repeating the mistakes i've already made with the children i've already brought into the world? would i be introducing additional and unnecessary stress on everyone concerned by taking this past the "entertaining the possibility" stage?


would it be even remotely worth it?


that's the funny thing about life...there's no way of knowing without taking the leap and doing it.


at this point in time, i don't have any answers. it would be easy to just ride the wave and keep doing what i'm doing for the foreseeable future...but the problem with that is that if you don't stretch, you don't grow...or progress, for that matter. and now i find myself asking myself if i'll be ok with being exactly where i am right now in ten years...and while the answer to that question is pretty easy to arrive at, what to do about it is significantly more complex.


and those are answers that i just don't have at the moment.




5.30.2005

harriet...sweet harriet....

now playing: so i married an axe murderer



a classic, this one...it's the only reason i'm still awake.


as is the case with pretty much all weekends, my plans and the quantity of things that i'd wanted to get done was a little overzealous and ambitious in comparison to what i actually managed to get done...but i can't complain, overall. watched the red sox lose two games on national tv, yet manage to beat the yankees by a combined score of 24-3 in the games i didn't watch. i played a pair of gigs with my buddy charlie degenhart, one this past wednesday and one on sunday night - it's funny, with charlie...no matter whether i do the necessary brushing up at home or not, it always takes a gig to get everything back in order and hittin' on all eight cylinders. wednesday was shaky, but on sunday night, everything went exactly the way it should've. well, with one exception, anyway...there's a song i usually play on lap steel that i played on dobro instead, and instead of giving it the more homey feel that i'd imagined it would, it just kinda got lost in the mix. i plugged it into the same channel as the mandolin, going through a passac preamp that i use for mandolin and guitar, and it just sucked all the midrange right out of it. bad move on my part.

wendy's parents were in town for the weekend, and they not only came to the gig with us, but they went out to breakfast with us afterwards as well - they have some serious stamina. i was impressed.

jayda spent a big chunk of the weekend with her friend destiny, and dylan spent sunday night with his buddy derek - for having had them under my supervision for three days, i feel as though i've scarcely seen them at all.


tomorrow, i have to go back through my email and start answering some of the stuff that i've read but haven't responded to over the past couple of weeks - it's been piling up. training will resume day after tomorrow, so that'll be two more days of sitting in darkness, trying to stay awake....


...and now rose is hanging from the roof of the hotel, so the end of the movie is nigh. bedtime beckons.

5.29.2005

some sad news

now playing: ambrosia, "holdin' on to yesterday"



foremost on my mind at the moment....


my good friend mitch deighan lost his father tonight at around 11pm. some of you only know mitch through his comments here, some of you have seen him at shows, and some of you know him well.


please keep my friend in your thoughts and prayers tonight.

5.28.2005

oooooh, boy.....

there are times when you have to document an event as it's happening so you don't forget about it.


this would be one of those times.


my son, as i type, is singing "i feel pretty" in the shower.


i feel a little queasy...which doesn't sing as well, i'm afraid.

5.26.2005

good advice

now playing: dave loggins, "breeze"



last night, within the first five minutes of walking into the gig, i had three people mention my journal to me...nothing specific, just "i read your journal all the time"-ish comments.


which, of course, made me feel like a bit of an ass where the content of the past few days is concerned.


after the show last night, i stood in the doorway of the bar and talked to charlie for a long (looooong) time - too long, probably, because i got about 3 1/2 hours' sleep and i've been a complete wreck all day, due in no small part to being in a room with the lights off all damn day...

but we talked a bit about nashville, and the concept of my moving to nashville...i told him that i had gotten what i considered the official "ixnay" on a possibility for some fill-in gigs with a certain national act that i've been close to for a number of years, and how i was pretty certain that the only way i was ever going to make any actual progress past where i've managed to get to would be to make the move, pack my shit, and find my way south.



it got me to thinking about something that ed king wrote some time back that i remembered having read...so i went back through and found it...i might have even posted this here before, but i'm incapable of remembering at the moment.


and since it's relevant, i'm going to take the liberty of putting it in here. let me know if i overstepped my bounds, ed.


"Back in the 70s (and I'm sure this still exists today), I'd come across musicians in many small towns that were just incredible...I mean jaw-droppingly great. Never heard of any of 'em since. Some I've kept track of, some I haven't. Some have died young.

Some people just don't want to leave their surroundings and get out into the open world. Several GREAT players come to mind right now who never left 'home'. THAT IS THE ONLY REASON why I had ANY success at all. You've got to GO to where the music is. Even if you live in L.A....doesn't necessarily mean that's where it is.

I've been asked many times "What advice would you give to aspiring musician?" If you have 'style' and you know it, you've GOT TO MOVE. Oh yeah...and LOTS AND LOTS of practice.
"



thanks, ed. i'm still thinkin'.



short, i know....but i'm approaching "clinically dead" status at this point.

5.23.2005

the last word? maybe?

now playing: tom petty, "straight into darkness"



ok.



if this is how we're gonna do it, then so be it.



first of all, let's review one of your points - you gave me the option, via email, to "opt out" of the july 16th show. here's the quote, lifted directly from your email of 5:07pm on 5/2/05:

"Are you really up for the Tin Angel show or do you want to bow out now? Can I count on you to deliver the late set on July 8 at The World Cafe Live and the party in Maryland on July 16th or do we need to end it all now?..."


that's pretty clear to me - and i opted to finish the tin angel show with you, due to its proximity. the tin angel show was on 5/12. the party in maryland is 7/16. that gives you a two month period to find another guitar player before that show. (i'm also baffled as to why you'd be more upset about bailing on that show than the WCL show a week prior.)

so why offer me the option of "bowing out" and then complain about it when i take you up on it?


regarding my job, and how taxing it is - i don't have to explain to anyone who knows me and my situation what's going on with my job. as an example, a couple of weeks ago i missed a day and still had over fifty hours on my timecard.

have i booked other gigs? certainly, i have. to be specific, a friend recommended me for a series of "happy hour" gigs at a club in the town where i live. on the days that i have these gigs, l leave work approximately 25 minutes before showtime, play the gig, and i'm back at work to do my end-of-day chores by 7:30...and i'm finished with work by 8:30 or 9:00 altogether, and with a sum of money that i'm not comfortable disclosing in my pocket to show for the extra time and effort.

on nights that i had to schedule in a rehearsal, i would have to cram to try to finish my work between 6:30 and 7:00 in order to even entertain the possibility of making it to rehearsal on time...and then, as i mentioned in my earlier post, there are other factors that come into play where rehearsal is concerned that start to pile up over time.

so what i'm saying is that it comes down to a simple "asset versus liability" comparison, when it comes to accepting these gigs that i've accepted. the only gigs i've accepted, outside of these happy hour gigs, are two shows with todd's band and two shows with charlie degenhart, all of which are paid, and i've committed to a minimal number of rehearsals with todd, only because i'm doing those shows on drums instead of guitar. charlies' situation is completely self-rehearsed...he has a keys guy and myself, and we do our homework and go out and execute. it's that simple.

and most of what's on my calendar right now was put there after i discussed leaving the band in the first place.

i could meander on and on, justifying why i do what i do, for a lot longer than you'd care to read it - but the bottom line is, i take on projects based on a number of different criteria...and money isn't always chief among them. but i'm simply not in a position to bleed myself for a project at this point in my life. would i rather be playing with you than singing cover songs in front of Jimmy Buffett Nation? i sure would. but the fact is, my friend, i make more money for one of these two hour gigs than i made in the entire time i played in your band - and after this much time has gone by, i simply can't ignore that fact any longer. in fact, if you take away the CD release party from last october, i made more money in one night playing with todd's band two saturdays ago (playing original music, i might add) than i made the entire time i was in your band.


none of this is being said with any disrespect for your motives for taking on the gigs that you've taken, or for whatever your strategy is at this point, with regard to playing live. you have your reasons for doing what you're doing, obviously - and i'm not here to say they're right or wrong. we could evolve into a whole sub-discussion of the pros and cons of playing certain rooms, taking gigs for certain reasons, etc, etc...but that's none of my business - not anymore, anyway. and it's really moot at this point.

i'm sorry to hear that you feel that i was dishonest with you regarding my reasons for leaving the band - it is true that my occupational workload was the primary factor in my decision to leave the band (which i made before the absolutely abysmal gig that inspired the rants that i posted here that left you so irritated). in retrospect, had i not had the commitment that i had with my job, i would not have quit when i did - but i can assure you that by now i would've, and i would've had no qualms with telling you why.


i'm not judging your motives, or calling your strategy into question, or any of that - nor am i giving assessments of your professionalism. not that this has stopped you from engaging in all of the above, but that's beyond my control. you're entitled to your opinions, and you're entitled to air them here. i won't stop you from commenting, but i think we'd both be better off looking forward and learning from this experience, with regard to what we are or aren't willing to accept in similar situations in the future.



you'll find another guitar player - considering that you take 90% of the solos, you should have a pretty easy time rounding up someone with more than capable chops to fill the spot who'd be thrilled to be part of something like this. as such, i'd like to think that this would be a much easier pill to swallow than it's proven to be for you.


you guys will be fine. you've got a solid rhythm section, a great pile of songs to play - i don't see this as the setback that you seem to see it as.




i hope at some point that you see it the same way.

adulthood

now playing: marty higgins, "drivin' her home"


so i guess this was the weekend that i became an actual adult.


i'd love to believe that dennis hopper's character in flashback was onto something when he said that he was too old to grow up...

i don't know if i can say that.


within a 24 hour period, two transformations took place. first of all, this:










became this:










yes....i have given up the volkswagen van for something that actually starts on a consistent basis. and i don't know which bothers me the most - the stigma attached to the stereotypical minivan driver...or the fact that i'm liking this thing as much as i am.


then...the next day....i went out and turned this:









into....(gulp)....this:











so now, my head looks more like a canned ham than ever. but i don't have the huge collection of stringy split ends that i had, and no one calls me "grizzly christ" anymore....now we've shifted to "kenny rogers" - which means that some alteration to the beard is going to be necessary in the not too distant future.


oh, one more pic - this one from the tin angel gig with nik everett:












i wish i had time to delve into some of what's been going on - at work, musically, and otherwise....but i'm not much less busy thus far this week than i was last week...i'll try to stay awake long enough tonight to sit and jot down a few lines.

5.20.2005

retroactive

now playing: keith urban, "you'll think of me"



to say that things have been a tad insane at work of late would be something of an understatement. entire departments moving from one spot in the plant to another and going wireless in the process, phone lines being moved...oh, and we're still on track with the upgrade, too.

so, if there's any curiosity as to where i've been....well, i've been right here. just haven't had too many opportunities to collect my thoughts.


today, we had a service call in for repairs to one of our brand new dell servers, and the guy who came in to work on it was someone i knew from a job i had over five years ago that was part of a chapter of my life i'd just as soon forget...he recognized me, and asked if he knew me from somewhere, but i think i was successful in throwing him off somewhat. at any rate, it didn't come back up again - but it did serve as a reminder that no matter what you do to atone for wrongs of the past, it will revisit you at the precise moment that you feel like you've finally started making some headway towards putting your life in order.

or perhaps that trying to be a good person and make the right decisions in the here and now isn't necessarily retroactive. that's my lesson for today, i think.



it appears that i've gotten some of the expected flak from having made the statements i made regarding guidelines recently...and i think i'd made peace with that before i made the remarks. i have nothing left to prove (musically) to anyone at this point in my life - i'm aware of my abilities and my talents, and there are no gaping holes in my karma that will be filled by giving them away and not putting a premium of some sort on them. i don't feel a need to keep repeating the same cycle as a sideman that i put myself through as a "recording artist". i turned my back on writing and recording to spare myself all that, and i have no desire to relive any of that anymore.


at the risk of repeating myself, i find that there are certain aspects of my role as a musician that i enjoy, and there are aspects of it that come in a distant, distant second to spending time with my family or curling up and spending the evening with a book or the tv, or just being at home and enjoying doing nothing.

there are some aspects of my role as a musician that pale in comparison to doing nothing.


a great songwriter named jamie o'hara (half of the legendary country duo the o'kanes) said once that the very traits that allow a songwriter excel at his craft are the same traits that make them completely ill-equipped to deal with the day-to-day crap that goes on in the music business. sensitivity, empathy, humility, and the like have no place down in the trenches. and i don't feel the need to get down in there and duke it out with anyone anymore.


i think that one thing that i took away from my years in stone road is that it doesn't take a lot for me to be content, on a musical level. i was perfectly happy to go into some of the rooms we used to play, turn up my amp, and just roar for three or four hours. at the end of the night, i'd pack up my stuff with the rest of the guys, go home, and peel off my smoke-laden clothes and jump into the shower before dropping into bed - and i never felt as though i'd sold off some sacred part of my soul because i was playing other peoples' music or any of the things that are drilled into your head when you're hawking your own wares down there in the trenches. i enjoyed going out and executing those songs. i was good at it.


perhaps it wasn't so much of an issue for me in that band because i'd gone the route of hawking my own wares, i knew that i was capable of writing songs, and i didn't have to harbor the usual doubts with regard to whether or not i could actually write a song as good as the stuff i was playing or any of that.


and when i start work next month on this new record, it's not going to be because i have all these objectives attached to it - to get it played on the radio, to make X amount of dollars on sales, to try to get Larry Fucking Goldfarb to throw me a bone at the Tin Angel, or any of that. very simply, i'll consider doing a small production run of discs and put them on CDBaby with my first album and those who are interested can buy them if they so choose...and i'll probably sell a few hundred or so, and that'll be fine. and that's if i decide to actually print hard copies in the first place...i may just post the whole thing on the site and let people download the songs.


because at this point, i have other ways to make money - more stable and lucrative ways to make money. i don't need to do this to survive, and i don't need to prove to the world at large that i'm capable of connecting with other human beings via my music.

if i'm going to do this, it's going to be at my own pace, on my own schedule, and as a result of my own motivations. i don't feel as though i have to play the game as it's played by most folks anymore.

and in the meantime...i still love going out and plugging in my guitar and turning it up and hitting a nice loud "A" chord and feeling the back of my pants legs blowing up against my calves. and i'll do that for as long as i can - until i see no reason to keep doing it.


and when i'm done, i'll hang it up without the lingering doubts as to whether or not i "coulda been a contender", or whether i did all i could to leave whatever mark i was supposed to leave. i'll know that i did exactly what i was put here to do, both as a musician and as a human being.


and that'll be just fine with me.

5.19.2005

welcome home, dylan

now playing: david gray, "as i'm leaving"



getting out of the van and walking into the house tonight:


dylan: "awwww, man...now i have a wedgie."

me: "well, at least you can get rid of it."

jayda: "yeah...you should take antibiotics."



i haven't run out of things to say...i've just had trouble making the time to say them.

this week has been insane. but tomorrow, it's over.


look for an onslaught shortly thereafter.

5.12.2005

elementary criteria

now playing: october project, "adam and eve"


so i've been thinking about this quite a bit since my recent post regarding my personal expectations, where being part of a musical unit is concerned - and i think i've arrived at some reasonable and acceptable guidelines for myself....boundaries, if you will.

certainly, there are the obvious ones that would apply whether my personal boundaries existed or not: the usual run of musical compatibility, equal levels of talent, the appeal of the music being played...my personal list assumes that all the elementary criteria have been met.


one.

rehearsal to performance ratio.

there's really only two ways to interpret what i'm about to say - either i'm a slacker or i have a huge ego - but whether either of those things are true or not, the fact remains: i hate rehearsal. there are times when it's less painful than others (like when you're starting a new band, or when you have to break in a new member, or something of that nature), but for the most part, it's a boring, mundane exercise in repetition. i view it as a necessary evil, something to be gotten through and then set aside...once the mission of rehearsal has been accomplished.

what is the mission of rehearsal? to learn the material and polish the performance of said material.

with a professional crew, this can be accomplished more quickly than some might imagine. copies of the material are disseminated, homework is done, and rehearsal serves as a polish session, more so than a place you go to do work you could be doing at home. i'm a big advocate of learning the songs at home and coming to rehearsal ready to play them - or at least sufficiently ready to play them that you don't hold the process up while you're hashing out chord progressions and such.

and, having said that, nothing makes me crazier than rehearsing for weeks on end to play a 45 minute set opening for some wingnut that i never heard of at a club that shouldn't even be on the bands' collective radar. i use this as an example only because it's my most recent - this happens far more often than it should, and as such, i've made a personal rule for myself...thus the creation of the rehearsal to performance ratio.

my rule states to those who would consider hiring me that i will rehearse with the band no more than three times per paying gig. that's more than enough time for me to learn what i need to learn and move on. if the band in question is playing six times a month, that's never going to be an issue, as i don't know that any band that's not working up to a new record that would rehearse 18 times a month.

where that rule will become an issue is with a band who wants to rehearse once or twice a week and gigs once every other month.

never, ever again.


two.

i will not pay to play in a band.

i will happily work for free on occasion if the situation warrants it, but i will not finish another month of my life in the hole for a musical project.

to give an example -

the most recent band in which this became an issue for me rehearses at least half the time in willow grove, pa. now, from the morgantown exit of the pennsylvania turnpike, that's three dollars and twenty five cents away from me in one direction. so, with a total of six dollars and fifty cents in tolls alone, it's no exaggeration to say that every time i walk into that rehearsal space, i've probably spent twelve to fifteen dollars to put myself there. the drive takes roughly an hour and 45 minutes on average, so every time we practice, that's six hours of my life i'll never get back.

so to rehearse that 45 minute set once, i'm out six hours and thirteen dollars (we'll say on average).

so, with that in mind, you can do some quick math and arrive at the fact that, after rehearsing that 45 minute set for six weeks, my total pre-gig investment is 36 hours (almost a full work week for normal people) and roughly $80.00 - which is (with the exception of very rare instances) easily twice and maybe three times what i could expect to be paid for the gig...if there's money involved at all (which isn't the case as often as not).

so you can see how quickly and easily it is to become immersed in red ink in a situation like this.


as i said before, no more.


those are my two chief criteria for consideration of future projects. so, anyone reading this miserable little cyber-gripe session who might be considering what might entice me into a new project would really need to know little else than this.


it's not that i don't have other peeves - like learning parts for songs on several different instruments and showing up with my gear and being alloted a 24-inch square behind something in a corner and being expected to set up my gear in not much more space than i take up by simply standing with my hands on my hips, or things of that nature...but those are pretty specific annoyances that attach themselves to specific situations. these two criteria in particular are guidelines - put in place to help me make decisions about what gigs i will take in the future and what gigs i will happily say "no, thanks" to.


what's that, you say? that rules were made to be broken?

well, certainly, they are.

which is why i call them guidelines, as opposed to rules.

is there a possibility that i might hear someone who inspires me so much that i'm willing to forego my guidelines and throw caution to the wind and follow them to the ends of the earth...but then again, if you know anything about what my life is like right now, and where my priorities lie, i think you'll agree that this is a LONGSHOT, at the very least.


as i start entertaining possibilities for what i might take on next, and when that might realistically be able to happen - i think this should go a long way towards keeping some of the usual resentments at bay.

5.10.2005

constant grinding has always been...

now playing: aunt pat, "my life"



so this morning, i get an email from my buddy pete (singer/guitarist with shame), who had read my earlier post that mentioned the goofy-assed fortune cookie i got last week...for those who don't want to chase it down, it read:


"constant grinding can turn an iron rod into a needle"


now, pete wanted to point out the old game of adding the words "in bed" to the end of your fortune...and i have to admit, if your mind is in a certain place, it works...


"constant grinding can turn an iron rod into a needle in bed"


...especially if you happen to be spooning, i suppose....



not, of course, that my mind is anywhere in those regions. nope.

5.09.2005

one hundred people surveyed, top three answers on the board...

now playing: shawn colvin, "never saw blue like that"


i wonder this morning, as i take in all the editorial remarks about the sunburn i brought to work with me today, if people can tell (from the gradient redness that runs from one side of my face to the other) which side of the bleachers i was sitting in at the baseball game yesterday.


(left field bleachers, by the deck....fyi.)


oddly, it's not as painful as i'd thought it would be - the only thing that really hurts is the top of my ears, and that's only when i brush my hair or otherwise touch them.


the reading phillies got their asses kicked yesterday afternoon, outscored by almost two runs to one...but they managed to pull out a victory on saturday night, at the game that my buddy mitch and i went to. i made a friend of a little guy named shawn, who - in hindsight - probably had too much energy for nine innings' worth of sitting quietly, so we entertained each other for quite some time.


managed to spend some quality time with wendy over the weekend - we squeezed in a boehringer's trip on saturday, and i took her to the afternoon game with me yesterday...we went furniture shopping for some time afterwards, as well. and, as is par for the course where we're concerned, we managed to stay up talking until 4:20AM at least one night this weekend.


i know, i know...you couldn't possibly ask a single question that hasn't already been floated, much less the popular one - "why couldn't we have done all this before we split up?"

(visualize richard dawson gesturing over his shoulder, mumbling, "the survey SAYS...." - and the little bells going off as the number one answer plaque flips over...)


and honestly, i'm not sure. i don't know what the big obstacle was to jumping into this and getting our feet wet and dealing with these problems before we let things get so far away from us. anger. resentment. spite. all of the above.


it's a huge weight that's being lifted, though - in having been willing to take the time and summon the courage to "say all the things we never said". i've said to several people privately that if she'd had the means to get out of the house within a few days of our having decided to split, we'd never have gotten the chance to mend our fences and make peace with one another.

it's a good place we're in right now.


but (and you knew there'd be a BUT...) - there's still some work to be done. some issues that haven't really been addressed yet. some people other than the two of us who affect our relationship that have to be talked to and reasoned with and such.


and yeah - parts of it are daunting. some of it has the potential to get ugly, even.


but - one of the positive things about doing it from a distance (meaning separate homes) is that there are neutral corners to retreat to, and we both have our own spaces to take solace and shelter in until such time as a direction becomes apparent to us, whether it be alone or together.


there's considerable comfort in the knowledge that we don't have to rush to fix everything right now, and that we can deal with each other on a pace that's acceptable to both of us - as opposed to beating each other up and racing for some imperceptible finish line.


this is not to say that we have all the time in the world - i know that wendy wants certain things out of life that won't wait forever for her to move toward, and that's been discussed as well. and we both have other parts of our lives that advance whether we like it or not, and we have to deal with those things as they come up...but we seem to be cultivating a sense of security, a few steps at a time, every time we sit down to talk and don't end up succumbing to the urge to run away or turn our backs on each other.


and having said all that, i'll shut up now...having already said before that i planned to limit these kinds of entries.


there are other things to discuss, to be certain - but i'm not sure where to start on some of them.


i plan on seeking some counsel before going into detail here...as i'm still not sure if i'm doing the right thing or not.



yeah, yeah, yeah...if you wanna know, tune in later.

5.06.2005

enough

now playing: counting crows, "goodnight elizabeth"


it seems like a couple of months ago or so that i sat down and started writing a post about how easy it is to confuse so many other things with love, and how a popular method of that confusion was to mistake familiarity and comfort for actual affection.


as i'm coming to the end of my first week of post-cohabitation, a number of things are occuring to me along those lines - in terms of wondering if perhaps similar mistakes may have been made in my marriage.


before we jump to the obvious conclusion that a statement like that begs, i should make it clear that it's not me that i wonder about so much, in terms of confusing emotions...but my partner.


i've done quite a bit to alienate her, to minimize her feelings, and the like - and i'm first in line among those who would wonder why she'd feel as though she wanted to explore a future that included us as a couple. perhaps that's why, now that she's gotten a taste of living within the walls of her own environs, it's been rather difficult to see any trace of the wendy from some weeks ago - the one with whom many lengthy discussions were held regarding the previously mentioned future. almost from the moment her parents arrived to assist with the move, there was a shift of sorts - and it's lasted pretty much right up until now, and shows no signs of shifting anytime soon.

so this leaves me to wonder - did she perhaps want our relationship to evolve differently before our living situation changed than she does now?

if so, she's not talking - she insists she loves me, yet doesn't deny that things are significantly different now than before...but offers no solid reason as to why. last night, i brought up my theory as to why i thought this was happening, and she walked her customary wide circle around it and changed the subject - and the conversation was over not long afterward.


so, to the crux - would this be a case of perhaps mistaking love for familiarity? could it be that wendy wanted to maintain a connection and ponder reconciliation because i was a known factor (albeit less than ideal, in her eyes)? has the brief time that's passed since she set up house at her own address shed some new light on what she wants, where we're concerned? is the prospect of being alone less daunting than it was before it was a reality?

whether any of these things turn out to have origins in truth or not remains to be seen...but there is a modicum of circumstantial evidence to support the theory. the challenge for me will be to remain open to whatever evolves between (or in between) us over the course of the immediate future...my instinct is always to slam the door shut before someone else beats me to it, and that's usually how i handle these situations...and i'm inclined to do the same here. i mean, the hard part is already done - she's out of the house, the bills have been separated, everything's done at this point but the paperwork. so if we were to agree to cut our losses and agree to disagree at this point, it'd fall within the usual protocol for this kinda thing.

i'll certainly plead guilty to thinking that things were going to proceed differently from here, though.


uncertain. things at this point are very uncertain.

and there's certainly no comfort in uncertainty. plenty of insecurity, but no comfort.


there's a scene in cameron crowe's movie, singles, where steve and linda are washing dishes in steve's apartment and having the mandatory "ex" discussion...and linda brings up andy, the Sensitive Ponytail Man - and how he thought that passion wasn't as important in a relationship as comfort and security.

steve promptly replied, "that's bullshit." - and linda answered, "i know."

(and then steve says, "why did i have to meet you in a club?" and linda says, "i don't know.." i could go on - it's one of my favorite movies.)


but i think that some people honestly feel that way - that comfort, stability, and security are more important than whatever actual connection you might share could possibly be. but the other angle, i think, is the familiarity angle. i think that some people get to the point where they wake up in the same house with someone enough times that they don't know what it would be like to wake up somewhere else. or someone manages to intertwine their life with someone else's so much that they wouldn't know how to function without that person in their life. it has nothing to do with a romantic connection, or chemistry - they're just there, and their partner comes to expect them to just be there, without making any other demands of them or expecting anything better for themselves. sure, it's not the love of a lifetime...maybe it's not even love at all - but it's reliable, it's always there, and it's a barrier between them and The Barren Wasteland Of Single-Ness. because being single must mean being inferior, right? that's why we all fear it so much, isn't it?


certainly, the familiarity of someone with whom we share a degree of history (but no real romantic or emotional connection) must then be preferrable to the absence of companionship...if this theory has any merit.


and i think that whether or not it has any merit is up to the individuals involved. there's no Right Way or Wrong Way to do it.


i have a friend whos' had loose ties to someone in a situation similar to this for almost five years now - she's acutely aware of what's missing from it, and she's acted on it to an extent - but she's still gone from living with him to not living with him to living with him again...and she's literally the last person on earth that i would've thought would be accepting of something that emotionally basic. but it works for the two of them on some important levels - they're quite functional as a couple, and her son adores him, and they provide a great deal of support for one another. her life wouldn't necessarily improve if he wasn't around, and it would take on some significant difficulties if they actually did a clean break...so who's to judge what is important or necessary between two people in order for them to have a productive relationship? those judgements have to be made by the individuals participating in the relationship itself - outside looking in is irrelevant.


so what contitutes enough?


specifically, what constitutes enough for me?


and does the potential exist within my current set of circumstances to get what i need?


further, knowing the answer to that last question - is there a realistic chance that the situation will evolve?


or will my personal definition of enough erode until it's consistent with what i'm getting?



we all have to sacrifice
but it's a lonely price i've paid
in cutting these dreams down to size
to fit into the life we've made...


- from brand new distance (on our mutual angels), 1997

bushes alongside the sea

now playing: marty higgins, "don't you notice"



so, it would appear that today is Prog-Rock Day at the Hong Kong Buffet.

i walked in and was greeted by a bombastic soundtrack, replete with the necessary combination of Yamaha CP-70 electric grand and Minimoog, majestic drum fills, and very genesis/marillion-esque vocals in a language i couldn't quite place...it was almost (but not quite) as surreal as the time i went there for lunch and they were playing karaoke versions of soft rock hits of the seventies over the speakers. believe me, please come to boston just ain't the same without the vocals.


for some reason, though, i just wasn't into it. i had originally thought about going to fiore's for my weekly pasta fix, but i knew i had to go to the phillies box office to pick up tickets for sunday, so i postponed fiore's and went for chinese instead. i had one plate and that was all i could take.

then i got this cryptic fortune cookie (and - did you know that if the cookie lies on top of your check at just the right angle, it says "fort cook" on the wrapper? cool, huh?) - it read as follows:

"constant grinding can turn an iron rod into a needle."


now is that a lesson in persistence, or a warning, or just some drug-induced introspection? i don't really know, personally.

the chinese word on the back was a translation of "lawyer". so maybe i got maryann's fortune by mistake.


then i get back to work and am greeted by this email:


"In the middle of the night, I was walking by the sea, and baby baluga jumped out from amongst the bushes. SO one day Mr. Gregor exclaimed "Why do skater normals have no preppy either?!?!?!" So I wanted to watched. or Maybe if I wanted to watch it then I had a dream that countless historian lost their credit but i dont Remember what it was. I don't like you but can I have your autograph. No one wants your autograph so I started to cry in the pizza shop. Where did Ryan go? He must have moved to Ohio."


yeah, that's all it said.

i dunno...maybe ryan moved to ohio to be a lawyer, but got a job in a machine shop makin' needles.


or maybe i'm just being attacked by nonsensical shit from all sides today.


to add to this insanity, i dreamed last night that i was living back in the house i shared with the kids' mom on belvedere avenue, but it was just me...and i was sitting at the kitchen table talking to don henley about something...and he was about 20 or so. and one minute we were talking and it was quite comfortable, and it hit me that don henley was sitting at my kitchen table - so i asked him if he would be into coming out and sitting in with me during one of my happy hour gigs.

we worked out the details and i got out my guitar and we started going over vocal parts on a couple of songs - then the dream did a fade into me standing next to a pickup truck in a parking lot. i was standing by the drivers' side door, talking to bob otto (a music afficionado who works in the engineering department here) and tom del colle (former bartender at the grape street pub), and i told them they should stop by my next gig, 'cuz i had a special guest coming...then i vaguely remember walking into the club with don, but it wasn't the place i've been playing - it bore a strange resemblance to a barroom i used to play in as a teenager back in tennessee.

then (thank God) i woke up.

there's something about being as close to the poco fold as i am that makes me feel like something of a traitor for having those thoughts.


anyway...


there is much to report right now, but i find that i have little to say about any of it at the moment...this will, of course, change at some point in the not-too-distant future.

5.03.2005

the ingredients of identity

now playing: mae moore, "bohemia"



i returned to work today, after taking yesterday off - with hearty thanks to my allergies. both of my kids are pretty stoved in right now, too...i sent them both onto the bus with what remaining paper napkins i had hoarded in the car. so yesterday, in between blowing my nose and restraining myself from wanting to gouge my eyeballs out, i managed to do most of the laundry in the house but not much else. wendy brought lunch over before she went to the library, and we made plans to go grocery shopping after she got off work. i went along for the company - jayda and i went grocery shopping on saturday afternoon so that she could make dinner that night...she's becoming quite the cook.

friday night, i went to wendy's house after dropping the kids off at my own place - wendys' dad made some incredible steaks on the grill and we ate and talked until almost midnight. it was the conversation i'd wanted to have with them since they got here, and i felt ten pounds lighter when i left the house that night. mark and joanne are pretty incredible people...and i'm glad we were able to clear the air about some things...i'm also glad that wendy and i have created an atmoshpere in which that conversation could be had without any animosity or resentment. (wendy wants to think that the bottle of wine might have contributed to that atmosphere somewhat, but if that's what it took - so be it.)



there's a videotape that i own that the band del amitri released in conjunction with their twisted album...it's called let's go home. one of the hardest scenes to watch is a gig they take on in louisville, kentucky where they end up playing on a flatbed trailer surrounded by bales of hay to a parking lot filled to about one-fifth capacity.

the day after this nightmare of a gig, their guitar player left the band.


now, i haven't seen this thing in years, but that always stuck with me. here's a band, touring the united states with a top ten hit (roll to me), and they manage to get stuck with a gig like this. considering that this was far from their first record, and that they'd been working clubs in the US for years, one would think that they'd be in a position to leave gigs like those behind them...but noo-o-oooooo....

every time i play a gig that i find humiliating in some fashion, i think about that scene from the del amitri video.

and on sunday, i found myself thinking about that del amitri video a lot.


enough, in fact, that i found myself circling back to thoughts of putting an end to this particular phase of my career as a musician.


in the time that i've been doing this, i've played thousands - literally thousands - of shows. some of them have been financially rewarding, some of them have been musically rewarding, and some of them have been to further an agenda of some sort...and then some of them have been for no tangible reason whatsoever. for instance, the time that some guy paid me to drive all the way up to carlisle, pa, to sing don henley's heart of the matter to his estranged wife while he sat in front of her, all weepy-eyed, staring at her as if to channel the song through his serial-killer facial expression and onto the fabric of her consciousness somehow. or the time that a good bartender buddy of mine asked me to play his friends' bachelor party and do short sets in between the strippers. or any one of dozens of equally absurd scenarios that i've found myself in over fifteen years of doing whatever it is you'd call what i do.

the problem is, over fifteen years of playing in front of people, the novelty wears off. when you're 23 and you've got fire in your belly and you're convinced that the world is there for the taking, everything seems possible and you're just consumed by the thrill of standing up in front of strangers and proving yourself - over and over again, as many times as it takes.

when you're staring 40 in the face, though..and you've played (as i said) thousands of shows over the course of your career, it takes a little more than the thrill of exposing yourself in public to get the blood moving. there has to be a motivation of some sort that's separate from the act of playing the songs. this is especially true if, like me, you've long ago let go of the notion that there's some reward of some sort coming your way for all your hard work...you're no longer harboring delusions of fame and fortune, and you play music because it's in your blood and you have no idea what else to do with yourself.

when you hit this phase of your career, as i have, you're playing music for the sake of playing music.

and perhaps you feel (as i do) that once you've accepted this lot in life, you no longer feel compelled to chase the "idiot gigs" - the "showcases" in new york city on tuesday nights on a bill with seven other acts that escape the open mike category only because there's no sign up sheet...or the opening slots at clubs that dangle paid gigs in front of you like carrots if you can "just come down this once and do a set in front of (insert band name here)...they're a great draw and it'll do you good to play for their crowd". for free, of course. then there are the "benefits" for shit that no one ever heard of. and the "tribute nights" where 35 bands come in and play their favorite wayne newton song, or something equally absurd...again, for free.


"free." "gratis." "for future consideration."


"free" isn't a huge issue when you're 23.


when you're in your late thirties with two kids who deserve your attention more than "gary glitter night" at some shithole club you've never set foot in, "free" starts to become an irritant. "free" starts to take a toll on your attitude. in fact, "free" starts to eat away at whatever miniscule scrap of enthusiasm you might've had for the gig years earlier. you arrive at a point where you could give a flying fuck about the "bring your girlfriend"-s, the "food and beer for the band"-s, the "james taylor's cousins' girlfriends' gardener is gonna be there"-s.

when your life evolves to a point where playing music isn't the only thing you do anymore - where it's no longer the sole ingredient of your identity - it all just feels like a gigantic waste of time.


and maybe that's the point from which one starts to consider whether or not the effort, time, and expense put into this pursuit is for naught or not.



this is where i find myself this afternoon.