Sunday, December 26, 2010

you know you want to

i heard a line in a song today, what was it.... well, no matter.  the line meant something to me for a completely random reason.  and the idea that i can somehow grasp what my music means to me and why i do it and what it’s going to mean to people and blah blah blah blah is just absurd.  truly, truly absurd.  not only impossible, but absolutely, and in all other ways, unnecessary.  i do what i do, and that’s all i need to know.  it is not only not-helpful to anticipate how people are going to accept things, it’s tremendously limiting.  i can’t possibly ever know what something is going to mean to someone.  i guess i have this constant need to “understand” what my place is in the world, the music world i guess, because the rest of it i have a pretty good relationship with.  i can walk down the street smiling and feel pretty good about it, but it’s absolutely exhausting struggling with my musical identity.  i’m realizing some incredible things though, and it’s just like: no WONDER!!!!!  shit.  aside from feeling the constant pressure of what i know other people think i should be doing, there’s the huge and profound realization that i don’t feel i can rely on myself, for anything.  seriously.  i keep catching these glimpses of the true power tapped into when i really just let whatever it is flow through me.  and it keeps coming down to the stunning and stubborn disbelief that people could possibly find it interesting to watch me plucking strings on a guitar.  i’m trying to drill it in that PEOPLE ENJOY MUSIC.  PEOPLE LIKE TO SIT AND RELAX AND LISTEN TO OTHER PEOPLE PLAY MUSIC.  i’m trying to make the shift from “guilty until proven innocent” to “innocent until proven guilty.”  i keep feeling that i have to prove myself to the big boys, that every single person who hears me is one of them, listening with spectacles and a big red pen.  

and have i mentioned reputation yet?  i’ve got it drilled in to my head that i have to be “professional” and if i’m not it’s just a silly mistake that’s not worth it.  but the only motivation to be professional is to make money.  right?  if you aren’t professional then “they” won’t take you seriously, and if “they” don’t take you seriously you’re screwed.  you’re banned from any chance of getting into that club.  but.....but what about the really fun club?  the truly creative, driven by love and passion club?  the club that is playful and isn’t afraid to laugh at itself?  the personal club?  ("because whatever else anything is it ought to begin by being personal" ;)  again, it’s that inside out vs. outside in thing.  it has to come from me first.  accepted or not once it’s out, that is totally not even my concern.  do what is pure, do what feels right, nothing else matters.  and i never will get to see myself objectively as an artist.  we don’t get to do that.  so what can i do instead?  i can write songs that mean something to me, and give them the chance to mean something to someone else too.  people like music.  i make music.  that’s all i ever need to know.  

something i recognized today is that i feel like i have to be strong enough to support all of my songs all the time.  that if someone out there is going to pour meaning into a song i have written, and therefore lean on it, in some way, i have to be strong enough to hold it, and them, up.  and i know i can’t do that, so instead i keep just trying to write songs that are strong enough to do it without me.  songs that aren’t guilty by association with me.  some worthy endeavor, i know..... arggggggggg.  i don’t have to beat myself up over how stupid it is i just have to let it go.  i just have to let it all go, i know.  but that means something different every day.  there is nothing that truly remains the same.  even the most solid relationships in the world are not solid at all.  we choose every moment, we react every moment.  i am never going to have the same reaction to anything ever, but we condition ourselves.  "this makes me happy"... and maybe it’s true, that every time you see something, or hear something, or smell something it makes you happy, but part of that is surely the sheer delight of something, yet again, sparking that deep and joyous beauty in you.  it cannot be taken for granted.  it is a dangerous expectation that certain things will make you feel good every time.  i fear that happiness itself can be extinguished if it “fails” us.  

the more things become unraveled for me the more i can see the millions and billions of joints where there is potential for everything to fall apart.  it is as i see myself, as a plethora of tiny parts, and not as a unified whole.  i’m a little overwhelmed to realize that i cannot, indeed, hide from the world.  i cannot make time stand still, and nor can i cease the decision making process.  i can, of course, stand in a dark corner with my eyes closed but i am still radiating just as much intention of energy as i would be on a stage in front of thousands of people.  this is both terribly troubling and comforting.  i don’t know where i am tonight.  i’m “doing everything right,” i’m taking care of myself, i’m allowing myself quiet time to simply sit there and not “do” anything, i’m indulging on anything that will make me feel good, including curling up on the toilet under a towel because there was a beautiful song playing and i’ve always liked the feeling of the toilet seat after a bath when my bum is still kind of wet.  i’m doing all that, i’m just not....really....understanding.  something is still a bit off....and perhaps i just can’t stop analyzing.  perhaps it is the outside voices i can’t turn off, not the inside.  a constant checking in with what “the world” thinks i should be doing.  and “the world” has some great ideas, don’t get me wrong, the world is full of voices like my mama’s, and strangely’s, and phil’s, and all those people that believe in me and have pretty straight-forward ideas on how i can better help myself do what it is i am claiming i want to do.  and that’s great, i shouldn’t turn those off right?  but....i also don’t want to do things just because those voices think it’s a good idea.  i need to agree, i need to have some intrinsic pull towards such things.  and i’m seeing how much i want to make absolutely nothing happen so much of the time.  i don’t want to make anything happen that i don’t trust, and we’ve established how much i don’t trust myself, so it’s never the right time to do anything.  i am afraid of change, totally.  as much as i love it, and newness life, and newness is magic, and newness is a brand new opportunity, and newness is pure, i’m terrified of it.  because really, any book i’ve ever read, any speaker or singer i’ve ever heard, any good advice i’ve ever gotten, any mantra i’ve ever adopted, these are all things.  things that i took from the outside world and made my own.  if i don’t trust myself, they don’t mean shit.  really.  they mean no more than the paper they are printed on.  they are empty.  i pour my own meaning into things, and then i want it to be there every time.  i want to return to the  words and magically feel all better.  and i know i won’t.  i just don’t know what to do/think/count on instead.  i see all the fallacies, i just don’t know what else there is.  

“just let go”...... sure, but that has to mean something before i can do it.  really, my brain is devising plans on how to go about this.  whatever i need, however i need to go about things.  at this point i accept my reliance on words, on phrases, on ideas, though i am trying to be open to the reality that my understanding of said words/phrases/ideas will change, and grow, and it is ok.  reaching for the best feeling thought, yes.  this too will pass, yes.  what do i want at any given moment, yes.  i may actually make a list of these things....though i fear that is exactly what will render them meaningless.  there must be something.....something i can always reach for and not feel doubt that it is another trap.  something strong enough that my self-doubt cannot destroy it.  

i smile, though it’s a sad state of affairs.  i guess it’s just that we’re taught, even in ‘enlightenment,’ that everything goes in cycles, there are ups and there are downs.  which is great, sure, but to me that means i am going to feel good, and then i am going to feel bad, and that’s just the way it is.  it therefore seems unattainable that i can feel “good” all the time, that feeling “good” is my natural state of being and always there if i only choose it.  again, there’s the “me” voice (hopeless optimist) and the “world” voice (serious downer).  (or maybe it’s the other way around....good, i’m glad to be confused about that.)  and the real truth is: i don’t know what the fuck i want.  i “know” that it’s the only thing i have to “know,” the only thing that i need to be concerned with, but “knowing” is just a word.  it doesn’t mean shit.  i still have way too much shit to wade through to be able to “know” anything.  and i guess the best thing i can do with that is be ok with it.  

this is where i am today, this is how i understand myself to the best of my ability today.  this is me today.  and tomorrow it will be different.  tomorrow i will be different.  and whether that seems like a blessing or a curse, it doesn’t matter.  and i guess today i am taking nothing for granted.  today everything is truly a new choice.  everything.  my relationship and love for my family and friends, my music, my goals, my joys, really just myself, when it comes down to it.  i’m thinking that’s how it “should” be, i guess.  that if every moment we choose our reality, then choose it.  choose to love your family and friends, choose to be a kind and creative individual, and be reminded why you are, and do, so.  at any given moment, what is it you want?  such an easy thing to lose sight of.  such an easy thing to let become habit.  such a hard thing to describe.  i catch glimpses of tremendous meaning in things i’ve heard a thousand times.  we are all in this together.  i know we are.  i’m just afraid of changing anything, ‘cause i don’t know if it’s the right thing to do.  i take great responsibility upon myself if i change the world.  i am stopped by the hesitation of wondering if it is worth it, and if i am ready.  
may i say to myself now, and forever: 
yes.  
if you trust the universe then you trust yourself.  if you don’t, well, at least you know you want to.  go from there.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

come in big bad wolf

come in big bad wolf, let's talk about it.  there are some things i need to say to you, some good advice i'd like to share, and i want very much to rest assured that you know how much i love you.  i see you; you can't hide who you truly are from me, and you are beautiful.  you are beautiful.  and you are not wrong; you are never wrong.  you are just being guided by forces that are not good for you.  the ways in which you try to protect me and help me are really unhelpful at times, but i know it is never deliberate.  i know you would never really try to hurt me.  but i need you to know how uncomfortable it is for me at times.  i need to draw my boundaries.  you are always welcome with me; you are always safe with me.  but there are ways of which i love myself too much to be treated, and i need it to be clear to you what those ways are.  if you are ever not clear, please ask.  you want me to listen to you, but you are not willing to listen to me.  you want me to keep you around, but you are not willing to work with me toward our better good.  when you treat me with respect and kindness you treat yourself with respect and kindness and i want nothing more in the world than to know you feel capable of doing that.  i want you to know how good it feels to love yourself, and how good it feels to let that love in from others.  it's there.  you don't have to earn it, you don't have to find it, you don't have to deserve it.  it's who you are.  i love you, with all of my being.  please let me in. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

more than happy

BBW #2: that my guitar playing is too quiet if i’m finger picking, that there's just not enough there to build on.  so i try to make it louder and then just blunder the hell out of it.  but i’m uncomfortable playing with a pick ‘cause that makes it louder, and most likely my guitar’s out of tune and making it louder therefore makes it worse. 


the truth is the guitar has its own voice, it’s own subtleties.  it’s much harder for me to record just guitar, and then just vocals.  i know it’s better overall for the technical quality factor, but it loses something, a cohesiveness, a fuel, a mutual support.  that aside, i know it is a good skill to have, so i’ve been practicing.  and as always, i'm looking for, and finding, the positive.  and i’m finding that when the vocal melody is not there to drown it out, the guitar (even mine!) is more than happy to sing, and more than happy to offer up ideas that i couldn’t hear before.  the danger in that of course being that once you try to do something you’ve been doing all along it becomes impossible :)  one more reason to get out of the way.  

oh, and i’ve been trying hard to keep the cat from walking on my 8-track, but she must’ve gotten on it at some point ‘cause last night when i went to turn it off there was a tuner up on the screen.  i’ll be damned. 

the kind of nice

i have been really nice to myself today.  like really nice, like the kind of nice that you reach when you’re on mushrooms and the world is so damn warm and alive and beautiful that your eyes are watering and you’re choked up for six hours.  i shared a moment with my boss at terra organica, stephen, one night at the store and when i went to express my gratitude for the amazing customers we get in there, and the wonderful, genuine, beautiful exchanges of energy i had experienced that night (that make up so much for the nasty yucky ones....i’d had a couple of those too) i totally choked up even talking about it!  that unconditional love that is just the purest thing there is, and when it’s mutually and honestly shared between people?  forget about it!  ;)  
so that’s the kind of nice i have been to myself today.  the kind that feels so good to receive, but even better to give..... and my big appreciations for little things was out of control.  i visited my reverbnation page and couldn’t contain myself that twenty-one people are signed up for my email list!  i have fifty-nine official reverbnation fans!  i was shrieking with delight!  and why not?  why not find that absolutely, perfectly incredible?  i will keep going!  people are interested!  lovely!!!!!  i made phone calls that needed to be made (because i knew how good it was going to feel to make them :), i worked on an awesome project for a dear friend, i took a lovely shower (at the end of which i marveled (loudly!) at my body’s beauty when faced with the giant mirror that lay in wait, i made myself a delicious (and disgustingly nutritious ;) dinner, and among all this recorded a new song.... man, you should have heard my encouragement to myself!  genuine.....really, truly genuine, and really, truly grateful and amazed that i am finally really getting to know this girl.  i would never, ever, ever willingly and consciously stand in her way.  in fact i’d bulldoze down anyone else that would!  i am going to support the shit out her from now on, because i can, because i like her, and because she needs it.  not to mention that she’s a %$#&ing rad musician!!!!  damn girl!!!! 
all i can say is:
thank god for right now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

whatever i need to do.

BBW: anything that the big bad wolf says to me, pretty much, but particularly those things that i actually feel are really getting the better of me.... i.e. things i’m having a “temporarily impossible” time letting go of.  (i remain practicing the focus of the really interested witness.)  

BBW #1: there is an underlying fear that i am somehow doing something wrong.  that there are things people would look down at if they knew right now.  that i am morally lacking, somehow, in an any given situation.  my list of confessions right now would be that: my underwear, among other things, are (for whatever reason...?) strewn around three different rooms in someone else’s house (i’m house-sitting, just house-sitting!), i didn’t record a song yesterday, or today, like i “publicly” declared i was going to, i’m completely pining away over the boy i’m “supposed” to be getting over, i haven’t called my dear mary to thank her for her letter, i haven’t “done” anything to make my life goals come true today, i didn’t want to do anything to make my life goals come true today, i’m still in my pajamas, i’m still terrified of time, i’m still stubborn as hell, i’m still stuck, i’m still me, i’m still hiding out in a house in the middle of singer-songwriter heaven... i think that covers it, mostly.  yeah, guilty as hell for not going out to explore, and more so for not even wanting to.  what i want to do is stir the bubbling cauldron of the world from right here, exactly where i am (which is hard to do when you’re feeling guilty as hell).  aha!...but i can :) ... isn’t that what all this universe talk is about?  right....?  right...?

i am not doing anything wrong.  i am not doing anything wrong.  do you know how unbelievable that sounds to me?  whatever i need to do.  whatever i need to do.  whatever i need to do is ok.   

ok....

ok?

ok.

Friday, December 10, 2010

newfound guitar tuner

tonight i am tuning my guitar.  that’s my goal, and the goal underlying that is that i want to better myself as a musician, and the goal underlying that is that i want to be a better person, and the goal underlying that is that i’ll feel better, and the goal underlying that is that the better i feel, the better i will be able to offer my gift to the world.  and my gift is the same as everyone else’s gift when it comes down to it: to let our light shine.
so tonight i am tuning my guitar.  tonight i am dealing with the ridiculous yet firm belief that i cannot actually do it.  that it is a physical and mental and emotional impossibility in my current state of human being to tune a guitar.  tonight i have gone through (not all the way, we’re still going) so many depths of awareness and “stories of my life” that it’s mind-boggling.  so many “separate” struggles encompassed so eloquently in this one task.  and this one task, as i am finding out, represents that i have built a dream on a shitty foundation, and have spent half of my lifetime setting myself up for humiliation and ridicule (not that it would actually come from anybody...but i fear it all the same) and stunting any kind of musical growth with this childish ball and chain of “i’ve never had any sort of musical training or lessons...i don’t know shit about music theory....i don’t even have my strings memorized,” like that’s a good thing... and not even that it’s a good thing but more the only thing i've got.

it’s like, oh it’s totally like that person’s name that you can’t remember (ever) and it’s super embarrassing and they can never know, and no matter what kinds of interactions you have, you can’t really get anywhere because you’ve got this big deep dark secret you’re trying desperately to hide... and you just can’t really pay attention.  i am beyond embarrassed about the fact that i if you put me on stage with an out of tune guitar i will panic, and truly not be able to fix the problem.  chances are better that i will instead inherently fall back on the “hey everybody, look what i can do despite the fact that i’m a moron.  isn’t it cute?”  
so, the story goes:  i panicked because the battery in my pick-up died, therefore disabling my tuner (that i thank god for every day).  totally panicked.  and then made a stand to calmly began the journey.  i believed for so long that it was waste of time to actually learn how to tune when we have machines to rely on now, to precise degrees.  i wanted to record damn it!  i wanted it to sound good!   now!  and only when it became quite clear that really the only way i was going to be able to record (or even move in that direction, and therefore get closer to that ultimate goal of feeling good and letting my light shine...) was to calm the fuck down, take some deep breaths and begin baby talking myself through it.  i’m a smart person.  i make music.  i rely on notes to illustrate my stories.  i can’t sing off key if i try (unless i’m terrified... or dive off knowingly into uncharted waters... but my voice will close off as soon as i realize the blunder--SAVE THE DIGNITY!!!)  anyway, point being that i know a good note when i hear one!!!!!!!  it’s my language.  and yet i have a firm voice in my head that’s been telling me for fourteen years that i can’t tune a guitar.  
the notes are there.  and i swam through an infinite ocean of ways to find them.  and what i came up with was a big complex system of checks and balances.  i tune my ukulele (that’s a whole other story....) by chords.  i play a chord until it sounds right, then check other chords and adjust until everyone is happy.  good?  good.  and then i thought it mighty brilliant (and supportive...as that’s been my word for the last few days) to use my voice as the bridge between notes from the strings.  i know what i want to hear next but then just can’t decipher if what i do hear is too high or too low (“there’s supposed to be a bridge around here somewhere....we must be too far north.....or too far south.”  yeah, “some guide.” :)  so i would sing the note i felt (with more than just ears) needed to come next and then adjust the string to it.  right?  switching my reliance to the thing i desire to feel most strongly about?  i consciously checked back in with the quick 5th/7th fret run through, and though not perfect, it came out reasonably enough.  and another lesson, again, to step back and go by the whole, instead of the micro lens difference between two things (especially when even this is a system among many components).  

go by what you know.  i know when a whole chord doesn’t sound right and even i can admit that i’ve got an inkling about which string it is, and if not at least a little gut feeling about the only two directional choices available, a newfound willingness to at least try one of them, knowing that if it isn’t right, then, well, i go the other.  and back and forth and back and forth ‘til the cows come home if i have to, ‘cause it’s there.  it’s there.  it’s just a matter of stopping at the right place and time.

with love,

newfound guitar tuner

welcome :)

well, there's no time to start like right now.  sometimes that's at the beginning, sometimes in the middle.  sometimes it's long after the "real story" is over.

right now i am.  that's it.  that's all i know.

and i have decided, for reasons that, in themselves, are not important, to let the world in on my life.  not that anyone is beating down the door...but if anyone's knocking....well, welcome :)