I've been looking for an acoustic guitar for quite some time. The old acoustic I used was my wife's and went with her, so I don't have one around anymore. This is fine, but it's hard to write music in a quiet apartment when there isn't a no-nonsense acoustic around to use at moments of melodic inspiration.
The fact is, however, that I'm really, really picky about acoustic guitars. I hate the "dreadnought" design and avoid most crisp-sounding instruments. I like old, plunky, parlour-sized styled acoustics, and those seem to be getting harder to come by. Also, I've started looking for an acoustic with on-board electronics so I can easily plug in for live shows. So I'm more picky than usual.
There are plenty of acoustics I'm interested in. I tried out a few here:
And what I liked the most was this Gretsch archtop... that isn't really much of an acoustic in the first place. Go figure.
I broke down a few days ago and bought a cheap guitar of off of Craigslist. I bought it for $40, but already regret it. It's a dreadnought, so it's way too big. And it doesn't sound a thing like I want an acoustic to sound like. Because it's just plain a terrible guitar overall.
Here's my first half-assed attempt at making it sound respectable.
Its action was way too high. But that's not what the guitar is for.
But I still hate it.
So today, after a meeting, I went out and got it some new strings. And I almost tuned it and tried again:
So I did it. I have an acoustic guitar to try to write again.
But all it makes me want to do is get a better acoustic so I can actually enjoy it. Today, it was this one, which sounds almost exactly like the guitar I picked for my wife:
But really I want this not-quite-an-acoustic that is much more my style, but a little too delicate for my to use at school or for campfires. This one:
And I'm super-duper interested in this one, despite its lack of on-board electronics.
This past weekend, I drove up to Smithers, BC, to visit my kids. They're living up there and I had a 3½ day weekend, so I went up to visit them. It was good to see them and I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with them. It was also a little heartbreaking, considering the length of the drive and the typical things adults need to deal with in regards to today's kids: namely, screens.
My kids do not suffer from obesity, but I find it difficult to pry them away from screens. I feel like this is a common Western parent battle, though; practically every screen-laden household needs to deal with this sort of thing. And we all have double-standards about how much screen time is too much, and when it's appropriate to use screens.
I need to regularly remind myself of how much television I watched at their age, even when "nothing was on" and I barely enjoyed it. I did this too.
But I can see how these screens mess with sleeping patterns, with relationships, with perception of the world. Because I deal with it too. Even now.
So who am I to say, "Get off the screen and pay attention to me..." when my own hand is also reaching in my pocket for my own personal screen? I may cast the first stone, but I do so as a hypocrite.
In my continuing battle against screens and digitization, I've been re-engaging more with film photography. Here are a few recent film photos from the trip to Smithers... and I digitized them in order to post them to the Internet.
These are all photos taken on a Pentax K1000 that I borrowed from the school. Black and White Kodak C-41 film was already loaded in the camera.
I've been having a lot of trouble thinking about things I could write about. It seems like things are going crazy in politics, in society, in various social movements, but I have nothing to add to the conversation, nothing that somebody else can't say more effectively.
How did I once have so many things to write about?
So here are some pictures I've taken recently.
At Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, August 2017.
At Pride in Vancouver, August 2017
At the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge a couple nights ago
I wonder how long it will take before I have something to say again?
Over the last many years, I've filled my mind with noise. Podcasts, music, and video games have filled my home; while outside, I've constantly worn earbuds and listened to podcasts. I've felt that this constant noise has stifled my creativity, so for the last few months, as I've noted before, I've tried to leave the earbuds at home and tried to make life a little more quiet. Perhaps this has been effective: I've written a few drafts and read more chapters of books than I have as of late. My techniques have been a little bit effective in helping rebuild a little creativity, even if I'm not at the point where I can complete a project.
Nonetheless, the practice has also highlighted the reason I was filling my brain with noise in the first place: when a person lives alone, their mind has a lot of time to fold in on itself. I have spent the last nine years with constant kid-noise in my life; for the last 10 months, my kids haven't lived with me, and my home is often unbearably silent. I imagine I was filling my brain with podcasts and whatnot to compensate for the silence, to avoid reflecting on my loneliness and sense of failure.
I've read articles that highlight how difficult it is for adult men to build new friendships, so I've been trying to do deliberate things to develop new adult friendships. That's been one of the main reasons I've been involved with community theatre, for example: it's an easy way to work with fellow adults on a creative project. In less organized circles, I've met a few other musicians and tried to get connected a little better with co-workers. I've tried to be deliberate about building new relationships, and even tried to reconnect with a few older relationships. So far so good.
There's an odd surprise though: worthwhile people reach out to me and say, "Let's hang out," but they then don't invite me out to anything. This first seemed strange to me, but now that I think of it I imagine they're in the same boat, waiting for someone to invite them out. What a mess.
And this is where I have to battle my own sense of self-worth. It's very hard to invite people out to hang out when I barely feel like I'm worth anything, when the negative self-talk hits heavy the moment I pick up the phone. I don't want to hang out if I can't provide some positivity to someone's life, and since I see myself through such a negative lens, I can easily talk myself out of meeting up. It's ridiculous; it's a classic self-destructive cycle.
Because I know that I can be a positive person; I know people don't see me as negatively as I see myself; I know people have their own stuff going on, likely much more confusing and traumatizing than my own issues.
Last night, as I was packing up my setup at the restaurant in Harrison, I wound-up talking with someone and trying to explain something in my life, and I realized I was articulating myself poorly, that I was getting defensive. And the person I was talking to said it very simply: "Being an adult is complicated." And it was just enough of a reminder to me that I don't need to be quite so frustrated with my own lot.
So what's my next step, then? Well, I think I need to grab the bull by the horns and invite people out to hang out for a bit, even if it's only for an hour, even if I feel like I have nothing to say. Clearly none of the other lonely-ish men I know are going to take that initiative, so I need to do it a bit myself. For years, I had excuses of different sorts, but I don't think they wash anymore. I'm a separated man and my life is complicated and weird, but that doesn't mean I'm not worth hanging out with, it doesn't mean I need to be so ashamed of myself.
To go back to my original point, I still have lots I need to do: I'm still floundering at work, still having trouble memorizing my lines for the play, still have children who live a 12 hours' drive away, but perhaps I need to start, when I pick up the phone to turn on a podcast, calling someone to say "hello" instead. I need to prioritize real voices, with back-and-forth conversations, instead of the one-way conversation of talk radio.
And perhaps, if I get myself dealing with real people on a regular basis again, I might be able to feel good enough about myself to handle the silence again, to be alone with myself, to not want to fill my brain with the noise of forgetting.
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