While housesitting for my friends in New West, I recorded two little covers for my Under the Covers with Jeff series on my YouTube channel. My friend owns a pretty-great-sounding flamenco guitar so I used it on both of them. 'Tis strange to play an acoustic when you don't usually have one around.
The first one I recorded was Robert Vaughn's "House of my Friends," an obscure little song for which I can't even find the words for on the Internet. I did my best to transcribe them, but I feel like a couple of them "missed." One day, when I track down the No Sense of History CD where I discovered it as a hidden, uncredited track, I'll post that to YouTube so people can hear the thing.
The second song I tried out, a week later, was Leonard Cohen's "Coming Back to You." This gave me a good excuse to properly learn the song's lyrics, which I'd bungled many times before. It's an interesting song because it seems to be one of his most popular songs for people to cover; it even appears twice on the Tower of Song tribute album.
I'm back in Agassiz again, but will spend four more days in Coquitlam trying to teach this ESL camp again. In the meantime I've also booked a gig at a small hotel in Harrison Hot Springs for Saturday night, my first attempt at playing live in a formal way for the last couple years, since I told myself I wasn't going to play solo anymore. I'm a little scared, but hopeful.
And I'll get to see my kids again in a couple weeks! That's the most exciting thing of all.
I have jumped on the opportunity to do some housesitting for some friends in New Westminster. I am teaching, if it can be called that, a group of Chinese 11-13 year old students in Coquitlam, so it's good to be able to live closer to that job for time and money's sake, even if it's only or a week.
I don't know if I'm a good city-liver. I may have spent too many years out in the country to handle the traffic, but I genuinely enjoy using the SkyTrain to meander around the city. Tomorrow morning I will take the SkyTrain to work for the first time ever, and I might be practically excited about it.
I'm a transit dork. But transit gives me a chance to read, to think, to not stress about traffic, and a good excuse to walk from one place to another.
A few photos I took today:
The mosquitoes have been brutal up in Agassiz, so I've been doing my runs closer to YVR when I have the chance. I've found running a useful way to explore the cities so I can get to know them better. I've discovered a little foot bridge in Coquitlam, run back and forth over the Pitt River Bridge, and explored a series of parks in New West, all with running. I kind-of hope that this housesitting venture will give me my first chance to run the seawall in Stanley Park, although I expect I will be passed by numerous chiseled, svelte native Vancouverites.
And tomorrow I will return to my sparse classroom in Coquitlam to try to get these campers to speak and listen to some English.
My family's all broken up. A few days ago, my children moved an 11 hours' drive away, and I'm a bit of a mess. A few hours ago when I heard the phone ring, I literally jumped. In the meantime, I've misplaced my school keys and have absolutely no idea where they are. Clearly, my mind is complete mess and my anxiety's through the roof.
So a couple days ago, while trying to distract myself from my anxiety about their travels, I recorded this weird little cover of Taylor Swift's "Style."
Why "Style?" Because it's a perfect little pop song. It's self-aware in its shallowness and creates tropes where there weren't any before. Its melody is thick and it creates a sort of self-destructive image that makes me think of one of those Tumblr blogs that feature a series of disconnected images that create a singular, ephemeral sentiment.
I don't know when I first heard "Style," but I distinctly remember when it first stood out to me: I was at the Chilliwack Landing pool on one of their $2 Sunday night swims, and the "Take me home" section of the song echoed through the swimming pool, and I thought That's something special. I didn't know it was Taylor Swift, and I only narrowed it down to her a couple months later, when I was walking under some speakers outside a Shopper's Drug Mart and I thought That's really good.
Anyhow, I made a video. I probably should have changed the key to something a little more in my range. But I did it and it's done. And Now I need to find some other ways to distract myself from the fact that my kids are so far away.
Now where are those keys?
I've struggled with negative self-talk for my entire life. I tend to curse myself under my breath and, on a daily basis, tell myself oodles of BS about my own incompetence and lack of value. It's an ugly habit that I've been trying to unwind from for years, particularly when I first started working through Mind Over Mood in 2009. But the negative self-talk persists—when I'm out for a walk, when I try to make sense of my past, when I realize I should have said something else, when I realize I should have been more thoughtful, when I can't figure out why I'm feeling what I'm feeling.
Some might say I need to make a new story for myself, a new narrative. And within the last few months, a couple of my go-to content creators have made a couple lovely bits to reflect just such an idea.
I've written about The School/Book of Life before, but this week's video hit home, not only because of the references to Macbeth, but for its practical advice for new narrative-building.
My favorite part of this episode is:
Not all the disasters were wasted anyway. Maybe we spent a decade not quite knowing what we wanted to do with ourselves professionally. Maybe we went through a succession of failed relationships that left us confused and hurt a lot of people. But these experiences weren’t meaningless because they were necessary to later development and maturity. We needed the career crisis to understand our working identities; we had to fail at love to fathom our hearts. No one gets anywhere important in one go. We can forgive ourselves the horrors of our first drafts.
This "Art of Charm Toolbox" episode focuses on "Narrative Building" as a means to build charisma and a positive self-image.
My favorite part of this episode is summarized here:
Think of your narrative — your hero’s journey, as illustrated by mythologist Joseph Campbell — as a riff on the narratives that brought you where you are today and not a carbon copy of those existing narratives. To know yourself, you need to tell your own story.
So what story to tell though? To be honest, I don't know.
Here are the basics though:
No one wants to read a boring life story, including myself. I don't want to write a self-narrative that bores me to tears.
So what story do I need to narrate?
I recently took this blog offline and made my tweets private because I applied to a fancy-dancy job last month and had an interview for it last Monday. I didn't get the position, but I'm a little relieved. I know how to play it better for next time and I can spend some time building my leadership resume.
I'd got myself all dolled-up—haircut and new shirt and pants—and that was kind-of fun. A little jarring after growing that beard, but I wanted to put my all into it. And now that it's done, I can get back to blogging and make my tweets public again.
However, of course, it makes me also wonder if I'm entirely mis-aiming my life right now. Especially when I listen to interviews like this one:
Like, I finished a leadership degree, but do I really want to lead people? And if I do, do I really want to lead a school? Have I totally chosen the wrong approach to this?
Or, as the cliche might read, am I living my truth, my authentic self?
The truth is, I don't know.
Really, perhaps I'm expecting too much of myself. Perhaps I expect too much of a personal connection to what I do. Perhaps good enough is good enough.
The other day a friend called me an "anxious overachiever."
Perhaps that's my very own personal syndrome, no?
The Internet Archive
YouTube: ephemeral ideas