Last night: "Take my Breath Away."
I will be playing at the Valentine's Dinner at the Hot Springs Villa and Restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs on... wait for it... Valentine's Day. As a result, I need to learn how to play some proper love songs.
Here's "Take My Breath Away," a song I clearly remember enjoying as a kid, feeling like it was a good-quality song overall. As a kid, I couldn't hear just how dated the synthesizers were, how oddly repetitive the lyrics were, and just how weird the song was.
So I gave it a little bit of a bossa rhythm, which I consider... appropriate.
Here's the original. Berlin have re-recorded it a few times, so it's important to make sure you listen to this official video-version. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't overdub a different version of the song on the "official" video.
Didn't realize that Moroder was a co-writer until I printed it off. Cool, Here's the best Moroder thing:
Last Friday, I visited the open mic night at the Tractorgrease Cafe down on the Chilliwack River Road. It was a good night. I played my first two songs from my New Year's resolution to write a song a week. They seemed to go over well; I got some good feedback.
I happened to sit down next to a party of three who had shown up to Tractorgrease for the first time. We got to talking pretty easily. The most outgoing of the bunch had the gift of the gab and told stories about his past, his good business dealings, his satisfied life, and his aspirations for the future. It was nice to hear a bunch of stories from someone who seemed so confident about their values and place in the world.
He talked about money. He described various accomplishments and said, "Most people don't know what serenity you can find when you stop worrying about money. I hope you find that sort of serenity yourself." And I agreed that I'd like to have that sort of serenity.
I totally get it. I worry about money. I think about money a lot. Too much.
To me, there's a money spectrum of sorts. On the one end, there's the reality that money is just a human construct that has no real bearing on our inner lives; if a meteor hit the earth and vaporized everything, the next society wouldn't naturally evolve a money-based system. There are almost always ways to gather enough money to get by, no matter what challenges there might be in the world.
On the other end, money is a reality that has real consequences in our society. Although it's not worth worrying about, it's also such an integral aspect of our lives that we need to take it into consideration. And sometimes, oftentimes, we have to do things we don't really want to do in order to get some of the money necessary to do the things we actually want to do.
Back to the cafe last Friday: this is all Captain Obvious stuff, but it seemed like this guy next to me was advocating for the one side of the spectrum: don't worry about money; breaking free from the shackles of money brings "solace" (his words). Simultaneously, he described a lifestyle well beyond my ability in any way: lavishing loved ones with gifts, owning a boat, and various hedonistic pleasures.
So it seems like, at least in this case, if you have enough money... you don't have to worry so much about money.
I'd like to think I don't worry as much about money as I used to, and that might be the case. I've kinda' settled for my lot in life these days, considering that I've topped-out on my pay scale for this position. Apart from incremental salary increases over the next few years, the only ways I can make a few extra bucks here and there are through side hustles of sorts. I can handle that. And I'll be OK as long as I can generally hold myself together and keep my job. And perhaps a good, consistent job would be the best way to be kind to future-self anyhow.
But I'm going to keep my eye out for those ways that I can build a better income for myself. I'm admittedly jealous/envious of people who can be a little more free with the stuff. Not envious enough to take a big risk at the moment, but enough to keep an eye on the horizon.
ON ANOTHER NOTE: A couple days ago, Facebook brought it to my attention that it was my 3rd anniversary of playing at the Tractorgrease Cafe. Here's a clip from that little set:
I played at the Hot Springs Villa on Saturday night. It felt like an "off night," and I couldn't quite seem to connect to the crowd. But I got at least one OK video out of it.
Here's me singing Roger McGuinn's "On and On."
Here's the orginal.
Also from Saturday night, I shaved my horrendous moustache.
In 1997, while I was taking Comparative Civilizations 11 class at Stelly's Secondary School in Saanich, I chose to write a research paper on Stonehenge. I couldn't find enough on the topic at my school library, so I expanded my scope: I decided to visit UVic's McPherson Library instead. I distinctly remember searching for appropriate books on the computer and navigating the third floor mezzanine; I remember the old-paper smells, the stifling warmth, the entire atmosphere of that first-time library research experience.
After two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree that spread between 1998 and 2016, I've adapted to different library research processes. Through my undergrad, I used books and articles as much as possible; I'd spend hours in libraries, ordering the books in from other libraries, copying articles in the reading room, searching through microfiche, and now and then through JSTOR and other archives. I enjoyed this overall, perhaps because I got to spend so much time walking around, thinking, reading, assessing and whatnot. For my master's degree, between 2012-2016, however, I spent most of my research time in front of a computer, reading through pdfs of archived articles in various journals and ebook publications. I felt this wasn't quite as enjoyable, although this may have also been a matter of content.
In the classroom, I've noticed a similar process. Early in my teaching career, I developed some good research project assignments that gave students good research skills that they could apply to any library or resource. I had them use their school libraries as much as possible and they made some genuinely good assignments. Students got used to using tables of contents and indices, and got familiar with the ways we can find information in multiple places in a library. I enjoyed teaching this so much that I even made research projects with the students themselves.
But over the last few years, this has been distinctively more difficult and discouraging. Assignments intended to improve students' research skills, much like my own research project for my Master's, have moved largely online. And with that move, online problems have moved to the fore. The school library isn't being stocked in the ways I wish it was for their topics; instead, they're reading ebooks on a screen. This is their normal, so I can't complain too much. But it certainly seems problematic when I feel like they haven't learned the basics of how to assess whether a text is legitimate or not.
In light of the "fake news" phenomenon, there's something to be said about how easy it is to self-publish an ebook, post it to Google Books, and have it appear as a legitimate source. As much as I've tried to create assignments and ideas that help students sift through the legions of unedited sources out there, there's no easy answer for them.
I need to find ways to help them understand how to assess these sorts of books critically. I also, however, distinctly remember spending time in the public library myself, taking time at the end of the day to do the research work when the school library didn't make the cut. It's hard for me to sympathize fully with them when I know the work I would have done to make my own work... work. I like that the Internet has made so much information more accessible, but it's made people expect information to be at their fingertips. Even with access to the UVic libraries' database, I always was ready to look for physical books myself, to take a walk and search through the indices of a tangible book.
Ironically, there's a public library branch right next to the school where I work. I have feeling, however, that I use it far more than most of my students ever would. And as much as I know this is related to my upbringing and age, I find it sad that I can't seem to motivate students to check out the library themselves. I need to find a way to make that happen despite myself.
So how do I make visiting the library more appealing to my students?
On adult friendship.
A few months ago I wrote a little bit about trying to "get out there" and make friends. This is an enduring process and I can't say I've done much good at it so far. I've started being able to talk more to some people at karaoke; I'm still connected to some people from the play. This is all good. As the New York Times editorial says (embedded above), I find I "'take an extremely efficient approach and seek out like-minded folks to fill very specific needs.'" And I'd like to think that's OK.
For example, I find myself seeking musicians to play with. When I was younger, I basically gravitated towards other musicians and they gravitated towards me. It was astoundingly easy to find other musicians to play with. Today, however, i find myself far more picky; I play with musicians with high hopes, but don't seem to have the patience I once had with musicians who might not blend so well with me. But here I go, still seeking out some people to fill the "musician need" in my life.
Out of all this, I've grown far more aware of the importance of old friends, of those friendships I developed long before I got so picky. I've found myself reconnecting with them in the old ways: by telephone, by dropping in when I'm in the area. This has been good. I've been grateful for this because these people who've known me for the longest amount of time tend to know me best, because they can saw the good in me before I may have jaded them.
I still maintain connections with plenty of people I knew from University, church, summer camp, and high school. Facebook has helped me keep in touch with a few of them, even though I don't see them often. This is good too, I guess. I used to be cynical about the way Facebook seemed such a shallow gathering place, and I still am, but more importantly I use Messenger to say "Hello" to people when I'm in the area, when I feel like I might have the opportunity to drop by. This is good.
There's an irony in this: I used to feel pretty critical about how my parents seemed to maintain their friendships. Most of their friendships were based around church or my dad's old car club. However, now I find that I'm in the same boat, even though my activities are different. The greatest joy of doing those community theatre productions was their church-like atmosphere, the way adults from different corners of the community came together to put on a project that mattered to them. My parents' friendships, which seemed oft-fleeting and organization-based, are now part of my normal everyday interactions.
I'd still love to meet a really good friend nearby, but I feel like at this point they might not be close to my age. They might be a decade older or younger than me, 'cuz adults don't need those delineations.
And it's crazy how work can get in the way. This term, all of my socializing centred on the play. Beyond that, I simply didn't have the time to do anything but try to rest and get things done at home. When the semester turns over in a couple weeks, I hope to feel like I can hang out with people in the evenings again.
Adult friendships are hard. But I'd like to think I'm getting used to it.
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