I turned 38 a few days ago. For the first time in over 25 years, I willingly tried to celebrate my birthday. I hung out with a friend and attended a concert. It was by far the most immersive birthday I've had since... maybe Grade 6.
Oftentimes in the past, when my birthday would approach, my parents, friends, or spouse would ask me, "What do you want to do for your birthday?" And I would say, "Nothing." And if they proposed something, I would fight it. "I don't want a birthday party," I'd say. Once, perhaps 10 years ago when we lived in Hope, I tried to get over myself and let my wife arrange a birthday for me, but I myself didn't really market it seriously. It was a long time ago, so the memory is faint, but I don't think anybody came. And that was ok with me, but not quite with my wife, who had put real energy into it. I haven't even imagined even trying to celebrate a birthday since then.
And I don't know if I'll bother again for any time soon. This year, that was enough. It was astoundingly difficult, even in such a low-key setting, to handle the attention, the self-maintaining goal to "take care of myself" by celebrating my existence for once. I had a good time, but it drained me, and when it was over I crashed into a rather embarrassing sadness-spiral that could only be slightly endured after a counselling call. I'm glad I did it, but I don't think I'll try it again next year. (Although my birthday does take place on a Saturday next year, so I could very easily go back on my current sentiments.)
Shutterfly sends me occasional updates about photos, saying "Do you remember __ years ago?" usually showing family photos from a given week. Today, Shutterfly sent me some photos, saying "Remember four years ago?" They were photos of my kids when we still lived in Harrison Hot Springs, in our last month living there before we moved to Chilliwack. And I looked and I thought four years? It's only been four years? Because that feels like forever ago. So much has happened: my family fell apart, my kids moved away, I've been working through the usual rigmarole of divorce.
And I've barely written a song. The songs I have written seem hackneyed and trite, nothing like the quality that I maintained 13 years ago. My emotions are caught-up in adultish issues: budgets, debt, paperwork, appointments, parenting, phone calls, workplace balance, driving, car maintenance, etc.. There are people who can write emotionally despite these life-themes, but I haven't been able to do it. As much as I want to find the poetry in these sorts of common events, the words, the melodies, have eluded me, or I haven't been able to muster the energy to approach them.
Until this weekend, when I think I assembled a few words that reflected an actual feeling. Although I've written emotional songs in the last decade, very few of them discussed feelings that were close to my heart at a given moment. They're the sorts of emotions that might be considered "youthful," insofar as they deal with some intense feelings that one feels deep to their core. I'm not going to write the words here because I'm still working on them, but I'm kinda' excited, hoping that I can get a ball rolling in a manner that's creatively viable.
In other news: I've accepted a part in a play, my first play since I acted in A Flea In Her Ear with the Chilliwack Players' Guild. I'm excited about it. I've worked with most of these cast members before, either in Jitters or A Flean in her Ear. It's a musical comedy and I have to sing a song. Costumes should be ridiculous. More info forthcoming.
Also, I might start working a bit with a small company that's hoping to make videos and music in-house in Chilliwack. This is good because it will give me a chance to practice and perfect things I've never really worked with before. And finally, for the first time since I lived in Victoria, I might be able to work with people to create music and art again. Most of my attempted musical collaborations have fallen apart over the last bunch of years, but this one's got some potential because people want to be professionals in a low-key enough way that I might be able to make my life work with it. Woo hoo!
My daughter accompanied me to the Party in the Park in Chilliwack on Friday night. She made some fan art for my busking set at the Triple Play.
Last night, Saturday July 13, I played again at the Hot Spring Villa in Harrison Hot Springs, 6-9pm. Come on out to any of the other nights I'll do for the rest of the summer there!
Summer's here, thank goodness.
This school year has been tough. Workwise, I don't think I was an effective teacher. I was playing catch-up from the very first day; at the end of each day, I procrastinated, and then I didn't give myself the time to catch up the next morning. I couldn't seem to think creatively and struggled to keep up with most of the bureaucratic tasks that make teaching work. I hope I learned some of my lessons. Needless to say, the antidepressants, over the last month, have helped.
I've been running and working out. I live above a gym and I've started with a bit of a weight routine. I've also been running intermittently, and I hope to make that more consistent soon. I've been injuring myself more frequently though, so I've had to admit that I'm getting older.
I acted in a play in the Fall. Although I was overbusy during that period, I'm glad I did it. I met quite a few good people and felt successful in it overall. It exhausted me enough that I didn't audition for a play in the Spring. I'm extremely glad that I got to have this experience and that I got to meet so many good people through it.
And I've been getting back into my music again. Almost every Saturday evening, I've played covers at the Hot Spring Villa Restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs. This has helped to rebuild my musical confidence that had truly waned over the last five years or so. I've even recently started willingly going to open mics and jams, even when I feel out of my element. This is good.
So summer's begun and I have my kids with me for a few weeks. I hope to get some more musical connections around Chilliwack and around the Lower Mainland. I hope that I can get a bit more music happening in the Fall. I've already made a few connections and hope to expand my gigging beyond the restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs. And maybe I can put a band together and get a couple of the songs finished that I started so many years ago.
And lordy, I'm looking forward to waking up without an alarm.
Two months ago, I resolved to write a song a week and write a blog post a week. I guess I need to admit that I've failed at those resolutions. Nonetheless, just because I haven't made my resolutions doesn't mean I've been unproductive: I've written six or seven songs so far and I've had about five blog posts since then. So although I haven't met my resolutions, I've made a couple steps forward.
Motivation is still pretty tough. I'm supposed to do the Hope 10k run on March 18th, but my running habits haven't really kicked in; I'm struggling to keep up at work even though I have dramatically more time to get work done this semester; I'm reluctant to call people up or do anything social if I have a night off. I don't feel depressed but I'm likely showing a bunch of the symptoms of depression.
I'm been enjoying film photography more regularly. I have too many cameras on the go right now; some of them still have photos from my visit to Smithers in December on them. But even that's been a tough hobby to maintain when I'm barely getting out of the house or leaving Agassiz. But here are some highlights from a roll of Ilford HP5 with photos that I took between December and February:
Now back to work.
I've never taken New Year's resolutions very seriously. So I haven't really made any over the years.
This year might be a little different though.
For the drive to Smithers, I listened to most of Gary Taubes' The Case Against Sugar, which basically posits that sugar leads to most of the "Western diseases" that plague our society. In the end, Taubes does not offer much of a solution: he claims that there's no way to scientifically prove his point about sugar's toxicity, but that his correlation-causation conclusions should nonetheless be heeded, that there would be no way to narrow down the culprit to sugar for type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, specifically. I listened to another podcast on the way back from Smithers that featured The Science Moms who essentially debunked most of Taubes' points,
But perhaps this year I will aim to minimize sugar in my diet, if only to learn how to cook properly for myself. I'm a sucker for processed foods—in particular, cookies—and perhaps minimizing sugar would help me rely a little less on processed foods. I don't expect to go full sugar-free, but I'd like to get it back to the point where sugar is a bona fide treat.
Beyond that, though, I think it's time to focus on music again. I've written about this before, but it's been tough over the last few years to play music. My musical ego was slowly worn away over the decade since I made my first super-independent CD, and it even got to the point where I didn't want to play music barely at all anymore.
But over the last while, I've been able to get a bit of that mojo back. Regularly playing at that restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs has really helped me regain some of my footing as a performing musician, and those two community theatre performances helped me regain some of the pleasure of being on stage.
What I haven't been able to do, however, is sit down and write. I have a couple dozen extracts of songs sitting on paper, on the computer, on my phone, but I don't think I've completed a song for the last few years. There are numerous reasons for this lack of production, but if I write them down I'm sure they'll come off as excuses. So I won't write them down.
Instead, perhaps I can base a New Year's Resolution on this idea: Quantity over Quality.
Perhaps, if I commit to a certain number of blog posts or completed songs on a weekly basis or something, I'll get some good stuff out of it. Amongst all the quantity, some good quality, or quality practices at least, might emerge.
So here goes:
What I need to figure out is a system for keeping up with them. Perhaps a filing system? Perhaps a calendar?
And how will I keep myself accountable? Especially as separation stuff gets overwhelming?
I don't know yet, but I'll start by trying to post my status updates here.
So here goes?
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