The Trouble With Boxes

I haven’t been as consistent about posting as I promised myself I would be when I wrote last.  I have worked on stuff, I just can’t bring myself to finish it.  It’s not funny enough, it’s too serious, it’s too goofy, it’s shoddily constructed.  I think the issue with it all is that it’s not just train-of-thought.  Everything I’d written up-to-and-including my little “I’m sick and it makes me sad” meltdown was stream of consciousness.  Nothing I’ve been working on since is.

I want to be interesting.  I want to say something fascinating and provocative that will capture a reader and make you think and pass it along.  Nothing that I have been trying to write has accomplished that because I don’t think I can just make that happen.

I’m a stream-of-consciousness kind of person, in everything I do.  Maybe it’s part of being creative.  I finish tasks in my own way and my own time.  For most things, I can’t perform perfectly on command (much to both my chagrin and that of employers – although I never do a shoddy job).  It’s tough to explain to people – that I have whole days where I’m just not on.  I mean, everyone does, but I think I’m a little more inconsistent that your average bear.

And that’s alright with me.  I’ll probably grow into it more – I already have.  It’s part of what makes me who I am and part of my creative process.  Often when I’m about to write a song or come up with a new concept for a piece of knitting (yup, I knit – both yarn and less conventional materials) or write something more prolific than my usual blog post, I am a broody dysfunctional mess until I get it out the way it needs to be out.  I can’t get sentences to come in order, I can’t carry a conversation, I can barely drive my car.

I always thought I would come to understand myself and know which box I fit in: an office, a recording artist, a manager, a player, a teacher, a writer.  I would figure out which shoebox fit me the best and settle myself into it and my broodiness would disappear or at least be compatible with my new niche.  If something didn’t fit me well it was because I just hadn’t tracked down my box yet.  I was trying to force a square peg through a round hole; I just had to keep trying shapes until one fit.

But I’ve been realizing lately that this is a lie I’ve grown up telling myself, and likely being told.  It’s not that I haven’t found the right box; I just don’t do boxes very well.  I can flit in and out of them and tolerate their rigid, rectangular walls for short bursts, but I can’t survive in one.

When I was a kid, I caught a peeper toad and tried to keep it in a Tupperware with holes in the lid.  I gave it water and leaves and sticks and terraformed the makeshift tank with everything I had seen in it’s natural environment [sic: my front yard].  But in an hour the peeper had blanched white and my mother insisted I release it back to the wild.  It hopped away; relieved, happier, and the proper color.  It hadn’t mattered that I had recreated it’s habitat in my box – it was the box itself that was sickening it.

I am a peeper.  (Is that a weird statement?  I don’t care!  Your social boxes are nothing to me.)  I can’t live in a tupperware.  I need the wild, untamed openness around me, even if that wilderness is really just someone’s front yard.  I need to create my own structure, my own way of making things work, just like the peeper makes it’s own very un-box-like burrow (I think, I don’t know what they do with their free time).

I’m not happy with the box.  It doesn’t work for me and, frankly, I don’t think it works for a lot of people.  But it’s very hard to refuse it altogether, to say no to rectangles and walls.  And maybe we shouldn’t.  Maybe we just need to make a round box for ourselves.  I don’t know.  I’m figuring it out as I go.  But at least I understand that I need something other than your standard shoebox.

At the heart of me, I’m an artist.  Not in the sense that I make especially beautiful or insightful things – I’m still in the childhood of my creativity.  I am an artist in the sense that I am driven to create.  I am pulled to absorb the world, much slower and more deeply than some, and reflect it back – in music, in word, in art, in fiber.  If I have to build a box, I will build it around that.  It will be strange colors and asymmetrical and rambling and constantly changing.  It will be startling and uncomfortable to look at and fascinating all at once.  It will be a suit of armor tailored to my form.  It will have space for all the pieces of me.

I am struggling to release myself into the wild of my front yard.  I’m clinging to the walls of my tupperware in confusion as I try to shake myself out.  But, slowly and surely, I’m accepting the unbounded and uncertain tracts of grass are wonderful.  Are right.

Off to build my burrow (probably).


The State of the Union: I’m On A Plane and Other Tales

Hey, World!  It has been a long while since I’ve posted anything at all.  Today I want to give you a rundown of what has happened and what will be happening.  I’ve started a couple posts and not managed to finish them – sometimes because the spark wasn’t there, sometimes because my computer died.

I didn't know this screen was even an option.

I didn’t know this screen was even an option.

That’s right, my laptop died a slow and agonizing death.  Luckily the violent convulsions gave me plenty of heads up that all was not well and I backed up my computer.  Unluckily, my new computer has some fancy FireWire Thunderbolt ports that aren’t compatible with the hard drive all of my data is stored on.  So half my life is still locked in a hard drive until I purchase an adapter, but at least I have a functioning laptop again.

Things have improved greatly since my last incredibly dramatic soliloquy.  I am 100% healthy again – liver and all.  I’m still not sure what was wrong with me, but we pretty much threw antibiotics and steroids at it until it went away.  Three rounds of drugs and a month-and-a-half after the whole ordeal began I finally got the OK from my doctor to go have a beer.

As when I started the blog, I am still unemployed – except now I intern 45 hours a week.  Which is awesome because the companies I’m with are truly incredible, but it’s also exhausting and a little demoralizing.  It’s startling the judgement/pity/disapproval you get when people find out you’re working unpaid – and not an undergrad anymore.  Look, I’m frustrated enough with the situation myself; there’s enough regret, embarrassment, and cheap tequila floating around without someone else joining in on the pity party.  We won’t go into my feelings on unpaid internships, because at the end of the day I signed up for this craziness, but I’ve been completely pooped every evening and completing a post has seemed out of the question.

I’ve also been terribly distracted by the boon of attractive young men here in Nashville.

Attractive young man.

Attractive young man.

After a long day at work, when I should probably be writing a blog post or being a fun exciting 20-something and going out to drink money I don’t have or playing music with the energy I didn’t just spend during my 10 hour work day, I’d rather spend time with the above featured attractive young man.  We have had some awesome adventures – Attractive Young Man took me up in a very tiny plane which resulted in this selfie and much distress from the parentals:

I'm On A Plane

I’m On A Plane

The tiny plane was slightly smaller than my car, but very awesome none-the-less.  And for some reason, I find technical sounding jargon being spoken into a bad-A headset very attractive (though not as attractive as the guitar playing or the explanation of the altitude dependent efficiency of jet versus internal combustion engines based on the oxygen content of the air  – I’m starting to think maybe I just find him attractive).

But despite the distraction of being wooed by Attractive Young Man, I have gotten a bunch of songwriting done and I want to share it with everyone SO BADLY.  I no longer have ProTools on my computer and I live right next to a train track so recording at home is out of the question anyway, but I am starting to work on a little series I want to call “Bare Bones.”  Expect some awesome, simple guitar/vocal(/bodhran?) recordings and videos coming up, each accompanied by a blog about the writing and recording process.

Working 45 hours a week in various offices has made me realize that, although I have a mind for business, what I’m really passionate about (aside from attractive young men) is making music.  I need to write.  I need to play.  It has to happen.  A very, very wise teacher once asked me if music was a hobby when I was debating what to pursue in college.  It’s not, and never has been.  It’s not even something I do for fun – it’s a bodily function, like breathing.  It is so much a part of who I am – as powerful an identifier as gender or handedness – that I cannot imagine not doing it, and not having the time or energy to do it has left me moody and irritable.

I thought, up until a few weeks ago, that I had to choose to make music as a career.  I’m realizing now that it’s not an option or a choice.  I am compelled to make music.  I am driven to make sound the way a bird is driven to take wing.  I itch without it.  There have been tears shed over the thought that I am 1,200 miles away from the part of the country where my heart lives and I’m not following my passion.  I’m channeling this angst into a renewed drive to really, truly pursue a career in music.  No more halfway, no more excuses, no more self-defeating.

For you all, it means a lot of new, exciting music coming your way, some fresh blog posts, and hopefully some more exciting adventures.

Look forward to more in the future.