While my guitar gently weeps

3 08 2014

I need to play my guitar every day.

I do not play my guitar every day.

To be clear: “need” is not about need or desire in an of itself, but in terms of getting better; if I want to get better, I need to play every day.

Which I don’t. Play, I mean. The desire is there; the follow-thru, not so much.

I do play every other day, and if I miss my every or other day, I do get a bit anxious and feel that I’m missing something (i.e., experience a “need” more akin to the first definition); it would help if that anxiety kicked in a bit earlier.

Anyway, if I want to get better, why don’t I play more?

For starters, I suck. I don’t hold down the strings hard enough, my chords fuzz out, and too damn often I nick the A or G string when I’m aiming for D. And because I don’t look at either my right or left hand while playing—that discipline at least has held from those yay-old lessons—I too often reach for the wrong fret.

It’s a mess.

Now, when I do practice, and especially when I practice every day, all of those problems are lessened (tho’, alas, not eliminated)—which brings me back to the question: why don’t I play more?

And here’s the thing: I think too much when I play.

I hate HATE when anyone tells me I think too much: NO SUCH THING! But there is something about letting one’s mind drift which may work better than focusing. When I read, I focus, and when I learn something new, I focus, but I don’t focus when I write, my best runs happen when my mind wanders, and I only got over the hump in pot-throwing when I stopped trying so hard.

I think I have to stop trying so hard with the guitar.

The pot-throwing is instructive: I took a class at Minnesota, and went in periodically during the course to work on my pots (small, uneven, terrible), and I can’t say I enjoyed it all that much. I was continually frustrated—the more I wedged the clay the more air bubbles appeared, the more careful I was in centering the chunk on the wheel the more off-center it became, and raising the sides? Pfft, forget it. I don’t think I’m misremembering when I state that one lesson-night resulted in tears.

And then I got it. I was never great or even truly good, but I got enough that I thought, Hey, I can do this, and so I was more willing to put more time in at the studio. I was also, crucially, more willing to roll with the vagaries of clay and pot-throwing: some days every pot I threw turned out, some days none did, and I was okay with that.

I’m not zen, but I got pretty zen about throwing pots.

I can’t figure out what exactly led to that switch. Something allowed me to hang back from my own throwing, and thus to go more deeply into it; detachment allowed for enjoyment, which led me back into the studio.

I’m not sufficiently detached from the guitar-playing, it seems. I have noticed that when I’m thinking of something other than the notes, I tend to play them much better, that when I bore into the bars I clench up trying to avoid mistakes with these notes and worrying about the notes to come. And I don’t enjoy that.

So: I need to find some reliable way to zone out and let my fingers do their walking. Were that to happen, I might find myself wanting more to hear what they play.





Though the dawn may be coming soon

29 09 2013

Second-sleep dreams are nightmares.

It is entirely possible, of course, that my main sleep dreams are nightmares as well, but when I’ve been woken from an unbroken sleep, it’s usually out of dreams or nothing at all.

Sometimes there are nightmares, but these are “classic” nightmares, vivid and sharp-edges and with a storyline all their own. They can be terrifying, so much so the nightmares themselves wake me up, but they are clearly of the sleep-world, not that of the world awake.

Second-sleep dreams, though, they’re something else. Fuzzy and shot through with bits from real life, they are all anxiety, shifting and off-kilter. I don’t know if it’s because, in that second sleep, I don’t go fully under, such that the gears of the REM sleep slip and freeze up and tear, pinning me into a narrative which is neither fully here nor there.

These dreams tend to be of two types: One, I’m moving, and haven’t packed or haven’t ordered the truck, and possibly in the midst of this I think, Why am I moving? I don’t want to leave. The plot of the second type varies considerably (yesterday morning, I was in a high school classroom, and then at a party in the home of a bad ex-boss, and then it was as if I lived there and needed to pack to leave and, oh, yes, at some point I was naked, although a kind man—rabbi? priest?—tactfully turned away as I slid on a shirt), but at some point in the dream I am unable to see clearly and/or to walk without falling over. I keep rubbing my eyes, but everything is blurry or sliced into mis-aligned ribbons, a discombobulation magnified by a dizziness which sends me sideways. (Other, less-common recurring types: at the airport without a ticket/passport/luggage/time; having to take an exam after not attending class the entire semester; om stage and not knowing how to play my instrument/my lines/what play I’m in.)

Unpleasant, all around.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I tend to see dreams as a kind of venting off of whatever is going on in my life, perhaps mingled with bits from movies or t.v. (e.g., zombie nightmares); these second-sleep dreams, coming after a near-complete night’s sleep, seem to pull even more from immediate events. I had had a conversation about that bad boss, for example, on Friday, so her commandeering a portion of that dread-narrative is unsurprising.

Still, there are certain, ah, recurring themes in these second-sleep dreams. One concerns how well I fit into my life: Am I settled here? Can I make my life here, or will at some point will I have to go? Is there anyplace for me? The second is a kind of panic of loss of sight, of sense: I know I can see; why can’t I see? If I could just. . . get clear. And of the minor type dreams: timing and forgetting and performance. Anxieties, all.

I doubt I am unique in either the peculiarity of second-sleep dreams  or these anxieties, though I’d guess that the moving and blurred eyes bits are culled from my life: I have moved a lot, and I have problems with my eyes. A pianist or surgeon’s hands may go numb, a mechanic might forget how this moves with that, a father’s son might disappear, the ad exec’s computer crashes before the presentation—all what we rely upon and worry over refracted through a broken unconsciousness.





Snap that thin thread

29 03 2013

I used to be so good.

Not my character or morals, no: I used to be so good about staying on top of things.

“Things”, y’know, basic life-things. Bills, paperwork, returning calls—all of those miscellaneous and mostly mindless tasks which are a price of living in society.

Then, at some point, I wasn’t.

Don’t know exactly when it happened—I recall even well into my depressive cups I managed to deal with insurance and student loans and whatnot—but at some point I just gave up. It’s not that I suddenly stopped taking care of these tasks, but that I lost the sense that it made sense to stay ahead of them.

No, wait, that’s not right: I never lost the sense that it made sense. No, what I lost was. . . the will? the habit? of proper task management. It’s as if once that rubber band snapped, I no longer knew how to keep my shit together, and was reduced to denial, dread, and oh-shit last-minute scatter-shot toss-offs.

I get it done, but in the worst way possible.

This is no way to be an adult human being. It’d be one thing if the whirlwind approach didn’t bother me, but those small to-dos just grow and grow and grow in the middle of my chest* until they crack my ribs and leave me panting for air. I am so anxious about dealing with the things when they’re small that I can’t deal with them until they’re big, at which point my sleep is punctured and concentration swiss-cheesed.

You’d think that knowing how badly I react to stretching a task out I’d hop to it immediately, but it’s almost as if the anticipation of the late-anxiety rebounds backwards into a show-stopping early anxiety—which, because it’s early, I’m able to suppress, albeit with ever-decreasing success. By the end, the stress of the task is magnified by the looming deadline, and I’m left, well, sleep-deprived and wild-eyed.

No, it’s not everything: the more routine the task, the more habitual my response, but even there, I’m not as automatic as I used to be. I know what I have to do, but that knowledge is only sketchily linked to the doing.

And that, frankly, sucks. I know that there are things from the past which are gone, gone, gone daddy gone, but it would nice if I could get this particular mojo back.

~~~

*Yes, I finally did that thing. Not at the actual last-minute, but damned close.





You’re going to carry that weight

15 03 2013

I dunnae understannit.

A month or so ago I was feeling fine—no anxiety, no dread—even though I knew I needed to pick up more work.

And then I picked up more work, so: mo’ better good!

But in the last coupla’ weeks, I’ve had this tight weight pressing down upon and squeezing my sternum.

That’s not what I don’t get: I know exactly why my torso is collapsing, as well as how to heave that ho offa me.

No, what I don’t get is why I don’t do what I need to do. It ain’t much—a bit of paperwork, an e-mail, maybe a phone call—but I don’t do it. Fifteen, thirty minutes, and I’m done. But I don’t do it.

I don’t do it.

Criminy.





And I’ve fucked up so many times in my life

28 05 2012

Is May over yet?

I know: May only leads to June, which leads to July, a month during which I gradually lose my mind until I end up in August hating everything.

Still: May has been a month of half-thought unwritten blog posts, grading, problems with grading, problems with my printer, problems with my computer, and, most importantly, the last month of a job which had me skittering around trying to find my balance.

I never did find it, which is why it was my last month.

C. asked if I still felt bad about quitting, and, yeah, I do. I wonder if I tried hard enough to make it work, if I wasn’t looking to get out long before I actually got out. Did I fuck up—that is the question.

Alas, it’s not a question to which there is any ready answer; more to the point, I don’t know that I could answer the question.

This is how I am able to get off the Neuroses Tilt-A-Whirl: If you can’t know it, let it go. Let it go.

You may have noticed that I repeatedly have to remind myself to Let It Go—which repetition means that I am not so good at Letting It Go—but such reminders do actually work to [warning! metaphor switch ahead!] loosen my fingers from their death-grip on What If? I may manually have to pry each digit from the What If? using various devices (including, most usefully, the This-Is-Out-Of-Your-Hands multi-tool, with, among others, its You-Can’t-Know-It lever), but I am able, finally, to pull my hand away.

Sure, my fingers may wander back over the What If? or Why Did I [Not] Do That?, but a deep breath and a reminder is usually enough for me to set the regret back down and sigh, Let It Go.

Anyway, this was not a big regret, just the most current one. It might stick around for awhile, might recur at odd points far into the future (I still occasionally think about the fan I couldn’t fit into my car when I left Minneapolis and had to leave behind), but it will shrink, and will lose its stickiness.

In the meantime, I’ll remember how much better I feel now that I quit, and remember that fuck-up or not, I’m glad to be done.





Don’t know why I said goodbye, I say hello

7 05 2012

So it’s been awhile.

There was grading and headaches and a cold and the second job and a shitty mood and oh oh oh so much anxiety about. . . grading and headaches and a cold and the second job and a shitty mood. . . and you can see where this goes.

I was twisting the screw of the vice grips.

C. helped me untwist it and, without a recap of that conversation in which I went over and over what was wrong I can tell you that she said, patiently and firmly and repeatedly: You have to quit that job.

And so I quit that job—well, put in my notice; I’m done at the end of May.

It took almost two days after for me to unwind, for my chest to stopped feeling squeezed and for me to take a breath without having to remind myself to breathe.

It was the right decision, although I feel badly about it; I feel badly about it, although it was the right decision.

It just wasn’t the right job.





Gotta have money

17 04 2012

I lied. I’m sorry.

I said I was going to put up a new post soon, and while I did compose any number of posts in my head, the words never made the trip from me noggin to the page.

It’s money’s fault.

Last year, as I mentioned once or twenty times, was a rough one for me, financially. I don’t particularly want to get into the details, but things got. . . bad.

Things are better now, which is why I’m able to write this (I find it much easier to write about bad things when using the past tense). Still, there are certain hangovers and shit left to deal with.

(Said shit won’t be discussed until after it’s been dealt with: past tense, remember.)

Anyway, one non-tangential thing to deal with was taxes. Given how low my income was last year, and thus how high the chances were that I would get back rather than pay, it shouldn’t have been a big deal to have taken care of them earlier.

I did not. I finished my taxes two and a-half hours ago. I’m getting money back.

So what does all of this have to do with me being a liar? (Oh, stop with the obvious joke about filing taxes.)Because while my brain and chest were filled with all of this built-up stress about money, I couldn’t quite find the levers with which to release the words from me noggin.

Given the hangover and shit (which I have been evading, ignoring, and otherwise repressing) and the attendant anxiety, it might still be a bit before I can free my mind.

One dread down, two to go.








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