Tired. But I usually am. We’ve been sleeping at College Perk to give us easy access to Firedean practice. Tonight we have ilyAIMY practice. Someday soon we shall put all of this practice into action, and we shall be a danger to ourselves and others, but for the moment…
I haven’t really LISTENED to music since I was in high school, and had that hour school bus ride every morning and that hour and a half every night. I spent that time curled around my Walkman, listening intently, reading lyrics from cassette cases, chilling myself with the intentness of musicians that I had no comprehension of.
I don’t ride around listening to music anymore. I should. I sometimes listen to music when I’m driving, but if I don’t have the lyrics in front of me, I’ll listen to the bass part, or the guitar part, or the drums, or even the vocalist, but I won’t listen to the lyrics. I blot out the rest of the world while listening, and end up driving to places and not remembering how I got there. It’s a failing.
So – we’re getting in a last couple of practices with Firedean before we run off to New England (they abbreviate it as NE which is confusing to those of us who have actually toured through Nebraska) and it’s the first time I’ve really focused on some of the lyrics. I’ve always been amazed by his ability as a songwriter – but I’m really listening – and more than that, relating. “I’m trying to Live up to my stereotype – but I’ve already given all I can (?) – all I want to do is lead a double Life – and sleep better than I did last night…”
And I’m relating strongly.
It seems I never actually sleep well. You can’t ask me if I slept well last night, you only get to really ask “did you sleep at least average?” (like Brennan did this morning). This morning I was brought out of dreams by a whining smoke detector – just whining due to 9 volt battery starvation, not for anything more dire – (an important note as we’re down the street from two arsons this week) and my brain is still cobwebby with altered realities.
My dream started nicely enough – I was working in this joint sort of electronics work space. Big tables, nice lighting. I was in one room, and Brennan and some Faceless Lackey were working in the adjoining space. My new mixer (the one I ordered in the Real World) had just arrived, and I was excited to see that I’d been chosen for a free promotion which included receiving a free laptop with my purchase. I started working with that immediately, and then went to the next room to have Brennan help me set it up. It’s then that I noticed that a wall of THAT room opened out into a nice little… glade. Perhaps a glen?
A decent-sized clearing with a couple of trees, a creek running through it, lots and lots of seating in a semi-circular arc – and in the centre – a Zeiss projector. So, I wandered over there and joined Heather at the planetarium show. It seemed perfectly natural that the guy who started the presentation could project stuff on the sky, and start and stop video presentations apparently projected on the atmosphere, controlling the sunrise and the sunset. My brother was there, and I sat a couple of seats away from Heather so I could talk to him. He was explaining how he’d joined the army (he was in uniform) and I felt like a hypocrite explaining that I didn’t like the idea, since I was wearing my camoflauge pants.
My dream somehow incorporated some sort of newscast at that point. There had been a murder in the town where my brother had been Living, and the body had been found in a creek… somehow the creek in the glade was sort of being used as the little newscaster screen and I saw the body roll by in the water over and over again, marred by streaking of river rocks and curious fish. It was also noted by the news that my brother was a “person of interest” since he was joining the army and leaving town.
When I looked back from all of this, feeling kind of down, I saw that Heather had taken her chair and moved away to another presentation down the hill, watching stars and comets and generally being impressed with the sky.
So – one of the dangers of going back and moving the Journal is the finding of orphans – e.g. these are all photographs dated from December 5th, 2004 (probably not all taken on that day – at this point I’m organizing photos by date of offload to my computer, NOT the actual date they’re taken) but I know they were taken sometime betwixt the November 29th offload and the 5th. I recognize College Perk, with my Dad in the audience but I’m not sure who the woman is that’s playing with us (below)… and further in is a cool building that’s PROBABLY associated with the show that we played – but I have no specific memory. I think that could be Nikki Rouse and I know the last photo DEFINITELY includes Flo Anito – and I have a very vague memory of opening for Flo for a CD release or showcase or SOMETHING in DC – so maybe that’s what’s going on, but … in all honesty, I’m a little clueless! – rob 1/25/18 (fourteen years? I GUESS it’s excusable that I don’t remember these shows!)
“…you honestly brought tears to my eyes tonight listening to you play. You made me think about my life, and my choices, and my goals and aspirations (believe it or not)… Your bandmates are just amazing. You surround yourself with good people, talented people, and i admire that…”
I must admit, I haven’t really been in the mood to write in the Journal recently. Despite a truly spectacular show at College Perk (which resulted in the above flattering letter), I’m still feeling a bit burnt out. The “break” wasn’t very breakish.
But what to do about that? Well, we’re already back on the road again, and even though this last stint of “being home” was the longest since we left on September 2nd, 2003 – it still seemed all too short. Just long enough to get me used to the idea of not worrying about where whether or not I was eating that night, or whether or not I was going to see a familiar face any given evening.
I’m typing from a beautiful wood and brick and iron apartment from Providence, Rhode Island. I wish the whole day had been this nice. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a rough day and then just… relax on a couch with a glass of water… and for it to be silent. There is nowhere else as quiet as Providence at midnight.
It was a rough drive up.
Technically, we DO have a rule in place about not driving more than four hours at a time if we’re playing that night. That lets us have lots of leisure time that can be spent stopping for flowers and photographs and cider and exciting puppies.
From Baltimore to Providence… not four hours. Especially on a rainy, dreary Monday. Especially when you time it wrong and hit New York City at rush hourish hours, and then Stamford, CT at actual rush hour. It was a rough drive.
We left at 11.30am and finally arrived at our destination (the Custom House) at a little after 9pm. And the Custom House was closed. From there we meandered over to the Call, but much of our enthusiasm had been drained. It was a rough day.
Played, passed out post cards, all in all – not an auspicious beginning to this run.
And then we made our way home to Rob Spectre.
We met Rob on our last trip to Providence. An awesome percussionist, an awesome punk musician, a great lyricist hidden in a genre that generally doesn’t bother. I’ve been really eager to see him again, and it’s pained me that it’s taken over a YEAR to return here.
Rob met us tonight after getting back from a show of his own (with his band Artoro Got the Shaft – a joke for kids who took Spanish in school, apparently) and attacked us with fierce hugs and infectious good nature. He made me feel like we were kind of coming home.
A great end to a rough day.
Oh – random HUGE relief? SOMEONE else has bought this same model of Alienware laptop. Rob hasn’t had his for quite as long, nor has he used it nearly as hard – but we shall lament together on the pains of overheating and limited battery Life. Stupid Alienware.
Today is my mother’s birthday. It is also Pearl Harbor Day. My mother was not born on the actual Pearl Harbor Day. So there you go. Happy Birthday, Mom. – r
We are in Providence and are eating ramen after our second disappointing night of open micing (hee hee, now all I can think of is that we are cats, hunting the streets of the city for mice to eat instead of the soup). I decided that, in order to keep our expenditures down this trip, rob and I should make a pact that we have to sell 5 CDs the night before to eat out the next day. We have six cans or packages of soup with us that are the consolation prize if we do not. I wish we had thought to bring more different kinds of soup. Sigh.
Nights like this and last night can really throw me into a fabulous despair. When people walk up to us at the open mics and are psyched about the fact that we are touring, and maybe could we give them some advice, it makes me feel like we are all mystique and no meat. I know this is not the case, and we have good nights, and they are even more frequent than few and far between, but when you are getting almost nothing back from your audience, playing to empty rooms it’s like drawing more and more cash from an empty metaphysical ATM. I am in spiritual debt.
Adding to this is the absolutely disgusting weather – my least favorite of all kinds – cold, with a constant mist that leaves you damp all day and an overcast that keeps it the same color of gray over everything all day long. This is the kind of weather that makes me feel like I want to saw at my wrists with a dull plastic knife, as my friend Zeb used to say.
This also means the found object hunting (since the last time I was in Providence I had not started making the jewelry yet, getting stuff from here to add to the collection is a big deal) has been limited, and rob and I have not been able to really walk around the neighborhood and get a feel for what’s nearby (ie: goof off and look at the shops and all the things we can’t afford).
So today was mostly spent cooped up inside, practicing some things, responding to e-mails.
I am also one single line away from finishing the new song, titled “No Place is Home (The Horseman).” The single line is evading me. The single line is important and knows its importance and has learned from it’s brothers of the assembly persuasion and gone on strike just to screw with me because it knows I cannot hire replacements who will only be lesser.
I spent a good portion of my should-not-have-been-waking hours recently doing some research on the Headless Horseman – yielded a few interesting tidbits:
The symbolism of the Headless Horseman being a Hessian soldier: The Hessians were German mercenaries hired by the British to help put down the American Revolution. The German princes received all the real money for their services and they were bartered for like so much cattle. It makes a kind of sense that of all spirits to become the horseman, it would be a Hessian, someone with no head of its own, no personal reason and eyes to guide him, a sort of spiritual puppet akin to the function he served in life. Hessian, though originally meant to signify the place the soldiers had come from in Germany, became slang in American and inexorably linked to the idea of the mercenary.
It’s also interesting to read the lyrics to the Bing Crosby song that was part of the Disney animated version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. One of the lines says, “You can’t reason with a headless man.” I thought that was an interesting idea, too; Being without a brain, therefore without reason. There is only instinct, a driving, overriding purpose. It is a force against which no amount of logic and rhetoric can succeed, which fits very well with my chosen metaphor of the Horseman as Time.
And there are a couple headless horseman legends, one from Texas, even. A horse thief was caught and made an example of by being decapitated, tied upright to a charcoal-colored horse, and his head tied to dangle from the saddle. They then turned the horse loose and it wandered around for some time. People reported seeing the horseman, riding headless, which was of course true. Some time later, they found the horse at a watering hole, dried out husk of a burden still upon its back. They buried the man, but people still report seeing the horseman.
And Irving’s story of the horseman is based on real places in his hometown. The white church with the holy grounds the rider cannot enter, for example, is a real place.Sigh. But I’m not done, yet. And I’m going to have to detour from this to work on the “confined spaces” assignment that rob and I have to have ready for our songwriters in the round performance in Providence this Sunday.
Tonight we headed out to the Century Lounge – I’m tired of empty bars and smatterings of applause. Already I miss home. Maybe it’s just the weather, but there’s just no ENTHUSIASM here. Sigh. But Rob got up on stage with us and rocked out…. that at least was very nice.
I just wish the RAIN would STOP! Looking outside, it’s like London or something.
And my computer has melted my cookies. Damn the world.
Waking up this morning to a steamy apartment may well be a result/product/instigator for my dreams. Quite a dream. Wow… whattadream. I’m not ABOUT to recount it in my Journal.
The heat in Rob’s apartment here in Providence isn’t so much like heat – it’s more like summer in the Amazon while desperately calling the air conditioner repair guy. And then I took a shower. The shower head is a frightening beast, much like a water cobra rearing its head above the shower curtain… and the Amazon imagery is only increased.
Finally there’s sunshine outside – and Heather is unconscious on the floor. Not surprising, really. We were lulled into a false sense of security by Monday night’s dead silence… but apparently Tuesday night is when the wind picks up and all the windows rattle… and the trash pickup occurs at some unGodly hour (I thought they might be towing our car, but I was so tired I couldn’t bring myself to get up for THAT even) – and on top of everything else, the little daemons inside the radiators were doing crack and throwing soda cans at each other inside their steamy little habitats.
Gooood shower though. Cold one. In deference to the dream.
Yesterday everything turned around. After our morning bout of answering emails and website maintenance and scheduling and Life the Universe and Everything, Heather and I went a wanderin.
I’m not actually sure what the local area is called – if it’s got a specific name – But Wayland Avenue has a short run of cute little shops, mostly things that would be classed “boutiques”, and we window shopped for a while, before moving underground for some serious antiquing. Heather got a really good deal on about twenty keys for her jewlery in this incredibly packed, tiny little place called
Our adventures continued on Wickendon Street. I’m not quite sure how everything’s layed out in Providence – I don’t literally know where RISD is – I think we’re pretty close to Brown University where we are… but Wickendon seems to be a major arts district. If you’re too lazy to actually explore the street, there’s a painted bridge that has all the shops and little illustrations next to their addresses. Heather and I walked up and down Wickendon for a while, exploring music shops and art stores and the Noggin’s Nest (where Heather tried out on a towering white witch’s hat).
A good outing.
We got back to the apartment just in time to run some songs with Rob in preparation for the weekend, and then we ran off to the Custom House.
Our friend Kris Oleth, who runs the Jammin Java open mic, happened to be visiting Providence this week – and so I invited her along for the night. It was good to see another familiar face… but we’ve got this superstition: whenever someone comes along with us to an open mic, the open mic is invariably shit.
I think we should update the superstition: whenever someone comes along with us to an open mic and doesn’t sign-up for their own slot on the list, the night is invariably shit. Kris played a couple of country tunes (including Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash and a very “blue” song – in multiple ways – she asked if it was okay to curse in Providence – called “Straight White Republican Males”) before having to run back to where she was staying. Fortunately, she stuck around long enough to see Rob’s set – high energy punk. God, now HE’S a rock star.
Later on, we played with much the same response – high energy – enthralled crowd… we did really well. The Custom House – best open mic in Providence – no question about it.
Our patron for our stay in Providence, Rob Spectre – is a fascinating creature. I’m pretty intimidated by him, and he falls into that category of “cool people” in a way that I end up thinking “it’s so COOL that he LIKES me!” I’m a fanboy at heart, and it’s sad. Rob is this amazingly well-read, philosopher-reading-going-to punk musician, who creates high speed, hurtling tunes with awesome lyrics. He’s one of the most gregarious people I’ve ever met, and goes out of his way to make you feel welcome. I think it’s the Midwestern in him coming out in contrast to a New England town… I remember first meeting him back at the WestTown Arts Open Mic last year (it’s been over a YEAR since we’ve been here!) and being a little taken aback at just HOW friendly he was… it took me a little while before I was convinced that this wasn’t an act…
Rob really is just one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. He’s like a big happy well-read punk bear, and I Love our time with him. Unfortunately, he’s pretty busy – between his band, his work… we haven’t seen him nearly as much as I’d like while we’ve been here. I’m looking forward to this weekend.
Anywho, it’s kind of cool – the last time we encountered Rob, we felt kind of guilty – the whole time we were there, he’d been running around cleaning up his world in preparation for the arrival of the girl he was “sweet on” who was going to be visiting from Iowa. This resulted in the amazing Anti-Spider Pee Story which I shall not recount at this time.
Visiting him this time around finds him Living with Rochelle. Apparently, they’d only spent two days together during some poorly-defined previous encounter before she went home to Iowa. She came and visited him for a week the last time we were in Providence – and then went home, completed her degree, packed up her car and moved in with Rob.
We were really curious about what kind of woman could hold a guy like Rob in such thrall. Apparently our gig this weekend at Westside Arts will be surrounded by her artwork… maybe we’ll have greater insight then…
Hehe – random note – funny to see their separate takes on the universe. People we stay with often end up leaving us notes as we pass in the night… always they leave them wherever they’re SURE we’re bound to look, wherever we’re bound not to miss it… Rochelle leaves notes for us on the bathroom mirror. Rob leaves notes for us on my Alienware.
The moment we leave Providence, the clouds start breaking up. Here in Somerville (effectively part of Boston) – well, we’re visiting with my old, old friend, Whitney – and her apartment is beautiful, and vast, with lots of skylights… and it’s like trying to sleep inside Towson Town Centre… or some other vast, white, sparkly well-lit mall.
Minus the billion people, plus a really fuzzy cat who wanted to Love us ALL night… so much sun. So much Love.
Last night, at JJ Barons’ suggestion, we checked out the Cantab Lounge in Central Square. We happened upon a packed night – their thirteenth anniversary of the open mic’s inception. An open mic starting its fourteenth year is almost unimaginable to me! I mean, we’ve played about two hundred of these things by now, and the closest I can think of is perhaps Cafe Florian in Camp Springs… but it’s seasonal and has changed hosts a number of times… this has been every week for thirteen years – most don’t make it past two years.
So, in celebration of not only that, but also the host’s birthday and one of the owners (?) bartenders (?) birthdays, there was cake, and singing, and such a full list that the first 12 people were down to one song apiece, and the remaining pile of names were merely “possibles”. It was actually pretty nerve-wracking. We played ok, but – like I said, I was nervous – there was much danger of rubbing unintentional elbows with myriads of people, and the night was extremely folky. The exceptions were the feature artist (PJ Shapiro) who played some neat drop D melancholiness, and Jaime, the insane air guitarist. That, I’d never quite seen before.
I’ve been having an excruciatingly clumsy two days. During that time, I have:
Hit myself in the right knee with the drum.
Slipped and fell on a hardwood floor and landed on my left knee. Hit myself in the head with the car door (which has left a nice little sore bump right at the hairline).
I’m currently afraid to carry things up steps.
We are on the third floor of a building.
This trip has been very panic-stricken and depressing for me. The abysmal weather, the painful open mics, meager turnouts and CD sales, our lawyer’s news that the insurance company has put in a ridiculously low bid in another case that’s being worked out with the firm means our own case does not bode quick and easy for us, the tragedy in our Providence host’s life that prompted him to rush off to Kansas our last day in town … all of these have left me feeling afraid and uneasy. Even the surprise visit of Cat and Jason, perfectly (albeit traffic-induced) timed to coincide with the howling part in “Deep in the AM” that announced their arrival, was marred a bit by the fact that rob and I could not produce a decent-attendence show in the day and a half they were with us. I was so embarrassed. Because it’s not always like that, I swear. But when I’m already down about it, it’s even worse to know that other people – people you know and whose opinions you actually care about – are getting to see your failures first-hand.
And somehow rob and I missed the obvious potential problem of doing a New England stint during finals week at nearly all of the colleges. We might have very well shot ourselves in the feet this way. About the best thing right now is the couple good dinners I’ve managed to come by, and the cat that sat for thirty minutes bathing itself in my lap.
Living the dream. Everyone thinks you are doing better than you really are, and definitely better than they are. This is almost always inaccurate. Everyone thinks you understand something that they don’t. Have found the key to success that they don’t have. Well, let me tell you, this week and a half we don’t have any keys other than the ones I bought in a Providence antique store, and God only knows what they opened in their days.
Happy birthday, high school crush. Aleithea, if we ever cross paths again, your’s is the ONLY birthday that has ever stuck in my head.
Boston is full of the brightness. I envy Heather’s capacity for sleeping on her stomach despite the beauty of the sun-filled scene. Yesterday was a day of Scrabble and fish – late into the night Heather and I wrangled tiny letter tiles on to the board. It was a rough game, a veritable war, that nearly ended indecisively.
A couple of days ago, Heather beat me decisively, and yesterday, Whitney’s roommate Carl absolutely reamed me (he started the GAME – first turn – by using all his letters and spelling “spooled” – and then repeated himself shortly thereafter… aaand then with “square” on a triple word score with the “q” on a double letter score…). It’s been a rough couple of days for Scrabble. Last night, at around 3am, I regained my title by ONE POINT!
I’m sure that this is far more Scrabble than any of you could possibly be interested, but I thought you should know!
Anywho, yesterday was one of our coveted days “off”. We went to the New England Aquarium and wandered Boston. We had New England lobster bisque (“It’s like eating velvet” Heather said – and no, Deanne, not like THAT… though maybe…). All in all, minus the Scrabble, a very nice day.
I can’t get over how beautiful the sky is here. After the constant grizzling grey of Providence, the sun (perhaps knowing that we sleep late and that there are LOTS of skylights here) is pure and clean and coastal, illuminating us with 24 hour ferocity (minus that whole night thing, of course). It really is showing us how beautiful things are here – and we haven’t even got lost yet, other than our obligatory “You’ve entered Boston” wrong turn.
Anywho, Whitney’s work is able to get us discount tickets to a couple of different things, and so we went to the New England Aquarium… it turned out that Heather had been there about five years ago, and was able to sort of show me around. Fortunately, even her steel-trap memory isn’t infallible, and we BOTH spent the next several hours simply being awestruck by what we saw. The Jellies exhibit (presumably the same one that travelled through Baltimore – the one that I lamented so much about missing) was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Much, much too small though. More focused on global warming than on the jellyfish themselves, and you are left with perhaps the feeling that ecocide isn’t such a bad thing if you get more of these beautiful things around.
Luckily, an Incident involving my Parts and a Jellyfish when I was very, very young keeps that kind of thinking in perspective. Still, absolutely beautiful, and whoever lit it was a genius.
Hrm. That fierce light finds its way into the shower, as well. Fragmenting into hues through the rippling glass walls, forming multi-coloured shafts as it penetrates the warm, steaming haven of my cleansing… I looked down at one point and my heart just about stopped. I was VERY glad to find that my blue penis was merely a trick of the light.
In the shower, I was running numbers in my head. Revised figures for how much it takes to Live the way we do. They’re not low, let me assure you. Despite the elimination of rent and utilities, we still have health insurance and car insurance – and that’s the bulk of it. It’s sort of disturbing to mostly be making money to cover a…
Well, it’s almost a bet, isn’t it? Someone’s betting that we WILL get into an accident, and playing the numbers and making sure that we’re paid up if we do. I have no problem with that – it’s the proportion that I find disturbing. Our bottom line is based around that legal requirement of insurance (and the comfort requirement of having health insurance).
I doubt that “Living the dream” in most people’s minds include those two factors. Most other performers that we’ve encountered don’t bother with the health insurance, and some don’t even bother with car insurance… and beyond that I’d ideally take it one step further and insure our instruments and our computers and things as well. It would really be a lot more worry-free at that point.
But the estimates on that are just… painful.
So, we’re struggling to survive. The wonder of sunlight and aquariums and the beauty of travel are somewhat curtailed by the weight of survival. I’d certainly never dreamed it was going to be this hard. There aren’t really any unforeseen expenses, the numbers were all dead-on, but CD sales are slower than I’d hoped, and I’ve forgotten how to market myself as an artist. I worry, sometimes, that I’m too lazy for this job, and indeed – somedays I really, really wish that I could relax, collect a paycheck, and have someone, ANYONE just TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!! It’s the flailing around, unsure if anything will ever pay off that’s most exhausting.
And yet, I wouldn’t trade it. If someone stopped me and gave me the option – I wouldn’t want to go back. Not even to working my job at the Science Centre for twice the pay of my work at Glovia. (well, unless it was part-time). I really am in Love with the travel… it would be soo easy to just relax out of this. Slouch back home and rejoin friends and family. But – I don’t know – in this short year + time scale we’ve seen so many fantastic things, and met so many wonderful humans.
One of my principle laments back home was that, once I was out of school, I didn’t know how to go out and just MEET people. There are the same opportunities back home to do so, but out on the road, we’ve got the ideal ice-breaker, and we’re really forcing ourselves to meet other people.
I have a couple of personal goals – goals about production as an artist, goals about writing and practicing as a musician, goals about self-image changes and goals about personal interactions. None of them are close to being realized, but I think I would not even be making headway if I wasn’t doing THIS right now.
I’m already contemplating my New Year’s Resolutions. They will be Journal entry. I think that people may even be issued Official ilyAIMY Pain Sticks to help me Live up to them.