December 9th, 2005.

I think I learned my Love-hate relationship with the mechanical world from Han Solo. His fierce pride and constant disappointment in the Millenium Falcon is pretty similar to how I’ve stood by and maltreated almost everything I own. Pretty similar to how I treat myself, expecting me and everything around me to just take whatever’s thrown at it and keep on ticking. There’s probably something really deep in my psychology to be realized in that behaviour, but it’s pretty much beyond me.

For those of you who think of me as this tough-guy manly gruff-type rob of a Han Solo-ish archetype, I’m sorry that the following paragraphs will probably disillusion you. For the rest of you, I’ll give you a moment to stop sniggering.

I curl tightly with a pillow when I wish I had company. Tightly wrapped in quilts and blankets and watching the snow come down and wishing things didn’t break.

It’s stupid to get sentimental over devices and objects, but two things have come down sick in the past two days and it just makes me want to be held tight and whispered gently to.

My Saturn didn’t start. It’s been having trouble with that since the cold struck. Nothing major, a dead battery probably… but I’ve known I need to get rid of it for a while now. When my father died, he left me the OTHER Saturn (not my mom’s Saturn, and no, my Saturn is not Heather’s Saturn which is also not Heather’s mom’s Saturn – there are a LOT of Saturns in our world…). Knowing that I had a spare car around, I’ve known that I need to sell the one that I’ve got and take the spare off my mom’s hands (she’s been learning to drive stick on it, which has me rather concerned) but it’s been one thing or another and something gets in the way and when it comes right down to it, I’m so damned sentimental that it’s going to be sad to let it go.

We’ll come back to the car – item number two is my camera! It went into my pocket just fine after capturing Uncle John (host of the Cup open mic in Bel Air, MD) climbing up the side of said open mic, and then when it came out again to shoot the swiftly mounting snows in the front yard, the LCD was ruptured. Obviously I hit up against a table, or maybe squashed it while carrying the drum somehow, or maybe buckled my seatbelt the wrong way – but it has the random malicious feeling of cancer – like I rolled the dice the wrong way.

My camera is my memory, and I Love to keep the images and the beautiful things caught in time with it. I hate the fact that the price of film had been an issue in college and in high school. My memory is frankly crap and without my Little Black Books faces and people would’ve faded long ago. Having that little camera to whip out and freeze the spinning world has become exceptionally important. Just a couple of days ago someone mentioned how they’d never known me NOT to have a camera on me, and this recent Sony has been my favourite – even including my old 1970 Nikon F Titanium.

And just as that identifying characteristic is pointed out, it’s taken away.

It makes me sad. I’m sure there will be some sort of recourse. I think I just got some salespitch about purchasing an extended service plan or something a couple of days ago – I’ll have to dig that up. It’ll cost me money, but it’ll probably get fixed, but I Love it and it’s sick.

My car’s an even simpler matter – go buy a new battery and stick it in! But I’ve got the other car, and it needs to be taken off my mom’s hands, and the Saturn’s in such shape that the Blue Book value of it RUNNING is equivelant to what it looks like I can get for it for parts… but selling it for parts wouldn’t require me to shell out $70 for a new battery and looks to be considerably more sensible and less hassle… but there’s this sense of betrayal – that feeling of betrayal that I got from my Volkswagon bus every time she let me down in some way led me to purchasing that reliable and ever trust-worthy Saturn, and it seems like this horrible thing for me to turn my back on it. Stupid sentimentality over a car. I’d had plans to get it to 200,000 miles before getting rid of it, but now it seems to be too much trouble to make it go the distance.

A last ditch "make the car go with minimal effort" effort. A goodbye kiss from Heather's Saturn, perhaps.
A last ditch “make the car go with minimal effort” effort. A goodbye kiss from Heather’s Saturn, perhaps.

This is something where I wish my Dad was here to talk to about it. He’d give me advice and I probably wouldn’t listen, but he’s the person I’m instinctively wanting to talk to about it.

And in the end, with snow muffling the world outside and lights slowly coming on at 6.10am, I really just wish I had someone to brush my hair out and say “yeah, don’t think about that right now – it’ll all be okay and we can worry about it in the morning” “it is morning” “hush, just come to bed”.

I helped my friend Amanda move a couple of days ago - unfortunately, this doesn't do her freak cat justice, but I figured he should be displayed here in all his freak cat glory.
I helped my friend Amanda move a couple of days ago – unfortunately, this doesn’t do her freak cat justice, but I figured he should be displayed here in all his freak cat glory.
Last Saturday, before Heather's solo show, we played at the Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair. The act before us were the incredibly talented (and beautiful) Greta Ehrig and ______________ who I'll remember the name of any second now. He was in Firedean's video! You know... right on the tip of my tongue... DAMN! Mark Sylvestor! Man, at least I got it before Heather called me out on it, and NO I didn't use the internest or my computer. I used my SKULL MEATS!
Last Saturday, before Heather’s solo show, we played at the Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair. The act before us were the incredibly talented (and beautiful) Greta Ehrig and ______________ who I’ll remember the name of any second now. He was in Firedean’s video! You know… right on the tip of my tongue… DAMN! Mark Sylvestor! Man, at least I got it before Heather called me out on it, and NO I didn’t use the internest or my computer. I used my SKULL MEATS!

December 10th, 2005.

Last night we played at Huckleberry’s in Abingdon, MD. Fine and good, not quite as Christmassy as Victoria Station in Putnam, CT, but it’s what it made me think of. Gas fire in the not-quite-wood stove, Christmas tree and lights behind us. I liked it there, and we even drew a pretty decent little crowd for the night after the first real snow of the season.

My energy was really weird, partially, I think because I’m going through another “let’s not sleep at ALL!!!” phase. I had trouble keeping our “family environment” in mind – which was probably just fine as our audience consisted of a lot of kids who were probably old enough to get all the humour, just not old enough for me to feel comfortable with the fact that they got it. I thin I’m officially now a bad influence.

However, even if I smoked, there’s no WAY I would’ve given that kid a cigarette! He must’ve been… 13 at the OLDEST?

Sigh.

aSNOW!!! I guess I take this same photograph (or one very similar to it) with every snow fall, hey? It's cause it's visible from Heather's parents' doorstep sans putting my shoes on. WhatEVER.
SNOW!!! I guess I take this same photograph (or one very similar to it) with every snow fall, hey? It’s cause it’s visible from Heather’s parents’ doorstep sans putting my shoes on. WhatEVER.

Anywho, I’d finally found my feet and we were going okay right up until someone decided to sit right in the front with a pretty bad cough and a Nintendo something or other. Surre it was silent, and sure I know he enjoys the music, but his coughing wasn’t (especially not during Illinois is Overflowing) and the whole thing filled me with a special kind of rage.

Heather and I at Huckleberry's Coffee and Tea Friday night in Abingdon, MD.
Heather and I at Huckleberry’s Coffee and Tea Friday night in Abingdon, MD.

By the end there was definately a whole lot of control going on to remain PC and cool and NOT destroying his flesh with my angry parts.

From there, Heather dropped me off at Amy’s to spend the night and think about what I’d done and to watch Narnia the next morning. I usually sleep pretty well at Amy’s, but last night, possibly spurred by the half-sensed movements of her insane catsand the glaring red Hell-light of the lava lamp I was too tired to figure out how to shut off, I was tossy and turny and finally sharply awoken by a half-felt nightmare pain.

I don’t remember the dream really clearly, but there were shadows in that room that looked an awful lot like that little freak-girl from the Ring. The dream was about a blonde, though, with drowned and swollen eye balls and puffy flesh and flowing hair.

I woke up at around 4am with my heart pounding and jumping at every sound. I think I gave Easter (one of the cats) a pretty solid kick when he started yowling in an especially creepy way.

I’ve just been JUMPY recently. Freaked out in the shower the other morning after watching “The Fellowship of the Ring” because I kept visualizing the Watcher of the Deep or whatever it’s called. Mew.

There's no excuse for this. There just isn't! There is speculation that this is perhaps an attempt at pluralization, but... but no.
There’s no excuse for this. There just isn’t! There is speculation that this is perhaps an attempt at pluralization, but… but no.

December 14th, 2005.

Vicious ant attack! Death from above! I was working, innocently enough, sitting and making things happen as I am wont to do, when I gigantic black ant dropped from the ceiling fan and landed on my laptop.

Harbringers of doom. I actually think of them as Thing 1 and Thing 2. The third cat is just Easter. These are the creatures who's half-sensed movements and yowlings and proddings and added heat I think brought on the nightmares the other night. Not that any of them resemble a resurrected drowned blonde girl,but you know - the subconscious is weird.
Harbringers of doom. I actually think of them as Thing 1 and Thing 2. The third cat is just Easter. These are the creatures who’s half-sensed movements and yowlings and proddings and added heat I think brought on the nightmares the other night. Not that any of them resemble a resurrected drowned blonde girl,but you know – the subconscious is weird.

I blew on him till he scampered away, but we eyeballed one another for the rest of the night as he explored all aspects of the kitchen. He was easy to keep track of – he was big and black and the kitchen’s new and white. I went and watched him clean his antennae, and redirected him where neccessary.

This morning I find him sitting on the top surface of the freezer drawer,moving verrrry verrrry slowly.

He’s biding his time. Oh… no longer. My mom got him. She is shaking her fist and saying “I HAVE ENDED HIS LIFE OF WANDERING!!!” Go mom.

My mom decided to stick her cat in a bag. I feel it important to point out that my cruelty to cats was LEARNED from my MENTORS!!!
My mom decided to stick her cat in a bag. I feel it important to point out that my cruelty to cats was LEARNED from my MENTORS!!!
Sharif and his deadly rubber starnose.
Sharif and his deadly rubber starnose.

December 20th, 2005.

I remembered thinking, right as we were racing the setting sun home from California, PA this last time, about how the landscape surprised me. Traveling the way we do has a habit of detaching you from the seasons. You miss the first flutter of one, the final gasp of another. There were still little isolated patches of color then, like birthday candles missed in that first wishing exhale, dotting an otherwise chocolate landscape. But they didn’t survive a second blow, and the white icing and chill in the house that I can’t seem to escape anywhere except the rumbling laundry room are the signs that winter is really here.

At the College Perk Open Mic last Tuesday, the rhythm guitarist from my very, very first band showed up – Eddie of Common Threads. It was very cool to see him. I’ve seen him about once in the past ten years. Bizarre.

It always amuses me that winter is the time I have to send out all the press kits to be considered for summer festival bookings (By the way, if any of the fans out there know a great local festival to them that we should play, e-mail me.). Even with those applications in front of me, I can’t remember how warm it was late May in Texas, or how humid it was in pre-Katrina New Orleans. They say 40 percent of downtown is still without power. I wonder about our hostel, the Asian Pacific Café. The couple that owns one of the coffeehouses sends out e-mail updates about the rebuilding to their mailing list, which I find VERY informative. I’m so personally torn about whether they should have Mardi Gras. Yes, it is in somewhat poor taste considering the state of the city and it’s people, but in a way, the tourism dollars might be the ONLY way to actually get some money into the local government to start rebuilding, helping those very people to whom the party is a kind of insult, and to remind outsiders once again that the place is still standing, still there, that there are still people in need in it. I wonder if it would be more or less popular . the novelty of being able to say you were there, at the first Mardi Gras the city had in the aftermath an added appeal, maybe?

rob tuning at practice. I think this is my new favourite picture of me. For the moment. I like pictures of me. Sometimes. (taken by Sharif)
rob tuning at practice. I think this is my new favourite picture of me. For the moment. I like pictures of me. Sometimes. (taken by Sharif)
Heather and I performing at the New Deal Cafe at our best fucking show EVER. (taken by Sharif). The night's energy was simply amazing, and though I've liked playing in front of the big mural in the main room there for the past several years, moving over to the new room just provided so much space and yet so much intimacy all at the same time. I Loved being so close to people, and on top of that, I was close to a lot of people that I knew well, some of which I hadn't seen in a long time. Generally acknowledged by those who saw us as simply the best show we've ever done.
Heather and I performing at the New Deal Cafe at our best fucking show EVER. (taken by Sharif). The night’s energy was simply amazing, and though I’ve liked playing in front of the big mural in the main room there for the past several years, moving over to the new room just provided so much space and yet so much intimacy all at the same time. I Loved being so close to people, and on top of that, I was close to a lot of people that I knew well, some of which I hadn’t seen in a long time. Generally acknowledged by those who saw us as simply the best show we’ve ever done.

We too are kind of drawing in a big breath right now, which is why we’re not writing much. Everything is all preparation. Work in the studio progresses. Our most recent session completed all the guitar and vocal basic tracking for the songs. Less than a handful of recording additions remain. We have two mixing sessions scheduled for this week, and I’m looking to post the last five songs to ebay by the end of the week – Just in time for New Years.

Damn, that reminds me, I only have a few days to learn me a couple Christmas/Channukah songs on guitar .I also gotta say I’m still a little glowy over the New Deal Show, which might have been one of the best gigs we have ever played. Gina DeSimone and her fantastic trumpet/harmonica player were a great fit as an opening act, and it’s really refreshing to see a woman play guitar like she does – not flash, but true elegance and suave subtlety.

And we … we were funny, and we played really well … and I made someone cry, and we all learned you should never leave chocolate unattended for more than about two hours. Jeff rocks for coming out and doing sound for us. The New Deal rocks for expanding. I love my bandmembers, respect them all as musicians, like them all as people.

All of it’s a good thing, I promise. I didn’t make someone cry because I ate their chocolate or anything.

December 24th, 2005.

I’m sleepy. Satisfied and sleepy. My fingers are sore from playing a nice, relaxed almost-Christmas gig up at Java Mamma’s tonight. Had some surprise guests, and a number of friends from far away.

It was perhaps a little TOO relaxed, I must admit. We were sl… mostly I was sloppy – losing lyrics, losing a good number of strings… I played Joni Mitchell’s “River” for the first time and sort of wished it had been as magical as I wanted it to be. Still – had a really good time.

My friend Whitney came down from Boston and made sugar cookie tongues for Christmas.

This house is always alarmingly lit for Christmas. Around the corner from my mom's house, the rest of the street is dark in recognition of the fact that they just can't compete.
This house is always alarmingly lit for Christmas. Around the corner from my mom’s house, the rest of the street is dark in recognition of the fact that they just can’t compete.
Something amusing obviously just occured here at the New Deal Cafe. I think that might be a snigger on my part, but that's definately a full-out Rowan guffaw.
Something amusing obviously just occured here at the New Deal Cafe. I think that might be a snigger on my part, but that’s definately a full-out Rowan guffaw.

Quiet, relaxed. I’m back at my mom’s house, so that state of affairs isn’t likely to last for very long – still – it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve got the quiet, quiet house to myself. Yawwwwn. Me and those cats. Think I’ll go find one and grab it by the head and give it some Love.

December 28th, 2005.

There are nights when you come off the stage and you think to yourself … “damn”.  Those are good nights. 

At Java Mamma's, creating a ruckus. Last Saturday we even played our own special version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", except ours of course had "two redhead groupies". Mmmm.
At Java Mamma’s, creating a ruckus. Last Saturday we even played our own special version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, except ours of course had “two redhead groupies”. Mmmm.
Sharif got finger puppets for Christmas. An alarming number of them.
Sharif got finger puppets for Christmas. An alarming number of them.

Tonight I was wired and strange and my body and my mouth only seemed marginally under my control.  They were under the control of my fingers though – tonight was a night where the rest of my just dangled from those digits like vestigial skin bags, hovering around me, quivering and jerking, and letting the fingers draw all the blood, all the impulse, all the power.

The College Perk open mic is just what I need to make me feel good about myself.  I’ve been slowly pulling my self-confidence back together, and with the whole band, as much as I Love it, it’s far too easy to forget that it’s MY creation, and that I really am the heart of it.  The harmonies are wholly dualistic, and the band would suffer greatly from the amputation of any of its parts – but it’s important for me to remember that I can stand alone and own a room. (Well, Sharif stood with me… so maybe I shouldn’t be feeling THAT high – but….)

Very good feeling indeed – and lots of attention… whether for my energy level or my fingers’ control – lots of female attention and that felt really, really good.  Maybe my arrogance is slowly coming back, and with that my confidence, and with that my strut.

Played a new song tonight too – up till then the only person to have heard it was Katy, who gave it her blessing.  It’s changed a little bit since her hearing, but tonight I think I played it finalized… just needs a title… Erica Ashley sang along a bit, I couldn’t hear her over my noise, but I Loved how it sounded, Lovely and loud and longing. It was a really, really good night.

December 30th, 2005.

A beautiful night last night. Like something dark and clad in silk. Maybe it was a new moon, maybe excessive clouding of the sky, but it was silent and quiet and dark.

And my brother was in town to sport a ribbon and be festive.
And my brother was in town to sport a ribbon and be festive.

I drove my brother to the airport last night and then drove on to Owings Mills listening to tracks from the new CD. I Love letting strains of “In the Water” flow through me, but it left me feeling melancholy and willing to drive faster than I should.

A friend of mine’s sister is dying of cancer. It’s been a year for that. Her name is Holly and that rings a little heavy with me, gives me nightmares at night.

Their family has a lot of faith that Holly’s going to a good place really, really soon. Today is her birthday. That kind of faith is a beautiful thing, but incomprehensible to me. I have another friend who’s mother just got out of the hospital. No-one knows what’s wrong with her and it’s another thing not to have faith in.

2005 has been a very rough year, and though New Year’s Eve won’t really be anything but an imaginary line stepped over, it’s meaning an awful lot inside my head. We’re finite creatures, I suppose, and I’m ready to point to a line as it passes under my feet and say “see – it’s over… it’s done”. Mentally, I’m very ready for 2006 to be much, much better than 2005.

New Year’s Eve gig will have that line pass under my feet, surrounded by people that I Love and while doing something that I Live and breathe. Yum.