Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Coming Around Again...Again

The creative monster within me is stirring.  His hot, steaming breath is racing down my spine as he sits perched on my back like a gargoyle whispering words of artistic encouragement and admonishment in my ears.  I can feel my heart trying to jump out of my chest as if it's trying to convince my brain that by doing so my soul will benefit from this coming spurt of creativity.  Everything is possible.  Everything is reachable.  I DESERVE to be heard!
I fired up the jalopy of a computer I have in the studio today to see if it would work for me the way it has faithfully done for the last 10 years. Apparently when I hooked up my antiquated DCC (digital compact cassette) player via S/PIDF my sound card decided to belly up and put my computer into digital shock.   I listened to a demo of my old band Sphere of Influence and just automatically started getting the vocal track ready for the remix I'll probably start putting together next week.  I did it without even thinking about it.  I figured out that I miss being a musician so bad that even working on old music is a way of keeping the hunger for expression at bay. 

I'm currently in a little eatery next to Gorrila Tango Theatre feeling inspired to write new stuff and record it - right here, right now (no Jesus Jones references!)  Oops, too bad. Got rehearsal in 5 min. Let's wait until we get home :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Tried Dialing It In But...

In a rush to get out of the house this morning to make it to the city, I completely forgot to grab my phone.  That mistake completely fawked up my day.

I drove a good 20 minutes out to the major highway from my cozy home in IN.  Right as I got on the major highway I realized, "Hey, where the fawk is my phone?"  I drove 90 miles an hour to the next major exit, pulled over in a waffle house parking lot, and tore apart my car looking for it.  It was nowhere to be found.


So, I had a decision to make.  Do I drive back through traffic to get my phone and put additional pressure on myself to get into the city on time for a very important appointment or do I forgo the quest and contiue without it.  Eventually I decided on the latter after driving an additional 10 minutes back towards the house.  By the time I gauaged that I would have probably 30 minutes to get to Chicago from my house, I decided it'd be a bad idea.  I drove like mad back to the highway and proceeded to beat myself up for it.

I quickly realized today that my smartphone is a very capable of making me look very stupid when it's out of my possession.  It's the main way my family can get a hold of me.  All of my extra-curricular activities I lead are based off being able to get email, text, and phone calls through that phone.  From a work perspective, I can work from anywhere - as long as I can get online - and I couldn't do that without the damn phone.

I was thrust into pre-1998 - there era where I lived my life without a phone.  I went into my mental rolodex of how the hell I used to get by without a cellphone:

  • Payphones and calling cards - ubiquitous back then; now, you'll be luck yo to find one in your local mall.
  • Going into the office - I don't really have an office anymore.  I was in the vicinity of the office downtown but parking is expensive and there's a ton of construction down there forcing everyone to get even more aggressive in finding free parking.  It would've taken me around 2 hours round-trip to find a free parking spot somewhere, walk over to the office building, work, and then walk back.
  • Voicemail - people still use this nowadays but back in the day, it was a lifeline to be checking it night and day; otherwise, you would have a full inbox and miss crucial information.
  • Just go off the grid - yes, there was a time in my life people just couldn't reach me.  sometimes I go on self-imposed episodes where I turn the phone off, but in the back of my mind just knowing that all I have to do is turn my precious phone back on to be reconnected was comforting.  Wondering around the city today with it being virtually impossible for me to be available was a hard shift.
I've siphoning off bandwdsth from local Starbucks stores to make the experience a bit more tolerable.  I have been able to attend some conference calls via Skype.  I was also able to get and send emails as needed.  I notified everyone on my social networks that I was rolling dark and would be relatively difficult to get a hold of quickly.  I covered my bases.

I got to work on memorizing lines for the show, catch up with some friends at Uncle Julio's (near the Starbucks I was working at), and visit some stores I like going to (and almost never by anything from).  Overall, I feel like I again took a vacation from myself; however, this time it was forced :)

It was a but liberating to be off the grid today.  I told the Wifey she should do the same soon as I know she would enjoy it.  I'll take the day off from work, she'll feed the youngest one, then leave me with them to fend for ourselves until after bedtime. The though of being left alone with two kids is unpleasant but the thought of her enjoying herself and getting her mini-vacation is worth it.  I love my kids but damn they're a lot of work :)

OK. Back to line memorization. 

End of Line.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Did I Cheat?

During rehearsal today someone mentioned that they didn't understand how I could claim to be away from social media when I was blogging the entire time and maintaining a presence on Facebook through automatic linking; it seemed that I was cheating on my claims.   Perhaps I was; perhaps I was not.

When I decided to take my social media sabbatical, my main vices at the time were Facebook and Twitter.  I had all but abandoned this blog in favor of sharing the next 140 characters I could think of.  The challenge of being as witty and clever as possible to convey what was going on at the time would consume my thoughts.  Everything became a shareable event; if I was out with my family - share it; when I'd have rehearsals - share it; when a funny thought would pop in head - take a picture of my thinking about it - and share it.  I began doing things for the sake of Twitter and Facebook instead of doing them because I wanted to.  It's like I was chasing the (online) dragon.  No matter how much of sharing I did, it wasn't enough.  And with all of the boolsheet going on at the time (and some of which still is), I was really unhappy with myself.  I would compare my online personas with others and feeling like I wasn't doing enough in my life.  The quest for acceptance still lingers in my heart and head.  I'd get really bummed out and would get angry/sad for long periods of time.  I needed to decompress and get reconnect with myself; therefore, I got off the wheel of despair I set in motion.

So, to me blogging was a cheat as long as I wrote about things I normally had been writing about, and shared my thoughts in a "more than 140 characters" fashion, i.e., be truthful, raw and open.  I've written more in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last 6 months (ok, maybe not, but it feels like I have).  Dumping my life online like this holds me accountable to myself in a lot of regards.  It's cool that people actually have been reading it; that makes me happy because I tend to put up facades in a lot of ways which is difficult for me to do with the blog.  I want to be put in check by others when I get a bit out of line.  I want to put all of my blogs into a book to give to my kids at some point.  Maybe by having a written history of Daddy's most inner thoughts, they'll come to appreciate (or loathe ;-)) me in the future.  I think of it as mental time capsule.

So, did I cheat? I say no. What do you say?

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Return To Being Social A.K.A. Going into Sober Living A.K.A Social Media Withdrawl - Day 15

Hi, my name is Nelson - and I'm a recovering social media addict. 

Tonight's my last obligatory day to not be a part of my normal social media routine.  It'll be 15 days since I went on sabbatical from Twitter and Facebook.  I have a show to promote so I will be back on but in a limited fashion.  Here's how I am going to stay sane:

  • Take everything day by day.  Yes, just like a heroin junkie or an alcoholic, I need to reduce the scope of my life to be daily.  Live each day to the fullest!
  • Log in and out of every Twitter and Facebook session.  Auto-logins made being on these items way too easy.  If I REALLY want to do something, I'll give myself the additional time of logging in to gauge whether or not what I have to share with the world is important enough for the added 10-30 seconds of time to log in.  This will be especially useful when I'm using my phone for updates.
  • Remove bookmarks and shortcuts to my social media apps.  I've already done it on my web browsers so I've just gotta do it on my phone.  Another 5-10 seconds to mull over my involvement.
  • Step away from the computer!  Yep, take fawkin' breaks Nelson!
I look forward to tomorrow. Excelsior!

It's The Little Things That Kill

I got to see Bush and Chevelle with the Wifey in Chicago tonight for free thanks to Samsung and AT&T sponsoring the event.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the evening.  The security was very courteous and nonchalant with no pat downs or searches.  The peddling of phones where relatively innocuous and I even got to play my first game of Angry Birds via their slick new Galaxy S phone which was super light, super bright, and probably super expensive to own and maintain (what's the battery life on one of those things?

The bands were actually really good in their own right (Chevelle has bored me since their second record but they played well tonight) and Bush really surprised me as this was the second time I've seen them.  I saw them in San Antonio at Sunken Gardens Theatre right during the Sixteen Stone tour but I don't remember anything else from the show. I'm not really a Bush fan (both politically and musically) but I am intrigued with their comeback as they've release a new single that I really like.  Their original guitarist Nigel Pulsford isn't in the group anymore; I hope they decide that to move away from the noisy/grungy sound the started with and work on sonics and general songwriting.  The new single alludes to this wish of mine :)

Overall, it was a nice night.  Glad I got to see enjoy my time out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Social Media Withdrawl - Day 10

I've made it ten days without consuming myself with my social media.  I made a goal to make it for 15 days at this point.  The hard part about today was not necessarily worrying out my Facebook status; what made it hard was that I have a ton of things to share with people!  I have pictures, videos, and graphics I've made for the Salsation show that I will hav eto share in an alternate way.

Overall, I do feel a lot better about things.  Things have slowed down a bit for me and I feel like I am catching up on things.  I've had more good days than bad over the last 1.5 weeks, and I feel that being away from my social media has helped with that ratio.

With that said, I'm planning some measures for me to keep me from getting sucked into the vortex of my online persona, and am going to make damn sure I don't feel so inadequate by things out of my control again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Took A Bite Of The Apple

My beloved iPod crapped out on me a couple of days ago en route to rehearsal.  I got this dreaded screen:

Luckily I was in the car with my laptop so I tried to restore it while on the road.  iTunes kept telling me that there was some kind of error with the restore process and it could not  proceed with the restore.  I figured that either it was the fact that my laptop wasn't running the iTunes I first registered the iPod with originally or I've got a dead hard drive on my hands.  I could hear the hard drive whir up when ever it was connected and heard no clicking when the drive was engaged; therefore, I wasn't sure if that was the culprit of my issues.  Eventually I got it home and repeated the same restore procedure with the same results.  I knew a trip to the Apple Store was needed.

I hate going to the Apple Store.  As a techie, I feel that it's a lot of glam and gleam with uppity people in the store trying find the latest stylish gadget to consume their lives fiddling on the bus while on their way to work.  I also detest the fact they call their help staff "geniuses".  I've stumped many Apple Store employees with simple questions about the capacities of their own products to know that these guys are not so invested in Apple that they want to devote their lives to a Vulcan-like existence of training their minds to be superior to everyone elses'.  It's typically some hipster working their on their way to a better job elsewhere in their lives.  So, when I walk into the Apple Store, I automatically sense a vibe of concentrated pretentiousness that I'll have to wade through to get what I want.

So, I got the the "Genius Bar" (that by the way doesn't server an alcohol.  Apparently they're so smart they keep forgetting to get their liquor licenses at each store) and plop down my iPod and tell them my issue and all the methods I took to resolve it.  The guy at the counter was very nice and courteous and seemed to be able to handle three customers at once gracefully.  As he made an appointment for us on an iPad (apparently I couldn't really talk to him without one), he told me it was probably a bad hard drive.  Cool - we both have the same diagnosis.  He then plugged in my iPod to a store Mac and tried to restore it with identical results I had.  He then proceeded to replace my iPod free-of-charge (it was under warranty), no additional questions asked.  Cool - we both had the same resolution for the problem.

Overall, this was the quickest customer service visit I've ever made to a technology store.  So, perhaps I'll allow the guy to be a genius after all - but just for today ;-).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Championing the Underdog

One of the things  I remember growing up was my father calling me into his room, and lecturing me on the way the Yankees would win the next world series irrespective of whatever cruddy record they were having that year.  He would always say, "You see, I like to root for the underdog."  I would look at him, nod my head in agreement, and walk out of the room thinking, "My gawd man!  You're crazy!  The Yankees suck!  Why don't you root for the winner?"  Well, times have changed.  As I grow older and promise myself I would never turn out like my father, the more I see that he and I are much more alike than I like to give him credit for.

It turns out that I too like to champion  the underdog in many situations.  I love science fiction with dystopian societies where the protagonist must fight "The Man" to achieve some symbolic gesture of freedom.  I like getting into bands that everyone loved 5-10 years ago and now hate for some reason.  For this very reason I've now become a Limp Bizkit fan.  How best to rebel against our fickle musical culture?  Like a band that was written off 10 years ago.  I also like to romanticize celebrities that were vilified in the press like Kevin Federline or Michael Lohan.  It's so strange.

The folks that are underdogs have to show a lot of character to overcome public perceptions.  We as Americans like to kick people when they're up and hold them down once they fall.  We also love a good comeback story.  Just look at our obsession with Elvis!

I feel like an underdog a lot in my daily dealings.  I feel like I overcome a lot of my own judgements as well as what people expect of me.  I also know that in many situations I'm no longer considered an underdog and some people are waiting for me to fail at what I do.

Am I a bit delusional? Probably.  But it's an engine of motivation that I use to compel me to do great things.  The only difference is that I'm learning that I need to change the oil of the engine to perform actions for myself and not others.  People will always hate it when you succeed.  I must learn to succeed and truly ignore that negativity and just focus on the positive results I want.  Maybe if I do that, the underdog in me will lay down and sleep finally.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Social Media Withdrawl - Day 2

Today was a better day so far without my social media crutch.  Had a good family day with the Velazco clan and a couple of friends from their city and their child.  In preparation, we cleaned up 3/5 of the house so there is that much less work to do.  I also got to work a little bit on preparing for tomorrow's rehearsal.  Overall, I feel a little lighter on my feet. Whoo hoo!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Social Media Withdrawl - Day 1

Since my last post yesterday,I can feel the pull of habit creeping into my online routine:

-->power on the computer

-->log in

-->fire up Firefox

-->allow Echofon to refresh with my Twitter updates

-->click on my Facebook bookmark and check the upper left part of the toolbar to tell me 2-3 people like my post, comment, link, or status

-->proceed through the timeline to see what everybody else is up to

-->scan my tweets to see if there is anything worthwhile the people I'm following are doing

-->contemplate posting something of my own.

By the end of the day, I've spent 2-3 hours minimum on repeating this routine. Then this normally happens:

-->I feel foolish spending so much time online

-->I get angry with myself that I have "nothing of interest" to post that I begin plotting a way creating content.

-->It's late so I'm either too tired or not interested in making noise or having to put equipment together to make the content. So, nothing gets done.

Repeat the cycle.

This morning when I powered up, I had to break up my flow.  It's a little bit more difficult than I anticipated.  I have all of these thoughts that just remain with me for now. However, I have logged out of my accounts, deleted my bookmarks, and have been exercising my will power.   Let's see how long I last.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Taking a Vacation From Myself

The last couple of weeks have been rather intense for me. I had a little blow up with a colleague of mine on the phone ranting and raving about how my life was in this weird place.  Granted it was exacerbated by being incredibly hungry at the time and I was unable to put my emotions in perspective while I verbally destroyed everything around me.  After I ate, I was like, "Maybe things really aren't as bad as I am making them out to be." *DUH!*

The episode forced me to put my current life in perspective a bit and I had to make a decision.  I have the uncanny knack of investing myself into efforts that require a ton of time and commitment to only to become resentful because I over commit myself to them and feel alone in keeping those efforts alive.  Per my previous posting, I tend to operate at a different level than most people.  It's not to say I'm better or more deserving of people's praise (if only it were that easy) but it's just to say that finding like-minded people in intensity is difficult to do be it theatre, work, or family.  It's 100% my issue the way I feel at times and I've come to re-realization that the common thread to these type of unfulfilling situations is me.

So, to resolve the issue, I'm backing off on a lot of creative endeavors that are taking time away from the core stuff I need to focus on.   My ego is taking a big bruising by admitting that I'm not strong enough to do everything for everyone, but ultimately, I know that I'm falling apart.  Luckily I've started talking a bit more to folks I'm doing stuff with all around my life and getting a ton of support so that really helps (thank you all).  I hate being vague here, but there is no need for me to get into specifics.

I'm also taking a brief sabbatical from my social network (other than to projects I have to promote).  I think I'll stick with email and blogging right now.  With the shape my mind is in right now, I can't allow my mind wonder into areas of trying to compete with people in their own artistic achievements.   Instead of being happy for them, I'm reflecting badly on myself as to "why I'm not doing XYZ?"  That's no way to be and is a disservice to both me and the people I'm reading about.

So, I'm chilling out.  Is that possible?  Yes, for brief periods.  I hope to learn more about myself in this next round so that I can make these chillisodes last a lot longer every time and I don't get all bent out of shape.

I love you all.