Another week, another few albums of note, starting with Maggot Heart.
I’ve come back to ‘Used To’ from Wilma Laverne Miner, which came out earlier this year. Without road trips and new experiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been pretty much the last album that’s become an “album in time” for me.
The album art work grabbed me, and then I clicked play. Not usually into this darker, moody stuff, but I like this from Ropes of Night, which came out a few months ago.
A slow week of Bandcamp digging. The weather has been brutal, so I’ve been doing my work first thing in the AM and doing my best to get outside.
I’ve known Ed Guida since the 90s, when he used to play in Bedford, and I played in a ska band called the Unmarked Cars. Oh, what a wild time that is. Now, 20 years later, we reconnected via Instagram (of course) and our love of running (he’s a big inspiration for me). So now that An Albatross has a new album out, holy shit, I had to devour it in a heart beat.
Noveller is Sarah Lipstate, creating some great cinematic sonic landscapes.
There are podcasts I want to start, websites I want to launch, campaigns I want to champion, but more and more I see my focus, my “spare time,” is devoted to running. My physical fitness.
Hours per week not just to running, but stretching, the food prep, more stretching, the cool down, the extra rest time devoted to recovery from a hard or long workout.
Of value to me – right now – is physical well being. Running keeps me focused, it clears my head, it manages my stress, it helps me unwind, it gives me something to accomplish each day that’s not just a check box in Todoist.
It sounds simple, but it’s become either “Hell Yeah or No” for me. I’ve recently turned away work because it was not a hell yeah. A friend wanted me to start a music-based podcast with him, revolving around one of my favorite bands, but it just wasn’t a “Hell Yeah” for me.
Hell yeah is 11 miles in a snow storm. It’s a 13 mile bike ride, then a four mile in the middle of a heat wave. It’s “just another run” when it’s pouring rain outside.
That’s my hell yeah, and I’m getting better at realizing that.
For awhile I swore by using Toggl, a tool that let me keep track of all the time I was spending on client work. As I moved between tasks, I was moving between tabs, making sure I’d start the timer. If I went to make coffee, stop the timer!
Come back to work, wait, a new email to check, which leads me to jump into another project – change tabs, start the timer with this other client.
I’m not sure if it was the constant timer going in the tab that wiped me out, or the number of times I’d have to switch tabs to start, stop, and manage my timer, but I quit.
Yeah, Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to the amount of time we give it, but fuck it… I’m tired of trying to super efficient, shaving minutes from tasks, or feeling guilty for only being so far into a task at the 10 minute mark, or the 25 minute work.
Things that usually took 15 minutes were now taking 30 – what’s wrong with my work ethic?! My productivity is lacking!
And then, oh yeah – we’re living in the middle of a pandemic. I can’t go out for an afternoon coffee, go to a show at night to see one of the bands I work, meet a friend for a movie, go to the gym – no, my entire social life and down-time activities have been eliminated.
No wonder I have a problem focusing, and I know others are feeling it, too.
So don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling this. There’s nothing normal about this moment in history that we’re living in. And believe me, 2020 will be talked about for decades, adding to the horrible history of America.
This is a refrain I jokingly toss around, especially lately. COVID-19 is tearing through America, billionaires have made more billions during this horrible pandemic, sports leagues think they’ll play this fall, and like.. I don’t know, nothing seems real.
This lightens the load a bit with work, with finances, with everything else in life. If nothing is real, what matters?
Of course, the opposite is true. Everything is real. The tension, the uncertainty, the loss; everything we’re feeling is very real.
Being present helps. Being in the moment, in the now, absolutely helps. The whole “just mediate 10 minutes a day” thing is very real.
Counting your breaths and being very present on an hour and a half run helps, too.
In an episode of Akimbo (“Money Moves“), Seth Godin equates money as a game, not as a personal indictment on your self worth or status. (Permalink here to the time stamp of the below text).
All of the things I’ve talked about are strategies around the game of money. That money is always moving, that money grows, that money costs, that cash flow matters. But it’s a game, it’s not personal. And what we need to do as productive artists and professionals who create things, is to say, when money is involved, we have to put our game hat on. That this isn’t a personal referendum on who I am, and what I am worth. It’s a game, and I can play it to make more money, or I can play it poorly. But as soon as we conflate it with who am I as a human, what do I count for, what am I worth? Then we’re going to lose that game.
I’ve been there, and I know friends there now, and friends that have gotten out. It’s up and down, goes in cycles. But we have to be careful to not equate the lack of work, of money, with our own self worth.
I busted out the iPad and Procreate and decided to finally make some “branding” for my Bandcamp Roulette videos (you can see the evolution of those in this YouTube Playlist). I’m super happy with how it turned out, and stoked to be getting back to creating and producing more.
Since I dig through Bandcamp quite a bit, some gems don’t make it into these videos, so here’s some goodies from the past week.
This is from a video game soundtrack from back in 2018 apparently. While I’m not much of a gamer these days, I’ve always appreciated the soundtracks to the games, even the ones I’ve never heard of.
I’m always a fan of heavy, dark, and pissed off music, and this fantastically works.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for something loose and free, and this 2018 release fits the bill. The menacing bass tones and vibe kill me every step of the way.
I can look on my iPhone right now and see how many hours I spend on social media. But if I spent that time writing? Working on a podcast? Refining my business? Damn, I could be miles ahead of where I’m at now in a year.
Mind you, I try not to flog myself too bad with this, since I do commit many hours per week devoted to fitness, in the form of biking at cycling (this week I should hit 20 miles running and 40 miles biking), but still, doom scrolling through Twitter when I wake up, and when I go to bed… neither times are very helpful.
Spending time on writing on a blog seems almost pointless. I could tap away a few things on Twitter (where I’ve had an account since 2006, and was one of the first 3000 people to sign up), and get a few likes. Maybe a reply or two.
But it’s there for a second, and then it’s gone.
The web is here, and is sticking around. You can read this post the second it’s published, or three years from now. Good luck finding one of my three week old Tweets.
I’ve been thinking about books, after hearing an interview with Ainissa Ramierz who just release ‘The Alchemy of Us.’
A book. In 2020.
But my habits aren’t everyone’s habits. From idea, to writing, to publishing, to releasing, to marketing… a book takes time.
A Tweet comes and goes. Even if it goes viral, another takes its place in 3.4 seconds.
Thought of this scene while running on a brutally hot day recently, how I wanted to check out, think of other things, keep my mind off the hurt and the heat.
“Stay with the pain, don’t shut this out.”
When I let my mind wander, I think about work, money, taxes, and all sorts of stressful stuff. Since I’m thinking of that nonsense, my pace can quicken, which just leads to more pain. Or maybe I forget to drink.
“This is your pain. This is your burning hand.”
Lately I count, which I learned from the Headspace app. Check in. Bring the focus back to the breath. Count one when I breathe in, two when I exhale. To ten. Then repeat.
“It’s the greatest moment in your life, man, and you’re off somewhere missing it.”
Tonight I set off on a bike ride. I didn’t make it 10 feet before I realized I had a flat.
It was already raining. I was already reeling from some work stuff. I had to burn this stress off, so I changed into my running shoes and set off.
There’s a storm rolling up the east coast, and we’re getting lots of rain here in PA. The sort of rain that keeps you indoors, where it’s safe. Today got nasty.
I was getting pelted. I was three miles from home, on a stretch of road with corn fields on either side of me. The only exit strategy was keep running. No phone call, no one was picking me up. I was soaked, sweaty, and teetering on burning out. I felt the weight of my heavy clothes, it was cooler so I could run a faster pace. The rain was dumping on me, the wind was kicking up.
I thought about the junk food I ate coming home from the grocery store. Or how maybe that salad for lunch didn’t provide enough carbs.
Could I keep up this pace? Was I gonna fizzle?
One, two. Three, four.
One foot in front of the other. Make it to that tree. Then that one. Slow down until that sign. “I’m not walking home,” I thought.