Tiny Changes

Sunday night. “Back to work,” my friend said a bit ago, after an afternoon of birthday cake and football.

I recently finished “Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory,” by Deena Kastor. So many times, through the dark times in life beyond, she just paid attention. Look at the trees, the people around you, the stuff on your desk, or the houses you drive past on your commute home.

By themselves, eh, what’s it matter? But I feel like the less we pay attention to the little stuff, the tiny cues, the harder it is to handle the bigger things. Small changes today lead to big things down the road. Get a bit off course, and five years from now where are we? And exactly what “course” we’re even talking about, well, that’s up to you.

Tomorrow is Monday, and we all have our morning routines, well worn into our early week schedules, made up of tiny thoughts and habits. But this week, let’s notice them. Feel everything that Monday morning gives us, and then maybe make some tiny adjustments.

Day to Dayness

Had an interesting talk today at a birthday party about starting podcasts, writing on the web, and consistency. About expectations as “creators,” more or less.

The one person was eager to start, to produce, and asking all sorts of questions about platforms and strategies, and then there were two of us who were – frankly – burnt out on it.

Having both come from musical backgrounds, and then being in the music media world, it’s a grind. It can be hard to get excited about new albums sometimes when you surrounded by… new albums all the time, especially when your “side hustle” requires you to be stoked about… new albums all the time.

Thankfully in the past year my passion has become my main gig, and I am beyond thankful and grateful for that. But then adding a side gig in the same field became too much, which is why I shuttered Skull Toaster.

There’s only so much energy one can expend on the day to dayness of MUSIC, which I why I think I’ve neglected playing music of my own the past several years (or, well, decade or so).

Maybe it’s not because I know how the sausage is made, but because every day I’m eating sausage, and I don’t want anymore after a long day of work.

Enter, then, my running. It’s something I started back in 2016, and has become a gigantic part of my life. I listen to some running podcasts, and follow some running accounts on Instagram and such, but I… don’t want to start a running podcast, or a blog, or a brand.

Perhaps it’s okay in 2019 to just do things, and let them be your things. Not everything needs to be a side hustle, or turned into content. It can just be, and that’s good enough on its own.

Turning 43

Oh yeah, I just turned 43 yesterday. My biggest achievement? I’ve run almost 2000 miles since I started running in 2016.

Sure, I’m doing much better financially and such, but shit, I ran a half-marathon in the past year. And a few 10 mile races!

Thinking along the lines of why I’m not consistent with producing content these days, I seriously think I’ve turned that “producing content” thing into “working on me.”

I’m the content, I guess?

Because at the end of the day, the money, the car, the work… that’ll all come and go, but this body is the only one I’ve got.


Since ending Skull Toaster back in October, I’ve struggled to “producing” since.

I’ve tried making and recording music, kicking around Abelton Live. I made 40+ little diddies, but then fell off.

I was doing a video series called LATER on YouTube / podcast, but eh.

I got an Apple Pen and started posting drawings, but sort of fell off with that, too.

Then I listneed to one of my fave running podcasts, The Morning Shakeout. Today’s episode was with Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, and pretty quick runner.

He mentioned a small bit about being a musician, and how he’s sort of slacked on in that world because running has taken up so much of his time and energy.

And boom, there it is. I mean, I’m only running around 20 miles a week, but a lot of time and energy revolves around that effort. Time at the gym, sleeping, some weights, stretching, re-fueling…

I don’t know – since 2001 I was always producing, putting out content. Publishing interviews, reviews, videos. With Skull Toaster I was always making videos and images and questions.

After 18 years, I don’t know, maybe I’m content with not producing something all the time.

The Here and Now

Earlier this week I got a little frazzled. Some work stuff, some personal stuff, some time management stuff, the usual.

I was getting another cup of coffee downstairs, ready to bound back to my computer and tackle everything, as usual.

But I stopped. And opened up the Headspace app.

I’ve been using that app for months now, to fall asleep. I’ve done a few of the basic meditation sessions. I’ve done them enough to like, “get it.” In a very rookie sort of sense.

I get it in the sense that when I’m tense, or anxious, or worried, there is no tiger leaping at my face. There are no men in suits at the door to take me away. I’m not in trouble, or in any danger.

Meditation has taught me that feelings and emotions aren’t me. I can feel them, but they’re not who I am at the moment. In the present moment I am me, and that’s it. Nothing else.

I’m no meditation expert by any stretch, and I hate that I need to remind anyone about that, but I know a little bit more today than I did six months ago.

Being Broke Sucks

A friend recently took a considerable paycut. Scary in itself, but many times scarier when you’ve got multiple mouths to feed, a mortgage, and car payments. It sucks.

And this friend is a dude pal of mine. Dudes, who are conditioned for years to be the “breadwinners,” the “head of households.” The “provider.” These are 50s era hold-overs, right? From a time when a single paycheck could provide a good life and college was $400.

This friend has taken a hit both in the wallet, and mentally. We’ve been talking quite a bit, but finally got to the source. It’s the money part. It’s making less, not providing “enough,” or as before.

I know this goes for both sexes (especially with women making less than men right out of the gate), but trying our best to not tie our self worth to our bank accounts is god damn hard work.

Without money in the bank, without “spending money,” it’s harder to meet up with friends for dinner, travel for weddings, and about a million other social things.

I know, because I’ve been piss broke the last few years. When the subject came up of that cool new show on Netflix, which at the time cost just $8/mo, I changed the subject; “oh, I just don’t watch a lot of TV” I’d say, which was a way for me to avoid, “oh, I can’t afford that.”

Money can’t buy happiness, sure. There’s a lot of miserable rich people out there. But money buys you choices, and affords you dignity, which is damn near priceless.

Start a Band

Okay, maybe don’t start a band. But you should really start a band.

What I mean is this; in the early 90s, when I was in high school, I joined a band. Back up, in the mid 80s and beyond I loved hair metal. I bought Poison’s ‘Open Up and Say Ahhh’ at a drug store. On vinyl.

By the time I was in high school, I was a rocker. Or at least I wanted to be. I wore the shirts, had the mullet, I was a would be rocker. I signalled to other would be rockers that I, indeed, did wanted to rock.

So I got to join a band!

That was 27 years ago, and that course I set back then because I loved the ‘Paradise City’ video by Guns N’ Roses is why I do what I do today (helping busy music publicists).

So why should you start a band today? Well, you don’t need to really start a band, but you should start something.

See, back then we didn’t have the internet. To find other weirdos we had to rent fire-halls, or drive two hours away with printed out MapQuest directions to see a show that I’m not even sure how we knew about.

But these days, with the internet, with the super computer in our pockets, we can connect with all sorts of weirdos from all over the world. From there we can “form a band,” and do all sorts of fun stuff.

We can start websites, movements, services, gigs, and all sorts of things.

But we do that by finding our fellow weirdos through intentional actions. Just like I used to practice my bass everyday, you need to practice your craft everyday out in the open. Posting your progress, your finished products, your incomplete drafts, and some of your normal day to day drudgery.

Like I said, this is easy compared to driving into New Jersey on a Friday night in the rain without a smartphone.

So form your band, find your weirdos, and do great stuff.

Grief Comes when it Comes

Grief strikes at the oddest times, I swear. Holidays and birthdays are fine, but I recently saw some guys out with their moms for lunch, or coffee, and that just destroys me.

Those moments when mom would ask me about an old friend, or a job, or a place I visited, those are gone now. She cared, and noticed, in a way that’s different than anyone else.

Knowing I’ll never get to have a coffee date with my mom, ever again, is tough. It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life.

Audience of One

Your “audience” starts with you. Make the thing you wanna see first. In my latest episode of LATER, I talk about how your creative endeavors need to satisfy that audience of one; YOU. No clicks, or likes, or whatever. But you have to be stoked when doing it.

I did Skull Toaster for seven years and quit it because it wasn’t serving the audience of one anymore. Never-mind that it built up a $200/mo Patreon / Memberful support network, or that 30+ people a day replied to metal trivia, and a solid nightly email newsletter that I produced and sent every night.

Wasn’t enough. The audience of one – me – wasn’t loving it anymore. Shut it down.

But also, life and work and relationships and all that – guess what? You’re still the audience, and last I checked you get to walk out of bad movies.

That doesn’t mean you just tell your boss off, or leave your family, or burn down the farm. No, it was tiny decisions made over decades that landed us where we are. Now it takes a series of tiny decisions over the next decade or two to course correct.

It’s not black and white. It doesn’t go from misery to utopia in a day.

Seek to entertain that audience of one in all that you do.

What is Later?

There’s been a few words that have stuck with me over the years.

One time, during an interview with Jason Hamacher of Frodus, Lost Origins with my pal Travis on his As The Story Grows podcast in 2016 (here), we got around to when I met Jason, years ago when I lived in NYC, at some vegetarian place.

“Yeah, you were with your girlfriend, or wife…”

“Well, ex-wife now,” I replied.

Jason replied, “later.”

His delivery was perfect, as only Hamacher could get away with.

Another word that’s stuck is, “why?”

I had just been rejected for another job that I thought for sure I was a good fit. My friend was with me, and asked me what I was going to do next.

“Send out more resumes, I guess,” I replied.

“Why? It doesn’t seem to be working.”

Pretty sure that was in 2016, too. Last two resumes I sent were in late 2017 (didn’t get those either), but I haven’t sent one since. He was right. I hunkered down on my own business (Close Mondays) in 2018 and haven’t looked back.

Later. Moving on, moving forward.

Why? An honest question. Stop doing what’s not working.

Later is now the name of my video / audio series. For more info, click here.