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September 14, 2011
It's Wednesday September 14th, and I'm only just remembering a promise I made to myself in May: write a blog entry every Monday if for no other reason than to stay in the habit of writing. Now, here it is mid September, a Wednesday, and my last entry was nearly four months ago. Where does the time go? So today I'm making another promise to myself: do not promise to write a blog entry every Monday because you know that with life as it is right now, writing something every Monday is highly unlikely. Truth is, I'd like very much to be writing every day, not just Mondays. But here I am in a new state half way across the country from New York where I've lived for 20 years, and frankly, my head and heart are spinning. So I excuse myself and hope that with time, I will settle down and get back to writing every day soon enough.
It's a crazy, mixed-up time for me. I keep telling myself to call this a sabbatical, but really it's just another time in my life. I'm not productive on a creative level. I'm not playing the piano much or the guitar very much at all. My recording equipment is on the fritz, which makes me nuts. I haven't lived here long enough to have anything to write about, and I'm too distracted by all the new stimulation to re-open old work that needs to be finished. Today, I felt like I needed to write something new, so I've migrated to this non-threatening blog spot. When I got to my desk, I had no idea what I might have to say, but simply needed to put my fingers on the keys and begin.
I've spent the last couple of days painting. We live in a commercial building that has one very large room on the second floor which acts as our living room, eating area, piano studio, tv room, ping pong table space and kitchen. My partner and I have only random furniture that we've brought from our previous lives. As luck would have it, everything looks ok together, but believe me, there's nothing elegant about any of it. Painting the walls seemed a good way to warm up the room and bring our two lives together through the act of picking colors. We started with the main wall in a beige/mustard color recommended by Brent's sister-in-law. I wasn't sure about it when she suggested it, but when it was done, I was amazed by how it made most of the other colors in the room blend together. After I painted that one wall, it was clear which colors in the room didn't work and would have to go. Yesterday, though, I wrecked that feel by using two other "neutral" colors in contrast. Amazing how quickly you can screw something up by experimenting or making things more complicated than they need to be. It does look better, but there's something uncomfortable about the two palettes. The beige is in the brown family, and the other two are in the gray/slate family and boy does it confuse the eye. I never studied fine painting, so seeing this all so clearly in my own living room is exciting, albeit rather expensive. So off to the paint store I go again, to get two browns that are in the same color group as the beige, to see if that'll work. The whole experience makes me want to understand the psychology of colors. There's a whole building to paint here, so I'm going to learn a lot one way or the other.
The summer is nearly over. We've already started lighting a fire at night to take the cool edge off. Two nights ago, the tips of the Rocky Mountains were covered in snow. This will be my first winter in Colorado, so I'm a bit nervous about what's to come in terms of being cold. Last year was milder here than in New York where I was living at the time, but it may turn around the other way this year. We'll see. At this moment, I'm wearing long sleeved thermal underwear and a fleece to make sitting still comfortable.
But what's mostly on my mind is the question of what to do with my life. For over 25 years I've been dreaming about and trying to be successful with my songs and songwriting. I'm 53 now and never achieved the success that I fantasized about, but nevertheless, did well enough to be grateful and satisfied with my work. I loved being on stage more than anything else. When I was singing for others, especially my own songs, I felt as good as I've ever felt. Despite nervousness and insecurities, I usually calmed down the moment the show started. My tendency is to be over-wound (you noticed?) but for some reason, when I'd sing, a lot of that high strung energy would dissipate. Standing up in front of a crowd was ironically the most relaxing place for me to be. It was also particularly warming to get feedback after the show, especially if someone was truly moved. What better reward could there be? Now here I am in Colorado, a state I'd never been to before moving here, and I feel as though something major is happening to me. I don't have the need or desire to perform right now. I DO feel a deep sense of relief about not performing because I don't have to get on the phone today and try to find a gig for next month or the month after that. I should try, but I don't have the drive to do it anymore. I need to earn a living, of course, but I don't have to do it the same way, and frankly, I'm tired. While I was painting these last couple of days, I listened to my friend Kirsti Gholson's new CD about 20 times in succession. It's an incredible recording (get a copy!) but what is most impressive is her lyrics. She is truly a master lyricist. I'm inspired to try new things with my songs as a result of listening to hers. I was also struck by the fact that Kirsti doesn't perform her songs in public that often. She chooses to record and write instead. As I listened to her, I felt like perhaps that's the direction my mid-life body wants to take: write, play, record, but let go of the constant need to perform and travel. Perhaps now is the time to rest. To reflect. To gather myself together for whatever the next phase of my creative life will be. I've ordered a new computer so that recording will work smoothly again. My piano's in tune and I'm in the process of buying a used keyboard that has all the virtual sounds I might need to make a good recording right here at home. A simple recording. A recording that focuses on the songs rather than on production. These days, no one has the money to make highly produced recordings anymore. We all have to simplify in all kinds of ways, and for me, this is a good thing. As I get older, I can feel my voice changing. I have more courage to sing out but less range to work with. So I'll write songs that will take advantage of my waning skills. The challenge is to feel good about where I am now and not fret about what used to be or could have been. As I adjust, perhaps new and interesting material will emerge. I hope so, and I actually believe that it will.
The country as a whole feels uninspired to me right now. So many of us are feeling less well off, more nervous or worried. The rains, fires and winds have set us back. The economy and political silliness has made many of us cynical or angry. But I remain optimistic. I believe we'll all be ok. And I know that for myself, as long as I continue to believe that good creative work will come from my hands, that in time, it will.
I wish you all well, and continue to wonder who it is that might be reading this.