News for the ‘friendship’ Category
Not So Independent
Our Vanagon is changing our life. This isn’t actually ours, but it’s identical to the one we own that is resting in our garage. Hopefully not in a final resting sort of way. I had no idea when we bought this thing how much koolaid we were sipping into. It’s a Vanagon cult out there people! Nor did we do much homework on this thing. It was cheap, we had savings (note use of past tense), we had dreams, it was time! And now? Our dreams are changing. And yes, this Vanagon is changing our life. (I’m using the singular in the sense of the life of our family – just in case you were wondering.)
I’m an independent type that relies heavily on community. My interests fit that well. Writing songs is solo – performing songs is communal. Working on bikes -for me- is solo. Riding bikes is communal. Baking bread, solo. Braking bread, communal. I think there is the same sort of independent/communal dichotomy to the Vanagon as well. I was hoping to jump into the communal aspect without the independent time. But it looks like the new dream is learning how to replace head gaskets. Or more accurately, learning what and where the head gasket is. Then we’ll dream of replacing it. Same with CV joints and starters. It might get into some body repair too.
Admittedly I’m bummed that it’s going to take this much time and energy to get out there and join the community. As much as I love (and this is not sarcasm) riding down sloppy snowy streets with my guitar on my xtracyle, today is one of those days a second car would be nice.
So we spend some time alone in the garage, or with a notebook and pen, or flour salt oil sugar yeast, or in bed, and we work on these dreams and join the community.
On second thought maybe its not such a dichotomy – maybe there’s more overlap then I realize. Maybe the community of vanagon forums will allow my independence to thrive. Just as listeners and neighbors and family allow me to write, tinker, and bake. Dichotomy was the wrong word. I’m not so sure you can separate the individual from the community that succinctly. It’s way more messy than that.
Coincidentally, based on the Vanagon community’s input, so is replacing head gaskets.
The First One Hundred
listening to bottle rockets brand new year. back home from ringing in the new year with wife, brother, kjel, amy, and a lot of neighbors at skinners… one time my brother in law said you know you’ve had too much to drink when you lose your ations – innunciations, pronunciations, etc… so driving home a song came on the radio and i say, ‘is this death cab for cutie?’ and my brother says, ‘i was wondering the same thing with all of that over innunciation.’ and being still headlong into this joyous christmas tide i thought he said over-annunciation which lead to the two of us yelling with perfect innunciation things like, ‘an angel came to the town of nazareth, to a woman whose name was mary…’ and so on and soon it led to the converse and we pondered under annunciation. ’so some celestial being came to this lady and was like a kid will be born, god, probably you’re going to be the mom, but whatev, city of dave, blah blah blah…’no segue.so in 2010 i will be fitter, thinner, eat less crap, drink less booze, play more guitar, finish the basement, set up my pedal steel, be a patient dad, supportive husband, role model to underprivileged kids everywhere, do more laundry, don’t do more laundry (my wife hates it when i dry stuff that’s not supposed to be dried and she has to buy it again – though i say if you can’t dry it don’t buy it – but no one listens to me), be more listened to, write more letters, cuddle more kittens, be nice to the nice guys and mean to the mean in my dreams, stand up to the evil el guapo, tell my family i love them, (i just told my family i love them so i can check that off pronto) celebrate my accomplishments, appreciate my brother for not being a dj but rather for being an electronic musician (not that he’s electronic but his music often depends on alternating current) (but that doesn’t make it alternative, that makes it electronic), use moisturizing lotion to get rid of the obnoxious dry skin back itch that i often have in mn during the winter of my discontent (are you wearing a doily?) make shorter more manageable lists, keep it chill, keep it tight, keep it real, keep it real tight and chill, give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now, blog more, spend less time blogging, buy sensible shoes, spend more time logging, log less, unless it’s sustainable logging, help someone who needs help by finding a helpful person to help them in a helpful sustainable way, go on vacation and not feel like the most relaxing and fulfilling thing i can do is work, cop out on vacation and do relaxing and fulfilling things that i love and sometimes get paid for (work for instance), stop contradicting myself in my futile underread blogs, congratulate those who actually make it through my nonsensical rantings, stop basing my self worth on the basis of comments, come to grips with the fact that my mom e-mails me with the preface, ‘i was going to comment on your blog, but it’s probably not cool that you’re mom comments on your blog more than anyone else so i thought i’d just e-mail you,’ write my mom more often so that my blog is not our number one means of communication, write shorter blogs, know when a good ending line is present and claim it, listen to more bottle rockets, and of course there’s more but i’m already intimidated and giving up at the monstrosity of this list, and chances are you quit reading lines and lines ago because it’s boring and chances are you didn’t even read that line because you gave up lines and lines ago because it’s boring and chances are…
I’m not anti technology but it drives me nuts all the same. I hate being advertised to. I hate commercials. I hate billboards blocking my view of farmland and trees and blue sky. My obvious bias is that technology is just one big marketing tool. A distraction. A couple weeks ago a Sunday ad for blackberries or netbooks or some such appendage boasted, €œTotal Freedom! Always Be Connected!€ And I thought to myself, €œHow is that freedom?€ If a prisoner is shackled securely the only person free is the guard. Sorry that was a bit overstated, but really, who wants to be connected all the time?
1,2,3, Not it.
I have a habit of disconnecting. Maybe too much so. For practical and economic reasons my wife and I have cell phones and no land line. I turn mine off at the point in the day that I don’t want to be bothered. Usually between 6 or 7. I don’t think this is unreasonable. The (perceived) problem is that I sometimes forget to turn it back on. Usually I remember by mid afternoon the next day, but on occasion it’s been 2 or 3 days.
And I have yet to miss an important call.
A few months ago we moved into a new house. We haven’t decided what to do about cable/internet stuff. We used to have basic cable because it made our internet package cheaper. And since our TV is older than our children (by about 10 years) cable allowed us to watch TV post digital broadcasting. So now, in this new house, we are internet and TV free. Actually, my wife picks up our old signal still (an advantage of only moving across the alley) and we still bust out DVD’s for Saturday morning cartoons, so it’s not like we’ve gone 100% hippy, but still it’s been a change. For the better. Generally I’ve found that quality of life increases in the absence of technology.
I grew up with bed time stories. I have great memories of laying in bed and my Mom reading Chronicles of Narnia to me and my brother while I fought to stay awake. I don’t remember watching TV as a kid. I mean, I watched it, but there are no memories attached to it. And in fact now that I think about the only TV memory I have is falling in love with MacGyver as a fifth grader, which is funny considering the thing I loved about MacGyver was his instinct to eschew technology in favor of a knife and duct tape. So even as a fifth grader my use of TV was a bit subversive.
Granted, most of my formative viewing years were spent in a village in Liberia West Africa, so even though I was the desired audience I was a hard to reach target. Towards the end of our time in Liberia we had solar panels and 12 volt lights that we could use at night. Until that point we had kerosene lamps and candles at night. And that’s what we read our stories by.
Here in St. Paul we generally read stories by the light of a two foot christmas tree that our eldest rediscovered in the move. By putting it up in October Lydia actually beat Menards to the season, but only by a week. Anyway, Jodi or I lay next to the girls and read stories at night. We’re on book six of the Little House series, the Long Winter. I was never a big Little House fan, but I’ve kind of gotten into it. In fact, we all have to the point that even when only one parent is necessary for the bed time routine we generally both end up there for the story. I’ve even been tempted to read ahead during the day while Lydia’s at school.
During the long winter the Ingalls run out of kerosene for their lantern. It’s the part in the story where they’re existing in Minnesota in February in a wood shack with nothing but wheat flour to live on and hay to burn for fuel. I say ‘existing’ because it hardly seems like living. Were I the Pa at this point I would’ve wandered off into the snow never to be seen again. But what does fiddle playing Pa Ingalls do? Bemoans the fact that they had become so dependent on kerosene lamps and reminisces how much easier life was when they weren’t burdened by such technologies. Something tell me Pa rolled over in his grave when he found out his life was being made into a TV show.
These thoughts on technology have been on mind a lot lately. I’m thankful for technology €“ it’s not that I want to get all Amish on the world (okay, secretly I do, but let’s keep that a secret) €“ I’m thankful for this computer that I’m typing on that allows me to make a living as a writer and musician. I’m thankful for cars and electricity and power tools and paint sprayers and even on occasion cell phones. But I’m also wary. Not to be the eternal wet blanket but I can’t help but wonder how much of technology has become a distraction for me. How many times I’ve ignored my family to check out a new guitar pedal on line or all the time I spend coming up with blog ideas while my daughter wants me to make play-do cookies with her. Not an entirely hypothetical question.
There are broader distractions also. I’m reading What is the What by Dave Eggers. It’s the biography of a ‘Lost Boy’ from Sudan. I can’t help but wonder where the rest of the world was while this kid was wandering across the desert watching his friends die of starvation and disease as they fled their home for Ethiopia. Probably watching sit coms. Changing the oil on an ATV. Putting new pedals on a bike. Mowing the lawn. Updating their status. Writing a blog. I told you I was a wet blanket.
We could all turn off our TV’s. And our crackberries and our gps’s and whoknowswhatsits. It might not make a hill of beans difference. Or it might slow us down enough to see what’s going on around us. It might not stop a war, but it might make our homes more peaceful. It may not increase our world view, but maybe in a small hopeful way it will allow us to live in solidarity with our neighbors, past, present, and future.
Definition of A Good Day
Friday morning I woke up at 5:30 am. I put on my jeans, pearl snaps, and boots and drove to WI. The first song to come on the radio was Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road featuring Buddy Miller. I pulled into Super America to get some cash. They were out of cash, but I got free coffee because I brought my mug from home. Note to travelers: Always travel with a ceramic mug. You may get stopped by airport security, but that’s a small price to pay when everybody starts giving you free coffee.
I made it to a gas station off of 23 in WI where I met up with a guy from the Chippewa Falls area. I bought a pedal steel from him. And I got a freakin’ great deal on it! Then I drove back to St. Paul and got home around the time Lydia got on the bus for school.
Mid morning I took off to finish a writing project that I had started back in… October? It was a large project that I had admittedly grown a bit weary of, though I will say I was happy with the work I was turning in all along the way. Well at about 2pm I came home and sent in the final manuscript. It felt great.
Then I checked the mail and I had recieved comp copies of an earlier project I had been a part of. The Bible. That’s right kids, I wrote the Bible. (Are you starting to see why this was such a good day?) Actually the Bible that I had been a small part of was the new Spark Bible from Augsburg Fortress. I’ve done a lot of writing for Augsburg Fortress and I must say that this is the thing project I am most proud to be a part of so far. It’s an aesthetically pleasing, reader engaging format that every third – sixth grader should have.
For supper I made pizza. I love pizza.
After supper I put my guitar in the bike trailer and headed up the road to play at the Bean Factory with Jason, his djembe and his smile. It’s not everyday you get to play a gig with the president of Drummers for a Brighter America. We played songs we haven’t played in 7+ years! Including hits like ‘Our Better Days’ and TV’s and SUV’s (a song written before we owned a mini-van and I got hooked on LOST).
After the show Jason and Erin took my guitar and I raced them home. I love riding my bike and one of the best riding scenarios is a warm summer night and Friday’s unseasonable warmth hit the spot. Back at home Jodi had put the girls to bed and the four of us stayed up late with the finest Milwaukee, Chippewa Falls, and Ft. Collins has to offer.
Yep. It was a good day.
Next time I’ll get a gig in Pittsburgh and save you the drive!
Put Your Hands Up
Grandma = Babysitter. Jodi and I worked this equation the other night and went out on the town to the Walhalla Inn to catch a little live music. For a town of 1,100 to have live music on a Saturday night is fairly impressive. (Note: There will also be live music today at 2pm over at the Senior Center featuring the musical stylings of yours truly.) I’ll also note that it was packed. The guy playing did a great job. He played guitar and sang fun covers and some nice originals. One of Jodi’s friends from high school was telling Jodi how she enjoyed him. I had my back to the bar and was agreeing with her and saying that maybe now would be a good time to wave our cell phones in the air. Just as I was doing the motion of quickly raising my cell in the air Jodi’s drink arrived. From the bar. Which was behind me. I did not see it coming. But I felt it as my upward shooting hand connected firmly with the bottom of the glass. Messy and embarassing. This is why I’ve never actually raise my cell phone at concerts. That, and my phone only stays lit for all of 3 seconds. Open close open close open close. Not worth it.
I have a great cousin who grew up Lutheran, spent a few years as a practicing Heathen, then went soul searching in Montana, found God (who coincidentally had never lost my cousin) and emerged from Montana with what his charasmatic brothers and sisters would refer to as ‘zeal for the lord’ and a ‘longing to be in the Word’ it was like honey on his brain or something to that effect. I still (and I’m not mocking or joking or sarcasing) consider him one of the biggest faith influences in my life even though my faith practice and his faith practice look very different on Sunday morning.
In junior high this cousin came to visit us (he’s about 10 years older or so) in Seward NE. Sunday morning we went to St. Johns Lutheran Church where we went every Sunday morning. During the prayers of the people he started verbally agreeing with what was being said. Hallelujah, yes Jesus, Amen, Oh praise the Lord, etc… As an eighth grader this could have been kind of embarassing to be seen sitting next to the wacko mutterer of agreeance. But from my perspective it just made Church way more interesting. Way. In fact I tried it on for a while, though as a young confirmand all I could muster was an occasional and very quiet mmhmm. But I tried. Then the pastor must have hit on an item of praise that said cousin whole heartidly agreed with because out of nowhere both hands shot into the air and out came a louder than conversational volume, “YesPraiseYouJesusHallelujah!” At this point I abandoned all hopes of living up to his level of Zeal. Later I asked him about the whole outstretched arms things and he told me that he had decided (akin to his theological stance on choice) after his conversion in Montana that in his prayer and praise he could keep his hands down, do the half raised flat palms up thing, or dive right in and let loose with those arms. He figured if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right, hence the fully extended arms of praise to Jesus.
At our Christmas Eve service here in ND, where I’ve spent 2/3rds of my married Christmases, we recieved candles, as usual, and ended the service with a little Silent Night action. This is my favorite part of the service. Not just because it’s pretty and beautiful, and Halmarky, but because in my heart I am still twelve and I live in the expectant hope that someone’s overdone hair will go up in flames. You always hear stories of that happening but just once I want to witness it first hand. Just once.
As the pastor prepped everyone on correct lighting proceedures (ushers light end, tip the unlit candle etc.) he added “And of couse it’s our tradition to raise our candles when singing of the Christ child.” I looked at Jodi. What? When did this tradition start and where was it the last 7 times I was here? It was a little confusing too. How long do you hold it up? Just for the words ‘Holy Infant?’ Can you keep it up to the end of the line to sync it up with the music? What about ‘sleep in heavenly peace?’ Who’s sleeping? Jesus. So should we hold it up for that since Jesus is receiving the action? I needed an editor sitting beside me just to help me deduce when it was appropriate to hold up my candle. I had already spent two verses trying to figure out when and how long I should be raising my candle. Or, in this case, candles, plural. Jodi had traded her candle for a child in hopes that this child of ours would refrain from starting any fires. (So it’s her fault I never witness Aquanets’ flammable properties). So it’s verse three, I’ve got two candles and we hit ‘Son of God’ in the second line. My candles are up. It feels good. If it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right. I keep ‘em up. All these light refrences totally justify it. We’re singing. It’s dark. I’ve got candles in the air. It wasn’t a concious decision, they just start to sway. Slowly. Like I’m at a Michael W. Smith concert and he breaks into Emily.
It was beautiful. Until Jodi jabbed me in the side. ‘Put those down!’ in a hushed but firm tone. Apparently everyone else had already done this. I pulled them down. We blew them out. The moment was over. And Jodi has already informed me that next Christmas Eve, unlike this year, we will not be sitting in the front row.
For what it's worth.
At some point Lydia got ‘worthless’ and ‘worth it’ confused. So now on the rare occasion that she gets frusrated (that’s me writing sarcastically) she puts her hands against her temples and utters, “It’s worth it.” Our laughter generally doesn’t help the situation and she’s too much like her dad to admit that she wrong no matter how gently we mock/correct her.
Please don’t read too much into my crappy parenting, that’s not what this blog is about.
Last night I had a chance to hang out with my buddies Justin and Jonathan to get a little music business done. Justin has been exercising. I’m proud of Justin. Jodi has known this for days because she gets up to the second updates on all sorts of ephemera via spacebook, the chain letter of the future. Super valuable. Hearing that Justin is exercising is wonderful, not because I was in the least bit worried about his not exercising, but because it benefits me, and I look for that in all things. How does it benefit me? Inspiration, my friend, inspiration.
So I went running today. With new silver running shoes. A blog unto itself.
Then I rode my bike to get stamps and coffee. I ride my bike just about every day, but usually on short rides so I take out my Schwinn Suburban that my friend Deanna gave me. It’s an old beautiful bike, not really made for speed, though it has 5 of them. Jodi has a matching one with a basket. I really love these bikes and they’re great for going to music classes and church and the post office. Fun old bikes. But today I thought I’d take my road bike out. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s nice and I love it and I usually only take it out if I’m going more than 5 miles or up hills. Or both.
So I put on my pro riding gear (good will pants, socks that don’t stay up, flannel shirt, yellow jacket of inspiration, stocking cap that’s all stretched out, and 4 dollar safety goggles from Menards) and took off looking every bit the part of tour de zaster. I haven’t had time to go for a real ride in about a month or so and holy cow, I forgot how much I love this bike! And how fast and smooth it is. Someday I’ll live up to this bike’s potential.
I also forgot how freakin’ cold it was outside. By the time I got to the Post Office I was starting to wonder about the next leg of the journey, but as I pulled up to the bike rack I noticed a bit of graffiti on the side of the post office wall that read, “It’s worth it.”
Sentimental ending: Maybe this time I was the one that had gotten worthless and worth it confused.
Actual ending: Heck yeah!
Last night I went to see Lucinda Williams with my buddy Marty. Rather than do a concert review I’ll post an insight I came out of First Avenue with.
There are three things that get better with age:
1. My love for Jodi (I miss going to concerts with her.)
2. Buddy Miller’s yelp. (No he wasn’t there, but I was thinking about his work on Car Wheels and thought man, that guys got a heck of a yelp.)
3. Lucinda William’s growl. (no parenthetical necessary)