Thursday, February 24, 2011

You say you're happy, but does your face know that?

Thursdays generally tend to be my favorite day of the week. This is when i get to wake up a little later and head on down to the Georgia Straight office where i pick up a few bundles of their paper and deliver it to and around Granville Island. This takes about two and a half hours and then my day is freed up for whatever i choose to bring into it. On top of that i get to spend my "shift" outside which, weather permitting, can be lovely. It's a great way to spend my day and a nice jump from the routine of pulling shots at the shop four days of the week. I get paid well and in the last year that i have been doing this some very special people have come into my life. Seeing some of these smiling faces makes the job that much better and though i may not be forming lifelong friendships with these folks, those brief moments of appreciative recognition and stimulating conversation are enough to make my day. Whether it is the joy received from having something to read in a brief reprieve from the monotony of these peoples jobs or the possibility that someone "saw" them and put an ad in the I Saw Yous or even the familiar shiny face that comes around every Thursday to hand deliver their favorite publication, i seem to be in a role of bringing a certain happiness to peoples lives and i really enjoy it. I look forward to seeing Steve the bike fixer guy and recounting our week in whirlwind bullshit sessions. I look forward to seeing my favorite dog pal Buddha at my friend Sharpies gem store. I look forward to the shouts of Georgia Straight joy from the kids at the Hammock shop on the island. I look forward to spending a few minutes holding space with Loni at the art studio. I look forward to the myriad sweets in bowls on desks at the many offices i deliver to. I look forward to stepping into the incredibly high end wood-furniture store and dreaming about the day when I'll afford a $9,000 bed. I look forward to seeing all the pretty people, the B-line commuters or Granville artisans alike. Yes, these Thursday short shifts are usually very life affirming and i often think of how when i was 13 or so i delivered the Mission Times newspaper 2 times a week. We'd fill the back of my moms Volvo station wagon with hundreds of papers and I'd spend what seemed an eternity delivering to homes. It was thankless work that paid me $30 a month which at that age seemed a lot. Now I'm well into my adulthood and here i am delivering newspapers for fun and making really decent money to boot. 
 So what's with the title of this post? If I'm all shits and giggles, why the dripping sarcasm? Well, with all good and interesting things there comes a browner side that merits attention. As much as I'd like to only observe and revel in the happy parts of my favorite day, i can't help but notice things that make me a little sad. It's not much really, but it's enough for me to stop and give my head a shake. See, i have worked in the service industry for a long time now and i see a lot of people. When you're behind the counter or approaching a table there is usually an unspoken barrier between people and their state of mind. We can all be shitty to each other and i have had my fair share of bad interactions with clientele but whether you're serving or buying we all tend to fake it a little bit, despite our foulness. Out in public when the filters are down there is little to hide the pain in so many peoples faces or the shutting out of the real world through texting madly and shitty cell phone conversations. I wonder if some of these folks could see just how deep their grimace was, if they'd take evasive action to change it around. Yeah, sure, we all have bad days and we all go through rough and horrible spells, but i feel like i can tell the difference between heart pain and an unwillingness to engage with society by looking like a gargoyle on day 1 of the worst PMS ever. And these people aren't just sprinkled lightly in this city, they're EVERYWHERE! And they scare me. I saw a woman today in her massive white Escalade frothing and spitting and furrowing her brow because an old woman was crossing the a crosswalk. She honked for a solid 5 seconds while beating her hand on the steering wheel, eventually veering out into oncoming traffic almost hitting the old crosser and killing herself in the process? And for what? So she could get home to her shitty lonely lapdog life and online episodes of Glee? A hair appointment? Yogalates? I saw another young woman with a frown a mile wide get huffy and frustrated because someone dropped something in front of her while she was walking. She literally stomped her foot and exhaled audibly because SHE had to step around something, a whole half a second of her life, gone. Poor girl. Have a cookie, bitch. 
Then there are the few folks who have made up their own story about the guy who comes to deliver the Georgia Straight to their store every week. It's rare and after a year 95% of them have realized that there is far more substance there than the half retarded simp some of them decided to paint me as. But every once in a while i get some high falootin' richie-rich pull out their chalk board and spell out specific instructions as to where they'd like me to leave the paper and to not make eye contact if they happen to be dealing with a client. Well, it's not that extreme, but you know what i mean. Some people are self important jerks. But i shant let that get me down. These are simply observances that i can choose to let affect me. It's just kind of tough to see on such a beautiful day, surrounded by good food and awesome scenery. It just makes me wonder how some think it's better to have their head so far up their own ass when there is so much potential for joy all around them. Somehow i don't feel that a dark damp shitty hole is actually a better place, but then again it's been so long since I've been in a place where i was unaware of the choice. Bad moods happen, but for the love of shit, pick up your frown that's trailing 2-feet behind you before someone trips on it and gets wrapped up. Go look at the sea or a mountain or something. Have a cookie, bitch. 
Here's to laughs and better head spaces. Thank you i LOVE you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Showered in sound vibration

I thought I'd share some impressions with you about a concert i went to the other night. This wasn't meant to be a published piece or anything but i did feel this gig was affecting enough for me to want to spin some words. Here's what came out.                                                                                                 
Godspeed You! Black Emperor live @ the Vogue Wednesday Feb. 16th 2011
Okay, so this freehand concert reflection might take a bit of time to write because the spectacle I witnessed last night deserves the space to come to fruition in my head and heart. Godspeed You! Black Emperor was certainly not the “best” concert I have ever attended, but it was definitely one of the more interesting and intense shows I’ve been to. I’ll admit I knew I was getting myself into something special when I signed on for this, co-worker Fraser announcing one day almost half a year ago that he had bought a couple of tickets for this super-rare show by the Montreal post-spacefury rock outfit who never really tour all that much and haven’t released any new material in nearly ten years. I took the spare ticket all the while thinking how odd it was that I was committing to a band more than six months ahead of time and the band was one that I knew and admired but had never given much thought to seeing live before now. I know a good chunk of this bands music and I had an inkling of what they would throw forth in the live setting but there was really no reason for me to commit to music I felt only a passing connection to. For the most part some of this artsy drone-noise-crescendo-peak-chill-build-again music gets my dander up after a while and it’s totally not something I could sit and listen to for long periods of time while in my private moments. I appreciate it and I feel the power of monster riffs held for 20 minutes while drums go crazy, but like Latin and physiological studies, as beautiful as they might be, I feel no draw towards them and would rather leave them to be studied and dissected by the more eager. But something about the idea of this Godspeed You! Black Emperor show got me hopped up and I had a feeling it would knock my head around for a bit.Well friends, I was not wrong. 
 The evening began watching some young fellow who calls himself Total Life hunched over a bank of mixers and things making loud atonal noises that peaked and let loose and then turned into a somewhat passable form of dance music. It was interesting to walk into but after a half an hour I was ready for something more. There was meant to be a band onstage called Errors but apparently they never happened and so it was just electronics/mixers guy and Godspeed. So be it. Next it was time to pee and all the while I was gone I could hear this low tonal hum, like a bass guitar left near an amp but not in an annoying way. I felt soothed by the hum as I made small talk with the guy in the line about how it was the first time we’d ever been in a lineup for the guys can at an indoor gig. We were wieners at a sausage fest and we laughed and made nervous caveman-like dude gestures about this art music gig with a high volume of black shirt and beard wearing tough gutter punk anarchy steam-rave oddball folks. It was all kind of weird and exciting and surreal, us gathered under this roof to share in this unique live experience. The tension in the air was rich and I was honored to be a part of it. After about 20 minutes of the low tone hum that stoked the excitement in the air, Godspeed sauntered out and took their spots, building on the bass hum instrument by instrument, layer by layer. We staked our viewing location behind the sound booth, which proved to be the perfect place to get a full on experience. Downwind from the projectionist and directly behind the impressively busy girl doing sound we watched a band play selfishly amongst themselves while forever bathed in a light salmon hue cast on blue. No words were spoken and no acknowledgment was given to the crowd. This show was not about “hits” or favorite tracks or the perfect set list. This was about art in motion in unison with others, and in my opinion they pulled it off perfectly. Songs? You want songs? No, these aren’t really songs as much as they are movements of sound that build and become furious and intricate. The songs have names and I recognized a couple, but names of songs are hardly important when the draw is more about the music and movements. This is stormy music that hits like white light and can take you on a range of feelings from elation to exhaustion and back again. In the live setting these ‘songs’ happen while images are cast behind the band. Dreary black, white and faint off piss-yellow images of crows flying, sad cities, fields of grass blowing in the breeze, emergency lights and old fashioned cranes picking up scrap and throwing it onto bigger piles of scrap. Is this happy music and picture times? Hardly. Is it sad? No, not really. It is music that paints a bleak picture of hope. Hope that starts off as innocent and then flickers off into sketchy, eventually becoming a mix of tension, love, fury, ecstasy, fear, aggression and unrest. Songs grow wings of gossamer and take flight and just when you think the going is good the wings turn to scribbled on cardboard and barbed wire held together with airplane glue and pubic hair. It was odd and beautiful to watch happen and neither the crowd, projectionist, band nor sound tech would have been able to pull it off without the other. We were all a part of this magitragicomedy in movements whether we knew it or not. Each feeding the other and the other eating itself to feed the other, a perfect circle of fury and noise, pictures rendered and minds torn open, holes burned in film and explosions of images riding atop crests of sound waves. These massive intakes and outpourings of guitars, bass, violins, drums and samples of dialogue filled the walls of the Vogue and for stretches of time I was convinced that this was the beginning and end of all music, the white light at the end of the tunnel. A light that beckoned, so I followed and for an evening I was saved.
~Nathan Pike

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I need another bit because i chomped through the last one

 All day I've been hopped up in anticipation of getting creative, having to spend the better part of the day cooped up in the shop slinging lattes and making friendly. Sure it was fine and i made some scratch in the process but i needed to tap into this flow and to feel more alive doing it. Ever since last week when the gears started turning and the call for some serious life change rattled my heart and mind i have been flashing heavy on the routes i can take in order to move closer to my goals. Though goals might be a loose term for me right now as I'm not too sure what they all look like yet and i prefer a softer word such as 'intention'. Things are changing rapidly and what i thought i wanted 5 years ago is so different from what I am wanting now, and in fact 5 years ago I'm not even that sure i had any clear goals intact, so content have I been spinning the wheels in my own mucky muck that goals seemed like a distraction or something to "get to eventually". But then a growing creativity happened and things started moving more as a few people close to me offered some food for thought and reminded me of just how important it is to keep the brain active and heart excited. I'm now feeling hooked on creating the life i desire and it's exciting, new, exhilarating and a little bit scary. My growing distaste for accepting anything other than that which is juicy and vital is beginning to ripple outward, growing into a tsunami of lasting change. I don't know what it is going to look like in a few years from now but i do know that eking out a living 5 days a week in some soulless environment that leaves me feeling tired, frustrated and broke would be nothing more than utter defeat. This is not the plan God has for me and it is becoming more apparent by the day that I have a gift that must be exercised on the regular and i will do everything in my power to feed that call.
 But this can't all be about career change and finding financial freedom. There is balance to be had and i am fortunate enough to have folks in my life who will remind me of this at the drop of a hat. I am aware of the dangers of taking too much on, even when it's something that comes from the heart. You can burn out on it, and eventually like those crappy jobs we tend to enslave ourselves to, resentment grows and festers into infection. I did it with yoga instruction and I've done it in my relationships. It sucks and feels like slow death. Thankfully I have always managed to find myself surrounded by reminders that balance is key, whether it be quiet lessons learned in my asana practice or those vivacious friends who seem to have 20 amazing things on the go while still maintaining the ability to just chill and drink a beer on the front porch or watch a ridiculous movie without regard for the time. This is the place I'd like to be closer to. Full but not busy and allowing myself to be supported and rested when need be. There may be no time to waste but this is still not a race to get to the finish line, if there even is one.
 So I've been playing with a few ideas about how to better enrich my life while feeding this forward moving momentum. Can I share them with you? Yeah?? Thanks!
 * I have set an intention for myself to attend at least 1 music gig a week. This Winter i feel like I lost touch with what's happening in Vancouver's local music scene and I'd like nothing more than to support some of these hard working folks making music. I've leaned too heavily on the excuse that there are simply too many bands out there which is just fucking ridiculous. If the water is deep and warm then why not swim and submerge myself in it?? Oh, and if you know me personally and we tend to hang out from time to time then please don't hesitate to come along with me or suggest gigs we can go to. The company would be rad.
* I want to write like crazy. Here, Discorder, other magazines, in birthday cards. I don't care, i just want to write and get better as i go. I'd also like to expand my horizons by trying out other forms of writing such as fiction, movie reviews etc. And yes, if i happen to get a gig writing for some big publication where I'm not selling my soul then hell fucking yeah I'm going to "sell out". But don't think of it as selling out, think of it as me buying in, ok? Don't hate, jerk.
* Spending far less time on this trusty old computer playing garbage in garbage out. I am astounded at how quickly my life rolls by when I'm spending hours surfing for nothing. Sure, i have my regular hits that I might feel slightly uncomfortable without, but do i really need to spend that hour between yoga practice and work watching classic wrestling clips on the youtubes? I think not.
* Much more reading. Man, i really LOVE to read and always have. Apparently when i was a little guy i used to read the labels of soup cans. I've graduated to bigger periodicals by this point in life but i have noticed since my acquisition of a computer and internet that my reading time has gone down significantly. This upsets me a bit and though i seem to always have at least 3 books on the go it is taking me far longer to read them these days. So along with just taking the time to read every night when i can i have decided to join my lady in her book club starting next month. For those unaware, you meet at the end of each month and have a book assigned through consensus of the group. Then you read the shit out of it and at the next meeting you discuss what you read. So not only are you stimulating your bean through reading exciting new literature, you get to hang out with book nerds and talk about the stuff you read and the impact it had. I'm down and I'm doing it.
* Creating more elegant meals. Dude, my diet is the dogs balls. I eat on the go or take what's easy all the time and for the most part i feel crappy for it. I have tasted the money saved through having a fridge full of groceries and being able to make an awesome meal with my plunder. The crazy part is that i can cook like the dickens and sometimes amaze myself at the stuff i dream up with no recipe or idea in mind. I just have a knack for food alchemy but rely on easy street food and the shit i have at work for sustenance. Excuse me but sandwiches and hot dogs are NOT food. I live with 6 other people who cook fresh wholesome meals at least 5 days a week and there is little excuse for me to not follow suit. I feel like such shit after filling myself with bread and cheese and then instead of taking responsibility for myself i sit in wonder as to why i feel like i need a nap after 8 hours of sleep and an intense yoga practice in the morning. Laziness is so frighteningly easy and it's a shame that so much of our constant stimulation in the media applauds being a lazy chud with easy to microwave options within arms reach. Fuck Egg McMuffins™, i want duck confit with a white wine reduction and a side of organic steamed vegetables.
 * Saving money and practicing a bit of frugality. This is really a no brainer. I spend far too much of the little money i have on nothing of lasting value. This doesn't mean the denial of having fun and going without but it does mean refraining from spending that $25 on a meal i could have cooked at home and putting said money into savings for a trip or a great book or some nice clothes. Money can create such a prison-like state and I am SO tired of thoughts pertaining to how much money i have left and how long it will be until i get more of it. I will however take heart in the fact that i have NEVER held a credit card and have no desire to do so. Also, i am for the most part, debt free. No student loans, no massive bills, no money owed to the mafia. Just rent and utilities and that's pretty freeing. Someday soon i will experience total financial freedom where none of these money worries even enter my mind, but until then i need to do the work in order to get there and that includes not being a money-dummy.
  So yeah, these are a few of my recent wish fulfillment thoughts. I don't think they're at all unreasonable, and in fact they are totally available to me RIGHT NOW! This is the beauty of intention setting. There's nobody there to tell you how or why you should do anything for any reason. It's yours and yours only. You can set your goals to be as big or small as you feel capable of committing to and the only person you can blame for your failure to do so is yourself. What could be more freeing than that? 
So what are your goals and/or intentions my friends? What are you going to do to change your life and mind? Share in the comments below, and in the meantime take a lesson from these cool cats.....
Thank you i love you! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Building a better mouse trap

Finally! I've been waiting for this moment when inspiration takes hold and allows me to dump some words into the electronic ether. I sometimes fear that I'll run out of things to say or that I'll just lose steam and eventually abandon this model of communicating/gut spilling. But that old familiar feeling of pressure in the chest began to grow yesterday and i knew something was coming up. It's not entirely certain what I'd like to share today but I have an idea. It's been a full few weeks and I've been somewhat busy occupying myself with work/magazine stuff and friends and shows and girlfriend canoodling. All stuff that deserves a word or two but you know how it is, we live and we get caught up in stuff, In our heads and otherwise until it's time to spill it.

 Near the end of January I was lucky enough to "attend" a show by one of my favorite bands. One of my closest friends bought me a ticket to see Ween and believe me, it was a "thing to do before i die" kind of experience to have, being that friend Nate Z and i have been fans of this band for nearly 20 years. Many a good time has been spent going off on their tunes and over the years their sheer musical ridiculousness has become part of our friend repertoire, smoking weed and listening to Pollo Asado, laughing like a couple of school children until our belly's tapped out. And so it was with great excitement that we finally got the chance to see the band live. I was pumped, i was ready and i was even commissioned to write the review for the show, gaining an extra ticket in which i gave to my lovely Britt as she too is a fan. Well as fate would have it i got a little too amped up because i drank my damned face off. Way too much and way too fast. 4 songs in it was clear that i had fucked up as the Orpheum started spinning and everyone around me resembled alien-like static forms of their true selves. Then came the vomit and soon i was home. Good job Nathan, but on the same note a good job goes to Gene Ween for being equally as fucked and train wrecking all over the place making for what some would call a disappointment of a night. Though i didn't miss a technically amazing show due to Geners over indulgence i still missed an experience that i would loved to have shared with my people while in a better head space. If anything my disappointment lies there and ends there. But as things usually go there is a positive to be had within the mess of vomit and next day head-aches. I managed to pull off a pretty confident piece of writing about this show that i missed and as well i also was reminded of just how much i LOVE my fantastic girlfriend Britt. Without skipping a beat the girl was hoisting me out to the lobby and taking good care of me, ordering staff around to get me napkins and glasses of water which i drank and promptly puked back up. She took me home and nurtured me into bed where she lay with me until dawn when I had to get up for work. She was awesome and gave me more reason to believe beyond a shadow that she is a keeper to the end, not that there was any doubt. But sometimes it takes being in a vulnerable position where your partner takes care of you when you realize just how lucky you are. I am extremely fortunate to have her in my life.
                                           I love her a lot. My Britt.
 This was also a time of many birthdays. My friend and co-worker Vanessa, my father and my room-mate Erica all celebrated another spin and the celebrations we had for both Erica and Vanessa featured some of the most rousing versions of Happy Birthday that i have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Singing loud, strong and proud with excellent friends who love the shit out of each other filled my heart with a joy that continues to resonate like an echo working overtime. This is the spice of life, these friendships and relationships that we keep and the things we do to make them stronger. To think that i spent even a second playing the victim, hiding out from grand experiences for fear of looking like a nerd or not fitting in, at times even in my own home. No more.
  My magazine stuff started up again in January and none too soon. Though i was occupying myself pretty well with this blog writing i was beginning to miss spinning words about music. But the Winter break was good for me and i noticed that because i spent time writing from a free-hand different perspective my magazine work got tighter and more effective. Through writing i became a better writer. Something has changed and i like it. This morning i Facebook posted a CD review that i felt pretty proud of and the feedback so far has been amazing. In a few short hours my post has made its way to band members, PR folks, family and friends as far as Montreal and I'm just sitting here kind of aghast. I mean, in my eyes it's really nothing. Some band made a record that resonated and i wrote the words that came from my gut and heart. It took little effort aside from that yet I'm being applauded for offering up what a couple have said is the best they've seen from me yet. I guess it still kind of amazes me, this stuff that i do. To say i feel humbled is an understatement. I mean yeah, I might be bragging a little bit, but i think I've earned the privilege of a pat on the back from time to time. I love what i do and i guess it's showing. I'm just so happy that i can offer these words in trade for hearing some of the mind numbingly awesome art these people have to share. Without them I'd have little to write about aside from my earthly existence and goings on which some of you deem worthy of reading about, and i thank you for that. Seriously. It means the world to me.

 So I've been thinking about some stuff over the last couple of days, taking stock and putting into perspective the elements that keep me interested and make life worth living. The tales I have told above are in part to do with this as well as a few recent bits that have gotten me to pondering. 
I have made no secret about the appreciation i have for my friends, family and home. Every day there are moments that open me up and give me reason to keep going strong. Even when i am at my shittiest i can count on at least one ingredient that makes the whole mess taste gourmet. Doubling over with laughter as i work shifts with Vanessa or Lyndsay, 2 girls that i LOVE to make laugh and who aren't afraid of my sometimes very crude and very random humor. Staying up past 1AM with my roomie Shawn Luco, playing games, drinking vodka and watching you tube vids when i should be in bed with an early start ahead. Walking up to my Britt's apartment and seeing her working away at her craft table, her shock of red dreads and white alabaster skin giving me a charge in the heart and grin on the mouth. Did i mention that i am totally fucking in LOVE with that girl? Well it's true, i am. Hanging out with my folks and Nate Z on dads birthday sharing laughs, food and togetherness. Working a job i really really love with and for people i really really love. Writing. Fucking. Feeling ultimately free spirited. These are things that keep me feeling rich and young and happy. 
But there is more to it than that. There is more freedom and more happiness to be had. Though i enjoy my job it is SO not what i want to be doing in the long run. Slinging lattes and delivering the Straight at 45 is not my ideal and i refuse to accept that reality. Making just enough money to pay my way through life and maybe save up for a trip once in a while is SO not what i see as my ideal, as lovely and easy as it feels at present. I'm 36 and am now just discovering what makes me tick happily. I am working that and following the direction of its forward momentum and that's all fine and good. But i want more.
I choose more.
I am lucky to have some incredible forces in my life that remind me of the human potential almost every day and it is because of them that i have been thinking about stuff. 
The wheels really started spinning yesterday when pally Nate Z posted this.....
I love this guy a lot and haven't a scant of doubt that he's well on his way to the life he deserves and wishes to have. This video resonated with me on many levels and i think it's the simplicity of it all. Happiness and success are so easy to reach for. The only thing that makes it hard is calling the work 'hard'. As a result i have chosen to enrich my life even more by tapping into the sources that feed and bring me joy. Even if i don't make my millions by lifes end i will have lived fully, which is SO much more than can be said for a lot of people out there. Of course, making shit loads of cash doing what i love to do will be nice as well. When i have a family of my own I certainly want to be able to provide both a stable heart and home for them. Kind of like this guy and his family....
I love these people a lot. I don't even know them personally but have watched in their daily video blogs as they've gone from working mundane jobs to living very comfortably in a short amount of time, doing what makes them happy. For over a year i have felt kind of like a side stage witness to their life put online for the world to see, their wonderful marriage and well adjusted children acting as a model for so many. If i could have a life half as active and laughter filled as this guy, i would call myself a success. I am honored to "know" them. I am thrilled to watch as they grow. A million plus viewers can't be wrong, right?
And I am so fortunate to have a woman in my life who reminds me of the simple pleasures. Her crafty ways and ability to vibrate with happiness so easily keeps me on my toes and in my heart. She loves building things out of fabric, yarn and paper and the lives she touches are forever altered. She is filled with life and love and if i could be half as joyous as she can be over a half knit stocking then my easy passage through life is imminent.
These folks, experiences and more have given me so much reason to live longer, push harder and to be stronger. I have spent way too much time lamenting about my losses and about stupid shit like rainy days and lost objects. I won't say life is too short, because i don't really think it is. But i do think it's too precious to waste on being a victim and ignoring the simple call toward happy living. It's really not that hard. I am discovering this more all the time.
And with that i bid you a good night and much happy joy hunting.
                                           As always...thank you....