30 September, 2008

Filling in the blanks

I guess I neglected to tell you about the last two shows. I can do that now. But first I want to tell you about other stuff. Emotions. The last few days I have had an increasing feeling of fatigue. This has led to a lot of things. Decreased patience. Desire for solitude, which in turn led me to get my own room the last two nights, intolerance and perceived exaggeration of things which probably were amusing or at least innocuous a few days ago, and most of all, an overwhelming urge to just get home, leading me to spearhead the mission of us driving as far as we possibly could on these final gigless days.

I realize that was the longest sentence ever. But it sort of fits how I feel. My thoughts are confused. One long run on sentence. A week in a van with complete disconnect from the normal prongs of day to day life, and much of it starts to seem surreal or useless. I read email from work and I feel so remote from it. It is as if I am reading the work emails of a random person whom I have never met. There is hype and churn and all sorts of busy bee activity. And I don't as of now see how I can return to caring. I am sure I will. But which reality is "me"?

As we hurtle across terrain, the economic terrain is morphing. And it feels like a movie. Everything in government and news feels like a train wreck that we check in on each day, but then continue on, immune to all. But in about ten hours we will be back. Instead of being like some young rock and rollers touring the country for little more than bragging rights for having accomplished it, we will be back to being oldish people with day jobs who were willing to spend precious vacation time to play a part.

I don't think I learned as much as I would have hoped to learn on this trip. I did not explore as much as I should have. It is amazing and disconcerting, at the same time, that one can cover 5000 miles, and the biggest lessons learned were about internal states, and about the dynamics with and between myself and the three other people in the van.

I did learn that people are really the same everywhere you go. True, if you go to a truckstop in North Dakota, you will see a lot of middle Americans staring at you for being different. But that would be true of a truckstop in Washington just the same. But we don't go to that truckstop. But in the cities and the bars and the clubs and in the other bands, people are not really different at all.

Maybe midwestern people are a little nicer than those from either coast. Maybe.

As I have mentioned in about ten other blogs, I have become increasingly suspicious of my own perceptions. My own emotions and subjectivity seem to render all of them to be transient and only marginally useful.

I guess that is all that I can say here without delving into the personal.

-- Post From My iPhone

28 September, 2008

22 Chemicals @ Big V's

These are the cool people that we hung out with before the show. Good music too!

-- Post From My iPhone

Get me off this train to Saint Paul

Today is a weird day. Most likely it stems from having had only three hours of uneasy sleep. But it also is because tonight is our last show before being stuck with 1600 fruitless miles between us and home. I am feeling disconnected from the people I want to be near. And I am ready to be done with that. I would happily continue playing a show a night in Seattle, though that isn't going to happen.

I can't imagine three weeks in a van. There is more I could say about the close encounters of touring, and I know that this tiny experience I am having is truly unworthy of being called a tour. But it is the first time I have spent 4500 miles in a box with three other people. The closest I have come to that is 3200 miles with a cat. And that was no picnic either. Personalities really come into the foreground, be they feline or human.

I will pause here to post, and continue. I think I need to tell you about Dubuque still, don't I? I honestly can't remember.

-- Post From My iPhone

The Canfield Hotel

These are in the lobby. And they are not real, in case there was any doubt.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunshine? Or no sunshine?

I am in the Sunshine Family Restaurant in Dubuque. It is next door to the Canfield Hotel where we spent the night. This was the first "interesting" accommodation we have had. Holiday Inn was full. Canfield seems like the kind of place you might bring a prostitute or at least "the other woman".

There is no sunshine in Iowa this morning. And there is no sunshine in my head either. I guess I drank a lot, for me, which would be two beers and three tequilas in six hours. Enough for a slight headache. I had a measly three hours of uneasy dream-filled sleep, fueled by a duet of snoring chainsaws, a television in a neighboring room that was on all night, and the presence of a 6'3" drummer in the full-size bed with me. Needless to say, I ended up on the floor.

To be continued...

-- Post From My iPhone

27 September, 2008

Iowa feels blue

That is a portrait of JFK on the wall.

-- Post From My iPhone

A taste of the real rockstar life

Well, it is good to enjoy certain things when they happen, because they may only happen once. The problem is that you may not even notice when they are happening. And then the moment is gone.

The entire reason for this "tour" was to play the Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati. That is Jim's hometown and his close friend Dan was an organizer (the organizer?) for the event. It was a city-wide festival at dozens of clubs around town.

We were scheduled to play at the Aronoff which is a major venue with more than one stage. As I mentioned, Vince Gill was playing the mainstage at same time as our set. He actually ended up playing like three hours, extending before and after our set time.

I failed in my pseudo effort to get his autograph. But it turns out that Jim was hanging out with Vince Gill! Where the hell was I?

So the thing that was wild about this show was that we had a coordinator, Meredith, to assist us and provide for all of our needs and logistics. She met us at the curb when we arrived. And then two or three union guys came out to carry all of our gear! We didn't even know what to do with ourselves! It is strange having someone else do shit for you. Feel guilty and also a bit apprehensive about relinquishing control. Maybe I would not make a good rockstar because I don't like to delegate.

What we did NOT realize was that Meredith was there to give us WHATEVER we needed. And that would have included any variety or quantity of high quality liquor we could have imagined. How did we miss THAT memo?

So. They pampered us equally well during setup and sound check. We continued to have technical problems. Jim's amplifier - almost new - is presently dead. Last night we borrowed and had no problem. Not sure what will happen in Iowa tonight. And Jason had a horrible hum coming from his pedalboard. Fortunately we were able to figure out and resolve that one by replacing a power supply with 9V batteries.

Jim knew the sound guy. That was cool too. So the first band, The Rosehips, were from Columbus and they were all-girl alt-rock. They were okay. Musically pretty good but the vocals were weak, in my opinion. We all agreed their drummer was very cute, though I needed some convincing of this. I guess she was not my type. Too skinny, maybe?

We played second. I would estimate there between 125-150 people in a room a hair larger than The Crocodile. They were literally ALL AGES. Ranging from 6-7 year old children to teenagers to older folks, including Jim's mother-in-law!!

We really had just about our best show yet.

I watched a little bit of the next band, Say Hi (to your Mom), who are also from Seattle. They were pretty good but I got burned out on music and decided to go hang by myself first in the green room, and then outside, and play on my iPhone. I was getting tired. After the night ended with a fourth band, of whom I saw none, we had our gear loaded out, and then they decided to go to some other bars in downtown. I opted to chill in the van because I was not feeling like more noise and someone needed to stay in the van to watch our stuff.

We then drove across the state line to Kentucky to stay with Dan in his amazing remodeled/restored home, built in 1895!!

Did not sleep until past 4am. Did not wake until 11am. Ate bad food and am now feeling bloated and crappy. We have 360 miles to Dubuque. And who knows what awaits us?

I don't...

-- Post From My iPhone

Time is catching up with us

You can only stay up to 4am so many days before the time needs to be made up on the other end. Even Jim slept later this morning. And now it is noon and we are about 400 miles from Iowa. That does not bode well. So once again we need to hurry. And Jim has no bass amp and we have no way of contacting the agent or other band to arrange a backup.

Last night was definitely a trip. So let me start another entry and tell you about it.

-- Post From My iPhone

26 September, 2008

The Rosehips

Opening band.

-- Post From My iPhone

Via Vita, Cincinnati

This was originally just part of a "tour blog" but since people keep hitting this page when they search for the restaurant, I figured I should expand a little bit so you aren't disappointed. If you're interested in what "tour" I'm referring to, go here for our band's website.

Our band was touring from Seattle into the Midwest, and the "big show" on the tour was to be at the Midpoint Music Festival, in Cincinnati, because our lead singer originates from that city, and has close friends involved in coordinating the event.

Before the show, we had time for dinner downtown, and this restaurant - Via Vita - was recommended to us. This was a great restaurant, with a great atmosphere. The service staff were extremely polite and friendly, and even let us switch to a table twice the size, after ordering our food, because we realized that 2 more people were coming to join us. The pastas were all very rich, and tasty. You know... there's Italian food that just feels like a bunch of ingredients thrown together, and then there's Italian food that becomes something greater than the sum of its parts. Via Vita hits that latter target. The pizza also looked very good too.

I was a bit surprised to find such great food in Cincinnati. But that's partly because, coming from Boston originally, and living in Seattle, I have perhaps a distorted view of the Midwest as having nothing good to offer (with the possible exception of Chicago). Well, on this trip, we were proven wrong repeatedly. While it may be true that there are odd little diners, and truck-stop unpleasantries, there really are good options everywhere we went on this tour. Just depends if you have the tools to find out about them.

Excellent dining in Fountain Square downtown Cincinnati. Cavatelli. Yum. Now food coma. Friends here to see us including Craig's step brother. This feels good tonight.

The city is clean and attractive.

-- Post From My iPhone

Vince Gill

The country singer dude is here for a show on the same building and his dressing room is like right next to ours! We actually have a real dressing room and people carrying our gear and getting us shit.

And there is candy!

I am totally getting Vince Gill's autograph.

More later...

-- Post From My iPhone

More Craig

-- Post From My iPhone

Jason loosening up...

-- Post From My iPhone

Sound check @ midpoint music festival

-- Post From My iPhone


-- Post From My iPhone

Posting photos

I really want to be doing that!

-- Post From My iPhone

Thinking versus Feeling: continued again

The interesting thing about writing down thoughts and/or feelings is going back and reviewing them with the benefit of additional experience and history to color the interpretation. It is almost like archaeology of the mind-heart. Sometimes I have a hard time teasing apart insight from self-delusion.

I am starting to believe that the part of the mind that we call the heart is the only part worth heeding. Because every other type of mind output can be subject to rational deconstruction. But the heart is somewhat impervious to such things. We don't apply rules or codes to its output.

"the heart just wants what it wants"

I made a comment comparing romantic pursuits to either controlled descent as in a hang glider versus bungee jumping without a bungee cord. Well, I think that any illusion of controlling the heart is just that: an illusion. It may be true that we choose to love, but it is either going to be like a waterfall or like a salmon swimming upstream.

I have tried both, and it is always work. The difference is that one way the road is surrounded by safety nets, and the other way it is surrounded by butterflies.

I honestly have no idea what I am saying.


-- Post From My iPhone

Hell & Jesus are both real

I know this because it said it on a giant two-sided billboard in Indiana.

We are surrounded by corn fields, driving south on I65 headed to Cincinnati. It is already 80 degrees. We are discussing economics and speculating on what is going to happen next. Nobody knows. In reality, nobody knows even what will happen later today. If the economy were to collapse completely, and all of our jobs disintegrated overnight, maybe I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. Riding around in a van playing music and spending time with three guys that I love hanging out with. Talk about the simple life.

We are roladexing through doomsday scenarios while listening to Massive Attack.

WaMu is gone. Politics is being put on hold, for the sake of... Politics. What does Seattle look like without Washington Mutual? Does it matter? Well, for one thing, we will now be going to see concerts at the JP Morgan Chase Auditorium.

I never thought I'd actually see the FDIC in action. Always wondered what it was for!

Time to stop wondering. But what will happen when our government can no longer afford to finance the failures of the private sector?

Do we return to some type of corporate-backed neo-feudal system?

Stay tuned!

-- Post From My iPhone

They don't fuck around in Chicago!

Well we all knew that the real shit starts in Chicago. Bozeman was a respectable warmup. But the rock is here. The Abbey Pub, where we played tonight, is kickass. It is an Irish pub that is somewhere between Crocodile and Neumo's in size. Located in the Irving Park neighborhood.

High ceilings, large room with seating on main level and above, plus entire other rooms not attached to the stage room.

There was a fairly sizable basement where the bands can hang out. Chicago must have recently gone non-smoking which made the atmosphere much more pleasant than expected.

The food was decent. Actually after the horrifying lunch we all went for quesadilla or salad rather than burgers.

It as an interesting night right away because unbeknownst to us, it was the final championship of the citywide "rock, paper, scissors" competition. Can you believe they had a contest? With prizes!

We avoided that part of the evening.

The highlight was that we got to play with some great bands. Aloud was a trio from Boston who had excellent vocals, cool songs, and an iPod instead of a bass player. Very nice people too. Hoping they'll come to Seattle some time.

The last band was named Camera and they were a super-talented trio that sounded like The Cure.

Our first impression of the sound guy was not great, but it turned out me was just stressing because of the rock paper and scissors, and to be honest, I don't blame him!

So, the real fun began when we took the stage. First, Jim's bass amp won't come on. Standby is orange light. On is green light. Flip the switch? Light still orange. No bass amp. We lost about ten minutes on this and the sound guy was patient and helpful. Second issue? Loud buzzing noise coming from Jason's rig. That one was tolerable and unresolvable, so we lived with it.

With gear problems and all, we still kicked ass, and made it a great night of music all around, for the small crowd in attendance.

Too bad there were not more people.

The ended more bizarreness. A random Irish guy, very drunk, telling us about how he knows the neighborhood of Ballard and then he broke into Irish song. I wanted to escape but I was under the incorrect impression that be was the owner of the bar.

Then a couple of kooky girls wanted to offer us a place to stay, which sounded rather sketchy, and we escaped close to 3am, and drove far enough into Indiana to escape the madness.

And that is where I am writing to you now.

-- Post From My iPhone

25 September, 2008

Autocorrect and Typos

Please excuse all. Cannot edit entries after posting. And believe me, it is KILLING me!

I am pushing the iPhone to the limit in all ways. Only thing I have not tried yet is the shock test. Can an iPhone survive being tossed out the window of a van moving at 73mph?

Stay tuned.

-- Post From My iPhone

A & W and other ways to feel ill

Luck has run out, fueled partly by time running low. We can't search for good food. Need to eat what there is. And it has been a long time since I have eaten fast food. I cannot do this again! Note to self! Eat trail mix. Eat cheerios. Eat nothing. Just don't eat the pile of disgusting excuse for food.


We are almost on schedule and it has stopped raining. Almost in Wisconsin. Still comes down to Chicago traffic.

The terrain and foliage look not unlike New England. Meaning we are now in "The East". The West is behind us. There seem to be a lot of lakes in Minnesota. Go figure.

-- Post From My iPhone

Mitchell plus my mind

I really wanted to lay down in the back of the van atop the gear during the last hundred miles. That is where Jim sleeps and it is where Craig and Jason spend alternating shifts of the morning hours. But the thought of the owl or deer really made me nervous as I think it did everyone. Imagine no seatbelt, laying at head-level in back of the van. If we screech to a halt, whoever is back there would be jettisoned like a torpedo through the windshield!

Nonetheless, fatigue, boredom, and back pain eventually led me to play the odds of fate and sleep back there much of the final two hours last night. I cannot explain the logic.

It continues to rain and we have about 450 miles to go and 7 hours to drive them. If no traffic, it is possible. But. There will undoubtedly be traffic. Pause.

-- Post From My iPhone

Murdo to Mitchell

The few so-called towns we encountered seemed to have nothing. Was our luck finally running out?


No matches found. Desperation. Leads. Us. To.

The Rusty Spur.

A restaurant advertising charbroiled steaks. Why does this always sound like bad news when encountered in the middle of nowhere?the clientele were all looking at us funny, as we were the things that "did not look like the others". Our server was too young to drink (she said) but was wearing a wedding ring. The local beer on tap was called Shock Top or Talk or something like that.

But. The food was great! One of the best burgers I'd had in a long time. So our luck continued. Or perhaps our expectations have been lowered? It WAS a really good burger. I think...

So Craig took over driving and we went until almost midnight. All of us were worried about deer or owls crossing our path (the latter fear based on the previous tour). The destination of Mitchell seemed like an okay stopping point for the day. Pause.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sheridan to Murdo

Morning drive was fine. Time for lunch, everyone was pessimistic that we were in the land of shitty truck stop diners. But thanks Yelp! and my iPhone we located Java Moon, a sandwich shop in Sheridan, WY, that was reviewed as being "dare I say 'hip'" by one reviewer. And they were right! Sheridan is a cute town and this place had good food and a distinctly western feel. Toasted roast beef and cheddar. Very good.

I have pictures of us but I cannot share them with you because this application is not liking photos since the recent "update".

Don't you love software "updates"?

We pushed on and realized that our Sioux Falls goal was becoming unrealistic. Jason was now driving, into the darkness. Finally desperate for dinner we stopped in Murdo, SD. Pause.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday morning

We left Bozeman in the morning and hit a cool little breakfast place on the way out of town. I had a picture but of course cannot post it. Maybe I will try putting all pics in a separate post. The coffee was decent and we don't expect to find the likes of it again for many days.

Our intent was to make it to Sioux Falls. An optimistic goal of 800 miles to leave us with under 600 to Chicago today. I had suggested we go 94 through Fargo because Google said it was shorter than 90. But nobody believed me. Turns out 94 is shorter by about 75 miles. Not sure how but maybe because 90 dips south through Wyoming.

Which brings us to next topic. And a new post. Stay tuned for a moment.

-- Post From My iPhone

Bite sized pieces and no rich content

That is what you're gonna get. I don't think photos will post right now because of some network bullshit so it is text only. Sorry. Had good pictures too!

So. Here is the deal. We are blazing to Chicago from Mitchell, SD, home of the infamous Corn Palace. Fun times. It is raining and we may be late. Need to drive about 500 more miles with rain and eventually Chicago rush hour traffic to face. It is 10:30am and we need to be there around 6pm. You do the math.

Let me fill you in on yesterday. Hopefully you start reading from bottom up. Pause.

-- Post From My iPhone

From Nowhere to Eternity... Or Sioux Falls

This is my fourth attempt at posting this morning. Not sure if problem is connection or this phone application, but my spirit is almost broken.


-- Post From My iPhone

24 September, 2008

Bozeman: move your ass when the scary lady says so!

We made it to Bozeman with time to spare and without much drama to tell you about. As we rolled into town, we wanted to stop by the venue before eating dinner. After missing a turn in town, Craig was pulling into a side street to make a u-turn and as he did, a woman was trying to turn into that street. She was clearly not pleased with the van blocking her path, for all of three seconds, and as she passes us she rolls down her window, revealing her hag-like features and screams "move your ass!"

Welcome to Bozeman!

Fortunately everyone else was much nicer. Had dinner at a recommended place called mackenzie river pizza. Pretty good and inexpensive with very rustic décor. But the pizza was nothing to write home about (though I realize I am actually writing home about it).

Got to the club and the first band was a punk band from Milwaukee. Not that amusing but they were not horrible. They were called Bear Proof Suit. Okay.

For a Tuesday there was a decent crowd there. A bunch of what seemed like hippie Montana State University students. Mostly girls, many of them tatooed.

Second band was local and typical indie rock scene. They were The Salamanders, which is a terrible band name but they were fun to watch. They had some technical problems during their setup that caused delays but there was plenty of time.

We started around 11:45pm and played almost an hour. A lot of people stayed for us and they were friendly and seemed to like our songs. The most interesting part of the night was just as we started our last song. A tall, dark-haired girl came in and seemed to be into the music. She approached the stage and I assume she was going to dance or something. But instead, she fell on the stage, waist forward, and did a total face plant, knocking over Jim's beer. It was far from graceful, but somehow endearing. She then requested a double encore.

And how could we refuse?

Tomorrow will be 700+ miles of driving on our insane two day trek to Chicago. We are all a bit worried about making it there on time.

Now, sleep. Day 1 was a success.

-- Post From My iPhone

23 September, 2008

Moses Lake - not a place for espresso

Our first night on the road was showless. A connect the dots day. We departed Seattle at 9pm and rolled into Moses Lake just after midnight. For a moment it seemed we would not find accommodations but things turned out fine with a decent quality Best Western.

After some Maker's Mark and one or two other "relaxants" we fell asleep, ending day one of the "You Call That a Tour?" tour. Save for some loud sleeping it was a decent night of rest.

Using my phone as a guide, via Yelp, we found a breakfast place called Griffin's Bakery. From décor it looked highly promising, not unlike any cool Seattle breakfast place. And the food lived up to that expectation. Quiche and croissants that were very good.

But alas, there is apparently some loss of barista skill as you move away from the Left Coast. As I saw her making the Double Americano, I should have just stopped her! The "shots" consisted of like one tablespoon of espresso and an inch of coffee foam. I actually told her it was weak and asked if she could pour some out so I could get drip. But instead, she gave me TWO MORE shots. This brought it up to being about equivalent to a single Seattle Americano.

Lesson 1: always order drip

Jim said this but I didn't listen!

And poor Craig got the same thing as I did.

So we are back on I90 with 500 miles to Bozeman for our first show tonight. Beautiful day, and we are feeling fine.

-- Post From My iPhone

17 September, 2008

More about thoughts and feelings

Location: all in the mind
Mood: all in the mind

Do thinkers think too much? Do they (we) overanalyze to the point that all they're doing is integrating information and spitting out data? Do they (we) completely lack the capacity to simply close their (our) eyes, and allow things to "happen" as they may?

Do feelers not think enough? Do they run headlong into all sorts of perilous situations, because they're "following their heart"? Do they shoot first, ask questions later? Do they lack the capacity to rationally evaluate a situation, and then make a "selection" rather than acting impulsively, almost fatalistically, being steered through magical forces, into each new mess?

The problem with the Myers-Briggsian dichotomies is that nobody is all T or all F. We're all along a grayscale of variations, both situationally-dependent, as well as mood-dependent. And if you've got even a little bit of "the other" in you, then the textbook descriptions don't really work. If you were all T, you'd be like Commander Data. If you were all F... I don't know what you'd be! Maybe like Godzilla? It's harder to create a fictional character who is the complete opposite of "logical". And the reason, I think (thinker, that I am), is that we are thinking creatures.

So the difference between an archetypal T and an archetypal F may be that the F is less prone to governing their choices purely by logic and reason.

How much value is there in being able to identify someone's "type" anyway? Does it buy you much? It might help us to understand, but it might also lead us to stereotype.

15 September, 2008

Keeping it public

Location: blogosphere
Mood: well-defined boundaries

I shut off the private blog. Everything I am going to share in writing, I am going to share in writing *here*. It doesn't mean I am not *writing* in that private blog. It just means that I am not going to look for validation of every single internal thought and process that I experience. I do well enough at seeking validation verbally, in my day-to-day life! The reality is, the purpose of that blog was supposed to be for me to work through things, and have an archive of what I feel and why I feel it. A place to be honest, and to accept myself. But that's an internal process. And opening that up to the public results in others doing what I need to be doing for myself. And that's not only unnecessary, but possibly unhealthy, and perhaps even a little bit weird.

So. I wrote this so that if you try to click on that blog and get a "Permission Denied", you will know that "it's not you, it's me".

On with the public discourse.

13 September, 2008

Thinking versus feeling

Location: the mind
Mood: the heart

The problem with the brain is that it is often credited with being the place that holds thoughts, while "feelings" are attributed to other organs like the heart or the gut. But the reality is that our thoughts and feelings are both figments of the mind. Certainly different manifestations, but of the same basic origin. Perhaps we attribute conscious mental processing to "thought", and the unconscious or basal level "intuitions" as "feelings". But it's all in the mind. And that makes all of the proverbial discussions around following your heart or following your mind a little bit different, doesn't it? Because you're always following your mind. It's just a question of whether the courses of action you take derive from rational processing, or deep inspiration without clear rational justifications.

Think about that one for a little bit. I want to say more about it. But it's late.

The heart. The mind. One. The same.

09 September, 2008

Sarah Palin is Caribou Barbie

Location: the mind of a genius
Mood: watching from the outside

A good friend of mine has masterminded a brilliant website, and composed a hysterical, but sadly accurate depiction of our future Vice President.

Please check out this page, and then forward it to anyone else you know who might think it is interesting.

07 September, 2008

What is happiness?

Location: the psyche
Mood: just asking

If you ask people what they want most in life, I would bet that a lot of people will place "happiness" very high on their list. It's an easy one to use because it can be generally meant to imply any number of elements.

Or is it a cop-out answer? So obvious, that of course we all would answer it. Almost like answering the question:

Q: "What do you need to live?"
A: "Air"

Saying "happiness" is what we want in life is like a "null response" because it doesn't provide much more information than having not answered the question. I suppose it has a certain connotation to it, though. If you say you want money, or fame, or a family, or to travel the world, or to have lots of friends, or to create something beautiful, these are specific things that are much easier to comprehend.

But what does it mean to say "I just want to be happy"?

What is happiness?

My mother always used to say (and she did not coin this phrase, of course): "Happiness is not having everything you want; it's wanting everything you have". And I think Sheryl Crow managed to squeeze that into one of her songs ("Soak Up The Sun") back in 2001 or so.

Those are wise words. Of course, I twisted them around recently when I said that it is better to want what you don't have than to have what you don't want. I am not sure if that's the opposite of the old saying, or just a different angle on the same concept.

It's an elusive emotion though. Or is it even an emotion? Or just a state of being? We know when we're angry. We know when we're sad. We know when we're bored, tired, scared, anxious, hurt, enthusiastic, apprehensive, indifferent.

But what about happy?

I'd almost assert that happiness is the absence of all concrete negative states of being. I think we could agree that if you were experiencing zero negative emotion, you'd be happy. But I don't think that's a requirement. In fact, I would argue that you could be sad and be happy at the same time. Or am I confusing it with being "content"?

I want to make a list for you of what happiness is. But it almost defies definition. Which makes me wonder, perhaps happiness is simply a choice.

We choose to be happy.

Does that really help with its definition, though? If we choose to be happy, what exactly are we choosing? Circular logic going on here. Maybe happiness doesn't exist!

Maybe happiness really is "wanting what you have"?

Or perhaps "being content with what you have"?

I like that last one. Because it doesn't preclude feeling all sorts of other emotions, some of which might actually be negative, or at least, seemingly at odds with many "dictionary definitions" of happiness. But "being content with what you have" implies the following:
  • you are not longing for things you presently don't have
  • you value the things you presently do have
  • the fewer things you long for that you don't have, the happier you will be
  • the more things you value that you do have, the happier you will be
Okay. There it is.


And I am pretty happy right now.

04 September, 2008

Things Mick Wonders: The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Location: pavement
Mood: concerned

How is it that one shiny black dress shoe ends up on the side of the highway?

I guess the laws of entropy would predict that eventually, shoes will be distributed evenly throughout the universe. But it really seems to me that, acting against the force of entropy, is the fact that people are typically actively trying to keep shoes in pairs, and on their feet.

So this concerns me.

03 September, 2008


Location: deep inside
Mood: energized

I started off today feeling very bad. Not enough sleep, by a long shot. Had my pupils dilated at the eye doctor this morning, to the point that I was literally blinded the entire way to work, squinting like a lunatic, and terrified that I was going to have a wreck (could not find my sunglasses). Not to mention the fact that lack of sleep, plus a modest amount of red wine, plus pupil dilation, plus bright light does not equal "rosy disposition". Arrived at work, again landing in the same state of "am I going to panic about this coming deadline".

But as the day wore on, I never got the headache that I should have had. And I never crashed from lack of sleep like I might have done. And I never panicked and became ineffective like I could have allowed myself to do.

Instead, I began marching toward the goal. Getting it done. Moving forward. Pushing past all the emotions that are inside.

Everyone has a challenge, every day. But we are only privy to those challenges that rest on our own shoulders, and maybe those of our closest friends and family. But everyone has a reason why "today is gonna be a little bit tough". And you just have to push forward.

There's a lot about which I feel hopeful right now. And I am trying to see the setbacks, and the moments of sadness, as part of a process toward a goal - not some helpless flailing that is designed to pull me down. I could write about the seedy underbelly of those things that remain challenges. But I would rather write about the hope today. Because hope requires doing hard things. If you try to hope, but you don't do the hard things, then the hope dies. You need to keep it alive, like a very delicate flower, or a baby animal that requires constant hand-feeding. Because it's incredibly fragile. But it has the capacity to generate big things.

02 September, 2008

Mary Kay

Location: my twisted mind
Mood: subjective

Here is more proof that every message is subject to both the intent and the interpretation:

Bumper Sticker: "Mary Kay: Enriching Women's Lives"

My First Impression: "That's strange that there's a Mary Kay Letourneau bumper sticker..."