28 April, 2011

Kill your facebook

Today marks the end of the social networking experiment for me. Not that it was ever an experiment. It was just a huge time sink, into which I could dump countless hours of each day, with nothing to show for it. I don't think I could even estimate how much mental bandwidth I have actually spent there, because it doesn't often come in giant blocks. It's something that I would go to over and over, obsessively. And part of the reason that it has become so viral in my life was not just because of the main showroom that is my "wall," but because of other things that may not look like facebook, but actually are.

Examples: Scrabble, Bejeweled Blitz.

Who knows what other thing will occupy my mind, my check-out time, my available space. I really don't know. But it's not going to be the social network. I've heard of others getting out, and it has always sounded interesting and compelling to me. But then I think about what I'm going to miss. I think about the posts I won't be able to make, or the photos I won't be able to view at leisure. And then I go to the next level of absurdity, and think about my Scrabble rating! My Scrabble rating! Yes. As if that is a real "thing." And I know it's a bit hypocritical for me to talk about how it may not be a real thing, when only yesterday, I was pointing out how I didn't want to play nice with one of my opponents, because I didn't want to risk hurting my rating.

But that's just the point. My level of dissociation from reality has gone to the point that I buy my own lies.

There are many reasons why I shut it down. And I don't feel compelled to share them all here. One thing that does bother me is that facebook, which is honestly nobody I trust (the entity that is facebook, I mean), has the rights to my entire personal life. They know everything about me. It's all in their database. I told them everything. And then I spilled it all via emails, and wall posts, to people I know, and people I barely know. My inappropriate asides, through the years, are also probably captured in some fragment of the many billions of petabytes of data that facebook is sitting on.

I don't delude myself for one second that shutting down my account makes any of that go away. It's there. The damage is done. Facebook has the rights to my story. I clicked some checkbox somewhere that said it was okay for them to do whatever they wanted with the information. And why? Why do we check the checkbox? Because we want to see a cool feature, or see the results from some inane quiz that we took. Our momentary curiosity is our justification for signing it all away.

So, then, what good does it do for me to delete my account, if it's all out there already?

I don't know that it does any good for the integrity of my private factbook (not a typo). But it creates space in my present life to do things that are not plugged in to the Borg network. I don't know yet what I'll do with the time that I don't play Scrabble. I may write in here, and other places more. I may work more. I may listen to more podcasts, which I've recently taken a great liking to. I may play more music. I may sit and stare at nothing.

Who knows.

But I only know that I won't be contributing to the database.

24 April, 2011

Blogger with lost voice

Lately, I've been suffering from a feeling that nothing I could write is worth saying.

I recognize fully that this is not the first thing I want someone to see when they happen upon this blog, because it is not going to do much good for my readership. Perhaps this will be my way of boxing myself into writing more entries, to push this down the page, replacing it with insightful pithy observations about the world.

It's strange, because there are have been times in my life where I have not been writing, because I've been down, and have not felt like expressing myself. That hasn't been the case lately. If anything, life has been going very well. But it seems like the creative voice in me is muffled, or perhaps being smothered under a big fluffy pillow called "Life." And I have mixed feelings about what that means in the long run. Would I forever trade my creative self for a happy self? I'm conflicted.

In the last year, I've started three other blogs. Each of them came with the expectation that it was a new, "special" project. One that had a cause. One that I would diligently update. Because there was a cause, and there would be a readership. Great ideas, one and all. But I didn't stick with them. They're also sitting there, languishing. So now I feel like I've got four creative endeavors, instead of only one. All of them in stagnation.

Clearly the problem right now is an inner-critic problem. I've written entries that I've deleted or saved without posting. I've had ideas that later get dismissed as "not worthy."

I don't know whether to push forward with some "Blog-A-Day" rule for myself, hoping that sheer brute force will get me through this colossal writer's block. Or if I should accept that I'm not there right now, and wait. Because I don't want to write shitty blogs.

Something tells me I need to not worry about whether they're good or not. Just write.

Starting now.

Smash the guitars

It has been almost 10 months since the last time I stepped on a stage.

And in the time that has passed since, I've probably held a guitar in my hands for fewer total minutes than I did during just that last show alone, which happened to be a Marathon two-hour set on the back of a flatbed truck, in my final show with my former band.

What's happened to me musically in the aftermath could best be described as similar to when someone goes through a really bad breakup (though, oddly, I tend to recover/rebound from those quite readily). I have pretty much stopped feeling like a musician. And I am not sure I'll ever be again, if for no other reason than the psychological obstacles I've created for myself.

I had a good situation in my former band. It was essentially the fulfillment of my musical dreams. I couldn't have dreamed of doing more, because it would have been pipe dreams. But after doing it for two years, I have come to realize in retrospect, my commitment to the effort waned. In fact, it would be fairer to say that the commitment gradually eroded over the course of the second year, and culminated with my being let go after violating just about every rule you don't violate if you're trying to make people feel that you're part of the team.

I stopped hanging out with the guys after practices.
I stopped riding to shows in the van, instead driving separately.
I invited others (girlfriends) into the private circle of the band, at the expense of having band bonding time.
I stopped hanging out at the shows, opting to isolate myself and occupy my time until or after we played.
I was reluctant to take vacation time to travel with the band.
When I did travel with the band, I would often travel separately, meeting up with them, causing inconvenience.
I was routinely late for rehearsal.
I waffled on my commitments to the band, when those things were in competition with other commitments, such as relationships or work.

I left my bandmates to drive themselves home, intoxicated, when I was sober.

That last one hurts the most. And I am not even sure if I got "dinged" for it directly. I'm not sure that it was even one of the reasons for my dismissal. But when I did it (it was a show in Tacoma and I'd driven separately), I knew that it was the wrong thing to do. It felt like I was abandoning them. And I rationalized to myself that it wasn't my responsibility to drive them home because they didn't stay sober. But the fact is, it was my responsibility. Because I was a member of the band. Leaving, in a sense, meant that I was *not* a member of the band. That was maybe a week before the whole thing came to an end.

I really don't think anybody was keeping score on all of these things. In hindsight, I've had a lot of hours and months to add up this score, and realize my accountability for crafting the outcome which resulted. But I think the reason that things went as they did is because I just didn't have the desire to be as committed as one needs to be, to be in a band that's trying to get stuff done. In the end, I was "phoning it in." And I didn't even realize it, because I was more absorbed in the other things in my life. I did, however, know that phone-ins were one of the things that were least respected and least tolerated by the The-Band-Powers-That-Be, and rightfully so.

So now, I'm living my life, minus music. I own some fifteen guitars, and hardly play any of them. I've pretty much decided that I don't want to go back to playing in a band again, because I've been there, done that, and literally, got the t-shirt. Though, the largest reason why I don't see myself going back to it is that, once you've had a really good opportunity, such as the one I had, it would be hard to go back to some crappy bottom-tier band that would be lucky to get a show at the Blue Moon.

So the alternate plan was to try to pursue working on my own music. That's an avenue that has been barely traveled in my life, having only written a handful of songs, and a few dozen partially-completed ideas. It seems unlikely (though that's the problem with negative thinking) that I'll suddenly become prolific. Nonetheless, I decided to get myself set up for doing home recording, and purchased some reasonably-priced recording software. And then, did nothing with it. Will I ever? I don't know.

Part of me would rather just work on fun recording projects, without worrying much about writing songs. But then my inner critic gets going and tends to shut that down as well. All that leaves me sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, feeling like I should just sell all the gear. And the main reason I don't is because I'm sure I'd regret it, I don't need the money and, honestly, I just really like these guitars.