Sunday, September 29, 2013

rock and family

Rock and roll can bring families together.

After years of failing to be a guitar player in a band, I found myself, one whirlwind weekend about four years ago, in a band.  Then we played out, and I became a performing musician. We played shows for a while before (almost as the punch line to a song) the drummer moved away and the band broke up. Then I joined another band, suffered through a lineup change which ultimately improved everything, recorded and released an album, and has played out of town gigs. Then I started a solo career. Eventually, I will scam some musicians into helping record my own solo project. In addition to all this, I now even have a side project.

Playing music has always been a release for me.  When I started playing in bands, it became deeper than just releasing tension.  Playing out was even better.  When I started doing solo shows, I began to be able to articulate what music did for me:  it made me calm, gave me confidence, minimized my mental issues, and made me feel more complete, both as a person and as an artist.

Today, I discovered another added benefit.

I was starting to get my stuff together for side project practice, when my daughter came up to me and asked (as only she could) "Wanna play?"  I gently explained to her that while I would love to play, I had band practice and had to go play rock and roll.  She looked at me and almost pleadingly said "I wanna go rock and roll with you ."

Rock and roll might not be able to save the world, but it definitely can melt your heart

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

on past lives

If the terribly clich├ęd quote "Just when I thought I was out, they keep dragging me back in" was ever relevant in my life, it seems that it is more so now than ever.

My biggest challenge over the last three years has been to accept that I am never going to be a scholar in any meaningful (and certainly not in any professional) way.  I have had to realize that writing and publishing papers is never going to be my vocation.  This was particularly tough, as I had thought of myself since at least 1994 as first an academic-in-training and then as an academic proper.  It was who I thought I was. It was who I wanted to be. 

I sacrificed so much for this dream:  a comfortable life, a career, a personal life, friends, free time,  my dreams of being a musician, a writer, a normal person. Yeah, I know...it sounds like I'm being melodramatic, but really, to get as far as I did--specifically because I came from a no-name college and made it through a doctoral program--I pretty much had to lock myself to my computer desk so I could research and write. I read everything I could, teaching myself most critical theories from scratch.  My summers were writing for well over a decade.  Hell, when I was set up on a blind date with the wonderful woman who would eventually marry me and become the mother to my daughter, I tried to beg off because I had work to do

But eventually, I came to accept the major change in my life...into another life, really. After several years, anti-depressants, a cathartic music career, and much self-guided therapy, I finally accepted not becoming an academic.  Gradually, my interest in my past life faded. Now?  Honestly, my lack of faith in a future for academics is only surpassed by my lack of really caring.  I really never think about scholarship. While ideas still keep me up at night, they are decidedly not academic.  I would rather think about my daughter, my wife, my solo career, my band, my mandolin, whatever the last book I read happened to be (yes! I read for fun again!). Anything but arguments where no one will hear my voice, my contribution.

So what have I been doing lately instead of blogging? Reviewing book proposals. Rewriting a paper. Generally having to exercise the parts of my brain that I quite happily have abandoned.

The worst part? Realizing that the frequently-mentioned Paper That Wouldn't Die was actually pretty good...and so was I at this academic game. Ah well...that as a lifetime ago.