Thursday, January 29, 2015

killing office hours

Once upon a time, I used to have a perfectly fine office computer. Then, when my kid was about to be born and I was preparing for daddy leave (yes, there are aspects of my job which do rock...just not the four years without a cost of living adjustment), I got a message that they were upgrading my machine.

Yes, normally this would be a good thing. However, after a year, I realized that my new office computer sucked. As time wore on, it got slower and slower. Programs and plugins would randomly freeze and crash. By last Fall, it got to the point where it would take ten minutes to log in and open my mail program and web browser. Need to print off a lesson plan? Add on another ten minutes to open my word processor and send the document to my printer. To call this aggravating would be an understatement.

Yesterday, they took my computer to be re-imaged. I assume this involves a paint stripper, wire brush, and spray paint. I did take care to back up everything on the (as it turns out) my lesson plan for my morning class. I was able to fake my way through the day's class session, however. Chalk one up to experience and an ability to improvise/con people.

I'm now sitting in my office, looking at the empty space on my desk where my computer should be. As I started to type this out on my phone, I tried to figure out what I actually did in office hours during the several occasions when I had no department machine in whatever passed for my office. Then I realized that I was either madly trying (as a grad student) to finish class readings, (as an ABD) to scratch out time to write my dissertation, or (as a part-timer) to teach myself the random discipline in which I had to teach a class in a few hours.

Right now, all I have are shelves of books I've already read and a phone to keep me company...and my battery can't last forever. I can't grade, because all my stuff is on that computer I don't have. I might be able to write some song lyrics, but all my notes are at home. And I simply don't have it in me to play with my shelf of Lego mini figures. In short, I have no way to kill time.

Man, I really gotta stash a guitar in here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

writers write

I'm at Howards for my weekly writing session. Actually, I would love it if it actually were weekly. This is the first time I've actually made it out here this the best I'm really hoping for is that I don't just spend the whole night knocking off the cobwebs and actually produce something. Time will tell, though

Sometimes when I come here, it's with a firm agenda. On the good days, an idea has wormed its way into my head, and I can't keep my head from spitting out possibilities all day...and when I get here, the ideas explode onto the paper. But writing relies an awful lot on muscle memory, and I haven't been writing songs as of that ain't going to be the case tonight.

Instead, all I really bring with me are two fragments. The first came to me in the middle of the night about three weeks I grabbed the first thing I could find (a business card for a sadly defunct music store) and wrote down "spend all my time with animals--robots and mechanicals--dreaming of who someday I may be." What I was going to do with this, however, is a bit of a mystery...but it's evocative enough to where I'll figure out something eventually. I also have "maybe you'll stay if you still believe in love." This one, however, is less certain.

I did wake up yesterday with a damn-near complete heavy honkytonk song from a dream. It was pretty bleedin' good, but the chorus ended with the line "loving you is like a shotgun to the face." I couldn't bring myself to write this one down, though. The world has enough misogynistic murder ballads already without me adding to the toll.

The only thing I know I absolutely need to do is rewrite my song "Rise Above." It's about having a friend who has shut off his brain to the point where he's ruined his very real potential and is well on the way to becoming just plain ignorant. Draft one went, after two verse/chorus combos and a bridge, into a list of all the ways this person (and, by extension, the world) was turning into a particular brand of narrow-mindedness which was driving me crazy.

I really liked this version, but two things happened. The first time I played it, a few people make a joking "We Didn't Start the Fire" reference. Sigh. Also, it was friggin' exhausting to sing. So I gave it a normal third verse. Only problem? The normal third verse made the whole song feel normal. Double sigh.

So will I get any traction on "Rise Above?" Will I figure out what to do with either of the fragments I do have? Dunno. But I do know the only way to find out is to sit and do the work. There is only one truth in writing: writers write. That is what they do.

Time to become a writer again.

clearing clutter

A week or so ago, I was sitting in my office. It was too close to class time to actually start on any project yet far away enough where I had time to kill. So, in lieu of even attempting to do anything productive, I decided instead to merely contemplate my surroundings.

Of course, no such task ever ends up staying in the land of innocence.

A relatively new colleague once commented that he wanted his office to obtain the look of mine. My natural response was to tell him to never throw anything away and just collect silly things. Granted, I have my share nof those in this office. My calendar for this year is Superheroes and Faires. This replaces last year's,which featured robots and donuts, which replaced one of retro advertising for trips around the solar system, which replaced a long line of bunny suicide calendars.I have a wall of fame containing flyers from all my bands (save my new one, which keeps getting added to shows at the last minute and doesn't make the flyers). I have a large collection of lego minifigs and some other toys. I have a ceramic lucky cat (as seen in Asian grocers). I also have a fairly random collection of art.

I noticed then that I had a large collection of scholarly books...and, from the point of my colleague's assertion onward, I started to think about why I had so much of my old scholarship. Yeah, I'm glad that I have this space to store the books rather than trying to wedge them into an already-crowded apartment, but that alone wasn't enough. The old excuse of someday needing it no longer held up, as I am quite sure I have no desire to do any more academic writing. I already work hard enough for little to no compensation in my life. Maybe they were here for memories? But the last thing I need are reminders of the career goals I never achieved, of the papers I never had a chance to write. Sentimentality is one thing, but of a life you had to leave behind due to your own failures, whether your fault or not? Not the wisest idea.

So, last week, I decided to start cutting down the office book collection. I took two bags of books to our local coffee shop/used book place last week. Today, I didn't have a class until 3:30, so instead of immediately jumping into grading, I decided to start attacking the clutter. In short notice, I trashed seven cans of paper, journals, magazines, and articles to be recycled. I found a massive folder of overhead projector sheets (I've taught in some pretty ugly and low tech rooms). I packed a few bags full of books and sorted through the rest, whittling down eleven shelves down to the three I'm still going to keep (although I'm not set on these ones).

It's an almost indescribable feeling. It's like I'm throwing out my past. But more than my past, it's my former hopes and dreams that are going in the recycling bin. I pick up a folder and remember the grandiose plan I had for this subject. I pick up another stack of papers only to remember the grad school class where I took those notes. I delve into the bookshelves, only to find whole schools of thought which became dead ends or were never pursued in the first place.

There's a lot of this which is definitely cathartic. No doubt that, with more time and increased perspective, it will become more so. And I can definitely use the space. However, the task does bring a hint of sadness. I saw the tenure track faculty member who was hired the same time as I in the hallway, and my irrational disdain for him and his position in life started to rear its ugly head...but only for a minute before I clamped that sucker down.

Perspective can, at times, be a mean mistress. Oh well. It will get better.

my Onion Horoscope 1/27

In case you were wondering, yes, this is going to be a regular thing.
"Expect little change from last week, aside from the marauding badgers growing rudimentary thumbs and learning to use chipped flint tools."

Monday, January 26, 2015

a vegetarian recap

It's been a little over five months since I mostly quit eating meat. The only real lapses were some sausage at Thanksgiving and some prime rib at Christmas, and they both made me feel pretty sluggish. I have had a few fish sandwiches, and I had fish & chips this weekend, but those are just fine; fish isn't a trigger for either my pseudo-gout or a contributor to kidney stones. I'd actually feel free eating a lot more of it, but I do live in Ohio. Fresh seafood is a rarity.

For a pretty big lifestyle change, you might think it would be a struggle to start and to maintain. Yet it's been pretty easy throughout. I have, however, learned a few things in the process:
  • I've had to move up two belt I'm clearly shrinking. Strangely enough, though, the scale still says I'm as gargantuan as always. I've gotta figure this out.
  • I have, for the most part, avoided meat substitutes. I don't wanna become a crypto-carnivore. However, I've had great luck subbing tempeh for ground beef and tofu for chicken in some old stand-by recipes. I've also discovered a very good veggie chorizo and am experimenting with a veggie andouille (both from Tofurky). So I've had to give up very few of my old dishes. Still no good options for getting my BLT on, however.
  • When I'm adapting any old recipe, I've found out that soy sauce is a magic ingredient. Missing the meat sensation? Dribble in some soy, and you're there. It did wonders for the red beans & rice I currently got simmering.
  • I've had to subtly shape my eating out away from anywhere where the veggie option is either a salad or grilled cheese.
  • I'm now much more able to pick up chemicals and additives in my food. I always used to like McDonald's french fries. The last time I tried some, they tasted dreadful, like they had been bathed in lukewarm grease and iron shavings.
  • I'm realizing how much many places rely on meat to overcome low quality vegetable purchases. My favorite pizza place? Remove the meat, and the food just doesn't taste all that good.
I still haven't adopted the holier-than-thou "you're still eating formerly living things? You should be morally pure like me" attitude...and I hope I never do.

the best quote you will read today

"Many years ago, I worked as an intern at The Daily Show. It was among the happiest achievements of my young life to that point. I was more than a bit star-struck to be in a space among so many people I respected and admit to being tongue-tied and feeling unworthy in such company. One afternoon, Stephen Colbert came in to the office. His show was about to premiere so he hadn’t spent much time in our studio. As he walked past me at my cubicle, he stopped and said, “You’re a new face, what’s your name?” I didn’t know what to really say, so I replied, “Oh, I’m just an intern.”

Colbert looked at me a moment and then said: “Just an intern? Hey, look, everybody starts somewhere. I was just an understudy at one point, but that’s just a point in time. It’s not about where you are now, or even where you hope to go, it’s who you are that matters. I’m Stephen, who are you?” I introduced myself and we shook hands. “Don’t let your place in the world dictate who you are to anyone. We all have the same merit.” Then he was gone, but his words lingered."

This is from a pretty awesome article about The Colbert Report and religion, which is also a recommended read.

coffee time

Some people, when they go to the coffee shop, play chess, study, or be artistic. But that's not how I roll:

Yeah, I'm nowhere near as productive as the young college types. Yeah, I don't get the chance to hone my Mahjong game. And yes, the little seats at the kiddie's table my daughter insists we share are not really all that comfortable for someone of my density. Doesn't matter. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Except when the dolls are sticky. That's kinda gross.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

career goals

Don't get me wrong. I love my job, and I especially love the freedom it gives me, freedom to play music, freedom to be with my daughter. However, there are times where I'm forced to agree with this comic.

But let's face it: I'd never be able to keep my narcissism in check if I were rich.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

my Onion Horoscope, 1/20

"Mars rising in your sign indicates you are something of a coward, mostly because of the way you keep flinching at it."

out of illness comes insight

I've been battling a cold for a little while now. It had been a mildly annoying state at the beginning of last week, mostly sinus drip giving me a sore throat. Then I started teaching this week, and after my Tuesday of three classes, my throat was a bit more sore. Then I had band practice, and I had problems hitting all the notes. A Wednesday band practice, Thursday teaching, and Thursday band practice left me fearing my voice would give out either on my band Midwest Tourist's Friday show or on my solo (with backing band) show Saturday.

But I made it through. When I left the festival we were playing on Saturday, I felt drained and sore. It didn't get any better on Sunday, and on Monday, I generally felt like I had been beaten up. This meant that I spent most of the last few days sitting around, not doing much at all save watching television. Specifically, I went on YouTube and went on a Muppet Show binge (how is this not streaming legally? C'mon, guys). And as far as recovery material, you couldn't ask for anything better. The show is more brilliant, more manic, and more wonderful than I could recall, and if it didn't lift me physically, it certainly did spiritually.

Somewhere buried in the marathon was the Harry Belafonte episode. This contained the most wonderful piece, one which I now believe everyone in the world needs to see, one which, if people were forced to watch it and think on what they just experienced, the world would be a better place:

...and nothing else needs to be said.

Monday, January 19, 2015

an option!

Vegetarians: I haven't been one of your number for long, but I feel your pain, particularly when dining out. I now can't eat at some of my former favorite restaurants. I too now get peeved whenever the vegetarian option is grilled cheese or a salad. I too hate being charged the same amount for a dish when the meat has been replaced by a single stinking' bell pepper.

So it is with great joy that I report that Chipotle now has an awesome vegetarian option: the sofritas burrito. It is a shredded tofu braised in a chili pepper mixture. It's quite yummy, and it's the kind of food that omnivores would like without reservation. Highly recommended.

Note: I am not a paid endorser of Chipotle and am receiving no compensation from them for this review. I am, however, completely open to such a relationship. I would be an excellent shill. In fact, unless you're a company which tortures animals, is run by Tea Partiers, or sells karaoke or auto tune technology, I will sell out on your behalf.

Please, please, please let me sell out for you!!!!

the perils of edginess

I have already expressed my appreciation for Cracked. Since their transition from Mad ripoff to internet humor site, they have gotten much deeper in terms of content...albeit still with juvenile humor on top. Personally, I generally don't have a problem with that.
However, sometimes it gets in the way of a surprisingly good point. Take this article, for instance. I couldn't agree with it more...and I would love to pass it on to everyone. My mother, however, would not be amused. I might even get slapped.
Man, how do the truly edgy do what they do and still face their mommies?

The Antidepressants

Every so often, I feel the need to rock.

I've been in a number of hard rock bands. The first one up here broke up when the drummer moved out of the state. The next one broke up when the singer decided to focus on his other band. The last rock band broke up when the singer decided "to quit music forever" (his words). I miss all these.

Sure, I play plenty of music now. Yet however awesome my alt-country/alt-rock band might be, there's nary distortion to be found. And yes, I get plenty of opportunities to play singer-songwriter, but emotively whining while strumming an acoustic ain't matter how much kazoo I might insert into the mix.

There's just something about hitting a chord on a distorted guitar, something powerful, something cathartic, something satisfying, something essential, something primal. It's the act of striking metal, which leads to the resulting vibrations being turned into electrons, then bent and twisted through effects, then amplified and distorted inside glowing vacuum tubes, then thrust through magnets and paper back into the realm of vibrations, so they can smack you clear in your chest. Add a band, and magic can happen.

A friend was talking with a local musician who was familiar with my stuff from open mic nights, and said musician said I would be even better with a band. This was not exactly breaking news for me, but assembling a band can be a vexing and confounding process. Issue one is that everyone in the world seems to be a guitarist, but the other instruments are more scarce. Then one has to try and combine differing schedules, differing tastes, differing attitudes towards music in general. And music is such that it tends to be deeply emotional...and thus tends to amplify any possible conflicts. Friendships can be severely damaged in the process...and I know this intently, as I lost one of my best friends after playing in a band together.

I have actually succeeded once in assembling a backing band...making the act TheMikeDuBose and the Antidepressants. Then the bassist backed out, so I had to move the drummer to bass and recruit another drummer. Then we played a festival, and even though we had a good set, no one was there to see us. And did I mention that the other guitarist was the singer in my other band, the one who broke up the band by quitting music forever? And this kind of caused my backing band to disintegrate as well.

In December, I managed to get booked to play a festival, and I decided it would be fun to assemble a backing band for the occasion. After a few false starts, I managed to get a power trio together. After the second practice went well, my rhythm section said they would be open to doing shows every other month. Then my sometimes trombonist was able to join us for the set...and it was magnificent. We were much tighter than we had any right to be, and we sounded good. I think the rest of the band agreed, because we started to make actual plans. So The Antidepressants 2.0 are officially on the scene. And I think we went over well; not only did we get plenty of complements, but I sold some CDs, and we did get asked to play the bar regular's birthday bash.

I have rock and roll back in my life. Everything is awesome.

Friday, January 16, 2015

I got this

Today, many things happened. I had three good classes. My daughter called me and her mom her "friends," the local cookie delivery place brought my favorite cookies (the Darth Vader: chocolate cookie with raspberry sauce) I had a great practice, my drummer and bassist agreed to be my regular band, I got to see my favorite local band with many friends, and one of my favorite drummer told me my beard smelt delicious. Generally? Coolness.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

on empathy and cheap internet thrills

As a kid, I had a few issues of Mad Magazine, but I actually much preferred Cracked. Yeah, I know most people would argue this is like preferring White Castle to a good gourmet burger bar, but I've always had an appreciation for cheap tastes. I had (as many would tell) drank much more swill beer than micro-brews...that is, when I used to drink.

Cracked magazine is no more, but the name lives on in a pretty amusing comedy web site. And I have to admit, it's part of my daily routine of "I don't want to think just yet" web viewing. The other day, I ran across an article called "5 Things No One Tells You About the First Year of Parenthood" (why are these always in lists? Well, at least this one didn't mention someone winning or destroying the internet. End of old guy rant). Being a parent type, I could most certainly relate.

For those of you who weren't here with me, the first year of my daughter's life was not the most pleasant. She was not a happy baby, and there would be days where she was pretty much either screaming at me or napping. Then we hit the eight month mark, and she calmed down...and, since that day, has just been getting more and more fun. But I do still have the memories/scars.

Overall, it was a pretty good list that covered most of my revelations. It missed, however, the most important one: exactly how deep the emotional bond becomes. I will swear to this day that I could physically feel her emotions. When she would laugh, I could feel it in my chest. When she would scream, I could definitely feel that much less pleasant feeling in my chest. It didn't just grip part of my consciousness or subconscious; it yanked them both on the way to physically ripping and twisting me. This is what made the "I'm going to scream every waking minute" days that much more painful, because I (to some extent) literally felt her pain.

Nothing in my experience prepared me for this...and it has, quite frankly, awoken a little bit of a mystical side in me. I have a deeper connection to my daughter than I would've expected possible. I not only empathize, I share her ups and downs on a higher level. And, in my most reflective moments, I wonder if we, as a species should have this same level of hyper-empathy with all other humans. Will we ever develop it? I don't know, but I bet if we did, it would make us a more worthy race.

Or maybe I'm just some alien emotion-sucking vampire. 50/50 call, really.

the most wonderful thing you will see today

Every so often, you run across something so interesting, so unusual, so completely off the wall, that you have to scratch your head and reexamine your basic outlook on life. For me, it came when I saw this:

Now I'm desperately trying to figure out how I can teach this. There's so much I can talk about. Also: I must share the weirdness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

seeking my own level

If it's true that there's a Chinese curse that says "may you live in interesting times," then today would be a great day to test it...because it was certainly interesting.

I had one class with only four students. I had one new class (the struggle over which I have chronicled over the past few days) where I didn't get my roll until an hour before and didn't get my class website until three hours after. I had massive traffic on the ride home.

I had two band practices. In the first, I couldn't figure out why my new amplifier had lost most of its tone and volume...until I realized I plugged my foot switch into the external speaker jack. Tie that in with bashing my guitar against my mic stand hard enough to knock the whole thing out of tune and having my guitar fall off its strap, and that practice didn't go as planned. For the second practice, my voice (after three classes and another practice) started to squeak and squawk...and by the time I started to head home, I was feeling close to defeated.

Then I finally get home, and both couches had two stuffed animals tucked under blankets. There was another stuffed animal under a blankie on the ottoman...and another on the floor. So I moved a few and finally got to sit down. That was all it took to level out the day...although the Linda Ronstadt episode of The Muppet show helps as well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

my Onion horoscope

I love The Onion, but I particularly love their horoscopes. Today's entry:
If you somehow magically had the chance to do it all over again, you'd do everything in your power to make her happy. You don't, though, because that's not the way it works.

Monday, January 12, 2015

a view further down the road

Earlier, I half-panic posted about last minute class changes. Well, the view a bit later is slightly rosier...and definitely more Kafka-esque.

As it turns out, I can just copy the stuff from my cancelled class over to my new class. Last year, I decided to make some changes to my Comp II class. Our college teaches three different ones, and rather than have three different preps ready to go, I decided (quite wisely, it turns out) to find one plan which would work for all three different Comp IIs. The class that got cancelled was an Honors course (I've been teaching there this year in addition to in English), but they told me they were fine with recycling. So I've been making my Honors classes the same as my Comp classes. Voila, change the name, add different "official/required/department guidelines) on the syllabus, and I'm done.


When I was finally able to get to the computer today, I checked my official schedule...and they have me teaching a completely different section of the Comp II than does the department. Not only that, but their version starts at 8am and has no one enrolled in it. I'm sure this is a simple mistake, but unless it gets fixed, I'm not going to be able to print off a roll tomorrow.

So I checked our course management system (the truly evil Blackboard), and they didn't have any section of Comp II available for me. This means I can't upload my students will be without anything. This ain't a problem for day one, but if they can't get it fixed by the start of class, I then have the difficulty of scheduling day two without knowing if the students will be able to read anything before class.

Ah, uncertainty. At this point, I find the great middle finger the world apparently is pointing at me to be more funny than anything else.

A two-fer? But it's not even Tuesday...

The semester starts tomorrow for me. So, how is everything going?

First, my throat is sore this morning. Possibility of starting the semester with a cold? Oh, joy.

Next, I am of course not completely finished with class prep due to child illness last week. About an hour and a half ago, I get an e-mail from my boss letting me know one of my classes just got canceled and replaced with a different course...and wouldn't you know it, but the canceled class was the first one I finished instead of the unfinished class. Joy. I just love last minute work.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

today's question

The elliptical is an exercise machine. Waterboarding is a CIA-applied torture technique. What are the odds they were created by the same person?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

dwell on the positives

I'm at Howard's, at a punk show. The very awesome TroubleGiant is playing later...and they are friends, so that's a bonus. I'm not a big fan of the current band, and save those TroubleGianters, I have no friends here. There are exponentially more people here than for my last gig. On top of that, it's also about 40 degrees in the band side.

But that's okay. My favorite bartender is here, and she's making "ow" s after each song. Plus I firmly believe live music is good for the soul.

Friday, January 09, 2015

novel disappointment

While at the gym, I came up with an idea for a sci-fi novel. It's about a man whose life isn't working out for him. He lives a highly compartmentalized existence but still is only barely coping. Then the aliens come and fracture his life, shunting each of his compartmentalized existences into its own time stream. So now instead of living one life with lots of failing parts, he's now living every part as a separate life...and they are all still individually going wrong. The only thing is, our protagonist is, in every existence, the only one aware of this multifaceted reality...and of the aliens.

You can gather two things from this synopsis: what kind of mood I'm in and what working out does to my brain.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

this is my life

My daughter is having cheezits for her snack. She asked if she could eat them out of her thermos. When I asked why, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "to keep them warm."

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

war, passive/aggressive style

One of the many unique features of apartment living is the ability to get into petty squabbles with one's neighbors. And like most conflict, the level of investment is surprisingly huge simply because the stakes are low.

My particular antagonist is my next door neighbor. She's approximately 137 years old. When I first started moving into this building, I did my best to be as nice to her as I could. That's when I found out that she had been living at this complex pretty much since it opened around 50 years ago. I thought at first we got along just fine. However, as the loading and unboxing continued, I realized that what I mistook for friendly neighbor behavior was closer to "know your enemy."

One day, she pointed out a mark on the wall. She did the same thing the next day. And the next day. I was as gracious as I could be at first, but when she kept doing this after I had finished loading in, I began to get a little peeved. Then I had a washing machine overflow on me, and she immediately set in on telling me exactly what I did wrong and how I was supposed to do things...basically treating me as if I had never done laundry before. She then snooped around, just waiting for me to do something she didn't like, so she could tell (never ask) me to do it different, and so she could call the office to complain.

At first, I spent a lot of energy trying to figure out why this woman didn't seem to like me. At first, I thought it might be because she met me in the summer and thought I was unemployed. Then I thought maybe she stereotyped me based on my tattoos. Then I came to the conclusion that she was just a bitter old crone.

Later, I got confirmation. One day, when I went to the office to pay rent, I did tell them that contrary to what they might've heard, I am a good tenant, and I am not actively trying to destroy everything they own and stand for. The office manager just said, "apartment xxx?," shook her head, and told me I wasn't the first to receive such treatment...and not to worry about it. A while later, my wife was talking to a a guy from the complex maintenance staff, who told her that my antagonist used to stand out on her balcony, and, when she saw kids playing incorrectly on the playground across the parking lot, blow on a whistle before yelling at said kids. He also referred to my antagonist as "The Gila Monster." It's nice to know you're not the only one.

I know it is, in the end, all rather silly. It's been a great source of humor between my wife and me, including (and not limited to) jokes on my end about the appropriateness of wishing for someone's death. Yeah, it's tasteless, but I'm not really all that serious about this conflict in the first place. Really, I find it both silly and sad.

Except there are times. Lately, whenever I shower, I have at least one (but usually more) instances of freezing-to scalding-to freezing water temp...and I can't help but picture her sitting in her apartment, hearing the sound of my shower, and running to the sink to turn on the hot, then the cold, and then the hot. And it's in these moments where that dark part of me feels like hunting down my copy of Sun Tzu to find something to gain the advantage.

It might be a stupid war. Still, I would rather win it than lose.

binary oppositions

I've been thinking a lot about duality lately. As a good teacher, I always make the class examine models of thought, so discussions of binary oppositions are de rigueur. But lately, it's been hitting really close to home.

My daughter has (another) cold. For those of you childless, this means that she has to stay home from daycare so she doesn't infect other kiddies. Yet we still have to pay for the daycare she's not attending. To make matters more interesting, this is the week before my semester I'm supposed to be spending the days prepping syllabi, sorting out schedules, getting readings in line, and populating my class web sites. I can't do any of these when my girl is home. So, every night this week, I chain myself to my study desk until sometime after 11pm.

Now, this means that all my normal nighttime plans are thoroughly out the window. This is yet another week where I can't go to Howard's to write (and I have two or three songs in my head, in addition to discarding ideas that I know I cannot get to). This taxes me. And, instead of winding down from the day, my nights are now spent working, planning, scheming...which means that the idea of getting to sleep before 2am is now also out the window. Even with the brain drugs, my head just won't shut off on command...and it's hard to sleep when one's frontal cortex (or whatever) won't stop strategizing.

On the other hand, I had an unexpected day with my girl...and sorry to turn into doting father here, but she amazes me with how wonderful she is. She's kind and caring, and I'm convinced she has more capacity for empathy than most of my undergrads. And she is also hilarious. Nine times out of ten, an "I love you" will elicit a raspberry for a response. Today, she told me (unbidden) "I love you." Touched, I responded with "I love you too, honey." She then said "I don't love you when you're not here."

Rim shot.

The funny thing here is that my mood isn't trapped between these two points: aggravated work panic and melted heart love. No, it's ricocheting back and forth between the two points. While I hate binary oppositions, I can't escape personally being trapped at one extreme or another.

Second example: after one expensive car repair for my wife and one looming whopper of a repair on my car, my wive's wheels start acting up. She pulls into our parking lot Friday after work, and her car is smoking. The mechanic looks at it Monday and gives an estimate which isn't far off  my two week paycheck. I start off with the bemused humor of "of course, life is doing this to us right when we start to plan to buy a house. Why should we expect any different?" And I stay in pretty good humor about it, right up until the time when I, without warning, fling over to "holy hell, more money we don't have/we'll never get out of debt/we'll never get our own house/I'll never be able to retire/I'll leave my child gobs of debt/you fill in the depressing thought." And since, I'm always at one of the two extremes. It's almost as if the middle ground doesn't exist.

I'm a postmodern man tied to binary brain chemistry.

Friday, January 02, 2015


Having come to the realization that our current financial situation is untenable, we have decided we have to make some cutbacks. While our existence will by no means become spartan, there will be changes. First among them is shopping at the discount store. I went there today, and I bought (among other things) store brand toilet paper...make that discount store brand toilet paper.
So, if you run into me on the street and I am walking bowlegged, now you know why.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

1/2/15 show notes

I have a show tomorrow night. It is another last-minute affair...I only got the gig on Monday. The smart thing to do would be to recycle an old set list...or, barring that, fill my set with stuff I know like the back of my hand.

But did I do any of that smart or easy stuff? Of course not. I'm doing a completely different set than my December show. I'm doing two songs I've only done once and don't even fully know yet. To make things worse, I'm also bringing in my banjo and some effect pedals.

Sometimes I suspect I might just hate myself just a little.

depressive realizations

After suffering a disappointment, Annie Savoy said "A woman should be so strong, she's not affected by such things."

This sums up one of the worst things they don't tell you about depression. It's not so much the psychological sense of dread or the physical aches, as bad as they are. But the idea that the depression fit was probably triggered by something minor? Something that shouldn't be so big of a deal to cause such a mental and physical shutdown? That is often worse.

What is truly horrible, though, is knowing that depression is a disease rather than a mental obstacle to be overcame, that even the feelings of inadequacy themselves are just more functions of said disease. This, my friend, will truly kick you in the ass.

Annie Savoy didn't know the half of it.

rethinking the social

Sometimes the best way to learn something is to dive in headfirst and see where it leads you. I guess you could call it immersive learning. This was the approach I initially took with social media.

I started on MySpace first...back when people used to actually use it as a social media platform. To me, it seemed like a more modern AOL. Every service it provided could be found elsewhere, and in a much better platform. The only real thing I noticed is that a few ex-girlfriends contacted me for the obligatory "Oh my gawd, I was thinking of you and wondered how your life turned out" conversation. We would exchange four or five messages, and then I would never hear back from her. I wasn't sure what the promise of social media was supposed to be, but I knew MySpace didn't seem to fulfill any type of promise at all (other than to annoy me).

I briefly joined Friendster only to find that it was populated exclusively by 13 year olds and thus was useless for my purposes. Facebook, which at the time was for university people only, seemed a better fit, one which surely be less frivolous than MySpace. Little did I know that Facebook would open itself up to the world and descend into silliness. When I started to become bombarded with Farmville requests and the like, I knew Facebook's days were (for me, anyway) numbered.

I joined Twitter on the recommendation of a friend. I liked it immediately... It was much less frilly than Facebook, and I found the user group to be more prone to intelligent conversation...or being intelligently silly, which was equally good. So I set my Twitter feed to automatically post to Facebook and concentrate on the former. However, as I had more friends on Facebook, I had to still interact with each site.

Along the way, G+ and Ello popped up, but while I liked each better than the other options, neither had enough of a user base to let me escape Facebook (whose interface, games, quizzes, and other ephemera made it an increasingly annoying place). So I was still stuck regularly visiting a place which annoyed me.

A few months ago, I noticed another drawback. I realized that I had been abandoning my longer writing. Actually, I've known this for a while, and I have made several attempts to restart my blogging...but it wasn't until recently when I realized my social media was to blame. Instead of thinking things over before writing, I was blasting off quick tweets. I was focusing on editing for clarity and brevity rather than exploring my thoughts. Convenience was beating out introspection (which was one of the main reasons I started the blog in the first place). Not only that; I've also found myself spending way too much time on social media, time which could be spent creatively...and its not like the social media made me any more social in the first place.

So it's time for a change. A few weeks ago, I bought my own domain ( and tied it to my blog. I set up the blog to automatically post to Twitter (which then automatically posts to Facebook anyway). I redesigned the blog to be more of a "one stop TheMikeDuBose stop." And I starting transitioning from tweeting back to writing.

So this is how this is going to work. I'm now posting my musings as blogs rather than social media blasts. You will still be able to get them via Twitter or Facebook if you wish. I'm going to cut down on my Twitter and Facebook visits, so if you want to interact with any kind of expediency, either hit the comments here or e-mail/text me. Stuff on my music will still go through Reverbnation and then to Facebook, but since Facebook only distributes 5-10% of my posts to my followers, I'm going to treat this blog as the main center for my music and post stuff here first.

New year. It's also a time to streamline.

brutal honesty