hello friends - - before the proper email kicks in, I wanted to mention that I’m currently offering a bunch of different services including personal tone zones, music lessons, and guitar solos. You can take a look here, would love to work with you. Okay, back to the email ~
Recently a very nice person sent me a message. They had just bought a copy of one of my records online and in the little optional message field they sent along a few kind words. Nice to read, generally encouraging, sweet. It's the last sentence of the message that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
"may we all aspire to climb so doggedly."
It was not a phrase I would have used to describe myself.
the dog on a chain that lived in the backyard next to the house where I was staying, summer 2011. I'd sit on the back porch drinking my instant coffee and watch the dog wind around and around, around and around, with a ragged hope in its eyes that the chain would snap, not realizing that with each winding around its rut in the earth grew deeper
the dog on a chain this morning that I passed while walking along the canal, chain taut, spit flying from its jaws, lady standing on the porch squinting at me through exhaled cigarette smoke
the dog running in its sleep, snarling and catching the rare rabbit of its dreams, thundering footfalls, hot gamey blood running down its muzzle, never knowing the difference between this and the linoleum tile it wakes to
the constant sound of my mom's three dogs in the background of every phone call, insistent and un-ignorable
But then. Lately I have been trying to walk more, get out of the house, feel the frozen sun on my face when I can. I'm wrestling with seasonal depression and getting suplexed often. A bit of natural light and fresh air sometimes helps.
But I am sick of walking in my usual places. At first this new town I'm living in thrilled me, I strolled summer easy all over, I lovingly ran my little beady eyes over every crumbling victorian architectural detail. But after six months - six months! - without steady work I have powerwalked on all the roads and all the semi-abandoned bike paths, I have scaled all the bridges and crossed all the train tracks. I'm feeling a deep need to walk somewhere new, to feel like I am not penned in to the five or so square miles around my front door.
So a few weeks ago I bought a guidebook from the local bookstore, a decades-old self-published atlas of various walking places in the county. And I was reading about some unmarked routes online, trails that were left to grow over or left half-finished. So I started looking for little subtle paths in the woods, narrow aisles obscurred. I started looking for the little whispers of footprints in the frozen dirt.
I saw one morning that there might be waterfalls if I followed a path behind the bowling supply factory and up the hill behind some pre-fab houses. Then I could walk through the graveyard at the top, angels slowly losing the detail in their faces to the wind. I huffed up and wandered through. Sure enough at the rear of the cemetery there were thin little trails and the sound of rushing water. I followed them down and followed the creek as it tumbled, hearing the water sing and emerging at a gas station at a bend in the road I had never seen before. The newness of it was as syrupy and as blearily warming as a tall shot of after-dinner liquor. So I grew bolder. And when I saw what I thought was a fork in a path the following day I did not hesitate to veer left, away from the blue blaze in the armpit of the tree.
Seemed fine at first, but as I went further along where I thought I was encouraged to go it seemed less and less likely that this was meant for foot traffic. Debris in the path, a tree knocked over, then no real discernible path at all, just patches of frozen earth in-between the trees. But the spaces between wound upward and so I did, too. Higher and higher, the snot and hot breath in my face mask freezing stiff in the fabric. The hill gradually steepened, not a switchback in sight. My already icy boots slipped on the loose rocks and I took to hoisting myself up by the thin trunks of cold-strained trees. I was sweating, panting, and it was only near the top that I realized I wasn't following a path at all, but rather what appeared to be a dried little rivulet bed, a place where water had run down the hill until it was too cold to run anymore. But I could see the top, and I had come this far, so I exerted myself just a little more. I pulled myself up by another young tree, and then, all of a sudden, I had emerged in the park at the top of the hill, something like 200+ feet higher than the street where I started. Through a combination of stubbornness and a need to DO something I climbed right up it, ungracefully sweating and breathing hard with my tongue out, doggedly. May we all climb.
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Thanks for being here.
I am choosing to believe that I am more like a dog majestically catching a frisbee six feet airborne today as I make my little weekly audio and write my silly little emails to you.
Although I am very grateful for this outlet, a weekly anchor point by which I hold myself accountable and sometimes hear from old buddies in return. I also receive some significent support from some of you, both fiscally and emotionally. Both rock.
I got a crucial assist on the music this week from my partner Gracelee Lawrence who came in at the last minute and played the hell out of those jingle bells. She is a very good sculptor, if you didn’t know already, and you should check out her work.
Also: lately I’ve been learning how to make electronic / dance music and whipped up this extremely goofy but very fun 12-minute-long track, which is the total opposite of the music I usually share here:
All right, that’s enough of me this week.
What about you? How intense is you cabin fever at this moment? What hill are you climbing? Are you suspended in air, spittle-flecked jaws just about the grab the disc from out of the sky?