Friday, January 20, 2012

Leaving the Twilight Zone

As a kid, in the summertime, I enjoyed a comfortable nightly ritual - watching the Twilight Zone reruns on TV. Every night, at 10:00PM I was free to drift with the surrealism that ignited my imagination. I felt safe entering the Twilight Zone. During this time, I would often crack open a window to allow the outside ambient noise additional space to move and mix within my basement sanctuary where I lived. I loved the summer air, the sounds, and the black and white images. Everything was where it needed it to be.

As I stepped out of the studio the other morning, preparing to face another day, I was compelled to turn back and snap the photo you see above. Something about the composite of objects caught my eye. What you see in this image is my place of work; yes, another sanctuary of sorts. See those guitars? Nothing can penetrate that force field. Everything is surrounded by deep green and according to some color theorists: "Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety." This my modern twilight zone. I am comfortable here. Everything is where it needs to be.

Now that I am embarking on an old-new (and exciting) path - formal education - there are many more structured demands presented before me, adding to my already busy work-family life. I have many more deadlines that are forcing me to work in a new way. I can no longer rely on my own structured/non-structured way; a freelance schedule is comparable to no schedule. My time perception is altered and I am being pulled out of my comfort zone; my twilight zone. 

I heard an interesting interview with Garrison Keillor the other morning on MPR. One caller asked - from one freelance worker to another - how he goes about scheduling his work day and inquired about his writing routine. He responded - I am paraphrasing of course - that he works from roughly 4:00AM until noon every day (when he is at home) and that you cannot underestimate those precious hours before the rest of the household wakes up. Also, any problems or tensions you went to bed with seem to be magically suspended during those twilight hours. I get that. I can relate. I am now back to my own 5:00AM wake up call...5:30 after a few snoozes.

Mr. Keillor also went on to describe his writing methods while traveling and accounted for his prodigious output week after week given his busy schedule. He has learned to work on the fly so to speak; in any free moment, in any hotel room, while waiting in the lobby, in a restaurant, where and whenever just to keep the momentum going. This is what I need to develop - a spontaneous work ethic and not having to rely on everything being just so before I begin to write. I need to leave the twilight zone; my comfort zone. 

Today, tomorrow, and now, that is what I am doing. But first...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's My Age Again?

On January 11, 2012, I turned 41. The day before, Van Halen released the first official single from their forthcoming album, A Different Kind of Truth, with original singer David Lee Roth. The last album with Roth, 1984, was released on December 31, 1983. I was 12 then.

I am a fan of the band. No doubt. However, they have not been as profound an influence on me as say, Rush or the Replacements, but I have been looking forward to this reunion with just as much anticipation as the rest of the fans. At heart, I am part classic rocker.

I have listened to the new tune about 50 times now, always left with a different reaction; mostly unsettled joy.

As a musician, aging rock stars have always been the most stark reminder to me of how fast time moves and that I too, am getting older. As a father, watching my daughter grow up has usurped this reminder, but I the age of 12, who cares? At 41, everything matters. Time to get moving.

Watching Van Halen's new video is like observing the ruins of a magnificent temple - be it Angkor Wat, the Sphinx, Delphi, or whatever - you can still kind of see how opulent and powerful it was back in it's day. Now, it is just a hollow shell, an outline, a sketch, and you yearn and try so hard to make it as it was - by way of imagination or sheer will power. Both methods fail, though imagination can be relatively effective.

A feeling of disappointment can rule, but you know what? When observing such edifices there is still much magic and beauty to behold. The same can be said about an aged - and relatively ancient - rock band. Rock solid foundations are the last thing to crumble.

But here is one big difference: We have seen and can still see bands in their prime. YouTube. That is where you can get stuck. The current past is never that far away. One URL, a few search words, a few mouse clicks, and there is your time machine. To be sure it can be a dangerous, yet exciting trip to reality.

What does this all mean? I am not sure.

Today it is January 12, 2012. I am 41.