Some Thoughts #63

    I’ve been in this pissy funky mood for what seems like months now.  I just can’t quite seem to shake the winter moodiness blues.  Apparently I have a pattern of this funk and then coming around to a revelation in the spring time -- like coming out of a cloud and saying “gee, have I been completely not myself for the past 4 months”.  And what makes it even more confusing is that in a lot of ways spring has already started to arrive.  We’ve had these bouts of wonderful weather -- in fact just a week ago it was 80+ degrees for a whole week.  I’ve spent much of March digging in the yard and expanding my garden.  I’ve got an elaborate plan for when to plant what and I’ve been cleaning up the remains of dead limbs and weeds and the like; poking around under leaves for the early spring growth.  Finding the tulips popping their heads up out of the ground, and all the other plants that I fear are dead poking out new shoots -  always comes as such a surprise.  And every day as I poke around I find some new buds.  And yet - that glorious rebirth feeling hasn’t quite hit me yet.  Of course those great days do wonders for me -- and they remind me of what I’ve been missing and put me back on track for the coming months to look forward to.  But sadly, as this is the spring issue - I feel as though I should be jubilantly jumping for joy and singing with the birds about how everything is magical now and life is all inspiration and joy.  But I don’t feel that way.  I feel stressed out, burnt out, and bummed out beyond words.  And I hate to write in a negative or complaining manner - so I try to find the things that make me glow -- and of course there are a lot of them.  But overall I feel off track a bit.  It seems like it’s been ages since the last issue (and that  much should have happened since then) - the time flies by so quickly - so quickly in fact that in many ways not much has happened.
    In January I went on vacation.  Yep.  A real, take a week off and fly across the country to California, vacation.  I haven’t had a “real vacation” of that sort for nearly 10 years (since the last time I flew to California).  Fortunately though a lot has changed in ten years and this time I was returning to a friendly place to visit my very best friend in the whole world and get reunited with a whole bunch of familiar friends in a place that I never quite get to spend enough time in.  One week in San Francisco.  It rained nearly the whole time - and I dealt with it, grew to love it and then it stopped raining (thankfully).  I feel madly in love with the trees, as always.  Trekked down to Point Lobos to the cliffs -- to seek out the Cypress trees which have lingered in my dreams.  In that area in particular they grow on the mountainside cliffs as though they are fighting vertigo not to fall into the sea.  The contour of the trees matches the shape on the cliffs and they hold on with all their sinewy tendons.  The Cypress and the mightily Redwoods, as with all those special western trees are filled with so much magic.  I found a grove of redwoods and the trees literally soothed me and held me captive in the very best way.  I felt as though I could spend the whole day surrounded by those magnificent trees and not even notice the passage of time.  And that is a pretty incredible thing considering how prevalent time has become in my life.  I’m frustrated with myself of late to have become so much of what I have spoken out against.  By that I mean that once again I have become a slave to time.  A cog in the machine.  A slave to my own self-propelled regimented schedule.  I try to do too many things and then get stressed out, overwhelmed and frustrated that I can’t “conquer the world”.  Figuratively speaking of course.  It’s more like “conquer the desk”.  The hardest part of it all is that I can’t shake the feeling that I can’t get it together, can’t get on top of things, can’t do all that I want to do.  So I prioritize and organize and make lists and goals and still watch as days fly by and then months while I still have stacks of photos unsorted or letters unanswered - which each and everyday I have thought about.  It’s as if it’s time for me to move again - simply to get a clean slate.  But the fact is I don’t want to move again.  I’m quite happy in my little home here where I’ve put down roots -- many roots in fact, in the garden.  I had a dream one night about moving and leaving my garden, and being in a place with no garden, and I woke with the most anguished feeling -- as though the worst separation had been forced on me.  It kinda made me realize just how much that garden means to me.  So on a practical level - I don’t want to uproot.  But  I could definitely do with uncluttering my life.  And it’s such a predictable and boring thing to complain about - everyone is lacking time and money and wanting something they don’t have and I hate to fill space with more wasted words.  But it consumes me in a way that I hate.  Take this week for example -- I’ve been working overtime - and it’s the week that I have to get S&L sent to the printer.  So I’m coming home at 4 or 5 am and turning on the computer with the goal of getting through the allotted portion of work for that night.  I sleep - get up - back to the computer - then back to work.  All the while I’m saying “what the fuck am I doing?  This is ridiculous!  I’m killing myself, this is no way to life, what fun is this?”  And this is where I get frustrated with myself - cause I push myself further and further and know that if I give in, even an inch or a minute, whatever it is just won’t get done.  Cause if I wait till tomorrow - I might as well just never do it - cause tomorrow might as well be next month. And so much for a nice anal regimented schedule.  So for anyone who asks me “how do you do it?” - my current answer is I don’t know.  But the real answer is -- push yourself until you break and can do no more.  Never an idle moment.
    While I was in San Francisco - I got really motivated.  All winter I’d been feeling kinda alone on my own island, away from “my people” so to speak.  From those people who inspire me and that I can easily relate to -- get excited about things in the same way and feel that motivational inspiration kind of energy.  So as soon as I was in SF - I was inundated with that energy.  Suddenly I was surrounded by my people -- whether they were my good old friends or just people who were doing things I could relate to.  Spent the day in the compound where my friends were building their space to live in and in the front half the building was a record distribution and in the back half a printing press; with a vast array of living spaces and a constant traffic of people.  I felt so at home.  It always strikes me as funny that I would want to go on vacation and open mail, answer letters, stuff envelopes or fold record sleeves -- but the fact is that is what I know best and where I feel most useful.  And I’m happiest when I feel useful.  And it feels good being around people who obsessively do those things all their waking lives.  And of course, knowing what it’s like to live that obsession - I also can appreciate sharing that with someone.  I can much more easily sit around folding record sleeves and socializing, than I can sitting in a bar these days.  So I joked about being put to work - and loved it.  The thing that inspired me the most was being around so many people who are living their life -- doing their thing - utterly and completely.  Whether it be the printing press, record distribution, magazine, book distribution, book or record store (to name only a few things really) -- I felt  like at every turn the people I encountered were doing their thing and making it work.  And we spent a lot of time in bookstores.  It was so exciting to have a rad bookstore or two, on nearly every block.  It hit me over the head really hard how quickly I’ve gotten used to having little choice other than corporate america -- especially in the book world.  And being that I’m so completely obsessed with the book world - this is a shocking thing to lose sight of.  After spending some time around AK Press and talking books - I found out that a really scary amount of independent bookstores across the states have closed in the past year or two.  The funny thing is that I got all excited about the world of books -- all those books made me want to open my own bookshop and I’ve got the inspiration and motivation to do it.  The sad thing is that I’m also all to aware of the fact that a bookstore is a desperately dying viable thing these days.  Which is all the more reason to put complete support into those cool shops that do remain open.  To me it’s an obvious thing -- but I’ve also become aware of the fact that  a lot of people don’t even really think about how much that support means or what it means to support something you care about or believe in.  I had a good talk with someone once about books and bookstores and we agreed on the evils of the corporate chains - both admitted to going to these places.  But whereas I said - I like to go to the chain bookstores and look, take notes, write down the titles I’m interested in and then if I really need to have something - order it from a cool independent store on the other side of town; the person I was talking to had never even thought of doing such a thing - and admitted to being too lazy.  Ah - lazy and convenience the two most evil words.  I spend so much time thinking about where my hard earned cash goes and who’s business I support by where I spend my money -- so that sometimes it’s shocking how little most people think of it.  So I’ll tell you - if you like your books and you like your music -- support your local independent shops -- cause it means a lot.  So as for all those people and their projects that I was so inspired by -- I’m sure that they all have those days like mine where they are overworked, stressed out and just plain exhausted.  But somehow when you’re in a new place surround by activity and action -- it’s easy to get caught up in the ideas and not get bogged down by the daily shit.  I got all focused on working on my photo book - set a goal to come home and plow through negatives with the hope of having that part done by the time spring came around.  Well spring came early and then it was time to live and breath reviews for this issue (of which I think we all did a pretty good job!) and the book got put on the back burner once again - and all the frustration surfaces.  Getting this issue out has been particularly difficult, and the fact that it got all cold again, seems to have thrown me right back into a mid-winter funk.  I know that the relief is just around the corner and probably by the time anyone reads these words the sun will be shining the tulips blooming and the earth will be alive and I will be frolicking on it.  I sure hope so.  I’ve gotten to this point where I feel beaten down.  The cynical side of me is poking some holes in my skin.  I can’t shake this attitude cause while I put so much energy towards “doing the right thing” and having the utmost faith in what comes around goes around and all those sorts of things -- the fact is that fate can still bite you in the ass.  And so I’ve got this battle in my life that is eating away at me and it’s really starting to mess with my head.
    Sometimes I’m amazed how utterly careless people can be.  I’ve always been outraged that people throw cigarette butts or trash out of their car windows; or just throw trash down as they walk along the street.  This is just the sort of thing that I would never think about.  I mean how hard it is to take your trash to the receptacle?  It seems common sense to me and my rad mom embedded common sense into me real deep, real young.  My line of thinking is so much along the lines of not creating trash in the first place - that the utter thoughtlessness of consumption and waste and then throwing trash on the ground, just boggles my mind.  It reminds me of one time in NYC when I was talking my dog and I found a plastic bag wrapped around the only growing thing on the street - a lone daffodil.  So I took the plastic bag away from the flower and threw it in the trash, only to have a police car stop and start to yell at me for using that person’s trash can.  He thought I was throwing dog poop in their can, and once I explained that I was removing a piece of trash from the street - I think he was in such utter disbelief that he had nothing to say.  Today I saw a guy walking along through one of the flower beds downtown -- just shuffling along dragging his feet and crunching the daffodils.  What the fuck is wrong with people that they are so completely unaware of their surroundings?  I mean I admit that I’m one of the wingnuts that would carry a plastic trash bag on a walk through the woods and collect the trash that I find.  And while I admit that isn’t exactly the state of mind of most people -- utter disregard for plants and growing things makes me realize just how far we have to go to educate people of issues of preservation and conservation.  It also makes you realize just how resilient nature is - that these plants will grow back time and time again even though people hack at them, cut them and walk right over them.  But then again - resilience only last so long before the plants and the earth will give up too.
    On the final battle with the forces that conspire against me, I have had one hell of a technologi-kill and electronical war this past season.  I’ve had a long standing joke that I will destroy anything electrical that gets near me -- not by destruction on my part - but by malfunction on the part of the item.  It’s been a curse my whole life.  My dad is one of those take it apart just to see how it works - build something that goes boom just cause he can.  He does sound and electronics  and is a fix it, jerry rig it, build from scratch kinda guy.  I don’t know if some of my ineptness comes from early reliance on his making things right, or if it’s really as ingrown as I believe it to be -- but I am technically inept and my father and I just don’t speak the same language when it comes to this sort of technical ineptness.  Some people like gadgets - but I think the less shit that will go wrong the better.  And  I know full well when things don’t work right - but I’ll be damned if I can fix things - or if I’ll read a manual to figure out how to turn something on.  I’m all about the hands-on learning approach to things -- as well as the make it and fix it yourself approach.  Yet as minimal as my electrical gadgets are - they all seem to give me constant trouble.  Last summer my turntable gets the unbelievable whammy that even the repair technician can’t figure out (I didn’t bother to tell him that I  had whammy’d it).  It seems like I’ve had this non stop war with gadgets and I’ve been beaten down at my wits-end over it.  My good old little car died on me. It was on borrowed time since the day I bought it for $600 -- over 2 1/2 years ago and 50,000 miles (never a break-down) later.  So I had to deal with the horrors of finding a new car that was reliable and cheap (yeah right who doesn’t want that!).  Well I found one that may be reliable but sure wasn’t in my $600 budget and spent nearly 2 months sorting through electrical contamination.  (I didn’t tell them that I had whammied it either - but I know I did).  All winter I’ve been fighting with my heat.  I’ve got this inability to keep warm -- one of the reasons why I abhor winter so much - I’m always cold (even though in the summer I’m always way too hot).  So I one problem after another - to the point where I’ve become completely obsessed with the heat, and whether it’s working (cause half the time it wouldn’t be).  Now it’s doing okay - but I can’t afford he oil to run it any longer.  I won’t even get into the whole thing with the computer and the internet cause that is indeed a whole story untoo it self which I’ve written about for my column in MRR.  But that is a huge pain in my ass too.  Yeah sure -- the internet is easy if you have the sort of mind that can deal with technology.  But if you are me -- then it’s not easy -- and it certainly isn’t cheap.  Just about the time I thought I may need to use the email to send some files - all hell breaks lose in my computer world and I decided this is the final straw and I’m heading for the hills to live in a tree.  And no, don’t ask me for an email address.
     I’ve been feeling really cantankerous and very much not myself.  I’ve got pockets of inspiration here and there.  But all told there hasn’t been much happening these past few months.  There has been almost no shows - and I guess whatever there has been I have either not known about or I’ve missed due to my schedule.  I haven’t been on any regional road-trips.  Catharsis have been overseas for half a year -- so I haven’t had any jaunts to shows in North Carolina (and I manage to miss them when they’re in VA).  I went to DC for the Varukers and Aus Rotten show -- and I think it was the punkest show I’ve ever been to.  I walked into this dingy dark smoky club that was filled wall to wall with spikey haired punks with full metal studded jackets, just about everyone there was drunk out of their mind.  The funny thing is that normally I would have been stoked and felt right at home, but I think I’ve so quickly been Richmondized, and I didn’t really know anyone there (till those bands showed up) and it was just weird to feel so out of place in an environment that I would expect to feel like home.  True to my luck these days I broke a shock on my car in DC and had to fuss around with a bunch of repairs.  I swear that if I were to go back in time I’d become an auto-mechanic, electrician, plumber - and whammy the whole lot.
    It’s a funny thing -- there’s a lot on my mind.  Lots of little tid-bits that I’ve thought, oh I should write about that.  But when it all comes together those thoughts are scattered to the wind and I’m so aware of the fact that I’ve been in a funky mood for as long as I can recall that I’m just so anxious for that spring sun to shine so I can get outside and frolic in the garden and talk to the plants and sing with the birds.  It shouldn’t be long now - already the weather is shifting again.  And gee, it’s already 6am - the sun is coming up and what a magical time of day it is, all the more so cause I so rarely see dawn.  Where did the time go?  What I want to know is how do the birds know that he sun is coming up before it starts to get light?
—Chris(tine) * 3/00