:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

my middle finger (Patresa)

I kind of want to give the last 10 days my middle finger. But it is 10:30 p.m. the night before my COFFEE post is due, and I am very tired. Plus, I am leaving for Chicago in the morning. I will drive straight east for 6 hours tomorrow morning, and I do not want to crash, all because I wore myself out flipping the universe the bird the night before.

Guitar practice time. = 4 hours. I fell 1 hour short of the 5 hour goal.

More travel this past week. More travel this weekend. And I have another week out after that. I do not like to hear myself whine. It's foolish and ungrateful. I like my job. I like that I have a job. I like that I have opportunities to leave my government issue cubicle to do my job and to live my life (e.g., Washington D.C. for a work conference; Chicago to meet my friend's baby). 

Also… (I once heard Dr. Phil say that the word "but" reverses everything you just said. For example, I love you, but you stink says, "I don't love you, because you stink." So we should use "and" and its derivatives instead. I love you, and you stink says, "I love you even when you stink.") 

As I was saying…

Also.. I have a very hard time with too much Go. It simply isn't my design to be constantly "on" and in motion. I am not a multi-tasker. My ends fray and my thoughts fragment. I can't sustain this kind of momentum. Some people can. I can't. 

So, there is that.

Narrative evidence of progress: Well, crap. I don't know. Chris gave me a new exercise -- the blues scale up and down the neck. It makes musical sense in a way the previous exercises didn't. So I prefer the blues scale. Plus, the intervals cover more space, so it takes less time. Really, I simply cannot tolerate being inconvenienced by work. (That was a joke.)

New Song Development: My goal was to scratch out a vocal line for an original. I did not. 

I have reached the "f*ck it" stage of progress. Sadly, this is where I live a lot of the time. It is my back yard. In this stage, I start to notice that everything I produce, every chord progression, every [whatever else I don't have the lingo to properly identify], starts to sound like the one before. Everything sounds stupid and amateurish, and I hate it all. I lose my joy in the process. I start to wonder why I'm even bothering. Who gives a crap? This goal doesn't matter. Play at an open mic? Seriously? What's the point?

Answer: The point, Angel Face, is to not limit your experiences because of chicken-shit-itis. If there is something I want to do, and I find myself thinking up reasons to not do it (e.g., "There is no point to it."), it probably means I'm suffering from chicken-shit-itis, which is a dumb and treatable disease.

The other part of the f*ck it stage... I start thinking about my next project. I have two lined up: (1) learning to sew and design clothes; and (2) a story writing venture, which would take too long to explain. Neither of these things scare me. So the fact that my brain right now is saying, "Oh, these are better projects, Honey. You just picked the wrong project, Sweetheart. Drop this singing and songwriting silliness and pick something that's better suited for you, Pumpkin."

I've noticed this about myself -- that my escape from a dissatisfying present reality (for whatever reason… my imperfections, falling short of expectations, whatever) is to plan and fantasize about a future. It doesn't take long to completely detach from where I am and what I'm doing. I drift away into hypothetical possibility and lose progress. This is frustrating to me, and I would like to fix this pattern.

You know, overall, the last 10 days have really solidified something I already knew: the importance of stillness to creativity. Stillness is clarifying, scoops out the muck. I have always enjoyed being alone. It's energizing. I cannot be creative without stillness. Can anyone? I can't express anything in a way that's genuine with so much junk in my trunk. And stillness isn't necessarily "quiet" in terms of volume.  I can be still in a crowd. I think stillness is just time to exist without expectations (others' or own). So important for so many reasons.

Cover Song Development: I chose No One is to Blame by Howard Jones. I love this song. I love these lyrics. And I could not figure out the blasted chords to save my life. I just couldn't find them on the guitar. I was just about to scrap the song completely when this morning I decided to cheat. With the help of the google machine, I found a ridiculously simplified version of the chords. Like, shamefully simple. Like, E A D, simple, for those in the know. Seriously? E A D? I couldn't find that? That's the equivalent of… "Oh, golly gee. What's that word for the thing that you put on top of your head when it's cold? Oh! Right! Hat." (No offense to anyone suffering brain injury or just learning English.)

Goals for the next 10 days:

1. Log another 4 hours of practice time. (I'm in town only 5 of the next 10 days. I will not be flying to D.C. on a work trip with my guitar stowed in the overhead compartment. So… I seriously doubt I'll get 5 hours.)

2. Scratch out a better vocal line for an original. I will do this by recording the guitar parts of a few songs before I leave. I can work on vocal lines in my hotel room. My hotel neighbors will be very appreciative, I'm sure.

3. Figure out at least the verse for No One is to Blame. (Because I didn't do it the last 10 days.)

4. Make a list of all the positive things to be gained from this experience. (Because I'm forgetting. The f*ck it stage trips a short in my memory.)

5. Eat some cookies. (Because they are delicious.)


Holly said...

YEs, Yes, Yes!! I so identify with your post today. I am an expert of half finishing projects by dreaming of the next one. Then buying a bunch of books about it, being slightly obsessive, then moving on. I can't wait for your list about why this is important and all the positive things to be gained from this experience. I know it's a bit early, but I feel like I'm at a little bit of a tipping point. Go one way and experience all sorts of wonderful, joyous things, or the other way...the "fuck it" way. This takes too much energy and I don't understand why I'm doing it and I could do more laundry if I wasn't stage!!
Add to the top of your why am I doing this list that you are beautiful and talented and the world (or at least Holly) would love to sit back with a nice glass of wine and listen to the melodious sounds of Peace Mac!!

T-Free said...

Oh, P. I am giving the last 10 days the middle finger with you. The last 10 WORTHLESS days. Sigh.

I am not a multi-tasker either. I am very much a uni-tasker. Almost too much focus on one thing at at a time. And like yourself, I also share the disdain for too much GO. (Love the way you said that.) I can't find me when I'm outrunning myself. I need a certain amount of peaceful alone time every single day, or I go shaky-batty.

I'm in the fuck it stage too. I am fighting myself in a major way. I know I'm self-sabotaging, so at least I'm recognizing my problem this time. When it gets cold outside, I just want to grab a book and get under my electric blanket until spring. I really just don't do winter well, but I am determined to not use my cold-wimpiness as an excuse to be lazy. I won't. You and all of the amazing ladies on this website are motivating and inspiring me to keep trudging forward, and I so deeply appreciate it.

Angel Face! You have such a cute nickname for yourself! I squeal!

I cannot be creative without stillness either. You said: "...stillness is just time to exist without expectations" and I've never thought about it that way, but you're right. It makes it feel easier to find stillness if I think about it that way, so thank you.

Have a safe work trip, and enjoy those cookies, P! :)

patresa said...

holly, i will work on my list, and thank you for providing on of the items! ha!

thank you, ms. tawni! "uni-tasker" that makes me laugh, because it makes me think of unicorns. :) self-sabotage…oh my, yes. lord.

Steph said...

Amen, P. I hope your cookies were absolutely, delightfully DELISH... I made Red Velvet cookies this week, and they were totally delicious. (Thank God they're almost gone, too!)
The brutal honesty contained in this post is a relief. I have lived most of the last decade in the F-it stages of life... it's easier, less painful, SAFE. I totally get where you are. The back yard, yes. Yes, it is. I find myself running for the safety and security of the back yard all too often, and that's one of the biggest personal goals I have for myself - daring to see & experience what else is out there, because there is a big, wonderful world of possibility that exists beyond the fence!!! Yeah, gag. :) If you can get past the taste of bile in your mouth right now, you know it's true. We both do.
I know people who seem to deal effortlessly with too much GO. I can multi-task; but it seems that the better I am at it, the more I have to try to deal with. And I can't sustain it for extremely long periods of time. I do great and then need a break. There hasn't been much in the way of breaks lately, so I feel your pain.
I love that you quoted Dr. Phil. My mom always used to say that to me, "The 'but' undoes everything you just said before it, Steph. Think about it." Go Mom. You & Dr. Phil... oh yeah. It does make sense, though, and I try to be careful about how I phrase things like that to this day. Sometimes, too, it's a great way to (at least in my head) say what I really mean to say to someone... HA! Give the compliment and then use the BUT! I know, true colors, huh? Well, it's true. I do that sometimes.
P, I hope you can shake the last ten days and that your next post is a totally celebratory one!!! Hang tight, and know we're pulling for ya!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

P, I like you very much.

You are doing fantabulously! I heard once that multitasking is basically doing a lot of things not very well. So, I mean, YEAH, you're feeling like this! "Uni-tasking" is way superior. Too bad we live in a go Go GO G O society. I blame our culture on on constant drive to meet expectations that, really, are ridiculous. With the parameters you've been given (groovy and fulfilling yet time consuming work complicated by your blooming creative self), Miss P, you are meeting these just fine however. Totally.

Cheers to some stillness, Sister, however your next moments define this.

Wendy said...

P. I just think it's really cool that you are able to see all of this, including your chick-shit-itis from a broad, objective view. Most people just listen to that imposter voice and, well, follow it.

You're on your way. I am curbing my instinct to say "I've been there, it's natural..." to all of these things you're going thru...even down to the feeling like your vocal lines all sound alike... Because I don't want to homogenize your experience or fall into giving advice, because I think I give too much advice, and I read some fool say most people just want to be heard, not get advice (not I, but whatever! ;-)
All I'll say is that you're doing really really well. And the fact that you're even bringing your guitar on the plane with you...That's serious dedication!

patresa said...

thanks, all! and so funny, steph, that your mom touts the same dr. phil advice!

tanya, i will embrace my uni-taskness! i will do it!

wendy, i am most definitely NOT taking my guitar to D.C. that was just a badly worded paragraph. :)

amy said...

1-I'm baking chocolate chip cookies for a work holiday party tomorrow. If I lived closer to you, I would totally wrap some up and deliver them to your front door so you could wake up and find them in the morning, Patresa. It's icy cold where you are right now, I bet (it is where I am). But that's exactly why GE invented microwaves.

2-I'm currently reading this book called "Women, Food, and God" by Janeen Roth, and right now the one thing that's sticking with me from everything I've read (I'm 3/4 done) is this: "Never underestimate the human instinct to bolt." A lot of people suffer from chicken-shit-itis.

3-But so few of them ever realize it. You are leagues ahead of probably 75% of humanity right now. That's a lot of people, p!

4-I deeply relate to being unable to multi-task. I always feel so antsy when I have to multi-task. And sweaty. And then I get snippy. I hate when I'm antsy, sweaty, and snippy.

5-Melissa smiled when I played your video/guitar practice the other day. She said, "Teekee guitar?" (which now I think is her way of saying "electric guitar") and when I said, "That's mommy's friend Patresa. Do you like her song?" Melissa said, "Yesh! I like this song." And then she did a little hoppy dance and went back to watching Dora the Explorer.

See? You're totally not an amateur. Melissa and Amy would be high fiving you at any open mic. And I bet some total strangers would be like, "Wow, you WROTE that song?" and "Man, how the heck did you even find those chords to No One is to Blame?? I've been looking for years for those things!"

You may even get, like, tips if you put a tip jar out. If I lived closer, I'd bake you cookies for your open mic night, and you wouldn't even need a microwave. Woo, P!

Katie said...

Oh P. I must apologize because while you have been diligently commenting on all posts, I have slacked ass and am now super behind. I feel as if I should duck my head in contrition.

BUT! I'm back, and here to comment that you are just plain awesome. The reason I'm saying that is mainly because your escape from a dissatisfying present reality is to fantasy build, and that is exactly the reason I have never grouted the tile in our entry way even though it's broken, and why I don't pick up the yard as often as I should, and why I don't have a new photo booth session lined up. Every time I start to do those things, I get sidetracked by how in a new life I would pay someone to grout, and we would have an on-call pooper-picker-upper and I would have someone I employ to find me dates. Not people dates, but booth dates. You get it. I do this so much that it's a little embarrasing. It's also maybe laziness, but I've started with the fantasy bit, so I'm sticking with it.

Anyway, I am well aquainted with the F-it stage and probably live there most of the time. I admire people who shake it loose and climb out. You will too - you get too impatient with yourself when you're there too long, so therefor I look forward to reading much more about your adventures!

This was a little bit delusional post, but I'm ok with it!