Monthly Archives: May 2011

la petite mort

I’ve been spend­ing too much time around friends and fall­en heroes, stay­ing up too late, run­ning away from my thoughts, pun­ish­ing my body, killing myself one day at a time. The exhaus­tion is numb­ing — exact­ly what I need — but I know I can’t keep this up for­ev­er. I used to lose a day here and there, think it’s Wednesday on a Thursday. Now I lose entire weeks. I’ve decid­ed that it’s all okay as long as shit gets done.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been feel­ing trapped. I’m too busy to see past things as they are right now, a vic­tim of my own self-dis­trac­tion, so it feels like I’ll be here for­ev­er, stuck in this end­less loop of heal­ing and heart­break.

I’m still try­ing to find that del­i­cate bal­ance between accept­ing myself (which risks com­pla­cen­cy) and striv­ing to improve (and the con­stant dis­sat­is­fac­tion). At the very least, I’ve come to the real­iza­tion that there’s a dif­fer­ence between the things that hap­pen to us and the way we react or deal with them, and since you have no say in the for­mer, all you can do is improve the lat­ter.

Sometimes you have to die a lit­tle inside to fig­ure that out.

the greatest chaps

It was total­ly unfair that Shane was only in town for a sin­gle night, and then off to the next show in Kingston with Krista and Jesse and Audra the next morn­ing. I was look­ing for­ward to a week­end with him at least, but his tour com­mit­ments as bassist, back­up vocals, sound tech­ni­cian, and dri­ver kept us apart.

Lederhosen Lucil


This was the first time I’ve seen Krista per­form as Lederhosen Lucil (and the fifth time I’ve been to her shows). It was an LL album that I first fell in love with, so this meant a lot. I total­ly had this awk­ward kiss? hug? kiss? moment with her when she got up to greet me while man­ning the cov­er box; I’ve nev­er been very good at that. In the Fall she asked if she could have the Ottawa stop of her tour in my liv­ing room for an inti­mate House Show the Third, but that plan got derailed when I adopt­ed Leonard, as two cats was too much for her aller­gies. Things worked out for the best. The Raw Sugar Cafe is such a great venue, with dry cider and mul­ti­ple escape routes.

These are the only peo­ple who could con­vince me to have break­fast with them at a din­er on the oth­er side of the city on three hours of sleep. At a table full of musi­cians it’s impos­si­ble not to abuse the theremin set­ting on the Bebot app, Mentok the Mind-Taker style. I was going to tell Shane to save me a seat next to him, but then real­ized I’m not in grade 2 any­more.

Silk and Steel and Steve

I’ve always been after a more mel­low sound than what I can cur­rent­ly get out my gui­tar. Madeleine sug­gest­ed I try D’Addario Silk and Steel strings, so I bought a pack a few days ago and have been play­ing them since. I asked Steve to demo the strings, as well as my love­ly gui­tar Larissa, cause my abil­i­ties aren’t good enough to real­ly show her off.

Sometimes I love them cause they’re so bright and clear, oth­er times I hate them cause the tone comes off as thin and frail; it real­ly depends on what kind of music I’m play­ing. When Steve plays them they’re shock­ing­ly bright and pierc­ing com­pared to the sound I get; I’m not sure if it’s the dif­fer­ence in our nails or tech­nique (or both).

They’re def­i­nite­ly meant for fin­ger­pick­ing cause they’re so light1 that even mod­er­ate strum­ming will make them buzz, which severe­ly lim­its my pos­si­ble reper­toire. On the bright side, it’s much eas­i­er to fret barre chords, and cer­tain pas­sages that were a strug­gle to play clean­ly only require a light touch now.

Another advan­tage is that the tone makes me feel like I’m play­ing a dif­fer­ent gui­tar. Even though it’s not quite the dry and mel­low sound of a clas­si­cal nylon, it’s some­what staving off my desire to buy the Taylor I’ve been eying2, but who knows how long that’ll last.

Steve’s the only per­son I know who lives by the gui­tar, both lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly. I’ve seen such bril­liant things come out of his fin­gers. Sometimes in the mid­dle of a song I’m show­ing him, he’ll pick up the melody and go some­where com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent with it that’s more beau­ti­ful than the orig­i­nal. And even though he’s main­ly a jazz guy (after Wes Montgomery), he can play any style from clas­si­cal to fla­men­co.

I’ve tak­en up his belief in not using a pick and stick­ing with my fin­ger­nails. “Just anoth­er thing between you and the gui­tar”, he said to me once. And when I explain how I’m stuck on some­thing he’ll say, “Have you done it three-and-a-half mil­lion times?” to remind me that any­thing’s pos­si­ble with enough prac­tice. He’s filled with all these tiny yet cru­cial bits of infor­ma­tion that have influ­enced how I approach the instru­ment.

  1. 0.11–0.47, but they feel like 0.10. []
  2. It just so hap­pens that Steve’s main gui­tar is the exact nylon-string Taylor hybrid I’ve been drool­ing over for months now. []

between the river and the ravens I'm fed

Consider the ravens. They do not sow or reap, they have no store­room or barn; yet God feeds them.

—Luke 12:24

It’s start­ing to get uncom­fort­ably busy. There’s always some­one else to vis­it, anoth­er per­son to catch up with. Projects have a way of find­ing me too; I’ll hear a song and decide that I need to make an arrange­ment, or some­one will approach me for a web­site or video when they’re pur­su­ing dreams of their own.

dinner at the Trolley's

Me and Trolley and Steph and Aaron and not you. I win.

(I have yet to get a pic­ture of Trolley with a full glass of beer.)

It’s the same way when it comes to fig­ur­ing out what to eat late­ly. I open an emp­ty fridge a half dozen times, each time think­ing I’ll find a hid­den cache of food that was­n’t there before, then some­one will call me for din­ner.

I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to jam with a few peo­ple too, includ­ing Heather G, who pulled out her cel­lo for the first time in her adult­hood to give me root notes on the base­line. One draw of the bow across those strings has con­vinced me that I want one of my own; the tones are rich and meaty, some­thing you feel through the entire instru­ment, and espe­cial­ly the ten­sion of the rib­bon (and I thought the gui­tar was tac­tile). We even con­vinced Sergey to pick up some mal­lets and strike the keys of a glock­en­spiel with us, the first time in his life he’s ever played an instru­ment.

I’m look­ing for­ward to the Fall, when I have noth­ing else booked. Part of me wish­es I could take a year off and lock myself in a cot­tage some­where and work on my own projects with­out inter­rup­tion, but I don’t mind so much right now. Luckily, the work is always ful­fill­ing, regard­less of whether it’s for me or not, because so often I get to col­lab­o­rate with such won­der­ful­ly cre­ative peo­ple. I just need to ride the del­i­cate line between dis­trac­tion and over-stim­u­la­tion.