03 December 2009

Turning Pro Again: Weirdness Abounds in Gotham

Hey hey, my my. In haste yesterday afternoon, I accidentally posted my next installment before it was done. Sorry about that, for those in the audience. The haste might have had something to do with a few key distractions. First, I was trying with all my 17th Level magic-user skills to cast my "cloak of invisibility in mind and body," and hustle out of work early to pre-show dinner with Jesse, before the the big phirst night at MSG. Second, and in rather large part related to the first, and the general rash of dissatisfaction, angst, frustration and (sure) exile I was feeling in my life as a desk-bound wage-earner, my boss decided do me a grand favor by planting his foot in my ass and giving me the ol' Donald Trump-style heave-ho.

That's right folks: my boss finally did for me what I couldn't do for myself, and fired me. Who can blame him, really? Scant weeks after being desert-rotisseried on two vacation days at Festival 8, I asked for a couple *more* days off for New Year's Eve (yep, Miami), then kicked the can off the cliff by asking if his silence in responding was because the answer was "no"...these are the acts of a person captured by a certain passion.

In rediscovering my true calling, my B-Job charade just couldn't keep pace with my waning attention. Jeesh. Don't get me wrong: saying things like "true calling (though more true than most things I can believe are true) feels so crazy and scary I can barely stand it. But, blogging as I have been on my iPhone from a cabin in the Poconos, the subway, parks and restaurants, lying on my back in a minivan in Albany (when I said I'd take a nap), in the dermatologist's office, wandering the streets of Philadelphia, and, of course (much to the detriment of my strict ethical standards) AT WORK...it was starting to get a little untenable.

My friends became baffles for increasingly tearful rants about wanting to be freed from the shackles of my quotidian imprisonment. Then (dramatic chords) Fall Tour began. On V-T00R, I pushed the envelope of sleep further into my wee night owl hours, making for dire complexity when the sun arose...namely, "snooze abuse." Things just started getting more and more awkward.

An elaborate Excel spreadsheet was concocted to track tour plans, needs, travel and expenses. Fifteen Firefox browser tabs were open at home and work with routine locations everpresent: Phish.net (setlists), ZZYZX's PhishStats (song frequencies), TripAdvisor.com (cars, hotels, flights, oh my), Craigslist & Gruvr.com (tickets), Gmail (endless communiques), and the inevitable Blogger "Edit Posts" window. Another window would contain three tabs I'd occasionally use for work; intranet, client portal, ticketing system/knowledgebase...

I'm good at pretty much everything I put my mind to. But I got a pretty humbling lesson in the power of passion in these past three months. When the soul (whatever that is) has a calling, it must heed it, and when it doesn't suffering results. I was doing the perfectly logical, seemingly most "sensible" and "adult" thing to do, by showing up to my job, and trying to stay focused. But in so doing, I was trying to push the rain back into the sky. My left/right brain talents for textual craft and technical acumen were at odds, and couldn't resolve in the way I tried to force them to in my office. Something had to give.

I've said it here a million times: Phish has led the charge of my soul's creative force, which, on ice for six and a half years, is now back with a bold, shiny vengeance. Yes, you're damn right I'm terrified. The fear of being a starving artist alone in a brutal city is what's kept me running *from* my truth. I've lived as a perpetually broke urban nomad for almost 7 years, since my life fell apart in 2003, due to poor coping skills, depression and self-medication with non-medicinal substances. Yeah, I'm pretty much completely sick of running on fumes, which is why I was trying to subsidize the dream with what became a nightmare.

I didn't get fired because of Phish, nor is Phish gonna solve all my problems. I got fired because a door to my past opened up into my future, and the magnetic force on the other side of that door sucked me through. My boss...he probably has no hate. He knows what I've been doing, and has seen me trying my best despite being torn in many directions.

And I don't know how it's all gonna pan out. Oh my god, what a creepy feeling. But I do know that, thanks entirely to Phish and the initial inspiration they've provided, I'm a lot less afraid now to let writing about music (and, sure, lots of other stuff) take its proper place in my waking activities, and maybe to try making a living doing this thing I love (and am good at), with the extra added bonus of knowing my way around servers and switches, Macs and PCs alike.

Now, I have little choice but to place my whole life in the hands of the forces I HAVE to believe are guiding me towards my calling. I stood in the swaying, pulsating throng at MSG last night, once again in the company of heroes of creative endeavor, whose passion, focus and resolve is continuing to propel them on a daily path of transformation and rediscovery. Broken shackles clattering around my dancing ankles, I waved my arms and hair and screamed and leapt...I really, finally feel free, because for all the terror and doubt, I know I can't control the uncontrollable. I can't push the sunlight of my spirit back into space anymore. Cute boys told me they liked my style and how I dance; one gave me a tall cup of ice water and demanded a kiss on the cheek (compliance!); but I kept my faithful post Page-side and raged like a woman whose job was now to provide this beloved scene with her 100% vibe.

If you ask me, despite the diminishing decimals in my poor, haggard bank account, the timing is just right. Oh yeah. "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." I found the Phellowship table the minute I walked into MSG, found my people, and told the tale of my termination/liberation. My phriends trickled in one by one, from Albany and Jones Beach, Philly & Festival 8...I offered rides to Charlottesville Saturday with the money I tried hard to legitimately earn and quickly burned as fuel for this potent preoccupation...

...but wait, there's more! it's not a "pre"occupation anymore. Now, it's where I'm at. A tall dude from Boulder came up to me after I shared my tale of "whoa" with my phellowship. He told me about a year ago, he willed his job away (hahah!) and it's been the best thing he's ever done, and he's having the time of his life young, sober, happy and phree! I practically cried, thanking him and cranking his hand up and down, my beanpole angel of Christmas Future. It's gonna be okay. It's here, and I'm no longer a traffic light slave. It's green-means-go all the way. And damn, its a crapshoot, but it sure feels good.

So, forthcoming from the free fingers of the fancifully Phixated, Syracuse, Albany and beyond, the end of tour, beginning anew, and more exciting new adventures in the life of a full-time phan. Hey, it's a living. Kids, don't try this at home. But if you're lucky, have a good safety net, some encouragement and a healthy dose of wanderlust, save yourself a decade of indecision and try it on the road.

Finally, a favorite scene (from fellow erstwhile music-scribe Cameron Crowe's seminal '80s romance, "Say Anything"):

So Lloyd, you graduated Lakeside, right?

Yes sir.

What are you going to do now?

Yeah Lloyd. What are your plans for the future?

Spend as much time as possible with Diane before she leaves.

Seriously, Lloyd.

I'm totally and completely serious.

No, really.

You mean like career? Uh, I don't know. I've...I've thought about this quite a bit, sir, and I'd have to say considering what's waiting out there for me, I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or... process anything sold, bought or processed, or repair anything sold, bought or processed, you know, as a career, I don't want to do that. So, uh, my father's in the army; he wants me to join, but I can't work for that corporation. So what I've been doing lately is kickboxing, which is really a, uh, new sport, but I think it's got a good future. As far as career longevity goes, I don't really know, because, you know, you can't really tell. Your training sticks as a fighter, you know, but it's no good, you know...you have to be great, but I can't really tell if I'm great until I've had a couple of pro fights. But I haven't been knocked out yet. I don't know. I can't figure it all out tonight, sir; I'm just going to hang with your daughter."


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