what’s your story?

8 June 2011 § Leave a comment

Every time I pick up a Rolling Stone magazine, I devour it. Every article on washed out rock stars and corrupt politicians, album review, and the shorts on ‘upcoming’ artists. Of course, they’re not really all that ‘upcoming’ – they were in a ton of industry rags before the downsized-but-still-elegant pages of Rolling Stone. I miss those, too.

I used to work in music. In fact, when most of my graduating class was taking Music Appreciation and History 101, I was playing on SSL mixing desks in audio engineering school and hanging out with KRS-One. A couple of years later, I landed an internship at one of the coolest studios in the Southeast US. I sat in on intimate sessions and recorded takes that you’d never hear on a record. I learned from one of the best engineers around. I drove rock stars around town to buy liquor and weed, and dumped ashtrays at industry parties until the sun came up, or until I was too fucked up to walk straight.

But none of that really matters.

When I’m pressed for my story, that five year blip in my life usually comes up. And then, I usually say, I dropped everything, let everything in my life collapse, and drove from Florida to Alaska – home, more or less – to be a commercial fisherman. Depending on whom I’m speaking with, I’ll go on to talk about my travels or how happy I’ve been since all that – how liberating it is being out on the sea, not having a punchcard or a schedule, to take that money and buy a plane ticket to go who-knows-where, to live the way I want to live, without much regard for anyone or anything around me.

There’s a lot of truth in that. There’s also a lot I’m leaving out, like how much I want to return to the music industry. I miss being a part of pop culture, of being in it, completely wrapped up in the lights and faux glamour and the sound. Oh god, the sound. It’s the music that I miss. Making it sound good, and learning how to make it sound better.

The people and the beauty and the connections, which are mostly bland, superficial, and easily forgotten, all leave a lot to be desired, but they have an ironic, amusing charm that I haven’t encountered before or since.

If I’ve pieced together this new life with which I can do anything because everything is possible, then I should be able to say to myself ‘hey, if you want to work in music, then do it.’ But it’s not as simple as that: for me, that would be a regression in the worst way: how can I go from this state of idealistic enlightenment (which lasted about thirty seconds, sometime in the last couple of years) back to that boombox world of cellophane and love songs?

Perhaps it’s that I’ve started in on another education, having all but given up on working in music, when I still owe a certain ex-girlfriend’s parent for paying off my tuition. Perhaps it would be the starting over, from the bottom, working fifty hours a week for rice grains again, wiping spilled beer off the mixer and wrapping urine-soaked cables up to use the next night. One month, my power bill dropped to twentysomething dollars simply because I was never at home, and I remember how silently proud I was. The late Thursday nights as a freelance sound guy, working on dilapidated PA systems in fluorescent-lit bars, walking out of a gypsy extravaganza at 4 a.m. with a few free beers and a twenty dollar bill in my pocket. Sometimes, the band outnumbered the crowd they played for. Sometimes, those were the best shows.

Sometimes, they covered my electricity bill.

I biked ten miles home, always somewhere between the dark and the orange streetlights, soaking in that glistening texture of clarity that draped over the rolling hills, then vanished into the rich neighborhoods, with houses made of custom this and antique that. I geared up just past the I-40 bridge and flew down the smooth, winding asphalt with the newly painted lines. An LED headlight wrapped itself on the handlebars and showed me the way. It was forever on the dimmest setting, which for some reason shone brighter in the deer’s eyes when they crossed the road, deciding whether or not they would fight the stereotype that night. How often they had chosen in my favor I do not know, but I thanked them for the consideration nonetheless.

What I arrived to from those rides – the house where another life lived up to itself – is another story, for another time. For it was the world I was escaping from when I walked into the church cathedral that served as our _______ recording space to set up microphones that would record the earth’s rumblings.

The world of the awake, as I called it. When you know you’re in a dream, you have unlimited control, if you know how to harness it. I could harness it in at work, where I belonged, and at home I didn’t have to.

It was more necessary to me than than mere work, what I was doing. I was working for a purpose, toward a tangible goal that I could see and feel and hear and taste. Anything I did in the process of attaining it had only the best intentions, or was, at worst, immediately forgivable.

How delusional we can be sometimes.

How delusional I can be sometimes.

I was full of hope and ambition. And I knew everything. But I wonder, what would that me think of me now? Like we discussed, there’s no sense in taking stock in what others think of us, but what about our own opinions of us? Shouldn’t we mind them?

Perhaps all those lifetimes ago I was privy to something now I am not, and I must learn it again, because I lost it along the way. Maybe that’s why I feel I must travel. Who knows where knowledge lies, under rugs or manhole covers, over decadent mountains, in the off-white sea foam?

It’s time to sleep by now, certainly.

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