Hey Gang –
Yes, I know… it’s been awhile. Many of you have reminded me! And I know I owe some of you some responses (like my pals in Midland – love y’all – CB, Alan, BW, Trevor, and several others). But by now, you know how it is. I just have to disconnect from the Machine from time to time. More on that soon.
I’ve spent some time in Florida this summer, helping out mom with my dad’s transition back home. It has been over six months since his stroke and they finally let him out of the hospital in June. All things considered, he’s doing okay. Still little movement on his right side, but he can slowly amble about the house with a “side-walker,” as he kind of drags his right leg around from the hip. Communication remains challenging. He clearly has difficulty with comprehension most of the time, and he still can’t really talk, although his vocalizations (indiscernible as they may be) are lively and joyous to hear. I told him on the phone the other day that his “language” was like listening to a Coltrane or Miles Davis record to me – great music to my ears. He just laughed.
And that’s the main thing; his spirits remain high on most days. He remains very compliant with all of his therapists (three different ones come to the house two to three times per week), and he’s still very pleasant to be around, just like he always was. He gives my mom the most grief, of course, which is to be expected since she’s his 24/7 caretaker. She’s a superhero at this point, but I’m not sure how long she’ll be able to keep up this pace. Looking after him is literally an around-the-clock proposition. She’s a trooper, though, let me tell ya. Very devoted and diligent. We’re still trying to figure out some more strategic reprieves for her each week so she won’t burn out too soon. I’m sure we’ll come up with something.
The Mad Scientist Model Airplane Builder
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. For some time now, it seems like I’ve gotten so caught up in the creative process – in the actual act of working on this crazy-ass shit in the practice room, or writing stuff on the laptop for any of a number of different manuscripts – that I’ve lost touch with the idea that this work really needs to get out into the world! I was trying to explain this to a friend recently, and stumbled across this analogy:
I’m like a mad scientist model airplane builder; I sit alone in a room and construct these elaborate models. I spend hours and hours, enthralled with the process, but I do it alone. I don’t care who sees me do it. I don’t care to talk much about it. I don’t care to keep folks apprised of my progress. I just love doing the work. And when a “model” is finished, I take it into a special display room, find a cool place to put it, admire it for a moment, then move on to the next one. No inclination to show the model to anyone, let alone try to sell it. Just knowing it’s in the room and I can go in there and look at it every once in awhile is enough for me.
Or, more typically, it’s like I’m working on several models at the same time, spread across various work benches in the shop, caught up in the ecstasy of juggling them all. And again, because there’s no real destination for them, there’s no real impetus to finish any of them. Just grind away in process, working on whichever one calls out to me the loudest on any given day.
Pathetic, I know.
Of course, if someone calls me for a gig, session or tour, it’s a different story; I can step right into that role, no problem. But for my own shit – this is how it’s been as of late.
My Secret Abyss of Untapped Audio Files
One of the ongoing creative elements of my life over these past five or six years has been the ever-expanding collection of audio notes – or voice memos – I’ve been accumulating. At first, I used a digital audio recorder, which I took everywhere with me. Anytime, day or night, when an idea hit me, I would pull out the recorder and speak into it. This could happen at the gym, in the woodshed, while I was driving, stepping out of the shower, at the market, or any time or place when it wasn’t convenient to actually write the idea down.
An entry could be anywhere from 15 seconds to a full 10 minutes or longer, depending on what I was trying to convey. Sometimes they would be ideas for a certain chapter of a particular book I was working on, some kind of philosophical tidbit about something or another, or an extended rant related to some pending or future book or lecture excerpt; pure intellectual property, in almost every case. And if it was important enough for me to stop what I was doing to reach for the recorder, it was usually a worthwhile idea to record.
These audio files would then get downloaded into the USB port of my laptop, and I had quite a growing collection. Then with the iPhone, of course, there’s actually a voice memo app on there, so all voice memos are automatically transferred over to my iTunes library, making it even easier to catalog. (That’s when I retired the digi recorder.)
Dozens, perhaps hundreds of these files, have already been transferred over to the written word some place before being erased. As for the rest, I had gotten as far as creating sub-folders for all the memos, and even labeling and placing a bunch, but there are a shitload of them, so many have remained uncategorized. Then recently, I decided to roll up my sleeves and see if I can make a dent in these files so I could access and use them sooner than later.
So once I was pretty sure that every single one of the remaining memos was tucked away in a master folder, I called up the info, and this was the grand total:
3,552 memos, totalling 156 hours of audio, utilizing 22.6 gigs.
What the fuck am I supposed to do with all of this material? If even 95% of it is usable content, how am I ever going to transcribe it off of these files, massage the content into something readable, then drop it in the right place? It’s an interesting dilemma… and good reason to keep chipping away at all of these “model airplanes.”
Seriously, it’s not really preventing me from getting good work done. But I know there’s some great shit lurking around in there, and I would like to utilize it at some point.
“Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?”
Yes, friends… I couldn’t stay away. After the LA Marathon, I took a week off of running to recover and was just jonesing like a motherfucker to hit it again. Seriously, it was like a crack addiction. I wanted to run so bad, but I knew I wasn’t healed up yet. So, like a dumb-ass, I started anyway, which only delayed my recovery process. I just couldn’t get back to square one after the ravaging of LA. Actually, I was shocked at how long it wound up taking me to fully recover.
Finally, after a few weeks, I was able to feel pretty comfortable and get back up to some nice 5-milers. After that, there was only one thing to do: The Long Beach Marathon in October!
Man, my slow, bulky ass has gotta do one in under 4:00 hours. That’s all there is to it. So I started training full-throttle again on my own a couple months ago, then just recently jumped back in with my Fleet Feet running group in early July.
Training’s been going really well so far. I’m definitely faster, stronger and wiser than the first time around. Will get into more detail as we go along. But don’t worry; I will NOT be documenting every workout or begging everyone for charitable donations this time around. This one is all about the “joy” of running!
Good to be back to the blog. Lots more to talk about. Stay tuned…