48 Going On 49, The Inevitability Of Time, And Feeding The Creative Fire

It seems this creativity thing is still moving forward.

Despite my best efforts to be lazy and leave my musical toys to collect dust this new music “thing” is progressing. I’m almost up to two full tapes of music, which in 4-track terms that’s two sides of two 45-minute cassettes. So I’ve got like 5 or 6 songs “in the can”, as they say in the business. What business? Beats me, but every time I sit down I’ll have at least one thing done or nearly done. That feels good.

So what does it sound like? Well, I’m recording the bulk of it with a Arturio Microbrute, a crappy Casio keyboard, a couple songs with some live bass(my Rickenbacker), and its all going onto an ancient Tascam 4-track recorder. Why a 4-track cassette recorder? The simplicity. I like the tactile feel of a 4-track cassette recorder. I’m limited with my options, so I’m forced to be simple in my process.

I guess none of that really answers “what does it sound like?” It sounds like weird electronic songs. I had an epiphany a week or so ago that I wanted this to be my version of Boards Of Canada. Whether it sounds anything like BoC is up for debate, but that idea gave me a direction and purpose. I’m creating these simple beats with my Casio’s drum sounds and making loops with my Boss RC-20 Loop Station. I started to spiral into a gear crisis this past week. I was convinced I need some kind of sampler/sequencer thing where I could sample instruments which would help me with more options in making these instrumental songs. Went so far as to ask some people I know about what’s the best sampler thing for the price.

I spent waaay too much time obsessing over this. I put a lock down on that and decided I was going to just make due with what I have for the remainder of this project. Maybe the next one I’ll upgrade a bit. For now I’m happy with what I’ve got. I am going to buy a multi-effects pedal so I can run my keys through it while recording. But that’s it.

I recently moved my little lo-fi effects set up to upstairs in the room where my wife is sewing. She brought home this old desk from work and put it in front of the window in the bedroom. Today I set everything up. It’s a fantastic little spot. Natural light, above ground, and just a general feeling that I’m not buried alive under the house trying to be creative. Since we’ve lived here(going on 26 years) I’ve always had a recording/practice space downstairs. For most of those 26 years it’s worked out great. But lately I’m just not feeling the creative juices down there. I don’t need drum sets and amps to create this music. Just a minimal space, really. I’m hoping to start mixing down these tracks soon, so when I do I’ll share a song or two here.

Saturday morning the wife and I drove 35 minutes north to the quaint town of Goshen. They’ve revitalized their downtown and have made it a great place to shop and eat and just soak up the great downtown vibes. It’s taken a few years to get where they are now, but I think it was worth it. Woldruff’s is our favorite shoe store and I was feeling like a new pair of kicks so a Saturday morning cruise was in order.

Woldruff’s is smack dab in the middle of downtown Goshen. It’s the kind of shoe store my mom would take me to when I was a kid to buy shoes. The one I remember most vividly as a kid was Moore’s Shoe Store, which was in downtown Warsaw. You walked in and there was a wide staircase that went downstairs. I think the kids stuff was upstairs. There was also Klines, which we had a mens and womens Klines. Within the last 15 years we had Blue Moon Shoes downtown which was a higher end shoe store. They sold Keen, Dansko, Birkenstock, and a few others. It was really, really nice. They closed, though. The standalone shoe store made shoe shopping feel special. Sure, the convenience of buying shoes where you could also buy Kraft Mac n Cheese, school supplies, and a case of beer was nice, but something got lost. Quality, sure. But more than that the comfort of dealing with someone that knows shoes and knows what’s best for your feet.

Anyways, I grabbed a slick pair of On tennis shoes. You can’t go wrong with On, which are a Swiss shoe company. I never spent the right amount of money on shoes before. I never appreciated an expensive, quality shoe until I bought a pair. Now, I’m a damn shoe snob. You get what you pay for. A $60 pair of shoes will feel like $60 shoes. Meaning, not great. I’ve learned maybe spend a good chunk and your feet will thank you(as well as your podiatrist). Keen and On are where it’s at for me. My feet don’t hurt after being on them for 8 to 10 hours.

After the shoe shopping we drove to The Depot, which is a thrift store in Goshen. I’m not really a thrift store shopper, but my wife wanted to look for some fabric she could use to make some bucket hats. Well, it’s a Saturday and we’ve got nothing to do so I said sure. Of course as soon as we got there I went out on my own in search of some great artifact from yesterday that I just had to have.

Checked out some electronics and found a nice Sanyo single cassette deck for a stereo system. $25. It was cheap, but not cheap enough. Especially since I already have two decks at home that both sort of work. I also found a box with some old Tyco train cars. My brother has an old set from when he was a kid. It was a Coca-Cola train, which the engine and caboose were both red and had the Coca-Cola name on them. The other cars were other sodas. Pretty cool. This one I found had “Jello” on it. It was too small or I would have bought it for my brother to add to his collection.

Of course they had a music section, and it was an extremely sad one. The vinyl seemed like it was all just the absolute worst you’d find molding in the basement of an abandoned library or halfway house. Burl Ives, The Chuck Wagon Band, Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, and so, so many terrible religious albums. The smell was overwhelmingly dank. Like humid basement dank. I wanted to take a bath after touching the stuff.

In the end my wife left with a bag full of old mens shirts for her hat experiment. I left with nothing and that was completely fine.

I’m once again in the position of noticing that time continues to fly by. The summer seemed to have just begun and we’re now nearing the end of July. It’s been one of those summers where I feel like no major event has occurred to mark the occasion of summer break. No trips have been made and no grand gestures of vacation-dom has happened. It’s just been kind of ‘meh’. More than anything I’ve been reminded of just getting older. Whether it’s the family dog(coming up to 12 years in our lives this October), or my own aches and pains, or the kids now all almost adults, I’m getting hints and notions of aging and it feels kind of sad.

Before we left for shoe shopping Saturday morning we had a hell of a doozy of a storm. 60 mile an hour gusts, torrential rains, and some serious lightening. Fortunately no downed trees, just some limbs. Apparently my parents had half of a tree fall on their back fence. My mom is 73, while my dad will be 76 in August. Instead of calling us for help he went out there with an axe and started chopping limbs. He nearly dropped from heat exhaustion. I didn’t hear about any of this till the next day. My 19-year old visited with them Saturday and my mom told her about it. I live a walk away from them and they didn’t call. This is the kind of thing that 10 years ago my dad had done it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Today, it nearly killed him. Talk about stark reminders of age and the passing of time.

I think I have enough common sense to call for help when I need it. Even now at 48(going on 49) I’m going to ask for help. Sure, I am my father’s son and will do stupid things that I shouldn’t do on my own. But just a month ago is a good example. I took some days off to take down a playset in the back. My 17-year old helped me with most of the “tearing down”. That project went much smoother that way. Help is good. Help is essential to aging with just an ounce of grace.

In the end time will get you. It’s an inevitability we can’t avoid. I hope that when it’s my time I’ve done the most with my life. I don’t want to waste any more time doing things that don’t enrich my head an heart. I’m just about at the point to cut a good chunk of the whole social media cancer from my life. I feel its pull and its antagonizing pokes and I don’t like it. That’s not enriching time. That’s fast food for the soul. It clogs the emotion arteries, causing empathy to get stuck somewhere it can’t flow properly. We become numb when we used to feel so much more. Making music, reading books, watching movies, getting out and breathing the sweet, sweet air of life. That’s where I want to be. That’s where I need to be.

I want my life to be a series of patchworks, that when I get to the end it creates this amazing quilt. A lot of small, beautiful things that add up to this one giant kaleidoscope of good, bad, and ultimately worthy moments sewn together. Not everything is good. The dark patches are those moments of fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger. But they’re surrounded by so many bright and colorful patches. That makes a complete life. We can’t control it all, but what we can control should be moments we look back on and remember with a smile.

Time is inevitable. What we fill it with is not.

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