Monday, October 30, 2006

Well, I'm Beginning To See The Light

Today's title comes to you courtesy of the Velvet Underground, or more accurately, Milwaukee's own Velvet Underground Project, a VU tribute band packed with friends of mine who I went to see Friday night. "Hey, Miles," I said to my bass player as I walked into the bar like I owned the place, and went directly to where he was setting up to play for the night. "I've got callouses!" I held up my left hand to prove it, and he high-fived it.

I went there with a goal in mind: I was going to formally tell my band's bass player and drummer (who also plays with the VUP) that we will begin rehearsing in January, with an eye toward playing out in April. I said this loudly enough so that others would hear this, and that was the point.

One thing I've learned through this blogging process is that "This Time For Sure" is working because I've gone public. I've said before that I'm not exactly where I'd hoped I'd be by now, but I'm doing better than I've done in many many years, and its because I'm doing it publicly. I refuse to fail publicly. Private failure has been acceptable for me because I can usually cover it up. I can get by. In fact, I'm a damn good faker. People think I'm some kind of good guitar player -- in fact, Friday night a friend was telling me this. "No, I'm not, " I told him. "I'm creative, yes. But I'm really not a good guitar player. I am a magnificent fake." Further to this evidence was a woman who said she couldn't believe I weighed more than 200 pounds. I explained, "I wear it well. I'm dressed in black most of the time, and I know how to call attention to my assets and downplay the fat. But yes, I'm over 200 pounds." When you've been living on that river in Egypt as long as I have, you learn how to turn your shanty shack into a fabulous condo. Yes, I am the Martha Stewart of De Nile! And that's my problem. I've held my goals so privately so that I allow myself to fail because people don't see me failing, and somehow that's OK.

But if I put my specific goals out there, and make them public, my ego won't allow me to fail. THe key is specificity: "oh we'll play sometime" doesn't cut it. I can always weasel out. No, setting a date -- January (and I will indeed get more specific when we know what our schedules area) sort of jolted me into it, very This Time For Sure.

"Awww, we were just going to be starting this Kinks' tribute band, but I guess now..." Andy Pagel, my drummer started saying. I interupted: "And what's stopping you? For I am not a Jealous and Vengeful Diva. You can play in a Kinks tribute band. I *love* the kinks, and I'm glad such a band is going to exist." (You're not going to just play Lola and You Really Got Me. You're someday going to play The Village Green Preservation Society from start to finish and I'm going to be there to hear it!) But the fact that it gave Andy pause turned the Diva on in me. He realizes I'm serious this time. It wasn't, "Well, you'll have to work around the fact that I've got yet another band," no it was almost "I'll put this other thing on hold while we make Loblolly work." No you won't. I'm not putting any of the rest of my creative life on hold, I thought, clutching my camera, while I make Loblolly work. You won't either. But thanks for taking this -- and me --seriously.

Something happened Friday night-- and I kind of knew it would -- when I went out. I had my hair done the previous weekend, by Annette The Best Colorist In Town and I asked to her really blonde me up. Walking into the Up and Under and going straight back to my drummer and bass player and announcing this loudly and suddenly thinking "I am not a Jealous and Vengeful Diva" and BAM! That I was thinking of myself as a Diva at all is significant. I'm a blonde again! I'm a diva again! I didn't just slither in and meekly query: "Hey, would it be cool if we started practicing maybe sort of and see what happens?" No, I said we ARE going to rehearse in January, and we are GOING to play in April or so and that was that. No wishy washy bullshit that I can weasel out of.

I'd set expectations high, so, grabbing my camera, I retreated back into my comfort zone and played rock and roll photographer all night, forcing myself to learn how to shoot low light digital if it killed me. It was also a nice thing to hide behind while I contemplated the public goals I set for myself: AHHHHHHHGGGHGGH! What the hell did I just do? I'll tell you what I just did. I stopped pussyfooting around, that's what I did. And I still have my camera, this nice little lens I can hide behind while I work this performance thing up.

What does this all have to do with weight loss? Well, a huge part of it is moving out of that condo on Da Nile, and believing in yourself. Saturday morning I woke up, and ate a nutritious breakfast, and headed to the Y and worked out. Saturday night I put down the better part of a pizza, and only snacked on a few pieces of halloweeen candy as I took the kids out trick-or-treating, consciously thinking how great I am for not downing an entire bag of Tootsie Rolls. Sunday I did a marvelous bike ride, and again ate nutritionally sound and well. I skipped all the leftover ice cream we had from Stella's birthday. I've got a goal now, its not weight related, but my weight -- and how I feel about myself -- is an element of it. Practicing my instrument and writing songs, in a way, is a discipline that is very similar to weight loss. I cannot go on stage weighing 200 pounds. No no no no no no no. And I needed something to kick me into that discipline. I've got my camera and my writing to be comfortable in while I discipline myself in music and weight loss. The comfort can't come from food: no the comfort zone has to be non-food related, and my camera and this blog are my comfort zones. (and I'm kicking myself out of my photographic comfort zone by going digital, and it actually feels goo. Kicking ones self out of a comfort zone is scary, but exciting, and thus, good.)

Yes,After I wrote this, I did indeed get my guitar out and started practcing. Writing that post really helped jolt me, and not just because of the public and private feedback I got from it either. (But let's not write that off. We're out here writing because we need feedback, and I got it in droves. Everybody who wrote me needs to know how much I appreciated it and how much I am already applying their advice). Writing it, just like this post, was cathartic. But back to that git-tar: I'm marginally remembering my scales, and the chords pretty much came back to me. I successfully remembered how to play Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" and a few Velvet Underground songs at that! (As I mention in the other blog, if you can play the Lou Reed songbook, you're ready for Rock and Roll). Now I just have to remember how the hell my own songs go.

Oh, and we turned back the clocks this weekend, so when I got my bike out to ride to work this morning, the sun had already begun to come up (before this weekend it was still dark.) I listened to "Beginning to See the Light" in my ipod while I rode in and a gorgeous sunrise over the lakefront bathed me in purply-orange lighty goodness. "Some people work very hard, but still they never get it right...well I'm beginning to see the light." No, that verse applied to me last month, but this one applies to me now: "I met myself in a dream, and I just wanna tell you -- everything was alright ... now now now now now now....I'm beginning to see the light!"

1 comment:

BigAssBelle said...

wow. anytime you need inspiration, come back here and reread this, v'ron. this is amazing. you have such a talent. i wish i could hear your music.