Highlight from last night

NOTE: This was meant to be posted Thursday, 25 July 2013 but time constraints, technical difficulties and the simple fact that life sucks has led to its delay.

At the coffee shop this morning:

“Hey, how are you doing?”
“I’m covered in cat hair.”

Yup, that’s how my day started. I woke up on my friends couch covered in cat hair. To me, that’s the sign of a good night. To me, that’s living. If I could start every day that way I probably would… but then, maybe not. Perhaps the balance of extremes are what allows the extremes to exist.  Let’s face it, I kind of like the extremes. Call it what you like: reckless, irresponsible, blowing off steam, obnoxious or childish but I just call it life.

One of the random strangers I ran into last night asked me what the highlight of my day was. At this point I felt like it was still too early to say but now I can. Here are some highlights from last night:

  • Discussing the happy topics of post traumatic stress and suicide at Grumpy’s bar in Northeast.
  • Seeing Al Sabola’s current rockabilly band, The Bad Companions. I’m not a huge rock rockabilly fan but when it’s done well, and all these players have been doing it well for a long time, it’s a good time for sure.
  • Seeing Courtney Yasmineh perform at the Terminal Bar. She is always a treat to see perform. Check out her website and if you get a chance to see her perform live, please do. Her song “Stones” is in my opinion one of the best songs ever written. Every time I hear it, it gives me chills.
  • Catching a ride for me and my bike to Club Jager with my friend Justice. Just crazy timing but I love how things work out sometimes.
  • Remembering how much fun Transmission with DJ Jake Rudh can be and how I really do enjoy all the beautiful people there.
  • Eating Pizza Luce Pizza. Okay, by this time I was pretty wasted and I have no idea what was on it; pretty sure there was meat but it was delicious.
  • But the number one highlight of my day was receiving a text from a friend who was having a rough day. She said she spent the evening reading through my blog and wanted me know that it helped her a lot. Knowing that something I have done has helped someone else is the best news I can get.

Not looking back

So now that my daughter is safely returned to her mother’s apartment it is time for me to look back on the past week and a half as a full time parent and reflect on what this experience has meant to me.

… Ah, fuck that! I’m moving on and looking forward. Yes, I love my daughter and it was absolutely wonderful having her here. The time actually went by really quick and I’m going to miss having her here but at the same time there is a lot going on in my life that I’m eager to getting back to.

I will say that yesterday was a nearly perfect day. The day started with my daughter and I biking to the bus stop. We placed our bikes on the rack in the front of the bus and rode downtown. From there we biked to MCTC where her summer camp is. I dropped her off and headed to Moose & Sadie’s for breakfast and to do some writing. I hadn’t been on my bike in a week and it felt so good to be riding again.

I was also meeting Venus at the cafe for one of our band strategy meetings. Venus hasn’t been feeling the most productive lately since so much energy has gone into all this tax audit bullshit and I completely understand that. Still, I think when she looks back on this year she will see it as I do; a year of great transition and re-birth. I told her that I think she is doing all the right stuff and to just keep at it. Most of what she is doing is focused on herself and her art and less on the band. Venus is really coming into her own and receiving recognition as Venus de Mars, artist not just “Venus of All The Pretty Horses”.

I also told Venus that I would be working more on my own music and my own artistic career. This does not mean that the band is breaking up or going on hiatus or anything of the sort. It simply means that time spent doing band stuff will be carved out of what we are doing with the rest of our lives rather than putting the rest of our lives on hold so that we can be available for band stuff. This isn’t really a change, it’s just an acknowledgment of current reality.

After that I got to have a drink with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile. She’s one of my favorite crazy/beautiful people who has been going through some shit because she doesn’t fit in with this world and can’t understand why that is wrong. Neither can I.

After that I picked my daughter up from camp and we biked home along the Grand Rounds trail. It’s a fantastic and beautiful ride and so wonderful to get to share it with my daughter.

If that had been my day, it would have been perfect. But I still had to drive to Blaine so that my daughter could take care of her cats. That did me in. I fucking hate driving! By the time we got back I had just enough steam in me to stumble through cooking diner before I crashed.

I’m not letting that happen to me tonight. Yes, I spent all day delivering CityPages but now I’m getting on my bike and heading to the bar. Time to get back to my “normal” life.

Making time

I certainly don’t have any super powers when it comes to time management but I do my best. Every moment of every day I’m doing whatever I can do. Sometimes that is more than other times. Sometimes it’s simply different things than I can do at other times. Sometimes is more than one thing at a time; although I usually find that multi-talking causes more problems than it solves. I just can’t stand sitting around or waiting. I’ve tried being more structured and scheduled in my activities but that doesn’t really work for me; I never know what I’ll be up for from moment to moment. All I can do is make the most of each one and call that, “as good as it’s gonna get”.

Through this process some things do fall by the wayside. Sometimes this means that opportunities get lost and sometimes it means that consequences get compounded but no one said life was perfect. Most of the time I find that life carries on just fine, even if it is a bit flawed.

Of course there are some things that really do have to get done no matter what. Yes, we all need to eat, sleep and shit, three things that seem to be a constant distraction from what I really want to be doing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about bullshit administrative tasks that if they are not taken care of will cause everything else to fall apart.

In this case, I’m referring to my issue with the IRS. I know I’ve mentioned it before but here is a little recap and update. I electronically filed my tax return in February. In March I received a letter from the IRS stating that they needed more information from me and to call their toll-free number. After two hours on hold and an hour long discussion I finally got this matter resolved, or so I thought. They said my refund would be delayed another 6 weeks but I still haven’t received it. Adding to this problem is that my son’s financial aid application also got flagged and so needed additional verification. Specifically, they needed my 2012 IRS transcript which doesn’t exist because the IRS has not processed my return yet. I’ve tried several times to get someone from the IRS on the phone with no luck.

I was telling my parents about this last week, expressing my frustration with government agency incompetence and unnecessary policies which do nothing but compound the problems of an already troubled system. Their response was that I needed to take care of this. Right?!? Like I don’t have enough problems of my own without trying to fix the government’s fuck up.

“I don’t have time for that!”

To which they said, “Make time.”

Make time, huh? That is a fascinating concept. What if we could just make time? We have all these devices that are suppose to “save” us time,  not that I’m sure any of them really do, but what if we could actually “make” time. Now that would be awesome. It could be something like a bread maker; throw in a packet of magical time dust, add some water, a couple golden eggs and an hour later you get an hour of time that didn’t exist before. Wouldn’t that be nifty!

Failing in my attempts to make time I resorted to waiting for a moment to arrive in which I could actually do something about this little IRS kerfuffle. That day was yesterday. I had some time to kill while my daughter was at her summer camp so I spent the day downtown harassing government agencies for not doing their job. Oh, I was nice about it but I was insistent and persuasive. It’s funny how tactics that don’t work at all when hitting on a bartender or waitress will work wonders when dealing with government bureaucrats. Even so, the IRS is still going to take 6 to 8 weeks… fuckers!

Don’t worry, I’m a professional

“Wow, that show was amazing!”

“Thanks, that’s what we do. I’m glad you enjoyed it”

Venus de Mars & All The Pretty Horses at the Triple Rock

Venus de Mars & All The Pretty Horses at the Triple Rock

At issue has been whether Venus de Mars is a professional artist or a hobbyist. For anyone who was at our “Audit Hell” benefit show Saturday night at the Triple Rock Social Club there should be no doubt that we put on a professional show. For the Minnesota Department of Revenue the only issue is whether we make money. Well, we made enough money at the benefit show to continue the legal battle so I guess we’ll see whether the court can determine what it means to be a professional. Another memorable quote from the evening:

“Don’t fuck with an artist, they’ll just turn it into art.”

The irony is that this experience may turn out to be a tremendous career builder. It is certainly turning out to be a great community builder. The Triple Rock really went out of their way to make the benefit a huge success. At least 100 artists, writers and musicians have come together to do their part in support of this issue. The local press has also done it’s part in getting the word out. We had write-ups in MN Post, Vita.mn, Star Tribune, L’Etoile as well as a wonderful piece on Minnesota Public Radio. Musicians have also come together to produce at tribute album is support of the cause.

Life in the slow lane

I’m still amazed at how exhausting this domestic life can be. Yesterday, I woke up and drove my daughter to her appointment. Then we went to visit her grandparents in St. Paul for a couple hours. I made a quick trip to Batteries Plus to get a bigger battery for my pedicab gig, then a trip to EMI to rent some lights for the benefit show on Saturday. After that I was done in and took a nap. When I woke up I made dinner for my daughter, we watched an episode of Doctor Who and was all I could do. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy doing this stuff, it just saps my energy in ways that biking and performing don’t. I wanted to do some more writing last night but I didn’t have it in me. Instead, I slept for twelve hours; the whole time dreaming of hauling people around on my pedicab and performing with Venus de Mars & All The Pretty Horses.

Don’t tell a soul

I have a secret. I’m really not into having secrets. I think that they cause nothing but problems. I know that most people have secrets. I actually hold a lot of other people’s secrets and I’m good at keeping secrets. But this is my secret. No one else knows what I know. I didn’t plan for it to be a secret. I expected to get caught. But I didn’t. So now I have this secret. What do I do?

Like anything else in my life I’m going to treat it as a gift. I’m going to see what I can learn from it. If I’m called out on this secret I’m going to come clean. I really don’t  believe that it is possible to keep a secret. Chances are someone already knows my secret and is keeping it for me even without my knowing about it. Everybody knows something that no one else knows and someone knows everything that is out there to be known and anything you think is a secret is probably known to someone whether you know it or not.

When I think about the current debate over public surveillance this is what comes to mind. I don’t give a shit about surveillance or what anybody knows about me. The fact is most people don’t really care what I’m doing. What does concerns me is that a harmless, loving person like myself still probably breaks the law 6 times a day whether by accident, through ignorance or with benign intent. If someone really wanted to label me a criminal, they could. Fuck, anyone could be labeled a criminal.

I think that we have created far too many laws and in doing so have made it nearly impossible for anyone to be a law-abiding citizen.  But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe laws are the only thing keeping us from plummeting into complete chaos and we really just need more of them. I don’t know but I’m up for a debate.

By the way, the thing I did which I am keeping secret is just embarrassing, not illegal.

*The title of this post is a reference to the 1989 Replacements album, the first to feature Slim Dunlap on guitar.  The Replacements released a new record this year titled, “Songs for Slim”, to raise money for the guitarist who is recovering from a stroke.

This normal life is killing me

I’ve spent the entire day at home and I think that I have completely lost my shit and started screaming and swearing at thin air more times today than I have in the past year. Okay, maybe not in the past year combined, but more times in one day than I have in the past year. This domestic shit is just not for me anymore. There are way too many things to do when I am at home and I try to do them all at once which leads to one disaster after another.

Today I have managed to do laundry, wash dishes, mow and weed-whack my lawn, clean various things around the house, practice bass for the upcoming benefit show as well as my own songs just because I could. I also spent a substantial amount of time just hanging out with my 14 year old daughter. By the time I was done cooking and serving her dinner it was 6:30 and I was wiped out. I wound up taking a two hour nap.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having my daughter here and there is much about the domestic life that I really appreciate. It’s just the complete opposite of everything I am currently trying to achieve.

Still, I’m fully prepared to adapt if things were to change. There is a part of me that half expects my daughter’s mother to not return from her vacation. That is how I wound up caring for my son full time when he was her age. His mother left for Canada to visit family and never came back. I hope that is not what happens this time but the women in my life do have a tendency to try and outdo one another. It’s kind of fucked up.

In any case, I’m going to make the most of this week of semi-sortof-normalcy. If nothing else it will give me some perspective and a reminder of what I am trying to move past. I’ve been here, I’ve done it, it’s not the best situation for me so if I have the opportunity to change it I owe it to myself and everyone around me to at least try.

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