You must have had so much fun

Sunrise in the deep playa, Burning Man 2014

I’m back from touring with Against Me!, Burning Man and Shangri-la. I see the awe in people’s eyes as the ask me about my journey. It certainly has been an amazing journey. I am extremely grateful for all that I experienced over the past month. I had never been to Burning Man  before nor had I been on a tour of this caliber.  Very few people will ever have the opportunities bestowed upon me over the past month. They want to live vicariously through me. They want to hear my tales of adventure and triumph. They imagine me having the time of my life. Well I did, but you know what? It’s still just life and as we know… life suck. I think the imagined is probably far more exciting that the reality so in an attempt to be kind I will let you imagine how much fun I must have had.

I will say that life on the road sucks a whole lot less than life at home. I still don’t know about this concept of fun however. I enjoyed virtually every minute of

[I started writing this on September 9th and that is as far as I got before I broke into tears.]

The reality is that being back in Minneapolis has been really painful for me. I’ve spent my whole time back here trying to figure out why. The obvious answer is that I have depression, that I’m mentally ill, that there is something wrong with me. I’m fine with the depression label. I’ve got the t-shirt and I wear it proudly. What I reject is that having depression is somehow a defect. That there is something wrong with me. That I need to be fixed. If it is what I am, then so be it. If anything, it’s a super-power that I just need to learn how to control. There is no need for judgement about it.

Feelings are not wrong. Feeling are guideposts. They help us understand our world. But, feelings can cloud our perception of things. They can become overwhelming and distort our view of reality. They can accentuate each other and create a feedback loop to the point where everything just looks shitty. I’ve been there. I know about how that works and it can cause a whole lot of problems. When our choices are based on a false perception of reality we make some pretty fucked up choices. Nature has a way of correcting this though. In time, after a series of fucked up choices, reality and our perception of reality merge and we no longer feel insane. I think that is the world in which we live in, and it’s kind of fucked up.

Depression is not wrong but this pain which I’m feeling is an indication that something is wrong. And oh boy is there a lot of shit wrong! That is reality! My goal, is to not add to it. One solution would be to do nothing but to my brain, my depression brain, that literally means death. Now I know some pretty spiritually enlightened people who have become fairly good at doing nothing. I just don’t think that that is my path. It sounds awfully selfish to me. I’m not judging. I have no problem with people being selfish in this way. It’s all done in the name of God after all so it’s not really selfish, right?. I just think that we are all God so it looks selfish to me. Also, I kind of like people. If I’m going to serve God I’m going to do it by loving people. If I have to put anything out into the world I want it to be love.

So back to this idea of fun. I have a hard time with this concept of fun. It seems really important to a lot of people but I don’t worry about it that much. I have fun sometimes but it’s never my motivation. I don’t go out trying to have a “good time”. It just kind of happens sometimes. My motivation, first of all is to survive. For me, that means doing something, anything. My intention is for it to be meaningful and purposeful. My intent is to give. I want the fuel which puts a fire under my ass to be love. If along the way I have some fun, if I have a good time… that just a bonus.

So what do I find fun? I guess I can find fun in just about anything if I look for it. Breathing is pretty amazing if you think about it. I don’t need to go on a national tour. I don’t need to go to Burning Man. I don’t need to go to Harmony Park. That said, the most fun experience I had was sitting outside our camp at Burning Man, sipping my morning coffee while three naked women biked by. I’m pretty sure that if I started every day that way I wouldn’t have depression. Unfortunately you don’t see much naked biking  in Minneapolis. As amazing as that was, it still couldn’t compare to the awesomeness of watching the sun peak it’s head over the mountain range at the edge of the playa while sitting atop scaffolding that we weren’t suppose to be on. Some would say that I am wrong for this but I don’t see how that could possible be true.

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Do what you do

After realizing that life has no meaning or purpose other than life itself; after realizing that I have no choice but to live I am faced with the question of how. I have given myself permission to just do it.

I play in a rock band so Saturday night I played a show. I spent all day getting ready not because I wanted everything to be perfect but because it’s what I do. I had no expectations and nothing to prove. I was just going to do what I do. I made some mistakes, not everything was perfect but it was by all accounts a great show. People loved it and I loved the accolades but I would have done it regardless of whether anyone cared. It’s just what I do.

After a show I’m often asked if I had fun and I routinely say, “Yeah, it was a blast!”. Honestly, I don’t even know if I enjoy playing shows. I know if I’m not playing shows I’m disatisfied but I don’t think I play shows because I find them fun. I think being me is fun. I think I play shows because it’s what I do.

On Sunday I drove pedicab for the Vikings-Packers game at the Metrodome. I enjoyed being able to help lost out-of-towners get back to their hotel. I enjoyed giving a ride to a woman who was headed to my very first apartment building in Minneapolis. I enjoyed being the highlight of some people’s day, although I must admit that for Vikings fans, the bar is pretty low.

I’m often asked if I love my job. I tell them that I do, very much. This is way too much work.  I could never do it if I didn’t love it. I think underlying this question is a sense of guilt. Some people express this by stating that they wish they could help me pedal. I tell them to just relax and enjoy the ride. Just let me do what I do. They will have a chance to do what they do when the ride is over.

Friday night and last night I drank until four in the morning. I do enjoy drinking and I’m pretty good at it. It’s what I do when I don’t have anything else to do. In many ways it serves the same purpose as playing shows or driving pedicab. It’s just a lot more fun. When I’m drunk I can just be me. When I’m drunk I live in a world without fear and with no consequences. When I’m drunk I can do anything I want… except play music or drive pedicab.

But I am not what I do. What I do is thoughtless, it is habit. Life is not found in our habits but in what happens when we are really paying attention. I’m going to do what I do but I don’t want to mistake that for living. I don’t want to confuse what I do with who I am. I am a vessel for life.

 

Wind out of my sales

I have had to deal with all sorts of weather while driving pedicab. As an all-year biker I have a lot of experience with this, but every years, it still comes as a cruel reminder of mother nature’s power. Biking in the cold sucks. Biking in snow sucks. Biking in rain sucks. Still, you can fight your way through it. The one weather condition that will stop you dead in your tracks is high winds.

Last night around 10pm it started to rain lightly. It wasn’t enough to really bother me or the people walking around but it was enough to make taking a pedicab a less desirable option. I headed back to the garage to put on the canopy and rain tarp hoping the rain would continue. It did for about an hour and I was able to pick up a couple rides as a result of the rain.

After the rain died down the wind picked up. Now that I had a canopy on my cab it was like biking around a with a parachute behind me. The winds were gusting to 40 miles-per-hour. Even on a straight away, I would drop into the lowest gear, and still struggle to move the bike. With the wind behind me however, I could just put my feet up and let mother nature push half a ton of bike and riders down the road. That was kind of fun.

I had my first experience where I really felt like someone took advantage of me last night. Pedicabs will often congregate at The Local to pick up riders. There is always a lot of foot traffic going by and since we are there so often, most people know what to expect. I hate waiting in line to get a ride but the rides I get out of the Local are usually pretty serious riders so it’s worth the wait when I’m willing to do it.

So last night, when a sharply dressed, clean cut guy in his late twenties hopped  in my cab and asked to be taken to the Butcher and the Boar, I thought nothing of it. When we got to his destination he handed me money and I thanked him. Then I looked at what he gave me. It was a one dollar bill. What the fuck?!? Seriously? I mean, I took a couple other rides where people gave me a dollar or less but they let me know that they didn’t have any money before hand. I don’t have a problem with that. This guy clearly had money. He was just gaming the system. He was being a douche-bag!

I’ve got to say that it didn’t sit well with me. I know that my way of doing things leaves me open to being taken advantage of. I know that there are people like him in the world. Still, it shocked me. Most people are not like him. I could have gone in and confronted him. I could have told him that it was a dick-head move, but I didn’t. I let it go. I know who he is and it won’t happen again. If this is the way he acted with me I’m sure that he is this way with other people as well and probably has bigger problems than me confronting him on his behaviour. Scamming people may be one of his few joys in the world. That would be sad but it would explain why this good looking guy didn’t have a date on a Friday night.

All in all, my night turned out really well. Having music was a big hit and made my job even more enjoyable. I got to help people, show people a good time, received several hugs and a couple kisses and even had two very attractive women simultaneously give me a back massage as I rode. Yup, pedicab driving is the life for me!

Nights like these

After a very relaxing soak in the hot tub, my muscles finally released from two long days spent crammed into a sedan, I smoked a cigarette, finished my beer and was ready for bed. I slipped into my skull and cross-bone footie pajamas and took my place on the couch. Jules checked in with me to make sure I had everything I needed. I told her that one advantage to having CFS, perhaps the only advantage, is that I have no problem sleeping. It is true, at least for me, at least now. I know many people with CFS also suffer from insomnia and I did in the beginning but now I live everyday to the fullest, push myself to the limit and sleep like a baby.

Last night began no different. Jazz was on the blowup mattress beside me. I asked him what time it was to which he replied, “11:50”. It has now occurred to me that he didn’t take into account the time zone change and that it was actually 10:50 pm but in any case I closed my eyes and was sawing logs by eleven.

Now it was my turn for disrupted sleep. The night before Jazz spent much of the night in agony after eating some bad jalapeno peppers; Venus was tossing and turning all night worrying about her audit. Last night I got a taste of both.

Usually I can get a good six hours of sleep before my bladder sounds the alarm. Last night I only made it til 1 am. I woke up, checked my phone and stumbled to the bathroom. At least Jazz was sound asleep. I returned to the couch and laid down. It took me a little longer to fall asleep this time, but maybe only half an hour, although my head was starting to fill with the thoughts of the day before.

At 2:30 am I awoke again. My stomach gurgling, my intestines in knots and a pressure building upon my sphincter with the force of Niagara Falls. Perhaps it was just a fart but not wanting to take the chance nor risk poisoning my drummer I ran once again to the bathroom. I will spare you the details but let’s just say I made camp on that toilet for the next 20 minutes eliminating the toxins that had built up in my bowels.

I laid back down but quickly realized that I would not be falling asleep anytime soon. I figured I might as well go have a smoke and work through the thoughts in my head. I’ve been really troubled by what Venus is going through with the IRS. It seems like they are asserting that the life of an artist is not a worthy profession, that it’s not a legitimate way of life. This scares the hell out of me as I imagine it does many independent artists. After 14 solid years of battling CFS I know that the only thing I can do is be an artist and philosopher, and the world needs artists and philosophers. Even if I’m not the best artist or philosopher it is still the only thing I have to offer. Sure, I’m a good father, I’m a good friend; but as a career, as a vocation, as a way of live… this is all I have left. So why do I feel guilty? Whose voice is in my head because it sure isn’t mine.

Jazz made a comment last night suggesting that the IRS is coming after Venus because they believe she is trying to write off her vacations as a business expense. “Really?!?” I thought. People consider this a vacation? As insane as this supposition sounds to me, I understand where it is coming from. We do enjoy what we do. But isn’t that suppose to be the goal. Aren’t you suppose to do what you love? Aren’t you suppose to love what you do? When did enjoying your job become a bad thing? And honestly, this is not a vacation. I can’t even remember the last time I took a fucking vacation. At this point I’m not even sure what a vacation is. Sure, what we do may look like fun from the outside, and we do have fun, but I think a more accurate description of what we have is life fulfillment, at least on a good day. The rest of the time all I can say is that we have sustenance, but that’s enough to keep me going.

At 4 am the yawns find their way to my chest and I fall back to sleep. It’s now 7 am and life is beginning to return to the world. I decide to retire the fight, get up, make coffee and start my day. We have another 6 hours in the car before we reach Scottsdale, AZ. That’s where we get to do what we came to do. Tonight however, Venus has a solo show which means that Jazz and I get to kick back and enjoy ourselves. Hopefully I can squeeze in a few more winks during the drive because I do plan on having fun tonight; as much fun as I can muster.

Leaving Albuquerque

Leaving Albuquerque

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