Back home from my holiday retreat to Texarkana. Got to see the family. We had a rather non-traditional holiday feast. I grilled fajitas, and it was awesome. Steak and chicken fajitas with the onions and bell peppers, skewered some veggie kabobs with zucchini, tomatoes, and pineapple (yes, I know tomatoes and pineapple are fruits). We also had Spanish rice, refried beans, all the toppings, chips & salsa, and fudge pie for dessert. The house smelled like a Mexican restaurant. So good.
If you’re interested, I can give you the recipe for the marinade I used; you could still taste its citrusy spicy goodness on the meat even after grilling.
Now that I’m back home, it’s time to unwind from the unwinding and spend the last two days of “freedom” before I have to return to work on Monday. Sucks that I have a family holiday in the middle of a week of paid vacation; it’s like three three-day weekends in a row, and each weekend has its own flavor. The first weekend is frustration, the second is exhaustion, and the third hasn’t happened yet.
I took the opportunity Wednesday night to go driving around Texarkana. Instead of driving around to ogle the construction and the new churches that are sprouting up all over the place like pimples, I decided to take my wheels to the far north end of the county to an old haunt of mine.
Oak Ridge Road is a lonely stretch of back road north of Wamba, just off of FM559, where my friends and I in ’96 would hang out with smokes and beers and nothing around us but fields, empty roads, and the stars above. So damned peaceful out there that it’s my place to go for contemplation. It’s a sacred place. And so on occasion I have to go back, to pull the car to the side of the road, get out, gaze at the stars, the moon, the constellations; to feel the cold breeze; to breathe the crystallized air; to be alone with nothing around me but the rolled hay bales standing out in the fields like grazing cattle keeping silent vigil.
Try as I might, I can’t think of a single place here in Austin that I consider sacred. I’m sure there’s somewhere, but nothing comes to mind. I could easily say Epoch, but this place isn’t sacred. It’s just a hangout where, sometimes, someone will hang out with me. Not very sacred. I could say Pease Park since I like walking there, but it’s not really a nightime hangout (well, not for me, anyway). There’s the overlook on Castle Hill, but it’s off limits. The boat ramp on west Lake Austin Blvd is OK, but it’s not quiet, private, or cop-free.
I guess most of my “sacred places” are not really destinations, but journeys, neighborhoods to drive through. All the rich neighborhoods to the west of MoPac, along Exposition. The hills south of the river, along Westlake Drive. West 6th and West Lynn. Those are fun because of the hills and curves, and they afford me the opportunity to turn off and be contemplative, but there’s just nowhere I can sit, watch, observe, turn off and feel. I just don’t feel too welcome anywhere; it’s the problem of urban density, where every property has trespassing rules, where sitting too long is considered loitering. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder for the security guard on his golf cart coming to chase me off. That’s what I hate about this town.
In 2000, just days before I moved away from Texarkana for good, I made it a point to visit my field on Oak Ridge Rd. for one last bit of closure. It was just after sunset, the stars were coming out, and I sat on my trunk while the radio played. As I reflected on my impending life change, the radio belted out the opening strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”, and after all the times I’ve sat through that song waiting on it to be over, it struck a chord with me that night. No matter how my life was about to change, all I had to remember was to stay simple, and I can keep myself sane.
Nine years later, I’m still trying.
OK, so I lied. I’m a lying liar. I’ll be submitting a track to Anal0g.org’s Wires 7. The track is old shit, like 2002 old. Haven’t decided on which old track I’ll submit; I’m leaving that decision to Jared, who will choose 1 of 3 tracks. I tried to write something new, I really did. Fired up all the music gear, had some great ideas, but the frustration level exceeded my ability to deliver by deadline. So there it is. Glass Door will be representing again on Wires.
Worst foot forward.
So, why the frustration? Isn’t music supposed to be fun? Yes, it’s fun. I can sit at the keyboard and noodle all day. But a quirk of my personality raised its ugly head this weekend. So I can ad-lib as long as I want, but the moment I press “Record”, it all turns to shit. My playing, even though it was smooth and flowing, becomes stuttered, off-centered, mashed keys, skipped notes, the works. Fuckup after fuckup after fuckup.
The recording is in the digital domain, so it’s possible to fix it and clean it up, but doing so is tedious; it is the punishment for screwing up while recording. And there’s the frustration. It’s the same frustration I experience when I’m playing for, singing for, dancing for, performing for anyone else. If I screw up, I screw up big and my mental state changes, like a shock of panic jolts me from having the wherewithall to follow through gracefully as if the screwup was intentional.
I would be the gymnast who would walk off the mat when I inevitably smash my face during a flip. Instead of picking back up with the rhythm and playing through to the end, I’d rather stop then and settle with the low scores.
So, something occurred to me. I am not a man, and I have proof.
- I don’t own a house, nor do I pay on a mortgage.
- I am not married, nor have I ever had a fiancé.
- My last girlfriend was over a decade ago.
- I do not have children (sired, hired, or otherwise).
- I hate football. American football.
- I dislike sports, board games, video games, card games.
- I am the most uncompetitive person you know.
So there it is. There can be no other explanation for my complete lack of manly testosterone-drenched wall-punching ground-standing power and respect. It’s so obvious, it’d take a hermaphroditic transgendered eunuch on hormone replacement therapy to not see it.
According to my friend Jared, who runs the Anal0g.org Wires music series, the submission deadline for the next Wires release, #7, is Thanksgiving day. That’s two weeks from now. Given that it took me 3 weeks last time to write “Stars In the Window” and a few more days of anguish over the sonic mix before I was finally happy with it (only to have it get messed up during the audio sweetening on the final compilation), I’m not sure I can commit to doing a track. So I’m having doubts about submitting something on this round. Just not feeling it.
I know I’ve recently put together my music rig, and I’ve had some great fun noodling with clean sounds, novel melodies, and the first interesting chord progressions in my life, but I just don’t know if I want to throw myself into the project and stress about deadlines when I have to do the same thing every day at work. Yeah yeah, I know, I know, I’m pulling the “I Have a Life” card. I have to. If Elleinad can do it, so can I.
Jared says Glass Door is a staple in the Wires series, and I’m glad he feels that way. But I’m not convinced enough this round to commit to a new track. Sorry, old friend. A little less radio silence on the chat front could’ve helped.