Jan 8, 2014

Adios Amigos.

Hello Readers 
No question to answer today, just a quick statement with no hoopla or fanfare: It is time for another hiatus, possibly a long one, but I don't know for sure. A confluence of life, work, location and even computer changes have conspired to help make this decision for me... and since this blog was started in early January of '08 it seems like the start of a new year is a good time to bring it to a (possibly temporary, possibly not) close.

For the past five years, I have taken a lot of pleasure in cranking out a post every Wednesday. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and yeah, I do hope I managed to help at least a few people with my (sometimes) long and rambling answers.  

I will keep the site up and running -- and keep the ebook for sale, of course -- so feel free to browse, but I have to concentrate on some other personal issues and professional projects for a while. 

Stay strong everyone. Remember that our biggest foe is usually ourselves and that, when faced with the chaos of an unhinged world, an uncertain future and the remorseless grinding wheels of time, there is really only one choice... as a friend of mine said recently:

Be Infinitely Brave !

Happy New Year and good luck everyone... and thank you.

Jan 1, 2014

Motley Crue d' etat

Dear AAP -
I've been in a punk band for 3 years. I don't want to sound like a dick and call it MY band but I'm the one that originally got everyone together, and I've almost always ended up handling the details of shows - either booking them for us, or creating the shows for us to play in. We are a PUNK band. That is the whole point. But lately, it seems like everyone else in the band is getting into Metal and wanting us to grow our hair and change the songs we play to sound more metal and the songs everyone is writing are getting more metal and since I'm the only one who disagrees I'm like the asshole who is going to get replaced, from the band I started. I think it is all because in our town the metal bands are considered cooler and the girls like them better or something. I thought the whole point was to not be 'cool' but to be punk rock. Isn't there some kind of way to remind them of what we are - a punk band and not some dumbass metal band. - No Metal.

Dear NM -
Welcome to the wonderful world or irreconcilable creative differences.

A band, any band, is always an evolving thing that is more than the sum of its parts, but it is always made up of individuals with their own ambitions and agendas. It doesn't matter who started what, or who works the phones, not really. I should know. I've been squeezed out of a few bands in my time for similar reasons. Pretty much everyone has. 

There are a million stories of punk bands evolving into Metal bands. The reasons are pretty standard, and you mentioned one of the most common ones: interest from the opposite sex. The other common one is equally unavoidable: Sometimes people just become better musicians, sometimes even, >gasp< taking lessons to become better guitarists, drummers etc. ...when that happens, when punks become "musicians" they start wanting to branch out and play more "challenging" stuff than the standard 1-4-5 in 4/4 time... and hey, even bands that agree with each other musically often break up for other 'creative' reasons, often due to the members' differing levels of ambition. I've seen great bands break up because one guy decided to go to college (or grad school, or fishing) even though they were all on the same page musically. You just never know - but that is no reason to NOT do it. 

Does it suck when you're the odd man out? Yes. Is it the end of the world? ...only if you let it be. Instead of trying to change all their minds, why not seize the initiative and form yourself another band of like-minded punks? Nothing lasts forever and this is especially true of our places in bands. Instead of clinging to the rotting, metalic husk of your previous dream/band, move forward, look to the future and find a new group of musicians who think the same way that you do about these things. ...of course, keep in mind that THAT band won't last forever either. Don't be bitter. Whatever their reasons for wanting to turn into a metal band, I can promise you this: their reason ISN'T just to make you look like an asshole. I'm willing to bet they wish you would get on board and join in the aqua-net soaked fun... but you have to be true to yourself. Always. The idea is to keep playing, and keep being authentic. If you handle that, the rest takes care of itself. Usually. 

Dec 25, 2013

It is always the "season for giving"

Dear Ask A Punk -
I am writing this at 4am. It is about 18 degrees outside. There is snow everywhere. In about three hours my alarm is going to go off. In about four and a half hours I'll be at work. In about five hours I'll be wanting to slap nearly all of my fellow employees. I don't really hate my life but I hate hate hate my job and I can't see a way out of it. I like living where I am, but it is a small kind of place and there are not a lot of employment options for a person with my particular skill set, not if I hope to get paid the same kind of money I'm currently getting. There are always shitty jobs to be had anywhere. I want a change but I don't want that change to HAVE to be two or even three steps backward. I can't afford it mentally or financially. Maybe I shouldn't even complain. A lot of my friends are working worse jobs, for less money and they have to deal with real world things like husbands and kids and sick parents. I have a boyfriend, no kids and my parents are still pretty young-ish and healthy. I am just sick of the status quo and I'm not getting enough sleep. What are my options here? - Likely To Snap.

Dear LTS - 
Just so we're clear here - You don't want to move and you would rather not quit/switch jobs, but you want things to change. Sound about right? ... that doesn't give me a lot to work with, but I'll give it a shot. 

It doesn't sound like you really hate your job, more like you're bored with it and the annoying co-workers that go along with that particular gig, whatever it might be. You don't want to move, but clearly you're not enjoying winter weather. hmmm. Here are some options.

1) Take ALL of your vacation & personal days now, or at least as soon as you can. Book a trip, a REAL trip to some destination you've always wanted to see - a warmer one I'm guessing, and GO - for as long as possible.

2) Beyond even vacation time - Can you take a leave of absence or a sabbatical of some kind? Look into it. 

3) If you haven't accrued some serious time off and are more-or-less stuck with the grind, you could profoundly change how you spend your non-work hours. You're awake at 4am anyway, why not go to the gym instead of killing the pre-dawn hours online? If you have evenings or weekends free why not  pursue other interests? - Take some classes in something you've never done before. Engage in a new, serious and time-consuming hobby. Get a second, part-time gig doing something completely unrelated to your main job. 

...or better yet: 

4) Volunteer somewhere. Seriously. Nothing would make you feel better about yourself, your life and your day job than donating your time and perhaps even your expertise to people who need your help. -- I have no idea what it is you do, but I know for a fact that someone, or some group, out there needs you. 

Being just bored and/or vaguely annoyed with your current life/job means you've still got it better than most people these days. The best way to remind yourself of that, get over yourself a little bit and sleep a whole lot better is to go out there and figure out a way to help other people. 

Dec 18, 2013

Blank Flag

Dear AAP-
Another year is almost over. Last January I wrote down fourteen things I wanted to accomplish this year and now it looks like I only got ONE of them done, and that was the easiest one. I'm not going to bother writing down here what they were, the point is I feel like I just sqandered another year, wasted time and space and air doing none of the things I wanted to do. When I was younger (I'm 32) I could have blamed something else - my parents, or my family in general, or waiting to finish school or waiting to find a real job or anything else, but now I'm just someone who is taking up space and being useless. I hate it, and I'm starting to hate myself, or hate myself even more. I just want to give up, but I feel like I already have. I just know I don't want to bother going through a 2014 if it is going to be just like 2013. It wasn't supposed to be like this, I know that for sure. - Sick of It

Dear SoI -
The Holiday Season and the approach of the New Year can take on a much more negative vibe as we get older. The reality is that life can be more mundane at 30 than we expected it to be back when we were 17 and itching to be 'adult.' That realization can be a blast of cold water to the face and soul. It is called the human condition, and sometimes it blows, no question about it. We are tiny bits of animated matter, a consciousness encased in meat for a few years or decades and it is up to us to figure out why. 

I don't know why either, but I do know this: We're not here to be miserable. The point of existance isn't to suffer through it... The suffering will come to us all sooner or later, that is a certainty (sorry to sound so Buddhist) so believe me, no matter how bad things might seem, they could be much, muuuuch worse. Of the 7 Billion people on the planet, the mere fact that you can type a question and send it to me over the internet is proof that you're having a better time here on earth than at least 5 Billion of your fellow humans. 

...and I know none of this is going to make you feel any better because the simple truth is this: You sound like you're clinically depressed. Nothing bizarre or unique or exotic about that, just a plain drag. The pain you're feeling is real, on a deep psychological level - I'm not going to tell you to get over it. I'm not saying it is all "in your head." I am saying that there is no reason to suffer the whole downhill slide to it's likely end. Seek help. Pick up a phone, or search the internet or call your family and tell someone that you need some assistance. Now... seriously, right NOW. Don't even read the rest of this post/answer first... Go. Google 'depression' or 'local psychological services' or something.    ....I'm also guessing that I'm not telling you something you don't already, on some level, know, am I? Reach out. Immediately. You'll be stunned at how many people want to help you.

I know things are looking bleak (perhaps even dire) on levels from the personal to the global, but I also know this: THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN... don't be so sure 2014 will suck as badly for you as 2013 did. Get some help and you might just be surprised. The Universe stretches out infinitely in both directions of time and space, but we're only here for a few hundred thousand heartbeats (if we're lucky.) ...meaning: We're all going to be dead for a long, looooooong time. No matter what might or might not come after this, odds are that THIS is the good part. Go.