Ok. It’s been about a week. The long and the short of it? I don’t really feel anything. What does that mean exactly? I have no idea. I thought for sure I’d have a mental breakdown by now. I even shuffled around my calendar to allow time for it to happen. Maybe a decade plus of dealing with my many particular idiosyncrasies (addictions and disorders) have finally landed me in that constant zen-like state I so desperately craved. Or maybe I’m in serious denial. Or maybe this is a perfectly acceptable way to feel: Not feeling. I don’t know.
I used to joke with Josh all the time that I could take or leave the band. I was very “whatever” about it. Perhaps the word is: Flippant. It would enrage him. Makes sense seeing as he was the guy who did literally all of the behind the scenes work for the band, in addition to being one hell of a writer. If I remember correctly (and don’t believe a word of anything I try to recall from memory) this mentality continued through at least the first two MCS records, if not the third. Somewhere around 2010 I finally started to refer to myself as a Musician on those entrance and exit cards while traveling abroad, instead of: “Failed Filmmaker.”
I love writing songs. Even more than that I love telling stories. Even more than that I love having an idea, discovering where it starts and ends, and then figuring out how to string it all together. Often times the story shifts on you and refuses to go where you want it to. That’s when you really have to get creative. But it all takes time. Time alone. Alone in a room. A place of your design. Alone with your thoughts and anti-thoughts. Alone in silence and song. It’s almost meditative for me. I listen to the same parts of the demo over and over and over… And I just throw shit at the wall until something sticks (figuratively). But I love this time alone, being frustrated and unable to figure it out… Until eventually I do.
Apologies if this is fragmented. My mind feels fragmented. I feel at any given minute I might explode into a million little pieces. But I know that’s not going to happen. I think it is just me being aware of my anxieties and acknowledging them and then quickly moving on.
What is the point of this? I am not absolutely certain. But I think it starts with me vomiting out all my current thoughts and not-thoughts for any of you who dig reading the thoughts or not-thoughts of someone like me. I’m trying to get better at spontaneity and imperfection. So I’m not going to rewrite this. I’m just going to let it all spill out.
Performing on stage has never been a fully enjoyable experience for me. I’m too in my head to enjoy it like most people claim to. I never seem to have enough of a voice to sing the way I wish I could, and I cannot seem to remember guitar parts or words to my own songs if I go more than a week without playing them. I’m constantly shifting the way I do things while I’m doing them, based on what just happened or didn’t just happen on the last verse, chorus, song, etc… I really wish I could just play and sing without having to do crazy math equations in my head, and just look into the audience and make connections with people in the moment. But instead I am made up of equal parts fear and anxiety, masquerading as someone who is 100% chill and appears to have it totally together.
As I reread everything I’ve just written, I think to myself, “this guys sucks.” I don’t mean to come off as an ungrateful prick who is complaining about getting to play music for nearly 15 years FOR A LIVING. I mean just the opposite of that. And I’ll try to get to it now.
It’s no secret I don’t have the greatest image of myself (I mean, jesus, just listen to the words of any of our songs.) And I have no idea why that is. My parents were wonderful. I had a great childhood. High school both sucked and didn’t suck, but for the most part I have NOTHING to complain about. Yet, somehow I felt broken. And for a while that really messed me up. I thought there was something wrong with me and it sort of fed into this cycle of self-defeating behavior. Alcohol seemed to work for a while. It worked through the writing of the first album for sure. I continued to struggle with both alcohol and myself for two to three more records.
Eventually I accepted EVERYTHING sometime around 2011. Things were very dark though. I was obsessed with death and felt like I wasn’t in my body. That probably sounds weird. What I mean is, I felt as though I were floating through life, almost watching my life through my eyes as though it were someone else’s, like a film or something. Also, it felt like the colors of the world were brighter and each breath I took contained more oxygen than normal. It’s hard to explain… And now I kind of wished I hadn’t tried to. I sound like a lunatic.
It wasn’t until we started writing and recording Panic Stations that I finally found I could revisit old feelings and scenes from my life without being too affected by them. I had been working at this thing (Sobriety, Living in the moment, Self-love, Not being an asshole, etc…) for years and it was finally paying off. I had become an almost complete person. Hell, ten years ago I was playing a show in Scotland and messed up and started crying on stage. CRYING. In the middle of the set. The last few years I started screwing up left and right and was able to finally shake it off and start over (mentally) from whatever moment the screw up occurred.
I know this kind of contradicts something I wrote a few paragraphs back, but it doesn’t. Trust me. I’m about to get to the good stuff. And perhaps the point of all this.
I am most comfortable when I am alone, or with my family; my wife, my kid, my siblings, my parents, or one or two friends at a time MAXIMUM. Taken out of that, I find it hard to be completely authentic. I get too worried, anxious, nervous, fearful, etc… I know that I can play guitar. I know that I can sing. I know that I can hold a conversation. I just wish I were better at all of the above than I actually am. And that’s its own sad kind of constant.
A few years ago I started paying attention to the internet. Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc… I started reading and responding to messages form people who dug the music I was making. It was LIFE CHANGING. Aside from finally being able to communicate with others and hear their stories (post shows I would always be silent in order to preserve the voice I was constantly losing), I was actually learning a lot about myself through their interpretations of my music. Does that make any sense?
It had never occurred to me that I might be bipolar or have panic attacks. I thought several days literally laying on the floor unable to move after several days of incredible creative outbursts was just normal. Or that it was a fear of heights that caused my heart to palpitate and my hands to sweat before every flight, and that several glasses of scotch was the only cure.
I have not been diagnosed with anything by any doctors, and by the time I started reading these messages I had already worked through most of my issues by sheer force of will. Which either means I am a fucking superhero, or my problems were not that big to begin with. Or perhaps, and more likely, things fell somewhere between these two extremes.
More than anything, the last few years have been full of wonderful correspondences with incredible humans all over the world. I’ve read stories about the fucked up things that have happened to you, listened to your bands, declined your wedding invites, recorded awkward messages for your sisters and brothers, given terrible advice, given not-so-terrible advice, advised you not to listen to just one person’s advice (which in itself is one wicked conundrum), but most of all I’ve healed a part of me I forgot was broken.
Being alone all the time is great, but it is important to come up for air every now and again. And I’m not advocating that you need to go outside and run around. Hell no. The sun is for suckers. I’m just saying that it’s good for the soul to just listen to people. Let them tell you about themselves. Let them ask you questions. Let yourself respond to them as honestly as you can in the moment. Be there for a complete stranger.
You’ll have no idea how much our conversations have meant to me over the years. I hope that they don’t stop coming. I apologize for the drought in responses in both actual mail and electronic mail. I aim to start responding to all later this week. You see, I was anticipating a mental breakdown…
Which brings me back to Doe. A deer? A female deer.
The truth is, I’ve been bursting into tears spontaneously out of nowhere. No reason. And no feelings attached to it that I’m aware of. I’ll be mowing the lawn or seal-coating the driveway or emptying out the dishwasher and suddenly I’ll just start crying. IT’S FUCKING WEIRD. I’m comfortable enough with myself to just let it happen, but I am bummed that I don’t have any feelings associated with it. Any psychiatrists out there? Just kidding (but not really).
Did I mention I somehow graduated from high school without ever having learned how to write a proper paper? Can I file this post under poetry? Or claim artistic license or shenanigans? How exactly does shenanigans work? (Rhetorical).
My best attempt at psychoanalysis is this:
I’ve created unattainable goals for myself as a performer and a human which, without fail, I always fall short of. This allows me to focus on my shortcomings (and how to overcome them) rather than dealing with having any real feelings about things, one way or the other.
Maybe now the non-feeling feelings are all coming up. After a lifetime of muscling my way through things, now not having things to muscle through, I’m left to deal with the feelings I’ve refused to have to begin with.
Or maybe it’s more simple than that.
Maybe I’m strangely mourning the loss of identity. For what feels like my entire life I’ve been identified one way, as “that guy with the hair who…” And now that’s gone and I need to find a new identity. But it’s not really gone. And I don’t care to find a new identity. I’m totally fine being known as “that guy with the hair who…”
But things are different now. And the weight of that is everywhere.
In summation, I just want to thank you for digging the tunes that we made, and for coming out to shows, and for sharing your stories with me. Despite all of my overthinkingness, I have had an incredible ride. You have helped define me as a human on planet earth and I will be forever grateful for that.
Hopefully I will see you again someday, further down the river, and we can exchange tales of this and that, and learn a little something new about ourselves in the process.
Do you think Iwata is a terrible CEO? So far, he has apologized 4 times about software drought and he has almost done nothing to fix it. Do you think he will change his way for the next console or should he be replaced?
Under Iwata’s guidance, we got the Wii, DS, Wii U and 3DS.
You can say that the Wii was a fad or whatever, but it’s also a fad that made Nintendo a practically-excessive amount of money. While Microsoft and Sony were over there sinking a billion dollars in to their consoles and not getting a dime back out of them for years and years and years, Nintendo was making a billion dollars by being smart with cost and smart with profit.
The problems Nintendo of today suffers are not the fault of Iwata. These are the same problems Nintendo has suffered since the N64, when Yamauchi was still in control.
Because Nintendo is smart on cost and profit, it doesn’t actually matter too much if third party developers jump ship. It would be nice to have them, but Nintendo got in to the console business for themselves. That’s how they’ve always treated it. You can either ride along at their pace, or you don’t. But they’re gonna keep going. They make hardware for their software, and software for their hardware.
And they’ve almost always made money. So while to people keeping track of the ballgame known as the “Videogame Industry” can go on and on about how Nintendo is a failure, what it really means is that they were just less successful. They made less money.
But they still made money. According to Reggie, they’re selling the Wii U at a loss (which means it costs more to make the hardware than how much it sells for), but only until the consumer buys a single game. So if you bought a Wii U and bought a new game with it, separately, then Nintendo is in the green. That probably isn’t the case with the PS4 or Xbox One.
On top of that, Nintendo is also still sitting on a ton of money.
Nintendo is not Microsoft. They are not Sony. People keep thinking that they are. That’s where these expectations come from.
Nintendo has been on their own path for a long time. They do things “the Nintendo way.” Which usually involves doing something weird, or stupid, or unconventional. And maybe it doesn’t work. But if it does? Then it’s theirs. Then it’s The Legend of Zelda. It’s Super Mario Kart. It’s Super Mario 64. It’s Pikmin. It’s Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. It’s Splatoon. It’s something you can’t really get anywhere else.
It’s easy to take that for granted because of how old some of those games are. We have clones of Zelda, and Mario Kart, and Super Mario 64. But that should tell you what obscenely good ideas those were.
Nintendo could be doing a lot better, absolutely, but they’re also learning a lot of hard lessons the slowest way possible. Its aggravating a lot of the time, but it also leads to beautiful, unique things (sometimes).
I think Iwata’s fine for now. Everyone has their negative qualities, but he’s keeping the Nintendo spirit alive.