Saturday, September 25, 2010

Forgiveness while falling, and to hell with luck on the way back up.

Maybe people are wondering what's up, maybe they're focusing on their own hectic exits off of, and exciting re-entrances onto the unpredictable freeway of consciousness.  But for my own sake here, I'm trying to document a very personal shift.  When stressing events occur like Satan's roller coaster, and you are buckled in every day, eventually you do learn how to drink your coffee on the free-fall.  Because after the course is defined and the surprises are over, it's just a ride.  And eventually you find time to do the things you want to do despite the ups and downs of a chaotic environment...if you have the ambition to do so.

So the anxiety I had went away during one of the most hurtful times in my life.  That's luck.  Maybe.  But I think what happened was a relaxing of my compromises in a relationship neither of us were happy in anymore.  We lost our passion.  We both still love each other, and the times we had raising Jade were filled with pride in each other, love for a growing daughter and heaps of laughter.  When Tana and I split, we found it funny how we still were hanging out so much.  We like each other.  We're really good friends.  I've had enough time to off load the hate, come down off hope, and now reap the benefit of forgiveness.  We've talked a lot.

There have been many actions Tana and her boyfriend have made that have disappointed me.  Feelings of betrayal were for sure wrapped up in that, however Jade's well being and this man's inevitable influence on her scared me shitless.  Tana has always in my eyes been not only a good mom, but a fun one, an ambitious one, and a mother that will show Jade there's life outside the box.  And like I said, this truth and my sincere belief in that is why she and I are still cool.  And thank god.  Our family counselor said Tana and I should do classes for families going through separation.  So I guess we're doing well.  Again, Jade is our main focus.  Perfect.

I'll be honest.  I got lonely and I did feel like trying to move on in the early spring.  So I went online to see who was out there.  I'm a busy guy and I sure as hell don't want to purposefully go to a bar to meet someone.  And it seemed like a good idea to not only get a bio of who I was looking at written by that person (writing shows so much character eh?), but also set some "filters" up to target in on someone that would be a good match intellectually and physically.  I went on some dates.  It was weird.  Some were good, some went awry.  What's that?  OK.  I'll tell the sweat-sock story.

I had a date with this girl a couple months back.  And we were supposed to meet after work.    I was running late for work and threw on a button up shirt followed by a fast, cool morning walk to BART.  All is good.  For some wonderful reason the weather turned hot as hell that day and the downtown Oakland air stayed relentlessly muggy even after 6 o'clock.  Nifty.  The office was hot that day and the shirt I put on was unfortunately a bit polyester.  Go figure.  My armpits were off the hook by about 3.  I had deodorant on but the sweat was interminable.  I ran over to the gym, took a shower, walked back, pits were still jumping wet.  What the hell?  And at this point of course the stress of going on a date with crazy wet pits was causing more sweat.  So I took two "clean" socks from under my desk and laid each one in each armpit like a strip of dry bacon.  Kept those things there for the rest of the day working with my elbows up, desk fan on high.  After work I walked for about half a mile and then close to the destination where I was supposed to meet her.  I then pulled the socks out like unhappy banana peels off the concrete.  We met outside by the lake, it was fine, walked around for awhile and arrived at some restaurant.  Sat outside, and the sun was of course beaming directly on to my head between two tall buildings.  And the amount of sweat that came out when I sat down was incomparable to the amount that came out after I realized it.  Neato.  Date went fine, she never called me.

And now I'm going to skip to it.  I met someone.  And I really can't describe it.  I'll give you this much.  She's about my age, amazing mother of a smart adorable 3 year old (zero parental help), artist, photographer, self employed screen printer, amazing organic cook and gardener, planet friendly, and just beautiful inside and out.  Know I'm happy.  And really really silly happy to have such an amazing person adore me as well.  Haven't felt that in so long.  I'd love to share more, but I don't want to give too much detail about her out of respect.  I mean I really doubt she'd mind, but I check my mirrors three times before I pull a legal U turn when there's people in the car with me.

The best thing is, I don't feel guilty about anything.  The large exceptions I made for Tana's happiness in her situation, my insults and badgering aside, paved a nice road for the entry of a new relationship in my life.  Ideally, we want each other to be happy.  And if something was wrong morally with a decision I was making, my emotions would surely wreck me.  Lately, I've been strong and relieved and smiling constantly.  I thought I was broken for so many years.  Now I laugh at myself sometimes and say, damn this train is crazy and how did I get so lucky to sit next to this wonderful girl?  But as time goes by, I realize it's not luck.  Or maybe the obvious amount but no credit to it you know?  I'm working for this new relationship yet it's so natural and completely reciprocated by her.  I'm constantly surprised and yet calmed by her.  Her daughter on my shoulders, holding hands to the park, walking our dogs... stroller in tow,  it's all surreal but I'm loving it.  I know who I am.  I'm the nice guy that finally didn't finish last. Or maybe finishing last isn't so bad if you've met so many great people along the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Hardstuff

Irony, really.  It's not been easy.  Or lets say this process of recording our first album "Prepare to Scream" was a lot harder than I thought it might be.  Because the 3 of us are not "musicians" proper at all.  We're illustrators, painters, artists.  That's the mentality that went into this album.  And when you think of the whole thing being a home job, done in our "off" time, still holding our day jobs and coordinating band nights to actually get shit done and not drink all the whisky…well we done good.

Shay, Mike and I met in Art college SF in the late Nineties.  I moved in with Mike in the SF Tenderloin from my parent's place in San Jose.  I slept in the futon mattress (like taco stuffing) on the floor with the sides ramped up the walls in the closet.  I got hit on by trannies on the way to pick up six packs and boxed "Banquet" fried chicken dinners from the liqour store.  But it was a place to crash, and I could walk to class.

  I met Shay a bit later in Illustration 1 class (I think).  Never laughed so hard talking to one person before.  I think the feeling was mutual.  And he played guitar /wrote his own retarded songs like me.  Turned out he and Mike lived on Guam at the same time around high school days.  The three of us bonded quickly, hanging out, smoking, drinking shit beer, watching Batman the animated series in the Frontenac at Hyde and O'Farrell after drawing class.

I had been in a couple bands before,  Shay had been in a fun scrappy band called Dirty No Dity.  Mike was in a couple bands singing as well.  So we had this common love for rock music and we always had the little nylon string guitar around (Nylo) at any given point after class at the apartment.  Somewhere there's a recording of Shay and I signing "Man with McFarlane hands" from those days.  Inevitably we tossed around the idea of a band.  The idea was playing one minute songs involving explosions, Godzilla screams, chainsaws and "general extremeness".  It was a joke band we called "The Hardstuff".  Music made just for us by us.  We had some funny ideas, but without a place to practice we were sort of stuck with acoustic guitars and dusty casio keyboards.

Eventually my work moved from SF to Berkeley and I was looking at graduation and working full time there.  I had the opportunity through my parents to drag some art buddies into a house they bought and so we would rent.  Problem was getting SF art students to feel cozy living on the other side of the bay bridge.  Shay accepted.  Mike accepted.  The night Mike moved in, we recorded "Army of Hamsters", "Rob Liefeld anatomy" and maybe a couple other horrible songs on Shay's hand held tape recorder.  But the issue was we needed one more roommate to make rent.  Lets just say the "art house" was never fully realized and our dwelling soon turned into "the knock off frat house".  Mike moved out of the house first, once the frattys quickly douched up the communal areas.  Shay stuck around through thick and thin and we continued to work on the art team at Scilearn and non-regularly play music.  I met Tana at Scilearn around that time and she and I ended up spending a LOT of time away from the house and the chaotic conflicts of the 1691 frat "cappa alpha dickhead".  Some time after Mike moved back to SF from Ward st., Shay started writing Lobot and The Hulk upon others that would become the core songs we'd play for the next ten years.

By that time Mike was involved not only writing but playing bass and singing.  I was spending most of my time with Tana at the Delta, but also wrapped up in my band Souls of Smoke.  We all learn from our mistakes.  And that's not saying I'd take any of those years back.  They were integral to being the "musician" I am today.  And I learned an immeasurable amount of improvisation and uh, lets say social compromise.  But I had hit a wall with that "band".  And we never wrote a song...ever.  Mike and Shay started playing what became "the line up" pretty regularly.  Lobot, The Hulk, Mo Nore, Smokin' Cali and I started playing drums to songs that actually had beginnings and ends, which was a big change from the "never ending stoney jam" keys, guitar and percussion I was bouncing between with the other guys.  The idea for Zartan came a tad later as Shay and I were driving Tana's rambler back to Scilearn from the house for lunch.  It could have been Heather's backfiring Plymouth Horizon too.  I'm surprised I remember this much man.

I concentrated on drums that broke up the overdrive jackhammer riffs that came from Shay's guitar and his hell muppet voice.  With his Cobra Commander screams and "confident comedian" persona, Mike was obvious fun and a held the bass parts well while signing.  We had some damn good times, a fun 1999 Halloween and some nice video from that era as well.  The "studio" was IN the house at that point.  Soon after when we started getting into playing the few songs we had and getting them tight, Mike had to follow a job in LA.  And for years the Hardsuff was on the backburner fizzling into nothing.

Shay and I stayed tight, playing often.  Tana moved into the house in 2001 and the guys eventually all moved out as we were planning to get married and all that.  I was laid off soon after the 9/11 nightmare and took some time to study soundproofing in interest of converting the two car detached garage into a music studio of the house Tana and I now owned.  After about a year later, the studio was complete.  We moved all the instruments in there and soon after, Shay and I put it to good use.  He and I couldn't stop obsessing on The Hardstuff though.  There was some good songs in there.  Shame to lose them.  We came up with an idea to use the songs we created as a vehicle for our illustration and animation skills/interests.  And since that discussion in the kitchen we've been steadily working toward that goal.

I was thankfully rehired at Scilearn in the beginning of 2003, my daughter Jade was born shortly thereafter.  My friend Scott who used to live one house over asked if I had met his old friend Don who'd taken over rent.  I was pretty wrapped up with Jade and work but eventually I discovered that two doors down, this guy Don had his own studio set up occupying the back of his house.  We quickly made up for lost time by relaxing over at his place playing digital beats, synth keys, percussion instruments I didn't have...he had all the stuff my studio didn't.

Mike returned from LA as well.  Whammo.  The Hardstuff was back on in full effect rehearsing once sometimes twice a week with deep interest in playing shows locally.  Whiskey, song writing, laughs and sweat.  A few shows under our belts and well, it took us a long time to be able to not only know how to create music and trouble shoot that know how continuously, but to also listen to each other and work together for the sake of well, why the hell not.
Don was a breath of sharp air adding a new component to the musical nights giving Mike Shay and I a sense of "future" and moving on from these songs we'd been playing forever.  New songs were written but Mike and Shay worked the same place, lived in the same place and were part of the same band soooo things weren't always peaches and hugs when Thursday band practice came around.  After a couple years we fell into a bit of a band lull.  We were getting better and the music was sounding tighter but it was taking forever.  Again, none of us were musicians.

Despite, and for good reasons, Shay decided to move to New York to pursue his heart and career.  Again, Don was a great guy to have around the studio for Mike and I.  And we now joke around about making shirts that say "The Hardstuff now with 20% more Don!".  Before moving out of Cali though, Shay and I scrambled to record the drums and guitar tracks for an album so once and for all we could document these "rock gems".  We finally got things set up pretty haphazardly in multi-track on Garageband using 4 mics on the set, one on the guitar amp, and recorded live into an 8 track that fed into a mac laptop I was using from Scilearn.  These tracks are what's now on the album Prepare to Scream.  Soon after Shay left, I finally moved from Garageband to Apple's Logic Pro which Scilearn bought for product related sound effects work.  See, it all comes together.  In learning the application for work, I realized Logic allowed me SO much more control over the music but I also realized I was diving into a realm of digital music I really should have gone to school for.  It was a two year crash course for me in music writing, recording, editing, producing, mastering, funding, CD package design, illustration for print and in the end...enjoyment and pride.

The album is done, and not only the band name, but the album title became so appropriate and ironic that I knew it was the right call.  Like every project, there's the checklist of things that could be better.  But I paste in Tana's saying, "it is what it is" and I like what it is.  During the recording of this album, Don, Mike, Shay and I have nearly recorded another album of completely different songs in a completely different style.  And there's left over material from the Prepare to Scream sessions that will be going on yet another album.  This last week Shay flew in from New York and we synced up our CD release party with his planned visit.  Mike, Don, Shay and I hung out, ate some BBQ, drank some Jameson, put together our CDs with Jade and celebrated 10 years of art, laughs, friendship, work and music.

And that's the story in a semi-large nut shell.  I won't tell you the stories of the ice cream sandwich fight that landed Mike in the SF general hospital, or the shroomy emperor slipper and dead puppy fetus supremes, Shay's early attempts at bum communications and his egg teeth, Estella's threats to call the cops, "the band drama"...none of that.  Leaving it out.  Ten years, we made an album.  We're moving on to the next chapter as friends, as brothers.  That ride was damn awesome guys, lets hop on another!  Hopefully the line isn't as long.

And if anyone is interested in picking up the album or hearing it, please contact me and check out The Hardstuff blog for more info.  Thanks.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some pics of Jade

So I figured since I quit facebook I should update all ya'll with some Jade pictures and tidbits.

Father's Day we went to my parent's place in Discovery Bay.  Beautiful day, brought Che (our yellow lab) and she and Jade swam for hours.  Hey dad, sorry about the pool filter which probably looked like it got a blonde tribble stuck in it after that day.

Jade hanging at Tom's Log Cabin diner after exploding her egg salad sandwich.

Those are my feet.  The hot tub works as a backyard pool for goggled dwarves.

climbing a tree...
climbing the front fence...

Done climbing.  It was Jade's wonderful idea to put the twin futon mattress from the studio into the hammock.  She's got it wired.

Cello in the backyard.

She really wanted to wear the Greedo mask to Walgreens.  Made my day...

Of course, how could a face like this not make your day?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

buh bye

I have deactivated my facebook.  I'm done.  If anybody wants to reach me, please email me.  For any "status updates" please check this blog...though I'm not feeling real chit chatty about my status right now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


As years gather momentum or so it seems, the age gap between friends and colleagues fizzles into meaninglessness, yet there's this hierarchy between siblings that remains from childhood.  That's what I've witnessed a lot.  I have friends that are older than my brother and I see them as equals, or more so I don't acknowledge their age as a point of respect.  I acknowledge who they are as people and respect follows in tow.  In my own situation, age wasn't really the only thing that separated Gary and I.  We're nothing alike, but we did our time in the family amusement park.  We spent some moments bickering, but it was mostly kid stuff.  Looking back from who we are now and how we haven't changed, the clothing fads trickled down to the horrible affordable Mervyn's outlet and seriously horrible things we tried to do with our hair glare so embarrassing and obvious.  At some point we both fell into who we are presently and now we share a recognition of our socially humbled pride that swims in the artery our brotherly sarcasm.  I'm pretty sure that makes's late.

Once I was in high school, he was out.  Sometimes I think it would have been great to have a sibling in school with me, but blazing my own trail through public education proved to be good for me ( i think) and it's all over now anyways. 

My brother is roughly 4 years older than me.  He's had some ups and downs, learned some good life lessons and is wise enough to see that time changes a lot.  I think neither of us hold our parents responsible for any of the shortcomings we've experienced thus far.  There comes a time, you know, to accept responsibility for yourself.  Well, he still has a full head of hair so maybe I'd have more to complain about to a therapist.  Outside of genetic misfortunes, there's the life prep.  Gary and I have always known what we like doing.  Never been an issue.  Neither of us were ever bored.  We were active, but we weren't the ball players my Dad had in mind apparently.  That's what happens when you make boys with a short Portuguese woman.  Next life, 6 foot Samoan lady dad!

I was drawing from age 5, and my brother was taking apart speakers and stereos since he was old enough to hold a soldering iron.  Now, he's building his own vehicles in his garage.  And he's really good at it.  By the time I met Tana he was living in Hayward and I was making weekly trips to see him there to get out of the "frat" house that really never materialized into the artist house studio I had envisioned.  After a few encounters with Tana and I Gary said to me, "Bro, I've never seen you this happy.  Tana's a really cool girl."  And without that statement, I don't think Jade would be around today.

I've had that statement bouncing in my mind recently.  Happiness and Tana.  I'm glad we got married.  I'm glad we had Jade of course, my life will forever be changed.  Sometimes I feel like Jade would be better with a sibling, however most of the time I don't even think about it and am so happy to direct my focus on her solely. 

Gary's always had friends and girlfriends and family but from my perspective he's never really integrated himself into the lives of these people.  But me, he's always had my back, supported me and made me feel like an exceptional person.  You can't put that kind of shit on a chart.  He's the uncle I imagined Jade bonding to, but because he's so busy and lives an hour away, well he doesn't really call either...  but as Jade gets older I'm sure he'll relate to her more.  He's kind of not sure around babies.  Not enough metal.  But what I'm saying is Gary has always accepted me and looked out for me, but also completely never led me in a direction that wasn't true to what I was naturally bound for.  Mainly drawing ninja turtles.  Really though, he's one of my band's favorite fans and he doesn't want anything but paintings of odd characters.  Easy and awesome.

Yes there was the time i was stuck in the "triple wheel cage" five stories up at Great America with him and some strange chubby jet trash girl as they totally just made out in front of me like crazy and long.  And the time when he was dancing on the back deck of our parent's house and his leg broke though the board, hair flying, knee on nose...other leg straight up in the air.  Aaaaaand the time he fell asleep in the truck after my father dropped the boat off at the mechanics.  Gary wakes up and about 30 minutes later realizes the boat is gone and says "Uh, Dad...Where's the boat?!!"  Or the time we got hammered in the paddle boat at 1 in the morning at our home on the dleta and had a blast laughing the whole time paddling around the island.  And when we took the family vacation, and gary's got his headphones on wicked loud, silent plane, he looks out the windows and in a huge booming voice, yells "Hey!  Clouds!"  Classic.  Or the time he "fixed" my rockem sockem robots so their heads flew off...and never went back on.  Or when he showed tuned my radio to an underground hiphop station and showed me how to listen to music while going to sleep by putting the thing under my pillow.  Thanks man.  Or the first time we hot boxed Walt's boat listening to the Beastie Boys first album on Gabe's boombox when it was first released.  Kneeboarding, wakeboarding, slalom, barefoot, sit n ski, hand painted mini trucks, the yellow civic with the crazy system, bike ramps, bad ass bike ramps, remote control cars, the forebay, staying at Grandma and grandpa's, the farty night with grandpa, the family vacations, the shared friends, cruising el camino, Mrs. Gross, the bar tab on the cruise, Anita's breakfasts, the late night delta fires, hand drums on the levy, Jeff getting his ass pulled through the skylight and beat up in the trailer by Danielle's friend, Grandma's funeral, my wedding, and damn it it's time for another adventure, man!

There's guidelines in life that one can follow, but it you get locked up in the stark and rigid definitions of categories that people and life can fall into, you've lost it.  Fruits fall in the fruit category and cars are cars but people aren't one "thing" or another.  Always more complex.  Sometimes you wish to adopt that, sometimes their drama falls on your lap while you're trying to shit.  Roundabout way of saying, siblings, no's your life and if you share it, be fair, remember karma.  And every life is different.  There's no "what ifs" in the hindsight dictionary.

So Gar', here's my shout out to you.    May life march on in bad times and slow down for the good ones.  I love you.  Super proud, and thank you so much for being me.

Most grateful,
yer bro

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finding the light switch in the infinite maze

Years ago on our anniversary, after consuming a boat load of sushi, Tana and I perused a small antique shop in Alameda.  Inside the glass case were these delicate hand crafted plaster male and female devils.  We liked the symbolism of them and bought them, relating the drummer to me and guitarist to her.  For some reason they were hanging just above the kitchen light switch.  About the same time Tana started her affair, coincidentally I knocked these keepsakes off the wall and they broke apart.  Ironic to say the least.
Funny thing living here in the house.  The drama, the females.  Sounds bad, but I'm totally not sexist.  If you know me, you know that.  It's like one of those parties that takes place in your house but you feel like an outcast. But this predicament I'm in, I didn't ask for it and I need it to cool off quick before I'm no longer sensitive to the heat.  I usually try and avoid drama.  I don't run away from confrontation but of all the things I can create, pointless static isn't on the list.

    To offset the rent for Tana's apartment, we have a student living at our place.  She helps the house not feel so cold and abandoned when I'm there without Jade.  She's a sweet girl, going to school in Emeryville to be an audio engineer.  No sexual attraction here, so don't start your gossip wheels spinning you drama diggers.  And if there was an "attraction" to anybody for that matter I'd have squashed it because now is no time to adopt another person's life baggage and stir it into the bitter stew we got sitting on simmer at this moment.  But everyone knows that you don't have to be attracted to someone to inherit their drama.  There's no beating positive outlooks in horrible situations you can't see your way out of.  The alternative, the water slide of negativity, is reliable and well used but always drops off into a pile of shit if you don't jump off.  I can't say living with this person has been bliss, but at the same time I think it's helping by shaking the change out of my pockets just enough to realize there's a life to live here...right now.  And quite frankly the four of us are getting along quite well in this new "progressive" environment.  It's less stale.  More social for everybody even Jade. And there's no real negative impact on Jade.  Anybody who's been around her in the last few months can attest she's a happy little girl and everybody wants to keep it that way.

    I've been recording, editing into oblivion, and driving myself batshit in the studio pushing through 20+ songs in the last two years trying to finish an album of music from my now "former" band.  And this young woman moves into the spare room and oh hey, she's a sound engineer!  So she's agreed to help out with the final production of the album which helps me out quite a lot.  Through her school, she's connected to a flock of ambitious warmhearted musicians and audio technicians.  And as more people come into the mix, there are good times, but damn if drama keeps peeping it's fucking head in through the window.
    There's a certain amount of trust I give to people that I love.  Not "sex" love or "relationship" love.  Just love for the beauty of an individual and what their positive mark on humanity is however slight and possibly even destructive.  And I see that from the inside out now.

   Some things need to be destroyed.  Quite honestly, I'm destroying shit left and right.  Walls mostly.  Fear.  There was a time when Tana moved out and I said to myself "I can't watch The Soup without Tana.  Who am I going to share these TV and movie moments with?"  My unconscious detour away from the glowing box and back towards music and art is catching me by surprise but it seems healthy and natural.   I'm able to embrace responsibilities and juggle "down time" to a T for the first time in my life.  It's like, and I've talked to Tana about this…this experience in so many ways has helped me knock down fat invisible dams that have fucked up my potential and natural flow over time.

    Our housemate is at the house enough to now be well familiarized with Tana, Jade and my social network.  So there's the mingling of acquaintances and even the clashing of personalities. 

    Recently the housemate has started a relationship with a guy from her school who's in another relationship.  Cheating is in style I suppose?  He's younger than her, I've played music with him and more importantly have noticed how fucking nice he is.  He's positive, ambitious, a sweetheart and really crudely immature.  But he's 21 for fuck's sake.  So he's living with his girlfriend and then heading over to my house to spend time with our housemate.  And so why is this behavior again coming into my life so directly?  Maybe because I needed to see it from a different angle.  There's of course no major comparison between him and Tana, but in a small room in the corner of the cubicle these two share a similar moral dilemma, yet maybe feel a "primal right" that draws a direct correlation in judgment I don't agree with.  So of course this is a touchy nerve for me because my housemate is basically facilitating the same behavior as the guy Tana is or was with (wherever that's at right now).  And there's an unexpected compassion for that mentality from a perspective of seeing our housemate with this guy, and me witnessing her genuine interest for a new and real human connection.

   I'm in a place where my marriage is leaving limbo for the way of the wind.  And everything human about me wants to fix that.  Even rebound thoughts...moving on as quick as possible.  There's something very unsettling about the energy that exists after the breakup of a comfortable companionship.  And I look around at work and the very minimal places I choose to exist outside of the house for females I think may be the next "one".  But it's just a game.  First off, I have and have never had any game.  Two?  As I wrote earlier, it's just wrong to bring another person into this situation.  Everything logical points me in the direction of celibacy for this chapter.  On one end, I feel like maybe I should join the revolution of impulse and the pursuit of "free" love.  But as Brian Wilson wrote, "that's not me".  And with time I've learned that I don't need to feel like a pussy for not being a dog.  So I channel it into the the unfulfilled "procrastinatious" categories of creativity and projects unfinished.  It works, thank fucking god.  I just have to flip that switch.  That's exactly what it is. You can look at the switch and pace around it, roll your eyes, swear at it or you can walk right up to it and flip that bitch on and get on with yourself while your eyes adjust to the the blinding light which is so necessary to see clearly what's in front of you.
    Again there's Jade.  Always and foremost Jade.  Tana and I have hit ground, bounced and ended up on our asses still holding Jade up in the air virtually unscathed and possibly better off in the midst of her ever changing needs and blossoming individuality.  It's a tricky teeter totter of what's best for her given this situation.  This is what it is, and it's comforting that despite my callous building over anger and disgust, Tana and I still have each other through it.  It's like at times we're forced to fight each other, but we're being respectful of where we're punching.

    Big thing is no matter what, we continue to make sure Jade, within this drama, is supported, loved and knows that we both love her and who her family will always be.

  One of Tana's boyfriend's friends called the house asking for him a couple weeks ago.  In anger, I turned to facebook and found the guy on her boyfriend's friend list.  She said she didn't know who he was, but somehow it got back to "boy wonder" that I was digging into his personal online rolodex.  Whatever, fuck it.  I wasn't obsessing, just wanted to back up my stance on respect.  So the next day her boyfriend sent me a "friend request" out of spite and immaturity.  Using the request to my advantage, I sent him a message saying basically two things.  We both love Tana in some way so lets keep an eye on her well being and try to calm down the emotional tug of war.  Second and foremost, I don't want anybody moving into a fathering role with my daughter.  Especially some guy that thinks splitting a family up is a good idea.  To sum up his response, he agreed and surprisingly we shared a strange vein of sympathy for each other, despite the sex and betrayal and absence of morality which seems to prevail.  And my housemate is in this situation where she's got this guy in her corner, but he's too scared to break off his commitment to this other person he shares a life with.  Or he just doesn't want to break it and this having and eating of cake seems justified.  And given anybody's individual perspective and timeline of unfortunate events, most "wrong" actions are justified somehow.

    I didn't ask for any of this.  I really don't want it and frankly it disgusts me.  The whole scene.  But in this infinite maze, I can sit, sulk, and curse the complexity, or I can walk and hit the walls and face the mistakes.  I'm walking.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Why he has pointy ears?  I don't know.  I don't get out much.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reconnecting with the blank canvas.

I think there's some sort of energy in (at least American) society that tells people to fuck over artists because they need tension and drama to produce great art.  That's not true.  Or whatever it is, lets pay the artists and teachers the fat wads and let the ballplayers run around chasing balls for cheap because, they'd do it anyways and it seems a bit unbalanced to say the least.  So if you have that misconception or if you know an artist, give him or her a huge hug and say "thanks for your small part in pushing our culture to a new level!"  Unfortunate events happen to everybody.  But for me, a sensitive guy with an overactive imagination and an anxiety disorder, all things seem a bit more amplified.  A gift and a curse depending on the situation.

So a couple months ago Tana's getting Jade into stringed instruments and classical music on youtube and whatnot. She asks Jade if she wants to play the cello and if she wants one for christmas.  Jade says "yes!".  I think it's a great idea and so Tana makes one of her famous craigslist purchases and soon after I'm coming home from San Jose with a cello on a rainy Sunday night.

When I get home Tana tells me she's cheating on me with a violist she met a few weeks prior and that she loves him and is going to continue seeing him.  I am surprised I didn't die right there in the family room.  Total shock.  Panic attack on top of living nightmare.  And the shit storm began.

Actually I jumped on the guilt train believing that I did this wholly.  And of course I had fault in this happening but I didn't "do" this.  Then I got online and bought an e-book on how to save your marriage, which should be a book everybody reads BEFORE they get married and every year following.

Obviously too late.  Tana's mom was in town for Christmas.  I hung out with her while Tana spent the day packing her things and sneaking out the door to her new apartment.  Her boyfriend is living there with her.  Now he's picking her up in front of the house and they go out and do their thing 5 nights a week.

I'm happy staying home with Jade.  I've sort of missed out on sleeping next to her.  And the added responsibility is great because I can do it and I'm happy to.  Tana still takes care of Jade during the day and most school mornings she's back at the house at 6 am getting things ready for Jade.

I'm lonely at night.  Super duper lonely.  I had Tana every night.  And we hung out every night and laughed and talked.  And I looked forward to it.  Still she seemed physically and emotionally guarded and slowly like she was unhappy and just stuck in the mundane.  But I was there.  Listening and talking and helping her though life.

As many of my close friends know after a really stressful year or two at work two years ago I developed an anxiety disorder.  It took a year to properly diagnose me and many horrible prescriptions, side effects (tremor, cramping stomach and muscles, twitching, restlessness,  racing heart, depression...) and withdrawals (fuck me) from those then ramping up on another to finally get me to a point where I could just be me 84% of the time.  Still I was working hard and really getting my shit done.  And after fighting for so long I start feeling mentally good and actually better than before, then whammo!  She hits me with this.  And there's so much to process.  I know what I did wrong but what did I do to her to deserve THIS?  And if she just wanted out, there were better ways to do it.  More respectful ways.

I've never ever been hurt this much in my life.  But I have Jade here and I really really don't want to get into a custody situation.  She's here upstairs sleeping.  And if I can totally hypnotize myself to just be "buds" with Tana then things aren't so bad in the mean time.  And I tried that, but starting feeling love for her and then I totally came crashing down emotionally when her boyfriend picked her up at the house one night.  I can't fool myself.  At least we agree that we are great parents.  But even that grade point average will fall too because we were a family and now we're not.  This was our home.  Now it's broken.  The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.  I'm so mad, but at the same time I truly love her and I want to do what's right.  Stay in there, work on my issues...improve myself for us.

But day after day it looks like she's really settled into this guy and the hope I have is just my "etched in imagination" and our life fading away.  I'm so lost.  But my strength is persevering and it's one of those "two steps forwards, one step back" things.  Work is great.  Busy and hard but fantastically rewarding.  The only thing I can't handle is my emotional tie to Tana.  But as everybody says...time.  Time, time time.  Let it pass.

So to pass the time in the evenings I have the oil paints out again... and the smell reminds me of art college.  The thinner, linseed oil, the one glass of red wine that sits near the paper palette for hours.  I enjoy working in silence mostly but really miss creating with fellow artists.  The oils are like an old predictable friend that I haven't seen for a long time.  It makes me love a blank canvas again.  And I sort of need that right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Follow the rules, break them... gently stir

A big part of intelligence, in my opinion, is the ability to absorb useful elements around you and the intuition to notice what could be useful, for not all that exists beneficially, presents itself in such a manner to be noticed.

Right now.  Experience.  Open your eyes wider and seek the truly unique positives.  Then better or worse continue gravitating towards them.  Because it's all compromises.  Life is hell.  Life is heaven.  It's positive or negative and yet exactly how you see it.  My good friend said to me that he notices people all the time who are chronically naive (stupid) and thinks to himself, man, they don't know how good they got it.  The more you know, the harder life becomes...but there's always a route that's a bit more fun.  A way to rebel.  Rules to know that need to be broken in order for society to move.

In all my creative branches, there's this rule that I live by.  "Make it interesting you idiot.  It's ART!  It's made to be fucking looked at (or listened to, or read)!  Don't go the distance if the end result is dull."  That's my rule word for word.  And I fuck it up all the time.  I'm learning though you know.  It doesn't matter if you suck.  It's the subject matter.  It's presence.  The art wasn't there before.  Why is it here now?  YOU control that.  If you can only draw stick figures then draw a shit load of stick figures in all different colors doing all kinds of risky activities and keep going until you have something cool. Don't stop at interesting.  Paint stick figures, sculpt them.  Stray, refine.  Follow the rules, break them and then gently stir. You learn shit by making choices, whether they be successes or mistakes, living with them and absorbing the effects in a manner that benefits you.  We're all human though.  We know we're going to die.  If you're reading this, you have a life.  The only one you know is real.  So put a smile on and get out there.  I'm telling myself to go fuck myself.

It's hard to say "be positive" when chemically, you cant.  Depression.  I don't have it, but I've definitely experienced it on some of the meds I've been on over the last couple years.  I know what being depressed feels like.  That aint shit.  You can still semi-function.  Depression is crippling.  It seems there's no door to the doom room when you're in it.  I really feel for people who have to live with this day in day out.  It's like everybody else in the world is on another team.  The "grass is greener" team.

I'm going through some trying times in my life right now, not mentally really, but because I'm concentrating on improving myself and loving who I am I'm able to push through.  For me, and most importantly for my daughter.  There's the bigger picture too.  Things could always be way way worse.  I'm learning from this time in my life because I'm a fixer and because I have a little girl who needs me to be a rock and the textbook example of what I think a father should be.

We all have to be a bit "selfish" to be ideal people and parents and friends.  But sometimes people over estimate what they are capable of.  They start relationships all full of spirit and vigor and get married and have kids and they keep pushing toward this ideal and this American standard of living even if it feels wrong.  And they lose themselves...or they sacrifice who they are to be in this relationship and then, snap.  The thrill is gone until someone else shows up with that spark in their eye and a whole different perspective.  It's enticing, and it's human and unfortunately it's real when somebody different with less responsibility shows how fun life can be again to someone who has been locked down in the mundane.

And that's why I say everybody should break the rules and be who they are, pursue life.  Don't sacrifice yourself too much.  But going back on huge promises, not being true to yourself and the ones who love you most, over time will eventually break you if you don't change your pattern.  And for Pete's sake can we learn to accept change in people?  They change.  It's one of those things you have to trust with inevitable heartbreak time after time unless you want to be a bitter hermit.  Because when one person goes the distance for you or someone you love, drop the bullshit...that's a beautiful thing and it's rare as fuck.

And now I must retire, for tomorrow is an early morning.  The adventure begins again!