Battling Bullshit, When To Stop Being Patient.

LamottaHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

You ever feel so overwhelmed with all the shit you should or need to be doing that you just go back to bed in the middle of the day and hide under the covers waiting to fall into unconsciousness? Haha. Yeah,… me neither.

There is absolutely nothing productive about going back to bed in the middle of the day, it’s just the brain saying This shit sucks, and we are shuttin’er down!

OK, so perhaps this did happen to me the other day. And perhaps afterwards I went to the gym, which seemed to be a much healthier (if less enjoyable) distraction than picking up a 12-pack of Simple Malt Cascadia India Pale Ale. On the way to the gym I was going through all the things I should’ve gotten done already: Video up on YouTube? No. Started rehearsing the electro music in February? No. Started it in March? Nope. Podcast almost ready to go? No. Website changes in the works? No. Got a name and logo for your record label yet? No.

And so the mind continues spinning as I quietly walk down the street, on my way to do absolutely none of the above but instead go to the gym. No doubt passers by were a little surprised when a seemingly peaceful Danderfer shouts FUCK! from out of nowhere and then continues walking down the street in silence. Oh well.

What can I say? You get on the right track some days, and some days you fall off the tracks into an oblivion of racing thoughts, guilt, and self-deprecation, caused by, in this case a list bullshit tasks. We all have a long bullshit list. All of us. Regardless of whether you’re in school, have a day job, or even if you’re a full-time professional artiste. Even full-timers have lots of shit that we don’t like doing: ie grant proposals, promotion, anything business-related, getting gigs, emails, etc.

For example, my last 2 days… (skip the following 2 paragraphs to avoid rant)

Right now I’ve got to compose a solo piece for jazz composition class. That’s right,… a solo piece! Who the hell plays through-composed solo pieces in jazz?! OK, this isn’t really bullshit at all because the teacher feels that we will learn something from this excercise and I do have faith that he’s right, but still… come on!

I’m also writing a “Special Project Justification” in order to get school credit for a project of my own (electroacoustic music) next semester. Of course, it’s never easy, I can’t just talk to the head of the jazz program about it. I’ve got to write something akin to a grant proposal which will justify the merit of my project to a graduate committee (half of whom know nothing about jazz), then I have to schedule meetings with several potential supervisors,… blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile the list of things I should be doing for my career remains on the back burners. Not good folks, not good. I can handle a little of this “work I don’t want to do” if I’m on a schedule and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but without that direction it’s just frustrating.

Anyways, the point I’m trying to make here is I see the to-do list and a daily/weekly/monthly schedule as our weapons against bullshit. conan

There’s no avoiding bullshit completely, not if you want any measure of independence in this world.

Yes, of course, all I want to do is spend 4-5 hours a day practicing (voice, clarinet, piano) and 4-5 hours a day composing. That’s all I want to do! Just let me do that, and good things will come of it. But it never works out that way, does it? No, of course not. So as much as I like the idea of locking myself in a garden shed and practicing the days away until I finally emerge like a butterfly from the cocoon to be the baddest clarinetist/singer/songwriter on Earth,… I just don’t see that happening. Patience is key, there’s no doubt.

But not all patience! Too much patience ends up being nothing but a polite, passive submission to all of life’s bullshit. That kind of Zen/90’s Guy mentality of what will be will be is not cool. Yes, I have to do some bullshit but I say what will be Goddamnit!

I’d prefer to think of it as a measured and balanced fight against bullshit. You duck the punches, you take some hits, but it’s your ring, you control the direction and the pace of this fight. We’ve got to be aggressive with our time. As in, every day I must do something I don’t like and BUT the majority of my time (if not that day then at least throughout the week) will be doing what I should be doing for me. And slowly, month by month, get better and better, and then, you know… the whole butterfly out of the cocoon thing.clarinet butterfly web So here’s to fighting back the bullshit everybody! Don’t just drop your arms and play possum, thinking you’ll take it Jake Lamotta style in the 15th round with a KO. The 15th is too late!

…Hmmm, I know that whenever I start writing “we’ve got to”,etc., etc… I start to sound like a crazy person. So here endeth the SMNP.

Hell yeah! That’s all I got this time, thanks for reading and go get’em! jd

  • Janet

    “Video up on YouTube? No. Started rehearsing the electro music in February? No. Started it in March? Nope. Podcast almost ready to go? No. Website changes in the works? No. Got a name and logo for your record label yet? No.”

    I used to have this problem too. I’d be cowering under my covers, or going for another desperate multiple-mile run, or drinking yet another glass of wine, and in my head was, “Dissertation done? No.” 😉

    Have you tried smaller chunks? You won’t be able to check that ALL off your list but you can break it down and start checking off little bits of it. As in:
    Record label idea:
    1 hour brainstorming ideas for record label name
    1 hour researching labels and logos online
    Coffee with so-and-so about ideas for label name and logo
    .. etc.
    That way you have doable bite-sized stuff to check off! Very important for sense of accomplishment, which leads into not disappearing under your covers in the afternoon, which leads to gettin’ ‘er done… Well it did for me, anyway. Being able to check off things like, “Revise paragraph of subsection of subsection of chapter” was really important for my mental health. And through long and endless to-do lists like that, I did manage to check off “Dissertation” 😉

  • Allen

    Fun reading the rant. We all have such days … and weeks … and months …

    A little “living in the moment” goes a long way to resetting the psyche … before one has to plunge back into the to-do lists , schedules, etc.

    And the overall goals of course are a very personal thing …

    As Stephen Batchelor says ” I am going to die … i don’t know when … so what do I want to do today?” Helps focus the mind.

  • Chops Grande

    I really get a kick out of imagining you healing FUCK while you walk down the street. I think we should all do that now and then. Keeps you level.
    Beyond that I completely identify with the sentiment. I try and keep lists but that really works. I’d love to hear peoples tips on getting lots of stuff done.

    Also, lying in bed all day, or going back to bed in the middle of the day may be a sign of depression. You should keep an eye on that.

    I love the raging bull pic, inspiring.

  • Chops Grande

    ‘yelling fuck’ I meant!

  • Chops Grande

    I have a new keyboard and clearly I’m making lots of typos. I swear I’m not drunk.

  • Guy

    Napping is healthy. Keep telling yourself that. No, seriously, it is. And in fact not napping is unhealthy.

  • james

    I’m gonna have to side with Dr. Chops Grande on this one, a mid-day nap?! Please! There’s only one possible answer and that’s clinical depression. I’d like a prescription for zanex if you would Doctor,…hmm, better make that a half dozen prescriptions for all those people who emailed me that they’ve had similar “naps” too.

    Et voilà, problem solved. : D

  • Chops

    Sleeping during the day because you can’t face life is not good for you! Taking a nap is ok only if you also have good sleep hygiene at night. As long as you can get to sleep and stay asleep your in pretty good shape.
    FYI, James, zanex is a a sleeping pill (a short acting bezo) not an antidepressant. It would put all those nappers to sleep for longer. And it’s habit forming.

  • Guy

    Well, there’s also evidence that depression (if not lifelong) is evolutionarily healthy, too.

  • LR

    That sounds like a tasty beer. After a few of those, the nap will be justified. But be sure not to mix it with the zanex.

  • Chops

    You can’t believe everything that reports ‘evidence.’ If that were the case then there would be ‘evidence’ that almost anything is healthy, or unhealthy. You know what they say about a little bit of knowledge:) No where is that more true then in mental health (or mental illness as some call it).
    Seems like we are off topic.
    More talk about battling bullshit!

  • Guy

    You also can’t just pick and choose what you believe based on nothing. I’ll go with scientific evidence every time. And not just any scientific evidence (i.e. random study) but the evidence that is fully supported by the scientific community.

  • John Doheny

    I dunno man. Sounds like a lot of energy and cogitation spent wrestling with the bleeding obvious. And you know what they say about wrestling with the bleeding obvious, right? You get worn out and the bleeding obvious doesn’t care.

    I just keep chipping away at stuff and hoping for the best, and eventually the pile gets smaller. Although I have been there, and more than once. Back in the Bronze Age, when I was a student at VCC, I got so overwhelmed I lost it, and my best buddy, the recently deceased bassist Jasper Clarke, advised me to go home and take a nap. “But I’ve got too much shit to do!” I screamed, and he kind of looked at me sideways and said “well you ain’t gettin it done in this condition, are you”? And he was right, I was much more productive after a nap.

    But mostly these days I don’t agonize much over shit left undone and the end of the day, because there is ALWAYS shit left undone at the end of the day. ALWAYS. And getting pissed about it doesn’t get it done.

    The practising thing, I feel ya. When I agreed to be co-ordinator of jazz performance studies at Tulane in addition to my regular teaching duties (at no extra salary of course) I had no idea the extent to which my days would be drowned in administrivia. I find a combination of Kenny Werner’s ‘compartmentalization strategy’ (wherein you contruct a stress-and-distraction-free “secret compartment’ in your day to practise) and just being a selfish, irresponsible bastard (“those e-mails can damn well wait to be answered, because I’m going to practise now”) works for me. And if at all possible, practise first thing in the morning, because if you push it back the crap-blizzard will push it all the way into the next day. I try to get to my office at Tulane a couple of hours early every day just to practise. Sometimes that shorts me on sleep if I had a gig the night before but hey, which would YOU rather do? Practise, or sleep?