Friday, April 04, 2008

The Hardest Work, When Your Mind's Made Up

A couple weeks ago I thoroughly enjoyed a little gift visited upon me by my dear friend Shameless. It was the movie Once, which features singer-songwriter Glen Hansard. The film was a real treat, well acted, light on fluff in the film department, and full of good music.

I've been really stressing out quietly under the surface for a little while now. I guess in the last few weeks, the enormity of this stupid housing and credit mess is starting to exact a toll on my attitude. I work very hard in a business that is very tenuous. I pay my bills on time and in full or well above the minimum. I save for the kids college educations, put nothing away for me, and don't have a car payment. And a few years ago I bought a very modest home (I don't even have a basement) within my means. I need a new garage door opener, a new patio door, a new dishwasher, and a new range. As in, the door to the dishwasher has huge portions that are rusted out, I've started to lose coils on the range (by the time I replace them at $40 a pop for the old GE model I have, that's $120 toward a new oven), the garage door plays this "HA! I'm not going to open!" trick about every third trip, and in addition to the blanket at the base of the patio door, this year I used a special decorative touch and hung a bedspread over the blinds.

These are things I could just go out and get, but I'm afraid to. I'm making two trips this summer with the kids, not extravagant journeys, just two long weekends. One involves airline tickets. I'm trying not to have a stroke.

These are just normal, everyday things that everyone goes through. But lately I feel like I'm just not "free" to make the choices, simple basic choices, that people make everyday. Maybe it's because I don't just run out and put everything I want on a credit card, and then complain to my mortgage company that I can't pay my loan. Maybe I feel a little like I'm carrying the load with no backup. But I'm pretty sure I feel like a lot of Americans.

The thing that hit home with me with this movie, and earlier this week with the show at the Kent Stage with the fabulous Punch Brothers, is that, you have to keep going and doing what you love. Musicians are entrepreneurs. There is no day off, just like the company I work for. It's a constant creative process, and hopefully it puts bread on the table. And it's always there, you always have what you love and it has you.

In the last week or so, I felt my relationship to my job shift a little. I do love my work, but it's starting to feel more like a job than it has since I arrived. We are woefully short on business, so it's scary, but it's also difficult to figure out whether I've learned everything I need to learn. But what would I do next? I miss managing people, and being part of a larger organization and mission. But I love my job, and wouldn't dream of leaving it cold.

I don't know, I guess transition is coming. My mind's made up, but now I just got to let it and life play out and lead me a little. Maybe I'm afraid that the work I really want to do, or that I really am meant to be doing, is a lot harder, and a lot less lucrative. Entirely possible. Entirely.

This tune, hardly a bluegrass tune, is featured in the film, and plays over the vignettes of the band working through the long hard hours of putting together a demo. You'll need to step over to Shameless's blog to view the concert version in the second post.

Meanwhile I've got to go push some laundry, at 10:30 on a Friday night. At least I have something to wash and dry, and a place to put it, like the clean sheets on our beds, and the warm socks in our drawers. Life could be much, much worse.


At April 05, 2008 8:05 AM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Dear Mando,
If you ever want something
You call, you call
And I'll come running to fight
And I'll be at your door
And there's nothing worth running for"

I heard Glen describe the song about when your friend is being really stubborn so it drives you crazy and you are still there for them.

Still there, waiting to catch each other when we stumble or fall. Lifetime friends, eh? Call and I'll come running...


At April 05, 2008 6:10 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Oh Shameless, who do you know who's stubborn? I don't think I know anyone! ;-)

Thanks for your love and encouragement. You and your family have always been generous and kind and there with good ideas and a different perspective when I needed yet another one. I'm pretty sure I'm due for a stumble, but I'm gonna try real hard to avoid the fall.


At April 05, 2008 10:26 PM, Blogger Ipsissimus said...

I love the scene in Once where it is night and he is on the street corner singing his own song - just singing his heart out to nobody. I think that is so much of living life in the arts (like music, writing, painting) - so much time is spent singing your heart out because it is who you are and what you are whether anyone is listening or not. And sometimes when you've just done your best work you find there was someone there after all. You ever need an ear - Mr. Ipsissimus and I have two each and really enjoy your company!

At April 06, 2008 10:37 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hello dear Ipsissimus! You make an excellent point that got me thinking. You wrote: " much time is spent singing your heart out because it is who you are and what you are whether anyone is listening or not..."
That's the writer in you coming out, and the words are true. The think I must do is recognize and embrace that thing I have to do. It may be time to go back inside an organization. The hard part about the work I do is that once a project is over and you turn this new wonderful person over to the organization, you walk away and hope it works. I think I miss the long term commitment to a single mission driven thing with its ups and downs and changes and successes. Thanks for helping me think that out a little.

I'm so glad Shameless intrduced me to you and Mr. Ips! But...don't you have four ears? Let me know, because I may need them all!

Missing the Snack-Arena,

At April 06, 2008 11:02 AM, Blogger Ipsissimus said...

Ah, see, that's why I need editors for my writing. I wrote "that we have two each" and it would have been clearer to write "both of us have two ears" to make it clearer. I'm thrilled I might be able to work a deal with Piepiepie to get my novel edited!


At April 06, 2008 11:10 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

OH!LOL! When I read this on my Jamberry at 11:45, I missed the "each" part and the "we have two" stuck. So, you did the write thing--it was my overtired brain. But the rest of your comment still stuck. Off to Hiram this afternoon to mingle with the music department folk and watch that extraordinary Irish fiddler Liz Carroll do her thang.

At April 06, 2008 11:11 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

OH! And YES! The Power of Pie's Editorial Pen will get you where you need to be. How smart! Hee!


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