Archive for April, 2012

Life Of Possibilities

I feel like I haven’t done much recently. Sure, I’ve been to a dozen shows, but this was a front-loaded month. And I have been working some OT. But not that much. Certainly, I haven’t been writing. Not because I haven’t had things to say, but because I just haven’t made myself sit down and write. Yes, there’s been plenty of playoff hockey, and getting together with friends, and all those things that make up life. With some of the new fun things like figuring out where the hell I am going to live mixed in. But fundamentally, it doesn’t feel like there’s been any more or less. Just less time where I’ve chosen the option that maybe takes a bit more effort. Even as a reflection of the music I’ve gone to see, I have not actually been making myself go out there and see bands. I feel like I’ve fallen into the trap of convenience.

There hasn’t been a particular ethos guiding it either. I’d love to say that if I go through the effort of bringing lunch to work for a week it’s because it’s better for me or costs less. But really, I just don’t want to move all the junk that’s cluttering up the cupboards in my apartment in a month. I’ve found as the years have gone on that it’s at least best to be honest with myself about my motivations for why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that being my motivator. In fact, I think it’s a capital idea that I take care of the things that I have sitting around my apartment that need doing in the sense of getting rid of things, using the food that I have, donate clothes I don’t wear anymore and so on. If it’s not illegal and it’s not hurting anyone, whatever moves you, right? Though some sources of motivation obviously come from better places than others. At its most simplistic, no one wants to be told they have to do anything most of the time; we’d rather at least feel that the option is ours.

Taken in that context, we are doing things not because of the expectations of others, but the expectations we have of ourselves. But there are mutlifarious factors that feed into all of that. Even a decision as simple as what to eat can get fraught. Right, what’s in it, how healthy is it, how much does it cost (whether you make it or not, there’s a cost attached). All that kind of stuff can very quickly pile up and obfuscate a rather simple factor. Is this what we want? I was thinking about this as a caught up with old friends this weekend and we had a lot of fun on Friday. From one angle, maybe all the decisions we made weren’t the greatest. We stayed up pretty late, and had some food that was probably not the best (though hopefully was enjoyable) and had several adult beverages. But there are so many other metrics. These were friends I hadn’t seen in a while, so I didn’t mind staying out, catching up, and having another drink or two. I do enough other things in my life to budget the appropriate resources so I can do that. I can sleep in the next morning, and I can have that extra drink, because for me, that’s what living is about.

It’s a time to remember that. It’s easy to forget why I do things. It’s easy to go home after a long day at work and say, well, I already got my workout in because I rode today, so I can just sit here and do nothing. That’s one of the many reasons I do ride. And when I feel like doing that, that’s fine. But when I just can’t overcome the slight inertia to get myself out the door even though there are things that need doing? That’s when it becomes an issue. It hasn’t gotten to that yet, certainly. Though I do feel like I have passed up a couple shows I wanted to see (obviously not enough) due to that feeling recently. But it’s important to remember not to get to the point where it is extreme. It’s a simple thing to turn on Netflix or go get some food elsewhere quickly before retreating to my place. The motivations don’t have to be grand, and there are plenty of nights where just staying in to recharge is an honest enough motivation. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just making sure I check with myself. Is that what I want? There’s no crime in convenience. Sometimes that’s an honest enough motivator. But whether the decision is as big as whether I’m buying a condo (still quite undecided) or as small as if I do really want to get breakfast at Keys, that check always has to be there. Sometimes I just need reminding.

And I as I think about it in the context of the larger decisions (should I go back to school? should I buy a condo>), I realize that just as much with the small decisions, there’s just no way to definitively know. It’s a cost of living. We just can’t trod down every path laid out for us. The simple decisions don’t necessarily carry a ton more weight than the big ones, though. It’s impossible to lay out all of the factors that will affect where I am going to be in a year, for example. But the simple motivations can compound. Too many days of eating poorly compounded by too many days of not riding and I lose the modicum of personal care that I’ve gained. Of course, there’s no simple formula. Sometimes I have to go against convenience. Every morning, there’s still always a little debate about whether I should ride. Every morning there’s always going to be that debate.

But there’s no room for doubt in that regard. I make decisions. Sometimes they will be wrong. Sometimes it’s a very little thing. Sometimes it’s not. I can’t control that totally though. I am always working with incomplete information. For the same reason I can’t feel bad about sitting round and watching too much Doctor Who, I can’t feel bad if I do end up purchasing a condo and it doesn’t work out like I expected it. It’s not a guarantee. It’s a possibility. Sometimes we challenge ourselves. Sometimes we do things for the sake of convenience. Sometimes we’ll never fully realize why we do the things we do. That and so many other things inform everything we do, every day. Tonight, for example, I will not be staying in. I will be at Frankie Rose. Going out on Sunday is tough, but she’s worth overcoming the general inertia of a Sunday night. Besides, I never sleep great on Sundays. But setting aside justifications, I just want to go. And I do know that.

46 Days

It’s not by design, but I have been pretty quiet the past couple weeks. I can’t say I’ve been working too much. This week, at least, I can’t say I’ve been going out too much. What I can say is that I just have been a bit disengaged. Or rather distracted by a number of other things. I’ve always tried to do a good job of leaving work at work, but as I climb the corporate ladder little by little, I find this to be tougher to do. There’s that California trip I’m planning, which has taken a fair amount of planning and research, and most of it seems to be together now, and the rest I’ll just have to figure out as I go along. But by far, the thing that’s been weighing on me the most is that as of right now, I will have no place to live in 46 days.

Not that this is a new phenomenon. I have moved a lot in the Twin Cities, and moved yearly in college as well. I know the drill by now. What makes this different than other times is that I am actively looking to buy instead of rent. It’s just not a renter’s market right now; I knew that well before I got my lease renewal paperwork, but that confirmed my suspicion when the price went up a bit more than I expected. Not that I blame my landlords in any way. They are having no problem renting these units out (last I heard, mine was the only one left, and the lack of notices that people are looking this weekend leads me to believe they finished that off). It’s a great building; Light Rail is coming in behind it, right behind the onsite parking. There are several wonderful local places within a couple blocks, from the fine dining of Heartland to my favorite haunt The Bulldog (someday I’ll write about what being a regular at a bar is like). Mears Park is across the street, and whether it’s the Christmas lights, the parade of weddings, the wonderful line-up of outdoor music or just a good place to let your dog out, it’s a pretty great little square block of park to have across the street from you. Skyway access is but a block away, which connects you with the other side of downtown on those days where it’s not any fun walking outside. That’s not even mentioning that the Saints stadium is most likely coming to Lowertown as well. It’s a pretty great place to live.

All of which leads me to believe this is where I want to continue to live. Not this very apartment, but this general area. I love the feel of Lowertown. Even if it makes me feel like I’m on the other side of the world when it comes to planning events with my friends in Minneapolis. Plus, as I enumerated above, there’s a lot going on here. I really sincerely feel like this would be a great time to lock into this very area of the city. And as I look around at the various buildings where condos are available, I’m spending a lot of energy sizing up what is and isn’t important to me. How much is Skyway access worth? What about an extra parking space for visitors? How much am I going to get out of my association fees compared to what I’m getting now? Do I really want to lock into a residence after all these years of renting? I have dealt with this as I deal with many things in life (empirically attempting to judge what’s worth what), complete with a spreadsheet and everything. And I haven’t even really done any serious looking yet. I’ve been a bit bogged down in dealing with the broker onsite at work, but that is clearing itself up. And I have to move quickly.

Not that I should rush into buying. I just have to make a decision to some degree. If trying to buy isn’t coming together soon, what am I doing with all of my stuff? And where the hell will I stay in the meantime? I’ll figure out something. While it bears some thinking, it’s not worth worrying about too much at this point. 46 days is a long time, and I’ve got other problems to focus on. But it has clearly weighed on me somewhat in the past week or so. Which is why it’s worth writing about. It’s how I work things out. Maybe you talk it out. Maybe you internalize it. I like to write, and put together information. Maybe I should make a list (Ha! I am my father’s daughter). No matter, it just helps to get it out. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’ve done all the thinking I need to for the time being. The next 46 days should be about trying to figure it out.

I know what I want. But as I learned when I moved to Lowertown two years ago, that can change. So yes, I’m thinking about this immediate area. But I also can’t forget Minneapolis (specifically the North Loop) or even some other areas of Saint Paul (like up on Grand). Because you never know what you are going to find. The same way that I’ve been open overall to the thought of moving out of state, I must be open to moving around the area. Within reason, of course. I’m a city girl. I know that. I love the walkability of a city. I know those are things I’m not willing to give up. Not that I’m going to say never to a suburb again. But it’s definitely not what I want now, and it hasn’t been what I’ve wanted for years. Not that I can predict exactly where I’m going to be in 5 years, but I don’t think that will change. But I just don’t know, and there’s no reason to say stupid things like that. As of right now, though, I’m not looking for anything outside of either city (or the Twin Cities itself…calm down, California peeps). It’s just where I’m at. My current job makes sense. And I love my city. Maybe looking at a couple places in Minneapolis will reinforce that. Or it’ll change my mind. Hard to say, really. The only way to know is to find out.

I’ll never get to do it all of course. I can’t live everywhere I want to, I can’t do everything I want to. I certainly can’t afford all of the things I want to, either. There are a lot of limiting factors in life. But I am okay with all of that. Where I’m at right now is not so bad. And rather than dwell on where I’m going to live too much like I have this week, it’s time to get back out there. I took a week off from shows (not the greatest week on the calendar or I was busy, friends out of town, wasn’t feeling it), but it’s time to get back to that. And then there’s that pending California trip. Plus, there’s just things to do. Happy hours and shows and work and biking and writing and all those little things that make life wonderful. I will be living someplace on June 1st. Not sure where, of course. But someplace. In the next 46 days, I’ll figure it out. Not to sound too flippant, of course. Buying a home is a big decision. But life is full of a lot of big decisions. I don’t want to come across like I’m thinking about it the same way I am wondering what I’ll have for dinner tonight. There’s obviously a different kind of gravity between those kinds of decisions. But all the same, it’s a decision, and I just have to make it after a certain point. I will always have incomplete information. Of course it could end up not working out. I’m fully cognizant that a lot more can not work out when it comes to homes (I see it every day, after all) than to whether I choose to get some cheap Chinese tonight. But I can’t get so distracted by that that I’m not out there living life, enjoying myself, all the while working on figuring this out and doing what I can as I go.

Mixtape #3 – Lousy Smarch Weather

Click here for February’s.

Sorry for the delay. While I managed to get a little writing in in Virginia, I did not manage to have good enough access to music-producing devices (short of bands themselves) to actually give this a listen. I started March (Boy Friend, Young Prisms, Prissy Clerks) with a show, ended March with a show (Cloud Nothings, A Classic Education), and somewhere in between I found time to see a few others. 17 in Brustian fashion if my math is correct. It was a fun month. I didn’t quite manage to bike to my first show yet, but it’s coming soon. Spring is in the air and band after band is touring. It’s wonder I found time to do things like get a promotion, sleep, or travel. But you have to give a little to get a little. I saw a little bit of everything. Noise pop from London, more classically styled 80s pop from Italy, some straight up classic rockers from Canada, all sorts of stuff across the US, and plenty of good music grown right here in Minnesota. And I didn’t even need to go to Austin to do it. April doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either. In fact, with the nice weather and some of the great double bills throughout the city, it looks like there might be a lot of double-dipping in my near future. But I don’t mind that.

For the first time in a while, I feel like I’ve gone to shows by myself again. Not that it’s bad to have friends to go to shows with. I love it. But going to shows alone is a different experience. And for whatever reason, I feel like I’ve done it a bit more in the recent past. Travel was part of it, but it just seemed that conflicting schedules and shows led to a few more solo ventures. And they are unusual things. You have no distractions, it’s just the music being played to focus on. It might be a less-fulfilling experience in regard to the overall experience (friends can make a lot of things better), but you can really focus on the music and evaluate it properly. Of course, you can just as easily fall into your phone and ignore the experience these days. But solo shows are like that. It’s weird, but ultimately nice to know that I still have that ability. As with any social experience, it can be hard to get over the hump and do it by yourself for most people. Whether it’s the culpability of others to force you into going or the fact that it’s just a different kind of enjoyment and satisfaction that many individuals might not want isn’t my place to say. But it is different. Maybe I’ll talk about that more in October, in honor of one of the month that hosted one of the first shows I ever distinctly recall going to by myself (Figurines, many moons ago).

March also provided a stark reminder of why I went to so many of those shows by myself. But that, that is a tale that has been told many times, and while it informs the end of this mix most pointedly in its closing two track, there’s no reason to tread that ground again. And there’s no reason not to celebrate music. And there’s a lot of music out there to discover. So here’s tracks from bands, mostly that I’ve seen recently. But there’s a few hints of what’s to come (I’m hoping for a Beach House show in the near future) sprinkled in. Though, looking at it, this is a backward-looking mix in a lot of regards. I’ve had a lot on my mind, and the past is never that far away.

Free Energy – Electric Fever
Chapter 24 – Spindle
Prissy Clerks – No Sir
Islands – Bobby, Don’t Call Me Whitney
E.L.O. – Mr. Blue Sky
Death And Vanilla – Cul De Sac
Beach House – Myth
Phantom Vibration – Intrigue
Grimes – Vanessa
Boy Friend – Spirit Burner
Food Pyramid – Oh Mercy
EMA – Butterfly Knife
Lower Dens – Brains
Young Prisms – To Touch You
Cursive – Dorothy At 40
The Mountain Goats – Source Decay

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