My tweets of the last week:
Archives for 2011
My tweets of the last week:
My tweets of the last week:
I have been stumped about a song for over a year.
Does that sentence almost defy belief? In this age of internet searches and mobile devices and song-identifying apps we are supposed to be able to find any song at any time. Do you remember the old way of doing things? I can recall more than one instance of standing next to my mother at a record store as she physically hummed a song to a clerk in the hopes they could identify it for her.
My problem? My song didn’t have any words. Or, at least, I’ve never really noticed the words before. It has this digitized “oh oh oh” vocoder riff that gets easily stuck in my head, but that’s all I knew about it. That, and that it sounded similar enough to the much more frequently-heard “Let the Music Play” that I freak out about it at least once a week in the car.
Figuring out the name of this song has become one of my top ten missions in life, right beside trying to go a week without buying anything from Amazon. I sing it to people constantly. On elevators, even. No one ever seems to know what I’m talking about. I don’t know a long enough snippet to identify it with a music app. I have nothing to go on.
Which brings us to Friday night.
It is almost midnight, and I am driving E and I home from The Muppets. It should be pointed out that this is only my fourth time ever driving in New Jersey, and I might be feeling a little bit tense.
The song comes on the radio just as I clear the toll plaza for the Ben Franklin Bridge. I have previously driven through a toll plaza exactly twice, and their lack of defined lanes completely freakw me out.
The opening vocoder riff chimes as I pull away from the toll, navigating through the funnel of madness that is the post-toll lanelessness. The singer begins to sing lyrics. Words! I must remember words! I start repeating them to myself, but they are not sinking in because the bridge is down to two westbound lanes, which renders the space between me and a concrete divider in the middle to be about the size of a breadbox. It requires every spare synapse to keep the car moving forward in one piece.The vocals continue. I try repeating one phrase over and over like a mantra, but as my attention strays from the road I veer uncomfortably close to the car on our right.
“Elise,” I call over to the passenger seat, “I need you to help me remember the words. Any words.”
I do not risk a glance to my right. E had a not-small quantity of Jack Daniels at the movie and for all intents and purposes turned into a Muppet. I am riding in the car with a member of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. This is probably for the best, as completely sober I’m sure she would have reached across to take the wheel from me at this point.
“Hmm?” she queries, bopping along to the music not unlike a guitar-playing puppet made out of high quality felt.
“Try to remember the words. Any words. Three words. Please.”
“Sure,” she said, still bopping.
Flash forward to our arrival at home (or maybe the next day?). I sat down at the coffee table and loaded Google, ready to finally reveal the identity of my stymying secret song. I called to E, who was puttering around in the kitchen.
“Honey, what where the words to the song?”
“Hmm?” she queried, peeking her head into the living room.
“You know, the song from the car, ‘Oh oh oh OH oh oh ohoh.’ What were the words?”
“Oh, um… something about a door.”
“Yes,” she replied, sounding very certain.
“Were they opening a door? Perhaps going through the door?”
“Possibly which?” I asked, grasping for any further hint she could provide.
“There was definitely a door.”
Feel free to Google the terms 80s, door, lyrics, and “oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.” Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
No, “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz is not one of the early results. I sprawled across the couch in resignation. I had come so close to solving my musical riddle, only to be foiled by my uncertain driving and E’s being a Jim Henson creation.
Yet, here we are, rocking out to “I Can’t Wait” thanks to the magic of YouTube.
How did I figure it out? Though I did not come away with any words, I did manage to acquire an indelible memory of the bassline. This morning I caught the elevator with one of my partners in insanity and music-loving, MK.
I told her about my dilemma, and when we reached our neighboring desks, I turned to her. “Okay, MK, this is really serious. You have to help me figure out this song.”
“I’m ready,” she said, fixing me with a steely stare.
I began to sing my newly recollected bassline. “Bum buh ba, bum ba, BUM ba … Bum buh ba, bum ba, BUM ba.”
MK paused for nary a second before singing the hook in reply, “Oh oh oh OH oh oh ohoh.” We had created an office acappella group worthy of televised competition. We were breaking down some hot 80s jams.
MK interrupted her vocoder imitation for a second, “Oh, I totally know this one!”
I took a breath between fat bass beats, “What’s it called?!”
My boss emerged from her office just as our neighbor Chris poked his head over the cube wall.
“It’s called ‘I Can’t Wait,'” they shouted in unison, unphased by our suddenly convened doo wop duo. Then they returned to their desks without batting an eye, as this was no more unusual than our semi-weekly Tuesday afternoon Cher karaoke hour.
“Well,” I turned to MK, grinning a satisfied grin, “that settles that.”
Now I have a few extra synapses to rub together for other purposes.
My tweets of the last week:
Tonight we held our second Filmstar rehearsal sans drums, as we are now without Zina aside from a few wrap up recordings and gigs.
It is weird. This is the first time I’ve ever been a party to a change in band members. I keep thinking of all these little things, like friends of ours who never got to see us with Zina, or the fun riff we do together in “Weight of the World.”
Would a new drummer do the riff just like Zina does it? I made sure to do all of the old bass player’s riffs verbatim until I had a chance to ask about changing them, or feel that they could change.
I really like that riff, though.
I joined Filmstar as a unit of Glenn, Elise, and Zina, and I purposefully held myself apart from the unit. It was Filmstar, with Peter on bass. I didn’t want to be billed any higher than that, I tried not to vote on any official band business, and I fought to avoid appearing in photos. It was their band – I was just a hired gun.
I don’t know what I am now. Tonight Glenn and E talked about things that make us worth drumming with, and things we’re looking for in a drummer. At this point “I” am implicit in the “we.” I mean, am I really going to hold myself apart form having a say in my new partner in the rhythm section?
Ultimately it’s Glenn’s band and E’s voice, and whether I get a permanent vote on anything or not I’m there to support that and to try to help them execute their vision. That’s what I would want a supporting member of Arcati Crisis to do for me and Gina.
I don’t know if I would understand how to lead Arcati Crisis as a band without being a follower in Filmstar. I wouldn’t be as good of a contributor to Filmstar if I didn’t have the experience of needing others to contribute to my and Gina’s vision for Arcati Crisis.
I think somewhere in the midst of all that I stopped being able to claim that I don’t have a clue about what it takes to be in a rock band.
Do you know any good drummers?
Editor’s Note: For reasons unbeknownst to me, I never hit publish on this post when I first wrote it on 11/30/11. I have a slightly different perspective on this topic now, having worked at a start-up and become a parent, but I still find value in the thoughts of a prior me. That’s the entire point of this blog. I’ve edited about five words, added about 30, and retroactively published it to the blog at the point it was written. – PM, 6/14/2016
If you are striving for work-life balance as if it is some complex and delicate equation where both sides can be equal at all times you are doing it wrong. I don’t think I would be as happy or as successful if I had terrific and constant balance between the two.
Over the summer I went out to lunch with an intern from outside of our department who I only knew from hallways and elevator rides. While we ate she quizzed me on what I do for a living, and what I do at home. Her jaw dropped as I unfurled my litany of activities and relationships – and this was a super-active student at an Ivy League school!
She asked me what I skipped to keep myself going, and I answered truthfully. “Meals, laundry, current events, going out at night.”
And I love it. Not just my life, but my friends who are marathoners and magazine editors, fundraisers and foodies.
Work-Life balance says we should learn how to keep the peanut butter and jelly of our home and work separated. Stop working after work. Stop bringing devices to the table. Build downtime into your schedule. Do some chores every day. The theory is, if we make more time to live as people at home, we’ll have less distractions to work with focus at the office.
On this, I call bullshit. If I strove for that kind of balance I wouldn’t average a promotion every 22 months, or be on an unbroken streak of playing a show every month for over a year. All that would be different is that I’d have perfectly folded laundry and I’d watch a lot of inane television shows.
That said, I don’t think the things work-life balance experts suggest are entirely wrong. Instead, I think we need to focus on a “passion/passive” balance.
What’s the difference? I think of it in two parts.
1. Work and Life should be interchangeably exciting
Why should we treat the work brain and the home brain as two separate entities, like hoopy frood Zaphod Beeblebrox? Our goal in life should be engaging 100% in what we’re doing at all times – even when we’re sleeping!
If what makes me feel engaged is writing a project plan at midnight, so be it. Similarly, if I didn’t have the passion of my blog or my music tugging at my brain, my creative work would have no urgency.
Does that mean I should skip dinner for a project plan, or interrupt a meeting to post a blog? God, no. That would make me a moron. Do I need work-life balance to not be a moron?
If you let your passion drive your life, both work-you and home-you can be engaged and productive. Instead of listless email checks at night just to be the first-responder, you might whip open your laptop late at night when a bolt of inspiration about a big project hits you.
That’s totally healthy, and totally passionate.
2. Idleness is the holiday of fools.
That’s what the Chinese food fortune presiding over my desk reminds me every day. I disagree with the idea of scheduling daily chores and regular downtime. Do you want to remember your year by the amount of daily chores you did or the amount of time you made to sit on your couch?
Instead, recognize that even when you love life you can’t be passionate all the time. When your passion ebbs it’s time for some high quality maintenance and planning.
A few weeks ago I worked five days, took two classes, played two shows, held a rehearsal, and loaded in and out of a conference. It was awesome – one of my best weeks ever – and I would have never accomplished it if I had scheduled in downtime. But at the end of it I had a Saturday of reading in my PJs, which meant I also had the chance to catch up on maintaining my life.
Everyone is a different blend of introvert and extrovert and we all need a different mix of passive downtime relative to our passionate uptime. Prescribing that we need thirty minutes a day of meditative dish washing might not be for everyone. You can’t prescribe idleness the same way you can recommend how many ounces of water to drink each day.
In the words of my thought-partner Britt and I, this is “FAME.”
FAME isn’t being famous. FAME is the act and feeling of constantly achieving your wildest dreams (they start small at first, then grow; FAME is never over), and having friends, family, and eventually strangers support you in your endeavors.
My tweets of the last week: