15 Minutes (2/5/20)

Let’s face it, I’ve been quite comfortable, in every sense of the word. Straight up, too comfortable. Like zero growth comfortable.

The maybe last year and a half to two years, I fell into a routine of sleeping late, and waking up late, then going to gigs, perhaps the gym afterward, maybe watch a movie (or two), and sleep late again. Sometimes two to three weeks straight of gigging every night was the only excuse I needed not to touch my guitar or sing when I was at home.  

In a month, sprinkled here and there, would be a few good days where I woke up before noon (and got 8 hours of sleep), took care of my emails and invoices/contracts, picked up my guitar, practiced and studied some theory, and tried to learn something new. Sometimes I’d even do a little songwriting. 

In the last month, I’ve had more good days than I probably had all of last year. It’s sad to say that, but I’m still happy to say it at the same time. I’m hoping I can keep this up for as long as possible. Maybe I’ll have more good days in the next two months than I did in the last three years! It’s been a comfortable last few years, and I thought maybe I needed some poverty to be uncomfortable. It looks like I just needed to build some daily habits, with the help of some friends. Being uncomfortable in the beginning, but feeling proud and accomplished afterward. 

Oh, the title of this entry, “15 minutes.” That’s the minimum amount of time for certain things like “writing,” practicing piano, learning some music theory, listening to/learning new music, moving of some kind, that I want to commit to every day. If I happen to go over 15 minutes, great, but 15 minutes isn’t too daunting for me to not start at all. Baby steps.

Keeping up with these things as a daily habit would be amazing, but if I happen to take a day off or two in between, it’s still better than I’ve been doing the last five or so years. Here are a few of those things I’d like to stay on top of:

  1. Running. After two years of saying I missed it, I started running again. I can’t run everyday, cause I’m pretty sure at this bodyweight, it’s not great for my joints. I need some recovery time between what feels like marathons. For the last few weeks, running two to three times a week has been the norm. I’m okay with that! From my triathlon days, I was told by my coaches that endurance exercises don’t hurt less the more you do them, you just start going faster. It’s still true.
  2. Diet. Diet is a loaded word, but I’m comfortable using it since I think I have a pretty healthy relationship with food. Luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth or unhealthy food cravings, so I generally, to the best of my knowledge, make smart food choices. I’ve been overweight most of my adult life. Never seen my abs, though I’m sure they’re nice under there. Not that having visible abs is a sign of good health, but just my way of saying I’ve had excess body fat. It’s sometimes hard because when I eat around other people, they tell me I don’t need to eat like that, they say, “you’re not fat!” For whatever reason, the way my clothes fit on me, and the way my body holds onto excess fat (mostly in my midsection), it’s true, I don’t look to the outside eye to be “fat.” Sometimes they’d convince me, and I’d grind whatever. But I have no illusions or delusions of my body fat percentage; it’s some number that’s not in a healthy range. I see more and more young people in their 20’s and 30’s, with health complications from having too much body fat. It’s heart stuff, diabetes, and even gout. That shit scares the hell out of me! I need to decide for myself not to care about other people’s perceptions of my body and know that what I’m doing is for the benefit and betterment of my own health. 
  3. Writing. It starts here, just writing anything. 15 minutes of something on my mind. A song idea. A to-do list. Write. Write anything. Let’s keep it simple for now.
  4. Music. I decided to leave my engineering job to pursue something in music. I believed that I could positively affect more people through music than I ever could as an engineer. What I’ve learned in the last year was just how expansive the music business world is, and how many different types of jobs are included in that. It’s almost overwhelming, but luckily I can play to my strengths for now and use that as a filter. I’m pretty good at singing. Like not to toot my own horn, I’m objectively a better-than-average singer, and I can check that off as one of my strengths. Musicality, however, is not one of my strengths. But I’m not willing to concede to that just yet. 15 minutes of musicality practice a day. I primarily play guitar, but I also want to learn to play the piano. Music theory has been quite daunting to me for years, but from what tiny glimpse I’ve had, it conceptually clicks more with me through the piano than on the guitar. 
  5. Email. I’m not terrible at replying to emails promptly, but I’m not great at it either. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been really on top of it. Since Cat has been waking me up and says, “go write,” I listen (when I’m not playing dead for 30 minutes). I open up the computer to write, and when I’m done, I just pop on over to the Mail app and get to work. 
  6. Catherine. I never get tired of seeing her or talking to her. Even when she’s venting to me about work or a case she’s working on, it feels like watching a TV show, and I want to know all the details. Sometimes she smiles at me and says, “what?” I don’t realize I smiled at her first, and she’s just smiling back. She makes me smile, shoot me. I definitely want to spend more than 15 minutes a day on this part of my life. I’ll take all the time she’ll allow me, and try and facilitate more 🙂

Catherine said the other day, after reading one of these posts, “if anyone actually reads this, what are they going to think you ever did without me?” I said, “Nothing. I did nothing without you.” Thanks, Cat 🙂 

Carryon (2/3/20)

I started packing a carryon suitcase last night. Opened the zippers, all 3 of them, and felt around in the pockets that I was too lazy to do a visual inspection of. It wasn’t even a month since I last used this particular suitcase, and I looked at it with a smile. No, Mari Kondo, this suitcase doesn’t give me joy, but what it represents this week does. The end of this week will be quite hectic with gigs and whatnot. Saturday will be especially eventful!

Saturday:
9:00 am Wake up
9:05 am morning poop
9:15 am hop back into bed and rest my eyes
9:57 am wake up in a panic and look for pants.
10:30 am speed into Natsunoya Tea House parking lot
11:00 am Downstrum for our classmate Drew’s wedding 🙂
1:00 pm Finito! Pack up everything
1:20 pm Hopefully be done packing, grab our shoes at the door, book it out of there
2:00 pm Hopefully be at Nutridge estate to set up for another fellow Kamehameha grad, Winston, the ‘blue eyed beast’s wedding.
4:00 pm Ceremony starts
4:30 pm Cocktail hour, we’re on!
7:15 pm start packing up my gear
7:45 pm Hopefully I’ll be in my car heading down the mountain
8:00 pm Arrive at Honolulu Club for a shower
8:30 pm Leave Honolulu Club
8:45 pm Leave car at an undisclosed location, catch a Lyft to the Airport
9:00 pm get in TSA line
10:50 pm take off for LAX 🙂

Yeah, I’m going back to the west coast — the third time since September. On my last visit, during the New Year holidays, Catherine told me she and her friends were planning on going to the One Love festival in Long Beach, a weekend-long reggae concert. She said I should come, I said, I’ll be there. Last night on the phone, I mentioned to Catherine that I was going to start packing my suitcase, and she said it’ll make the week go by slow if I see it all week. So I have it hiding behind a wall of hanging close in my spare bedroom. Problem solved. I was too excited today to not do any packing.

If I could, I’d go to sleep right now and wake up Saturday morning. I’m on my way Cat.

Udemy? (2/4/2020)

I think I’m going to sign up for a Udemy course to learn piano/keyboard.
It’s been fun just doodling on it the past week, but I think it’s time to get some actual instructions.

I signed up for a few Udemy classes in the past, and I enjoyed them. One for photography, and another for guitar mastery. Neither of which I mastered yet, but that’s because I stopped logging onto Udemy and taking the lessons. You know life. But new year, new me, as they say. Thanks to Cat, who’s been waking me up a few hours earlier than I would on my own, I’ve been much more productive these last couple of weeks, and it feels good to be more on top of things. I felt like I had all the time in the world since I only “work” a few hours a night. However, I wasn’t putting in the work that I needed to at home, that I’m sure my other musician friends are. I’m doing them a disservice by slacking off at home.

Since I’m talking about that, let’s talk about that. I think it’s a misconception that a lot of people have about us “gigging musicians” that our life is so easy since we only “work” maybe 2-3 hours at gigs. But that doesn’t include the setup and breakdown of equipment. When we play new songs, it’s hours and hours put into that one song. The part I’ve been slacking off on was the overall improvement of my musicality, or practicing guitar and music theory. Taking care of the voice is a whole other task. According to my voice coach, Renson Madarang, the vocal folds are one of the last places in the body that receive hydration. So, as singers, we need to have the perception that we’re overhydrating to have adequate hydration for good vocal fold health. He also recommends doing certain singing drills throughout the day to “massage” the vocal folds. Then there’s all the correspondence and bookkeeping. If you’re lucky enough, you have a lot of inquiries and business opportunities, and your inbox needs regular maintenance and upkeep. There are emails to respond to, contracts to sign, and invoices to send. Being self-employed has a fair share of “things you didn’t need to worry about as an employee.” The big one is taxes. Without an employer to withhold taxes, you’re left to manage that yourself. Maybe you’re completely on top of your finances, but I’m sure for some, it’d be hard to hold onto 30% of all the checks coming in to set aside, just for taxes. So not savings, just money you can’t use, because you’re going to have to pay self employment, State, and Federal taxes eventually. Let’s not talk about dental and health insurance.

Well, that was exhausting. Going to finish up my emails, then I think I’ll browse Udemy for a piano course, and spend an hour on that. Then another hour or two on learning some new songs, and maybe an hour trying to write original stuff. After that, it’s time for “work.” Merriman’s tonight! While I’m at it, maybe I’ll throw another article of clothing in that carryon I started packing.