Whoop Whoop (2/6/20)

Cat had to do a little traveling for work today, so I never got a wake-up call this morning, but I still woke up to a pleasant wake-up text! I had a productive night of recovery, according to my WHOOP app. It’s like a Fitbit, but there’s no display screen on it. It purely collects data. I spent nine hours and twenty 5 minutes in bed, with nine hours and eleven minutes of actual sleep — 98 % efficiency.

So I don’t remember where I heard about the whoop thing, but it was on a podcast I listen to maybe. It’s made for athletes to understand their workload, recovery, and sleep better. All of which are tied together. The reason I got it was for the sleep aspect. I’ve had trouble sleeping in the past, so I wanted something to be able to track that to see where I could get better. Also, the effect of just having something to follow psychologically makes me want to “beat” myself at sleeping every night. Like have better sleep than the last, or have a better average sleep this week than last week. So far, with this little wrist band, and the occasional help of some melatonin, my sleep this last month or two with it has been much better. I still have bad days where I need to wake up early for something, and having that on my mind makes it hard for me to fall asleep, and I end up getting 3-5 hours instead of 8. But I’d say 80% of the time I’m having much more effective sleep than the last two or three years. As I said, it tracks your cardiovascular workload displayed as “Strain,” and based on this and your recovery (and some other factors), it produces your recovery score, or effectively how much you can workout today! It’s pretty cool, but again, I bought this for the sleep aspect.

I realize I’m posting this a day late, but I wanted to post it anyway, since I think sleep is very important. The more I read about it, the more I’m convinced that all though people can say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” They’re gonna “sleep” many years sooner than if they’re not getting adequate sleep every night. I know you can’t predict what will happen to you, and we could depart this existence at any point without warning or reason, but that’s not a good reason to take care of yourself and be prepared to stick around for a long time. But anyway, you do you. I’ll keep trying to get my 8-ish hours of sleep every night. Sweet Dreams.

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.

Gratitutde

Five things.

  1. A super generous uncle
  2. Catherine
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Orchestra in intermediate and High School
  5. Sodastream

My uncle that I live with, is more generous to me than I deserve. First of all, he lets me stay with him and his family for almost nothing (which I will stick to for legal reasons, haha). He’s saved me in a pinch when I needed speakers for a wedding ceremony since he happens to have battery-powered Bose speakers that some of my friends gig with, but he just uses to listen to music while working in the garage. He lets me borrow his expensive camera to take photos with when I need it, like when I went over to the Big Island to shoot some photos of the owls with my friend Darcy. He even lets me take over his home to host parties and cook massive amounts of food. The latest example of generosity was allowing me to borrow one of the two keyboards that he owns. It’s much nicer than anything I’d ever know what to do with. One day we were talking, and he asked me how my music was going. I mentioned that I was thinking of buying a keyboard on craigslist or amazon to fiddle around with, and he said, “Nah no need, just take one of mine.” I’ve spent maybe an hour on it, and it’s crazy just how much easier it is to learn music theory than on a guitar. In theory, I knew what inversions of chords were, but the visual of it on a keyboard makes the theory party stick a bit more in my mind. I’m very much looking forward to doodling more on this thing.

I didn’t mention that I had this conversation about the keyboard with my uncle months ago. Catherine told me to stop procrastinating and borrow it already. Thanks, Cat. Also, she got me to write on here two days in a row!

Wikipedia… Music theory. That is all.

This whole post is kind of about the keyboard. But if not for orchestra in intermediate and high school, I wouldn’t have this general grasp of music theory knowledge to pull from. I didn’t think learning the notes on a piano, so I could have a reference note to tune my standup bass from, would come in so much handy today. Clutch. 

I lied, the whole post isn’t about the keyboard. I purchased a Sodastream machine from Target like a month ago. It’s one of those contraptions that allows you to carbonate your water. Safeway and Costco were getting a ton of money from me in the form of bottles and bottles of sparkling water purchases. In turn, I have piles and piles of trash bags full of plastic bottles that need to get taken to get recycled. Figured it might end up costing more to buy the CO₂ cartridges, but it’d save me time and would probably be better for the environment in the long run. Doing the keto diet right now, and the one craving I have isn’t rice, or candy, or ice cream. It’s “bubbles.” Sometimes, all I need is a little bit of carbonation in my life. Hits the spot. 

Influenced

When I sat down here in the spare bedroom that I thought I’d be using as my “music room,” but has just been acting as “the room I hang my laundry in,” I wasn’t sure what I’d write. But It became clear what I’d write about today when I looked over at Catherine there on my phone through the magic of FaceTime. Oh, what a time we live in.  

I wish I could say I started typing this of my own volition, but Catherine pulled on the motivation strings today. When I think about it, she’s been tugging on those motivation strings for the last few months. And I’m okay with that. Catherine asked me yesterday if I’ve been writing, and I embarrassingly replied, “no.” I laughed nervously and responded with, “honestly, I should just be striving to write just 15 minutes a day, of any kind of writing.” She said, “yeah, you should… I’ll call you from work, and you’ll have to write for 15 minutes with me while I work.” I didn’t realize she meant today because she woke me up with a facetime and an enthusiastic “get up! Work with me!”

The last few months I’ve spent watching her fall asleep, and she’s been waking my lazy ass up. When you say it like that, it seems like I have the harder part of this arrangement, but I don’t just watch her fall asleep, okay? She found this cheap little adapter on Amazon that allows me to turn off and on whatever she has plugged into it from an app on my phone. So sometimes she’ll fall asleep watching me on Facetime while I’m at a gig, and I’ll make sure I turn off the lantern she has plugged in mid-song. Other times I’ll be at home, and I’ll sing her to sleep while I sit in my computer chair and play my nylon string guitar and sing in as much of a whisper as I possibly can. Sometimes she’ll fall asleep while I chop up veggies for whatever I’m cooking for dinner. Luckily she falls asleep relatively quickly when she’s tired. I’m talking 1-3 songs max! Anyway, she woke me up today to have me write while she works, but I resist a little until the weight of knowing she’s been at work for 6 hours hits me, and I roll myself out of bed. 

It’s not just with the writing thing that she’s helped me stay more on top of. We started a weight loss competition between the two of us a few weeks ago, and I’ve been really on top of my diet for two weeks now. I’m not saying she’s been participating in the competition yet, but she’s been very busy at work, as well as hosting her mom at her place, so I’ll give her a pass for now. She’ll tell me that’s not an excuse, but I understand. She only has to lose 10 pounds while I have to lose 20 pounds, so she’s in the clear for now, since I’m only down about 4 pounds. Sometimes she’ll FaceTime me during the day while she’s working from home, and I’ll feel guilty and go through emails and whatnot. I’m beginning to realize I do have a lot of these clerical type things to take care of, even as a musician. There are checks to deposit, contracts, invoices to send out, and emails to reply to. Sometimes I’ll also clean my place, so she doesn’t see a mess when we’re FaceTiming. I even started running again so that when I go and visit her in SD, we can go running together with her dog Ilio. 

The thing is, she hasn’t asked me to do any of these things. She just silently makes me want to follow through on things I should be more responsible with. It’s a welcomed influence I’m incredibly grateful for. I can’t wait for her to wake me up tomorrow. 

It’s been a while

So yeah… it’s been a while.

My excuse would be, “this gig life of mine has been taking up all of my time, so there’s no time for blogging!” The sad truth is, I’m probably just lazy. I have a ton of free time when I’m not gigging. 

Anyway, I made it back for my annual blog entry to get my money’s worth here. How about a little update with what’s been happening this past year and a half I’ve been M.I.A. from WordPress:

  1. Gigging. A lot. Currently, I have six weekly gigs on the schedule. Although that changes week to week when I need to take a quick trip to San Diego (more on that later) or take a private gig. Gosh, it’s been almost ten months since Eating House 1849 Kapolei closed (back in March 2019). That spot had a special place in my heart, being the first venue to hire me to play there regularly. My Solo gigs right now are Eating House 1849 Waikiki, Doraku Sushi (Kakaako), Merrimans Honolulu, Amuse Wine Bar, Shore Fyre (International Market Place), and Goen (Kailua). Still doing the once a month gig with my Smooth Remedy brothers at the Honolulu Club on random Wednesdays every month. We’ll be there tonight! 
  2. Uncle Status!  Dang, my two best friends had their first kids this past year! Aaron had his daughter, who just turned one this past December 7th, and Kamaehu had his son on April 25th, 2019. I admit I don’t see them as often as I’d like to. I’ll make a stronger effort to get them to remember my face and voice this year 🙂 
  3. San Diego. I went to San Diego to watch John Mayer play a concert at SDSU last September, and I left San Diego quite smitten. Not with John Mayer, though he’s excellent, and an idol of mine. But with a girl I reconnected with from Intermediate/High School days, though, she reiterates that we were not friends in High School. I fly back home after watching a Zac Brown band concert with her, and next thing I know, we’re texting a bunch, then FaceTiming for sometimes 2-3 hours every day. And I look forward to it, every day 🙂 Going to see where this thing goes, but I’ll say that I’ll be carefully revaluating my living situation/location for the future. 
  4. Photography. I’ve leaned into that aspect of my life a bit more in the last year and a half, due to the extra time that I usually have as a gigging musician. I’ve got this one friend specifically who’s been very generous with her time and knowledge. Darcy Fiero Photography, check out her stuff. Go, do it, you won’t be disappointed. She’s known as the lady who photographs the sunset almost every day, probably why she’s so good at it. She’s very protective of her locations, and rightfully so, but she’s been kind enough to let me in on that information, though I’m sworn to secrecy! I’ve also had a couple of friends pay me in a professional capacity to take photos for their work. It’s been sometimes a stressful learning experience, but still all fun.
  5. Songwriting. I attended, for the first time, the Hawaii Songwriting Festival on the Big Island this past year. The most important thing I got out of it was that I’m an idiot for not going the previous few years that I was aware of its existence. I genuinely believe there’s nothing like it in the world, as far as the proximity to powerhouses in the music industry goes. If someone told me I’d get songwriting tips, for a song I wrote, from John Cruz, a local songwriting idol of mine growing up in Hawaii, and Kenny Loggins, a global songwriting idol of mine growing up with his albums playing in the house, I would have laughed in your face! I remember how proud I was to tell my dad afterward that Kenny Loggins played my guitar! I could dive deep into the festival, but maybe another time. The bottom line is I’m going back, as often as I can. I’m not writing as much as I’d like to, but I’m writing a lot more than I have the past few years, so we’ll call it a win for now.

I’d say that’s enough for now. I told my San Diego friend that I’d try and write on here more frequently, and not tell anyone about it, in hopes that this can be a public but secret diary. 

Till next time (hopefully next week), adios.

Shane