Monthly Archives: June 2008

Done and done

>

As promised, I made another large change in my life… I quit my job.

I’ve been pretty dissatisfied for a long time now, and I decided that this was no way to spend a third of my life. I don’t have another job lined up; I haven’t even started looking yet. But I’m not too worried. I’m good at what I do and I’m sure that I’ll be able find something else. I have to give a month’s notice here, so I have plenty of time to look.

It is another change to take back my life, one step at a time. I hope that I will be able to keep up making these changes. It seems hard when you look at everything you want to change/improve as a whole, but taken bit by bit, hopefully it won’t be so hard.

So if any of you know of a wicked cool place to work in London, hook me up. Because working somewhere enjoyable right now is more important to me than anything else.

Original Comments:

Carey wrote (on 01/07/08):
You kick ass Jodi.

Jodi-Wan Kenobi wrote (on 01/07/08):
Thanks, Carebear. I needed to be told that. xo

Finally! Someone Supports My Guitar Habit

I came across a great article today that I’m going to share. I play guitar and sing very badly. But I do dig doing it. I’ve never really understood why as there is no real point to it – I’m never going to get better than this. As Woody not-so-kindly pointed out once (he’s good for that sort of thing), I’m a "campfire player". I play songs that are easy to play and easy for people to sing along with. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing (and neither was Woody, perhaps, but that boy always did have a way with words), but I’ve wondered a few times why I keep it up if I never improve. And then this article hit my Google Reader and made me happy.

I’m going to hack away at the article a bit, but the orginal is over at Lifehack, which is a pretty cool site.

8 Good Reasons to Be a Lousy Musician
June 30th, 2008

I’m a crappy guitarist. In the 20 years that I’ve been playing,
I can’t once remember playing scales, and I’ve never sat down to
"practice". I still have trouble with F-chords, I have awful right-hand
technique, and my tempo has been known to swing from too fast to too
slow without ever hitting "just right".

I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

See, I realized a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be a famous rockstar or even a semi-locally-famous folky. That realization freed me to stop trying to be cool and to just
enjoy playing, and to this day my guitar is the one thing I own that I
would consider going into a burning building for. Playing guitar has
stopped being something I do for everyone else (even if they weren’t
listening) and has become one of the few things I do simply for the
sheer enjoyment of it.

Everyone should have at least one thing in their life that they do
for no other reason than that they enjoy it. As it turns out, though,
it’s harder to do things for their own sake than it would seem! To be able to revel in an activity that you’re not all that good at and that you don’t care that you’re not all that good at, to strive for and embrace mediocrity in some area of our lives, that’s a hard thing for a lot of us to do.

But it’s worth it. Here are eight things I get out of being a crappy guitarist:

C) There’s no pressure.

If i never get even the tiniest bit better than I am right now, it
won’t matter. Nobody’s life, freedom, or even happiness depends on how
well (or poorly) I play "Rocky Raccoon". Whether I improve or don’t
improve is totally irrelevant to anything or anyone but me.

D) It creates a social bond between myself and others.

I’ve met thousands of other crappy guitarists over the course of my
life, and a few great ones. Being a guitarist myself creates a
connection between us, gives us something to talk about. Guitarists are
always giving each other little gifts — showing each other how to play
a tricky part of a song, teaching each other new chords or new ways to
make old chords, sharing licks and riffs with each other.

E) It creates a social bond between other people.

I carried an acoustic guitar
with me all over Europe for a year, keeping it under my bed in hostel
after hostel, carting it in it’s heavy reinforced case from town to
town on busses and trains, dragging it through the streets of Paris,
Prague, Budapest, and Amsterdam. And I’m glad I did.

Not just because playing in hostels and on park benches helped me
make friends, but because it helped the people around me make friends.
Once a roomful of travelers have sung "American Pie" at the top of
their lungs together (badly), the ice is pretty much broken. People
start interacting, because nothing can make them feel any more
self-conscious.

F) I get immediate gratification.

I pick up a guitar, finger a chord, and strum, and music comes out.
What could be more rewarding? I play, music happens. Instantly.

And if I try something tricky, I can hear on the spot whether it
worked or not. If I’m trying to figure out a song, I’ll try all manner
of different things, until suddenly I hit the strings a few times and
the song I’m trying to learn starts coming out.

G) I’ve developed a new appreciation of music. 

Because I’m always listening to music with an ear towards learning
how to play it, I’ve become adept at working out how the different
pieces fit together, and what makes each of them work, apart and
together.Aside from the increased formal appreciation of music, I’ve also
become much more appreciative of the work that a musician has to do to
make a song work.

A) Playing music creates mindfulness.

Guitar playing is, for me, a kind of meditation. There have been too
many time to count when, looking for a moment’s distraction, I’ve ended
up playing for hours. When you’re playing, your attention is (usually)
focused entirely on the here and now, the unfolding of notes and chords
into melodies and, ultimately, songs. This kind of mindfulness means
I’m living entirely in the present, even if  just for a few moments — a
skill that most of us, with our crazy lives and hectic schedules, have
a hard time cultivating.

B) It’s relaxing.

Just listening to music is often enough to help ease the stress of
our day-to-day lives; making music is a thousand times more effective. The combination of
mindfulness and almost willful mediocrity lets me ease up on myself and
just be for a little while, clearing my head and soothing the tensions that build up over the course of the day.

C) It’s just for me.

Finally, playing music is something that I do solely because it
makes me happy. While I can share my playing with others, in the
end I play for entirely selfish reasons: because I feel like it.

What are you lousy at?

Everyone should be lousy at something they love. What do you
do that you simply don’t care if you ever get any better at it, that
you do just because it pleases you to do it?

The Hunt

How quickly I forget that job hunting sucks my will to live. I just went through this last December! Looking for work sucks!

As long as it doesn’t suck as much as… you know… work sucked, then I still feel like I’ve made the right choice. I’m just feeling worn out because I just went though a huge ordeal to upload an application to a particular company. Why, why, why can’t they just accept my CV?  Dillholes. And no, I’m not going to say which company it was just in case they try to Google my name or anything. Then again, if an employer ever did find my blog they probably wouldn’t hire me whether I dissed their recruitment process or not… the blog is a clear indication that I’m not right in the head. Not right at all.

Note to self: Do not tell potential employers and/or friends and/or boyfriends and/or human beings that I would like to remain in contact with about the blog.

Done and Done

 
As promised, I made another large change in my life… I quit my job.
 
I’ve been pretty dissatisfied for a long time now, and I decided that this was no way to spend a third of my life. I don’t have another job lined up; I haven’t even started looking yet. But I’m not too worried. I’m good at what I do and I’m sure that I’ll be able find something else. I have to give a month’s notice here, so I have plenty of time to look.
 
It is another change to take back my life, one step at a time. I hope that I will be able to keep up making these changes. It seems hard when you look at everything you want to change/improve as a whole, but taken bit by bit, hopefully it won’t be so hard.
 
So if any of you know of a wicked cool place to work in London, hook me up.  Because working somewhere enjoyable right now is more important to me than anything else.

>Fickle Flickr

>I suppose my bad for trying to batch upload 200+ pictures at once, but Flickr is being a whiny bitch about uploading. I still have 149 pictures to put up there, but there are getting there, peeps. So if you want to check them out, head over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/luckybuttons76 to see my day with Caryn playing tourist a few weeks ago (pictures of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, among others) and my day today, playing alone in the cemetary.

“Playing alone in the cemetary”. Man, I sound sick in the head. It was pretty though, I promise. The pictures don’t do it justice.

>Present in the present

>How true is this?

“Now and then it’s good to
pause
in our pursuit of happiness and
just be happy.”

– Guillaume Apollinaire

Sometimes I look so much toward elusive future happiness that I forget to be grateful for what I have in the here and now. Instead of chasing happiness, perhaps I should just enjoy the happiness I have.

>Rows of houses… all bearing down on me

>I went for a long walk today through Brompton Cemetery, which is very close to my house. Cemeteries here in London are so lovely – they are more like parks and in a city where there is a lot of brick and concrete – you appreciate green a lot.

For those of you too lazy to click the link and check out what Wikipedia has to say about Brompton Cemetery, it opened in 1840 and is one of London’s “Magnificent Seven” (seven cemeteries opened outside the city limits in the mid-19th century when there were so many people dying that it was no longer sanitary to continue to bury them in local churchyards). One cool story about the Brompton Cemetery is that it is where Beatrix Potter got many of her character names from – Mr. Nutkins, Mr. MacGregor, Tod, Jeremiah Fisher, Tommy Brock and even a Peter Rabbett are all buried there.

For some reason, I really like cemeteries, and I’ve been trying to sort out why. I’m not a particularly morbid person. I don’t think that now that I’m in my 30’s I’ve decided to become an Emo Kid. I’m not drawn to them out of depression. I haven’t been contemplating my own death. Perhaps I find them interesting because for all the people I’ve lost through death, there isn’t a marker for any of them. Those that do have a final resting place, I’ve never been. But I don’t feel as though that is what it is.

I think I enjoy being there because it is peaceful and full of love. Granted, I’m sure that there has been a lot of sorrow associated with those stones, but over all it feels like a very restful place. Many of the markers use the phrase “went to sleep” to indicate the date someone died, and many invite the dead to “rest”. And it is a place of love; the markers are testament to that. They are eternal pledges, carved in stone, to never forget the person that has died. “Has left our home, but not our hearts”, as one stated it.

I also enjoy it because there are so many stories. A reminder of how many lives there have been that I’ve never known, and can only guess at based on a few lines of text chiseled in marble. A reminder to live our own lives so that it will be remembered. A reminder that after all is said an done, your life story told in only a handful of words really distills what is most important. Most of the markers indicated very little as to hobbies and interests, few mentioned a career and few mentioned where a person lived and what they did. Almost all, however, mentioned people’s relationships to the living and to the already departed. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Father. Son. Brother. Husband. Friend. Perhaps that should serve as an indication as to where we should put our energies in life, as after we are gone we will most likely be remembered for who we were for someone, not what we did for a company.

Finally, I enjoy it because I like taking pictures of shapes and textures. And a cemetery is a great place for shapes and textures. I took over 150 pictures today (which I will add to Flickr today, along with a few others). The pictures may not be very good, but the cemetery is beautiful. I feel more relaxed right now than I have in a week.

Original Comments:

Holly wrote (on 03/07/08):
check out highgate cemetery – there are two parts, one’s free and the other you pay for a tour.

Duck and cover

>I know, I haven’t been blogging. Last night I tried. I clicked on “Add Entry” and then sat staring at the blank entry. I couldn’t think of a thing to say. And that worries me… because as most of you know, I ALWAYS have something to say.

I think the problem has been that I’ve been trying to avoid life the last few months. Work has not been going particularly well, and my unhappiness from that has been poisoning everything I do. And work being horrid is on top of everything else that has been going on… and the everything else is a little more slippery to peg down and try to explain. I’m going through an adjustment period again. England is not Korea is not Canada. I spoke with Kirstn today and she reminded me (bless her!) that it can take up to a year in a new place just to get to normal. But between cultural adjustment, not being close enough to my friends (except Colin, of course), having huge money issues both here and home and a million other things keeping me awake at night… I think I’ve been in surrender mode.

I’m tired of being tough. I just want to curl up into a ball and pray that the bear doesn’t eat me. I’m too tired to fight anymore, so I’m retreating. Instead of trying to deal with everything, I’ve somewhat decided to deal with nothing and hope that it goes away. Which, of course, it won’t.

So I’ve decided: enough cowering in the corner. I’m taking back control of what’s mine. I’m going to roll with what I can’t change, and see what I can get out of it in terms of experience or knowledge. And I’m going to change what I can, and roll with the consequences of doing so. Because you can’t move forward if you are standing still.

One of the things I enjoy doing is writing my blog. Probably because it is akin to listening to myself talk (which I also enjoy – HA!) but also because it helps me anchor down some of the thoughts that are constantly and furiously flying through my mind. I’m going to try my best to enter something at least once every day. That’s right: every day. I mean… I think about stuff (caveat: usually stupid stuff) every day, things happen every day… I should be able to write *something* everyday – even if it is incohesive, uninteresting or completely ridiculous and a waste of internet space. Regardless, I’m going to try and write something daily.

There are a few other things I’m going to change, but until those things actually happen (or at least get rolling), I’m going to wait to share them. One should happen tomorrow… so I will have something to write about then. I know how excited you must be, but you’ll just have to wait.

Fickle Flickr

I suppose my bad for trying to batch upload 200+ pictures at once, but Flickr is being a whiny bitch about uploading. I still have 149 pictures to put up there, but there are getting there, peeps. So if you want to check them out, head over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/luckybuttons76 to see my day with Caryn playing tourist a few weeks ago (pictures of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, among others) and my day today, playing alone in the cemetary.

"Playing alone in the cemetary".  Man, I sound sick in the head. It was pretty though, I promise. The pictures don’t do it justice.

Present in the Present

How true is this?

"Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."

– Guillaume Apollinaire

Sometimes I look so much toward elusive future happiness that I forget to be grateful for what I have in the here and now. Instead of chasing happiness, perhaps I should just enjoy the happiness I have.