Category Archives: Dating

My Year Dark

How does one begin to write again after a year in the dark?  I suppose one word, one paragraph, one inkling of an idea at a time.

The short reason for my absence has been that I’m busy.  My music career has picked up, my dating life has been hyperactive, and my philosophical course load has been overwhelming.  However, I miss the time I used to take to explore the what I have learned.  I miss the inane Photoshop madness and the non-sequitur tangents.  I miss taking a germ of an idea and processing it until it makes a tiny bit more sense.

So let’s start out small.  I’ve learned a lot over the past year, and my life has changed dramatically.  Here’s a tiny glimpse of my year dark.

  • Tuba player and polka band manager are indeed viable career paths
Tuba Player and Band Leader

Tuba player and band leader are viable career paths, but only if you have the right sunglasses for the job.

Attention people considering a career in the arts: you may work crazy amounts of hours and push your body and your mind to the limit, but success is conceivable and achievable.  Tax time for 2014 has come and gone, and the results are in: I am financially viable in my career as a professional musician.  Between gigging, booking, teaching, and random financial opportunities, I have not had my house foreclosed upon, I have not moved in with my parents, and I have not been stranded with no insurance and crippling debt.  I am not a billionaire, but I’m certainly a working-class musician.

So in that sense, the grand experiment I set out to explore 2 years ago by leaving my job at Temple is at least a temporary success.  To the former coworker who emailed me the other day to ask if I wanted to apply for a job opening at Temple, no thanks, I’m doing fine.

  • The balance between music as a business and as a passion is a constant challenge

I am just starting to come to terms with the fact that having a successful music business does not mean I am feeling creatively satisfied.  I have to balance the massive amount of time that running a music business takes with my own downtime, as well as my time to create musically.  I haven’t figured out how to do that yet, but I’ve been feeling the strain from it and scheming to make more of my music career about actually making music.

  • Dealing with loss takes an indefinite amount of time.

A friend posted a great comment on a thread about the end of my relationship that I think sums things up nicely:

Apply ZERO timelines to your emotional and mental recovery. I could have never fathomed how long it would take me to recover from my failed marriage. I kept pushing myself to believe I was better and OK when I wasn’t yet, which further complicated things for me unnecessarily…

True words that I remember every day.  Literally every day.

  • When confronted with a new challenge, I can surprise myself.

Last June I got a call I’ve been waiting to get for a few years.  The Asphalt Orchestra, a 12 piece chamber marching band out of Brooklyn, was looking for a sousaphonist to do a few touring shows with and my name had come up.  I had wanted to play with them for a few years, ever since I saw their video of one of my favorite Zappa tunes, Zombie Woof.

I started practicing the music at the end of June for two performance dates in September.  Since I was in Philadelphia and the rehearsal was in New York, there was only time for one at the beginning of September.  Meanwhile, I was tasked with memorizing the tuba part for 19 challenging songs and learning the choreography by watching YouTube videos.  I had never done anything like it, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to meet the goal.  But sure enough, by the end of August, it was almost complete, and our shows in Atlanta and Stillwater, Oklahoma went fantastically.

It’s really made me think about how I have the capability to push beyond my perceived limitations.  If two months of concentrated practice can accomplish such a massive goal, what would happen if I applied the same dedication to my own projects?

  • Some ladies really like Valentine’s Day.

Dating in 2015 has been an enlightening, exciting, and surreal experience.  It seems like there are so many more striations of relationship type, commitment level, and lifestyle than when I last approached dating.

However, as much as things have changed, I got a bit of a shock on February 14th.  Apparently Valentine’s Day means a lot to some of people.  Lesson learned.

I’m dipping my toes into the kiddie pool of bringing writing back into my life.  I have a separate writing project I’ve been working on, I’ve been learning more and more about teaching, and I have a guileless naivete about the personal relationships in my life.  If that’s not a reason to keep this blog in your peripheral vision, I don’t know what to tell you.  At least, nothing to tell you besides the fact that Buzzfeed can’t play the Pixies on the sousaphone and their Photoshopping is not nearly surreal enough.  I think you know what the better choice is here.

People Who Like to Have Fun

Among my considerable talents such as stone-skipping, liar’s dice, and kitten-rearing, I drew some attention from single friends of mine a few years back by being an exceptional online dating profile writer.  Several of my female friends would send me their profiles for me to proofread and improve upon.  One even asked me to create hers from scratch.  I crafted an excellent one for her, posted it, and within 24 hours she was getting significantly more attention.  Of course, the way that I crafted it painted a picture of someone who was more like me than like her.  After one or two dates with bizarre and quirky gentlemen, she scrapped it and wrote her own.

The trick to a good dating profile is to make it stand out.  Go to any dating site, and you’ll see page after page of time same cliches and styles.  Here, I won’t even look:

I’m new around here and I’m looking to meet someone special.  I’m in decent shape, and I like music, museums, and having fun!  I’m totally comfortable hanging out at a bar, or staying in and watching a movie.  I love good food and sharing it with someone great.  I’m an interesting, caring, and genuine person.  Hit me up soon!

Mine might look like:

I just moved to Philly where I’ll be working as Assistant Curator of Ancient Antiquities, in the newly created Myspace Wing at the Penn Archaeology Museum.  Ok, that’s a lie, I have a crummy desk job, but I do occasionally get out an ultra-fine brush and excavate peoples’ myspace profiles.  It’s like a time warp back to 2004.  Everyone here so far has told me to pick a side in Pat’s vs. Geno’s, but I’d rather start a feud of my own.  Maybe Abyssnia vs. Dahlak or Auntie Anne’s vs. the scary pretzel guy on the side of the road.  If we got enough feuds together, we could have a tournament of the best places to eat.  In that vein, I’m seeking someone with a white board and killer penmanship.

The problem with the former example is that it describes almost anyone.  And to prove it, I give you the Not Test.

Take any online profile and turn every sentence into the negative.  If the profile becomes meaningless or makes you look like a sociopath, then your profile isn’t really saying anything about you:

I’ve been around here for a while, and I’m not looking to meet anyone special.  I’m in terrible shape, and I dislike music, museums, and having fun!  I don’t like hanging out at a bar or staying in and watching a movie.  I hate good food and  never share it with someone great.  I’m an uninteresting, uncaring, and disingenuous person.  Hit me up soon!

See, nobody dislikes music.  Or fun!  By definition, you can’t dislike fun!  Otherwise it wouldn’t be fun.

On the other profile I crafted, turning the sentences negative may produce bizarreness, but it doesn’t change the overall picture you get of the person who created it.

Now, I’m happily in a relationship, but this idea of the Not Test came up last night in a completely different context.  I was considering who I market my music to, and was tasked with coming up with a list.  There were some good ones like:

  • Listeners who like to hear the lyrics of songs
  • Listeners who like the accordion

But I also found myself listing:

  • Listeners who like live music
  • Listeners who like interesting music

I realized that these types of statements don’t really say anything about these people.  It should be no surprise that they also fail the Not Test.  Very few musicians target listeners who dislike live music or boring music.  If I’m going to list out who I want to reach, I need to find specific and meaningful descriptors; things that set me apart from other performers.  I need to play on my strengths and find people who are interested in what may be a niche market.

When we try to define what it is we do in any context, whether it’s for a resume, web bio, or grant proposal, we need to find ways to show our meaningful impact and value so we can stand apart from the crowd.  Be specific.  Find and use your own unique voice.  Don’t be afraid to push some of the boundaries of what is expected of you and how you and others define you.  You’ll find that your standing out usually attracts more people than it repels.  Particularly, it attracts the kind of person who is interested in hearing what you have to say.  That in turn opens up new opportunities to strengthen or clarify what it is you have to offer and adds further uniqueness to your offerings.

Otherwise you’re just the person who likes to have fun.

Penn's Myspace Exhibit

Can’t WAIT to see this exhibit!

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