May 13, 2009
Below, from above.
I’ve got an active life that’s spread around the country and filled with what’s probably an unusually wide range of experiences, in composing, publishing, public speaking, marine sciences, nature, and education. It’s great! But I have to admit that it’s been so busy these days, that when someone asks me where I just came from or what I just did, I initially draw a blank, stare at them with that “deer in headlights” look, and struggle to remember the last, no doubt delightful, thing I just came from.
Along these lines, I also confess that there are times on the road when I open my eyes and for a few moments, actually cannot remember where I am. This is an unsettling yet simultaneously hilarious feeling. It often strikes me when I awaken by the edge of a runway at SeaTac. No, not splayed out on the tarmac like a forgotten piece of Samsonite. In a bed. Airport hotels are a version of purgatory for business travelers. If I’m in one of them, I’m not at home, but I’m not at my destination, either.
Last week, this odd, dislocated sensation hit me as I walked into a cocktail reception. I recognized many of the familiar faces holding their drinks, because I had seen most of these colleagues in identical poses in Los Angeles at a reception two weeks earlier, and at another reception in Manhattan only two days earlier. Suddenly, I could not for the life of me remember what city I was in. No clues were to be found in the people or their beverages, and the Very Upscale Hotel we were in looked remarkably like all the other Very Upscale Hotels I’d just been in. After about 40 bewildered seconds (a long time to not have a clue as to where you are on the planet Earth) I finally remembered: Washington, D.C.
Even with my schedule right now, at least I’m home for between four and nine days at a time; luxury! How my fellow gigging, touring road warrior musician pals do it, hundreds of performances a year, I’ll never know. Hat’s off to them.
I realize that I usually write largely about two things on this blog: my life in nature, and my life in the air. Rarely do I devote much space to specific commentary on what it is I actually do when I am not doing all the things you read about here: music. I compose music. Lots of it. I’ve been considering shifting the tone of this blog just a tad, to include a little more musically and professionally relevant subject matter so that you can see that there is more to my life than banana slugs, algae, cute furry animals and airline tickets. The months of April and May alone offer a pretty good snapshot of my diverse existence, so for those at home keeping score (and I think this includes me), here we go:
Giving workshops on career building for composers, hosted by the American Composers Forum and held at McNally Smith College in St. Paul, MN;
Meeting with concert music and pop music production people in Nashville, TN;
Speaking about music artists’ best uses of the internet at the ASCAP Expo conference in Los Angeles, CA;
Hiking and driving through Joshua Tree National Park near Twentynine Palms, CA;
Attending a dinner party on a magnificent, 47-acre waterfront estate on San Juan Island, WA;
Attending a board meeting of the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories in Friday Harbor, WA;
Attending a board meeting and awards reception of the American Music Center in New York, NY;
Lobbying senators and congressmen with the ASCAP board and legal staff about the rights of music creators to receive payment for the digital downloads of audiovisual works that include our music, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.;
Attending the annual Spring Street International School auction dinner in Friday Harbor, WA;
Appearing as a guest on the Second Life Cable Network TV show in the virtual world (cheap airfare!);
Sailing on the Friday Harbor Labs research vessel Centennial (in April AND May!), taking video and photos of the dredges the scientists conduct from the ocean floor around the San Juan Islands, WA;
Hiking with friends on Orcas Island, WA;
Attending the Academy of Arts and Letters luncheon and Ceremonial in New York, NY;
Attending the ASCAP concert music awards in New York, NY;
and so on….
None of the above includes all the business I do at my desk (or that of a hotel room), or all the music I play, write and record in my studio. Or, all the kitty litter I scoop and cat hair I vacuum up when I’m procrastinating from those previous two things. Nor does it list the many wonderful meals I share with friends and of course, with Charles, who, despite being contractually obligated to be so, is exceptionally supportive of all that I do, even though I’m not always doing it nearby.
Just reading this list makes me dizzy. And, happy. Living a bifurcated life that is interchangeably rural and urban, as well as both significantly hermetic and intensely social, is an oxymoron and a joy. That probably makes me a joyous moron. For now, when someone asks me where I just came from or what I just did, rather than draw a blank and stare at them with that “deer in headlights” look, I’ll just point them to today’s blog post!