mindGrazing

chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Posts Tagged ‘life’

Great Quote

Posted by Jason on January 24, 2009

“An elementary school music teacher is kind of like an animal lover working in a slaughterhouse…”

-Some dude on NPR

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What Do All These Writers Really Do?

Posted by Jason on January 13, 2009

I’ll make no bones about it, I have next to zero experience with writing for an audience larger than one. This blog and a short story I’ve started are it…period. I read on many other blogs about people writing novels, finishing novels, busting out a short story or two in a day or a week. In addition to that, many of these people maintain active blogs. My question is this:

What the hell do these people do to actually make money?

I’m guessing that very few of these people actually make a living off of their writing, so how do they keep food on the table or access to the internet? I can’t imagine many jobs other than mine (summers off are great… I have yet to fully utilize this time for writing), that would allow someone to write and/or finish a novel. 

It’s very possible that I can’t understand what these people go through because I’m not really a writer. I get up every morning at 5:30 am and go for a run with the wife and dogs. I go to work. I get home around 3:30 or so. I spend time with my family (wife and dogs) until 8:30 pm and then go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I have some endeavors that I engage in, like guitar or bonsai or exercise, but that’s about it. I rarely have time to think about writing anything but a little blog unless I’m on vacation.

What do people with normal jobs do in order to write a book? 

Posted in books, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Saga of a Love Affair…

Posted by Jason on January 12, 2009

Sounds racy, doesn’t it? It really has nothing to do with anything juicy in my love-life. Marriage is great. This has to do with another, earlier love of my life: the guitar. I started playing classical guitar about 12 years ago, practicing like a madman throughout high school, playing in college ensembles while in high school, suffering through a university music major, studying flamenco music in Spain, playing weddings and dinners, etc. 

I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve touch the guitar since about October. I had a wedding and a church dinner to play for in the same week (when it rains it pours, I guess). Last year I started playing more and wanting to get into jazz, since jazz is a pretty heady music and I like that mental challenge of it. Over the summer, I kind of lost interest and just the whole prospect of playing the guitar hasn’t really excited me for a long time.

I feel a little guilty that something that I invested so much time and money in has really taken a far back seat in my life, if it’s even in the car at all… I feel weird that I don’t really care too much anymore about something that has been a huge force in my life for so long. I have so many other things that pique my interest that playing guitar doesn’t really hold the same allure as pretty much anything else that I’m into right now.

After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that I’m not going to leave the guitar just yet. I don’t think I can… ever. It would also be a sin to let the skills I have deteriorate into something I “used to do” way back when. Today when I get home from work, I’m going to file my nails to a decent shape and get out some books and a guitar and start playing again. 

I’m not going to expect much, but I’m not going to let the guilt of what I should know how to play eat away at me, either. Throughout my late college and post-college days, I had always been angry at myself for not being a better guitar player. I’ve been angry that I didn’t have the singular drive that I did when I was in high school. I got distracted by life and never fulfilled my potential for true guitar greatness…

Bollocks to all that, I say. Nobody is telling me what I should know how to play or whatever. I know how to play the guitar plenty well. I have more skills and knowledge than most guitar players that make a bit of money at it. Now I’m going to play stuff that I want.  I’m going to bust out some of my flamenco books and really get back to the heart of what intrigued me so much from the beginning. I have good foundations in flamenco from my time in Spain. It’s high time I went back to that. I’m only going to learn classical music if I feel like it, and I won’t beat myself up over not completing a piece of music. Maybe I’ll even feel like performing again, or accompanying for a flamenco dance studio or whatever.

The sky is the limit, not the goal. I have to keep that in mind. I think the communal nature of playing in a group or accompanying someone will really help me enjoy music again. However, I’m super self-conscious about my performance that I don’t feel I’m nearly good enough to play with others, especially if they are good enough to challenge me in my playing. I get embarrassed and I’m scared to hell they’ll find out I’m really not that good. I’m sure it’s also a pride thing. Well, that’s way down the road, and I don’t have to collaborate if I don’t want to. So there. 

It’s guitar time, everyone!

Posted in music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Back to the Grind…

Posted by Jason on January 5, 2009

Christmas… er, sorry… WINTER vacation is now over. I’m back working at school. I wasn’t ready to go back, per se, but I do feel rested and I my energy reserves (including my patience reserves) have been replenished. I hung out with the family a bit, saw some good friends, got some reading done, played some video games, and got some majorly awesome experience working bonsai. 

All in all it was a great break!

Life is good.

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Semi-Charmed Life

Posted by Jason on December 17, 2008

My life is great. I have a job (it’s not the best job but it’s a job). I have a wonderful wife, a mortgage I can actually afford, two great dogs, and a very cool family supports me in anything I do. I don’t have major strife with my parents anymore: I actually like hanging out with them a whole lot. My sister is one of my best friends in the world. I have good friends here at home and in several places throughout the country. Life is good…

So what’s with my frustrations lately? I’m either depressed or angry about something, or both. I’m fairly certain (not from any real scientific knowledge) that men, especially me, have emotional ups and downs. I call my downs “He-MS” and I usually get kind of bummed for a while and then it gets better. It could also be mild depression that creeps in at various times throughout the year. I know this is a contributing factor in the past few weeks.

But what the hell else is wrong with me? I’m very annoyed at the status quo of things. I feel unsettled in the fact that I’m fairly settled. I crave routine but abhor stagnation. I want to relax but I hate myself when I do nothing. I’m in a giant rush to find stability. Once I have that stability, I get stir-crazy. 

Perhaps this is my payback for being a militant moderate in life. I hate going to one extreme or the other. Heck, I hate even looking toward one side or another from my perfectly middle position. I have a good yin and yang going, but isn’t zen supposed to be peaceful? What’s the deal?

Maybe I should stop being a bitch and be thankful for what I have, because I’m hooked up pretty sweet in this life. Maybe I’m frustrated because I’ve never really been tested. Why should other people have to suffer and not me? The words of that Third Eye Blind song have been coming to my brain in the past day or so: “I want somethin else to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life…” 

Too bad I don’t even know what it is that I’m seeking to get me through…

Posted in Musings | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

I Would’ve Done OK in the Military

Posted by Jason on December 16, 2008

I live in San Diego. It’s a military town, bigtime. Some people can’t stand that. I must admit that sometimes in bars and stuff people act like idiots, and sometimes those people are service members. But not all of them. We had a little career fair for the 8th grade students today. The ROTC group from the local high school was assigned to give talks to kids in my classroom.

I don’t really know anything about the ROTC, but it seemed like they have their own little military system within a high school setting, and this can be really cool for some of my students who are generally tough cases. You learn respect for superiors and a hierarchy; you learn that it feels great when people show you respect; you belong to something larger than yourself that isn’t a gang. Aside from all the scholarship stuff and things like that, I really think I would’ve liked ROTC had I joined it back in the day. You can do all of the other things that normal high school students do (mostly), but you have a family and a brotherhood that will help you survive life. 

That brings me to my musing for the day. What if I had joined the military or gone to one of the academies? I’d be in a lot better shape, that’s for damn sure. Would I have gotten as involved in music, or languages, or whatever? I think I could’ve done well in the military. Granted going to war would totally suck, as well as moving around a bunch. But thousands of people do it and it works for them, right? 

In high school, the general attitude was that the military was for idiots. If you’re not going to college or if you’re an ROTC nerd, that’s what you do. I don’t think that so much any more. Wouldn’t you want as many smart people as possible involved in protecting the country and its interests? I’m fairly certain that the military is not a waste of anyone’s intelligence anymore. I think I would’ve enjoyed it, once I got over all the difficult stuff. Sometimes I envy the brotherhood that I think military people seem to share…

Posted in Musings | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

3 Rules for School

Posted by Jason on November 18, 2008

So I got really really frustrated with a group of my students one day, and I couldn’t stand how rude and dumb and clueless they were being. I told them that all they had to do were 3 things and they would pass high school quite easily:

  1. Shut Up
  2. Pay Attention
  3. Follow Directions

With 6th graders I might change the first one to “Be Quiet” but 8th graders can handle it. I told the kids that they don’t even have to be that smart and they can breeze through middle school and high school by doing those 3 things. The way schools coddle/enable children these days (and I know because I’m part of the system), you really don’t have to be smart to succeed. To graduate college, yeah, you need some intelligence…well either that or ambition, to succeed. But high school?

No way…just shut up, pay attention, and follow directions.

Any agreement/disagreement???

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