Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Control and excess baggage

I’m a control freak. I admit it. I manage. I over-prepare. Some people think controllers are picky or particular or selfish, that we do what we do because we want things our way. That isn’t the case. Anyone who believes that these controlling tendencies come from a desire to control others for our own gain or to have power over others doesn’t understand the fear that lies behind this compulsion.

When I was a child, my grandmother was ill and my mother would often fly from California to Kansas to see her. I don’t know where this particular fear came from, but I had convinced myself that if I went with my mother, she would be safe, but if she traveled without me there was a good chance she would die in a plane crash. (Morbid child? Me? No!) I didn’t believe that I was some lucky charm to be carried for protection. It was more a sense of responsibility, as if my presence and my attention could thwart danger. Needless to say, I worried the whole time she was gone.

I am amazed at how our bodies store these patterns in our nervous system and how easily the patterns can be triggered when we experience similar stimulus. Our minds seem to have little capacity for managing the body’s response. It isn’t rational and sometimes we’re not even aware that we’ve been triggered. We just know that our body has gone into “fight or flight” mode leaving our stomach in knots, our muscles tight, and our nerves on edge.

That’s where I’m at today. Tom left for Illinois today to visit his family. This is the first trip he’s taken by himself since we’ve been together. Since he insisted on taking this trip alone, I was inclined to let him handle all the preparations himself. But as he began to gather things and pack, I found myself stepping in to assist. I really struggled internally with this compulsion to help, but I felt like a mother whose child was going off to college. It was then that I realized the depth of the fear that drives me to try to control and manage all the minutiae in life. It was as if by ensuring that Tom has every item he needs (or might possibly need) for his trip, I would protect him from harm. It’s an attempt to manage the future by being prepared for any and all possibilities.

This fear-based behavior doesn’t stop with my loved ones. I do the same thing when I take a trip. There is this heavy sense of preparing for the unknown that goes into everything I do from readying the car to packing snacks and reading material. I often have to remind myself that if I forget the toothpaste there are hundreds of places along the way to pick up more. If you saw all that I carry you’d think I was driving into the wilderness or visiting a third-world country.

I’ve always wanted to be someone who travels light, who carries the most minimal of possessions to get by. I wrote the poem below over ten years ago. I suspect it was after I hauled a giant suitcase all over Britain and Ireland for ten days. I’ll never forget dragging that thing up and down stairs on the London Underground. I’m in the process of scheduling a short tour in the fall. I hope by then I will have learned to be a little more trusting of the Universe, relying on my inner tools much more than the “stuff” I pack in the van.

© Trinity Demask

Travel lite, I say,
though I know better as
I stack and stuff the suitcase full
of comfort in every

Just in case, in
the event of improbable situations,
I pack for survival,
for sustenance,
for hope.

Travel lite, free to
roam and wander content
in the faith that
the universe will

My bags grow heavy with
fear and distrust.
How I long to conjure courage
into my suitcase,
fold peace within my backpack
and walk, empty-handed
and full-hearted into life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

S.J. Tucker's "house concert in a coffee shop"

My friend and fellow song-sister S.J. Tucker (aka Skinny White Chick) is returning to Colorado this weekend. I'm hosting a "house concert in a coffee shop" for her at Super Joe in Superior. The shop is usually closed on Saturday nights, but the owners, Linda and Jon, and generously offered the spacious, air-conditioned venue for S.J.'s show.

S.J. is a force of nature: fabulous voice, inventive guitarist, enchanting songwriter, and consummate storyteller. She can give you chills one minute and have you laughing hysterically the next. I simply cannot recommend her more. If you're in the area, drop by and join us for what is sure to be a most entertaining evening.

The coffee shop will be open for business for house concert attendees, so unlike most house concerts, you can sip a latte, have a delicious sandwich, or a scrumptious pastry while S.J. rocks your world.

Here are the details...

SATURDAY, JULY 11, 2009, 7:00 PM
100 Superior Plaza Way, Superior, CO 303-494-1380
$6-15 suggested donation

Super Joe is located on the southeast corner of McCaslin and Highway 36 between Old Chicago and Superior Liquor. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guilty pleasures from my distant past

It’s been a rough week, but I took some time today to tick off some things I’ve perpetually carried on my “to do” list from month to month. These things have no due date. They aren’t tasks so much as research or education. And yes, some things land squarely in the “entertainment” category, but as they are music related and I am a musician, I can call them research. Check out this person’s album, watch this interview, listen to that podcast, and so on.

Today’s “research” involved some guilty pleasures. I had a note to watch a recent Rick Springfield interview. Yes, I was a fan. Still am to some extent, though I can’t stomach the soap opera thing. I also have this weird synchronistic relationship with the man that has become rather amusing over the years. His latest CD (yes, he’s still recording) is called “Venus In Overdrive.” Sound sort of familiar? Anyway, I was looking for this interview and stumbled across a video of him in 1970 with the band Zoot performing an inspired, and strangely Alice Cooper-esque version of "Eleanor Rigby." He was the guitarist of the band, and only sang backing vocals. He was playing a white SG that I’d never seen him play before. I wonder how many of his fans would notice such a thing.

Rick actually had a pretty strong influence on me in one regard. In my early teens, none of my musical idols inspired me to play guitar. They were all singers, with the exception of ELO, and for some bizarre reason I can’t even hazard a guess as to what kind of guitar Jeff Lynne played (I guess I must have been mesmerized by the eternal sunglasses). Rick was the one who made me want to sing AND play guitar. I paid attention to his guitar collection. To this day, when I hear “Jessie’s Girl” it’s that Strat that makes me weak-kneed. Even though the recording sounds incredibly thin and anemic compared to the tones I’m used to, it’s magic for me.

The song “Venus In Overdrive” has one of my favorite guitar tones of all time on it. I’m not wild about the song lyrically, but the guitar groove in the chorus absolutely rocks. Rick always had a knack for writing songs that were built around hooky guitar riffs. One of these days I’m going to write a letter to him to thank him for being my Guitar God in those formative years. And I’m going to ask him how he got that tone. Who knows, maybe he’s never had a fan ask him such a technical question and he’ll respond. If I write it before August 23, I can wish him a happy 60th birthday. Yes, 6-0. Take a peek at his website and see 60 like you’ve never seen it before. In his world, it’s the new 30.

As I was watching these old videos, I remembered that Rick had covered “Life In A Northern Town” which led me to another dark-haired boy that gave me heart palpitations and influenced me musically: Nick Laird-Clowes from The Dream Academy. I googled him to see if he’s still making music and learned that he has been busy with film soundtrack work. He’s also recorded under the name Trashmonk, though there are no tracks on Rhapsody. According to one source, he was to release a CD in 2008, but the only thing on Rhapsody is a film score. I did discover a lengthy interview with him and his DA mates from 1985. Not only were they inventive, mixing classical instruments and an ethereal 60’s vibe to create a unique sound like nothing else on the radio in the 80’s, but they were one of the only bands I was into in those days who used an acoustic guitar. If that wasn’t enough, they were all gorgeous. See for yourself...

I remember racing home to tape the one and only video show on TV before MTV aired, waiting with bated breath to see which artist was next, and hoping it was (fill in the blank). Kids these days have access to libraries of every video ever made on their cell phones! I wonder if they have anything that makes them race home from school. I wonder if they know that kind of anticipation and thrill. I don’t think they’d understand the little shiver of excitement I get when I stumble across something on the web from that era that I haven’t seen before or that I thought I would never see again.

If you ever need a good laugh, search the web for some video or band you thought was really cool back in the day. No doubt you’ll find something that will make you laugh out loud even if it does leave you feeling a little embarrassed for your adolescent self.