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Entries in suzanne stolz (4)


Back To School...Again

This week, I started very tentatively back to my beloved Harvard-on-the-hill, Mesa College. I don't mean to sound I am tentative about learning; I love to learn stuff and the longer I attend school, I actually watch my GPA rise. So, I don't mind that much. What I do mind is that I have never been financially able to just power through a few full semesters of classes and have a way to pay for life. So it has just been an on and off thing for the last three years, and that was after a ten year period when I didn't do anything at Mesa (though I did do a year at Art Institute). Of the last six semesters at Mesa, I've attended for three. But I've aced all my classes.

This year I was tentative because at the same time as my unemployed state sort of has to run out, I have these classes I signed up for during the day. After my three semesters of night courses, and running out of required classes that meet at night, I decided to risk day classes that would cut into my work schedule—sort of a joke considering I don't have one, but respectful of the logical scenario of being expected to work during the day. The leading job lead that I had was an Americorps literacy program. After about a month and a half on the line, two resume submissions, a few nagging emails, and actually applying with two good refs, they told me I was still not qualfied for this position. It was suggested that maybe I spend some time volunteering in that field so that I could get this gig as a volunteer! Oh, well fuck me. So, the logic, pared down to its core, without pretense is this: spend some time working for free so they can see if I am qualified to work full time for too little. Kelli and our roommate Suzanne both did Americorps gigs and to hear them tell it, it was a great formative experience for them. But now it seems that Americorps is just a headhunter to find people who will work for less than a "real" wage. I've been told that Americorps is not supposed to just stock non-profits with lower paid versions of people who would otherwise do those gigs, but is supposed to hire people who need that foot-in-the-door first experience. Whatever.

This semester, I am taking two classes which conveniently solve my need for two humanities classes, as well as giving me a good enhancement to stuff I am already showing an interest in. I have back-to-back classes on Old and New Testament, and alternating days from those has my beginning voice class. I believe that is a last gasp at trying to find and develop a musical voice, not just in terms of what comes out of my mouth, but my overall musical output. My reasoning behind that is to see if I can play up my songwriterly side instead of blind musical wanking that so far has given my five years of musical scraps that have not begun to touch the stuff I did when I was just hacking around in the studio with no chops.

At least taking the two Biblical classes gives me a chance to save on book purchases. So far, I was able to not have to buy two of the books that are required reading because Kelli already owned one from her studies last year. I owned the other. And maybe Jerry at church will own one or two others. Still, the couple that I do know no one else will have are expensive as fuck for what they appear as.

I started a new transporation method to Mesa this time around. The first two years back in '91-'93 were all on bike. But that was when I could trace a flat route that was not a lot longer than the real hilly route that was the shortest. Now, all I have is hills and more hills—various combinations of Balboa and Genesee are just harsh on bike, and more so for fat old me who hasn't biked those hills much at all even in the days before cars, and especially now when I am about 13 years out since riding regularly, even if just around Clairemont and Kearny Mesa. So this week, I've taken the truck with the bike in back and parked about a half mile out, but as close to the school as I can be, and rode in. For now, that short ride, with half of it being hilly and loaded with traffic, is just fine for me. I arrive having broken a sweat (either in the midday sun or the morning marine layer burnoff) and feeling it in my legs. However, it's nice on the bike when considering the horrible rat race action that is the task of parking at the Mesa lot—especially during the day. So, even as my legs were sore from the first few experiences of riding these hills since 1993, I was still whizzing by all the others in cars and in relative comfort. Being on a bike and looking for a place to lock up brought to mind that there were hardly any bikes visible from wherever I was going. It was sort of lonely in that regard. Very few bikes. One morning I had Suzanne take me and the bike to the bottom of the hill on Genesee and I pedaled the short way to class, then rode all the way home in the midday sun. With the exception of muscles that need to be worked and a totally uncomfortable ride on the seat I use, it was actually nice to be biking. I stopped for lunch at Cotixan like I usually do when presented the opportunity, and put in an application at Henry's market (where I am sure they too will disqualify me). I think I could take a shorter route, but that might mean confronting the dreaded Balboa Avenue between Genesee and Clairemont drive! That is a wicked hill to climb and I don't think I've ever done that one, believe it or not.

So now that I decided to keep my classes, got the books, and so forth, I guess I just need to figure out how to pay for living. I had a chance to get student loans but that was preposterous to me. Go into debt on a semester of fuggin' junior college? Thanks, but I am trying to pay my way out of worthless schooling from 2001-2 and still have 40% to go on that. To hell with running up a debt for Mesa.


Home. Work.

In the past few weeks, I have worked in one capacity or another for all 24 hours of the day. Let's survey what I've been up to and the varied hats I have worn since this time last month:

  • Recorded some music at the house here while Adam was still here.
  • Moved assloads of furniture and boxes more than once.
  • Cleaned the apartment to a shine on the way out.
  • Yard work here before properly moving in.
  • Function the in house IT guy for three computers now.
  • Regularly update my church web site.
  • Regularly record the services there too, and edit the recordings and archive them.
  • Function as secretary at the church board of trustees.
  • Helped Suzanne roommate move in to this house even before we are fully moved in.
  • Helped our other roommate Mark move some things too.
  • Did lots of laundry.
  • Started a compost bin.
  • Repaired various things as they appear.
  • Repaired broken wooden furniture that didn't fare well in the moves or storage.
  • Returned to work at the AV company and they put me to work primarily driving a 16' truck for 30 hours in three days, and three trips to Orange county in as many days.
  • Cooked dinner sometimes.
  • Hosted dinners with Kelli.
  • Attended some dinners next door.
  • Function as driver for street banner hanging work that has come my way (and saved my month of January).
  • Moved some furniture overflow to and from this house, and dumped some on my buddy Glenn who needed it more than we did.
  • Started to configure my studio again, slowly but surely constructing my Ikea Erector Set of a desk and moving junk in the garage way too much from one corner and back. Climbing ladders to the topmost rung (where you aint s'post to climb) so I can fabricate a simple bit of control over my lights in there.

Kelli has been beaming on and on about how I cleaned the apartment before she had a chance to. It's like she could never have expected such a thing. For me, there wasn't anything else that could be done. Hell, moving sucks, particularly the way it scatters your life. Getting back to normalcy is a priority. So I just worked around the clock till life seemed normal again. And the project continues! I've been licking my chops about playing music again and having stuff ready to record, but I keep circling that project like a dog matting its bed down by walking in circles. The studio has to be just perfect. Odd, considering it's a dumpy garage with hardly anything of sound dampening material. It makes my old studio look like Hog Heaven! Actually, it does make the old place look classy and refined, but you know, the "studio" is not the material, it's the environment. And I haven't played anything like music for over seven months.

The AV company I work for finally called me up for a few days last week. It seems they got busy beyond belief and needed a driver. While "driver" is part of my job title, ordinarily it is not the only thing I do. However, I far prefer to be out of the shop where the wind can blow and there is no concrete floor punishing my feet and legs. I will primarily have to balance the AV Concepts gig with Greg and his banner hanging work since both are vying for my time the most, but in one of those cruel ironies, on Wednesday this week, I had accepted work with the AVC for the following day and had to turn down Greg who had the first part of two nights of that 3:30 am shit. About the time of turning down the wicked early banner work, my old contact Mitch called and offered me a gig on Thursday—in LA! Shit. Three offers for one day and I could only take one! Oh well, the following day, I woke at 1:15 am to prep for the 5 am load in in Anaheim, then drove back and was near my house at 8 am, and continued to work straight through with no break till 1:15 pm. I came home and slept from 2 pm till about 7 or so, spent some time with Kelli and her visiting friends for dinner, then went to bed to catch a few winks for three hours before running off to do the 3:30 banner hanging gig on Saturday morning. He uh, made it worth my while to get up at 2:45. I at least got home before the sun crested the hills, and got to sleep till noon like good old times.

Later on, Kelli and her friend Ashley made dinner for whoever would show up, and that ended up being the three of us, incoming roommate Suzanne, Phil and Nancy next door, and Glenn. We all had good fun. For us, its nice to open our house up and get our little community together. In fact, we all ended up telling stories about how Okua the dog has left a mark on our lives with her escapes, food stealing and other canine antics. Glenn could tell how she left him with so much fur that he still finds some in his clothing. Kelli and I could tell about how she yanked the Foreman grill to the floor when she heisted all the sausages she could get from it and the plate nearby. Phil and Nancy could tell about her jumping out windows and over fences (so could we—really). Suzanne marveled at it all and still retained her wish that Okua would be a good buddy and would cuddle on her bed... hah. Okua will move in and won't leave!!! This is her house more than any of ours except for Phil's, you see.

Ah, another sleepy January is gone. Except this January was not sleepy in the "real" sense. I don't know that I slept much. Sure, I pretty much didn't have a job but damn, it was work work work all month long! And that doesn't even include the various things I turned down or just couldn't get to. Somehow, people came out of the wood work asking if I knew how to fix this or install that. One guy wanted some electronics fixed. One lady wanted a faucet installed.

But one thing is for sure. I don't do Windows. I do Apple.


Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

It's hard to believe that I am moving again. On the other hand, it is day and night from what the last experience was. The last move was utterly horrendous in a way that a person could wish that the memory erasing procedure in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was real. Or not. You know, you have to measure the good times against the bad ones to appreciate the good. So in that regard, I guess that the grueling experience of the mid summer of 2005 was necessary and maybe good. My old man is still an ass with regards to his little vendetta he is holding against me, but we don't have much to do with him now.

Yesterday I spent some time at the new house raking and cutting some brush and hauling it off. Adam left on Tuesday, and his dad Phil is cleaning out the house. I have a lot of things over there already, mainly in the garage. With most of the trips I am making to the place for various reasons, things are trickling in. Glenn and I are about to take a new truckload or two over today. Kelli started school this week so she is limited as to what she can do, but at least the last days at this apartment are ones when she has off so we can bust out with the final cleaning and stuff, and by then the new house will be cleaned and ready for us to set up camp for real. Our final roommate situation is not finalized, though Phil's partner Nancy has a son that will be one of them for a while, and possibly Suzanne, a friend of Kelli's will be the second.

This moving experience has been a whole lot smoother and rewarding than the last. It only leads me to worry that when the year is up (the intended time that Adam and wife Caroline will live in her native Brazil), it might have to be another challenging move to some other situation where once again there would be no studio, no space, and the feeling of being pushed into an uncomfortable corner. But there's no sense in letting that spoil the fun. With that in the back of the mind though, it does sort of suggest that maybe I need to pare down my material possessions so that I don't have to endure loss, breakage and ironically, clutter (!) such as I have these last few months.


You Say It's Your Birthday?

My birthday was on the 12th, and apparently I lived to tell about it, or something. I had a few dudes over to play—El Brando Arni and Paul Horn make up the trio I am playing with right now. In addition to Paul and Brandon, we had Whit Harrington and Dom Piscopo who made up the trio I played with earlier in the year—we did the tunes Return To Zero and All Things Frippy.

Over the course of the eve, we played in a whole bunch of different combos. I know I played drums and bass, Dom is mostly a guitarist, but probably played some bass, ditto Brandon, who is a better bass player than he'd let on to. Whit provided powerhouse drumming, and Paul provided some of the more jazzy stuff. At one point, Whit and Paul traded in the middle of a jam. I got it all on Pro Tools, but don't expect much—the alcohol was flowing that night, and I'm not sure that all the levels came in right from one trio jam to another. A lot of stuff was played, but not recorded, for, er, uh, whatever reason. But we all had some fun.

In addition to the music geeks in attendance, we also had some other folks: Dom's lady Kate, El Brando's lady Merrily, Doug Robinson, Kelli and her friend Suzanne. Missing were the Brothers Thaxton, who came last year, but I'm sure Mike had a very good reason for not showing up ;^)

On a half related note, for the prog and art rock minded, be sure to check out the big two day show on the second weekend of November that will feed your hunger for some challenging and interesting music—Progwest. My buddy Mike Thaxton is the webmaster and a key organizer, and I am the stage manager. The show headliner is the Mike Keneally/Nick D'virgilio band doing a live rendition of Kevin Gilbert's posthumous masterpiece, The Shaming of the True. Go to his site and read up about the history behind the album. It's a major triumph, and one of my favorite albums of all time.

Aside from that, I have to say I am digging the Pro Tools set up, and the studio control room is getting some attention. I will put some pix up soon of the new lean and mean rig. Some audio hopefully will be soon to come.