Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Battle Out of Many Abated

It's 3:30 am. Slightly more than the usual insomnia. [Note: One conflicting aspect of the Personal Expression Age in regards to social media is the tendency and temptation for us to head for the immediate gratification of posting to a public site such as Facebook or Tumblr rather than our own blog or website, which is obviously a more permanent, and financially lucrative, place to sit one's deepest innermost thoughts and feelings. It's a phenomenon that I've just recently been observing, having noticed that over the last four years -- since the advent of social media gone mainstream -- there is direct correlation between how little I post to these Diaries on a regular basis now, compared to the seven years prior, and how much more time I dedicate to being actively engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. This is something we should explore in more detail later....]

So rather than "writing" -- that sacred act once studied and revered of sitting down to participate in the art and craft of honing one's ideas with the written word into something potentially coherent, permanent and hopefully even beautiful and admired for all the world to see for an eternity, something that I'd made a daily habit out of for more than twenty-five years, I opted instead for the more ephemeral and much simpler and easier (though perhaps more immediately gratifying) act of a lazy status update on Facebook. This is a trend, perhaps even a habit now, that I fully intend to break in this new year. The point was a simple yet major one. A very recent and profound victory over and breakthrough in my battle with ADD.

[I do believe in sharing, that it's important to "share", which is one of the primary benefits of the Age of Personal Expression, this new loving embrace for public sharing.... but for artists a balance must still be found between the two: this temptation to share instantly through social media, and the more tasteful and permanent art of writing. One cannot suddenly abandon one's occupation of the art and craft of fine writing and letters and replace it with social media posts that are not only inherently temporary but also obligated by necessity to be limited in scope and depth just because it happens to be easier and more instantly gratifying. Unless of course they want to and choose to. That's their choice. I know many a fine writer who has drifted off into these uncharted shallow rocks never to be heard from again except in little blurps and bleeps on Facebook or Twitter, their wit and wisdom once preserved for the ages now reduced to mere one or two sentence anecdotes, sarcastic comments or the occasional angry rant. As a fan of fine writing I've found the trend to be saddening. ...

Nonetheless, last night at least, I caved once more. There is something very appealing about that instant read that one feels they receive when posting to a social network that now feels lost even when posting to a popular blog, which theoretically and realistically is just as public as any social network. The irony is that feeling is the same feeling we used to get when we first started posting here over ten years ago. There were no social networks. So the idea of posting one's innermost secrets online in general -- knowing that within minutes or hours others would be reading them, was completely enticing, exciting and exhilarating. Just as posting to a social network like Facebook is today. And with instant links and feeds from one's blog to every social network out there available, there really is no reason why we should feel so torn and tempted. Perhaps it's the instantaneous part of it that is so tempting. Or perhaps it's the more engaging aspect of it.... Depending on what one posts, one can literally almost guarantee themselves some kind of response if that's what they're after. Frankly my honest appraisal of this strange phenomenon is that it just comes down to pure laziness. Status updates on social networks are like blowing bubbles. Here now, gone tomorrow. Or like thoughts never revealed in our roaming mind... Here. Gone. What? So there exists no need to perfect them or hone them in. The growing trend in communication amongst ourselves as a society is to focus far less on how we say things and rather just on getting them out, regardless of merit, form or function. This may not necessarily be a good thing. Let's end this train of thought now and venture out toward the open sea where we originally were headed.]

Where were we? Insomnia. Yes. In case that wasn't already obvious. But perhaps this time of day or night is best for this type of post. For any other ADD/ADHD folk out there, I am happy and relieved to report that after decades of struggling, maddening frustration and trying everything out there and then some (including brain mapping and even low frequency electromagnetic brain zapping therapy) I believe we've finally found something that actually works. Lo and behold it turned out to be the oldest, most obvious and commonly used treatment. Just took a while to get the nerve to try it. Anyone else out there still challenged by it, just know that it is real, it's not in your imagination, you're not crazy, it is indeed physical /chemical /biological and not just "all in your mind" as many people try to get you to believe; AND better still there may be a chance there's a solution out there for you out of the many that are becoming available. Keep trying. Don't give up. Believe in yourself. There's light at the end of the tunnel. -Fishy

And thus was the post. Which yielded a string of inquiries as to just what treatment was I referring to specifically. It wasn't something I had planned on revealing publicly truth be told. But if the sharing aspect of the Personal Expression Age cannot be fully expressed and utilised as we originally predicted it would be to yield full-on democratic revolutions of entire nation-states then it really doesn't hold much value at all. So privacy be damned we must at least attempt to embrace this growing trend honestly openly enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. So I replied.

OK peeps, I wasn't going to actually mention what was working for me personally, because I think it's such a physically personal thing, dependent on each individual's own biology, that I don't necessarily think what works for one person is guaranteed to work for another. Plus, there is so much controversy regarding meds for this condition, especially certain ones. But for me, it was Ritalin. But only 5mg doses. What they call "a children's dose". Old school. It's only been a week, but the difference has been intensely noticeable. First recommended by doctors when I was diagnosed at 4, my parents absolutely refused to put me on it. And ever since I've tried every other med and therapy that exists in my refusal to try that one. What changed? A close family member, Beaver actually, I found out was going through the same exact search attempting to deal with the same symptoms. Granted he had never been diagnosed with ADD when we were children, but after relaying a series of symptoms to his doctor it was suggested that he take the standard ADHD written test and sure enough he scored something like an 87 out of 100 on it. Damn close to my 93. [Being an avid and proud skeptic, not only did I insist on taking the test several times in different versions, I also demanded that my wife and several other friends and family members take it as well to see if "everyone" would have the same score if given the same test. I was quite surprised to see that after taking the test on two different occasions, Princess Little Tree scored less than 10 both times. This strange fact helped verify for us that perhaps there was some validity to the test after all and it wasn't just an over generalisation trap where all who took it would appear to have this popular new dis-ease.]

After a year of trying everything under the sun Beav's doctor finally said "we could always go old school and try a children's dose of Ritalin." His desperate reply, "Well it can't be worse than all the other things we've tried... fine." After a few months of surprised success and regular use he suddenly remembered ME, thank you (what took you so long?), and realised "Holy crap I have to tell Fishy about this! He has this a lot worse than I do! I wonder if he's ever tried this one." I resisted at first, knowing all about it, what it is, what it does, knowing that like most other amphetimines it could make me pass out in ten minutes OR worse cause me massive anxiety...

(Though we've still not discovered the genetic abnormality nor even the chemical problem in the human brain of those with ADHD, one very strange characteristic of those who are challenged with it is that speed for lack of a better word, or stimulants of any kind, work in the reverse on them. Thus coffee or tea or diet pills or amphetamines of any kind will usually make someone with ADHD feel sleepy rather than wired. And sure enough any sort of downers such as barbiturates or tranquillisers will make an ADHD person feel more alert, talkative and motivated. I have personally suffered but also benefited from this weird reality since I can remember. If I drink a cup of tea I fall asleep. If I drink a cup of coffee I begin to yawn and feel tired. If i take a valium I feel like I just took speed. It's crazy weird. But after a few years of dealing with it, one starts getting the hang of how to use it to one's advantage or else I assume one would just off themselves. Because frankly it's a terribly confusing and frustrating way to live. If you've ever noticed this about yourself there's a good chance you've got either ADD or ADHD and it just hasn't been diagnosed yet. Now you know.)

Regardless of all this, I have still always resisted taking uppers of any kind. But Beaver sounded so encouraged and relieved from the agonising ADD symptoms he was experiencing that I just decided I had to try it. For the last few years especially, life has been more than challenging. It's been downright excruciating. I usually refrain from talking or writing about it publicly because number one it's extremely personal, and number two I don't wish to influence people in any way one way or another toward believing anything limiting about themselves. But yes if I was to be totally open and brutally honest with the world about this subject, I would admit that I took pain killers for years on a daily basis starting at the age of around 16 in order to manage my attention in order to just do the normal things in life that everyone else seems to have no problem with. This eventually led to a nearly fatal mental and physical breakdown in 2008 that was officially dubbed "exhaustion" to the public and I ended up in a rehab and then my parents' home to slowly detox and rebuild my health.

The only problem was that I was then faced with having to deal with living daily life with a severely screwed up brain and nervous system (that's in essence how ADHD feels) without pain killers, and as any doctor or patient will attest, nothing treats ADHD better than opiates. That particular combination of chemicals known as opioids just happens to work the best for people who struggle with the host of symptoms lodged under the ADHD mantle. Late 2008 early 2009 was the worst six months of my life. I was happy to not be always on the chase for pills, but the truth is that in this day and age with online pharmacies so prevalent it was never really a hassle finding or buying them. So it wasn't like I ever labeled myself an addict. And strangely enough neither did any of the doctors who began treating me. They instead said that I was one of those rare cases of someone who lucked into finding the exact drug that worked best for what they had and I was self medicating with it. It just happened to be illegal to self medicate your ADHD with pain killers. At least now it is. This I predict, and so do many professionals in the psychiatric industry, is going to change sooner than later. There is after all a reason why so many tens of millions of people reach for pain killers and once found find themselves more adept, more efficient, more functional and more productive with even small doses.

There are details to the story that should stay private. For now. Let us agree that it is challenging to wake up one day and realise that the rest of your life you are going to spend with your chest on fire with anxiety, that you can't focus your attention on anything for more than a second or two, that you are unable to finish anything that you start, that you feel a constant state of fear inside you that literally stings, so much so that you find it excruciating to do the simplest things like go out socially or even answer the phone, let alone have a job or take a shower, that you have a supernatural long term memory but you cannot remember why you entered a room or picked up your phone or a notebook, that you never know what day it is or what the date is, you don't know your age or anyone's age for that matter because there's "that thing with numbers...." Worst of all, you're always in pain. Life. Just. Seems. And feels. Unbearably painful. At least in the mind and body you are in. And God knows you've tried everything that exists or has ever existed on planet earth or anywhere else in the known universe to help or heal, but so far nothing has.

For me now it's been more than four years of regular visits to psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, specialists, healers, gurus, psychics, mediums, soul readers, you name it. If it exists we've tried it. All in our quest to "find out how to fix Fishy." Princess Little Tree often recounts how crazy, courageous and resilient I am all at the same time because I often appear more like a lab rat than a human in just the sheer amount of medications that have been shoved into my body over the last four years in our attempt to help find a solution. Doctors have been stymied but vigilant. And slowly we've found some even ground to rest on. Things have gotten increasingly better. Though I do long to help others, and I think most people would attest to agreeing with that statement, the exact combination of medications that they now use to treat my specific condition I would prefer to keep private except for what's already been mentioned. It's been a long and very hard road. Not just for me but for the entire family. I believe Princess Little Tree has probably suffered the most second only to me. She had no idea when we got engaged that it would be this difficult. Frankly neither did I. But that's the negative spin. The positive spin is that it appears at least this week that we've turned a new corner and won a major victory here.

After hearing from Beav regarding his success with Ritalin, I talked to my doctor in New York and he was like "Hey, you're talking about a very small nearly negligible dose there... It's less than what we would usually give children. And you usually fall asleep with medications like that. Or they exacerbate your anxiety. But at this point I don't know what else to do for you and I know you're struggling bad right now Fishy. I'm willing to try it if you are." So we did. Worry Fear Anxiety Nervousness all preceded that first morning about one week ago. "Here we go," my wife's and my own eyes said to one another as I took the first dose on the first morning, ready for the worst. What would it be this time? A freakout? A massive anxiety attack? I pass out for hours with her hovering over me checking to see if I'm still breathing? An emergency 911 call, paramedics gathered around my bed while I lay there with my hand on my chest gasping for air? All possibilities and former experiences since this adventure first began four years ago.

But instead I felt intensely focused, motivated, energised and in control of my attention for the first time since I used to use Vicodin for the same purpose. After a 30 year battle, including years of self-medicating with both natural and unnatural, legal and illegal substances, ingesting things, not ingesting things, fasting, cleansing, vegan, non-vegan, and every spiritual religious pseudo-spiritual new age practice or self help course ever invented for spies like us I finally know what it's like to actually feel focused and not totally freaking distracted and unable to control my mind for more than two seconds. I've worked harder and smarter in the last five days than I have in years. The caveat: Ritalin IS speed. There's no getting around that reality. There are side effects. Like last night's insomnia. (I took my second dose too late in the day.) AND you are going to encounter the usual cadre of well-meaning but ignorant know-it-alls who for some reason misperceive that you've solicited their advice as they recount how unhealthy it is and how easy it would be for you to go au natural etc.

But the real message of this ramble is this: Only YOU know YOU and what you've been through. And only YOU know what's worked for you and what hasn't. It's really nobody else's business. And if they are all up on your shit for feeling better, it's most likely they who need some healing of their own. God only knows you've already tried anything and everything they'll good-naturedly offer you. I moved the majority of this post to the Transcendence Diaries in order to add more details and finish this just for the sake of privacy. Today I have tried to share more openly than I ever have before regarding my own personal experiences with these things, for I know how frustrating it can be for others after years of struggling with it myself. What has worked for me may not necessarily work for someone else. But it just might. You never know till you try. For now, I'm quite surprised that we found something that seems to help. It's one battle out of many that we are currently facing for some reason slightly ameliorated for the time being. And that's a damn good thing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Does America Really Want to Succeed Economically?

Someone posted a rant on Facebook today about "America's fascist corporations" and how they're greedily destroying the middle class and that by doing this they are destroying their only marketplace and are going to lose all these awesome potential consumers they need in order to exist... I found the short sighted nature of the comment sad. Passion is such a powerful and valuable force. But only when it is aimed at and used for the right causes and concerns. Not when it's just random bitching because you're broke and angry. And especially not when it's ignorant passion of the masses.

That concept -- of losing the great consumer middle class -- used to be a valid one and a real concern for big business, but pre-globalisation. Unfortunately now the United States is no longer the largest economy in the world, nor even the primary target market for the attention of many of the world's largest companies. Things have changed. The Pan-Asian Pacific and Chindia now hold that coveted spot. Apple for example, an American company, claims to make more money from China than any other country, including their homebase, the U.S.

Worse, the majority of their products are made in China, hence God only knows how many people they employee in other countries besides the United States. AND they are NOT required to pay any corporate income taxes on the income they earn in countries other than the US. They can exist here. House their HQ here. Enjoy the glitz and glam, press and prestige, and freedom and liberty of being a "United States company", but their focus isn't on the American market anymore.

If our concern is truly to boost the American economy -- as opposed to just ranting against "fascist corporations" (of which I and many others I know happen to own a few of) -- we need to start INNOVATING again, educating and training better; not just better, but INTENSELY, COMPETITIVELY. Most importantly we need to make the business environment here more friendly, as so many other countries are actively doing -- both to boost our economy in order to increase available money to be spent (imagine the US becoming a primary target market again...) AND to make our citizens not only viable employees but INDISPENSABLE employees that no company can go without.

Until then we will continue this downward economic trend into mediocrity, with angry poor people complaining that it's the "big fascist corporations' fault". Can't blame business for being business. THAT's what made America great and rich and powerful and prosperous in the first place way back when. No one was complaining back when we were kicking butt. Let's do it again. I believe we can. But we need to decide if that's what we really want. In the current political and social climate we are in today, I am not so sure.

Today I reviewed the incoming Obama corporate tax rates and dividend tax rates and capital gains rates AND the increases he wants to add, and frankly if Americans accept these new rates it deserves to fail economically. The incoming and proposed rates are so damn anti-business that it's almost as if the current administration WANTS the country to fail economically. If we're going to start getting real we need to accept that this is a world market now. A GLOBAL economy and global business market. Anyone who wants to succeed -- especially nations, states, countries, whatever you want to call them -- needs to compete fiercely and fearlessly, tooth and nail. They need to claw their way to the top.

Things aren't going to change all of a sudden with the wave of a magic wand. We need to compete. We need to bring corporate taxes DOWN to encourage big companies to do more business HERE. We need to encourage wealthy people to keep their money here and spend their money here and invest their money here. Not in China, or India, or Dubai, or anywhere else. Between the peoples' obsession with maintaining the status quo with entitlement spending and defense spending, and earmarks and other pork, and with the national debt now hitting the GDP (which is one of the most frightening aspects of the current state we are in) and so many people's casual attitude toward it, and now with all these rates increasing, not to mention a growing trend in unfriendly business regulations on the rise, I am sincerely concerned for our welfare over the next two to four years and even well into the future.

More later, so much more.. Especially regarding the unprecedented power that these two behemoth corporations that call themselves political parties, namely the Democratic and Republican, have over all of the above... THAT seems to be the main block in the artery of our economic health.

Monday, January 07, 2013


[Bummer Warning] Talking with The Poet... Texting actually. I never talk on the phone truth be told. Which is fine it seems because no one else i know does either. We were discussing our recent ASCAP royalty checks. Fucked up and low-balled as usual. Music is the greatest art form in the world to be a part of but it's the worst f*^king business. I love making music more than anything else i can think of. Nothing gives me more pure unadulterated joy than the simple act of making music, whether alone w just a guitar or piano, or with the band; whether writing and recording new songs and albums, or performing live. There's nothing like it. But financially it's a nearly thankless career choice.

We made more $ last year than any other year in the last 25 years of our career and it's still not enough to make a decent living. Added all up it seems like a large amount. But considering how hard you work and how much money you spend it's just peanuts compared to so many other careers. Not much else to say. Just bummed. Has to be a better way than this. How much longer can or will Princess Little Tree hang on under these circumstances? I know she had no idea it would be this hard. Frankly neither did I. You would think by now... After all the... But it's just seems to be an all or nothing kind of business. You're either making big bank or barely getting by, and nothing really in between. Bummed.

- Posted by The Ambassador using blogpress on an iPhone

Sunday, January 06, 2013

God Conscious or Mere Energetic?

The question is, if one accepts the premise of the existence of a divine force in the universe, does "God" have the capacity to possess intentions, or even understand them..., or is HeSheIt just a powerful force that happened to have been the impetus for creation And continues to be? It occurred to me a few hours ago while in the middle of a few seconds of prayer. What if what we call God, what we innately and internally feel as God, is not as much a rational thinking source of intelligence capable of granting favors based on people's prayers and intentions as much as it is just a force or energy source that one can harness towards the achievement of said prayers or intentions...?

Many people are raised with an assumption that not only a God exists but that God is capable of hearing -- and sometimes even psychically knowing -- our innermost desires through our prayers. I must confess that at one point a few months back I had this thought that occurred to me that I should start praying out loud so that God and angels could actually hear me; it just occurred to me in the moment that with all the psychic noise being generated around the universe through potentially billions of sentient beings all praying at the same time that one would have a better of chance of being heard. And besides, what if God isn't even capable of hearing our thoughts? But only what we speak out loud? I mean where and when do we get this idea that God can just hear us if we pray silently in our minds? I figured either way it can't hurt.

Then this morning while engaged in a few moments of quiet prayer this thought came to mind: what if God is less a conscious favor giver than more of a force that we can harness. We already know through countless academic and scientific studies that prayer has proven to be effective in helping us achieve certain goals or intentions. Reports of miracle healings and the like are numerous. But what if the real mechanism at play is not so much that some intelligent being in another dimension is listening to every prayer that people are uttering in every moment and choosing which ones to honor or not, but rather that there's this energy force somewhere out there -- perhaps even in plain sight, like the Higgs Field for example -- that we latch onto through focusing our consciousness on a particular goal or intention.

As comforting as it feels to imagine a conscious kind and loving GodForce whose sole mission in life is to honor our every whim and prayer because HeSheIt has so much love for us, this second theory would make more sense in lieu of all we've learned over the last few years regarding conscious creation through vibration and or vibrational energy, something that is gaining more and more credence and scientific evidence in recent years specifically in the arena of particle physics.

Something to think about. Plenty of implications to still explore...

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Moment Fishy Became a Writer...

Heard a more than decent song this evening during the ending credits roll of an old TV show I am currently having a mild obsession with, a little something called The Riches starring Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard. Yes you read that right. Turns out the pair teamed for a one hour drama for the FX network back in '06 to '08. Though it only ran 10 episodes per season and only lasted for a season and a half. Seek it out if you're a fan of either actor. They're both better great at what they do in it. Minnie really shines. That's a different story though.

The song started off with the lyrics "the fox... the fox..." I liked it immediately. Wanted to know who sang it. Sitting right there while the credits rolled, I picked up my phone (at this point it doesn't even matter what phone we use. They all do the same thing give or take...) and Googled "Who sings the song with lyrics the fox ... The Riches..." Within less than a minute I discovered the song was by the band Nada Surf, one of the few acts on planet earth I've never explored, let alone purchased an album by. With this new found information I then headed to YouTube and ran a search for the song. At least five uploads were available, whether I wanted to hear the original or the band performing it live in concert, there it was. I selected the one that seemed to appear the "most legit" and clicked play, placed my phone in my shirt pocket and went about my business of locking up the house for the evening -- all the while this fresh new great song accompanying my every move, the music emanating clearly and cleanly from somewhere within the confines of my clothing. Like a walking jukebox.

When it was over, I hit play again to grab another listen. I also added it to my Favorites Playlist, which not only acts as my own personal music collection now, say goodbye to needing iTunes, but also alerts roughly fifteen-thousand of my closest friends on Facebook and Twitter about the song's awesomeness and a link where it can easily be found. For free. And again it hit me. Walking around the house to turn off all the lights, the music still blaring out of my pocket, I casually asked my beautiful wife, "Babe we just heard that song on a TV show and had no idea who it was. How long did it take me to find that out?"

"A minute... Less than a minute" she replied as she let Alistair out for the night.

"Exactly. And how long did it take me to find it so we could listen to it?"

"Another minute...."

"And how much did it cost us?"

"Zero," said she, letting said dog back in the house.

"Yep. The business has changed, changed forever. For better or worse the glory days as we used to know them are truly over for us in this business."

"You keep saying that honey. What are you going to do about it?"

"Less than five minutes after hearing a song we like on TV and we're listening to it. And we're not paying a dime for it. I know I keep saying it lately. I just can't fully believe it..."

"Maybe you don't want to believe it..."

"Maybe... I hadn't thought about it like that... But if 2012 was about anything, it was all about my denial of how quickly the music business has changed... and how nearly every single one of our income streams has dried up in the last few years. I mean, we worked harder in the last two years at making it than I ever have in my entire life..."
She smiled at me and patted my chest, implying I just might be overstating things a bit.

"Okay perhaps I'm exaggerating... the truth is I've been working like this non-stop for the last twenty years is more like it... But we REALLY kicked into high gear this year, and we achieved incredible things! Bigger and better and faster and more than at any other time in my career. And yeah we made great money from it... But it's not enough. And no wonder. Look how different things are. It's one thing reading about these changes in Billboard every week. It's another thing to actually see myself doing it... participating in the exact activities that are tearing apart the whole freaking system."

"Well it's become real to you now. You've switched roles with the audience and now you are seeing things how they see things."

"Exactly. And it freaking SUCKS. I don't want to be doing this. Listen to this!" I exclaimed pointing to the music playing in my pocket. This is insane. These guys aren't going to to get a fucking dime from my standing here listening to their music. And that sucks for them. And their label. And the producer if he's getting points on the record. It's all so wrong..."

"Well you could always stop doing it. But you won't. No one will. Like you said, the business has changed... So have you as a music fan, just like everybody else. You want it now and if you don't have to pay for it you won't argue with anyone about it."

"Yes. Exactly. That's the thing. See? I don't MIND paying for music. God knows. How many songs or albums do I buy each month?"

"More than you should. More than we can afford. Especially if you're only going to listen to the song a few times and never listen to it again. Which is what you usually do when you find a song you like. You'll probably never go seek out this song again to listen to it now that you've heard it a few times. That's why people don't want to buy music anymore. It's not rocket science."

"That IS the flipping point, isn't it? The only difference between now and before is that unless a person wanted to sit around and make mix tapes or burn CDs from their friends, which was a royal pain in the ass, people were forced into buying music if we liked it. Now we don't have to. And that's that."

"Honey I'm tired..."

"I know. Me too. What I'm trying to say is that this my love is why I need to start writing," I said, giving her a hug before she went upstairs to prepare for bed. "More than ever before I now understand that it's time for me to seriously become that rockstar turned writer we keep talking about."

"You already seriously are that rockstar turned writer we keep talking about Baby Joon," she said, her eyes drooping but still looking into mine. "You just need to finish one of the ten thousand books you have started. No amount of writing in the world, no matter how good it is, is going to help us if you never release any of it."

"I know honey. I get it. I more than get it. It just keeps hitting me in different ways all of a sudden. I mean here again tonight it just really hit me. I need to shift gears fast and start actively focusing on the writing. Like a job."

"No different than you already do babe. You already ARE a writer. You write more than most writers. AND you can still do your music. But what I don't like is we keep talking about it and not doing anything about it. I think you're afraid that it's going to affect your music career. But I don't think it will. If anything it will help...."

"Yeah I get that too actually.... you know what it is babe? I always saw me becoming "the writer" later... Like after the rockstar thing was over... you know, when I was older and married and had kids and all that. more like a retirement thing..."

"Honey you are older. I hate to tell you. And you're already a writer... What are you waiting for?"

"Nothing I guess. I already told you my plan. The first book, When I Was Twenty-One will be completed and released by the end of January. For sure. And while we continue to work on the We Are the Revolution book, I can easily get the Casanova Diaries finished. That one's already done. I just need to edit it. It'll be easy. I can do this honey."

"I have no doubt you can do it. I just want to see you START. And I'm not talking about making your little notes all over scraps of paper that just pile up all over the house... You have to approach it like any other job. The same way you approach your music when you want to get a new album recorded. You've got to actually sit and work at it till you finish. And you can still make time for your music. What do you do all day anyway?"

"Write or work on music...." I smiled. "I know, I know. I know what to do. You want to know what my biggest fear is?... Okay, two biggest fears actually..."

"One, what if I am not meant to stop music right now? What if now is not that time?"

"We aren't talking about you quitting music honey. We're talking about you working on only one book at a time instead of twenty and releasing them. And continuing to work at your regular job too. Just stop working on so many things at once and focus on one book and get it out."

"And what if people don't buy it? I mean what if people don't buy me as a writer? What if I'm fooling myself?"

"Well you're never going to know until you try honey. Talking to me about it isn't going to get you there..."

"I know. It's the new year. Plan B is working incredibly so far. You know I haven't missed one day of studying Farsi in three weeks? You hear how good I'm getting?"

"Honey! I was going to tell you that when I came in this morning. I was laughing so hard! You have to be careful with some of the words you are learning. Some of them aren't polite if you mispronounce them. This morning you were saying a bad word instead of "bowl" but I didn't want to interrupt you..."

"No. Babe don't do that! If you hear me pronouncing a word wrong, tell me. You know how hard it is to try to learn this freaking language? There's no english alphabet. I have to stare at the pictures of objects and just keep hitting repeat over and over trying to learn and memorize it like that because I can't read the freaking letters... It's like music."

"Well you're good at it. You're great at it. You're doing it honey. I am really impressed."

"I am getting good huh?"

"Yes my love. I'm proud of you. You have no idea how much it warms my heart seeing you practice so hard everyday.... Thank you honey."

"No thank you for being so patient. I told you I would learn your native language. It just took me a lot longer than I thought. But it's working out now with my new plan. I'm actually doing it."

"So now just apply your plan B to your writing. Schedule a time of day you're going to do it and do it. You're good at that."

"I think I'm actually horrible at it."

"Not really. Not compared to everyone else. When you set your mind to something you go after it more than anyone I've ever seen. You know this. We've talked about it. You're going to be teaching me Farsi soon! You just need to approach completing the books the same way you're doing with learning Farsi or your music..."

"I know. I will. I am. I don't have a choice at this point. I know it. I have to..."

"Honey I'm going to go upstairs now. Can you make sure all the doors are locked? I'll see you upstairs."

"Okay. Yeah...."

For the next hour it's all I thought about. While getting ready for bed. I made over $9,000 from my music in the first quarter of this year. Just from radio airplay. It was a good year. But it cost three times that to get a song high enough in the charts to where you're making that kind of money. That's the catch 22 of the whole damn thing. This is nothing compared to five years ago. Because sales are now almost entirely out of the picture.

But the thing I keep thinking about is all these new indie bands that come out every month. They get a hit song in a movie or a TV show and then Bam! THEY do get sales. So sales haven't dried up completely. Not for everyone. Frankly I think the conversation should be more about what leads to sales than how they've dried up. Because they've clearly not dried up for everyone. And sure I may not be buying as much music as I used to, but I'm still buying a ton of it. And so are others obviously. That's really the key to it... How to stay in that top bracket of the rare few who actually still sell a ton of songs or albums... Second quarter pay outs are going to come any week. And they should be even bigger than first quarter. Thank God. But it's the sales we are after. How to compel people to not just want to go on YouTube or Pandora and listen for free or play the songs on the radio...

Don't get me wrong. There is NOTHING like having a hit song on the radio or in Billboard. But there is a very broadly drawn and large line in the sand between those who actually sell music and those who don't. And that's where we are waning now that the industry has changed. And I refuse to believe that it's because we aren't good enough. I went down the path a hundred times over the last twenty years. Until I finally realized through just sheer quantity and quality of fan feedback that it's bullshit. It's an excuse we tell ourselves because we don't know what the hell we're doing wrong. So we start questioning the merit of what we do, regardless of how much we like it or think it's great.

Frankly I think the missing piece, the thing we're doing wrong, is not touring regularly. Not that any of the Top 40 artists tour very often. Most of them are singles oriented. They DON'T tour. They do these big shows here and there. Morning TV, late night, festivals. We're getting close to being able to do that now. But we're not there yet. We need one more big hit. The other thing is that we're a band. We're not a Top 40 artist. And bands notoriously tour their asses off. So that's something else to think about. What's the resistance? Okay well we know what the resistance is... We don't have enough money to tour or better put we don't make enough money from touring to support a real tour. At least not yet.

But what if while I'm taking the time to finish writing one of these books in order to get more money coming in, we continue to work on the album, promoting and marketing, and if there's a God in heaven or a sliver of luck anywhere near me with this, something will pop that will lead us into an opportunity to tour as we used to. It only takes one. We already know that from past experience, time and time again. What I'm hearing is that I'm just being impatient. Spoiled by how things used to be. The new album has only been out for less two months. There's plenty of time for it to continue to rise in the charts AND for a song or two or three to get picked up for something that can lead to enough money to support a tour. And demand one. That's the other thing. The demand... It ain't easy. There's no way around that. But it's fun. Hell, I don't even believe it's fun any more. It's more scary than fun. But it's my life. That, really, in the end, is what it's all about.

Okay, so that's what we're going to do. Here it is 2:44 am and I'm writing in the Diaries. So maybe that's something that needs to change. The Diaries are free. Like the music now is. (insert loud laugh here!) We need to turn our attention and the writing towards other things that are NOT free. Other vehicles. We'll see. This isn't going to work. There's no way I'm going to be able to maintain the Diaries AND make music full time AND finish a few books. It's impossible. Unless I start writing super short blog posts. Which actually might not be such a bad idea. And with that, let us end. Tomorrow we apply Plan B to the writing too. We will add it to the schedule. And we'll play it by ear with what happens to the Diaries... Until then.

Learning Farsi

Farsi study time. Everyday now since about two weeks ago for at least an hour I've been diligently pursuing mastery over this damn language. With an alphabet that looks as beautiful as the world's finest art, it is hard to fathom, ironically, just how utterly displeasing the sound of the Farsi language is. Worse yet, it is as displeasing to the mouth and tongue to speak as it is to listen to. It's truly unlike any other language I have endeavored to learn. Not only is it extremely difficult to speak physically, in terms of forming the words properly -- plenty of glottel stops and gutteral formations in the mouth and back of the throat, but it's also completely grammatically confusing. More on that later. 

We're at the deep in point now and I have to note: attempting to learn a foreign language withOUT learning to read and write it's alphabet may just be impossible. (UnLESS u just immerse yourself in that country for six months and r forced to that is.) Other than that this is getting harder by the day but I trudge onwards.
I make occasional updates to social media regarding this new endeavor. Freinds have offered a variety of potential solutions to this quandary. Everything from alternate language programs to memory improvement courses. Rosetta Stone is the best program for learning a foreign language out there second only to formal classes IMO. It's just the first time I've attempted to master one with a totally different alphabet. And because I'm NOT in a class (as I've been in the prior four I've learned) and perhaps due to some slight laziness and fear on my part I am focusing on just speaking rather than reading. A side advantage of doing it this way is that you r forced to hone your listening and memory skills razor sharp. Because you can't read the letters right in front of you -- as one would with french or spanish for example. That's a plus for the old brain for sure. But at this point where I've "milestoned" into Unit 2 and the sentences I'm learning are becoming longer and longer it is obviously becoming increasingly difficult to do it all by ear without being able to read even one letter that's staring me in the face. Of course it would be the same if I were learning Japanese like James or Russian or any others... (I think u already know I took the easy road to start and learned all the "regular alphabet" languages first way back when (except Romanian -- the secret-closet stepchild of the 5 romance languages, because I just feel no desire to learn it). But I've run out of those now. So... all that's left are "different alphabet" languages for me.

As I'm writing all this to you (pardon it's length) I'm just realizing that I'm really cutting myself short by having chosen this method. I can feel the limiting belief operating :: learning that alphabet is going to be too flipping hard! I'm going to seriously consider discreating this idea and perhaps go back to square one and take on learning to read and write. Sheesh these r just beliefs. Why struggle if you don't have to right?

And I'll tell you -- on another note -- two other things that have occurred to me, 1, connecting with others through social media like Facebook about what's really going on as opposed to just jokes and links and pix an bs can be very helpful to us in a variety of different areas of our lives. You guys here have taught me plenty and inspired me. And 2, staying in touch w fellow Avatars has a similar effect on us but just amplified by a google. We create a no bs allowed zone so to speak. Because you and Dan and Annie r in this loop it's forced me to really look at what's going on. Not just w this but you know, all around I think it's very helpful and beneficial to us all to be connected potentially on a daily basis.