Lisa's Birthday Palindrome

Lisa’s birthday was today (Monday). She loves palindromes and I noticed her birthday IS one so I put together a little picture for her. She’s into “My Little Pony” right now (sorry, honey, I outed you!) so I thought this would make a nice birthday greeting…

Image  —  Posted: April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

Illness and Attitude

Posted: April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m getting over a 3 day cold. I’d forgotten the effect being sick has on me – I don’t just get lethargic, I get depressed. 

It’s given me a whole new respect for what Lisa and Tori ( and others with long-term health issues go through.

Too tired to write more.

Saturday night, I had an interesting dream. Most of the specifics are gone, but one telling thing remained: the teacher’s comment.

I was in a classroom. I’m pretty sure it was EMU and I’m pretty sure it was Decky’s.  I have no idea what the assignment was or what I had generated, but I remembered what she said: “you never follow anything through to see what it might grow into.”

This is really true. 

And it’s a lot bigger than just the typical ADD “we start a lot of things and don’t finish them.” Sure, I have hundreds of those, but I have finished a lot of projects. This is something else. It has to do with “what happens after it’s finished?”

Thinking back, I generated a lot of pieces over the last 5 years. Musical improvisations, staged readings, “Green Wood Voices”, and short dramas at Green Wood. Adaptations of Jerry Spinelli’s “Loser” and Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House”. The one-act “Death of American’s First Woman President”, another full length play for Zettelmaier’s class, etc. etc. etc.

Here’s what I think the dream meant: I finished them and filed them away. What if I’d taken one of them and kept going? What would happen?

So, the question becomes (like so many questions): is it symptomatic or not? Is it just me? Fear of failure? Fear of success?

I think it’s the task oriented nature of my ADHD coping mechanisms. Over the years, I’ve worked hard to get to the point I can actually finish assignments on time. The idea of going further with them never occurs to me. At least it never has until now.

Which is where the one-man show research comes in. I’ve decided I am going to follow through on the “I Am Not Distracted” piece. (Hate the title but that’s for later.) I’ve done two spinoffs: the 2013 ADDA Conference piece and the “Who Am I Living With?!?!” talks. But, I want to go back and do more with the original piece.

So, I scanned Youtube to find some example of other people’s one-man shows. I’m going to watch and learn. I have a great toolbox of skills from Anita, Decky, Patricia, etc but I still don’t know how to put them together. They’re like LEGOs on the floor waiting to be turned into something. I need some models, so I’m going to spend some time this week seeing what others have built.

Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, it’ll be fun watching.

Last night, I was thinking about my new approach to scheduling things – assigning certain days to handle items I’ve categorized as “past”, “present” and “future”. I like it in that it gives me a different angle to look at my “to do” list.

Today is a “past” day. I spent the first few hours going through books and DVDs, finding ones I am willing to part with. (Back in December, I made a huge dent in my vinyl collection – I got rid of nearly 50% of it. I expect it to be a more painful process.) I took a break at noon for my gym class.

When I got home from that, I looked at the next task I’d queued up. “Rip old reel-to-reel tapes to mp3″. I sat back and started wondering about that one. I have about fifty or so hours of tapes that date back to my first “band” – me, Tom, and Mike Donovan in the upstairs of the garage on Jackson Street, sometime around 1972 or 73. There’s a recording of one of my “quickly assembled” bands who played our big party when we left Michigan for California. There are tapes of the concerts we did for the United Way (a group of us from Mervyn’s learned some favorites and played them live), and dozens of tapes of “song ideas”.

Is it worth digitizing these or should I just bite the bullet and toss them?

I have a huge nostalgia for the past. But I’m also aware that ripping 50 hours or tape means 50 hours I am not doing something else. On top of all that is this ADD thing. We have trouble making decisions. I doubt that I could, for example, rip “some” of the tapes. It’s all-or-nothing.

As I was sitting there puzzling it out, I had a bit of a revelation about the “to do” list itself. The list shouldn’t just be a checklist of things I wrote down. It should be a list of tasks I am doing for some reason. Does “ripping tapes of Tom and me in the garage” do anything to support any of my long term goals?

It’s an interesting question and I don’t have an answer. 

My answer right now – today – is that it reminds me of a time I made music for the love of it. It wasn’t a question of “who is ever going to hear this?” or “is this going to raise anyone’s consciousness level?” or “am I going to be able to sell this?” It was just us playing from the heart. As bad as it was (and it was pretty bad…), it was from the heart.

Right now, that little reminder is enough to convince me to spend time doing it.

Drawing Faces

Posted: April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Drawing faces has always been a challenge for me.

No, that’s understating it – I’m pretty awful at it. And that isn’t uncertainty or self-doubt talking, it’s just a technical fact. I think it’s because I grew up copying Kirby and Buscema and the other greats at Marvel comics. Over the years, I managed to improve the way I handled all aspects of drawing – except faces. And, oh yeah, animals. Don’t ask me to draw you a dog…

Part 2 of the story: a while ago, Jean went on a Methodist trip to Alaska with her friend Justin to do some work with kids. She brought me back a very cool little pocket sketch book:



Part 3: last night, I was going through some magazines and thought “hey, why don’t I try drawing some faces again? It’s been a while…let’s see what happens.” And what happened wasn’t too bad at all. I drew two faces, using different grey-tone markers, pen and pencil. They don’t feel like “portraits” but more “illustrations”, so a step forward.


Not exactly photographic likenesses, but I think I am starting to break out of the comic-book-faces phase. At least a little bit…


Tonight's Dinner - the actual

This is how my version actually came out. Not bad. And tasty. Great recipe.

Image  —  Posted: April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

New Time Management Experiment

Posted: April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m trying something new this week. I keep reading different articles on time management – different ways of looking at the time we have, how we chop it up and how we stuff it with tasks, how we choose our priorities. I ran across an article a while back that suggested using 
“themes” instead of deadlines. I tried it in Jan-March at a monthly level and it worked out pretty well. The idea is that having a “to do” list creates a certain type of pressure that isn’t helpful. We measure ourselves all day/week against that list.

The writer’s suggestion was to leave it a little open, a little vague. “This week is about getting a few things done around the house” rather than “Monday I will paint the basement, Tuesday, I will rake the yard” etc. His idea is that this puts us in a state of mind in which we know what we want to do, we know that we want to do it (otherwise it wouldn’t be on the list) and then we find ourselves gravitating toward doing it rather than forcing ourselves just so we can cross it off the list.

I had mixed results in Jan and Feb. In Jan, I found that it worked as planned – the theme was “get the structures organized so I can leave my job” and I did that. One day, it was “get the paperwork together on all our different accounts”, one week it was “go through last year’s data to get good budget projections”, one week it was “find some good software to balance the checkbook since Windows 8 won’t run my version of Quicken”. They all got done and I didn’t feel any pressure.

February was different. The theme was “get acquainted with the different theatre classes, groups, and events in town” and it didn’t happen. To be fair, it was my last month at work and I spent a lot of time trying to close out projects and do knowledge transfer. So, I’m not calling it a fail. 

Anyway, back to the point (see how ADD works?) – I am applying that idea to “days of the week” now. But I’m slicing life in a different direction: Past, Present, and Future. 

Past days are days I go through boxes in the basement, rip old VHS to digital, sell/donate/throw out old books and records, and generally work through the list of things I “wanted to get to” but never did. 

Present days are days I work on whatever is active right now: bills, appointments, home repair, the garden, guitar practice, writing, creative projects I’m working on.

Future days I try to do what I am really bad at – making long range plans. I am still learning that one must schedule events several months in advance in order to make them happen. I don’t work that way but the world does. In the simplest sense, it’s because I can’t keep doing things like handing the band new charts the day of a gig, or pulling together a performance one week before I want to do it. In a bigger sense, it’s because of bigger things like advertising deadlines and needing to coordinate peoples’ schedules.

So, today is Tuesday, future planning day. And it’s 5:30 in the afternoon and I have still not started on my list. But, I have supreme confidence I will finish the list before I have to leave for Adrian at 7.

Let’s see how it goes.