First Time at Pine View Church

Last Sunday, I got to make music with the band at Pine View Church in Ypsilanti. It was a treat for a handful of reasons.

David Vaughn is the music director at Green Wood (my home church) and also plays at Pine View Church ( I’d been wanting to get to Pine View and hear the group for a long time but never quite made it. Last Sunday, David found he needed a substitute bass player. (My friend Tony Fahmie usually plays bass there but couldn’t make it.) I jumped at the chance. David sent me links to some of the songs they were doing and I listened through them. Great music – so different than the downtown church or Green Wood.

I got there at 8:30 and got set up. They have a great sound system, each of us not only had our own monitor, but a local pad so we could create our own mix of instruments. I used Tony’s bass rig, all I had to bring was my guitar. There were two or different choirs (including a smaller praise group and a children’s choir) and they delivered! It was such a treat to be playing that kind of music and listening to all those voices.

There were two other big surprises that really made me glad I went.

First was that they had a woman (Karen) signing the service to some folks in the front row. This is a big deal to me because Lisa learned and love ASL and is wondering what to do with it. So, I want to have her come down next Sunday and watch ASL in action.

The second thing that stood out to me was the pastor. He has all the high-energy I expected from a Pentecostal-style minister (it’s an Apostolic church) but with a broader sensibility that I expected. In just that one morning, I saw and heard two things that really excited me about his ministry.

The first was the pre-service class. I missed most of it but had a short chat with a guy named Darryl (who turned out to be a Social Work student at EMU). The pastor was doing a series on mental health. To be honest, my assumption was that the message would be something like “pray harder and turn yourself over to Jesus and these problems will go away”. In fact, it wasn’t that at all. The message was “we can’t be judgmental about people with these types of challenges, they should get the help they need and we should support them.” So much for me as “free of prejudicial assumptions about denominations”.

The second thing was during a slide show. I missed part of it (the musicians were out of the room and came back in mid-sermon), but what I caught was him getting choked up about something that happened at a recent event at the church. From what I gathered, it was open to the community. There was a slide of a young girl – I think doing a chalk drawing on the sidewalk. Pastor Nate said she was a Muslim girl from a local family then commented (and yes, I am paraphrasing) that this was how God wants us to be – loving each other in God’s name, not worrying about which church, temple, or mosque you are in while you are doing it. That couldn’t have been a better thing for me to hear to get me excited about his ministry. God’s bigger than our thoughts about God.

I’d recommend the church to anyone who loves good music, an open-hearted pastor, and a welcoming congregation.

Side note: there’s a very good interview with David here in which he talks about his background, influences, style, and thoughts about church music.

Daily Blogging is No Longer a Goal

Blogging confuses me and so I am dropping my goal of “post something daily”.

This journey through ADD/ADHD is interesting and fascinating to me, but I’m not sure which events are significant and which are not, which might help people and which might not, so I’m never sure what to post. 

Also, when I am in the middle of doing things, it doesn’t occur to me to come and post an update. So I’m always playing catch up. 

Maybe the way this post can be most helpful is just to show how an ADD mind works, even after all this time. 

Hey wait! That’s the subtitle of the site! “a peek inside an ADD mind”.

So maybe this post is OK after all…

Following Through on Things

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.

“to do” Lists and Long Term Goals

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

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…