I’ll Spread My Wings and I’ll Learn How to Fly…

In the final post of this series (and likely also the shortest), this refernce is another one you practically had to be living under a rock to miss the reference. Well, maybe not as blatantly as you would have had to with “Complicated” but maybe it’s obvious to me because this last one was almost our high school class song (it lost out to some stupid-ass country song called “Young” – I was disappointed).

So I’ve decided to embrace my quirks and so-called “flaws,” decided to un-complicate things and decided to live life I never have. So what do I have to in order to do that?

That’s an easy one: I need to spread my wings and learn how to fly. I need to do what it takes to touch the sky. I need to make a wish, take a chance, make a change and breakway from this prison that I call Crapilene. When I moved to DFWTF, I thought my heart was calling me back to Abilene and maybe it was in the interim, but that was just a safety net. I realize I was just falling victim to Stockholm syndrome, aggravated by the excessive misery heaped upon me by the toxic culture of “The Met” (and anyone who has lived there knows DFWTF will absolutely suck your soul).

With starting a new business comes a huge risk. Oh it’s a risk. I’ve done some scary shit in the past, but that’s probably the scariest thing anyone could ever do. Alas, with big risk also comes the potential for big reward. My business model will never make me rich, and I mean never. If I were to be honest with myself I’d be making considerably less money than I am now, even being in a city that’s all but ideal for my business concept (which SA is while Abilene is not in any way). A high end cigar & spirits bar is a labor of love all the way.

Alas, there is one thing I’ve come to realize: getting rich is life’s biggest booby prize. Living where I do (not actually in Abilene, but in a farming community just outside) I’m actually considered high income for my area even though I don’t bank. Alas I have next-to-no living expenses in my current arrangement. I’m living almost like someone who really makes half again what I make in my salaried 7-4 job. I used to think all I needed was money and I’d be happy (particularly when I went through a long stretch of unemployment), but now that I have some money in the bank and am still as miserable as ever, I realize how wrong that notion was. Of course, it’d be nice to be both happy and rich but I think every person on this fucking planet would pick happiness over riches if they were forced to pick between one or the other. You’d have to be a real idiot not to (or maybe a masochist).

Of course, the added benefit of being in SA would be to be close to my beloved neuro-sister. While it might be the icing on the cake, it’s a very, very thick layer of icing – maybe even thicker than the cake itself. Someone who I see as potential partner in this business endeavor (but who would also be the toughest one to convince to come with me) actually seems to sympathize and suggested we might be twin souls. Maybe that explains the pain I’m feeling as I write this – maybe it’s like a magnet that’s pulling on my body so hard that it’s creating pain beause my body can’t move with the pull.

Of course, that’s not to downplay saying goodbye to the ones here. Of course I love my parents, and while they would be sad to see me go, they’re even sadder that I feel so bad. I’ve not yet divulged to them why I feel this bad, but they know. They just know, and I’m sure they’d be 100% supportive of me when this comes to fruition. I’ll be back to visit of course. Abilene to SA is only about 250 miles after all, and after I’ve gotten this far in my tattoo journey almost exclusively as one artist’s canvas (and soon to be just one artist’s when I have her re-work the one done by someone else that healed like complete shit) so I’ll have to come back to add to my tattoo collection, unless she decides to break away herself and open a shop in SA that is. 😉

And yes, you read that right – it’s not “if,” it’s “when” – it’s in the stars – not only am I a tropical (false) Pisces I’m also a sidereal (true) Pisces and self-employment is in my DNA according to the true system and after exploring sidereal astrology with Laina I am a firm believer in it – hence my calling this whole thing a spiritual awakening. I’m not saying I make my every move based on it, but it’s amazingly and bizarrely accurate.

My purpose isn’t to sit in an office all day. My purpose is to do cool shit with cool people. While cranes are cool machines, the career/industry surrounding it is anything but. It’s just as soul-sucking as any other corporate job. Nah, I have to transcend. I have no choice. If I don’t, well then I might as well just commit suicide because by not I’ll be doing nothing but prolonging needless suffering and I absolutely refuse to subject the ones I love to the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. I just can’t do it. Why do you think I’m so glad my attempt four years ago failed, against all odds.

Breaking away is the final step in my personal transformation, which has been a process and now it’s entering its final stages. Of course, the process started on January 2nd, 2016 when that seemingly small blue mark was permanently etched into the dermis of my posterior inner right wrist reminding me that my story wasn’t over yet. Who knew something so small, so profound would have such life-changing consequences? What are the odds.

It’s not coincidence. It’s destiny.

Well, so much for being the shortest post of the series. It turned out to be the longest. Oops. I guess the words just flow sometimes. But that’s OK. I’ll say what needs to be said regardless of word count. Hope you enjoyed the song if anything else.

That concludes this series. I know I’ll have my haters, but you need not comment. I have no time for that. If you dare to hate on any of these posts by the time this one goes up (note: the series were pre-written on the same day and set to post in succeeding days) you will be automatically blacklisted. I don’t need anyone raining on my parade. You’re either with me or you’re not and if you’re not fuck off and unfollow me. Thank you.

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What Am I Gonna Do? What Am I Gonna Do To Feel Like Freedom’s Mine?

This third installment in a series of four posts might have a little more crypitc lyric reference title so I might as well just tell you where it comes from. Those of you who follow Indie Rock might know of a guy named Dustin Burnett, who goes by the stage name Zayde Wolf. The title is the first pre-chorus in his brilliant song “Live Life” and don’t worry, if you haven’t ever heard it (a lot of my followers have because I’ve featured it on SLS twice when that was still a thing), I of course will share the video at the end of this post.

So where did I first encounter this song? It was in 2016 on Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars when NTT (then Verizon) IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe (#5 SPM Honda) did a foxtrot routine to this song with his professional partner Sharna Burgess  on premiere night. It was a truly fitting song for him too – the year prior he had an accident that would have killed any of the rest of us but he was in such great shape he survived an accident no random Joe Blow would have survied.

Alas, sometimes it does take something tragic to realize how much we take this life for granted. We also don’t realize with our everyday mundane boring jobs just how quickly our lives are passing us by, and we don’t realize how much of our precious time we are just absolutely wasting bending over backwards for people who couldn’t give two ducking ducks (ahem, I mean fucking fucks – damn you Autocorrect!) about us (here’s looking at our bosses) and wouldn’t shed a tear if we suddenly dropped dead. Don’t lie to yourself – you know they couldn’t give a shit about you as a person. All they care about is what you do to line their pocket books while paying you a disproportionately small salary in exchange for the amount of revenue you’re bringing in.

Alas, that’s what corporatism/crony capitalism in the US has boiled us all down to. Again, we’re being forced to sacrifice our own happiness and utility to fit the mold. It’s painful for all people, neurotypical or otherwise, but even more painful for us neurodivergents because these environments are completely and totally toxic to our well-being. That masking I talked about yesterday? Yeah, we HAVE to do it to retain our jobs most of the time, and if we don’t it’s a case of see ya later. Well that certainly explains our much-higher-than-average unemployment rate right?

At the end of the day, very few, if any, of us are truly made to sit in offices all day. We were made to do cool shit with cool people. So what are we gonna do, what are we gonna do to feel like freedom is ours? Well, it’s time to break the mold and live life like we never have and live life through the good and bad! Not only do we need to be ourselves and quit masking, there’s no better time than now to take that chance, do something that the spiritually dead would call crazy (I use the term as this almost feels like a spiritual awakening).

Is it really crazy though? I don’t think so. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. Maybe those of us who get out there and live life like we never have aren’t the crazy ones. Maybe we’re the sane ones after all. Again, down with society’s arbitrary social norms and expectations. Their bullshit expectations are why so many people are on fucking antidepressants and shit these days (I truly believe this – again thanks to corporatism/crony capitalism).

Alas, I think I know what I have to do now, and that will be the topic of the fourth and final post in this series to come tomorrow. As for today, I’ll leave you with this bold and powerful song. Hope you enjoy.

I See the Way I’m Acting Like I’m Somebody Else Gets Me (And You?!) Frustrated

OK, if you don’t get that song reference you must be living under a fucking rock because when that song first came out they overplayed it on the radio, so much I hated the song and screamed every time it would come on the radio.

As such, I never really listened to the words that closely, save for its instantly recognizable catchphrase “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?” Actually, when you get down to the barebones it’s a very well written and composed song – it’s a lovely use of relative minor/major (and going between the two seamlessly) and the message is very deep and profound, and is why I’ve chosen this song for the 2nd installment of my song lyric inspired posts because again, it hits home and especially during this transitional phase of my life.

Those who knew me even as a kid knew I tried my damnedest to fit the mold, to be “normal” (What the fuck is normal anyway? Who decides that?). This both before and after I was officially diagnosed with ASD (AS at the time, but that diagnosis is gone of course). Shit, even as much as I love my parents, they often wondered why I couldn’t be normal. The only one who accepted me as is was my great-grandmother.

Anyway, the whole point of this is it’s so tempting to try to be someone you’re not in order to fit in, and especially for us neurodivergents. Humans are social animals after all (make no mistake, we ARE animals) and have a need to fit in. Usually that means trying to be how whatever society we live in deems “normal” through either established social norms, laws or whatever the hell else.

Of course, when we ND’s try to act normal and to fit in, what happens? Do we wind up fitting in? Oh hell to the naw. We usually end up looking like total fools, and especially to our loved ones (well, the more open-minded ones anyway). I mean, can you seriously see me wearing cargo shorts and/or full length jeans, still a blank canvas, no piercings, drinking Miller Light and whatever the hell else normal (or, as I prefer to think of them, boring) people do? Yeah, didn’t think so. Would you want me to fit that mold above? Again, if you truly “love” me (in whatever form that love might be), would you want me to? Proabably not because then I’m someone I’m not and why would you love an alternate me?

Nah, I’m not fooling anyone when I become somebody else around everyone else. They all know I (also, anyone else who masks) am not who I am presenting myself to be. And you know what? Not only that it’s fucking tiring to pretend to be someone else around everyone else. It wears on your soul. I didn’t realize that until I started allowing the true me to really shine through.

And who knows? Maybe all the tears I’ve shed this week (and continue to shed) are that unrequited pain exiting my mind, body and soul. That’s OK, because it’s ready to be released, because I had a defective pressure release valve that didn’t allow it to be released. Now that I’ve replaced it with a properly functioning one, it’s working better and it’s working very efficiently too because with each tear I feel a little lighter, a little less heavy, a little less troubled.

So what happens next? Stay tuned to find out tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy the song and really pay attention to the lyrics if you’ve never done so before. You might just find she’s singing to you too (as it seemed she was me).

All My Quirks, and All My Flaws…

beautiful
A sticker on the side of the tip jar at The Cove, which was our lunch spot Tuesday. I thought it was fitting so I took a pic of it.

First off, please tell me at least one of you out there recognizes the reference? I definitely know one of my followers does, (because she and I sang this song together Tuesday evening) but if not I’ll include the song at the end of the post because it’s so fucking powerful, even though the power can sneak up on you, as it did for me.

Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar, the song referenced above is “Imperfectly Beautiful” by Stacey Ruttledge and Louise Bernadette Dowd. I remember hearing the song sometime in 2014 and 2015. I don’t remember exactly when or where I heard it (I would assume Facebook as I easily spent 10-12 hours on FB every day during that time I was unemployed).

Needless to say the first time I heard that song I was in a very dark place in my life, so dark I thought to myself “what a load of Pollyanna bullshit.” This was the time I thought I was broken, unworthy, weird, etc. among other things that the neurotypical world tries to make us neurodiverse folk feel. I’m sure all of us have been there, done that right? You know how it is.

I think, though, while I was listening to the song the first time and was thinking “what a load of shit,” subconsciously I was soaking the lyrics up like a sponge. Kind of like my inner psyche was saying “you might think this song is a load of shit now, but I’m storing these words here and they will resurface at such a time you are able to understand them.”

Fastfoward then to the evening of Tuesday, March 26th 2019. Laina and I had wanted to go sing some karaoke but the only venue we found was 1) seemingly closed even when their advertised hours said they were open and 2) had all these stupid, uppity rules posted (including “appropriate attire” – I was sure I’d get bounced on account of my signature Dukes because it’s happened to me before). Who’s got time for that shit? Nah, let’s just head back to her home office and jam instead.

So we did just that (we had a much broader selection of music at her home office anyway). So we did just that, me with some guitar stuff and/or just singing along to her collection (not to toot our own horn, but our voices work so well together – being a bass/baritone myself to her true contralto range). And then she pulled up the referenced song.

She said it was like a “theme song” for us neurodivergent people (not just ASD, but a variety of other non-typical neurotypes). Despite having only heard it once before, and several years prior, once it began playing I immediately, and I mean immediately, recognized it. Not only did I recognize it, I was able to sing it from memory (well, 90%+ of it anyway – with the occasional cheat sheet glance).

In addition to all that, it hit me SO. FUCKING. HARD. Like a sack of bricks. I broke down and bawled (but I kept singing along anyway even through the tears because I felt moved to do so, as Laina pulled me into a warm cuddle and we rested our temples against each other as we both continued to sing).

That evening was the right time for the song to resurface for me, for I was now at that point of being ready to start that journey toward self-acceptance and realizing that there’s nothing wrong with me at all. Those of you who were with me and followed my blog in the very early days remember I was very anti-neurodiversity. I did see myself as broken and in need of “fixing.” Thanks to the support of many of you (including and especially you, Laina!), I now see that I am just fine the way I am. Quirks (and lord knows I have many and not just my fashion sense), flaws (we all have them but are some things the world considers flaws really such?), etc. aside. If the world has a problem with that, it is the world that needs to change, not me.

I am imperfectly beautiful. And I will be my own version of beautiful, no matter what anyone else thinks. I will own that shit. I will not stand to be the bird trapped in the cage any more. For everyone else? They will either accept and love me for my face value or they can fuck right off, because I am done, and I repeat, DONE pretending to be someone I’m not (next post in a string of song lyric tie ins about that!).

And for the song. Note there is one transcription error in the lyric video – “lust” (WTF?) is actually supposed to be “love” (now that’s better – the two are not the same and love takes many forms, not just romantic). Warning: you might want to have a tissue handy.

Some Thoughts About Bagpipe Pitch

Continuing my recent theme of bagpipe-related posts, one thing I don’t think I could gloss over is an issue that has bothered me for a long time now – the ever-increasing pitch of the bagpipe.

An old grad school friend of mine last night remarked to me that it seemed to her that the pitch of the bagpipe has increased sharply (pun fully intended!) in the modern time. I reassured her that it was not just her ears playing tricks on her. This trend is a real thing and it’s just not a good trend in my view.

As for why this trend is a thing, despite a lot of pipers not being happy with the trend? Well, let’s just say pipe band competition drives a lot of market trends in the industry and pipe bands (particularly at the top levels of competition where minutia can make the difference between a first place and last place finish). For whatever reason, bands tended to note that if they pitched their chanters (and subsequently their drones) just a shade higher than the rest of the field it gave them an edge in scoring, most likely because a higher pitched sound is perceived as louder (well, at least within the normal operating range of the bagpipe). As such, the stage was set for an arms race for who could produce the highest pitched sound.

This trend took an instrument that once pitched a few hertz higher than concert Bb (that’s B-flat for you non-musical people) to one that now pitches right at B (natural). In the last 10 years we’ve seen almost a half-step increase in the pitch.

So why is it a problem, so long as the instrument is tuned well? The answer is the higher up you go in pitch the more of the upper harmonics (upper partials if you will) you lose as they become inaudible to the human ear as they are now in a frequency range the human ear does not detect. What you gain in perception of volume and clarity you lose in richness of tone. In the band scene this might not be a huge issue when you have multiple instruments to fill the sound out, but a soloist at today’s modern band pitch does not sound pleasant. Hell, it’s even so high now that bands don’t sound pleasant anymore.

Let’s do some case in point here. Same band, 10 years apart. One performance from 2008 and one from 2018. The difference in pitch is absolutely shocking.

This has no doubt gotten out of hand. Alas, it’s harder and harder to find lower pitched chanters these days, which is why I was relieved to find one in my perusing of shops last night (designed by a major bagpipe making firm in conjunction with a top-level piper), and no doubt I’ll be ordering one to complete my new set of drones (and to use with my current one). My current go-to chanter was designed for a vintage pitch but along with chanters, even modern reeds are designed higher pitched than they used to be so the pitch of my chanter has creeped up in turn. It’ll be interesting to see how this one compares.

I don’t know. All I do know is that I sure hope the trend reverses soon.

What do you think? Pipers or laypeople, what do you make of this trend?

Random Saturday Post: Wiggles + Bagpipes?!?!?

So this might not have much to do with anything on this blog, but every now and then I find something that just amuses the hell out of me and I just have to share it. This is one of those things, and my friends/followers with young kids might really get a kick out of this.

So I was listening to some bagpipe music on YouTube yesterday and came across a few interesting gems which featured none other than the Australian children’s band known as The Wiggles, and all to bagpipe tunes I absolutely love (both to listen to and to play).

The first video I came across was this one, where they did the robot to the classic 6/8 jig “Glasgow City Police Pipers.” This is probably my favorite bagpipe tune of all time.

Then we have a reel called “High Road to Linton” which features Emma’s dancing skills as well as seemingly jibberish vocals to the music, but it’s actually not jibberish. It’s a system called canntaireachd (“KAN-ter-ack”) which is a system of vowel and consonant sounds that was used to pass down bagpipe music before the days of written music. Honestly, it’s still how I learn most bagpipe music personally. I can read music just fine but it’s just easier for me to sing it to myself and learn that way.

This last one is a reel called “Itchy Fingers” which is surprisingly easy to play. Here they did something interesting though – they added lyrics to it and turned it into a sea shanty of sorts. Very entertaining. I know they say “hornpipe is a dance for you and me” but it is in fact a reel.

Anyway, hope someone found this as entertaining as I did. Have a great day!

Doing Something Nice for Yourself

First things first, you’ll be pleased to know my new tattoo has healed up beautifully as they always do when you use Saniderm/Tegaderm to heal a tattoo. I’ll of course post a healed pic on the “My Tattoos” page once I get ample lighting to take a good picture (not for a couple of days – cloudy, dreary and a chance of snow here for the next two days; yes it even snows in Texas!).

Anyway, aside from that highlight my life has been struck by a bunch of lowlights recently. Job stress, family stress, a health scare, a 30 day Facebook jail sentence, a pet’s death, learning of two close friends moving away, deailng with a punk-ass troll, you name it. When it rains it pours, I guess.

As such, I think I deserve something nice for weathering the recent storm. Just what I didn’t know, until I was browsing FB (yes, I can still browse but I can’t post or send messages) and I saw something I’ve been eyeing for awhile pop up and I’m like “I just got my tax refund, now’s the time!”

As an intermittent hobbyist piper, one thing that has always worried me with our climate in Texas is cracking and warping. Unfortunately, with it being able to go from blistering hot to freezing cold in a matter of minutes around here, this puts an undue stress on the instrument. It isn’t much issue when you’re playing in a climate controlled area, but anytime you play somewhere that it’s very hot, very cold, very wet or very dry you’re going to have problems, and lo and behold I have multiple pieces in my instrument with hairline cracks (all the “stocks” – the bits that actually tie into the bag). It’s inevitable in our climate.

A solution to this is to look at alternative materials, of course – the most popular being a thermoplastic called polyoxymethylene (most commonly sold under the trade names “Delrin” or “Polypenco”). This has been used in the construction of woodwinds for a long time and have been great for that and it makes a very good chanter, but drones are a different story – drones made of Delrin have historically had a very unrefined, loud and brashy tone. Nonetheless I’d always wanted such a set as one I could take anywhere in any climate and not have to worry about it.

Well US bagpipe maker Roddy MacLellan introduced an all-new design a couple of years ago he calls his “Revelation” bagpipe that elevates the Delrin instrument to a new level – it gives you the resiliency of Delrin but the sound of wood by lining the bores with a cellulose polymer material. This design features some other innovative solutions for moisture control, including silica gel cartridges in the drone stocks to keep your drone reeds dry and maintain tuning stability. Roddy talks about his new design a bit here:

Ever since this design was introduced I have absolutely been drooling over it – it’s so unique they actually applied for a patent on it. I already own and play a 2008 MacLellan bagpipe in African Blackwood and it is hands down the best bagpipe I have ever played. Alas, it does still have the issues that wooden bagpipes are prone to, granted it’s held up really well despite the abuse I’ve put it through. I could never part with this beautiful instrument. To have a twin in Delrin will complete my stable in every way. Of course, as with any of his bagpipes, you can choose any of his drone profiles and doll them up however you wish, as I have.

Now obviously I won’t be retiring my ABW set. I could never do that. Alas, I will probably just pop the stocks from the Revelation in and use those with both sets of drones on account of the hairline cracks in them and the moisture control built into the Revelation stocks. For practices and performances in climate controlled environments where the wooden pipe would be “comfortable” it will still be my go-to instrument, but anytime I have to be outdoors in the elements for any length of time or any time I have to travel the Revelation will be my instrument of choice as I have no desire to go through the permitting process for my now CITES listed ABW bagpipe – if caught with them without the proper paperwork they would be subject to confiscation! Of course, I have the same two chanters and blowpipe I’ll use with both sets of drones so that doesn’t change one way or another.

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten myself a gift so I figured it was about time. It’ll be approximately 4-6 months before it arrives but that’s OK. Quality can’t be rushed. When they do arrive I hope to finally be over a little health problem that has prevented me from playing at all recently and I’ll be ready to assemble and give them a test drive.

Until then, the anticipation begins!


PS: It looks like maybe the immediate threat of the troll has passed so I’m re-opening comments. Let’s hope I can keep them open.