Good Morning Ballard

The new morning routine (subtitled, “toast crumbs on granite”). Breakfast, coffee, sunrise. Even when its overcast and gray, the skies are pretty amazing. I needed this.

Coming back to Seattle from an incredibly uplifting trip home was a drag. Already a little bittersweet on the cab ride home, I walked in the door to find my water heater had given out, soaking half of my apartment. Seattle was in an intense cold snap. Work was at its most intense: budgeting, inventory, year end evaluation. Broke my lease that night, got my entire deposit back (that never happens!), and found something too good to be true just across the neighborhood. Volvo wagon + big calf muscles = a very successful move despite everything else going on. The new place is amazing (except for the neighbor that plays buttrock real loud at 3am, but I’ve already… encouraged… him to stop).

All of that was at the expense of enjoying the holiday season. I pretty much skipped Christmas this year, my favorite holiday by far. I’ve also yet to get out into the mountains like I wanted to this year. But I’ve been able to spend January collaborating with old friends on new music projects, and finishing up my own band’s forthcoming album. The quality of this album, combined with recently being recognized for all the effort at work and and great times with a few great new friends have all given me a sense of… well, vindication isn’t the right word, but it’ll do. Also took a trip out to the ocean for my birthday.

Much of the time since I moved here has been a blur. Being able to stave off feelings of… betrayal? (also not the right word, but it’ll do) by simply taking off alone and exploring such a brilliant, unknown landscape… the enjoyable anonymity that allows movement among neighborhood and scene without even really being noticed. I’ve always been a documentarian of sorts, and just sitting in the background, observing over the last 2 years has been fascinating. I do find it strange when people say, “Oh, it sounds like you’re having an amazing time out there!”. I mean, I guess that’s good that that’s what it seems like, but truth be told, I feel like I’ve only found my stride in the last few months – and even then, I’m still not sure how long this Seattle experiment will last.

Everyone did their New Years retrospective… but I’ve been looking more at the last decade. My head asplode. Ask me when I was 21 where I’d be 10 years later, and I’d have probably given you a predictable list of suburban prereq’s… married, kids, career, house, etc. There’s nothing wrong with any of that… but I’m glad it didn’t work out as such (despite a shit-ton of effort!) – at least not yet. Sure there was a lot of crap… a LOT of crap… but it was balanced out (or, often, answered) by spontaneous decisions, last-minute, large-scale changes of plans, and total shots-in-the-dark that all worked out in some fantastic ways: sharing the stage and studio with good friends and true legends of music history alike; buying a run down house in a fairly craptastic place and enjoying the hell out of it; seeing the US Space Program closer than even most workers get to see it; exploring remote parts of North America both solo and with dear friends; witnessing the outpouring of love, power, and community that happens when people come together to really make an effort for something they believe in.

Even the things that didn’t work out yielded near-sacred knowledge: The difference between caring and loving; the calculated risk versus the faltering hail-mary pass; the idea that self-sacrifice shouldn’t imply self-flagellation; understanding that the idea of compromise is itself a grey area; knowing that some promises, no matter how heartfelt, are often outweighed by prior obligation. Ultimately, just observing the vulnerability of the human experience… understanding that no one is infallible, that nothing is guaranteed… but its all still intensely beautiful (if frustrating).

Heck if Conan O’Brien didn’t put it as poignantly as its ever been put, as his dream job was yanked away from him on national television the other night : “Please do not be cynical, it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard, and you’re kind… amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. Amazing things will happen.”

A fresh new year off to a good start… a fresh new decade filled with nothing but the potential for amazing things.

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