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My teeth hurt.

Before I sleep this morning I'm going to have to call and schedule a dentist visit. I hate doing that. I know plenty of people who really dislike the dentist but my dislike is really specific. I've only been three times in my life.

When I was growing up I had no dental insurance because my father and mother have always been self employed. Having crooked, ugly teeth never really held me back from anything in my life so I just didn't let it get to me. Then, maybe seven months ago, I get tooth pain. I go to the dentist for the first time ever, find out I have a dozen cavities and begin the expensive process of going on a payment plan to fix them. As soon as I do, more dental pain crops up. I sometimes feel like working to preserve my teeth (the three brushings a day, flossing and mouth-washing) might be a losing battle. Let's hope not. I really don't relish the idea of my teeth rotting out of my head.

It is an old saying in music scenes, though, that you can tell how successful a musician is by the state of his or her teeth. If they are struggling, dental expenses are usually the first health-related ones to be shoved to the side as long as they don't directly effect the front teeth. I just don't want to be one to prove that saying right in the worst way, you know?

I did put up that Craigslist add for musicians. So far the only responses I've received are from two automated services telling me to buy things. Still, it's only been two days. I will wait at least a month before trying again.

On Saturday I went and visited a haunted penitentiary in West Virginia for the hell of it. It's located in Moundsville, named for the Native American burial mound that is fairly gigantic and awesome located right by the prison. I only felt ghosts in two places, the isolation cell in the prison's psych ward, and a maximum security cell that saw the brutal stabbing murder of some member of the Aryan Brotherhood. Both feelings were very strong and sudden with tangible drops in temperature that saw my breath steam before my face. I was pleased.
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Autumn has begun in my city.

I can feel the familiar chill in the air, the change in seasonal energy bringing Summer's blazing green to fade into Autumn's complexities of Reds and Oranges. People have spoken on the glory of this seasonal change and, indeed, the wonders of Autumn so often that I won't bore you with the details just yet. What I will describe a bit is how it is for a person who works third shift.

The days get shorter. For me, someone who sees more night-time than day-time, this is more obvious than I thought it would be. This is my first Autumn season working nights. It's already turned out to be stranger than I thought. Being as the nights are longer and I wake up at somewhere around four pm each day, I am seeing far less daylight than I otherwise would have. It's more jarring on me than I thought it would be. It also makes me remember that, come winter when it gets dark here around five in the afternoon, I might feel as though I am A BEING OF PERPETUAL DARKNESS.

Possibly I'll get depressed. I'm really not sure. I'm kind of anxious about that possibility. I've never tried such a thing before. It'd be damned unfortunate because I've never in my life suffered from the kind of winter depression so many of my friends get. I've always watched them and felt bad but secretly a bit lucky that I love the two colder months so much.

I'll freely admit that part of it came from the fact that I am short, stocky (for a time in my early teens overweight) and until recently the possessor of VERY long hair. It was like I'd grown my own hat. I viewed the seasonal change as a blessing because it meant I could wear more layers and feel more comfortable about myself. I always felt like it was a better time of year for me. In the warmer months I'd sweat a lot, being as I've always been too stubborn to not wear all black in the summer, and I'd mostly shun the outdoors.

Tonight I spent time with some of my musician friends. I gave my friend Quentin an old guitar I had owned but hadn't played in over six months. It was one of my earlier guitars, a mexican-made Fender Stratocaster for you guitar enthusiasts out there, and I have since moved on to guitars I like better. The thing of it is, I hate to see an instrument go unplayed. The things are built to be loved, played, beaten up, taken on tour, hauled to gigs and the like. d

The thing about Quentin that I respect in terms of his musicality is that he makes a lot of good stuff with honestly shit equipment. He's self-taught but not in the way I'm self taught. I taught myself more theory and technique than he did. It seems to me sometimes like he just taught himself to punch a guitar and music eventually came out that matched that which was playing in his head. He's no lead guitarist, rather a rhythm guy who writes hooks and sings (or belts if you like) out lyrics he also writes. He's a frontman and a damn good one.

My guitar was unsellable because it has some dings and scratches that nobody wants to pay for. I figured Quentin could use it. His normal guitar is pretty much a piece of driftwood on a good day and, when it's not working (which is often) he borrows his bassist's les paul. It is now the most high quality instrument he owns. It felt good to help him out. He'll give the guitar a good home. I'm sure of it.

I am often jealous of people like him because they never fell into a musical trap I did. When I began playing seriously a few years ago I got gear-happy. I spent way too much money on things I didn't need or only used once or twice. People like him never had the money to just throw around. They had to make due with what little they had and, normally, that makes you better and more creative. I still feel like an idiot for getting stuck for longer than I'm comfortable admitting worrying over having the right bit of gear before just rushing headlong into music. I am doing it now and I occasionally worry that it's me coming to the game a bit late.

I say this knowing that 24, my current age, is by no means "old" in the current musical climate. It's changed so much that people in their thirties, forties and even fifties are suddenly making careers out of it. Hell, some of Abney park's members are in their thirties and have been since I first discovered them in the debut issue of Steampunk Magazine some... six years ago now.

I probably worry too much at that sort of thing. It's easy to tell yourself to get off your ass and start seriously beating your head against the goal and another thing to drag yourself to doing it day-in, day-out. I sat in Quentin's living room talking with him and his band He's five years my senior and has been at this band stuff for maybe two or three years. I'm leaning more towards two but I'm not sure. I've been trying to get a band to stick together for about two years with no luck. It's all a matter of timing and finding the right people.

I've always viewed the creative process, with writing and music composition, as something akin to fighting. I picture that there's some ogre of a man, seven feet tall, muscular and veiny, mouth-breathing in some psychotic rage looking down at me. I have to kill him to get to what's behind him which is anything from 1,000 words of good fiction, two minutes of decent music or a lifetime of success and joy. Each time I manage this, he will regenerate. Sometimes he's bigger, sometimes he's smarter and knows what to tell me to deflate me, sometimes he's got weapons and sometimes he's just plain meaner than he was before.

I'll be fighting him my whole life, I think. He'll kill me one day. As long as I don't give up, though, he can't win.


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January 2013

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