Excerpt from my iPhone.
As the adrenalin ebbs for a moment, I am writing this on my phone as I sit outside and try to gather my sanity. This is the first time in a week that I’ve actually had a chance to take a real honest to goodness, not sit at my desk monitoring the phones or the computer, lunch break.
This is the nature of fire season. (My seasonal job is working for “the man” aka B.C. Wildfire Service)
We bow to Mother Nature’s decision to erupt in lightning, flames, or whether to just simmer and smolder for a few weeks before the wind catches it and makes it visible, and these are just the fires caused by lightning…
I just saw one of the firefighters, Nick. He and his crew had been on a fire for the last two days and all I could see of his face were his piercing blue eyes. He was covered in soot and it was clear he was exhausted. But he flashed me a brilliant white smile as he walked by. Exhausted, but ready to go do it all over again in a second.
We all felt it this morning. But it’s what we do. We love it. It’s an odd addiction…passion. The adrenalin of that call telling us the lightning on the dispatch map hit and meant business. Again, and again, and again. Or another call that someone abandoned another campfire and it decided it needed its own stage.
I have utmost respect for our firefighters out there on the ground, but also the support staff in the aircraft, or the trucks, assessing these fires, or the support staff in the office, fielding the calls, hiring resources such as heavy equipment, taking crews food, or water, or extra hose or pumps or sending more crews, and watching the weather and waiting….
We stay by the phones and radios waiting for field staff to let us know of their progress. We track the weather, and plan for more resources or where we’re going to send crews next. We try to find them places to stay or food to eat, or get them supplies when they’re in the middle of nowhere, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Once the fire is “out” we track statistics, costs, payment; the aftermath, depending on the size or the complexity of the fire. Some days I’m so tired, I wonder how I made it through the day and accomplished what I did. I do some duties so automatically by rote; do it and forget it because it clutters up the info that is coming in so fast…or maybe it’s to store it in the back of my mind to access later… to update the info as it comes in so we know exactly who is where and what they’re doing on each incident.
I get home at the end of the day in the dark, the laundry piles up and my dog looks at me forlornly and my guitar gets dusty and my calluses go away or I get mental cause I haven’t had a spare second to sit and write.
I have signed up for this for the last ten seasons.
I lend my ever increasing skills and knowledge to support my operations guys. I am often called a guru or an expert because of that knowledge and I always, always, laugh at that because even after all these years of experience I feel like I have so much to learn.
Sometimes being a broke and misunderstood musician is much easier…
(CONTINUED A FEW DAYS LATER)
Working long hours, I lose my balance. I’m someone who puts 110% into whatever I’m doing. And other things fall off the table. It makes me sad. It makes me anxious.
When I don’t have time to write or sing or play, I get all weird and overwhelmed and it’s difficult to breathe.
My seasonal job can be demanding. People want things from you now. Multitasking. Juggling. With the threat of fire, there is no waiting. Shit needs to get done. Now. And sometimes it needs to get done late into the night when you’ve already been there since 7:30 am to meet your reporting deadlines. And you have a headache cause you barely had time to eat lunch or pee.
It’s an unusual job. I guess that’s why I like it. I never know what to expect from day to day. Maybe that’s the commitment-phobe in me. My term runs from March til end of September, and even that makes me twitch slightly when I’m trying to write a new album and find a new producer and film videos and just try to keep the wheels from falling off. I over extend, and I over criticize myself because I over extend.
I’m human. Sometimes that fact pisses me off. I can’t do it all. At once. Or perfect. But at least the day job I go to; I can get shit done. I can contribute. I can be appreciated.
Not that my music isn’t appreciated. Well…honestly? I feel insignificant and underappreciated as people ignore my videos and share videos of stupid people doing even stupider things. I mean who the f*ck cares? And yes, that does sound arrogant. So what.
Shouldn’t what I do mean something? I write. I bleed my heart and soul into my songs…hell yeah, overworked and underappreciated. Yes I can hear the people with both children and jobs freaking out…you have no idea…you have no kids, blah blah blah.
This is a rant. My blog. Don’t judge.
At least when I work for “the man” I am well compensated for what I do. I’m still ashamed to admit that I have a day job…that my music alone doesn’t allow me to support myself. Major Fail.
I had big dreams. (I hate that term dreams. TO ME, DREAMS ARE NOT GOALS. DREAMS ARE WHAT HAPPEN WHEN YOU SLEEP. GOALS ARE THINGS YOU WORK TOWARD AND ASPIRE TO. Most people refer to big out of the box aspirations as dreams. Or they purposely call them dreams cause they think they’re unreachable or that’s their excuse for not reaching them? That’s another blog.)
I didn’t sign up for this when I decided to be a musician. But shit happens. The music business changed. Touring changed. Maybe I changed? I don’t know.
This is a rant. A ramble. A release of energy as I have a few days off before it heats up again and fire season continues. Over the years I have grudgingly earned skill sets like stripes. I never wanted a back-up plan. I never thought I needed it. And this year it’s even more apparent that the big dreams I had haven’t come true, despite the work and sacrifice I’ve put in. It’s eye opening. Sometimes deflating.
It’s horrible to admit one’s failures. But is it failure if you keep persevering? Is it failure if you still put pen to paper and still write for a new album after three failures by industry standards and at the end of a thirteen hour shift of your day job, you still do at least some kind of promotion and marketing? Even though the calluses on my fingers have gotten soft because at the end of the day I am too drained to even open my guitar case? Is it failure if I can’t find the time to get out on my bike more than one time a week? Is it failure that even with the huge amount of pressure (because I have to put in that 110%, you know) I put myself under with deadlines and urgency, and making sure my cog turns the wheel to help support those around me in whatever way I can, often being scared shitless every single day that I am not doing enough or not doing a good job or…
Is it failure to still get out of bed every day when the abuse I’m putting on my mental and spiritual mind is slowly taking its toll? Is it failure when I catch myself and go wooooah. Not cool. You need to scrape together a half hour to sing or write…DO SOMETHING to move the music side forward. Is it failure to have to have a real job, much less a government job that pays me well enough to support who I really am in my music compulsion?
Is it failure that I am becoming stronger every day by doing what I don’t want, to solidify what I do want? Is it failure to want more? To not want to be here at this place in my evolution? To stifle my real self? At the office it seeps through, I’m the one with the Metallica t-shirt and the Kiss calendar. The one who is always singing whether I realize it or not. I am the one with the skull socks and the crystals and the black painted fingernails and the odd, slightly questionable perspective, beneath my frustration of having to play within the box and follow policies and procedures and RULES.
I know who I am. I know what I’m doing. I know why I’m doing it. I’m doing this to bring my music to the world on a big scale and not be stuck in a “dream”. Is that failure?
I am slowly starting to realize…hell no… it’s a detour.