So recently my workplace was broken into and Nate Drew’s and my stuff got stolen. The video and link above go into details, so I won’t bother to here. What I feel I need to do, even if it’s just for the sake of my own soul, is to confess how I feel about both it and the larger picture in which it is a relevant part. (Warning: stream-of-consciousness rambling may occur. Consult physician before reading.)
I hate asking for charity. I absolutely hate it. Almost as much as I hate one-on-one interaction with strangers outside of a professional or task-oriented setting. It just causes so much stress on my psyche that it viscerally sets up my “fight or flight” response. Which is why, when Nate set up a Paypal thing, I was very nearly against it. I have a strong need to be independent; to pull myself up by my own boot-straps. This is mainly because I am so bad at it. To wit: regarding the things I had stolen, only the external hard drive was purchased by me. The computer was purchased by my parents as a graduation/five-month-early Christmas gift. The synthesizer was my dad’s, which I claimed after he died. The MOTU box was Nate’s. All the software was Nate’s. Heck, even the headphones I was using belonged to Sheldyn. Almost none of it was truly mine.
In addition, I’ve been irresponsible. Not just because I’ve been living with my parents (again) since I graduated. I was in college for ten years (off-and-on) for a few reasons. College provided me with a steady job (working at BYU vending). College let me live on my own, thanks to cheap student housing prices (yes, they were overpriced relative to the amount of space and privacy that you were allowed, but absolutely speaking I paid less than $300 per month, which was reduced to barely $100 during spring/summer). Also, I was basically promised that I would find my spouse during my educational years. So in order for that to come true I tried to stay in the system for as long as possible. Were the classes I failed due to me wanting to stay in college longer? No. Or at least not consciously. But whatever the reason, I was basically in a university environment, trying to do well socially, until I was old enough to be that creepy guy in the student ward, at which point I knew it was time to leave. (Side note: didn’t find a spouse.)
But now I’ve graduated. I’ve moved on. Is my life better now that I’ve left Provo, that place where I apparently was being pressured into marriage so much that I didn’t get married? (That’s right, I used my own declaration-of-self essay in an ironic way. That’s how cynical I’ve become.) I’m writing music for a living! Hasn’t that always been my dream?
Here’s what’s gone wrong on that front (and I’m not talking about the robbery). I’m not writing music for a living. At all. I’m writing music, and maybe I’ve earned, what, $500 since August? That’s not a living, not in a first-world country, anyway. That’s not even gas money (a drive from Riverton to Salt Lake and back five days a week). And the whole way along I’ve been told, “Don’t worry. Our projects will take off next month. Soon you’ll get a real paycheck.” And then I tell my parents, “Don’t worry. Soon I’ll be able to afford to move out of your basement,” or my rat-hole where I live like a troll, according to my stepfather, “and then I’ll be a real adult, instead of whatever ‘quarter-life’, Peter Pan syndrome, half-adult in arrested development I seem to be now,” (not a literal quote I’ve told my parents). And my parents (and probably other people too) wonder, “Why don’t you get a real job? Surely you can at least live with some roommates as a single guy working at the local Target or whatever. Or maybe even an office job, what with the bachelor’s degree under your belt.”
But I can’t. I can’t do it. Because doing it will mean that I give up everything I’ve worked for so far. All of the years in school, pursuing a degree in the lowest-paying field in which they offer degrees at BYU. Knowing that a person needs a great deal of interpersonal skills and charisma to even have a chance to succeed in the business, and also knowing that I’m the opposite of a self-promoter. Yes, I’ve posted a lot of music on this blog, but that’s mostly because I want people to share the experience I have listening to this stuff, not because I want to be all, “Look at me! I write awesome stuff!” And even those types of posts have tapered off (the previous post to this one notwithstanding), mostly because I realized that my approach to music is radically different from a lot of people’s (which also leads to stuff like this post when I get frustrated that nobody hears it the way I do, and I’m not talking about the perfect pitch angle, either), and I doubt I’ll find anybody who feels the same way as I do about the type of music I listen to.
In any case, due to whatever traumatic childhood reason I feel like pulling up (there are many), I don’t interact well with strangers. In the cases where I must (such as, oh I dunno, my entire frickin’ mission), it scares the hell out of me. More than anything else I can think of right now. Why? Because I have only a limited understanding of proper social conduct. When I talk, I talk. I’m often rude without knowing it. I’m often condescending without meaning to be. I’m fairly cynical. Often I don’t even make sense to myself. This blog post probably won’t make much sense, when all is said and done. I’m usually so nervous about putting across a bad first impression that I end up either saying the first thing that comes into my head (which more often than not is not something normal) or just existing in an awkward silence. And I think all the time I spend alone only serves to exacerbate that problem; since, when I’m alone, I can say whatever I want about whatever and nobody’s around to be offended or confused. And I do spend quite a bit of time alone: when I’m at home I’m in my “rat-hole” to avoid the condescension of my stepfather, and when I’m at work I usually have headphones on. Even when I’m out doing Poison Ivy Mysteries stuff I’m usually trying to keep busy solving problems. And it’s easier to be social there, because I have Annelise (and often her family) as a crutch.
On occasion I do try to break out of the box, reach out to people, overcome my fears and weaknesses in order to strengthen other people (and maybe get a date?). But then I’m confronted with a fact that I’ve had demonstrated to me over and over again, both from personal experience and from observation: people are selfish creatures, in so many ways. And if you don’t know the right way to deal with people, they’re more often than not unwilling to cut you any slack. My most recent attempt was with a girl who I shall not name on this blog. I tried extremely hard to be her friend. She’s had a stressful life, and I thought she could use someone who understood a lot of her situation, and how she may feel socially. Yet I had to do all the work in maintaining the friendship. I called her, but never got a call. Everything we ever did together I had to arrange. It was this damn song all over again, only I wasn’t even trying to date her (though at first I wouldn’t have been opposed to the idea). Eventually I realized that, while she was always complaining about how much her life sucked and how much she wanted friends, it wasn’t my friendship that she wanted. I don’t know whether it was something personal or whether she would rather wallow in a despair-filled yet familiar situation rather than risk something potentially life-changing. In either case, the outcome was the same, and when I stopped putting forth an effort she didn’t even bat an eye.
Anyway, that was a digression. Back on topic, I’m not a self-promoter, and I don’t do well one-on-one with people I don’t know, or just know casually. And both of these skills are necessary to land a job in the composition profession and get projects from clients. Which is why my job with Nate is one I am loath to give up. Most of what I do comes from either Nate himself and the clients he channels, or from Annelise and the murder mystery company. I don’t have to get out there and hobnob with the clients, separating myself from the crowd. It’s not me that’s important, it’s my music, and I prefer to let it speak for itself, instead of relying on my questionable social graces to land projects. So if I give up working with Nate, I give up working in the field. Even the ABC Monster album I was doing for reasons other than making money with it, as neither I nor anyone associated with the project so far has any sort of experience or know-how when it comes to marketing an album. (For the record, I’ve been doing the ABC Monster album for two main reasons: 1. to gain experience writing several different types of songs and have something to put in my portfolio, and 2. to show faith in Johnathan’s artistic abilities in a more substantial way than compliments can, much like Annelise and Nate have done regarding my musical abilities. Anyone can say, “hey, your work’s pretty good” with varying degrees of sincerity, but if somebody actively solicits your talents then you know they’re not just humoring you. He draws some good stuff, and it’s about time the world recognizes it.)
Thus the dilemma that has been presented. I can either 1)stay with Nate and earn maybe $1000 a year if past paychecks are any indication, especially with the robbery setting us back quite a bit, 2)start pursuing my own projects in the musical field, which for me and my charisma and self-esteem, seems about as possible as Josh Reese getting married: sure, it’s possible, but in all practicality it has a very low chance of occurring. Or 3)give up on music altogether and work at some office job or something.
Practicality dictates that I should take option #3. Common sense dictates that I should take option #3. My parents would love to see me take option #3. If I was serious about providing for a family, or even going on dates more expensive than “watching a movie on my mom’s TV,” I would take option #3. But, against all reason, against all common sense, against all rational judgment, I’m taking option #1. I have been since August. And I can’t logically explain why, other than that it’s something I have to do. (And yes, I know I already provided that link earlier, but I’m putting it in this post twice, for it’s really the best explanation I have.)
And now this finally brings us back to the robbery. Nate set up a Paypal donate link to help us recover the stolen equipment, but I’ve had a real problem sharing it with people. Aside from just the general human instinct to act self-sufficient, I can’t ask people to support me in this illogical and irresponsible career decision I’ve made, even if at the same time I’m not going to change it anytime soon. It’s the sort of doublethink world in which I apparently live. Why should I ask other people to donate their hard-earned money, which they should otherwise be spending on their own families or at least on people who have real hardships, toward the purchase of a computer and related gear so that I can go into work and write music instead of getting a job where I can afford to buy, well, anything at all? Does the world need me to write silly songs about monsters or background music for a show about extreme vacations more than it needs me to settle down and actually start raising kids? By asking for donations, I’m implicitly saying that yes, it does. And I can’t, in good conscience, allow people to donate money so that I can avoid responsibility and playact at having a real job.
So if you have read all this and still want to donate money, then please do. Nate really needs to rebuild his equipment and business. But don’t do it for me.