Raison D’ Être
Back when I decided to go back to school, there were only two things that could make me doubt if I should. One, I was afraid I would fuck up the course like I used to; and two, that the training would fuck me up.
You know the drill. Something interests you: Mathematics, language, art, astronomy, quantum physics,… but once you start to look things up and open yourself up to be educated, you are flooded with a torrent of information, your mind filled with a quantity and speed tailored to the limits of your poor little brain. That’s how education works: determine the capabilities of our learning, and then match it, until every student get so oversaturated with information that they cease to give a shit.
And the last thing that I wanted was not to give a shit. It’s easy for me to fall into that trap, because all my life I’ve never occupied myself with things I didn’t feel like doing. I pick up hobbies and ideas all the time, but forget about them at an equal rate. And since the day only has 24 hours, there’s not much left. My job was one thing I hadn’t grown tired of, and I didn’t want to lose that.
Now that all of that is behind me and my career is slowly coming off the ground, I am relieved to say that if anything, my passion for what I do has only grown. Not my old job per se, but the extent of it into the technical field that I am now part of. While before I worked with amateurs and stagehands, I had the opportunity lately to work alongside the best in the field, and learn from example.
What fascinates me so much about the technical side of the performance industry, is what all these buttons, knobs and cables can do for you. An audio or lighting system is surprisingly versatile, and even more so when the imagination of a skilled technician comes into play. I amuse myself using things for purposes other than their original design, or finding little ways to make things function my way. Simply swapping around cables and seeing if practice matches the theory in my head gives me a rush.
Slowly buying equipment like a digital sound drive and different cables, gives me the opportunity to put my personal ideas into what others might think of as rigid and difficult. Just the other day I completely changed the sound of a live gig at a local bar by turning my sound drive into a digital effects processor (something it was not made to do) and making it sound like the artist was singing in the fucking Alps.
Manipulating these systems to match my vision allows me to recreate those strong impressions music tends to give. It allows me to reshape a beautiful part of reality and when I’m finished, I found that this new form remarkably resembles a puzzle piece.
Because this is only where it begins. I work together with fashion designers, artists, musicians and managers and each have their specialty, some vision to share, and the skills to create. Working by myself is a rush already, but when I can meet minds with truly imaginative people, the sky is the fucking limit.
My newly acquired skills give me the chance to discover a whole new world, an endless opportunity to invent and reinvent systems that do my bidding- and if they don’t work, I can make them work. From the sound quality in a bar to conceptual brainstorming, it is invigorating to see what a new skillset, not even all that impressive, can add previously unseen touches of creativity, of humor, beauty, and things I have yet to experience. Because as awesome I might find myself, I’ve only just gotten the basics down and I think, with the passion and playfulness that I already put into my work, I know I’ll be able to put the things I will learn in the future, to good use.
I used to have this crew chief -one of the better, I might add- who quit his stagehand job to build a veterinary office for his wife. They bought a house and to save money, he didn’t want to hire contractors but instead renovate it by himself. He thought out a plan and figured he could make it work. It was going to take 6 months to a year before they could move into the upper floors, and use the ground floor as her office.
That was two years ago and when you walk into the place now, it would be easy to make the mistake of thinking he just managed to fuck the place up. Walls are stripped to the bricks, man-sized holes allow you to step outside, little walls stand half finished and one gas heater struggles to raise the inside temperature above unbearable levels.
But when you climb all the way to the top floor, you suddenly arrive in a room that is mostly finished. All it needs is a lick of paint and anyone could live there. It’s got a nice view, it is very well insulated and frankly, a pretty nice place. If you thought of the situation as desperate before, you might reconsider, and wonder if it just might be possible to ever finish everything and actually make it decent.
Still, the money is running out and they might have found ways to save some, things have to be finished by summer or the both of them will enter a world of shit. I took it upon me to help him out a little, working for change in an effort to speed things up a little. I still feel a pang of guilt when accepting the money, but he insists and who am I to refuse? A girl’s got to eat.
For me, it’s a hard day’s work. For him, it has been his life for the last two years. Frankly, I don’t know how he does it- Working tirelessly, day in day out, no matter how useless or impossible it might seem. Did I mention he has a hernia? He has a hernia.
There’s only one way to get things done: Envision the end, break the process up into smaller goals, and break those up again. One step at a time will get you anywhere. I know all this.
But what he does, just baffles me. When he tells me the trouble he has run into so far, it makes me want to sit down and have a little cry. And, he admits, he has. There were times when he wanted to quit and crawl into bed and let it be damned to hell, but he just doesn’t have that option anymore. It’s a construction yard right now, and nobody will buy that even for a fraction of the price he paid for it. He dug himself an enormous financial hole and the only way to get out of it, is to work, work and work some more.
And once he tells you what still needs to be done and how it will be, you might be tricked into believing he’ll get there. A company will put a window into that hole within the next two weeks, those bare walls just need a metal frame to carry the plates and can then be covered, finished and painted, and then he can start putting down the floor. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and though it might to too faint to see, walking will get you there. One step at a time.
I admire him for it. I think this has been, and will be a life changing process for him. It’s nice to be able to support him, doing what I do best: Working like a bitch. His wife actually happens to hate my crude ass but I still don’t mind doing this for her: It gives me a reason to get up in the morning and be more than who I would be, scratching my balls behind a computer. It gives me a purpose and the opportunity to be a better person. Might sound like a selfish reasoning, but be honest, who finds that more important than a good wage, these days?
The dust, debris and raw materials managed to destroy just about everything he uses. Power tools, vacuum cleaners, heating, it all dies sooner or later, smothered in dust or breaking from heavy use. He too has sprained muscles and cut himself- he is walking around with a bandage as we speak. This guy took an electric drill falling from a ladder, to the head and he’s still walking. Did I mention he has a hernia?
Just like those tools, the human body isn’t made for these conditions. But what he lacks in resilience, he compensates with willpower. The world has too few of his kind around; Half a dozen would be enough to carry the planet on their shoulders. It makes me confident that he’ll make it- He made it this far. And I’ll gladly support him until the end, working for free if I must. It seems such a small gesture, compared to the challenge he is rising up to…