This week is one of the most unpleasant weeks of the year for me. It's the week when it becomes officially unacceptable to remain on vacation for the winter holidays. I'm also getting over an illness (more later), so I'm trying to toil through that, too. But I'm all right. Perfect, in fact.
I am fortunate enough to be able to loaf around for about two weeks at the conclusion of each calendar year. I guess that's not ordinary; I've been hearing terrifying stories of people reporting for duty at their respective offices and work sites on January 2nd. I mean, damn, man. I don't know how regular folks do it.
This unpleasantness is really not unpleasantness. It's just another opportunity for me to realize that I am alive and have been gifted with an incarnation that affords me the rare pleasure of unpleasantness. There's a lot of matter in the universe. All of it, in fact. I have the privilege of existing as an amalgamation of matter that is capable of awareness, which sometimes becomes aware of unpleasantness. Most matter can't do that. Not even close. So I am a wizard, basically. And so are you.
So yeah. This may be a week characterized by the unpleasantness associated with reentry, but it's also a week during which to use the unpleasantness to wake up. So that's what I'm attempting to do here.
Friends, today I present entry number six in my "popular" Odds and Ends blog series! This one is all about the stuff in the transitions. From one year to the next. From life to death. From like to dislike. I'm sure you can think of more examples.
I think I'll just get into it. Let's go!
Being Sick and Sleeping In
I don't know if I agree fully with this sentiment expressed by Arcade Fire in their song "Rebellion (Lies)," but it's what I thought of as I was typing out the heading. They also have a song called "Wake Up," which, you may have noticed, is the two-word term that forms the subtitle of this very blog post. Arcade Fire is a great band! I love those guys.
Man, being sick sucks. But it's not bad if there's time and space to deal and heal. So lately I've been drinking lots of NyQuil and enjoying a relationship with sleep that is more like what cats are accustomed to. In other words, I've been doing lots of it. And it feels great!
I am not a morning person. Never have been. I like to stay up late and screw around while other folks delight in their visions of sugarplum fairies or whatever. Recently, I've been sleeping until, like, noon with regularity. It's fun and indulgent! And when I sleep in after taking NyQuil the night before, well, that's delightfully Lazarus-esque!
But I can't keep doing that shit. I need to be a grown-up and start getting up at a more reasonable hour. Like 10:00. I think I can do it. So I'm going to stop giving in and I'm going to lift those heavy eyelids. I'm beginning to feel better and I'm all out of NyQuil anyway.
Annie and I hosted our first-annual holiday party here at our little house in Albuquerque on Saturday, December 14th. It took weeks to plan. It costs us HUNDREDS. Logistical nightmares needed solving. Food had to be prepared. Cleaning, too. Much cleaning. So much cleaning.
I'm happy to say the party was a success! Smashing, even!
It's important for us to start some new holiday traditions. We are the grown-ups now, as it turns out. So we're going to try to do this every year and have it be the Christmas thing. The exciting thing is that in 2020 the Matt & Annie Holiday Extravaganza will have a new home. So will we. I'll keep you informed.
Facebook Just Isn't Working for Me Anymore
I don't know about you, but being on Facebook is a vile experience for me much of the time. I just don't like the way I feel when I spend time there. A lot of it has to do with the site's owner and his apparent need to be on the wrong side of just about everything while becoming best friends with the world's worst people. I just hate that that fucking guy has to be the mediator of so many of my personal and professional relationships. Fuck that. Also, I am sick of creating content for free to fuel that awful website's continued existence.
Lately, Facebook has felt like the breakroom at a job that pays shit and I can't stand going to anyway because management sucks and half of my coworkers are actual fucking white supremacists but it's the only place where I get to see my cousin, who also hates their job and spends all their time in the breakroom complaining about it. Fun!
There's also this: Some person with despicable ideas about things posted a picture depicting wooden paddles inscribed with the words, "Make kids great again!" They posted some other garbage thoughts below the picture, as well. A friend of mine reposted the image for the purposes of satirizing it and calling out the wrongness of the sentiment contained within.
Well, someone actually reported my friend for reposting the thing that the original poster should have gotten in trouble for! The original post remained!
My friend got kicked off the platform for "Violating Community Guidelines." What the fuck? There was no explanation. Just immediate, decisive revocation of access to the platform. I can't abide that kind of shit. Thankfully, my friend knows people and was able to go through back channels to regain access to his account, which he probably depends on too much for connecting with his vast network. If he didn't know somebody who knows somebody, he'd still be off the platform, probably wondering what happened with no explanation ever offered.
At the time of this writing, people who think it's cool to hit little kids are free to do whatever the fuck they want without consequence on Facebook, I guess. Good times, good times.
I'm done. Mostly. I'm mostly done.
For now, I'm going to continue to use Facebook to promote my music through my Page, and I'm only going to be doing that through a third-party application. I'm done logging in to scroll and click and Like and all that. The reason I will continue to post there is to get people off the platform and onto platforms that I own. Like my website. Which you are reading right now. And I thank you.
Obviously, there are consequences to being off Facebook. I won't be as well-informed about the goings-on within my extended family and far-flung friends, for example. At the same time, I won't be as well-informed about whatever dumb outrage-clickbait thing is going around that day. And I'll miss out on a lot of puns and dad jokes, I guess.
The truth is that I know how to reach you and find out about what's going on in your life if you are important to me. I want real, meaningful relationships in my life. Facebook offers the illusion of those relationships. So I'm going to do my best to reach out and nurture those relationships. It will be better than Facebook.
For those who will miss my presence on Facebook – why? All I posted there was links to my blog and shows and stuff anyway. I have a website. Come here if you want to know what's going on with me. And I won't advertise stupid shit to you or aid in the election of a Russian asset to our country's highest office.
I'm going to continue posting to Instagram and Twitter. I know. I'm a big hypocrite. Call me out. Let me know all about how Twitter is also a dumpster fire and how Instagram is also owned by Facebook. Yeah, I know. As I said, Facebook just isn't working for me anymore. The other ones are. For now. Eventually, I'll probably just give up capitalism altogether, but it's the system that's been inflicted upon us so I'm going to trudge through until we change that shit around.
This attitude I have in my writing right now, this frustration and anger, is what I don't want in my life. So there's another reason why I'm not going to be a Facebook person (so much).
I Got A Patreon
Okay. Enough about shitty internet platforms!
There's a cool, totally not shitty platform I'm using a lot lately – and will continue to use moving forward. It's called Patreon. Have you heard of it?
Basically, it exists so artists and creators (like me) can earn monetary support from patrons (like you).
In the past, that's just how it worked: Creators created works that were deemed valuable. Patrons recognized the value of those works and contributed financially to creators' endeavors. Michaelangelo didn't have some shitty day job. He had patrons who valued his work and contributed money so that he could do what he was best at. The patrons got to experience sublime artistic creation. Everybody won!
So that's basically what's going on over on Patreon with me. Except I'm not Michaelangelo; I'm a humble man with a collection of ditties. Those ditties have value, though! I'm simply asking for recognition of that value in the form of money. Just like how Coca-Cola asks for recognition of the value of its soft drinks in the form of money. It's not that weird. Unless you think what I do has no value. If that's the case, why are you here?
Anyway, If you are a podcast listener or you hang out watching stuff on YouTube produced by independent creators, you have probably heard people talk about this platform and encourage you to support them through it. It's very popular. So that's why I'm getting on the Patreon train.
If you are interested in becoming one of my patrons, you can do so for as little as one dollar a month. Or you can contribute as much as you want. It works on a subscription basis. So you contribute the funds once a month. in return, I supply you with exclusive content, such as:
- Videos with behind-the-scenes views of what I'm up to in my creative endeavors
- Live streams of my in-house concerts and other performances, just for patrons
- Deeper looks into my songs, their construction and their meanings
- Early access to blog posts, music and podcast content
- Outtakes and alternate versions of songs and podcast content
- Fun cover song performances
Additionally, patrons who sign up for the special "Album-Funder" tier of support get a lot of cool stuff, including a signed copy of the album I will release later this year (more on that below).
Essentially, I have a public face for what I'm doing. You're looking at it right now. Patreon is for the not-public (if not quite private) face of what I'm doing. It's me on the couch with sweatpants. It's fucking up the lyrics and starting over. It's trying to figure out a new cover song. It's sharing my challenges and why they are so challenging. It's the process. And I think you'll really dig what I'm doing over there.
Just for fun, here's my Patreon welcome video. Enjoy!
I Am Recording an Album
Finally! I wasn't sure how to go about it, but it's really happening now. I figured out what I'm going to do and how I'm going to do it.
I have everything I need right here in my home to make the album I want to make. I also have all the songs. I have enough songs for about four albums, actually. What I lack are additional excuses to not record. So I'm going to record my solo debut album.
I've selected 20 songs to record. I'll include the finest collection of 12 or so on the finished album, which I hope to release by the end of August. Then I'll release the others as singles.
I'm also planning to record an album or EP with my friends from the band Meri Dean. They've been rehearsing as my backing band for a while now, and the tunes are sounding really good! That project will likely not come to fruition until later in the fall of 2020.
That's not all! I also plan to get my songs down and documented in the format in which I've been performing them for the last while: Just me and my guitar. Live. One take. That's very simple, but also very difficult. For some reason, it's important for me to make that happen. I guess I'm proud of my craft and I want people who don't hang out at local breweries (or my house) to be able to experience it in its purest form.
I've come a long way as a musician without any recordings of my songs. Wow! Amazing! I'm grateful. It's time to put the product out, though. I hope you like it. Actually, I know you'll like it. So I'll keep telling you about it.
An Update on The Matt Kollock Show Podcast
This blog post is being published on January 7th, 2020. That's also the day I had hoped to launch my podcast, The Matt Kollock Show. Don't go looking for it; it doesn't exist!
I am still working on putting the first few episodes together. Interviews are happening. Music is being recorded. All that kind of stuff. The new launch date is Monday, February 3rd, 2020. That's subject to change, but you will be the first to learn about said change.
Later this week, I'll be interviewing the great Melissa Rios, who is probably my favorite Albuquerque-based singer/songwriter. I will let you know when her episode (and all the others) become available. Stay tuned!
Ram Dass Exited His Body
As you may know, I consider myself a psychedelically spiritual person. Or a spiritually psychedelic person. A mystical man. I believe in God. I believe in the Big Bang. They are, in fact, one and the same. There is no effort involved in reconciling the two. There they are. Together.
Actually, the Big Bang isn't something that happened; it's something that continues to happen. And we are right there in the midst of it. We are all made of the same stuff that was there at the very beginning when the universe was just an impossibly dense something in the midst of infinite nothing.
This conception of the universe is one that allows me to experience awe and wonder on an almost daily basis. It breathes life into my work. It makes doing boring stuff okay. It makes suffering useful. Life is better now that I have my psychedelic spirituality. And I have Ram Dass to thank.
Ram Dass, who began his life as Richard Alpert, "died" on December 22nd, 2019. His body was 88 years old.
Ram Dass was just a man. He was not a guru. He was not a saint. He was a teacher. I should say that he is a teacher. Because he is still here. Just like my brother. Just like my dad. He was not afraid of death. He said there was nothing safer than death. I stole that for one of my songs. He also said that death is like removing a tight shoe, well worn. That's a good one, isn't it?
Through the teachings of Ram Dass and the teachings of psilocybin mushrooms (which also paved the path to Ram Dass's spirituality), I have also become unafraid of death.
I used to be sick of living, but terrified of dying. Now I am overjoyed at living and unafraid of death.
I am not my body. You are not yours. We are the forces that gave rise to our bodies. We were there when the Big Bang began. We will be there when it contracts into its former form. As Ram Dass said, "we are all just walking each other home." Which is another line I stole for one of my songs. Thank you, Ram Dass.
By the way, there's a wonderful 30-minute documentary about Ram Dass in his twilight. It's called Ram Dass: Going Home and it's available on Netflix. Then if you want to go deeper, YouTube is teeming with Ram Dass lectures and all sorts of good stuff. Just don't start with the book Be Here Now, especially if you are at all averse to hippie-type stuff. Yeah, you should read it. Just don't make it the first Ram Dass thing you expose yourself to.
A Rededication to Meditation
Now that RD has moved on, it's a good time to renew my spirituality and remember the path.
When I started meditating, I would sit twice a day for 20 minutes. Time passed and I became skilled at locating excuses for not meditating. That's what happens. By the end of 2019, I had been meditating daily, but those meditations were brief and not very meaningful. I was just checking the box.
I'm back to sitting twice a day and it's amazing! I had forgotten what it was like to notice the chatter and realize that the chatter is not me. I'm not as distracted or stressed out. I was convinced that I didn't have the time for meditation. In reality, I had all the time; I was just using it doing all the things meditation makes me realize I don't need to do.
I'm going to try to keep this practice up. I feel like it's going to be crucial in 2020. If you're interested in following along, I invite you to find me and become my friend on the Insight Timer app.
I've been taking them. And they have been great!
It is important for me to change my routine from time to time. Because man, I can really get myself into a routine.
Normally I go out for a two-mile walk once every day. I also run pretty regularly. Lately, though, I haven't been doing much of anything, and my body hasn't felt well-equipped to run in its current holiday-treat-laden configuration. So I decided to take some long-ass walks.
The first one happened when I realized that I could walk to the closest medical cannabis dispensary, which is about three miles from my house. So Annie and I wandered across the river and up through the Bosque to Albuquerque's legendary South Valley neighborhood where I saw a budtender while Annie wandered El Super, the magical Mexican grocery store. Then we took the bus back most of the way. It was cold.
On a couple of other occasions, I made the full round trip. Twice across the river. Up and down on either side. And my god, it's been terrific for shifting my perspective and getting me out of my usual shit. It's like a whole other world over there on the west side! So I've been getting lots of steps out there. going out for 6+ miles. I think I'm going to keep it up.
Persisting at Continuing to Fear the Deer
My fingers are getting tired of typing. So I should wrap it up soon. But I would feel shitty if I didn't mention the awesome season the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves in the midst of. Historic, really. They are dominating the NBA, even more so than they did last year when they won 60 games. Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an even more outstanding season than his MVP campaign of 2018-2019. The bench is deep. They have two sets of brothers, one of which is a set of twins. Coach Mike Budenholzer is making good adjustments. Eric Bledsoe is playing with great confidence.
Friends, it's just a great time to be a Milwaukee Bucks fan!
Keep It Right Here, Friends
It's that time. You made it all the way to the end. And that's it. I have nothing more to say.
That being said, I hope you come back frequently in 2020! I'm publishing three blog posts each week, so there will be no shortage of Matt Kollock content to consume this year.
Also, I would like you to let me know what you think. I really crave your feedback! Or any comments or interactions at all, really. I mean, yeah, there are exceptions, but I feel like most of you are super cool. So yeah. What do you think?
Let me know.