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I am from nowhere, and therefore from anywhere. I realize that sounds melodramatic, but it’s a fairly accurate description of my daily head space. And I have the feeling that I’m not the only member of my generation (what’s euphemistically referred to as “generation X”) who feels this way. And yes, most people who feel this way are almost certainly white, male and middle-class. And yes, that affords people like me a mobility and sense of agency that is unfairly dispensed to too few of us. But I sometimes wonder if the accompanying sense of anonymity, of rootlessness makes this agency feel so…pointless.
My earliest memory of someone playing an instrument is my father playing sloppy stride piano at faculty parties. He sometimes played mandolin as well, but the piano was my magnet. I thought (and still think) that activating a music-making machine was one of the best magic tricks I had ever witnessed. And that, partnered with my parents voluminous record collection, was that. I couldn’t imagine a better way of spending my time than figuring out how the sounds coming from the piano connected to sounds coming from the stereo connected to sounds coming from my imagination. They all got put under the rubric of “music,” but that seemed like such a small word for such a large bag of phenomena. I never learned to play piano well, but I have listened to a lot of music and I spend most of every day still trying to make sense of (and communicate) these connections.
I did my whole education backwards: I learned music theory before I learned to hear, I learned what scales I was “supposed” to play before I learned to how to properly play an instrument, I learned the names of lots of songs before I learned how to sing them. And since I did everything backwards, I’ve been a slower study than most of my peers. When you spend a lot of time trying to work both ends of an idea towards a mid-point, that tends to happen. But for whatever reason, I didn’t quit (much as I tried).
Currently I live in Brooklyn, NY with my family. We take good care of each other. Every day when I wake up, I try to make some stuff. If it goes well, then I return to that stuff the next day and find it’s still worthy of continued effort. I try not to sit on the computer too much and I work hard to not think about phrases like, “my future career,” and “commercial viability” and “accessibility.” If I can’t keep my mind away from such things, I run to the kitchen to cook or to a book to read or to a movie to watch. So far it’s working out.