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Signs of Life, or Aimless Rationalization

April 5, 2011

Last night, while transcribing an interview I conducted with Elf Power frontman Andrew Rieger, I came across a quote that made me laugh. He was talking about how, when he moved from Athens to Brooklyn in 1995, he quickly found that the lifestyle in New York wasn’t conducive to making music:

It was like a 45-minute commute each way from where we lived, and that just kind of drained me and wore me down.

At face value, this sounds silly, at least to me. When I worked in Philadelphia, I had a train ride of more than 60 minutes on either side of work, plus another 15 minutes or so commuting to and from the train station itself. In DC, I can usually get to work in about 40 or 45 minutes, and that’s considered pretty quick in comparison to most of my co-workers. But here’s the thing: Rieger is right. It is draining.

I can handle it, sure, and thousands of people have it way worse than I do with way less to show for it. But there’s no denying that coming home after a nine-hour work day and a 90 minutes of commuting leaves you without much energy to do anything but veg out. And so here I am, more than a half year removed from my stay in Athens, and I still have a ton of work to do.

Since moving to DC, I’ve done a handful of interviews here and there over the phone and done quite a bit of transcribing, but at this point, I’m probably only about 60-70% of the way through the interviews I’ve already conducted, and there’s still a whole bunch of people I’d still like to talk to (or in some cases, talk to again).

Not having a job at all is its own kind of stress to be sure, but having one in a major city that prevents you from pursuing your passion is very real kind of stress as well. Or maybe I’m just a pussy. But regardless, I’m not where I want to be right now, in terms of this project.

By no means is this me throwing in the towel. I’m just sort of venting here. I feel a bit stalled. I haven’t even updated this blog since October.

Luckily, this is the hard part. Transcribing is a bitch, and there’s no way around it short of getting an intern or something. It’s tedious and time-consuming and there aren’t any corners to be cut. I genuinely feel that, once I get this part finished, the actual composition part will be much easier, if only because it’s so much more rewarding.

* * *

When I moved to Athens in January 2010, the people I planned to interview—even those I had met already—were abstractions. After all, that’s why I moved there: to humanize them. I didn’t want to write a book about ideas; I wanted to write about real people. In that regard, I think I was successful. These people, to my mind, are three-dimensional; they have depth. They’re human. With a lot of them, I forged very real bonds, such that when I caught the Music Tapes as they passed through DC in January or went up to Philadelphia to see the Holiday Surprise tour in March, getting to see everyone again was a bigger thrill than watching them perform. I genuinely miss these folks.

In particular, the Holiday Surprise show I caught a few weeks ago (to which I forgot to bring a camera) made me feel like I owe them something. That doesn’t mean I need to lavish them with praise and gloss over the ugly parts, but for them to open up to me the way so many of them did and for me to not produce something would be a very bad thing indeed. And as a couple weeks passed and I just couldn’t get to any transcribing, I began to feel worse and worse, until this weekend, after taking two full days to knock out a 30-minute interview, I decided I needed to make a schedule for myself. It’s only been two days, but I’ve been sticking to it, and already I feel better.

Sadly, transcribing interviews isn’t the best blog fodder, but I’ll hopefully have more exciting news to report soon.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. carlton permalink
    April 5, 2011 9:41 PM

    nice to get an update after so long. i’m still really looking forward to this. you gotta just power forward, man.

  2. some sort of name permalink
    April 5, 2011 9:53 PM

    Glad to see you back!

  3. April 6, 2011 5:27 PM

    I appreciate the encouragement, even though I have no idea who either of you is. Thanks a lot.

  4. April 6, 2011 11:02 PM

    Hey Adam, really glad to hear from you! Love that the project is still on track!

    And if you were even half serious on that intern thing, free help is always available!

    Anyway, keep it up & good work!

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