Friday, July 11, 2014

Reconciling Invalidation...

I don't yet know how to accomplish this, is the short version.

The long version is that I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to put myself out there. I have this blog, I have my zine, I have the radio station, I have the YouTube channel...but I still have the same nagging feeling I've had my entire life. That no one gets me. That no one cares. I'm currently broadcasting my second radio show and I'm literally the only person listening. I put a lot of work into my playlist. I've spent lots of time promoting my radio show. But it's very likely that after three months of weekly broadcasts, I'll have to face the fact that no one cares, as per usual.

Yes, I realize this is an angst-y and self-involved way to look at things. It's unreasonable for me to expect my friends and family to spend four hours of their Friday evenings listening to me play music I like. It is. It's ridiculous. Every issue of Chickweed includes a mix. I usually make 50 copies of that mix. I think mayyyyybe 5 people listen to that mix, and that's a thing you can listen to anytime. So why would anyone listen to me DJing from my iTunes?

But I am trying. I'm trying to put my thoughts out there in the world, via blog, via zine, via radio, via video. Maybe what I have to say isn't interesting. Maybe I'm not self-actualized enough yet to be interesting. Maybe I never will be interesting. And why does it even matter, anyway? Do I need to be relevant? I've always told myself I don't care if there's a meaning to life, and I don't. But meaning interpreted by me has some validity TO me, if that makes sense. I'd like to feel that my efforts to express myself are heard. But I also think that's selfish of me. I have a small handful of friends that seem to consistently enjoy my work.

But what is that (this) work? It's self-indulgent whining a large portion of the time. Maybe I shouldn't be reinforced for that. I'm starting to wonder if that's all I'm made of, is the worry, I suppose.

My ability to relate to others is tenuous at best. I feel like my reserve of empathy is endless, but my projection of self is almost never in tune with those I'm trying to project myself upon. There are kindred spirits I've met in my path, but they are few and way too far between. But this is my fault. I don't reach out to people in the real way of having conversations and hanging out with others. I project in zines and on blogs and via radio. And I hope that someone wants to talk back.

My brain is so full, but I say so little. I'd love to be heard, but perhaps I don't have the stamina to speak as much as is required for that.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I came up with a plan...

but have yet to implement it. Looking over my idea journal I carry with me everywhere, I find that this is all too often how I (don't) do things.

Anyway, the plan is this: once a week, probably Sunday, I will observe "Analog Day". Analog day will be a day of less smartphones, tablets, and internet. Specifically, the way I will define analog is by living that 24-hour period as if it is 2001. In 2001 I had the internet, but only on computers. In 2001 I had a cell phone, but could only make calls and text? I think I had texting capabilities, though people weren't really doing it a lot yet. With my limited verbal skills, texts would still have to exist on Analog Day. However, I don't want to use the fact that I'm "allowed" to text as an excuse to be preoccupied with texting all day...sooooo generally this day will be a day that I go out and enjoy the world outside, leaving my phone at home.

In 2001 I often left my phone at home. In 2014 I'm worried I have it at my side too often. I check it for mundane bits of information too frequently.

Our digital surroundings can easily become a crutch when you use them instead of doing more creative things. Creativity is usually more analog than digital. Writing in a blog could have been done in 2001, for example, while checking Facebook could not. Reading a book in a waiting room could have been done in 2001, while playing Bejeweled on your phone could not...not the Nokia I had, anyway.

2014 is the year that I have read the least in my entire adult life, I think. It could be an incorrect assumption, but I fear this is mostly due to a shortened attention span caused by a click-fast culture of checking statuses of things (weather, texts, emails, facebook, etc). Too much of my time spent online is re-upping information that doesn't mean anything. Have I checked Instagram today? What about Tumblr? While some sites genuinely engage me (Tumblr, Forever Young Adult, Jezebel), most provide bland scrolling and mindless entertainment (Facebook, Instagram). Where are these distractions pulling my life? I think the answer is sideways or down or nowhere at all. I feel that books and blogs and radio stations and going outside take me much further into a future of attention, intelligence, and meaning.

However, I don't at all condemn our new shiny objects of distraction. I love the world at my fingertips, but I would like to learn that I don't have to access that world every time I use my fingertips. It took me awhile to learn that having a cell phone, even if I have it on me at all times, didn't mean I had to be accessible to everyone all the time. Now, only 4 years after purchasing my first smartphone, I've found it is my time to learn that although the world's information is almost always available to me, it doesn't mean I need to access  it all the time. 

This brings me to my mild disdain (ok, maybe it's more like a medium simmering disdain) for Facebook. On the one hand, I am completely all for everyone being in the same space online and being able to organize my entire social life from one location. On the hand that I'm more often holding, I recognize that posting statuses on Facebook has become a placeholder for real interactions with others. When I talk to friends and family, I would like to know how they're feeling about their lives. Often when I have "catch-up" conversations, they are punctuated by, "Didn't you see my Facebook status?" or even conversations continuing from online "conversations" that were simply a friend or family member posting a status. For example, someone in my immediate family is currently in the process of moving. It didn't occur to anyone in my family to tell me about this event, because it was on Facebook. I think the next step in socialization now that so much of it has migrated online, is simply to remember that not everyone sees everything you post on Facebook.

I'd like to clarify that I don't mean conversations you've had with me online can't migrate to in person. They absolutely can and SHOULD. I love conversation through any medium and across all platforms. What I mean is when a person assumes an online status update is like a telepathic transmission to all "Facebook friends". It isn't. Maybe I don't use Facebook the way regular people use Facebook...which makes sense because I don't socialize the way others socialize. Namely, I cannot withstand the stimulation of knowing what everyone is doing at all times. To keep up with a couple hundred friends on a website would take all my energy from me, so be kind and don't assume we all know what you're doing because you posted pictures of your son's wedding in Albuquerque. Chances are, I didn't see those pictures.

I realize this is all a new venue of etiquette we as a society don't yet know how to navigate. I dislike being interrupted with "Yeah, I saw that on Facebook" when I'm talking about what's going on with me as much as I dislike others answering "How are you?" with..."You didn't see my Facebook?" Much of what I mean when I ask someone how they are is how are you right NOW? How do you feel today? What are you excited about? How are you coping with your life at this moment in time in front of me right now? What are you into, man?

Odd for me of all people to be requesting a more traditional style of socialization. Me of the only-text-never-answer-phone-calls fame. Me of the "I prefer to socialize online" battle cry.

I think I just figured out what I dislike about it! Back in the '90s, online communication was one-on-one or chat rooms of a few people in real time or via direct communication like email. Now it's more indirect megaphone-style life updates. What I really want is to actually talk/type to people I like.

Anyway, Analog Day. I'm doing it...starting next Sunday.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

writing when you have no thoughts

My firework-addled sleep-deprived brain (neighbors have been partying and blowing shit up until 3am since Wednesday and I haven't gotten much sleep) isn't having many thoughts today. All I know is that I want to be in a sensory deprivation chamber until I recover, but there's nowhere to escape the madness. I could go somewhere other than my home, but I pretty much only feel comfortable in my own I sit and I wait to jump out of my skin again as explosives detonate outside my window.

I can only imagine how awful this time of year must be for veterans.

I don't know how much of my jumpiness is related to my autism and how much is PTSD, but the first week in July has been extremely difficult for me since 2011. I think a big part of it is that I now live in a densely populated part of town whereas before the tornado I lived on half an acre with neighbors that were either members of my family or not interested in fireworks. This week has convinced me that I would really like to get back to the south side of town. I need a bit more space in general, but especially during a holiday which has become almost ironic, considering Americans have increasingly less freedom alongside our dwindling bank accounts.

My own anxiety is mirrored in my dogs. They've been following me closely around the house, hiding under desks, and refusing to go outside. I can't blame them.

This holiday is evil. It's loud and it's intrusive and it's bad for the environment, pets, veterans, and human beings. I can't understand it at all and I really hope I remember next year how bad this is so that I can take a week off work and take my dogs somewhere that fireworks within city limits are illegal.

I'm slated to attend a party tonight, but I'm not sure I'll be able to stay very long. I'm so sensitive at the moment that any noise sounds deafening. This means I will be more likely to get trashed in order to cope with my sensory issues. I am just not at all cheerful or capable of normalcy today.

I am thankful that I had a solid week of being very productive. With the productivity comes the inevitable fallout. Perhaps I'll put on some noise isolating headphones and read all day...maybe I'll put on mascara and brush my hair before the party.

It's probably too much to hope that the neighbors are done blowing up my sanity. It will probably be a long weekend, but at least we're not actually under the siege that my nerves feel we are.

Friday, July 4, 2014

first radio broadcast

was a total success. All my labor fruits (still with the birthing puns?) were completely worth it. A bunch of this won't make sense to a lot of my besties, but I wish to get it all out there. 

What I had to learn and endure to start this radio station was years in the making, complicated, and time-consuming. I am actually really proud of myself for sticking with the process and learning the code, the tools, and the chutzpah to get through it all and bring my mixes to the masses.

Watching television wasn't really a thing we did in my family growing up. I spent most of my childhood outside with my radio boombox.

When I was a wee child I used to tape songs from the radio on my little boombox. I later graduated to owning CDs and cassettes of my own, dubbing THEM on my little boombox. Sometime in 2001ish, my mom got a cd burner and I began making a few mix CDs alongside the mountain of cassettes that kept me company throughout the '90s. I also received a minidisc player in the early 2000s and made some minidisc mixes, though that contraption never took off. 

My early '20s saw a sadness that was reflected in a draught of mixes, but in 2009 I got an iPod and started making a lot of playlists in iTunes. Sometime that year I attempted to pull off a radio station. I did a bunch of research and started a live365 station. My first broadcast stumbled so severely that I cut it off before the end of "Tits on the Radio", my first broadcasted song. I think I didn't have enough bandwidth and didn't realize I needed to outsource the server in order to have even one listener at a time. I gave up easily.

The idea of a radio station has needled at me my entire life. In high school, I shadowed a local DJ for the day. I wasn't outgoing enough to use the opportunity to create contacts and get my foot in the door, though they were very nice to me, let me pick a lot of the music, put me on air. They liked my voice and even recorded a few promos/commercials with me.

I couldn't shake the idea of running my own station, so last week I finally jumped back into research. I found out that what I needed was a server, a streaming platform, and a source. By outsourcing your server, you can have simultaneous listeners. I signed up for live365 again, but their limitations are just too stifling. At their $15/mo plan you can upload 350MB (about 80 songs) of songs to their storage "locker" for offline playlists, but there were many rules about which songs can be played within which time periods, etc. It took hours to upload the first batch of songs that became quite repetitive after 24 hours. I had originally planned to upload a new set of songs once a week, but the process was so tedious. Further tedious was the fact that my $15/mo only bought me 10 simultaneous listeners to a live show. The service had an app, but it was laden with annoying audio ads. Though I launched this station, I abandoned it a second time in 5 years just a few days later.

After many more hours of research I discovered a radio server that was free and could stream live to 200 simultaneous listeners. At the free level, it's only available on flash-based browsers with a very '90s look, but it works like a dream alongside a computer program called "nicecast" (which is a whole other story about figuring out how to configure it) which is serving as my streaming conduit between the server and the source (iTunes, microphone, record player, wherever the music is coming from). THEN I found out Nicecast only streams an hour at a time at their free level, after which I'd have to pay a $60 licensing fee. I'd have had to use this program with live365 as well so not only would I be paying $15/mo for a limited and clunky radio experience, but then I'd have to shell out an additional $60 as well. Radio is essssspensive, yo.

I elected to use the free server and pay the $60 licensing fee. Then I decided I really HAVE to be able to stream in a non-flash way. I have to be available on apps, so today I paid for a "pro" account on My Radio Stream which was only $17 for 3 months. 

Then I started the research process on how to get your station listed on a website that hosts directories. I chose a service called Tune In, and have filled out forms to list my station with them. I have to wait 48 hours for them to judge me worthy, which I really hope they do, and then Mixtress Radio will be on apps (Tune In Radio is the app, which will hopefully have me in their directory by Sunday or Monday, if all goes as planned).

Today, I've been "on the air" since 4pm and it is now after 8. I've loved every minute of it. I am so happy. During the course of the broadcast, I only had about 4 listeners total, but I'm not even upset. I know my listeners will grow and even if they don't...I'll scream into the void unheard for a long time before the excitement wears off and I wonder why no one likes me.

When I started the YouTube channel I told myself I'd make 10 videos and if I didn't have 25 subscribers by that time, I'd quit. My plan for the radio station is thus: if I regularly average 5 listeners per show (Fridays from 4p-8p CST) I will continue broadcasting after my three months of "pro" broadcasting status is up.

For now, I am over the moon. So excited to share all my cheesy playlists live with the world. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

life updates...

Let's get this shit out the way.

I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo again in July because the only way I write anything is if I have some sort of deadline/goal. My goal is this: write in this blog every day in July and eventually reach a word count of 35,000 by month's end.

I haven't really been writing. What I've written in this blog is all I've written since the last Camp NaNoWriMo in April. That's pretty bleak. I think I've forgotten how to write. The starting is important. When it comes to creativity, quantity has always meant more to me than quality....because quality is the child of quantity. Let's see if we can birth some nuggets of writerly epiphany this July.

First, the labor pains. How far can I take this horrible metaphor?

I've been frenetically productive the last five days or so. I now have multiple internet endeavors to promote. The YouTube channel has almost 50 subscribers now and I am putting out videos pretty consistently every Friday. They are pretty terrible and suck up a lot of my paltry internet connectivity, but I enjoy making them and feel that I am getting something out of them. I have this need to pontificate constantly, and a format wherein I have to speak out loud (something I am not good at) is teaching me how to, well, speak out loud. Perhaps one day I might even graduate into "articulate".

Friday I started a radio station. For many reasons, this particular radio station is not going to work out. Then I started another one. The second one is free, but it will only be able to play music when the station itself is live, so here is the link but don't bother clicking it unless I've posted spontaneously on facebook that I am broadcasting or it's Friday between the hours of 4pm and 8pm CST--the only time in my week that I can for sure do an actual radio show. I have a whole detailed story about my experience with learning how to start a radio station, but I will save that blog for a day when I can organize my thoughts.

I also started Chickweed Issue #10 this weekend and finished it yesterday. It's a mini-zine, taking up only 1/4 of a standard letter sheet instead of my usual 1/2 page zines. It's also being printed on a single sheet of 11" x 17" paper folded into an 8-page zine. It will have (a variation of) my mixtape image I use for everything on the back so that it can be unfolded into a poster print. I copied the zine content today but will have to wait until I can order a print of the mixtape before I'll be able to copy the other side and distribute it. This smaller size cost considerably less to produce than my zines usually do. Perhaps I might even be able to make more per year if I do a few of them in this smaller format. I should be able to tape the zine and slap a stamp on it too, so the mailing costs will also be considerably less. If you'd like a copy, let me know via email or facebook msg (I stress the MSG part because the facebook messages go through the messenger app on my phone and I get them immediately, whereas I probably won't see if you post on my wall or something for DAYS, being that I avoid facebook like the plaaaaaaaague). This issue of Chickweed sadly will not have a mix, because it is so small and I wanted to keep the costs down on this one. Do let me know anytime you want a mix and I'll send you a package of musical goodness.

Another aspect of the radio station that I am planning on implementing this month is an integration between the blog, YouTube channel, and "radio". Because I won't be able to maintain a 24/7 radio station (for finiteness of time, money, and internet capability), I would like to update my YouTube playlists to reflect all the mixes I make/have made (the ones I still have record of, anyway) and post them here several times a week. That way, YOU have the power to skip songs you don't like alongside the benefit of listening via YouTube the added bonus of visual aids alongside the music. I'd really like to make the MIX in Mixtress more of a widespread virus. He he.

Seriously, though, I fucking accomplished a radio station, y'all! A life dream finally realized. I've already done a few giddy broadcasts. I will have to pay a licensing fee of $60 to have a radio show longer than an hour, which I hope to have done by Friday's show. It's all happening and it feels really really good, even though it's just a free thing that anyone can do...I will feel like I have a voice even if no one is listening. I will warn you that the station can only be heard through a flash-capable browser for now. The interface of the website is pretty '90s, too. If I get a few consistent listeners, I will be able to justify upgrading my station for $5/mo in order for it to be accessible via SHOUTcast apps. So please do let me know if you listen to my station and what you think. It will be a clunky start, but all starts are.

That's all the babble I have in me tonight. I'm overjoyed to be putting myself out there more. I'm actually proud to have a YouTube channel, a blog, a zine, and a radio station. If I can manage to create enough of a work ethic to bump up the quality of each of these things, I may actually feel like a worthwhile human on this planet. That's where I am...finding worth through the expression of highly personal and sloppy indulgences. I can only hope that someone will gain something from it somewhere along the path.