I suppose it’s time to post an entry before Annotated Margins becomes too dry and stale and gets blown off the internet by the cyber winds.
I've got lots going on, but my engines anymore can handle only so much steam, and at my age it sometimes takes more grease than I have to keep the cranks lubed. So, what little forward motion I could effect with my rusty old parts and a slower-than-it-used-to-be control panel, I had to focus my energies on the final revamping of my life.
I quit my retail job in September, based on the assurances of fifteen previous students, who said they would love to get back into lessons. As soon as I told them that I would be teaching from my home in Philomath, every one of them backed out. It has taken me two and a half months to drum up seven students, folks who don’t mind driving seven minutes outside of Corvallis to learn blues and slide.
Right around the time of my last blog entry, the fella who hosted the website where I posted my music for prospective venues made good on his threat to go forever silent. That same week, I got word that Belle Vallée Wine Bar and Bistro, my main gigging venue in Corvallis, was closing down. For the three years I have lived in the Oregon Valley, I got used to playing the local wine bar three or four times a month. They canceled all music scheduled in December. Since October 28th, I’ve had only four gigs—all of them out of town. I went to a couple other spots where I like to play, and discovered they were going the same way as Belle Vallée. Of the six places where guys like me could play in Corvallis, four of them shut down.
Some of the other folks who used to play on the waterfront on the nights when I didn’t started hanging out at a little brew pub over on Third. All dressed up, but with nowhere to go, I confess I started hitting the bottle a little harder than I should have. By Christmas I came to my senses, left a few of my colleagues on their stools, and started stoking the engines.
Funny, for the past three years I’ve posted more blog entries about how I needed to reinvent myself for my new life in Oregon… but I never got around to actually doing it.
Well, when you live where everything has gone to hell, you’ve got to grab the Phoenix by the tail and hope that the great white bird has strength enough to carry you above and away from the salivating maws of Cerebus.
I think my ancient little motorhome will now get me around Oregon, without all the anxiety about when and where the little-engine-that-can’t will break down. My buddy and I spent the better part of December under the hood and crammed beneath the chassis. Fingers crossed, I’m thinking I now have a relatively dependable set of wheels, equipped with all the conveniences of home, which will get me up and down the 99 corridor when all the wine bars and tasting rooms reopen for the season. If I’m gonna remain a musician, I have to travel.
My book is nearly finished; got an old book which went out-of-print in ’91 that I’m trying to revamp, and I’m drawing again. (My wife likes my art better than my writing, and she grew tired of my music ten years ago.)
I’ve got things I can do. I just need to figure out the best ways to do them. I’ve submitted over twenty-five resumés since November 1, and not a single apple fell from the tree. The store my wife manages in downtown Corvallis sits almost all by itself. Nearly half the retailers along Madison Avenue closed their doors either just before or right after Christmas. Philomath, this little speck-of-nothing town where I live, is good for nothing except bulldozing, boarding up, and making sawdust. An uncomfortable number of “for rent” signs have gone up all across town—along with the usual overabundance of “for sale” signs.
I suppose it’s the same all over the country—little towns start nailing up sheets of plywood, forcing the townsfolk to think of something new on which to bet their future.
You know what? It’s about time. Maybe we’ll all come up with something good this time.