Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

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Travel Blog 10-14-10

October 14, 2010

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Des Moines, IA and they are sprinkling in Christmas music in between Celine Dion and Enya. I imagine that the humor I feel right now is similar to the initial camaraderie I would get when seeing most of my friends in Hell before reality sets in. Other than that, it’s the best coffee shop we’ve worked in a long time. How does that equate? Well, it’s big, has a variety of comfy chairs and tables, and the only customer traffic consists of middle America 30-somethings, who by default have no power to exacerbate the traditional productivity pitfall that is people watching. That’s not mean.

We’re only a few days into this little month-long tour. We had a show the other night at the Redstone Room in Davenport, IA, where we split the bill with a Fort Collins-based bluegrass band called Head for the Hills. They were super-talented, and a lot of fun to hang out with. After the show, we headed west for Des Moines to find a place to sleep for the night.

Through all of the touring this past summer, we spent a lot of our nights in hotels. But we usually spend more of our nights sleeping out under the stars. “Out under the stars” is the subjective, romanticized setting I use to describe those nights. There’s a big difference between throwing up a tent and just lying on your back with the rest of the universe staring you in the face. And then opening your eyes in the morning to see tiny planes silently disappearing behind clouds can make you realize how often you used to enjoy that view when you were just a kid, and maybe that version of you had some things more figured out than the version of you does now.

I usually sleep on top of the van with one or two others, while two are usually on the ground, and yet another handful always sleep inside the van on the benches. We rotate locations based on what we feel like. Sometimes, rest areas will have a great selection of “picnic beds” (tables). Other locations will offer the “softest ground,” according to our drummer, only to have his comfort mocked by the morning light that illuminated the “Pet Area” sign above him which directed bygone dog owners where to have their best friend cushion the ground by taking a shit. We still get laughs out of asking him how he slept that night, to his response of, “Kinda shitty.”

It’s a wild line of work to be in, and your degree of happiness is so dependent on the perspective from which you choose to view your current situation. The homeless sleep at the mercy of the elements. Nomads and Gypsies sleep wherever they can lay their head. We sleep out under the stars. There’s not much separation between us some days, but we’ve got our intent, and the freezing Iowa night on Tuesday reminded me that we’ve got the safety of our van and hotel stays. What’s more is the humor that graces your sleepy face as you childishly try to hide it from the sun by burying it in your sleeping bag to buy a few more minutes of sleep. And that humor stays with you when you shower the morning dew off of that same face in a 4-star hotel room the same day. Because you know that the stars that rate the room you are in are a joke in comparison to the ones that watched over you as you slept the night before.

—Phil

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Thursday into Friday

March 5, 2010

Yo Yo. It is 2:41 A.M, and although it is now technically Friday, I still measure my days by when I awake in the morning. So for now, I am writing this on an extended Thursday night while riding in our van, somewhere in Southern Illinois.

We are just over one week into our 6-week tour, and I have to say, I am loving all of it. I know that traveling around playing for great people in new and exciting places seems like a “what’s not to like” situation. However, the actual performing takes up a comparatively small percentage of the time spent touring, and it is how one spends this travel time that will ultimately determine the satisfaction level of the time on the road. For me, the most important qualities to keep at hand are: a sense of humor, a good imagination, and the ability to feel at home wherever you are.

Before I expound on this, I need to clarify just how full of crap I am. It isn’t like we’re like the troubadours of a past age who were propelled forward by a wild bohemian spirit. I am writing this on a laptop computer, linked to the wi-fi antenna on the van that is spacious enough for me to stand up and stretch my arms while watching DVD’s of Arrested Development for the 20th time on the 27-inch TV screen that swings down from the ceiling. But then again, even while this is the age we live in, all of the facebooking and blogging and DVD watching are not enough to pacify the needs of our higher consciousness, especially those of our 8-man band.

What I am finding amusing right now is that while I have one bandmate simulating an airplane landing in his eardrums via iPod, and another on snoring practically on my shoulder, I feel completely at peace in my own head, as if I am on some kind of retreat. There is something mystical about gliding through the pitch-black middle of the night and– no joke– not knowing (or caring) where we will sleep tonight. This is the ability to feel at home wherever you are. As I look at farmhouse after farmhouse in the most desolate of areas, my imagination does its mental gymnastics to imagine how the residents of those lonely houses spend their days. And as for a sense of humor is concerned, there is no lifestyle imaginable where that trait isn’t a vital survival tool.

3:20 A.M. I was tired hours ago. Today was a long one too. Woke up at 6:30 and ran about 4.5 miles through a beautiful St. Louis morning. We then had a great rehearsal and arranging session from about 10 AM to 2PM before we hit the road for Carbondale, IL where we played a fun show at Tres Hombres. Now, we’re off to Iowa to play with Tea Leaf Green at the Redstone Room tomorrow night (technically tonight, but again, indulge me).

OK, if there was one thing I learned in college, it is that if I stay up late enough to think that I am tapping into some new creative reservoir, it means I should have gone to bed hours ago. Anyway, I’ve borrowed enough time already from tomorrow, so I’m off. Goodnight, and have a pheasant tomorrow.
Phil