There are just 19 days until my wife and I pack up our car with the small amount of stuff we’re keeping and hit the road. We’re storing a few keepsakes in a storage unit, but the majority of our stuff is being sold or donated. The other day I officially gave notice that I was quitting my job and signed up for a mail forwarding service. We even have our first destination planned and have a place to stay (Arcata, CA). What all this means is that there’s not much left to do but wait for those last few days to crawl by (at an increasingly glacial pace).
My wife Faith has tried to help me pass the time by figuring out what I will do with all the time I have now that I’m essentially retiring. Wow, it’s weird to think about it that way, but I won’t have anything resembling a regular job so it’s an apt description. Anyway, back to the point. What the hell am I going to do with my time? As Faith would say, it’s time for a list!
What will I do with my time?
More than anything else in the world I want to be a published author, so I will spend a good portion of my time working on various fiction projects. I’ll write more about those here as I get back into the groove.
As far as a good portion of the world is concerned I’m about to do some crazy shit and I want to document the ride and maybe make some friends while I’m at it. Hopefully I’ll even entertain and inspire some of you along the way.
When I was in high school and college the only subjects that appealed to me as a possible career path were languages. My tiny high school only had Spanish, so that’s what I learned and I continued that in college. My skills were pretty formidable, but have atrophied with lack of use. I want to brush up on my Spanish and then start working on other languages. Just a few that interest me are French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Russian. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but if I’m going to see the world I want to be able to talk to people!
I’m a fantasy novel addict. If it has a good story and a bit of magic it’s for me. YA, urban, high fantasy, sword and sorcery, it’s all good. I’d love it if you’d check out my Goodreads profile and leave me suggestions in the comments. My Kindle is hungry!
Play the ukulele
About the only non-essential item I’m bringing with me is my beautiful Luna ukulele that Faith got me for Christmas. I want to learn how to play it well enough to maybe do some busking at some point. I say that all casually. The truth is that busking scares the shit out of me and that’s part of the reason I want to do it. I need to get out of my comfort zone.
What good would all this traveling do if all I did was stay inside? I want to get out and hear, see, smell, taste and touch the whole world. There’s so much out there and I’ve seen so little. I still haven’t even been to California and we’ll be living there for at least a couple of months. It’s all insanely exciting.
So, there you have it. Those are the things that are important to me right now. Will I do other things? Of course, but these will be what I’m holding above the rest. If you were going to narrow your focus like I am, what few things would you choose?
I’m going to tell you a secret and you can’t laugh. Actually, it’s not a secret, but it seems that way because so few people know it. Please feel free to tell anyone you meet in an exuberant manner so you can spread the joy. Alright, now remember, I said not to laugh. Are you ready? Got your game face on? Good. Ukuleles rock!
Yep, you heard that right. Ukuleles are awesome. They are not a joke or a toy; they are a serious musical instrument, capable of beautiful sound. They are starting to gain a bit of prominence in the current music scene, but mostly they are still just considered by the public as toy guitars. Let me show you a few things that may change your mind.
First I have to give a shout out to the local uke players. P.U.P., the Portland Ukulele Project. I haven’t gotten out to see these guys live yet because I just heard about them two days ago, but I can’t wait! Here’s a cover of “Two of Us” by The Beatles.
Then there is the glorious Amanda Palmer. Fair warning, I love Amanda Palmer and may gush a bit here. While she may not be a ukulele virtuoso, she is doing a lot to show that the ukulele is a great way to bring music with you wherever you go. Oh, and she fucking rocks for playing her “ninja” gigs wherever she goes. Her ninja gigs are free mini shows that take place in random spots that she happens to be. They are usually announced with only a few hours notice via her Twitter feed. Here’s what I think is her finest ninja gig to date. It is a cover of the Cat Stevens song “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out”. This music video was put together using fans who follow her Twitter with two days notice and conceived and filmed in 20 minutes, as it states at the end of the video.
Very recently, Amanda also put out an album that was all covers of Radiohead songs which is amazingly wonderful. You can listen to it, and buy it, here for as little as $.84. Please do consider paying more as the $.84 is just what it costs to sell the record. Now, onto one of the real masters of the ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro. He is from Hawaii, birthplace of the ukulele; though he doesn’t sing, he seriously shows you the power of the tiny four stringed instrument. While he does make quite a bit of original music for the ukulele, I can’t resist showing you something that most people are familiar with because it is an amazing piece of complex music. Here he is playing “While My Guitar (Ukulele) Gently Weeps” by The Beatles. It is a bit long, but I suggest you wait it out as the playing gets really wild toward the end.
Lastly, for those of you that really must have the cute and kitschy ukulele that you are used to seeing portrayed in movies and on television, I give you another version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. This one is played by a three-year-old! Aww, who am I kidding, this kid rocks it. Enjoy!
This is just the surface of all the ukulele awesomeness there is in the world. Please, go out and explore the Interwebs and soak it all in. You might even consider buying a beginner’s uke for yourself to learn to play. Decent ukulele’s start at low as $50. And if you’re feeling really generous and want to pay for some entertainment, you could buy ME a ukulele as I desperately want one, but can’t really justify the expense. If I do come into possession of a uke I will do my best to learn to play it and post my progress in video/audio form on this blog! Well, that’s all I have to say for today. If you want more recommendations have some of your own, or want to donate to my ukulele fund, hit up the comments.