Year Long Winter

On Sunday night, I recorded this song: Year Long Winter

It’s the first song I’ve recorded in many months, and it’s a little darker than most of what I’ve written in years, and I feel it needs a lengthy explanation, so here it is.

There were multiple things that contributed to the overall feel of this song.  The first, and simplest, is just how bad this winter has been.  The number of days below zero and the amount of snow we’ve received has definitely affected my mood to some extent.  It would be a stretch to say the winter has felt like it’s been a year long, but not much of a stretch.

I’ve also been unable to record for several months, as the computer I used to record on no longer powers on, and I’ve only performed twice in the last 5 months, one full show and one open mic, and the reason for that will be explained further as I continue writing.

The song is mostly about the events of the past year.  I had quit Papa John’s to go on tour for my birthday, January 19th, 2013.  I started with a great show on my birthday in Dayton, Ohio, my birthplace!  The next night, I had a blast doing a full show with a full band, which will be part of the live album I’ll be releasing later this year!  I spent the following 6 weeks performing at open mic nights 4-5 days a week, occasionally selling t-shirts and CDs, gaining new fans, and really enjoying myself.  Then, the touring really picked up as I had 8 full shows in March, and a couple of open mikes as well.

I genuinely loved performing at every one of those shows, seeing long time fans, and making some new ones.  Feeling the love from all of them when I was in the venues and performing.  I also felt the effects of the extraneous aspects of touring.  I drove over 3,000 miles in the month of March, 250 of which were after getting hit (and run) by what I’m presuming was a drunk driver on the Saturday night of St. Patrick’s Day weekend, along with about 500 miles on a bus.  Alone.  I tried to get friends to go with me to some shows, but they understandably had to work, or go to school.  I don’t begrudge any of them for not being able to be along for the ride.  I didn’t have a girlfriend then, nor do I have one now, and I don’t hook up with groupies.  Music was such a huge part of my life that it made it difficult to find someone to love.  Among booking shows, touring, promoting, etc. music consumed my life.  It was a sacrifice I was OK with for a very long time, but it had caught up to me.  There were moments where I was definitely lonely, and I had to at least try to change that.  Plus, I had already run out of money, and was back at Papa John’s part time in late February.

I also realized that no matter how much I put into music…  no matter how much effort, time, energy, love, passion, practice, writing, learning, and myself I put into it… I couldn’t make a living from it.  The money just wasn’t there consistently enough.  It wasn’t easy to face that.  I always knew it was a possibility, but I believed that if I could make it work in a couple places, I could learn how to make it work in a couple more, and a couple more, until I found a way to make a living from it.  I’m thankful for all of the support along the way, that allowed me to keep going as long as I did.  It was enough to make me happy for a very long time.

I knew I didn’t want to be at Papa John’s any more, and with the flexibility of the job allowing me to tour as often as I did no longer being a driving reason behind staying there, it became just a way to maintain my daily life.   It became just a job, and one where the negatives far outweighed the positives. A job I still needed while I worked on finding something better.   A job where, over the summer in a college town, we had too many employees and not enough hours to go around.  A job where, for 3 months, my expenses were higher than my income and I fell deeper in debt.  A job where, after those 3 months were up, we were too busy for the staff we had.  I worked 6 straight 60 hour weeks until we could find more people.  I was grateful to get debt paid off, but it was consuming my life.

As I continued looking for work, there were times I couldn’t take phone calls from recruiters because I was working.  This caused me to lose out on career opportunities.  I think I also blew a couple interviews simply because I didn’t have time to prepare for them properly, or was tired from working past 2 am the night before a morning interview.  I had told myself when I went to Papa John’s in late February of 2013 that I would quit by the end of the year no matter what my situation was.  It finally came to that in December.  I had no new job lined up.  I had plans, backup plans, and tertiary plans, but nothing solid.

I took that risk, and my first day not there was on December 31st.  I spent New Year’s Eve home alone as my friends were either working or sick, but it was better than being at work.  In January, I focused on self-employment, primarily through freelance web development.  I made $577 in my first month!  Yes, that’s genuine excitement!  There are drawbacks, including not knowing if/when I’m going to get that next client, but when I am working, it’s good.  My clients so far have mostly been entrepreneurs, and I love knowing that I’m making a difference for them.  I also have a fun project I’m currently working on that uses 3D graphics and front end web development.  I can’t say anything else about it right now, but it is definitely cool!

I am still figuring things out, and I’ll likely do some math tutoring as well, possibly online, possibly in person.  I’m also still figuring out how music now fits back into my life, since I’m no longer trying to make a living from it.  I’m doing my best to find career opportunities that make me happy.  It’s a process, but I’m applying similar decision making principles to the decision making that led me to pursuing music for over 2 decades.  Money is not a primary motivator.  I need to make enough to support myself with, and long term, I need enough to start and support a family, but it’s much more about doing something where I feel like I’m making a real impact for people, whether it’s entrepreneurs, or students who need help with math, or my fans.

I’m very optimistic about the future.  A combination of web development, helping entrepreneurs, helping students, and music sounds like a wonderful life to me.  It’s been a year long winter to get to this point, and the song’s last verse starts by saying “Spring’s coming and I’m running and I’m knowing that it’s time to go, feeling like I’m 13 and there’s time to grow…” I was 13 when I started rapping, and I wrote this song the same way I used to write when I was 13.  I hit play on my keyboard and found a beat I liked, and then wrote the lyrics while that beat played.  That’s why it has a more old school Mission Man sound.  I did add the piano part, though, so it’s more “Antis Trype” than “Intro To My Mind.”   I’m now approaching life that same way, as though there’s time to grow, and to still make decisions in my life based on doing what I love, instead of doing what’s most financially rewarding.

From “I’m feeling, tired, uninspired and a little blase” to “That’s where this change has to begin.”  The first quote is from my grandmother.  She was a very wise and learned woman.  She was also very fun at times, with sayings like “do whatever you deem prudent,” (which sounds mean, but isn’t) to “have it your way, but you’re wrong,” to “put it up there somewhere” (pointing to imaginary storage space just below the ceiling).  Ultimately, there have been plenty of times over the course of the past year where I have felt “tired, uninspired and a little blase,” because I was trying so hard to find a career option that I’d be passionate about, and find time to find love, and face everything I’ve had to face in the past year.  So, “now I’m sparking the fire within. That’s where this change has to begin,” is about finding that passion within for things other than music, primarily dealing with my career, but also dealing with my day to day life.  The only way to find that passion is from making the necessary changes from within me.  It ends there because that’s where I am now.

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Published by: Mission Man

I am a conscientious hip-hop musician, and have been rapping since 1992. I started playing drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard, in addition to producing my own music, starting in 1998. For full details, see the official website at MissionMan.net.

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