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March '24 So Far

Woke up around 5:30 this morning. My body was itchy and my mind was racing. As soon as I got out of bed, I felt irritable. Threw on sweats and sandals and walked to Starbucks while the sun came up. I came back home and decided it'd be good to write for a little while. There's certainly lots to say.

This next Friday, I'll be playing at Bottom of the Hill, and the last few weeks have mostly revolved around the show. Between show promotion, band practice, and mental and emotional preparation, I feel like I've been in a haze. A swelling anxiety in my stomach and feelings of shame and worry have rocked me to sleep each night. Last night, I felt really silly about how much this show has taken over my world. I like the morning time. I can think clearer and it's easier to see on this side of the night how much pressure I put on myself. This show is a big deal for me and I've had to spend a lot of time preparing for and sharing about it. That's okay. It'll be over soon. I don't expect to sleep well this week.

I landed on a good show opener, and I'm feeling good about the set.

I don't know where to start.

The other day in therapy, I showed up in a bad mood and complained about my life and the people in it with my arms crossed. Tim asked, "So what's going on with Ashton? I'm hearing a lot about others and I'm wondering where you are in all this". I didn't know but I felt extremely uncomfortable. By the end of the hour, I was in tears. A snotty mess. As Tim encouraged me to explore the sensations in my body, I began to feel 12 again. I sat in feelings that plagued me when I was young and instantly felt lonely, overwhelmed, and scared. It was extremely profound, but painful, too. I went home and took a nap before work.

When Kobe Bryant passed away tragically, Shaq famously cried on national television and voiced his regret and remorse. He acknowledged that he didn't check in with his friend as much as he would have liked. So much goes unspoken. For as self involved as this next question may sound, its equally as honest: I wonder how many people would come to my upcoming show if they knew it would be my last? Last week, I sat in my room in the dark with Zach while he played me his new record. It was such a beautiful moment. Commenting on our musical collaboration, I exclaimed, "We are so cool!". So many wonderful artists never reach the audience their work warrants. I sometimes wonder if that's permanently me. I imagine dying young and folks I've known well finally listening to my music and wondering why they didn't engage with my work while I was alive. I don't care how this reads to you. There's truth in this paragraph, despite how self aggrandizing it seems. And yes, I do check in with my friends and family often. Few of them ever initiate, though. I wonder why I just got so defensive. Who do I imagine is reading this and judging me?

The last few weeks have been really financially stressful. I'm proud of myself for getting through it and asking for help. I'm proud of myself for not drinking over it. I want to sometimes. Making music is so expensive, but no matter how hopeless the situation feels, there's a part of me that knows I won't be broke forever and I'm building something beautiful.

Across the street from the restaurant I work at, there's a little dog park. I bring my guitar to work sometimes, and on my break, I go down there and play. There's a man who spends every afternoon on his deck overlooking the park, and for at least 18 months, he has sat and listened to me play every single time I go there. He smiles and claps and pays me compliments. It's really very sweet. It's nice to know there's a supportive audience waiting for me there whenever I feel like performing. It makes me sad to think this is just a brief moment in my life and someday neither of us will be there. It also makes me grateful. Even if I tried, I wouldn't be able to tell that man how much his presence has meant to me. The moments we share down there at the dog park are magical to me and it's cool to recognize this in real time rather than in hindsight.

My life is full of beautiful moments with beautiful people. I need to pay more attention to that. I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to really grasp the weight and beauty of being alive. If we could all experience each moment for what felt like the first time, I'm sure we'd just vomit and sob all day long. Being completely present and aware would be fucking exhausting and painful and SO crazy. But still fun to imagine. And good to remember that every second and every breath is dreadfully special.

Anyways. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at Bottom of the Hill next Friday.

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