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A Moving Experience: Go, Go PODzilla!

M-day Minus 21:

My POD just arrived earlier today. It’s about 8x8x16 feet, and I’m thankful to say it looks like it will hold everything I want to move to Florida. Heck, there might even be space left over.

It arrived on a truck with this interesting mobile frame called – yes, you guessed it – PODZilla. PODZilla’s job was to lift the POD off the truck and roll it into place, which it did with an expert touch. Here’s some of what it looked like:

IMG_3735 IMG_3737 IMG_3738

Tonight, now that it’s cooled down a bit outside, I’ve started loading boxes (and one bookshelf) into it. I’ve discovered that I’m not as good at this physical labor as I used to be. But I can take a break, drink ice water, and use the time to tell y’all about it. So far, I’ve got a dozen or so boxes and one bookshelf loaded. I figure I can load another ten boxes or so before I feel like calling it a night.

Meanwhile, the “selling the house” part of the move is going a bit less swimmingly than I’d hoped. There’s one offer we’re trying to counter on, and we’re also trying to schedule an open house for this weekend, to try to scare up a slightly better offer just because. However, my realtor is having tire troubles. So I don’t quite know how that’s going to work out yet. But at least we’re getting some activity.

Now that I’m in the same month in which I’m moving, it’s becoming more “real” again, and I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. And it ain’t an oncoming freight.

A Moving Experience: Cult of No Personality

M-day Minus 24:

(Alternate subtitle: Ghost in the Single-Family Residence)

I’ve decided that it’s a lot more fun to look at homes that other people have cleaned out and cleaned up than to actually clean one up for other people to look at. Duh.

My agent is of the opinion that people don’t want to see *your* stuff in the house; they want to imagine *their* stuff in the house. I’m guessing this is why the furniture and such that professional stagers bring in is so trendy and bland; any whiff of an actual personality might turn someone off.

Perhaps we could call this the Groucho Marx theory of home sales: People don’t want to live in a house that someone else might have wanted to live in.

So every morning as I get ready for work now, I carefully erase the tracks of my progress from the home, in case someone wants to come take a look but doesn’t want to see a house that people have (yuck!) *lived* in. I’ve become a ghost haunting my own home. And I don’t even get to knock the books off the shelves or make stuff fly around the room. Where’s the fun in that?

As a consumer focus group of one, I’d like to challenge this theory of staging. Granted, I’m a statistical outlier in almost every group you want to name, so the ability to extrapolate from my tastes and behaviors to the rest of the world is tenuous at best. But as I only recently was on the other end of the many pages of contracts, here’s how it worked for me:

  • First and most important: The “vibe,” or energetic signature of the house. Does it feel peaceful, joyful, full of ease? The house I live in now and the house I’m moving to both have that feeling about them. Most of the houses I looked at felt neutral to pleasant, and a few felt downright funky. One of them had such a miasma of negativity about it (not to mention a stale smoky taint that suggested that someone had built daily bonfires of cigarettes in each room of the house for a period of years, and then left the butts to “season” for a while) that even my agent wanted a shower afterward. And she’s nowhere near as sensitive as I am to that sort of thing. I realize that some people are so muggle-headblind that they’d miss Jack the Ripper’s hideout or the birthplace of a God. But for me, it’s important.
  • How has the house been treated? Are there any obvious holes in the walls, doors, etc.? Does it look like people had pride of ownership, or like a motorcycle gang had weekly drunken orgies there?
  • Did the house have the right number of rooms, arranged in a way that flow well? I turned down a few houses where there was a big disconnect between the living room, kitchen, and family room, because I want the option of being able to do things that more than ten people can show up for and not feel crowded.
  • Optionally, is there furniture that I might prefer to moving my own, and do I like it?
  • Is there a yard with space for me to garden?

That was the top of my personal list. Nowhere on that list was, “did the owner leave his/her comb out this morning” or “is there a half-full water glass on the counter?” Do people do that sort of thing? People do.

Meanwhile, I haven’t filled any more boxes the past few days, as I’ve been somewhat focused on this open house/showing thing. I’m hoping to get a couple of things boxed up tonight, just to get some momentum going again. And hopefully we’ll get offers in by Thursday’s deadline, and I’ll be able to focus more on packing this weekend.

As I’m going through my cabinets to see what still needs packing, I’m surprised by how much stuff I would have packed before that isn’t going with me this time: Food, pots and pans, cleaning supplies. The food won’t survive the move, for the most part; I’ve already got a fairly good stash of the rest of that already in FL. I’ll invite the neighbors in, the last day or two, to pick out what they can use, and let whomever my agent hires to clean the place out do the rest.

So maybe I’m closer to the packing finish line than I thought.

A Moving Experience: Whose House is This?

M-Day minus 27:

The house is now just about as clean as it’s going to get for today’s and tomorrow’s open house. Over the course of the last week, packing has been somewhat co-opted by the need to make things presentable if not pretty. As of this morning…we’ve mostly succeeded. Large collections of clutter have been removed or banished “backstage,” all of the moving-related stuff has been corralled into the library (aka “second bedroom”), and I’ve cleaned the floors and folded the visible towels.

Hell, I don’t get the house this clean for *parties*. I’ve even *dusted*.

And it was *much* more fun shopping houses that *other* people had cleaned for *me*. (*fake pout*)

Packed box count is over 60, but hasn’t gone up much in the last few days due to everything else. I took a carload of stuff over to Goodwill yesterday, which freed up a lot of space in the living room and family room/office.

On the other hand, looking around at the house, I can see how much less *stuff* I have floating around unpacked and unprocessed than I did a few weeks back. And that feels good. There are still several weeks’ worth of “hard monkey labor” left before everything’s loaded into the POD that’s going to Florida and I can get into the car and go. But I’m starting to see the end of the road, dimly at a distance.

For those of you who may at one time or another have wondered what the house looks like, here are a few shots I just took this morning:

Living room - with room for living

Living room – with room for living

A comfortable place to sleep

A comfortable place to sleep

Whose kitchen is this?

Whose kitchen is this?

As for me, once the guy shows up to replace the one broken door and gets done, I’m outa here until after the hordes have gone. Gonna go watch a friend make music.

A Moving Experience: Milestones

Moving Day minus 31:

A month from today, I’m planning to be on the road for Florida. And I realized, thinking that thought, that it’s somehow more “real” to me now that we’re within that “one month” timeframe. What is it about milestones – be they counting down or of the anniversary variety – that make the events they connect to more or less “real” for us? I don’t have any solid answers…but find the question to be fascinating.

Meanwhile, the packing and cleaning continues. For the next several days, I’m still focused on visible stuff, to help get the house ready for showing this weekend. However, the idea came to me this morning that if I clear out some of the currently “hidden” stuff – in drawers, cabinets, what have you – it’ll make space in those places for me to put away some of the stuff that’s currently out and providing “visual clutter.”

And I’m starting to see the benefits of the last six months’ worth of pre-move decluttering. I had already shredded all of my older bank statements and such, so packing what was left took me five minutes. 🙂

I’m also only two days away from the Big Farewell Show at Forbidden Island. I’m expecting there to be “moments” during the show; I don’t know what they’ll be yet, or what will trigger them. But my job is to move on through.

In Empowerment, last night I started reading about “personal power,” which I’ve learned a *lot* about the past few decades. The accompanying exercise asked, when do you feel most powerful, and when do you feel least powerful?

I feel most powerful when I complete something *I* made a priority of, during which I learned how to do something I hadn’t known how to do before. I feel powerful when I get to the end of the day and I’ve resolved everything on my list, especially if that includes one or two items I’d been punting on.

I feel least powerful when I have to punt on something that’s been nagging at me, especially when it’s just because I’m “too busy” taking care of mundane details in my world. Even moreso when I’ve been punting on it, putting it off, for a while. I feel least powerful when I’m staring at something that needs to be done, yet I not only don’t know how to do it, I don’t know how to *learn* how to do it.

Tonight I’m off to get a replacement door for one of my bedrooms. This is in part “penance” for not having done some diligence when I bought this house. After that, I get to spend some time with a friend I seldom get to visit with. Tomorrow, in addition to work, my realtor’s coming over and we’re going to spend part of the later day cleaning and getting things in shape for the open houses.

And in between this and that, I still need to rehearse for Thursday night.

If I figure out a workable way of accomplishing all this *and* making sure I don’t neglect my yoga, I’ll feel powerful. 🙂

A Moving Experience – Part 1

Move minus 33 days:

Filled box count is now somewhere around 55. I just got back from buying more boxes at UHaul, because their “small” boxes are big enough to hold vinyl albums, and Bankers Boxes aren’t. And I’m just about ready to pack the vinyl.

In the past, I moved those in milk crates – those clunky big plastic things everyone uses but nobody’s supposed to. This time, I decided to go for boxes with fewer holes in them. 🙂

All of the books in my “library” bedroom and my own bedroom are packed, except for the few books I’ve kept out for inspiration and personal growth during the next five weeks. I’ll put those in one of my final boxes, on the last day or so. Included in this:

  • Callahan’s Key, Spider Robinson: This is the book that got me to Key West in the first place. I still reread it about once a year, for the humor and the descriptions of some of my now-favorite places. The first time I read this, I hadn’t seen any of those places; now I’m very familiar with some of them, and a couple are on my favorites list whenever I’m heading to the end of the road. I’m rereading this for part of the “why I’m doing this.”
  • Empowerment, David Gershon/Gail Straub: These days, when I talk about my purpose, part of that is empowering myself and others to manifest our own inner Paradise. I’ve had this book around for quite a while, and I probably bogged down on the exercises, first time through. This time I really want to understand their take on empowerment and manifesting the reality you want to live in. Hopefully I’ll find some “aha” moments to add to the “how I’m doing this” list.
  • Complete Eagles songbook: Because in my copious free moments, I might want to learn something new.
  • Taxi’s book on Shortcuts to Hit Song Writing: Because in my copious free moments, I hope I’ll *write* something new.

As I’ve moved into packing some of the books and such in my office area, I’m reaping the benefits of having gone through and decluttered this whole area over the last six months or so – it’s taking a lot less time to just shovel things into boxes than it would have, had I not done those things.

Meanwhile, I took another four boxes of books I no longer need to the local library yesterday, where they will serve as a funding source for said library and as future enjoyment and enrichment for those who take them home. That brings my total of donated/pruned books to eight boxes.

The other big project, selling this house, is creeping forward. I was working on getting an offer from a couple of investors I knew last week; that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. I’m about to list the house with a realtor who’ll buy it themselves at the listing price if they don’t sell it, guaranteed. And the listing price will get me out of my loan and closing costs, and *might* net me a few dollars for gas on the road to Florida. Part of *that* project is cleaning things up behind me and ahead of me, dusting shelves after I’m emptying them, and doing the type of cleaning I’d do for a big party so that it’ll show well for an open house. That’s supposed to be *next* weekend.

It’s 11:20 in the morning, and I’m ready for a nap already. But I’m going to soldier on. Today’s list includes packing my vinyl, packing the rest of my books except for what I might use in the next five weeks, and cleaning the kitchen floor. And probably talking with and meeting with my realtor.


The Long Goodbye

When one is getting ready to move away from the place where one has lived for over twenty years, there are usually some goodbyes that need to be said. Today’s was one of the harder ones of this particular cycle for me.

I first met songwriter and songwriting teacher Jai Josefs back around December 2002, right after I released my first album. At the time, I was just starting to learn about the wide world of songwriting *and* performing, and beginning to wonder what I’d stepped into. I got a critique of one of the songs on that first album, and while I don’t remember which song it was or what was said, let’s just say that it wasn’t a glowingly positive review. In spite of (or perhaps because of) that, I heard that Jai ran a regular songwriting group here in the Bay Area, which I promptly signed up for.

Eleven-plus years later, I attended my last Songshop today. In that time, I’ve really matured as a songwriter. I’ve learned the craft of songwriting, learned what makes contemporary songs successful in the marketplace, and learned how to craft my songs so that others can resonate with them without losing my “voice” in the process. I’ve met and worked with quite a few other songwriters who’ve been in that group, many of whom I’m still in touch with. And I’ve released four more albums, each of them notably better than the one before and all of them light years beyond that first effort of mine. I’ve still got plenty of room to grow…but I’ve come a long way, in large part due to my participation in this group.

And now it’s time to move on. The current cycle of classes ended today, and I won’t be here by the end of the next cycle. And while I’ll still be in touch with some of these people, and while I’ll still be able to work with Jai (and possibly attend future classes) via Skype…it’s still the end of an era for me, and one of the harder goodbyes of this current crop.

But that’s what I signed up for when I told myself I wanted to follow this dream, this purpose. And part of the lesson of this cycle is learning how to both stand more on my own feet and to network more intelligently with more people, as I move into the next stage of my life.

Jai, thanks for everything. It’s been a long road the past eleven plus years, and I’m a much different person today than I was when I first bounded into your group way back when. I think the changes have been all to the good, and you and the people in that group have played a part in that, over the years.

Goodbye and hello again, as always.

Springtime Songs

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day here in the Bay Area. So I decided to spend some time inside recording “living room” quality demos of a couple of songs I’ve written in the last little while. A couple of them came out well enough to share.

You may notice that I’ve been experimenting with some contemporary musical styles. I think it’s important to keep adapting to what the rest of the world is listening to, as long as I can still express what I’m trying to say. And in some ways, contemporary Americana/folk is starting to circle back around to and incorporate musical motifs that I was playing with a while ago, while still taking them forward.


I’m always looking for new ways to describe my way of choosing to enjoy the best parts of what’s around me, creating that “Paradise state of mind” that I like to sing about and surround myself with. I’m not the first person to tag that type of world and life “Wonderland,” and I probably won’t be the last. But I think that “living life in Wonderland” is a good description of how I try to approach each day from a sense of wonder.

I couldn’t do a song with that title justice if I didn’t pay at least some tribute to Lewis Carroll. So I did. Hope you like it:

Wonderland – Loren Davidson (living room demo)

Apple Pie

I’ve experienced both of the extremes I describe in this song – the ups *and* the downs. And there have been times when someone’s loving attention really has made a difference in dragging me out of the downs. That’s pretty much what I’m trying to say here. As for *how* I say it…I think I’ve managed to tap into some of the spirit of what some contemporary bands and artists are doing musically. Let me know how it tastes.

Apple Pie – Loren Davidson – (living room demo)



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I Only Have Ice For You

Image of ice spheres including mold and drink usage

Ice spheres for your drink

A friend of mine, bartender Lauren at Forbidden Island, just posted a link to this article on the history of ice harvesting and ice-making in the US. It makes for very interesting reading.

I particularly like the way they describe those crescent-shaped icemaker cubes as “shitty hotel ice,” and then talk about how the search for a better ice cube, that won’t water down your drink.

Apparently the larger the cube the better, and the *good* machines will keep the water in motion, so that air bubbles don’t get trapped in the ice, clouding it.

Interesting Ice Cubes

Technology these days gives us the capacity to make ice “cubes” in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. For example:

What’s your favorite ice shape?



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Giving Thanks – 2013 Edition

Yep. It’s that time of year again. Though I like to think I’m pretty good at giving thanks on a daily basis, for the blessings in my world. So this is perhaps as much of a recap for me as an annual meditation, but I thought I’d share it anyway…and go a bit deeper.

I’m going to be a bit politically incorrect and give thanks for having been born when and where I was, into the family I was born in. Yes, we were Jewish, which had some stigmas attached. But we were in the United States, in good communities, my dad was a veteran and able to take advantage of the GI bill after World War II, and he worked our way into the upper middle class. A whole lot of people in this world start with far, far less, and while I don’t intend to feel guilty for that…I do appreciate that a lot of where I am in the world was made possible in part by where I started.

I’m thankful that we had access to absolutely amazing, state-of-the-art healthcare, when I was very young and afflicted with something that could have left me in need of care my entire life, and that I was able to go to a couple of schools that gave me the space to be more than a square peg in a round hole, which could very well have left me labeled a “troublemaker” and undesirable.

I’m thankful that I had parents who, despite their flaws and issues, were both there to raise us with love. Yes, I’m still sorting through some of my childhood issues…but I could have had it *way* worse.

I’m thankful for my brother. We’re not particularly close, but he’s still *there*. I’m thankful to still be somewhat connected with some of my other blood relatives.

I’m thankful for the friends, the lovers, and the adversaries I have and I’ve had over the years, and for the “family” I’ve accumulated with whom I share no blood. I’m thankful for the teachers I’ve had, officially and otherwise.

I’m thankful for each step I’ve taken on my songline, because I wouldn’t be who I am today without each and every one of those steps.

I’m thankful for all of the places I’ve visited, from Cologne to Key West to California. Thankful for having had the opportunity to learn to think in another language, and the perspective that brought me. I’m thankful for the many wonderful people I’ve met in my travels, and for those who’ve become my friends.

I’m thankful for a bit of musical talent and a connection to my Muse and to the greater Muse of which she’s a part, and thankful that my halting efforts to manifest that Muse have found favor with some of you. I’m thankful to those who’ve helped me on my musical journey, some by offering support and others by offering criticism. And those who’ve offered both. In the long run, it all helps.

I’m thankful for a warm house, a comfortable bed, food on my table, and the means to continue to have these things.

And I’m thankful to the Universe, in His/Her many faces and guises, for helping me shape my luck a bit now and then. 🙂

This is the greatest life I’ve ever known.

Turn it Down; Turn it Up

On the subject of manifesting Paradise in everyday life:

(to the tune of “Island Standard Time“) – you can click and play this while reading.

I made a change in my life about a month ago that is shifting more things in my world than even I had originally imagined. And this one change has me thinking today about how I – we, actually – can change our world by changing what we input *into* that world.

In short, turn down the negative; turn up the positive.

In my Secret Identity as a mild-mannered tech writer, my previous office was in San Jose, which was about an hour’s commute each way. Last year, my job function and responsibilities shifted significantly, to where I no longer had to work in a particular office to be near a particular product team. Since I work for a big company with multiple offices here in the Bay Area, I asked to be moved to an office in Pleasanton, about a third as far away mile- and time-wise. That move finally happened in late August.

I’d anticipated some of the improvements – an extra hour’s worth of productive time every day, less money spent on gas and tolls. What I *didn’t* expect was how much less stress I would have as a result of this one change. A lot of things that used to cause my gut to clench…don’t now.

Part of that is just not stressing the commute, or anticipating stressing the commute, which was *also* stressful. But now that I have a shorter commute that isn’t as variable due to traffic, I don’t listen to news radio anymore on my way to work, or if I do, I just turn it on for what I want to hear and then turn it off. This has reduced the amount of stressful input into my cognitive world by quite a bit. I still have my Internet news…but I can choose what to read and to not read that way, rather than taking whatever gets shoved down the pipeline at me.

Net result: I’ve turned the volume on my stress *way* down, by turning the volume down on several causes of stress.

Meanwhile, I’ve got that extra hour and a bit on each of the three days I used to commute to San Jose. What am I doing with that?

Part of that time is going toward being more productive in my Day Job. This gives me a sense of getting stuff done rather than chasing my tail, which reduces stress and increases positive feelings about *me*.

And part of it…when I get home, I am making more of a practice of just sitting out on the front porch with my drink after I get home, rather than just plugging myself into the Internet. And *that* is radically turning up the pleasure and relaxation quotient in my life.

When I’m feeling more confident and more relaxed, I’m also more likely to pick up the guitar, rehearse something, or work on writing something. When I *do* get online, I’m less likely to be dragged down by someone’s angry rants, and more likely to respond with humor, empathy, an attempt to turn someone else’s stress down and their relaxation and joy up. Which doesn’t always work, but is always worth trying.

Turning down the stress and turning up the joy. It’s a very simple equation. The important things usually are.

It’s easy to resist doing even the little things. Habit is a powerful master. But “if you can’t change your mind, do you still have one?” Try something small, like not reading something you know is gonna piss you off.

And a new saying, that I’ve just invented, borrowing from others: Minds are like diapers. Every now and then they need changing, and generally for the same reason.