I recently moved down to the base of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle into a pre-World-War-II brick building with plenty of old world charm. I like it here, I can walk to anywhere I need to go. Elliot Bay and the Puget Sound are just a short walk away, and I enjoy the sun and the sea breeze at the Olympic Sculpture Park down by the water. Kristie loves it because her work is just a short bus ride away and the bus stop is only a few steps from our front door. We've always dreamed of experiencing the hustle and bustle and the culture of city life, and I think we're finally feeling it. The suburbs seem like a distant memory of a time and place where we felt like we didn't really belong. Maybe someday we'll move back with kids in mind, but for now we are happy.
Summer in Seattle is refreshing. I always find it funny when Seattle-ites complain about the heat. It's like they're so used to complaining about the rain that they have nothing to talk about in the summer unless they complain about the sun. It'll be 75 degrees with a cool breeze and I'll hear them complain, "It's soooo hotttttt!" Seriously? Try enjoying Miami this time of year. I don't think I've ever been as uncomfortable, sticky and sweaty, as in Florida in the summer time. Seattle is the greatest place in the world to spend your summer and if you don't agree, I will fight you.
Portland and Vancouver are pretty good too.
But don't get me wrong. It's not like I'm a mountaineer, braving the terrain of our great state on a daily basis. Especially right now as I've just returned from tour. I suffer from some of the symptoms of Tour Mode. Tour Mode is a mental state that naturally takes precedence when a person who has spent much of recent years on tour returns to the road after a long break. As some of you know, we recently did a week with Owl City and Relient K, and on Saturday we head out to headline some shows on the way to some summer festivals. So I'm at home, still in Tour Mode, not knowing how to cope with this week in between. My symptoms are sleeping in, lack of direction, wearing only my underwear, strumming cliche chords on the guitar and overall laziness. All of these can be summed up in one symptom: Home Madness.
Home Madness is different from Road Madness. Road Madness is what happens after about six weeks on tour, but can vary depending on the frequency of quality sleeping arrangements and overall tour hygiene. It's when the shows and towns start to blur, and when the artists start to lose focus of the real world. Every day becomes groundhog day, at which point it is tough to maintain any sense of conviction. After all, does whatever you do tonight matter if tomorrow night you'll be 3-5 hours away and have to do it all over again? Personal hygiene falls by the wayside, and the artist finds him/herself laughing uncontrollably at things completely irrelevant and un-hilarious. Garbage will fall out of the van when doors open, and nobody will have the conviction to pick it up. Instead we laugh with a glazed look in our eyes at disgusted onlookers. One symptom of Road Madness is the "Cobain." Its a blank expression; a glossy, tired look in an artists eye, usually as they stare at a point just past their peers heads. All in all, it can become a savage place on the road if the entire band and crew are suffering from acute Road Madness.
Home Madness, however, is the result of culture shock. It's the effect of an abrupt transition from road life to home life. On the road, you have to be somewhere every day; there are errands, schedules to keep and priorities to maintain. There is a daily purpose. Your mind forms a routine, and then suddenly the bottom falls out. You wake up in your bed at home and its 12:30pm, and you have nowhere to be. All your friends are at work and the world outside is alive with people who continue their routines. And you are inside, alone and completely forgotten. This might have something to do with the contrast from stage to van, or fantasy to reality (or ego to humility), which is another phenomenon deserving of research in itself. Either way, as Home Madness takes it's toll, you choose to spend your days inside in your underwear, watching TV and cursing the outdoors. This is where I am. You see, my mind is in Tour Mode and I have no routine here, I am not working on any projects, I have no where to be, and the song writing part of my brain is like a bike with a flat tire. So I sit and wait for Saturday, when my mind will once again ski down that familiar slope and feel the comfort in the groove that it creates for itself.
With that said, I've decided to combat my symptoms. I'm going to put clothes on, put my contacts in, and go walk down by the water. After all its a toasty 72 outside and I can't wait to hear people complain.