Five Gigs in Eight Days

Setting up for a library event in a golf course clubhouse.
Pre-show with the Long Beds in Oshkosh opera house. (photo by Dave Power)

It’s early evening Sunday. Sun and shadows flattening across the grass that turned green while I was gone. It’s quiet here. Some birdsong, that’s it. After I parked the van in the garage I took a walk around the yard, looked out over the valley. I do that after stretches of being on the road. I love being alone. Love the stillness. The solid feel of the land underfoot.

And yet…

How grateful I am for this odd, asymmetrical career path I’ve landed on. In the past eight days I got a lot of writing done. That’s goal one. Or better be. But during that stretch I also delivered a keynote speech for the Municipal Treasurers Association of Wisconsin. Day after that I delivered the keynote speech for a university swine and poultry conference. Few days later I told stories at a library event in a golf course clubhouse. Next I gave a talk on the writing life at a writer’s conference. Then, last night, I took the stage in a vintage opera house with my friends and bandmates for a Long Beds show that turned into a real heartwarming barn-burner.

How do you wind up with this job? It’s a rhetorical question, only to be understood by unraveling the whole thing in reverse, an entertaining but ultimately non-replicable blueprint for middling success. Rather, I’d like to once again express my gratitude. I mean, I will break form for once and say, there is hustle happening. Boxes and boxes of books lugged. Sleep lost. Miles racked up. Countless hours put in to prepare for that hour or two when the microphone is on.

But also…

At every turn–whether it’s municipal treasurers or front of house sound techs or the volunteer at the merch table–I meet so many good people. Helpers. Volunteers. Folks who gave up their evening for this little homemade show. People with a kind word. Encouraging words. Solid eye contact. And because I have never been successful at identifying One Big Thing and Triumphing At It, I meet a mix of folks from all walks and ways, and have the privilege of observing firsthand and from ground level (merch-table level, handshake level) how much how many of us are in this thing together even if we don’t always realize it.

Thank you. I don’t know how else to say it. Maybe it was only seventeen seconds in the signing line, or how you said that thing I wrote helped, or just the nod from across the room as you ducked out the door after the show, but I don’t take an atom of it for granted, and if I’m happy to be home alone in the silence, it’s only because I’m carrying so many of your echoes with me.

See y’down the road.


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