When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.

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Just wanted to put a snippet of one of my favorite memories in Arizona from this past year into this post so it doesn’t seem so bleak.

Sorry for the long absence, dear readers. Our September ended up looking completely different than I had imagined, and left me with little to write about. We came home in a “semi-surprise” for Labor Day, and ended up not leaving Buffalo until the 23rd of September. We took Greg’s old car to the three out-of-town gigs we had booked during this time (and saved a TON on gas as a result). It’s always nice to be home, despite the unexpected length of time we spent there this past month. As far as I know, I visited with most of the regular readers of this blog during that time, so there’s really not too much to say.

We’re back on the road as of two weeks ago. Things…. well, things have been a whole lot less fun lately, to use some PG phrasing. A lot of things that are usually a non-issue have become large, frustrating problems since we left Buffalo. A couple issues stand out as being major culprits in absolutely derailing our usual morale, including some surprising difficulty in re-booking a number of venues in the Southeast that we were banking on this coming winter, and a long, near two-week stretch without any shows in a part of the country with very little to do; even things like rising gas prices and poorly paved roads in the Midwest are causing friction in our day-to-day. But the biggest let down as of late is the fact that I’m now very abruptly down to one part-time job, and in my remaining position I know the company’s end goal is to replace me with a full-time, in-person employee. To say that I’m suddenly panicking about the future is an understatement. (Greg will tell you that I over-stress about these things, and he’s probably right, but the prospect of being down to naught but gig income at this point in our touring career is terrifying to me.)

So I’m scrambling. I don’t mind giving up late-night Denny’s and random souvenir shopping for myself, but the reduction of our income means we have a lot less “fun” in general. Because of the amount of sacrifices we’ve made to live this way (giving up a lot of privacy, no unlimited water and electric, no hot showers, sleeping in parking lots, etc) the recreation and touristy stuff that we do is  SO critical to making this whole thing enjoyable, bearable even. When all you do is bounce from truck stop to truck stop parking lot, and working in coffee shops in between gigs, things feel a little bleak.

I planned for this, I did. I expected rough patches. But to say that I haven’t been feeling more than a little dejected pretty often lately would be a lie.

That said, the thought of doing anything other than this (like moving back to Buffalo or finding an apartment) is quite honestly still extremely unappealing to me even now. At this moment, I don’t think I’ll ever move back to Buffalo on a permanent basis, and I certainly don’t know enough about anywhere else we’ve been to want to live there.

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The new baby. Ain’t she a looker.

So, we’re toughing it out to the best of our abilities. I’m working twice as much as I was before. I’ve pulled Greg into the booking process for 2019 as much as I can to help keep us on track there. I’ve been applying for any remote part-time work I can find. We’ve sort of thrown ourselves at the gym, too – we’ve been going for at least an hour 3 times a week rather than our usual stroll on the treadmill followed by a mad dash to the showers. We’ve also made some long-awaited upgrades to the van to improve our quality of vanlife now that long stretches at nice campgrounds are currently not in the budget. This has included a propane stove (two burners!), and – wait for it – a second generator. (For the uninitiated, we have a 6500 watt Onan generator that came with the van. It’s MASSIVE, and sounds like an entire fleet of diesel engines when it’s on. As a result, we can’t use it in parking lots or anywhere where people value the ability to hear each other speak.) This new generator is a 1700 watt Craftsman that sits nicely under ratchet straps on our back bumper and purrs like a cat when it’s on, plus it’s almost inaudible if you’re more than 10 feet away from it in a place with ambient sounds. We’re still working out some kinks, but both of these have given me something to work on and direct some of this frustration energy into.

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Hoping for less of all the former and more of this in the last few months of 2018.

We’re in Indiana now, biding our time until our next gig on the 12th in Michigan. I’m counting the days until we get to actually make some headway in a southern direction, which isn’t until early November. A change of scenery is definitely something that would do me some good. I’m pretty confident that things are going to get better sooner than later. We’re making plans for the entirety of 2019, and there’s a lot I’m looking forward to coming up in the next twelve months. I think we just got too lucky for too long, and the powers that be decided we needed to face a harsher reality for a little while. And that’s alright. It sucks, but it’s alright; we’ll be just fine.

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