Everyone has a moment of "So this is what goes on behind the scenes..." at some time in their lives. Do you know what I mean? That moment when you walk into the kitchens in a restaurant, or when you were shown the cockpit of an airliner. And rolling up your sleeves and working behind the scenes (moving away from the cockpit example) gives a new perspective to something you never really thought about before, something that before you took for granted. Before, you were a consumer. Maybe you were aware, a little, of what went on, but you weren't involved.
I worked as a waiter, which was hard work and showed me what it takes to feed 180 people more or less in one go, but I think most people have sat in a restaurant and thought "What IS our waiter doing? Chatting with the other waiters! I bet our food's going cold somewhere." So it's not like the inner workings of a restaurant are out of the normal field of thought. Same goes for a newsagents.
The first time it really hit me was at university. I'd just joined the student radio station executive committee (for executive committee read 'people who spent more time in the station than in lectures') and there was a semi-dull student referendum going on that I was sitting in on to vote on a few things. There were maybe seventy or eighty people there, and things were only just getting enough votes to be judged as there-or-there-abouts democratic. The university was so-so political, with a few extremely fervent societies. One of these wanted to protest the increase in university fees, and suddenly tabled a motion to go and occupy the main university administrative building - immediately.
There weren't enough people for a vote, and the mediator asked people to go and get other students to vote. Caught up in the urgency and excitement of the moment, people went out and asked their friends, "Hey, are you doing anything? Do you want to go and occupy Senate House?" which isn't exactly democracy in action, but after a crazy ten minutes the now-packed referendum meeting voted hugely in favour of a demonstration and the crowd began pouring out of the Student Union. Caught up in the flow, I spotted another guy from the radio station disppearing off into the Union Building and it hit me that rather than joining the crowd in the demonstration at this point I should be joining him instead. Bounding up the stairs to the station to grab a minidisk recorder and mic (a moment's silence for the minidisk, ladies and gentlemen...ok) it hit me that I was outside the normal experience of the day's events, that my 'The Day We Stormed Senate House' was going to be different to most other people's, and I would be doing something different.
Half an hour later I was clambering over other student's legs as they staged a sit-in and I tried to get around the admin building, standing by on my mobile phone, providing odd little reports here and there about what it was like, who was there and whether or not the Vice-Chancellor had been let out of his office yet. The occupation went on for six or seven hours (there was a large ball that night, so people started drifting off when it got time to get ready. Viva La Revolucion!) but in that time, in putting together voxpops for local news channels and keeping up coverage on the station, a lot happened behind the scenes.
My job now is completely different in duty, but in one respect a bit similar. If it's done well, the people it's intended for will never notice the work you did. It's all done in the engine room.
That feeling of being in the engine room - where a lot is done in order to maintain an effect - the duck floating serenely while paddling like hell beneath - I like it. I like being in the engine room. In some ways, it's hard to resist.
I know few people who love books passionately without wanting to write them. With the really great, consuming love of music comes the desire to make it.
Work excepted, I feel...on the wrong side of the door at the moment. I get up in the morning, eat my breakfast reading Fark while listening to music, go to work and read a book or Metro on the train, get to my desk and work for the day listening to music, maybe read some more over lunch, listen to music and read on the way home, and when I get home Krissa and I watch TV or a DVD, I play a video game or fart around on the internet...always consuming, always sitting and absorbing, being shown.
Never in the engine room.
Now I like to steer clear of New Year's Resolutions. I prefer having a To Do List, which I sort of forgot to do last year. Ha ha. Um.
But still, a couple of fancies have seized me of late, and I think I'll take one of them up. I'm just not sure which.
Rather unfortunately for you, considering that this post is already bloody long, one of the fancies struck me after three or four things; hearing a cool brass/string section in a Brazilian song at the in-laws' over Christmas, being jealous of Beth's boyfriend Eric's decks, discovering M : 1,000 Year Mix by Ergo Phizmiz, and Krissa's by now rather predictable remark when she spotted me playing with the iTunes mixer at the New Year's Eve party: "I always know where to find the DJ".
"Ex-DJ" I think to myself. I loved doing that, but I don't think I could do it again. I'm too wrapped up in my own tastes, which are...um...broad. I'd love to be able to tinker with music though. Blend, strip, loop and tweak. On a computer, mind. Software being cheaper than hardware, and not requiring on-the-spot genius. I used to do a fair bit of audio production at RaW, so I know my way around the sound software up until about 2002.
So that's a possibility.
The other one is drawing. I doodle, I sketch, I scribble, and I love doing it. I'm a fan of Sarah, Sally and Julia, and Nick is bloody brilliant. I also just got my hands on a big bundle of comics - a mixture of vintage and modern stuff, and reading Neil Gaiman's introduction to one of the books made me think about narrative flow, and how comics, writing and storytelling can work together. We're not talking about this becoming an online-presencey activity here because I don't have a scanner, but I'd love to take this up more seriously.
So that's a possibility too.
Of course, I have a strong history of going through hobbies like this in an intense but faddish way, but if I started to discount things before trying them I might as well give up now, right?
So...which do you think?