I am an artist.
But I am not “working” as an artist right now because artists don’t work—they create.
I am working; however, I’m working 50 hours a week as an assistant to my brother at his car wash/detail shop.
I have learned a hundred new skills in the last two months, such as shadowing, watching, listening, and mimicking my brother. I have revisited my chemistry studies and freshman knowledge of pH levels.
I have learned “problem, product, process” and countless other acronyms, shortcuts, slangs, and shorthands in order to effectively speak the language of the new business I am in now.
I worked so hard and absorbed so much—so fast—that I was charged with training new employees at this company.
But none of these new skills have a direct correlation to live music, drumming, performing, or my pre-COVID-19 life in general—at least at first glance.
I put in these hours, sweat, sore muscles, aching back, throbbing feet, and bloodied hands because he’s my brother, and I’m grateful that he gave me the chance to earn a living at a time when all seems lost for performing artists like myself.
I have chosen not to complain—I have adjusted.
But still, I am angry.
I’m a loaded gun and an itchy trigger finger with no good target at times.
I see my best friends around me losing gigs, worrying about the future, and not knowing how to put food on the table or how to take care of their loved ones.
I also see some of my best friends offering to help those in need and also discreetly buying groceries or diapers for anyone who is in dire need.
As Mr. Rogers said, I looked for the “helpers.” I saw them with my own eyes, and I knew this world is not ending.
Back to my first glance.
Back to my second glance.
My job didn’t teach me anything about being a better artist—that’s bullsh*t.
Let’s breathe and look at it. Fine detail and precision is now the name of my game.
I am trusted day in and day out with treating, coating, and protecting people’s mobile investments that cost them literally hundreds of thousands of dollars—we only get one chance to get it right.
Applying a seriously acidic chemical to a paint coating in under three minutes, clearing it, and returning the surface to even pH levels without damage takes a calm, precise, and sure hand—it’s not something I’ve been known for in the past.
I usually do it big, loud, and unapologetically.
My nickname on stage is “Thunderfoot.”
What about thunder, bashing, and crashing? What about volume and pressure? Sounds like calm, precise, and sure-handed to you—it’s even the same damn limb.
But at second glance, that is what I do now. That is who I am, and how I perform.
So when we all come back in 2021, and we’re at the shows, and this f*cking nightmare is over, I may well be a different artist.
An artist creates.
An artist creates opportunity and makes something out of nothing.
I am logging these moments of dullness and minutia and working a job I’m so grateful to have, and which many I know would categorically classify as blue-collar—less than or even low.
I am taking these moments of precision, high-pressure execution—most of all, care—and cataloging them. They are all being filed under a tab called, “How to do things.”
As Jim Croce called them, I will take these “working at the car wash blues” and turn them into beautiful music when the time is right.
It’s not right now.
But it will be right—I promise.
“You’re sweaty, aching, loving, and missing you to death. You’re a drummer above all things, Mikey,” I keep telling myself.