In Which Ryan Works A Lot
January 2023 | 4:1
Kitten Goomba says if it's comfy, it's a sign that it's ok to go back to sleep.
What's Been Happening
December was a full month by any standard, and I was blessed per usual with opportunities to write, and play, and teach, and travel, and pontificate, and see family and friends, and occasionally even sit down or sleep. While I am truly lucky and tend to deflect credit, it’s worth noting that I’m well aware that I work very hard to create the conditions to be that lucky, which leads to my main thought for the month.
For anyone who doesn’t know, over 10 years ago I dealt with a major depressive episode to the point that I self-hospitalized and ended up delaying my move to Chicago and the start to my graduate studies. A lot of that month or so of recovery was spent at my parents house in bed in my childhood room in a dissociative state fighting to keep the conscious part of my mind that knew things could get better in charge. “Month or so of recovery” also implies a finite stop point, which for me at least is an inadequate description; I’m doing well and have been for years at this point, but really that just involves continuing to do the things that have set me up for success and coping with the rest as it happens.
A couple nights ago, I woke up in the same bed and room and my mind started going to all the various things I’m working on and the vast responsibilities I’ve been entrusted with. Before I could really even wake up or let that turn into negative stress, my wife snuggled up against me and put her arm around me, and taking Goomba’s advice it was comfy so I went back to sleep.
Nothing was truly different in the world, but everything in my world is truly different. It can always be worse, but it can always get better. Whoever needs to hear it; it’s a lot of work, but an opportunity to do the work is no small thing.
May your masks smell pleasant and your packages arrive without incident,
Chart O' The Month
This album is actually the one that first inspired me to say I should really review, learn about, and promote my friends' music. A few years back I realized I didn't have a lot of those same friends' records so I went on a shopping spree and started listening. This one is the one I knew would be good, but not THIS good, so it's well past time I included it here even though I haven't gotten to sit down with Jon and nerd out about it.
Similar to the trio record I shared a couple months ago, all the personnel are staples of the Chicago scene so I was excited to see what they brought to the project, but the fascinating part to me is how Jon brought everyone together and drew out aspects of their musicianship I either didn't know or didn't hear before this. For starters I didn't know the depth of Jon's compositional let alone lyrical chops, but also I knew Leslie Beukelman from working in more pop-based contexts, Rob Clearfield from straight-ahead small group settings, Matt Ulery as an amazing composer, and Justin Thomas as probably the best improviser I've ever been around. I had no doubt before hearing a single sound that they would make great music, but the way everyone fits together like a well-oiled machine I didn't know could exist is magic to me.
Below is a link to the album on bandcamp where you can stream or download sample tracks and order a physical CD, so go do that now before moving on to the fancy nature pictures.
This is a bluebird from my parents' back deck in Northern Virginia. We're back to animals over plants (sorry), but in addition to being very pretty he just seems very intent on his staring context with the railing. Here's hoping he won.
Happy conference season! I’ll be at JEN this week per usual, and possibly ILMEA and TMEA in the next several weeks so please reach out to say hey if you’re attending.