You know how, when you partner with another human being, there are some things about that person that turn on all your endorphins? Qualities that impress you--but more than that, qualities that make your body feel lit up, that make you laugh or gasp or tear up with delight?
Biffle's creativity has always been one of those qualities for me. He sees the world in ways that I can't really imagine. Things that are intuitively obvious to him regularly strike me as surprising, hilarious, even transformative. This is the guy who, for one of his earliest woodworking projects, made this:
This is also the guy whose MFA thesis was an extensive community activist project* that engaged with gang violence in New Bedford, MA, in a way that was thoughtful, open, hard as hell to do, and beautiful.
Okay, so for the last few years, he's been doing some regular work. He's been playing music on a very regular basis, and he's been making furniture for folks. Both these activities are great forms of employment, but the thing that had started to become evident to me was that--sort of ironically--they weren't providing space for Biffle's creativity. At gigs he was playing other people's songs. He was playing those songs very well, with enthusiasm, energy, and varieties of different instruments, but he wasn't writing or recording his own music (you know, with 700 harmonies like he likes to do). Similarly, with the furniture he was making--it was fantastic, across the board. Stuff that would make your mouth water. But most people buying furniture don't want the Big Pipe, or the conscientizacao bird. The truly funky creative stuff Biffle is capable of isn't necessarily marketable.**
I've discovered that I've been missing that creativity, and I know for a fact Biffle has been, too, whether or not he's been aware of it.
January and February are the slow months for gigs, so Biffle's had some free time on his hands since the holidays. Maybelle and I went back to school on Monday, and what do you think Biffle did?
He thought about the fact that Maybelle, now with perfectly-hearing ears, is listening intently to song lyrics, trying to sing along.
He mused about how much she loves reading.
He reflected on the fact that she's incredibly fond of a song he wrote ages ago (engineered and produced by one of his best friends, Neal Cappellino, with Neal, Neal's wife Linnae, and me performing here and there on it).
And he taught himself to use iMovie so that he could make this:
Do I even need to tell you how I feel about this?
*Please note when you follow this link that it says the post is by Alison. It's really by Biffle. We updated our blog in 2006 and it changed all the names from the earlier posts. Everything from 2006 and back is switched.
**Can I go ahead and say officially, publicly, that I am happy to be the breadwinner? This man doesn't need to be marketable.