Aaron

Paper Route or Dairy Cow?

I like to tell people I used to be in the newspaper business. It sounds respectable and it’s true. Yes, ok, fine, it’s also true that I only delivered the paper, but still…I technically was in the biz.

Besides, if the Grand Forks Herald didn’t have me and my Huffy mountain bike, how would Mr. Johnson have kept up-to-date on the latest world news? What would accompany Mrs. Queen and her morning coffee?

“Should I get a paper route?” This is a question nobody has ever asked me. But if one day I get the pleasure, I’ll have something to say because I have thought about it quite a bit.

The first thing I’d do is ask this person whether they’ve ever thought about owning a dairy cow instead of getting a paper route. I know that might seem like an odd thing to ask, but really it makes a lot of sense.

Because the business hours of both a paper route and a dairy cow are about the same: up before the devil, seven days a week. Want to know another thing they have in common? The news cycle and a cow’s milk supply don’t take vacations.

Now let’s just imagine for a minute that you absolutely have to miss a day. Well, it’s going to have to be a very serious excuse. Nothing like weddings and funerals (except your own funeral) will do. Maybe you break both your legs. That’ll work. So while you’re waiting for your legs to heal, you need to have a friend who owes you a big-time favor cover your route. This friend needs to owe you big time because your paper route doesn’t pay so hot. It’s also extremely complicated to know all the details of each person’s delivery (e.g., Mrs. Olmsted – leave a paper on back step. Mr. Anderson – leave paper on porch. Mrs. Dahl – leave on table in kitchen, start coffee maker, and feed cat.) So the learning curve is steep and the ROI pathetic. So, Step 1: have a friend. Step 2: make sure this friend is fairly intelligent. Step 3: make sure this friend is in your debt.

Something else to consider. One morning as I was peddling to my last house, I realized that my pack felt a little light. Sure enough, one tiny little paper short. It could’ve been my fault. It probably was. I must have dropped it. But in the name of journalism (and also because it was company protocol) what did I do? I rode my Huffy to the Holiday gas station and bought a paper with my very own, hard-earned 75 cents, got back on my horse, and delivered that news like I was Paul Revere.

Was I late for school? Yes. But a more important question is, did I get the message to the people?

I absolutely did.

Anyway, back to whether you should get a paper route. I think it should be clear by now that you should definitely get a dairy cow.

Love,
Aaron

Part 2: Why I Don’t Tour (Very Much)

In last week’s blog post Why I Don’t Tour (Very Much), I gave a long explanation that basically boiled down to, I don’t tour because I don’t like to. But some of you responded and asked if I’d give a more in-depth answer on the “why” part. Here it is.

People say follow your dreams. I agree. But it’s a little more complicated than that, right? Because following your dreams assumes you know who you are. Sure, they’re related, but if you’re solid on the first part, the second part is easier. But for many of us, we figure out the first part long after we’ve been chasing our dreams down a road that maybe isn’t quite the right fit for who we are. 

I was already way down the, let’s call it the “Touring Artist” road, before I realized three things: 

  1. Community and family mean the most to me. As soon as I realized that, it was nearly impossible to reconcile it with a life of touring. It’s extremely difficult to be tied to family and local community when you’re always gone. That’s obvious. You miss the little things. And the little things add up over time. Sure, you can try make it for birthdays, anniversaries, and those big life moments. You can even FaceTime, etc. But what about the times when you’re just sitting around on a normal Tuesday evening and somebody says something, and you all start laughing? It’s hard to explain, because, as they say, I guess you had to be there. 
  2. I struggle with anxiety and depression. Touring exacerbated both, but they were also part of the cause. I used to go hide out in bathrooms before a show, splash water on my face and try to gain composure before going on stage. I thought I was going crazy. I kind of was, because I’d started to normalize those feelings and experiences in my head. It wasn’t a sustainable trajectory. Thankfully, over 10 years ago I got help. Whenever I tour now, I have better tools to deal with it in a healthy way. 
  3. “Doing music” doesn’t have to look a certain way. Let’s say you’re a carpenter. You can do a lot of different things within the construction industry. You don’t have to build houses. You could be a trim carpenter. You could build canoes or beautiful custom paddles like my friend Josh. You could do a lot of things. The music industry is like that. But I thought in order to be a successful musician I needed to write songs, tour, and hopefully end up on the Tonight Show. But that’s not true. Just because I was a carpenter didn’t mean I had to build houses. 

Love, 
Aaron

Why I Don’t Tour (Very Much)

Imagine you wanted to be a pilot. The idea of flying, seeing the world like a bird — you couldn’t get it out of your mind. 

So you went to college, you studied flying, you learned everything. Got your million hours or whatever. People knew you as a pilot. They’d look at you with those pilot-loving eyes. But for some reason, it just didn’t seem quite right. You weren’t happy. 

One day, as you were flying passengers from here and there to everywhere, it occurred to you what had been bothering you all along. The irony was so embarrassing that you couldn’t even admit it to yourself. Until you finally did and started laughing out loud in the cockpit. 

And your co-pilot asked you what was so funny, and you said you’d just realized you hated traveling. 

A pilot that hates traveling is similar to an artist who hates to tour. Don’t get me wrong, I like planes and flying and being up in the air. It’s just all that other stuff I don’t like. 

Be home for supper. 

Love,
Aaron

An Open Letter to Mitch Garver of the Minnesota Twins

Dear Mr. Garver,

My 7-year-old son Silas gets a penny per weed he picks in his mom’s garden. 

One morning last week, before the fog had even lifted, I saw him from our kitchen window on his hands and knees, working with the focus of a labrador digging up a bone. What could possibly be motivating him? What inspired the swift pulling of exactly 400 weeds, I’d come to learn, on an early Wednesday morning? 

A Mitch Garver 2019 Topps baseball card he’d discovered on eBay for $0.99 ($2.99 s&h). 

Thank you for inspiring him. He watches all your games and imitates your catcher idiosyncrasies. Whenever I tell people that you’re his favorite catcher, he corrects me.

“No, player, dad. He’s my favorite player.” 

All our love,

The Espe’s 
Nashville, TN

Silas catching Garver style (i.e., leg out to the side rather than crouching).

Bob August (Traffic Report)

(#2 Kids Songs In Progress)

In Nashville if you’re listening to the radio, Bob August pops in from time to time to give an update on the traffic. His voice is warm and familiar. Makes you want to send him a Christmas card. I wrote this little kids type song for Bob August. God only knows how much road rage has been averted due to his daily cameos.

Love,
Aaron



LYRICS:

HIGH UP IN A HELICOPTER
BOB AUGUST LOOKS DOWN BELOW
TELLS THE CARS WHICH WAY TO GO
IT’S CALLED THE TRAFFIC REPORT

SOME DAYS HE SAYS THERE’S A WRECK
THAT THEY HAVEN’T CLEARED JUST YET
ALTERNATE ROUTES ARE YOUR BEST BET
THAT’S THE TRAFFIC REPORT

TRAFFIC JAM, TRAFFIC JAM
TRAFFIC JAM NO THANK YOU MA’AM
SO WHILE I EAT MY EGGS AND HAM
I LISTEN TO THE TRAFFIC REPORT

SOME DAYS RAIN COMES POURING DOWN
BOB AUGUST STILL HANGS AROUND
HELPS ME GET BACK HOMEWARD BOUND
ON THE TRAFFIC REPORT

TRAFFIC JAM, TRAFFIC JAM
TRAFFIC JAM NO THANK YOU MA’AM
WHILE I’M ON THE ROAD AGAIN
I LISTEN TO THE TRAFFIC REPORT

SOMETIMES IT’S A SPECIAL DAY
BOB AUGUST HAS NOTHING TO SAY
GO ON FOLKS YOUR REGULAR WAY
AND THAT’S THE TRAFFIC REPORT

TRAFFIC JAM, TRAFFIC JAM
TRAFFIC JAM NO THANK YOU, MA’AM
SO WHILE I EAT MY EGGS AND HAM
I LISTEN TO THE TRAFFIC REPORT
TRAFFIC JAM, TRAFFIC JAM
TRAFFIC JAM NO THANK YOU MA’AM
SO WHEN I’M ON THE ROAD AGAIN
I LISTEN TO THE TRAFFIC REPORT