the nightlies

You should go to sleep

I know.

Why don’t you go to sleep? You need to be up early in the morning.

I know, I’m trying.

If you don’t fall asleep soon, you’re going to be too tired to play well at your gig tomorrow.

Then why don’t you shut up so I can go to sleep?

I’m just saying, better hurry up and sleep. Like right now!

I can’t sleep until you stop talking.

[5 minutes]



Remember when you were 19, and you said that really smart-ass thing to your professor in front of some friends? You were too immature at the time to be embarrassed, but now you’re old enough to know better. Maybe now would be a good time to feel embarrassed about it.

WHY WOULD YOU BRING THAT UP! I was almost asleep!

I bet he’s still thinking about it.

He is not.

What if you run into him at a conference someday … what will you say?

I have no idea.

Well, why don’t you take some time right now to plan it out.

I just want to go to sleep.

“Sir, I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m the kid who …” I bet you don’t even get that far before he punches you in the face.

It won’t ever happen.

But what if it does? You should spent some time being worried about that.

[10 minutes]

You know, you really embarrassed yourself at that gig today.

Hey, that’s not fair. I’m still worried about the imaginary conversation with my former professor … you can’t add a second thing on top of that.

I’m just saying …

Don’t just say!

You will probably never get called by those guys again. You didn’t impress them much. Didn’t you used to be able to read music? What happened?

I haven’t been practicing like I should be. I haven’t been practicing at all, really.

I know, it showed.

Shut. Up.

The bass player from tonight is pretty well connected in town. I wonder if he’s talked to anybody else about how badly you played.

It’s only been 2 hours since the gig!

2 hours is enough time to send 120 text messages.

Thank you, Mr. Math.

I wonder if you’ll ever get called for another gig.


Well, why would they call you? You sure sucked it up tonight! There are hundreds, thousands of keyboardists in town who can do what you do, and they’re all better than you, and they practice more, and they’re younger, much younger, and they can work for cheaper than you can.


I’m just saying. Maybe tonight was your last professional gig ever.

I just want to sleep, man. Can you let me go to sleep.

Ok, sure. Sorry. Better hurry. Morning is coming soon, and the minutes are just ticking by. Even if you fall asleep right now, you’ll only get 5 hours of sleep.


[10 minutes]

OK, I have a question for you, jack-hole. How is it that you’re inside my brain, but I have no control over you.

I dunno.

I mean, shouldn’t I be able to shut you off?


Why do you get to keep taking over my brain and forcing me to think of things that I don’t want to think about when I’m trying to go to sleep?

I have no idea.

It makes you wonder how much of rational thought is the product of free-will, and how much of it is us constructing a justification framework around impulses that are much less reasonable than we imagine. Maybe intelligence is just a justification scheme for decisions already made for us by lower level impulses.

Could be.

So, does that mean that rational justification for actions is a personal myth, nothing more? The very thing that gives meaning to our narrative is a sham!

Sounds likely.

So life, and rational thought more specifically, is just a continual state of Apophenia, functioning after the fact of the action or thought, instead of prior to it. It’s us trying to find patterns and meaning in assembled sets of decisions and actions, rather than us directing those actions.

Wasn’t there a study a while back that suggested this very thing? It showed the chemical reactions of certain brain processes relating to choices starting prior to any brain wave activity that would indicate that same choice being cognitive?

Yeah, I think so.

You think so?

Yeah, I think I read that, but I don’t really remember.

Well, don’t you think you should go look it up?

Yeah, probably, I think it was on … HEY, I’m trying to SLEEP! QUIT IT!

I didn’t start this one.


[20 minutes]

Only 4 weeks until classes start. Have you finished planning out your lectures yet?


This is the year.

The year?

The year that everyone finds out you’re a fraud.

I’m not a fraud.

Of course you are. You’re not qualified to teach any of those subjects.

My peers seem to think I am.

That’s because you’ve fooled them. But it can’t last forever. This is the year they discover that you’re just a fumbling, non-practicing, barely coherent, lazy fool. Goodbye, Academia. Goodbye cushy job, goodbye office, goodbye medical benefits, goodbye professional reputation.

I’m not going to get fired.

No, probably not. Worse, they’ll keep you around, but they’ll only let you teach Music Fundamentals. You’ll have to wander the halls of that place for another 30 years, never able to look anyone in the eye, because they know what you really are.

That’s a horrible thing to say.


You’re not sorry.

Of course not. I’m you, and you’re never sorry for anything you’ve ever done.

That’s not true!

Think about it. Think about all the awful things you’ve done that you’re not sorry about.

I don’t want to! I want to sleep!

So do I, but I can’t until you’ve thought about every embarrassing moment, every stupid thing, every failure, every wasted opportunity you’ve ever had, until you’ve thought about every obligation you can’t fulfill, every person you’ll let down, every responsibility you have to organize over the next 4 weeks, until you’ve processed every possible rabbit trail of thought in your silly little fraudulent head.

I will kill you.

Ha! How?


Yeah, that might work. How many more nights of this, you think, before you become an alcoholic?


21 thoughts on “the nightlies

  1. Nick

    I wonder if anybody really feels comfortable where they are…like “I belong here, and I know everything about this job.”

    Maybe if you’re at a point where you can be on auto-pilot, and never feel like a fraud every now and then, then maybe you’re just short of where you’re supposed to be. Maybe it’s good to keep the learning curve high. Just think of how awesome you would be right now at what you used to do…like being a college student. I hope that makes sense.

    I’ve heard that voice, too (the “this is the day you’re found out” voice). It’s good to know I’m not the only one.

  2. Gretchen

    ooh this makes me sad because I’m laughing so hard, knowing that this is totally a nightly occurrence. I’m sorry babe. You are funny. You are not a fraud. The exercise thing would probably be good for both of us. We have a fridge full of beer, and a huge jug of rum, and I’m a little worried. Not really. I mean I won’t lose sleep over it or anything.

  3. michael lee Post author

    [quote comment="111053"] I mean I won’t lose sleep over it or anything.[/quote]

    Nice, babe. Very nice. You always were the empathetic one.

    [quote comment="111038"]Yea, exercise is good. Just don’t exercise too close to bed time.[/quote]

    Cool. I’ll add that to the list of things that I worry about not doing enough of.

  4. Chad

    [quote comment="111038"]Yea, exercise is good. Just don’t exercise too close to bed time.[/quote]

    Cool. I’ll add that to the list of things that I worry about not doing enough of.[/quote]

    The good news is that when The Dailies World Tour ’09 starts, I’m gonna totally make you my exercise bitch and you’ll totally thank me for it.

    I mean, really. Can you imagine how crazy I’d be right now if I weren’t exercising?

  5. aly hawkins

    Dude. This was SO me last summer. Only I didn’t have a lot happening on the professional front, so I was only worried about my husband and all my friends finding out about my fraudulence. (How messed up is it to know you’re having a nervous breakdown but to still feebly hope that you make mental and emotional smithereens look good and right and perfectly sane?)

    I’m convinced that God had to come up with something as crazy as Grace to get around the fact that none of us would ever believe we deserve to be saved from the inescapable hell of our neuroses, because of the inescapable hell of our neuroses. Even if we did deserve it, we wouldn’t believe it.

  6. Daniel Semsen

    Listen here dude-they asked ME to teach a class or two. If they want ME to teach a class–and you are wicked-crazy-smarter than I am–then I REALLY think you don’t have to worry about getting fired, being found out as a fraud, etc, etc, etc…

    Not to mention there are plenty of morons (at schools all over the country) teaching crap they are not qualified to teach. You are plenty freaking qualified to teach the crap you are teaching. So go teach some crap-and teach the hell out of it!

    And yes, I would turn to exercise before I turned to scotch. No one has died from drinking too much jogging…err…something…

    but it DOES relieve a lot of stress.
    The jogging.

  7. Nick


    Umm, it almost looks like you said you were going to make me your exercise bitch. I assume you’re talking to Michael.

    Either way, I have a bowflex, and I guess I can bring it on tour.

  8. michael lee Post author

    It’s not like these are rational thoughts … that’s kind of the whole point. It’s not the kind of thing that you can argue your brain out of thinking, though I do appreciate the effort.

  9. Chad

    [quote comment="111324"]Chad,

    Umm, it almost looks like you said you were going to make me your exercise bitch. I assume you’re talking to Michael.

    Either way, I have a bowflex, and I guess I can bring it on tour.[/quote]


    Well… no. I was talking to Mike. :) Never tried the bowflex… good?

  10. Brian Monroe

    I’m excited to take classes from you!!!! Don’t worry about the scotch… just switch off every other night with nyquil and you’ll be fine =)

  11. Nick

    The bowflex is a great workout. It’s very versatile, and it doesn’t take up much space. I would say it’s a little better than machine weights, but not as good as free weights. It seems like they advertise that it’s as good as free weights, but there’s no substitute for dumbbells and bars.

    I’ve had mine for almost 10 years, but I haven’t been consistent. I would say that I use it about 30 times per year…you know, when I get inspired. But it has held up perfectly.

    To get yours, just go to Just kidding. I felt like I needed to wrap up this commercial.

  12. harmonicminer

    Never argue with your other selves… it only encourages them. (What? You only have one? Lucky you. Hmm… come to think of it, it’s easier if you have TWO… you can get them to arguing, and they’ll leave you alone.)

    See, the thing is, your other selves are frauds, too. They don’t know what they’re talking about any more than you do, and they’re even less competent, if you can imagine that. Consider… they only talk to YOU. How much are they going to learn from THAT? Whereas you get to talk to other people… you occasionally learn something, even if just by accident.

    You should hear what the bass player’s other selves are saying to HIM.

  13. JC

    Michael: Great post..just read it aloud to my wife and I was cracking up the entire time. Reminds me of all the self-doubt I had over my career. I could look at all the successes and still find reason to believe that I wasn’t smart enough, working hard enough, or deserving. I was going to say that it’s great to hear I wasn’t alone, but it actually makes me a little sad that talented people like you actually lose sleep due to self-doubt. One of Satan’s more effective weapons unfortunately. Hey man…I believe in you.

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