Archive for the ‘Life’ Category
One of the nice things about my relatively new job is the work schedule. Being a green company, we’re encouraged to adopt a 45/35 schedule resulting in every other Friday off – thus saving gas and commuting costs. As eco-aware as I am, I was attracted to the idea of a string of three-day weekends more than the idea of being ecologically conscientious. In fact – I’ve used my car more on those Fridays off than the the five minute commute to work each day.
Take my most recent free Friday, for instance. My trek took me northward to the the big city in search of that holy grail of the female persuasion: a comfortable bra. My research pointed me to a little shop in a neighborhood I am well familiar with and as a result, I took a side trip down memory lane.
A few weeks ago I’d made contact with my best friend from high school. After about thirty-five years of wondering where each other was, Facebook provided the conduit for our re-connection. A few e-mails and a long phone conversation later, I was immersed in a flood of memories. I’m still searching for photographs after receiving some from her of the summer of our trip to Europe. But I digress…
When I got to the city, I drove by a couple of my childhood homes and went looking for my old high school. My last visit was with my brother ten years ago, but, oddly, I had difficulty finding it. I thought driving the route my mom took every school day would spark my memory of how to get there, but after winding through old familiar neighborhoods, I gave in and relied on an iPhone gps app to get me there. Embarrassing.
My school is abandoned now. Fifty-nine years old and she’s a decaying, weed-ridden and rusty old lady. As I drove around the building, echoes of memories bounced off the graffitied walls. My mind’s eye filled with ghosts of the football team practicing on the over-grown field, class-mates filling the breeze-way between the cafeteria and the main building; running down the hall to choir class…
I ‘came of age’ while at that school. From seventh through twelfth grade I matured from a goofy thirteen year old to a rebellious-ish hippie by graduation date. I found my ‘clique’ in tenth grade, fell in and out of love in pace with my surging hormones, experienced a string of ‘firsts’ and graduated amidst a torrent of teenage drama and looming adulthood. They were some of the best years of my life.
There have been some odd parallels to that time within the last few years of my life – not that I’m regressing to my teen years, merely experiencing changes, growth, new friendships, hormonal shifts… That high-school version of myself is always with me, though, reminding me to lighten up and keeping me as immature as I ever was.
I’m glad she’s stuck around. And sad that a symbol of that defining era will soon be eradicated and replaced to be remembered only within the yellowed and cracked pages of dusty yearbooks and a dwindling number of alums left behind.
Rest in peace old girl.
Pics: Sign: iPhone; Hallway: from Abandoned Oklahoma
As I sat in my corner of space in the back of the room, I longed for the once-held luxury of a private office. I fished a kleenex out of my drawer and feigned an allergy attack in a feeble effort to justify the tears that were creeping down my cheek.
Why was I crying? Moments before I’d opened an e-mail from someone I’ve been at odds with of late. The e-mail was from me to me. A year ago today, I composed an e-mail via FutureMe.org and set it to arrive today. I’d forgotten I’d done that – as I well knew I would.
The e-mail took me off guard – hence the tears. It asked about things that I’d hoped would come to pass and people who were in my life 365 days ago. I cried because of what hasn’t changed, for what did change and for what seems to have slipped away.
Aw hell, I cried because that’s what I do best. What follows is the e-mail and my answers to my past self.
Today is Monday, March 3 2008. I’m sending this while at work – are you still there?
Nope. We staged a bloodless coup and, long story short, the organization closed up shop. Currently I’m a week and a half from exhausting unemployment benefits and a couple of months away from finishing trade school. Should be a full-fledged Certified Bookkeeper by summer. Yay. Me.
It’s been humbling. Outwardly, I’ve embraced the opportunity to pursue a new path but, inwardly, I resent like hell that I have to. That I didn’t prepare any better. That a so-called retirement is all but out of the question now.
Angry. You betcha. I struggle with it every day. So far, Optimism is still packing a pretty sound whollop on Pessimism and Cynicism, but I can’t speak to it’s continued success.
As of today, you’re on the upswing from a miserable few weeks and months – pain, depression, health issues. Today you started to change your eating habits and have sworn to start yoga. Why? Because the blood pressure and the cholesterol levels needed to come down. Did you succeed?
Well, no. I did not succeed. Rinse and repeat. I bought a treadmill a couple of months ago. Only this week have I come to terms with using it. Two months now, I’ve managed to actually cook dinner the majority of evenings. I have a few hits amongst the many misses – but I am eating healthier than I have in many, many years – if ever. So I may be on the verge of a permanent change, but do not hold your breath.
In the last two days, you put your poker blog in stasis. How’s it doing? Do you still play poker?
The poker blog is dead, save for the couple hundred bucks a month it still brings me. If not for that, I’d erase it from the internet.
I do not play cards right now because I do not have the bankroll – neither for live nor on-line. Until my financial situation changes, that’s how it’ll remain. I miss it. I love to play. I just don’t ever want to write about it again.
Are you still writing Yes…a Blog?
Well, duh, yes, on and off. More off than on but, obviously I’m still making a stab at it. Writing a blog brought me a whole lot of good in the past. I hope it can again.
You’ve been planning – in your head – upgrading the house and backyard – did you do it?
Yes – partially. I landscaped the back yard and put in a new deck. I look forward to a great spring out there. It took so long to get done over the summer, I only got a couple of weeks out there before the weather changed.
Inside the house – no. The remainder of the remodel money is what is supplementing my unemployment for the time being.
Are you still in touch with your internet friends?
Barely. This is what I fear has slipped away. I’m not an outwardly social person which makes it hard for me to maintain friendships.
My default is to assume that if someone isn’t maintaining contact with me it’s because they don’t want to and so I refrain from making contact because I don’t want to intrude or, worse yet, be rejected out-right.
Yup. That’s pathetic with a capital P, but that’s how I’m wired.
It saddens me – I met some outstanding people and I would love for them to remain a part of my life, but I fear my crazy neurosis has let it all slip away.
Did you start your portfolio?
Well, yeah. With great timing – at the start of The Great Depression II. A third of it’s value has already washed away in the tide of the economic tsunami.
Are you going to retire in two years?
I have to laugh, because tears are redundant.
Are you happy?
The jury is out. Ask me again in another year.
(and Otis, if you’re reading this – yeah – what a coincidence that we both would’ve done a FutureMe e-mail on the exact same day… cue the spooky music… )
Ah. Well. Here I sit – and have been for a couple of minutes while listening to the first couple of spins off the last.fm wheel of fortune: John Hammond – Buzz Federline segued into Ludovico Einaudi – Fuori dalla notte… I don’t think there’s a better illustration of the flaky layers of my psyche…
The joke was on me this morning when I rushed out the door and to school only to discover school does not start until tomorrow. My two week hiatus had a bonus day. And with that bonus day went any further excuse for avoiding this space and picking the lint out of my navel.
So here I am. Pecking away at the the keyboard trying to figure out how I can summarize the last few months without wallowing in a slough of murky self pity…
It’s a funny thing about depression. It’s depressing.
Since typing that last sentence, Norah Jones, Eliza Gilykson, Eric Clapton, Johnny Lang and Jarvis Cocker have serenaded me.
I don’t seem to be able to wallow. Doggonit…
Doc Watson just sang to me:
…for I thought myself lucky to be alive.
That does a good job of summing up. No need to provide details.
This is a hard bicycle to get going… I’ve long been out of the habit and discipline of
writing (can I really call it writing? I think not – to do so insults those who have that talent and gift – let’s scratch that and say, instead) scribbling. It may take me a few pushes to get back up on the wheels…
I think I will leave it at that and, for the time being, point you to a few folks who provide barrels of inspiration for me as Donna the Buffalo reminds me to “wake up and light the tree that you’re on” – truer words… I expect to be back here more often now. Hope you’ll join me.
The following blogs are consistent must reads for me. I know two of the authors personally – two guys on opposite ends of the life pole who, but for a common passion, might never have met and become comrades at arms.
One channels Hunter S. Thompson and is living life on the razor’s edge, honestly and with no apology. He splashes his life onto the canvas with abandon and color and when he gets it – he gets it. Raw and uncensored.
The other uncannily and consistently gets inside my head – he is journalist, writer, photographer, family man, with a rogue-ish side, who lives a private life in a public way.
All four authors have that gift with their writing that elevates their personal experiences to a level of reflection that is universal and relatable. We share their lives through their words and are rewarded with insights into our own. Have a read or two or three while I do a little housecleaning. I’ll be back.
I got to put some things in the ground
Even with this season coming around
It’s green’s last gasp
And leaves brown
And autumn days are winding down
–Sara Hamer – Things to Forget
It’s not because I’m going dotty. It has happened twice a year, every year, for many years. So, it’s not a symptom of old age creeping near. No, really, it’s merely a symptom of the changing seasons.
You see, every spring and every fall I experience a few brief moments when I’m not sure what season it is. It’s a deja vu of sorts – when the weather mirrors where it was only a few months before. Are we moving from summer to fall? Or spring to summer?
Whatever it is, it signals my favorite times of year. Beginnings and endings, changing seasons, transition. Change. The air smells different. The breeze is clear. Nature is preparing – for hibernation, for awakening.
Since moving into my house nine years ago, I’ve witnessed what could be evidence of Brigadoon’s annual descension – right outside my backyard. Or not.
It’s a morning haze that tells me summer is over. Or winter. Sometimes I have to apply some thought to figure it out…
This past weekend, I went for a two and a half mile stroll in the woods with a friend. She called me up Sunday and said “You wanna go for a hike?” Without hesitation, I threw aside all plans (read: responsibilities) for the afternoon and said “Sure!”
We drove out to the local lake, plotted the “green” and “yellow” paths on the trail and set out. There was a light breeze through the trees, the temperature was perfect… About a quarter of the way down the trail was when I began to open up to the nature around me, lifting my eyes from the path before me.
There wasn’t much in the way of wildlife – trail-bikers had ensured that the critters were probably well off the trail in hiding. But there were sounds – birds, crickets, the trees whispering on the wind.
Near the end of our walk, though, we were rewarded with a brief glimpse of one of nature’s creatures – a deer who crossed our path, then disappeared into the woods.
As we wound around the trail, I thought of the conspicuous symbolism of the changing season as it relates to my changing life. As cliched as it is, it was inescapable. However, I didn’t dwell on it. Instead I opted to just enjoy the walk and take it at face value.
And perhaps that’s all I need to do, period. Lift my eyes from the path and just enjoy the walk.
Wow. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
I have to confess: I haven’t written in so long because, well, I’ve been mentally constipated. Truly – with my life (and the times) doing a 180 in the last couple of months, I think the sphincter of my capacity for self expression contracted tighter than prairie dog’s butt in a dust bowl (thank you, Dan Rather).
In what I hope turns out not to be a pathetic effort, I’m just gonna get rambling here to see what I can jog loose and, at the very least, get caught up on the doings in my little speck of the universe.
My Life and Welcome To It
I’m a week into what friends have dubbed The Transition. I’ve been unemployed now for two weeks and started school a week ago.
The day after my last day of work I felt a little discombobulated. It wasn’t like a sick/mental health day or a day of annual leave or a holiday. It was a you-are-now permanently-off work day and it felt odd. Not bad, mind you. Just odd.
I haven’t been unemployed since my late twenties. Oh, during my starving artist decade of my thirties, there was a smattering of no work here and there, but nothing extended and certainly no length of time that warranted collecting unemployment benefits – not that I could have collected at the time.
I have to pat myself on the back for impeccable timing. Who could have guessed that the collective mutiny at work would have landed us on the unemployment line right at one of the worst economic upheavals in modern times!
Setting the quickly evaporating hope of an actual retirement aside, though, this could end up being a positive thing. Oh, how, you ask, do tell.
Okay, I will.
For the next nine to twelve months, I’m on a fixed – and very tight – budget. I’m fortunate in that I had a nice soft financial cushion to fall back on. I’m relying on that to see me through for the next year while I regroup.
It’s limited, though. There’s X amount of dollars with nothing else coming in (aside from unemployment benefits which fizzle out sometime in March) which means I have to get frugal. This has forced me to scrutinize my spending and to begin to find ways to to stretch that dollar farther than a peasant on medieval torture rack.
I’ve mapped out a detailed budget (thank you Google docs – they’ve got some great templates just for that purpose) and identified areas that needed to cut – some easy, some not so easy.
My biggest area of wasted dollars is in food. I don’t, or didn’t, regularly cook for myself. I am a fast food and take-out junkie (Sonic burgers my drug of choice) which isn’t good for the pocket book to say nothing of the habit’s ill effect on one’s health.
I’ve set a target for weekly food expense and am determined that the food I eat will be generated from my kitchen. Period. I’ve managed to log one full week without slippin’ off the wagon – yay me.
One element that helps this effort along is the school I am attending is darn near out in the middle of nowhere, which makes lunch time treks near impossible. So, I bought a lunchbox and have been bringing my lunch every day which, by the way, has garnered some envious looks from other students who’ve lusted after my homemade chicken soup while they munched away at a box of microwaved, over-processed, and poor excuse for sustenance in the misguided belief that what they are eating is actually better than the fast food fare offered from the school cafeteria.
Speaking of lunchboxes, I’ll soon be replacing the one I have with a Bento Box.You may be thinking that that’s not exactly frugal, and you might be right – but, my reasoning which lead me to the purchase had to do with efficiency.
justification of purchase/ The Bento Box stores hot food and keeps it hot along with un-hot food. It will allow me to heat up my lunch before leaving for school in the morning and thus avoid the line at the microwave at lunchtime, as well as avoid microwave line social faux pas, like removing someone else’s meal before it’s done even though the timer’d gone off and it’s owner wasn’t standing there waiting on it and how was I to know it wasn’t finished yet?
With winter coming on, hot meals will be a comfort, plus I prefer to eat my main meal of the day at lunch. The Bento Box will hold more than will my little Target box. Plus, it’s just way cool./ justification of purchase
So, unemployment, radical life shift and an uncertain future, in the long run, may just turn me into a kitchen queen and budget diva – not a negative, to be sure. And in the meantime, I’m gaining new skills that just might be in greater demand once this economic crisis subsides – anyone think they might be in need of a newly minted bookkeeper in about, oh, say, nine months?
He Said, She Said, They All Said
How about that economic crisis, huh? How about those presidential campaigns, huh?
I’ve purposely avoided tuning in to the TV pundits this fall. Their egregious and willful ignorance (to say nothing of their bias) does nothing to keep my blood pressure down. Instead I’ve been hitting the internets, reading everything I can – pro and con – about the campaigns, the economy, et al.
I am so weary of the partisan shenanigans. How does one party dare to point the finger at the other? No-one has a clean record here. No-one doesn’t have a few bones rattling around in their respective closets.
And of course the tail-spinning economy is the Democrats fault. No, wait, it’s the Republicans fault. Ooops, no it’s Obama’s fault for his tax plan (which hasn’t been implemented yet because he hasn’t been elected yet – surprise!). No, wait – it’s McCain’s fault because he was buds with Charles Keating.
You know what’s really frightening? It’s the voters who make up their minds based on a few sound-bites on the evening news. It’s the noisome party die-hards who refuse to engage in intelligent and open minded discourse. It’s the, excuse me, idiots who can’t see past the propaganda and do nothing on their own to ferret out the facts.
Add to that the sorely misguided folks who opt not to vote at all, who do so out “protest” or to “send a message” or, even worse, just don’t care.
I have a very good friend who is a political officer for the State Department. In a recent conversation, he stated that he may not vote at all because there were aspects of both candidates’ platforms with which he strongly disagreed.
Well, I kinda lit into him. I was appalled that he would so blithely give up this most fundamental of rights. Especially given his position as a State Department employee!
I later got an email in which he stated my sermonizing had prompted him not to waste his vote after all. He found a party more in line with his views – the Green party – and he’s voting.
Folks, not voting isn’t the way to fix things. Not voting is saying “I don’t care. Do whatever you want.” Not voting inches the door closer to shut on our basic freedoms. Think about it. Think about the consequences if we all gave up that right.
Okay. Well, I think I’ve rambled on enough. I certainly hope I’ll be back here more regular-ly in the future (pun intended). In the meantime, I’d be interested to know how the economic turmoil has affected you. Have you made budget changes? Lifestyle changes? Let me know in comments.
Thanks for stopping by – before you go, enjoy some pics taken (with the iPhone camera) on the campus where I am attending school. Not bad for a Vo-Tech, eh?
I haven’t forgotten I have a blog here. It’s just that life has stepped and taken my attention elsewhere for a bit. My planned post was going to be about my life changes waiting around the corner. About all those things, ups and downs, one faces when at the edge of the diving board ready to jump off. In spite of the upheaval of my personal life events, my outlook is positive and optimistic. But today…. I can’t write about those things… yet. Right now, my life’s quirks and quakes just aren’t important.
Today I was reminded how brutally fleeting life is. I was reminded how fragile we are. I was reminded that no opportunity to let someone know you care should ever be ignored. Today I am broken-hearted. Today I learned that, late Tuesday night, one of the kids in our youth program committed suicide.
He was bright, personable and disenfranchised. A victim of circumstances that left him faced with decisions and responsibilities no one so young should have to endure. An individual who carried a heavy burden of pain no-one close to him fathomed.
I’m doing my best to avoid the what if’s. What if I’d stayed in touch more often. What if I’d gotten him to the workshop Tuesday… What if I’d…. Selfish sentiments, to be sure. The thing is, one can never do enough. One can only do what one can. The important thing is to do. Even the tiniest gesture may mean, quite seriously, the difference between life or death.
I will resist the urge to step up on a soap-box here. I will, instead, challenge you to perhaps to get involved in a young person’s life. Be a mentor. Take your kid fishing. Get to every ball game. Read to kids at the library. Camp out in the back yard with your niece and nephew. Be honestly interested in their lives.
Listen to them.
And let them know you love them at every opportunity.
I’ve enjoyed a small variety of jobs in my working lifetime. I’ve been a liquor store cashier, a candy store attendant, a file clerk for a tuna company, a psychiatric attendant in a mental hospital, an assistant stage manager for a summer musical theatre company, a union election monitor, a customer service rep for the water department, an actor, artistic director, sandwich shop minion, waitress, employment counselor, performing arts center director and then employment counselor again – my current job.
Of course, the most satisfying and longest periods of employment were as an actor and then artistic director of the small acting company I’d help to create. Second to that was my ten years as director of the performing arts facility.
But as satisfying as those jobs were, well, this is Oklahoma – a career in the arts will barely keep your cupboards stocked with Ramen noodles, to say nothing of paying the bills. My roots are deep here and, rather than heading for more verdant artistic real estate, I opted to stay and entered the eight to five world of a steady paycheck and health insurance.
That’s what I’ve been doing for the last eight and a half years. Collecting that steady paycheck and setting sights for a longed for retirement. It’s what you do when you’re my age – and those who don’t are just work-a-holic nuts. Or just plain nuts.
I figured I had about three years before even considering jumping out of the airplane (figuratively and literally – I’m planning the sky dive for number sixty). Funny how fast the worm can turn – hell, it can break the sound barrier in it’s speed. I’m standing at the hatch and about to be pushed into the great beyond like it or not.
As a Philly friend said this week – I hope my parachute will open. Strike that – I just hope I have a parachute.
So, what happened?
I work for an agency that is funded with federal money (administered by the State) to do what we do. The Feds, as we affectionately call them, decided that the States weren’t spending the money given them, which is in turn allocated to entities and agencies – like the one that employs me – to do what they do within their respective state.
Ten million dollars was rescinded from my state. Three million of that was due to an error in a report our state submitted to the Feds. That translates to a deficit of over a hundred thousand dollars in the budget of the agency which employs me. Which leaves us enough green to stay in business until about, oh, December.
There it is – I’m losing my job and the
incompetent jackass state official incompetent jackass who sent in the erroneous report gets to keep his. And don’t even get me started on our theory of the real reason the Feds took the money back. Can you spell I-r-a-q?
I expect extreme apprehension and maybe a little panic to set in in a couple of weeks or so. Right now, though, I’m fairly calm and resigned. Kubler-Ross’s first stage is denial, isn’t it?
I will be doing my best to see this as an opportunity – but, truthfully, right now I haven’t the foggiest of what I’m going to do.
Do I want to pursue another eight to five? Do I want to strike out on my own? Do I want my lottery tickets to hit?
Well, yeah on that last one.
Oddly coincidental, I’m an employment counselor (for a few minutes longer) working in an agency which is housed in the former veteran’s ward of the mental hospital where I worked as a psychiatric attendant – my first job upon returning to Oklahoma. There’s some irony in there somewhere….
I took in my surroundings, although a bit difficult since my surroundings wouldn't stop spinning. The signs on the door admonished me to keep my cell phone off, keep the door closed, and to not dare leave before Nurse Ratchet gave her permission.
On my left was a wall chart depicting various stages of eye disease. Staring back at me was a line of progressively worsening red and festering eyeballs. I wondered what zombie volunteered for the photo shoot. That had to be a creepy casting call.
Classic rock boomed from the overhead. "Sugar (ba-da-bum-bum bump-bum) oooohh honey, honey (ba-da-bum-bum bump-bum) you are my candy girrrrl…." Archies. Nineteen and sixty nine.
I checked out the drawers in the exam table. Nothing but cotton gowns and towels. I leaned my head back against the hard wall, closed my eyes and waited.
Nurse Ratchet arrived. I was weighed and BP'd. I gave her the synopsis of why I was there – weird episode of dizziness, clammy and general malaise that took longer to subside than usual. Oh, yeah, and there was this heart skipping thing.
"Ok, the doctor'll be in in a minute." Ratchet closed the door. I was alone again. The minute turned into several. I leaned my head back once more, closed my eyes and commenced with the "what ifs…"
I thought back to the conversation at brunch. "You are all in my ICE list," I'd announced.
"Ice?" queried friend Mark. "In Case of Emergency list," Norman answered. "You're in my list, too." I pulled out my i-Phone and showed Mark how I'd organized the list to be at the top of the contact list.
The conversation progressed to who had wills, living wills, executor's or not. We thoroughly covered the topic with a healthy amount of humor – har, har, as if any of that's gonna be needed any time soon.
Then I got dizzy. Real dizzy. Dizzier even than what's appropriate for a blonde. And clammy. And there was that heart skipping thing. George Clooney was no where to be seen, so it was skipping for another, more sinister reason I was sure.
I'm no stranger to dizziness. My mother and I shared the affliction of BPV – benign positional vertigo. We were in good company. Mamie Eisenhower suffered from it and was even accused of being an alcoholic because of it.
When it strikes, I will have days where walking into walls isn't unusual or I will have very brief spells of intense dizziness.
But this episode was different. The longer it went on, the more difficult it became to convince myself it was nothing. Finally, the indecision was taken out of my hands.
"We're going to the urgent care clinic. Now."
The doc appeared at last. He was affable and informative. He peered into my ears and throat, listened to my heart and my arteries. Good news – no unusual sounds. He queried me on my malaise, general health, et al, then surmised that it was most likely an inner ear thing, buuuut because there was that heart skipping thing, an ECG would probably be a good idea along with a blood panel.
I was left alone, sitting on the edge of the exam table, to wait again. A large, bearded man came in and announced he was there to stick me. Oh boy. A phlebotomist who's a comedian.
I bared the good arm for him – the one with a nice bulging vein. This guy certainly wasn't new school. No pillow on which to rest my arm… didn't glove up… had a nasty nail-biting habit… sported a gaudy gold ring… and just before sticking me says:
"The pointy end goes down, right?"
Take my blood. Please.
Next came the ECG with Ratchet. No nonsense – strip, exam gown on open in front, lie back, get ten electrodes stuck to various body parts and areas…. ECG done, she removes the hookups and instructs me to remove the electrodes myself.
"There's ten of them." I do as instructed, dress, and wait again.
It occurs to me that in the between times, the time waiting for nurse, blood-sucker and physician, I could have died several times. Oh, well.
I started to wonder about hospitals. The part of the earlier "what-ifs" I avoided. I wondered if I'd be able to go home first. Shower. Change my underwear…
The doc returned, ECG printout in hand and begins to explain it. Good news, it wasn't a flat line. Not so good news, there was a hiccup. In one four count bar, my heart fired too early. Percussion was never my strong suit.
"Not unusual, blah, blah, blah, noise, words, not listening anymore… …. …. but you should follow up with your doctor next week for sure."
"Will do," I promised.
I paid the piper then greeted my friends who'd waited it out – about an hour or so – in the appropriately named waiting room. I informed them I wasn't dead yet and actually was feeling better. Which I was.
Mark said something about ice-cream which resulted in a caravan to Target for some cold-stone ice cream. I love my friends.
The really disturbing thing about my little episode, is now when I hear "Sugar, Sugar" on the radio, it conjures up images of puss-filled eyeballs bulging from a large hairy man with a fist full of hypodermic needles cracking bad jokes.
"You are my candy girrrl – and you got me wanting you… heh, heh, heh….."
Make it stop.
It’s been a rough few days in the land of Yesablog. I only thought I was kidding about the withdrawal thing. Last week was just a warm-up for the real thing this week. I will never – and I mean never – put myself willingly through anything like that again. I’m about 85% out of the woods. Thanks to a ten day prescription of Ambien, I was finally able to get some real sleep – 16 hours worth – (you read that right) after two and a half days of mind-fucking agony.
During the past three days, I gained $600 via the hobby that will not be named here, ordered a pizza and cheese sticks – but don’t remember when – and scored a Wii. So some good came of it, however I don’t recommend the method.
I expect to be up to 100% in the next few days and will return to report on all things Wii. Why? Because I’m already loving it. The first game I bought was Endless Ocean and it is the perfect distraction for this shaky time – calm and relaxing.
In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to an internet neighbor’s blog. Gene recently returned from a trip to Viet Nam. Take a few moments to read his trip reports. Fascinating and compelling.
The M3SC, like the former M36, features a 3-piece back, but with an added striking visual and tonal feature — the center wedge is Indian rosewood, with solid mahogany wings, and solid mahogany sides. The rosewood center wedge in the back adds warmth to an already crystalline mahogany tone. This spectacular mix is highlighted by C.F. Martin’s renowned hand-polished, nitro-cellulose gloss lacquer finish.
Of the few folks who drift by this blog time to time, I know there’s at least one person, maybe two, who understand why the above quote makes me positively cream…
I returned to a familiar daydream today. One that brought back sounds, smells and sensations of a time long ago and which were intensified when I gave into temptation, fired up the browser and took a stroll.
Many, many years ago I fantasized about being the next rising star on the folk music horizon. My top heroes were the three “J-s” – Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell. During my high school years, most of my non-school hour time was spent with a guitar in my hands – I was either practicing or paying a bit of dues in front of an audience in the local coffee-houses.
I never gained proficiency on the guitar – picking patterns continually eluded me and were a source of great frustration – but, I never let it stop me from playing. I would spend long hours learning a tune, chord by chord, verse by verse. The song was ready for performance when I finally reached the moment when it would become organic. I didn’t need to think about the chords or the words or the tune – it would all just flow together and out.
There was a commercial that ran a few years ago that had a father and a young child sitting on a hill, under a tree, watching the sunset. The sun slowly dips below the horizon and then the young, awestruck child whispers “Do it again, Daddy.” It’s that kind of intangible magic moment that, when I’d hit it with a song piece, made me want to sing it over and over and over. It’s that intoxicating high that made me want to share it with an audience. I loved it.
College days and new interests kept the Gibson in its case for longer and longer periods as time went on. I finally sold it a couple of years after college when it came down to a choice between it or the camera and dark room equipment when I moved from Oregon back to Oklahoma. I couldn’t fit both in the car. Eventually, the songs left my memory, the callouses healed and my hands lost their familiarity with the strings and the frets.
Right now there’s a ton of good modern folk/accoustic music floating the airwaves and residing on a million iPods. Listening to it provoked me into buying a ninety dollar guitar from the local pawn shop a couple of years ago. I wanted to learn and play that music. I wanted to revive a part of me that had been in a deep sleep for a very long time.
The guitar was at home in my hands. The smell of it evoked remembrances of smoky coffeehouses and sitting alone on a stool on a tiny stage. My hands struggled through the first few chord progressions. Determination kept me at it while I attempted to learn a tune I’d craved to learn since first hearing it. My voice isn’t the voice of the singer I once was, but croaking out what I could while stumbling through the chords launched a time machine, of sorts, that took me back to that time when dreams were still possible and magic still happened. It felt good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t keep at it. Other distractions took my attention away and the guitar has remained a mere decorative item on its stand in the living room. Today, however, I felt the desire rise again after listening to a couple of great songs. The number of female artists is exponentially greater than it was in those coffehouse days and the songs they are singing are songs I want to play.
And it’s what, today, prompted me to type the magic words into Google which lead me the mecca of guitarists all over the world – the Martin & Co. website. I’ve had the desire to own a Martin guitar ever since the first callous formed on the fingers of my left hand. I came close – my Dad considered getting one for me as a birthday present one year, but stopped short when he saw the price tag of five-hundred dollars.
To buy the Martin I want, today would cost about three to four times that five hundred of thirty some-odd years ago. But, I’m really considering doing it. I hesitate, though, because I fear it would end up occupying space in a closet, rarely to be seen. That’s a lot of money to spend for something to toss the laundry on to. However, I’m lured by the tone, the look, the feel and the craving for the high of accomplishment I once felt so long ago.
Select abalone pearl inlays in the Style 45 rosette, and around the top and fingerboard extension, are highlighted by black and white fine line wood fiber borders. The Madagascar rosewood headplate on the square, tapered headstock provides the canvas for the rare Alternative Torch inlay…
I need a cigarette.
*Mortal lovers must not try to remain at the first step; for lasting passion is the dream of a harlot and from it we wake in despair.
-C S Lewis