Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jesse Winchester Sums It All Up

From Late Night Music Club, via Crooks and Liars:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Return of the Son of Stuff and Things

I think I may finally have found my sleep cocktail.  Last night, I took .5 mg of Ativan and 3 mg of Melatonin, and it seemed to work pretty well.  Finally!  Although the cat mewling at my door at 6 A.M. kinda ruined some of it, so I'm a little groggy for not getting the full night in.  But I think I'll keep trying this and see where that gets me.

Also, as of this morning, I'm down to 183 pounds.  That's 29 pounds down since December.  I had platteaued a bit, and even gained some back over Shamrockfest weekend, but I'm back on track and closer to my goal.  Actually, I don't really have a goal, I just want to be happy with where I am.  So far, I am, but I know I could do better.  And now that the St. Paddy's craziness is more or less over, I can get back to a regular gym routine.

The Prozac seems to have hit it's stride.  I definitely feel a lot clearer than I have in a while.  Now to see if any of the possible side effects rears it's ugly head.  I hope not, but I'm sure there's a way to deal with it if it does.  Hell, you'd think between two therapists and a physician, we could put our heads together and figure something out.  Better living through chemistry.

Still on the lookout for a CBT therapist.  The one my Psychiatrist recommended has a full dance card right now, so it's down the list I go.

Other than that?  Work, music, daughter, cat (not necessarily in that order).  And I'm seriously thinking about buying a mandolin when the funds allow.  Or a banjo.  That about covers it.  Oh, and the occasional meal.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ink Me

My first tattoo happened live on the air when I was a producer at WRKO.  Tattooing wasn't yet legal in Massachusetts, so we took our show up to Salem, New Hampshire, to a place called Dragon's Lair, run by the fabulous Jamey Proctor.  I got a radio microphone on my left bicep. 

I've been out of radio for 12 years now.  Alas, maybe I should get a screenshot of my low bank balance on my back or something.

But it was something I'd wanted to do for years.  I had a lot of friends who had tattoos, and even went to a couple of tattoo parties.  Unfortunately, finances got in the way.  Also, I really didn't know what I wanted to get.  So I waited for many years to get my first.  And it's true what they say, they're addictive.  I have five now, all in anatomically appropriate places (all on my arms, actually), and I want more.

My second one came a year later, again courtesy of the Reverend Proctor.  It was a Spiderman image that I'd seen on the cover of Wizard magazine.  Aside from the comic book geekishness of it, it was also a tribute to a man who, when I first started reading as a child, gave me all kinds of thrills to feast my mind on.  My parents instilled in me a love of reading, but Stan Lee was my main source for many years (along with Twain, Matt Christopher, Donald J. Sobol, Judy Blume, and others).

And that was it for a while.  I wanted to get more, had a few ideas on what they might be, but lost contact with Jamey and got into other things.  After I joined the Gobshites, I managed to get in touch with him again, and he invited me up anytime to get some new ink.  As I was now the tin whistle player in an Irish punk band, I decided a whistle would be appropriate.  He did that, and then free handed an amazing swirl pattern with negative space shamrocks around it.  It's definitely a conversation piece.

My next piece is the only tattoo I have that wasn't done by Jamey, a claddagh armband that I got as a Christmas present in 2009.  That was done by Pea Jay at Body Extremes in Quincy, Mass.  It was a spur of the moment decision that day to go down and get tattoos, but he did a great job, and I've always been happy with it.

And then finally (for now), once again from Jamey, I got a Celtic harp design on my right forearm.  This was actually a piece of flash that I found online and fell in love with, and Jamey did it proud.  And you can see examples of the three most recent tattoos on my Facebook page, if you're so inclined.

So I went to a tattoo party at a friend's house this weekend, and although finances once again kept me from getting a new one (I did try to barter with the artist, offering to cook her dinners and such, but to no avail), I'm itching to get more.  I have a few ideas for tattoos, now I just need to wait until my discretionary funds allow it.

Anyone out there want to barter?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Love A Parade

Just wanted to share this.  We were in the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade again this year, and it was an absolute blast.  Here's a clip of us from the NECN telecast:

I'm on the opposite side of the float from the camera, but I was savvy enough to get me a little screen time too!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Expectations

Honest to God, I thought I'd own a house by now.  What I have is a two bedroom apartment and a cat.  I don't mind apartment living so much, really.  But that whole American dream thing of home ownership never left me, I guess.  I also thought I'd be making a lot more money doing something a lot more interesting than what I do all day.


I guess I get caught up all too often in what didn't happen for me, and wondering why.  There are so many things I wish I could do over again, but would any of them have made a difference?  Or would I still be where I am, wishing things were better, or easier, just once?

Just once, I'd like to not have to see the "Check Engine" light going on in my car because I have plenty of money to fix whatever the hell is wrong.

Just once, I'd like to not have to look at my books, CDs, DVDs, etcetera, and wonder "How much can I get for this?"

Just once, I'd like to not have people around me feel the need to say "It's okay, you'll get through this."

Just once, I'd like to feel like my life is stable and comfortable.  Like I'm not starting all over again.

Just once.

Kind of a downer today, sorry.  I swear I'm trying not to do that as much.

Monday, March 21, 2011

That Was the Week That Was...

As you might imagine, an Irish band tends to get busy in March.  This last week was a whirlwind, from Washington, D.C. to Boston to Lebanon, New Hampshire to Mount Snow in Vermont to Portland, Maine to Cambridge, Mass and then to South Boston for the St. Patrick's Day parade, with a private house party somewhere in there for good measure.  I think it's safe to say that the amount of Guinness consumed in the last nine days would have quenched the thirst of Australia.  I'll take responsibility for Brisbane.  Forget college hoops, the Gobshites are the real March Madness.

And yet, as of this morning, I'm down to 184 pounds.  Seems kind of incredible, given all the debauchery.  But then again I have been getting my aerobic workouts in courtesy of the drum kit, so I guess everything sort of evens out.

Nothing new to report on the depression/ADHD/medication front, as everything seems to be working as intended, and I'm looking into the CBT thing.  And even though I am saddened by recent events in my life, I have an incredible network of family and friends offering me all the love and support that they can.  I've even made one or two new friends in the last couple of weeks that have stepped up and been fantastic.  My spirits were further bouyed this weekend when my daughter's financial aid package came through.  With the exception of one small loan, she's got enough in grants and scholarships to pay for the full year, housing included.  That is a HUGE weight off my mind.

So, doing, being, working, playing, living.  It's all I can do right now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CBT And Me

So my doctor thinks I'd benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  I've been reading up online, and it seems interesting.  I definitely think I have a pattern of thinking, whether shaped by experience or bad wiring or both, that tends to lead me down some dark roads.  The scary thing is, sometimes those dark roads are a comfort to me.  I don't like that.  I do think sometimes we have to embrace our dark thoughts, if only to admit they're there and then put them away.  Immersing yourself in them isn't healthy (obviously), but neither is ignoring them.

So can I be taught to think differently about things?  To notice patterns in my thinking?  I don't know.  I'll be 42 this year, and some of that stuff seems pretty deep-seeded to me.  I don't want to seem resistant to a new approach, but how will I react when I'm told to rethink everything?  The big problem with my latest stretch of depression is that I never even saw it coming, and I think it may be because I'm just used to that feeling.  Will my ADHD interfere with my ability to recognize the patterns?

Is there anyone out there that's gone through this?  Or do you know someone who did?  Did it work for you/them?  Like I said, I'm not opposed to trying it, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this darkness doesn't come back.  But it's still scary to think that my darkness may be more attractive to me at times than the way out of it.  I'm confident that I'll opt for the way out, of course.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Well it seems like the new dosage and regimen is working.  The jittery feeling doesn't last as long as it did at first, and the three-times-a-day Ativan is helping to smooth out the rough edges.  I gained a couple pounds back this weekend, but that's perfectly understandable when you're spending the weekend on the road with a band.  Food choices at a music festival tend not to be of the health conscious variety.  When your choices are a basket of chicken fingers, a fried turkey leg, and a "Meat Sundae", you just gotta roll the dice and hope for the best.

Shamrockfest was an unqualified success, as far as I'm concerned.  Last time we were there, we had to leave right after our set, so we could make it back in time for the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade.  This year, the parade is the Sunday after St. Paddy's, so we could hang out for the whole thing, and I'm sure glad we did.  We got to play two sets this year.  First was the Guinness stage, where we were first band up.  This time, they opened the gates about a half hour before we went on, so we had a decent crowd from start to finish.  Then we went over to the Irish Village stage, where the crowd was absolutely huge.  Both times we had great sets and the folks seemed to enjoy the hell out of it.

And then there was the hanging out and schmoozing.  We got to see a lot of folks we don't get a chance to all that often.  Friends from the area, other bands like Icewagon Flu, Scythian, Pubcrawlers, and of course, Dropkick Murphy's.  Ken was very gracious and invited us to come down to the grand opening of Whiskey Republic in Providence tonight.  Alas, we're playing a private show at the Paradise in Boston.

After the fest, we were whisked away to The Mighty Pint, a bar in downtown D.C. where we were assured "Gobshites don't pay for nothin'."  They were right, we didn't.  Thanks guys.

So yeah, a minor setback with the weight, but the meds are doing their job, and a fun weekend was had by all.  This being St. Paddy's week, we're about the get really busy, and more tales will be told, you can bet.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Jittery, But Thinner

That's how I feel today, jittery.  After my most recent panic attack (that makes three in two weeks), my doctor suggested I double my Prozac dosage, and go on a regular schedule for Ativan.  So I started that yesterday, and now I feel jittery.  And edgy.  I really wish I didn't feel like this.  Hopefully it evens out soon.

On the plus side, I'm down to 186 pounds.  That's 26 pounds lost since December.  Pretty good when you consider I haven't been able to keep a regular gym schedule the last two weeks.  Still watching my food choices and water intake, so that's obviously helping.  I'll never have washboard abs, but I've long since made my peace with that.

Also, the last two nights have been much better, sleep-wise.  Taking an Ativan before bed definitely makes a difference. Thank Jeebus, because adding insomnia to everything else I'm dealing with right now would just be intollerable.  Tightness in my chest is one thing, but bags under my eyes?  Check, please.

I want to put another plug in for anyone who may possibly be reading this in the Washington, D.C. area (hey, I've got the Netherlands peeking in, so it's not impossible).  The Gobshites are playing Shamrockfest again this year, and you'll have two chances to see us.  To my knowledge, we're the only band pulling a double shift.  I wonder if they'll give us extra drink tickets for that...

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Life of a Rock Star

So you'd figure, after a weekend of playing shows and partying with friends and fans (and a couple of cute NYC cops), and coming home completely spent and exhausted, I'd have slept the sleep of the dead, right?  I mean, I was prepared to do just that, after a quick grocery run and a nice, hot shower.  And after all, it's National Sleep Awareness Week, so I'm pumped for slumber.  Right?

Yeah, not so much.  Is there such a thing as too tired to sleep?  I've heard people say that, but even after a couple of Tylenol PMs, not a wink.  Damn.  I'll give the melatonin one more try tonight, but if it doesn't work, I'm getting something chemical from someone with a scrip pad.

But anyway, the weekend was pretty awesome.  On Saturday, The Gobshites went down to Rockaway Beach for their St. Paddy's Parade, to play in an outside tent next to the Irish Circle pub on Rockaway Boulevard.  Now, playing outdoors on the first weekend of March isn't the best idea, but we did have some friends and new fans come out to see us, so they made it worth it.  There are pictures all over Facebook, if you're interested.

A quick pub crawl through Queens and a nap in a rather nice Comfort Inn later, and we were back on the road, headed straight up to Lawrence, Mass., to play at the Claddagh Pub for their annual after-race show.  This bar is one of my favorites, and not just because they have an actual stage and a professional sound guy.  The place is always, ALWAYS packed, and this year was no exception.  I actually had some family come out for this, and they seemed duly impressed, so, to quote a famous TV star, Winning.

Next weekend, we head down to Washington, D.C. for Shamrockfest.  This is one of the biggest Irish fests in the country, and we did it two years ago with Flogging Molly, Flatfoot 56, and a bunch of other bands.  This year's headliner is Dropkick Murphy's.

I'll also be squeezing in some quality time to see my daughter in her last high school play.  They're doing Beauty and the Beast, and she's the dance captain for the utensils, and a featured dancer.  This kid is way more talented than I ever was.  I can't wait to see what she does in college.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Whole Week Just For Us!

Hey looky this, there's something called National Sleep Awareness Week, and it starts this Monday.  If you've been reading, you'll know that I'm very aware of sleep, and the lack thereof.  I just found a new favorite website.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Johnny Can't Dance

Well actually, I can.  And quite well, thank you very much.  Just don't feel much like dancing right now, so here's a musical interlude from the best Cajun/Celtic/Eastern European punk band you're ever going to hear.  I bring you...The Zydepunks:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

"Huh, Well This Is New..."

The first thing I noticed was the shaking.  Not violent, but like I was vibrating at a very high frequency.  My eyes couldn't focus, my hand could barely hold the pen with which I was writing down pertinent information.  My jaw quivering slightly.  Then there was pressure, in my chest cavity.  Not pain, an aching, slightly working it's way around.  My breathing became labored and forced.  But I was on a call, at work, I knew something was wrong, but I had to keep it together until the call was done.  I hit the "Not Ready" button on my phone in anticipation.

One of my managers came over and asked if I was okay.  I opened my mouth, but the only thing that came out was a strained, wheezy "I don't know."  She asked if I needed to go outside and get some air.  I stood, and immediately felt woozy and unsteady.  While I held on to the shelf over my desk, she went to get a couple of coworkers to help me downstairs.  More people joined us downstairs, as I sat on a ledge outside, shaking even more for the cold air.  We went back inside, where I sat in a lobby chair, while building security called for an ambulance.  I drank my water while coworkers gave me words of encouragement.  My shaking got worse.

The ride to the hospital was like being a kid, sitting in that way back stowaway seat in an old station wagon.  I remember thinking, as I saw where we'd just been pass us, that this was the way I normally came home from work.  But I wasn't going home.  I was going to the emergency room.  And I wasn't sure what was wrong.  They gave me oxygen and told me to breathe in through my nose and out my mouth.

Being wheeled through the ER, I was given a private room, where they shifted me from the ambulance stretcher to an examination table.  The tightness in my chest was still there, but the doctor said I was merely having an anxiety attack.  No EKG was run, but a few minutes later a woman came in with two small white pills and a cup of water.  Ativan, it was.  After about 20 minutes, I finally started to calm down, and then all I felt was tired.

All told, I was probably in the ER for about an hour or so.  In the meantime, someone at work called my emergency numbers, and my ride was waiting for me at the front door.  When I got home, I called my doctor, who wrote me a new scrip for Ativan, and went to bed.  That was Thursday.  I took Friday off, played a couple of Gobshites shows over the weekend, and then took Monday off as well.  I've taken the Ativan a few times since then, but it's only an as-needed kind of thing, so it's not really a daily routine.

I'm back at work, breathing better.  I'm still better than I was, and getting better still.

The adventure continues...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

This Is The Title of This Post

189 as of this morning.  Not as big a drop as the past couple of weeks, but I'll take it.  It's certainly better than going up, right?  And I fully expect my weight to plateau at some point, so maybe I get down a few more pounds, and then it's all about maintenance.  I can live with that.

I've about had it with the melatonin.  It's never worked, and even Tylenol PM let me down last night.  Frustrating.  Looks like Sleepytime Tea is going to be next on the list.

So...why am I sharing so much of myself here?  I guess there are two main reasons.  One:  Putting myself out there publicly, I think, helps insure that I'm honest about my illness, and about what it's going to take to get better, and also makes it that much more important for me to continue my mission to get back to being the man I was.  Could this backfire?  Most certainly, which is why making sure I avoid the humiliation of falling back into that black fog is paramount.  Am I sharing too much?  Yeah, I probably am.  After all, this is my journey.  I have plenty of love and support from those I love most, but this is about doing what I need to do.

The other reason is the hope that someone going through a similar difficulty might happen to stumble upon this, and see that it is possible to get up and try again.  It's hard, and in my case it almost always takes drastic circumstances to motivate me to do it.  But there is help out there for those of you suffering from depression, ADHD, or any other mental illness or condition that inhibits your happiness and your ability to be yourself.

Get help.  Now.  You can get better, it is possible.  Do it for yourself, and for the life you want.  And don't forget where you were before, and how it felt, so that to do everything you can to avoid it in the future.  Put it behind you, but keep it in your mind when you feel less than motivated to try.

And again, this isn't meant to be a litany of "Woe is me" online.  I want it to be more of a recognition that I'm back at it, fighting and clawing at the surface, forcing my real self to break through once more.  I can feel it, it's coming.  Soon.