Friday, April 29, 2011

Ever Backing Down

For the longest time, I wanted to be a comic book artist.  Me and my friends used to create our own comics, and buy comics by the truckload just to look at the art.  We also read them, of course, but we were obsessed with comic book art.  My favorite was John Byrne, who drew the X-Men at the time, then moved on to several other books like Alpha Flight, the Fantastic Four, and a bunch of others.  I bought books (as always) on how to draw comics, went to comic book conventions in my area to talk to the artists there.  I even mustered up the courage once to send my artwork to Marvel.  They were very nice and encouraging in their response.  I really really wanted to someday do that for a living.

So why don't I?  Well, I guess I just got talked out of it.  After years of being told by adults that my dreams were unrealistic, something in me just gave in and gave up.  As I look back, I realize I've let that happen a lot over the course of my life.  I don't know why I do that, and it's something I've been trying to work on for years.  There's a line in the movie Clerks that sums it up perfectly.  When Randall turns to Dante and says "That is the leitmotif of your life, 'Ever-backing-down,'" I started nodding my head the first time I saw that scene, because I recognized myself in that statement.

Recently, one of my therapists recommended the book Co-Dependent No More to me.  I guess the things I've told her about recent events in my life have led her to believe I may have issues with co-dependency.  I'm certainly someone who tends to want to keep the peace more than anything.  That's not always bad, but it often leads to me giving up what I want in order to make everyone else happy.  Like my dreams for myself.  I guess that started in childhood.  Most co-dependents come from certain backgrounds, and as a result try to either avoid those situations by controlling them, or end up in the exact same kinds of relationships because they're familiar or comfortable, as odd as that may sound.

So I'm reading the book, and thinking of ways I can change my behavior so that I'm getting more of what I need out of a relationship (any relationship), while contributing to the happiness and well being of others.  And continuing to learn things about myself that I both like and loathe.  It's been almost 20 years since I graduated from college, and I guess I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Check-In

So I seem to have plateaued a bit at 180 pounds for now.  That's fine with me.  If I never lose another pound, I'm still pretty happy with where I am.  Now if I could just get back into that gym routine...

The Gobshites have been fairly inactive the last few weeks.  Recovering from St. Paddy's...still...and gearing up for Memorial Day weekend in the Catskills.  My other band (which still remains nameless) hasn't done anything since that first gig.  Hopefully more from that soon.

Easter was nice.  To my suprise, we got baskets.  I had kind of figured we weren't doing that anymore, but there it was, a basket for me full of Hershey almond bars, which were promptly tossed in my freezer when I got home.  Add to that some more time with my daughter and brunch with our extended family, and then going home to watch the Red Sox sweep the Angels, and getting a suprise gift of an aloe plant and a very old and awesome book on Irish oratory and a crystal that will help me sleep sounder at night, and I'd call it a successful Easter.  The only hitch in the day was when I came to the realization that not all supermarkets were open yesterday.  At least my local one wasn't.  So breakfast this morning consisted of a couple of peanut butter granola bars from my desk at work, and lunch came courtesy of an Oscar Meyer Lunchable.  All those delicious grams of saturated fat really hit the spot.  Tonight, I shop, tomorrow, I eat better.  The rest of the week will be spent moving stuff out of storage and into my spare room, and then trying to sell all that crap somewhere.

The cat has become a backup alarm clock for me.  If I'm not up at my usual 5 A.M., he sits out in front of my bedroom door and starts mewling at the top of his furry lungs.  Mostly, he just wants to get up on the blanket and root, but I like to think that somewhere in there is a small shred of concern for my well-being.

So things are changing, for the better and the worse, but here I am.  Still looking for a second job and someone to take pity on my car.  I was only half joking about that stuff, you know.

Aloha (means goodbye...)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Me and The Finn

We adopted him almost a year ago.  I'd never owned a cat before.  I had nothing in particular against them, but I'd always considered myself more of a dog person, owing to the fact that I had a dog as a kid (Well, unless they were a dog on my paper route.  I definitely wasn't a dog person for those ones), and that my grandmothers' cats were always mean to me.  But he came right over to us when we went into the shelter, and sort of made us enamored of him.  We were just looking, but we decided right then that this was the right one.  He was curious and somewhat affectionate, and we took to him.

His name at the shelter was Mario, but we decided it didn't fit, so we renamed him Finn (although I usually call him "Bubba" for some reason), partly for the Irish connection, and partly as a tribute to Mark Twain.  We went out and bought supplies, toys, and a new carrier (which he promptly pooped all over on his first ride home and ruined), and brought him into our home.  As he got used to his new surroundings, we determined that he would never be allowed to sleep in the bedroom with us, as he treated every foot or hand movement under the covers as something to be chased down and attacked.  But living so close to a major road, we also determined that he would be an indoor cat.

He started to develop habits and favorite places to lie down and hang out.  His favorite perches became the chair in front of the living room window (so he can look outside), and the top of the washing machine (so he can survery his kingdom).  Even though he's petrified of getting wet, he seems to love coming into the shower, just at the edge of the water, or hoping up on the toilet seat to watch the water swirl down.  He's definitely a fan of running water, as he'll only drink out of his bowl after batting it around a bit to make the water move.  Getting one of those running water bowls is definitely on the to-do list.

He also started learning to jump.  First just up on the bed and sofa, and then on EVERYTHING.  You can always tell where Finn's been, because he leaves a little trail of hair just about everywhere he goes.  Lint rollers and special vacum attachments were bought to try to combat the fluff, but it's a never ending battle.

And the best part is, he talks.  He really does.  Not in English, of course, but he definitely makes conversation with his little chirps and hums.  Sometimes he sounds aggravated, but mostly he's just chatty.  I really do wonder what it is he's trying to tell me.  His favorite thing to do right now (and has been for a while) is to jump on my bed and start rooting in the fleece blanket on it.  He does it for hours, and talks to me the whole time while I'm watching TV or sitting at my computer.

Now that it's just me and Finn, we're bonding a bit.  He's definitely a little freaked out about things right now, so he wants to make sure I'll be around, and in his sights, whenever he can get me.  I like having him around too.  It gives me someone else to talk to besdies myself, and he's company.  Living completely on your own, for someone who's rarely done that before, it helps to have another live body in the house, even if he does cover me with hair and spill water all over the kitchen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Randumb and Stuffs and Thingses

Down to 180 as of this morning.  I seriously need some new clothes, I look like a street urchin.  Again, not the worst problem to have, but I still need to find a second job, as my rent just doubled.

The Great Second Job Search has begun in earnest, which basically means I've been walking into local businesses and asking "You guys need any part time help?" and being told no.

The cat has learned to jump from the floor to the stove top.  Shit.

The Red Sox are very depressing right now.  So I guess I started the Prozac just in time.  Thank God the Bruins are rolling.  Playoffs start tomorrow.

I really couldn't care less about Charlie Sheen's glorious public flameout.  The guy's made a mint despite acting like a complete cad all his life, and now he wants everyone to feel sorry about the way he's being treated by other rich people.  I'm sorry Charlie, I can't hear you over the bills I have to play roulette with every month.

I've had a reject sticker on my car for just under two years.  Anyone wanna help a brotha out with some work on it?  Let's make a deal.  I have no idea what I can offer, but I'm sure we can work something out.

I'm going to see Rhed play at the Firefly's in Framingham this Friday night.  Amy and her band always come out to support us when we're playing near them and they don't have a gig.  The Gobshites are off this weekend, so it's time to return the favor.  Plus, she's kinda hot.

CORRECTION:  Apparently it's not Rhed, it's Amy's other project, Toddamy.  Still should be a good time.

That's all I got today.

Monday, April 11, 2011

She's College Bound, And I'm Okay

Yesterday, we went up to Salem State University for an Accepted Student's Day.  The basic premise of the day is to convince the Seniors that have received acceptance letters to actually enroll at the school.  This wasn't a concern for us, as my daughter has already decided and sent in her deposit.  We had a few questions about the financial aid and all that, but it was really just a chance to see the place and walk around a bit.  The campus is spread out through neighborhoods and is really part of the community, much like Bridgewater State, where I went.  It's nice, and they're building a brand new library that's going to be state of the art.  Nice.  Salem itself is a cool city, full of history and a nice vibe.  This is a big reason she was attracted to the place.

She is completely excited about going there.  I think she'd start tomorrow if she could.  I would have thought she'd be more sentimental about her high school years ending, and parting ways with many of the friends she's made over the years.  But no, she's ready to go.  And as I sit here looking at a picture of her from her very first Halloween, dressed as a pumpkin (with me holding her in a plaid shirt and straw hat), I can't help but be a little sad.  She's going away, to live in a place further away from me and the rest of her family than she's ever been.  I know, it's not like she's going to Alaska, but it's still a little far for my taste.

She wants to be out on her own, which is good, but it's almost like she wants to get away from us.  I don't think that's really the case, but a dad always wants to be essential to his girl's life, you know?  Indispensable, needed.  Can't live without.  Of course she wont be living without us, she'll be about an hour away.

None of which is to say I'm not immensely proud of her and the huge step she's taking in her life.  I'd like to think I've had at least something to do with the amazing young woman she's become.  She's beautiful, smart, funny, talented, hard working, thoughtful.  All the things you'd want in a kid, really.  Of course, she has her teenage moments, but that's to be expected, and she's nowhere near as bad as some kids I've seen.  She's also a lot more confident in herself than I ever was (or still am, for that matter).  And she's definitely goal oriented.  And that she's actually excited about this new chapter in her life makes me proud too.  I've always had a certain amount of fear and trepidation about new situations.  She doesn't seem to at all.

So it's bittersweet to be sending her off to college, but more sweet than bitter.  I know she'll do well there, and I know she'll come back to see us when she can.  But that little girl in the pumpkin costume keeps looking back at me, and I could swear that was taken only a few months ago.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Decisions, Pride, and a Drop of the Pure (And Only a Drop!)

So yeah, I think I've made the decision to try and just keep the apartment on my own.  That may be easier said than done, but the truth is, I really don't want to share it with someone else right now.  I've almost always lived with other people, rarely on my own.  So maybe this would be a good time to do that.  It'll be tight, and almost certainly involve a second job, but I think it'll be worth it.  I've got the cat for company, and a place to entertain friends if I so choose.  And as much as I can, I'm trying to turn a negative into a positive.  And I'm buying a few extra scratch tickets too...

Tonight is my daughter's Senior vocal recital.  Most years, recitals involve literally dozens of kids of varying levels singing or playing the piano.  This time around, it's just her and another girl and their instructor.  Recitals can be torturous, because you've got to be there for at least two hours, and really, I'm only interested in seeing one person.  I'm not saying everyone else is bad, but come on, MY little snowflake is way more important to me than yours.  So she'll be doing about ten songs tonight, and one or two duets with the other girl and her instructor.  I predict this will be right at the top of my favorite concerts of the year.  Yes, even better than Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at the Paradise.

Still no idea if I'm drumming or whistling tomorrow night with the Gobshites at Finnegan's in Hudson, Mass.  One thing I wont be doing is drinking all that much.  We're going up to visit Salem State University on Sunday morning, and leaving around 7AM.  No way I'd be able to do that with a snoot full.  I'm trying to pull back on that now anyway, as I'm getting dangerously close to the red zone with alcohol.  So if I can manage to tone it way down at a Gobshites show, I can pretty much do it anywhere (as anyone who's ever been to see us can attest).  Anyone who sees me drinking more than three beers tomorrow night has my permission to yell at me.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Checking In and Stuff and Things and...

So as of the other day, I'm down 30 pounds now.  My clothes are starting to look baggy, which is not a bad problem to have, but I need to go clothes shopping soon.  I have a feeling my Kohl's charge is going to get quite a workout.  I also might need to get a second job.  I haven't been able to find a new roommate yet, so I'm going to be on the hook for the full amount of the rent starting next month.  The upside is that I can finally get rid of my storage space, which will free up a couple hundred bucks a month.  And maybe I can sell off some of the books, comics, and old vynyl that I have in there, which would help too.  I think I can do it.  I really don't have much choice.  So if anyone out there wants to pay me money a couple nights a week to do something not very strenuous, I'm available.

I only briefly wrote about my debut as a lead singer last weekend.  I have to say, I had a blast doing that.  I think it helped that it was at a loft party, and not in a club setting.  Everyone there was there to have a good time and party, so the atmosphere was pretty loose.  Nobody even cared when I forgot some of the lyrics and had to refer to the sheets I brought up with me.  Like taking up the tin whistle, it's something that takes me far out of my comfort zone, even though I know I can sing well.  People are often shocked to find that, off stage, I'm pretty shy and reserved for the most part, because I'm pretty animated on stage, and singing was no different.  I hope we do some more shows.  And settle on a name.

Gobshites will be at Finnegan's Pub in Hudson, Mass this Saturday.  9 P.M. start.  Bring your dancing shoes and your drinking socks.  I don't know if I'm on drums or whistle yet, so I'm bringing everything.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ice Dreams

I was about five years old, walking around in the store with my mom, when I spotted a poster of the 1970 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins behind the counter.  I begged my mother to buy one for me, pleaded.  The storekeeper, thinking he was going to help my mother out and shut me up, told me that if I could name all the players, he'd give it to me.

"Okay, that's Bobby Orr, Dallas Smith, Ed Johnston, Derek Sanderson, Gary Doak, Wayne Cashman, Gerry Cheevers..."

That poster hung in my bedroom for years.

Hockey was a huge part of my life growing up.  The success of the late 60's-early 70's Bruins spawned a youth hockey boom in Massachusetts (and elsewhere), and almost every town in my area had a program.  Every Saturday morning, we were on our way to Rockland or Taunton or Brockton to either practice, scrimmage, or play another town.  In the summers, hockey camp.  Or street hockey.  When the temperatures dropped and the ponds froze, there we went.  Everyone I knew played.  I was a decent player, a very good skater, but not particularly aggressive.  I was a fair defenseman, not much of a forward, but a great goaltender.

As I got older, the boom died down, and my own interests tended towards more creative pursuits (music, writing, theater), and I gave up hockey.  I briefly considered going out for my high school team, but decided against it.  It wasn't until my later years in college that I got the hockey bug again.  My dad and I started going to Providence Bruins games, and following Boston once more.  I got a pair of skates, a stick, some gloves, and a helmet (although I only went out and played once or twice).  I even got a subscription to the Hockey News for a few years.

For the past few years, my mother has given me and my dad Bruins tickets for Christmas.  We go to three games a year.  I guess it's a bonding thing, as my father and I weren't particularly close for a long time.  I often wonder if my turning away from hockey (and sports in general) was some form of rebellion against him.  Maybe, maybe not.  I don't know.

I haven't laced up the skates in a few years, but maybe this year sometime I'll hit up a rink around here somewhere.  Until then, I'll be parked in front of the TV for Bruins games.  I think this is the year for them.  Again.

Monday, April 04, 2011

A Post About...Um...

Yeah, I'm kind of drawing a blank here.  I know I need to do this as much as I can, if for no other reason than to keep my writing skills sharp and assure everyone that I haven't dropped back into the black hole.  But man, if only I had something to say today.  I even went online and did a search for blog post ideas.  Every page had vague suggestions like "Take a stand on an issue," or "Write something humorous."  Great, thanks for the advice, oh wise and sage blog gurus.  My mind is now absolutely brimming with inspiration.

I guess all writers get like this at times, so I know I'm not unique in having "The Block."  It's frustrating, but whatever.  My weekend was...good.  Lot's of fun activity Friday (see last post), some more on Saturday, and then a lazy boring Sunday filled with errands and chores and lot's of TV watching with the cat.  I can tell you that I watched my daughter take part in her last High School Show Choir competition on Saturday night, and the kids blew the roof off the place and won best vocals, best show, best instrumental, and Grand Champion.  She's got her Senior vocal recital this Friday night, and I'm really looking forward to that.  She's a supremely talented kid.  I know I'm supposed to say stuff like that because I'm her dad, but even people who aren't obligated to gush over her tell me that.

My side band still doesn't really have a name.  Then again, who knows when we're going to play another show?  So I guess it's not really all that urgent.  I'm alternating between drums and whistle with the Gobshites lately.  And I'm kind of fixated on saving up for either a mandolin or a banjo.  But first I have to refurnish my apartment.  I did manage to score a new kitchen table and chairs (well, new to me).  So there's that.

Pretty boring, I know.  At least it's not about going to the hospital again.  Because that would mean I'd have had to go to the hospital, and I've done that plenty lately, thank you very much.

Mahalo.  And Excelsior!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Another First

Last night, I made my debut as the front man in a band.  I've been singing since I can remember, but this is the first time I've ever been a lead singer.  I'm not leaving the Gobshites, mind you, but this was something that sort of came together organically.  It's fun, and hopefully we'll play some more shows, but it's really more of a side project for most of us in the band.  We don't really even have a name yet.  I introduced us as the "Next Band" last night.  It's another Celtic influenced punk band, but more electric than the Gobshites.  There's some crossover, but it's really two different bands.  We did okay on Friday, I couldn't hear myself at all, but people said they liked it.