Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Auld Lang Something-or-Other

I spent quite a bit of time in hospitals earlier this year.  Not very happy memories, those, but necessary.  And in their own way, they helped me gain the forward momentum I needed to fight my way out of my dark fog and confront my mental health issues, as well as fulfill the promises I've made to myself and others.  My creative fire is back, I have renewed enthusiasm for the future, and I've gone over seven months without drinking.  And the EMTs were nice enough, so there's that.  I think it's safe to say that life got exponentially better as the year went on.  And as 2011 winds down, I found myself yet again visiting a hospital a couple of times this past weekend, but for an entirely different (and joyous) reason.  More on that as I'm given the go ahead to post about it.

So far, I've still only got the two completed songs, by which I mean lyrics only.  I'll figure out the music soon enough, and then the other half-finished/sort-of-started songs.  And then I can use Garage Band to make them a reality and post them on my Facebook page.  I seem to have all kinds of folks willing to help me find places to play, and the set list has been growing as well.  The few times I've performed have been well received, which serves to reassure me that my decision to go it alone was a good one.  I'm not going for rock star status, just well thought of entertainer status.  Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to offer me some kind of deal, I'd be more than happy to consider it.  But being a middle aged man, I'm fairly well certain that that ship has sailed.

Christmas this year was pretty fantastic.  The people around me, the mood, the fact that I'm actively working on the future, and the terrific news that my daughter became a Doctor Who fan/made Dean's List in her first semester all contributed to Holidays that were indeed happy (and as God is my witness, I'm still not sure which of those two things makes me prouder).  I think everyone did a pretty good job with presents for each other and such, and I was truly blown away by what I received, but honestly, I'd still have been happy if I hadn't gotten anything.  It was just that kind of Christmas this year.

I still get a little overwhelmed by things and freeze up every now and again, but I have people in my life who are willing to help guide me through those times, as well as a roster of professionals to help me better recognize when those times are coming, so that I can arm myself against them.  Jess has been a huge part of that.  I still have days when the fog threatens to take over, and sometimes my brain and my mouth have different agendas, but her support, patience, and love have been immeasurably helpful and healing.  Doesn't hurt that we occasionally share a frontal lobe.

So I'm closing the door on 2011.  For all of its' pitfalls and frustrations and heartache, I feel like I'm happier and more comfortable with myself than I ever have been.  I have a lot of people to thank for that.  If you're reading this, chances are you're one of them.  So thank you, and I'll see you after the ball drops.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My My My...

Turns out my last entry is now the second most popular post on this blog ever.  Like the current reigning champ, I've gotten a lot of feedback about it, both online and privately.  Many folks agreed with my basic point, which has nothing to do with what people should be allowed to say, but instead not freaking out when someone says something intended to wish you well.  Some disagreed with me and were very thoughtful and respectful.  And some completely ignored my central premise and decided to snark it up and be nasty.  To the first group, I say thank you for your support.  To the second, thanks for the opportunity to exchange ideas, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.  To the last...well, you can just blow it out your ass.  I'm not going to bother arguing with someone who'd rather lambaste me for what they want me to have said, than discuss what I actually wrote.  If you're that bothered by nothing more than what I have to say, you are welcome to stop reading.  Keep looking for sinister motives in everything people do and say.  I'm sure you'll find them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Surprise Cat Blog!

Just 'cause I feel like it...

Not...Sure...If...Serious...

So Saturday went well, or so it seemed.  I did four songs, with Jess handling the guitar part for two, and my friend (and former Gobshite mandolin player) Nason playing on the other two.  I made a last minute decision that I just wasn't confident in my own playing to subject a room full of friends and strangers to it.  I'll get there.  I've already gotten interest from a couple different clubs and booking agents, so I'm working on adding more to the set, and also toiling feverishly to improve my mandolin playing to virtuoso level.  Or at least convincing myself that, really, my playing is fine, and I should just shut up and do it.

On to today's notion.  And my apologies up front, but this one may, in fact, be considered a rant by some...

I'll be the first to admit that I can sometimes get sidetracked by a minor detail or offense, when I should be focusing on the big picture.  I recognize it a lot more these days, but it can still happen.  That's why I'm glad to have people in my life who are willing to snap me out of whatever nonsensical obsession I'm engaged in at the time.  And just as important, I'm more willing these days to listen to reason and see the forest again.

I don't know why apparently no one at Fox News has that type of person in their lives.  Someone to stop them and tell them "Hey, it's really not that big a deal,"  or "You know, it's going to be okay, we'll get through this."  Or maybe even "HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS MEAN ESSENTIALLY THE SAME GODDAMN THING, JACKASS!!!"

Holy hell, can we maybe dial it down a bit with the "War on Christmas" nonsense?  Nobody, NOBODY, is trying to kill Christianity by saying "Happy Holidays."  This is a completely manufactured scandal, designed by people who never pass up an opportunity to be offended by something.  I can't imagine what childhood trauma would make presumably educated adults rage over how to properly wish someone glad tidings.  Who has that kind of energy?

For the record, if you happen to come across my path, you can say either phrase, as well as "Happy Hanukkah," "Joyous Saturnalia," or even "Merry Kwanzaa" to me, and I promise I will not bite your head off for it.  My most likely reaction will be "Thanks, you too!"  I just have too many other things to worry about besides a two word phrase meant to be good wishes from someone.  And for that matter, the people at Fox probably do as well.  I'm guessing this is just their way of not dealing with those other things.

So, to sum up: Regarding "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," or any other iteration thereof, it really is no big deal.  Calm down, have some nogg, eat a sugar cookie, and say "Thank you" to someone who's attempting to be friendly.  If your biggest problem in life is whatever it is the kid at the CVS register says to you as he bags your shampoo and can of Pringle's, maybe it's time to reevaluate exactly why this time of year is important to you.

Oh, and my Amazon wish list has been updated.  Just throwing that out there...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Well...Um...Hmmmm...

This is one of those times when I definitely want to post something, if for no other reason than to stay productive and keep exercising those muscles, but I can't narrow my topic down.  The vast majority of what I've written about in this space this year has been personal.  But there's really nothing much to update.  I moved, check.  Brought the cat with me, check.  Doing my own thing musically, check.  Need a bigger paycheck, check.  It's pretty much the same as it's been lately.  One or two things have disappointed me recently, but you know, that's what karma's for.  I haven't written much about any current events.  I think there are plenty of places where people much smarter than I am can give insight into the state of things today.

Remember a couple years ago, when those survey things were all the rage on Myspace and Facebook and in the blogs?  I did a bunch of those, even though I was most definitely not the target audience for them.  But at least they were a kind of writing exercise.  My answers tended towards the snarky and sarcastic, which was due mostly to the fact that I was still trying to write for my standup act, and I wanted to practice writing good, short jokes.  I'd do another one, but the way text slang changes day by day, I don't know that I'd even be answering the question I think I'm answering.  I only just found out that FTW also means "For The Win."

I guess everything I do, though, unless it's specifically for publication, could be considered a writing exercise.  So maybe I really shouldn't be too concerned with my topic or whether it's weighty enough.  That's just my bastard of an internal editor (Let's call him "Smedley"), trying to stifle me.  I think my problem is that some of my posts this year have really resonated with some folks, and so now I'm trying to live up to that every time, like a bar that I've set for myself.  Well even the best hitters in baseball only succeed about four out of ten times, so what am I doing pressuring myself like that?

Eh, whatever.  It's more or less natural for self-doubt to creep in, even when doing our best to strangle it, right?  Even as upbeat as I've been about my creative pursuits lately, I still feel sometimes like I'm going to make a fool of myself the next time I'm on stage or something.  Luckily, I'm no longer taking in any fool-juice, so hopefully that improves my odds somewhat...

Speaking of the next time, I am again going to plug my appearance at Leitrim's in Worcester this Saturday.  I'm not sure exactly what time I'm going on, I'm guessing somewhere around 10ish.  Still toying with my set list, but I would say it'll be equal parts traditional Irish and punk covers.  And maybe a special guest or two will hop up and join me for a couple of songs.  I've also been invited to pick a Thursday night to go down to Beatnik's Bar in Worcester and do some pickin' and grinnin'.  More on that as it develops.

Insert pithy closing line here...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Geekery and Getting Used to It

First off, Movember is now over. I want to thank those who made their generous contributions to my page this past month. I'm not sure if you can still donate, but as far as I can tell, the link still works. If you can, please do. And I guess enough folks like the 'stache I grew for me to decide to keep it, for at least a little bit. I think it looks okay. I may re-introduce the chin component for an actual Van Dyke, but I want to mull it over a little before I decide.

And so a new chapter begins. I find myself much calmer right now, as I turned in the keys on Sunday and got the last of my things out of the apartment. I'm a bit melancholy to leave the area, but it's not like it's a three day drive if we want to head back down to visit some time. And who knows, we may end up settling there eventually. There are still one or two matters to deal with to finalize everything, and that might get a little dicey. But for the most part, it's done. With three days to spare.

I know it's not that huge a move, but it does feel a little odd to be a resident of Central Massachusetts, after spending my entire life in the Boston area and suburbs. I don't think I've ever been so landlocked. For someone who likes being near the ocean so much, to be heading in the opposite direction does strike me as funny. Maybe it's only funny to me, but there it is. I don't know why that is, though. I'm still relatively equidistant from Boston and Providence, although a little further away from both than I was before. I still work in the Boston area. I really can't put my finger on it, but there's definitely the feeling that I've crossed some kind of threshold. I'm not saying that as if it's a bad thing. It just feels...different.

I did get a surprise this weekend, however. Jess and I went to a local author's day at the Worcester version of Annie's Book Stop (I don't know if it's only in Massachusetts or not, but if you don't know, it's a chain of franchised-owned used book stores.). One of the local authors just happens to be our roommate, and I will now throw in a plug for her book, An Ever-Fixéd Mark by Jessie Olson. You can buy copies at local book stores, or directly from her. It's about vampires, and doesn't have Robert Pattinson, so you know it's good. Kids, get permission from Mom and Dad first. This ain't no Twilight, fo' sho'.

So while there to support our friend, I discovered that this particular Annie's is owned by a couple who may possibly be even bigger Doctor Who fans than I am. The didn't just have the current series of books. They had the New Adventures series (which followed the end of the original show and features the 7th and 8th Doctors), plus all the old Missing Adventures novels. They also had an immense selection of the Big Finish audio plays. I've never seen those in any store, EVER. I have a few, and I had to get those online. This place had shelf after shelf of the Doctor Who plays, as well as all the audio spinoffs, and a separate area for used copies.

I don't think I've geeked out that hard in decades.

So that was definitely a good omen for my move, I think. And I'll throw in another plug here for my solo show on the 10th of this month at Leitrim's Pub in Worcester. I'll be doing a set between sets of the band PS Rock, fronted by my buddy James Power. Expect fun, and at least three instances of fumble fingers during the night.

They keep calling Tedeschi's "Country Farms" out here. Is that weird?