I learned today of the death of Craig Davis, a truly talented and prolific musician, songwriter, and artist. My history with Craig is long and complicated.Continue reading…
Category: Life As I Know It
You’ll never see this so I don’t know why I’m posting it other than it feels good to get it out of my head and into the universe and my page feels like a safe sanctuary where I can do what I want, while also knowing that likely no one will see it. Also if by chance you do ever see this, I know it’s by your own choice and not because I somehow forced these words upon you. I don’t know why you suddenly decided to block me after all this time, but I can only assume it was because of a post that had nothing to do with you and only to with my own brain being an asshole to me. Just in case that was it, I edited the post for clarification. Regardless, I’m sorry for whatever the reason was that made you feel it necessary to get me even further out of your life (which I didn’t even think was possible). I understand, I’m sorry, and I hope all is as well and happy as it seems. Welcome back to Austin. Goodbye. I love you and wish you a truly great life, even if I can’t be a part of it. You deserve all the love and happiness it has to offer. #SayWhatYouNeedToSay #PostForOne #ThatOneBeingMeItTurnsOut
LEVEL UP! LEVEL 50!
This is a 50 year old man. Not bad for half a century if I do say so myself. Even if I haven’t had a haircut since just before the lockdown started in March, my beard is more gray than not, my forehead has lines from my extreme expressiveness, and my eyes have some well-earned crow’s feet and a little more weight of living and experience behind them. Why do I make this statement today? Honestly, because it makes me very uncomfortable so I’m owning it. Facing the discomfort. It baffles me as I certainly don’t feel 50. I’ve always said that from about the age of 12 I felt about 25. Truth be told, it’s probably closer to 30 now. Judging by the roles I get and comments from people who learn my age, I apparently don’t look 50. The gray beard probably adds 10 years but at the same time, I’ve grown to like its character when I choose to have it.Continue reading…
A long time ago, there was someone who decided it was best for us to cut all contact. Since that time, we have been in contact a handful of times, but always regarding a specific logistical detail or such and always initiated by them. In my mind, I was like a vampire who had been “Uninvited.” I recently had need to get some details from them and even though I knew they would be fine with that, at first I refused to contact them. Because I felt it was “against the rule” that they set forth so long ago and that has not explicitly been rescinded. Eventually, I decided to contact them anyway as I knew they would understand. I kept it very formal, neutral and simply asked for the information I needed. They responded, equally neutrally and formally with the relevant information.Continue reading…
I just learned from my ex’s brother that Kaylee, the dog that I shared while I was together with my ex, Elly, had to be euthanized about a month ago. I still vividly remember the first time I ever met Kaylee. Before Elly and I were dating, I went to pick her up from her house so she could help me with some back up vocals on a song and was greeted with Kaylee’s boundless, puppy-like love and enthusiasm, which I would learn over time was one of her signature traits. After Elly and I started dating, since I was a freelancer and therefore home a lot more than Elly, Kaylee and I really bonded. I can still see her signature butt waggle whenever one or both of us would get home. Whenever I would walk Kaylee past the Starbucks by our place, she would always pull toward it, thinking that Elly would be coming out of the door since she often stopped there when all 3 of us walked together.Continue reading…
I had noticed a filtered water machine at the gas station down the street from me. In an effort to more easily stay hydrated, I ordered a gallon water jug thinking that I could just walk down to the store and fill it up for $.35. Now I have a big water filter in my room, but to fill it I have to make multiple trips from the kitchen with a jug, and monitor the particulate count with a meter (or just notice when it starts tasting funny), buy filters, change the filters, fill out a form and mail in the filters to get recycled and get a credit on some new filters, make sure the cistern stays clean, etc. It seemed way easier to walk down to the store and pay $.35 and, BAM! Gallon of clean tasting filtered water.
I used the jug multiple times, but then one day I went to fill it up and the machine was apparently out of order. I would check periodically but it was out of order for quite a while. Then one day, there it was, all lit up again, ready to dispense me some lovely, life giving oxygen combined with a pair of hydrogen molecules! Yay!
But then soon after it was out of order again. After a few trips with it still being out of commission, I decided to ask the store clerk about it. He went to check it out and found it was simply unplugged. Well, good thing I asked about it! I told him I would have to come back with my jug. Today (a day or two after that last encounter), I grabbed my trusty gallon jug, prepared to stop drinking so much Diet Mtn. Dew and get some of that incredibly beneficial water into my system again! I needed some sun and air anyway, so I walked on down to the gas station on my quest, 35 cents jangling in the pocket of my Forest Green gym shorts.
As I approached, I was stopped dead in my tracks and my mouth went agape. There were no lights. In fact, there was no machine. The water machine was gone. A discolored patch of concrete next to the ice machine where it had once stood. For some reason, I walked right up to where it had been, as if maybe I wasn’t seeing something correctly. Just air where there had once been metal and plastic containing a menaga-a-trois of hydrogen and oxygen within, dancing together in their liquidy embrace.
I walked back home, defeated, wondering why the universe wanted to deny me my simple hydration wishes. As I walked, two Hispanic men in a work truck yelled something in Spanish that I didn’t understand. I looked at them, and the driver made drumming motions. I just laughed and smiled and they laughed and smiled back. When I arrived home, I made three trips from the kitchen with a kettle full of water to fill my filter. And now I sit here typing this while drinking some Diet Mtn Dew.
Still, even now, still
Forever a part of me
Time is meaningless
I feel like when Twitter and Facebook took over the internet, it mostly killed blogs. People don’t want to leave their walled gardens for content. My blog never had a lot of traffic but these days, I figure there’s next to none. And of course, that isn’t helped by the fact that I never post here because I’m always posting on Facebook. But I also post more there because that’s where the people are so it’s a bit a snake eating its tail, chicken or the egg kind of scenario.
Sometimes though, I find this a bit comforting. Like there was a thought I had and kind of wanted to express but didn’t necessarily want a lot of attention on it, and I thought this blog seemed like a perfect place. It scratches that itch of expressing the thought and yet probably no one (or very few people) will see it. A strange middle ground I know. I’m not even sure why it feels good to express stuff like this if you aren’t looking for reactions, sympathy, or comfort or something, but it does.
I’m not sure why I hesitate expressing personal, vulnerable things sometimes. My best guess is that it’s because part of me thinks “Why? What’s the point in posting that? I don’t want sympathy or comfort and people probably don’t want to hear it any way,” or maybe it’s some fear in me about being judged or exposing myself like that (though I tend to be a pretty open book), or some combination of these and other factors. My mind does love analyzing these things though. I knew from a young age that if music and acting weren’t my calling, then psychologist or psychiatrist would have been a career path for me.
Any way, the thought that inspired all these other thoughts was simply this: it has now been just over a year since my last electronic communication with her (about 2 years since our last non-electronic communication). I never in all eternity thought we would end up here. Completely disconnected as if we didn’t know each other and had never met. Not even polite holiday greetings. I thought at the very least, we would always be friends and in each other’s lives. Then again, I thought we would always be together, so what did I know. I was wrong about a whole plethora of things.
1 month of rehearsals in Florida.
52 cruises over 26 weeks.
107 band shows.
5 shows as the only vocalist (co-singer was out sick).
1 show as solo vocalist and guitar player (guitar parts learned in the hours leading up to the show), while the normal guitar player covered the bass parts on his guitar, pitch shifted down an octave because both the bass player and female vocalist were out sick).
1 show as bass player and co-vocalist (bass parts learned in the hours leading up to the show).
2 shows missed due to being sick (I was hoping for none).
A handful of shows with a very sub-par voice due to illnesses.
100 America Rocks Shows (Theater production) .
Approximately 31000 nautical miles traveled.
Approximately 177,000 total guests (No way to know how many actually saw us perform, of course).
We leave as the #1 band in the Entire Carnival fleet of 26 ships.
Personal Accolades (braggy, I know):
Volunteered as the Entertainment Department Safety Representative.
Chosen as “Star of the Month” (Entertainment Department only).
Nominated for “Team Member of the Month” (This one is shipwide).
Multiple trainings such as “Crowd Management and Control” and how to pilot and command a survival craft as well as it’s layout and vital information and such.
I got to turn my brain off for seven months and make a good paycheck doing what I love 6 nights a week. No hustling or wondering about my next job or how much money I would make next month. I got to sing and play great tunes with an amazing band for enthusiastic, appreciative, and hyperbolically complimentary crowds. I performed with an amazing cast and crew in a great theater. I worked alongside an international crew of amazing people all over the ship.
For the first time in my life I performed as (mostly) just a singer and front man, something I had been a little worried about as it’s not normally what I do and I feel a little naked without an instrument, but I settled into it fairly painlessly and rose to the occasion (according to my own self-assessment as well as my evaluations by management). I educated myself on how to treat myself as a “vocal athlete” and trained to do my best at meeting the incredible demands of singing 6 nights a week. I honed my instrument to be the best and sharpest it has probably ever been (when not hobbled by cough, colds, phlegm, etc., but more on that in a moment).
I had my ego and confidence boosted and reinforced and can confidently say that I am good at what I do. I had my ego and confidence bruised and humbled by the fact that I have limits and can’t always do anything just because I put my mind to it or because I want to. I learned how use my voice in new ways. How to best use it when it’s not fully functional. Different techniques and approaches. How to feel out where it was on any particular day and gauge how well it was operating so I could adjust accordingly. I developed alternate strategies and plans for when it was not operating at peak efficiency. I learned how much I could really “go for it” in a given night while still being able to do it again the next night and when to pull it back and take it easy to preserve it.
I learned the huge variety of ways my voice can be adversely affected by cold, cough, illness, phlegm, etc. You open your mouth and only have maybe 40% of your normal voice. While you are normally a belter, that doesn’t work tonight so you have to sing in a completely different way to just eke out as much sound as you can. Sometimes your high range is just gone so you have to do a lot more falsetto than normal (strangely, through all of it, my falsetto was always there). Some nights you just have no stamina, vocally. You start out feeling like your voice has finally recovered, but then as the night goes on, it deteriorates. Some nights your mouth and throat just seem determined to be a barren desert no matter how much water, tea, lozenges,and throat spray (multiple types) you use, and again, your voice quickly deteriorates. One night, the only way I could get a decent performance was to constantly keep Grether’s Pastilles in my mouth while singing, and all night long I was super paranoid and careful about making sure I didn’t suck it down my windpipe. There were just so many different ways in which my voice could be hobbled by illness and each had to be dealt with in its own way. Some nights my voice was just unpredictable and erratic. With singing six nights a week, I could really tell the difference after our one night off. The next night everything would be so much more effortless. So much so that I would sometimes overshoot or overpower a note. I got to know my voice more completely than ever.
I’ve been playing music for 36 years and singing for around 32 years. Vocally, I’ve always been kind of wild, chaotic, untrained and quite frankly, lucky that my voice has performed so well all these years under those conditions. I come out of this journey with so much valuable experience, knowledge and wisdom. I come out of this a better singer, performer, and just overall a better person. It didn’t solve any life problems or banish any ghosts or demons (you can’t run away from those, no matter how hard you try or how far you run), but I think it gave me (mostly) what I was looking for from it and more.
I will miss every single person who I have crossed paths with in this adventure and I emerge from this a richer person than I entered it. Time for new adventures, of which I already have many waiting when I get home.
To quote Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books (a quote I’ve used before and will again as I find it so powerful in its simplicity and context), “Well, I’m back.”
Or, you know, I will be after a week at Disney World and Universal Studios.