Hi kids. Been a while. Got my head in a better place, though. I might make it through life yet.
I wanted to talk about my critters a little bit. Sarah and I are known for our little menagerie and fondness for animals in general. They’re old now – especially Otis. She adopted me when I had my first apartment. The complex didn’t allow pets but kitty gave zero fucks. I used to come home to giant grasshoppers on my doormat. Now her back legs don’t work very well, her sight is fading and she spends most of her time outside away from the rest of us. But she spent most of last night curled up next to me and woke me up to be petted (not fed! Or let out!) this morning. She’s a funny old gal.
Oscar is stupid. But nobody has EVER loved me like he does. His bones are starting to hurt and he’s slowing way down. Doesn’t stop him from yowling at the top of his lungs at 3 AM though. We think he’s lost when he does that.
We’ve talked about my gender-bending bird. We still refer to him as male. He doesn’t give a shit.
Then there’s the dog. The goddamned (yes I said GD, you would too) stubbornest, stupidest, ill manneredest SOB…. Grrr. We didn’t get along for a while. But things are different now. Wanna know how I did it? I let myself be the alpha male. Not just following my dad’s example because I thought that’s how you were supposed to do things. I read some Cesar Milan to learn how to get into Buck’s head a little better and off we went. I took him on my walks at first and we learned to understand each other. I learned that it’s a give and take relationship for him – I get to be the boss but I also have a responsibility to take care of him, and he’s going to hold me to it. I learned to see him for what he is and how he thinks. In return, I’ve gotten a buddy. He’s still stupid. He’s still stubborn. But he barks at me for ice cream. He lays outside the bathroom when I shower. He hangs out with me when I practice my guitar. It’s a good feeling, you know? There’s a rightness to it, a balance.
I’ve got some more thoughts surrounding the babies but they’ll have to wait, I got stuff to do. Bye.
So I’ve been playing a small open mic night once a week. Nothing big – show up, drink a couple of beers, play for 10 minutes, drink a couple more beers, go home. Five years ago I couldn’t bring myself to get back on the stage. I tried setting goals, psyching myself up – and failed. But what a difference 18 months makes.
I still have a long way to go. My guitar is iffy – last night I kept forgetting the progression on a song I’d already played onstage. I’m still not as comfortable onstage as I’d like, but that’s getting better. Vocally, I’ve lost a lot of flexibility and it’s not as resonant as I would like, but I’ve still got some power and I think I can fix most of my problem spots.
Music is my truth. It’s what I love. And now I can share that truth and love without trying to hide it at the same time.
If I could get the hair on my back to migrate to my face that would be fucking FANTASTIC.
All right cats and kitties – life has just gotten mega interesting. Put your spiritual hat on for this one and get ready for a story.
I am a Redditor. Not a good one, but I spend a good amount of time lurking and snarking at people when it’s necessary. I found this video. I realized then and there that I HAD to have one. Then I found out how much they cost. So after some Googling,I found something called the hank drum. Bingo!
Here’s what happened:
I made one.
I fucking LOVED it. Seriously.
I showed the drum to Friend. Friend dug it.
I decided to make Friend one for his birthday.
Here’s where things get strange:
I decided to work on this drum in my garage. My garage is not a pleasant place to work. The walls aren’t finished, it’s dark, and it’s not ventilated so it gets crazy hot in there. (We rent.) But if I work with the door open it’s still better than my tiny, shadeless patio.
So I’m out there grinding metal with earplugs in, happen to look up and see this older gentleman out for a walk, we wave, no big deal.
Ten or so minutes later he makes his way back around. At this point I’ve stopped to change out my cutting wheel. Now keep in mind that I’m sweaty and filthy dirty in a crappy pair of shorts and a white t shirt (in homage to my late Gramps). Well, older gentleman stops to talk.
Hoo boy. Okay, so being the good Southern boy that I am, I let him strike up a chat. No, I did not shoot on sight. He wanted to know about the drum, about which I happily told him everything I knew. Of course this whole time I’m kinda creeped out, but playing it cool. So after a few minutes, here it came:
“When you die, do you know where your soul is going to end up?”
Thank you, small town upbringing. I knew exactly how to handle him – blow smoke. Conversation ends and he goes on his way, no harm done.
But one of the things we talked about was how maybe God’s answer is no, yadda yadda. But then he said “Sometimes the answer is ‘wait.'”
That gave me pause and I filed it away for further consideration. I don’t cling to any religious or non religious doctrine, but I tend to lean toward Druidic/all gods are one concepts.
Upon further consideration, I noticed I’ve had more doors open for me since that conversation than I’ve had in years. I’m not sure where they’re going, but it’s better than walking down an endless hallway.
And what led me to be in the garage that day, doing something that made me happy and some dude gave me a message that said ‘wait?’
Kinda gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Ok, I’m not going to cry in this post. I wanted to take a look at the other side of the coin just to be fair.
One of the things I am most proud of in my life is my near-encyclopedic musical knowledge. I don’t mean this indie hipster self-fellating bullshit (Mumford and Sons et al. can go pound sand). I mean old, OLD shit that most people don’t know ever existed. I learned about Les Paul and Mary Ford, Peggy Lee, the Ink Spots, Marlene Dietrich and a ton of other stuff. I have my dad to thank for a lot of that. I’m not sure he knows how much I know though.
He built what was intended to be a shed in the backyard when I was little. I appropriated it for a clubhouse. He didn’t put anything in it for years. I just played in it.
I went home for Easter six or seven years ago and it turned out I’d picked up a stomach bug. I was in the bathroom tossing my cookies at 2 AM and I heard him wake my mom up – “Hey babe? E’s throwing up. You better go check on her.” That actually made me laugh.
I went to work. I bought a truck. I lost my job. Guess who picked up my truck note?
So a lot of what I’m struggling with is that I just don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. How can someone be a complete ogre and a Good Guy Greg at the same time? Seriously, what am I supposed to do with that? Sometimes I feel like it’s tearing me in half. I don’t mean to be dramatic, it’s just really really frustrating. And my mom is right in the middle. But that’s another blog post.
Today is Father’s Day, or will be by the time I finish writing this.
This may be my heaviest post yet. I try to keep things as light as I can here, but I need to try to sort some stuff out.
If you’ve known me for very long, especially VERY long, you know I’m not always the nicest guy around. This was especially true in my early 20’s. I don’t have any excuses for that and I’m trying to get better. I was like that a lot in part because I had been a punching bag for most of my life – verbal at school, but once I got home in the afternoon it was emotional and sometimes physical as well.
If you know me, you know I don’t talk about my dad much. My mom and I had an almost normal relationship – she was pretty controlling, but her heart was in the right place. Usually.
My dad, on the other hand, was the most unhappy person I’ve ever met. His life wasn’t easy – he grew up during the Depression and WWII. His dad died of tuberculosis in the early 40s and my dad had TB himself about that time. His family was dirt poor – as soon as he got home from the sanitorium (Google it, I’m tired) he pretty much went to work. He could have gone to TCU on a football scholarship, but this was back when you wore a tie to class instead of your pajama pants and bar T-shirt and he couldn’t afford clothes.
Ok, life goes on. My mom was his second marriage and I’m actually his sixth kid – but I won’t go into all that.
He worked at a job he hated for 30 years. That’s fine, we all have jobs we hate, but because of his principles, he made it harder on himself than he needed to.
Here’s where I come in. The first clear memory I have of him is him screaming in my face because I had screamed because there was a giant roach on my bed. I was three years old.
Life goes on some more and I turn seven. It’s Christmastime and I forget to put my bicycle away one evening. He comes home from work after I’ve gone to sleep and I’m awakened by him screaming at my mom to get me out of bed to put my goddam bicycle away. The next morning I am informed I’m not getting any Christmas presents.
I was never a good student, folks. I’m no dummy, but I’m not a good student. When I brought home four B’s on my report card he told me I was stupid. When I forgot to show him said report card as soon as I got home one grading period…well, then I was a sneak and a liar. Same when I forgot to put the milk away one time. Okay, everybody gets in trouble for leaving the milk out at least once in their life, but I bet you didn’t get flung across the room for it. You get the picture.
You know that old saying that you can judge a man by how he treats his inferiors? You should have seen how he treated my pets. They bought me a West Highland white terrier in the spring of 1985. He beat the hell out of it on a regular basis and finally killed it in 1987. I had a cat, too. Kitty died in 1999 of old age/kidney failure, but there were days I didn’t think she was going to make it either. Needless to say, when we have to take Zero with us down to my parents’ house, my dad isn’t allowed to touch him. Ever wonder what it’s like to not let your dad play with your kids?
Highschool? Shit, I could write a book. Seriously. I’d get home from school (and we all know how THAT goes when you’re as different as I am) and he’d unload on me for SOMETHING, usually at the dinner table, three or four times a week. Usually my bad attitude, but sometimes something I not only hadn’t done, but had no idea what he was even talking about.
The point of all my dirty laundry is this: my mom still expects me to do the usual Father’s Day crap. All I can bring myself to do is send him a card. My dad is not well – he takes 19 pills a day, has COPD and will be having heart surgery next month***. I knew this time would come and I would have to deal with these feelings. This is the blowout I had with my mom a couple months ago. She ignored all his bullshit for a long time. You know, things other women would have packed up and left over. And the impression I get is that she thinks I should just let it all go – that he still loved me through everything. She’s right, to an extent. It doesn’t do any good to dwell on it, it’s actually poisoned my life for a lot of years. But it happened, and it’s given me nasty anxiety and ZERO self-confidence.
Whether he loved me or not, whatever his stress levels/issues were, that wasn’t my fault. When I have a shitty day at work, I come home and I love my family. I’m glad I have them. My boss’s/coworkers’ idiocy isn’t Oscar’s fault.
So for all my friends that are good dads and my friends that have good dads, enjoy it. Be glad for Dad. Myself, I think I’ll sit this one out.
*** I was mistaken. He is not yet scheduled for heart surgery. He has an appointment with the cardiologist who may or may not do surgery.
Howdy. It’s been a while again, but there’s not been a whole lot going on.
I’ve finally decided to start the process to legally change my name. It might take a while. Red tape and lawyers. Fun.
We went back to Comicpalooza this year and had a MUCH better time. I got Patrick Stewart’s autograph! I also flirted with some belly dancers. It was nice to finally not feel like I needed to hide and shy away from new people.
I saw my PCP earlier this week. Good visit. I’m 38 pounds down and my blood pressure is just about normal. All right for me! She did say I was pushing myself too hard and that I needed to still be walking rather than running. She might be right, my weight loss seems to have slowed. My next goal is 50 pounds by September, so we’ll see.
I’ve been on this CRAZY creative streak. I designed a quilt with my mom, built a couple of drums out of propane tanks, and I’ve designed a light backpack that I’ll be working on more this summer. I’m thinking about selling them. The drums too, if I can get good enough at making them.
So that’s what’s up.