Crash

It’s Friday night and there are many things that I would rather be doing than sitting at home writing a blog post. I was going to use the excuse that it was too bitterly cold out to do anything else and that may still be true but I’ve also looked at the weather forecast and it looks like this might be as good as it gets until Tuesday or Wednesday.  If that’s the case, I might just want to get this done so that I can go have some fun before life gets any worse. In any case, yesterday deserves a blog post.

I woke yesterday to what may have been the coldest morning of the season. Maybe it wasn’t but I wouldn’t know. I usually don’t wake up before noon so all I know is that it was the coldest morning I had experienced. It was really cold and it was really early but I needed to take my daughter to her therapy appointment and I was determined to get her there. I’m usually willing to acquiesce to the weather but given how little time my daughter and I spend together, I wasn’t going to give in without a fight.

My biggest concern was whether my van would start. It’s been doing pretty well all winter but I know it doesn’t like starting when it is really cold. It did bitch and complain a little but eventually I got it started. I had given myself plenty of time just incase I had to make other plans so I let the van warm up while I went back inside. I have a feeling that was illegal but that’s the kind of criminal mastermind I am.

I picked up my daughter at eight o’clock which gave us plenty of time to get to Bloomington by nine. We did hit rush-hour that was heading into downtown so it was slow going for a few miles. I noticed at one point traffic had come to a complete stop. I hit the brakes but I was on glare ice. I started pumping and steering towards the shoulder but nothing was happening. I had given myself plenty of room between me and the big white cargo van in front of me. I kept hoping that I would catch pavement and able to stop but that hope quickly faded. I knew I was going to hit the van. I laid on the horn. I don’t know what I thought that would do but I felt like I owned the person in front of me some warning.

I was traveling at maybe ten miles per-hour at the point of impact but it was still a real crash. I’m just glad that the car behind me was either better able to handle the road conditions or driven by a more experienced driver. It could easily have been much worse. The driver of the white van and I pulled over to the side of the road and got out to assess the damage. I wasn’t even concerned about my van although I did later discover that the cover to my headlight was completely smashed. My main concern was that my daughter and the other driver were not injured. Luckily no one was hurt and the only damage to his van was that I cracked his bumper.

As far as car crashes go, this was pretty minor but it was the most serious accident that I have had with another vehicle. I’ve never been in the position of having to exchange insurance information and this situation didn’t go down that way either. The other driver was in a hurry to get to work so we just exchanged phone numbers. That’s a lot of trust that he put  in me and I hope I can live up to it. There is no doubt that this will be an expensive experience but in the long run it will probably be cheaper than going through insurance.

I hate cars. I hate driving and I really hate accidents. The worst accidents can ruin your life. A bad accident can ruin your week, month or year but even a minor accident can ruin your day. I still had a lot to do that day so I was determined not to let it get me down. Even with all that I still got my daughter to her appointment with plenty of time to spare. After that I dropped her off at school and headed to my friend’s house so I could watch her son while she went to work.

I had completely forgot about the accident when my left arm started hurting. I just blamed it on playing Nintendo Wii with the boy but I know now that it was a result of the crash. Nothing is broken and I’m sure that it will heal eventually but it is going to take some time. That is one of the downsides to aging. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only downside. It just takes longer to heal.

The babysitter arrived at five and I left to pick up my daughter. She and two of her friends had gotten a ride to one of the girl’s houses after school. The three of them had decided to start taking belly dance lesson so I drove them all to the class. I hadn’t really planned on driving them all home afterwards but that’s the way it turned out. This is what being a parent of a teenager means. I’m grateful that I still have kids in my life who need their butt wiped but at my daughter’s age, my job is to facilitate their independence and their interaction with their peers. They don’t really need me.

Still, my daughter thanked me.

Her mother thanked me.

I thanked the fact that I still have a twenty year-old mini-van that got me through the day!

Tales from the tundra

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I keep wondering why I live here. I seems insane but the rational answer is pretty straight forward. This is where my house is. This is where my family and friends are. This is where my band is but most importantly, this is where I am. To be someplace different would require some sort of radical change and as of this moment, it hasn’t happened. So here I am.

I hate to complain about the weather. It gets old pretty quick. Still it’s a major factor in my life and a key character in many of my stories.  It makes life pretty hard sometimes but a hard life is an interesting life. For the past week I have been unable to write anything so the stories have been piling up. I was just starting to believe that the worst of winter was over when last Thursday arrived. I did manage to write a little bit before the full reality of the situation sunk in:

We are in the midst of what may turn out to be the worst blizzard of the season. I was sitting at the bar across from our rehearsal studio waiting to find out whether we would be rehearsing tonight. Venus was freaking out  because s/he couldn’t get out of the driveway due to the neighbor’s car being stuck in the snow. S/he finally decided to cancel rehearsal. It was the right call. Sometimes the weather just gets to be too much. The roads are extremely dangerous for driving plus there would be no place to park downtown. All of the roads are snow emergency routes and our parking lot is at the bottom of a hill that we would never be able to get back up through half a foot of snow.

I decided to grab a slice of pizza and another beer. The meter was plugged for an hour so I figured I might as well get my money’s worth. I slugged through the snow back to my van. Another inch or more had fallen while I was in the bar. I could feel the effect of the two beers which is my indication that I shouldn’t be driving. I knew I was probably close to the legal limit but knowing how high strung I am in driving conditions like the I figure a little anxiety reduction might do me well. I was five miles from home and it’s pretty much a straight shot. I only had to make three turns. I fired up my van and blasted the defrost while I brushed the newly fallen snow from my windows.

It took me several attempts driving forwards and backwards to get my vehicle dislodged enough to make it onto the road. I was on my way. The first two stop lights were green and I sailed through. The third had just turned yellow. Maybe I could have stopped but under these conditions there was no guarantee. I decided to gun it. I made it through but not before the light turned red. I looked in my rear view mirror, through my half-defrosted rear window, to see the red and blue flashing lights of a squad car. I pulled over to the side of the road.

Luckily the police were not interested in me. They were on there way to something more important than a semi-intoxicated rockstar running red lights on his way home in a blizzard.

That was actually just the final story of a day filled with stories. Had I had it in me that night, I would have written another thousand or more words. Now that almost a week has passed I’m hoping I can do it in far fewer.

I awoke last Thursday a tad  hung-over and without enough sleep. After rehearsal the night before I had stopped by Transmission at Club Jager to speak with Simon about performing in one of his Singer-Songwriter showcases. It had been quite awhile since I last attended one of Jake Rudh’s dance nights and I wound up staying later than I had anticipated. Since there was a taxi sitting outside the bar when I left I opted to leave my bike locked up and get a ride home. It probably only saved me fifteen minutes but I knew that the next day was going to be a big one and I could use all the sleep I could get.

The day started out pretty smoothly. The weather service was sounding the alarms but there was no sign yet of the calamity which was about to ensue. I picked up my daughter from her cousin’s house and delivered her safely to her school in south Minneapolis. My next order of business was an appointment with my daughter’s mother and the therapist in Bloomington. It wasn’t for another hour and a half but I figured I should head in that direction just in case.

Arriving safely in Bloomington with an hour to spare I decided to stop for a leisurely breakfast and some inspirational reading to calm my nerves before the therapy appointment.  As it turned out what I really needed calm nerves for was just the drive to the therapist’s office. I rolled out of my parking spot but as soon as I hit five miles-per-hour the whole van started shaking.

“Oh great!”, I thought to myself, “Now what’s wrong?”

I found that once I hit thirty-five miles-per-hours the shaking stopped but there was still a sound that I wasn’t familiar with. I was pretty sure that it was something structural and not an engine issue so I just kept going hoping the van wouldn’t fall apart or explode. In case you haven’t figured it out already, it was just a flat tire.

The therapy session actually went pretty well… at least for me. I don’t think my ex-wife was too happy with the way things went. I’m pretty sure that she went into the session with the agenda of making me look like the bad-guy and somehow forcing me to change my wicked ways. I wish that she would learn that I don’t respond to threats or guilt-trips and that she would have a much better chance of getting what she wants if she just asked. I guess that wouldn’t be as much fun.

She did accuse me of never being willing to drive my daughter; a pretty ridiculous claim given that I had just dropped her off at school an hour and a half earlier.

I simply replied, “I don’t agree with that statement.”

My ex later brought up, “You know, I don’t even have to let you see her. You’re not her legal father. You have no right to see her. The only reason why you have a relationship with her at all is because I encourage it.”

I didn’t even know where to begin with that statement. I felt like she was looking for some gratitude but considering that I had just gone six months without seeing my daughter I wasn’t feeling very grateful. Also, law does not make someone a dad. Being a dad is in the heart and my daughter knows who her dad is. It really has nothing to do with the law or her mother. I have a relationship with my daughter because I have a relationship with my daughter.

The therapist tried to get at what I want. She suggested that I want to spend time with my daughter and have her stay at my house. I understood what she was getting at but I expressed that this isn’t about what I want. This is about what my daughter wants. I am here to help her. Yes, having her in my life helps me. It makes my life better but that is a byproduct. It is not my purpose. My purpose is to give.

Then came up the money issue. For all I know this may be at the root of everything. This may be why my ex wants me to adopt my daughter. She may believe that she will be able to get money out of me if I am the legal father. I understand the motivation. I know how hard, and at times, expensive it is to raise a child on your own. But coming after me for money is just silly. I have a little and there is nothing that I enjoy more than spending it on my kids but I’m not going to part with it through guilt or extortion. I’m not entering into a financial relationship with my ex.

I’m not entering into any kind of relationship with my ex. I did that for six years and gave it my all and it wasn’t enough. My ex’s expressed concern is how to keep our daughter from being put in the middle. My concern is that my ex is trying to put herself in the middle of my relationship with my teenage daughter. I wish that it was different. It’s pretty sad that I can’t have a relationship with my ex. It’s sad for me, it’s sad for my daughter and it’s sad for my ex. I love her and wish her nothing but the best but I simply can’t do it. I guess six years of an abusive relationship which ended in my daughter being taken away for me and being falsely accused of domestic violence has left a bad taste in my mouth.  I don’t know, maybe I’m the asshole. It’s got to suck not being able to manipulate me and control me through the systems this society has been built upon. I do really own my ex a debt of gratitude for teaching me how to not get sucked into that bullshit ever again.

Anyway, I think the therapist likes me. I asked her for her help with my flat tire and she put me in contact with the buildings maintenance person. My ex asked why I didn’t have AAA and I couldn’t even respond. The truth is that I dropped it because I couldn’t afford it. This has forced me to ask friends, neighbors and even strangers for help. AAA is awesome and I will probably get it again but having to ask people for help has actually made me a better person.

The maintenance guy was able to inflate my tire enough to get me to Discount Tire. They replaced the flat tire for free and I bought a new tire to replace one that was dangerously bald. The snow was falling pretty heavy at this point so I knew I could use all the traction I could get.

The drive back into the city was horrifying. Traffic on the freeway was moving at thirty-five miles per hour but occasional big trucks would fly by me and splash snowy mush on my van completely covering my windshield. This happened twice. I also nearly ran into a utility pole when I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting the street corner beggar who decided to walk out into the intersection. Even with new tires the road provided no traction and I just slid until I was stopped by the curb.

When I picked up my daughter from school I went to talk to the director. Through the therapy session I learned that tuition hadn’t been paid for a couple months. I wanted to find out how much it was so that I could take care of it. Apparently my ex had informed the school that I am not the “real” dad so they wouldn’t give me the information. I totally understand that. It’s a new school and I don’t want them getting into legal hot water but for the past fifteen years, I’ve never had this problem. If my ex hadn’t made a stink about it, tuition would have been paid.

After that my daughter and I went to hang out with my almost four year-old friend so his mother could go to work. His dad would return in a couple hours and I would be able to make the long trek to the northern suburbs where my daughter and her dog live. By this time most of the cars had made it off the roads but it was still treacherous driving. It took me two hours to get her home and then get back downtown Minneapolis for rehearsal. I picked up my bike at Club Jager which was a challenge to get into my van now that I have re-installed the seats in my minivan so that I can haul kids.

[Shit, I’m already at over 2,000 words and I still have five more days to write about. I should just give up. No one is going to read this but I don’t care. I’m on a roll.]

Friday, I don’t think I did anything. Even if I did I’m sure it’s not worth writing about. Saturday was a much more interesting day.

Saturday was our big gig at The Amsterdam in Saint Paul. The roads were still unsafe to drive on but I let too much of the day pass to get downtown to the studio any other way than to drive. Plus, our drummer needed a ride and he lives pretty close to me so I stopped by to pick him up. I got to the studio about fifteen minutes late which was perfect because Venus was just as late. S/he was concerned about getting the band van out of the parking lot so she had me test it out. I drove down the hill into the parking lot and then tried to get out. I made it to the top of the hill and there I was stuck… actually I started to slip backwards towards the four-wheel drive truck that was at the base of the hill.

Anyway, there was no way we could load out through the loading dock. We would need to load out through the front of the building by taking all of our equipment up in the elevator. I have long since tried figuring out why I do this and have just accepted that it is what I do. It’s stupid as shit but… so what!

We made it to the venue about an hour later than expected but everything during the show ran pretty smoothly. Hardly anyone showed up because the weather was so crappy but that also has stopped bothering me. I think it still bothers Venus and of course we didn’t make very much money but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I actually had a lot of fun at that show because I just didn’t care. From my perspective, it was one of our best shows.

Getting back to the studio was a bit of an ordeal. We made it downtown but at one stop light we found ourselves unable to move. The temprature had dropped turning packed snow into glare ice. We couldn’t move forwards or backwards. Venus came up with the brilliant idea of sticking a piece of carpet under one of the rear tires for traction. It worked but I had to grab the carpet and jump into the van while it was still moving. We didn’t stop for any lights the rest of the way.

Of course I still had to get my van up the hill and out of the parking lot. I backed up to the end of the parking lot to give myself a running start and luckily made it out of the hole. Venus on the other hand had quite an adventure getting home. She had to stop and use the carpet trick a number of times on her own to get home. I’ve been watching a number of rock-n-roll documentaries about the crazy things that rock bands go through. Venus has a good one about hi/r called, Venus of Mars. I just can’t help but think about all the crazy shit that never get’s filmed. I would have loved to see Venus in the middle of Lake Street putting a piece of carpet under the rear tire in fishnets and a corset hoping and praying that she didn’t get hit by some drunk driver. That would be good cinema.

We did both make it home alive. It’s funny to me how exciting survival can be. We humans do all sorts of crazy things to feel alive but when you play in a rock band in Minnesota, just getting home from work can be an adventure.

I woke up around noon on Sunday to find some brilliant pictures from the show the night before. This is one of my favorite.

All The Pretty Horse - Amsterdam

I’m the guy on the right, Venus is on the left and our drummer Jazz is in the middle.

I wasn’t planning on doing anything Sunday. I tried getting a hold of my daughter. I had been trying for days with no luck. This day was no different. I also was worried about a friend of mine who is struggling because of this weather but I couldn’t get a hold of her either. That is really what makes living here suck so much. It’s not just that it is hard for me. It’s also hard for all of the people I care about. Anyway, it seemed like a good day to lay in bed and watch Netflix.

I wound up falling asleep. When I woke up I had a hankering for junk food… something I don’t keep in my house. I would have to venture out into the tundra. The local convenience store is five blocks away but across the street from the convenience store is the T-Shoppe, the local dive bar. Please click on that link. I know if you have made it this far you have already read more than you wanted to today but it’s a good article about a dying breed. The T-Shoppe is one of the last two remaining 3.2 bars in Minneapolis. Anyway, I said fuck the convenience store, the bar has crappy pizza… and beer.

I only go in there once or twice a year but they still know my name. The bartender says, “Slumming it are we?”

I respond, “I don’t think of it that way. I’m just working with what I’ve got.”

The fact is I have some of the best times at the T-Shoppe. It’s always filled with of the an incredible array of the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet. I met a lovely young woman from Alaska. I nice man from Central Mexico. I also witnessed an amazing dance performance by a young woman who was at the bar with her dad. I wound up closing down the bar which isn’t such a big deal given that they usually close by midnight even though last call  in Minneapolis is two AM.

I returned home and continued drinking. Still needing human interaction I wound up making a number of drunken phone calls. I talked to a guy who is working on a computer program that will revolutionize the way we deal with programs that all of a sudden stop working. I also talked to a dear friend of mine who has been going through some pretty rough shit but for some reason hasn’t called me. I do worry sometimes that I might get overwhelmed with people asking me for help but currently that is not my problem.

I woke up Monday with two people asking me for help. I spent the evening baby-sitting my almost four year-old friend and then drove to Northfield, MN to be with my friend who was going through some pretty rough shit. I spent the night there and drove back to Minneapolis on Tuesday for my therapy appointment.

After that I decided that I would go home and do nothing. I would have been successful at the doing nothing part but I wound up watching this documentary on Netflix called “Absent“. It’s about the modern reality of a fatherless society. It really kind of messed me up. I highly recommend watching it.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Time to go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be another big day. I get to see my daughter again!

This is it

It’s been a roller coaster ride but I feel like it has come to an end. I’m ready to start again. My mind is clear; I have purpose and understanding. I know who I am and I’m okay with myself. I’m okay with my situation and I’m okay with whatever happens next. It’s one of those rare moments when I actually feel like I have my shit together. It’s in these moments that I realize what I have and all that I have is what I give; all that I have received has come to me through giving.

I got home late Thursday morning with the intention of just being. It was a pretty cold and gloomy day so I didn’t have high hopes. I cracked a beer and sat down to write. Before long I recieved a text message from one of my friends who is going through a breakup. I had recieved a message from her Tuesday night letting me know that her boyfriend of fourteen years was dumping her. She was now ready to talk and I was ready and able to be there for her. Normally I would have wanted to be sober to meet with her but she was going to have to accept me as I was. I knew that she was one of those friends who would be willing to do that.

When she arrived I suggested that we go to Clubhouse Jager to eat. I had been craving Aura’s food and I knew that my friend would enjoy it as well. I really can’t say enough about Aura’s cooking but I’m afraid if I do she will get swept up by some restaurant that I can’t afford. Everything she makes is seriously the best I have ever had. Thankfully nobody reads my blog so I can keep her my little secret.

After dinner we returned to my house and talked for another five hours while I polished off the six-pack in my refrigerator.

I was just there to listen and help anyway I could but in the process I received a great epiphany. I think that I have an idea for a book, or at least an article for this blog. It’s not like I have any shortage of inspiration in my life. I come up with great ideas all the time. I just want to acknowledge that they come to me when I am giving to others. I still have to figure out what to do with all of them but that’s a story for another day.

My friend Alex Velocity has been wanting me to be a guest on his online radio show BANGWAVE for quite some time. It finally happened Friday. I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous but I had no excuse to put it off any longer. I figured I would just go and give what I had to give and see what happened. It was fun and it was inspirational. I love being part of other people’s creative endeavours. You can find the results here.

I was actually amazed that I was able to pull it off but not for the reason one might think. Sure, I have a lot of apprehension about recording my voice. I worry about embarrassing myself but so what; I can handle the embarrassment. The real challenge for me was the drive out there. I hate driving and it took me twice as long to get there as it should have because I kept freaking out and taking wrong turns and the whole time I was terrified of dying. I had a job driving for many years but not because I enjoy driving. I did it because I loved the company and it was something I could do. I had a van because I had a family and I wanted to work so I looked at what I had and I worked with what I’ve got. I loved the job but I hated the driving and that is why quit. That is why I want to get rid of my van. That, and the fact that it’s costing me money even if I don’t drive it. It’s just stupid for me to own a vehicle.

But since I have it I might as well use it to do things that I couldn’t do without it. So I drove and did the radio show. While I was there I realized that I was one third of the way to my son’s school and he was performing his first headlining show with his band 8-bit Johnson. So I drove another two hours to my son’s school. I seriously don’t know how I made it. I was terrified the entire time. I knew the way but it was dark and traveling at seventy miles an hour with other vehicles on the road just seemed like suicide… and I wasn’t feeling very suicidal. I really just wanted to make it to see my son.

I made it in time to surprise him before he went on stage. He rocked the house for a good hour and a half. I can’t tell you how proud I am because pride doesn’t even begin to explain it. What I really felt was an astounding combination of confusion and serendipity.  It was like sifting for gold in the stream to discover that the real value was in the water.  I never raised my son to be a rock star. I raised him to be a good person. Yet there he was, doing both, better than I ever could. Yeah, I came there for him but he gave me more than I could ever have hoped for.

I could have stayed in Morris but I felt my bed calling me. I’m really trying to be productive at home and I know that I’m more productive at doing “home” work when I wake up at home. Plus I was feeling rather energized after seeing my son play and I knew I could make it. The drive home was so much less terrifying. I could see the near full moon shining in the night sky above me and that gave me a sense of peace.

I got home shortly after two in the morning. I was still pretty wired from all the caffeine I had been drinking. There was a text message on my phone from the friend I was with Wednesday night. She sounded like she was having an unsettling night so I wrote her back to say that I was still up and at home if she wanted to talk.

Half an hour later I recieved a text that simply said “Xoxo”.

She never saw my response but it pretty much summed up the rest of my night. I wrote, “<3 I’m pretty tired but way too sober so I’m drinking cheap beer & cheap whiskey and watching Louis CK videos on YouTube. Gonna spend the day at home tomorrow becoming a better person. At least that’s the plan.”

I think Louis CK is brilliant. We opened the BANGWAVE program with some of his comedy. I may have to do a whole post about Louis CK but here is his bit about wanting to be a better person.

You can buy the whole show for five measly dollars on his website.

I woke up Saturday ready to start back up that rollercoaster. That’s when I started this post. I had decided not drink that day and keep my head clear. The problem was it was too clear and I was flooded with thoughts that didn’t seem to give me any direction. I basically just stumbled around waiting for something to happen that was more important than me.

Then I got a text from my daughter, the one I hadn’t heard anything from in over two months. She informed me that she had an appointment with her therapist scheduled. Apparently the deal is that she doesn’t want to talk to me until she can meet with me, her mother and her therapist together. Frankly, I think that is a brilliant idea although I don’t think that the issues have to do with me and my daughter.  There may be issues that her mom has with me or that my daughter has with her mom but having an impartial third party present could help up get to the bottom of it. And if my daughter does have issues with me that she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about without her therapist, I’m open to that too. I think it’s kind of childish but she is a child. I have no idea what is going on in her brain. I’m just glad that there is a way forward and I’m willing to try anything.

The problem is that the appointment is not for another month. That means that my daughter won’t be going on the family vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico next week. I tried over the next couple days to work through that issue but it is a non-starter. It is what it is but it was worth trying.

Next came a call from my friend who recently moved to California. She has epilepsy and is going through a breakup so she’s homeless at the moment. She’s got all sorts of crazy shit going on but also a lot of good things are happening.  She’s somewhat like me, somewhere in the middle; not everything is falling apart but it’s not all coming up roses either. We talked for a little over an hour until hunger got the best of me and I had to find something to eat.

With my primary need for food satisfied I returned to my quest for motivation but I kept being distracted by the thoughts in my head. The overriding one was that I still hadn’t heard anything from the friend I had recieved a text from the night before. I don’t typically get bent out of shape over these things. There are a million and one reasons why someone might not get back to me but this was unusual and so I decided to follow my instincts and tried reaching out one more time. I still got no response. It turned out that she had left her phone at a friend’s place and that I actually had nothing to worry about. Oh well, shit happens!

During this time I got a text from the friend I was with Thursday night. She was downtown at the Toad The Wet Sprocket show. She had an extra ticket and wanted to know if I could join her. Of course I could. I obviously wasn’t doing anything else and would do anything for her.

I should mention that I put Toad in a genre that I like to call lowest-common-denominator music. It’s not quite as derogatory as it may sound. It just means good music that is accessible to as many people as possible. Most musicians would consider that a good thing. It is a good thing, I guess, if that’s what you’re in to. I’m glad that people are in to it because most of the songs I write would fit into that category. It’s just not the kind of music that makes my dick hard. I like things that are new, shocking, different and blow my mind. I guess that’s why I play in Venus’ band rather than my own. Still, I respect anyone who can write and perform a good song so of course I was going to go.

That is a good song.

I was also feeling grateful that I had decided not to drink that day. Hanging out with sober people when I’ve been drinking is still awkward to me. I have no problem with drunk people when I’m sober but the other way around is weird.

Still, this was a challenge.  Being in a crowd of people is anxiety producing for me. Also standing or sitting in one spot for an hour is painful. Without alcohol, I felt all of that. Now if this had been a metal show or a rave, it might not have been so bad but this was Toad The Wet Sprocket. There was not a lot of moving around, people slamming into each other or massive amounts of drugs. So my whole body hurt, I had stabbing pains in my chest, a tightness around my throat, pain in my teeth and my right eye was twitching. It was fucking incredible!

But hey,  another day that worked out just fine. I had no direction but enough people to provide me with something meaningful to do. I’ll take that.

Sunday was good as well. I had diner at my parents so we could discuss the trip to Mexico. Then I went to Venus’ annual pre-Thanksgiving day Squid Fest party. I could say more about it but I’m getting bored with talking about my life. I’m going to end this blog post here. I have a feeling that things are about to go in a different direction.

See you tomorrow with something new…

Boys don’t cry

Ah… what a day.

I hate driving and so when I have to drive I try to get all my driving business done in one shot. So today I delivered City Pages, went to the co-op, got cat food, dumped my recycling, did a “break-up” exchange of borrowed items, retrieved my synth which has been on loan for three months (but only needed for a week), stopped by Target and Batteries Plus to get stuff for my pedicab (big pride weekend) and visited my parents. 

Driving around gives me a lot of time for thinking. Did I mention a break-up? Yeah, that was the big thing on my mind today. I could write a lot about that but I can’t do it without including this song:

 

I’ve always loved this song but I’ve never been able to relate to the bridge quite like I have today. 

Misjudged your limits
Pushed you too far
Took you for granted
Thought that you needed me more

I definitely misjudged limits which is easy to do. Still, I never wanted to push anyone too far – but I did.  I would never take anyone for granted  – but I did. This was a situation where I really wanted to. I really wanted to believe that I had that kind of security and so there were times where I acted as if I did. But I was really, really wrong. Perhaps I was right when I said that nothing is for certain, nothing is guaranteed – but I really want to be wrong about that. Mostly I just wish that this person needed me more. I am one of those people who loves to be needed but I’m learning to embrace that fact people can get on just fine without me. I’m just hoping that they get on better with me.

Technically, I don’t know if this is a break up. I don’t actually know what it is. I just know what it feels like and honestly, it’s one of the most heart wrenching experiences of my life. I would put it up there with the way I felt when my daughter wouldn’t talk to me after her mother and I split up.

But what I find interesting is that I’m not crying about it. I’m not laughing or lying, like in the song, but I’m coping. Yes, it’s extremely painful but I feel at peace. In part that is because of what I have been through and what I have learned. My daughter and I now have a great relationship but it wasn’t achieved through fighting or forcing or falling apart, it was achieve through letting go… while never giving up. 

The other reason why I’m not crying is because I still feel so filled with love. I have so much love for this person and there is so much love around me that I know whatever happens – it will be alright. I know that this person will be alright and I know I will be alright. 

But it’s still really stressful… so now I must go dance!

 

Blacked out and lucky

“Sometimes I go to extremes
That’s how I understand what’s in between
Moderation in all things
has got to include moderation it seems”

– Cute Drunk by J Evan LeFreak

I had thought that I lived a pretty wild life but last night really showed me just how tame my life is. That’s probably a good thing. I don’t need to be doing that every day but from time to time it’s a good idea to remind my self just where that limit is.

It all started pretty normal. I had worked 14 hours the day before and didn’t get to bed until 5 in the morning. I woke up around noon with half a dozen txt messages wishing me “Happy Father’s Day”. I responded to them and called my dad to wish him the same. I had hoped that my daughter and I could spend the day at the Stone Arch Art & Music Festival but she wasn’t feeling well so I just drove out to her place and we went for a little walk. I also got to talk to my son who is away at college and spending the summer doing a work study job. He sent me this video.

Done with all my fatherly and son duties it was time for this dad to go play. I hopped on my bike and rode to Grumpy’s. Last summer this was a regular Sunday afternoon activity but not so much this year. I had one beer there before it started to rain and I decided to head to the Knight Cap with has a covered patio. There I met a group of servers who were proceeding to get shit faced wasted after working Father’s day brunch at a nearby restaurant. We became instant friends. I don’t know if it was the pink cowboy hat or the fact that I always answer 24 when someone asks how old I think they are but they really took a liking to me.

After a few drinks at the Knight Cap “G”,”V” & “J” dragged me off to the strip club. It was at this point that I realized I had lost all control over the evening and that I was okay with that. I was concerned about “G” driving because because she seemed pretty drunk but did fine on the way to the strip club. From the strip club to the Saloon is another story. I seriously thought we were going to die.

To make a long story short because I’m running out of time to write and because my memory is a bit foggy from this point on… we did make it to the Saloon alive. I lost track of the crew there and decided to leave. I checked the parking spot and they had left as well. That was fine with me because there was no way I was getting back in that car. The next thing I remember was arriving at Pizza Luce. I don’t remember the walk there so I assume it wasn’t very memorable. I don’t remember if I ordered pizza but I probably did. I know that at this point I had burned through most of the $100 I had when I left the house.  I had just enough money to take a cab home.

I woke up this morning at half past noon feeling a bit hung over and my butt cheek hurting for some reason. My bike is hopefully still locked up outside the Knight Cap. Other than that and the spending too much money, all is good.

What amazes me is that I used to have nights like that all the time. It kind of puts things in perspective. I’m glad that my life has calmed down a bit but I wouldn’t even be aware of that unless I occasionally pushed the limits.

Keep buggering on

It had to end sometime. I knew I couldn’t keep going like that forever, although I certainly tried. One day I was going to wind up dropping. One day I would have to accept that I live with chronic illness. One day is was all going to come to a screeching halt.

That day was yesterday. After sleeping twelve hours I was awakened by a phone call from my bff. Even though I had gotten twice as much sleep as I usually requires, I still couldn’t move. Every inch of my body was in pain. My brain felt scrambled and I couldn’t focus on anything. Even my vision was blurry. I struggled to muster the strength to make it downstairs to the bathroom only to find that I had exhausted all my energy and crawled back to bed. I spend the entire day in bed only moving to use the bathroom or get food. Chewing seemed like an arduous task.

It’s been awhile since I have had a day like that but there was a time when it was my reality more often than not. It has been a long road to get here from the time I first got sick with chronic fatigue syndrome but it never really goes away. It is still common for me to have a day or two a week that are like that. The biggest change is in what I can do when I am able to move.

Last Wednesday should have done me in. I’m pretty sure that if I had gone home after delivering CityPages, it would have.  Instead, I went to the Bad Waitress for dinner and then to the bar. My bff met me there and I crashed on her couch. We had brought a friend back to her place with us because he was concerned about going home to his boyfriend. It sounded like he was in a pretty abusive relationship and his boyfriend had a gun – not a good combination. He had threatened him with the gun in the past. The three of us stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning. The plan was for the boy to spend the night but I don’t even remember falling asleep. All I know is that when I woke up he was gone. We did get a txt from him later to let us know he was okay.

My bff had the day off on Thursday but she still got up with me so we could have coffee together. After a leisurely cup of coffee with my best friend I was off and running… and running late. I had to stop by another best friend’s place to drop off some newspapers to help in her packing. She was moving this month.

I really hope that I can do more to help but that may not happen. The important thing is not what we have to give, but that we give what we have. If we all pull together and do that, things will be okay.

Then next stop was picking up my daughter from school. I was twenty minutes late picking her up. Half of that was me running late, the other half was the weather. I was not alone in being late picking up my kid. There were lots of kids waiting to be picked up. We were under blizzard conditions and the roads were treacherous. I was really excited to take my daughter to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for their Third Thursday event. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that would be wise considering the weather. It was hard enough driving during daylight. I didn’t trust myself to be able to get her home after dark. I hate driving at night even under perfect conditions.

Instead, I just dropped her off at her mother’s and headed home. By the time I got home, I had just enough time to shovel my sidewalk (it was already covered with snow by the time I left again), take a piss, rub one out quick, take a shower and get dressed before hopping on the bus. There was no way I was driving anymore and biking seems totally out of the question but I still needed to get to the MIA. I was running on pure adrenaline.

The reason why getting to the MIA was so important to me was because Lisa Germano was playing. She is the woman who borrowed my synth for South by Southwest and I was really looking forward to meeting her. As it turned out, she cancelled the gig. I guess she canceled the whole tour. I don’t know why. Her website has no explanation but these things happen. Kaiser Cartel also canceled and there is no info on their website either.

Oh well. My friend, Savannah Smith filled in at the last minute, so it was good to see her. My bff went with me and another friend who I hadn’t seen in a while joined us as well. Back when we were all single we used to be kind of three peas in a pod. It was good to have that gang back together.

Still, I was struggling. The weather was really wearing me down. As it turned out, it was probably better that my daughter was not there as I was exhausted by the barriers that were being placed before me.

Don’t I have it hard enough?

I keep going because I am afraid to stop. I know when I stop it is really hard to get going again. I feel like I am running while leaning forward. The only thing that keeps me from falling on my face is that I keep moving. I am constantly falling yet constantly moving. Just like the earth is falling into the sun but keeps missing it. It’s physics.

I keep hoping that it will get easier. I keep hoping that Spring will come. I see signs of hope. I see the snow melt. I feel relief is in sight but it never comes. I just have to keep buggering on.

While at the MIA I was asked how I keep my spirits up. I just raised the beer in my hand and shrugged my shoulders.

The truth is that alcohol is a major part of what keeps me going – that and friends, but in my life, the two are pretty intertwined. Music, writing and biking also keep me going but they don’t mean shit without people.

So I decided I would kidnap my two friends and drag them to my work party. It’s not really what you think of when you think, “work party”. I work for CityPages and they throw some of the best parties in town. This one was a roaring 20’s / bootlegger / flapper themed party. Check out some of these pictures from my friend Erik Hess. None of us were appropriately dressed but that didn’t matter. When I walked in I was told that I was dressed in the wrong decade. I responded that I am every decade. Okay, I was dressed in leopard print pants and probably looked straight out of the ’80 glam metal era but so fucking what.

Since I kidnapped them I figured I should pay for the cab. Apparently all of us had money that night because we were all fighting to pay for each other. I’m telling you, if you want to stimulate the economy; give money to poor people. We will spend it! I was fully prepared to spend the $100 I left the house with. Mostly, I just knew that it would be a challenging night and I didn’t want money to stand in the way of me getting home safe. I have no problem spending money on cabs.

As it turned out we didn’t need to take a cab back. Our friend’s girlfriend came and joined us later in the evening. It was great to have a sober ride home. Well, not home, but to the 19 bar. We were too sober to head home but plenty drunk enough to get into a snowball fight – in the car! You kind of had to be there but feel free to use your imagination. I’m not a good enough writer to do it justice.

After the 19 my bff and I headed back to her place with one of her co-workers. On the walk, we had to stop and make snow angels. It’s kind of a winter tradition for us but our first attempt this year didn’t work out so well. I never thought that we would be fulfilling this mission in April.

Snow Angel in April

I love the imprint of my studded belt.

 

The co-worker only stuck around for a little while waiting for her bus. My bff and I stayed up until at least four in the morning. It was a pretty intense night after a pretty intense day. We talked about the death of her best friend and about the significance of our friendship.

I say it all the time but I don’t know if I have ever written it down: this is the best friendship I have ever had – and I have some of the most amazing friendships a person could ever dream of. This woman is just so special to me that I never feel like I have adequate words to describe our relationship. It’s like no other relationship I have ever had. It’s like no other relationship I have ever heard of. It’s like the best parts of family combined with the best parts of friendship combined with the best parts of romance – except without the sex. That is not to say that we don’t have our problems. Our relationship may include some of the worst parts as well. All I can say is that it is amazing, unbelievable and completely unique.

We shared tears that night. We felt incredibly close and vulnerable. I asked if I could sleep in her bed with her. I like to snuggle. She doesn’t usually like this. She likes her freedom to move around. Also, I sometimes grab her boobs in my sleep. I can see how that might make her uncomfortable. On this night however, she was happy to have someone to sleep with.

It was hard enough for my friend to get up Friday morning. I wasn’t as much help as I could have been but I’m sure me being in her bed helped. As it was she was running late for work. I was figuring I wouldn’t be working at all. It still looked like fucking winter outside. In Minnesota, people drive pedicab all year round but even I think that is stupid. I called the pedicab company in hopes that they would tell me that there was no point in coming in. That is not what happened.

They said, “It’s Friday night, there is a big Styx, REO Speedwagon & Ted Nugent show in town and the streets have been cleared.”

Okay, I thought. I’m new at this and they know better than I. If they want me, I’m going to be there. Plus, I know that if I want to keep going I need to stay consistent.  Even if I have a bad night I need to keep buggering on.

I got up, did a load of dishes, went to the store to get cat litter and Drano, came back and changed the cat box, cleared the drain in the bathroom sink and did another load of dishes. Then I hopped on the bus to go home. I still needed to take a shower, shave and wash my blanket for the pedicab. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure I took time to jack-off as well. As crazy as my life was feeling, I knew that what I was going through was nothing compared to the folks on lockdown in Boston.

Friday was a pretty shitty night; at least it started out that way. I didn’t get a single ride off the big concert at the Target Center. I started working at 8pm but I didn’t start getting rides until after midnight. It still turned out alright. Gay men and drunks are my bread and butter and they totally saved my ass. I know my people.

Saturday was a nicer day so I figured I would go in even earlier. I also wanted to make sure my pedicab was in top working form. It seemed to be but I still was having problems, I presume do to the weather. It was still too fucking cold. Anyway, Saturday was a fun night. Technically, the best night I have had to date. It was also the most exhausting. By the time I was done at 3am, I was beat, and it was snowing. I sent my bff a message to see if I could crash at her place. She lives much closer to the garage than I do and I didn’t think I could make it home. Even if I could, the bike ride in the snow would have been hell.

Sunday morning I woke up on my bff’s couch once again. She wouldn’t have to get up for another few hours but I needed coffee. I also needed a smoke and nobody likes smelling cigarette smoke while they are sleeping. I gathered my things and headed out the door. I still had no real plan.

In the entryway to her apartment building, sitting on top of the mailboxes were a pair of Roland MA-8’s. “Holy shit!”, I thought. These would be perfect for making music on my laptop. I couldn’t believe that someone would just be giving them away. I figured someone in the process of carrying things in and had just set them down. I went outside and had a smoke on the steps while I contemplated what to do. After 10 minutes, no one had come back for the speakers so I figured they were mine. Wow, sometimes the universe is so awesome!

I had been tempted to just head home but after that I figured I should just keep buggering on and see where this day takes me. I love Sundays and I love drinking with people who drink on Sundays. I’m not saying that it was the brightest decision in the world but you are free to judge for yourself.

Here is what happened:

  • CC Club for breakfast – coffee, 2 screwdrivers and a veggie omelet.
  • Conversation on the patio with a conservative about the smoking  ban. We actually agreed on somethings.
  • Two beer.
  • Played darts with a friend and his buddy. They were celebrating my friend getting fired. I won at darts.
  • Started my bike ride home stopping off at the Saloon, a gay bar downtown.
  • $3 gin and tonics. Gay bar strong. Must have had 3. I was pretty drunk.
  • Sat down with a pretty 22 year old college student who didn’t look like she should be drinking alone. This was true. Even her friend who was txting her hoped that she wasn’t drinking alone. She took a liking to me. Started making out with me at the bar. I’m not one to complain about a hot college co-ed wanting to makeout with me but this was a gay bar and I do have a reputation to maintain.
  • I literally poured her into a cab. The cab driver insisted that I come with – not really his job to take care of her. I agreed. There was no telling where this would lead. She was all over me – biting me – I like biting. My judgement was a bit off but I would never have sex with someone that drunk. Still, there is a lot of fun that can be had that falls short of sex.
  • I get her to her destination and the cab takes off. The woman also makes it clear that she is done for the night. Luckily, I took that cab drivers number. He comes back and returns me to the Saloon where my bike is locked up.
  • From there I head to my friend Doug Anderson’s new bar for a drink. It’s called the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge. I hadn’t been there yet and I wanted to check it out. Call it reconnaissance, not just for the band but as a pedicab driver as well. It’s a great space and the bartender was awesome. Unfortunately, we were the only two people there the entire time. I sincerely hope that he does better on the weekends. I’m sure he does.
  • It’s still early so I thought I would hit Bunker’s and catch one of my favorite bands, Dr. Mambo’s Combo. I pulled up to the door on my bike and the bouncer told me to keep moving. Okay, I thought. I’m pretty drunk, maybe I should just go home. I got about a block away and realized that he did not have enough interaction with me to make that assessment. He had no idea who I was, so I headed back to talk to him. This was not cool. His mind was made up. He didn’t care who I was. He was being a prick and he was sticking to it. Fair enough.
  • Next attempt was BJ’s, a strip club. They had me pegged as someone to not let in off of their surveillance cameras. Seriously, they judged me solely on the fact that I was riding a bike and had an overstuffed backpack.  I even had a nice conversation with the bouncer but there was nothing he could do.
  • At this point I was determined to get another drink. I stopped in at Halak’s. No bouncer, no security camera, no problem. I had a beer there and then headed out for a smoke. I decided that it was time to move on but headed back in to hand the bartender another $5 for not judging me. He said I was no problem and was welcome there anytime. This is why I love dive bars!
  • The queen of all dive bars is the T-shop in my neighborhood. I don’t go there very often because they are usually closed by the time I get home. They are a beer-only bar and usually close by midnight. This night I was getting home well before midnight. I really do love this bar. I love Debbie the bartender. Also sitting at the bar was another famous musician in town. He’s the lead singer in a Tom Petty cover band.  We are both talented musicians and songwriters who make our way in the world playing other people’s music. We had a great conversation about that.

Judge me however you want but there was a movie in that night. Maybe I should have just gone home and had my day of doing nothing on Sunday but I wouldn’t have missed that day for anything. Sure, maybe I would have been able to move on Monday if I had, but Monday would never have been as exciting as that.

There is a saying, “Don’t judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes.” Fuck, I don’t give a shit if anyone walks in my shoes. Judge me all you want. I just hope that you will take the time to walk a mile in your own shoes. Most people don’t even do that!

Yesterday

Yesterday was an absolutely fabulous day. Seriously, I’m so proud of yesterday.  This hardly ever happens to me, especially on Thursdays. Usually, I’m too wiped out from working Wednesday to do much of anything. But not yesterday. Yesterday I had energy, I got shit done, the weather was nice and everything seemed to be going my way.

I woke up at 10AM which was right when I wanted to. This gave me enough sleep after staying up writing the night before and enough time to get done what I had to get done, which was a lot. I had to:

  • Dive to target to exchange a print cartridge so I could print my pedicab license application.
  • Dump my newspaper recycling at the recycling center.
  • Fill out the pedicab application once printed.
  • Bike downtown to the get the form signed by Twin Town Pedicab.
  • Head to City Hall to get the license.
  • Bike bake home by 2:30 so that I could get my van and pick up my daughter from school at 3PM

I actually had everything done and was back home by 2PM – good thing too. When I got home I opened my mail and discovered that the county was over charging me on my property taxes. They had my home listed as non-homesteaded when I most definitely do live there… much of the time. In any case, it is my home!

So a quick call to the county told me that the problem was with the city. An even quicker call to the city told me that it would be taken care of and I was still able to pick my daughter up on time.

My daughter and I had fun shopping at the mall. I had a gift card for Claire’s that I needed to use up. My daughter and I have very similar tastes in fashion accessories.  I got my self some spiffy suspenders and some finger-less gloves. My daughter got a tie, some tights and a silver glittery bow for her hair. We then went back to my house where we had dinner and watched silly, funny YouTube videos until it was time to take her home.

Venus had asked me earlier in the day to guest DJ with hir at this monthly event at club underground called Vinyl Venus Space Lounge. It’s all vinyl, very eclectic, super swank fun night. I have no idea why nobody ever shows up. Basically, I was asked just to get one more person in the bar. Actually, the hope was that I would bring in more people. I tried but I didn’t really have time to promote beyond my close friends and while I can count on them for just about anything… I can’t always count on them to make it to a gig.

Oh well, I was done for it and I was going to have fun. I ran back to my house after dropping off my daughter,  grabbed up some records, slammed a beer and headed to the bar. Venus was already spinning so I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer from my buddy, the bartender. He said, “first ones on the house since you’re spinning tonight”. I love that shit!

I did my first set while finishing my beer then I ordered a second one for during my break. I only had twelve bucks in my pocket so how much damage could I do? I definitively watch my drinking when dealing with turntables but even more when I’m driving.  I ordered a water for my second DJ set.

After that, I was done, and felt like I could have one more beer. My limit when I’m driving is typical two but am willing to have three if they are well spaced out. This would have made my forth of the evening but over the course of five hours. So I was pushing my rule a little but I still felt completely sober.

That was until my lovely bartender offered to do a shot of Sambuca with me.  Shit! Now I had a dilemma. My number one rule is don’t drive while intoxicated but a close second is never turn down a free drink. What was I going to do?

Well I did the shot of course. I hadn’t done shots of Sambuca in years and years and I was feeling a bit nostalgic. Now, I was starting to feel it so when the second round of shots came around I said, “Fuck yeah!” to that as well. I also said yes to a refill of my empty beer glass.

I also said yes to Venus’ offer to drive me home.

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