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…

The other side of life

I can’t really write today. I’ve been busy dealing with the other side of life. Ya know… learning. But I want you to know that I also have a facebook page. I sometimes post things there that aren’t mine but have moved me. I did it today. Please check it out. Please click the like button the like button while you’re at it and most importantly, please have a wonderful day if at all possible.

Fabulous friend weekend

I just got back to Minneapolis from my weekend trip to Chicago for my friend’s wedding. I have an hour to kill before picking up my daughter so I’ve stopped at Caribou Coffee to use their wi-fi and see if I can whip out a blog post. I have no illusion that I will be able to do justice to the absolute amazingness of my weekend but hopefully I can share with you a little bit of how fabulous my friends are and how much they mean to me.

I’ve known about this wedding for almost a year. I knew from the first mention of it that would be making the trip to Chicago for the occasion. I have been friends with the bride for over a decade. Despite living in separate cities the entire time we have maintain and very close and meaningful friendship. We would visit each other regularly and spent many, many hours on the phone discussing everything under the sun with heavy doses of politics, philosophy and relationships. When it came to relationships, we had endless material to draw upon having both been through our share of dissatisfying and toxic relationships.

The relationship conversations have died out over the past several years as she has been seeing her now husband. It was clear to me that she had finally found someone who could appreciate her beauty and passion while fulfilling and complimenting her. I couldn’t be happier for her and I look forward to continuing our friendship and she embarks on this chapter of her life. 

Still, all the joy and anticipation that this occasion brought me would not be enough to get me to plan ahead. Even my RSVP required a reminder message from the bride. As the date approached the option to book one of the hotel rooms reserved for wedding guests faded, as did the option for an affordable plane or even bus ticket. I was left with no option but to drive and no idea where I was going to stay once I got to Chicago.

Out of desperation, yet with a heavy dose of hubris, I sent following message to all the people I knew living in the Chicago area.

Dear Chicago area friends,

I’m going to be in Chicago this weekend for a wedding (Sunday afternoon). I’ll be pulling in Friday or Saturday and leaving sometime Monday. Please let me know your availability and if you have a couch I can crash on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This may seem last minute for something that I have known about for six months but that’s how I roll. I’m amazing, you are amazing, I know we can make this work!

Much Love, LeFreak

I received one response from one person who was going to be busy but would spread the word. I may be amazing but it was becoming clear that I am not so amazing that anyone is going to stop their amazing life just because I am coming to town; perhaps not even long enough to read a facebook message. That’s just reality folks.

I also sent a message to a friend I made while playing a show in Winona, MN a little over a year ago. We’ve only hung out a couple times since then but we relate so naturally that I feel like we became instant best friends. If there was any chance I could see her it would be worth a detour through Winona.

As it turned out she was available although she was no longer living in Winona. She was living on her parent’s farm about 40 minutes from Winona.  That sounded perfect to me. This city boy could certainly use a little time on the farm. I got that and so much more.

The next morning I made us breakfast and headed on my way to Chicago. I still had no idea where I was going to stay and my confidence that it would all work out was wavering. I pulled off the road in Madison to make phone calls to see if I could figure something out. I was starting to think that I would have to find a cheap motel somewhere in Wisconsin to spend the night.

After a few unsuccessful calls I did find someone who would be thrilled to have a visit from me. It actually turned out to be the best of all possible options. To my delight I learned that she was living with another dear friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in far too long. As an added bonus, they live about 20 minutes from the wedding location and even closer to another musician friend of mine. I had brunch with him Sunday morning.

I could have arranged other transportation to the wedding but I chose to drive. I’m sure that if I had been able to drink more I would have found plenty of fun trouble to get into but that was not what I wanted. All I wanted was to see my friend get married and then get back to my friends who had so kindly given me safe harbor.

My plan was to drive back to Minnesota on Memorial Day for a barbeque at my parent’s house, but I wasn’t done seeing out of town friends. I realized that if I drove due west from Chicago on Highway 30 I would run into Ames, IA and the home of one of my oldest and dearest friends. How could I resist? 

I think Felix da Minivan thought it was a good idea too. My van had been giving me some brake problems over the weekend but nothing that day. Also the power drivers-side window, which stopped working just as I entered the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, was working perfectly again. Furthermore, I got the best gas mileage I’ve ever recorded.

Now back in Minneapolis I still want to see friends. Even before going home I stopped by a friends house for a visit. I had meant to see her last week but the week vanished before I got a chance.

At every turn this weekend I was met with open arms and hospitality. I was given food, shelter, love and acceptance. I received gifts as well. I returned home with two new hats, a pair of shoes, two t-shirts, a velvet jumpsuit, “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann, four bottles of hard cider and a purple stuffed monkey.

What have I done to deserve this kindness and generosity? I have nothing to offer except me but perhaps there is value in that. Perhaps me, just being me, is something worth being.

That is my hope. That is my dream. My goal is to get to a point where I can spend all my days just being me, traveling the country, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I want nothing more than to share all that I have to give and receive all that the world has to offer.

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