Thursday, November 29, 2018

Relearning how to enjoy some of the core pleasures in my life.

I’m still having a hard time writing. Personal writing that is.* I think it’s just after months of emotional depletion, it’s going to take a while for the juices to fill up and start flowing again. In fact one of the most insidious things about the last year was the robbing my ability to both write personally and enjoy music. Two of the things that form the core of my being gradually went grayer and grayer. I mean, I’ve been able to do both things, but it takes more out of me than it used to. I have to work harder to emotionally connect to either one. Especially personal and music writing, which is distressing since those were things I could do immediately and effortlessly.**

But it is coming back. Throughout the past couple of months I did write down topics I wanted to talk about, and just never got around to. Don’t worry, it’s mostly fun stuff! Bands, recommendations, and funny memories. Of course there are also notes I completely don’t understand what I was trying to say—one is “Human Switchboard”?—but I keep them just in case they spark again.

So I guess you could say I’m priming the pump to take advantage of what I feel is an impending wave of output. And hopefully that output won’t contain too many terribly mixed metaphors like the previous sentence.

As always, if you’re still here and still reading, know that I appreciate you greatly.

*Work writing has never been better. But I use a different part of my brain (and soul) for that stuff.

**Some might say it’s a good thing I pulled back on the personal writing, and I’m inclined to agree with them. So maybe there’s a silver lining in there after all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Regaining nocturnal normalcy.

Clearly Pickle the Kitten has no problem relaxing.
I am exhausted! Last night I was asleep at 9 p.m.! What the what?!

After months of living a largely nocturnal existence of watching TV until 3 or 4 a.m., I’ve found my world turned upside down!* Clearly the main reason this is happening is because I have a job again, and am keeping normal hours.  But the other big reason is a major reduction in stress. Many of the things that plagued me over the last 12 months have been resolved and my life has slowed to a relatively normal place again. The hamster wheel in my head is no longer spinning into a blur and keeping me awake with dread.

It’s a nice feeling.

I still feel a certain melancholy—12 months ago this was not the life I thought I would be living—but it’s more of a calm contemplative state. It’s the kind of thing that allowed me to actually get 8 hours of sleep last night!**

I never thought I’d be so boring I’d be excited about sleep.

The one part of the routine I’m still working out is the gym. My new job wants me in the office earlier than most of my other jobs, so I’m still trying to figure out the right timing so I can hit the gym before work. I haven’t quite perfected that yet, which means I’ve been working out in the evening instead. I prefer the morning because a workout really gets me revved up and ready for the day. It just puts me in a positive mood, and I like bringing that optimistic halo into the office with me. I’ll get it figured out though.

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost all my edge. But I've sure learned to appreciate not being on edge all the time.

*Actually, it wasn’t so much nocturnal as it was not marked by any kind of routine. I was still up early in the morning, going to the gym, and staying busy throughout the day. I simply just wasn’t sleeping much at all.

**Altogether. I do still find myself waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. pretty frequently and watch TV for an hour to lull myself back to sleep. Yes, I know that’s not the healthiest habit, and I’m trying to wean myself off it, but for now it does the trick.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter jam.

I don't know how Peter Bjorn And John do it, but their latest album Darker Days manages to sound like winter while allowing a few slivers of sunlight to break through. And it's those beams that keep the music from being desolate or depressing. Even when the lyrics are morose, there's an odd sense of hope that still manages to bubble up.

I've been listening to it a lot.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What a rollercoaster couple of days!

Last week just before the holiday the woman I was seeing and I parted ways (totally amicably). Wednesday I visited an old friend in the ‘burbs and experienced the insanity that is a night out in the town I graduated high school from on the night commonly known as “Blackout Wednesday.” Thanksgiving was a lovely family affair, but I got so stuffed I was incapable of leaving the house later that night for a concert I had planned on attending. Friday I saw The Struts at House of Blues and I’m glad I did because I went to see them Saturday as well and lasted 4 songs because I was so sick. Like, one of the worst two-day bugs I’ve had in a long time—can’t keep anything down, knocked me flat on my back sick. Which means I spent all Sunday on my couch watching streaming shows and napping since there was no way I was calling in sick after only 2 weeks at my new job and I had to get well ASAP! That also meant it wasn’t until this morning I realized we’d had a snow storm yesterday since I hadn’t opened the blinds, aside from one point earlier in the day when it was clear Pickle the Kitten wanted to get a peek outside for herself. And when I walked out my front door this morning I discovered the storm had been so so strong it split off huge portions of a neighbor’s tree across the street, damaging a few cars that were parked nearby.

Today everything seems pretty back to normal. So far.

Friday, November 23, 2018

I dunno why but this song just makes me happy.

Agree? Disagree?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

One year later.

This is a tough time for me. This time last year my marriage was imploding. I was basically living in our basement when we should have been celebrating our first holiday season in our first house. Instead I was being self-centered with no clue of what was coming around the corner. I wasn’t even allowed to attend our first Thanksgiving and had to spend the day and evening in the suburbs until the festivities at our home had drawn to a close.  If I could go back in time I would have slapped myself silly and told myself to wise up and realize just how good my life actually was.

Instead I kept barreling down the path of alienating my wife, and less than a month later I’d get the email from her that divorce papers were on the way.

I should have done more to fight for my marriage when it was still salvageable, but of course I didn’t realize how bad things were until it was too late and there was no solution left for us, other than painfully moving on to separate lives. Make no mistake, divorce is a two-way street, but I take full responsibility for my half of the equation.

While this time is tough, I’m also grateful that we both made it through what was truly a hellish year. I’m happy that my ex has found happiness and stability through friends and relationships both old and new, and I’ve been striving to do the same thing. I also hope that through all of this I’ve managed to become more self-aware, so that I don’t repeat the mistakes of my past. There simply isn’t enough time in my life left for me to do that again, and I’d rather focus on making myself a better person and the world around me a better place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cool housewarming gift.

Maybe I should have a housewarming party so I can get more awesome stuff like this? If you don't understand the poster, dig through my stuff and divine what one of my top movies of all time is. Then you'll get it.

Monday, November 19, 2018


I know everyone likes to complain about their jobs, but after being unemployed for almost six months I've learned to love employment. While my job search never slackened, as the months went on I could feel all the structure in my life dissipate. You'd think with all that free time I'd be a raging party monster, or be ripping through stalled projects I never had the time for before. But instead I ended up just watching a lot of Netflix and rarely going out. Aside for festivals and the odd concert here or there, I was a pretty big homebody. I know; super exciting.

Since getting a job offer a few weeks ago my productivity has skyrocketed. It's funny how having less free time means I'm actually getting more accomplished! My stress levels have dropped and I've noticed I'm sleeping much better now. The last few months I've been plagued with insomnia, much of it caused by the hamster wheel of my thoughts that wouldn't stop spinning. Nowadays, if I'm not out, I'm in bed around 10. What the—?! Who is this guys! I love it.

This also means I'm able to be more supportive of the people around me. And I really enjoy being available in that capacity too.

So, appreciate the structure in your own life. You might not know it, but with that structure you're able to accomplish a lot more than you realize.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Gettin' groovy with Teddy Glass.

Check out the two suave gents that make up Teddy Glass.
My bad on this one. It's been sitting in my inbox for months and I kept trying to find just the right time to write about it, and I just never did. What I now realize is that while I kept trying to find the right moment, that was never going to happen because Teddy Glass' Nights And Weekends is pretty much right for every moment.

Nights And Weekends is a woozy, sway-worthy collection of tunes that dip their toes into light funk while also swirling around in the Yacht Rock territory. It's a foggy, hazy day in Chicago and these tunes seem to perfectly emerge ever so slowly from the mists. Conversely, these'd be terrific for a lazy summer day in the park. Or a sultry swirl and twirl around the dance floor. Or just nodding off on your couch with a really nice pair of headphones wrapped around your skull.

So lay back, enjoy your Friday, and let Teddy Glass show you where it's at.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A positive update.

Pickle the Kitten gets cozy in her new digs.
We all know what a lousy year I’ve had. Divorce, basement flooding, a break-in, getting laid off alongside a bunch of other talented folks, selling my house, moving … and that is literally just scratching the surface. I could go on and on. I even noticed my hair is noticeably thinning and balding in odd places since July, and I can only guess it’s due to the physical effect stress has had on my body.

But a few weeks ago, things really started to turn around. I guess I had to hit the lowest of low points before I could start rising again. In fact, this whole thing made me realize how much the arcs of my life and my dad’s life match, as far as rising really high and then getting knocked down. And, like my dad, as daunting as things seemed (and for a spell there they were rather dire) there was no choice but to keep moving forward. Eventually things would work themselves out, just as long as we didn’t give up.

And things are getting better.

I like my new apartment. I still need to actually start hanging stuff on the walls and making it feel more like a home, but it suits my purposes. It’s big and can hold everything I own (I'm using a back bedroom as a “storage room” as well as holding the one drum kit I have set up). And Pickle the Kitten is constantly roaming and exploring. Or sitting in really weird places, as if she’s been laying in wait just to surprise me. The place is literally across the street and a few doors down from my old house, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that, but I really like the neighborhood and the close proximity to the Blue Line. It makes my commute so much easier.

Wait! did I say commute?! Oh yes I did!

I started a new job today. It took me almost six months—the longest I’ve been out of work since 2002—but I finally found an agency I gelled with. Let me tell you; interviewing nowadays can be frustrating. Most places make you go through multiple rounds of interviews and then ghost on you. I actually interviewed with my current employer earlier this summer and they didn’t have a place for me then. But when one opened up a few months later they actually reached out to see if I was interested in coming in again and speaking to a few other folks. And then they hired me! Perseverance pays off!

If you’ve ever been job hunting you know places say “we’ll keep you in mind if something else comes up” and then promptly delete your name from their brain. But this agency actually did keep me in mind when something else came up! I have a very good feeling about this place.

There’s other good stuff happening as far as personal relationships go, but I don’t think you need to hear about that. Let’s just say new relationships are blooming and old relationships are naturally healing as best they can. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

So yeah, it’s been an exceptionally rough year. Easily the worst year in my life. And it might seem hokey, but I’m kinda thinking God might’ve put me through all this for a reason, because when the clouds did finally part, it happened pretty suddenly and all at once.*

So here’s to tomorrow!

*We all know I’m not a religious person, but this year and the way it rolled really did make me start to wonder. A the very least I way overpaid whatever debt to bad karma I’d accrued over the decades!

Monday, November 12, 2018