Thursday, September 21, 2017

License Plates and Stuff

Wow, so it's been about seven months since the last entry.  I've really gotta get a handle on this blogging thing once again. 

So last time I wrote, I had just gotten a new truck and had some interesting times with the allergist.  The truck is doing well, and as for the allergies, the shots and my body did not agree. So it's prescription allergy stuff and other prescription allergy stuff that's keeping my health in a fairly decent spot.

Also, I'm gradually quitting cigarettes.  Wait, that actually doesn't sound right.  Maybe I should back up a little. 

A little over a month ago, I took Grace to see my dad and stepmom in Arkansas.  I had a day to bring her there, a day to hang out there, and the next day to come home.  Now my stepmom, she smokes too, but does not smoke in the car at all.  On a long trip it's difficult for me to stop and get out so often, so I smoked on the way.  She could tell when I got there and gave me a stern but well deserved talking to about it.

A few weeks ago, right after school started, I was off work for a week.  Jamie's grandpa had fallen the prior week, and was not in good shape.   It was looking like he would not make it.  That Saturday morning we got up early and headed out there, about 100 miles or so drive. 

When we got there it was clear that, well, the end was near.  Much of the family was there, and we were all trying to get through our feelings, and just visiting.  At one point one of his friends from the church came by to offer comfort and a prayer involving all of us.  We all held hands and he led the prayer.  As we said Amen, Poppaw passed on.

We all stayed for as long as we could, and we all saw firsthand the inner workings of what takes place with the rest of the family and uncomfortable details when a person passes away.  It was an emotional seastorm. 

I'll admit, I don't ever remember him smoking, but I know for a while he dipped. That's not really what I'm getting at.  What I'm getting at is that when you're right there and someone passes away, there is a lot of perspective that begins to show up, all around.  Not right away, but it comes on.

I decided soon after that it was time to stop smoking. Poppaw lived to almost 92, like Grandma.  It made me reevaluate my own life.  It's pretty hard to smoke like I do and make it to a strong 91. 

So I'm on the patch.  Every so often at night I will smoke a cigarette, but not 9 or 14. I don't smoke at all at work.  That's the patch.  I took one off too early last weekend and it was back to how it was.  So it's going to take some time.

That said, there are some creative rumbles happening in the ol' noggin.  Last year I got the idea to make a new 10,000 Lakes album.  The Dr. Tissue thing is stirring around too, but 10,000 Lakes is the nearest and dearest of the music projects. 

Procrastination is easy for the busy and distracted.  That's where it's all at right now.  But, the seed is planted.

The last complete 10,000 Lakes album I recorded was in October of 1999.  Cat Hospital.  There was an EP, Basketball Donut, in 2000.  A bunch of random one off recordings in the 2000s that went nowhere, and then the Pots, Pans, and Ceiling Fans EP in '12, which was really made between '06 and '08 but not fully produced.

So I decided it was time for something brand new.  The software is mostly in place, there;s a new keyboard and guitar pedal, it's just a matter of writing.  The inspiration came from some of the earlier lyrics about random objects, so the new album is called "License Plate." It fits.  I took a picture of a Minnesota license plate from many years ago on my brand new Chevy, and it's gonna make a decent album cover.  Song ideas are now beginning to pop up like they used to.

The last several months have been an absolute beast at work, and that has been a huge drain on creativity.  In ways, I feel like I'm scraping bottom creatively while handling all the other challenges in life.  Life is just too many handfuls of too many things at one time.

It's going to take time to get there to make this new set of songs good.  And, honestly, some healing. 

But, writing is a part of that.  It's good to be able to share a slice of life with anyone in the world who actually feels like reading it, even if no one actually does.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It's A Ride!

So, for the last week or so, I've been sick.  Mostly it's been bronchitis, but there are a few other things going on also.  Mostly it's the pollen count aggravating my allergies.  It hasn't been much of a fun time actually.  Getting past it is pretty wonderful.

Late last year I did some serious allergy testing at a local clinic here in McKinney, to find out that I'm allergic to just about everything. I've got the pics to prove it, but I'm sure you don't want to see them.  It was a comprehensive test.  There were 65 things I was tested for. 

The categories of allergens were divided into eight different allergens per block.  Grasses covered two blocks, mold one block, etc.  Since my allergies were so bad I decided to go for the most comprehensive, which was eight blocks.  I also added bananas as a single test.  After the test, I'm pretty much allergic to everything except pets and most molds.  And not really allergic to bananas.I'm actually allergic to the birch family, which is, in a molecular sense similar to bananas.

That test taught me a lot about myself, such as why I was so sneezy and itchy during my years in carpentry.  I love woodwork, but the environment kicked my ass.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I'm off to allergy shots.  I spent a whole day getting it started just to get the immunity built up.  A once or twice a week visit to the clinic, and it's shots and a half hour to make sure there's no reaction, and then bam, off to work.

Early in January, I couldn't do it anymore.  My body was reacting.  I had an EpiPen but thankfully never had to use it.  The positive side was I wasn't having allergic reactions to anything.  The negative side was I was fighting myself and probably went into it too quickly.  I called the doc one morning in some discomfort and we agreed the shots had to end for the time being. 

It's amazing how the body works, enough of something gets attention. 

So there I was with two prescriptions to manage it, and that was all I needed to get back to a comfortable and normal state. 

Comfortable and normal are two things I can say I don't have much familiarity with.  Over the last several months I was in a high stress position at work, having to manage something larger than I had to manage before. I was also driving in a dangerous vehicle.  Normal didn't exist to me at all.  I was flying by with whatever life handed out. 

Work has gotten much more sane since about November.  It was then I noticed car problems.  I owned a 2005 Ford Escape with about 100k miles on it, much fewer than my '99 Ranger that i traded for the Escape back in '14. 

Last year, I had to replace the alternator in the Escape, because it started dying on me randomly while driving.  Not just at low speeds, but while doing 65-70 on the highway. So I got the alternator, but after reading the instructions on its replacement, I realized it was above my level.  It was all "remove your front axle" and stuff like that.  I was like HELL NO. Luckily we found a guy on Nextdoor that could hook that up.

That didn't fix it.  There was another part that could've been the culprit.  Bought it and put it in easy.  A week later, it was dying again.  I had to milk that for another month. It was like driving in a death trap.  For yet another month I kept going.  Somehow.  That on top of the work stress and changes got to me.  I started furiously researching vehicles on AutoTrader, in an attempt to find something affordable. 

I was way underwater on the Escape, and had to find a damn good deal on something new in order to make a trade that wouldn't break us financially.

One day it happened.  I saw a new '16 Colorado with ridiculous rebates and awesome financing.  I had to go to the dealer's website just to make sure it wasn't a typo.

It wasn't. 

That day I drove out to the dealership in Decatur, which was about 50 miles away from work and 65 away from home.  After a couple hours, it was done.  I was driving in something awesome and safe.

It's been about three weeks since, and there are some big payments in the future, but I'm thankful for the new ride.  It's safe, it's a truck, and it's just now dawning on me that I can relax a little bit and take control over so many things that not too long ago, I was just hoping made it so that I could survive. 


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