In my youth, I don’t think I ever really considered the concept of honor deeply or meaningfully. As such, I did much that would make me a rather dishonorable person. Over the years, however, I’ve thought quite a bit about it, and I’ve tried my hardest to walk the path of honor as much as possible. I’ve read books on chivalry and bushido, adapting it as best I could to fit the modern age. This has proven difficult for me, as my initial reactions tend to be quite less than honorable, but it’s something I’m working on.
My personal path to honor involves always trying to do the right thing by others, thinking and meditating on the most reasonable and right thing to do in situations, and live my life with humility, understanding, and patience. The best part about all this is that when I’m actually able to do it, the feeling is amazing. Things also tend to work out better when I act more honorably. Still, though, I’m not sure when I’ll truly be a person that I would call a truly honorable person, if ever. I have many moments of weakness, anger, and foolishness that plague me and set me back. Also, I suffer from terrible hindsight, and that sets me back far enough to ensure that I may likely never get there.
There are things I have done, and things I have said, which I can never fully forgive myself for. I look back in shame at these things, and whenever I feel like I may be making solid progress towards my goal, these are what set me back to where I was. There are some people close to me, and in my family, whom I have always desired a deeper relationship with, which can never happen due to my past actions. It pains me, in profound ways and with abyssal depth, to know that I can never make it right. Sometimes my actions come with permanent consequences, and those shine like new scars on my face. They are there whenever I look in the mirror, and are still painful to the touch. These will not go away, they will endure for as long as I will, and for all my talk about honor and doing the right thing, they will forever be a reminder of my shame and failure. In a way, they do serve a positive purpose. They keep me humble, though often cause me wounds as well. Though it’s not entirely rational, I tend to think I deserve none of the good in my life because of the sins of my past. Sins not against any sort of deity, which would be odd since I’m an atheist, but sins against others, and sins against myself. I don’t feel that I should be forgiven for such things, and I have great difficulty judging myself solely on the man I am at this moment, and not the entire picture.
So I’m stuck with sort of a conundrum. Can one such as me, who has so much red in their ledger from years past and from recent memory, be thought of as a truly honorable person? Could I ever be deserving of such praise when I’ve done so much damage in my lifetime, often to people I truly love? Do I even deserve forgiveness for such things? I’ve meditated on this much in the past few years, and the best I can come up with is this: Were I speaking to someone else, and this was their story, I’d be able to see them as honorable and respectable, both regardless and because of their past. If they were that way while also having a tainted past, I’d say it even more so since they had to overcome a proclivity to act without honor. However, I know my past firsthand. I know that there are things that others can never truly forgive me for, that I can never truly forgive myself for, and that have prevented me and others from having more meaningful relationships regardless of whether I was forgiven or not. Because of this, I’d feel that I would be a hypocrite to ever think myself capable of being an honorable person. I will forever strive to be the best I can be, but I fear that the darkness in my past will always prevent me from deserving praise or to be thought highly of by others. I fear the scars will always prevent me from seeing my face as anything but a collection of sins and mistakes.
Well, I survived the weekend…sort of. Truth be told, I took so long writing this cuz I ended up with bronchitis and an ear infection right after Tough Mudder last Sunday. Today is the first day since then that I felt quasi-human, which is pretty much my status quo. Anyways, enough about me, let’s instead talk about….well, ME….
To be totally honest, my weekend started Friday night when I saw Iron Maiden at the Barclays center in Brooklyn. It was a pretty late night, so I was tired to begin with on Saturday morning before the novice tourney. Quick review, Ghost was great, Maiden was great, the venue was fucking garbage and the sound guy should’ve been dragged out and beaten with dirty socks filled with mushy pickles. Now, moving onto the tourney. To say I was nervous as fuck would be a gross understatement. I got there nice and early, geared up, and got ready to fight. We presented ourselves to the royals (clothed this time), and I got my first assignment. Duncan in queen’s far. He was a lefty, and I was nervous as all hell, so my head really wasn’t in the game at all. I fumbled my way through the marshals asking me questions (totally guessed at the answers), and started out. He legged me, I legged him back, but I positioned my shield all wrong and he stabbed me in the grill of my helm for the win. Since this was a double elimination tourney, I was 0-1, and on the verge of a super quick elimination.
My second fight was against a gentleman whose SCA name I don’t know. He fought with a two handed ax. I was much more relaxed during this fight, and though he hit like a truck, I was able to get my sword past his guard and land a shot on his stomach for the win, just as he legged me (not the hip, mid thigh). I was elated to actually score a win, which was my best case scenario for the weekend. Now I was 1-1, still on the chopping block, but doing far better than I expected.
My third fight was against another whose name I don’t know. This was, by far, my longest fight of the day. The entire thing lasted about 2 minutes of non-stop wailing on each other, but in the end I came up wanting. He got me with a good shot to the head, and I went down. Still, even though I got eliminated, I was happy to have at least put up a fight. I know I showed how green of a fighter I am by the mistakes I made, and my inability to close on that fight, but I’m pleased with my performance given that I’ve been fighting all of maybe 2 full months or so total, with 3-4 weeks off in the middle due to injury and moving.
I geared down and enjoyed spending the rest of the day talking to the other fighters, trying to motivate them to kick ass and do their best, and retaining for 2 of my favorite people. The kids were there as well, and they had a blast with the other kids. It was a fantastic event, and I’m excited to be fighting at Pennsic this year since this was so much fun. I’m also looking forward to doing some pick-ups at war and learning from the many fantastic fighters that will be there!
The next morning I woke early again and went to Tough Mudder. I decided to take it a bit easier on my legs and hips this year by not running/jogging much, and that paid off. Unfortunately, I made up for it by helping WAY more with people going over obstacles. I started with skidmarked, and after that I became a staple for people going over the wall, letting others use my shoulder as a step and pushing them up and over the wall. Later on we got to pyramid scheme, and one of my teammates was trying to pull me up and wrenched my left arm pretty hard. During the Hero Carry, since the lovely Lish wasn’t able to join me due to a knee injury, I ended up with some random dude. This year, much of the run was in the woods, and I carried him on level ground to the swap point. When we switched, he had to run up hill and an extra third farther. I felt kinda bad for the poor fucker, but better him than me! At least I had a dude as a partner, cuz if any of the other people nearby wanted to partner up (all were rather thin females) I fear I’d have crushed them to death under my fat old sweaty ass. I managed to escape with dignity mostly intact. Mud mile was easier for me this year, and block ness was fun. The worst, though, was at the end. It took me about 5 tries to get up everest this year. Last year I nailed it in one. Later on, my buddy had to make it up, but he was spent from the day, and clocked in at 6’5″ and 330lbs or so. He was able to grab the top, but we at the top couldn’t do it alone. Suddenly, groups of people rushed under him and made a human pyramid to push him up. It was certainly one of the coolest and most amazing Tough Mudder moments I’ve ever seen.
At the end, I was done. I was a little sore the rest of the day, and completely exhausted. The next morning, my throat was sore and I was coughing. As the day wore on, I felt more and more like crap. I called in the next day and went to the doctor first thing. Bronchitis and an ear infection. Took the next day off too, and I still feel like ass. Coughing up junk and feeling overall plague-esque. Note to self: Don’t let the water from the Tough Mudder obstacles get in your mouth…
So here we are. I made it through the gauntlet, and though I’m a little worse for wear, I’m pleased with my performance this weekend. Now onto prepping for war, and making sure I can manage fighting in a battle of that scale.
I haven’t posted a fighting practice blurb in awhile, and there are reasons for this. Well, not just reasons why I haven’t posted about that, but also reasons why I haven’t been posting much in general. I spoke to a dear friend who writes fantastically well, and realize a criticism I had regarding one of her recent pieces was perhaps more projection than anything else. As such, it’s time to strip down and give a look into what I’ve been going through the past year or so.
WARNING!!! This entire blog post is basically just me ranting about shit and complaining. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then you might wanna pass on this one.
First off, the search for a new home. You might remember that I had quite a difficult time last year. I had to say goodbye to the home we started our family in. Even now, while writing this, I feel that churning in my guts about the whole thing. We finally closed on the sale (which was a profound debacle), and months later I drove by. This just happened to be the day the new owners demolished the house. I saw what was my home, full of memories, laughter, and love, broken and being carted away in dump trucks. The big and beautiful old trees were also taken down. I was momentarily paralyzed by the sight, with many emotions vying for dominance within me, like pack animals choosing a new leader. I drove away feeling devastated, and have had to make peace with the thought that I could never pass by the house again and see triggers of beautiful memories ever again.
At the same time, we began the hunt for a new home. In short, this entire process was absolutely brutal. On the plus side, we had a fantastic realtor, one who went above and beyond to help us find a new home. Still, the whole thing was a gorram mess. Over the past year we saw literally dozens of houses, and placed bids on a few, only for that to ultimately fall through in spectacular fashion. We did, however, finally find a place a few months back, and we moved in last week. We’re still in the process of clearing out everything from the rental, and are trying to balance that with unpacking enough stuff to both live more comfortably while also making room for more shit. Meanwhile, the entire process is just punishing. It feels as though no matter how much work I put into unpacking, very little gets done and we’re still drowning in chaos, at least from my perspective. Once we’re mostly settled, I’ll have to jump in and do it again when I move my wife’s mom out of her house and in with us, which will be a whole other bag of challenges.
At some point within the last year, we also found out that our eldest dog, Sophie, has liver cancer. She’s got weak back legs, a weak bladder, is blind in one eye and stone deaf. We’re not sure how much time we have left with her, and are trying to keep her as comfortable as we can. For me, it’s frustrating and I’m stuck with a lot of anger that I don’t know what to do with. I’m gonna lose my friend soon, my sweet little monster, and there’s fuck all I can do to stop that. The entire thing is like being on extended death watch, where every time I see her asleep in her crate or on the couch, I wonder if this is it…
Next, we add on financial fears. Fears that I somehow miscalculated and we’re in too deep with the house we bought. We won’t know for certain until maybe 6 months from now, but that doesn’t stop me from freaking out about it. As it is, we do have some money for renovations for the house, and there’s stuff we absolutely MUST do within the next year or so. As such, I’m gonna be saying goodbye to my beautiful Victoria (my 1968 Ford Fairlane 500 fastback). Having a classic car is something I’ve always wanted, and I’ve had her for most of Peanutty’s life now. That being said, she needs work done, and I just don’t have the loot to make that happen. I also don’t need another money pit hobby, especially when all I really get out of it is the joy of driving such a wonderful piece of historical beauty and American muscle around. Selling her would get us halfway to a bathroom remodel, which is much more desperately needed than cruising around in the car. Besides, I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore, and nowadays I look less like a cool young metalhead cruising around in a badass car, like the older brother in Phantasm, and more like some pathetic old fucker pretending he’s still cool while going through some sort of midlife crisis.
Now back to the SCA fighting stuff. A few weeks back, the knuckles on my right hand started to really hurt. I figured it was just a padding issue, as well as the result of being a sissy with no physical strength in any part of my body. So I dealt with it. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago this past Monday, and my hand was INSANELY bad after practice. I decided to take some time off fighting to allow it to heal. It’s mostly there, but I still get a twinge if I clench my fist. Now, though, I’m getting all sorts of other pains, and at this stage in the game it’s increasingly hard to compare what should be investigated vs what is just me being older. I see so many people start fighting at various stages in their lives, and none seem to end up with the discomfort I have. I’m sure it has much to do with my lack of fitness, and the fact that physical activity NEVER came naturally to me. I understood that going in, but it still bums me out a little when I don’t see myself improving as I should. Those teaching me have been really good, and very patient and giving of their time, for which I’m eternally thankful. Still, I don’t think it will last, and I would never blame them for stepping away. I know the frustration of spending time to teach someone who just doesn’t get it, and isn’t meant for it. So if you’re one of my teachers, no worries. When you need to step away, please do so with a clear conscience. I’m just thankful to have had the time with you.
Now I know what you’re thinking (I really don’t), why not just talk about these issue with friends and whatnot. Well, that’s another problem for me. Not a new one, per se, but one that’s gone on for ages. I have difficulty with friendships. I tend to get close and drift away from people over time, and the only one I’ve ever been consistently close to is my wife. All others either rub me the wrong way, don’t reciprocate the same level of friendship, or just aren’t trustworthy enough for me to invest in. I have MAJOR trust issues, some of which grew from a self-esteem deficiency and others that were the result of being burned too often and too deeply to ever move past. It’s brutal. Sometimes I’ll be close with someone for years at a time, only for them to do something that goes against the very fabric I’m woven from, at which time I need to check out. Other times it’s just people being a little shitty because of their own issues, which they may or may not even be aware of. These times I’ll take a step back and take it as someone who needs space. Occasionally I’ll ask what’s up, if it’s something totally out of character, but usually it’s just a trait that just bumped up a level, so I step back and let things settle, lest I confront it and end up losing a friendship over saying something stupid or out of line. I also know that I tend to rub people the wrong way a LOT, but I’m actually not aware when I do it most times. I don’t know if people would rather not confront me about it for risk of a friendship ending fight, or if they think I’m well aware of what I’m doing and don’t give a fuck. Truth is, I DO give a fuck. I actually try to live my life by a code of honor, and do right by other people, so if I have a shitty habit that hurts people, FUCKING TELL ME! I know it sounds hypocritical given that I mentioned earlier that I tend to back away, but in all honesty I do bring up shitty behavior when people do it. What they do with that information is another story. I’m not gonna beat a dead horse here…
I’m sure there are other little things that pile onto this mound of crazy, but if I listed all of them this would be far longer and you’d either bail out of boredom, or drag yourself to the end, at which time you’d be praying for the sweet merciful release of death…or maybe some comfort tacos or something. Mmmm, tacos…
As you probably remember from last year, we’re in the process of moving (yes, still…). We’re living in a rental, and we close on the sale of our old house tomorrow. Last night we had our final farewell to our first true home, and it was completely fucking brutal. What makes it worse than just selling our home is the fact that we can NEVER see it again. The new owners will be demolishing the house and building a whole new one on the property. The home we lived in, loved in, laughed in, cried in, started our family in, partied in, etc will be completely erased from existence, only to be seen again in pictures and video from our time spent there.
Many of you already know that I’m an extremely sentimental person. As such, this is incredibly painful for me. You see, this is the third place the Lish and I have lived since we got married. The first was a one bedroom co-op that we lived in for 3 years, and the second was a small house we lived in for about a year before moving into this one. About a year after we got married, I developed a horrible panic/anxiety disorder. I was really bad for a few years, going to therapy once or sometimes twice a week, taking medication, etc. We were really in flux, and there were some truly dark times where shit was REALLY bad. By the time we were moving into this house, we were hitting the tail end of it. I finished working out my shit, and we started to rebuild. We hit our stride here, settled in, and started our family.
This was a house of firsts. We had our children here, raised them for a few years here, and watched as they hit their milestones here. We sat on the back porch while the kids played and just talked about anything and everything. We had amazing parties with our incredible group of friends. We adopted Sully, and said farewell to him. There were BBQs and birthdays, Christmas and Easter. I started my arcade hobby there, and built my side business there. We went there before we even moved in, with close friends and my mother in law, to read the latest Harry Potter book when it first came out. I spent some awesome times with a good friend remodeling our kitchen after I got laid off. It was the only thing that kept me sane during a really rough time. I remember sitting on our sky chair on the porch every weekend morning in the summer while I had my coffee. There were thunderstorms spent on that porch too, watching the rain fall and the lightning with the kids.
But these are all just memories, right? What makes that different that childhood memories, or memories of the apartment? Well, I’ll tell you. The difference is that this was actually the first TRUE home I’ve ever had. It was mine. I felt safe here, I felt like I belonged here, and I truly felt like I was loved and wanted. I made this place my own, and it really was the only real home I feel that I ever had. I’m absolutely devastated that we had to leave this beautiful place. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, and it wouldn’t work in our family’s best interests going forward, but that doesn’t change what it was to me. At this point, I can’t imagine any future house taking its place in my heart. Sure, I’ll have another home, and perhaps in ten years time I’ll be singing a different tune, but for right now I feel homeless in a way. I think a part of me dies with that house, a part that will likely never heal. It’s as if I’m losing a beloved family member, only to relive our time together through these small windows to the past and the memories they conjure. It hurts more than my words could possibly express, and I know quite a few words.
Last night, after the Lish and the kids left, I decided to have one last fire in the amazingly beautiful fireplace and video tape it. As it turned out, this was much more painful than I thought it’d be. I was lonely, I was broken, I was devastated. I was grieving at the bedside of a dear loved one while they slowly succumbed to sickness in front of my eyes. I wanted to stay until the fire burned down to mere embers, but I couldn’t do it. The pain for me was far too much, and I ended up putting out the fire and going back to the rental.
Now I can imagine some people will read this and think I’m just some sappy melodramatic bitch, and perhaps there’s some truth to that. The reality is that this is literally how I felt at the time, and how I feel now. Like I said, I’m deeply sentimental, and I tend to live in the past, so I have a shitty habit of focusing on what I’ve lost and not living in the moment or looking to the future. I dwell on things. I know I shouldn’t, and I try not to, but for me it’s not that easy. I’m trying to move forward, but it’s hard (haiyoooo). I think it would’ve been easier if the new owners didn’t demo the house. I’ve have loved to show them her beauty, how to care for her, and teach them about all over her little idiosyncrasies. Still, I’m sure that in five or ten years time I’ll be able to look back with love and fondness, and not with longing and despair. I guess only time will tell. Still, I say this to her. Goodbye my very dear friend. We shared much together, and you will live on in our hearts and the hearts of our children (who had a VERY difficult and emotional time saying goodbye). You’ll always mean the world to us, because you were there to provide everything we needed to start our family and grow it right and true. We love you now, and always will, and we truly do wish things had worked out differently. Goodbye…
A little over a month ago, I swung by an internet radio studio to hang out with a good friend of mine while he did his radio show. During the show, he brought out a scale for him and another guy there to weigh themselves. Apparently, they were having a weight loss competition where they weigh in each week. Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to step on the scale. I regretted this immediately, of course.
As it turns out, over the course of just a few months, I had gained 20 lbs. I’m not really the type of person to obsess over my weight for the most part, nor am I someone who always looks in the mirror. As someone with a slight case of body dysmorphic disorder, I try to avoid any chance to actually look at myself, since what I see and what actually is are apparently two very different things according to pretty much everyone I’ve asked over the years. Considering all this, my sudden weight gain came as a bit of a shock.
I’m not really sure why it hit me the way it did, but I got this overwhelmingly shitty feeling in my gut and just couldn’t shake it. All of my current insecurities about my physical condition flooded in, and soon I was drowning in my own inadequacies. I’m now overweight, out of shape, and physically weak. This is kind of a first for me when it comes to two of those. I’ve always been thin or average, and usually kept in fair shape. The clock has been ticking, though, and time is having its fun with me. As for the other bit, I’ve never been a strong guy. I have virtually no upper body strength, and never had any before either. Mostly I’ve learned to use my entire body to accomplish tasks most other dudes could do with one hand, while drinking a beer with the other. I’ve dealt with quite a fair share of shaming and ribbing about this my entire life, so it’s always been a sore spot. Problem is, it’s always been very difficult for me to build bulk muscle. I’ve done weight training before, and my body just doesn’t seem to give a damn about strength. Now, though, this is becoming more of a problem.
After the show, I decided I was gonna try doing something about it. I downloaded an app on my phone called Sworkit, and started working out. I’m just doing cardio, and the app basically chooses an exercise at random, like Star Jumps (aka the bane of my existence) or burpees (an exercise designed by Hitler and the devil). You do that for 30 seconds, and then switch to another exercise. After 5 in a row, you get a 30 second break. I started out doing just 10-15 minutes, and realized rather quickly that I’m a sad, sorry, sack of shit. I couldn’t get through the whole thing without taking short breathers during some of the sets because I either couldn’t catch my breath, or because the pain in my muscles prevented me from going any further. By the end I found myself praying for a burglar to rush in and knock me unconscious. This is why I started
leaving the front door open learning to pace myself when I was working out. Eventually I was able to make it to 30 minutes, though I still have to take short pauses and feel dead at the end of it. This was the point I contracted the plague that was going around, and stopped for about 3 weeks.
Now, enter in my coworker who goes around trying to convince everyone to do Tough Mudder with him each year. This time someone asked him if he was doing it this year, and he said he wasn’t because he had nobody to go with. I’m not sure where the stupid idea came from, but for some ungodly reason I told him I’d go with him and I signed up. Since then, I’ve been reading articles on what kind of shape someone has to be in so they can do this, and I’ve come to the realization that I’m pretty much fucked. This thing sounds brutal for someone who rarely makes 5000 steps a day, let alone be in the condition required for this to happen.
I started hitting Sworkit again, but yesterday hit a wall. After about 21 minutes, my phone died, and I was never so happy about that. I was WIPED. I couldn’t eat, I felt dizzy, I was really shaky, and overall felt like I was gonna pass out. I went to lay down for a bit, and after some time I began to feel better. While I was laying there, though, I came to a realization that I apparently knew but didn’t wanna face. I fucking HATE working out. HATE IT! It’s not the whole being physical thing, and it’s not the pushing myself to the limit part. It’s what I’m actually doing. Whenever the app says Star Jumps, I wanna go to the voice actor’s house and punch her in the face because it’s fucking miserable. I used to rollerblade a lot, like 14 miles a day every day, and that I love doing. Even though it’s brutal and hard to do that these days, I love it, but I don’t live in an area where I can do that right now. I used to do martial arts, and loved that, even though it was physically punishing. But regular workouts suck ass. Part of the reason is because I’m in awful shape and can barely fucking do it without needing an EMT on standby. Part of the reason is because I lack the physical strength to do more than a few of certain exercises, like diamond pushups. And, best I can figure, part of the reason is that it’s just not fun whatsoever. Skating is fun. Martial arts is fun. Just Star Jumps and Push-Ups? No, that’s boring as fuck.
While I was ruminating on all this, the Lish came in to talk to me. I told her how I was feeling, and she said she felt very much the same way when she started working out at the gym. She said she hated it, and felt weak, incompetent, and miserable for quite awhile. After some time, though, she began to love it. Now she goes 4 days a week, and works out at home the other 3 days. She’s in killer shape, and blows me away in endurance. Occasionally she’ll do Sworkit with me, and she’s just a non-stop juggernaut through it all. Anyways, she told me that I’m just being too impatient and hard on myself, and that this will all get better in time. I guess part of my problem is that I don’t see much of a difference right away, and that frustrates me. I feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over, and just not getting any better. I really don’t wanna be the guy at the end of Tough Mudder who’s barely dragging himself along, only to collapse at the end and require medical attention. I also don’t wanna be incapable of pulling myself up over an obstacle or something like that, so strength training is a necessity now too. I’m just as bad at that as I am at cardio. I know a lot of what’s driving me through all this is my own self loathing. I hate myself, I hate the shape I’m in, I hate that I let myself get this way, and I hate that I’m finding it so difficult to progress. It’s so frustrating and infuriating. The problem with using my anger as fuel here is that, with such slow progress, all I end up with is more anger. Soon that evolves into being depressed about my current situation, and then all I wanna do is cancel my registration, say fuck it (preferably out loud), and just accept that I’m a bag of shit who’ll be out of shape the rest of his life.
What’s stopping me? Well, the answer is both simple, confusing, and complicated. Pride. I’d be willing to bet that people with depression don’t usually care about such a thing, but sometimes I can be a very contradictory dude. I try like hell to preserve some semblance of pride and honor, and I can’t bring myself to quit this yet. I know it’d be a huge regret in my life, and I’d look back on these years when I’m older and likely sick, and wonder if keeping with it would’ve let me live a longer, fuller life. I can’t handle the thought of that kind of regret, so for now I’m still gonna try. I still utterly hate everything about this right now, but I can’t bring myself to throw in the towel, if for no other reason than not wanting to deal with the shame that will come with it. I’ll try and post a few more times before the run, which is in late July, and I’ll include my progress. Hopefully there is some…
Surprisingly enough, I haven’t written about this yet, so I figured I’d do so now. Last March/April I got sick. Nothing unusual, just a cold or infection or whatever. As such, I had to take time off from singing with my band while I recovered. Problem is, I didn’t recover. My throat was a horrific blasted wasteland for week after week, and I had issues just talking, not to mention singing. With this happening, and the move about to kick off, I decided to tell my band mates that I needed time off. I told them I didn’t know what was going on, or when I’d be able to play again, and if they found someone else in the interim I’d be totally fine with it. I didn’t want to hold anyone back because of my issues.
I started seeing doctors, and went through test after test. Initially, it started as an allergy issue. I got on allergy meds, but that didn’t do enough. After more tests and discussions, it was suggested that it’s perhaps a GI issue, that I’m having reflux that’s burning the back of my throat all the time. I went on meds for that. Slowly, as the summer ticked on by, I got marginally better. It was a fight the whole way, trying to sing constantly, getting frustrated and angry when I’d be done after a song or two, and then waiting for the next day to try again.
Fast forward to October, and the insanity that ensues during that month for us, I started to forget to take my allergy meds. It just wasn’t routine enough, and it slipped out of my conscious thought. Good thing is, though, it looks like things have gotten better. Not all the way, but enough that I can start rebuilding my stamina and getting my voice back into shape.
This brought up another question: Should I return to the stage? I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Part of me says no, because I’m older and who the fuck really WANTS to come see me on stage and hear me sing, aside from the Lish. Not that I’m really that much older than I was a year ago, mind you, I just hadn’t really thought about it before. Don’t get me wrong, I love that my friends come out to see me perform, and they never complain about it whatsoever. But me being me, I tend to think people only come out because they want to support a friend, and not because of what they’re hearing. If they didn’t know me, would they still come? I tend to think they wouldn’t. I hope this doesn’t come off as me being unappreciative, because I’m not. I love that they come to support me, as I’d do for them. The question is, though, is coming back worth it? Sure, I love to sing and be on stage, but a big part of that is what I get from a crowd. It’s an incredible feeling to play in front of people, and see some of them get really into it, screaming along and exploding with energy. It’s like standing in the sunlight when you’re cold.
On the other hand, there is music still in me that I feel the need to express. If I did go back, I’d want to do a mix of originals and covers. The problem is, I’d want to do a wide range of covers, from metal to alternative to classic rock. My music tastes tend to be eclectic. I’d wanna do some Faith No More, STP, Alice in Chains, as well as Maiden, Metallica, Slipknot, and even some more mainstream shit. I’ve been in bands awhile, and sets like this are hard to come by, and it’s tough finding players all on the same page with something like this.
So I have a decision to make. Do I hang up my mic and just do more youtube covers for my channel, or do I step out on stage again? Right now, I don’t know what I’ll do. To be honest, a part of it, quite possibly a big part of it, has always been me seeking acceptance and validation. Formative years believing I’m not worth a damn cause that to be taken as fact. This belief carried on throughout my life, and is still just as relevant today as it was back then, so I seek validation and acceptance constantly. My logical side wars with this internally, but emotions are silly things, and don’t really give a shit. Being told you’re stupid, ugly, worthless, and disgusting tends to leave a mark. Even something as seemingly provable as being told you can’t sing, or are a shitty singer, leaves its mark. The irony is that when people validate me, I tend to not believe them. I truly feel as though they’re just being nice, or sometimes as if they are patting me on the back and saying good job as if I’m a child in an “everyone gets a trophy” sort of activity. This is made easier because I set high standards for myself, and mostly never meet them, so my emotional response has that in mind, as if everyone knows where my bar is set for myself. Anyways, enough of my pity pot bullshit. Hell, who knows, maybe subconsciously I wrote all this just to garner sympathy and attention. It’d make sense. I guess the real question is this: If my need for validation and acceptance wasn’t there, would I have ever taken that stage in the first place? I don’t have an answer for that one.
Finding the right pub is one of the most important things in life. It’s something that can happen right away, or take quite some time. The key part here is to find a good location, with a good atmosphere and people you can really relate to. The establishment should be run well, and those in charge should have a clear focus on doing their best to ensure everyone has a good time and enjoys themselves, while also having a good time themselves. It’s also very important to have an open environment, where anyone can voice concerns to the management or others in the bar and work out any issues without it resulting in a fight where the cops have to be called, or worse, an ambulance.
However, the MAJOR key here is the people. People who GET you. People who are there for a variety of reasons, but value having a good time and letting go of the crap in their daily lives. People who can give you advice, or listen to yours with an open mind and respect your opinions. Not at all an easy thing to find. For me, one of the biggest things is feeling not only accepted there, but wanted there. Those at the bar, people I respect and whose company I enjoy, wanting me to come down there as often as possible simply because they enjoy my company, is one of those things I find incredibly important. Along with that, truly being appreciated for who I am and any help I give is also huge. For me, these things are important for reasons that many who know me don’t really know about. I was one of those who never really had this. Most people, during the majority of my life, were….less than accepting of me. I was mostly disliked by my peers, with the exception of the choice few, and even then only very few gave enough of a shit to really try to understand me and value what I brought to the friendship table. Many times I was just treated like the entertainment. I was the dancing monkey, the court jester, and everything in between. So, because of this, I never really had a place where I felt like I fit in. I could adapt to sort of fit here or there, but it never really felt right. It was like being a multifaceted key, where one side would fit one thing, but the other sides wouldn’t fit it at all. It made being in certain groups both fun and taxing at the same time. A few groups fired on more than one cylinder, but not many, and most times it wasn’t the core cylinders that really matter. This all changed, of course, when I found just the right pub.
Now, I can let myself be me, and not only is it ok, but it’s enjoyed…sought after, even. Sure, I have had friends before who felt this way, but having people who are virtually strangers to me feel this way has had a slightly different effect, and this little difference ended up making all the difference (fuckin A, I use that word a LOT!). This isn’t to say that my friends aren’t as important, or haven’t helped me and healed me in ways, because they absolutely have. This is more to say that even though you have great friends, finding a group of people who know fuck all about me, and having them not only welcome me but want me around, despite me really being myself around them, heals a very deep and very old wound inside. A wound that’s never started truly healing because of how specific it is, and how rare the treatment for it is. Finding the pub you can call home really really doesn’t have much to do with the alcohol, since you can find that in a variety of other places, or even on your own. I can go elsewhere and have scotch, or learn about rum, or whatever. But that right pub will make all of it so much better, so much more gratifying, and more fulfilling than any self discovery of such things. I finally feel like I found mine, and hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this. I can not only be myself, but I can be who I want to be when I’m there. I can genuinely be me, all beliefs and thoughts intact, and all core cylinders firing. It’s a freedom of sorts, and I’m diggin’ it right now, so much so that I take great pleasure in giving back in any way I can. Truth be told, even if something does happen to fuck it up, at the very least it will have given me hope that this is something that CAN be healed, and that’s far more than a scarred and beat up cynic like me could have ever hoped for. For that, I will remain eternally thankful.