Tuesday, August 26, 2014

it's a slow day at the office...

I think about life.  A lot.  I suppose it's a good thing--means I'm not taking it for granted.

Have you ever turned the radio on in the car and heard a band...maybe you're not too crazy about the tune so you flip over to another station, only to hear the same band?  And then you think, "Whoa, did they die?"  You know what I mean?  You're thinking that it's too much of a coincidence for these two, maybe three radio stations to be playing the same artist at the same time, so maybe one of the members croaked?

Yesterday, Metallica was on the radio.  I'm not a huge fan, so I changed it.  Metallica was on again.  So I thought to myself, "What if the entire band died in a bus crash or something?"  Yeah, kind of morbid, but it was rush hour traffic and my brain had plenty of time to wander.

Well?  What if?  I immediately thought about what all they had accomplished in their lifetime.  What were they, 50 by now?  So that's a hell of a run.  They didn't really know what life was like on the other side--meaning how "normal" folks like you and I live.  They went for it early and succeeded.  They trailblazed a unique genre of music, toured the world, made a million dollars, and met some incredible personalities along their way.  Nice job, guys.

Then I got to thinking about how all of us (for the most part) have the opportunity to go for it.  (And when I say "go for it", I instantly think of a corny inspirational poster with a sailboat or someshit on it.)  Most folks--at least most folks that I can relate to--have the opportunity to do whatever they want.  We have the freedom to pursue whatever ridiculous, one-in-a-million chance, eye-rolling dream we choose.  I'm not saying that I want to be a rock star (not anymore...).  I'm just saying that because Metallica happened to be on two radio stations at the same time, that I gained a little perspective and appreciation.  The rest of my day was pretty uneventful.

But now I'm going to keep on rambling...

Metallica didn't die.  They're fine--probably at the Burger King drive-thru right now ordering some food.  But Robin Williams did die.  And as tired as I am of hearing about it, it is weird.  So I go through a similar thought process:  What a life.  What a career.  And...what a shame.

The accident that killed Metallica feels different than Robin Williams' suicide.  It has to do with the words "accident" and "suicide" and how different they are to me.  With Metallica's death, I immediately wanted to celebrate their lives and accomplishments.  With Williams' I was pissed.  Sure, there is sympathy and sadness as well, but a definite sense of anger.

I'm not going to get into the debate of  "is a depression-oriented suicide selfish or not?".  I don't know.  I don't know depression all that well.  Obviously you can't just flip a switch and you're all of a sudden happy and thankful.  I can't help but think that there were some mind and mood-altering substances involved, but whatever.  It feels selfish on my end.

I had a very good friend that suffered almost the exact same fate as Williams, and although he was going through some really rough times mentally, it still felt selfish to me.  Was he depressed?  Yeah, probably.  And if that was the case, I certainly feel sorry and sad, but I'm still pissed.

Seems like I say this every time I write, but I'm not religious.  I don't hang my hat on one organized belief.  But if life isn't a fucking miracle, then I don't know what is.  I don't care about walking on water or turning water into wine--those are baby-shit miracles in comparison to creating a human life.  I've always thought that to an extent, but even more so now that my daughter, Ruby, is born.  Life is mind-numbingly amazing.  I'm not preaching or trying to give inspirational speeches..."Life is great, gang! Carpe diem, everyone!  Carpe diem!!"  It's more than cheerleading for life.  It's much deeper.  I hope Ruby sees that someday.

We all take it for granted, at least from time to time.  Life is all we know, but we still have to acknowledge that it's a ridiculously generous gift from somewhere or someone (whatever or whoever that may be).  So I guess when someone ends theirs, it rubs me the wrong way.  Sure, maybe they had sadness and negativity consuming them in some way, and they couldn't deal with it.  That really sucks.  I'm sorry.  It still rubs me the wrong way, though.  It feels like the ultimate lack of appreciation.

I don't plan on killing myself, at least not blatantly. I plan on doing the best with what I've got.  I plan on balancing contentment with outlandish dreams.  If I die in a bus crash like Metallica did, so be it.  I'm going to be appreciative until the wheels fall off.

That's what I've got going on in my head today.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

fat.

Today is the worst I've felt in a very long time.  I'm not sick, I'm just fat.

I am enormous and unhealthy.  The fatter and more out of shape that I get, the harder it is to lose it.  Working out sucks.  And now finding the time to workout is a challenge.  Today is the breaking point, though.  I decided this immediately after eating bratwurst #2 this afternoon (actually, it was a chicken sausage--I'm already healthy!).

I've always said that I can lose weight pretty easily when I want to.  Well, I want to.  So we're going to keep up a routine of eating better, eating less, and being active.  It's going to be really hard, but I'm cutting out sweets.  I don't eat a ton anyway, but I've grown to love ice cream.  And everytime I eat it, I feel 50lbs heavier.  No fast food either.  No McDonald's breakfast.  No Sonic Route 44s.  No free Taco Bell.  Real food, less of it, and moving.

Starting now.  I'm going for a walk.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

baby.

There's a good chance that by now, those of you reading this are aware that I am a father.  It is a surreal experience.

For the past three weeks and four days, my life has taken such a fortunate turn that words cannot describe it.  I am reluctant to ramble about it, because the feelings are so beyond what can be scribbled down in a blog. But my already fantastic life just got substantially better.

I am not necessarily a religious man--more spiritual, I would say (actually I would say it's none of your business), but that little girl that I look down on in my arms every morning is a damn miracle.  Just amazing.  She's healthy and beautiful.


"Just wait!" is a phrase I'm getting tired of.  "She keeping you up at night?"

"Yeah, a little.  We're a little tired--still adjusting."

"Tired, huh??  Just you wait!  Wait 'til she's two months!!  Wait 'til she's two years!!!  Wait 'til she's a teenager!!!!  It doesn't get any easier!  She'll cry and not sleep and you won't know what to do with her!  You'll stay up all night with her for nights on end and then she'll resent you when she's a teenager!!!!  Hahahahaha!!"

Shut up.

I understand you have kids and you're trying to relate.  But stop.  It's become annoying.  I don't need the negativity, even if you are disguising it with smiles and laughter.  Plus, I'm 40.  This has been a very long time in the making and I'd like to enjoy every bit of it that I can while it's happening--good and bad.  The "bad" for my wife and I isn't that bad.  It's not that difficult for us to see perspective when our child is screaming and shitting herself nonstop.  I expect it, I appreciate it, and I welcome it.  It wasn't that long ago that we didn't think we were ever going to be able to have kids--now we have a healthy baby.  She does baby stuff.  She's going to continue doing baby stuff.  Then she'll do kid stuff, and then teenager stuff.

Then she'll be an adult and have to change my diapers.


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Thursday, July 10, 2014

the girl.

This isn't a kiss-ass post or intended for people to gush over as a public love note...or whatever.  It's the truth.

There was a very lengthy time in my life when I prayed for love (short pause for laughter/vomiting).  Now, as ridiculous as that sounds and as stomach-turning as that statement even makes me feel, it's actually the truth.  Let me back up, and spill much more personal information than is needed (I'll give you ample opportunity to judge me throughout this post).

I never had a serious girlfriend through high school, through college, or for quite a while afterwards.  I always saw my parents' relationship--which is nauseatingly great--and longed for that.  I wanted that connection...one with zero doubts.  So at night I would have a chat with God--I don't like to call it prayer, that's way too formal.  My conversations with any sort of higher power have never been robotic or rehearsed--they're just two dudes talking.  I would always ask God (or whatever his/her name is) to help me out with finding the right girl.  Material possessions were never on the chat list.  I generally just stuck to health, family, friends, and then at the end of the chat I would throw in a little request for a girl...THE girl.  That routine went on for a while.

Over the years I enjoyed a few relationships that were good, but not what I needed.  I needed one with zero doubts.  I experienced love, which is always nice, but it was never the right kind of love...if that makes any fucking sense.

Then through an odd series of events and conversations, I met April.  April and I clicked immediately and became incredibly close.  We created our own relationship.  It's not my parents' relationship, it's not our sibling's or friends' relationships...it's ours.  We grew with each other, and became better people through our relationship. It worked and it was right.

April is now my wife.  She has my daughter in her stomach.

One thing I've always told April and myself, is that I will never take her or our relationship for granted.  It took a maze of events for us to cross paths.  It took leaps of faith, generosity from our families, and patience to end up where we're at now.  Not to mention adventure, a wicked sense of humor, and a life's agenda to have fun.

I'm ridiculously lucky to have met my wife, I understand that.  My spiritual chats now have many more "thank yous" than they do "pleases".  I have that connection.  With zero doubts.


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Thursday, May 8, 2014

poop rant.

I have the shits right now.  It's one of the worst cases of the shits I've ever had.  Poop soup, man.  All I can do is curl up in a ball and hope I don't shit myself...again.

I went to the doctor, reluctantly.  I say "reluctantly" because, why would I want to go?  He's either going to tell me that I have a bad case of diarrhea (duh)...or that I have some horrid, incurable disease caused by a small worm or something living inside my intestines.  It ended up being the former diagnosis and not the latter.  Luckily, I guess.

"Make sure you're on the BRAT diet!  You know, Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast!"

Oh, I thought you meant the delicious sausages made by Johnsonville.  I've eaten about 11 of those today and may have progressively gotten a little worse.  Sorry for the confusion.

I'm not seven, and I'm not an idiot.  I know what to eat and what not to eat when I'm sick.  Kind of.  Although I have been known to "punish" my stomach for being "bad" by ingesting a coney dog or a slab of ribs to whip it back into shape (which now that I think about it, I don't remember that tactic ever backfiring...), I'm fully aware of what I'm supposed to eat when shitting water.  Not worth a doctor's visit in my opinion.

This whole fiasco started in Mexico, five days ago.  Now, I'm grateful that my wife and I are able to take a trip to Mexico.  I'm grateful we can afford it (or that we have enough room on a credit card), I'm grateful that we can take time off from our jobs, and I'm grateful we have great family members to shuttle us to the airport and watch our dog for us.

But Mexico can eat shit.

I've been there three times now, and all three times I've gotten terribly ill.  I think I know what to watch out for by now...no water, no street food, blah blah blah.  But how am I supposed to have a relaxing vacation if I can't have any ice, no water, be wary of the food, don't touch the money, there's no hand sanitizer anywhere, hardly any soap, be careful of glassware and dishes, and to be safe don't touch anything.  Apparently everything in Mexico is disease-ridden.  To me, at least.

I digress.  I'm just annoyed right now.  Sitting here typing, listening to my innards make disgusting noises, no doubt preparing for another puckered run to the john.  I'm all out of Immodium.

If I'm not better by tomorrow, I'm going to Sonic.  Fuck it.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

shows.


This post is about musical concerts.

Me and a buddy got to chatting tonight about the best concerts we've ever seen.  Some of the acts that were mentioned were extremely obscure, but with bits of special randomness that made them uniquely special to each of us.

I contemplated listing mine in a top 5 order, similar to John Cusack's style, but they're just all just too different to rank.  And there are a lot more than five.  But here are a few, along with some poetic commentary to accompany it.  Prepare for bullet points.

  • Ramones--Mississippi Nights, St. Louis, MO.  I've been lucky enough to see the Ramones several times in my life before they all died.  I'm not bitching, but most of the shows were of the outdoor alternative festival-type.  Not really the way God intended to show off the world's greatest puck rock band.  But I'm grateful, nonetheless.  The one time I did see the Ramones in their natural habitat, was at the smokey, sticky, skanky, rundown club on St. Louis' landing, Mississippi Nights (RIP).  Johnny Ramone spit on me during "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker".  Beat that, everyone.
  • Hayes Carll--Mishawaka Ampitheater, Bellvue, CO.  Typically, the Mish is a fair-weather venue where jam bands and hippies gather to celebrate 27 minute-long songs and hallucinogens in the great outdoors.  As great as this might sound to 78% of the readers right now, this show was the opposite.  We gathered indoors, in a very intimate setting in the middle of December.  Plastic patio chairs accompanied by a gigantic fireplace and a rickety, homemade stage was the perfect setting for Hayes and his guitar player.  April and I drank bottles of O'Dells with our feet propped against the stage.
  • Mighty, Mighty Bosstones--Regency Showcase, Springfield, MO.  Although I had listened to their tunes for a while, this was the first time I'd ever been to a Bosstones show.  Their opening band was called Black Train Jack.  While we're grabbing beers at the bar (I believe with my underage sister), the lights go down and BTJ starts playing some swell rock and roll type music.  From backstage, an overweight lead singer runs out and starts wailing.  The entire crowd--whom I'm guessing 90% of had never heard of this band--rush the stage.  Large lead-singer, who is still wailing, jumps into the crowd and body surfs--all 350lbs of him.  This was the tip of the iceberg, as the Bosstones blew the roof off the place in divine fashion.
  • Willie Nelson--Red Rocks, Morrison, CO.  I've seen Willie a handful of times, and all of his shows are very similar.  Not a bad thing, just how it is.  So seeing him in this incredible venue, on a bluebird day-turned starry night, with the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop was special.  It was one of those moments that gave you goosebumps for three hours.  Especially during "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain".  It didn't hurt that Ryan Bingham opened the show.
  • AC/DC--The Arena, St. Louis, MO.  This was my first time seeing AC/DC, and it was right at the beginning of me and my team delving into pure debauchery. 1990, I believe, was not quite at the height of me getting into trouble, but this road trip to see AC/DC was certainly one the triggers.  Blissfully ignorant is the only way to describe this trek by four 16 year olds to downtown StL.  We weren't of age to purchase $9 beers at the show yet, but we definitely made up for it before, during, and after the concert.  A giant, faux-rock wall came tumbling down at the beginning of the show during the intro to  "Thunderstruck", as Angus powered through it with his Gibson SG.  The rest is...hazy.
  • Van Halen--Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO.  I was 100% against seeing this "reunion" of washed up dorks trying to make a dollar off me by acting like they like each other for three hours.  Understand please, Van Halen is overall my favorite band in life, circa 1978 to 1984, for the most part.  The combination of a good friend going to the show, and free box seats from my wife's employer helped talk me into going.  I entered the private room, like a fucking VIP, and started eating the mediocre free food and drinking all the booze, like I'm supposed to.  After some unentertaining crap, like an opening band and some miniature blimps putting around and dropping gift certificates into people's laps, the lights finally turn off.  Then...all of my favorite songs came to life with precision craftsmanship and daft showmanship.  Yes, old as shit, and certainly with the lead singer on a leash, they rekindled my love affair with the original set.  Even if it was with a fat kid named Wolfie.
Notable Favorites:

  • After a dismal showing in Springfield, MO, Marky Ramone and The Intruders finished their show and walked off stage to a smattering applause of six.  I was able to meet Marky before he made it backstage (to slit his wrists), apologized for our sad music scene, and bought him a drink.  He likes gin and tonics.
  • Although at an outside show at a minor league baseball field, and not a small, enclosed club, Motorhead was by far and away the loudest band I've ever heard live.  Louder than the Ramones...louder than AC/DC...louder than KISS...louder than Social Distortion...louder than NOFX...all put together.  It was outside, and anyone trying to enjoy a rock 'n roll-free evening within an 8-mile radius of that ball field was out of luck that night.  Side note: Buckcherry opened the show that night by saying, "Drink beer, fuck bitches!".  Oh, Buckcherry, you're words are so though-provoking.  
  • At the Warped Tour, circa 20somethingorother, I met Rancid.  I've seen them a few times, and they're swell.  But meeting them was swell-er, because they're extremely down to earth cats.  That makes seeing them live that much cooler.  The band that stole the show that day was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, though.  Leading up to the show, they set up a tiki bar on stage, had Heather, the hot bassist from Teen Idols tending bar, and all wore Hawaiian party garb.  They invited people from the audience up on stage, but before we realized this and worked up the nerve, the show was starting.  A huge regret.
  • BR549 is an incredible country and western band.  I saw them in Springfield with a large group of friends whom had never heard of them.  I talked them into going, along with my folks. We commenced to dancing all fucking night and having one of the best times ever.  Ever.  Similar happenings have occurred during Southern Culture On the Skids, Ray Condo and His Ricochets, Brian Parton and His Nashville Rebels, Mojo Nixon, Those Legendary Shack Shakers, and Twistin' Tarantulas shows.
  • I'm going to group you all together, 80s metal bands.  Not because I'm discounting you...God no.  80s metal concerts is what I was raised on.  It introduced me to chicks with big hair, an overabundance of second-hand smoke, and meaningful phrases like, "Satisfaction Guaranteed", "Fuckin' A", "Fuck yeah, man", and "Are you ready to rock?".  Let's start with the first one, in 1988: Night Ranger with Great White.  And it only got better from there.  Stryper, Winger, Vixen, KISS (without makeup!), Whitesnake, White Lion, Dokken, Quiet Riot, Poison, Slaughter, Warrant, LA Guns, and about 100 others I can't think of right now.  Goofy, but incredibly awesome at the time.  
  • Ready for this??  I went to the CMT Awards.  Yep.  But hey, listen.  Tickets were free, along with all access VIP pre and after party.  I was surrounded by famous people I could give a shit about.  But it was still cool.  I'd never, ever pay for it, but it was still cool.  I couldn't tell you the pop country stars that were there.  I'm too cool to know who they are or care about their existence.  
  • Oh, Swiss Villa.  This was the large ampitheater in the middle-of-nowhere Ozark Mountains Missouri where we used to see large musical acts.  My first show ever...ever, was Kenny Loggins, at Swiss Villa in 1985, circa Top Gun Danger Zone shit.  As we became older and more careless, we would see shows such as Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth, Alice In Chains, and Lynard Skynard while drunk as shit and young.  I remember at the Ozzy show I got hungry.  So I bought some nachos.  As soon as I was handed the nachos, some drunk chick knocked them out of my hand and onto the dirt.  Shortly after, the show was cut short due to on-stage rioting.  No shit.  Was it due to my nacho disaster?  Probably.
  • One of my first jobs, if not my absolute first job, was cleaning up puke at the Shrine Mosque.  This was the venue in town where several larger acts would come to perform from time to time.  Even though my primary job was cleaning up vomit for free beer, I still got to wear a "Staff" lanyard.  Chicks kind of dug that lanyard, even though I was toting around a mop.  I got to clean up excrement from such shows as Bad Company, Ted Nugent, Soundgarden, Skid Row, PIL, and Live.  Woohoo.

Will I Ever?

  • Since I do not have $300 for a standing room only ticket, I apparently will not be able to see Merle Haggard anytime soon.  He's been through Denver twice now, with ticket prices laughable.  Maybe I can catch him at a rodeo, bar,  or casino...where he should be.
  • An obscure act I never got to see was the Donnas.  Love their music and their style.  Noticed they were playing with the Hives....about five years ago.  I'd like to see them both, if they're still alive.
  • Iggy, you might be too old for me to enjoy seeing you in concert anymore, but I'd still like to give it a try.
  • In my opinion, the best punk rock band there is... the New Bomb Turks.  They still play a bar mitzvah a time or two a year, so maybe I'll still get to see them.
  • Johnny Cash is dead.  Waylon Jennings is dead.  George Jones is dead.  Hank Williams is dead.  What a jip.
I'm 100% certain that I'm missing a very important concert or two, or three.  I'm also certain that I was more than likely fairly inebriated during these possible forgotten shows.  That means it was a good show though, right?

Good things.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

kiddo.

I'm wound up.

Got me a gin and tonic, a Burt Reynolds movie rolling, and an ornery retriever dog laying at my feet.  My wife is upstairs, in bed.  She's pregnant.  And you know what?  That's about the coolest thing there is.

We're going on year number four of trying to have kids.  It isn't easy for some people, present company included.  And it isn't cheap.  This kid has already cost us as much as a luxury automobile, and she's still got four months left to hatch.  But I wouldn't trade it for a million dollars.  And yeah, you heard me...she.

I'm having a little girl.  Just typing those words makes me grin real big.

I'm not in the mood to sit here and have a discussion on if I'm going to be a good parent or a bad parent.  I don't really feel like fantasizing about my daughter being a brain surgeon, or an astrophysicist, or the president.  I'm not there yet.  I'm just happy she has a healthy brain, a healthy heart, all her appendages and phalanges, and is kicking my wife from the inside.  That's what's important right now.

"Oh my God, I'm not sure if I'll be a good parent or not?"...is something I haven't said since 1997.  And rightfully so...no child would ever want 23yr old Matt raising them.

I'm fucking 40 now.  I'm ready.  I'm so ready I could puke.  And speaking of...I'm ready to clean up puke, poop, and whatever other disgusting messes babies make.  Bring it on, baby--I'm not afraid of you.  I'm gonna parent the crap out of you.  You're going to be raised well.  Other babies will be jealous of how phenomenally you are being brought up.  You will be exposed to such wonderments in life as a loving family, dear friends, great food, Burt Reynolds movies, the outdoors, not being an entitled asshole, manners, how to pour a good drink at a young age, and not making fun of your dad for being old.

All I can think of right now is pigtails.  That's honestly about as far as I can get without kicking myself in the ass and being reminded to take it a day at a time.  I'm enjoying the kicks from inside April's belly, the fruit and vegetable size comparisons, the occasional name that we throw around, and the designated driver.  Everything after that is...well, after that.

I can't wait to meet you, whatever your name is.  You're going to be a kick-ass daughter, with parents who already love you dearly.  Please take care of yourself, and I'll see you in July, kid.

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