Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Feeling the absence...

Yesterday was a tough day for me.

Five years ago, my father passed away. I still miss him very much. His absence is felt even more when big events or landmark moments occur in my life, and I’m unable to share them directly with him.
I know, I know…you’re probably saying to yourself, “He’s there” or “He knows”…
And while that may be the only comforting words one could find to say to someone feeling the absence of a loved one, it doesn’t help much. Regardless of whether or not it’s actually a correct statement in a factual sense.

And while I’m on the subject of “comforting phrases of condolence” here’s another…”It gets easier”…or “It will get better”.

This, my friends, is quite simply...

When you’ve experienced the loss of someone close, it never gets easier to feel their absence from your life. You will always wish for them to be there from time to time, and big moments of your life will always be bittersweet…sometimes painful.
The only thing that becomes easier as time goes on? Acceptance. Acceptance that the person you are missing is simply not there any more. You still miss them greatly.

I really miss my dad. Especially in those times of note when I wish more than anything that he could be there to share in triumph. I miss his stories. I miss his snarky one-liners, his insanely lurid and downright irreverent jokes, and his topically irrelevant anecdotes. I miss his hugs, his gentle hand on my shoulder along with the fatherly squeeze of approval and pride he would give me on the back of my neck.
I miss the sound of his voice…the calm timbre of excitement when he was proud, and the stern, quizzical tone when he was concerned.

Over the weekend, my bandmates and I made history…literally. We achieved something that, for now, has never been achieved by anyone else. The experience was incredible, unfathomable, and surreal. And while I had someone dear and special to share it with (my precious wife and one of our daughters, to be specific), having it occur at the anniversary of my dad’s passing made me feel his absence far more than usual.

I miss you, Pop. I still love you deeply. Hopefully, you’re aware of all that I’ve accomplished. Hopefully I’ve made you proud. Over the weekend, in a place so steeped in history, I helped add to that history. I was set upon this path in part because you bought me a little guitar when I was six years old, taught me a few chords, and saw to it that music was a part of my life. I hope you know how thankful I am. I love you, Pop.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My conversation with the "dancer"...

DISCLAIMER: To those of you who might be easily offended, this post may not be your cup of tea, for it contains subject matter and language of a nature that you might not want to have to discuss with your kids...or your grandmother for that matter.
My sincerest apologies go out to any exotic dancers or drummers who are offended by the following post.

Years ago, when I was a young adult (long before I was married to my amazing wife), I was in a band that had a regularly occurring gig at a restaurant/bar four nights a week. During the course of such tenures, members of bands get to know some of the regulars that will frequent the establishment...in fact, it's kind of hard not to.

One particular night, at this one particular house gig, I struck up a conversation with one of the regulars. She had come in plenty of times before, had made song requests, put money in the tip jar, etc. She wasn't in every night, but when she did come in, she always came in alone, usually stayed for the entire evening until the gig was over, and then left alone. She was an attractive girl but I never saw her with a guy. We had often exchanged pleasantries in passing, though I cannot recall her name anymore (not that it really matters now). One night, between sets, I bought her a drink and decided to have an actual conversation with her. What follows is the conversation as best I can recall it...

GIRL: Thanks for the drink, sweetie! So, um...are you going to take me home tonight or what?
ME: (chuckling) Well, I guess I don't have to ask if you have a boyfriend...
GIRL: (smiling) Uh...no. Obviously not. So what do you say?
ME: That sounds like a lot of fun, though I don’t know if I can handle a girl like you.
GIRL: What do you mean a girl like me? Exactly what kind of girl do you think I am?
ME: Sorry. I was just joking. Inviting me to take you home was maybe a little more forward than I'm used to, but I honestly don’t know you well enough to know what kind of girl you are...though you always seem to be a sweet girl whenever I've talked to you in the past.
GIRL: (nervously) Oh. Not very funny...your joke, I mean.
ME: (scrambling to recover) Sorry about that. I get kind of awkward around girls sometimes. So, um...you’ve been coming here for a while. You know what I do for a living, but I have no idea what you do for a living. So tell me...what do you do for a living?
GIRL: (reluctantly) Um...well...um...I’m a dancer.
ME: That’s pretty cool. I used to take ballet when I was younger. People don’t realize how grueling that kind of stuff can be. I didn’t think there was a ballet company in town anymore. Do you dance for a private company or something?
GIRL: Um...not that kind of dancer.
ME: Oh, sorry. So you do traveling musical productions and off-Broadway kind of stuff then?
GIRL: Um...not really. I’m an exotic dancer.

(And here, my friends, was when my general sense naivety got the best of me)
ME: Oh, cool. I’ve always loved those Burlesque shows with the big feather-fans and...
GIRL: Um...I don’t think you understand.
ME: Oh...I guess I don't. Where, exactly, do you work?
GIRL: I work at [insert name of the local gentlemen’s club].
ME: (sighing with relief) Oh, okay...I get it! You’re a stripper. Why didn’t you just say so?
GIRL: I’m not a stripper...I’m a dancer.
ME: Um...okay. Are you ashamed of what you do?
GIRL: Not at all.
ME: Then why didn't you just say you’re a stripper?
GIRL: Because I’m not. I’m a dancer.
ME: It’s ok...I don’t care. It’s not a problem for me...I’m not judging you.
GIRL: I didn’t think you were...Besides, I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.
ME: So...why can’t you call yourself a stripper? I mean, that IS what you do.
GIRL: (in an irritated tone) Because, that’s NOT what I do...I’m a dancer.
ME: Calm down a little...now just answer a few simple questions for me so I’m clear about all of this in my own mind. You didn’t study your craft anywhere like Julliard, Joffrey, or any place like that, right?
GIRL: Right.
ME: And when you’re at work you’re usually in a dark bar full of drunk men, right?
GIRL: Right.
ME: And while on the job you walk out onto a small stage, next to a pole, right?
GIRL: Right.
ME: And then you take off your clothes in front of said drunk men, right?
GIRL: Right.
ME: And during the process of taking off your clothes in front of these drunken strangers, they give you money in one-dollar increments, right?
GIRL: Right...lots of it.
ME: Good for you! So to be clear...when you are at work, you get up on a stage with a pole, “dance” around in a "sexy" way, take off your clothes to the point of being almost completely nude, in front of total strangers, and you do this for money, right?
GIRL: Yes...that is correct.
ME: (laughing sarcastically) Then you’re a STRIPPER!!
GIRL: Look...you don’t have to be an asshole about it. I’m not ashamed of what I do for a living. I just prefer to refer to my work as dancing.
ME: I’m not trying to be an asshole about it. I’m just curious why you insist on calling yourself a dancer instead of a stripper. What does your grandmother think you do for a living? Does she know you’re a stripper?
GIRL: My grandmother doesn’t know, and never needs to know what I do…especially that! She might die of a heart attack if she ever found out. Besides, if she asked, I would tell her that I’m a dancer.
ME: Why? Are you ashamed of what you do?
GIRL: Not at all...I just wouldn’t want my grandmother to know it. She would be so disappointed in me. I tell people I’m a dancer because it sounds more respectable. It keeps regular people like my grandmother from thinking I’m a half-naked, coke-snorting whore.
ME: Didn't you just say you don't care about what people think about you?
GIRL: (glaringly) I don't! Does your grandmother know that you’re a drummer?
ME: Yes, she certainly does, and she is quite proud of me. However, I’m now thinking I need to remove the potential stigma of her assuming that I might be a lazy pot-smoker who delivers pizzas when he needs to raise enough money to buy weed. I’m going to start telling her that I’m a “poly-rhythmic time passage regulatory engineer specializing in mood enhancements using harmon-orbital trans-atmospheric suspended vibrational membrane systems".
(I know...I shocked myself when I spit that one out. Had to write it all down afterwards!)
GIRL: (sarcastically) Why? Are you ASHAMED of what you do?
ME: (calmly grinning) Not at all. If you can get away with calling yourself a dancer, I don’t have to call myself a drummer...we can all be something else!
GIRL: You’re an ASSHOLE! You know what? I’m going home by myself tonight...I can't believe I wanted to go home with you!!!
ME: (very sarcastically as she walks towards the door) SEE YOU AT THE OFFICE!!!
GIRL:  (as she reaches the door) FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!!!

My ability to play drums has only ever been rivaled by my ability to piss off members of the opposite sex. I certainly worked my magic on this one! I was surprised that she didn't pour her drink on me. Needless to say that I never saw that girl again. Though, if I had, I would have apologized for being such a horse's ass. I still don’t know why I felt the need to be antagonistic about the whole stripper thing, but I do know that it was one of the most hilarious conversations I have ever had with someone. It may not have been amusing to her, but it all seemed so absurd and funny to me at the time. In fact, to this day it still is very absurd and funny to me. Even thinking back on it now, I'm not sure exactly when the conversation took a turn for the worse...perhaps when I sat down and said "hello".

I suppose the moral of the story is this: Own it! Whatever you choose to do in life, own it! Don't be shy about it, don't try to hide it, or rename it to better suit society's labels. Do what you do, do it the best you can, and be proud of what you do...even if it's being something that others might frown upon. Just be sure to be honest about what you do, with others, and most especially, be honest with yourself. Your grandmother may or may not be proud of what you do, but at least you'll be able to sleep well at night knowing that you can be your true self regardless of what others might think.
Apparently someone read one of my blog posts and had some problems with what I had written. Don't bother searching for it...I took it down. For no other reason than I probably was not voicing my opinions very well in the post.

To my antagonistic reader (whom apparently had used the modern marvels of social media to try to bring attention to their apparent discord...which might have worked if I actually checked such things regularly),


Now, I must say that I am not apologizing for what I wrote. I'm not apologizing for how I felt at that time, or for feeling so strongly that I was compelled to blog about it. I'm not apologizing for your being offended by what you read. I'm not apologizing for my using some harsh language in that particular post.

What I am apologizing for is this...
I'm so sorry that your sense of discord and contention with my opinion has apparently clouded your ability to recognize that I too, have First Amendment Rights that entitle me to have any opinion I choose, even if it is one of dissent from that of the popular views of others.
True, my language and verbiage may have been a bit inflammatory, however it was a post about politics and my opinions over the state of affairs at the time. Did you catch that one? My opinions... I don't expect you or anyone else to ever agree with my opinions. I actually don't expect anyone to even read my blog for that matter.

That said, I respect the fact that you disagree. I respect the fact that you were offended by some of the wording I used. I respect the fact that you chose to voice your discord in the fashion that you did (however, there is a place to lodge your complaint directly on my blog...the comment box). I encourage you to start your own blog...you can write about your opinions, your feelings, your experiences. Hell, you can even write about me if you like.

What I do expect of anyone who might stumble upon my blog posts is this...I expect for the reader(s) to understand that it's my blog and I get to write about whatever I want, express my opinions (for better or for worse, right or wrong), and I get to use whatever vernacular I choose. It is my blog after all.