Friday, April 28, 2017

I Got The Gig, Man

Yeah, baby I got the gig. Me and the band are playing The Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, June 10 at 8:00 p.m. Buy your tickets now because they will sell out fast.

Wait a minute - that is not what I meant to say at all. I get so confused sometimes between my fantasy life and my "real" life. Actually I don't even know what my real life is. Is my real life the one I am living or the one I am not living but wish I was? Shit, kids it is getting deep in here.

In two weeks or shortly thereafter I will be a part time box office dude at the Capitol Center for The Performing Arts.

Sounds pretty cool, don't you think? Maybe not the box office part but at least the association with a giant creative force in the wintry state of New Hampshire.

So here I go again. Another change of direction in my life; another perspective, another opportunity.

This one feels different.

I grabbed the thrift store gig because it came along. Simple as that. As I might grab a $100 bill blowing past me on a summer breeze. It was just that reflexive.

I was riding the high of semi-retirement and feeling pretty positive. Didn't matter what the hell I did for employment.

Turned out to be a major disaster because it ended up being more of the same. One more fucking job I grew to hate. Reduced to being a retail whore once again subject to the whims of people who argue over a 50 cent difference in price on a fucking skirt. Humping large pieces of furniture into and out of the building like an underpaid mule.

I have been insane over the last couple of months because I was entirely burned out and feeling trapped. Ain't nobody hiring a 63 year old, tired, fat man. Why would they? Shit, I wouldn't - I would just shoot me and put me out of my misery if I applied for a job from me.

And now this. It feels different to me, and hopefully not just because I want it to feel different. As I have said before I do not trust myself in matters of employment. I have spent a lifetime lying to myself and everybody around me about the "wonderful" new opportunity I was about to enjoy. Lies that devolved into black and bitter hatred of the new opportunity.

And of course I am romanticizing this new job a bit. No apologies there - I am a romantic. I am a dreamer.

Pragmatically I realize the job is not glamorous. For all I know they are going to chain me to a chair in an airless, windowless room and force me to hand write concert tickets, beating me with guitar strings if my pace is slow.

I will still be dealing with the public and there will still be assholes. There are always assholes. Still, I see the job as different than a typical retail job. I am not stuffing things into bags, I am not standing at a cash register, and there will be other responsibilities besides ticket sales (hopefully not bathroom cleaning).

I have to believe the people I deal with for the most part will be enthusiastic and in good moods; after all they are going out to a show. I also believe that relative to shows that are in my wheelhouse I will be engaged in enjoyable and passionate conversations with the customers.

Christ, I hope I work the George Thorogood show.

And maybe, just maybe I will get to meet some of the performers. I am also assuming/hoping that my fellow employees are people who share enthusiasm for the performing arts. So conversation should be interesting.

And of course there is the exceptional benefit of being able to take in shows after the box office duties are met.

So here I go. Feels like another chance. I blew the whole retirement thing first time around. Did not accomplish much, if anything; ended up with yet another dead end job that strangled my soul right up to the brink of extinction.

The time of year is right. Hope and enthusiasm are high, the weather is getting warmer and I feel like I am coming into myself.

I feel good.

I have said things like this many times in my life; many, many times. And been proved wrong.

I need this one; I want this one.

My soul must be revived if I am ever to realize my own truth.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Keep Coming Back 'Round To The Stones

Watched "Rolling Stones Havana Moon" last night.

Fucking blew me away. Man, I had the sound on the TV dialed up to epic levels as I surrendered myself to the majesty of the moment. The Stones in concert are an amazing thing to see; always have been, always will be.

On March 25, 2016 The Rolling Stones became the first rock band to play a massive free outdoor concert in Havana. Their music was banned in Cuba in years past; the people of Cuba have been historically denied access to music and art and all the things that make a life beautiful.

These people were going absolutely nuts. So many of them knew every word to every song. They were dancing and moving and shaking and smiling and laughing and shaking their heads in wonder.

Many that were interviewed said they never thought they would experience something like this, and you could just feel the sense of abandon and gratitude and joy.

I love the way The Stones respond to moments like this. There is joy in their eyes; they laugh and smile as they play, as they look around the audience; there is an intense focus to their performance because they take their music seriously.

There is a sense of awe there too; they understand what music means to people, especially in a setting like this.

I was a Beatles fan first and foremost. Loved The Stones, absolutely loved them but The Beatles were gods, descended from musical heaven to bring magic and wonder into my life.

Which they did.

Never saw them live, which is a heinous crime. I have seen The Stones twice; in 1989 on the" Steel Wheels" tour; in 1994 on the "Voodoo Lounge" tour. Both times in a massive football stadium where I was 40 miles away and had to watch them on the screen because they were only 2 inches tall on the stage.

And still, they were amazing experiences. Mind blowing.

I was overwhelmed last night because I have never seen such a perfect melding of band and audience before. They were truly one.

It is my humble belief that rock 'n roll and the blues are the two genres of music that cut right into your soul; they follow a direct path to your emotions and your essence because they are honest; they are raw, they are powerful in a deceivingly simple way.

This is what made this concert so special. The Cuban people got caught up in the music of The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones got caught up in the passion of the Cuban people, the barriers were down and the magic of being a human being, lost in a glorious moment away from worries and hardships, was on full display.

Many people had tears in their eyes. No doubt from the disbelief that the concert was even happening; no doubt from the sheer release of being allowed to feel; to be alive - unrestrained, expressing emotion in its purest form.

No doubt from their love of the music of The Rolling Stones.

I caught myself smiling over and over again and it occurred to me that I must have looked like a child watching a candle flicker for the first time.

But I kept smiling anyway. Couldn't help it.

There is an invisible thread there for me as well; the connection between The Stones and my youth.

Rock 'n roll was huge for me; music became a passion for me because of it. The connection is becoming more and more tenuous as many of the people who have inspired me over a lifetime are dying.

The break up of The Allman Brothers Band in 2014 and the suicide of Butch Trucks this year were crushing blows to me.

Keith Richards is 73, Mick Jagger is 73, Charlie Watts is 75, Ronnie Wood is 69. And they still bring it.

They are still out there rocking their asses off and doing it in style. I take comfort in knowing that Keith will know exactly when to call the whole thing off. He is the keeper of the flame; he demands the best from his band mates and he takes the responsibility seriously.

The Rolling Stones will never degenerate into a caricature of themselves. Keith will not allow that. And anybody who feels they don't rock like they used to can kiss my ass.

Great story: They were in concert somewhere and Ronnie drifted off and blew a solo or fucked up in some way because he was not all the way in. Keith walked across the stage and punched him in the face.

I don't consciously think about it when I watch and listen to them, but I am aware on an intuitive level that my soul exults in the fact that The Rolling Stones are keeping alive a precious link to my development as a human being.

Anyway, I got sidetracked as I often do when talking about music. Music is everything to me.

Check this concert out. This one is special. It captures the true spirit of musical connection. It lays bare the very reason human beings created and worship music.

It is a purely joyful moment.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

THE BIG INTERVIEW

Prostituted myself out again yesterday.

In a good way.

It went well.

Interviews typically are artificial scenarios that demean the job seeker. I have always despised interviews because they establish a pecking order where I am forced to grovel and prove myself to people who are in an artificially elevated position.

I have NEVER felt that anybody interviewing me was better or more important than me. I have NEVER felt that any boss I have had was truly my boss. So I always have an attitude about employment.

In addition, corporate interviews in large companies are the worst of the worst. Unbelievably pretentious. They really swing the superiority mallet freely, often forcing you to interview from your knees with your hands tied behind your back and the Sword of Damocles dangling over your head.

I have participated in many corporate interviews by virtue of the fact that I had no career plan, no identifiable path or commitment to guide my every move. So I bounced from job to job like a hobo hopping freight trains. Along the way I developed an insightful understanding of how the interview process works and it is indeed a joke.

I had so many interviews that I developed a fictional persona - "Interview Joe". I got really good at it. I knew exactly what to expect, I knew exactly how to perform.

Only one boss in my life called me out on it and it is a great story, one I have told in here many times and am about to repeat, so tough shit if you have heard it before.

I was never really an accountant, I only played one on TV. I sucked at it. Only went through the motions, never really contributed anything to the corporate environment. I don't even know how I survived twenty plus years of doing it (maybe it was the whiskey).

I even managed other people a couple of times as an accountant which is fucking hilarious. I had no business.

Anyway, I interviewed for a managerial position at Chubb Life in Concord, NH; talked to HR, the guy who would be my boss, talked to his boss. Bullshit all three of them and got the job.

Months into my tenure, in my boss's office one day when he was not happy with something I had done, he said "You know, you are a much better interviewer than you are an accountant".

That was the high point of my accounting career. I really admire the guy for having the balls to say that to my face. And he was dead on correct. It was hilarious.

Fast forward to old age, which is where I am now. I have interviewed twice since I semi-retired - once for the job I now hold and again yesterday.

Whole different ballgame. I don't break out "Interview Joe" anymore. I don't feel the need. As a result I am entirely myself in these interviews, which is an astonishing development.

Ironic thing is, when I filled out the app for the thrift store job while sitting in the thrift store, I knew it was the wrong thing to do. Got a negative vibe right off the bat. Negative vibe from the store, negative vibe from the woman I would eventually spend most of my time working with. But I felt I should grab the first thing that came along and here I am.

The last few months have been torture for me because I have come to despise the goddamn job. And I have been applying for other jobs - lots of them - with no results.

Yesterday was glorious. It was The Capitol Center for The Arts, baby - what could be wrong about that?

Immediate positive vibe. Fucking uplifting vibe, to be truthful.

I was awed to just be in the joint, taken upstairs to an unbelievably funky room where I was interviewed by the guy who would be my boss and a guy I presume to be his boss.

We sat around the table like three guys shooting the shit around the kitchen table. It was that comfortable.

Truthfully I have never had a more easy going interview in my life.

It felt right. Now I am waiting to hear.

Bonus fact: On nights when I would be working the box office, the box office closes 1/2 an hour after the show starts. At that point I would be free to wander into the theatre to enjoy the show.

Can you imagine the performances I would get to dig? Can you imagine my joy at being a part of that, to be so close to creativity in every imaginable form?

Jesus Christ, I might never go home.

Ironic connection: Chubb LIfe was a major contributor to the resurrection of the Capitol Theatre; the main performance room is named The Chubb Theatre.

This was meant to be, no?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Digging A Little Deeper

I mentioned that I have a job interview on Monday.

Just threw it out there, didn't get into any details.

I was coy. It was a tease. Why do I do that? I don't know.

Actually I was trying to make the contrast between feeling depressed and having hope. Or trying to figure out how I could be depressed when I should be buoyant with hope.

Here are the details. I am interviewing for a part time job as a box office dude at the Capitol Center. It pays a couple of bucks more an hour than I am making now. And I won't have to move any fucking furniture.

I can't believe how much furniture I have to move at the thrift shop. The store sells a lot of it. And 99% of the fucking time the customer shows up to pick up the furniture ALONE. No fucking help. No fucking friends. Often driving a fucking smart car that they expect to squeeze a full size dresser into.

And they ask in a whiny little voice "Can anybody help me?"

And 99% of the time I am the only man in the store. Sometimes the only human in the store.

Cannot tell you how many couches and dressers and tables I have stood up on a two wheeler and wrestled out of the store while the fucking customer stood by and watched.

I am too fucking old for that.

I am excited about the Capitol Center opportunity and I am not.

Excited because, although it is essentially still retail, I gotta believe selling tickets is a lot different than stuffing women's clothes into plastic bags. And then pulling them all out again to satisfy the customer that I only charged her $1 for that "cute little skirt".

Excited because I will be sitting down a lot. Being on my feet and carrying heavy things is killing me. Excited because selling tickets will occupy only part of my time. So I will be doing other things.

Excited because - and this is the kicker - I will be working in a creative environment. Surrounded by performers, artists, musicians. Hopefully getting a chance to meet them. This type of environment is perfectly in line with who I am; in sync with my soul.

My dream is that Buddy Guy will walk in before his performance and say "Hi, box office dude - can you sing?" After I prove it he says "Quit your job right now. You are going out on tour with me".

Not so excited because the job requires working on weekends, nights and holidays. This is a radical shift in thinking for me. My goal upon semi-retirement was to work no weekends, no nights, no holidays.

But what the fuck - is it not a good thing to shake things up? To make a radical change in thinking, in schedule, in routine?

I have no fucking clue. None.

My goal was also to work a nothing job. No responsibility. No pressure. No decision making.

That job does not exist. Although I am a low paid grunt at the thrift shop I essentially manage the store in the afternoon. And close. And prepare the bank deposit.

So I am telling myself that working in a creative environment will make up for the weekends, holidays and nights.

However, I told myself that working for a charitable organization like FIT would make up for the fact that I am still a retail whore.

It did not. I hate the fucking job.

And therein lies the dilemma. I have no track record of making good decisions when it comes to employment. So I don't trust myself.

The only job I could ever have that I know would make me happy would be earning a living as a full time writer.

Since I now give myself a 1 millionth of a per cent chance of ever earning decent money with the written word, I have to settle for taking chances.

Hence, box office dude at the Capitol Center.

I'll see how it goes. If I get the job, I pray that working in that very cool place in that very cool environment will make up for any sacrifices I have to make.

If not, my next job opportunity dream is digging graves.

I get along well with the dead.

Friday, April 21, 2017

This Is Life

Wow man, you never know where the inspiration is going to come from.

It blind sides you and that is what makes it beautiful.

I wanted to write this morning. It is a dark, dreary, rainy day. I am not going to exercise. Because I just don't fucking feel like putting in the effort.

I prefer not to waste these opportunities - if I don't exercise then I have loads of time available before I go to work. I do not want to sit here and piss it all away with despondency.

I do feel a little down. Which is strange. But I guess I am just a human being.

It's strange because I have a job opportunity. Interview on Monday. A little more cash, but more importantly the job would catapult me into an entirely different world, one I believe I could love.

Only problem is I always doubt myself, more so as I get older. My track record for making job related decisions is abysmal. I can't seem to find the right situation.

Then again, does anybody?

I needed to write today but did not know what I was going to write about.

Then I went to Joe Cicirelli's blog. salmagundi-joe.blogspot.com.

Joe is a friend of mine. Friend is a nebulous word, ill defined and even less understood. I have only known Joe for a few years.

I carry around with me a strong memory of support from Joe. My brother-in-law Sarge died on December 16, 2014 from lung cancer. He was fifty nine years old. My nephew Jonathan died on December 17, 2014 from a heroin overdose. He was twenty seven years old.

Those two events exploded Carol and I into a five day marathon of wakes and funerals ranging from Massachusetts to Maine, from which we arrived home after it all exhausted, emotionally destroyed and bitterly confused.

On my first day back to work, feeling shattered and shaky, Joe and my friend Rich Gulla showed up at the liquor store where I worked. We stepped aside to talk. It was difficult for me. The tears flowed.

Both of my friends were there for me, I could feel their empathy. Joe's son was and still is struggling with heroin addiction. There was a deep connection between the two of us.

The thread was there but we didn't push hard enough, we didn't "hang around" together.

We got together for lunch two days ago. Talked a lot. Effortlessly, comfortably. Joe told me about his blog, which he has been writing longer than I have mine.

Checked it out this morning. It is beautiful. Intelligent, well written, insightful, unpredictable.

I read through post after post and just shook my head with respect - this is a side of Joe I was not familiar with.

Then I got to the Warren Haynes video. Warren performing "Soulshine" in front of a large outdoor audience accompanied by his acoustic guitar and a harmonica.

"Soulshine" is an Allman Brothers song, one of my favorites. Don't ever ask me which Allman Brothers song is THE favorite - I could not make that choice. That would be like asking me what is more important to me - my heart, my mind or my soul.

I sat there this morning, listening to Warren sing, with tears running down my cheeks.

Crying because I love The Allman Brothers Band so much, crying because the song is so beautiful and meaningful to me. How cool that this moment came about through my friendship with Joe.

This friendship thing man, it can lie dormant. It comes at you from unexpected angles sometimes.

But it is truly a gift. Another human being who is not related to you, who has no obligation to love or respect you, but with whom you connect anyway.

This is life, baby - this is real life.

By the way I researched salmagundi. It is a salad plate of chopped meats, anchovies, eggs and vegetables arranged in rows for contrast and dressed with a salad dressing.

It also means a heterogeneous mixture.

I believe the second definition is what Joe is getting at but I do not presume to know.

If he confesses I'll pass it on.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thinking About Thinking

I am thinking about thinking.

Thinking is not something I do a lot of. I am an emotional guy; emotions come at me in waves all the time. Doesn't matter if it is giddy happiness or dark depression and everything in between - emotions play a large part in who I am.

Emotions are anathema to thinking. You cannot think straight when you are feeling deeply.

Another roadblock to thinking for me is that deep down I believe life is a cruel joke. If you are not doing exactly what you were born to do, than your life is a joke. You bounce around like a beach ball in a strong wind, trying this, taking a shot at that, but there is no conviction because your soul gently whispers in your ear "What the fuck are you doing? This is not who you are".

My life is ironic to me because the way I live it is in total contrast to who I am and what I believe. So I watch it from the outside like a disinterested observer with a wry smile on my face.

The problem is that life just keeps coming at you. You have to work, gotta have money, gotta play the game to work and get money and it is all so relentless.

So a wry smile does not get you through.

Anyway..............the reason I am thinking about thinking is because of my cat Maka. Maka lives to be on our screened in porch, much like Carol and myself. She hungers for it. Every morning at some point she wanders over to the French doors, sits down and looks back over her shoulder at me.

Impossible to ignore.

Problem is, at this time of year the temperature can be 78 degrees on Monday and 41 degrees on Tuesday. And she is not going out on the porch when it is 41 degrees. She is not stupid.

Even though I am pretty sure I know on which days she will decide to go out and which she will decide to stay in, I still open the door for her. This is because I don't want her to think I am the mean old son of a bitch who refuses to let her out. This way, if she decides to stay in, it is her decision. Not mine.

On those days when it is too cold, when I open the door, she will sit down inside and have a look around. Sniffing, looking, feeling.

It fascinates me. Because she is thinking. Do I want to go out or do I want to crawl back in to the unbelievably warm and cushy bed that Carol and Joe so generously provide for me. She is taking in facts, weighing alternatives and arriving at a decision.

All through a purity of thought a human being could never achieve.

When I do manage to think, my thoughts are polluted with fear or self doubt, or sidetracked by other issues, or are unrealistic because of a powerful wave of uncharacteristic self confidence and belief in a wonderful future.

Maka does not deal with any of this. She is not thinking "Joe is such a fucking asshole". She is not thinking "I wonder what time Joe will get home tonight and what kind of mood he will be in". She is not thinking "I wish I had more money and people respected me more".

She is just thinking. Figuring out what she wants, how she feels, what the screened in porch has to offer her today, and then making a decision.

A great deal of time, money and effort is expended on studying the human brain. Trying to figure out what makes us tick. What a colossal waste.

Humans are fucked up. It is as simple as that.

If science wants to understand the true beauty of a brain it should focus on how an animal thinks. Because animal brains function independently from petty bullshit. Animals are instinctual and they do not watch reality TV.

I am trying to learn from both of my cats. Maka, who is somewhere around 11 or 12 years old, because I like the way her mind works. Lakota, who is 17 years old, because I like the way she handles aging.

But learning involves thinking. And thinking is challenging for me.

Maybe I should crawl around on all fours to get a different perspective. Radically shaking up my daily existence might blow holes through the fog in my mind. (Reminds me of when Jack Nicholson went through a nudist phase. He did it just to get a different perspective; a different feel. He refused to put clothes on in his own home no matter who showed up. Even his kids. Frightening image there.)

Instead of thinking about thinking, maybe I should just think.

Might give it a try.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Oh, Yeah - You Better Look Out

This time of year is good for one thing - contrast.

Extremes. That's two things.

Everybody in the know, knows there are only two seasons in New England. Winter and summer.

Summer begins on July 1 and ends on August 31. Winter begins on September 1 and ends on June 30.

So it is still winter.

BUT, when you get a 70 degree day in early April, man that is exquisite. You come alive, your heart jumps for joy, you run around in circles repeating "I'm happy to be alive, I'm happy to be alive!." You dive out of second story windows and tuck and roll across your lawn (unless it is still covered with snow), you pour yourself a stiff shot of something expensive and delicious and toast to warmth and freedom.

Yeah, the weather jumps right back to cold again but that is the fun of it. You have had a taste and you know there will be more. More random days when the weather will reward you in a way you deserve. So until then you put your head down, again, button up and say "Fuck this" until, suddenly, it is 70 degrees again.

In the middle of winter. It's a gas, man.

Yeah, man I am softening up - I like this time of year. Not enough consistent warmth but there is hope - there is a taste and there are smiles. Jesus Christ that first warm day, that first warm burst brings about resurrection. Suddenly you realize that your life is about to change - you will be able to dress lighter, no fucking snow shovel, you can live on your screened-in porch or in the sun (if you are bold).

You feel lighter. Dark and cold are bad things. Sun and warmth are life.

You feel the excitement of possibility. Right? Maybe you can lose some weight, maybe you will find a better paying job, maybe your ship will come in.

Maybe you will find a way to tip the scale of your life more towards fun and less towards drudgery.

Wouldn't that be a fucking blast?

It's coming. It is coming, baby.

Got the French doors open right now. Sitting here in a t-shirt. What could be bad about that on April 15, 2017?

That's all. I am feeling exuberant. And this is the 3rd day this month I have felt that way.

That is a pretty good start, baby.