Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Remember when I used to write songs?

As our wedding is now 199 days away, Meghan and I have been having a lot of discussion about where our future will be. There are a lot of factors that will drive the decision, many of which I won't be writing here. But among them is the reason I left Georgia in the first place in the mid-summer of 2005.

As we were talking about this yesterday, I was remembering my time in Nashville. As usual, I remember the good and forget most of the bad. The thing I miss the most is the feeling that I was making progress toward my goal of getting a cut.

When I really sit and look at how I was spending my time, however, I know that I wasn't always making progress. There were some lazy days, some brutal hangovers, some wasted days spent in the fetal position on the couch watching "West Wing" and trying to feel comfortable enough to go outside the apartment, and some wasted nights spent as a spectator at a club rather than as a participant. I am rather convinced that I gave myself so much credit for moving to Nashville that I really didn't take advantage of the time I had there.

As my back continues to recover, I am getting the itch once again to get back into whatever is left of the songwriting community. I would think that the possibility of our moving to Nashville is probably pretty slim at this point, and I'm not sure that there isn't something positive in that. It's quite possible that I can get more done in three to five urgent days per month than what I could do in thirty complacent ones.

It is one thing to write about this, and another to do something about it. So, for the eighty-something-th time, I jumped back on the horse again today and did. Here's to sappy love songs, bitching about bridges and lifts, lost capos, and dusty guitars.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

On Wrapping Gifts

When I was a child, wrapping Christmas gifts was a joy that was easily lost on me. My mother was an exceptional craftswoman, and took great pride in the presentation of every gift she gave. While she tried to pass her care and technique along, my brother and I were typical boys. We wanted to do right by the recipient of every gift we wrapped, but our products were most often notable for the faithfulness of our attempts rather than for the beauty of our results.

As I aged and life became busier, I had no one to watch over my gift-giving habits. The way I presented a Christmas present said much about me and about the recipient, though perhaps not in the way you might think.

After returning from the bowl trip to Hawaii in 2000, I returned to Athens on Christmas Day to a pile of unwrapped goods. I called my mom and told her that my return home would be delayed by my last-minute preparations. She told me not to worry about wrapping everything and to come on home. Giving naked presents was an apt metaphor for that time. I was consumed with my job. My relationships were secondary. I was busier than I had been at any point in my life.

By the way, once arriving at home and exchanging presents, I fell asleep and stayed that way all afternoon.

A few years later, I found myself with friends whose gifts received different treatments based on what I knew about them. My oldest and dearest friends likely received something that wasn't wrapped. They knew my life was out of control, and that simply buying something was more difficult than I would let on. My newest friends (some of whom may or may not have been women I was trying to woo) received gifts that got the royal treatment. I was trying to prove something - trying to win an affection that I would learn years later couldn't be bought.

Since I went to work for myself and life has calmed a bit, I notice that the care I lend to a gift is much more like that which my mother tried to pass along. Some of this is simple maturity and respect. Some of this is the product of a much simpler life.

More importantly, my new caution comes from learning that the presentation says as much about a giver's sentiment as does the item itself. The symmetrical placement of the box, the deliberate measurements needed for the ends of the item, the steady cutting, the wise and efficient use of tape, and the pressing of the corners into a Marine-like crispness have become less inconvenient chores of adulthood and more valuable opportunities to send a message.

I could try to speak or write my thoughts for you, but no overt expression will ever be enough to let you know how I feel. All I can do is carefully consider and slowly execute each cut, each measurement, and each fold... and hope you realize that I am trying to give you something perfect.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rut

I was just reminiscing last night about the times surrounding the beginning of my blog. They are far more complicated than I wish to rehash. But it was a particularly fun time since everyone seemed to have something to say much of the time. In fact, I recall a bit of shame in not writing something on a given day.

Naturally, things change. Today there are far more internet outlets available to all of us, and our blogs certainly seem to be an afterthought compared to what they once were. Though I'm not particularly proud of my two-plus-week hiatus, it does not in fact make me much less prolific than most of my blogging friends. Perhaps that will change, or perhaps blogging will gradually fade more fully from our collective consciousness.

Remembering the earlier days of my blog reminds me of when I wrote in an overtly emotional fashion. So, for old times sake...

I am nearly three weeks removed from my surgery and things are basically fine. I have a limited amount of pain on occasion, but it is expected and pretty rare. I still won't be allowed to bend or twist or to lift anything heavier than about eight pounds for several months. Otherwise, I feel as physically well as I have since the early spring.

However, physical aspects of my injury, treatment, and rehabilitation have affected other elements of my life in negative ways. It has been necessary to be waited on for much of the last half-year, as I have been unable to retrieve many things near the floor, sit or stand for long periods of time, or move quickly enough to justify someone else's watching my labored attempts to fend for myself. Because I have been unable to drive, someone (usually Meghan) has had to alter their schedule to fit mine and cart me from one place to the next.

Perhaps most unfortunate, though, is the emotional state in which I have found myself from time to time. I'm not sure if it is the constant yo-yo of chemicals in my body from changing medications, the changes in metabolism that result from my body's stillness followed by its self-healing, the bursts of attention contrasted with lengths of isolation, or just the now-fading helplessness. But it has been - and at times, it continues to be - a little rougher on my psyche that I would readily admit.

Fortunately the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is in view, and things should begin to return to normalcy in the near future. It will be nice to worry about the normal uncontrollable things - the getting older, the drinking too much, the dearth of money, the balding, and the Dawgs - rather than this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brett's Back

You can take that however you want...

This is just a note to let anyone who wouldn't otherwise know that the surgery went exceptionally well. I was walking (sllllooooooowwwwwwwllllllyyyy) within six hours of the completion of the procedure. I left the hospital Friday morning for my parents' house. I left my parents' house this morning for Marietta, a day of football (ahem, viewing.... not playing) with my friends, and time with Meghan. And after being a bit ambitious today with my activity, I anticipate quite a bit of rest over the next couple of days.

I find myself being particularly grateful for my health in general, having people around me who help me deal with my temporary difficulties, and having access to medical care that would not have been possible a mere generation ago. More soon from the recovery area.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In case I manage not to post again before Thursday, I figured I should go ahead and throw something up here. My preparations for surgery are slowly ramping up. I now have a grabber, since I won't able to bend at the waist for quite some time. I have an appointment with my neurosurgeon Tuesday morning for the blood work and other pre-operative exams. Meghan and I took two trips on Sunday to buy sleep pants and other items that might come in handy as I convalesce. I believe I have all of my second-guessing and sudden unexplainable moments of total recovery out of the way. I'm ready to go.

During many of the recent sleepless nights I have had, I have silently debated whether or not to share my politics in more detail than I have lately. I am generally hesitant to do so for several reasons:

1) Many people take their politics personally, and understandably so. Statements of political opinion often include the implication that the beliefs of one who thinks differently are rooted in selfishness, naivete, ignorance, or downright stupidity. I'm not interested in calling anyone stupid, and I don't really want friends who didn't know they disagreed with me to suddenly think any of those things about me. This is why I'm not in politics.

2) I don't know that my expression will be productive. In fact, I'm not so sure why I feel like writing more about my politics. Perhaps it is that I think I have my opinions for different reasons than others who share my political point of view. At any rate, I don't know that it will do anyone any good for me to share mine.

3) An ensuing argument won't be productive either. There are "facts" to support nearly any position one chooses to take. Plus, many of my opinions are based on personal experience. My anecdotal evidence won't mean anything to you or anyone else. Worse, anecdotal evidence has long been the beginning of many shallow, dangerous lines of thought. All I can do is tell you what I think and why I think it.

So, I don't know. My poor blog has been so neglected (and chances are, so has yours!). I will probably be doing my fair share of sitting and lying over the next few weeks. So maybe I will do it. If I don't, you'll certainly know why.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

If you want to listen to me babble on the internet about the need for a Redcoat Band Practice Facility, you can click this.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My First Attempt At Mobile Blogging

With all of the travel I will supposedly be doing in the next year or so, one of the seemingly appealing things about the iPhone is the ability to blog from virtually anywhere regardless of the availability of WiFi. This is my first attempt at blogging on the move, using an application called LifeCast. And truth be told, calling tonight's offering "mobile blogging" is a little like referring to reading in the john at work as a "sabbatical."

On this particular ocassion, I am blogging from my bed with the lights off and an electric heater on the floor. I have found myself awake many nights recently, sometimes because of particularly troublesome pain in my leg, sometimes because of difficulty in muting the pessimistic voices in my head shouting about the impending surgery, and sometimes because I have recently begun to fail in my efforts not to drink caffeine after 5pm.

At any rate, I will use the ocassion of my first mobile blogging test to share the outstanding news that my surgery has been scheduled and the less outstanding news that it has been scheduled for November 13. I had certainly hoped to have this done sooner, as had the nerve roots in my back. They have taken the opportunity to let me know of their displeasure since receiving the news by sending some of the most interesting signals to date. Nevertheless, I am on the books and looking forward to moving on in relatively short order. And I am quite okay with that.

If you see this on the internet, perhaps you will see fit to congratulate me on being a mobile blogger with what I am sure will be witty commentary. If not, I will hope this isn't an incidental email to a random person in my eclectic address book.

Posted with LifeCast

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lunch with Gina is forever, but Lunch with Russell on his comp days is almost as good.

• We seem to have successfully survived our first family wedding meltdown so far. I am sure that it will come back to bite us in the butt a bit, but Meghan handled a difficult and potentially painful situation very well.

"We will plan this wedding, and we will have a good time doing it, damnit! You will enjoy yourself or I will make you enjoy yourself, so help me."

• Meghan now refers to my iPhone without using an article as though it is a family member, which it kinda is. Example: "Well, if you're not sure were you are, you could ask iPhone."

• While Meghan was in rehearsal in Athens yesterday for this piece, I went and hung out on North Campus. I took the following photo on iPhone and now use it as my wallpaper. I am no Ansel Adams. Hell, I'm no Anson Williams. But for me, it's pretty good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Down

After waiting to see the results of the injections I have been receiving over the last month, I finally decided to call my neurosurgeon and make an appointment. As I expected, I learned when calling that this appointment will basically be a consultation before surgery.

If you know me well at all, you know that I have a pretty great knack for focusing on the negative in a situation under certain circumstances. That seems to have taken hold lately as it has become clear that surgery is going to be necessary to fix my little back issue. Because I haven't really been able to move physically in the last several months, my body is not really aiding in my attempts to stay positive. Thus, rather than being excited about the wedding, the Dawgs, and the holidays, my mind wanders to darker places: to the risk of infection or nerve damage, to the concern that this won't work, or to the tired discussion of the brevity of life.

I know my melancholy can't have been easy on Meghan at all, but she has handled it very well. My friends aren't as exposed to it, but I think they caught a glimpse of it today. While watching the game I realized that I was alone in yelling angrily at the TV after a celebration when I probably should have been slapping hands and enjoying the long reception that immediately preceded it. I'm not "myself" and I know it.

It is now silly to say that I'm ready for this to be over. Besides its having been said dozens of times, the dominance of my temporary disability in my life is so overwhelming that anyone who knows me knows I'm ready for this to be over. I know Meghan is too, as she has suffered just as much as I have in innumerable ways. And my friends who have given up the front seat, or loaded a wheelchair for gameday, or walked very slowly anywhere we went, or made a bed on the floor when I was headed their way - they have been remarkably generous, but they're surely ready to get this over with as well.

Now it looks like I'm near the point where that is going to be the case. I am trying very hard to realize that and be positive about the future. But my body isn't necessarily helping me do that. So thanks for being patient with me.

And don't get me too drunk when we celebrate this little chapter's end.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last February, I wrote and many of you contributed to an entry about "Improved Covers," which was a list of songs whose cover versions were more famous or beloved (not necessarily "better," whatever that is) than their original version. I am adding to this list yet another tune that I didn't realize, until this morning, was a cover:

"Every Time You Go Away" originally recorded by Daryl Hall and John Oates, covered by Paul Young.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The damage

The longer the issues with my back persist, the more it becomes evident that the real damage that this injury is inflicting is in two areas, neither of which is physical.

Because we have to wait and give conservative treatments an opportunity to take effect, I have no idea what my physical limitations are going to be on any given day in the next four months. I am currently scheduled to work for the travel company in mid-December. But I can't yet purchase my airline ticket, because I don't know if I'll be cleared to fly by that point, or even if it will be necessary for someone to clear me to fly. I want to plan a get-together for our wedding party, but I don't know what weekend might accommodate us because I don't know if or when I'll be going under the knife.

Secondly, my symptoms change frequently. Within a given day, I may have spasms so severe that I can't walk, tingling all the way down the leg, minor pain or numbness, or no pain at all. While I certainly would prefer for this entire problem to go away permanently with a simple injection, I have learned from repetition that a moment or half-day of painlessness is probably a bluff. Though it may sound sick, I'm getting to the point where I would prefer consistent pain so I won't be fooled into thinking that this problem is being solved. Throughout the last two days I have been relatively pain-free, but I also occasionally feel the old pain creeping back in exactly as it did two weeks ago. It is getting old.

I'm ready to get this over with. I don't want a temporary solution. I don't want any more drugs. I want to fix this permanently so I can get on with my life, have a drink my fiancee and friends again, make plans for the future, and lose a few pounds before I get married. It doesn't seem like it should be too much to ask.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What'd you expect... a formal outline?

Bullets yet again.

• I had injection number two today. This time they did both shots on the right, above and below the spot where the did the right one last time. The doctor wasn't terribly optimistic, and pretty much said that if it didn't work then I needed to go back to the surgeon.

Up to this point, I have been hoping against hope that I wouldn't have to have surgery. And now, quite frankly, I want it. We've been fooling around for too long, and the stuff that does work quits working after two or three days. I ain't skeered.

• It's homecoming week. That didn't excite much when I worked there full-time, but since then I have loved it. Seeing all those old faces that can push time aside and hang like it was still nineteen-ninety-whatever has become one of my favorite events of the year. This year will be particularly cool because I get to rehearse the alumni band. I am really looking forward to the whole thing.

• Someone recently suggested naming recessions, just as we name hurricanes. I'm all for it.

• Speaking of the band: If you have a couple of hundred bucks and want to help out with the practice field, here's your chance. They're selling bricks for the complex, and they're pretty reasonable. The band only gets one full rehearsal each week, and that's on Friday - assuming of course there isn't a Homecoming Parade, a volleyball game, or a Derbies trip that interrupts it.

I know some folks have some hard feelings about components of the organization. I can understand how that would be justified, so I won't try to sway you. But if any of the others of you still remember fondly your days in the band and feel good about the band's direction, please consider this. And if you don't mind, please share this with someone you think could and would help.

• Very bad news from Meghan's parents house: Her dog Tibby died last night. She was fifteen-and-a-half, and brought Meghan and her family a great deal of happiness. Meghan was handling it very well, but in that context is devastated. I will probably write a few more thoughts about this later. But in brief, I have two feelings. On one hand I am hurting for her and her loss because she is hurting. On the other, I am jealous that she had the joy that a pet can bring a child, and later an adult. Tibby was a great, great dog whom I only knew for about a year. Her passing brought me to tears more than once yesterday. More about that later.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Richt non-critique, my back, and marriage

I have tried so many times to write the explanation of what I thought was Coach Richt's greatest weakness and strength. Each attempt has reminded me of how completely unqualified I am to speak openly about football. Fortunately, I have a fiancee who answers my misguided football musings with a reassuring "That's right, baby," enabling me to maintain my illusion of myself as Hunter-Gatherer/Auto Mechanic.

My point was going to be that our Coach is consistent if he is alive. Sometimes that consistency causes him to rave about the fur coat on a naked emperor (ie, directional kickoffs, defensive philosophy at times, the occasional assistant coach or tight end). But more frequently, it causes him to be the last man standing. I wouldn't trade him for anyone.

On the "back" front, Tuesday morning marks one week since my first nerve block injection. To see me on Sunday evening would have convinced you that nothing was ever wrong. Unfortunately, it has been downhill since then, and tonight I looked as though I hadn't been treated at all.

On the wedding front, we have a date and a venue. The date is June 27, 2009 at First Pres. in Athens. We are working somewhat feverishly to complete the basic arrangements and get our guest list finalized. The latter of these two has been a very, very difficult process because of the hundreds of people with whom I became close all those years in Athens. I hope not to offend anyone by not inviting them, but I know that is not going to be possible.

I am already very excited about getting married. Shortly after our engagement, an old acquaintance whom I see in Athens every now and then said, "You're going to love being married. It is so much fun." I am pretty sure that, when I was younger, I thought of getting married as some type of certification... maybe kinda like getting your PGA Tour Card or having a world record officially recognized by Guinness. I guess that I realized at some point, and maybe continue to recognize more strongly, is that it really isn't about that.

While I am sure it means something special to each person who is or isn't married, it seems to me that it's about loving someone very much and in a very specific way, so that some combination of the following is true:

- You want being alone with that person to be your default condition.
- You want to mix up all of your stuff (some gender-specific items of clothing excepted, in most cases) so that you forget what belongs to whom, because you no longer care.
- You frequently get more joy by sacrificing for that person's happiness or well-being than you do by strictly serving yourself.
- You know that the "us" created by the new combination makes you individually and collectively better than any other combination of which you could be part.
- The thought of not being with that person forever feels completely wrong, and perhaps makes you nauseated.

There are many more, but that is my tired 12:08AM first list. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject... preferably real ones, and maybe not parodies of the institution.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The injection happened. It hurt, and the back stuff has actually been quite a bit worse than it had been. This is apparently to be expected. I should know how it's working by the weekend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

• I have a few thoughts on something that led to the Late September Debacle that I will submit soon. My take has to do with what I think may be Coach Richt's greatest weakness. It happens to also be his greatest strength.

• Please go here and vote for the Redcoats. Besides the fact that (In my humble opinion) the band plays better than any of its competitors, that prize money would come in handy now more than ever.

• Injection is now scheduled for tomorrow. Cross your fingers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What happened?

In an attempt not to bore anyone, I'll do my best to make this as short/sweet as possible.

My neurosurgeon referred me to a doctor in Marietta for epidural steroid injections in the hope that we could fix my bulging disc. Quite a bit of difficulty in getting my first appointment scheduled should have been my first clue that something was amiss. When I finally did get through, I learned that I would have to wait much longer for the procedure with the actual doctor to whom I was referred, but that I could take one with another doctor at the same practice much earlier. I made the appointment for this afternoon, and was reminded to arrive 30 minutes early, to plan to be there two hours, and to have someone bring me since I would not be able to drive myself home.

My parents drove an hour from Cumming to drive me, and off we went. We arrived thirty minutes early, and went inside. I was immediately a bit turned off by the office staff who really didn't seem terribly personable. People can have bad weeks, so I didn't think much of it.

I was called to an exam room, again by someone who didn't seem pleased to be there. I waited about twenty minutes until a nurse came in, again somewhat unpleasant, and asked me a few questions. She pulled out a gown for me to wear and said that someone would be by shortly to take my urine sample, and that I should put on the gown immediately afterward. I waited another fifteen minutes or so, after which point the nurse returned and said that they would be skipping the urine sample and that I needed to go ahead and put the gown on.

Shortly thereafter, the doctor came in and examined me in much the same way I have been examined a number of times lately. He looked at my film and said, "Who sent you here again?" I told him that my neurosurgeon had done so to see if the injections would work in order to avoid surgery if at all possible. He said, "Well, you're gonna have surgery. There's no doubt about that. But we'll play the game."

I asked him to clarify his comment, and he said that there was virtually no chance that the injections would fix a bulge this bad. After more examination, he instructed me to schedule the injection for one of his associates, or with him if I couldn't get one of them. I was of course taken aback, as I thought I had already scheduled this. Instead, it turns out that appointment had been for an office visit, in spite of the instructions that I had received.

After thinking about it for a few hours, I think I am going to call my neurosurgeon's office in the morning and enlist their help in finding someone who can do this quickly. And more importantly, I want them to find someone who will do it with at least pretense of a belief that it may work, along with the added perks of general office organization and pleasant demeanor.

I am over this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I love it when they let Evil Richt out.






Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More whining from me about Munson

Sorry... I am not handling this at all like Russ or anyone else who is able first to appreciate the appropriateness of how Larry is departing. I get that, and yeah it's probably best that it happens how and when it does. But still... any time was too early, and I am not inclined to easily let go of a truly unique and singularly interesting tradition in which I illogically feel that I (and you) own a stake.

They get us a new dog when the old one leaves us, though each is a little different. They get us new quarterbacks, each with their own style but who still do the same basic thing. They re-sod the turf, tweak the uniform, and replace or add seating, but they still drain, fit, and sit the same as the old ones did.

But now we get something that is more like play-by-play and less like commiseration. We won't have Larry to gnash our teeth with. We won't have his voice to treble our joy in victory, or - as importantly - to share our disappointment in loss. There has never been a voice that better accompanies a therapeutic glass of Jack Daniel's and your favorite Coke product than Larry's.

Truth be told, I really like Scott Howard. I hope we keep him for a long time, because when I listen I do so because I want someone on my side, and he does a beautiful job of play-by-play with a really nice dose of homerism. I hope I'm around to piss and moan when he retires in forty years. And I really don't wish to have Larry do this any longer than he wishes to do so.

But I resist this change with every fiber of my being because Larry was more than accoutrement. He was essential. From my perspective, there can be no better tribute than to say this: Starting this Saturday, Georgia Football is a completely different thing than it was ten days ago.

In addressing the occasional novice complaint about Larry's non-technical technique, Mark Bradley once again says it beautifully, and sums my love for Larry Munson:

Suggesting Munson wasn’t the greatest technical play-by-play man is akin to saying Dali wasn’t very skilled at drawing a straight line. Technique wasn’t the point. Performance was, performance and passion. Munson didn’t so much recount the action as interpret it.


As I write this I am realizing that, for me, this is about a lot more than football. It's about the too rare character who sets the book aside, does things his own way, and rolls the dice with the personality he walked in with rather than walking gingerly with the one the world tried to assign to him. For being yourself and for leaving us better than you found us, I thank you Larry. God bless you, sir. Eat what you catch, and don't be a stranger.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Morning Sitting Down

Meghan's parents are enjoying a weekend in Asheville, so I find myself sitting in her den watching football, looking at the occasional wedding book, and now blogging. It has obviously been a very eventful few weeks. Let's work our way backward.

Last night, Meghan went to Athens for her SAI little sister's 21st. With my other normal gameday dates in Maine, I decided to go to Mom and Dad's in Cumming for the game. I hate the word "treasure" because, as I do many words, I think it is frequently used out of laziness. But I have learned to treasure the time I have with Mom and Dad. I have watched way too many people regret not simply spending time with people whose company is now inconvenient or totally unavailable. When the people I love are gone, I want to be sad that they're gone and not that I didn't enjoy them when they were here.

Wednesday through Friday, I worked, got wedding stuff started, and dealt with my back. At work, I just finished an arrangement that one of my client schools will perform at the NYC Veteran's Day Parade. I am also beginning my first concert commission for a middle school near Charleston, about which I can tell you more once everything is on paper. I'm still writing songs, and think I will put a couple of new songs online here in the next couple of weeks for you to hear. Wedding-wise, we have a date and venue in pencil, which we hope to announce early next week. Back-wise, I am now scheduled for an epidural steroid injection next week. I'm really hoping that takes care of this. I have a wedding for which I have to get in shape. This gut ain't losing itself.

Tuesday was also a big day. I will tell you one version of the story, and I will let you ask Meghan about the director's cut. I had been working toward this day since about February when I started saving for the ring, but it only began to really clear up when I asked for Russ's help in June. He agreed to do his best, and once I had the ring in hand he did so. Under the ruse of advancing a new program called "Dinner and a Show" (which would actually be a good idea, were it not completely made up), Russell invited Meghan and I to join Ellen and him for dinner at a nice midtown restaurant.

I picked Meghan up from school and headed to the Fox, where we were supposedly picking up Russell for the trial. When we arrived Russ met us at a side door, where he informed us that he still had a meeting to complete. He asked us to wait for him in the theater, which just happened to have a clear stage with all of the beautiful ceiling and house lights set to Proposal Level. Meghan and I walked on stage and looked around for a minute, before I asked her what color socks she would be giving me. Then, I tried to pull the ring out of my jacket pocket, though I know I first had to get my sunglasses and God-knows-what-else out of there first. I remember getting the ring out, making it down to one knee, and the words "Will you." Then everything gets foggy until Russell walked back in and asked, "Did anything happen while I was gone?" Afterward, we each called our folks and the internet exploded. What a night.

This week, will be more work, more planning, an epidural injection, and what I think could be our toughest game of the year until Tech.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.........

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So, for those of you just returning from the cave, Meghan and I got engaged tonight. Details to follow...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rest in peace, Sid.

I'm not sure I would have been drum major if it weren't for you. And that means that a lot of really cool things that have happened to me may not have happened were it not for you.

I hope everything is right in the pocket up there.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cockweek Update

My enthusiasm for blogging has evolved in such a way that I now usually post the two types of entries that I used to view as lazy: bullets and simple updates. I mention that, naturally, because this particular submission will be both of those things.

• As I woke up this morning, my back and leg were relatively comfortable in the bed. As I rose and began to move, a bit of pain returned, but nothing major. Gradually, of course, as the blood really began to flow the pain returned slightly worse than it was yesterday. And that, unfortunately, is pretty bad.

It seems like every morning I wake up expecting that day to be the day that the situation improves. And every morning I am disappointed. It finally hit me today that this is not getting better. In spite of my dreading the needles, the knives, or both, I am going to take it upon myself to speed up the treatment process, starting tomorrow morning.

• Now that football season is in full swing, it occurs doubly to me how dull life is when the sport is not in season. Saturdays in Athens, in and of themselves, have rarely been more fun*. In fact, in spite of the significant discomfort involved it seems to be rather therapeutic.

• My part-time football season gig in Athens has been pretty cool. The saddle is a bit different than it was before, but it's nice to sit in it every now and again.

• I hope to have some good news regarding my writing for young bands in the very near future.

• As soon as I don't have to take pain medication all day every day, I am really looking forward to trying Merlot and Cheez-Its. I know that sounds stupid, but I think it will be outstanding.

* - This season and the company are amazing. But it will be hard to ever top the Corley-Knight years in terms of total enjoyment.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

In case you ever wanted to know...

Ever cared to know what Steve D0rff looks like? He is third from the right in this photo taken just last month in Nashville.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gameday Math

I was reading a Georgia Southern message board the other day on which the participants were complaining (rightly) about fall weddings. One gentleman in particular is said to have reminded a pair of acquaintances contemplating marriage that there are usually fifty-two Saturdays in a given year and - since he only gets to spend six of those on Beautiful Eagle Creek - that they have around forty-six from which to choose when picking a wedding date. I find the expectation that your friends would extend you this courtesy to be perfectly reasonable.

As in past years, I am hyper-sentimental on the eve of the first game of Georgia's football season. But my return to affiliation with the band coupled with my relocation necessitates a 5:00am wake-up call tomorrow morning. So there will be no lengthy monologue (as Letterman used to say, "if that's still possible").

But I have been mindful lately of the scarcity of home football Saturdays in the context of one's entire life. If you're lucky, you live to be eighty years old. If you're really lucky you get to spend every home game Saturday in Athens. If you are truly blessed, you have grown up a college football fan and were - as the old phrase goes - Bulldog born. Thus, the best you really have any right to expect is have only 480 home Saturdays in Athens over the course of your entire life.

That ain't much. So we better make 'em count. We get another chance to do just that in a matter of hours.

I hope you're ready.

PS - Mizzou-rah.
Well, he looks like a Damn Good Dawg to me...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bulldog born, Bulldog bred

I don't "do" sports here. But I loved this portion of the summary of Coach's Q and A with the Athens Touchdown Club (HT: Native Dawg, via DawgRun.com):

Q. Is AJ Green fun to coach?
A. Yes. For a couple reason. [sic] First, he committed to UGA as like a soph in HS, and he NEVER wavered. He and his HS guidance counselor said to UGA "Tell us what we have to do in the classroom to be eligible." Green had a lotta work to do. Our academic advisors set out a path for him, and AJ busted his tail getting the job done. He flat out wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog. During his final HS spring practice, Steve Spurrier came to his school... AJ skipped school that day! Later, Tommy Bowden came to the school to visit... and AJ skipped school again! That got a lotta laughter and applause. Second, it's always fun to coach a guy who is 6'5", with speed who catches everything thrown at him... (more laughter)


I love that, and I can't wait...

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I am going to blog about tonight

In an effort to calm the uproar of the part of my conscience responsible for my blogging regularity, I decided to sit and think this evening until I came up with something about which to write. I mentally combed the body of news events of the last few weeks, but found nothing about which I could shed any new light. I thought of things that have been going on in my life, but none have changed significantly enough since I last wrote about them to warrant a mention. I thought of elements of my world which I could romanticize, yet again to no avail.

Somehow, this evening I have no real complaints. My back hurts, but I have pills that dull that pain to the level of annoyance. I don't have a great deal of money, but I have enough to get me through the next several months and a great deal more than some. I have a nice job (several of them, in fact). I have an amazing girlfriend. I have a very nice apartment by third world standards, a car that runs quite well and gets forty miles to the gallon, wonderful friends, an understanding family, a great educational background, relatively good health, tv and internet, a place to belong, and something to do all the time.

Hopefully my blogging habits will one day return to the prolific level of a couple of years ago, sans the loneliness, the unhappiness, or the excessive alcohol intake. But tonight I am very happy.

That is all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why you shouldn't get older

Before I begin to complain about my back, let me acknowledge the fact that there are people with problems way worse than my own (including Ellen's now-resolved back thing, which makes mine look like a paper cut). My major organs are still working. I haven't been burned severely (other than multiple occasions in my romantic life that have long since passed). I can get from one place to another with little difficulty, I don't curse uncontrollably, I drool less than many people, and I generally have no problem controlling my body's waste disposal functions.

That said, this back thing has started to suck. Wednesday night, Meghan and I stood at Firehouse Subs and waited for our food. When our orders were filled, I reached to the counter to grab the sandwiches and head for the door. The bag slipped slightly from my hand as I grabbed it, and I flinched to catch it.

That's when I felt it - a seizing pain that reached down from my shoulder to my ass. I recognized it from last spring as something like a muscle strain. As before, it gradually became difficult to sit or walk throughout the course of the evening. I tried to sleep but had trouble doing so, as I knew I was in for a hell of time this when I woke.

When I finally developed the moxie to rise Thursday morning, it took about three minutes and ten utterances of the phrase "C'mon, Brett" to bring my body to the standing position. I walked to the kitchen leading with the genitals, as though I was being drawn in whatever direction I was moving by a piece of fishing twine sutured to my lower abdomen. As you can imagine, the process of making breakfast, showering, and collecting my belongings were labored at best and miserable at worst.

If you're still reading through the inevitable pity you must feel for me, then you may enjoy imagining the process of my putting on socks and shoes when I was alone and basically unable to bend at the waist. I had managed to kick my shorts far enough up my leg from a seated position that I could reach them with a bended knee well enough to lift them above what butt I have. After this, I laid carefully on the bed and managed to grab my shoes and socks and lay them on my chest. I began with one sock and thoughtfully placed it around the fingers of my right hand, oriented so that I could drag and pull the sock onto my foot with one hand. After putting the sock on - a process which took about ninety seconds - I moved to the shoe. I put the opposite foot flat on the bed with bended knee. I rotated the hip and bent the knee of the foot onto which the shoe was to go, placing the foot on top of the other knee. I gradually stretched the hamstring of the leg as the foot came down my angled thigh at a rate of about one inch per minute, until I could get the tip of my toes far enough into the shoe to keep the shoe on. Five minutes later I managed to stretch the hamstring far enough to painfully reach the shoe with my hands well enough to get it completely on my foot and tie it in the worst common bow knot I have tied since second grade.

I repeated the process for the other foot.

At this point, I was concerned that I would get to Winder (where my therapy sessions are) and be forced to call Big Oob for a ride home. He, of course, would get mad and assume that I was drunk, which I wouldn't be... though I couldn't fault him for thinking so. This did not happen, but needless to say the ride to Winder, Athens, and then home was not so great. Walking around downtown Athens like I had inflamed hemorrhoids was worse.

But the worst part was the frustration at being unable to care for myself. Though my issues were relatively minor, I really began to feel for those whose bodies have failed them. I dread any future day when I feel as helpless as I did on Thursday. And I can't wait to be able to bend at the waist, sit without grunting, or stand for five minutes without looking like I'm about to take a dump.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Some bullets, some news, and a brief farewell

• You may recall that I had some back pain last spring. Since early April it has gotten worse, and lately it has started to concern me. Last week I finally saw a doctor. I begin physical therapy tomorrow. I'm a little nervous, but the drugs are great.

• I have been skeptical since the release of the Gillette Mach 3 Power. It has seemed less like a more efficient razor, and more like a vibrator with blades. When Meghan and I went on vacation with my family, I left my non-shaky razor at home. Dad bought me a Mach 3 Power, and I tried it. I now prefer it.

• Somehow I have been missing the music of Pete Yorn all these years. Meghan and I heard some of his tunes in Walker's a few weeks ago, and she identified it immediately. I am now the satisfied owner of one album, and intend to purchase more.

• I get more than a little excited the first time each late summer when I hear the following on the radio for the first time:

"The station Atlanta turns to first for live team coverage of breaking news.... News Talk 750 WSB. Atlanta's News, Weather, Traffic, and Georgia Bulldogs Station. Depend on it." (I wish I could handle money like Clark Howard does).

• I have hesitated to mention the following on the blog, because there are lots of thoughts and feelings floating around out there as a result of the personnel carousel of the last few years. Now that I know I am involved, I feel more comfortable talking about it.

For the first time since leaving the university in 2005, I am working with the Redcoats once again. I have spent the last week at band camp, and will be traveling to Athens at least once a week along with attending most games. I am teaching in various capacities along with offering operational advice and institutional memory.

I experienced some combination of nervousness and guilt as this opportunity emerged. Having been back for a week, I am comfortable saying that I think the group is in for something good. And, no matter how cool I try to be about it, I am truthfully very excited to get to stand in front of the band once again.

• "When did we get so old that people stopped getting married and started dying?" This was a perfectly valid question asked by Russell upon hearing of Troy's passing last Friday. And I have to admit that I feel a little of the same thing.

I won't insult his memory by what would be an insufficient description of his selflessness and optimism. I will only say that I have and will continue to look back on my times with Troy with the most genuine fondness I know.

Well, and this... I believe that one of the strongest and purest sources of human motivation is the desire to matter. It was evident today, as the lobby and chapel were filled to capacity with people who had been touched by Troy, that he had done just that. We're obviously all sad to lose a dear friend. But I also hope that everyone who knew Troy is happy for him and the fact that he exits having changed his corner in the most positive of ways. I don't think I will ever forget the amount of admiration in that room today. In this way, among many others, Troy will be here for a long time to come.

Good bye, old friend. Very, very well done.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

23 days and 6 bullets

• I began a post earlier today which railed on the people who have reacted negatively to the news of Meghan's hiring at a school with many challenges. The more I read it, the more I realized that I was just yelling from the shore, exactly like the people about whom I was complaining. So I'm simply going to say that I am very proud of her decision to get her hands dirty, endure the difficulties, and teach in a place where she has the opportunity to change something for the better.

• On that note, I think I have begun to realize that the terms "positive" and "negative" don't respectively mean "good" and "bad." I'm pretty sure I'm the last one to figure this out, but the realization has been quite meaningful.

• New releases on DVD suck right now (Hmmmm... is that positive or negative?). Except Charlie Bartlett. Charlie Bartlett was pretty good. All other new releases on DVD suck right now. Well, but then I haven't seen all of them. Hell, I have only seen one of them. But they don't look good. So, all new releases on DVD except Charlie Bartlett look like they suck, even though I don't really know that to be true. Wow. How many new DVD releases worldwide could there possibly have been in the last few weeks? Is it really possible that I have really given descriptions or reviews of even a significant fraction of them a fair shake? Probably not. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that whatever piddly number of New Release DVD descriptions and reviews I have encountered lately seem to indicate that they suck. Except Charlie Bartlett. And it was only okay.

• I have been re-bitten by the marching band bug. I have been more or less uninvolved since leaving my job three years ago. I am looking forward to helping out in a few places this fall.

• Every time I write a song after a lengthy time away, I wonder why I took time away. Then I realize that I have to eat.

• Meghan has discovered a great formula for making a great Frozen Jack and Dr. Pepper at home. Get her to tell you about it. Better yet, get her to tell you about it, and then put a spoonful on a brownie. But make sure you have a will first.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm home from Br00kwood's Band Camp, and I am more or less in one piece. Things went as well as I remember them going. I just hope things continue to be as good as they were at camp. As we all know, that's a toss up with high school students.

I finally have my apartment set up. Considering the proximity of my apartment to Meghan's, mine will function less like a home and more like an office. With the exception of the DSL (tomorrow), I'm ready to roll. I have some very interesting projects lined up for the fall, including some last minute arrangements, a waiting line of songs to write, the creation of a composition portfolio for Midwest, and some band work in various capacities.

Oh... and if you can't hear it, the drumbeat of football season is present in the distance. And it's getting louder.

Also, I think this is awesome. (HT: Blutarsky)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cullowheeeeee

The latest installment of My Life as a Thirty-Four Year-Old Band Geek finds us in beautiful Cullowhee, NC on the campus of Western Carolina University. We are surrounded by mountains on a small but modern campus with facilities that are adequate to allow us to do what we need to do.

This is all fine and good. What is great is the temperature. We broke 100 degrees several times over the last few years in Clinton, SC, - a situation that was dangerous and downright inconvenient (I don't know what it is about the border of South Carolina that makes anything in the state hotter than anything outside of it... except the women). So far today here in the mountains, we have been about ten degrees cooler than Atlanta. When I walked out of my dorm at 8am this morning, it was about 62 degrees.

Plus there is a Walmart three miles away which has a great stock of Red Bull, Gold Bond, Yuengling (no, I didn't) flushable wipes, ibuprofen, and sunscreen. So everything seems fine, except I swear I keep hearing distant banjos.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Die Walküre's

Ok, so I didn't exactly use that title correctly. But life has felt like an opera of late, and the drill-writing portion of it has felt like one big-ass, long, drawn out Wagner music drama - the kind that makes your ass so sore from sitting that you swear you'll never attend one again. Nevertheless, I finally find myself in Athens, at Walker's, on a Friday afternoon, at the convergence of eras.

Wow, I really wrote that.

Since last we talked, I have been to Florida and back on vacation with Meghan and my family, finished all but two of this summer's horn books (the rest should be done by Tuesday), packed all my belongings, moved to Marietta, and finished my lone drill book of the summer as my apartment sat packed in boxes. I sit in one of my favorite spots in the world, waiting for Meghan to arrive in Athens for a rehearsal and a wedding. After this, I will once again be at band camp. And finally, I'll be back in Marietta to start my fall, while Meghan begins school in earnest.

My one-year move to Athens has come to an end with no shortage of reminiscing about its events, doting on small pieces of real estate that hold significant personal meaning to my significant other and me, and general mourning of the necessity of moving on from my twice-adopted hometown to the location of Whatever Is Next. I have done a pretty good job of managing my little sadnesses, disguising the occasional unexpected lump in the throat as a cough, and subtly sweeping conversations of Athens off into the ether with timely changes of subject. I also twice managed to convince myself that this is not real: first by insisting that "the second we can move back, we are going back," and later by declaring myself a resident of the "Athens-Atlanta Area." Unfortunately, after being concerned earlier this week that Meghan was having a hard time with the move, I suddenly became a sobbing mess at the dinner table while simultaneously realizing that I was the one who wasn't handling it well.

She thought I was choking. And in a way she was right.

There are many times in which I have wished I could present myself as a true citizen of the world - wished that I could make myself out to be comfortable under any circumstances, willing to dive into new pools with no concern for what lies beneath, shaking the hands of total strangers, and lighting busy rooms with stories of foreign adventure and danger. I find myself mildly jealous of the adaptability of my friends who are from military families in that regard. They always seem to be able to walk into new situations and engage without hesitation. But if there is one truth about me, it is that I need familiarity in order to be happy.

I can hear all of my friends, having read the previous sentence, saying aloud, "Really? Shocker."

The bad news for people like me is that things are changing, regardless of whether or not I approve. The good news is that we adapt. Almost every time I move, things get like this. I run into every exposed sharp object in my new apartment. I encounter water leaking through my ceiling. I get confused about my actual location in the new Target which looks almost exactly like the one to which I am accustomed. But gradually, everything gets better because it too becomes familiar.

It's important for me to point out that I would move five hundred times and I would move five hundred more to be near the woman I love. And I know she would do the same for me. I choose to move because I choose permanent happiness over a discomfort that will remedy itself by simple repetition in a few weeks. Moreover, I am closer to the people I care about and enjoy the most than I have been at any point since college ended.

I really do recognize the necessity and benefits of change. Things end so other things can begin. Things change so we learn to appreciate moments when we are in them. Good things go away to make room for potentially better things. Cerebrally I get that. It is simply the way life works. There is no alternative.

But somewhere in the middle of my soul, there is a child that does not understand why people get sick, why relationships sour, why pets go away, and why we have to leave the places we love. And that, I suspect, isn't ever going to change.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Still Slammed

Just letting you know that I'm alive and that my stuff is in an apartment. As soon as we got everything in on Friday, I immediately picked up the laptop and resumed writing drill. I'm working as hard as I know how to work. It will be Friday before I am finished, at which point I hope to be writing a more detailed update from Ye Olde Walker's Coffee and Pub.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yankees fans... truly the class of baseball.
I'm embarrassed by my virtual absence, but there isn't much I can do about it right now. On the home stretch of work for the season, and moving to Marietta on Thursday and Friday. But if you're looking for something to read, Groo reports a shocking potential move up to the east side for Georgia Football clientele.

If this turns out to be true, I will be tickled that I didn't donate my intended piddly $1000.00 per seat for tickets this year (I am not a season ticket holder). I will also be scared that Georgia Football is getting too expensive for me.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Groo Explains Uga Selection

In case you're not reading Groo at DawgsOnline, he has done a wonderful job explaining the process that will take place in the coming days as the next mascot is selected. It's too bad that the current drought has ended the practice of using red or black smoke to indicate whether or not a mascot has been chosen successfully.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thanks to Adam E., Kit's link no longer directs here. Three people staring intently at this blog last Saturday couldn't figure out why that link wasn't working. Already puttin' that fancy Master's Degree to work, eh?

(Thanks, Adam)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thank you Diamond Dawgs!!!! Great season!

One of the things to which Meghan and I were really looking forward about my return to Athens was going to Georgia Baseball games together. We were at the first one, the third one, and many others this year. It was even better than advertised.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!

Why do people think Georgia fans are classless?

It's the bottom of the 6th right now. Clearly things aren't going all that well for Georgia. And while they look downright hopeless, they aren't.

Nevertheless, some Georgia "fans" have posted some pretty classless things on message boards. Examples:

Next at bat.. Detwiler needs one in the earhole.
Will someone let me know when UGA shows up...
Looks like this game is history...
That does it.... i'm out

- from dawgrun.com

When you post things like that on a public message board, people with no opinion one way or the other see nothing but spoiled elitist classless fair-weather fans. As far as I'm concerned, they're right. If you quit in the middle, it seems to me you have no right to enjoy comebacks. Furthermore, you give ESPN another reason to celebrate our defeats.

I will enjoy this game if we win it. But I would still far rather be a Georgia Bulldog than anything else, win or lose. And I don't appreciate the part-timers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Screw sexual harrassment... give me my whiskey

I know, I know. Say it with me: "There's nothing funny about sexual harassment." But still (pun intended), Jack-lovers should be aware that our once beloved former Master Distiller was forced out due to accusations of sexual harassment. I don't know if there is any truth to the accusation. I do know that commenter NGNG34 hits the nail on the head in the Nashville Tennessean when s/he writes:
"Bedford should also be sued for allowing Jack Daniel's to be watered down from the 86 proof it was watered down to [sic] in the 1980s to the 80 proof that is [sic] remains today."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A thought about moving

The last month of my stint in Bizarro Athens began on Thursday. In wisely taking a bit of my girlfriend's advice, I have begun packing slowly while taking breaks from writing. I am hopeful that I won't encounter the packing frenzy that my departure from Nashville presented.

As the packing has begun, small moments of nostalgia have been balanced by an overriding sense of excitement about the future. As with any move or massive life change, there are little instances of fear and separation pangs. But I am repeatedly amazed by how relatively benign those negative emotions are in the context of... well, you know.

Also positively notable about the upcoming months are the new opportunities that are waiting. The social benefits of this move are obvious. I have previously mentioned the improved proximity to Nashville as a plus as well. I have also recently found that I am genuinely enjoying writing the original band music that has become a part of my "day job." I intend to pursue that a bit more seriously, and being located in Marietta can only help that.

Last night, Meghan, Russell, and I sat on the sidewalk three feet from the main stage watching the Skirts perform to an audience and press that was as attentive as I remember for any group to come out of Athens in a long time. I have become so accustomed to moments like that in Athens that it didn't even have to occur to me that we were witnessing something very special. That happens a lot here, and it continues to be a blessing to be able to have a front row seat over, over, over, over, over, and over again. Even though we will soon stake our tents a few miles to the west, I really hope history continues to repeat itself.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The camps concluded yesterday in rather successful fashion. In response to the long hours over the last two to three weeks, I had one of the all-time great nights of sleep last night. I am now sitting in Walker's after a cup of coffee and a peanut butter sandwich. I am excited about tonight as I am few occasions. That excitement, however, is tempered by the tragedy of Russert's passing being replayed over and over again on television.

I don't comment on the deceased too much, because I think people often make up bullshit compliments about them after they're dead just to fit into the crowd and seem compassionate. I'm sure you can name several sons-of-bitches over the years whose passing was met with posthumous praise, even though their absence probably makes the world a better place.

All indications are that this phenomenon does not apply to the praise of Tim Russert. I know that I personally loved listening to him because of his apparent fairness, his calm delivery of pointed questions, and his obvious awe of and passion for his family and his life. There are a lot of things about him that I would like to be things about me.

One comment in particular struck me last night. Keith Olbermann (of whom I am generally not a fan) said in reference to working with Russert, "Every time I have ever used the word 'privilege', I feel like I should have saved it just for this occasion rather than wasted it on the other ones." On one hand that doesn't say it perfectly. And on the other, it most certainly does.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Change Advisory

You may not recognize the subject of this photo.



In the one of the latest expressions of "the greatest tradition of all," Barnett's Newsstand in Downtown Athens recently closed for business. As I have passed by the old location over the last several weeks, I have taken grim photographs out of a somewhat sick obsession with the empty site of a once busy location.

I have very few intimate memories of Barnett's. I can't imagine, in my sixteen years in and around Athens, that I went in the store more than ten times. Most times when entered, I was purchasing the once-necessary accessories to a night of consumption. As time has passed, any other reasons I might have had to go into a newsstand have gradually dissipated. They clearly did for others as well, as it will soon be replaced by a dress shop.



In spite of the fact that I rarely patronized the establishment, the loss of Barnett's is still a bit sad - probably less because I need it, and more because I expect it.

There is another, smaller, change about which I hope to write before you arrive. Can't wait to see you...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Me and my simple updates are starting to good and piss me off...

but it's all I've got.

After two good weeks or so of writing pretty consistently, I have had to be back at the school this week in preparation for summer camps. I won't go into any detail here about the nature of the work involved. I will simply say that this gig is a lot of work compressed into a very small period of time. I have been absolutely wiped out every night I have returned home. This is not an entirely bad thing.

In spite of the notable busy-ness of the week, we did have time to run to Marietta and settle on the apartments in which we will live next fall. We will be where I told you we will be, though the decision was complicated by what appeared to be a bait and switch. After walking out of the leasing office in frustration, we signed paperwork thirty minutes later as the "misunderstanding" was "resolved" by the leasing manager "calling corporate." Screw it. We like the apartments, the location, and the rent.

I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. More soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stream of Conch's-ness...

... in the form of bullets, the singular version of which is somewhat close in spelling to "bullshit." Coincidence? I think not...

• Meghan and I have "found" an apartment complex in the E.C. which we think will become home to each of us in late July. Assuming all goes as planned over the next five days or so, you can look for us right here...

... but really, you should call first.

• Summer camps begin one week from tomorrow, which means that the real work begins on Tuesday (even though we've been in the office fairly consistently for the last week-and-a-half).

I recall a particularly interesting spring some eight-or-so years ago, when the Diamond Dawgs were in the post-season. Gunner had just moved in next door, and we were still doing three weeks of Sunday-to-Saturday camp. Several of us got together to watch Georgia vs. Tech on television and enjoy our last hoorah before a month of enslavement to The Man. In the process we got absolutely liver-hardeningly drunk at 3 in the afternoon. Just thinking about it makes me slur my speech.

These days we do that afterwards.

• Last week, I reached the point in the year when I am finishing shows rather than starting them. This is a relief. The time of year during which the arranging gig falls does not make for a very streamlined process. Though I had once hoped to spend a great deal of time writing while doing my travel job, the truth is that that doesn't happen very much. I am able to write a fair amount in the middle of the weeks of summer camp. It would be nice, however, if I could simply sit for two weeks at a time and write each show without having to leave town for a month.

• Barring any clearly obvious signs (severe misspellings or complete inattention to punctuation), do you think you can tell when someone has emailed you drunk? I think I can, and I suspect that is less because of some sort of intuition I have and more because I have done it more than my fair share of times.

• While in Gatlinburg a couple of weeks ago, my Civic endured the hailstorm from hell. I will be putting it in the shop early next week to have the 40+ dings removed at a total cost of about $1400, $1000 of which will come from my pocket. Who's excited?

• I am as politically frustrated right now as I remember. It feels like there is no one with any control who is on my side, and that sucks. Some of that is the $4.00 gas (which you would have to be asleep not to have seen coming). Some of it isn't.

• On the other hand, I myself stuck it to The Man this afternoon when I received three (3) free subscriptions to magazines in return for my pittance of American Airlines miles. Now who's excited!!?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Clarence Darrow posthumously defends Senator Obama, in a quote on my Google home page today: "Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

To Cobb

It was noted some time back that the location of my residence for the next year was undecided. Since then, you may have been among those who have been told that Meghan got a job in Cobb County. And thus, that will be my home for the next year.

When I was growing up in Nashville, I used to hear these vague references from my father about locations where he used to live. Once distinctly vague reference was somewhere on the west side of Nashville.

View Larger Map
I recall that my sister-in-law lived in the neighborhood near the end of her time at Vanderbilt. One day my dad pointed west across I-440, and told me that he used to live in blah blah blah just beyond that bum bum-ba blah blah. He sounded like he had been running from the law.

I don't know that I ever envisioned myself moving quite this much. Between the ages of two and sixteen-years old I had lived in two permanent dwellings that were within one mile of each other. Since sixteen, I have lived in nine (9) other places. That doesn't particularly bother me in the current context, since some sort of ease in the habit of moving appears to be in the not-too-distant future.

While I am not terribly excited about leaving Athens again, I am tickled to be moving to a place that will be near dear friends, still in Georgia, and within three-and-a-half hours of Nashville. The five-hour drive has made getting to Nashville difficult. It is time to jump back on that horse.

Most importantly, Meghan has found a very interesting job in a place that appears to provide a steady but challenging job. She is excited about it and I am too.

So, put your friends in the 30062 and surrounding ZIP codes on notice. We're coming arriving sooner than you think, and one of us doesn't like onions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Preposition Candidate

Even if my politics were aligned with those of Senator Obama's, I don't think I could vote for a candidate whose campaign slogan ends with a preposition.



At.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Event IV

If you haven't already been invited by email or Facebook, or seen Russell's blog, here is the information you and your loved ones will need regarding The Event. Be there or be sober.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My Coat of Arms

Meghan received a wedding invitation the other day. On the top of the invitation, the bride-to-be's family elected to include its family coat-of-arms. Something about that, in light of my knowledge of her life, seemed, um, unusual. I dunno. I usually associate coats-of-arms with duchies and people with Roman numerals after their name. The woman in question is great, but simply doesn't strike me as the type.

So I wondered to myself, "Self, why don't you have a coat-of-arms?"* The answer was that there was no good reason. So Meghan, Molly, Matt, and I got out the crayons and Jack Daniel's, and got to makin' ourselves a by-God fam'ly crest.

Here is my result (click to enlarge... again, if it were only that easy).



Here is Meghan's...




* - Phrasing in tribute to Meghan's now past-professor, Dr. L, who was also mine, and for whom I maintain great affection.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

It was pointed out to me today that my blog has too much orange in it. So I did something about it. But in the process I lost my links and my sitemeter. A leaner meaner Links section will be up in the near future, so don't think I have forgotten about you... unless you don't post once a month, then I have forgotten about you. Dead to me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thanks, Blogger. Your spam-resistance measures really seem to be working.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stock Update

Not so much an update on stocks as an update on life as though pulled directly from the stockroom of blog topics...

• I have two more small trips to make (a weekend in Charlotte and another in Gatlinburg) before finishing my spring travel season. I am honestly quite grateful for the opportunities that side job affords me. It is pretty cool to travel as frequently as I do to the places to which I do. The travel gig also makes the year work financially. However, I no longer enjoy being gone so much, especially at the time of year when most of my arranging work should be being done. Furthermore, the attacks of Murphy seem to be less like exceptions and more like the norm. I am fairly certain that I will continue in this line of work next year. But I don't see myself staying in it long term.

• This weekend was Twilight. I would like to think that we can find a way to return to Athens for Twilight in the future, and that we can turn that weekend into one of our standing non-football return engagements. We had a great time with friends as we always do. Plus, I netted five (5) U.S. Dollars in poker for the weekend, which was enough to pay for the two movies Meghan and I rented this afternoon. And, I didn't wake up hungover on either morning. Also, Meghan made kickass cheddar biscuits Friday night.

• Today, Meghan and I rented "V for Vendetta" for repeat viewing, and "Flags of Our Fathers." The latter left me bawling.

• Russ will probably tell you that we encountered a Frozen Jack and Coke machine last night at the Sandbar in Athens. It is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our time.

• Just spoken in my home: "Applesaucearrific... you didn't even know that was a word." I didn't.

• My Dad recently was evaluated for candidacy in Em0ry's Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery program. In the process, he spent a fair amount of time in a waiting area with other people who have Parkinson's with far worse expressions of the disease than he has. It was decided that no surgery will help with Dad's symptoms as much as his meds do, which was fine. More importantly, he found out that the hand he has been dealt could be far more miserable than it actually is. That in itself was probably worth the visit.

• The songs being repeatedly being sung in my house right now:

"Officer Krupke"
"Five.... Five Dollar... Five Dollar Footlong"
Bridge from "Theme from The Muppet Show" sung with the lyrics from the bridge to "Santa Claus is Coming To Town"
"Never Gonna Give You Up"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

But first, this is Today on NBC



You may remember this picture of me in front of a house in Washington, DC. I only bring you this to remind you of what color my jacket is when I'm working for the travel company.

Now... Imagine me wearing the same jacket, with a little more hair, and about thirty more pounds. You know you like it.

Now, imagine that person creeping around the set of the Today Show (bastard stepchild fourth hour only) yesterday trying to get on TV. If you can sit through the ad, then fast forward to the 2:26 mark and keep watching the right-hand side of your high definition screen. You should see what you imagine.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bullets of Shame

I have been shamed into offering a bulleted post. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

• Since my recent back pain began, I have been spending lots of time lying flat on my back [insert joke here] on the floor. I am currently in just such a position, with a heating pad under my back and a Jack and Dr. Pepper on my coffee table.

• I am also drinking alone tonight. While I pack for my trip to New York tomorrow, Meghan enjoys night number two of her passing her oral comprehensive exams. She and a couple of her girlfriends are, thus, painting the town red and black tonight.

• I have recently completed a Finale project for an elderly gentleman in the northern suburbs. When I sent him the file, I told him that I would be happy to correct anything with which he wasn't happy. His response to me: "If there's anything with which I'm unhappy, it was my failure to find a 20 year old blonde when I went shopping today."

• It would appear at this point that there are three possibilities for my location next fall. They are Athens (not very likely), Cobb County (somewhat likely), and Greater Nashville (somewhat likely). Each has its pros and cons. I am anxious to know.

• The wait from G-Day to the first kickoff is the worst part of the football obsession. Here are the durations between major events as I figure them, based on the beginning of the 07 campaign to that of the 08 campaign.

- Maximum number of days between regular season games: 14
- Number of days between SECCG and our own bowl game: 31
- Number of days between our bowl game and signing day: 36
- Number of days between signing day and G-Day: 59
- Number of days between G-Day and Kickoff 08: 153

Ugh... It's going to be a long summer.

• If you like jazz (and who doesn't), it might be a good idea to get to Athens for Twilight. Hell, it might be a good idea even if you don't.

• Just an FYI. Late last week, my Mom rolled her Toyota 4-Runner on a remote road in rural west Tennessee (she's okay). A gust of wind caught her, she over-corrected, and flipped the vehicle three to four times. The only significant injury took place when her hand was dragged against the ground through the busted sunroof. Otherwise, she's sore but fine.

They were considering getting rid of a car. This wasn't what they had in mind.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home for now

On Sunday, I returned to the great green south after the aforementioned ten days on the road. While this particular trip was tough for logistical and personal reasons, it was also probably very well-timed for Meghan.

Her comps are tomorrow morning. The run-up in studying intensity really began for her when I left on April 3. The distractions I can present were probably better burdened upon the fine people of the Midwest, rather than on her.

Sure enough, when I returned I found that she had been free to study as much as she needed. That's when I said, "Hey, instead of working tonight, we should drink." So we did. The next night I offered, "Hey, instead of working tonight, we should make dessert." Strawberry, whipped cream, cake surprise thing? Check. Tonight, I will propose drinking and dessert. That will be postponed until tomorrow.

Side note: When I was a kid, I thought the word was "post-phoned" because someone called everyone and told them that the event would take place later.


Meghan does her thing tomorrow morning at 11am. I head to New York Saturday afternoon, and return Tuesday night llllllllllate.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Midway thoughts

I am sitting, as is frequently the case, at a gate in the A Concourse at Midway. I am also roughly halfway through day 6 of my 11 days of travel.

Meghan's parents came to Chicago last week, for a function that was unrelated to my travel here. Upon returning home, Meghan's mother wondered at the ease and convenience of Midway Airport, asking "why no one told me about Midway." Well, here's your notice ladies and gentlemen. It might be in the middle of the hood. It might use runways that are short enough that they are better suited for a Harrier than for the standard commercial aircraft of today. But it is by far the more convenient of your Chicago travel options. I find Midway to be the anti-Newark.

In spite of the relative efficiency and convenience of my current location, the trip so far has not been what one might call "smooth." I can't go into any details here, but it has been a very rough trip in which Murphy has struck numerous times.

Aside, the televisions here in the gate area are showing ABC Daytime programming, rather than the typical CNN. A promo just aired for tomorrow's episode of The View promising, "And Trisha Yearwood tells us the secret of a happy marriage." I really don't intend any offense here, but why would I take advice from her on that particular matter? Perhaps they can find something else to discuss.

In addition to the complications of the trip itself, my annoying back pain from last week became a full-on muscle strain. Needless to say, it has made travel difficult and painful. Plus, I walk as though I have pooped my pants.

In moments I will be experiencing Southwest's new boarding procedure for the first time. I will then be Nashville-bound for only the second time since I moved. I am so looking forward to the bus-ride back here on Thursday.

PS - Auditions are finished, and the Redc0at Band will have three female (and one male) drum majors for what I believe would be the first time in its history.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ellen will probably appreciate this as much as anyone, but...

Tonight's flight to Chicago was like a Slim Jim: long and jerky.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

An Old Day

If you could see me now, you would so assume that I am forty years my senior. Emotionally, that's probably actually true.

After spending most of my day on my taxes (Owed over $1000... ouch...), bitching about my taxes, and scouting my trip tomorrow, things finally settled down enough for dinner. Meghan made these Ranch Chicken Nuggets, which were tremendous, and tremendously difficult to make - so difficult in fact that she swore that she would never make them again, because Rachel Ray made them seem easier than they really were. I think I calmed Meghan's relative anger when I reminded her that Rachel Ray was a bitch.

We ate dinner while, at my insistence, watching Wheel of Fortune. I griped several times with language that sounded something like, "You know, Wheel of Fortune has really gone downhill." Wow. After that we watched Jeopardy!, which would already make me seem old. Add to this the fact that I DVR it nightly, and I include the exclamation point when writing the title, and you are once again reminded of how effing old I am. Also, I bitched about "damn Japanese" technology when the DVR did not work as expected. (For the record, the DVR is a Motorola, based in the Far East city of Schaumburg, Illinois.)

Meghan, who had appeared to be wandering harmlessly on the internet, audibly uttered the word "Dude" when she ran across this. I noted its extremely low price, and we discovered that we shared a longstanding desire to own one.

Upon entering the Target we walked immediately to the foot care aisle, where we did not find The Item. What we did find were these:



I was on 'em like Metamucil on Wilford Brimley's Quaker Oats. I did correctly assert that they might relieve my feet which had been killing me on my recent trips, and that the ten-day itinerary would be no kinder to me than the previous jaunts had been. But still. Age can be so repellin'.

I will update you on the gellin' experience as it develops.

After buying two sets of these, along with a new pair of black shoes and an inflatable foot bath (they were out of the bubbly kind), we headed back home. On the way, we discussed a future that would not include either of the two Charles Nelson Reilly couches in my den - not only because they're tacky, but also because they are broken. Also, my labored walk through Target suggests that they're making my back stiff as well.

When we arrived home, I anxiously installed my gel soles, and put a heating pad on my back. After Meghan broke it in, she brought me the foot bath, half-filled with warm soapy water. Shortly following that, she brought me a Dr. Pepper float.

A cane and a Geritol would wrap the day up nicely.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Some fools never learn

Totally forgetting what today was, my first email of the day had this in the contents. I said to Meghan, "Now that is the end of the business." She let me go for a couple of minutes.

Also, this seems to be worth everyone else's time. It's probably worth yours too.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Out like a lamb?

It seems like last week that I was uncontrollably giddy about being back in Athens (not to mention the reason for the return). Yesterday, I received my renewal notice from my landlord, indicating that the date for my 90-day notice not to renew is approaching. I can run the math a number of ways, depending on whether I want to feel like I have a lot of time left here or not. The bottom line is that this year is racing by, just like the rest of life.

The mania that accompanies Athens: The Beginning of the End (Sorta) Part II is only part of the frenzy around here. Meghan has taken two big tests over the last three weeks. Her comps are in three weeks.

I have work piled this high, and I'm loving it (mostly).

I leave for Chicago once again this Thursday. Ooh... and check this one out. I fly from Atlanta to Chicago on Thursday and work for four days. Then I fly from Midway to Nashville. The next day I pick up a group there, and the next I ride the bus nine hours with them back to Chicago. Four days later, I fly from O'hare to Atlanta. I'm pleased to have the work. But I hate being gone for that long. You know why.

Monday, March 24, 2008

They're not saying "Newww Gmail!!!" They're saying, "Boooooo Gmail!"

UPDATE: Based on what I'm hearing, not everyone experienced an email outage of over one hour today like I did. Others had it, and some for longer than I did. I would have felt better in the middle of it if this would have been easier to find.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dagmar?

Dear Russ,

If your local weatherperson can have the name below, then you should be able to name your baby Jack Daniel, Zenu, or Matt Effin' Lauer if you want.

Peace,

Brett


(Photo: cbs46.com)

PS - I think her name sounds like an alien airline check-in agent. I will consider alternatives.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just For You

Here's an unoriginal, but likely entertaining, exercise that can be blamed indirectly on Meghan. Below I am posting the list of ten recommendations under the heading "Just For You" on my iTunes account. My list is definitely less indicative of my own musical taste than those of others will be, since I purchase music that I need for one of my day jobs through iTunes. I'm doing it anyway.

I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours...

1. Suite of Old American Dances, Mvt. V (R.R. Bennett) - Col. Lowell Graham and the U.S. Air Force Band
2. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
3. Who Can It Be Now - Men at Work
4. Sailing - Christopher Cross
5. Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
6. Rock 'n' Roll All Night - KISS
7. Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
8. These Dreams - Heart
9. 867-5309 / Jenny - Tommy Tutone
10. Happy Together - The Turtles

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

[sic]

I'm back from NYC safe, but sick as a dawg (and not the kind of dawg that just won the SEC Tournament Championship. I don't feel like writing much, except that there is one particular part of hoops success I don't miss, particularly when it is completely unexpected.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Put 'em in your mouth

Friday evening marked the return of Russell and Ellen to Athens. It had been too long.

That night, we made homemade corndogs, the recipe for which came from fellow alum Alton Brown. After eating the homemade variety, I will never put the rotten prefab shit in my mouth ever again. If you would like the recipe, you can look in his book. Just be warned. Your calorie counter may behave erratically if you attempt to calculate the impact of this particular nutritional choice.

Yesterday, we obviously went to something intended to simulate a basketball game. Afterwards, we made our inaugural trip to Trappeze. It was a touch crowded, but not too bad by Athens standards. Everyone seemed to enjoy their drink choice. And, of course, we got to drink at Athens prices. As I began typing this, my very significant other said, "We should go back there." We will.

Today, we headed out to a Georgia baseball game, which we somehow managed to lose by blowing a late lead aaaaaagain. We finished the weekend off 0-2 at Georgia athletic events. Not good.

Tonight, Meghan and I rented "The Number 23." The title is significant, because it is what was on the DVD clock when we decided that it was too stupid to continue. "Martian Child," on the other hand, had some nice moments and a cute story.

This weeks is the university spring break, so I will have a break from some of my obligations there. Meghan and I will try to spend some time together (possibly including the new World of Coke), while I try to make up for some lost time due to the indecision in a client. I also head to NYC on Friday evening for a few days of travel company work.