Yes, it was a wonderful time away, and I can honestly say it was too short. (My work inbox and the pile of things that await me at the office will be evidence to the contrary. I can't even begin to contemplate it.)
I tend to be a very internal writer, by which I mean I have to turn things over in my mind, carry them through the aisles of supermarkets, say them out loud in the shower, scribble them on the backs of movie stubs, and then in one great burst sit down and type them all out.
When I was in South Carolina, and ready to type them all out, I realized I didn't bring an external keyboard for my laptop, which does not have a functioning keyboard as you may recall). So I plugged in the tiny keyboard I brought for my Palm Pilot, and that worked fine, except my Palm Pilot wouldn't work.
Two systems, neither one working. [Expletive deleted] technology.
So I'm still laden with all the stuff I was going to write, plus all the vacation items I want to share.
Long story short: It was a wonderful week in South Carolina, a lot of good times spent with my parents and a lot of great reading and some writing (all by hand!). South Carolina is a beautiful part of the country, unspoiled by the modern world and its inconveniences, such as road signs.
SC = Signage Challenged, I tell you. I must be getting more patient in my old age because even things like getting lost about 26 separate times on back roads didn't faze me too terribly much. I'm getting better about shutting off the work thoughts and enjoying the moment. It definitely helped that my parents were along for the first few days. It was great to be with them.
Friends, the log is going on vacation for a week. No e-mail. No Internet access! But the computer is going along for some writing. I'm starting a new handwritten journal too ... quite excited about that.
Look for new (and long-promised) enties early the week of 27 October. I'm going off to a cabin in South Carolina and I will be writing, walking, sleeping and eating, not necessarily in that order. At the risk of letting you "see other people," may I recommend this blog while I am away. Come back, please, the week of the 27th.
It's shameful, downright wrong, that I thought your bday was Oct. 7, no, Oct. 9, no, sometime in the 10th month. It is today, Oct. 16, and I am thinking of you as you mete out justice for the denizens of this great land of ours. You are one friend who truly knows me -- esp. the strange and ugly truths -- and still accepts me. Thank you. I am glad you were born! Outside my family, I believe you are the central Illinoisan I miss most of all. Have a wonderful day.
Tickets to the Nov. 10 Johnny Cash tribute at the Ryman will be available by lottery only, and there's just one entry per person. This is where you come in: enter and give me the tickets. I'm totally serious. You don't live here anyway, and it just costs you a postcard to get in the lottery. So check out the address and rules on the Ryman Auditorium website, enter under your name, win and transfer the tickets to me.
Hurry up! Entry deadline is Oct. 26. That's next week, people.
I e-mailed my co-workers (esp. the ones whose annual reviews I do) that they must do the same -- and that if I win a pair of tickets, whoever is nicest to me will get to accompany me.
One immediately e-mailed back: "You look very pretty today."
Does the name Garry W. Tallent mean anything to you? He's Springsteen's bass player. He lives here in Music City and does album production for various people around town. He co-hosted a house concert (private party, by invite only) with some people who are shirttail relations of DMJ's, and we went to a party at those folks' house tonight. I didn't meet him, thus ending my streak for the week.
I was tired and left halfway through the house concert. I was very un-Southernly. It was hot in that gorgeous Forest Hills house, and that came on the heels of 70 excruciating minutes not meeting anyone on the deck prior to the show. (I can talk to a post, but I had not an ounce of energy to make the least effort. Apparently no other invitees did, either.) I should have taken a nap before going.
The Tallents and these people are such good friends that DMJ's friends have gone along on E Street Band tours to the U.K. and Australia. I was about 10 feet away from Garry W. at one point, but I had nothing to say, no energy, nada. Quite sad, really. At least from the co-host I did learn more about Garry W., which is all good and I will not divulge here. I also learned that the W. is for "Wayne."
Most of all I learned that I am old and my mojo is gone on the third night out.
Tonight was the Predators' season opener and it was quite a spectacle. VGG got us awesome seats -- beware of flying pucks! -- and DreamWorks recording artist Jessica Andrews sang the National Anthem. I have no idea who DreamWorks recording artist Jessica Andrews is, but she must be impressive because she was always introduced that way.
Anyway, the between-period entertainment got people's attention: a sports juggler who skated while flipping rings, then tennis rackets, then hockey sticks, then flaming hockey sticks. Of course, Webb Wilder and the Nashvegans also played a couple sets, and that's always fun to watch. I had a chance to talk to Webb and to his guitarist, George Bradfute, who produced Jason's latest album. I've been listening to my advance copy and it's a kids' album that really captures Jason's personality. George played a lot of diverse instruments on it -- including all the animal sounds -- and I pretty much invited myself to his recording studio when Jason gets back in the country. What can I say? I was hopped up on hockey adrenaline.
I walked to the game and home, and every time I round the corner to go down the 5th Avenue hill, I feel like jumping up and down with excitement. You can see the arena, the corner of Lower Broad, the majestic front of the Ryman and a sliver of the Country Music Hall of Fame. People are coursing down the street and everyone's ramped up for the night's festivities. I can't imagine living anywhere but downtown.
Against all better judgment I went to see Dwight Yoakam again tonight. Oh, don't get me wrong, he was fabulous, but the hassle factor was substantial. It was at a club called The Trap, and it was the most confusing place to find parking and to find the door. There was a reason: normal people shouldn't go there. Plus the whole gig started about 40 minutes later than expected.
It was worth it, though. I ran into personal fave Webb Wilder and his pal, star producer R.S. "Bobby" Field. Webb introduced me. I love this town.
Webb's band is playing at the season-opening hockey game tomorrow night. Must rest up for that now.
Someone recently asked how I came to my decision to leave the paper, and I've been turning that over in my mind. I don't think it was a particular moment in time, and there were a number of external and internal factors. I've never regretted leaving the paper, even on my worst day in Corporate America, but I have often missed the people. My former co-workers are quirky and curious and funny and multifaceted and infuriating -- not necessarily in that order.
Tonight as I was walking out of work I thought about one in particular. A runner on the street reminded me of him. I'll call him K ... he was a sweetheart but, it must be said, he was my worst boss at the paper. He was fired a few months ago due to his alcoholism, a problem that he vigorously denied, even after his time in an employer-funded residential treatment program.
I don't remember him drinking when I worked for him, but he was erratic, to say the least. In the wake of his departure from the paper, many ugly things came to light. I don't know which, if any, were true. All I know is, I was very angry with him when I was his employee, and I got angrier the more I saw and heard after I moved on to another department and even after I left the company.
At one point I told a former co-worker not to tell me any more K-related anecdotes, because they vexed me so much.
She called tonight to give me one last K report. "I have bad news," she said.
"Did he commit suicide?" I asked.
"Close," she answered. He didn't wake up today when his elementary-age son went in to get him. I'm not sure at this point what happened, but it is alcohol-related -- it appears he literally drank himself to death. He was 46 years old.
Just got back from seeing "The School of Rock." It is not high concept, but it is high-larious. I laughed uproariously, and everybody in the audience did too. I went to a later show and wasn't the oldest person in the crowd -- I definitely wasn't the youngest, either. Jack Black's eyebrows were hysterical. (I like him, and you probably should be a fan to fully appreciate the movie.) It was surprisingly clean and the music wasn't too bad. I have to see the movie again as soon as possible -- and I need to find another person to practice Jack Black's rockin' handshake with me.