Monday, October 31, 2005

Party Pics!!

Tres amigos - Johnny Cash, Captain Mad Jack MacMadd, and Ellie May the farmer's daughter
(you know, from the traveling salesman jokes...)
Who needs a church key to open a beer when you've got Wolvie at the party??
Steve pimped out as the Kingpin. They say that Kingpin is one baaad mutha -
Although Brian is a Roman Emperor, he has a little Captain in him...
The Liger that savaged Red Riding Hood didn't attack Napoleon Dynamite, because he's pretty good with a bo staff...

Halloween Scariness

I debated whether or not to post on this subject. But the way I see it, it's a key part of the widda experience, and should be talked about. Besides, Lisa already talked about her back-in-the-saddle experiences over on her blog (see Nothing Good About Grief), and that's given me some courage. And I can discuss it in abstract, non-specific terms so as not to offend.

So Friday was the weekly RPG session with the guys. Allan couldn't make it, but Mike, Jordan, Ron and I had a blast. Lots of humor, bad puns, good food, a bit of cerebral adventure. Felt like we were channelling our buddy Hans, who used to be the life of any game, but who has resided in San Diego working for Sony for the past few years. He is a painfully-missed member of the comedy team.

Saturday, both kids went to their respective sleepovers. LA arrived, followed by Caleb, and the three of us trekked north to the Comic Stop for their costume party. I was a pirate, Caleb was Johnny Cash, LA went as a cowgirl (great belt buckle, BTW). Steve (Kingpin), JD (Wolverine), Brian M. (Nero), George (Lex Luthor) and James Taylor (himself) were there - the inker and comic mogul James Taylor, not the singer-songwriter. Casey Jones from the Mutant Turtles was also in attendance, as well as Napoleon Dynamite and Red Riding Hood (after the wolf got through with her). There were also the requisite jedi and miscellaneous theme costumes. Seattle rockers M-Set played live. There was beer, pizza, Halloween candy and geekery. It was fun.

And, if I can put this in the most clinical, abstract terms possible, later on there was the first physical intimacy I've had with anyone since Sam. Anyone other than Sam, actually, unless you count mouth-kissing with my first-grade girlfriend or slow-dance groping with my junior high prom date (which I don't). Now this kind of thing always has a tendency to create drama in a relationship, especially where there isn't technically a relationship. But it was a very positive experience. For one thing, it was good to know everything still worked, and I didn't have to look at the instructions again. Like riding a bike, for lack of a better metaphor. For another, it felt so good to be wanted. I haven't felt that in a long time, since Sam & I weren't able to have that really passionate intimacy for the last several months of her life.

We've agreed that we will cool off the physical interactions for the time being, since I'm still not in a place where I can offer an emotional attachment to go with the physical. I've never been this compartmentalized in my thinking. I was always that sappy sex-equals-love guy. This must be one of the self defense reactions that comes with the experience, being able to pick up a fragment and examine it without having it affect any of the other pieces. She, however, is not wired the same way, and I totally understand that she needs the emotional factor from me in order to proceed. But since I still can't give that (and she is well aware of that fact), we need to step back to the platonic side of the fence. And that's okay.

I feel we can do that. We're consenting adults who had a good time. Nobody cheated on anyone. Nobody did anything they didn't want to do. It felt totally natural and positive. And my respect for her is not diminished in the least. In fact, the converse is true. She is very kind and respectful of the path I walk. No matter what happens, I will always be grateful for what she has done for me in my healing process. I hope to maintain a close friendship, whatever that ends up looking like.

So... on with life.

The next two months are incredibly busy for me. I have meetings every day this week, including my producer on Duo. I have about 4 projects being juggled currently, although Ordinary Angels can be scratched off the list. Pending revisions, the script is done. November 4th, I have lunch with a friend of the family, a recent addition to the cancer widower club. November 11th would have been Sam's & my 21st relationship anniversary. November 12th marks 7 months since Sam died. The week of Thanksgiving, I'm taking the kids on a road trip to California to visit friends and family, and have T-day with Sam's folks. December is holiday madness all month long, and the first Christmas without Samantha in my life since 1983. I expect it'll be empty for the kids without their mom. I know it'll be empty without my dad.

Dreary Seattle fall day... thank goodness I have some M-Set to listen to.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sailboat Races

I had a dream about my dad last night.

More specifically, it was a dream in which he was the central subject, however I never saw him. It seemed to be more about my stepmom, in all honesty. The basic setting was along the California coast, in Santa Cruz where I lived from ages 8 to 16. My dad was apparently sailing in a race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, and was in radio communication with my stepmom, who I guess was in a chase boat with her brothers.

I kept getting calls from my stepmom on my cell phone, even though I could hear my dad's voice just fine over the radio... the radio I didn't have. But I could hear him. He was working hard for his team. He was giving me play-by-play commentary. Or rather, he was giving out the commentary and it was like I could hear it on a scanner. I couldn't radio back, couldn't communicate with him. But I could hear him fine.

I just kept climbing around the cliffs that overlooked the ocean, searching for signs of my dad's boat, which never came within visual range. At one point, my stepmom called me on the cell, telling me what was going on with Dad. I told her I knew because I could hear him on the radio, and she didn't need to use her cellular plan minutes to basically repeat what he was saying and doing. She said she'd been taking pictures of the race from the chase boat, and that Dad's boat was in the lead in the home stretch. Then I saw her chase boat - it came in extremely close to the cliffs, and she saw me and raised her camera to take my picture. In doing so, she almost lost her balance and toppled overboard, but was hauled back by one of her brothers.

The meaning seems pretty clear to me. I still feel connected to my dad even though he's not visible to me, and I feel like sometimes my stepmom gets distracted by focusing on what's going on with me, and forgets her own precarious state. At least, that's how I interpret it.

For some reason this post was harder to write than I thought it would be. A lot of the time I'm very preoccupied by the loss of Sam. Today, I really miss my father.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


This sucks. It seems like all I've been doing is finding fault with corporate cogs and complaining about it. The Nokia thing was just the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday I sat in traffic for an hour and a half to go up to Northgate to the title company - supposedly for signing the paperwork on my refi. But the docs that came through were completely botched. I won't go into the details, but it was not the deal the mortgage officer and I had agreed on. To her credit, she copped to the error and had a new set of docs drawn up. The title company had to courier the docs to my home late yesterday, and are couriering (is that even a word?) them back today. However there were still other sins of omission, and the whole thing has left me drained and on edge - and cancelling part of the loan.

What is it about widowhood that has hardened me to the workaday drone culture and made me even less likely to suffer fools? I think I probably just answered my own question. I mean, Samantha and I were always gracious, even when confronted with overt incompetence, be it in a financial institution, service or bureaucracy. But now I feel like I want heads to roll. I paid more for a phone upgrade on PRINCIPLE than it would have cost to just replace the generic USB cable with the manufacturer brand. WTF?! Do I need to find fault and punish the faulty because of some wacky sense of vengeance or whatever? Am I so hypersensitive to the fact that I'm flying solo - that I no longer have Samantha watching my back - that I have to go on the offensive in order to avoid being taken advantage of? The loan officer at my mortgage company apologized profusely for the way this had run, and I didn't stop her once. I just let her grovel. And although I feel somewhat vindicated (and that there were legitimate problems with the process that I had the right to be angry about), it really doesn't change anything.

Except that now I feel like a complete dick.

In other news, Tyler's homeroom teacher dropped by to tell me how much of an improvement he's seeing. And Kayleigh surprised me by plucking out the first part of the guitar solo on Tapestry on her little electric guitar. I'm coninuously blown away by these kids - when they're not killing each other or conspiring against me with the dog, they're just about the coolest human beings on the planet.

Feeling slightly overwhelmed at the mo. House is a mess, despite how often I clean up. Gilda's group tonight. That'll be interesting. Guess I just need to hold on for the ride.

Monday, October 24, 2005

New Kia, But No New Nokia...

So the new Nokia 6102 cell phone I got takes pictures. Neat. Except when trying to send them to my email address, the email comes through without the picture attached. So I get on the phone with Nokia customer service. "Hmmm, this is strange. We haven't had any complaints with this phone regarding picture transfer..." Yes, but this model has been out for like FIVE MINUTES, as everyone keeps telling me. "I can help you. Let me just... oh wait. We don't appear to have the manual for this phone in the call center yet. Did I mention it's a really new model?" So I get transferred to tech service, and a guy starts a trouble ticket for me, says the techs working on the issue will be calling me several times over the next couple days to resolve the problem.

That was Wednesday. Nothin'. Crickets.

So I decide maybe I can circumvent the problem by direct dumping to my computer via USB cable. Unfortunately, I made the tragic error of buying a 3rd party cable for $25, thinking foolishly that it would do what it said it would do. Lo and behold, the cable worked fine. My box saw a USB device on the other end. But the Nokia PC software suite (which is supposed to install the drivers and whatnot), just sat there and glared at me because I wasn't using a freakin' NOKIA BRAND CABLE.

Or at least that's what the tech said when I again called Nokia customer service. But he was quite happy to sell me the $50 cable, which he could not guarantee would work better than the $25 generic cable.

So by this point, I've had it with Nokia's less-than-stellar service. The hardware itself is great - it's a really good phone. But do I want to deal with a manufacturer who is certainly hot to push out new products but has no support for them?? On principle, I return the $25 cable to Radio Shack, return the Nokia 6102 to my local Cingular store (where the same two guys always give us great service), and upgrade to a new Motorola V551 with Bluetooth.

I just have to say this...

Hello, Moto.

The guy at the Cingular store very patiently puts his own SIM chip into my new phone so it will operate, while I send the pictures from my old phone to my new phone. I go to CompUSA and get a $30 USB Bluetooth adapter and install the Bluetooth software.

In less than 10 minutes of getting home, my phone and my computer are talking, and I copy the photos off the phone, and transfer a custom .mp3 ringtone to the phone. The ringtone is an a cappella snippet of Samantha's vocals from Devil's Lullaby.

So a big cupping of the crotch to Nokia's customer service, and kudos to Motorola, the guys at the Cingular store, and Bluetooth technology.

Next time, something of substance, I promise.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Undead Undead Undead

Today's title comes from a lyric in the classic goth anthem "Bela Lugosi is Dead", by the proto-goth band Bauhaus. Formed in England in 1978, they released 4 albums and a bunch of singles, many of which charted in the UK and made them one of the most influential rock bands in recent history. They appeared in the Tony Scott vampire romance The Hunger (with David Bowie, Susan Sarandon & Catherine Deneuve), playing this trademark theme song in the nightclub opening. As is so often the case, the candle that burns brightest burns half as long, and the act broke up in 1983, the year before I got into them. I did have the fortune of seeing 3/4 of the band in their incarnation as Love & Rockets, once in 1986 opening for Siouxie & the Banshees, and once in 1987 with Jane's Addiction opening for them. But I was always kind of sorry I never had the chance to see the original Bauhaus do their thing onstage.

Last night, I got that chance.

I will start by saying the show probably lacked the intensity of drug-fueled, frenetic early '80s goth wackiness (as evident in a 1982 concert video I have), however I personally found it far more satisfying that all four guys are much better musicians, play more tightly and rock HARDER now than they ever did previously. I kept forgetting that all these guys are pushing 50, and with the exception of vocalist Peter Murphy (who has never exactly presented the picture of health), none of them look like they've aged in 20 years.

The show kicked off with guitarist Daniel Ash striding onto the stage in big boots and a sleeveless leather trenchcoat, with his mirror-finish electric (one of his more famous Love & Rockets axes), cranking out the riffs to "Burning From the Inside", the title track to their final studio album. He was joined by Murphy, who growled out the words like they'd just been written. They were then joined by bassist David J. and drummer Kevin Haskins, two brothers who form one of the tightest rhythm sections in rock. The lights were VERY well done, combining pin spots, floating follow spots, red and white strobes and yes, even rotating gobos! The sound was LOUD, which is why I brought latex earplugs for my crew. With the plugs, the sound was good, and David's bass kept vibrating my ribcage. It tickled.

Murphy no longer swings from curtains and twirls like a demented pixie. But he's still rail thin and can strike those pensive poses with the best of them. Heck, aside from Bowie, this guy invented quite a few of those poses the youngsters use today. His thinning hair is now bleached blonde, and he sported a black 1930s classic look - slacks and a high cut jacket. Ash looks pretty buff - I guess living in LA has given him some biceps and a bit of a tan. J. still has the blonde bowl cut and shades, dressed in a black turtleneck and trousers with his ubiquitous fretless bass. Haskins was hard to see buried in his drum kit, but my field glasses revealed the same intense, almost eerie concentration in his intricate drumming.

I can't recall the exact order of the set list, but they did at least the following (forgive me if I've missed any): "Burning From the Inside", "God in an Alcove", "The Man With X-Ray Eyes", "In Fear of Fear" (which had Ash running around the stage abusing a saxophone), "Kick in the Eye", "Hair of the Dog", "Terror Couple Kill Colonel", "Hollow Hills", "Silent Hedges", "In the Flat Field", "Stigmata Martyr", "She's in Parties", "Rose Garden Funeral of Sores", "The Passion of Lovers", "Swing the Heartache", and "Dark Entries". For their first encore, they did "Slice of Life" and "Telegram Sam", and their final encore consisted of all 9+ minutes of "Bela Lugosi is Dead".

My only disappointments were that they didn't do "Spirit", my favorite track of theirs, nor did they do their famous cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust". But I have to say I was satisfied with the range of material from across their four albums. And I was struck by, despite how minimalist their arrangements always were, how intricate their music turns out to be. And, if I can pretend to be Stephen Colbert for a moment, possessed of some serious "rockitude" (which is a combination of rocking and attitude).

The Paramount is an old 1920s movie palace, and I've had the good fortune to have seen Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins there. I went to the show with LA, Caleb and Miriah. LA had heard of Bauhaus previously, and schooled herself with a crash course via compilation CD and former goth friends. Caleb, 22, was born the year they split up, but has felt their influence in the alternative rock that he grew up with (he also has a healthy respect for antiquity, which is why I keep him around). Miriah, 18, is a rabid Bowie fan, and went into this pretty much blind, except for said compilation CD and some historical perspective from me. All four of us left happy. The audience was full of 30 and 40-something goths and former goths (art rockers, shoegazers, whatever), and you could tell they all had a relaxed vibe and sense of humor about their history. The T-shirt kiosk took credit cards, there was no opening act, the band went on at 8:10 and played for 2 hours. We were home by 10:30.

It was the perfect rock show for Creepy Old Guy and His Friends. I just wish Sam could have been there to see it with me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lost and Found

Been battling another headache. I'm not taking care of myself. It's the return of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), an all-too-common condition in the PacNW. No wonder we have such a thriving goth and fetish community in Seattle - it's dark outside and there's nothing to do.

I was going through some piles in the office and ran across a roll of photos I'd recently had developed. Among the pics was a shot one of the kids had snapped of Sam at the dining table on some lazy, grubby Saturday morning in about 2002, pre-diagnosis. At least that's my best guess. No date stamps on these. She's wearing her red paisley stretchpants and her black T-shirt that says INDIAN TERRITORY with a picture of the entire western hemisphere (a gift from our friend Mike S.). The ones where she's bald and looking like a renegade from a George Romero movie set don't bother me as much, because that's my most recent frame of reference. That's the battle. That's the reality of death-by-cancer. But the photos where she's healthy looking and happy make me sad, because her body is already sabotaging itself and she has no clue. Neither of us saw it coming. 35 year old women don't get the kind of cancer that shows up in 65 year old males.

Had a really good day yesterday. Found a jacket at Target (I own a half-dozen sweatshirts and a winter parka, but no jacket). Then I went down to the local family-owned computer shop and ordered my new business workstation, then took Kayleigh to dance class and walked across the street to the Cingular store, where I picked up a new cell phone for the business. Came home to find notification that the Triskelle CD had gone up for sale. Christmas in October! Sweet!

Today feels quite a bit more dominated by a sense of ennui. And the headache is probably caffeine withdrawal. See, I'm a terrible addict. I don't treat caffeine with any respect whatsoever. Some days I can have 2 mochas, some days a black tea, other days nothing at all. And I don't drink soda. It's so random I think my body works up an addiction and then throttles me when I blithely go a day or two without any. Gee, why do I have this nagging headache? Go figure. At least it's not the battle Caleb is fighting with nicotine. Go, C! You're freakin' Superman!

No group for me tonight. I just don't have the energy. Like pouring alcohol in an open wound, it'll disinfect the tissue and make healing easier in the long run, but it hurts like hell. Actually, it's much more like a good old fashioned Scottish wound-searing. 1) Remove arrow or other foreign object; 2) Drink a lot of whiskey; 3) Press red-hot iron into wound; 4) Scream like you've never screamed before, pound the douchebag who stuck you with a red-hot iron (preferably over the head with the bottle of scotch). There. Your wound is cauterized and can scar over with less chance of infection.

Now aren't you glad you read my blog today? It's so educational!

Monday, October 17, 2005

More Dreams

Actually had a dream with Sam in it this last weekend. Couldn't tell you what the context was - I was just happy to see her again. She appeared much younger in this one, about 21 or 22.

Woke up at 5AM again, closed my eyes for what seemed like an instant, and the clock had skipped ahead to 7AM and the CD was playing. Weird. I guess temporal/spatial anomalies are de rigeur for widdas.

On the way back from the chiro, I thought I'd do a nice deed and grab some coffee for my neighbor Darlene, who often watches my kids when I need to be somewhere. So I dropped it off (to her utter surprise), and went back to my car. The moment I put it into gear, the carry-tray from Starbucks I'd placed on the passenger floor for stability upended, soaking the floormat in caramel mocha. I guess the new rig has been christened. I knew I couldn't keep it pristine forever. And, hey, it's almost been a whole month! Sheesh.

Aaaaanyway, not much to report for now. It's a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of week. Did some dishes and laundry, got some more work done on Ordinary Angels. I'll probably post once or twice this week, and Friday night is Bauhaus at the Paramount! Thanks Randy!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

She Runs Away

You may not see the end of it
But luckily she comes around
It isn't what she talks about
It's just the way she is

(...and she says)
"Ooh darlin' don't you know
The darkness comes and the darkness goes"
(she says)
"Ooh babe why don't you let it go?
Happiness aint never how you think it should be so"

I mystified the simple life
I covered up with consciousness
I saw myself and broke it down
'Til nothing more was left
She saw the symptoms right away
And spoke to me in poetry
"Sometimes the more you wonder why
The worse it seems to get"

(...and she says)
"Ooh darlin' don't you know
The darkness comes and the darkness goes"
(she says)
"Ooh babe why don't you let it go?
Happiness aint never how you think it should be so"
She runs away
She runs away...

And then you know there comes a time
You need her more than anything
You may believe yours are the wounds
That only she can heal
Then everything will turn around
And she becomes so serious
What she chose to offer you
Was all that you could have

(...and she says)
"Ooh darlin' don't you know
The darkness comes and the darkness goes"
(she says)
"Ooh babe why don't you let it go?
Happiness aint never how you think it should be so"
She runs away

- Duncan Sheik

Had my quaintly-termed "alumni" group last night. Brought the laptop and showed the 4-minute LifeAbridged movie with my music to the group. Cried more in that group than I ever have in public... EVER. Marking an anniversary of death (at least for me) makes you go back and experience those last few hours all over again - and that is not time I necessarily ever want to relive. Don't get me wrong - it was an honor that Sam chose me to share her life and her death. Given the circumstances, I can't say I'd change anything. It was an honor to walk her to the threshold of whatever happens next. And I acknowledge the incredible gift that gave me: perspective. Because all that mundane crap the majority of people seem to think is so important means nothing. Nothing life throws at me from this moment on can intimidate or scare me - I held my wife as she took her last breath, and a month later hugged my father goodbye for the last time. And at the risk of sounding like a raving egomaniac, since I'm still breathing and raising two children on my own, I guess that makes me a fucking titan.

Lots of anger being shared in the group last night. We all have the common quality of having been caregivers for a terminally ill person. A person that would never be able to show any kind of gratitude or reciprocate for all that we did. Selfishly, I thought Sam would pull through, and that she would be there to take care of me when my health failed. I mean let's face it - we ALL will fail at some point. And the lucky ones will have family and close friends who will go to the wall for them. The luckier ones will have a spouse or partner who knows their soul, and who would stay and do whatever needed to be done no matter how incapacitated they became, or how many times they had to change the bedding and wipe up their shit.

I have no doubt that when my time comes, I will have the friendships I've worked hard to foster throughout my life - I will have friends at my side. And I'm pretty sure my kids won't leave me in a ditch somewhere. But I really wanted that insurance, that trump card, that bastion of strength that only a soulmate, a life-partner... a wife... can provide.

In other news, my dog Wiley is the only dog I've ever met who can do a Chevy Chase pratfall while cleaning himself. What the hell, dog? It's not like you aren't already sitting on the damn floor. Ah well. He's comic relief. Which is good, because I tend to brood and listen to depressing, angsty music throughout the majority of the day, and a little random mirth keeps me from carving my wrists up with an X-acto knife.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Six Months

Six Months ago today, at 5AM, Samantha passed away. I'd never been present at the death of a human being before that moment, so I have little basis for comparison, but I guess it was peaceful, as death goes. Well, no. No it really wasn't. For three hours her body clung onto life. Her lungs strained to take in breath. Her heart beat strongly. This was a young woman who did not want to die, and who had no business dying at this stage in her life. I've written previously about what I saw as the travesty of a human body shutting down piecemeal like that. One infected organ is all it takes to start a chain reaction. And in her case, the liver was key. Had the liver survived, it would not have poisoned the brain with toxic ammonia levels, which then would not have shut down her other systems.

And all that is very technical and clinical and doesn't change the fact that for three hours I sat by her side and watched helplessly as her body killed itself. I think that was the true horror - not being able to do anything. I considered several times calling 911 and getting her hospital care. But then I remembered how the surgery to remove her infected port had really sapped what little strength she had left. The two considerations that kept me from dialing those three numbers were:

1) Sam's oncologist had thrown in the towel. He had remained hopeful up until the last couple months, but then he'd been very realistic and told us in no uncertain terms that she wasn't going to last long, and that no amount of care in a hospital was going to change that.

2) At one point about a week prior to her passing, I'd told Sam, "any time you want to go to the hospital, you just let me know." To which she gave a look as if to say what are you, crazy? and replied, "Heck no. You're giving me the best care I've ever had."

For the month or so after she died, I wondered if I'd done the right thing. Then my dad died in the hospital, with every intervention under the sun - something he said he didn't want - and I knew I'd spared Samantha that final indignity. I guess that should be of some consolation. I did give her comfort, love, dignity and a hand to hold all the way to the door. And I did my best to give my dad the same.

Was down all evening yesterday with a migrane. Never got them until my mid to late 20s, and only 3 times or so a year. After Sam was diagnosed, I could count on one showing up at least once a month (and maybe staying for two or three days). One was so severe Sam took me to the ER where they gave me a shot of Imitrex that made my head feel like it had transformed into a Hawaiian volcano god. Then I read that the drug had been implicated in cases of heart failure and declined to fill the prescription. Exploding heart, not so much, thanks. I kept them in check with a combination of diet, exercise, chiropractic, massage and Excedrin. They declined in frequency and severity after Sam passed away, but still manage to sneak up on me if I don't keep up with the first 4 deterrents. Seems to be better today.

Woke up at 4AM to Wiley whuffing and whining in the spot where Sam's hospice bed had been (which is directly over my bed downstairs). Put on the headphones and brought up the mp3 random playlist on the laptop (which I generally keep next to the bed).

First song, And Tears Fell - Devil's Lullaby (one of our songs currently undergoing re-recording for the tribute CD).
And should you fall,
One winter's day
The angels and devils
Around us surround us
And take your soul away

Next song, Echo & The Bunnymen - The Killing Moon.
In starlit nights I saw you
So cruelly you kissed me
Your lips a magic world
Your sky all hung with jewels
The killing moon
Will come too soon

Next song, Brendan Perry - The Captive Heart
But then if I close my eyes
I can see you standing there
Your face in permanence smiles
Your lips a chalice
Seems like I've loved you all my life
Never thought I'd find you
One day the muse may lend these words wings
So I can touch you

Next song, Sarah Shannon - I'll Run Away
Two thousand miles and a day since I left my home
I watch the sun leave the sky as I sit here alone
Nothing to do - I don't care, I don't care, I don't care
Just watching beautiful time pass by without you there

Next song, And Tears Fell - Fire Inside (another of the works in progress)
I never thought you'd run away like that
I always thought we'd be together
I never dreamed that it could hurt so much
I always thought I'd take it better

Okay honey. Thanks for checking in. I love you.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Dawn of the Slacker

Well I woke up this morning... (blues riff here)

That's it, really. Jeez, such a clever opening and... nuthin'. What a rip off!

Came upstairs to find everything tinted the color of orange sherbet. Still a bit groggy, of course - could be my eyes going wonky after years of sitting too close to the television and 8 years in the videogame industry, staring at color pallettes on a CRT monitor. Let Wiley out of his kennel and took him to the back door to let him out for his morning business. Opened the door to the most beautiful sunrise EVAR. Beautiful pink and orange clouds strewn across a light blue sky, sun just coming up, front-lighting the autumn trees. It was like a freakin' Bob Ross painting ("Here's a happy little cloud right here...").

It occurs to me I haven't posted in over a week, but it's not due to disinterest, just to a generally busy state of being. Been working on Arrowflight 2nd Edition, the Ordinary Angels screenplay, and finishing up some music.

On that front, the master for Impetus - Triskelle just went out, due to some last minute tweaking and the addition of the final track. The piece just poured out of me one afternoon as I was writing the very sparse dialogue in a scene from Ordinary Angels where a terminally ill woman is dying in her husband's arms and Cadmiel, one of the angel characters, leans in to whisper in the woman's ear, which begins the active dying process. As you can imagine, it's kind of a strong scene, and very close to home. But this beautiful acoustic guitar riff came to me and I assembled the track in about 3 hours. Called it Whispered the Angel, and knew it had to go on Triskelle. The following morning, I put it behind a 4-minute montage of photos and video clips from Sam's life. Easier to send friends in a chat window than a 30-minute DVD. And even a bit more powerful - the fact that it's Samantha's life condensed into 4 minutes.

Went to lunch again with LA, had a good time, showed her both Sam's and my dad's memorial DVDs. What a trooper. Took my folks to the airport - they're having a great time visiting old friends in England, going to Paris for a bit too.

This last Saturday I took Muriel over to Brian Chase's studio to meet him and get her comfortable in the studio setting. She's singing several of the songs that are going on the And Tears Fell tribute CD. The simple introduction turned into her actually singing some placeholder vocals on two songs, which now allows Brian and I (and other musicians) to layer in more instrumentation. All the time I was sitting there listening to Muriel's amazing voice and wondering "does Sam approve of this?", because while Muriel has a really great voice, it's so very much NOT Sam, and our sound was really defined to a great extent by Sam's voice.

But I remembered this is a tribute to Sam, not us trying to re-create her vocal style. Muriel had known Sam since she was 14 and Sam was 30. They had a big sister/little sister thing going on. This is done with the best of loving intent, and yes, Sam would approve. Besides, my guitar work is better now than it was back in the day, and we're no longer restricted to lo-fi analog recording equipment and limiting media like TAPE. Muriel's vocals sound like an unholy crossbreeding of Natalie Merchant and Johnette Napolitano - really haunting. I guess to compare, Sam's voice had more of a classical-to-pop quality, and Muriel's is more jazzy/bluesy.

It's all good.

Sunday we drove the new rig up to Bellingham for a nice afternoon visit with my grandparents. I'm very lucky to have my mom's folks still here, sharp as tacks and in possession of their own teeth. My grandfather turns 89 next month. There's a ton of family history being written down now, thank heavens.

Came home, threw together dinner, and riffed on some CD cover art for the And Tears Fell project. Settled on the idea of featuring a rose photo that Samantha took on Vancouver Island in 1986 when we drove up to the World Expo. The rest is about a dozen layers of texture to create a kind of 23 Envelope vibe. I was a big fan of their album cover design work for 4AD Records; it was a big inspiration for Samantha & I in our music.

So that's where it sits now. Tune in again later. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Just Keeps Going... And Going...

So this week has been a nonstop orgy of schedules, milestones and activities. It's a biggie, but bear with me...

Tuesday - Took Kayleigh to get ballet slippers and tap shoes, then to dance class. Not a huge deal. Got me primed for each day getting a bit more busy.

Wednesday - Took the kids to school, picked up my brother and headed to Shoreline to shop cars. See, my late grandfather's estate dropped a sudden, one-time-only gift in the laps of each of my dad's children, thanks to my aunt, uncle and grandmother. It couldn't have come at a better time. The '92 Sable was about to become one of those "old car money pits", especially since the radiator cracked back in '03 and leaked coolant into the engine. Since then I've been getting crappy mileage and crappy performance, despite our local greasemonkeys doing everything mechanically possible (short of replacing the engine). Sam's Taurus wagon blew the tranny on the trip down to Oregon, and was basically hauled away for parts.

So here I am, a single father of two with a limited income and a failing car, no way to afford payments on even a crappy used car (which would be no better a solution than sinking money into the Sable). Yet here was this magical means of buying a new, reliable car with a full warranty for cash. It felt like Grandpa Ken came back to Earth to help me out this one last time.

After much research and a lot of test driving, I settled on the Kia Sportage - you know, the commercial with each person driving it somewhere and then throwing the keys to the next person. It's the overhauled new design built on the Hyundai Tucson/Elantra chassis. Not so much a small SUV as a sport wagon. Thing is shorter than a sedan, yet has amazing space inside, like a Dr. Who TARDIS. 4-cylinder 5-speed stick, good horsepower for the size of the engine, ABS, traction/stability control, front, side and curtain airbags all standard. Excellent passenger/cargo space, and 21-28 mpg (way better than the Sable, which is a really good thing as gas prices keep climbing). Has the Hyundai warranty too: 10yrs/100,000mi powertrain, 5yr bumper-to-bumper, 5yr roadside assistance and 6yr corrosion (a nice feature in Seattle). Got a great deal and excellent treatment from Chuck Olson Chevrolet/Kia in Shoreline (plug plug). Did the deal, but the exact rig I wanted was on a lot in Oregon and had to be brought up. 37 years old, and just bought my first new car. Go me.

Went to my Gilda's group that night. Met a woman who was roughly my age, had been high school/college sweethearts with her husband, lost him to the same cancer Samantha had, over a similar course of treatment. Has a 4yo girl. Brought back a ton of stuff for me, emotionally. Go figure.

Thursday - 15th wedding anniversary. The tormented blog entries are below. It was a rough day from the get-go. Could not stop crying... and it wasn't the break-down-sobbing kind... more like a constant stomach ache and saline drip leaking from the eyes. Decided I'd put it off long enough and went out to get inked that evening. Well, I tried anyway. When I got out to my car, I discovered my left front tire was flat, and the tire shop around the corner was closed. Message received - take a friend. So I called Caleb for a ride and he took me to Admiral Tattoo (plug plug), where a very friendly veteran artist proceeded to transfer the winged heart that was Samantha's symbol to my right calf. Yes, it hurt. And something about the physical pain became a catharsis for all the emotional agony I'd been feeling that day (and for the last 5 - 1/2 months). It was another milestone. When it was over, Caleb & I went around the corner to the Admiral Pub and shared a pitcher of Mack & Jack's Ale. And when I say we shared the pitcher, I mean Caleb had a glass, and I had the rest. In about 15 minutes. So needless to say, my leg didn't hurt too much. Put the kids to bed and crashed hard.

Friday - Kayleigh's 8th birthday. Up at 5:30AM, made breakfast. Got the kids up and moving, then drove around the corner on the Sable's alloy rim to get the tire replaced. They hooked me up and I was off - to the store to get cupcakes for Kayleigh's class celebration. Took the kids to school for the last time in the Sable. Forgot to go to the chiropractor. Met up with Erik and Caleb and went to check out Serenity. LOVED it, but then I loved the short-lived Firefly TV series upon which the film is based. Got home and cleaned for half an hour. Kids got home, piled them into the car and picked up my brother. Headed up to Shoreline to pick up the new rig. Bye bye Sable, hello Sportage (which Caleb has decreed we must pronounce with a French accent, i.e. spor-taaj, so we can drive the Spor-taaj to Tar-jaay). Got down to the Northgate Red Robin for a birthday dinner with my stepmom and our whole car load. Of course, being a Friday night, it was completely mad in there. We just managed to finish, drop my brother at home and get back to the house before the guys got there for our weekly game night. Put the kids down around 10PM, the guys left about midnight, I finally got to bed at 1:AM... Long day.

Today was actually a holiday in comparison! Got Tyler to Aikido, then grabbed some lunch with the kids. My stepmom picked up Kayleigh this afternoon for a dinner-and-ballet outing, just the two of them. Tyler and I took the Spor-taaj to Tar-jaay and got prezzies for Kayleigh's party tomorrow... when I get to host a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party with 5 eight-year-old girls and a bored boy of 11.

I am a leaf on the wind.