Month: March 2015

Maintainance and Placation

I think I mentioned before that show season is a very busy time of year.  As such it’s been ten days since my last post.  The majority of that time has been spent working very long hours in Atlanta and then Athens, Georgia.   The upside is the paycheck that will come from it.  The downside is the near total lack of social or any other sort of life outside of work.  It’s a season, only a few weeks out of the year, after which it becomes easier to balance living with working.  In the meantime though, it can take it’s toll and sometimes in unexpected ways.

This is the awesome sort of communication show season is made of...

This is the awesome sort of communication show season is made of…

Communication has evolved a lot over the last few decades and it makes staying in touch when long distances away much easier than previous generations.  However, with that evolution has come what I like to refer to as “connection maintenance”.  Essentially it’s that infrequent check-in that says “Hey!  I still think of you sometimes so we’re still connected and should hang out.”  Over the years I’ve used it to maintain a number of connections of varying nature with a fair amount of success.  No casual relationship (essentially, any non-committed relationship) should be forced into communication requirements.  But there’s a flip-side to that too.  What happens when all your communication becomes maintenance?

Over years people grow apart.  Interests change, situations change, people change.  Because of that, relationships of all sorts require work, or maintenance to keep from breaking down.  But like anything, as time continues to wear on those connections, a little more than just maintenance becomes necessary.  The problem with solely maintaining a relationship is that over time the personal touch dissolves.  Sure you text regularly or exchange dirty snapchats, but all the while personal familiarity is diminishing.  Technology cannot imitate all the subtle, subconscious messages that pass between people and it cannot reinforce the personal connection that develops when you spend time with somebody.  It can slow the process if used properly, but ultimately the only way to keep such a connection going strong is to actually connect – in person.   There is no better way to communicate, and no better way to relate to another person.  And though this most certainly applies in terms of physical relationships, I also speak of friendships that can be forged and reinforced through hours spent talking over coffee, wine, great food or netflix binging.

"You again!?"

“You again!?”

What’s more dangerous is when maintenance turns to placation.  Over time, as connections diminish it’s very easy to fall into a mentality where you simply humor or do what you feel you need to in order to appease your relationship with somebody.  You don’t really care, but instead of talking about it, you respond out of some outdated feeling of obligation to whatever you were before.  But it doesn’t work like that.  Almost everyone knows when they get to that level.  When a connection who once really cared obviously no longer does, physical visits basically disappear (as do the attempts to plan them) and their messages become robotic, thoughtless and eventually non-existent.  As the connection continues to erode, you never hear from them unless you instigate communication and even then your attempts often go ignored.   Attempts to connect personally are thoughtlessly and ambiguously agreed to, but plans are never made and if group plans are made, they probably won’t show for you.  We’ve all been there, I’ve seen it happen cycle after cycle and have always accepted it as another finite example of life.

There has to BE a relationship first...

There has to BE a relationship first…

But this time something is bothering me.  Before, I was a bad guy and frankly when you’re the villain, you lose people.  It’s a selfish and self-destructive path that naturally pushes people away.  Lies and betrayal can utterly destroy some of the strongest connections, and even those that remain are changed forever.  But this last time, I was alright.  I certainly haven’t been the most moral person in the world and I never will be, but I feel like for the most part I did good by the people I called my friends and connected with.  So then, when
those connections began to diminish and my attempts to maintain them were ignored, I developed a major dislike for this situation.  For the first time in as long as I can remember, I began to take being ignored personally.  Further, even those who didn’t ignore me were simply placating me out of some long-passed loyalty or connection they once felt.  I realized I really hated being ignored or placated.  Not necessarily because those connections were fading, but because some of those I was once connected with didn’t have the heart or personal strength to talk to me about it and admit it.  It’s frustrating when people that you used to feel important to act as if you’re no longer important enough to even discuss the state of your connection with you.  They’d rather mindlessly respond or simply ignore me and get on with their lives. It feels weak to me… and I don’t like weakness (especially my own!)

Eventually I realized that being sensitive about it only made it worse and came to terms with it, but it’s a sad thing to simply watch connections you might like to keep diminish.  In some cases it seems it’s meant to be and that’s not to say that some won’t return stronger one day.  But I submit to you that it’s a good idea to pay attention to the connections you have now in whatever form and decide which ones you want to do a little more than maintain.  Some relationships are worth keeping, nurturing and investing in so that they remain through the cycles and grow stronger.  Even after we leave this world, some of those connections remain in the form of memories and legacies they create.  Sometimes, with a little more than just maintenance, relationships really can last forever.

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Immortals

**Note: I wrote this almost exactly one year ago before I had this blog.  When I came across it again I wanted to share because it still rings true.**

Regardless of your spiritual or scientific belief, the truth of this world is that nothing ever actually ends. It is fact that nothing ever simply ceases to be, but instead changes. Your mentality, state, form, mind or even spirit can all change to the point that you may not even be recognizable, but you did not end; you changed.

Further, if you trace back through the line of your past, before you were even conceived, you existed (through your parents and their ancestors) as some form of matter and/or energy that has taken a journey since the beginning of time to become you. Your current form is the culmination of that journey, and when you pass on the journey continues. It does not end, it *never* ends. It just changes.

So when you take a look at your world, try to make the scope as big as you can. Literal and nearly impossible miracles have occurred for you to be the unique entity that you are, made (quite literally) out of celestial star matter and energy that has specifically changed form to become the person you are, reading this now.

It’s easy to let that make you feel small, but that’s a mistake. You owe it to the process that started when time began to make the most of every moment of this chapter, to make the most progress that you can so the future forms of your matter can be that much more developed or enlightened. Those are your children. That is your energy and your infinity.

Make the most of it.

A Week On the West Side

Show season is upon us.  In the business of creative communications it means that my boss (the CEO) has a lot for me to do. Unfortunately that means my chances to post are much less frequent, but on the upside the travel makes for some interesting stories and adventures.

2015-03-05 11.31.02So I spent a week on the west side of Washington state.  Mostly in Bellevue where our show was and then with a bit of touring.  The show was a typical mix of crazy circumstances and long hours that make up nearly every live production.  Though our sleep suffered, everything came together in the end and the client and audience were both pleased and impressed.  When everything was said and done, I was running off about twelve hours of sleep over four days, one of which involved a heavy night of drinking and dance.  Yes, dance.

So it was that we had a later call-time the next day (which my boss eventually sabotaged for me… more on that later) and found ourselves bar-hopping in downtown Bellevue.  Among our stops was a Karaoke bar called Stone, in which I encountered a strange, tall man standing before me and crossing his arms.  For a moment I thought I might have to fight somebody, but then I realized this was my High School best friend’s little brother.  I had literally known him since he was eight.  Now, he was huge and apparently helped run this bar.  Unfortunately we decided to leave before I could ask for any specials, but I said my farewells and gave my regards to his brother.  It was a pleasant surprise for sure.

Immediately before my move to Orlando years ago, I lived in the area of Seattle know as “Capital Hill”.  It has for a long time been called the “gay” area of Seattle as it is a very liberal and homosexual-friendly neighborhood.  Over the last few years, as our culture has evolved to accept more and label less, it has become less about “gay” and more about anyone.  It’s the place where you can simply be yourself and be accepted regardless of where you fall on the sexual spectrum.  That’s not to say that the rest of the city isn’t of that mindset anyway, but I would wager to say that Capital Hill is still one of the most open-minded places in the city.

One of my drinks at Q after many others that night...

One of my drinks at Q after many others that night…

When the bar-hopping eventually got boring and the night threatened to come to a close, it was decided we would take the party into Seattle by taxi.  And it came to pass that we found our way to a nightclub called Q.  I’m not much of a dancer.  Years ago I would go with my ex and her friends on the weekends… but you don’t have to be impressive when you’re taken (that said.. I think I did okay.)  I’m also not generally a huge fan of House / EDM music.  However, on this night, years after I moved away, I was back in my old hood and many drinks / shots past sober.  So we danced, and I danced, and had a really really really good time.  It was a good group because we were all just doing our thing (goofy or otherwise) and it made it easy to cut loose.  I looked terrible. I had worn my suit from earlier that day and since taken off my button down to reveal a grey tee shirt that showed every ounce of sweat on me.   Fortunately, I wasn’t trying to impress anyone and that in itself made the night.  I was in that perfect spot of intoxication that allowed me to let the music fill me.  I felt the bass in my chest and tones in my brain so that I simply moved with it… and let it move me.

The night ended fun and happy with me eventually escorting my sleepy boss back into the hotel before we retired for the night.  Call time wasn’t until two the next afternoon, but he insisted I be ready to go by 10 AM.  That gave me less than six hours of sleep to shake the night off.  It wasn’t enough.  Though I sobered up nicely, when I rose around nine in the morning, I had a near-deafening ringing in my ears that faded throughout the day but never completely went away.  The kicker was that my boss didn’t get in touch with me until shortly after one in the afternoon.  However, given the choice I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Sometimes you just have to dance.

The following days were a lot less party, a lot less sleep and a lot more work.  But when it was all said and done, the show was well received and our clients were happy.  The day of strike most of the crew flew back, and those of us that remained went out for a much mellower and still yummy night of dinner and drinks.  That night, finally, I got to pass out for a good eight to ten hours.

The mountains I miss.

The mountains I miss.

With the show over and the crew having departed I had the next 48 hours to myself.  I used the time to pick up my rental car and tour western Washington.  I refer to it as “ghosting”; visiting the sites of your past life(s) to remember and gain perspective on where you are now.  The power of place is important, and can reinforce memories that have long since faded.  I visited a hardware store where I worked retail for many years from cashier to various sales positions.  While there I messaged with a longtime friend of mine who, back then, had been a young, sassy girl I met at the hot dog stand out front.  She’s one of the few people who made it through some really terrible versions of me and found me worth keeping in touch with.  When I returned to Seattle after the breakup, she made a point to come and visit me and did her best to bring me back from a pretty dark place.

Then it was on to Burgermaster which is an old school drive-in that (obviously) makes amazing burgers.  That place has existed longer than I have and makes the same burger today I ate when I was in high school.  I traveled north to Juanita, where I had lived with my father after having been homeless with him for many months.  This place in particular has a lot of emotions attached to it.. it was the site of my first kiss and that of my eventual depression that lead to my near(ish) death (a long, wierd story in itself.)

Then a block away where I had lived with my mother before and after my time in Japan.  The preceded the time I spent as a furniture hauler traveling across the country as the co-driver of an 18-speed semi-truck.  Then I traveled north, the Snohomish.  The same driver of that Semi-truck had asked me to be a nanny to his then son-in-law.  By now I had been with my ex, and I put a major strain on our relationship with my lack of real income and uncertainty about wanting to be with her.  We eventually recovered, but not before I had put her through a lot of unnecessary hardship (and a crap-ton of shitty Jack in the Box meals.)  One great memory from Snohomish was the view of the mountains from the valley.  I had to show the people back in Florida what they were missing.  On that same note I needed to get closer, so I traveled east through Monroe and the fairgrounds where I had first seen my ex, on to Sultan where I got a great photo of the mountains that fed a river whose bridge I stood upon.

There is no way to convey the awesomeness in picture or prose...

There is no way to convey the awesomeness in picture or prose…

Then evening came and I got in touch with my father.  He wasn’t up to a lot of activity due to a back injury, so I resolved that this night would be my mizithra night! I was passing through Lynnwood on my way back anyway, so I stopped at the Old Spaghetti Factory and had the bartender whip up a Bailey’s Irish Creme shake to go with my Mizithra cheese spaghetti.  It was wonderful.  Full and satisfied I then traveled south for about an hour to my father’s home in Lakeland.  He was ready to turn in for the night, so I caught up on my shows using his fancy cable service and promptly passed out.  The following day was spent simply catching up with my father.  We watched some shows together, talked and he made the best wings on earth for me despite his back still bothering him (thanks Aleve!)  After dinner it was time for me to catch my red-eye back to Orlando and end my all-too-short mini-vacation from show season.  Though I planned to either work or blog on the flights, I found that I was indeed quite tired, and ended up resolving to sleep as I had both plans and work the following day.

And it came to pass that I returned to Orlando and resumed this life as it is.  I don’t know if I feel any different, but I remember wandering around Bellevue during a little time off and thinking that I felt better.  Maybe it was being back where I grew up, maybe is was the dance, maybe it was remembering all the versions of me that have come and gone.  But wether it has a lasting effect or not has yet to be seen.  I feel something.  Like a phantom tapping me on the shoulder.  In the meantime it’s show season, and less than a week until the trek to Georgia.  I’ll do my best to write before then.

Into A City Called Bellevue

Early Tuesday, Somewhere Over New Mexico…

A major perk of my current profession is a fair amount of travel I get to do during show season. Probably the most exciting of said travel are the trips to Seattle that happen twice a year. Last time I had a whole adventure lined up – reconnecting with high school friends and seeing my father for the first time in a couple of years. This time it’s only been about half a year, there are no plans post-work other than a rendezvous with my father and eating entirely too many of those wings he makes. Some things have to change and though we can’t really go back to the homes we remember again, sometimes the small consistent things that endure through time can make all the difference.

The brief stop in New Mexico.

The brief stop in New Mexico.

So what to do? I’ve got a bit more free time with the team this round as well as some different and arguably more fun folks along on said team. I’m also better integrated with the crew having worked with them a more over the last few months, which makes it easier to spend some off-time with them. As an added bonus, instead of the heart of Seattle like last time, this show is across the lake in Bellevue, WA (it honestly could more or less be considered a very large “suburb” of Seattle.)

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but what’s special about Bellevue is that I was born and (mostly) grew up there. Though we did spend a fair amount of time moving around when I was younger, I was adamant about staying with my class from sixth grade onward, so even during the years of homelessness and living in towns that were an hour away, we did what we had to in order to get me to school in Bellevue every day.   In this manner I was able to hold on to some form of stability when there was otherwise very little.

So to be directly in my old stomping grounds will be fun, we’re very close to the city center mall named Bellevue Square (I visited with my high school friends last round) which is surrounded by an abundance of things to do. The shows / work wrap up on Saturday Morning, and then I’m effectively off after we finish striking the production, get everything packed and make sure everyone else has made their flights. I’ll likely pick up a rental car and spend that evening through Monday night doing my thing before I catch a red-eye at 11:59 PM, putting me back in Orlando shortly after 10:00 AM on Tuesday.

I have a minor itch to drive into the mountains and hike some. Florida weather is great and the beaches and oceans have a charm of their own (especially in terms of sunsets!) but the land is flat. No mountains, very few hills, just… flat. You’ve probably gathered by now I like elevation, and views. In Washington State I can combine that with nature for some pretty amazing scenery even it the weather is the typical grey sky. I spent quite a bit of time hiking, camping and climbing in the mountains of Washington as a young man. Perhaps I’ll find a companion to head up there with, or maybe I’ll make it a meditative solo journey. Granted this is all very stupid of me with my ankle still a bit out of whack (runner problems) but nothing I can’t handle despite the fact it would probably increase recovery time.

It will be mine!

It will be mine!

Another goal this round is to make it back to the Old Spaghetti Factory. Though it is a nationwide chain, the closest one to Florida is still nearly a thousand miles away. When I lived on the west side of Washington State (especially in the early years of my ex and my relationship) I would frequent there a lot and partake in their amazing spaghetti smothered in browned butter and Mizithra cheese. As a rabid cheese lover, this is a fantastic treat for a really reasonable price.   Though I have visited and been back since, it’s a special, nostalgic event especially because I haven’t been back to this specific location in over a decade (I went with my father a couple years back, but at a different location.)

But first I’ll have to make it through this show. The hallmarks of shows like this are early call times and long hours. I’m still tired from the past few days. Sunday I went in to work in order to prepare an important presentation (worth roughly $150k this year) for my CEO to present on Monday. With all the changes and updates it became a monster seventy-four slide multimedia PowerPoint presentation that kept me working straight through from Sunday afternoon into the early morning hours of Monday.   With our presentation happening Monday morning, I had time for a ninety-minute nap before I met my boss at headquarters to print all the materials a travel to meet our clients.

The presentation went great, and we’re optimistic about the outcome, but it was back to work from there with meetings and preparation for today’s travel. I left the office around six in the evening and had time to shop for various items (new shoes, cologne, cat supplies, etc.) before heading home to do laundry, pack, shower and take another nap for about three hours before getting up at 3:00 AM to catch our early morning flight. I was able to catch about two hours of sleep on the first leg of our flight putting me at a grand total of around six and a half hours of sleep since Sunday.

So, needless to say I’m still very tired. Tonight is a relatively laid-back schedule with a dinner and pre-production meeting before an early call time to set up our production tomorrow. If I can manage a decent amount of sleep tonight, I should be able to bounce back relatively well (praise coffee!) and keep myself in good condition for the rest of the show. If not, I’ll manage as I always have in these situations, I just might need a bit more time to sleep in on Sunday.