Family

A little perspective after a long time

*Note: There are some elements of this entry that some may find disturbing, or possibly even trigger-worthy.  Read (or don’t) with caution if you are the sensitive type.

I know, I know… I’ve been gone a long time.  Life is like that;  It ebbs and flows.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t write professionally (at least not on a creative level) or I would be accused of following after a certain author of thrones.  Anyway, It took a couple years for this cycle to settle, and now that it has… everything is fine.  And that’s it.  Nothing is wrong, and new stuff happens from time to time, but for the most part, I’m just doing my thing; day in and day out. My companions from my previous cycle (and even the “adjustment” period) have almost all fallen away.  Some will come back eventually, and some will not.  But for the time being I have my new cave by the lake, my work in the contrasting enormous palace nearby, my cats, some friends I see every so often (whom, I’m growing a greater appreciation for as others move on) and… me.
It’s not about time any more.  I have time.  I finally caught up on The Walking Dead (holy shit…) and I’ve been addicted to certain mobile games involving hunting small creatures in the real world and fantasies that are final at home.  So time is there… money is still in recovery but improving daily. What I realized is missing (much like in my personal relationships) is passion.  I don’t feel inspired by anything.  The world is beautiful, and I am privy to exceptional sunsets on a daily basis.  These bring me peace, but they do not light a fire.  There is no fire.  I’m not depressed, things are generally good, I’m just… here.  It’s kept me from writing because I need to have something I feel strongly enough to write about.  It’s kept me from photography because I’m still backlogged almost a year (sorry Jess.. I put some more up yesterday but I realize my pace is horrible…) and while I love the photos I put up when I do work on them, it’s honestly a struggle to get myself to sit down and focus on them.

JCamBW

At least sometimes I look alright doing it…

I know, this is a lot of whining and problems that are really not problems.  A year ago at this time I was trying to figure out if I was going to have a place to live next month, so I understand that I’m not really having real problems.  Ironically, it might be the intense focus that work requires of me that keeps the inspiration from showing up at the end of the day.  Chicken or the egg?  Be that as it may, I am virtually alone and uninspired at the moment, and while I’m making an effort to branch out a bit, it may be some time before life picks back up again.

With that said I want to share a story with you.  This story makes all of the above whining seem even more ridiculous.  The point is not to shock you or make you feel bad, the point is to help people like me, who are really doing pretty okay, keep perspective and be grateful for the blessings they have, even if inspiration feels a little short.  Having time to worry about inspiration or passion IS a blessing in itself.

As mentioned above, I work in a literal mansion.  My boss is such that he parks his seaplane (yes, seaplane) in the back yard, on the very nice lake that is shared among the local (rich) community.  Though it is not the point of this article, I want to make a point of assuring you that my boss is 1. Generally a good man.  2. Gives a GREAT deal of charity and pays a great deal of taxes without complaint.  -and- 3. Does not come from a wealthy family.  He’s built and earned what he has, more than once.

Anyway, as his Executive Assistant (you can call me Alfred) I assist in running his business, finances, calendar, estate, grounds, etc.  So as mentioned I spend the majority of my time in this huge, immaculate home.  Another staff member of ours – let’s call her Jan – comes once a week with an associate of hers to do a full cleaning of the house, laundry, etc. She is originally from Jamaica, in her late-40s, and her and I have a friendly, joking, semi-abusive relationship.  My boss has known her for over a decade (before he even moved into this mansion) and has treated/paid her well consistently.  He is even looking into the best way to provide for her retirement in the future, as she has never had her own means of obtaining one.   Not that she’ll need it anytime soon, because while she’s easygoing and friendly, she’s also tough, I mean really tough.

tumblr_m01jkv5IyZ1qb0oluo1_250

Our cleaning lady would kill you son.

I’ve visited Jamaica before via cruise ship.  I know, I know, that’s not the “real” Jamaica. But all you need to do is book an excursion that takes you out of the tourist area and if you’re paying attention you very quickly get an impression of the reality many native Jamaicans face.  While there are most certainly well-developed, colorful, historical towns, hotels, and restaurants, just outside the walls of the tourist area in Falmouth, things get progressively bleaker until the reality of literal poverty is staring you in the face.  They make the best of it; You could see people smiling, laughing, and living, but they have adjusted, or have never know the extent of the comforts and security we have here in the US (despite us needing to be made great… again…)

Jan, and her family are from that kind of life.  She’s happy to be here with her longtime friend, making a life for herself and her daughter here in the US that would be near impossible for the rest of her family back in Jamaica.  She sends them money and support, and shows me pictures of the gatherings she attends when she goes to visit them.  She is especially proud of their Sunday clothes, when they get dressed up for church.

The other day she pulled out her phone and was showing me pictures of her son and some of their extended family still living in Jamaica.  She has never married, and when I asked her if her children were intentional she just smiled at me as if I were Jon Snow and knew nothing.  In this particular photo set though, I commented on her son’s sense of style.  Even by US standards, he was decked out in a dark suit with a light purple tie, matching vest and sunglasses to complete the look.

Purple Style

That style.

That was when she casually showed me the next picture.  It was of a young boy (I think she said he was thirteen) hanging from a tree by a rope tied around his neck.  Her nephew had decided that his life there wasn’t worth continuing, and… before they took him down, they took photos.  She continued that her son was wearing his best to that boy’s funeral because he had been like a brother, and it was the best way to honor his life.  The whole time she spoke casually and easy about this, as if this were just another part of life like a thunder storm or the flu.  But then, for a lot of people in the world, possibly even the majority, it is.

Many of us in the US live blessed lives.  Absolutely we have poverty, I’ve shared with you before that I was homeless at times growing up and have memories of getting food from the food bank to eat.  But much harder than I ever had it is the racism that is still coming to light, when growing up as a minority here (especially if you’re poor) can be, literally, deadly.  And while a lot of us see it on the news here, and it is wrong anytime, anywhere, in some places it’s so common that it’s not even a headline.

My point is not to say that we don’t need to get better as a culture in the United States (or wherever I end up should Emporer Trump come to power,) because we do.  We have to be better because we have infinitely more opportunity than so many more places in the world.  If there’s anything the human race is good at, it’s squandering its available advantages by focusing on trivial things (like… not feeling inspired…)  But that photo of the boy hanging from a tree, because life was actually very hard there and he couldn’t make it, is something that reminds me of this responsibility.  It gives a lot of perspective to how blessed the majority of us are here and reminds me that, at the very least, first and foremost, I (we) need to do our best to not be a part of the problems in our own culture.

14047351_10154468276252264_5432744295936588239_o

This.. should be appreciated.

People like Jan can come here, and work hard, and probably never have a life as decadent as my boss (or possibly even me.)  But because she has an inherently different perspective, and the appreciation for the many things we take for granted (including our way of life itself,) there’s a good chance that she may often be happier than those of us that lose our perspective from time to time.  Happiness is relative.  That’s why people with far more money than a windbag like Trump are secretly (or not so secretly) miserable.  Meanwhile those who give away what little they have beyond their own survival enjoy happiness that eludes the majority of the world.

There’s no recipe for it either. It’s individual… relative. Giving away everything or becoming a monk won’t make everyone happy.  Nor will winning the lottery (as people have demonstrated over and over) or becoming famous.  I believe the secret (even if I’m having trouble with it currently) exists in curbing your expectations and being as grateful as possible for the blessings you have. We deserve the good things that happen to us, on whatever level (so long as you do not intentionally harm somebody for those things.) There is no need for guilt, just gratitude for whatever good things come (as opposed to the trap of being sad about what does not.)

It is an unavoidable truth of this world that some people live through horrible circumstances, and maybe the silver lining (no, I’m not saying it’s ever worth it…  it never is) for those who can overcome those things is the ease with which they appreciate simple things that others might well take for granted.  Everyone has a story, and sometimes by learning about others, it helps you put your own in perspective.

Advertisements

The Fading Magic Of Love

Admittedly the following thoughts are my own (somewhat emo) individual observations and feelings, so take them with a grain of salt, this has not be researched by any means.  In fact, hopefully I’m very off-base overall… but it occurs to me that a great deal of what traditionally considered “romantic” or proactive in terms of somebody pursuing another person romantically is now considered “creepy”, “stalker-ish”, or “harassment”. (Which, in many cases it actually is, I’m in no way disputing that, and nobody should be harassed regardless.)

Thus is the plight of modern romance. Unless the stars align and you cross paths and are introduced organically through social situations, folks are more or less forced to use social media style apps like Tinder or various dating sites to create a pre-existing context to meeting a stranger.

maxresdefault

Ahh… romance (though points for the HP reference.)

There is no more “love at first sight” for a stranger or acquaintance because nine times out of ten (especially, but not always, if it’s a man pursuing a woman) randomly approaching or attempting to talk to / get to know somebody that you have no (or very limited) preexisting context with will be met with suspicion, scorn and a label of one of the above terms.

Further, even if met with courtesy, attempting to pursue the matter usually breeds discomfort and is quickly reclassified into one of the above categories.

But that said, it’s true that such things (when unwanted, which initially, before people get to know each other, they almost always will be…) ARE in fact harassment and a lot of the tactics that folks in the “old days” used to employ to get a potential partner’s attention ARE in fact a form of stalking. And it’s absolutely correct that nobody should have to put up with harassment or stalking on any level, even with good intentions.

say-anything3

Stalker!

So I wonder then what the fix is? What if everyone you come across organically isn’t the right one for you? What if you come across a relative stranger and feel the magical pull of what was once love at first sight, but there’s no real way to pursue it? What if all the “dating” apps yield a few great friends but then mostly contribute to losing your faith in humanity?

More and more people are staying single, and that’s okay because we need to be our own strong, independent people… but I feel like romance and whatever magic that love once held is becoming more and more scarce because the rules have changed and people either don’t want to play the game any more, or don’t really know how to operate in the new rule set. Or maybe the new rule set just doesn’t lend itself well to spark of a real, long-term love.

It’s a social evolution in that people’s rights are being respected on equal levels (ideally anyway), but in doing away with the archaic misogyny and religion – based social constructs, we may have also discarded some of the attached old-school charm and courtship that led to a small percentage (among many failed…) of happy, long-term, adorable couples/families. These days I see families and couples, but a large majority of them have settled, I don’t see the love. Some admit it, others don’t and in some cases my observation is wrong… but in others it has been proven to me, through action, confession or simply watching it fall apart.

I suppose it’s too early to tell, and I can only speak for my immediate bubble, but I see even less potential for those true, long-term connections now than I did with the old ways. We reduced the suffering of millions, and there’s no question that it’s worth it, but I think that the increasing rarity of classic, old-school style love actually makes me sad. It’s as easy as it has ever been to find somebody to hook-up with, but the problem is some part of me always wanted the idealized classic, stable, happy family with the “picket fence” or some version of it and I’m beginning to think that for somebody like me in a world like this, I can’t build it. I can build me, but everything else is like playing the social lottery, and the odds are very much not in my favor.

(Note: This wasn’t supposed to be a blog post,  it started out as a facebook post… I guess I just had a lot to say.)

So This Was Christmas

So the holiday has come and gone and I feel like a post-Christmas-post is mandatory.  I suppose that alone shows that on some level, the holiday has meaning to me.  Last year’s post was admittedly non-festive, but left the hope of the holiday spirit in the hands of the children.  This year, after a hard year, the holidays didn’t bring anything special except the reminder that things are getting better for 2016… and that the holidays are about family.

The man I work for had right around thirty guests in his home for the holidays this year – all of them extended family of some sort.  As both his Executive and Personal Assistant I was naturally involved in a great deal of the holiday arrangements: A large tree, gifts for both family and clients, and decking out his mansion in massive amounts of light and ribbon. In execution it was fun.  I met a ton of great people and observed a close family coming together for the holidays.  The house was festive, the tree was beautiful, stockings were hung, junk food was abundant, and christmas music often played in the background (fortunately only when we had guests.)  But the thing about being The Assistant in any case – holidays or otherwise – is that you are a part of everything but at the same time you’re always separated… always in the grey area.

2015-12-18 17.57.02

No Seriously… this is the house. (Next year we’ll do some lasers.)

It’s an enlightening self-study, to see what the effect of seeing an “ideal” and somewhat traditional family Christmas has on me.  Further it reinforced to me that Christmas is indeed a matter of family in my mind, and without it the “holiday spirit” simply doesn’t hold up.  I watched this group of people who were familiar in ways only a close family can be, and I realized that the concept is nearly alien to me.  To be honest there are maybe a handful of people in the entire world that I trust on that level, and out of them probably only two are actually related to me.  And yes, I know, family isn’t about blood relation.  I’ve had many surrogate family members in my time thus far.  Some have endured, many have not, but regardless my family is something that I still need to build… and I haven’t the slightest idea how or when (or with whom) that will happen.

The above sounds whiney… it’s not really meant to.  If anything, it’s hopeful.  I know it’s entirely possible for me to get into the spirit of Christmas, and I even know how.  As usual it’s a matter of patience and making sure I have myself in a position to do it right.  The majority of 2015 was an (arguably necessary) step backwards, but I learned a lot in the process about standing my ground and knowing what my priorities are. Even my current role is already teaching me a great deal about my motivations and where I want to be.  Truthfully I’m not certain in the long-term it will get me there, but for now it’s the balance I’ve sought through many months of barely scraping by, and I’m grateful for that.

2015-12-10 13.29.46-1

That’s all the holiday spirit you get from me this year.

Also, my Christmas wasn’t bad. I wasn’t alone, it just wasn’t a huge production. The budget was (by necessity) very, very low and I gave little and received little (though to be honest what I received was way cooler than what I was able to give.)  This is all very okay though, I like giving and I kind of suck at gracefully receiving (unless we’re talking in the bedroom… but this is Christmas post, get your head out of the gutter.) To be honest I was grateful that it was what it was and not something far worse.  I have been fortunate that the final month of this year has set up for a vastly improved 2016.  Had I not (finally) gotten some very good options and offers for work in the last couple of months, Christmas might very well have been a dark day for me.

But in the meantime, this year I was a first-hand witness to the sort of ideal Christmas I hope to someday have.  But in order to have that I have a lot of building and developing to do, the least of which involves finding somebody to share that building with.  I suppose it’s entirely possible that things won’t turn out the way I hope and a completely different set of circumstances will bring back the holiday spirit for me.  At least at the moment I can say that although that specific spirit currently eludes me, my personal spirit does not.  As of now I have the hope that can find it, build it,  or make it… one way or another.  But that’s the beginning of the spirit, of anything good really: hope.

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.

The Holiday Magic – Version 2.0

Notes:  Most of the graphics in the post come from one of my favorite comic cartoonists: The Oatmeal.  To go see the full version of his work and much more, click here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/christmas  I have absolutely zero to do with him and take NO credit for any of his work.

So, I had already completed a post of over 1500 words for you guys about my holiday experiences, but while attempting to upload supporting graphics, an error of some sort occurred, and I reloaded to find only 200 of them remaining.  No auto-saves, no reversions, nothing.  Just the first paragraph.  Needless to say, especially because it’s supposed to be Christmas (and therefore illogically special or something…) I’m feeling a bit unmotivated to write again.  However, I’m going to go, relax, take a shower, and give this another shot.  Fortunately I’m stubborn.  

A few hours later… *ahem* let’s try this again… Version 2.0  

This may or may not have been me at recent holiday party... I won't tell you which one...

This may or may not have been me at recent holiday party… I won’t tell you which one…

So, even before WordPress decided to wipe out my previous holiday post, I was really close to not doing a “Christmas” or “Holiday” post anyway because, to be honest, it’s not really that special in my life right now.  I’ve been alone all day, and as I sit here drinking scotch and listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Pandora, I know that for now, this is it.  Any family I speak to is far away, the majority of my friends won’t be getting anything for me and likewise I’m not concerned about them.  The very few people that have made themselves important parts of my life will probably exchange gifts with me at some point (though to be honest, I would give regardless of receiving.. I kinda suck at receiving… but only in regards to gifts from those I care about… I mean.. yeah.. let’s just leave that there. )  Anyway, the holiday season for me is more about a little time off (it IS a miracle I have time to write finally!), parties and giving somebody as selfish as I am a little excuse to be giving (similar to Ramadan I suppose… and ironically the two are often compared.)

With all that said it wasn’t always like this for me, I’m grown now but when I was young there was magic.  In “the lost Christmas post” (that’s what we shall call it now) I shared some of my Christmas morning memories; things like my father always getting “Soap on a Rope” or my love of the original Transformers action figures before the advent of video games.  Of course there were always the big things like bicycles, big wheels or air hockey tables (yeah.. my brother got one I think…) that eventually gave way to game consoles as I grew older and the magic faded.  It was less about the time and more about how expensive your item was.

Ohh the magic!

Ohh the magic!

But what was the magic when I was little?  Was it the happy, fat man that supposedly brought me new things? The anticipation when I got up that morning and raced to the tree to see the newly appeared presents glimmering in the tree lights?  The two days of feasts back when my family did it’s best to pretend it was a cohesive unit?  It was all of it.  The magic of Christmas has never had anything to do with Jesus for me, they did their best to try and educate me, but he was always an afterthought at most.  The magic of Christmas was having a day when everything was right with the world.  When everyone seemed happy and there were no strings.  No school, no work, new things, happy family and an abundance of food.  It didn’t matter that it was chaos or messy because nobody was stressing about it (or rather, if they were I was not made aware of it) and everyone was happy.

Naturally, as an adult, I’m fully aware that these are both embellished memories and that there were many underlying things that I didn’t see then.  But the magic was there because I was a kid at Christmas and everyone was on the same page: That Christmas should be a good day, especially for the kids.  So for one day my whole family seemed to set aside bills, drama and whatever stresses they had, and focus on making Christmas… Christmas.  It was all about trying to live up to the ideal, and it worked for us, or for me anyway.

Even I try harder than this though.  I love trick-wrapping!

Even I try harder than this though. I love trick-wrapping!

Now, the one part I can feel a little is what I mentioned earlier: giving.  I only got presents for a couple of people this year, but I enjoyed shopping for them and giving to them.  It seems like maybe some of them where underwhelmed by what I got them, but the process was worth it anyway.  I even tipped the folks where I normally eat lunch a $20 because they were bored, and slow and had to work on Christmas Eve.  But that was worth it simply by the genuine reactions I got.  I guess maybe it’s the unexpected giving that really breeds gratitude.  For adults I think that genuine gratitude from each other is the reward, especially when you can get somebody just what you know they want.  The surprise.  Maybe that’s a little of the magic when you’re a kid too.

That’s what it comes down to.  If anything will ever bring back the holiday magic, it’s the children.  Children are innocent and excited and not yet disillusioned by the realities of this world.  They are pure, and with that innocence they create the magic of Christmas that we can all feel.  Some people really do celebrate in the name of Jesus, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But when I celebrate with my family it will be to help create and feel that magic again.  It will be to be woken up at 6 AM after two hours of sleep because the kid(s) couldn’t wait any longer.  It will be to stumble out to the kitchen for the coffee needed to make it through the morning.  It will be to watch their faces light up as they unwrap their skillfully trick-wrapped presents and realize Santa got them exactly what they wanted (because Santa’s a boss.)  It will be the mid-afternoon nap (if we’re lucky) and the prepping of the evening feast before we get dressed nicely and come together to celebrate this day.  Christmas day is one of the few days of the year when we try just a little harder to make it good for ourselves, and especially for the little ones. Whether it be religion, tradition or decision, as long as it’s all going in the same direction it’s a good thing.  I think that’s what makes the holiday magic on this or any day.

And that was V1...

And that was Version 1…

Merry Christmas.