Taking My Life Back

Bless me father,  for I have sinned, it has been over three months since my last legitimate blog post…

You don’t have any idea how many times I started to write this post in my head over the past couple of months, only to be sidetracked by schedule, or exhaustion, or – sadly - the lack of confidence and willpower. Running this blogzine had been, for the better part of three years, a daily joy. But much like many of my favorite things, it fell off the pile as the necessity to work 75-80 hour weeks took its toll. Missed that fall softball season. Favorite TV shows were DVR’d and hastily burned to DVD to make room for other unwatched programs. Albums piled up…think about that, I wasn’t prioritizing music. There were mornings when I didn’t want to slap that comedy CD in the car because I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy it.

That is just fucking wrong.

But let me first put things in proper perspective. Nothing is really wrong outside the fact that my life became monopolized by my responsibilities at work. I’m healthy, I’m financially stable, I have friends and family and a blessed life compared to so many who have real problems. I do not pretend for a moment that my worst day in the past six months was anything more than me feeling pressure, exhaustion and frustration with something which I could have terminated at any second with two simple words: “I quit“.

It’s hard to overcome an addiction because you are so deep into it that you lose the objective perspective. You no longer see the whole, you only see the next move. Not to compare my experience to an addiction – even the word workaholic infers complicit behavior – but it takes an intervention to slap reality in your face long enough for you to distance yourself and see objectively again. And in my case the intervention came in two parts – an intimate musical performance and a dose of birthday guilt.

Christine Ohlman, a/k/a The Beehive Queen, is an amazing woman. A musicologist par excellence, she runs rings around me when it comes to the deep web of musical history, ane even a brief chat with her is an educational experience. But I recently saw her perform in a small bar in Rochester, a converted house called Abilene’s which was packed like a sardine can. No stage, the band sequestered in what would have been a living room, amps likely on “3″ to keep the plaster from falling upon us like raindrops. I was so close I could have adjusted the monitors, and I watched her slowly weave her way through a set of gems – each one accompanied by an anecdote – and I was awash in soulful, penetrating beauty. I was energized by rock, heartbroken by blues, and warmed by the infectious nature of a true artist channeling her soul. I knew at that moment that I had to take my life back, that every precious day that I continue to put aside the things I truly love was another day wasted.

I also have a holiday-time birthday, which combined with seasonal affectation disorder…well, let’s just say it makes for an interesting experience. For the past several years, I have spent the better part of my birthday watching concerts, comedy shows and music documentaries, and this year was no exception. This time, the introspection of the day was combined with a rebirth of passion, as if the artists on the large screen were saying “hey dumbass…maybe if you made time for this every day you wouldn’t be so miserable?” With the new year a week away, it looked like I finally had a resolution with teeth to slot next to the old standards “lose a few pounds” and “work out more”. And when my older daughter caught me off-guard by telling me she had been checking my page weekly only to be disappointed, that sealed the deal.

It’s not like I was in a coma. I did listen to a lot of music and made my list in time for the Village Voice Pazz&Jop deadline; I do have my Best of 2011 drafts for comedy albums and DVDs in their final whittling stages, and I did jot down some drafts that will show up soon as reviews and editorials. But I missed some events I normally relish, like the recent award nominations. And tragedies – I should have posted the day Patrice O’Neal died; he played a club in town not long before and the news broke my heart. But I’ll add those thoughts when reviewing his posthumous CD, and you’ll see his brilliant DVD (Elephant In The Room) on that year-end list.

A real doctor doesn’t promise you anything; they merely give you good advice. So I won’t promise you a daily dose - not an unbroken string, anyway -  but I’ll do the best I can to be here as often as possible. I even have a plan.

As for the recommendations, those will continue to be well-intentioned but optional. I’ve got my hands full taking my own life back, thanks.

Happy New Year, everyone. I missed you, too.

It's a new dawn, and a beautiful new road lies before me. Hope to see you often along the way...

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11 Comments

Filed under Editorials

11 responses to “Taking My Life Back

  1. Bill Baldwin

    Welcome back…you’ve been missed (about as much as AT).

  2. doctor b. i presume???

    Great to see you back, Bill!
    Happy new Year!

  3. SueBeeDoo

    Atta boy Doc!!! Glad to see your virtual ass again!
    S

  4. You have been missed Dr. Welcome Back.

    michael

  5. I missed you a lot.. No pressure, but I look forward to your best of lists, especially for music and movies. It inspires me to work on mine.
    A quick tip if you haven’t caught on. “Once upon a time ” on ABC tv is addictive. It isn’t “Lost”, but if kept going it could develop into a huge cult fave.
    Again, glad to see your post today.
    Gene

  6. drbristol

    When I saw the previews for OAAT I feared they’d really mess it up, but it’s a strong balance of legend, drama and whimsy. Much better than I expected from a network show.

    I’ve also been surprised by BBC’s SHERLOCK, given that I think the Basil Rathbone series is godhead. Why all the attention goes to the new movies (shit blows *UP*, yo! ) is beyond me; the RJD movies remind me of the failed remake of Wild Wild West.

    I can thank my daughter Eli for pushing me into both. Good DNA that kid has.

  7. Paul Sikorski

    GREAT way to start a Tuesday morning. Like “your oldest daughter,” I’ve been checking daily. For some reason, it didn’t update yesterday, but there you were this morning with my coffee. Balance is tough. I routinely dealt with 80+ hour weeks for a couple of decades–the 80′s and 90′s, and it took a toll both personally and musically. It’s taken the last decade to put it back together. Here’s to you return!

  8. Russ

    Sorely missed…glad to see the posting.

  9. I see the Dr.is “In” again…GREAT news. We’ve missed you.
    Rich

  10. welcome back in the blogosphere

  11. Dan Aloi

    Dude, that’s fine … take another break. Life and all its ups/downs makes the love of music worthwhile. Just read the (21-mo.-old) Brad Jones news… thanks for everything. Probably seeing Nick Lowe in Buffalo soon.

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