Conversations with my Dad

I’m lucky enough to have a Mom and a Dad who are both healthy and alive. And while I seldom give my Mother a break about her considerably bad taste in music. Both have played a major part in influencing and supporting my never ending obsession for so long. While I’ve learned to avoid conversations about religion, politics or any sociological topics. A good bull session about music is a great way to pass the time while helping to avoid any bloodletting during any visit or phone call. Though his love of the blues and New Orleans jazz can never be questioned. A conversation regarding Tom Waits, Frank Zappa or the Night Tripper, Dr. John (Gris-Gris) can go on for days. Some of my earliest memories revolve around sitting among my parents combined record collections. Strange how it remains one of the very few memories of my parents being together. Sitting within a pile of my parents record collection. 07d0e554e09b932edadfb0d22ea101ceNo more than four, maybe five years old. Completely freaked out by the cover art of records like Leon Russell’s “Stop All That Jazz” Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” or Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. Album covers that told stories I might not be quite ready to read. One’s that might have me checking the closet or under the bed that night.  A few years later, as my ear for music began to form. My Dad would sit me down and play Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton’s Blues Breakers, and for me, the most painful torture a nine year old can suffer, Frank Zappa’s 79′ release “Joe’s Garage.” Years later though, many of the records and artists my parents introduced me to reside in my own record collection. Artists such as Frank Zappa, Hendrix and especially Tom Waits get countless play on the turntable and all my other modes of music enjoyment. I pick up just about every Leon Russell and Frank Zappa I see and being drawn to record based on it’s cover art  remains crucial to many of my crate digging adventures. Still, I can recall sitting in my pajamas among those piles of records, How each cover either told a story or inspired me to create one,

 

The Things We Keep

As I was going through years of medical records that included but were not limited to CAT Scans, M.R.I.’s, and visits to the emergency room. I began to feel overwhelmed and somewhat depressed. While I understand that medical, W-2’s and tax returns don’t tell the true story of the lives we’ve lived and led. Seeing much of your experiences and struggles on tax return or hospital discharge can be quite the mind fuck. So when I found this envelope resting within years of hundreds of files deemed “important”. It was the life preserver that kept me afloat emotionally. While I often beat my chest about my disdain for living in the past and preserving memories by constantly reliving them. I am quite an archivist.

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I have a couple of books filled with everything from published articles to concert ticket stubs to notes passed to me in the eighth grade from my first big crush. My decision to keep or discard often come down to how these things made me feel originally or their importance to a specific time or experience. For christ’s sake,  I still have the hollow point bullet my Dad gave me when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure there was a life lesson attached, but for the life of me. Neither myself nor my Father can remember.  In no way am I a hoarder. I’m quite neat and organized. Often taking time to purge the less important things. Still, I’m often amazed by the amount of moments I’ve managed to save.

Cardboard Heroes

The KidSome of my earliest memories of baseball involve the Major League Baseball’s 1977 expansion that brought us the Toronto Blu4 Jays and the Seattle Mariners. Though it would be another three years before the Great American Pastime would take hold of my imagination. It served as a gateway drug to what would become a lifetime obsession.

Just as I recall those dark day that plagued the Mariners in the late 70’s and much of the 80’s. I can also look to the hope that came when the NY Yankees sent a young outfielder by the name of Jay Buhner west. The hope the 90’s brought with players like Ken Griffey JR., Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez.

EdgarI was in Japan when Ichiro Suzuki played his first games for The Mariners in 2001. Getting to see his first games, at bats and center  field wizardry from his place of birth was, to say the very least, outer worldly. Still after more than forty years of existence. The Seattle Mariners continuously sport the ugliest uniforms in all of baseball while never appearing in a world series. Not even the 2001 team that won 116 games.

Regardless, the fans here are great and I really enjoyed the games I attended in 2017. Getting to know the players names while getting a feel for the stadium. As the 2018 season has just opened. I’m already watching the schedule to buy tickets when the Mets and Yankees come to town. Just as I enjoyed growing up in the shadow of Shea Stadium as a kid. I feel very lucky to be living just a short drive from Safeco Field and the Seattle Mariners. GO Team.

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Skip a Stone

As our Jersey City condo nears its closing date. The thought of moving back east in order to be closer to friends, family and loved ones looms large. Before deciding to take a job offer and move to Seattle, My wife left the door open to moving back to the area if life here didn’t live up to what we expected it to be. At the time, moving away from friends, family and an area I had lived the entirety of my life in, did not seem to concern me. The opportunity to live on another coast was paramount. Thus making our decision almost immediate. Visiting Seattle for the first time ever back in May and ultimately moving here in June. I was able to leave behind a lot of my worries, anxiety and stress and view life with a fresh and very different outlook. As we close in on a year here in Seattle. I can’t think of how the move has change me for the better. Sure, it rains a hell of a lot here and the area has it’s share of problems. However, my friends back East have been pummeled by one Nor’easter after another. All things considered, the idea of moving back to New York City or New Jersey doesn’t quite appeal to me as much as plotting a course for another city I’ve yet to experience or country whose cities and culture would be further explored. In some respects, the nomad spirit in me yearns for new adventures.

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Familiar Stomping Grounds

Over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend we decided to catch MOPOP’s new exhibition “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses.” NeedleIt was one of the first times we’ve spent time in Lower Queen Anne since we moved to Columbia City in late September. Though I think we can all agree on how much I love Columbia City. It’s safe to say, that the time spent in Lower Queen Anne was well spent. Living out of a suit case in a corporate apartment might sound rough to some. However, for me. Living with just the basics was a complete joy and a way to practice minimalism in a way I never thought possible. The several months we spent in Lower Queen Anne offered us a great introduction to Seattle. One I’m incredibly grateful for. Whether it was riding the bus, taking the train or just plain walking. The time spent there provided the change I was looking for when we decided to give the West Coast a chance.

Below are several links I’d highly recommend checking out.

Nirvana Exhibit

Light in the Attic Records

KEXP

 

New Lens Smell

After a delicious breakfast at Heyday, we ventured down the steep hills towards Lake Washington. I had brought my new Canon 70-200 f4 USM lens with me in the hopes of finding the right spot to fire off some test shots. I recall owning a 70-200 lens years ago but don’t recall it ever being so noticeably heavy. Quickly, we found a spot under the bridge. I proceeded to remove the already mounted lens and camera body from out mini coopers trunk. At first feel, you would think I was moving a centuries old pace of art  from the auction house to the high bidders home or gallery. Truth be told, I was more focused on convincing my wife that I hadn’t let my clumsiness get the best of me. Overall, I enjoyed the way the lens handled and the results were rewarding. I really enjoy the focal range it provides and the fact that I can use it without a tripod. Still, I’m looking forward to using it on one and testing it on some local sporting events. Until then, go big or go home.

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No More Crying

NMCIIIt began with the best intentions. The days and weeks since my Neurology follow up had me feeling angry, lost and somewhat hopeless. I had mistakenly opened up to my doctor, therapist and wife that I had briefly thought of suicide, or commented on how I wished the original death notice I received when I was twelve would have ended me instead of prolonging my suffering through related issues. Falling down and not having the control you once had on your life it not easy to get used to. With that said and fully expressed, I had felt a positive shift in recent days that mad me feel as if I had turned a corner. I had all but stopped worrying about what I couldn’t do any more and started thinking about what I could. My intention was to share with my wife that the fear and negativity were behind me. That, whatever it took, I was going to be open minded and more constructive.

As I began to speak to her, I made a point to use the word “Positive”. This exchange was going to let her know that I was leaving behind the negativity and look at all the positives and embrace whatever changes might come. Before I even knew what was happening. Before she even had a chance to reply. She buried her head in my chest and began crying uncontrollably. I did my best to make her laugh and smile “Hey, there’s nothing to cry about. This is all about looking at things with a positive mindset.” “Come on, there’s no crying,” “I’m not crying.” She sniffled, as she reached for the nearby box of tissues. All I wanted to do was tell her how lucky I was to have two parents that loved me and a wife who, despite all my obvious faults, adored me. Still, she kept her head buried in my chest. Unconvincingly trying to conceal the fact that she had become overwhelmed with tears. “I have to pee.” She announced as she quickly made her way to the bathroom. Concerned for what she was feeling, I followed. More than anything, I wanted to comfort her. To let her know that it was okay to cry. Even with the door closed. I could hear her blowing her nose and washing the tears from her eyes. I entered and hugged her. Assuring her that, maybe for the first time since that hospital visit. That everything was going to be okay. That she could cry all she wanted to as long as she didn’t feel the need to hide it from me. “I was trying to tell you that I turned a corner and how I was feeling more positive about things.” “Why are you crying?” Still red in the face and filled with tears. She said something I never thought I’d ever hear. “Because it’s not your fault.” “You didn’t do anything wrong.” I have to say, it was humbling.

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Throughout our entire marriage and even when we were dating. She was always the strong one. The rock, the ying to my yang, or whatever you call it. Being on the other side of the coin. The one to say “Don’t worry. No matter what happens, everything is going to be alright.” It was hard, but I feel it was long overdue. Whatever may come, I hope I can always be there for her when she needs it. Considering how much she’s done for me in reinforcing my health and assuring my happiness. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Below are a couple of helpful links.

Zen Habits

American Meditation Society