Cousins – a sing along.

I was hinting back in December that I was working on a musical project with my brother. Well, readers, be no longer subject to hints but feast your ears on this: Beginning in September, Shawn and I began writing and recording songs for our cousins (and one for our sister and bro-in-law) to give as Christmas gifts. I wanted to wait until I knew all of the cousins had theirs before I announced it here, and it’s out, it’s available, so get your copy. If I haven’t given you one already you should request it, but better yet why don’t you just download it here? There are 11 tracks, so sorry if it’s a hassle to download them separately. If you’d rather download the whole thing at once let me know and I can send you the album via yousendit (comment here or email me). I can also send lyrics and cover art that way.

If your name happens to be the name of one of our cousins, feel free to pretend we wrote the song for you!

A eulogy.

You don’t understand. PJ was a Titan. PJ stared down the barrel of a gun and never flinched. He rescued children from burning vehicles and led entire caravans of refugees to safety. PJ questioned authority and incited revolutions. PJ swallowed violence and poverty and coughed up sparklers and ragtime music. PJ knew tricks, and performed them when he felt like it. He was devilishly handsome. He played the piano. PJ would purr moments before you would even touch him, he loved you that much. He loved me. He was a Yankee cat, betrayed by Southern hospitality. He would greet you every single time you stepped through the front-door, it was the one sure thing.

So today was the first day in 18 years that PJ didn’t greet me when I came home. It’s strange. It’s different, mourning a pet that you grew up with when you no longer lived with them full-time. You’ve already grown accustomed to long chunks of time without them, and then one day those long chunks of time become forever. (Will he visit me in my dreams the way his mother does?) PJ, you were a better cat than I am a human, and that’s not really too surprising, because you were a very, very good cat. I will miss you.dscn3746

Misshapen Wacom

I have finally admitted that I cannot draw on my Wacom tablet (or cannot find the time to practice). Here marks the return to pen and ink and paper. (I still used my tablet to color, though it still looks like I outsourced that part to a team of kindergartners).


Warm home, cold home.

“California is MESSING WITH ME.”

That was my predominant thought as I drove through that wonderful chaos of a state. It was a little bit like bumping into your ex, I imagine, after you haven’t seen him for a few years, and suddenly you remember all of the things you loved about him, and you wonder if maybe things could work this time, if things have changed, maybe, just enough that things could work.

Where California is concerned, I am into the longitudinal extremes. I love the far northern counties where the population hasn’t yet bled over and the air is still clean and the trees and mountains are still the loudest and quietest presense around. I love San Diego, the north’s near opposite and perfect complement. Los Angeles can smog itself to oblivion for all I care; San Francisco is a total bore. But San Diego, oh. I love it.

My trip was wonderful, I had such a great time. I’m sorry I dissed LA and San Francisco, they are nice enough cities. We spent one day in LA, mostly on the UCLA campus and then up to Griffin Park at night to see the Hollywood sign (we could see it, although it wasn’t illuminated. The rest of the city was illuminated, though, and stretched on forever.) We spent the rest of our time in Oceanside and San Diego, with a few daytrips to Orange County (home of some of my biggest life lessons, 3 years back).

On my way into the state I had no idea what my reaction would be. It had been home, however briefly. In some strange way, it was home before I had ever moved there. And this was the first time that I would be back, at least to this part of the state.

Maybe because our first stop was LA I didn’t feel nostalgic at first. Granted, it felt really good to be zipping along the I5 again, but I wasn’t seized with emotion like I suspected I might be. As our time continued in San Diego, though, it began to creep up on me. I love it there, really. I had to remind myself that I was on vacation, and as fun as it was to spend entire days in the sun with some of my best friends, that isn’t what day-to-day life looks like. That’s vacation. Real life is harder, and often lonely. Regardless, I couldn’t help but thinking, “How can I get back here?” I’ve been out of college too long to just go on a whim, I would need a reason. A person can find a reason for anything, if they really want to. While I was there, I wanted to.

I had some back-of-my-head worries about returning to Wisconsin. It was unseasonably warm when we left San Diego, and I heard rumors it would be 15 below zero at home. It would be dark, snowy, and cold, and I would be depressed, I was sure of it.

Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t. Maybe I just can’t conjure up depression like I once could (what kind of artist does that leave me?) but when I got back to Wisconsin last night I felt nothing but home. I’m really thankful for that, to be honest. I may go back to California at some point, I may look for a reason or the reason might come to me unsolicited. I might stay in Wisconsin forever, who knows. I’m here now, and that’s what counts right now.

Haha, can you tell I use this blog as self-therapy sometimes?  Okay, most all of the time.

This will hurt.

I’m leaving you.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s something I have to do.  It’s who I am.

I’m going to the west coast.  And I’m never coming back.

Just kidding, I’ll be back next week.  And I’ll miss you!

(Don’t count on any blogging while I’m gone.)

Sunday science.

Ahh, I like church.  I do!  Some people think it is boring, or pointless, but I go to church and I feel like… well, I feel like I’m closest to being home.  I always come away from church feeling a little bit of a high.  That feeling fades throughout the week, but then on Sunday, boom, there is God, waiting, always faithful. I know that’s silly. I know that God is there throughout the week, and the challenge is for me to meet him. And I try to, and some days I am able to.  But there is still something about church that feels good to me.

I remember a segment on some infotainment news-type show in which there were scientists who did brain scans of people who were in worship services (of various different religions) and they found that there was a particular area of the brain that was especially active during the moment that worshippers felt this “high”.  I don’t quite remember, but I think they were trying to prove that spiritual experiences were simply a rush of neurotransmitters in the brain, nothing truly spiritual at all.  They thought they had pulled a fast one on believers, but really, most believers would credit God with the design of the human brain and all of the chemicals therein which make it tick.  So what did they really prove?  I think it’s silly when people base all of their arguments on the idea that God and Science are mutually exclusive.   They aren’t!  Duh!

Living no longer listlessly.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to admit to myself that I am a list-person.  If it weren’t for my daily checklist at work I would not get a single thing accomplished. Part of this is my sub-par memory, part of this is my penchant for procrastination, part of this is my scattered and attention deficient brain, and part is probably just laziness.  Four equal parts, adding up to perfect disharmony.  Making my checklist at work is the only way I am productive.

So while I may get things done at work, I cannot say the same happens at home.  I treat all of my time away from work as free-time, and if something comes to mind that I need to tend to I think, “Oh, I will get to that,” and usually I don’t.  This is why my apartment is often a mess, my bills and rent are often paid late, my body is out-of-shape, and, well, do I need to give you the whole list of my shortcomings?  The point is, I’ve finally admitted that it might be beneficial if I started keeping a checklist at home as well.  Having nothing to do with the New Year or any kind of resolutions,  I started this practice yesterday.  Here is what my list included yesterday:

*take out recyclables
*empty/load dishwasher
*upack from Christmas
*burn CD for ___
*lunch/shopping w/D
*locate 3rd manatee book
*exercise 15 minutes
*floss teeth

I managed to complete all of the items with two minor compromises (I brought out half of the recyclables this morning when I left for work, and I only exercised 10 minutes, because I couldn’t think of any more exercises to do in my apartment!)  While I was out with D I mentioned this new practice and how perfect a system it was.  I went on to suggest that it was so complete that I would even put down “Die” on the day that I would die.  D wondered how I would check “Die” off the list if I were dead.  I said that I would arrange it so that I would check the down stroke of the checkmark the moment before I died, and then die somehow upside down so that gravity would complete the upstroke.  I meant this in a cleverly morbid Agatha Christie sense, not some creepy suicidal sense.  And anyway, I suppose the system is still imperfect since I never checked off when I was born or a gazillion other important life events.  But yes, I think I am going to start living by my checklist.   It will be a good thing.

Write blog… check.

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