Another Interview, Another Challenge

Trisha asked and I answered the call! And I really have to thank her because I needed something to write about and I am in a rut….

1. You’ve been chosen as a contestant on Survivor Devil Island. What skills would you bring to the island to help your team and then ultimately yourself?
scan0022 As you can see by this example, I’m more than adept at building houses out of available materials…
Ok, actually, this a “Fairy House” I came across on my first trip to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. And it’s made from twigs, bark and moss and not mighty branches and logs from the massive trees in the woods…and yeah, did I mention I didn’t actually build it? Yeah, so I really have nothing to offer when it come to survival in the wilderness.  Besides watching “SurvivorMan” or “Man VS Wild”, I have no experience with surviving in the wilderness without basic camping gear. Give me a tent, some cooking gear and maybe a gun, and I might make it 24 hours….So I think the first camp council on my season of Survivor would involve the rest of my tribe voting off my sunburnt (yeah, the native american genes did not involve my pigmentation at all!) and crying ass.
2. You’ve just won $28,000,000. in Powerball! What will you do with all that money?
66-5So after everyone in my family has been taken care of…and after I’ve quit my job…and after I’ve moved in to my new seaside villa…and after I’ve whipped myself into shape with my 24 hour on call personal trainer…and after I’ve taken care of my good friends needs…and after I’ve bought my friends bands new gear and funded their next album…and after I’ve set up a scholarship foundation for underprivileged art majors…after ALL of that, I would load up the car and fullfill a lifelong dream. I would drive out to Chicago and find Old Route 66 and drive cross country. I have a fascination with all the old kitschy stuff that cropped up along this once major highway that runs from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica. One of the purest joys in my life has always been just hopping my car and just driving and seeing all the old Americana, being able to experince a truly “American” experience (the fabled love affair with the automobile and all the road side attractions that helped build) and maybe writing a book about my experience or at the very least, do some photography and painting along the way. One thing I would have to add to this experience would be stopping along the way and visiting with the many amazing people I’ve met online over the years. 🙂
Then after all that, I would open up the restaurant I mentioned in my last post and hopefully somewhere in my travels, I would have met the woman of my dreams. But thats a post for another time…
3. Giada DeLaurentis asks you to audition for her show. What dish would you prepare for her and give us the recipe , please!
giadaI have to admit, the idea of being featured on a cooking show would definitely intrigue me. Whenever I cook for my friends, I have this tendency to talk out loud about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, how long something takes to cook and how to properly dice something. Aparently, this is an unconscious habit that I do even when I’m alone. Ok, I know that sounds like I’m a little nutty, talking to myself while I cook, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t enjoy some of my eccentricities. 🙂
I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that Giada would ask me to audition for anything, but lets say she wanted me on to feature a recipe from my restaurant (you know, the one I would open after I win Powerball…) so I’m thinking I would have to make something slightly italian so I would probably make a cold cut and italian sausage omellette.
4 eggs beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsely
a sampling of italian deli meats chopped roughly equalling about 1/2 lb : prosciutto, mortadella, capicola are some good examples.
1/4 lb diced pancetta, pan seared
2 italian spicy sausages, grilled and chopped
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
2 roma tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped roughly
roasted red pepper, chopped
one cup mozzarella
1/4 fresh parmesan, roughly grated
salt
pepper
basil
oregano
juice of one lemon
In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the milk and whisk to combine. Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste. In a large non stick pan, grill the onions till they start to carmelize and combine with the green and red peppers, garlic, pancetta and sausage.
On a large flat skillet that has been either buttered or at least had some non stick spray applied to it, pour on the egg mixture. Make sure the skillet is piping hot before tossing the egg on there. From here, this all comes together rather quickly. I’m a big fan of the tri-fold method of omellette making so the egg spreads out thin across the skillet, giving you a rather large middle area to combine your ingrediants. As the egg starts to firm up, put down a handfull of mozzarella and then layer on the deli meat followed by the pancetta/sausage/veggie mixture. Squeeze on top a little juice from a lemon, add another handfull of cheese and fold together the omellette. Remove the pan from the heat, layer the sliced tomatos across the top of the omellette, then smother with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then take entire pan and set in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes to further melt the cheese and fuse the flavors. After the cheese has melted and appears golden brown, remove from oven, garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with your favorite hash or a mixed green salad.
4. If you could make a home for yourself anywhere on the planet where would you live permanently? Can you describe your home in detail? Money is, of course, no object.
scan0007scan0047scan0012Monhegan Island would be somewhere near the top of my list. I loved this place from the first moment I set foot on the island.  I wrote about my first experience there here, here, here and here. That one experince made me a fan. Sadly, I’ve only been back there twice since and only on the same kind of day trips. Eventually, when I get the free time, I plan on spending alot more time there. It has long been a refuge for artists, the Wyeth family had a home there, Hopper painted here and countless other artists have immortalized this tiny little slice of heaven.  Isolated as it is in the Gulf of Maine, it would take alot of committment to want to live there year round. A healthy love of all things seafood and a stronger set of sea legs would be a start. But the idea of living and breathing art for the rest of my life? Yeah, thats pretty tempting….And if I had a house on the island, I would want an ocean view (not hard to do on an island) with a large studio space custom built with huge bay windows facing the ocean. All the rest would be details, but a massive kitchen to cook and entertain in and of course my own mini  movie theater. 🙂
5. You’re dissatisfied with the work you do. If you could do only one thing for the rest of your life what would you do?
sirsy7joey-sarah-and-lourdsI think I would be the happiest man in the world if I could help my friends in Sirsy and Lourds. I would love nothing better than doing photography and and promotional work for them and helping in some small way. And I would definitely do this on breaks from living on Monhegan Island. 🙂
So heres the rules again in case you forgot already:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

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Pictures of My Little Vacation

Relaxed.
That’s how I feel right now. In an hour or so, I have to return to work, but I wanted to come on here and share some of the sights from my little foray into western New York.I plan on writing a long blog about the silliness of the last few days. I want to thank 2LazyDogs for being the perfect tour guide and partner in crime.
dock

Docks on Lake Erie

ice

Ice on the lake.

swan

random swan

carphoto

Derelict Car

freezing

Freezing on Lake Chautauqua with my gracious host 2LD.

niagara11

Niagara

rainbow

Rainbow

more-beauty

still-life-with-rapids

frozen-hosts-2

drumsticks

Melanie playing with the Hard Rock Cafe drumsticks I gave her.

packed-in1

Sirsy packs everyone in.

jammed-together

It was a beautiful couple of days full of good food, great conversation, amazing sights and ended with a night of music and silliness. I’ll write more later, but hopefully this will do for now.

Vacation!!!

Four years is definitely way way too long…..
I haven’t had the opportunity to get away in a very long time. I have had no time to decompress, let go of all my anxieties and just relax and be me for a few days. The option of a vacation was denied to me at every turn: salesmanager quit, we need you here every single day for the next two months, salesmanager gets fired and we need you here every day until we find a replacement or the general manager has fallen ill and we need you here every day since the new sales manager isn’t confident enough to run the place on his own.
Ok, that last one was nobody’s fault and thankfully, the general manager recovered and is feeling better than ever. But, at every turn, something has come up. Three years ago, I convinced myself I needed to work as much as possible to try to forget the ex and the three years I wasted with her. So I worked, non-stop and work was happy to take advantage of this martyrdom. Then someone figured out that even though I was doing this to myself, I was definitely in violation of a few labor laws. So they cut back my hours. Suddenly I found myself with time off. And what did I do? I filled all that time off with new projects: supporting bands, doing photography and starting this new adventure here, writing the thoughts that crossed my tiny mind.
And then oil hit $140 a barrel. In a panic, I sought out a second part time job.
So now, working at my main job about 50 hours a week, working part time at the new job for 20 hours a week and on top of that, still working with bands and friends, still doing photography and trying my best to express myself on here. Something was going to snap.
A few weeks ago, I had a bad day. After several days of no sleep, a customer came in and teed off at me about a mistake on their paperwork. A mistake made 7 months ago that they are just now noticing and after calmly explaining to them that there was nothing I could at this point, they proceeded to call me an idiot and I lost my shit on them!We ended up in a yelling match at my desk that ended when my manager came down, took my side and told the customer to get out for being rude and unproductive and to call him later on how the customer can go about fixing the problem on his own.
I sat down, rather embarassed. I never loose my patience like that, I never scream at people. The manager came back down to my desk with a piece of paper. A written warning to go in my file. My heart sank. I pride myself on my cool and being able to handle people, but this very public altercation was something management couldn’t ignore. He slid the piece of paper across the desk for me to sign, patted me on the shoulder as he got up.
“You were right, you know but being right doesn’t mean taking it that far with a customer” he said. “next time, just walk away”
I had forgotten that. Proving a point to someone who really doesn’t give a shit neither makes a point nor does it prove it. All I did was hurt myself.
After a few minutes at my desk, I heard a friends voice in the back of my head.
“Vacation! Vacation! Vacation!” She said.
I looked over my calendar. Maybe this is what I need, time away. Time to just do nothing. Looking over the month, I found January 1st. Good way to start the year off. I circled it on my calendar, filled out my request and the manager agreed that I needed it and it was a smart decision on my part to realize my limitations and how sometimes, you need to just be away.
So starting tomorrow, I will be gone from here.
No phone calls.
No titles.
No nothing.
Just me in my car….
I’m heading out to western New York to relax and just be for a few days. I have the honor of having the opportunity to hang with my good friend 2LazyDogs. I see wine and good food in my future as well as exquisite company and excellent conversation.Besides visitng the Lake Erie area, Niagara Falls is also on the agenda, a natural wonder I have never had the chance to see.
And on my ride home on Saturday night, stopping in Marcellus NY at a place called the Village Tavern to see my good friends Sirsy perform. If you are anywhere near there, I highly reccomend braving the winter chill and checking them out! New venue for them and they are hoping for a good turnout. (Shameless Plug)
So I have 4 days of driving, laughing and enjoying myself. Four days I really need. Four days. It won’t be long enough.

Music that is rockin my cd player (stolen from 2LD)

As the title implies, I stole this from 2LazyDogs. I have been a little sick for the past week and just been avoiding writing anything and I was happy as hell to see a MEME I could sink my teeth into. So here is the music that is rocking my socks right now! I’m not tagging anyone for this but feel free to steal , rinse, lather and repeat! 🙂

The Horrorpops

How can you not love this band? Psychobilly silliness, gorgeous singer and goth girl go-go dancers!

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Old school video from the old days of the Boston punk scene…ah, memories.

Dropkick Murphys

The dvd that this video comes from has yours truly toasting the camera during one of the songs, albeit from a distance….

 The Dresden Dolls

Been following these two for ages and absolutely love the quirkiness and the whole punk cabaret aesthetic.

SIRSY

Gotta give a shout out to my good friends from Albany. Not the best sound on this video but you may notice a dashing young man in black snapping photos from the crowd…..

Elizabeth and the Catapult

This video has nothing to do with the band. Funny juxtaposition with World Of Warcraft and this song…love it.  Yup, I’m a geek. First heard this band on NPR and been loving them ever since.

The White Stripes

I love the Stripes and damn this album is so loud and almost perfect from beginning to end!

The Raconteurs

More silliness from Mr White and his co-conspirators. This album is another testimony to his diversity and guitar skills.

Suicide City

Yup, I had to add a little screamo-silliness! Love the bass player and they put on a hell of a show!

Soul Coughing

Love this song and I can’t get it out of my head!!!

LOURDS

And finally, my friends from New York City. Not the best sound on this video but you can hear the violin and guitar clearly as well as Miss Lourds voice and again, you may notice a certain photographer in the audience…..

Counting Breathes : For Pam (Fall 2006)

Counting Breathes

“What do you think her wishes are?”

“Are we doing the right thing?”

“How do we live with our decision?”

My sister Pam died friday afternoon at 1:20 pm. It wasn’t sudden. It wasn’t unexpected. We just weren’t ready.

Pam had a hard life. At the age of 12, she fell off of a bicycle my uncle had shown her how to ride. She fell head first over the front of the bike and fractured her skull. Although she would heal from this injury, it wouild lead to lifetime of seizures. Random moments that would erase her memory temporarily and required a day or so for her to be herself again. Another result of this condition was hydrocephalus, a problem that would come back to haunt her later in life.

I was born when Pam was in her late teens. My mother worked full time and as a result, Pam took over the responsibilities for me in my early childhood. My father, during my early youth, was in the final stages of his cancer. He died in 76 when I was 4 years old. Pam became like a second mother for me, helping raise me while mom worked.

All of my best childhood memories involved Pam. Even my first kiss was her fault: she left me alone in her car with a little girl called Randa. We were in kindergerten at the time and when she pulled into the Star Market parking lot to run inside and grab cigarrettes. We pretended to be asleep and when Randa put her head on my little shoulder, I stole my first kiss.

Pam stood all of 4 feet and maybe 9 or 10 inches. By 4th grade, I was taller than her. She had an old Plymouth Fury, a huge bomber of an old car that she drove by staring through the steering wheel. If you saw the car from a distance, you would swear there was no driver. Whenever I was taken clothes shopping as a kid, she would grudgingly come along because she bought most of her clothes in the kids section too. She had long straight black hair, a throwback to our Native American heritage. She was always proud of her waist length hair, something she had til her dying day.

Many times, my sister would take me on road trips. I had seen her use checks before and with no concrete understanding of how money worked, whenever she said she couldn’t buy me a donut or a soda, I would pipe up and say,”Just write a check for it!!” She thought that was hysterical and would tell that story over and over. We would take day trips to the white mountains, hang out with her biker friends and spend long days just driving. She had a little red portable 8 track player that she kept on the front seat between us. When we would get someplace where we couldn’t recieve her favorite stations, she would pop in an 8 track. I remember “Bat Out of Hell” getting alot of airplay one summer.

When I was 9, I went with her and a bunch of other people to my first concert. I remember several bands playing that day but the one that stood out was The Clash. I did not understand their importance then, but this one concert changed my whole view of what music was and what it did for me. I thank Pam every day for that, whether she meant to or not, she profoundly shaped my tastes in music.

In the mid 80’s, while my sister and her future husband were living out in Kittery Point, she had a car accident. The accident shattered the passenger window next to her face. Tiny shards of glass became embedded into her cheeks, pieces so fine that for years afterwards, a piece would occassionally surface over and over again. Her complexion changed from this experience. Due to the accident, her cheeks had the appearance like she had bad acne: she wasn’t disfigured, but in her mind, she no longer considered herself pretty. She would get upset whenever someone took her picture, doing her best to hide her face. This went on for years until her wedding day to Richard. I was in 8th grade and for the first time in years, she allowed me to take her picture. She was beaming and happy that day, something I had not seen years. I look at the photos now and remember that day like it was yesterday.

When I was the first person in the Parnell family to graduate from high school, she cheered the loudest. I remember being up on that stage and staring at the blank faces of my fellow students. They had all been cheering and applauding everyone before me but when I hit the stage, dead silence. My heart sank: people I spent 12 years with and even then, at the moment of our departure from that wretched experience we call high school, even then they had to play the popularity card and shun me as they had done for 12 years. For a moment, I wanted to grab the mic from Principal Zito’s hands and scream “GO FUCK YOURSELVES!!!!” at my classmates. Just then I heard a loud “WOOHOO!!!” coming from the bleachers, and there was Pam, jumping up and down with her arms in the air, waving to me. I smiled, took my diploma and never looked back.

College years and my 20’s are a bit of a blur for me. I started to build a life for myself and relied on my mom for updates about the family. Slowly, I started to realize all was not well with my sister. She hidit well from me.

Since the car accident, she had steady pain in her back and neck, pain that would periodically creep up on her. She saw many specialists over the years but none of them knew what was wrong. And then the seizures started increasing in frequency. Thats when we found out that, due to her hydrocephalus, there was an excessive amount of fluid in her skull and the pressure was beyond a tolerable threshold and they were forced to put a shunt into her skull that drained fluid into her stomach. She had many operations to do this because, due to her accident as a child, her brain had healed abnormally, clinging to the sides of her skull in places, leaving little room for the fluid and even less room for them to safely put in a shunt. During this time, she started to lose weight.

When the shunt was finely successfully implanted, the doctors found another problem. With the countless mri’s she had to endure, several showed damage to her spinal column in her neck. Another round of operations to try to correct her neck. More weight loss. The final operation was the worst: they removed tendons from the front of her neck. Without the tendons, she could no longer hold up her head on her own. She walked around with her head slumped over and to the side. She lost more weight.

Then 3 years ago, she had a stroke. We all thought we were going to lose her then. In the hospital room, she was surrounded by friends and family who loved her. She was mumbling to herself alot, like she in a conversation with someone. Nobody knew what to make of it. She was unconscious that first day but the second day was different.

I don’t know why, but as I was racing up to visit her in the hospital. I stopped off and got her favorite coffee: reg coffee, extra extra. No flavors for her. As she told me once “Hazelnut and french vanilla are for pussies!!!!”. She was never one to mince words. Armed with her coffee, I entered her room to what we all thought was her deathbed. I put the coffee down next to her and she opened her eyes.

“Boy that smells good!!” she said, much to everyones shock. We got her a straw and she happily sipped her coffee. She had no idea what day it was but she explained to us that she had spent what she thought were days arguing with Grandma. Grandma had come to visit her and told her it wasn’t her time and she needed to go back and no matter what Pam said to her, Grandma refused to listen and told her she was needed elsewhere and reluctantly, she had come back. At this point, I should add that Grandma had been dead 33 years. Whether this all happened in her mind or what, I would not begin to guess.

Her rehab was slow, painful and for every step forward, there were several steps back. She was confined to a wheelchair but was resolute about walking again, managing to get herself upright in a walker and around counters. Her body was wracked with pain 24 hours a day and as a result, she had an oxycontin pump installed. This cracked me up to no end because the thing was on a timer. She would be in midsentence telling you about something important when the drug would kick in and she would stop and just giggle for a minute and forget what she was talking about.

Due to the stroke, not only was her mobility limited but so was her short term memory. She would forget little details at first, which was no big deal, but as time went on, she couldn’t recognize names right away or voices. I always had to add “your brother” when I said my name to her. Then she would perk up and say “Hi Brother Dear!!” The memory loss also resulted in the police breaking down the front door of the house on three seperate occassions. She had an emergency alert button on her phone that immediately summoned the police to her house. She would forget what it was for and press it, reulting in the police showing up at their downstairs door and since she had no way of answering, the cops would just break in. Three times this happend and three times, poor Richard would have to install a brand new door.

She was a fighter. She was stubborn and refused to give up on herself. And her husband Richard was a saint and a half! He took care of her so well. A truly remarkable man who did what none of us could have done and when he couldn’t handle things, he had caregivers who would look after her while he was working or away on a training trip for work.

Tuesday morning. This week.

I wake up to my cell phone ringing. I grabbed it and ran outside in my bathrobe so I could have a signal. Richard never called me unless it was important. I flip open the phone and all I hear is hysterical crying. From Richard, the saint, the man who could handle anything. I knew it was bad. He said they were at the ICU at Frisbie hospital and the doctors told him to get family there as soon as possible.

She had been taken to the hospital because she was running a fever. In the ambulance ride over, she began to complain about her breathing. Suddenly she wasn’t breathing and she asked for them to insert the tubes into her lungs so she could breathe. That was the last thing anyone ever heard her say. Her fever spiked, her breathing now dependant on a machine, she slipped into a coma. When we got there, my tiny little sister was covered in tubes. Her breathing caused her body to heave up and to the left. Every breath looked labored and painful. Occassionally, she would grimace, but as those first few hours went on, all expression stopped.

My mom was ashen wehn we first entered the icu. I thought she was going to fall over so I led her to a chair next to the bed where she held my sisters hand. Richard was in the corner of the room. I had never seen him like this. I think he knew then. Pam was still fighting but her body was losing whatever war it was raging.

Wednsday

I had to work all day but kept my cell phone close by me. Richard called to let me know she had stabilized. The doctors also had a good idea what was causing this. In the past year, Pam had been permanently cathaterized since she could not control those functions. An infection from the cathater had spread to her bladder, to her kidneys. Her tiny body was fighting a massive infection.

Thursday

Things got worse. Just when she had been showing signs of some minor improvement (returned warmth to her extremities , lowered blood pressure) the infection spread throughout her entire body. Her kidneys were shutting down. Sitting in the icu, the doctor explained about DNR. I didn’t want to listen. I wanted some sign from Pam. I wanted her to open her eyes. I wanted her to see me, smile, hear her make fun of my weight, my hair, something. This mass of tubes that shifted with every single wracking breathe was not my sister. My sister was no longer there.

Friday

Richard calls us at 8am.

“Come up now.”

When my mother and I arrived, we knew that what we didn’t want to face was finally here. My sister could no ,longer breathe on her own at all and her heart was still beating due to a complex solution of drugs that I did not understand. I crashed into a chair. One of my sisters hands was sticking out from under the blanket, swollen, mottled, the tips turning purple. Looking at her face, her pallor had become a sort of yellowy waxen appearance. Every breathe still caused her body to heave to one side but there was less a sense that it was bothering her. I started to cry. The doctor came in.

“What were her wishes? Did she wish to have these extraordinary measures taken for her benefit?”

Richard looked at me and then to my mom then back to me.

“What do you think? Would Pam want this?” Richard asked me, the tears rolling down his face into his long beard.

I didn’t know what to say. How was this my decision? Why did my opinion matter? I said, “look, I’m not making this decision. Either we all make this decision together or none of us make it. I can’t be the one to do this alone.”

The doctor slowly explained our options to us. First of all, they could keep going with the current treatment until her heart gives out. Her body, in an attempt to fight this infection, had raised her core temperature to 103 degrees and her heart was racing at a pace that was causing other functions to shut down. To prolong this treatment would still leave her in a coma and when her heart failed (not if, but when…) the means they would have to resuscitate her would fruther damage her body and only end up weakening her further and she would more than likely never come out of the coma.

Our second option was surprisingly simple: stop treatment. Stop the drugs, stop the breathing machine, administer morphine and, as he put it, let nature take its course.

We chose simplicity.

First they stopped the drug treatments. We sat and watched. We watched and shared good stories, talking to Pam and each other. We kissed her forehead and thanked her for the happiness she brought us. Then several nurses came in to remove the breathing tubes, the tubes for draining fluid from her lungs, her stomach, her chest wall. Suddenly, as the nurses left the room, I could see my sisters face again. She looked peaceful finally. No pain, no tubes, just Pam asleep on the pillow. Her breathing without the machine became far less labored. I smiled through my tears.

We watched the monitor and Pam. The room became very quiet. The monitor slowly started to show the reduced heart rate, reduced oxygen saturation and reduced breathes per minute. We watched. I found myself counting her breathes, watching each rise and fall of her tiny chest.

1

2

3

They administered morphine. The rising of her chest became shallower.

4

5

6

Mom said goodbye through the tissues she had wrapped around her nose. Richard clutched her hand. I felt like I was going numb, my voice sounded distant to me like it came from down the hall, not part of me at all but some echoey hollow meaningless noise.

7

8

I think I said goodbye.

The nurses came in to shut off the machines. We sat with her for an hour, discussing everything from cremation to what kind of remembrance ceremony we should have. We all cried together and finally, after every nurse had paid their respects and expressed their condolences, we left.

In the parking lot, there were talks of phone calls and appointments. Promises to get in touch soon, exclamations of concern “If you need me for anything, just call me!” I told Richard. We parted ways. I took mom home, I cooked her dinner and fielded a few phone calls from well meaning relatives who wanted all the details. After the fifth phone call, I couldn’t take it anymore and my mom took over. I found myself going to Boston. I needed something to distract myself. Sirsy were playing at the Kinsale in Boston and I decided I had to go. I had no choice. I needed to be away.

Meeting up with Mel, Rich and Jessica and helping them set up a little was like therapy: keeping myself busy. H finally arrived. She had been a great help through all of this since she had been part of similar circumstances involving hard choices like mine. She ran up and gave me the biggest hug I have ever gotten from such a tiny person and I broke again. I started crying but this time it was good. Made me feel better than I had all day. I felt alive and the numbness that had taken over drained away. I enjoyed a wonderful nite of good music, good food and even better friends. I found myself with something I didn’t know I had: support. I was humbled by my lack of perception of the importance of these people in my life.

At the end of the evening, after many drinks (mostly ice water, right J?) I headed back home. Promises were made to hang out again soon. Hope was there that it would all work out. I smiled, genuinely happy for the first time that week,being with these people I have chosen to have in my life. Or did they choose me???

On the drive home, I thought of my sister Pam and how she would have enjoyed that show. She always loved live music and would dance up a storm back in the day. She had so much spirit and life, even when her body failed or betrayed her, you still felt her fire. I know she would have approved my going out last nite. I felt her with me, laughing at my friends jokes, in the car with me on the long ride. Think she was poking fun at my new diet and my lack of progress on my gut. She always teased me.

Finally, at home in bed, I found myself drifting off to sleep. My mind concentrated on my own breathing, counting off the moments until darkness finally took me. I can only hope that my sister drifted off as peacefully.

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3

…..

Boston, Boiled Dinners and Sirsy, Part 3

 

So after the frozen desserts we enjoyed, we did our Rocky impersonation up the stairs to Government Center. For anyone who has never been to Govt center in Boston, there is a massive set of stairs leading from the Faneuil Hall area up to the large open public space that is Govt Center. Every time I hike up those stairs, you can’t help but hear the Rocky theme going in your brain, even though I’m usually out of breath at the top of the stairs and not able to jump around. Though I have been known to throw out a “Yo Adrian” from the top of the stairs….much to the worry of other passerbys.

We cross the street and finally, we were at the Kinsale. I sincerely love this place: it’s a small irish themed restaurant and bar, great food, good choice of beers, a little refuge amidst all the the offices along this road. The people there seem to be sincerely pleased to see anyone wander in and the door man acted almost embarassed to be asking us for money to come in. ($5 cover to see Sirsy) When we first parked, Dawn and I had run in just to use the bathrooms and so I could show her where it was before heading out to dinner, and as we were leaving, the doorman thanked us for stopping in. Dawn looked at me and said “did he just thank you for coming in and peeing?” I laughed.

We rounded the corner of the restaurant and there was Mel and the gang setting up. Grins and hellos were had, but I knew they were busy, so I quickly introduced Dawn to the band, then made a hasty retreat to the far end of the bar to sit and relax and enjoy a drink. I am always paranoid of being a pain in the ass and getting in the way when they are setting up their equipment. To be honest, I could probably help with all that since I used to do the sound whenever a band played at my college station or the folk music/open mic nites at the pub on campus. (Note to self: Apply for roadie job with Sirsy…heeehee) But Rather than offer my assistance, I leave them be and Dawn and I find two stools to hang out at. The waiter, a guy with long hair who, ACCORDING TO Dawn is a dead ringer for Mitch Hedberg, even though I don’t see it. Anyway, this waiter, the last time I was here, was good at picking the right beer for me. Whenever there are too many beers on tap, I like putting it on the waiter to pick something for me. This time, he picks an ESB and Dawn has a jack and coke. Mine arrives and I tell Dawn that I like this beer, very hoppy nutty and bittery flavor. She laughs and says she loves her jack and coke because its very jacky and cokey.

As the band gets ready, we survey the crowd. Because this is a business district, there were a lot of stuffed suits. The kind of people I work with, the sports and boobs crowd. As we are drinking our drinks and making fun of the people, Dawn notices that people keep looking at her then looking above her with concern on their faces. Getting more and more paranoid, she informs me that people are staring at her. I point up above her head….there was a tv with a basketball game on. Dawn then turned a lovely shade of red.

Finally Sirsy start their first set. We make a beeline for a table right in front of Sirsy. That familiar feeling of joy I get whenever I hear Sirsy is aparent when a big grin pops up on my face as I sing along. Dawn looks genuinely surprised at this transformation in me. She happily mocks my singing along with the band. But I notice she is rockin out too. After the second or third song, Heidi comes skulking around the corner…..She had told me she wasn’t sure if she was coming tonite due to her appointment with an old friend. But sure enough and true to form, H had brought her friend along for the Sirsy festivities. Surprised and happy, I gave h a big a hug and introduced her to Dawn, whom she had heard so much about during the Kate Chaos but had never had a chance to meet.

This was the high point of the evening for me. Two friends who had stood by me through all the chaos of the past few months in one place with a band we all loved. As a side note, I realize this is what I wanted all along but the ex would never allow: hanging out with ALL of my friends and having a good time, not just the ones that she approved of. The week before at the Parting Glass had the same feeling and putting Dawn into the mix just made it alll that much sweeter.

After giving up our table to some women who were ordering food and needed a place to sit, we hovered around Guario’s table o’stuff. The First set ended and we hung out with the band and H and Dawn chatted with each other as well as the band. Virgil and I got into a conversation about music involving Jon Zorn, Mr Bungle, Naked City and various artists and musical styles. He turns out to be a fan of experimental music and I was pleased to have someone to talk to about this stuff. When I used to do my radio show, I would play stuff by Praxis and the Boredoms, not to mention John Zorn,Naked City, Mr Bungle, etc and a lot of people get confused when they hear this glorious noise. The mixtures of styles and influences all melded usually into one song was baffling to some listeners, but I eat that stuff up…I love the musicianship of being able to do a full on punk rock noise song then stop on a dime and turn it into a jazz odyssey, then stop again and turn it into a blues song, then funk,then back to punk. I love that. And ultimately, I think that’s what I love about Sirsy: there is no definable style to their music, it’s a mixture of everything. Put simply: They sound like Sirsy. There are elements of jazz, funk, alternative rock, indie aesthetics, its all there. That’s why I have become such a fan. The mixture of styles and influences coming together for one coherent and original sound without coming across as derivitive or imitative. Music that moves you without sounding like anything else. I love it.

During this Break, Greg was working the crowd with the set list, asking for requests,. I told him I wanted to hear Fine. That song gives me chills every time I hear it. Greg asked if I was staying through the third set to which Dawn gave me a look and I responded “well, up to Fine, then we have to leave” Greg smirked and added it to the list.

The music started up for the second set and I fell in love with These Are Days all over again. Mel and the band have mastered and reworked this song to make it their own. I used to drool over Natalie Merchant when she would dance around on stage singing this song and I never thought anyone could make me love the song more.  As my friend Dawn said later in the car, Mel’s voice on that song is similar to Natalies, but she manages to do so much more with her range and vocals than I have ever heard Natalie attempt. As a side note, I have to agree with Heidi, I’m not sure people are listening to the lyrics of Lie To Me when they start slow dancing to it.

At some point during this set, Dawn and I were talking about something, probably her making fun of me for singing along again. When I talk, I do tend to be a little expressive and make hand gestures and it was during one particularly wild gesture that I backhanded a waitress. Right into her chest. Whoops. Now, this was not a bad backhand, wasn’t like I pulled a karate move and knocked her on her ass or something, just my hand connected with her boobs. I was embarassed, I never saw her coming up behind me as she was, so it was totally unintentional. I was expecting the waitress to be upset, but instead, she just laughed and without missing a beat said “That’s the most action I’ve had all night…” I smiled and said “Geez, I feel like I should tip you now” to which she just laughed and went about her merry way. I guess working in an environment where people intentionally grab your ass all nite, having someone unintentionally backhanding your boobs is a pleasant change of pace. I was still embarassed though.

The second set ended and Rich came over to me. Out of the blue, he suddenly asks me why my screen name is glassowater. I smiled. This was a well worn story that I have related over and over again since 1997 when I first used that as a login for yahoo. The first time I sat down in front of a computer at the now defunct Cybercafe in Portsmouth NH, I needed a login to start my internet adventures. So I tried all sorts of names. I wanted something original and provocative. Something that would make people think and smile and perhaps, a name that could change the world. However, no matter how many times I tried, they were all taken. All my usual logins were all taken: Riff Raff, Pugsley, FrankNFurter, all were taken. I tried for hours for something original and exciting, to no avail. They were all taken. Then, in the midst of my despair, I saw it. In the dim glow of the computer light, there, illuminated before me was….a glass o water. My heart stopped. Could that work? Would it be taken???

I went to the yahoo page and entered Glassowater….and yes, it was approved….The hallellujah chorus started up in my brain and from that day forward, on any system I log into, I’m always glassowater or a variant thereof.

Rich looked amused by this. I guess he liked the embellishments I made to a simple story of finding a login…Then Mel comes over and asks the same question and in the retelling, she giggled at my silliness. I informed her that I would have to leave during the third set, probably after Fine to which Mel gave me a big hug and thanked me for showing up.

The week before at the Parting Glass, Heidi had been very upset with me. After the gig, I didn’t go right home ( a four hour drive) but instead, I stuck around and chatted with the band and everyone else. This annoyed her because she was worried about me having an accident on the ride back, knowing that I would not get to sleep properly since I was going straight to work. The feeling of doom coming from her was palpable. This week at the Kinsale, she was happy and smiling. She told Dawn and I how she felt so much better about me driving around late at night with a co-pilot in the vehicle. And Heidi wonders why I call her Mom now…heehee. We let her know we were leaving during the third set and got big hugs from her and her friend. The set started up and I settled in for the final few songs I would get to hear.

About four songs in, a huge grin comes across Mels face and she looks at me and says “this is for glassowater”. And Fine started up. This song kills me everytime. I love the imagery (someone having a bit of a meltdown in a grocery store in the middle of the night), the musicianship is masterful, the antics are hysterical and it is the best example of Mel going through her entire range in one song. And the middle, I can’t tell you how many times she has gone into that and the entire room has completely stopped. People milling around at the bar, watching sports, suddenly turn wondering what was that? Every time I get goosebumps. This song is a great example of the power of this band that will never be translated onto cd. This song is my main reason to see them live. It’s overpowering and wonderful and you don’t want it to end.

I was happy now. I had heard the song, even had it dedicated to me (swoon) and my friend Dawn was now a fan. We gathered up our coats and made our way to the door. Smiles and nods from the band as we exited to Virgil singing Fire, I bowed to him as we exited the Kinsale out into the cold night.

Boston, Boiled Dinners and Sirsy

This is from January, 2006.

Last Friday, I went to see Sirsy again, but this time it was special. My friend Dawn was finally coming to see them with me. I had tried on several occassions to get Dawn to come along to a show, but I swear, everything short of natural disasters and alien invaders got in the way of her being able to go. Every time we would have a trip mapped out and planned and something would happen to cancel everything. This time, it was supposed to be Dawn, her boyfriend and Dawn’s sister to all come along. And true to form, things started to fall apart….First, Dawn’s sister dropped out, claiming difficulties with her now ex and moving,etc…then, Dawn’s boyfriend wasn’t sure if he was coming because he had an early appointment on saturday morning, then he couldn’t come at all due to circumstances beyond his control…..

That left just me and Dawn….I waited all day for that fatefull phone call from Dawn…”I’ve had an accident”, “The Car won’t start”, “aliens have landed and taken over Brunswick, ME”. But no, none of that happened and she met me in Portsmouth. I couldn’t believe it, we were actually going into Boston for a show…and a boiled dinner.

Now I know what you are thinking: why go to boston for a boiled dinner??? Why go all that way for something you can boil the shit out of on your own time. Well, for D, it was something she hadn’t had since she was a kid and for me, growing up in New England, a boiled dinner is a tradition.

We found our way into Boston with no traffic and pulled right into the parking garage next to the Kinsale. Wandering out intot the cold streets of Boston, we made our way towards Faneuil Hall and Quincey Market, in search of one of the best traditional restaurants in Boston: Durgin Park.

After checking the menu to confirm the existence of the boiled dinner, we darted up the stairs and were greeted by a kindly older gentleman who greeted us with a sly grin. I could tell he thought we were a couple. He said “let me show you to a quiet table” and immediately plopped us down in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by families enjoying their dinners, loudly. At first, Dawn didn’t get the joke. She leaned across the table and said “didn’t he say he was going to take us to a quiet table?”

I smiled. Having heard of this place all my life, I knew the story. They have a tradition there of having the waitresses act rudely and basically treating everybody equally. I loved it. You saw waitresses telling people what they were getting, people laughing and playing along. Great atmosphere. After briefly scanning the menu again, we ordered our boiled dinners.

When the food came out, it was amazing, the corned beef was falling apart and the vegetables were done just right. I devoured my plate of food, thinking I ate too fast when I looked over at Dawn’s plate which was almost as clean as mine. We leaned back in our chairs and fought off the urge to nap right there in the restaurant…..

After Dawn paid for dinner (she owed me one) we struck out into the cold again in search of dessert……

more later…I have to go to work