Thursday, January 31, 2013
Word around the campfire is that there is a recession on--we'll all have to make due with less, I guess, and that includes your regular dose of Mikeyisms.
Thinking back over the past week, I realize that I've been much busier than usual. It's not like I have a bunch of people pulling me in different directions, but I still try to load up my figurative plate with things to do, and sometimes, it gets to be too much. It's much tougher to make friends here in Nashville than it was out in Vegas where we were all strangers in a strange town, so I've been trying to put myself out there and keep busy. And to be honest, when I worked at the casino, I loved hanging out with my co-workers after my shift or on our nights off, but here, for the most part, I don't dig the job very much, and the people I work with I tend to keep at arm's length. I don't really socialize with them, and once you're an adult, it's pretty tough to make new friends outside of work.
However, I have a pretty good network around here, and the hippies have introduced me to most of their friends and we all get along well. Of course, it works in my favor because most of them are accomplished musicians, and a little bit of talent rubs off on me from time to time. I love to go to their self-described 'Geek Jams' and fumble my way through a few songs on the bass whenever I can. They rock the house while I play whole notes and count to four over and over again, trying to anticipate the chord changes.
It's a work in progress.
Of course y'all know that I love to hike, too. In fact, just this morning I did a three-and-a-half mile hike along the Honey Run Creek in White House. I did the exact same hike last summer, and I had to stop and rest a couple of times along the way. This morning, however, I powered right along and only paused to answer a text message and to snap this picture:
I had a pretty good pace going and it only took me about an hour and twenty minutes. This is a huge personal victory for me, especially when I think about how long it took the last time around. For those of you who sit in a cube all day, get up off the couch this weekend and try to walk three-and-a-half miles without stopping to rest. It's not as easy as it sounds when you're not in any kind of shape. And I don't mean on a treadmill, either--go out in the real world and experience some hills. Of course I'm a long way from hosting an episode of The Biggest Loser and cracking the whip on people with the same kind of body type as me, but it feels good to be able to motor right along.
Hell, if I were back in Vegas with any of you clowns, we could wander the Strip all day and I wouldn't have to pretend to tie my shoe in order to get a rest break...
Anyhow, besides hiking around on my own, I decided to join a couple of Meetup.com groups here in Nashville. There are a few hiking groups that I'm a part of--the Tennessee Backpacking meetup, the Middle Tennessee Hiking meetup, and even a writers group.
This past Saturday night, one of the hiking groups sponsored a Full Moon Hike down at Edwin Warner Park. I'd planned on doing the one they had in December, but as I recall there was a Christmas tree emergency at the hippies' house, and well, I was unable to attend. I wasn't going to miss it this time around.
It gets dark around 5:30 nowadays, and the hike was scheduled for 7:30 that evening. I got there a few minutes early and was surprised to find that about 50 people showed up. I made pleasant conversation and small talk with a few other attendees, but we were freezing our asses off. It had been really cold for a few days prior, and well, after dark in January, what did I expect?
The problem, however, is that hiking, for me, is a sport enjoyed much more either alone or in a very small tight-knit group. Trudging through the woods with a bunch of people with kids and flashlights and dogs and such ain't too enjoyable. And not only does everyone talk much louder than they need to, it's like an unspoken rule that everyone has to power-walk like they have to escape the zombie apocalypse, yet they are not allowed to run. So they set a ridiculous pace, with all of the wannabe alpha-males offering up 'advice' and unwanted instruction, while the hoard huffs and puffs it's way up the hill.
No fun. No fun at all.
And remember, this is the same Warner Park that I was talking about in an earlier post--it ain't very level. Once we got to the top of the first big hill, the herd took a turnoff to an overlook, and I just kept on truckin', trying to distance myself from the noise. I guess I got about a half mile ahead of them and managed to have a really enjoyable walk after that.
It was kind of eerie, a quiet night in the winter woods, with the full moon casting shadows on the ground from all of the leave-less trees. Of course your mind plays tricks on you, your senses are heightened, and every scampering squirrel or foraging turkey sounds like Bigfoot is stalking you.
I loved every bit of it, kept my headlamp off, and embraced the experience. Before I knew it, I'd walked over four miles, could see my car back down the hill in the parking lot, and heard the caravan catching up from behind, everyone racing to the finish.
While the hike was great, I doubt I'll do that one with a group again. I like to go at my own pace, enjoy the scenery, and try to make as little noise as possible--that's when the magic happens. This was like a roving band of gypsies scaring off any wildlife as it plowed through the forest at maximum force.
So while I technically went to the 'meetup', it was a pretty solitary affair, and I'm going to think long and hard before doing another one.
Anyhow, I was pretty warm by the time I got back to the parking lot--it was a lot of exercise, and it wasn't even 9:30 yet. So I pointed the car towards east Nashville, looking for something a little more fun.
Scottie and the geeks had rented out an authentic old-school rehearsal hall down near Five Points for several hours, and were hosting another jam session. While not an official band, they love to get together and play on the weekends, and it's lot of fun. The rehearsal space is pretty big, right in the middle of everything, but it's as old-school and run down as you can imagine. One can only speculate at the stories that must've taken place in there over the years.
And while it wasn't quite as bad as something out of Trainspotting, I was definitely uneasy about touching any of the furniture in the place... But it had power, a huge stage, plenty of mismatched chairs, and even flushing toilets (so I was told). The guys had set up their gear and were wailing away by the time I got there, so I hit the convenience store across the alley for a sixer of Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan ale and settled down to enjoy the private show, like an aging groupie with no place else to go.
A few minutes later my sister Amy and her friend Cory showed up, so the size of the audience immediately tripled. We had a great time laughing, taking pictures, and singing along, and at one point I even helped out with Wagon Wheel and Hotel California, two of the easier songs on the set list.
Unfortunately, I was worn out. That four mile walk in the woods and hills of Warner Park had kicked my ass, and I still had a thirty mile drive back to my bed. I think I called it a night around twelve, completely exhausted.
Sunday was a blur. I remember being sore, drinking a pot of coffee, and lying on the couch. That's about it.
On Monday, I had a full day at work--it was nice to be 'good busy' instead of 'annoying busy'. You know what I mean--it was nice to do my own work and not have to worry about fixing other peoples messes, which is almost unheard of on a Monday, right?
That night I was scheduled to go to a writers group meet up out in Bellevue, but I got there and found out it was canceled. I was cool with that since I wasn't presenting anything, but it was a bummer to drive out there for nothing. So I headed back over to the hippies house for the evening, where we played games, listened to music, and just hung out for a bit. Instead of driving home forty-some-odd miles, I just spent the night there before heading back to the office in the morning.
I guess that explains my absence from the keyboard this past week, doesn't it?
So I'm making up for it now. I've had a fairly productive day so far, and while the spaghetti sauce is simmering away in the crock pot, the dishwasher and washing machine are running, and I rest my feet from my mornings adventures, here I sit, pecking away at the keyboard, looking for inspiration. The two bottles of Yuengling may have helped, because all of the sudden I've got this big long post written.
Posted by Hurricane Mikey at 3:55 PM
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Those of you who've been with me for the long haul (still trying to come up with other ways of saying 'longtime readers') know that I'm the worlds biggest wannabe musician. I gave the guitar a shot for a long time, spending thousands of dollars in the process, and yet it never really clicked for me. I learned to play everything by rote memorization, and trying to improvise was basically a display of musical ineptitude on the level of watching a baboon with an accordion. Finances and reality caught up with me around 2002 or so and I spent most of the oughts never even picking up a guitar.
When I got back here to Nashville a couple of years ago, I realized that everyone is this town is a musician. Or wants to be one. It's good and bad, because the best way to get better at something is to hang out with people who are better than you at that particular activity, but on the bad side, you can't go to any social function around here without some asshat pulling out his guitar and insisting that you listen to his latest offering that is about to blow up, just as soon as he gets a record deal. Maybe not quite to that degree, but you get the idea... There are a lot of asshats with guitars around here.
Now, even though I wish I had some musical talent, I've never wanted to be a rock star. I'm perfectly content to play stuff that other people, who know what they're doing, have written. Even back in the late 90's when I was putting together a real band, anyone who wanted to join who uttered any variation of 'my own stuff' was immediately dismissed. A man's got to know his limitations, and I know mine. If I'm gonna play music, it's gonna be cover tunes.
Anyhow, my brother-in-law, Scottie, is an extremely talented musician, and can play just about any song on any instrument. Hanging out with him has not only broadened my musical horizons immensely, but it's motivated me to try again. Now, the hardest thing to find when putting together a band was always a bass player. Drummers are a dime a dozen, and if you can sift through the rabble, you're bound to find a good one eventually. But that is too damn much work. They say rock-n-roll is all about lugging your gear from one end of town to the other, and drummers have more gear than anybody. Too much work to sit in the back, if you ask me. Guitarists are everywhere, because, face it, chicks dig musicians in general and guitarists in particular. If you're a type-A personality but can't sing, like myself, playing guitar is where it's at. But bassists are a rare breed, and if you can play the bass, your services are always in demand, kind of like being a dice dealer in Las Vegas.
So hanging around with Scottie and his buddies, I noticed that they all played guitar but they always took turns playing bass. Well, there was my 'in'. Scottie suggested I learn how to play bass, so that's become another hobby of mine, which I'm finding more and more enjoyable all the time. Not quite a year ago I took lessons, briefly, but my teacher was so in-demand that our schedules just wouldn't jive. He was *always* getting called to sit in with a band down at one of the local venues, or be a session musician down on Music Row, or working the stage for some local artist on the cusp. With me back to working full-time and his phone going of like mine did back in the day when I was on call 24-7, we just couldn't make it work.
But I got a good foundation to work with, and I started playing with Scottie on weekends. I even picked up this here bass last winter, and while it may not have the cache of a wine-colored Les Paul with gold hardware, it's still pretty. And it's fun to play, too.
Now that my musical horizons have been expanded, I'm working on my repertoire. About once a month a group of people much more talented that I gather over at Amy & Scottie's place for a self-described Geek Jam. Yeah, they're all programmers by day and musicians by night, and probably some the funnest people I know. Of course, I don't bring much to the table, music-wise, but I'm more than happy to fumble my way through songs with them all night long. Of course, I take a break every now and then and have somebody else play bass while I observe, and they just rock the house. Still, I enjoy trying to learn while playing with a real band--it beats the hell out of sitting alone at home with my iPod playing through my amp and trying to keep up with my metronome.
Right now, I'm trying to learn a few new songs for next weekend's get together, including
- I Don't Feel That Way Anymore by Charlie Robison
- Son of a Preacher Man
- Rollin' in the Deep
- Home by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros (great song!)
- Sleeping Monkey
- She Left Me for Jesus
Posted by Hurricane Mikey at 3:14 PM
And believe me, even being stuck on a poker table full of crappy and annoying players for a half an hour at a time is way better than being chained my desk eight hours a day down at the Shawshank-on-the-Cumberland where I'm currently employed. Right now, that's my lot in life and although I've made peace with it, I'm not happy with it. Like Andy with his rock hammer and Rita Hayworth poster, I've been planning my escape for some time now.
Longtime readers know that when I first left Las Vegas I faced some very serious health issues that damn near pulled the plug on me for good. (Here he goes again!) So serious that the doctor at the Vanderbilt critical-care unit told me to call my family and say goodbye. Somehow, miraculously, I pulled through that and even though I was unable to function normally for about six months afterwards, I've made a complete and full recovery and I'm even better off than I was before. Y'all know I was big--morbidly obese is the clinical term which sounds so awful that I don't even like saying it--but since then things have turned the corner. Right now I'm about 150 lbs lighter than the last time I graced a poker table at Sunset Station and I'm still slowly shrinking. My pants are 14 inches smaller around the waist and my old leather belt that I wore every day almost goes around me twice. I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting there. At 45 years old, I'm probably healthier than I've ever been.
I discovered that one of the exercises I like the most is hiking. Back when I couldn't lift a gallon of milk or carry anything more than about five pounds, the only activity I could really do is walking. So I started 'hiking' to build my strength back up. First it was laps around the back yard, then I ventured out to the cul-de-sac to do a loop before shuffling back ten minutes later utterly exhausted. Eventually I made a full mile without stopping to rest, which ironically was a hell of a milestone for me. But my proudest moment came when I did the two-and-a-half mile Harpeth Woods Trail at Edwin Warner park.
Normal, in-shape people would say that it's a 'moderately difficult' trail, but for me, it might as well have been Everest. It's very hilly, and pretty steep in some places, although the maximum elevation change is only like 300 feet or so. But to me, 200-something pounds overweight and just a few months out of the deathbed, it was quite formidable. It took me almost two and a half hours to complete it, but when I finished, I had to admit that it was one of my accomplishments that I was most proud of. What made it even better was that someone I know told me that they had to turn back on their first attempt to hike the trail, it was just a little too steep and maybe they were a bit too hungover, but for whatever reason, it was too much at the time. But my chubby ass made it to the top of that mountain on the first attempt.
And once the hard part was over, the last half mile was a nice flat stroll along a creek back to the trailhead. An excellent payoff after all of the effort, if you ask me. A serene walk where I could process the totality of the obstacles I'd overcome--not only from that day, but everything else I'd faced before that.
It may sound overly dramatic, but one would've had to have walked those two-and-a-half miles in my moccasins to really understand.
It must've been some kind of turning point for me, because once I got home, showered, and was able to finally relax, rest, and think about the progress I made, I couldn't help but wonder what other challenges I could tackle.
About the same time, Reverend Dave (my younger brother, for you noobs) decided that he wanted to get into backpacking. And as much as I loved sailing in my previous life out west, reality dictated that I needed to find a new hobby. Backpacking it was!
At some point thereafter, Dave had the brilliant idea that he wanted the hike the Appalachian Trail, all 2000+ miles of it, all the way from Georgia to Maine. I thought it was a good idea at the time, but figured there was no way I could do it. I was just too fat, too weak, and too out-of-shape to do it. Fast-forward a year and a half later, and here I am, preparing to go in March of 2014.
Yes kids, I'm doing it. I'm going to hike the Appalachian Trail.
There. I said it.
While I was on hiatus from this blog last year, I thought about doing a hiking-centric blog, but it wasn't very good, so I bagged that idea. And while I missed writing on this here Hurricane Mikey site, I figured my life in Nashville just wasn't interesting enough to keep people reading it. But hey, if there can be a thousand successful mommy-blogs talking about shiat I have no interest in whatsoever, I figure there are all kinds of
But you know what? I don't care--I'm here today to announce my intentions, and whether I succeed or not, at least I have the stones to try. And like the high-wire dude who performs his craft without a net, I'm throwing in the added degree of difficulty by telling the world of my plan. It would be much easier to be anonymous and give it a try, and nobody would know if I failed. But I guess there's a big part of me that performs better under pressure, so that's why I'm sharing this today.
Another reason for all this is to let you, my loyal readers, in on the secret. Linda Lou has been on my ass for several years now about writing a book. And now I have a topic.
It's an epic journey from the ICU at Vanderbilt Medical Center, being mostly-dead all day, to the top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, and my plan is to tell the world all about it. Y'all are the first ones to know. Being chained to my desk every day for the next year or so may be the river of shiat that I have to crawl through to get to freedom, but eventually I'm going to make it.
Prepare to be entertained.
Posted by Hurricane Mikey at 9:36 AM
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Oh man, did I just quote one of the worst songs in all of musical history? (outside of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles career, I mean)
Sorry about that, but I warned you, I'm out of practice.
Anyhow, it's freezing-ass cold here in Nashville, and while the State of Tennessee declared an official emergency due to weather, Mother Nature kind of gave us a break. Oh yeah, there was lots of sleet and freezing rain out last night and all the schools are closed and everyone bailed out early from work and such yesterday, but the reality is that it ain't all that bad. The roads are bad, just not nearly as bad as anticipated, although everything else is covered in that bumpy rime ice that's so hard that it'll break an ice scraper.
Really bad weather makes me nervous, too. Last January, I was driving home in the freezing rain and my truck got annihilated by a big ol' 18-wheeler out on I-65. He sideswiped me and kept on going. My truck got spun around seven or eight times, according to eye-witnesses, and I tore down about a hundred yards of barrier cable in the median, but I walked away without a scratch. A few bumps and bruises, that's for sure, and the wreck looked so bad that the cops tried to call an ambulance for me, but I emerged surprisingly ok. What really pissed me off was that my truck, which I loved, had been paid off for less than a year and was still in damn-near mint condition.
However, the encounter with Mr. Diesel Truck fixed that. Both axles were broken, the frame was bent, and it looked like somebody took a big ol' can opener down the side of the body. But the cab was intact and I emerged unscathed, further proof that like the Highlander, I am an Immortal! And long-time readers know how proud I was of this vehicle when I bought it and how happy I was when I paid it off. Unfortunately, she met a sad end...
Yeah, I was really bummed at the time, and driving up the ridge just south of my house is a white-knuckle experience at least once a week. I had to go to traffic school in Millersville last year (the little burg on the side of the highway, whose police force came to my rescue that night), and the cops there said that somebody gets killed on that stretch of highway about once a week. So I'm ok with not being out playing frogger with with all the semis this morning.
Anyhow, for those of you who aren't on my facebook, my period of grief over my wrecked truck didn't last too long. Luckily I have really good insurance and they gave me about five grand more than I thought I'd get, so I took the settlement check down to the local Dodge dealer a week later and got this...
Yep, that is a 2012 Challenger R/T, with 5.7 liters of fire-breathing muscle under the hood, all 375 horsies worth. That photo above is not actually my car, just a stock photo from google image search. But that's what she looked like on the day I picked her up. And although she was extremely cool, she wasn't quite cool enough. So I spent a few extra ducketts and had her slightly modified at an aftermarket automotive accessories shop. THIS is my car:
I think the rally stripes up the coolness factor by at least an order of magnitude. Now, everywhere I go, I always get compliments on it. And whenever I stop to pump gas, somebody always asks me about it. Just the other day I pulled into Kroger and as soon as I opened the door, the kid getting into the car next to me said "Holy crap that's a cool car!". I think he might've been all of ten years old, too. And the rumble it makes when I first start it up has been known to cause quite the visceral reaction for anyone lucky enough to be standing nearby...
I can thank long-time reader T-Rev for making this happen--he got a Challenger a couple of years ago when they first came out, and as soon as he sent me a picture I was smitten. Of course, I figured I'd never get one, as my plan was to drive my Dakota until the wheels fell off. Actually, that pretty much happened, just much sooner than I anticipated. Anyhow, that's enough automotive porn for the day. But now y'all know why I don't want to drive my baby around in this mess, especially when these idiot truckers turn their trailers over on the freeway a couple of times a week in good weather--I can't even imagine how bad it is out there on I-65 today.
Anyhow, I'm waiting on the mailman to bring me a check from Fidelity today. I liquidated a little bit of stock about a week and a half ago, and I'm just waiting on it so that I can get to the bank and then pay a few bills and such. Once traffic dies down and it hopefully warms up, I'll make my way back down the hill towards civilization and get my errands taken care of. Right now, however, I'm just holed up in the shanty trying to keep warm.
Posted by Hurricane Mikey at 10:47 AM
Sunday, January 13, 2013
I have to get up every morning with the alarm clock, get dressed, sit in traffic, and then get chained to a desk and computer for eight-plus hours. So my epic Monday morning posts that everyone looked forward to will be a little light. Also, I'm guessing that my content will be a little less interesting than you're used to. And since I (am scheduled to) work 40 hours a week, my writing time has been severely curtailed. I'm not trying to harsh anyone's mellow here, but I'm just setting expectations, that's all. Yeah, I still have the itch, I just don't have nearly as much time to scratch it.
Also, for whatever reason, over the past year when this site sat dormant, all of the comments disappeared. I have no idea how to retrieve them, nor do I have the inclination to try. So it's kinda like we're starting all over from the beginning. At least I still have an audience (well, at least I hope I do). And you may have noticed a bit of a format change as far as colors and such, and well, that's a work in progress. I'm not sure which way I want to go, but I know that I don't want a white background with black text, as it sucks to read late at night with the lights off, and some of my more, ahem, mature readers have suggested that I don't use a dark background with white text because it's tough on the eyes. So I'll have to find a happy medium.
As far as Vegas goes, as some have asked, yeah, it's still out there, like a neon tractor-beam attempting to drag me in with it's that's-no-moon goodness. I'd love to go back, but I have no firm plans anytime soon. I *might* go back in the fall with my old Phoenix buddies for a football weekend, but March Madness is definitely out. I have other priorities and new things that interest me more, and that's where I'm going to spend my time and effort. Of course I'll write about them and certainly post pictures, and I'm hoping that whatever I choose to share here is well received. Full disclosure--I'm blogging again for practice. I haven't written anything in so long that I damn near forgot how. I spent a lot of time reading old posts over the past month or so to kind of get the feel for where I was, and it was enlightening to say the least. Yeah, there were some nuggets of greatness to be found, but then there was a lot of stuff that made me shake my head in disbelief, also. But hey, at least I'm putting it out there and taking a shot. One only gets better through practice.
Today, I don't have much going on in the way of big plans. Of course I'll watch the playoff games all afternoon, but in the meantime I was hoping to get a three-and-a-half mile hike in down on the local town greenway. However, it's been pouring down rain all morning and my rain gear leaves a little to be desired. If I went now, I'd come back looking like a drowned rat, and that doesn't really thrill me. If it lets up, maybe I'll do a shorter walk around the neighborhood. My goal has been to walk at least a mile a day, with longer hikes on my days off, and I've been pretty good about it, although I slacked over the holidays. There's a good mile-and-a-half loop at my office park that I try to do every day on my lunch hour, but like anything else, after doing it so many times, it gets boring.
On the other hand, this weekend I can be glad I don't still live in Vegas because I would've gotten my ass handed to me yesterday. I would've totally picked the Broncos and Packers, and well, we all know how that went. I still can't pick NFL games to save my life, so I guess it's good to know that some things never change.
Posted by Hurricane Mikey at 9:34 AM
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Has it really been over a year since I've posted? And over a year and a half since I posted anything interesting?
Anyhow, to steal a catchphrase from Mike & Mike, I'm back and better than ever! At least I think I am. But my writing skills are a little rusty so it'll probably take me a few weeks to get back into that smooth-flowing easy-reading style that brings all the readers to the yard.
What brought this on, you ask? Well, even though life in Tennessee isn't nearly as interesting as life in Las Vegas was, I've definitely got a little more structure in my daily routine, and I found myself getting bored. And when the weather is bad it seems that I waste too much time facebooking and playing hearts just to kill time. You know that'll turn the brain to mush, so I've decided to take the drastic step of getting back in the blogging game.
Besides, I've been talking to Linda Lou a bit lately and she's been subtly cracking the whip at me to get back to the keyboard. I've got another project on the horizon, which I'll talk about in great length as we go on, but she's offered her assistance since she's 'been there, done that' already. Yes, I shall be writing a book eventually, but it's a looooong way off. Right now I've just got a concept and a very very rough and preliminary outline. But it's coming. And the best way to make sure it happens is to turn on the peer pressure to finish by announcing to the world that Yes, I Will Do This.
In the meantime, I've recently joined up a couple of local Meetup groups dedicated to non-fiction writing, kinda like the Henderson Writers Group, just with less wizards and vampires. I haven't been to any of the meetings yet, but I'm definitely on the email list.
Anyhow, that's the news. Spread the word. Mikey is back!
Posted by Hurricane Mikey at 9:46 AM