1-3-08, 2:30 PM -
(yeah, yeah…but y’all knew I couldn’t shut my yap forever…)
There’s a sign outside my building downtown that says, simply, “Donut.” It flickers weakly in the morning gray, lazily collecting drops of half-hearted, cold rain, which it deposits on unlucky pedestrians at irregular intervals.
I know how it feels.
My head has been under siege now for over two months. The attackers’ true identities remain masked, awaiting results of several rounds of antibiotics. However, the barbarians have been bolstered by insurgents sent forth from my son’s daycare. My house now sounds like a deathbed colony for consumptive 18th-century poets. *hack, cough, sniffle*
That aside, it seems to me that I should compose a farewell letter to 2007. It’s been a pivotal year, but in different ways than its predecessor. For one thing, I re-entered the workforce. Based on my past experience as a desk monkey, this should be a traumatic thing, but I’ll tell you what: Three people living on a single income is BULLSHIT.
Seriously. But actually, my present dayjob is a rare find. It allows me a great deal of time and flexibility to do personal business in amongst my appointed tasks, and it has that legendary quality that drones everywhere dream about: A good boss. While I do enjoy weekends, I don’t wake up on weekdays with the lead blanket of dread over my head. That rhymes. Badly.
2007 was the year I discovered that my son was way better off in the care of others during the day than hanging around with his old man. This may seem to go against earlier conclusions, but in truth, I’m still glad I spent my son’s first year with him. We have a closer relationship now than I think we would have otherwise. Now he grins like an idiot the minute we pull up in front of the daycare, so I don’t feel like I’m throwing him in toddler prison. He’s learning and growing, and is still glad to see me at the end of the day. He even postpones bowel movements until he gets home. How precious.
This year also marked our return to Dallas after a 6-year absence. I will probably always be a Fort Worth boy, but danged if it ain’t hard to find decent work over there. And as I mentioned in last year’s roundup, Dallas is a nicer place to live than it used to be. Our neighborhood is very homey, with quick access to public transportation and other urban conveniences. I’ve been able to participate in some cool activities over here, such as running sound for Bend Studio and doing commentaries for KERA FM, plus haunting the massive Half Price Books with my kid, who scopes the underage chicks like you wouldn’t believe.
Played a lot of shows this year, maybe the most shows per year ever. Most of these were in Second Life, and I feel more connected to that scene than to any other I’ve ever wandered into. With the possible exception of Hip Pocket Theatre, which finally gives me a reason to look forward to summers here in Heatstroke Acres. It’s been good to get back to playing lots of live shows, and wailing with my old friends Mr. Jackson & Mr. Simms. They’ve always been my best possible rhythm section, and it’s good to have an excuse to hang out with ‘em besides. You ain’t lived till you’ve spent a couple of hours on their porch over in Weatherford talking about nothing, interrupted periodically by eruptions of territorial warfare among the neighborhood cat armies. It’s like Baghdad over there.
Despite taking all damned year, 2007 has also brought completion to the recording of my second album, though its release will be in 2008 (soon, very soon). In the process, I’ve met and worked with a lot of fine musicians both here and in NYC, and it’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ll have samples up soon, I promise.
Looking back at some writings from 2006, it’s obvious that my transition from childless weirdo guy to responsible father during that year was pretty rough. The parenting thing has felt far more natural, if not easy, this year.
Part of that is having a kid who is more like a person than a wailing, fleshy lump of need. He smiles, babbles, plays and laughs now, and that gives me a lot of incentive to hang out and make him smile, babble, play and laugh, rather than sitting around worrying about him suffocating to death in his sleep. He handles the blankets like a pro now, and tosses out the ones he doesn’t need, along with all his stuffed animals. Not very sentimental, my son. He’s also into making dissonant polyrhythms on my guitar strings. And pulling on my ears. He’s an interesting guy, and I’m looking forward to getting to know him better in 2008.
You may not know this since I haven’t been writing publicly much, but for me, 2007 was about learning the importance of small things. Small moments, small gestures, things that you can’t see from space and the like. Those who know me relatively well will realize what a major shift this is. I have aspired towards the grand gesture all my life, whether or not anyone else was looking. But the longer I live and the more I try to get to the bottom of things, it seems that the aerial picture just isn’t enough. Impressive, but with insufficient detail to figure the whole thing out. NYC taught me that to an extent, but fatherhood has brought it into sharp focus. It may sound odd to say before the new album is even out yet, but the projects I have in mind from here on out will definitely reflect my change of outlook. Good or bad, I will of course let you be the judge.
It’s an accident of history that the new year begins when it does, and ascribing importance to the turn of the odometer may be a bit silly, but for some reason I get the impression that 2008 will be a good year. I know, I know, but the jinx is as superstitious as astrology, so I shan’t succumb to it. I’ll be 34, and my age won’t be a palindrome for another 10 years, at which point my son will be…gasp…12. I can’t even think about it.
Anyway, why shouldn’t 2008 be a good year? There’ll be an election on (fun, fun), and the freakin’ Large Hadron Collider will go online, and you can pick up a new matthew show record for the first time since 2003. And it’ll be only 33 more years till my kid can run for president. At which point his opponents will play his old man’s dirty-word songs in attack ads, and I’ll get some money for it. Everything is beautiful in its own way.
Not feeling terribly deep and thoughtful today, just thought I’d give a wrap-up as we bid 2007 adieu. Hello, 2008. What the hell do you want?