Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Well, while this weekend certainly wasn't the nice big bag o' lazy I was hoping for, it was gorgeous weather, productive, and fun!

Saturday, I did manage to sleep in until 10am, which is very good for me lately. I recently managed to get my grandmother's mantle clock back from the ex and decided to wind it up and let 'er rip! However, as the living room is still a bit Spartan in its decor, there's no place to put it in there yet. So, I decided to just set it on the dresser in my bedroom. Only trouble is, I forgot which crank turns the clock and which turns the chime - so I turned both. Now I get the chime every hour and half hour. Not enough to disturb my sleep the whole night, but as daylight creeps in my room, it's enough to get my up at a reasonable hour, whether I want to or not.

Anyway, I got up at 10am Saturday, took some 'me' time to check the e-mail and Facebook, and proceeded to do the dishes, clean the laundry, mow the lawn, wash the car by hand, and scrubbed the kitchen walls down with TSP in preparation to paint them this week.

Later, my sister popped by with her roommate, Nadia, and we went to see the Hard Lessons play at the Lager House in Detroit. We got there a bit early, hung out with some of Nadia's friends, and I got to meet and talk with Korin, the singer/keyboardist from the band. Korin's a great gal! Between her having a barbershop lineage and a quartet of her own, we had plenty to chat about. Turns out her new quartet just got a gig at Cranbrook for a fund raiser my quartet had to turn down! Small world!

The band did a great show! Their music is very original, with a complex, yet radio-friendlly sound I REALY appreciate. Lots of good harmony, clever use of effects pedals, and interspersed with audience participation. It was an early show, but Val & Nadia were exhaused and Val's voice was destroyed from screaming, alergies, and bar smoke, so they dropped me off for the evening.

I had hoped to be home early enough to have my old friend Ryan stop by for some barbecue, but he was already at the Royal Kubo in Clawson, ready to get his karaoke on. He invited me along and I eagerly accepted. I hung out there with him and his friends from Go! Comedy! (a comedy/improv club in Ferndale club similar to Second City). I had fun catching up with my old friend, meeting some new ones, and rolling my eyes at the bachelorette party that invaded the place, rockin' out their 80's themed evening (big hair, neon spandex, and all). I was starting to feel the weight of my busy day, so after waiting for my songs to come up in the queue for what seemed like forever, I called it a night before getting a chance to strut my stuff and went home.

Sunday, I did a bit of lazing around, a bunch of chores, and went to have lunch with my mom, grandfather, and sister. We had a great visit and caught up. Monday,I was looking forward to seeing my kids march in the Hazel Park Memorial Day Parade. As the ex had booked them long in advance for 2 weekends in a row, despite us agreeing to alternate weekends, it was going to be the only chance I had to see them this weekend. They were supposed to go to the ex's cottage in Canada for the weekend, and return for the parade to march with their respective Scout troops. As the group approached, I notice neither one was with them. Slightly disappointed at not at least SEEING my kids, I enjoyed the parade with my friend Lou, who had crashed at my place after a late night of arguing with his girlfriend with me as the mediator (can you say 'irony'?).

The rest of the day was all about gittin' shit done. My sister Valerie, my roommate Paulie and I spent the lion's share of the day laying the new floor in the living room. I was dubbed "the Master of the Mechanical Stuff" and bequeathed the power tools for cutting and shaping the planks. After about 8 hours of some solid, heavy work, the living room has a MUCH brighter and cleaner look and feel. I did the mandatory Footloose skid across the floor in my socks (pants on) and we had some great BBQ chicken, some burgers, and beer to celebrate, before my crew departed for the evening.

So, all-in-all, not the lazy, laid back weekend I had envisioned, but very fun, VERY productive, and extremely enjoyable! I know, not the heavy, philosophical shit I usually blog about (especially at this length, but hey, it WAS a 3-day weekend), but damn it - IT'S MT BLOG! :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

How did I love this weekend? Let Me Count The Ways....

1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand....

This weekend was my 35th birthday/Housewarming party at my new place with my roommate, Paulie B.. Hands down, an awesome weekend!

First, on Thursday night, I went with my sister to Liam's choir concert at school. While the instrumental part of the show dragged for QUITE a while, when the teachers finally stopped yapping and the choir began their mini-musical, it was a LOT of fun. Courtney elected to sit between my sister and I, rather than with the ex and her family (I figured it a bit awkward to sit next to them, plus the bleachers provided a better, unobstructed view). Liam got a duet...with HARMONY no less! In 3rd grade!!! He sang his part perfectly and sounded great! 'At's maboy!! I think we may have a 4th generation barbershopper on our hands, but than again, I've thought that for a while.

Friday, after doing inventory for most of the day, I went home to start prepping for the party. I spent most of the evening cleaning, breaking only for a bit to head to Paulie's for some artwork and decore for our Spartan living room. Saturday, I ran some errands in the morning, including exchanging my DSL modem for a wireless model. I now have wireless at home without having to pirate the lone, weak, unsecured signal in the neighborhood! About 3pm, Marney (henceforth known as the Queen of Awesome) let us borrow her Costco membership to stock up on party supplies. Paulie went a bit nuts, getting WAY more meat than we'll ever eat and despite the invites saying BYOB, he bought enough beer to supply the average frat house for a month. Most of the supplies remain, keeping us with BBQ provisions for most of the summer.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon cleaning, mowing, setting up the fire bowl, BBQ, and filling the laundry tub and washer with ice for the beer. Her Royal Highness stayed with us doing everything we didn't think of and generally being completely awesome.

I managed a shower just as people arrived. As folks started to trickle in, the party got absolutely cool. My quartet was there in full effect, providing tunes, with occasional substitutions by our former bass, Floyd, and Paulie's drummer, Ryan. We lit the fire, the tiki torches, ate, drank and were merry. MMy guitar was unearthed and passed around for some acoustic sets by Paulie, Ryan, and others. It eventually made its way to the fire and we sang some stuff outside that spontaneously broke into 4 and 5 part harmony (whether it needed it or not, with varying degrees of success depending on the quantity of intoxicants ingested.)

Toward the end of the evening, we realized that about 75% of the guests in attendance were Dondero Acappella alumni, so we attempted to sing some of the choir standards. Given that most of these people hadn't sung these songs in 10-15 years, it was....well...a total train wreck. Most of the sopranos forgot their parts, so I ended up on soprano for most of it (with the assistance of a good wedgie). But still, we had a BLAST trying! I have some video of it, but at the behest of my sister, I won't post it.

The final entertainment of the evening was the capper on a fun night. As I was standing around the fire with a few other divorces, complaining about exes, I heard a thumping by my car. Someone had run up and was pummeling it with eggs! I chase down the perpetrator and catch up. Knowing she was caught, she turned around, and it was my ex-wife's friend, Dorothy. She shrugs and gets in MY EX-WIFE'S CAR !My bass, Big Dave saw the whole thing. I proceeded to call the police, who arrived lickety-split, and the officer filed his report as Big Dave grabbed the hose and washed off my car. I wasn't going to press charges over a few eggs - especially since it was cleaned right away - but I found it hilariously sad. Rather than putting a damper on my birthday party, as she had hoped, all she did was provide an extra laugh!

Sunday was just chill. I did some clean-up, mowed my sister's roommate's lawn, talked with my mom and dad, chatted with a few folk online, and caught up on Heroes. It was gorgeous weather and a perfectly relaxing afternooon.

This weekend couldn't have been more perfect. Thank you SO much to everyone who came and hellped make this a GREAT weekend! My quartet, Lou, Dave, Big Dave and alumnus Floyd added some great sounds and let me shoow off the hobby I'm always raving about. Liz and Jenn Wicker for briinging plants to bring some life into the new digs. My sister, Val, for pproviding the place for the party (and a zillion other things I can't get into without being sappy - she hates that). Everyone who showed up to laugh, sing, eat, embibe, and add to the jocularity and joviality that was this most awesome, yet mellow party.

Most of all, Marney McKay for ALL the help she provided with the Costco discount, providing an extra grill, mannning the grills, and more helpful tasks than I could possibly remember. ALL HAIL THE QUEEN OF AWESOME!!

I only wish all birthdays could be so completely awesome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brother, can you spare a dime?

I have a lot to be grateful for. In my heart, I know this. Going through a divorce is generally one of the toughest things someone can go through, but in this economy, it's even worse. I knew this was going to be an expensive process. However, with my primary job's paycheck about to plummet, my second job barely pulling in enough to pay my health insurance premiums, a home with no equity in the current market, no savings left, no investments, and no property worth enough to bother trying to sell, it's looking very bleak.

You all know me well enough to know I don't complain a lot...well, at least not on here. I vent a lot, but usually with the disclaimer that I'm not asking for help. I have had to swallow my pride a lot lately. I'm not good at asking for charity, and over the past 3 months, I've had to ask my family for more than I ever should - financially, emotionally, and logistically. I don't like putting people out of their way for me. I'm a big boy, and I need to dig myself out of my own trenches. Usually this entails selling one of my instruments or working more hours at one of my jobs. Well, my instruments are being held hostage and more hours at work aren't a possibility right now. I'm out of options.

Yes, I'm an "able bodied man" and "gainfully employed", but hardly making anything near a "substantial income", as recently implied. Not that I would know this, as I still haven't seen my tax returns for the last year and they are also being held hostage. Now I find myself trying to come up with money for a retainer for my lawyer, pay the mortgage on a home I have been locked out of, fighting a losing battle to see my kids in the few hours I can squeeze in between jobs, and returning scavenged pop bottles for grocery money.

You all know I'm a big believer in Karma. Lately, I've discovered that my faith in Karma has paid off in dividends beyond my wildest dreams. The fact that I have been able to survive this far with the support of my true friends and family is a testament to how my desire to help everyone I come in contact with has built up my stores of good Karma. Those stores, I fear, are dwindling of late. A dear friend reminded me last night that it's all cyclical. The "Pay It Forward" concept doesn't end. I am still who I am, and will be ready for the call to help my friends and family however I can at any time. At some point in the future, I may be called on to drive cross country to save a stranded friend, house a loved one, or provide financial assistance for my kids or grandkids, and I will take the experiences of the past couple weeks and jump at the chance to help. That's who I am anyway - karmic balance sheet be damned.

I picked up my summons and Complaint for Divorce papers yesterday. I'm a bit scared about what the next few months will bring. I WILL take a devastating financial hit, have to make a lot of material sacrifices, and I have no doubt that nothing will be made easy for me. Still, I will not impose on my friends and I will not compromise who I am. I will keep taking the high road, and keep doing what is right by my kids as best I can. I won't "prepare for battle". That's not what this is about. I WILL stand firm for what I need and move on with my life.

This will be the most difficult year of my life, no doubt. I may even end up financially ruined. I'm going to batten down the hatches, ride the storm, and arrive on the shores of my destination to the warm sunshine and loving embrace of friends and family a stronger man, wiser for the lessons learned.

I hate accepting charity, but lately I've taken to heart that, "I'll get by with a little help from mhy friends."

I will be my own man.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend of relaxed, yet productive, awesomeness.

Just a bunch of yummy awesomeness this weekend. The weather was GORGEOUS all weekend, and I took full advantage of it!

Saturday I was up at a reasonable hour, did some laundry, and then it was off to FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! As usual, my first (and subsequently only) stop was my buddy Chris's shop, Comics & More. As expected, the place was pumpin'. Lotsa folks appreciating the freebies, giveaways, and raffles Chris was providing. I stopped in for just a minute to grab my free swag (a few choice comics, a Star Trek movie poster & bumper stickers, and some foam Wolverine claws for the kids). I wasn't sure if I was getting the kids at any point that day, as the ex and I hadn't discussed it, so I got some stuff for them, just in case.

As I'm about to hit a couple other comic shops, just to see the mele, I'm called by an AT&T service tech, saying she was on her way to fix my thus far sporadic, crappy internet. DOUBLE YAY! WORKING INTERNET! I head home and start some dishes while I wait. If the problem was outside, it was free. If the problem was inside, it could be $60-$120. She came by and started her thing and my sister came by for a brief visit. We chatted while the AT&T gal did her thing. I figured if it was inside, I'd just cancel my subscription. I can't afford a dime right now. Thankfully, the gal on the call was WAY cool and said she wouldn't charge me, even though she had to re-run the line from the box inside the house, and she had me up and running lickety-split! I CAN FINALLY CATCH UP ON HEROES & DAILY SHOW AGAIN!!!!

From there, it was home to tackle the jungle that the recent rains and 2.5 weeks of growth had errupted in my yard. As I'm finishing up the last (yet most daunting) 1/3 of the backyard, my brother-in-law pulls up with my younglings! Yay!! They run in the house to start playing the NES (yea, I'm old school like that) while I finish the yard. Then I went inside to hang with my kids while Liam played Super Mario 3. As it turns out, Liam had gotten suspended that week, so I hat to put the kaibosh on heading out to the comic shops. I was bummed, as was he, but he took it like a good sport. I showed him the comic I grabbed for him and said he can have it next week, provided he has a better week at school.

We had sandwiches, talked, played Nintendo, and had a great afternoon. From there, I dropped them home and headed to work at the video store. It was delightfully slow and I had a great night chatting with customers and my coworkers. I came home to my roommate prepping his bedroom for its first coat of paint. We hung out a while and wrapped up a great day before he went back to his crib.

Sunday was even more awesome! I woke just late enough for good sleep and early enough to enjoy a beautiful morning. I folded some laundry, spread some grass seed in the bare spots of the lawn, did some grocery shopping, swept up, put away the clean dishes, checked my e-mail, chatted online a bit, and generally tidied up - all with no schedule. (contented sigh)

About 2ish, my roommate showed up to do some more work, followed by my sister who had come to grab more of her things. We talked and hung out and had a GREAT relaxed time. I made some KILLER BBQ chicken on the hibachi (yay meat!), and we ate on the front port in the beautiful weather (did I mention the weather was GORGEOUS?) When we finished, Val asked that I take the mower to her and her friend's house to tackle that with my demonstrated expertise. A double lot, but no obstacles to wind around - simple. I had nothing better to do and it was GORGEOUS out, so I piled up the mower in my car and headed there. I got some good exercise, got to see where my sister is living before her move to California, and a couple bucks for my trouble. Unexpected cash FTW.

We came back to my place so my sis ccould grab some more stuff, started a fire in the firebowl, and just chilled for a bit with my roommate. His first coat of paint looks great! Bolder color thatn I'd choose (teal), but expertly applied.

A GREAT, relaxing weekend. If you've ever read my blog, you know what a change that is for me!

I'm starting a new chapter in my life these days. It's filled with great characters, interesting plot twists, and all the stuff of a great story. Like any great story, it'll have its trials and triumphs. I can't wait to see where this story leads, but also like any great story, it's the thrill of the read that's the fun.

"Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, escapes, true love, miracles..."

Well, maybe not fencing...