Summer Vacation

Everyone gets a break during the summer: families, teachers, hockey players. The summer is a time to relax, recharge and re…something else that starts with re. And that now, includes myself.

This will be the last blog entry until the first part of September, which means I’m off here the next two months. There’s a few reasons: one of which is that I don’t really have much of anything going on (this weekend, I did something that starting with ‘noth’ and ended with ‘ing’) to write about and that I need to focus the creative laserbeam somewhere else, namely a couple short stories and some progress on the first book.

I can almost promise that there will be quite a bit to write about when I return including trips to North Carolina and possibly Atlanta, a Sox/Yankees game and a probable return of the biggest summer party tradition of all time. In so many words, I hope that I don’t feel like a boring loser when I get back. I also expect that some other bigger lifestyle changes will have taken place by September and that the website will finally up and running with a little more than a weekly blog for content.

A few notes to tide you over during the hot months of July and August:

–My reading level has been cranked up a notch as I’ve finished another book (this in two days) by my favorite author, pop culture afficionado Chuck Klosterman. This tale, “Killing Yourself To Live: 85% of a True Story” was born out of a piece for Spin Magazine on musicians’ spots of death. In true Klosterform, it goes into a different direction completely and goes into his relationships with three different women and the usual array of commentary on this funny world we live in. Chuck is one of those authors that is hard to explain, but that is easy to read. I’d highly recommend any of his three books or buying a pair of his ultra-chique horn-rimmed glasses.

–I might pen my own book, “Learning How To Skate: 85% of a Painful Story.” I finally took the plunge (or is that slide) and signed on for skating lessons at one of the local ice arenas. Myself and a co-worker are in week 3 of an 11-week session designed to make us somewhat passable on the ice, part of my new resolve to learn one new skill a year. I’ve always wanted to learn how, and after getting rejected earlier in the fall for a session that ran during work, this was finally the right time. And what better way for a white Northeast-bred guy to get out of the heat than head onto a giant block of ice?

I will say this though: the experience of buying skates was about as frustrating as figuring out how to rebuild the transmission of a Jeep Willy (something my roomate will undergo). EVERYONE has different advice and things to watch out for, which completely run into each other and cause Advil breaks.

It’s almost like moving to a new area and not being told what their laws are. Seriously, shouldn’t there be a handbook provided to new residents of a city, town or burough? Case in point: two years ago upon moving to Allenstown, we had a X-Mas party and some guests stayed overnight. Upon awakening, they found tickets on their car for two offenses: a) parking on the street overnight which I believe is the most ridiculous offense in ANY city unless there is a major blizzard, flood or swarm of killer bees and b) parking the wrong way. The latter left me speechless and thinking about the discussion the lawmakers must have had in creating this.

“Seriously, what’s the most ridiculous parking law we can come up with?”
“Uhh….ticketing for sunroofs being open in non-sunny weather?”
“How about ticketing for cars that are colored blue or grey?”
“What about parking the wrong way?”
“Is there a right way?”
“No.”
“Brilliant!”

–You know you’ll forever be a prisoner of the 80s when you lend out Transformers: Season 1 in exchange for the first few episodes of Thundercats.

–As we hit the midpoint of the year-long poker league I’m in, I currently am tied for third place among a field of 20 players. This means one of two things: 1) I inherited more from my dad than just an iron liver or 2) I really am good at bluffing. My friend Jay wants to me write more about cards, but there’s not too much I could explain. It’s become the new golf as a way to socialize with people, drink a couple beers and then socialize while taking their money.

–Speaking of movies, I saw Big Fish (the room got a bit dusty near the end, to steal a Simmons euphimism) and Mystic River (great until the last 15 god-awful minutes) this weekend and am eagerly looking toward Fantastic Four, War of the Worlds and The Wedding Crashers.

–Tom Cruise gets my vote for the ‘What did you go and do that for?’ award for bizarre behavior.

–At what point do old people just say f**k it and do whatever they want?

–Before I go, here’s a few Nason-approved thinkers you should add to your Favorites list:

*http://www.paulkatcher.com/ – the blog of a friend of a friend of a friend.

*http://champkind.blogspot.com/ – best read if hungover. He really needs to write more or bitch less, so give him hell and he might do one of the two.

There’s more, but you should find them yourselves.

Have a great rest of summer and fret not…we’ll speak again.

See you in 60,
nason

Housekeeping

Not too much to write about tonight. Put it this way: Saturday night, I slept in an unfinished room using a roll of carpeting as a pillow. I mean, really. A couple bits of housekeeping:

–I think work should begin on some type of novel sooner than later. The book I reference last week – Stephen King’s On Writing – has given me the kind of direction I’ve been looking for. Driving for a couple hours the other day has given me some time to think about different subjects and stuff. I was checking out some stuff on my laptop today and found an old story I began about a year ago that I had completely forgotten about. It’s an interesting feeling reading something in this manner.

–The list I send the weekly update email to contains both sides of my personal life: the ‘fraternity side’ which is friends I made through college and the ‘everyone else side’ which is, well, everyone else. If you’re going to reply back to one of those emails, just keep that in mind. Some people hate getting a bunch of emails in their Inbox and others don’t mind hitting ‘delete.’ Just something to keep in mind. Mmmmmmthanks.

–I can’t recall whether I had made note of this or not, but I think the hip-hop indsutry contributes a good amount of criminals to the quota of local law enforcement agencies. If a week goes by that a rapper isn’t implicated in murder or an assault, it’s headline news. Should there be congressional hearings into this or something? (side note: I think I used that joke before….i’m guessing that I did write about this subject here at one time. Again, I’m guessing that this is a result of me using CARPET AS A PILLOW.)

–Ever notice that when a network is advertising upcoming primetime sports, they always have one of their stars tossing around a ball or playing the game they’re promoting? Does this seem a little forced? Strange? Take notice of this once the NFL comes back or especially around NCAA Final Four time.

–Blog reader Aaron pointed out that the reason airports have that ‘The moving walkway is ending’ is for blind people. Boooo logic!

–Batman Begins? Phenomenal.

Hopefully more next week,
-nason

p.s. I didn’t give you much, so here’s a couple things that you can read:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/warningyourcleverlittleblogcouldgetyoufired

and

www.spicyparis.com

Sweet Home Chicago: Episode II

Editor’s Note: For Episode I of Sweet Home Chicago, scroll down a few tics. Episode II will make a bit more sense then. I swear. Honest. I swear on Lindsay Lohan’s former pounds.

Before we begin, here’s a few other tidbits that came to mind:

X – Pink Floyd will reunite for a benefit concert for Africa later on this summer in London. There’s not much to comment on here, but I thought it deserved mentioning.

Y – Michael Jackson? Who knows and who cares? Brian Williams of NBC News put it pretty damn well on Monday’s broadcast when he ran down all of the things that have happened in the world since MJ was first arrested on these charges: things like how many people have died overseas in Iraq, the election of a president, the tsunami, etc. It shouldn’t still amaze me how much celebrity trials dominate news, but it does. Here is a guy who hasn’t been musically relevant in a decade but is still news because he’s strange and was successful at one point. The helicopter following his motorcade from the Neverland Ranch to the Santa Maria courtroom was one of those ‘what have we fallen to’ moments we can never get back.

Z – Batman Begins, well, begins this week. I can’t wait, despite having to see Katie Holmes and That Random Guy She’s Dating on every channel about twice a minute. Well, Katie’s not that bad to look at but you get the idea.

And now, Episode II of Sweet Home Chicago brought to you by Working Mondays After A Vacation: For When You Really Want To Punish Yourself.

Saturday AM: Despite not drinking a lot, waking up anytime early was a struggle. We had to get up at some reasonable hour in order to buy tix for the Saturday game, possibly harder considering there were probably plenty of other fans doing the same. After stopping for ATM trip no. 2 of 5 (ugh…this is after one day, mind you), we headed into the city after a quick stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street. As I mentioned to McKenna, I always say there’s nothing quite like visiting another city and trying new stuff. Then, we went to the same Yak-zies place as the day before. We were like the anti-tourists or something.

Side note: One item that I failed to mention yesterday was McKenna randomly disappearing for about 45 minutes during Friday’s pre-game lunch. Ak revealed that he had two extra tickets for Friday’s game and dollar signs immediately flashed in all our heads. If the rumours of $1000-$2000 tickets were true, wouldn’t these seats go for pretty good money? McKenna, ever the eager solider, stepped up in an attempt to sell the pair of tickets for about $200 total – a good markup over the face value. He took off for what was supposed to be a few minutes. Lunch came. No McKenna. More beers. No McKenna. Clyde and I began to pick at his fries like vultures in the desert. Clyde took a walk to look. Nothing. I then took a walk, searching up and down the streets for any bald head in sight. After flagging down some white supremacists and a random midget, I decided to head back in the bar and wait for his arrival. I then referred back to my own knowledge of scalping laws, which got partially clogged up by all the Miller Lite, and feared the worst. 2 hours and one arrest? (What are the ‘guy laws’ in this case, by the way? Would it have been ok for us to head inside? Is this a ‘He would have wanted us to go’ situation? Could Clyde and I have gone in? What’s the ruling here?)

Finally, he returned with about $40 total, far less than what he expected. Apparently, his lack of knowing the layout of the field (claiming he had bleacher seats when we really had high grandstands) hurt a bit. After finding no luck, a random kid bought them for the low rate. No big deal, but it was funny to find someone completely different in the seats later on. We asked them how they got the tickets and they said, “We bought them off some kid for $100.” Windy City economics, indeed…

Back to current day (not really, but whatever), Ak decided to ditch us and take a free ticket from Pete Ryan’s brother so McKenna, Clyde and I hit the mean streets in search of bargains. We searched about and found a going rate of about $150 per ticket, pushed in different directions by people telling us ‘I’m not supposed to be doing this, but…) and thought we’d have to wait it out until the 1st inning. We were then directed to a t-shirt stand where we were offered three tix for a total of $300. McKenna – our chief negotiator – countered with $250 to which the seller claimed that he was already taking a big hit.

Apparently, this should have struck a heartstring in our soul, but that wasn’t happening. I guess the market for heartless bastards was better. He replied, “$270” but McKenna stood firm and 30 seconds later, we got our tickets for about $83 each. We got another lecture about how Yanks/Cubs tickets were harder to get or something which again fell on deaf ears. That effectively cleaned out the ol’ wallet again (scalpers just don’t take credit cards, I guess) but we headed into Wrigley, hopeful to see a better showing by the red and gray. After getting out to a 4-0 lead, things looked pretty damn good. The Nation was roaring in the stands and the hometowners were getting a bit frustrated with the visiting cousins. The summary: we made it just in time for the first inning, had fantastic seats, were surrounded by Sox fans, saw plenty of hot girls again and the Sox lost again in much better fashion. Despite the outcome, I don’t think a better afternoon could have been had unless a) a porn star convention was in town or b) we had free tickets to said porn star convention.

We got out, subsequently lost Akerley to the lure of downtown Chi-Town, went on a massive search for a certain t-shirt and headed back for another cleanup effort. The next mission was selected: deep dish pizza followed by a night of drunken debauchery. Ak came back and we headed out on what would become a large walking tour of the city. Geno’s Famous Pizzeria was the place to go and definitely fit the bill:. a soupy-style dish that takes about 45 minutes to cook, deep dish is the sh*t. So is having a great table that allows you to see everyone that comes in…in case you can’t tell, I loved the sights.

Next came the most frustrating part of the trip – exactly where to go out. We had some advice from a frequent business visitor that doubles as our friend Tripod. He had mentioned Harry Carey’s as a fun place and also a certain area that was very similar to the Old Port in the amount and proximity of bars. Alas, five minutes after walking into Carey’s, we left before the stench of moth balls and Dentucreme from the locals could get on our clothes. In other words, a much older and low-key crowd than what we were looking for. The only problem was that it took a crazy amount of time to walk there, the deep dish was sending Clyde’s stomach to an early grave and we still had no idea where to go. After walking around for another few minutes, we jumped in a cab with instructions to head to some fun area with a lot of bars. We made it, getting a nice test of the cab’s sound system as we went along.

Tons of people were out, just boozing and having a great time. The first bar we went to – an outdoor one – was rocking out and despite having an immense amount of people, a waitress found us and asked if we needed beers. Now that’s service! We bailed and rode like a group of cowboys into the glowing region of alcohol known as Division Street. Most bars had lines out the door, so we headed into one that didn’t, a place that’s name was too good to be true – Shenanigans. With the nod to the comedy classic Super Troopers, we took the bait.

Upon entering, it was like we stumbled onto a buried treasure: a packed place, loud music and tons of bachelorette parties dancing on various stages. Hooray! Although we didn’t head out into the dance pit, (the only real interaction I had with a girl was accidentally elbowing over her drink while fake-following a conga line and subsequently having to buy her a $10 red bull and vodka…who says comedy isn’t expensive), it was a great place. After becoming indecisive about what to do next, we headed back toward the hotel in search of more bars and found a sh**ty one – a lackluster end to an otherwise great day.

Sunday: Ah, nothing like heading home. The Portland group was due to head out of the city at 1 pm, while my flight was leaving at 6 pm. While they thought I would be miserable, I decided to make the best of it with a fresh book – Stephen King’s On Writing – and my IPod. However, on a suggestion from Ak, I got on the standby list for a 1 pm flight, which would cost me about $65 in upgrade fees (apparently, I paid a cheaper ‘internet’ flight when I signed up, but when you’re tired and have spent that much cash, $65 is just another number). The flight was booked and thus, I began my book, powering through about 75 pages. A glance up at the clock showed just 1:58 pm. Yikes…this was going to take a while.

After lunch and more walking around, I was already getting restless. My bags were getting heavier and every time I would sit in a new gate area for some quiet, things would get noisy again. A vitamin bottle of gates saw my presence – B6, B1, B12 – with the same result. I finally found a quiet gate (B8 or was it A4?) and then was rudely interrupted by a guy getting upset about being told by a Southwest employee to carry his luggage with him instead of leaving it alone. Quite possibly the dumbest conversation I heard all day, it convinced me to retreat to a tabled area all the way back to where the guys boarded their plane to Portland. Away from any gates or walkways, it would be the perfect spot to kill four hours (gulp). I pulled King open to page 101, threw on some Coldplay and just relaxed…until a contigent of old non English-speaking women decided to enter the area and sit..right…beside me!!!! I mean, there are like 30 tables in this area and one next to me was the right one? Normally I might be flattered. However, I was just annoyed. I was sick of seeing people. I was sick of overpaying for airport food. I was sick of Chicago’s Midway Airport and wanted out.

At this point, I realized that there truly is no quiet place in an airport – none. Between the various boarding calls, pages, buzzers, kids, foreigners, Foreigner, beeps, people in general and ‘The Moving Walkway Is Ending’ chimes, I had enough. Along my Kung Fu-like search across the Midway desert, I found a 4:30 flight out to Manchester and was on standby again. It also answered the big question of how much is time really worth? In this case, about two hours was worth $65. My name was called and I thankfully handed over the AmEx. I jumped on, forgot about Celtics Girl (remember her?) and headed back east.

And thus, we’re done.

A few final notes if I could…and you really should since you’ve read this far:

–Is there really any reason for those ‘The Moving Walkway Is Ending” voices over the loudspeakers anyway? I’m picturing what must have happened before this voice was installed in airports: lemmings just PILING up at the end of these things or old people getting scared and hanging on for dear life. Yes folks…this is what happens when I spend too much time in airports.

–Finally, I have to give a shout-out to someone I’m proud to now call a good friend – Mckenna. He and I have known each other for a couple years, but really haven’t hung out that much to really know much else. Through this trip, I have become impressed with his sense of commitment to his family without any diminishing of his sense of adventure and fun as well. I learned that he and faithful blog reader Amy are training for the Chicago Marathon and have made a commitment to run at least one major marathon a year in preparation of one day hitting up the big one – the Boston Marathon. It takes a certain someone to negotiate ticket prices, be a big proponent for staying out late, manage to point out ‘high-rent districts’ and still have the time and desire to brag about how well his kid is doing in little league. Take it from me, Big Len is a hell of a guy.

And I will make his kid a multi-millionaire in Major League Baseball…right after I get Akerley’s contract done, that is.

Heyooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

-nason

Sweet Home Chicago – Episode 1

One round-trip flight, two games, multiple beers, plenty of Tang-Z-Q sauce, four ATM stops and a lot of sweat pretty much wraps up the past weekend, unoffically known as The Chicagoland Invasion – Summer 2005 edition. And to quote a character on Saturday Night Live some years ago, “I wrote a song about it…wanna hear it? Here it go!”

The participants: myself, Clyde (Midwest Excursion alum member), Rob Akerley, McKenna and the jubilant one, Pet-ah Ryan.

The destination: Chicago, IL, for the weekend for Game 1 of the historic Red Sox/Chicago Cubs series. This was the first time ever that the Sox played in Wrigley Field and the first time the teams have played each other since 1918. Rob brought up the idea about eight months ago to which was all drunkenly agreed, half-assuming it would actually happen. Lo and behold, it did.

Friday: I took off from Manchester Airport around 8:45 am, while the rest of the group departed Portland at 6-something, in an attempt to all meet up at around 10:15 in Chicago’s Midway Airport. Upon checking in and going to my destination gate, I immediately began to get a sense of exactly why we were doing this. Most of the inhabitants were fully clad in Sox gear and you could feel a buzz in the air. I text messaged my friend Papa G.: “This has officially reached event status.” I’ve written here before about Sox fans and trips like this make this feeling real. What we see in the ensuing two days was both impressive and expected.

As I sat in my window seat eagerly awaiting who would be my row mates, an attractive girl that I spotted a few minutes earlier was the first one across the finish line. I’ve never really had the good fortune of having too many cool people next to me on planes compared with other people that I know, so this was new territory for me. I always bring plenty of reading material and music along as an escape hatch for an annoying seatmate. Gladly, this didn’t seem to be the case. After a few minutes, I picked up with some conversation and found out that she was a native Chicagoan that was heading back to the Midwest for a Game 2 rendezvous with her dad. She told me she currently lives in Portsmouth and commuted down to Boston every day. “Wow, ” I stated in my best turn-on-the-charm voice. “What do you do?”

“I work in sales for the Boston Celtics.”

(If there was a ‘Yep…this is good’ bell, I think it would have rang off the wall.)

Then as quickly as we started talking, a big roadblock fell in the middle of us – some guy looking for a single seat. We talked a bit more but it was tough considering that we were awkwardly talking over someone between us. My mind began to race as to how I would pull this off for two hours. Would it become awkward for the Middle Seat Dude? Did I care? As it turns out, it didn’t matter as the guy (married no less) jumped in the conversation and I basically got blocked out. Three words: Just. My. Luck. Later on, I heard she was taking the 6 pm flight back Sunday – the same as yours truly – so I was consoled by the thought I might have an unfettered conversation on the return home. Before then, I had planned to at least give her a business card and work in a “Any good places to go in Chicago?”-type line that would hopefully lead to some digits. That went out the window too as she got off the plane and was out before I could say Harry Carey. Confounded luck!!!

ANYWAY, the group met up on time and headed into town via cab, sharing stories of bizarre stewardesses and other random tidbits of our flights including Random Bag Guy, someone that was thought to possibly have interest in the Portland group transporting his luggage. It was definitely humid in the Windy City and I began to sweat immediately, a running theme of the weekend. There was no early check-in at the hotel so we got some stuff together and headed to Wrigleyville for a 1:20 pm start with a stop at Yaz-Zies (a local establishment a few blocks over) for some beers and food.

There’s just something about the whole Wrigley Field experience that is just plain good. Coined ‘Wrigleyville,’ the adjoining neighborhood pulses with activity when the Cubs are in town, not surprisingly similar to the Fenway experience. The only major difference is that the Cubs ‘ blue wave takes over blocks around the field and not just adjoining streets like Fenway – a definite plus. And let’s face it people – there’s just something about seeing shirts like “We Got Wood,” “Sux” instead of Sox and every other type of cheap ripoff T-shirt that makes you think baseball. (The author is wearing one said cheap T right now.) There were mass amounts of Sox fans about, mingling easily and without incident – something to always be wary of when heading to opposing ballparks. It was almost like we were cousins visiting from out-of-town: they were happy to see us, but also pretty much ready for us to leave after a few days.

As far as the game goes, here’s a wrapup: good seats, lots of Old Style beer, very humid, lots of hot women, great fans, huge Sox loss. During the game, we befriended some Cubbie fans who joined with us in the now-classic “Heyoooooooooooooooo” chant at random times and directed at plenty of people. No idea why, but Old Style will do that to you, along with damaging your intestines along the way. After enduring the on-field thrashing, we headed back for showers and to collect our heads for the evening ahead. It was also around this time when the classic post-afternoon drinkfest sleepiness took over, followed by the always necessary ‘redrunking’ that night. I fell asleep at one point for what felt like 30 minutes but was more like 30 seconds.

We headed over to John Barleycorn for a Jimmy Fund charity event (all you can eat/drink for $35) featuring Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo and several Boston-area sportswriters. While it might not sound fun to some folks, it was great for a baseball nerd like myself who is just as interested in potential future teams as much as the current-day club. After finding the Jack and Cokes to my liking, Clyde and I decided to cheer on two opposing auction bidders who were going back and forth on a Sox team-signed World Series ball. To show what condition we were in, Clyde commented, “Whaddya think that ball would go for on Ebay? Like 300, 400 thousand?” The final bid was around $8200. Yep…that kind of night. Our dinner consisted of mini corn-dogs, taquitos and lots of alcohol.

We headed back to the other part of town and hit up the ESPN Zone (always a Clyde favorite) and proceeded to pitch, throw and shoot as much to our heart’s delight. That is until I left my ESPN arcade credit card in a machine that promptly got snapped up by one of the kids in the place. Unbelievable. Before that, I am proud to say that I led the group in quarterback challenge points, tied McKenna in free throw shooting and hit 61 on the pitching radar – good for someone regarded as such a terrible athlete. I also proudly supported Akerley in his quest to break 70 mph, which never did happen despite valiant attempts against the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the Phillie Phanatic. In his drunken stupor, Ak later confided that he wants to go to a Portland Sea Dogs open tryout as a pitcher. Could we see the big guy in AA baseball next season?

(I also committed him to sign me as an agent if he does…he probably doesn’t remember this. He also didn’t remember the half-bag of Sun Chips he left on the floor either. I love this guy.)

A trip to the Rock Bottom bar (sounds cool…really wasn’t, except for the random girl taken out on a stretcher 10 minutes after we arrived) and a 7-11 run later (sans breakdancing), it was time for sleep after a big day. We decided somewhere between Beer 3 and 15 that we were going to buy tickets on the street for Saturday’s afternoon game, putting our negotation skillz to the test. Could we get a good price for one of the season’s biggest and most desirable series?

Find out Tuesday AM when Episode II of Sweet Home Chicago hits the stands.

-nason

p.s. Did I mention the hot girls yet?

Holidays, Careers, Hot For Teacher: NasonBlog

I feel that it’s always good to write while listening to classic rock. ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart,’ ‘Come Together’ and ‘Burnin’ For You’ have a way of bringing out the best in me.

I had a rare four-day break from work Memorial Day weekend after taking Friday off, spending time in Maine while hanging out with friends. While fun at times, close quarters and the lack of the ‘One Big Night’ made the holiday a bit lackluster to be honest. In thinking about the whole four-day excursion, I came to a few realizations. One is that we’re not the same people we were in college. Boozing and hitting up hard two or three nights in a row used to be the norm back in school or even in the subsequent years following. Now, it’s all about jobs and family and using weekends to catch up on whatever slipped through the cracks earlier in the week. While frustrating at times, it’s definitely a learning process in exactly who this group of people I count on truly are. It’s really a ‘refriending’ process in a sense, but I’m happy to say that for all of our warts and perks, I wouldn’t trade my crew for any other in the world. Unless it was the group from the Playboy Mansion and then, sayonara kids.

Despite the lack of the big weekend pinnacle, I often underestimate how good it is to just sit and talk with someone. Growing up as kids, it’s easy to just dismiss when the adults sit around a table, drink coffee and just listen to each other as boring. The key to really understanding people is to simply listen. It seems easy, but can extraordinarily difficult at times too. In any case, it was good to catch up with a few of the college crew and fill them in on what’s going on with me and vice versa. Of course, the conversation usually comes down to one of two questions:

a) When you coming back to Maine?
b) When are you leaving the Monarchs?

Interesting questions but two that unfortunately have multi-layered answers that don’t even get remotely close to answering anything. Here’s basically what I can say as of this point – it’s been no secret that I have been scouting out a potential new career for about a year now after coming to the realization that working this type of schedule isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life. However, what exactly I want to do and how to get there are two different roads.

If there were a sawed-off to my temple, I would say that I want to write for a living. After continually shunning it for years, I keep coming to the realization that I’m good at it and have some stories to tell, both in my own mind and in others. However, how to do that can also go different ways like writing books, news stories, films/tv, etc. I recently read a borrowed Scr(i)pt magazine that deals with the film industry in which I found a quote from a successful scribe simply stating: “Just keep writing. It is a muscle and you have got to keep working.” You hear the cliches over and over again about ‘You have to love what you do,’ but there is a reason that they’re called cliches – they’re true.

So while I’m doing that, how exactly to configure my career to help that cause is the next big project. For all of my bitching about work, I do like it. It’s fast-paced, provides a forum for immediate feedback and I’m kinda good at it, having been with one of the best organizations in the country over the past few years. But I think any good executive is always looking for the next big opportunity, which is what I do constantly in that ever-expanding path for my personal Holy Grail. I could be with the team for two more months or two more years – I’m just not sure and leaving just for leaving’s sake doesn’t seem right to me. Whenever I get pressure to leave, I often think I might be letting people down if I stay for another season. I just need to do what’s right for me and pick the right time to do it.

In the past month, I’ve explored the possibility of jumping into the advertising/creative agency field after having an epiphany after a meeting we had with such a place in April. On the surface, it seems like a perfect fit: combining the sales background I have in getting and retaining clients, mixing it up with the creative juices that flow within my brain and topping it off with the writing that I so crave doing. Last week, I quietly took a drive to Portland and met up with two such associates at a bigger firm just to pick their brains about whether or not I was crazy. At times, it was like looking in a mirror. Jim was an intriguing light-hearted guy who laid it out for me, while also giving me real-life examples of what it takes to make it. Kitty, a older, sexy lady who is amazingly talented and exudes a youthful exuberance – talked of the industry as being second to being a rock star when you see your work displayed on tv or in print. She spoke of wanting to write a novel, become a rock star, etc., which exactly some of the thoughts I have. Know that ‘This is it’ feeling? Yep. Got it.

Surprisingly, they said they believed I could make and proceeded to explain the ins and outs of the ad world. Some of it supplanted exactly what I was thinking, while other thoughts they shared were eye-opening. Portland is a tough market to crack and business dominates the need for agencies. (The latter was just another ‘Duh…I should have thought of that’ moment.) It looks like unless I am riding a bolt of lightning, I might have to take a step or two back in order to move forward. Sigh. In any case, it gave me a lot to think about on the ride home. But I’m not undeterred – I just might have to break down the door instead of waiting to be let in.

As far as ever returning to Maine, I’d honestly like to but just can’t see it happening anytime soon. Here’s why: there’s not a lot of different industries that attract me there. The state has self-admittedly struggled with attracting new businesses and continues to be at the bottom of the list in several financial areas. I’d like to eventually (like everyone, it seems) own a business and found it in the Portland area, which is the only place to live in the state for this guy. Until then, if a great opportunity arises, I’ll look at it but can’t commit myself to moving back just for the sake of moving back. I remember hearing a stat once about young people moving out of the state in their 20s only to return in their 40s and 50s to settle down and live. If you had asked me three years ago if returning was a top priority, I would have eagerly said yes. S’funny what a few years can do.

Side note: it still amazes (and annoys) me how many people at my work think I go home to Maine every single weekend.

In all, the above can be summed up in a few words by Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day: “All I know is that I don’t know nothin’….”

–Had a GREAT time Saturday night at my friend Andrew’s place. It was a collection of high school friends, most of which had graduated a year or so after myself. After getting speed-drunk, I carried on a few long and drawn-out conversations, arm-wrestled a couple times, introduced myself to two girls that work out at the same gym I do (one dates someone I went to high school with…weird) and managed to spill 1/4 box of Cheez-Its on the floor. (Sorry Drew…that was me.) I also managed to drive home seemingly drunk at 9:15 am and proceeded to sleep until 12:30 pm. I’ve never seen a house get up so early and be so peppy after a hard night of drinking. Just. Amazing. It puts my friend’s ever-grating persona Chipper Clyde to shame.

–I am constantly amazed and encouraged by my friend CK’s social butterfly act. Here’s a guy who moved to a new place just a few weeks and has made like four or five friends already just by talking to them at bars. I am impressed and wish I had that type of personality.

–Why are people obsessed with being on tv in any form necessary? I was watching the Red Sox pre-game show Sunday which they film in front of Fenway Park and there are the yahoos just standing in back of the set, either waving their hands in the air or just standing there staring like their cult leader is in front of them. Do people think they’re going to be noticed by a Hollywood talent scout or something? What is so vindicating about drawing attention to yourself anytime there’s a camera around? “Honey, look. There’s a terrible car accident and it looks like two people are…hey! I’m on tv! Wave, hon! Call your mom, quick!” And what exactly goes on during the cell phone conversations people having when calling their friends in these situations?

*”Hey, turn it to CNN!”
*”Dude, you’re on TV!”
*”I know! I was just walking along and this camera was out, so I stopped!”
*”Awesome!”
(30 seconds of awkward silence…)
*”Sooooooo…..”
*”Aahhhhhhhhhhhh……”

–How many times the lyrics “I wanna rock and roll all night/and party ev-a-ree day” are sung by Kiss in their song? My guess is 542.

–Why don’t more softball players wear hats? It’s part of the uniform in baseball, but in softball, some wear visors or nothing at all. They still have the sun to deal with and everything. I don’t get it, but softball’s a strange sport to me anyway. These are thoughts that come up while nursing a hangover on Sunday afternoon flipping channels.

–Is it necessary for kids to try everything? Case in point was kids announcing the starting lineups for the Sox game today on tv, putting the suffix Mr. in front of everyone’s name. I mean, they’re everywhere doing stuff. Isn’t there a curfew or something? Seriously, kids are annoying when they try to do adult things like carry on conversations with adults or drink beers.

–I think more people need to carry on dialogue in rock songs like David Lee Roth used to do. ‘Hot For Teacher’ is still the best all-time example.

–Custom auto replies on AOL instant messenger are starting become one of the banes in my existence. Just say you’re away – I don’t need to know why or what you’re doing.

–If you’re looking for a good summer read, I’d recommend ‘DisneyWar’ which fully details the rise and fall of Michael Eisner at Disney with stunning details. It’s a long one – 550 pages with small text – but well-worth it. I’ve also become embarrassed to be a Senator George Mitchell fan after this book as the ‘Man from Maine’ comes off looking like a greedy buffoon.

I think that’s about enough for this week…next week’s entry will be delayed as I head to the Midwest again with the trusty Clyde, R-to the-Ak and Big Len to catch a Sox/Cubs game on Friday followed by Windy City hijinks.

Keep deep dishin’ it….
-nason