Parental Disconnects and Frustrating Chemical Romances

As Week 2 of the Nason Unemployment Era comes to a close, I’ve moved onto Stage 2 questioning of the Nason Post-Monarchs Era: ‘So, what interviews do you have lined up?’ The answer is ‘zero’ and I haven’t been even trying. I am finding that I might have to curb myself a bit though as I find that I when I get backed into a corner with people insinuating I should be doing something, I will often do the exact opposite to prove to them that the end result can be done a different way. With a job search however, that might not be the wisest move. A lot of people don’t characterize me with the word stubborn, but sometimes, that’s how I react.

And so, it continues…

With this time off, I’ve had some time to think and reflect on some things as I evolve into this next stage of my personal being. They aren’t rules or guidelines, but more like self-actualizations. Some of them are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of it all, but they’re all part of a greater thing that’s being built, kinda like a human version of Voltron (one of a few remaining 80s icons to not make a comeback. My guess is 2008 after the Transformers complete their re-entry into the American pop-culture lexicon).

The first self-actualization was that I hate the game of pool. Seriously, I can’t stand playing it, watching it or really being around it. After years of this being a social interaction option both at bars or at (gasp…ugh…blah) pool halls, I can honestly say I am perfectly ok with never picking up a pool stick or saying the words, “Eight ball in the corner pocket” ever again in my life. That’s not to say that I severely dislike people that play because I know a lot of folks that like spending their time in this completely mundane fashion, so I certainly don’t want to alienate them. (Did I?) Nevertheless, it’s nice to finally say with all certainity that I can cross the game of billiards off the list of things I choose to do in my time.

The second one came tonight as I went out to eat with my mother, stepfather and grandmother for the latter’s birthday. After we sat down, I randomly saw a friend of mine who was working there and we started talking about what she was up to. Then, like a samurai sword cutting through an oncoming enemy, my mother rudely interrupted mid-sentence and asked my friend (who had not yet been introduced) if we could move tables because of the blasting heater next to the table. I was aghast and amazingly embarassed at the entire situation which was capped by the “walk of shame” across the restaurant (coats and menus in hand) to a new table. My mom is not a rude, mean or bossy person by any means, but the fact that she couldn’t wait until I was finished a sentence irks me to no end. It’s impolite and she’s better than that.

Normally, I’d find a way to tell someone that actions like that were a bit out of place, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it. I mean, she’s my mom, right? It did speak to a larger disconnect that I’m facing with her in that most of the things she does drives me crazy to the point it’s tough to keep biting my tongue out of simple respect. I also grabbed lunch with my dad (who I’m more like in a lot of ways) earlier in the week and despite not having seen him for a few months, we spent a grand total of 45 minutes eating and talking and then, that was it. I looked at my watch walking out to the car and just stood there for a second, thinking there should have been a lot more to say between us. Unfortunately, there wasn’t. My dad’s not really a big talker, so most conversations between us are like a tennis match. The opening volley usually starts with talking about me. I’m not a huge fan of discussing myself, especially these days because conversations usually center around work (non-existent) and relationships (definitely non-existent). At this point, I volley across to what’s going on with him, my stepmom and his side of family which he returns post-haste with a ‘Well, nothing much is going on. Same old, same old.” at which point the talk reverts to me. Game, set, match – my dad wins again.

The second self-actualization: I have nothing in common with my parents anymore and spending time with them is often difficult. I love them both, but one asks too many questions while the other asks too few. Is this a normal occurance for most of you? Perhaps. I know friends that can relate to both sides of the coin, so I guess I’m just more cognant of the fact there IS an actual coin in the metaphorical sense. Maybe it was the bitter divorce that formed my keep-at-arm’s-length relationship I have with them and maybe I’m not alone in feeling like I don’t need any acceptance or any guidance from them in making my life’s decisions. But there’s a small sliver of me that will always wonder what would happen if that divorce either never happened or was a lot more civil. Remember that ripple effect I talked about a few blogs ago? Would I still be the same person, for better or worse?

Imagine what I’ll be thinking about if I’m out of work for a few more weeks? Watch out, Dr. Phil.

Another personal admission? I have bad cell phone etiquette and I fully admit it. After years of being told that I don’t answer calls or return messages, I realized that those accusations are fairly accurate. I see people calling and decide that I don’t want to talk to them at that moment. I neglect messages for days. I sometimes blatantly avoid people just so I won’t have to tell them no. But you know, that’s ok and I’d like to say the following: if you call me and I don’t pick up, I still like you. It’s not personal. I hate the fact I may be disappointing people with an answer they don’t want to hear, so often, I’ll avoid giving the answer. So, I’m really looking out for your feelings. How great am I?

In the same vein, is it just me or is text messaging preferred to a call? Are we that opposed to getting into conversations these days? It’s pretty ridiculous as I’ve carried on text talks that went longer than if I had just actually called the person. I love texting, but I’m struck with trying to figure out the social ramifications of the text message as opposed to the call. A little social nuance I’ve recently learned: when ‘talking’ with girls, the amount of time between texts or even the lack of an answer at all can speak volumes. There you go, fellers – another thing you can get yelled at for.

And yes, I have a lot of time on my hands now.


Some quick hits/streams of thought:

–I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the fact Stomp The Yard came out in January. I was even more excited when it was called Drumline. Or You Got Served. Or Crossover. Or Ernest Goes To Camp.

–Interesting that the first college lacrosse game of the season ESPN decided to feature included the much-maligned Duke Blue Devils. Hmmm…capitalize much?

–I find it ironic that UPS uses a song by electronic group The Postal Service in their latest ads.

–The fact that I recently heard the words ‘Boston Bruins’ and ‘playoffs’ in the same sentence still gives me nightmares.

–You know, just when things get simple, they get complicated.

–Scientists can figure out how to cure polo, but they can’t figure out a way to record dreams? Recently, I had a dream where I was walking down the road from where I grew up and was climbing a ladder. I caught the eye of a polar bear, who then charged and engaged me in a knife fight. Oh, I also remembered thinking that the newly-installed shelving in the forest was nice. If dreams actually mean something, can someone tell me what a knife-fight with a polar bear means?

–My vote for the most overused saying/motto right now? ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’ Jesus, it’s not like people randomly fly in there, go on a killing spree and get off scot-free when they leave. That is, unless you’re talking about the NBA players during the recent All-Star Game there. My writing idol Bill Simmons did a funny piece on the A/S weekend which I’d highly recommend, entitled the Hip-Hop Woodstock. However, a word to Vegas: for a city that is all about change and making old things seem new again, this saying could use a Wynn-style makeover. I still think it has some legs for a place like Millinocket, Maine, or Dorchester, Mass., though.

–Two new networks I randomly discovered while watching The Ak’s new monolith HD TV – the G4 Network and Mojo, both geared toward men. It made me think for a second about just how many channels there are out there and how many we actually never watch because of the sheer amount of content available to us. Then a re-run of the Man Show was on and the Juggies in HD made me forget about what I was thinking about.

–The movie, Ghost Rider? Much better than expected. My friend Clyde’s ability to hang out late as he gets older? Much worse than expected. He couldn’t even make it through a full episode of ’24’ Monday night and that show is over by 10 pm.

–A few days ago, I read a review from the opening night of the My Chemical Romance tour that kicked off last Thursday at the Verizon Wireless Arena here in Manch-angeles. I was excited to go as this was the first chance I had to see the performance aspect live up to the amazing effort that is “The Black Parade,” the critically-acclaimed disc released last year. Seriously, I used to despise MCR, but happened to listen to the cd on a reference from a friend. Within a few weeks, it is entrenched in my personal Top 10 of All-Time list. Yeah, it’s that f’n good.

How? Well, MCR experienced the Green Day effect, that’s how. Green Day, fresh off their own incredible cd, “American Idiot,” went out on tour last year, taking MCR along as the opener. Where MCR relied on over-the-top scream0 (a take-off of alternative style emo), Green Day blew them away by making their concert an event through theatrics, flair, a little campiness and amazing music. A year later, MCR must have learned a great deal as ‘Parade’ is dripping with the Green Day influence through and through, all the way down to the fact they’re both concept albums. So, I was looking forward to the show to see if they learned as much about showmanship as they did about music on that tour.

I honestly came away a tad disappointed, but overall, I thought it was a good show, not a great show. Then, I read the article by MTV News’ John “Still Trying To Look 28 When I’m 48” Norris a few days later which made it seem like the show was a full-on rock spectacle. The word “masters” actually got used in reference to the band creating goose-bump moments. I finished the article and discounted it as simply an MTV VJ writing a review that probably wasn’t meant to be crticial. But quotes are quotes and a specific paragraph really stuck out me, even a full day after I read it:

“But what you won’t find in the show are dancers, actors or cheesy dramatic interludes. My Chem wisely chose not to go the Broadway-musical route in bringing the Parade to life, though they said that possibility was there.

“The band is not trying to be anything but the band, and the music is speaking for itself,” Gerard Way continued. “There was a point when we were making the record that we were thinking we could have all this extra stuff [on tour], but as a musician you know in your heart that that’s not you.”

“It’s a fine line between having a really good show that will be remembered,” Bob Bryar opined, “and letting all that other stuff become the show. I think it’s more special if we let the focus always be on us.”

We’re so over the top anyway that why would we want somebody else up there hamming it up?” Gerard Way laughed. “I’m ham enough, you know?”

Anyone that knows me understands how much I love the sizzle of an event to go with the steak. I’m a hype guy and someone that loves to see pomp and circumstance and glitz and glamour. I’m a lights, sounds and big bangs addict that yearns for an orgy of sensory overload when it comes to going to events, especially concerts. I know that using things like video and props in the right way can make a good concert great and a great concert amazing. The two best examples? Nickelback and Three Doors Down. Both have good catalogues of material and enough of a fanbase to support headlining tours, but neither are directed that well in terms of the live event experience, especially when it comes to lights and videos. How management commits to months of touring and hundreds of personnel to putting on nightly events and doesn’t go for the touchdown is bizarre to me. But I digress to my original thoughts.

As an entertainer, how can you not go for the long ball? How can you not want to make the best show possible? How can you not go over the top? This seems absolutely criminal to me as someone that had part of this responsibility for the better part of a decade in pro sports. With this album and the consquent tour, MCR had the chance to take the listener and concert-goers through not just a concert, but an experience. I don’t care if they’re worried about their role as musicians. This is show biz and when you have the chance to kick it up to the next level, you take the shot.

And this is why I need to have a regular job, so I’m not thinking about John Norris articles all day.

thanks for reading,

Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear

It’s all over. Tomorrow.

In just under 24 hours, my six-year run with the Manchester Monarchs comes to an end. Nearly four months after sitting down with my boss at a Italian restaurant and saying the words that I never thought I could say, explaining to dozens upon dozens that I was leaving and having no real reason why, it’s come down to one final day, one final walk-in to work and one final walk-out. And despite thinking that I’m 100% ok with this, the past 20 minutes has made me realize I am now a lot more nervous that I thought I would be.

Holy shit. This is really happening and there’s nothing I can do to change it.

But despite the ever-enlarging gang of butterflies that is flying around in my stomach, this is the right decision to make and the right time to make it. Tomorrow is going to be very, very strange but very, very good in two completely separate ways. I’m sure most of you have left jobs before and might be thinking I’m being a bit overdramatic. Just understand that I’ve spent a majority of the last decade with the same job in the same industry with essentially the same group of people. And in less than a day, I walk away from what I’ve known, walk away from what I understand and walk away from what has really been like another family to me. Add in the giant unknown that awaits me following that last walk-out and maybe you can see why I’m thinking the way I do.

Holy shit. This is really happening and there’s nothing I can do to change it.

I’ve learned a lot about human behavior over the past few months when it comes to careers and job situations. It’s funny how trained we’ve become in reacting to scenarios like my own and that acceptance of something outside the norm of the find-a-job, work-the-job, find-another-job, leave sequence throws us off like the computer sequence in Lost.

To sum up a good 75% of the conversations I’ve had recently:

Person A: “So why are you leaving?”
Me: “No real reason. I’ve just spent seven years doing this stuff and I need to try something else.”

Most people can’t believe why I’d leave a marketing position for a pro sports team, especially one I made a great living at. From the outside, pro sports is a dream job for most but once you get inside, everything changes. Granted, my workplace is based around a sheet of ice but it’s still a job filled with the expectations of putting on an entertaining evening for thousands of people where a few dozen things could go wrong at any second causing a bad situation. Throw in a very high work quality standard, long hours and virtually no free weekends for half a year and the picture starts to become clear.

In fact, I find myself drawing a lot of parallels to now-retired NY Giants running back Tiki Barber who called it quits despite having a few more good seasons in him. People kept asking why one of the best running backs in the NFL would leave millions of dollars, adoring fans and a potential Hall of Fame spot behind. (Yes, the parallels stop at the millions and Hall of Fame, but I have some fans, damn it!) Some of the reasons started coming out as he signed a deal to work for NBC’s Today show with some of his answers making a lot of sense to yours truly. It’s not word-for-word what I’m thinking or a description to my current situation, but let’s just say that I understand.

Back to more of my conversations with people:

Person A: Ok…uh, so what do you have lined up? Where you going?”
Me: “Nothing. I’m going into this completely blind.”

This is where I get ‘the stare.’ People don’t know how to react to the fact I have nothing lined up for work and have no interviews on the horizon. It’s almost like they want to react for me based on my non-panicked reaction. Seriously, I’m not worried or concerned in the least. I’ve been preparing for this mentally and financially since November and have planned for a few months off. I have no kids, no wife and no lease. Some paid vacation time is definitely helping the cause, which will allow me to get out there, pace myself and find the position and next move that’s right for me and not everyone else. I need to clear my head a bit and this is a great time to do it….I think. The plan’s in motion, but it’s just not a conventional one.

Holy shit. This is really happening and there’s nothing I can do to change it.

We do things a little different for people’s last day of work in that we invite team and arena personnel to have a buffet lunch, give out a few gifts and say some nice words about the soon-to-be recently departed. I’ve always been known for being a good public speaker, but tomorrow is going to be my ultimate test. How do I tell some of these people what they’ve meant to me and how do I wrap up six years in just a few minutes without the use of balloon animals or an overhead projector? In my head, I’ve had this speech written for years. Now, I’m not sure what exactly I should say. Here comes those butterflies again.

So yeah, holy shit. This is really happening and the fact there’s nothing I can do to change it is a very good thing. Tomorrow is going to be a very strange day indeed.

thanks for reading,