It's Christmas Day - getting into the reflective time of the year and thinking of all the events, crises and happy occasions that affected my family as a whole, and myself individually. The last half of the year has been a very introspective one with a few family focused things that has really caused the band to take a back seat to everything. In many ways this post is also an apology to my bandmates and to our audience because most of the reason for our inactivity is because of issues befalling me, but we'll get to that in due time.
First Quarter (Jan, Feb, Mar)
The band had welcomed in bassist Marc Miller into the fold and we were full tilt going forward in prep for our first gig with the new combination at Louie G's in Fife, WA - working around Marc's attendance at NAMM representing his interests with Honey Badger and Regenerate Guitar Works, but we were killing it regardless. Around the 2nd week of Jan, John H (he of the drums) calls to inform that he's taken a nasty spill on his motorcycle and has suffered some damage to his shoulder. To make life easier for all, we decide to postpone the gig until John is better - he's going to physio and it will take time. In the meantime, I am told we're going to be one of the featured bands at this year's SeaProg Festival in June - headlining the opening night. While we were really concerned at the time about our fitness to play, as we get into April and our rescheduled gig at Louie G's on Easter Weekend (doh!), the physio is doing its job and John is able to resume practice by mid March. We also bring in a second guitarist in Art Bromage in March - he's a wonderful player and great person, a welcome addition!
Second Quarter (Apr, May, Jun)
April sees the band play Louie G's to a virtually empty house. I thought we could pull off a decent crowd on our own, but reality strikes and my assumption is proven false. I learn my lesson and we move on. The rest of the time is spent in preparation for our 70+ minute set at SeaProg June 2. For the most part a pretty uneventful spring, leading to a very nice gig in front of a full house! Progression Magazine in attendance - the journalist said she thought we were excellent, and many fans came to meet and greet us following our set.
Third Quarter (Jul, Aug, Sept)
A few things happened here - following SeaProg we decided as a band to take a little time to maybe go off and write new material or pull together ideas to collaborate on. After which I fell into a bit of a writers block and have been struggling to escape that black hole of futility. I myself had a rather large set of projects around the home to do, including exterior painting which challenged my fear of heights significantly. I also did another tiny remodel of my home studio, replacing my 29" ultrawide monitor with a 34" ultrawide and a new hydraulic wall mount for it. I had also migrated my PC from a tower case to a rack case which had challenges fitting the liquid cooling and multiple fans. I was also needing to adapt to fewer drives now as the drive mounts were significantly less. By August I got everything back up and running, with more room in my office and on my desk. Marc was also going through a full studio renovation so any chance of doing band related stuff was non-existent. Painting of the exterior took the better part of a month as we were mostly painting and back touchups by hand. We finished up during a very smoky Labor Day weekend, leaving the highest point (chimney) for next year.
Fourth Quarter (Oct, Nov, Dec)
Now we get into the truly hard part of this year personally. We'll start with Marc first though - he's enduring a great deal of discomfort with his hips and back, so much that he's not really getting any sleep. Doctor discovers a partially torn disk in his back, which first needs to be settled down and then surgery. At this time he's getting close to when they can schedule the surgery which would be in the new year.
As for me - October and early November (really since June truly) my day job is completely focused on a huge data center relocation project which because my predecessors didn't really do their job is now incredibly complex and brittle/fragile. We have to move the components for a live real time production set of software serving 3000+ live e-commerce sites without disturbing them or interrupting business. The stress of that along with needing to sort out issues at home is profound - I'm not in the best frame of mind and music is low on the list of priorities. I still try to bang out stuff but it's all unsatisfying and feels sub par for me.
November 13 - my middle boy, 8 years old, has been sick with what we thought was the flu for 4 days and is not getting better. My wife and I decide it's time to take him to the Urgent Care clinic to see what's up, and they suggest taking him to Seattle Children's ER for some tests and scans. An hour later, we find out our boy is diabetic and in critical condition - high blood sugars, ketoacidosis and his kidneys struggling to try to get rid of the ketones. Three days in the hospital and then our entire lives as a family are changed going forward. Adapting to being on top of his blood sugars all the time, calculating carbohydrates and insulin injections, waking up three times each night to test him and make sure he's fine. It's now December 25 and even though we're in a routine and its getting automatic for Lucas and for all of us in the family, we still have the stress of being on top of this all the time. My workplace hasn't been as supportive as I'd hoped, as they remember the data center project that is still going forward but isn't getting 100% of my attention anymore, and that seems to be a problem. It's left me rethinking and continuing to ponder what I need to do going forward - one of the first things on the list would be for me to abandon this music project and reclaim time, but I haven't been participating heavily in the band project so that would simply be symbolic without making anyone truly happy. I could change jobs - and this is something that is more realistic as I'm carrying the load of 2.5 people at the same level as myself: being the Director of Software Development, acting Director of Information and Server Engineering, and also a half of a Systems/Network Administrator. All for a salary that is significantly lower than the median for any one of those Director roles.
So we get to today - this week ahead I'm going to be working from home for my day job, and in whatever spare time I have I'll be trying to flesh out some strong ideas in my head for revamped and expanded take on HTFK plus some other material. I have my e-drums now complete and functional, albeit I need to tweak sensitivity and response a bit for use with Cubase, but they work. I'll need to pop around to Marc's to grab my bass that he graciously has been setting up (and fixing). And I'll need to play more - I have a nice used Epiphone Les Paul Standard that I've set up for Fripp's New Standard Tuning which I need to explore, and just pull some of the good stuff out and get it recorded. I had reviewed more than a year's worth of stems and snippets of ideas and found many which are worthy of further work, and so I'm going to jump in with both feet.
If there's anything I could want for Christmas this year it would be for the following:
- For all my 3 boys to be as healthy and drama free as possible, and to live well.
- For my wife to be as healthy and drama-free as possible, especially w.r.t. me and the boys. And to live well.
- For our extended family to be healthy, happy and drama-free - and of course live well.
- For my day job to recognize the difficulties and acknowledge them, and to adjust my pay to reflect my efforts and my value. If this doesn't happen then I need to move on to someplace that at least pays me market value.
- For my friends to all be healthy, have drama-free lives and live well. Particularly my bandmates and close friends - I don't have many close friends at all, so I really want to make sure you're all doing well.
- This is where I get somewhat political - I want strong leadership with ethics and morality to be in charge of this country. Fiscally responsible, but empathetic to the needs of our society and knowing that the best cure for most diseases is actually diligent prevention. Someone who knows the best and most effective way to a stronger economy and country is through universal access to the best education possible preparing for futures that haven't been imagined yet. Someone who knows that immigrants enrich our common society through both bringing new skill sets, but also through enlightening us by reflecting on our society through the eyes of another culture and different teachings. Someone with vision of more that just political special interests and donors, who can look beyond their own term and start paving a road to a more humane planet that can be both clean and prosperous for all.
Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Holidays to everyone else as well! Cheers and here's to better news in 2018!