But the truth is, at least as how I'd like to spin it, is that I've been busy having a good time. And that's at least most of the story. There's no doubt I could have written a lot more, but I just couldn't find it in me to care. I find, when I look through old journals and remember back to the times when their entries were penned, that the places where there are large gaps of time missing are the times when my life is at an invigoratingly high point. That is not to say I only wrote about my life when it sucked, but rather when I had more time to hunker down and get into it.
And this year has been no exception. I started off the year by up and quitting my job so I could focus on my studies and assume an internship at a nonprofit agency — a requirement for my degree program. The job I left I was more than happy to be done with, and my only regret was taking it on in the first place (after leaving another job where I had been for an exhausting but well-payed twelve years). That internship turned into a job offer, where I find myself still.
The band I play in remained busy during this time with writing and recording, which I look at as a bad habit we've never been able to shake. We released early in the year our third album, and by the time it was done we had already been working on new material, taking on a side project with a good friend of ours. That project yielded a batch of demo recordings that never had the opportunity to go beyond that as time commitments put the brakes on the whole thing.
Around this time I slowly faded away from the blues dance class I had been taking since the year before, but I continued to work on improving my skateboarding skills, a pastime from which I had been absent since 1992ish. Things hurt a lot more than they once did. 35 is not 13.
By May, I was all set to graduate with my first degree — one that I am proud (if not slightly bitter) to say I accomplished all on my own, without the help of generous parents or trust funds set up to make my life cake. It wasn't some overpriced private school nor one on the the other side of the planet, but it was all my hard work and integrity that got me there, some now-looming-over-my-head federal assistance notwithstanding. So graduation came and went, with nobody attending to see me walk, and a few weeks later I received in my postbox the actual piece of paper that states I really did graduate. So that happened.
I also found myself meeting lots of new people, fostering and growing friendships, and abandoning ones that were not mutually beneficial. I found myself reassessing some things in my life, reprocessing some things over the past few years, regretting some personal investments I had made and kicking myself for being haunted by them. I am still too frequently reminded about a poor romantic decision I made some years ago, which has effectively let my hometown be hijacked by the presence of a person who I've realized to be leeching and spurious. So I've been learning to listen better to my gut feeling (and not the feelings I sometimes get from having ulcerative colitis, although that's a fair parallel to my aforementioned mistake) and to focus more on me.
By fall, our band recorded and released yet another album, this one heading in still a forward direction. A second guitarist was added to our lineup, graciously filled by a friend of ours whose other band had gone on hiatus. This album seemed to do much better for us as far as garnering new fans. Multiple show offers followed (we are a very unambitious band and rarely pursue gigs ourselves, as half of the members juggle families and we all have our personal and professional lives) and we were fortunate to play with some great bands, including The Dead Milkmen, my all-time favorite band; M.O.T.O. (who we played with only days prior to this post); and various friends' bands that are a staple in our little rock 'n' roll community.
At my job, my duties continue to expand and I am constantly rewarded with praise from staff and with the satisfaction of knowing I am doing something good for an important part of the community in which I live. They're low income families, homeless individuals, or otherwise people struggling with some life hurdles, and they all need a little extra push and sometimes a second chance to make that happen. I feel good about my role in that. Many people talk about community building and organizing, and I hear that every day, but all I see is comfortable white folks catering to other comfortable, affluent people to have some gatherings at well-lit, well-funded spaces where they can drink and stuff their faces and feel better about themselves knowing they're not — at least for the time they're there — alone.
So that's a summary of what I've been getting into this year.