Middle-Aged Blues, Vacation, Cool Weather

This past Friday was Senior Night at the high school football game. Our son is part of the drum line in the marching band, as well as being a senior. It was our duty/honor to walk with him on the track as the announcer said his name, mentioned his intentions on furthering his education next year, and then read a quote from the boy. As we walked the announcer mispronouced our name(pronounced it “Huebner” not “Hubner”), said the boy was planning to take a year off before heading to college, and then read something to the effect “Thanks mom and dad for always supporting me, even when I make mistakes”.

Besides the name thing it was a nice bit of pomp and circumstance for the seniors and their parents. I remember sitting through these in years’ past and feeling this pit of pride and melancholy grow in my stomach. Imagining all the mixed emotions those parents were going through knowing they’d almost come to the end of the road as parents of school-age children. Hell, I felt that watching 6th grade graduations way back at Lincoln Elementary. But seniors in high school? Man, I never thought I’d get there. That is, until I did get there Friday night.

I’ve been having this crisis of self for awhile now. “What am I if I’m not needed as dad?” Nobody is home much anymore, except me and the elder dog. My wife is pretty busy with her work so her mind is kept on task. I come home from work, take the dog for a walk, then come back and will go for a walk just me. Then there’s cooking dinner and wondering when everyone will get home. That’s not really a solid plan for life. I have ideas of working on writing, music, art, or reading books in those free times. I want to be creative in some form everyday, besides cooking meals and finding creative ways to clean up the kitchen. I know that there’s nothing stopping me from doing that except myself. I get off track, unmotivated, and want to just melt into the chair. It’s a rut I’m finding myself in, and I’m trying to find that rope to pull me out of it.

The last couple of weeks I tried getting up at 3:50 am, to give myself an hour and a half of writing time before work. It worked okay the first day, but then we stayed up till 10pm watching something on TV and there was no way I could pull myself out of bed then. Plus, the dog was staring at me like I was offending him or something which completely threw me off. I can’t rely on the early morning thing because I can’t rely on myself to go to be at 8:30 every night. Then I thought well then I could do it after work, but then when do I have time to exercise? I need that to work off the day’s stress from work.

Me problems. Time management problems. First world problems.

I think I’m just ready for vacation. A week from today we’re leaving for Michigan. We’re staying at an air bnb that we stayed at last year up around Three Rivers, MI. It’s a fantastic home with all the amenities and seclusion, sitting on a little private lake. It’s a great reboot before the holiday seasons begin. Work has been stressful and causing extra anxiety in me, so this will be much needed. Last year the five(six including the pooch) of us had a great time, though we were only there for two days. This year we’ll be there for four days and I can’t wait. Our 19-year old won’t be coming as she lives in an hour from us and has classes every night, but our oldest’s partner will join us for a couple days. I’m looking forward to grilling, taking the dog for morning walks, coffee on the screened-in porch, and just being away from everyday routine. Maybe I can figure out my post-vacation schedule then.

I think I’m ready to be done with work. They announced a year ago that our plant was being closed. Our manufacturing was being sent to Puerto Rico and China and that our doors would be shut by July 2024. Not a good day for us. There will be severance based on how many years of service. Due to the fact that I will have been there close to 25 years by the time this thing ends I’ll have a nice chunk of money. Pay off house chunk of money. Relax a bit and take your time figuring out what’s next money. If I’m being honest what I want to be next is done. I’ll have plenty of time for writing, art, and exercise then. Of course I can’t retire. I won’t even be 50 if the plans stay and we close in July 2024. Okay, I’ll have been 50 for about six months, but this is America. We’re supposed to work till we’re 67. I’m just not sure I can do that. I’m tired. The machine has chewed me up and spit me out mentally, emotionally, physically, and psychically. I want to be a stay-at-home middle-aged dad. That sounds nice.

I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and it all involves music and art. One thing that I’m starting is working with an independent record label. There’s a label out in Seattle that I’m a huge fan of. They have my kind of aesthetic and reward the listener with a sort of “entire package” vibe. Screenprinted vinyl and cassette sleeves, excellent pressings, cool color variants, and amazing electronic/synth music. It’s a one man operation and I knew that the owner was kind of overwhelmed, so I offered up my services writing copy for the releases and whatever else I could do to help living in the middle of the country while he’s in the Pacific Northwest. Much to my surprise he was more than happy to let me help out. So I’m going to be working on copy for press releases, liner notes, and also some reaching out to fellow music blogs to see if they’d be interested in writing about these releases. I told him I didn’t want any money, but if he wanted to send the releases my way I’d be good with that.

This is the kind of stuff I’d like to do post-9 to 5. Work with labels, writing up copy and reviews and getting the word out regarding artists and record labels I dig. That’d make me happy. There’s not really money involved, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’ll work the produce dept at the local grocery store for money. I do this because I love music. Plus, there’s vinyl and cassettes so I’m good with that.

This isn’t some crisis of faith or self, more than it’s a crisis of time spent. I need to lock into a schedule and groove and go for it. Make time for the important stuff, and I know that I can I just need to get some discipline in the routine is all. Just because nobody is home doesn’t mean I should just sit in a chair and mope. My kids still love me and need me, they just love me and need me differently these days. They require words of encouragement and advice more than dinner being ready on time. They need me to be understanding when they don’t have time to watch weekend horror movies.

Life will be changing quite drastically in the next couple of years, and I need to have a plan in place for it. I need to find some kind of new purpose, and one that involves myself for a change. It’s scary and exciting. It’s a big unknown that I need to introduce myself to. Just walk up to it and say:

“Hello. Let’s get a cup of coffee and talk about our futures.”

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