Another Year(Nearly) Gone

Rounding out the weekend following one of the last big yearly holiday markers we call Thanksgiving. That means December is only a few days away, which also means my 49th birthday is just a few days away(cue The Beatles.)

It was a decent Thanksgiving weekend, though today(Sunday) is an especially dreary one. Dark gray clouds, rain, and just a quiet contemplative sort of day overall. Besides taking the dog for a quick poop stroll, I spent most of the early afternoon drawing and experimenting with watercolors. It’s not easy, watercolors that is. Still trying to come up with something for my daughter, art-wise. Going from color pencils to paint is quite the shift. I’ve gone from “Hey, I feel pretty good about this” to “My God, what’s wrong with you man?” I’ll figure it out, I suppose. I have to.

We spent Thursday here at home, with all the kids under one roof plus my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. I made homemade chicken tenders as I’ve lost my taste for the old big bird, the turkey. Unless it’s deli cold cuts I’m just gonna pass on the gobble gobble. Not my thing. After nearly 49 years I think I can make that call. Besides my chicken(which I was told was quite delicious) there was mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn pudding, and homemade mac and cheese with smoked gouda. There were rolls, pea salad, and caprese salad, too. Dessert was pumpkin pie, pecan pie, peanut butter pie, and my daughter brought a dozen cookies from Cookie Cottage(Fort Wayne staple, yo.)

All the food was on point, and we enjoyed it the day after and the day after that. Tonight I’m making a pizza because I need to break up the monotony and pizza usually does that for me. Friday I went and picked up a few things at the store, then my son and I spent a couple hours rearranging the music room downstairs. It’s at maximum lounge right now, with a dedicated jam space(which I took advantage of for a bit yesterday with my Orange amp and Squier Jazzmaster.) After a 3 1/2 mile walk yesterday my oldest asked if we could head up north to Michigan. She wanted to pick up some items that we can’t obtain here in our puritanical state, so we jumped into her 1989 Buick Skylark and took a lovely late afternoon cruise. She’s 22 but is still working on getting her license. She bought this car a couple months ago on the cheap. It’s 33 years old but only has 90,000 miles. We took it into the shop and besides some typical maintenance stuff it’s in great shape. Drives well. It’s a little low to the ground, but she’s fine with it. Getting used to how it handles, too. By March she’ll be able to get her license and will enjoy the freedoms that allows.

The boy had some pals over last night. Been a couple months since he’s had some friends over, so it was kind of nice. They munched on pizza, chips, and God knows what else while the wife, myself, and our oldest watched The Great British Baking Show like old people do. I was falling asleep by 9:30pm so I laid down, read from the latest Fangoria, and fell asleep with the magazine half covering my face.

I know it’s a bit early to do this, but I’ve been looking back on 2022. I have to say that it’s been a decidedly better year than 2021. 2021 was a year I’ll look back on with much dread and ire. It made 2020 feel like a cake walk. 2022 was a year with much change, both as far as our family goes and as far as I go. I’ve discovered that artist in me, the one that’s been hiding out since I was a little kid; first drawing portraits of family in crayons, then guitars with pen and pencil as a middle-schooler, then absurd large-headed versions of teachers as a Junior in high school. He’s returned, that artist-in-waiting, and he’s ready to do some work. I was excited to discover him this year.

I also discovered audio books. They’re a godsend to a guy on the go a lot. I’m on my 13th book starting from June/July. Still love the analog read, but with audio books I’m getting through so many more stories. Catching up on my Stephen King, a couple rock docs, and even a couple new authors. I did read a couple paperbacks this year, too. Stephen King’s The Dark Half and Jeff Tweedy’s Let’s Go(So We Can Get Back).

Though music listening has remained a constant, music-making hasn’t. It’s always in my mind and I always have a hankering to pick up a guitar, but the time just hasn’t been there. I did record an album of weird, wonky instrumental music over the summer so there’s that. The muse showed up and I was inspired to make some noise via analog and digital synths and put those noises onto tape. I had fun. That’s what matters, right?

This coming Thursday we’re moving our 19-year old from her apartment in the big city of Fort Wayne to a much nicer apartment in the much smaller town of Columbia City. It’s a relatively new apartment in a relatively new complex her and her boyfriend will be sharing. I’m excited for her. I think this move to a quieter atmosphere where gunshots aren’t heard in the middle of the night will be a welcome reprieve to her head and heart. It will be her place from the beginning, as opposed to moving into a spot that has been established by her roommates already. The drive to work and school won’t be that big of a deal, either. And she’ll be with her boyfriend. So that will be even better for her mentally and emotionally. She’ll be closer to us, too.

Friday is the big 49 for me. Not sure what we’re doing, but maybe some nice Khakis and some shoes are on the agenda. Maybe a meal and cake, too. Lemon, hopefully(I love lemon cake, with cream cheese frosting.) Birthdays don’t bug me out. I welcome getting older, as I’ve always felt like an old man trapped in a husky Midwestern kid’s body. Even in my 20s I just didn’t feel right. When I turned 40 it was like looking in the mirror after all those years and finally recognizing the slowly balding guy staring back at me. It was like “Well it’s about damn time you showed up.” 49 is just another day, another month, another year. I’m good with it. I welcome it.

It is weird, though, that my birthday is almost here. It really does feel like I just turned 48. It was a really nice birthday, too. My wife and I headed up to Grand Rapids, MI for lunch at Founder’s Brewing. We ate a fantastic lunch, I had an incredible stout on tap, we hit up a dispensary(hey man, when in Rome), then drove over to another brewery for some carryout beers. When we got home the kids had gotten some chicken burritos going and carrot cake was for dessert. It was a damn fine birthday.

The fact that that was almost a year ago kind of freaks me out. Though I don’t mind getting older, I wish things would slow down a bit. I’d like to savor these days. I don’t get it back. It’s cliche, but it’s true: when you’re young it seems to drag, but when you’re old it flies by. This is true. The truest thing I know.

After next weekend it’ll be the three long weeks till Christmas. My plant shuts down with the exception of a few areas. I’m working as the trucks will continue to deliver, and I don’t want that headache when we’d return after the shutdown. Plus, I don’t want to use my vacation when the company tells me to. In the words of RATM, “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.” I’ll save them and take some snowy days off in January. I like taking time off when it snows. I love the “snowed in” vibe. Good time to binge shows and movies and spin records, don’t ya know.

My wife and I took a morning walk on Thanksgiving. She’s been trying to keep a certain amount of steps in her day, and has done it very well for the past couple weeks. She wasn’t feeling it Thanksgiving morning, but I told her gear up and let’s go. It was a nice, sunny, breezy Thanksgiving morn and a solid AM to walk. Figured we could use to burn some excess angst giving we were hosting Thanksgiving. As we started to head back to the house on one of the county roads we were walking on I stopped and decided to take a picture. The recently plowed cornfield looked serene to me. I wanted to capture that serenity. My wife said “What are you doing?” I said “Just taking a picture of the cornfield. It looks pretty to me.” “Nice pic of the field” she said. “It is” I said.

Find the beauty wherever you can. Enjoy it all. Who knows when we don’t get anymore of it.

2 thoughts on “Another Year(Nearly) Gone

  1. Always enjoy hearing about the world according to Mad Juan. You’ve got a lot of activity as I call it. Managing the chaos becomes more challenging as we get more grey in our hairs. Perhaps I just have less patience. Glad you had a good Thanksgiving sans 🦃. I think we’ve about gone through the leftovers.

    This year has flown like literal hot cakes if that even possible. I find more and more it’s hard to distinguish the changes because it seems like most of it all feels like deja vu. Over and over the same things. It’s hard to stop and just enjoy time. Yesterday a juvenile blue jay hit the window. Initially I thought it might have died but Jodi picked it up with a towel to keep it warm. It’s eyes were open but it was stunned. After about an hour, it flew a few feet to get its bearings under a bush. Eventually it flew small jaunts to where it’s parents were (our assumption because they seemed to be calling for it ). I think something like that was cool
    And special because it was different. Maybe because we felt like we were helping a creature that didn’t look like it was going to survive. Jodi saw him flying later today so she’s relieved to know he’s made it so far. I guess it’s the little things.

    Ben started taking guitar / keyboard lessons / music theory with his teacher over the last 6 months . He enjoys it. He was doing baritone/euphonium but needed a little break. He has an 2000-2001 Ibanez RG270DX. It’s raspberry red. It was Jodi’s but he’s learning to play it. We recently got him a Boss pedal for it so he can play around with feedback. I think it’s good for him to have something to take his mind off of high school stress / drama.

    I hope you have a Happy Birthday 🎂🎁🎊 later this week and enjoy the day.
    If you ever feel like coming to Columbus Ohio, we would love to see you guys. You could bring your axe and jam w Ben. Ha.

    Liked by 1 person

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