Backs Get Sore, Everyone Gets Old, and Life Moves On : A Feel Good Tale

I’m entering week four of working by myself at the 9 to 5. I may becoming feral, like my primitive ancestors that lived in caves, drew on walls, and bought T-Rex steaks at Yoder’s Meat Market in the 70s. I’m getting lots of work done, oddly enough. I think if you cut out human contact, laughter, emotional connections, and general “bonding” then your efficiency levels rise to Superman-like accuracy(just don’t let the rest of corporate America in on this one.)

The last two weeks I’d been having issues with my back. After week one I began using a “Vari-Desk”. If you’re unfamiliar with this invention I’ll fill you in: A Vari-Desk a 75 lb slab of pressed wood that sits on gears and a lifting mechanism that sits atop your original desk and allows for the worker bee to raise his desk, turning it into a stand-up desk. I’d been wanting to try one for a few years now, but now that I’m the only person left in the receiving dept the powers that be must’ve thought they better give me what I want. Appease the cretin and keep him happy. “Hey, you want Jimmy Johns for lunch? Our treat!” “Wow, so are you listening to Slayer’s ‘God Hates Us All’ again? Cool! Turn it up!”

So during week two of the isolation experiment I received a Vari Desk, and I’ll tell you that first week was great. Really quite liked the feel of a stand up desk. Felt more productive, I was a better vantage point to see who was coming my way, and I guess it just made me feel healthier. But after that first week my feet were hurting from standing all day. Then my hips were pretty sore, along with my lower back. I’d come home at night stiff as hell and sitting on a heating pad till bedtime. Surely this wasn’t because of my healthy stand up desk? I felt great that first week. Why the sudden shift into pain and stiffness?

Of course it was.

I used to laugh at these morons up front that had these desks, but when I walked by their cubicle they were sitting in high chairs. Like, what’s the point ya schmuck? Well, turns out standing ALL DAY on CONCRETE FLOORS isn’t so good for you either. After a few days of attempting to find the perfect high chair I decided I’d just alternate the sitting/standing scenario. I’ll sit for a bit with the desk lowered, then I’ll raise it and stand for a bit. It seems that moderation is key in this healthy standing lifestyle at work. But with us now being in the car for 5 to 6 hours every Saturday for Percussion and Ensemble competitions I’m back to feeling like Scoliosis kid. Oh well. What is it Buddha said? “Life is suffering, but death is forever. So stop complaining.”

Besides the fact that my back feels like its currently made from a 70s Erector Set or some garage sale Tinker Toys, the Saturday trips have been nice. Last Saturday my wife and I stopped at a Japanese restaurant on the way to competition for some sushi. It was fantastic. We had a bit of a panic once we arrived at the school and discovered they only took cash for entry, which we had no cash. Having only 15 minutes before they performed we rushed out of the school to attempt to find an ATM. We saw a family in the parking lot and my wife asked if they were from around there. They were not. When we said we needed to find an ATM as we had no cash the woman without blinking pulled out her purse and handed my wife a $20. We asked if we could venmo her the money and she said no. “Just get into the school so you don’t miss the performance”, she said.

So that was one of those little reminders to us that there are good and kind people still in the world. You just need to go to band competitions to find them.

This past weekend the competition was 2 1/2 hours away at Plainfield High School, south of Indianapolis. We packed some turkey wraps, celery sticks, an some trail mix for the road and left around 12:30pm. It was a pretty day out, so the drive was nice. Lunch on the road was also nice and we made it to the school and saw four schools before our son. Their show is based around Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ with Hans Zimmer’s music playing a big role. They even wear astronaut outfits which is pretty cool. Last year it was horror-themed, this year it’s about the space race. They did a great job, even better than last week. They ended up coming in 4th place, but improved their score by 5 points. Not too bad.

Since we were done by like 4:30pm we hit up Luna Music in Indy. It’s a great record shop that we used to go to whenever we came to Indianapolis. We hadn’t been there since before Covid so it was nice perusing the aisles. I ended up picking up a live Pye Corner Audio LP, a King Tubby LP, and a Dave Brubeck compilation called Early Fantasies. My wife found it in the “Just Arrived” bin for $12. It’s a collection of early works of his, and since I love Dave Brubeck it seemed like a no-brainer. The PCA album, Social Dissonance, was recorded back in 2019 and is a mixture of improvisational music as well as cuts from his studio albums. It’s long been sold out on his Bandcamp page, so finding a copy in the wild was quite the nice surprise(and also another one my wife found before I did.) The last one was a King Tubby album. A collection of songs he produced in the 70s. I’ve been wanting to dive into dub music for awhile, and felt I might as well start with one of the best.

In my element

Dinner wasn’t nearly as stellar as last weekend, sadly. We ate a brewery just a block down from Luna. We ate there last summer before a Marc Maron show and it was great. We ate at a different location last year during percussion and ensemble season and were blown away. Atmosphere, food, and just the whole vibe was great. This location is more of a straight up bar, but the food was still good. This weekend, not so much. Service was terrible, my wife’s tenderloin sandwich was slathered in a mustard that tasted more like straight up horseradish sauce, and the prices were about $4 more than what the menu stated. I wanted a burger and fries and that’s what I got. It was a fine burger, but not and $18 burger.

At least the beer was good.

So as not to leave town on a sour note we stopped at Fresh Market, which is like a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Hard to find items, great deli and meat counter, and stuff you don’t find in the local chain store. We grabbed some fresh veggie stir fry, a couple desserts from the bakery, and a bag of Organic ‘Bitches Brew’ Dark Roast. I mean, how could I not buy a coffee called ‘Bitches Brew’? It helped to improve our mood after a very disappointing dinner.

I think a good part of my back issues is that I haven’t been walking. These last two weeks I’ve been going in early and staying over, which accounts for why I’m not drowning at work. It also accounts for why I’m just going home and crashing on the couch as well. I told my wife I’m packing a bag with gym gear and just going after work regardless of how tired I am. I need that movement and that sweat and that exertion. I always feel better when I’m in a regular exercise routine. Not only is it good to zone out to my audio book while racking up some miles, but I truly feel it’s a great way to burn off the bad vibes of work and life. When I don’t work out I feel like the bad juju just builds up in my body, manifesting in my sore back, anxiety, stress, worry, and even sickness. A good sweat does the body, mind, and spirit a hell of a lot of good. I’m not talking marathons and Iron Man strength training. I’m talking getting on a treadmill and just getting a sweat on. Maybe I’ll indulge in a weight machine or two, but only once I’ve re-established a walking routine. The cardio is the main thing. I’m still dealing with pulled tendons and painful joints, so weight training is not a priority for me. I’ve got a couple 20 lb dumb bells at home my dad gave me. I can use those. I’ll leave the grunting, weight belts, and powerlifting to the younger cats and the guys that like tight shirts.

In just a little over a week my youngest turns 18. Yep, my baby boy will be turning into a man, according to the military, tobacco sales, and X-rated movie theaters. And I guess most government agencies. He’ll be graduating at the end of May. He’s not going to college right away. He said he wants to work a year which I think is a smart move. He’s currently unemployed, but says once he turns 18 he’s applying places. He has an opportunity to work for a marina/boat rental place this summer. It’s the place our oldest has been working in the summer since 2020. They love her there, so much so they continued to pay her during their 2 month shutdown. And I guess there’s a spot for our son if he wants it. He worked there last summer and they liked him. I’m hoping he does that. It’s day hours, 8-5, so he’d have evenings to hang out with his girlfriend(they’ll be a senior next year.) Maybe that’s part of the reason he doesn’t want to go to college right away. Or maybe it’s that he doesn’t want to rack up lots of academic debt just yet. Either way, he’s a good kid and I’m proud of him.

For his 18th I want to buy him a bass guitar. He’s a drummer, but he’s been messing around with my Rickenbacker since he was 14-years old. I bought him a Nirvana ‘In Utero’ bass tab book a couple years ago and he learned a couple songs in there. I feel like if he had his own bass he might get into playing more, so I think I’m going to grab him a Fender Jazz bass. Precision basses are great, but I dig the vibe of the Jazz bass. He tends to lean heavy into rhythm-heavy music. He loves Radiohead, The Smile, NIN, old Black Sabbath, etc…so already being a drummer I think bass is the logical jump. Drum and bass are the foundation. And if he doesn’t play the bass, I know I will.

The week of my son’s birthday my wife and oldest are flying to New York to see a Broadway show. My oldest is a big Rupaul’s Drag Race fan, and has been a fan of drag shows since she was 16 years old. She’d go see drag shows that were put on on the Ball State University campus when she was at the Indiana Academy for her junior/senior year of high school. The next step was to dive into Rupaul’s world. One of the drag queens that’s been on Drag Race is Jinx Monsoon. Jinx is performing on Broadway for a limited amount of shows and my wife and daughter really wanted to go see her perform. My oldest did a work study in New York back in early 2021, and lived there from January to April of 2021. She loved the city, and a chance to return for a couple days for a Broadway show was a no-brainer. She couldn’t see any shows when she was originally in New York because of a little thing called Covid. This is her chance to make up for that.

What that means is that it will just be the boy and I and the family pooch for his birthday. Not really sure what we’re doing, but an ice cream cake was mentioned. I might grill us a couple steaks. And maybe some bass playing as well.

I guess you just take the bad with the good. I’m sore, my body is breaking down as bodies do after years and years of work and abuse, and there’s nothing to do about it. I’ve found tricks to make me hurt not as much, so that’s at least good. But despite the cold packs, heat pads, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories I feel pretty good about my life. I’ve got those weekend trips with my best friend for the last 30+ years, mostly great meals, looking at records, and watching our son perform. We can afford for my wife and daughter to take a trip the Big Apple to see a show on Broadway, and I can go buy my soon-to-be adult son a bass guitar because I think he’d dig it. My 19-year old is living on her own, working two jobs, and going to night school to be a hair stylist. She’s working hard and doing what she needs to do to be able to follow her passion. Our family pooch Otto, aka Mr Pooch McGooch, aka Otto The Mini is now an “old dog”, hitting 12 years old back in October. I see his age, but I also still see the crazy pup in his eyes when he throws his toys around the living room.

I know this could all come crumbling down like some Erector Set skyscraper, but until that happens I’ll keep appreciating every moment. And I’ll keep icing my lower back. Because it feels good.

3 thoughts on “Backs Get Sore, Everyone Gets Old, and Life Moves On : A Feel Good Tale

  1. Sounds like your kids are doing great J! Kudos to you and your wife on parenting in these crazy times and by giving them a great work ethic which is very important. (look at your eldest working two jobs and taking night classes)..
    Great to see and I hope your back gets better and u get a better burger next time your out!

    Liked by 1 person

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