Monday, March 29, 2010

The ten-year cycle

If you don't already know, I am attempting to break out of the high-tech world of insanity and get into more creative writing. Today, I spoke with the editor for the Westford Eagle, my local newspaper. I accepted a freelance writing gig that I can do along with my current job. I'll be mostly writing feature stories about people and events in my town.

A column I wrote for the Boston Globe was accepted recently and will be published on 4/11. I am most excited about this writing experience and hope to parlay it into even more published work for the Globe.

It dawned on me today as I was making my lunch, that I reinvent myself professionally every 10 years. When I graduated from college in 1980, I worked in customer service. I always felt I was capable of more and in 1990, I became a business systems analyst.

I loved being a BSA until I had to live through the Y2K nightmare, at which point, I decided I wanted to be a technical writer. In 2000, I transitioned to that job.

Now, 10 years later in 2010, I am tired of the high tech world and want to do the sort of writing I've always wanted to do. I didn't study English in college in order to become skilled in software tools used to do the writing. Tools that are often more important than the writing itself.

Although I still need to pay the bills and do some technical work, I don't want this to be the final stop on my career path. I feel that everything comes full circle and, if we listen to our guts, we will end up back at the place our young and passionate hearts pointed us years ago.

For me, that's writing about important things: people, places, events, social and political tugs of war, and ideas.

Maybe some day I'll write that novel. Maybe I'll continue to write short pieces that I hope stir some thoughts and feelings in the reader. Either way, I think I have finally found the work that will lead me into and maybe through retirement.

I'll check back with you in 2020.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tower of Power

Ron and I went to see the ultimate funk and soul band last night - Tower of Power. It was only our second time seeing them (beside the one time I saw them at my college Spring Festival in the late '70s). If you want some energy, you gotta go see ToP. After 40+ years together, they still can't be topped (no pun intended).

We sat in the mezzanine of the Wilbur Theatre in Boston last night and ended up having really great seats. It's a small enough venue that you're never too far from the stage. The first thing I do when I go to any concert is assess the crowd. I'm a people-watcher from way back and can never resist the tempation at concerts.

The seats around us were filled with all types. In front of us sat a couple who never clapped or moved - actions I thought impossible at a ToP show. Next to them was a man that alternated between making bar runs and staring into his Blackberry. Next to me (we had end seats, thankfully) was what appeared to be a sugar daddy and his "date". It was hard not to be distracted by them and I kept wishing they'd just leave and get a room. Halfway through the show they disappeared and I hoped they did just that. Behind us were crazy people (just the way I like 'em) who danced and hooted and yelled out song titles.

I don't want to do a full review of the show so much as point out my impressions and some highlights for me.
  • ToP needs to be in a venue at least that size to have the desired effect on the crowd. We saw them at Sculler's last year and the room was just too small for them. There was no way for them or us to move. The best way to enjoy their music is to get up and dance.
  • The set list was as good as I've seen from a band. They played most of their big hits and fan favorites but still added some new stuff from their latest cover album. Although it's a decent album, I'd rather listen to their own compositions than their interpretation of others songs. There was too much of that going on at the Sculler's gig last year.
  • David Garibaldi is one of the greatest drummers of all time. Yet he's so understated. I was glad to be sitting on his side of the stage so I could watch him more closely. I met him the last time I saw ToP and shook his hand. He has the hand of a drummer - calloused and strong.
  • When my ToP favorite "You've Got To Funkafize" started, I screamed "Oh My God!" so loud I fear I drowned out the singer. That song has several rhythms going on at the same time that all come together in one amazing funkfest.
  • I was thrilled that they played one of my all-time favorite ballads "So Very Hard To Go". It's a song about a love triangle. The balladeer struggles with doing the right thing by leaving - an unselfish, heartbreaking gift to the woman he loves. Definitely their best slow song - beating out "You're Still a Young Man" in my eyes.
  • The horn section and lead singer took a break midway through to allow for a great instrumental moment on drums, bass, guitar, and the B3. I loved how this allowed the part of the band that is often overshadowed by the strong horn section and singer to really shine.
  • Speaking of their singer, how Larry Briggs can still speak after belting out those tunes the way he does, is beyond me. His vocal range is phenomenal.
  • I think the best part of their set list was a James Brown tribute that started with their song "Still Diggin' on James Brown". This morphed into some great Brown covers including the gem "Mother Popcorn" which I don't hear much in Brown tributes. It includes some lines that Prince quoted in his song "Gett Off": I like 'em fat/I like 'em proud/You've got to have a mother for me. Another great funk song.
I hope that when Tower of Power comes back to Boston, they play the Wilbur again. It was a spectacular night and they played a longer set than usual (about 1 hr, 45 mins).
I made the mistake of wearing a sweater to the gig. I danced so much at the end I left sweating. The cool night air felt great as we hiked to a nearby bar. I don't remember the name but it had shamrocks in the sign so we figured they'd have Jamesons. Other folks stopped in after the show and we compared notes. Everyone agreed it was one of ToP's best outings. Can't wait to see them again!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old friends

It's been almost two weeks since I posted something here. That doesn't mean I haven't been writing, though. Just found myself caught up with life - especially vacation.

Seeing old friends in FL was just so wonderful. It amazes me that years can go by where you just email or facebook and occasionally call. Yet, when you see each other again, the old rhythm kicks right in. The same easy chatter and relaxed body language flow without a thought.

I'm blessed in many ways, but having friends who support me and make me laugh are high up on my list. I've also been lucky to have friends who are always there. Maybe they're not in the forefront of my life every day. But they stick with me and never let me down when I need them.

I feel bad for people who don't have that in their lives. It must be hard to a) not have friends you can count on, or b) have friends but not be able to stick with them when emotions get scary. I've had friends who have walked instead of staying and talking it out. Yes, it's more work and it forces you to walk into uncomfortable territory, but so what? Being uncomfortable for a short time is a small price to pay for keeping a trusted friend.

The types of friends I visited last week are the ones that keep me sane and fill me with joy. And, though I'm sad when they move away, it helps me remember that the world is a small place when I have friends scattered all over it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cosmetic overload

My younger sister explained the term "brazilian" to me recently. Without going into detail, it involves removing female body hair from a very sensitive area using hot wax. Lisa wondered if there was some sort of underlying pedophilia complex going on.

My take is that women are stripping themselves (literally, ouch) of their natural beauty. Body hair is somehow seen as gross and unattractive. We've become a culture that denies our links to our mammal past. It reminds me of the time in ancient classical history when body hair was considered ugly and "unclean". Cleanliness is next to godliness, perhaps? 

The brazilian practice also seems sort of counter-intuitive. As we age, we start to lose body hair and eventually revert to having little or none in old age. So, are we reversing or speeding up this process by taking things into our own hands?

Personally, I never plucked my eyebrows and only shave when I have to (TMI?). I lived on a boat in the BVI for a couple of vacations and it changed how I view my body. It was an "anything goes" sort of culture among fellow bareboaters. People showered out in the open and went skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing. Women and men didn't obsess over body or facial hair, either. It was all very natural and I found it freeing.

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise. People are going to what amounts to drive-throughs (and dying for it) in order to look younger. I've never considered cosmetic surgery. Seems like an awful lot of pain to endure to fool yourself and others, or to deny the inevitable.

I used to color my hair in my 40s but stopped at 49. People in their 50s have some gray. Who am I kidding by covering it up?

I think it's time for a revolution. Let's embrace our roots (and not just the ones on our heads) and take back our bodies. To me, there's nothing sexier than someone who is comfortable in their own skin.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Warts and all

Been away from the blog for a while spending my time travelling and being sick (I so thought I'd get through the winter without catching something). I have lots on my mind but will say this one thing now: My blog posts make me look like a saint. I am not.

I've come to understand that this blog has become an outlet for me to talk about what I hope for and also what I've learned. I don't use offensive language; I try to say intelligent things. But that's not who I am all the time.

Do I have my pet peeves and narrow-minded moments? Sure! Old habits die hard. I work just as hard, though, to keep them at bay and really listen to what comes out of my mouth - and fingers.

I've said and done some pretty selfish and hurtful things in my life. Sometimes while trying to be funny; sometimes to win an argument. People I love and who love me know how impatient I can be. They know I don't always approach those I disrespect with the same respect I want in return. They know I can be hypocritical at times.

I hate generalizations, yet, I find myself doing that at times. Not sure why - but I'm working on it.

Life is one long therapy session to me. And that's not a bad thing. I learned a ton in therapy especially how to approach problems in a non-emotional manner. Still, those knees jerk when the right buttons are pushed.

So, what am I saying? I'm saying that I'm not always sensitive and thoughtful. Not even close. So, read this blog with the knowledge that it, like me, is a work in progress.