Seriously wrecked

partially OK

It’s been a long time since I’ve had my ass handed to me. Last month I got the comeuppance I’ve been due for quite some time, and it’s been incredibly humbling. I love to mountain bike, and in particular jump and hop said mountain bike around, between, and over obstacles both large and small. The feeling of flight and weightlessness is something I’ve chased since my skydiving days, and frankly, only get to experience when leaping a bike these days. Having been a rider for most of my life, this type of risk is really nothing new or unexpected for me. I’ve been doing it for so long I take my skills for granted, as the feeling of flight, speed and weightlessness are as close as I can come to feeling superhuman.

However, on October 12th of this year I took what was to be a simple, innocuous ride up and back on the coast- which ended in utter disaster. Approaching one of the many ravines I traverse on this trail, I really didn’t feel differently- no sense of foreboding, hesitation or even concern- I’d jumped off this particular ledge so many times that it’s almost become reflexive. A quick bunny hop off the top and I was floating over the edge, slowly rotating my center of gravity to match the angle of the transition 15′ below me. But as time compressed and weightlessness engulfed me, I knew in my gut something was wrong. The bottom of the hill had been churned up from the normal hard-pack and was instead loamy and soft. The angle I took over the edge had me going a few degrees left of my usual line, and despite a last-ditch effort to push my rear wheel out and down to adjust and shift landing weight off my front wheel, it still dug into the soft dirt and washed out just as I flipped my heels to pop the clips and get free of the bike, and everything went wrong. Horribly wrong.

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Connection

I’m going to the NAMM show this year, for the first time in almost 20 years. I’ve been saying 12 (when I last moved from Carpinteria, and its comfortable, less-than-8-hour drive to Anaheim), but doing the math it’s been 20, as I didn’t attend NAMM any of the years I lived here last, either. Craziness. In case you’re confused, NAMM stands for “National Association of Music Merchants”, and is *the* biggest music conference of each year. To be looking back at 2 decades of avoiding NAMM as a constantly-working musician is, frankly, a bit strange to me. Maybe even a bit embarrassing, honestly.

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Sketching

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It’s nice to rediscover pens and pencils lately, although I’m not sure I’ll stick with these newfangled ‘brush pens’ for long. Too much pen, not enough brush IMO. Beautiful morning of sun, coffee, Jimi Hendrix and a clear page in the big Moleskine.

Chill

The holiday break has been wonderful here, albeit a bit colder in weather than I would have hoped (which is mostly unnecessary whining, as we still wore shorts to the beach on Christmas Eve).

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(Yeah, I’m wearing thermals in the pic above, but swear I was actually wearing shorts over them.)

Mostly it’s been a quite chill-as-in-relaxing holiday week for me more than the get-a-sweater variety, and I’ve spent the entirety of it with my wife and son. Doing randomly stupid but oh-so-therapeutically-beneficial tasks like shooting stomp rockets at the beach, kinda like this:

But that’s not all…

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Holidays

My 2012 Holiday to-do list.  Not ambitious at all.

For the body– I already agreed to up the exercise quota back to late-summer levels.  The last few months I’ve seen my exercise regimen  slipping wildly due to the loss of Daylight Savings time, colder weather and wetter beaches, and many, many more excuses just like that.  So I’m going on a run a day.  Doesn’t have to be a big one, just a good one – that’s all.

For the soul– I need to finally quit my sneaky, occasional cigarettes.  I like to insist that I’m “not a smoker” simply because it’s not a daily, recurring habit for me.  But enough’s enough, so it’s time to throw out the hidden pack of Spirits and return the lighter to our candle drawer where it belongs.  Just the peace of mind (and clarity of vocal passages/reduced risk of cancer) this would bring me – priceless.  I’ve been fighting this one for years, though. Wish me well.

For the mind– I need to be able to kickstart my creative process more spontaneously, and finish equally as quickly. Writers’ block is a bitch, and I’m tired of submitting to it.  So I’ve decided to host a few small, private sci-fi RPG sessions this holiday week, as building a good campaign will both expose my son to math and storytelling in an approachable way, and force myself to learn how to create on the fly again in the process.  Win/win.  Being a game master forces you to tell an interesting story on the fly and is a great way to get comfortable being spontaneous with your muses.  1d20 vs intelligence?  Critical success!

For the spirit– we’re going to our friends’ Xmas dinner instead of cooking this year.  It’s a simple statement to make, but such a relief in practice.  I’ve (nearly) always planned and cooked Christmas dinner when we hosted the day in our Oakland house.  However, as we’ll be self-contained this year, it’s time to stop acting like a stressed-out host and relax for a change.  I’m also going to spend as much time as possible off this computer and on with my family, as frankly – family is what the holidays should be about.

All my best for a wonderful 2012 holiday season, and a fantastic 2013.

Proud

In retrospect, I’m honestly not sure how 2012 turned out so well, given how it started.

Last December I was suffering a job that demanded more and more of me in my time, ethical compromises, sanity and grey hairs, yet returned less and less as time wore on (salary and benefits notwithstanding).  My wife was increasingly depressed, struggling to keep a therapy business afloat in an area (Oakland) that was already ravaged by the macroeconomic landscape before Occupy Oakland and the Oscar Grant riots tore it even further apart.  My son was happy but at great financial and emotional cost – a very expensive school that would only support him for another year before we had to choose between bad, worse or unacceptable options locally, or ship him off to somewhere with an affordable option for the attention that his wicket-smart brain already demands.  (With a lot less of Oakland’s well-documented senseless crime to either tempt or threaten it.)  Looking back now, I can easily see how I rarely felt proud as a father, or even as a person in that environment.

So believe me, to say I’m really proud of 2012 is something I hadn’t seen myself doing, not by a long shot. And there’s a lot of reasons why.

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