At first, “No Schedule Man” was just something funny uttered by an acquaintance. But the phrase stuck with me. It later became both a song lyric and album title. In the process of bringing the song, album and idea to life, the phrase “No Schedule Man” began to take on a life of its own.
Later on, in the aftermath of many seismic life changes in the years following the CD release, the whole idea of No Schedule Man became much more to me.
No Schedule Man is a wish; an aspiration; a reflection of reality with a hint of fantasy.
“Blue jeans, ball cap, ready to roll. All else …. beyond my control.”
Life has taught me that none of us truly know what’s next. None of us are really in total control, whether we choose to tell ourselves that we are or not. I’m learning that life does not always take you exactly where you wish to go. But it always takes you to exactly where you are and need to be. For better and worse. Good and bad. It’s all part of the deal.
Push and pull. Up and down. Yin and Yang.
“I am the waves and tide and wind, cause I blow in, then out again. Passing with nomadic chagrin …”
My idea of No Schedule Man is total acceptance of the inevitability of change, and the embrace of constant hum of the unknown, all while trying to live life, stay present and keep moving forward.
No plan is all part of the plan. It’s not the whole plan: You got to point the boat somewhere if you’re going to set sail. And if you’re ever going to reach a new destination, you better be ready to do some real work in the process.
But sometimes you have to change course. And if you fight too hard against the forces of nature, you’ll sink.
But, “no plan” is a very necessary part of achieving any goal or destination. Some times you just have to let go until it’s time to dig in again.
At this point in my life, No Schedule Man seems to represent all that I’ve done in work and in life and has become its own story, including a cast of characters of all the strange and wonderful people and experiences I continue to encounter along the way.
Perhaps you can relate?
Ultimately, I’ve found that the more I try to be like No Schedule Man and less like my original vision of constant drive, achievement and determination, the more life opens up to me. And the more I open up to life.
I already have everything I need. Yet, I know anything is possible if I’m willing to start, show up and do the work it takes to embark upon the journey.
Live in the moment. Stay present. Embrace change. Meet new people. Be inspired by real people; friends, neighbours, family members, co-workers and members of your community. Stay grounded.
We’ll get there when we get there. If we get there at all.
Either way, we’ll always have the journey.
Have a safe trip ….
Asking me to hang around a music store is like inviting a sugar addict to make himself comfortable at Willy Wonka’s factory. Luckily, when I was at Grooves Records in London the other day, I was immediately put to work amidst a tight schedule that did not permit me to linger after the work was done, so what little is left in my wallet is still intact.
But I sure enjoyed being there.
Grooves Records is an old-style music shop in London, Ontario. They have actual records (I mean LPs – vinyl). They also offer their customers a wonderfully diverse mix of musical choices that you won’t find many other places anymore. From international superstars to local independent artists like me, they’re all there. All styles and tastes are represented. Used, new, hot, obscure: all are welcome.
Though I am a lover of all kinds of music, even I have fallen prey to the convenience of the iPod era. I still buy CDs from the artists that mean the most to me, but before I arrived at Grooves last Saturday, I didn’t realize that I’d lost touch with the simple pleasure of browsing through stacks and stacks of different kinds of music. It was a treat to watch people do just that while I sat a happily sang some songs for them. There is a wonderful sense of community and friendship in an environment like that. I pray we don’t lose touch with that.
Prior to Saturday, I’ve not had my guitar out in a while. I was pleased to find that I felt right at home doing some songs at Grooves Records. I played 18 songs, with a mix of material from my “No Schedule Man” and “I Remember” CDs, some of my favourite cover songs to play and even a few that have not yet been released (though I’m working on correcting that). Those who listened seemed appreciative and for that I’m grateful.
Many thanks to Troy, Andy and the good people at Grooves Records for a fun couple of hours. Good folks, all. If you like music, go visit them at 353 Clarence Street in London. I, for one, will be going back.
And I’ll bring my credit card.
Spring is (sort of) here in Southwestern Ontario. Though it’s been tough to dodge the raindrops, the sun has shone enough to get the motorcycles back out on the streets. And I like to see that, partly because I have many motorcycling friends.
But mostly because I like how they wave at each other.
Ever notice that? When motorcyclists are passing in opposite directions, they almost always take one hand off the handlebars and offer a very subtle wave to the passing rider, as if to say, “I see you. I’m with you. Enjoy the ride and stay safe.”
I love that. When I follow one of those subtle salutes in my car, I get the urge to wave too. I want to be a part of the brethren. I want to say, “I see you. I’m with you. Enjoy the ride and stay safe.” I like seeing people who would otherwise be strangers show a sign – any sign – of togetherness like that.
Here’s another example: when I wear any kind of clothes with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ symbol on it, people talk to me. Perhaps there’s another cultural phenomenon where you live similar to that. Here, it’s hockey. I sometimes get it when I wear Detroit Tigers gear, but when I have Leafs stuff on, someone I don’t know will approach me. Guaranteed. They may say something to voice their support, or they may make a joke at my expense. But they’ll talk to me.
You see the trend here?
People will approach – or offer a courteous wave toward – other people when they sense some kind of commonality. It makes sense. But I wonder: isn’t the fact that we’re all human commonality enough? Can’t we take on faith that each of us have ups, downs, trials, tribulations and that we’re all basically searching for pretty much the same thing: happiness?
I don’t ride a motorcycle. And truth be told, I wear my Maple Leafs’ gear only occasionally.
But I’m waving anyway. In spirit at least. I don’t care who you are. If you’re reading this, you’re human. And that’s enough.
I see you. I’m with you.
Enjoy the ride and stay safe.
Has it ever occurred to you to keep an eye out for an older version of yourself? I mean, just in case time travel becomes a reality at some point in the future and you decide to come back and have a look.
Okay, so you don’t think that’ll ever happen. Fair enough. But if you look around, you’ll see that you’ve come to rely on a great many things that many may have thought impossible years ago. So who knows?
And besides, there is a point to this exercise.
Let’s just suppose your “future you” showed up in front of you one day. What do you think he/she would say? And if you could go back into your own life and talk to yourself at some point in your past, when and where would it be and what would you say to yourself?
In fact, I feel an honest consideration of what you might say to your “younger self” would give you an idea of what your “future you” may have to suggest to you now.
One of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” is to begin with the end in mind. Consider that for a moment, both in terms of looking back and going forward. You are, right here and now, a product of the choices you’ve made and habits and attitudes you’ve relied upon to this point.
Are you happy with who you are? Where you are? Where you’re going?
Going forward, is there anything you’d like to be different?
Ask yourself: would your future self come back and say, “I wish you’d done this or that, or not done this or that?” If so, you have something to seriously consider in the choices you make today.
And so back to where we started: will time travel one day be possible? Perhaps, however you have little or no control over that. But as for the choices you make today, well, that’s a different story.
And that’s the story that will shape the “future you,” who might be just around the corner.
(Listen to the song “Sunny Day in November” HERE)
When I write lyrics and/or music, most often the right words seem to just “show up,” as if they’re being channelled from some other place. When that happens, I let it flow as best I can and capture as much as possible, be it with pen, computer, guitar or even just humming (or singing) an idea or two into a handheld analog recorder. The great majority of times, I leave that process with the infrastructure of a full song, including lyrics and melody. There will be re-writes and arrangement tinkering, but quite often I’ll have the whole thing come to me all in one shot. “Bagley Avenue,” “Song for Sean,” “Kevin’s Prayer,” “Awake But Not Alive” and “Everything’s Just Fine” from my No Schedule Man CD are good examples. They all just appeared to me out of the blue and are pretty much the same songs now as the day I first wrote them.
Rarely, I’ll find a song come together in bits and pieces over a period of time. Rarer still is a song surviving that process and holding its weight without coming off sounding contrived or as if I were trying to write it.
“Sunny Day in November” is such a tune. And this is the story of how it went from its initial inspiration to a complete recorded song on the No Schedule Man CD.
To set the initial scene, I’ll first re-print the passage I wrote about the song that appears in CD liner notes:
In the fall of 2008, London was hit by a snowstorm prior to Hallowe’en. The leaves had not yet fallen, and the weight of the snow took down many trees; an unsightly and unfortunate blow to the “forest” city. Little more than a week later, I found myself at Victoria Park in downtown London on a brilliant, sunny day. Holiday decorations had already been erected in the park, while evidence of the earlier storm was obvious by way of sheered branches on many of the colourful trees. Decked out in a shirt and tie, I ate lunch in the sun that November day; witness to a strange and brilliant collision of circumstances that I knew would turn into a song.
It was an odd feeling that day. I experienced an intense feeling of not wanting to leave that particular moment. I can’t recall many other times in my life like it. I clearly remember thinking, “this has to be a song.” I even “tried” thinking of some lyric lines, to no avail. I was almost disappointed in myself that I could be in an environment so rich with visual poetry and yet still not have any song lyrics come to mind.
So I did all I could. I soaked in as much as I could and then went back to my car and wrote down all the observations I could muster. I jotted as many recollections as I could.
For weeks, nothing happened with it, though I refused to let go of the idea of the song. Then one day I was noodling around with my acoustic guitar and some pre-programmed drum tracks when I started playing a jangly little guitar line that was (and is) nothing more than a C major chord with a little bit of finger play on the D string. I liked how it sounded and felt almost right away that I’d found the musical melody for the song.
But still no words.
More weeks passed and I kept going back to that guitar line until I had the whole song mapped out with only a couple of place-holding lyric lines. One of those early phrases I would sing was “Sunny Day in November” which I liked because of the number of syllables and the natural rhythm they had to go along with the music. The trouble was I knew I’d then have to come up with another multi-syllable phrase ending with something that sounded like “ember” in order to mirror the original phrase.
I was stuck on that for a while. I first hoped that I’d come up with something I liked better than the phrase that ultimately turned out to be the title of the song. I fought myself about that for some time. I didn’t want to draw parallels to the Lighthouse hit “Sunny Days” and I also thought it was a bit of a clunky turn of phrase. And yet I still liked it.
So I waited for the rest of the song to come.
Ultimately, it was one word that opened the lyrical floodgates: surrender. Granted, if you want to get into a rhyming war, “ender” and “ember” are indeed different. But the thought of surrender intrigued me greatly and added another more meaningful level (for me) to the idea of the song.
The feeling of that November day in Victoria Park came back to me quite vividly. I thought of the warmth, the colour, the light, and how they all seemed to be coming together in one last defiant stance against the colourless cold of the oncoming winter.
I thought: here is a light that won’t surrender to the darkness, no matter how unlikely the odds.
After that, I knew I had my song. I was off to the races, and wrote out the rest of the lyrics in a matter of minutes.
Many artists do not believe in interpreting their own work. Or they do not feel that they should. Fair enough. But for me, it’s a big part of the fun. So I’m going to do it right now with the lyrics to the song. First, I’ll put the song lyrics in italics and then my thoughts on the lines, for anyone that cares to know (and if you don’t care to know … why exactly are you still reading?).
Here we go:
“Sunny Day In November”
All the ghosts have left the stage
Hallowe’en, and all the capitalistic retail-driven madness that surrounds it, has come and gone. It’s a momentary lull before the next hysteria – the Christmas rush – sets in.
Curtain call, now’s the time if you’ve got anything to say
After you’ve seen a really great show, you’ll get one last chance to show your appreciation for the performers when they come out for a curtain call. Or you can “call” a band back out for an encore. But if you like what you saw, you better applaud and soak in every last moment, because the show’s almost over. In the context of this song, you could say that the “show” was summer, and the implied freedom, light and vibrancy that goes with it. Time to give your one last round of applause before the house lights go up.
Summer’s touch slips away
Re-affirming the line before, and insinuating that something comforting has just eluded your grasp as you get set to go into a darker, colder circumstance
But for one more day, this one last day
Here’s your encore, kids. Soak it in. Lyrically, I’m not thrilled about repeating the word “day” so quickly, especially when that word is in the title of the song (and thereby coming up in the chorus). I even thought about cutting out the last part (“this one last day”) and letting the music carry the song into the chorus. Ultimately I decided that “one more” and “one last” were two very different things and it was worth making the point. In other words, you can have one more, but if it’s your last, you’ll think about it and maybe savour it a little longer.
So for all those days when the rain comes down we’ll dream of a Sunny Day in November
I struggled with this line and I’m still not sure how much I like it. I wanted to say “snow” more than “rain” but I didn’t like how it sounded. Also, I thought about it for a while and decided that rain is just as depressing – if not moreso – than snow. It’s debateable, but you can bundle up for a snowfall and feel warm and cozy almost right away after your return home. But if you’re out in a cold, rainy day, you’re going to feel soaked through and chilled to the skin and it’ll take you a while to recover. Much more depressing, I feel.
All the days are coming now, we’ll dream of a sun that won’t surrender
Winter is dreary. Daylight is in short supply. The season plays out in a series of mid tones without much colour (other than pre-manufactured holiday lights). At this point, the singer is acknowledging those late January/early February days that are still far too short and far too cold and yet still seem too far away from a return to the sun’s warmth and sustained embrace.
Shadows lurk, colours fade. Life will spin around us just the same
This line, to me, is ominous and unforgiving. It says that even as your lights are going out and things are almost at an end for you, the cruel reality is that the world will keep on turning without you. I think all of us feel this tug when we pass one of life’s mile markers. Maybe that’s why so many people are so stoic when they finally reach their end: they’ve come to grips with the inevitable truth that impermanence is a fundamental fact of life.
Does this sunny day in November shine in vain?
Now here’s a line that probably means a lot more to me than anyone else. This one phrase, in my opinion, asks a very important question in a metaphorical way. On the surface, it’s saying, “Hey, November! What’re you doing? Winter’s coming no matter why you do, dig? So why bother?” But to me, the line prompts other questions of a similar nature. For instance: when you know you’re going to lose and yet you still give every effort anyway, is your effort in vain? And is what we perceive as “losing” really a loss? Volumes have been written about those two questions alone.
A chorus grand, a season sings
Back to the good stuff now to start the second verse. To me, a “chorus” is a group of voices coming together to make a beautiful sound. The voices in the setting I was in that day were the colours, the vibrancy, the people out and about visiting, picnicking, jogging, playing guitar, bicycling. It was a chorus of soul that, to me, made the autumn sing in a way I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced. It was grand. Really a special thing to be a part of.
In sharp relief to all the monotone the coming winter brings
Everything I just described was all the more sweet knowing way lay ahead. For instance, when you have so much vibrancy in June for instance, you maybe take it a little bit for granted because you expect at least two or three months of the same thing to follow. Also, you don’t get the colour of the trees and the juxtaposition of being on Christmas’ doorstep when summer starts. I guess you could say the awareness of good fortune was heightened that day, perhaps because the spectre of impermanence loomed closer at hand.
The numbing chill, the early dark
I’m setting up the next line here. Numb, chill, dark: these are hard words. Scary even. But I’m saying that, like it or not, this is what’s coming.
Being held at bay, this one last day
So here’s your hero. This last glorious day is holding off those dark things I just mentioned, bestowing upon you a feeling of safety and fulfillment at least for the time being.
Which brings us back to the chorus and the whole point of the song: is there a point to shining in the face of certain defeat? Does this sunny day in November shine in vain?
Something else I’m very proud of with this song is the sonic quality of it. I really must tip my had to my great-good pal Kevin Gorman, who co-produced this track and layered his piano with the Hammond organ that gives me goose bumps when I hear it.
Recalling that idea of a light that won’t surrender to the darkness, no matter how unlikely the odds, I sometimes get emotional when I hear the passage in the solo when KG slides up the keys of the Hammond organ in a triumphant glissando that lands in a solid chord structure and continues on. That, to me, is an example of the music sounding how the song is supposed to feel. I don’t mind admitting to you that when the mood is right, if I am listening to that song at top volume, I want to put my fist in the air at that point in the song. I love it. I hope one day to be able to perform it with a full band with Kevin on the Hammond Organ, the full drum kit pounding home the defiance of that one day that I treasured so much and knew would turn into a song.
Which it did, eventually.
And now that you know the story behind “Sunny Day in November,” I’m offering it to you to download for FREE until the beginning of December. Just click HERE to download your copy and feel free to let me know what you think. All feedback is welcome.
Oh, and by the way: that question? Does this sunny day in November shine in vain?
Shining is never in vain.
Listen to “Sunny Day in November” by CLICKING HERE.
Well, we did it. No matter what script the future writes, I know in my heart that I set a goal, I stuck with it through thick and thin and I darn well got the job done. On June 26th, we (me, Kevin Gorman and Alyssa Sestric) did a show at the London Music Club, played songs from our new “No Schedule Man” CD, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t have copies of the darn thing to sell.
We did it.
And no one can ever take that away.
Over a year ago, KG and I set a goal and set out on the task. Bit by little bit, we inched closer to fulfilling our objective. At times, it seemed like we’d never get there. But we did. We did it. And if I may so, I feel we did a fine job, too.
It still hasn’t really sunk in yet. But we did it.
I’m proud of that.
The only trouble is that the completion of our project arrived in conjunction with the poorest health I’ve encountered in a good long while. Coincidence? Mmmm … that’s up for debate. However I’ve documented it in this blog throughout these last few months, so there’s little need to go into too much detail again, other than to remind you that there was a hospital visit at the end of May which necessitated the rescheduling of our CD release from June 12 to June 26 (which cost us scores of people, including members of my family who were planning to attend the show as originally scheduled). I then encountered a setback a few weeks ago (one week before the rescheduled CD release on June 26th) with a strep infection that required another run of antibiotics. Stupidly, I didn’t say anything about that little spell (except to my doctor) because I didn’t want to cast any doubt upon the rescheduled date either. And of course this all went along with the herniated discs in my back that have been delivering debilitating sciatic nerve pain in my left leg since the beginning of May.
Looking back, I see now that I should have shelved the CD release until at least the fall. That’s easy to see from the outside. But when you’re the one who’s dreamt of it your entire adult life, and when you’re the one who has worked at it for a year or more; and when you’re the one who has made commitments to others to get the thing done; and when you’re so close to reaching out and touching what you’ve worked for … well, you feel you should suck it up and do it.
So that’s what I did.
And I’ll be honest: I don’t know that I did the right thing.
I’m not sure I really enjoyed it as much as I should have, but I did what I said I was going to do. Perhaps it’s a flawed perspective but it matters to me, and it’s more than many people I’ve observed would have done. So for me, it counts for something.
Despite the leg and back pain, I did get through the night on the 26th. Though we made our mistakes (due to the fact that I was too sick to rehearse properly leading up to the event), I thought we played reasonably well that night. No, actually, I know we did really well. I’m exceptionally proud of KG and Alyssa, who joined me on stage.
And, yeah, I’ll say it: I’m proud of myself too.
This has been a great learning experience. Many people have been telling me to “slow down.” I thought I was doing that when I cut out my 5-day-a-week radio job on BX 93 back in February. Turns out I need to cut back some more.
When it comes to people telling me to “slow down,” I have found that my true friends say it and mean it, no matter whether it affects them or not. And then there are others who tell me to take care of myself out of one side of their mouth and then immediately ask me for something out of the other side. In fact, there’s one person in particular who I thought was my friend, and he left me five desperate-sounding voice messages on my cell phone at a time when he knew I’d been taken to the hospital. Funny thing was that I busted my butt to help him as soon as I got out of the hospital. And what I got for my trouble was prolonged ill health and more demands from that same person.
It’s my own fault. I take full responsibility. And I will correct it. But I also know from experience that, people like that; you really can’t help them. It’s upsetting, but you have to take your lumps and move on. The alternative is to never trust anyone again, and I fundamentally don’t believe in that.
It’s a shame, but it’s also the reason why songs like “Do Better” and “Awake (But Not Alive)” come to life. And when you hear my rock songs (maybe some time in the next year or two), well … I’ll just say that it’s been good therapy for working through some relationships with people who are convinced they know better.
All that aside, the fact remains that those close to me are correct. I do need to slow down. I’ve been trying. I have cut out most of my music-related efforts until such time as I can feel well again. I’ve slowed my pace somewhat with my company, CPT Entertainment, and have found my business partners to be entirely supportive. I’ve been going to physiotherapy every other day for the last couple of weeks and as a result I’m noticing incremental improvements in my leg/butt/back pain. And after weeks of being awake all night and finding what little sleep I could manage on the family room couch with my feet on a nearby end table, I have finally arrived at the point where I can manage a few hours’ sleep in my own bed. That alone has made an incredible difference in my sense of well being.
And so here I am, at the end of the journey to complete a CD of original songs. I did it. There’s a whole pile of them sitting in the corner of my office, about ten feet away as I type this. And yet here I am: physically broken down and mentally worn out from all that I’ve done. I acknowledge victory in getting the CD done but I have also, reluctantly, conceded defeat in terms of how I feel.
But I will correct it.
In fact, I believe the whole situation to be healthy. My feeling is that I am now paying for far too many years of running too hard, trying to fulfill unrealistic expectations that I had set for myself, and listening too much to the people who tell me one thing but mean another. Ultimately, it’s all my responsibility. And I will fix it.
As for the CD, I’m now at the end of the first part of the journey. And as such, this will be the final entry in a year’s worth of what I’ve called “recording journals.” There hasn’t been any “recording” in quite some time. I’ll keep entering a journal, as I’ve come to enjoy and value the experience, however I’m not going to promise that I’ll deliver one every week. Silly as it sounds, I’ve learned that the only person that expectation matters to is me. So I’ll submit more notes down the road. But I’m not sure what they will be called or when they will arrive. But they will arrive when the time is right.
Whenever that is.
The next logical step is promotion and performance of the songs on the CD. And I’m excited about that part of it. But I also realize that it’s now time to back away from it before I get going on part two of this adventure. The first priority is to get well. After that, I’ll put together a plan and get back out to where I might find some people willing to listen. Until then … who knows.
In closing, I will say that for the most part, I’m very pleased with the CD. There are songs I wish we could tweak some more, but I’m not going to tell you which ones they are. However I will tell you which songs I feel turned out the best compared to my original vision: “Sunny Day in November,” “Bagley Avenue” and “Kevin’s Prayer.” I’m really happy with those three numbers. I am also extraordinarily proud of “Song for Sean,” but for different reasons which you may have already read about. If not, go back a few months in this journal and you’ll find the stories, along with the reason for the “Celebrating Hope” campaign, which is also waiting in the wings, ready to go whenever I am.
And so ends another adventure. And what an adventure it’s been. I am so entirely grateful to Kevin Gorman for sharing his time and talents, and for all the people who contributed in some small way to helping me achieve my dream of completing the “No Schedule Man” CD. I did it and now I will always have it. Forever.
In the end, ironically, I realize that I really could stand to learn from the main character that I created in the CD’s title track. The truth is that “No Schedule Man” and I are complete opposites. And although he is a creation of my imagination, I also envy him and aspire to be more like him. I wonder: how is it possible that you can create something totally unlike yourself and then want to learn from your own thoughts?
Strange, isn’t it?
I just have to keep reminding myself: no plan is all part of the plan. I’ll get there when I get there, if I get there at all.
All day, all play.
Sound advice. I think I’ll take it.
Thank you for reading. See you on the road … whenever I get there.
Is this it?
One year ago, we started work on a CD I hoped to call “No Schedule Man.” We’ve been through break-ins, hospital stays, equipment failures and all sorts of other challenges, including the re-scheduling of the CD release show because of some of what I just mentioned. And now, as I write this, we’re standing just a few steps away from the end of the tunnel, with the CD set to arrive later this week and the show scheduled for 6 days from now at the London Music Club.
So this is it, huh?
Of course, I understand that this means far more to me than anyone else. Completing and sharing a collection of my own songs has been a goal of mine my entire adult life. To think that the time has almost arrived is humbling and even a little bit disorienting. I understand that the real work begins only after we put the CD out: no one is going to care about it unless we go and share the music with people that have never heard it before. So far, friends and family have given me wonderful support and encouragement and I am grateful beyond words. But just like anything else, if you want to expand your fan base and market share, you’ve got to go out to where the people are and do the hardest work of all: make a good-enough impression that they might remember you, and maybe even ask you to come back and/or listen to your songs again.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with this music over the next year or two, because I won’t be “touring” per se. Music is what I love most, but it’s not my job and, frankly, I don’t want it to be. I would like to become known as a songwriter and, ten years from now, I’d love to be able to afford to spend my time creating and collaborating more often than I do now. So for the time being, I’ll have to try to be content to do shows at little clubs around Ontario as much as we can without going too hard, and also looking for opportunities to support other artists with an opening set or something like that. I’d also love to get to the point where I could play some festivals and go see some places around Canada I’ve never visited before. But that’ll come with time.
Meantime, when we do release the CD this weekend, it will look like I’m contradicting everything I just said because we are coming out guns a-blazing. The CD, t-shirts, hats, magnets, notepads, bracelets and more will all be available from a customized, fully-themed merchandise area at our shows. A short time later, the CD will be available through online retailers around the world, and the merchandise will be for sale online too, through CPT Entertainment Inc.
On top of all of that, we are set to launch a fund and awareness-raising campaign for Hospice of London called “Celebrating Hope” in memory of Sean and Cindy Alward. I believe I’m just as proud of that as I am of completing the CD. Maybe more so. More information about that partnership will be shared early this coming week.
I am very confident that the more shows we do, the more we’ll give people a really nice evening of music. Kevin Gorman and I have the ability to showcase quite a lot of versatility on stage, and I believe our chemistry, vocal harmonies and range of sounds gives us an edge. When you add Alyssa Sestric into the mix, we can really throw a lot at you, and Alyssa is going to do as many shows with us as she can (that’ll not only give her more experience, but it will provide a chance for her to showcase some of her own songs too, and she is a very talented songwriter). When we do the CD release show, we’ll be a little rusty. You’re never perfect right out of the gates. The difference in me now as opposed to even just a few years ago is that I’m okay with that. As long as the tone of the show as a whole comes off the way we want it, we’ll laugh at whatever else may get in the way.
After all, having been through hospital stays, robberies, computer failures and the like and still getting the job done, I hardly think a few mistakes in our live show will register on the radar screen.
Right now, I’ll be happy just to get there, as I’m writing this while I’m sitting in bed, trying to recover from what seems to be a slight reoccurrence of the illness that set me back a few weeks ago. Or maybe it’s just side effects from the useless drugs my doctor gave me earlier this week to help deal with my back and leg pain and help me sleep. Or maybe it’s from navigating through yet another calamitous week.
Or maybe all of the above.
But that’s another story for another day.
Hello from the floor of my living room. Having received some advice from my physiotherapist (as we work to improve the herniated disc in my lower back), I am typing this journal while lying flat on the floor, stomach to the ground, chin on a pillow and hands out in front of me to reach the computer. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But it puts the least amount of pressure on my damaged disc, so I’ll deal with it.
Speaking of discs, we’re only 2 weeks away from releasing ours. I sure wish I had it ready. Instead, we are biting our nails as we’ve had a computer failure at the studio that has set back KG’s plans to do the final mixing and mastering this weekend. Truly, just about everything else (except my back) is ready to go.
We just need the bloody songs done!
You may remember that today was to be the original release date of the “No Schedule Man” CD. But my recent hospital visit set us back. In my mind, the CD should have been long completed by now. But it’s never that simple. I guess we set deadlines for a reason, and that’s so we can go right up to them. Without deadlines and goal-setting, perhaps we’d never get anything done. Still, it’s frustrating.
You should have a couple weeks (ideally) turn-around time to have the disc duplicated up in Toronto. The artwork for the CD itself is already there and waiting. The CD inserts/cover, etc, have been approved and printed. The first run of souvenir t-shirts and hats and such have been ordered. The merchandise display has been built.
But we’re still waiting for the songs.
14 days left.
I debated whether to write about this or not. I don’t want to appear negative in any respect. However, I promised that I’d write a realistic account of what goes into preparing a project like this, and what’s happening (err, not happening) right now is about as real as it gets.
There’s another reason why I chose to write about it, and that is the fact that I know we’ll be ready, one way or the other, come June 26th. I’ve been through situations like this many times before in my professional life. And I’ve learned that when you encounter these unforeseen setbacks, you must press on, keep a positive attitude and remind yourself that every “problem” is really just a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is obvious. I am trying to keep myself open to recognize and pick up on the opportunity.
We’ll find it.
I’ll site two of my favourite pop culture examples that have helped me learn:
Example 1. In the film “Back to the Future Part 3,” Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) has the time machine DeLorean at an old drive-in theatre. He needs to get the car up to 88 mph so that he can be transported back in time to save his friend. But in the path of his proposed travel is a wall with cowboys and Indians painted on it. He recognizes the fact and protests to his scientist buddy, Doc Brown, that if he drives straight for the wall, he’ll run into the (painted) Indians.
Doc Brown says: “Marty, you’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally. You’ll instantly be transported to 1885 and those Indians (wall) won’t even be there.”
I think of that scene often as I prepare for an event. I like to think “fourth dimensionally.” We may not be ready now, but as long as things are in place by the time we hit 88 mph (June 26), we’ll be all right.
The wall won’t even be there.
Example 2. One of my favourite books is “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. I open it often and re-read passages I’ve marked with yellow highlighter.
In that book, an old man finds himself on the ocean with little more than a small boat and a fishing line he has in his hands. He ends up hooking a large fish; too large for him to be handling with his meagre provisions, really. He recognizes the opportunity (and the challenge) and desperately wants to land the great fish, but he’s struggling.
Next comes a line I often repeat to myself. The old man thinks, “What I’ll do if he (the fish) sounds and dies, I don’t know. But I’ll do something. There are plenty of things I can do.”
There are plenty of things I can do.
Try to remember that the next time you get tossed a curveball. There are always options. It’s just that some are more appealing than others. But you always have a choice.
Meantime, I’ve got all this other great stuff happening, including a support program based around my music that will honour some people very close to my heart and will help a very worthwhile community group help other people. We met this week and agreed to work together and I’m just so very excited about it. We should be announcing that program this coming week.
Our rehearsals are sounding better and better so I know it’s going to be a good show when we land at the London Music Club two weeks from tonight.
I’m thrilled with the merchandise display that my friend Howie built for me. I’m happy with how the merchandise is looking. I’m ecstatic to see the graphic design of some of my song concepts coming to live. I love the way the CD artwork looks.
All I need now are the songs.
So as I finish up, lying on my stomach because I can’t stand for long or walk far without the help of a cane, I think again about this computer-related headache we’ve been presented with, and how we’re going to have to find a way around it here at the eleventh hour. And in so doing, I’m reminded of another one of my favourite lines, from Jimmy Buffett’s book “A Salty Piece of Land.”
It says: “There’s a strange sense of pleasure being beat to hell by a storm when you’re on a ship that is not going to sink.”
Sail on, sailor.
If was the kind of person that thrived on sympathy, I’d have been in heaven these past few days. But I don’t want sympathy.
I want to be a part of the action.
Which is why I bought a cane and hauled my busted-up body out to the race track this past weekend.
I have learned that you have to have a pretty strong sense of self if you’re going to go to a stock-car racing track with a cane when you’re only in your mid-thirties. When you do that, you get one of two reactions: 1) sympathy 2) serious razzing.
Actually, both were kind of fun. And people have been exceptionally kind to me and I am grateful.
If you want to know what the sympathy and the cane are for, please read last week’s journal entry. As for the razzing, it was pretty funny: “What the heck!? Here comes Bulmer with his sympathy stick!” All sorts of ribbing.
I’m just over seven days removed from a four-day hospital visit. I managed to rest myself enough to improve slightly every day over the last week and meet all my obligations at the same time. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and I don’t mind telling you that I’m proud of myself.
My team from CPT Entertainment had a big role in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race that ran at Delaware Speedway last night. Ours is behind-the-scenes kind of work, but it’s important. And you need to know what you’re doing. We do. Though I wear out quickly with this herniated disc in my back, I wasn’t going to miss the race last night or anything leading into it.
And I didn’t.
On top of that, we managed to mash the throttle in preparation for our “No Schedule Man” CD release too.
Earlier this week, I was able to collaborate with Angela from “Distinct Impression” graphic design as we worked on a number of things for some music-related merchandise. I’m pleased with the results and excited to move forward. Angela does great work and she and I seem to be on the same page. That’s rare, and also a lot of fun.
I met with my favourite promotional products company this week as well, and we picked out some hats and shirts and other items that we’re going to turn into merchandise. We’ll order that this coming week.
Of course, I’m not going to just sit my CDs, shirts and hats out on any plain old table, so I’ve also been thinking full-steam about a themed merchandise sales area called the “No Schedule Man Trading Co.” Luckily, one of my best pals has a brother who is ridiculously talented with things like that. Luckier yet, said brother also is a friend of mine and happens to be willing to help me out. After having discussed it a few times, he and I met this morning and purchased some material and so the construction is now underway.
I met with my favourite print company, Middlesex Printing here in London, earlier this week. There, I was able to – finally – submit the artwork for the CD insert, cover, etc. It should go to print this coming week. I will be very proud to have it printed there, where my friends Terry, Jody, Kathy and Cynthia have encouraged me for many years.
And speaking of the artwork, constructing it has been a collaborative effort between me, my buddy and business partner at CPT Entertainment, Jeff Graham, and my mother (who took some photographs). Jeff has done a wonderful job (as always) and I’m glad to have had his hands in the projecet.
If you’ve been following along with this journal, you’ll remember that I had some promotional photos taken a couple of months ago and as part of that process I visited “Joe Kool’s,” my favourite local restaurant. It so happened that I was back there this past week, visiting with my great good friend Jimmy, and while we were there we were greeted by Mike Smith, the owner of the place. I told Mike that one of the CD artwork panels was going to consist of a colour photo of me outside his restaurant and he seemed genuinely pleased. That was cool. I’m going to frame a copy and bring it to him in a few more weeks.
I also had the pleasure of visiting my buddy and music producer, Kevin Gorman, this past Tuesday night. At that time, he played me some of the songs that he’d been working on while I was cooped up in the hospital. The song I wanted to hear most was “Kevin’s Prayer.” Well, let me tell you: when he played that song for me, the hair stood up on my arms and neck. Darn near moved me to tears. The song sounds almost exactly how I was hoping it would. And friends, that almost never happens.
Now that I’m feeling a little better, we are going to pick back up with rehearsals tomorrow night.
In a couple more days, I have a meeting with a highly respected community group. We are gathering to discuss and fund-and-awareness-raising campaign based around my music. I will be thrilled if we can bring that together and I am able to help a worthwhile organization, even in some small way, through the presentation of my songs. I hope very much to have some news to report to you on that front next week.
Aside from all of that, I confess that I am my own worst enemy. While we are in the final stages of post production for the acoustic-driven “No Schedule Man” CD, I have been spending whatever little creative thinking time I can find on my rock material. I’m very excited about it and I plan to do it next. In fact, I’ve already discussed with KG that I want to be recording the rock record while we tour in support of “No Schedule Man.” Truth be told, the rock project has had a name for over three years. So it’s not a surprise. And I’m ready to do it. Soon.
But we’ll see.
We’ll get there when we get there. Just like the song says.
This past week was one I’ll not soon forget. And if you go back and read the last few weeks’ worth of journals, I suppose you could argue that you could see this coming.
As you may know, I’ve been managing through some vicious left leg/butt pain for the entire month of May. Last Saturday (May 22), I actually felt as though I was coming out of it. Working at Delaware Speedway, I was getting around better than I had all month. My left calf muscle felt cramped, but my leg felt more functional. I was getting up and down the grandstands just fine.
When I felt sore again on Sunday and Monday, I was disappointed but not surprised. Monday was a holiday here in Ontario and I wanted to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. I started by mowing the front lawn for the first time this year, dragging my left leg around like Igor and catching my breath every few moments when the pain would strike. But I got it done.
In the afternoon, I took my boys to play mini golf and though I didn’t play, I limped along as best I could and completely enjoyed watching them. The best part was after we returned their putters. We bought a couple of slushies and sat out on the patio, under the shade of a tree, and just enjoyed each other’s company. Funny faces were made. Laughs were had. Good times all around. Yes, my leg was hurting but I was happy and content nonetheless.
I later went to KG Records for a rehearsal with Kev and Alyssa. Though I was hurting, I managed to find a place in a chair that felt okay, and we went through a mix of our own songs and some cover material to add into our show. The results were predictably rocky (because we’re just getting started with the rehearsals) but very encouraging. Alyssa sings beautifully. Kevin’s playing is incredible. And though I’m the least talented, performance-wise, of the three of us, I believe my passion and sincerity propels the songs forward. We have a good mix. It was an encouraging session.
The down side was that I was completely exhausted after the rehearsal. Upon returning home, I still had to collect and take out the garbage, a task that darn near killed me. By that time I was in a lot of pain and, looking back now, I should have been able to see that something was wrong. I was too tired and irritable.
After I finished the chore, I laid on the couch for a while to rest my leg and gain back some steam. Following that, I cooked myself some late dinner and it was then that I noticed my neck and jaw starting to ache and feel a little swollen. I decided not to think much about it and went off to bed a short time later.
That’s when the wheels came off.
I awoke around 1:30 a.m. with pain all over my body. I couldn’t turn my neck or nod my head. Any movement shot vicious pain through my leg. But I was too weak to move myself around with my arms. I felt nauseous. I was freezing cold; shaking and chattering my teeth uncontrollably yet sweating all over the place at the same time. My wife Tracey was scared at what she found when I woke her up. I’m still not sure how we got through the rest of the night, but I remember her bringing me some Tylenol and that I somehow got back to sleep.
When I woke later that morning, I knew I was in trouble. I just didn’t know how bad it was going to be. By mid-morning, I’d called my family doctor and made an appointment for 2:00 that afternoon.
I couldn’t stand or walk let alone drive, so my hero of heroes, Wray “Big Dog” Ramsay (my father-in-law) came back from work to take me to the doctor. Funny, we’ve each done that for the other a couple of times. There’s little better than being able to count on family.
When we arrived at my doctor’s office, I needed a wheelchair to get into the place. They looked at me and decided quickly that I needed to be at the hospital. They sent us off to Emergency with the benefit of a call to let them know I was coming.
Poor Wray. I tossed my cookies on the way. I had a container to spit it into, but it still can’t have been nice, trying to drive while I was next to him, throwing up. At least I’d not eaten anything that day so it was all water. In fact, now that I think about it, the whole thing is kind of funny.
Me: “Blleeeearrrgghhhh! Wray … [huff-puff-huff] … I’m sooo sorry. Bleeeeauuuuuuughhh!”
Wray: “That’s, um, okay. Maybe you can dump that out the window.”
I did so, probably to the dismay of the motorists beside and behind us.
Me: “I’m so sorry Wray. I think I got it all in this container thing – blaaaaaafarrgghh!”
Wray: “Don’t worry about it! Don’t worry about it!”
We arrived at the ER and Wray went right in, retuning moments later with a staff member equipped with a wheelchair. They set me directly inside, put a mask on me, asked me a few questions and before I knew which way was up, I was in an “isolation room.”
I now know that their main concern, given my symptoms, was that I might have had meningitis.
I was soon swarmed by various hospital people. Blood was taken. An IV was put in (which was later relocated two more times). Questions were asked. And asked again. And again. I was just trying not to throw up.
The doctors were initially confused by the situation. They weren’t sure whether or not the issues were related. Matters were made worse when they saw the eczema on certain parts of my skin. It’s something I’ve battled my entire life, but they didn’t know that and so they began to worry about it as well. I kept telling them, “That’s not why I here.” They kept telling me it didn’t matter, that they were concerned about it anyway.
After a few hours, they decided to give me a “lumbar puncture,” which is about as much fun as it sounds. It’s a three-inch needle into your spine, designed to go through the disc and draw out spinal fluid to determine whether or not there is an infection.
They gave me freezing shots in my back, but not enough. I told them I could still feel everything, so they gave me more (but only after I spoke up). The doctors argued about how the procedure should be done. I wanted to tell them to take their arguing into the hallway and come back when they were sure, but I was still trying not to puke.
At first I was on my side, curled into the fetal position to stretch out my back. It hurt my leg to be like that, but I could deal with it. So they went on with the procedure … and screwed it up. They put the needle in very slowly. You can’t really feel it but you know it’s there and you can feel the pressure. And I truly did feel it when the needle clearly hit a spot it was not suppose to hit, shooting immediate pain through my spine like I’ve never felt before. I yelped. Everyone in the room yelped in response. And they yanked out the needle.
They waited a few minutes and then decided to try again. This time they sat me up, my legs dangling over the edge of the bed and my arms hanging over a tray table. The position hurt my left leg quite a lot. I told them so. They didn’t seem to care. Into my back went three more freezing needles. Then in went the three-inch needle, for the second time.
My left leg was screaming in pain. I told them. They told me not to move. I told them, “I don’t care what you tell me not to do. I’m telling you the pain in my leg is killing me. I don’t care about the needle in my back. I can’t keep sitting like this!”
Their solution was to shoot me with morphine (in my right arm) at the same time as the needle was in my back. It did not help.
I breathed my way through it and we got it done. I’m not sure how to describe the leg pain other than to imagine the worst cramp you’ve ever had and multiply it several times. Or, imagine having a three-inch needle in your spine and not caring because your leg hurts so much. A horrible feeling.
A short time later I was taken for hip and chest x-rays, and then sent back into my isolation room, a concrete tomb with bright lights but no clock. No one was allowed in to see me unless they’d gone into a “pre-entry” room where they put on a mask, gloves and full-body gown (like a trench coat made of a giant yellow translucent hair net).
Bless his heart, Wray stayed for hours, knowing little about my condition and having no company at all in the waiting room. Eventually he came in to tell me they were going to keep me overnight and so he was going home. This was around 9:00 or 9:30 p.m.
I was told later that my sweet Tracey, who was at her parent’s place with our boys, was horrified when her dad returned home with nothing more than my shoes in his car. “Where’s Kevin?!” she gasped. And then reality started to sink in for her that it might be a bit of a rough week. Poor Tracey.
Back in the ER, a nurse was attending to me every few minutes, changing IV bags, taking blood, checking my blood pressure and taking my temperature. They could not get my fever down.
Funny, a couple things I’m just remembering from that time: I was begging for water. I had been left alone for a while and my mouth was drier than I could ever remember. I knew they were worried about my nausea but I was desperate for a drink of water. I didn’t know if they could hear me but I began pleading, “Please! Someone … water! Please! Water!”
Eventually they brought me a tiny sip. I asked for more. They told me I could have more in a half hour. And when that time came, I was right on top of it and made them bring me more.
Hours later, they’d seen I’d not ralfed-up the water so I suppose they figured my stomach was settling. They’d done their needlepoint on my back and taken the blood and all of that, so I asked the nurse if I could please have something to eat. She brought me a turkey “sandwich.” It was two pieces of white bread with two thin slices of turkey-like meat inside. And that’s it. She brought me a little packet of Miracle Whip, so I drowned the sandwich with it and began to chew. From that experience, I remember two things:
1 – It hurt to chew because my jaw was so sore
2 – It tasted like the best thing I’d ever eaten
Funny how your priorities change when you’re down-and-out. Water became the sweetest drink. And a dry and barren hospital-issue turkey sandwich became a delicacy. I was just that tired and desperate.
A little while later, without any warning, they whisked me away to another part of the facility and dumped me into a room that would become my home for the next three and a half days. I was too zonked out to notice and appreciate that it was a private room. For that I was embarrassingly fortunate. But I do remember thinking, “Wow, this bed is way more comfortable than the emergency room gurney.” I didn’t feel too rosy about that bed for long though.
I struggled through the night, trying to feel comfortable, sleeping little. I napped for a couple of half-hour stretches between 5:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., when they brought me breakfast. I remember being very glad that they’d brought coffee and 2% milk, exactly what I like at home. Of course, the coffee was horrid but it was hot and I was glad for it. The rest of the food was brutal but I ate what I could.
Later that morning, I got to speak with my wife for the first time since leaving the house the day before. I found out she’d been calling the hospital constantly, trying to find out what was going on. Ironically, she knew more than I did and I was there!
I later rented three days’ worth of phone usage ($8.08) and they hooked up a giant white phone that looked like it had come off a decommissioned submarine or something. Still, that phone was my lifeline for the next few days.
I don’t remember much else about the first day except that it consisted of trying to stay comfortable and staring at the walls, as I didn’t have so much as a book or magazine to keep me occupied. What I do remember is that my face and neck swelled up to a hideous extent. I got a look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and was shocked. It became even worse the next day but began to correct itself after they took me off the general IV fluids, leaving the tube in solely for direct delivery of the antibiotics.
Through my blood work, the doctors were able to determine that I was male, 36 years old, from London Ontario. They found that I loved to read, cheer for the Detroit Tigers and that I had some kind of nasty infection of unknown origin. My white blood cell count was way down (or up – whichever one is bad).
They didn’t know what was the cause of my leg pain so they ordered an MRI, which was done on Thursday night.
Now let me tell you about the MRI: it sounds like something slick and cool that professional athletes visit all the time. In reality, it is a claustrophobic’s nightmare than rattles and bangs for 45 minutes while managing to scare the daylights out of you the entire time. You are strapped to a stretcher (they even taped my feet together) and told not to move again for three quarters of an hour. Hands across your chest, you’re then shoved into a tube barely bigger than the size of your own body. No moving. No escape. And no space.
But, I decided, it was all for the best. So I closed my eyes as soon as they started to put me inside the machine and I used every bit of mental willpower I’ve ever had to keep my eyes shut until after they brought me back out. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to look and see just how tight the space was so I could describe it more vividly later on. But I knew better. I knew that if I looked, I would panic. But I did not. I was proud of myself.
I also was given and ultrasound test on my left leg to rule out blood clots or an abscess.
On Friday, I improved a great deal and was entirely frustrated to not get so much as a phone call or message relayed through the nurses on behalf of the doctors. They never came to visit and they never told me what was up. My family members were in a panic, wondering what the MRI would show. But on Saturday morning, I found out it was a herniated disc. I could go home with a prescription of antibiotics and the promise to take it easy and to continue to try and strengthen my back after I was better. Needless to say, I was relieved beyond words and thrilled at the prospect of returning home.
Before I go any further I want to share with you just how completely grateful I am to the nursing staff at that hospital. For three days, a male nurse named Ed became my closest friend and confidant. At first I thought he was a little aloof and absent-minded, perhaps too much so for his own good. But we quickly grew to have a good chemistry in terms of our communication and his personality traits that initially worried me became part of his charm. Go ahead and make whatever joke you want about me being cared for by a male nurse. I don’t care. I am so entirely grateful to Ed and I will be until the day I die.
A team of female nurses were just a great to me. It’s just that I only saw one of them – Nancy – more than once, so Ed sticks out in my mind more because we shared so much time together. Working the overnight shift, a nurse named Catherine was completely kind and compassionate to me while I suffered through my worst night in the joint. She tried everything she could to make me comfortable and was far more patient than I could have asked.
Another Kathy looked after me my last night there. She and I didn’t interact too much because I’d figured out the routine by that time and was improving. I didn’t need as much attention. Still, she was very kind and I could tell that she and I would have gotten along swimmingly if we’d shared more time together.
And then there was Nancy, who I mentioned before. She looked after me overnight on Thursday night and I was sorry to see her go. She had a quick wit and a sort of “don’t mess with me” kind of charm that was really just an act; she was exceedingly kind, compassionate and efficient. In fact, Nancy’s reappearance gave me a boost when I needed it most.
Friday night, I went to bed not knowing when I might ever get out of there, but also knowing that Ed was not going to be back on Saturday. That made the thought of staying even less appealing, having to come up with a whole new routine with another nurse. But when I awoke from my three-hour sleep on Saturday morning, there was Nancy, turned around from a night shift Thursday night to a day shift on Saturday. She doesn’t know this, but I was elated to see her. At that time, I was frustrated and angry that the doctors had not been around to see me the day before. I wanted to go home worse than ever. But when I saw that Nancy was there for the day, I thought, “Okay. I still want out of here, but I can deal with it with her around.” I intend that as a very high compliment to her.
I wonder if those people realize how much of a positive impact they have on people’s lives in such a short amount of time?
In any event, my sweet Tracey arrived with my boys to get me shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. I finished my last bag of antibiotics through my IV, Nancy removed the needle from my arm and we were on our way. Funny, for just a moment it felt bittersweet to leave. I’d been ill and these people made me well again. I was confined to one room for several days, but I was lucky to have it and everything in it served me well. As I prepared to leave, I experienced an overwhelming rush of gratitude for all that had helped me through the challenge. I found Nancy at the nurse’s station, gave her a somewhat awkward hug (I don’t think she’s used to that) and hobbled off behind my loving family.
Before I forget, I just want to right down a few random remembrances from the hospital stay. I admit this is purely for my own benefit. I want to be able to remember these things and chuckle when I am old and gray. Here goes:
- When I arrived, I was in such pain that the nurses could not get my shirt off (so that they could put me in a hospital gown). They asked me if they could cut the shirt off. Trouble was I had my Detroit Tigers no. 54 Joel Zumaya t-shirt on. I told them, “I don’t care how much I scream from the neck and jaw pain, but you get that shirt off of me. Do not cut my Joel Zumaya shirt.” Haha. Juvenile, yes. But I still have my Zumaya shirt.
- One of the things Tracey brought me to help cope was our mini DVD player. During the course of my stay, I watched the “Making of” the original Battlestar Galactic, the first two episodes of “Nash Bridges” and an episode of “Due South.”
- The book I was reading through my stay – “Hell’s Aquarium” by Steve Alten – got soaked when one of the nurses left an ice pack on it. I’m still not finished it, but the book is still readable, even though it’s still a little soggy in a few spots.
- There are no cell phones allowed in the hospital. But they had several free wireless internet feeds available. So I asked Tracey to bring me TWIKI, my Blackberry. I never made or received a call, but I was able to check email and Facebook (which I only did through the wireless network). I’m still not sure I should have had TWIKI there, but I am so glad I did. He was my connection to the rest of the world. In some cases, I sent out Facebook messages in the middle of the night just to try and keep me sane. I was careful only to use TWIKI when no one was looking.
- The first full day I was there, Ed the nurse was on my case a little about showering and shaving. I hadn’t shaved since Saturday, so by Wednesday I was looking a little like one of the guys from ZZ Top. I was still very sore and didn’t bother until the next day, which made Ed happy to no end. It was funny to me that he cared so much that I looked clean and tidy.
- When they were putting the “lumbar puncture” needle in my back, after they’d screwed up the first time, they got to a certain point and said, “Good. We’re done.” I asked, “You’re done?” They responded with, “Yes, we’re done.” Seeing as my leg was in total agony, I began to straighten up to gain some leg relief. The doctors screamed at me, especially the lady doctor who had been irritated with me before. She yelled, “Kevin! What are you doing! Don’t! Move!” I said, “I thought you said we were done?!” She said, “I meant that the needle is all the way in. I still have to take the sample and pull it out. Sheesh. Be STILL!” Nice, huh? I said, “Gee, I’m sorry. I took ‘we’re done’ to mean that – I don’t know – we were DONE!” That doctor and I will not be exchanging Christmas cards. Our relationship is done. By that I mean finished. Completed.
- People that visited me: Tracey, Eddie and Jaden; my Dad and Stepmom, Barb; my business partners Jeff and Dave; my good buddies Kevin “KG” Gorman, Ken Alward, Derek Botten, Lisa Brandt and Rob Sharpe. My father-in-law, the “Big Dog” got me there in the first place and stayed with me in the toughest part, the very beginning. And I am so grateful to the countless people who called and emailed their support.
- A rough needle-count estimate: Three placements of the IV; at least 6 blood samples; 6 shots of morphine; 4 shots of blood thinner (two of them in the stomach); 6 shots of freezing fluid in my back and 2 “lumbar puncture” 3-inch needles. That’s 27 needles in 4 days, and I’m not sure: I may be forgetting a few. But 27 is enough.
So now that I’m home, what of our CD project and everything else? Well, KG was working on the CD while I was cooped up. However, going into this week we were balancing on the razor’s edge with a number of behind-the-scenes issues. We are now behind. I’ve already looked into several scenarios but priority number one is to get well for another long haul. I’ll see what I can figure out in the next couple days, but we already know this about the No Schedule Man:
He gets there when he gets there.
If he gets there at all.