Monday, February 19, 2018

Crazy Sh*t

At 9:15 one recent morning, while sitting on the toilet (where writing ideas seem to pop out), I silently and reluctantly admitted to myself that in some ways I’m tired of my job. I love my job, but I’m burned out on the quantity and constantly frustrated by the multi-person scrutiny of much of what I do.

Problem: I’m not in a position financially to leave this job. Psychologically too, because some of my ego and identity is tangled up with career.

However, like I mentioned, I love my job. That definitely complicates this line of thinking.

I’m at the top of my game. I get regular praise for some parts of my work and my confidence level is pretty high. I know my weaknesses as well as my strengths and I rarely assume I know it all. I’m always ready to learn new things and I’m fairly open to change.

Hooray for me.

The search for purpose and meaning in life is a common characteristic of boomers. Many of us hit our ‘coming if age’ point back during the ‘age of Aquarius’. Idealism, dreaming the impossible dreams and expecting to live those dreams were often part of our sociological DNA.

Boomers were often ambitious dreamers who thought up some crazy shit, then made it happen. I’m writing this essay on my phone. Go back in time to 1968 and tell somebody you’re writing an essay on a phone and they’ll say you’re crazy.

So every day at work I willingly and happily write scripts that showcase the excitement of being in a crowd at a Luke Bryan or Keith Urban concert, obsess over which song clips in my promo commercial will motivate fans to spend crazy amounts of money to be in that crowd and second-guess myself as I edit those things together in a way that will lead the listener to keep listening to my radio station for a chance to win free tickets to those shows and meet the singers.

I high-five myself when one of those promos sounds great and I thank God that I actually get paid to do this stuff. Then sometimes I wonder what propose or meaning there is in making the perfect edit between “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind Of Night”.

I’m happy if I can successfully create that audio image and I try to visualize the joy on a fan’s face as they meet Keith or Luke.  I try to remember that one perk of my job is that I have met Keith and Luke. And Brad, Toby, Blake, Miranda, Jason.

So why am I whining about my job?  It’s an awesome job and I’m lucky to have it. But is there propose or meaning in it? There are people in my county and country experiencing homelessness, domestic abuse, gun violence, cancer. Am I helping them by obsessing over audio edits for 40, 50, 60 hours a week?

Is there a better, more meaningful way to spend my time?  Have I earned the right to retire? Can I live on part time pay? Am I not realizing that making those audio pieces might actually be improving somebody’s life, maybe entertaining them a little, giving them hope that they might get to go to a concert that they otherwise couldn’t afford to go to?

This is some crazy shit to think about. The setting that started this line of thought that day is nuts too. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Boomer Bucket List


Have you ever made a bucket list? The concept is to make a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket” (die).

Most bucket lists seem to include crazy, once-in-a-lifetime activities that people keep putting off because daily life gets in the way. Skydiving seems to be on many lists; NOT on mine, by the way.

As we get past 50 years old, we can psychologically see the end. We’re at the 50-yard line and see the end zone. We see a light at the end of the tunnel (and hope it isn’t a train). Ok, no more analogies.

Time takes forever as a teen, but speeds along as an older boomer. We are running out of time to do those things we put off doing.

I’ve been very fortunate to have already done many things that might otherwise be on my bucket list. A partial list: see an Atlantic Ocean sunrise (many times), a Pacific Ocean sunset (once), swim in the Gulf of Mexico, photograph a moonrise, see the Grand Canyon, catch the view from the top of the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower, fly in a hot air balloon and a helicopter.

A career bucket list item from my youth was to host a nighttime music and entertainment radio show heard in many states. I did one better: hosted a show heard in 50 countries.

I’ve lived in many cities, owned several interesting cars, loved some unique women, held a variety of jobs, met many famous people.

Any time I think my life has been boring, I try to remember that despite my relatively calm, reserved personality, I’ve had a pretty exciting life, so far.

I truly believe there is more to come. There are things I still want to do, personally and professionally. I do have a bucket list. My challenge is overcoming some complacency - ok, more accurately, some laziness.

One of my favorite movie lines is: “get busy living or get busy dying.”  Maybe that should be my mantra for this year. Yours too, if you think along these lines.

Some random items on my latest bucket list:  learn Italian, visit Italy, revisit the Grand Canyon, host a tv show, publish a book, interview an astronaut, witness a rocket launch, take a cross-country train trip, meet Garth Brooks and tell him how his music helped change my career, marry again but get it right this time, take a month-long cross-country road trip, turn this blog into a podcast.

Every one of those things is challenging yet possible. I could probably dream a lot bigger but I don’t have to. It’s my list.

What’s on yours?

That’s all for today. Time to get busy!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Doctor Visits


If you’re a baby boomer, you probably already know that you’ll be seeing the doctor more often now than you did in your 20s and 30s. Ten years ago, I had one doctor and a dentist. Now, at a little past 60, I have at least six doctors and a dentist.

Sometimes I laugh internally as I enter the waiting room for some of my doctor visits because I am often the youngest one there. A little mental giggle almost surfaces as I observe a row or two of gray-haired patients with their canes. I say ‘almost’ because I also walk with cane, because of MS, and my hair would also be gray if I didn’t color it monthly.

I accept my evolving medical status but I still struggle to accept my senior status. Except for living with a relatively mild form of multiple sclerosis, I am in pretty good health. However that does not really reduce a nagging fear of what the future holds. Will my health deteriorate? Will the MS get worse? Can I ever retire? If I retire from full time work, what will I do for part time work?

This line of thought was triggered by a visit to my urologist recently. There were six gray-haired men in the waiting room, three accompanied by wives and two walking with canes. Key words in my doctor conversation were prostate, pee, bend over, viagra, come back in six months. Geez.

Two of my various doctors are around my age and they have empathy and humor. That’s the good part. The not-so-good part is that they’ll probably retire in the next few years and I’ll have to start over with other doctors, some of whom might not understand first hand the psychological aspects of accepting aging.

I whine about this stuff, but I am grateful that my health, social support network and insurance are all good. I live within a fifteen-minute drive of all but one of my doctors and the two health groups that my docs belong to are among the best on the east coast.

Optimism and balance are my main guides for the future. It would be great if aging was more simple but I know it isn’t. I’ll just deal with it. Life is good.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Recent Sunday

Sunday morning. Ham and egg sandwich and coffee at Panera. A small ‘to do’ list but no timeline. Me and the love of my life sitting across from each other sharing laughs and dreams.

What would it be like to recreate this scene every day and not just on Sunday?  Especially the ‘no timeline’ part. That’s one of the pictures in my head when we dream of retirement.

We are not the ‘sit on front porch rockers’ types; we want do some kind of work for as long as we can. Part time work. Escape from the rat race work. Meaningful work.

Sunday is my recharge day and has been for decades. A relaxing day creates a mental environment perfect for dreaming; perfect for erasing the busyness of the preceding week and designing a potentially exciting coming week.

Conversation, reading, listening to music, running a few errands, sipping wine. Hanging with friends. Laughing. Dreaming. The perfect Sunday.

I want more of those.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

MLK

A sampling of quotes from an American hero:

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”


- Martin Luther King Jr. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Patience

A warm, but bulky coat. Gloves. A wool hat. DataWatch card on a lanyard. Office door keys. Laptop backpack. A Baja Fresh bag with a chicken rice bowl. A grande Pike Place blend cup of Starbucks coffee. A walking stick.

That’s what I wore and retrieved from my car in the parking lot at work late one recent morning. It was 11 degrees outside, 43 in the parking lot.

Many people I know think I have a lot of patience, that I’m calm under pressure and that I don’t get angry very often. My take? I have plenty of ‘acceptance’; but the older I get, the less patience I have. And the more often I am angry.

Maybe ‘patience’ should be my keyword for 2018. That would be a worthy goal.

A moment before I struggled to exit my car, strap on all my crap and head for the elevator, I told myself I should take my time and accept that it’s cold, I have several items to take up to my office and I’m a 60-something man who walks with a walking stick because I have MS. I can’t change the weather, can’t change the fact that I was hungry enough for lunch and currently can’t change my walking difficulty.

I CAN change my reaction to those things. I can have patience and accept them, take my time and just deal with them.

The reason I was just getting to my office at noon was that I had accompanied the love of my life to a doctor appointment during which she and I learned about treatment options for her recently-diagnosed breast cancer.

My gf has effing breast cancer and I’m going to whine because I’m wearing a bulky coat and walk with a limp?!  No.

Patience.

My MS is annoying and I sometimes feel lost as I deal with that and aging. Sometimes I am angry because of limitations due to age and MS. But my MS is nothing compared with most people living with it. It’s just annoying. And everybody ages.

Breast cancer is a serious matter. The good news about hers is that it’s the most easily treatable kind and the designation is ‘stage 0’. In other words, it’s more annoying than anything else and the survival rate is 98%.

She refers to it as a bump in the road.

She and I give each other emotional strength and we found each other at just the right time in our lives. Our regular advice to each other during difficult times is: take deep breaths.

Deep breaths equal patience. Taking a few slow, deep breaths leads to a slowing down of the crazy activity or thoughts that are stressing us at any given moment. A deep breath allows us to stop and think, to regroup momentarily, to consider options for how to react to a situation.

Exercising some patience produces the same results.


I’ll contemplate this a little more before declaring a decision, but at this moment ‘patience’ is the leading contender for my keyword of the year. Patience seems to be a worthy and significant goal for the new year. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Day, New Month, New Year


New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday. January 1st each year signals an opportunity for new beginnings, both in thought and in reality.

Counting down to midnight the night before is simultaneously scary and energizing. A mild sense of dread washes over me as we careen toward the final moments of a year. Wait, stop, I didn’t finish (fill in the blank). Yet there is energy and optimism as we count, often in unison with groups of people, ten. Nine. Eight. It’s almost here. Seven. Six. Does everyone have their champagne? Five. Four. Ready?! Three. Two. One!!

Happy New Year!!!!

Glasses clink. Hugs. Kisses. Attempts to sing Auld Lang Syne. Does anybody really know the words?  Or the origin of the song and its connection to turning the page into the next year?

January One is the first day of my month-long ‘process’. From New Year’s Day at the beginning to my birthday near the end, I think through what I want in the coming year. I don’t actually make New Years resolutions but I do a form of goal-setting. I often pick a keyword or two that helps me focus on hitting those goals.

Balance, my single favorite English language word, is a holdover keyword. Every year I strive to find balance between often-competing aspects of life, like work versus fun, planned obligations versus spontaneous frivolity.  Since I began using balance as a keyword, my life has become more balanced, but I have a long way to go. So balance carries over.

At this point, twelve hours into 2018, I think ‘simplify’ might return as a keyword. My life continues to be more complicated than I want it to be. That is a big surprise to me. I always thought life got simpler as we age. It doesn’t.

Another keyword contender is ‘discipline’. That would also be a returning goal.

I have other specific goals for 2018 and I’ll develop strategies to help me achieve them. But I want to have fun this year too. Hmmm, ‘fun’ is another possible (and returning) keyword.

Meanwhile, I thank you for visiting my blog. I wish you simplicity, balance and fun in 2018.

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Christmas Magnet

Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, Christmas is usually a time for family and friend celebration. It can also be a sad time in boomer world because the holiday season of our adulthood or ‘seniorhood’ doesn’t live up to that of our youth.

I used to have serious holiday depression, especially after my Dad died in a November several years ago. My life turned around in a positive direction about five years ago. That Christmas I was alone and on my own again after more than fifteen years of what turned into a very dysfunctional relationship and marriage.

Being alone during the holidays could be very depressing but that was not the case with me.  Christmas Day that year was my third day alone in a new apartment and I woke up with a smile, brewed some coffee and opened moving boxes till I found my stereo. Me, coffee, Christmas music = happiness.

Back in my ‘holiday depression’ years I could feel sadness for days at a time through November and December. A trip back to New Orleans, the source of my happy holiday youth, often served to erase the depression. New Orleans was sort of like a magnet, pulling me back to a time when the word ‘depression’ was merely something in a history book referring to the 1930s and not an emotional condition.

New Orleans is still a Christmas magnet for me. For the past five years, my Yuletide blues only comes in short waves lasting minutes rather than months. Thinking about my hometown usually knocks out sadness. Memories of a very pleasant youth puts a smile on my face. My current (and likely permanent) romantic situation has a similar effect.

But it has been six or seven years since I was in that weird, magical city at Christmas time and I feel the pull of the magnet. Even though I dislike traveling during holidays and winter (crowds, delays, weather), I want to be in the center of my happy holiday youth, spending time with family and friends and sharing it with the afore-mentioned romantic woman.

My first New Year's resolution for 2018: let the Christmas magnet pull me ‘home’ for a few days next December.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Celebrity Perp Parade


Long time CBS anchor and PBS host Charlie Rose, Senator and former comedian Al Franken, and now longtime NBC anchor Matt Lauer are all accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

It shouldn’t surprise me after working in media for 40 years that what you see is not always what you get. We create images. On the news side, media outlets try to create an image of honesty and integrity. News anchors seem to be trustworthy. Charlie Rose appeared a bit arrogant to me, but also looked intelligent and honest. Matt Lauer appeared to be an honest family man and grateful for the positive turns in his career. Neither seemed like the kind of men who would engage in sexually inappropriate behavior.

And as I began to write this post, news broke that Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame was fired from PBS for sexually inappropriate behavior. That is hard to believe.

Image. Image. Image.

Politicians, on the other hand, often seem like corrupt, untrustworthy liars. Franken, however, did not seem like that. The accusations against him pre-date his political career. He was in media then. Hmmm.

There have been numerous examples of celebrity men, in media or politics or other high-profile occupations, using that power or celebrity to engage in sexually inappropriate behavior. The celebrity perp parade is long and getting longer. Women are gaining the confidence to stand up and report the behavior and abuse and hopefully the strength to stop the behavior in its tracks.

Famous men are used to getting a pass, but that era might finally be coming to an end. Of course the leader of the parade, ‘president’ Trump, is still getting a pass for well-documented inappropriate behavior. Why?!  Why aren’t ‘we the people’ shouting Trump’s signature line: “You’re fired!”

As the Charlie and Matt stories have developed, it appears there was a years-long pattern with each of them that was mostly kept silent. The wave of ‘me too’ revaluations has given more women the power to speak up and had given media management the extra incentive to quickly take appropriate action.

And since I began writing this, a few more politicians and media moguls were outed by advisors ... the parade got longer. Even some of the women who previously accused Trump were in the news again.

All this led to an interesting conversation with a male coworker the other day. He said that at one point in his career he sometimes dated female coworkers but he would never do that now if he was single now.  Hmmm, I did too. A long time ago, but I browsed my memory banks to see if I crossed any lines. No, as far as I know.

I think this is one of the points of the ‘me too’ movement. To get us thinking; and to reinforce that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

Even though I’m very disappointed that some high profile men I normally respect have turned out to be purveyors of this behavior, I’m glad that shining a light on this topic might have a positive benefit.

Friday, December 1, 2017

It Feels Like


Sometimes 2017 feels like 1968. Boomers might remember 1968 as a year filled with anti-war demonstrations, ‘race riots’ and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

The Vietnam War was escalating and the somewhat controversial Richard Nixon won the presidential election in November.   He only beat his Democratic opponent Hubert Humphrey by 500,000 of the 70-million votes cast, but his Electoral College win was a landslide. Racist 3rd-party candidate George Wallace received almost 10-million votes and won five states in Electoral College votes including, sadly, my home state of Louisiana.

Nixon actually did a few positive things not always associated with Republican leaders. He ended a war (Vietnam) and created the Environmental Protection Agency. He also established some positive relations with China. But like the current Trump administration, the Nixon camp was full of corruption. Spiro Agnew, his first Vice President, was forced to resign early in his second term because of a tax evasion conviction and accusations of bribery. Less than a year later, Nixon himself resigned in the middle of swirling accusations related to his campaign’s break in of their opponent’s campaign headquarters during the 1973 campaign.

Back to 1968. Civil discord, racial conflict, loud and violent demonstrations protesting war, violent riots in reaction to the killing of a civil rights leader, protests and fights at the Democratic convention ... all resulting in a feeling among many of us that our country was falling apart. Sprinkle in the hypocrisy of a law-and-order president whose administration was full of corruption, real and imagined.

Any of that sound like today?

Is some of the fear from fifty years ago that our country is falling apart real? Or just my paranoia from my youth?  Something’s happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Social media and hundreds of ‘news’ outlets add to the intensity. In 1968 we had only three national TV networks and a handful of local newspapers.

It has taken me decades of redirecting my own negativity into a general attitude of positivity and optimism. I hate that current events are conspiring to drag me back to a life attitude I worked so hard to change.