Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The day the music...uhhhh... became undead.

I've been loving songs and memorizing songs for as long as I can remember. I saw my first concert when I was a mere seven years old. Three Dog Night at the old Fulton County Stadium. Some guy named Rod Stewart opened for them. Having three older sisters gave me plenty of exposure to music ahead of my time. I was mesmerized by that music and the people who wrote it at a very early age. When other children were probably reading bedtime stories, I was reading the liner notes of the albums that were always strewn across my bed. The proverbial "now I lay me down to sleep" was more than likely a "Wait a minute...Irving Azoff produced this crap? He's better than this!"
Anyway, I've always loved songs. Around twelve years old I started writing them. I'm not saying they were any good, but I started writing them. I always kept it a secret because I thought it was silly that a child would be writing songs and knew that, to anyone else's eyes, they'd be likened to the "crap" I mentioned earlier. After literally years of getting up my nerve I finally HAD to show them to someone. That someone was my sister Susan. I'll always credit her for this - her attitude wasn't a condescending one - "Oh, isn't this cute! Little Timmy's trying to write songs." She told me she loved them (there's no way she loved them..they were BAD.) She told me that my style of writing (STYLE?) reminded her of this guy she listened to named Jackson Browne. So she bought me his "Running on Empty" album. Despite the fact that I was clueless what the song "Rosie" was really about until I was in my 20's I was completely taken with the music. In no way did I liken anything I wrote to what he wrote, but it still inspired me. It also gave me the courage to start showing my stuff to other people - mostly my other sisters and my parents. They were equally as encouraging and complimentary and I'll always be grateful.
But massive weight gain caused my songs to suffer the same fate that everything important in my life suffered - neglect. Only recently have I taken out the briefcase where I keep all my song stuff. Only recently have I gotten my guitar out of its case and reminded myself what some of those songs sound like. I've picked up my mandolin again and, though I'm not exactly Bill Monroe yet, I'm getting better. I've recently gotten back in touch with one of my oldest friends, Mark. He's a natural musician and a great songwriter. (Check out to check out the band he's currently in and the music he's writing.) He wants to get together and work on stuff I've recently an e-mail from him just this morning inviting me out to his place. The common denominator in all of this is, of course, my weight loss. My music - as hokey as it sounds - is part of me. If I didn't like me, I didn't like it. The cost of this surgery was astronomical...but I'm beginning to think it was a bargain the likes of which Kmart couldn't put a blue light over!
Now you're all Googling "Rosie" to see what it's about....aren't you?

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Living Color

I had a professor at LaGrange College named Dr. David Naglee. Dr. Naglee was a renaissance man in every sense of the word. He was a concert cellist. He built grandfather clocks by hand. He wrote books and lectured at universities all over the world. He was, at one time, listed in Cambridge University's "Who's Who Among Intellectuals." He was also the biggest professional wrestling fan I've ever met. He always said he wanted to start a tag team called "BOANERGES! THE SONS OF THUNDER!" ("Boanerges" means "sons of thunder" and was the name Christ gave to James and John because of their inclination to be hot-tempered. I encouraged him to come up with another name for his tag-team as that may have been a bit above the head of the average fan of professional wrestling.) I once told him that he reminded me of a Van Gogh quote that said "The best way to know life is to love many things..." His response - "My lands! I certainly pray that doesn't include cutting one's ear off!"
I tell you all of that to tell you this - Dr. Naglee had very poor eyesight and was colorblind. He was an avid golfer but often asked his students to go play a round with him because once he hit a ball it was gone for him. When you played with him you had to keep up with your shot and his as well. I can't remember the whole story, but there was a time when his eyesight was failing and doctors told him to expect the worst. Thus began a severe bout with depression. A man who built his life on lecturing, writing and reading would, of course, be lost without his ability to see. Though he wasn't Roman-Catholic he paid a visit to the monastery in Conyers, Georgia. Apparently he sequestered himself there to pray, meditate and ask the Almighty why this was happening to him. Again, I can't remember the details but as he left the monastery in his car suddenly, for one fleeting moment, everything on the road he traveled was in color. For the first time since his teenage years he was able to see colors! He stopped by the side of the road and wept. He felt he'd received a direct message from the creator of the universe. He always said "the voice of God isn't necessarily a language...sometimes it's a picture." As far as I know, he retained his vision through the remainder of his life.
Last week while walking the streets of Charleston as well as the beaches of the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island I felt like I was seeing the world in color for the first time in years. We walked and walked and walked...there was no aching or shortness of breath. I enjoyed the scenery instead of scouring the scenery in search of a chair or a bench. I felt very alive as if these were the first steps I'd ever taken. I know this borders on melodramatic and you probably think I'm being wayyyyyy over-the-top. But the moments are becoming more and more frequent where I'm caught off-guard as to how drastically different my life has become. There's no more going through the motions...I feel like I'm actually going somewhere and that there's purpose to all actions.
I've seen the beauty of Charleston. I've stood on the battery and watched dolphins play before. I've seen that flag flying out on Fort Sumter many times. I've stood in awe at the majesty and grace of those old homes. But this time I saw it all in color. Best part is, so did my bride. She didn't have to worry about how I was doing or how I was walking. Dr. Naglee was right - sometimes it's a picture not a voice.

Friday, February 13, 2009


There's Fridays and then there's FRIDAYS. Today is a FRIDAY. Reason being, we're on vacation next week. We'll be in Charleston, one of our favorite places on planet earth. We went on our honeymoon to Charleston and have been back once. I'm looking forward to being able to walk and walk and walk.... A visit from me to Charleston usually meant that scores of oysters were about to meet their maker. With my talent for slurping oysters now diminished because of surgery most of them will be safe this time around...but I plan on putting at least a small dent in the mollusk population of coastal Carolina.
So the Atlanta Braves are setting up shop with a minor league team here in Gwinnett County. I put in an application to usher or work guest relations. A chance to make extra money in my spare time AND watch free baseball. Perfect storm for yours truly. I've had two interviews now that both went well. I had an interesting moment during the second interview. The gentleman asking the questions asked me "would you say that you're happy with your appearance?" I'm not sure who was president the last time I was happy with my appearance, but I'm pretty sure he's dead by now. It made my week to give a positive response to that question.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lagging behind...

Ok, so I'm behind. This subject matter was stuff I meant to deal with LAST Friday. It's been a crazy week with work, work, oh and there was also work.
Last Friday night my bride and I acted like we were 25 again (well, we acted like I acted when I was 25...she was a better-behaved 25 year-old than myself.) Anyway, an old friend of mine has been after me forever to go hear his band. They're The Bearfoot Hookers, producers of what they call "Beer drinkin' gospel" music. It's good stuff. It's a lot like the stuff he and I used to listen to in many a wee hour in his basement back in our younger days. They've been quite successful in the storied music scene over in Athens and they'll soon be recording a third album. Therein lies the problem - y'all know that I avoid Athens at all costs. But on this particular Friday night they were at the Sweetwater Bar & Grill in Duluth - much friendlier environs - so we went to check them out.
Problem - they're the headliners of three bands playing that night, meaning they'll start about 12:30. There was a day when I used to head out at 12:30 on a Friday night but those days have passed. If I'm awake after midnight these days it's because nature's called. So around 7:30 we took a nap. That's right, we went to bed at 7:30 and set the alarm for 10:00. Thank God it was wintertime...if it'd been summer it would've still been daylight. I am officially old.
The reunion with my old friend was an excellent time. His band was good and he was glad to see me. I told him that I was sorry I'd avoided this evening for so long, but there was no way in the world I wanted anyone from 'the old days' to see me at by biggest. He rolled his eyes...."you're weight's not who you are, Tim. It's still not, even though you've lost a lot and look great. Everything that makes you fun to be around and a good person is still there no matter what body it's living in..." I mustered up the manliest guy hug I could and we promised that we'd come out to his house soon for dinner. He wants to check out songs I've been writing and see what can be done with them. I've actually been writing new stuff and touching up old stuff in anticipation of this happening. I do appreciate his comments...but I wouldn't have had the confidence for any of this to be happening 220 pounds ago. Life's good.