Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day

Before I get to a few thoughts about Memorial Day, I just want to let those of you who are interested in the "quest to quit," know that I'm now into day seven. I had a fairly stern test on Saturday night. Nancy and I threw some meat on the grill, she had her usual one glass of wine, while I tossed back several vodka tonics. This was the first time I had much to drink since I stopped smoking. It wasn't nearly as agonizing as I thought it might be and I did make it through, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss having my old friend along while I drank. There's an even bigger test looming this coming weekend, as I go back for my high school reunion. Wish me luck.

I keep a picture of my dad in his army officer's uniform on a bookcase next to my desk in my music room. A friend stopped by on Saturday and while I was showing him the various memorabilia in my room, he noticed the picture of my dad and asked who it was. My friend noted that my dad was quite a handsome man. I sort of just let the comment pass and we moved on to something else, but the compliment stayed with me for the rest of the weekend. Maybe it was all the TV coverage about Memorial Day and the various remembrance ceremonies, or maybe it was that I had passed that picture thousands of times and he but once, and yet he took notice of it.

I picked up my dad's picture just now and looked at it for good long while. He was, in fact, a handsome young man, and he struck quite a pose in his officer's uniform. My dad served in the U. S. Army before, during, and after World War II. He earned the rank of Chief Warrant Officer and was stationed on the island of Okinawa during the last part of WW II. It was not a secret in our family that daddy loved the military and probably felt his biggest mistake was leaving the army before retiring. However, he rarely talked in much detail to me about his wartime experiences until near the end of his life. I would sit and listen as he spoke with a great sense of pride about his military service. It was obvious that he wouldn't trade those times for any other.
I'm glad I took the time on this Memorial Day to look at my dad's picture and to remember him and recall some of our time together. I thank my friend for noticing and thus reminding me to take time to remember. In addition to being a kind and gentle man, a wonderful father, and a patient and devoted husband, Earl Brady Hamrick served his country with honor and was indeed a member of the greatest generation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Out of Sorts

I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but I didn't post a blog last week. I wanted to, I needed to, but I just couldn't do it. The truth is, since I got back from SOS, I've been "out of sorts." For those of you not from the South, "out of sorts" is simply a catch all diagnoses, most often used by ladies of my grandmother's era, to explain otherwise unexplainable ailments and illnesses. To make matters worse, for the last twelve days, I have been taking a mind altering drug that is supposed to help me dump my oldest and most dependable friend, Mr. Cigarette.

Chantix, a product of Pfizer Labs, is a 1mg pill, taken twice a day for a minimum of four months, with an additional three months also recommended, designed to "help ease" nicotine cessation. Simply put, Chantix's active ingredient Varenicline, binds with high affinity and selectivity, to neuronal nicotine acetylcholine receptors in the brain, thus preventing nicotine from binding to said receptors. Yep it's all that and a bag of chips, too for only $150 a month. By the way, insurance doesn't cover a dime.

Yes it's a little pricey, but you get a lot of extras and possible extras, that you don't get with that $6.00 pack of Merit Ultra Lights. The clinical name for these extras is "adverse reactions." They include, but are not limited to: rash, nausea, vomiting, constipation, flatulence, headaches, abnormal dreams, nightmares, insomnia, dry mouth, fatigue, lethargy, irritability, mood swings, depression, and not least but maybe last...suicide. It sounds pretty involved to me. With Merit Ultra Lights it seems much simpler: your lungs turn to brown goo, you can barely breathe, you get cancer and you die.

I first heard about Chantix from my friend Steve Dean. After Steve's doctor told him if he didn't quit smoking, in about a year his lungs were gonna turn to brown goo, he would hardly be able to breathe, and he would get cancer and die, Steve decided to try Chantix. I remember the Saturday morning Stevie told me he was gonna quit smoking. I took a big draw off my cigarette and thought go son, never believing he had a chance in hell of stopping. I told him I hoped he could, and I meant it, but I also told him, they would have to pry them out of my nicotine stain fingers before I'd give them up. Well it's been over a year and a half and my friend Steve is still on the wagon! God bless you my friend, you go son!

I really do have it in my mind to quit this time. I'm down to about 6 cigarettes a day now and I know my "quit date" is very close at hand. Already I miss smoking. It really is like losing a best friend, not to mention, I really think it's affecting my blog production. Poe had his opium, and Hemingway had his booze for inspiration and relaxation. Soon I won't even have my cigarettes. Now don't misunderstand me, I'm not comparing myself to, or insinuating that I am as recondite as Poe or as prolific as Hemingway. I'm just saying, "can't this brother have a crutch too."

It's good to finally get back to blogging. Hopefully if the "adverse reactions" don't get too bad, we'll chat again next week.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring SOS Recap

Another Spring SOS has come and gone. As always, I'm grateful for the chance to participate one more time. Like all of you who attended, I was really tired when I got back to Atlanta. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. Got a Rx and I'm feeling fine now.

I heard a lot of talk about it being a weird SOS in terms of the crowd. Many folks felt like the numbers of people were smaller and when they went to the various clubs they didn't see a lot folks they recognized. I too thought it was a weird SOS, but for reasons that I'll just keep my little secret. I will say this however, I knew or recognized the greater majority of the folks at The Pavilion when I played Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I appreciate that most of the same folks come back each SOS when I play. If nobody else thanks you, I'll thank you...THANK YOU!!

Maybe the SOS highlight for me this spring, was the opportunity to introduce the newest member of The Pavilion DJ family, young Jason Cagle. Jason played his first SOS set on Saturday before I came on. As I observed and listened to Jason, I felt he found his stride and did a fine job. I know he learned a lot that day and will continue to learn and get better. Hell, after all these years, I still learn something every time I play. Well done my young friend, the future of our music is in good hands.

I had several of my FB friends come up and introduce themselves to me and I appreciated them doing so. I never decline anyone who wants to be my FB friend even if I don't happen to know them. I figure if they're gutsy enough to want to call themselves my friend, I'm happy to have 'em. I especially enjoyed my brief chat with Kristy McDonald. She's a "straight shooter" and loves that old Pavilion every bit as much as I do. I also think that she and Marilyn Burrage are doing a fine job with "Boys in the OD Band". By the way, congratulations to all the new members of the band!

On a serious note, I'm quite sure that most everyone had that moment at some point during SOS. That moment when you thought about the terrible fire. Maybe you got a whiff of the smoke, or saw the ash float around in the air, or maybe it just sorta popped in your mind. You thought to yourself, "God bless those poor people." I just don't know what I would do if that happened to me. Maybe you even felt a little tinge of guilt for having a good time while just up the road a few miles peoples' dreams were being wiped away. Learn to appreciate what you have folks, while you have it. As we were reminded once again, you can lose it all in a blink.

I want to thank Pam and H. Lee for putting up with me for one more SOS. I love you guys! Thanks to all of you who came out when I played. Thanks to those of you who gave me words of encouragement regarding my blog. Thanks to those of you who bought my CD's. And last but not least, THANKS FOR NO REQUESTS!