I hate that expression.
Today is the culmination of the last three months of my life.
Scratch that. Today is the culmination of the last three years of my life.
I could probably further revise that statement and suggest that today is the culmination of my entire life, and that would most likely be accurate. However, since this is such an important turning point for me, to lump everything into this single moment in time would probably create too much pressure for myself, and since I woke up after a night of restless dreams at 5 am with a churning stomach, I don't think I should actively pursue anything that will create even more stress.
Chalkskin Comes Home happens today (7 pm at Skully's Music + Diner in Columbus, Ohio). The catchphrase I've been using for this show is "Everything Changes," and I simply can't think of any way of summing things up that could better capture the essence of what's going to happen. Simply put, today, everything changes.
Tonight, when I take that stage, I will be planting my flag firmly into my life, and when the lights go down and the show is over, I will have been baptized and renewed.
And that's why I'm up writing this instead of sleeping. I'm finding it impossible to rest when so much is right in front of me.
I can't wait to do this. I can't wait to share this experience with you. And I can't wait to see what happens after everything changes.
A Chalkskin Warrior:
I got an interesting phone call from my nephew yesterday. He was going through the credits of “Fresh Donuts” and “PayDay” with me. (By the way, his favorite songs are “Don’t Hassle Me,” “I’m So Angry!,” “T ‘n A,” Alien Police: Theme from the Major Motion Picture,” “Mystery Track,” So You Think You Can Rap?,” “Nerdstock,” “Trek/Wars,” and “Got Game?” He’s seven.)
During this phone call he asked me a question. Did I really mean it when I gave special thanks to God? ‘Cause Grandma doesn’t believe me. Over the sound of my mother’s protesting that she ever said that, I answered the boy honestly. Yes, I am serious about it. Why? he responded.
Because without Him, none of it would be possible.
I guess I should explain.
I guess the first time I really understood that the Chalkskin project was special was when I added up the costs for the first album. Somehow on a retail manager’s salary, I had managed to come up with over ten grand. What? Where did all of that come from? If my car had broken down and required repairs… or if I needed extensive brain surgery… or had to fly out of town to go to a funeral… or needed to get gas… Literally, anything else I would have tried to do, I don’t know how I would have pulled that much money out of my chalky white rear end.
But that’s not really the most compelling argument. And admittedly, I am prone to believe in miracles more than the average skeptic. (Though not nearly as often as the Jesus-in-the-toast-has-a-stigmata crowd.)
I’ll leave out all of the minor points of fact and move right on to the biggies. The next one was a bit… harder to deal with. Remember that retail management job I had when I made the first album? While working on the second one, I lost my job. Actually, I got fired for something really stupid. You know how people say “God works in mysterious ways”? Sometimes miracles can seem like punishment, even when you see the silver lining.
Since I got fired… And since the reasons for why they decided to cut me loose after ten long years was dubious… I was able to get unemployment and work on Chalkskin full-time. I also was able to cash in all of my vacation time (which, thanks to California, had rolled over into quite a tidy sum), 401 K plans, Health Savings Plan accounts, etc. etc. etc., I was able to funnel a great deal of money into “PayDay.” Like another ten grand.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking… none of this argues the point that miracles actually do occur. You’re right. They might shine a light on mere shadows. And besides, many would argue that I really owe the results to the actions. I mean, wasn’t it human ambition that made all of this happen? Wasn’t it my own tenacity and unwillingness to give up combined with the support and talents of everyone else involved that made the real difference in all of this?
All I can say is that anytime I would get to a dead end, was ready to throw up my hands, was sweating my own health and security, was almost completely without hope (Obama be darned!)… Anytime I would say that the only way we could continue was if money fell out of the sky… well, it kind of did.
Sure, you may all point at the kickstarter campaign and tell me that that’s not a miracle. That’s good friends. True dat, n word*! But you forget that even after that campaign, we ran into yet another dead end that spelled the last for Chalkskin. How would we get another thousand bucks? We had just asked every person we’d ever met for their assistance!
Enter Nathan Williams. He is a guy that used to work for me at that retail job I mentioned before. He and I have remained friends through social networking and will always have a good bond. But give me a moment to tell you a bit more about how I know him.
Ten years ago, Nathan was the first guy I ever had to fire. He was actually a really good worker, and Tina (my boss) and I really loved him. That’s why we promoted him to a key holder. With great keys comes great pain in the butt responsibility, and unfortunately for Nate, he had trouble in just one area. He didn’t always wake up in time to go to work. Or to open the store. That happened twice in so many weeks, and our hands were tied. If he slipped up again, we warned him, we would have no choice. We offered to be his alarm clock, but Nathan, being the determined, young man that he was told us that would be unnecessary. He would simply get up in time from then on. The next day…
Yeah, it sucked. For all of us.
The next job he got after working with us was at a company that specializes in investments for Roth IRA accounts. I think he worked there for two weeks. I think I was his only customer. I did it more for him than for myself, and when I lost the information for the account, I shrugged it off, put my head down, and kept right on working.
Fast forward ten years. I get an interest free loan from Nate Williams for a thousand bucks, and we get to finish the album! He’s cool about the loan, and I will pay him a hundred bucks for the next ten months to pay it off. I’ll start in August, and unless the album is insanely successful or something else outside of the box happens, I’m going to be subsisting off of a mere $12 a month after my bills. (That’s for food and fuel. And that’s if the unemployment checks keep rolling in.)
So about a week ago, I get this letter in the mail. Seems it’s chased me all over the country. It’s addressed to me but at my grandfather’s address. The grandfather that died about seven years ago. I tear it open, and it’s from that investment company. If I don’t update my information, by law they will have to consider my account abandoned. (And they will spend my money on hotdogs for the company picnic or something.) I call the lady and update things, log on to the website, and check out my long-lost portfolio.
Just under a thousand bucks.
In case you weren’t keeping score at home. Ten years ago, Nathan Williams invested a paltry sum of money for me that was lost until now. That money grew exponentially and is now enough to almost fully repay a loan that I am indebted to make good on. To Nathan Williams.
I don’t know about you, but I think God made a pretty good case this time.
*The “n word” is neighbor.
I woke up from one of the most pleasant dreams of my life this morning, and I felt bad about blinking from that world.
You see, on February 15th "Weird Al" Yankovic will be doing a book signing in Irvine for his new children's book, "When I Grow Up." Of course, I'll be traveling up there to meet the man for the first time.
Since I will be recording my album from February 11th - 14th, I will be bringing a CD with me. I doubt he'll ever listen to it, but I will let him know how inspirational he's been to me. And I'll tell him it will mean a lot to me for him to at least except the gift of having the first copy.
So back to my dream... I sat with Mr. Yankovic for hours and talked about the art, the craft, and how it drives our lives. I asked him questions, related to his passions, and was welcomed into the fold by my hero.
I hated waking up, but I can only keep plugging along until I wake up one morning and find the dream has come true.
Wish me luck. :)
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