A baker’s dozen from Clyde

I have a ticket for “An evening with Jackson Browne” tonight at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR. But on August 7, 2019 I’m gonna be 1984 miles away in Springtown, Misery.

On most days of our summer roadtrip I posted thirteen pictures on Facebook. This time I’m stealing lyrics from a baker’s dozen from the singer-songwriter who has been my favorite the longest.

If I was making up the setlist for “An evening with Jackson Browne” this 8/7/19 I’d have trouble limiting it to his standard setlist for 2019 of 21 songs. And I’d walk away from the show wanting more.

Picking only 13 is not gonna be easy. The first twelve are listed in the order released, and then my number one.

Some editorial comments; perhaps some background; and always the lyrics. Other than #12, these have been the songs of my life for the last 40-plus years.

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1. Jackson Browne’s first album was released in January, 1972. I was a short-timer at Ft. Bragg. I wanted out of the army. They wanted me gone. This is one of the albums that pulled me thru the last few months of my 1 year, 6 months and 6 days in uniform. Angst running rampant. Hoping not to be court-martialed out.

“It’s a hotel at best, you’re here as a guest

You oughta make yourself at home…”

I’ve been lucky enough to bounce from room to room, and from pillar to post, for longer than anyone who knew me back then expected. I was a loose cannon. “Wanta do it? Wanta do it now.”

Last summer I drove by the four places I lived in Corvallis between 76&82.

Played this song more than a few times that day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyktbMZAWcw

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2. From that same, self-titled album a song that seems like it should be played at the baptizing hole…or on a water bed perhaps. I read once that he said the song came from the desire for love and peace and release and reconciliation with the spiritual.

I can support those four.

BTW, the album is NOT titled “Saturate before using.” Just sayin’.

“Your walls are burning and your towers are turning

I’m going to leave you here and try to get down to the sea somehow…

…When my life is over, I’m going to stand before the Father

But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now”

This song meant more to me after we moved to Oregon and we could be at the beach in under an hour. Someday I hope to be closer to the Pacific again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzKgVOifDc

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3. “For Everyman” was released in October of 73. I was getting ready to start my second year at SEMO. I was the sports editor for the Capaha Arrow, worked football and basketball games and did some tasks for the Sports Information department, and picked up a few bucks as a stringer for a couple of city papers and the AP.

I had been subjected to living for one term with my authoritarian asshole of a brother as a roommate. I spent a lot of time in the library and in my own head. I cannot hear this lyric without thinking of he who shall remain nameless.

“Don’t confront me with my failures

I had not forgotten them”

More people should cover this one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV61WZ2OKmY

-=-=-=-

4. We talked about leaving.

We talked about going somewhere.

We left.

We went places.

We were everyman.

We are Everyman.

“Everybody I talk to is ready to leave

With the light of the morning…

…Seems like I’ve always been

Looking for some other place to get it together”

I’m still looking.

I don’t expect to die while living in MO. But I’m not going anywhere that will keep me more than a few hours from Dad. And even though at 93 he talks about going somewhere, I’m expecting to be spending several days/weeks at some point wrapping things up at the house he had built a little over 30 years ago.

After his place in Doe Run is gone, who knows?  Stay in Springfield?  Orygun?  Colorado? Virginia?  Belize?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOoeoiO-3C0

-=-=-=-

5. The album “Late for the sky” was released on my birthday in 1974. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get my copy on 9/13, but I’m sure the first vinyl had been played a hundred times before xmas of 74.

When I met Shelly she wasn’t all that familiar with Jackson Browne, so I bought her 2 CDs: a greatest hits….and this one.

Stick me on a desert island and tell me only one Jackson Browne album, “Late for the sky” is it.

Come to one of the ash scatterings that I wrote about, and this one will be playing. My sister says she wants this one played at her funeral too. When I heard this, I asked what she thought our fundamentalist, biblical inerrancy father and brother would think of the lyric, she said it is open to interpretation. Malarkey. Typical baptist bullshit.

As an evangelical agnostic, I love it:

“I don’t know what happens when people die

Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try…”

And others too:

“Keep a fire for the human race

And let your prayers go drifting into space

You never know will be coming down”

“Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around

Go on and make a joyful sound”

I saw Warren Zevon open for J.B. a couple of times.

Make a joyful noise….and enjoy every sandwich!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78AVc2jV4Sg

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6. I’m thinking that this pick is gonna surprise the folks who’ve known me the longest: “walking slow.”

“I got a thing or two to say

Before I walk on by

I’m feeling good today

But if I die a little farther along

I’m trusting everyone to carry on…”

No “If” about it. Even my true believing father doesn’t expect to be sucked up in the rapture anymore.  We’re all gonna die.

This song never gets played in concert anymore: only a few times in years beginning with a 2.

But it made my baker’s dozen because: (1) it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it; and (2) this lyric:

“I’m puttin’ down my left foot

I’m puttin’ down my right foot…”

Keep on keeping on…and picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6txdzsefEHU

-=-=-=-=-=

7. Paula Rudloff and I moved everything we owned in a 2 car VW bug caravan from Washington, MO to Corvallis, OR at the end of August of 1976. The road trip was interesting. Saw POTUS in Russell, KS. Got yelled at for pumping my own gas in Ontario, OR.

“The Pretender” was released in November ’76. We were impoverished…with priorities. I scrounged up a few bucks for an album that stayed on the turntable for a long time.

This is another one that he seldom plays, but it has always been one of my favorites.

“Forget what life used to be, you are what you choose to be,

It’s whatever it is you see that life will become.

Whatever it is you might think you have you have nothing to lose,

Through every dead and living thing time runs like a fuse.

And the fuse is burning…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgZsfm_9KHk

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8. Now for a deep-cut that he must really hate!! Setlist.fm says he has only played it 16 times….and only once since 3/24/77.

I have posted links to this song on my Facebook timeline several times.

There is so much that I love about this song.

“Among the thoughts that crowd your mind there won’t be many that ever really matter,

But take good care of your mother

And remember to be kind”

And this:

“And when you’ve found another soul

Who sees into your own

Take good care of each other”

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Henry James

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8niggURImqw

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9. It was several years between the time I first heard the title track of “The Pretender” in 76 and when I started at AA&Co. in late May of 82. During those 6 years, I was a substitute teacher for a few and then at OSU on the GI Bill. There were also more than a few prolonged periods of stoned stupors and homemade blackberry wine benders.

At Andersen these lyrics applied. I worked my ass off there. There was tad bit of quality to go along with the quantity:

“I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning

And go to work each day

And when the evening rolls around

I’ll go on home and lay my body down…”

I became a full-fledged Pretender in 2011. I got lucky too….I found her!!

“I’m going to find myself a girl

Who can show me what laughter means

And we’ll fill in the missing colors

In each other’s paint-by-number dreams…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROK1-VvOQ0

-=-=-=-=

10. “Running on Empty” hit the streets 12/6/77.

We house sat for her brother in Vancouver, BC for the summer. In the fall we moved into grad assistant housing. Made 4 batches of blackberry wine…20 gallons. Had grow lights in the extra closet.

As soon as the needle drops, the math works:

“In sixty five I was seventeen and running up 101

I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on…”

“In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own

I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on”

I dropped out of college at the end of 68. It’s a miracle I made it thru 69. Landed a union job at PPG Industries in Crystal City . Shift work. Carpooled…sometimes with a couple of wild guys from Bonne Terre. Booze was a big problem. Blackouts. Stories for another day…

No doubt about it.  I had no idea what I was looking for in 1969. I was indeed running on empty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq25ZJwZJzU

-=-=-=-=

11. Every time this song played after our marriage ended in 2011, this one hit me with the 3 Jimmy Valvano emotions: I thought; I laughed; I cried.

I had been in love before. Only once.

And for a long time.

Would it happen again?

[And then there is this from Jason Isbell: “If there’s two things that I hate, It’s having to cook and trying to date…”]

“Love won’t come near me, she don’t even hear me

She walks past my vacancy sign…”

“…Where’s the heart that’s been looking for mine?

I hope it finds me in time

Love needs a heart and I need to find

If love needs a heart like mine”

I got lucky. I found someone who loves me in spite of all my quirks.

I am a lucky old coot.

-=-=-=-

12. We saw him sing a couple of new songs before the 10/7/14 release of “Standing in the Breach.”

This was one of them. It’s a cover. If I made up setlists, every one for everybody would include at least one cover.

It’s pretty simple.

“Ever since the world’s existed

There’s one thing that is certain

There are those who build walls

And those who open doors…”

This: “There can be freedom only when nobody owns it”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwT0MI_tlMY

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13.  After Shelly had listened to the album “Late for the sky” several times, including a few when I caterwauled along, I asked her for her favorite.

I don’t think I guessed right.

I Know that she didn’t guess mine.

So I played my favorite from the album and told her why.

The album had always been my favorite album. This start of “The late show” took on more meaning during the 14 years at Arthur Andersen. The politics there were cut throat at times. On the flip side, many of the friendships are irreplaceable.

These six lines start it off:

“Everyone I’ve ever known has wished me well

Anyway that’s how it seems, it’s hard to tell

Maybe people only ask you how you’re doing

‘Cause that’s easier than letting on how little they could care

But when you know that you’ve got a real friend somewhere

Suddenly all the others are so much easier to bear”

The other lyrics that we talked about that day were these:

“And now I’m sitting here wondering what to say,

Afraid that all these words might scare you away…”

I don’t 100% buy into the first half of “say it, forget it; write it, regret it.”

I told Shelly that I have mellowed, but my mouth has gotten me into, and out of, lots of trouble.  I am a wise ass.

Sometimes I’m a dumbass.

Or an asshole.

I’m a work in progress.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF7pMqCZWio

Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda…1972

I do it often.
I hear somebody say “I wouldn’t have changed anything…” and I think:
What? The. Fuck!!
Really??

I do like to play Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda.
I have no idea how my life would’ve turned out of I had taken different forks in the road.
I am quite happy in 2019. I like the path that I’m on.
But that doesn’t keep me from having reminiscent fantasies.

Shelly gets subjected to me playing W/S/C sometimes, especially when I talk about “what I shoulda done in 2000.” (That is a story for another day…)
Her reply to “w/s/c scenario 2000”: “But we never woulda met.”
Most likely we wouldn’t have.
And it’s all just guess work as to whether or not an executed “coulda or shoulda” woulda been a better choice.
-=-=-=-
So here’s where I was in March, 1972, i.e. at the forks in the road:
Just out of the Army.
Biggest wad of cash I’d ever had in my life from separation pay.
Best physical shape of my life. The four months of basketball had me in shape.
That spring and summer I thought about what to do next. (Mostly I just got high…)
Four of five months later I was in college at southeast mo st in cape girardeau.

If I time travel back to 3/20/72, here’s my W/S/C:
I woulda found a job as a roadie for a band.
At 23 I coulda done some lifting and hauling and traveling.
When I’m dreaming big, I imagine that I am packing it up and tearing it down in 1972 on Jackson Browne’s first national tour.
I never did sleep all that much, and in my 20’s I’d have considered anything over 150 hours of shut-eye a month excessive. I woulda loved being the first to come and the last to leave.
Just think—if I woulda landed on his road crew in 1972 I coulda been rolling cases and lifting amps and one of the guys he was singing about 5 years later when he released “Load out.”

There is a site that features “song meanings provided by the songwriters themselves.”
They attribute this to Jackson Browne: “”The Load-Out” is a love song to the audience and the crew. I was always tight with certain members of the crew – my manager used to be my crew chief; he used to tune guitars. They always took care of you. Then this one turns into “Stay” – on that, we’re actually asking the audience to stay, because we don’t want to stop playing.”

Just think—it coulda been awesome—or a disaster.
Most likely I woulda been dead before “Running on Empty” was released.
Discipline has never been my strong suit and I do have a tendency toward excess.
I mighta tried to keep up with Warren Zevon slamming back booze.
I coulda been sharing downers with Phyllis Major and ODed too.
Or I coulda been hit by a bus.
-=-=-=
A few Realities:
1. The reality is that I woulda done lots of things differently in Cape Girardeau, but I have absolutely no regrets about that choice. I had good times at SEMO. I have great memories from those days. I have friendships from those days that I cherish.
2. The odds of some guy like me getting a job as a roadie for anybody woulda been slim. The odds of it being for J.B? Not a chance. It’s a nice little fantasy tho.
3. And I’ll always be baffled by people who “wouldn’t have changed anything.” Really??

Scamming the man…

I didn’t put on fatigues for over four months while I was stationed at Ft. Bragg. I got paid to play basketball. It seemed surreal at the time.

We had a new first sergeant. He was an airborne ranger. He wanted to turn our company of misfits in First Psyops at the JFK Center for Military Intelligence into a lean, mean fighting machine.
He had us doing calisthenics in the parking lot and running several miles in formation five mornings a week.

I developed a very painful case of shin splints. Climbing steps to the 3rd floor of the barracks hurt like hell. Running was out of the question.

I went to the infirmary and got what the Army calls “a Profile.” It qualifies a soldier in six areas: physical condition, upper extremities, lower extremities, hearing, sight, psychiatric.
My lower extremities were not good. There was swelling and pain.
The six month Profile exempted me from the calisthenics and the running,

When “Profiles fall-out” was called at morning formation the group included me, my friend who told me to get the Profile, and several over-weight lifers. For the next hour, while everyone else worked up a sweat, we went on “police call” i.e., we picked up litter.

After a few weeks with no running on concrete, my shin splints were healed, but I decided that I would milk the Profile.
However there was a downside: I had to stop playing basketball on the court next to the barracks. If I was seen shooting hoops, my early morning strolls would be replaced with jumping jacks, squat thrusts, push-ups, and 4 mile runs.

I stayed off the basketball court as long as I could.
I finally decided it was safe to do some shooting by myself early on weekend mornings.
One Sunday a guy came out of the mess hall and came over to talk.
First words out of his mouth: “Nice shooting….are you trying out tomorrow for the team?”

I had no idea what he was talking about. What team??
I asked him some questions. He answered them all. Turns out that Jack was from Kansas City…and he was the assistant coach.
He was optimistic that I would make the cut.
I told him about my Profile.

“If you make the team, head to the Infirmary and ditch the Profile.”
“But then I’ll be back to push ups and road runs!”
“Nope. We skip morning formation and head to the gym.”

I made the team.
The doc did his thing and toasted the Profile. It was a miracle!! Shin splints gone just as basketball season was about to start!
I told my friend the company clerk that I was on the battalion team.
We came up with a plan, and the scam began.

Jack was married and lived off base. After practice he and I would go to his place to shower and eat lunch. Then he would go to work.
The plan and the scam: I had Jack drop me off at the USO after lunch for the next month. I would read newspapers and magazines, shoot pool and play ping pong all afternoon or head to the PX to see if there were was any new vinyl.

That scam only lasted about a month, but it worked like a charm.
And then my not having to “break starch” became legit.
The battalion season ended.
I tried out for…and made…the brigade team.
I didn’t have to hide at the USO anymore. My full-time Army job was now playing basketball.
I was the only guy on the brigade team who hadn’t been on a college team. Our best player, Vann Williford, had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He played at NC State and had been named MVP of the ACC Tournament the year before.

The brigade season ended and the next step up was the Ft. Bragg team. Vann talked me into trying out. I didn’t make the travel team, but being a practice dummy was my job for another month or so.

By the time the season ended the first sergeant had given up on whipping First Psyops into shape.
I went back to work as a process photographer in the print shop, locking the door to my darkroom and replying “I’m developing film” anytime there was a knock.
That scam worked well too.

Memory Quilt: Part 4 of 4

I sure wish I’d been keeping a journal “back in the day.” It would help me nail down some of the tees in the memory quilt with more specificity.
I have started a journal several times. It only “took” once. That was in the journal that I started on October 26, 2012, which starts this way: “this will be page 1 of my journal. I need to start writing every (or at least “most every”) day. We’ll see how I do. Discipline is not my strong suit.”
It’s just one more woulda/shoulda/coulda…

Ron Jon Surf Shop (2002)
We were living at the first place that we lived in Tampa.
Paula, Joseph & Caroline headed for Cocoa Beach to meet up with relatives from Missouri.
My road warrior days were at their peak. I couldn’t get away, other than via Delta or US Airways.
My souvenir was this tee.

Margaritaville—Cayman Islands (2008)
Paula and Caroline went to the Cayman Islands for a gymnastics meet, using some of my frequent flier miles. (Back when they were worth something…)
I have never been to the Caymans.
This is another souvenir from a trip that I never went on.
The tee shirt got a lot of use.
But like many light colored tees, I spilled coffee, chocolate sauce and probably some drool on it, making it an around-the-house tee until it got a place in the memory quilt.

Dr. Seuss nightshirt (2009)

This was a Christmas present from Caroline.
I spilled lots of early morning coffee on it. Some jelly and apple butter too.
It got torn in a couple of places and the tears kept getting bigger and bigger.
Finally it got put into safe keeping. I was never gonna throw it away. Ever.
Thanks to the Memory Quilt it will always be with me.

  

USF Dad (2011)
Another present from Caroline.
I’ll always remember the day that she and I walked around campus together. I told her that I was envious.
She wanted to know why. It was easy: I loved college. If I coulda made a living going to school, I’d still be “working.”
I made the tactical error of helping a friend sling paint wearing this tee.
The shirt suffered. Bigly.
It never recovered.
But I like where it is now. I especially like the heart-shaped stitching.

Table Rock Lake shore clean-up (2012)
My sister and her husband moved from the prairie of central Illinois to the Little Aunts Creek arm of southwest Missouri’s Table Rock Lake in 2008.
In early July 2011 I moved into their spare bedroom. Three months later I was in an apartment at The Abbey in Springfield. I’m still there, in a different apartment down the hall.
Paula and I “made up” soon after she kicked me out.
I was a bad influence on Don.
Go figure.
Seems like my quest for sex, drugs and rock-n-roll was just a bit much.

RE the shore clean-up tee itself.
I have never actually participated on the official day.
But I always spend some of my lake shore time picking up the trash that some asshole tossed. (Those pathetic littering pricks should be subjected to my “Reverse Rapture.”)
And Paula&Don always reward me with a tee each year.  

Rock House “classic” (2013)
This is not the first R.H. tee that I’ve bought. That would be the orange “classic.” That one is in worse shape than the one in the quilt, however I’m not ready to stop wearing it. Someday it will probably be in a quilt.
I didn’t tell Kathy where to place any of the tees.
She picked the perfect place for this one.

 

Rock House Summer Music Festival (2015)
It was my 4th year back in Missouri.
My fourth R.H. Festival.
It was the first festival after the party got too big for Bruce&Jeanette’s backyard.
I got myself a couple of tees…and even got Violet and The Undercurrents to sign the back of one of them.
I was still just “one of the crowd” back then.
Now I’m the treasurer for the 501(c)(3)…another one of the many good things that have happened to me since I first stepped foot into 41 High Street, Reeds Spring, MO.    

Mexican Villa/Springfield Cardinals (2017)
I love a good silent auction. This tee was included in a bundle of goodies from the Mexican Villa.
I have never been inside any of the Mexican Villa locations. (None of the “goodies” were for meals.)
I have never been to a Springfield Cardinals game.
I have never even been inside the gates of Hammons Field.
Maybe someday I’ll eat at the Mexican Villa.
Maybe someday I’ll take in a Double A game here in Springtown.
But whether that happens or not, I really like the color that this tee adds to my Memory Quilt.
I especially like the birds and the bat.


-=-=-=

There you have it.
18 Tees in a Memory Quilt.
Some stories.
Some that I will never forget.
Some that are more than a bit foggy.
Some memories are noticeably missing, e.g. somehow none of my Oregon State tees made it into the quilt. WTF??!!
Next time.  Next Memory Quilt.

Memory Quilt: Part 3 of ?

In 1989 we moved to Sarasota…and became parents.
I was now managing tax software projects for AA&Co.
Same company. Different job. Different culture (or lack therof…).

It’s a doody (1989) 

 
I have no idea who gave me this tee shirt, or when I got it. But it was before Joseph arrived on 12/30/89.
We had been married 14 years when out-of-the-blue Paula announced that she wanted to have a child. I was surprised. Shocked is more accurate. I was 40; she was 37.
We decided to keep it a secret in case there were complications.
And boy-oh-boy, did we keep it a secret!!

There were a couple of going away parties in Portland that May. It was her first trimester. She didn’t have a drink, and a few people noticed and commented. But that was easy to explain: she was my designated driver. Only a handful of people knew what was on the horizon.

We didn’t tell our parents until after Thanksgiving.
Keeping it a secret from them had a reason at first: we wanted to ride all the roller coasters at Six Flags that May of 89, and we knew that it would freak out both of our mothers if they knew she was pregnant. (The doctor had given her the go ahead.)
Then it became a joke. We would laugh about what we’d say to them when they “forgot” his birthday.

When I finally broke the news, my Mom didn’t think it was all that funny.
“Mom, I’ve got some news…we’re gonna have a baby!”
“Oh, oh, oh…that is wonderful. When?”
“In just over a month…” was greeted with stony silence.
She got over it..in time.

The delivery didn’t go as planned. Her water broke before sun up. She insisted that I go to work anyway.
Early afternoon she called and said it was time to head to the hospital. I had a boom box and a few mix tapes for the birthing room.
Paula spent the next few hours on a gurney in the hall, attached to some monitors. All the birthing rooms were taken. In fact all the rooms in the maternity ward were occupied. It was awful.
She was moved to a traditional room for awhile, and finally to a birthing room. She dilated to 4 cm and no more…for hours!! At some point she decided she had had enough of this “natural child birth” and gave permission for an epidural.
It never happened.
Before the anesthesiologist arrived, one of the monitors went berserk: the fetal heart rate was crashing.

They spirited her off for an emergency C section, leaving me standing in the hall. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. My mind was racing….I was scared shitless.
An hour later I saw them both. She was asleep. He had 10 fingers, 10 toes and a gleam in his eye.
It was all good.

She had to stay a couple of nights. I snuck a bottle of champagne into the hospital for new year’s eve, On the drive home, after I struggled to get him into the car seat for the very first time, was when it really hit us: our lives had changed. And we had no idea what we were doing!!

Seventeen months later Caroline showed up. Straight to the birthing room. Vaginal delivery. 10/10/gleam.
Two kids in diapers is great fun, eh?

AATTG Beach Party (1993)
This was the first office-wide beach party in Sarasota for AATT-whatever.
My Tax Director team had been having “release parties” since I first transferred from Portland in ‘89. We had some fun times at a tiki hut bar at Azure Tides Resort.
The party at Nokomis Beach was OK…but couldn’t compete with those flings at Azure Tides.
I got this tank top because I was on the beach party committee.  

Stressed out in South Carolina (1995) 

 
We took a family road-trip to Myrtle Beach.
I kept getting sucked back into what was happening…or not happening…at the office.
E-mails. Phone calls. Conference calls.
We stopped somewhere in S.C. for potty breaks and snacks.
This was before cell phones. (Thank you baby Jesus!!!)
I called into the office on the incoming Watts line. (Remember pay phones and Watts lines??)
The three of them came out of the 7-11 with this tee for me.
I loved it.
I still do.
This tee had been threadbare for awhile, tucked away in a box like most of the shirts in my memory quilt.
Now it is where it belongs.

1041 Summer Project (1995)
Things were always changing in SRQ.
AATT-whatever had a new name. Again.
I had a new job: Director of Development for the Individual market.
My years of reporting to Chicago were over.
My direct boss was in the same building as me, but there was still this crazy “matrix management” nonsense.
My involvement with this project was minimal: get them the staff and the tools they needed, and get out of the way.
The team rewarded me with a tee shirt and a project that delivered quality and delivered it on time.

Tee shirt gap
I left AATT-whatever in 1996 and moved back to Portland.
No tees from my time at Stockamp & Associates. But there are some denim shirts that might make Quilt #2, if/when there is one.
No tees from my time at Jackson Hewitt.
I burned any article of clothing that would ever make me think of Sport Clips.
The shirts from years beginning with a two are up next time….

Memory Quilt: Part 2 of ?

Up next: the Andersen years in PDX.

AA &Co. doors (1982)

In May, 1982 I started in the tax division of the Portland, Orygun office of Arthur Anderson & Co. It was the biggest of the then “Big 8.” AA&Co. was born in 1913 and expired on August 31, 2002 after being convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to its audit of Enron.

I was 33 years old in May of ’82 with a “post-bacc” in accounting from Oregon State University.
The “typical” AA&Co. hire was fresh out of college, 22 years old and starting in the audit division, or just out of law school or a Masters of Tax program and assigned to the tax division.
I was older. My course of study was non-traditional.
And my overall GPA, including my 3 years at a junior college where I amassed a 2.3, was not up to snuff by AA&Co. standards. Not to mention that before campus interviews in the fall of 1981 I didn’t own a suit or tie, had shoulder length hair, a scraggly beard, wore mostly denim and tie died tees. And even though I had “slowed down” I still drank lots of homemade wine, and smoked lots of dope.

I wasn’t an officer in Beta Alpha Psi or Alpha Kappa Psi. I wasn’t even a member.
People at the school of business and in the career center were shocked when they saw my name on the sign up sheet for interviews with the public accounting firms.
The shock increased when the word got out that I was one of few to get an house interview with Andersen.
You coulda knocked a lot of people over with a feather when they heard that I had an offer to go straight into tax at AA&Co.
I was one of those shocked and surprised people.
-=-=-=-=
On my TriMet bus rides that May of ’82, after my first few days in the office and after meeting most of the other 50+ people in the tax division and comparing “pedigrees,” the voice in my head was very active:
“What the fuck have you done this time? What the fuck were you thinking?!?”
“Good fucking luck lasting the 2 years you need to be certified!!”
“What exactly does “Marine corps of the Big 8” fucking mean?”

One of the selling points of AA&Co. was the training facility in St. Charles, Illinois. First year tax staff spent a week there attending “Basic Tax.”
“Code and Regs” for each of the 20 of us sitting around a horseshoe formation. Before my first day in the Portland office I had never touched either of them.
It was intense in St. Charles. A room full of lawyers and M.T.’s trying to impress each other….and me wishing I was invisible.
The voice in my head was very active with lots of F-bombs that first week in St. Charles.

A pair of mahogany doors that represented “confidentiality, privacy, security and orderliness” were the entry to every floor of every AA&Co. office worldwide.
I expected that I might be hawking doors sometime soon, after a quick washout, so I bought this tee.

My career at AA&Co. was non-traditional too. I had an affinity for spreadsheets and microcomputers at just the right time.
Somehow I lasted over 14 years at Andersen….seven years in Portland and seven in Sarasota.
Go figure.

-=-=-=
Oregon Symphony (1987)

I was promoted to manager on June 1, 2016.
A manager’s primary responsibility: Bill & Collect.
A manager was also responsible for quality control, client relationships, staff development, tax technical expertise…and NETWORKING (ugh?!?).

Networking meant civic involvement in some shape or form.
In many cases that involvement meant JOINING.
I have never been a joiner. Not then…now now…never. And networking ain’t ever been my thing either.
However none of the above responsibilities were optional.

The office had a list of “opportunities” for new managers.
Often these were targeted, e.g. “we’d like to develop a relationship with the leadership at Wilson Widget, and they are active in ‘fill-in-the-blank’ ”
Or they might be volunteer opportunities for worthy causes.

I picked two worthy causes that sounded good to me, didn’t involve “joining”…and that met my responsibility requirement for the rest of time in PDX: Junior Achievement and the Oregon Symphony.

1. JA got me out of the office for 4 hours a week during office hours. There were 20+ other corporate volunteers. We were assigned to a school, where we would work with a teacher and their class to develop a business plan for a product chosen by the students. It included selling the product and producing financial statements.
There was a competition between the 20+ volunteers, based on net profit generated.
My JA experience is mostly a blur.

2. I was a “fund raiser” for the Oregon Symphony.
Each year I was given a list of previous donors and targets. My task was to call everyone on the list and ask for money.
I was also expected to come up with some $$ from people who weren’t on the list.
I exceeded my goal both years.
I got tickets to the symphony.
I saw Yo-yo Ma and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

And I got this nifty tee.

-=-=-=

Next time: Andersen days in Sarasota. And kids.

Memory Quilt: Part 1 of ?

Eighteen tees.
Eighteen stories.
Some stories longer than others.
Some of the stories more meaningful than others, as to who I was and who I am.
Thanks to a friend for the idea. Thanks Harry Styron.
Thanks to his law school friend for transforming a bunch of shirts, ages two to fifty-one, into a colorful quilt. Thanks Kathy Tibbits.

Gonna break the telling into thousand word (or less) pieces.
It starts with hoops…

MAJC #1 (1968)

I was 5’10 and 140 pounds my senior year in high school. I changed high schools every year. I never made the basketball team in high school. In fact, the first team that I tried out for and “made” was at Ft. Bragg in 1971. (There is a story there….)
I added 4 inches and 40 pounds the summer after I graduated h.s. and started to come out of my shell.

I could shoot. I had good mechanics and form. I had quick hands. But I was skinny and puny…and an unassertive, introverted wallflower. My introversion resulted in lots of alone time growing up. Just me, a hoop and a basketball. I spent lots of time shooting a basketball all by myself.

At Mineral Area Junior College in Flat River, MO I made friends with a few of the guys on the juco team. I made friends with several local guys who had been good high school players. They put me on their intramural team.
I was not the best player on the intramural team that took the trophy at MAJC. But I was the most improved. I was never a scorer. I was a shooter.
(Note that my alone time after high school…and there was lot of it my first two years of college…added a fourth component: whiskey. Many afternoons I’d slam a few shots and take a couple-of-hundred jump shots on the blacktop court at Emerson Elementary School…where I had attended kindergarten. Over 30 years later I learned that my uncles knew about my jack-and-jumpshots time. )

There wasn’t a 3 point shot then, but in rhythm from 21 feet I could be deadly. And I had become fearless on the court. I liked guarding bigger guys; loved blocking out; liked to bump and bang.

Back “in the day” there was a thing called “town team basketball.” It was more than just a bunch of guys shooting some hoops and drinking beer. There were tournaments. There were sponsors. It was competitive and physical, especially the one held in Bismarck, MO. Lots & lots of bumping and banging.

In the spring of 1968, 7 of the guys who had played on the Mineral Area team the past 2 seasons got a team together. Most of them went on to play at 4 year colleges. I’m not quite sure to this day why they asked me to play on their team. I think they just needed an eighth to make the count even. Plus there was the shooting…. and the 5 hard fouls that I had to give.

I was mostly a practice dummy on the Blake Mattress Company team. But I always got some playing time, even in the finals of the Bismarck tournament. It was a barn-burner….and one of my favorite memories.
A few of the guys I played intramural ball with were in the stands at the finals. Somebody asked them “aren’t all those guys from the college team?”
“Yeah, except for that guy with the ball…”
And right then I buried it. On the next trip too.
I had 4 of our 103 points.
And a heckuva memory.

-=-=-=-=

MAJC #2 (1972)

I was fresh out of the Army. My brother had just finished his two years on the team at MAC. Seven of them got a sponsor and entered the tournament at Bismarck.
Once again I was the only member of the team who hadn’t been on the local juco squad.

That team made it to the finals too. But no first place trophy.   

-=-=-=-=

walkinback (1980)

This tee shirt was a Christmas present. It “commemorated” a trip to Pamelia Lake, in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness of Oregon.
We had hiked to the beautiful lake at the foot of 10,497 foot Mt. Jefferson a few times before. It’s only 2.3 miles from the parking lot to the lake’s shoreline. Elevation gain of about 800 feet.
The hike had always been very pleasant, ending with snacks, weed and wine.

The tee was in remembrance of a cross-country ski experience.
Not all that pleasant for me…on my way in or out.

Four of us on the trek: my ex, and my two friends who had grown up in Wisconsin. Paula and Jim were both naturals on cross-country skis. Kevin was decent. I was horrendous.
None of us remembered from our hikes how much the trail twisted & undulated. Lots of up and downs.
I was down a lot. I have no idea how many times I had to pull myself out of the snow on the way to picturesque Pamelia Lake.

I had a fairly new pair of levis on that day, and every time I fell on my ass I would leave a couple of blue marks in the snow. My friends thought it was funny. I laughed with them, as they laughed at me.
I told them that I only had about a dozen more falls left in me, and after that I would walk back.

They didn’t think I was serious.
If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t have taken my skis off for the last half mile…or at least put them back on after I learned how hard it was to hoof it.
Walking turned out to take even more effort than the falling…staining the snow levis blue…and dragging my clumsy self back to vertical.

But if I had skied back to the parking lot, rather than walking, my friends would never have given me this awesome tee shirt!!

Stressed at the boarding area at TPA

Flying cross country for a job interview can be a bit stressful, even when you know that it’s a long shot.
Add in that I had to “play hooky” for a couple of days from AATT-whatever. (The interview was before I surprised my boss with my resignation…)
That was my situation.

The interview was in Portland. I was living and working in Sarasota. I was flying out of Tampa. Not only were the connections better out of TPA, but on a day when I had “called in sick” I also thought there would less chance of bumping into someone I knew.

Wrongo.
You know what they say about best laid plans….
-=-=-=
It was an early Thursday morning flight.
The waiting area at the gate was packed.
And there sat my boss…on the same flight to O’Hare as me!!
What? The. Fuck!?!?

I didn’t panic….not too much, anyway.
I thought about changing my flights, but for several reasons that wouldn’t work….primarily because the interview spanned two days, starting with a dinner a couple of hours after scheduled touchdown in PDX.

For the next 20 minutes, until boarding, I concocted my story in case I ended up needing one. I don’t think it woulda been believable, trying to explain calling in sick and then catching a 6am flight.
Fortunately I never needed to stammer and stutter while spewing obvious bullshit.
-=-=-=
The boss was flying first class, which meant that I had to walk right past him to get to my seat. I had flown on the same plane with him enough times to know that he usually went to work as soon as he got into his seat.

That’s what he was doing this morning. He had his head down, a stack of printed out e-mails on the tray, a pen in his hand.
He was focused.
I managed to sneak by him on my way to my seat several rows from the back of the plane.
I was holding my breath, with my fingers crossed, as I got past him and into coach as quickly as I could.
When the plane landed in Chicago I was in no hurry to get into the terminal.

I guess I musta been living right.
Or more likely: I was just very, very lucky.
-=-=-=
At our weekly one-on-one the following Monday, his first question was “How are you feeling?”

“I was really nauseous last Thursday morning, but I was feeling better by later in the day. And I still had a bit of ‘nervous stomach’ on Friday.”

BTW, a couple of months later, after some follow-up interviews…and after I had given my notice at AATT-w…I got the job in Portland.

Things that survived the move to MO: Part Two

 

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning. I’m calling it “packing to move.” I don’t plan on going anywhere soon, but I wanta get a head start for when that day does come.

On Wednesday I went through the 2 drawers of my nightstand. I shredded or recycled about a foot-and-a-half tall stack of stuff.
I came across quite a few gems. Mostly cards with notes in them, several letters and some thought-provoking goodies that will continue to move with me, whenever and wherever that might be.
One of the goodies was credit-card sized. It has moved cross country three times since 1996. It reminded me of why I left AATT-whatever.
I loved most of my time at Arthur Andersen & Co.
I hated some of it.
But “Core Values” was taking it too far.
More on that later….


Friday I went through my closet. I’m not a big “shoe guy” but 9 pair will have new owners soon.
I’ve used the “reverse hanger” approach the past few years. Almost everything left in my closet after adopting this annual exercise is something I wear often, or which falls into the “I could never get rid of that…let me tell you a story” category.
The shirt that I wore the day that I surprised my boss in Sarasota with an out-of-nowhere resignation hasn’t been worn since 1996. It falls into the latter bucket.

Paula (my ex) knew that I planned to give notice at my weekly one-on-one with the office managing partner. She sorta freaked when she saw what I put on that morning: the red, white and blue recruiting shirt for what was then called “Arthur Andersen Technology Solutions”…proudly displayed on the shirt. (“AATT-whatever” had gone thru several name changes in the 7 years that I had been in Floriduh.)

The other verbiage on the shirt: “Make the right choice.”

Her: “You can’t have that on when you tell him that you’re quitting! What the heck??”
I told her:
1. He won’t even pick up on it.
2. Plus I’ve already got an answer, but I don’t expect to get the opportunity to use it. (I didn’t.)

Her: “Yeah? So what are you gonna say when he comments on the shirt and the slogan?”
“It’ll be short. Direct. And accurate.”

The reply in my head: “Good things come in threes, Rodger. I made the right choice when I accepted the offer to come to work for Andersen in 1982. I made the right choice to accept the transfer to Sarasota in 1989. And now I’m making the right choice for me and my family.”

I honestly don’t remember much of the conversation after I dropped the bomb. I didn’t have a job lined up. I had a resume on the street, and had even had a long-shot interview (there is a story there).
He offered to help me with my job search. He did. I ended up with a couple of options that would have kept me at Andersen. But I knew that 14+ years was enough.
-=-=-=-
Those “Core Values” just didn’t ring true. I was expected to be the evangelist to 150 people…selling what was on the credit card. Couldn’t do it.
The 5 components: Integrity; Commitment to quality results; Balance; Initiative; Interdependence.
Who could argue with those 5?
Me. Bigly.

He wanted to know what lead to my decision. We talked about a few specifics regarding how the words on the credit card meshed (or didn’t!) with the reality at AATT-whatever. I’m not sure if we talked about all 5.
We did focus on 2 of them.

I started with Integrity. “We say what we think and we do what we say.”
Arthur Andersen founded the firm in 1913. The motto “Think straight, talk straight” was taught to him by his mother.
I was on the periphery as the “Core Values” were developed. My position when I was asked to comment: this definition is ridiculous…it should simply be “think straight, talk straight.” I lost.
I told him that I was was leaving because: politics is one thing; back-stabbing is another. Saying one thing and doing another, especially by “leaders” was unacceptable. It had turned cut throat, and I was getting out.

Then we talked Balance: “We balance multiple demands on our lives, including personal and work, individual and team, current and future opportunities.”
What total Fucking bullshit that was.
Teamwork for the last year or so had been merely lip-service….and I didn’t see that changing.
Personal life? What a novel freaking concept.
Our kids were 5 and 6. I was working 80 hour weeks. Too much road warrior time. And then all the war inside the building?
Adi-fucking-os.
I was gonna find some balance.

I got lucky. I found it at a company that got me back to Orygun for four years.
Earlier I wrote about an epiphany that lead me to walk away from that position too.

Above I wrote that I hated some of my time at Andersen, and I did. But I learned a lot, and two things I learned: don’t let heavy inertia win; don’t let a job make your life miserable.
Change it; live with it; or leave it.

I like what Dawes says in “Quitter”:
“Quit wasting my time because pretty soon you’ll find
It’s the only thing of value that we own
You’re gonna have to quit everything, until you find one thing you won’t…”

 

The Peon’s Court

I am not in the least bit ashamed to admit to my guilty pleasure: for the past several years on most weekdays I have lunch with a hot Latin redhead. On Friday’s I get lucky when my hot Hawg-loving girlfriend makes it a threesome.
Yes…I watch “The People’s Court” with Judge Marilyn Milian (“the hottest judge on television”) at noon on KOZL, channel 27 here in Springfield. MO. Shelly joins us most Fridays.

I am proud of the fact that one of the highlights of my 14 years with Arthur Andersen revolves around that TV show.
The People’s Court made it’s debut in mid-September of 1981. I was finishing up my last quarter at Oregon State. Back then I was eating lunch with Judge Wapner. Until I moved to PDX and became a cube rat at AA&Co. in May of ’82, I watched that show most days.

Flash forward 4 years to June of 1986.
I was 1 of the team of 10 new managers in Andersen’s Portland office: 5 consultants (system nerds); 1 auditor (bean counter); and 4 tax geeks (including me).
We were charged with providing the entertainment for the first evening of the Partner/Manager Retreat…where we worked hard and played hard…like every day at AA&Co.
Roasting senior managers and partners was part of our charge…which had an element of risk. Some of those in the audience weren’t known for their sense of humor, especially at their expense….
We pow-wowed a couple of times and came up with several activities.
The highlight of the evening was “The Peon’s Court.” We had three skits, roasting the leaders of each division.

In each skit my friend Dave Evans played the role of Judge “Hairy” Demorest…including wearing a shaggy wig to emulate the office managing partner’s hair style.

At the retreat, as we started our skits, Harry was flanked in the back row by a couple of “big unit” partners. We didn’t know that members of the firmwide board of partners would be in the audience. If we had known, we might have toned it down quite a bit. But probably not…

For the life of me, I cannot remember the skit roasting the audit division leadership. But the other 2 are etched deep into my memory.

I played Hank Laun in “Asleep at the close” in the second skit.
The head of the Portland consulting division was a class act. Everyone liked Hank Laun. Our skit was based on something that apparently had happened on more than one occasion as he was wrapping up a candidate’s in-office interview.
My script read something like this: Feet up on the desk. Ask a softball question. Hands behind your head. Close your eyes. Lean back in your chair. Toss another softball. Snore a bit. Fall over backwards. Hop up…shake hands…and ask when the candidate can start.
The crowd roared. Hank loved it. Everyone did.

The head of the tax division (my direct supervisor) was named Brian Murphy. He was about five-six. He was never around. This was before cell phones. Getting ahold of him was challenging.
And his writing made the tweeting twit in the oval office seem like a Pulitzer prize winner.
I played the role of prosecuting attorney.
We charged Brian with “premeditated murder of the English language.” We tried him “In absentia.” Mike Morgan played the role of Brian and testified via phone….on his knees he wasn’t much shorter than our HOTD.

I presented three key pieces of evidence: 2 memos to the entire Tax Division that Brian had written, and one letter to a client. I displayed them on the big screen….including all of my edits and editorial comments. I was BRUTAL!! (what a shock, eh?)
Misspelled words. Run-on sentences. Incomplete sentences. Fubar punctuation. One of the memos was three-fourths of a page long….and one paragraph. I bled all over all three pathetic docs.

I caught the reactions from the guys sitting next to Harry as I was “making my case.” The audit mucky-muck leaned over and said “this is a joke, right?” Harry just smiled….and said “no. that is a real memo.”
I probably shouldn’t have included the client letter. The high-unit consultant’s reaction was almost exactly the same as my client’s when he received the letter from Brian that announced he was going to be the engagement partner.
The first words I heard from my client Mike when I answered the phone: “What the fuck is this? Who the hell is this guy? Did anybody proofread this word salad shit?”
That evening at the retreat, the words from George Shaheen (google him!) to Harry: “Are you fucking kidding me?!?” HLD just smiled that smile.
Brian laughed that night. But I don’t think he loved it like most folks in the crowd did.

The rest of that evening is a blur.