Monday, September 26, 2005

Sometimes, I’m not the brightest of people.

On a whim, I called up Anna, and as always, I got her answering machine. I haven’t heard her voice in almost a year, I think. I’m not completely certain of that timeframe, but I believe it’s accurate. So I’m talking to her answering machine, and I say something like “I’m starting a new life in Vegas. I’m saying goodbye to a lot of things that I’ll miss. But I miss you the most – and I hope that we can be friends again. If you miss me at all, please email me, or call, or text me... If not, then I’ll try to leave you alone.”

Of course, being me, there was a lot more stammering and William Shatner like pauses, but that was the gist of it. And of course, she didn’t email me, or call, or text. Which means I have to try to leave her alone.

I rarely ever give up on anybody. Though passions may fade, or friendships grow distant, I still care very much about all my friends and lovers from the past. But that’s not normal, I think. It’s perhaps not healthy, either, since I feel a responsibility to all those I care about to try to make their lives as wonderful as mine has become. And I’m coming to grips with the fact that I can’t change anybody’s life. And I’m learning that for some people, a memory is all they want me to be.

Knowing it doesn’t make me any less sad about it, though. And I still wish I had the power to make people happier, to make their lives more meaningful, and to lift the obstacles out of their paths. And I mourn for those friends who have put me behind them. I am not grieved so much for their sakes, but for my own. My life was ever the richer when Anna was a part of it, and Andrea, and Heather, and Sarah, and Melody, and all the others that have disappeared along the way. But I am trying still to learn how to give up on them.

My life is in an interesting period of transition. I’m starting to let go of the thought of becoming famous – it seems ever less likely each year that goes by. I still have every intention of trying, but I spend less of my emotional energy in that direction. Ironically, this is happening while I am expanding my abilities musically, and my career is becoming increasingly more prosperous.

I am in Vegas, and the dueling pianists here are phenomenally good. And I’m good enough to be one of them (barely). I still have a lot of work I need to do on my show, but I’m not completely and totally out-classed (just mostly). Which is reassuring. The pay here is the best I’ve encountered, and the environment wonderful. All of the sudden, though, I’m a little tiny minnow in a huge, huge freakin’ pond.

So I have every intention of growing as fast as I can.

Last year around this time, I got an emotional charge out of walking up and down Bourbon St. in New Orleans, and realizing there weren’t a whole lot of musicians that I felt were significantly better than I was. I felt like maybe I was ready for the Big Time. Well, Las Vegas is certainly the Big Time, but walking up and down the strip, I haven’t heard a whole lot of musicians that weren’t better than me. The talent pool here is just that good. But if I can make it here, then...

The other option is playing on a cruise line. I’ve gotten an offer that is hard to turn down. So I may not. But either way, it’s looking like leaving New Orleans is going to be good for my career.

Still, I miss George and Amy a lot (fellow Pat O’s players). I miss Katie immensely, and I somehow feel in my gut that our lives are unlikely to be so close again. And there’s no denying that I had something magical in New Orleans... Living on Bourbon St., playing at the world’s most famous dueling pianos bar... It was special, and worthy of many fond remembrances.

I told Anna a little over a year ago that I was going to get in shape, and I did. I told her that I was going to take dancing lessons, and become a good dancer, and I did. I told her I was going to get my finances in better shape, and I did. I told her I was going to fix up a little apartment in the French Quarter with a courtyard, and I did. But I didn’t do these things only to impress her; they were the next step in becoming the man I want to be.

And now it’s time to set new goals, and I think I know what the next steps are. I’m going to become debt-free, and start by paying off my long delayed college loans. I’m going to continue my efforts to eat healthier, and exercise well. I’m going to learn to speak Spanish, because I think it would be highly useful. I’m going to get back into the martial arts, and possibly take up sword fighting. I’m going to continue my dancing lessons. I’m not bad, but I want to be able to take a girl Salsa dancing, and just impress the hell out of her.

These seem kind of like “New Year’s Resolutions,” which I’ve never been in the habit of making. But this is truly a new year for me. Not just an arbitrary date on a calendar, but a genuinely new beginning in my life.

The older I get, the more I cherish life, and fun, and friendship, and love. No, I don’t anticipate falling in love again. But if I do, it will have to be an incredible, incredible girl to top the ones I’ve fallen for before. So I’m going to try to become the type of man that is worthy of such a girl. If she never appears, then I’m still a better man for it.

Life seems so short, and so fragile. I want to spend every second of it growing, and becoming a better person, and enjoying each breath. That seems the only decent way to repay God for the wonderful gift of life itself. I don’t ever want to have wasted it.

You only get one shot at life, and I’m going to give it everything I have.

Talk to you later,

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hey everybody! Can't write long - I'm in the airport at a layover in Denver, flying to St. Louis to see my cousin Ben get married (traitor to the Bachelor Cause!).

I can't access my blog or accounts at the place where I'm staying. The lady I'm staying with has internet, but something about her settings makes it to where I can only access yahoo, and nothing else.

Vegas is going exceedingly well. The pianists here are FREAKIN' INCREDIBLE. They're just awesome, and everything I did in New Orleans that made me cool - they all do, and do better.

But I managed to find plenty of work, and it looks like this is definitely going to be my new home.

I was figuring it out, and unless I was either the winner or runner-up of American Idol, I'm doing better than if I'd made it onto the show. As I've continually noticed, my life never goes where I plan it, but it always goes better than I could have dreamed.

By the way, if you've never been here, Las Vegas ROCKS.

Well, I'll talk to you all soon,

Monday, September 12, 2005

Well, here it is, Monday morning.

Colorado is as beautiful as they claim. The air is so fresh that I keep going outside just to smell it. The sky is beautiful, and you can see the stars at night.

The roads suck. Well, not exactly suck; they're well constructed. They're just insane, have virtually no signs, and it's hard to get to one place from another. And the maps are all really poor. So I've started adding a half-hour to my transit time for being lost. Which gives me more of a chance to see lovely Denver, and it is really lovely.

I went to see my brother and his family last night. It was great. Amy (his wife) has apparently been either exercising a lot, eating a very healthy diet, or both - she's looking great. David is (as usual) completely on top of his game - he's up for promotion to Major, is working on a PhD, and his cadets (from all accounts, not just his) love his classes. His kids are just fantastic. Energetic, enthusiastic, but well behaved. Joe (around three years old) is obsessed with "The Incredibles." At any moment, he'll look at you and proudly proclaim "I Dash!" to which you must of course confirm that yes, he is indeed Dash. His younger brother Matthew is very friendly, and thought I was the greatest thing since... Okay, he probably doesn't have any previous great things to compare me to, except milk, nipples, and a good diaper filling. But I think I'm up there.

We went out to eat, and were able to do so with the whole entourage. It was great.

It made me realize both how much I'd love to have a family, and how unlikely it is that I will.

I'm starting to get really excited about Vegas. I've never been there, so all I have is imagination. But I've got so many ideas about ways to have a great life there. One I'm thinking about is - if I play in a Casino/Hotel, could I negotiate a room as part of my contract? It would mean I'd have to go super-simplistic on the possessions, but I can handle that! All I really want is a keyboard, computer, bed, bookshelf, and a wet bar. That'd be high living for me. And at this point, everything I own fits in a suitcase.

Of course, that's just a thought.

My brother and me were having a semi-philosophical discussion about the nature of ownership. We agreed that people in general (and sometimes including us) just have too much stuff. You spend money buying it. You spend money maintaining it. You spend money upgrading it, or getting a better one, or more of whatever it is. And then you spend all your time working to make all this money, so you don't ever have time to enjoy it, or even use it as much as you thought you would.

So I'm going to try to take this opportunity to really simplify my life. If I get my stuff back, and it's okay, then GREAT. But if not, I'm not going to replace most of it. The things I'll use every day; those I'll get. The rest I'll learn to do without.

People kept expecting me to get excited about the American Idol auditions, but it just didn't excite me. It didn't seem like a real chance, just a fluke that happened to one out of about 5,000 people (just to get on the show, that is) that tries. I prefer to base my life and my hopes on things I can actually influence, where I'll be judged on talent and skill. And that's what I'm hoping to find in Vegas. I've proven that I can fill a room and rock the crowd in San Antonio, and Austin, and New Orleans. I've proven everybody wrong who said I wasn't cut out for this biz, to where now people say "You have such a natural gift for it" - which is about the highest compliment (if a completely mistaken one) that I can be paid.

Now, can I do it in the big-time? I'm about to find out, and I'm really excited.

Talk to you all soon,

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Well, I'm officially NOT the next American Idol.

Everybody's trying to be consoling, but they don't realize I didn't have any hopes pinned on it.

I waited for hours in the sun, and finally got my thirty seconds of audition. I sang the hell out of my song, and was quite pleased. I didn't make it, obviously, but that's okay. I heard some UNBELIEVABLY good voices that didn't make it. And I heard some really crappy ones that did, and a lot of mediocre ones. It just reaffirmed my opinion that voice is the least important thing on AI.

I'm headed to Vegas on Wednesday - a really nice lady is letting me stay with her while I look for work. As I mentioned previously, Hurricane Katrina is bringing out some incredible generosity that simply boggles my mind...

Well, I must run. I'm visiting with my brother (Dave, AKA Jess).

Talk to you all soon,

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hey there - waited in line today at the American Idol auditions. Woo-hoo! Okay, not so much woo. Or hoo, for that matter. More like a big yawn, as I had to get up at 4:30 to get there on time.

The rules said that under no circumstance would anybody be allowed to line up before 6:00 am. Well, we got there at about 5:45, and there were at least a thousand people already in line, if not more.

So much for following the rules.

But I got my nifty wristband, and my ticket for a seat in the auditorium. And I also got a firsthand look at just how many people are doing this thing. It's got to be incredible luck, in addition to everything else. I've never been surrounded by so many pretty people all at once - so even with my postulate concerning the "look" of it, I still have no idea what they'll do to narrow the competition.

But I'm sure I'll find out tomorrow.

I'm hoping to get past the first round. That's as far as my hopes go. But I'm not counting on it.

Talk to you all soon, with more details. Or to be more precise, with some details.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Well, I'm about finished with my time in Nacogdoches (affectionately known here as "Nac-o-nowhere").

It's been great hanging with my friend Herb (, and he's been unbelievably helpful, as well as encouraging and even inspirational (and a few other adjectives). Due to his help, I went ahead and recorded a rough version of a song I wrote a month or two ago, called "One Shot at Life."

It was inspired by a friend of mine who seemed to live life to its fullest, until she suddenly changed all of her dreams and ambitions, and settled down with a rich doctor. Not that there's anything wrong with being married to a rich doctor; I may even do that someday. It's just that she gave up all her plans and everything she'd told me she wanted out of life.

Of course, in the process of writing the song, that went from being the focus of it to being a side-story. I can't be held responsible for what happens when I try to write songs, can I?

Anyway, Herb recorded a video of me playing and singing it in the Recital Hall of SFA, and put the video on the web. You can find it at, or - the first is faster, the second is better quality.

It's very much a ROUGH draft. The vocals are a first take (you know how that usually turns out). I'm still not completely happy with all the lyrics. And it's just currently piano, drums, bass, and fake strings. So a few months from now, I should have a polished version of it. But hey, it's something, right?

Other than that, I'm not doing too much.

I'm still just in awe of how willing everybody is to help me out. I'm trying really hard not to be a burden on anyone, but my sister and parents have sent massive amounts of help my way. My other sister and my brother have offered help. The Parrs have just put me up without complaint for two weeks. Almost everybody I know has offered to let me sleep on his or her couch until I get settled. One professor offered to buy me a new wardrobe. Strangers buy my drinks when I go to the bars (which close at FREAKIN' MIDNIGHT here!).

I'm pretty laid back and optomistic about life, but I tend to be very cynical and disbelieving when it comes to other people. But this is truly proving me wrong - it's bringing out all of the best traits of humanity. It's a wonderful, amazing thing to witness. I just wish I could be on the giving end of things, rather than the receiving.

Well, I'll let you all know what happens with American Idol (nothing, I'm sure), and Vegas (a few STDs, probably).

Take care, and I'll talk to you all soon,

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Not a whole lot of new stuff to report. Still living on Dr. Parr's couch. People are still offering incredible amounts of generosity. So far I haven't had to accept that much help, but it may change. Still flying out to American Idol auditions in a week. Should be most amusing. And after that I'm flying to Vegas to try to get a job.

My cousin is getting married in a couple of weeks - I really, really, really want to go, but I'm not sure if I can. You know, Katrina just paid no attention to my schedule. Most inconvenient.

The weird thing is that people seem to be waiting for me to break down. Maybe I should, but it doesn't seem that bad to me. I'm alive, and so is everybody I love. I'm completely healthy, and have possibilities for employment. The rest just doesn't seem like a tragedy, just a minor annoyance.

Please keep in mind; I'm not speaking for everybody who went through it, just myself. Some people are facing incredible tragedy.

And life still seems wonderful. I'm practicing Beethoven for hours every day on Dr. Parr's Steinway, and falling in love with music all over again as a result. I'd forgotten how wonderful and rich a piano could sound. It's almost better than sex. Now if only I could combine the two somehow...

I saw a game show on one of the Spanish channels, and though I have no idea why, there was a guy dressed like an evil power ranger that would do a funky dance whenever a contestant got a right answer (when they got it wrong, their parents - locking in a glass jar - would have water poured higher and higher around them). I had no idea what the show was, or what it's point was. But I couldn't help but laugh.

My family and friends have been so incredibly supportive. One of my former professors tried to buy me a new wardrobe, 'cause he felt like he should help! I couldn't take him up on it, but it was so sweet.

Anna emailed me for the first time since my birthday. I wrote her back a snarky note, wondering why it took a natural disaster to hear from her. On the one hand, it was quite immature. On the other, it felt pretty good. So she may not ever write me again - at this point, it's kinda hard to tell the difference.

So anyway, all of you please keep emailing me, if you don't mind - it's great to know you care! I can't answer all of them (I got 42 today, and I only get to be on the internet for about 30 minutes every other day), but I still like to read them!

talk to you later,

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hey there to everybody -

My apologies to all that I've talked to in the last couple of days... I wasn't exactly depressed, I just wanted to be left alone while I figured everything out.

Having said that, it's amazing how many have called. I had no idea that many people cared about me. Being all emotional, it gave me the sniffles thinking about it. I know, it makes no sense that I wanted to be left alone, but I'm glad they all called. Oh well, it's a time of crisis; I'm allowed to be inconsistent.

For those who don't know, I lost everything. My car, my clothes, my job, my apartment... If there's anything salvagable, I won't even know for a few months, since they're not letting anyone in for (last I heard) 16 weeks.

Mainly, I'll miss my job. How I loved that job.

The rest, though... It's just stuff. And I'm realizing just how unimportant stuff is. I have my family, and they're so wonderful. And I have all my friends (that called even though I was rather surly). I have people that care about me, and people I care about. So the stuff is just stuff.

On the plus side, I'm living on Dr. Parr's couch at the moment, and he has a Steinway that I've been playing about eight hours a day, and I'm in love again. I forgot how wonderful a piano can sound, and there's nothing I can feel that the piano can't make better. I love music.

I'll talk to you all soon,