Mama, I’m Staying Home

So, I was thinking the other day about just how much I love my hometown, which is also the current city I live in.  A LOT of people that grow up here hate it and as soon as humanly possible leave and never come back.  More power to ‘em, and call me a homer or whatever, but I absolutely love it here and I will proudly say that I don’t think that you can give me a good enough reason to ever leave.

I realize my love for the city every time I leave it when I go on a trip.  Most of the time I’m going west towards Phoenix and Las Vegas so the landscape and climate stay relatively the same.  There have been a handful of times, however, where I go outside of the desert and it trips me out.  Haha!  Not like I’m some kind of uneducated dude or whatever, but I just love the desert climate so much that I actually immediately begin to miss it the minute I’m away from it.  That happened just a few weeks ago, as I’ve mentioned, but the thing I didn’t mention about the trip to east-central Texas was about just how much I loved the drive back and not only because we were cracking wise and laughing hysterically in my truck to the obscene and insane jokes that we were coming up with.  I loved it because after going from flat green land, we were slowly going back into the mountainous terrain that has speckles of green, but not as much green as lower elevation and higher humidity places.  It sounds funny to say, but even seeing the outline of the Franklin Mountains is enough to put a smile on my face.  It’s even better when it’s nighttime and the star on the mountain is illuminated.  It reminds me that I’m home and all is right in the world.

What really sparked this blog entry, however, were the thoughts of friends and family about this place.  Funny and odd thing is that of all people, I think my old man hates El Paso almost the most.  I don’t understand it, but a few weeks ago when we attended a game of our AAA baseball team, the El Paso Chihuahuas, I told him that I wanted to step my game up and buy a jersey but couldn’t decide on which one, and I wanted to add to my hat collection (which currently stands at 1 for the Chihuahuas) and get the away cap that simply has a beautiful “EP” logo on it.  Right away, pops tells me “Ah man, I don’t want that one.  I don’t want anything saying anything ‘El Paso’ on it!  I hate El Paso! …”  I shrugged it off and said that I personally love my city and I was going to get that cap.  Thinking about it now and talking to a friend of mine, I’m now wondering why he didn’t stay at his last duty station in San Diego when he was in the military and did not reenlist.  Maybe I’ll ask him when he comes back into town from his crazy adventures and I get the chance to see him.

Thing about it is that he’s not alone in the circle of people in my life who feel similar.  I’d probably say at least half the people I know who live here would move away if they had the chance.  I wish I knew why.  It’s not as bad as they think it is… well in my opinion it’s not.  Sure you can argue that wages aren’t that high here, but my two responses to that is that a) neither is the cost of living. and b) if money is your main concern, you’ve got bigger problems and need to get your priorities straight anyway, dude.

So that’s about it.  I know it’s going to end up that I’m going to be the last of my friends standing here in El Paso, but you know what?  That’s cool, man.  I enjoy traveling and I enjoy seeing and spending time with my friends, so it will give me a reason to go and explore places.  I already have a long list of places on this planet that I need to go hit up as it is!  Australia, England, Scotland, Japan, and Italy come to mind internationally, and US wise, oh man… the state of New Hampshire, Maine, New York City, Boston, Charlotte (and try to not die of happiness visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hendrick Motorsports, and JR Motorsports), Daytona Beach, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to just name a few places.  So I have a lot of places to be, but I will ALWAYS come back home to El Paso and my dry climate, chill people, THE ABSOLUTE BEST Mexican food you will ever eat, and that star on that mountain that will always remind me of just how badass I have it here.

See y’all later!

Every Day is a Party in May

Well, man!  What a last few weeks it’s been!  As I mentioned previously, I knew it was going to be a busy month to a month and a half leading up to the band’s live album recording which we have been rehearsing for, but it has really started to hit me now at just how much time I’ve booked myself out for without any time to slow down and take a breather.  Two weekends ago I was in east-central Texas for full band rehearsals where it was crazy hot and humid one day and nice the next, then after coming back home to far west Texas to where we have low humidity weather (THANK GOD!) for a week, I had made plans to make my way out to one of the many national forests in the area where we thankfully still have low humidity weather, but I was surrounded by pine trees, warm daytime, and near freezing nighttime temperatures.  It was awesome.  Even though I was busy from around April 28th to even today, I’m so glad I took the time this past weekend to escape to the forest for some solo deep reflection on life.

Here’s where I wanted to really expand on that thought.  It wasn’t my full intention on going camping alone.  I had actually invited one of the guys in the band that was going to be sans kids, but as I thought may happen, he wanted to use that weekend to recover from the road trip on the previous weekend.  Another friend of mine was briefly going to join me, but life circumstances changed and we mutually suggested that their participation in the camping trip be scrapped.  In a moment of honesty, as much as I would have LOVED for said friends to be with me, I was equally if not happier to be going out alone.  I couldn’t wait for the way I had things lined up in my head to go down and sure enough things pretty much went according to plan.  I was able to leave work about two hours early on Friday which gave me two extra hours to set up camp in the daylight and the 3 hour drive up to the Gila National Forest was very relaxing.  I made it to the campsite that I really wanted to go to, and in an even better situation, I was the first person there to the campsite so I was able to pick the site that I wanted.  I parked my truck and set camp and got right into dinner and relaxing.  You have no idea how badly I was waiting for that moment of total peace in the wilderness with no cell signal at all and nothing else but a few books I brought along with me, my iPod, and my thoughts to keep me company.  It was beautiful.  The sun started to set as I finished up dinner on Friday night and still nobody else showed up to the 2 available camp sites.  Once I realized that I was going to be alone, an even bigger calm came over me knowing that I’d have my thoughts to myself even though I wasn’t talking out loud to myself like some kinda crazy person, but you know what I mean.  Hahaha!  It was awesome to sit in my University of Texas (HOOK ‘EM HORNS, btw!) camping chair as I let my gaze melt into the campfire.  There was so much peace that just washed over me that it’s hard to try and put into words.  Considering that I had been only getting around 5 hours of sleep each day the previous week, I knew that I was going to get tired pretty early that night so I called it an early night to allow myself to relax.  I think I got the best sleep I’ve gotten in a few months that night.  Granted my truck woke me up once, as I was using it as an alert system for me if anybody or anything came close to camp, I slept until dawn.  When I woke up at dawn, I took the time to just relax and appreciate the fact that I was where I was desperately trying to get to for months.  That victory, albeit small, gave me the motivation to just stay in bed and I fell back to sleep for another 4 hours.  It was awesome!

Saturday was no different as far as the good feelings went.  I made myself breakfast and after cleaning up and washing dishes I got to reading one of the books I took with me.  It was awesome to read in the peace and quiet out in the forest.  With the exception of the occasional bird or insect sound, the whistling sound of the wind passing through the pine trees, and the very loud laughter of mine due to Artie Lange’s insane life stories, there was complete silence.  It was beautiful!  I knew there was going to be a chance of rain and I kept seeing potential rain clouds pass by, but I wanted to get in my hike into the wilderness in, so I put the book down, got my hiking pole, and backpack with bottles of water ready and set off on my little adventure.  I only made it an hour in before I decided to turn back because my instincts were telling me that rain was coming and sure enough within 10 minutes of me getting back to camp the rain started falling.  I’ll tell you, if you’ve never experienced it, there are fewer things more soothing than the sound of light rain hitting a camping tent that you’re sure will stay dry inside.  I laid back on my bed and kept on reading and laughing hysterically in such a state of happiness that, man, I’ll tell you… it’s been something that I have been needing for a long time.  It was awesome!  The rain lasted about 3 hours and ended before sunset, which was cool, because I was able to start grilling dinner in the daylight, start my campfire in the daylight, and not have to be that much of an annoyance with my lantern to the two other groups of campers who had shown up during my two hour hike.  I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty victorious that night as I stared away at my campfire to know that everything was right in my world right then and there.  There were no problems, no bad feelings, nothing to think about except just how much I love the simple things like what I was doing then in life.

I slept deeply and well that night in the nearly freezing temperatures and got up the next morning relaxed and proverbial batteries recharged back to full capacity as I packed up camp and made my 3 hour journey back home.

Well, the super chill and calm that has washed over the already calm and chill I always have anyway has now caused my cleaning and organizing of all my laundry, camping gear, and camping bed to be pushed to today, Tuesday, but you know what?  I kinda don’t care.  It feels good to know that things will get done eventually but it’s not a life or death thing, you know?  My solo deep camping trip also made me appreciate all that I have in my life.  I have a kick ass life; I’m not going to lie.  I have great friends, great family, and a great life altogether that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Now, I just have to get through the rest of this week and get ready to visit my mom’s gravesite then make my way to my grandmother’s house for her delicious menudo on Mother’s Day Sunday, then get through next week before our 2nd to last rehearsal on that Saturday, then finally our live recording on May 27th the following weekend.  I’m ready for it now.  Bring on the good times!

Until next time!  I love you all!