2012 Holiday Letter
Every year my mother would write one or two page letters. It would usually include a family photo or a photo of her pride and joy my son Quinn and my nephew Conner and an overview of what had happen that year. When I was a kid they were these handwritten photo copy letter and then as we entered the computer age it turned into computer printed letters. As she got older this increasingly became a struggle to get out the 150 or so letter and my sister and I became increasingly involved. First there was the photo usually taken in mid October with a photo shoot at her location of choice which ranged from living room that she shared with my sister and her son to Toad Valley Golf Course to the Fair Grounds to the Botanical Center. Then there was the printing. Either on my computer printer or special holiday prints.
I don't know how to express how much went into the details of this even down to picking out the best stamps. Then she would sit down and hand address each envelope, place a stamp on them and then took put them in the mail. My mother had a battle plan to it and for weeks on end her life revolved around the war to get the Christmas Letters out before the holiday came and went. Some years for health reason some would have to wait till January to receive her holiday wish but without fail in bad weather, good and bad health she got them out.
It kind of struck me that this was the first year that I hadn't received a single Christmas letter. Now some would say this is a expression of my social circle but I think it is just part of the changes the world is going through in the digital age. Today we seem connected more to our friends and love ones daily life then ever regardless of the distance. Mainly through social networks we get bits and pieces on their lives. The thing is that those letters of my mother's did that no amount of posts, photos, or videos could do was give you an overview of that year. In a lot of ways our family history is written in those letters. It was a mark of births, deaths, vacations, celebrations, achievements and countless other events good and bad.
So I came up with this idea of written a blog that would replace my Christmas letter and kind of an overview of all of the major events of the last year. At first this seemed like an easy task but it's kind of like when someone asks you, "What have you been up to?" You can't help but answer, "not much". However here's some of what comes to mind.
On the internet and studio side, I finished a re-build of the site you are on right now and a complete over haul of the Undergound Archives - http://underground-archives.com. As anyone who has know me or kept up with the site knows, music has always been a passion for me. In the past I've been in garage bands, promoted shows, had a cable access show that I was involved with and been a general fan for a majority of my life. The Archives has been a project I've been involved with for over 10 years now and involves gathering and archiving the history of local and underground music. It has been an increasing joyful experience to watch as the archives grew from a small list of local punk bands in the 80s to what it is today. It seems every time I think it's died off there is a new group of people that find the site and begin adding lost information.
The Axiom had entered it's 18th year piercing the people of Des Moines in March and our 13th year sub-leasing from the Skin Kitchen. The only main change that 2012 brought was the addition of accepting credit cards. As I start looking toward my 19th year piercing, I can't help but be thankful to all those wonderful clients that have kept piercing fresh, challenging and ever changing. It's strange to say but I never thought I would make it past ten years and still can't see doing anything else.
As far as music, I have to admit that I was increasingly cut back on my nights of searching out live music. There is a lot of factors that contributed to this, my age, the shift in musical styles and maybe a little bit of burn out. Though I did get to take Quinn to Flogging Molly back in June and thanks to Sophia he got to meet the band. It was his first time seeing them after years and years of being bummed that he could go to see them. Another highlight was seeing Agent Orange for the fourth time. As an added bonus, I got to share the night out with my close friend that I never see enough of Stacie.
After years of hoarding my records, I decided that it was time to part with them. I was rather filled with mixed emotions about the whole thing. In a lot of ways, my records were my most prized processions. They had gotten me through a lot of dark times and a lot of bright times but after not playing most of them in 5 or so years and the endless anxiety of worrying that something would happen to them, I decided the time had come. I always collected things I really used. Even when I was collecting vintage items, I only bought stuff I would use in daily life. It's almost with sadness that I have to admit, my record collecting ended in part due to the ease in which it is to find digital copies of Music. My listening habits are all digital. Either MP3s or streaming services like Spotify or Sony Unlimited. It's weird to think that I used to see my records as something they would have to pry from my cold dead hands but in a way, that collection defined me. I'm happy to say that a few years back I found a torn and weathered wish list, I'd made up in the late 80s and other than a Yes LA, a couple of Dangerhouse singles and a few other items, I owned everything on that list. Also it gave me the kick in my ass I needed to record those last few records. It was fantastic to hear some of those records I hadn't heard for years and to share them with Quinn. A big stand out is the Plugz stuff. I just don't understand why the material hasn't seen the light of day since the early 90s.
Fishing continues to be an interest of mine but due to the extremely hot summer and low water levels I didn't get my line wet as much as I would have liked to. Though I did get to get out with Quinn, Lanny, Seth, Kim and Conner in the spring. I can only hope that this spring is wetter than last one and it isn't so hot this coming year. One of the cool things I got from my sis Kim and Brother in Law Terry was a pole mounted fish detector. You attach this radar float to the line and then cast it out and it will tell you depth, cover and fish.
My son Quinn had a busy year breaking his arm in the spring, This is a foot brake and arm brake for those at home that are keeping score. He got his arm cast off just in time to see Flogging Molly in June, right after finishing the eighth grade and leaving Cowles Montessori where he had been since Kindergarten. Having him at Cowles and interacting with the Teachers, other Students and parents has been a great experience and one that I would suggest to anyone with younger children. He is also really active in his Church Youth Group and was in the Musical "Homeroom" this spring and was also in the Des Moines Social Club production of Bertolt Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Even though he missed most of the season due to his broken arm, he played with his soccer team the Soccer West's Commandoes at the Iowa Games and they took the gold. He hopes to play on the Roosevelt Soccer Team this spring. Also this summer I finally geared up an Agent Orange Skateboard Deck that Paul Gray had given him years ago. He has shown a great passion for skating and though he isn't the daredevil I was, may have been bitten by the same bug I was all those years ago. In September he turned 14 and started his freshmen year at Roosevelt High School. It's still odd to think that I'm the father of a kid in High School. Continuing his interests in acting, he is taking drama and also some an advance engineering course. In the future he has joined a club that will be fighting off a cyber attack from ISU computer students and the ISU Super Computer and will be taking part in the State Speech contest as an actor in a modern adaption of 'A Christmas Carol'. We still are on our Sunday Monday schedule and I have the pleasure of hanging out with him every weekend around the house we share with Lanny and his son Seth. I've always said that parenting is about time. Our time together has evolved from toys and cartoons to cooking, gaming, Skateboards, Dr. Who and etc... but I can't explain the general excitement I have every time I see him.
While sharing some of our shared passion in Skateboarding, I broke my arm in September and was out of work for 6 weeks. This is the longest I've been out in over 20 years and I have to say with a deep heart, thanks to Lanny, Kim, Terry and Debbie for not only helping me out during this time but also helping me to keep sane. With the time off it did give me a chance to go with Debbie and Conner to Kim and Terry's in Ottawa, IL. We spent a majority of the time hanging around their beautiful house and it was a great to be somewhere other than the house. We also took in the Locks on the Illinois River and spent some time at Starve Rock. It was a great break from what seemed endlessly sitting on the couch at home.
Other highlights would have to include my 12th Iowa State Fair with Quinn. We had a wonderful day with the family including Debbie, Kim, Terry, Conner and my cousin's David(who my parents named me after) and Chris Tonkinson. They have been coming over from Lincoln for a day at the fair for the last 5 or 6 years. It maybe longer but it's always great to see them and caught up. Since childhood a family outing to the fair has been a tradition. It has always been not only a day of "Seeing the Elephant" but a day to spend and re-connect with family for my family. My childhood is filled with memories of spending time with my Grandparents, parents, sisters, uncle, aunts and cousins and I'm glad that we have been able to continue this. I hope that it will only continue on for years to come. It always make me think of my mother who I don't think missed a fair from the 40s to 2009.
We also shared a day at Adventureland and the Water Park in August, a wonderful Thanksgiving and Sunday and yesterday Christmas at my sister Debbie's. We ended up opening gifts Sunday cause no one wanted to wait. It's been a year of ups and downs but it has been a good year. My health is good, I'm hanging in there and I'm looking forward to another year of doing what I love piercing and spending time with those I love.