23 July, 2015

Superstition and Tradition

Pictured left is my second round of drinks as a paid freelance journalist in Louisville.

Nothing fancy. Just my usual round of Miller Lite and Maker's Mark. This combination has been my bar drink of choice for longer than my second marriage lasted. My older brother, whose tastes are far more refined but who can drink with the best of them when the mood strikes him, is always a little sickened by my choice of combinations.

I was feeling a little squirrelly last night after a days of spending my days in the basement, sitting at the desk, working. I love the solitude, love the pace of the work I do -- gig based and sporadic as it feels at the moment -- but sometimes I need to get out. As Amanda understands and is extraordinarily patient about, it's not even about being social. Unless I'm meeting friends, I don't even socialize all that much.

The best way I know how to explain it is that sometimes I just need to swim around in a reasonable crowd of normal people who are not me, my books, my stringed instruments, the dog, or the cat. And sometimes I need a good bar with an uncomplicated air to find the ground. I need a place where I can be quiet and still feel like I've socialized.


I've established myself in a neighborhood watering hole that meets all the requirements set forth my pre-established Rules For Not At Home Drinking*.  And although I don't see the inside of a bar as much these days thanks to "the gig life" and the general financial burden that is summer (Thanks engrained academic schedule!), I felt it was important to go and have a  round or three out of the first check I earned as freelance journalist here in River City.

This was as much about wanting to see the inside of a familiar bar as it was superstition. In my last gig as a freelance muckraker -- with the The Prairie-Advocate out of Lanark, Illinois -- the first thing I did when I got paid was walk up to the local watering hole (there were two at the time and I was strongly discouraged by my  now ex-wife from walking in to one...  she called it, not incorrectly, "the redneck meat market") and have a beer and a shot. Bourbon is hard to find that far north, so I made do with a shot of Jack** and stuck to beer after that.

Drinking to inaugurate a new gig is something I see as crucial to the success of that gig. I did the same with first checks from teaching gigs in my 30's and still do in my 40's. I did the same from checks from day labor and factory/warehouse gigs in my 20's.  I will admit to a certain superstitious bent, but that's only because once money rolls in on the regular or semi-regular, it is immediately gobbled up in that bottomless pit called Bills and Other Unsavory Obligations.***

I had more reason to celebrate this gig check, though. When Amanda and I were first talking about me moving to River City and setting down some roots, I wasn't planning on going back to teaching. My Plan was to try and wow some of the local media with my portfolio of news writing. My Plan was that maybe I'd wiggle my way into some freelance work, and start building a fresh portfolio upon which I could build a livelihood out of writing. I don't really consider myself hampered by the fact that I don't have a degree in journalism (I did minor in it once upon a time). But I did find, on first pass, that not having a journalism degree in a medium-sized market as problematic as not having an MFA when you're applying for creative grants.

Sometimes editors, publishers take the absence of a specific degree personally. So my foray into the Louisville journalism scene didn't pan out. Initially.

But, as I am often reminded, everything is about timing.

Talking with Amanda about moving here and writing for LEO was the beginning of  this new and happier chapter in my life. In case you didn't know this about me, in addition to being somewhat superstitious, I'm also a touch sentimental about certain important things. Although I know that this gig is only prelude to something else and life moves forward, it reminds that 1) I really do like writing about news and think good, researched journalism matters, and 2) the Universe is sometimes very kind to me... and even looks out for me from time to time.

So, Sláinte ^ , Dear Friends and Readers.

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* Rules For Not At Home Drinking, codified and approved 2004, Cincinnati, OH. 1) Do not drink more than stumbling distance or not more than a 30 minute bus ride (no transfers) from home without having a ride. 2) Do not drink more than 5 shots of bourbon in a two hour period, regardless of how good or how empty the mood. 3.) Hydrate regularly. 4.) Eat properly 5.) Be safe.
** Any drinking rules I have get altered when Jack Daniels gets involved. Say what you will, but different liquors hit me differently... and the last time I went on a Jack induced bender I ended up getting hit... and hitting other people. Something in that Tennessee swill raises the temperature of my blood to an unpleasant degree. I take this as proof that I am, at least physiologically, in the right state now.
*Or, THE DEVIL INCARNATE
^ Gaelic for 'Good Health' or 'Last one to drink is a Protestant Tory.'
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