Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fear of the Weather

It was late last August that I wrote a piece detailing my summer vacation, which can be read here. This was a vacation that included my new tradition of attending the LPGA’s annual visit to Portland (or North Plains – which is not very close to Portland, really) for the Safeway Classic. This event has inspired and excited me to no end since my first experience in 2010 and I wanted to share in some small way my enthusiasm and try and spread the word about these amazing golfers. Somehow this eventually turned into an invite from the LPGA itself encouraging me to write about the 2012 edition for their website’s “fan diary” section. When I first read that suggestion via email early in the morning so many months ago, I could be seen skipping through the streets like a cartoon Easter Bunny. “Why, of course, I’d love to write about the tournament,” I calmly stated back through email after waiting a few days as to not seem too freaky and come across as a sane individual (I believe I have presented a differing view if someone actually reads ‘Summerside’). Once the actual mania started to fade, two alternating beliefs have been most prevalent in my mind. The first being that I do not actually believe that this will happen, and secondly, if it were to happen – me being responsible for writing a daily log of the tournament from my perspective on a real website - that I will be completely blocked and only be able to write, at best, the most inane boring factoids about the event. Though the tournament officially kicks off this Friday (August 17th), there are already activities, practice rounds and Pro-Am’s happening out there, I am still lost between both of these worlds. For the last couple of months, my ability and ambition to write has been at a frustratingly low level, as evidenced by the old/recycled writing I’ve posted on this site during that time. And as I type these words right now, I’m not sure I actually believe that when I email whatever junk I conjure up in a few days that I will then see the material appear at LPGA.com. Despite receiving full week tournament passes for the event in an envelope marked with the LPGA logo, none of this feels possible or real.

If one were to actually read the piece I presented on August 23, 2011, they would find that I was pretty excited. I left out little fan-boy squealing details about how the pretty golfing star Paula Creamer lightly touched my shoulder as she approached a slightly wayward drive through the large gallery following her round on the 17th hole at Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek course. Life was good. I was lucky enough to fly off to Boise the prior weekend for an amazing birthday celebration for Ann and to visit with old friends, I was able to take time off from work, and I was doing what I wanted to do. In fact, the high from that weekend was contagious. I managed to carry it well into the first half of this year. It was that week where I semi-consciously decided that I had to start saying “yes” to life again. It sounds easy, but I had lost sight of that ability and had found myself floundering and living a life that mostly involved only going to work, catching up with too many television shows and rarely venturing anywhere outside of my work space and my meager apartment. I even started (semi) joking with my friends about my desire to become a shut-in. Regaining a desire to engage again filled me with energy. I found myself reconnecting with old friends and family, going out and experiencing things again, re-engaging with my passion for live music (I have seen more live music in 2012 then probably the prior three years combined!) and going to see anyone I want to despite having to work the next morning at 5 am. I have traveled more during this last year, started a regular exercise routine that had me in the best physical condition I’ve been in since the horrific run of surgeries began in 2000, and this summer I even joined a bowling league. Oh, and how can I forget the ongoing love affair with the Portland Timbers in my 11th year as a season ticket holder?  It has been a mini revival for me - an awakening from a slumber of complacency that crept in after the high of receiving a kidney transplant started to wear off a couple of years after the occurrence (and after, maybe not so coincidentally, my steroid regimen had been tapered down to a minimum). Leading up to my planned vacation for this summer, serendipitously other great activities started to line-up like last year. Two weeks ago, the Dum Dum Girls played a one off fundraiser show in Seattle and the weekend leading into my time off from work found another Seattle show featuring two great northwest bands (the Purrs, and Black Nite Crash) and especially, the Nebraska duo Drakes Hotel. These trips would offer me the chance to visit my old friend Wil and his family, and my niece and nephew. This was the type of adventure I was looking forward to.

Unfortunately, shortly after a great run of shows that ended with an amazing Dum Dum Girls set during Memorial Day weekend (story can be found here), I started to notice exhaustion setting in. At first I thought, maybe I was pushing myself too far. This was likely, so I allowed myself to slow down for a few weeks. Besides, there was a break in great shows for a month, so I wouldn’t be able to chide myself for not sticking with my big plans. It was around the 4th of July holiday, when a big gathering of great childhood friends were all to gather down at our old coastal stomping grounds to golf and shoot the shit that I realized that something else was going on. I was still feeling exhausted and fatigued. My limbs felt heavy and my body sore, as if I had recently been in a vicious car wreck. I was finding every day to day simple activity difficult and instead of getting better with extra rest, the symptoms were getting worse. It was time for my regular check-up with my excellent nephrologist, so I brought up my developing condition. She took this very seriously and immediately began running a series of labs and tests that have lasted for several weeks. This scenario has led to an irritating cycle of calling my doctor’s office for her to call me with test results (and the side effect of me developing a massive crush on her new receptionist), which have so far resulted in no diagnosis and no explanation for my decreasing energy level and increased fatigue and frustration.

photo by William Campbell

This is where I stand (or sit uncomfortably) now. Last weekend, my trip to Seattle started off promising, but due to my condition, uneventful. Wil, Carrie, the kids and I lounged around and chatted and had some laughs. Then Wil and I exited for the big show with the three bands. Upon arrival and small surge of genuine energy began to work its way through me. The anticipation for inspiring music and a new venue was growing. I was also hoping that my brother’s kids would show up. Low and behold, Chris Y from Drakes Hotel spotted us outside and came to say ‘hello’ and let us know that we were on the guest list (we met a few times when they were based in Portland a few years ago)! This was quite a surprise and an honor! The Drakes are a husband and wife duo who modestly makes amazing music. I’ve always thought that if I was a musician (and I am most definitely not), I would likely be found in a similarly small home recorded style set up. I appreciate what they’re trying to do and they do it very well. Their three albums dating back to 2007’s Tell Me Everything (there is a long lost older debut that is a greatly kept secret that I am not privy to other than via innuendo) are solid efforts that have routinely landed in my annual top albums list. Their newest offering, Logic Adopts Senses, will most likely fit this bill by year’s end. Their straightforward programmed beats and low end has always been a back drop to tasteful layers of tuneful guitar lines and Amy Drakes’ otherworldly and mysterious vocals. Normally, I would suggest that their style as two-piece would not translate well in a live setting, but they manage to exceed those expectations. As each song began a few more people approached the stage to take in the unique spectacle. Their quiet intensity grew with each song and Amy dazzled as she bounced down to her knees and back up lost in the moment and taking the few of us there with them. It’s a shame that they, as an opener only had the time to play such a short set. There were so many songs that I wanted to hear, especially after the rousing rendition of Tell Me Everything’s tension building “Wreck,” whose chorus offers a release that is oh so satisfying, and the rousing “Kids R Chrome,” which was not an early favorite when listening to the new album. It sure is now. Wow! This is where my dwindling energy took over. I had to stay in the back for most of Black Nite Crash’s set. I had to sit down. They sounded great, especially on their earliest material, but I’m not so sold on the newer material which I’m not familiar with (too derivative of the Doors for my taste). But disconcertingly, I could not hold out for the Purrs and we had to make an early exit.

Now, I am about to face the reality of going into the big golf event – the deal I’ve been building up in my head for a year – knowing that I may not be able to get through it. The week has not started out precipitously either. When I returned home from Seattle on Sunday, I found out that my work place would be extremely short-handed, so I agreed to work during my vacation Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, we find out that Portland is about to enter a real 100 degree style heat wave during the tournament. All I can envision is heat stroke and an ambulance ride from the ninth hole to a hospital 20 miles away in Portland, after trying to caddy for one of the golfers during this Thursday’s Pro-Am (yes, I volunteered to caddy!!). What do I do? Do I admit defeat, as my resolve has taken a massive hit, as my fatigue has grown, or do I try my best and hope to get through the adventure? As Thursday nears, and now that I have secured a pair of my official caddy khaki shorts, I am realizing that my growing despondence over my health situation cannot and will not keep me from doing what I want to do. If I do pass out from exhaustion and heat stroke this Thursday on a fairway trailing behind someone like Morgan Pressel, then I would rather pass out there than at home alone in front of the TV watching golf. If I take a tumble off a side slope while following around Leta Lindley’s final round as a professional in Portland and make an embarrassing scene like my huge thudding crash land at bowling league on Monday night, then I will be crash landing doing what I want to do.

One more day of work and then it all begins….

Keep an eye out here for links to the fan diary that I may or may not be writing from the emergency room, which may or may not be posted at LPGA.com.


  1. breathe deep and take your best shot! come out fighting. i wish i could be there to watch you go for it. i would catch your fall like billy idol.

  2. it's scary (health issues are always scary), but I think you made the right choice to go for it. follow what brings you joy, especially since it worked so well in raising you up last year. can't wait for the posts!