Tuesday, November 06, 2007

They're Back - Julie Slick and Eric Slick descend on Casa Belew in Nashville and Robin Slick is well on her way to a nervous breakdown

Oh god, was it only a few months ago those photos were taken down in Nashville right before the trio went on their international tour this summer?

And today they are back there again, learning all kinds of new material and rehearsing for their February/March cross-country marathon...and I see Pollstar has just listed a second Philadelphia date but I'm thinking that's a mistake because they aren't concurrent - one is March 9 and one is March 12, and the March 12 date is in fact listed on the World Cafe Live website though I guess anything is possible...I will find out ASAP and let you all know what I find out.

So today's entry is actually going to be a real Robin Slick diary post, which is only fitting since the Best of Blog Awards are still going on and I seem to have a nice grip on 5th place (sob)...it would be awesome to finish higher but hell, it's an honor to even be a top ten blog worldwide. Have you voted yet? Thank god I don't have to do this much longer - voting ends on Thursday -- but here, yet again, is the dreaded link. And thank you so much!

Alrighty, as promised, a real diary post, because Good Grief, after today, I need one. Okay, what I really need is a psychiatrist's couch, but you all will have to do instead.

The "trauma" actually started last night. Eric is already in Nashville - he headed there immediately following his show with Delicious Saturday night. Julie's plan was to fly there early this morning on a 6:45 a.m. flight. Naturally this meant that Gary had to drive her to the airport today at 5:00 a.m.

"I assume you'll be sleeping home Monday night," I said to Julie on Sunday when I briefly saw her in between "projects".

"Oh yeah, of course. I have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. Since Matt (her boyfriend) doesn't have any gigs, we're going to have dinner out, see a movie, and then I'll come home and crash early."

"Good plan."

Sooo...yesterday rolled around, Gary and I ate pizza for dinner, and had every intention of staying up until Julie got home...Gary was going to watch the hockey game and I was going to work on my novel for National Novel Writing Month and god help me if that link works, because it will actually take you to my novel in progress and one thing you really don't want to read is the first draft of what is basically being written without an outline or even spell check...but I put it there just so you can see I really am doing it. (But in a perfect world, that link won't work for you and will merely take you to the main site).

The best laid plans went astray...i.e., we made the mistake of stretching out in bed right after dinner for a quick nap before the hockey game and that's the last thing either of us remember. I woke up close to midnight and I could hear the television blasting from downstairs and could also see all the lights were on.

"Fuck," I muttered under my breath. "Julie comes home and doesn't even shut off the t.v.?"

Err...no. A quick check down the hallway told me Julie wasn't even home.

So, it's midnight; she has to be up in four hours to go to the airport, and now I'm wide awake with fear. Where is she?

I really hated to do this to a 21 year old, but I was honestly concerned. My first thought was that she did the same thing Gary and I did - fell asleep with Matt after dinner, didn't set her alarm, and would miss her flight. Worse, Gary was snoring and I didn't know if he'd set our alarm clock, either. I tried reaching over him to find out but it was hopeless.

I am sorry to say I have no idea how to work the damn clock anyway.

What choice did I have? Even though it was late, I dialed Julie up on her cell phone.

"Hi, Mom. I decided to stay at Matt's. I'll just come home at 4:30 tomorrow morning."

I trudge back upstairs to bed at 1:00 a.m. and I can't sleep. I keep dreaming she misses her plane. I roll over every 15 minutes to check the time.

Finally at 4:00 a.m. I get out of bed and put up a pot of coffee. I know she'll be needing some, and I want Gary to have at least a cup or two before he wakes up and has to drive on the highway in the dark, stormy rain to Philly International Airport.

It's 4:30 a.m. and no Julie. Arghh...just as I'm about to go upstairs and send Gary over to Matt's house, Gary walks downstairs and opens the front door.

"Your daughter just called. She's on her way and wanted me to unlock the door because it's pouring out." (Like I didn't hear the rain and wasn't worrying non-stop for the past five hours about everything from her flight to their drive to the airport to her walking around downtown Philly at 4:30 a.m.)

So Julie comes in the door and she's not a happy camper. She didn't sleep, either, and she didn't feel that great. But that was the tip of the iceberg.

"Oh crap!" she exclaimed.

"What? What?" There went my mom radar again.

"I totally forgot. When we did our last tour in Seattle and you guys were on vacation, the airline broke my bass case. I forgot to say anything and now I don't have a sturdy case to put my bass in which is secure enough to be checked into baggage on the plane."

"Oh my god," Gary and I said simultaneously.

"Wait a minute," I said. "We have thirty guitars and basses in this house. Not one of the other cases will fit your bass?"

She looked at me pityingly, because yeah, yeah, I am the only non-musician in the family - what do I know about these things.

"Mom, it's a Fender Jazz bass. It's huge. None of the cases will fit."

"So what are we going to do?" I asked, the panic in my voice rising to new, unheard of ever before levels.

"I guess Daddy will have to drive me back to Matt's and I will take my other bass...he uses it for his gigs on Wednesday nights but I have no choice."

You have to understand - we are a family of music nuts. For us not to have a case for Julie is a crime. Not to Julie, mind you, but to us. What will the Belews think of us? We are neglectful parents!

"Err, she's 21, Rob. This isn't our problem," said Gary.

Yep, as usual, he's right.

So he drove Julie to Matt's, got the other bass, and off they went - all this before 5:00 a.m.

You might have thought I immediately went back to bed, but no. Nope, it doesn't work that way.

One thing I haven't shared here because I haven't felt like it is that last year, after my much touted retirement from law in 2005, I decided to go back to work as a paralegal part-time. There were many reasons for this, the most important of which was that I found I wasn't budgeting my writing time properly once I'd quit my job...I was basically fucking off all day instead of writing. When I worked full-time, I somehow managed to run a household and write two novels. Once I quit my job, everything went to hell. So I thought it would be a cool idea to temp...work a couple days a week, work only when I wanted to, have some extra pocket money, and really put my days off to much better use...i.e., writing.

Naturally my temp idea led me right to a law office, and without even realizing what I was getting myself into, I agreed to work 3 days a week, Tuesday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This gave me four days off in a row to write plus late afternoons...it seemed like the perfect arrangement and I swore I would never get "involved" in a job again...after spending decades at my former job and feeling that I could never top that experience because I so loved my boss of 20 odd years who'd retired.

Naturally with my personality, this could never happen.

I started to really like my new job. I started worrying about it, thinking about it on my days off, and caring way too much about the people there. I work for a solo practitioner who has had the same secretary, Donna, for 27 years and we share an office with another solo guy, also awesome. I love these three people. The trouble is, I remembered why I left law in the first place. I fucking hate it. But the hours are awesome, I was earning good money in between royalty checks from the books, and I honestly looked forward to going in three days a week - but more specifically, because of Donna, the woman with whom I job-shared. In fact I just mentioned Donna and her two daughters in my blog here last week - we all had pizza together and everyone at the table was a vegetarian except for Donna and me - but we made up for it by being the only two lushes at the table (i.e., cheap drunks on two beers).

Anyway, Donna and I have really bonded this past year though I joke I'm going to write a novel about the two of us called "The Prom Queen and The Pot Head" (hey, it's a reference to our teen years, not now!)...but despite the fact that she's a "good girl" and I'm the crazy burned out hippie, the two of us can talk for hours and we've already established I don't feel that way about many people.

I couldn't wait to tell Donna about my Julie experience last night and this morning. With daughters the same age of her own, I knew she'd understand and laugh and give me a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.

And she did. And nothing seemed weird or abnormal, until an hour or so later when our boss came in. She went into his office, which is directly across from where I sit, and didn't come out. I can usually hear pretty much everything that is said in there, but I heard nothing.

I started to get nervous. Maybe I was getting fired. The personal injury field in Philadelphia is horrible right now - half of Philly is driving around without insurance; cases are not getting settled because insurance companies aren't paying...it's a mess. Okay, deep breath, Rob. Getting fired would not be so bad. You hate the work, anyway. Donna will always be your friend now...you can go back to your original plan of working as an anonymous temp where you go somewhere different every day and don't get INVOLVED. Even better, you can put if off until spring, which means you won't have to walk into town three days a week in ice and snow and yes, you can probably knock out at least another book. Maybe two.

Donna walked right past my desk without saying a word. I waited a few minutes and then walked out to the reception area where she sits. I looked at her and she said:

"I just quit."

Now, I've known this woman a year. She's worked for Stacy (our boss) 27 years. I thought she was kidding...or, he had to have said something really awful and pissed her off so much...but you have to understand, Donna really is a Prom Queen. She's just about the most perfect woman I've ever met...sweet, even tempered, beautiful...she's not the type to throw a hissy fit.

"You're joking. What did he do now?"

And even when I said that, I didn't mean it. Stacy is unusual but he's a good guy. I say that because I see a lot of myself in him har har...no, really, I do. Moody at times, likes to keep his feelings to himself (which, believe it or not, I used to do before I got this damn blog), like me, very smart -- brilliant, even (heh), but prone to stress and really can do a number on himself over it. Like me, he takes medication for high blood pressure.

"He didn't do anything. I quit. I got another job. It just fell into my lap and I'm so burned out...."

She told me the whole story but all I heard was white noise. Oh fuck. There goes my dream job. I saw the writing on the wall. Without Donna there as my stabilizer, I would be burnt out in about two seconds. I certainly didn't want her job - she works 50 hours a week and waits on Stacy hand and foot. We don't have a typical office -we rent space in a lovely apartment building on Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philadelphia which means we don't even have maid service - we empty our own trash, clean our own coffee pot, etc. Donna even runs the vacuum!

Could you see me doing that? Okay, you guys really don't know me, but let's just say that when the vacuum gets run around here, it's because Gary is doing it.

(Well, that could be because between Eric's drums, amps, guitars, etc. there's about a two inch path of carpet to vacuum and you have to be careful or you can suck up all kinds of amp cables, etc.)

So without going into even more detail because I'm shaking enough as it is, yes, Donna's last day is Wednesday, November 21 - the day before Thanksgiving. Two weeks from tomorrow.

What do I do? Do I quit, too?

Not if Stacy has his way.

Just as I was about to go home at 3:00, he stood by my desk, and I've never seen anyone look so sad in my life. Plus, he wasn't hungry all day (obviously) but finally forced himself to eat something, and it was all over his face. He looked like a little boy with crumbs on his lip and he also looked like he was going to cry. He just about broke my heart.

"You're not going to leave me, too, are you?"

"Err...I don't know," I answered truthfully. "To be honest, I'm kind of blindsided right now...this hasn't sunk in yet..."

"Please don't leave me. I'll find someone to replace Donna."

Oh, he'll find a replacement, but she won't be Donna. No one is Donna.

Which leaves me. What the hell do I do? I can't leave the guy all alone with inexperienced help and a million trials on the horizon, files for which it took me a year to acquaint myself but now I know them like the back of my hand and could probably try them myself in court.

Okay, I'm exaggerating but still.

It's more like, I can't kick a man when he's down.

But what about me? Without Donna, who basically ran that office single-handedly, where does that leave my writing career? If I stay, am I going to be sucked back into full-time work? Am I going to ever feel about a co-worker the way I feel about Donna? Is Stacy going to be so frustrated with the new girl that even though he promised me I could just continue on exactly as I am, he'll never be able to do it?

Argh...I need some help here.

If I am truly honest with myself, I should move on as well. It's a part-time, 18 hour a week job for Christ sake!

But I can't. That guilt stuff is killer, man.

I don't know how I'm going to get through the next two weeks. I can't even think of life beyond that.

I hope it's just because I'm so dead tired and maybe tomorrow I'll have a clearer head about this whole thing.

I never should have gone back to work. Gah!