One of Jamie Jordan’s Weird Stories

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I’ve been typing a book with a friend of mine named Jamie Jordan. He’s a stand-up comedian with cerebral palsy who lives in a wheelchair…I guess that makes him a sit-down comedian, but you get the idea. His hands don’t work so well for typing, so that’s where I come in.

Here’s a snippet from this book we’ve been working on:

One of Jamie Jordan’s Weird Stories

When I was about 14 years old, I lived near a city pool. I would always go to this pool because there were girls there. I didn’t swim, obviously….guy in a wheelchair. I just went there to be around the girls. That sounds a lot worse than it was. It was a good way to hang out with girls, since there was little else to do in my neighborhood. And it was about the only way they were going to take off their clothes for me. Come on now…every 14 year old boy was thinking the same thing.

Let’s get back to our story…

It was a fairly uneventful activity for me to go to the pool and then go home. But this particular day was different.

Something didn’t seem quite right with my chair-mobile that day. It was making some strange noises. Of course, like most drivers I just kept driving anyway, hoping that the noises were just normal “chair noises”.

 

 

Luckily, I got to hang out with the lifeguard and the girls and have my daily dose of socialization mixed with hormonally driven girl-watching.

On the way back home, the chair was still making the funny noise….

And then the wheel fell off.

This was in the 90’s. I didn’t carry a cellphone in that decade.  As far as I know, there is no roadside assistance or “on-star” for people in wheelchairs. Someone should really look into that.

Luckily, when the wheel came off, the chair landed in such a way that I was still sitting up, but my wheel was gone.

Think of every redneck show you’ve ever seen that has cars in the yard with no wheels, and that’s what I looked like. At least that’s what I felt like. Suddenly, I hoped the girls I came to look at would not be looking at me. I couldn’t bend down to get the wheel, because if I did the chair would tip over and I would be on the ground…in the parking lot. A crippled guy laying on the July Texas asphalt burning to death while girls in bikinis watched. No, I think I’ll just sit here, thanks.

People thought I was just chilling out in the parking lot, and were waving as they drove by, as if nothing was wrong. I know what you’re thinking…didn’t they notice my peril? Maybe Jamie’s happy-face is really similar to his “OMG my wheel fell off face”?

Is this part of his condition? Maybe Jamie’s “hello” wave is really similar to a frantic “please help me I’m dying” wave? How could this be? Maybe we should make one of those facial-expression emotion charts and tape it to his wheelchair?

 

There’s a good reason why people thought I was just chilling, and it’s none of the things you were probably thinking.

I was sort of smiling…happily. And I was hoping no one would notice the missing wheel.

You see, I didn’t want anyone to tell my parents about my wheel problem in a distraught way. I needed someone who could relay the message as if it was no biggie. Because if they sensed that my coming to the pool to look at girls was dangerous, well….I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore! So, to continue my evil summer plan to hang out with naked girls, I had to break this wheel thing to my parents in the best way possible. So I smiled and waved to unknown passerby and acted as if nothing was wrong.

 

Eventually a friend from the neighborhood came by that knew me and came close enough for me to point out my situation quietly and I finally got some help with my wheel. Overall, it was a great day.

There are a few things you could take from this situation. One is that like most everything else in life, wheelchairs are unpredictable. And stuff just happens. And they don’t make ‘em like they used to.

The second thing you should take from this story, and it’s a point that I’ve made in this book before; Wheelchair or not, I’m just a guy. And my thoughts were about the same as any other boy’s at 14 years old.

 

To see more of Jamie Jordan’s interesting and weird stuff, visit www.ridingawheelieproductions.com

Categories: Music Blogs

How I Got Fired From Osco Drug Store

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I don’t know what made my mind go back to this memory this morning, but I woke up remembering in sharp detail the events surrounding being fired from my first job.
I started working for Osco Drug Store in Terre Haute when I was just 16. I worked there for 2 years stocking shelves, providing customer service and running the cash register. I was heavily involved in music in school, but they were very good with scheduling as long as I let them know what days I needed and showed proof of the event. In my 2nd year with Osco, I was written up because I had to use a sick day for a band parade that wasn’t on the original agenda. I worked with this very spiteful and mean woman named Phoebe. She found out that I had lied about being sick so that I could go march in the parade, went to the manager to tell, and I got written up. I cried.

When I was 18, I left to go work at Paul Harris, but that job underwent a change in management that left many employees without any hours for months. Then, the schedule for the next month came out and I was on it working 30+ hours a week! (While in High School.) One of the work days was the same day as the State Solo and Ensemble Finals, for which I had qualified. After being rejected the day off, I put in my 2 weeks notice…since the date was more than 2 weeks away.

Then I went back to Oscos (a year later) and asked for my job back. And they rehired me. We went through a store move at that time and the store was moved to a temporary place in the Honey Creek Mall, then we moved everything to the big building. It was an exciting summer. I got to work at a few other area Oscos, do different kinds of work as we set up the store, and meet employees of the other stores – which were surprisingly much nicer and easier to work with than some of the people my store.

Another year and a half at Osco, and I had been trained for the photo department. At this time, my hair was very very long, and I needed a scrunchie to pull it back whenever I developed pictures so that my hair would not get into the photo developing chemicals or get pulled into the negatives machine. I left this scrunchie inside a shelf behind the photo counter, but must have forgotten it at work one day. I was written up for leaving my personal effect at the workplace. I felt I was being treated unjustly.

Later that year, a friend of my parents was to get married and I was asked to play piano and sing the special music for their big day. I was happy to take this role, and spent a good deal of time preparing their music and rehearsing so that everything would be perfect. Even though I didn’t usually work on Saturday mornings, I verbally told Phoebe (the schedule maker) about the upcoming event date so that I could have the day off, but when the schedule came out, I was on it for that day and time. I asked Phoebe if it could be changed, and she insisted that because I didn’t put my request in writing it would NOT be changed, as a matter of PRINCIPLE! No problem, I thought. In the past, if you could find a replacement for your shift it was ok. And I had 2 weeks before the wedding day. My friend Kristy quickly agreed that she could work that day, but Phoebe said ‘no’ because it would give her enough hours to bump her from part time into full time hours. Kristy suggested that we just exchange shifts then, so that I would be working one of her days and there would be no change in the hours. Phoebe very crossly pinned the schedule back to the board and said NO. Any changes had to go through her. All week, every time I came in, I talked to the management about how I had to play for someone’s WEDDING on that day, and they were going to HAVE to find a replacement, or allow Kristy and I to switch shifts, because I couldn’t tell my family’s friend that I wasn’t going to play their wedding only 2 weeks before it. (And I had already invested so much time in preparing it!)
They would not change the schedule, as a matter of PRINCIPLE. The day before the wedding I worked, and during my shift I talked to Mark Monahan, the manager, and reminded him that I would not be able to come in because I had a wedding to play piano for. He was not in agreement. (This was not his first time hearing about the issue.)

Saturday morning, I called in. I said, “I’m not sick and you know it. I have a wedding I need to play piano for and I’m not coming in to work.” The response on the phone, “Ok.”

When I came in to look at the new schedule the following week, my name wasn’t there. I asked Pete, a supervisor, why my name wasn’t on the schedule. He said, “You don’t work here anymore.” Suddenly, standing behind the photo counter, I felt like an imposter in a place where I should not be. I asked, “Really?” and Pete said, “Yeah” and shrugged. I started crying and turned around to leave. I was mad. I was sad. I had wasted nearly 4 years of my life working for less than $7 an hour with a half dozen older employees who had only been mean and disrespectful to me, and a general manager who had been rarely present but unforgiving.

I started to cry. They were selling hangers in a big box near the checkout, a few of which caught on my clothing as I was walking out. I turned around and started to pick them up. (while crying…) Then I stopped and said, “I don’t work here anymore.” I left one package of hangers on the floor, and walked out.

Nobody ever called me from Osco Drug Store. There was no other meeting or phone call to discuss my termination. Years later, I received a notice from a service called “Unclaimed Money” which informed me that my last paycheck was still there. I believe I eventually convinced them to mail it to me. When I applied for a job at Drury Inn, the kind interviewer informed me that Osco Drug Store did NOT give me a good reference. She hired me anyway.

It’s been a little over 10 years since I was fired from Osco Drug Store, but I haven’t gone inside one to purchase anything. Not even once. And I probably never will.

What To Eat When You Have To Sing

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A while back, a friend of mine was having some vocal problems because of health related issues. The topic of what to eat when one has to sing came up. since then, I have been thinking more about this common question.
I could easily have titled this post, “what not to eat when you have to sing”. The list of things to not eat when one has to sing is short, but encompasses a wide range of foods for some.

1. Don’t eat foods that cause excessive mucus. (for many people this includes dairy products like milk. Some people have sinus reactions to garlic and onions and spicy food.)
2. Don’t eat foods that you have sensitivities too. (onions, chocolate, and cheeses tend to give me headaches.)
3. Don’t eat foods that dehydrate your vocal chords. (caffeine, and overly salty foods sometimes do this.)
4. Don’t eat foods that will make you burp. (sodas, and many vegetables)
5. Don’t eat foods that give you gas.
6. don’t drink so much that you will have to P during your performance.

Sounds pretty limiting, doesn’t it? Even though I graduated as a voice student, the subject of what to eat on performance days rarely comes up. I feel like it is probably different for each person. It’s also different for each performance.

For example, maybe you have some Idell songs to sing, and spicy food will help to swell up your vocal cords enough to get all those low notes and provide the roughness to your voice that you need. Or maybe you are singing really high opera, and a little caffeine might help to tighten things up for the high notes.

As for me, lemon and honey have never been necessary unless I was sick. And my perfect food of choice for singing days… Eggs. Some people claim that eggs make them gassy, but I’ve never had this problem with eggs, and for me they are a very neutral food with enough proteins to keep me from getting hungry, but without any of the negative effects of other foods.
Know your voice. Know your body. And know your music.

Categories: Music Blogs

Passionate Relationships with Songs

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I think my relationships with songs are very much like relationships with lovers. When we first meet (or I first write the song), I have to get to know the song a little bit, to decide if I like it or not. Once I bump into the song a few times (play it), then I start to grow fond. Then, something sparkly and unexplainable happens and I fall head over heels in love. All day long I think about that song and all the things I would like to DO with it…til the moment I sit down at the piano or grab a guitar and the song and I are passionately reunited.

The beginning of the relationship is fun and exciting! I think this song is “the one” for me 4Ever! I spend a lot of time with it, and reveal all of it’s hidden secrets and intimacies hidden within it’s lyrics and scattered pitches. Maybe I change the song a little. That happens sometimes in relationships. And sometimes, the song changes me a little.

After a while though, *sigh* the song begins to grow too familiar and loses it’s sparkle. It’s almost like we begin to grow bored with each other. When I start playing your delicate pitches on the piano and crooning your notes and lyrics, it all feels too familiar, like there are no more crescendos, decrescendos, or vocal riffs to be discovered in you. Sometimes I try too hard to discover something new in you, and it ends badly. Eventually, it gets to the point where I see you on my set list at a show and think, “Oh…..you again.”

At that point, we (the song and I) usually decide to go our own ways and I go out in search of new material while the song disappears from my life. Sometimes for weeks…..Sometimes for years.

Then…..weeks, months, or years later….I happen to stumble on the song again. One of two things happens. Sometimes, my eyes glitter over and I think excitedly, “I remember YOUUUU!!!” I play the song, feeling the rush that I felt when we first “met” and it is a wonderful feeling to be reunited. We embrace with overwhelming passion and that familiar feeling draws us together again for a while.

But sometimes when I stumble upon a song again, I think, “Gawd, what did I ever see in YOU???”

Categories: Music Blogs