When The World Falls Apart, Put It Back Together

About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.

Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.

The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.

Because it’s unexpected.

That’s kind of its jam.

You don’t see it coming.

So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.

Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.

I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.

I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.

With a renewed vigor.

With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.

We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:

People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.

So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:

One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 2

In my last post I presented you with the first half of a journey of musical self-discovery I’d recently begun. Now, I give you ….. the rest of it.

DAY 6: Dookie by Green Day – I once heard this album referred to as a “misfit’s manifesto” which couldn’t be more accurate. I was not a popular kid. I did not fit in. These songs spoke directly to me. Not in a literal way. I was not a stoner, wasn’t close to mental breakdown, nor was I as angry and destructive as some of the people in these songs. But subconsciously, the lyrics probably helped me work through some things I dealt with. I’ll never forget how my mom humored me when I remarked that these guys could be the “new Beatles.” I guess it was just a premonition of how important Green Day would become for me, but If you know me well you’ll find that comment pretty hilarious. This isn’t complex music, but it changed me. Green Day was the first band I ever got into who’s music I would go on to buy all of. My wife asked me recently what it was about them that captivated me. I said it was Billie Joe Armstrong’s presence as a front man. It was a confidence – an arrogance even – that I could hear in these songs, later confirmed when I saw him on stage. It was a poise that I could never have, but I felt like in some way I started to develop because of Dookie.

DAY 7: Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival – I strongly feel every American household should contain a copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle Vol. 1. I don’t know that there is any other American band that can boast a better Best Of… album than this. When my parents got me my own computer, it had a CD player, and I inherited four hand-me-down CDs. Greatest Hits compilations from the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band, CCR Chronicle Volume 1, and the Beatles “Blue Album”. Wait, what? Yeah…though I devoured all four, at the time I was more into this than the Beatles. That came later. But CCR first opened me up to music that wasn’t new, a whole new world which led me to explore all varieties of classic rock. I think I have some kind of mystical connection with John Fogerty for two reasons. First, though he was a California boy, his music is sprinkled with references to the Louisiana bayou, and New Orleans. My affinity for that place is equally inexplicable. And second, long ago I noticed that when I hear certain CCR songs, the Dailey side of my family would pop into my head. So either this music was playing prominently during a family gathering long ago and it latched onto my subconscious mind, or this music is just a part of my DNA. Could be either one.

DAY 8 – Anthology 2 by The Beatles – I am not going to try to name one Beatles studio album that influenced me more than the others. Anyway they never would have influenced me were it not for Anthology, particularly the second installment. The three Anthology albums are basically an outtakes dump on a grand scale. While they presented the Beatles in their unpolished form, they were still pretty good. Anthology 2 covers 1965-67 into 1968 a bit. Those 3+ years encompass five Beatles albums if you count the Magical Mystery Tour double EP. Anthology 2 was so stunning to me because it showed how productive and progressive the band was over a relatively short time. Though it excited me like no other music had before, I remember it being a bit unsettling to find that “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “A Day in the Life” came just one and two years after “Ticket To Ride.”

I’ve always been a historian, and I like things to be linear. Anthology 2 is the sound of a band that is going someplace. They know where they are going and what they are doing. Now you see bands “trying something new” for their latest album. They may even do that on every release. But the Beatles from this period were different. Every album significantly built upon what they’d done on the last one. They changed how rock and roll sounds and is made, forever. Anthology 2 changed ME forever. I went on to buy every studio album the Beatles ever made, and very close to every studio album Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison ever made, along with a few from Ringo. How’s that for influence?

DAY 9 – Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” was the first of dozens of former-Beatle solo albums I’d eventually own. This was a huge transition for me in that up until then every pop star I’d followed had either been a teenager or in their 20’s. While classic rock opened me up to the experiences of artists of (roughly) my age group but in a different time period, this album opened me up to the thoughts and style of a much older musician, Paul being in his mid-50s on this record. I was just becoming an adult when this came out so it helped me mature in my musical taste. I found his lyrics insightful and very moving really. “Calico Skies” and “Little Willow” are two beautiful, gentle acoustic ballads that everyone should hear. And he could rock! I mean, nothing on this album is going to melt your face off, but he could still jam. Still can now. And to this day, I almost always refer to a deep conversation as a discussion of “the vast intricacies of life” because of a line from “The Songs We Were Singing.”

DAY 10: “Who’s on First?: Radio Reruns” by Abbott & Costello – Until now my list has been albums that affected me chronologically as I grew. This one screws with my timeline in that (1) it was recorded in the 1940’s (2) I first heard it when I was about ten years old, and (3) its effect on me did not fully germinate until about four years ago. Let me explain. Yes, I was a huge baseball fan, and that is why I got this tape as a Christmas gift. I listened to the “Who’s On First?” bit over and over again, but I liked the rest of the skits, as old-timey as they were. I would let the entire cassette play because I couldn’t skip tracks. This included the two musical numbers on the album. One of them was a ballad called “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” sung by actress Marilyn Maxwell. Fast forward to about 2016-17, and the melody and the evocative lyrics of “moonlight on the bayou”, “Creole tunes” and “magnolias in June” still came back to me sometimes. I was sitting at work one day, tired of the Pandora station I had going, and that tune popped into my head. I decided to start a new station based on Louis Armstrong’s original version of the song. Because of how Pandora works, I was soon flooded with a variety of New Orleans jazz musicians, contemporary and classic, eventually extending to some great funk, rhythm & blues, Mardi Gras Indian songs, and even zydeco. To me, all of these are branches of one genre called “New Orleans music.” Nothing has had even close to this effect on me since I discovered the Beatles over 20 years ago. I rarely listen to anything else now. Because I first discovered it through streaming individual tracks, I can’t pick one album. No matter. My “Who’s On First?” tape is the true source of the discovery. With that, I’m going to go make some red beans n rice now.

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 1.

I recently embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I decided to do the 10 Days of Albums That Influenced Me Challenge on Facebook. Since each entry is a mini-blog unto itself I decided to just turn the first five into a blog post. It’ll give you a chance to get to know me a bit better.

This challenge is already giving me some insight into my own personal history of which I don’t know that I was fully aware until now. You should do this challenge just once in your life. You may find that music is more important to you than you know. Or you may not. In any case, here are my findings thus far.

DAY 1: “Greatest Hits” by Ronnie Milsap is the first album that I remember paying attention to that was not made for children. Almost every song on it takes me back on the Mississippi River on my parents’ boat (we had an 8-track player) when I was a child. There are other songs that take me back to that same place (“Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, and “Oh Sherry” by Steve Perry) and there are other songs around that time that I considered “favorite songs” (“Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams, and “St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr) but this entire album takes me there as a whole, though “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “Daydreams About Night Things” are stand-outs. Also, it is because of this album, I am sure, that I wanted “to be Ronnie Milsap” when I grew up. I did not want to be like him. I wanted to be him. So, I think this is a good place to start.

DAY 2: “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli – First things first, no this is not a joke. I am dead serious. This album influenced me for a few reasons. First, I was only 10 or 11 at the time but I liked the music. I also liked the New Kids on the Block like everybody else, but I had a feeling that even though Milli Vanilli was all over MTV and Top 40 radio, somehow this “band” belonged just to me and it was the first time I ever had that in my life. I didn’t think anyone I grew up with knew about them, a delusion that was backed up one day when we were invited to bring our favorite tape to school. I told a classmate I had Milli Vanilli and they repeated the name back to me, perplexed. I didn’t care. Second, my family was not an R&B household. This music passes for R&B I guess, so it expanded my musical pallette. And thirdly, in the end my brief fascination with Milli Vanilli taught me to look for authenticity in the artists I listened to. If you don’t know their story, look it up. When the news about them broke, a great philosophical question arose: Whether it mattered that the faces and the voices did not match up, as long as I thought it was good. I tend to think it does matter, but what do I know?

DAY 3: “Skid Row” by Skid Row – I first had this album on cassette but gave it away at some point. I bought it on CD a few years ago, and was amused that I still knew almost every lyric. The album represents my first “rebellious stage” with it’s “Youth Gone Wild” ethic. Every kid has to go through those stages. It’s healthy. I loved Guns n Roses, and I had their t-shirt and poster but that was almost solely based on “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. I actually listened to Skid Row’s whole album over and over again. You don’t need merch for that. The album doesn’t have a LOT of substance (a couple of lines in it are actually really not cool, looking back, but it’s good to be exposed to that too. You can learn a lot from a bad example). But at least it felt authentic. I even wrote a short story for a school assignment in which the protagonists were called Sebastian (Bach, Skid Row’s lead vocalist) and Ricky (from “18 & Life”). And how does one ignore lines like “Boss screamin’ in my ear about who I’m supposed to be/’Get you a three-piece Wall Street smile and son you’ll look just like me’/I said ‘Hey man, there’s somethin’ you oughta know/Park Avenue leads to Skid Row!'” and “She blew my mind behind the record machine/She was a shitload a’ trouble called the subway queen”?

DAY 4: “August and Everything After” by Counting Crows – I never bought another Counting Crows record and I don’t have this one anymore, but when it came out it exposed me to music from a much more artistic/poetic point of view than I was used to. A lot of the lyrics’ meaning were mysterious to me, but I knew they felt very important. And I was fascinated by the very evocative titles like “Perfect Blue Buildings”, “Murder of One”, “Raining in Baltimore”, etc. At night with the lights off when I was allegedly sleeping, I’d sit up in my bed and pretend to be on stage with a band (the band had a name. It was “Equilibrium”) lip syncing along with these songs. Why this album made me do that, I can’t say. Even if I did have the talent to sing on stage in real life I wouldn’t have the guts, but I had my rock and roll fantasies. To this day though, if “Mr. Jones” comes on the radio, odds are I’m going to sing every word of it fer ya.

DAY 5: “Vs.” by Pearl Jam – It seems the fall of 1993 was a pivotal time in my development as a music fan. My DAY 4 pick came out about a month before this one, and while I had both of these on steady repeat, I also had a close friend playing Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle” in one ear, and my siblings playing Garth Brooks’ “In Pieces” in the other ear. I respect the poetry of rap and the story-telling of country, but rock and roll prevailed. It isn’t lost on me that had I leaned one way or the other, had I not heard something in Pearl Jam’s “Vs” I may be a very different person today. I strongly believe music can do that. Either one of those paths would have been fine. I just would have been different. The road not taken, you know? I credit this album with teaching me some expressive vocabulary like “dissident”, “indifference” and “listless.” I actually wrote a “song” just because I wanted to use that last one…for some reason. And with that, we’re one step away from a string of major discoveries for me. Stay tuned.

Writing For the Sake Of Writing, and For Something Bigger

My mantra is “I’m a writer, and writers write. So I write.” I’m paraphrasing some old advice from a dear friend.

I am a freelance writer but I started this blog just to keep working on my writing chops in between client work. And for a long time it really did give me the motivation to just write for the sake of writing. Funny, but lately I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of writer’s block. It’s hard being a commercial freelance writer when everything is closed indefinitely. So you’d think right now would be the time to get plenty of writing for the sake of writing done.

Alas.

This blog is called the “Dailey Weekly” and I almost never fail to write something here weekly. But last week I did and I’m kind of past my self-imposed deadline for this week too. And it isn’t just writing. I am finding that with many aspects of every day life on hold, it often feels like there is less to talk about. Maybe it is a bi-product of almost the entire news cycle and the monologues of late night talk shows being dominated by COVID-19, and by extension a great deal of our every day conversation being infiltrated by the subject.

Let’s face it. There is a whole lot less “What did you do today?” and much fewer immediate plans being made. That tends to carry over. I would not want this blog to become COVID-19 Central. I wouldn’t subject my readers to it, and I don’t think I could do it to myself either.

But an increasing number of of business owners are now able to get back to work and are trying to maintain a connection to their customers. So I’ve recently decided that going forward, until our economy regains stability, for every piece I write for a client, a part of my fee will go to this “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative in the clients’ name.

For as long as it takes for that stability to come, or as long as the “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative runs, whichever comes first.

Lightening the load for a local health care worker who is carrying a lot on their shoulders right now will make me feel like I am doing something useful to my community. It will re-motivate me to write because I will be doing it for a cause well beyond myself.

I hope you and those you love are doing very well.

Happy Quarentine’s Day

I spelled it wrong on purpose. That’s “Quarentine’s” which rhymes with “Valentine’s.”

You see, over the last few weeks, couples have learned a lot about their relationships, it seems. For these couples, being at home together all day, every day has brought to the forefront an assortment of minor annoyances that maybe aren’t so minor when you are suddenly forced to confront them all day, every day.

Full disclosure, my wife and I have just as many squabbles as any average couple, I’m sure. And we’re not even shut in together as I am still working my day job Monday to Friday. But it straight-up shocked me when I started hearing all of the talk about how divorce was going to skyrocket in America as a result of this ordeal. Then I started hearing actual couples after actually being shut in together for just a couple of weeks talking about how impatient they were getting with each other. It’s mostly a nation-wide running joke at this point, but all jokes, no matter how exaggerated, have at least a morsel of truth in them.

Not that I don’t think my wife an I might be at each other’s throats from time to time if we were together all day every day, but this whole situation has got me thinking about why we get married in the first place.

Why we choose to spend our lives with the one person that we choose.

Why we refer to it as “spending our lives together” at all.

I think for most of us it’s because she or he is the one person with whom we feel like we really could do just that. With that in mind, I want to tell you the story of the night I met my wife.

We met on an MSN chat room (remember those?) in the fall of 1999 and our first conversation was an argument. You see, that night, I was just in their killing time, as was she. Neither of us were “looking for love”. My wife’s very first impression of me was that I was a jerk.

She was not wrong.

At the moment I was publicly roasting some guy for the way he was openly flirting with women. My wife told me off, I defended my actions and we went back and forth. We ended up talking privately and eventually I made her laugh and convinced her I wasn’t really a jerk.

I mean, not really.

We talked for a while but left it at that not really thinking anything of it. Fast forward a few nights later, and I saw her in the chat room again. She was using the same name as the night we’d met but I had changed mine. So when I asked her if she remembered me, she said she didn’t. Though I gave her a few details of our conversation, she is a cautious type. Even if she did remember me, she said she didn’t.

I had actually changed my MSN chat room handle a few times since we’d met. So I had to rattle off a few different, increasingly embarrassing monikers until I finally said the one she remembered, at which point she conceded that she did, in fact remember me and the rest is history. We spend the first four years of our relationship going months on end without actually being together.

Had I not been able to come up with that name before she got tired of dealing with me, she may have put me on ignore if that was an option. We would never have spent those four years mostly apart learning how much we did not want to be apart anymore. She would never have become my wife.

We don’t know if at some point we will also be experiencing this current hyper-togetherness, and for how long. For you, if nothing else comes of it, may you at least be reminded of what it was about your significant other that made you want to actually and really “spend your life” with them.

Happy Quarentine’s Day!

Because I’m Not a Blogger.

I’ve recently changed the name of “Dailey Freelance Blogging” to, simply, “Dailey Freelance” for a simple reason. It is for this very simple reason that I have always kind of been uncomfortable with the name. But I had business cards printed up and everything so I’d stuck with it. But since my business and everyone else’s is experiencing some downtime currently, I thought I’d make the transition.

The very simple reason is that I am not really a blogger.

Wait, though. I’m not a fraud or anything. It’s just that the clients I have had, I have written things for their blog, but I am hands-off as far as the actual blog is concerned. I write the words, I turn them over to the client, and they do as they will from that point on.

I do provide suggestions of topics for future blog posts, which I would then write. Anything more would be overstepping the boundaries, as it would require my being given access to the clients’ website dashboard. Most business owners have a decent handle on how to use the blog if they have one. They just lack the time to write, and that’s why they call on me.

I know what you’re thinking. You are reading this on my blog. So I’m a blogger. Well I do use this blog to make you aware of my service and show you what I can do. But that service – what I do – is writing.

The new name is not only more accurate, but it will also save me a lot of time. Those of you who are interested in a service like mine know exactly what a blogger is. But I have spent a lot of time explaining to others what a blogger is and does.

But “freelance” is sort of a vague term. For clarity’s sake, I was going to switch it over to Dailey Freelance Writing, but that would be “DFW” and I’m in a wheelchair and I already get enough people thanking me for my service even though I am not, in fact, a Veteran of Foreign Wars. I’m serious. I’m not trying to be funny.

So anyway, welcome to Dailey Freelance.

Big Up To Brooklyn

People always ask me “Hey Dailey, why do you wear a Brooklyn Dodgers cap?”

I’m just kidding. Nobody calls me “Dailey” and they don’t ask me why I wear a Brooklyn Dodgers cap either. But I am a Minnesota boy and I have no ties to New York, so I’m going to tell you.

It comes down to three main reasons.

  1. They represent a Golden Age of baseball. The very name “Brooklyn Dodgers” especially evokes a specific period. Though they’d been around since 1884, they really didn’t become “the Brooklyn Dodgers” of legend until about 1941. Between then and 1956 the Dodgers faced the Yankees in the World Series seven times. The era culminated in 1955 when the Dodgers defeated the Yankees to win it all for the first and only time while in Brooklyn. They moved to Los Angeles a season later, ending their cross-town rivalry with the Yankees.

    Which brings me to my second reason.
  2. They were the antithesis, the arch rival of the New York Yankees. And I, for one, see great value in that. I honestly don’t mind sports dynasties. In fact I rather like them. You have to be impressed by the consistency with which the Yankees won during this “Golden Age”. But they’ve been winning pretty consistently since about 1923 and the ’41-’56 Dodgers were the only team to challenge their dominance with such persistence.

    In recent years almost every year we have a team in the World Series who hadn’t made it that far in a very long time. It’s nice to see. While I’ve never consciously rooted for “the underdog” it turns out that is precisely what I am talking about. And that is what the Brooklyn Dodgers were in this era whenever they faced the Yankees.
  3. They were the franchise that, in 1947, broke the unwritten “Color Line” which had stood in Major League Baseball since the 1880s. When Brooklyn’s GM Branch Rickey signed a young multi-sport athlete and former military man, Jackie Robinson, he wasn’t looking for the best player. He was looking for a man of character. That is what he got first and foremost. But Robinson’s success – along with that of others who quickly followed – ensured that Major League Baseball would open its doors to a huge pool of talent which would revitalize and revolutionize the game for decades to come.

    For these reasons, I have a reverence for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and I wear their “B” insignia with pride.

    I have a cousin who is a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Every time I discuss his team with him, I am sure to refer to them as the “Brooklyn Dodgers” just to amuse myself. Los Angeles doesn’t seem right for them anyway ever since I discovered their full moniker was the “Trolley Dodgers”. For that reason, I’ve always felt like when they left Brooklyn, they should have relocated to San Francisco. Maybe New Orleans. You know, for continuity.

    Well, I’ll just keep on calling them the Brooklyn Dodgers forever probably.