Category: Featured Articles

Mixtape Memoirs: An Audio-Biography

Mixtape Memoirs: An Audio-Biography

Welcome to the “Mixtape Memoirs” project.  The story of me, told in small bites (or bytes, if you prefer).  An exploration of the soundtrack to those events and experiences that define who I am, who I was, and who I want to be. This is my audio-biography.

What is a “mixtape memoir”?  To answer that, first you have to ask yourself – what is a mixtape, really?  You wait by the radio for the perfect track – never knowing what was coming next.  The songs didn’t begin or end perfectly, instead they blended into each other in a unique way that would forever be your own. We’ve all heard the same songs – we’ve all lived in the same world.  But your “mixtape” – your collection of moments – tells the story of you in a way no one else can.

What is an audio-biography?  It’s the intersection of music and writing.  Music has always been present at the important junctures of my life.  A special song after that first prom.  A sad song on my phone after learning of the passing of a loved one.  The song I wrote as a wedding present for my wife.  Music has always provided the background to my aspirations and dreams – my successes and failures. There is no way I could tell the story of me with words without also using music. The songs I hear in my mind when flipping through those memories is the soundtrack of my life. That “mixtape” is me.

So, why take on this project?  Well, for one, I want to get back in the habit of writing – and like many people – I enjoy writing about the things I know.  One of the things I know best, for better or worse, is me.  After all, I’ve known me longer than I’ve known anyone else in my life.  I have all the inside scoop and behind the scenes details.  I know what I was really thinking when I lost control of my car going around that turn too fast when I was 16.  I know what I thought before, during, and after my first kiss.  I know how I felt the split-second I knew I was going to ask my wife to marry me.

I know each of these things and many, many more.  But – and here’s the really good part – most of YOU don’t know what I was thinking, what I was doing, or how things really happened.  Some of you may have been there for those events, but I’m betting your memories are just as spotty as mine.

Let’s be honest.  Most of us don’t really remember our youth.  What we remember is a montage of “the good old days”.  We remember things as the stories we tell our friends at weddings and birthday parties – not as they happened.  We remember things the way our parents recount them at family reunions and funerals.  We romanticize the good, minimize the bad, and skip over all the boring filler and commercial breaks in between.

If I’m being completely honest (and for just the moment, I am…) – my memory sucks.  I don’t remember things that happened last week, much less 30 years ago.  I’ve never had a great memory, and thousands of Diet Dr. Peppers over the years likely haven’t helped.   So why set out to write about things from so long ago that I will likely misremember, mess-up, or just flat out fabricate?

The answer is simple – because I can.  This is my story.  Not as it happened, but as I remember it.  Or, more accurately, as I choose to remember it.  Will these stories be 100% factual?  No.  Will they get all the people, places, and events correct?  No.  Will they always portray me in the best light – blameless and virtuous?  No.  Will they add a detail here and omit another there?  Yes.  Will they capture the essence of my memories and experiences?  Yes.  Will they be written from the heart?  Yes – absolutely.

Before we begin in earnest, what are the ground rules of this little project?

  1. The stories will come as often, or as infrequent as the come. Do I want to write every day and post every week?    Will I? No.  But I will be writing and I will be posting.

  2. The stories will all be “true fiction”. Rooted in the real world, but not limited by what I can remember or what actually happened.  Names may (or may not) be changed to protect the innocent (or guilty).

  3. If you want to correct the record on something I write about – send me an email. I can’t promise I’ll make a change, but I would love to hear from you.

  4. Every story will come back to a song.

Many memoirs have been written over the years.  Stories of lives far more interesting than my own.  Why would anyone care to go on this journey with me?  I’m not sure they will – that’s what we are here to find out.  I’ve been fortunate to have music frame the moments in my life that have meant the most to me.  I’ve told stories through songs of my own and used the lyrics of others to express my feelings when I couldn’t find them in my own voice.  I’ve known both the thrill and the terror of standing in front of a live audience.  I’ve seen the power of a song to both wound and heal.  I’ve felt the intimacy of singing just the right words to just the right person at just the right time.

Now I want to share those experiences, and many more, with each of you.  I don’t know if these are just the right words for just the right person – but I do know it’s just the right time.  I hope you can find a familiar echo in the songs I sing.  I hope you can learn something about me, and maybe even yourself.  I hope you enjoy the show.


Let’s begin with an oldie, but a goodie…

Track #1 – “Honestly” by Stryper


“Strawberry Cake” – Remembering my Grandmother

“Strawberry Cake” – Remembering my Grandmother

It was a Monday afternoon – last Monday afternoon, to be precise.  I found myself standing at a lectern looking out over the faces of friends, family, and familiar strangers.  My eyes where a bit scratchy, no doubt due to the flowers arrayed on either side of the stage.  My hands shook slightly as I arranged the papers containing my remarks for the afternoon.  I steadied myself in front of the microphone, closed my eyes for the briefest of moments, took a deep breath, and began to give a eulogy for my Grandmother – Mema.


Mema had been struggling with cancer for the past few years.  She fought long and hard but in the end, it was a losing battle.  Still…she was at peace.  We all had our chance to say goodbye.  She lived a rich and full life, and knew that my grandfather was waiting for her on the other side.  When she finally passed and we flew home for the funeral I, for the first time, really understood what it meant to celebrate someone’s life instead of mourning his or her death.  There was still sadness and there were still tears, but it was different somehow.

Read More Read More

What Story Would You Most Like To Read Next? Vote Now!

What Story Would You Most Like To Read Next? Vote Now!

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I’ve committed to writing more in 2013. (If you don’t, you can catch up on my 2013 resolutions here.)  Great – so I’ve committed to writing more.  Now the question I have to ask myself is, what do I write about?  I have a few ideas, but I thought I would ask you, my readers, to help me out.  What do you want to read about? 


To help in this process, I’ve outlined 15 ideas below.  They all revolve around lessons I learned the hard way in my youth.  As a bonus, I’ve also included one sentence from the stories I think I would write around these ideas.  Look them over, take the poll at the end of the post, and let me know what you would like to read more about.  (I may get to them all eventually, or I may not – so if there is something that piques your curiosity, speak now.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)  The poll will be live until Sunday, January 13th at midnight.


So, what are you waiting for?  This is your best chance all year to boss me around (unless you’re my wife – every day is her best chance to boss me around.)  Vote now. Vote often.  Hell, let’s pretend this is Chicago – vote for your dead friends and relatives.  I look forward to your input.


Fifteen Lessons I Learned The Hard Way


1. Taping bottle rockets to paper airplanes won’t make them fly any further.


The airplane had a brief ‘Buzz-Lightyear-falling-with-style’ moment, followed quickly by a ‘Mythbusters-slow-motion-epic-failure’ moment.”


2. Bourbon Street to the Superdome in New Orleans is much too far to walk at 3:00AM on New Year’s Eve – especially if you are one of the sober ones.


Just as we finished ‘relieving’ ourselves through the wrought-iron fence, we heard the unmistakable ‘clop-clop’ sound of a mounted police officer behind us.”  

Read More Read More

My 2013 “To Do” List

My 2013 “To Do” List

Here we are again at the beginning of a new year.  To say that 2012 was crazy would be an understatement.  There were lots of changes in my life – most good, some not so good.  As I sit here and look back at the list I put together last year (you can read it here), I find that I was only able to accomplish 9 ½ of them to my satisfaction.  I didn’t write as much as I wanted (or should have), and didn’t spend as much time calling friends as I had planned, but I did cut back on TV and processed foods.  I also spent time in New York again and more quality time with my family. 


Now it’s time to look forward to 2013.  I’m hoping for a year of continued good health and happiness, as well as some calm on the job and home front (relocations are controlled anxiety at best – full blown panic at worst.)  Only time will tell.  Just like last year, I’m going to put everything out there and trust that exposure to keep me honest and focused on my resolutions for the year.  So, without further adieu, let’s get to the resolutions:

Read More Read More

12 Things I Learned In 2012

12 Things I Learned In 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, its time to take a look back at the year that was.  It was a year of change – a year of ups and downs.  I learned a lot in 2012 and wanted to share some of those nuggets with you.  I know top ten lists are all the rage this time of year – so I’m just going to jump right on the bandwagon with both feet.  But, why stop at 10?  In celebration of 2012, here are (in no particular order) the 12 most important things I learned this year:




  • We don’t have a Democrat or Republican problem in this country – we have a Politician problem.  On a related note, our problem isn’t that we don’t have enough tax revenue – our problem is we spend too much.


  • Relocation is difficult, moving sucks, and driving across the country is far more appealing when handled as a music montage in the movies.  Not a single Christie Brinkley sighting for me.

Read More Read More