Reflections of 2011

So here we are at the end of another year. Most people use this time to recall events from the year and look forward to what the future holds. And I’m no different. I always find myself sitting in the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, reflecting on the past.

I started out this morning by reading an old journal entry I wrote 25 years ago. Searching for something that I thought made 1986 memorable for me. All that I found were paragraphs of me rambling on about learning a Van-Halen guitar lick and having a project due in my high school music theory class I wasn’t too enthused about. My only real goals for the new year were getting into my first real band and graduating. In that order if possible. Suffice to say, only the latter event happened.

The following New Years Eve though, 1987, will always be memorable for me. I was spending time with a girl I liked, got a little bit tipsy on the Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine I “borrowed”  from my Grandmother (sorry Nan) and actually got up the nerve to ask her out. You must realize that I was an 18-year-old who had never actually been on a date before. So needless to say, this was HUGE for me. Fortunately, she said yes and we’ve been together ever since.

But the last day of the year hasn’t always been good to me. Nine years later New Years Eve literally changed everything.

It was around 10PM on December 31st, 1996 and  I was at home getting ready to watch Dick Clark freeze his ass of in Times Square. It was fortunate that we had no plans of going out.

The phone rang.

On the other end was my Mother in tears. She NEVER calls me at night unless something was wrong. And this time something was. My grandmother, who had been in ill-health the past few months, had just passed away in the nursing home. The Grand Matriarch whose house I grew up in and who took care of me and my brother and sister was gone. Although the last words we spoke to each other was “I love you” a day earlier as she drifted in and out of consciousness, it was of no consolation. I put down the phone and just cried right there in the middle of the kitchen.

So it’s been fifteen new years eves since I got that call and usually not a day goes by that I don’t think about her in some way. I’m sure tonight I’ll be thinking about her even more.

Now that I’ve wiped my tears, let’s talk about some of the good stuff from this past year (2011):

#1. In January of 2011 I resolved to start writing. My very first blog post was about Pierogies and I’ve never looked back. I’ve written over 120 blogs since then and have even written articles for other online web sites.

#2. I was re-acquainted with a bunch of classmates I haven’t seen in years. It’s been so exciting to see what everyone has been up to and to take part in planning for our 25th reunion next year.

#3. My daughter started middle school this year. She excels at reading and writing (actually making books with chapters and everything) and is big into playing music, much like me. I am so proud of everything she’s becoming. I had the chance to visit her new school for the day and see how everything has changed since I roamed those halls. Made me feel, yup, old.

#4. This one many of you may not know but I can say it now. I was selected as a candidate to be on the TV show NY Ink. I went to New York and got tattooed by Megan Massacre while being filmed by the TLC network. I’m not sure if my segment will be airing or not but the whole experience was incredible. I got tell my story about my own musical journey and how for one night I became a rock star. I’ve been working on a four-part blog about it that I’ll be posting in the New Year.

#5. After hearing about one of my favorite bands, Survivor, reuniting with my favorite singer (Jimi Jamison), I wrote a blog about my journey with the band and how their music affected me. Because of it, I was asked by the management of Frankie Sullivan (guitarist from the band) to do an interview with him. We talked on the phone for over an hour yesterday and I heard so much good stuff about the band and the music I loved growing up.

Those are just five and I could probably go on. Life’s been good and I’ve been so blessed.

I’m not sure what 2012 will hold but I am looking forward to it. I’ve got plenty of ideas for articles and songs. I may even have a go at my first book. And to celebrate the resolution that didn’t come true in 1986 I think I may even take the plunge again and go back into a band situation. The sky’s the limit.

Over the years friends have remembered the Manischewitz story and every so often buy some for me as a joke. I haven’t had any of it in years. But tonight, in honor on Nan, I think I just may have to break it open.

And right after I toast to her memory I’ll make one for you as well.

Here’s to a Happy 2012.

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About James Wood

Influenced by life, love and the pursuit of the perfect song is what best describes my passion. I’m a closeted classic rock/metal-head from the 80′s who loves to write.

Posted on December 31, 2011, in 1980's, NY Ink, Thought and Opinion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. my first hangover came via Manischewitz as well…i think it was the cream white concord. followed by a lot of boone’s farm strawberry hill, mateus and whatever cheap stuff we could get our hands on. when i turned 18 (a looong time ago) the drinking age in jersey became 18 just 2 weeks after my birthday. the joy of youth. happy new year.

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