I. The 27-Club.
Last September I turned 27.
It made me nervous.
Being a major music fan and devout lifetime subscriber to Rolling Stone, I am all too aware of the so-called “27 Club” – a musical super-group headlined by Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi, Janis, Jim, and Kurt, all of whom met their untimely ends at age 27.
My nervousness wasn’t an actual, rational fear. Just a fringe anxiety. Still, it hung there. The 27 hurdle. A year it would be a challenge to survive.
In the months after my birthday the challenge of surviving gave way to the challenge of getting from one day to the next. Honestly, I was so preoccupied with life that the whole 27 Club concept didn’t reoccur to me until I was getting ready to jump out of an airplane last month. And, since that failed to kill me, I assumed I was in the clear with regard to the whole untimely end angle.
I continued thinking that until the past few days, when I began re-reading my entries from the past year in anticipation of the ninth anniversary of Crushing Krisis.
It was then I realized that it happened. I died.
If that sounds like hyperbole, it’s meant to be, but only a little bit. Truly, the past year of my life was so vastly different than any that came before that it was hardly lived by the same person.
If that sounds like hyperbole, it’s not. One of the benefits of your blog celebrating it’s ninth birthday is having the ability to make frequent, sweeping, and entirely-accurate generalizations about the state of your life.
In fact, that’s my favorite thing to do on August 26, the birthday of Crushing Krisis.
II. Running Long.
I first floated the assumption that I was the longest running blog in Philadelphia six years ago today, and I verified it last November (with a footnote).
Having finally taken the time to vet my claim to blog-fame, I began to talk about it. At first it was clumsy to get it off my tongue, but slowly I improved from, “Oh, um, I have a blog that’s been around. For a while. Really long, actually,” to “I write the longest-running blog in Philadelphia.”
Even though I now say it with ease, it still has not stopped sounding strange. As I discovered this year, Philly is a pretty plugged-in town. Bloggers, podcasters, twitterers – the city is swimming with them. To be all three, and to be the one collectively doing it all the longest, stopped seeming like a passive achievement (like, “I lost my last baby tooth!”) and more like an active one (more like, “I pulled out my last baby tooth with my bare hands, because that little fucker was annoying me!”)
III. Greatest Hits, The Expanded Edition
A year ago today I wrote that I felt “as though the vast majority of my personal greatest hits record is contained in the last year of my life.”
I’m happy to report that the hits have continued – in both life and song. Significantly, I crossed off two of my biggest goals in life – seeing the Nike of Samothrace in person at the Louvre in Paris, and jumping out of a plane.
The greatest hits of my year weren’t limited to those two events. Hardly.
I planned a wedding and a honeymoon, an all-encompassing circus that stayed relatively fun right through the end, just as I predicted and insisted it would. I recapped dress shopping with my groom’s party in two parts, the first of which hilariously features my near-ejection from David’s Bridal. I recorded a song that would become so synonymous with our wedding that its lyrics wound up in the fortune cookies at my bachelor party
The novelty has not worn off.
I made music both solo and as Arcati Crisis. As AC, Gina and I headlined a show and then co-hosted an open mic for over half a year, in the midst of which we recorded a Live @ Rehearsal record so definitive that it approaches being a studio album (download it free!). But, some of the most fun we had was while driving and breaking traffic laws.
Meanwhile, I realized I had an entire album of new solo repertoire waiting to be played, and I began to get out to perform it more than ever before – particularly Small & Lonely, Saving Grace, Tattooed, and sometimes Gone Baby Gone. Confidently. I even captured me on video, for once.
(Also of note, Elise now fronts her own band, putting me in the position of band-aid that she has occupied faithfully for so many years.)
I planned four benefit concerts for four separate charities – Lyndzapalooza’s Back Yard Music Fest, my own first ever live web broadcast as part of my support for Danny Brown‘s #12for12k, and a pair of impending shows for #blamedrewscancer and at work for the United Way.
Speaking of, work bled into my digital life more this year than ever before. I had the good fortune to join a project with one Ms. Britt Miller, who cajoled me into joining twitter, which in turn lead me to meet like-minded folks at Social Media Club and Tweetup events.
In turn, that resulted in my winding up a part #blamedrewscancer, for which my personal and collaborative efforts have contributed to almost $10k raised in less than 100 days!
And, as usual, I did a lot more that was hard to categorize. I realized that I’ve been planning events for about two years straight. I shared personal reflections, from the election of a new president to watching my neighbor freebase cocaine at his kitchen table. I visited Erika and her fiance in Boston for a madcap adventure that wound up with us giving each other drunken facials during the Emmys. I tossed off a cover of “Dress You Up” in a single take. I wrote a social media essay on “Network Agnosticism.” I discovered that I’m living in my own teenage superhero novel. Someone even told me I’m not mean enough, which isn’t something I hear too often.
If it seems like an impossible amount of things to do in just one year, well, it is. At points it turned my life into a sort of a joke, whether that be slapstick or black comedy, as I juggled all of those responsibilities. And, amazingly, they lead me to be genuinely happy more times than not.
IV. The Year of the Phoenix.
I have a different opinion on the 27 Club now than I did on my birthday.
Twenty-seven isn’t a litmus test. It’s a proof of concept. It’s a year that that the self-realization bell curve reaches its pinnacle, where the majority of people begin to realize that the path they’ve taken can lead into a tangible future.
I can understand how that could lead you to your end, intentional or not. It leads to excess and over-extension, and to fear and doubt. You can wind up as a phoenix just as easily as you can wind up ground down to ash.
For all the successes of the past year, it contained many challenges for me too. I died a lot of deaths. In the case of my wedding, it was a rebirth as something greater. In other instances, it was just the end.
It was also the year I started shaving with an electric razor. If that’s not a major beginning I don’t know what else could qualify.
For the first time in years I am writing my anniversary post less enamored with the year that passed, and more enamored with the year to come. I seem to have finally escaped the fear that my best work is behind me instead of beyond me, farther down the vector of my life.
That is a death – finally ending my obsession with re-assessing my past in favor of a future view.
Thank you for helping that come to fruition.
Thank you, on the other side of this screen, for reading my adventures, and for caring if and when the next installment might turn up. Thank you for watching me die 3,528 tiny deaths – once for every click of the “POST” button, and thank you for waiting for me to come back to life with every subsequent visit to this little white box.
Thank you for having the patience to watch and wait for me to finally take myself as seriously as you’ve always taken me, as a professional, a songwriter, and a blogger.
Thank you. And, happy birthday to this.