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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

The Pendulum Swings

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Friday November 16th, 2012 – Champaign, IL

   In, out. Up, down. Back, forth. High, low. Life is a constant series of swinging pendulums, and I’m feeling one shift. I’ve been on a high for a quite while, but I feel an end coming to that wave - much to my extreme regret. I guess it’s inevitable, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t.

   I can feel the darkness of the holidays descending, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Every year it’s the same, and the first few times I see Christmas decorations or hear a carol, it sends me right back into that ugly tar pit portion of my brain I’ve been trying so hard for so long to escape.

   Just as the pleasant memories people have of childhood and what the holidays are supposed to be about are etched permanently on one’s soul, so are the bad ones. That’s why it’s so painful to go back there. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to free myself from that horror, but I can’t ever escape.

   Yes, the pain gets less and less as time goes by – but once in a while on the right day it gets to me and really kicks my ass. I don’t want to go there, and I do everything I can to stay away from that place, but I find it getting to me anyway no matter what I do. Today was one of those days.

   I went into a store and saw some Christmas decorations and that was all it took to set me off. It shouldn’t have, but today it did. I felt like I was sliding down an emotional razor blade, and I was really on a downward slide no matter what I did to try and stop it from happening. I felt helpless.

   It didn’t help any that I had a humiliating gig in Champaign, IL in a gin joint that took me back to my earliest memories of comedy. There were pool tables and white trash biker types and I was right back to where I’ve been trying to escape from my entire life. I was trapped in a nightmare.

   The guy who owns the bar was actually a very pleasant fellow, but the circumstances were just not what I want to be dealing with this late into the game. It was booked by the same guy that put me in the wonderful one nighter in Clinton, WI earlier this month, but this was a polar opposite.

   This place was dingy and run down, and at the time the show was scheduled to start there were ZERO people waiting to see it. To make it worse, there was no sound system. I can’t fathom how a small detail like that could fall through the cracks, but it totally did. I wanted to just get back in my car and drive home, but I was with Jim McHugh who needed the money as badly as I did.

   He wanted to stay, and we ended up having to wait about an hour but the owner finally did find a guy to bring in a sound system and we did a show. There were about forty people total, most of whom where let in free from the bar area to the show area to fill seats. There’s a boost to the ego.

   The people were actually very nice, and I think they enjoyed the show but I couldn’t have been more miserable the entire time. Jim said he had a blast, but he’s on a different plane than I am for whatever reason. Good for him, but I wanted the Earth to swallow me up and end my misery as I stood up there counting the seconds until I could leave. Last week we were in Ottumwa, IA for a dream show in a beautiful venue. THAT’S what I want to be doing. This was a painful step back.

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