Sunday, June 25, 2006

So what the hell happened......?

So much to blog about, not sure if I'll get to everything. This one post is going to be grossly long...

Once again, many thanks to all of you who offered their support, but didn't pry. And thanks to those that pried anyway--you helped me make some sense of some things. So here's the events, and the results.

Saturday, 5:00 PM
After setting up for our gig, I was on the way to grab a bite to eat, go home and change clothes and head back for the evening. I'm on a 4-lane residential street in the right lane. There's a cop in the left lane with traffic backing up behind him. I check the speed limit (25 mph) because, IF YOU'RE GOING TO PASS A COP AT ANY TIME, YOU'LL WANT TO BE SURE YOU'RE NOT SPEEDING!!! I wasn't. We pull up to the stop light. He doesn't pull up next to me, but stays almost a car length behind. Odd. Green light, turn the corner, he's behind me with lights flashing.

    The nice officer asked if I knew the speed limit back there.

    (of course--I checked) Yes, I checked it as I passed you.

    Well, I was going 25 mph and you zipped right past me.

    (uh-huh, right)

    Did you know your license plates are expired?

    (oh, shit) Really, sir?

    Can I see your driver's license and proof of insurance?

    (dammit. my DL expired on my birthday in April. I almost didn't get on the plane in Ft. Lauderdale because it wasn't a "valid" ID...) I believe that expired in April. But here it is...

    And your insurance?

    (ummm....) I can't find my little card. Will you take one from 2001?

    I'll be right back, sir. Just hang on tight.

    (I keep looking for the card, and decide it's in my CD visor wallet. sitting at home)

    I'm going to give you a warning on the speeding. You'll hardly be the last person to speed on that street. But I am citing you for expired plates, expired driver's license, and instead of "no insurance", I'll cite you for "no proof of insurance". If you find your card, bring it to the judge on Monday morning, and he'll drop it.

    (Monday morning??)Thank you, sir.

    Have a nice day.
It's too late to eat, so I go home, change, and head to the gig.

Sunday, 2:00 AM
The gig is through. We were loved and appreciated. We've got our tear-down routine to the point that it might take us 45 minutes to pack up and leave. I'm driving the deserted streets of downtown. Not another vehicle on the streets. Until I see a cop turn onto the same street and take up residence on my ass. After waiting an eternity at the red light (there's no one else downtown!), he follows me for another 4 blocks, and I see this in my rearview mirror:

    Excuse me sir, did you know you're driving with expired plates?

    (this can't be happening) Why yes, sir. I was just cited for that this afternoon. :-)

    OK... Can I see your driver's license and proof of insurance?

    (I wonder if I can make a run for it....) Well, I was cited at the same time for expired driver's license and no proof of insurance.
It was at this point that things got nasty. This very intimidating cop wanted to know why I was out driving. I explained that I had a gig and hadn't really been home yet.
    Do you have a cell phone, sir?

    (it was sitting on the passenger side) Yes, sir.

    Is there someone you can call to take you home?

    (a quick check of the time and a blank stare) Ummm, not at this time of night. Can't you just follow me home?

    No, sir.

    (in the old days, they'd let you drive home drunk if you promised to go straight home) Can you take me there yourself?

    No, sir.

    (now I'm just getting pissed) You want me to leave my car parked on the side of the road with thousands of dollars worth of musical equipment in it?

    Not my problem, sir.
This went on for about 10 minutes--him chastising me for even considering driving without insurance (which I've used ONCE in 30 years), and me trying to convince the guy that I can do this! Eventually, he tired of me, and said that he was leaving. I was not allowed to drive. If I did risk it, and was pulled over again, I'd be looking at my 3rd violation of the insurance thing, and my license would be revoked permanently. WTF??? And he leaves. After citing me for the DL and the insurance, BUT NOT THE PLATES, WHICH IS WHY HE PULLED ME OVER IN THE FIRST PLACE! I sat there for about another 5 minutes, wondering if he was going to circle back, setting a trap for me. I finally decided to chance it, and took side streets all the way home.

The rest of the week.
That's the basics. Things to fill in the blanks: I call the courthouse to bump my appearance from Monday to Wednesday. No problem. Bumped it again to Friday. I got my DL renewed ("funny" story--I asked the girl what color my hair was, because it's changed drastically from my last license. She says silver, but that's not a valid color. I now list my hair color as gray...). I checked with my insurance agent because I tore my apartment apart looking for the card and couldn't find it. She punches in my name (here's a less funny story), and tells me that my insurance has lapsed since October, 2004!!! I have been driving uninsured for over a year and a half. I drove through South Dakota in the winter on my way to Nashville WITH NO INSURANCE! More on this in a minute. I found some insurance and bought it. And I got the car registered.

You saw my results from court. I pled guilty to the initial 3 citations, and was fined $80 apiece for the DL and the plates, and $540 (with $250 suspended) for the insurance. A total of $450. BUT, I pled innocent on the second set of tickets. I find it to be a bit of overkill to cite me again within 9 hours. Especially if I've been working. If I was driving around town all night, perhaps. But I was working. Driving home from work.

I'm going to ask for a jury trial, which is my right. I figure I can get a jury to see the overkill much better than a single judge (who told me it would be a waste of time). If I'm found guilty, the possible penalties are $540, 10 days, and a 6-month suspension of DL and plates. Needless to say, you can see why I wasn't a happy camper at the beginning of the week.

The Epiphany (thanks, Muse!).
How does one let his insurance lapse? Why doesn't one renew his DL or plates when they're expiring? What is wrong? These are the things that I was questioning when I wrote the "change" post. I came to two separate conclusions, and they both exposed weaknesses on my part. I live a lifestyle that many envy. Happy-go-lucky musician who always has time to do things and time for others. What you don't get to see is the guy who is constantly juggling--letting things pile up, leaving things to the last minute, cutting corners, cheating, ignoring obligations, basically trying to keep all the balls in the air. What happened this last weekend is that I was still juggling, but the balls all hit the floor and were bouncing away. I live a lifestyle that does not guarantee a steady cash flow. Part of that is because I only work half-time at the one job that does pay on a regular basis. It is painful to look back and admit that you haven't done a good job managing your life. It's even more painful to tell people you are close to the same things. You live an image, even if the image hides the truth. The painful part of this episode is that, because of actions (and inactions) on my part, I was broke. I paid for the renewals, etc., but still hadn't paid rent, let alone whatever fine was going to come my way.

The absolute hardest thing I had to do was go to my parents, and tell them I needed help. I expected a lecture, an ass-chewing, disappointment, rejection. What I got was unconditional love, understanding, sympathy and a little cash. No real questions asked. My parents rock. My parents are the best in the world. I dare any of you to try to argue. What they have done for me is allow me to get back up on my feet and fight. They haven't "fixed" anything. There is plenty I need to do. But that financial burden is something that they were able, were willing, to help with. Those of you still looking to be adopted by them--get your forms in now!

There's one other big thing that I think I've realized. I don't really know/understand what depression is all about. I've sat high on my throne and looked down on those who take pills for their depression, secure and happy in the fact that I don't need anything like that. Now I'm not so sure. If someone told me that I've been suffering from depression for the past couple of years, I doubt that I'd argue with them. I think that being open and talking about it will do me a world of good. And I have a feeling there's a few of you out there who won't let me get away with closing myself off. One or two of you, in particular! I realize that, in the big picture, my problems arise because of my own doing. And they don't compare to what Ty and Latty and Contessa, AS WELL AS MANY OTHERS OF YOU, are going through. But they're bigger to ME because they are happening to ME.

So that's it in a nutshell. I'm doing OK right now. Really. I need to concentrate on changing habits. I've been staying up until 2AM for a few months, and up by 7. That's got to stop. Sorry, Tish. We'll have to cut back on those really late night chats! I need to make to-do-lists. I need to accomplish the things that are expected of me. I need to manage my money, my life much better. Like I said a week ago, many of you won't notice any changes. Some of you will. All in all, the events of last week will have a positive effect on me. I'm going to insist on it!

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