When I first started Matt’s Old Man Rants four-and-a-half years ago, the idea that I’d ever publish 100 blog posts never occurred to me.
Even after two years, the thought still hadn’t crossed my mind.
With the possibility gradually looming ever larger, I guess I eventually thought—or assumed, or even hoped—that my 100th post would be something monumental. You know, something important, hard-hitting, or even a bit controversial; something I’m passionately ranty about; something suitably meaty and worthy of a blog’s centenary.
And yet, here it is: blog post #100 and not a rant in sight, old man or otherwise.
What’s that you say? You feel the earth move under your feet? Not from this baby, you don’t! Far from being indisputably rant-worthy, this post is actually just a bit of fluff. It’s light and breezy, probably a tad pointless and maybe even gratuitous. Why? Just because it is. And because I can. And also because I really want to celebrate making my century with this thing.
But seriously… this post is actually something of a (perhaps unexpected) homage.
A couple of months back, I racked up fifteen years’ service with my beloved employer. At twenty-seven years of age, I was just a slip of a lad when I first crossed the threshold of that building; over the years, that doorway’s literally** borne witness to me growing, maturing and changing, both personally and professionally.
[**ALERT—pointless overuse of a pointlessly overused word! What that doorway may or may not have seen is absolutely metaphorical.]
Over a decade-and-a-half, I’ve been taught and I’ve learnt—sometimes formally, but quite often by osmosis—skills and disciplines that I’d never even heard of, let alone dared to think I could master, in my previous (hospitality and retail) lives.
I’ve earned more money than I ever dreamt imaginable, after many years of just scraping by (never mind breaching the glass ceiling—often, my only focus was on reaching the breadline).
I’ve been sent interstate to work, I’ve been sent overseas to work and, once, the entire company was sent to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast for a day. All of us. Every single one.
I was lucky enough to experience a fairly rapid upward trajectory for much of my first decade with the company; with one promotion after another came a succession of impressive-sounding job titles—and with four of them came two things I’d long thought only other people were lucky enough to get: a work mobile and business cards! Yes, business cards! I’ve never been sure why, but I was more excited about them than I was about the phone. Until very recently, I still had those four nearly full boxes of business cards; mercifully, I ditched the Blackberry quite a few years ago.
As odd as it might sound, though, after fifteen years of employed matrimony two things stand out for me above all else, both of which are entirely unrelated to any role I’ve ever held or any work I’ve ever done. Because, credit where it’s due, my current workplace was instrumental in forming what’s become my ongoing involvement with the two great passions of my life: singing and writing.
One Friday back in 2002, a teammate gingerly approached me, knowing I was a bit precious after the previous night’s karaoke shenanigans, and said “I hear you have quite a singing voice” (or words to that effect). I suspect I blushed, although I was probably so green that it was undetectable. Or maybe I turned purple.
At the time, my experience of singing outside of the shower or my bedroom was limited:
- in Year 10, I played the lead role in the 1989 school musical, The Dracula Spectacula—yes, it was as appalling as the name suggests it might’ve been;
- in Year 12, I somehow became involved in the 1991 school musical, as a member of the chorus. Not recalling how I became involved is only the start. In fact there are only two things I do recall about it (and, even then, only vaguely): the first is the chorus doing a rendition of Eurythmics’ Would I Lie To You?, the theme of which was somehow relevant to the plot; the second is that I scored the gig of the male lead’s understudy, despite me not being a member of the school’s extracurricular drama group, nor the actual drama class, nor even the music class (all three of which provided 100% of the rest of the cast and crew). Bizarrely, I have zero recollection of anything else to do with the production or its performances. I can remember things that happened when I was three years old, but for some reason I’ve forgotten virtually everything about this;
- in 1996 I began eighteen months of vocal tuition with my Year 9 music teacher’s sister, until she told me, on what ended up being my final night of tuition, that aside from getting me a scholarship to the Conservatorium of Music, she couldn’t do anything more for me. I didn’t quite know what to do without my Tuesday nights spent singing from a Carpenters songbook—maybe I went back to Melrose Place viewing parties?;
- one icy winter’s night in 1999, I meekly stood at the front of a small stage at what was then (allegedly) Newcastle’s “premier” LGBT venue, poised to deliver what I hoped would be a stunning karaoke rendition of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn. Let’s just say that my vocal ability, which wasn’t exactly ‘stunning’ if I’m honest, was entirely offset by the utter humiliation of continuously shaking hands and knees, along with bucketloads of sweat pouring from every orifice of my body. Never before or since was I so pleased to stop singing anything. The last few lines of the song really told the story: I’m cold and I am shamed… I’m already torn. I was also quite damp. And convinced I’d never sing in public again.
Fast forward to April 2002 and a Thursday night of after-work drinks. Much vodka-fuelled debauchery convinced me to put three years of karaoke-related anxiety behind me and a colleague and I ended up performing a duet of Shania Twain’s From This Moment On. And then maybe something else. And then possibly a third. To be honest, I really don’t know how many songs we attempted to drunkenly sing that night. It had all become quite the blur before we’d even finished.
Six months later, and the colleague (now a dear old friend) who’d approached me in all my hungover green glory that April morning was diagonally behind me over my left shoulder on lead guitar; I was at the front of a stage, flanked by two other vocalists either side, with a second guitarist, a bass player and a drummer behind us.
For six months, I’d found studio rehearsals nerve-wracking enough. Now, for the first time in three years, I’d been talked into taking to another stage, but this time with a live band to perform lead, shared and backing vocals across a ten song set, in front of about three hundred people. It was, all at once, an incredibly frightening dream come true.
Many iterations later and, as recently as last Christmas, that same band was still playing together, albeit with me and our CEO as the only common denominators with that September ’02 gig. At some point I started writing my own lyrics and, later, with the help of a former band mate, I started recording my own compositions. A few months ago, I was even invited to write, arrange and professionally record the vocal hook for a song by an up-and-coming Sydney hip hop artist. It seems the older I get, the more everything I ever secretly wanted in my younger years is coming together.
Which brings me back to mattsoldmanrants.com.
It was an all-staff work event in 2012 that first introduced me to blogging. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that there was a blogging workshop on the day’s agenda. I don’t think I fully comprehended what a blog was at that time, although it’s fair to say I was an immediate convert—if a late adopter—to the cause.
Of course, if I’d not worked where I’ve worked these past fifteen years, it’s entirely possible that other opportunities to draw me into the worlds of music and writing may well have arisen. Or maybe I would’ve found the same opportunities with some other employer; certainly, they’d never been apparent with previous employers, but who knows how my alternative future might’ve panned out?
What if I’d turned right instead of turning left on that fateful day in 2001 when, for the first time, I headed into the building in which I’ve subsequently spent more waking hours than any other?
So, even if belatedly, happy anniversary baby—got you on my mind. The fundamental things apply as time goes by. I’ve had the time of my life, I never felt this way before—I swear it’s the truth and I owe it all to you! Even the nights are better since I found you. You were amazing and we did amazing things and if I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a single thing.
OK, maybe a single thing. Or a couple. Or a few. Or maybe a handful. But not many.
And on that note, I’ll leave you, dear reader, to identify the respective sources of that delightfully cobbled-together statement. Bonus points if you get them all!