A rushed visit home

Trip Start Mar 18, 2003
Trip End Apr 08, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Oklahoma
Thursday, August 17, 2006

In the nearly three and a half years of living over in Japan, I've now only made it back to Oklahoma twice. This trip turned out to be a blur - one big, packed marathon. It doesn't matter how much you plan in advance all that you need to get done, some things inevitably get swept under the rug or just plain shoved out of the way because of everything else. I had planned to finally get an International Driver's License while at home, but didn't even think of it until the last day (when it was too late). More frustratingly, I couldn't properly renew my normal driver's license - which expires next year - due to a lack of time to go through all the usual bureaucracy. And, perhaps most disappointingly, I didn't have even close to enough time to make digital copies of all those old travel photos from Central Asia, Georgia, Turkey, etc. I guess I'll have to wait to flesh out the other travelogue.

It was five years ago that I last experienced a typical Oklahoma summer. I remembered them being hot and humid, but I actually arrived to a roaster. Daytime highs the first week capped off around 108F (42C) on some days, which were only made worse by the asphalt stretches of ubiquitous strip malls around town. Fortunately some storms rolled in the second weekend to cool things down a bit, but Tulsa summers don't mess around! And people in Nagoya think they have it bad (well, they do, but that's largely because efficient central AC is practically unheard of)!

I got see pretty much my whole family, which was a very nice treat. The only ones missing were my twin nephews, who were up in Massachusetts with my sister-in-law. My brother in Texas and his family came up the first weekend, so we got to see each other for the first time in over a year and a half. A visit to the Tulsa Zoo was a big hit with my nephew. Then my other brother came down from Massachusetts with his daughter a few days later - unfortunately just after the others had returned to Austin! Due to the recording commitments I had though, we barely had any time together, as I had to head out of town the following morning. Still, we did go out to see the famous musical "Oklahoma!" at Discoveryland, which was admittedly an uncomfortably muggy affair. My niece was thrilled to be able to have her picture taken with the actors afterwards though.

From the 10th, my old bandmates and I began the recording mess. When I referred to a marathon, it was largely because of this very event. The initial plan was to record twelve songs together for completion as an album. Hope was riding on us being able to do the lot of them at my bassist Kieth's house in Cushing, OK on his fledgling recording system. This meant, of course, that we had to do a crash course in learning the ins and outs of the recording software by trial and error. It turned out that the software was the easier issue - it was the mixing board that was creating problems. Despite the fact that we had an eight-channel board, the computer was only able to recognize a single input (we later discovered the board didn't have a firewire); so, the multi-tracked drums, the double-tracked guitars and the bass track all fed in as one sole signal. Anyone familiar with recording would know what a nightmare this would create in mixdown (not to mention that we'd have to forget about punching anything in).

As a result, Jim, our drummer, had to go in and lay down drum track after drum track. Just messing about learning the ropes took one day. The drums took the next. That went smoothly enough to net us the bare bones of about 17 songs, plus 10 of the 12 album tracks from a previous session that we decided to keep for the sake of ease. From there, I had my work cut out for me: three days straight of practically non-stop guitar playing. 27 songs to record guitar lines for, almost all of which had at least two separate tracks (not to mention any punch-ins or minor corrections I might need to do along the way). Believe it or not, it actually got finished, but it meant three consecutive nights of finishing at 4am. Some vacation!

The last couple days I basically spent catching up on whatever I had time left to do. Clothes shopping, sorting through old stuff to get rid of, splitting time between my parents, returning the rented car. Somehow I even managed to cram in a bit of shooting around downtown. As stated before, the time didn't work out to be quite sufficient, but I can't say I didn't have a productive trip. My brother used to complain about how he felt like he never had time to catch his breath when he came home to visit. I think I've come to understand what he meant by that.
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