July is Going to Kill Me

I wouldn't say I dread the month of July each year, although it's certainly the busiest month, sometimes moreso than the holidays at the end of the year. Lately, it seems like the beginning of each year, January and/or February, are the toughest. In 2008 I nearly lost my favorite cat. In 2009 I nearly lost my dad. “Nearly” is the operative word in both cases, but it was still a scary time. July isn't tough emotionally, but it is tough in terms of my schedule.

I think at its worst were the years in which my father and I played for a community band for his old high school. Starting the last week of June and going to the last week of July, we'd have two hour rehearsals every Tuesday and Thursday night, and concerts down by the water for the first four of July's Fridays. I enjoyed it, because although it wasn't a paying gig, it gave me the opportunity to read sheet music and play new songs, something I lost touch with after I graduated high school. But after I graduated college and got a full-time job, and started becoming more and more active with fire department bands and Italian festival bands, those four concerts and ten rehearsals began to take their toll. Some years we had to miss a rehearsal or a concert because it fell on the same day as one of our paying gigs. One Summer, the district discontinued the program due to budget cuts. The following year, when the band started back up, we didn't return, and haven't since. I enjoyed my time there, but it got to be too much. I was also seeing the younger generation come up, and felt bad that I always had the solo on Edelweiss. After a decade, it was past time to give someone else the opportunity to be in the spotlight.

This year, several factors are starting to give me that sense of being overwhelmed. My company offers two types of mailings along with our sweepstakes. In one, we sell magazines, while in another we sell an assortment of products. Magazine mailings are a lot easier for me to design and take a fraction of the time, and I've been fortunate to be assigned two or three in a row. But now, in my busiest month, I'm back on a product mailing, with all the additional photography and direction that goes with it. Throw in a few extra administrative meetings and some extra assignments, and suddenly I can't take as many vacation days as I could these last few months, or leave at a decent hour.

I've also been training for a race on July 28th, one I've only participated in twice before. It's only 3.5 miles, but since deciding last month to sign up, I've been trying to run a minimum of 5 miles a day. If I can get myself used to that, then the shorter distance will be much easier mentally and physically. I spend an hour on the treadmill every night, and my best distance in that time is 5.69 miles. Between leaving work late and extra time at the gym, many nights I don't get home before 9 PM. It's starting to catch up to me, but I only have to do this for a few more weeks.

And finally, overlapping work and working out is the fun stuff, my hobby/second career. I played a parade on the 4th of July as I always do, two miles that wasn't so bad compared to past years when it was almost 95 degrees out. This Saturday, I'm playing another parade, thankfully not far from where I live for a change, and likely the last gig of the year with that band. On Sunday, I have to catch a bus at 6 AM that will take me on my now annual journey to the Padre Pio Shrine in Barto, PA, where I'll be playing with one of my Brooklyn-based Italian groups. This Wednesday evening after work I have another gig with that same group, a new one in Queens that will supposedly go from 8 PM to 9:30 PM, and hopefully not much later. The next morning, I'm taking off from work as I have to be in Brooklyn at 8 AM for our annual July 16th feast, which will last until 2 or 3PM. Then it's back to Queens to the place we're playing at the night prior, where we'll perform again from 5-8 PM. On Friday, I'll then go back to work and catch up on anything I missed. I've been trying to work ahead, but I can't anticipate everything. I'll get a week to catch my breath before I have to be in New Jersey on July 26th with another Italian band, and then 2 days later is my big race.


The good news is I was originally supposed to play on the 27th for another feast which unfortunately went to a different band this year, so I get a break. And August is light so far, with only 2 gigs, both falling on the same weekend. This weekend and the subsequent week are definitely the start of my challenges. My impeccable timing even has one of my IRA CDs maturing, so I have to get to the bank this weekend as well. And somewhere in there I'm going to mow the lawn here. And my Aunt is visiting from Florida so last weekend we had to mow the lawn and trim the hedges at my dad's lot in case she drove by there to check out their childhood property.

No, July is never easy. But I'm never bored, and it always goes by quickly.


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