Thursday, August 21, 2014

Leaving From the Wet Plain

©2014 by LeeZard
Shitty Poster tied to a Shitty Tag Line
I arrived in soggy Seattle February 9, 1974 to become News Director for the brand-spankin’ new KZOK-FM, “OK102-and-a-half.”  It was a shitty tag line then and it still is today. Wouldn’t you want to be more than just OK? As usual, I digress. 

I left Renton, WA, just east of Seattle, on August 11, 2014, relocating to Colorado Springs, CO where, I hear, they have four seasons each year. 

Garden of the Gods, a city park in Colorado Springs
Has it really been 40 years?

 When I arrived in Seattle I was just shy of my 27th birthday, newly married to (I thought) the love of my life and riding the crest of success as a broadcast journalist in the nascent Progressive Rock format on the FM band (can you say Hippy Radio?). Back then you could use the words “broadcast” and "Journalist” in the same sentence with a straight face and we used the burgeoning commercial FM boom to pioneer a style of journalism heretofore unheard of on the airwaves. 

We concentrated on issues instead of events that were important to our listeners. We reported in long-form on these sometimes very dry matters and to engage our audience we wrapped the news in a mix of humor, attitude, music and high-production values. It was our version of Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Journalism. We weren’t always objective but we strictly observed the tenets of our trade with accuracy and fairness to all parties involved in the stories and the listeners loved it!
Unfortunately we also aped Thompson’s penchant for alcohol and drug abuse, a practice that would play a central part in my Seattle experience.
About a year-and-half after arriving in Seattle, the so-called love of my life left me for reasons that were vague until decades later. In the ensuing years I experienced (sparing you, dear reader, the messy details): 
·      Minor celebrity as one of Seattle’s top journalists (http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2002226566_kzam01.html); 
·      The social benefits of the above and being single at the same time
 ·     The agony of having it all ripped away at least in part by letting my ego draw me into a power struggle I could not win
 ·     A brief sojourn back to hometown New York City as an editor for ABC radio News; 
·      A downward spiral into the depths of late-stage alcoholism and drug abuse; 
·      A second marriage, this time to my enabler; 
·      The birth of two amazing kids; 
·      The miracle of recovery and sobriety; 
·      As a result of sobriety, restoring my credibility as a journalist; 
·      Finding my voice, really finding my voice as a writer; 
·      An acrimonious divorce when my enabler’s job description changed; 
·      As a result of the above, a heartbreaking estrangement from my two kids; 
Adam Joseph Somerstein at one-year
·      As a result of the above the birth of a grandson I’ve never seen in person;
·      Building a successful second career in PR, marketing and media relations; 
·      A romantic relationship – a sober, adult relationship – with an amazing woman who was not ready for the commitment I desired; 
·      As a result of the above, the emergence of a loving, deep friendship with the aforementioned amazing woman; 
My Baby!
·      The agony of having it all ripped away in the Great Recession – my six-figure job, a beautiful new home and my beloved 2005 Porsche Boxster S;
Stutz and I have been friends for 42 years!





 ·      Living, for the first time in my life in extreme poverty; 
·      Making friends with whom I will be close to no matter where I live;
·      And, finally, meeting a woman who might be willing to love me in equal measure.

Yeah, that’s a lot crammed into 40-years. If you look at the entire second half of that list, you get a pretty good idea why I’ve relocated to Colorado. Bottom line, it was just the right time in my life; it seemed to me I’d accomplished everything I could in Seattle. It was the right time to leave.
People talk a lot in Alcoholics Anonymous about active drunks often moving in an effort to run away from their problems. It’s called a “geographic.” That was probably me in 1974; I was running away from myself. The problem was, I followed myself to Seattle.
This move is different. My so-called problems are fewer and smaller. Probably the best thing out of my 40-years in Seattle is that I finally grew into the man I’m supposed to be and he ain’t half bad. I hate this cliché but I am actually comfortable in my own skin, fully recognizing there’s always more work to be done to constantly grow and evolve.
This “geographic” is not about me running away from anything. It is about me running to the next chapter in my life. Could anything be more exciting?