I Can’t Drive 55

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months now. It’s as much for me as about me, but I’ll do my best to make it a worthwhile read. As Kurt Vonnegut once suggested, “Use a reader’s time in such a way that they won’t feel that time was wasted.” A few words of warning:

• I use the word “I” in everyday discussion way too much, and this post is about me, so, if you’re not interested in how I’ve been doing, do yourself a favor and move on.

• I know exactly what I intend to discuss, but have no idea how I’m going to present it, so this could easily become a blogwreck in short order.

• I’m not a fan of the victim card, nor do I get along with folks who maintain a persecution complex. Everyone’s got problem’s, the world is not out to get you and deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.

That last one continues to challenge me. The universe is NOT a meritocracy. It’s just a universe. Go figure.

Everyone’s Got Dead People

The older we get, the truer this becomes. Many of my old school mates and friends have already lost one or another of their parents. Some have lost children. The recent swath of musician and celebrity deaths cutting across our daily feeds has been pretty intense. No one gets out alive and I don’t believe in the hereafter. So my dad went to his grave convinced he would see me again. I watched him go certain this was our final period of time together. He said I would come around eventually. I said nothing to challenge his beliefs. Who knows? One day I’ll cross that threshold myself, and I’d love nothing more than to be completely wrong in my own ideology and run flying into my father’s waiting arms. It would be such a comfort to believe I’ll see my father and brother again.

But I do not.


So most of my friends know I lost my brother, Duane, in 1998. He’d broken his ankle, and while waiting for surgery, a blood clot formed. When he went to lift himself from the gurney to the operating table, it dislodged, traveled up to his heart and killed him almost instantly. He was only 34. This untimely death of their first born son devastated my parents. I knew I had to be the rock for them during that time – Duane would have wanted me to step up. So I did, but I suspect denying myself my own proper grieving period haunted me for many years.

We’ve all got dead people. We’ve all got jobs and obligations. With support and understanding from friends, somehow, we move on.

In April of 2013, my father, who’d smoked nearly 3 packs a day of unfiltered Pall Malls for over 40 years, was diagnosed with lung cancer. The initial prognosis was optimistic – chemotherapy could knock this sucker out. But the chemo made him weak. His body couldn’t take it. He died six months later, in September 2013.

We’ve all got dead people. I’m fortunate that I had a job at the time that allowed me to spend two afternoons a week sitting with him those last two months. And he was lucid up until the last two days, and under hospice care, so he felt no pain. There are certainly worse ways to go.

But This Is About Me, Remember?

In May of 2004, I experienced a massive panic attack on my way to work, barreling down Cross County Highway at 60 mph. To this day, it’s the worst panic attack I’ve ever had, although I’ve since had a few that came close. Prior to this event, I’d had a number of sporadic anxiety attacks, going back to my early twenties, but nothing nearly so incapacitating as this. I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. While we’re at it, I’m also an introvert (INTP for those interested in a Meyers-Briggs sort of way), more than a little agoraphobic (not formally diagnosed, but I know a thing or two about me) and anti-social (surprise!) to boot.

I managed my Panic Disorder through medication, a psychiatrist, and a therapist. Then my dad died. Then the occurrence and severity of panic attacks and related symptoms (it involves a lot of time stuck on the john) led me to a situation where it seemed best to register my condition with my employer as an FML-protected malady – meaning they couldn’t fire me for any attendance issues related to Panic Disorder. Before long, my corporate job went south. You do the math.

And my panic disorder has been growing worse ever since. I’ve gone from seeing my psychiatrist twice a year to once a month. I’ve filed for disability as I struggle to maintain a very modest income working from home.

Who’s Gonna Drive You Home Tonight

The most difficult aspect for me is, I used to love to drive. I consider myself an excellent driver. Driving, just for the sake of driving, to think, listening to tunes as the world passes by, used to be something I enjoyed. Now it is a struggle. An endurance test. Simply put, fear of another panic attack while sailing down a highway, or even the back roads of Indiana close to home, mixed with an increased frequency of actual panic attacks while driving, essentially nixes my ability to report for work at a concrete and mortar job. At least for now. My psychiatrist and I continue to work on this via medication and the construction and fine-tuning of a daily routine and long/short term goals. Lists. Checklists. A PLAN for chrissakes! One of my daily activities now is to try to get out once a day and drive for 10-20 minutes.

Understand, it’s quite embarrassing to admit this.

A few related sidenotes here:

• My therapist, an awesome force of nature who recently retired, spent 12 years off and on trying to get at the root of “why” I have Panic Disorder, like a detective, or a doctor trying to locate the tumor so we could remove it.

• Only recently, as my visits with my psychiatrist have increased, did I learn she has a completely different approach. She actually told me, “I want you to stop trying to figure out why you have panic attacks. You have a medical condition. It’s no mystery. Don’t waste time trying to solve something we already know.” Time will tell how this new way of looking at it will help, but it was kind of an epiphany to hear this.

• I would have been one sunk battleship a long time ago without the amazing support and patience of my wife, Jill. She’s currently the chief bread-winner in our house, and she’s watched me lose days, even weeks of my life to extended bouts of depression brought on by my current situation. She’s been priceless and I love her so much. This article gives a pretty fair idea of what she’s had to contend with. Thank you, honey.

I Have To Believe It’s Getting Better

That does not mean my current struggle hasn’t caused some collateral damage. I am keenly aware on an unspoken level of the continued frustration my wife often feels. I know sometimes it spills over into resentment. I know she’s a saint for not letting bitterness get the better of her. We’ve had our moments. This whole thing is stressful for her on it’s own level, unrelated to me, as our financial situation has slowly dissolved from peaches and cream to just squeaking by. It ain’t easy. I know. It’s important to understand I haven’t become catatonic – I’m fully aware of how crazy and maddening this period has been for all concerned, not just me.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve thought on more than one occasion, “If only I had some decent life insurance …” Thankfully, I’ve never felt inclined to suicide (believe it or not, I consider myself an optimist), but I’m hardly immune to morbid thoughts – especially during periods of depression, which I’m trying to manage, but seems to come and go, and seems to have been doing more coming than going the past year.

But one thing that keeps me going, keeps my wife going, keeps my family going, is the firm belief that things will get better (see? optimist!). This is not a permanent state. But just like I didn’t get to this point overnight, I’m not going to get out of it overnight. Small steps, do what you can, and do not beat yourself up when you fall short.

I still have my family. I still have ways to make money to support them. I still have dreams as a musician. I can still write. I’ve almost completed an EP that could perhaps be described as “Music to give up all hope for mankind to,” as the subject matter is a cathartic snapshot of many of the events and issues I’ve described here in blog form. Once I complete that, I intend to start writing some jingles, because I can and because there is a potential to make money that way. Also, it’s time to double-down and renew my job search for work at home opportunities in my field (design, research, social media, marketing). If I can at least get some additional part-time, freelance work, that would make a huge difference. So I need to update my online portfolio and get back to work.

I’ll continue to challenge the driving bug, and the larger panic disorder in general, bit by bit, day by day.

Long term, I have a Sci-Fi concept album (feel free to listen to some rough instrumental mixes) I’d like to work on, a number of singles and one offs, and further album ideas already bouncing around. I’d like to start a Facebook page for my band (my wife sings and plays some bass), Sturgeon’s Law.

I want to be a great husband again, because my wife deserves so much more than just “good” or “well-meaning,” and there’s always room for improvement as a father to my two boys.

It’s not like everything’s gone to shit because of my Panic Disorder and associated depressions – check out this video. It’s an international collaboration making music with some good folks (including one very pretty and talented lady) that culminated in this song. It was so much fun putting this together that we’ve all decided we’d like to do it again sometime.

Hope springs eternal. Sometimes I just forget to look up. So if you are ever feeling down, first, be nice to you. Second, don’t forget to look up from time to time.

~Sean Foley
January 2016

The Day I Met Lemmy

The concert was at longtime Cincinnati club stop Bogart’s. Possibly 1986, possibly 1987. The opening act was a band my friends and bandmates were unfamiliar with – the CroMags. A few random memories flashing by … My good friend and fellow guitarist Dan passed out drunk at a table before Motorhead even went on stage. The place was pretty much packed – Bogart’s is basically a 1,000 seat venue. Used to be a movie theater back in the day, I’ve been told. I’ve played there three times myself. Once to a packed house. Fun 🙂 I used to wear my denim cutoff vest covered in nothing but Motorhead patches EVERYwhere I went. My band at the time covered their songs “The Chase is Better Than the Catch,” and “Iron Fist.” I learned how to draw a pretty good cartoon likeness of Lemmy that made it onto all my school folders, some brick walls, and maybe a school desk or three.

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Lemmy Was Punk

Hell yeah. An early, pre-Slayer Reign in Blood look at a good “mosh pit,” before they were called that. It was punk slam-dancing, courtesy of a number of CroMag fans who stormed the floor for the opening act. Us metal heads mostly just hung back and observed what would be commonplace behavior at thrash metal shows within a year or so.

The CroMags put on a good performance. Most of us ended up with a copy of their first LP, “Age of Quarrel” just days after the show. They even used footage from this Bogart’s concert for a promo vid for “Hard Times” (blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s there in a few cuts).

But those crazy punks mostly stuck around for Motorhead. The slam-dancing continued, maybe a bit less frenzied now that a few of the thrashers were joining in. I remember Motorhead was incredibly loud. They sounded easily twice as loud as the opening act. For all I know, that very night was one of many that contributed to my partial hearing loss at certain frequencies.

Motorhead was loud. Fast. Unrelenting. And the punks I knew later in life always gave Motorhead and Lemmy props. Whether you were a punk or a metalhead, you respected Lemmy. That respect was so universal it made into a Hollywood movie several years later …

Lemmy Took No Shit

During this incredibly loud gig (it was their Orgasmatron tour, probably the second best thing to seeing the original lineup), the crowd was screaming between every song. I don’t think Lemmy ever got tired of club gigs, even though his band would spend a lot of the 90s and 2000s playing more festival-type shows. I saw Motorhead again while I was living in California as part of some kind of Rockapalooza-style gig with Alice Cooper and Judas Priest in 1991/92, whenever their 1916 album came out. Even in your typical massive festival-style massive outdoor amphitheater setting, I remember grinning when they came on and were quite simply, louder than hell.

Anyway, back to the 80s gig. A few beers and other items (lighters and maybe a 9-volt battery) were being hurled onto the stage – this was probably more of the punk crowd, who enjoyed showing band appreciation by hurling whatever was handy at the band. Still fairly early in the set, after one object, probably a lighter, caused Lemmy to dodge, he immediately stopped the show. Like, on a dime. A hand went up, his thunderous bass went silent and the band very quickly followed suit.

Lemmy went on to inform the crowd that throwing stuff at the band was stupid and irresponsible – someone could lose an eye – and that if a single object further came anywhere near the stage, he and the band would walk off. Period.

I don’t recall seeing a single ‘nother object, not even a paperwad, go airborne for the rest of the show. Lemmy had spoken.

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Lemmy was Funny

After the show, my little gang of friends were at the front of a loud, boisterous bunch waiting for the band at the back door of the club. My lifelong friend and drummer in at least 5 bands I’ve been in, was super-stoked at the chance to meet Lemmy. We all were, but Jim was almost beside himself. He and I were standing front and center when Lemmy finally emerged. He walked out of the door right into me and Jim and probably a couple dozen shouting maniacs just behind us, all bellowing his name and the band’s name.

Lemmy appeared much shorter than I expected. I mean, he was a towering Rock God in our books. If I had to guess, I’d say he was 5’9″ or 5’10” tops. So there he is, with a giant bodyguard to one side, the other band members slowly shuffling out behind him – y’know, time for autographs for the diehards. But for a brief moment, I remember this surreal tableau. Me, Jim and Lemmy forming a triangle, just a few moments before it dissolved into a surrounding crowd.

Jim could not contain his excitement any longer. In true metal-head fashion, he put his nose about two inches from Lemmy’s and bellowed at top volume, “Lemmy! Fuck Yeah! Get CRAZY!!”

Two inches from Lemmy’s nose.

Lemmy, in that unmistakably raspy voice equal parts alcohol, smokes and wisdom, calmly put his hand up. I think he even put it on Jim’s shoulder, in a kind of “there, there,” gesture. Jim and everyone who had been shouting just a moment before went silent. Lemmy was about to speak.

“You need to be quiet. If you really want to get crazy, remember, crazy people are QUIET people. That’s crazy, got it?” He didn’t raise his voice above a low conversational tone. He didn’t have to. Everyone heard him. Jim stopped yelling in his face and abashedly spoke to Lemmy (which is all the man was asking for) about being a huge fan while he got the legend’s autograph.

This was before smartphones and selfies, and most teenage metal heads didn’t carry cameras with them. Bowls, rolling papers, bag of weed down the front of the old jeans maybe, but not cameras, not usually. So I don’t have a picture of this moment. But I don’t need to.

After all, I think I just painted it for you and for myself. It was a beautiful (and funny) moment for me. I have heard it said repeatedly by celebrity after celebrity that Lemmy was a very kind and thoughtful man. And that’s what I saw that night. This was back when were all pretty sure that if this “glam metal” thing continued much longer, Lemmy would hunt down all the Slaughters and Poisons and Ratts and EAT them and spit out their bones. Lemmy would spend his entire professional career with a reputation for being a Bad Mother Fucker, and he didn’t mind the mileage he got from that rep. But he was a nice guy. Big Beatles fan. Much more intelligent than his “image” suggested, downright clever – just look him up on Wikiquote. And he regularly kicked Randy Rhoads’ ass in Asteroids while on tour with Ozzy.

I only met him briefly. We had a quick exchange I’ll always remember and he’d soon forget. He was a sensible, intelligent man. He signed our autographs and then headed off to Motorhead’s tour bus, soon to be followed by the rest of the band.

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Lemmy is God

So here’s the joke I hinted at earlier, as the man’s legend would only grow as the decades went on. It’s from the movie “Airheads,” when Harold Ramis, playing a record label rep was presenting himself as being into the whole metal thing to get the infamous band from the movie signed at any cost. The movie band wasn’t buying it, and the now famous question was posed to test the rep’s metal cred:

Q: Who would win in a wrestling match between Lemmy and God?

A: God. (Band gives him the “enhhhh!” wrong answer sound). No, Lemmy!

Steve Buscemi: Trick question, dickhead – Lemmy IS God.

Can’t think of anything that better sums up the reverence so many millions of fans came to have for the airman’s son, Ian Kilmister. Roadie and acid scorer for Jimi Hendrix (“I’d get ten hits, Jimi would give me three and drop the other seven,” he once reminisced), member and songwriter of space-rock band Hawkwind (“I basically got fired, but that’s OK, I fucked all their wives and girlfriends before I left”), founded Motorhead in 1975 (whose PR in the early years was simply, “if Motorhead moved next door to you, your lawn would die,”) and spent the next 40 years playing relentless, hard-hitting rock and roll that inspired countless bands and fans, all of whom to some degree today mourn his passing. Motorhead was an obvious catalyst for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (which would give us Saxon, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch and even Def Leppard, ironically). The punks gave him mad props. The metal heads gave him mad props. He earned it all, album after album, tour after tour. Their latest album came out earlier this year. They tried to tour just a few months back, but clearly, Lemmy’s health was failing. Gigs were cancelled. But he fully intended to return and play for those fans. Lemmy stuck to his guns to the very end.

Living in LA for the past several years, Lemmy was a regular fixture at a club down the street from his apartment, The Rainbow. He would sit in the corner of the bar, not eating people or beating anyone up or surrounded by hookers. No, just quietly drinking his rum and cokes, smoking his smokes, and playing his favorite video game – one of those bar trivia machines – for hours on end. Somehow, according to the official Motorhead announcement of his death, that video game made its way down the street to his apartment. He died playing it, surrounded by family and friends. Probably had a rum and coke within easy reach.

An interviewer asked him a couple of years ago if he had any regrets. Lemmy thought for a brief moment before exhaling with firm certainty, “None.”

No regrets.


Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister
1945 – 2015


If you’d like to get to know this rock icon better, I strongly recommend watching “Lemmy the Movie” – a top notch documentary that came out just a few years ago.

dream all day

I could dream all day. I’ve always been a dreamer. Head in the clouds, deep in thought, imagination running wild, fantasy Walter Mitty-style as I wondered through the various mundane duties that make up real world interaction. Like all personality traits, I’ve found over time that there is advantage and liability in equal measure to be found in daydreams.

On the positive side, well, an active imagination seems to be an essential facet to artistry. As a would-be renaissance man, it has led to boundless intuitive leaps within countless creative endeavors. Songwriting, writing-writing, comedic writing, musicianship, illustration and design … I’ve always felt blessed by the power of dreams.

But I am on a quest to discover the reasons for anxiety issues which have plagued me since adulthood. What gave such life and power to the darker corners of my imagination? When did I lose control? Did I ever have control? Either way, when did morbid fantasy gain such power over me? I want that power back.

So what are the negative aspects of dreaming? I’m reminded of a particularly insightful passage from C. S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where a horribly afflicted castaway the crew has just rescued from a dark island explains that this is the place where dreams become reality. Immediately, just as I casually listed the benefits to daydreams, various crew members start smiling and going on about what a magical place, to have all your dreams come true. But not all dreams are pleasant. Some turns of the imagination lead to abject terror. The castaway tries to explain that it’s not just flights of fancy but ALL dreams. The sailors pause to let this sink in. Suddenly the captain and crew realize their danger and orders fly left and right to, essentially, get the hell out of there.

There is a universally recognized dark side to dreaming. The nightmare. I must visit this lost isle of dreams made real and face this darkness if I am to learn how to keep my own demons at bay.

what do you do when someone asks you to lie for them?

So a friend or coworker just walked up and dropped a plea in your lap that began with “Can you do me a favor?” and ended with a request that you commit some little white lie to help them out of a bind. What to say?

I’d suggest something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t lie for you. It’s a personal thing. I would like to help out, though. What else do you think I could do for you?”

This let’s them know upfront the falsehood part is out, but assures them that you are in their corner and would be happy to help in some other capacity.

It’s not easy being cheesy. Let me know if this helps.