Looking Back on a Decade

At the end of each year, typically on New Year’s Eve, I take a look back at the year gone by, ahead of refocusing on the new year shortly thereafter. Seeing we’re now entering the 2020s (Happy New Decade!), I thought it might also be interesting to take a look at the decade that just ended.

Looking back at my year-end reviews to refresh my memory was kind of trippy. There were decidedly some trying times, some times of extremely little accomplishment, and some times of a good deal more accomplishment. Rather than providing some sort of long-winded narrative, I thought I’d try to distill some statistics and highlights:

Got Divorced: The 2010s started out with the end of my 26-year marriage. As divorces go, ours was civil, and our children were adults by that time, so that simplified things immensely.

Entered My 50s: I also turned 50 during the first year of the decade. It would have been a perfect time for a mid-life crisis, but I didn’t have time for such foolishness.

Ran Out of Cash, Sold House: At the start of the decade I’d been trying to make a living as a songwriter for on the order of a dozen years. Despite some minor successes (e.g. a top 5 hit in Mongolia, cuts of my songs by a number of independent artists), I was not succeeding in making a living from that, and I was getting no bites whatsoever in attempting to find a day job. I ended up taking a loan against an old 401(k) account to fix up my house to sell it (and to be able to eat and pay bills while it was on the market).

Day Job Found Me, Bought Condo: My plan in selling the house had been to take half the net proceeds and move somewhere affordable enough that I could buy a place for that while leaving enough headroom to hold me over long enough to either find a day job or otherwise get income flowing. However, while my house was on the market I was approached about a possible day job. While I had extreme misgivings about the company, which turned out to be well founded, I was desperate on the financial front and strongly preferred to stay in Southern California, so I took it. The job didn’t pay enough to keep my house, but having income meant I wouldn’t need as much financial headroom, and I could buy a condo with most of the proceeds from the house to avoid having to move out of the area.

Did Lots of Performing: With the disruption of selling my house, living in an extended stay hotel for a few months, then moving into a condo, my home recording studio was non-functional for an extended period. However, I could still get out to perform, and I really picked up the pace on doing just that. Over the decade, I made music in public in one way or another a total of 1,034 times, or an average of 103 times a year. The yearly totals ranged from a low of 83 times in 2011 to a high of 137 times in 2015. (Last year’s total was 101 times, just below the decade’s average.)

Did Lots of Recording: Prior to the selling/moving/buying disruption, I’d had a fairly high period of recording activity, both for myself and for others. Once I got my studio back together in my new digs, I got back to the recording, though only for my own releases since time was now extremely limited on account of the day job. I released 3 full-length albums and 26 singles (some of which were eventually included on albums) over the course of the decade. I’d also participated in the recording of an album and several singles for other artists prior to my move.

Rick Pau's 2010s album covers
My albums during the 2020s included an album of Christmas carols, a pop album focusing on love songs (and unrequited love songs), and a pop-rock album about crossroads in life.

Did Some Songwriting: The interruption to my songwriting productivity was significantly greater than the disruption of my recording. However, I did write somewhere on the order of 30 songs during this period, with the greatest concentrations of new songs coming before the disruption and in the last year.

Got One New Indie Cut: At the end of 2018, an artist for whom I had produced demo recordings of a few of my songs back in the late 1990s and early 2000s released one of those recordings on a new album.

Became a Father-in-Law and a Grandfather: My son got married in late 2013, and he and his wife had a daughter in early 2019.

Took a Few Trips: Finances didn’t allow much in the way of travel early in the decade, and limited vacation at the day job I began in late 2012 didn’t provide time off for a while. I also had to get past the mental and emotional hurdles of traveling alone, which I’d really never done before. However, I did eventually get to do a little traveling, including a couple of family visits to Upstate New York, a road trip up and down the California coast in 2016, and the big highlight, a trip to Costa Rica in 2017.

Getting to see and photograph capuchin monkeys and other wildlife up close (and not in cages) was a highlight of my Costa Rica trip.

Lost the Day Job: My day job ended in late 2018 due to financial issues at the company. I’ve done a bit of IT consulting since then, but I have not found another day job to date. In the meantime, I have also been focusing on trying to make headway in the music industry. I guess that puts me back where I started the 2010s in some ways.

Lost a Bunch of Weight: I have lost on the order of 55 lbs. since late Summer of 2012, which works out to about 23% of my weight back then. This has been over an extended period of gradual loss (and some ups and downs) as the result of healthier eating habits.

My “10-Year Challenge” photos from just before the 2010s started and the last year of the decade.

I wish there were something to add about love, other than of the unrequited sort. I’ll spare you the details on that front, though some of my songs just might provide some hints. I guess that will have to wait for the 2020s (hint to Universe), which are finally here! Happy New Year!