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Entries in recovery (5)

Tuesday
Oct122010

Ed’s Saturn-plus-Sabbath Saguaro and Smores Shindig

This is a bit of text I wrote on the 10/9 to attempt to make my 37th birthday one of significance since it falls between the more notorious 30th and 4oth birthdays. I uttered a shortened version of it at my party on Sunday the 10th. There were several people from a few strands of life:  from my present church, past church, from work, from extended home life and from the "pre-Saturn" period discussed below. Interestingly, a couple people already commented on the mix of folks there that night—from a couple guests and their young young kiddies to some of my folks who are entitled to discounts at restaurants! The whole time was special. I spent the day cooking a few dishes, and everyone brought more. I ended up sending a number of folks out with arms full of food. For my birthday, I was pleased to be so generous.

birthday poster for ed's 37th: a collage of the dead saguaro and other oddness.Happy birthday to me!

The last decade has been one of considerable change for me. In some ways even I don’t recognize the Ed who once walked the earth then. In a lot of ways, that is a good thing!

In late 2000 and about the age of 27, I heard about something called “Saturn Return” for the first time from Bryan Beller, bass player in Mike Keneally’s band (with whom I worked off and on, and that I was a drooling fanboy of). Saturn Return is an astrological way to understand a life cycle of 27-30 years, the interval approximating the namesake planet’s full revolution around the sun. I don’t put a lot of stock in the astrological idea but Bryan’s tales of life upheaval around that age, reevaluating old roles and methods, was something that I knew awaited me. I felt it. A lot of life needed reevaluation since so much of my life then was unfulfilling and dead feeling. I was depressed and sometimes entertained suicide, and was only then making first steps to dig out of that hole.

One thing to address was my broken family. I took on the task of starting a new period of relations with my mother—the third such period following earlier times around the ages of 12-14 and later at 20-21. This caused upset with my father which still has not resolved itself. My grandmother on my father’s side was in her last months at the age of 91, and I don’t know that we closed the gap between us, but it was shrunk some in the months we had to talk before she was overtaken by dementia and then died, leaving me to find my way out of the crossfire between parents who hated each other and used me as the rag doll to be ignited and tossed between camps.

Maybe astrology is crap but there certainly was something to this 27 year thing!

The years from my 27th birthday till my 30th were indeed times of the strife and upheaval that the Saturn Return idea predicted. They were a time of death and of life revealing itself to me in the paradoxical way that these things happen. By the end of age 29, I was feeling more suicidal than ever, but never really let on to more than a couple people. It isn’t that I wanted to do it. I just wanted another life, and the life that needed living was not yet claimed. But weeks before my 30th birthday in 2003, I spent 11 days in a place called Halcyon House, a residential facility meant to address people in crisis, and to get a shot of new information and perspective with an aim to return to life better able to cope. One of the therapists was excellent at recognizing I had an existential crisis of intersecting life circumstances that just overwhelmed at the core. So he addressed me at that level.

Halcyon was one of the greatest things that happened to me, reorienting my compass in a way that nothing else had done until then. The quasi-monastic pace and order of things provided boundaries, and the lessons and therapy sessions got me off to a start in an examined life. Following that experience, I kept on with solo therapy for three years or more, couples therapy when Kelli and I were planning to get married and for a good while afterward. Visits with pastors, mentors, spiritual directors, and friends have all helped maintain that discipline through times that kept on being tough, often as a result of the shattered family experience.

It was just around that time when I also happened to get a first affinity for Jesus of Nazareth, the human man who became more and more appealing to me when by some divine and serendipitous circumstances, was presented to me as the quintessential human. He slowly became my hero as I found him to be quite countercultural, always seeming to turn conventional wisdom on its head. As I found myself in existential strife at both the personal level (family and home issues, feeling a failure, etc.) and the world level (peak oil, Bush-era political shenanigans, consumerism), the mind of Jesus seemed to have something that could address my concerns at both levels. It was the beginning of putting the pieces back together.

Okay, so that explains the first thirty years, and the whole Saturn description of things. Now, that Sabbath part, which, when added to the 30 years already discussed, gives me some reason to think that 37 is a birthday worth some reflection.

The Sabbath is not just a day off every week. It is a way of conceptualizing what is important, setting boundaries, framing time, and even economic relationships. A sabbath cycle, as mapped out in the book of Leviticus, is in sevens; a weekly cycle where people rest intentionally and participate in community life together; a yearly cycle where land is let to rest so it will remain vital; and a cycle of seven of those seven year cycles, ending in a year called the Jubilee. The Jubilee is the 50th year when debts are canceled and society is allowed to reset to maintain just relationships, and to reinstate people to the community who have been imprisoned or fallen through the cracks.

The idea of Sabbath is to organize relief and renewal opportunities into daily life; to place a boundary around work for human, animal, land, and social institutions so that the vitality is not sucked out of same, and so that justice can be done. Right relationship will prevail, says the logic underlying the Sabbath, and it will be done with intent to provide the space and a dose of God's grace to fill it.

My existential dilemma began with a relational crisis and is slowly being mended by equal and opposite effort and a lot of grace. Days of lonely agonizing in the pre-Saturn era have given way to more in-person relationships in the Sabbath era. Loss of the ever-troubling relationships with my parents have given way to many more father and mother figures than I ever had at once, some playing a role in practical ways, and others filling a massive gap in cultivating a spiritual life that my parents could not possibly fulfill under the best of conditions. Brothers and sisters that aren’t in the picture any longer are fading memories as people emerge to take part in shared life, vital conversations, and mutual assistance, in some ways filling the holes left by my family of origin. Grandparents, the keepers of the accumulated wisdom and they who delight in my progress as a person, well, they keep coming out of the woodwork! A time like tonight, a festive time to celebrate milestones in life, have been far richer than any I can remember with my family of origin, at least since before the age of ten or so.

Sabbath, a way of framing time to ensure renewal for all species, a way of ensuring that life is given a moment to just be, is something that I turn to when today (I was even asked to work this Sunday [when I had my party], of all days!) I need to prioritize one sacred day a week to make room for church, family, community and personal time. It wasn’t always so; the pre-Saturn days were times when I worked anytime and had no life, and used it as an excuse to remain at a distance from people. That of course was death for me, so by tenacity of will, I buck the occasional push to work on Sundays so that I can purposely maintain relationships with the people who have stepped in to be my new family.

(Now I have been greatly indebted to Lee Van Ham of Jubilee Economics Ministries for being one of the heroes of the last several years. He introduced me to biblical economics, Sabbath, and a vastly liberating thought system that helps me reach for the root of things. He’s in Chicago right now, opening other people’s minds at a mens’ retreat.)

So now I’ve explained the time part of this account, the 27+3+7 kind of math that gets me to the present at the big 3-7. And about that Saguaro?

My week in the Arizona desert for my Mens Rites of Passage was in a splendid canyon in central Arizona, the heart of the Sonoran desert where the saguaro cactus grow to be 20’ tall, like lampposts or telephone poles. Arizona state pretty miserably fails the welcome to immigrants test but it at least makes a felony of damaging or destroying these elegant towers that dot the landscape for hundreds of miles. (There is a case of some fool who shot one down, only to have it crush him to death as it fell on his dumb ass.) Saguaro with just a vertical tower are the young ones. It takes about 80 years to grow an arm. Hah! Thinking of it from my age perspective, it takes twice my age to mature enough to grow another stage. Maybe I am blessed to be on my path already. A couple hikes in the desert brought me face to face (figuratively speaking) with these things, which from ground level, are mighty. They stand like disciplined sages who have seen it all. That alone is a spiritual lesson, whether or not my teachers said a word.

dead saguaro cactus with its ribs looking like a cross and crucified man at onceDead saguaro cactus in ArizonaUpon return, I did a bit of research and found  of a Saguaro skeleton—ribs that drooped on a horizontal axis in a way that looked rather like the arms of a crucified man. That image of course is one of the most central images in human history. The picture I am referencing somehow looks like it is both the cross and the crucified in one form. The cross is a paradoxical symbol of the worst pain that humans can inflict and the place at which one can find God’s greatest love. Or, put this way, the intersection of the opposites of life is on the cross. My take on that is in my sense of relationship with others. That which was killing me was also the thing to save me. So goes spiritual paradox!

In 2003, I sort of articulated my feeling of being crucified by my womenfolk in a piece of photo collage art that I made that summer. The world was turned upside down, framed in by the female biological symbol which doubled as a cross, all perched on something indicating Golgotha. I was pretty torn up then.

I don’t recall any art that conveyed the equally shattered relationship with my father, but my blog poured all that out as the drama ensued for years to come. I spilled a lot of pixels processing that.

All of which is to convey a picture of how shattered things were. By the start of 2008, and one more attempt to relate to my mother alone (that lasted about three weeks at best), and after a solid year of staying clear of my father, I was making half serious talk about having a mock memorial service to make it possible to move on, to find new energy to live a life not so dragged down by all the toxic personalities I happened to be related to. Obviously we didn’t do that, but even framing my situation in those terms helped clarify what must be done.

Later that year I found myself drawing closer to my new church and the life there, which included small groups around spiritual development, young adults, and some book study interests. By later in the year, I was connecting with a new church in a way that felt my own, venturing into new relationships as a person with greater clarity and optimism. I joined that congregation in 2009 after a year or more of feeling it out, and feeling it was my time to step into community life, to throw my lot in.

The cross of broken relationships led to the resurrection of relationship itself. This makes resurrection undeniably real for me, and something not limited to a historical event of 2000 years ago. It may be that but I am here to say it is this too. Many among us might chafe at the language of being born again, but I don’t refute the spiritual truth underlying that. I put a finer point on it though, without even distorting the phenomenon of the transformation that takes place. If one is reborn at all, it is to be reborn for others. Reborn not for the sake of oneself, but for the sake of others, for community. My rebirth has been pretty agonizing for me, but one thing after another points to moving toward filling a role in the lives around me. I find it nigh impossible to even do some of the stuff I used to do for myself, like the endless hours in the recording studio, isolated, often angry and hurt, and all that stuff. That seems inaccessible to me now, even for trying to do so. Just as well. These days I find myself cooking for guests, opening my house, enjoying married life, doing digital media work pro bono for JEM, facilitating the young adults group, or sort of mentoring some of the younger guys at work—all stuff that had no precedent in the pre-Saturn time, but seems to be the only thing I am capable of doing now. It all flows so much better than the attempts a musicking a decade ago.  Maybe the idea of being born again would be less irritating if more people understood it as being reborn for the good of others. It would be a shame to endure all that mess of a life like I had in those years, only to come back as myself!

Saturn, Sabbath, Saguaro. Oh, it is fun alliteration, but each has had some value in framing my experience in this last decade of reinvention. Now, the Smores… that should be self explanatory!

Friday
Jan042008

The Exorcism: Epilogue

Some of my die hard fans have been on the edge of their seats in suspense, with fan mail pouring in to find out how things have been since my entire mouth was exorcised of dental demons in December. The saga continues.

Just under a month since it began and about two and a half weeks since it concluded, my gum surgery has been more or less moving into the rear view mirror. I don't expect I'll forget this one. Every drink or bite that is cooler than room temperature is pretty damned painful since more of each tooth is exposed now, and the gums sit closer to the root crowns where the sensitivity is greatest. Yeah, so far every drink or bite that is colder than I am has reminded me of this. Not that there is a problem with lukewarm water. But there is a problem with lukewarm beer or lukewarm cottage cheese, or lukewarm ice cream! The beer and cottage cheese have been sampled, but I have yet to venture near the ice cream!

The surgeries were finally performed over four sittings, spaced across eleven days. That was perhaps closer than I might ever want to do things if I had to do it again. The second half of December got to hurting a lot, though I had a pretty fine meal on Christmas night, though it was a matter of going real slow and starting off so that nothing really had to be bitten into and torn, like I would if I had to eat a sandwich. The gums themselves stopped hurting reasonably fast; the bones are what reminded me of the work. It took most of the time up till a few days ago to feel like I could bite into anything with any power. So, for much of the last few weeks, I've been holding my jaw in just such a way that it wouldn't clench nor would it stretch anything. I feel my speech has been real lazy for this time since I was really limiting the range of motion. There were a few remaining sore points that had cold sores. I asked about those and they are normal parts of the process. They would sting a bit when confronted with certain foods and toothpaste. That's over with now, and the motion is back so I can stretch out and whatnot, though I am almost convinced that my teeth are in different places in the back left bottom. After a few weeks of not closing completely, or being on a painkiller or having ice on things (only on the day of surgery), I maybe forgot how top and bottom fit together, and maybe I am just rediscovering it now. But there is a distinct feeling that things are in different places. Odd. So I still refrain from clenching, and certain chewing is also awkward.

The gums themselves are healed up and shiny and new, with no signs of incisions or repairs. They don't hurt anymore. They sit lower on the teeth, and it is interesting to behold some of the openings between teeth now. I have found a number of syllables (and combinations thereof) to be hard to voice properly and in normal speech. The spaces leak a lot of air. The tongue also touches different surfaces now—more hard, less soft. Or, where it used to block a space between teeth, it might not now. I guess I'll have to do what my grandmother always told me to do better: enunciate. (An interesting byproduct of this increased leaky space is that fluids can take advantage of the openings too. Sometimes swishing makes me sort of a slob. But less so now that I can more confidently close down all the way.) The good news is swishing does a lot more good now that there are bigger spaces that can't hold food bits as well, so a lot of the stuff departs after a few good swishes. Flossing is far easier now, as it was expected. The dentist gave me a spiffy little bit of pipecleaner called an interdental brush, which is meant to do what floss can't do.

Considering this has been one of the few experiences in my life where I genuinely knew dread, it hasn't been as bad as I anticipated. Each day's surgery was sufficiently clotted and trouble free by the next day. The stitches dissolved on the most recent side and left no hassle except for dangling bits that had to be pulled like loose threads sometimes. I don't particularly recommend that you wait as long as I did to get your teeth cleaned, and I don't recommend letting it get as bad as I did. But I do feel better now.

Wednesday
Jul282004

Sunset on the Single Life

kelli with flowing hair in a summer straw hat with flower a short while before our wedding day.I am getting married on the 28th of August. It is one month from now. We got engaged on the 16th of February. It wasn't that long ago. It was a cloudy, cold Monday and we were tucked into some blankets. It was about 6 pm or so. I had given Kelli the ring before (one that I received on the day my grandmother died, nearly three years before), sort of as a goofy gesture I am inclined to do. I had been warming to this new idea, obviously, but I don't think she knew that. We had been going to counseling for a few months, and that was starting to show some progress, and our life together was showing more promise than it had in a while. Let me put this out there now—I never had a proposal planned out. I knew she was good for a "yes." We've known each other for 14 years now. Anyhow, we were there, sort of fighting off the chill of the winter (all 50 degrees of it), and she asked me, "so uh, what does this ring mean? It's too big for my pinky, and its too small for my middle finger. I'll have to have it resized. What finger am I supposed to have it on?" To which, I said coyly, "I thought you knew that by now..." It was cute. That was, as much as anything, my proposal. Was I chickenshit, or just confident that I didn't need a plane to write it in the sky, or a banner hanging from a bridge, or a billboard on the way home from work? It was sort of a spontaneous thing, giving her the ring, and letting her wonder all week what all that meant.

I never really told that story before.

I had a mentor like figure in the music world who once told me he was about to get married at 30, but decided against it, because he was afraid he was doing it only because he was 30. At 46 he wasn't married. A little later on, he was. He got a 50% extension on the single life. I have always sort of had that story in the back of my mind, as I go ahead with the few relationships I have had.

Last year, at this time, life was utter hell for me. In fact, getting married this year on 8/28 is a few days short of the darkest day of my life so far, but the one that also was the biggest opportunity for turning shit around. A year ago, by my reckoning, I was supposed to be dead. September 4th was the day. No particular significance for that; it was just in the few short weeks before I was to turn 30. And, with 30 being one of those arbitrary ages when you are supposedly judged by people, I wanted nothing to do with it, because, at that time, I felt like an utter failure, and saw no need to get an award for it. I was a reasonably functioning clinically depressed dude. Two of my musical heroes, Jeff Buckley and Kevin Gilbert, had both died under "mysterious" circumstances in about a years' time. Jeff was 30, Kevin was 29. I guess I had some morbid fascination with them. I still love their music, but I gotta watch out how much of their mythology I take in. For me, as a frustrated artist and human being, 29 or 30 was as good a time to check out as any. I had my bags packed, so to speak. I just wasn't committed enough. The funny thing about the suicidal is that they are either on or off that bus. The ones who really don't give a shit just go ahead and do it. But here was me—I just somehow had to know what would be around that next corner. So I chickened out and called for help. Like the space shuttle when a piece of equipment fails before launch, the countdown to death by 30 stopped.

I didn't know what help would offer, or what form it would take, but I caved in and went for it. I ended up turning things around far better than I would have thought. I still am in solo counseling and couples counseling, and time permitting, a group. I've been doing most of this pretty solidly for a year. While I was at the residential center being tended to by nurses, counselors, a psychiatrist and my housemates, Kelli was always there for a visit. Rock solid. Of course, she hid the fact that my little antic scared the living shit out of her. Sometimes the stuff that women put up with just amazes me.

Kelli was one of the few things that made me put on the brakes that day. Of course I would say that, getting married as I will be, but really, it's more than diplomacy. Kelli and I have been on different paths, but have enough common ground to communicate this stuff to each other, but her experience in life has been one untimely death after another. It's terrible. And there I was, wanting to pull the plug on my own life. The thought that made me stop my little ritual was that she had lost enough, and didn't deserve to lose again if it were in my hands. I still had other people I wanted to spite, and other wrongs to right, but the look of Kelli being broken down again from losing another loved one? That was it.

I had expected that maybe I was going to miss my 30th birthday, but somehow, I didn't. And, in one of those really odd course of events that really makes a person know he isn't the boss of his own destiny, just two weeks after I got back from the residential care center, I got notice that my little job was going to be cut out of existance. I had been trying to think of better things, and this could have sucked me back in, but no. I found that the center I now work at was willing to have me on, based on a reference from the first center, and "how soon can [I] start?" That job, and the greeting I got on the first day ("we are so glad you are here") just sort of turned things around. All of a sudden, as bad as things were in August, they were great in October. It was like taking out the mental garbage. It was work. Kelli didn't understand some of it; the signs of her stress while I was gone were becoming evident. Meanwhile, I was riding a wave with my new job and just about everything else going good.

I turned 30, got a satisfying job (not super paying, but intrinsically satisfying), got into a few routines to change my outlook, and even put my studio back together. I got A grades in the three classes I have had since September. I am wayyyy more aware of my world, and that of the outside world. Instead of using doom and gloom as a weapon against myself, I am trying to use it as a force of change. I am a lot of things I wasn't last year. All of a sudden, the age that was supposed to be lights out, turned into the exact opposite. Do I still think the world is fucked up? Yeah, mostly. But do I feel I need to knock myself off for it? Not as much. I won't kid you. Some days can be pretty bad, but more of them aren't, and the 'bad day dots' aren't connecting like they used to.

So if my music buddy was saying he didn't want to get married at 30 just because he was 30, I ended up coming to the same decision about suicide. I guess I shouldn't do it simply because I am 30. But jeeezzzeeee, what a difference a year makes. And, what a difference a warm caring person makes. Its not that she wasn't here before, but I had fallen into a spiral of negativity that was like a black hole. She was always there as much as ever. And, trusting more and more that the future would be like that, it didn't seem all so bad. I have stopped mourning the inactivity in music. I still go in and mess with stuff, and I still have not come up with a damn piece of finished work in ages, but the energy I spent hating myself for it was better spent learning about my world or cutting a homeless person a break with some food or talk, or just sitting here in the company of my lovely fiancee.

My single life was the dying days. And now those dying days are dying. So be it.

Tuesday
Dec232003

Holidays

I don’t know about you, but this is hibernation season for me. All I do right now is work and sleep. Well, I guess I do get a little time in doing some other stuff, but naps have been plentiful to the exclusion of other stuff, like holiday shopping, parties and whatever else. I sort of like it, as I don’t really do the commercial thing for Christmas, so the season is one when I can sort of pay off a sleep debt and not care. There are more dark and cold hours, I’m inside more, and it's just right for a nap.

So, I don’t have a lot to report for the last month. I sort of slept it away. I didn’t really do any studio work despite intentions to do so. I didn’t bike much at all because I first got some stomach demon that spoiled a weekend and a couple days after that. Getting past that, a week later, I got a cold. I don’t think it was THE flu, but it spoiled my fun nonetheless. At least all I really had to do was go to work and finish off my schooling for the semester, which was really just one class, and I do believe I aced that, which deserves some self-praise. My last speech was the best I did, and I have reason to think the course as a whole grade is going to be just fine, and a good thing to reintroduce me to school after ten years away from that world.

As for the holidays, Christmas turned out to be quite nice for Kelli and me. She was down to begin with because it was not going to be spent with any family. I have been on a mission last year and this to make holidays something more than a time to grunt through. Holidays have been disposable in my small family for years and years. Little by little, any sense of joy or tradition has been sort of left to die over the last 15-20 years or so. It started with my step mom’s departure from the family just before I turned ten (last Christmas together was in 1982), and in the decade to follow, my grandparents sort of winding down in old age which changed the way we celebrated Xmas, and in the years since, the both of them dying, leaving my dad and I to our own devices since we sort of grew apart in those years. I just became a holiday orphan for about a decade from 1990 until a couple years ago. And in 1999, both Thanksgiving AND Christmas hit rock bottom for me. I felt so empty that year, so alone and forgotten. I needed to do something about that. So, with Kelli on the scene in the last couple of years, I have tried to make the holidays something, no matter how modest. I put out some things that belonged to my grandmother, and have been put up at the house for untold numbers of years—a wreath, creche, and some assorted other things that collect as the years go by. I still haven’t gotten a tree, but I religiously bring out my 12" tall ceramic light-up tree to deputize for a live one, same as grandmother used to do. Then I we sure to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and some others if I catch them, and this year was keen on seeing A Christmas Carol in its 1951 film form. This year I managed to miss A Christmas Story, but will remedy that next year. Kelli and I also got seasonal with some assorted tunes I downloaded last year, with a whole collection of Bing Crosby faves that sort of remind me of Christmases past (my grandmother had an 8-track of Bing Christmas faves I hated at the time, but now it makes me all warm and fuzzy hearing those songs done in his deep soothing voice. I could hardly imagine the season without those songs now.) Kelli and I also made some cookies from scratch for the first time, and enjoyed the hell out of them. We went to church and a party after that on Christmas Eve, a newer tradition of ours, this being the third year doing this together, even though we went separately for years before.

But then, on Christmas day, we had a whole day to fill. I called my step mom and offered to pick her up early in the afternoon, and had already offered to have my dad over. He doesn’t think much of Christmas anymore. For him, the fun went out of it years ago, and certain attempts he made at er, um, making it a brighter time (with company of the opposite sex, I think) have left him sort of alienated. I can understand the idea easily enough. The holidays are a make-or-break time for people’s emotional states. Both of us sort of “did” (not particularly “celebrated”) Christmas in our own ways for some time now, and to me, after losing both my grandparents and feeling pretty alone in the world, I wanted to make something more. So, the holidays have been the time to try to put things back in place, start something that may be the traditions that carry us for the next several years. I don’t have a lot of money to play the usual commercial Christmas, but I have been secure in my conclusion that that is a good thing. So, for the last few seasons, I have been trying to make the holidays a time of togetherness more than a time of trading gifts and stuff. It's sort of old fashioned, isn’t it? But that’s the idea. I think if people lower their expectations of what the holiday season should be, they may be pleasantly surprised in what it can be. It's funny. I work as a delivery driver, delivering to about 30 people. Just in the week or so before Christmas, I got a few things that just made my holidays. I was given a few boxes of See’s Candy, a wreath made from real trees, some other little bits of chow, a number of cards from my people, and about $50 which I spent on some dinner with Kelli and a gift or two. It was a very modest but pleasant thing. Then, on Christmas day, I managed to have both my dad and step mom in the same room for the first time in probably years, and for the first Christmas since 1982! The best part was that no one actually knew it was going to happen, though it was not an accident that it happened that way—I had tried to arrange this last year, but something didn’t pan right. Of course, this was the most pleasing part of the whole season. We all went out to dinner later on, after Kelli and I made cookies, kept a fire going all day, and shot a bunch of pictures with as many cameras that were on hand. Both of my roommates were around at different times, and John, the newest, came to dinner with us, and later on Gus was home, and had some wine with Kelli and I, bringing the night to a nice close after a really fine Christmas, and one that none of us had planned to happen the way it happened. Even the old man liked the experience and thanked me for having him over. Couple that with some yummy oatmeal & chocolate chip cookies, and I got me a good holiday!

Monday
Oct132003

I Guess This Doesn't Suck After All

Last week was spent stripping my kitchen of its cupboard doors and refinishing them and repainting the entire kitchen itself. It was something I had on the work sheet for over two years since my grandmother died in early 2001. The cabinets had been in her favorite color: yellow. Two tones of the stuff. Everyone who has lived here since (I’m on roommates six and seven now) has not liked the yellow but was too unmotivated for whatever reason to help me do anything about it. Now with the Gus and Sara, it's been a breeze getting stuff done because all three of us feel like making something of the place. I have my first female roommate in over five years now, and she is really motivated to see the place become home like and livable. After two and a half years of guys who don’t give a shit, that is a blast of fresh air. Hey, imagine always having to make decisions and do all the work yourself then imagine coming home from work one day to find some work is getting done on its own. It is nice to see some interest in the place come from someone other than myself, for a change. Gus the Greek is a hard worker and a great guy who wants to see this place take on the role of “home” too. I want to make the distinction between home and house. All the other people here but for one (the one that later tried to steal from me in the end) have been pretty much the garden variety young male roommates who don’t attach themselves to the place beyond a living space in exchange for some money. But this place is some place I grew up in, and in more recent years, have put a lot of work into. It's hard to keep it up, mostly as far as energy goes, and it's harder when no one helps. I really had to get people in here who would be more respectful and motivated to make it a place to really enjoy. So far, I have been totally jazzed on the fact that some strangers have come in and wanted to make it their own as much as I have. It means a lot to me after some years of the opposite. I’m not into all that feng shui stuff. I just think I’m done with the gross imbalance that has been my domestic life in the last few years.

I was going to say something about how it was 20 years ago that I first started to learn to play drums (with a hiatus for about four or five years in the late 80s). That may or may not be important. What I would like to say is that, now, 20 years after I was beginning to learn my first rock beats, it comes full circle. I played drums on Come and Get It for a Badfinger tribute CD arising out of an online Roland VS recorder group I used to haunt. My buddy and mentor figure Doug Robinson had me over to do studio work several times in the summer before and after I quit music in July. One day, he suggested we play some Badfinger tune, and that I play guitar on it. Well, two things happened: First I felt way inadequate to play guitar, then we found the song actually didn’t have guitar on it at all! So I went to the old standby, suggesting I play drums on it. We cut it in about three rehearsals with Doug on piano and me on his funky and vibey old sounding jazz kit that just got the Ringo feel happening in me. We recorded drums and piano in one room and in one take, with some seemingly random fixes punched in to put some more specific drum fills in (clearly audible if you listen for it, but mostly masked even to me who thought we should do it all over, but Doug persisted in leaving it sort of a hasty job with such human flaws so readily apparent). Then we did the percussion in one pass and he did bass. He sent that recording to a buddy who did the huge multitracked vocals. Doug got the tracks back to his place and mixed them (with a little contribution from me in the form of the warbly effect on his grand piano to simulate the Lennonesque detuned honky tonk piano tone on the original. Paul Horn, drummer in the TAPKAE band for about eight months, gave me props for hitting the feel right on. It's funny, after all the prog rock I have been so keen on, the stuff I still do best is the simple stuff, sort of like the stuff I learned at the very beginning. I don’t have to read it off a page anymore though.

Man, I just want to say how much I love Jethro Tull. I got the Heavy Horses remaster and it just shimmers like a jewel. It took me a long time to really like that album but more and more I find it one of the finest Tull releases ever. I like most all of the ‘77-’87 period best, ironically some of that is least liked by hardcore fans, but I say, hey! Tull is just the beacon for me in music. They are so unlike any other band, as far as I care. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for fallng back on Tull so much, but what can I say? They just come up with the goods for me. Ian Anderson finally made the really cool acoustic solo album he was always expected to make. Rupi’s Dance is really nice music overall. So far there is no tune that turned me off musically. The only bummer is that he can’t sing like he used to up till 1984. He can’t just go for it nearly as much as he used to. His instrumentals are as good as anything he ever did though. Ian is, to me, brilliant. This CD has him doing a lot of instrumental parts from the expected guitar and flute to accordion, bass, piccolo, mandolin and percussion. He has long been an inspiration for me.