One week until I shall be released. I find myself staring at billboards and wishing I could eat a Baconator. They said to get used to eating from a blender, but a blender is useless. My teeth are clenched, braced, wired and banded meaning only a liquid can navigate the precipice. No small particles, herbs, or fine choppings. Not even sludge. And everything I say sounds like “har har har.” Or like a kazoo through a pillow.
My culinary demands have even stumped Polly, very hard to do. I live on boxed soup purees, broth, whole milk, v8, and smoothies without seeds or any sort of pulp whatsoever. I drink five or six Ensures every day. I went to GNC and got a bucket of RAW ReBuilt Mass weight gainer with 850 calories per shake. Still, I’d give anything for a solid meal even if it were cafeteria meatloaf. They said I’ll get removable bands next Tuesday. Hooray for spaghetti.
On a positive note, I feel good. We got a paint job done with a little help from my friends, and I honestly thought it would be a much longer time until I’d be running around like that. Today we start a new one.
I hoped that the healing process would allow for some soul searching. I think I wrote about it here a little bit- trying to be a better listener, living more in the moment, and aiming not to stress. In actuality, I haven’t followed up too well on those intentions. I generally feel as restless as ever, complicated by forced silence, and the frustration that Ashley is popping popcorn as I write. I’ve been considering going to Nashville and sleeping in my truck, that sort of thing. Just kidding. Juuust kidding.
Like a million other days, I find consolation in music. Let me be clear in saying this is not some fuzzy place I like to go. Sometimes I feel like music has caused all the mess. I’m alone with it now, like a dysfunctional relationship. We go way back and we’re just plain mean to each other. I’ve sold off my instruments over and over but people keep giving them back to me. I’m a little nuts, but I believe instruments are sacred vessels with a reason why the particular ones are each in my house. And why the ones I’ve loved are where they are.
Music is kind of like the girl a few steps out of the boy’s league but likes the attention. More than ten years ago I’d go see guys like Dave Barnes and Matt Wertz and walk out of the room. Music would grip me by the shoulder blade and I’d light a cigarette or three, head back to my apartment and write something of my own. I walked out of a Ben Folds concert halfway once, let myself into a church on campus and finally fell asleep under the piano. I spent more time on the piano of the 23rd floor in Blanding Tower than I did in class. At one point my keyboard rig consisted of a Yamaha EX5 (Dave Matthews band era), a Korg synth, a VK7 organ, Roland rack units, a vintage Fender Rhodes, a MacBook running Ableton Live 3, a Roland fp3 stage piano, and the wooden shell of a real piano I’d disassembled. Plus an accordion.
I should have kept the Rhodes. Had a Wurly once too. A Nord Electro 2, twice. This is getting boring, I’m sorry. All of this to say, I’d invested to one day get on the big bus outta Nashville. But something happened.
I knew I was supposed to write songs. Not hide behind a fortress of noise. Little by little, and each with a good story of its own, all the keyboards are gone now. There’s an old upright piano that was left in a house down the street. I’ve got Frankie’s Telecaster, a pawn shop acoustic, my Martin DX1, and the classical guitar I found down in Mexico. We’re all doing just fine.
So when I say I find consolation in music, I’m really saying comfort in the past. For however it has gone. If it had been tours and record sales maybe the familiarity would feel the same. For me it’s just sitting in a chair and pulling out things to say. It’s the nature of a song to be sung, heard, and known if it is to exist. That’s the burden of it, and the part I have no talent for. So we sit in a chair together, reliving the oldies that are just between us. And a few of my friends.
Here’s what I tell myself. And whatever your struggle is, say the same thing. Good things don’t need recognition to be good. Spend your time where you must, where it matters, and where it makes time never matter. And finally, a lesson from literature: A Batman movie is only as good as its Joker is bad. I heard that somewhere.
I mean to say, be grateful when your situation looks impossible, foreboding, and with no end in sight. If it were easy, weak and short then it probably wouldn’t be worth the popcorn. I have an old friend called music who kicks me around but every time he comes by I listen for pieces of the tales while he has been away. Then I say, “Okay, blues in F” He smiles, hits the chord, gets up and walks out of the room.