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What If It Was The Last Time?

To preface this entry, I’ll ask that you excuse me if I begin to ramble because I will assure the reader, I will proceed to make a point by the end of this, what promises to be lengthy, message.

I set out this morning, walking my dog Hank.

Hank hasn’t been with me long, he simply showed up one afternoon, roaming around in a nervous, zig-zag gait, towed in by another dog which soon magically disappeared. It quickly became apparent that Hank was old, and lost. He was also very hungry, which was soon remedied, but as I evaluated his situation, luckily prompted by the advice of another more compassionate soul, it became apparent that Hank’s other concerns were not going to be so easily addressed. He was clearly missing someone terribly – someone who had once occupied a very large part of his life. It also became apparent that Hank could not hear well.

I posted a photo of Hank along with a lost dog notice on Facebook, and asked all of my friends to share the notice in hopes that someone might be looking for their hound. I searched for pleas of a distraught owner on Craigs List, but after two weeks, neither platform provided results.

Hank 2018

Soon it became clear that Hank had been accustomed to having a collar and leash, however when he showed up there was no collar. One evening when I opened my truck door to roll up the window, Hank instinctively proceeded to climb in. He was used to being taken along on rides, it seemed.

After much discussion, Alana and I soon concluded that the dog had been purposely abandoned. But why would anyone turn such a faithful companion out into the world? Unless the owner had died – and the person who had ‘inherited’ him soon found that the dog ‘wouldn’t listen’, was too energetic, and required too much of their time. So, not unlike the heartless soul who would abandon a box of kittens on the side of the road, they loaded Hank into the car, drove some distance before letting him out, and then simply pulled off, leaving the dog in the void of unknowns.

And so he started walking, trying to find his way back to something familiar.

A few days into his stay with us, I referred to him as Hank without giving it much thought. I’ve no idea, the name just seemed to fit, it came to me so naturally. Finally, after we’d both surmised that, if we surrendered him to a shelter, no one would adopt an old dog, and he would eventually be put down, I decided to delete the notice on Facebook and keep the old boy. Besides, he had already decided that I was his new purpose in life, and that he was mine.

This was a responsibility which I could not take lightly, yet seemed to take somewhat begrudgingly. Besides, it wasn’t as if I didn’t already have seven cats. How was I going to integrate this big dog into a household of cranky-ass felines?

Another point, is that this big boy thrived on attention – something that cats have determined that they can live without for the most part, with the exception of the occasional head-butt. Also, as lots of other musicians will attest, cats fit our lifestyles better – they’re quiet while you’re recording, and they don’t come over slobbering all over you while you’re half-way into a groove that you can never repeat in this lifetime.

But Hank was an indoor dog, being left outside made him unbearably nervous. So I erected a re-enforced screen door in between the kitchen and the laundry room, made him a bed, then set his food and water dishes.  Through the door which opens to the outside from the laundry room, I led him inside to see how the he and the cats would interact. Hank seemed satisfied with the arrangement and seemed to realise that the laundry room was his space. The cats were a bit leery of the big animal which was now occupying the laundry room, and they sniffed at the screen door. Hank plopped himself down with his back against the screen and went to sleep. Cats continued to sniff and move cautiously around the door. This went on for a few days, but a couple of the females – Sissy and Popper – decided that they liked Hank, and slept beside him just on the other side of the door.

Oh, there was one other thing that, after a while we finally took note of – Hank never barked. Hank seemed to be so relieved that someone had taken him in, he was willing to accept anything that came with the deal, without voicing a complaint.

After a week or so of the division, the cats seemed to be at ease with Hank – with the exception of Spots, the most cranky 12 year-old girl, who paid him absolutely no attention. (The other cats never even bother Spots. She’s the matriarch of the household.) So, I decided to allow Hank inside to inspect the rest of the house. He trotted in, much to the astonishment of a few of the cats, slipping past them without even looking at them, almost as if he were trying to avoid alarming them. He sniffed about, lay down in the kitchen floor for a while, before eventually letting himself back into the laundry room, letting the screen door slam gently behind him. Alana and I looked at one another, stunned. Clearly the dog himself was taking a test run with the cats.

I finally began to wonder to myself if Hank hadn’t been some sort of support dog. He was extremely well behaved, intelligent, and wanted to be at my side irrespective of where I went throughout the house. He even insisted on accompanying me to the bathroom, dutifully lying down in the floor and waiting. It was but a few days before Alana voiced the very same observation. ‘Hank sticks to you like you are his responsibility.’ she said. I told her that I had come to the same conclusion. Even as I type this, he is lying on the floor beside my chair. For the first week or so, whenever I had to leave the house to attend to some business, Hank would sit in the kitchen floor and release a deep and mournful, almost eerie bay. It sounded as if he were miles away, and it sounded so lonely and sad. After I would return, he was overjoyed. ‘Every time you come home, it’s like Christmas for Hank.’ Alana mused.

It may be noted that the cats are completely at ease Hank now. Occasionally Misfit will even walk up to him and head-butt his snout. The diminutive Popper will often stand alongside him, as if she is every bit as big and powerful.

Hank has been well trained in another aspect as well. He will not relieve himself in the yard. It has come to a point that I have figured that he likes to take a good long walk very early in the morning, one which encompasses one and a half miles, and at a point half way through, he will relieve himself in the tall grass beside an old vacant grocery store. Then we head back home. If it is raining and we can’t take a walk – Hank doesn’t take a dump, so the walk is imperative.

Our morning walks are everything to Hank. They are the highlight of his day. For his life to have been filled with – who knows how many hopeless days and nights, there isn’t a single negative emotion that this old dog harbours. I watched him this morning as we walked – tail wagging, head held high. It was as if this were the very first time that we were ever going on this walk. He was drinking in every second of it and loving it. This same old walk.

“Hank,” I said, “you inspire me. I’m just walking along here as if we will be doing this forever and you’re taking it in as if we’ll never do it again.”

Then it hit me. What if it was the last time? I used to tell myself every time I’d climb the drive on my bike, “Enjoy it like it’s the last time.” But now, as hard as I try to remember – I can’t remember my last ride up the drive before the CFS knocked the wind out of me, but I never got to do it again.

Hank is old. He may not even have a year left. I should really be getting as much enjoyment out of these walks as he does. Because one day – it will be the last time.

I began thinking of my own mortality, and how things can change beyond one’s influence. I do lots of genealogy, and I’ve photographed scores of headstones of individuals whose time on this Earth easily fit within my own. It gives you pause to reflect. We take tomorrow for granted far more than we should. I imagined my dad lying awake at night, fully knowing that it had all been done, and that any moment he could lose grasp of life.

“Things never seem to go the way that we intend – life seems so different when it’s viewed from end to end.”

I penned these words during a moment of enlightened inspiration and included them in a song that I’d written about my son. I began thinking about him and how frustrated he sometimes felt regarding his mundane job and his life in general, how things weren’t running to suit him.

Then I considered how fortunate my dad would have felt a year ago – simply to be 33 and have the good health to enjoy doing anything again. And meanwhile there is my son, replaying scenes which he should have discarded of minutes after they occurred.

We own our thoughts – but negative thinking owns us. We can have goals and aspirations, but to have unrealistic expectations of ourselves is a different matter. Sometimes it’s good to work toward a goal, but if we aren’t enjoying now because all we can dwell on is later – we’re missing the boat.

I prefer Hank’s approach to life, and I’m going to try to be like him henceforth. I’m going to enjoy now – and I’m not even going to think about tomorrow.

Because this may very well be the last time.

 

 

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Mercury

This is a story about a cat that I named Mercury.

I can’t remember when I first saw the little fellow. I never really met him, never fed him, or called him up to me, never even petted him. Not until after he was dead, that is. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even name him until after I buried him up on the hill with my other cats and was ready to send him off.

The only time that I’d ever interacted with Mercury was when I had to slow down to give him time to jump into the bushes as I was negotiating the long uphill drive to my house, because he had taken to hunting that stretch. He’d always run up to a particular part of the overgrowth before he leapt to slither away like his namesake.

I didn’t know if Mercury had a home, or if home was merely where he made it, but if he did, he was gone most of the time. Perhaps he was ill-treated and ran away. I would have taken him in, but never had the opportunity to get to know him properly. Besides, I’ve got seven of the roving rat-traps already.

If he had a home, his humans are no doubt still wondering why their pet has not been home for the past two days. I can imagine that someone might step outside early and call softly in the morning to see if he appears, or perhaps they check to see if he is sitting on the porch before they turn in for the night. The sad fact is that they will never see their cat again, for Sunday afternoon as I made my way home, I immediately recognised the grey lump lying at the corner of a side street and the Boulevard, only a short block down from my road.

Less than a week leading up to this event, the rascal was snooping around the house in an abandoned corner of the lot. A few years ago, I had a flock of hens, and kept them cooped up near the stone wall. My chicken raising days came to an abrupt end the day that someone allowed their two dogs out to free-roam the neighbourhood. When they came upon my flock minding their own business out in the side yard, the dogs had retained enough natural instinct to kill all of the birds, however they had forgotten what to do with them afterwards, and they trotted off down the drive leaving feathers, dead laying hens, and one badly injured rooster looking over the carnage. I had to relieve him of his misery with my ax.

Nonetheless, the coop has since fallen into disrepair but still stands. My son Sterling glanced out his window and saw the elusive feline checking out the accommodations, and captured what was probably the last photo of the little guy.

 

Mercury mod

 

When I saw the cat on the edge of the street, I was filled with regret. What was he doing crossing the busy Boulevard? My first instinct was to retrieve the carcass, but I thought better of myself, choosing instead to leave him where his rightful owners would undoubtedly see him, and remove the body.

The next morning, the body was still lying on the side of the road. Someone had at least pulled him off of the road and into the loose gravel. However, I was incredulous Tuesday evening when the cat was still lying on the roadside, and at nightfall it began to rain and thunder, so I didn’t sleep well at all. Every time I stirred, I kept thinking of all of the cars driving past the hapless creature’s body as it lay there unclaimed.

This morning, he was still lying there, soaking wet. I decided that if no one cared enough for him to do him the common courtesy of a burial, I would. I pulled my truck into the side street, walked over to the animal’s body, carefully lifted it into the bed of the truck, and brought it up the drive for the last time. I placed him in the sun, allowing him to dry out a bit, and picked the trash out of his fur. His face was smashed, and he smelled badly, and I regretted having made him wait over 48 hours at the roadside before rescuing him. I went up on the hillside where the rest of my deceased four-legged friends lie, and dug the creature a grave.

I ran my fingers across the lifeless body, and wept that it took this to bring us together. I took a towel that my living cats had, up to this point, used as bedding, and shrouded the animal’s body. I lay him in the ground, and covered him up.

Well. There’s nothing saying that it’s too late. I’ve learned some valuable lessons in life, and one is that it’s never too late.

So I adopted the cat, and gave him a name.

I called him Mercury.

 

Love Takes A Friend

As Hermes Trismegistus warned in the Emerald Tablets “Know Thyself” – but within knowing oneself is an unparalleled challenge of making decisions to do things which one might have stated 24 hours earlier that one would never again do.

Knowing oneself is not as easy as it may at first seem. I am still learning this lesson the hard way after 61 years of life.

Over thirty-five years ago, I gave up hunting in the ‘sporting’ sense. The advantage that I exercised over nature through use of a firearm once made me feel as if I had something to prove, but having gotten my fill of killing things that could not shoot back, I no longer felt as if I had anything to prove.

That made me a bit of an oddball, being a Southern boy and all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly comfortable with guns, and have a cabinet full of them to prove it. I still keep them clean and ready to go. The sawed-off shotgun is locked and loaded with buckshot, in the event anyone gets froggy and wishes to cross my threshold without being invited. And I hit what I’m shooting at.

Thing is – back when, I was simply being pulled in other directions – that is to say, I preferred recording and playing guitar to sitting on my ass in the woods all day long.

Finally I made a conscious vow to myself, I would not kill another wild animal unless I’d be eating it, and only then, out of necessity.

One never knows when plans go awry however, sometimes things occur beyond our control, and the Law of Accident creeps in if only to keep us on our toes. One morning, while going down my drive in the truck, a groundhog crossed – right in front of me. I could not stop in time. I buried him in sorrow beneath an oak tree under which I would often see him standing, surveying his surroundings. Then there was the turtle that was in the tall grass I was mowing, and I chopped her open with the mower blade. I felt horrible, and I buried her, too, in sorrow.

There is lots of wildlife where I live and I enjoy it. Besides groundhogs, we’ve seen foxes, coyotes, squirrels, turkeys, and even many deer out in the front yard.

Seven or eight years ago, I began to make friends with the raccoons, and even started naming them. In the harsh wintertime when food is scarce, I feed them cat food and give them water. They really enjoy that. Sometimes they even get leftovers from dinner. They always clean their bowl and never complain. But they do not like bananas. One little fellow used to meet me at the door and gallop alongside out to the patio where I would feed them. He played with my shoestrings, and ‘helped’ me empty the scoop into their bowls. I called him Crosseyes. Unfortunately, he disappeared when the crazy bitch down at the foot of the hill lit a twig pile “to see if it would burn”, and wound up setting the woods and half of our house on fire.

There’s this one female I named ‘Iffy’, because she was so very leery of me at first, but at some point she decided that she could co-exist with us, and during the winters, deftly found a way into the attic, where she would spend cold days sleeping, going out only at night to forage – or eat whatever dinner I’d have waiting for her. She didn’t make much noise (only sometimes), and not long after the Pear trees bloomed in the Spring, she would vacate.

That is not to imply that she would leave. For the next two months, Iffy would show up on the stone wall out back around 4 pm, looking into the house through the screen door. When I saw her, I’d take out a scoop of food and some fresh water, which she would nervously devour before scampering back into the woods. This would continue daily until, late in May, she would leave immediately after I’d make the food deposit, only to show back up ten minutes later with two or three little cubs. She was very cautious when she brought them, and although she normally had no problems with meeting me at the wall with her meal, helping me pour it into the bowl, and even sniffing my hand, she took a different tack with her kittens, and would growl to them to stay back until I had retreated into the house. At first the kits would look at me as if I were from Mars, and were plenty afraid, but with time they became more accustomed to my presence. Nonetheless, occasionally she would give a short growl. She was telling them that humans were not to be trusted, and that no exception should be made, not even for me.

I suppose that I was the man their mother warned them about.

The kits winter over with their mom during their first year, but strike out on their own after one full cycle of raccoon school. Besides, suitors will come seeking out mom during the Winter, and the quarters will become restless and cramped.

This scenario has repeated for five or six years now, and we’ve all grown quite fond of Iffy.

This year started out no different than any other, and the males had come to see Iffy, but one sounded especially aggressive one evening. After a couple of days, all was normal again.

Recently I noticed that Iffy had not left for the woods yet, as I could hear her occasionally in the attic, and then yesterday I’d noticed that she’d torn the drain grate up looking for water early that morning. I made a mental note to fill up her water bowl that evening – but then around one o’clock that same afternoon, she began making all kinds of commotion upstairs, and I became concerned. I walked out back and called to her through the screen in the soffit of the house. She came to the screen and looked down, chattering. But something was wrong. She was very agitated, and panting rapidly. She was also making a chewing motion with her mouth, and her legs were jerking of their own volition. She would alternately growl and chatter at me, and then writhe.

“Iffy!” I called to her, “What is it girl?” She peered at me through the screen, and behind the glimmering black eyes I saw her pleading for help.

I was looking at her with concern when the thought hit me: desperately looking for water – growling and panting. Then I remembered the aggressive male who disappeared – he had transmitted rabies to poor Iffy, apparently having bitten her while agitated, or perhaps while mating. No wonder he didn’t stay long – because he went mad and died a horrible death.

She stared down at me shivering, and panting. She was becoming possessed, and she was in unimaginable torment. And she came to me when I called.

She came to me… for help.

I inhaled deeply, and slowly exhaled a black sadness.

“Hang on girl. I’ll be right back.”

I walked inside the house, went into my room, coolly reached inside the gun cabinet, instinctively chose a rifle, and chambered one round, a .22 short, hollow point. I walked back outside and looked up at her lying there helplessly. I reached up and stroked her flank through the screen as she panted and whimpered.

I told her I loved her, and then unceremoniously lifted the rifle and shot Iffy through the head.

She never made a sound. The trembling stopped. She was now free of the evil which had only moments ago terrorised her. I watched in silence as the pain oozed out of her, and dripped to the ground at my feet.

Later, with my carpentry tools, I slowly took a portion of the soffit apart, carefully retrieved Iffy, gently lay her on the ground, and stroked her soft fur. There was only the entry wound, the bullet did not exit her skull. Even after so many years, I knew exactly what load to use without even thinking about it. She never knew what hit her. The lights just went out.

Afterwards, I took her up on the hill where, over the years, I have begun a small cemetery for my beloved cats. I dug a grave for Iffy, lined it with dried leaves, laid her inside, covered her with more leaves, and then filled the hole, taking care to place the layer of grass back in the way that I had removed it.

Here I was, burying yet another animal in sorrow. I stood there thinking about my vow to not kill again, and how quickly the unexpected can cause one to eat all of one’s words in a moment.

Iffy was never going to get well, yet she did not know that it was beyond this man’s ability to make her better. However in her time of desperation, she responded to the one human she trusted in the whole world. And I, in return of that trust, had put a bullet in her head.

I felt awful.

I had become the man that she warned her cubs about.

 

Love Is Only For the Young

I have written only a handful of love songs. Those songs are now close to forty years old. Politics is the only subject on which I have written no song whatsoever. Music and politics should never be mixed, and if anyone wants to know why I think so, leave a comment and I’ll cover the subject in a future post.

Today however, I am writing about love. Nasty emotion, love.

Very few of us, if any, ever have the opportunity to realise it. When we are lucky enough to grasp the emotion in its pure state, it is usually in connection with our children, or lacking that, a pet, or last, and probably most rampant, with our imagination through music. I personally believe that outside of these three things, everlasting love does not exist.

It has taken me sixty-one years to figure this out. Of course, being the objective guy that I am, I could change my mind tomorrow. But I doubt it.

Perhaps when I was younger, I was too optimistic. Then again, perhaps it is just experience and age which has made me too damned cynical.

Whatever the case, I was crushed by what I identified as love at almost every point in my life. I’ll bet that most of you will agree that you too were crushed, rather than validated. I’ll also bet that every old love song brings on a wistful gaze to most, calling to mind a love that used to be.

I contend that broken hearts rule the world, not love.

In the end, most of us die with a broken heart. Either a spouse has torn us in two, having passed on before us, our friends have all disappeared, our beloved pets have long since departed, or the place in which we were born and reared no longer exists.

Life insures two things: That, having been born strapped to a dying beast, we will one day not exist; and that before this day comes, we will have our souls ripped out by someone who we will never have again.

Enjoy the now. It is truly all that we have. Today’s joys will be tomorrow’s tears.

When I’m In the Hole Every Direction Is Uphill

I am writing this primarily for the benefit of other sufferers so that they know that they are not alone.

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Well – it’s one of those days, and has been for the past three days now. A storm front has been pushing in from the West, and it has been taking its sweet time. I feel as if I’m walking around with a lead blanket thrown over me, and even though the sun is bright, I cannot enjoy it, because it makes my eyes sting, and suppresses me as if I was having the lamp of an interrogator shown squarely into my face.

This is what I refer to as being in the Hole. Yeah, I know, Alice In Chains had a song by the same name. But this hole is not a drug-of-choice induced hell. I didn’t elect to go into this hole, I was pushed by an unknown force. I was dragged kicking and screaming into it.

But if you’re one of us, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know about. I’m just here to tell you that I understand, and to reassure you that you are not mad. The Hole is real.

The problem with it, is that I never know where the edge is until I get there, and I never know how far I’m going to go in.

For the past three days, I’ve started out with the ‘Okay, I can do this’ attitude. But right in the middle of it, I slide directly down the dreaded ‘Okay fuck this’ slope of desperation within the span of a minute.

The only recourse is that damned bed. How I hate that freaking bed.

I’ve grown to where I even dread eating, because I know it is going to hit me like a sledgehammer. I like food, and I like to eat, I just hate what it does to me anymore.

This is what makes it so damned hard to plan anything. And we can try to explain it to others, but the usual response – the eye rolling, the sighs, and the ‘I’m tired too, after working all day’ lines – serve no other purpose but to anger, and farther isolate us.

And we begin to worry. Even close family members may become preoccupied with work, or find reasons to leave us alone. As they grow more distant, they do not realise that, when we are having bad days, ignoring and avoiding us makes our depression more difficult to manage.

We begin to wonder if cherished loved ones won’t suddenly abandon us on the days we need them most. We may even begin to fear that those same individuals may one day leave us completely. We have no reason to feel this way, and that, too, angers us.

We all know that no amount of work has ever left us feeling this drained. And we all know that when we wake up in the morning, we aren’t going to feel much better than we did the night before, irrespective how well or long we sleep.

Sometimes we wish we’d never wake up, because this kind of life leaves one very little to look forward to, especially when those who claim to love us push us away with their apathy.

Many days, we are left only to one another, and ofttimes, distance forbids us from sharing thoughts, tears, and the day with one another.

I do not know who many of you are; others, we have consoled one another late into the night on social media platforms. Our faces do not matter. Only our understanding. Because we are the only ones who truly believe one another without reservation.

Our club is not one of pride, and our bond is not one of secret handshakes, but of desperation.

If you are having one of those days, take heart. I go into that hole often. As lonely as it can sometimes feel, you are not alone.

What Is True Will?

You’ll often hear ads on television and radio which promote motivational speakers. These speakers often focus on the use of ‘will power’ in order to get monumental tasks accomplished. Thousands of posters, and countless memes have been dedicated to the use of positive thought and will power.

But what is will power, and is anyone actually in possession of true will?

How many times can you recall yourself saying something to the effect of, “I’ll never do that again”, or “From now on, I’m going to______________”? But how many times did you find yourself doing ‘that’ again, or forgetting the vow you solemnly made to yourself ‘from now on’?

These sorts of shattered illusions are what expose the true measure of our will.

When I was twenty years old, I made a short list of objectives that I fully intended to accomplish by the time I was thirty. I didn’t reach any of the goals. Not a single one.

But my intentions were good, of course. It seems that we always start out with the best of intentions in whatever we endeavour to do. Right before things go straight to hell.

So for the next thirty years, I was determined to see if there was one thing in my life that I could see through from beginning to end. One thing – surely couldn’t be too terribly difficult to accomplish. What, then, was the one thing that I was certain that I could devote the rest of my life to? Well, the one thing that I valued among everything else was music. I had begun my quest as a songwriter around the same age that I’d made my list, and it is true that I had not abandoned the journey. The fact was, that I had yet to be come successful at it. My dream was to be able to play several instruments tolerably, engineer sound, and produce my own material. Bands such as Todd Rundgren and Steely Dan were huge influences in this respect.

Success is a term that is generally associated with money and being well-known, respected among one’s peers, and the like.

Nonetheless, I persevered, and although I had learned a great many things in relation to the field – I was working in a retail establishment which sold musical instruments and sound equipment – I had still to make the strides that I had intended by the time that I was forty. Often it was necessary to remind myself why I had begun in the first place.

Throughout the course of rearing two children, and working all kinds of day jobs, I redoubled my efforts to set money aside for musical gear, and recording equipment. I also set aside one hour a day to practice at my craft, this was apart and completely different from the actual playing of music, which would consume even more of the time that I had precious little of.

By the time I was fifty years old, I had become connected to my Muse, and was writing profusely. The musical path that I had begun was a bit of a surprise, but I followed my Muse wherever it led without question. I completed my studio, which I christened Good Intentions, and chose ‘Hell Paving Company’ for the name of my publishing domain. It cannot be said that I was not acquainted with the irony of it all by this time.

In 2014, I tore my studio down with the intent of erecting it in another, more suitable room of the home. All of my gear sat in a corner collecting dust for the next three years. Chronic Fatigue is a cruel mistress, and my life had been slowing to a crawl since I had contracted it in November of 2007.

Then one night last month, while lying in bed, I was listening to the 20 odd sketches of tunes that I had recorded into my Android. I stared over into the dark corner that hid all of my recording equipment.

“Starting tomorrow, I’m going to start putting my studio back together, even if it kills me.” I told myself. The task was daunting.  But I knew that if I died before getting the tunes – which the Muse was still being so charitable in supplying me with – properly recorded, I would go to hell. Hell is a completely different place for writers. I imagine it to be a place where only poorly maintained manual typewriters exist, paper is at a premium, and the thoughts come too quickly to transcribe.

Mainly, however, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving these tunes orphaned. Nobody except I had heard them, and my task was to get them recorded and give everyone else a chance to hear the wonderful imagination that the Muse is so blessed with, for you see, I do not feel that these pieces of music are mine. I have been assigned a task, and it is up to me alone to complete these pieces.

Eight days later, although my back and shoulders were killing me, the studio was together, and I found myself becoming painfully reacquainted with the plethora of cables and the routing of which I had all but forgotten.

Today I fired up all of the components, and with the exception of the ancient synthesizer, everything seems to be working. Maybe if I just jiggle the handle….

So I have discovered that perhaps there is indeed a bit of true will left inside of me at the age of 61. And that I may have, in fact, discovered the meaning of true success.

 

The Chronic Fatigue Cycle of Life

I’ve felt horrible the last four days.

I’m lucky to have a peanut butter sandwich on days like those. Cooking a full meal is akin to climbing Mount Everest. If it weren’t for boiled eggs, oatmeal, and milk, I’d probably dry up completely.

This morning however, I woke up at 5:00 without a headache. This, in and of itself, already puts me in a more positive frame of mind. After cleaning litter boxes and filling food bowls, I sit to rest, and vape while I quaff two cups of coffee. These are the only two ‘treatments’ that I rely on to get me into ‘work’ mode. Sometimes they make a big difference. I don’t trust doctors or the FDA anymore. How can they prescribe something to treat my condition, when they claim that they don’t even know what the hell has caused it?

I look at the studio equipment that I disassembled over a year ago. I really want to put that thing back into the operational mode, but today there are more pressing matters to attend to. The house has gone to hell over the last four days and I simply have to clean up.

I start the dishwasher, and drag a load of clothes into the laundry room. As that process plays out, I run my big, yet lightweight microfibre floor duster, then draw a big pan of hot water, and add plenty of bleach.

I have a big kitchen, a big den, the laundry room, and a bathroom to mop.

I’ve been in the ‘process’ of tiling the floors for the past two years. A few years back, my son helped me take up all of the carpet, because vacuuming that nonsense was becoming close to impossible for me.

I have three portions of the kitchen in a sort of ‘grid’. I mop one grid, then rest, vape, and drink more coffee while it dries. Then move on to the next portion. I have the entire floor done within an hour. Sufficiently warmed up, I start on the den, which is also where I ‘live’. My bed and everything is in there.

The rhythmic back-and-forth motion of mopping is beginning to make my back ache and tire, but I do my best to ignore the pain.

Half-way through the den, the washer signals that the laundry is ready to go into the dryer, but it really is nice outside today, so I haul the bed linens out to hang up and dry. Sun dried bed sheets are one of the finer things in life.

Another hour later, the den and bathroom floors are finished. I rest up and look at the studio equipment again. I’ve got at least twelve sketches of new tunes recorded into my phone, and I feel pressed to get them properly recorded.

I haven’t produced a new CD in almost three years, and am beginning to think that the format is a waste of time and energy. Owing to the fact that I am a visual artist as well as a songwriter, it only follows that I feel it necessary to do all of the cover art and liner notes myself. I’d like to just quit production of CDs, however the artist in me eschews mp3 files, and feels that in order to truly release songs, they must at least be recorded to CD to count as a ‘work’. I come from an era that the purchase and ownership of a physical product was part and parcel of a ‘music collection’.

I reflect on my immortality, and hope to the heavens that I do not die, leaving a bunch of orphaned tunes on my phone.

After putting another load into the clothes washer, I sit down at my desktop to work on a generation of my on-line genealogical tree that has been giving me a problem, but this is not what I really want to do. I see enough of this on days that I can do little else. Besides, the light from the screen hurts my eyes.

I need to get back to work. After folding the dried clothes, I empty the dishwasher, and then sit down to rest and vape. Darn it. Where did the time go? It’s a quarter to eleven, I’ve drained an entire pot of coffee, and I need to cook something. Won’t everyone be surprised when they get home! Oh, boy! A hot meal.

But I’m already feeling the effects of my efforts, and I’m thinking that tacos sound extreme enough for what is left of my energy reserves, so I start cooking the meat and chopping the onions. Repetitive motion tasks seem to be the worst. Onion chopping kills my arm now. The onset of fatigue is so quick that it still leaves me incredulous, but there was a time that I was capable of butterfly curls – 50 reps of 25 pounds – without breaking a sweat. Glory days.

After eating, I’m shot. Food affects me like a Valium, and sleep becomes unavoidable. While lying in bed and checking my Twitter feed, I glance across the room at my recording equipment once more. How many times in the past few years has this scenario played out? I can only hope that tomorrow will be as productive as today was, but experience has taught me that tomorrow I’ll most likely feel as if I’ve been beaten with a rubber hose because of today’s efforts.

If I’m lucky, I’ll feel better in a few days and will be able to begin the cycle all over again, but my chance of ever getting the studio back together looks slim from this side of life.

By the way – in the event that something unexpectedly happens to me, the code to open my phone is PEnnsylvania 6 – 5000. If there are any tunes on there, I would like to think that one of my musically inclined colleagues will take it upon themselves to finish those tunes for me.