November 25, 20:00
It is said that Albert Einstein defined “insanity” as doing the same thing repeatedly, yet expecting a different result each time. Such is my world when it comes to my first day off. I only get two this week. But try as I may, my body won’t allow me to do anything on the first day.
I’ve been writing things in my head all day. Only now have I been able to make it the twelve or so feet to my office. On one hand, I’m deeply irritated with myself. But my (slightly) more realistic side understands the need for rest, and assures the rest of me it will be much easier to be a self-starting music journalist/author when I’m not recovering from 14-hour shifts that include training a kid with less than a week on the job. I sure hope that side of me is right. For now, I am mired in a classic dilemma: I don’t have the time to do a lot of writing, because I’m always at my day job. When I do have the time, I often lack the energy.
Cop life is definitely getting in my way.
Got another lead on a condo. I’ll spend part of next Monday taking a look. That feeling of terrifying excitement is sweeping over me again. I’m really hoping one of these places amounts to something.
We live in a world where I am contemplating publishing a book of my “greatest hits.” I just posted blog number 235 on this page. Yet it still amuses (or is that infuriates) me how many don’t know about it. Oh, I’m developing a following of regulars, for which I am deeply grateful. But I’ve written a LOT of words, and something tells me they are going mostly unread. Some posts draw more attention than others, but far too many sail right under the radar. So, why not put the best ones in a book? It will be a quick and easy read, and will serve as a nice interlude between my debut and the next two more intricate and detailed works.
The question becomes, who will be the judge of what constitutes a great piece? My objectivity is questionable, with good reason. I have brought on an interested third party. Obviously, I’ll have to do a little writing in and around the pieces. But it strikes me as an interesting concept.
November 26, 15:48
It’s my second — and sadly my last — day off. “Normal” people with “normal” jobs cannot really conceive of why a two-day break makes a cop with my schedule so annoyed. It boils down to this:
A cop on my department needs a minimum of three days off, primarily because his workweek is usually at least six days, and often seven (like this one was). We need a day off to do nothing, because we have been around people and their problems all day, every day for a week solid. The last thing I want to do after a long week is “people.” I need a day to myself to wind down and recharge my batteries. Which is why I probably won’t make your party if it’s on my first day off.
Day Two is for chores and errands. This is where the “Honey-Do” list is addressed, and we allow limited interactions with others. We might even be encouraged to do something social. Day Three allows us to recover from Day Two and start gearing up for the coming workweek, when we will be forced to “people” all day once again.
The two-day break forces us to compress this list. That break while also going from the afternoon watch to the day watch is even worse, because now I’m subject to a bedtime if I want to be semi-fresh for tomorrow.
You’d think I’d be used to it after 25 years. But I don’t think anyone really gets “used” to it. We simply agree to let fatigue be an unwanted and constant companion.
Seven more months.
Meanwhile, this little disc of delight arrived in the mail today, courtesy of Stephan Thelen. It’s one of the things we talked about when I interviewed him.
Sonar will forever be a favorite, and a big reason why I am able to move on from the Anchor of Prog Past. They continue to interact brilliantly with David Torn, who now functions as part of the band, rather than as an added bonus. This album, Tranceportation (Volume 1), is appropriately named. What a hypnotizing trip it is!
I’ve also begun to study the Branford Marsalis Quartet of the last 20 years in general, and the last decade in particular. The most recent Quartet has been together for quite awhile, and had made some amazing music. I still need to fill some gaps before I can write at length on the subject. But I can recognize the direction.
The fact that I have to be up at 05:30 is beside the point. I’m just now readying for bed. Such is the transition. And yet one more reason why three days off is a good thing.
A cleaning frenzy ensued during the late afternoon/evening hours. As a result, I was able to locate some long lost items, including a can of shoe polish, a glass guitar slide, and a bottle of guitar polish. So, not a total waste of a day.
I was able to get in and out of my grocery store with ease, since I waited until 21:30 or so to get there. I was all proud of myself and thinking I wouldn’t have to go today when I remembered I promised to bring an apple pie to my step-daughter’s dinner. That requires a trip to a different grocery store. Tomorrow. Shit.
A little reading. Then off to bed.
November 27, 12:39
The only thing more annoying than not being able to sleep until after midnight when I have to get up at 05:30 is waking up an hour before my alarm goes off. I told myself I had another hour to sleep, but my brain said, “Nope. That’s all the sleep you’re getting for now, pal.”
And so here I sit, walking my young officer through a few procedures. No big deal, but I’m doing a LOT of yawning.
November 28, 09:40
It’s Thanksgiving. Or as cops like to call it, Thursday. After 25 years, I’m used to working holidays. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be grumpy about it. I’ve told my co-workers that my first call will probably open with me asking, “What could you possibly want right now?” Well, if I do it right, this will be my last Thanksgiving on duty.
I have new music at home, acquired yesterday. Alas, my evening was hijacked by Martin Scorsese and The Irishman, which was quite good. I was engrossed enough that I didn’t notice the film’s 3 1/2 hour length. I’m sure there’s an Oscar nod or two coming to this movie. Well deserved.
Today is just about muddling through. No need to stir up any problems. I’m sure I’ll wind up at someone’s family dispute sooner or later, wondering just what the hell I’m doing there. After all, who am I to determine who gets the last turkey leg? (Yes, I have been on that call.)
And so my young charge and I drive around aimlessly (he has strict instructions from me not to get into anything), letting the action come to us.
Another workday in the books. A peaceful day that flowed pretty much the way I thought it would. Silliness was minimal, which made me happy. And our police foundation was kind enough to provide us with a nice meal at the station.
I didn’t stuff myself, since I know I’m headed to the family dinner shortly.
The new Sonar album is truly face-melting. The work they’re doing with David Torn is nothing short of spectacular! It takes a certain mindset to absorb the music being played on this album. I’m so glad I have that mindset. The second part of the album is due in May. I’m salivating for it already!
November 29, 14:58
Another shift in the books. My trainee appears to be doing well. His first week is over, and my “gentle orientation” period is coming to an end. It’s time to step things up a notch.
My evening plans fell through, much to my dismay. So I came home with Chinese food and watched football. Somewhere in there, a nap snuck up on me.
The older I get, the less I like to “people.” I cherish my solitude. Loneliness is quickly replaced by listening, reading, writing, and movies. So when I actually look forward to being around someone, it’s a real letdown when it doesn’t happen. But such is life. I’m due to hang with friends again tomorrow. How much do I love them? I’m not concerned with hanging out with them as long as possible, when I know good and well I have to catch a 04:00 train on Sunday. I’ll sleep after I’m on board.
I also came home to find Sid Smith’s updated In the Court of King Crimson waiting for me. My desire for all things Crim has begun to fade, as I move on to other things. So this arrived just in time.
I still have Sid’s first edition of this book, from 2001. Let’s just say he has expounded on things a bit.
It should be quite the journey.
When I said I was ready to move on from a lot of artists, I thought that included Adrian Belew. After all, I hadn’t touched his new album Pop-Sided since April or so.
At the time, I remember thinking, it’s a good record, but it’s time to move on. I played the CD yesterday while driving to dinner. And then I realized that I’ll never move on from the man I consider to be my musical idol. Once again, Adrian Belew managed to reach me on a different emotional level. You don’t find that kind of thing just waiting around the corner. So I guess I’m not done with him quite yet.
At the moment, I’m having my mind blown by an album called Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise by a trumpeter named Jaimie Branch. She is one of Nate Chinen’s recommendations, and a damned good one! I’ll write about her when I get back. Fascinating stuff!
November 30, 07:38
A gray and clammy morning. It goes straight to my knees. Ugh.
I don’t recall every dream I have, but last night’s is sticking with me. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’m sure it’s a byproduct of reading the first few pages of Sid’s book. For reason I can’t fathom, I found myself sitting onstage, behind one of the drum kits (I believe this was the Double Trio band). It was sound check, and the rest of the band was making sure the gear was working properly.
Out of nowhere, Robert Fripp calls out that he wants to run through “Vroom.” But the drummers are nowhere to be found. So Robert looks at me. “You do it,” he says.
“Do what?” I reply.
“You play the part!”
“I’m not a drummer,” I say.
“But you know the part.”
I look down to see I have a drumstick in my left hand and a conductors baton in my right. I show Robert my problem. He nods, and someone appears to my right to take away the baton and replace it with another stick. Problem solved, it seems.
Robert offers me a little grin. “Right,” he says. “So count it off, then?”
I should be in a panic. Sheer terror. But the exact opposite happens, and a smile comes over my face as I clap my sticks together. “One, two, three, FOUR!”
I know the part. I’m even adding unexpected fills! At some point, the drummers return. I can see them staring at me. I expect them to be upset. Instead, I see nothing but wide smiles.
And then my alarm goes off.
What does it mean? I have no idea. But this is one of those times I wish my brain had a DVR.
December 1, 03:28
One thing is certain: 2 a.m. wakeup calls are not my cup of tea. But I’m up, and on line for a 04:00 train, and ready to keel over. This is the price I’m willing to pay for The Pineapple Thief, who await me in Chicago.
A definite downside of my day job is that I have no real concept of holidays. I’m either working that day or I’m not. So when I found myself baffled by the number of people waiting here with me, it took me a minute to remember this is the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Normally, I’m able to sit by myself for the ride. Something tells me I’ll have company this time.
I think I’ve managed to interpret my “King Crimson drummer” dream. It’s all about my coming transition. My life will change dramatically next summer, and I might be more prepared for it than I give myself credit for. Hence, “you know the part.”
Sitting on stage represents being immersed in my new life of writing and music journalism. And while I’m sure others can do it, sometimes it will be up to me to get the right article out there (the “missing drummers”).
The “drumstick and baton?” That’s a computer keyboard and my badge. In order to fully embrace writing, I have to let go of the badge. From there, it’s just a matter of digging in (“counting off”) and doing the job. The “smiling drummers” are the right sets of eyes seeing my work, and creating my future.
At least, that’s how I see it.
For the second day in a row, my social plans fell through. My dear friends will return to the east coast without me seeing them. And while it’s quite a drag this happened, there may actually be something rather poetic at work here.
I’ve convinced myself that I want my friends to see me in my new world, as opposed to the end of the old one. I know how weird that sounds, but it makes sense in my head. I told both of them, “I look forward to seeing you in my Chicago condo.” I do hope that comes to pass.
Markus Reuter’s Heartland No. 1, a lovely suite of neo-classical music executed by a string quartet, is this morning’s first musical choice. I’m not quite ready for bass and drums.
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