April 7, 20:49
The Sonic Sanctuary
Working the afternoon shift, my previous life rapidly disappearing in the rearview mirror. I seem to do my best work in the afternoon, so that is precisely what I am doing.
Case in point: I just finished compiling and editing my interview with Gary Husband. It is epic in scope and length, and I believe one of my better works. Of course, the subject has a great deal to do with that, and Gary was a prince. It’s a true joy to put things like this together. The stress was relatively nonexistent.
Apparently, I was was really into this project. I caught myself leaving the editing process for a moment to write a couple of sentences for the introduction. Just a little something to remind me of the direction I wanted to take. The next thing I knew, I was staring at nearly 1,000 words. Well … guess I knew where that was going after all.
I woke up at 05:00 yesterday, for absolutely NO reason. I suppose it’s because my body is on day watch, even though my crew was off, so I would’ve been, too. It was the strangest thing: I lay there in bed, nearly overwhelmed with a sense of guilt. How could I possibly retire? From where do I get the nerve to leave The Job? Was I leaving everyone in a lurch? Maybe I needed to re-think this thing.
Those feelings lasted for a couple of hours. Then I sent a group text to more than 20 people I worked with, saying it was time for me to go, since I had nothing left to accomplish. And I said goodbye in case my planned last roll call doesn’t come to pass because of all this social distancing. Almost immediately, I began to sense a little closure. But the guilt lingered.
Nog long after, the responses started coming back. To a man (and woman), they were happy to see me reach the finish line. I was leaving at just the right time, they said. It was cool to see someone leave in order to pursue his dreams, they said. We’re sad to see you go, they said. We’ll come see you in Chicago, they said. We love you and will miss you, they said. Now, I’ve never considered myself popular by any stretch of the imagination. And while some of them will no doubt forget me not long after I’m officially gone (it’s normal, as I’ve strained to remember a few “unforgettable” people myself), it was nice to know they understood. The guilt started to dissipate.
The rest of it died away after I talked to Edward, who has a knack for cutting things to the quick, particularly when I need to hear it. I told him what I was feeling, and how my crew had let me off the hook. Ed was more blunt. “Well, that’s just stupid!” He didn’t say it to be cruel. It was his way of saying, “You’ve done your time. You’ve earned this. Now go out and enjoy it!” And he’s right. With every passing hour, I think less and less on it.
I have done my time. I did earn my retirement. I will enjoy it! Whenever that’s allowed, of course.
I have learned a couple of things about myself, where this new life is concerned. I will definitely have to make some adjustments, because I am most definitely in uncharted territory.
For one thing, I need a new desk. The “smaller desk to avoid clutter” idea was all well and good. But the truth is, I need to have access to my research and have a little room to spread it out. An L-shaped desk will solve that problem. Will it fit in my current office? I think so, though I will have to change the configuration relative to the door and such. But so what? Efficiency is the key here, and the desk needs to happen. I don’t want to get anything too fancy before the move, and I think I may have found a couple of desks that will work.
I’ve also learned that although I’m leaving law enforcement, I’m still going to be leading a double life. The previous life was a split between police work and music journalism. Now the divide is between music journalism and biographer, with a side dish of publicity for my first book.
Time has always been an issue. Never enough time to do this or that. When I had the time, I didn’t have the energy. When I had the energy, I didn’t have the time. Well, now a big obstacle has been removed. But there’s still a metric ton to do. So how best to make these things happen? It looks like I’m headed back to my dry erase board idea from a year or so back. I have to allot a certain amount of time to do certain things every day. Otherwise, nothing will get done.
The Bernie Worrell book is going to eat up a lot of time, given that I’m on deadline for that project. So it will get the majority of my working day. The CirdecSongs material (interviews, reviews, essays, etc.) will be on the second tier. Publicity will probably share that tier, since I still need to promote my first book while writing a proposal for the new one. I can still see working 8-10 hour days. A less stressful job, to be certain. But still work. And it needs to get done.
Finally — and I know how crazy this sounds — I think I have to start getting dressed for work.
My commute is short. About 15 feet, give or take. But sometimes it feels like a long way from my living room couch to my office. And one I get here, I need to have the right mindset.
For the past 25 years (and a good chunk of the previous decade, which was spent with the military), I have been told what to wear, where to go, what time to be there, and what to do once I arrived. Structure. Blindly monotonous at times, I admit. But it was structure. And I’m used to it.
Now there’s no such thing. And that needs to change before aimlessness becomes a very bad habit.
I’ve often marveled at Robert Fripp, and how he always seems to be wearing a shirt and tie, whether he’s on the road with King Crimson or not. Even for a casual Facebook post, the man is always nattily dressed. I hadn’t been able to figure that out for the longest. Today, it finally hit me: that’s his work uniform.
When Fripp puts on the shirt and tie, it’s time to work at his profession. Whether it’s running scales on his guitar in his home, going to a studio to work on an archive recording, or on the road with the band, when the tie goes on, work begins in earnest. I think I need to do something similar.
I have no intention of wearing a tie while I work (though I do enjoy wearing a suit), but something more professional than a t-shirt and shorts will have to be the new norm. After all, I can wear that ensemble on the couch to watch TV. But I won’t lie down in a collared shirt and a pair of khakis. I’ll look like I’m supposed to be working. So that’s what I’ll do. Shower, groom, dress, and go to work. And then create and adhere to a schedule once I arrive in the office. Make phone calls, send emails, organize, listen, and write. What I do from day to day will depend on the “to do” list I have to assemble the night before.
It will be a lot of trial and error, but I will be able to determine 1) What I need to prioritize for that day; and 2) just how long my average work day will be. What time this work day will start will also have to be standardized. After all, I still want to work golf or some other form of exercise into my mornings. And I have to make room to prepare and eat meals.
Getting dressed every day will go a long way toward making this happen. It’s a mental thing, to be certain. But it’s the proper mindset.
Time to call it a day and relax a bit. I am retired, after all.
April 8, 14:56
The Sonic Sanctuary
The afternoon shift begins at CirdecSongs, right around the same time my shift would start at the PD. This is fine, for now. But in the long haul, I will have to start earlier.
Since everyone is being called on to stay home, there are no gigs to concern myself with. In time (I hope), that will change. And concert mode kicks in at around 17:30, depending on where I’m going. Starting my work day at around 13:00 seems ideal, as I can conduct business and write for at least four hours before moving on to the next thing. This also allows me to keep my traditionally nocturnal hours, where I go to bed at 02:00 or so. I can still sleep for seven hours, then get up for some exercise and a meal before heading “in” to work. We’ll see how that goes.
And yes, I bothered to throw a little something on for that 15-foot commute.
Emails to be sent. Sources to hunt down. Quick reviews to write.
Email sent. Reviews written. More listening completed. Time for a quick dinner and viewing a documentary on Bernie.
Dressing for work feels like it’s working.
The work day moves into evening. Dinner was accompanied by watching a Bernie Worrell documentary that Judie doesn’t think much of. Having seen it, I can see why. I’m sure I could go into a lengthy description of the film’s “issues.” But in this case, the less said, the better.
I received a most unexpected call today. The end result of our chat makes me the subject of an interview next week. More on this later.
I put the section about dressing for work on my Facebook page, tagging Robert Fripp in the progress. I just wanted to see how others working from home handled their daily routine. People understood, to be certain, even if not many of them chipped in. I threw a picture of myself in a suit on the post, for the sake of getting my point across. Imagine my surprise when none other than Robert Fripp appeared in my comments thread! “That Cedric Hendrix is one sharp dude,” he wrote.
I’m told his appearance on other’s posts is a rare thing, indeed. Therefore, I am quite honored. I expressed my appreciation to him. Nothing more needs to be said. That was a pretty special moment.
It’s always nice to receive input from the musicians you admire. I see Mike Keneally and Deborah Holland every now and then. Bob Nyswonger has also been known to appear. A few musicians from other bands I like show up now and then, too. The funny thing is, I sometimes don’t know exactly who they are. Which is how on more than one occasion I’ve gone to introduce myself to a musician after a gig, only to get, “Oh, yeah! Nice to meet you! I follow you on Facebook!”
The lesson: the people you’re talking about have been known to pay attention. Do with that advice what you will.
Two more pieces have been touched up, and are ready for release. One of them has been sitting around since October! Yeesh! Well, if ever there was a time to catch up on the archived material …
Time to call it a night. I’m ready to declare today successful. Tomorrow, we shake out the bugs and get the machine moving even faster.
April 12, 22:21
Im getting hooked on my guitars again. It’s a nice feeling. I took yesterday off from writing, and picked up one of my Strats. It was nice to get together again. A major problem I was having with a terrible buzzing sound, but it was fixed by replacing an old cord. Apparently, the repair triggered something.
That feeling carried into today. Both amps came on, opening up fun tones. I found myself looking to learn songs from Prince, Zappa, Funkadelic, the Stones, Springsteen, Radiohead, and The Cranberries. Clean, distorted, acoustic, electric … I was having fun.
Not to make light of a pandemic, but it may have been a little bit good for me. It’s forcing me to re-think what I do and how I go about it, which was much needed given the major changes in my world. I’m cooking a lot more, and it’s looking like I’m getting pretty good at it. Today was chicken parmigiana and a Caesar salad. Not complicated, but I rarely take the time to make things like this.
The coming week is crucial. For the first time, I will be approaching music journalism as my job. I don’t have to worry about rushing so I can get ready for my shift. I’m free to explore whichever avenues I see fit.
I told Judie Worrell I would be taking a week away from Bernie work to stockpile pieces for this page. Now it’s just a question of how much I can get done in a day. The first move each day, I think, will be to take a walk long enough to check out a new record. I can make a few mental notes, then come home and sketch a few words out. Reading music articles, transcribing and editing, social media periods (is like to cut it down to two per day) … this will be a very interesting time, indeed.
April 15, 18:58
The Sonic Sanctuary
I took a couple of days away from everything, not just Bernie. I’m still making adjustments where this whole retirement thing is concerned. I need to come up with some kind of workweek. Going at it day in and day out will not be the correct course of action. Eventually, I will be able to get back out on the golf course. So that should mean a couple of weekdays off, like Monday and Thursday. While the weekenders pack the course, I can be back at home, writing.
I also haven’t figured out just how many hours a day to give this. Still. I’m working on it.
In the meantime, another interview is all but in the can, with three more due any day now. And I have one in the archives I still need to clean up. Perhaps that will be tomorrow’s project. I’m also being interviewed tomorrow. That should be a good time.
Aside from some casual listening, I think I’ve accomplished quite a bit for today. It might be time to knock off and relax.
03:00 and I are getting to know each other a bit too well. I always said I was a nite owl, and now I seem to be making that case. It infuriates me to miss out on the mornings, so I may make a slight adjustment. But things are getting done, so I won’t complaint too loudly. I’ll get it sorted out.
I’m discovering that I am developing a real love/hate relationship with Facebook groups. they are good for getting things out I want fans to know about. But some of the fans themselves … well, let’s just say they’re stuck in some kind of infinite causality loop that causes them to talk about the same shit over and over and over again. It gets boring after awhile.
I mean, how many times can we talk about the same bands and the same records from the same era. I understand some of the people posting might be new to the group, but how about checking the archives before throwing in your two cents on a subject that’s been covered 10 bazillion times? I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
Oh, well. we move on.
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