A Few Days in the Life (April 30, 2020)

April 30, 18:00

The Sonic Sanctuary

I haven’t done one of these in awhile. It’s amazing how fast semi-retired time moves. That’s not a brag. It’s just a statement of what is. One minute it’s 10 in the morning, then it’s six in the evening. And then it’s midnight. Things are getting done, but I wouldn’t mind slowing the world down just a smidge.

I’m sure many would argue that the world has been slowed more than enough as is. I can certainly sympathize with that point of view. “Normal” has pretty much gone out the window. The “New Normal” will still be very odd. Too many people are in a hurry to get back to a world that will never exist again, whether they believe that or not. But there’s nothing I can do about the impatience of others. And so I maintain my current pace, and wait.

I’m typing these words on a new computer. Also not a brag, but rather a statement of unfortunate necessity. I came into my office a little more than a week ago to find my trusted MacBook sitting in a puddle atop my glass desk. A PUDDLE!!! Where the hell did THAT come from? There were no glasses or any other kinds of fluid on the desk. That’s a no-no, for this very reason! Even after asking a few friends in the know, I am largely in the dark. The best guess involves the relatively cool temperature of my office combined with a hot battery and a glass desk. It’s as good a theory as any.

At any rate, I was able to clean the moisture away, and it didn’t return. But my tracking pad was no longer working properly, and I kind of need that. To say nothing of the fact that it’s an eight-year old computer (minimum) and its processor is positively glacial! But I love the feel of the keyboard, and saw no need to rush to replace it now. I was going to wait until early summer, when I start writing the Worrell book in earnest. Alas, my timetable was moved up.

There was another problem: I don’t have two grand lying around for a new MacBook. Yeah, they’re expensive. But they’re worth it. Did I mention that my current model is eight years old? And the one I had before lasted the better part of seven years before my young daughter got hold of it. And I might have used a third of the installed memory on the damned thing. That’s a LOT of meat to leave on the bone! And so, I now type away on a Lenovo I miracled my way into for a fairly reasonable price. My IT-oriented protege from work says I bought a good machine, and I’ll be happy with it. So far, he’s right.

That being said, I’m not done with my MacBook. Rather than buy a new one, I think I’ll have this one overhauled. A new processor, repair to one of the USB ports, a thorough interior cleaning … should cost me about a third of what a new MacBook would cost me, AND I’ll have a computer with a CD drive and my iTunes library intact. We’ll see how it goes.

***

The first of many, many interviews for the Bernie Worrell book is complete. This is one of those “thousand mile journey starts with a single step” moments. There is SO much to do, it’s not even funny. But the good news is, I want to do it! There’s a big difference between that and having to do something. There will days when I feel overwhelmed. There may even be times I’m a little intimidated. But I will never dread this work. No one will have to drag me in to do it. That goes a very, very long way.

Speaking of music, today is International Jazz Day, which would have walked right on by me had I not been working on setting up an interview with Nate Chinen. That jazz has its own day is absolutely fine with me. But since I celebrate music pretty much every day, it never occurred to me to look for its own special day. Next year, perhaps I’ll participate in some of the festivities. Based on the “new normal,” of course. The upcoming interview has me re-reading parts of Chinen’s book in preparation.

May 3, 17:51

The Sonic Sanctuary

Spring is taking another shot at gaining a foothold. It seems to be working out this time. Meanwhile, my sleep patters continue to concern me. I’m sure it’s the marked lack of exercise. There’s something to work on for tomorrow.

Got a call from a former co-worker last night, asking me how I was dealing with retired life. He seemed surprised by my emphatic “no” when he asked if I missed the job, or spent a lot of time thinking about it. And I really don’t. Except today.

Twenty-five years ago today, my 37 classmates and I graduated from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Academy. The thought of retirement was so far away from a group of 38 young men and women eager to make a difference on the streets of St. Louis as its next generation of officers. I believe there are 14 of us left now. We achieved varying degrees of success. But that’s not really the point today. (And in case you can’t find me, look on the right side of the banister, second row from the top, far left.)

Even as I reflect on how eager I was to start back then, I can only re-emphasize to myself how eager I was to be done this year. I had taken this adventure as far as it could go. Sure, there were other things I could have done within the confines of the department, but they no longer interested me. Someone asked me a couple of weeks back if I was really ready to take an early retirement. “I’d hardly call 25 years early,” I replied. I was eager to be done because I’m eager to get on to what’s next. That train is slowly leaving the station, with me aboard. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

I got a call from out of nowhere the other day, asking if I might be interested in a security position. The interview process sounded like a mere formality. That was quite flattering. I’m hoping to be finished with uniforms for the rest of my days, but I know it’s unwise to turn something down out of hand. I reminded the caller of my master plan, said thank you, and I would consider the offer, as there was no rush to accept it. And I was sincere. Life is strange and has a way of throwing endless curveballs. Best to be ready to hit whatever may come across the plate.

Continuing my interview prep.

May 4, 15:55

The Sonic Sanctuary

A mixed bag of a day, though the positive has far outweighed the negative.

A disturbing dream lingers. I was back on the job, working at night. While dealing with a call, a strange woman carrying a chair walked past. I couldn’t reconcile why she was carrying a chair so late in the evening, so I went and engaged her. She dropped the chair and pulled a gun. And I was in the one place I never wanted to be during the performance of my duty.

I called out for help, but no one was available. After taking cover, she continued to fire. I was pinned down. There was only one way out. It was her or me. In the end, it was me. Shortly after, a helicopter arrived carrying one of the last officers I would ever expect to help me. When we went to the body, the impression of the gun was there, but the gun itself was gone. A search led me to a nearby building, where I worked to regain my bearings. My assist was now facing away from me. Before I realized it, a gaggle of people (presumably friends of the woman) were coming up behind him. I tried to warn him with my radio, but I couldn’t get a signal. Not long after, the building I was in was surrounded by more of these people. There was no way out. Nevertheless, I tried to slip out through a window. But I forgot I was a couple of floors up. I woke up before I hit the ground.

Wow.

Dreams are not to be taken literally, I’ve been told. So at least I have that going for me. And my retirement should keep me out of that particular situation. Still … what the hell was THAT about? It’s something I may have to look into one of these days. I’ve often said that my brain could use a DVR. Though I’m not sure I want to see that particular footage again.

My mood shifted quickly when I went to my phone and got into my social media. I quickly learned that I had been name-checked for the second time by Robert Fripp. When one of his fans told Robert it was unnecessary for him to wear a coat and tie while sheltering in place, Robert offered a two-part answer. And I quote:

  1. “Let us defer to the authority of Cedric Hendrix.
  2. “This falls under the heading of Showing Up. In Guitar Craft and the Guitar Circle this would be understood as being ready and prepared for the unexpected arrival of our Friend. Would we be in a position to welcome our Guest?”

I know exactly what he means.

It’s all about preparation and mindset. By dressing “professionally,” a personal preference to be certain, we put ourselves in the proper mindset for what must be handled as we pursue our personal goals. When I put on a collared shirt and vest (sometimes with a tie, like today), I am in “work mode.” All activities are geared toward that aim — be it preparing for/editing interviews, active listening for future reviews, reading headlines and articles, or whatever else I do during the course of the day — are more likely to be addressed directly and efficiently. An idea presenting itself in a more casual setting can be ignored, or missed altogether.

Some people don’t need the extra step in order to achieve their aims. Good for them. No one says they have to get dressed to work at home. But Robert and I seem to prefer it. That way we know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Or something like that.

But more than anything, Robert’s tag provided a dose of validation. I’m not the only person who thinks this way. And the more people I talk to, the less alone I feel. Such an interesting development.

May 6, 15:30

The Sonic Sanctuary 

What a bummer today is. Although I am doing my best to battle through it.

This is supposed to be a celebratory weekend. The highlight was to be my “final roll call” before my fellow officers. It is a rite of passage offered to those about to retire. One last gathering of friends and co-workers to say goodbye before moving on to the next life. But The Bug has rendered that impossible.

Sure, we could all gather together outside, keeping our distance, and shouting whatever it is we want to say to one another. But that just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not an overly sentimental or affectionate person (publicly, anyway), but this was the one time in my life I wanted to enjoy handshakes, high-fives, and hugs. I didn’t think that was too much to ask. The Bug feels otherwise.

I refuse to insist on a gathering of people to celebrate something as trivial as … well, me. Not under these circumstances. Maybe we can make it happen down the road, before I leave town for good. That would suit me fine. But this weekend was gonna be special. Deep down, I knew that. And now it’s gone.

To be certain, there are far greater tragedies in life. But I don’t ask for a lot. At least, I don’t think I do. This thing — this ONE thing — meant a lot. I feel bad for all the high school seniors. That’s an important four years to celebrate, and they’re missing out. Well kids, try giving a quarter of a century of your life to something, and then not be able to celebrate it. I’m not competing here. But I win.

In an effort to shake these blues, I took a walk. It’s something I should’ve started doing weeks ago. Today it was about clearing my head and not eating my feelings, which I’m good at.

My walk took me into the park across the street, which is far from shocking. But I was drawn almost magnetically to the tennis courts located on the far south side. I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I found myself there.

I haven’t hit a tennis ball “in anger,” as I like to say, in more than 20 years. The last time I did, I shredded my shoulder while trying to flatten out my serve too quickly. I tore my rotator cuff and probably my labrum in the process. In typical male fashion, I ignored the pain for quite some time before finally having surgery. Worse yet, I gave up tennis altogether in the process. Probably one of my Top Three All-Time Biggest Mistakes.

I even stopped watching tennis on television. I was done. I figured forever. But over the past year or so, I’ve found myself watching more and more of the game. I missed out on an entire generation of players, and my God, are they ever GOOD!

When I first got interested in the game, it was Borg and McEnroe. Then there was Connors, Lendl, Becker, Wilander, Stefan Edberg (my favorite), Agassi, Courier, and Sampras among others. I loved the “sere and volley” style. No doubt because it suited my ADHD brain, which had yet to be diagnosed. My game was decent. My serve was a weapon. I could actually find myself getting cocky out there now and then.

And then it was gone.

More and more, I find myself thinking about playing again. I’m a long, LONG way from being physically capable. And even then, I’ll NEVER get back to that level. The thought of playing like Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic is laughable. But for the first time, I think I can live with that.

And so I stared at that court, thinking, next year. Maybe. Just a couple of days a week. Just maybe … 

My walk put me in touch with a wonderful album from a jazz bassist named Dezron Douglas. His Black Lion album seems destined for “heavy rotation” at the Reverberation Station.

Another bassist named Michael Janisch also has my attention. There is a LOT of young talent out there. I’m hoping to see most of it in person once this madness runs its course.

May 8, 15:23

The Sonic Sanctuary

The afternoon shift begins. So much to do …

Today’s true revelation finds itself around my neck, in the form of one of the several knit ties I decided to order for my new world. I said before (within these very pages) that a tie would not be necessary, but I’ve come to realize a tie is not just a tie. It has become a symbol of intent. When I put this thing on, I aim to get something done. Calling it “professional” seems a bit silly, because I’m not really getting paid for any of this work. Now now, anyway. But the mindset is necessary, nonetheless.

And so, I will look to order a few more ties and shirts. If anything, I enjoy enhancing my wardrobe. My uniform days, with a little luck, are now behind me.

Giving one of the “talk to text” apps a go as it transcribes my recent interview with Nate Chinen. Obviously, editing will be necessary. But the app seems to be giving the conversation a pretty good go. This will go a long way toward saving the time I will have precious little of as my book deadline nears.

And I can edit yet another interview while this happens.

May 11, 15:30

The Sonic Sanctuary

It is Day One of Chapter Two, aka The Planned New Normal.

The missed roll call ceremony went largely unnoticed. Apparently, I got through all the “feels” the day I cancelled it. Good on me, I guess. In any case, it’s time to move on.

The original thought process was for a party on the 9th, recovery from same on the 10th, and starting full-fledged music journalism work today. The absence of the former does not justify the delay of the latter. So here I sit.

Still trying to determine just how a typical day in this new world plays out. A clearer vision appeared to me yesterday. Luckily, it was not clouded by scotch, which is where I expected it to be. The new plan makes sense, and will be discussed under separate cover.

The Chinen interview has been transcribed, and clips have been edited. It is one of my finer works, which could mean anything. I tend not to enjoy my own work. But I have reached the stage where I can reluctantly acknowledge that something I’ve done has come out pretty well. That’s quite the leap.

And so I sit and listen to the newest effort from Haken, which I will review later in the week. And I begin the extensive search into the next batch of musical exploration. Then I can concern myself with all things Bernie Worrell.

May 25, 15:03

The Sonic Sanctuary

I didn’t mean to go this long between entries. If I’ve learned anything of late, it’s that retirement time is fast time. The days move with lightning quickness, and can easily blend into one another. This has actually encouraged me to embrace a new routine, which features a bedtime. From there, I can create a set day that is almost consistent, though I should be enjoying my workweek a lot more.

Highlights:

It’s been nearly a year since my St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup. I still find it a little hard to believe. Not long after, the team and our police foundation got together to create a commemorative badge, which the department authorized us to wear on our uniforms. While the price was reasonable, I always seemed to have something else to spend my money on. But as part of doing an old friend a favor, my badge was finally ordered. I came off the street before being able to wear it with my uniform, but I don’t know that I was ever planning to do that, anyway. This and a few other items are destined for a special display I will be putting together in the near future.

All evidence a cop lived in my apartment could be found in the second bedroom, aka my office. The closet held all my equipment. Uniforms, body armor, duty belt … everything except my radio and flashlight, which were on chargers in my bedroom. But most of my time was spent pulling things from or replacing things back in this closet.

Last week, I turned everything in. It’s all gone (except the flashlight, which I bought). How strange the closet looked in the aftermath.

I mulled over what to put in that closet in place of my uniforms. As it turns out, my suits fit in there perfectly. My work boots were replaced with my best dress shoes. It truly turns the page on that chapter of my life. And I have no doubt I’m headed in the right direction.

#cirdecsongs

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs)

My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. So sorry you didn’t get the final roll call, but awful glad you made it through to be able to grace us with your writings.
    Congratulations and good luck as you go forward.

    Liked by 1 person

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